Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 5 Done, and Week 6 Plan: The Gods of Smug

This was a great weekend. We did ALL the laundry, and I mean that quite literally. I realized, after someone told me, that there are actually three steps to dishes and laundry: Wash, dry, put away, dammit.  If the clean laundry lives in a hamper for a week or two, and it only moved when I rummage through it to find specific things, and then eventually gets washed again because we can’t remember if it was clean or dirty, then it was not done. So I’m disproportionately proud to say that the laundry is DONE. This has nothing to do with weight loss, I'm just that proud.

Food-wise, this past week (week 5) averaged out to good, though not as good as it could have been. The weekdays were great and I ate and felt good and went to the gym. But I let myself go a little too much on the weekend. Ironically, the main culprit was cookie dough that I ate in my apartment. I who, of course, just wrote about how locations can make it easier or harder to resist junk food I don’t need, and how I was eating too much cookie dough at a friend’s house and thinking how I probably wouldn’t be eating like this in my own house. 

The gods of smug or philosophy or something reminded me that the food itself matters too, and there I was, Friday afternoon, baking delicious chocolate fudge zebra cookies for a potluck, and snacking on the dough. Some of that I’ll happily blame on PMS and the aforementioned gods, the rest is all me. Between that, the potluck, and cheerios eaten with granola and milk, Friday and Saturday were maintenance-type days instead of loss ones. The good news is that I tracked it all and my average daily caloric intake for the week (Sunday to Saturday) was 1450 - still a damn good number.

Last week, we left my in-law's and arrived in New York late Sunday night and I didn’t even bother trying to put together a meal plan for that week. It was harder and I got lazy. I can make dinner for J and myself no problem, but I’m unmotivated to plan, prepare, or make work lunches. So I end up buying lunch, either a giant salad, soup and half sandwich, or a slice of pizza. It fits into the meal plan, but it’s expensive and repetitive.

$3.50 for a yogurt?

This week I was ready to actually make lunch and save some money, so yesterday I made a bunch of stuffed peppers with turkey, kidney beans, and rice. Easy and a one-dish meal. There are so many other things I want to make over the coming weeks, especially with how cheap some things are in the summer. I’m also planning pesto with sole, frittatas, and maybe see how far I can get before ruining a souffle.

Here’s the tentative Week Six menu, though Sunday is already gone.

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesday ThursdayFridaySaturday
Breakfast CoffeeCoffee, yogurtCoffee, yogurtCoffee, oatmealCoffee, oatmealCoffee, yogurtCoffee
LunchPizza on easy homemade crustStuffed peppers: turkey & rice Veggie burgerStuffed peppers: turkey & rice Stuffed peppers: turkey & rice Stuffed peppers: turkey & rice TBD
DinnerLoaded baked potatoBurrito or taco saladTBDPizza, broccoliTBDChicken, potatoes, Brussels sprouts
SnacksCereal, cherries, turkeyCherriesStrawberries, cheeseStrawberries, cheese

Dinners are mostly left blank because I usually make whatever I'm in the mood for. Rest assured, I eat healthy and blog-worthy dinners such as hot dogs and baked potatoes. I’m aiming to cook vegetables more often.

Just a couple more weeks until I can officially look at the numbers. I’m hoping to be out of the 180s when August 5th arrives, but we’ll see. Generally, my first big along-the-way-goal is 170 - that’s when my face looked "normal," and many of my now too-tight clothing items are from that weight. One-seventy is also only about thirty or forty pounds above my goal weight, which somehow manages to feel infinitely closer than the current (at last look) fifty or sixty I have left to go.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Office Cake vs. Home Cake

Alright, moving on. Fine, those were a couple of harder weeks. While I did much better than I would have normally, I still didn’t do as well as I wanted. This has been a new week, a normal week, and I’ve dived right back into our gym/food tracking routine. Maybe some habits are getting more ingrained. We’re now in week five, steadily plugging along.

But I did realize some interesting things as I was shoving cookie dough in my mouth this past Saturday night. There is another dimension, so to speak, about the default settings I’m trying so hard to change - where I am.

Part of the reason this past week or two was a bit more challenging in terms of food is that we spent over half of it out of the house - first at my parent’s place, then at my MIL’s in Michigan. All of the not-as-great days happened there. It goes without saying that whatever I ate was my choice and I cannot blame anyone else for the occasions I ate too much.

I’m still working on leaning towards saying no when food is offered. In terms of work treats, I’ve made great progress - no bagels at the office breakfast, no cake at the farewell parties (except for that chocolate cake), none of the treats that co-workers randomly bring in. And it really is true that nobody cares whether or not I eat it or why, so I’ve stopped feeling self-conscious.

Oh no, it's fine. Come on in!

As I was eating that cookie dough and vaguely thinking how perhaps I should stop, I realize I probably wouldn't be doing this at home. It’s the setting as much as the actual treat that influences how good I am at turning it down (or, alternatively, deciding that the treat is worth it and enjoying some).

I’ve been able to make progress with ignoring office treats partially because the office is part of my normal routine. Even if the treat itself is special or new, the fact that I’m in the office setting makes it fairly easy to turn it down because I’m used to turning down things in the office, used to passing by the kitchen without peeking at whatever delectable has been placed out. However, that same habit doesn’t really work in new settings, places out of my routine. Turning down cake at work? No problem, I don’t even like cake that much. Turning down cake sitting on the counter at my parent’s house? Gimme.

Somehow I’m still fighting that childhood mentality, which said that parties and basically anywhere that wasn’t my house necessitated some kind of FOMO free-for-all. Treats were a rare commodity in my house, saved for once a week. No cookie jars or ice cream in the freezer. Being a little girl with a lot of issues, I sought the food that thought I was being deprived of elsewhere, anywhere. 

While I’m really proud that I’ve still eaten at “weight loss” levels for almost every day, it’s still a little frustrating that I let a new setting get the best of me. But now I know that new places, even with the same foods, can make it just a little bit harder.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Week 4: Almost Halfway

Week three, which ended last Sunday, was the definition of “good, but not great.” I ate at my calorie deficit, just not the 1.5 lb/week one I was aiming. I exercised, but not as much as I’d like. It was a reasonably successful week but not as good as it should have been.

This week has been harder, the first “hard” week since I restarted. I am glad it’s almost over and look forward to getting back to normal, boring life on Monday. I can get food-challenged when (pretty normal) life stressors happen.With the exception of Wednesday, it hasn’t been that bad a week with food, it was more challenging and with lower than goal calorie deficits.

This week, J spent most of his time helping his dad with moving-type projects and we’re still not done. Altogether we spent a lot of time out of the house on various errands, and then stayed a few extra nights at my parent’s house because of all there was to do. While I could have packed lunches and cooked from there, I just… didn’t.

As for Wednesday, I ate some of the chocolate mousse cake at a farewell office party, plus a bit of picking at the leftovers that were in the kitchen. It was delicious, but not worth it. I also ended up eating Chinese food for dinner. Not close to a binge, but too much nonetheless and possibly into gain territory for the day. The cake did not lead to the chicken moo-shu in a guilty, who-cares-I-already-messed-up kind of way; it was more I’m-really-stressed-out eating with a side of sticky rice.

While I was eating, I was also thinking how I was most definitely using the food to comfort myself from the week and working so hard to stay positive because J was quite stressed. Yet my reaction to these thoughts was along the lines of “It’s working. I kind of feel better.” Maybe as long as this is a very rare occurrence and I really do follow my eating plan the rest of the time, it’s okay.

I know the most important thing is to not allow an imperfect day to make a crappy week. I’m almost halfway through this eight-week crunch time, four weeks from actually knowing my weight and if I lost body fat. It’s good to remember that even if I’m can’t always control where I am or what food is put in front of me, I do control whether I eat it. It’s obviously easier to eat food that someone put in front of me, and harder to resist, it’s still my choice. So far I’ve been really proud of my progress, I’m not going to stop now.

Last night we flew to Michigan to visit J’s mother and her husband. His mom had told us that they recently adopted a second cat, but I didn’t realize until we arrived that it’s a tiny, pure black, mewing little kitten, who currently spends most of her time on my father-in-law’s shoulder.

She fits inside a shoe.

Adorable kittens aside, J’s mom is throwing an Independence Day party today and I’m about to go help her set up. She invited a ton of people and bought 3 tons of food, but (at least right now) I’m feeling confident that I can be in control and not let “it’s just sitting there” wear me down.

Happy July 4th to all! It's July 4th everywhere.

Friday, June 27, 2014

I'll Do It When I'm Skinny

Our firm’s annual summer outing was on Monday. They hold it in the same place every year: a nice Country Club upstate. Most employees bring their families and there’s a golf game, tennis tournament, swimming, and lots of food. As I mentioned on Sunday, it’s a pretty low-key day and if you’re not good at golf or tennis, the main thing to do is hang out by the pool.

Last year, we went swimming and I wore a bathing suit that I had just purchased the day before.  And shorts. Someday I will be comfortable enough to walk around in completely bare legs, but definitely not right now. The reason for the last minute purchase was that I hadn't gone swimming in several years and didn't have any bathing suits. Not even ones that were too small. Just none.

J wanted to go swimming again this year, since it’s the main activity available. I didn't want to, but the only reason against it I could come up with was “I’m uncomfortable walking around in a bathing suit.” He pointed out, correctly, that this was a lame reason, especially since I had walked around in my runway-ready bathing suit and shorts ensemble last year at only ten pounds lighter.

So we went. We swam. I got a weird sunburn on a corner of my shoulder where I missed a spot with the sunscreen. We had a great time hanging out with my coworkers, and I even did pretty okay on the eating front. I’m glad I didn't let my weight stop me from doing something I ultimately enjoyed.

There have been other occasions when I didn't do something because I was too self-conscious about my weight. It's one of the silly reasons I didn't work out or wear bright summer patterns for a long time. Or try skydiving, or para-sailing when I had the opportunity. But screw that. Fine, I’m fat. But I’m wearing a one-piece and shorts. Nobody would really notice or care about my weight unless I was walking around in a string bikini or fishing for compliments about how hot I am.

This issue has manifested itself in other ways, like when I realized that I constantly wear my hair up in a random ponytail or bun to work because I can't bother to wash it and style it a little, or don't try enough to shop for clothes that look nice and are flattering on my size 14-16 body.

I can’t allow my weight to stop me when I know that being self-conscious of it is the only reason I’m not doing something. So when it’s relevant, I ask myself, would I be doing this if I was thinner, comfortable with my body? If the answer is yes, then the next step is to do it. So I go swimming.

I'm getting better at allowing myself to put best self forward, or at least my "I give a shit" self forward, even on non-special occasion days, to make an effort, to go swimming, and not let the silly little voice that tells me not to bother because I can't be at my best self at this weight, so what's the point? That little voice is stupid, and I'm not listening.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Week Three: I Peeked, But Didn't Peak

Week two is over. I confess that I stepped on the scale on Friday morning, and was delighted to see 185.7. Since I weighed in at 191 just before starting this “reboot,” I’ve lost about five pounds in two weeks, right in the healthy weight range for the beginning of a diet.

Even though I am happy to know I’ve made progress, I’m a little disappointed because I messed up the whole point of not knowing my weight: to avoid focusing on it. Right now I’m re-losing weight that I already lost - twice - and then gained back - twice, three times if you count the initial gaining. No need to be reminded of or focus on that. 

No more weigh-ins. When I get tempted to dig out the scale, I’ll remind myself how great it will be to see a (hopefully) double-digit loss for these eight weeks, and that eating well and working out are just as important, if not more, than how much the scale has moved.

As my sneak peek indicated, this was a good week. Work was very slow, as is typical for summers. I will never, ever complain about not having much to do at work. I kept tracking, and we worked out four times plus a really long walk around Central Park in the lovely breeze.

Another good part of the week was that I’m learning that a day without a treat is not the end of the world, and that even if I can have something, doesn’t mean I need to do so. Shocking, right? Last night, I was debating whether to have a flatbread pizza or a loaded baked potato with the 400 calories left for the day. I realized that I could make a small dinner, somewhere around 250-300 calories and have room for a couple of pieces of chocolate. 

Just as quickly I asked myself, What are you doing? Two hundred and fifty calories is a snack or breakfast, not a dinner. I used all the calories for dinner, skipped the dessert, and the world kept turning and I didn’t go insane from lack of dessert and eat the candy aisle at the nearest drug store. So I will try to keep in mind the lesson here: Notwithstanding the occasional ice cream for dinner, a treat is something extra to have after a meal, not instead of it.

Looking ahead, tomorrow is our company’s annual summer outing, which basically translates to a relaxing day at a country club, where people bring their families and there’s an open bar by the pool. I’m trying to get the courage to go swimming, since it’s really fun with J and there’s not that much else to do besides sit by the pool and drink. I really don't want to let my own insecurity stop me from enjoying a pool on a hot day.

On Tuesday, we’re attending a goodbye dinner for J’s dad, who is moving across the country. It sucks that he won’t live so close anymore, but I guess now we have an excuse to go to California. Silver linings. And in one week, we’ll celebrate my amazing grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Below is this week’s meal plan. Once again, strawberries feature prominently in the snacks. At 50 calories a cup and now $2 a pound, they will probably be a summer staple.

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesday ThursdayFridaySaturday
Exercise GymPool - laps GymOffGymGymWalk
Breakfast CoffeeCoffee, oatmealCoffee, yogurtCoffee, yogurtCoffee, oatmealCoffee, oatmealCoffee, yogurt
LunchOatmeal pancakes, strawberriesFirm outingLemon chicken over salad, baked potatoLemon chicken over salad, baked potatoVeggie burger, cheese, on English muffinVeggie burger, cheese, on English muffinTBD
DinnerFrittata Firm outingOut with familyLoaded baked potato, broccoliFlatbread pizzaChicken, broccoli, bread
SnacksCheese, FroYo, fruit FruitHard boiled egg, fruit Cheese, fruit TBDTBD

Today was the first day of week three, and it was a good one. Sunday is our day to have a longer gym session, and I felt like I’m continuously better at pushing myself. A while back, I wrote about how I couldn't do even one rep on one of the strength training machines they have, the overhead press machine, even on the lightest setting. (Ignore the stupid URL title.) I tried it again today and did ten reps at 25 pounds! I'm definitely getting stronger. 

After I burned an excellent 750 calories, J and I stopped for some frozen yogurt and it was delicious, especially knowing that I knew I could enjoy it, go home and have a nice dinner, and still have a great "loss" day.

I'm feeling good about this week, and the next six (thousand) weeks.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reboot Week Two: I Don't Like Cupcakes

Week one is done! 

I averaged about a thousand net calories per day and felt confident. I packed lunch and a snack or two every day, we went to the gym four mornings and one afternoon, and I felt good and - most importantly - patient. Since I'm trying not to focus on the scale for a bit but still want to record my progress, I weighed in a couple of time by standing on the scale backwards so J could record the results without my seeing. I resisted the temptation to ask him “did it go down somewhat? Is it working?” for a third time, and we moved on.

Yesterday, however, was the only day that wasn't great food-wise. My mother, sister, and I drove to Connecticut to celebrate the bridal shower of a family friend. The bride is my age, we have known each other since we were born, and I love her dearly and was so excited to be celebrating with her. Her fiance is a great guy and they have been through everything together, including the rise and fall of MySpace.

I had a wonderful time and thought I was doing pretty well with eating until I actually tallied everything up. Then I realized that two mimosas, a mini quiche, a couple of slices of cheese and crackers, various salads with toppings and dressings, a few bite-sized desserts, all add up quick. I only took a little bit of everything, but the problem was the “everything” part. I was in default mode, version “let me have a little of that, it's okay because it's only a little.”

While I’d be quick to point out that my food intake would have been double that if I hadn’t been trying, that says more about how badly I have eaten in the past than how well I did yesterday. Despite not eating well, the only thing that really annoyed me was the second mini cupcake. It was fine, it was a cupcake, but it wasn’t amazing, cupcakes don’t even make my top ten desserts, and it really wasn’t worth it.

I know that a vague “I won’t eat too much” is setting myself up for disaster. It’s way too easy to grab a piece of cheese and a cracker and be totally unaware that this is the third one. I need to set reasonable goals, like choosing one dessert that looks the best and enjoying it. Then I can trust that there are going to be a lot of other desserts in life to enjoy, so it’s okay if I don’t have them all now. I'll try to keep this lesson for the rest of the events that seem to all fall within the next couple of months

This week is quiet, but next week is my firm’s annual outing, and a week later we’ll celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. (Amazing, right? They are my role models.) Then there's another dinner, a weekend away, and another weekend away in the next seven weeks. I know that it would be fine in the long run to indulge a bit at these events, but I’m trying not to do so. This is supposed to be the more intense part of the meal plan, and trying all the foods is not a prerequisite to enjoying the company of family and friends. The biggest reason is that I’m just so unhappy with my weight right now, so dangerously close to that big round 200 number, that I don’t want to stall my progress anymore. Food choices like the ones made at the bridal shower won’t cut it. Therefore, while these are all happy occasions and I'm lucky to have so many, I don't need to celebrate them with food.

No weekly weigh-in since I don’t even know what I weigh at the moment. I did peek at the scale on Tuesday morning and I was down to 189, so maybe that last sucky weigh-in of 191 really was a bit of bloat. It doesn’t matter, since the next time I know my number will be in August.

Tentative Weekly Meal Plan:

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesday ThursdayFridaySaturday
Exercise Short walkGymGymGymGymGymDay of rest
Breakfast Coffee, yogurtCoffee, yogurtCoffee, oatmealCoffee, yogurtCoffee, hard boiled eggs with cheddar cheeseCoffee, yogurtCoffee, yogurt
Lunch Bridal showerTurkey hash: turkey, carrots onions, peppers, and diced potatoesTurkey hash, vegetable soupTurkey hash, baby carrotsTaco salad - lettuce, refried beans, feta, onions, salsa, guacamoleTBD, or buyTBD
DinnerEggsTortilla pizzaHot dogs, broccoli Omelette Chicken breast, baked potato, veggiesChicken, challah, vegetables, wineTBD
SnacksShower foodFruit, hard boiled egg, string cheeseHard boiled eggs, strawberriesFruit, string cheeseFruit, string cheese

The "meal" of last week was the quinoa salad, and I had it for lunch Monday-Thursday. I would probably get sick of it if I had it another time, but the beauty of making one lunch dish a week and then eating it every day during the week is that I don't have to repeat often from week to week. My dish of this week, turned out like a hash (not the fun kind) made from diced potatoes, peppers, onions, and turkey breast. Like the quinoa last week, it’s a one-pot-meal.

Anyone else lukewarm for cupcakes? It's essentially the opposite of cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.