Monday, March 31, 2014

Come over to the dark side...we have cookies!

Okay, I don't really have cookies. I do have some carrots though. You're welcome to those. The inspiration for this post came from several moments I have had lately where it was really evident that I have definitely crossed over to the dark side. By dark side, I mean one of "those" people. You know, the ones who are all about healthy eating and exercise. I'm pretty proud of this accomplishment because it wasn't so long ago that I was in a quite different subset of people; the ones who eat crap and never exercise and eventually weigh over 300 lbs. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share some of these moments:

1) I went grocery shopping and saw these little pouches of strawberry muffins. The calorie count was pretty reasonable, but then I got to looking at the nutrition facts. That's when crazy health nut mode kicked in. I was all, "Where is the nutritional value? These are all sugar! I can't even pronounce these ingredients!" This is also significant because previously when I have tried to lose weight I just ate whatever was lowest in calories and didn't care if it was actually good for my body i.e. subsisting on iceberg lettuce and canned crab.

2) I got really excited when I saw how many colors of vegetables were in my dinner tonight. Like disturbingly excited.

3) I feel like a slacker if I miss more than one day of workouts. It feels unnatural. This coming from someone who spent literally years never setting foot in a gym.

4) There are as many workout clothes as regular street clothes in my laundry.

5) My body does not process high-fat food well anymore and I feel physically ill if I eat more than a little of that type of food. This kind of weirdly makes me happy because it means my body is rejecting something it is not used to. I'm glad my body is not used to crap anymore. I  feel like my body is like the security company in those commercials where they shout at the burglar to leave the house he's robbing, like "Intruder! Leave the premises immediately!!" My body used to have no problem at all with high-fat foods.

6) I've spent more time cooking in the last 21 months than I probably have the rest of my life combined. What can I say? Fast food didn't require a culinary degree.

There are probably more I can't think of, but this is fine for now. Some people might think this stuff is weird, but I am totally content with my new normal, mainly because it makes me very, very happy. And who doesn't want to be happy? I'll take this type of long-lasting happiness over a couple of minutes of "happiness" with a bag of potato chips any day.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Progress pictures: The results of 21 months of literally running my butt off

I guess what I'm doing differently is working...I lost 2.8 lbs this week! Part of my brain is like, "Why are you excited about that? That's nothing." I guess this because even though I know it only makes sense that I lose much less weight in a week than when I was 160 lbs heavier, part of me still seems to be disappointed in anything less than a 7 or 8 lb loss. Stupid, I know. I'm trying to concentrate on the part of me that is  excited about a 2.8 lb loss. It is nice to see the scale moving again. I've been carb cycling, which hasn't been too difficult. I do need to figure out a way to get more calories in on my low carb days though because I keep coming up pretty short. You don't realize how many of your calories are from grains and starches until you can't eat them! I'm also doing great on strength training, although since it's been a while since I last did that, I'm feeling the pain from it. I made my high calorie day coincide with my mom's birthday so I could eat what I wanted when we went out to eat to celebrate. We went to Ruby Tuesday's and I had the salad bar and a buffalo chicken burger. It was really good, but weird too because I was so full when I finished. I used to eat that kind of meal all the time and it felt perfectly normal. But now even though it tasted good, I don't know if it was really worth it because I felt sluggish and like I had a rock in my stomach all the way into the next afternoon. I never used to realize how much food can affect how you feel physically, probably because since I ate crappy food all the time, I just felt like crap all the time normally.

So yesterday I decided to have some more progress pictures taken since it's been about 6 months since I last did it. I didn't really see the point at first since I haven't really lost any substantial weight since then, but I've had a few people tell me that they see a difference in how I look now. And it's true that I have lost some inches in those 6 months. I need to be better about celebrating these small victories. As always, my mom was a good sport and agreed to take a million pictures of me in her front yard, like she has this whole time. So with that said, here's my progress 21 months into my journey (okay, I know it sounds kind of cheesy to call it a journey, but I don't know what else to call it! I mean, "personal odyssey" sounds even stupider).

Well, okay first you know I have to start with a "before" pic...duh. This is from my Biggest Loser audition in July 2012, about 3 weeks after I started losing weight. I think I was about 310 lbs here, so I had lost almost 20 lbs.

I also wanted to share this other picture too, because I think it was so shocking to me that it was part of what helped me decide to start losing weight. It was taken in May 2012, and I have a distinct memory of looking at it and being really surprised. I knew that I had gained weight, but I didn't know that that was what I looked like. Pictures don't lie though (well, except in Photoshop). Feel free to admire my artistic skill too since I painted the picture I'm holding of my guinea pig, Captain Jack. Since I actually have no skills as a painter, I was surprised it turned out as good as it did.

And here are the pictures from yesterday:

I was pretty excited the wind was cooperating with my hair in this shot, since normally wind just causes me to look like I'm eating my hair.

I randomly decided I needed a picture of me on the ground, but when I told my mom that, I think she was picturing me lying on the ground like I was dead or something, which understandably made her confused. 

This is actually a picture of me trespassing, since this is a neighbor's swing. We knew they wouldn't mind though.

Sadly, daffodils were the only flower in bloom so far. I wish it was a little later in the spring because my mom has beautiful flower beds then.

This one was kind of a joke on senior pictures, i.e. "I love leaning on trees!"

Of course we have to have the jumping picture. My mom hasn't lost her touch!

This last one was actually kind of supposed to be a joke too. I was going for a fake seductive picture, but when I saw it on my camera I thought it looked like I was trying to punch myself in the head. This is typical for when I try to look in any way seductive. However, when I saw it on my computer, I thought it actually looked kind of pretty.

I had a certain way I wanted to look for these pictures, and that was at least a little hot. Because you know, leather jacket and knee-high boots. I mean, not like Angelina Jolie hot or something, but just a little hot, mainly because I never feel that way about myself. Let's just touch on the boots for a second because knee-high boots are something every former fat girl is excited about wearing since when you're fat, you can't begin to zip boots up over your calves. I was excited when I saw these pictures because I actually looked in the pictures like I thought I looked. I say this because when you're heavy, you usually put on an outfit and think it's going to look a certain way, and then it looks nothing like that. This outfit looked how I imagined it, which is a victory to me. And I feel kind of weird saying I think I look a little hot, but it's how I feel. Part of me thinks maybe that's arrogant, but the truth is that me being able to feel that way is a victory too. I spent the majority of my life hating how I looked, and even recently can usually just think I look decent in a picture, if that. So maybe this means my self-esteem is improving.

Anyway, I hope you like the pictures and can at least tell a little difference from 6 months ago. Hopefully in 3 months when I take my 2 year pictures, you will be able to see a difference from now!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

What idiot came up with the idea of pushing through the pain?

I'll start with saying that I killed it this past week. Twice a day workouts (the morning one is still especially soul-crushing given the time change), right at 1200 calories every day, even over 100 ounces of water a day. Then I added running back into the mix on Monday since the weather is finally cooperating with my asthma. It's been so cold that I haven't been able to do more than walk outside since November without having major asthma problems. So I expected it would be a bit rough starting back. And it was, but I pushed through. And the weather was so nice that I have been doing 2 five mile runs per day since Monday. That was where I may have messed up. My legs were in agony on Tuesday. When I walked, I looked like I was stepping on red hot coals or was perhaps severely constipated. But my motivation was so high and the weather was so awesome that I ran anyway. I pushed through 10 miles of pain yesterday, although actually the pain was weirdly less when I was running. My legs were still super sore when I woke up this morning to run. It was weigh-in day and I had a bad feeling due to my muscles soreness, even though by all rights I should have had a great week weight loss-wise. I was right to be worried. I was up 3 whole pounds  from my weigh-in last Wednesday. I weighed in on Sunday to, and I was down a pound from last week then, so really my scale is telling me that I have gained 4 pounds in 3 days by running 10 miles a day and eating 1200 calories. I'm sorry, but this really pissed me off. Part of me wanted to hurl that scale right out the window even though I'm pretty sure I know exactly what happened. When muscles are severely traumatized as mine have been the past few days (because all exercise is actually a form of trauma to the muscles anyway...that's why rest is important in order to repair the muscles!), there is inflammation and resulting water retention. So I know that's what the reason for my "weight gain" has to be. That only makes it slightly easier to bear. It's just frustrating working so hard and seeing the scale move the opposite direction than it should be.

Hindsight being 20/20 (or maybe 20/40 or so because sometimes even looking backwards things aren't so clear), I should have eased back into running more slowly. I got a little too gung-ho and set on pushing through the pain. I guess it's my inner bad-ass coming out. Hopefully the muscle soreness has eased off by tomorrow because I got an email today saying my soccer game tomorrow is back on! This is after game 1 being cancelled due to a blown transformer as previously discussed here, game 2 cancelled due to pouring rain, and the game this week was supposed to be cancelled due to some kind of filming thing (that apparently isn't taking place now). So I would really not like to hobble through my first game.

Anyway, so what I have been turning over in my mind lately is losing this last 30-40 lbs (surprise, surprise right?). For the past million months (or so it seems), I have been gaining and losing the same pound or two over and over. A plateau of epic proportions. But I came across a term I like better than plateau the other day. The blog I was reading referred to a plateau as "temporary maintenance." I think it has a more positive connotation. Because even though it is so, so easy for me to get down on myself for not losing weight, the truth of the matter is that I have never been able to maintain this particular weight before for this long. Last time I weighed around 170 lbs, I stayed that way for about 5 seconds (well, maybe longer than that, but in all honesty not longer than a few weeks). So that is something to celebrate because maintenance is no easy feat! While I'm not going to mentally berate myself, I believe I need to make a firm decision about losing this weight. I need to either to commit to losing the weight or I need to decide to be happy where I am at. Being at a somewhat "normal" weight like I am at right now, it's easy to be wishy-washy about it. I have people telling me I look fine just like I am. I am healthier than I have ever been. And while it's true that I could go through life at this weight just fine, I have made the decision that I want to finish what I started. I still have the weight to lose. It's not like I have body dysmorphia or something and think I need to lose weight even though I'm freakishly thin. Losing that weight would make me feel even better physically than I do now. And if it adds a bit more loose skin, well, what's a little more?

If you've ever read weight loss books or really any kind of self-help book (I myself have so many of these types of books, I could probably start a bookstore with them), you know there is a right and wrong way to set goals. The way that many people set a weight-loss goal is just to say "I want to lose 30 lbs." That's the extent of the goal and that's why a lot of people fail. And honestly, that's kind of what I have been doing these past few months, thinking I wanted to lose 30 lbs but not setting any kind of timeline or outlining what I needed to make that happen. So now, I'm putting out a new goal. I want to lose 30 lbs by September 14, 2014 (my 30th birthday...ahhhhh!). This amounts to 1.25 lbs a week. This is a reasonable and achievable goal. How am I going to make that happen? This took some real thought because I am already pretty compliant about eating 1200 calories a day and exercising.  But obviously I need to step things up to lose the weight because my body is used to what I am doing. However, I can't get too crazy and extreme because I know where that will lead me. Here's what I've come up with to help me reach my goal (while staying sane too):

  • Keep to 1200 calorie a day diet (it's dangerous to go any lower!) and record everything I eat. But start carb-cycling (Chris Powell's method), alternating high and low carbohydrate days and have one high calorie day a week to keep my body confused. This has worked for me before. I love carbohydrates and I know that cutting them out leads to weight loss, but cutting them out completely also leads to me being cranky and crazy. I can handle alternating high and low carb days though.
  • Keep twice a day workouts but switch things up to confuse my body and keep my body from getting so sore. Start interval training again. Alternate running with biking and the elliptical. Add swimming when it gets warm enough. 
  • Start strength training again!
  • Keep drinking at least 85 ounces of water a day, preferably over 100 ounces. Public service announcement of the day...divide your body weight by 2 in order to figure out how much water you need per day.
I think my plan is good because it is realistic and not that  drastically different from what I already do. Sometimes a few tweaks are all you need to get big results. That's what I'm hoping for!