Monday, February 20, 2012
A new low weight, that is. On Saturday I weighed in at 252.1, the lowest since starting to lose with SparkPeople. Sweet...hopefully I've broken through this months-long plateau. I was happy to have a nice loss this week, but even if I hadn't, I had an awesome week.
I continued to avoid wheat and have felt pretty good, but I made Ethiopian food (a curried lentil dish) at home, including eating it with Injera bread from the store. Injera is traditionally made with the gluten-free grain teff, yet I felt bloated after eating it (which usually doesn't happen). Sure enough, the ingredient list included wheat flour. Maybe I will get some teff flour and try making my own Injera. Overall, though, my diet has been much lower in grains while still getting a reasonable amount of carbs.
I had a calorie and sodium bomb day on Valentine's Day, but it was totally worth it. Good food, good company. I went to a movie with a friend ("Journey 2: The Mysterious Island"--don't judge me, I'm in love with The Rock) where we shared popcorn and I had Diet Coke (which I still consider to be junk), and we also shared a dark chocolate bar. Later, I ordered gluten-free pizza and had a piece of flourless chocolate cake. Nothing like curling up with your sweetie and sharing some good food. Although I ate foods I don't eat regularly any more, I did not stuff myself. There are some occasions where the food really DOES make it better and more fun, and I'm glad that I am approaching having the balance to have fun with food without being neurotic about it.
I had a goal to get to the gym at least 3 times and I went on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I find going to martial arts training 3 days a week to be a happy medium--it's enough to get in some solid training, and enough to avoid overtraining. I've also had difficulty getting in strength training and other cross-training, so I am backing off a little bit on gym time so I can balance the martial arts training with other forms of exercise. I'm not exactly sure what happened, but I did feel very "fit" last week. More than one of the guys at the gym commented that I am getting to be in great shape. Now, this is bearing in mind that my weight has been stagnant for the past 3 months or so, showing that the adaptations from my consistent exercise are paying off.
I haven't been working on practicing meditation like I would like to, but I have been keeping many of the principles in mind throughout the day. The main mantra I keep with me is actually a word, and that is "equanimity." Equanimity is having a lack of judgement and maintaining composure. Many of us who have struggled with emotional eating are familiar with the impulsive feeling that comes before a binge, the desire for instant gratification overtaking the importance of our health goals. Equanimity allows me to acknowledge a feeling without having an emotional reaction to it, and being able to step away and evaluate what I should do. We all know that taking a deep breath helps us relax, and meditation teaches why this is and how to hone in on that power. These are the main principles I have taken from the book "Enough!: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Release from Addictive Patterns" by Chonyi Taylor. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is trying to set new health goals as it provides healthy methods for changing habits, primarily through meditation. It isn't enough to have a can-do attitude to set permanent changes in ourselves, as I have learned through my repeated attempts at losing weight and fighting binge eating; meditation is providing a way for me to permanently change my mindset.
I would never say that I plan on conquering emotional eating as that would be unrealistic. However, I reflect over the past 7-8 years and how I have made deep-seated changes. I have always been heavy, but I used to be a smoking-2-packs-a-day, sedentary, junk-food eating depressed overweight person to being a martial arts-wielding, strong, tofu-snarfing, drooling-over-carrots overweight woman with a degree in exercise science. The changes came slowly, and will continue to build up slowly. As I said last week, patience has been my greatest lesson throughout the past several years. With patience, I am able to forgive myself for the wrongs I have done to myself and make myself better.
As I reflect more on what I have learned, I realize that my life keeps getting better and better. It isn't that I have some unrealistic expectation that nothing bad will ever happen to me or that I won't face significant challenges, but I now have the experiences and greater wisdom to face any challenges. There was a great article in "Parade" magazine in this Sunday's paper about a woman's life story as told by her face. Our face shares our experiences with the world, both the good times and bad. I wonder what stories my face has yet to tell:
Dorky expression or not, this is the face of a very wise person. (Joking around with a friend (SP user KVARNLOV) this past New Year's Eve)
"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
ERLYWA shared a blog written by MICLWILDE about enjoying food guilt-free. He made the most excellent point that ALL foods should be guilt-free. Even when foods are not enjoyed in moderation, there is no point in associating guilt with the food and causing emotional stress because of it. Just a great blog.
Here it is:
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
Last Tuesday, for the first time ever, I felt completely relaxed during my lesson with Jeff. I guess this tells you how long it can take me to get comfortable with a new situation, given that I started taking lessons last June. That is 8 months of feeling incredibly uncomfortable--and continuing to show up anyways. It is strange how we can tolerate something unpleasant for an extended period of time as long as we know, whether consciously or unconsciously, that it will get better and be good for us in the long run.
I had been in a bit of a funk for a few weeks, and needless to say, skipping out on the gym was not helping. Out of nowhere I had gotten this feeling that I didn't belong there and so I seriously slacked off on going. Last week, I decided to stop wallowing in the negative and try to focus more on the positive. GEMINIAN1 had commented on my blog last week that she tries to stay realistic and how the word "negative" can mean different things to different people. I totally agree with her on being realistic, and I usually am a reasonable person who can objectively observe positive and negative aspects. But over the past several weeks, I've been lying to myself with negative thoughts, like that I will never succeed and that people don't like me. These negative thoughts were feeding into each other and the thoughts continued to get further from the truth.
I knew there was only 1 thing that would truly and effectively pull me out of the funk, and that was to get my butt to the gym. Exercise aside, I missed my gym buddies and trainers. I went last Monday and of course my trainer Nate gave me crap about missing a lot. I can't really define what my problem was, but I still didn't feel very relaxed being there. I reverted to feeling fat and awkward, like I shouldn't be there working out with all those fit guys. Luckily, there were some of my favorite guys at Jiu Jitsu that day. I was getting ready to roll with one of the guys who I hadn't seen in a while, and he said, "I heard you're getting good!" I asked who said that, if it was Bob, my Jiu Jitsu BFF, who compliments everything I do regardless of how good it actually is (kind of like my mother). He shrugged and said, "I don't know...everybody's been saying that."
Well, if I needed a confidence boost, there it was.
Nate also asked me if I was planning to compete in the next Submission Hunt, which is a large grappling tournament in the Twin Cities. I asked him when the next one is, and it is about 5 months away. So, regardless of how much weight I lose by then (although I would be THRILLED to lose about 40 pounds by the competition), I plan on competing and am going to train hardcore accordingly. No more disappearing from the gym. Whatever hesitation was inside of me needs to stay gone, and so far, my excitement for going to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai is back.
I've also had a revelation with my diet. SMILINGTREE had mentioned a while back that she was going to try to eliminate wheat from her diet, and it got me thinking at that time. I had always associated wheat sensitivity with digestive problems, which I did not feel like I had, so I never thought I might have a problem with wheat. However, the scale has been absolutely stagnant over the past few months. Despite my mixed martial arts workouts and strength training and eating within my calorie range, the scale has not budged. I have been having long plateaus throughout this journey. I am truly an advocate of slow weight loss, but there is a point where even the best of us get pretty frustrated.
I started to think about how I was eating when I lost weight before (and felt GREAT), and it was while I was on the old Core plan from WeightWatchers. The Core plan focused on whole foods. Just by the way the Core plan was set up, I was eating virtually no flour or wheat products (pasta, breads, etc.), but lots of fruits, veggies, oatmeal, legumes, brown rice, and tofu as staples. I lost weight fairly easily and felt very energetic. Reflecting on my current food tracker, I had been eating some sort of bread and/or pasta product almost every day. Even though I was eating good bread (Ezekiel) and having reasonable portions of pasta, I now think I have a sensitivity to wheat. Last week, I went back to eating the way I had on the Core plan, and I lost 4 pounds. I saw my waistline visibly shrink as the bloating went away. I must have been retaining a ton of water. I have also had a very persistent skin rash that is now clearing. In any case, I am going to continue to avoid wheat and see if that keeps my weight loss going. I don't think cutting out wheat is a magic bullet for weight loss, but I suppose if someone has bloating and water retention from being sensitive to it, it could explain the unwavering number on the scale.
I am also going back to cutting out dairy completely. Dairy was not a staple in my daily diet like wheat products, but I still feel like crap if I eat cheese (the only dairy product I typically consume). I have been wanting to get back to eating vegan again, and the occasional pizza or cheesy pasta dish are the only dairy products I would eat.
It's amazing how little things, like a supposedly healthy grain, can be so hard to pinpoint as a problem. This process is truly nonlinear. ERLYWA had an awesome picture in her blog that so perfectly sums up this journey, I just had to steal it as a reminder to myself.
Image from http://healthesolutions.com/2011/10/03/wha
I've come to realize that I have become the person I was seeking to be by losing weight. I certainly haven't gone in a straight line to get to this point as it has taken several years to pinpoint so many things. I have found that the most effective tool I have learned to utilize is not diet or exercise--but patience. Patience has given me a way to keep things in perspective and to step back and find the solution to problems (because the solutions are there). Patience has lead to boldness that pushes me through uncomfortable situations. After sticking it out for a long time, I'm truly gettin' good now.
"Because in the end, being a bad-ass isnít about beating others Ė itís about testing yourself, and in the process, finding yourself."
ĖLeo Babauta (Thanks to SKYWATCHERS for the quote)
Monday, February 13, 2012
I was very excited to be offered to receive the new 28 Day Bootcamp DVD with Coach Nicole. She is trainer who is very positive without being over-the-top chipper, which is extremely important to me in workout videos. Sure enough, the Bootcamp DVD follows suit and she is encouraging and very pleasant to watch and listen to. There are several workout options to choose from, including cardio and toning (and 1 in combination), with shorter and longer options. She has good modifications for various levels, with 2 exercisers with her in the video. Coach Nicole stresses the importance of good form and gives form pointers on the exercises, which is great because some of the moves are pretty challenging. The timer at the bottom of the screen shows the time left in the segment, which is very handy for having to know how much energy to conserve and gives that mental push to get through challenging exercises.
One of my favorite features about this DVD is the unique clickable calendar. The calendar feature makes it easy to navigate through a month-long plan and provides several premix options to use as stand-alone workouts in the future. Having preset workouts makes the program more interesting and also takes the brain work out of workout planning. The workouts go from being shorter to longer, and some are cardio only, toning circuit only, and some combine both. I think this is perfect for beginners, who may be especially prone to getting bored by doing the same workout every day and may feel overwhelmed by starting an exercise program. Major kudos for the clickable calendar!
While the Bootcamp DVD is great for beginners, I don't think the exercise intervals are long or intense enough for an intermediate or advanced exerciser. An intermediate exerciser may find the program useful to get some fresh ideas for exercises to incorporate into training circuits, though. This program is most appropriate for beginner to advanced beginners and will help build muscle endurance. Some of the moves require a bit of coordination, so I would recommend that a beginner take their time getting acquainted with the moves. Once familiar with the moves, then people can really push themselves through the intervals. Beginners have very fast exercise adaptations, meaning that doing anything new will cause them to progress, but people will eventually want to incorporate heavy-weight strength training into their program. The Bootcamp DVDs can certainly be used for cardio at any point in someone's program, especially if very light weights are used.
Overall, I would recommend the Bootcamp DVD for beginners to advanced beginners who are looking for a solid introduction to circuit training. Advanced people may want to consider wearing weighted gloves (0.5-1 pound) to up the intensity. Of course, Coach Nicole's refreshing personality and approachability makes this a great first workout video for people, and will hopefully bring them over to SparkPeople if they haven't checked it out already. Most people are probably aware, but the DVD can be purchased at Target, and doing so earns major SparkPointage.
*I received the Bootcamp DVD free of charge from SparkPeople, and have not been reimbursed in any way for this review.
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