Monday, January 11, 2010
I've read a number of different diet books over the years. I never really found success with any one method, and in most cases, I didn't follow the advice with the proper conviction needed.
I've always liked the idea of vegetarianism, but my attempts to become a convert were futile. I found balancing essential nutrients much too difficult and time consuming. Unfortunately, I am unable to make it a lifelong commitment.
Over time, I ate a lot less meat than I used to, mostly because my portion sizes have changed. I used to eat 12 ounces of steak for dinner. I now eat 3-4 ozs per meal. I eat a lot more fish or chicken protein than beef these days.
My 'diet plan', if I have one, is a combo of calorie counting, principles of "Volumetrics", the "Zone" diet, and "cutting" fat like a body builder.
I really like the book "Volumetrics". I like eating mass quantities of food. Smart balancing of low calorie food that I can eat as much as I want, with high calorie foods like protein and starches, allows me to eat huge piles of food without breaking the calorie budget.
I'm lactose intolerant, so I don't use milk with cereal. My favorite breakfast is greek yogurt with whatever fruit I have on hand, and cereal. Sometimes I'll mix in peanut butter instead of fruit. Greek yogurt is much higher in protein and thicker than regular yogurt. Never buy yogurt in the containers with fruit. They have high fructose corn syrup mixed in, which really packs on the sugar calories. You get less food for the caloric buck.
Buy plain yogurt, and use your own sweetener. I use nothing but fruit as my sweetener. If that's too tart, so use honey or a small amount of sugar to your preference. You'll save a lot of calories in the course of a month if you eat it as often as I do.
I eat gigantic piles of salads stacked with my favorite veggies, with very light salad dressing. My favorite salad dressing has nearly no calories and tons of flavor. It's nothing more than a squeeze of lemon juice with a dash of salt and pepper. I eat this at lunch and dinner. Lunch/dinner has a 3 oz portion of protein, and 100 grams of starch, usually bread, rice, or potatoes. I pile on as many steamed veggies as I want. For a late day snack, I eat an apple or an orange. I feel like I've eaten a huge amount of food, and I never go hungry. I average around 1,400 calories per day.
Recently, I've begun studying bodybuilder diets. I'm not trying to be a body builder, but I'm trying to learn how to lose fat like one. How bodybuilders get those incredible ripped muscles is by training to bulk up muscle, which requires a massive amount of calories. You cannot build muscle with a calorie deficit, aka dieting. Fat is gained as well as muscle during the bulk up phase. It cannot be avoided. However, right before competition time, they begin dieting to shed the fat so their ripped muscles show.
I'm not studying how to bulk up; I'm studying how to shed the fat. You need lots of protein to bulk up, but I'm still working on how to maintain muscle and lose fat. The best I can tell, "Zone" diet ratios of 40/30/30 (carbs/fat/protein) are the best. I'm finding this difficult to achieve though. Breakfast and lunch are the easiest meals for me to control, but dinner is a challenge and usually throws my ratios off.
No matter what 'diet' plan I'm following, I always count my calories. I've found this to be my best weapon for weight loss and weight maintenance. Many people have goals to one day never track calories again. This is not my goal. I love journaling, and a food diary is just another type of journal. I actually like the historical record. When I stop tracking is when I get into trouble. So for me, calorie counting and tracking is part of my life long process.
Do you follow a particular 'diet'? Would you/are you able to maintain it forever?
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Overall, week 1 was mostly 'get back into the routine', so I didn't bulldoze right into it. I'm doing the same as I've always done, tracked what I'm doing, focus on one success at a time, and look at every thing as a small part of the big picture.
- Dragged my butt to the gym one day last week, despite my inner voice saying "I'm too tired." Getting back into the swing after a holiday is tough.
- Did the toning portion of my 'Gliding' workout DVD - got my legs to failure and then some!
- Went skiing on Saturday.
Areas for Improvement:
- Get back to the gym for 3-4 days worth of heart pumping cardio.
- 3 days worth of toning exercises. I did one last week.
- Getting back into the habit of tracking food after the holidays.
- Staying within my range of 1200-1600 calories per day.
- Drinking more green tea.
- Reading 'Volumetrics' for pointers on how to stay full on less calories.
- Setup a 'Diet' section in my OneNote notebook to save clippings related to diet and nutrition.
- Writing diet and fitness blog posts. Writing about motivation is motivating!
Areas for Improvement:
- Drank wine with almost every meal this week. I'd like to get this down to 1-2 nights per week. While I'm not drinking excessive amounts, it wouldn't hurt to lose the extra calories for a couple of days.
- Not staying withing zone diet ratios of 40/30/30 carb/fat/protein. My averages are more like 60/18/22. This isn't unhealthy, so not sure how realistic the zone diet ratios are for me. I'll have to continue to evaluate whether this is the best approach for me.
- Need to eat more salads. I haven't been taking a salad to lunch with me like I usually do.
- Signed up for ski lessons! Had first ski lesson on Saturday. Ski conditions were terrible, but got some useful pointers.
- Brushed teeth 3 times per day a couple of days last week, twice minimum. Working on making 3 times minimum a habit.
- Flossed a couple of times this week. Need to make once per day minimum a habit.
- Set up appointment for yearly physical with my doctor.
- Looked at requirements for re-enrollment at university. Can't do much until my boyfriend is back in employment, but still researching options.
- Logged into my personal webhost and setup the domains for my professional career blog. Hope to start on an action plan this week.
One of my goals is to join a spinning class at the gym. Riding my bike is one of my favorite things to do, and I've always wanted to try spinning. I'm going to wait until around March after the crowd dies down a little bit.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Before reading this post, I invite you to read my story about "commando crawling" down a slope that was too hard for me. www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=2575757 It was pretty much the classic beginner falling down the slope story.
I showed up this morning for my lesson to the worst ski conditions I have ever seen. Sometime during the night, snow turned to freezing rain, which left an ice sheet about a half inch thick all over the slopes. Only two lifts were working - one for the green, and one for the blue/black. The lines were atrocious as a result.
I went to my assigned ski group. My ski instructor asked me a bit about my experience. He sounded a bit skeptical when I said I had only been skiing about 2 years, but said if I needed to go down a level, it wouldn't be a problem. Most people were in the total beginner group, or the intermediate/advanced group. There were only 3 of us in the beginner group. We set off, waited in line forever, then finally met at the top of the lift.
The sheet of ice made things really scary. My skiis/boots were not responsive. It was very, very hard, but I was able to manage ok. One of the other guys was able to as well. The third guy plummeted with skiis flying everywhere. He said he had a previous knee and ankle injury, and hadn't skied in a long time. He was not able to make the turns at all. He got frustrated, and gave up completely.
I felt really bad for him. He apologized for holding up the class, clearly upset and embarrassed. I told him, "It's ok. The first day is just about getting used to being on skis again anyway. The ice on the snow is really awful." He seemed to feel a little better. Our instructor said he would put him in with the other beginner group, but I'm not sure he'll be back. He looked really demoralized. His confidence was shaken. You could see it. It's probably the same look I had after trying snowboarding.
We didn't get to do much after that because the lines were too long, and the conditions too bad. The instructor evaluated each of us. He asked what each of us wanted to get out of this. I told him a couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend and I came up there, and I was rocking the greens. Once we tried a blue, though, my confidence was shot and I couldn't make it down. I did not tell him about the commando crawl and the tree. Maybe at lesson 6!
I said I only started skiing a couple years ago, but I took to it very quickly. Probably because the balance is similar to inline skating. I said I had been able to do blue/easy blacks in the past, but I haven't skied a lot, so I don't yet have the muscle memory for it. He had an 'aha' look on his face.
He gave me a few pointers, and said if we worked on cleaning up my technique, then I should be able to do the blue runs ok. He said he noticed I was using too much upper body, and to focus movement only on the knees and feet. Good to know. I hadn't realized I was doing that. We'll work on that next week. Hopefully, with better snow!
Normally, I would practice on my own after lessons, but I decided to head home. I couldn't imagine being very productive on the icy slopes. I stopped for lunch at Chipotle and refueled my tank with my favorite - a steak fajita bowl with lots of tabasco sauce. Yum yum!
Friday, January 08, 2010
Just a fun, bonus blog for today. :)
Like many of you, I read the Spark article going around encouraging people to change their Spark names to reflect their positive selves, rather than be self deprecating. Are our online aliases a reflection of ourselves? If so, what does mine say?!
Valkyries are from Norse Viking mythology. They were servants of Odin, king of the gods. The Vikings believed that when a warrior died valorously in battle, armored maidens called the Valkyries collected their souls to take them to Valhalla. There, they would basically be manly men doing the things manly Viking men did, like drinking ale and starting bar fights. The Valkyries served double duty as barmaids, bringing them endless ale and roast mutton in Valhalla. Presumably, the Valkyries were probably pretty hot blondes getting their bums pinched by such a rowdy lot.
Anyway, the Viking souls would drink ale served by Valkyries and start bar fights with each other until Ragnorak, the end of the world, where they would be called upon to battle again. Hopefully all that ale and mutton for eons wouldn't leave them too out of shape to fight!
So why did I pick this name? Mythology and fantasy stories have always been my preferred fiction. I've always been drawn to the image of a 'warrior maiden'. When I played pretend as a child, I never imagined myself as the adored princess in the ivory tower. I imagined myself as the princess in shining armor. I imagined myself as Eowyn rather than Arwen, if you're familiar with Lord of the Rings.
The true mythological depiction of a valkyrie is actually pretty chauvinistic. However, I've taken up the symbol for many years and rebranded it as part of my own mythology. I've always been a very independent person, preferring to forge my own path rather than following one laid for me. Many of my friends would indeed describe me as a fighter. I hold deeply to my convictions. Perhaps because of my short stature (5'0"), I've learned to speak with an affirmative voice so that I am heard.
So I guess in this particular Spark universe, maybe my name means I'm a warrior maiden battling evil cupcakes, siren call of cookies, looming muffin tops, empty calories, and the tyranny of couch potato-dom. :)
Friday, January 08, 2010
If I made a list of the "Top Easiest Things I've Ever Done in My Life", weight loss wouldn't make it to the top 5, 10 or 20. It might make it somewhere near the bottom of the top 50.
Way to start off a motivational speech, eh? It's the truth.
Losing weight (and keeping it off) will be one of the hardest things you'll ever do in your life.
The statistics are against us. Only 5% of overweight people will lose weight and keep it off.
Most people have a goal to lose weight. "I want to lose weight before my wedding." "I want to lose weight before the summer." "I want to look good in a bikini." "I need to lose weight before my 30th birthday." "I want to weigh 130 because that's what I weighed in college."
They exercise, diet, lose weight and meet their goal. They stop exercising and dieting. The weight loss is short lived.
What you do today to lose the weight is what you will have to do forever to keep it off.
I'm not saying that to discourage you or scare you. I'm saying it because if you want to be one of the 5%, you have to change how you think about losing weight.
If it takes you an hour of exercise 5 days a week to lose 30 pounds, then you will need an hour of exercise 5 days a week to keep from regaining 30 pounds. The difference between 'dieting' calories and 'maintenance' calories is only about 200-400 calories per day for me. If I went back to eating double quarter pounders for lunch every day, I will be right back where I started.
Learn to eat and exercise as though you were already at your goal weight. Figure out how many calories you need to eat, and how much exercise you need at your maintenance weight. If you can do that, then you've got a good chance of making it.
If you find it difficult to eat the right amount of veggies and fruit, eat too many cookies, or can't exercise enough, don't despair. None of us were able to do it the first time we tried.
I've kept off 30 pounds for five years. When I first started, it was impossible for me to avoid the potato chips, cookies and candy. It was hard to eat fruits and veggies - they just didn't taste good.
I wanted to lose the weight and keep it off forever. That was my ultimate goal. So I learned to love veggies, fruit and exercise.
To paraphrase a great motivational speech that launched humankind to the moon:
Don't do it because it is easy. Do it because it is hard.
Sometimes when I get the urge to skip the gym, I'll remind myself how hard it was to lose the weight. I think about the nights alone when I cried myself to sleep. I think about how miserable I was. I think about how much I hated how people treated me. I think about how impossible it was for me to ride my bike up a hill. I think about how embarrassing it was to sit in movie theaters and airplane seats. I fear being a prisoner in my mind and body again.
Sometimes, I do take a break. Getting restarted after holidays and vacations are the toughest. Once I get back into a rhythm, it's easier. However, these things push me to go back. I've regained and lost about 5 pounds several times over the years. I've never regained over 10. The earlier I catch myself, the easier it is to get back on track.
Now I'm trying to lose another 10. It's as hard as it ever was. I'm doing it because an extra 10 pounds will make riding my bike, skiing, hiking, backpack camping, kayaking, and more just that much more enjoyable and productive.
All the things I did to lose weight, I'm still doing to keep it off. Exercise and diet. No short cuts. No tricks. Just plain hard work.
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