Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in: Down and up


Tuesday Trivia night at my sister's bar has not been great for my Wednesday weigh-ins. Yesterday I was 3.8 pounds lighter.

I'm not complaining -- I'm an adult and I made the choice to indulge knowing what the likely result would be. This is a good argument for daily weigh-ins, though, since I can see the results of my choices the day before. Also, if today was my only weigh-in, I'd be very discouraged, but I know that most of the gain is going to be gone by tomorrow.

I think it's interesting to see how water weight affects the body fat reading (blue graph) -- I think it throws the accuracy way off.

I might have been a little dehydrated early in the week, too, because I had done a lot of outdoor exercise and it has been really hot here. That might have made my weight lower than it should have been yesterday morning.

I am consistently logging my food again and that should help me get back on track. I'm also expecting FitBloggin' to be very motivated. I have most of my stuff packing done, but I want to take one last look at everything to make sure I have what I need.

I'm taking my iPad and might do a few short posts from the conference. I expect to be pretty busy, but I'm sure I can find time to at least post some photos.

Monday, June 24, 2013

What do I know about weight loss and regain?

December 2001Me in 1978reading on the couchMe with glassesEighth Grade Graduation, 1984perm
collegewithbighairSummer 19901991 formalRace for the Cure, 1993Wedding, 1994glamourshot
In Italy, 1999First Triathlon, 2002 (corrected)Half Marathon in 2003Another goal picture2003 Chicago TriathlonHigh School Reunion 2003
Me with BrieJenniandJesse1August 2005December 2005KeyWest 028Me with Jesse
Me, a history in photos, a set on Flickr.
In preparation for my FitBloggin' discussion with Margo on "Getting Back from Gaining Back: Dealing with the Shame of Regain," I am sharing a series of photos and a little of my personal story to give a sense of my history with weight loss and gain.

I was a normal-weight kid but was always very weight-conscious, as everyone in my family was. People on both sides of my family tend to be heavy. In high school, when I tried to diet, I would come home every day and eat whatever snack foods I could find (my mom would hide snacks intended for our lunches so that we wouldn't eat it all, but this just turned it into a treasure hunt). I gained a lot of weight in those last two years at home.

When I got to college, I started to really weight-cycle. I lost about 15 pounds in my first few months of college, and spent a lot of time and energy trying to get even thinner, then overreact and eat a lot of junk. Dealing with adult relationships for the first time didn't help -- if there was a problem with my relationship, I was convinced it was because I was too fat. I started running my junior year of college, but like everything else, I pushed myself too hard.

After college, I had trouble adjusting to graduate school and living with my boyfriend (now my husband) for the first time. I gained some weight during graduate school and then a lot in my first few years of marriage. I don't have pictures of myself at my highest weight, because I tore them all up. Because of injuries and illness, I stopped running completely, but didn't replace it with any other form of exercise. I felt really hopeless, and working in a real estate agency where we all ate fast food and lived on stress didn't help. I had some ups and downs but mostly stayed up.

I decided to quit real estate and let my license lapse. I finished my graduate degree and started on a better career path. But I was going out and partying with friends and drinking a lot of alcohol, so my weight stayed high (see the Santa hat picture).

Right before my 30th birthday, I decided to train for my first Danskin triathlon. I had no idea whether I could do it, but I trained for six months and finished just fine (photo with the yellow and black top and red medal). I continued to do races, including my first half marathon (purple top). I did Weight Watchers and quickly got to my goal weight (bicycle photo). I did the Chicago triathlon (shivering photo in swim cap) right before my 15-year high school reunion (photo with black dress and husband). I thought I had it all figured out.

I didn't have it all figured out. I couldn't stay at my goal weight for long. I tried everything (strength training photo) but I would lose some weight and then regain (husband's graduation photo). I would join Weight Watchers again, lose some weight, and then give up and regain. I found the program very hard for me to stick to.

I have been weight cycling like this since about 2006. This is when I started my blog. I have been continuing to train for races and triathlons, and trying a lot of different things with my diet to try to find a sustainable plan. Along the way, I've met great people at BlogHer and online, traveled to meet with blogging friends, and gotten a PhD.

I think that for me, the real key is self-compassion. Punishing myself into weight loss through any kind of an extreme regimen is not sustainable. I thought, when putting this together, that it would be hard to look at the higher-weight photos or I would feel terrible regret looking at the thinner photos. Nope, they are all me. I do feel some sadness for all I put this body and mind through over the years trying to lose weight so I can be happy.

I have come to the conclusion that the happiness has to come first. I'm committed to living a full life and, though I am still working toward weight loss, I am not making it my only goal. I have a lot to offer the world and I am tired of letting my weight be the reason I am holding back.

I can't wait for the discussion at FitBloggin'. I look forward to hearing everyone's story and talking about how we can each find a sustainable way to reach our own healthy weights.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Appy Traveling

With FitBloggin' coming up in just a few days, I thought I would share some of my favorite travel apps.  I have an iPhone but the three apps I will focus on here all come in Android versions, and TripIt is even available for BlackBerry. 

I have to say that I wish I had had my iPhone back when I was traveling frequently for work.  I had the hated (by me, I know some people love them) BlackBerry, which was very slow at web browsing and much more limited as a travel companion. Now, as long as I keep my phone charged, I always have a map -- one that shows in real time where I am and whether I have gotten off-course. When traveling to a new city, I always download the app for their transit system if one is available, so I can plan my routes ahead of time and cut down the chances that I will get lost.  And I love the voice driving directions -- as long as I use Google Maps or MapQuest and don't accidentally open Apple Maps -- that make it unnecessary to add the GPS upcharge when renting a car.
TripIt Itinerary

Adding three travel apps to the basic smartphone package has saved me a lot of stress. Now I have a customized, sharable itinerary, I always have updated flight information, and I can find decent food options and services in the airport.

The heart of my travel system is TripIt -- an app that organizes my travel itinerary in one screen -- flight, hotel reservations, activities, and dinner plans. Whenever I make a new travel reservation, I just send the confirmation email to plans@tripit.com and it does its best to import the information right to the appropriate trip. It works well, for the most part, though some hotels don't use the standard reservation format that TripIt likes. In that case, the email will appear as a note that I can add to a trip.  Plans can also be added manually using a simple form. I can email my itinerary to anyone easily, and the thing that makes TripIt especially great is that it plays nicely with the other two apps I will review here.  TripIt is a free app, but there is a pro version that adds in flight tracking. If you get the paid version of TripIt, you probably don't need FlightTrack Pro, but I bought FlightTrack first so I have not tried the paid version of TripIt.

Because I have TripIt linked to FlightTrack Pro, the flights for my planned trips appear in my home screen. I can see takeoff and landing times, airports, and layover information from the home screen. There is a free version of FlightTrack, but it doesn't include the features I use most -- airport maps and flight updates. My review here is for the pro version, which is currently $4.99 in iTunes.

Click on a flight segment to see detailed gate information, seat (if you have linked to TripIt), and any delays.  When a flight is active, you can see the current gate. If your gate changes or the flight is delayed, FlightTrack plays an alert sound (or vibrates) and lets you know immediately, often before it is announced over the airport public address system.  What I like best is that when my flight lands, I can check from the runway to see my arrival gate and then see the gate for my connecting flight. With the maps (a pro feature) of airport terminals, I can see if I will have to rush to make it to my connecting flight or if I can take a leisurely walk and maybe even stop for a coffee. This takes a lot of the stress out of a tight connection.

Finally, if I am going to stop for that coffee, I can use GateGuru to see what is available in my terminal and read traveler reviews.  Restaurants, services, and shops are all listed by terminal and gate.  GateGuru also integrates with TripIt to show you the airport information for any trips you have entered.  I have already scouted the options for O'Hare, since I have a two-hour layover and will want to buy some lunch to take on the longer flight to Portland. It's nice to have a sense of what will be available before I arrive.

Of course the information in the reviews depends on the reliability of the reviewers, but if a place is consistently getting bad reviews for slow service or bad food, it's enough to keep me from trying it. Reviewers will often call out features like gluten-free options or good choices for vegetarians, which would be very helpful to people with special dietary needs.

Finally, I have to give a little shout-out to Travelocity.  When looking for flights, I always check on various travel services: Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, Priceline, etc., to get the best options and price.  As a consequence, I have booked through all of them and hadn't really had a particular preference for one over the other. Recently, though, I had an experience that showed why it's worth choosing Travelocity over the others.

I had two trips in June to the west coast and had booked both flights through Frontier because I got a good price and it looked like an easy connection in Denver.  One flight, the earlier one, was booked through Orbitz and the later one was booked with Travelocity.


I got some frantic messages in late May from Travelocity to contact them right away, and called back to find out what was going on. Frontier had completely changed my FitBloggin' flight. They had me traveling an entire day early, and then had rebooked me for a very early morning flight out on my departure day. That would mean I would have to pay for another night in the hotel on the front end with nothing to do, and then would miss an entire day of the conference on the tail end but still have to pay for a hotel for that night too.   Travelocity suspected that might be unacceptable and was trying to see if I wanted to cancel the flight for a full refund or if I wanted to keep it.

Definitely, cancel. I was really happy that Travelocity had alerted me in time to find another flight and that they did all the arguing with the airline for me.  I couldn't believe that anyone would want the new schedule if they were traveling for a conference. I got the full refund and rebooked. The annoying thing was that Frontier seemed to be pretty leisurely about getting me my refund and I was going to have to pay for another flight.

This all made me wonder, what about my other flight on Frontier, the one that left in only two weeks? Orbitz hadn't contacted me, so I contacted them. Yes, my flight was completely screwed up for that trip too. Orbitz got me the refund, which was great, but they hadn't alerted me like Travelocity had.  I would definitely choose Travelocity next time.

Finally, I thought to call American Express, since I had used my Delta rewards card to book all these flights. They took care of wrestling with Frontier, who had told me it could take several billing cycles to process my refund. Amex treated it as a disputed charge and immediately took the charges (and interest) off my account until it was settled.  I was very impressed with their service too.

I'm definitely not impressed with Frontier, and won't book through them again. I will be surprised if I don't see them filing for bankruptcy protection soon, as this is no way to run an airline.  I'm flying American Airlines to FitBloggin, since I got a flight out of Toledo -- a nice option when it's available, which isn't often.  Generally I fly Delta out of Detroit.

Feel free to share your own app recommendations and travel stories in the comments.





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Weigh-in, June 19: STRESS


I think it's sort of funny that I will be co-facilitating a discussion at Fitbloggin' on "dealing with the shame of regain," considering the amount of stress this week's weigh-ins have given me.  We teach what we need to learn, I guess. Today's number is a bummer. Yesterday's was a little lower, 179.4. We went out last night with friends and I did not give a thought to today's weigh-in as I was drinking beer and enjoying bar food. I am salt-sensitive anyway -- a normal restaurant meal can push my weight way up, so this was not going to result in a good weigh-in. What bothered me most this morning is thinking about what everyone would think when I posted a weigh-in above 180. I tried the tricks of getting on and off the scale, trying to fiddle with the number. I considered not posting at all. 

It's bothering me that this blog has become so focused around weight posts. I wanted it to be about more than that. Fitbloggin' is probably a good opportunity for me to think about what else I want to talk about.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Books, books, and more books

Note: All links to books in this post are Amazon affiliate links, mostly so you can find out more about them if you are interested. If you choose to buy something from one of my links, thank you.

I decided to make the switch to Wednesday weigh-ins, so look for that post tomorrow. I was relieved this morning to be back under 180 -- my weight has been up since our Pelee trip -- I really let myself get off-track by not logging my food, and it has taken me a while to get back into the groove of logging every day, and then I definitely had some travel/hormonal things going on with water retention. I'm hoping things are settled down more by tomorrow. I missed a couple of days of daily checklists but will put them at the end of this post.

I have been doing some homework of sorts, sort of like my old summer reading projects. I heard about The Schwarzbein Principle (Amazon affiliate link) on a podcast recommended by Nacho Mama on her podcast. (I have been listening to Margo's podcast archives and I feel like I know her -- can't wait to meet her at Fitbloggin', where we are co-facilitating a small-group discussion.)

Though the dieticians on the podcast she recommended are a little one-sized-fits-all for my taste (everyone in the world is apparently gluten-sensitive and lactose intolerant), I bought The Schwarzbein Principle (Amazon affiliate link) and The Schwarzbein Principle II (another affiliate link) for a penny each, plus $3.99 shipping, and really like the approach.  Dr. Schwarzbein is an endocrinologist, so her books are all about the hormonal effects of foods, especially insulin. That's not news anymore -- there are lots of books that emphasize insulin on the shelves right now -- but I like her balanced approach.  She doesn't recommend no- or low-carb, but a diet that balances carbs, fats, and proteins and focuses on whole foods.  The sample diet plans remind me of what I learned in health class in the 1970s before we all became fat-phobic -- four food groups and balanced meals. The protein amounts aren't huge -- 2-3 ounces per meal and 1-3 ounces per snack. She doesn't cut out whole food groups like some other plans I have seen.  I like the emphasis on whole, real foods.  I think I could make this work with my life. The only problem is that she is anti-coffee. I keep my coffee intake reasonable, I don't drink it all day long, just in the mornings. I am going to start working some of her principles into my day and see if I can ease back on the coffee a bit.

I have been doing a lot of other reading too. On my plane trip I finished two novels, The Next Best Thing (affiliate link) and John Steinbeck's East of Eden, which I bought in the Asilomar gift shop. Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers and I had been wanting to read his masterpiece for a long time, and I liked reading it after I had visited his home country.

As you can tell, I'm an eclectic reader. I love classics but I also enjoy lighter beach reads. I read self-development and nonfiction, especially stuff about science. I read almost every weight-loss-related book that comes out.  I need another big, engrossing book to read on the way to Fitbloggin' -- I just bought a bunch of young adult fiction for light summer reading at one of our local used bookstores, but I need something more substantial for a long plane ride. Any recommendations?  During the school year I almost never read fiction because I get too caught up in it, but this summer I am going back to the kid who would lose herself in book after book.  I just recently finished Beautiful Ruins on audiobook, which I loved, especially since part of it was set in Italy and had a little bit of Italian sprinkled in.

The only thing I'm not in the mood for is the kind of book that Oprah used to feature in her book club -- the anguish-filled stories of child abuse and pain that don't seem to offer anything except misery. The epitome of this genre is Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone (affiliate link), which is probably my all-time most-hated book, unless it's Songs in Ordinary Time (also an affiliate link), another Oprah selection that I hated so much that I purposely left in a hotel room so I wouldn't make myself finish it. Any other recommendations, though, would be appreciated!

Daily checklist for Sunday:



  • At least 30 minutes of exercise per day: No real exercise, I was very tired and chose to take the day off
  • Do my physical therapy exercises: Did some of them in the swimming pool 
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Logged all my food but was way over.
  • Take my supplements: Taken
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Banana, strawberries, carrot, celery, baby spinach, a few blueberries and raspberries
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: A little under
  • At least 90 ounces of fluids: Didn't keep track as well as I should have, might have been under

Daily checklist for Monday:


  • At least 30 minutes of exercise per day: 30 minutes of swimming plus 1 1/2 hour bike ride
  • Do my physical therapy exercises: Did not do them -- I have to make this a priority
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Quite a bit under because of all the exercise, right around where I want to be.
  • Take my supplements: Taken
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Banana, romaine, spinach, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, asparagus, carrots, celery
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: About 30
  • At least 90 ounces of fluids: About 100



Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fitbloggin' planning



Our Fitbloggin' session is more a facilitated discussion than a presentation with questions and answers. I love this, because I like to teach my classes that way, too. But at the same time, I'm thinking I will want to provide anyone interested with a little backstory on me and why I wanted to talk about this topic, and also give links to resources and other things I have found helpful.

We won't have a screen or A/V equipment, but I thought I could write a blog post and tweet the link close to the conference. Anyone who is reading my blog could then join in the conversation, whether they are attending the conference or not.  I will probably post it early in the week before the conference.  

A big part of what I want to talk about and what I am still working on myself is how to make positive changes and work toward goals without making my self-worth dependent on the results. I think I still feel the need to apologize if I have a high weigh-in or let things slide a little when I'm on a trip. That's not the kind of life I want.  

It's funny, I am working on a virtual collage of my pictures at different times in my life to give a sense of my history with body issues. Before, I would look at the higher-weight photos and think, "yuck." I have no pictures of myself at my highest weight because I systematically destroyed them all.  But now I look at the pictures I have and think, "That's me," and "oh, that's me too." I think it's sad that I spent so much time being so hard on myself. And still do, sometimes.

Daily checklist:

  • At least 30 minutes of exercise per day: 45-minute Pilates Circuit class, some stuff around the house
  • Do my physical therapy exercises: Did not do them today, though the Pilates class works some of the muscles they address. 
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Logged all my food but was a little over.
  • Take my supplements: Missed them and it's too late now, I don't want to risk an interaction with my nighttime meds.
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Orange, avocado, romaine, baby spinach, grated carrots, pear
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: 38
  • At least 90 ounces of fluids: 98

Friday, June 14, 2013

Back to basics


Between my trip to Pelee Island and my trip to Asilomar, I have let logging my food slip by the wayside. My weight is up a bit -- it isn't much of a stretch to think that the two things are related. I know (and you know if you have been reading for a while) that ups and downs are normal for me, but I still want to get things back on track before I undo my hard-earned progress.

Fitbloggin' is only 13 days away, and I know I'm not going to lose a lot of weight between now and then, but I can at least get back to the habits that make me feel my best, especially since I'm going to be a model in the fashion show. I want to feel confident.

So, here are the habits I am going to be following:

  • At least 30 minutes of exercise per day (already did a 35-min Spin class today, may go for a walk)
  • Do my physical therapy exercises (just added this one, did some of them but need to do the rest)
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone" (have a few calories left for a snack later)
  • Take my supplements (taking right after I post)
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits (so far: avocado, salad, broccoli, peppers, onions, and strawberries)
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber (at 19, about halfway, may make a smoothie and add chia seeds for fiber)
  • At least 90 ounces of fluids (already at 108)
I'm still unpacking from the last conference but I'm going to do it with FitBloggin' in mind -- any of the toiletries and other stuff that I don't really need between now and then is going to stay packed. I was hoping to take only my backpack with me, but I think that's probably unrealistic. I used my backpack as a carryon for this last trip, and I couldn't fit many clothes in it.  


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pacific Grove Photos


I got back last night from a conference at a gorgeous California state park. The weather was a bit chilly. I didn't get any serious workouts in, but I did a lot of walking on the boardwalks and the beach.


The water was very cold but I still had to get my toes in every day.


Most of my walking was in the morning or evenings, since I had conference sessions to attend in the daytime. I did not see any mountain lions.


I got to go to Monterey one night with some friends I met at the conference. It was warmer there and the bay looked so much different than the ocean where we stayed.


I didn't buy any of this candy but it was pretty. More than $2 per piece, though!




Except for salt water, we were in what seemed to be a desert of sorts.


Took this last picture on my way home -- over Minnesota, every little cloud was making a dark shadow on the ground. We flew through a storm, so I am happy to be home.




"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