Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I just finished entering all of my food for today into my calorie counter. I have established a bit of a routine for the weekdays, and I generally know what I am going to eat and how much exercise I'm going to get every day - so I enter it every morning. This way, I know where I stand. If I want that snack at 3pm, I know whether or not I have room in my calorie budget. If I don't have the room in my calorie budget, I need to look at how I can squeeze it in (i.e. what and how much exercise I will have to do to balance it) or I will have to skip it. At this point though, I know my habits. I know that I will need to munch on something when I get home from work, so I pencil it in - and I'm honest about it. I know what I like to munch on and I measure it in the morning and set it aside because otherwise I will get home from work and pig out. If I measure and set aside,  I don't splurge and I know that when it's gone, I'm done.

This planning works from day to day - but it also works in the larger scheme of things. For example, I am going to Sacramento for work tomorrow. I know that I will not have much time to exercise, I have to be out the door at 7:30 to make my flight and I won't be back until late. So, unless I can pull myself out of bed at 5am and do a short Kinect Zumba workout (which I will attempt, but I know myself well enough not to count on being able to do that) - I will not get much exercise at all tomorrow. Add to that the lunch at the meeting I will be attending  and the late dinner, likely from a restaurant - and I am going to have a high calorie day tomorrow.

I have known about this for a while, and I have done this trip before, so I can plan for the day. Here is what I will do / have been doing:  I have had high exercise / low calorie days for the last several days because I know that Thursday will be high calorie / low exercise.  As I said, I will try to wake up early to do a short Zumba session in the morning before I leave. I will have a low calorie breakfast with protein (probably whole wheat toast with a small amount of peanut butter and an orange) to help me feel full for longer, I will eat the lunch served during the course of the meeting. Lunch will be sandwiches, chips, cookies, and fruit. I will eat the sandwich and the fruit with some water. I will have a salad (probably again with some protein - chicken cesar or a greek salad with chicken) with dressing on the side and a small amount of bread for dinner and probably eat some pineapple when I get home. There. My day tomorrow. Planning around it will help me to manage what will probably end up being a higher calorie day. I'll do this kind of thing when I know I'm going to go out to eat, or be at a family event as well. It is easier than stressing myself out all day about the extra calories I know I'll be taking in.

This probably sounds a bit obsessive, but it really isn't that difficult - it sounds worse than it is, and once the habit is developed, it works really well (for me anyway). The whole planning thing probably takes a total of 15 extra minutes a day at most and it helps immensely.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I hated vegetables. Before I started losing weight, the only way I would eat veggies was smothered in cheese or butter or something else fabulously tasty to hide the inherent vegetable-ness of the veggies I was consuming. Candied carrots, cheesy broccoli, green bean casserole (green beans smothered in cream of mushroom soup and topped with fried shoestring onions - Yummy!). I did not eat vegetables (sans creamy, cheesy awesomeness )often - I would choke them down once in a while....and I almost never ate raw vegetables. I hated them.

Now, I have developed a taste for veggies, subsisting on shakes for five meals a day for several weeks tends to change your pallet quite a bit. Actually, I think that was probably the biggest benefit of the medically supervised shake diet I was on for the first several weeks of my weight loss. The weight loss was obviously a great benefit, but I found myself craving some variety and since the only option I had within the bounds of the particular diet I had chosen was to add veggies to my shakes (and not so great entrees) - I added vegetables. And they tasted wonderful!  I added vegetables about 6 weeks into my weight loss, they were the first real food I had eaten in six weeks and they were fabulous! The shakes and entrees were more like a nutrient delivery system than food. The vegetables were a beautiful and welcome addition, and they stayed.  The benefit of vegetables, in addition to all of the healthy vitamins they provide, is that they are very low in calories and they fill me up. So, when I have a meal, I load up on the vegetables and then I can have my chicken and my bread or rice or whatever. Since the largest part of my meal is vegetables, I don't need much of the higher calorie foods to get full. Thus, I can enjoy my fish, chicken, etc. in healthy moderation and not feel like I am totally depriving myself. It works beautifully and I feel great. Now, I love vegetables - and I have those horrible shakes to thank for it.

I still quite like the creamy, cheesy stuff, but I reserve it for the Holidays and then I plan for it and enjoy it in moderation.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weathering the Bumps in the Road

I have had a stressful couple of weeks to say the least (as far as my weight loss / maintenance is concerned). My husband had unplanned minor surgery (he is fine, but he was in the hospital for two days). And the day after he got out, my entire family came to visit from out of town. I love my family dearly, we were happy to have them visit, and we had a lot of fun. The "problem" is that they are wonderful cooks / bakers. This is fine because I planned for that much. When I'm around my family, I let myself enjoy the time - and that includes eating with them and enjoying their wonderful food. I am careful to moderate and not get too carried away but I know myself, and I know that I will go over my calorie budget on days I spend with my family and their fabulous cooking - and for me, that is fine. I have learned to plan for it instead of stressing myself and everyone else out with my obsessive calorie counting. (I still do count, as I discuss later, I just don't stress about it)

I had planned to prepare for my family's visit by having some low-calorie / high exercise days before they arrived and after they departed. I don't allow myself to spin completely out of control, I still have a calorie budget, I just raise it temporarily. This is how I handled the Holidays and it works well for me - I actually ended up losing weight over the Holidays.

My husband's emergency hospital visit put an end to my well-thought-out strategy. Not only was I unable to get in my exercise, the hospital food was - ironically - not the healthiest fare. I don't know if they were trying to drum up business or what - but the cafeteria food at the hospital was awful, fatty, starchy, calorie-laden stuff.  However, I was running on little sleep, I was stressed and worried, and I was hungry, so of course I ate it. I had other, more important things on my mind and I had to keep myself fueled.

Now my family has left, and my husband / work out buddy is on the mend, I feel like I am back on track, and I'm proud of myself because I actually lost a pound through all of it. 

My plan for the rest of this week is to continue to go a bit lower calorie, make sure to get in my workout every day. Then, this weekend, I will go for a couple of nice walks with my wonderful husband and enjoy what looks like a beautiful couple of days. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Most Difficult Part of My Workout

While I have found several activities that I love and that help me to move and get the exercise that I need, I find that I still have days where I really would rather just plop, or sleep in.  Yesterday was one of those days. When I got home from work, I did NOT feel like working out. I was exhausted and all I wanted to do was to plop down in front of the T.V. and just sit on my behind all night. On days like yesterday, I find that the most difficult part of my workout is lifting myself up and taking the first step toward my workout clothes. Once I have decided that even though I would rather plop, I am going to get my exercise, even if it is only 15 minutes, and I carry myself grudgingly over to get dressed, I will get there.

I read some advice on one of the blogs I follow and I am going to pass it on here, because it really worked well for me.  When I don't want to exercise for whatever reason, I don't think about the workout on which  I am about to embark in its entirety because it would overwhelm me and I would remain firmly planted on my butt.  Instead, I convince myself that I'm just going to go and do a short workout and then I take it one step at a time. I lift my behind off the couch or out of bed (which, as I said, is by far the most difficult step). Then I get my gym clothes and shoes on - there, step two done - now, I'm dressed, I better get out the door.  I get out the door and to my car. Okay, from this point it gets easier. I'll just drive to the gym and do a nice easy elliptical workout for 15 minutes and be right back home, better than nothing, right? Once I am at the gym and on the elliptical for about 5 or 10 minutes - I end up doing my entire workout because at that point, I'm feeling much better, energized, and - frankly - happy with myself for getting there.

So, on those days where you just don't feel like getting in your exercise for whatever reason - just lift your behind off the couch or out of bed - that is the first, most difficult step. After that, it gets progressively easier and before you know it - you've gotten in a good workout. And you can justly be proud and pat yourself on the back.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mix it up

I mentioned in my last post that I went kayaking this weekend for the first time. One thing that I have found has helped a lot with my weight loss, and one thing that I hope will help me to maintain my weight loss, is to mix up the exercise I am getting. Adding a lot of variety and trying new activities not only keeps it interesting, but it helps to remove the excuses I would often use NOT to go out and move. For one thing, and I guess this is pretty obvious,  if I enjoy the activity, I'm more likely to go out and do it and less likely to find excuses not to. For example I have a Zumba class on Tuesdays and Thursdays that is awesome fun and I absolutely love it. I will move heaven and earth to get to my Zumba class. I love to kayak and I am already planning to go again with my husband on Saturday morning. Again, it would have to be pretty awful weather for me to miss it.

Another thing that variety does is that it gives me options. If it is windy and really rainy and I cannot go kayaking on Saturday, I can go to the gym and do a workout there - and if I don't make it to the gym, I can do a Zumba or Cardio work out on my Kinect. Variety also helps to balance the workout my body is getting. I will admit that I need to add some strength training to my routine, but Zumba and swimming give me a nice cardio work out, the elliptical, walking, and biking give my lower body a good workout, kayaking gives me a good core (and some arms) workout.

I've tried a couple of activities that I didn't enjoy as much - but I'm glad I tried them. I have found so many more things I love to do - I'm often kicking myself for not starting this sooner - I missed out! But not anymore.

I still have days where it is gloomy outside and / or I have to force myself to trudge over to the gym to get my daily exercise and I probably always will. However, because I have found so many different active things I love to do, I am happy to go out on most days and it doesn't even seem like I'm dragging myself out to get in my required calorie burn for the day - I'm just out having fun and enjoying life.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Nothing Tastes as Good: The Benefits of Weight Loss #5: Life Gets Bigger

I went kayaking for the first time this weekend. It was so much fun! I plan to go as often as I can from now on. I have always thought that kayaking would be fun, but before I lost weight, I was afraid I would be too big for the kayak or too out of shape to paddle or to get back in should I capsize. So, I was able to finally go kayaking because (a) I am in better shape and as such paddling was probably easier and the entire experience more enjoyable and (b) honestly, I feel better about myself and I have more confidence in how I look and in my athletic abilities.

Kayaking is just one of several things I have been able to experience since I started to lose weight. I've heard people say that "Life gets bigger when you lose weight," I didn't really get that at first, I thought it sounded kind of condescending, really. But it's been true, at least for me, because I experience more. Here is why: First, I'm smaller so I am more comfortable doing everything from flying in an airplane to riding rides at Disneyland to going to the movies or the theatre to kayaking. Second, I have more energy so I don't excuse myself from going out and doing things. I missed out on so much before just because I was tired and didn't have the energy. Third, I feel better, both physically and emotionally. I already talked about how my migraines have all but vanished, I will get a headache once in a while, but nothing like the debilitating migraines I used to experience. And my headaches now are easy to deal with - water and a Tylonol - and the headache is gone. I hadn't realized how much my migraines were hindering me, I missed a lot  because of them. And, maybe it is because I have more energy, but my mood is generally better. I just feel good - and because I feel good, I feel like going out and doing more - I get bored sitting on the couch now. Finally, I am more confident. I don't feel like the "fat" person in the room anymore (and I probably judged myself more harshly than anyone else judged me). I was more insecure than I realized. Because of that confidence, I will do things (like try kayaking) that I did not do before. Life is definitely bigger, I get it now.