(This entry was under construction all day, but it's finally done. Ish. Unless I find more typos. Or think of something new to ramble about.)
In my previous blog I mentioned my cautious nature when it comes to any lifestyle change. In my teen years I was the queen of self-help books and grand schemes with elaborate to-do lists and schedules. I'm 55 now. Meh. It'll get done when it gets done. ;)
I'm also a realist about my own character. I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a little bit lazy. (Most nerds are. We look at processes and tut-tut over any wasted time or energy. We learn keyboard shortcuts on our computers because moving our hands away from the keyboard to grab the mouse slows us down. On the microwave we punch in 33 seconds instead of 30, because it saves motion. We multi-task because, well, because we CAN.)
It's not a whiny, somebody-else-do-this-for-me kind of laziness. It's more of an I-can't-be-bothered-with-ineff
So what does that mean for the year ahead? In terms of health, wellness, and fitness I know of 4 areas that deserve my microscopic nerd-attention this year (in alpha-order, not necessarily priority):
I'm really pleased at my improvements over where I was in January 2012. I'm much stronger physically than I was last year. I've been concentrating on gradually building strength in my shoulders, arms, thighs, and upper back. It must be working because I can now literally throw a BRM document storage box to the top of the filing cabinet without even getting a wind-up. Those hold about 4-5 reams of paper when filled, so I'm guessing they're about 40 pounds?
I can jog (in heels!) from my car to the front door of my workplace (normally a 2-3 minute walk) without getting out of breath. This may not seem like much to anyone, but I have done absolutely NO treadmill or running training this year, just squats, weights, and some daily walking late in the summer.
My absolutely least favorite training area is abs, but even there I've made some progress. I still can't do a single traditional sit-up, but I can do leg lifts, which I failed at last year.
I made an attempt to work some cardio in, but I still haven't found the magic key for that. My Zumba set only works when everyone's out of the house (like they all were during marching band season).
So, I need to set my nerd-powers to working on finding time to walk at work - even if some days it's only taking the long way to my car at the end of the workday - and adding at least one "sprint session" a week. I don't think I'll make much improvement in abs until I actually lose a bit more weight, since most of my excess is right there. Once I get these first two more important tasks incorporated into my life then I'll turn my attention back to my core. And possibly some running, but only if it's fun.
There's a lot to learn about this subject. I mean, a LOT. And science has barely even scratched the surface of understanding it all. One precious thing I've learned in the last 18 months is that almost everything I know (or, at least, everything I KNEW) is wrong.
Of course, It's better to at least KNOW that your ideas are wrong. Then you stand a chance of learning what the truth is. At least "your" truth.
One truth I learned last year was that the things that allowed me to lose the first 25 pounds almost effortlessly were not going to help very much with the next 25. It was time to put my thinking cap back on. And I did do some thinking and some experimenting. I have good news to report.
Two things that hold me back from losing more fat are (probably) not being able to lower my calories below 2000 very often, and still dabbling in a few more carbs than I should.
The calorie situation arises because I don't like feeling hungry, so I end up eating something every 2-3 hours most days. More on that below.
The too-many-carbs issue is directly related to stress levels. During the day it's generally linked to the mental load I'm carrying at work. I'm pushing grey cells to the limit too often; at 55 I don't multi-task well at all, but that is still exactly what my job frequently requires.
M&M's to the rescue. The little glucose jolt of a single peanut-filled candy actually makes me feel mentally clearer almost immediately. I may only eat 4 of them per day, but I think that's 4 too many.
Solution? Not sure. Part of it is to put my foot down on my managers' dumping more tasks on me without evaluating how much I already have to do. There are people in my office literally surfing the web most of the day and taking long breaks, while I'm still working through my lunch. I've pointed this out to my Senior Manager, and he is sympathetic to finding a solution, so I have some hope there.
The other major stressor is my free-form evenings. I thrive in a structured environment. Unfortunately, my evening "structure" is akin to a cardboard shack. - flimsy at best. There is no rhythm and no rhyme. This makes it all too easy for me to fritter my time away, and then stay up late, which messes me up for the entire week. There is no doubt that I would be less hungry all day and all evening if I wasn't also physically fatigued by coming up so short on rest (less than 6 hours a night on average during the week).
I don't know if there really IS any solution to that. Please. Nobody tell me to go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night. That's totally not the issue. I actively FIGHT going to sleep because I don't like it. It's a control thing. I rather doubt that I will make any progress on this concern this year, but I at least have to document it.
Getting back to the hungry-every-2-to-3-hours problem. I think I may have kicked that one in the butt. I started suspecting that what I was calling hunger was actually borderline heartburn. Not bad enough to actually CALL it heartburn (I haven't had any of that since I started low carb a year and a half ago) just sort of a "sub-heartburn" feeling of discomfort. I decided to try probiotic supplements a few weeks ago as an experiment and it has made a very noticeable difference. I can actually stretch out my meals much more comfortably now.
There are other "hungers" out there that I am learning to identify, now that the major 3 hungers are at bay (the metabolic hunger is controlled by low carb eating, the physiological hunger seems helped by the pro-biotics, and the I'm-really-thirsty-not-hungry hunger is very easy to identify now).
The next hunger bastion I will tackle is bored eating. That is closely tied to the stress/mental fatigue eating I do at work.
About mid-summer I started looking at choosing better quality food options. There are a bunch of reasons for me to finally do this.
In the past I'd never taken the whole organic movement very seriously. (That's ironic, since I grew up KNOWING that I was spoiled by my grandparents raising most of the fruits and vegetables in my diet, as well as ALL the eggs. Mostly what we had to buy at the grocery store was meat, milk, and grain products.)
I think when you're already overwhelmed by being overweight and hungry all the time, the macro-problems of obesity/cravings/hunger take precedence over the micro-problems of food quality.
Now that the macro-problems are quieter, the micro-problems are speaking to me.
I think I still might not have been turning much attention to organic products and paleo-eating concerns if my husband weren't having so much trouble with his mystery allergy. We don't know what causes it, though I've often said I think it's likely to be caused by some type of additive. Lo and behold, he is frightened enough by the wildness (and seeming randomness) of his reactions to not give me a hard time over buying the much more expensive organic alternatives to (in particular) his favorite processed foods. So here's what I've changed to organic and/or paleo-friendly so far:
~ Organic ketchup, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, canned tomatos
~ Chunk cheese instead of shredded, organic when I can afford it
~ Home-cooked deli meats (real roast beef, ham, and turkey breast - hoping to find a cheap deli slicer soon)
~ Organic canola-based mayo (yes, I know it's not perfect, but I tried making my own and I simply WON'T do it again. This is still better than the soy alternative.)
~ Organic cage-free eggs at least 50% of the time
~ Organic milk for the boys
~ Organic produce when it's affordable/available
This year I'm hoping to get DH interested in hitting the local farmers' markets and trekking occasionally out to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. This is going to be a long slow process for us, and it's not helped by the fact that DH is currently laid off and money is tighter than a duck's be-hind. Still, it's heartening to find that the biggest bonus to eating organic food is that IT ALL TASTES BETTER!!!
See entry above for FAT. Yup. Said it all there.
So, that's my very long-winded plans for this year. If you made it this far you deserve a goodie on your SparkPage.