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2014.2: The Fitness Reset

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For someone who was never athletic as a child or as a teenager, I sure do spend a lot of time doing athletic stuff as an adult. A few months ago, I was thinking about the sports/fitness stuff I do and ranked it in order of preference:
1. Golf. No really, I love to golf. But I live in Michigan and our season is basically five months long. Also, I can't afford to golf more than once a week.
2. Weight-lifting. I find lifting weights and other strength training to be very satisfying. For one thing, I can actually feel that I'm getting stronger. For another, I can see results. My abs may be covered with a layer of fat, but my biceps and triceps are looking pretty awesome. I work my arms, legs and abs out equally; ergo, I know I've got muscles hiding out under my belly fat. And also, my booty is FABULOUS!
3. Running. It may be my primary exercise of choice and the one I end up spending the most time, effort and money pursuing, but it's not my favorite. I don't actually love running that much. However, I do love challenging myself, crossing finish lines, and getting finisher's medals. In that way, running is very satisfying. Also, it doesn't take long for me to reach the border of "running hurts my knees" to "running makes me lose weight and strengthens my muscles, so it makes my knees hurt less."
4. Yoga. I was taking yoga twice a week and telling myself that I loved it. I don't love yoga. I love going to yoga class and being a person who goes to yoga class. I loved that my back became more flexible. I love child's pose. But most of yoga is excruciatingly painful for me and I decided to give it up to focus on exercise I do like.

My golf season is over, sadly. I'm playing one last time this weekend, then putting my clubs away for the winter. *sniff*

Strength training and circuit-training are ramping up big time. I have been meeting with a personal trainer one-on-one for several years one morning per week. I love it, but it might have been getting a little stale. Last week, I started a class called "Fit At Any Size" at a local sports training facility (the kind where pro athletes train). It meets twice a week and we do a lot of different exercises. I am one of the more fit people in the class. I am both smaller and younger than the majority of the other people in the class. But despite this, it's no cakewalk for me. Every exercise we do makes me work hard. I love it! And since I'm doing a lot of the non-lifting strength exercises in the class, my trainer has started focusing more on lifting weights, which is a welcome change! I want to deadlift!

I finished the Disneyland Half Marathon on August 31 and was in the final 250 finishers. I first did a half three years ago (2011) and had a time of 3:31. My second was in 2013 and I finished in 2:42. This time, I had 3:55. I'm happy that I finished, but I'm tired of getting slower. I will be working on improving the 3:55 in November during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. After that, first I want to get every one of those 24 minutes back; then I want to work on a sub-three hour half marathon. Not at Disney, because Disney travel is killing my budget. But we have so many cool half marathons in Michigan, and I will keep entering. I gained most of my weight back between the first half and the second half. I also pretty much stopped running. Not a coincidence.

As far as yoga is concerned? Nope. Not for me.

So, that leaves me with:
Sunday: rest (or long run if not on Saturday)
Monday: weekday short run
Tuesday: FAAS class
Wednesday: strength training with Tom/weekday short run
Thursday: FAAS class
Friday: rest
Saturday: long run (unless alternate plans are made)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FOXXYROXXYD 9/30/2014 11:16PM

    Again - Brilliant! You got me thinking because I need to change things up badly. More on that later! Way to get yourself back on track!!

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MOJO0607 9/24/2014 10:23AM

    I've never really thought about thinking about what exercise I like or don't like. I think it is a great way to look into why there are times I am great on FM's and other times it is like pulling teeth to get them in. Maybe if I focused on the things I actually enjoy doing, I would be more apt to do them. I was born in Michigan (Muskegon) but moved to Florida when I was just 3 years old, so all my Michigan memories tie around family vacations to visit my Mom's family that all lived up there. I always took it for granted that Disney was in my backyard, so it was hard for me to understand why my cousins were so shocked we went several times a year.

It sounds like you have a solid plan underway to keep active and to move forward, despite the gain, and that is more than half the battle. Best wishes on your continued journey to better overall health!

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LILYBELLE8 9/23/2014 2:36PM

    You've got some fine choices there ... good luck!! And I'm right there with you about Yoga ... it does wonders for some people, but apparently I'm not one of them. For my strength training these days, I'm lifting a new 8 pound granddaughter as often as I can. The best exercise I've ever done!! emoticon

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GOLFGMA 9/22/2014 6:46AM


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PRAIRIECROCUS 9/17/2014 6:30PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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2014.2: The Food Reset

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

By now, I've tried so many different kinds of things to lose weight that I definitely know what works best for me and my annoying tendency to get very excited about a new way of eating for about two weeks before deciding it's too much work. (It's probably not a coincidence that my attempt at "Vegan Before 6" in spring 2013 was followed almost exactly a year later by my attempt at going Primal.)

What I need my nutrition plan to be:
- Balanced with a lot of different kinds of foods.
- But not so varied that I have to put a lot of effort into it.
- Interesting without being too exotic.
- No feeling of deprivation (I don't want to feel like I'm on a diet).
- Consistent.

If I had to pick out one ring to rule them all, I would go with easy. I work all day. I spend at least an hour in the car every day. I have choir, fitness classes and running filling up my post-work schedule. I have to find time for things I don't want to do, like cleaning and laundry. And on top of that, I have a lot of social engagements. Planning menus, shopping for groceries, and preparing food is just not something I often have time for.

So what's the solution? Eat almost exactly the same every day that I don't have social food. I know that sounds horrible to a lot of people, but honestly, I don't get bored of good tasting food and there's something very appealing about putting it all on autopilot. There are a lot of advocates of "uniform eating" or "automatic eating" because it takes the guess work out of portion control and it takes emotion out of eating. If you don't spend a lot of time thinking about food, you don't end up obsessing about food. It's actually pretty common for people in non-Western cultures to eat with very little variety.

I have come up with a daily menu that works for me, based on the foods I like and my nutrition needs. I feel so confident in these choices that I have made groupings in the SparkPeople nutrition tracker called "Lunch salad," "Standard dinner, "Usual snack," and "Mega fruit power smoothie" (a name that pre-dates this plan, otherwise it might be "Breakfast smoothie you always eat"). Confession time: I love the results of tracking food; but I HATE actually doing it!! I lost quite a bit of weight a few years ago by tracking regularly, but I spent so much time entering food that I got fatigued by the whole thing. So what I've done here is make groupings of every variant within the meal, with the plan to remove items not actually consumed. It's a lot easier to hit that little X icon than to enter every little food I eat.

For breakfast, I love the smoothie recipe I came up with this summer. It has protein, fruit, and healthy fat.

For lunch, a big salad is a great, easy way to get vegetables and protein. My recipe has a few cups of leafy greens, a cup of chopped vegetables, protein, cheese and a light dressing. This is where deleting variants comes into play. The protein is leftover from dinner the previous night, so it may be chicken or it may be shrimp. The vegetables may be the lovely Trader Joe's Healthy 8, or they may be broccoli slaw (if I can't get to TJ's to shop).

For dinner, the variant is in the protein, starch and vegetable. So far, my choices for entree are "chicken or shrimp?" Those are easy to prepare and I can start them while working on other parts of that meal or the next day's lunch. The starch is either brown rice or a small baked sweet potato. The vegetable is pretty much any non-starchy vegetable. Because fat is satiating and "diets" fail, my dinner also includes a tablsepoon of ghee drizzled over the food, a square of good dark chocolate and a glass of red wine.

After work, I take a fitness class two days a week and run two days a week, so I definitely need a boost in the afternoon. Every other day, I spread two tablespoons of peanut butter, spread it over both halves of a bagel, sandwich it and then cut it in half. One action makes two days worth of snacks. I also have a container of plain, non-fat Fage Greek yogurt as a morning snack.

So that's that. Meal planning done. Evening meal prep takes about 20 minutes total for lunch, dinner and snacks. Breakfast takes about five minutes in the morning. Entering foods in the tracker takes about a minute.

To make things even easier, I have designated measuring spoons and cups for meal prep. I use the same measuring spoons for specific foods every day and clean them as soon as I'm done using them. I have even marked a 3 tablespoon line on my salad dressing container and put a piece of painter's tape on a wine glass at the 6 ounce mark.

And I know there are some people who are probably looking at those screengrabs and thinking, "That's it? That's all you're going to eat, ever?" Well, no. Remember how I said I have a lot of social engagements? Well, a lot of those revolve around food, so my plan includes 3-4 unplanned meals. It's most likely going to be Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and/or dinner, and Sunday brunch. If I have a social meal during the week, one of my weekend free-range meals gets swapped for a planned meal. And I'm not going to lie- a lot of those meals are going to be the kind of diet-derailing meals that your momma warned you about. It works out to be about 80% planned, healthy/20% unplanned, no-holds-barred each week. 80/20 is a lot better than what I'm doing now, believe me.

And this plan may only be for the next 50 days. I am making myself stick to it until the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, after which I will re-evaluate and decide whether I can keep doing this long-term. Lots of people do, and I have a lot more weight to lose than would come off in 50 days. I'm hoping that after a certain amount of time, it just becomes second nature.

Hopefully, this plan will become a successful case of "work smarter, not harder."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FOXXYROXXYD 9/30/2014 11:12PM

    This is brilliant! I may steal it!

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GOLFGMA 9/23/2014 9:04AM

    Looks wonderful and a great way to stay healthy and fit for your 5K. emoticon

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BECOMESTRONGER 9/18/2014 12:13AM

    I'm the same. I could eat the same meals ever day and never grow bored of it. I like simple and I like easy. I think this is a great plan. emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 9/17/2014 5:19PM

    Good plan. And some really good foods to eat! emoticon emoticon

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2014.1: The background

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

So, I keep trying this thing, and honestly I AM a little discouraged with myself for not being able to stick with it, but also encouraged because I keep trying. Anyway, I've somehow let myself get within 10 pounds of my highest weight and that is NOT okay with me. I've had a lot of stuff happen this year and almost none of it was good. At least in the first six months of the year. My laundry list of problems:
- I had five people I really cared about die in the first six months of the year. 2014 became "the year that everyone died." I know there's a few months left, and I'm really hoping that trend is over.
- My cat got sick and I had to keep taking her to the vet (lot of stress and money spent on that).
- Sick cat meant that I contracted a "professional pet sitter" for half hour daily visits when I was on vacation instead of asking my awesome neighbor. The professional pet sitter proceeded to eat my food, sleep in my bed, use my shower, drink $250-300 worth of alcoholic beverages (including a $50 of tequila, a $50 bottle of rum, and a bottle of mead that was only made in 2013). She then left my house with the door wide open for over 24 hours. Ugh.
- Sprained my ankle.
- Broke my car.
- Took my best friend's grief and stress on as my own while his wife was in hospice.

It all added up to depression, which I tried to hide pretty aggressively. My immediate family and close friends knew what was up, but I put on that happy face for everyone else. For me, depression leads to eating my feelings and really not wanting to exercise much. When I'm feeling impatient, anxious and sad, the last thing I want to do is eat healthy food and put the effort into working out. I did the minimum to get by for exercise and I ate a hell of a lot of fast food.

Oh, and did I mention that I was supposed to be training for the Disneyland Half Marathon during all that? I went into it seriously undertrained and overweight. Also, that sprained ankle never actually healed and I had a series of mishaps during my weekend runs (including a sports bra left at home while visiting a remote part of MI, a run-in with a serial flasher, and a huge blister two weeks before the race). I went into the half marathon believing that I would not finish.

I did finish the race, even if fewer than 250 people out of 15+K followed me across that finish line. I actually ended up having a pretty great experience (if painful and very, very difficult). It's amazing how much better I felt after the race. I had no idea how much stress I was putting on myself over it.

A typical picture of me in June:

A picture of me last weekend:

Maybe it's not as obvious as I think it is, but I see happier eyes and a more natural smile. It's nice to see it again.

So now I have a little over 50 days before I head to Walt Disney World for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. My cousin/best friend is going with me and the race is the day after we get there. It should be a great time. I feel like I'm finally back on track and feeling more like myself. That's a really great feeling and it sets me up well to take a different approach to food and exercise than I've been doing lately.

I'm going to post about new approach in a different post.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FOXXYROXXYD 9/30/2014 11:09PM

    What a year - so sorry to hear all that but, you know what? You're back at it and you know what else? YOU are FREAKIN' AWESOME and that's why you are going to rock the Disney Half Marathon.

You look great - I've missed your face!

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GOLFGMA 9/26/2014 9:14AM

    Hoping all is better now.

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GOLFGMA 9/19/2014 3:02PM

    Love the last photo and you deserve to loo9k and feel happier. Glad things are looking up for you and have a great time at Disney marathon! emoticon

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BECOMESTRONGER 9/18/2014 12:18AM

    Holy crap! You've been through quite a bit this year. But you've survived and now you can move on to a brighter, healthier future.

The second picture is a genuine happy smile on that face.

You can conquer the rest of the year with ease.

And that race? You'll have a blast.

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NUTSNUTSGETEM 9/17/2014 3:13PM

    Except for your accomplishment on the half which is friggin unbelievable, I vote the first 8 months and 17 days as a pass for you. You have too much blah stuff happen.

But, seriously, the last 250 of a 15,000 person race is in the first 15,000 of the tens of millions of people who would never even consider a half marathon. You're awesome, and from those smiling eyes, you know it.

Don't go hurting that ankle any more. But, look at that last half as just a training event for the Wine and Dine Half.

Look how prepared you are!!!!

Good luck!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 9/17/2014 3:03PM

    Definitely a much happier look! Almost radiant. Keep it up. emoticon

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That was then

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

I just re-wrote everything on my Spark page. It's been so long since I regularly visited/used SP that it seemed stupid to pretend that I've been continuously working on this for the past three years. I haven't. There are huge holes between my visits. So I think I should treat it like I'm starting over completely.

But because I'm a total packrat and believe that we can learn from the past, even if we should never live there, I saved everything that was on my Spark page and I'm posting it here for posterity. I'm contradictory like that.

July 16, 2012: Take 27!

January 17, 2012: So much for being "through with this nonsense." It's time for a do-over.

July 18, 2011: I'm through with this nonsense.

January 5, 2011: Last year was great, but this year is *my* year, doggone it! I'm turning 40 in a matter of weeks and I feel challenged, exhilarated, and to use my favorite phrase, freakin' awesome! I'm determined to hold on to that feeling for the long haul.

January 11, 2010: It seems the older I get, the more difficult everything is, physically. I have an obese parent and I've seen that it's only going to get harder. The bottom line is that I don't want to be fat and old. Now one part of that is not avoidable (at least in any desirable way), but the other is. Now, I certainly don't want to imply that 40 is old. I don't feel old. But 40 seems to be a handy cut-off between "young" and "things hurt more than they did when I was young." And 40 is approaching pretty rapidly.

Something made me think that running would be an excellent way to go. Maybe it was people I know. Maybe it was an old crush. I don't know. But shortly after arriving at that conclusion, I discovered that my favorite place (Walt Disney World) hosts a 1/2 marathon the weekend before my birthday. So I decided that was the goal: I'd celebrate my 40th birthday by running the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Procrastination has reared its ugly head, so I decided I needed Spark People. I hope accountability is the key.

~ Update~
July 2012
I got within 25 pounds of my goal weight and went off the rails a bit. Now I'm back and focused on losing weight for life, not for a specific date or event. I gained back 30 pounds of the 40 I lost, and I'm working hard to get back down to my lowest weight and then keep going!

My Goals:
Jan. 2010
I'd like to be at a healthy weight by my 40th birthday, March 15, 2011. I plan to celebrate that birthday by running the Disney Princess Half Marathon.
Goals and rewards:
~15 pounds lost - new coat (done!)
~ 31 pounds lost ("One-derland") - iPod Nano (DONE!!)
~ 45 pounds lost - ??
~ 60 pounds lost - ??
~ 70 pounds lost - party!

My Program:
I'm tracking everything I eat and following the nutrition guidelines on Spark People My Nutrition. I'm using the beginning running program found in Jeff Galloway's "Half Marathon: You Can Do It" book.

Personal Information:
I'm originally from a rural area in mid-Michigan, but now I live in a pretty bustling suburb of Detroit. I've never been married and I have no kids, but I do have a cat who I dote on. I visit Walt Disney World about once a year, often with a group who've dubbed themselves "the Mousejunkies." In fact, one of us (Bill Burke) wrote a book about WDW travel with that same name and asked us to contribute. It was published in June 2009 and is one of the most popular WDW travel guides on

Other Information:
I like golf, cheese and rock n' roll, baby!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 3/13/2013 8:37AM

    Welcome back and wishing you a most successful journey on this amazing trip to a healthier body! emoticon

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    Welcome back - I too am ready for a re-sparking.

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Mixed up bag of weekend-y-ness

Monday, July 23, 2012

I don't have to pretend that's a real word, because I put in hyphens. (That's my spellcheck rule toward adding to the English language. Incidentally, this means spellcheck isn't a real word.)

What I did this weekend:
- I made my bed for the first non-"company is coming" time in years. Other than those few times that I wanted to see the effect of my bedding and throw pillows. But those don't count. Because that's not "I just woke up and now it's time to make my bed." It's more, "How would my room look if someone else lived here?" And I have made my bed three mornings in a row, so this could be sustainable.

- I sorted out some old magazines, ripped out some pages I wanted to keep, and designated about 20 magazines as "to recycle." I still have a huge stack of mags, but I'm going to sort them out a little bit at a time.

- I reduced the size of the mountain of stuff on my coffee table and completely removed all the clutter that was lurking under my coffee table. Eventually, I plan to have a "magazine photo shoot" sort of look to my coffee table. But with the addition of my netbook computer, because the only time that gets put away or turned off is when I'm taking it out of my house, usually hundreds of miles away.

- Made a jewelry station from a frame, some fabric, a piece of foam core board, a few pins, a piece of wire and a couple of cup hooks. It looks very nice in my newly fabulous bedroom (the one with the neatly made bed).

- Hit the farmer's market, Supermarket Sweep-style (check it- I hit three stands in a good sized crowd and was in and out in under 10 minutes), and bought beans, peaches, tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, focaccia, and a jar of jam.

- Sang in the choir at my church, then went out for lunch with the other choir members.

- Took a brief nap and cuddled with my cat.

- Did all of the dishes, cleaned the counters, washed the cabinet doors and backsplash and shined the sink (and got Barkeeper's Friend in my eye while wearing a new-that-morning pair of contact lenses, which are now $30 shrinky-dinks in my kitchen garbage). Afterward, I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed all of the corners and under-toe kick parts of the kitchen floor, before taking a Swiffer Wet Jet to it.

In between, I watched a lot of TNT shows.

Here's what I didn't do this weekend:
- Eat right.

- Exercise.

So... I feel really good about all the cleaning. I'm a horrible housekeeper. I always have been and I've never been able to establish good housekeeping habits. I've been following an (extremely foul languaged) blog that is all about inspiring you to take care of your home in the least amount of time possible (using really bad words). The tagline- which strangely uses appropriate for all ages language- is “Terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes.” Hey! That's ME!! I've read a lot of blogs about house cleaning and organization and this is the first one that hasn't made me feel completely inadequate and distressingly single and child-free, and as if I'm living in a different system of time than people who have hours to devote to keeping their home clean and their family fed. Thinking in traditional gender roles, in my house, I'm the mom, the dad and the kid. And at the end of the day, after bringing home the bacon, I don't feel like frying it up in a pan (and then cleaning up the grease-spattered cooktop). I feel like watching TV and playing video games.

Anyway, I'm working on my house. Because it makes me sad. And I think it's a sign of a disordered, unhappy mental state. Every time I worry about money, or work, or my health, my housekeeping becomes chaotic. I think that's not that uncommon.


But I am not happy that I didn't run or strength train at all this weekend. I'm not happy that I had Taco Bell for dinner on Saturday (and not Fresco style, either) and a mega-giant caprese salad for dinner on Sunday. Or that the other thing that I had on Sunday was an enormous brunch featuring corned beef hash. Or that I gave in to the temptation of ice cream social leftovers in the office fridge not once, not twice, but three times on Friday. (Argh. Blargh! Seriously?!)

I'm hoping that once the major cleaning is done and it becomes a matter of maintaining it (my goal in all of this), I will be able to spend my weekends doing and eating healthy shtuff.

I'm not going to kick myself over this past weekend. I am going to resolve to do better. Again. Some more.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOLFGMA 7/29/2012 8:13AM

    Glad you had a productive cleaning day! Bet you burned a few calories doing all that! LOL I'm sure you can go after the strength and cardio training in the same way. Use the same type motivation , the do or die , and I have a feeling next weekend you will achieve your "healthy" goals as well as keeping the house clean! emoticon

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DRPOOH63 7/26/2012 10:40PM

    Can I say your housekeeping made me exhausted?!?! Congrats on working on getting organized.

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    Have you been watching Dallas?!! I'm completely hooked, all the drama!!

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    Weekend is in the past. Now is the present - don't beat yourself up over the past - you can't change. Make positive changes for this week. emoticon

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FUNFROG79 7/23/2012 2:23PM

    You had a very productive weekend, I'm impressed! I love feeling organized!

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