January reality

Urgh.  Not looking forward to writing this post.  But here goes, it’s a recap of the two weeks or so since my last post.

Last week I experimented with calorie counting.  If you read the posts, you’ll know I was initially skeptical but then got sucked in.  As the week went by, I started feeling really good about it–I was coming in under my calories, I was making good choices in some tempting situations, and I was getting back into a groove in the gym.  I wasn’t perfect, but by my estimation, I only went over calories on Sunday.  Sunday was an exciting day because my football team, the Indianapolis Colts, made it to the Super Bowl!  Usually watching a game like this would be an occasion for pizza, wings, and beer, but I would not be deterred from my plan to lose two pounds that week, so instead I had kale chips, roasted chickpeas, a bowl of homemade chili, and beer.  Yes, too many calories, but I was so proud of myself for not ordering greasy takeout and for trying to get some real nutrition.

Monday morning I hopped out of bed eager to check the scale.  I was thinking, since I had lost two pounds the previous week with minimal exercise due to sickness, I could hope to lose two pounds this week, and if I continued to turn it on, I could do that one more week and be back at my lowest weight from last year.  From there, as long as I continued to lose at any rate I’d be thrilled.

I gained three pounds.

I was pissed off, but also hopeful that I’d get on the scale Tuesday and it would drop back down, the result of a bit of beer bloat.  I ate well on Monday and weighed in Tuesday morning.  It had gone down two pounds, leaving me still at a gain for the previous week.  I initially pledged to redouble my efforts, but by Tuesday evening, I was so cranky and irritated (partly to do with stress at work) that I called Greg and asked him to bring me fritos and onion dip.  I stuffed my face, then had a big dinner.  Yesterday was more of the same.

So now I’ve probably legitimately earned a three pound gain, and I’m mad at myself, especially since we’re heading into the weekend and I have lots of food-related activities on the calendar in the next few weeks.

But I don’t HAVE to be defeatist about this.  If I can just get back in the habit, I can start losing again.  It may not happen as quickly as I had hoped, but it will happen if I focus on behavior rather than the scale, and if I stop giving myself excuses for treats and laziness.

I think part of this issue was expecting January to be this magical time of weight just dropping off, and then running up against reality.  Weight never just drops off–it’s always a challenge, even when you are in the right mindset.

Here’s the deal: I’m going to the gym.  Today will be a good day.  Tomorrow will be a good day.  I’m sick of the creeping feeling of tightening jeans, and I’m seeing a few friends next weekend that I haven’t seen in a while.  They won’t know if I weigh 183 or 180, but they WILL notice if I’m happy and confident because I’ve been treating myself right.

eating crow

Have I mentioned I’m an idiot?

After getting all ranty yesterday about my 2 hours inputting a recipe on SparkPeople, I went about my daily business.  Except that whe I reached for a bite of my husband’s pretzels, I thought, “Wait a minute, I’m going to have to input this.”  And when I went to serve myself a full cup of rice with my dinner I thought, “Hmmm, if I only have 3/4 a cup, I can come in lower in my total daily calories!”

OH.  So that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Erego, I am now addicted.  There’s no telling how long the addiction will last, and I will probably continue to be frustrated by the time it takes to put in recipes, but I’m going to keep working with it for now and see how it continues to affect my choices (and hopefully, the pounds lost!).

p.s.  I promise I’m going to stop having every post be about SparkPeople.  Soon.

going with my gut?

The good news: my renewed attention to what I was putting in my mouth resulted in a two pound loss last week.  I’m still up from my lowest low before the holidays, but I’m moving in the right direction.

The other good news: I have fantastic readers who took the time to leave thoughtful and lengthy comments on my last post asking about how to use SparkPeople and whether or not it’s worth it.  Based on their comments, I decided to give it a go, even though I was still skeptical.

The bad news: I suck at this!  Today is the weirdest day.  It’s 2:00 and I’ve done NOTHING because I’ve been trying to figure out how to create and input recipes, etc.  Granted, I didn’t start working on this until noon, but I’m thinking it should not take two hours to input ONE recipe.  Maybe if I were better with conversions, but it took several trips up and down the stairs and conversations with my husband (currently recovering from the stomach flu) to figure out how many cups are in two cans of coconut milk.  And even then, the entry for coconut milk had a little star next to it which means “Hey, not necessarily accurate!  This could all be for nought!”

My original plan when I sat down in front of the computer was to do my meal plan for the week, do today’s tracking in SparkPeople, then take a shower and head out to the grocery store, come home and make a late lunch.  After two hours of futzing around I panicked and realized I wouldn’t be eating lunch til 5ish.  Greg suggested I eat ramen for lunch, like him, but as I am NOT recovering from the stomach flu (thank goodness) I had no excuse to eat ramen.  I also had no lunch food in the house, so I started thinking about what I could grab while I was grocery shopping that would be fast and reasonably healthy.

Then I thought: This Is Ridiculous!  My attempt to meal plan is going to result in eating out for lunch?  That is just bass-ackwards, if you ask me.  Luckily, I scrounged a can of tuna from the pantry and the ends of a frozen loaf of bread and did that for lunch, but I’m still unsure about this whole calorie-tracking thing.  I’m going to give it a few more days, but the truth is, by the time I figured out the calorie info for my day’s food, I learned this: if I follow my plan, I’ll be eating well today.  Well DUH.  I wouldn’t have known the exact number breakdown, but I know how to eat healthy.  I know how much rice I should have with dinner, and I know that chicken cooked in coconut milk has a lot of fat but that it’s good fat, and that if I serve it with kale and butternut squash, I’ll be getting great nutrients.

So now I’m wondering if I wouldn’t just be better off going with my gut as far as meal planning and focusing my efforts on sticking to the plan, rather than making it.  We’ll see.  For now I have to get a shower and get to the store, or I’ll end up eating Chick Fil A for dinner.

back in the habit

My social networking blahs haven’t completely lifted, but I’m feeling a bit more human, and I’ve been reading about everyone’s successes on their blogs and felt like jumping back into the fray with a few notes.

First, I got back into the gym yesterday and learned exactly how miserable it is to have lost almost all of your fitness abilities.  I choked out a one mile run and one mile walk on the treadmill, then crawled home.  I know I have to take it slow and steady, but a month ago I ran 8 miles!  This aint right!

However, I think I’ll be able to get back to where I was (not necessarily 8 miles, but maybe 3) in the next week or so, and once I hit that level, I have a plan.  My goal is to spend the rest of January and all of February working on total body conditioning.  I’ll do this by doing my circuits 4 times a week (2 each) and running a minimum of 10 miles/wk.  Then, once March hits, I’ll start officially training for the Broad Street run, and may cut the circuits back a bit.

In food-related news, I’ve had a great eating week so far.  I haven’t counted points or calories officially (although I do keep a loose running tally of points in my head most days) but I have been following Michael Pollan’s advice: Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly plants.  I love eating this way, and as long as I keep an eye on my portions, I don’t worry too much about the specific numbers.  Of course, if I get on the scale Monday and it hasn’t moved, I may go back on a strict points regimen.

Which brings me to a question–I know a lot of people love online calorie counters like Sparkpeople, but I’ve always avoided them because I rarely know how many calories are in what I’m eating.  This is a good thing–it happens because most of what I eat is homemade and doesn’t come with a nutrition label.  For example, this week my dinners were homemade potato leek soup and pozole.  The potato leek soup had very few ingredients, but in order for me to tell exactly how much of a potato was in each serving, I’d have had to spend 20 minutes portioning it out into little bowls and doing calculations.  The pozole would have been ten times harder, considering I made a huge batch and there are tons of ingredients–pork, hominy, chicken broth, onions, garlic, canned tomatoes, some oil, pureed dried ancho chilis, etc.  So my question is this: are there any other Pollan-esque eaters out there who will speak either for or against calorie counting?  Are these websites somehow better-equipped than I realize to help the home cook?

Thanks for reading.  On to the weekend–may your temptations be few and your activities cause sweat!

social networking blahs

I love my Macbook like she’s family, and can easily pass hours hanging out with her.  (Yes, it’s a girl.)  This weekend, I didn’t have plans and Greg was out all day Saturday, so I spent most of my time on the computer.  Some of it was doing school-associated reading, but I also set up a twitter account and then downloaded and launched tweetdeck to manage twitter and facebook accounts.  At first, it was exhilarating every time the little box popped up in the corner of the screen with a status update or a tweet.  Then last night Greg was using the computer for a minute and was surprised and disgusted by an update from someone I haven’t spoken to in years that said something like, “Now I know how cat farts smell!”  I couldn’t really blame him.

This morning, my plan was to write a post all about my holidays indulgences and New Year’s resolutions, but I’m having trouble mustering the energy for it.  It’s not that I’m not ready to recommit to my lifestyle change–far from it.  In fact, I’m excited about that aspect of things.  But for some reason, the idea of blogging about it feels like a burden.  And all these little boxes popping up in the corner of the screen are starting to feel like an invasion.  I know that dietblogging can be a huge resource, and that for me, it really helped all of last year to get people’s comments and read other diet blogs.  I think part of the issue right now is that, being on break from school, I don’t have much else going on in my life and I’ve OD’d on the computer.  Maybe once I get busy again, I’ll look forward to the chance to catch up on tweets and share what’s going on with me.  But for now, I feel like I’m living more of a virtual life than a real one, and it’s bumming me out.

So for now, I’m going to turn off tweetdeck and get to work.  I’m not exercising for the moment because I’ve been sick for over a week (part of the reason my New Year’s resolutions are starting on Jan. 11).  But I’m fully committed to eating right and as soon as my head and chest clear up, I’ll be in the gym.  Not sure when I’ll be back here, though.

I did want to say congrats to all the bloggers out there who managed to keep to their plans during the holidays.  I know there are quite a few who even managed to lose weight!  That’s a serious accomplishment and I’m impressed by y’all.  And to those of us who took some time off and are getting back to work, or who are making commitments for the first time, cheers!  It’s worth it.


It’s been a busy week, and certainly not a perfect one, but Wednesday I made some choices worth celebrating.

I was attending a luncheon for the program I teach in, and I had a dinner scheduled for my part time job at a really nice Italian restaurant.  I anticipated the luncheon being the Southern menu at our school’s fancy dining hall, and lo, it was.  Macaroni and cheese, collared greens, cornbread, potato salad, fried chicken, peach pie.  As I stood in the buffet line, I was thinking something along the lines of “Oh well.  It’s the Southern menu.  Nothing you can do.”  But as I went through the line, I suddenly found a hidden resolve and managed to fill my plate with: a tiny portion of macaroni, a large portion of greens, a small piece of chicken and a small piece of cornbread.  I wanted about 5X as much macaroni as was on my plate, but I told myself I could always go back for seconds.  I ate the meal and was far from satisfied, but I didn’t feel like getting up and getting seconds.

Then, realizing it was a freaking gorgeous day and knowing that cold and nasty weather was around the corner, I decided to get in a longish run in between the two events.  I planned out a new route and took off.  When I returned home AN HOUR AND A HALF LATER, I was shocked to realize I’d run almost 9 miles.  Frankly, this was probably a bit stupid, but I’ve felt fine ever since. I’m amazed at how easily I’ve gotten back into longer runs, and I’m excited about what this means for my goals.

Speaking of goals, that long run allowed me to cross of my first short-term goal on my running page: log 30 miles so I can enter the next level on Nike+.  My next goal is 50 miles by Christmas, so if you’ll excuse me, I gotta run.  (Heh.  So lame.)

this and that

Hey-o, Wednesday morning here.  Last night was the Biggest Loser finale, which I watched with a big bucket of popcorn (the healthy kind).  As you might have noticed, I gave up on recapping this season weeks ago, for a variety of reasons, but mainly boredom.  TBL isn’t the kind of strategic show I love (Survivor) so I felt like there wasn’t as much to talk about and I got sick of complaining about their methods.  However, I gotta share a few thoughts from the finale.

First, the Honorary Helen “All Teeth at the Finale” award goes to Tracy.  Good golly, CrazyEyes has still got it.  The crazy, I mean.  Although I feel there should be a new award established, the Honorary Rebecca “Nutrient Deprived to the Point of Incoherence and Really Bad Hairstyle Choices” award.  She’s a lovely gal, but the Agyness Deyn pixie cut is not the look for her.

Overall, though, a lot of these contestants looked really healthy as opposed to freakishly skinny, which was nice.  Dina, Alexandra, Coach Mo, even Rudy didn’t look gaunt.  And Antoine–wow!  Now that is a nice transformation.  The proposal was sweet, although a little voice in my head kept reminding me that she’s only 20 years old.  Ah well, perhaps those crazy kids can make it work.

Other than that, not too much to say.  I will be watching with a jaundiced eye again next season, because I can’t quit you, TBL.

In other news, my No-Stress Holiday Lifestyle Change Approach (TM) is going OK.  I’m not paying attention to the scale, so I have no idea how it’s actually translating to pounds, but my goal for this season is about how I behave, not what I weigh.  Aside from a bit of a breakdown (McDonalds and pizza, damn you) on Sunday, I’ve been eating salads for lunch and veggie-and-protein heavy dinners.  I’ve been running–I’m about to hit my first goal of 30 pounds logged which will take me to the next level on my Nike+ page.  Today is the infamous Day Of Work Luncheon and Dinner End of Season Celebration for the part time job, so there will be food.  My goal is to eat what I really want to eat, not to eat because it is there.  I don’t want to feel sick at the end of the night.

Cheers everyone!