May 7, 2011

Workouts: April

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with my exercising in April. I'm not usually displeased, but all things considered, I'm feeling really good about the month in retrospect.

Of 30 days, five were complete rest days (one of those was my trip to Connecticut), plus two days with just some Wii Fit. I only had one complete rest day while my mother and brother were in town, and that I am proud of. It wasn't easy!

I biked a lot more in April as compared to previous months: I logged 91.5 miles, which is more than my usual but still about 20 miles short of the Ironman triathlon distance. So close! I found that I used the elliptical less in April, choosing instead to do longer biking distances. My elliptical workouts were also less intense, which is not a bad thing - I usually burn 1000-1200 calories, but most of my April workouts were 700-800. Those were days when I kept my calorie intake to 1100-1200 - on days when I ate more, I worked out more.

For running, I logged 40.35 miles, which is, again, more than I have done in the previous months. For my 345-in-2011 goal, I am up to 136.6 miles, or 39.6% of my goal. 4.97 of those miles were the Shamrock Shuffle 8k, and my 100th mile was at some point during the race!

I made progress on my goal to get back in the pool, but not by much. I got a new bathing suit but I only swam once. My goal for May is to log at least a sprint triathlon's worth of swimming distance. I also need to get serious about my SFC goal of using the Wii Fit for 60 minutes a week - for some reason, this seemingly simple challenge is really hard to accomplish.

An awesome NSV - here are my biggest workpants from last summer (size 28 from Lane Bryant) and the size 12 Old Navy jeans I just bought:


Holy moley! Lots of visual inspiration lately to get me pumped and keep me doing awesome in May.

What about you? Are you mixing up your workouts now that the seasons are finally showing their change? What are your workout goals for May? If you're a Wii Fit Plus user, what are your favorite activities?

May 6, 2011

Roses and thorns

I stepped on the scale Tuesday morning after ten full days away, unsure of what the number would be. I knew how I felt, I knew what my workouts had been, and I knew what I had eaten. A Bright Eyes lyric ran through my mind: "Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and maybe wind up somewhere in the middle..."

212.

Maintenance. *sigh* It could have been worse, I suppose. I wrote down the number, planned my food for the day in my tracking journal, and carried on. Being able to see my numbers was oddly calming - I'll still be working on whittling down my scale dependency as one of my SFC goals, but I've learned that cold turkey just isn't the way for me to go.

It reminded me of a post I wrote at the end of last semester, where I talked about my frustration with students who e-mail you incessantly asking if they're going to get X Y or Z grade in the class. And I always give the same response: you know exactly what you're going to get in my class. The grade should not be a surprise. Think honestly about the work you've done - now tell me, what grade have you earned? You had some higher grades, some lower ... how does it balance out?

For me, some days had great workouts but too much snacking, and others had not-so-great workouts but great overall calorie intake - and it ended up with me in maintenance.

Today, for my official weigh-in, I am down to 209. I'll take it! I have eaten well this week and had some great workouts (the 5.5 mile run I blew off on Monday? Nailed it on Tuesday - 60:22, or just under 11 minutes per mile!), so I'm feeling really positive and refreshed. I came up with an idea for my onederland present to myself - nothing big or fancy, just a little something. That's my motivator for May!

Today is going to be a tough day - it's the last day of the semester. I finished correcting my students' exams and submitted their final grades yesterday, so today I am heading to the office to pack up my things. It's bittersweet - this was my first real full-time job, and it was amazing. I had great colleagues, amazing students, and an incredible teaching experience. This year completely changed my life, and while I feel mostly ready to move on from this particular university, I'm anxious/excited about not having definite plans yet for my next big step. It will all work out, I am sure ... but still, emptying my desk and taking home my binders and teaching materials will be kind of emotional.

To stay on track, I've got plenty to keep me busy. Looking for jobs, first and foremost. Also: researching and getting ready for my Whole Foods challenge. I received some preliminary information from the challenge organizers last night, and it seems really manageable. I've been doing some outside research too, mostly on vegetarian/vegan athletes (specifically runners, though not exclusively) and how to best nourish your body without animal products. I'll be sharing all this info and more next week!

What about you? What's your favorite job you've ever had? What are you looking forward to in May?

May 5, 2011

Adventurers

This past weekend, I went to visit my best friend Jill in Connecticut. We only had about a day and a half, but it was perfect - just what I needed.

The last time I saw Jill was when I was visiting home in July, and it was tough. I was in the process of hitting rock bottom, and I was so ashamed of what I had let happen to my body that I didn't want to see anyone, not even my best friends. Making matters worse, Jill is an amazing photographer who loves to document all of our adventures - and the thought of having even more photographic proof of how far I'd let myself go filled me with anxiety. For example, this picture is from an afternoon we spent with friends at a beach in my hometown:


You can feel how tense and uncomfortable I am. I never make faces like this anymore.

With all the changes in my life right now, all the stresses and anxieties, I've been missing Jill like crazy. It's tough going through hard times, but it's especially tough when you feel like you're going through them alone. I have a great group of friends in Chicago, but none quite like my friends from college. We're adventurers - people who'd rather run around and see/do things than go out to bars or clubs, folks who can't see spending money on fancy purses but can totally justify any museum/park admission and the cost of most flea market finds.

We write each other letters and e-mails quite frequently, but there's nothing like curling up on a couch or in bed with your best friend, chatting, and being close enough to hug if need be. So this weekend, we had to make up for an awful lot of lost time and get in as much as much exploring as we could given the time constraints. All in all, I'd say we had some fantastic adventures.

There was sunshine and fresh air and nature.


And, of course, tons of autoportraits to capture this clean, happy feeling.


We ate well - we went out to brunch with some folks Jill knows, which was incredibly fun. I had an egg white frittata with mushrooms and feta (which I did not finish!), hold the toast, and fresh fruit instead of fries. There was an unpictured (but amazingly delicious) salad from Stew Leonard's for dinner, and later - an Almond Joy cupcake. Because after all, it was a vacation.


Going out to eat with Jill was an entire world different from eating with my mother - Jill was supportive and not pushy. When she ordered her sandwich, she asked for a salad instead of fries, then smiled at me with this fantastic look of camaraderie and understanding. It was just what I needed.

Something we have always enjoyed doing is taking "jumping pictures" - setting a camera up somewhere to self-time and jumping in the air as the photo is snapped. We did some this past summer at the same beach day I referenced earlier, and they're so unbelievably unflattering for me. Not to mention it was exhausting - sometimes the timing is off and we need to do a few takes, and throwing my 345 pound body repeatedly in the air totally killed my legs and feet. This time, it was different.


Not only did it not hurt, but I can see how much I've changed by looking at this picture compared to old jumping pictures. My body isn't flying everywhere - and, more importantly, I'm smiling and happy.

I think one of my favorite pictures of the whole weekend, though, is this one, which wasn't intended to be a serious shot:


Our friend Curtis (the guy from the jumping picture) was going to take a shot of just the two of us jumping, and he wanted to do a test shot to see the reaction time of my camera. It's just a picture of me and my best friend, and for the first time in my life, I felt ... normal. For once, I didn't feel awkward and huge - I was so comfortable there, wearing her dress and her sweater. I have been trying to look at this picture with an outsider's eyes, to not search for the usual things I focus on, the visual hints and reminders that I am someone who used to be super obese. This looks natural, like it's been this way forever.

And to be honest, I think my view is helped by the fact that it felt that way. Emotionally, it felt like every other time I have been with my best friend - it was only my physical body that had changed. I had been worried about this, nervous that things would be so different and strange now. But there was nothing to fear. Having this one lovely constant in my world that has changed so drastically in the past nine months is just what I needed to get me through the end of April, the most stressful and challenging month of my journey so far, and to push me forth towards May.

I'm jumping in.

May 4, 2011

News

I was on Facebook the other day and noticed this post by my local Whole Foods Market:


Being both (a) in Chicago and (b) a blogger, I jumped at the chance, and I am so excited to report that I have been selected to take part in this challenge!

Essentially, I will be switching to a plant-based diet for 28 days. I am being compensated for this: in addition to a Whole Foods gift card to offset some of the expenses, this is so freakin sweetI will also be receiving tickets to a premiere of a movie about plant-based eating, a copy of a book on the subject (and one to give away on my blog!), cooking classes, and more.

In exchange, I am committing to eating this way for the full four weeks and writing a minimum of two blog posts about the challenge. Whole Foods Market will be offering Healthy Eating 3-day intensive workshops in Chicago beginning in June; they will not only give people tours of the store and samples of products, but also, the link to my blog "so that they can be inspired and gain insight on [my] personal experience." How exciting is this?!

(For ease of linking [as well as another 101-in-1001 goal crossed off!], I have converted to self-hosting my blog - http://www.asmallloss.com - anyone still using the Blogspot link should be redirected to the new site, but be sure to update your Google Reader if you still want updates!)

I'm really looking forward to this - besides working on two of my 101-in-1001 goals (#10 [going vegetarian for four non-consecutive weeks] and #11 [going vegan for one week]), I'm excited about trying something a little different with my eating - hopefully mixing it up will give me the push I was hoping for with going scale-free.

I'm also thrilled about expanding my recipe horizons - I'll be sharing my regular recipe updates on Sundays, but I will also be writing challenge-specific updates on Tuesdays (since the challenge will start next Tuesday, May 10) with the label "WFM" for easy access.

I have a lot of research to do. Right now, most of my protein comes from chicken/fish and the occasional post-run protein bar - though I love tofu and often use it in my bucket salads. But Lady cannot live on salad alone! Worth noting, the 10k race I am training for will fall within the 28 days of the challenge - so I need to make sure I am fully nourishing my body pre-, during, and post-race, even without meat.

It isn't impossible, it's just not what I am used to. And I'm up for the challenge!

What about you? Are you now or have you ever been vegetarian/vegan? What are your go-to resources for meat-free recipes? What are some things you are interested in reading/learning about with regards to a plant-based diet?

May 3, 2011

Ten days

Yesterday was my 10th day of not weighing myself; this morning, I will be stepping on the scale. Committing to time away was a good idea, and for some folks it might work, but personally, I feel like this is the best decision for me right now.

Giving up the scale cold turkey has been a real challenge. The first few days, I didn't notice or care - it was a liberating feeling to wake up and not immediately step on. Around day 5 or so,topsmead it started to hit me that for the first time since August, I didn't know what I weighed, and there was a bit of panic: if a tree falls in the woods but no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound? - if I eat right and exercise but don't check in with the scale, do the numbers still drop?

I did fine most days, but a lot of times I found myself bargaining and making excuses. It's okay to go over a little on calories, it'll all sort itself out by Day 30. It's okay to work out a little less, I'll have heavier workout days before the end. That might work for some people, but I could see myself slipping back into old habits if I wasn't careful. And especially in the past few days, I haven't been careful. I'm stressed out, and while going to Connecticut without seeing my family was incredible, it was very brief. I ate well in Connecticut (Jill is amazingly supportive and we had an incredible time), but upon returning, I got overwhelmed with anxiety - I skipped my long run, ate way too much, and took a nap. It was a hectic weekend, I probably would have napped anyway - but choosing to eat and then sleep over go to the gym really bothers me, especially because it was completely rationalized in my head.

I feel very out-of-control in many areas of my life right now, specifically with work and personal relationships. I know myself and my tendency to relieve stresses and soothe my frustrations with binge eating - changes make me panic, and I think that trying to work through the changes of this month by changing up my daily routine just isn't going to work. I related a lot to this post by Lyn - she talked about recent stresses and falling off-plan, and something she said really stuck out to me:
"I have been eating a LOT. Not as much as I used to before losing weight. But it is heading that direction. And yes it made me feel sick, and no I did not enjoy much of it. I was sort of going through the motions of eating all this stuff but not really liking it and hating that I was doing it. I have always said it was a form of self abuse and I think that's true ... I lost 100 pounds and my life is not magically a superlife. Oh, yes, it is far far better in a lot of ways, but some basic stuff that was wrong before and had nothing to do with weight is still sitting there needing to be dealt with. It is very uncomfortable having to deal with that stuff so instead I have been hyperfocused on food."
(Emphasis mine - it's an idea I really need to consider and keep in mind.) She also talks about new body issues post-weight loss, things we never really had issues with before but now feel self-conscious about. Another issue of mine lately is self-consciousness and anxiety stemming from my loose skin, which will get a post all it's own very soon.

With very limited exceptions, I write a blog post every single day. This is not for anyone but myself - because I need to keep writing and working through my issues. It keeps me accountable. I honestly believe that if I blogged less often, I'd make the same exceptions as when I tried to not weigh myself. I need to be checking in to keep myself motivated, to keep the momentum going. I have come to realize that my daily weigh-ins are kind of the same thing - for now, I need them to keep myself accountable and focused.

I'm a little nervous about the number I'm going to see, because I honestly don't know what it is. Since I've started, I've reported losses every week - no gains, no maintains. Whatever the number is, though, it will NOT make or break my day. It will NOT validate the last nine months, nor will render them a complete failure. It's a number. One way to measure progress. I'll see it, I'll write it down, and I'll carry on. Most important to me right now is regaining a feeling of control and stability - refocusing on my goals, recapturing my momentum, and reminding myself of ways to deal with my stresses that don't involve food.

May 2, 2011

SFC: Week Five

My positive picture for the week:

biffs
My best friend and me! Together at long last! And in the sun at one of our favorite parks! It's been so cold and dreary in Chicago still, so this was absolutely perfect.

What have you done this past week to help you achieve your goals?
(2) I have not weighed myself in 10 days. I will be weighing myself tomorrow, however, and there will be a related post in the morning.
(3) I biked 22.5 miles, for a challenge total of 84 miles (38.2% of goal).
(4) I have my Wii remotes, but I did not Wii at all this week. Oops.
(5) Goal completed, and then some! My original goal was to complete 3 of my 101-in-1001 goals, and I finished two more this week (#48 and #70). That makes me feel better about not doing any Wii time.

What did you do this past week to make you feel good about yourself?
I wore my best friend's clothes. This is her dress and her little sweater (I brought my usual jeans and a t-shirt, and she told me absolutely no way I was wearing them, we had to take tons of cute pictures so I had to show off my cute new bod).

such hotness
The last time I saw her, I was wearing 4X tops from Target plus size section - now I can borrow her dresses from their juniors aisle. Being able to share clothes with anyone is a huge NSV - but with my best friend, finally? I felt so lovely.

It's May! What were your victories in April? Challenges?
To be honest, April was my toughest month so far. I know looking back it might not be so bad (there were a lot of good things, goals met, etc.), but freshly coming off it, I feel very defeated. I am down, but not out - but still, it's been a tough couple of weeks.

Do you have any plans for the challenge in May?
Coming back to life.

What is your favourite type of ethnic cuisine?
Italian is pretty good, it's what I grew up eating. Since moving to Chicago, I've been eating more diversely since there are a lot of ethnic neighborhoods. I like Mexican food (one of the downsides to living in Pilsen is the delicious smell of tacos on every street corner) and Indian food (the Devon Ave - Little India area is so colorful and full of wonderful spicy smells).