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)!

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What Went Wrong?

I’ve been thinking about the last year a lot recently, to make sure I really understand where things went off the rails so I can fix it. Bear with me while I break it down and do some problem-solving. A lot of things went right though, so I’m definitely going to list those first:

  • Established a solid exercise routine, managing to workout 5-6 days a week.
  • Established a solid weekday eating routine, which kept me within my maintenance calories.
  • Tracked my efforts regularly using MyFitnessPal.

So…that’s a lot that went right! But notice in point number two, where I say I had a solid weekday eating routine. The unspoken part of that is where things went wrong.

It starts Thursday evenings. A group of friends meets for dinner every Thursday to eat delicious food made by one of our friends who is an excellent cook. Thursday dinners are special, but they’ve become a problem for me. After spending most of the week tracking my calories, staying on target, exercising, and generally doing all the right things, my brain wants to cut loose and just eat without thinking, and I do. And then, on the way home after dinner I realize I’ve shot a giant hole in my routine and I feel horrible about it.

Friday during the day I try to get back on track (…mostly)! But Friday evening is often a time to get together with friends and enjoy the weekend, which I would then do by enjoying eating in a restaurant, for example, with friends and not paying strict attention to my intake. Because Friday!

Saturday is a completely different thing every weekend, and the weekday routine I’ve established doesn’t work because I’m not in my weekday location doing my weekday things, so my food options are often limited/different/exciting compared to my weekday food plan. And since I was good most of the week…I’ve been indulging.

Sunday, much like Saturday, can be anything. But by then I’ve pretty much given up tracking my intake and I just want to eat like a normal person and start again Monday.

And that’s been how my week has looked over the last year or so. A large part of it can definitely be attributed to being bored and exhausted with the constant vigilance I’ve had to apply since I started this journey in 2003. I won’t deny it, it’s tiresome to always be vigilant, to always have to run a background routine to analyze my food choices and pick the least damaging one when everyone around me just eats whatever they want. But like I said last week, it’s that or give it all up and accept the downsides of gaining it all back – the sore knees, uncomfortable airplane seats, derision of strangers, disappointment with myself, clothes that don’t fit… It sucks either way. So since I’ve decided to buckle down and fix it instead…

The place where I need to add extra problem-solving, planning, and vigilance is the weekend. And the weekend, over the last year plus, has lasted about 3 and a half days. That’s half the week. It doesn’t matter how vigilant I am for half the week, if the other half is a food free-for-all.

The biggest part of what I’m trying to do with my current push is re-set the behaviors I need to be successful, and my main focus needs to be on weekends. I aim to re-learn the discipline I previously had and that involves making the following commitments:

  • Planning each meal
  • Avoiding foods that don’t support my goals
  • Avoiding situations where I can’t control my food environment (at least in the beginning while I’m re-establishing habits)
  • Tracking my intake

These are the habits I’m going to be focused on these first few weeks. The weekends will be harder for a while, but this is work I need to do, and work I’ve done before. It sucks having to learn the same lessons over and over again, but that’s the reality of long-term weight management.

The good thing is, I know exactly what the problem is and exactly how to solve it!

Blitzing Dinner Party

Today I had new things!

My friend Allie, who inspired me to do the Blitz, came over and we went for a walk then made dinner together – she made a fancy pants entree: Thai-Inspired Spicy Peanut Chicken. I’ve never enjoyed the Savory Chicken HMR entree because it’s one of the most bland meals they have, but this was fantastic! I’ll have to get some so I can make it for my husband.

And I made roasted shishito peppers for her to try, and she liked them! Everybody wins!

I also downloaded the HMR app, which I am evaluating for my purposes. Upside: It already has all the Healthy Solutions shakes/bars/entrees and fruits/veggies data points programmed in. Downside: Doesn’t track calories. Somewhere along the years since I “graduated,” HMR stopped requiring people to count and track them, I guess? This doesn’t really work for me, I like to have the solid data at my fingertips, and that includes tracking calories. So I’d still have to enter everything again into the MyFitnessPal app if I wanted to know the calorie total each day. Or maybe there’s a way in the HMR app and I just haven’t spent enough time with it yet to figure it out? Not sure what to do here, since neither app appears to be a perfect solution to my needs as it stands now. Screw it, I should just go back to pen and paper. That always worked perfectly for me.

Today: 3 shakes, 2 entrees, 9 fruits/veggies, total calories: ~1450. Minus the 670 I burned in physical activity. Looking good!

Blitz Week 2: Strong Start Day

I like to say I had a Strong Start Day, but honestly…today was like every other blitz day. I’m in my rut, and my focus switch is flipped!

I did my DVD workout this morning, which was only 30 minutes of strength circuit training, so this afternoon after I logged off of work I went for a walk. It was not a pleasant walk because I should have eaten something before I headed out and I didn’t, but I finished it. There’s no other option when you’re already out there walking, really.

I cooked this evening! I made sauteed green beans! I sort of followed this recipe, except I left out the scallions because who needs garnish, and I left out the ginger because I didn’t have any, and I substituted a couple squirts of sriracha instead of using a fresh chile, and I only used a shot of Pam instead of 2 tablespoons of oil. And it came out really tasty! I should have boiled the beans a little longer first, I will do that next time. Even with all the substitutions I made, it was delicious and flavorful. I will make it again.

Another thing on my mind today is that thing I always harp on about ignoring the Diet Media Industrial Complex, because they publish confusing, useless articles way too often. This one is no help to anyone. I’m sure the actual study was chock-full of valuable insights, but the reporting on it is abominable. I have to ignore this type of thing, it’s doing nobody any good.

Today: 3 shakes, 2 entrees, 8 fruits/veggies, totaling ~1350 calories, minus the ~660 I burned in physical activity. Looking good!

What’s good for the bust isn’t so good for the belly!

I went for a run on Saturday morning for the first time in months. I think I’ve finally maxed out on the DVDs and I’m bored. I went again this morning, 3 miles in about 45 minutes. I’ve never been fast, but I get the job done.

I’m also back to tracking my intake. Saturday I took my measurements and found an odd thing. My waist measurement has increased by an inch over the last 6 months, but my hips have stayed exactly the same.  Normally when I gain fat, it goes right to my hips, that is where I store it first. But my hips haven’t gotten any bigger. My waist has. My only thought is that all the ab work I’ve been doing has increased my abs. And since I haven’t been watching my intake like a hawk, I haven’t lost any of the fat over them either.

You know how when women start lifting weights everybody says, “Oh, if you work on your chest it’ll make your boobs bigger because the muscle under them will make them stand out more”? Well, my hypothesis is that that also applies to the fat on your abs. If you build your abs, and don’t reduce the fat over them you get…what I have gotten. That’s not what I wanted!

All of which has kicked me into gear to start tracking, reduce my intake a bit (cutting alcohol is easy low hanging fruit I can start with, and avoiding bits and bites throughout the day), and up my cardio. Hence, back to running since I’m bored with my DVDs.

I’ll still do DVDs, they’re great for when the weather is bad. My husband gave me a set of P90X to try, although currently they are throwing an error on the DVD player, so I will have to get that figured out before trying them.

Also: THIS IS MY 400TH POST ON THIS BLOG! VIRTUAL CONFETTI!!!

Focus, Focus

This week I’ve started the Ripped in 30 DVD over again at Week 1. However, because I understand that if you do the same thing for exercise over and over your body will adapt and stop improving, I upped my hand weights from 5 pounds each to 10 pounds each on most of the moves. There are some moves where I have to switch to the 5 pounders (rows, front arm lifts – those are small shoulder muscles), but everything else I’m using 10 pounds in each hand.

I’m doing knees-down pushups, and modifying the side-plank hip lifts with the bottom leg bent and on the floor, but I’m still building muscle nonetheless, if my soreness this morning from yesterday is any indication.

I’ve decided I’ll spend the next 4 weeks doing this DVD again with higher weights and see where I go from there. I still enjoy the other workout DVDs I have, but I’m using them as a palate-cleanser lately – when I get bored with this workout I’ll pop one of those in to switch it up a little. Overall I think these Jillian 3-2-1 program DVDs are the best way for me to pack a full-body workout into a quick 20-30 minute session. That’s a workout that I can find time for every day, and still feel my whole body has been worked over by the end.

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Glamming it up!

I plan to do this kind of workout 4 to 5 mornings per week. This week I’ve done two already and it’s only Tuesday! The best motivator is getting results, and I’m definitely seeing them. My arms, chest, shoulders, legs – let’s just say everywhere. I’m seeing better muscle mass and definition all over.

I’ve also recommitted to tracking my intake on MyFitnessPal. I tend to fall on and off that wagon. Sometimes my food intake is so repetitive and predictable that it’s not really worth noting. Other times I want to get a window into what’s really going on if I’ve let things get a bit lax. I’m putting my workouts in as “Circuit training,” I’m not really sure how else to categorize them.

This weekend my husband and I had a glam evening out with some friends. I was very happy to find that I can still wear my fanciest evening gown – I hadn’t put it on for about a year and a half so I was worried a little! I definitely credit my regular workouts and food tracking to keeping everything in check! It may be boring, it may be repetitive, but it’s effective and it beats the alternative.

AI for Calorie Counting is Coming!

A friend in Sweden just directed me at this story about Google’s research engineers working on an app that can count the calories and nutritional values in your food based on a  photo of your plate.

There’s no word yet on when it might be available (*sigh*), but this Popular Science article gives a little more info about the science behind it and the process that goes into developing the program logic. There will definitely be a ramp-up period while the algorithm gathers data and starts learning and building intelligence, so we may need to allow a burn-in grace period once it’s released before it’s really ready for showtime.

I’m excited about the potential for this new tool, how ’bout you? It seems we’re really living in the future now – bending technology to our real-world needs!