Sunday, January 31, 2010

Greenlake, You Are Finally My B*tch!

Today I did something I haven't been able to do in well over a year and a half. I ran around Greenlake (3 miles) without stopping. I was in the zone. My breathing was controlled, my legs strong, and my body lighter. I remembered today why I like running.

My morning workouts have been paying off. I may not be able to walk tomorrow, but I sure feel great now!

Things I Love

I'm sort of adopting this idea from Tracy (buckthirteen blog), she occasionally does these "unqualified product reviews" in her blog. The unqualified part cracks me up, because I, (just like she does I'm sure) feel that I am way more qualified to review products that are supposed to be healthy/helpful etc. then the people that currently write the reviews. Over the past 5 weeks, I have had some success, but I can't take credit for it all myself. The following is a list of things I love, or have recently discovered and come to love, as essential items in my success.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred- I bought this video about a year ago. It was supposed to be the thing that finally made me get back in shape. I did the video every day for a week, then maybe 3 times the second week, and then very sporadically. However, I have recently re-discovered this video, and WOW. The workouts are amazing. In 20 minutes, I'm sweating more than in my 45 minute cardio sessions at the gym. If you are looking for a rainy day activity or perhaps your gym is closed due to a recent fire, this video will do the trick.

Morning Star Farms Vegetarian Sausage Patties- I know, any fatty that reads the word "vegetarian" stops reading and immediately refuses to believe 'that hippie crap' could taste good. Well, its that thinking that got us here today. The stubbornness, the attitude of not trying anything new...Let me tell you, these things are magic. I use them in my Saturday Morning Breakfast Burritos, homemade Mcmuffins, with pancakes and syrup, and one time, a few months ago, some friends were staying over and went out and got McDonalds in the morning. I took the sausage out of the McMuffin, and replaced it with one of these patties...coulda fooled anyone. At 80 calories a piece, they are well worth the chance someone might look into my shopping cart and think I'm one of those liberal hippie abortion having tree hugging Seattleites.

Safeway 'Eating Right' Multi-Grain Pasta- The hardest thing for my Italian DNA to get over was giving up white pasta. I had to. Something about pasta makes me want to eat and eat and eat. Why set myself up for failure? I vowed to try and give up pasta, but knowing myself, there would be times when I just had to have some noodles covered in red sauce, topped with parmigiana and pepper. I went to the store and bought 1 box of each type of whole wheat or multi-grain pasta. The Safeway Eating Right brand was hands down the best. It had a sort of sweet, nutty flavor, and even fooled my boyfriend! Not to mention I filled up fast and didn't have the need to keep going back for more.

Grapefruit- See my post dedicated entirely to grapefruit...

'Lose-It' Application for the iPhone- This free app lets you set a goal for yourself, calculates how many calories a day you need to meet that goal, and track all your meals and exercise for the day. Every single person/program recently dedicated to weight loss stresses the benefits of writing down everything you eat. This is hard to get into the habit of, but hey, so is exercising and eating right! Might as well do them all at once. I always have my phone with me, so I always have my food diary with me. Oh, and the there is a very satisfying graph that shows weekly progress.

Quaker 'Lower Sugar' Instant Oatmeal- I take one of these packets to work in the morning, use the water cooler/heater to make it, and ta-da! Breakfast is served. I like the Apples and Cinnamon flavor.

Propel- A few years ago Gatorade came out with this genius water product. Fake sweetened, fake flavored water with vitamins. I loved it from day one, although in its pure form, it is too sweet/heavy for me, so I cut it 1/2 and 1/2 with water. Now they have those little packets that all powdered drinks come in now, and you can control how much flavor goes into your water. I get so sick of just plain water, so I add some flavor and vitamins. I know this isn't ideal, but it gets me to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day, and that is proven to help do a body good.

Nalgene Bottle- I'm old skool, I just can't get into those metal Sigg bottles. I hate the way the top squeaks when you unscrew it. I hate that a water bottle has become a fashion/status symbol. I just made sure to update my old Nalgene bottle with one that is BPA free. I take it everywhere. It is indestructible. It lets me know how much water I've ingested everyday. My Nalgene is absolutely essential to my health.

Those are the top items today that I am in love with and could not be doing this without. I'm sure as I move forward, I will experience evolutions, and have new things to love. I will keep you updated on any ground breaking discoveries I make.

Friday, January 29, 2010

When I Look Down, I See......Boobs!!

Jeans are fitting better...I noticed today when I look down, I see my boobs, not my stomach. My stomach is still there, heh, don't get me wrong, but now its not sticking out farther then my boobs (when I sit down). If you've seen my boobs, you know that NOTHING should stick out farther then those things. Anyway...I have been wanting to share the story of my first 1/2 marathon. It was without a doubt, one of the most mentally challenging things I've done since graduating college.

Even in my times of denial about the health of my body I had good intentions. I was frequently signing myself up for 5K runs and events that would hopefully be incentive enough for me to get my shit together. After signing up for and running (sort of) a few 5K's, I realized I wasn't getting the results I was hoping for, and overweight as I was, I could still run 3.1 miles. Not fast, but I could do it. Perhaps I needed more of a being on a team for the Hood to Coast (HTC) race. Thank god our application did not get chosen.

Perhaps I was weak from being depressed about our team not getting chosen for the HTC race, or maybe I honestly thought that signing up for a 1/2 marathon would be different then signing up for a 5K? Either way, the next thing I knew, I had agreed to run a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) with my friend C-hella. It was November. The 1/2 marathon was in June. I had plenty of time.

March came around faster then ever, and it was time to actually register for the Seattle Rock n' Roll Half Marathon. I became a fan of them on Facebook. I bought some running magazines that featured plans for 1/2 marathon training. Seemed easy enough. I had 15 weeks...Meanwhile C-hella was unstoppable. She was adding about a mile a week to her runs (which is perfect) and would even have time to taper before the race. Me? I was just hoping to get up to running 10 miles before the race. I was currently

I wanted to run in the race. I wanted it to be nice and enjoyable for me. I could picture myself gliding with ease with all the other runners. I just couldn't get myself out the door everyday for training. Stubborn, lazy, call it what you will. The 15 weeks flew by (of course) and I think the longest run I had managed was 5 miles. Nothing to sneeze at, but I was facing 13.1 miles in a week. I began to panic. I tried to get out of running in the race by sending a e-mail to C-hella explaining my circumstances. She would not hear any of it. She was flying all the way up to Seattle from San Francisco, and I was running with her. At least, I was meeting her at the starting line and starting the race with her. Fuck.

Race day. I have participated in enough competitive events in my life to not get nervous for events like this. I just needed a plan. My boyfriend was driving me to the start line, where I would meet C. I would be running with my cell phone in case of emergency, and to locate everyone after the race. As we drove south on I-5, I looked at my boyfriend and said "this is the dumbest thing I've ever done." He looked back and said "yup." So we came up with a plan. I said to him, I'll make it to the half-way point at Seward Park. You come pick me up there, and then we'll drive to the finish line to meet C. He said "don't worry about making it to a certain point, you just call me when you've had enough, and I'll come get you." I felt much better. I would not inform C of my plan.

The start line was madness like I never could have imagined! There were SO many people (19,000) to be exact, this race set a record for participation in Washington State. C and I found a friend of ours Ryan, at the medical tent, where I obtained the sunscreen I forgot to apply in the morning. It was a rare sunny day. Ryan, being a doctor and all, I decided I should maybe get some last minute tips from him. All he said was "you'll finish." For some reason, even though I didn't believe it myself, I believed him.

The race queue's had begun to form. C and I were packed in like sardines. Lines for the 1,000 porta-potties were still 10 minutes long. It was like burning man, except everyone was in spandex. Slowly moving forward...start line was visible now...and we were off! The coolest thing about this particular marathon is that there are bands every mile (hence Rock n' Roll). The route was also guaranteed to be scenic, as it wound through some of Seattle's nicest areas. Finish line was in downtown Seattle. Seward Park, my bail out point was 6 miles away. Six miles was sounding so much better then 13.1.

C and I ran about the 1st mile together. We were keeping pace with the 12 minute mile group, and she really wanted to stick with them. I fell behind, but continued to run till I reached the first 5K (3.1 miles). I walked for a mile. I ran the next two miles, most of which were downhill. I came up on Seward Park at mile 6, immediately saw my boyfriend and dog in the crowd and jogged over to the side. I felt great! "I'm going-I'm going all the way!" I managed to breathe out as my boyfriend snapped some photos. He smiled and said "ok, call me."

Miles 7-9 were run/walk but generally went by pretty quick. I could feel a huge blister forming on my heel, but couldn't focus on it. My calves began occasionally cramping. As I approached the I-90 tunnel and was looking for mile 10, I was strictly walking. Every time I felt I could run, I would begin, only to get the twinges of charlie horses. I began to frequently stop and stretch. It was awesome, just about every time I would stop and stretch, someone would cheer me on, or offer so sort of words of support for me. I wanted to bail out, but since I was on a closed road, there was no way my boyfriend could get to me. I had no choice but to keep going till I got downtown. When I reached downtown, I saw the mile 12 sign. One more mile? I could do that. I was in excruciating pain. I was stopping quite frequently to stretch. I just pressed on.

I somehow made it to the finish line. All I could think about was eating a banana and stopping. I got my medal, got my photo taken, and found the nearest curb. I couldn't even think of trying to find C or my boyfriend just yet. I needed to rest. I ate 2 bananas to hopefully stop myself from cramping up. I was in complete disbelief that I finished, but SO happy I did. My time? 3h 26m 19s. C finished at like 2h 21m or something like that.

Being able to finish was 100% mental. I honestly believe if you are stubborn and just put your mind to something, you can do it. I didn't let myself out of it. I didn't let myself give up. Now, as I go through this process of trying to get myself healthier, one of the long term (6 months or so) goals I have is to compete in another 1/2 marathon, and shed at least 30 minutes off my previous time. After all, if I was able to finish a half-marathon at my heaviest weight, it can only get better for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pet Pee[ves]

The first diet I remember going on was in 5th grade. My parents had done Weight Watchers on and off, and had all the materials and "knowledge." My dad and I decided to do the Weight Watchers plan together, but at home, and not go to any meetings (aka: free). I remember my first week on the plan, I kept having to wake up in the middle of the night an pee. It was obnoxious, annoying, and clearly traumatic enough I still remember it today. My mom told me that is a sure-tell sign of losing weight.

I think I lost about 10 pounds in the 6 or 8 weeks we stuck with that plan. 10 pounds is a lot for a 10 year old. I also distinctly remember getting to a point where I wanted an apple more then a candy bar. How could I learn so much about my body at the age of 10, and 20 years later have to re-discover the same things? Maddening, but I digress...

Being woken up in the middle of the night to pee has always been my indicator that I'm on the right track and losing weight. I love sleeping. I hate being woken up. Often, I'll just lay in bed telling myself it can wait till morning, but eventually I realize I will be more comfortable if I just go. Covers off...cold air...push dog aside...stumble through the dark...find toilet...ahhh. Getting back into bed never felt so good. I am curious though, has anyone else noticed this phenomenon about their body, or is it just my DNA?

So, speaking of pee, I discovered that I have many pet peeves when it comes to gym etiquette. Today, I was happily climbing mountains on the eliptical machine, and a man two machines down from me starts making primal, cat-in-heat, heart attack sounds. I seriously had to keep looking over for fear of him keeling over at any moment. Just when I couldn't take it any more and thought he was dying, he would shout "yes!" It was nice to know that this man was simply giving it his all, however; I just find it strange that the majority of gym users are capable of giving it their all's without the soundtrack.

Next, I move on to the treadmill for my 15 minutes of run training. The only treadmill that was free was in between a sprinter and a woman talking on her cell phone. Argh. I hop on, thinking maybe if I start running hard enough, I can make crazy noises like that other guy, and the chick will show some courtesy and get off the phone. Four minutes down...trying to keep pace with the sprinter...breathing obnoxiously cell phone girl occasional dirty looks...she's still talking. Finally, she hangs up. Now she is texting. I kid you not. I don't know about anyone else, but there is no way in hell I could get a decent workout in if I was talking on the phone and texting. Seriously, leave your phone in your car for 30 minutes. NO ONE will miss you. So I'm done with my run, and walking it out. I look over, and cell phone addict is UPDATING HER FACEBOOK PAGE! I give up. I wish I had super-vision so I could see what her status was...probably "OMG, getting my workout in today, and some annoying girl on the treadmill next to me keeps giving me dirty looks!"

Perhaps my annoyance with having to wake up in the middle of the night is making me more easily disturbed at the gym. I need to remember that waking up to pee = losing weight (for me). As long as I am focused on myself, no one can annoy me, and no one is doing anything wrong. If someone wants to throw their workout away because they can't let go of their cell phone, that is their problem. I'll just be over here, on the next treadmill, losing weight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Resolutionists Be Gone!

Well, it's official. The New Year's Resolutionists have dropped off. The "Y" was empty today. I had my pick of parking, my pick of machine, and didn't have to worry about being on my machine for longer then 30 minutes. It feels good knowing that I have outlasted a group of people that made a resolution to themselves to workout more, or whatever it was that was getting them to the gym. Perhaps for me, this time, I'm in it for the long run.

Last week was an experiment for me. I guess you could say I was testing the limits. What I discovered was at this point in my journey, what goes into my mouth matters more then anything. I exercised 6 out of 7 days last week, like I have been. Monday through Thursday, my meals were about the same as previous successful weeks. Friday and Sunday were splurge days for me, in which I ate foods that I know are "triggers" for me (crackers, chinese food, sugary carbs).

Currently my body is out of balance. I do not have the amount of muscle I normally have. It is a slippery slope, much like when you have very little money in your bank account, and you overdraft, and then you get charged for the overdraft, etc., etc. However, when you have money in the bank, your money keeps growing because of interest. There is a very fine line between constantly getting charged for things and paying, versus keeping money in the bank and earning more.

I need to build up my muscle mass so I can keep money in my "bank account." The last time I was in really good shape, I ate whatever I wanted. I controlled my weight by exercise. I am clearly not able to do this yet, as I learned by last week.

In fact, I'm pretty sure this realization could have helped me years ago, as I continued to exercise, but not eat less. I was living pay check to pay check so to speak. Now, its time to start saving up.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reality Check

I got cocky. I fooled myself into thinking that I was on top of things since I had lost 9 pounds over the past 3 weeks, and let my guard down. I gained one pound today at my normal Monday weigh-in. I'm not going to sugar-coat things or go into denial about how I could be obtaining more muscle mass, or how hormones might be a factor this week.

The simple truth is I ate more calories last week then I burned. I can think of every single calorie I ate last week that was a step backwards for me, and consciously made the decision to eat it. Why? Cause I was unstoppable! I had lost 9 pounds, and therefore figured everything out! Never mind I had spent the last 3 years making poor decisions and fooling myself, I completely erased those behaviors in 3 weeks!

In comes the REALITY CHECK. The scale does not like cocky. The scale likes hard work. I am not invincible to weight gain after 3 weeks of eating healthy. Instead of getting upset and using this as an excuse to continue to make bad decisions, I'm going to use it as fuel to get back on track.

I upped my morning workout by 5 minutes this morning to 45 minutes. I am eating my 1/2 grapefruit right now. I will be having salad for dinner. I have 3 weeks of data showing me what works, and 988 weeks of data on what doesn't work. I was really hoping to get a loss of 10 pounds under my belt, but that will have to wait. Eight pounds in 4 weeks is fantastic, but I know I can do better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Grapefruit, Miraclefruit

For awhile, I used to keep a running list in my head of things that I thought I hated, but upon trying FOR THE FIRST TIME, realized they weren't so bad, and in all cases, proceeded to become obsessed with the item. The fact that there were so many items that I decided I didn't like without even trying them was childish. I'm not sure when or how I decided to grow up, but it seems the largest gains in acceptable foods came between 19 and 23. Water, red peppers, asparagus, artichokes, cous-cous, curry, brown rice, and grapefruit all became part of my repertoire.

The timing of my grapefruit obsession coincided with my discovery of water (stopped drinking soda and fruit juice which were the ONLY things I drank), and a pretty large boost in my activity level. Nine months later I was at my healthiest weight since being 5 years old. A good friend of mine who hadn't seen me in a year could not believe my transition. She informed me about 37 times how great I looked, then asked me what I had been doing differently. With my Nalgene bottle in hand, I said "I started drinking water, almost exclusively, I drink coffee and beer as well. I discovered running. Oh, and I've been eating 1/2 a grapefruit every morning." She replied: "grapefruit are supposed to contain enzymes that aid in weight loss."

I had heard vague rumblings about the benefits of grapefruit in the past, of course the grapefruit diet, etc., but for some reason her words really stuck with me. My grapefruit obsession continued for at least another year, and I was maintaining my fitness and my healthy weight. The end of my grapefruit obsession coincided with me graduating college, moving to a new city, and becoming slightly less active.

Now if this were a scientific experiment, it would be bunk. There are so many variables, grapefruit alone can not be isolated and therefore a determination made on its effects. However, I do know this much, the time in my life I was eating the most grapefruit was also the time in my life I was at the healthiest weight. Just as there are many factors that got me to be where I am today, there are many factors that got me to where I was then. I have nothing to lose (except weight, hopefully) by adding grapefruit to my diet, along with my increased exercise routine, drinking water, and eating less.

I have been eating 2 grapefruits a week for the past 3 weeks now. For the first time in three years I have been losing weight. I decided to do some internet research on grapefruit to see if maybe it was just a placebo effect. I was immediately directed to flashy sites wanting to sell me their grapefruit diet plans, but one site actually had a link to a real medical study on the effects of grapefruit.

The study consisted of 100 men and women who over a 12 week period made no dietary changes except adding 1/2 a grapefruit to every meal, and slightly increasing exercise. On average, participants lost 3.5 pounds, with many losing as much as 10 pounds. Additionally, the research indicates that there is a connection between grapefruit and insulin, as it relates to weight management. It is thought that the chemical properties of grapefruit reduce insulin levels and encourage weight loss! If you are still skeptical, and want to look at the data to back up these claims for yourself, here is the link to the article.

I am a firm believer in the positive effects of grapefruit, and recognize now that they must be a part of my life forever.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Catering [dinner] to a Man

A good friend of mine, C-hella (I'm using her rapper name for anonymity) asked me to dedicate a post to the nutritional sacrifices women make when being in a relationship with a man. I wanted to go into a little more depth and discuss the general nature of women who tend to defer to the man's lifestyle.

Over the past few years, as I transitioned from a fresh-out-of-college single into being in a long-term relationship, I made some observations about myself and my family. For various reasons, it has become apparent to me that the females in my family have issues when it comes to relationships with men. I am no psychiatrist, so I have no idea if these behaviors stem from emotional problems, or if they were learned, or if they are just simply a part of the X chromosome.

My parents divorced when I was 12. It was an amicable split, and they still remain cordial to this day. It was when my mom began seeing her now long-term boyfriend of 17 years that I first noticed how the women in my family treat their men. As my other 3 aunts divorced/became separated from their husbands, I saw a pattern. The women in my family drop everything they are doing and focus on whatever the man needs. Especially when it comes to food and making dinner for them. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that in my family, food = love? Well, yeah, initially that's how the women in my family express their feelings for a new man. However, as I got older and wiser, I noticed that its not just what is for dinner that gets geared for the man, but work schedules, music choices, and activities. At least, it is this way in the beginning. After 17 years my mom is over that phase, but I still see an occasional cave-in on her part.

I know the ladies in my family are on the extreme side of taking care of their men, but I do not think they are entirely alone in what they do. In fact, most of the women I've observed either as friends, family, or acquaintances give up a little of themselves in hopes of getting or keeping the approval of their man (at least in the beginning). I recognized almost immediately that I was suffering from this same fate in the first year of dating my boyfriend, as my regular workout routine became sporadic, we ate out at restaurants a lot, and my overall activity level dropped, as my boyfriend prefers lounging to activities.

I am in no way pinning my current situation on my boyfriend, but rather counting it as one of many little things that add up over time. I am on a journey of health, and becoming conscious of all the little factors that could be contributing to my bad habits is paramount. I would say that in general, it is a bad habit to give up things that are necessary for my well being just because I don't want to be difficult or upset my boyfriend. I know that I need a solid exercise routine. I know that I need to eat less, which really includes eating out less. I know that I prefer to be active and do things rather then sit at home and watch movies.

Over the past 3.5 weeks, I have been doing the things I need to do for me. There has been no change in my relationship. My boyfriend did not run for the door when I told him I was having salad for dinner and he was on his own. I no longer follow him into the kitchen for second helpings. We are still together despite the fact we haven't eaten out at a restaurant in 3 weeks. I decline when he asks if I want something sweet from the store. On Saturday mornings he wakes up early with me and we take our dog to the dog park. I am understanding now that I do not have to do everything he does. I can not, for the sake of my health do everything he does!

I'm sure all the healthy women out there figured this out a LONG time ago! In trying not to be difficult, more then just exercise routines and eating habits suffer. Not being true to yourself allows resentment and anger to build up, and that is not healthy.

The Skinny on Fat People

I was at a bar one night with a girlfriend of mine and her boyfriend. I'm not sure how the conversation came up, but I distinctly remember her boyfriend saying "I want to get really fat, and then return to my size now, just so I can show all the fat people how easy it is." At the time, I didn't think too much of the statement since I was in one of my "lower weight/in shape" phases. I think back now only because I wonder is this what all thin people are thinking? That weight loss is easy and fat people are just lazy/stubborn/lacking self-control?

In my very small slice of this world, the answer is ABSOLUTELY. For the sake of argument, lets put people into two groups based on their bodies; healthy weight and unhealthy weight. There is a great deal of misunderstandings and stereotyping that goes with each group. Much like the Israeli's and the Palestinians, the black and the white, the Chinese and the Japanese, each group holds some prejudices towards the other.

The way I have always tried to overcome my prejudices has been to put myself in the other person's shoes. It is too easy to play the victim, and focus on the bad stereotypes that plague the current group I happen to identify with. Finding myself in the unhealthy weight group as of now, do I get offended when I think that a healthy weight person views me as lazy, stubborn, and lacking self-control? Yes, of course I do. But focusing on my offense is not going to change anything.

Now for the hard part: putting myself into a healthy weight persons' shoes. What would cause a healthy weight person to think and believe that unhealthy weight people are lazy, stubborn, and lacking self-control? Why? Because a healthy weight person is always in motion, making workouts a priority, walking everywhere instead of driving, perhaps they don't have a desk job, and they make sure to balance their food intake with their activity level. Why? Because a healthy weight person doesn't make excuses for anything, doesn't refuse to do anything that is bettering their health, and holds themselves entirely responsible for their actions. Why? Because a healthy weight person makes conscious decisions about what to put in their mouth, and if a healthy weight person feels the balance shifting, they simply eat less.

Realizing that healthy weight people have to really work to be where they are was beyond educational for me. Of course I'm going to think someone is lazy if I'm working my ass off all the time. Of course I'm going to think someone has no self-control if they are telling me they don't want to be fat while eating McDonalds. Or course I'm going to think someone is stubborn if they refuse to do the things they need to do to be where they claim they want to be! Hmmm. So that's where those stereotypes come from.

I know this post is filled with broad generalizations that don't apply to every person. Isn't that the whole problem with stereotypes? But this is about my experiences with the people I have been exposed to throughout my life, my journey, and what works for me. By identifying where the stereotypes come from, my eyes opened to a lot of tough realities. I am guilty of not moving enough. I am guilty of being stubborn about what I need to do. I am guilty of not controlling my actions.

I feel so much better knowing that people of healthy weight (that I have come to know) really work hard to be where they are at. They do not take it for granted, and most of all, I have found these people to be the MOST supportive of me as soon as I begin to take the necessary steps (eating right, exercising). The steps they take everyday.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week Three Challenges

Yesterday's observance of Martin Luther King Jr's birthday marked the end of week three for me. Yay! Due to the holiday, the gym was closed and I could not weigh in yesterday like normal. Even though my boss doesn't recognize any days as holidays except for July 4, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day, I took the day off.

Week three was filled with super-low low's, and extra high high's. I prefer my life to be a little more steady (medium low's, medium high's etc.), but a lot of things are out of my control. Despite the crazy week, I think I did a pretty good job of sticking to my goals. I can certainly control what goes into my mouth, and how much exercise I get.

Ever since last week's weigh in, (week 2 curse, lol) I had a number in my head that I wanted to reach this week. It was going to be a stretch, for sure, but I wanted it. I was challenged on many fronts...rough days at work, dinner party, eating out at a restaurant, car getting broken into and stereo stolen, my boyfriends company party, and a bad hangover.

I had to employ expert tools to get me through each of these challenges, and although I may not have performed perfectly at each test, I did the very best I could. I'm going to list my challenges, and the solution I chose so I can come back over time and look to see what has worked, and maybe what I can improve on.

Week 3 challenges and solutions:

1. Rough day at work: Let it go. Embrace my time after work to live my real life, the life I work to support. Work is not my life.
2. Dinner party: Make the best decisions possible. If dinner is more rich than I am used to, take a small serving. Have a lot of vegetables. Share dessert.
3. Eating out at a restaurant: Look up the menu ahead of time if possible and make my selection. Do not falter from the selection once at restaurant.
4. Devastating event (like my car getting broken into): Keep the event in perspective. I'm fine, everyone is fine. Keep to my routine as much as possible.
5. Company party: Eat at home. Keep some extra calories reserved for wine. If there is something irresistible, have a bite from boyfriends plate.
6. Hangover: Tally up the calories from just the amount of alcohol consumed the night before. Know I can not afford to make poor decisions just because I don't feel good. Avoid drinking so much next time.

Going over these events in my head this morning on the way to the gym suddenly made me really nervous for my weigh in. Then I realized I was being unfair to myself. Week three is probably the most representative week I've had so far of how life goes. I need to be proud of my little successes, like being hungover and staring at the box of macaroni and cheese in the cupboard for a good 5 minutes, and then deciding to make pita bread pizzas.

Oh, and I made my goal! I lost 3 pounds this week, (9 total if you have been following) for a three week total percentage weight loss of: 3.9%.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Treadmill Epiphany

A long time ago (4 years ago...feels like a lifetime), I had a job I hated. The fancy grocery store where I worked was in serious turmoil. It was obvious to all the bitter employees that had worked there upwards of 10 years that the store was slowly going under. They were always talking about the good old days, and would freak out at any change or any rumor of change. As a young person knowing this job was not my future, and never knowing the store in its 'glory days,' I was irritated by the awful attitudes of my co-workers. It was so physically and emotionally draining trying to always make the best of my situation.

After having been there for about 2 years, a manager position opened up, and I jumped on the chance. At this point, things were very crazy at the store...every employee knew of the marital affair our CEO had, bankrupcy was looming around the corner, and every week a old timer employee gave their notice. The store was filled with nothing but newer employees, and those old employees that were too fearful to do anything but spread every rumor that they heard. I'm sure it was because the store was so weak I was even considered for this position. I was basically a frat guy taking advantage of a drunk girl. I interviewed, and as far as I know, I got the job.

As I was in limbo between being a common deli worker and a middle manager of the deli workers, my boss took me aside and told me this: "I'm about to tell you something that was told to me long ago. Before you are manager, you must act like a manager. You must do all the things a manager does, without the pay and without the title. This way, you are the obvious choice for any manager position that opens up, since everyone already sees you that way, and you have already been doing the work."

In my young, bull-headed, arrogant youth, I thought this was crap. I understood exactly what he meant as far as my situation at that time. I was going to be doing the work without the pay and without the title no matter what. I blamed this on the uncertain future of the store, and my boss' knowledge that I would do whatever he told me to do. So I did the manager duties for 3 months unpaid until I had enough. I told my boss I needed a raise, or I would stop doing the job. I was given a raise the following paycheck, and 3 months of retro pay.

It dawned on me today while on the treadmill that I learned NOTHING from that experience. My boss 4 years ago had quite possibly given me the best advice for my get healthy journey today. I will not get the title or the pay of being healthy until I have been already been doing the job for some time. I almost shouted "AH-HAH" out loud. Of course!

How could I be so blind to this simple reality? How could I think that working out 30 minutes a day was enough for me to reach my weight loss and running goals? IDIOT! If I want to be say...135 pounds, I need to eat and exercise like a 135 pound person. Every in-shape person I know is very active. Every in-shape person I know eats very little (relative to what I was used to eating). Huh. This is no coincidence, no fast-metabolism-good-DNA conspiracy. It's just that each and every one of them practices what someone told me 4 years ago.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Saturday Morning Breakfast Burritos

By substituting a few of the "empty calorie" items in traditional breakfast burritos with healthier items, these burritos taste incredible. As long as you keep your portions in check (huge problem for me), they are pretty good for you. I make these burritos for breakfast nearly every weekend, and my boyfriend can't seem to get enough of them! Who needs McDonalds processed crap when with a little love, you can have these?

This recipe yields A LOT of filling. Enough for about 8 small burritos using 8" tortillas. Like I said, my boyfriend eats a lot (he's 7 feet tall, so he can afford to). But the filling can be refrigerated and eaten for breakfast over the next few days if you don't have a 7-foot garbage disposal living with you. Or you can always use less onion, less eggs, etc.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
1/2 to 1 Yellow onion (I love onions, so I use 1)
1 medium Sweet potato (the yellow ones, yams are orange)
1 tsp. Olive oil
4 Vegetarian breakfast sausage patties (I use Morningstar Farms)
6 Eggs
2 Tbsps. Milk (whatever you keep on hand, anything from N.F. to 1/2 and 1/2 works)
1/4 c. Green onion
2 handfulls fresh Spinach leaves
1/2 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper
Salsa/hot sauce/lime/avocado/cilantro/cheese-whatever toppings you like

*Side Note* I guess I should have mentioned this before, but when I use salt in a recipe, I use Kosher Salt exclusively. If you don't use Kosher Salt, I suggest going out and getting a box. Iodized is horrible, and is WAY more salty then Kosher.

Chop onion and sweet potato into small cubes. Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat, and add onions when the oil is hot. I like to let my onions get some carmelization on them, so I keep the heat pretty high, but stir them before they start to burn. Once the onions are soft and brownish, add the sweet potato cubes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes on medium high. If they start sticking to the pan, no worries. Turn heat down to medium, cover skillet and cook until potatoes are tender (5 min?) They should cook pretty quick since they are small in size. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, microwave the 4 sausage patties until hot and heated all the way through. Chop sausage patties into small pieces. When the sweet potatoes are done, remove from heat and add chopped sausage patties (keep covered).

In a medium sized bowl, break the eggs, add two tbsps. milk, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Using a whisk, stir the eggs and milk until smooth and combined.

Chop green onions (both green and white parts). In a separate large skillet, melt 1/2 tbsp. butter on medium heat. Add green onions after the butter has melted and started to bubble. Stir green onions and add eggs to pan once green onions become fragrant. After a minute or so, scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any cooked egg. Repeat this process until the eggs are almost cooked (some little liquid egg remains) add 2 handfulls of spinach and continue cooking until spinach wilts and eggs cook a little more. Add the onion/sweet potato/sausage mixture to your eggs and stir well. You should have a colorful sloppy mess of eggs, onions, sausage, potatoes and spinach.

Warm as many tortillas as you need (start with 2 per person) in the microwave. Add a heaping 1/3 c. (maybe more like 1/2 c.) of filling to the center of the tortilla. Top with your favorite ingredients- lately we have been on an La Victoria green salsa kick...OMG, so good! But hot sauce, shredded cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro, etc. work great too. After your filling and toppings are in place, wrap up by folding 2 ends of the tortilla inward and holding in place as you roll the remaining tortilla around the filling. This takes some practice. I did some quick internet sleuthing and found a how-to video, skip to 1:06 for the lesson in rolling.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Habits Die!

Yesterday I had an awful day at work. No, scratch that, just the last 3 hours of the day were awful, but it's always the ending of something that determines the mood for a whole event. I had been on edge this whole week as I try and round up solid references for my potential new job. My ace-in-the-hole reference hadn't gotten back to me, and I was really starting to panic. Couple that with my boss deciding to argue with me for 3 hours about a topic he knows NOTHING about, and you get angry Violet.

Luckily, I had plans to attend a dinner party after work yesterday, so I had an excuse to end my boss' barrage of bullshit and leave before putting in another 9 hour day this week. When I got into my car to drive home, I couldn't even think. My mind was racing, I was so angry and all of a sudden had all these genius come-backs to my boss' asinine claims. I kept telling myself to let it go. I didn't even feel like going out anymore, I just wanted to go home, sit on the couch, eat something horrible for me, and feel sorry for myself.

My awesome boyfriend had spent the better part of his afternoon making mini-meatballs to bring to the party as an appetizer. I was going no matter what. I was still tense and replaying every second of my last hours at work over and over in my head. I kept telling myself soon enough I could have a new job, and never have to worry about my ridiculous office environment. Then I would be reminded that I still hadn't sent my references off to the prospective job, and I would stress more. It was a horrible cycle.

The dinner party was a fantastic distraction, and really let me forget my day and clear my head. I have great friends, the meatballs were a huge success, and boyfriend had a good time (a first with my friends). In the car ride home, I solicited my tipsy boyfriend for advice on the reference that hadn't got back to me. We came up with a solid plan of action for the next day. I would go into work early, before anyone else and talk to my boss. I would tell my boss about my prospective job, and ask him to be a reference for me. My boss would be as much of an ace in the hole reference as the one I was waiting for, but in general I don't like to tell my current bosses about my plans to move on. I was desperate, and my boss has always been very clear that this job is not a permanent stop for any of us. I am comfortable that I could be straight forward with my boss on this front, and get a decent reference from him.

Going into work early would mean skipping the gym in the morning. I was a little hesitant to mess with my routine, especially since that's how the endings of my previous good routines always start, and it wasn't even a guarantee that my boss would be there in the morning. I could be skipping the gym for naught. This has been a downfall in the past for me. I find an excuse to falter one day, and then the next thing I know, my routine is gone.

My alarm went off, and I always check my e-mail and facebook in bed while I wake up. Holy crap, my 1st choice awesome reference FINALLY responded to me and agreed to be a reference! The first thing that went through my head is "I can go to the gym!" Now, that may not seem like a big deal to many people, but for me, that was proof I am training myself to kick my old habits! No more finding excuses to skip the gym, or eat bad. Best of all, I didn't have to inform my boss of my plans.

I know there are going to be times in the future when I am tested on this again, and actually do have to step outside my routine, due to unavoidable circumstances. I hope the strength of my new routine that I continue to build everyday carries me through those times, and allows for a little wiggle room. Recognition of what is a real reason to be out of my routine versus a made up reason by my laziness is probably going to be the best gift I can give myself in this journey.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Week 2 Curse

I was watching The Biggest Loser last night, the second episode of the season, and all the contestants kept talking about the "week 2 curse." Not being a religious follower of the show, I could only decipher that in past episodes, weight losses were not as great, (if not disappointing) in previous week 2's.

Keeping the show in perspective, as far as it being entirely for entertainment only, I sat on my couch and thought about things that can lead to a "disappointing" week 2. I say disappointing because the weekly weight loss numbers on the show are unrealistic for the average person. A contestant will lose 6 pounds in one week and the camera will pan to trainers Jillian and Bob, and they will be sharing a "WTF" look. I would be worried if I lost 6 pounds in one week.

As I fought the instinct to become a zombie and have the exact emotions that NBC writers predict I will have watching the show, a few thoughts came to mind. I found it funny that I was on my week 2 as well, I can follow along (heh). I also thought, well, of course they aren't going to lose as much weight as week 1. Week 1 was probably mostly water loss, and as the contestants build muscle, there will be some catch-up time before their bodies and metabolisms are processing the additional benefit of muscle.

I find it interesting that the show does not lead you to any conclusions for the cause of the curse other than the contestants aren't working hard enough. F-biology, 2 more hours in the gym is what they need to overcome the week 2 curse. Here is this show that is marketed as being inspirational, yet it subconsciously sends untrue messages. And don't even get me started on all the money they are raking in with The Biggest Loser brand. I can just see fatties every where rushing out and buying stuff that they think is going to be the miracle cure...just like on TV.

I don't want to bash BL too much here, because I will continue to watch it, and I do enjoy it. The Biggest Loser satisfies the instant gratification we have come to demand in our society by fast-forwarding weight loss at incredible rates. It also gave me a rationalization for why I lost 2 lbs this week and 4 last week...the week 2 curse (lol, I'm not disappointed). When I came up with reasons why the contestants didn't perform as well as they wanted in weigh-ins, I immediately threw that knowledge back myself.

So, as far as I'm concerned, the week 2 curse was made up by the show writers to add some drama. After all, if I don't get disappointed when a contestant loses 6 pounds instead of 15, then the writers are not doing their job.

I will not apply that thinking to my struggle, any week I lose weight is a good week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hole in One

This post is dedicated to my dad, because yesterday, he got his first hole-in-one playing golf. On a real course, not miniature golf... 167 yards! I imagine that must have felt great, and if you know my dad, you know he is SO competitive, and was probably quick to rub it in the other 3 guys faces. It is also well deserved, as over the last year he has lost upwards of 70 pounds.

In my previous post I mentioned watching my both my parents go through phases of losing a lot of weight, only to gain it back eventually (which makes them part of the 95% people who gain weight back after losing it). My dad was always capable of losing weight so fast. He would just all of a sudden be insane about eating healthy, eating less, and exercise. He has been an athlete his whole life, so typically his weight loss was centered around being able to perform better at the activities he was engaged in at the time (running races, tennis matches, hiking half-dome, etc.) Eventually, the weight would come back, and the process would start again.

I saw my dad twice last year, I saw him at Christmas (2008), and then again in May of 2009. When I saw my dad in May, he had lost 40 pounds since I had seen him at Christmas. He was definitely in one of the modes I had seen many times throughout my life. In contrast, I was at probably the highest weight he had ever seen me, and I could just see the pain on his face. I caught him one time looking at me and shaking his head in disgust, but he doesn't know I saw him.

He continued to lose weight, and would update me through our infrequent phone calls. He can't run anymore because of a skiing accident 15 years ago, and can't play tennis now due to some new arthritis in his foot. He has been mountain biking on Mount Tamalpais (the actual origin of mountain biking) and informs me that he's kicking guys asses that are 1/2 his age (competitive, I told you).

I see so many similarities between my dad and myself. I am very competitive like him. I took to running, like him. I like clothes shopping almost as much as him. I too am capable of going on "kicks" and being insane about eating less and exercising. He is a very large part of my motivation today, for all he accomplished last year, and all he continues to accomplish as a 63 year old mountain biking, hole-in-one golfer.

I have a feeling this time is different for him. The weight is not going to come back as it had all those other times. He likes clothes shopping way too much. And realizes he's getting too old to be carrying around 70 extra pounds.

I want this time to be different for me too. I want the next time I see my dad for him to notice how hard I've been working to be his little girl again. If he can do it, I certainly can. Thanks dad!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Learned Behaviors

My mom is convinced that my weight comes from me being unhappy. Somehow, somewhere, I'm in emotional pain, and therefore I eat my emotions. I assumed this to be true for a long time, because that's what I've watched my mom do my whole life. If she ate her emotions, I must eat mine too, right?

When I went away to college, I lost a lot of weight. I was walking everywhere, food was expensive, and I was unhappy. I spent the majority of my four years chasing after guys who knew I was chasing after them, and decided to throw me the occasional "carrot." I thought they didn't want to be with me because of my weight (which I thought was high then, but I would LOVE to be there now) and the solution to all my problems was to lose weight.

I took up running. I fell in love with it, and realized that nothing can get me through a winter in the northwest except for exercise. Running made me feel good. All my high school friends noticed when I returned for summer break that I was considerably smaller. I swear my own mother treated me different (better). I was able to run 4 miles a day, yes. I was able to pick out any clothing item I saw and have it look great on me. I was comfortable in a bathing suit. But my head? My head was CRAZY. I did not in anyway have my shit together as it appeared from the outside to those who are prejudiced.

I graduated from college and my whole lifestyle changed. I was much less active since I drove a car in Seattle and did not walk everywhere. I had a job and was not able to go for runs whenever I wanted. I discovered Thai food. Anyway, I'm not going to go into all the factors that got me here today, but I will say one thing, my head is nowhere near as crazy as I used to be in my college days. I am so much happier and even-keeled.

So now when my mom starts picking on me for my weight and tells me I'm unhappy, I can't help but be annoyed. Its just not true. One day it dawned on me. Could it be that in my 18 years of living at home and watching my parents habits I was just a casualty? I don't suffer from the same emotional things they base their eating off of, but I just picked up their habits. I like to think of it as growing up watching my parents smoke cigarettes my whole life, and then when I'm 25 and on my own, my parents getting all upset at me for being addicted to cigarettes! Uh, "I learned it from watching you!!!"

I know, I'm an adult, capable of making my own decisions, but I think our base of learned behaviors is what we fall back on. In college, I didn't realize it, but I was doing pretty much the opposite of what I had seen my parents do. Hence the weight loss. As I became more happy, I got comfortable, and fell back on what I knew.

This opens up the door for days of discussions on learned behaviors, genetics, nature vs. nurture, etc. I could have a whole blog dedicated to just such information. I only wanted to touch on it here, because for my current journey forward it is important to have some background. To look at what has worked for me in the past, and to get an idea of what shaped me. Literally.

I'm not going to throw my life under the bus so I can be unhappy and lose weight. Just being thin is not all there is to being healthy. I need to figure out how to change my learned behaviors so that the happy me does not result in a fat me.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Delicious Bean Salad

One day, I got a craving for bean salad. I had this idea in my head of how I wanted it to taste, but no idea how to get it to taste like what I was thinking. I went home and gave it a shot. To my absolute surprise, I created the exact dish I was tasting in my head. I was more then delighted, and this salad has become almost a weekly staple in our house. It is great tasting, healthy, incredibly filling, cheap, and easy to make. We also shake it up a bit by using different beans, veggies, or vinegars. The technique I use for making the dressing is exactly the same as I use for making all my vinaigrette salad dressings (Tracy, I will still give you a lesson in your kitchen).

1/2 Green bell pepper
1/2 Red bell pepper
1 Red onion
2 Cloves garlic
1 Can stewed tomatoes (mexican style)
2 Cans black beans
1 Can pinto beans
1 Can kidney beans
1 Can whole kernel corn (or 1.5 cups frozen and thawed)
Salt and Pepper!

1 Clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. Mustard (Grey Poupon or other dijon, not that fake yellow crap)
1 tsp. Sugar or Honey
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/4 c. Red wine vinegar (or balsamic works great too!)
1/2 c. Olive oil (I prefer extra virgin)

Open all cans of beans and corn. Dump into a colander, rinse and drain. To make the dressing, combine the following in a medium sized bowl: finely chopped garlic clove, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper and vinegar. Mix well with a whisk. Ideally if you have a Pyrex measuring cup with a pour spout for your olive oil, that works best. Keep whisking the vinegar mixture and SLOWLY stream in the olive oil. As the oil emulsifies with the vinegar (thanks to the mustard) the mixture will become thicker. Your arm will get tired before you finish streaming in the olive oil. Power through it. Once all the oil is incorporated, you should have a nice looking salad dressing with no oil/vinegar separation. Taste the dressing and add a little more olive oil if the vinegar is too strong, or a little more salt if the flavors don't pop.

Chop the peppers, onion, and garlic into small pieces. Add the chopped veggies to the dressing along with the can of stewed tomatoes, and mix well. In a large bowl, place the drained beans and corn. Add the dressing/veggie mixture and stir well. You will need to add what seems like a ridiculous amount of salt to make the flavors really come out. Beans absorb A LOT of salt. Mix well after each addition of salt, and taste. I wouldn't be surprised if I added well over 1 teaspoon at this stage. If you over do it, you can always add another can of beans.

This dish gets better as it sits in the fridge. This recipe yields a lot because I love having it for at least 2 days in my fridge. I recommend refrigerating for at least an hour before serving, stirring frequently. This makes an excellent dish to bring to a party or BBQ.

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.

Not. There are of course, pro's and con's to this job, but for the most part, I am against the way my boss chooses to run things. I feel it is a fly-by-night operation with shitty organization, and is entirely reactive. I came here with absolutely no experience, and I received no training, and had to learn everything on my own. I'm sure that I have not learned everything the proper way.

I had a job interview today. In this economic climate, for positions that generally depend on cities/counties building things, this is an amazing feat. Not to mention the competition in Seattle is ridiculous. I have sent out at least 40 applications/resumes in the last year to every position that was advertising. This is the ONLY call back I got. When they did call me, I learned the position is in California, which would mean a 1,500 mile relocation. The job is incredibly specialized, and is definitely a reach for me. I was sort of apathetic towards this interview because I really like the new routine I have for myself. The interview was HARD. So hard that now I want nothing more then this job.

Telephone interviews allow you to wear whatever you want, make whatever crazy hand gestures you want, have notes in front of you, etc. You are merely a voice. So, I apparently interested them enough that they want to have me come down there for a second interview in person. A hands on interview where they have me do some modeling and write ups. This throws me into a panic on two fronts: a) I cannot hide my weight in person, and b) my lack of proper training is about to be showcased in front of my next potential employer.

I know technically they can not use my weight as a factor for not hiring me, but what if it is subconscious? What if they have the same biases towards fat people that I have (lack of self confidence, lazy, don't have their shit together)? The last time I saw my mom, she told me that "no one is going to hire you if you are that fat." This is slightly taken out of context, but the message is there. I can't get that out of my head. I'd like to think she is wrong, but I can not change the perception that people have of overweight people.

The possibility that my 2.5 years here has been learning the wrong way of doing things and shortcuts that are only applicable to this office scares the crap out of me. How am I ever going to get out of here if all this time I've only been fooling myself thinking I have all these skills that I really don't, because my boss doesn't train us, or check our work, and he knows that no one reads what we write anyway, so it will all get approved?! This is a maddening realization that I half-had on my telephone interview today. My office is bullshit, and this potentially new office is going to see right through it. I now have the task of trying to learn as much as possible so I don't seem like a complete ass when I go down there.

I am a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. If this job and relocation is meant to be, then I will get hired. If not, I have a job. I have a solid network here in Seattle, and something better will come along. I know these things to be true, but it is so easy to get caught up in rush of things, and want things that are not necessarily best for me. What is truly amazing about life is that you always get what you really need, even if its the last thing you would ever think that you need. I can easily look to the past and see how perfect my life weaved itself, despite of all my temporary wants.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sign Please?

So, you know how in movies, when the protagonist is at some crossroads or perceived peril in their life, they without a doubt almost always look up at the camera and say something to the effect of "please, somebody give me a sign..." The very next day, some grandiose act occurs, and our character in distress is directed onto the right path, and life is good.

I don't remember asking for a sign, but I REALLY wish I would stop getting them. I get it: I'm overweight, eat too much, have been making poor health decisions, been in denial, and many aspects of my life are suffering because of these facts.

Over the last month, I've had three distinct moments (signs) that I cannot ignore, which have brought to my attention just how distant from myself I have become.

1. I went sailing for the first time in 7 years in the type of boat I used to race everyday in college. I felt humongous. Had the boats shurnk? I felt like I was an adult trying to ride a tricycle. I instantly became so aware of my size...there is nothing like getting into a small boat to become aware of your own weight, but wow. I did the quick math, and realized I was about 60-70 pounds heavier than my college weight. In racing these small boats, that 60-70 pounds is the difference between winning and losing.

2. At a recent Doctor's appointment, I saw on the scale I was 12 pounds heavier then my previous known highest weight.

3. And the nail in the coffin...I got a Wii Fit Plus yesterday. My boyfriend and I were setting it up, and I went first through the set-up routine as my boyfriend watched. I've never shared how much I weigh with my boyfriend, and the realization that it was about to pop up on our 46" Samsung gave me a minor heart attack. I tried to get him to look away. He did not. Deep breath...and well, the Wii confirmed what the scale at the gym had told me (which is 4 lbs lighter then a week ago, thank you very much). If my boyfriend was shocked, he hid it well. During his set-up, I learned that he is only 6 pounds heavier then me. He is 7 feet tall (for real) and I am 5'5." Wow.

I want these 3 moments to live in the forefront of my mind forever. I want to use them as the fuel that gets me out of bed every morning to work out, and as the reason for eating healthy food in portions that are correct for me. I want to show everyone who is not watching that THIS IS NOT ME. I want to be competitive the next time I step into a dinghy. I want the Doctor to not be silently shaking his head after recording my weight. But most of all, I want myself back.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Got Paid.

Today began day 1 of week 2. My boyfriend started winter quarter of classes today, and has an 8am class. Lucky for me, that means he and I are up at the same time, and he would prefer getting a ride to school with me rather than walking, so I now have no excuses to not go the gym before work. Everything is working out fabulously! I keep getting more and more help on my journey.

I woke up today and ate my 1/2 grapefruit. I went to the gym and weighed in. I was nervous, but knew I HAD to see results with the week I had last week. So, I happily took my shoes and coat off, hopped on the scale, and WOW! I lost 4 pounds since last week. I added 5 minutes of running on the treadmill to my 30 minutes of the Eliptical machine with arms. Over 5 days, that extra 5 minutes is going to be like an additional 25 minute workout!

Four pounds is a very nice reward for actually eating correctly and exercising. I say 'actually' because for the past 3 years I have been in denial about how much I was eating. I would go through phases (lasting 2 days maybe?) of eating right, only to think I deserved a treat and essentially erasing all my progress. I played this game with myself along with exercising (exercise has always been a constant in my life) and wondered why nothing was happening for me. I discovered that I can exercise all I want, but when it comes to me losing weight, it all depends on what goes in my mouth. Period. There is a feeling I get when I'm eating less, eating correctly for my needs. I want to say it's almost euphoric, but if I'm not paying attention, it is easily missed.

So how am I going to keep this up? I've set a goal (a few goals, actually, short term and long term). I'm planning my meals. I'm EATING LESS. I'm EXERCISING MORE. I'm eating a better composition of foods. I'm writing down what I eat. I'm keeping a blog. I have many friends who are supporting me on this. I have a routine. I'm keeping in mind that if I want to get paid, I have to work.

Kick Ass Pita Bread Pizza

When I'm craving something unhealthy, this is the meal I make for myself. It does have more calories then I should eat at one meal, but it is so many less calories then getting Thai take-out or delivery pizza. When I'm in the zone of eating healthy, I like to find ways to replace things I love with healthier versions. Not to mention I love the feeling of treating myself to food that is good tasting, and gives me the illusion of cheating, when in reality I'm still eating very well.

Kick Ass Pita Bread Pizza (for one, but obviously recipe can be made larger)

2 Whole wheat pita pockets (about 5" each)~ 300 calories
1/4 cup red sauce (I use Classico)~ 30 calories
1 ounce low-moisture, part skim mozzarella ~ 60 calories
2 small heads broccoli ~ 20 calories
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. Olive oil ~ 40 calories
2 tbsp. Parmesan grated ~ 40 calories

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a pizza pan or baking pan place pita breads. Spread 1/8 C. sauce on each pita, and dot each piece with 1/2 oz. of mozzarella each. Set aside while oven heats up.

In a medium-sized sauce pan, boil 6 cups of water. Chop broccoli heads into very small pieces. When water boils, add broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tender, but not soft. As the broccoli is cooking, chop 2-3 cloves garlic. Heat a skillet on med-high heat with 1 tsp. Olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom. Drain cooked broccoli very well. Add garlic to hot oil, and cook just till garlic is beginning to turn color, and turn burner heat to medium. Add broccoli to skillet with garlic and oil, and be VERY careful. The broccoli is wet, and the oil is hot, so splatters will occur. Stir and the action dies down a bit. Cook broccoli in olive oil till well coated, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Take off heat and set aside.

Place pan with the prepared pita's in oven. Bake until cheese is melty, but not bubbly. Remove from oven and top each pita with 1/2 the broccoli mixture. Sprinkle each with 1 tbsp. parmesan, and pepper if you like.

Total calories~ 510

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Week 1 Re-cap

Monday- 12/28: Had enough. I got motivated to begin changing my eating habits. It had nothing to do with the New Year coming up, and everything to do with a clear realization of just how large I have become. A switch flipped somewhere in my brain, and suddenly I was able to wake up early and go to the gym before work, and be satisfied after a 700 calorie per day reduction. Victory of the day- knowing in my head this feeling of change was different- this motivation was coming from some place deep.

Tuesday- 12/29: Day 2. Put in my 30 minutes at the gym before work. Planned out my meals for the entire day, which consisted of really changing the composition of what I eat. I know from paying attention to my body, that I need to add more protein to my diet. I know it makes me crave sugar less, and keeps me satisfied longer. I also need my carbs to strictly come from fruits, veggies, and whole grain sources. Got inspiration from Tracy to start my own 'journey' blog. Victory of the day- started a blog, seriously began writing down everything I eat.

Wednesday- 12/30: Gym, 30 minutes before work. I really think best while doing some form of exercise, whether it be walking, running, or on the eliptical machine. Keeping on track is so easy as long as I'm moving...I come up with all these excellent plans of how I'm going to change up my workouts, eat great (and less) and I couldn't feel better! So, I came up with my plan of things to incorporate for next week, that is if I'm still with this next week...Victory of the day- keeping up my new 'routine' for the 3rd straight day.

Thursday- 12/31 (aka, New Years Eve): Put my gym time in. Continued with my whole grains, fruits, chicken breast, and nuts meals. REALLY wanted to "celebrate" with some chinese take out as I have done almost every year in the past. No. I had to do better. So, I decided to still treat myself, by making whole wheat pita bread pizzas instead. One day I will post the recipe for those, because OMG, they were so good, and I felt amazing after eating. Probably because I felt a sense of power for not giving into my craving, and the meal was such a perfect balance of protein, whole grains, and vegetables, my body didn't need anything else. I headed out to pick up my boyfriend and head to a NYE party, knowing I would have to consider the calories in the alcohol I was sure to be consuming. Boring, I know, but hey, I'm serious about this. Victory of the day- Not getting chinese food, saying no to all the party appetizers-chips, dip, crackers, salami, fresh out of the oven taquitos...

Friday- 1/1/10: Gym was closed today due to the holiday. Had a quick fake sausage breakfast sandwich, and headed to the dog park. I later did a Jillian Michaels workout video, wow, she kicks my ass. I know that resistance training is going to have to begin soon, as that is an integral part of being healthy. A friend of mine called me around 7pm asking if I wanted to join her for Thai food (my absolute favorite) luckily, I had already eaten, so I agreed to go and just watch. We ended up going to a pub with bar food, and I didn't order any food, but did have two rum and diet cokes. Victory of the day- Not ordering any food at the pub.

Saturday- 1/2/10: Boyfriend and I hit the gym first thing (noon, but hey, on a Saturday that is first thing). Continued to make not only good food choices, but to eat less. I'm still in disbelief of how easy this change is coming this time around. It's like all of a sudden, everything makes sense, and I reach for an orange instead of chocolate. Headed over to a friends house, and to my surprise they had just got a Wii fit. I have quite possibly the most competitive group of friends, so the night consisted of nothing but playing Wii sports. I'm hooked. Searching for a deal on a Wii fit right now... Victory of the day- I did not snack at my friends gathering, it is so easy to mindlessly eat chips and salsa, and not realize you just downed 400 calories.

Sunday- 1/3/10: Rest day. I took a quick walk over to the mall to run some errands. I'm still fricken sore from the workout with Jillian on Thursday. For real, I highly recommend any of her workout videos. I'm ready for Week 2 to start tomorrow. I'm ready to add 5 minutes to my AM cardio workouts, and begin going to the gym for a second workout in the evenings 2 days a week, focusing on resistance training. I'm ready to add 1/2 grapefruit to my everyday diet. But mostly, I'm anxious to step on that scale tomorrow and see if this week is reflected on there. Victory of the day- Remaining focused, motivated, and feeling great!

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Waiting....

Tom Petty sure had it right. The waiting (WAY-aaaa-ting) is the hardest part. Ever since I began my freshman year of high school, I'm amazed how each year manages to go by faster than the previous. Well, I JUST figured out how to make each day go by painstakingly slow, in turn making the week drag on, so slow I can't even see this month passing...

What did I do? I finally started eating correctly and exercising. Four days has never gone by so slow. I only believe in a once a week weigh-in, so waiting for this week to pass to see if all I'm doing is working is practically torture.

I know I should just be satisfied with the great changes I have made thus far (all four days of 'em) and continually remind myself that this is not short-term, this is a way of life. To me, that is like going to work and not getting paid. I need to get paid, or I'm going to quit, because we all know that being unemployed is soooo much better then getting up and going to work. Sleeping in...daytime one telling you what to do....but wait. You have no money. Light bulbs are going off.

Ok. I get it. The attitude that being unemployed is better than working is what got me here in the first place. As much as I would like to quit my real job, I never would because work is what responsible, healthy people do. Work gives me a routine, social outlets, money, stories, etc. And my boyfriend doesn't make enough money to support me, ha (I really wouldn't want him to anyway).

Yet another metaphor for my body. I need to go to work and have faith that one day I will get paid. Even if that day is 1, 3, or 5 years from now. Sigh. Back to waiting...