Wednesday, December 16, 2009
...I'm very happy to report that as of this morning I weighed 199.2! Somehow, I managed to pull off a 2.4 pound loss this week. And I know exactly why.
I bitch and moan about it, but intense exercise is crucial for my weight loss. Cutting calories alone doesn't do much for me. It has to be moderate calorie restriction combined with regular hard workouts.
Monday night I did level two of the 30-Day Shred--a great workout. Tuesday night I did my favorite workout DVD ever, Denise Austin's Boot Camp. It's 40 minutes of cardio with bursts of strength training as active recovery.
I completed four solid workouts this week, and watched my calories for four days out of seven. It wasn't a perfect week by any means. I ate pretty badly over the weekend and didn't get much exercise. But I turned things around Monday, got back to work and successfully made up for it.
I feel like I'm starting to put some of the "pieces" together. My weight loss equation is becoming clearer. This past week confirms my belief that it's not necessary to put your life on hold to lose weight. I am perfectly fine with making modest changes that results in a slow, steady loss. But under 200 is nice to see! My weight starts with a one, not a two. :)
However, I realize backsliding up into the 200's again is absolutely possible. I'm heading home to Indianapolis on Saturday, and I'll likely be inundated with food and alcohol for a full two weeks. So the exercise needs to come up a notch to accommodate for these factors. I'm starting to believe I can do this! I feel different already!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Top reasons I am NOT going to have a cupcake when they're distributed at my office this afternoon:
- An hour after eating it, I'll feel completely wiped out and shaky.
- They're caked in super sweet buttercream frosting that hurts my teeth and makes my tongue feel slimy.
- The post-cupcake tiredness will cause me to skip my workout later since "I already blew it today."
- I have no idea how many calories would be in said cupcake. Could be anywhere from 350-800, and I don't like those odds!
- In two months, I'll never remember the pain of resisting this cupcake, but I might be wearing smaller jeans!
- Tomorrow is Weigh-In Wednesday, and if I don't work it, I'll have to report a gain to all of you in Internetland!
Monday, December 14, 2009
...to get in all my exercise despite a busy week trying to prepare for my trip home to Indianapolis.
...to get out of the sugar cycle.
I had a really fun weekend. On Friday night, I stopped at the grocery store on the way home to get dinner supplies, resisting the urge to go out to eat. I also did my 30-Day Shred as soon as I got home. For dinner I made coconut-crusted halibut and rice. I had a nice small 4 oz portion of fish, but then I ate too much of the white rice. I'm sure it was still better than eating out, though.
Saturday morning my choir sang Christmas carols for Christmas at Fenway, an annual fun event at Fenway Park for season ticket holders to come enter a lottery to decide which seats they'll get for the Red Sox season. We sang carols for three hours; it was fun, but really exhausting!
After a nap, Jeff and I headed back downtown for my choir's big holiday concert. It was at Marsh Chapel at Boston University. Here's the outside of the chapel. Breathtaking!
Here's the inside. Equally impressive!
Here's a shot Jeff took of my choir performing. If you look closely, you can see me just above that woman's head:
Lastly, a shot of me and a couple friends after the show. I'm on the right!
After the concert we walked seven FREEZING blocks to Boston Beer Works. I was wearing terribly uncomfortable heels. Well, really any heels are intolerable when you're carrying around 200 pounds of person! Sure, 120 pound girls can wear those four-inch heels, but try wearing them while holding two 40-pound hand weights.
I ate a little too much at Boston Beer Works and had two and a half full-calorie beers. I definitely had a food/slight alcohol hangover the next morning. So what did I do? Ate white bread, pizza and pumpkin cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. Not good. Then I had the other half of my pizza for dinner, so it was all in all a terrible day. Very little protein, and the only vegetable I consumed was the fatty Caesar salad I had before the pizza. I also drank very little water. The only good decision I made on Sunday was having raspberries as a post-dinner snack. My feet were still literally swollen from the night before, so I didn't even get any exercise. Pretty pathetic.
This morning at work, I felt completely disoriented and unfocused. Part of it had to do with my medicine; this new anti-depressant makes me dizzy for a few hours after I take it. But it was worse today. I literally came out of the bathroom (that I use every day), and I felt so out of it that I didn't know which way to go. Then it occurred to me--I was having serious withdrawal after all that sugar and white flour. I felt lifeless and terrible. I was dehydrated and overcaffeinated. In short, my body was not happy with me.
I turned things around today, thankfully. I drank lots of water, ate well and did my 30-Day Shred as soon as I got home. Here's to making the rest of this week just the same! :)
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
For the past few months, I've fluctuated between 199-207, generally staying around 204. Only once did I get down to 199, and I was ecstatic. So ecstatic that I rewarded myself with food and laziness and quickly put on a few pounds again.
Ridiculous, right? We're talking about a difference of like five pounds here. It isn't real weight loss, but seeing a number that starts with a 1 instead of a 2 really gets me excited. (Even though these numbers are so arbitrary when you think about.)
Anyway, the past couple months I've noticed a pattern. 201.6 is the number I hit when I'm starting to do well; when I've been on track for a few days, getting some activity, etc. But every single time I bounce back up almost immediately after reaching it. I'm so excited to almost be permanently out of the 200s that I sabotage it. This pattern has to end.
I desperately want to prove to myself that I can lose an actually noticeable amount of weight. For the past three years I've been at almost this exact weight. I really want to lose at least 10 pounds to show myself I can reach a goal if I truly work for it. But thinking about it that way puts too much pressure on everything. I start to feel overwhelmed and give up out of frustration and impatience.
So I'm not "celebrating" this small loss; not this time. I'm not in this for the short run anymore. I choose to celebrate the fact that I've felt more positive recently and am getting on a better track, in general.
Will I break the pattern and continue downward next week, and the weeks after it? We'll see, but I know for sure that my whole mindset is going through a serious positive shift!
Here's my exercise game plan for the rest of the week:
- Tomorrow--Yoga class and running one mile. Last week after yoga I decided to try to run a mile and see how I did. I'm happy to report I ran a 12 minute mile. Not too bad considering I almost never run! I'm planning to continue running just a bit after yoga each week in an effort to improve my endurance.
- Friday-Sunday. Do the 30-Day Shred twice.
Monday, December 7, 2009
We had a pretty wonderful weekend. I'm cautiously optimistic that the Wellbutrin is helping me feel more like myself. It could just be the holiday spirit, but I was smiling and laughing all weekend!
Friday night we grabbed drinks with some friends at a bar in downtown Boston. Here's a shot of Jeff and me:
Saturday night we attended Jeff's work Christmas party in Worcester. I forgot the camera, so no pictures of that, but it was pretty uneventful, as most work parties can be. I had some fantastic coconut salmon and tried bok choy for the first time, so that was a plus. I think some bok choy experiments are in order...
Sunday we had an absolutely fantastic day. We did some Christmas shopping, got lunch, saw A Christmas Carol in 3-D (I liked it!), then came home and decorated the Christmas tree. If you remember, Jeff tried to get me to decorate the tree last weekend, but I was in a black cloud. Well, with a cup of Starbucks hot chocolate in hand and a homemade (except for the crust) pizza in the oven, I was in better spirits. Here's a pic of the pizza. I used the Pillsbury ready-made dough, and it was just okay; it had a biscuit-like texture and not much flavor. I don't know about you, but if I'm going to eat white flour, it better be something delicious! I think I'll stick to my usual Stop n Shop whole grain crust. Toppings were a small amount of light mozzarella, onions, green peppers, a few turkey pepperoni and some dabs of fat-free ricotta cheese!
After pizza, served with steamed brussel sprouts, we turned on the Christmas music and got to decorating. Here's a before and after on the tree. We have lots of goofy ornaments we've acquired over the years, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Sydney and the undecorated tree:
And Jeff putting on the finishing touches:
Eating hasn't been fantastic. I had McDonald's on Saturday and some Chinese food on Saturday, not to mention two beers on Friday night and four on Saturday night. I've decided to go back to calorie counting for awhile until I get a better handle on things. Today I ate around 1590 and got 30 minutes of intense cardio in--not too bad. Things are looking up. :)
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
As of this morning I weighed: 203.2
Okay, on to some more updates! As I mentioned in my last post, I've been experiencing some depression lately, so I talked to a psychiatrist on Tuesday. She agreed that the low energy, lack of focus and feelings of hopelessness all point to a chemical inbalance in my brain. She prescribed me a mild anti-depressant (Wellbutrin), which I started taking today. I looked up the side effects online, and thankfully weight gain wasn't one of them, so I was relieved!
It felt really good to acknowledge this emotional rut and declare it a work in progress. I know the medication won't be this miracle drug that makes my life suddenly perfect; I'm just hoping to emerge from the black cloud enough to recapture control of my life.
In other news, eating and exercise have been pretty good. I've been doing lots of yoga and taking walks, which feels like a pretty good combination for now. Tomorrow I'm going to my weekly yoga/pilates class. My friend and I have been going consistently for a couple months now. I don't feel like I've made significant strides yet, but I've definitely gotten some great ab work in! I'm aiming to do at least three hours of yoga a week on a regular basis. My dream is to attend a ritzy yoga retreat somewhere exotic. I definitely need to build up my strength and repertoire of poses before I take that leap.
I've also been really busy performing with my choir. I'm a member of an elite group of singers that performs around Boston, and the holiday season is a busy time! Tonight we performed for a really sweet group of elderly residents at a local retirement home. They really enjoyed the upbeat numbers, and I could see the happiness and appreciation all over their faces as they took in our performance. After the show I spoke with several of the attendees. One took hold of my hand and told me over and over how much she enjoyed the show, and I could tell it really brightened her day to chat with me for a bit. It was one of the most rewarding concerts I've had since joining the group a few months ago.
Being part of this group is time consuming, with rehearsals and performances every week, but I realized tonight what a healthy activity it is to have in my life. Instead of laying around watching HGTV all night (what I would have done if I'd been at home), I engaged in something I love doing and connected with a group of people that really appreciated me. And none of it involved food. (Except for the cookie table they had out after the concert, which I deftly avoided!)
I leave with you an adorable pic of my dog, Sydney, cuddling with Jeff's XBox controller:
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I have a really rough family history with mental illness. My mother has crippling bipolar disorder and has been unable to hold a job for the last 20 years. My father has chronic depressive symptoms and has become a moderate alcoholic in the last 10 years. My brother has severe panic disorder, and at 21 years old, he still hasn't graduated from high school.
As I mentioned in my introductory post, I've faced some serious depression in the past. I gained around 60 pounds in college when depression set in and my life spiraled out of control. Fortunately, I found that once I got my life in order again, I didn't feel like I needed the Prozac anymore. For the past three years, I've managed my depression my keeping to a more active lifestyle and a normal work schedule.
But it hasn't been working lately. I've been completely unable to focus at work and my performance has slipped. I sometimes fight back tears all morning for no reason at all. I constantly sabotage my weight loss efforts because I'm unable to maintain that stride.
I have a mental health assessment scheduled for Tuesday morning, and to be honest, I'm desperate for help. I just don't feel like myself. All day today, my boyfriend has tried to get my out of my black cloud. He suggested we decorate the Christmas tree--I refused. He checked in on me as I slept all day and hid from the world. He went out to get pizza for lunch and made us big salads to go with it. He took a walk with me, though I didn't speak much the entire time.
I've never associated myself with the idea of emotional eating. I spend too much time blaming my weight issues on family history, discounting my very real issues with food. Here's a list of what I've eaten today:
- Large bowl of Fiber One cereal with skim milk
- String cheese
- 260 calories of rice pudding
- 3 large slices of extra cheese pizza
- Dinner roll
- Large salad with light dressing
- Several bites pumpkin pie
- Low-fat carrot cake cupcake
- Piece of pumpkin bread
- Several large marshmallows
- 2 large pieces Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark chocolate
- Another string cheese
I insisted on sitting in my cloud, denying that I was using food to soothe myself. Until I realized I'd been eating constantly all day. It doesn't feel emotionally-charged when I'm doing it. But then I looked at my day today: gloomy, depressed, didn't stop eating all day. There has to be a connection there.
Even writing this post tonight was a step in the right direction. When I'm off the wagon I just want to hide. Admitting to my action today and putting there out there took a lot of guts for me. I like to pretend these days don't exist, then turn around and bellyache about not being able to lose weight. Well it's time to break the cycle. I will NOT think of myself as a victim to some weight-loss-preventing demon that I can't name. I am overweight for a reason, and hopefully after my appointment on Tuesday, I'll have some perspective on the depression that seems to be at the root of these issues.
Now I'm going to make a light dinner, do that yoga and put up the Christmas tree--this day doesn't have to end the same way it started.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I find all these women amazing and inspirational, however I often fall into the trap of comparing myself to them. I know, I know--comparing yourself to others is usually a horrible idea. But as someone trying to figure out what sort of healthy lifestyle will work best for, for someone trying to get to it again, it's sort of unavoidable. These blogs offer a wealth of information and better yet, they offer the personal perspective of a real, live person that has likely gone through many things I have.
I typically divide these bloggers in my mind--the ones I can relate to and feel inspired by, and the ones that generally leave me feeling bad about myself. For example, I completely relate to Roni from Roni's Weigh, Lyn from Escape from Obesity, Mary from A Merry Life, Miranda from Fat Bridesmaid, Shauna from DietGirl and Jennette from Pasta Queen. These women seem to approach healthy living in way that feels attainable for me. They live busy, normal lives. They enjoy treats often and in moderation. And they slip up frequently, but always get right back on the horse. These women have shown me that it's completely possible to lose and maintain weight by balancing everything and never stopping. They inspire and motivate me.
Then there are the group of bloggers that keep to lifestyles that sound really rigid. I completely support these women and absolutely respect their decision to choose the lifestyle that works best for them. But personally, it sounds impossible. Bloggers like Lynn from Lynn's Weigh and Joania from Joania's Journey seem to have willpower of STEEL. They very, very rarely deviate from their food plans, almost never miss a workout, and make no excuses about their decision to live their lives this way. I find it AWESOME and completely empowering that these women have taken complete control over "calories in and calories out." All the bloggers I follow have most certainly claimed completely control of their lives and are very strong women, but the second group seem to exhibit a level of self control to their diets and exercise regimes that seems almost fanatical. I say this completely from my own perspective, as it's up to every single person to determine what works best for themselves.
The problem I run into is constant self doubt. One the one hand, it feels more comfortable to take a moderate approach to my healthy living journey. I'm trying to make small challenges that add up over time. I let life intervene--a lot, I'll admit. I skip the workout if I'm exhausted or sick. I grab takeout if I've cooked all week and need a break. I have more than one glass of wine if I feel like and the rest of my day has been good.
But then I read these blogs of other people with enviable progress. I begin to wonder if the super slow approach will even get me anywhere. I contemplate getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise every day. I ponder cutting my calories down to less than 1000 a day and quitting coffee and tea. I feel guilty I don't use more organic products. I watch The Biggest Loser and constantly say to my boyfriend, "How can that woman lose 12 pounds in a week and I haven't lost that in a year??"
On the one hand, maybe I should set a program and just stick to it, never giving it another thought. But doesn't that limit the potential benefits of all this blog exposure? Isn't blogging essentially an attempt to connect with and learn from anyone out there who can relate to what you're going through? However, can't it be detrimental to your overall progress to constantly doubt your efforts and consider switching to another plan altogether?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Anyone who's carried even a little extra weight knows how emotionally taxing it can be to see the doctor. Doctors' scales are highly accurate and can certainly be a wake-up call if you haven't weighed yourself recently. I remember weighing in at 236 one winter morning two years ago. I hadn't weighed myself in several months, but knew I'd put on quite a few pounds as I literally had to wear sweat pants every single day. I felt and looked terrible, but I was in denial about my overall weight gain; seeing that number was a serious punch in the stomach. As soon I got back to my car in the parking lots, I burst into tears and cried for hours. This was after begging the doctor to prescribe me Adipex or another appetite suppressant. He refused, and I felt completely hopeless. At that time, I really didn't think I could lose any weight without the help of medication.
Thankfully, I'm much lighter today and knew what to expect from the evil doctor's scale. My scale this morning read 202.4, so seeing 205.6 was no surprise in full clothing after two meals.
No, the number that somewhat startled me today was my blood pressure. I'm certainly genetically prone to higher blood pressure thanks to my family history, so I'm always a bit concerned about it. Last time I measured it, it was 126/81. Today it was 140/90.
Granted, the last time I took it was at a machine in a pharmacy, so that could account for some of the difference. Plus, I tend to start having a mini anxiety attack as soon as I step in the doctor's door, so stress could certainly be a factor. But these are all just excuses.
140/90 isn't classified as high according to this index, but it's absolutely borderline high. It's borderline high blood pressure. And I'm 25 years old.
I recently had my cholesterol measured, since I have a godawful family history there as well. It was 198, just two points shy of being high. My mom once had cholesterol of over 1000--literally so high she should have been dead. There's so way she could eat enough fat for it to be that, so clearly there was something wrong with her body. I'm sure I'll have issues with it someday--we seem to have the same physical characteristics for almost everything. So it's something to be concerned about, for sure.
Okay, so I'm borderline high pressure and almost borderline high cholesterol. It sounds to me like I'm dangerously close to developing metabolic syndrome. All I need to now is insulin resistance (pre-Diabetes) and I've never been tested for that, so I could have it already.
Most of the time I feel healthy. I'm overweight but active, and I never feel my weight holds me back (except emotionally). But despite feeling healthy, I'm NOT. I'm borderline everything, in terms of my health, and that's not a place I want to be at my age.
It's time to stop living a borderline life. It's time to be as healthy and happy as I can possibly be.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
For these past three years, I've been scoffing at .5-1.5 weekly losses. If I'd never given up, I'd have slowly and steadily lost these extra 50 pounds! So that's the plan. Track calories and exercise to learn more about how my body works, but give up the scale obsession. And more importantly, I need to focus on really, truly loving myself without make my weight the criteria by which I measure my happiness.
I want to use this space to mainly focus on living my best possible life. In that vein, I want to share a delicious recipe I made for my boyfriend and me! :)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 1 pound of extra-lean ground beef
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded and squeezed dry
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 slice whole grain bread as breadcrumbs
- 2 egg whites
- 1/3 cup tomato ketchup
Preparation:Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray a nonstick or silicone muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Crumble ground beef into a large bowl. Add shredded carrots and zucchini, and chopped onion and green pepper. Add chili powder, Worcestershire sauce and breadcrumbs. Stir with a fork. Add egg whites and knead until well blended.
Spoon mixture into prepared muffin pan and top each cup with ketchup. Bake for 25 minutes, making sure that the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Makes 6 mini meatloaves.
I served it with steamed broccoli to look something like this:
Delicious and just the right size!
Calories today: 1620
Activity: 20 minute walk around my office building
Feeling: Exhausted but happy :)
Monday, November 16, 2009
A quick rundown: My name is Lauren. I'm a 25-year-old Indianapolis native currently navigating the Boston area with my boyfriend of five years, Jeff, and our miniature schnauzer, Sydney. Here's a recent picture of the three of us:
By day I'm a public relations executive for an agency specializing in high-tech clients and social media, so I'm no stranger to the blogosphere from a professional perspective.
Personally, I'm in a rut. I've struggled with weight and depression for years. I weighed around 170 for most of high school, and while I was a bit chunky for 5'6", I generally felt okay about myself. I've always thought of myself as "pretty, but I need to lose 3o pounds." In fact, that sentence basically sums up my internal monologue regarding my looks. And I should really work on that.
Anyway, I fluctuated in college and found I felt really comfortable around 160. I wasn't skinny, but I looked great! I've always been larger chested, and looking back on pictures from that time, I can't believe how fantastic I looked. But inside I was still horribly insecure, reeling from several terrible relationships and depressed parents.
In 2004 I began dating my current (amazing) boyfriend, Jeff; I was 19 and weighed around 170. I felt confident, sexy--he made me feel great about myself and my body. Slowly, though, we began retreating into our own little relationship world. We began skipping class and ditching friends to hide away at his apartment. We loved each other, but we had no idea how to balance our obligations with this fantasy "love nest" we'd created. My depression spiraled out of control; my friendships began to crumble; my grades plummeted. Of course, one thing managed to go up: my weight.
Jeff and I awoke from our love como a year and half later to find we'd both gained 60 pounds and nearly failed out of college. I was shocked to learn at the doctor's office that I weighed nearly 240 pounds. I didn't recognize the person I'd become.
As we began to get back on track with school and our lives, the weight started coming off, too. We did Weight Watchers in fall 2006, each losing around 30 pounds. And we also both successfully finished college, GPAs still relatively intact.
But there I've been, hovering around 203, for over three years now. I suppose I should include the quintessential unflattering before pic. Here you go, for all to see...
Anyway, Jeff topped out at 230 and gradually made his way down to 169. It's hard not to compare myself to the infamous Man Standard. They're like, "Hey, I have no issues staying on my plan--I just do it. Man, I've dropped ten pounds in the last two weeks, and I haven't even been working out!"
I've been putting together a lot of the pieces of the weight loss puzzle, but they just haven't been creating a consistent picture. I cook lots of healthy meals, exercise regularly, drinks lots of water, take the stairs--all the things they tell you should help you lose weight. If there are fat skinny people, as is thin people that are actually really out of shape and unhealthy, then I'm a skinny fat person.
Well, here I am, hoping to figure out the reason my pieces haven't yet fit together. In a nation with a food industry dedicated to creating the fattiest, most irresistible concoctions ever known to mankind, the issue of extra weight is hardly uncommon. But I've found so much enjoyment from reading the stories of other healthy living bloggers, and I'm hoping I can get a taste of the encouragement I've been so willing to offer others. Maybe I can deflect some in my own direction, as well.
I leave you with my signature toast and this blog's namesake:
"Here's to it, and to it again. If you ever get to it, do it, because you may never get to it to do it again."