Thursday, February 28, 2013


I finally figured out how to eat less than 1,200 calories in a day.  The picture to the left shows my net calories for the last three days.  I had a pretty significant workout, plus shoveling snow, yesterday, so with the calories Lose It subtracted for exercise, it worked out to just under 1,200 yesterday, and the day before, where I hadn't worked out, I was almost that much over my calories. Monday was a more typical day.

How did this happen? Tuesday I had all-day meetings plus evening class. I ate a good breakfast at home, and that was the only decent food I had all day. We were having lunch at one of our meetings, and our school usually provides pretty decent meals, so I didn't worry.

I had forgotten that one of our school's donors had provided pizza for the lunch. And it was greasy, deep-dish pizza. There was salad, but by the time I got to it it was all gone, so there was no food other than pizza and cookies.  I had promised my class I would go out with them since it was our last class, and it was a bar, so not a lot of good options there either.  Instead of eating the pizza, I should have waited and gone off-campus, but I didn't really have time. I had a bunch of grading to do. The only good thing I did all day was drink a ton of water, since I was sitting at tables with pitchers and cups all day.  I think the next time we have one of these all-day things, I'm going to pack a lunch. Especially if there's a chance of a repeat of that meal.

Two restaurant meals in one day did not do good things to my body. I woke up feeling like I had chewed on a salt lick, and I didn't want breakfast. Just packing my husband's lunch made my stomach lurch. I didn't eat until after my Spin class, around 11:30, and I had a very clean, veggie-filled meal. And then I really wasn't hungry for the rest of the day. I felt awful, in fact.  I forced myself to have something small when I got home from class because I thought I should.

I didn't really want breakfast this morning either.  So either I have some kind of bug, or food poisoning, or my body is just really not happy about the way it was treated on Tuesday. I had some yogurt with blueberries for breakfast in the hopes of getting some good bugs into my system in case the pizza killed them off.

The nice thing is that I am done with teaching for a couple of weeks. I need to get my syllabus out before I leave for D.C., and I am going to try to get my grades done if I can, too. I don't want to take my laptop with me if I can avoid it, and I can't really grade on my iPad.

Daily Checklists:


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 30 minutes of running, 15 minutes of walking.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 264 calories over budget.  
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Banana, pomegranate, apple, salad with pear, mushroom soup, big pile of roasted burssels sprouts, bell peppers, potatoes, onion, and beets.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: A little over.

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: No exercise other than walking to and from my car. Sat in meetings all day.  
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Obviously not.
  • Take my supplements: No.
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Grapefruit, avocado, pizza sauce. At the bar we had a veggie tray to share, so I might have gotten one serving of veggies that way. 
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Maybe 25.

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 40-minute Spin class, shoveled snow.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": 1,234 calories UNDER goal.
  • Take my supplements: No.
  • At least 3 servings of veggies and 2 fruits: Broccoli, celery, grape tomatoes.  No fruit.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Maybe half that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Biggest Loser Review: Season 14, Episode 9, Fear Factor

 As usual, proceed at your own risk.

The challenge in this episode is one of my least favorite kinds, the "Gang up on your enemy" challenge, this time to see what player is spending a week away from the ranch.  It allows players to make their friends and enemies clear. It was fun to see rivals Joe and Danni both taking care of each other before helping other players. They seem to realize, in a way that other players don't, that strong competition makes them better. It is clear from this challenge that most players want to get rid of Gina after her ridiculous behavior last week.  At the last minute, however, Jackson steps up and volunteers to be sent away instead.  He wants the chance to spend time off the ranch before he is sent home to troubleshoot any problems and have a chance to deal with them.  At the last minute, Allison adds that a second player of Jackson's choice will be going with him, and he seems at a loss until Jeff volunteers. If Jeff can't get away from Gina by sending her away, he will take himself away.  Jeff and Jackson seem to get along pretty well, and it wasn't clear what other player Jackson had a connection with now that Francelina is gone.

(By the way, didn't Francelina look great in her photos?)

Jeff and Jackson's house is a nice but modest ranch in some generic neighborhood with a small inground pool, a few pieces of exercise equipment, and empty cupboards for Jeff and Jackson to fill by going shopping.  They seem to make virtuous choices with food and make the best of their lackluster equipment by going out hiking and doing some interesting garbage-can-themed workouts. Still, we get the sense that they are not doing the kind of intense workout they get on the ranch. Jeff says he volunteered for the "mancation" because he fears failure, and when we see the life he was living back home, we get a sense that he was not living, but just existing. When we see where Jeff started, it's amazing how far he has come.

All of the contestants, and the kids, are given chances to face their fears. Interestingly, we never see what Alex's fear is. She has always seemed a bit shy, and maybe her biggest fear was something that wasn't appropriate to air on national television, or maybe it just didn't make for interesting TV. 

Gina's fear of close spaces was engineered by Jillian into getting into a coffin for 20 minutes with the lid closed.  Jillian says that by quitting and quitting, Gina is not facing the changes she needs to make and is on her way to dying. There are enough hints here to suggest some relationship issues or other issues that Gina is avoiding dealing with by inventing fake drama.  Gina claims that she has never been in a situation where people don't like her before coming to the ranch, but then lists a string of relationships she has ruined with her crazy behavior.  She claims that last week "wasn't me," but it seems pretty obvious that she didn't just start this behavior when she got to the ranch. When she can't control a relationship, she sabotages it. 

I didn't really understand what Bob was doing with Joe and swimming in the ocean. 500 yards is not that far for a strong swimmer like Joe, but without goggles? And Joe's fear of sharks does not seem completely unreasonable considering that he lived in a gulf coast state, so I'm not sure why Bob says that's not his real fear. 

My favorite was Jillian's intervention with Danni, forcing her to get onstage to sing. I was shocked when Danni chose to sing "The Star Spangled Banner," which is a notoriously difficult song, with it's high and low notes. She may just get a lot of baseball game gigs after this performance, though, because she did very well. It was clear that her fear was more about being seen than singing.

The challenges with the kids all fell flat to me. Sunni's fear is talking to her mom about her weight, but her mom should not have had to have such a difficult and embarrassing conversation on national TV. I felt bad for her. Her original angry reaction seemed honest, and then it seemed she was given a script so that the TV audience could feel that the conversation worked. I don't think that she was really happy about any of it.  Biingo's fear of vegetables was pretty strange, and it looked like Bob's solution worked fine but was a lot of work.  I am hoping that eventually Biingo will be able to eat vegetables without having them turned into baby food and snuck into his meat (p.s. why not just use baby food rather than homemade purees?). I have learned to like veggies after being similarly veggie-phobic, so there is hope.  Finally, Lindsay's talk with a guidance counselor that has diabetes was probably the most successful of the kid interventions. At least she didn't have to work with the cheerleaders again.

The challenge this week was another Biggest Loser staple, the "hold onto something for dear life" challenge, this time while dangled off the side of a building on a diving-board-style platform. The diving-board things actually hit a couple of contestants in the face as they fell.  I was rooting for Danni to get immunity, but it was Gina. Interestingly, without immunity, Gina definitely would have been under the line at the weigh-in.  That challenge saved her.

I was amazed by the weigh-in numbers this week. Everyone had incredibly big losses.  It seems to be partly a result of the terrible numbers last week (again, I suspected some players held back in the hopes of ditching Gina), but even Danni had her second big loss in a row. My husband has observed that at some point in the season, the losses really accelerate. We also saw the contestants in their girdles for the first time in the season.  Everyone looks better with a little Lycra. I was not at all surprised about the player who was sent home, because I had just observed that besides Gina, there was only one player I wouldn't miss much.  I did feel bad for the player when I saw the at-home scenes, which just confirmed some earlier observations I had made about relationships that might have made weight loss difficult for that player.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weigh-in February 25: One percent

As of today, I am 1.08% down from my starting weight on January 1. I am 3 pounds away from my goal of being in the 170s by my first March weigh-in.  I'm not sure that I will make that particular goal, but if I have a really good, no-excuses week (like the one I wanted to have last week), it is possible. I'm up just a tick from my midweek weigh-in but down a pound and a half from last Monday.

One secret to having a good weigh-in, I've discovered, is to eat very lightly on the night before your weigh-in, no matter what has happened the rest of the day.  I had a too-big lunch yesterday and wasn't very hungry, so I had half a pomegranate for dinner.

My results haven't been dramatic, but my behavior changes haven't been either. It's surprising to me that such a minor adjustment could make such a big difference. It gives me a sense that when I'm not tracking at all, I must be eating a lot more than I realize.

This week is the last week for me of a 7-week term that has been very stressful. In the next half of the term, I will only have one class in the evenings. I am hoping that this will help me do a lot of things better -- work more on my research projects, eat better meals, and get more exercise.  I love teaching but the disruption of these long evening classes really wears on me.

I have a trip to Washington, D.C. coming up over spring break. I'll be leaving a week from tomorrow.  Though that will also be a bit of a disruption, I love spending time in big cities with public transportation. I walk so much more. I eat bigger meals but don't snack much. It should give me a bit of a weight-loss boost. I am going for a conference that will keep me very busy doing things that are important to me.  It's one of my favorite events of the year.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

What I did this week, February 18-24

My week started out pretty well, but I got off-track on the weekend again. I wouldn't expect much, if any, loss based on my Lose It numbers. It was a busy and stressful week, so I missed some workouts, and that doesn't help with my diet, either.

Monday: 40 minutes of running and 15 minutes of walking.
Tuesday: Swam 40 minutes
Wednesday: No workout, lots of meetings, evening class.
Thursday: Ran 30 minutes, walked 10.
Friday: 20 minute walk, lots of cleaning.
Saturday: Pilates Circuit class.
Sunday: Shoveled snow and cleaned, no real workout.

Last night we went to Ann Arbor to visit friends. I had fun, but overdid it on food and coffee, and then didn't sleep well. Today I was too tired to consider swimming. I fell asleep on the couch whole reading a magazine. Had one of those afternoons where I pick and pick at food instead of having a real meal -- the worst.

I have decided to stop worrying about tracking water on my checklist. I don't want to fuss with special containers. I am confident that since I drink only water, unsweetened seltzer, coffee, unsweetened tea, that liquid calories are not an issue except on the days I overdo the coffee, because I use half and half in it (not much). Restricting myself to two cups of coffee will be good for a lot of reasons. I will also measure out the half and half.

I am going to try to track fruit and veggie servings instead, starting next week. I want to get at least 3 veggies (the more the better) and 2-3 fruits each day. That will help crowd out less-virtuous foods and also boost my fiber.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Daily checklists, Monday Feb 18-Friday Feb 22

Monday (A Very Good Day):

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 40 minutes of running, 15 minutes of walking..
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 14 calories under budget.  
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Way over.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Way over. 


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 40 minutes of swimming.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 231 calories over.  
  • Take my supplements: forgot.
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: A little under.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Just shy. 


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Nope. Had to do some work stuff that co-opted my workout time.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 300 calories over.  
  • Take my supplements: No
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Way under, unless I just forgot to log it. 
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: a little under. 


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 30 minutes of running, 10 minutes of walking. Very cold workout.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 244 calories over.  
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Way under or I forgot to log it.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: a little low. 


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Extra meetings at work are really bumming my flow. No workout today.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was over by quite a bit. Husband and I were together most of the day because of the snow, so we decided to walk to a local restaurant and have a dinner which was expensive food-and-calorie-wise.  
  • Take my supplements: Forgot.
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Really don't log this very well. 
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Only 17 grams. 

A case of the Februaries?

I know that there are some real feelings behind yesterday's whiny post, but I also think that it's partly the cold, the dark, and the time in the term.  Interestingly, I'm giving  another chance, and I just got to the point where Gretchen has a dark night of the soul of sorts, and complains that she's tired of her own voice, her continued failure to keep her resolutions...She mentions that it feels like Groundhog Day, just in time for the holiday, which is coming up. Maybe this is just a February phenomenon.

Just writing the post yesterday felt better, as did the supportive comments. I do feel, as Shauna and Kick Kick said, that things in my life have become a little stagnant. The dreams I have been having are so vivid partly because of the allergy meds I take (my sister had the same experience when she took them) but I think I am also really feeling the need to be more creative. (I don't think anything in particular was on TV, Vickie, I was flipping channels.)

So, "Define the problem." I am not writing because I'm afraid to write. I love writing on my blog because it's easy, and quick, and I get almost immediate feedback. The idea of laboring over a manuscript and then trying to get it published, assuming it's any good, and then possibly facing bad reviews... (yes, I haven't written anything yet and already it's getting panned by the critics! I should be so lucky as to get bad reviews!) The idea of writing for my own satisfaction sounds great, but it's hard to imagine writing and not having someone read it.

To be doing something productive, I spent some time researching self-publishing. I know a couple of people who have self-published books, and they seemed to enjoy the experience. I don't know if I would go that direction, for sure, but it gives me a sense that at the very least, I could self-publish and put links on Facebook and on my blog and have at least a few friends read it. I read (and favorably reviewed on Amazon) my friend's self-published romance novel and it was a lot of fun for $3.99. Why not just do something like that if I'm worried about the whole publishing thing?

First, write. Then figure it out. Starting next week, I'm going to give myself a 15-minute block each morning just for writing (and fun writing, not academic writing or paper-grading) and see what happens.  When I tried NaNoWriMo, I was having fun with it until I got too bogged down in schoolwork and freaked out and quit.  I waste more than 15 minutes a day on Facebook, my real-life equivalent to sitting in an alley with baboons while flipping channels. Why not use that time for something more productive?

Thanks again for continuing to read, comment, and give me a chance to get my head clear. Now, back to the papers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mid-life crisis?

No, I'm not buying a convertible or dating a young guy (who wants to housebreak a new one?), but I have been feeling distracted, moody, and dissatisfied. And I think I'm dissatisfied with myself more than with the external aspects of my life. On paper, things are great. But my attitude has not been so great, especially about work. I am finding it hard to feel engaged with my work, especially with grading papers.

I still have not developed a writing habit, despite this being a big dream and goal of mine. And my dreams are reproaching me. One night I dreamed that I went to a big exciting city, but instead of exploring it, I sat in an alleyway on an old sofa, surrounded by baboons, watching television. Last night, after having told a friend I dreamed of having a house on the ocean where I could putter around all day and write, I dreamed of a spoiled girl who had gotten rich and famous unexpectedly and had a house on the beach. All she did was complain.

I am dissatisfied with my inability to do the things I say I want to do. Write books, lose weight.  Maybe I need a happiness project of my own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Biggest Loser Review: Season 14, Episode 8, "It's all about who can kick whose a**"

I have not finished my grading but decided to give myself a break and do this review anyway. I had a distracted, crummy work day yesterday so I thought that giving myself a fun task to do might get me started off on a better day today. As always, spoilers ahead, so proceed at your own risk.

A former colleague used to say, "It's all about who can kick whose a**," when trying to explain guy culture to me. Guys, he said, needed to size each other up, decide their relative rankings, and then they could work together. My husband confirmed this for me.  Women don't tend to physically fight each other, or even imagine doing so, and they have different ways to determine their Alpha Female status. Male attention, unfortunately, is one of those ways.

This, to me, explains a lot of the drama of this week.  All along, former NFL player Joe has felt pretty secure in his position as top dog, so he has gotten along with the other men in the house.  There is no one who could even remotely threaten him at this point -- Jeff? Jackson? -- as the top male contestant.  Jeff seems like the kind of guy who has always felt comfortable in the sidekick role, and Jackson has his position as funny gay man, so all the men are happy.

Gina, however, is not happy. She is a lawyer in real life, a top dog position if ever there was one. The other women left on the ranch are all prettier and younger than her, and she doesn't seem to be a natural in the mother role. She is this season's Heel, whether she realizes this or not -- this is the role that she was probably cast to play, as a matter of fact.  Casting is extremely competitive, so it's unlikely that Gina, who is abrasive and insecure, ended up there by accident. I'm sure that in casting, the producers could see that Gina could be relied upon to provide drama.  She does, however, have two things going for her.  She is the current Biggest Loser in the house. That definitely confers its own status on the show. And she has figured out how to get plenty of attention from the male trainers -- she fails on purpose so she can throw temper tantrums. She blames a really minor comment Joe makes for making her feel bad, when it's obvious that she is jealous of him because of his unchallenged position as Big Man on Campus.  Dolvett and Bob, for some reason, rush to prop her up, making the other contestants dislike her more but making her happy because she is getting their undivided attention.  Jillian, to her credit, is having none of it.

Alex and Gina both exhibit similar behaviors, but for different reasons. Gina fails on purpose because she needs attention and has figured out that failing is a way to get Self-Esteem Champions Bob and Dolvett to lavish her with praise and individual training.  Alex fails, it turns out, because she has never felt good enough for her family and has become accustomed to her Loser role. 

Interestingly, in the Self-Compassion book I'm reading, author Kristin Neff gives an explanation for why people denigrate themselves in front of others. As social beings, we need to feel that we belong. Being top dog is one way to win acceptance, but taking a submissive role also guarantees us a spot at the table. In clips from Alex's audition tape, we see her in her bathing suit next to mom and sister in bikinis. I think that Alex realizes that her mom and sister are going to feel threatened by her if she comes home pretty and thin and is no longer bottom dog.  Jeff, in fact, may have the same issue. Jeff and Francelina, we find out, are having a little romance, so he seems to have decided that if he can't fit in with his former wolf pack, he will just start a new one.

All of these group dynamics are in the spotlight this week, because the players can all stay on the ranch if they manage, as a group, to meet a pretty high weight goal. It starts at 70 pounds (10 pounds per person), but the kids come on the ranch to help them win a lower goal through a calorie quiz and a physical fitness test.  The kids do pretty well with the calorie quiz, but it's fun to see them smash their past performance record in the physical fitness tasks.  Biingo crushes his situp and pushup records, Lindsay aces the pull-ups (more of a jump-up) and the shuttle run. Sunny beats her former mile time by 3 minutes.  The goal becomes 61 pounds.

The contestants also get to win another 10 pounds off by working together in one of the Biggest Loser's favorite kinds of challenges, a digging challenge in giant sand piles. The contestants manage to work together pretty well, mostly because Gina decides she can best help by staying out of the way. At one point, she falls down (again, I think she's faking) and Joe picks her up. Joe used to play in the NFL, so I'm sure he worked with plenty of primadonnas and drama queens in his time and has had plenty of practice putting aside his personal feelings to serve the team goal.  

One of the most exciting parts of this episode is the high ropes challenge, an activity ostensibly introduced to build team spirit, but really there to take advantage of the various dramatic situations unfolding on the ranch. The challenge involves two people balancing on high wires who have to lean into each other to keep from falling.  The challenge gets harder because the wires get further apart, forcing the pair to lean harder and further into each other.  Bob and Dolvett, rival male trainers, get to try it together. We know from past episodes that Bob hates heights, and we also get the sense that he's not sure he can trust Dolvett. Jillian and Alex, who have had some conflicts but have seemed to resolve them, get to work together. Francelina and Jeff, romantic partners, have to trust each other to provide support -- nice metaphor, eh?  I know from my own experience that when you are overweight, you are desperately afraid of leaning your weight on anyone for fear that it will be too much, and that seemed to be their biggest problem. And, of course, Joe and Gina get matched up. Gina seems surprised that this would happen.  Of course it did. Joe takes it in stride. I think that it is probably harder because Gina is extremely short and Joe is a tall guy.  They do pretty well and it does seem to, at least temporarily, improve their relationship.

What has become apparent in this episode, however, is that this group of people is not working well as a team. The power struggles and drama seem to have sabotaged the group's weight loss -- the numbers are lower than expected for all of them.  I wondered, actually, if there were people who threw the weigh-in in the hopes of getting rid of a troublesome team member. If that was the goal, though, it doesn't work. As usual, it's one of the nice, supportive people who goes home.  The good thing is that the eliminated player seems happy and successful and is pursuing some ambitious goals.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review coming

I'm not letting myself do my Biggest Loser review until after I get my grading done. Look for it tomorrow or Thursday.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weigh-in, February 18: A pause in the action

 No loss, no gain this week. Yes, I am up from my midweek weigh-ins, but Mondays are always my high day of the week. My husband has another cold, so I made him a vegetarian version of my Pho (very good, I made it with tofu and vegetarian base) the night before a weigh-in, besides my usual big lunch with the family.  But not losing is no surprise, because my last couple of weeks have been so erratic on the weight-loss front.

This coming week, I want to have a no-excuses, solid week. No popcorn the night before the weigh-in. No salty stuff.  Regular exercise, and consistent green-zone calorie counts.

I'm not being too hard on myself, though, because I know that I've done well these last two months, and the last couple of weeks are a blip, not a trend. The trend is down, in both total weight and body fat (the red and blue charts, respectively). I can feel my muscles in my arms getting more solid from the swimming and the strength work. My body shape is improving. My goal has always been to build good, sustainable habits that will lead to sustainable weight loss, and that means that I'm going to have some bumps in the road.

I listened to Koren Motekaitis's interview with Kristin Neff yesterday on self-compassion, which she distinguished from self-esteem. I really liked the idea -- self-esteem is telling yourself that you are great, and self-compassion is being kind to yourself no matter what, even if (especially if) you don't feel like you've been great. But it's also not self-indulgence (giving in to every whim), it's taking good care of yourself.  I just used one of my credits to get , since the interview so powerfully affected me and seems to capture a lot of things I have been trying to put into work.

So, the goal for this week is a self-compassionate, no-excuses, focused push toward my goals, so I can get in the 170s by the first of March.

Daily checklist for yesterday:

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: One-hour Masters' swim workout. I almost talked myself out of going but I am very glad I didn't. It was tough but fun.  We did some double-turn 50s, which means we started and finished in the middle of the lane (where the shallow end meets the deep end) so that we did more turns. My turns need the extra attention.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 6 calories over.  
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: 99 ounces. Plus probably more that I didn't log -- I need to work on this.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: 27 grams. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Data crunching

Vickie very sensibly asked on my last post if I could disable the "net calories" function in Lose It, so that I could just track total calories. I poked around in the settings and, apparently, I can't. I'm going to stop trying to juggle two systems in my head and just follow Lose It.

I think it's OK that Lose It tries to hold me to a lower calorie count that what Russ and Jeff suggest. It keeps me a little more cautious. And Russ and Jeff also say that it's fine to go 200 calories or so lower to speed up weight loss.  I also know that my weight loss results are pretty close to what Lose It says as long as I'm exercising regularly. The last couple weeks, I haven't been able to, and that's when the Lose It calorie counts start to feel a little too low.

Now that I'm back to exercising regularly, I'm going to follow Lose It and try to stay in the green zone. I am also going to track my results in a spreadsheet. I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.  I am going to track average calories per day, calories over Lose It's suggested range, total calories burned, and weight loss, along with the Biggest-Loser-style percent of weight lost. I'm curious to see if there is a predictable relationship between my weekly weight loss and any of these numbers. It might help me get a sense of what I need to tweak.

What I did this week, February 11-17, plus future fitness goals

I thought I'd write this post a little earlier than I usually do today.  We are having a lazy morning, though soon I need to get up and start doing the morning tidy-up.

This has been my first real week back since being sick. It feels good to be back on my exercise routine.

Monday: Spin class (35 min) and yoga (45 min) (as I said in an earlier post, I did these back-to-back and so I wasn't at 100% in my yoga class. I'm not sure if that is a problem or not.

Tuesday: Swam 40 minutes

Wednesday: Run/walk workout, 4 10-minute running intervals with walking in between and warmup/cooldown walks. About 40 minutes of running and 15 minutes of walking. My foot did bother me a bit later in the day.

Thursday: Spin class, got there early so I did an additional 10 minutes of lower-intensity riding before the class started, which was 40 minutes and intense.  I also did 12 squats (with 135 pounds on the Smith machine) 12 dumbbell bench presses (20 pound dumbbells) and 12 biceps curls (10 pound dumbbells). My new strength training book arrived so next week I will try the superslow technique for real, but I did go slow with this mini-workout.

Friday: Was all dressed to run, realized my foot hurt and I was exhausted. I did a lot of heavy-duty cleaning that morning, so I think I was on my feet too much. On the plus side, my shower looks great.

Saturday: Pilates circuit followed by ab work.

Sunday: I plan to go to my Master's swim group for the first time in a while. It might be rough since I've missed two weeks.

Checklist for yesterday:

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Pilates Circuit class lasts more than 30 minutes.  
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 227 calories over. Could have gone to bed in the green zone, but my stomach was growling, so I had an apple and a handful of cashews.  The real problem was not this snack, but the post-funeral lunch with friends at a bar. 
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Did not log very accurately -- think I got more than the 50 ounces I recorded.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: A little under.

I'm going to need to start planning better. I have it on my list of things to do today to plan this week's meals.

I need to keep up the training if I'm going to make my fitness goals -- my big one is to do an Olympic distance (2x sprint distance) triathlon. I need to be able to run a 10k, which could be tricky if my foot keeps acting up.  I registered for a triathlon training clinic in April so I need to be fit enough by then to really get all I can out of it.  I plan to do two workouts in each discipline (run, bike, swim) each week, plus keep up with the Monday yoga (even if doing Spin before means I'm not at my best) and the Saturday Pilates circuit. I want to add one more strength workout in for the week, probably on Thursday when I'm going to the gym for Spin already.

This is what it would look like:

Monday: Spin/yoga
Tuesday: Swim
Wednesday: Run
Thursday: Spin/strength train
Friday: Run
Saturday: Pilates Circuit
Sunday: Swim with the Masters

I also want to add an evening walk with my husband a few days a week. I realize that there is no dedicated rest day here, but since my Saturday workout is in the morning and my Sunday workout is late evening, there is a long rest period there.  Plus, if it gets to be too much, I will adjust.

I have a trip coming up in March, which means I have a training break just a few weeks away.  I will be on my feet a lot, walking and using public transit.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


My friend's service was beautiful, exactly what I would want for myself -- some good music performed by his friends, funny and touching stories told by friends of his from different times in his life, a full crowd. Everything very low-key and just the right tone. And, of course, this had to all be planned on very short notice by his wife, who never expected to have to think of it so soon.

It makes me think about what I want to do with the time -- who knows how much -- I have left and the kinds of relationships I want to build. Nothing specific jumps to mind, but I do think my health and fitness goals take an even higher priority when I think this way. Interestingly, a friend I caught up with today had lost 100 pounds since I last saw him, because he saw pictures from his 40th birthday party and didn't want to be that guy anymore. If I had been asked, when all 3 of us were working together, to guess which of my coworkers would die young, it would have been this guy.

Life is full of surprises, good and bad.

I never used to understand funerals, but by the end of this one, I felt all of us had a little lighter load. It's important to have a time and place for grief and remembering, and a group of people to do that with.

I promise a lighter post tomorrow.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Check-in and checklists

This week I have been a little down. I go to my friend's funeral tomorrow, which is weird -- on some level I feel like   I'm going to see him there, which of course I won't. I will see a lot of our former colleagues, which I have mixed feelings about. And because of my gym's policy and the fact that I didn't cancel, I'm actually doing my workout tomorrow morning and bringing my funeral clothes to change into.  It's kind of weird but my friend was a fit guy, so it seems appropriate. It's just going to be a strange day.

I have to get my head back in the game because I have a lot of work to do. I'm getting toward the end of my term and I have a lot of grading to do.  I am hoping to get caught up a little over the weekend.

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: 45-minute Spin class, plus I got there early and got some bonus Spinning in, 55 minutes total. Also did 12 squats, 12 bench press, and 12 biceps curls (some weight training better than none?)
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was 86 calories over, but because of all the exercise calorie credit, the green zone was too high. Went out to eat for dinner and overdid it -- enjoyed it at the time but I was too full hours later when I went to bed -- no fun.
  • Take my supplements: Yes
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Lots of water, way over the goal.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: Lots of fiber. Just too many calories too.

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Took today off formal exercise, but did some serious housework -- deep-scrubbing my stand-up stall shower is hard work.  Was all dressed to run but I just couldn't go -- my feet hurt and I was tired. I didn't get good sleep last night.
  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": A little over, but since I didn't get any exercise calorie credit, being over in Lose It still puts me within my personal goal.
  • Take my supplements: Am going to do it as soon as I finish this post.
  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: I need a big glass of water after this post too.
  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: 34. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Review: HomeRoutines

A commenter suggested the HomeRoutines app and I am really loving it. It is available for the iPad, iPod Touch, and the iPhone for $4.99. The nice thing is that it is a Universal App -- so if you buy it for your iPhone, you can also use it on your iPad, and vice-versa, as long as they are on the same iTunes account. The first screenshot on the left is from the iPhone, but the other screenshots are from my iPad.

The concept is to do small, manageable tasks often instead of large, marathon cleaning sessions. There are morning and evening routines, plus weekly tasks and tasks in a different focus zone each week.  These ideas will be familiar to anyone that ever tried FlyLady, but thankfully, this app does not constantly berate me to wear shoes or send me emails hawking feather dusters.

Though everything is fully customizable, the app came pre-loaded with sample routines to get me started. That was good, because I would have felt a little overwhelmed trying to come up with my routines completely from scratch. I ended up customizing the sample list only slightly.   The app came with "Feed the cat" as one of those sample tasks -- I would not have thought to put that on my list if it hadn't been in the app, but I changed "the cat" to "cats" and also added a reminder to give my cats their medicine.  I also like "Check Calendar," which I don't always think to do on my own.  I added a couple of tasks of my own, and customized or deleted others. It's easy to add, delete, edit, and rearrange tasks, so there is no pressure to start off with a perfect routine -- mine has continued to evolve as I have used the app. Once a task is done, I tap the star next to it and it turns into a gold star (Gretchen Rubin would approve).  I love the "Accomplishments" list, which gives a full list of tasks done today.

Each morning and evening has "15 minutes in target zone" listed. This means that we choose from the list of tasks for the current week's zone. Since each zone gets hit one week a month, over the week, everything on the zone list should get done by the end of the week. I edited the zones a bit to fit the rooms we have in our house.

There is an online account component too. If you don't like typing into your iDevice, you can log in to the online account and use your computer to customize routines.  HomeRoutines syncs all devices logged in to the same account so tasks and their status are shared and updated.  It isn't connected to the Apple account, so I think multiple family members could share one HomeRoutines account and, if they all had bought the app for their i-devices, share their routines across all of them.  My husband doesn't have the app on his phone (yet) so I haven't tested this. Update: I bought him a copy of the app and it does work -- this makes HomeRoutines extremely useful for sharing tasks. I have been leaving my iPad at home so he can see what I've checked off and what is left to do.  I like the idea of something to make it easier to share housework task lists -- it means that I don't have to do everything myself but I also don't have to be the boss/bad guy saying that things need to be done.

The amazing thing is how much these small routines accomplish.  I haven't gotten deep into the zone work yet, and my house already looks a lot better. Last night, my husband was tired but we hadn't done any of our evening tasks. I said we could skip the "15 minutes in the target zone" task but that I wanted to do the others. I timed it -- 8 minutes, since we were both working and dividing the labor.  In that 8 minutes, we had our living room, dining room, and kitchen clean, cats fed and medicated.  As expected, the first time we did the routines, they took longer, but after the initial cleanup, the house stays looking good with minimal effort.  I haven't had much to do to "Tidy up the living room" since the first day I did it.

There is also a general to-do list that can be used for any kind of task you want to remember to do. The sample tasks were things like "Return library books," but I have added things like "Buy new smoke/CO detector." These are one-time tasks.

I am looking forward to seeing what things look like after we have been using this for about a month.  The big challenge will be continuing to stick with the routines once the novelty has worn off.  I want to have the kind of house where friends and family could just drop by for a visit anytime. Keeping that goal in mind will help me stay motivated to stick with this.

Update: We are still using it and I still love it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Daily checklists, February 12-13

Teaching nights are hard. I don't get a real dinner break so it's easy to rationalize snacking.


  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Ran 40 minutes and walked 15

  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was over -- but within 100 calories.

  • Take my supplements: Took with lunch

  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: Didn't log carefully enough.

  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: 37

  • Yesterday:

  • Average 300 minutes of exercise, with at least 30 minutes per day: Swam 40 minutes.

  • Log all food in Lose It! and stay in the "green zone": Was over -- poor (no) meal planning.

  • Take my supplements: Took with lunch

  • Drink at least 90 ounces of liquids today: 96

  • Get at least 35 grams of fiber: 42

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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