Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In & A Little Bit of News

It's been a little busy around here, so this won't be the long rambling post I know you all enjoy so much.

In short, I'm really glad I got a little stricter with my food. I definitely needed  bit more structure, and it's been going very well. I have to plan more carefully since there's a lot less room for little extras, but that's the point and a good thing. Only hiccup was Friday night, when I went way off - just a wonderful, heavy meal where I almost gave up trying because of all the temptations. I'm not happy about undoing the previous day's work, yet I got right back on the next day and have been going strong.

Besides from Friday, office food has not been had, lunches have been packed and not bought (mostly), and meals have been planned. The passive voice has also been thoroughly abused.

This week's weigh-in:

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.370.867.165.364.766.564.665.162.762.7
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.865.267.363.964.463.568.

Muscle and fat match exactly this week, fat level is the same and net weight down a pound. I was hoping my effort would show on the scale since I'm confident I ate a pound's less worth of food, but I'm trusting that it will show up. After all, last week I had a loss that was definitely not the result of that week's work, but probably farther back than that. Bodies are weird. 

Onto the news: Since my manager knows and it's not a secret, I decided to share that I'm currently looking for a new job. I've learned a lot being a paralegal for the last two or three years, but it's time to figure out what I actually want to do with my career and life. My job is structured in that people usually leave after two years, for law school or another career path, so my news is not surprising to anyone at work (it's happened before with other people). I also happen to have an outstanding and supportive manager, for which I know I'm really lucky. 

So, that's that! Tell me about your week!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sir Lettuce and the Evil Mastermind Jelly Donut: The Power of Food

A year ago I wrote about the best piece of weight loss advice I ever got. It boils down to the importance of forgiving yourself and moving on from overeating, or from eating something you wish you hadn’t. I'm much better than I used to be, but still working on it.

But I didn’t go into one of the big reasons why I think it’s so important to forgive yourself. I said that food guilt accomplishments approximately zero and can actually be demotivating because it makes you feel badly about yourself. And that's all true.

But the other “why” is this: Food guilt is pointless because there's nothing to feel guilty about, because I didn’t do anything bad, because cookies are not bad. Cake is not bad. Lettuce is not good.  They’re just different types of foods. Some more healthy, some less healthy, some with more nutrients and others with less. Cookies didn’t steal your lunch money to buy more cookies with which to throw a rambunctious party and create more cookies, and kale didn’t start volunteering at the pet shelter every Saturday.

This also happens to by why I absolutely hate the word and concept of superfood. By the superfood standards, spinach and romaine are just as superfoody as kale. Likewise for blueberries vs. acai. It's just that kale and acai are novel foods and therefore more interesting.

Certain foods can be triggering. I never, ever buy marshmallow fluff or bottled whipped cream because I always end up eating the whole container in a matter of days. That still doesn’t make it bad, that just means I try to put myself in a situation where I'll be especially temped to overeat.

Putting food into categories gives it so much more power than it deserves. Feeling guilty over food gives it too much power. Overall, food has too much power. Or rather, sometimes we give it too much power. I’m not “oh my god, so BAD” if I eat a cookie, and I’m not “being good” if I have a salad for lunch. Rather, I’m bad if I steal the salad from my local hipster salad place, and I’m good if I get extra cookies to give to my coworkers.

I know this, rationally, but that doesn’t mean those feelings of guilt are gone forever. When I’ve messed up a little, eaten my way from a 3500 calorie deficit to a 2800 one, I’ve definitely been annoyed at myself. When I’ve devoured an entire jar of Fluff, I’m certainly not happy with my choice. But I try really hard to take it into the context that I’m human, I’m going to screw up, and this is something I can and will absolutely move on from. And the road to heath is paved with many chocolate covered bumps, right?

Food can be tempting. It sustains. It’s necessary. It can be delicious. It can be wonderful or make you sick. But it’s just food.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In: Another Loss and Changing Things Up Again

This was a weird week, actually. Wednesday was bad, and on Thursday I worked hard to balance it out. Then I overdid it on Friday and Saturday - not horribly, but definitely not weight-loss level.

The Beyonce butt - totally turned it around on Sunday. I've been thinking about getting stricter with calories for awhile, and finally took the plunge on Sunday after the crappy previous four days. I need a reboot, a dunk into cold water. I need to get more extreme briefly to find moderation again.

But before I get into that, this week's weigh-in:

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.370.867.165.364.766.564.665.162.7
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.865.267.363.964.463.568.

Yes and yes! Weight and fat down to a new low! Might actually get out of the 70s this month! I can also count this as a week where the scale caught up to my efforts. I definitely did not earn the loss this week, but the loss is the cumulation of a few weeks. Either way, yay! Now I'm working to earn a pound loss this week.

Could this BE any more amazing?

Back to my my reboot: As much as my plan of having a minimum daily net intake of 1,000 calories plus 2,000 weekly "anytime" calories (for an average of 1300 a day) is probably the overall best way for me to do things, I think I sometimes get lax or a little too flexible after a while. What should be a 3,500 weekly deficit turns into 3,000 or 2,500. I'm still happy with that because progress is progress, but I know I can do better. So I want to do better.

Thus I'm doing a little mini boot camp for the next 2-3 weeks. The only change is that I'm getting rid of the weekly calories. I did this back in June-August and it really worked for me. I ate good food, little to no junk, and felt awesome. (I also got preemptively defensive about people telling me that 1,000 calories/day (plus eating back workout calories) was too little, but I'm not going to do that here again.)

This timing works out well because of an upcoming challenge: Passover, the Jewish holiday, starts on April 4th, so that gives me just under three weeks. For an excellent account of the story, see the Rugrats version. I have it on VHS if you would like to borrow this brilliantly made episode.

In terms of the practical, the bottom line is that for a little over a week, my dietary choices will be limited, and for three of those days I'll be in Michigan with my in-laws, and two more days at my parent's house. I am excited for both because I'm lucky to have wonderful in-laws. As an extra bonus, John's sister and brother will be visiting from across the world, and we haven't seen them for a year.

But food-wise, it will probably be tough. You'd be surprised at the incredible food that can be made without grains or legumes. I need to think of a strategy besides "Don't eat everything." Things work better when there are specifics. It would also seriously suck to undo the progress of the weeks before.

Pictured: Not a great plan.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In: A New Low & More Muscle than Fat!

This was a bit of a tough week. I overate on Wednesday, which is the worst day to do so, because then I spend the rest of the time making up for it. I pulled off a half pound deficit. If I'd had a good Wednesday, it might have been a pound. Ah well. Overall I'm proud that I didn't let a bad day pull me off track for more days.

This week's weigh-in:

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.370.867.165.364.767.466.564.665.1
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.865.267.363.964.463.564.

Yay! A new low, as I've haven't seen 173-point-anything on the scale since the last time I was losing weight. The other amazing thing is that my muscle weight is higher than my actual weight. That happened on 2/25, which you can see on the above chart, but I took that one with a grain of salt because the muscle count was unusually high.

But now, look at this week! Fully a pound more muscle. I know it should be more like I have half as much fat as muscle, but this is a huge, amazing shift and I'm counting it as a milestone.

Speaking of shoulds, I keep a kind of tally of what I "should" weight versus what I actually weigh, based on calories eaten and burned. "Should" is in quotes because none of my measurements are infallible - I have to estimate a few foods a week, and hell, nutrition labels are allowed to be off by a certain percentage. I'm also estimating how many calories I burn per day.

With those disclaimers, here's what the math says: I "should" weigh 169 pounds. Bottom line, I "should" be in the 160s already. But try telling my body and the scale that.

I'm feeling good about the upcoming week. It's so much slower than I'd like, but I'm heading in the right direction.

I don't care that it's a tired topic, I am SO happy that spring is coming around! Who's with me? 

Do you have "should" and "actual" for anything in your life?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Weekly Weigh-In: Seesaw

I got my groove back, working hard and ending the week with a 3300-calorie deficit. (I.e. almost a pound's worth of calories.) 

This week’s weigh-in below. Since I’ve been doing more intensive Tuesday night workouts that I think might have been affecting the weigh-in, I got on a scale a day early.

Lbs. Fat82.772.570.370.867.165.364.767.466.564.6
Lbs. Muscle 67.366.865.267.363.964.463.564.268.264.1

So we’re getting closer to where it’s supposed to be before the ridiculous 4-pounds-up-in-one-week gain, but still a couple pounds off by my calorie calculations. On another note, look how close the fat and muscle pounds are! The seesaw is about to turn the other way.

Honestly, I’m worried this is starting to mess with my head. Just based on these numbers, my weight has been overall quite stagnant for months. But it shouldn’t be. But it is. And I'm tired of being tired of it.

I’ve had one or two people tell me that they’ve noticed I look smaller, more compact, compared to a couple of months ago. I can feel it, too. My back and waist are smaller, and I think my thighs are actually smaller too. That one’s especially great, because they’re usually the last to go. I can see my jawline has gotten more defined. It's definitely time for some new measurements and progress photos, actually.

So it’s like my appearance matches my efforts and success, but the scale, even with it’s fat/muscle magic, isn’t. I liked the scale because it’s supposed to be a good way to measure shorter term progress, but right now it’s not doing its job. So I either need to really, really focus on the positive changes that have been happening to my body (because they really have and it’s great) or stop weighing in.

Tools are only tools when they’re useful (unless of course you’re talking about people who are tools), and this one’s not being useful. It’s time for some updated measurements, ASAP.

The other question is, should I put the scale away? 
Who else is sick of my whining besides me?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

February Goal Results, and Goals for March

A month ago (<-- link) I made some goals for the month of February. Let’s see how I measured, or didn’t measure, up.

Goal: Get into the 160s to reach an official 30 pound loss
  • Fail, fail, fail, fail. See posts in February for my whining on this situation. I’m hoping March is the magic month. This is exactly like getting out of the 180's was


Goal: Increase Strength Training to 2-3 times per week
  • In hindsight, I think this goal was too lofty. Going from one to three times a week ended up being more of a challenge than I thought
  • The improvement here is that I started attending Total Body Conditioning, which has much more of an impact than my 10-15 minute sessions

Goal: Improve eating habits over the weekends, when I’ve been going overboard
  • With the exception of the birthday/crappy week, this has been much improved.
  • I’ve made two major changes to get better about this: Stop cooking desserts for other people, and actually making a detailed plan about what I’m going to eat for group meals. Deciding how much, if any, bread to have is 100x easier before the meal than during

Goal: Make more creative breakfasts, or anything that’s not Greek Yogurt or Oatmeal
  • Breakfast today was oatmeal, so I’ll let you determine this one. However, I bought a carton of egg whites, so we are well on our way here.
  • Confession: I stopped caring about this one

Goal: Bring lunch to work at least 4 days a week
  • Score! I’ve been bringing lunch to work very consistently. A couple of times it’s just been a frozen meal (usually Amy’s), but it counts because it’s still cheaper, and the decision part of work lunches is out of the equation  

Goal: Don’t Let My Birthday Become an Excuse to Overeat for a Week
  • Another fail here. I indulged myself to a half pound gain that week, which manifested as four extra pounds, which thankfully are gone now

Goal: Be Better About Cooking/Prepping Sundays
  • Meh. I’m probably about the same here.

Bottom line: Maybe this was too many goals. I was trying to improve in every weight loss-related area where I needed to work, instead of focusing on just a couple. Or I’m just making excuses.

Either way, for my March goals, I’m going to zero in much more. For example, I’ll cross the breakfast boredom bridge when I reach it.

Goals for March

  • No Sugar 
    • This is an obvious one since it’s already underway. I decided to cut way, way back on my sugar intake outside of work, and completely stop eating office treats. Overall this is going well! There have been many wonderful items in my office, and also lots of mini candies, and I’ve stayed far away from them all.
    • I’ve even realized I don’t even taste the difference when I decrease the sugar in my coffee by 25%. (6 grams instead of 8). I’m working on eventually getting down to just taking my coffee with milk. That would save me 30 calories a day, which is 30 more calories of cheese.
    • So overall my intention is just to keep this up through March at least.
  • Get to the 160s
    • Seriously. There’s 4.5 weeks in March. I can do this.
    • According to my calorie deficits, I should be in the low 170s already. I'm not. I'm impatient.