Saturday, January 31, 2015

Changes in Attitudes

After an indulgent 24 hours celebrating my son's birthday, and taking bites of unhealthy sweets and chips, I'm finally over it and back on track.

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake - our official family birthday cake.

I've read many times that you can't out-exercise a bad diet.  That may be true, but I have now experienced a few occasions, when my food choices were not good, I forced myself to get out there and exercise.  I have to say that those workouts weren't really about burning the extra calories.  It was about what it did ABOVE my shoulders.  Exercise hits the re-set button that switches me away from my "old place" of overeating that used to spiral out of control and transitions to my current, healthy, athletic self that is taking control and choosing wisely.

As I jogged one of my favorite beautiful trails today I was thankful for my healthier body.  I enjoyed the feeling of being able to run up hills, and breathe the fresh air.  Today my attitude changed from someone who was eating sugar and feeling tired and unmotivated, to someone who said "no excuses, get out there."  It felt wonderful and was one of my best runs.

Some friends and I have joined together to run/walk 2015 miles in 2015.  I'm ending January with 64.8 miles logged!  I'm also ending the month with sore muscles from strength training.  2015 is going okay so far, and I'll keep challenging myself to make healthy diet and exercise choices so that I can enjoy this active life for as long as possible.

On another note, I've been thinking about changing the name of my blog to something that reflects my new healthy lifestyle and challenges.  I'm very proud of my success using Optifast products, but as I move forward, my reflections have been more than about weight loss.  I haven't come up with a new name, it's just an idea that I'm toying with.  If I do switch, I'll be adding Formerly, Optifast Adventurer so that readers and searchers will know that it's me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Staying on Track

It's tough!

I feel like it is a real struggle for me to fully get back on track.  I'm trying to figure out if this is just the new "steady state" of being a person who lost lots of weight and now needs to keep it off - the snack and meal decisions that are sometimes perfect and sometimes unhealthy.  I know the unhealthy ones add up.

I could look on the positive side at how far I've come and the new habits that I've acquired, but right now, I need to face the ugly truth.  Peanut butter is crack to me.  I love whole wheat bread, and have started eating it.  I'm feeling more snackish than I did when I wasn't choosing to eat bread.

I just started reading some of my old blog posts, and remembered my Optifast workbook.  These are some of the suggestions:

  • Ask yourself if you're really hungry.  If you're not, physically leave the kitchen.
  • Do some deep breathing, and let the breath out slowly.  Relax.
  • Am I having an emotional trigger?  Go outside, walk around, breathe, find a distraction or ask if this is an issue I can control and evaluate it.
  • Fix something to drink.  Make sure that it's not thirst, instead of hunger.
  • Get rid of the trigger food(s).  Ugh. 
Tomorrow I'm going to weigh myself since it has been a couple of days.  I know that regular weighing helps me to stay accountable and keeps my head in the game.  I also recently started my TOM so I didn't feel very light, if you know what I mean.

I also notice some correlation with the time of my cycle and my desire to eat more.  Maybe the hormones trigger anxiety, I don't know.  But I sure as heck can practice better coping strategies.  Repeated practice is my only hope for change.

There are no quick fixes, of that I'm certain.  I just wanted to publicly proclaim that I'm not backing down from the challenge.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Completing My First Half Marathon

170 lbs.

Last weekend I completed my first half marathon!  It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end.  Starting off, I got to meet three great women, two of whom I only knew through a blog, or Facebook.  That was really neat.

When I began my weight loss adventure a year ago, I kept pretty quiet with my close circle of friends, and I didn't speak at all about it publicly on Facebook.  After years of trying, it seemed too risky, or I felt like it might be be a pathway to self-sabotage.  Instead, I started this blog, and discovered a world of bloggers who either had gone through, or were currently going through the same experience, sometimes with the same program.  Each day I would check their blogs for the latest news on their progress and experiences.  It was very motivating and inspiring.  These people, along with my Optifast classmates became my primary support system.  I'm living proof that that you can gain a tremendous amount of support from friends you only know online.

Fast forward to one year later, and after commenting on each other's blogs and joining shared Facebook groups, I got to actually meet two wonderful people -- Optifastmom aka Martha, and Jarmila, of the Facebook group From Fat to Finish Line and Optifast Maintenance.  I also met up with Jarmila's friend Peggy, a running veteran. What a cool experience to meet them in person, and put a voice to the picture!

Jarmila and Martha lost weight through Optifast, but they are also kick-ass runners who have logged several races, several half marathons, and in the case of Jarmila, one marathon.  I couldn't ask for better companions and coaches as I prepared for my first half marathon.  It was through reading OptifastMom that I first got the idea to try and jog a little bit during my exercise walks.  Jarmila was also so sweet and kind, offering encouragement and positive energy for this experience.
Martha, me and Jarmila at the Expo to pick up bibs.
Peggy (Jarmila's friend), Jarmila, Martha and me at lunch before the Expo.  Our first meeting!
I'm thrilled to call these wonderful ladies my friends -- no long virtual friends.  We will continue to be there to motivate and encourage one another, and share ideas.  All of us are battling weight maintenance, and it is great to know that I'm not alone in my struggles to keep the weight off.  This is a normal part of life now.

Here are more pictures of race day.
I arrived bright and early, just me and a few assorted workers.  All is quiet. I am wearing one of my favorite sweaters from my overweight days.  I will symbolically shed it during the race.  The clothing is donated to a local charity.
Me, Peggy and Jarmila before the race, at our corral.  Ready to Rock 'n' Roll.
Martha took this pic of me running across the finish line.  I got a second wind at the end and was able to run the last half mile or so.  I completed the race in 3:03 -- ahead of my goal.  It felt great!
Caught up with Martha and posed with our bling.
Post-race beer selfie!
One last photo with my medal, before getting cleaned up!
Diet and Maintenance Musings

Well, I took carb-loading to a new level before and right after the race.  Beans, pita chips, pancakes, banana bread, bagels, enchiladas, margaritas, wine... you get the picture.

It was fun while it lasted, and I admit that it's hard to get back on the wagon after indulging in the foods that I have mostly avoided for so long (wine excluded!).  But here I am, my weight is up, and I have no more excuses to eat.  I'm back to normal running distances, and I also began a weight lifting program at my new gym.  My goal is to build muscle to help build my metabolism.  I'm also going to work very hard to keep to my 1400 calorie limit, and not eat back exercise calories.

It feels good to begin again.  I also know that I'm not alone in my struggles.  I'm reading lots and lots of blogs and Facebook posts from people who are in exactly the same boat and working their way back to better eating and a healthier weight.

I'm taking it one meal and snack at a time.  One decision at a time.  I may not be 100% right now, but my mind and heart are in the game, and I'll take that as a positive sign.

Of course my mind is thinking about all of the special gatherings I have ahead of me.  I'm subbing for a fun Bunco group tonight, and will have to pass on the M&Ms and snacks.  I am having a special gathering with some friends this weekend, and alcohol will be served.  My goal is to have one drink and then pop open the sparkling water.

Valentine's Day, my 25th wedding anniversary, Passover Seder, Easter (we celebrate both), my birthday...etc.  That is only through April.  I was thinking about all of these events, because I've noticed that my life seems to be packed with them all of the time.  I'm very, very lucky to have so many wonderful people and events in my life.  I just have to reframe them differently.  They don't have to be occasions to eat and drink poorly.  When I was on Optifast, I managed them.  It's time for me to really develop a strategy around life events now that I'm eating food.  It will require me to feel so strongly about my health, that I'm willing to pass on opportunities to eat and drink alcohol, or limit the exposure to one day.  Balance.  That is what I'm striving for.  I can and I will.

I'll leave you with a great blog post that I read at The Weight Loss Counter Revolution.  Falling Off the Wagon is a great read!  It's all part of the journey, and we aren't going to be 100% perfect.  It's a good one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thoughtful Posts this "Diet Season"

Today is a great day.  I can and I will.

Like many people, I'm struggling to regain my footing after the temptations of the holiday season.  I have good meals and bad meals, good snacks and bad snacks.  I can't say that I blow the whole day, but I have chosen meals or snacks that I know don't fit into my food template.  This is something I want to change, and I will change.

Although I rarely get to watch award shows (living in a house full of men), I was able to watch the Golden Globes a few days ago.  Many of the speeches were wonderful, but there was one that has had a lasting impact on me.  Gina Rodriguez, who won a Best Actress award, recounted a mantra that her father taught her.  "Today is a great day.  I can and I will."

What a powerful mindset in which to start your day.  This phrase really speaks to me with regard to facing my diet challenges.  I CAN see that off-program food, and I WILL say "no" to the inner voice that wants to eat it.  I choose to be a strong, healthy woman.

I read a wonderful, spot-on post today by Diane Carbonell over at Fit to the Finish.  In What To Do When That Food Calls Your Name, Diane gives a voice to those food items that we want to eat, even when we know they are unhealthy for us, or not in alignment with our health goals.  "You need me."  "You deserve me."  "You love me."  I don't know about you, but I sure have heard those voices when faced with unhealthy foods and unfortunately, recently I have caved in.  Diane speaks clearly and honestly about how we feel after caving in.  If you have the chance, please read the full blogpost.

Since the reintroduction of food after my full fast using Optifast 70 products, I've chosen to restrict my carbohydrate intake.   Admittedly, giving up cookies and sweets has been the most difficult part of this, but I also know that I needn't give up sweet treats altogether, as there are a number of low carb desserts and treats to choose from if I get a craving.  I read another great blogpost from the Low Carb Dietician, Five Tips for Achieving Low Carb Weight Loss Success in 2015.  She provided some science-based clarification on approaching a sustainable low carb diet and addressed the issue of high fat, low carb (something to not go too crazy with because of high calories), as well as tips for dining out and eating when you're sick.  It's a great read, and my resolve was bolstered by it.

If you're starting out on your weight loss journey, I wish you the best.  It can be done.  You can and you will.   It doesn't end there, though.  Losing weight is just the start of a lifelong awareness of being healthy and making choices to stay healthy.  It's sometimes discouraging, and right now for me, it is often frightening because I want to feel like I have a handle on it, as an insurance policy against weight gain and going back to how things were.  I want to know that if I follow that "Recipe for Success" to a "T" that I'll be fine.  But I know that for me it's more complicated than that.  My body system is complicated and my mind sometimes fights against me.

This will probably be the last post before I head to Phoenix for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  I am under-prepared, but hopeful that I'll finish without injury.  I'm sure it will be an amazing experience.  I will also meet up with some virtual friends who have helped me and inspired me on my weight loss journey.  That means a lot to me!  I'll post photos for sure.

When I was 257 pounds it was intimidating to start exercise and to be seen in a bathing suit or out sweating on the gym machines. It took a great deal of humility and determination to say "to heck with it" and just do what I know was good for my body.  It also didn't take long for me to see positive results -- being stronger, more flexible, going faster for longer periods of time.  Yesterday a friend posted this awesome video that completely inspired me to keep moving and finding my athletic self.   I'll end my post with it and hope that it inspires all of you women with some "jiggle" to keep on going and never look back.  It's like one of those bad-ass Nike videos for us real women.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Half Marathon Prep and Playlist

166 lbs. (moving in the right direction)

I'm a little scared, but getting excited about running my first half marathon next weekend.  I've been training to run/walk in equal intervals, and have been maintaining a pace that will help me finish before my goal of 3:30.  Of course, since it's my first big race, I'm not sure how I'll do given the unfamiliar course, and my own well being on the race day.  13.1 miles will be my longest distance, even in training.  I plan to have my last long run tomorrow and will make it 11 miles, then I'm going to rest and only do a couple of short walks to keep moving.  I admit that I'm not doing this according to a training schedule.  I'm committed to changing that for future races, and will be more disciplined.

My diet has been mostly on target, with a couple of off-days.  I'm happy to see my weight move down, and I'll continue to add in some low calorie meal replacements to help spur further weight loss.  It would be nice to be down another pound or two before the race.

The Playlist

When I discovered the power of music on my mental focus and physical performance, it was a game-changer for me.  Right from the start of my weight loss journey, I made playlists and listened to them one or more times per day as a means of staying focused on my diet/health or increasing my exercise stamina.  I've written about it here and here.  Making a self-reflective and encouraging playlist was probably one of my top tools on this journey.  Some people may have a mantra that they repeat every day, but for me, when I hear this music in the car, or when I'm walking, I'm reminded of the day that I began my weight loss, and I focus on that mindset.

I've created playlists for my exercise as well.  When I subscribed to the FitRadio app, my walking tempo increased dramatically, and then I found myself starting to jog in spots.  That is when I started to love exercising.  Recently I learned about the Amazon Prime Music App, which gives Prime members access to an incredible amount of free music that can be downloaded onto your phone, and does not require data to access.  I found lots of "Cardio Workout" music and culled the internet for recommendations on favorite workout songs.  I've found some excellent music that I never would have found otherwise.  It's not all music that I listen to for pleasure, but it has 138-150 bpm, which keeps me walking or jogging 4.0-5mph, and I admit, it kind of kicks up the endorphins!

Here's the list I made for my half marathon training and race (I shuffle it).  Some of the songs I have in my playlist more than once because they have such a positive effect on me, or they have the perfect tempo.  I'm still adding to it!

Days Go By, The Offspring
Be Good to Yourself, Journey
New Shoes, Paolo Nutini
Gangsta's Paradise, Coolio
Give Love, MC Yogi
Cup of Life, Ricky Martin
Let's Go, Calvin Harris
Under African Skies, Paul Simon
The Obvious Child, Paul Simon
Live Your Life, T.I.
Just the Way You Are, Cardio Workout
Further to Fly, Paul Simon
Firework, Katie Perry
Just Like Heaven, The Cure
Mrs. Robinson, The Lemonheads
Stuck in a Moment, U2
Beautiful Day, U2
Veronica, Elvis Costello
Mambo No. 5, Lou Bega
The Distance, Cake
Remember the Name, Fort Minor
Shine Like a New Pin, Camera Obscura
Such Great Heights, The Postal Service
Friday I'm In Love, The Cure
Lo Boob Oscillator, Stereolab
Viva la Vida, Coldplay
Evangeline, Los Lobos
Industrial Disease, Dire Straits
If You Want Blood, AC/DC
Temptation, New Order
Get Ur Freak On, Missy Elliott
Runaway Baby, Bruno Mars
C'Mon, Tiesto & Diplo
Music, Darude
Feel the Beat, Darude
I Ran, Darude
Born at the Right Time, Paul Simon

Saturday, January 3, 2015

One Year, No Fear

170.6 lbs.  (post-cruise damage, new year starting point)

"One Year, No Fear" is what will be printed on my bib for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon.  It commemorates the first anniversary of the healthy weight loss adventure that I began exactly one year ago today.  Here is what I wrote that day.

I'd like to talk about a couple of things in this post.  First, I'll give a little update on the cruise that I just returned from last night.  Finally, I'll talk about my new weight and fitness goals and strategies.  I must keep moving forward because I have plenty of experiences to remind me of how much more fun it is to live in a healthier body.  It is worth working for.

The Cruise

We just returned from a beautiful seven night Caribbean cruise with my brother and his family.  It was a very active and adventurous trip and we created some special family memories together.  Here are the highlights:

  • I kept up with my training runs and clocked in almost 25 miles over the 7 day cruise (ran 5 of the 7 days).  I was able to use my fitbit to track the distance, but I missed my usual phone apps due to the lack of phone service.  Oh well.  
  • On New Year's Eve I did a long run, 7 miles, and by the stroke of midnight, ended 2014 with over 28,000 steps on my fitbit from all the running, walking and dancing :-)  It was an awesome way to end 2014!  
  • I was able to stick with my eating program of protein, vegetables and fruit for two of the three meals per day, but when dinner rolled around, I enjoyed a few sugary cocktails or glasses of wine, as well as bread and dessert every night.  I could have made better choices, but I had planned for this.  My water intake was pretty low most days, too, though I brought my water bottle and tried to keep it filled up and nearby most of the time.
  • Tried and succeeded at stand up paddle boarding!!!  I don't have that picture yet, but I'll post it some day when my brother sends it.  It was so much fun, and ticks a box on my bucket list.  Awesome!
  • Tubed a winding river and hiked to and through water falls.  I even jumped off a cliff into a deep pool of spring water!  I wore a bathing suit in public the whole time, and while I felt a little self-conscious, I knew it was okay.
  • Enjoyed swimming and snorkeling for two of the days and saw some amazing coral and fish.  It was the best snorkeling of my life.  I took my younger son snorkeling for his first time, and will never forget his reaction to swimming with schools of beautiful, colorful fish.  Priceless.
  • Walked all over the place and danced the night away on New Year's Eve with my family and was able to keep up with the group without a problem.  
  • Fit into airline seats, shuttle seats, deck chairs, trolley cars, inner tubes.  I was able to lay down in the sand, and get back up again without help.  These are some of the sensitive issues that I faced in the past.
There are many, many choices that I could have made differently, but I planned to splurge and my weight reflects it.  I enjoyed the family time with my brother and his family.  We played lots of games together, and of course, went on lots of adventures.  I really enjoyed myself on this trip, now that I'm in better shape!

Watching the sunrise during my morning runs on deck.
My Weight and Fitness Goals for the New Year

Weight Goals:  The beginning of this year I will focus my attention on getting my weight back down to a healthier level.  I am well above where I want to be, and I can feel how the extra weight is making my knees more sore after running, and my pants a little tighter.  I'm going to do a mixture of meal/snack replacements (Optifast, protein smoothies) and soup/"lean and green" meals.  While away on the cruise, I was not able to continue my almost one-year MyFitnessPal logging streak, so that begins again, and I look forward to starting over.  I will look back on some of my earlier menus and calorie levels and try and get back to losing 1-2 pounds per week until I reach my new weight goal, which is 148 lbs.  This will get me into the healthy BMI range and will give me some wiggle room for a healthy weight maintenance range.  In the past, when I have set a time frame on weight loss, I have sabotaged myself.  For now, I'm going to give myself this year to reach my weight goal, and really look at it as a process of learning how to balance times of excess eating with the majority of time eating leaner and healthier snacks and meals.  My goal is to establish a pattern of balance with regard to eating (tracking my food) and get down to 148 lbs.

Fitness Goals:  In a couple of weeks I'm going to run/walk my first half marathon, the PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix.   For this first race, my goal is to finish in 3:30.  They start sweeping up the stragglers at 4 hours, so I really, really just want to finish!  Up to this point though, I haven't been very structured about training schedules or fitness classes.  I am going to shift my focus to building more muscle and running farther and faster.  My gym offers a strength class two days per week, and so I'm going to make a firm date with myself and start attending both sessions.  I'm also going to re-start the C25K app and run three 5K races this year without walking - I'll be looking at some upcoming races to sign up for.  Some of my Optifast Maintainer friends on Facebook have invited me to join them on a team to run 2015 miles in 2015.  I still need to get the details on this, but I'm all-in!  My fitness goal is to develop a structure to my workouts and running training.

That's where it all stands right now.  No Fear.  More details on all of this to come.  If you are new to Optifast and have stumbled upon my blog, please feel free to make comments or ask questions.  I'm happy to help support you! Happy New Year everyone!