Friday, June 04, 2010
But alas, not on Spark. At work. I have four major - and I mean MAY-JOUR - projects to do in the next two months. They will demand all my time and attention for at least the usual 40 hours a week and quite possibly more than that. My boss certainly expects them to require overtime: he told me to delegate to the rest of the team and authorized unlimited and unquestioned overtime. He also checks in with me every day to make sure that I'm not overwhelmed and am still chuntering on. All of this is really rare. Normally everyone in my office does their own thing and my boss leaves us to it. The good news is that all this hard work should get me promoted. My boss gave me a title bump to go along with all the extra responsibility earlier this year. I'm talkin' about cold, hard cash - to the tune of 7K or so a year. Yup, I've earned it.
So, where does this leave Spark? We all know how much time and effort Spark takes.
Well, I'm not letting it slide. I am cutting my program to bare bones because it's the only thing I'll be able to stick to. But I figure that this is FAR better than stopping altogether. I will do the following things every day:
1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is within my calorie range.
2. Drink 8 glasses of water.
3. Exercise for at least 10 minutes, even if it's just a quick walk at work.
4. Sleep for 8 hours.
Eat, drink, exercise, sleep. Easy enough, huh? Well, we'll see. But here's the thing: I have been very diligent about my plan this week and it's paid huge dividends. I feel healthy and well rested and can focus very well. I'm not stressed and I can break my tasks down into manageable chunks so that I don't feel too daunted. This is a big victory for me. I go through this craziness almost every summer and I've never handled it so well. Usually I'm a stressed out mess. I credit Spark. So I'm stickin' to it.
I will probably seem to disappear during the week. I'll still be tracking everything on SP but most likely won't have time to check in with all my lovely SparkFriends like I usually do. I will check in with everybody on the weekends, so don't think I've forgotten you. Please do check in with me from time to time - I'm going to need your support if I'm going to make it through June and July.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Okay, so I've been sick. Not just a little cold, but a serious Third World stomach bug the likes of which generally lay me out for a month (two weeks actively sick, two weeks of recovery to get my strength back). Right now I'm in week 2 and don't actually expect to go back to work until next week. Yes, I've been down this path before, more times than I'd like to admit. It's just a professional hazard and can't be avoided when you travel to Latin America as much as I do.
All right, enough whining. This blog isn't really about me being sick. Unfortunately, that is normal enough and I know how to deal with it. Not a big deal.
What I haven't figured out is how to transition from my stomach-bug induced eating habits back to my healthy lifestyle. Previous attempts at weight loss have been foiled by this problem more than once; it's a known trouble spot for me.
Yes, I realize this is possibly premature. But I'm trying to avoid two things here: 1. Letting myself slide off the wagon for any longer than absolutely necessary and 2. Gaining weight because I let my eating habits get sloppy after an illness. These two goals are closely linked. So I'm trying to formulate a plan that will help me make the transition as smoothly and healthily as possible. I welcome any suggestions/ideas you lovely Sparkers might have.
Right now I'm basically on a BRAT plus diet. Meaning: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast (BRAT) plus white bread, turkey, chicken, and white pasta. Liquids include lots of water (duh), low-acidity fruit juice, clear sodas (Sprite and ginger ale greatly help settle my stomach), coffee with no creamer, tea, broth, and Pedialyte. Not exactly the world's healthiest diet but it's easy on my stomach and tends to stay down. That's the whole point right now.
The problem is that most of the things listed above are foods that I avoid or limit when I'm healthy. They're just not that nutritious and are too high in calories to fit into my usual calorie budget. They do right now because I'm barely eating and because I think stuff isn't necessarily sticking around long enough to be fully absorbed. Sorry - gross but true.
Soooo....how do I make the transition back to my normal, healthy diet? Without overloading my system and causing a relapse. I already made that mistake - yesterday. And it was the worst day I've had since I landed in a Panamanian hospital last week. I'm just not willing to do that again.
Here's my first shot at a plan. If anyone has experience with these things, I'd really appreciate your advice:
Step 1: Stick to BRAT plus until my stomach has been normal for 2 days. Stay home, sleep a lot, drink tons of liquids. And try to build up my strength a bit by playing balance games on the Wii Fit and doing the occasional household chore, as fatigue permits. Keep tracking food to make sure I'm not wildly exceeding my calorie budget, not that there's much chance of that.
Step 2: Start substituting whole grains for the processed grains mentioned above. Add in other easy-on-the-stomach fruits like peaches and watermelon. Branch out into pork and mild white fish. Start taking short, easy walks. Try going back to work. Don't push it - this is a relapse danger zone.
Step 3: After a few days' success on step 2, phase out high-calorie liquids. Try a cooked vegetable or two. Herbs and spices can come back in gradually. Build up to a 20-minute walk or 20 vigorous minutes on the Wii every day.
Step 4: Gradually go back to a normal, healthy lifestyle. Add in acidic and high-fiber foods one at a time to make sure I can tolerate them. Same goes for dairy. Increase walks to 30 minutes a day and start doing light cardio at the gym.
Step 5: Back to normal! Healthy eating habits, regular gym workouts, etc.
Having a plan feels good. Now I'm going to have to figure out how to track it; I suspect I'll have to do this in a journal separate from SP. SP just wasn't designed to cope with this. :)
Wish me luck!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I've spent the last two weeks in Central America (Honduras and Panama). And, predictably, I picked up a pretty virulent bug in Honduras. So virulent, in fact, that I ended up in the hospital in Panama. This wasn't a horrible thing, though: I was badly dehydrated and really did need medical attention. (Getting me to the hospital was like giving a cat a bath. I protested during the whole discussion and even until we parked the car at the hospital. Thank goodness my colleagues are smarter than I am and forced me to go.) And the quality of care in the Punta Pacifica hospital was great - it's a Johns Hopkins affiliate, which I didn't know. In some ways it was better than in the U.S. - I didn't have to spend hours in a waiting room. They got me right into a bed in the ER and saw me right away. And the hospital visit was surprisingly affordable - just under $400 for the whole shooting match, including medications.
So I spent the last three days of my stay in Panama locked in my hotel room with some Pedialyte. I came home yesterday, and got through the grueling 12 hour day just fine. So I thought I could handle solid food again. Boy, was I wrong. I am paying that price today.
Awful as I feel, I'm irked that my SparkPeople goals have gone completely to the way side. Obviously I can't work out; I can barely do laundry. I haven't bothered to track my food. I'm trying to consume calories by drinking fruit juice mixed with ginger ale, but I figure I'm nowhere near my recommended range. Plus, I don't think the food is in me long enough to truly get absorbed. Am I crazy here? Should I be tracking?
The only thing I'm sure of is that I'm getting my water in. Liquid diets are great for that.
One unintended upside is that I'm quite sure I'm losing weight. Yes, yes, I know this isn't the way to do it. Trust me, I'd much rather not. But I've got to try to find a silver lining in here somewhere.
Oh, that and being home. It's MUCH easier to manage this thing at home than in a hotel room in a foreign country. Yup, I'm grateful for that.
So is the answer that I need to just let it go and be sick? And worry about it when I get better?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I spent most of this afternoon going through clothes. I started with three boxes (!) of size 14s and larges, plus a few stray 12s and mediums, that I haven't been able to wear in over a year. I've almost worked my way through them all and the majority of them fit. I have one medium box of clothes that almost fit or will need to sit for a little while longer. There's no room for most of these clothes in my closet and drawers, so I'll have to make room by weeding out things that are now too big. I ship this stuff to my mom, who is also using SparkPeople and has already lost 14 pounds. She started bigger than I am, so she fits into my old 16s quite nicely now. I had one box almost full; I think I'll have 2 ready for her by the end of the afternoon.
So I should be ecstatic, right?
Somehow, no. Instead I'm berating myself for not working harder and feeling guilty and blue. (DH is not home, or he'd have put a stop to this already. And yes, I'm incredibly grateful to have such a wonderful and supportive spouse.) But I do have a point: I have not been working as hard as I should have. And I know it. Miraculously I'm still losing circumference but I gained a pound last week. I'm afraid to step on the scale tomorrow - yesterday was Spanish Night at my boss's and tonight DH and I are supposed to go out for a super fancy dinner for his birthday.
Yes, I know all the tips and tricks of how to go to a party and/or eat out and still stick to my plan. But I totally ignored it last night; the Spanish food was just too tempting. (My boss lived in Madrid for three years, is a great cook, and lives near an European food market. How do you say no? Especially because he's my BOSS...)
I have not been to the gym lately. And I haven't even been that good about SparkPeople tracking, which is highly unusual for me. I've also slid a bit on the nutrition. Everyone goes through this, and like everyone else I have the same old excuses. Work has been absolutely insane. The house is a disaster area since I haven't had the energy to clean due to the aforementioned work situation. I tell myself I don't have time for the gym, which is stupid because I get 3 hours on the clock every week for the gym. Eating right and getting 8 hours of sleep and 8 glasses a water a day is the only thing keeping me going. But it's just not enough. I want the scale to move and I want to feel about myself. It isn't, and I don't. And I feel awful about it.
So what to do? Being largely of Prussian descent, I tend to just push through on sheer willpower. But that ain't workin' anymore; it seems to take all of my willpower and organization skills just to get through the day let alone focus on the big picture. The usual motivators for me - smaller clothes, comments from coworkers, etc., aren't working. Not even new photos, which for me a very big thing; it's about the only time I'm objective about what I look like. (I blogged about this previously.)
How do I get that motivation and willpower back? This is a very tough question for me. Just blogging about it makes me feel better, calmer. And I think I might have some ideas.
1. Let myself off the hook for backsliding the past week or so. What's done is done and it can't be changed.
2. Plan ahead. Plan meals on Sundays for the whole week and put together my food for work (breakfast, lunch, and snack - I work 10 hour days) the night before.
3. Focus on what I need to do every day, one day at a time. No more and no less.
4. GET MY BUTT TO THE GYM. NO EXCUSES.
5. Keep it simple. Don't add new steps to the plan or unnecessarily complicate things.
6. Celebrate internally every time I put on new clothes or smaller old clothes.
7. Savor progress and reward myself for it.
Okay, good plan. Now comes the hard part: executing it. I know that if I don't do it, I'll backslide and gain weight again. (I've been here before.) I've sworn to myself so many times that this time it's different because it's a permanent lifestyle change, not a diet. So here's where the rubber meets the road. This is my chance to prove to myself that this is permanent and real.
Wish me luck!
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