Thursday, September 24, 2009

Will Update Soon!

I will be updating soon. Busy week :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

ZigZag or Calorie Cycling, Low Energy Days, Etc

The Crazy Exercise Week Finally Hits Me

Yesterday was Day 6 on the P 90 X program. "Kenpo X". Kicking, punching, jabbing, hooking, hammering, swording and lots of yelling. I woke up yesterday, as I have every day this past week, fully intending to fit my workout into the day.

The previous 5 days of workouts finally caught up to me. I had ZERO energy.

I spent most of the afternoon in bed, intending to take a nap, hoping that would help, instead screwing around on my laptop but still "resting". Still no energy.

I ate a big bowl of cereal around 3pm, hoping the extra carbs would get me going. Nope, didn't work.

In addition to the low energy, the scale has only budged 1/5th of a pound ALL WEEK. Those of you familiar with dieting know the frustrations of a plateau. And a plateau is frustrating ENOUGH when you're doing things "mostly" right. You can sort of, in the back of your mind, come to terms with a plateau if you know there are things that you could be doing differently or better, but you're just choosing not to do things 100%, and when 90% *used* to be good enough to lose 1-2 pounds a week, and now it's not - well, you still have that extra 10% as your ace in the hole to get things going again.

I had no ace :( Not only did I eat completely clean during the week, but I also exercised at LEAST 90 minutes a day, with this crazy P 90 X deal. And I mean REAL exercise, not just bouncing around the room with my heart rate at a comfortable 125BPM. I mean the quads-and-glutes-intense Plyo. 150 pushups Arms and Back interspersed with an equal number of pullups and chin ups for an hour. The crazy 90 minute upward dog/downward dog/runners pose/warrior 1-2-3 side bend triangle bend twist etc etc over and over for FORTY straight minutes followed by 40 more minutes of stretches and balances - I was MOVING and I was sweating and my heart rate was through the ROOF even with the yoga!

All this, and not even a QUARTER pound move in the scale.

Evil Bathroom Scale!

NOW, I will be the first to tell anyone ELSE, that if they are engaging in an intense fitness program, and dieting, that they should not even OWN a scale, and instead should rely on the tap measure, and body fat, and how their clothes fit, to determine their progress.

Yeah, I'm one of those. I should take my own advice, and too often I don't :)

So I was a tiny bit dejected from my admittedly unhealthy dependence on the scale for validation. And I was also super tired, so tired that I considered going off-program and making yesterday my rest day instead of today. And I decided that I would make Saturday a "treat day" - I think I've written before about the pretty-well-known fact that if you are plateauing, and you want to get things moving again, a couple of days of higher-than-normal calories usually does the trick. In my experience, for whatever reason, this doesn't seem to work if I simply eat larger portions of the foods I usually eat, which is pretty much vegetables, strawberries, a banana every now and again, chicken, fish, and whey protein. For me, it has to be an increased number of calories consisting of foods I *don't* usually eat, and the scale gets going.

Intentional Cheating

So I asked Jen (my housemate) if she wanted to go to Carabbas for dinner. She's *sort of* on board with me on the healthy eating journey, although this week she appears to have faced some challenges of her own in the form of a huge plate of WHITE FLOUR spaghetti and meatsauce. But that's for her blog, not mine :) So when I invited her out for this treat night, she said her husband was already planning to barbeque ribs. RIBS!? Those aren't even allowed in the house haha. But whatever - if I am going to have a treat day I'm NOT going to do it with gross fatty ribs that I don't even like. So I decided, since no one else in the house likes Indian food and I love it, I would go get some takeout while they chowed down on their bone-in heart attack meat.

The Incredible Shrinking Appetite

Now here was a cool thing!! In the "old days", when I would get Indian take out, I would get Saag Paneer (creamed spinach with cheese cubes), mali kafta (vegetable and cheese balls in a heavy fatty yogurt sauce), navratan korma (vegetables in a creamy fatty yogurt sauce), chicken tikka masala (white meat chicken in a heavy fatty tangy tomato cream sauce) and an order of naan bread. And if I wanted to pretend I was being healthy, I would get aloo gobi (cauliflower, onions and peppers in a spicy tomato sauce). All this would come with 2 or 3 pounds of white rice. And I kid you not, I could eat ALL of this food in 2 or 3 meals in a 24 hour period. That's like 7 POUNDS of food. Crazy.

So here's what happened last night. I was so pleased. When I went to the website to look at the menu and think about what I'd like to have on this rare "treat day", I looked at my usual choices. I had NO desire to have pretty much any of them. The thought of all that fat and carbs sitting in my stomach weighing my body and mind down really grossed me out. Mali kafta? Too heavy. Saag paneer? Too fatty. Naan? Absolutely nothing redeeming in white greasy bread, no thanks. Navratan korma? Waaaay too greasy! Here I was, giving myself permission to eat anything I wanted - and I didn't want it.

Now THAT is progress. And in the grand scheme of things, much more important than a pound or two downward trend on the scale.

So I ended up ordering the aloo gobi cauliflower, which from what I can tell is probably the healthiest dish on the typical Indian menu. I got the chicken tikka malasa with the intention of taking the chicken pieces out of the sauce and just eating those. I called up, placed my order, and took the 20 minute ride to pick it up.

On the way I stopped at Starbucks to get a "skinny iced cinnamon dolce latte". Again, even on the "treat day" I opted not to get the full fat, full calorie version of my fave drink. I was proud and the weather was fine and the convertible top was down, and I was on my way to pick up a relatively healthy treat meal, and my energy was picking up.

By the time I got home, about an hour after I dragged myself out - pleasant surprise! I had enough energy to get through the kenpo dvd. I decided to take advantage of this burst of energy, and I put my meal in the kitchen, went upstairs, did the DVD and really enjoyed it , came back down, and served myself a plate.

Another eye opener. I measured out a cup of rice - that looked like more than enough. I spooned an appropriately generous serving of the aloo gobi onto the rice. As planned, I forked the pieces of white meat chicken out of the dish, and onto the rice. I looked at the plate. It looked like a ridiculously huge amount of food. I remembered that I used to eat two or three plates of the same quantity of food for one meal. I thought to myself - how on God's green earth did I ever get so much FOOD into my stomach? Since no one else in the house enjoys Indian, and since Jen is trying to be healthy anyway, I dumped the remaining food - which was most of it, unfortunately - down the garbage disposal, before I sat down to eat.

This one plate of food looked like way more than I'd be able to eat, and as it turns out, it was. I ate about half of it, hardly any of the rice since rice doesn't really offer much in terms of nutritional value. I put the unfinished half into the garbage disposal as well, and I headed upstairs to do some yoga before bed.

Zig Zag or Calorie Cycling

I have read a bit online about the concept of "cycling" or "zig zagging" calories in order to confuse the body out of settling into a new, lower caloric intake, which, when the body gets used to the lower calories, due to the adaptation, can cause plateaus and slowed weight loss. On the 3 Fat Chicks Forum I found a link to the Zig Zag calculator. This is a calculator that allows you to plug in your weight, and it will give you 7 days of varied calorie intake, depending on what your goal is. They offer an "extreme weight loss" calculation, a standard weight loss, maintenance, weight gain, and extreme weight gain. The extreme weight loss was way too low for my current activity level - an average of less than 1400 calories a day. At my current weight, the daily intake average is around 1800 calories for standard weight loss, with two days of the week exceeding 2000 calories (not by much but still, having 2000 calorie days on any weight loss plan seems pleasantly high). I'm figuring that since my BMR is around 1500, and I do at least 600 calories a day of exercise, plus another 200-300 a day just walking around doing things throughout the day, the math would figure that I could lose a pound a week eating an average of 1800 calories. And since I haven't been losing a pound a week even eating 1300-1500 calories and doing all this exercise, I might as well give this a try, since my anecdotal experience has proven that when I go up and down in calories for a period of time, I lose. When I stay the same, I tend to level off pretty quickly.

So if any of you have tried, or are going to try, this method of body confusion for weight loss, please post here and let me know your experiences. I'm curious to see how it works! I will be trying it myself. I put my scale in the closet today - two weeks of daily weighing hasn't done me much good. So I will pull it out again in another 2 weeks time, and see what's doin' then.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Personal Trainer

My personal trainer has no large intestine. She is my age, perhaps a few years younger, and she is a colon cancer survivor.

This introduces an interesting dynamic into our relationship. She once weighed 130 pounds of fitness and muscle. Due to her illness, and the resulting aftereffects, she now weighs under 110. We were at the YMCA yesterday; usually we work out in my home gym but yesterday was our scheduled 30 day fitness assessment, and we needed to use some equipment that I don't have. So after the assessment, we went to the locker room to fetch our purses and she decided to get on the scale. She was devastated to see that her weight is down to 104 pounds. She's 5'7". Needless to say, she's very thin and she does not like it.

So she and I are working toward fitness from opposite ends of the spectrum. One could easily and rightfully say that my challenge is much easier than hers - I do, after all, have a fully functioning digestive system and as far as I know all my hormones and blood levels and everything else that goes into weight management are in check. I just need some behavioral modifications, and I am working on them.

When we are working out together and I see us in the mirror, I feel like a big, bulky oaf. She has looked at herself in the mirror while next to me and said "Look at this!", grabbing her upper arm with her fingers nearly touching around it. "My arm used to be as big as yours!"

A large part of my own career involves coaching and motivating and helping people set and reach goals. One day this week, while my trainer was coaching me through the "Arms and Shoulders" DVD on P 90 X, she said "I wish I could do this with you. It looks so great!" I said "Why CANT you do it with me?" She said, "Because I'm here to help YOU". I told here there is NO reason, especially not some established trainer/client dynamics expectation, why she can't work out along side me, while we train. I've been working out long enough that for the most part, I know the moves. I just need the scheduled appointment of someone showing up at my house so that I can't make ANY excuses. I have to do the program. She serves that purpose well.

And I think it would be an interesting symbiosis, to work together toward a common goal. Right now, the differences in our bodies as we look at ourselves in the mirror together are exaggerated. But we're both traveling down different roads to the same destination - a body we can look at in the mirror that doesn't reflect our past tragedies and transgressions, but instead reflects the present care and love and time we are investing in making those bodies as healthy and beautiful as they can possibly be. I think I will talk to her about directly creating a plan to arrive at this same destination together.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mexican Chicken Soup with Arms and Shoulders

Chicken Soup, Soreness, Etc.

Today I made some very healthy and yummy "Mexican Chicken Soup". On Tuesday, I made a huge batch of salsa, and since I don't eat corn chips, and that's really the only thing I love salsa with (besides eggs, which I"m not eating too much of either these days), I decided I would use the salsa as a base for a soup. It came out quite good! Here's what I put in:

3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 cups home made salsa
1 can black beans
1 can cannelloni beans
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms
1/2 red onion
3 shallots
3 red peppers
1 can corn

What Would Go Well With This Soup?
I cooked this in the slow cooker for about 6 hours. We had it with salad. My housemate said, "You know, this would be really good with some brown rice or macaroni in it". While I know brown rice is healthier than white rice, I still don't feel my best eating it - she knows it :) I also DEFINITELY don't eat macaroni - wheat or white or anything. She knows this too. While I agree with her that a starch would have made the soup yummier and more filling, macaroni and rice is not in the plan! I suggested that a hot fudge brownie sundae would be an EXCELLENT complement to the dish. She suggested a loaf of bread with a stick of butter. I suggested a rack of ribs with sugary barbeque sauce. We broke out in laughter and continued on with our healthy soup and salad meal.

I did the arms and back DVD of the P 90 X workout. It was awesome! Probably the toughest upper body workout I've done since I started this journey in June. Hammer curls, tricep extensions, seated Congdon curls, side lat raises, and some crazy thing at the end which is like a push up lying on your side. I managed to get about 6 of these out of my right side and three ridiculous looking reps on my left side, because I was so tired from all the arm work during the previous 40 minutes of the workout. But all in all it was great.

Yay, I'm So SORE!
My shoulders and pecs are still a bit sore from the 150 pushups I did on Monday. Finally! I was starting to think there was something wrong with me, or at least something wrong with the way I was working out, due to my lack of soreness. While I know soreness is not MANDATORY for resistence training, it's definitely a marker of pushing one's self. So Yay, I am sore today! Quads are still feeling Tuesday's Plyo routine. The soreness is nowhere NEAR what I experienced back in June when I went from completely sedentary to starting my workout. Back then after the first day of legs I could hardly WALK. Literally, my legs would start to give out from under me when I walked across the street. I have yet to come anywhere close to that level of soreness. But I'm pushin' for it - in a healthy way :)

Today - Day 4 - Is Yoga
Today's P 90 X DVD is Yoga X. I've only done a few sessions of Yoga, back in July before I moved from NYC to FL, and I loved it. I am looking forward to this. I'm finding it important to time my eating with my workouts, in terms of energy levels. And so, I will wait until about an hour after dinner to do this DVD.

Water Weight - Water - Wait!?!?!

Do what I say, not what I do. That's definitely going to be a common theme in this blog. I know it's not good to weigh one's self every day during a fat loss effort. But I've been doing it anyway. About 10 days ago I was traveling and I got a little lax with my diet - not BAD, but not as clean and healthy as I am at home. Came home,l waited 2 days, yep, 2 pound drop on the scale. Yes yes, I know with all the working out I'm likely building muscle, and that most day to day fluctuations can be attributed to water weight fluctuations, but I admit, I'm a former scale slave and old habits die hard. I did go through periods of a few weeks at a time since February when I didn't weigh myself at all. Right now is not one such period.

So last Thursday, I finally got into the 160's. The scale had gone from 170 to 168 during my travels. Then Friday - exactly 168. Saturday - exactly 168. Sunday, same. What's odd about this is that my scale measures in 10ths of a pound - so it's curious that I'm staying EXACTLY the same, every day. Monday same Tuesday same Wendesday....SAME! WTF? So today...I was prepared for 168. I was not prepared for 169.4! I'm quite sure the culprit was the beans and corn in the soup last night. I usually only eat carbs before my workouts, and burn them off during the workout, so they don't seem to cause any water weight gain. These starchy carbs I ate at dinner. I was suprised to see that much water show up though. No worries - even though I would *prefer* the scale to go down and not up, I'm content to go by what the tape measure and mirror say. And they're saying pretty all right things these days, yay!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 2 of P 90 X - Plyometrics

Today's P 90 X was plyometrics, which I'd honestly never heard of before and I'd DEFINITELY never done before. Basically it's jumping, squatting, twisting, kicking, bending, lunging, and every -ing that puts the maximum load on your quads, glutes, calves, lungs and heart. I'm going to have to do this one a few times, I think, before my cardiovascular system understands what's going on and stops rushing up to the mid 150's within the first 30 seconds of the exercise. Fortunately, the majority of these exercises only last 30 seconds each, and like the narrator says as you're about to start jumping and sweating your heart out, "You can do anything for 30 seconds."

Sounds reasonable...until you try jump frog squatting twice forward and twice back for 30 seconds - those were some of the longest seconds in my LIFE!

But with all the breaks and pause-presses, I got through it. I'm even wondering if I could do a light-weight version a few mornings a week to get the blood flowing. We'll see - it was hell to get through for the first time but it's good stuff :)

Today's Menu - Protein, Oj, Protein and Oj - and some Milk!

As for food today - I had a *minor* problem on the food front. The refrigerator broke over the weekend, and I didn't want to go grocery shopping until it was fixed again, and so I've been relying on protein drinks and powders and smoothies for the past couple of days. Today's menu was:

breakfast: kashi cereal, almond milk, 1 oz cashews

pre-workout snack: 1/2 cup OJ

post workout: 2 scoops whey protein, 1 cup OJ

3pm snack - sugar free latte (which pretty much counts as a cup of skim milk)

4pm snack - 4 whole grain crackers with home made guacamole and salsa

**I feel like I should make something up that I ate between 4pm and 9pm, because I know I'm not supposed to go 5 hours without eating BUT that's what happened and I'm a truth-teller so I'll tell it like it is :)

9pm: 3oz beef filet, 2 cups salad, 1/4 cup home made yogurt dressing, 6 oz pineapple


I got a food processor today. LOVE the food processor, and I left mine up in NYC where I spent the summer. I went to Bed Bath & Beyond last night and the least expensive food processor they had was $99. I don't love it that much :) So I went to Wal Mart today and bought a Black&Decker for $30. Came home and made fresh salsa, guacamole with greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and also some yummy dressing. Of all the things I make in the food processor, I think I like the dressings the best. I really haven't found a store-bought, low-fat dressing that doesn't taste DIET. The dressings made at home taste considerably better to me.

Tonight's dressing experiment featured...

My Nameless But Yummy Low Fat Salad Dressing Recipe:

1 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh oregano
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 tsp. lemon zest
a TON of garlic cloves (put in as many as you like; I happen to love garlic so I think I put in like 6 or 7 and it came out *really* garlicy.
One semi-spicy long skinny orange pepper - I don't know the name of it. If you do, please leave it in my comments :)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegarette
Salt and Pepper to taste

This is how I work in the kitchen. I almost never use a recipe. I open the fridge and the cupboards and think "Hmmm, I wonder if it would taste good if I put THIS in there..." Since I'm often cooking just for me, and my housemate who's also making efforts to eat healthy, something that tastes slightly "I'll never make this again but it's sort of edible..." doesn't go to waste.

The dressing was QUITE strong with all the garlic and the pepper but I think I would make it again, probably with a tiny bit less garlic. Right after I threw the balsamic in there, it occurred to me that the whole concoction could turn brown and visually unappealing, but that didn't happen.

Okay, so now that I've itemized everything I've eaten so far today, I think I'd better go eat one last snack before bedtime; with the crazy plyo workout I don't think I've eaten enough.

I'll be back tomorrow to write about my next day on P 90 X and hopefully my eating will be healthier, what with the refrigerator fix it man having been here late this afternoon to get the kitchen back on track

Monday, September 14, 2009

P 90 OMG

So I'm not really a distance-shopper, and I'm *definitely* not an infomercial shopper. But something about the P 90 X late night infomercial has been intriguing me. Of course the goal of any infomercial is to convince you that right now, your life would be vastly improved by purchasing whatever product the commercial is selling. This has never happened to me before in all my 38 years of watching television, but this ripped, toned, bringing-it guy spoke to me at just the right time, and I brought it...I mean, I bought it. (If you don't know what "bringing it" is, go check out the P 90 X/BeachBody Website).

90 Days of Aaaaaaaaaah!

So the videos arrived on Friday, and I decided I would start the program today, Monday. For those of you who do not watch late night television, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the series, a quick summary: 13 different DVDs, each targeting a different body part or workout: chest and back, "Ab Ripper X', Yoga, Kempo, Cardio, Legs, etc etc. 1 hour a day (for the most part; the workouts vary in exact length but most seem to range from 45 to 80 minutes). 1 rest day per week. For 90 days. The "system" also comes with a nutritional program, which is pretty close to how I've been eating these days anyway, so that part should be easy.

Is She Ready? Yes She Is!

I must say, I am pleased that over the past 3.5 months, I've gone from not being able to do 3 step-ups on the bench without collapsing, to being able to do 20 reps with 20 pounds in each hand, without feeling like my legs and lungs are going to disintegrate. So when I did the pre-program fitness test I was little concerned that I wasn't ready yet. After all, I've only gone from TOTALLY sedentary to active within the past 4 months. And this is an extreme program. But as I went through the series of exercises designed to confirm or deny that the exerciser is "ready" for P 90 X - lo and behold, I was! I could do the required 3 pushups that women are expected to be able to do (snicker, I can do 12 without too much grunting and swearing, up from ZERO four months ago). And no, those were NOT "girl" push ups, thank you very much! The 25 "in and outs" (sit down, arms at sides, legs push in and out) were pretty easy, and I surpassed the 60 second wall squat by 30 seconds and didn't slide to the floor or anywhere close to it.

So survey says - DING, I am ready!

Push Pull Heave Ho!

I am so ready. I promised myself I would start today, and life got in the way, as it has a habit of doing. Unexpected errands. Unexpected conflicts. A 15 minute catnap turned into a 2 hour dreamfest and I woke up at 7pm wondering if I'd be able to fit this insanity into the next 5 hours. Then I remembered I'd promised myself that I would fit it in to today, and that made things very easy.

So at 930PM EST, I brought the laptop out to my gym room, put in the DVD, and got to work. I'd already watched the 1st workout video last night, so I knew what was coming. Push ups, pull ups, back flys and something called "Heavy Pants", a funny name for a fun back scorcher that I impressed myself by doing 20 reps at 20 pounds. But I digress...

I'd done 12 pushups before, so I figured I'd be able to do 2 or 3 of each of the 10 or so sets of different styles without collapsing on the floor. By the end of the video, I'd done about 150. Yes one hundred fifty NON-KNEE-ASSISTED push ups, including declines, military, diamond, etc. That's a big feat for a girl. I'm proud.

Pull-Ups, With Leg and Chair Assistance

The pullups are a different story. I can't do one - not yet. To add to the challenge, the doorway in the gym room is about 10 feet high, so I have to stand on a chair just to reach the bar. Which works out well, as once way to ease into your first pullup is to stand on a chair and assist yourself upward with one leg as you pull upward. So I did this pull-up equivalent of the knee-assisted pushup about ... How many times? I'd estimate between all the different grips that were featured in the workout, about 100 times. 100 assisted pullups equals one unassisted, right? :)

I'll admit, I had to press pause and catch my breath two or three times during the video. I think it took me about an hour and 15 minutes to get through the 1 hour video. I also had to rewind a couple of times, because with some of the pullup/chinup exercises, I wasn't even situated up on the chair before the video people were done and moving onto the next exercise. But I am pleased to say that despite the obstacles the day presented, I got through the first workout in the series. AND I also had enough energy left at the end to get through the scheduled "Ab Ripper X" which you do 3x a week. It was HARD! But it got done.

And now I've only got 89 to go and I'll be RIPPED! I mean, that's what the infomercial said :)

Tomorrow is plyometrics - I watched the first few reps of each exercise by skipping ahead on the DVD and while it looks challenging cardio-wise, it seems very doable. NOT EASY. But doable.

I'll post again tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

Today, I changed My Mind...

...and tomorrow, my body will follow.

Actually, this change of mind and body has been 7 months in the making. Or perhaps longer than that. Perhaps it began in May, 2008, when I saw my good friend, at just over 50 years old, spend our entire 2 week beachfront vacation in the bedroom on the second floor, unable to walk up and down the 15 or so stairs to get downstairs and outside. Perhaps it started in the Fall of '08, when a herniated disc, caused my years of poor eating, smoking, and sitting in front of a computer working, flared up and had me bedridden and in pain for three weeks. But I know the decision to finally learn how to do "this" right occurred sometime in the past two years or so.

And now I am doing it.

Since February of this year, I have lost 43 pounds. I started at 211 - my highest weight ever, and today I weighed in at 168. At 5'7", this is not huge, but it's not where I want to be. I still have a way to go on my journey to achieve a body that shows on the outside, my new-found love for my body that I've just started to feel, on the inside.

Perhaps in a couple of weeks I will post the "before" photos that I took today. I'll post them when I have some *real* before photos, from when I was at my heaviest weight, so you can see where I am now, and how far I've come, and how far I have to go. For now, I'll tell you.

Here are some key things I've discovered during the past 7 months:

Fat People Know More than Skinny Ones About Nutrition and Fitness

1. My weight problem was not caused by a lack of nutrition and fitness knowledge. I firmly believe that the average overweight person knows more about these things than the average "average" person. Think about it. Us fat folks are constantly reading about the latest diets, watching DVDs designed to "get us in shape", browsing magazine articles, talking to doctors and nutritionists and fit folks at the gym. Average-sized people, for the most part, just eat what their body or taste buds ask for, and don't give it much thought.

Food Fantasizes Lead to Overeating - But There's a Way Out

2. I've never been an emotional eater, really. I don't eat out of boredom. But I DO love to eat. Or, at least I did, back then. These days my eating is planned more around what time I'm working out, and what macro-nutrients I'll need to prepare for and recover from the workout. Back then, due to what I believe to be a sensitivity to carbs, grain- and sugar-based carbs in particular, I was in and endless cycle of thinking about food, planning what I was going to eat and when, fantasizing about unhealthy foods, and finally eating those foods. I believe those food-obsessive thoughts are caused directly BY the foods themselves. I think this because when I stop eating them, I stop wanting them. I stop thinking about them. Eating healthier becomes easier. And when I'm eating "clean", I can clearly call to mind the groggy, drugged, hungover feeling an unhealthy meal causes for hours and sometimes days later. I don't like to feel like that. So, I don't eat like that. But back in the unhealthy days, the thoughts were stronger than the desire to feel good.

Good Foods and Bad Foods - Good Days and Bad Days
(or, "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, We'll Start the Diet Tomorrow!")

3. Over the past 7 months, and with the help of a nutritionist whom I visited three times, I discovered what may be one of the primary causes of my ongoing struggle with weight: black and white thinking about "good" and "bad" foods, which led me to write off any day on which I ate a "bad food" as a "bad day", and so since the day was "bad" anyway, I might as well eat all the things I'm going to give up tomorrow and for the duration of the diet I was trying and failing to follow. So for instance, if I gave in and had pancakes, bacon and OJ in the morning, instead of bran cereal and skim milk, then forget it! That day is "ruined" so rather than make healthier food choices for the rest of the day to make up for the indulgence at breakfast, I'd follow that breakfast with bad choices at lunch, dinner, and in between meals, with the intention of "getting back on track" tomorrow. I'm sure many of you know what happens then. Right, tomorrow never comes, because if you've categorized so many foods as "bad", neglected to come up with healthy but satisfying alternatives to your favorite "bad foods", and labeled your favorite foods completely "off limits", you're bound to indulge on more days than you refrain, and trigger a "bad day" of 2500, 3000, 3500+ calories. Whereas, if this black and white thinking did not exist, you could fairly easily salvage most indulgent days with healthier choices the rest of the day.

So part of my journey was actually working to get past this harmful thinking by intentionally eating one previously-thought-of-as-"bad" food a few times a week, and learning to budget that choice into a day that totaled a reasonable amount of calories. For instance, my household members watched in shock as, after previously eating "totally clean" for a month, I ate a 2.5 ounce chocolate truffle that I'd been craving from the gourmet food store for months. I bought it, I brought it home, I ate it for dessert after a dinner of salmon, broccoli and brown rice. The day ended up well within my target caloric range. The day was not ruined. I didn't binge on a whole box of chocolate and a pizza for a midnight snack. I budgeted the 'bad' choice into the day. And I learned, gradually but surprisingly quickly, to get over the thinking that had sabotaged me for years.

I wish I'd realized it was that simple years ago! But it's okay. I realized it, and I incorporated it into a new, healthy mind/body relationship. That is what counts.

Set An Impossible Goal

4. Those of you who've struggled with food and weight issues know that it's easy to lose weight. We've all done it before, some with considerable success, using various methods. Yet statistically, after 5 years, 95% of us put it back on. I know I did. ALWAYS. I've lost and gained the same 50 pounds at least 5 times. The same 20 pounds 10 times or more. It always comes back. The thinking and behavior has a lot to do with that - we'll talk about that in a future post, and I'm sure most of you know it already anyway. I was thinking today about how to get around that unfortunate statistic. Because even after 7 months of devoting myself to conquering this challenge once and for all, I am not yet immune to making "less healthy" choices. I'm getting better, but I'm not immune, and I need to prepare, mentally and behaviorally, for that challenge that will come when I reach my goal. And that day is fast approaching.

I'm at 168 today. Though I haven't chosen an exact scale-weight at which I'll be "finished" losing weight, and I can't really pick a body composition goal yet, because I don't know what my body even looks like at less than 24% body fat - I just don't know where I'll end up. I figure, I'll know when I get there.

But then what? When life is consumed with the process of reaching your goal, it's relatively easy to reach it. But what happens once you get there? How do you maintain that same enthusiasm to stay fit and healthy for the rest of your life?

A thought occurred to me that I think will help me do just that. Choose an impossible goal, and never stop working toward it. If you do happen to reach it, up the ante. Aim higher. So what will I do when I get to that point and look in the mirror and say "Okay, I'm HERE"? I plan to set new, loftier goals for myself, things I've never even dreamed I would accomplish. I will call them my "Eternal Goals" - Run a 5k race, that's a good one. I can't even run for five minutes, even today! So that will keep me busy for a while. After that becomes easy, up it to 10k. 26 miles. And so on. Get a black belt in Karate. Learn to swim competitively. Learn Yoga, and get certified. Help other people go through this same mind/body metamorphosis. Write a book. The list goes on. At 38 I don't know how many of them I will get to accomplish before I'm "done". But I will set these goals, and I will never stop pursing them.

That's my commitment to my body, and myself.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my story. I look forward to hearing yours, and helping each other along the way as we each plan and pursue our own Mind/Body Makeovers.