Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Only one resolution

A friend of my sister's was killed in a car accident a few days ago. She was only 32.

Life is short and I'm going to remember that. I am going to live like I remember that.

Hope you will too. My sister's friend did, luckily.

By the way, PLEASE don't drink and drive.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bike followup

I got some really great tips on my last post. I am not sure why I'm all cranked up to buy a bike in December, but I was thinking that if I shopped in the off-season, I might get more time from the salespeople (and maybe a better deal). There is a bike shop in Ann Arbor that looks promising. I should also see what's available in Toledo, but one of the local shops did give me that "you're not cool enough to shop here" vibe, which sort of sours me on shopping there again. I am not really sure why some bike shop employees cop that kind of attitude. I think some bike shop employees will only give you respect if you look super-fit or if you plan to spend huge amounts of money. I am not either, unfortunately. As fit as I feel, I think I still don' t look it. That's one of my huge motivating factors in wanting to lose weight -- wanting people to see the fit person I want to be and not see me as an overweight person and assume I'm either a) not knowledgeable about fitness or b) a lazy glutton.

But if I casually look around at a bike store without being sure I'm going to buy something right away, I can get the sense of whether it's the right place to go when I'm ready to buy something.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bike crazy

One thing I want to do this spring is get a new bike for training and racing. My current bike has served me pretty well for the last 8 years, but the fit has never been exactly right for me and it's not comfortable for long rides. I tried a Trek WSD (Women's Specific Design) bike once at a Danskin event, and it felt so good I didn't want to get off. I am thinking that because of my build (long legs, short torso, narrow shoulders) that this kind of bike might fit me better than the typical unisex (men's) fit.

I am a bit nervous about bike shopping. I have never been a gearhead, so I don't really know the terminology and am not sure I'll be able to get a good deal. I probably feel about bike shopping the way a lot of other people would feel about shopping for a computer. I have been to bike shops where the salespeople make you feel like a jerk if you're not looking to spend at least $3000. I am thinking my upper limit on bike price would be $1500-2000.

I just want something that feels great when I ride it and will hold up well for long training sessions. I don't need the coolest and latest and greatest stuff, I just want a good, solid road bike that won't hold me back in a race.

Any advice or recommendations to share? Post them in the comments.

Friday, December 25, 2009

So this is Christmas, and what have you done?

Another year over, and a new one just begun. . .

I didn't feel like a Christmas/holiday post (I had a fun one, but how interesting would it be to write about it?) This post was shamelessly stolen from Shauna's 2009 and Feelin' Fine post:

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I tore apart a sink in my bathroom and helped to install a new one. Not just changing out a faucet this time, but actually removing a sink from my home. That was fun. I took a 6-week watercolor class and decided I really enjoy it and want to keep doing it. I tried hot yoga, also great. I committed to regularly coloring my hair, probably for the rest of my life (unless I decide that I want to go gray someday). I let my first passport expire (though I resolve to get a new one in 2010 just in case someone wants to whisk me away to Europe at the last minute). I got a full-time job in the field of my choice, one that I could actually imagine doing for the rest of my career. I attended a graduation ceremony as a faculty member.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next this year?
I barely remember what I resolved last year, except that I was going to be at my goal weight by now. Obviously, did not keep that one. I resolve to get a passport this year (see above). I resolve to focus on my behavior and my fitness and keep working toward my goals without getting obsessive about the scale. I resolve to keep trying new things and setting new goals. I also want to continue working on getting out of debt while still enjoying the occasional worthy splurge.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
She wasn't close to me anymore, but a high school classmate died unexpectedly and it was a bit of a shock.

5. What countries did you visit?
Sadly, I did not leave the USA, which was why I didn't renew my passport -- I was a little short on cash and had no plans to travel, so I thought I would wait until I was feeling a little more flush. I did do some traveling within the States, visiting California, Massachusetts (twice), Tennesee, North Carolina. Michigan is less than a mile from here so I'm there a lot.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
A vacation with my husband. Also, sometime I would like to go on a spa-type retreat for a weekend (or week) trip by myself and maybe meet up with some like-minded women. Don't know that this will happen in 2010, though.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

The first real Christmas for my nephew.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting my finances in order for the first time since I moved in with my husband. We have managed to straighten out our money issues, plus we also both have full-time jobs we like and only one house (having two mortgages for almost a year was a major financial strain). We aren't all the way out of debt yet but it is seeming possible to get down to just a mortgage payment.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Failing to decide whether I really wanted to lose weight enough to seriously commit to it. I feel like I played around with weight loss this year -- not really committing to doing it or to letting it go, just sort of fiddling. This coming year I want to try to have more focus. I also didn't spend as much time maintaining relationships with friends, or making new friends whose interests more closely match my own.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I'm currently having trouble with my foot, will be seeing a podiatrist Tuesday to deal with some recurrent pain/numbness in the toes of my left foot. I started taking meds for a thyroid issue. I have been pretty lucky, though, this was a fairly healthy year.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Refurbished 3GS iPhones! Both of us love them and they were a steal.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, living expenses, debt.

13. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

14. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I can't think of one. I think I spent most of 2009 listening to NPR news and various podcasts. Yes, I'm officially old, but with a techno twist.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?
Happier. Things are more secure now for me and I'm feeling good.
b) thinner or fatter?
About the same weight. Maybe not thinner, but definitely fitter.
c) richer or poorer?
Richer, per #8.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Traveling for fun and not work. Spending time with real friends and family.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about what other people think. Sitting in front of a computer or TV screen just because I couldn't think of something better to do.

18. How will you spend Christmas?
Spent it with my family -- feasting, playing cards, opening lots of gifts, playing with my nephew. May host a belated celebration with my in-laws next Tuesday if they all can agree to/commit to a time.

19. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I have been in love with my husband for a long time (going on 20 years together next October, and 16 years married in May). I am lucky to have a lot of love in my life.

20. What was your favorite TV program?
The Biggest Loser, The Mentalist

21. What was the best book you read?

22. What was your favorite film of this year?
I really enjoyed "Extract." Also just saw "Invictus" and loved that too.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was feeling under the weather on the day itself but recovered enough to go out to see "Precious" and have Thai food. I turned 39.

24. What kept you sane?
Lots of workouts.

25. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I thought Owain Yeoman (just found out his name) from "The Mentalist" was pretty cute until he got this dorky haircut.

26. Who did you miss?
My favorite lunch buddy from my last job. My running partner, who moved to the wilds of western Indiana.

27. Who was the best new person you met?
I really like the new chair of our department. One of my regrets of 2010 is that I didn't make any great new friends. It's hard but worth putting some effort into. Something to work on in 2010.

Hope you close 2009 with a bang and have a great 2010.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Weighing in: Up, down, up...

I seem to be very good at maintenance:

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

I am not surprised, though, my adherence to the program has been pretty lax. Once I don't count something instantly, laziness takes over.

The Weight Watchers iPhone app page on iTunes says that the developers will be adding Good Health Guidelines and weight tracking to the app soon, at least when I look at it on my iPhone. That will help a whole lot. I can't track those on my phone and I can't be bothered to carry around the little paper tracker. I am terrible at keeping things in my head, but I have good results when I do those every day.

If I can just maintain through New Year's Day, I will be happy. Yes, I am just like everyone else. I'm OK with that.

I am happy that I was able to go to my regular meeting today, which is much better than any other meeting I've attended in my area. I liked the topic for today, too: Celebrate your successes.

What are your big successes for this year? Mine are that I have incorporated regular exercise into my routine and that I have dropped a clothing size, even though I've only lost 3.8 pounds since I joined Weight Watchers. Before you think "vanity sizing," my old clothes are looser. So that's a big victory.

Next week's topic is goals (not surprisingly). What are your goals for the new year? Let's not talk weight loss goals, let's talk behavior goals -- behavior we can control directly, while weight loss is fickle. I'm going to think about mine and make that my next post.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Run/bike safely

Driving home on a dark road at ten p.m., I saw something weird on the side of the road. It looked like two little white things jumping up and down. It took a few seconds to realize that they were the reflective stripes on the back of a runner's shoes. She was totally invisible until I was within a few feet of her other than those two pieces of reflective tape.

I know I have been guilty of this one myself on some of my dark morning runs in the past, but now that I've seen it from the driver's seat, I won't do it again. It would only take one driver who didn't notice you until it was to late to cause a potentially fatal accident.

Light-colored clothes don't cut it in the winter dark. You need light. I bought my husband a reflective vest because he sometimes does late road runs. There are also flashing battery-powered lights you can attach to to your clothes or bike. No one will criticize you for being too visible.

Be safe!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 20, 2009


We had our "race day" at swim practice today. I did several of the events: 200m free, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, and the big relay (everyone did a 25m free lap). I didn't even try the butterfly -- I still really don't know how.

I have no memory for numbers so I can't give exact times. I think I got a 3:39-something for the 200. The backstroke was in the high 50s and so was the breaststroke. I think my 50m free was in the mid 40s. I looked online to try to find some reference times and found this list someone created -- considering this was my first pool race in forever, I'm within shooting distance of the "B" times, and that's not too shabby. I was not the slowest person there today in most things (maybe the backstroke, where I have crummy technique), and a lot of the people who are slower than me chose not to race today.

I have to get over my gym-class-era fear that people will be laughing at me or mad if they have to be on my team. We're all adults, not junior-high students.

My favorite part was diving off the blocks. Fun! And it was also fun to push myself. I thought of this as a baseline time trial, to give myself a starting point for improvement.

I would like to get better on my flipturns. I think I lose a lot of time in them.

Oddly enough, other than a couple of minutes' anxiety, I didn't really think about how I looked in my swimsuit. There were guys there in tiny little Speedos, so I couldn't have been the most ridiculous even if I had tried.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thyroid med update -- for those who are interested

As I said before, in all the many lab tests Dr. Pushy ordered, one did turn up something -- the thyroid antibodies test. A followup test ordered by my current doctor revealed a similar result, so she recommended treatment with a low dose of levothyroxine to help stop my system from attacking the thyroid. On the low dose (25 mcg.), I was feeling a little more energetic at first but then things seemed to level out. At my latest appointment we discussed upping my dosage, and I decided to go ahead and try that.

No dramatic weight loss, though the books suggested I shouldn't expect that. What I did experience at first was a little boost in mood and a lot more energy. I try the higher dose tomorrow, so we'll see if I feel a difference again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Meeting hopping again

My Weight Chart:
Weight Chart

Since I had to miss my meeting Tuesday for the big potluck, I went to yet another different meeting yesterday in a different center. There is a center right next door to the place I take my yoga and Pilates classes. I walked right out of my Yoga/Pilates mat class today and weighed in.

The leader of this meeting was kind of kooky. She was one of those people that suddenly has REALLY BIG EYES when she is making a point. She seemed vaguely familiar, and I'm sure that in all my comings and goings to Weight Watchers, we've crossed paths before. She was definitely enthusiastic and seemed to have a pretty dedicated group, but the meeting just wasn't my style. I'm happy that my regular leader is a little more down-to-earth.

Unfortunately, potlucks are not great for weight loss. Still, I am down a little since last week, though not back to my previous low. I am looking forward to the holidays, but even more I'm looking forward to getting back to normal food and a normal schedule again. It's just too hard to hit all these parties and keep things where I want them to be. I went to another party tonight and had a little fling with the bowl of homemade snack mix, which was sitting at my right elbow.
My points have been a mess lately, but I'm trying to focus on at least doing the Good Health Guidelines every day and trying to stay sane at the parties. Next time I'll try to step away from the snack mix.

In better news, I got a bunch of my Christmas shopping done today. For fun I tried using a pedometer application (iTreadmill if you're interested) to see how far I was walking. In the first mall, I walked 1.4 miles (it stops and starts itself so you can still get an accurate read if you walk, look at a shirt, walk a little more, look at some jeans, etc.) and then I forgot to use it at the next couple places I went (an outdoor mall and Target). My guess is that I walked about 3 miles all in all.

I also tried on lots of clothes -- I am a terrible Christmas shopper because I want to buy things for myself. I successfully bought gifts for other people, but I also ended up with a pair of jeans, two sweaters, some new undies, and a new coat! Not to mention the storage ottoman I bought at Target (I'm tired of seeing our laptops lying around the living room when we're not using them)! Clothes are fitting better and I'm enjoying shopping more, which is good for the self-esteem but maybe not so good for the pocketbook. I tried on a bunch of jeans at the Gap. Depending on the style, I can either fit into a 12 or a 14. I ended up buying a pair of "Sexy Bootcut" dark rinse in 14 -- they just looked better to me than the styles I could manage to wear a 12 in. The tag is on the inside, right? I don't feel the need to shoehorn myself into a smaller size to prove a point. I am feeling more comfortable with this whole weight-loss process -- it may not be speedy, but I don't feel like I'm in a hurry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Double curveball

Just as I was getting ready for my Weight Watchers meeting today, I got reminded about a work potluck -- DURING the meeting time. I should have skipped it, no one would have noticed. Instead I missed my meeting and ate a bunch of dumb stuff I didn't need. It's also hard to count points for a potluck, have you ever noticed? It's so easy to load up a plate with a bite of this and a little of that. I did manage to take a nice pile of raw veggies, but I had an almost equally-large pile of various bite-sized dessert things.

I made roasted chicken and a baked potato for dinner and had it with some more veggies and hummus. I put some apples in to bake with the chicken, which came out nice and soft.

It's a bummer to start out a week like this, but I just blogged about not getting caught up in perfection, so I'm practicing what I preached and trying to figure out how to log what I ate.

Luckily I got in a run today while listening to the latest Two Fit Chicks installment, so that will cover at least one or two of the cookies. I am going to try to hit a meeting tomorrow after my Pilates/Yoga class -- there is one right next door -- before I rush off to another lunch meeting.
I promised in my last post to talk about getting started on a fitness program. I really think now is the time, rather than January 1 -- start while there is no illusion that you will keep everything perfect this time. There is no such thing as perfect. Each moment we have an opportunity to make a different choice. All those choices become our lives.

So the first thing is, what do you want? Anne sent me "Last Holiday" for my birthday, and even though the character Georgia is not living her life fully at the beginning of the movie, she at least knows what she wants with her "Book of Possibilities." What do you want to accomplish with your fitness program? Do you want to be able to play with your grandchildren? Do you want to be able to shop all day? Do you want to master a new sport? Do you want to train for an event, like a 5K? Do you want to fit into your skinny jeans? Whatever you really want, visualize it. I have "treasure maps," collages that I use to help me visualize my goals. One of the images from last year was Jillian Michaels doing a push-up. Thanks to my TRX class, I can actually do a push-up now. It doesn't matter if your goals seem silly -- I would recommend keeping your treasure map away from prying eyes and be really honest about what is going to get you excited about fitness.

Second, assess. What are you doing now? What can you do now? What do you like to do? Don't immediately plan to ramp up to a 6-day-a-week intense program if you are currently a couch potato. That's the way to become discouraged and maybe even injured. Don't decide to train for an Ironman when you've never done a race before. If you want to do an Ironman someday (great goal, but not for me, thanks), break it down: You will need to be able to swim. You will need to bike, and run. Are you doing any of those things? If not, pick one and start with that. Maybe train for a 5K or a long bike ride like the ones put on by the National Multiple Sclerosis society. But if you don't even own a bike, maybe start with a Spinning class before you go out and spend $1000+ on a brand-new ride. I'm a big believer in waiting to spend money until you know you're serious. I bought my bike for my first triathlon about 2 months before I did the race -- before that I trained in Spinning classes. I didn't need piece of equipment sitting in my garage making me feel guilty. If you think fitness purchases will motivate you, go to a friend's house and look at their $2000 NordicTrak clothes hanger. Use your goals to motivate you, not guilt!

Get help if you need it: If you're dealing with serious injuries, you may need to work with a physical therapist to determine what is safe and reasonable for you. I have gone through two or three bouts of physical therapy and it has always really helped me. Recently, because I was dealing with some joint issues that weren't severe, I talked to a personal trainer I know and trust who suggested some adjustments I could make to my posture. I knew her from some classes I had taken so I was sure she was knowledgeable and would give me good advice.

Next, make a plan for the next month. What are you going to do? When are you going to do it? When are you going to take a rest day (or days)? Plan activities that are fun and that will stretch you just a little. Sign up for any classes you want to take and then put your plan in your calendar like any other appointment.

Don't be afraid to start small and go one step at a time. As I said in my last post, I did daily walks for a long time before I tried to run. Once I had been doing the walks for a while and they felt comfortable, I signed up for a gym and started doing a simple strength training program I got out of a magazine. Then, after a month or two, I signed up for a yoga class at the gym. I liked the yoga class, so I tried another class.... The point was, I got comfortable with one step before adding or moving on to the next.

The biggest thing, though, is not to let setbacks start to build momentum. If you miss one day's workout, just do the next one. Don't wait a week so you can start out "perfect" again on Monday. If you feel frustrated and uncoordinated in your step aerobics class (like I did), try something else that sounds fun. Not every class is going to work for you: Sometimes the instructor bugs you, or the class is too crowded, or you just don't like it. Be patient with yourself, too. I still can't do all the reps with the instructor in my TRX class. I do what I can. I have gradually gotten better since the first class, and I know if I stick with it I will get stronger. That's the point, right? I don't tell myself I'm "weak" or "hopeless," I focus on how much I'm improving.

When you feel frustrated, that's the time to pull out that treasure map and remind yourself what you're working for. You can do it.

Seriously, though, start now. In fact, I'm going to quit typing and get dressed for my workout.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Putting it all together

I still haven't found a good solution to post my workout logs somewhere that is easily viewed by readers. I am not sure how many people would want to see that but I thought it might be worth posting my general workout plan -- this is what I'm planning to do in the coming weeks. I find it hard to operate without having at least a loose plan -- it's hard to know how to fit everything in without one:

Sunday: 30 minute run in the morning; 1 hour swim practice in the evenings
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 30 minute run OR 45 minute strength training class (still trying to figure this out)
Wednesday: 45 minute Pilates/Yoga mat class
Thursday: 30 minute run in the morning, 1 hour Pilates Reformer in the evening
Friday: 30-45 minute TRX class followed by 45 minute Group Cycling class
Saturday: Pilates Reformer

If you're just starting out on a workout program, this might seem like a lot of stuff, but believe me, I built up to this gradually. I spent a full year just going for morning walks before I ever tried to run, for example. I plan to do a post later on starting out, but my basic advice is just this: Start with what you like. Start small and work up to more when you're ready. Make it fun.

There are probably also hard-core athletes thinking -- Where are the long workouts? Where are the heavy weights? This time of year, I really just try to keep it fun. For me, fun is doing a lot of different things. And since I don't love to do traditional strength training in the gym, I do it in classes so that I get guidance from the instructor and have other people there to make it social. As far as the runs go, fun is keeping them shorter and picking up the pace a bit -- that also helps keep me from getting too cold.

There are some weak spots here -- just because of the way classes have worked out, I have a lot of strength-oriented things late in the week but not a lot earlier in the week. I think because I'm using body weight and not doing heavy-duty lifting for this strength training, it's probably OK to stack things up and then get my rest early in the week. I don't tend to be very sore after any of these workouts except TRX, which is the most challenging.

This past week I took Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday off working out and skipped my Thursday run because I had a cold. I am planning to get a run in this morning but will take it pretty easy since it's been a while.

I know a lot of people don't plan rest days, but I like to have it in the schedule so it doesn't just feel like I skipped a workout. I will sometimes do a walk on my rest day if I feel restless and want some activity.

Oddly enough, I feel like I'm making more progress on weight loss since I scaled back on my long runs. Has anyone else noticed this weird phenomenon? I really think it's a combination of being more conscious of my food intake (no long runs to justify a "what the heck" attitude) and adding in strength training. I'd be curious to know what other people are doing for their workouts. Do you have a plan or just go by feel on a day-to-day basis? Do you stick to one activity or mix it up? Do you plan rest days?

Friday, December 11, 2009

New toys

My husband and I decided to get iPhones as an early Christmas gift to each other. I knew I would love the iPhone because I liked my Touch so much, but didn't realize how addictive a gadget could be. I love all the apps and love having one thing to carry around instead of two. So far my experience with AT&T has been fine, especially because I can use WiFi at home and at so many other places where I use my phone. 3G coverage around here is a little spotty.

I just had a birthday so I had a little extra money burning a hole in my pocket, so I just ordered a car stereo that will let me connect my iPhone.

Now I just need to do some Christmas shopping for other people!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Biggest Loser Finale: Lots of Surprises and Spoilers Ahead

For once, I watched "The Biggest Loser" live and didn't wait until halfway through so I could zip through the commercials. In a way, it was nice to have a few breaks during the show to be able to talk about it. If you missed it, you can watch all kinds of videos on the NBC site, including clips that didn't make it into the show.

The big news was that Amanda won the America's Choice vote to compete for the "Biggest Loser" prize. She looked fantastic. Liz looked sadder and grayer than the last time we saw her. I think she's had a tough time getting back to her old life.

I enjoyed seeing all the contestants, and it became really clear that they had started out with a really big group this time around once they started doing the weigh-ins. People who didn't look like they had lost much to me had actually lost 100+ pounds, they had just started out very big. You get so used to seeing the contestants smaller that it's easy to forget where they started. That's why the animated "befores" that walked out onstage with some of the contestants were really amazing -- you could actually compare the contestants side-by-side and see how far they had come.

The competition for the at-home prize was even more exciting to me than the competition for the final "Biggest Loser" title. There were some amazing weight losses among the at-home players, as player after player posted huge losses. For a while, it looked like Tracy was going to take the title, but then Rebecca smashed her record by losing almost 50% of her starting weight. You can see the full numbers breakdown on the season's wikipedia site.

I was excited for Rebecca. She seemed like a great person and she obviously worked like crazy. I don't like her new look much, because I think it makes her look old, but she was obviously thrilled to win and seems very genuine. The miniskirts and the blonde helmet hair don't suit her well -- it seems like she's trying to be someone's idea of a pretty girl, instead of just being her adorable self. But I think that a huge weight loss like that would add a lot of new pressures, and after some time she will figure it out. She seems too level-headed to let herself get knocked off-kilter for long. (I have to say that maybe being a dark brunette myself is coloring my perceptions here -- I loved Rebecca's old hair color, if not always being crazy about its style.)

I was glad that the much-hinted-at proposal was not between Daniel and Rebecca, but between Antoine and Alexandra. They seemed a little more ready for that kind of thing. They make a cute couple and they've had plenty of time together to get to know each other in real life. They also didn't seem to have brought as much baggage to the show as some of the other contestants.

Speaking of baggage, Abby looked radiant. I was happy to see her doing so well. Shay also seemed to be getting along fine, and was given a little extra incentive to keep losing -- Subway is going to give her $1000 per pound she loses by the next season's finale.

Both Rudy and Danny had lost a lot for the finale, but looking at the two of them, it was pretty clear that Danny had lost more. It was amazing that Rudy was able to do as well as he had -- we found out that he works 70 hours a week. I guess that takes away any excuse I ever thought I had for not working out. But Danny had lost a higher percentage and got the title. I think, though, that it is pretty clear that everyone who went on the show this season feels better off for it.

We don't have to wait long for our next TBL fix -- Season 9 is already well underway and will premiere in early January, just in time for all those New Year's Resolutions.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Knowing when to take a rest day

Rest days are a big feature of my workout plan. You might not guess it from reading all my crazy workout spotlight posts, but I love my days off working out too, and they usually leave me feeling energized and ready to get back with it.

Yesterday was my rest day and I thought I'd be pumped up to run today. Not so much. I woke up feeling achy in weird places, like my back and my left hamstring and the backs of my arms. I just couldn't seem to get it together. I felt completely lethargic. I decided to take a walk instead and did OK with that, getting in 40 minutes at 3.1 mph, according to RunKeeper. Not super speedy but not a lazy stroll, either. My eyes were feeling itchy and dry and my lips were chapped.

This afternoon I was so tired I was having trouble working up the ambition to leave work. And then my throat started to hurt and it all made sense. I had felt mildly crummy Sunday night and Monday too. My mood was really low and I had no energy. My husband had an ear infection last week and it wouldn't be surprising if I got some of those germs.

Even before I felt like I might be getting sick, I knew that it would be a bad idea to push it and go running. Normally even when I feel lazy there is a strong part of me that knows I'll feel better later if I "Just Do It." But today, it felt like going to run would be an act of violence against myself, and I am glad I listened to it. Even if I had managed to get out there and run, I would have felt terrible and it would have been that much harder to do it the next time.

The tricky part is knowing when it's one of those days when it's better to go even when I don't want to, and when it's one of those days when I really need to rest. After all, I don't want to talk myself out of every workout just because it's getting colder outside and I would rather watch TV or play with my new iPhone. But sometimes I just know, and today was one of those days.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Meeting today: Disappointing all around

I have a work-related commitment tomorrow during my regular Weight Watchers meeting, and I was anxious to find out if there were any exciting changes to the program, so I went to a meeting today. This was the meeting I started with when I rejoined Weight Watchers, and I am really glad I switched meeting. The same member that monopolized a lot of time with her pumpkin muffin recipe was going on and on again today, and her voice just set my teeth on edge. The meeting topic was boring -- holiday stress, again -- and the leader kept asking over and over whether any of us eat in response to stress. Well, it is a Weight Watchers meeting -- of course we do, and none of the antidotes are suggestions we haven't heard before.

There was no talk about any changes to the program until I asked. There were no changes, except that there are nicer-looking books and the trackers have wider lines in them. And, of course, there are new Member Kits and cookbooks and all that jazz. And there is a little pamphlet with tips and a recipe.

Yawn. Not worth going to a Monday morning meeting for, especially since I had a gain. I think it's a consequence of weighing in the day after a party and not anything to worry about. My birthday is coming up on Wednesday and we celebrated a little early.

I'm sick of the "Survive the Holidays" stuff I see everywhere. The problem is not a problem of survival. Our issue is getting through the holidays without popping a button on our fat pants, not managing to live through them.

Stress is a natural part of life. Let's stop talking about trying to distract ourselves from our emotions with knitting or cleaning house or taking a walk. Let's accept that we can survive a little stress. Let's notice our emotions and realize that if Uncle Fred aggravates me, it doesn't mean that either of us is a terrible person. We all step on each other's toes now and then and most of the time, we do it without meaning to. Sure, there are a few people out there who like to intimidate others and make them feel bad about their lives with nasty pointed questions, but mostly it is just social blundering.

And if you're doing too much: STOP. Maybe you don't need to send a holiday card to anyone who ever said hello to us and bake 4,000 cookies of 5 different kinds to give to everyone (who probably is on a diet too and really doesn't want the extra temptation). No one will hate you if, instead of poring through dozens of stores and catalogs and websites to get the exact perfect gifts, you get everyone gift certificates for iTunes or Starbucks or spa treatments or Here's a big anti-stress secret: People who love you do not want you to put yourself through the wringer or into excessive debt to please them.

I am hoping that the next 4 weeks of Weight Watchers aren't more of the same, but I'm imagining that they will be. I think that maybe the boring meeting topics might at least partly explain why attendance at December meetings is light.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Workout Spotlight: Hot Yoga

I got the latest O Magazine yesterday, and there was an article about a woman who was 83 pounds overweight, divorced, and deeply in debt and decided to change her life with 60 days of Bikram Yoga. I read it with interest because I recently did my first hot yoga class. Just like Spinning, the name Bikram Yoga is trademarked, so you can't call your workout that without going through special licensing and training procedures, so knockoffs of Bikram are usually called Hot Yoga.

I didn't think I would like it. I had heard Jillian Michaels talk over and over again about how much she despised it because it could make you dehydrated. I was more worried about being uncomfortable and stuffy, but there was a free class at my studio by a visiting yogi (who actually was Bikram-trained) and I wanted to give it a try. There were 30 or so people packed into the tiny hot yoga room, and an instructor whose face suggested she was in her late 50s or early 60s but had an incredibly fit body prominently displayed in a teensy leopard-print halter and miniskirt. I am glad we weren't required to wear the costume. We were supposed to wear shorts but I could only bring myself to wear capris.

Our room was only heated to somewhere in the 90s, but real Bikram studios are heated to 105. I felt very warm but not uncomfortable, and the heat really did help me feel more flexible. In India, where yoga originated, every yoga class is probably a hot yoga class. The instructor was excellent at cueing the postures, and because some of them were unfamiliar to me, I listened carefully to every word she said. I found myself more able to tune out my internal chatter because of this, but if I was, like the woman in the article, doing the same poses every day for 60 days, that monkey mind might creep back in. I really enjoyed the class because we changed poses frequently, but repeated sequences a few times so I got a chance to get deeper into the poses and push myself a little further once I figured out what I was supposed to be doing.

I am not sure I'd want to do it every day, like true devotees of Bikram, unless I had endless time to work out each day so I could get some variety in my workouts. I felt good for the rest of the day, though, not wrung-out and exhausted like I might expect. I did go swimming later that day and didn't notice being any more tired than usual.

As far as the woman in the article's transformation, I'm not sure that Bikram yoga had any special magic -- I think it was the act of stretching herself and committing herself to a radical change. I know that I have been in a situation like hers before, and the biggest roadblock for me was the inability to imagine a different future was possible. Once I was able to get past feeling stuck and hopeless, change could happen. I think the secret is to commit to something, preferably something radical, to unstick yourself and jumpstart that change process. If what you're doing isn't working, do something, anything, that will take you in the direction you want to go.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Lose It! Online: Review

I love the new online interface for "Lose It!" with one huge exception: It does not allow me to post a link to my profile. To share my log with someone, they have to become my friend. That seems cumbersome and silly. FitDay offered a sharable link to the profile and I think that it would be useful for LoseIt! to do the same.

It does allow you to create and print some very slick reports, which would be great for sharing with a trainer or dietician. This is a really nice feature. I love the exercise summary (see above), which adds up the time you spent doing each activity and gives you a running calorie count.

I am finding it a drag to log both in Weight Watchers and this, so I will probably just use this one as an activity log and keep tracking my points in Weight Watchers online. I have a little hope that one of the changes coming next week might be some changes to the online logging for WW Mobile -- it would be nice if there were activity summaries and options to share your logs there.

Tuesday is my meeting, but since I'm an online member, I expect to see the changes tomorrow in my log. I'll be curious to see what they are and hear what other Weight Watchers think about them.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Good Health Guidelines: A scary story

I was talking with a woman in my meeting who was almost to Lifetime. She just has to maintain for one more week to make her goal weight. "I'm doing really well," she said, "but I've lost a lot of hair." She said her daughter had lost hair too.

I said, "I remember I heard that's why they added the healthy oils guideline, because people were losing hair."

She said, "Really? That's the one I never get."

So seriously, Weight Watchers, cutting back on fat is a great way to cut calories, but keep it within reason. If you seriously can't stand to spend two points a day on oil, make the first two teaspoons of healthy oil a free food. I doubt you will see much of a dent in your weight loss by adding two points a day. Or at least make sure you're eating some foods with healthy fats, like peanut butter (not PB2, which has no fat), fish, avocados, or nuts. Your body needs fat to make hair, not to mention brain cells. I have had good weight loss on weeks that I followed all the GHGs to the letter even when I went a few points a day over. I think this was partly because I was skimping on real foods to make room for things like fat-free popcorn and treats like dark chocolate and wine. When I eat real food, I'm more satisfied and less likely to go grazing through the pantry.

Being at a healthy weight is important for health, but so is giving your body the building blocks it needs to grow and repair itself. It's easy to lose sight of the real goal: Feeling good and being fit to live an active, happy life. Take care out there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Biggest Loser Week 12: The Final Challenge

Just as I feared, the final challenge on "The Biggest Loser" was a marathon.

I have nothing against the marathon itself, but I really think that a race like that should be done for your own personal satisfaction, not because you're forced to do it. I know how horrible a half marathon can feel even when you feel ready for it. From the way the contestants were running, with their arms held in tight angles next to their chests, it didn't seem like anyone had taught them proper distance running form, and I'm not sure any of them had run very far before they got their "care package" letting them know what their final challenge was.

On the plus side, though, it was not a race this time. Contestants were free to walk or run, or switch back and forth between the two as much as they wanted. Everyone who finished the 26.2 miles got a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The contestants also seemed to be getting plenty of support along the way. Water bottles appeared and disappeared. When Danny started having trouble with his knees, he was able to stop and get them iced down until he was ready to continue. There were also special support runners who appeared to help the contestants through rough patches: Friends, family, former contestants, Bob and Jillian. Everyone finished the race and won the $10,000 for the charity of their choice. Rudy ran the entire way and took a little more than 5 hours to finish. Amanda, though she had times when she was crying and said she couldn't do it, ran and walked and finished about 20 minutes later. Liz and Danny ended up walking a lot and taking some breaks, and took more than 7 hours to finish. When you consider that the contestants were used to working out 5-6 hours a day on the ranch, the marathon seems a little less extreme.

I think the reason for the marathon is to answer critics who say the rate of weight loss on "The Biggest Loser" is unhealthy. Juxtaposing footage of contestants looking fit and finishing a marathon with footage of them practically dying on the first day just walking or running a mile is a pretty definitive answer to that criticism. Obviously they are better off than they were before. Obviously they are healthier. Sure, it's not realistic to expect that people in normal situations could lose weight at "The Biggest Loser" rates when they're working and spending time with their families. That's why contestants are so nervous about returning home.

That was the other element to this episode: Footage of the contestants at home, struggling to maintain their weight loss routines in the environments where they gained their weight. Danny and Liz both seemed to be struggling to fit back into married life. (Thankfully, there weren't a lot of specifics given on this. The couples deserve some privacy.) Rudy had a demanding job and his daughter seemed to have severe separation anxiety. He said he had to sneak out of the house to go to the gym because she was so afraid he would disappear again. He also was learning to talk about his feelings for the first time with his wife, which seemed awkward. Amanda said she was finding it harder to stick to her diet in an environment where all kinds of food was readily available.

Despite all of these challenges, the contestants posted some impressive weight losses. Danny actually averaged almost a pound lost a day while he was at home -- 59 pounds in 60 days. Rudy wasn't far behind with 43 pounds. Liz and Amanda both lost 16, which puts them below that famous yellow line, with viewers able to choose which of them will compete in the finale. I tried to get on to vote for Amanda from my iPhone, but either it wasn't mobile-friendly or I wasn't looking in the right place. Voting is now closed.

I'm looking forward to the finale. As you can tell, I'm rooting for Amanda, but I really do think all four of these finalists are winners. We will also get to see how the at-home contestants did.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Weigh in and other updates

Today was Week 12 back at Weight Watchers for me. I weighed in at 170.6, down 6.2 from my original weigh in. It has been a bit up and down for me since I started, and I was happy that this week was back down a little. I can't attribute the loss to any great behavior on my part this week, so I think it may be that the thyroid meds are making a difference. I haven't noticed a major difference in the way I feel, but my mood has improved a littl

In other news, when I posted about wanting a simple, online fitness tracker with an iPhone app, Miss Klutzy asked why I didn't just use Lose It! since I liked that app so much. When I was using it before, it didn't have any kind of an online sharing component, but one has been added, along with cool reports and summaries. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an easy way to share a link to my profile, but if you would like to search for me, my email address on it is toledolefty at gmail dot com -- same address as in my profile here. I think you have to be a member to view other people's profiles.

I am not sure whether I will track both food and activity or just food, since I am still using the Weight Watchers iPhone app. I hate to try to track using two different systems.

I also tried out a cool app for the iPhone 3GS called RunKeeper. I used the free version. It works very similar to a Garmin or other GPS device. Here is the info for my run today (I decided to make the map private, so you have to trust me that it also mapped my activity). I was surprised at my pace -- slower than I would have thought, though I was going into a pretty stiff wind for about the first mile. It's interesting. Not sure I'd use it for every run because I don't want to get too wrapped up in things like pace when I'm really just trying to get out there and run.

I thought tonight was "The Biggest Loser" finale, but it's not. There is one more final challenge before the finale. Let's hope it's not another marathon!
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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