Category Archives: Way-In

Sometimes Life Is Like A Country Western Song

Standard

Well, hello there.  Long time, no blog.

As you may have noticed, I disappeared in the last month or so.  There was a major snowstorm in our area which resulted in our home losing power and heat for a week, as well as a small tree falling against our neighbor’s house.  Hubby and I tried to stick it out at home, but it was freakin’ cold, so we shuffled around hotels.  When the power came back on, the furnace didn’t work, and it took a few days to get it to work.  And, oh yeah, I hurt my back shoveling snow.

After the snowstorm debacle, we left town for a pre-booked, much-needed vacation.  It was a whirlwind trip as we flew around visiting friends and family, then finally spent a couple of glorious days at a warm, sunny corner of the world.  When we returned to town, I thought I would also return to my normal routine.

Instead, I lost my job.  At least the boss waited until after my birthday.  Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s been a hell of a year.  It would be easy to give up, to tuck myself into bed and not get out for the rest of the year.  In fact, the day I lost my job, I sat in my car in the driveway thinking, “Do I really want to tempt fate by going to the grocery store?  With the way things are going, I’ll get into a fender bender on the way there!”

I tempted fate, and I continue to tempt it.  I get out of bed early each morning and I stay busy all day.  I view this time in my life as an opportunity to refocus and reorganize, literally and figuratively.  I’ve used the last couple of weeks to clear my head, to clean out and organize my house, and to do things I haven’t had time or energy to do in, oh, years.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the overwhelming support I’ve received from friends and family, as well as colleagues in my field.  Their love and support has reminded me that there is so much more to life, and my life, then a job.  (Hopefully I’ll remember that as the bills come due!)

Finally, I’ve returned to a steady diet and exercise routine.  I’m doing yoga again, and I’m back at the gym several days per week.  In fact, yesterday I did my best time ever on the treadmill–a mile in 10:34!  And I’ve lost a total of 23 pounds since mid-July!  I’m totally gonna turn into one of those “ladies who lunch” who spends all day in a velour tracksuit, going to the gym and flirting with the trainer.  Just kidding.

Have you ever had a period of your life where it seemed like everything went wrong, or you had a big, unexpected shake up?  How did you handle it?  What’s your advice for other people going through a rough period or a major life change?

Fourteen Weeks Way-In

Standard

As you may have noticed, I pretty much disappeared in the last week.  I’d like to say I was on vacation, or kidnapped by aliens or something interesting, but the truth is I was just busy.  I had a bunch of after-work events I had to attend, then I had relatives visiting from out-of-state for a few days (who noticed my physical fitness!), followed by more after-work events.  I didn’t blog, I rarely made it to the gym or the trails, and my eating habits suffered.  The weird thing is that I finally broke my weight-loss plateau, at least for a few days.  Maybe after I get back into the groove this week, I’ll see some more weight loss and muscle toning?  Maybe my body needed a shake-up in the wrong direction?  One can dream.

So, the goal for this week is just to get back to normal.  I gotta exercise at least five days this week.  (Monday was already an off day, and Wednesday will be, too, thanks to after-hours, work-related events I’m compelled to attend.)  I gotta drink a lot of water.  I gotta eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  I’ve scheduled a physical for this week which will be shortly followed-up by blood tests, meaning the dreaded cholesterol test.  I’m crossing my fingers that my doctor finds improvement in my health and that I continue to avoid cholesterol medication which I’ve been dodging for, oh, 16 years.

What are your goals for the week?

Thirteen Weeks Way-In

Standard

If you’ve ever seen Mame, then you’re familiar with the joke about Upson Downs.  I think I’m going to rename my life Upson Downs.

I’m still at a weight loss plateau.  I think I’m going on, oh, up to three weeks of a plateau.     I suppose I need to be a bit more vigilant about what I eat, and how, to make sure I haven’t become complacent with that aspect of my lifestyle.  Plus, I have several after-work events coming up in the next couple of weeks, so I should make an extra effort to eat healthy when I can to prepare for those events where it’s not so easy.  (Breaded chicken cutlets and pasta seem to be very popular at these kind of events.)

I should also mix up my exercise.  Case in point:  I didn’t do any yoga last week.  Zip.  Zilch.  I miss it.  I need to do it.

Speaking of mixing up workouts, Sundays have become my de facto day to shake it up.  Yesterday, I ran the trails instead of the treadmill.  I purposefully did interval training.  I have no idea how many miles I ran, but I was on the trails for an hour.  At one point, I really ran.  I mean knees-pumping-feet-pounding-the-ground-sprinting-flying ran.  It only lasted a minute (if that), but it felt great.  As for the treadmill, I averaged about 11:52 per mile.  On Wednesday, I ran 2 miles in 22:57 (or about 11:29 per mile).  Now that I know I can run on the treadmill for a mile or two, I feel like I should mix it up and spend some time doing interval training on the treadmill.  Maybe that will break my plateau.

How was your week?  What are your goals for this week?

Twelve Weeks Way-In

Standard

I’m twelve weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  The past week feels like a big fail.  I took not one, not two, but three days off from exercising.  Three.  No yoga, no running, no nothing for three days.  On Tuesday, I took the day off because I didn’t feel well.  Okay, I can give myself a pass for that.  On Friday, I skipped morning yoga, then went out after work and didn’t get home until late at night, so I didn’t do anything.  Okay, I could maybe–maybe–give myself a pass for that.  But Saturday?  I slept late, puttered about for a few hours, then hubby and I went out for the rest of the day and got home late.  I could’ve done something in the morning.  I could’ve, at least, done some yoga.  But no, I was a total lazy slob.

The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight, despite my laziness.  Also, when I did get on the treadmill, my pace improved to an average of 11:54 per mile.  And, my mood has been relatively stable.

The bad news is I haven’t lost any weight in two weeks and I’ve hit a plateau.  Weight loss is not my primary goal but, I’ll admit, it’s a goal and a measure of my health.  And, of course, I was lazy.  Remember when I ran 2 miles on the treadmill?  Yep, hasn’t happened again.  Today I made it about 1.85 miles, but I walked it after 1.5.

So, what now?  Time to refocus!  I figure I’ve been at this for almost 3 months now.  I’m in a new season and a new quarter, so why not set some goals for the next quarter?  Here goes:

1.  Try a new activity or sport, and do it at least twice.

2.  Run 2 miles at a time, at least once per week.

3.  Lose 10 pounds.

What are your goals for the next 3 months?

Eleven Weeks Way-In

Standard

I’m eleven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  Last week, I challenged myself to tackle the elliptical machine and recumbent bike at the gym, and to do a couple of days of restorative yoga.  I only met half of my challenges.  I tried the elliptical for three minutes.  I just don’t get it.  I didn’t feel comfortable on it, and I’m not even sure I was doing it right.  The ellipticals are really popular at my gym–there’s usually more people on the ellipticals than the treadmills.  Why?  I enjoy the treadmill a lot more.  As for my other goals, I totally skipped the bike.  My left knee is not 100% and I’m afraid the bike would wreck it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m stickin’ to it.)  As for yoga, I only had one yoga session that I felt was restorative and focused.  Maybe I should start doing more yoga at night, as opposed to before work, so that I can totally relax in it without watching the clock.

As for my other activities for the week, I averaged about 12:20 per mile on the treadmill.  On Sunday, I decided I needed a break from the treadmill and ran around the hilly neighborhood instead.  (Everything in moderation, right?)  I followed it up with yard work.  (Now that’s definitely something I do in moderation!)

I’ve lost about 17-18 pounds overall, and I think it’s starting to show.  There are certain parts of my body that look a bit more toned, although there are other parts that still look just as soft and flabby as ever.  It’s a process, though, so it takes time.  However, I had to go shopping–had to, I swear!–because my black suit was literally falling off me!  I tried on a bunch of size 12 suits and dresses, and was amazed at how well they fit.  Shopping is definitely a more pleasant experience these days.

It seems, however, that my weekends are not as pleasant in the sense that I’m not as good with exercise and diet on the weekends as I am during the week.  On week days, I have a very structured schedule with meals and snacks at certain times of day, lots and lots of water (at least 64 ounces per day), occasionally yoga in the mornings, and the gym in the evenings on at least 4 week days.  But on the weekends?  Forget it.  My “meals” turn into sloppy foraging in the fridge at random times of day, and I don’t drink nearly as much water as I do during the week.  It leads to unhealthy choices.  For example, on Saturday I sorta forgot to eat lunch, so I was ravenous by the time Hubby and I were at a street fair on Saturday afternoon.  We decided to get lunch right away.  Rather than choose a restaurant offering fresh, healthy food, we dashed into a bar and ate nasty pub food.  I actually apologized to Hubby because the “food” was obviously thawed-out, microwaved crap.  I didn’t eat much of it, but I followed it up with a sugary drink from Starbucks.  On Sunday, I ate beyond feeling satisfied at lunch, then went to dinner with a friend and had a bit too much sangria.  My poor weekend food choices showed on the scale this morning.

So, my goal for this week is, again, to do more restorative yoga.  Also, I want to be more consistent with diet and exercise on the weekends, especially with my water intake.

What are your goals for the week?

Ten Weeks Way-In

Standard

I can’t believe it, but I’m already 10 weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’m truly astonished and pleased that I’ve made it this far.  No matter how healthy (or unhealthy) I am right now, it’s quite an accomplishment to stick it out this long considering that my prior attempts lasted maybe 2 months.  Here’s hoping I’ve really developed long-lasting habits.

This past Tuesday, I joined a gym.  I went to the gym 4 times last week and used the treadmill and the weight machines.  (I also did yoga and other things at home.)  I definitely felt it as my muscles have been a bit tight or sore.  Nothing serious, but I wonder if it means I should work out more or less?  In any event, I really killed it on the treadmill and ran a mile in 11:47 on Friday!  Then I ran another mile!  It was a big day for me.  Not only did I run two miles, but I did it in 24:40.  Two months ago, I never, ever, ever thought I’d be able to run two miles, much less at a pace of about 12 minutes per mile.  I followed it up on Saturday by running a mile in 12:21, then I did a cool down for a quarter of a mile and called it a week on the treadmill.  (Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m not the type to set big fitness goals for myself everyday.  I’m more the type to keep going slow and steady, and then be really surprised when it actually works one day.)

I’m surprised that I’ve been able to maintain the home cooking aspect of my healthy diet.  Last year when I tried a healthy lifestyle, I got frustrated at meal planning and preparation, and ultimately I gave up and went back to pre-packaged junk food.  I think that’s because, last year, I was focused on counting calories, so it was very easy to quickly throw up my hands at the thought of planning meals every day with a certain amount of calories.  It was overwhelming.  Now, I’m focused on eating real, whole foods, and it’s been more of a pleasure exploring new foods and new ways to cook them.  I’m also surprised by how easy it is to prepare a lot of meals with whole ingredients.  (I’m talkin’ to you, soup.)

For this upcoming week, I’d like to tweak my workout at the gym.  I’m kinda afraid of the elliptical machine, so I’d like to tackle that and see if I can handle it for a few minutes.  I’m also kinda afraid of the bikes, just because I’m worried it’ll really mess up my knees, but I’d like to try a bike for at least a couple of minutes.  Finally, I think I need to spend a couple of days doing some restorative yoga.  I feel like I’ve haven’t really devoted much time to truly practicing yoga lately, and the little bit of yoga I’ve done lately has felt rushed.  I need restorative yoga to balance everything out.

What are your health and fitness goals for this week?

Nine Weeks Way-In

Standard

I don’t know if I’m sensitive to weight issues these days or what, but this past week I got several comments that left me scratching my head.

To start, remember the server who assumed I was going to eat a giant cheeseburger?  Well, I had lunch at that restaurant again, and she made a point of saying hello and introducing herself to me–even though she was neither my waiter nor my server for the day.  Oops, maybe she overheard me try to joke about her fatty assumptions last time, and maybe she felt bad about it.  Maybe it was just coincidence.

By the weekend, I was feeling pretty good about myself.  I hit the two month mark of my new lifestyle, hit (and maintained) a total 15-pound weight loss, and discovered I needed to shop for smaller clothes!  Hubby and I hit the mall.  I’m short (5’2”) and need a short inseam on pants, so I try to shop the petite sections when possible.  I was excited that I’m no longer a size 14/16 (14 on a good day!) and am cruising into 12/14 territory, which means the petite section of a lot of stores is now available to me.  While looking at the suit pants in the petite section of Ann Taylor, the saleswoman sternly reminded me I was in the petite section, as if I’d waddled over there by mistake.  I encountered something similar at Brooks Brothers.  (However, the folks at Banana Republic were friendlier.  I tried on a pair of size 12 jeans there and nearly wet them when they fit!  I even dragged Hubby into the dressing room to see my success.  Okay, I could stand to lose a couple more pounds until they fit perfectly but, d*mnit, I bought them, anyway–I deserved it!)

That night, Hubby and I tried a new hibachi restaurant.  We were seated next to another couple about my age.  The thin wife looked at me after our super-skinny waitress left and said, “I want to eat what she eats–she’s so skinny!”  I polished off the shrimp and veggies on my plate, but only had a few bites each of the rice and noodles.  The wife looked at me again and said, “Wow, you have self-restraint.  I ate everything!”  I didn’t know if this woman was just a chatty Cathy, or if she saw me as something other than a fat slob (which was how I was feeling at Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers) and more as a kindred spirit who tries to live a healthy lifestyle.  Which would be awesome.

Despite the mixed comments, I’m feeling jazzed about my healthy lifestyle.  Yes, fitting into a pair of size 12 jeans helped, but I’m excited that I’ve hit the two month mark and I’m still going strong.  In fact, on Sunday I jogged around the neighborhood and just.  Felt.  Great.  The sky was bright blue and cloudless, there was a slight breeze, the neighbors were all out and smiling, and I discovered an alley still packed with fragrant flowers despite the cool weather.  I wasn’t straining to breathe as I jogged, and I probably jogged at least a mile, upwards to 1.5 mile.  (Not consecutively, but I jogged most of the 2 miles of my neighborhood trek).

For the first time, I felt powerful in my body.  Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers?  They can’t take that feeling away from me.

Eight Weeks Way-In

Standard

I’m eight weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  The past week has felt a bit bumpy.  I made strides in my jogging (sorry, pun intended) by successfully running three entire laps on Friday without passing out, but I couldn’t repeat the performance on my next jog on Sunday.  My weight dipped in the middle of the week, but by today I was right back where I started last Monday.  I have the nagging feeling that I should be doing more strength training, or spending more time on cardio, but it hasn’t really happened.  Maybe I need to find another activity to add to yoga and walking/jogging.  Any suggestions?

The good news is that I still feel good, emotionally and physically, and I’m still eating a pretty healthy diet.  In fact, incorporating fruits and vegetables in every meal and most snacks has almost become second nature to me now.  And once, I thought I spied that elusive creature known as a “muscle” lurking in my calf.  It’s an endangered species, but I’ll let you know if–when–I see it again!

Seven Weeks Way-In

Standard

I’m seven weeks way into my new healthy lifestyle.  I’ve lost 12 pounds and I’m officially overweight!  Why am I excited about being overweight?  Because when I started this new lifestyle, my BMI put me in the obese category.  (BMI means “body mass index” and it calculates body fat using your height and weight.)  Less body fat = healthier me = happier me.

I’ve noticed that a few pieces of clothing seem to fit better.  I know it will take more time and pounds to really notice a difference or, miracle of miracles, drop a size or two.  I’m okay with that because I feel better and I’m getting healthier–and that’s what really counts.

Lesson learned, though:  listen to your body!  I told you about how my left knee was acting up over the weekend.  I gave myself 24 hours between workouts and then went for a walk/jog last night.  Not so smart because today my knee aches a bit.  Nothing major, but something I could’ve avoided if I’d just listened to my body and accepted that my body needs a break now and then, even if my mind is saying “run, run, run!”

Last week I aspired to fit more cardio or strength-training into my workouts.  Purely by chance, I happened to stay at a hotel with a fitness room and used their free weights and weight machines.  I used the weights to work my upper body, and my upper body felt good afterwards.  It really just made me want to join a gym even more.  However, the general consensus seems to be that I should wait a little while longer before I join a gym, so I need to figure out a way I can increase my cardio and strength-training at home without any special equipment.  Any suggestions?

Six Weeks Way-In

Standard

I’m happy to report that my healthier eating has continued.  I’m trying to incorporate at least one fruit or vegetable in every meal.  Sure, that doesn’t sound so difficult, but you have to remember where I came from.  Just a few months ago, I went entire days–for days at a time–without fruits or veggies.  How, you ask?  Easier than you might think.  I’d have a bagel or pancakes for breakfast.  Lunch was often a southern-style chicken sandwich from the nutritional dumpster known as McDonald’s, or a chicken/rice/cheese burrito (with refried beans and sour cream, natch).  My afternoon snack might be a cupcake or cookies.  Finally, I’d finish off the day with a cheesy pasta or greasy pizza, often followed by ice cream for dessert.  Yeah, I was competing for world’s youngest heart attack victim.

Fast forward to today and you’ll see that my meals are much different.  Breakfast is usually oatmeal or a fruit salad.  My snacks have included grapes, cherries, and bananas, occasionally paired with a Babybel cheese.  Lunch might be leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, a salad, or a sandwich of veggies piled on whole grain bread.  Dinner is often steamed or sautéed veggies along with brown rice, polenta, fish, or chicken.  And I’m not ready to quit!  That’s the most amazing thing to me.  I haven’t tossed in the kitchen towel and gone back to all-junk-food all-the-time.

My physical activity is kinda, well, not where it should be.  I’ve been trying to listen to my body rather than focus on numbers, i.e., I walk or jog as long as it feels manageable rather than focus on the time spent or miles walked.  I do some kind of physical activity at least 5 days a week, whether it’s yoga or walking/jogging.  That said, I think my body could take more cardio or strength-training.  I don’t think I’m spending enough time sweating and getting my heart rate up, and I’m doing virtually no strength-training unless you count a couple of yoga poses (plank pose, anyone?).  For this next week, I’m going to try jogging more or aerobics or something to get my heart really pumping.

I’m also going to try to avoid the scale.  Sigh.  It has far too much sway over my feelings and self-confidence.  And I know better.  I know better than to let a stupid scale, or a number, dictate my self-worth, but what can I say?  I’m an American woman and, unfortunately, weight = worth has been ingrained into my subconscious.  My feminist-college-self would kick my butt right about now.  So no more scale this week.  Or at least for a couple of days.  (I’m trying!)

Despite the emotional roller coaster that’s been riding my bathroom scale, I’m still maintaining a decent outlook on life.  I definitely had a few rough days in the last week and I was moody, but it didn’t sink to where I was a few months ago.  It wasn’t the high I was feeling a few weeks ago, either, but it’s all about achieving balance, right?

Five Weeks Way-In

Standard

It’s been five weeks since I vowed to make changes in my life to increase my peace, balance, and mental & physical health.  Now that I’m five weeks way into this self-created program, it’s time to see if I’ve made any progress.

The most positive change I can report is that I haven’t had any suicidal thoughts.  Obviously, this is better than any physical hurdle I could’ve mastered.  My general attitude has improved, and I don’t feel as moody and grumpy as I was before.  Oh, I still have my moments, as my hubby can attest to, but I’ve definitely improved.  In fact, one day last week I had a moment where I walked into work and thought, “hey, this day might not totally suck.”  I swear to you it was the first time I’d had that kind of thought at work in, oh, years.  (It quickly evaporated as the day progressed but, hey, it’s a start.)

I’ve taken up yoga and walking/jogging.  I dabbled in yoga before, sporadically over the years, so it wasn’t a totally new thing for me but I am still a novice.  I’ve been more focused on the yoga moves and breathing, more devoted to it, and it’s paying off.  I feel refreshed and calm after a yoga session, and I feel more confident in myself.  Not too long ago, I would read articles or listen to people talk about how exercise gave them more energy and I thought, “bullsh*t.”  I had never experienced a runner’s high, never enjoyed sweating, never felt like my muscles were warmed up after a workout.  Maybe I just needed my mind and body to be united and ready to tackle whatever physical challenge I presented to myself because now, believe it or not, I actually want to exercise.  Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it, either.  I still haven’t experienced a runner’s high yet, but I’m not totally turned off by sweating anymore and–again, last week–I actually felt warmed up after a vigorous walk.  And miracle of miracles, I actually woke up early just so I could do yoga.  On several occasions.  Without coffee.  And felt good afterwards.

Changing my eating habits hasn’t been as difficult as I thought it would, although it’s not what I would call easy.  I’m eating only when I’m hungry and not stuffing myself, and I’m eating most meals at a table so I can enjoy each bite and eat slowly.  I’m making healthier choices at the supermarket and picking up more food from farm stands and farmers markets.  I’m trying new fruits and vegetables.  I’m not counting calories, but I’m definitely careful about what I put into my body.  I definitely see results here.  I don’t feel as sluggish as I used to and, best of all, I’m not experiencing the daily gastrointestinal problems that plagued me (which may have as much to do with my anxiety and stress level as my food intake).  Although I’m trying to focus on feeling better, I admit that I’ve been stepping on the scale, and I’ve lost 10 pounds in 5 weeks.  Again, I’m trying not to focus on weight loss as the end-all, be-all goal, but I do want to get to a healthier weight, and losing 10 pounds is definitely a bonus to all of my lifestyle changes.  I’m not seeing much of a change in my body shape yet, and most of my clothes still seem to fit the same, but it’s a start.  The important thing is I’m still maintaining all these changes, and I want to keep going forward.