Tuesday, January 30, 2007

weigh-in report, 1/30

Well, the 1.2 pounds I lost last week are back. I am sure my Festival of Starches had a lot to do with that. My food the last couple of days was a little messy, too. So I'm disappointed, but not surprised. Oddly enough, I was noticing in the big mirrors in yoga class that I looked thinner yesterday. I've been noticing a lot of things like that. It's weird how narcissistic this weight loss thing can make you.

The cold weather is really tiring me out. I was out in it a lot today, walking to and from work, around campus, and going to the grocery store and bringing everything in. I like the snow but I hate the bitter wind. I know it's bad to complain since we really have had a mild winter until now, but I am really ready for spring!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

never met a starch I didn't like

Today was a virtual Carb Festival at my parents' house. I did have a bowl of iceberg lettuce, but other than that, I had no vegetables except tomatoes in barbecue and spaghetti sauces. Of course, I drink a lot of water when I eat, so I felt like I was about to pop when I got home. I didn't exercise today either. I was going to just skip journaling today, but I thought it made sense to assess the damage. 43 points...

I ended up over 27 points for the week. As usual, I did pretty well up until the weekend. Yesterday I went over by 6 points, but then today... While I'm talking Weight Watchers, can I say that I really don't like the way the new Complete Food Guide is organized? In the old one, if you were looking for, say, Ruffles potato chips, you would look under P for potato chips. Simple enough. In the new one, if you want to find them, first you have to figure out what category that food belongs in (in this case, "Snacks, Crackers, Dips, & Chips"). These categories, which are fairly arbitrary, are then arranged alphabetically. It's a mess, and it makes you flip through the entire book each time. This is exactly what Weight Watchers, and their advertisers, want you to do, of course, since now there are ads in the book. I find this annoying. Is it really in my best interest, while trying to figure out how many points were in that single-serving bag of Ruffles, to see an ad for cheese-and-pretzel sandwiches by Snyder's? Imagine if a member of Alcoholics Anonymous had to flip through a Big Book full of Smirnoff and Budweiser ads, if you don't see the problem with this.

Just like most of my meal, everything outside is white. We're finally having a real winter here, and I just heard the snowplow go by. Luckily, it sounds like everything will be cleaned up in time for tomorrow's commute. I walk to work, but just about everyone else I love will be on the roads tomorrow morning. Drive safely out there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

where have I been?

I've been working hard on my dissertation, which means less quality time online. This is definitely as it should be. I made this wonderful to-do list with all the things I needed to do to feel comfortable before getting an interview. I have done some of the bigger ones, and am feeling pretty good about my progress. I am hoping to get a little more of my transcription done tomorrow, but I think I'll probably fall short of having it all done this weekend. Still, I have been chugging along and that feels good.

There is something about this whole process that makes everyone doubt themselves. I was talking to some other graduate students today. We all were nerdy-know-it-all kids growing up, but the thing is, you get to graduate school and everyone is like that. So you start to lose some confidence, which might be a good thing, but it definitely makes it tough when you start thinking of going out and convincing someone else that they should hire you.

Still no phone calls, no emails. I wasn't going to do it, but I peeked at the wiki created by the denizens of the Chronicle of Higher Education to track the "have you heard" buzz on various job postings. So far, there is no news on any of the positions I've applied for, which means that maybe they are still deciding who to interview. I hope.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

weigh-in report, 1/23/07

I have to blog quickly today because at 8:00, I'm taking the Jeopardy Online Contestant Test, which, if I do well, enters me into a lottery to audition for the show. I'm such a geek, but my parents called twice to remind us to do this so I'm taking it today. My husband plans to take it tomorrow, which is the day for the Central and Mountain timezone.

I rejoined my Weight Watchers meeting because they needed me to help fill the meeting. As it was, we only had enough members because one of the women got on her cell phone and called her mother and asked her to join. Weight Watchers won't do a meeting at a worksite with less than 15 paying members. But we got our 15, so instead of having to get to a Monday night meeting, I can go during my lunch hour on Tuesdays.

Today I got the new session off to a good start by weighing in at 1.2 less than last week. I am now only 8 pounds from goal, and 6 pounds from my "free range," which, as I told Lori, makes me think of chickens. If I get to that range and stay there before the session ends, the leader said I can apply for a refund.

It's so odd to realize that April is only 12 weeks away. That means a lot of scary things for me right now, with all the dissertating yet to do. I plan to do some transcription tonight, after I take the Jeopardy test. I was going to do it earlier today, but some days it's hard to leave work at the time I'm supposed to leave. Today was one of those days.

Anyway, maybe I'll make it onto Jeopardy, win a big pile of money, and give myself a nice cushion of cash from which to launch a leisurely search for the perfect job. Wish me luck.

P.S. I took the test, but my mind was not quick enough for a lot of the questions. I just couldn't think of anything. So I guess I'll have to find a job after all.

Monday, January 22, 2007

small steps

I have a lot of unpleasant work to do with my dissertation, mostly transcribing interviews. It's not really that bad, but the thought of all the time it takes is intimidating. So I have been setting a timer for 12 minutes, working until it goes off, and then making myself take a 2-minute break. It's sort of the same philosophy that FlyLady talks about for cleaning your house, but I'm sure she didn't invent it. Small steps.

The weight loss thing works best in small steps too. For some reason I've been thinking a lot lately about the "lost years" -- most of the time between 22 and 29 is a blur to me, but what I remember is sad and painful. Those were the days of eating half, or even all, of a bag of chips in a sitting. If I close my eyes I can picture the kitchen, a dim little galley. I remember calling some weight-loss center when I was at my highest weight. I tried to ask about their program, but I got choked up when they asked how much I wanted to lose. I squeaked out, "50 pounds," but started crying too hard to talk when they said, "That's not so bad." I hung up. At the time I had no idea how much I really needed to lose, but 50 pounds seemed like the largest number I could think about, and even that made me cry. I always guesstimate my highest weight around 215, but I was too scared to see the number on the scale so I never will know for sure. Like I said, a lot of that time was a blur to me.

I posted a list of various goals on the right-hand side of this page, small ones and big ones and ones that are probably unreachable. I ended up losing most of what I lost by doing what our Weight Watchers leader suggested last week: "Focus on change, not on results." But it was a hard slog with lots of ups and downs and plateaus along the way. Then, of course, I managed to regain 20 pounds since making my goal in 2002, and I'm still chipping away at the last half of it.

Sometimes I get angry with myself over these mistakes -- wasting my twenties feeling miserable, getting to goal and then blowing it again. But those times weren't really a waste. I learned lessons I needed to learn, as hard as it is to be philosophical about missing out on the time in my life when I was supposed to be thin and carefree and happy. I think that's why when people lose weight they start to act a little immature -- they feel a chance to recapture some of those lost opportunities. But it doesn't play as well at 35 as it does at 25, and let's face it, even at 25 it's kind of annoying.

The important thing is learning to focus on now and what I need to be doing now, instead of regretting the past or worrying over the future. So I am working on it, in 12-minute increments.

Weigh-in is tomorrow afternoon. I went 20 points over my Weekly Allowance last week, which sounds terrible, but is an improvement over the week before. Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

scale follies

Like many Weight Watchers members, I ignore the advice to weigh-in only once a week, on their scale. Personally, I feel that's giving them a little more power than I'm willing to give -- they already have a lot of information on me like where I live, what I've weighed on all those different days, and what meeting I attended, all connected to my ID number. To put my complete trust in their scale seems a little too much.

I have a digital scale that weighs to the 1/2 pound, which usually seems pretty much in sync with the Weight Watchers scale. I like to do little unofficial check-ins now and then to see where I stand. It's interesting because it takes some of the stings out of the ups and downs of the "official" weigh-in to see how much the scale bounces around in a typical week.

Earlier this week, I stepped on the scale. After its little routine (the zero dances around for a while before it pops up a number, sort of a Biggest-Loser-style suspense tactic), it read 153.0. "What the -- ?" I knew it couldn't be right, so I stepped off and back on and got a more realistic 167.0. But I like to think that I got a little glimpse into the future.

There are certain times I step on just for grins, like today after my long run. It was cold and I wore a lot of layers, so I was soaked through. I knew this had to translate to a loss of water weight, and just wanted to see what it would look like on the scale. It read 161.0, down three pounds from earlier that morning. I'd better drink my water today.

Of course, none of this is "official." So I guess Weight Watchers does have me pretty brainwashed after all, with their One True Scale. I figure there's a built-in consistency to the same time of day, the same day of the week. And it's a little more reliable than shopping around for the best number on my home scale.

Friday, January 19, 2007

nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists

One of my friends is a big fan of A Course in Miracles. To me, the idea of a text "scribed" by a woman who believed she was taking dictation from Jesus is a little odd, but I have a copy that I happened to see at the bookstore after he mentioned it to me.

Though I found the book to be a bit ponderous, I did like the lines I used for the title: "Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists." I had it taped up over my desk at my last job to remind me that the everyday agitations and the dramas couldn't really touch me, no matter how bad they seemed. Since leaving that job, I've lost about 10 pounds, and I've stopped grinding my teeth at night when I sleep.

Last night I woke up worried over some of the Big Things going on in my life. I felt behind schedule on my dissertation. Like every single other graduate student I know, I have a not-so-secret fear that my advisor thinks I'm a dimwit. I'm, of course, worried that I won't get a job or even an interview.

In the middle of the night (usually around 4 a.m.), my mind will not accept reason or logic. Once I get up and have breakfast, I usually can think more clearly. The job stuff, the school stuff -- that is all important to me, but it's not all there is to me. I had a life when when I started school -- a home, a happy marriage, family members, friends -- and I still have those things. If I graduate later, I'll be OK. If I don't get a job right away, I'll be OK. If I don't get the kind of job I'm looking for right now, I'll find something else, and work on making myself a better candidate for other jobs. Or maybe I'll be like Augusten Burroughs and write a novel in 14 days and get it published. I will finish on time or I will work things out.

Nothing real can be threatened.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

a conversation about why I ate 6 Frango mints in the last 3 days

Jen: I had some Frango mints today

Anne: ooooooooooh
Anne: i like those
Jen: I bought them in Chicago
Anne: yeahhh
Jen: I took them to work thinking I could have one a day
Jen: but of course, I want them all the time
Anne: of course it works like that
Jen: so I put them in the office of this big, goofy grad student who works with us
Anne: you silly thing
Jen: suggesting maybe he have some
Anne: write about frango mints
Jen: I think they'd be better if they were smaller
Anne: they're not big, jen
Jen: then you could have two of them for 1 point instead of one
Anne: oh. i hear ya
Jen: then if I had 4, it would only be 2 points
Anne: and if you had 8 it would only be 4
Jen: yeah
Jen: exactly
Anne: we can do math
Jen: but the thing that is silly is, if they were twice as big or half as big, I'd probably eat about the same number of them
Anne: the trick is not to buy them at all
Jen: yeah
Anne: the last time i was there, i knew i was going to buy them
Anne: it was inevitable
Anne: so i bought the SMALLEST box i could find
Anne: TINY
Anne: it would have been cheaper per mint to get a bigger box
Anne: but i knew it wasn't likely i'd be sharing much of it
Jen: I bought one of those when I was there too
Jen: I bought 3 boxes that I was going to give as gifts
Anne: uh huh. likely story
Jen: I don't know who I was going to give them too
Anne: NOT
Anne: YOU
Jen: and I still have them
Jen: happy birthday to me
Anne: whoa. they haven't been eaten yet?
Jen: Well, the one I took to work was one of them
Jen: There was another box but I think my husband and I ate it not long after I got back
Jen: the third box is still shrink-wrapped
Anne: that is very disciplined
Jen: they weren't huge boxes
Anne: write about frango mints and the lure of them
Jen: they probably had about 12 mints
Anne: that is a good size
Jen: I guess I do have enough to say about Frango, obviously
Jen: $8 a freakin box
Jen: for 12 mints
Jen: that's $1.25 a mint
(Editor's note: I never was good at doing math in my head)

Anne: and they are LITTLE
Anne: but they are frangos
Jen: but they should be smaller
Anne: but they are still little
Jen: there should just be twice as many
Anne: you are goofy, Dr. Jen
Anne: we could pretend there are
Jen: If they were half as big and I got 24 for $8, then it would be a better deal
Anne: you would still eat as many
Jen: yes
Jen: I would
Jen: I would eat 4 if they were big, small, or medium
Jen: so the smaller they are, the better
Jen: I'm a weirdo
Anne: yeah, you sure are


Jen: So Frango mints?
Anne: yes
Anne: and you should give me some to test out
Jen: I'll give you a box as a gift
Jen: then I will have done what I said I was going to do with them
Anne: but then i would have to COUNT them
Anne: you goofball

Monday, January 15, 2007

weigh-in report, 1/15/2007

After the last few days of this week, I feel very lucky to have maintained and not gained. I think the one victory I can claim is that every day, I wrote down everything I ate, even on the days that I had already used up all my points plus tapped out my Weekly Allowance. There was one day where I was afraid to count up all the Points, but I wrote everything down anyway. That little step kept things from getting even more out of hand.

I thought I'd bring back the Progress Chart since that was such a popular feature last time, and I even color-coordinated it to my blog. Seeing things from that perspective helps -- it just looks ready to take another dip down, I think.

I got this week off to a good start by going to Spinning. I really liked it and liked the instructor. I plan to go again on Friday, though I have to really hurry out of there to get to a dentist's appointment afterward.

My meeting today was good too. This leader is very inspiring, she has lost more than 100 pounds and kept it off for several years. She does just the right balance between interaction and covering the weekly topic.

Hope everyone else is having a successful week. Sometimes staying still is success. For next week, though, my goal is to actually stay within my weekly points and see a loss. I really want to hit goal by the end of the month.

P.S. Thought I'd share today's journal with you, just because it's a very typical day, not too bad or too virtuous:

Target Points = 22

Eziekiel sprouted-grain toast with 2 T. peanut butter (6)
Coffee with 1 T. soy creamer (0)

45-minute Spinning Class (earned 6)

Falafel sandwich with lots of veggies on a pita (10)
Orange (1)

3 Dove Promises (3)

1 chicken thigh, no skin, with BBQ sauce (4)
Salad with 1 oz. part-skim mozzerella, 2 T. dried cherries, and 1 T. pecans (3)
1 c. couscous (3)

air-popped popcorn (2)

So I'll use a few Weekly Allowance points for today but overall, a decent, pretty average day for me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

a few of my favorite things

I liked reading Anne's post about things she uses, finds helpful, or just generally likes. I thought I'd add my own recommendations to the list, focusing on a few little things that are adding some enjoyment to my weight-loss efforts.

Green Tea: Lost in all the uproar about new (ridiculously expensive) diet drinks claiming "negative calorie" effects because of green tea extract in the products is the fact that any benefits from the $1.99 per bottle soft drinks are from a substance that is cheap and easily available already in supermarkets. The real stuff also has the benefit of being calming, because unlike a soft drink that you can down in a couple of gulps, a cup of tea requires sitting with it for a while and sipping. A cup of tea is nice in the evening when you feel like you want something but you're not really hungry, and if it helps you burn a few extra calories, that's a nice bonus. I also keep a box in my desk at work and have a cup or two during the day.

Coffee Enhancers: Some studies have shown that cinnamon is helpful for treating insulin resistance in people with Type 2 diabetes, and since insulin resistance is often a factor in weight gain, I figure that including a little cinnamon in my own diet can't hurt, especially since I love it. I usually put a dash of it in my coffee, along with Silk soymilk creamer, which has the same richness of half and half in my coffee but has only 15 calories for a tablespoon. I try to buy Fair Trade Certified coffee. I know some people think it's too expensive, but I figure I'm still saving by making coffee at home instead of paying $3 per cup for Starbucks (and I don't think any of their coffees are Fair Trade).

Coconut Body Butter: I love this delicious lotion from The Body Shop. The coconut scent reminds me of the Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil that my mom would slather on for days at the pool. This time of year, I need any reminder of summer I can get, and it's nice to go around smelling wonderful all day. It is really good for itchy dry winter skin too.
I also like the shower cream and scrub with the same scent.

Kitchen Helpers: Healthy cooking is a lot easier with a few little tools like a MicroPlane grater for adding just a little Romano cheese to my pasta or an for greasing a pan without a lot of calories. I got a lot of these ideas from Kathleen Daelemans's cookbooks and website, along with great recipes and other tips.

Popcorn: I started the popcorn habit early on in my weight-loss efforts, when the nutritionist I visited suggested that since I liked volume snacks, I should try substituting lowfat microwave popcorn for my usual nighttime snacks. Knowing that I could have a big bowl of popcorn usually made it easier to pass up other snacks. I have switched from the microwave kind to popping my own corn in my air popper, which I spritz with oil and sprinkle with either fine popcorn salt or Kernel Seasons White Cheddar, which is becoming my drug of choice.

As I hinted in a recent post, I've had a bit of a rough time with the food this week, especially in the last couple of days. The thing for me to remember, and maybe for others too, is that a bad week when I'm watching it is better than a good week when I am not. Most weight-loss experts agree that keeping a food diary helps people make better choices, and I have found that to be true for me. On the days that I don't at least write down what I ate, I get an "anything-goes" mentality and then conveniently forget later how much I really ate. I don't think that keeping track of things in my head works in the same way. It's just too easy to lose track or underestimate things. There is something about the act of writing things down that forces me to be more conscious. In fact, the days this week when I have had the most trouble have also been the days where I waited until the end of the day (or the next day) to actually write down my food.

When I "started over" with the new Weight Watchers materials, I started seriously journaling again with the new three-month journal, really being honest about what I ate. I immediately started having good losses. Last week and this, I fell off my journaling a bit and I have been a lot less successful. So my number-one priority for next week is to journal, journal, journal.

I'll let you know how the weigh-in goes tomorrow. I am not expecting much, but of course I'm hoping that I get lucky and lose more than I deserve. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own favorite finds for weight loss. I could always use a good tip!

Friday, January 12, 2007

eighteen points over

My Personal Points Target for Weight Watchers is 22, exactly the same as before they introduced the idea of the Personal Points Target. I can stay within that range and feel satisfied if I plan very carefully and eat good food. I can also earn extra Points with exercise or dip into the 35 extra Weekly Allowance Points we all get.

Just like when I was a kid, I rarely get to the end of the week without spending my entire Allowance. And that's even with exercising almost every day and using those Points too. Today I did not journal or plan very well, and at the end of the day I figured out that I ate 18 Points over my target today, and I spent the last of my Allowance yesterday. Oops.

All I can really do is try to make tomorrow and Sunday as clean as possible and keep on going. I can't do anything to "fix" a bad day. I did take a half-hour walk today, but that's already figured into my total.

According to FitDay, here's the breakdown of my day:

Total Calories: 2248
Fat: 36%
Sat: 11%
Carbs: 52%
Fiber: 42 grams
Protein: 12%

This stuff never gets easy for me. It's easier some days, but never easy. Today, a day that included pizza and pop (soda to the non-Toledoans), is not a model Weight Watchers day. I think after my last post, some people might get the mistaken idea that I have this all figured out, or that I think I do, but really, I'm still learning and getting through each day the best I can.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

getting closer

As I get close to my weight goal, I'm starting to think more about maintenance. This time around, I want to stay within my goal range instead of watching the numbers bounce around like crazy.

Part of this seems to be about making peace with my body. I haven't been very kind to it over the years. I've used it as a scapegoat for everything that didn't go 100% the way I wanted in my life. I've exercised it too hard, or not enough. I've eaten too little or way too much. I haven't been a good friend to my body, and it has been very kind to me. It's strong and resilient and relatively healthy. Some of the things I've been less-than-happy with about it, like my large thighs, are also the same things that have allowed me to do some of the things I love to do: Hike, ride my bike, swim.

Another part of it is really being honest with myself about what I want and what I'm willing to do. I was planning to go swimming yesterday at 5:30 with a group on campus, but it meant coming home from work, waiting around for a couple of hours and then going out to swim right at the time I really wanted dinner. So I decided that time isn't realistic for me -- I'm going to swim at a time that is more convenient for me. I'm still hammering out an exercise schedule that will help me achieve my goals -- I want to do some sprint triathlons this summer -- but not burn me out. The thing that bothered me most yesterday was that I should have known I wouldn't want to swim at that time. The only reason I even said I would is because some of the team members had been hounding me about it.

That's the biggest thing right there, too, doing what I want to do, at least most of the time, instead of doing what other people want me to do. I am not saying I want to be completely selfish, but I do need to take care of myself and not worry so much about what everyone else thinks. This has always been a big problem for me.

So those are some of the things that are knocking around in my head. I'm a little superstitious about saying this, but I'm starting to feel good about the way I look. This is one of my more annoying neuroses, the idea that if I say anything positive about myself, I'm bragging or being a prima donna. This is probably because of the "Mean Girls" attitude a lot of women have, that if someone is actually happy with herself, they have to knock her down. But I'm not in junior high anymore, so I think that it's time I got over that. I'm just starting to see that even with all my imperfections, I'm pretty happy with how I'm turning out. Finally. At 36 years old, maybe I'm starting to grow up a little.

Monday, January 08, 2007

almost made it

...not to my weight goal, but to my goal for this week, which was to lose the 3 pounds that showed up last week. Apparently a fraction of one of those pounds decided to stick around for a while. At least I'm back to less than ten pounds to goal again. That makes me wonder if it's worth shelling out over $100 to join my meeting or if I should just pay week-to-week at this one, which I really like. I will have to see if my presence or absence would make a big difference in the . If they can get enough members without me, I'd rather do the Monday night one.

I didn't go to my Spinning class this morning. I decided to play it safe. I'm still not sure if I'm sick yet. Since I was already up and had the time, I decided to go to Kroger's at 7:00 a.m. and get my grocery shopping done. There are advantages and disadvantages to this -- no crowds, but everyone else is just there getting coffee or a carton of milk and there I am, filling my cart. They only have a couple of lanes open too.

The grocery store had these GeniSoy Ultra bars FREE today, so I picked one up and figured I'd try it. I don't recommend it. I wish I had looked at the label before even taking one for free, because the reality is, if I have it with me, I'll eat it. It was 3 points for something that didn't taste very good and made me feel like I'd swallowed a rock for the rest of the day. When I went online to check the nutritional information to see what might have made me feel so bad, I noticed that it had 11 grams of sugar, most of it high fructose corn syrup. And most of the other ingredients are freaky and chemically-sounding too. Since it was in the health-food section of the grocery store and it was free, I didn't think about it carefully enough.

Live and learn. I have yoga in an hour and that should make me feel a little better, though there's always the deep (and sometimes justified) fear that it will free some horrible, huge pocket of gas in a loud and embarassing way.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

iffy week

I always do sort of an end-of-week review, even if I don't always blog about it, the night before a weigh-in. My only goal for this week is to have lost the 3 uninvited pounds that showed up after my Italian Family Food Festival on New Year's Day. I am sure at least a pound or two of that was water weight, "Just Visting," as Anne would say. But my Core plan experiment didn't work this week, and with all my Weekly Allowance Points blown early on, this week was a tough one for me. I usually dip into those on weekends but this week I just felt myself slipping into the hole.

Luckily, tomorrow's weigh-in, no matter what the result, is a big Reset button. Whatever the outcome of this week, next week is a fresh one and I start over again. I had a pretty good dinner tonight -- scallops and pasta with veggies and half a glass of wine -- and I think I can skip my usual nightly snack of popcorn with the highly addictive Kernel Seasons white cheddar cheese on it. I don't want that much salt the night before weigh-in.

I've been feeling a low-level crumminess for most of this week. I thought it was mostly emotional, post-holiday blahs and all that. Today when I tried to lift weights, though, I broke out in a cold sweat and felt nauseous. So I think I might actually have some kind of mild bug thing. I feel OK but just very tired if I'm not working out. I had planned to do a Spinning class tomorrow but might skip it if I don't feel better. Tomorrow is also my yoga class, which took a hiatus for the holiday, and I'm really happy to be getting back to it. I won't miss that because even when I'm sick, yoga seems to help me feel better.

I'm meeting-hopping again. Tomorrow I'm going to a new meeting in my town that is just getting started. It's at 4:00 p.m. My WW still hasn't started back up. Next week is the open house and the week after that is the first meeting. My old leader sent me a letter saying she's not coming back, so I will go to the open house but if I don't like the looks of the new person, I might stick with Monday night. The only thing is, I hate to let down the other people in my if they wouldn't have enough members without me. I will just have to wait and see how it goes.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

another beautiful day

Apparently we've skipped over January and went right to April here in the Toledo area. I went out for a run this morning on our local Rail Trail bike path and even though it was windy, we were right around 50 degrees. I was still glad for my Gore-Tex jacket to keep the wind out. I got in 45 minutes (6 Activity Points!!!) and it felt good. I had been tempted to beg off today because of a low-level crumminess I've felt all week, but I actually felt much more energetic after my run.

I fixed a nice, Weight-Watchers-friendly lunch. I had finally cooked up a little of the stuff I made from Andrea's falafel recipe yesterday, but I wanted the outside to be a little crisper and the inside to be a little less gooey. Today I made the patties smaller and thinner this time and used 1 teaspoon of olive oil to fry the two little patties in. I got one of my healthy oil servings and it improved the texture a lot. They were wonderful dipped in hummus. I had them with a salad -- I don't use dressing but I sprinkled on some salted sunflower seed kernels. I also made oven-fried sweet potatoes. Total points for this lunch -- 6, exactly what I earned from my run. It was filling too, probably because of all the fiber from the veggies. I would definitely make the falafel again. I used canned chickpeas and, since my grocery store was completely out of cilantro, I used double the parsley and added the juice of a lemon to simulate the taste of cilantro.

I have an unbelieveable 13 points left for today. I took some scallops out to thaw, and we're going to have them with some pasta, more veggies, and a glass of wine. I will probably have enough points left over for dessert AND a snack tonight. This all goes so much easier when I exercise and cook at home.

P.S. Those Rail Trails are a great resource. I really don't know how I'd get in a lot of my workouts without ours. Click on the picture if you want to find out more about the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. I have been a member for a long time since I enjoy using the trails so much.

Friday, January 05, 2007

biking in the rain

I had, early in the week when I was feeling ambitious, planned to take a Spinning class at 9:00 today. I used to love Spinning class, and for a while back there I was going five days a week. It can be really great if you like intense exercise, and if you get a good instructor. It helped me really melt the weight off, and I definitely want to get back to the class again.

But I've been feeling blah and tired lately, probably with all the weirdness over my food plan this week and also because I've been spending a lot of time home alone, supposedly working but mostly reading weight-loss blogs and websites and trying to feel a little more excited about the prospect of taking off the last dozen pounds. Weight Watchers did find the perfect Success Story to kick off the new year. You're gorgeous, Danielle.

Anyway, I wasn't in the mood to be yelled at, which is what made me finally quit Spinning last time around. This instructor I started out loving somehow was brainwashed and transformed into a Spinning Nazi when she went to the training and conferences and stalked around the room screaming at us all and cranking up our resistance. That instructor left long ago but I still am skittish about going back, knowing I'm pretty out of shape for it.

My mother-in-law got me some heavyweight bike tights and some biking sunglasses, the cool kind with the changeable lenses. Normally I'm a wimp about biking in cold weather, but here in Ohio, the temperature was a freakish 54 degrees with some light rain predicted for the afternoon. I got all geared up and went out, though I took my mountain bike instead of my faster road bike because I don't trust the slick tires in the puddles.

I really am out of shape for biking but it felt great to be outside in the nice weather. I almost didn't go but the rain was light and not worth skipping a workout over. I passed a lot of people out walking and running, so I guess I'm not the only Ohioan who knows that we need to enjoy this weather while it lasts.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

shopping, sizes, and magic numbers

Pastaqueen's post yesterday about Lane Bryant got me thinking about shopping and its inherent perils. For about a year of my life, I managed to size myself out of any store but Lane Bryant. Sure, there were the depressing "Women's World" sections of department stores, but the clothes they had made me feel about 20 years older. I was still in my twenties at the time. Somehow Lane Bryant was easier, even though the tags were embarassing, and I almost died one time when a male coworker picked up a coupon from the floor my car when a group of us were going to lunch and asked, "Why didn't you go get your free panty?" I was sure that even a bunch of guys knew what Lane Bryant was and were now picturing me in fat-girl panties. As if they somehow couldn't tell by my shape and size that I would be the kind of person who would shop in a plus-sized store.

Shopping with friends and family who were not in the Lane Bryant range became torture. There were a very few mall stores at the time that went above a size 14: The Gap, Old Navy, New York & Company. I was grateful for those stores but at other stores I just looked at XL t-shirts and socks, or cruised the earring racks. I did have a couple of LB shopping buddies and it was much more fun to shop with them. I would call them when Mode (Remember Mode? I loved that magazine but sadly, it is no more. This site is sort of an online version, though.) came out with their latest coupons and we would go shop -- LB is much too expensive to shop regular-price. One of these friends and I still go shopping together, but it's much less fun for both of us because the mall is suddenly divided into "my stores" and "her stores" and the whole thing is a little uncomfortable for both of us. It sucks.

I wish more stores would follow the Gap model of having sizes 0 to 20 in the same store, or even extend the range above 20. It's not like when you reach a certain size you suddenly think, "You know what, I really love a humongous print! And can you attach more sparklies and some fringe to this blouse, please?" As Pastaqueen so eloquently put it, "I suspect they allow employee's children to run around the store with a bedazzler, applying sequins and plastic beads to every tank top or blouse in sight."

In fact, my big weight loss push when I turned 30 was kicked off at least in part by wanting to shop at Ann Taylor, and their sizes only went up to 14. I think that they now carry a 16 or even an 18, though you may have to buy them online. I hate that, actually. They're willing to take your money but they don't want people to see you in their store?

When I go into LB now, the clothes look a lot better than they did when I shopped there, but I still can't bring myself to buy anything there anymore. I've tried a couple of things on when they were really cheap, but was relieved when they didn't look right on me.

The other day when I was shopping, I tried on some size 12 jeans at the Gap and they fit. Size 12 is a milestone to me. It's the "I no longer am just barely in the regular size range" milestone, which is way too long a name to be very catchy. It's also the "definitely can't shop at LB anymore" milestone. Though, of course, jeans being jeans, one style (Curvy) fit me in a 12 and the other style fit me in a 14 (Skinny).

These stupid numbers have so much power. The last time I was at goal weight I got especially obsessed with them. For about one and a half minutes, the size 8 at some stores fit me. I still have a size 8 Banana Republic dress hanging in my closet in case I ever get back there again. It made me unreasonably happy to have a single digit on my size tag instead of two digits, even if it was probably just vanity sizing (as I know all you party poopers out there are thinking). I remember the days of the 5-7-9 store at the mall, which didn't want to bother with any of us double-digit people.

I guess that's why this weight loss thing becomes so powerful. Clothing size, as fickle and unreasonable as it is, can seem like an elaborate sorting system. I got a little weird the last few days with the holiday weight gain, wanting to rid myself quickly of the holiday weight gain, and the total irrationality about food that came along with it. I realized that I was trying to cram myself back into "acceptable" territory as fast as I could. I had gotten within 10 pounds of my WW goal (I changed my ticker above to reflect this goal), and that magic number meant a lot to me, and then just as quickly that magic number got snatched away. And even that WW goal is sort of a milestone more than a goal, because a very shallow part of me wants to drop below 150 because that's another magic number, though not as magical as 135, which was my weight in college and probably the absolute lowest I could ever go now (though I still felt too fat at that weight at the time)...

You're getting the picture, I think. None of these numbers are ever going to give me what I'm looking for, some kind of magical ticket to "you're good enough, you can relax." I knew it when I started writing this, and now I'm even more sure of it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

can't do it

I am going back to Flex tomorrow. I know that you're supposed to wait a week before switching, yadda, yadda, but I just can't. Even today, which was a relatively good day, was just too hard for me. I feel bloated and gassy from all the dairy I had because it was something that I could eat. I woke up with a terrible upset stomach today and have felt tired and depressed all day. It's just not worth it, even if I could lose the three pound gain from last week plus another two, which is unlikely.

I gave it a shot. Even cheating with the yogurt, etc., I still couldn't make it. The final straw was trying to make Andrea's falafel recipe Core by leaving out the flour. It didn't hold together, but it sure smelled good. I mixed in some flour and put it back in the fridge to try tomorrow, when I'm back to Flex.

a better day on far

So far, today has gone better than yesterday. I thought I'd post my menu just to give you an idea of how it is going for me.

My stomach hurt when I woke up today, maybe from hunger, because it felt better after I started out with a non-Core breakfast of my favorite Kashi toaster waffles and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter (7 points) and half a banana (Core) because I knew I would be going swimming today.

I swam for at least 45 minutes if not an hour (earned 6 points). I came home and had some yogurt (Core) and half a cup of Fiber One cereal (0 points).

Note: I am cheating a little with the yogurt and counting flavored fat-free yogurt as Core, even though it's not. Please do not call the WW Police on me, I just didn't want to buy all new yogurt when I already had some. It's in individual containers so it's not like I will overeat on this food. Yogurt has never been a bingey food for me anyway. I also know that I am deviating from the approved list of Core snacks. I figure if I can get through this week on even a modified plan, I will be doing a fabulous job. I blew through almost all of my Weekly Allowance Points with my Italian Food Festival on Monday, which is making this week a lot harder than it would be otherwise.

For lunch I had whole-wheat couscous with tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper (Core) along with some cottage chese (also Core). I've been semi-working at the computer all day, mostly looking at some jobs and trying to research them enough to feel comfortable sending an application. I haven't started my transcription yet. I need to go out to pick up a few groceries and will do some transcribing after I get back. I also need to clean up the kitchen. I snacked on some air-popped popcorn (Core) with my (0 points) Kernel Seasons cheddar sprinkle.

I was planning to make a flank steak recipe from one of my cookbooks but I came upon this falafel recipe on Andrea's blog and I want to give it a try. So I'm going out to pick up some parsley and some cilantro and also to get some meat for later in the week after I finish this post. It looks like if you leave out the flour and keep the oil to a minimum, the recipe can be made Core. I'll probably have it with some chopped tomatoes and lettuce and skip the pitas. If I can get in a walk tonight, that would earn me some Points to use on some hummus.

If you're a fellow WW-er, check out Andrea's blog journal for great WW meal ideas. She posts her menu almost every day, and I like that she uses mostly whole foods. There are lots of great recipes too. You may need to adjust for your own Points target (from the new Week One book). With my age, gender, activity level, and weight, I only get 22 points a day, and Andrea's menus are mostly for 34. Of course, you can also exercise and earn a few extras, or use your Weekly Allowance Points.

It's Wednesday, only a few more days of this Core experiment left. Can't wait to get back to Flex! After my extreme grouchiness last night, I promised my husband not to try Core again, at least until I'm in maintenance and get some extra Weekly Allowance Points to use....

P.S. I've been using Technorati tags but am going to switch to labels instead now that I know that the labels are compatible with Technorati. If I have some extra time, I might go back and copy least some of my old tags to labels.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

the Core Plan's mother wears combat boots

I have to go on record as saying that I really, really don't like the Weight Watchers Core Plan. This is the second time I've tried it. Last time I remember my stomach getting really upset because I tried to fill up on proteins and ended up eating a lot more meat and eggs than usual.

I had a few things I had to count earlier today so I wanted to have a completely Core dinner, but unfortunately, my husband and I had sort of a communication mixup. He had said he was going to make dinner, but he forgot. I hadn't planned anything either. We were going to make some brown rice and a shrimp stir-fry, because we had some frozen shrimp that could be quick-thawed in the sink, but apparently our brown rice had been sitting around too long, because I noticed a little bug that looked just like a rice grain in it. Ugh. That turned me off cooking any other grains until I go through the pantry and throw out anything that might have been there a while. I tend to get this inspiration that I'm going to eat more whole grains, buy a bunch of stuff, and then get lazy and not make them.

With a few exceptions, Core foods are not quick-cooking foods, so you have to plan ahead to do this plan. We ended up just going out and I had a soup and a salad, then had some air-popped popcorn later. As soon as this week is over, I'm going back to the Flex plan for good. It's just easier with my lifestyle. Kudos to anyone who does the Kay Sheppard plan, which is similar to Core except even more restrictive.

Part of the reason I wanted to do Core at all -- well, to be honest, pretty much the only reason -- is that I knew I had gained after last week and wanted to lose it quickly and figured a more restrictive plan would help. I was right about the gain (3 pounds) but kind of deceiving myself about how well I'd be able to stick to a more restrictive plan. I am going to stick it out the best I can for the rest of this week.

I did find my meeting really inspiring today. There were about 5 or 6 new members today and they seemed really jazzed about starting. And Weight Watchers really is a good program, really simple to learn and follow -- well, at least the Flex Plan. One good thing about my little experiment is that it is making Flex look easy.

Monday, January 01, 2007

running in the new year

Since so many inquiring minds want to know, I thought I'd post a quick report on the race last night. We got lucky with the weather -- it was a warm and wet New Year's Eve in this neck of the woods, but the driving rain earlier in the evening stopped in time for us to just have a few puddles to contend with for most of the race, though for about a mile I ran into the wind and drizzle.

I wish I had taken my digital camera. It was DARK but the start line would have been a cool picture, with all the runners wearing the glow necklaces they gave us. There are some pretty crummy official photos of the race if you want to take a look. I was a little nervous at the start because some kid bent over or fell and I realized that a runner could have been trampled in the beginning of the race because no one could see very well. But I did enjoy being out running in the dark knowing I was safe -- we ran mostly on closed roads and a little on a paved trail.

I have to buy a new lightweight jacket because my size XL one is not going to work for me anymore. When I'm running into the wind, it blows me backward like a sail, and it makes me look about 3 times as big as I am in the race photos. So that's on my wish list before next spring. I have a nice heavyweight running suit for the cold that fits fine, but in warmer weather I need something lighter that is my own size.

I finished the race in just under 32 minutes, which for a 5K race (3.1 miles) is a great pace for me. I wasn't anywhere close to winning an age-group award, but I don't really need that kind of stuff cluttering up my house anyway -- I was just happy that I was able to find a good way to celebrate the New Year that didn't leave me with a hangover. I did wake up sore this morning from running so hard, but after taking a nice long walk I felt fine.

Today was supposed to be my first day trying the Weight Watchers Core Plan.... I have always thought that Core was a much tougher plan to follow than Flex, and figured I'd probably lose a lot by trying it. Well, today was not the day to start it. I had a New Year's Day party with the Italian side of my family, and they pulled out all the Nostalgia Food stops. The lovely quinoa salad I brought was, of course, of no interest to anyone but me. I ate some of that and the other Core-friendly stuff there like chicken, ham, fruit, raw veggies, which would have made a nice meal. But then I started in on the homemade pizza and fried peppers, sampled all of the desserts, munched on nuts and candy.... It was a wonderful family party but definitely not a good first day of a new diet plan.

Tomorrow is weigh-in day, and even though I could go to a meeting later in the week instead, I think it's better to do it now and feel like I have a fresh start after all this messy eating.

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07