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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Verdict

At my weigh-in today at Weight Watchers, I found that...

(drum roll please)

My weight stayed the same!

That's right...I maintained my weight during Christmas week!  I am not sure how it happened, as my eating was not "on plan."  However, the progress I have made and the increase in my activity level apparently worked for me because I still weighed in at 230 pounds today!

I am going to change my ticker to reflect my official Weight Watchers weight each week, as this will give me a concrete number to input on the ticker.  Therefore, it will look like I have a gain this week (because of the whole first-thing-in-the-morning-in-my-birthday-suit vs. later-in-the-day-with-clothes-on weighing difference), but it will make it easier to track in the long run.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in review...and what's on my plate for 2011!

I can't believe that 2010 is drawing to a close!  It feels like it just got here, and already we are saying goodbye.  This year was HUGE for me, in terms of health and fitness, and it feels so good to look back on the year and feel satisfied by how I am doing in my seemingly endless struggle against my weight.  I still have more work to do, but I feel like I have learned so much this year, and I am actually feeling optimistic that 2011 may be the year that I reach my weight goal!  And I know it will be the year that represents the first time in a LONG time that I have weighed less than 200 pounds.  I don't have all that far to go to hit that goal, and I am looking forward to it!  I had hoped to weigh that on my 35th birthday, which is four months from tomorrow, but I am no longer thinking that is going to happen.  However, my new goal is to be under the weight I was when I first joined eDiets when I got out of college in early 1999, which was 221 pounds, and I can easily do that before I turn the big 3-5!

To recap, on January 4, 2010, I started my journey to health and wellness at 274.6 pounds on my old scale.  Last week, when I weighed in on my new scale, I weighed 226.5 pounds.  This represent a total weight loss of 48 pounds.  I had lost about 40 pounds by the end of the summer, and I hit a plateau, but I maintained that weight loss while still enjoying food, and I have kicked things back into gear with the help of the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program.  My official WW weigh-in last week had me at 230 pounds on their scale (with clothes on, while I weigh myself at home first thing in the morning in my birthday suit), which represents a weight loss of 5.8 pounds since I attended my first meeting.  Now, I did overindulge for the four days between Christmas Eve and yesterday (thereby not meeting my goal of limiting myself to two days of excess), so I will not be surprised to see a gain at tomorrow's meeting, but I have been 100% back on track today and look forward to seeing where WW is going to take me!

One of the biggest things I have done this year is increase the amount of time I am spending in the gym.  Now, I used to spend no time at all in the gym, so any increase would be a huge one, but I have really gotten into the habit of going to the gym, for the most part, four days per week.  My work schedule does not allow me to go work out on my work days, but for most of the year, I have been consistent in my gym habits.  I have not been going as often lately because my second job, which is a retail job, has picked up a lot during the holiday season, but that should calm down soon, and then I will have plenty of time to spend in the gym!

Here is a list of my 2011 goals/resolutions, as well as some discussion of them:

To lose the remaining 50 pounds of weight to my ultimate goal - Even with my several-months-long plateau, I managed to lose almost 50 pounds this year.  Next year, I would like to avoid such a long plateau (which I can mostly attribute to being a lot more lax with things for several months, really, so maybe it was more a fall-off-the-wagon than a plateau) and lose the rest of the weight!  It's hard to imagine how I will feel when I accomplish this goal because I have struggled with my weight for so long.  However, I know the plan that I am following is one that will work, and I know that I can do it!

To attend Weight Watchers meetings every week of the year - This one is important to my success with my first goal.  I know that WW works, and I know that part of what makes it work for me is the support that the meetings give me.  I also know that it's easy to let one skipped meeting turn into me disappearing off the face of the WW earth, and I don't want that to happen.

To cut back my fast food consumption to once per month - I still answer the call of the drive thru way too often, usually when I am on my way home from work and am exhausted.  I most often stop at Chick-fil-a, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but it is money I don't need to spend at the very least.  Now, the nice thing about WW is that you can build treats like this into your plan.  However, a treat doesn't happen twice in one happens once in a while.

To increase my fitness to the point that I can run 5K by the end of the year - I am a C25K dropout, and most of my exercise these days is on the elliptical or on the StairMaster.  And I love both of those because I can read books on my nook while working out, which keeps me working out for long amounts of time.  However, I still feel very strongly that I want to become a runner (well, jogger, really).  And therefore, I am going to restart C25K once the coldest weather goes away, and this time, I hope to complete it!  I know that treadmill running will not work for me at this point, although I did used to enjoy some treadmill running back in the day when I called myself a runner.  Therefore, I am going to continue building up my fitness level using my current cardio methods, and then when it's nicer out, I will add in the C25K program.  Here's hoping it sticks this time!

And two non-health-related goals:

To follow Dave Ramsey's debt snowball for the entire year to pay down CC debt - I have accrued a good amount of CC debt in my life, and I really want to work on getting it paid down.  It isn't the ideal time to do this, as one stepson is headed to college this fall, and the other will follow the next fall.  However, I am feeling stifled by the debt I have, and I want to work on it.  I have downloaded a great planning and tracking spreadsheet that will make this easy to do, as long as I can stick with it and learn the difference between "wants" and "needs."  I have my budget for the year set up and filled in, and now I just have to stick to it (and hope that not too many unexpected expenses head our way this year)!

To read 111 book in '11 - This is my goal with my online book club on The Nest.  I read 100 books this year, and I want to challenge myself a bit for next year.  It would be too much of a stretch for me to read 125 books, I think, but 111 is probably doable.  In the years after that, I will probably stick to a 100-book goal every year, but I look forward to challenging myself with this one!

So that's it!  Those are a lot of goals, but so many of them are interrelated that I think I will be able to achieve them!  Here's to a wonderful new year and a health, happy 2011 for us all!  Make it a great YEAR, everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More WW success!

I weighed in again Monday afternoon for the fourth week of PointsPlus,
and I was thrilled be THREE POUNDS down on the scale! Our meeting was
all about strategies on dealing with holiday temptations. One thing
that I think is important is the "compartmentalization" of holiday
events. By that, I mean that I think it's important not to let the
whole week be a free-for-all. This week, I have two major "events"
planned. The first was dessert with the girls last night at the
Melting Pot. The second is a two-day event, namely Christmas Eve with
my family and Christmas day working at the hospital.

I prepared for last night be eating a bit lighter during the day
(although my holiday baking included a bit more taste-testing than was
strictly necessary) and also going to the gym for an hour-long sweat
session on the StairMaster, which earned me an extra seven Points+! I
did overindulge at the restaurant (we split a chocolate fondue course
AND a cheese fondue course, and I had two glasses of red wine), but it
was worth it because it was yummy and fun! And it was a much-enjoyed
night out with two friends I don't get to see very often!

I am of the opinion that a holiday is a holiday, and while I try not
to make completely bad decisions on holidays, I also don't deny
myself. I will not be tracking strictly on Friday or Saturday, but I
will try not to blow my eating plan completely. And then on Sunday, I
will be right back on track! I may see a little bit of gain after this
week, especially after this week's stellar results, but I will not let
it bother me, as long as I nip it in the bud immediately!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Sent from my mobile device

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update on my WW journey...

I started the PointsPlus program from Weight Watchers about three weeks ago, and so far, I am continuing to love this new program!  I can't even believe the quality of the food I am choosing when faced with the 36 points I get for the day!  I am still having some indulgences (a little Chick-fil-a here, a spot of Sonic there...really need my New Year's Resolutions to include some limit on fast food drive thru stops), but I am eating so many more fruits and vegetables than I ever have, and it feels amazing (except for day likes yesterday when the fruit and veggie overkill wreaks a tiny bit of havoc on the old GI system).

One of the first things I did when I restarted WW was to buy a little journal so I could write down the PointsPlus values of my most often eaten foods.  For example, I could eat for breakfast everyday a serving of steel cut oats (4) with 1 T of chia seeds (1), some sort of sweetener (either 1 T honey (2), 2 T maple syrup (3), or 1 tsp. Splenda/brown sugar mix (0), for the most part), and a banana (0).  I have been eating this breakfast for almost a year the majority of the time, and I have yet to get sick of it.  I was never a huge fan of oatmeal, but steel cut oats are beyond amazing (I thank the clean eating members of the H&F board on The Nest for introducing me to them), and I don't see myself getting sick of them anytime soon.  I also eat a lot of Morningstar Farms chik'n patties (4) on Arnold or Pepperidge Farm sandwich thins (3), with a slice of 2% milk cheese (1) and 1 T lite mayo (1).  It's a great go-to lunch or dinner because I can make it in fifteen minutes with the assistance of my toaster oven, and with a side of veggies, it fills me right up.  In fact, it's a great alternative to the drive thru and is what I chose last night for dinner when I got home from work at 8PM!  I also wrote down some PointsPlus values for not-too-bad drive thru options, as well as some of my Starbucks favorites, which will be OCCASIONAL treats for me but are something I don't want to give up forever.

Last week, I saw a number on the scale that I have not seen in MANY, MANY years, and I claimed it as my official weigh-in, so you  can see it reflected in my ticker at the top of the blog.  That official weigh-in was 227 pounds, which is 47.6 pounds lost since January 4!  I about fell right off the scale when I saw that number!  Of course, as most women know, our weights can fluctuate from day to day (and even hour to hour, really), so after dinner at a Chinese restaurant on Friday, I am up a bit, which I am crediting to water retention, I guess.  I am not too upset about it.  I am having my official Weight Watchers weigh-in today, and it will be my fourth meeting since starting the new program.  The scales at my meeting location are different from my scale at home, so I am sort of maintaining two weight loss totals.  There is my ticker total, which I have here on the blog, and there is my WW weight tracker, which is updated when I weigh in at meetings.  My WW weight was 235.8 pounds at my first meeting, 233.8 pounds at my second meeting, and 233 pounds at my third meeting.  I weighed myself at home before that third meeting, and it seems like my scale is at least 1.5 pounds different from theirs.  I also weigh myself in at home in the mornings, and I am going to WW meetings at different times of the day (the first was at 10AM, the second and third at 7PM, and today's at 1PM), so that is going to make a difference.  I am also trying to hit different meetings to get an idea of who the leaders are because I would love to attend meetings led by some of my favorite meeting leaders from my last WW go-'round!

I have been slacking on the gym, mostly because I have been working a lot more hours than usual at my retail job.  However, I was called off of work from my usual (nursing) job today, so I have an unexpected day free!  I have some Christmas prep to finish up (a bit of shopping, along with wrapping and baking), and I have plans to go to the Melting Pot tonight for dessert with my two best friends from high school (Hooray for those weekly extra points that WW gives me!), but that still leaves time to hit the gym.  I am reading Catching Fire, which is the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins on my nook, and that should make my elliptical and StairMaster time fly by!

If I don't post again before the weekend, I want to wish all those who celebrate a very merry Christmas.  And to everyone, a happy, healthy New Year!  Make it a great day, everyone!

Monday, December 06, 2010


I have now been following the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program for three full days, and I have to say that I am LOVING it! I used to be such a fan of the Points program, but after a while, I lost sight of real foods and began only to care about how many Points were in the foods. I was filling my diet low-point foods that weren't of great nutritional value. And eventually, I fell off the Points wagon. I was burnt out on figuring out the Points values for all my foods, and I gave up on getting healthier.

In January, I got back on track as far as getting healthier, and I am among the most healthy I have ever been as an adult. I have weighed less as an adult than I do now, but I have never been as consistent in my exercise habits as I am now, and I drink a lot less alcohol than I did in my 20s. However, as I mentioned in my last post, I have stalled.

I am not finding it difficult to transition to the new PointsPlus program because it has been a while since I have done Weight Watchers. And I am enjoying using the new materials. I love that we get more Points than we used to, even if the Points values of many foods are higher. And I LOVE that fruits and most veggies are free! I have been enjoying fruit quite a bit this year, and on the old Points plan, I mostly avoided fruit because I was too busy using my Points on things like 100-calorie packs. Today, I enjoyed a banana in my oatmeal this morning, some cherries with lunch (note to self - don't buy any more cherries until spring because they are NOT good at this time of year!), and an apple after dinner. Love that!

Ny first weigh in will be Thursday evening, less than a week after I started the program. However, my work schedule does not allow me to attend Saturday meetings most of the time. I will be interested to see the results, as the meeting will be in the evening after a day spent with my parents' in NYC. Usually, when you start a new diet, you get some amazing weight loss that first week because you lose some water weight. Since I have been eating better for many months now, I wouldn't expect to have that WHOOSH of water weight loss. In the long run, I am confident I will have great results with this program. However, those great results might not start with this first week! But that's why it's a marathon, not a sprint!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Changing it up...

After being at the same weight for multiple months now, I am starting to think that this is more than a plateau.  What I am doing doesn't seem to be working anymore.  I don't know if this is because I am being less strict, or if I am not eating enough, or if I am eating too much, or what.  Therefore, today, I am going to make a change.  Today, I am going back to Weight Watchers.  I have an unexpected day off of work (although I might have to work four hours later today), and there is a meeting at 10 AM at my closest meeting location.  I have done a little bit of reading up on the new PointsPlus program, and I really like the bones of the program.  I like that there is a focus on fat, fiber, carbs, and protein and how best to balance those.  And I love that veggies and fruits, for the most part, are free.  I did Weight Watchers when I first got married, and I was really successful with it, and I lost a good amount of weight.  Of course, I gained it back because I really was still relying on processed foods and "low points" foods, and that just wasn't feasible for the long term.  With my switch to cleaner eating, I feel like this new program will really work for me.  And I think it will actually encourage cleaner eating because I am really going to want to get the most bang for my bucks, points-wise, and cleaner foods are the better way to do that.  The good news is that after losing the weight I have this year, I now weigh just about as much as or even slightly less than I did the last time I was at a meeting.  So I don't have to go in there with my tail completely between my legs (which is not the way anyone there would make me feel...the people at Weight Watchers are nothing but supportive, and I have never felt judged or ashamed, even at my heaviest, by anything they have done or said, although sometimes in my own head I have felt like I was slinking back to the fold after doing something "bad").

I was a little concerned to stick my Larabar into a PointsPlus calculator and find that it comes out to six points.  I am interested to go to the meeting today and see what my daily allotment is.  I will report back later and let you know how I come out!


Several hours later...

I went to my first meeting!  The leader was one of the women I remembered from when I used to go to WW meetings, and the meeting room was packed!  They are also in a new, much nicer location that has a parking lot, which is nice, as the old location had on street parking only.  I got my new program materials, and I also bought two of the PointsPlus calculators, as I like to keep one in my purse at all times and one handy to use.  And this way, I have a back-up, in case I lose one.

The new calculator is really nice, as you can calculate points on it and also do some tracking of your points on it.  And the program materials look like they are really well done, although some of them are out-of-stock at my meeting location right now, so I will have to wait a bit to get my hands on them.

My weight was up a little from what my scale said yesterday, but I know that all scales are different, and I am excited to have a place to officially weigh in every week.  The next meeting that I will probably be able to get to is Thursday evening, so I will weigh in again then.  I get 36 points per day, along with the 49 flex points for the week.  I also am noticing that my usual hour-long workout at the gym (which I gauge to be a moderate intensity, for the most part, with some higher intensity thrown in) equals seven additional points to work with.  I will be interested to see what a week of eating this way brings my way in terms of results!

I have been having some back issues that seem to be related to my sciatic nerve, so I have not been to the gym this week.  I am planning to head back there on Monday to get back into the swing of things though.  I did go to yoga this week because it was our last class until January, but other than that, I have just been trying to give my back some rest to feel better.  I really miss my time on the StairMaster and elliptical, and my reading of books has suffered a bit as a result of the break!  My goal is to read 100 books this year, and I have about seven to go, so I have to get to that!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Branching out...

I have decided that the only way that I am ever going to break my habit of hitting a drive thru on my way home from work is if I know that I have easy-to-prepare foods waiting for me at home that will not require an hour to cook.  I get out of work anywhere between 7 and 7:15 PM usually, and my commute home, if I don't make any stops, is about 40-45 minutes.  Therefore, I usually get home right around 8 PM, and this is too late for me to start and finish cooking dinner.  Add to that the fact that I usually try to be in bed by 9 PM if I am working the next day (because I get up at 4:30 AM to go to work), and this explains, sort of, the fast food route that I often take.  I do make sure, 90% of the time, that what I am getting fits into my calorie goals for the day (which means I eat a lot of Chick-fil-a), but it doesn't fit into my overall goals because fast food is not good for you and should not be more than an occasional meal choice.

I also really have to realize that my formerly transient life has settled into something now.  I have, in the last 11 years, spent time living with a roommate, living on my own, living with my parents and attending nursing school, living with my fiance and attending nursing school, living with my husband and attending nursing school, living with my husband and working night shift, and living with my husband and working the weekend day shift.  I have been on the weekend day shift for about a year and a half, and I don't foresee that changing for quite a while.  However, I have had such a history of things changing every few years that I have not ever really gotten into a routine.  I don't cook dinner all that often, and I often find myself reaching for convenience foods.  However, I don't want to spend the rest of my life eating this way, so it's time to realize that things don't seem like they are going to be changing much for a while, so now is the time to make a plan that I can stick to.

I don't really know that I will ever be one of those people who does all the cooking for the week on one day and fills her freezer with things that just have to be popped into the oven.  However, I can certainly cook up some grains (like maybe a pot of brown rice, couscous, quinoa, or barley) and keep them on hand for quick meals.  I can cook up some chicken or pork each week and use it in meals when I get home after work.  I can keep some beans on hand and cooked up for a quick protein option.  And I can commit to cooking dinner on the night that my husband and I are home together, instead of relying on my old stand-by of flour tortillas with cheese melted on them when I need a quick dinner.  I can keep more veggies around the house (even if they are of the frozen variety), and I can keep fewer boxed items in my pantry.  This week, I am off of work for four days, so I want to go to my local health food store and explore the bulk grain options (and restock my supply of steel cut oats).  I also want to spend some time scouring the internet for ideas for cooking up said grains.  A quick pilaf should not be that difficult, and simple stuff like that can be so yummy!

As I mentioned, I have quite a taste for flour tortillas.  I am going to try making my own this week!  I found a recipe for a whole wheat tortilla that has only four ingredients in it...whole wheat flour, water, vegetable oil (I will use canola), and salt (I will use sea salt).  In comparison, my tortillas I buy have about 20 ingredients in them, some of which I don't even know what they are for.  So this will be an interesting experiment!  I hope it works!

Other than that, this week will hopefully include four gym trips and my yoga and pilates class tonight.  And I am going to cut down on the amount of Splenda-sweetened diet flavored sparking waters I am drinking and rely more on my one liter Nalgene bottle (BPA-free!) with one packet of Wild Strawberry Crystal Lite in it.  It's double-diluted, so the taste isn't too strong, but it makes the water go down much more easily.  My goal is three bottles per day on most days.  I also recently put a Pur water filter on my kitchen faucet, and I am not hating drinking water that does not come in a bottle!  That will cut down both on the amount of money I spend on water and the amount of plastic that goes into our recycling bin.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good food that's good for you...

Now that summer is quite obviously over, I will be having to make the transition to organic produce exclusively, since local produce is on its way out of here.  My favorite local farm Annie's Acres has things like potatoes and yams and even some greens from the greenhouse right now, and I am sure some of the other local farms have those items as well, but the bulk of what I am going to be buying going into the fall and winter will be from the grocery store.  I have increased my food budget accordingly to absorb this cost as well as the cost for organic and/or humanely raised meats.

I went out to Annie's Acres yesterday to pick up my first meat and cheese order from her.  She puts out an order form every couple of weeks for meats, yogurts, and cheeses that she then goes to pick up for her customers down in Lancaster County.  Yesterday, I picked up some ground beef and pork, some center cut pork chops, some raw milk cheese, and some whole milk yogurt made with milk from grass fed Jersey cows.  All of the farms that Annie gets these items from have been checked out by her and her husband to make sure that they feel good about the way the animals are being treated there.  I trust her 100% to have the same standards I would have if I were visiting such a farm.  The meat is more expensive than most meat you would find in a grocery store, but it fits right into my desire to buy only humanely raised meats.  I am pretty excited about continuing to get meat and cheese this way throughout the fall and winter!

I have to rave about one of the items that I picked up from Annie's, and that is the Pequea Valley Farm yogurt that she is selling.  It comes from a farm in Ronks, PA, which is in Lancaster County, and it is an Amish farm. This is a whole milk yogurt, made, as I mentioned, from the milk of grass-fed Jersey cows.  It is the most amazing yogurt I have ever tasted.  So far, I have had the maple (150 calories) and the black cherry (210 calories), and I can't stop thinking about the final container I have to my refrigerator (peach - 200 calories), but I am going to attempt to hold off on eating that until tomorrow.  I also have in my fridge my previously loved Chobani Greek yogurt in several flavors, but I am afraid that nothing will ever taste as good as this new-to-me yogurt.  It's a bit more expensive, of course, than yogurt in the grocery store ($1.85 for a 6 oz. container or $6.75 for a quart, which is actually in the neighborhood of the cost of the pricey Fage Greek yogurt or the Siggi's Icelandic skyr that I sometimes buy at Wegmans).  And it is not as high in protein as Greek yogurt, which is kind of a trade off.  However, it is a trade off I am willing to make because it is SO good, and it comes from a farm right here in my home state.  It's a win-win!

One of the next items on my list that I want to buy is a chest freezer to put down in our basement.  I just want a small one (5 cubic feet), as it's just me and the hubs here, but I want to be able to buy meat in bulk when it's available to me and to be able to stockpile it somewhere.  I used to buy club packs and chicken breast and pork chops and stock our freezer up.  I don't buy those factory farm-raised meats anymore, but I do need some space for freezing items.  I am looking forward to adding a freezer to the house sometime before the end of the year, hopefully!

Although I never go to the gym this early, I think I am going to go ahead and head over there now, as this has the possibility of being a busy day.  And tonight for dinner, I plan to cook up some Organic Prairie Italian sausage with some jarred spaghetti sauce to serve with some of Wegmans new Super Pasta.  It's pretty nice out here during the day right now, but it gets cold at night, so that will be a nice, comforting dinner.  Actually, before I head out to the gym, I have to clean out the freezer.  I have some frozen diet meals from the last century that I need to get rid of to make room for all this good stuff!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dear Body, You are awesome. Thanks for the great workout! Love, Mary

This is what I tweeted 1/3 of the way into my workout this morning:

 Mary Casey 

Just did 30 min. on the ArcTrainer. Moving on to the StairMaster & will finish up on the elliptical-all machines I was scared of 6 mos. ago!

And that is a true story.  Six months ago, I was going to the gym and using the treadmill and only the treadmill.  I was planning to turn myself into a runner via the C25K program.  And I was steering clear of all the cardio machines there, except for an occasional turn on the recumbent bikes.  My, how things have changed.

Back in June, I decided to climb on the elliptical to see how that would go.  And it went well, which was amazing to me because the last time I had been on an elliptical, during my gym orientation, which was at least three years ago, I thought I would die on the elliptical after less than five minutes.  Since that day in June, I have continued to progress on the elliptical, using the different programs to change up my workout.  I have added the ArcTrainer in pretty regularly, and this week, I got on the StairMaster for the first time since my early- to mid-20s.  And I am loving challenging myself and enjoying some variety in my cardio workouts.

This morning, I did 30 minutes on the ArcTrainer, 30 minutes on the StairMaster, and 30 minutes on the elliptical, and it was AWESOME!  I burned over 1000 calories, I sweat BUCKETS, and I felt amazing at the end!  I tried a similar workout earlier this week and actually overdid it, in that I got lightheaded and queasy on the elliptical, I think from hypoglycemia.  I had eaten about 900 calories at that point in the day, and once I burned 900 calories through exercise, my body revolted.  I took care of that today by taking a cue from distance runners who use gels in their runs and eating a Larabar after I was 2/3 of the way done with my workout.  It was PERFECTION.  I felt strong to the finish.

When I was done, I was so proud of my body.  I have been working hard, and it shows when I can get through a rather intense workout like that.  I am certain not up there with elite runners or anything like that, but this is such progress for my former couch potato self, and it was so amazing to feel so strong at the end of my gym session.  And even when my eating is not going as well as it could be, this was a great reminder that the gym is still there for me, and exercise can still feel great!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Long time, no...well, hear from, I guess.

Hello!  I am still here!  I have been struggling a bit YET AGAIN on a plateau, but I am feeling good!  I refuse to believe that my current weight (anywhere from 231 to 234 pounds is my body's "happy weight," but I have not really been seeing the scale making drastic progress in the downward direction.  Of course, I also have not been quite as "on" with the healthy eating (and that has manifested itself in me not being particularly "on" with my blogging), but I have made some progress in the past few weeks.  And the healthy eating will come back...I just have to recommit to it.

I do have to share that I do think that my whole "Mary as a Math Problem" idea has shown some real merit.  In the first two weeks after I put that plan into action, I did lose weight.  I had been hovering at a higher-than-recently 234.5 pounds, and after one week, I was down to 232.5, and the next week, I went down to 230.5, which was the lowest weight I have seen in a while.  Now, after a weekend of excess (beer at some friends', cake at a birthday party, night at the bar, tailgate before a football game), I am no longer at that lowest weight, but it's okay because I know getting back there will be no problem.  I didn't eat/drink 14,000 extra calories, so some of the four pounds hanging on right now are not true pounds.  Getting back on track should get rid of those quickly enough.

And now I have something else to share.  I have decided to apply to be the next priorfatgirl!  This is a contest put on by a blogger I really enjoy who is a prior fat girl (her words, not mine).  Jen lost 100 pounds through improvement in her eating habits and dedication to exercise.  She is offering other bloggers who are working their way toward health the opportunity to join the list of priorfatgirls out there whose only connection to their fat jeans is as a memento that shows them how far they have come.  I have decided to put my application out there because I want to put myself out there.  I don't know that I will be chosen to be the next priorfatgirl, but just sending in my self-nomination is enough for me.  It will be a confirmation to myself that I am DOING THIS (even if the scale this week doesn't really agree)!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wherein I geek out about the Polar FT7...this will probably get boring.

Suffice to say, I really, really love having a heart rate monitor!  I have been using it to turn myself into a bit of an algebra problem, and I have had some surprising results!  Initially, as detailed in my last post, I planned to do four days of "all day" wears of the HRM to gauge my calorie burn.  I was planning to do one day at work, one day at home all day, one day at home with a normal gym workout, and one day at home with my yoga/pilates class as part of the day.  In thinking further about this, I decided that two days would actually be work day and one home day.

The first day was Saturday, which was a day that I worked my usual 12-hour shift as a nurse (I work in the NICU, for those who don't know that already).  I put the HRM on in the morning when I got up and took it off when I felt myself falling asleep that night.  I ended up wearing it for sixteen hours total, and I then gave myself an estimated calorie burn (100 calories per hours) for sleeping the other eight hours of the 24.

I didn't have any real idea what the results of this little experiment would be.  Recently, I have been cutting back on the calories I was eating because of this plateau I have been on, and I figured that this might confirm that this was the way to go.  I did some quick math to decide that a 500 calorie deficit per day should result in roughly one pound of weight loss per week, with a 750 calorie deficit leading to 1.5 pounds and a 1000 calorie deficit leading to two pounds lost.  I sort of thought I would burn somewhere around 2600-2800 calories in 24 hours on a workday, and this would lead me to aim for 1600-1800 calories of intake per day for a 1000 calorie deficit.

Well, I was a little off there.  I did burn about 2600 calories (2640, to be exact), but I burned all that during my 16 awake hours.  On a day like that one, eating 1600 calories resulted in an 1800 calorie deficit.  NOT enough food!  A one-way ticket to "starvation mode," really.  It was shocking to see, but I was so glad to have that information!  Based on that day, I have decided that my calorie goals for a workday will be about 2400 calories.  That is roughly a 1000 calorie deficit, so even if I am overestimating the calories I burn while I sleep (which is information I found on several different websites, so I tend to believe it's close to the true amount), I should have plenty of a deficit to lead to weight loss.

In further thinking about measuring my calorie burn on a non-work day, I decided that I would wear the HRM for eight hours to get an estimate of my calorie burn per hour while hanging out at home, and then I would double that to allow for 16 hours of awake time, still allowing for eight hours of sleep at 100 calories per hour of sleep.  After seeing how many calories I burned during my workday, a lot of which involved spending time sitting at a computer and charting, as well as sitting by my patients' bedsides for a good portion of the day, I really thought I would see some major calorie burn, even at home.  However, I spend a lot of my time at home sitting, either on the bed while watching TV or reading or at a table with my netbook open in front of me.  And the results of those eight hours really showed how different that is!

In eight hours this morning, I burned, according to the HRM, 867 calories.  Doubling that and adding in the 800 calories for eight hours of sleep suggests that I burn as my base on non-work days roughly 2500 calories in 24 hours.  This is more what I was expecting for my base calorie intake!  Allowing for a 1000 calorie deficit leads me to aim for a 1500 calorie intake as the base on my non-work days.  Going with this plan, I will also eat back most, if not all, of my workout calories on these days.  Today, I burned about 750 calories during about an hour and ten minutes of cardio (including cool downs and transition time from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical), so adding that to the 1500 calories led me today to aim for 2250 calories of intake for a 1000 calorie deficit.

So there's my plan.  I am going to aim for about 2400 calories per day on the days that I work a 12-hour shift, and I am going to aim for 1500 calories per day, plus the calories I burn in my workouts, on the days that I don't work.  I am hoping that this will jump start my weight loss and start me on a downward journey once again.  I am finding that it is a little difficult to hit these calorie goals for me so far because I am so used to restricting myself throughout the day, but I am sure this will get easier.  I am going to continue to try to clean up my eating as well, which will definitely help.

The only other question I had for myself is what I would do about these calorie goals once I started losing weight.  I decided that I would take some cues from the Weight Watchers program on this one.  Back in the day, when I first did the Points program on WW, every time you lost 10 pounds, you ate 2 Points less in calories each day.  Assuming each Point is equivalent to 50-60 calories, I am going to lower my calorie intake goals by 100 calories per day for each ten pounds I lose.

It feels so good to have a plan that has some sort of concrete information behind me!  I am a little concerned that I might find myself gaining a little weight as my body gets used to getting more calories, but I am feeling confident that my body will start dropping weight again soon.

I have also started setting some fitness goals, but this post has gone on (and on and on and on) for long enough, so those will be saved for another day.  Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Next Level

After talking about it for months, I finally went and bought a Polar FT7 heartrate monitor (HRM) today!  I am so excited because I love gadgets, and I had high expectations.  I am happy to say that the HRM met all my expectations and then some!

Set-up was a breeze, and I tried out the chest strap at home to make sure I knew how to use it.  The strap is for sizes M to XXL, and it looks like it can be adjusted to fit a variety of chest sizes.  And it was easy to position.  I pushed the start button on the watch, and after a moment, it indicated that my heartrate was being measured!  I turned it off then because I didn't need to measure my calorie burn for lunch eating and internet surfing, but I headed to the gym soon after lunch to test it out during a workout.

The first surprise I got was when I climbed on the Cybex ArcTrainer at the gym.  The HRM was able to sync with the machine so that my heartrate was displayed up on the monitor.  I loved that!  I didn't have to keep looking down at my wrist to see what my heartrate was, and this made it so easy to stay in a target zone.  I was trying to stay at the top of the cardio zone, and I was able to achieve that without much problem.  I was dripping sweat from the intensity of the workout!

After I had done 30 minutes on the ArcTrainer, I climbed on a Precor elliptical.  And once again, my heartrate came right up on the display on the elliptical!  I was so excited about this because it meant that I could keep track of where my heartrate was on the elliptical and work to the level that I needed to stay again at the top of the cardio range.  I definitely worked harder on the elliptical than I usually do, and I felt it!  After a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes (including cooldowns and transition time), I had burned 739 calories!  I am so excited to have a concrete number for my calorie burn because it will help me figure out how many calories to eat back on the days I work out.

I was interested to see how the HRM measured my calories vs. how the cardio machines at the gym do.  On the ArcTrainer, I put my weight in before working out, and on the elliptical, I put my weight and age in.  Neither asks for gender.  It turns out that the ArcTrainer was overestimating by quite a bit how many calories I was burning, while the elliptical was underestimating by a small to moderate amount my calorie burn.  The science nerd in me is super excited to have the HRM to tell me exactly what I am burning at the gym and at my yoga/pilates class as I work toward my fitness and weight loss goals.

My plan for the upcoming week is to wear the HRM one day when I am at home for the entire day, one day when I am home for the day and then have yoga/pilates, one day when I am home for the day and go to the gym for my usual workout, and one day that I am working my 12-hour shift at the hospital, all for all my waking hours (I will estimate 100 calories per hour burned while I am sleeping, based on some information I have found online), in order to get an idea of how many calories I burn during the day in all of these instances. This will give me concrete calorie goals for 1.5 pounds of weight loss a week...and here's hoping it will get me off this plateau I have been on!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Back in the right direction...

Today, when I stepped on the scale, I weighed 233.5 pounds!  That is the lowest I have weighed on this new scale, and it's represents a total of 41 pounds lost!  Earlier in the week, I was weighing in at 237.5 pounds (Hello, water weight!), so this is represents movement in the desired direction!  Look out...I am BACK!

This was a very stressful weekend at work...perhaps the most difficult stretch of time I have had at work since I became a nurse.  I let that stress get to me in a way that manifested itself in fast food for dinner on Saturday and Monday nights on my way home from the hospital.  On Saturday, I stopped at Sonic for a cheeseburger and cheese tots, and on Sunday, I stopped at Sheetz and ate cheese fries and a Cuban flatbread.  On both days, I stayed within my calorie goals for the day (because I didn't really have time during the day to eat as much as I usually would have), but there is no way that I should have been eating that stuff at all, let alone at the time of day I was.  Grocery shopping is scheduled for Thursday (after I get paid), so it's time to fill the house back up with healthy, whole, clean foods so that there is something to eat at home on nights like that.

Last night, I started a new yoga class with a different instructor (due to the fact that my previous instructor didn't have a class at a location that worked for me).  I really like the new instructor, and once I get used to the difference in the class, I know I will really like it.  It's an integrated yoga and pilates class, and it was definitely a challenge!  However, I also found during it that I could do things that I didn't think I was able to!  For example, one things we did was start from downward dog, lift one leg as high as we could behind us, and then swing our knee through our arms to do directly into pigeon pose.  I didn't think there was any way I would have the upper arm strength to do this, but I was able to do it without a problem!  I also was able to go from pigeon pose back into down dog without a problem.  Both pose changes were challenging, but they were not impossible for me!  I also found that I was able to go directly from cobra into down dog by just lifting my hips back, without going through a hands-and-knees position first.  It was the first time I tried that, as I assumed I couldn't do it, so this was a great feeling!  When I started taking yoga a year ago, I could not even do downward dog for very long because my strength was so bad, and now it is one of my favorite poses!  Love it!

Today, I am heading back to the gym for the first of three cardio days I have planned this week.  I don't go back to work until Saturday, so I am planning to spend some time with my friends the elliptical and the arc trainer for these three days.  At my gym, we have two different ellipticals.  We have one type that has an adjustable crossramp, which also has fixed arms.  I have usually used this one because I was not a big fan of the arm motion on the elliptical, and there were some interval workouts that I liked that varied both the slant of the crossramp and the tension on the leg motion.  Well, a few weeks ago, because I was watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" while on the arc trainer, I decided to use the elliptical directly behind the arc trainer I was on.  This elliptical had the moving arms, but it had a fixed crossramp.  I assumed the programs on it would be similar, but instead I found a sort of random program that involved some major changes in the resistance on leg motion.  It was SUCH a challenge, to the point that at some portions of it, I could not move my legs through the motion very quickly at all, and the next day, I had plenty of soreness in all my leg muscles.  I also felt soreness in my arms from keeping my arms moving on the handles for most of the workout.  This gives me some new plans for my elliptical workouts because I thought I was being challenged more by the other type of machine, but it really wasn't true!

I think I have officially become an enormous gym nerd after that paragraph.  Oh, well...make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

What's the hurry?

I am a big fan of instant gratification.  There is just something so great about setting a goal, working just a little bit, and achieving it almost immediately.  Unfortunately, weight loss is not an instant gratification sort of thing.  Nope, losing weight is all about delayed gratification.  And this is why it can be so frustrating.  It's natural to want to make changes and immediately see the results of those changes.  Unfortunately, with weight loss, that doesn't really happen.

This is what I keep reminding myself as I hang out on this little bit of a plateau that I find myself on.  I have lost about 40 pounds in the last seven months.  Unfortunately, at the six-month mark, I had also lost...about 40 pounds.  Hmmm...another month in and not much to show for it on the scale.  However, I have kept up my healthy habits.  I have continued working out.  I have even challenged myself by adding the arc trainer to my routine at the gym.  I have realized that running isn't for me right now (thereby listening to my body), and I have replaced the C25K program with other cardio exercise that I enjoy.

When all is said and done, my ultimate goal is to lose about 100 pounds.  When I started out, I had no idea how long it would take to do this.  I sort of had a pipe dream that it would be a year-long effort, but I didn't really know this.  It was just sort of an idea that I had floating around in my head.  I know now that it will take longer than that.  And I think I should want it to take longer than that because the longer it takes, the most realistically I lost it.  And the more realistically I lose it, the better the chance that I will keep it off.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I have read a couple of blogs where weight loss of 100 pounds took two or even three years.  And I am starting to think that I have been measuring myself up against an unrealistic goal.  Therefore, for now, I am going to stop thinking of things by way of time, and I am going to start looking at the little progresses I make each day.  If it takes me two years to lost 100 pounds, then that is the right amount of time for me.  If it takes three years, that is still the right amount of time.  The important thing is reaching my's not all about how long it takes me to get there.  And this is something I have trouble remembering because I want it to happen NOW!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Getting the word out...

My husband often listens to me with only one ear when I start talking
about my topic of the moment. I tend to be a complete information
whore (info ho'), so when I become interested in a topic, I spend a
lot of time reading about it and thinking about it and talking about
it. I am sure it gets to be repetitive and a bit boring.

My topic of the moment recently has been the importance of unprocessed
and organic foods in the human diet. After reading 'Animal, Vegetable,
Miracle' and watching 'Food, Inc.,' I began paying more attention to
where my food is coming from and, as a result, where my husband's food
is coming from. I have focused more on local than on organic where
produce is concerned, but once winter hits, I will go organic as much
as possible. I have put a lot fewer processed foods in my shopping
cart. I have bought only organic chicken thighs from Wegmans,
grass-fed beef from Wegmans, naked pork chops from Stew Leonard's
(during my best grocery shopping trip EVER during my visit to my
sister's, and Applegate Farms turkey burgers that came from Whole
Foods during that same visit to CT. And my sister was in PA this
weekend and brought me a new box of turkey burgers because my original
supply has been depleted.

This is a lot of background to an entertaining story. Today, my dear
husband asked me to look up for him something he saw on PBS late last
night. It was all about how cows are not made to eat corn and how corn
fed cows give us meat and milk that is higher in cholesterol than meat
and milk from cows fed a grass diet. Eureka! He's late to the party,
but he's finding it out! I told him that we were eating only organic
or humanely-raised meats, and he was a little surprised, but happy, to
hear this. He approaches this plan from a health standpoint, instead
of the health/animal love standpoint that I do, but the important
thing is that he made it there.

Regarding food and fitness, I am doing better, although still a bit
hit-or-miss. I went to a retirement party today and enjoyed some cake,
homemade truffles, and chips. But I am feeling good about things and
expect to see the scale moving in a downward direction soon.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Sent from my mobile device

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

Monday, August 23, 2010


I have been in such a funk with this health and fitness thing lately.  Part of it was situational, as I discussed in my last post.  But part of it has just been lackadaisical.  I find myself more often falling back into those behaviors that got me to this place in the first place.  Why have just one cookie when you can have four or five?  Why eat the healthy lunch you brought to work when you can order Chinese food with your coworkers?  Why eat healthy at the picnic when everyone else is pigging out?

It's time to recenter and recommit.  Every item that goes in my mouth goes in the food journal.  Every calorie is accounted for.  There is no more "It's one piece of chocolate, so it doesn't have to be counted."  Everything counts.  I have to remember my mantra, "I am WORTH IT!"  I am worth looking good and feeling good.  I am worth those more expensive fresh fruits and vegetables and the organic meat and dairy products.  I am worth the clean foods.  I don't have to settle for processed foods and sugar and HFCS.  I am worth more than that.

I head back to yoga tonight, and I think that will be good for me.  I was off for two weeks because I had concert tickets and then was in Florida for my grandfather's funeral.  I look forward to spending that hour getting into my head and quieting the noise of the outside world.  I am going to stretch myself to the limit tonight, and it's going to feel great.  And then tomorrow, I am getting back into the gym.  I did work out twice last week in the hotel, but I haven't been to my gym, to get on my elliptical and my arc trainer, in over a week.  I am looking forward to our reunion, and I know that will feel great too.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Blah. Also, yuck.

Out of the last three weeks, I have been out of town for three days of two of them.  First, I had my fun visit to my sister's, and then this week, I was in Florida for my grandfather's funeral.  As always happens when I am out of town, there was a lot of restaurant food in both of those trips.  I have already talked about what I ate in Connecticut, and at the end of that trip, I was up about five pounds on the scale.  Well, this week, after some fast food in the airport, snacks on the plane, dinner out at a barbecue restaurant on Monday, lunch and dinner out (at Nancy Lopez's restaurant at her country club in The Villages and at TGIFriday's), lunch at a deli yesterday (big sandwich, but no fries, but a black and white cookie), and plenty of wine (the four of us split four bottles in two days, and I also drank at both dinners out), I am up about another five pounds.  For those doing the math, I am currently about ten pounds higher than my lowest weight recently.  Not good.

I did work out both days in the hotel on the elliptical, which was good.  And I did drink a lot of water while I was away.  I am now back on healthy eating lockdown and off to a great start today.  I can't wait to get back into my normal routine and watch these pounds melt away (and take some friends with them!).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vacay (part 2)!

Because West Hartford really seems to me to be a foodie paradise, I wanted to devote a special post to the food that we ate while I was on vacation.  This will veer off the healthy path a bit, as it involved desserts and also Chipotle, but it was an amazing couple of days of food!  The first night I was there, we went to MAX Burger, which is a gourmet burger place.  I had a burger called Miss Daisy, which was a beef burger with brie, applewood smoked bacon, apple honey Dijonnaise, lettuce, and tomato on toasted brioche.  I also had sweet potato fries.  My sister had a lobster burger, along with onion rings.  We split the two sides.  We also got an Oreo ice cream thing for desserts that involved homemade Oreo ice cream, chocolate cake, and a whole of of yumminess.  And we also each enjoyed a glass of wine (Chardonnay for her and Sauvignon Blanc for me)!  However, my favorite thing about MAX Burger was this statement on the menu: "MAX Burger proudly serves all-natural Niman Ranch Certified Angus beef. We share their mission to provide humanely raised, environmentally-sustained animals, using no antibiotics, no pesticides, and no added hormones."  Ah, see, I came back around to a topic common on this blog.  Humanely-raised meats in a restaurant setting = my Nirvana.

The next day, we went to Chipotle for lunch.  I had never been, and it was pretty fun!  The food was yummy, and it was a fun experience.  I also enjoyed seeing on their menu information on their Food with Integrity focus.  From their website: "Food with Integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment, and the farmers."  And this is a major national chain!  If they can do this, why can't all the other chains?  Anyway, I had the burrito bowl with the barbacoa, and my sister had a burrito bowl with the carnitas.  We split chips and guac.  I am glad I don't have Chipotle too close to home because I can tell I would crave it often, and I am sure it is not a healthy everyday option.

And that night was the big birthday dinner for my newly 30-year-old sister.  After our great experience at MAX Burger, we chose another restaurant in the MAX Restaurant Group, Max's Oyster Bar.  We were looking for something a little more high-end to celebrate her big birthday without veering into stuffy, and this restaurant really fit this bill!  We started off with Peach Bellinis, which were yummy, and we had as an appetizer a family favorite, fried calamari.  Whenever we go out to dinner, calamari is certain to be on our table...we just love it!  The dipping sauce, along with the red pepper flakes on top, made this calamari stand out as some of the best I have had.  The dipping sauce tasted of ginger and lime, among other things, and it was so yummy!  For dinner, I had a lobster dish that had the lobster resting on a mound of homemade mashed potatoes and some fennel and sitting in a cream sauce that almost reminded me of the flavors of a very good lobster bisque.  My sister had a fillet mignon for the main reason that it came with grits as a side.  She doesn't like to share that she was born in the South too often, but her love of grits gives her away!  We also split two desserts.  One was a banana cream pie, and the other was a blueberry pairing, which had blueberry buckle with blueberry sorbet, along with blueberry compote with lemon curd.

Of course, the morning after this big meal, we were feeling the overeating and took a nice 2.8 mile brisk walk around town to stretch our legs and get some exercise before I got in the car to head home and she got in the car to head to Philadelphia to continue her birthday celebration!  It was such a nice visit, however, and I can't wait to go back again!  My sister is such a great inspiration to me, as she lives a very healthy lifestyle, and she is also a great friend because she listens to me ramble on and on about any of a variety of topics that I may be considering at any time.  She also gives great advice, and I love spending time with her!  I never would have guessed, back in the day when I used to hang "KEEP OUT!" signs on my door, that we would be so close one day, but I am so happy to have her in my life.

Next on the health and fitness agenda is the purchase of a Polar heart rate monitor, which I am probably going to pull the trigger on this week.  I am choosing between the FT4 and the FT7 now, and I am not sure which way to go.  I really only want it to track my heart rate and calories burned throughout the day to better direct my workout efforts and my eating goals.  The FT7 has some extra features that I probably don't need, but it's only $20 more expensive, which seems so minimal.  I had decided on the FT7, but I am now leaning toward the FT4.  Clearly, some more research needs to be done before I make the actual purchase.  I am trying to cut back on my spending, so the cheaper one is probably the better option.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Vacay (part 1)!

Last week, I was able to spend three days out of town, visiting my
sister who lives in West Hartford, CT. Since I live in a rural area
and West Hartford is a suburb to a relatively large city, there were
some things there that I don't have in PA. Among other things, this
included Chipotle, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods. It also includes a
grocery store called Stew Leonard's and a great restaurant scene. Yes,
most of the trip did revolve around food. Hence the seven-pound weight

First, let's talk about the grocery shopping. Our first stop was Stew
Leonard's, which promises "farm fresh foods." For those unfamiliar
with Stew's, it's sort of set up like an Ikea. You go in the entrance,
snake in one direction through the store, and hit the checkout and are
then ready to exit. Stew's has lots of great produce, a large fish
counter, amazing-looking prepared foods, meats, cheeses, pastas, and
dry goods. They don't stock every possible brand of every item, but I
could easily do all my grocery shopping there. My favorite thing at
Stew's, however, was their line of "naked" meats. These are meats that
are humanely raised in low stress conditions but are not organic.
After my <i>Food, Inc.</i> experience, I have only been buying meats
that purport to be from animals raised humanely. For the most part,
this means I have to buy organic (read: expensive) meats. These naked
meats fill an important bridge between sticking with my values and
breaking my bank. I wish a grocery store around here (I am talking to
you, Wegmans!) would offer such an option!

We also went to the more well-known Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. This
was my second time at TJ's ever, and it was my first trip to WF. I
live about an hour and a half from my closest locations of these
stores, and I don't make a trip like that for groceries. At TJ's, I
got some of their amazing dried fruit, as well as some frozen items.
At WF, I grabbed some heirloom tomatoes, Justin's Honey Almond Butter
(I can only get single serving packets of Justin's Nut Butters around
here), Larabars (the new flavors!), and bulk steel cut oats (over 3
pounds!). I headed home with two coolers full of food, and we will be
eating well for a while!

Next time, I will share about what we ate while I was in CT. Make it a
great day!

Sent from my mobile device

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Back on the wagon (yet again)...

For the past two or so weeks, I have been having a GOOD TIME with
food. And this past week, I went to the gym a grand total of ZERO
times. So the "eat less, move more" thing? Not so much for the past
two weeks.

In the past, this would be the point that I fell off the wagon, gave
up the weigh-ins, and gained back all my lost weight and more.
Clearly, I do NOT want this to happen, so this morning I weighed in.
And my weight was 235.6 pounds.

Yuck. Also, ouch.

At mt lowest weight, I had been somewhere just under 229 pounds. And I
CELEBRATED being under 230 the point that I am NOT
anymore! This means the past two weeks of "fun" have led to almost a
seven-pound gain.


In my defense, I was visiting my sister Wednesday through Friday, and
we ate at three restaurants together (one of which involved my
first-ever Chipotle visit and two of which involved dessert), and I
made a Mickey D's stop on my way home. Therefore, I think I may be
carrying a bit of water weight. However, I know full well that I am
not carrying almost seven pounds of water weight. There has been some
true weight gain there.

I am back on track, starting today. Make it a GREAT day, everyone!

Sent from my mobile device

"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tap, tap, this thing on?

It has been two weeks since I last posted on here, and I am sure that this poor blog thought it had once again been abandoned, as it has several times in the past.  However, I am still here!  I am still doing my thing.  I am still firmly on my journey!  My weight is up a bit, mostly due to some hormonal fluctuations, as well as one night of drinking some fun frozen drinks (the alcohol/PMS bloat double whammy was not kind to me on the scale), but today I stand here fully committed to working to reverse that trend on the scale!

I have decided that if I want to become a runner, I have to realize that all the time in the world on the elliptical will not make me into one.  I restarted the C25K program today, and I started with W3D1.  I had made it to W4 last time around, but I decided to step back a week because I wanted to try going a teeny bit faster.  I have been comfortably walking on the treadmill at 3.7 or 3.8 MPH for the past few weeks, and I wanted to make my goal for the walking portions of the program to be more in line with that speed.  When I started C25K, I was running at 4.3 MPH and walking at 3.3 MPH.  Now, part of my cool down is done at 3.3 MPH, so it seemed silly to have any of the main part of the workout be that slow.  Today, I did the run portions at 4.5 MPH and the walk portions at 3.7 MPH.  The walking still felt a little "easy" to me, so I might kick it up to 3.8 MPH tomorrow.  However, the little difference in the speed of the running portions was a nice challenge, and I am going to stick with that for now.  When (note I said "when," not "if") I finish the full program, I will work on increasing my speed a little at a time.  My goal is really only to run at a 5 MPH pace until I am closer to my goal weight.  Once I am leaner, I feel my speed will probably naturally pick up.

I did overdo today, however.  After my 30 minutes on the treadmill (including my C25K workout and an additional two minutes of walking), plus a five-minute cool down, I got on the elliptical for twenty minutes of intervals plus a five-minute cool down.  When I was done, I felt AMAZING.  Tonight was my yoga night, and I was really looking forward to that as well.  However, tonight was my first intermediate yoga class after a year of beginning yoga, and although I didn't expect there to be much difference in the two (it's the same instructor, and she has progressed us over the course of the year, so the beginning yoga class has become more challenging as time has gone by), this class was MUCH more challenging that the old class was!  It's a hatha yoga class, and the main difference, I think, was that we held the poses for much longer, and I felt some amazing burning in my muscles in some of the poses that will surely lead to soreness tomorrow.  I don't think I will be doing an hour of cardio on my yoga days anymore...I will stick to either the treadmill or the elliptical for about a half hour and then let the yoga class finish out my workout.  I am excited about being challenged in my yoga practice, however.  I have seen a major difference in my strength and flexibility over the past year, but I still have a long way to go.  It was time to move on to a new level, and I am so happy that our usual instructor is offering this new class!

The eating has, for the most part, been going pretty well.  I gave up fast food for the month of July (I was also supposedly giving up retail spending, but I failed in a major way thanks to some coupon codes that came my way), and I have not broken down on that at all, which has been huge for me.  I have had some food out, but none of it has come from a drive thru.  I have had Wawa sandwiches a couple of times, and I have had Saladworks a time or two, but I have not had McDonald's, Sonic, or Chick-fil-a since June.  I have also been enjoying the abundance of local produce out there.  We have some farm stands very close to our house, and I have enjoyed exploring to see what they have.  I have also been buying organic or local or (preferably) both at the grocery store, and I feel so much better about what I am putting in my body.  Two favorite purchases this week were organic strawberries and cherries at Wegmans...I devoured them both in three days time.  I am also excited that the local tomatoes are ready...I enjoyed a tomato with balsamic vinegar as a snack today, and it was amazing!

Those of you who read my sister's blog should know that she has a birthday coming up in two days, and it's a big one!  I am not able to be with her for her 30th birthday, but I am going up to visit her the following week for a couple of days.  She lives somewhere that has both a Whole Foods and a Trader Joe's, and I am planning to head up there with my entire grocery budget and a cooler and stock up on a few things.  I mostly want to look for some organic meats, as I am having trouble find easily accessible options here.  Wegmans was carrying organic chicken thighs that I was enjoying (and they were only $4.99 per pound, which wasn't breaking the bank), but they have not had them the last few times I was there.  I will be so sad if they are gone forever, as they were my major meat source!  I might have to break down and order the expensive organic chicken that one of our local farmers offers in partnership with another farmer she knows.  She takes the orders and gets the chicken delivered to her farm, and people pick it up from her.  I would probably have to up my food budget a bit at least one pay per month to cover the cost, however, as you have to buy in larger quantities, and it's not cheap!  It's such a balancing act to decide if you just want to cut back on meat altogether or just pony up the money for this stuff!

Alright, if you are still reading, I commend you.  I hope that everyone is having a great week!  And as always, remember to make it a great day!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The End of the Challenge

For about the last ten weeks, I have been taking part in a Biggest Loser-style challenge set up by a friend-of-a-friend here on the Internet.  It has been interesting to be working toward a goal like that, and I thought that my competitive spirit would really drive me in my efforts over those ten weeks.  Interestingly, while I did well the last ten weeks, I wasn't quite as obsessive about is as I thought I would be.  And I think that's a good thing because I am looking for lifestyle changes that I can live with in the long term, and making some sort of crazy efforts for ten weeks really might have led to some burnout.

Anyway, here are my stats for the challenge:

Starting weight - 249.8#
Final weight - 231.8#

In ten week, I lost exactly 18 pounds!  I was pretty happy with this, especially since I had a week of no loss and a week with a small gain.  The final results have not been posted yet, but I expect to be somewhere in the middle of the pack, which means I won't win any money.  However, I feel like I won in that I stuck in for the entire challenge and met with some good success!

I posted a "before" picture here when I started the challenge, and for reference, here it is:

And here is the "after" picture that I posted on the challenge board:

All the lumpiness is there in the same places, but I can definitely see that I am narrower across the beam.  I was happy to see such a difference in the photos because sometimes it's difficult to notice such differences in the mirror from week to week.  I think I might plan to take another picture in another ten weeks to gauge my progress.

I am setting some new goals for myself in the gym.  As I detailed here, I started the C25K program a while back to try to get back into jogging.  After about six weeks doing the program (during which time I completed the first three weeks twice each), I went on the elliptical one day and then never looked back.  However, my original goal was to become a runner again, and I don't want to lose sight of that goal.  At the gym yesterday, I got on the treadmill to see if I could run a mile.  I made it a half mile and then stopped, although I probably could have pushed myself to go longer.  I did follow it up with some speed walking and was on the treadmill for a total of 24 minute, after which I got on the elliptical for 33 minutes.  In all, it was a great workout, and I want to keep doing this so I can build up my running endurance.  I might pick up week four of the C25K program at some point, but for now I am just going to hit the treadmill before the elliptical each day and see what I can do.  Once I get to a mile, I feel like I can keep adding time and distance without following an interval program.  If I find this to be untrue, however, I have C25K to fall back on and will certainly get back to it.

Yesterday was a day of excess, with two picnics on our agenda.  I definitely enjoyed myself, but I am definitely ready to get back in the swing of things.  I started the day my making a big pot of steel cut oats for the week, and after I eat some of that and let it sit for a bit, I am headed to the gym.  Because I had yesterday off for the holiday, I have to work two weekdays this week, so my gym schedule will be messed up a bit.  I want to get in a good workout today for that reason.  Our yoga class doesn't meet tonight either because of the holiday, so I am planning to do a yoga DVD today to replace the class.  It should be a full day!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


When you are working on losing weight and hit a bit of a plateau, you hear a lot of this: "Well, you will probably see a large weight loss at some point to make up for it!"  And when you are on that plateau and can't see to the edge of it, this is small comfort, especially if you are doing EVERYTHING right.  I have been honest in saying that I have been a bit more lax in my eating recently, and I attributed some of my plateau to that.  However, I am working out more consistently and for more time than I ever have, and I sort of thought that would make a difference.

Well, it turns out that those people who recommend patience are right.  This morning, I weighed in at 232.2 pounds, thereby being rewarded with a weight loss of 3.4 pounds this week!  I am now PAST the 40-pound mark in my weight loss (42.4 pounds to be exact), and I feel AMAZING!  After a couple of weeks of playing around with the same couple of pounds (some of which might have been water weight and some of which might have been my body adjusting to my workout regimen), I am moving down on the scale again.  I now weigh less than I have at any point since my husband and I got married about 3 1/2 years ago.  Previously, my lowest married weight was 235 pounds, which I achieved after several months using Weight Watchers.  I have also more than lost the 35 pounds that I gained while in nursing school, and that feels great as well!

A personal victory this week was that someone at work who I never expected to comment on my weight loss (one of the doctors I work with) asked if I had lost weight, complimented my progress, and told me I looked noticeably thinner.  He is very busy the entire time that he is at work, and the fact that he both noticed and thought to mention it to me made me feel really good.  My coworkers have all been very supportive of my efforts, and it's so great of them to encourage me so much.  My mom and sister have also been great sources of encouragement, as has my husband.  I am fortunate to have so much support!

Another personal victory this week is that I got rid of several pairs of jeans and other bottoms that I can no longer wear because they are just too big.  Most of them were size 20, although I had a couple of 22s mixed in there as well.  I am still wearing some of the stuff I have in size 20, either because it is cut smaller and still fits fine or because I haven't purchased a replacement yet, but I am quickly heading into 18s exclusively, which is a size I have not worn since being married.  Today I ordered a replacement for a pair of boyfriend jeans that I loved, and I actually ordered an 18 and a 16 because I am afraid that they will be discontinued before I get down another size.  I will stick those on a shelf and use them to gauge my progress toward size 16!

I am continuing to love the elliptical at the gym, and I am going to be on the lookout for a Rodney Yee DVD to supplement my yoga practice at home.  I have a beginner yoga video by him that has 20-minute workouts in it, but I would like something a little longer.  I don't often do yoga at home, but since I haven't been lifting at the gym, I would like to utilize yoga for some strengthening.  Our class last night was AWESOME and really worked both my arms and legs (our instructor was at a yoga conference over the weekend and brought back to us some new stuff she learned), and I would like to use that more.

Tonight, some friends and I are going to see the new Twlight movie at midnight, and we are going out to eat first.  I am really looking forward to it!  I never would have thought I would be going to see a movie like this at midnight on opening night, but after reading them (we were big fans of the books in the unit I work in) and seeing the first two movies (the first on-demand and the second also at midnight on its opening night), I am totally hooked.  And a girls' night out is never a bad thing!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mitigating the damage...

This weekend was a study in excess.  I spent Friday at the Relay for Life, and there were lots of great foods available for purchase.  I enjoyed pizza, pulled pork, cookies, pastries, and some chips.  I also walked ten miles.  I figure it was a good trade-off, and I drank plenty of water.  We do the Relay for Life every year in memory of our friend Lisa, who was our manager at Bath & Body Works.  She passed away a little over three years ago, at the age of 30, from metastatic breast cancer.

I spent Saturday at work, and we ordered out for lunch.  I had an enormous and yummy taco salad.  And my sister was in town to celebrate Fathers' Day, so we had dinner at my parents'...steamers, YUMMY prime rib, mashed potatoes, and asparagus, all cooked by my dad, who is a great cook.  Weird that he had to cook his own Fathers' Day dinner, right?  It happens that way every year, so he's used to it by now.  We also had some cookies for dessert.  Sunday, I got back on track with my eating, for the most part, but I did enjoy both breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria at work, and it is so much harder to keep track of what I am eating that way.  All three days involved a lack of vegetables and fruits, which is something I have been doing much better on.

As often happens when I have a weekend like that, when I got on the scale yesterday, I was showing a weight gain!  The scale showed a four pound weight gain, but since I didn't eat 14,000 extra calories over the weekend, I was well aware that it wasn't true weight gain.  A weekend of excess often ends with a weight gain that is only temporary, as the body recovers from the treats that were given to it over the weekend.  I got right back on track yesterday with eating and spent 45 minutes on the elliptical and then went to yoga, and this morning I was back down to within 0.4 pounds of what I weighed on Friday morning.  And as much as I expected that to happen, I was really relieved!

I know that some people who are reading this are visiting my blog because my sister Alissa pointed you my way, and I want to thank you for stopping by!  I know that a lot of her readers are users of the P90X system, and my fitness pursuits certainly do not add up to that, but I hope that you enjoy hearing about my efforts.  Perhaps I will one day check out P90X as well, but for now, the gym and yoga are doing it for me!  I have set as a long-term goal on my "Bucket List" the running of a half marathon.  However, my goal is to do that by the time I am 40, and I turned 34 this year.  Therefore, I have some time to work on that.

My efforts in the coming weeks are going to be to get fully back up into the saddle.  I have once again hit a bit  of a plateau, in that I have been playing with the same two pounds for the past two weeks, but I know that some of that is because I have been a little lax in the eating department.  I also have ramped up my workouts considerably now that I have discovered my love of the elliptical, so I am expecting that my body is having to get used to the extra workouts.  I have plenty of great, fresh, clean, whole foods, a plan to hit the gym the four days each week that I am not working, and the resolve to get that scale heading back down.  I can't wait to celebrate the resuls!

I am thinking about adding some running back into my regimen in the next couple of weeks.  I have started exploring some of the programs available on the elliptical, and this week I have been doing an interval program on it that varies the intensity of the workout.  I noticed today that my heart rate was getting up to the same level as it was when I was jogging and that I was sustaining that heart rate, and while I was winded, I was able to do it.  Next week, I might hit the treadmill one day to see what kind of effect the elliptical workouts have had on my running ability.  As much as I am enjoying the elliptical, I do eventually want to work toward being a runner, so I will continue to test myself out on occasion to see what I can do.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another scale that is on its way down...

Before I eat a little breakfast and head out to the gym (All weekend I have been counting down the hours until I could get back on the elliptical.  It's like aliens have taken over my body.), I thought I would talk a little bit about what I discovered at the end of last week.  I was sharing some information on an on-line message board about basal metabolic rate and how to calculate your daily calorie needs.  In doing so, I started to think about my BMI.  When I started this journey, my BMI was 43.  That is in the "morbidly obese" category (over 40), and it was horrifying.  When I think of someone who is morbidly obese, I think of someone who can't get out of bed, who weighs so much that they can't walk up and down stairs, who can't hold their arms down at their sides because the fat gets in the way, who can't buy their clothes at normal stores.  I don't think of myself at all.  However, the numbers on that scale told me I was morbidly obese.  And quite honestly, I was a bit ashamed, and once I read that label, I never went back to a BMI calculator because I didn't want to feel that way again.

I recalculated my BMI last week, and it was gone down SIX points to 37.  Now, I am still obese (Class II), according to this measurement.  However, I am no longer morbidly obese, and I feel so great about this!  I shared some goals in an earlier post that I am working toward, so let's look at what my BMI will be when I reach those goals.  When I reach my goal of being the lowest weight I have ever been since getting married, I will still have a BMI of about 37.  This is only 1.6 pounds away, and it is so close that I can taste it!  I am hoping this happens this week or next week!  When I reach my goal of being the weight I was when I joined eDiets (221 pounds), my BMI will be 34.6, which will shave me down just into Obesity Class I.  And when I hit my goal of 200 pounds by my 35th birthday, I will still be in Obesity Class I with a BMI of 31.32.  But I will NEVER AGAIN be morbidly obese.  I refuse to let that label take back over my life.

I take all this BMI stuff with a grain of salt, really.  I know that the vast differences in body types means that a BMI calculation might not mean a lot.  I know I will never be a size 2.  But as I work toward being healthy (and losing weight in the process), the BMI measurement is a tool that I can use, along with the scale, to gauge my progress.  It isn't an indicator of my success, as I consider every day that I get up and eat less and move more and make good decisions for the majority of my day to be a success.  But progress is sweet to see, and I can't wait to see more of it.

Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hello, endorphins!

I had a Moment in my car today on my way home from the gym that involved a big smile breaking out on my face as I said out loud, "Dude, I am DOING THIS!!!"  I used the elliptical for FORTY-FIVE minutes at this gym today, along with a five minute cooldown, logging over three miles distance on the thing and burning over 400 calories.  The rush I felt from this accomplishment was amazing.  I feel like I can take on the world today.  When I think back to about eight weeks ago, when I started exercising, and I think about the fact that I could not even complete the W1D1 workout of the C25K program, climbing off that elliptical after 45 minutes of fairly intense physical exertion makes me so proud.  I am doing this.  After being defeated by food and a sedentary lifestyle for the past 20 years, I am taking on this challenge, and I am ROCKING it!

I stopped at Wegmans this morning for some groceries and am pretty excited about what I got.  I grabbed some organic, grass-fed steaks to make for me and my husband for dinner tonight.  I also got some organic white potatoes and sweet potatoes to enjoy, both of which will be cut into chunks and roasted tonight for dinner, as well as some organic, free-range chicken thighs, which were only $4.99 per pound, much better than the $8.99 per pound they were charging for chicken breast.  Honestly, we like dark meat better, so I will continue to buy this.  I also explored the Nature's Marketplace section a little more to see what they had to offer.  I was excited to see some organic Feta, organic raw milk cheese, and other organic dairy products.  I also picked up a container of siggi's Icelandic style skyr strained non-fat yogurt.  This is similar, I guess, to Greek yogurt, in that it is non-fat, high in protein, and thicker than regular yogurt.  After giving this a try, I have to say that it will not be taking the place of Greek yogurt (Chobani is my favorite.) in my diet.  It was quite a bit more expensive, and it was also quite a bit thicker.  And it was a lot more sour.  One of the things I like about Chobani is that it is a fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt.  The siggi's didn't have actual fruit pieces in it, and I felt like that took away from it for me.  But it was great to try something new, and I might eat it once in a while when I want to mix things up a bit!

Anyway, just wanted to check in and share my excitement.  Make it a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Continuing to explore my options...

So let's recap where I am on this journey.  I am a fat-girl-getting-slimmer who, until a few months ago, bought all the food she ate either from a traditional grocery store, a drive thru, or a restaurant (or the cafeteria where I work).  In January, I started out on a journey to lose weight and live a healthier life.  In April and May, I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and started to become more interested in where my food came from.  On my 34th birthday (April 29), I made my first trip to a relatively local (although large and year-round) farmers market to buysome organic eggs and local chicken.  In May, I watched Food, Inc., and the way I thought about the meat I was eating changed forever.  And June finds me doing a lot of research on local sources for the foods I like to eat, with every day bringing me more information that can bring me closer to my goal of ethical eating.

Of course, old habits die hard.  I am still drinking flavored, calorie-free, sparkling water sweetened with Splenda, along with some Crystal Lite.  I am still eating fast food on occasion, as well as buying lunch in the cafeteria at work.  Last night, I went out to dinner with my husband's family, and I didn't ask where the milk for the cheese on my pizza came from.  And once in a while, I still buy some processed foods, although I do pay more attention to the labels on the foods, and I don't buy some of the crap that I used to.  My go-to food is a flour tortilla or tostada shell with cheese melted on it.  Eventually, I may learn to make my own, but for now, the store-bought ones work just fine.

However, for the most part, I have really cleaned up my diet.  I am buying and eating local produce, and I am really enjoying it.  I am eating a lot less meat than I used to, mostly because I have not yet found a lot of meat sources that gel with my requirements for meat.  The closest I have gotten is the grass-fed beef and organic chicken at Wegmans and Weis, which is what I am using for now, as I further explore my options.  Thanks to the Eat Well Guide, I have a new farmers market to check out next week (and this one is a producer-only local market, unlike the larger farmers market I mentioned, which sells things out of season that obviously were shipped in from elsewhere).  And I have a couple more farms to check out that seem to sell dairy and some meat options.  My biggest local challenge, it seems, will be a pork source.  My husband and I eat a lot of pork chops, so finding them locally and humanely-raised would be great!

The biggest thing for me in the beginning was price.  When I can get regular boneless, skinless chicken breast for $1.99 or $2.99 per pound at the grocery store, it is hard to stomach spending $10.75 per pound on local, organic, free-range options.  I just don't have the money in my budget to do that.  However, the reality is that chickens are born with bones in them, and maybe they need to come into my house in the same way.  Maybe I need to make whole roasted chickens more often.  Maybe I have to eat more chicken thighs.  Maybe I have to learn how to clean a whole chicken breast (which will require a lot of touching of raw meat, which is not my favorite thing to do) to stick to these principles.  I can do that!

We already don't eat beef that often, so I can certainly splurge once in a while on grass-fed, organic options.  And I don't even use ground beef that often, so switching that over will be easy as well.  So far, I am adding an extra $50 per pay to my grocery budget and seeing if that different picks up the slack.  If I have to jack that up a little more and make some cuts in other areas (say, my Old Navy and Target budgets), it will be worth it to feel good about the meat I am eating and knowing that the animals were respected throughout their lifespan.

Regarding exercise this week, I have not been going to the gym everyday.  Just keeping it real here.  I did go to the gym Monday and used the elliptical for the first time in YEARS.  When I joined this gym, the trainer had me try out the elliptical, and I lasted for mere minutes before being defeated by it.  I decided to try it again this week (I have belonged to this gym for about three years, and it has been about five years since I was last able to do the elliptical for any length of time), and I was able to use it for 30 minutes, plus a five-minute cooldown!  I felt amazing when I climbed off of that thing, although all my leg muscles were quivering!  We also had a great yoga class Monday night, so when I woke up yesterday, and my calf muscles were feeling like big, sore knots, I decided to take yesterday off from the gym.  When I woke up today, my left calf felt much better, but the right one was still pretty sore.  I have a busy day planned today, so I am giving it another day of rest and heading back to the gym tomorrow for a good workout before heading into work for three days.  My goal is 45 minutes on the elliptical tomorrow.  I know I can do it!

And at my last weigh-in (Monday), I found that I am down another 1.8 pounds, now weighing in at 237.8 pounds, for a grand total of 36.8 pounds lost!  I celebrated by putting all of my XXL scrub pants in the donation bag and going to buy several new pairs.  I now can go to work wearing pants that don't look like clown pants!  It's an amazing difference!  I believe that my lowest weight since getting married was somewhere in the neighborhood of 235 pounds, so I look forward to seeing that number on the scale.  And back when I got out of college and joined eDiets, I weighed 221 pounds, and I look forward to seeing that number on the scale as well, although I know it is a longer way off.  Most of all, I look forward to celebrating my 35th birthday next year at a weight of 200 pounds or less.  Sometime in the early 2000s (maybe 2001), I used Atkins to get down to a weight of 185ish pounds, but as soon as I started eating regular foods again, my weight shot back up.  I have been out of college for 11 years now, and that is the only time my weight was really under 200 pounds (maybe one other time after a bad break-up, but that was also fleeting).  Thinking about this stuff makes me wonder what I was thinking all those years.  I was probably thinking that beer and bar food tasted good!  But farm fresh produce tastes good too!

Make it a great day, everyone!