Results: I don’t even know what week now

I’ve lost track on this current push to lose 20 pounds. There were two weeks that I was on vacation that I’m not counting because I wasn’t tracking, then I think I’ve been back three or four weeks? The day after I got back I was up 3.2 pounds, the next week after that trip I was down 5, then the next week I was up 2.8, then this week I was down 3.4 pounds.

As I mentioned last week, things are kind of up in the air right now with big changes happening in my life, and last week was an absolute emotional roller coaster that still hasn’t coasted to a stop. I spent most of last week and the week before with a giant knot of stress and worry in my belly. I was not in the least surprised to be up 2.8 pounds last Monday due to the anxiety hormones my body was producing. I’ve heard anecdotally that stress makes the body hang onto water, or something. Plus my birthday was that week and I had some champagne and a cupcake.

Anyway, I think maybe I should stop tracking weeks and weekly change and just track total against my goal. So far I’m down 13.2 pounds – loss continues! My loss rate is slowing as I approach my goal, but also I’m not killing myself with calorie restriction and over-exercising, so I’m not expecting a fast loss. I now have 6.8 pounds to go to my goal. I don’t think I look any different, however my clothes fit again and that is win enough for me – that’s honestly the major thing I wanted out of this!

Looking back through my posts, I started the current push on March 25th, so it’s basically been three months or twelve weeks. That’s a pretty slow rate of loss, but who cares? For something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life, it’s more important that I find and establish a routine that I can stick to and that is adaptable to different situations – travel, weekends, holidays, regular ol’ workdays. When I set up a system that is flexible enough to stick with despite big changes and many different types of days, then all I need to do is live and my body will do what it is supposed to do, and be where I want it to be.

Yesterday I needed a quick workout because I didn’t have much time, and I found this Cardio Bootcamp Boogie workout from my favorite YouTube trainer – 25 minutes, can be done in very little space, and intense enough that my clothes were soaked through by the end. Check it out if you need a quick travel workout (or just some inspiration at home)!

FitBit Flex – Review

I got myself a FitBit Flex a few weeks ago because I won a gift card to a sporting goods shop. So, I don’t have any particular investment in the outcome here as it cost me nothing. But having worn it for a few weeks, I can give you my review:

They shouldn’t call it a FitBit, they should call it a StepBit, because that’s the only kind of fitness activity it is capable of registering. Walking, hiking, and running are great forms of exercise, however many people who work on weight management every day (like me) have a whole lot more in their universe of physical activity than just step-based exercise. For example, that 60 minutes of yoga/pilates fusion that produced rivers of sweat and shaking limbs? Not registered as active minutes. The 40 minutes of metabolic training from which I was sore for three days after? No active minutes. Lifting weights? Nada. An hour-long bike ride? Not recognized. Swimming? Can’t register, not waterproof.

An active person, engaging in a wide variety of exercise adventures, doesn’t need a FitBit, and in fact will only find it frustrating and disappointing.

The only other tracking available with the Flex is the sleep tracking (all other tracking it claims to offer are things you have to input yourself via the app – I don’t need a FitBit for that). While interesting, it’s not telling me anything I don’t already know – when I have a restless night I know it because I wake up feeling tired. Having the FitBit nag me because I only got 6 hours 18 minutes sleep and was restless or awake 32 times isn’t really actionable information.

My husband has had one for a few months longer than me and I asked him how he felt about it. He said he liked it for the silent alarm in the morning so he could get up without waking me. And that otherwise it was only good for sating slight curiosity about how many steps/miles he took in a day. But the miles calculation is only approximate, so that’s not particularly awesome either.

All in all, for anybody who is already accustomed to tracking their fitness life using another method, like I am, or does a variety of exercise regularly, I can’t say I’d recommend a FitBit Flex. For me, it’s not adding anything I didn’t already know or suspect, and the activity it’s incapable of measuring is a significant portion of my regular routine. Would not purchase again.

However, if your only form of exercise is step-based and you think counting them each day might help you challenge yourself to walk more, then maybe? Mine was about $70. I know there are models with more capabilities, but I haven’t used those so I can’t speak to whether or not they’ve figured out how to detect other activity.

Please Stand By…

I was doing great posting lots of updates before but I’m having some big changes right now and not much to report on the weight management front.

The big news is that I gave notice at my day job and my last day will be July 1st. That’s going to be a huge change to everything – my routine, my livelihood, my identity. You name it, it’s changing. Well, I mean, my husband and I are not moving or breaking up or anything, but my job has been a big part of who I am and how I see myself ever since I started working. I’m planning to take some time off and figure out what’s next. And if I want to keep working in tech or do something completely different.

But, a new chapter is coming soon. Two more weeks, then I will need to figure out what’s next.

Maintenance “Swing Range” Numbers

This week in class we’re talking about Emotional Eating – you know, that thing you do where you feel sad, or lonely, or angry, or stressed, and you eat a whole box of cookies and ice cream mindlessly due to that uncomfortable feeling?

Well, emotional eating is not my problem. Oh, I assure you, I have eating problems, but not that one in particular. My problems run more to social eating, opportunistic eating, and portion control. So this module about emotional eating isn’t doing much for me, other than a good reminder. But any time the teacher asks what our particular foods are that we run to for comfort and soothing, I got nothing. Everybody has different reasons for their eating issues, I just happen to have this one under control (although it took years of work). These days when I need comfort I can usually find a non-food method, or eat something that’s allowable under my program (fresh, ripe stone fruits right now are rocking my world).

So instead of talking about that, I’ll give you a snapshot of how my week went on the scale. Last week, it went:

  • Monday: Baseline weight for the week (up 3 pounds from before trip)
  • Tuesday: -4
  • Wednesday: +3
  • Thursday: -2.5
  • Friday: +2.5
  • Saturday: +.5
  • Sunday: -2
  • Monday: +1.5
  • Monday afternoon before leaving for class: +5 (!!!)

This is why it’s generally not a good idea to weigh yourself every day once you’re in maintenance. Once a week is sufficient, because these swings are the opposite of motivational. I mean, yeah, it’s great when you’re down 4 one day, but when you’re up 3 the next and you didn’t go on a binge…it’s kind of infuriating. What’s even more frustrating is on none of those days did I step outside my program. I was doing everything perfectly, and I got wild, ridiculous swings. THIS IS NORMAL FOR MAINTAINING. People think that when you’re maintaining a stable weight you actually have a stable weight. This is not true.

Oh, and last night at class, when I did my official weigh in? Down 5 pounds for the week. Totally unexpected after that mid-afternoon check-in! I’ll take it (although there’s a little voice in my head pointing out that with such a large loss there’s a good chance I’ll have some of it come back next week because it wasn’t “real.” Thanks brain!). Three of that was just my body re-adjusting after the cruise, the rest is solid progress – I’m down 12.6 officially, less than 8 to go to my stretch goal!

What’s your normal day-to-day “swing range” in maintenance? Four to five pounds seems to be mine. Frustrating, but at least I know about it and that it’s nothing to freak out about. Theoretically.

There’s Only One Sure-Fire Program

Something that drives me absolutely batty is knowing how different everybody reacts to the same stimuli, and then watching “experts” recommend the same program for everyone.

The fact is, we’re all working with our own little chemistry lab, and they’re all set up a little bit differently. So when I see somebody make a blanket recommendation that everyone should do “X” diet (keto, Atkins, HGH, HMR, Weight Watchers, etc) because it worked for them, I get a little annoyed.

What worked for you won’t work for me, and vice versa! The sad, annoying, frustrating reality is that we each have to put in the effort, through trial and error, to figure out what will work for our body. I can’t tell by looking at you what will work for you, you can’t tell what will work for me. You have to figure it out, and only you can do that work. I had to figure it out, I’m still figuring it out, and I’m the only one who can do that. Until we have better tests!

Science bears this out – two people can follow the exact same plan and get different results. Enjoy this article about that:

Why do people put on differing amounts of weight?

I might gain three pounds while you lose 5 eating the exact same things! So if anybody tells you they know the magic diet program that will work for everyone, that’s a sign they’re a huckster. It shows how little they actually know about this crazy weight management game. Figure out what works for you, and make it work forever. That’s the only known fix.

Slow Runner Solidarity!

I’m a slow runner. You’d probably call what I do jogging? My friend Denise, another slow runner, calls it slogging – slow + jogging. I’ve been a runner (using that term loosely) for 12+ years now and I’ve never tracked or worked to improve my speed because I couldn’t care less how fast I run. I track my time – I aim to run for 40 to 60 minutes each time, so I can know how much I’ve burned.

But sometimes if you call yourself a runner but don’t care about pace or speed you start to feel a little bit isolated, and maybe like you don’t deserve the label if you’re not trying to go faster. Speed seems to be the only thing other runners care about! Everybody posts their race times, their treadmill paces, how much faster they are going each week! But I still don’t care about improving my speed. I just don’t, because I’m not a competitive person, and I’m not running to win anything.

Therefore I was excited yesterday when a friend posted an article that vindicates all us slow runners!

Slow Runners Come Out Ahead

This article makes me so happy! Finally, a little bit of science shows that what I’m doing is not just ok, but possibly absolutely right! I’ve long felt that if I’m running at all, I’m doing what my body needs me to do. So, friends, let’s get on out there and slow jog! I’ll be the one getting passed by the speed walkers, and I’m ok with that!

Cruising and Weight Management

I just got back from a cruise, a first time endeavor for me and my husband. We did ten days in the Mediterranean, starting in Athens and ending in Barcelona, with a couple of days at each end in those cities, and arrived home late Sunday night.

Here’s what I learned:

-There are healthy options on a cruise, but they are sometimes very hard to find, and some of the menu descriptions can be deceiving, so ask. For example, I learned the hard way that “crisp” can mean deep fried. Ugh. You’re welcome.

-You’re better off doing the seated dining where it’s an option, because a buffet is an invitation to overindulgence. (buffets are my natural enemy in the wild, and I avoid them at all costs whenever possible).

-Food is available 24/7. That doesn’t mean you need to eat it 24/7.

-The quickest way to eat regrettably, and inflate your cruise tab, is alcohol. As always. This is the same on land or sea.

-Air France has the worst airplane food I’ve ever encountered on an international flight, hands down. I wasn’t expecting that!

Anyway, as I mentioned before I left, I didn’t want to gain a pound a day like my pal Rick Steves says can be common on a cruise (aieee!). Nightmare scenario for me!

Here were the strategies I employed:

  1. Don’t snack between meals. This had an unintended consequence for me, unfortunately, because when you eat lunch at noon or 1 and your dinner seating isn’t until 8:15, that’s a very long gap between meals. I normally try to eat every 2-3 hours, and this caused me some headaches I probably didn’t need to have. Due to the complete upending of my usual routine inherent in any travel, sometimes the first sign I’d have that I was hungry was a splitting headache. NO BUENO. Were I to do it again, I would plan in some healthy snacks every few hours, by stockpiling fruit from the breakfast buffet (which I started doing eventually but not at first).
  2. Load up on lean meats and veggies for dinner. Most meal options come with veggies, but also you can order sides of extra veggies. One night lobster was a menu option – YES PLEASE!
  3. Dessert was always a fruit plate. And a fruit plate was always an option on the dessert menu. I took the view of, which of these options would leave me feeling the best? Almost every time it was fruit plate.
  4. SO MUCH WALKING. I definitely got more walking on the days we didn’t book excursions from the boat, because we ended up walking off the boat and exploring the port city all on foot. But, even some (not all, but some!) excursions netted us up to 8 miles of walking, which was a surprise!. (Personal high was about 12 miles the day we explored Athens, all on foot!)
  5. Eat the local delicacy when on shore. Life can’t be all boiled chicken and broccoli, my friends! Pizza in Naples, tapas in Spain, daube provencal in Arles. The walking will take care of it!

I’ve lately been focusing my mindset on fueling my body in the way it wants to be fueled, and that means avoiding sugar. Protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates work best for me, but things like desserts that are pure sugar will leave me feeling sluggish and bloated for sure, so when it came time to choose dessert, it was usually pretty easy for me to pick the thing that would help me feel my best. Somebody in our dinner group commented one evening that I was “being so good” with my dessert selections, and I could honestly say that I just liked fruit better than the other options. I wasn’t trying consciously to be on a diet, I just want to not feel crappy while I’m on vacation!

So…you may be wondering…how did this all work out for me?

Well, last night I went to my class and weighed in up 3.2 pounds, so that doesn’t sound very great, does it?

Unless you know, like I do, that my body always freaks out when I take an inter-continental flight, and that it would take a day or two to settle down.

This morning I weighed in down 3.5 pounds from yesterday. So that means I had a net change of just about nothing. That was my goal. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.