Friday, October 24, 2014

Complimenting Weight Loss and Weekly Weigh-In

This has been a pretty good week - I went to the gym almost every day, and pushed myself in the workouts. My Zumba friend and I had a blast at our class, and I’m thinking of trying another one during the week. I’ll say for the last time - I am so happy to be back to regularly schedule programming. The holidays were hard, and I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, but they’re over now so I’m focusing on what I can actually influence.

This week’s weight, and last week's that I didn't get around to posting:

Pounds Fat82.772.57372.170.370.871.3
Pounds Muscle 67.366.867.264.465.26765.4

Quite frankly, I’m thrilled. I think the not-so-good holidays managed to be balanced out by really successful in-between days. Normally I would have said “screw it, why bother to get back on track for four days when it’s just going to be
another holiday?” This time, though, I realized it was worth it. Weight loss is really all about the long term, so if in the long term I gain a pound or two over a holiday period (because really, that’s all it is) and then back on track the rest of the time, it doesn’t have to have such an effect. Maybe October will be 170s month? Probably not, but considering that it was about 1/3 holiday, I think it's good.

Speaking of weight loss (which in this space, is most of the time) - a while back, when I was heating up my breakfast in the office kitchen, one of the managers politely asked me if I had lost weight. I may have hugged her. She is the first person who doesn’t know that I’m trying to lose weight to notice. I still don’t see a huge difference, but this shows that something is changing.

Complimenting weight loss can be a tricky business. For a while there in 2012, I was steadily losing weight. Thus for people who only saw me every so often, like my gap year abroad friends, I was smaller each time we would get together. They would usually notice and make a comment about it. Some people do not like to be complimented on their weight loss, but I’m not one of them. I like when my hard work is noticed, and it validates that I’m actually accomplishing something tangible, a good reminder for harder days.

I got a little uncomfortable when I started gaining weight, and not just because my pants were too tight. Rather, I would see the same people, and it would be clear to all that I had definitely not lost weight since we’d last seen each other. One memorable time, I saw some friends and when we were greeting each other, one of them said how great I looked, almost in a habitual way. This was unfortunately at a point where I had regained about twenty pounds since the last time I saw them, and was rocking out at about 175. It was a little awkward because I said “Thanks,” but was thinking “No, I don’t, and we both know it."

Despite that, I’m still for weight loss compliments. Almost any accomplishment can be undone, so to speak - weight can be gained, jobs can be lost, medals can be rescinded, governments can fall - either by the person who accomplished it or outside forces. Maybe I'll gain back the weight, but I still enjoy someone noticing on the way down.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Finally Done: Staying Accountable During Holidays

Whew. The major 2014 Jewish holidays, which ate up every single one of my vacation days, and then some, are done. I’ve never been more excited to go back to work on Monday with the knowledge that I will have a five day week. I like routines; I like being in control of my own schedule. Sure, there will be Thanksgiving and then Chanukah/Hanukah/Hanukka in December, but it’s more spread out and/or less of an eating fest.

I mentioned last week that I didn’t eat too well over the first part of the holiday, and only half-assly tried to stop myself. Unfortunately, this weekend wasn’t much better. Once again, I made a few good choices - having an apple when all I wanted was the leftover lava cake (made by yours truly, since I’m such a genius), and plenty of bad ones - eating the leftover lava cake the next day, when it wasn’t even that good anymore. I also didn’t move enough, despite my noble intentions to take a couple of long walks. This morning the scale was at 183.4 - some of that is hopefully bloat, but I may have put on a pound or so.


So the holidays were not great in terms of food, but like last week, I am diving right back into old (good) habits. Today my Zumba friend was back, and we went to our fun and calorie burner class, and I ate well and tracked. I am challenged during holidays, but routine I can do.

However confident and happy I am to be sliding back into routine with the confidence that I will finally, finally, get into the 170s, I probably can’t just ignore how much I was not in control over the holiday. Weight issues, I know, go beyond just food. Most people carrying around an extra 50 pounds have more in their head than “Mmm, donuts,” that helped along their weight gain. My issues seem to rear their chubby little selves around most when I’m not holding myself accountable, or I’m not able to to hold myself accountable. These past few weeks have included a lot of days in the second category, when I wasn’t able to track my food intake or weigh myself.

My brain seems to decide that if I’m not able to track, well then, I’d better take advantage of it, by golly. Just like when I was a kid and came across some unsuspecting cookies sitting out on the counter, I would wonder if I could eat two, or three, before my mother realized some were missing. And when I was filling my plate during lunch on Thursday, I knew that whatever I ate wouldn’t see the electronic light of day because I wouldn’t be able to remember that either, when I was finally able to record all my food. And yes, last night, I tried to track, and couldn’t even remember whether I had breakfast on Thursday or just coffee.

Maybe it would have been easier to have no dessert than to decide what I want to have, how much to have of it, and then to estimate how many calories it is. So far, trying to pick and choose has not been a good strategy for me, as I spent so much time and energy trying to figure out what I should eat. Letting myself go was definitely not a good option, since I went overboard. Sweets have always been my main downfall, and aside from fried items, desserts are usually the easiest to overeat. A nice-sized steak can have as many calories as a slice pie, but I would be able to eat half the steak more easily than half a slice of pie.

I’m not really sure how to deal with this, but maybe if I really can get right back on the horse after the holiday is over, it doesn’t matter. If a day can be a day (or even three days be three days) and as long as I’m not going too overboard during those times, for now I can just let the time go, take the pound or so gain that results from it, and acknowledge that my weight loss will take a bit longer because of it. Long-term I do want to figure out these triggers, but for right now being in a routine most of the time is enough.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Weigh-In After Holidays & What All Those Jewish Holidays Are

Sunday was the end of another holiday period, this time at my parents’ house. It did not go well. There will be another holiday/the tail end of this holiday starting in two days.

To back up slightly, I guess it’s time to explain what all of these vague holidays are to which I’m constantly referring. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs, obviously. So I’m Jewish, and we have numerous holidays in general, but three that fall close together in the fall. We recently celebrated the Jewish New Year, followed ten days later by a day of repentance called Yom Kippur, in which we believe we are judged for our deeds, good and bad throughout the year. Despite the solemnity, it’s actually considered a happy holy day, one in which we get to “start over,” really reflect on our actions the past year, and think of what to do better in the future.

Currently, we are celebrating the holiday of Sukkot (Soo-kote), an eight-day festivity that culminates with a separate but related holiday in which we celebrate when God gave the Jews the Bible after having led them out of Egypt. Sukkot is two-fold: it is a celebration of the harvest, and also when we remember our ancestors wandering the desert for forty years and only living in temporary huts. Why were we wandering? The excellent joke answer is that the Jews wandered for so long because Moses wouldn’t stop and ask for some damn directions, but the religious answer is that the Jewish people had make a huge boo-boo right after they got the Bible and were being punished. The holiday is eight days, on which additional restrictions (no electricity, no work, no driving/trains/planes, no writing) are in place during the first two and last two days. 

We just had the first two days, now we’re in the middle where it’s business as usual with a few traditions thrown in, and starting on Wednesday night, we’ll celebrate the rest of holiday and have the restrictions again.

What do we do during this time? Pray, eat, sleep, play board games, take walks, take naps, have long discussions, read, learn, unplug from life. It’s actually a great deal, except when you’re me and trying so hard to stay healthy.

So that’s that. If you skipped the above, basically it’s like having Thanksgiving in your house - lots of food, family, and friends. But for two meals a day, for three days. And you can’t go to the gym, write down/track your food intake, or buy anything.

I just ended one of those periods, and it didn’t go how I’d hoped. I had been planning to leave work early on Wednesday, but it got unexpectedly stressful, I left later than I intended, and didn’t get to break for lunch (or at all). Then my train home got delayed, so I got out late, stressed, hungry, and a little hormonal. Not a good combination or start to the holiday. So I overindulged on Wednesday, ending the day annoyed at myself but trying to look ahead to the rest of the holiday. 

But I didn’t have a plan, couldn’t track, hadn’t had the chance to exercise on Wednesday - I don’t even know what happened, but I’m pretty sure I gained. There were some times when I picked and chose alright, like having bread at a meal, but no rice or potatoes, or just splitting a cookie with J. But mostly I got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food in front of me. My family is pretty healthy, and desserts were saved for weekends and special occasions. But this WAS the special occasion, and I went in knowing that there would be a huge amount of food available, all the time, with no thought as to how I might avoid partaking too much.

Over the Jewish New Year, which we celebrated with J’s family in Michigan, I spent so much time and energy worrying about food, and after all that I only managed to essentially maintain my weight. I didn’t want to repeat that this time, but rejecting that plan and not coming up with a new plan left me with zero plans. If I had had a plan, I might have eaten it.

There is, of course, a giant ‘but’ to all this. A lovely ‘but’ with a bright side and a silver lining. And that is, it was only a couple of days. Even if I do equally as crappy during the next (and final!) days of holy this week, it’s still only a few days. I won’t gain back twenty pounds over a week, even though I might gain one or two. Therefore, as long as I can immediately and completely forgive myself from any overindulging over these holidays, and get right back to tracking, exercising, and healthy eating, I’ll be fine.

Yesterday I went to my Zumba class, tracked my food, and today was equally successful. And I’ll do my best over the holiday (come up with a new plan?) - but no matter what, next Sunday I will get back into the groove again, accept whatever gain, maintain, or lose I get, and keep working. I will get to the 170s.

As of yesterday, I am at 182.5 - up, but not as badly as I thought it would be.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In: Charts

You know how they say time passes more quickly as you get older? I’m only in my mid-twenties and I’m feeling it. I don’t even hate Mondays anymore, because I know the weekend will come (and then be over again) in what will feel like only a couple of moments. What is happening??

Existential crisis aside, this week was okay, but unfortunately included a few extra treats at home that I didn’t plan on. I’m still avoiding all the office treats, but that doesn’t mean as much if I turn down the fresh-baked cookies at work only to purchase one on my way home… Most of the blame for the bad choices is squarely on me, but I’m blaming a bit on PMS and thinking about food too much over the last holiday. Tracked it, trying to move up and on, but still analyzing, as is my personality.

When I got back from Michigan, I felt that too much time and energy had been spent on food - what to eat, how much to eat, how much I’d eaten - despite a good weigh-in. So when I got back, I was sick of making food decisions. Bottom line, I need to think of a better strategy for the next holiday, which will be starting this Wednesday night. Zero new ideas so far, besides “eat everything.” I’d like to eat more intuitively, but don’t know how. I’m open to suggestions.

On official weigh-in day, I weighed the same as the day before:

Pounds Fat82.774.572.57372.170.3
Pounds Muscle 67.368.266.867.264.465.2

I was moping around about not being in the 170s yet, when J looked at my charts and pointed out that I have lost twelve pounds of fat. If I’m off about how many calories I burn every day, or if that number has decreased in the last ten pounds lost, then that actually makes sense. Twelve pounds seems like more than ten. Maybe my goal should be to have less than 70 pounds of fat on me instead of weighing in the 170s.

J also made a chart, because he likes making charts and he's helpful like that.

The orange dots show fat loss over time, and the grey dots represent calorie deficits, assuming a lower metabolic rate of 1800. As you can see, they match up pretty well, implying that my whining isn't warranted since I am, in fact, losing fat at a reasonable rate for what I'm eating.

No matter what though, I’m definitely getting too focused on the scale. Weighing in every day only helps if I can take the number in its context, and right now I’m not doing that. So for the foreseeable future, I will only weigh myself on weigh-in day once a week.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I Didn't Reach My Goal; Thoughts on Normal Weight People

Weight loss and eating well were on my mind a lot over the holiday in Michigan, and I couldn’t tell if I was over-thinking everything or not. Staying mindful when there is so much food around all the time while balancing occasional indulgences feels like it requires continuous effort, but it can go too far and become the focus of the day.

This morning I weighed in at 181 even, which is just half a pound off from last week. I’ll wait until tomorrow to have an official weigh-in. However, whether or not I focused too much on what to eat, I think the overall results are good. Maybe it’s possible that I really balanced the days, picking and choosing what I really wanted with what I just wanted because it was in front of me. That’s good, since there are two more of these no-gym-no-tracking-food four-day periods.

I also got to see real balance in action. My sister-in-law, who is slim and has a completely normal relationship with food, didn’t eat dinner one night. We had ended a big lunch really late in the afternoon, and she wasn’t hungry. She sat at the table chatting contently with us, and simply didn’t have dinner. I doubt she’s given it another moment’s thought since.

I would love to have that mindset, to be able to listen to my body over what’s being offered or when the next meal is “due.” Luckily, she’s going to be staying with us again next week, for the last holiday period. I really like seeing her in general, but now I think there might be an added bonus: being reminded of how a person with a healthy relationship with food deals with indulgent holidays. Not that skipping meals is (or should be) a frequent part of a balancing act, but more the idea of eating when hungry - no more, no less. Sure, J handles indulgent holidays well, but he also needs about 400 calories more a day than I do to maintain, so he’s not the best person to emulate.

Why he's no longer welcome at the rare books store.

However, I’m getting more and more frustrated that, inexplicably, I still haven’t hit the 170s. Who knows what tomorrow will “officially” bring, but either way, I didn’t hit the 170s in September, a goal I thought was too easy when I set it at the end of August. Despite my success, despite knowing I’m making progress, I’m still letting that stupid number get to me. Maybe I should put the scale away again for awhile.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In: Ten Pounds Down

I kind of want to make a list all of the things I didn’t eat this week - the apple cider donuts brought in by a coworker, the candy in the office bowl, the muffins, bagels, and croissants from today’s “welcome to the firm” breakfast for a new lawyer, even more meeting food, the office candy - because I’m proud. It was in part due to my low/no sugar goal, and partially because I’m feeling motivated. My new rule made it much easier to say no because it took the choice out of the matter. Somehow I forgot about habits and default settings, those automatic answers we have to offers of food and only-available-for-the-next-twenty-minutes cat scratchers.

Last week’s weigh in below.

Pounds Fat82.774.570.472.571.87371.772.1
Pounds Muscle 67.368.266.466.867.367.267.564.4

I’m happy to be down, especially since that makes an official ten pound lost, and twenty from my highest weight! However, still annoyed because I “should” really be into the 170s by now. I’ve tracked every day, and I’ve added up all those calorie deficits. But the 170’s continue to act as a bitchy PR girl at at opening, refusing to let me in. At the end of August, when I said my new goal was get into the 170’s in September, I thought I would knock that out within a week and work on the next goal. But nope. By my estimates, if my BMR is 1850, I should be down 14 pounds, to 177. But after I whine, I keep going, because nobody said weight loss is supposed to be linear.

Still hitting up the gym 4-5 times a week. I've skipped Zumba the past couple of weeks since my buddy is out of town, but we've still had a regular Sunday workout. I am definitely stronger than I used to be - yesterday I did 15 repetitions at 45 pounds of the overhead press. Two months ago, I could barely push out ten repetitions at 25 pounds! The tops of my arms are definitely firmer.

Looking ahead, there will be a couple of challenging occasions. Tomorrow we’re off to Michigan to visit my in-laws. It’s the Jewish New Year, which means that we celebrate and eat a lot. J’s two siblings will also be there, which is wonderful. It also means no MyFitnessPal tracking, no weighing food, and no gym.

I’m going to focus on the next decade - the elusive, bitchy 170s nightclub - that I’ve been trying to get into for what feels like forever. This holiday can get me further to my goals, or take me further from them. My current plan is to choose one unhealthy thing at each meal - at the main part and dessert - that looks especially wonderful, enjoy it, and choose healthy options for the rest of the time. I’ll limit snacks to fruit. Since I don’t snack now, I’ll know that if I’m feeling snacky in Michigan, it’s probably something other than hunger. And I’ll remember that as amazing as food is in general, nothing I am offered, no matter how delicious, will be the last time I am able to eat that item.