Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back on Track

A month has gone by - wow! It took some doing, but I am back to within 2 pounds of my pre-vacation weight. I am now happily back to my routine and it is paying off, albeit slowly. I actually went back to the dreaded shakes for a while (I'm still replacing one meal a day with them.). They really aren't so bad, but going back was still depressing. It was worth it though. While I really do not think that these shakes and meal replacements should become a regular part of a diet - using them on occasion (pre- and post- Holidays and vacations) I think is okay to help keep things under control. I will probably stay on once-a-day meal replacement (with two light meals and several light snacks - fruit and veggies - netting about 1200 calories a day) until after the Holidays, just to be sure I maintain through this bumpy time of the year.

Anyway, just a little update - Happily, I am on my way back down, and my clothes aren't fitting quite so snugly anymore - Yay!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Vacation Lessons

I'm back, after an awesome vacation and some much-needed relaxation.  My husband and I spent the end of June and the better part of July in Europe. We hiked the Ring of Kerry in Ireland, 130 miles in 9 days. Awesome and breathtakingly beautiful. It was a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys hiking - though the 11 day hike that we did was quite challenging (it is advertised as "11 days" but we didn't hike the first and last day). We also did some kayaking and a couple of wonderful day hikes in other parts of Ireland. Then, we spent four days in Paris over Bastille Day. This was quite a different experience, but still amazing and fun. We walked around the city and took in the sights, shopped and ate on the Champs-Élysées (I could even shop in the boutiques, the clothes fit!!! yay!...I bought a cute skirt and some pants...but I digress...). On Bastille Day (July 14), we watched the parade down the Champs-Élysées, spent the day walking around and enjoying the city and the festivities surrounding the celebration, then ate a picnic dinner on the Champs de Mars (In front of the Eiffel Tower) and closed the day watching an amazing 45-minute-long fireworks display - complete with laser light show and soundtrack. Awesome.

Then, we got back home after 130 miles of hiking, lots of walking, kayaking...and one month of no scale and no tracking my food = 15 pounds up!!! Yikes. I nearly fainted when I stepped on the scale the day I returned. My clothes were a bit tight, I noticed, and when I was shopping in Paris, I had to buy the equivalent of one size up from what I usually wear, but I wrote that off as European tailoring. Nope. I had gained quite a bit of weight. Proof positive that "you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise" is a myth at best.  That's not to say that exercise is not vital, but the eating right - I think that is about 75% of the battle. The weight gain probably had a lot to do with the bread and cheese and pastries in Paris, and the Pub Grub at the end of my time in Ireland. Note - next time schedule the intensive exercise portion at the END of the vacation. :-) All that said, I have absolutely no regrets.

I had promised myself and my husband that I was not going to obsess about my diet (again, when I say "diet" I mean what I put in my mouth every day, not a temporary fad or reduction in calories) when we were on vacation and, honestly, I was ready for the weight gain - just was not prepared for how MUCH weight I gained. Anyway, that was a month ago. I was back on my routine within two weeks - recording everything I eat, exercise daily (if nothing else, I make sure that I walk 1/2 an hour),  balancing my calories...and so on.  I lost six pounds almost immediately, I'm thinking that the day I returned, I must have been retaining a lot of water or something, because within like four days, I was down 6 pounds and feeling quite a bit less bloated. I have since lost another 3 pounds. I am still up 6 pounds from when I left for vacation, but I'm on my way back down - so, I'm okay with that. As long as this weight does not stick around, I'll be fine.

This whole weight loss and maintenance thing is a learning experience. I know that I am going to slip up once in a while, and gain weight. But now that I'm paying attention, I am starting to become very aware of what I need to do to be successful.

Vacation Lessons Learned:
(1) Enjoy vacation and do not obsess about my diet and my weight. This may be different for different people, but I am not going to ruin a vacation with ridiculous obsessing.

(2) That said, balance - again - is the key.  I can still eat healthy even when I allow myself to splurge and eat higher calorie food now and again. I caught myself  eating a LOT of sweets and breads and eating when I really was not hungry on a couple of occasions. I don't need to do those things to enjoy my vacation. Plus, when I stuff myself or eat unhealthy food for days on end, I don't enjoy myself as much because I don't have as much energy. So, mitigating the junk food - without obsessing about it - actually would add to the enjoyment of the vacation. I just over-did it this time. Next time, I'll be a little more careful.

(3) Schedule a lot of physical activity into the vacation. It's fun. Walking tours and hiking and kayaking - we saw SO much more than we used to when we took bus tours and boat tours... When we were hiking in Ireland, we could stand up on the top of a mountain (well, an Irish mountain anyway) and watch the tour buses go by below us. Let me tell you - our view was SO much better! And kayaking on the lakes was amazing. It was peaceful and gorgeous, we kayaked out to an island with a castle - it felt like we had the entire place to ourselves (we did, it was just us and our guide, and some red deer :-) ) And the same was true when we were hiking - we were in the middle of this gorgeous landscape. Just us. No hordes of other tourists.  So, we were getting this great exercise and getting way more out of our vacation time as well. I will say that it was also a LOT more relaxing. The food tasted better and we slept really well after a 10-hour day of hiking in the hills, forests and around the coast of Ireland.

I am having a great summer! I hope you are as well.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Just a couple of hiking photos from today's hiking trip. Fun!!

One benefit of my weight loss journey (and that of my husband) is that we have found so many things we love to do. Hiking is one of those things. This is great exercise - we were out for over 5 hours today - but we weren't doing it for the exercise, we were doing it purely for enjoyment.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nip It In the Bud

I'm still plugging along. I am still about 25 pounds away from my goal, I'm not losing very fast at this point, but I'm not gaining any weight either. In fact, I am losing clothing sizes. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I fit into a size 6 about a month ago. Now, I am very comfortably in the size 6.  I am staying stubbornly just above 160. I'm at 161 and the scale absolutely refuses to budge below 160. Gah! But that is actually okay. My focus at this point is to continue with the good habits that I have formed and to avoid slipping into the old, unhealthy, bad habits that resulted in my weight gain to begin with.  I'll lose weight. It'll just be slow. Fine with me. But those bad habits can creep up very innocently and unnoticed.

Here is an example of a fail that I caught and to which my husband and I created a solution: We have been hiking after work quite a bit as of late because we are preparing for our epic 130-mile hike around the Ring of Kerry in Ireland in late June. We generally put on our heavy hiking boots and do a lot of climbing hills and walking in the sand* to add to the level of difficulty.  We generally hike for about two to three hours after work (on the weekends, its more like 5-7 hours). There have been several occasions where, upon finishing the hike on the drive home, we are both famished and neither of us feels like waiting to cook a good, healthy, low-calorie dinner. So, we have stopped at the Mexican food place down the street from our house. Yum. "We'll just stop this time, never again" is always the mantra. Yeah, we've done this enough times that I would call it a habit now. We don't do it every time, but we did it twice in one week a couple of weeks ago, and that is way too much. After devouring our hideously caloric and fattening (albeit delicious) burritos, we had to step back and take a look at the situation. Not only are those things high calorie and fattening, they are greasy and choc-full of really unhealthy stuff...and my cholesterol is beautiful at the moment. I do not want to mess with that success. So, here is the strategy we have devised and it seems to be working:

  1. We always have healthy, low-calorie food on hand for our lunches. We decided to simply have a bit more of that on hand for days when we are famished from hiking and need a quick meal. And we can always steam up some veggies fairly quickly. The quick food that has worked best for us is Thai chicken lettuce wraps. I make the filling and the sauce ahead of time, and we keep some of that on hand. It isn't the lowest-calorie food you could eat b/c it has quite a bit of peanuts / peanut butter in it (homemade peanut butter), but it also does not take a lot to fill us up - because of the peanuts and protein - and they hit the spot after an after-work hike. We can eat them cold, they are delicious, and they are very satisfying. Much more than any burritos we could eat.
  2. We always have a lot of fruit on hand. Now, we make sure that we have a piece of fruit before our hike (bananas seem to work best) and, of course, we drink lots of water.
We do these two things and (a) we are not quite so famished when we are done with our hike and (b)we don't over-eat or eat highly caloric / fattening / salty fast food. Nipped that bad habit in the bud. 

Like I said, I haven't gained any weight, but I would have if I'd kept this behavior up. Once a week had already become twice. Twice a week would have become three times, and then four and then other restaurants, and on and on... 

I have to say that this is probably the most difficult part of weight loss and maintenance. I am NOT on a diet. There is nothing temporary about what I am doing. I have to live the rest of my life in a healthy way. No going back to old, bad habits because that would result in my gaining back the weight I worked so hard to lose. But I like it. I am so much more active, I have so much more fun, I feel like I'm really getting the most out of my life. That said, life will throw curve balls, and there are days when it is really difficult to do what I know I need to do to stay healthy. There are days I don't. I'm not perfect. This happens. I just brush myself off, figure out how to deal with it, and keep going. No need to excoriate myself, everyone who has ever done this has these days. The trick is not to let it derail you. Keep going. And if you see yourself slipping into a bad habit, old or new, nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. 

*We hike at Torrey Pines State Park, I would highly recommend it for anyone in San Diego - you can make the hikes as long or short as you like and vary the difficulty depending upon the trail. And it is absolutely beautiful, particularly at this time of year when all the wildflowers are blooming and at sunset, which is generally when we are there - Just Gorgeous. Added bonus.

Friday, March 22, 2013

I Heart Water Aerobics!

I noticed something this morning that one would think I would have noticed sooner, but have not. And I am thrilled about it...hence post number two in as many days. The under arm sag that I so despised as I was losing weight is nearly gone!! I nearly did a cheer right there in the locker room when I came to the realization that it was going away.

I read a blog a while ago, when I was still bummed out about my sagging under-arms and all the "loose skin" under my arms. I had resigned myself to living with it because I did not want to get surgery to get the "excess skin" removed and I had heard that loose skin is one of those things that happens with weight loss and there is really not much you can do. The author of the blog that I  read wrote that loose skin is often not "loose skin" but it is fat that has not gone away - she also argued for weight training or toning to address loose skin issues - so that your skin has something to which it can cling. She was exactly right (she usually is, Erika rocks, I love her blog and if you aren't subscribed to it, you should - it is here.)

Anyway, let me get to the point - water aerobics. I am taking a water aerobics class that includes a lot of toning, I have been doing it for over a year. I don't do much else to tone my arms, just this class - 3 mornings a week. It is a fairly easy class, wakes me up in the morning, burns a few calories, and I love the water, so there is that. I knew it was toning a bit - but WOW - this morning I realized just how much good this awesome, fairly easy, enjoyable class is doing. wow. I'm thrilled. Unbelievable. I wanted to go hug the instructor, but that just would have been weird.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


It's been over a month since my last post. oops. I have been crazy busy at work, planning my summer vacation (yay!) and "training" for it (read, playing).

My husband and I just bought hiking boots for our vacation in June - July and we have been breaking them in. Let me tell you, finding hiking boots that fit properly is quite an undertaking - particularly when you have giant feet. I wear a women's size 12 in running shoes and, apparently, it is rare to find adequately enormous hiking boots in women's size 12, at least at REI. Thus, I landed in a Men's 11 1/2.  Everything on my body has gotten smaller with weight loss....EXCEPT my feet. I look like a hobbit. Oh, well. I'll take it.

The other recent purchase I have made is a book called "Afoot and Afield in San Diego." Awesome. Book. It details hundreds of hikes from all over San Diego County, and for all different skill levels. If you live in San Diego and are looking for some gorgeous hikes, I would highly recommend it. I love living in San Diego, it is a beautiful area of the country, and I am really looking forward to using this hiking book to make the most of living here.

On Saturday, we went to watch our nieces dance in the St. Patrick's Day Parade. This posed a bit of a problem because we usually start our days early when we are hiking, so as to avoid the heat and the crowds. Happily, the weather on Saturday was absolutely gorgeous. It was a bit chilly in the morning, but by late morning / early afternoon, it had warmed just enough so that it was perfect hiking weather. We were at Balboa Park anyway, so we decided to take the opportunity to explore the trails. And Wow! We could have spent 3 days hiking, there are so many. We had a great time, did a moderately difficult hike, and started to break in our hiking boots in the process. What a wonderful day!

On Sunday, we did our 17-mile "train walk" and we added a little 4 mile hike along the way. We did part of a hike we found in our new book. It was really beautiful because it went right along the beach. Another great day. I did learn that I need to have a more substantial breakfast when I do these long hikes or walks. I need to have some protein in the morning if I am going to embark upon these adventures. I slept in a bit on Sunday morning, and only had time for a bag of Cheerios prior to beginning the hike. This was a terrible idea. We ate our little picnic lunch at the half way point like we always do, but it was not enough. By the time I arrived at home, I was absolutely famished and exhausted. I felt like I could not get enough to eat. I stayed within my calorie budget and all that good stuff, but my body was telling me something that I cannot ignore. Currently, my self-diagnosis is that I didn't eat enough. I have done that walk a million times, sans the hiking boots and the beach leg of the walk, and I have never felt so exhausted at the end of it. Not even the first time I tried it. So, next time I shall make sure that I have enough to eat and drink when I embark upon one of my adventures.

Oh, and lastly - in other news, I fit into a SIZE 6 last weekend. I now own 2 pair of size 6 shorts and a pair of size 6 "shants" (convertible pants for hiking). I have not been losing weight as fast as I was, but I'm still "shrinking."  This is a particularly exciting milestone for me, because I began this journey at Size 26. So, 20 sizes (well, actually 10...but technically 20, right?). I am totally excited about this development as I was prepared to spend my life as a size 8, I was perfectly happy there. This is just a happy surprise.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Weekend and Planning for the Week

This past weekend, my husband and I went dancing, did some cooking, and continued to "train" for our upcoming vacation. Friday, we went to our ballroom dancing class, we are learning the Tango, and I think we finally have it down to the point where we can "graduate" to the next level next time around - Yay us!! We have found that dance is really difficult for the first month or so, but once it starts to click, it is awesome fun! 

Saturday, we went on our "train walk,"our 17 mile walk down the coast from Oceanside to Solana Beach. It was a gorgeous day, shorts weather, and we had a beautiful, relaxing walk (and burned a good amount of calories in the process). We stopped at the half way point and had a yummy picnic lunch of oranges, apples, and dry cheerios (I know, dry cheerios probably do not sound great, but they did the trick - usually, we take blueberry yogurt muffins, but we just didn't have the time to bake them the night before). After our walk, we went out to lunch, we had Mexican food. Lots of calories. We still do go out to eat now and then, we're just careful about it. Even though our dinner was heavy and calorie-laden, the exercise we did throughout the rest of the day kept us within our calorie budget. So, we certainly wouldn't do this every day, but it's fine for a treat once in a while. And we treated ourselves on Saturday. 

Sunday, we woke up early and went for a beautiful hike at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. Gorgeous. We arrived early enough to beat the crowds and hiked around for 3 1/2 hours. It was beautiful, it was fun, and it put me in a really great mood for the remainder of the day. What a fantastic way to start the day! Sunday afternoon, we prepared for the week by cooking an enormous pot of minestrone soup (I say "we," really, it was my husband).  We ate pretty light all day on Sunday and I ended up netting just over 700 calories for the day, and I wasn't hungry once. Fruit and veggies, baby! 

Every week, I try to have at least some idea of how I'm going to eat right and exercise enough to make my daily and weekly goals. So the plan for the week, Monday (today) is a low exercise day, so I need to keep my calories low. I try never to go an entire day without doing any exercise, this is not too difficult except when I travel. I always try at least to go for a walk at lunch, and that is the plan for today, to go for a good lunch walk and then to go for a nice walk with my husband when I get home. This is not Zumba or an intense work-out, but it will do along with a bit of a stricter diet. Tuesday, I have a lunch meeting for a board on which I serve. I will check out the menu and order responsibly, but it will likely still exceed the calories I generally alot for lunch, so that means breakfast and dinner need to be light and I need to watch my snacking really closely. Breakfast will probably be the same as usual and dinner will be white fish and veggies. Snacks on Tuesday will be fruit and veggies and I will be avoiding bread products and salty foods (restaurant food is always more salty than homemade, in my experience, even when the restaurant food doesn't taste particularly salty). Wednesday through Friday will be my typical Wednesday through Friday - no eating out or anything like that around which I need to plan, and I'm not travelling or anything, so my exercise routine shouldn't be disrupted. 

Enjoy your week!