Monday, November 22, 2010

Weeks 4-6: Smarten up by being dumb.

So, you know about my biggest issue — you know, the "eh, screw it!" problem. It has powered the weighty rollercoaster I've been riding since I was... 15, maybe.

"Eh, screw it!" is that heartbreaking (but frequently delicious) moment when for whatever reason I overindulge myself into the guilt sweats. It used to be a Thursday-night tradition that would last all the way to Sunday night. But this week, I finally had a break.

See, I was retaining some serious water last week. Even though I was getting in some incredible workouts, eating way right and feeling fab, I stepped on the scale Thursday morning to see... 129.0. (Insert expletives here.)

I was crushed! All that work for nothing. Sure, I knew it was a bad week for weigh-ins, but I was hoping for the best. And hope, it turns out, isn't a weightless thing. That and fem cycles weight a ton.

So, I stood at that crossroads: all that sacrifice and hardwork... and I gained two pounds: do I throw in the towel and be happy with my big butt? Or do I accept that not every week will deliver a weigh-in victory?

Thursday wasn't so bad. I made test-batch #1 of candied jalapeno-gingersnap bread pudding (it's for Thanksgiving), and only ate slightly more than I should have. But it wasn't a wasted diet day. Then something snapped on Friday. I don't even remember when it started or how it happened. I do remember there being a lot of chocolate, plenty of cookie cake, even more plenty of cookie cake frosting, too many bowls of Cinnamon Life, Crunch bars, 100 Grand bars... and that icky, icky feeling. You don't get more "eh, screw it!" than that.

It may have just been crazy-lady must-have-chocolate emotions. Exhaustion. Whatever. The difference between this moment and pretty much every other "eh, screw it!" weekend, however, was that I cut it super short.

I woke up early on Saturday, got eating right from the start. I cut way back in a healthy way on my calories that day (still maxed the protein), drank oodles of water and tea, and completed a challenging day of workouts and housework. Same for Sunday. While I realized all wouldn't be saved by two days of super-behaving, I hoped I'd at least not go up on the Monday-morning weigh-in.

Efforts rewarded.

When last I wasn't retaining too much water, I weighed in at 127.4. This morning I was 126.2. So, I'm just a tad behind on my pound-a-week quest, and more than five pounds down from the starting line. I'll take it!

But "eh, screw it!" faces a seriously challenge this week: Thanksgiving 2010. Not only am I eating the family dinner, I'm cooking it too.

My bootcamp trainer does a great job of passing on useful diet/fitness info. One of the recent articles was about preparing yourself for the big holiday dinner, avoiding a bulge battle and gearing up to not overdo it. Sure it sounds a little bit crazy, but admitting you have a problem is the first step. Step #2 is doing something about it.

So, here my now: I will break into the 125's by Thursday morning weigh-in and not weigh more on Monday morning.

Dear Thanksgiving,

You will not defeat me this year. You are delicious. But you are my bitch.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week three: Let me hold that water for you.

Step challenge reports were due at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and I was really pumped to turn in 571,504 steps for my team-of-five! The goal is 70,000 steps per person per week; my team averaged 114,300.

You'll be happy to know I didn't do all the steps for them. They're just awesome.

What was I responsible for? 204,611. It averages to 29,230/day, which I'd like to take up to 30,000/day this week. While it's easy to pick up 35-40K steps on boot camps days when I cycle for 45-60 minutes in the morning, boot camp for an hour and then run for another 30-45 minutes, less intense days are harder to step up.

I tried to even out my "rest" days with a pretty intense weekend: close to four hours cycling, plenty of dance cardio, circuit training and aerobics. On Friday I decided to aim for a 100K weekend — 50,000 steps each day — but I only eeked out about 82K.

The 100K killer was my tight right calf. I'm done taking chances, so I laid off running for the weekend, which would have surely put me over the 100K line. Another weekend is here, and another shot at 100K.

The problem with 100K, however, is it takes so much time. While I'm used to devoting plenty of time to fitness, 100K might be taking a little more of it than I'm able to give right now. Thanksgiving is fast approaching — I have rooms to prime and paint, curtains to hang and mantels to perfect. At least plenty of those activities have step conversions, so it won't be a total wash.

What also hasn't been a total wash is the weight-loss plan. I'd pie-in-the-sky dreamed the step challenge would magically melt away pounds, but turns out I still like pie and foods that purposely melt.

Actually, the diet hasn't been that bad: I had my trainer analyze my nutrition log — yes, I included the sweet binges that I've cut back on ubermuch — and the usual suspect (protein) wasn't appearing in enough of the scenes. I had thought that 50g of protein were sufficient for me; he suggests 60-100g per day for my activity level. Makes sense.

I struggled the past week to fit in that extra protein without a ton of calories. Sure, you can throw in some balsamic grilled chicken breast, but how many times can you eat that? I made a pretty decent salmon salad and figured other ways to add animal to my diet.

The problem is I've been really content with what I've been eating the past few weeks (and I don't really like animal). Plus, it's been effective for my weight-loss plan. So, I'm going to try adding a sunny-side-up egg atop my morning oatmeal, continue eating my daily protein bar and gnaw on a chicken breasts in lieu of an afternoon snack.

All that food adjustment, however, through the pound-a-weight off a bit. My Monday weigh-in was higher, per usual. And this morning I weighed in at 127.4 — 0.2 pound off last week.

According to my scale and how I feel, I know I'm retaining plenty of water, despite how much water I drink every day. So, I'm going to hope for the best next weigh-in. Just bad time of the month to be weighing myself, I suppose.

Perhaps by next week I will have given all that water back, stayed on diet track and entered the realm of 126 — a place I haven't visited in quite some time. I welcome you dear random number. I welcome you with open arms.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week two: three parties, one holiday and a C+ performance

The 10,000 Step Challenge couldn't have arrived at a better time: three parties, plus trick-or-treating over three days. How's that for a holiday test scenario?

But first, the rest of the week!

Well, boot camp finally broke me. And all it really took was a bad night's sleep.

By Monday I was still sore from the previous week's boot camp and at-home exercises. I definitely pushed my upper body and core more than necessary outside of boot camp, and I paid for it that first day. Top that with no sleep all weekend, and I wasn't looking great.

The circuit was a rough go as it was, and in the final 10 seconds of knee-in planks at the end of a 10:00 ab sequence, I just had to hold plank and pray for the end. I survived, but felt a little wussy.

You know how they say missing just a little sleep goes a long way? They're not lying. While I picked up some decent hours into Tuesday, I was still operating on a deficit. The same into Wednesday. In fact, when I loped into boot camp on Wednesday, I knew it wouldn't be pretty. It wasn't.

Let's just say in the middle of suspended push-ups (with feet in suspended straps, alternate knee-in and push up), I had to break — even from holding a steady plank. It always bugs me when people just give up on an exercise, but that was me last week. I just had nothing left.

I survived that session, nevertheless, and tried to catch up on my zzz's the rest of the week. And by Friday, I was on a better track. I hit the road with a running gang on Friday night — DH, E-Speed, NB and I covered about 4 miles over 10 intervals. It was my first really chilly run, but was a nice warm-up to the rest of the weekends workouts and parties.

We went straight from the run to party #2 (#1 was earlier that day), wear I arrived dressed as Forrest, Forrest Gump.

I knew ahead of time this week would be filled with temptations and over-eating obstacles. We took my co-worker out to lunch on Thursday and three parties in store for the weekend, and then candy all over the place on Halloween. Just look at a small portion of the spread from the daytime work party:

My approach: avoid the sweets/carbs and use a small dish. So, at work I used a small cup for all my food. Typically, I fill a plate with everything at once, scarf and go back for more until my stomach tears and I sweat with guilt. With the cup, I just took one thing at a time, ate and tried a little of something else. It worked really well, and I ate plenty of a deelish broccoli salad and my own butternut squash soup.

The problem came when I helped with cleanup. I hate throwing away food and found myself just popping extras in my mouth. Bad, bad girl! It wasn't too awful. The three pieces of pizza at party #2 later that night, however, were a little excessive. Even if I did skip the cookies. For the most part.

Saturday started with the second annual Halloween run in the Metroparks. Jen and Sara took me on my longest no-break run yet, and it couldn't have felt better. Prior to this soft-ground 5-miler, I'd only run one mile sans breaks. They were terrific company and support on the go. It was super, too, to spend a very sensible breakfast (two sunny-side eggs with wheat toast and green tea) with the speedy ladies.

That 5-miler wouldn't make up for the slightly more indulgent Saturday party #3. I did manage to avoid most sweets (seriously: there were cupcakes there, and I only had one small swipe of frosting off one of Neil's) — I grabbed a couple cookies to eat with some baked apples. It was the uber-fresh pumpernickel bread that did me in. And the spinach dip. Then the spicy guacamole that showed up a little later. So, the carb-ditch didn't exactly pan out at #3. I get a D+ there.

But where do I get an A-? Halloween. I walked to the store Sunday afternoon and picked up $30 of candy, including a bag of Dove dark chocolate for home. I had one Dove on the walk home and one much later that night. I handed out all the candy, and ate none myself — even when I was sitting by myself waiting for the rush to happen. Not one.

Sunday was a generally good day on the diet front, and I just crossed my fingers that I hadn't done too much damage. Plus, I ran a pretty consistently paced 5.25 miles @ 9:00 pace on Sunday (well, last mile was 8:13... but that was fun) and walked quite a bit scoping out Halloween scenes in the neighborhood after candy ran dry.

Whenever I have one party — let alone three! — I wake up on Monday morning and weigh 133-something. That's the norm. That's my party weight. That's my upper threshold. I don't ever want to pass 133, and I was kind of hoping not to touch it again. But I knew the trends. I knew what I had done.

So, I step on the scale in Monday's dark morning: 129.4. Not too, too bad!

I realize it's almost a full pound more than last week, but it could have been much worse (and often has been worse). So, I'll take it. Sure, some of it's water weight, bloating, sugar lumps. It still looks like 127 will have to wait for next week. I give myself a C+ for handling these holidays, and plan to tweak my approach for at least an A- Thanksgiving.

At least I have thousands of steps to help me along the way.

Make that 33,000 steps, chump.

The 10,000 Step Challenge at work kicked off on Monday. After adding up my weekly activities, I decided to aim for an average 20,000 steps each day. Some days are bound to be steppier than others; twice the minimum for fitness seems pretty sane.

Monday, however, was totally insane!

I've been cycling 5-6 days a week since September and building up from 10 measly minutes at first to 45 Monday morning. My goal is at least an hour cycling each day, filled with plenty of intervals and high-tension that will get me set for spring.

It will also get me set for the step challenge! Great thing is that other exercises count too, and I'm using a conversion chart to get credit for my extra activities. So, 45 minutes of cycling? About 9,000 "steps" (45:00 x 200 steps/min).

Now that's the way to step off on the right foot!

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring home my pedometer, so I missed the 1,000 or so steps I would have accrued getting into work. But I walked and worked out enough during the day, I think it'll just be a wash (remind me I said that when my team loses by less than 1,000 steps!).

Sixty minutes of fitness boot camp right after work racked up 10,680 steps (60:00 x 178 steps/min for circuit training), even though six-minutes circuits involving pushing a 35-lb plate across the floor, wall sits and rowing burpies with 20-pound weights seems worth more to me than the morning pedaling!

Then I ran with E-Speed and DH when I came and walked back to their house for some pretty great steps. My pedometer read for the day was 13,000.

Grand total: 32,680 steps.

I figure with the missed a.m. steps I would have hit 33,000, which will be my new active-day goal. Two of my teammates came in with 12,000 and 19,000, so I think we're on solid ground. Go, Team Awesome!