Archive | February 2014

Mid-Week Update – You Guys Are Making Me Blush

Today, I’m going to talk about you.

Lifestyle changes don’t happen in a vacuum. There are always a thousand other things going on in our lives; kids, school, work, relationships, finances, vacation plans, special events, holidays, and so on and so on and so on. And when it comes to events, there is almost ALWAYS a food component. Usually not a super healthy food either! When we are stressed and busy, it’s easiest to reach for whatever is convenient and fast. And that’s where you have come in.

The overwhelmingly positive response I’ve had since starting this journey (for the second time) has been both inspiring and humbling. I know that there are cases out there – I’ve heard of them from other people who have done this – where “friends” have tried their darnedest to tempt someone back to the “dark side” (we have cookies!). It seems like there are some people out there who just can’t bear to witness the fact that hard work, dedication, and willpower really can create change.

I can’t express how much I appreciate that this hasn’t happened to me. In fact, I’ve had nothing but encouragement throughout my journey so far, and have been told repeatedly that I’m inspiring others to change too.

So thanks, you guys, for following me through this and all of the kind words, facebook likes, Instragram hearts, and Twitter favourites!

40 in 40 – After Week 4

Yeah, I know, posting 2 days late…. let’s just pretend that it’s Sunday. (In all fairness, I DID go to the gym, clean my house, and do eleventy six loads of laundry on Sunday, so it was a little busy.) I hope to be back on a regular posting schedule this week, so look for another update Tuesday!

So I mentioned a little while back that I needed to come up with some new goals, because “just” the weightloss goal is going to start to wear thin pretty soon. There’s a few reasons for that, and the imminent plateau is a big one; if you have a goal and you don’t feel like you’re ever going to reach it, it’s hard to stay motivated. Another reason is that it gets pretty easy to backslide if you get overconfident, and it’s easy to get overconfident if you’ve, say, met 33% of your goal in only 10% of the allotted time, resulting in going crazy and eating 4 pieces of delicious homemade pizza. Just as a completely random, in-no-way-based-in-real-life example.

 

As such, I have decided that I have the following, additional, non-weight-loss-related goals:

Cardio:

By July 31, 2014, I want to be able to go 60 minutes on my elliptical

Upper Body (Free weight goals):

By July 31, 2014 – 20 lb bicep curl, 17.5 lb tricep kickback, 12.5 lb dumbbell front raise, 12.5 lb dumbbell lateral raise

Lower Body (Free weight and machine):

By July 31, 2014 – 150 lb squat, 200 lb leg press machine, 200 lb machine calf raises, 80 lb lying leg curl machine.

I’ll add to this list as time goes on.

Now for the stats! (weight stats are from Sunday)

Starting weight: 210.6 lbs

Current weight: 207.4 lbs

 

Weight loss this week: 3.2 lbs

Weight loss total: 14.2 lbs

Mid-week Update – Staying the Course

So about this time (after three weeks of reasonable success) is when most “diet” plans start to fail. Excessively restricting your caloric intake isn’t a recipe for success. Eventually, most people give in (because – news flash – we need to eat), and it’s usually not a healthy choice. That’s the big difference between “dieting” and changing your diet.

The word “diet” has been sadly corrupted by the weightloss industry. If you look up “diet” in the dictionary, you will find that its definition is “the type of food a person, animal, or community typically eats”. The use of “diet” as a verb to describe a restrictive eating plan is secondary. If you think of dieting that way – as an action you are doing – then if (when) you break down and eat an entire tray of cookies (not that I am speaking from recent, personal experience), your brain perceives failure: you have failed in dieting. The law of inertia applies to your frame of mind just as surely as it applies to anything else; once you perceive yourself as having failed, it’s much easier to keep on failing. That, in a nutshell, is why dieting doesn’t work – a fact the weightloss industry relies on.

On the other hand, if you change your diet, you can also change how you perceive food. I mentioned in a previous entry that it’s important to think of food as fuel, not as entertainment. The quality of fuel you put into your body will have a direct effect on the quality of performance you get out of it. That’s why, when I ate an entire tray of cookies (ok I’m exaggerating but I did eat five), I didn’t leap immediately into the “Well, I’ve already messed up, might as well break out the chips and chocolate bars” mentality. Instead, I noticed the fact that my body reacted immediately to the intake of processed sugar with increased thirst, reduced concentration, and a migraine that I would much prefer never to have experienced. I came to the conclusion that I’d rather not feel that way, and continued on with my healthy eating plan – my changed diet.

It sure doesn’t hurt that I’ve had several comments in the last couple of days from people who say they’re starting to see the difference in my appearance. I don’t see it yet, but if you do, I must be doing something right!

See you on Sunday with a stats update!

40 in 40 – After Week 3

I’m out of town at the moment, enjoying family day long weekend with my fiancée and kids up at my mom’s place, so my usual thoughts on the week will have to wait – but here’s the stats!

Starting weight: 212.2 lbs
Current weight: 210.6 lbs

Weight loss this week: 1.6 lbs
Weight loss total: 11 lbs

I’m over 25% of the way there! Look for some new goals in this week’s mid-week update.

Thanks for reading! See you next week!

On Stress and “Cheating”

I know I’m a day and a half late with my mid-week update, but it’s been a heck of a week. I’ve got some major personal-life stress going on (and my fiancée has been incredible throughout it all), and as a result of that I haven’t been eating properly – by which I mean both that I’ve been eating things I shouldn’t (specifically an entire box of chocolate covered almonds – the kind kids sell for fundraisers), and that I haven’t been eating what I should or when I should.

Retraining your body in how it processes food requires a number of things. First, you have to change how you think about food – one of my best friends, who is also my “gym sponsor”, frequently reminds me of this. “Food is fuel,” she says, “not entertainment. Don’t use crappy fuel or you won’t get good results.” What she means by that is – as little processing as possible; whole foods; a lot of lean protein every day; and understanding how different types of food serve different processes in your body. Eating as much fresh vegetables as we are “supposed” to, based on the food guide, is actually really challenging!

But another side to this is eating regularly. Now, some studies show that three large properly proportioned meals are fine for blood sugar levels, and we don’t really need to eat five or six smaller meals a day to improve metabolism. However, I’m also trying to accomplish an entirely separate but still related goal, which is to feel full with less food.

Eating North American sized portions for most of my adult life means that my stomach (the actual organ) is much larger than it needs to be. This can be surgically corrected for about $10k with gastric banding – or you can fix it for free by just eating smaller amounts. It takes months of eating less volume more frequently to actually shrink your stomach back down to sheer a reasonable sized meal is satisfying though. And when I’m stressed out, even if I am eating the right stuff, I tend to just starve all day while I’m busy at work and then eat a ridiculously big supper – not conducive to a better lifestyle at all!

Ok I was actually going somewhere with that, but the battery in my phone is dying and it’s time to put my kiddo to bed. Happy valentines day everyone!

40 in 40 – After Week 2

So, just like last week, a few thoughts before I get to my stats. I’ve already posted a little about plateaus earlier this week, so we’ll leave that alone for now. Today I wanted to talk about some pros and cons of different ways of measuring progress.

1) Checking measurements/weight every day

Now, I actually don’t check my measurements. There is no reason for this other than that I do not find it helpful; I know that for many people, knowing how many inches they’ve lost (or gained, if they’re trying to build muscle) is a far better motivator than measuring weight loss. Personally, that’s not the case for me right now – maybe in 20 lbs or so, when the losses are coming in at consistently less than a pound a week (because it’s going to happen), but not right now. So we’ll leave the measurement question alone, just because I don’t have any experience with it.

But I do check my weight every day, and there are pros and cons to doing so. The pros are mostly about keeping accountable and understanding correlations; not drinking enough water, for example, can actually cause you to retain the little you DID drink (especially if you ate something salty that day), which can reflect pretty quickly on the scale. The con here is that day-to-day losses are usually tiny if they’re even there at all, so if that’s the kind of thing that gets you down (and I admit it does me sometimes), then daily measurements might not be the way to go.

2) REALLY committing to healthy eating

You’d think this one would be all pros, but not quite. Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of pros – meal planning saves huge amounts of money, for one. Your body will take very little time to respond to eating well – and well doesn’t just mean substituting low-fat or sugar-free products wherever you can. My version of healthy eating is eating REAL food, with as little processing as possible. Breakfast every day is 8 egg whites, either mixed with 2/3 c. oatmeal and some cinnamon and cooked like a pancake, or mixed with a cup or so of chopped veggies and cooked like a no-cheese omelette. Lunch is steamed veggies and protein, usually chicken breast (we cook Costco packs of chicken and then freeze it for easy lunches). Dinner is where I can get a little more creative – lean ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning, mixed into a salad; poached cod with fresh dill served on 1/4 c. rice with a side of steamed veggies… you get the idea. We go through a LOT of veggies in this house because of this, but since when is that a bad thing?

The part where it gets challenging is going out. I went out to a friend’s for lunch, and had to bring my own food to make sure it wasn’t cooked in butter or fat or served on pasta or covered in cheese or something. Going to a restaurant has to be a rarity for the same reason. It can also be challenging to come up with creative ways to serve food when pasta is out of the equation, and rice is only a once-in-a-while treat. But facing up to that challenge is such an important part of changing how we perceive food.

3) Doing it all publicly

This is something I’ve chosen to do this time for a lot of reasons. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of them. When I very first starting trying to get my health issues under control (weight is only part of the equation – there was also blood pressure, insomnia, nerve problems that caused debilitating back pain, skin problems, etc. etc. etc.), I had a person who I looked up to and admired very much because she had done EXACTLY what I’m trying to do. Her starting point was almost identical to mine. She’s taken it much further than I ever will – she’s now a competitive body builder – but the fact remains that when she started, she was in almost my exact same situation, right down to her stats. So the pros here are that it keeps me accountable and I (hopefully) will inspire someone else – but the con is, it keeps me accountable – so if I mess up I’m also letting down whoever may be following behind.

Ok. Now for the stats:

Starting weight: 215.0 lbs
Current weight: 212.2 lbs

Weight loss this week: 2.8 lbs
Weight loss total: 9.4 lbs

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Mid-week Blues

So last week I posted a little bit about how I was expecting a plateau. Well, expecting something doesn’t always make it suck less… I’m down less than 0.5 lbs this week, and despite the fact that I keep trying to remind myself of all the reasons this shouldn’t get me down (I’m on my period, my body is readjusting to a healthier way of eating, stairs are getting a LOT easier so obviously I’m doing something right, etc. etc. etc.)… it’s still kind of a bummer.

I know you’re not supposed to obsess over the scale. I know these things take time and blah blah blah. But the hard fact is – in no world is 215 lbs a good weight for a woman of my height (5’8″) to be. My goal weight is actually still significantly above the healthy weight range according to the BMI (because we all know that the BMI is totally bogus). And like everyone else, I am a creature of instant gratification – which is what got me into this mess in the first place.

Our entire culture is geared towards the concept that easier and faster is better, and that nothing that requires hard work or commitment is worth doing. Think about this with me for a minute. There are commercials out there for products that claim, verbatim, to help you lose weight (specifically body fat!) without working out or changing how you eat. There’s a pill out there claiming to do exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, but without all of the sweat and frustration of how I’m doing it. And there’s an instant solution for everything. Low self esteem? You must be depressed, take a pill. Kid not doing well in school? Must have ADHD, take a pill. Or maybe the kid is rebellious and argumentative. We call that oppositional defiance disorder and let’s give them some antipsychotics.

And then this instant-solution mindset starts to take over everything else in our lives.

Fighting with your spouse? Get a divorce. Fighting with your boss or coworkers? Quit your job. Want a bigger house? Here, have a bigger mortgage. Car, clothes, coffee – want, want, want, – now, now, now. We don’t work for anything anymore, and because of that, we don’t value anything either. You can see it everywhere – a byproduct of the incredibly entitled, lazy, narcissistic generation we find ourselves in the midst of.

Ok, that got a little deep there. My point is – I’m bummed out, but that doesn’t mean that quitting is a good idea. Instead, I’ve decided to use this week to try and remember the following things:

1) Do things on purpose. Going for a walk? Concentrate on using the muscles in your calves as much as possible. Making supper? Take a moment to really think about the food you’re making and the people who will eat it. Is it good fuel? Will it help their bodies and yours? When you do things on purpose, those things become more meaningful – and life doesn’t “just happen” to you anymore.

2) Appreciate more, demand less. So the result I’m getting isn’t exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I KNEW that the pace couldn’t keep up with week 1. What I need to do is appreciate the fact that I can get to the top of the stairs of the waterslide without wheezing; I can go for over 30 minutes on the elliptical; I can lift up my son with ease. I’m trying to find the grace in every day.

There was a third thing, but at the moment, I don’t remember it. If I ever do I’ll come back and edit this.

As always, thanks for reading!

40 in 40 – After Week 1

Ok, it’s the end of week 1! And before I post my stats, I want to post a couple of quick notes:

First, the first week or two of any lifestyle change tend to have the most significant results. I do NOT expect these results to continue on every week. In fact, I’m 100% certain, based on past experience, that I will run into a massive plateau around week 3 or so. More on that when it comes. The point here is that my stats this week are not typical, and are caused mostly by water loss – when you start actually drinking enough water, your body doesn’t hang onto it so desperately.

Second, I’m taking a two-pronged approach here: I’m both eating a very structured meal plan, and working out at every possible opportunity. I’m doing yoga every evening, strength training 5 mornings in 7, and hopping onto my elliptical every time I can cobble together 20 or more minutes. And when I say structured meal plan, I mean – 1950 cals/day of lean protein and vegetables. By no means am I starving myself!

Now then, for the big reveal:

Starting weight: 221.6
Current weight: 215.0

Weight loss this week: 6.6 lbs
Weight loss total to date: 6.6 lbs

Check back next Sunday for another week of stats!