Wednesday, August 08, 2012
A recent unexpected event with respect to my money had me thinking about lessons I'd learned with my budget before I started in on my journey here to fitness and health.
I have had some extra cash in my checking account for a few months. I've been slowly using it toward things like getting dental work that is long overdue. Slowly being the key word. I'd learned to always leave myself a cushion for the unexpected.
This week I was thankful I had. Two weeks ago I got my new insoles and shoes. Expected expense, but a little more than I planned. One week ago I got my DDa new insoles and shoes. I also got my DS new shoes. The former was expected; the latter a concession to buffer them from the EX's family getting into nonsense about me loving one more than the other because they're more likely to see what I buy DDa.
All good so far. But then a potential situation cropped up where EX owed DDa money - the money she needed to pay her rent. And a second situation cropped up where DS has a wedding to attend this coming weekend and needs something a little more formal than his usual polo over a T and jeans.
Because of what I've learned in the past, I know all the payments coming out of my account, when I'll have a paycheck, how to make sure that clears on Friday rather than Monday night, and have an accessible online bank savings account that I can transfer funds from just in case. I have enough "spare" groceries around to make it through one week of no food budget.
So rather than panic or feel like giving up, I'm immediately looking at all my options.
I do that same thing with my food and fitness. My DDa likes to randomly ask to meet up, which often means for dinner. Often the request comes in the late afternoon ... after I've eaten everything in my planner but dinner and my post workout smoothie. Some days I get to work later and stay later, and by the time I get to the gym there may not be time for a full workout or something else causes me to want/need to put off my ST a day.
Rather than panic or feel like giving up, I've learned to look at the many possible options. If my calorie range is 2200, and I eat 2700, I can try to eat 2100 each day for the rest of the week - or I can add 10 minutes to each workout for a week. ST may be scheduled for M-W-F, but I have no trouble doing M-Th-Sat or M-W-Sat or T-Th-Sat. As long as I have at least one rest day between each, and get back to M the next week, what difference does it make which day I do it on?
I remember reading something about optimism - quite possibly here on SparkPeople. One of the reasons that optimists do well is that they EXPECT there to be a solution and they will keep looking to find it. A pessimist has already accepted that there isn't a solution and would miss one sitting right in front of their nose; because there is no solution it can't be there.
I use that approach when it comes to problems and stresses.
I EXPECT there to be a solution.
I keep looking and keep pushing and keep researching and keep trying ... because one way or another I am determined to find that solution.
Interesting what that reminded me of.
Growing up there was a magazine I found out about from my mother's third husband's mother (okay, yes, that sounded awkward, but we didn't call him our step father for whatever reason even though they were family more than the wicked step mother ever was.) GAMES magazine, it was called. I see an online version, but have no idea if the hard-copy is what it used to be.
From my mother I'd already gotten well into all sorts of puzzle magazines. I had a giant maze book for a cross-country road trip, I did acrostics and crosswords, logic problems, and so much more. I still have a love of word puzzles and games.
GAMES took this way beyond. Some puzzles were incredibly challenging. Magazines often had hidden contests, where answers in other puzzles added up to the contest instructions.
Anyway, it took real perseverance to keep going back to the magazine and trying to get just a little further in one or another puzzle. Sometimes it took teamwork - one of us doing puzzles we were better at and another doing others. With three or four of us, that covered a lot of ground.
The lesson I learned was that every one of those puzzles did have a solution - even if I couldn't see it right now, if I could just look at it differently or learn something new then I would have the clue to solving that part of the problem.
Dealing with the unexpected - is a puzzle with a solution. Sometimes we can work at it and solve it right away. Other times we have to set it aside until we can look at it another way. Yet other times we need to pull in another mind to help us with expertise we don't have.
Saturday, August 04, 2012
Even if I don't get a chance to acknowledge or thank people for all their wonderful responses to my blogs, I do read all of them. One of the great things is when others question something I've said. Some things are obvious from my side of the keyboard - because I have more facts about the situation. Other things send me off researching or thinking more about what I've said. (A good example was my two quitting blogs - questions in the responses made me think more and write more.)
So in my blog on August goals, one response had what I thought was a good question and I took a bit of time today to think about it.
== MY QUOTE ==
I don't know what weight exactly will be my stop and maintain point, but I do know I want to move in the direction of a body at a healthy weight.
== END MY QUOTE ==
== QUOTE BERKCHIK ==
... but i would ask myself if there is any level of fear holding me back from making them more specific. for example, most people know within 10 pounds or less--what their ideal weight is. Why don't *you*?
== END QUOTE ==
My easy answer is no, there isn't any fear stopping me. I'm just as likely to go below my current “goals” as not.
But maybe that's too easy. I thought for a while about the goal weights I have set – 160 and 155.
While I did the largest share of my weight gain between about 30 and 42, I have carried some amount of excess weight much of my adult life. Not necessarily in the overweight category at all times, but enough to be a concern. The first few years out of high school, I'd say it was in the 5 to 15 pound range – mostly leading to buying those spandex girdle type things or control-top pantyhose to convince myself it was fine.
The scale never really meant much to me. I think I got weighed more during my pregnancies than I ever weighed myself. I bounced between two sizes of clothes, so I had a general measure of whether I was lighter and heavier based on which fit better. I judged my size, when I paid attention, by how things fit and how I looked in a mirror.
Weights that I do remember:
150 in high school driver's ed class
around 170 when I was considering joining the Air Force
198 or 199 on the day before I had DDb (who weight 8 lb 15 oz)
165 around the time I married my EX
190 at the end of my other two pregnancies
Of those, 150 is the only one where I remember being pretty sure I had no extra weight on me. But was that true or was it just part of my general acceptance of my body? Looking back at pictures, I can't really tell. Ugly skirts and blouses did nothing to show shape. I'm big-boned and busty (and maybe broad-shouldered, though never as much as my mother who showed our Welsh roots). So maybe I had the extra 5-15 pounds already. I don't know.
The 170 I don't actually remember the exact number. Instead, I needed to lose at least 10 pounds to be within their allowed limit. I don't know if it has changed, but I found one online that said 164 for women who are 5'8” and 159 for women who are 5'7”. I don't know which I was listed as, so I figure I was 169-174 at that point. Of course … a week later I discovered I was around two and a half months pregnant, so I wouldn't be losing any weight.
At 165 in the dress I got married in, I can definitely see belly bulge but I was also about 5 months pregnant. The first few months of that pregnancy I was fighting nausea to the point I remember Triscuits being the only food I had a hope of keeping down before late afternoon. In spite of trying not to, I lost weight in those early months. Just proof most of my known weights revolve around my pregnancies.
At no point in any of those weights above was I muscular, athletic, or particularly fit. I hated P.E. most of the time. I didn't even take it in my last year or two of high school when I remember the 150 weight. (I did enjoy the one quarter I got to choose my “sport” and picked weight training. That was 9th grade.) Aside from walking or biking to get places, I wasn't physically active. Even when I had gym memberships and did step classes and rowing machines and weights … I never really dedicated myself to my fitness like I have now.
I've looked at "ideal weight" charts. Those vary a lot – worse for the ones that don't differentiate by frame / bone size. Two of those have 125-164 and 126-154 based on my height. My wrists are 6.75” and 7” - which is either top of the medium range or bottom of the big-boned range. With two charts that let me pick "large frame" I get 149-169 and 146-167. Those are using 5' 8" as my height - though I'm actually 5' 7.75".
I've also messed around with the body fat %. My scale using a foot body fat sensor said 180.5 pounds at 38% body fat today. That works out to about 112 pounds of lean body mass. If that was accurate, my weight to be in the healthy range of 23-35% would be 145 – 172.
From all this, I've had a 15 pound range in mind – 150 as my “low” and 165 as my “high”. I saw 150 as a weight I was at 17 and would probably be overshooting to aim for since I'm 43 and have had three children. I saw 165 as definitely carrying extra weight and needing to drop a few.
I set my original goal weight and tracker to 160. Several months along I lowered it to 155. So in a broad sense I actually do have a goal weight that is a 10 pound (or less) range.
I just don't consider those numbers to be written in stone.
I could get to 155 and discover I'm still carrying too much excess fat and eventually find that 145 is more realistic. Or I could hit 165 and discover that all the muscle-building I'm doing has me heavier but far fitter.
It's not fear that keeps me from setting a firm goal. Until I'm there (or rather close) I don't actually know what is a good weight for me.
With that side worked out, I then thought about the real reason I say I don't have an exact stop and maintain weight. It isn't the above lack of certainty. It's because I don't envision maintenance based around the scale.
Not that I'd stop weighing. I'm quite comfortable doing so daily as a routine and recording the numbers to track the trend.
But even now there are times I completely go blank on how much I currently weigh. (It was pretty funny one time when I put 195 into a cardio machine, only realizing I was off 10 pounds and should have put 185 when I weighed in the next morning.) Several times I have been doing a calculation and had to go to SP's tracker to see what my weight was that day.
I don't know that I need to lose more weight because the scale said 180.5 this morning. I know I still need to lose excess stored fat because I can see it in places like my upper arms, my abdominal area and hips. I can “pinch an inch” easily in several places such as over my hip bones. As I get closer and closer to being 165 and under, those are the kinds of things that tell me the most about how I'm doing.
As for maintenance, I actually trust my weight to balance itself around what I eat and how active I am. Why? Because it already has and generally has in the past. Any time I added activities such as hiking with my brother, I lost a few pounds and had to eat more. Any time I clearly ate way beyond my needs, I gained a few pounds.
Tracking will continue to be a big part of my life even as I enter maintenance, but more because I like tracking my fitness progress and I like knowing I'm nourishing my body fully while having room to eat for pure pleasure when I so desire.
It's all fine and dandy to speculate. As it is, I'll find out soon enough. I'm getting closer than I think. I know I switched to the 10 to 24 pound team, but I just don't connect that with being only 20.5 pounds away from my original 160 goal.
Seriously … that sounds so close.
Well, it did until I plugged that in with a pound a week loss and saw that it would take until sometime very early next year. (Which is still close, I know. A month or two before my 44th birthday will make it a nice gift to myself.)
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Hehe, okay here we go! Before I list out the goals, I will elaborate on something I mentioned at the end of my last blog: "I realized something about my goal-setting while talking to a personal trainer at the gym yesterday that I'll talk about in my August goals blog."
Talking to the personal trainer was deliberate. The app on my phone I use to track my workouts is called JEFit Pro. When I got it, I made an account so I could upload my data - and over time have filled out a profile. The profile shows as not complete because I haven't done benchmarks.
For a good while I simply ignored that. Then I got curious if I could just fill in a number or do the benchmarks to complete the profile. It took a while, but finally I found some forum comments and discovered what the benchmarks are. The site / app were originally designed by/for body-builders. The benchmarks are specific barbell lifts that give an easy consistent comparison between users. Each is recorded as a single clean lift of the maximum amount of weight one is able to handle with good form - the 1RM (one rep max).
Once I figured out the benchmarks were barbell lifts, I've been mulling over whether I want to do them or not. Leaving that thought in the back of my mind, I initially figured I wouldn't bother. Then as I came up with an idea of a personal training session to learn how to safely do the lifts and to be my spotter I realized I'd already made the decision that I wanted to do them.
Finally about a week ago, I talked to the personal trainer manager (don't remember her actual title) to see if what I had in mind was even feasible. It is, and even though I'm not ready to do this immediately, she made sure to pass word along to one of the trainers who does a lot of work in the free weights area. That trainer made a point to stop and talk to me a few days ago - no cost, just a discussion of what I was looking for, what I was hoping to accomplish with it.
And suddenly in talking to this trainer a little fact about my goal-setting came into clearer focus. My long-term goals always feel so ... incomplete and nebulous, particularly when I'm trying to write them out or make them S.M.A.R.T. My medium-term (seasonal) goals and short-term goals (month / week / day) are far more specific, measurable, etc.
A good example of how vague my long-term goals are is my weight lifting. I love being able to do my 3 x 12 easily and decide to shift to the next weight up. Doing preacher curls with 50 pounds instead of 40, even if I'm not back up to a full 3 x 12, makes me feel like I'm really making progress. (It's a machine, so 50 is with both arms working. Not 100% sure I could curl 25 pounds for 3 x 12, but I can curl a 25 pound dumbbell.)
However, I have no idea how long it will take to get back to 3 x 12 or when I'll shift up to 55 or 60. I have even less idea of what weight will be the tipping point where I can't really go much higher. About the only thing I know is that I don't have any plans to dedicate the time and effort to go for a body-building level. (Not to say I'm the slightest bit worried about building muscle bulk. If I'm genetically pre-disposed to bulk up, cool. If not, cool.)
So I really don't have a way to set S.M.A.R.T. long-term goals. Playing on my whole 7 Habits: Proactivity stuff, there's too much outside of my circle of influence. What I do with my time is in my circle of influence. How my body responds to it is less so. The genetics of muscle gain are not something I can influence or change at all.
Many of my long-term goals are more like visions or general landmarks that keep me pointed in the right direction. I don't know what weight exactly will be my stop and maintain point, but I do know I want to move in the direction of a body at a healthy weight.
All of this came to mind talking to this personal trainer because I remembered some of the questions from the first trainer I worked with. There were points where he just didn't seem to understand me because I couldn't really state specific goals and wasn't in any sort of rush to lose weight - yet my motivation / consistency level obviously exceeds that of others who can tell him clearer goals.
And it's time to get down to business:
== August goals ==
1) Weight stably between 175 and 180 pounds. (And, hey, if I slide all the way down to 175 stably, I won't complain.)
2) Either find an August 5k or sign up for another virtual 5k on SP.
3) Lights out no later than 12:30 pm Sunday to Thursday night. Not aiming for 8 hours of sleep, but I let my bedtime slide out from midnight to past 1:00 am more often than not and that needs to stop.
4) Add cholesterol to the things I track just to see where I'm at.
5) Complete the exercises for the 1st Habit - Be Proactive. Use the 30 day test of Proactivity as my daily measure that I'm thinking of this and doing it - tracked as an Other Goal.
Yes, I know the last time I did a sleep one I outright rebelled against myself. Unfortunately, I never stopped the stupid rebellion and let myself get into the habit of gaming later or reading past the time I turn the light off since the Kindle Fire is backlit. I'm tired already, have been for over half an hour now, and yet I'd keep pushing. So this has to happen and I know it.
Let's ROCK August!
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
July started off with me unable to decide on more goals than my regular "next 5 pound range" and a re-do of one of June's goals. How did that go? *sputter sputter choke*
(( Advisory in advance - I may sound like I'm self-flaggelating here or going through a guilt trip or something. Really, I'm not. I am irked, yes, but mostly laughing at my own humanity. ))
== July goals ==
1) Weight stably at or below 180 pounds.
No one to "blame" but myself on this one. I let my daily calories creep up closer and closer to the max, then took advantage of the new fitness tracker counting calorie burn for ST, then had one day way over, then started spooning peanut butter as a snack rather than only having it on sandwiches and celery.
Now, it's not all THAT bad. I did see 181 on the scale yesterday and 184 was my new low at the end of June, so in spite of stupid and sloppy eating habits, all I really did was slow myself down. I'm sure I'll be stably below 180 by the end of August - and maybe even be peeking at 175.
2) Complete the exercises for the 1st Habit - Be Proactive.
I thought about this once about mid-month and again once yesterday. That's not going to get me through the actions. Obviously I'm not being very proactive about being proactive.
However, with two full months of brushing, flossing and rinsing every night - my consistency in that habit is pretty set. I'm planning to use that same Other Goal I'm tracking of doing one thing consistently every day to pencil in and DO actions related to this. So it's getting repeated for August and tracked.
The worst part about July is I started justifying stuff to myself. There were more than a few nights when I would wait until midnight to eat something and record it on the next day. Yes, I tracked it. But I was rolling numbers forward as if my body wasn't actually getting the calories when it got them. It didn't help that the scale "cooperated" with my deceptions, even dropping half a pound sometimes when I overate the night before. Natural fluctuations up and down, but once I slid into self-deception, I played it off like proof I was doing fine.
Until I came home today and ate 4 cookies instead of 1 before I had my protein smoothie made. When I went to track, I honestly thought about putting 2 cookies today and 2 tomorrow ... or some other number game. I was already not happy with my peanut butter and spoon habit reappearing these last few weeks, but this was the breaking point.
Thankfully I came to my senses.
There's no lying to our body. Doesn't matter if I convince my brain that I ate only 2200 calories today. If I eat 4000 calories today, then my body is busy digesting and processing 4000 calories. The body doesn't listen to my lies and self-deceptions at all.
So I'm done with it. If I eat it before I go to sleep, it gets tracked that day. No fudging, no splitting, no putting it off to the next day to make my numbers look better to me.
I'm done with sliding closer and closer to the top of my calorie range with excuses about how I'm burning more calories in my workouts. (Sure, but not 100 a day more or I'd need to update my fitness tracker.)
I saw 183 for the first time on the 7th ... then was up and down and up and down until the 27th. A mini 20-day "plateau" during which my average calories in was enough to take me to a maintenance level. Good job body - you got maintenance level calories and you maintained.
And it ~IS~ good. Why? Because it means that as I bid farewell to July and reaffirm my decision to stay below the top of a calorie range intended for losing about a pound a week, I'll be right back on track.
Goodbye July! Hasta la vista! Mental vacation is over.
Moving on - and this time literally - this evening after work I headed out for the Los Gatos Creek Trail. I'd plotted my path out on Google Maps to find a "starting point" that would give me a full 5k that I could time (3.12 miles) for the SparkPeople Summer Fun Run Virtual 5k. I changed into my workout clothes at work and set out with everything in a backpack out of my way (around 5 pounds worth on my back).
I'm definitely happy with my time of 45:10.
It's a little oddly broken up because the first section isn't really marked for distance, so my first "lap break" was where a 2 mile section clearly marked by 1/4 mile marks started. There's some rounding of 1/100ths of a second in there, so I don't know if it all adds up exactly.
Approx. 1.12 miles = 16
.25 miles = 3:36
.25 miles = 3:36
.25 miles = 3:36
.25 miles = 3:56 (small hill)
.25 miles = 3:40
.25 miles = 3:36
.25 miles = 3:30
.25 miles = 3:31
I wasn't horribly out of breath, but I can certainly feel it in my glutes. On top of the timed portion, I walked about a mile from work to my starting point and a bit more than half a mile (17 mile/minute pace) to cool down and another 3/4 mile from there to the train home after stretching fully.
I did wear my new insoles and shoes. It felt very cushioned and I loved the soft gentle rolling motion I was able to maintain throughout - and my foot feels fine. \o/ Yay!
On that burst of momentum, time to start planning August's goals. Given that mid-September will be my 1-year anniversary of actively using SparkPeople - with actual Spark streaks for logging in and water and something else all over 300 days now - I want to make sure I lead into it well.
I realized something about my goal-setting while talking to a personal trainer at the gym yesterday that I'll talk about in my August goals blog.
So, how did YOUR July go?
Who else is doing or has already done the virtual walk?
Sunday, July 29, 2012
I'm glad, very glad, I did this.
Not only did I go to get new shoes, but I decided to use a different running store. The last time I got shoes, it was replacing worn out ones. The rep didn't do any of the checking to see stride or how my weight was distributed on them or anything. He just looked at what I got last time, brought out another pair of those along with a couple similar shoes, and the only change was moving up a size.
The store I went to this time does a whole series of questions and tests. We got to look at a 3D image of where my weight is pressing down on my foot. I have a very high arch. I already knew that, but looking at the image, even the outside of my foot doesn't make contact when I'm standing. There's a lot of weight on my heel and then moderate weight on the ball, particularly toward the outside.
Perhaps in part because of compensating for my plantar fascii, the highest pressure points were centered in my right heel. And that's with me trying to stand as even as possible - knowing I might be tilting right.
Walking (and having it video-taped to view the position of my feet and ankle) was interesting. My right foot points slightly outward and it reminded me of my teen years. My step-mother made a fuss about my feet pointing outward a little and made me practice aligning my feet forward. By the time I was in 9th or 10th grade, that was automatic but I hated P.E. because running or jogging hurt my knees. I wonder how much of that was because it wasn't my natural stride.
Then I managed to badly sprain my right ankle around the time our final for 10th grade P.E. was coming up - running a mile. I got my first F on that final because, in spite of a Dr.'s note, I was told to walk/run or fail ... and STILL couldn't cross the finish line in time to avoid a fail on the final. Thankfully the rest of semester was good, so he couldn't drag my grade TOO low, but grrrrr. The ankle remained touchy until I was ice-skating regularly after graduating and moving out, which forced it to toughen up some.
The good thing is that my ankles in the video were nice and stable - they don't roll in or out. Other than my right toes pointing slightly out, I have a nice even stride. (I must say it is REALLY weird walking on a treadmill in socks though.)
One of the things I then paid for was custom insoles. They have this whole system there to make them. I honestly expect these to make a HUGE difference. My left foot is a full half-size smaller than my right foot. I'd begun to suspect that part of why I have issues only with my left foot originates with the arch being positioned wrong for the smaller foot.
WOW, what a difference. She had me try several shoes and the first couple pairs were tried with their default insoles. Then she put in the custom ones. I seriously could FEEL the support difference for my left foot. I have high hopes for this. I can even swap these insoles into my work shoes which has me excited. (Well, not the cute heels - just the flats - but still.)
So I'm very pleased and looking forward to wearing these.
I still need a second pair for weights and elliptical. Running shoes aren't best suited to that. But for now, these will do.
And next week I'm spoiling my DDa. She happened to mention that she has been running in the morning. Her shoes were Vans - flat "skater" shoes. They were two years old, a hole wearing through the sole of one, and the sole of the other coming free of the bottom of the shoe. Yeesh. So I got her replacement shoes for those - regular wear. We would have been getting her shoes today, but she had a camp with her youth choir group. Next weekend we'll be getting her tested and fitted.
Thankfully, she's young and somewhat petite - but something she said makes me think she supinates as she walks / runs. (She said her normal stride rolls along the outside of her foot.) I know she has high arches like me. All of which makes me worry that she could be damaging herself longer-term without proper shoes. So being the mommy I am, she's getting spoiled.
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