Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When Being Stuck in a Rut is a Good thing

I stepped on the scale this morning and was happy to see that I am back to the weight I was before all my travelling and craziness this summer. Whew! I attribute this success mostly to the fact that I am back to my routine...I'm back in my rut.  I love travelling, I plan for travelling, and I think I have it down and I do okay when I travel, but it does throw a wrench into my weight loss routine. Before I was successful at weight loss, I tried and tried and tried to lose weight, and I failed and failed and failed. One of the biggest obstacles to my weight loss in the past was that I would start a diet and / or exercise routine and then I would have to go out of town for work, or I would go on vacation, and inevitably my routine would suffer and I would fall out of any good habits I had started to form. So, getting back to my routine, back in my rut, after I travel is very important to my continued success.

Therefore, even though I really did not feel like it, I dragged my behind out of bed way earlier than anyone should be awake, before the sun was even thinking about showing itself (5am) and went to my water aerobics class. I do this every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, I'm back to Zumba class at 6:30 on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, and this Friday, my wonderful husband and I are back to ballroom dancing - Fun! (For those of you in San Diego, this is great exercise and great fun - and really inexpensive at Balboa Park - check it out). We are also back to our active weekends, though I will say that the more weight we lose, the more we have to do to be "active" and really burn a lot of calories. We still find fun stuff to do, even though it is HOT. We just do it very early in the morning - long walks, bike rides, kayaking... I'm also back into my food routine. Sunday morning, my husband and I go to the fruit stand and stock up on lots of fresh produce, I pack my lunch every day and I pack a lot of fruits and veggies on which I can snack if I get hungry. My routine has worked beautifully for a year now, and if something happens and I have to change my routine, I'll figure out how to do that because the results are so worth it. But for now, I'm happily stuck in my rut again.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Surviving Chicago

I love pizza. I especially love deep dish pizza. And Chicago deep dish pizza...forget it, no amount of willpower or planning can keep me away...and I just might eat it until I explode. So, you can imagine how nervous I was about my 3-day trip to Chicago for a work conference last week.

Instead of avoiding the beautiful Gino's and Giordano's and their decadent deep dish (or stuffed) pizza like the plague, I decided to let myself indulge, within reason. By that I mean, no eating pizza until I feel like I'm going to explode. I had 4 pieces of deep dish pizza in 3 days (at 800 calories a slice, according to!!!).

I decided to make sure I got some cardio to help to at least mitigate the damage. This proved to be more difficult than usual. I usually go and check out a hotel's workout facilities upon arrival at the hotel, last week was no exception. I made sure I knew where the workout room(s) were and what hours they were open. I woke up the first morning I was there at 5:30am (3:30am my time!), dragged my carcass out of bed, and went to use the workout room, only to find out that this hotel, unlike many others at which I have stayed, CHARGED for use of its facilities - $10 / day. Sigh. Fine, charged it to my room and proceeded to go to the workout area to discover that there was quite a line to use the cardio equipment. I did not have a lot of time to stand in line and wait because I had already slept as long as possible (my conference registration and meetings started fairly early). So, after waiting for several minutes, I left and walked back to my room. Ultimately, I walked every day I was there for about 45 minutes. No, walking is not the intense cardio exercise that going hard for 45 minutes on the elliptical provides, but it is something...which is better than nothing. It is always good to move, even if it is not going to be "enough," every little bit helps. Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot of character, so it was enjoyable, and my walks allowed me to move a bit and get at least SOME exercise, given my schedule and the unavailability of workout equipment during the hours I had set aside to work out.

In addition to ensuring that I got my daily exercise, I employed a couple of other strategies that I generally use when I travel. I brought some low-calorie blueberry-yogurt muffins with me to eat for breakfast in the morning. I had a muffin and then I went down to my meetings and went straight to the fruit tray for snacks between meetings. I was careful about what I ordered for lunch when I had lunch with colleagues and I was careful with the lunch that was served at the conference. I didn't eat the bread, avoided the sweets, and was very sparing with the salad dressing. In the end, I did go over my calorie budget every day. This was no surprise, given the pizza I ate and the fact that I did not get enough exercise every day. That said, I didn't do bad. I was down 3 pounds when I left for the conference and up 2.5 when I returned. I am reasonably certain that some of that is water weight from all the salty food. In any event, I'm not going to freak out. I know exactly what to do, I'm back onto my routine, which I've modified a bit. I'm having a shake for dinner every day and I'm on mostly fruits and veggies (save for my breakfast cheerios) - kind of a modified "healthy solutions" plan. I've done it before and it works for me. It'll probably take me a week to take off the weight I just put on. So, I basically set my weight loss back a week.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Little Freaked Out...

For the first time since I have started this weight loss, I have gained a bit of weight (4 pounds over the last week!) and I have no idea why. Here are my current theories, but none of them seems to work:

  1. I'm thinking it may be that I am really close to my time of the month, but I usually don't gain this much and it's usually not before.
  2. I reassessed what I've been eating, and, since I returned from visiting my family about a week ago, I've been doing quite well. I had a few terrible (excessive calories) days when I was visiting my family - but that has happened before, and I'm usually fine - generally, I will be back to my "starting weight" within a few days of returning, and I was losing weight at the beginning of the week. Then this sudden huge gain. Hmm... No idea, and it is freaking me out quite a bit.
  3. The only thing that I have been doing differently is that I have been ingesting more caffeine, I drink 1/2 a cup of coffee in the morning with a tablespoon of cream (35 calories) - but (a) I account for that in my calories and (b) it shouldn't account for four pounds in two days.
  4. I went out to lunch with my husband on Tuesday and had a burrito, which is definitely not low-calorie, but I adjusted my food / exercise, so that my net was only around 1700 for the day (I usually try to keep it around 1200 calories), and I am always very generous with my calorie estimations when I eat out (I will overestimate if there is any question) I've done this several times before and never had an issue. Gah! No idea.
  5. I haven't walked steps for a few days because my knee has been bugging me (need to get that checked, it's been a week) - and I've missed my lunch walk on 2 days because I was busy running around taking care of all the tasks I had to address after my purse was stolen on Monday. But I don't think that skipping my walk for 2 days would account for this (and - with the exception of my day eating out with my husband - I continue to net 1200 calories or less)
  6. I've been incredibly stressed lately. Maybe that has something to do with it. I am having a stressful, busy time at work, my purse was stolen, and both of our cars are giving us trouble - and that has really caused quite a bit of stress over the past month or so. Maybe that has something to do with it, I've heard that stress can help lead to weight gain...??
Maybe it is some combination of these factors. I will keep an eye on my weight over the next couple of weeks, control the things that I can (cut out the caffeine, make sure I get my walk, get my knee checked before it is something serious, try to relax about the purse issue...) and see what happens. I am travelling next week (part of my stress is that my corporate card, all of my identification, my Ipad and my Iphone were stolen with my purse, and I have to board a plane on Monday for a conference, and pay for meals, hotel, etc... with my own diminished funds unless my corporate card gets here on time - it is expensive to replace this stuff and my car is constantly in the shop).  So there it is. I'll try to blog over the next couple of weeks about what I am doing and how it is going. But I am seriously freaked out at this point (more stress, that's helpful).

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My Obsession with Planning

I have had a crazy busy summer. I have been travelling a LOT, and with travel, particularly travel to see family and friends, comes a minefield of issues that can throw weight loss / maintenance into a tailspin and good habits off track.  So here, again, is another blog entry about the importance of planning.

One problem I have when I travel is what to do about exercise. When I have multi-day business trips, it's fairly easy, I find the gym and the pool at the hotel at which I am staying and I swim and /or work out on the elliptical or on the treadmill for an hour. It's just a matter of motivating myself to get down to the exercise facilities, which, once I started to make this a part of my business travel routine, has become pretty easy.

There are two instances in which exercise while travelling has become challenging, and planning helps me to make sure I do at least a small amount of exercise and keep my weight on track. The first instance is when I travel for business and rather than a multiple day trip, the trip is a really long day trip. I have one of those coming up on Monday, I have to catch a train at 6am and I won't be back to town until after 8pm. (Four hour train ride each way). I know myself well enough to know that I will NOT want to exercise when I get home.  The meeting is at a college campus, so I have decided to do a walk (this is my standard "what do do when there is nothing else" answer to exercise). There should be a 45 minute to hour long break for lunch, so I can get at least 1/2 an hour then. There also be a couple of short breaks between sessions throughout the day, so I can get short 10 minute walks in during those breaks. I'll make sure not to wear heals or uncomfortable shoes for this particular event, I'll dress in layers so that I can be comfortable in a ridiculously cold room (as tends to happen at these things) without having to worry about being sweaty and smelly after a short walk, and I'll keep my eyes open for stairs that I can climb to get the most out of my short time. There, planned. Now, for the food issue.

When I'm not going to be getting a lot of exercise, I need to make sure I balance my calories. I try to net around 1200 a day, which is not a lot at all and adds up fast, particularly when I don't get a lot of exercise. I am certain that lunch at my Monday meeting will contain a sandwich of some kind, which is fine. A lot of people will avoid breads altogether, which is not a bad idea, given that breads are generally laden with calories. I don't completely avoid bread, though I'm very careful about how much and what types I eat. If there is a whole grain option, for example, I will usually take that. Generally, this particular gathering offers boxed lunches with sandwiches that have do-it-yourself condiments. The mayonnaise will not be making an appearance on my sandwich. Instead, because I do not like my sandwich to be dry, I'll use a bit of the mustard. I will have some cheese on my sandwich, but only one slice (there are generally two or three on these sandwiches). I will avoid the cookies and chips and opt for the small piece of fruit that is usually included. I will pack a small lunch bag with snacks and dinner. I'll probably take some fruit - maybe an apple, some strawberries, baby carrots, a low-fat blueberry yogurt muffin or two, and a 100 calorie (one cup) bag of cheerios  (yes, I'm five and I snack on cheerios). That should get me by, but I will pack a couple of  HMR bars on which I can snack, just in case I get hungry despite my nutritious snacks.

Okay, Monday is planned.

The other instance in which I find it difficult to fit in my exercise is when I travel for leisure, particularly when I am staying with family or friends. It is really difficult to schedule exercise into these trips because I do not want to take time away from visiting with family and friends, but I do need to take some time out to do something. I have yet to master this one. I have started to wake up early in the morning and go to the local gym (generally around $10 for a day pass, which can get expensive, but thus far, I've managed to negotiate with them to secure a bit of a better deal). When I cannot go to the gym, I try to make sure I go for a walk. I will walk with family or friends, if they would like, otherwise, I just grab my husband and we go for at least an hour. It's something. It's also more difficult to plan when you are visiting friends / relatives. I'm still working on this one, but I'm getting there - and I'm sure I'll write all about it when I master it. :-)