Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Post-Vacation Run-Down and New Maintenance Class

154 lbs.

It feels like ages since I wrote a blogpost, but I've packed a lot of living into the past week!  We just returned from a 5 day vacation back east to New York and Connecticut.  It was fantastic, just my husband and myself without kiddos.  It was in part to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday, which is this weekend, and so we spent a couple of days in New York City walking around and visiting a couple of places that we have never seen before, which was wonderful.  Let me give you a little travelogue, but then I want to touch on my diet and exercise experience.

Our first stop was a visit to the Freedom Tower.  We lived in the area during 9/11 so it was an emotional time that is etched in our memories.  We visited the beautiful and poignant 9/11 Memorial Museum.  I've lived through natural disasters as well as this act of terrorism, and what has shined through very clearly and loudly is the abundance of goodness and kindness that such tragedies bring out in people.  The museum is highly focused on the humanity of the victims as well as the whole world who came to the aid of NYC and the United States at that time.  It's a must-see if ever you visit New York City.

Freedom Tower in New York City
We took in a show by buying last minute deep discount tickets at the TKTS booth.  We saw Newsical the Musical -- a very tiny and entertaining show off Broadway.

On Wednesday night, we took in Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre - an amazing historic theatre in Harlem - where many R&B artists got their start.  I don't know which came first, Amateur Night or the Gong Show, but both are somewhat similar.  It is a talent show where the audience gets to decide who stays and who goes.  You can "boo" people off the stage.  It only happened once, and I think the guy was a plant.  You also get to pick the winner for the evening who then goes on to another round for a big cash prize.  But really, you'll be up cheering, dancing and laughing throughout this show :-) Loved it!
Apollo Theatre
View from our hotel room!
 I walked my butt off in New York, even though I developed a terrible cold on the first day.  Eating wise, I tried my best to stick to mostly protein, fruits and veggies, though I had a few slices of amazing fresh Italian bread at a restaurant in Little Italy.  They were small slices, but since my eating strategy allowed for special treats, I ate them without any guilt, and enjoyed them dipped in a seasoned olive oil.  I found it easy to eat eggs for breakfast and that meal kept me satisfied.  We snacked on fruit and nuts and lunched on meat dishes.  All in all, I was able to stick to my plan, and indulge in only a half of a dark chocolate bar as a sweet treat, and a glass or two of wine along the way.

After leaving New York, we headed north to Connecticut for my husbands 20th graduate school reunion.  The Fall foliage was perfect!!!  We went on a lovely hike and picked apples.

I miss the Fall!!  Living in Southern California, we don't get to experience the changing of the seasons, so this was such a special treat for me!

As the Connecticut part of our trip was more social, I did find myself at the mercy of what was being served the the various events I attended.  I was able to find good protein choices, and then just gave myself literally "tastes" of some of the special dishes that were served.  I drank wine when it was served, and even had a couple of pieces of some special desserts.  To balance this, I woke up early and walked every morning.  The hotel had a gym, but this was Fall in New England!  I wasn't going to miss the chance to take it all in and exercise outside.

This trip taught me to maximize the choices that I CAN make, and then enjoy some treats if they are special enough to count the calories.  I kept a record of my eating on MyFitnessPal, and logged my exercise, just like at home.  It was easy to do this on my phone, and it kept me aware of my weight loss and health journey.  I could make conscious choices this way.  But I have to say that wearing cute clothes and receiving kind remarks from friends were the best incentive to stay focused on my health and seek balance.  I won't lie to you, it was a scary feeling to be in a position to eat things that wouldn't normally be my first and best diet food choices.  Circumstances weren't always perfect and I just had to accept that and do my best to keep moving and burning calories.

I didn't view exercise as a chore, though.  It was highly enjoyable and on one level reinforced my new identity as a healthy, fit person.  I can't tell you what a cool feeling that was for me.

Starting Maintenance Class

Yesterday I started my Maintenance Class at the Positive Choices Clinic.  I weighed in (had only gained a pound from the trip) and then entered another room of people who were (mostly) at the point of maintaining weight.  I didn't know what to expect from this class, but it really is off to a promising start, and I think it will be very interesting and helpful.

We will cover lots of ground about nutrition and exercise (more encouragement to do strength training).  I have to admit that I was relieved to see that my instructor has a view of nutrition that seems to be very much based on the latest research, and not just a dust-off of the food pyramid.  He stressed food-combining, which is something I haven't really been exposed to.  This involves paring foods during meals and snacks so that the insulin spikes can be optimized/minimized.  He wants us to shoot for eating 20g of protein at breakfast, and to pair up any carbohydrate food with either a protein or fat, so that the insulin spike is minimized.  It was great to hear from him that dietary fat isn't the enemy, and even causes the release of hormones in the body to signal "fullness".

In his opinion, the consumption of too many simple carbohydrates is what makes most people overweight.  I have to agree that this was the case with me, and it is this concept that is forming my new eating strategy.  We learned that when blood sugar crashes, our body secretes hormones that make us ravenous, food-seeking robots.  We are created to seek and find the most high calorie food to feed our bodies immediately and quickly.  I've felt this way before :-) and polished off many cookies and boxes of cereal during my crash moments.

According to our instructor, we are going to learn how to become "fat burning machines" by:

  • Eating enough calories (1200-1500 cals minimum for women, 1500-1700 cals for men).  Our low calorie days are over and we want to fuel our bodies for maximum performance.  No starvation mode.
  • Eat more frequently.  Every three or four hours to avoid low blood sugar and the evil "hungries"  This also maximizes the functioning of our metabolism.
  • Burn calories through cardio exercise.  It teaches our body how to burn fat as fuel and regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Build more muscle.  It builds lean body mass which maximizes daily calorie burn.
Sorry for such a long post.  I am excited about this next phase in my health education, and I'll post more later as I live my life in maintenance.

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