Birthday Boxing

Guess what I got for my birthday?Thanks by Maxim Pierre

A Heavy Bag!!

My awesome best gal Cee got it for me! How cool is that?

I haven’t got it mounted, and I am going to need to get gloves and some training, but I am so excited! Julian already owns a speed bag, so I envision the basement of my house becoming a mini gym soon. (Although I have the weight lifting equipment in the middle of the living room. Yes, I’ve become that gal.)

It’s more than an awesome gift though, I says something about how my friends see me. It also shows that they support the woman I have become over the past 9 months. It’s been a big change. When Cee got me that bag, it wasn’t just about me wanting to learn to box, it also said, “I love you and I support what you are doing.”

I tell you, I have fantastic friends!

Birthday cake by Paul Downey

Photo credit: Thanks by Maxim Pierre
Photo credit: Birthday Cake by Paul Downey

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Big Bills, Garage Sales and Pup Recovery

Why yes, I am feeling much better, thanks.

Why yes, I am feeling much better, thanks. I think you should give me some ham.

Hermes had the staples from his surgery removed on Tuesday morning. He’s almost like a new dog. He has so much energy right now – I love it! We just started getting back to full half hour walks at close to our old speed. (I’ve been taking it slow with him to allow for full healing.) Having him feeling better has helped my mood as well.

August was a hard month. I can’t complain – everything resolved itself well, but it was still a tough month. For one thing, it was expensive. My house is a two unit with a one bedroom apartment in it that I rent out. As a rental property, it has to be inspected by the city every few years and the furnace and hot water heater have to be checked by experts. The house passed with flying colors, but the furnace failed the inspection. Not a huge deal, it was old and I was expecting it to go any time, but still a fairly large outlay of cash to have it replaced. Then, of course, I had to pay for the inspections as well. Add to those bills all of Hermes’ emergency pet care, and I’m pretty depleted. I had to pull money from all my “extra” accounts to pay for everything. That means a few of my big plans are on hold.

It was a busy month too. I am wrapping up my freelance work for the summer. I am on the final leg, thank goodness. While I love doing it, it will be good to take a break. Plus there are all the “normal” activities that keep me busy – friends, family, my nonprofit work, my for profit job… all this plus working out 5-6 times a week. Life is good and I like doing all of it, but again, you add on extra things like meeting with furnace repairmen and running to the animal hospital twice a day, and it isn’t only my bank accounts that are depleted – it’s my energy levels as well.

That being said, I thought Labor Day weekend was going to be a turning point. While Saturday was really productive, the rest of the weekend ended up being more of the same – especially the freelance work. That took up the most time. I didn’t get any running in and I only got one of the several naps I had hoped for! (I do love naps.) The bright side was that I started work on my annual garage sale – it’s a huge project, and I have just one month.

Every year for several years now, (I think this will be our eighth,) my best friends and I have held a garage sale at my house. We keep the prices cheap, the booze flowing and good people all around. We’ve pretty much got it down to a science and we do quite well most years. I am hoping for a particularly good year – I would love to replenish some of those bank accounts I mentioned! Since the summer was so busy, we’ve pushed it all to the fall. We are planning on having it October 4th and 5th. We’ve found fall sales to be good in the past, people are still in the mood to hit sales, but there are less of them, so we get good traffic.

I’ve got a ton of stuff to do in preparation. Not only do I have a lot to sell, but the house and yard needs to be put into shape. That’s what was great about last Saturday. I managed to get started on it, and started putting a plan into place how to finish it. A plan is needed – four weeks isn’t far away at all!!

Sigh... this is probably true.

Sigh… this is probably true.

Sick Pup

Hermes loves bunnies.

Hermes has a thing for bunnies.

Hermes, my little buddy, is sick. He had a tumor, roughly the size of my hand, in his spleen. We had an amazing, fun weekend up at Julian’s parent’s place last weekend, but on the last day he stopped acting like himself. I thought it was a reoccurrence of the back problems he had a few months ago, but the vet did an x-ray and we found the tumor.

They did surgery and removed his spleen. The surgery itself went well, but when they went in, they found the tumor had ruptured. He ended up losing a lot of blood. Last night he spent the night at the Emergency Pet Hospital and they had to give him a transfusion. Despite all of this, things looked pretty good. Julian and I picked him up from the hospital and brought him to the vet. He seemed drugged up, but he looked good.

However, he is having complications. He’s having problems with his heart. They are working to balance everything out, but he is going to have another night at the Emergency Pet Hospital. I don’t know how this is going to all play out. Basically, it is up to him and how he does over the next 24 hours or so. If you have some spare good thoughts, please send them my pooch’s way. He could use them.

In the meantime, if things are a little quiet over here, this is why. I’m a wreck. He’s my little buddy. I hate that he is hurting.

Hermes

Photos of Long View Hill

All right, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while – I guess now is the time… deep breath….

I’ve compiled a few photos so you can do some “before and current comparisons” that I am going to post. I admit – I’m a little nervous about all this for a whole bunch of reasons, but I figure it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. So, here we go!

Through the years

2005

Good gracious, I have mixed feelings about this photo. On one hand, it was taken on a wonderful trip to Las Vegas with my best girlfriends. We had a great time, and if I look a little tipsy in this photo, that’s because I undoubtably was. I actually have another version of this photo that isn’t quite so… bosomy that I like much better, but this one, (despite my awkward pose… again, lots of alcohol was involved,) shows my figure in all it’s ummmm… glory.

At the time, I thought that shirt was so pretty on me…. sigh….

2010

This is pretty much a standard “me” shot. Nothing fancy, just my day-to-day look. If I look a bit pale, it’s because I had a horrible case of car sickness that day. A friend of mine (the one whose hand you see on my shoulder) and I had taken a long, long drive that day. When we got to our destination I was sick as a dog.  Ah well… Anyway, this is pretty much what I looked like for years.

2012

Me in my new glasses

September 2012

In the photo up above I am all dressed up for a fancy event. This was taken in October of last year. I had a new haircut and brand new glasses at the time. I was lookin’ (and feeling) good that night!

Also in September of last year, I had a good friend take some head shots of me. I needed some photos for work. This is one of the series she took. I love this photo, despite the fact it was hotter than blazes that day and I look a little flushed.

I am not sure of my weight in these, as I’ve said, I have always been a bit slapdash in recording that kind of thingbut I would guess I was roughly in the range of 180 -190 pounds at my heaviest and 170 at my lowest. I am 5’6″.

Yesterday

Last Night - New Dress

So, these were taken last night. The first one I obviously took myself in my dining room mirror (note the crazy number of books piled in front of it) and the second was taken by my best gal Cee. I’m rocking a brand new dress I bought at Target the other day. My boyfriend Julian is out-of-town this weekend so I took some photos of my new dress to send him while he was away. They turned out so well, they were the final push that got me to post all of these.

I honestly don’t have a lot of photos of myself. I have a hard time taking them. If you saw all the struggles I went through with the photographer that took my head shots, you’d laugh. (Let’s just say that tears were involved.) It’s not that I am so particular or even that I don’t like having my photo taken, it is just that I am the most awkward photo subject on the planet. I have dated 3 amateur photographers in my life. Not one of them could get a decent photo of me. All of them threw their hands up in the air and gave up! Of course Cee nailed it on the first shot!

Me and Julian

Julian and Me

Finally, here is a shot of Julian and I, taken just last month. (Hi hon!) Now you can see what we both look like!

Note: I am 135 pounds in the in the one with Julian and 133 in the one above from last night, but I don’t consider these “before and after” photos. They are just past and present. I consider myself still a work in progress, and I am expecting my body to continue to change. (In fact, if anything, I expect my weight to go up some as I continue to lift weights!)

Fit, Feminist and (almost) Fifty had a great post today about Measurements, Counting and Motivation. It’s more on tracking the numbers (like running speed), but along with that, I regret now that I didn’t take more photos of myself back when I started – just for comparison. Maybe I will take some more soon so that I can track my changes as I go forward… and now that I have posted these, I’ll feel more comfortable keeping you all up to date!

This is Your Brain on Love

hearts on a nail from flickrJulian, my brilliant boyfriend, is going back to school right now. One of the things I love about people I know going back to school is that I frequently get to reap the benefits of their education. I love learning new things and I love when people share things they have learned with me. Speaking of love – check out what Julian learned recently:

When you are in love your brain releases two types of chemicals: dopamine and norepinephrine. It turns out, there is another time when your brain releases these types of chemicals… when you are involved in task based goals. When Julian said that, I immediately shouted out “I am in love with losing weight!”

Obviously, everyone has their own idea of what works for them, but we cannot underestimate the power of being able to check off boxes or cross things off lists. For me, the apps I use (My Fitness Pal and Run Keeper) have been the biggest keys to my success. I’ve thought before that using them feels like a video game to me – they make me happy. Of course, what are my favorite kinds of video games? The kind based around task based goals. I love Find the Hidden Object games and Time Management and Strategy games. Likewise when I get to the end of the day and click the “Complete This Entry” for my daily dairy on My Fitness Pal, I feel like I just won a round of the game.

There is a dark side to this, however. Just like in love, that euphoric feeling of completing the same goals over and over can wear off in time. That doesn’t mean that love dies, instead, hopefully, it goes from the giddy first rush of passion to a stable, loving, long term relationship. That is what I have to do when I move from loving the rush of losing weight to trying to maintain my weight loss: find stable and healthy routines and habits to keep it going through the years.

 

If you find this kind of thing as interesting as I do, here’s a couple of links to check out:

What Your Heart and Brain are Doing When You’re In Love (cnn.com)

Happiness, Hope and Optimism by Patricia A. Dunavold

This is Your Brain on Love (A great podcast from Radiolab)

Photo credit: PV KS

 

 

Dear Longview Hill…

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

This post is not written for you, dear reader, instead it is a note to my future self. I’m at that point in my weight loss where people are noticing and starting to give me quite a few compliments. It’s wonderfully nice, of course, but it also makes it really real. I did this. After all the years of thinking about it and trying different things – this is it. This is the start of a new me.

But I’ll be really honest, the more real it is, the more scared I am of gaining the weight back on again.

It isn’t a health thing; in December my physician told me that though I was over the weight she’d like me to be at, I was in excellent health. It has a little more to do with the physical looks, but just a little bit. After all, I haven’t gotten rid of all my old clothes yet! Mostly, it has to do with the fact that it is just so darn easy to fall back into old habits. That I know that while I have been at this for a few months now, I am not in a place of permanence yet. So, I thought I would write this post to myself if I ever found myself struggling again. I wanted to write down what has been working for me, so if I ever fell lost, I would know where to turn.

I should say, dear reader, that is not necessarily what you should do. This just my own personal weight loss code.


Dear Long View Hill,

Sounds like you are going through a rough patch. You and I knew this might happen. We’ve known each other all our lives, we know these things can happen. So this is a letter to you – my future me – from your past. If you are ever stuck, or feeling stressed and having a hard time staying on track. Here’s what we know what works for us:

#1. Walk the Dog.

Walking the dog won’t solve all your weight problems, Long View Hill. You had Hermes for over a year and were walking him for up to a couple hours a day there for awhile, and while you lost some weight, it didn’t start really paying off until the rest of the pieces of the puzzle were in place. However, getting outside is good for you. Spending time with your dog is good for you. They are good for your emotions, your sense of calm and your happiness. As a benefit, walking the pooch also burns calories, so if the reason you are gaining weight back has anything to do with stress, this is a good place to start. Hermes will love you for it.

We really should be on a walk right now.

We really should be on a walk right now.

#2. If you bite it, write it.

The moment things started to change for you is when you downloaded the My Fitness Pal app onto your phone. Trying to track calories on a computer doesn’t work for you LVH – we know, we’ve tried that. It is putting the food in your phone as close to having eaten it as possible, (without being super rude while out to dinner with friends,) that makes it work for you. You know you need that immediate feedback. There might come a time where it won’t be as important, but if you are reading this again, it is probably because you fell off the tracking wagon. Time to saddle up and get back on board.

#3. Do Not Go Over the Line

You lost your weight by sticking to the rules. Like tracking, there may be a time where you can be more relaxed with this, but again, if you are reading this, it is time to go back to square one. You know where the base is, My Fitness Pal will tell you where the max is, just stick between those two numbers. You can do it, you’ve done it before! If you get to the end of the evening and see you only have enough calories for green beans for dinner, well, it is time to do Rule #1. A 30 minute walk will buy you enough calories for a bowl of soup and a light salad! Best yet, leave some room – don’t walk the line. Leave some extra calories for the end of the day. Then, if you want a glass of wine or port before bed, you can have them. Remember Long View Hill, if you leave a cushion of unused calories, you won’t go over.

#4. Get Moving – Whatever it Takes

Well, if you are gaining weight, you might not be exercising. Figure out what it is going to take you to get back to it. Bored of running? Join a gym! Take some classes! Do something! Exercising makes you feel better, stronger and more healthier. Don’t forget to slide in a little extra exercise when you can. Keep running up the stairs at home when you do laundry, keep a smile on your face when it is time to shovel snow – and of course, keep walking that pooch!

#5. An Ounce Weighed, is a Pound Saved.

Don’t forget to measure. You don’t need that fancy scale, girl. You can use that $.50 thrift store find you used for the first 3 months of losing weight. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to have a fairly good idea of what is really going on. This is why you have three sets of measuring spoons and had to wash them every day. Don’t forget about that.

#6. Every Day – Weigh

Oh my!I heard the groans across the internet as I write this. We’ve all heard the countless reasons why you should never weigh yourself every day. “You’ll get depressed! You’ll quit! It doesn’t help!” The fact is, there are very few scientific studies to back “what everybody knows.” There was, however, a study with college students that showed those that weighed themselves daily were better able to lose weight and keep it off. But regardless, this is not about other people, this is about you. I’m not saying you have to do this for the rest of your life Long View, but I am saying that prevention is the best way to nip problems in the bud. Like Rule #2 and #3, this is one of those things that might change with time, but you know what works for you. If you think the scale is going up – check. Then start following these rules again.

#7. There Are No “Bad” Foods

One of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we decided not to exclude any food. You have to follow rules #2, #3 and #5, but with that in mind, nothing is off limit. I put this here, because I know us. One thing that could happen is we could get all overly into it and start restricting yourself to a particular way of eating. I can see us trying to make all the daily summary numbers on My Fitness Pal come out absolutely perfect. If we’re doing that, knock it off!  It is only a matter of time before we get all frustrated, mad and rebellious and quit everything. Don’t do that, me! Keep in mind you can eat what you want, and you will never feel like you have to eat to prove some kind of point.

#8. This is the most important one of all – Don’t Listen to Everyone Else.

I saved this one for last because I suspect it is the one that is most likely to go wrong. Already we’ve weathered this. Remember the day that Weight Loss Guru Coworker spent 10 minutes telling you different ways to cheat? Remember how the next week she was upset because at her weigh-in she was far short of her goal?  Remember the person who sent you the article about how calorie counters don’t work because they are not perfect. Remember how much weight you lost using one?* This is the most important rule: Do What Works For You! 

There is no magic pill. Different things work for different people. Some people hate My Fitness Pal, other want specific diets. But don’t listen to them – do your own research. Look gal, I know it is fun to talk about weight loss with people, but how many of them have already given you bad advice? I bet the reason you are back here in your blog archives looking at this letter is because you listened to someone else, just because they said something with a lot of confidence. Ignore weight loss advice that conflicts with your own code. Triply ignore advice that goes against your own code that comes from anyone who is still struggling with their own weight loss.

There are three exceptions to this rule: your sister Em, your friend Cee, and your boyfriend (who shall now be known as) Julian. They love you, they know you. They know what you have been through, your history, your temperament and your struggles. They understand you and want the best for you. If you want advice, go to them. Everyone else – tell them to blow it out their ears.

This also is true for articles, blogs and even things on NPR. No matter what someone is doing, there will always be someone in the background being *helpful* saying, “you aren’t doing it right!” Don’t listen to those people. Turn off the news, only read positive blogs, and trust your gut instinct, Long View Hill.

Eat well, exercise, and be happy, Long View. I am depending on you for it!

Love,

Your Past Self.

 

 

* The article basically said that calorie counters aren’t accurate, sometimes because of the information put into them, sometimes because the manufactures make servings bigger than they claim. I say, that’s why you leave a cushion of calories.

Photo credit: cliff1066

Anticlimactic?

Scales by KJGarbuttWeight Update:

Things have been going quite well! I am now down 23 lbs. (I started losing weight on January 15th.) I am still using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and I’m adding in a lot more exercise. As I wrote yesterday, I have started running a little and I’ve also started weightlifting at home.

Two of the questions I keep getting asked are “So, what is your goal?” and “Are you going to keep losing?” The answer to both is the same: I don’t know. For the first time in a couple of decades I am actually in the Healthy section of the BMI chart. I have dropped from a size 16 pant to a 10. Life is good. But I guess I don’t feel like I am “there” yet. I don’t even know where “there” is. I’m kind of playing it by ear. This might sound weird, but I never thought I could achieve what I have now this quickly. I hit my “pie in the sky” maybe-reach-it-in-a-year goal last week. I don’t have a next plan!

My good friend Cee and I have been talking about all this, and I have mentioned that I have a hard time seeing the changes in myself. I know that seems wacky, but it is true.  Okay, I can see it from the shoulders up. Not so much on my arms, maybe, but that’s because I can’t say I have ever paid much attention to them. But I can see the changes across my chest, definitely on my neck, jawline and cheekbones. I can’t really tell in my legs. I know I have lost there, I’m fitting into skinny jeans for the first time ever, but I can’t really see it. Does that make sense? They are the same shape as always, and they’ve always been pretty thin, (compared to the rest of me, anyway.) I will say that I can feel the difference in my legs. They are firmer and I can see the muscles from all the walking I do. My midsection, though, looks the same as always to me. I know it is different, but again, the shape hasn’t really changed all that much, so it just doesn’t look that different to me.

There might be several things going on here: 1) I think I am starting to look like what I always looked like in my head. I think when I pictured myself I have always had a thinner version in my mind’s eye. Now I am starting to match that, which is wonderful, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel all new and sparkly. It’s not a “Wow!” moment as much as “Yep, knew it all along” moment – and honestly, it’s not as crazy fun as I wish it was. 2) This is has really happened quite quickly. Like I said, I never thought I would lose this much in just 3.5 months. I think it will take some time to get used to. At the same time, 23 lbs isn’t all that much. I see folks that have lost far, far more than that. Now they look different! 3) I don’t have a lot to compare to. I wish I could stand the old me and the new me side by side in the mirror. I also kind of wish I had more photos. I haven’t liked photos of myself for a long time, so I don’t have that many, but I am really wishing I took a few of those terrible Before shots you see people post.

This is what I do know: I’m going to keep doing what is working for me. I’m going to keep running and dog walking. I’m going to keep lifting those weights and doing the plank. I’m going to keep tracking calories. In the end, I will just see where all that lands me.

 

Photo credit: KJGarbutt

Smiling The Stress Away

Smile by the_momentI found this article on the Huffington Post. It came out last August so it’s a little older, but the information is still valid. It talks about how smiling, real smiling, can help lower your heart rate when you are stressed.

Here’s an excerpt:

Smiling Could Help with Stress: Study

New research shows that smiling — and especially genuine smiling (where your eyes and mouth muscles are engaged) — may play a part in lowering heart rate after you’ve done something stressful. The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

“The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment,” study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. “Not only will it help you ‘grin and bear it’ psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!”

Here’s a link to the full article: Smiling Could Help With Stress: Study

I’m thinking about this because I do a lot of trade shows for my company. It’s stressful, really stressful. First there is the travel – even fun travel can be hard on the body and the mind, and this is rarely fun. Then there is the fact that I’m frequently traveling with coworkers. Ten or twelve hours in a car with anyone can be trying, but with a coworker? Doubly so. Plus there is the show itself. It’s hard work standing all day long in a 10′ square selling your products to people who are mostly uninterested.

It isn’t all bad, but it can be easy to slip into a foul mood. Maybe I should give this a try. Smiling is good for sales – if it lowers my heart rate too, that’s a pretty good bonus!

My Dog, My Trainer

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

Why are you blogging? We should be walking right now.

My boyfriend recently reminded me that while I started losing weight officially in January, I actually started quite a bit before that – back when I got my dog, Hermes.

It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t been with me forever, but in fact, he came into my life August 2011. I’ve always been a walker, but Hermes made me hardcore. Because I don’t have a fenced in yard, and he is a hound dog, I can never just let him off leash. So, twice a day irregardless of wind, rain, shine, blizzards, tornado warnings, hail, thunderstorms, or any other weather, Hermes and I are out pounding the pavement. I walk him roughly an hour a day during the week (a half hour in the morning and then again when I get home) and a bit more on the weekends.

Even if I had a fenced in yard, I’d still be walking him. (I mean, look at that face!) Hermes doesn’t care if I am too tired, or feel like wearing slippers rather than hiking boots. He doesn’t understand weekends or sleeping in, (so, we are up at 6:30 regardless of the day of the week), and he doesn’t care about my bad day or weekend plans.

Hermes has two things that he dearly loves in life.  Walks and naps.

Naps rule.

Fine. I will nap until you are ready to walk me again. Please hurry.

Now, I would never suggest that someone get a dog to lose weight. And even though there are tons of articles out there touting the wonders of a pet on your health, bringing an animal into your home is a huge commitment. It’s also fairly expensive. Not all families or individuals are suited for or have time for a pet, especially a furry buddy who needs long walks every single day.

For me though, he’s been a godsend in a lot of ways. I love the little guy and I am glad we found each other. I adopted him from a shelter, but I am a firm believer that the dog you need will find you. Hermes found and claimed me. He also got me into shape. I don’t think I would be contemplating running right now if he hadn’t kicked my butt in gear with walks. We’ve literally hiked for hours up at my cabin, and that’s built up my strength and ability to determinedly head out – even in sleet.

I’ve considered training him to run with me, but I think that might be a bit more work than I am ready for. There is a reason that you see people running with Labs, Boxers, German Shepards and even Rotweilers, but you don’t see people running with mixed breed hound dogs! Hermes doesn’t love his walks because of the exercise and pretty views – that’s what I get out of it. He gets the smells. When we walk, that brown nose is plastered to the pavement and he moves like a metronome across the sidewalk. If he encounters a particularly enticing smell, he plants all four paws and forty pounds in a dead stop. We’re working on that.

Until we get that worked out, I think I’ll run solo.