Tag Archives: health

Gotta Run One: Day 9

On Day 9, I did a short two mile recovery run and then p90x yoga! Today also marks the first time I’ve used my Heartrate monitor to get a more accurate calorie count. Suffice to say, life is full of disappointments. If my monitor is to be believed, I earned almost 60 calories less than any of my tracking apps said!

All in all, I would much rather KNOW this, though, than not know. As such, life goes on.

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Week 15, A Love Story in 2 Parts (Part 1)

This post has been a long time coming.

Together, we have finally arrived at Week 15. Well, it’s Week 16 now, but we’ve reached/passed Week 15, and to me, that’s a big and special week. Long, long ago when this blog first began, I was struggling to keep up my motivation. In one of my posts, I wrote:

“One pound could be anything.

And so, it’s hard to celebrate 1.5 lbs.

It almost feels like the road to weight loss hasn’t started at all yet — it would be so easy to flail and give up now and go back to the world of non-obsessive eating habits. If a pound can fluctuate on any given day, how do I even know I can attribute its loss to my efforts? It’s so tempting to just “start next week,” or have a massive brownie “just this once,” and plan (and then re-plan, and re-plan) on starting tomorrow or next week.

But I suppose I’d never see week 15 then.

And I really want to see week 15. And week 30, week 54.”

In my head, I had a budding romance with Week 15 the way little girls dream of their Prince (or Princess!) Charming. I waited for it. I worked for it. I wondered what it would be like. I imagined myself squeezing into old clothes with ease. I imagined myself running MARATHONS. Actually, I’m kidding about the marathons. Back when I wrote that post, I really hoped in the depth of my heart that I would be able to run a mile or two at once. That was all I wanted. Week 15 became the Camelot, the Promised Land, blah blah blah. Week 15 would not be one ambiguous pound, I thought to myself, Week 15 won’t be able to be denied.

I wanted to see Week 15.

I wanted to see it so badly.

Knowing that if I hung in there long enough, Week 15 would roll around, I realized I had to continually put in the work if I wanted this little waystation/weighstation (har har har) to be what I imagined. So I did. And you helped me. And here’s where we are today.

Today is just past Week 15. We’re on Week 16 now.

And as of a midweek weigh-in, it’s looking pretty definite that I will have lost over 20 lbs by this Friday’s weigh-in, and I’m closing in on the 160’s after beginning this January in the mid-180’s, and beginning WW in general years ago at 198 before finally getting my act together. So that one ambiguous pound has turned into twenty. It cannot be denied.

As of today, I am sitting at my desk and wearing my very favorite shorts. They’re khaki shorts from Loft and they’re comfy and cute and can be worn to look classy or slouchy, depending on whether I feel like a preppy lady or a hipster Q. I love them dearly — and for the PAST THREE YEARS (well, since two full summers and a winter ago) they have not been able to even be buttoned. Today, I’m wearing them slouchily with a flannel and a knit cap, and I’m wearing them with a belt, and I look adorable, and this is the first time I have worn these shorts outside my house (or at all) in THREE YEARS, and it cannot be denied.

When I first began runnning, a “long run” was anything more than a mile. The 30 minutes of Couch to 5K left me beat, every time. The only way I was able to convince myself to keep doing it was to say “It’s only 30 minutes,” and then think of all the other things I could do in 30 minutes and how short it seemed. 30 minutes for Family Guy episodes, a phone game, petting Tag, scrolling through FB… So I convinced myself I could spend the 30 minutes another way. Time went by; I graduated Couch to 5K; I kept running. Now, my shortest runs are 4 miles; my medium runs at 5-6 miles, and my longest runs are 6.5 miles and up. I’ve also cut my per-mile time from 12 to 10. When I first started running, my weight loss was stubborn and I didn’t see immediate changes — and that made it so hard to stick with it. Now, I am losing (on average) 1.7 lbs a week. Now, I look forward to my run each day (well, 5-6 days a week). Now, I do with the treadmill what I used to do with TV: “Oh, five more minutes, please!” I am running, and loving it, and have breezed through most of the 160’s weight-wise with such speed that all I can do is wonder why I didn’t start running sooner. I am a RUNNER, now. It cannot be denied.

Back when I first began my WW-hustle, I used to say to Chelsea pretty much every day: WHEN WILL I GET TO EAT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE AGAIN? WHEN WILL I STOP WANTING SHITTY FOOD? These days, I love everything I eat. I don’t WANT to go back to eating crappy food — the thought makes me queasy. So if that’s how “Everyone Else” eats, well, too bad/so sad. As for wanting shitty food: I don’t, anymore. Aside from the occasional NEED for chocolate, I don’t crave bad foods or large portions anymore. To me, this is perhaps the most shocking victory of all.  I used to get frustrated by smaller portion sizes, by the need to sub ingredients, by the thought that I could never have my “favorite” foods again. Now, I feel as though I eat like a queen. And I feel happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. It cannot be denied.

And so Part 1 of this “Love Story” is the story of all the things I’ve just shared — the weeks we’ve muscled through together, my body and I, and emerged victories. The one pound that has become twenty. The “changes” that became “habits.” The “running goal” that became the best part of my day. Wellness is the slow and beautiful journey of falling in love with yourself. I’m not quite there yet, but I do see more strength and conviction in me than I’ve ever seen before. Finally, my outsides are matching my insides: determined, proud, nuanced and hard-won.

It cannot be denied.

Couch to 5K Update: Week 7

Um, Week 7 is SO not subtle.

Day 1: Run for 25 minutes.

Now, because I forced myself to do this back when they only asked me to run 20 minutes (I was intent on hitting that 2 mile marker, and at 5.0 24 minutes is needed for that), I was not too terrified.

I did it, and it was fine. At one point I did have to stop for about 23 seconds to hit buttons on the remote to start the next episode of The Office (we have the Wii hooked up in the basement which is how we’re streaming Netflix to that TV and I CHALLENGE you to use a Wii remote while still running), but I ran for an extra 1 minute at the end (so, 26 minutes total) to make up for it. I didn’t linger. I just had to wake up the remote and clickety-click.

As I’m running the full 26, I find that I get a little bit restless but I think that’s only because I have gotten so used to the time being broken up into smaller increments — it’s not because I’m TIRED or DYING. But it’s hard to figure out how to deal with the restlessness. I’m sure I’ll get used to it as time goes on. I find myself eying the clock too often. And again, it’s not because I’m too fatigued — I think I’m just too used to those distances being broken up.

 

I tell myself, The important thing isn’t whether or not you’re bored at times — the important thing is that you can (and HAVE) run more than two miles without stopping, now!

 

I tell myself, You will get used to this. Just like you got used to the broken-up times, you’ll get used to the all-at-once times.

 

I tell myself, You are seven whole weeks in, and going strong. An actual 5K run is within reaching distance.

 

I tell myself, Yanno, I’m really proud of you.

Tuna Salad(2)

I don’t know how to type a “2” on a keyboard so it comes up as something squared, but that was my intent with the title of this post.

Failure, obviously.

But I’m here to tell you that this past weekend, I was reminded how fond I am of tuna salad, and of having TUNA salad served over REGULAR salad.

My mom made  wicked tuna salad this weekend, and it’s been on my mind. She’s a great cook and she made a mighty fine dinner out of it, serving the tuna over prettily presented greens and veggies. I can picture it in my mind’s eye. I COVET IT.

Tuna packs a mighty WW punch, with a whole can ranging from 2-3 PP. If you don’t add much mayo or crap to it aside from healthies like veggies, you can keep it in that range but get STAGGERING amounts of protein — we’re talking 20 or 30 grams for just a little can.

Mind you, too much tuna is bad because mercury, etc. etc. but tuna every now and again is an awesome way to bolster protein intake on the cheap. It’s quick and easy to make, too!

So tonight, Wednesday night that is, I’ll be making tuna salad to serve over our dinner salads. I’m thinking salad tonight because certain monthly things have robbed me of my iron, which is making me tired, and the spinach etc. will bulk that back up in no time.

This post was bland and half-hearted, but it’s a Wednesday. Nobody likes Wednesdays.

So who cares, man?

OH! I Should Tell You This Before I Forget!

So yesterday I had a really stressful day. I won’t bore you with details — but it was an emergency/unforeseen situation related to schoolwork and deadlines. I was so stressed that I was shaking — couldn’t sit still; couldn’t calm down. I knew I needed to get myself into a better place before I could accomplish anything to fix the situation.

SO WHAT DID I DO?

I went home from work and — to my shock and delight — my knee-jerk impulse re: how to calm down was to RUN!

And I did! I’m on Round Two of Week 4 for Couch to 5K — I’m not repeating weeks, to be clear, but I run more than three days a week so each week I just repeat that week’s workouts until the weekend, when the “next week” begins.

But yes, for the first time, I sought solace in going for a run.

And it worked.

I fixed my emergency situation feeling much more calmly about it all.

How cool is that?

Berries are Beautiful, Baby.

Sorry for the corny, alliterative title but the nerd in me needed a good giggle.

It’s been a very trying week.

This post has, I think, been a long time coming. And by “a long time,” I mean about a week. It was a little over a week ago that I started working really hard at incorporating berries into my diet in a meaningful way. By this, I mean that instead of just a handful of blueberries here and there when I feel like it, I am consciously eating some in the morning and at night.

I’ve learned that berries are low sugar (blackberries, raspberries and blueberries) and high fiber, and supposedly are great to eat before bed because they’re a slow-release source of fiber that satiates the body during sleep. So that’s good. Plus, fiber is always good. Plus, berries have lots of vitamins and minerals.

Like I said, this is all well and good. But on a selfish/childish level, the best part: I miss eating fruit, but fruit has always slowed my weight loss if I eat it each day. This is likely because of the sugar content — my body just doesn’t process it that well, you know? So these low-sugar berries are like delicious fruity, juicy treats that have great benefits and no detractions. I can have my fruit and eat it too!

Oh, and berries are 0PP. As is all fruit, but as we all know, I don’t trust that ideology when it comes to apples and bananas.

AWWW YISSSSS.

Since becoming a berry-eater (1 cup in the morning, 1 cup in the evening, each time with 0.5 oz of almonds), I have experienced the following benefits:

1. Improved digestion.
2. Satisfaction/fullness from a pretty small amount of food!
3. Energy — I suspect this may stem from the raspberry keytones.
4. A newfound appreciation for natural sweetness — I told Chelsea that I feel like blueberries are nature’s Skittles. And, if you know me, you know that I would commit murder or high-level felonies in the name of Skittles. So this praise for blueberries is huge.
5. A very pleasant, flavorful, delicious daily ritual that I really look forward to — such juiciness, so many flavors and textures, each bite different than the bite before (I mix blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in my serving).

All in all, I’m so glad I’ve discovered them. The fiber content has been really wonderful for me and my digestion, and everything about the experience of eating fresh berries is fun, tasty and decadent! And cost-wise, for Chelsea and I to eat them each day, it’s not too terrible… We get the berries from SAM’s Club, where blueberries are $7.99 for a huge container, blackberries are $3.98, and raspberries are $4.97 (why those weird people who set the prices ask for a different penny count on each is beyond me). So basically like just shy of $20 a week. However, they’re now half my breakfast and also my evening snack (along with my frozen greek yogurt), so it’s really quite worth it when you think that $17 would buy… 3 dual-Dunkin trips for Chelsea and I, or 3 or 4 Wegman’s individual desserts, etc. The trade-off is worth the money and costs me nothing, points-wise.

Soon summer will arrive, and I’ll be able to pick up fresh stuff at the farmer’s market — I CAN’T WAIT!

Not-So-Fat-Tuesday

As some of you already know, I was raised Catholic. These days, I am a practicing Unitarian, but as Unitarian Universalism welcomes all spiritual practices and beliefs, there’s no reason I can’t retain some Catholic habits or seasons.

And so, tomorrow begins Lent. For me, Lent is not so much about fasting in preparation for anything so much as it is about setting aside to make some part of myself new. This year? 40 days of no complaining about anything, and instead me taking a photograph each day of something that makes me happy. I’ll post the photos here!*

* = telling the truth about my feelings or expressing a need for support doesn’t count.** That ish is just healthy.

** = for every complaint, I will issue a gratitude also, and I will try to move beyond my usual: I love my mom, and Chelsea, and the cats. Okay cool. What else/who else do I love? What else brings me joy?

But to the point of this post: TODAY is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. It is a day to eat, drink and be merry before Lent sets in, and many Catholics begin fasting.

Usually a day like today would merit a little treat. Usually a big treat, if we’re being honest. I’d say, “Self! It’s Fat Tuesday! Eat a paczki and revel!” I would have a glass of wine; I would eat a yummy dessert. I’d feel no shame because Fat Tuesday comes but once a year.

This year, I’m not doing that.

One of the hardest parts of my wellness journey is breaking those habitual connections between holidays and good, friendship and food, celebrations and food, respect and food, gratitude and food, fitting in and food…

If I had a treat every time it was a special day, or someone offered me some, or I felt uncomfortable saying no, I’d be fat.

OH WAIT.

Hah.

Nailed it.

What I’m saying is this: for me, it’s been really hard to find ways to feel good or celebrate success or partake in holidays without eating to excess. True to my academic compulsions, though, I’ve started to push the question: Why?

Q. Why should I have a treat on Fat Tuesday?

A. Because that’s just what you do on Fat Tuesday.

Not a good enough answer.

Q. But don’t you think you should celebrate just this once before Lent?!

A. Well, even when I identified as Catholic I usually didn’t give up FOOD for Lent, so the idea that I need to gorge before fasting is fallacious at best.

You are never in danger of starving. You are not a kennel dog who needs to hoard food.

Q. But isn’t it fun to celebrate? Even if no fasting is on the horizon?

A. Yes! But why does a celebration have to be food? Why has a celebration always been food?

WHY AM I SURPRISED THAT I HAVE GAINED WEIGHT WHEN ALL THE POSITIVE RITUALS IN MY LIFE REVOLVE AROUND FOOD?

It’s time to break those associations. Instead of gorging myself today I’m going to eat my usual planned foods. I am going to snuggle Chelsea and the cats. I am going to try to find peace in common moments. And I am going to remember that these 40 days can be a time of positivity and reclamation, instead of just a “giving up” or fasting.

For the very first time, I am not celebrating a food-based holiday by eating food.

Instead, I am celebrating Fat Tuesday by diving in and gorging myself on all the love, positivity and good energy in my life.

It feels better than a stuffed belly.

It feels better than an hour of eating that’s over once the last bite is gone.

It feels like an actual celebration, instead of a reason to eat.

THAT is a blessing.

Me. Blessed. Yes.

Amen.

I Am Breaking Up With The Internet.

Sort of.

Not completely.

Here’s what I’m thinking. It is absolutely my personality — that of the traditionally rabid grad student — to research to death anything of interest. So now that I’ve been working hard on my health, my eating, my fitness — what do you think preoccupies a huge amount of my time? Yes, researching ways to do it harder, better, faster, stronger. (Thanks, Daft Punk, for the phraseology.)

I have the personality of a terrier in this way. And, at the risk of sounding snotty, you don’t get the job I have or get this far this young in academia without an inordinate amount of energy devoted to making yourself better. So it is intrinsic to who I am — can’t turn my brain off, and can’t settle for half-assed work.

So here we are, with me and my fierce Googling addiction.

I think it needs to stop.

Chelsea has been saying — and my friend Ben said, too — that I’m changing a lot of things all at once and that it’s hard to see specific results over short spans of time. I believe they are correct. My friend Arielle says to be careful about obsessing — that it hurts more than helps. I believe she is correct. And I said to MYSELF, “Gosh, golly, gee — when I peruse the internet there are as many results saying running causes weight gain as saying running is the best way to lose weight, as many sites saying one thing as saying its polar opposite.” NO WONDER I AM SO GOSHDANG CONFUSED. It’s impossible to get real, factual, nonbiased answers on the internet because, there, everyone is both an expert and a critic.

I realize I could go see a nutritionist, but I reckon at this point there’s little they could tell me that I don’t already know, plus it’s expensive, plus I don’t need a standing appointment of any kind. I’m not in bad shape. I don’t need THAT type of extensive help.

But I do need, I think, to distance myself from the raucous frenzy of the internet and all its fitness gurus, self-help gurus, experts of all varieties. I must remove myself from it or I’ll go crazy.

Chelsea, Ben and Arielle are right: If I continue to do what’s healthy and right, and I give it time, and I am consistent, I will absolutely achieve the results I want.

So I suppose that’s the plan.

From here on out, for a whole month (AAH!) I will not use the internet to look up things about weight loss. I will, instead, only use it for recipes and other various types of fun/food purposes. I will still obviously do WW and count points. But I will not scour the internet looking for new ways to make myself feel like crap when I am doing EVERYTHING right.

Hmph.

I — and my longterm health — do not need more rain on Parade Day. It’s hard enough to feel good without other folks seeking to make you feel bad. Or nervous.

Knowing your sanity is worth it?

Definitely part of the Points of It All.

Confusion.

Lately, I’m a little confused.

I’ve been eating within my points. I’ve been running regularly. And at my midweek check-in weigh-in (I don’t really obsess over numbers but I do like to see if/how/when they fluctuate throughout the week), I gained about 1.5 lbs.

Realistically, I know this could be from anything. I’ve looked into it all on the internet, and what do I think now? I THINK I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE THE INTERNET, because all sides of every argument have wildly compelling statements to make, and I don’t know who’s right. I mention this because I looked up “Running, weight gain,” and found a ton of sources saying running can make you gain wait. These sources spouted everything from ideas about water retention to soothe muscles to a slowed metabolism and beyond. This seems fishy to me – running is exercise: the burning of calories. And if I’m not eating extra calories, shouldn’t it only help – not hurt? Of course, to Google “Running, weight loss” gets another vast set of answers, all declaring that running is the single best way to lose weight.

Who is right? I don’t know.

I do know that these pounds I’ve lost have come at the cost of such effort and hard work. To gain some of them back isn’t acceptable. I don’t know what to do.

I looked into, also, if there are any dietary factors contributing to my weight gain so far this week (though, like I said, numbers aren’t everything and plus I have two or three more days until weigh-in). Some things I discovered:

  1. After not eating grains for awhile, it’s possible that my eating bulgur and quinoa and oatmeal last week resulted in my body’s hanging onto those things longer than it should. Think of the way folks on Atkins gain ALL THE WEIGHT BACK when they eat like, a single bagel. This might be a minor version of that hustle. I’ll try a grainless week again and see what happens. (For the record, I am absolutely still eating carbs and getting enough of them. I just am not using grains to do it.)
  2. It is possible that I’m not getting enough fats – which can, apparently, slow weight loss. I’ve been trying to look up how much fat a person my height and size should eat, but am struggling to find a number. I do know that my breakfast has about 2 grams of fat, my lunch has 2.5, my dinner has somewhere between 5-10, and my nightly yogurt has 4.5, putting me at an estimated total of 19. That number, friends, is low no matter how you slice it. When I add in my healthy oils, I get 9 extra grams. So 28. Still sounds a bit low. I’ll investigate.
  3. I’m willing to make any dietary changes necessary to stay healthy and stay losing. If eating nuts will benefit me more than that nightly yogurt, so be it. If I need extra olive oil, so be it. I want to lose weight AND be healthy. There’s GOT TO BE A WAY to do both. But whenever I take to the internet to explore what’s happening with me, I find so many conflicting opinions and ideations of what’s wrong or right or what to do next that I just… I don’t know. It’s discouraging.

So here’s hoping that Friday sings a different tune when I hop on the scale. Midweek, I’m feeling really confused and discouraged – I’ve been working out and eating right, and for the first time in a few months, it somehow has backfired.

*Shakes fist to the sky, wrathfully.*

 

Guest Post: Jill “Weighs In”

Today, I give you a guest post from a wise, hilarious and wonderful woman who has been at the WW hustle far longer than I.

Take it away, Jill!

She writes:
The Lesser of Two Evils

Here’s the thing: You want the truth? Can you handle it? I’m not sure you can.

The truth is: I hate Weight Watchers. I know I’m supposed to say that it’s not really a diet. That it’s a “lifestyle change” and that it’s the most undiet-y diet ever to exist in this carb-loathing, sugar-free world. But I’m going to give it to you straight – Weight Watchers, no matter how much it fully weaves into your otherwise diet-free life, is at its core, a diet. Is it the best of the diets? Well, yes. It is the best of the diets in the same way that Chad Kroeger is the best member of Nickelback.

I would like to preface the rest of this post by stating that I’ve successfully lost just over 80 pounds on the Weight Watchers Points Plus program over the course of two years. For those of you who have never been on Weight Watchers, I hate you forever. Just kidding. Kind of. For those of you who have, or are continuing along with me on the journey of points calculation and a “fail-to-plan, plan-to-fail” food mentality, you know that maintaining an 80 lb. weight loss whilst still trying to lose an additional 40 lbs. is a gargantuan task.

When I asked Karen if I could contribute to her blog, it came with the disclaimer that I am quite possibly the worst spokesperson for Weight Watchers there could ever be. My experience should in no way be taken as representation of how a person should approach the program. I have seen myriad firsthand success stories and clapped along at meetings with men and women who have triumphed doing Weight Watchers the right way.

So how bad am I? Suffice it to say that on more than one occasion I have forsaken an occasional breakfast, mid-day snack, and lunch worth of points for a dinner that consisted of a jar of Trader Joe’s Speculoos cookie butter eaten with a spoon, sometimes a fork if the spoons were all dirty. If I know I am going to be enjoying a “tasteful night out with the girls”, I will eat a banana for dinner so I can enjoy an RBV or four at the bar (RBV= Red Bull Vodka. An essential Weight Watchers Power Food). Sometimes I follow the program to the letter all week, weigh in and lose a remarkable 3-4 pounds, then go to Chipotle and eat a burrito bowl the size of a small child, followed by a Crumbs milkshake cupcake. It’s never pretty, and the local 48th Street flagship store will probably not be calling me to lead a team meeting any time soon.

I will be the first to admit that the problem with people who have disordered eating habits is that their lives revolve around food. I once had a conversation with a friend in college that went something like this:

Me: They had me working an 8-hour shift yesterday. I almost got fired because I ate a chicken nugget while still in uniform.
Skinny Bitch Friend: Oh. Yeah. I was studying, like, all day yesterday and last night. I forgot to eat dinner.
Me: You what?
SBF: Forgot to ea-
Me: I HEARD YOU.

See, the thing is, it was truly incomprehensible to me that someone could just “forget” to eat a meal. Breakfast was the entire point of the AM hours. Lunch was the zenith of an otherwise boring school day. Dinner was something delicious to look forward to after class. How could you FORGET dinner? To me, that was like forgetting how to pee.

Skinny people will tell you that you should “eat to live, not live to eat.” The inherent problem with this is that even on Weight Watchers, your ENTIRE life still revolves around food, just in a different way. While your SBFs might be able to inhale a Shackburger and fries without giving it a second thought, while on Weight Watchers, you are undoubtedly doing one of three things: 1) Eating the burger and fries and hating yourself for it, 2) Abstaining from the delicious burger and fries and hating yourself for it, or 3) Mentally counting points like some sort of foodie Rain Man trying to figure out if you’ll have enough left over for a reasonable dinner that isn’t a 100-calorie pack or Chobani yogurt after eating said burger and fries. But what can you do? You eat it or you don’t. That’s your choice.

PS – just in case you couldn’t tell from the rest of this post, I also hate exercise! Any time I read an article in a magazine where a starlet claims she doesn’t need to exercise, she just “runs around after her kids” or “loves taking her dog to the dog park” I want to literally shove a pencil in my eye. Regardless of whether you like to work out, on Weight Watchers, it’s a necessary evil. So just get your ass on the elliptical and do it. It sucks. I know it does. Just do it, and be done with it, and then humblebrag about it on Facebook. For every time you publicly check in at your local gym, one of your leg muscles gets exponentially less sore.

For all the complaining I’ve done about the program, you may ask me: What’s the alternative? The alternative is that you can eat whatever you want, and you don’t exercise, and you stay fat or get fatter. I have always been envious of girls who are content with their current body size and shape. I have never had that luxury – and until I got thinner, I was going to be unhappy. So I did what I had to do. After college, I followed Weight Watchers. I did it my way. And while my life still revolves around food, I chose the lesser of two evils. 80 pounds “lesser”, to be exact.