Speaking of Inspiration….

This is from the post on sophieologie.com, I think it kind of says it all.

This is from the post on sophieologie.com, I think it kind of says it all.

Once again, some great stuff was sent over to me from Julian. I love, love this blog post on sophieologie.com. I want to excerpt from it, but you really just need to read it yourself in its entirety  By the way, the original has some strong language so if you prefer a PG version, she has a link to that too.

Just go read this now:

This Trendy “Strong is the New Skinny” Thing (and what it could mean for the next generation of girls)

You can thank me later.

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A New Source of Inspiration.

Yes! Love this!

Yes! Love this!

My boyfriend, Julian, has a friend who has recently started working out. She liked the “Ripped Goddess” page on Facebook and it caught his eye so he clicked over. It’s a page dedicated to working out and fitness, but it has a great vibe. It is very inclusive and has a lot of motivational catchphrases like the one to the right here I took off her page.

It might not be for everyone – there are quite a few photos of ripped abs, and I understand that may not be everyone’s cup of tea – however, I found a lot of it really inspiring. I loved how many of the photos people posted of themselves were “Before” and “During.” During, as in a work still in progress. With as many fans as the page has, it looks like there are a few trolls in comments, but I just skipped over that and instead enjoyed looking at the photos. It’s starting to help me figure out what I want for myself.

I’ve said before that my goal is to be “fit.” That’s what appeals most to me. I love the idea of having a strong physique – not necessarily bodybuilder strong like some of these gals – but being able to lift and carry with ease. And I have to say, the women that I see on Ripped Goddess are so much sexier than the women I see in fashion magazines!

I’ll add this – I was so inspired by that little quote up there, that even though I had to run around like crazy on my lunch hour on Monday, I still managed to get in an extra 20 minute walk on my lunch hour. I went to five different stores trying to get everything done, then flew back to the office, parked the car, and went out and power walked. I have a busy week this week and I am trying to get in any extra exercise any way I can. It felt great, and since it was unseasonably cold, but bright and sunny, I could really hustle without sweating much (important when you have to go back to the office!)

I am going to leave you with one more bit of inspiration I got from Ripped Goddess. This one really struck home:

Loving Me

Hot Run, Cool Location

River by Thomas's Pics

Doesn’t this look cool and pretty?

Run Thirteen

They say one of great things about spring in the Midwest is that you can get frostbite and sunburn in the same week. Ha! It’s true. Run Thirteen took place on hot, sticky day. A couple of people in my office knew I was running that day and they looked at me incredulously, “You are running today??”

Yep.

I mean, let’s face it – it is just going to get hotter. We aren’t even in June yet. I might as well figure out my strategies now. Each week I look at my calendar and pick out which days I can run. (I try to run 3 times a week, but it doesn’t always work out that way.) This was one of the few days I could go, so I was determined to get out – despite the heat.

I had a plan. I headed straight over to River Park. We’ve got a good-sized river that flows through our fair city and, naturally, a number of parks along it. River Park is not only is right on the river, but it is also quickly becoming a favorite place to run. I lucked out – though it was hot out, there was also a good stiff breeze blowing and coming off the water. It felt great! Not only could I run along the water, but there is also a bridge there with a nice sidewalk – I could even be on the river.

The run went really, really well. I am following a 5K training program, though at this point, I am not thinking about racing.* So, I am still running intervals, but getting stronger every single day. This run made me happy. It would have been easy to bail due to the weather, but instead it turned out to be a beautiful day. I am glad I did it!

And now I know a great place to run when it gets really hot this summer!

 

* I had to rephrase that sentence three times. The old me would have never, ever considered running a race. I went into running feeling that way, and that’s still how I lean. However, I am also trying to be really open to life’s opportunities. I spent a lot of time saying, “I won’t ever do that.” Now I am trying to be more open-minded. I’m trying to wrap my brain about doing things I never thought I would do: going to a gym, wearing skinny jeans, taking fitness classes… running! So, who knows what the future might bring?

 

Photo credit: Thomas’s Pics

The 24 Hour Myth of Weight Loss

Take Time to Decorate a Chicken Salad - French Clock Chicken Salad

“This chicken salad (!!) is decorated to look like a clock, with the hands set at the serving time.”

Since starting my own weight loss journey, I’ve been reading a number of blogs from other folks looking to lose weight. I keep hearing the same phrase over and over, and it goes something like this, “I had a really good day yesterday, but the scale didn’t change today.” There are a few variations, but essentially, there is an expectation that if we do something today (eat well, exercise, etc.) that it will pay off the next day.

Since this hasn’t at all been my experience, I started suspecting something was wrong with this line of thinking. It seems so logical on the outside – we do something, we sleep, and next day we see the effect. The truth is far more complicated.

Let’s start with eating. I had suspected that food stayed in our bodies longer than we thought, and in fact, I have proof. Now, I don’t mean to get too intimate with you, but I happen to love beets. And those of us who eat beets know when they are in our system, as they have the propensity to dye everything a rather vivid shade of magenta. This takes place over a couple of days, and that got me thinking. So, I did a little research (AKA looked it up on Google) and found an article on the Mayo Clinic website stating the average time for food to pass completely through the system was roughly 53 hours. There are some differences for men and women, and for the types of food you eat, but roughly, figure things take a couple of days.

So, let’s say you indulged on Monday, but decided to eat healthier on Tuesday. If you hop on the scale on Wednesday, you’re likely to still be seeing Monday’s splurge. Of course, that’s super simplified. Did you indulge on carbs? It might leave your system faster. Was it a big steak? It might hang out a bit longer. All of this is also effected by your own metabolism as well, so there just aren’t any guarantees.

I think exercise is the same way. I’ve read several books on running and on weight lifting and they all suggest that you want to give your body 48 hours to build muscle. That suggests that if you exercise your heart out on Sunday, you aren’t going to see a difference on Monday, which fits with my personal experience. In fact, a lot of times my weight goes up a bit after a run day because I make sure to drink water afterwords and stay hydrated. I may not see changes for a few days.

That’s why it may make sense to weigh yourself once a week – all this stuff fluctuates so much that people can get discouraged pretty quickly. Of course, if it is two days after “one of those crazy days” we all have, and you starve yourself before weighing in to make up for it, you might just end up really ticked off. You just have to keep everything in perspective.

As I’ve said before, I like to weigh every morning (just once a day at roughly the same time) and track it. I’ve seen patterns in my weight and that really helps me figure out what is going on. It’s never perfectly predictable, though. Sometimes I see changes 48 hours later, sometimes 36, sometimes not at all.

I think weight loss is a lot like investing in the stock market. The experts will all tell you that if you try to time your investments, you will ultimately lose money. The way to succeed is dollar cost averaging – basically putting in the same amount of money in, on a reliable schedule, all the time. You will get the highs and the lows, but over time, it works out for the best. With losing weight you have to do what works, and we all know what that is, right? You have take in few calories than you burn. What diet plan you use or what type of exercise you get doesn’t matter nearly as much as picking something that makes sense to you and sticking with it consistently.

Oh, and don’t expect changes the next day.

Photo credit: jbcurio

Food Absolutes

Delicious Bread by ci_polla

mmmmmm… bread

So, while poking around the interwebs, I ran across this article: Jane Says: Think Twice Before Hopping on the Gluten-Free Bandwagon. Here’s an excerpt I liked:

What we choose to eat is one of the most important and personal decisions we make. Consequently, I’m stunned and amazed at folks who think nothing of criticizing these decisions made by family members, friends, colleagues, or the individuals they meet in the Comments field of a website. Their behavior is extremely rude. And, unless you are seriously harming your health, it’s nobody’s business but yours.

Basically her point is that going gluten-free makes sense for a lot of people, especially those with Celiac disease and allergies. Cutting back on eating wheat in this over-processed age makes sense too, but when you get down to it, your choices are your own.

Incidentally, here’s another article by the same author on the same subject: Op-Ed: Going Gluten Free May Not Be the Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread.

I am not a food expert and I am certainly not going to dive into this debate. I post these more because I believe that, except in the case of serious illness, absolutes are awfully hard to live with. I’ve mentioned before that I am a planner, and I love rules, but there are rules… and then there are rules.

Being mindful about what you eat makes sense to me. Controlling the amount of what you eat, whether it’s the size of the meal or types of particular foods, makes sense to me. I can personally say that I have cut a lot of flour based products out of my life, but not because they make me feel bad, but because when you are counting calories like I am, they aren’t worth it. Flour tortillas, bread, pasta – for me most of this has been a vehicle to transport other items of goodness to my mouth. When I add up the calories, however, I am far better off with a burger sans the bun, or turning sandwiches into lettuce wraps. Nonetheless, I refuse to ban such foods from my life. Why?

Because I know me. If you tell me I can’t eat something, it will be the only thing I want. On the other hand  if I say, “Eat what you want – just track it,” I won’t feel that rebellious urge to “cheat.” And that’s really it isn’t it? If you set up rules you can’t live by, you will find a way break them. The trick is to find a framework that you can live with. For me, that’s the occasional dinner roll or slice of pizza. It’s the “no bad foods” rule.

Some friends of mine had asked me about my weight loss and this topic came up. When one of them made an offhand comment about not being able to give things up, I told her that I didn’t. I refuse to give anything up. She rolled her eyes and said “That sounds too easy, I don’t believe you.” It made me a little sad, and I never did get the chance to explain.

I wonder sometimes, with all the popularity of gluten-free foods, how long this trend will last. Some people are very good at giving foods up, but most aren’t. I remember the Atkins craze of awhile back. I understand the desire for a magic bullet, I really do, I just hope it doesn’t shoot people in the foot instead.

 

Photo credit: ci_polla

10 Tips – Reposted from RealFit Rx

Check out this blog post from RealFit Rx: Ten Tips for Surviving Fitness and Life: contains adult language. (And she isn’t kidding, if you are offended by four letter words, you might want to skip this one. If not, click over, it is a great read!) Here’s one of her tips that really hit me:

#2 Be true to yourself.

I have a restless soul. I love my freedom and every time I try to suppress that, my life starts to fall apart. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re molding ourselves into someone else’s ideal until one day we don’t even recognize ourselves. Be who you are and chase what you want. Keep running through the horizon. You will never regret it and make no apologies for it.

Yep. Exactly.

Future Plans

Goal Setting by lululemon athleticaSo, I have a confession to make. I am freaked out by the idea of weight loss maintenance. In theory it should be easy – just keep doing what I have been doing, but maybe eat a little more. Easy right? In actuality, it makes me quake in my boots.

I’m quite happy with where I am. I like the way I look, and I feel great. My instinct is to slow down a bit and settle in, but the problem is, I don’t know how. My friend Cee called me out on it the other day when I told her I had to tackle my maintenance plan. Truth is, I didn’t even think about it when I wrote it, but she pointed out that “tackle” might be a bit strong. I think it is just a sign of how I feel about it. I’m a planner, so for every goal, there must be a plan.

While I was out walking the dog last night I started thinking about why this bothers me so much. I mean really, there doesn’t need to be a new plan – I can just keep tracking, eating well, and exercising. I just need to weigh every day and make adjustments accordingly, right? So, why does it make my chest feel tight when I think about it?

I think there are two things going on here. The first is simply the fear of failure. I didn’t have this while losing weight because if I wasn’t able to do it, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t under doctor’s orders or anything like that. I simply made a choice to give it a try. If it hadn’t worked the only people who would have known would have been my sister, my boyfriend, Cee and you, blog reader. But us? We have an understanding you and I, I’m not afraid of failing in front of you. Now that I have lost 30 pounds, however, people can see it on me. It is going to be a lot more obvious if I gain the weight back – and let’s face it, we all know people who have been very successful in the losing category, but didn’t make it in the maintenance department. The dieter who loses weight, then gains it all back (and then some) is so common it is almost a cliché – and for good reason, it’s hard work. People with far more willpower, and far more resources, than I have lost this battle.

The other is: time. I want to keep this weight off forever and ever, amen. Well, I am turning 40 this year, so if I live until I am 80, that means setting a goal for another 40 years. That is the length of my current lifespan… I can’t even wrap my brain around trying to set a 40 year goal! The numbers are just too large and life is just too variable.

While thinking about that span of time, a solution came to me. Instead of trying to set goals “for the rest of my life,” I am just going to set a year-long goal. I started losing on January 15 of this year – so, my goal is simply: Keep the 30 pounds off through Jan. 15, 2014. Once I thought of that, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I immediately felt better. On May 15th, (just to keep things nice and tidy,) I am going to change the settings on My Fitness Pal. Then I am simply going to focus on my little seven month goal. Maintaining for seven months seems so much easier than maintaining for the rest of my life. (bum bum BUM…..)

It’s possible, of course, that I will lose more – who knows? I will probably bounce around a bit. I am not going to try to keep my weight on an exact number. I’m still figuring things out and still learning to run, which will, undoubtably, cause some changes. All I am going to do is work hard at keeping what I have lost off until my anniversary in January. Once I do that, I can set a goal for the next year – whatever it may be. It feels completely doable – and yet, there are still enough challenges in there (holidays, anyone?), to keep things interesting.

Here’s the other benefit that I thought of as I was writing this – keeping focus is hard. Keeping focus for forty years, or even five years is hard. Keeping focus for seven months is not quite so bad. I think by shortening my goal, I’m making it easier to keep it in mind. That should help make it a little easier too.

So, that’s the plan. I got it off, now I’m going to keep it off, by gum!

Photo credit: lululemon athletica

Keep On Moving

x ray by marioanimaI just read a great article on Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty on the myths behind exercise and joint pain. If you are over 30, this is definitely worth a read: Aging and the Myth of Wearing Out Your Joints.

While I am nearly 40, I haven’t really thought about much about my age in relation to my joints. I’ve never considered myself an athlete, in fact, for most of my life I avoided exercise as much as possible. In fact, if I were to think about it at all, I think my joints are elated that I have taken off as much weight as I have. They have a lot less to deal with now!

But as a new runner, I keep hearing about injuries: how to avoid them, what injuries people have, all that kind of thing. It is almost enough to make me think twice about getting started. Reading this article though, confirmed that even with the risk of injuries and joint pain, you are better off moving than sitting still. I can do that!

Photo credit: marioanima

Well, This Isn’t Working

Run Twelve – 

Exactly.

Exactly.

Remember the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Well that was Run Twelve: the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. I know why though, and I know how to fix it.

The problem? I went for a run in my neighborhood. It happened on a weekend, and it always just seems easier to run right in my own neighborhood. You know, throw on the shoes and head out the front door. There is a problem, however, I get bored in my neighborhood. Not just bored, I get boooooooooooooooooooored.

I know my neighborhood like the back of my hand. Hermes and I have walked every inch of it. We’ve been down every side road, alley, and sidewalk. We’ve explored all the neighborhoods, parks and shopping districts. When he and I are walking, I kind of zone out and daydream. However, I am too new to running to be able to daydream properly. Instead I find myself thinking about the run – thinking way too much about the run – and my neighborhood doesn’t have enough interesting things to distract me.

That’s one of the reasons I like parks. They are safe, pretty, and admittedly, slightly monotonous, but not too much so. There are still interesting things to see. In a park, I am distracted – in my neighborhood, I am not.

So, Run Twelve didn’t go well. I found myself frustrated, angry and bored. I just had a great run a few days before, so I knew what was going on. I ended up power walking most of it and just chalking it up to a lesson learned. From now on, I am going some place to run. It doesn’t matter which park, I am going to go where I can enjoy myself. Maybe once I am a regular runner I can hit my neighborhood streets again, but for now, you’ll find me jogging down the walking trails instead.

Eating Well While Stressing Out

I love this idea! Dance your errands indeed.

I love this idea! Dance your errands indeed.

I did it! I hit the big 3-oh in weight loss! I am officially down 30 pounds. I am incredibly happy and I love the way I feel and the way I look. Now onto the hard part – maintenance.

And of course, this week is crazy. I do some freelance work, and this week is the culmination of a big project. The good thing is that I have an amazing partner in all this, Red. Red and I have been friends forever. We both do the same kind of work, and have helped each other and paired up on projects in the past. Now she and I are working together as a team. It’s been great to split the work, but it has still kept me hopping. My lunch hours are spent in meetings or in running around taking care of last-minute details, and immediately after my day job, I am running errands or heading to the freelance location to work. Which means that, basically, all my meals are all kind of up in the air and I’ve had to get very creative. I don’t eat fast food, and I want to stay on the healthy side of things, so here’s how I’ve been able to swing it so far:

Plan Ahead. I use the calendar function on my phone to track where I have to go and what I have to do. That helps me keep on top of my schedule so I can plan accordingly. The more planning I can do, the less stressed I am – which is better for me all the way around.

Pack Snacks. I have started carrying multiple snacks with me. I have a couple of cute lunch bags that people have bought me that are insulated and even a small soft sided mini cooler. I keep them filled with things I can eat on the fly: string cheese, rice cakes, crackers, almonds, easy to eat fruit and veggies (like Mineolas, strawberries, carrots and celery) and even a small amount of chocolate. Everything is measured out ahead of time, so it is easy to track. This keeps me from crashing from hunger… and from eating all the unhealthy snacks that are lying around the workplace.

Indulge in Beverages. We’re getting some beautiful weather here in the Midwest, and its making me crave iced tea and coffee. I try to not have caffeine after 7pm, but before that, these are two easy indulgences for me. I also love La Croix for some fizz and keep a plain old water bottle handy as well. At the freelance location there is a lot of “hurry up and wait” and those wait times are prime munching hours. Having a tasty beverage nearby helps me fight those urges.

Eat at Work. I am lucky, I can eat at my desk at my day job. So another way I have been regulating my meals is by bringing both lunch and dinner to work. I eat lunch while I am working (and then use my lunch hour to run around getting things done,) and then eat dinner during my last hour at work. It’s a little early, but it is better than feeling compelled to grab something and eat it on the way.

Track Everything. I am so busy that it would be super easy to slack on the tracking. Now is exactly when I have to track. The other day I was out at a lunch meeting and ate way more than I should. I didn’t mean to, I thought I was making a healthy choice, but when I put it into My Fitness Pal I realized how wrong I was! That happens, it isn’t a big deal – as long as I know about it. I ended up just going lighter the rest of the day, but without tracking it, I wouldn’t have known to do that. I’m still new at all this and restaurants are fairly complicated to negotiate. Tracking helps me so much.

As for going forward, I don’t exactly have a maintenance plan yet. I know I will keep tracking and eating well – those are lifestyle choices. I’m planning on doing them for the rest of my life. I know I want to keep learning how to run. As for the rest, I don’t know yet – we’ll just see how it all goes!

Photo credit: theslowlane