“Some days getting out of bed and changing out of my pajamas is about all I’m able to do. This is not beneficial to my mental health, but I am trying to cut myself some slack and let go of the guilt of resting as much as I need to.”
After the last couple of posts about my health issues it probably won’t surprise you when I say that I’ve taken a break from the 6-week fat loss challenge. At some point last week I decided that being so strict with my food choices and having to post pictures of every meal and snack was more than I can handle right now. I’m exhausted and stressed all the time and I realized that I need to give myself a break in certain areas. There’s no use making myself crazy over something that’s not absolutely essential. Instead I’m going to focus on getting healthy and back to my normal, more energetic self. That doesn’t mean I’ve started hitting the Del Taco drive-thru on a regular basis again, though. I am endeavoring to stick to my new, healthier eating habits that I’ve been establishing over the last five weeks, with a small change here and there to make it more manageable. I did go to McDonald’s one day last week, but that was my weekly cheat meal. I’ve made enough progress (albeit minor) recently that I don’t want to revert back to my unhealthy ways and end up right back where I started. That would only add to my stress and make me feel terrible about myself again. Not worth it!
So for now, instead of worrying over the things I’m not doing, I’m trying to focus on some recent successes. They may be small, but they are most certainly steps in the right direction. Last week at boot camp one of our strength exercises was inverted rows, which have never been easy for me in the past. However, this time I was able to complete half of each set in a fully inverted position, with my back completely parallel to the floor. How’s that for progress! I was surprised, but super proud of myself. Obviously going to the gym three days a week consistently for the past six months has been paying off. I did have to take a step back, making the rows easier, in order to finish the set, but I’m OK with that. Also, I find myself reaching for heavier weights at the gym. In the same class as the inverted rows I was using an 88 lb kettlebell for deadlifts. I know that’s not a lot for most people, but it’s much more weight than I used to be able to comfortably deadlift. And I appreciate deadlifts because they have been strengthening my back, which makes just about every other exercise safer and easier. At a boot camp class later that week we did farmer carries (basically just walking across the room, slowly, with heavy weights in each hand) and I was able to hold a 53 lb kettlebell in each hand. It felt like my arms were about to pop out of their sockets, but I made it all the way across the gym floor and back! That’s a huge step up for me considering what I used to be capable of. I am certainly reaching for heavier weights almost every time I go to boot camp. I never thought I’d be able to use 20 lb dumbbells for chest presses, but I have done it more than once now, and I think I might actually try 25 lb weights next time! My running is also improving, albeit very gradually. In the spring I struggled to complete a 10-mile run (a distance that would have been easy for me at any point last year), but a few weeks ago I finished it with much less trouble. (And this was with the weather working against me. Summer in Los Angeles has been really miserable.) I have given up the idea of running a marathon this fall, mostly because I don’t want to train in the heat, but I have plenty of half marathons on my calendar to prepare for. My next one is in about three weeks. Yikes! While getting ready for a 10K last Sunday I had to tighten my hydration belt because my body shape has changed enough that it was too loose on my waist and hips. That certainly felt good! I don’t think I’ve lost much weight during this fat-loss challenge, but I am definitely seeing results in other areas. My final weigh-in is on Monday morning so I’ll find out the final verdict soon enough. I may not have lost the 20 lbs I wanted to, but I think I’m on the right path.
Week 3 of this 6-week fat loss program has been rough. Due to work stress and crazy hormones I’ve been fighting a multitude of cravings, and losing those battles more often than I’d like to admit. This past week I’ve somehow justified impulsively purchasing a lot of unhealthy snack foods and then chowing down on them until the guilt finally sets in. It’s vicious cycle of self-indulgence and self-hate that I have to break or else I’ll be right back where I started a few weeks ago. (Not that it would be the worst thing to happen, but I’d rather not backslide if I can avoid it.) You’d think feeling crappy about myself would be motivation enough to stay away from junk food, but I guess not. Last Sunday I unwisely got on the scale (because my weight should not be my primary indication of success), but I surprisingly discovered that I had lost seven pounds! That was extremely encouraging, but it didn’t keep me from making poor choices. I’m pretty upset with myself, but I know there’s nothing I can do to change the past. All I can do right now is remember how good progress feels and focus on all of my short-term and long-term goals.
My first goal when I started this program was to be able to wear an older dress for a big meeting at work. For the first six months of 2018 I’ve mostly been wearing a single dress when I have to give presentations and people are probably starting to wonder whether it’s the only one I own. My professional wardrobe needs more variety, even if that only means I can wear some of my old dresses rather than buying a bunch of new ones. I only had 16 days to slim down enough to squeeze into a dress that was way too tight beforehand so I had no idea if it was even possible. I usually wear some high-waisted Spanx under my work dresses to help even everything out, but they are horribly binding and have a tendency to roll down throughout the day. I’m always pulling on them to keep them in place and that’s not something you want to be doing in front of your co-workers. So the week before the meeting I went to Target to look for alternatives. I settled on a waist cincher with plastic boning that will circumvent the pesky rolling down while smoothing out the lumps and bumps around my waist. I was skeptical that it was going to be the right solution, but I actually loved it! Unfortunately the dress I was hoping to wear for my presentation last Tuesday ended up still being slightly too small, but I was able to comfortably wear another old dress so I was still pleased. I had made enough progress in 16 days to fit into an old dress and I had found a foundation garment that made it look fantastic on my body in its current state. The waist cincher has its downsides, namely the boning sometimes poking me when I sit down, but overall I’m optimistic about its prospects for future work meetings where I need to dress up.
My next big goal is to wear something fabulous to a wedding reception in Portland, OR in less than four weeks. The reception is for a couple of friends who got married last year in a small ceremony, but are now throwing a big party for all of their family and friends. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve never been to Oregon before and going to this reception in Portland is a wonderful reason to visit for the first time. Also, I’m going to see a lot of my online friends (I wrote about them for the first time back in 2015) who are scattered all over the country. We love any excuse to be able to get together! We’ll see what dresses I can fit into before I head to Portland for the celebration.
That first week of the 6-week fat loss challenge I was 100% faithful to my plan and didn’t give in to even a single craving. (Except for my one allotted cheat meal, a turkey sub from Jersey Mike’s that I ate on Friday night as fuel for my Saturday morning 8-mile run.) I had almost no sugar at all, except for whatever amount that’s in my favorite salad dressing from the Greek restaurant that’s two blocks from my house. Their gyro salad is divine. This was undeniably a honeymoon period because the second week on the program I started to lose my resolve. I had some slip-ups in moments of weakness. My very first cheat was a pistachio-flavored Oreo Thin at work. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it. It was so overwhelmingly sweet that I didn’t enjoy it at all. It tasted like a mouthful of sugar and nothing else. At least I wasn’t tempted to have another one! The next day my diet transgression was a bit bigger. I was working late for a big event and we had dinner catered from Boudin Bakery. I had brought in food from home so I wasn’t tempted by the sandwiches, the tomato soup, or the underwhelming salad. However, when I made the mistake of glancing at the dessert tray I saw an iced shortbread cookie that was calling my name. It only took a split second for me to decide that I was absolutely going to eat it. And it was so perfect and delicious that I regret nothing. So by the time the end of the work week rolled around I had only had those two minor deviations, but then the weekend arrived and it didn’t go quite as smoothly.
Comfort eating is a hard habit to curb when it’s been such a regular coping mechanism for so long. I was feeling hormonal over the weekend and not in the right frame of mind to make good choices. I decided to have my weekly cheat meal on Saturday night so I drove a half hour to Firehouse Subs and got my favorite sandwich. It’s always worth the extra time on the freeway. I enjoyed every bite of that Hook & Ladder sub (turkey and ham), but it wasn’t quite enough to curb my irrational cravings for junk food. On Friday afternoon at work someone left a bag of caramel M&M’s out and I foolishly tried a couple of them. Unfortunately they were delicious. I should have known better and avoided them altogether, but I just wasn’t thinking straight. So Saturday night, when I was slightly delirious and willing to do anything to get some sugar, I bought caramel M&M’s at Target. As it usually goes, I felt so happy and satisfied while eating the M&M’s, but I regretted my actions as soon as I was finished. I didn’t even make it through the whole bag before the guilt set in. I was mad at myself for being weak, especially since I felt like I’d been making progress already on this diet program. I vowed to do better on Sunday, but it ended up being another day of poor choices too. At the end of the weekend I was feeling pretty terrible, but I had to remind myself that a few slip-ups are not enough to undo two weeks of hard work. I have to remember to stop chastising myself because I’m an imperfect human with ups and downs just like everybody else. In the long-term these healthy changes I’ve been making will pay off!
“I’m calling it a clean-ish diet because I’m eating a wider variety of foods than Whole30 allows (like cheese and beans), while still keeping my focus on meat, fruit, and vegetables. And after two weeks I’m starting to see some real results. I wish I’d made this change sooner!”
4/15/18 webpage post
Remember in April when I said I had established a clean-ish eating routine? Well, I’m sorry to say that it only stuck for about three weeks. I was anticipating seeing the number on the scale drop dramatically while I was not only eating appropriately, but also exercising regularly. However, when I got on the scale after three weeks I had actually gained weight. It was infuriating. Shortly after that I went to Las Vegas with my running buddies for the Mt. Charleston Half Marathon and ate all sorts of unhealthy things while I was away from home. I had lost all motivation to continue my clean-ish eating and I went right back to my old ways, including fast food, sugary soda, and sweets. Comfort eating at its finest. Shockingly, this didn’t make me feel any better about myself. In hindsight it’s easy to see that only short-term satisfaction can be gained from comfort eating, being rational is not my strong suit when I have cravings. After falling off the wagon I wallowed for a couple of months, but then my workout buddy and I came up with a new plan of action. We decided to sign up for a 6-week fat loss challenge at our gym because both of us needed some structure to help us succeed. We had been working out very consistently since February, but the eating portion of our weight loss journey was much harder to figure out. We definitely needed both sides of the coin to make progress.
So I’ll be you’re wondering how it’s going so far, right? Well, the 6-week program started on July 9th. Today is July 22nd. That means I’ve been dieting for 14 days. Just 14 measly days, but it seems like much, much longer. This has already been a journey and a half and we’re only one third of the way through the program! I’ll write more about that later this week, but for now I’ll leave you with a few key points. On the plus side, I have significantly increased my protein and vegetable consumption which I know is good for my body. Also, I have ingested minimal sugar in the last two weeks and I feel pretty great about that. Unfortunately, my resolve fades a little with each passing day. Every evening I crave a dessert of some kind or another, and Larabars (my “healthy” sweet snack of choice) just aren’t cutting it on that front. Hopefully once I start seeing noticeable results of all this deprivation I will be more inclined to faithfully follow the rules. Until then I’ll continue doing my best (with a few stumbles here and there) and hope for the best!
For Easter I baked a blueberry pound cake using my favorite cream cheese pound cake recipe. It was incredible. Fortunately for my already too large waistline I only ate one piece before giving the rest away at Easter dinner with friends and the next day at work. But that was the last day that I allowed myself such indulgences because my clean-ish diet started on Monday, April 2nd.
I finished my original Whole30-ish experiment on October 30th of last year and things went downhill after that. (Honestly, I didn’t do too badly on Halloween with the chili cook-off at work, but that was the exception. I’ll admit I did have a piece of the pumpkin sheet cake that I made, though.) I wouldn’t recommend going on vacation right after ending a diet to anyone who wants to maintain their weight loss or other personal gains. And then came the holidays. So many seasonal temptations, and therefore excuses, for slipping back into old, terrible habits. Celebrating holidays with food is such a powerful tradition. Our Christmas dinner consisted of turkey and all the trimmings, plus my mom’s insanely delicious chocolate cake. She also made her famous peanut butter bars which are nearly impossible to stop eating once you’ve started. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The first part of 2018 was tough. I got the flu, had to cancel my vacation, and really suffered mentally and physically after that. In order to maintain some semblance of pleasure I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted during this time. There were very few fruits or vegetables on my plate in those days. And then the influx of Easter candy in the stores was more than my last bit of willpower could possibly handle. I wasn’t in a good state of mind for a while. Fortunately things started to look up in February. After I started exercising regularly again with my running buddy, which had such a healing effect in every aspect of my life, I knew I needed to make a positive change in my eating habits as well. No more burritos after boot camp class! So I took my inspiration from my Whole30 experience last year and overhauled all of my meal and snacks. I started bringing homemade lunches to work, stocked my kitchen with only healthy snacks, and found the best nearby restaurants to get take-out salads. Today is day 14 of my diet and I feel fantastic. I’ve had few minor cheats, and a couple of intentional ones (specifically, when I need more carbs for running), but for the most part I have stuck to my plan. I’m calling it a clean-ish diet because I’m eating a wider variety of foods than Whole30 allows (like cheese and beans), while still keeping my focus on meat, fruit, and vegetables. And after two weeks I’m starting to see some real results. I wish I’d made this change sooner!
‘Twas the night before Halloween and the last day of Whole30(-ish)! And the people rejoiced! Actually, my current mood is pretty frazzled getting ready for the chili cook-off. I’m still looking forward to all of the excitement of tomorrow, but I would be even more enthusiastic if I didn’t have a sink full of dishes to wash, a to do list a mile long, and a suitcase I still need to pack for my pending vacation. And my house is a wreck too. So basically the typical state of things during the holiday season! I should just get used to my life being like this for the next two months. It’s certainly not a bad thing. I’ll gladly take a little disruption in my normal routine in exchange for experiencing my favorite time of the year. All I can do it try to enjoy the festive chaos to the fullest extent possible.
I celebrated both the arrival of Halloween and the departure of my month-long diet experiment by baking a pumpkin sheet cake when I got home from work (while watching the traditional October fare – “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “Hocus Pocus”). I didn’t eat any of it because it’s for the chili cook-off, during which I will sample a wide array of desserts that have been off-limits to me for the last 30 days. For most potluck scenarios I would make an always crowd-pleasing chocolate sheet cake, but Halloween requires something more specialized. I know pumpkin spice has fallen out of favor recently, but it’s still a surefire winner when it comes to baked goods. I’ve made this pumpkin sheet cake before, specifically for the chili cook-off back in 2013, but that recipe included cream cheese frosting. This time I topped the cake with a white glaze (the frosting portion of my white Texas sheet cake) because I wouldn’t have to refrigerate the whole thing that way. Finding space in the fridge for such a huge pan would have been challenging. I also added some Halloween sprinkles (pumpkins and witch’s hats and brooms) for good measure. I’m sure it will be delicious, like so many other things at the chili cook-off. I’ll have a full report tomorrow.
I have so much more to say, but it’s extremely late and I need to go to sleep ASAP. I hope everyone has a lovely Halloween!
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with hot dog slices (cleaning out my fridge!)
Snack #1 – Apple, cashews
Lunch – Carnitas, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage
I’m sitting on my couch watching Game 5 of the World Series right now and I’m exhausted. It’s been such a busy day, but I feel like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough. I currently have a few more dishes that need to be washed before I go to bed, but I’m just about done with everything that I can fit into this weekend. And I actually crossed a lot of things off my to do list, but there is an alarmingly large number of untouched items too. Today started early because the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles half marathon kicked off at 6:45 AM in Downtown LA and I had to meet my running buddies at an ungodly hour in order to get there in time. Luckily the race itself was great, even if I ran it at a fairly slow pace. In spite of the many hills on the course I felt strong for the entire 13.1 miles, which was wonderful. And the weather was so perfect. Cloudy, cool, and even dense fog all over Los Angeles. After the completely out of character heat wave last week I will cautiously declare that fall has finally arrived in Southern California. Just in time for me to leave town on Wednesday, of course.
My other major achievement of the day was making my traditional batch of chili for Halloween. Traditional in the sense that I have chili every October 31st, not that I make the same recipe every year! I had some time on my hands this afternoon because I decided not to go to work today after hurting my foot during the half marathon. Fortunately it seems to be much better this evening. This year’s chili cook-off entry has three different kinds of pork – bacon, ground pork, and carnitas. A friend of mine suggested the name Three Little Piggies chili and it’s perfect! I honestly haven’t eaten any of it yet, but if it tastes as good as it smelled while it was simmering then I think my co-workers and I are in for a treat. I’ll let you know how the chili cook-off goes this week.
Speaking of food, on our way back from the half marathon this morning my running buddies and I stopped at Starbucks for a late breakfast (around 11 AM). Since there are only two days left of my self-imposed diet, I intended to stick to it as much as possible today (with the exception of Sports Beans and Pedialyte while running), but I was really hungry after the race. I scarfed down a Starbucks breakfast sandwich (sausage, egg, and cheese) in record time and then washed it down with a small hot chocolate. Not at all diet-friendly, but my body desperately needed fuel and it all tasted amazing. When I got home I started keeping track of my meals for the day, but it ended up being an underwhelming list and I deemed it not worth sharing. As hungry as I was after running 13.1 miles, I strangely didn’t eat a lot after that Starbucks meal. I’m trying to clean out my fridge before going on vacation so for dinner I had a salad with some leftover chicken and whatever veggies I found in my crisper drawer. Delicious, if not exciting. Tomorrow is my last day of this Whole30-ish experiment so we’ll see how well I can stay within the diet parameters with the end in sight. I’m hoping to finish strong!
Halloween is three days away and, as of this morning, what you see in the above photo was the extent of my 2017 decorating endeavors. Pathetic! Honestly, I haven’t been able to enjoy October as much as I’d like so far. It’s been a busy month at work, race season and training are kicking into high gear, and my Whole30-ish diet has been sucking up every remaining free moment. There just hasn’t been enough down time for me to relish the holiday season. Along those lines, I was supposed to go to work for a while this afternoon after running with my Galloway group and then picking up my bib for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles half marathon at the convention center (in dreaded downtown LA) this morning. But after I got home, showered, and started doing some of the usual weekend chores around the house, the day pretty much got away from me and it was 5 PM before I even thought about work. And then it was time to watch Game 4 of the World Series! So I decided to stay home for the rest of the day and decorate my house for Halloween. Right now I’m sitting on my couch, watching the Dodgers and Astros, and basking in the glow of my jack-o’-lanterns. The perfect late October night, especially with the blessedly cool weather. Work will have to wait until at least tomorrow. But then, in addition to the half marathon in the morning, I have to make a pot of chili for our annual chili cook-off at work on Tuesday. I did a lot of prep today, including slow cooking a pork roast (I’m trying something different this year), but it will still take at least a couple of hours to complete the process tomorrow afternoon or evening. Let’s just say it’s going to be a busy day.
Speaking of cooking, I did quite a bit of it today – broccoli, carrots, and sweet potatoes – all healthy components of the meals I’ve been eating this month. It’s funny to be making so much food when my vacation starts on Wednesday (I’ll write more about that later), but I needed to make a lunch for Monday, and then the rest is going into the freezer for when I get back. Having diet-friendly foods at my fingertips will make it easier to avoid the pitfall of fast food as soon as I get back to Los Angeles. Just so you know, today is another one of those days where I won’t be sharing my meals. It’s safe to say that I ate more than my fair share of carbs (mostly in the form of bread) in preparation for the half marathon tomorrow morning. I felt pretty terrible running only three miles today with my group so I knew I needed more energy to run 13.1 miles tomorrow. Let’s hope it works!
It’s finally Friday and I couldn’t be happier. This week has been long and stressful. Working the 5 AM to 2 PM shift at work makes eating, sleeping, and exercising difficult, and the heat wave made everything nearly unbearable. Luckily the weather has cooled down to almost fall-like levels just in time for the weekend. Today’s high was more than 30 deg cooler than it was on Tuesday and it felt like heaven. I ran 5 miles tonight and I realized that this will probably be one of the last times I wear my running shorts this year. (Although I’ll probably need them in Florida next week, but that’s another story.) At least I hope I’m right about that. Right now I’m watching Game 3 of the World Series and the Dodgers are struggling. I’m sacrificing watching tonight’s episode of “Once Upon A Time” (still my favorite show) to watch baseball. Thank goodness for DVRs. It’s getting late and I still have to wash some dishes tonight (lots of cooking = so many dishes), but then I need to get ready for my Galloway group run tomorrow morning. My weekend is going to be extremely busy, but I can sleep in until 6 AM tomorrow! What a treat!
As far as meals go this week, we had catered food at work everyday due to a big event that was happening. However, the food came from our on-site cafeteria so that probably sounds better than it actually was. But when you’re tired and stressed, like I was all week, it was very difficult to avoid the foods I’m not supposed to be eating this month. Like garlic bread sticks and chocolate chip cookies. But by some miracle I managed to stick to my diet except for the one morning I woke up late and had to resort to eating a cafeteria breakfast sandwich because I didn’t have time to make anything at home. Other than that I successfully brought my own delicious, Whole30 compliant breakfasts and lunches with me to work. Not too shabby. The end of this 30-day diet experiment is almost here and I want to finish it as strong as I can. (Except for tomorrow when I’m going to eat a lot of carbs in preparation for the Rock N Roll Los Angeles half marathon on Sunday morning.) Three more days!
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs with hot dog slices (so delicious!)
Snack #1 – Apple
Lunch – Salad with shredded chicken, red onion, yellow bell pepper, shredded carrots, nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage
It’s Thursday night and I have dishes that need to be washed, laundry that needs to be folded, and a tomorrow’s lunch that needs to me made, but instead I’m here I am on my couch watching “Star Trek: Discovery.” This show annoys me, but not in the way you might think. As a huge Trekkie I was thrilled to hear that a new series was in development. It seems like forever since “Enterprise” was on TV and, except for the new movies that basically rewrote the original timeline, that was the last taste of Star Trek that we’ve had since 2005. I have I admit that there is already an abundance of fantastic television shows for nerds like me these days, so much so that I can’t keep up with all of the series I’d like to. I’ve tried really hard not to add any more shows to my “must watch” list this year, but for new Star Trek programming I’ll make an exception. But then came the unfortunate news that with the exception of the premiere episode, “Discovery” would be available only through the CBS All Access app and that viewers would be charged to stream the episodes. So frustrating! At first I declared that I would never pay to watch a show, even of the Star Trek variety, when cable already has so many great ones that don’t cost me anything extra. However, I still DVRed the first episode of “Discovery” when it aired on CBS on September 24th. Much to my chagrin I LOVED IT. Compelling female protagonists, cool spaceships, an exiting story, and crazy plot twists – what’s not to love? So I grudgingly signed up for a CBS All Access account so I could watch the rest of the series. Every week since then I’ve been equally captivated and annoyed because this is such an amazing show. It’s everything I wanted new Star Trek to be, but I hated having to pay for it! As much as I hate shelling out an extra $5.99 per month, it’s money well spent for this level of entertainment. So this overwrought explanation leads me to tonight, watching “Star Trek: Discovery” (and then “After Trek” with Matt Mira) on my iPad while writing this blog post when I should be getting ready for bed. Not only money well spent, but time well spent (even if I know I won’t get enough sleep before my 5 AM shift at work tomorrow).
Breakfast – Scrambled eggs and breakfast hash (sausage, butternut squash, onion, spinach, and apple)
Snack #1 – Apple, Larabar
Lunch – Carnitas, roasted broccoli and carrots, and roasted diced sweet potato
Snack #2 – Banana with almond butter
Dinner – Tomato soup with Italian sausage