Information Overload

Well, the Biggest Loser Bootcamp concluded last Sunday. My overall weight loss was not stellar, but I lost 5 lbs and 9.5 inches. The parts where I really improved were my overall level of fitness. At the beginning of the bootcamp, I could barely do a lunge and I definitely could not do any kind of jumping. By the end of the bootcamp, I am proud to say that I can do 15 burpees in a minute (minus the jump, just not there yet!), 20 full push-ups, and I am jumping and lunging all over the place. I also was able to beat my personal best on the Jacob’s Ladder by 100 steps, making for 350! And yeah, I think that’s a pretty BFD.

As I said, I only lost 5 lbs, but I totally own that it was all me. I have terrible eating habits, and the early weeks proved that all the exercise in the world wasn’t going to fix that. You can’t outrun your fork, people! After my last post, I found this site that basically told me that I was eating too much. The author was pretty much a dick about it, but regardless, it got me thinking about my food log and whether or not I was truly adding EVERYTHING I was eating. Well, it turns out, I wasn’t, so I started ruthlessly logging every little bite that passed my lips, and measuring everything I ate so I had the most accurate calorie count. That next week, I lost 3 lbs. Then we started shifts but I still managed to lose weight at a rate of 1 lb a week. Then-I got sidetracked yet again.

I wasn’t seeing results like other people in the camp, and so, of course, what’s my go-to? The Internet. The lovely, lovely, internet. I completely overwhelmed myself with information, and then I was questioning my overall diet. Should I go low carb? Maybe temporarily? Would Paleo be better? Maybe I should start hunting and killing and eating my meat (I laughed when I thought that. I like my meat on a styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic, or flash frozen in neat little individual servings). Everything I read seemed to conflict with something else I had already read, or thought, or felt. It all started with a, “Hey, that recipe looks good” click, and I had opened the hydrant.

I went from Paleo to low carb to low carb/high fat to moderate carb/moderate fat/high protein. Grains were bad, sugar was worse, Fat was not the devil, as long as it came from x, y, z and not from a, b, c. Paleo sounded the best, I thought I could eat like that for the most part. But it seems really labor intensive to follow properly, not to mention the expense. I don’t have ready access to a large selection of organic produce. Grass fed meats are mega expensive and I don’t have that in my budgetmy budget can’t accommodate that. Also, the biggest drawback to the whole thing: I would be doing it solo, and I don’t have time to prep a bunch of food every week.

Then, admittedly, I got further sidetracked by a 48 hour crush on this hunter-athlete guy who doesn’t eat dairy, eats his carbs only early in the day, works out like a beast lifting and running several miles day, kills his own meat (with a BOW, natch!). I mean, how hot is that? Easy on the eyes as well, excellent example of physical fitness, blah blah blah. The life he leads is admirable, but ultimately, unrealistic for me.

But it had to stop. I *was* trying to drink from the fire hydrant. I was drowning in dieting information, man crushes, and eat this not that bullshit. I closed the browsers, but it was too late. The damage was done. I sort of just drifted along while I tried to process all the information I had gathered. There was just too much information out there, too many ways to do things, and no way to know what would work best for me unless I just straight up experiment.

So, on to the Next Big Thing. I have signed up for the Holiday Bootcamp, and also….I re-signed up as a Beachbody Coach. I bought the 21 Day Fix Challenge Pack to start and joined a challenge group to help keep me accountable. Yeah, I’m doing 2 programs. Yeah, I’m going to start doing the Coach training so I can be an awesome coach and make it my full time job. Hell yeah I want to get paid for being in shape and help other people reach their fitness and financial goals.

I managed to end the bootcamp at 233 lbs, officially. I made my goal for the Holiday Bootcamp to lose another 5 lbs in half the time. I can’t promise that in the future I won’t get caught up in more food hype. I might even try a few Paleo recipes. But for now, I’ll take my information in slow, steady sips from a glass, thank you very much.

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Better Than Yesterday

In my last post, I discussed my decision to enroll in The Biggest Loser Fall Bootcamp. I wanted to post an update on the first 2 weeks of the program. First thoughts: It’s a solid program, the nutrition is good, if a little low on protein (for the food plan I selected), the daily motivation is good, and I like the little reminders and checklists they give every week to help keep you on track. You also set a mini-goal every week and you see it every time you open the page. The community forums are also nice, because you have people who have never done a bootcamp, to those who have completed several, and everyone has great advice and is really good about boosting each other up and keeping each other motivated.

Week 1. As I mentioned before, the first week of bootcamp I was off work, so at home and more in control of my food and activities. I stuck to the meal plans and only did not eat what was prescribed a handful of times, primarily there were 2 meals that I ate out. I did the prescribed exercises in addition to workouts I did on my own. Even with my meals out, and occasional off-menu snacks, I still managed to have a negative calorie deficit for every day, in fact, according to their calculations, I had a 9000+ calorie deficit for the first week. So, you can understand my frustration when I weighed in on Saturday and had only lost .5 lbs. Half a pound! I wanted to scream! Not only that, but some of my measurements showed a gain, so I also only lost 1.5 inches.

I was pissed and furious, and this my friends, is when I would have thrown in the towel. But the hubs told me to keep pushing and to at least finish the program. I tried to read everything I could get my eyeballs on about why I didn’t lose weight. This is where the forums really helped-I posted my absymal results, and turns out, I’m not the only one.

As the week went on, I could tell that my lack of progress was getting to me because I kept making poor food choices even when I had healthier options. Sort of a, “Who cares. I can’t lose weight whatever I do, so I’m gonna eat whatever I want”, attitude. I still pushed myself at the gym, and continued to make a calorie deficit, but I had that defeatist attitude through it all. A few days later, after I had missed a workout and then furiously tried to make up for it the next day, I came to a realilzation.

I had been asking myself what the point of all of this was. Well, the point was to lose weight, duh! But there had to be more than that, right? Reading the forums gave me the answer I sought. My priority couldn’t just be changing the number on the scale. I needed to also focus on learning to sustain myself after the boot camp ended. I needed to learn to feed myself for the rest of my life, not just these 8 weeks. So, I’ve readjusted my goals to focus not solely on weight loss, but also journey itself, and to make each day better than the last.

For Week 2, I struggled with the disspointment of my Week 1 results, comforted myself with the wrong kind of foods. I changed my overall goals for the boot camp, and decided that it was more important to learn what worked for me and what I can maintain for life than to focus solely on weight loss. In the end, I gained back that stupid half pound.

Going into Week 3, I am more determined than ever to make this week the best. I will be adjusting my calorie count and my macronutrient ratio because I don’t think I’m getting enough protein or enough calories to cover my Basal Metabolic Rate under the standard plan. So, we will see how this pans out and what adjustments need to be made. I can only operate under the plan to be better than I was yesterday.

 

 

You want to order what?

anything to lose weightIt’s Food Friday, but no food today.  I wanted to share an interesting conversation I had with the hubs last night about supplements.

So, we’re sitting there watching “Hannibal”-great series if you’re into gory deaths, hallucinations, and dark imagery, and the ubiquitous Dr. Hannibal Lecter-and the hubs says, “Hey Pause it for a minute, I want to show you this stuff I think I should get.”  After expelling a long suffering sigh (I hate for my shows to be interrupted by chatter), he shows me his iPad, which is open to this page touting some “miracle” muscle building pills.  I give the article a readthrough, then open a browser window so I can see if I can find more information about this stuff.  I’m not surprised that most of the links that I find are more “testimonials aimed at selling more of this product.

But the hubs was all excited about it and keeps asking if I think he should get it, and wouldn’t it be awesome if he got all ripped like that, etc, etc.  Finally I look at him and ask if he wants my honest opinion.  He hesitates (because he knows my answer is not just no, but hells no-LOL), but then says yes, he wants to know what I think about it.  I tell him that he doesn’t need any pills or muscle-building supplements to get ripped.  If he would lay off his 3 scoops of ice cream nearly every night (!), the copious amounts of beer he’s been drinking lately, not sit around eating out of the bag of trail mix, crackers, chips, etc, and stuck to a exercise program, he would build muscle and burn the fat.

I showed him pictures of Tom Venuto, who wrote the ebook “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle”-excellent read, great information, BTW.  He is a natural body builder, meaning he doesn’t take any enhancement drugs to be totally ripped.  He trains hard, and he gets results.  I told the hubs if Tom could do it, so could he.  I also pointed out that he would look like a total freak if he had too much muscle because he’s short, and that he should focus on building a lean and flexible physique, not a bulky one at any rate because I didn’t think I could love a man whose boobs were bigger than mine.  I think it was the last comment that swayed him.

There is NO substitute for exercise and eating right.  I don’t have a problem with using protein powders or drinking Shakeology, because while technically they ‘are’ supplements, they don’t do anything but add calories, protein, and minerals and vitamins to your daily diet.  You don’t know the long term effects of using metabolic “enhancing” supplements, especially ones that label themselves as an “steroid alternative”.  As part of the microwave generation, we all want quick results and yeah, I would love to be able to lose 30 lbs in 30 days.  But the reality is that shit is just going to come back.  I feel any advertisement you see that claims you can lose a ton of weight without exercising is a crock.  Sure, I guess it’s possible, but what exactly are you losing? And once you stop taking those precious little pills, how long before you put that weight back on?

The hubs looks at me, and says, “So, I shouldn’t get this?”  I just look at him until he huffs out a breath and says, “Fine. I guess you’re right.”

I pushed Play.

What do you think about all these ads for “steroid alternatives” and “lose weight without exercise”?

 

Food is Fuel. Choose Wisely.

This Food Friday, I want to remind everyone to be conscious of what you are putting in your body.  The weekends are usually the time when I sort of just let it all go, and eat whatever, and then struggle to undo the damage over the next week. Which of course, then ends in another weekend where anything goes.  Breaking the cycle is tough, and yes, sometimes it sucks, but if I want to reach my goals, I have to be totally committed to the change, because this isn’t a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.

I saw a Facebook post from a friend who is also a Beachbody coach, and he was talking about how he had just bought a box of Hamburger Helper and a package of oreos.  He was talking about how he and his wife used to eat stuff like that twice a week because it’s quick and easy, and of course it tastes good.  Or, at least it used to.  After having cleaned up their diets and lost weight, they found that the Hamburger Helper was not as good as they remembered it.  Way too salty, and just generally nasty.  They ended up not finishing it.  The oreos, he claimed were just as good as he remembered, but they ended up throwing that out too.

work hard in the gymThe other day, we had pizza from Domino’s.  And guess what?  Same reaction.  Pepperoni pizza and I could taste the fat in the meat!  So gross.  And it was soooo salty!  We used to have pizza all the time.  That night, I managed 2 pieces before I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Anyway, Robbie’s post got me thinking about how we used to eat. We were a box dinner family, too.  I also used to buy those frozen chicken patties and put it on a bun.  I was also a HUGE fan of Stouffer’s French bread pizzas.  God, I can almost taste them!  And those Tostino’s party pizzas?  We would eat 1.5 of those-each! We also ate out frequently: fast food at least 2xs a week, and dinner at a restaurant every weekend.

Wow.  When I think about the way we used to eat, it actually makes my stomach turn.  It took me a while to think about all the trash we used to eat on a daily basis.  I’ve been slowly changing our diet, learning to cook (and well!), and making smarter choices at the grocery store.  I generally stick to the perimeter of the store, and only go down the aisles I need something from.  Of course, I still end up at the check out with items that wouldn’t get past the food police.

However, as my picture suggests, I have busted my ass in the past, trying to lose weight, get in shape, etc, but I always failed, and the reason always boiled down to a bad diet.  Previously, it was starvation.  Now, it’s a certain overly liberal slackening of the food.  I noticed the other day that I have not been eating as clean as I was, or even should.  Too many snacks and other stuff I just don’t need, and it’s interfering with my results.  Honestly, I have not been as strict with myself since I finished the 6-Day Express.  And that’s terrible.  When I saw this meme on my Facebook today, I realized I have not been paying attention to what I’ve been putting in my body.  In short, I have not been choosing wisely.

So, now it boils down to:

1.  I have 6 weeks before we move, and I’ll be seeing my family en route.

2. I want to lose at least 10 lbs before then.

3. I’d like to wear my wedding rings by the time we leave.

And, the plan for that starts with:

1. Tracking my food and exercise.

2. Planning ahead.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Do you find yourself making poor food choices, even though you are busting ass working out?  What do you do about it?  Sometimes, I just need to see something that gives me an “A-ha” moment, and I’m good.  This week it was a blueberry meme.  Next week, who knows?  The only thing to do is to make better choices and keep moving forward.

Please, sir, I want some more

outrun your forkIt’s Food Friday, and instead of showcasing a specific food, I wanted to focus on the importance of eating healthy foods.  As I’ve talked about before, I didn’t grow up eating healthy foods. This made it especially hard for me as an adult to figure out how to feed myself.  As a college student, I was forever astounded by the seeming plethora of beautiful, fit people around me.  How did they eat?  What did they do?  Why couldn’t I look like that?

Because I didn’t know how to fuel my body, then, and even later, my primary method of weight loss was the deprivation method.  I just wouldn’t eat.  I was either too tired, too busy, too whatever.  And guess what, even though I lost weight, I eventually would gain it back when I would go back to eating regular meals.  On top of everything, my weight loss would always stall out around 15 lbs.  EVERY TIME!  Gah!  Then, of course, I would eventually go back to eating regular meals, and I would gain that weight back.

This cycle, perpetuated by my own ignorance, meant I would never reach that nebulous goal of single-digit sizes.  After all that, I’ve finally learned that the body does not like to be hungry.  Contrary to what I thought, I actually needed to eat to lose weight.  Who knew?  All I was doing was losing muscle, not fat.  It also explains the lethargy and the occasional unplanned food binges.  I know so much more about fitness and nutrition than I did then, and it shows.  My focus now is putting the right food, in the right amounts on the table.

For the most part, I actually enjoy eating healthy meals, and fueling my body with the nutrients it needs to build muscle and burn fat.  I’m a total foodie, so in the beginning, I felt I was struggling against my foodie nature.  But then I realized that enjoying food doesn’t mean eating three and four servings to prove how delicious it is.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but things like this aren’t always clear when you are trying to figure out why you can’t lose weight.  It’s easy to see overeating or not sticking to a diet as being weakminded, or even lazy and uncommitted.  But it’s so much more than that.

The takeaway from this is: the battle of the bulge is not happening only when you exercise.  The true battle for fitness is not in the gym, it starts in the kitchen, with the food you choose to fuel your body with, and the reasons you make those choices.  Since I’ve started making wiser eating choices, I feel like a new person. I’m more alert, I have more energy during the day. My skin is clearer, even though I sweat like crazy during my workouts. I can attribute these things to cleaning up my diet and eating mostly unprocessed foods.

Eating healthy gives you more energy because your giving your body the nutritients it needs.  These nutrients help maintain your immune system, maintain or build muscle, and reduces the risks for diseases like anemia and rickets.  Eating more fruits, veggies, fish, whole grains, and nuts do a better job at filling you up, so you aren’t going to be as prone to overindulging in less-nutrient dense foods.  Most importantly, eating healthy is one of the best ways to control your weight.

When we used to eat fast food 2-3 times a week, I look back and think how I seemed to be struck with some kind of malaise.  I didn’t have the energy to do much but sit around and watch TV.  I couldn’t make a commitment to myself then.  But since then, I feel like I have done a 180 regarding my relationship with food.  I like how I’m eating now, and I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer to change my life.

Have a good weekend, stay active, eat right.

 

And where-exactly-am I supposed to find that?!?

Hello, fans, it’s Whiny Wednesday and I’ve got a humdinger for you today!

I’ve mentioned before that I love to cook.  I enjoy finding new recipes and making them for my family.  I especially like finding recipes that are quick and easy to make.  I have a couple of cookbooks that are sort of my go-to books.  If the recipe isn’t “healthy”, I try to find ways to cut down on the fat or calories.  It’s not always easy, but if I can shave calories by skipping the butter, or make it healthier by using whole grain pasta or ground turkey, I do it.  What makes it harder is finding “special” ingredients.

One of my new favorite cookbooks is the Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook.  It’s where I got the lentil salad recipe from last Friday.  I enjoy the cookbook, I’ve tried several recipes and they all turned out great.  Even better, the kids actually ate them.  There are two reasons why I bought this particular cookbook, mostly having to do with “quick” and “easy”.  I liked reading about the eating plan, most of the recipes have a picture, and most of them sound like something I could serve my family. They also include serving sizes and calorie counts for each recipe, which I love.

What I wasn’t counting on was the amount of “special” ingredients that several recipes call for.  Now, some of these things aren’t too bad, and I could justify buying something a little pricey because I knew I would use all of it, or whatever.  But there are a quite a few ingredients that the recipes call for that are simply not going to happen.  And it’s not just because this bottle of Meyer lemon infused olive oil costs $20.  Yes, that’s right.  $20 for a bottle of lemon flavored olive oil.

meyer lemon EVOOOne recipe calls for “all-natural marinara (preferably low-fat,  low salt, no sugar added)”.  Another calls for all natural barbecue sauce sweetened with agave or honey.  Nitrate free lunch meats.  Salt-free seasoning blends-and we’re not talking Mrs. Dash either, but exotic flavors like a curry blend.  All natural 100% fruit spreads in weird flavors.  Tamarind flavored brown rice crackers.  You get the idea.

My annoyance comes from the fact I can’t find most of that shit in this little town I live in, and I’m not driving an hour-plus one way to try to find it.  I have to make do with what I can find right here, in my own town, at my local store.  Do you know I went to 3 stores looking for all-natural plum jam?  3!!  That’s when I decided to just settle and buy the only plum jam I could find-Smuckers.

I hate feeling like I have to settle for things, but if you live in a small town like me, or in a rural area, you may feel a little despair when trying to plan interesting and nutritional menus.  I know, not everyone is into “fancy” cooking like me, and maybe it is just me.  But I LOVE food.  I like to eat-haha that’s how I got here.  But just because I’m not eating a bunch of junk everyday and trying to eat clean doesn’t mean I have to sacrifice my taste buds.  Just because I’m eating healthy doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy food that’s delicious and packed with flavor.

I can’t help but feel a bit defeated when I want to try a recipe and it asks for stuff that I just can’t find around here.  But as I’ve come to try more recipes from this particular book, I’ve realized I have already  ditched the “all or nothing” about the food.  It’s weird to realize that, because in the past, I would have been completely hung up on the fact that “The Spice Hunter” seasonings are unknown in these parts.  Or that I couldn’t find all natural barbecue sauce sweetened with agave, or tamarind flavored crackers.   I buy and use what I can find. If it’s Heinz Chili sauce, then by golly, that’s what’s going on the meatloaf. If it’s Smuckers plum jam, then so be it. It messes with the calorie count, sure, but I’m not going to let it stop me from making the recipe and trying something new.

The lesson here is that there are always going to be things you may think keep you from trying something new or different.  The answer is that there is always a substitute.  Can’t find that special ingredient?  Find something similar, use less.  Too easy.  Can’t do full squats because your knees feel hurt like the devil? Try a demi-squat.  Can’t keep up with a challenging workout? Slow down, focus on your form, and do what you can.

See?  There is always something you can do, so you don’t have an excuse to do nothing.

 

I’m NOT on a diet, dammit!

Yes, I’m watching what I eat. Yes, I’m exercising. Yes, I’m following a specific food plan for the next 6 days. But that doesn’t mean I’m on a diet. Saying “I’m going on a diet” implies that at some point I will stop eating “healthy” and go back to the way I was eating. So, I’m NOT on a diet, dammit. I am making a move to change my life, inside and out.  I’ve always felt like my biggest obstacles in trying to lose weight has been making time for exercise.  But I’ve realized that it’s not really the exercise.  I like getting my sweat on!  Lately, with my husband wanting me to go to the gym with him, and someone to watch the kids while we workout, I realize I don’t have any reason not to bust my butt and do as much as I can while we are there.

This was my lunch one day last week.

This was my lunch one day last week.

I’ve made a lot of realizations in the last month-caution! serious self-reflection ahead!-and part of that is owning up to my shortcomings, recognizing them, and coming up with a plan to fix them.  One of the things that I’ve recognized is the fact that I don’t like being told I can’t have something.  It only makes me want whatever it is even more!  This especially applies to food.  I grew up in 2 households.  One, my grandparents, where foods were high in calories and fat, sugary snacks were abundant, and eating out was expected.  The other one I don’t really remember much-weird, I know, but I can’t remember what I ate as a kid when I lived with my mom other than it usually smelled like shit and garlic or rotten fish, or having stuff in the pantry that I didn’t like.

I would spend whole summers with my grandparents, traveling the country in their big RV, swimming in every swimming pool at every campground along the way.  Most of the time, my grandma cooked all the meals, but occasionally we would eat out somewhere special, like the time we ate at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.  But whenever I got back home, my mother would do nothing but criticize the fact that I had gained weight and that I was a black as a bear.  So I’m remembering all this as I’m trying to define my past relationship with food so I can change it for the future.  Right now, I say the definition in it’s most basic form might be: Food means comfort, family, and love in every greasy bite.  Family meals meant piling your plate with way more than you could eat, yet packing down every last morsel until attaining “food coma” status.

Now, I’m trying to redefine my relationship with food so it doesn’t just equal warm fuzzy feelings.  I like to cook, and I’m pretty darn good at it.  But my food has to mean more to me than just comfort.  My food has to mean fuel for my body, so I can build muscle to burn the fat, so I can be healthy and strong and a good role model for my kids.  In the beginning, I was despairing how I’ll never get to have my favorite foods anymore, and how I have to change my cooking style.  But that’s simply not true.  I’ve already changed a lot about the way we eat in the house by eliminating the processed junk and sticking with whole fruits and veggies.  I don’t fry our foods, and whenever I can, I swap ingredients for lower calorie ones.  It’s a slow and steady process, but I’m doing it.

And yet, I say again, I am not on a diet.  A diet is something you do temporarily.  I’m redefining how I see food and how I’ll eat for the rest of my life.  I’m trying not to use food as a reward or a bribe.  I’m trying to eat clean, every day.  I’m thinking about the long term effects of that piece of cake, or that cheeseburger.  Right now, the indulgence of eating those foods is not worth it to me.  Right now, those foods are not part of the 6-Day Express plan I am working.  Right now, I am trying to jump start the old metabolism and eating that shit isn’t going to be doing me any favors.

I have 5 more days on this particular plan (I started yesterday), and I admit it has been difficult.  During the day is not too hard, even though I’m home and making food for my 3 year old.  Last night was rough when we sat down to watch a little tv, and it seemed like every commercial was about food.  That was torture! Not to mention my lovely SIL sent home 4 delectable looking little cake things when he dropped his mom off.  Little Bit just ate the chocolate stuff and the fruit off the top of his, so DH finished it.  I had a little taste of the cake; it wasn’t great, so it wasn’t a hardship to pass on more than that taste.

These first days of starting something new are not going to be easy, and I didn’t expect them to be.  I’ve read that it takes somewhere around 21 days to start a new habit, or break an old one.  I know it will take longer to break a lifetime of poor eating habits, but there is no time like the present, and I am ready to fight for the body and the life that I want and deserve to have. 5 more days of this really strict phase, then I will go back to eating normally.  And by normally, I mean eating like I actually give 2 shits about what I’m putting in my body.