Thursday, February 23, 2012
Today I learned a shocking and appalling fact: of the 7 billion souls on this planet, 3 billion are improperly nourished. These people break down into three even groups of about 1 billion each: don't get enough to eat (undernourished), don't get proper nutrition despite getting enough calories (malnutrition), and obese, often with obesity-related health problems. (For more information, see this week's Economist: http://www.economist.com/node/21547771.)
So that means that just over half of humanity gets enough but not too much to eat and proper nutrition. Undernourishment is well-documented, easily understood, and tends to happen in poor countries. Malnutrition refers to vitamin and mineral deficiencies that almost always lead to disease and/or poor life outcome - think shorter life expectancy, shorter heights, less schooling, and less income. This tends to happen in the middle range of income, globally speaking. So poor people in rich countries, lots of people in middle-income countries, and tons of people in poor countries. Meanwhile 14% of us are stuffing ourselves to sickness - and not just in rich countries, either. Obesity is at epidemic levels in Mexico and India, for example, because their city dwellers are eating too much processed and fast food. Ironically, obese people often don't get proper nutrition, either, because they eat too much processed food.
Uhhhh, does this sound familiar to anybody else? I definitely was in the latter category: obese, at heightened health risk (although I thankfully did not develop diabetes or heart disease as I probably would have if I had not changed my habits), and not getting enough vital nutrients. This article really underlined the importance of what SparkPeople, all of us Sparkies, The Chew, Michelle Obama, and Jamie Oliver, among countless others, are trying to do. The fact that so many people in a country this rich and educated don't get proper nutrition is just criminal. (We've got a mix of all three problems here in the United States - malnourishment was pretty rare but has gotten more common due mostly to food insecurity caused by people losing their jobs in the Great Recession.)
Getting fit and eating properly doesn't just help ourselves and our families: it helps right a global nutritional imbalance. Yeah, I'm going to think about that next time I'm tempted to grab a burger and fries instead of going home and making a vegetarian pasta toss.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Yesterday I passed by a Trader Joe's on my way home, only because I had an appointment and took a different route. I was hungry and majorly PMSing (my TOM is more than a week late but my PMS was right on time; it's getting excruciating) and I remembered finding great, healthy stuff at Trader Joe's on previous trips. So I stopped in.
And boy, did I find what I was looking for. (DH actually asked me how my hormones actually managed to steer the cart and swipe my credit card, lol.) They had Chocolately Cat Cookies For People that are basically chocolate animal crackers, not to mention absolutely delicious, and weigh in at only 110 calories for FIFTEEN COOKIES. I also found something called a seaweed snack that sounded like seaweed salad in chip form. Turns out that's exactly what it's like. I love seaweed salad, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. OMG OM NOM NOM NOM. I ate the whole package on the way home! Salty, roasty, toasty, seaweed salad flavor in a crispy, flaky chip. I consumed 2 grams each of protein and fiber for only 60 calories and 100 mg of salt!!! For the whole package. The best part: it totally satisfied my craving for French fries because of the salt and toasty flavor. Yeah, I'm going to get that again.
I also picked up some super cheap wine and pancetta for a soup I've been wanting to make (white beans, shallots, kale or other dark greens, pancetta, chicken stock). I also found some healthy convenience food for DH's next business trip; I tend to get really lazy about cooking when he's out of town. What a win!
Monday, January 23, 2012
All right, I have a plan. I laid it all out, including pretty emoticons, in my last blog. That's great. But what I haven't had is follow-through or motivation. Friday I stepped on the scale to discover I gained FOUR POUNDS over a long weekend in San Francisco and two weeks to my own devices while DH was on a business trip. Blowing off workouts for an entire week did not help. Umm, yeah, that's a big ol' wake up call. Gaining weight is simply not an option.
This prompted some serious introspection. A perfect plan will reliably fail if I, or anybody for that matter, neglects to put it into practice. So what is holding me back from following through?
My first answer is not the SP PC answer: too much focus on my healthy lifestyle. Now before y'all freak out, hear me out. In general, vacation overindulgence aside, I am very, very good at maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And I'm even better at maintaining my weight. Losing weight is a lot harder for me. So I need to think more about weight loss. I'm still trying to avoid thinking about the "D" word, but I need to find a mental balance that will let me focus on shedding the pounds without being too hard on myself. (I suspect this sounds familiar to a lot of you...)
Eventually I came to two conclusions: I should think about losing weight in 5-pound increments and focus on taking off the weight. Close enough isn't good enough in this endeavor (yeah, I know I'm going to slip up but I need to focus on sticking to the plan and will deal with slip ups when they happen). To do this I need to view my (genetic and formidable) willpower as a super power and mobilize it. And I need to take things one decision at a time. For example, I REALLY wanted a cream-filled chocolate glazed doughnuts at a meeting on Friday. But I mentally hit the "WILLPOWER ENGAGE!" button and sat far out of reach of the doughnuts. And I successfully resisted! I continued this approach over the weekend, did a tough workout yesterday, and took off those four pounds. (Ummm, water weight?)
I'm done with luck and with being 176.1, where I've been stuck since before Christmas. Six pounds are coming off and I'm willing to work as hard as I need to do it. Willpower engage!
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Last year I wanted to lose 40 pounds but only lost 15. So this year I have about 25 pounds to lose - and my husband I plan to try to get pregnant this year, so I probably won't lose all the weight before then. And that's fine with me; I don't want to postpone pregnancy to lose weight. (I'm already 33 and don't have the luxury of time.)
Late last year I got burned out on my weight loss efforts and learned a lot about what works for me. Apparently I've been bitten by the New Year's Fever bug, because I feel the need to freshen up my program. My fitness will stay pretty much the same, with one substitution:
3 30-minute cardio sessions a week;
2 full body ST sessions a week, and here's the substitution: I'm going to swap out last year's Coach Nicole bootcamp videos with this year's, since I'm sick of the old ones;
one yoga session a week.
I really hate tracking my food and have a good feel for what and how much I should eat a day. So I'm going to stick to this rough plan, which should alleviate the need for strict tracking:
Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal (made with almond milk) and 1 serving of dried fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar-free coffee creamer, and a cup of Greek yogurt, for a total of ~450 calories;
Morning snack: ~100 calories of fruit;
Lunch: leftovers, salad, or sandwich to the tune of ~400 calories;
Afternoon snack: ~150 calories of fruit or popcorn or whole-grain crackers/pretzels;
Dinner: ~550 calories of lean protein, whole grains, and veggies, following the My Plate guidelines;
Dessert: 100 calories or fewer of pudding, hot chocolate, or dark Dove promises.
These guidelines put me at ~1700 calories a day, and my nutrition tracker says 1800 is my upper limit. Most days I find that I skip at least one snack and eat a slightly bigger dinner, but that's fine. I intend the plan to be a guideline that will help me eat well and within my calorie limits with minimal effort. (The latter part is key...) So if I just focus on making good, healthy choices for lunch and dinner everything should fall into place. Also, I'm hoping that sticking to a framework instead of tracking will help me sweep away those last vestiges of a diet mentality.
Sleep and water don't figure into my plan because getting enough of them is an entrenched part of my life; I don't even need to think about it. Eating right and getting my workouts in are still works in progress, but I'm getting a lot closer. And at the end of the day, that's really my goal for 2012 since I'm hoping that following the scale will not be an option for me come summertime.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
At the end of October I felt very overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions. So I decided to take a SparkBreak for two main reasons: to pare down the number of things I try to do in a day and to focus in on what is and isn't working in my wellness plan. And let me tell you, I learned a lot. Most of the lessons are still works in progress - life just seems to work that way - but I'm in a better head space and ready to come back, slowly. Here's a list of what I've learned in five weeks, in stream of consciousness order:
I am really good at maintaining my weight. My attention to both diet and exercise wavered, but one or the other always seemed to be going well; I never completely fluffed a week. And my weight held rock steady from before Halloween to the present day. Go figure.
Morning workouts ROCK. I pack my work clothes in my gym bag, throw on gym clothes, eat breakfast at work, and exercise 30 minutes later (gotta digest that breakfast!). I get in a great workout because I'm fueled and well-rested. The pride and sense of accomplishment stays with me all day - and boosts my confidence and self-image all day, too. I also seem to be more energetic. Plus it's one less thing to worry about fitting in over the course of the day; I'd found myself skipping workouts far too often because work gets craziest at mid-afternoon, which is when I used to work out.
I definitely spent too much time on the social networking aspect of SP. I'm going to be back online regularly, but not participating in teams and keeping my comments on blogs and status rather minimal.
Consistency is difficult for me. I seem to be able to be super consistent with either fitness or nutrition. And even when I'm doing well with nutrition, certain days slip away from me.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned is how to focus on a task and not my to-do list. The shift is small but extremely important. I am getting better at taking one task at a time and not worrying about what the rest of my list looks like or how long it gets. This has gone a long, long way to reducing my overall stress level.
Another big stress reducer has been learning to effectively triage and prioritize. This is most important at work, where I have a very high volume of stuff to deal with every day, but also at home where, as we all know, the chores never end.
I finally feel like I have a handle on my new job. Oh, the stress relief that brought!
I am normal sized. And, frankly, hot. Because I'm recovering from an eating disorder, truly believing that is a big hairy deal.
Even if I don't lose another pound, I am happy with my body. It works well and is happy. That makes ME work well and happy.
This lifestyle is here to stay. I like it too much to go back. So if I just hold even, I'm cool with that. I'm still hoping to lose, but I'm not going to kill myself or beat myself up if I hold even. I am the healthiest I've ever been, so who cares if I'm carrying a few extra pounds? They're not hurting anything right now. (If that changes, I'll re-assess.)
I am learning to live by Emerson's advice: "Finish each day and be done with it." I accept that I've done the best I could, even if that means too many of my calories came from York peppermint patties (darn them anyway) or the to-do list is longer than when I started in the morning. Sometimes life happens that way. Acknowledge it, move on, and start fresh tomorrow. (This is a biggie on the works-in-progress list. But I've made a lot of headway.)
Iron discipline is not necessarily a good thing. I need to relax and enjoy myself more often. My inclination towards iron discipline combined with my consistency problems caused me endless grief and self-recriminations. I'm done with that now. (Or at least trying to be.) I need to be more flexible and focus on my healthy lifestyle, not doing everything perfectly.
I missed you guys more than I thought I would!
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