Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time to Recommit

This week has felt like a Dickens novel: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

The best of times? Weighing in on Monday morning and seeing that the weight I gained with Christmas indulgences was finally gone, and I was at a new “lowest weight in more than 20 years.” My clothes are fitting more loosely, and I got some very nice compliments at church on Sunday.

The worst of times? I let the success lull me into “taking it easy for a few days.” I let down my guard and had some stuff that wasn’t on my eating plan. Then I let myself slide into my old thinking of “Oh, I’m off my diet, so I might as well enjoy some more treats before I get back on.” I also got discouraged when I was putting away a pair of jeans that currently fit me. They fell off the closet shelf, and when I picked them up, I was holding them by the seat of the pants, rather than the waist. It was discouraging to see how wide that part of my slimmed-down body still is. I’ve come a long way, losing 72 pounds, but I still have 27 to go.
Still room for improvement!

I feel like I’m at a crossroads. One path leads uphill. It looks like a tough climb, but I can catch a glimpse of my goal at the top. The other path looks a lot easier. I don’t see my goal at the end of it, though… in fact, I don’t see an end to it. It seems to go around and around without getting anywhere.

I need to make a firm decision to follow the path of healthy eating and consistent workouts. I am encouraged by the way my friend Vicky made a commitment with her friend Lisa to work out together. Even though they live hundreds of miles apart (Vicky is in Michigan, Lisa is in OH), they communicate on a daily basis about their workouts. Through Facebook, e-mails and texts, they coordinate their workouts. Sometimes they start at the same time, so if one calls and says, “I’m not going to make it through this workout,” the other can offer encouragement like “I’m not going to give up, and neither are you!”

I look back on when I first started the LiveFit Revolution workouts and nutrition plan. It was tough, but I stuck to it for the whole six weeks of Phase 1. I worked out with my kettlebells four times a week. I stuck to the detox diet of lean meats, lots of salads and veggies, and a little fruit and brown rice. I lost about 20 pounds in six weeks, an average of more than 3 pounds per week. I find myself wishing I could go back to that intensity and level of commitment to jump-start my weight loss again. I think back to the weekend I spent with LiveFit friends in Philadelphia, doing an intense kettlebell workout, and an hour-long cardio challenge on the art museum stairs. Working out with others made the workouts different: I pushed myself harder, the time flew by faster, and it was definitely more fun that doing it alone.

I think if I could work out a buddy system like Vicky & Lisa, I could pull off a six-week boot camp. If I had somebody calling me out, not letting me get away with excuses for not exercising. If I had somebody checking on me and asking if I stuck to my Phase 1 detox diet. If I had somebody who would meet me at the gym on Saturday mornings to do a crazy cardio challenge like running up and down the stairs for half an hour, or doing sprints around the gym.

I’ll put this out to my friends, both local and across the country. If anybody is willing to join me in a 6-week LiveFit Revolution bootcamp, going back to Phase 1 eating for 6 weeks, and following the workouts for Season 4, and you’re willing to make a commitment to check in daily, let’s go for it! If I do get some local interest, maybe we can meet at church a couple of times a week to do kettlebell workouts together. I have five kettlebells, and I can only swing one at a time, so I’ll share…
Dusting off my kettlebells... it's time to get serious again!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Turning a Pity Party into a Cardio Party

This weekend I had a big disappointment. Life isn’t always fair. Hard work isn’t always recognized. I can’t control all of life’s speedbumps, but I can control my reaction to them.

My first reaction (beside tears) was that I wanted to curl up with some comfort food… a big bowl of ice cream or a king-size bag of peanut M&Ms. Fortunately, there aren’t any M&Ms in the house. Ice cream, however, is another story. There are two cartons in the fridge for the family members who don’t have to worry about losing weight. Visions of a super sundae with chocolate topping, nuts and whipped cream were dancing through my head.  There are several problems with that “solution”:
·        I would probably end up with a big stomach ache.
·        I have a weigh-in tomorrow, where I’m hoping to see a number that says I’m the lightest I’ve been in more than 20 years.
·        Giving in to old habits sets a dangerous precedent. I don’t want to go back to behaviors that caused me to get to more than 100 pounds overweight.

So, instead of turning to behavior that would only add to my problems, I picked out an exercise DVD. My daughter Connie suggested Caribbean Kickboxing, to remind me of the fact that in 17 weeks, I’ll be on my 25th anniversary trip. I want to lose some more lumps & bumps before I wear a bathing suit in public! So I kicked and punched and did squats and jumping jacks and worked up a good sweat.

Now I’m having a cup of decaf Chocolate Hazelnut tea with Stevia – probably 500 calories less than the treat I would have consoled myself with if I had reverted to old habits.

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of today, I’m going to try to focus on what went right… a good workout, on-plan eating, and a short-but-sweet compliment this morning. As I was walking through the church foyer this morning, a grandmother laid her hand on my arm to stop me. I thought she was going to ask me for something because of me being church secretary. Instead, she just gave me a big smile and said, “Hi, Skinny!”

I think I had a “skinny response” to an upset tonight. It makes me feel like this healthy lifestyle thing is going to work!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Halfway through my challenge!

The first three weeks of the Laura's Lean Beef "Resolve to Stick to It" challenge have gone past so quickly! All in all, I’d say I’ve been doing well. I can’t say that I’ve followed my plan perfectly, but when I messed up, I got right back on track within 24 hours.
My youngest daughter drew this picture of me... I'm flattered that she drew me so skinny!

My progress is showing, both on the scale and with the measuring tape. I’ve lost the five or so pounds that I put on due to some Christmas indulgences, so I’m back to the lowest weight I’ve been in more than 20 years. Every pound I lose now takes me into new territory, closer to moving down a size. I like the way my jeans are getting looser and my stomach is visibly smaller (as my oldest daughter said, “Mom, your gut is gone!”). When I look in the mirror, I think there's something different about my face. I think a little bit of the new weight loss came from my face.

My successes in the first three weeks give me motivation to keep going, even though it’s been a bit of a rough week. There have been a number of food temptations. Even though I have been sticking to a strict detox diet this week, I still made some foods for my family that I couldn’t eat. It was torture to take a delicious-smelling pizza, or loaves of fresh-baked bread, from the oven and not be able to have any. My girls also did some baking this week, making cake and cookies. I stayed strong and stuck to my plan.

The hardest thing for me this week has been getting my exercise in. It has been cold here in the Buffalo area, and the cold, dreary weather just seems to sap my strength. Add to that the fact that I got hit with some sort of stomach bug or food poisoning mid-week, and I really felt wiped out. I didn’t feel like doing anything but in my favorite chair, cuddled up with an afghan. You know what finally got me moving? It’s going to make me sound like a little kid, but I realized that if I didn’t get up out of my chair and get in half an hour of exercise, I wasn’t going to be able to put a sticker on my chart! I got up out of my chair and did 2 miles of the new Biggest Loser Power Walk DVD. That is one of the most challenging DVDs I’ve come across for doing a walking workout in your living room. I borrowed it from our public library, but I think I’m going to put it on my birthday wish list! It was hard to get started, but once I finished the workout, I felt much better.
I'm warm & cuddly & I don't want to move!

I’m looking forward to finishing strong in this challenge. I lost about 5 pounds in the first 3 weeks, so if I can lose another 5, I’ll only have 20 pounds left to lose. That sounds wonderful!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The scale doesn't tell the whole story!

I thought I had a really good week last week. I did pretty well with my eating. I got in lots of exercise.  I was hoping to see a really good loss on the scale when I weighed in yesterday. Instead, I saw a loss of 6/10 of a pound. 

I have to admit, I was discouraged at first. I was hoping for more: at least two pounds, maybe three.  I was at my lowest weight in 20 years before Christmas, but with some holiday excess, I gained about 5 pounds back. I had hoped those five pounds would finally be gone, but they are not going without a fight. 

When I had some time to reflect during the day, I thought about how far I’ve come, and came to the conclusion that the scale shouldn’t be my only means of judging how “good” a week was. I have a tendency to get discouraged with my weight loss. I see the lumps and bumps of the weight that I still need to lose, and think that I’m still in awful shape. That kind of thinking even sneaks into my dreams. I dreamed that I found an old pair of size 24 pants and held them up in front of me, expecting to see a huge change, but they were only a little bigger than what I was wearing.  I know that’s not true. ( LOL, my dreams are very rarely true. I also dreamed that my brother was raising pink, blue and white sheep in a second-story bedroom closet.)  There is a big change from the size 14 jeans I can fit in now, and the size 24 I was wearing in 2009. I know that it’s a big success story that I am down 81 pounds from my highest weight, and only have 27 pounds left to lose. Having mean old Mr. Scale tell me that I lost less than a pound this week, when I tried so hard, makes me think that I need to look at my success from different angles. 

  • I’m getting faster. Before I started losing weight, it took me over an hour to go for a 3-mile walk. I’ve got it down to 41 minutes, and that number has been dropping steadily as I continue to train for the triathlon.
  • I’m getting stronger. This week, I only had about 20 minutes to get in a workout, so I did a quick swing workout with my kettlebell. My 35-pound kettlebell. Now, that was an intense workout! I did 180 swings with the 35-pounder,  then switched down to 25 pounds for the next 110 swings, and finished up the last 30 swings with the 35-pounder again.  I never could have done that a year ago. I am extremely grateful to Alysia Gadson at LiveFit Revolution for getting me hooked on kettlebells!
  • My measurements are changing. Sometimes when the scale doesn’t show it, I’m still losing inches. If I need a dose of encouragement, all I need to do is pull out the tape measure.
  • My clothes are fitting differently. Even though my weight hasn’t changed all that much since November, jeans that were snug then are loose now. I’m going to need to do another closet purge soon, where I pull out the clothes that are too big! 
Mean old Mr. Scale did his best to discourage me this week, but I won’t let him win. I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing, because I’m making healthy changes and feeling great!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Getting over the "Don't Wannas"

Sometimes life gets in the way of resolutions. Yesterday was a good example. I planned on donning my running shoes and getting some laps in around the gym after work. Things got busy and I had to put in some extra time at work. I barely got home in time to make dinner, eat, and get back to church for our mid-week service. Today was another crazy day, staying at work an hour late and coming home feeling frazzled.

After dinner tonight, I was sitting on the floor in front of the woodstove, wrapped in a fleece blanket. It was only 14 degrees out today and I just felt like I couldn’t get warm all day. Every time somebody came into the building at work, the cold seemed to blow right in. All I wanted to do was curl up in my nice fleece blanket and take a nap.

I complained to my family that I was cold, and my daughter said, “Get up and do a workout video. That will warm you up in a hurry.” My first response was "I don't wanna exercise! I don't wanna!" Don't you hate it when you know the kids are right? Exercise was just the right prescription for what was ailing me!

It took a while to get the DVD going. LOL, I’m a Mom. I started over to the cabinet to get the DVD and saw an empty coffee mug. I took that out to the kitchen and ended up emptying and refilling the dishwasher. I went back to the bedroom to change into sweatpants and ended up putting away a pile of laundry.  I went looking for my sneakers and couldn’t find them. I remembered that they were in the car from my failed attempt at running laps yesterday. I went out to the garage (stopping in the kitchen to collect the stuff for the recycling bin), only to realize that my daughter had my car for the night. Oops, time to break out the sneakers I got for Christmas!

I found a 4-mile walking DVD that I’d never done before. My oldest daughter joined me for part of it, which made it more fun. When the hour-long workout was over, I was definitely warmed up, I was in a better mood, and I felt good about keeping up with my resolutions for the week.
Getting intense with some knee lifts

Sometimes it’s hard to pry yourself off the couch and get moving, but you feel so good afterwards!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

If I could do it in Philly, I can do it here!

I was looking over my goals for the week, trying to decide what to do for exercise today (Saturday).  I still needed 3.3 miles to make my 10-mile quota this week, so I decided on going to the church gym and running laps for an hour. Almost as soon as I made my decision, I started doubting my ability to carry through. The longest I’ve ever jogged continuously is 45 minutes. I doubted that I could do it for an hour. You know those cartoons where somebody has an angel sitting on one shoulder, encouraging the person to do right, and a little devil is sitting on the other shoulder, pushing for the person to make bad choices? That’s the way my thoughts were going: “You can’t jog for an hour. You’re still overweight and out of shape!” “It’s only fifteen minutes more. You can do it.” “Just do the 3.3 miles and stop. Don’t push yourself too hard.” “You did an hour of intense cardio in Philly, you can do it here!”

Grapevines on the Rocky Stairs

The Rocky Stairs Challenge was tough. We ran up and down the stairs, took them 2 or 3 at a time, did grapevines up the stairs, ran laps around the upper courtyard, and did more stairs. Toward the end of the challenge, Alysia called out, “One more lap, then come in for instructions. You can keep on jogging, or walk for a cool-down lap.” Alysia gave me permission to walk, so I was going to walk. But then Jason set up his camera tripod on the other side of the courtyard and yelled, “Run for the camera!” I didn’t think I could. I thought I was worn out. I thought I didn’t have anything left. I wanted to tell Jason, “I can’t.” Trouble is, you can’t say that to Jason. It doesn’t work. I’ve tried. So I ran. After nearly an hour of stairs, I sprinted halfway around the courtyard. That footage made it into the video of the challenge on the LiveFit website. Rocky Stairs Challenge Video

Thinking back to that day strengthened my resolve to push myself today. To encourage myself in my endeavor, I put on the same LiveFit t-shirt I wore for the Rocky Stairs Challenge in Philly, and headed off to the gym. I powered up my MP3 player and started jogging: a slow lap, then a faster lap. I had a little click-counter in my hand and kept pressing the button each time I finished a lap. I kept going with the pattern of slow jog / faster jog, although there were times when it was two laps of slow jog before I did my faster lap.

When it was all done, I jogged 4 miles in 59:18. That’s the farthest I’ve ever jogged without stopping or taking a break by walking, and I ended up with a pace a little under 15 minutes per mile. I’m glad I tried to push myself. You know, we’re capable of so much more than we think we are!

Friday, January 7, 2011

“Success is in the Cards”

No, this blog isn’t about me taking a trip to Las Vegas… it’s still about my New Year’s resolutions and how I plan to keep them. Resolving to lose the last 30 pounds and get to my goal weight, and finish a sprint triathlon this summer are lofty goals, and I really need to keep focused in order to attain them.

I sat down after Christmas and tried to think of what I needed to do each week to stay on track physically and financially. I came up with the following goals and wrote them out on an index card.
  • 4.5 hours cardio
  • 10 miles walk/jog
  • 10 mile bike
  • 3 kettlebell workouts
  • Knit/crochet one item for sale on e-bay
  • Keep expenses on the charge card under $100
  • Stick to my diet plan 6 days a week, with one day off-plan (but still within reason)

The first week I used the cards, I didn’t do very well. I forgot to keep reviewing my goals. I spent too much, I exercised too little, I didn’t stick to my eating plan.

This week, I have been taking the time to review my goals each morning, and I’m doing much better. I try to figure out when I can sneak in some exercise. I planned meals that would use foods in the freezer and pantry so I could keep my shopping expenses down.  I dusted off my kettlebells, which have been suffering from neglect in recent weeks. Having that card in my hand each morning helps me to remember what I’m shooting for.

On Wednesday, my resolutions had a bit of a test. I had a rough day at work, and thoughts of comfort food were bouncing around in my head. Instead of walking down to the store at the corner and buying a pint of ice cream, I donned my running shoes and did 50 laps around the gym. That’s 3 miles. I jogged the entire distance. It took me 45 minutes. Tomorrow I plan on going over again and jogging for an hour straight, just to see if I can do it, and to see how far I can go.

Finished a 3-mile jog!

Having a definite plan and reviewing it often can really help!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Lesson from Biggest Loser

I admit... I'm hooked on the Biggest Loser show. I started watching it in 2005, when I was at my highest weight, and I've been watching it ever since. Sometimes there are moments on the show that help to bring about an "aha" moment for me. Last night was one of those.

One of the contestants, Arthur, was talking with Bob, saying "I've lost 150 pounds already, but I still have 300 to lose. 300 pounds! How am I ever going to do that?" Bob told him something like, "One day at a time. Every day, you do what Jillian and I tell you to do, and you will get there."

I know I don't have as much to lose as Arthur, but there are times when the thought of losing 30 more pounds seems overwhelming. I think "how am I going to do this?"

Bob's comment to Arthur last night really made me think. It's the same for me as it is for Arthur. I have a plan that works. I just need to stick to it. I just need to recommit on a daily basis.

I have weekly goals that I'm working on each week:
4.5 hours cardio
10 miles walk/jog
10 mile bike 
4 kettlebell workouts
Knit/crochet one item for sale on e-bay
Keep expenses on the charge card under $100
Stick to my diet plan 6 days – 1 day of "relaxed" eating

Having those goals written out on an index card, so I can look it over every day, has really helped me.

Today was a stressful day... I was tempted to get into some "comfort food", but I thought about Bob's comment to Arthur... and what I needed to do today to stay true to my goals. I went to the gym and jogged instead... 3 miles!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking back to 2010, Looking forward to 2011

2010 was a year of milestones and changes for me. In the fall of 2009, I finally admitted that I hadn't gained back "a little weight," I had gained back almost all of the 70 pounds I had lost before. I was back to within ten pounds of my heaviest. I started my recent weight loss journey on December 1, 2009, shortly after watching the 2009 Biggest Loser "Where Are They Now" special. Erik Chopin's struggles with gaining weight back really struck a chord with me.

Another eye-opener for me was seeing a picture taken of me at a bridal shower in August. When I was getting dressed for the shower, I remember looking in the mirror straight on and thinking I looked pretty slim in my outfit. Someone took a picture of me from the side, though... the worst possible angle, since I carry a great deal of my weight in my belly. Here's that eye-opening picture, plus an after shot taken in the summer of 2010:
So, I started 2010 with a resolve to lose weight and get healthy. It was slow-going at first. By April, I'd only managed to take off twenty pounds. Then I saw a post on Facebook by former Biggest Loser contestant Shay Sorrells, saying that her trainer in CA was starting a free program for people across the country, with free on-line workout videos and free nutrition guidance. I signed up for LiveFit Revolution and started on April 19th. The kettlebell workouts were tough - my family chuckled at my workout wear, as I would often wrap a bandana around my forehead to catch some of the sweat that would drip down my face! The nutrition plan was strict, especially in the first 6 weeks (a detox plan), but I stuck with it, and lost weight week after week.

Another milestone was that I finished going through the Couch to 5K training program, and got to the point where I could jog a 5K without stopping... a very slow jog on a totally flat surface (the church gym). Once I got out in the real world to run a 5K in July, I found that the hills and humidity made things a bit more difficult! I had a time of 46:08 in my first 5K, and helped to organize a Turkey Trot for our church in November. I ran/walked that one in 41:33. Next time, I'm getting into the 30s with my time!

Right after the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I ran with a penguin hat and Scooby-Doo gloves!

Another milestone for 2010: I started riding my bike again, maybe the first time in 15 or 20 years? We discovered a beautiful 4-mile bike trail only a ten-minute drive from our house, so we started doing family bike rides each weekend - at least 8 miles! I admit, after the first ride, it hurt to sit down for several days. Before the next ride, I went out and got myself a pair of padded bike shorts!

Toward the end of summer, I got into a "Tiara Challenge" - where we named a milestone we wanted to reach. The prize was a sparkly pink tiara. My milestone was fitting into a pair of size 14 jeans. In early November, I decided to try them on, and was delighted to find out they fit!
Proudly wearing my tiara - and the t-shirt I made for the LiveFit weekend in Philadelphia.

Oh, that's another milestone! In mid-November, my youngest daughter Bethany and I took a train down to Philadelphia to meet up with a bunch of other people from LiveFit Revolution and the founders of LiveFit, Alysia Gadson and Jason Lily. It was a great weekend, with a group dinner on Saturday (with all on-plan food!), a kettlebell workout with Alysia, and a cardio challenge on the steps of the Philly Art Museum (the "Rocky Stairs"). If you told me at the beginning of 2010 that I would spend an hour running up and down stairs and not collapse into a heap, I probably would have laughed. I have definitely made progress this year!

My progress in 2010 motivates me to make lofty resolutions for 2011. I still have about 32 pounds to go to reach my weight loss goal. I want to hit that goal in 2011, preferably before May 20th, when Ron & I leave for our 25th Anniversary trip! I also want to finish the Wilson Wet n Wild Triathlon at the end of July: a 600-yard swim, 20-mile bike ride, and 5K trail run. Right now, I'm working on getting in ten miles per week jogging/walking and 10 miles on my exercise bike. Hopefully I can find a place soon to get in some swimming!

Look out, 2011! Here comes the Penguin!