Saturday, May 25, 2013

It's Over!

I am feeling confident enough to say that I think my slump is over!  Yippeeeee!!!!  Man was I struggling.  And man was it difficult.  Despite how long I've been at this game I am still taken aback by how a period of low motivation can just take. me. down.  My eating was leaving me feeling low and my attitude was somewhat hopeless.  But all that's changed.  The battle is over, I'm back to making healthy choices, to balancing my eating and feeling good about my behaviors.  And most importantly, my thoughts are back on track.  I wish I knew exactly what causes motivation to dip and how to avoid it but I think believe it's an inevitable part of the process.  And surviving those dips is mandatory if I want to keep the weight off.  And I've just survived my first notable slump since reaching my goal.  It was about a month long and it rocked me, no doubt, but I'm feeling a renewed confidence now that I'm coming out of it.

A week or so ago I was chatting with Ian, a trainer at the gym, and he was remarking on how far I've come.  I told him I was struggling and had gained a few pounds.  He gave me the ubiquitous, "You don't need to worry about it, you still look great."  We all know it's not about looks, it's about thoughts and behavior.  And my thoughts and behaviors were not in a good place - which meant I very much needed to be concerned.  And I was, but I tried my best to take my own advice and get through the slump with as little damage as possible.

So when I weighed myself on Friday morning and saw my weight had dipped back down below 140 I felt like a winner!  I was expecting it would take several weeks to lose those few pounds.  Let's hope it stays off this coming week as sometimes a big loss like that means a bit of a bounce-back in the following week.  But, no matter, my mind is back on track and I know from experience that means the body will follow.

Speaking of the body, mine needed a break.  On Friday I had plans to go to the gym after work.  But my lower back was aching all day and I felt like I needed to rest.  So I decided to skip the gym - monumental, I know.  As the afternoon rolled along though, I kept having these compulsions to exercise, "You'd better go now, you'll run out of time."  No, I'm letting my body rest. And then an hour later "Oh, if you go now you can at least get something done."  No, I need the rest.  So after work I called my friend Reina, who is not only a fellow runner but a psychologist to boot, and asked her to tell me I was making a good decision. She said all the right things, "Your body needs rest, if you don't rest you could get an injury and be out longer."  Ding, ding, ding - sold!  Thanks Reina.

I had a very healthy eating day on Friday.  Breakfast, mid-morning tea, a salad with a lean protein for lunch.  Dinner was a bit more indulgent but I kept my portion size small and I took a pass when I had an opportunity to drink alcohol.  I'm feeling too good to drink - if that makes any sense at all.  Today is more healthy vibes.  Here's a picture of today's lunch.

The theme this week in WW was about creating a nice setting in which to eat your meals. I do this a good amount of the time but it was a helpful reminder to use a plate and sit down at the table like a real grown up.   So I sat at the table for my turkey breast and avocado sandwich on Thomas' sandwich thins with tomato, mustard and lettuce. And an apple. And vitamins. And bubbly water. Yummy! 

If there's one other thing I could do to solidify my renewed motivation it's sleep.  I've been staying up WAY too late.  So I'll continue to focus on my eating, think happy thoughts about my 10-mile training run planned for Sunday, and go to bed on time.  That, a family bbq on Sunday afternoon and a (as yet unplanned) fun family day for the four of us on Monday should make Michelle a happy girl.  And I'm a big fan of happy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Aspiring to Inspire

So I sat down at 9pm to write this post - it's now 10:15 and I'm just getting started.  But I have a good excuse.  You remember Mark, the guy that owns my gym and who asked me to be featured in their latest ad campaign

Mark and I with my poster
Well I have some super exciting news!  Mark is on his way...he started a journey to lose the weight he's put on in recent years.  He wrote an entire post about how I inspired him to start blogging his weight loss/healthy lifestyle journey - Inspired by the Aspiring.  And, he's already down 10 pounds!  Friggin' men lose weight so fast.  Yay, Mark!  Congratulations on seeing your hard work pay off.  Please pay Mark a visit at Here I Go Now and if you're so inclined, give his new Facebook page a "like".  We all know how hard it is to put yourself out there and Mark is taking that bold step in the direction of his dreams. 

[And Mark, stop weighing yourself every day, you're gonna make yourself crazy.  Ok, fine, keep weighing yourself everyday if you must but if you start to go bonkers, try weekly.  Wink.]

Ok, back to my favorite :)  Kidding.  Sort of.  Anyway - things are rolling along over here.  I'm continuing to see improvement with my eating.  And more importantly with my thoughts related to the eating.  I'm wrangling all the sabotaging thoughts and focusing my energy on what I've done right and why my goals matter as much as they do.  Still a bit snacky in the evening hours.  I think I had 2.5 oatmeal cookies tonight but I can't remember, which is kind of noteworthy.  I mean if I can't even remember if I ate that second cookie (or not, though I sorta think I did) what does that tell you about how much I enjoyed them?  

Instead of mindful eating it's more like mindless eating.  Not good.  Take note, Michelle.  If you're going to eat multiple cookies in one evening at least sit down and enjoy the damn things!  Ok, I'm talking to myself again.  In any case, the cookies were homemade oatmeal raisin so that's better than super processed grocery store cookies, right?  Still, 2.5 is more than I needed, 1 would have been sufficient.  Especially 1 that I ate mindfully.  Anyway, on to better subjects...

Exercise!  It's going pretty well.  Well, my body is starting to rebel something fierce but my will remains strong.  Wednesday was a day off.  I took the kiddos to the dentist.  Myra was pretty much ordered to give up her nighttime biddies (aka pacifiers).  So we did a little passing of the paci's by taking them to a friend's house with a baby and giving them away, "because you're a big girl now Myra and you don't need them anymore but the baby does."  It was all sweet and cute as she happily handed them off...until bedtime.  Oh boy, she sounded like Regan MacNeil a few times and almost scared me!  I was in and out of her room for a couple hours trying to help her settle.  But eventually she did, and tonight was a bit smoother. 

I had dinner with some mom friends and probably over-ordered and probably overate - but it was yummy and satisfying and this is my preferred way to indulge (a fun meal out as opposed to snacking on a bunch of crap every night of the week).  I had a grilled octopus appetizer that turned out to be slathered in pesto sauce (which was not mentioned on the menu - I should have sent it back), a beet salad (which was slathered in some kind of cream dressing), and linguine with clams (yum!).  And, they had a roasted banana pudding desert that I just had to have.  Fortunately I passed on the alcohol though so there's that calorie savings.

Today was a typical workday with a non-typical super yummy lunch.  But by the time work was over though I was hungry and realized I'd had no afternoon snack.  So I munched on 1/3 of a Clif Bar on my way to the gym and that did the trick.  At the gym I started with a 3 mile run on the treadmill.  I'm starting to get a tad bit of burnout on the running.  I really need to do a triathlon.  I mean really.  So far this year all my events have been running and it's getting old.  My next event is a 1/2 marathon and then I'm planning to do the Tri for Fun in June (though that's sort of up in the air at the moment).  Anyway, I got through my run - 3 miles in 26:42 - and then moved on to legs/shoulders/core.  Despite my legs being a bit sore during my run they were great for strength training. 

But my lower back is not so great.  I'm not sure why it's bothering me again but I've vowed, seriously vowed, to take it a bit easy next week in the hopes that it will help ease things.  Oh dear me I hope I can.  With my eating being a bit wonky I've been hanging on to the exercise as my lifeline to sanity.  It's hard to think about a recovery week but I know my body needs it.  It's just my mind needs to keep pushing.  But I'll figure it out, I know I will. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Definition of Insanity

A brainy guy once said it's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Well slap that label on me because that's what I've been doing.  Okay, not entirely.  I've made some big improvements in the eating department during the day.  I've stopped the random purchase of candy, chips and other junk food - which was really "bad" - and now I'm left with the evening snacking to tackle.

Funny how, on this journey, we have to learn and re-learn and then learn again.  Shift, dodge, dive and tackle, the game never ends.  But it's always more fun when you've got winning momentum on your side and when I check the scoreboard, I'm winning by a wide margin.  So I'll use that momentum to keep chipping away at these bad unhelpful habits that've put me on the defensive.

As has been the case, exercise continues to go well.  My body is asking for a break but I'll tell you the truth, I'm inclined to push it for now.  I like the feeling of power and force I get when tackling (there goes the football metaphor again) and overpowering my workout.  That said, I think next week I'll do recovery week protocol - a little lighter and easier all around. 

Yesterday was a gym day - 25 minutes on the upright bike, level 8, random.  I played around with the bike until it gave me what looked like a slightly easier "random" route.  Then it was back/biceps/core for strength training.  My lower back was wincing a bit here and there, not sure where that came from, but everything else worked well.  And I was aaaalmost able to do two sets of 4 pullups.  This pullup thing is going way slower than pushups but it's the nature of the back, a hard part of the body to strengthen (or so my fellow gym-rats tell me).  But I won't stop until I get to three sets of 8, however long that takes. 

After the kids were in bed I again had some cookies and a couple dinner rolls.  All this despite plans to avoid any late night snacking.  I was thinking about this today, trying to figure out what's going on, when I had the idea to have a more substantial after dinner snack.  Except instead of junk like cookies and bread, I'll have something healthy like Greek yogurt and fruit.  Maybe I can use a hearty snack to transition away from the junk.  And then eventually I might not need the snack anymore at all.  That's how things used to be.  Sometimes I'd have a cheese stick or a couple crackers but not this eating, eating, eating thing that's been irritating me.  Though it is not irritating me, there is no it, my choices are irritating me.   And the good news is, I am the one who makes my choices.  So if I want the irritation to stop, and I do, I need to make different choices.  Sounds so simple, doesn't it?  And sometimes it is, but sometimes it's not.

Today was a weird food day.  I had Grape Nuts for breakfast (I've gone back to them to add variety but just one box, I won't be keeping them in the standard rotation) and a banana for a mid-morning snack.  Come lunchtime I was all tied up at work and missed the cafeteria lunch hour.  So I had a Clif Bar instead.  Then I had a cheese stick before hitting the gym.  You'd think I would have been starving but I actually felt okay.  Probably still topped off from all the food last night.

After work I hit the gym.  I got there later than planned and instead of my normal 3 mile run I only had time for 2 miles.  So I pushed it and ran the two miles in 17:15 which is, what, an 8:37.5 pace?  Yep, yep.  Then it was on to chest/triceps/core for strength training.  I did a couple sets of my pushups with my feet up on a bench instead of on the ground.  Woooo, that was hard.  And my lower back was not happy to be doing decline crunches.  I focused hard on keeping my ab muscles tight to give it all the support I could but really, I need to just drop them for a while.  I hope somebody somewhere is playing a tiny violin for me. 

I had black beans, cream, avocado, a flour tortilla and half of an avocado for dinner.  And later I had an oatmeal cookie.  And I'm hungry as I write this so I think I'll have a bowl of Kashi GoLean.  That's healthier than more cookies and/or bread.  And then, I will go to bed.  Just as soon as I finish watching Newlyweds: The First Year.  Because bad TV has no calories!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

9 Miles the Easy Way

I'm feeling myself slowly coming out of the food funk I've been in.  Some neat things are happening with my career and that's encouraging me to get my butt in gear across the board.  Friday was a gym day but I had plans after for a hike in Point Reyes.  I considered skipping the gym in light of the hike but in the end I knew the hike wouldn't be enough soooo, I hit the gym.  I did a 3 mile treadmill run followed by legs/shoulder/core for strength training.

After work I headed west for what I hoped would be a pleasant, peaceful, beautiful hike along the ocean.  And I wasn't disappointed.  To give you an idea...

The view out toward Tomales Point
The weather was gorgeous.  There was wind of course, there almost always is when you're this close to the ocean, but it wasn't too bad and there was plenty of sunshine to balance it out.  And the wildflowers were AMAZING!  At one point I was wading through shoulder height flowers and felt like I was in a movie. The hike was everything I was looking for - mostly some time away from the hustle and bustle of life and a beautiful view.  Tomales Point Trail did not disappoint.  And the Tomales Bay Elk only added to the drama of it all. But it was hard on my legs toward the end, the upper back part of my calves were tightening up and I worried about my planned run the next day.  Maybe a treadmill run, weight lifting focused on my legs and a hike were a bit much for one day.

So I told myself that if I only wanted to run 3-4 miles instead of my planned 9, well, that's well within my rights.  I woke up this morning and my calves were so tight I was limping a bit.  But I hoped running used a different part of my leg muscles than hiking and that the tight calves wouldn't be a problem.  I had some breakfast and coffee and sat around for a bit before hitting the road.  I wore my Garmin so I didn't need a set route.  The weather was lovely, a tad warm in the sun but with enough of a breeze now and then to make it okay.

I ran down a road that eventually put me at the entrance to Indian Valley preserve so I decided to run down the fire road because on the other side there was a water fountain.  It was fairly warm outside and water sounded good.  I got to the water fountain a bit before the 3 mile mark.  I'd checked my Garmin and saw I was running around 10:30+ minute miles, "perfect," I said to myself.  I'd decided that whatever pace I was running was the perfect pace that I should be running.  After last week's rough 8 miles I just wanted to relax and enjoy my run.  Plus I had a lot of thinking to do so I didn't want to be distracted by suffering. 

Around mile 6.5 I started to feel myself dragging.  Time for some ShotBloks.  I've been backing way off the energy gels to see if that helps with the cramping and it has.  I think my stomach can't process all that stuff.  So I had two and within 20 minutes I felt the boost of quick energy.  I finished up my last mile in 9:48, partially motivated by my buddy Kristy pointing out that I always finish strong.

Mainly I was proud of myself for running the whole 9, especially that I'd given myself full permission to bag it at 3-4 miles if I felt the need.  But running slow was just the ticket to keep me moving the entire time.  If I'd pounded out 9:30 or even 10 minute miles I never would have lasted.  Slow and steady was the key today.

Food has also been slowly improving.  I'm getting there, and just like my run, slow and steady progress will always get me there in the end.