Friday, September 14, 2012

I want a do-over for today

Today has officially been one of the worst days I've had in a long time. I even called my aunt to lament my day.

It started off kinda sucky; I didn't get much sleep last night, and I was down in the doldrums, lonely, and a bit depressed. I decided to shake it off, and go for a walk. Grabbed the leash, and enjoyed a LOVELY walk (which I'll post about separately) with my dog. 40 minutes, very relaxing.

But I walked into a shitstorm when I returned home.

Four missed calls... two from the school, four from my sister in law.

Turns out my youngest was sick, and I'd forgotten my cell phone, so the school wound up calling her when they couldn't raise either me or my husband on the phone.

I managed to catch my SIL before she left work to pick up my daughter, thankfully. I went to the school, to find that my four year old was COVERED in spots!  So, straight to the doctor. Turns out, she had an allergic reaction to her antibiotic! So we had to stop t hat, and start the antihistamine. VERY unpleasant. The pharmacist was a little startled, it was a pretty nasty one.

So, we left the pediatrician, and lo and behold... FLAT TIRE!

Seriously, universe?

I nursed the car up the hill to the Fountain Car Wash, where they very kindly refilled the air in the tire (slow leak, thankfully... I can limp it along till hubby's home).

So, finally made it back home. Called the hospital to check on my husband.

They won't tell me when, but they did say that he won't be home today.

This sucks, because they don't really do releases on the weekend, so at the very soonest, it'll be Monday.

So I'm on my own for the weekend. I was hoping to have a family trip to the Ocmulgee Indian Festival this weekend; I'd even invited some cousins and my aunt. It looks like they probably won't be able to make it. I'm still going... it'll distract the girls, and frankly, me. It's always a wonderful treat. I'll take lots of pictures to share with you guys.  Basically, we have these special monuments here, Indian burial mounds, and every year, several tribes return home to celebrate. There's food, stands, performances... the whole area really comes alive. There's a weird sort of energy; the sound of the drums, resonating off of those ancient mounds. It's very moving, and enjoyable.

We'll still go, and we'll enjoy it, but we'll miss my husband, and my family.

A lot.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Retraining the stress response

Today, my family careened headlong into another family crisis.

I found myself trying to turn to old standbys to deal with stress, and made a conscious effort to redirect that instinctive response. You see, what I tend to do when I'm stress is one of two things depending on my level of stress in a crisis situation.

1) Ignore my own needs to the extreme, including skipping meals and ignoring my body's need for sleep and food.

OR (and more commonly)

2) Head to the nearest fast food restaurant for some high-calorie comfort.

After the girls got out of school, I thought about treating them to pizza, t hen decided that I wanted to make some old comfort food at home... and make it healthier. So we did, and it satisfied them so much they didn't even ask for snacks after. Later that evening, we went to the hospital to take my husband some important things, and headed home.

As I drove back home from the hospital, I starting thinking, "We should drop by McDonald's. A happy meal would take the girls' minds off of this."

Then I realized... holy cow, is that the message I want to send my daughters?  That when you're feeling down, fries and a cheeseburger is the healthy response?

No. I don't. Even though I wanted, with all my being, to hit that drive through for some crappy, barely-qualifies-as-meat burgers, salty fries, and a tea, I made a very conscious decision to NOT stop there. For starters, we'd already had dinner, and it was past the girls' bedtime, so it was time to head home.

So I drove right by McDonald's.  I suppressed my urge to treat them to some Waffle House, too, as we drove by that. Instead, I redirected their tears with a funny story about the dog (who was with us, and his ears flapped in the breeze) flying. They were laughing, and soon I had them tucked in. Instead of a meal, I let them stay up a little later and watch some cartoons (normally a weekend-only treat at bedtime.)

I ate one piece of cheese and a cup of milk to settle my stomach and bring my calorie count up to my minimum, but that's the extent of it. I'm planning on going to boot camp in the morning to release some of this built up tension.

So will I maintain my willpower all week? I don't know. I'm taking this one moment at a time, one urge at a time, but I'm proud of my efforts so far. The last time this happened, I spent the whole time indulging in crap I didn't need. This time, I'm treating my body better, and setting a better example to my kids of how to deal with sadness and stress. And even if I fail, that's okay. This isn't about perfection. I have a lifetime of momentum to overcome. I can only do it one step at a time.

Photo courtesy of BrownGuacamole

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nummy side dish, inspired by my 6 year old

As I mentioned yesterday, my oldest daughter (6) came up with a cool idea for a salad, and as promised, today I made it for her! I've shared the recipe on Sparkpeople right here.

Carrots in spiral slicer

Here's the spiral slicer I used to make magic. I did the carrots with the flat blade, which makes neat little ribbons and chips out of them.

Spiral sliced carrot chips

The carrots, all chipped up and ready to be mixed

Peeled zucchini

Freshly peeled zucchini! 

Spiral sliced zucchini

I use the small blades to make angel-hair-sized zucchini. This mixes great with pasta, or substitutes for pasta entirely!

Veggies mixed in bowl: zucchini, carrots, and tomato

After mixing the carrots and zucchini, I chopped up some very crisp roma tomatoes!

All ingredients combined and tossed in Italian dressing

Added a smidgen of cheese to the stuff (maybe an ounce, total) and tossed with her favorite dressing: Italian! Seriously, ever since her first salad at Olive Garden, it's her favorite. Give her the choice, it'll almost always be italian.  Makes every waiter we meet give a second take.

My 6 year old sampling her brilliant recipe

The mastermind trying her brilliant idea

My youngest enjoying her (dressing free) salad

The youngest (4) devouring her zucchini

Not just attractive, but fun to eat! She wasn't as crazy about the zucchini as she thought she'd be (she likes it better sautéed with garlic and olive oil, the little foodie), but she ate all the carrots and tomatoes, and her little sister ate her non-dressing-version with great gusto! 

Tasty grilled ribs (bone in)

Added bonus: The delectable ribs grilled by my grillmaster husband. And yes, they were every bit as good as they looked. I will say with pride I only ate a small portion of these! 

Personally, I had two bowls of the salad myself (with ranch dressing) and plan to add this to my regular rotation! Without dressing, this salad is about 60 calories. About 100 with dressing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

From the mouths of babes

Today my six year old had a FANTASTIC idea for a dish. I got a spiral slicer a while back, and I've throughly enjoyed it. It's a great alternative to (or enhancement for) pasta. Run a freshly peeled zucchini through it, and you have a light, filling way to get extra veggies. I'm a little low on calories for the day, because of an indulgent breakfast and lunch (new york strip for lunch, and a sausage and cheese mcmuffin for breakfast.)

I tried a little experiment and found that while it requires a bit more elbow grease to make it work, carrots work too! I shredded half a carrot to add to my zucchini for some more bulk and flavor. I sauteed the mixture with a smidge of olive oil and some ground sea salt and garlic. Tossed with some lemon pepper alfredo... it was SO amazing, and filling.

Which brings me to my daughter. She wanted some too, so I served her some mixed zucchini and carrots as well (with tomato sauce.) She had a fantastic idea: Salad!

She wants me to make a shredded carrot and zucchini salad, with tomatoes, cheese, and italian dressing (her favorite.)

How do you say no to THAT?

So I am going to make that for her tomorrow. And there will be pictures!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

When self control is out of control

So the biggest problem I have is eating. I'm good at exercising; I LIKE to exercise! Just now, for example, rather than give in to the fridge-rooting snack attack, I went for a bike ride. Now, I don't often do that... today was an example of a superlative moment inspired by Sparkcoach. It was even less exercise and more fun!

But realistically, the reason I haven't lost more weight than I have is I eat too much. NEver enough to gain weight, really (I tend to naturally eat a maintenance, now that I'm more aware of what I eat) but without a weight-loss deficit.

So I emailed Sparkcoach and asked for some advice, and I really, really like the response I got. Basically, the suggestion was to focus on the one or two foods that I have trouble with. I've noticed that when I eat pasta for lunch or skip breakfast, I tend to make poorer choices later, or I'm more likely to snack.  I love pasta though, so what do I do?

I think what I need to do is focus more on balanced nutrition. Pasta's just fine... it's good for me, I usually eat whole wheat. But by itself, it's not enough to really keep me full. So I'm going to work on always adding a salad,  and heavier amounts of protein to go with it.  I want to up my veggie count; perhaps add a can of spinach to my pasta sauce? I have a good alfredo recipe with chicken, but I can definitely add some more veggies to it. Maybe some roasted tomatoes or peppers.

Yesterday I actually even juiced up my ramen noodle cup by adding a can of peas and carrots to it!

We're a little tight on the budget side right now (I was supposed to get paid Friday, but the labor day weekend means I'll get paid on Tuesday) so I'm struggling to provide food for everyone, much less healthy food for me.

So my action plan is going to be to focus on augmenting or replacing my problem foods (I love zucchini pasta, so I can either mix or replace pasta with that) and then once I have that in order, I need to focus on managing my stress levels. It's dialed up to 11 around here, with school, my husband's health, and the addition of more responsibilities through church (I've temporarily taken up my old job as webmaster while they find someone else), the ramping up of the NaNoWriMo preparation season...  I'm just about ready to lose my mind.

So I want to invite you to join me in a September challenge.  I'm going to focus on one problem area at a time, and eliminating those, so that I can take on the next three months (generally the toughest, most stressful months of the year for me) head on, and get this weight loss challenge in gear!

Photo courtesy of publicenergy

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fifteen Cheerios

I counted them. 15 cheerios, floating around in my bowl.  I spooned them up about five at a time, and dropped them in the trash. Then, I poured the last 1/4 of a cup of milk or so down the drain, rinsed my bowl, and set it on the sink to be washed. 


I measured my cereal this morning. 50 grams of cheerios, 4 oz of milk, and a cut up banana for good measure. It's a magic breakfast, one my mom used to make for me as a child, and it occured to me that it's the perfect post-workout breakfast. Plus, it just plain tastes good. 

Well, I ate my cereal, and then, at the end, with just a few lone cheerios floating around in my bowl, I realized something. 

I was full. 

Now, once upon a time, I'd have eaten those fifteen cheerios. I'd have turned the bowl up, and finished off the milk. Not because I was hungry, but because they were there. 

But now? I'm not a garbage can, and I shouldn't treat my body like it is. So what, it was just fifteen cheerios. That's literally not even enough to register on my food scale. I didn't *want* them! My body was telling me "Hey, I'm full, thanks!" So, I decided that I wasn't going to eat them. I put those fifteen cheerios in the trash... not my stomach. 

Sure, it wouldn't have made a difference calorie-wise. I'm not going to get fat eating fifteen cheerios and a fourth of a cup of milk. But that's not the point. I'm trying to reorder the way I think about food. Food is fuel. I LOVE food, don't get me wrong. I'm a TOTAL foodie... but when my body is telling me I'm done, I have to listen to it, because it's smarter than my brain is.  

So I do. This is a major thing for me. And let's suppose I did this every day for a year, eating those fifteen cheerios and the fourth of a cup of milk. How many bowls of cheerios would I have eaten without having to? 

I challenge you, my friends, to STOP cleaning your plate. Stop treating your body like a garbage disposal. Even if it's just a little, when you're done, you're DONE. Listen, and stop. Don't worry about the minuscule portions left over. Mom and grandma were wrong... cleaning your plate isn't something to be proud of! 

And moms, I know you. You've been known to finish off your kid's plates when they're done, just to keep that food from going to waste, haven't you? I have.  Well, stop it. Remember that your body is your temple, your only one, the thing you need to get from age 0 to your deathbed. You end up wasting the food anyway, because what does our body do with the food you eat that you don't need? That's right. Metabolizes it right into fat for storage. So instead of the trash can, it's on your hips now. 

Stop treating your body like a landfill. It's better than that. YOU are better than that. You deserve BETTER. 

Photo Courtesy lobstar28

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Leading Horses

Most, if not all of us, have loved ones who are not healthy. As we walk our own troubled paths, we crave companionship, especially from those who are closest to us. For those of us who are married, this is often our spouse. Our need for them to be with us is not just about companionship, either; it's also about worry, about wanting them to live forever and be with us forever and be healthy. It's love. 

But what do you DO? 

I've found in my journey thus far that you can't force them. There's no amount of nagging that will make my husband start being healthier. In fact, most people respond negatively to nagging, and will do the opposite just to spite you! 

You can't treat your significant other (or indeed, anyone else in your life who is an adult) like a child, and expect them to thank you for it. 

What CAN you do for a loved one you're afraid of losing to bad health? 

Be there. Do what you're doing. Set an example. If you're the cook, keep making healthier things that accommodate their tastes, while improving nutritional content. I've switched our family completely over to 93% lean ground beef, for example. We were at the grocery store the other day, and my husband saw me get it, and he said "Trying something new? I thought that stuff was dry." I smiled and told him we'd been eating it for months. 

I've bought low-sodium ham. I keep fresh, raw veggies on hand for snacks for the kids. I talk about the things I'm doing. I mention that I want to start making our plates based on the government food plate. Never do I tell him what he needs to do. I talk about what *I'm* doing. 

And it's working. As time progresses, he is starting to be more aware of his choices, and is slowly but surely making more healthy ones. At a buffet, he still goes for nothing but deep fried veggies, fries, and brown things (seriously, the whole plate will be brown) but he's more likely to add veggies when he's cooking, or eat them first, and he's trying to get more exercise. 

One change that I have made? I buy him 2% milk. He drinks a lot of milk, and it's healthier for him. He asks me specifically to get him whole milk sometimes, and I do when requested, but absent his request, it's 2%. At a minimum, every other gallon is 2%. 

The other day, we were at the store together, and it was time to get milk. The last gallon was 2%. He looked at the whole milk. Then glared at me. And picked up the 2%. 

He knows. ;) He's a big boy. But he has to make the choice to be healthy. I can't make it for him. Through my example, I'm helping to slowly change his environment, but in the end... he has to make the move to good health. He knows I'll pay for a gym membership if he wants one. But until he's ready... he won't take it. And I'm okay with that. I can deal with waiting patiently, as long as eventually we're on that road together. 

Will we be riding bikes together or lifting weights together? I don't know. I hope so, though it's a slim hope. 

But I'll be happy to see him choose some green veggies at the buffet one day. :) 

Photo courtesy of Canadian Veggie

Friday, August 24, 2012

So unbelievably sore.

So yesterday at boot camp, our trainer really put us through the wringer. First, he told us to put 10 lb weights on our barbells. (Most of us do 7 1/2 or smaller, normally. Everyone in there was used to doing more than 5.) 

Then we went into crossfit mode. 

I don't know what it's called, but basically we deadlifted, then went into an overhead press. Did that for a minute. I didn't do a full overhead press; I've figured out that's how I hurt my shoulder, and I'm NOT risking further injury now that I can't go to the doctor. We combined that with 5 pushups. did it again. Five times. 

Rested for a bit, then went outside and ran around the building, combined with mountain climbers. then around the building. 8 times. Back in the building, squats with barbell. Then mountain climbers. It was basically bull-blown circuit training. 

It just... FRICKIN HURT. I actually felt really good at one point after he demoed the exercise, and then used ME as the example of proper form! I was doing it perfectly, he said. That really made me feel good. 

Anyway, today my thighs hurt SO much. Every time I stand, it's murder. But it's a GOOD pain... not the pain of "ouch I've pulled something" but good old fashioned DOMS. The good thing is that my shoulder doesn't hurt at all; my suspicion about the exercise that caused my injury has apparently panned out, and my modifications worked. I might be able to heal this thing on my own. I hope. 

I didn't eat well today; ate a bit too much at the cheap pizza buffet. I did eat an enormous salad, though, and opted for the whole wheat crust white pizza, so while I overate, I overate on relatively healthy stuff.  I just did the math on my overeating. *I still ate at maintenance!* not even 2,000 calories. I didn't track beforehand, but I made the right choices, so that though I went over my range, I still stayed in maintenance range!

I've been VERY busy today otherwise. It's beta test launch day on NaNoWriMo. Wrangling a ton of beta testers, manually promoting them, and fielding questions, it's been very meticulous and busy. I am very blessed with fantastic volunteers and co-workers, though; it's a labor of love! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Do unto others

Lately, I've discovered something about myself that I *really* don't like. It's a terrible habit, and one I absolutely must stop. 

I'm very critical of other people's weights. While I never, ever say anything to anyone, and would never attempt to hurt them, I still *think* it, and often say something to my husband about it in private. It can be as simple as commenting on how a certain celebrity has added a few pounds, or how one of my own friends has just "let herself go." 

It's UGLY. It's nasty, and it's NOT ME. I don't do that. It's doubly hypocritical because while I'm healthy and active now, I've gone for 6 years and more being unhealthy, lazy, and FAT. Did I get "that big"? No. That was honestly more luck than some kind of superior personality trait. 

It's worse when I see a parent with an overweight child. The thoughts that go through my mind are usually something along the lines of "how could you do that to your kid?" You know, because I have slender, active children, I'm a better mom than they are. 

Except for the fact that I have slender, active children *in spite* of the fact that I'm overweight and lazy. They have watched me eat like a pig and sit on my butt their whole lives. I'm very blessed that they listened to what I said, instead of following what I did. That's not me being a better mom, that's me being incredibly blessed with good luck. 

Slender people aren't immune from my scathing glares, either. Someone who is slender but clearly "weak" or unfit gets the same derision, because I lift weights and they don't. They're not immune because they're skinnier than I am... in fact, I'm more harsh, because they're lucky to be slender, and they're wasting it on higher body fat percentages and laziness. I resent them for squandering what they have. I always think, "They'll figure it out when they get older and their metabolism slows down like mine did." It's so rude and unfair. It's petty, and nasty. 

I don't like this part of myself. Even if I never breathe a word of it to these people, it's not okay for me to think these things. Because they're not true! I'm not somehow better than they are because I woke up and started doing something. When I was a teenager, I was those people. I was naturally active, but I ate terribly; it wasn't unusual, for example, for me to come home after school and grate myself HALF A BLOCK of cheese. For a snack. 

I have been the soda-swilling, cheese-burger chomping fat girl. So I didn't get to be 220. Or 250. Or 300. That doesn't mean I'm better than someone who DID get that weight. It just means I was blessed with an awareness before it got too bad, and even then, I've struggled so hard with my own willpower. I should have lost MUCH more than I have, but my own snacking and lack of ability to say no to myself when I want something has sabotaged me again and again. 

I've made great improvements in my physical and nutritional health. I eat SO much better than I ever have. NOw, I think it's time to make some improvements in my mental health. 

Instead of tearing people down in my head, I'm going to start building them up. I can't stop myself from noticing weight, it's a part of my everyday life and I think about it a lot, but I CAN stop myself from being nasty and crude about it. I don't have to revel in my own imagined "superiority" anymore. 

I KNOW how hard it is to get started. I spent more than 6 years sitting and wallowing in that self-loathing that comes with being anything other than perfect. I know what it's like to stare at that plate of food I shouldn't eat, but I can't stop myself. So I don't binge on sweets. But I've gone to Krispy Kreme and devoured three donuts in less than a minute, just because I "deserved" it. I've been there when I threw caution to the wind because I went over my calorie range and figured I might as well blow it to hell and back. 

So I want to say I'm sorry. To every one of you who had the nerve to be alive and have imperfections and issues. Because I've been a complete ass. I may never have seen you on the street, personally, but you here represent all those people I've been so judgmental of. None of us are here because we're perfect people with no problems. We ALL have weight issues, we ALL struggle with being healthy. I have no right to be so judgmental, and you don't deserve it. So accept my apology in lieu of those here in my own hometown, for my stupidity and jealousy. 

And walk with me as I commit to shelving such attitudes and being a more positive, loving person. Because no one deserves abuse, even if it's just in someone else's head. 

Image courtesy of Tobyotter

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just who is this crazy redhead, anyway?

Obviously, I'm a mom and a wife. I have 2 kids, 3 cats, and a dog. I like to grow basil.  I have a cherry tomato plant in my yard that looks like it's drunk but makes the best tomatoes I've ever had. I have a disabled husband, and suffere from a severe case of Uber Lazy myself.

I am a writer, though lapsed. I love words, and have an above-average vocabulary and excel at communication through written means. I'm no slouch at public speaking, either. I'm a community moderator (not here on Sparkpeople, though I wouldn't turn down the job if offered.)

I'm a dilettante who knows a little about a lot of things, but a lot about very few things. Those things I know a lot about though, I tend to get a little obsessed with from time to time.

I am mercurial; I tend to be very positive as a general rule, but I have a mean bite, and can turn cranky at the drop of the hat. I'm always willing to admit when I'm wrong, though, and have apologized for many a foot-to-mouth insertion. I have made friends of enemies.

I love tea. A LOT. I am a regular at a local British tea room, and am trying to get as many friends as possible to join me. My favorite teas are white and herbal, particularly chamomile.

Exercise-wise, I prefer group classes for motivation and camaraderie, and gravitate to boot-camp style classes. I can't stand Zumba, though I'm a big fan of kickboxing.  I hit harder than my husband, and no longer have trouble opening pickle jars. I will, however, fake it now and again to keep my husband feeling like he's needed. ;) I have rediscovered my age-old love of biking. In college, I would ride 20+ miles per day, since I had no car. I am an avid but terribile runner, and will probably never run more than a 5k now and again.

I'm a bit of a spendthrift, and love to drop silly money on microtransactions in worthless games on my computer. I love toys... I have an android tablet, an iPod touch (my second, I lost the first), and a prepaid dumbphone that I would very much like to replace with an iPhone. I'm a gadget-a-holic.

My favorite foods are lemon pepper chicken alfredo, everything bagels, and steak. I'm majorly addicted to cheese, although I'm mildly lactose intolerant.  At any given time, there will be 5+ types of cheese in my fridge. Right now I have Philadelphia 1/3 less fat cream cheese, sweet basil formaggio, mozzarella, Sargento colby jack ultra thin slices, sharp cheddar, and Laughing Cow swiss wedges, and I will eat every last bite of every one of them.  I drink 2% lactose free milk.

And last, but certainly not least, I love dragons.  I've used the handle "Dragonchilde" since 1997, when I discovered the world of online communities in college.  I plan to get a dragon tattooed on my shoulder. I used to be afraid of pain, but having two kids with no pain medications pretty much removed all fear of that.

And that's me. So who are you? Enquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Don't talk to yourself like that!

Words are POWERFUL. 

"Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me." 

If I could find the person who came up with that nonsense, I'd go back in time and assassinate them. Those 13 words are the most damaging, destructive words ever uttered, which is even more ironic given their intended meaning. Broken bones will mend, but words leave marks that never heal. 

Words define us. They create our minds, express our thoughts, make us see people in different ways. Words can tear down the greatest monarch, or build up the smallest child. 

If you tell yourself over and over that this is a bad day, and it's just going to get worse... it will. 

Tell yourself that this is just a blip on the screen, and it'll all be okay... it will. 

Tell yourself you're ugly, and others will see you that way. 

Tell yourself that you're fat, and you are. 

Tell yourself that you're going to be healthy, and you're going to start marching down that path to health and living well. 

Tell yourself that you're beautiful, no matter your size, and you will start to feel and look better in your own skin. 

I am overweight. But I look in the mirror, and I smile. Though I'm not even halfway to my goal yet, I feel GREAT. I look so amazing compared to the way I did this time last year. There isn't even a way to compare the two. 

If I found my daughter calling herself ugly, I wouldn't tolerate that. She's beautiful, no matter what she looks like, and I won't hear her talk that way about herself. I wouldn't let anyone else talk that way about her. 

If I won't let someone else call my daughter names, why should I let anyone else? I'm worth just as much as she is. She came from me, after all! She had to get that worth from somewhere. I'm someone's daughter. My mom wouldn't tolerate anyone calling me names. She loves me! It can be hard for us to love ourselves, but if you want to succeed, it's time to learn. 

Stop calling yourself names. Don't abuse yourself. Think in positive terms. I know, it sounds cheesy and new-age-pop-psychology. But it's true. Negative thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I told my husband today that if he kept insisting that this was a terrible day, and it was just one bad thing after another, it was going to be a bad day. 

Stop taking abuse. Don't take it from your husband. Your mother. Your best friend. From YOU. 

You are WORTH MORE than that. You are not fat. You are NOT gross. You are NOT ugly. 

You are you. You are worth the time to be healthy. You are worth the effort to be fit. 

Find words to describe you that aren't tearing you down. Need help? Ask me. I'll find some for you. I'm good with words. I like them. I know a LOT OF THEM.

Here, let me start you out: 


Monday, August 6, 2012

Exercise makes my whole day better.

Getting to the gym for a workout sets me up for a successful day from right in the beginning.

It gets me up early so I'm available to do the things I need to do. I'm a night owl by nature, and am happiest staying up until 3 AM and sleeping until 11 AM.  This is not, however, conducive to productive daily living.  When I go to the gym, I'm back home by 10:30 at the latest, and ready to work. Often, I'm home earlier than that and get more done before folks at HQ are even awake (I'm on the east coast, and work for a company on the west coast.)

It makes me more likely to make better decisions later.

I eat better. I'm not going to come home flush from a workout and stuff myself with sugary cereal or junk food. I'm going to have a protein shake, or make myself some turkey sausage.  It also makes me more mindful of the things I put in my body so that I'm refueling properly.

I move more. I'm more likely to do something active AFTER a gym workout than before.  Today, I rode the half mile to the nearby Fred's on my bike, instead of driving.  No reason not to, and I was already awake and functional. Lately, I've been driving to the store.

I sleep better at night. When I'm active, I just plain sleep better. I sleep more quickly (normally I'm up for an hour or more trying to fall asleep) because I've used my body, and it has more need of the rest.

I hurt less. The less I move, the more I hurt. My back will start aching from poor posture, my joints start to hurt from the arthritis (I'm only 33.)   In short, exercise makes me just plain feel better.

I'm in a better mood. This means I yell at my kids less, they behave better, I snap at my husband less, and overall, this whole family is happier.

If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

I love to move. I love exercising. I love being active. I never want to stop!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August the First: Reboot

So, it's no secret that this entire summer has kinda sucked for me. I've been terribly inconsistent with my workouts, and in fact, haven't been more than once a week in two months. Very uncool. Part of it is that without the motivation of having to take the kid to school, I just don't like to get up in the morning. I work from home, so I set my own hours. I'm NOT a morning person. So given my druthers, I stay up late, and sleep in. I've been out of sorts emotionally, physically, and mentally. 

I have done well with my eating, so that I've lost some, though not as much as I'd like. 

But, in order to get back on track, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon, and make some goals for August. You guys are going to make me feel guilty if I don't. :) 

So, here's my goals for the month. 

1) I will walk three times a week with my family. With my husband off his meds and my kids getting unfit, we need to make this a priority for all of us. Some of it's understandable; I mean, the average temperature this summer has hovered over 100, so it's been tough to get them to go outside and play. But still, there's no excuse for them getting worn out after a half a mile of walking Monday! 

2) I will go to the gym 3 times per week. I'm paying for the membership, I'm going! I miss my classmates and trainers, honestly. 

3) I will ride my bike 3 times per week. I love my bike. I love riding it. It's not even exercise, to me, it's fun! This will be my me time, my enjoyment time. 

4) I will write 1,667 words a day every day all month for Camp NaNoWriMo. I didn't write a thing during June's camp, so I'm going to do it come hell or high water. 

All doable. What are YOUR goals for this month? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

It's starting to affect my kids!

As anyone who reads my Sparkpage knows, I'm here because I have two small children, now 6 and 4, who look to me for their healthy habits.  I realized that while I was really good at teaching them about healthy choices (my oldest has been making her own healthy choices since she was 4) I wasn't LIVING what I was preaching... they watched me sitting at the computer all day, snacking constantly, overeating, and not exercising.

So to demonstrate healthy living to them, I started living healthier.

Today, I just had a powerful example of how my philosophy is starting to affect them.

After a binge-y day yesterday, I've determined that if I snack today, I will eat healthy, and I'm trying to fill myself up with veggies.  I made a ham lavash wrap (cheese spread, low sodium ham, red leaf lettuce, and wrap) and had carrots with it.

Afterwards, I was still hungry, so I grabbed the bag of baby carrots, and have been sitting here munching on them.  They're a rather good batch, and it was hitting the spot.

Well, first my 6 year old snuck up and grabbed a carrot, and ran off, giggling.  I mock-glared at her, demanding to know who told her she could steal my carrot.

So, the little one ran up, and grabbed one too!  She shoved it in HER mouth, also giggling like a maniac.

Then my 6 year old came back, and has been standing here next to me eating carrots.  They've been tag-teaming, and we've almost killed the whole 1 lb bag.

That, my friends, made me smile. And now I'm full, stuffed to the brim with yummy fresh carrots, and my kids are still snacking post-lunch on raw veggies.

That's why I'm doing this.  THAT is why I'm on this journey in the first place. Not to look good in a pair of pants (though that's an awfully nice side benefit), not to wear a bikini, not to make my high school friends jealous, or even to be able to claim that I exercise regularly, or anything to do with me.

It's because of those two little girls, who are going to be battling the entire world around them for their very lives, suffering an onslaught of conflicting images of high-calorie, low-nutrition yummies at fast food restaurants and rail-thin magazine models, too much screen time, sedentary friends and more.  I think they're getting a pretty damn good start, and I don't think I'm tooting my own horn here.  I'm focused 100% on teaching them healthy body images. I focus on my strength, not my weight loss. Eating healthy, not denying myself good food.

And I think I'm blessed enough to be starting early enough that I can undo the damage I've already done with my past lifestyle, and start this journey to healthy living TOGETHER with them. I will get to see them grow into healthy, happy adults, and fight back against the world that is doing it's best to kill them.

Slaying dragons? Child's play. This, this is hard.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Afraid of the bathing suit?

Are you afraid of your bathing suit? 

I think for the vast majority of us, our bathing suits are a major worry zone. It's a high-stress purchase, and many of us flat out refuse. 

Today, I went to the beach. And I want to tell you something I found interesting. Do you know how many perfect bodies I saw while I was out there? We were there from about 1:30 PM until 7:00. 

Zero. Zilch. Nada. There were a few who were slender-ish, but there were no perfect bodies, and in fact... almost everyone was overweight. Two pieces and all. Even those who were slender had bubble butts, or little pooches, or scars, or stretch marks, or any other number of flaws that appear on real, non-airbrushed bodies. 

It was refreshing. There was no need for me to be concerned about my pooch... because there were tons of people there as large or larger, and all that mattered was we were there with our friends and family, having fun. 

So don't be afraid of your suit. You're not some freak of nature, and you won't be the only imperfect one there. In fact, those perfect people? They're in the minority. As in... they don't exist. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not only do I feel stronger, I look stronger.

Part of my weight loss journey has been the discovery that I love to lift weights. It makes me feel so powerful; I don't bother with those stupid little 2 and 5 lb girlie weights (although I do own a single purple 5 lb hand weight, I don't use it) anymore, I lift as heavy I as I can!

It's paying off. Not only do I look better than I did (and honestly, though I've lost 21 lbs, thanks to the strength training, I look like I've lost more!) but I feel amazing.  I love the burn... my husband thinks I'm nuts, but I really do love that rolling burn that slides down your muscles after finishing a particularly tough set.

And it's starting to show. I mean REALLY show! Yes, my definition's a bit pillowy yet, but it's real definition... the fat's going away, and I'm starting to look powerful, not just feel it.

Wow. Thatsalotta freckles. ;)

I wear more sleeveless shirts now, because I'm PROUD of my arms!  I don't have to hide in enormous t-shirts anymore.

Do I still look pregnant? Not anymore. I haven't had anyone ask me when I was due in a while. I still have tummy fat... quite a bit of it. I'm not quite halfway to my goal weight. But having visible reminders of the fact that I AM doing something for my body, something GOOD? Helps. I'm not hanging my hat on the scale. This is a non-scale-victory, a NSV.  The NSVs are more important to me than what the scale says. If I look good in my skin, feel good, and have the confidence to be in public?

THAT is what matters.

Tonight, I'm going for a run. Not because I need to, but because I want to. I never thought I'd feel like actually running for fun, but I do tonight!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Change your way of thinking

It's funny how we get ourselves into a rut. We think about doing things one way not because it's the best way, but because it's what we're used to. We run the same path, we do the same exercises, we eat the same things, drive the same way to work... everything we do is habitual.

Right now, it's 82 degrees in my house. It's 90 something outside. I wanted to go for a run, but frankly, it's just too damn hot, and I don't want the sun in my eyes anyway.  So I was wallowing on the couch, hand over my eyes (no, seriously. Completely like the melodramatic stuff you see in the movies.) Moaning about how I wanted to run, and couldn't.

"Honey?"  My husband comes in the room.

"WHAT?" I snap crankily.

"What's wrong?"

"I want to run, but it's too hot. I wish I had somewhere to go running inside."

"Don't you have a gym membership?"


"You know, gym? Treadmill?"

I stare at him like he's grown an extra head.

The funny part? I go to a gym a couple miles down the road for my classes, but the company recently bought a satellite location close to my house.

How close, you ask?

.25 miles. No, that's not a typo. I can actually get there in less than 5 minutes, on foot, without crossing any streets. As the crow flies, it's probably like .1 miles.


I didn't think of it, because, well... I don't run inside. I like to run outside. In my defense, I was thinking of something like an indoor track. But I want to run, and I have access to a gym. With treadmills.

So after my meeting here in a minute or two, I'm going to go to the gym, and run in 90 degree weather. On a treadmill.

So when you think you can't do something, or you're in a rut, try thinking outside your self-defined box. Maybe you'll think of a solution you didn't before. Maybe the answer is staring you in the face. Talk it over with someone... even someone who isn't into the things you are. Maybe they'll think of something you didn't.

Like that gym membership you haven't used in a week.

Have I mentioned I love my husband?

Photo by FindingFlora

Sunday, June 17, 2012

If nothing changes? Nothing changes.

I've mentioned my aunt before; she's an amazing lady, smart, successful, and healthy. She made a conscious decision some years ago to get well and truly healthy, and for the most part, she does a damn fine job of it.

She's the source of my favorite quote: "Be inefficient." It's one of her lifestyle philosophies. Basically, it means, stop doing things the easy way. Sure, it's quicker to drive half a mile to the store for a can of soup... but by being inefficient, you can take a more healthy path, and walk or ride a bike. You part at the far end of the grocery store parking lot, instead of right by the door. Things like that.

She has another saying that's one to live by:

"If nothing changes? Nothing changes."

This one's pretty self explanatory, but it's one that most people don't see to get deep down.  Basically? It means that if you do the same thing all the time, how can you expect anything to be different? It applies to all portions of your life. If you sit on your butt day after day, nothing can get better.  You won't lose weight. You won't get more money. You won't stop being bored.

So if something's not working... you need to shake things up. With respects to exercise, this is actually  a pretty effective means of plateau busting. As your body gets used to doing something the same way all the time, it gets more efficient at it... and burns fewer calories. That makes it less effective.  If you go out right now, and walk 2 miles three times per week at the same speed... eventually, you'll stop burning as many calories.

So, nothing changes.

The same goes for diet. If you're constantly dieting, and it's not working... nothing will change. Why would you keep doing the same thing over and over again? Stop dieting!

So if you're stuck, try something new.  Switch up your exercise routine. Try a different calorie range. Eat more. Measure.  Stop eyeballing. There's thousands of new things to try... try them!

After all, if you don't do anything differently? Nothing will change.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Zombies, Run! + C25K Free = Perfect Combination?

The zombies are coming for you!

If you haven't heard about Zombies, Run! yet, and you're a runner (or a walker) then you need to go right now. It was recently released for Android, and also works very beautifully on iPhone and iPod Touch. I run it on my iPod Touch, since I'm not quite wealthy enough to own an iPhone. ;)

I've been walking on and off with Zombies, Run and frankly, I love it. It's good motivation. You get to listen to your own music, interspersed with tidbits of story from your mission.  The premise? It's after the zombie apocalypse, and you are a runner working for Abel Township. Obviously, with fuel at a premium, it makes more sense to send runners out for various tasks! You're uncovering the mystery of the zombie apocalypse, learning about your town, and more.  While you run in the real world, you pick up supplies in the game, which can then be used to build up your town and unlock more missions.

The really fun thing about this is that it's not just an audio book you run to... if you're lucky, you'll get hit with a random zombie chase!  You have to speed up a certain amount, or get caught by the zombies and have to drop supplies to escape them (you don't die.)  I've never had a random zombie chase. At first, that was an iPhone-with-GPS-only feature. They've released accelerometer chases for those of us not blessed with a GPS... but I think you have to run at least at a certain speed to trigger them, since I usually walk it, since I haven't experienced one yet.

Now, since I started running again, I haven't been using Zombies, Run as much, because I'm following a Couch 2 5k program, and need audio cues, since trying to stare at my watch and time it is... hard.  I'm just not that coordinated.  I downloaded the C25K free app, which lets me play my music and tracks the intervals I need to run with an announcement.

I discovered that C25K Free runs in the background!  This means that I can use Zombies, Run, and still use my C25K to actually run.  I did a quick test here in the house, and while the audio from the C25K app, is quiet, it lowers the volume on the Zombie app, so I can hear the cue. I don't need to understand it, because it's pretty obvious... if I'm running, the cue is to stop running, and vice versa.

After giving it a quick, five minute indoor test on my couch, it's time to break out the armband, and give it a real try while actually running. This will be my first time actually running with Zombies, Run. For me, it's been Zombies, Walk. I'm assuming these aren't very fast zoms.

Anyway, I generally run at night; it's quieter, and in the heat of south Georgia... much cooler. We're talking 73 vs 85 here!  I grabbed my dog's leash, started Zombies, Run and hit the start button on the C25K app.

Overall, I think it worked well as a combo.  The only problem is that the announcements for C25K are VERY quiet... difficult to hear over the music from Zombies, Run.  There were a few moments of confusion when the announcement for items picked up muted the music a bit, so if I had any tip for you, it's to turn off the item pickups. That way, when the sound mutes, it's to announce a run or a walk.

I didn't miss any cues, though, and completed my run successfully! The app also pops up a message when in background mode on the screen, which was a visual cue for me in the dark. I'm still not sure how fast you need to run to trigger random zombie chases; even though I was running for a minute at a time, I was unable to get one.  I'm probably not running fast enough, and well... they do say that accelerometer mode is in experimental stages!

I completed this run much more easily, because I was enjoying the narrative/music of the game without constantly checking the app. I think I'll continue to use these in conjunction. I wish I could turn the volume up on the C25K app, but for a makeshift solution until Zombies, Run implements their kickstarter-promised C25K options themselves, I think it will serve nicely.

Photo courtesy of savageblackout.

But I need a workout buddy!

Boys exercising at Hiawatha Playfield, 1911

You know, I hear this a lot. I used to be the queen of this. I wanted to work out, and I knew I always do better with a friend. A few years back, I did kickboxing for a year, and loved it... I had a friend talk me into it, and we kept each other accountable. I loved having her there. 

So this time, when I was getting ready to make the change, I kept trying to nag my friends into joining me. I didn't want to do go by myself, because I know myself... I thrive on the social interaction! 

One day, though, I stepped on the scale. 

Two hundred and eleven pounds. 

I decided that day to go join a gym. I'd seen some signs for a local one just down the street, offering a two week trial for $14. I figured $1 a day was worth a try. 

So I started going. BY MYSELF. It was scary. I wandered around, a little confused and aimless, trying this or that weight machine. Hating myself as I walked on a treadmill. 

Then I noticed the gym offered classes. 

Fast forward 8 months. 

Now, I have friends I work out with. They text me when I don't show up, talk about their lives to me. I didn't make them go, I met them there! Instead of waiting for someone else to start my lifestyle change, I relied on myself, and the thing I wanted happened. I made friends, instead of bringing them. I still try to get my friends to come with me, but I'm not waiting on them to make my life better. 

And you shouldn't either. If you can't get a friend to go... go alone. Make new friends. 

Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I lift heavy

Someone posted this really great article in the Fitness forums, and I have to say, I agree with all of it.

Not long ago, I posted a blog on Sparkpeople about overcoming my fear of truly lifting heavy. But I never really explained why I want to.

Too many women are deathly afraid of weights. They've gotten into the myth of "low weight, high reps" for "toning" instead of "bulking up."

Which is unfortunately for them, a TOTAL myth!  Women as a general rule, just can't bulk up.  It's not in our genetic makeup! We're built different from men. And surprisingly, even men don't bulk up that way easily. It takes a LOT of hard work... hours and hours of lifting like a body builder, eating at a massive calorie surplus, taking supplements, and seriously trying. You can't accidentally bulk up by picking up 10 lb weights instead of 3!

The guy who teaches my boot camps, for example? I've seen him lift weights.  He lifts so much that he has to use a special device to keep it stable in his hands so he doesn't lose control of it and drop it.  He's far from huge! He's lean and cut, and has a very low body fat percentage, but he isn't bulky, in any sense of the word!  And he's a dude!

I lift heavy because I want to be strong. I will likely have broader shoulders than most women, because I'm built that way... while I have a small bone structure, I'm a tall woman (5'7) and curvy.  I will never be 130 lbs... and frankly, I don't want to be. When I was a teen, I was proud of the fact that I was heavier than I looked... 145, because I was STRONG. Muscular.

I want to be able to pick up heavy things. Not need help opening pickle jars. I want to have the strong muscles of a powerful woman.

I love how lifting heavy makes me feel.  Is it as heavy as some people? Not yet.  I'm getting there. But it's a study in opposites to look at the others in my classes. Where I'm lifting 25 lbs (two 10 lb weights on a 5 lb dumbell) they're lifting 15, or 10... or less!  And they have been for MONTHS. I know these people; they're friends and comrades, and they have been lifting this way for a long time, so it's not a matter of not being able to, yet.  But I have noticed something since I started ignoring the 7 1/2 lb weights for the 10s.

More people graduated from 5 lb weights to 7 1/2.

Is it because of me? I don't know. I'd like to hope so. But if me lifting heavy in a group Body Blast class inspires a classmate or two to go a bit more challenging... then that's okay with me. :)

Justification Station

One of the things I've noticed when I talk to my friends now is that for some reason, they all seem compelled to tell me why they can't be healthy, or why they're not trying. It's like my mere presence is enough to make them feel guilty, and they've got this idea that I'm judging them or something. So they whip out all the justifications they can. 

I went to a friend's daughter's birthday party and a local fun center. Now, all of my friends are overweight... I mean all of them. And having seen their fridges and how they feed their kids (and themselves) it's easy to see why! 

I'll mention having just come from the gym, and they're like "I've thought about joining, but I don't have anyone to go with." 

There's one girl in particular who does this EVERY time I talk to her. She simply won't go on her own. 

I used to be that way. I stayed fat a long time because of that very excuse. I didn't want to be alone. But you know something? If you rely on other people for your motivation, they WILL fail you. This isn't a matter of if. It's when. Your health isn't a priority to anyone but you, and when your buddy doesn't go, are you really willing to skip out on being healthy because her life is busy? 

So I stopped making excuses. Literally, at the drop of a hat, I made the rash, un-thought-out decision to join a gym. By myself. Without the promise of a friend to motivate me to go. 

I decided to make NEW friends. Friends there, at the gym I went to, who went to the classes I enjoyed. And I have several now, including one very good friend who texts me when I don't show up. She is my extra motivation. I still don't rely on her for it, but she's there for a little extra accountability. 

So have any of you experienced that? Do your friends and family make excuses for why they aren't getting fit and healthy... even if you didn't ask them or bring it up?