Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Snowy Hike & Coffee Detox

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I didn't mention this last night but I am away for the weekend. I'm hidden away in the snowy mountains, enjoying a bit of hiking and the peace and quiet of nature. I'm posting from a super cozy spot, worthy of a picture even.

Drinking tea by the fire while I write. Heaven.
The best part of today was a snowy hike. I hiked a bit over 5 miles, climbing some in the first couple miles and then leveling off. The weather was just gorgeous, mid 40's when I started out, no wind, sunny skies. There was snow on the ground, just enough to make the scene gorgeous but not so much that it was impossible to hike in regular hiking boots. I was overcome more than once by the beauty of my surrounds, by how fortunate I am to have moments like this, and by how much it means to me that my body can take me places like this. Of course I have plenty of pictures to share.

Fortunately others had blazed the trail.
With my new walking stick.
I wore a pair or cold weather running tights under my pants, a base layer fleece with a slightly thicker ski sweatshirt over that and then my jacket. I had a headband ready to cover my ears and a hat but I never needed either. On the return trek I put on my gloves as my fingers started to chill. Oh, and I had on knee socks and a pair of hiking socks over those, my toes stayed toasty warm. I was perfectly dressed, not hot, not cold, just perfect.

I needed those two pair of socks - and the hiking stick.
I stopped about 2 miles in for a snack, 2 slices of Canadian bacon on a buttered whole wheat English muffin, and an apple. It was perfect.

A selfie during snack break.
Water cooler.
Here's an elevation profile, showing how I climbed for the first couple miles.

I was worried about how I'd do with the elevation and there being less oxygen in the air. For the first 10 minutes or so I felt a bit more winded than usual but after that, I felt great. Around 2:30pm I got a huge burst of energy. I think it's the caffeine detox.

I was down to 2oz of coffee this morning, which is basically like 4 sips, and I'm feeling damn good. I had a slight headache mid-morning but ibuprofen took care of it. I'm almost off the caffeine and, while I'm super surprised to say this (because I LOVED my morning coffee), I'm not sure I'm going to go back on it. I don't think I need it and I believe it helps my energy level throughout the day to not have it. It makes sense if you buzz up on a stimulant in the morning, you have to crash at some point, right? No caffeine = no crash, I'll take it. I'll have 1oz tomorrow and then be free and clear by the time my 28-day challenge starts on Monday.

I'll close with one last shot from my hike today. As you can see, the snow was patchy in places. There's been very little snow and that may mean water rationing down the road but right now, it made for a perfect hike. And the fact that I would be missing out on these types of things if I didn't stay in shape, that's not lost on me either. I reinforce my choices with payoffs like today.

The types of places my fit body can take me.
I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at

Friday, January 3, 2014

Why Am I Doing This?

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Before I get started on today's stuff, two things I forgot from yesterday. First, tea. I'm drinking the tea again. It's especially nice as coffee and I are "taking a break" and I need somebody to keep me warm. I've mostly been drinking it in the afternoon when I feel myself dragging. I'm sticking with herbal, caffeine-free stuff, since black tea would undermine my caffeine detox.

I have two Republic of Tea teas that I drink sometimes, Get Lost (a weight loss focused tea) and Get Charged (for energy). I like the taste of the Get Charged one better but try to alternate so I don't end up with an imbalance in my tea inventory.

And that's my office electric kettle that I can't believe I've never blogged about. A hot cup of tea on a cold winter afternoon hits. the. spot.

Ok, the other thing I forgot to mention is that I had business right next door to a WW center so I forced myself popped in to get weighed being as it's been a while since I've gone to a meeting. The woman working the desk is the same one that leads the monthly Maintainers meeting. I got to chat with her for a bit and it felt like a mini-meeting just for me. I sure hope to get to the maintenance meeting this month. Anyway, I was a bit nervous to get on the scale, being I had jeans on and all. But I was within range (my WW goal weight is 147 and I was 147.6, or something like that), which was a relief. I forced myself to go in despite being afraid I'd be over.

Ok, on to the other matters of the day. As you know, I’ve been suffering from the afternoon sleepiness lately and it’s been irritating as heck. Today I had 3oz of coffee. That’s 6 tablespoons people! (Assuming I did my math correctly). Not a lot of buzz to keep me going. I was worried about the afternoon lull.

But something entirely different happened today. The afternoon came, and instead of starting to dip, my energy level began to climb! I felt awake, energized and, well, practically like I’d had too much coffee when I’d had only those measly 3oz hours ago in the morning. Was it the “Get Lost” tea? I doubt it because it didn’t have that effect yesterday. I don’t know what it was, but I liked it.

This was around 2pm and I worried it would go away by 4:30 but it didn’t! I still felt like I was firing on all cylinders. I got to the gym and decided to do an outside run. It’s been a good while since I’ve done an after-work run outside. I also decided to just go for it and do my old 3 mile route. Oh man, I crushed it! Unfortunately I did not carefully track my time, I started my heart rate monitor and then chatted for a moment or two with the gym owner before leaving, so some time was added to my time. But when I got back from my run the watch showed a time of 29:30, sub 10-minute mile pace. Boo ya!

I’m back people. Big time. After the run I did chest/triceps/PT exercises and I felt strong and able. Some things are still more challenging than before but overall, it’s getting easier and easier. Today was the first time that I could do all my pushups and maintain good form. It wasn’t easy, I may even have let out a whimper of pain on the final rep, but I did it.

After my workout I went to the informational meeting on the 28day Healthy Living Challenge. The gym owners, Mark and Michael, went over the do’s and don’ts of the challenge and answered questions. I found myself wondering why I was there, why I was considering doing something that had so many don’ts. Normally I am philosophically opposed to eliminating foods for weight management, and this program eliminates a lot of them.

So why am I doing this? What’s the purpose? I wrote about that before, the three reasons, 1: Food – raise awareness of what I’m eating, break bad habits with processed foods, and reign in portions; 2: Experiment with gluten free – I’m curious to see how it feels to eliminate gluten and finally, 3: Weight – I can’t pretend part of this isn’t about dropping the few pounds I’ve gained over the past couple months.

picture of my yummy dinner - curry shrimp over quinoa.
That last reason troubles me. I don’t do “diets” to lose weight, or at least I never have. And I don’t want to start now. So I think I need want to let that purpose go here, for matters of this challenge. If I lose weight, fine. But if I don’t, it’s not that I’m not following the program, “cheating” too often, or any other failure on my part. I’m letting go of the idea that I’m doing this to lose weight so I can let go of measuring “success” on the scale. Success will be about seeing an increase in my awareness, about breaking bad habits, and eating to satisfaction, not overeating. And about checking out the gluten free thing. That’s enough reason for me!

I also know I won’t follow this specific plan long-term. There might be elements of it that I maintain, and I’m sure the learning will continue to influence me afterward, as is always the case when I experiment, but I’m not pretending I’ll be eating “clean” from now on. So, how will I be eating? More on that in my next post. It’s late, I’m tired and ready to rest my weary head.

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Double Issue

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Thursday, January 2nd, 2:30pm:

I'm going to write some of this post now and some tonight. We'll call this the first installment of today's blog. Oh boy am I dragging. I have that afternoon sleepiness thing that was a daily companion pre-weight loss. It disappeared when I got into shape and lost weight but has made a return since I've been off the wagon. In my experience it takes about 3 weeks before I start seeing the positive energy returns of regular exercise. In the meantime, I'm just tired. That means that regardless of how tired I feel, I WILL go to the gym after work. Any slacking now will only lengthen this adjustment period.

Changing subjects...the other day I was telling someone about the extra pounds I've gained these past couple of months and uttered the words, "I'm not happy with my body right now." Almost as soon as I heard them I recoiled, "Wait, what?! You're not happy with your body?". And I immediately retracted, clarified, restated - I am INCREDIBLY happy with my body, it is amazing and has been for my entire life, despite my not always realizing it. It's only that I have a bit more body fat than in my ideal world, not that I'm unhappy with my body. Now, I don't expect this to happen, but even if for some reason I never lost the extra body fat, I'd still be happy with my body. Because I haven't lost my mind, I know I'm in damn good shape and that all things considered, my body is amazing. That is all on that subject. The rest of this post will come tonight, post-workout.

...later that same day, 9:00pm:

Second installment of today's blog...I, as you expected, made it to the gym after work today. I started with Glen's most amazing spin class. Made even more amazing tonight because it was co-led by Mark, the gym owner I told you about who's now all buff and full of energy after losing 65 pounds. The two of them were a riot and between the laughing and the panting the class was over in a hurry. I left at the start of the cooldown because I needed time to lift weights. I had back/biceps/PT exercises.

It's funny how before, I thought all these exercises, like the golfer's lunge or seated row weren't doing anything because they were so easy. Now that they're hard, I realize I was indeed doing something. I mentioned this to a fellow gym-goer and he said, "Well, that's an affirmation that you were actually working to stay in shape, as opposed to being naturally fit." Right. Putting it that way makes it ludicrous that I ever doubted I was doing something, despite how easy it was. Naturally fit, I wish.

Have I mentioned my back pain? Well, it's back, er, returned. I think it's because I'm getting into my routine again and challenging myself. I went to the movies last night and after an hour I got all shifty in my seat trying to ease it. And that was after taking some Advil for a mild (possibly caffeine related) headache. But I'll keep plugging away with the PT exercises and hope that as I rebuild some muscle overall it gets better. Because I do want to get back to some tougher ab exercises one day. I miss my "hard" ab stuff.

By the way, I saw American Hustle. I haven't been to a movie in ages so can I comment on the women's bodies? I mean, bam! Jennifer Lawrence looked like a warm cup of milk (and I mean that in the best possible way) and Amy Adams, she was more like a hot toddy. They both looked amazing, but I guess I'm objectifying them a bit, huh? Ok, the acting was good too, I really liked their work, very intense stuff.

Well, the kids are snoozing, finally so I'm going to tuck in to do the same. I have a busy weekend planned and I need all the rest I can get.

I am a licensed clinical social worker with a private practice offering Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for weight loss and maintenance. I have an office in Marin County, CA and I'm also available to see people via Skype. To learn more please visit my professional website at

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Year in Review and 2014 Goals

Happy New Year!

We hosted a raging party last night, complete with noisemakers and a countdown to the new year. But this party was a bit different than last year (when I went overboard on the wine). It was kid-friendly and we used the New York City ball drop as our "countdown" to 2014. As the (California) clock struck 9pm we shared "cheers" with friends and the preschool set and laughed as they ran around blaring their noisemakers and wishing all a happy new year.

By night's end I'd had a couple glasses of wine and one glass of champagne. Perfect. I cleaned up the house and was all tucked and sleeping before midnight. Ringing in the new year with preschoolers is the way to go. Oh, and despite a work fiasco that meant I left late, I managed to get to the gym, run 2 miles on the treadmill and do chest/triceps/PT exercises before the party. Go me!

Last year I made a few goals for 2013 and now seems like a good time to review them.
  1. Swim, bike, run...with a number on me. I completed all but one of my planned races. And the one I missed was because of pneumonia. My race accomplishments included the Nike half-marathon. I loved it so much I'm considering entering the lottery for the full marathon next year. I'd say this is a goal accomplished.
  2. Reach 25% body fat. I reached 25% body fat in March of last year and about a week later I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Never got back to the 25% again. I'm ok with that, though I'd like to take another crack at it this year, without getting sick.
  3. Maintain, maintain, maintain. I celebrated my first goaliversary in November, maintaining my goal weight for 12 months. As you know, I slipped above my goal weight this past month, but I'm working hard to get it back under 145. In fact, this morning I was 145.2 so I'm getting there. I'll consider this goal mostly achieved. 11/12th of a goal met is pretty damn good.
And now for a few other things I accomplished in 2013.
  1. I volunteered at my first event. The Escape from Alcatraz event was a blast. The other volunteers were so fun and I got to see the pros in action. I plan to volunteer again this year and hope it will be a tad warmer and that I won't have undiagnosed pneumonia. If you have yet to volunteer at a race, get going - it's SO much fun!
  2. I Made Lifetime status at Weight Watchers. I made my goal weight in 2012 but you don't get Lifetime status until you maintain it for 6 weeks (which now seems like a ridiculously short amount of time). In January 2014 I became a key-carrying lifetime member.
  3. I got pneumonia. Twice. This isn't really an "accomplishment" but it's still notable. And when I think about it, the fact that I was struck down twice by this nasty infection and managed to get up and keep going, well that, ladies and gentlemen, is an accomplishment.
  4. I broke the 9 minute mile pace. I still can't believe I ran that fast. I hope I can do it again this year. But I've learned (from my readers) that no pace is "slow" because there's always someone out there for whom my slow is their fast. In other words, just be happy you can run dammit!
  5. I completed an Olympic distance triathlon. The Santa Cruz triathlon was a big deal for me. I swam 1.5k, biked 40k and ran 10k, all consecutively. With a smile. And I learned that a fat girl picked me up.
  6. I backpacked in the Desolation Wilderness. This is the 2nd year I went on this all women backpacking trip. The plan is to do it again in 2014, I think we're talking Big Sur. Having a body that can hike for miles on end with a pack carrying all I need to survive for a couple days, well, that's worth maintaining.
  7. I conquered two BIG hills on my bike. In 2012 I climbed the first (Marshall Wall) of three "big" hills that have always scared me. This past year I conquered the other two, Big Rock and Conzelman Road. I'm not really afraid of hills anymore, but there are a few I'd still like to complete.
  8. I nearly became famous! Big things happened this year in the media department. First, I was featured in an ad for my gym, A Cape Free Superhero. So cool. Next, I got to work with Evelyn Tribole for a Fitness Magazine article. Then I was on the cover of the SF Chronicle's In Marin paper. So exciting! Next, I was in print again when the Santa Cruz Sentinel included me in a story on the Santa Cruz Triathlon. And finally, I was flown to Los Angeles for what is still a secret media related thing. All will be revealed soon!
  9. I started my private practice. If you're a regular reader you know I've educated myself on the psychology of weight loss and maintenance. That, coupled with my own experience and my career came together when I opened a private practice specializing in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Weight Loss and Maintenance.  
  10. My blog got a makeover. I hope it's growing on you as it is me! After 6 years it seemed like a time for change. In February I'll be celebrating 7 years of blogging. That's like 70 years in blog-years!
What a year! I'm surprised by all I've accomplished this past year. It's been a tough year in the personal life department, I hope 2014 is a year of settling in that department. And speaking of 2014, a few goals to strive toward:
  1. Get back to (and maintain) goal weight. This is first and foremost. I inched above 145 (to 147) after a couple/few months of struggling with my eating and exercise. The whole thing started when I was diagnosed with pneumonia in October. As of this morning I was 145.2 so I'm on my way. And my exercise routine is getting back to an actual routine.
  2. Lower my body fat %age. Notice I'm not setting a number goal this time? I'll admit, 25% sounds good, but it might not be reasonable for me. I'm 30% as of today and I'll just focus on lowering it, maybe down to 27 or so, but we'll see.
  3. Go the distance. What distance? Not sure yet, but it might be a full marathon (Nike in October if the lottery gods are with me) or another Olympic triathlon. Even an outside chance I'll do a Half-Ironman (though I doubt it). Whatever race I do, I have a goal to do something. Starting with the Emerald Nut Run 12k in March.
  4. Complete the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge. It starts in only 5 more days and is a 28 day detox/cleanse/healthy eating/exercise thing. There's still time to join me if you're interested!
Of course I have plenty of goals that are not exercise/fitness related but this isn't that blog so that's it. This time next year I'll be again checking in on myself to see how things went. What are you proud to have accomplished in 2013? Any 2014 goals?

Monday, December 30, 2013

4 Random Reasons I Want to Stay Fit

Another day home with the kiddies. It's been so nice to have a string of days home with them. Today we lounged in the morning and later had a midday playdate at the park. We climbed, ran and slid and I noted to myself how good it feels to be physical with the kids. [Playing with the kids, Reason #1]. In maintenance it's so important to reinforce why I wanted this in the first place.

After the park we ran some errands, including Trader Joe's grocery store. Marek grabbed a bag of mini chocolate peanut butter cups because last time we were there I purchased some that we shared - of course I had more than the kids did. So today he tried to toss them in the cart, "we're not getting those this time." He protested mildly but put them back without much guff.

The importance of modeling healthy behaviors was smack in front of me. [Modeling, Reason #2]. I suspect if I hadn't purchased them last time he wouldn't have tried to put them in the cart, they might not have even registered on his radar. It's a good thing what I choose for us most of the time are healthy foods. I can chock that one up to the holidays, even though I know that wasn't it.

In the late afternoon my mom came over so I could get to the gym. I had that 4pm tired feeling - I felt more than a little grumpy too - and I didn't want to go to the gym. I pulled my inner mom-card on myself, "You're going, end of discussion." I've learned enough to know that once I go, I'll be better for it and my grumpy/tired feeling will disappear.

And that's just what happened. I started with 25 minutes on the upright bike and opted to give level 9 a try, the level I'd been doing pre-pneumonia. Ha! It kicked my quads (and glutes). I wasn't able to keep the rpm's I usually keep but I know it's only a matter of time. I think I muttered a curse word under my breath at some point. After the bike I did chest/triceps/PT exercises. I'm already noticing the pushups are getting slightly easier. The planks too were not as difficult as they've been lately. Progress. But still, the workout kicked my ass. As soon as I'm done writing I'm taking a hot bath.
After the gym I hustled home to make dinner. I'd promised the kids a visit to the "Christmas house" after dinner and the post-gym buzz powered me through that just fine. [Energy for everyday life, Reason #3]. Exercise, a magic cure for what ails you. Oh, and my grumpy feeling was gone too, bring on the smile! [Less stress, Reason #4]. I forgot to include this selfie from after yesterday's run so I'm adding it here to pretty up this post. Yep, I just said that.

Last thing - I'm tapering off coffee. I had 8oz yesterday, 7oz today. If I cut my cup by an ounce per day I'll be at 0 come the 1/6/14 start date of the Healthy Challenge. I'm not sure I'll stay off the coffee for the challenge, I plan to try it out and see how it goes. I love my morning coffee and I may not be willing to give it up. Alcohol, no problem. Coffee? We'll see. Not sure tea will do the trick. Another focus is on getting sleep, the challenge calls for us to be in bed by 10pm. Great idea! We'll see how good I am at making it happen. On that note, I'm off to bed to read, 'night.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


147. That's the number from the scale this morning.

So, I'm now over my goal weight. I'd say "it had to happen eventually" but I don't really believe it did. I have plenty of explanations excuses, and none of them really justify what's happened. The only real explanation is that I remain, as before, a food junkie.

I was mitigating that reality with enough exercise and good food choices to keep my weight under 145, my goal weight, for the past year. And then I got sick, again. And I've had some life happens stuff going on. And, and, and.

The only question now is...what to do. I could allow this reality to take me down. Plenty of successful losers have done just that. They slip, fall, and don't get up. I've slipped, no doubt. And in many ways, I am still down. But in the most important way that matters, I'm up.

I have a plan, I have faith, I have a strong internal desire to never give up. This weight loss thing was my dream that I dared to dream (to steal a phrase), and then even bigger, I realized. I will not allow my current struggle to take me down. I know what my 233.8 pound former self would say, she'd tell me to 1. Not take this too seriously and 2. Take this seriously. It's that balance thing again, a little of this, a bit of that. She'd tell me to keep my chin up, focus on the positive. Feels like a list is in order.

What's going right in my eating/fitness world
1. I am exercising and still have a good level of personal fitness
2. I am still within the "normal" BMI
3. I am still blogging
4. I care and I want this
5. I have gained the skills, habits and knowledge to navigate this
6. I am about to start a New Year challenge that will help me gain focus. In other words, I have a plan.

What's not going right in my eating/fitness world
1. 147
2. I am eating a bunch of crap
3. My thoughts. The crap I'm thinking can be as bad as the crap I'm eating

I'd say "I still look good" because that's what most people say when I tell them I'm struggling. But the truth is, my appearance is just not what this is about. Yes, I enjoy looking good, but if I don't feel good, what's the point? I want the inside and the outside to match. If they don't match, it won't be long before they do because the outside will eventually reflect the inside. In other words, if I don't feel good it won't be long before I don't look good either. At least that's my reality, YMMV.

And I can't help but notice that the first list is longer than the second. Of course in diet:think the 147 number eliminates all that's right, but I don't think like that anymore, at least I try not to. That's the kind of thinking that leads to the dark side. As do Hershey's kisses, they lead directly to the dark side. And the good news is, they are gone (because I ate them all).

I'm sure I'll be posting about this more as I work to get myself back into my happy place - mind and body. But for now, let's table it. Because I have better news. I ran today, and more than just a few miles. It was not glorious, nor terrible. It had a moment or two of glory, and some moments of discomfort, but mostly it was just about putting one foot in front of the other and running.

I did a kid-watch swap with my buddy Catherine. She ran first while I watched the kids at her house. I decided to run her route, a 6 mile lollipop route that sounded doable. When she returned she gave me directions and away I went while she watched the kids. The directions included turning right to run a 2-mile loop around "Deer Valley Island". What she failed to mention was that this 2-mile loop was on a trail. With hills. Key pieces of information there Catherine.

But did I falter? No. Did I turn back? No. Did I just keep running? Yes, ma'am I did. My pace was what it was, my legs were sore, my breathing at times labored, but I ran. Oh, turns out the "6-mile" route was 6.5 miles. Hmph.

I was slower than in the past but super happy to come in under 11-minute mile average. The weather was pristine, my body still works.

Full Garmin stats here.
 I know those hills don't look like much but when you've been off the wagon for a bit like I have, they were a challenge. "I like hills, they add interest and challenge to a run, a flat run with no hills at all is boring." Yep, I invoked a bit of hill mantra to keep me happy.

That's it from me. I'm home with the kidlets tomorrow because pre-school is still closed but I have a plan to get to the gym. I still got this. I'm 147 pounds and I still got this.