Thursday, January 12, 2012
I've put a lot of pressure on myself the first two weeks of this year to write this epic, thoughtful, "this is the year that all my dreams will come true" blog to kick-off 2012. That's not going to happen. This isn't that blog.
Instead what you're going to get from me is a RAMBLE of sorts in hopes to put 2011 to bed and really invest in this new year in front of us with a little more vigor than what last year left me with. Because the truth is - even though it kinda sucked near the end, 2011 was a great year and I need to step back and recognize all of my incredible accomplishments for what they are.
I'm anti "the re-investment blog." I'm not going to say "I'm starting over" because the truth is I'm not. I never quit. I just got lazy for a bit. I got into my head. I got held up by a plateau. I stopped blogging. I lost track of my community that has been so supportive of me. I was injured, so I stopped running. And I got REALLY, REALLY frustrated with myself and the situation. But I never quit. I kept trying, the best I knew how to try with the holidays and the injury and the stupid, dumb, daft, annoying PLATEAU that I still can't seem to shake and that ended up turning into a 10 pound weight gain by the time January 1 rolled over.
That's ok. I've lost 5 pounds of water weight already. I have a suspicion the next 5 are going to hang on until the end of the month just to annoy me and to confirm the fact that my holiday ditherings have just officially cost me the first month of my new year to make up. Moving on...
In trying to figure out how to best organize all my ideas into a concise Super-Blog (again, not gonna happen) I went back and read through some of my blogs from 2011 including the one that started it all off on that first day of January last year. The Year of the Ones. And it absolutely was. I did make it a year of running. I ran my first 8K, 10K, 15K and a number of 5Ks. I was disappointed not to end the year with my first Half Marathon, but when you are injured, you can't mess around and so I did the best I could and quite honestly - my best yielded one heck of a year for running! And how fitting that I ended it all with an almost PERFECT 11 (one one) mile run before I injured out? It's the memory of that amazing run that is getting me through these 6 weeks of taking it easy, healing and waiting to get back out there again. But the lethargy, and now the snow, has set in - so getting back out there is going to be a huge challenge for me in the next few weeks and one that I know is going to take everything I have right now to meet.
2011 also saw my first 100 pound loss (on the DAY of my 1 year Sparkversary no less) and quickly ushered in my current status in Onederland. A place I hadn't seen in over 10 years and one that I'm proud to say I haven't left since I got here. Nor do I intend to - holiday weight gain or not.
I went to Africa. I went to Turkey. I found love in a really wonderful man who gets me better than anyone I have been with before, but who offers up a whole new world of challenges for me in learning to live FOR MYSELF and not for someone else.
I spent 2011 LIVING. And I can't be ashamed of that. I wish I had spent more of the year losing, but in not losing as much, I learned more about my limits, balance and what making an effort feels like even when the rewards don't feel as big.
But a glance through more of my blogs from 2011 yielded some more interesting information. My struggle with the scale slow-down started WAY earlier than I thought it did. My first blog post about not having an easy time of things was as soon as February 2011. I suppose my big entry into the Centenarians Club and Onederland by the end of the first quarter did well of hiding the fact that I wasn't doing as well by the numbers game as it was looking from the outside. And it didn't take very long after that excitement died down for the blahs to hit hard and fast along with a new relationship that seemed to be consuming my abilities to stay the course for myself with any effort at all. In short - my galloping horse of weight-loss got yanked up by the bridle rather quickly in May and turned around to bite the jockey in the ass for the rest of the year. By the time the holidays rolled around, the jockey had had enough and decided on an honourable dismount. But I was still hanging on to the reigns. I never fully let go. I just did what I needed to do to survive, and unfortunately, my survival skills involve a fair amount of binge eating on what has become an absolutely regular basis.
I wanted to post a triumphant ski bunny blog about my wonderful Christmas vacation and how healthy and wonderful it was to do something active over the holidays. But in all honesty, I ate my way through the entire 6 days away. I ate a handful of chocolate almonds every time I passed the damn bowl on the counter that my mother INSISTS on leaving out all the time. I drank wine and beer and alcohol every chance I got with high calorie mixers, not the least of which was eggnog. I ate seconds and thirds and dessert after every meal. I indulged in family favorites, gorged myself on the annual cookie tray, and didn't go a single day without experiencing that uncomfortable feeling of being too full - fat, roly poly and unhealthy. The saving grace was skiing. Thank god we went skiing. Even though I used it every day as my excuse for bad behaviour knowing full well that even at approximately 400 calories an hour it couldn't even begin to touch the damage I was doing food-wise. But I also walked when I could, did some cross-country skiing on my day off the hills, stretched every morning, and committed to drinking my water every single day no matter what. Those where the reigns. The things that were keeping me bridled to the horse even though it seemed to be galloping off in the other direction. As long as I had hold of the reigns, I was still in control.
A couple of really good sessions with my therapist upon returning from my vacation have also given me some of the answers and reassurance in my behaviours that I was seeking. As she put it - sometimes, you need to eat. Just make sure that you dedicate your eating to something and know WHY you're doing it. So the chocolate almonds? Those were for my mom getting her way again despite my crazy work schedule and having her whole family home for Christmas with no regard to how much stress that put on me to get there. The drinking? For having no privacy while on vacation and having to share the pull-out couch in the middle of the living room with my brother. The cookie tray? I'm dedicating that to the month I spent without my boyfriend while he was in India with his family and I was in Canada with mine. It could go on and on. I'm no different than anyone else here when it comes to holiday related stress and worry - regardless of how idyllic the vacation sounds.
Dedicating my overeating to things once I got back though has been a little harder. At work, January 1st brought about major renovations to much of the theatre space and I have been slammed with early mornings, late nights, a multitude of decisions to make, a lot of money being spent and just hoping like hell that I'm doing the right thing for the future of the company. Anyone who has built a house will know what it's like dealing with contractors constantly asking you questions about what you want, what light fixture should go where, how many electrical sockets you want in a room, which way you want the cupboards to go on the wall, paint colours, etc. etc. And they always need more - another order of drywall, more screws, more plywood. The costs are adding up quickly and it's not my money. I worry constantly about the expenditures and whether or not my boss is going to freak out at my decision to buy new light fixtures over re-using the old ones that were terribly ratty looking and probably donated-used in the first place. I'm constantly hanging out between that place of excitement about a project that is going to mean great things for everyone involved and that I am heading up all on my own, and terror that I'm doing it all wrong and that everyone is going to be mad at me. So, at the end of very long, 10-12 hour days, I drag myself home, open up my fridge, and eat. Everything. Anything I can get my hands on. I eat.
And here is where 2012 begins.
I don't feel like I'm in a good place like I was last year in January. My energy is already socked and we're not even half way through the month. I am kicking my butt every day to keep up with the January Bootcamp workouts, but I fight with myself constantly to get my 5 weekly cardio sessions in. I want to be running, but I don't want to run at the same time. The first blog of this year was supposed to be my triumphant "2012 - The Year of the Marathon" blog - but I don't have the heart to write it yet because my head just isn't in that game right now. Perhaps I'll save it for the beginning of February after I have officially signed up to run and forked over my entrance fee. Maybe THAT will light the fire under my ass that I desperately need right now. Here's hoping.
But for now there is this blog. Trudging along. One day at a time.
I have reset my SparkDiet steps because I feel like I could stand a refresher course and I need to get back in the habit of setting up goals and Fast Breaks. But I can't seem to get the program to send me the weekly emails again. Anyone have any ideas? I certainly don't want to reset all my goals and lose all of the information that I have so far.
I also have not made any New Year's Resolutions (I'm not a fan of them) but I have set a couple of goals so far that I'm having fun sticking to this month. #1 - No eating out for the entire month of January (not including Starbucks coffee in the morning). So far, so good. I have prepped and brought to work every single meal for the past two weeks, which is a feat in an of itself since I'm away from my house for 3 meals a day. And #2 - get back to blogging. So here we are. I need to reconnect with the Spark community. I honestly think there's a reason for my huge successes in the first year of this program and I think much of that has to do with my level of involvement with this site which ultimately correlates to my level of involvement with myself. Time on Spark is time for me, so the more time I spend blogging and tracking and planning, the more time I am ultimately investing in myself and my spirit to stick with it and keep pushing myself. My weight loss started to taper off the same time my blogging started to taper off. So here's hoping that everyone is going to hear a lot more from me this year as I attempt to get back into this world and make big moves for myself in mine.
I hope everyone has had time now in the first two weeks of the year to settle in, really think about your goals for the upcoming year, and do something good for yourself. Regardless of how these next 12 months go, I am certain of one thing: at this time next year I WILL be healthier than I am now, smaller than I am now, and happy about how far I've come. Because this path only goes in one direction - forward. 2011 got me to where I am now and I am grateful for everything that it gave me. But 2012 is where I'm headed now and it is FULL of possibilities.
Happy (Belated) New Year Everyone. Get on that horse and ride.
Monday, December 12, 2011
I swear I have an AHA Moment every time I actually have a day where I manage to cook 3 solid meals for myself. Because today I have eaten like a KING, I still have almost 200 calories left and I am not the least bit hungry. I have managed ALL of my fruits and veggies, have consumed near perfect numbers of protein, fat, carbs and other essential nutrients, and even had room for a Starbucks treat on my walk home. What's that again? Oh yes, I walked home tonight because I still had the energy to at the end of the day. It's amazing what happens when you fuel your body with the things that it wants and needs - it actually PERFORMS the way it should!
It never fails to amaze me how few calories I seem to have and how much sodium I manage to consume when even ONE meal a day is away from home. Most days it's TWO meals away from home - and I know I'm not alone in that habit. I, like many people, burn the candle at both ends and hardly have time on the weekends to catch up. But with the sweetie out of town, it's back to being FULLY focused on me - and that means some down hard time in the kitchen...
Or not. Though I like to cook, it's my crockpot that gets me through the day. Knowing that dinner is already made for me when I leave work is what allows me to say "yeah sure, let's spend the 45 minutes that it takes me to walk because once I'm there, it's serve & sit." And there is nothing better than walking into a house that smells of somethin' good cookin'. Yum!
So if you don't already own one - I HIGHLY suggest adding a crockpot to your Christmas list this year. I'm a bit obsessed with mine. Maybe not as much as Stephanie O'Dea. She took it upon herself to use her (now numerous) Crockpots every day for a whole year and wrote a blog about it. crockpot365.blogspot.com/ I stumbled upon this site myself a couple of years ago and it has been my go-to recipe manual ever since. I own both of her books and use them almost every time I pull out my pot. I have never cooked a recipe of hers that wasn't totally amazing. But guess what? Once you learn how easy it is to do - you start coming up with stuff of your own. Or, you remember old recipes that you once loved and figure out how to use the crockpot to make those too. For me it was simple - my mom is just as obsessed with her crockpot as I am with mine and so I grew up on slow cooked recipes. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the smells coming out of that pot. So for me - a simple phone call and a "what did you put in that again?" yielded me a whole slew of stew recipes and other slow cooker gems.
My menu today? Started out with one of these guys that was featured on Spark a couple of days ago: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
l.asp?recipe=1099770 with a couple of clementines which are totally in season right now and are so super sweet and delicious.
Then for lunch I had Mom's Beef Stew recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
l.asp?recipe=1900721 with a pear, yogurt, snack bag of pretzels and a fun-sized Twizzler's licorice.
Dinner was a new one - Thai Marmalade Pork Tenderloin Roast recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
l.asp?recipe=1902355 served over rice with a side of broccoli. Mmmm!
Since I have some extra calories left, I'm on to continue my Christmas cookie baking. I know little tasters and spoon licks add up, so I'll likely top out on my calories for the day - but it's so nice to have that freedom and not be too worried about going over.
If you're interested in more of my crockpot recipes - check out my Recipe Box. I post the recipe for everything I cook and try to indicate if it was a total flop - but usually I just change up the ingredients and improve on it the next time I make it. Here are a couple of links to my personal favorites though. Happy Cooking! Tis the season to throw it in the pot and let the appliance do the work for you!
Asian Peanut Butter Pork (one of Stephanie's recipes) recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Brown Sugar Chicken (Stephanie again) recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Chicken & Dumplings recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Crockpot Lasagna (adapted from Stephanie's recipe - I make mine with turkey & spinach!) recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Fruit Jam Chicken recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Lentil (or Split Pea) Soup with Ham recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Mom's Chili - Can't beat this one! recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Turkey Pumpkin Chili - a different take on the classic that's really good! recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
Friday, December 09, 2011
I have no words for this stinkin cuteness. The baby's not bad either :)
About to go drop the boy off at the airport. He's flying home to India for 2 weeks and then I'm on vacation with my family in Canada for another week so we won't see each other now until New Year's Eve.
That gives me 3 weeks to get my arse in serious gear and look SUPERB in a frilly new dress for NYE by the time I get home and he sees me again.
"Can't help, lovin that man of mine."
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Hurray for active holidays! I can't tell you how excited I am to ski in the Rockies over Christmas with my family. And knowing that I'm going to be that active every day and burning that many calories takes all the pressure off Christmas and means I can ease up a bit in terms of what I eat and drink while I'm away.
Here's a preview of my new ski suit!
It hasn't been a cheap trip so far - let me tell you. All the new gear has cost me a fortune, but for me it's an investment in a return to my active lifestyle which I will now continue for years and years to come.
As a kid I lived 15 minutes from a ski hill and in the winter that's what we did every weekend. I was never a "ski bunny" being that I was always overweight, even as a kid - but my overeating was more controlled by the amount of physical activity that we used to do. Some of my absolute favorite childhood memories involve a day on the hill, after which we'd come home and tuck in to my mom's amazing chili or split pea soup that would be cooking in the crockpot all day while we were out. Served up with a fresh loaf of bread, a fire in the fireplace, and a couple rounds of Donkey Kong on the Atari with my brothers. Then, if I was good, my dad would take me back to the hill at night and we would go night skiing together - just the two of us. There is nothing I like more than night skiing - the big overheads lighting up the stark white hill. Everything is so quiet. All you hear is the "swoosh, swoosh, swoosh" of your skis as they cut into the snow. It's peaceful and idyllic and everything I love about being outdoors.
When I was in the 7th grade - a couple of years after we moved away from that ski hill - we made a trip back for a weekend. The move had caused me quite a bit of psychological damage (it's terrible to move a child in the pre-teen years and I was being bullied regularly by my new peers and trying desperately to fit in) and I was looking so forward to getting back out on that hill and back to a better time in my life. Unfortunately, however, I had packed on quite a few pounds in the couple of years being away from the hill. My ski suit was snug at best - I actually broke the zipper in my pants when I bent over to do up my boots, and my dad had to install an additional leather strap to my boots to even get them to buckle. But I was going out there and I was going to ski dammit! ...They ended up taking me off the hill on a stretcher. I wanted to relive the good old days. I wanted to be like my thin and fit brothers who were hotdogging the black diamonds and hitting all the fun jumps and moguls. I pushed myself beyond my abilities and landed myself in the hospital with a broken arm. And I was devastated.
I have only skied a handful of times since that incident. Since moving to "The Land of The Flat" I haven't skied at all. There aren't any decent mountains around here and quite honestly - you can't get ski boots that fit you when you're 313 pounds. So for the past 10 years, I have been separated from a sport that I love and that makes me feel alive. And the pounds kept creeping on.
But no more! My new ski suit is SMALLER than the one I owned at 12 years old! In fact, that ski suit still fits - but since it's no longer 1996, I opted for an upgrade. Here's a pic for the scrapbook though - and for your viewing and giggling pleasure:
Check out those sleeves dude! And the tag from the day I broke my arm is still on that jacket. Oh lord.
Actually - I was really surprised when I started shopping for new gear this year that the number one colour in ski essentials is hot pink. The pants actually fit me pretty well, so I was just going to go for a jacket that had pink accents in it, but then my brother sent me pics of my new skis that he procured for me out west and they're black, red & white - so I chose to bite the added expense and feel TOTALLY chic on the hill this year. Matchy, matchy - oooh.
Since my birthday is at Christmas and my parents are gifting me most of my ski equipment, my flight out was purchased with miles, and our family Christmas gift is the stay in the ski in/out chalet - all inclusive with meals, beverages and lift passes, my expenses haven't really been all that crazy. I invested in my boots which will last me years and will adjust down as my body continues to shrink. I spent a bit on money on the new pants, jacket and ski socks (LOVE my SmartWools!), which I may only get one season out of depending on how small I am by next year, but all in all it's a justification that I can make for my health and my happiness. And since I don't have to buy Christmas gifts for anyone this year, this is what I chose to blow the budget on!
I'll make sure to post the holiday blog, complete with pics from the hill - but just a little warm-up (or, rather - cool down) to show you where I'm headed:
Kicking Horse, British Columbia
Fresh powder anyone?
Such a teaser!
So here's hoping for more big dumps (ski term for LOTS of snow! hehe) - reports are that despite unseasonably warm temps in Edmonton and Calgary, the mountains have been producing and they've already seen 10+ feet of snow in places.
I am SO ready to get back out there - a leaner, meaner, fitter, more confident ski bunny - who looks dang good in that new outfit if I do say so myself!
Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh...Mountains, here I come!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Most people know or have heard about the famous "Stanford Marshmallow Experiment" right? The one where they offered children one marshmallow now or a number of marshmallows later to study variations in delayed gratification? If you haven't heard about it, here's the Wiki link about it - it's worth a read: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marsh
Every so often, one of my Sparkfriends writes a blog that doesn't just hit home with me, but keys off a sequence of connect-the-dots behaviour in my head that leads me to some profound realization about myself and some of my most current struggles. And isn't that what we love about this community? Today's AHA Moment comes courtesy of WYND10's blog about coming back to Spark after getting "happy" - I'm so happy she's back and I'm SO happy she's happy. Here's the link to her blog: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
But here's where the two above paragraphs overlap. How much of our life happiness is based on delayed gratification and how much is based on instant gratification? Because if I'm like anyone else here, my gratification scale is way out of balance.
I don't know how I would have performed in that marshmallow experiment as a kid, but based on my mother's story of me eating all of the chocolate almonds I was sent home with to sell when I was in kindergarten, I'm going to assume that I would have eaten the damn marshmallow. I'm an instant gratification addict. I have learned delayed gratification over the years, but I'll be the first to tell you that it is absolutely NO FUN. Thankfully, unlike some of the participants in the study who were also instant-gratifiers, I got good grades in school, have managed to pay off my student loans, and have never become addicted to smoking or drugs. But food? - that's another issue all-together.
And like WYND10 asks - why is it so much harder to delay gratification when you're already happy? I think this is due to the method of thinking that more of a good thing can't possibly be bad - right? So when we're happy, it's easier to replace our system of delayed gratification with shorts bursts of instant appeal. Maybe I'm taking the analogy too far. But what happens when that "happy" is because we've accepted another person into our lives like she and I both recently have? Here's my response to her blog, which gets to another matter I've been meaning to talk about for a while now:
"OK - so I'm in exactly the same place you are right now. Except, I wouldn't blame this on being happy anymore like I might have in the past. Here's the therapy talk that I'm still trying to work through myself but that I know holds SO much weight (both literally and figuratively):
When we add another person (or thing, like a new job) into our lives we slowly start to lose sight of ourselves because loving and living and being for that other person/thing becomes who we are. It's second nature for us - negating ourselves and our goals and aspirations in order to better serve everyone else in our lives. We call it happy because it feels good - for the time being. But eventually it won't feel good anymore. And then we start to get angry and resent the other people/things in our lives because they prevent us from being and caring for ourselves and we start to remember and long for the days before the "happy" came along when we had control over things.
So the ONLY way to prevent the unhappy from creeping back in is to maintain YOU. And that is NOT at all easy. Because it means standing up for yourself 100% of the time. It means turning down food when hubby wants to order in, it means insisting on exercise when all you want to do is cuddle on the couch, it means speaking up when something doesn't feel right or you don't like something about your partner, or your boss, or your job situation. And keeping in mind that all of these things are NOT to deprive you of the "happy" but to keep you in it long term. This is not eating the marshmallow because you get a whole bag of marshmallows later if you wait."
I want my cake and I want to eat it too. And I can have it. Really, seriously. But it means adhering to the slow bake approach. It's not a matter of denying yourself the cake, but about eating small pieces of cake over a LONG period of time (or about saying no to small pieces of cake over a short period of time). And I think we all need an injection of this attitude right before we hit the holidays. It's not about denying yourself Christmas (or Thanksgiving or Hanukkah or birthdays or cake or cookies or pie or anything else that you might be feeling deprived of my taking a pass on it or saying no). It's about having 10, 15, 20 more years of your life to celebrate these amazing events. Because eating that marshmallow this year seriously could deny me eating 20 more marshmallows spread over the next 20 years of my life.
For me this works for food binging, money binging (stressed out shopping spree anyone?), saving for my retirement, and many, many other areas of my life in which the need for instant gratification is currently hurting my long-term life goals. I refuse to sink into the "happy" right now and risk not having it 20 years from now. And my partner needs to be the type of person that understands that about me. Or ultimately, we're not going to work. However, just saying that is me being afraid that he won't understand, when really, being myself is all he really wants from me anyway. Setting up future happiness isn't about not being happy right now, it's about balancing both.
Good things are right in front of you, but good things also come to those who wait (and due to inflation, they sometimes come in larger quantities later). So think about all the short term changes you could make right now to ensure long term happiness. It's about YOU, not about the marshmallow sitting in front of you on the table. Instant happiness (the thing that you feel right now, the sensation you get when you gobble down the marshmallow) is not the goal. It is fleeting and will eventually go away unless you commit to continuing to do the work to hang on to it. The goal is sustained happiness: a perfect balance of short bursts of joy, long-term planning, and believing that you can and will have everything that you deserve and desire in time.
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