Progress Update – as of January 29, 2014 aka I survived the plague and can post again

Height: 5’7″
Current Weight: 290.1 lbs
Loss: 3.9 lbs
Current BMI: 45.4
Loss: 0.6
Pants/Dress Size: 18, down from a 20! Hurray!

This week, I lost 3.9 lbs for a total loss so far of 11.7 lbs since January 1st. However, I have been ill this week, so I suspect that much of that loss is due more to the fact that I have been existing purely on tea, juice, noodle soup and saltines than any effort on my part. I imagine that this loss is mostly water, not fat, so it’s possible that my weight will go up next week, but we’ll see!

I did eat well and workout for the first part of the week, but I came down with a terrible chest cold/flu on Sunday and have basically been resting since then. I attempted to work out on Saturday (when I was feeling a little bit bad, but not full-blown terrible yet) and I was able to do some weights, but as soon as I got on the treadmill my lungs started screaming in protest. Much as it annoyed me to break my exercise streak, I figured that it was a better idea to rest and get better than to make my sick lungs work. I am feeling much better now – my fever has disappeared and the cold has moved from my chest to my sinuses – so I’m hoping to get in a workout today, but we’ll see how it goes. At least being sick meant that I made my goal of getting more sleep this week!

What I Did Really Well This Week:

1) For the first part of the week, I kept up my exercise routine and did very well. I also kept track of my eating and exercising, at least up until I got sick. I’m going to go back and fill it in, but at the time I didn’t have the energy to write down how many points a cup of chicken noodle soup was. Considering how poorly I felt, I will forgive myself for this lapse.

2) I ate a lot of fruit (yay Vitamin C smoothies), which was good. I don’t eat as much fruit as I should (something I’m still working on) so trying to get as much vitamin C in my system as possible forced me to eat more fruit, which I’m glad about.

3) I also got a lot of sleep. I mean, being sick, I got more than a healthy person needs, but it reminded me that I usually do not get enough for a healthy person, so I should make it more of a priority.

What I Can Improve On:

1) Eating better, as always. Always room to improve!

2) I think half the reason why I’m not getting enough sleep these days is that I work out in the evenings. I try to work out at about 7, so that by 9 I have finished and showered and all that, but for the past couple of weeks it’s been more like I start working out at 9 or even 10 or 11 some nights. I find that a) this obviously keeps me up later because I’m not done until close to 11 or midnight or sometimes even 1 am and b) exercising close to bedtime makes it harder to sleep. So one of my goals this week will be to make time in the morning or earlier in the day to work out, so that I can get to bed at decent time and that I won’t be wired when I do go to bed.

3) I am leaving this week to go visit some relatives (it’s my grandmother’s 92nd birthday on Friday and one of my cousins is moving to China and I myself am moving to New Zealand very soon, so we’re having a little meetup in Saskatchewan) so this week will be a test for me, to see if I can get in a workout when I am away. It’s one thing to be away in a hotel, because then you can kind of do whatever you want, but it’s another ball game to be in someone else’s house. I was always taught to eat whatever I was served when a guest at another person’s house, so it will be up to me this week to get in workouts in a place where there is no treadmill (yay for doing laps around an apartment building!) and to make the healthiest choice from what is available, since I will not be the one in charge of the cooking. We’ll see how it goes!

Happy losing folks, hope you all are well!

Advertisements

Progress Update – as of January 22, 2014

Height: 5’7″
Current Weight: 294.0 lbs
Loss:  1.4 lbs
Current BMI: 46.0
Loss: 0.3

So this week, I lost 1.4 lbs for a total loss so far of 7.8 lbs since January 1st. Although I am wishing that my last couple of weeks had yielded a bigger loss than just 1.5 lbs, I think that 7.8 lbs in 3 weeks is pretty good. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an average of 2.6 lbs a week. In a year, that’s 135.2 lbs!

Normally, during the week, I exercise on my treadmill for 30 minutes every day. This past week, I tried to go for an hour. Man, I overestimated my fitness level! My 30 minute workout is getting easier, but an hour of fast walking (and some jogging) is just too much for me right now. I thought I was going to pass out near the end, and after I finished I needed to use my inhaler (I have asthma), something I haven’t done in months. So clearly, I pushed myself a little bit too hard. Baby steps!

Also, part of the hour treadmill program includes a little jogging, and I could feel my butt jiggle when I did it. It was simultaneously funny and horrifying.

What I Did Really Well This Week:

1) Once again, I exercised every day. I find myself almost addicted to exercise now. I don’t always love how I feel when I’m doing it (like when I’m cursing under my breath while doing planks) but I love how it makes me feel and when I’ve showered after a great workout and I’m climbing into bed (I usually work out at night) I just feel so fresh and clean and healthy. It’s a great feeling.

2) I’m still keeping really good track of my eating and exercising. That has been a struggle for me in the past, so I’m happy that I’ve been able to keep that up.

What I Can Improve On:

1) Eating better is something that I am constantly striving for. I didn’t do that well this past week with getting more fruit and veggies in, nor with eating breakfast, so that’s something. This week I am going to try the Simply Filling plan from Weight Watchers. There are foods that are considered “Power Foods” by Weight Watchers: low-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and certain carbs like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa etc. On the normal Points Plus plan, you are assigned a certain number of points based on your age, weight, height etc. Each food has a Points Plus value and portion size is very important in tracking, as the PP value depends on the serving size. The Simply Filling plan is different. It’s a plan where you don’t have to count points, so long as you only eat Power Foods. The idea is that you eat when you’re hungry, as much as you need to feel satisfied, as long as they’re good choices. On both plans, you also get 49 weekly points to use however you like and you earn points for exercise, which can be used towards food or not used at all.

Anyway, my goal is to be on the Simply Filling plan this week. Then I can make sure that I’m making healthy choices. I am staying within my points value every day, but I’m not always necessarily using my points on the best things. I mean, you can eat 1200 calories worth of jelly beans a day and lose weight because of the calorie deficit, but you’re not exactly going to be healthy.

2) I need to get more sleep. I did better last week than the week before, but there is still so much room for improvement.

How I Feel:

Proud and happy. I admit, when I weighed myself this morning I was frustrated at only a 1.4 lb loss. With how hard I’ve been working out, I figured the number ought to read more like a 14 lb loss. But, when I reflect, 7.8 lbs in 3 weeks is pretty darn good.

There is also a part of me that is really anxious to see a difference too. I know that I’m doing well, but I haven’t really been able to see a difference in my body yet, so I’m getting antsy! But I know it will come, in time. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately, patience has never been my strong suit. I guess that’s another thing I’ll learn on this journey!

Cheers!

Changes So Far

I thought I would do a post about the changes that I have noticed in my life since I have started exercising and eating healthier. It has only been (almost) 3 weeks, so the changes aren’t huge, but even small, noticeable changes are encouraging! 

1) I can breathe! For most of my life, I have been plagued with chronic allergic rhinitis. Basically, that means that the tissue in my nose and sinuses is chronically swollen due to allergens in the air (ie animal dander, pollen, dust, mold etc.) and that most of the time, I can only breathe through one nostril. On the worst days, I sometimes can’t even breathe through my nose at all. I do have medication, but the side effects can be unpleasant (dry mouth, headaches), so it’s not the best. 

Much to my surprise, exercising every day has allowed me to breathe. It’s really quite amazing to be able to breathe without feeling like I’m not getting enough air. I didn’t expect this, so it’s been an amazing bonus! 

2) My skin is getting better. I have never really had bad skin, per se, but I am very fair, so any blemishes that I have had leave red marks that linger afterwards for, literally, years. I don’t know whether it’s the eating healthier or the extra water I’m drinking or the exercise (although probably, it’s all three) but astonishingly, many of those red marks have faded in just the few weeks I’ve been on this path. 

3) I am stronger and fitter. It has only been 3 weeks, so it’s not like I’m going to be running a marathon anytime soon, but I am finding that my treadmill routine is getting just a little bit easier to do every week, which is so exciting. I also find that certain weight-training exercises (such as planks, which I HATE) are getting easier. I am doing the Beginner #1 strength-training routine from “The Biggest Loser Fitness Program” book and I am also finding it easier each week, so fairly soon I will have to switch to the next routine. (There are 9 in all.) 

4) I mentioned this in my last blog post, but my pants appear to be looser than normal, even with a belt, which is exciting! Huzzah for losing inches! 

Exciting stuff!

Progress Update – as of January 15, 2014

My pants are falling down. I mean it. Doesn’t matter if I wear a belt, they are so loose in the waist now. I am thinking that this means I need to go down a size.

This week, I went from 295.5 to 295.4 lbs, so only a 0.1 lb loss. Disappointing BUT my pants are falling down. So I take that to mean that I am losing inches, but that the scale isn’t reflecting that, hopefully because that means that I’m gaining muscle.

Who knows?

What I Did Really Well This Week:

1) Exercise! I have exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, every single day, since January 1st. I have never, ever done that before. I am so unbelievably proud of myself for sticking with it and I am amazed at how great I feel.

2) On Wednesday night (January 8th), I tripped and rolled my foot quite badly. Because I was unable to do my traditional cardio workout, I had to improvise and I am really proud of myself. I did not let an injury be an excuse to go back to old habits, I just changed up my routine to stay off my foot and I was able to continue, without missing a day!

3) I have been extremely good lately at drinking lots of water. I have only had ONE single sugary beverage since December 31st and that beverage was a pina colada on my birthday (which was this past week, yay for being 25!). And honestly, I enjoyed that pina colada so much more because it was truly a treat.

What I Can Improve On:

1) I need to keep adding more fruits and veggies to my diet until I am getting the recommended 5-10 a day.

2) I hardly ever eat breakfast. I am really awful about it. I often just don’t feel like eating in the morning, so I’m going to try to have smoothies this week. That way I can start my day off with some fruits and veggies (I always sneak spinach or kale into my smoothies) and hopefully it won’t feel as heavy on my stomach as something like oatmeal or eggs.

3) I am usually really good about tracking absolutely every single thing I eat, but this week I had a couple of birthday dinners and so I think that I wasn’t 100% accurate with my tracking. I will improve on that next week.

4) I should get more sleep. I have been going to bed too late for the last few days and I wake up feeling tired, so I’m hoping to go to bed earlier this week.

How I Feel:

Even though I wasn’t perfect in my efforts this week (although really, will I ever be 100% perfect? doubtful) I am still really proud of how I have been doing over the past couple of weeks and it makes me happy and excited to move forward.

Happy exercising, folks!

Progress Update – as of January 8, 2014

I have decided to switch my weigh-in/measurement day to Wednesday (from Monday) because that happened to be the date that I really started my exercise and healthy eating program, so I thought it made the most sense to keep it on Wednesdays. Here are my current stats:

Height: 5’7″
Weight: 295.5 lbs
BMI: 46.4
Bust: 50 in.
Waist: 56 in.
Hips: 51.5 in.
Pants/Dress Size: 20

So, as of my start of this blog (December 5), I have lost 7.7 lbs. As of my “official” start, that is when I really started watching what I eat and exercising (January 1st), I have lost 6.3 lbs. My BMI has dropped from 47.5 to 46.4.

My measurements and my pants/dress size are the same at the moment, but I didn’t expect them to change with just a 6 lb loss. By the beginning of next month though, maybe I’ll be down a couple of inches, we’ll see!

What I Did Really Well This Week:

1) I exercised for at least 30 minutes a day, every day. I made sure not to push myself too hard so that I wouldn’t get discouraged or sore. I did weights 3 times this past week and every day I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes at varying speeds and inclines, but always keeping a brisk pace. I also rowed 1000-2000 m on my rowing machine every day and made sure that I stretched very well after my workouts.

2) I tracked every single thing I ate or drank for the entire week. It sounds tedious, but I made up a food and exercise spreadsheet for myself so I can keep track of what I eat and drink each day and the exercise that I do. After the first couple of days of writing down my food, it actually became second nature to me and I am proud of myself for sticking with it.

3) Cutting out pop (soda in some parts of the world) and drinking water and tea instead was a challenge, but I did a great job this week. I actually find that a cold bottle of water sounds much more refreshing and thirst-quenching to me than a cold bottle of Coca-Cola these days.

What I Can Improve On:

1) I didn’t make as many healthy choices as I wanted to this week. I stayed within my Weight Watchers points limit, but I chose the banana bread over the banana more often that I wanted to. My goal this week is to make the more nutritious choice when I can and to eat more fruits and vegetables.

2) I wanted to do yoga this week, but I didn’t make enough time in my day for it, so I’m hoping to improve on that in the weeks to come.

3) This week I want to spend more time outside. I live in the Canadian prairies (and yes, -40 degrees is a reality in the winter around here) so it’s not always practical to be outside in the winter, but the weather this week is supposed to lovely and sunny and relatively warm, so I’d like to get out more on those sunny days and go skating or skiing or just snow-shoeing or walking.

How I Feel:

I honestly feel amazing. Even though I didn’t make perfect choices this week and even though I still have a long way to go, I feel like I am on the right path. I have always been one of those people who likes exercise and so walking is never a chore for me, it’s just that in the past I never made time for it. Now that I am making exercise a priority, I find that I actually look forward to my workouts every day because they just make me feel so good.

All in all, I am really happy with how I did. I mean, a 6.3 lb loss speaks for itself! Hopefully this week will be just as good!

How I Stay Motivated

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

I don’t know who wrote the above quote, but I really like it. I think that thinking about the end goal is something that is really important when committing yourself to healthy eating and exercise.

I thought I would share my tips for staying motivated to exercise and work out. I’m no expert in this field (otherwise I would have my weight under control already) but I have learned some strategies over time that I thought might be helpful.

1) Recognize your mistakes, but forgive yourself

I think that this is the most important one of all. Recognize that you are not perfect. Recognize that if you go a day without exercising or you accidentally inhale a bag of chips without thinking, it is not the end of the world. Of course, you want to make good choices and to exercise and to watch your portions. But we are all human. We are allowed to slip up and make mistakes. The important thing is to realize that there is always tomorrow.

2) Don’t let failure define you

The absolute worst thing that you can do when you slip up in your routine is to throw in the towel. It is okay to fail. We all do it. So just take it as a learning experience and keep going. It reminds me of another quote that I love: “Just because you miss a step doesn’t mean that you should throw yourself down the whole flight.”

I used to make this mistake a LOT. I would put myself on a ridiculously restrictive diet and an intense exercise routine and when I (inevitably) went off the diet or missed a workout, I thought to myself “Well, I guess that’s that, I might as well just accept that I’ll be fat forever” and I would go right back to my unhealthy habits. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Just keep going and learn.

3) Love the positive, don’t dwell on the negative

There will no doubt be weeks where you eat something you “shouldn’t” or you miss a workout or you don’t lose as much weight as you thought you would. That is okay. It happens to us all. But instead of thinking “I shouldn’t have had that piece of cake” or “I really wish I had lost more weight this week”, think about the positive. What did you do this week that was great? Maybe you learned to cook an awesome new healthy recipe, maybe you tried a new delicious food, maybe you finally mastered a really hard yoga pose. Find something great that you did this week and be proud of that!

4) Reach out for help and support

It can be really hard, sometimes, to admit that you need help. I consider myself to be a very independent person and it is really hard for me to admit that something is too hard and that I need help. But it’s okay to ask for help and support.

It can be embarrassing to admit that you have a weight problem, but the people who love you aren’t going to care. Trust me. Anytime that I have ever mentioned my weight to anyone or talked about how I’m on Weight Watchers and I’m trying to lose weight, everybody has been extremely supportive and encouraging. The more people you have around you that are rooting for you, the easier it is to continue with your goals, especially if some of your friends have similar goals. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like exercise, sign up for a class at the gym with a friend or go for walks. Having a support system around you is invaluable.

5) Be Realistic

Many people find themselves getting discouraged because they’re not losing as much weight as they think they should or because they eat “bad” food. But I think that a lot of that discouragement could be avoided by making more realistic goals.

I honestly do not have a specific weight goal, nor do I have a weekly weight goal. My aim is to be healthy above all else. I want my meals to consist of nutritious food, I want to feel better, I want to get myself to a healthy BMI and I want to increase my fitness level. I will decide when I get there what my “ideal weight” is, it depends on how I feel. It could be 130 or 150 or 180 lbs, who knows?

My point is that though it is great to have goals, they are not the be all, end all. If you don’t reach a goal in the time you wanted, that’s okay. Just keep trying. And don’t make your goals too far out of reach. It’s one thing to try to lose 10 lbs by March 1st, it’s quite another to want to lose 50 lbs. To be healthy and to ensure that you are losing fat, not muscle, your weight loss should max out at an average of 2lbs per week, so 50 lbs in such a short time is not a healthy goal.

I also caution against “all or nothing” diets. In my personal experience, they do not work. I need balance in my life and I need the freedom to be able to have a piece of cake or some chocolate or a margarita without feeling like I have ruined my plan. Moderation, at least for me, is the key to making realistic goals.

6) Reward Yourself

I have a workout calendar on my wall and every time that I work out, I get a sticker. Maybe it’s my inner child talking, but I love seeing those stickers. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to look at the calendar and see that it’s completely full of those little stars, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something.

I also have a list of things that I want that I made recently and I am going to draw up a reward system for myself, based on those. For example: a month of workouts means that I can get a pedicure, 25 lbs means new shoes, 75 lbs means a leather jacket etc. etc.

If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself, maybe having something to work towards will be the kick in the pants you need.

7) Shop Smart

Firstly, don’t shop hungry. I’m serious. This one seems silly, but I find that I give in to temptation at the grocery store so much more when I am hungry and then I come back with tons of junk. If I am full or I have just exercised, I think that I make much better choices.

Secondly, make your shopping list by section and stick to the perimeter. The perimeter of most stores are where the staples are: bread, milk, meat, cheese, produce. I find it easier to shop when I make my list according to where items in the store so that I can go through the store quickly, without having to traipse back and forth through the tempting aisles.

Thirdly, it is easier to say no in the store than to say no 100 times at home. I encourage people to make the best choices they can and to stay away from nutritionally-deficient junk food, but sometimes you just need to have it, you know? I understand that, I have Doritos and Oreos in my house as we speak. But, sometimes there are foods that are best to avoid. If you know that if you are going to have serious problems controlling yourself around a certain food, then it might be a good idea to put that item back on the shelf. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have it ever again, but if you’re worried that you’ll binge on it, then putting it back or finding a smaller serving size might be a better option. If you buy it and you eat it all in one sitting, don’t beat yourself up about it, but be at least be aware that it is a problem food for you.

8) Do it for you

Weight loss and getting healthy should be for you and you alone. Yes, it might be nice to show off a new body to your partner or spouse, but at the end of the day you are the one that is putting in the effort. Do it because you deserve to be fit and healthy and happy, not because anyone told you to.  The motivation is easier to find when you’re the one that is going to reap the happy, healthy benefits at the end of the day.

Whenever I am feeling frustrated or tired or overwhelmed, I just take a moment to remember these points and reflect about why I embarked on this journey. I realize that I am not perfect and that no matter that I try to make good choices and to eat the most nutritious foods that I can, some days I am going to want ice cream or potato chips and that is okay. I plan on doing this for the rest of my life and I need to know that I have some wiggle room. My goal is to be fit and healthy, but also to enjoy my life and to find a balance between healthy living and indulging on occasion. I think that recognizing patterns and bad habits, learning from mistakes and forgiving oneself are just as important on this journey as healthy eating and exercise.

If you are looking for motivation, I hope that these tips might have helped you. Cheers!

Shingles = Stroke?

On the news yesterday, there was a story about how a university in England (Oxford, perhaps? I can’t quite remember) had discovered that people who had shingles at a young age are 74% more likely to have a stroke and 50% more like to have a heart attack.

74%!

I had shingles as a teenager. They say that 18-40 is the “risk factor zone”. I’m sure that I was younger than 18 when I had them, but I was at least 15 so I don’t know that it puts me out of the woods. They are urging people who had shingles at a young age to get tested for stroke or heart risk factors, including obesity. One more reason for me to lose weight!

Shingles (also known as herpes zoster – ew) is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which remains in your body if you’ve ever had chickenpox. Apparently, since it’s a viral infection, it can spread to the arteries, affecting cardiovascular health.

It flares up when you have a weakened immune system, like if you are older or unhealthy or stressed. I’m no doctor or researcher, but I wonder if obese people have a higher rate of having shingles, if they’re brought on by poor health. (Not saying that all overweight people are in poor health and that all skinny people are in great health, but just in general.) If a young person gets shingles because they’re in poor health because they’re overweight, then if they continue to have poor health for the remainder of their life, being overweight AND having previously had shingles both ups their risk of stroke and heart attack. I imagine that factors in there somewhere.

Either way, scary stuff. One of my maternal uncles had a stroke a few years ago and my dad’s twin sister (she and my dad both suffer from heart issues) had a heart attack a few years ago, both at relatively young ages (early 60s for my uncle, 55 for my aunt). Both of them survived and had no lasting damage but still…scary scary scary.

Just one more reason for me to get healthy!