Saturday, July 19, 2014

Transferrable Skills

[PSA: "like" my blog's Facebook page to get tips and updates on my blog posts in your news feed. I'm on Instagram and Twitter too!]

The last few days I have been lost in the depths of self-pity. Woe is me, things are challenging so I deserve to eat It's It ice cream sandwiches, goldfish crackers and string cheese until I'm over-full. Because that totally helps the situation, right? And I haven't been to the gym. I had a headache last week that hung around for 3 solid days. It just kept coming back.

Friday I finally managed to kick the headache between back-to-back dosing of Excedrin along with a massage. The massage was AMAZING. Painful at times, but amazing. Best one I've had in ages. I used to get headaches, in my old life, all the time. But since I've started taking care of myself they are a rarity. I know I was eating a lot of crap there for a while but lately I'd been eating better, more whole foods.Well, until the end of last week.

Anyway, I went to bed last night feeling like a loser. Same old behaviors, same old question - why?! But then my higher self stepped in to answer, thankfully. First off, settle down tiger, it's not that bad. Two string cheeses and many handfuls of goldfish do not equal that crap I used to eat. So, yes, reminiscent of old behaviors but do not equate the two. Second, I really didn't eat much yesterday in general so the late night snacks didn't exactly send my calorie count into the stratosphere.

But more important...I'm doing the best I can. I'm a mom, with two young children, and their needs are heavy on my mind these days. And I question myself, sometimes like a cynical CIA agent, doubting my skills as a mother, as a person, doubting my integrity and worthiness. I know, I know - I told you things are hard. I'm going to start writing here soon, more about what's happening in my life. But I have to get things a little more straightened out in my own head first.

Wait, I had a point. About the mother part. I've started to apply the same tools I learned in losing and keeping the weight off to my feelings about myself as a mother. Highlight the positive, accept the imperfections as part and parcel of the journey, expect disappointment, reinforce the good, set myself up for success, know there is no failure as long as one hasn't given up...and most powerful of all, try to see myself as they see me. Those little eyes looking up at me as though I am all that I should be, all that they want me to be. When I allow myself to feel their love, their acceptance, their joy in knowing me as their mother, and not be scared by it, it frees me to bring the very best of me to them. And I know this time, those all loving eyes, it passes quickly. I don't want to waste even a moment of these precious times.

There are lots of ways to be a mom, and this is my way. And my way, on balance, is good. I'm working on replacing that good with great! but I'm not there yet. I've been so hard on myself, so unrelenting in the criticism, the disappointment that I will not succeed in eliminating pain from an imperfect past by creating a perfect present. How many times have I written here about beating yourself up? About how it only serves to undermine, to weaken you for the journey. How bashing yourself on the head over and over again will only leave you weary and behind before you even start. We can't hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love. I read that recently and it resonated with me.

It's more than this, what's happening with me, but in some ways, it all comes down to this. I'm a mother and all moms know, we must be right with our children or nothing else feels right. If I let things hurt me, it trickles to them. So I must be true and good with myself, so I can be true and good for them. Thank you for reading, I know it's a bit off topic.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Goal Weight, Goal Behaviors, Goal Thoughts

[PSA: "like" my blog's Facebook page to get tips and updates on my blog posts in your news feed. I'm on Instagram and Twitter too!]

If you've been following along then you know I've been over my "goal weight" by a couple/few pounds. I'm not sure when I went over but my guess is, it's been a few months. Recovering from the tummy tuck and my evening snacking problem are probably the two biggest reasons for the gain. You might be thinking, "Really, she's worried about being a couple/few pounds over her goal weight?" but what I've come to learn is, it's not about the pounds, it's about the behaviors that led to them.

The number on the scale is an interesting thing. Part of me wants to ignore it altogether and base my "progress" on how I'm behaving and how I feel. The problem with that is, I can get into denial about how I'm behaving and I can convince myself how I feel isn't important. In other words, I can get into a place of, "I don't care," and when I'm in that place 'how I feel' is irrelevant, when I'm in that place, I stop paying attention to my own behaviors - I basically put my head in the sand. The scale can yank my head out of said sand.

So that's where the scale can come in as one piece of factual information for me to take in. Whatever the number, I can't argue with it. I can maybe explain why it is what it is, but I can't challenge the reality of the number. So, the bottom line, for me, the scale still has its place in my weight maintenance. I know women who have stopped weighing themselves altogether, but most of them are years down the road from me. Maybe I'll get there one day, maybe I won't, but I know I'm not there now.

All that said, "goal weight" is becoming more of a concept than an actual number for me. The concept is more about "goal behaviors" and "goal thinking". If I'm thinking and behaving in a goal-oriented way, if I'm making choices I feel good about, I know the number isn't so important. Then again, like I said above...and the two just cycle around like that. So for now, I have this number, 145, and if I go over that, it means I need to take a hard look at my thoughts and behaviors. If there's no problem there, fine, I'm over 145 but all is still right in the world. But if there is a problem (which in this case there is, it's called mindless evening snacking), that warrants some attention.

So I'm on track. Little slips here and there, but those are par for the course. I don't hold an unrealistic expectation of perfect. I know that's just a shortcut to disappointment and failure. I remind myself that even with my plan to track and count calories I will make mistakes. Forever and always. But if I continue to strive, continue to care enough, pay attention, try...I will continue on a path of success.

Speaking of the scale, it was 144.8 the other morning, under 145 for the first time in a while. It has since been back above but I know how these things work. I know if I keep doing what I'm doing the number will settle back into a healthy place.

Speaking of healthy, my workouts are spot on. Monday I went to the gym and did 25 minutes on the upright bike, level 9, followed by legs/shoulders/core. I am this:close to being 100% back since my tummy tuck surgery. There've been two ab exercises I'm still doing with lighter weights but next week, I think I'll be able to step them back up to pre-surgery weights. I can't wait!

Tuesday I went to the gym and ran 3 miles outside, close to 11 minute miles. It was hot, and my legs were a bit sore from Monday, and psychologically I just needed to take it easy so I did. After the run I did back/biceps/core. I even joined in with some gym-buddies for a 5 minute ab intensive, and I'm feeling the impact of that today!

On that happy note, I'll close with a few random pics from my Instagram feed.

Monday's lunch, black bean soup and a half-chickpea/avo sandwich

Max studio skirt, ATL tank, CK cardigan

Snack: tomato, avo, cut up chicken with 1 Tbsp Newman's Own balsamic vinaigrette

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Should I Eat Activity Points? Weekly Points? And Other Weight Watcher Questions...

[PSA: "like" my blog's Facebook page to get tips and updates on my blog posts in your news feed. I'm on Instagram and Twitter too!]

Some of my most popular blog posts of all time are the ones in which I answer these basic questions about Weight Watchers. Of course the answers are nothing more than my opinion but I had a lot of success on WW so it makes sense people would want to know my thoughts on things. Rather than put all this in a comment I'm answering here for a potentially wider audience that might be interested.

To that end, I'm sharing WW related questions posted in a comment from MtngirlinCali.
what's your official take on eating activity points? And if you are wearing a heart rate monitor that is calculating calories during your training, do you just do a conversion to get to activity points? I'm doing Orange Theory Fitness 3 times a week right now -- have lost 20 lbs over the past year and gained some great muscle definition, but after my first few weeks back on WW, I have stalled out. I was maybe eating 2-3 of the activity points I earned. (And I earn 12 for an hour session) I never touch my flex points. Wondering if maybe I need to eat a little bit more (maybe take a protein shake after my workout) and see how that works? But would love to know how you've cracked the code.....
Ok, I'll break these down into numbered questions...
  1. What's your official take on eating activity points?
    Eat them. I used to eat almost all of my APs. Of course, if you're not hungry and don't feel like eating them, don't force yourself, but I never really had that issue. You might know that I'm currently counting calories (as a temporary support to myself, not as a lifelong maintenance plan). I add in my exercise calories and eat those on the days I exercise.
  2. And if you are wearing a heart rate monitor that is calculating calories during your training, do you just do a conversion to get to activity points?
    The way I handled this was unofficial (of course I'm no WW spokesperson so this is all unofficial) but here's how I figured it. I took the calories my Polar heart rate monitor told me I'd burned (NOT the machine or my Garmin, I only felt my Polar was reliable enough to count on those numbers) and for every 100 calories I gave myself 1 activity points. Why? I can't exactly recall but I think I read somewhere that this was roughly how WW calculates APs. Don't quote me on that.

  3. I never touch my flex points
    This isn't a question but I can't help but comment on it anyway. Why not eat them? Have you tried eating them and not lost weight? You mentioned you've stalled, not sure what you mean by that but if you mean you're losing motivation and going off track, maybe giving yourself more wiggle room by eating your weeklies would be something to try? If you can maintain not eating those extras for the rest of your life I say ok, but if you're doing this only to lose weight but plan on eating a bit more during maintenance, reconsider. Maintenance is hard so it's good to get used to eating the way you plan to eat for the rest of your life starting now.

  4. Wondering if maybe I need to eat a little bit more (maybe take a protein shake after my workout) and see how that works?
    Maybe. How do you feel? How's your energy level? Are you satisfied with the way you're eating? I think the greatest thing to do in these cases is to experiment. But one week is not enough, you have to give it around a month. Start adding in that protein shake after the workout and see what happens over your next four weigh-ins. And incorporate how you're feeling in terms of hunger and satisfaction, those are important for maintenance. Hunger is tricky because in the beginning you have to tolerate it while your appetite goes down. But after a couple months I only expect to be feeling hunger in the hour or so before my next planned meal/snack. I'm not happy being hungry all the time and don't know many people that are.
Ok, that's it from me. I'll post my workout/eating/weight update in my next post. Happy day all!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

When Your Legs Give Out, Run with Your Glutes

[PSA: "like" my blog's Facebook page to get tips and updates on my blog posts in your news feed. I'm on Instagram and Twitter too!]

Yep, I said it. It's one of the crazy thoughts I had during my run today. But before I get to that, since it's now Sunday and I haven't blogged since Tuesday, maybe a small update is in order.

You might recall that this past week was a "recovery" week, in which I toned everything down. Mostly. Wednesday was a planned day off from the gym. Thursday I had just an awful day at work. A lot of stress. I did not want to go to the gym after. What I wanted to do was go to the store, buy a quart of ice cream, and sit my ass on the couch until it was time to pick the kids up from pre-school. But no, I knew that would turn one problem into two.

So I did what I do and went to the gym. But I took it way easy, 15 minutes on the upright bike, level 5 and then chest/triceps/core. I really scaled things back, doing light weights and only one or two sets of everything. It wasn't one of those days where the exercise cured all that ailed me but I know I felt better than I would have after a quart of ice cream.

I had the "what's for dinner" thing to do deal with too. And I decided that making a fun dinner with the kids might help my mood. So I stopped at the store and picked up all the ingredients for personal pizzas to make with the younglings.

Once at home I focused on them and making the pizza and just tried to put the workday behind me. For myself I did a chicken breast on the Foreman grill and had that with some marinara sauce on it (sort of made me feel like I was having pizza too). I ate the chicken with a half-of avocado. And a slice of the kids' pizza, and all of the crusts they rejected. BTW, the topping on their pizzas is cut up canadian bacon. A healthier option than pepperoni.

Friday came and I could have, if I really wanted to force it, made it to the gym. But I reasoned that since it was a recovery week, it's ok if I do one less day than normal. Plus I was ready to get the hell out of dodge and the gym would only have slowed my roll. So I had a lovely weekend, complete with a dinner out on Friday night (during which I had two cocktails but skipped dessert) and sleeping in on Saturday morning.

I lounged all day on Saturday, barely doing more than moving myself from one cozy spot to another. And I had a couple beers even. It was just what the doctor ordered. And I took a break from counting my calories. I needed a mental break from all things taxing so I took it. Today, Sunday, was a bit more normal in that I went for a run. But before that I met a couple of dear friends for brunch (which we ate at lunchtime). I had a sausage and mushroom omelet, with country potatoes and a small salad. And two pieces of bread. With butter on them. It was good but I could have eaten a bit more mindfully. I was so busy catching up with my friends I didn't notice my meal as much as I would have liked. And darnit, I forgot to take a picture of it.

A few hours after lunch I went out for a run. And dear me, was it hot out there! I convinced myself to go on said run with my old, "just run easy" line. But this time I did. I started out slow and got slower (by my baseline, of course). Check out these splits.

And notice the 90 degrees. It felt like everything conspired to make a "hard" run - the alcohol and probable dehydration, the heat, not having water with me (don't usually think I'll need it for a 6 miler but in 90 degree heat, yes, I needed it). So that last mile was touch-and-go. And my legs felt like they were done so I decided to mentally engage my glutes a bit more to help out. And that's when I had the brilliant thought, "my legs are giving out, I'll run with my ass."

I dragged myself to the 6-mile mark and then stopped. I was so shaky, hot and just all around done that it took a few moments of rest in the shade before I could muster the energy to open my car to look for water. Thank God I had some or I might have fainted outright. A nice guy was out walking and he happened by on the way to his car. He said he could tell I was dragging and wanted to make sure I had water. We chatted for a bit and I heard about his annual birthday run, which is now a run/walk given that he's getting up there in age, "beats the alternative". Yep, I'm grateful I can run, even on days like this.

For comparison, check out when I did this same run last week. In the morning when it was NOT 90 degrees.

The other lesson is I started out slower last week, running the first mile in 11:40. Even though I felt like I was running "easy" today, given the temp and my condition, I obviously should have started out slower. It feels so much better to pick up the pace as the run moves along. Anyway, the point is, I did it. I pulled out my, "when I can't run anymore, I'll stop, but that moment is not now" mantra and it really helped me close out the mileage. Another reminder...I'm not ready for that half-marathon I signed up for. Gotta think about when I'll start training.

Last thing, I didn't count calories all weekend. I'll start again tomorrow. It's been really helpful and I'm not ready to give it up. I'm super curious to see my weight tomorrow. It's been unreliable given I've been on my period but I think that's pretty much gone now so we'll see.

Ok, it's late, night all!