Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spring Break

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I enjoyed my Spring Break. 

I mean I really enjoyed my Spring Break.  I totally went off the meal plan – which is kind of ironic since I had only made the menu to last up until the start of Spring Break.

I had funnel cakes, cotton candy, McDonald’s french fries, and all sorts of random stuff.  I didn’t worry about it, because I was on break. 

I wasn’t looking forward to the weigh-in on Monday.  However, I got up and turned on the Wii and stared down the green circle of doom.  I gained 4.2 pounds in eight days. 

That was okay. 

I know that the average person gains 3 pounds over Thanksgiving alone, and they don’t get to have funnel cakes and cotton candy!

So, I buckled down and got back on the meal plan.  In two days, the scale shows that I’ve trimmed back down 2.4 pounds.  Now, would doing this all the time be healthy?  No, of course not.  That would be yo-yo weight loss, and that would be self-defeating.

But what made it worthwhile was not worrying about trying to stay on my meal plan when I was going ot be out of town, in an RV, and who knows what else. 

The sheer freedom of not worrying about what I was going to eat or trying to find food that fit the meal plan was worth having a minor setback in trimming down.

Sheer cost/benefit analysis.

Now the tricky part for me was sticking on the meal plan at night when I was really stressed by family drama.  I just wanted to eat retaliation foods, but I knew that I didn’t need to punish myself by eating something I’d later regret. 

My solution?  I made myself a Muscle Milk shake by combining a Muscle Milk, crushed ice, and a banana.  Not only did that satisfy the desire for something sweet, but also filled me up so that I literally wasn’t hungry or able to eat or drink anything else for the duration of the craving.

So, Spring Break was good.  I was able to relax, play around, and return ready to focus on the goal.

Five Weeks And 11 Pounds

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Four days in a row this week, I’ve consistently lost weight for a net loss of 3.9 pounds.  This week!  Monday – gained .9 pounds; Tuesday – lost .7 pounds; Wednesday – lost 1.3 pounds; Thursday – lost 1.3 pounds; and today – lost 1.5 pounds.     

 So, what’s working? 

 Walking the dog.  First thing in the morning, I chug a half glass of OJ and take the dog for a walk.  Depending on how many times I’ve mashed the snooze button, we’ve got time for a mile (around the block).  A couple of days, it’s been ½ mile, and today was a brisk ¼ mile jog.  Also, in the afternoon, I try to walk him.  Well, except that hasn’t really worked out this week what with the Diorama of Doom.  (Really?  Assigning a diorama to a 1st grader?  What, do they just want to see how well the parents can do on a diorama after all these years, because that’s basically what they got.)

 The Wii.  It’s got a scale built into it, and it remembers all of my data.  This one is problematic because I have to do this when the kids are asleep or they bug me to get in on it, and the Wii Fit is not set up as a multi-player sort of thing.

 Group exercise.  I’m motivated by having other people tortured simultaneously.  Seriously, though, I’m motivated by having someone else there to keep me going, to keep me trying to push through to the end. 

 Personal trainer.  I know I only get a few “free” sessions, but the one session I had so far has shown me that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be and that I can do more than I initially thought.  I would never have challenged myself to try to get on the balance board and do squats while lifting a weight over my head.  Also, I need someone to watch me to see when I’m not doing it right and give me instant correction.  Lastly, it’s good to have someone to impress.  Sounds superficial, I know, but it still feels good.

 Blogging.  It feels really good to be writing.  I feel more alive than I have in almost a year.  It’s as though I’ve rediscovered an essential part of me that has been under a layer of sediment.  If only I could write and do art most of the time.  I think I would have achieved nirvana.

 What’s not working?

 Stress.  Job, finances, kids, parents, puppy, house, marriage, and self-image.  I know how to juggle, but I’ve only gotten to the point where I can keep three balls in the air, and that only for maybe 20-30 seconds. 

 Lack of sleep.  I need to get up early enough to walk the dog, cook breakfast (NO to raw eggs, thank you!), and get dressed and primped for work.  I don’t get the kids in bed until 8-8:30, even with the best of efforts, and then I have been feeling wired after that.  It probably doesn’t help that I want to stay up to watch Jon Stewart.  So I’m getting maybe six hours a night, which is not exactly optimal.

But, hey, some things in life are just not going to work well – I guess they put the “fun” in dysfunctional.  For the rest, I’m looking forward to fitting into my clothes again!

The Truth About Beans

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Fart. 

 There, I’ve said it.

 Farting.  That’s the question on everyone’s mind whenever I mention the meal plan.  (By the way, do you like how I’ve decided to call it “the meal plan?” It sounds so much more inviting than that other four-letter word.) 

 Well, okay, so you think beans, and automatically you think,

“Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart,

The more you eat, the more you….”

 I’m here to tell you that’s not true.  No, really.  For some reason, eating beans at every meal has completely changed my body’s chemistry and eliminated gaseous expulsions.  Now, when I had beans occasionally, they were sure to bring an aromatic contribution to the next day that would wilt flowers at ten feet.  However, eating beans all the time means that my digestive tract has adjusted itself so that it just doesn’t make excess gas. 

 Another truth about beans: they’re hard to eat at every meal.  Beans for breakfast: that’s the kicker.  I just don’t think, Hmmm, what kind of BEANS can I have for breakfast today?  Eggs?  Sure.  Steak?  Okay.  Bacon?  Sausage?  Pork chops?  Yeah, for variety.  But beans?  Gosh, that’s hard.  And for some reason, I think, Well, I guess I can have huevos rancheros with salsa and beans.  But I don’t really want that.  So I sit there and pick at my beans.  I try to choke them down.  I try to trick myself.  And I have leftover beans.

 I know that beans are an essential part of the meal plan, but they are still so foreign to me as a food staple that I just don’t think about beans.  And when they’re sitting there, staring me down, I blink first. 

 On the other hand, I realized that I like black beans.  At least, I like the black beans put out by the Ranch Style company.  I don’t know why, but they seem to taste better.  They even have refried black beans.  For someone who isn’t too keen on the idea of regular refried beans – I don’t know if it’s the flavor or the consistency – the black beans are a much better option. 

 Lentils are also tricky.  I decided to pre-soak them a couple of days in advance, but I have to tread a thin line with this between cooking and science experiment.  One day, I looked at the soaking lentils and realized that they were starting to sprout.  Intellectually, I know that sprouted lentils have complete proteins, but in my mind, I think, “They’re ALIVE!”  and then I have that mad-scientist moment. 

 Black eyed peas.  No, not the band.  Actual black eyed peas.  Is there really an appetizing way to cook them?  ‘Cause any food that can stare back at me with one beady black eye is probably safe from being eaten.  Hmmm… maybe someone makes really tiny edible blindfolds.

 White beans.  I haven’t actually had much experience with these.  I tried the cannellini beans, and they were pleasant, but probably mostly because of the novelty factor.  Though, to be honest, I liked the texture, too.

 I have not braved the bean of lima.  I’m sure it’s packed with nutrition, but I just haven’t wanted to fight that battle yet.  Maybe next month.  We’ll see.

 So, although the meal plan is working pretty well over all, the beans are still one of the most difficult adjustments.

Frustrations

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It’s not all sunshine and lollipops.  I woke up this morning – well, “woke up” is really too strong a term.  I surfaced from the ocean of sleep like a whale breaching for air, and somehow convinced myself to quit the comfortable embrace of my warm quilts.  Staggering out of the room, I felt bloated, overweight, achy, tired, and just generally puce.  (I have no idea what color puce is.  It just sounds awful.)

I knew, knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that today I had gained weight.  Too many stresses, not enough sleep, and cheating on my meal plan (I had a giant bowl of frozen blueberries and a sinful spoonful of Skippy peanut butter last night as retaliation foods*) were all ganging up on me, and I had gained weight.

I turned on the Wii, and while I was waiting for it to warm up, I played that mental gambling game, betting on how much more I would weigh today.  .6 pounds… maybe even .8 pounds. 

Then the green circle of recognition. 

Then the red dot of instability and lack-of-center-of-balance.

Then the moment of truth.

The BMI. 

I watched as the poor little Mii started at the bottom of the BMI scale and the little line skyrocketed up and up and up and… stopped, below where it was yesterday.  Below.  Significantly below.  Like 1.3 pounds worth.  Since the day before.

*$#*(&$!  (And it’s hard to pronounce that before 6am.)

If only I’d really gained weight, I could have thrown a pity party for myself.  But nooOoo, it was still working.  I felt like warmed-over roadkill and it served a purpose?  It’s really hard to host a pity party when the underlying emotion is elation. 

And the worst part?  I couldn’t even groan and moan about how sore I was and how much I hurt and ached because, well, because it really wasn’t that bad.  I mean, yeah, I was sort of achy, and, yeah, I could feel the muscles I’d worked yesterday and earlier in the week, but they didn’t make me gasp in pain with every movement.  They were just sort of sitting on the sidelines like bored parents at a t-ball game, half-heartedly waving little flags as if saying, “Yeah, we’re here.  We’re not shouting or jumping up and down, but we’re here.”

Grrr… So that kind of ruined the whole puce-ness of the day.  If I think too hard about any of this, I’m going to start thinking good, kind thoughts about myself.  And how would I ever handle that?

 *Retaliation foods – foods that you eat because you’re really angry with yourself for something and you want to make yourself pay, so you eat what you’ll regret later.  It’s a twisted love-hate relationship.  Now that I’ve explained the psychology of it, please pay me $75 for this therapy session.

It’s Working!

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So, Sunday was a test – a test to see if I could really have a crazy day without paying for it.  It worked! 

Monday, I got up early and hopped on the Wii.  It said, “OMG! You gained .9 pounds, woman!”  I said, “Yeah, that’s fair. Let’s see what you say tomorrow, sucka!

Tuesday, I got up early (I sense a disturbing trend here) and hopped on the Wii.  It said, “You have lost .7 pounds.  You may not reach your goal in time. Would you like to set a new goal?” I said, “I’ve got a solid week to reach my goal, and I know I’m going to make it, so NO!”

So, following the meal plan, the menu, it basically evened out having a crazy day.  The best part?  After going crazy on all the stuff I could think of, I had ZERO cravings for any of that stuff, for any sugary stuff at all, really.  I was thinking that, after having succumbed to all sorts of strange temptations, I would be that much more likely to fall off the wagon again. 

But no.  It was totally the opposite.  The mere idea of having any of that stuff actually revolted me.  I realized that, although I’d been looking forward all last week to my day of insanity, I hadn’t really enjoyed the actual food that much.  It was more the anticipation of the food that I enjoyed.  Getting to eat it was almost an anticlimax.  Maybe it was because it was one of the only times I’d ever indulged truly guilt free.  Whatever it was, Monday rolled around, and I was glad to be back on the plan; I was looking forward to eating food that was good for my body.

Here’s another strange thing: when this started, I was really hungry.  I took it to heart that I could eat as much as I wanted.  Now?  I have trouble finishing a meal.  I don’t really want all that I’m served – even when I serve myself.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the food, it’s just that it satisfies me a lot faster.  And I don’t get screaming-hungry after eating, either.

Another experiment: the personal trainer at the gym said that optimally, I need to have a quick bite to eat as soon as I get up to get my metabolism going and get my body out of the night fasting mode.  To that end, I’ve tossed back a quick 4 ounces – half a glass – of orange juice before I take the dog for his morning walk.  I think it is helping – and I get happy, guilt-free OJ, too.

She also said I should try to get an afternoon snack, ideally right after a workout.  She recommended protein bars.  Now this is where I learned something.  “Protein” bars aren’t.  They’re crazy-full of carbohydrates!  I bought a CLIF bar without reading the packaging first, and realized it has 44 grams of carbohydrates.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it was delectable, but 44 grams?  And 21 grams of sugars?  Okay, I can see it if you want energy, because calories are energy, but it was a real education in the world of product-label-reading!

Today, I tried a Detour Lean Muscle Cookie Dough Caramel Crisp bar, after reading the label and comparing it to the other bars available.  With a name like “Cookie Dough Caramel Crisp,” I figured you couldn’t go wrong.  Well – that was the theory.  Okay, so it had lots of textures, and in its own bizarre way was pretty good, but it was the PowerBar of cookie doughs.  It forever tarnished my memory of cookie dough – that creamy, brown-sugar-kissed confection that brings the comfort food eater to the next plane of nirvana – this was not cookie dough.  The closest this solid almost-nougat mass came to being cookie dough was in its color – and its very odd black flecks which resembled miniature chocolate chips in their general shape and appearance, however the taste was completely… protein.

But here is my question – that bar said only 3 grams net sugar.  What about the 27 grams of sugar alcohol?  Why is that discounted in the realm of product labeling?  Does my body discount it?

I also tried the Cafe Latte flavor of the Muscle Milk Lite.  That was pleasantly reminiscent of a bottled Frappuccino.  It wasn’t as cloying as the regular Muscle Milk, which I tried the other week when my husband bought some.  It was thick – and it wasn’t really milk.  Ach, we’ll see what my body makes of all this craziness.

Speaking of craziness, I have started doing the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred exercise after work.  That is a total body workout.  I think the only muscles I cannot feel trembling afterward are my eyelids.  (Okay, so eyelids aren’t really a muscle, but you get the idea.)  Yesterday, there were 5 or 6 people who all did it.  Today, I was the only one.  But you know what?  Instead of giving up and walking away, I got out the weights and the jumprope and I turned on that video and worked just as hard as I could.  It felt good, perhaps especially because it was only for me.  Tomorrow, I know I’ll be sore.  I think it’ll be worth it.

Bad Poetry

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Okay, so my earlier post was just rambling to keep me from writing about what was really on my mind.  I don’t know how blunt I can be online, and I’m not too sure I want to test all the limits at this early juncture.

So, in an effort to express these hot, itchy, pent-up emotions, I started a post on Facebook that began to rhyme as soon as the words fell out of my head.  Then, praise all the heavenly host, I actually read it again after I felt that I had expressed everything I wanted to say.

Yikes!  I mean, I know I can write bad poetry, but this was bad attack poetry.  This was bad pointed attack poetry.  This was bad pointed attack poetry that I was about to post on a social media site!

I felt as though my spleen had turned into an unripened grapefruit and I tasted the sour bile in my mouth just thinking about the sin I was about to commit.

And the worst part about it?  It felt good writing it!  It was cathartic!  And it was horribly regressive.  It took me back to those dark days of highschool wherein I pined after guys who would never notice me, where I wrote all my love poems in a black spiral notebook of all things clichéd.  It was awful. 

Anyhow, crisis averted.  The poem has been consigned to the land of the BACKSPACE key, it’s rhymes and rhythm lost to history, making the world safer for the likes of you – and for the likes of me.

Generally Good Health

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So, other than a horrendous bout of strep throat this week, I’m generally in good health.  My bone density is good, my blood pressure is normal, my flexibility is great, my strength is good, and my oxygen exchange rate (or whatever) is on the fair side of good.

The only thing I really need to work on according to the measurements is my BMI, and I’m already working on that. 

It’s just nice to have it in writing that you know what you need to do – and that the rest of you is working well enough that you can meet your goals.

Felt pretty good to be able to tell the personal trainer about my meal plan and have her say, “Yeah, that’s the advice I would normally give someone.”  To top that off, the health magazines I’ve been reading lately, along with articles in the newspaper, have all extolled the virtues of eating a diet which focuses on protein, legumes, and vegetables, even going so far as to praise the lentil.

Really.  Praise the lentil.  Apparently, though they taste like dirt (the clear sign that something is really good for you), lentils are some kind of awesome power food, especially if you soak them enough to let them begin to sprout – which is what I’ve been doing.

Today is my crazy eating day – and I’ve had some fun with it.  Rice Krispies with sugar for breakfast, a sandwich with actual bread, a Snicker’s bar, ice cream, pizza, and even cake!  We’ll see if I wind up paying for the day of indulgence. 

Speaking of indulgences, I’m going to indulge myself by sharing my personal fitness goals – 1) increase upper body strength (esp. to the point where I can do a real pull-up)

2) increase stamina and endurance

3) reduce inches around hips

To those ends, I will be focusing on some free-weight training and quite a bit of cardio.  I even went swimming yesterday at the gym, really stretching and using those arm muscles. 

It felt rewarding getting a good bill of health from the various tests, but it will feel so much better when I improve upon my current standings.

Anger With a Fresh Side of Zeal

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Okay, so I am breaking my silence and partially breaking my self-imposed rule, “Don’t Write Angry.”

I am angry.  I am so angry that I feel electrified by it, as though thousands of little angry lightning bolts are exploding from my every pore, keeping me going long past my normal hours, keeping me buzzing even though I’m recovering from the most horrific bout of strep throat I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter.

Did I mention I’m a bit perturbed?

Yeah, so what do I do when I’m this angry?  Well, dishes get done.  This is the land of clean dishes, let me tell you.  The only dirty dish in the house is the mug from which I’m currently sipping piping hot mint tea. 

I also drive.  Hehehe.  I drive angry.  I drive angry with a purpose.  Tonight’s purpose was to exchange a Barbie video for something… angry.  I chose Red.  Not much of a purpose, but it got me out of the house.  OUT.  That was all that mattered. 

And I talk.  I have three best therapists in the world, some great friends who tell me – in their sleep-deprived slurring speech – “No, it’s not too late.  Sure we can talk.  That’s what friends are for.”  And they even mean it. 

Tonight I spent 90 minutes on the phone talking it out. 

Is it gone?  No.  Is it manageable?  Yeah, I think so.  If not, I might have to break into someone else’s house and find some dirty dishes.