Tuesday, December 29, 2009
* First, I had a wonderful extended Christmas with my family and my husband's family. We were incredibly busy, and on the road every day, but it was worth it to spend time with the family, especially the ones out of state who we don't get to see very often.
*Exercise--I made my yearly goal! I hit 10,000 fitness minutes over the weekend, one of the best possible ways--playing with my niece at the hotel pool while my parents were helping prep for the holiday party. So yay me! And I even hit it early, despite the fact that I missed 3 of my normal workouts because of the holidays. I just realized that I never did pick a reward for hitting that goal--I will have to think of something, as well as figure out what goal I want to set for next year. I want to hit at least 10,000 again (this year was not typical in so many ways, not least of which because we moved and a number of our friends also did, and I counted all those moving days toward my fitness minutes), but I'm not sure if I should aim higher than that. I want a challenge, but also something that I could realistically attain, even with Life Happening.
* Food--well, I haven't entered 4 days into Sparks because I don't even know how to record half of the things we ate over the holidays, but I can just about guarantee that things Did Not Go Smooth as far as food was concerned. I ate too much, too many rich things, and far too much fast food because we were on the road so much. And I have to laugh, because my family--normally so health conscious, even at the holidays--had almost no healthy foods this year! Mom forgot to put out the veggie tray, the salad arrived late (and after I had already eaten about half of my food) and most of the rest of the vegetable options were high calorie dishes like my family's baked beans (soooo good though) and green bean casserole. There were whole wheat buns, but I didn't see them until after I had already served myself a white roll, and I confess I still like white anyway so figured I'd treat myself for the holiday. Oh well. I had a good time, I tried to watch my proportions and limited desert options, but I know I over ate and ate too many rich foods. I recorded what I ate in my fitness journal, since I couldn't really access the website while away, but I doubt I'll bother updating it in sparks. Nothing I can do to change what I ate anyway, so moving on.
*I soooooo did not want to go to the gym today, since I haven't been in 5 days. Be proud of me, though, I went anyway LOL. I procrastinated and so left late, but better late than never, right? *grin*
It's been a whirlwind week, and I have just a few days to get a breather before hitting New Years and then the holiday party for a group of our friends. After this weekend, though, things should (hopefully!) calm down some, though.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
It's late, and I should be on-line, but I'm wired and I don't know when I'll get another chance to post this week (and please forgive me for rambling. I'm wired, and yet tired--this is why I have insomnia issues), so....
I wish everyone who is celebrating a wonderful Christmas, filled with family, laughter, and joy. I wish all those who are on the road this week safe travels.
We're not really ready for Christmas this year, but that's okay. My biggest disappointment is that every single gift idea that I had for husband didn't work out, and I wasted too much time looking locally so now I have to order it on-line and it won't get here in time. I hope to at least think of a clever way to wrap an IOU tomorrow so he'll have something to open at least. I think he'll be okay with that (hopefully, anyway). But I feel bad that he won't have an actual gift to open. Other than that, though, we have all the gifts we need for this week/weekend, and all that's left is cooking and wrapping presents.
Other than that... it has been a really crazy couple of weeks. I don't like shopping much, so it's not something I do very often, but I feel like I've lived at the mall and other stores. We went to Borders at least 3 times in a week! Crazy. And exhausting. And every time we ate out or brought fast food home, I went over my calorie budget for the day. I confess I got kind of resigned to it. Not that I gave up, or stopped caring what I ate, per se, and I did try to make healthier choices (though the day we had pizza was a bomb, all the way around. My fat intake was 40% of my calories! I don't know that it's been that high since I joined sparks!) but a lot of times it was compromises.
I did find it funny that when we ate at home, though, like I did today, I nailed my dietary goals. Today I met every single one of them except too much Vitamin C (which is no big deal--it's water soluble) and not enough potassium, fiber (both of which, unfortunately, I am chronically short on both) and Vitamin A (which is no big deal because it is stored in the body and I get enough over time). But I hit every other one--calories, fat, carbs, protein, salt, iron, and calcium, and all the major vitamins but A. And I splurged and treated myself to a cup of Haagan Dazs chocolate ice cream, which is not low fat by any definition (fully loaded comes more to mind). And I still nailed my nutritional goals. It's when we eat away from home that I have trouble. So nutrition wise, the last couple of weeks have been a yo-yo. This holiday weekend, I have no idea how it will go. Other than the dish we're bringing to share (and we've been asked to bring homemade applesauce, which is pretty loaded as well) we don't have any control over the food other than whether or not we eat what's there. But I have decided that I will try to eat responsibly, watch my proportions, but if I go over my calorie goals so be it. I want to relax and enjoy the holiday and the company, not stress or go hungry trying to meet my calorie goals.
Exercise wise, the week has gone pretty well. I've gotten in another 115 minutes so far this week, with another 80 minutes planned tomorrow. As of today, I only have another 122 minutes to go, so tomorrow's work out will bring me really close to my goal for the year.
I had hoped to work out on Christmas eve, but that's not looking very likely as we have to get out the door pretty early and I just don't know if there will be time and get everything else done that we need to before we leave. Not and get sleep, anyway, and I don't want to be tired as it's going to be a long day--weekend, really--for us. I had already figured that I would not work out on Christmas day--the day is just too full. I know that other people work out as normal, even on the major holidays, but I don't think I can be one of them. Not this year, at least, not while we are juggling multiple family celebrations.
Friday, December 18, 2009
I'm doing better today. It just all kind of came together at once--the massive headache, the hormones, the stress of the holidays, the fact that when I tried on pants while shopping I still wear the same size, even though I'm 10 lbs lighter, and the fact that instead of making my mini-goal deadline, I actually gained 1.3 lbs when I weighed myself this week. Now that is very likely skewed by the fact that I forgot to weigh myself in the morning like I usually do and so weighed myself mid-afternoon, after eating, working out, and drinking about 6 glasses of water. But, it was disappointing, especially on top of everything else.
But today is better. I'm still stressed, and the disappointments for the week are still disappointments, but I feel like I have my feet back under me, have my perspective back--and I have my sparks friends to thank for that. Thank you, all of you.
I read an article this week about writing a contract for success:
One of the points in the article that I've been thinking about since then was about recognizing excuses for what they are--for me, the big three are probably "I'm too busy," "I'm too stressed," and "I'm too tired." While the time of year is definitely a factor in the last one, they are three related to the fact that even when I try to cut back, like I did this fall, I still always seem to take on too much. I'm often overwhelmed by my own life--everything from juggling holidays with various family members to managing household chores to visiting friends to "me" time to getting my own work done... I don't know why I have a hard time juggling all of this, or why I always seem to take on too much, but it's something I have been working on for awhile and obviously it's an area where there's a lot of room for improvement. Time management and stress management skills would also help make everything seem less overwhelming and more manageable, and that's yet another area that I've been working on with mixed success.
And all of that would be easier to stay on top on if it weren't for the fact that winter makes me want to curl up in a little ball and do nothing at all until at least April.
At least the stress/busy will be somewhat better after the holidays--we have a brief reprieve of January before we hit Birthday Month (when my husband, my brother, myself, and a bunch of our friends all have birthdays within a little over a month's span), which is almost as crazy in some ways as the November-December holidays. But after that... spring won't be so far away, and the days will start getting warmer and brighter and longer.
I have been fitting the work outs in mostly by making it one of the first things I do every day, after eating and drinking some water. I get up and immediately put on work out clothes. I try to be somewhat flexible about when/how I work out, though that's easier in the summer when I have a lot more options. And I'm trying to keep a balancing act between listening to my body (because I've run into the wall in the past, pushing too hard and making myself really sick) and ignoring the excuse of "I'm too tired."
I manage to eat healthy mostly by trying to keep healthy, yet easy, meals and snacks on hand, because I know that I'm more likely to eat it if it doesn't take a lot of prep time. We've been buying more fruits and vegetables, and I'm trying to remember to eat them. I also have been allowing myself to eat a mid afternoon snack if i start to get hungry about 3 or 4 pm--because if I don't, I'm starving by the time we actually eat dinner (usually around 8 pm, sometimes as late as 10) and will eat too fast, too much, of pretty much whatever is available.
But I'm having a harder time not resenting the time I spend eating (especially preparing foods) and at the gym, because they feel like they eat up big chunks of my day that could be used more productively.
I know that it's productive--that it's for my health, and that I'm worth it, that I deserve it. I know that my husband wants me to be healthier, too, and that he doesn't mind if I slack off on putting books away or whatever because I went to the gym instead. But I'm still having a hard time, in my innermost self, really believing it yet.
So that, too, is a work in progress.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
It seems like a lot of weeks lately could be labeled "rough week," I'm afraid. I've been really dragging lately--just really tired, all the time. All I want to do is sleep, and if/when I do get up (because I have stuff that needs to get done), all I want to do is curl up on the couch and be a sloth. I don't even want to read anything that requires any thinking--pure fluff only, preferably pure fluff that I have already read.
I'm not sure why. It might be that I'm fighting off a cold--I've been sick a lot this fall, and both my husband and I have been pretty congested etc.--the last week especially.
It might be because of the weather, which has been overcast, even misty. If so, I don't know what else I can do about it. I already have the "natural daylight" or whatever they are called light bulbs. I can't afford right now the true daylight lamp, but those help. We picked this apartment because it has big windows and gets lots of natural light--when it's available, at least. It's just that this week has had very little natural light. Yesterday was so misty that all I could see from my living room was the stark silhouette of the tree outside--beyond it's leafless branches, nothing but grey mist. Sky, ground--all blurred into a uniform fog, kind of beautiful in it's own way, but scarcely sunny.
Or it might be because of the bad headache I got over the weekend and just hasn't gone away. I haven't posted much this week, let alone get any work done on my dissertation, despite the fact that I have a half dozen blog ideas floating around my head, because I haven't been able to get past the headache. I finally took meds for it today--I don't like to take the medicine, because chronic pain killers really isn't a great idea and because I know that if you take them chronically, you can get rebound headaches when you stop taking them. But how often is too often? I get headaches pretty much all the time, every day--clearly that's too often, but nothing seems to make them go away. I don't even know what kind they are, as everything hurts--the back of the neck (tension) cheekbones/eyes (sinuses), temples (migraine?). I've seen the doctor several times regarding them, and have gotten no closer to fixing them. All that accomplished was it ruled out brain tumors and the like. But it was bad this week, to the point where I was barely functional, so I broke down and took painkillers. The headache is still there but at least it's more of a shadow of a headache now.
On top of that, I'm in the middle of PMS mess--cramps, moodiness/irritability, and a general malaise of just not feeling good. And it's really hard to feel positive and energized and motivated and generally productive when battling that hormonal mess. Especially when combined with brain meltdown--though the hormones may well be the reason behind the headache, come to think of it. Stupid body chemistry.
Add to that the chaos of the holidays and my husband working overtime on a project emergency, and it's not been my best week. Food has ranged from bad (1800-1900 calories) to disastrous (2400-2500 calories). I don't really feel guilty about it--I made decisions, sometimes not the best decisions, based on what options we had available at that time. So I wasn't as prepared as I probably should have been. I am annoyed that it's fast food that is tripping me up, not holiday food--I haven't had a single Christmas cookie or other holiday treat. No, it's been eating out while running errands/Christmas shopping that has been tripping me up. Even though I tried to pick healthier things on the menu, I still managed to get 800-1000 calories in one meal! Why is it that food when you go out to eat is so much more loaded in calories than what we routinely cook at home? It's not so hard to cook moderately with salt and fat and have something that is healthy and delicious, and yet restaurants seem to inject their food with extra calories. But we've been out running errands every day this week--we haven't been home to eat, let alone had time to shop for groceries, and so I tried to make do with what was available.
I am also frustrated because I seem to have a history of either managing to eat relatively low calories (say, 1200-1400) or I can exercise, but when I succeed at one the other invariably slips. I do not know why, but it's something I struggle with. Some day I'll find that balancing point where I am successful, at least most of the time, with both. Right now, though, I mostly concentrating on getting through each day as best as I can. And if some days I'm less than successful, I try to chalk it up to experience and move on and try to do better next time. It will be easier once the holidays are over and things go back to normal.
On the exercise front, things have gone pretty well, at least. Even though I have been really dragging and had to force myself to work out, every time, I did it. Some day I'd like to get to the point where I don't have to make myself work out, but for now I'm just happy that I've met most of my goals for this week. I skipped Monday, because I was still sore--my abs (turns out that was cramps. I've heard that crunches can help, long term, with cramps, but so far I can't say that I have seen any improvements there) and my calves, thighs, and knees all hurt. But I worked out the rest of the days. I have finished 150 fitness minutes so far this week--with another 80 minutes planned for tomorrow, putting me at a total of 9,648 minutes so far this year and only another 317 to go to meet my end of year goal. It's going to be tight still, with Christmas and New years eve in there, but it's doable.
So it hasn't been my best week ever, and I think it is important to be honest that I've been struggling, but I'm focusing on the positive. Despite the fact that I really didn't want to, I still made it to the gym every day but Monday, and I think I skipped Monday for good reasons. Even though I went over my calorie goals for the last 5 days or so, most of those days I still managed to burn more calories than I consumed, so while it wasn't great for weight loss it wasn't all that horrible. And if it's been a crazy, stressful, and chaotic week, it has also been a reasonably productive one.
Some days, I wonder that anyone would want to read my blog--I can scarcely be motivational when it seems it's just one rough spot after another, right? But then I remind myself, I'm still holding on here. I read somewhere that most people give up on a diet after only a couple of weeks. And while I really don't think of the sparks plan as a diet at all--and I don't think I'm well suited for a "diet" mentality--I have been sticking to this lifestyle plan, for better or for worse, for 8 months now--or ten months, really, since I started trying to get fit, lose weight, and eat better back in February. And while the ride hasn't been a smooth one, I'm still on it. Maybe by my fingernails sometimes, but I'm still here, and I'm still going.
Friday, December 11, 2009
While this week hasn't been perfect, I think over all I did okay.
Food wise, it was somewhat a mixed bag. Most of the week I did really well, eating within my calorie limits and even getting most of my nutritional ones (though Wed. I didn't get enough protein, a common problem for me). I've not really eaten enough vegetables and fruits (I never come anywhere near the 5-9 servings that are recommended) but I had some, and the rest of the food was mostly healthy.
Yesterday, however, I was pretty bad. It was really brutally cold and windy, and even our apartment was super cold because of the high winds--I just couldn't get warm. I mean, I was huddled under 2 blankets, wearing long johns under my pants, a turtle neck and a thick wool sweater, thick wool socks, and was STILL cold. Add insult to injury, my husband ended up having to put in a lot of overtime, more than expected, and it messed up our eating schedule. I didn't eat my normal snack, because I thought we'd be eating dinner earlier than we did, so by the time we ended up running to get fast food I was freezing and starving. We went to Wendy's--no problem, right, because there are healthy options. Except I need protein but don't trust commercial chili's (most chili doesn't agree with me) and I don't like baked potatoes unless they are loaded with fattening things like cheese. I often get salads, but I was so cold I wanted something hot and ended up getting a burger--and not a small burger, no, because I was so hungry, but a big one with lots of fixings. My meal ended up being 1300 calories!!!
The saving grace is that I always have a pretty small breakfast and had soup--so healthy and pretty low in calories--for lunch, so I ended up only going over my calorie limit by about 200 calories. And it was still under the calories burned for the day, so between that and the fact that the rest of the week went very well, I think I did okay.
Fitness wise, I did very well this week--met all my fitness goals, despite the fact that I was overly sore and tired on Wed. and ended up taking it a little easier on yesterday as a result. I ended up with a total of 310 minutes (strength training, cardio, and stretching) for the week (no plans to work out tomorrow; we're going Christmas shopping with my parents instead of yoga), with only 587 minutes more to go to meet my end of year goal. Whoo hoo!
I realized something today. I set goals and rewards for myself, but I have not yet once rewarded myself for meeting any of my goals, other than to post here about it. It's not that I haven't successfully hit any of my mini goals, whether it's to get enough exercise or drink enough water or eat well, it's just that somehow the rewards--things like reading time, or a hot bath--keep getting pushed to the back burner. I don't know if it's just that I'm too busy, too focused on getting through the next hour or whatever, or if it's because somewhere inside me I don't really think that any of these goals are really worthy of rewards, or maybe that the rewards aren't really a big deal, aren't important.
I don't know. But I may need to re-evaluate my goals and especially the rewards, because everything I have read says that setting mini goals and rewarding them is as important to staying focused and motivated as the big goals and rewards.
Some more things to be grateful for:
1) That it is less windy outside, which means that the apartment is actually the 68 degrees F the thermostat is set for and not 61 F. It is also marginally warmer outside-- the windchill is 5 F, not -5 F.
2) It's sunny today. Really, dazzlingly sunny. I haven't seen the sun in so long, it seems. It may be really cold out still, but it's good to see the sun.
3) When the apartment is cold, it's harder to convince myself to get out of bed, but once up it's easier to go workout because at least working out I'll be warm.
4) That it's Friday.
5) That I have never had to work retail during the holidays, and especially grateful that I've never had to listen to Donald Duck sing Christmas carols all. day. long.
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