Thursday, July 24, 2014
My husband planned a surprise holiday for us - a long weekend in Paris! Oo-la-la!!
I love Paris and have not been there since I was 19, so to be back as an adult was just fabulous. It's a city that to me is simply a place of dreams. I love the way people walk, talk, dress, and, just be. I love all the little cafes and ornamental architecture everywhere, and, now I've learned that there are also little parks all over the place where you can sit and relax.
The aim of this trip was to relax and have fun, and, to try out the top ten patisseries in town. At first I was a little nervous of what ten patisseries would do to my already shaky weight, but I decided to go with it, and see what would happen.
Well, it turns out, that there are more healthy options in Paris than one realises. Although we did indulge in pretty little cream based delicacies, we only had one at each shop, and then we shared it between us - they were far too rich for us to manage more than one. They were also so beautiful and so satisfying that one was more than enough and eating them was a pleasure. We also walked everywhere, which resulted in an average of two hours walking everyday, and seemed to balance out with our eating. There were also plenty of shops where you could buy delicious salads. In fact, when we weren't eating pastries, we were having lovely salads and fresh veg. I just could not believe how enticing the healthy options were, too!
So, I remembered something while on the trip. I already know that the key to a healthy diet is moderation in everything, rather than denial of my favourite foods, but something I had forgotten was that the secret to truly enjoying my favourite treats is to make sure that they are absolutely wonderful in every way - the best chocolate, the best cake, the best ice cream. Why? Because if they are the best I find myself enjoying them more and eating less of them, partly because the best is more expensive, and then I really feel like I'm spoiling myself. Saving up both money and calories for something I truly love is far more special than just buying a kit kat from the corner store. I had forgotten that.
The other thing I realised was just how stressed out I had been. For two days my husband and I just seemed to laugh and laugh and laugh. We were having fun, and, somehow we need to put more fun into our every day lives because I think that also helped us with our attitude and probably encouraged us to walk more, and get very fussy about which solitary pastry we would choose to enjoy, rather than just picking all of them! Laughter is a great medicine, and taking a moment simply to enjoy life opened my eyes to just how serious and sombre I was becoming.
Finally, when I was going through my photos I noticed a photo that was remarkably similar to one I had taken a few years ago before I joined spark people. I thought I'd share the before/ after picture with you:
It's not so much the weight loss that I notice in the two pictures, but the glow of health in the second one that I notice. Choosing to be healthy has made a huge difference in my life.
Oh, and I didn't gain any weight on the trip. I didn't lose any either, but I feel like I'm still on track towards my goal. Perhaps a little bit wiser about what I need.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Things didn't go well, yesterday. I sat in front of a computer screen for hours trying to get the words and the thoughts to flow, and they just didn't. Every so often I'd pop down to the kitchen for a cookie. By the end of the day I'd lost count over just how many of those cookies I had.
At about 5pm I decided it was time to stop. I was not achieving what I was hoping to and with every minute I was getting more and more frustrated and angry with myself. I was not going to get the writing done, and no amount of inner bullying was going to change the fact that I'd eaten more cookies than I should have. No amount of feeling bad about myself was going to change either of those facts, so I needed to stop and try to be more forgiving of myself.
I think I was trying too hard. I've been tracking and counting calories with the force of a Victorian school teacher and my inner cookie monster decided it was time to rebel. In thinking about it, something like that was probably due to happen. I don't respond well to strict regimes.
If I'm learning anything about writing, it's that it also doesn't like regiment. I had a goal that I felt I could reach, but the truth is that I haven't fully synthesised the concepts that I'm writing about. I have to be patient and keep grappling with it, and eventually my own arguments will formulate. I jumped into my work and forced myself to sit at the computer, when the reality is that I can't force it. Not me. I need to play with ideas. Otherwise I get stressed out.
Which leads me to thinking about food and stress.
I still turn to food when I'm stressed out. It's a quick stress relief. If I have time, I'll have a bath, go for a run, bake or play the piano - but in an immediate moment of "AAAAAAHHHHH" I eat a cookie. It stops the screaming. Just for that moment.
What can I do that has the same immediate affect but doesn't involve food?
Actually, I think I may just have had that "aha moment".
It may well be that there isn't an immediate plug for stress. It may well be that stress is the indicator that I need a serious time out. I need to stop everything and take ten minutes to re-group. Walk, sing, breathe.
I come back to the thought that I know what to do to help myself. Sometimes it's just easier not to listen and eat a cookie.
Fortunately, today is a new day. The good news is that my average weight is going down slowly. Slow is a very good thing, means it will be more permanent. I have the blessing of time, which means I don't need to rush into my work this morning so I can pay attention to my well-being. I'm almost certain that doing that will create the flow I need when I sit down to write later on.
And, yes, I threw out what was left of the cookies. Just in case I find myself returning to that old habit again today.
Saturday, July 05, 2014
The title is borrowed from a comment made by PMRUNNER on one of my previous blogs, where I was talking about needing to start tracking calories properly again. I've been thinking about this a lot over the last week as I've been getting back into the habit of tracking my calories.
I've adjusted my spark people weight goal to be back at my goal-weight within a month, which then automatically adjusted my calorie range down by about 300 calories. For some reason when that happened, I knew that I was actually committing to actively getting my eating habits under control again.
And that's when I realised that what I'm doing is not actually a diet, it is re-gaining control over my food intake. It's becoming aware, once again, of how many calories are in the foods that I'm putting into my mouth, and also knowing when to stop and tell myself that I've had enough now. Of course it's hard, but if this were easy no one would ever have a weight problem!! More than that, I'm also become a bit more aware of taking time to be active every day. I do have a good running regimen, but I understand now that that is so much a part of my life, that I need to add other exercise to help the weight drop. I'm not doing anything extreme - just making sure I head out for a ten to twenty minute walk on days when I'm not running. Small, manageable changes, just like I already know.
I've also started tacking my weight with myhackerdiet. My Sparkpeople weigh-in is weekly, but again, I was noticing that I was becoming selective for which day I would weigh in (the slightly lighter one, of course!!); Using the my hacker diet tool, I'll be tracking a weekly average, instead. This will hopefully keep me more honest with myself.
It does take will power. There are so many tools out there to help us, but it's my choice to use them, and to use them properly. They help me to do what I know I need to do, but more importantly, what I know that have the will to do.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
After all the drama with my foot a few days before the race, I ended up doing really well.
1hr58.46 was my finishing time and 1hr58.25 my chip time.
I decided to stick right next to the pacers for this race, which was probably the best thing that I could have done. Their coaching and conversation helped me through the hills, prevented me from slowing down more than I needed to and also taught me the value of how going faster in the flatter parts of the race can help to gain time when it comes to the hills. I've never run with a group before, but I've a feeling this helped me to surpass my goal time.
This was the Ards Half Marathon. The race was held in a town called Newtownards about a twenty minute drive inland from where I live. The race started at 6.30pm, so my first evening race, and the weather was kind. The sun came out around 4pm and it stayed that way for the entire race, making the views absolutely spectacular. I have to say that the scenery on the races here in Ireland make up for all the hills you have to run! As we climbed the first hill, we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Lough below. The hills were not steep, just a continuous steady incline. Most of the roads were small farm roads, which meant sheep in one field, harvesting crops on the next, and so forth. Although London races are flat, they simply cannot compete with this type of natural beauty. At the 8th Mile we arrived in Comber, the next town over and were greeted with crowds of people cheering us along - just what you need at mile 8!! There were also plenty of water stations, something that I've found a bit lacking in other longer races. Every two miles we had a water station, just enough for a few sips and to dunk the rest of the water down my back to keep cool. The amount of volunteers and police who were around to ensure our safety was incredibly impressive. It really was a superbly organised event, which made my experience absolutely wonderful.
I took advantage of the physio massage at the end of the race, not wanting to aggravate my foot pain. It was a short massage, but enough to loosen tight muscles and has meant that this morning I'm feeling ready to face the day. I also wonder if the fact that I got home and went straight to sleep also helped. The physio mentioned that my right calf muscle is very tight, suggesting that this could be what is aggravating my foot. It makes sense. If, after a week, my foot still doesn't feel right, I think I'll make an appointment with a physio just to see if anything can be done to ease this tension. I'm certain it's some type of inflammation, otherwise I don't think I would have been able to run as well as I did last night.
The pacer spoke to me after the race saying that he thinks I have a good ten minutes within me. He thinks I could work towards a 1.50 time simply by the fact that I was able to chat with him while climbing hills and the extra energy I had at the end of the race. It's a good goal to aim for, and may require joining a running club to reach, but if I've learned anything when it comes to running it's to keep things slow and steady. I've achieved a fabulous time for myself and need to sort out my foot before aiming to go faster. I think I'll focus on tempo in shorter runs for the next month or so, before going for my third half marathon of the year, where I'll aim to shave off one more minute from my time.
Something I always hold on to after achievements like this, is my first race five years ago now. This was a 5km event that I finished in 36 minutes, clinging to my water bottle and huffing and puffing all the way through. To see the progression to being able to do 21km in under two hours, with encouragement that I can do even better, always makes me proud of that first step I took towards a healthier life, when all I had was the dream to run steadily for thirty minutes. It has been a slow progression for me, but so very rewarding.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I'm a kilogram heavier. There's no denying it now, especially as the Maintenance Challenge has my average quite firmly set there. I'm still within my weight range, but, I think it is now time for the reality check.
I say this because last night as I was tracking my food I was not happy with the numbers and instead of accepting them, I found myself denying them. I knew that my morning portion of milk was more than one glass, but I didn't put down two glasses, I left it at one so that my calorie intake would look less!! I saw that my dinner intake was over 1000 calories, so I started playing with the numbers - I couldn't accept that it was so high!!
This morning, when I jumped on the scale, it was up again. It makes sense. My total calories yesterday was 2400, 600 more than it should have been. I don't like that. I tell myself it's salt retention, or hormonal changes. But I need to be honest now. 6 months ago my weight did not jump up and down by half a kilogram every day. It was much more stable.
This game of denial is a familiar one, and when it comes to spark people, the only person that I'm lying to is myself. Nobody else sees my daily calorie intake, nobody else looks at the scale. Perhaps I don't feel it matters enough because nobody else is looking, or because it's just a kilogram, or because right now I'd much rather eat another piece of chocolate?
But it does matter. It matters to me and my self-esteem. Sometimes the hardest thing in the weight maintenance/ weight loss journey is understanding my own self worth and looking at myself with complete honesty in the mirror, or as in this particular case, when filling in my calorie tracker.
I need to be honest. Healthy weight maintenance is about what I eat, and although I've managed to maintain my exercise regimen since moving to Ireland, I've not been as disciplined with my food intake. I've struggled to resist the sweet treats and I've told myself it's okay because it helps me to feel better. No, I'm not eating an entire box of biscuits or chocolates like I did three years ago, but I am turning to it and then not acknowledging just how much food I'm eating later on. I'm denying the struggle, pretending it's not there.
So I'm getting back on the wagon. Humbly. Honestly.
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