Friday, February 29, 2008

update: a clean bill of health

I got the results back from the blood tests they ran after my doctor's visit a few weeks ago. Everything looks great: blood chemistry, glucose, cholesterol. It's nice to know that all the numbers are good, but I feel sort of off. My body gets stiff and sore from too much time sitting at a desk and in the car.

The recommittment to fitness is helping, though. I missed a couple of days of exercise this week, but it's still an improvement over my previous track record. I think it's time to add a few exercises to my weight training program, in fact.

But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the extra 10 or so pounds I've put on since taking my job aren't bothering me, especially when I'm trying to decide what to wear in the morning or pack for a trip and everything seems too tight. I either have to start getting serious or go shopping. Or maybe both.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

focusing on fitness

One thing that I enjoy about the BlogHer Ad network is the headlines, which point me to other health-related blogs that I might not normally read. I like this entry, entitled "What Do You Love About Your Body" from Roni's Weight Watchen Pages. It reminds us that our bodies aren't here just because they look pretty (although they do).

Ever since I visited the doctor and she said that she cared more about seeing me exercise more than lose the weight, I've been thinking back to my earlier success and realizing that it all started with training. I didn't lose the weight I had gained because I wanted to look good in a bikini. I wanted to kick ass. The photo here is from my very first triathlon, and it's still the happiest day of my entire life -- happier than the day I graduated with my Ph.D. Okay, maybe my wedding day was a tie, but the triathlon was all about pushing my limits and figuring out what my body could really do, and I've never felt more proud.

So far, switching my focus to training instead of weight loss has helped motivate me to work out more. Friday I went to the weight room and did a good all-over circuit training session that took about 30 minutes. Saturday I went to the pool and did 50 laps (1500 yards) and also did a lot of house cleaning and got a short walk in. Today I ran 20 minutes and plan to do some yoga before bed. Tomorrow it's back to the weight room.

The plan is to run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday and lift weights on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Saturdays would be a swim. I also signed up for a Monday night Spinning class that starts the first week of March. If I can keep that schedule up, I should be more than ready for my race in May, which looks like a very short triathlon (250 yard swim in the pool, 8 mile bike, and 1.5 mile run, I think). If it goes well, I may sign up for a longer race toward the end of the summer when I have less work travel scheduled.

My plan is to continue to honestly log my food in my trusty notebook for a while as I train, focus on eating mostly whole and healthy foods. Once I feel like I'm in the exercise groove, I'll get back on track with Weight Watchers again. I'm going to take this one step at a time for now.

Friday, February 22, 2008

congratulations, Heather!

Heather is the winner of the giveaway and I dropped off her package at the post office around 5:30 tonight. Supposedly it will arrive in three post-office days, so probably around Tuesday she will be listening to "Skinny Jeans."

I am not in my skinny jeans right now. More like pajama bottoms. I definitely need to find the wagon and then get on it... have just not been having much luck with the food lately. I made myself a great barley/tomato/basil/olive oil lunch today, but was hungry about an hour after eating it and ended up having a grilled cheese sandwich, some tortilla chips, and two Girl Scout cookies -- apparently the barley was an appetizer.

I'm doing better with the exercise. I went to the gym first thing today and did my strength training routine. I plan to go swimming tomorrow, and I am also planning to sign up for a group cycling (generic name for Spinning) class beginning in March.

I am still looking for a really good, free food tracking tool with mobile web logging support. I got an email today encouraging me to try out the newly-remodeled diettv.com website. It's such a cute, slick site that I really wanted to love it, but their food tracking is not ready for prime time. I tried entering my breakfast today and the database is skimpy and a little quirky. When I searched for blackberry preserves, I got blackberries and blackberry juice, but no jam or preserves. I did a search for jam and got apricot and whortleberry but no other kindst . Odd. They don't seem to have mobile web support, so I couldn't enter my food logs from my BlackBerry (see, just like with the jam, they don't seem to support blackberries...) but I could sign up to be a guinea pig for their test of a phone-in food log system. I didn't try it (you have to give them their phone number) but it sounds like a really error-prone way to do on-the-go logging. So many people have smartphones now that I'm not sure why diet sites haven't caught on to mobile logging yet. All they'd really have to do is make a mobile-friendly version of their site. It looks like they have a lot of great features on this site (if they work), but if the basic stuff doesn't work, I'm not really interested in playing around with the extras.

Until someone points me to a site with the features I want, I'll stick to a notepad and pen.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

my first blog giveaway: win a CD and a sleeveless T

When the folks at skinnysongs.com offered to send me their CD to review, I had pretty low expectations for it. I thought it was a cute idea to put together motivational songs for working out and losing weight, but I didn't expect them to be good music. Still, I was intrigued and thought, why not? I got the package yesterday, and they even included a cute t-shirt.

I was really surprised at how well-put-together the songs were, and also at the range of musical styles represented. There are a couple of rap-style tracks, like "Use It to Lose It," some songs that have a more '80s feel like "The Incredible Shrinking Woman," and the pop-country style "Skinny Jeans," which was my favorite. You can hear samples on the website.

I listened to the CD on the way to the gym this morning, though, and really realized, after listening to a bunch of tracks that focused on appearance ("I'm A Hottie Now") and the negative side of wanting to lose weight ("Who the Hell is That?," about seeing pictures of yourself and wondering how you got so fat) that as much fun as they were, these songs wouldn't motivate me. I was talking with Anne last night and realized that I have been trying to lose the same 20 pounds since we bumped into each other online two years ago. I have been focusing on trying to look cute and fit into my own skinny jeans, and it just isn't working for me.

I decided to try a new gym today. Since I belong to the local YMCA, I can go to any of the locations. I went to one that has a lap pool. It's been months since I went swimming. I really enjoyed it. I shared a lane with another woman and, when we were both taking a breather, immediately asked her if she was training for a race. It clicked for me at that moment that the time when I successfully lost the most weight was when I was training for races, not trying to get skinny so I could be cuter. I never was the "hottie" type. I can't live up to the image -- I'm too much of a geek. The reason I want to get in shape is so I can feel strong and capable and healthy. It just so happens that the YMCA I visited today has a sprint triathlon on May 4. I'm going to enter, but this time I'm not going to fall into my old trap of worrying about whether I finish in the top half of my age group, etc., etc. I figure I'll just shoot to finish the thing without feeling like I'm going to die. The rest of it is just a bonus.

If you are the hottie type, or you just want this CD and t-shirt, leave a comment on this post (make sure that your email address is in your profile) telling me what's keeping you motivated lately. The t-shirt is marked XL, but it's a junior size and may fit more like a large. Like PastaQueen, I'll choose the winner with a random-number generator (Microsoft Excel has one) and email the lucky winner. Good luck!

P.S. If you want to enter the contest, make sure you post your comment by noon on Thursday, February 21. Thanks!

Friday, February 15, 2008

going old-school: calorie counting

After listening to all those Jillian Michaels podcasts, I have been feeling antsy to change up my food and exercise routine. You can summarize what she says in the podcasts with the quote I loved so much from BlogHer: "Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bullshit."

I hadn't been doing too well with Weight Watchers these days anyway, so I decided to give calorie counting a try. I had used Fitday in the past but found it a little clunky. I would have loved to use Calorie King, because you can track on your mobile phone, but I found it tough to justify the monthly fee until I know for sure that I'll do it. For now, I'm trying the free journals at Calorie Count, which does offer mobile calorie checking, but not tracking right now. I'm hoping that they will add the tracking function soon.

I know that there isn't a lot of difference between counting points and counting calories, but changing things up has made me a little more conscious of what I'm eating, and seeing the nutrient balance (fat/carbs/protein, vitamins) gives me a little more insight on where my diet needs work. It's actually fun to enter activities and watch the "Burn Meter" go up. And it's not like I've forgotten what Weight Watchers has taught me about proper portion sizes. I still plan to go to my meeting tomorrow -- I have those prepaid coupons and I want to see how their scale compares to mine. As long as I have the prepaid coupons, I'll use them, and then I'll decide whether I want to keep paying or try to do it on my own.

I got to work from home today, so I took full advantage of not having to commute by going to the YMCA and getting a circuit-training session in. It was only half an hour of lifting plus warmup, cooldown, and some stretches, but it made me sweat and felt great. I figure I need to ease back into a training routine slowly. I have tried the Weekend Warrior routine enough to know it doesn't work for me. Once I get into the swing of things, I'll try to make them more Jillian-worthy.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

happy valentine's day, blogosphere

It's amazing how much different I feel when I get home and the sun is not completely down yet. Today was one of those late-winter days when the sky is just gorgeous, even though it's only 8 degrees outside. I had a nice 360-degree view of the sunset as I drove home through the wilds of Michigan. And had a wonderful dinner waiting for me when I got home.

I was thinking of how, at various times in my life, I had lived as if there was all the time in the world to do the things I was putting off until "Someday," and other times when I felt like all the good things that could ever happen to me had already passed me by, and that I just had to run out the clock.

I've been hyper-aware lately that neither of these is true, and I'm trying to figure out what it is that I really want to do with this life, which is, as a former supervisor reminded me, slipping into its middle-aged years. Maybe that's why I slip into these periods of existential depression, really questioning whether I'm doing anything meaningful with my life.

I tried not to focus so much on the big picture today. I listened to podcasts of "The Writer's Almanac" on my way in to work. I got some really good work done today and felt like I was making a real contribution. I had a beautiful lunch with a really amazing, funny coworker. I got that sunset on my way home. And my husband spent all day, he told me, planning out this amazing dinner for me.

I'm hoping that all of you find some joy in the little things today.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

a visit to the doctor

Photo found on sxyblkmn's Flickr site

New job means a new doctor and new insurance. I decided to schedule a physical because I have some nasty stuff in my family history -- mostly heart disease and diabetes.

As I feared, my weight on the scale wasn't pretty. I think it's past time to start doing something about the weight, especially considering the family tree. I brought up the weight issue and was happy with how she handled it. I said I wanted to lose 15 or 20 pounds. She said that would be terrific but that more importantly, she was concerned that I get some exercise on a more regular basis. Overall it was a good visit. I got a tetanus shot in my right arm and my left arm hurts where they took some blood to check glucose, iron, and cholesterol. It was nice that the lab was in an adjoining office.

All of my concern for my health only increased when I got out on the road. If anyone out there is considering taking a job that would require them to commute 45 minutes or more, I'd definitely advise against it, especially if you live in the snow belt. On a good day, you are rushing out the door in the morning and staggering in the door at night. But on a day like today, your commute time doubles and you wonder if you're going to make it at all. Somewhere in this schedule, though, I'm going to have to make time for workouts. The lunch hour seems like a logical place, but I hate to add more rushing into the middle of my day too.

I'm not looking for advice (everyone seems to have some) but just talking out loud. I know I need to make the time. I'm just feeling a little crabby tonight.

Friday, February 08, 2008

reason #137 for losing weight: shopping

Since I got my iPod, a whole new world of media has opened up for me. If I don't have time to watch a show on TV, I can pay to have it downloaded for me to watch on my nano's cute little screen when I'm on an airplane or just sitting around bored. After reading Wendy's review of How to Look Good Naked, I bought a season pass for the show. I knew that Wendy would not suggest I watch treacly bullshit. I was not disappointed. In fact, I am glad that I didn't watch the "Layla" episode on the airplane as planned, because I didn't just get a tear in my eye. I cried. If you don't get a little choked up by that episode, you have to be a stone-hearted troll.

After watching the positive shopping experiences of strangers, I was starting to feel like I could go into the stores and try on clothes and like them, just like a regular person. Lately my body image has taken a hit from the squishiness that accompanied my new job like an unadvertised bonus. Dressing rooms have not been my friend. But Carson inspired me.

On a recent trip, I went shopping with two women I know but not well. One of them is teeny-tiny and short, and the other is teeny-tiny and regular height. I was nervous about the whole thing until we went in this store that had fabulous dresses, and I just had to try one on. No go. It didn't zip at all. Sigh. Luckily neither of them liked what they tried on either, so I didn't think that the problem was just a huge deformity on my part. I could blame the store, which felt like a relief.

At the second store, I was having a wonderful time trying on $200 dresses that I had no intention of buying, and thinking I looked pretty good in them. But the stupid, knee-jerk, compare-and-despair (as Stuart Smalley would say) impulse kicked in when I heard one of them saying to the other, "The 2 is too small for me, but it might fit you. Let me trade you for the 4."

I knew they were small, but I didn't realize they were that small. And the stupid thing is that I felt fine (well, mostly fine) with them until I heard them use those sizes in a sentence that wasn't: "Who do you think actually wears a 2 anyway? I wonder why they even make them?" For some reason I always comforted myself with the belief that those sizes were just for teenagers. I know that the last time in my life that I consistently wore a single-digit size was when I was 13 or 14 years old. They were both wonderful women. I had no reason to think that they were having negative thoughts about me, except that I was so busy having them that I figured they must be universal.

I know I need to keep my eyes on my own paper. And I did buy a gorgeous dress that I liked and even thought I looked pretty in. It was at a huge discount and in a smaller size than I thought I could wear. So why all the internal drama? If I were shopping with a friend who wore a larger size than me and she got all angsty over it, I'd think she was being silly and maybe feel a little annoyed. So when am I going to get a little smarter when it comes to myself?

Where's Carson Kressley when I need him? Or at least the Bra Whisperer?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

still a little snowed under

Thank you for all the kind comments. I'm starting to creep out from under the damp heavy blanket of this virus, and it's definitely improving my mood not to spend the whole day hacking and sneezing. This has been a wet winter. I haven't so much snow since the Blizzard of '78, and I wonder how much that has to do with all the junk that's going around.

I plan to go to bed at 9 tonight, just to be safe. I stayed up to watch "The Biggest Loser" last night, which was a mistake. I was sleepy on my commute, so I should have just recorded it. I was very happy with who was voted off, even though there were some pretty spooky comments from that person that sounded vaguely threatening. I was really happy that Super Tuesday went the way it did, too. For once, Ohio's vote in the primary will actually mean something.

I feel I've been focusing on the few negative things in my life too much, and forgetting about all the wonderful changes that have happened in the last four or five months. So far I haven't managed to find anyone to pay me to blog and surf the web, though, so I guess I still have to keep making that commute for now.

Monday, February 04, 2008

sick as a dog?

Why do people say sick as a dog, anyway? Most of the dogs I've been around have been quite healthy, and even if they eat something that disagrees with them, they seem to get it out of their systems and bounce back quickly.

I, however, am not sick like that. I seem to have a low resistance lately and then a hard time coming back. I caught a bug about a week ago and it won't let go. It's down in my chest, rattling away and making me cough. I have been resisting seeing a doctor -- don't want to take the time to haul myself there just to be told, "It's a virus. Rest, drink plenty of fluids. There's nothing we can do." Since rest has been sketchy lately -- just got back from a trip to the West Coast, something I don't recommend doing when you have a head cold -- I've been doing my best to catch up. And drink fluids. I still have to work, but I'm working from home today.

It's funny how I still want to eat sometimes even when I have no appetite. I had a Ghiardelli bar in my suitcase that tempted me. I had half of it just because. Sigh.

I just read Frances's post. "Would I date me?" Right now the answer would be a resounding no thanks. I seem a little too sad and high-maintenance. I might tell me I would call, but I'd lose my number.
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07