Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year…”

To my readers, I apologize for the lengthy absence. Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year!” On the weight front, it’s been follow the bouncing scale readout for months now and frankly, I’ve been struggling to go from day to day.

Yes, there have been some health issues, but they are getting under control. But I’ve lost my motivation, direction, and sight of why I started this journey in the first place. While it was understandably for potential serious health reasons (borderline diabetic, developing sleep apnea, having trouble with simple walking, and generally feeling like crap), after losing a large portion of the weight and those issues now resolved, the last roughly 40 pounds to lose (I’ve gained back almost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year) now seems an unobtainable goal. The difficulty stems partially from struggling with constant bouts of depression since April that only now are getting under control and being just plain tired.

Tired of struggling to lose even a pound, working out 5 days a week, eating like a bodybuilder (i.e. a fly!), only to gain 2-3 back after 1 pancake breakfast. The depressions come with major sugar/carb cravings and it takes weeks to lose the weight from falling off wagon after wagon. We’ve talked about “flipping the switch” – looking at problems from the opposite direction or a different point of view. So here I am with you, dear readers, admitting I now need help to get back on track and figure out why this journey continues to be important, and what it’s true value is to me, not just now, but in the future as well.

Because what I’ve learned is this: this is not a journey – it’s a way of life, a commitment to set aside fleeting instant gratification and “sweet treat pleasures” for a healthy body and nutrition and loving movement that keeps my mind on track. I am getting help with this, going back to a therapist after 4 years without one and making a major med change that I am praying will help with the sabotaging food cravings.

So today’s lesson: yes, I’ve fallen down this year, over and over again. But I keep getting back up and part of that is coming back to this blog. It’s very hard admitting here that I’ve lost my focus and dedication. But committing to writing here, finding inspirational messages, quotes, stories, and pictures for you (and myself), and using this as part of holding myself accountable, all these actions will help. Yes, they will take work. Yes, it will be a pain in the ass. Yes, I would rather be eating cheesecake and watching “Farscape” than sweating in the gym and staying true every day to making healthy food choices.

But I commit to myself, and to you, tomorrow is a new day. We’re going out to eat for our anniversary, but even then, and the rest of the day, I will make healthy food choices. I will go to the gym for a 1 hour cardio and strength training session. And I will report back to you on whether I was able to honor these 2 commitments for 1 day. Sadly, like a 12 stepper, it’s going to be 1 day at a time for awhile. But I hope you’ll support me and, as I get back on track, I’ll do the same for you.

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2012 Yearly Wrap Up

2013 3Hello and Happy New Year!!!

After taking a short break to my “get crap back together” after the school thing, am very happy to be back and will be blogging again regularly. Missed everyone but have been busy learning new fitness, nutrition, and motivation tips and tricks to help us all!

But first a quick wrap of “2012 Goals Achieved“!

INCHES LOST: I lost 4 inches off my bust, went from 22 to size 16/18 in pants and from 1X to Xlarge and some Large/Medium as well. Sold or Donated 80% (or more) of my clothes and shoes and, except for one shopping trip, have gotten everything but sneakers from Goodwill.

FAT LOST: I lost 15 pounds this year and have kept it off. Went through a cycle of gaining and losing, then plateaued for about 5 months but kept going.

STRENGTH: I am doing much better. Can do 3 rounds of full range of exercises with trainer. Bench press 40 pounds and squatting 60 pounds. Much better endurance and able to run 2 miles easily.

MOTIVATION: I began working in July with an amazing trainer and hit the gym at least 3 times a week now, if not more. That includes fitness classes, strength training, C25K training, and yoga. Also tried P90X with a group.

RUNS ACCOMPLISHED: I completed 3 separate 5K’s this year, up from 1 last year. Also decreased time on the last one – Thanksgiving Day – by 15 minutes!

DIET: This year I struggled with sweets and junk food, especially pastry, but was able to get friends on board with my “healthy eating program”. Also did a great job with food choices during the holiday’s compared to last year, and did a 1 day water cleanse yesterday – even with going to a friend’s gathering a being surrounded with AMAZING FOOD.

BREAKFAST: Eat breakfast every day, use stevia not sugar, cook with cooking spray.

WATER: Drink it like it’s out of style (at least a gallon a day). That, coffee, and protein shakes are all I drink now.

ENDING THE BLAME / GUILT CYCLE: I am finished blaming my weight gain on my condition (1 med a bit of an issue but have overcome it), my mom for passing the condition down, and beating myself up when I slip off the wagon, hit a wall, or fail at something. Now I can accept life as it comes, deal with it, and move on to make healthier, smarter decisions next time. This is a HUGE step for me!

TAKING CARE OF MYSELF FIRST: After the whole “class thing” and backsliding, I have been extra vigilant about self care, meds, preparing healthy meals, eating on time, and getting to the gym. The healthier I am in all areas of my life, the better wife, friend, and overall person I will be. Can’t help others with half a tank!

OTHER GOALS ACHIEVED OF NOTE:

SOCIAL: Went from anxiety/depression central and trapped at home 2 years ago to planning and hosting 3 parties/gatherings this year: a “Harry Potter Movie Marathon and Authentic Menu” Party, “Cocktails/Mocktails” Party, and a “French Country Christmas”. Also captained the 2012 NamiWalk, great success! Am almost anxiety free now and ready to kick another med to the curb! And will be reconnecting and visiting with friends monthly.

EDUCATION: Signed up for and completed 90% of a college class.

FINANCIAL: Also studying and creating a financial plan for my family for next year to knock out our debts. Paid off car and refinanced house this year. Exciting plans for 2013.

Have another set already of goals for 2013, some carried over from 2012, but many new.

Pleased to report that achieved almost everything on our “2012 Vision Board“. So for those of you who don’t know what a vision board is or just haven’t used one – I HIGHLY recommend it! Seeing your goals in color every day and the “check marks” stuck to the one’s you’ve achieved is an incredible motivator. Gives such an amazing feeling of pride and accomplishment. Have a blog entry from January 2012 explaining how to make your own vision board but even if you just create a “2013 Goals List” and display it where you’ll see it every day, then check things off as you do them, you’ll still get those “warm fuzzy feelings”.

So, welcome back everyone! 2013 is a year of challenging myself like never before, beating the sugar monster, and getting in the best health I’ve been in since my late 20’s. And I challenge you to go after your goals and “knock them out of the park” as well! Would love to hear some of your plans and goals for the New Year and your accomplishments in 2012. This is going to be exciting and thrilled you’re along for the Ride!

Extra Weight Gain? Is it Food or Meds? Or What?

I’M UP 5 POUNDS, I FEEL LIKE CRAP, WHAT NOW???

We all know it starts with food – what we eat, how much, frequency, when, etc. Then it goes to activity, water consumption, getting enough sleep, but then it gets murky. In a depression, there’s tons of science about eating more, craving sugary/fatty foods, eating less or not eating. There are tons of factors but many of us end up with extra weight gain and feeling worse about ourselves as we move out of the depression or other episode. Not all, but the “I could care less” during the episode changes pretty quick for me when I look at the scale. The question is: did the depression cause the weight gain or did I gain weight by self medicating with food???? What other factors are in play?

For me, the main culprit has usually been meds. They helped me gain most of the weight, than I helped myself. Took 2 years to titrate (lower dosage) down 1 main culprit and another I was worried about dependency with. Then wham, bad episode, doc ups the “evil weight gain med” and a week later I’m 5 pounds up and feeling like a double failure. The pain of the episode, both mental and physical, pushed me over the edge to self medicate with food. Chicken, egg? The point: the med change helped me so much emotionally I’ve been coming out of the bad funk over the last few days. Have been able to slowly knock the increase back. And the 5 pounds, well with the lower dosage, lots of exercise, cutting back carbs, and increasing protein, not only are they gone, I’m actually back to July/Aug weight.

Lesson: There are so many factors that impact weight gain and loss, but for us on mood meds, they can have a very real impact on our hard work. Some are notorious “weight gainers” and while they help us feel more stable, we look in the mirror and are pretty unhappy with the side effects. What’s critical to remember is that mood stabilization, mental health, and mental safety come first. You can only do so much when you’re in an episode. Once you’re more stable, then you can talk to your doc about the weight issues and what you can safely do to address them. Be good to yourself – hopefully you have a plan in place and support system to call on when needed. If not – DO ONE!!!!! I wouldn’t be here typing away if those two things haven’t been my lifeline for 12 years. Although I’m preaching to many in the choir, hopefully this will shed some light for some others of you.

Huge Shout Out to Sandy Sue for her friendship and amazingly great advice/insight! Hugs!

Thrilled To Be Back…And How To Torch 100 Calories – It’s Easier Than You Think

It’s been an extremely busy few weeks, not an excuse, just an “exercise” in juggling new activities and responsibilities. Think I’m finally getting a handle on it.

Activities / Milestones of Note:

  • This past Sunday, did a 5K and ran/jogged 2/3rds of it. Compare to this April when struggled to just walk one.
  • On the 5th week of the C25K training program.
  • Signed up for 3rd 5K this year – the Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.
  • Battling emotional eating yesterday while in another bad depression BUT was able to stop myself for calling for pizza/cheesecake takeout and instead did a 20 minute run.
  • Called Overeater’s Anonymous to start digging into what’s holding me back and get tools to address overeating, sugar addiction, and self sabatogue.

But enough about me, here’s the good stuff:

How To Torch 100 Calories…Some Ways Are Easier Than Others, But You’ll Be Surprized!

Everything you do burns calories—breathing, sleeping, standing, and all of the active pursuits you enjoy. But what does it take to burn just 100 calories? You may be surprised by how little—or how much—activity you have to do to achieve that goal! To put it all in perspective for you, we’ve gathered 50 different ways to burn 100 calories. From standard exercises you do at the gym, to everyday chores around the house, you can burn 100 calories in just a few short minutes of your day.

Keep in mind that not all movement is created equal. In order to classify an activity as a cardio ”exercise,” you must be working at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. (You can calculate your target heart rate here.) However, even though periods of less intense activity may not count as part of your workout, they still provide health benefits and burn extra calories. After all, the less sitting you do, the better!

50 Ways to Burn 100 Calories

(Values are approximate and are based on a 150-pound person.)

Workouts:

  1. Biking: 23 minutes of casual cycling
  2. Cardio dance class: 15 minutes
  3. Elliptical: 8 minutes
  4. Jumping rope: 9 minutes at a moderate intensity
  5. Lifting weights, vigorously: 15 minutes
  6. Pilates: 24 minutes
  7. Rowing machine: 13 minutes
  8. Running stairs: 6 minutes
  9. Running: 9 minutes of running at a 6 mph pace
  10. Swimming: 15 minutes moderate intensity
  11. Walking stairs: 11 minutes
  12. Walking: 20 minutes of walking at a 3 mph pace
  13. Water aerobics: 23 minutes
  14. Yoga: 20 minutes
  15. Zumba: 11 minutes

Sports and Leisure Activities:

  1. Basketball, shooting hoops: 20 minutes
  2. Bowling: 30 minutes
  3. Dancing around living room: 20 minutes
  4. Darts: 35 minutes
  5. Golfing, carrying clubs: 15 minutes
  6. Ice skating, moderate: 18 minutes
  7. Kickball: 13 minutes
  8. Mini golf or driving range: 30 minutes
  9. Playing catch with a football: 35 minutes
  10. Playing Frisbee: 30 minutes
  11. Playing soccer, casual: 13 minutes
  12. Skiing,downhill: 10 minutes
  13. Softball or baseball: 18 minutes
  14. Tennis (doubles): 21 minutes
  15. Tennis (singles): 15 minutes
  16. Treading water, moderate effort: 23 minutes
  17. Volleyball, recreational: 26 minutes
  18. Water skiing: 15 minutes

Yard Work:

  1. Mowing the lawn: 20 minutes
  2. Painting house: 18 minutes
  3. Raking leaves: 23 minutes
  4. Shoveling snow: 15 minutes
  5. Washing the car: 20 minutes
  6. Weeding the garden: 18 minutes

Everyday Activities:

  1. Carrying an infant: 24 minutes
  2. Cleaning, moderate effort: 26 minutes
  3. Cooking: 34 minutes
  4. Doing dishes: 40 minutes
  5. Mopping the floor: 20 minutes
  6. Playing with children: 23 minutes
  7. Pushing a stroller: 35 minutes
  8. Rearranging furniture: 14 minutes
  9. Shopping: 38 minutes
  10. Sweeping: 23 minutes
  11. Walking the dog, 26 minutes

Were you surprised by the amount of time it takes to burn 100 calories? Which of these activities can you incorporate into your life to burn an extra 100 calories per day? Pick one that fits into your schedule and go for it!

Train Like Your Stronger Fitter Evil-Twin is Plotting…

How hard do you train? More importantly, what are your real fitness goals? Are they written down? Have you even thought past just losing weight and being able to shop in cooler stores?

When I started this journey in April of 2011, my only goal was to lose weight, mainly because I was just so miserable and disgusted with myself. But actual fitness goals aside from what I needed to do to lose the weight, not really. There were a few ambiguous ones like being able to walk for 20 minutes, get through a whole yoga class, that sort of thing. Now, a bit over a year later, 80 pounds lighter, and spending more time at the gym than I ever dreamed I would, now I have goals. They are:

* Consistently do at least 30 minutes of sustained activity 30 minutes 6 days a week.

* Complete 2 5K’s by December 31, 2012. (Have 1 scheduled for October. And doing the C25K program.)

* Complete a Half Marathon in 2013. (Start training in January.)

* Reach my goal weight of 160 by December 31, 2012 – and be at 25% body fat percentage (the normal range).

* Biggest: At least double the amount of weight I can lift, strength training I can do, and incorporate a program like P90X to really push losing fat and building muscle.

* And of course, ditch the “white stuff” – sugar, white flour, salt, butter/margarine (ok they’re not white) and eat as cleanly as possible.

These are my goals – sure that yours may be different in many ways. However, the next most important piece is planning how to reach whatever your goals are. Planning how you’ll do it, creating a schedule, journalling/charting your progress, and celebrating milestones. All this seems pretty basic, right?

Basic until you ignore your eating regime to have oatmeal right before bed. Til you blow off gym class to do, well whatever. Letting your schedule slide because life is getting in the weigh (family, work, school). Unless you have a plan, look at it regularly, and have a method to hold yourself accountable, it’s so very easy to let life takeover one tiny piece at a time until you’re sliding backwards and even more stressed out.

If you don’t have a plan, consider making one. If you’re not journalling to keep your food under control and charting your fitness progress, there are tons of great sites and apps to make it quick and easy. A small notebook works, too!

Don’t do what I did last night – ignore my trainer’s advice to have a protein shake at night if I get hungry and instead carb load and let it turn to fat overnight. Especially after busting butt for over an hour with my trainer that afternoon. Stepping on your own success is only frustrating and discouraging. Let that “future you” you’ll become be your guide and advise you. I ask “what would future Lara want me to do right now to help her become the fit, toned, and healthy person she became?”. The answer is: move more, eat clean and smart, and keep going! This journey is truly a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself, do your best, and you’ll get there. In the meantime, be firm but gentle with yourself “on the weigh”!

 

 

Back On Track!

Yes, we loved DC, the family, the sites, the Food!!!

Warning: Vacations Can (and for some of us will) Throw Off Our Diet and Workout Habits Completely!!!

What To Do: Come home and get back on track RIGHT AWAY!!! It may take a day or so to transition back, to go back to the gym, to start eating on plan again but that’s ok – a few days won’t make too much of a difference. Change 1 meal, then 2, then 3, then your healthy snacks and you’re back to your healthy lifestyle!

A few pics to chart my progress over the last few months – the first is from February 2012, the 2nd pic is my training pic from today’s session:

The difference – 20 pounds, a lot of inches around my legs, waist, and face! And willing to pose straight on versus at an angle. Will post training pics every 4 months to see the ongoing transformation. The biggest change: able to wear a LARGE fitness top and LARGE yoga/workout pants – and workout with the “amazing trainer from hell” for about a full HOUR versus barely making it 30 minutes. All that in 2 months with her! Building muscle, endurance, and lifting heavier weights every time. When you find “the trainer”, be grateful! They’ll push you further than you think you can go – and then you do!

Lesson for Today: You are capable of more than you can conceive – you have no limits!

 

What Can You Do Now?

Depending on where you are with your personal weight loss journey, and at regular intervals, it’s a terrific idea to think back to where you started and take a few minutes to compare what you could do then versus what you can do now. Not the obvious things like being able to walk around the block, finish a gym class, are overall healthier and have more energy.

The less obvious ones:

* Being able to run to the car through the rain without being winded.

* Being able to bend over in the shower to shave your legs.

* Automatically reaching for an apple instead of a donut without realizing you’re doing it.

* Doing a yoga pose instinctively, perfectly, the first time, to your own amazement.

* Getting up from a low couch without leaning on something or needing help.

* Comfortably crossing your legs.

* Leaning over and wrapping your arms around your legs while seated on the floor, again without thinking about it.

* Moving past the conscious decision to do a healthier activity because so many are now second nature. Like taking the stairs and parking farther away to get a little extra activity.

* And the very little things like going to sleep at a decent hour because you’re honesty tired, not because you’re eyes are fried from too much tv or video gaming, but because your body has reset itself.

* Finally, the feeling developing deep in yourself that you’re a thin person, a healthy person, temporarily wearing a fat suit. That happened to me a few days ago and it’s been instrumental in strengthening my commitment to reaching my fitness and weight goals.

As you keep a food journal, an exercise journal, maybe think of starting a list of “new developments” list of thoughts and actions that you look back and realize how long it’s been since you were able to do them, if at all. More than a number on a scale or the amount of weight you’re able to lift or miles you can now run, it’s the little things that we now take for granted that truly make all the difference.

Start that list – you’ll be glad you did. Plus you can use it for a confidence boost when your commitment wanes or you hit a plateau!

There is NO “I Can’t”

There truly is no “I Can’t” and the only limits we have are those we impose upon ourselves. No one exemplifies this more than South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, a quadriplegic who is competing head to head with the rest of the those running in this summer’s 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“Oscar Pistorius, running on prosthetic legs, finishes last in race, first in hearts”

(South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius pops out of the starting block in the men’s 400m semifinals during the Summer Olympic Games on Sunday, August 5, 2012 in London, England.)

At the tiny gym I go to now (not sure it’s really a gym, more like a place where serious athletes and body builders train), one of the owners – my trainer Liz – is going to put a huge poster of Oscar on the wall so anytime anyone says “I can’t” or wants to quit when they still have something in them, she’ll point him out as an example. Not only did he make it to the Olympics, and even with all the padding, those prosthetics HURT! He’s in pain and he’s still running! And maybe he came in last in his first race but he still has the 400 to go. Talk about “never say die”!

I’ve posted the “Versus” motivational video numerous times because it is so powerful. Any goal we want to achieve – mental health, weight loss, getting in shape, relationship or career goals, school, whatever – can be daunting, especially if we don’t have a solid ground of support and/or achievement. There comes a time when it’s necessary to become our own cheerleaders. To discover the strength we have RIGHT NOW inside us to start down a new path. If it helps, print out Oscar’s picture and put it where you’ll see it the most. Use his example to remind yourself that anything is possible, anything that can be dreamed can be achieved.

I believe in you. Now it’s your turn. If you’re already there, I’m working my a** off to catch up!

Pain, Agony, Hungry, And It’s All Going To Be Worth It!

(Thanks to Erin Says… for the terrific graphic – and grats Lady on the weight loss this week!)

Days of Pain and Ibuprofen

The new trainer gave me – finally – my new “eating plan” and not only is it incredibly strict, I feel like I’m either eating or preparing meals all the time. Which is true because I eat every 3 hours.

She also killed me in the workout side to the point that I had to lay down with my feet elevated. And stopped short of an hour and she had me ride the bike for 20 minutes. Felt like a workout wimp.

So I decided to do another monthly challenge and this one is a “take an hour for you to improve in some area” and of course mine is fitness. In that vein, started the C25K program this afternoon. Then did 20 minutes of strength training and limped to my car. Was Ms. Cranky at home until the worst of the soreness passed. Funny, even my toes hurt. And during the running portions, felt every one of the extra 40 pounds I’m lugging around as they bounced around!

Am contemplating an even bigger challenge but considering that although I finished the first C25K session, Week 1, and went on to work out more, I’m exhausted and will probably go to bed in an hour or so.

Yes, even after a well balanced meal, still hungry, in pain and on to the ibuprofen, but happy to have finished the first workout. Next, will check back in after finishing the first week. That and sticking to the meal plan…am seriously craving a cupcake – evil, bad cupcake!!

This post is a kind gentle warning for those of you considering starting the C25K program – definitely eat an hour before, make sure you do protein plus a carb, and stretch before and after. Good idea to do it on non-strength training days – major tip!

Still considering the “major challenge”!

Love to hear your stories of recent challenges you’ve decided to take on – virtual support can be just as good as the real life stuff.

 

A little late…But Some Terrific, Healthy Breakfast Ideas

You’ve got to love SparkPeople! Got this in my mailbox this morning and sorry so late in sharing it. But hey, it’s only ___ hours until your next breakfast!

Quick and Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Eat Right, Even When There’s No Time

— By Liz Noelcke, Staff Writer, SparkPeople.com

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it 937 times: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Why? You just spent eight hours with no food or water. You’re dehydrated, your blood sugar is low and you have little energy. And now it’s time to hurry the kids off to school before the eight-hour workday. More than any other point in the day, you need nourishment. Right now.

Besides, eating breakfast actually helps you lose weight. Those who skip the meal tend to snack before lunch and throughout the day, usually on unhealthy, high-calorie foods. Breakfast eaters typically cruise until lunch, while beaming with energy.

So what are some breakfast ideas? Scratch that–healthy and quick ideas? Here are some of our favorites:

  • Prepare a casserole the night before. Pop it in the microwave when you wake up and it will be ready to go when you are.
  • Incorporate complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat toast and bagels. Spread peanut butter and raisins on top of either for added flavor.
  • Bake bran muffins early in the week, then grab one or two each morning. Or check out a local bakery for healthy varieties.
  • Make waffles Sunday morning and freeze the leftovers. You can pop ‘em in the toaster for a homemade breakfast. Also, grocery stores sell frozen whole grain selections.
  • Have you ever tried a tortilla for breakfast? Wrap up cold turkey and cheese, grab an apple and you’re on your way.
  • Don’t forget cold cereal. We’re not talking about those covered with sugar, but the healthy variety. Items such as Wheaties and Cheerios are always good choices.
  • Whole-egg or egg white omelets with fresh or frozen veggies (carrots, broccoli, celery, peppers, onions and even black beans make great additions).
  • Make a shake or a smoothie. Blend fruit and yogurt and then drink it in the car. A side option is a small bag of finger foods, such as a mixture of granola and grapes.

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One important additional tip:

If you’re working out fairly soon after your first meal of the day, you’ll want to have a small protein/carb combo shortly before you work out, in addition to your breakfast. Why? Your body is in starvation mode after no food for 8 hours so rapidly processes what you first put in it. You’ll want to give it some extra fuel about 1/2 hour before putting stress on it. And don’t forget your post-work out protein boost. Taking a shake with you to sip in the car on the way home is easy and quick. And of course, don’t forget your water for during and afters (sorry, know that one’s obvious!).