Monday, September 1, 2014

When Motivation Fades

I'm glad August is over. Some happy-but-food-challenging events happened this week, like the birthday of a good friend who has been away for the summer, whose celebration involved three giant pizzas for ten people. Then there were some stressful things, like someone close to me going through some crappy stuff, and storing 20 boxes of our friend’s random crap in our tiny apartment. Apologies for the vague-blogging, I’m mostly just trying to get across that this week was hard, and I let worrying about food and calories fall to the bottom of the list. I was trying to track, went to the gym a few times, but couldn’t get myself to feel motivated.

I did end up tracking everything as best I could, and it seems I came out about even, and maybe even a thousand calories or so under. So maybe I’m actually getting better at this, at least a little? That a crappy week which followed an indulgent weekend, where I’m trying to track but all I really want is a vanilla twist on a cone with rainbow sprinkles, doesn’t have to set me back totally? (Chocolate sprinkles are for people who hate joy.) Perhaps I’m getting better at having a crappy week?

Right now, even for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to push through, trying to keep going, waiting and hoping for some of that motivation to come back better. You know the cliches about how “The days when it’s most important to exercise are usually the days you most need it” or "if you wait for your perfect conditions to start, you never will"? They feel true. It’s not about what I did in June and July, when I had a whole “eight week reboot”, all energetic, tracking, motivated, feeling excited for the start of something.

But I joined in February!

Rather, it’s what I do now, when the newness (of another restart) has faded, when the weight loss slows, when life happens - that’s what matters. When I lost those fifty pounds, I certainly wasn’t feeling all go-getter and motivated during the entire process, because that’s impossible. But I still tried and still did it, even when I wanted to do anything else but. I kept trying, and all those little days added up (or rather, down) to a weight loss of fifty pounds.

Yesterday, I was trying to get right back into it.  I went to Zumba with my new workout friend and we walked to and from the gym. I still dance like a drunken zebra and can’t figure out how some of these people manage to move their feet, hips, and arms in different but synchronized ways, but it’s fun and burns 500 calories a class. It was a good day; we did some apartment organization and I made us gnocchi with marinara, and roasted asparagus, for dinner.

Today, we went to my parent’s house to celebrate Labor Day and my grandmother’s birthday. I made a chocolate cake for the occasion. I managed to have a good lunch and not eat 2/5 of the frosting. I wouldn’t call my food at dinner a success, but it wasn’t a total fail either. I’m still plugging along, trying to at least eat mindfully and decide if something is worth it.

Moving on - Despite the fact that the last couple of weeks weren’t too bad, I did not make my goal of getting into the 170’s by September. That kind of sucks, since it was well within my reach and I just want to get out of the 180s already. Thus I have an obvious goal for September. Begone 180s, and your little dog too! Beyond that, 175 is my next small goal, mostly because it’s a round number and solidly in the 170s.

This month is going to be hard. There are some Jewish holidays, one of which will involve a long weekend in Michigan, away from habits and routines. Work is going to start getting busy again, as all the attorneys come back from their summer vacations and realize how much shit they need to get done. But I’m going to remember that cliche that is so right, that my weight loss will not be accomplished on those few days when everything is right and I feel great, but rather on the normal, mundane days, where I try to eat right, to shape my habits and reshape my relationship with food.

Minor motivation: I got to see a friend of mine who just had a baby and meet her teeny, beautiful, week-old son. We took a photo together and I looked more like I had given birth a week ago than she did. I still forget that I weigh 180-185 pounds, despite seeing it on the scale.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weigh-In: Pretentious Appetizers and Mojitos

There were several cocktails, a couple of shots, roasted potatoes, some kind of grilled flat bread with arugula and goat cheese, “creamy avocado dip with homemade tortilla chips” (fancy chips and guacamole), and, of course, Cheetos.

It was a really fun night out with my coworkers, celebrating the departure of one of the attorneys. Last Thursday evening started at the happy hour with a mojito and ended at 3 am at a karaoke bar with Cheetos and several outstanding renditions of classic 2000s pop songs.

However, it was also my highest daily calorie intake in a long time. When I finally calculated up everything on Friday, my estimated total was about 3,000 calories. So, yikes. Amazing how quickly a few cocktails and appetizers could add up to such a massive amount of calories. I knew I was saying screw it and enjoying the food and drinks, but I didn’t realize how much until after. And even after that, I enjoyed a delicious burrito the size of my head for lunch on Friday, a totally unnecessary consumption.

I’m not going to be angry at myself, especially since I picked myself back up on Saturday, but I’ve been thinking about what happened, why I let myself get so out of hand. Maybe it was just the rare calorie wild evening, which could fit into an overall healthy lifestyle. My coworkers imbibed as much as I did, and none of them have weight issues, so clearly they know how to balance food- and drink-filled nights with regular daily life. Or maybe I really needed an evening of just eating whatever I wanted. However, I will try to remember that those every-once-in-a-while nights only work if they truly are every once in a while.

Here is this week’s weigh in:

Measurements June 8thAugust 4thAugust 12thAugust 19thAugust 26th
Pounds Fat82.774.570.472.571.8
Pounds Muscle 67.368.266.466.867.3

So basically, score! Another pound down, and now officially ten lost total. Last week, when the scale didn’t seem to reflect the successes from the week, I(so graciously) decided to forgive it. This week, I scraped up a ½ pound deficit even with the 3,000 calorie day. This is good. I can do this.

I may yet squeak out my goal of getting to the 170s by Labor Day, but probably only if I dehydrate myself a bit.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekly Weigh In and Zumba

This was a pretty good week, though there’s a lot going on - J is starting school again soon, we’re going to have a guest staying with us for a week, we’re trying to reorganize our apartment so it’s more functional, and I’m starting a job search. I love my work, especially my boss and co-workers, but my position is an entry-level one in which people usually move on after a couple of years, and I think I’m ready for a new challenge. While I'm still tracking and working out, I'm slipping on the packing lunches and not eating office candy front. I'm eating more from the candy bowl again and then being annoyed when I can't "afford" a treat in the evenings.

Food-wise, I am slipping on the Friday front. Just something about getting home for the weekend makes me feel like I deserve a little treat. However, in the past, those Fridays would have been an actual free-for-all whose calorie intakes would have put me squarely in the “gain” box for the day. Now, while I definitely ate too much this Friday to have a calorie deficit for that day, I didn't affect the rest of the week. However weird it sounds, this is actually something I’m proud of. Ramble over.

This week’s weigh in:

Measurements June 8thAugust 4thAugust 12thAugust 20th
Pounds Fat82.774.570.472.5
Pounds Muscle 67.368.266.466.8

The good thing about tracking calories is that I can judge the number on the scale and decide if it makes sense, based on how many calories I know I've eaten over the week. A nice change of pace for that judgey electronic bitch. So while I was disappointed to see I'd lost half a pound this week, I know I had a calorie deficit of over a pound. I'm still hoping to make my Labor Day goal to be in the 170's, but we'll see.

We can have a cordial relationship because I know you're mistaken, and that's ok.

In fitness “news,” I took my first Zumba class this week. I've been wanting to try this class ever since I heard of a workout that claimed to combine club dancing with cardio, but just never got the courage to go alone. So when I ran into an acquaintance who happens to belong to my same gym, I asked her if she might like to try out Zumba. I can’t believe I hadn't taken advantage of the classes that are included in my membership until now.

The class was awesome. I’ve heard the the instructor can make or break Zumba, and Vicky was fantastic. She was enthusiastic, encouraging, and mixed up the moves. I had fun, even though I definitely made many missteps. However, they got fewer as the class went on and I learned the instructor’s various hand movements. The other members were friendly, and I never felt like anyone was judging anyone else.

And with the fun, hot damn that’s a workout. In the 55-minute class, I burned 550 calories - basically as much as jogging but was having too much fun to even notice. This class was a good way to break up the regular workout week, and I could even see it helping me with my coordination, which is similar to that of a drunk goat. We plan to go again this weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekly Weigh In & Thoughts on Goal Weight Bodies

I’m getting a little better at being patient about getting to my goal weight. One things that helps is not overly focusing on it. Measuring, weighing, and tracking food, and exercising take up time and effort, but I can let them become a part of normal life, as routine as brushing my teeth. My day can be measured by the positive feedback I got at work as much as or more than the calorie deficit.

Still sticking to my food plan and tracking everything, even during the time out with friends. However, one frustrating part of this last week involved ice cream. Basically I learned that I’m still not ready to keep certain junk foods in the house. Last week, we bought some Edy’s slow churned after a really strenuous afternoon at the gym. I enjoyed some, netted about 1100 calories for the day, and all was well. But then later in the week, I found myself spooning some out without measuring, and ate it, not really caring that it would negate the day’s calorie deficit. 

Not such a horrible situation, obviously, but I realized after the fact that if the ice cream hadn’t been in the apartment, I wouldn’t have even been thinking about having it or cared when I didn’t. So at least for now, I’m not going to keep it in the apartment. There are four different ice cream or froyo places within half a mile of our apartment, thus plenty of options for when we want it.

This week’s weigh-in:

Measurements 6/8/20148/4/20148/12/2014
Pounds Fat82.774.570.4
Pounds Muscle 67.368.266.4

I’m going to assume that the net pound loss is real, but the fat and muscle are likely flukes - I did not lose over four pounds of fat in one week, as awesome as that would be. According to my own tracking of daily calorie deficits, I “should” have lost ten pounds. The actual weight loss, according to the scale/chart, is a little over eight pounds and maybe nine or ten pounds of fat. That’s pretty close, which makes me think that my data might be accurate. I'll see how it does in the long term.

When I’m doing well with weight loss, I think about getting to goal - what I’ll look like, what I might wear, how I’ll feel, how I’ll keep it off. I remind myself that losing all the weight is not going to solve all my problems or magically make me happy always & forever, but on the outside I will probably look very different.

It occurred to me yesterday that nobody in the world, including myself, has ever seen what I’m genetically supposed to look like. The last time I was at a healthy age was when I was six. I’ve known a few people who have lost 50-100 pounds, and their transformations were astounding  - the extra weight that had always changed their faces and bodies was gone. This isn’t about a person being more or less attractive at different weights, but just how dramatic the changes can be.

I know what I do look like, of course, but my face is a little too round and that garbles my bone structure, and my body hints at but doesn’t actually exemplify my genes. Might I actually posses the great legs that run in my family? How deep are the dimples that I haven’t seen at all in over a year? A third thing to round it off?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Results of My Eight Week Reboot - Weigh In

My self-imposed eight week challenge is over. And I’m really, really glad I did it. I was stuck in a serious rut for a while - working out, eating right “most” of the time, and getting more and more pissed off that the scale wasn’t moving. I wasted a lot of mental energy being annoyed before realizing that I was eating more calories overall than I realized, despite tracking and doing okay from day to day.

Equal parts chocolate and asparagus.

I set my caloric goals to lose 1.5 lb/week which gave me 1000-1100 calories per day plus whatever I burned off in the gym. My actual daily calories came out to 1350. It’s higher than I wanted, but still translates to a pound a week, so I expected to lose at least eight pounds over these two months.

On June 9, I weighed 191.2. At the time, I thought some of that was bloat since it was a couple of pounds higher than the usual range. But, no matter. Yesterday, I weighed in at 184 even. Or to put it in chart form with fat and muscle numbers:

Measurements 6/8/20148/4/2014
Pounds Fat82.774.5
Pounds Muscle 67.368.2

I definitely haven’t seen numbers close to that this entire year, so I’m happy to have some concrete progress. A little over seven total pounds in eight weeks, and eight pounds of fat gone from that. The scale isn’t infallible, I know. I weighed 185 in my kitchen and 184 in my bathroom, but it’s the best I can do. Time will tell where and how I’m really doing, but at this weight, where five or ten pounds lost doesn’t show, I want to know I’m making progress. And I've NEVER seen less than 40% body fat on the scale before.

Though my last official weigh-in was in the beginning of June, I’ve definitely sneaked a few peaks on the scale. It was hard not to look when I wanted so badly to see some validation of my efforts. Now I realize that I need to either get rid of the scale and bring it out once a month just to track long-term progress, or weigh myself regularly and learn to accept normal fluctuations. Standing on the scale while my husband wrote down the numbers did not work out, but it was an idea worth trying.

Good Changes and Improvements:
  • Tracking my food and exercise honestly every single day for the last eight weeks
  • Saying “no” more often to treats I didn’t need and didn’t even want - office cake, alcohol at cocktail hour, candy, french fries, second and third helpings
  • Eating more consciously, even with junk food
  • Going to the gym and pushing myself on the weight machines and the elliptical 4-5 times a week

Things I Should Work On:
  • Bringing lunch to work - I would do this for two weeks, and then get lazy for another. Rinse and repeat
  • Not weighing myself or at least not letting the number on the scale dictate my feelings
  • Patience
  • Ending sentences with prepositions
For now, I’m going to keep going the way I’ve been doing, but just try to push a little bit harder to lower my average calories. Those extra hundred or so came from two or three higher calories days, but mostly from little but completely unnecessary extra treats that added up to the difference between a pound loss a week and a pound and a half.

In other fun news, there's now a headless "before" shot of me on the About Me page.

My next mini goal is to be in the 170s by Labor Day, which give me about a month. For now, I’ll weigh in and report each week but there may be a bra/scale freedom burning in the future.

This is exactly how cool I am.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Eat the Damn Donut

There are plenty of food-based activities at my company. We use it to welcome people, to say goodbye, to celebrate Friday, to mourn Monday, to discuss important celebrity issues over lunch, or just because. Employees occasionally leave treats in the kitchen for people to share, and the firm sporadically buys bagels and lox for all. These events are a good way to bond and get to know people outside of the office setting in which I usually see them. However, inevitably, there is always, always, at least one comment like these when it comes to the actual eating:

While taking a bagel: Haha, I should not be eating these, but they look so good!
While enjoying some fries: This is why I have salad for lunch!
Eating a cookie: I think this is okay, I had such a great workout this morning, right?
On taking a second cookie: Ugh, why am I doing this! This is like my second cookie, someone take them away! I’m getting fat!
On appearing dazed and with blood on their clothing: So I was just… at the library.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my co-workers and I’m lucky to work with such great people. This is a larger criticism of our reflexive belief that we need to either justify or condemn ourselves for any bit of unhealthy food. This isn’t limited to my co-workers, but to everyone who thinks they need to explain the donut in their hand. I’ve heard customers justify their coffee or pastry orders to Starbucks cashiers, who truly do not give a shit. Skinny, slim, average, and overweight alike, most of us have done it.

I used to be much more sensitive about what I was eating in public. Perhaps struggling with my weight made it worse. Getting some French fries? I hoped they didn’t think I was just another fatty gorging on fries. Ordering a salad with grilled chicken, dressing on the side? I hoped they didn’t think I was just another fatty on a diet that would never work. Check a fake text at Potbelly’s when buying a sandwich AND a cookie to make sure that I’m getting the correct type of cookie for my “friend”? Been there.

Then I finally realized that if someone is judging me for what I'm eating, then quite simply, they are the ones with the problem. And if I am judging someone for what they're eating, then I have a problem. Unless they stole my lunch from the fridge, the food choices made by a fellow adult are none of my damn business. So when people laugh about how they can’t believe how many pieces they’ve eaten of the fancy French chocolate that someone bought while in Europe, and how they need to stop, I just shut up. Even if they probably shouldn’t be eating that third donut, it’s between them and the donut.

I think part of why we assume others are judging our food choices - hence the need to justify or condemn them - is because we’re doing it to ourselves first. It ties into the larger problem that so many of us have, which is feeling guilty about our food choices. I’ve ranted about this before, about how feeling guilty over something I ate is just an utter waste of time, serves no purpose, and is often used as an excuse for inaction or to continue eating. It’s not going to change anything and I didn’t actually hurt anybody, so I need to move on and forgive myself for my mistakes.


That’s part of why I started a blog. How many people want to hear my debates over 1300 net calories vs. 1100 net calories, or about how I’m deciding whether or not to count vegetables in my daily totals? I write here so that anybody who is interested can read, and anybody who’s not isn’t forced to listen to me describe the controlled experiments I conduct on my heart rate monitor. Similarly, nobody wants to hear about why their co-worker is or is not eating something.

We feel like we need to justify all these things, forgetting that nobody cares that much, and it’s none of their business anyway.

Leah's Proposed Alternative Eating Commentary:

- "This is/that looks delicious.”
- "In my studies on the planet Thorcrondeux 92, I learned that humans get energy by putting particular substances into their unattractive face gaps and I feel that I am fitting right in. Shall we talk about the lack of water falling from the sky, or the current temperature?"