Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weigh-in Day, Feb. 24

198.8!!!! (Bouncing up in down in my seat as I write this!!) That's 2.4 pounds down this week - which means I lost ALL the weight I gained last week PLUS one more pound!

What an amazing reminder that one setback does not mean you should give up! If I had continued to be upset about my gain last week, I probably would have gained that much weight. Instead, I let it inspire me to do better this week. And here's how I did that - I still didn't make perfect decisions. But when I did slip, I was HONEST with myself about it, put it in my food tracker, and made up for it on another day. Remember that 80/20 thing I mentioned last week? Yeah, it works.

Here's how my goals went this past week:
Wednesday 2/23 - 4 fruits and veggies, tried new recipe (Grape and Walnut Chicken Salad), worked out with trainer
Tuesday 2/22 - 4 fruits and veggies, tried new recipe (Roasted Chicken with Fennel), worked out (Zumba Class)
Monday 2/21 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out (circuit training class)
Sunday 2/20 - 4 fruits and veggies
Saturday 2/19 - 5 fruits and veggies, worked out (running)
Friday 2/18 - 3 fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer
Thursday 2/17 - 5 fruits and veggies, worked out (running)

So, one day of not enough fruits and vegetables, but 6 days of working out AND I cooked twice this week! Which perhaps might explain why I lost so much weight this week. I find that when I have healthy leftovers in the fridge, I want to eat them. Plus, I feel guilty if I cooked food and then I let it go to waste!! Both recipes turned out fine - I can't say that either one is the most delicious thing I've ever tasted, but they are good and very filling. The grape and walnut chicken salad is my favorite of the two - it's made with nonfat yogurt instead of mayonnaise. So it's got a lot more nutrients that your body needs! In case you want to try it, here's the recipe!!

Grape & Walnut Chicken Salad
6 oz of cooked chicken breast (boneless and skinless)
1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup of green grapes, halved
1/4 cup of walnuts coarsely chopped

Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Mix thoroughly with yogurt. Add grapes and walnuts. Makes 2 servings. You can eat this on a whole wheat hamburger bun or plain. I actually used Arnold's whole wheat sandwich thins, but they wouldn't support half of the chicken salad. So I ended up eating some of it with a fork and half of it on the bun. Still yummy, though! This recipe is 8 PointsPlus values (without bread) - which is kind of a lot. BUT you are getting protein, fruit and healthy fat. It will keep you full for a long time, so it's worth it.

That's all for today - I'll let you know how this week is going!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Weigh-in Day, Feb. 17

Hey guys -
I know I'm posting this a few days after my normal weigh-in day (Thursdays), but I did weigh myself on the right day! I've just been a little busy since then.

So, my weight was 201.2. DAMN IT! I'm so irritated at myself about falling off the wagon a little bit. And it pushed me back above the 200's, which totally sucks. But I did kind of see it coming. With the stress I've been dealing with lately, I've been eating more (and sometimes eating badly) and stress usually throws your body out of whack and makes you retain water. So there's not much I can do about it except try to do better this week. Which I kind of have. Working out like usual and doing a little better food-wise. Although I had my Valentine's Day celebration and family time this weekend - so maybe a little more wine then I should have had!

I've stayed on the ball about working out, at least. That's usually the first thing to go when I stop seeing results. But I guess that's one of the reasons I have a personal trainer - I'm being held accountable about the gym!

Here's my weekly assessments of my goals:
Thursday, 2/10 - 4 fruits and veggies
Friday, 2/11 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer
Saturday 2/12 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out (step class)
Sunday 2/13 - 4 fruits and veggies
Monday 2/14 - 3 fruits and veggies, worked out (ran)
Tuesday 2/15 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer
Wednesday, 2/16 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out (ran)

Good work on both working out and my fruits and vegetables. No cooking this week, but I had a lot of leftovers and planned dinners so I felt like I couldn't. I'm cooking tonight, though - grilled chicken with fennel.

Even though I'm frustrated and feeling a little static, I'm not giving up. I know this plan works - and I know I'm becoming a more healthy person. One little celebration this week - I wore a dress this weekend that I hadn't worn in 3 years!! So I know this isn't for nothing. Losing weight is just like a relationship - if you give up at the first sign of trouble then you're never going to get anywhere.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Workout Idea

Hello readers!

Tomorrow's my weigh-in day - we'll see what happens! But I just wanted to take a minute to let you know about a really cool workout my trainer had me do last week. It's really simple and you don't need anybody but yourself to do it! Although it could be a fun thing to do with a friend.

What you'll need: a deck of cards, a bosu ball (those blue half circle squishy things), 2 dumbbell weights, and a bench or flat surface about 2 feet off the ground. The weight of the dumbbells should depend on how strong your arms are. Girls - 5 or 8 pounds unless you're very fit. Boys - at least 10 or 15 pounds.

Okay - shuffle the cards or lay them out mixed up. Draw cards one at a time. Based on what suit you draw, you do a certain exercise. Based on what number you draw, that's how many of that exercise you do! It's simple. :) Face cards are 10. We will get to Aces and Jokers later.

Hearts - Stand on the squishy side of the bosu holding one dumbbell in each hand. Raise your arms - keeping your elbows straight - at a slight angle to your body. Not directly in front of you or directly at your sides, but somewhere in between. You should feel this in the top of your shoulders. (This is called a scaption raise.) Then push your arms back (elbows still straight), squeezing your shoulder blades together, like you were flinging some double doors open. Then slowly control your arms as you bring them back to your sides. Repeat based on the number you draw.

Diamonds - Place your arms on the flat surface, and lean your body at an angle. Do a push up at this angle. (Boys - most of you can do these on the ground.) Don't drop your head! Keep it in line with your spine. Once you've pushed up, pick up one knee and bring it to your opposite knee. Repeat with your other knee. Make sure your movement is slow and controlled. (This works your oblique ab muscles.) Repeat based on the number you draw.

Spades - Make sure the space around you is clear. Do a squat (like you were going to sit in a chair), then raise your right leg to your side, working your outer hip muscle. Squat again, then raise your other leg. Make sure that as you squat you sit back on your heels and don't lean forward on your toes. Count based on the number of squats you do - alternate legs. So if you draw a 3, then you will work one leg twice. But it all evens out.

Clubs - Make sure the space around you is clear. Take a large stride back and sink down until your knees make a right angle. Make sure that your knees don't extend past your toes! Push back up and put your feet together again. Repeat with your opposite leg. (These are reverse lunges.) You must do a lunge on each leg to complete one rep. So, if you draw a 10, you have to lunge 10 times on each leg.

Aces - 1 minute of rest. If you draw an ace and you don't feel like you need it yet, you can put it back in the deck. But you never know when you might draw one again!

Jokers - core exercise. This can be a number of things - crunches, crunches on a stability ball, whatever. My trainer had me on a machine-thingy that elevates my body at about a 60 degree angle to the floor up until my hips. My upper body hung towards the ground. I got in it facing the ground and bent over at the waist. The exercise was to raise my body up 20 times, working my back core muscles. Then I put my right hip against the machine and raised up sideways 20 times, working my left obliques. Then I repeated it with the opposite hip against the machine. This is a difficult one to describe without demonstration. But, if you make yourself do some core exercise, you will get the same workout. Bicycle crunches work your oblique muscles, too, so they might be a good substitute. And a prone cobra pose can work your back core muscles as well. Feel free to ask me what those are or look them up!

Other than that, your goal is only to finish the whole deck of cards in 45 minutes. It is possible - just don't quit! I will admit that it may be hard to hold yourself accountable of how many repetitions you do of each exercise, or not taking rest when you haven't drawn an ace. But isn't all of working out about learning how to hold yourself accountable? You have to start somewhere! At least this way it feels like a game, and you're getting a great full body workout.

Bust out of a workout rut and give it a try!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Food = Fuel

Hey gang! Just FYI - this is my 70th post since I've started this blog! That's amazing to me. Thanks for helping keep me on track and for reading my jumbled thoughts!!

This week has been a challenge as far as food goes. I've been able to get to the gym just as much as usual, but I've had lots of food temptations. Saturday night was dinner at a Steak house for my stepbrother's birthday. And while steak is good in small portions (lots of protein!), the bread and wine and broccoli casserole that accompany it are not! Sunday night was girls Valentine's dinner with greek food. Which can be healthy - but feta cheese dip and baklava and the wine that accompany it are not! I've had lots of leftovers in my fridge and I've felt like I've had to eat them. I know as the daughter of a food banker, I should be saying this, but sometimes you just gotta throw stuff away! Plus yesterday was V-Day and my students (thoughtfully) brought me candy and a cupcake! We'll see what happens this week - I'm doing my best to make smart decisions now that all my unhealthy leftovers are gone. Although I still have that cupcake on my counter that keeps calling my name . . .

So, as a reminder to myself and as an effort to pass on pertinent information, I'm going to write a post about food and how you need to start thinking about it. Up until this year I thought of food as comforting, delicious and fun. It was the thing that life happened around - meet a friend for lunch, have dinner with the family, etc. I NEVER ONCE thought of food as a necessity, as fuel. Nor did I think about the fact that my body needed certain things to survive. Not just vitamins or calories in general, but things like protein, fiber and fat. (Yes, even fat!) My trainer has been reviewing my food logging through some WW printouts I've given her and she gave me a lot of great pointers. Including some very helpful (although very technical) magazine articles that helped me understand what your body needs.

Here's the first tip -
1) EAT PROTEIN! If you're working out, your body needs protein to help rebuild the muscle fibers you tear apart when you work out. (Yes, that's really what happens. That's how muscles get toned.) Both before and after your workout, make sure you're ingesting some protein so that you can give your body the fuel it needs. Vegetarians are particularly vulnerable to a lack of protein. In attempt to eat "healthy," I was cutting a lot of protein because it costs me more points. But it's something your body needs! Another perk of protein? It keeps you fuller for longer on less calories. So I could either walk around starving all the time, or I could spend a few points on something that is helping me lose weight. Try to put a protein in each meal! Great examples - lean (grilled) meats, nuts (almonds are best), and eggs.

2) Eat about every 3 hours. This keeps your metabolism running a little higher all day long. I know this isn't possible for everyone - even I can't keep this rule all the time. But instead of thinking about 3 square meals a day, try to do 5. Solid breakfast, small snack, solid lunch, bigger snack (depending on how long you have between lunch and dinner), and then dinner. Not that your snacks have to come at these times. My food timing usually looks more like this: solid breakfast, solid lunch, bigger snack, dinner, smaller snack. I work out between breakfast and lunch so I get hungrier a lot faster. Also I don't wake up that early so there's only about 3 hours between breakfast and lunch anyway. And I like to give myself a small snack after dinner. Even my trainer said it's not that big of a deal. A lot of people have a vendetta against eating late at night, but as long as you're not ingesting too many calories, then your body can handle it. Find a way to work in some snacks throughout the day! When I don't have a break in my students, I bring grapes and almonds that I can munch on a few of in between lessons. If I have a break, I'll bring an apple and some yogurt with granola in it.

3) BALANCE your meals. What does this mean? I'll give you an example - for breakfast, I would often have a bagel and cream cheese and a glass of milk. I'm a BIG bagel fan - I probably won't ever give them up. Now, I was using whole grain bagels and reduced fat cream cheese and skim milk. But I wasn't giving myself the right fuel for the day - carbs, good for energy. But a bagel is a lot of carbs at once. The cream cheese doesn't give me much protein at all - mostly it's just empty calories. So my trainer suggested instead that I eat half a bagel (still carbs, but not as much) with peanut butter on it for more protein. Which helps keep me full. And by adding in a fruit at breakfast, you're giving your body more nutrients. I still have the milk - don't deprive your body of it!! Or another option - I used to eat scrambled eggs with cheese and toast with butter. Eggs - good. Cheese, not so much. Now I cook my eggs over-easy or fried (this term is misleading - it just means that the yoke of the egg breaks. It's not any less healthy than over-easy. But if you don't like runny eggs then its a good option) cooked in olive oil. And I'll eat 2 eggs with one piece of toast. When I really wanted scrambled eggs, I'll use fat-free cheese to cut out some of the empty calories, and still only have one piece of toast.

In short - think about what you're eating before you eat it. What is this meal giving my body? Things like chips are almost totally empty calories - I know, I love them too! But try substituting them for a fruit instead. Not that you can't have chips or french fries - just don't make them a staple. When in doubt, think about this: In general, things that exist in nature are going to be healthy and fill your body's needs. Things that don't - like french fries - are not.

One last tip - follow the 80/20 rule. If you make 80% of your food for the day healthy, then 20% of your food can be something else. Or if you have a lot of temptations during your week, make 80% of your meals healthy that week so the other 20% you can splurge a little. Direct from my trainer's mouth! Keep working hard!! If I can do this stuff, I know you can too!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Triumphant Day!

Today, I ran for 5 minutes without stopping. I haven't done that in . . . um, anytime I can remember. I wasn't even exhausted at the end - I could have kept going.

Today, I was the best person in my step class. It was the 4th time I've taken it, and I felt like I was rocking. In fact, I'm thinking about raising my step up to a higher level next time.

Today, I held the plank position for an entire minute. 3 weeks ago I could barely do 30 seconds.

Today, I felt my thigh and it felt like solid muscle.

Today, I feel like I can accomplish anything, do anything, fly to the moon if I wanted to. Today I am an invincible bad ass.

Let's see how tomorrow goes. :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Weigh-in Day, Feb. 10

199.4. I'm sorry - did you catch that? 1-9-9. Under 200 again!! I lost 1.2 pounds this week - so I guess I didn't overestimate my weight loss last week after all! That makes me very happy.

In 4 weeks I have lost 5.8 pounds. A little behind my 2 pounds per week goal, but still losing weight at a steady, healthy pace. To quote Courtney, a Biggest Loser contestant this season, "As long as the number is going down, I'm happy." And I really am. I know I'm gaining muscle mass and losing fat, and losing inches and pounds in the process. I won't get caught up in the fact that the number isn't decreasing as fast as I would like. The goal is there to motivate me - and it is definitely doing that. I mean really, if I'm anywhere NEAR 160 pounds by the end of June, do you think I'm going to complain?! No no.

Here are my assessments of my other goals this past week:
Thursday 2/3 - 5 fruits and veggies
Friday 2/4 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer
Saturday 2/5 - 4 fruits and veggies, worked out (step class)
Sunday 2/6 - 3 fruits and veggies, cooked Moroccan chicken kabobs and seven-layer mexican dip
Monday 2/7 - 5 fruits and veggies, worked out (dance game)
Tuesday 2/8 - 5 fruits and veggies, worked out (running)
Wednesday 2/9 - 5 fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer

All in all - 5 days of working out, plus cooking while using one new recipe, and only one day where I didn't meet at least 4 servings of fruits and veggies. I had made the bean dip before, but it was a delicious Superbowl treat that everybody liked. They were all surprised that it was low-fat. The Moroccan chicken kabobs turned out really nicely, too. Not spicy, but instead flavored with cinnamon and orange juice (among other things). I've been munching on the leftovers all week! Let me know if you want either recipe.

Not to say that this week was all smooth sailing. On Tuesday, I was feeling really tired and DID NOT want to work out at all. I overslept for the Zumba class that I've started taking, and would have been perfectly content laying on the couch in front of my television all day long. But I knew if I didn't at least work out a little bit I would feel disappointed in myself and also I would'nt have as many points to use on food later. So, I dragged myself up and made myself work out. It was only for about 40 minutes, but I still did something. There will always be days when your bed seems like a far better option than the gym. And I'm sure that I will succumb to that temptation more than once in the future. BUT - don't let yourself get out of the habit of working out. I'm sure those of you that are on this journey with me know how difficult it is to start over again once you've fallen off the wagon. Those of you that are currently off the wagon - it IS possible to make your health a habit again. There are always changes you can make that can and will change the way that you feel.

Keep reading! Lots more to come!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Post Superbowl Reassessments

Hey guys! Apart from the Superbowl's very disappointing outcome (freaking lame Packers!), I had a blast of a day! There was SO much food, but at least some of it was healthy! I cooked Grilled Moroccan Chicken Kabobs with onions and zucchini. Which were delicious! And I made a yummy seven-layer mexican bean dip, complete with veggies to dip in it! My friends brought over some unhealthy food (pigs in a blanket, chicken tenders with bleu cheese dip, etc.) which I had a tiny bit of. But, I kept track of what I was eating and did my best to fill up on healthy stuff so I didn't pig out on unhealthy stuff. I did use all my extra points for the week to include alcohol and unhealthy food. But that's why I saved them up!

Having healthy options is a great idea - but that doesn't take away the fact that there will be unhealthy options, too. How well you can/want to contain yourself is up to you. I know I struggle reaching for fruit when there are chicken tenders next to them. But for me, I think about how hard I've been working. Is all that pain really worth that 2 minutes of enjoyment from a little fried chicken? Sure, it's ok to indulge a little bit when you've been working hard. But the bad food just isn't worth it to me right now. Maybe you're not there yet - maybe you still reaaaaaaallly want some fried chicken. It's all about reevaluating how you think about that food. What works best for you? Thinking about the gym? The body you want? Bathing suit season? Just think about your biggest motivation. If you're dying because you can't have something, have a small portion. It will satisfy your craving and keep you from eating everything else in sight.

Also: I haven't done my weekly assessment for last week! Here it is:
Thursday 11/27 - 4 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out (dance game)
Friday 11/28 - 4 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer
Saturday 11/29 - 5 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out (step class)
Sunday 11/30 - 4 servings of fruits and veggies
Monday 11/31 - 5 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out (treadmill and arc trainer)
Tuesday 2/1 - 5 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out (Zumba class), cooked tilapia with peppers, onions and capers
Wednesday 2/2 - 5 servings of fruits and veggies, worked out with trainer

Lots better with the fruits and veggies this week! And only 1 day of not working out - which can't happen every week but is nice for this week! I think the big reason I didn't lose more weight last week is that I drank a little too much throughout the week. But, things are still going very well. The number on the scale is not what's most important to me. Just the way I look and feel.

More to come soon! Thank you all for following!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Great Day Today!

EEEEEEEEEEE!!! I'm in an awesome place this afternoon!! I was feeling lots better this morning, so I decided to brave the gym and meet my trainer. So, first good thing today is that my cold is going away.

Second good thing - we did measurements again today. I lost 5.75 inches in 2 weeks and 2 days!!!! Here's what my measurements looked like:
Body Fat % - 36.6% Chest - 41.75" Right Arm - 13.5" Waist - 41" Hips - 45.5" Butt - 48"
Right Thigh - 28" Right Calf - 17.5"
Body Fat % - 35.8% Chest - 40.75" Right Arm - 13.25" Waist - 39.75" Hips - 45" Butt - 46.25" Right Thigh - 27" Right Calf - 17.5"
Total Losses
Body Fat % - 0.8% Chest - 1" Right Arm - 0.25" Waist - 1.25" Hips - 0.5" Butt - 1.75"
Right Thigh - 1" Right Calf - 0"

YES! Thank you very much! The only thing that didn't change was my right calf, which my trainer says you see the least change in at first. And also (in her words, not mine), I have muscular calves already. Other than that, the smallest change was my arms, which my trainer also said you see smaller changes in. Other than that, HUGE changes in my waist and butt. Which explains why my pants are fitting better! And body fat percentage is a number that doesn't drastically drop over a short period of time - so almost a whole percentage point is actually a lot.

According to the scale at the gym, I've only lost 2.2 pounds in those 2 weeks. But, in the words of my trainer, there are a lot of fluid fluctuations in the first few weeks. And with as many inches as I've lost, the weight will come, too. Just because the scale isn't showing numbers as big as I'd like doesn't mean I'm doing anything wrong. In fact, my trainer said today, "I love measuring people that are doing the right stuff!" I'm doing a lot of weight training, so my body is losing fat and building lean muscle. It can explain why the weight loss numbers may seem small, but I can see and feel a difference in my body.

Morale of this story - take measurements!!! If you're getting discouraged about your weight loss, measurements may help you see progress that doesn't show up on the scale. Have a friend help you take them so you can get accurate readings. Make sure you take them in the same place every time - for example, measure your thigh at the point where your arm falls if you make a fist.

Last great thing - my trainer kicked my BUTT today! My legs are already sore. :) Keep working!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Weigh-in Day, Feb. 3

200.6. Well . . . . kind of. I've been keeping my scale under my bathroom sink, but I found out today that pretty much every spot on the floor of my bathroom makes the scale read a different number. When I first got on it, it read 201.4. Which is IMPOSSIBLE because I've been working my butt off this week. Another part of the floor made it read 200.2. And yet another part of the floor made it read 200.6. So, I picked the one mostly in the middle. And I've set the scale in a stationary spot and hopefully that will help. Also, I'm supposed to get weighed at the gym tomorrow so hopefully that will give me an accurate reading.

Anyway - that makes 1.4 pounds lost this week. I feel like I've lost a lot more . . . I'm also getting my measurements taken tomorrow. Maybe I've lost more inches than pounds? I have been doing a lot of weight training. I guess we'll see tomorrow.

Small complication this week - I have a cold. I'm not sure exactly how this is going to affect my gym time this week. Yesterday working out with my trainer I got a little light-headed and a lot hotter than usual. I'm not sure if it's the cold or what, but I would hate for it to affect the extra points I can earn working out. Especially with the Superbowl this Sunday.

I'm a little out of it because of my medicine. I'll post more tomorrow when I'll hopefully be feeling better.