Saturday, August 30, 2008
Yes, by the way, I know that what I really need to do is lose fat, and the belly pooch will go away. My mother and I have the same body and we were discussing it today. She asked what kind of exercises we could do to make it go away, and I said "nothing, we have to lose fat." So see, I am quite well acquainted with reality. Pilates, crunches, those work on muscle, and the pooch is not muscle, though I'm sure toning the core would help keep it a little flatter, the fat's the thing. The liposuction thing is a nice daydream.
I can remember only two times in my life when I wasn't anxious about my belly. The first time, I was a college student and I was taking aerobics classes for phys. ed., and my younger metabolism plus the beating delivered by my sadistic gym teacher did some kind of miracle and I had a flat stomach. The other time was a few years ago when I managed to have a summer where I was in killer shape, and sort of forgot to worry about my body for a while. It was really, really nice. I would get dressed by just grabbing a shirt and some shorts and putting them on, rather than trying one outfit after another and throwing them on the floor in despair. I almost felt weird not worrying about my body, which says a lot about my particular malfunctions.
I am in week 4 of my 16-week program to run a 10K. I have done 10Ks before (and even a half marathon) but that was back when I was in shape. Besides running, I've been doing some walking and some weight lifting. I gave up on the Jillian videos for now because they were killing my knees (which get enough pounding from the running) and am now going to the adorably dorky YMCA to do my strength training. I'm logging my calories on FitDay and trying to keep them around 1800 calories for now, though I may drop them lower if I think I can do it without going crazy. I want to lose the weight, but don't want to suffer unreasonably. Still, watching the pop-up pooch is a lot of suffering too.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I have a lot of ups and downs, though. Don't let this super-cheery post fool you. The thing is, I tend to post more about the weight loss thing on the days when I feel good about how things are going. Just like the weigh-ins, there's still this impulse to keep the picture rosy. I think a weekly weigh-in post will give us all a clearer view of what's really going on.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I was just talking with my sister, who is really happy about a brand-new job that seems like everything she really wants right now, and she said, "I hope it works out." I asked if the only reason she said that was that it seemed to be too good to be true and she said, "Pretty much." I identified because I do the same thing. If something is really great, I look for the flaws in it anyway, because if I'm too happy, that's just tempting fate.
I know that the Greeks used to have a saying like, "Don't brag when the gods are listening," which is why we knock wood when we say something like, "My car's great, I've never had a problem with it." And a lot of cultures have talismans against the evil eye, because if someone sees you too happy they might start wishing bad things on you.
Even the "Oh, I'm so fat, you're the one who's pretty" dialogue (so intellectually stimulating) is a way to make sure no one thinks you're too happy with the way you look. Some of us might take it too literally by actually getting fat, I think. After all, if everything is good, what do we worry about? And not worrying seems somehow dangerous.
I know I'm not alone because I've seen plenty of others doing this, so my question is, how do we stop?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
My knees are giving me some pain, so I took today as a rest day to relax a little. Hoping that tomorrow they are better.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
September: Got a Snazzy New Job, 1 hour and 40 minutes from my old house. Start looking at houses in the vicinity of Snazzy New Job. Go to see banker and find out that we can supposedly afford so much more than we were currently paying that it was a matter of our comfort and not what the bank would approve. We thought house would be snapped up quickly, but somehow we are wrong.
October: House not selling. I continually tweak things, repaint a room, Design To Sell as much as I can without spending a boatload of money. We drop the price.
November: Still no sale. Spirits sinking. Really getting tired of staging the house every time we leave for ten minutes. Also getting over Snazzy New Job and depressed at what we can afford in Snazzy New JobLand's area. Hate my commute, hate my life. On a whim, get husband to consider looking in a town near where I grew up, 40 minutes closer to New Job. We look at listings and the first house we see we love. Look for more listings, nothing is even close to as great. Oddly, the house we love is open that day. We go, fall in love, try to talk ourselves out of it for a few days but than think, "What the hell?"
December: House still not sold. Spend a fortune on candles, tear out old carpeting near basement, paint the basement stairs with porch paint. We get one screwball low offer, still nothing serious or possible.
Fast forward to March: Finally get an offer we can live with after some negotiation. We hate that this buyer is going to turn our home into a rental property, but we can't afford to wait for something else. Set closing date for April. A few weeks later, home inspection turns up some repairs. Buyer backs out of the deal, at the same time that the bottom really drops on the real estate market. Seriously depressed. Relist with a different agent and drop the price of the house again. Get an estimate for the repairs needed, and it's a paltry $800.
April: Get a check from our bank, refunding us for escrow payments in almost the exact amount of the estimate for the repairs. Take it as a sign and get them done. In the meantime, apply for and get an interview with an Exciting New Job Prospect within minutes of my house.
May: Lots of activity on our house but no offers. Then one couple seems to love it. They tell our realtor they're going to write us an offer, but then they find a For Sale By Owner and buy that instead. Rats.
June: Decide, against all real common sense, to take Exciting New Job that pays half of what my current one does. But the house still hasn't sold! We drop the price again, tell ourselves that it will and keep hoping.
Fast forward to July: We get one really, really lowball offer, even worse than the first one. In despair, I buy epoxy paint and seal the basement floor, toy with the idea of doing the walls too but finally decide against it. I have given notice at Snazzy New Job and am jumping every time I think about the real estate market. The day after my paint job, three offers come in. Ask my realtor for advice and she says, "Let's make this a bidding war." One offer comes in that's so great that I want to take it without waiting for the others -- it's the person who offered us the low offer just the day before. None of the other buyers step up, so that offer takes the day. We find out that this buyer is actually a first-time buyer who loves the house, and since we do too, we couldn't be happier. But I don't want to jinx it so I don't tell very many people until...
Today: We closed! Hooray!
See, there are some happy endings, even in a crummy real estate market. Hope that if your house is on the market, you get just as happy an ending, but hopefully in a lot less time.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I had sworn off whole wheat pasta after a particularly unhappy dinner where I was eating it and wondering if I had accidentally boiled the box. Maybe it was a particularly vile brand. Tonight I made the "Worth Every Penne" recipe I promised to review in my last post, and it really was pretty great, desipte the following mess-ups and modifications:
- Forgot to buy bacon. Somehow thought the recipe included olives. Used a couple of the olives to supply some saltiness and cooked everything in olive oil instead. Didn't really miss the bacon, but did end up reaching for the salt shaker when I was eating the pasta.
- Cooked 12 oz. of pasta instead of 8 oz., and had only about 1 cup of cooked chicken on hand instead of the 3 cups called for in the recipe. My result was a little more noodley and less meaty than the recipe intended.
- My grocery store had no fresh mushrooms in stock. I bought dried mushrooms and reconstituted them according to the package directions.
- Had some fresh basil and oregano so I added a little of each with the cheese at the end.
I don't think I'll ever like whole wheat pasta as well as white, but in this recipe it worked fine, because there was so much going on. I think the recipe would have been more filling if I had used the right amount of chicken, but it was still a pretty satisfying dinner, and it looked like something from a restaurant. Next time I'd make up a big salad to go with it, because an hour after eating, I'm already contemplating going out for a walk and an ice cream cone.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I didn't try Sticky Chicky yet, but I did test four recipes with my husband, who is always a willing guinea pig when it comes to food projects. Last night, we made the grilled-salad version of "Bird on a Wire" (Greek chicken skewers with a cucumber-dill sauce) and "Spud Light" (very simple, very delicious roasted mini red potatoes and onions). Even though we forgot the onions in the roasted potatoes, both recipes were delicious. The chicken was very tender and juicy, the potatoes were crisp on the outside and tender inside. Tonight we had "Wok this Way" (Asian beef stir-fry with basil and red bell pepper). We had it with white rice. The sauce was sweet and a little bit hot (that might have been my husband's creative touch) and the basil flavored the whole dish beautifully. Finally, we had to try one of the desserts. We decided to pass on the chocolatey stuff and made a half recipe of "Rhapsody in Blueberry," (blueberry crisp with oatmeal crumb topping). It doesn't sound like a particularly unique dish, but the recipe calls for lemon zest and juice in the blueberry filling. Adding the suggestion of lemonade to the blueberries made this the perfect "summer in a bowl" dessert. I will definitely be making this one again while fresh blueberries are still available.
The recipes are inventive without being overly complicated. Supposedly, Greta's philosophy was, "If I can't find the ingredients in my local grocery store, I'm not putting them in the book." When choosing recipes to test, I was surprised how many of them I could make from things I already had in my refrigerator, freezer, or pantry with one or two additions. To make the blueberry crisp recipe, for example, I already had everything but the blueberries and lemons. It took us less than 10 minutes to put it together, 40 minutes to bake, and 10 minutes to cool.
The cookbook is packed with tips on recipe variations, ingredient information, and lots of interesting facts about nutrition, exercise, and health. I was fascinated to read in the tip, "What causes a beer belly?" that a beer gut isn't just extra fat, but a reaction to poor liver function and excess hormones. I appreciated that the recipes included nutritional information so that I could easily enter recipes into Fitday. Most cookbooks, even when they do include some nutritional information, neglect to include fiber content, making it hard for Weight Watchers to count the points. Never fear, there is plenty of information to let you know that the blueberry crisp is 5 points per serving (and worthy of every last point).
I finally made my peace with the puns and the cuteness when I thought about how much more fun it would be for kids to cook with their parents using a cookbook full of color, cartoons, and silly jokes. Cooking is a great skill, and it's surprising to me how many people graduate from high school without knowing how to use the stove. Maybe cookbooks like this can help.
I'm so impressed with Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry that tomorrow, despite my long-standing hatred of whole wheat pasta, I'm going to give it another try in "Worth Every Penne." I'll let you know how it goes.
- Easily find cute, reasonably-priced clothes in my size. I currently wear a size 12-14 (usually the latter) and by the time clothes hit the sale rack, most of the things that flatter a size 14 body have long ago been snapped up. Things look much less bleak in the size 10 section.
- Enjoy fashion more. I want to be able to buy clothes in lots of different shapes and styles. Sure, I know that a nipped-in waist and a full skirt look great on me (and probably most women), but I'd like to be able to just pick up anything off the rack and get outside my narrow little parameters of what hides this figure flaw or that one. I want to have fun shopping instead of frantically scanning the racks for something that will work.
- Be able to button shirts over my chest. I am so tired of being stuck with knits and sweaters because blouses just won't work right now. If I buy them big enough for the girls to fit comfortably, they are ridiculously big everywhere else.
- Get dressed in the morning without thinking too much about it. I'd like to be able to just put together an outfit without checking for stray lumps and bumps. I'd like to walk around all day without tugging at my shirts to cover my belly, or wear a knit dress without having to wear Spanx underneath.
- Wear sleeveless shirts and dresses with confidence. Ever notice how few dresses and cute tops have real sleeves? I'd like to lose enough of the arm flab that I'm not sweating in a cardigan just so I can cover my arms.
- Look great in shorts.
- Get rid of the creakiness that seems to be developing in my knees. I have heard that just losing 15 pounds makes a big difference for your knees... I have 20 to lose.
- Be a better runner and cyclist. Extra weight slows me down. I know from experience that losing a few extra pounds has a big effect in my speed and confidence when I run and bike.
- Avoid Type II diabetes, which runs in my family. It has some pretty terrible complications, too. One relative has had an amputation, another is going blind.
- Feel confident in my skin. This is the one that I'm not quite sure that just losing weight will accomplish, but of course it's really the number one thing I want.
My next post will be a review of Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry. If you can get past the corny jokes, it's a pretty great cookbook. I tested a couple of the recipes last night and was impressed. More later.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
One night when I was in a hotel room for my last job, frustrated with the way things were working out, I grabbed the hotel stationery and started making a list of all the things I wanted in my next job. I don't have the list in front of me, but there were things like, "working more closely with people," "more flexibility on how I spend my time," "feel like I'm working on something important." Not long after I got my new job (the one I start next week), I found the list and realized that the job met every one of the things I listed except the salary I specified.
You could call this "The Secret," or you could just think about the ways that writing down exactly what you want focuses your attention on those things and helps you work toward them more consciously. Without those kinds of clear, specific goals, it's easy to wander around in life just getting by. You could apply this to finances, relationships, any area of your life where you want more satisfaction.
I reread Shauna's book last week. It really is amazing, and if you haven't read it yet, order it from the UK Amazon if you can. I really wonder if a big part of the secret to her amazing weight loss was her "Things to Do When I'm Skinny" list. Jus having a reminder why she was watching her food and exercising might have helped her through the tough times. And I don't mean the lame, wishy-washy "I just want to be healthy," thing that we tell ourselves so we don't think we're losing weight for vanity alone. First of all, there's still plenty of controversy over how much risk is associated with the extra weight. But maybe more importantly, it's too vague and suggests that we might be doing it to please other people instead of ourselves. The beauty of Shauna's list was that it's so specific: "run!," "wear dainty, strappy little shoes (currently would make me look like a drag queen with my pudgy ankles and feet)." And so on. It doesn't matter if someone else might think the reasons are silly ("leather pants? Really?" They motivated her (and she decided after she lost the weight that the leather pants were not really her style after all). I don't have a list like this yet but I will think about it and post one soon.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I got a little bored with the "30 Day Shred" and decided to break into this video set, which I got at a pretty low price when I signed up on Jillian's site. I have done the "Shape Up Front" and "Shape Up Backside" videos. One problem is that I don't have a step bench, but I've been modifying to do it without that. The exercises are slightly more varied than the "30 Day Shred," and there seems to be a little less cardio tossed in with the strength training. This is better for me because I find it pretty easy to get in cardio on my own. Just like the "30 Day Shred," though, none of these videos seem to be easy on the knees. Mine are just a little touchy from all the running, so I am trying to keep things a little lower impact where I can. I love the intensity of these videos, and Jillian's little pep talks cheer me up too. I'm sure I'll be shredded in no time.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
I am filling up my training log again, mostly with short workouts, and being proud of the progress I'm making. I'm ignoring the voice in my head that wants to complain about how much more I used to be able to do. As I was telling my husband earlier, "I want this bad enough to be willing to be bad at it until I'm good."
I got out for a longish bike ride, something I've been resisting for a while. The short rides I did on my mountain bike made me worry that I had gotten terribly out of shape for biking, but once I got on my light little road bike, I remembered what the problem was. My mountain bike is fun for casual riding because I don't have to wear fancy shoes or padded shorts, but it seems to weigh about 100 pounds. I can ride a lot faster and a lot more easily on a lighter bike. Someday, when my cash flow is a little better, I'm hoping to get a better-fitting road bike, but I need to put in some miles on this one for now.
So the theme lately has been the same as the name of my blog, being willing to accept this imperfect state as perfect for now. My only other choice is to sit at home, sulking about the fitness I've lost, and lose what I still have. I take for granted being able to paint a basement floor by myself, mow the lawn with a push mower, carry heavy bags, walk for hours if I need to. Yesterday my husband and I took our king-sized bed apart and put it back together. It would be a lot more costly and inconvenient if I couldn't count on my body to do those things for me, and as I approach my forties I want to keep being able to do them.
So I'm progressing, slowly but surely, and next year I plan to be ready to do a triathlon again. I still have one more year left on my three-year membership to USA Triathlon and I intend to use it.
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I ordered the "30-Day Shred" video around the same time I signed up for the online program. I have done it 4 times now, twice at Level 1 (using all the beginner modifications) and twice at Level 2 (ditto). My plan is to do this 20-minute video workout three times a week, do cardio three times a week, and take one rest day. On the days that I do the video, I've been following with something to cool down like a walk or a yoga video. Today, I decided to pull out some flowers that have taken over their beds. So I usually end up with a 40-45 minute workout on that day. It's early but I already feel a little extra muscle definition in my upper arms (which have been getting flabby).
The video works like this: 3 minutes of strength, two minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. You are usually switching back and forth between two different moves during each of the segments. The strength moves generally combine upper- and lower-body training. It's easy to learn the movements, but not so easy to keep up. There are three separate workouts: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Each is 20 minutes including a very short warmup and cooldown. There are two other fitness models doing the moves along with Jillian, one who demonstrates beginner modifications and another who demonstrates a more challenging version of the workout. I have tried Level 1 and Level 2 and they are tough. I really suspect that for Level 3, Jillian just sends a hitman to your house.
I would recommend the video for people who like an intense, short workout without a lot of choreography. Jillian says that you could lose 20 pounds if you do the workout every day for 30 days. I think that using the video every day would get a bit boring. I like doing running, biking, and other outdoor activities enough that I'd rather have a balance.
This is not a good video for people who have knee problems. My knees are always sore for a while after the workout because there are lots of lunges, squats, and other knee-intensive moves. You're also switching between standing and prone moves (mostly for abs). It seems to be designed for someone who is already moderately fit but doesn't have a lot of time to exercise.
I'll keep you posted on my results. So far I don't think I'm restricting my calories enough to get actual weight loss, but I'm working on it. The video seems to be pretty popular: I just found out that a friend of mine started using this video around the same time that I did.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
If you haven't tried this, it's worth it -- your house will smell wonderful and the result is delicious, plus they are great without added salt or fat.
All you need is a cookie sheet (or two) with a nice deep lip so the nuts and seeds won't spill in your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts or seeds in a single layer on the cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the oven. If you're doing small seeds like pumpkin seeds, check on them in about three minutes. For almonds or peanuts, check in at about 5 minutes. You probably will just want to stir them, and if you have two cookie sheets in the oven, switch them around for even browning. Then you'll probably have another 3-5 minutes before the nuts are done. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn! Burned seeds and nuts don't taste good and they smell even worse. What you're looking for is a little bit of browning and a rich, toasted flavor.
Once you take them out, you can leave them on the pan to cool, unless they seem in danger of burning. If they do, dump them out onto a platter so that they can cool in a single layer. Then store them in an airtight container.
Make sure to watch your portions of these, because they're definitely not a low-calorie snack, but they are delicious and everyone says this kind of fat is good for your heart.
To make peanut butter, wait until the nuts are cool and process in small batches in the food processor. You'll probably have to drizzle in a tablespoon or two of peanut oil while they're spinning -- the nuts don't seem to have enough fat on their own to make good peanut butter. You will probably also want to add salt. I don't add any sweetener but some people add honey. I keep mine in the refrigerator in a glass bowl with an airtight lid. It will have a richer flavor than most store-bought peanut butter and a nice brown color.
Saturday, August 02, 2008
The Codependent's Guide to the Twelve Steps suggests that you don't figure out recovery, you just become willing to let it happen and step out of the way. I wonder if weight loss is sort of like that. I think I've been thinking about it too much.
I recommend the book for just about anyone. It's written in a very down-to-earth tone. I am not a big fan of the term "codependency," but the discussion of traits that felt so familiar -- a need for control, a belief that I have to be perfect, the feeling that I should solve my own problems without help and help others with their problems, difficulty in identifying and handling my own problems -- was useful to me. And the book led me to a similar conclusion as an Elastic Waist post a while ago:
And the answer, of course, is that we think if we were ever just good enough, all those people would go away. But they won't, ever. Your basic celebrity news rag should prove it to us all: We will never be so gorgeous that some horrible person can't find something to mock. But as someone wrote in the comments: "It's none of your business what other people think of you."
people do talk about our flaws, and mock them, and all the happy hippy la la stuff we tell ourselves isn't going to make the bitchy, judgmental assholes go
away. But the beautiful thing about that is the pithy, to-the-point, brilliantly simple shrug-off. Who cares about the bitchy, judgmental assholes? Who cares what a cowardly jerk thinks? Seriously. Why is this such a difficult-to-grasp concept?