Monday, September 30, 2013


It started innocently enough. I was in Miami for training this weekend, and I went with a friend to lunch before it started at this weirdly opulent outdoor restaurant that also turned out to be a hookah lounge (we did not indulge in anything but food). I took her picture because this place looked like something out of Arabian Nights, and she did the same. Since it was Miami, it was hot and I wasn't wearing my jacket. The picture above was the result. Yes, my smile looks nice and it's not a bad picture from the neck up, but all I can focus on is how wide I look and how big my arms seem. I cropped the picture too, though I was tempted to crop down to just a floating head.

Miami is a body-conscious city anyway -- people of all body types were walking around in almost no clothes. The hostess for this weird restaurant looked superhuman, with obviously fake breasts (not huge, but too perfectly high to be real) and a perfectly tanned and toned body. Most of the time I was indoors in my training with other people in work-appropriate clothes, but I did spend about an hour on the beach after it was over with some of my fellow trainees. We saw lots of people in thongs there -- I was wearing my little swim dress, and though it felt frumpy, I was happy for the coverage. 

I think the worst was that one of the women I went to the beach with had gotten gastric bypass surgery fairly recently. I judged her to be about my size, though a completely different body shape, sort of an inverted triangle to my pear. She said she was wearing a size 10 -- I wear a 14. I am guessing that in pants she probably could wear a 10, since her legs and hips were really thin. She seemed to be hinting to me that I should get the surgery -- or maybe she was just excited about it and I was sensitive? At most, if I were trying to get to my skinny-armed college body, I would need to lose 40 pounds -- I am trying for a more realistic 25.  Those aren't weight-loss surgery numbers.

All of this left me feeling really deflated (though I felt like I looked inflated). I also feel kind of silly about all of the pictures I have been taking or having taken of myself lately.  Maybe I should give up on trying to dress cute until I lose dozens of pounds?

The weird thing was that during the beach time itself, I mostly didn't feel body-conscious, because most of the people there were so obviously not -- a lot of the women wore thongs and men wore Speedos, cellulite and excessive body hair notwithstanding. There were some perfect bodies but a lot of imperfect ones too, and it was hard to be unnhappy when the sun and the surf were so beautiful. I felt self-conscious inside the dark conference rooms and when I was getting dressed, or when I was having dinner with the woman who had gotten WLS.

I also felt old. A lot of the staffers were in their 20s and there were a lot of older ladies in their 60s and younger women in their 30s among the people being trained. I felt like the only one in my 40s. That was a little bit of a weird feeling, too.

Sorry for the mopey post. To make it up to you, I'll leave you with a picture of the ocean. I got to swim for a little while, and it was gorgeous. It was definitely the highlight of the trip.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rental is the New Black

Those of you who have been reading for a while probably already know all about the Gwynnie Bee clothing subscription service (affiliate link). There is currently for subscribers, who can win a free month by uploading a video telling why #rentalisthenewblack

I had never uploaded a video to YouTube before. I made mine in the iPad version of iMovie.  You can see it below, or go to the contest page to view the videos and vote for your favorite.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in: Leveling off

Last week was not a great week -- I spent a lot of time working on my normal work plus my promotion portfolio. I let my tracking slide. I had an all-day Sunday thing that was exhausting and resulted in one more day that I didn't eat at home. I'm back up 2 after a great weigh-in last week.

Today has been another rough day but at least I'm logging my food. I got a walk in and am already at today's step goal.

Monday, September 23, 2013

What I did last week

Last week was a busy one. I did not get my steps in most days, and I barely averaged over 10,000 per day even with some really good days.

One bad thing about using a step counter is it can make me feel like any workouts that don't involve steps, like strength training or Spinning, are a waste of time even though they are really very good for me. The whole point of getting it was for me to incorporate more little bits of activity into my day, not to push running to the exclusion of all else.

I really only do one strength workout a week right now, a Pilates Circuit class on Saturdays. It's not really just Pilates -- we use the Reformer, but we also use kettlebells and other weights, body weight, and other Pilates equipment like the Cadillac and the stability chair.  This week I was the only one who went, so the instructor gave me a lot of feedback and cues. She commented a lot on far I had come since I started.

Yesterday was kind of a lost day. We had a big ceremony on campus with Mass beforehand, and I went to both. It meant I was on campus in my regalia from 10:15 to 4:30 -- a lot of standing and sitting but not a lot of walking. I enjoyed seeing al couple of former students at the reception afterward. When I got home I was wiped out, and we went out to dinner at one of those gourmet burger places.

I'm hoping this week will be a little less crazed. I have two small tasks to do for my portfolio, and then I can turn it in almost a month early. I'm hoping this means that it will get some extra attention from my program director and dean, who are supposed to review it, write letters, and then send it along.

Today I have a lot of grading and prep work to do for classes, but I'm going to hit the gym first so I don't miss my workout.

Monday: Spinning class
Tuesday: 20 minutes of running
Wednesday: Walked
Thursday: Walked
Friday: 20 minutes running
Saturday: Pilates Circuit
Sunday: No workout

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in: Down one

This morning's weight was exactly one pound down from last Wednesday's weigh-in.  My rate of loss has definitely slowed a bit, which I expected, but now I only need to lose one pound per week to win my dietbet -- I only have two pounds to go in 19 days. If I could lose three, I would be at the lowest weight I have been for quite a while.

It has been easier since school started because I have been too busy, and too tired, to want to eat much when I get home from work on the nights that I teach.  I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with the classes, grading, meetings. Tonight I have an open house to attend, but at least I can be home by 8:30.  Most of my work and commitments are in the afternoons and evenings, though, so at least I can usually get a workout in during the morning hours.

My next post will be about something besides weight, I promise!

Monday, September 16, 2013


September has been a good month so far, on the weight loss front at least. In the graphs below, the red line represents a rolling average weight, the blue line a rolling average of estimated body fat. The diamonds are the weigh-ins.

The big win for this morning is that I maintained over the weekend. My goal from here out is one pound a week -- I think I have already lost the "easy weight."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What I did this week

This was an extremely busy week for me. I felt like I was running from one thing to another several days, so there were times that I didn't get all of my steps in. I did, however, get better sleep, although other than today I didn't quite manage to sleep a full 8 hours. Getting adequate sleep has helped me more than I would have ever realized without getting the Jawbone UP. Unfortunately, with the kind of work I do, being productive also means sitting a lot, so it's hard to balance getting things done with getting my steps in.

Workouts for the week:

Monday: Ran 28 minutes, plus warmup and cooldown walks
Tuesday: Took an hour-long walk. My legs were sore and I wanted to give them an easier day.
Wednesday: Ran 29 minutes, plus warmup and cooldown walks
Thursday: Spin class. First time back was hard -- it felt great for about 30 minutes, then I was tired.
Friday: Took the day off working out but got all of my steps in.
Saturday: Pilates Circuit, which is strength-based and not step-oriented, did not get all of my steps in.
Sunday: Last workout of the Couch to 5K program, 30 minutes.  Think I might do a 5K on October 6.

Besides my regular work, I'm putting together a promotion portfolio, which involves writing reflections on my work and development. It is excruciating.  I have done three different versions of the Introductory Reflection so far, and have to tweak all my other narratives. I know I have done enough to be promoted, it's just writing about it in a way to prove that to the committee that is hard work.  It involves a lot of butt-in-chair time.  I'm going to try working on it after my workouts next week, hoping that my brain will be more creative after I get my blood pumping.

Have a great week.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in: Finally, some progress!

My weight graph looks kind of like a mountain range.  Today's weight marks the lowest point in at least a month. The weight itself is not what feels like progress to me, it's that tracking my food and keeping my calories within my goal range seems to have become easier.  There are a lot of possible reasons. One is the DietBet, but I don't think it's that. I started noticing that I was hitting my calorie goals more easily a couple of weeks ago, before I joined the game.  It could also be that school has started and I'm busier.  I have done a better job of keeping the junk out of the house. I have gotten better about planning meals. Sometimes I worry that the reason is because I haven't been swimming for the last couple of weeks, and maybe the cold water made me hungier.  I will be starting up again with swimming soon so I hope that's not it.

I suspect that it's probably a lot of little things. I teach the book Good to Great in one of my classes, and the author, Jim Collins, talks about the Flywheel Effect, the idea that continually and consistently working in the right direction builds momentum slowly and imperceptibly over time. I think that could definitely be what is happening, since I have worked on gradually changing my habits rather than trying to do anything drastic.  

I also give some of the credit to getting more sleep. Since we got our Jawbone UP bands, I get a picture each morning of how much sleep I got and how the quality of it was. It helps me to make getting to bed on time more of a priority, because I can see how the sleep is impacting the way I feel.  If I'm tempted to surf mindlessly on the internet or watch a third episode of "Breaking Bad," I think about what I want my sleep graph to look like the next morning.  Sleeping well makes me feel better so I'm not tempted to look to food for energy, and I'm more energetic and feel more eager to work out. My step count is positive motivation too -- so much so that on Monday, when I left my wristband on the counter when I drove to the park for my run, I almost turned around to get it.  I knew that without those workout steps I wouldn't make my step goal for the day, at least as far as the app was concerned.  Never underestimate the power of goofy graphs and charts to motivate a geek, I guess...

I'm happy that I had a good weigh-in, but looking at the first chart above reminds me that I have to keep working my plan, or I'll be back on top of another peak instead of down here in the valley where I want to be.  I want to start making it a steady downhill slope instead of this up-and-down trend. If I shoot for just one pound a week from here on out, I can win my DietBet and also be at my lowest weight in months by October 6. I'd like to beat that by a little and get under 175. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Do you take anything for that?

I like go to psychic fairs sponsored by the Spiritualist church I attend. There is one reader in particular who gives great, detailed readings that really help me focus on my intentions and goals. It sounds pretty hocus-pocus, I know, but it's something that has always interested me and even though I can't explain it in any way that makes sense to my logical mind, I think the insights I get are useful.

Anyway, they also have vendors there selling various things. One of the women I knew from church was selling knives and I bought a tomato knife from her.  (It works quite well, and only cost me $6) We got to talking and I mentioned that I have always been superstitious about the age 46 -- my father, grandfather, and aunt all had heart attacks at that age.  

"Do you take anything for that?" I was a little confused, but I said that my doctor had recommended a low-dose aspirin, so I take that once a day. I also said that I exercise regularly and do my best to eat a healthy diet.  She mentioned some kind of honey that she and her husband take and swear by.

I think that the Baby Boomer generation really was raised to believe that there was a pill or vitamin or herb that could fix any problem. They saw so many medical miracles in their lifetime, deadly diseases that were solved by antibiotics or vaccines, that maybe the belief is natural.  My parents are a little younger, but always had that belief too.  It's not a belief that I share. I'm an Xer, and I don't count on the drug companies being able to solve all of our problems. 

I take prescription drugs as needed, and I have been taking some supplements, though I'm not sure I believe in them. I really feel like the key to most of the biggest medical problems are going to require lifestyle change and not just a fix-it pill.  I see a lot of evidence that things are shifting that direction, with all the lifestyle apps and gadgets.  Lots of people are experimenting with different ways of eating to help themselves feel better, too.  I have a lot of hope that things are moving in the right direction.

Monday, September 09, 2013

DietBet, again

Hannah and Olivia are doing another DietBet, so I decided to join. Summer is over and I'm back to a little more of a routine, and even though I didn't win either of the last DietBets, they did help me focus.

I am not posting my weigh-in photos since I didn't even try to make them look good this time. My weight was up a little this morning as it usually is on Mondays, so the first two or three pounds should be easy to lose. I will keep my updates to once a week or so, because I don't want this to just be a weigh-in blog.

Instead, here's me in a recent fun dress from Gwynnie Bee (referral link). I wasn't sure I'd like the color but it was fun to wear. If you missed my other posts about Gwynnie Bee, you can find them here, or just go to the intro post where I explain how it works.  It's not a bad deal -- I feel a lot happier about my wardrobe now and I'm not buying clearance-rack junk just to have new things to wear. I even have a couple people at my workplace who are thinking about joining.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

What I did this week, September 2-8

Monday: Long bike ride with Jesse, 70 minutes.
Tuesday: Walk/run workout.
Wednesday: TRX workout, 45 minutes. I don't think I will be taking this class again.
Thursday: No Spin class so I went for a walk.
Friday: Ran with my friend, who is 10 years younger than me. This old girl can still keep up.
Saturday: Pilates Circuit class, lots of walking at the Arts Festival.
Sunday: 45-minute bike ride. My hamstrings are sore!

I got a lot more steps in because of the UP. It is pretty hard to do the kind of work I have to do without occasionally getting zapped for sitting more than half an hour. I am a little short today, so I might take a walk around the block later.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Wednesday weigh-in, September 4: Time to get moving again

With Labor Day behind me, summer is officially over.  Time to get focused. To that end, I'm doing another DietBet, starting September 9.  This time I plan to win.

One thing that my Jawbone UP has helped me to learn is that my sleep has been just terrible in the last couple of weeks.  I'm still adjusting to our back-to-school schedule. Partly it's my fault -- I come home from class at 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. all wound up and waste time on my phone when I should be sleeping. My husband also has been waking up and confusing me -- I think it's time to get up. Last night I felt him moving around and thought it must be about time for the alarm to go off. He got up so I forced my eyes open, took my thyroid pill and then grabbed my phone, only to find it was 3:10 a.m. It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have to get up at 6:00 a.m. for school. We are going to try going for a walk when I get home from class -- maybe we will both sleep better. I think it's essential if we're going to make progress on weight loss.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Review: Half Size Me Podcast

I found out about the Half Size Me podcast at Fitbloggin' -- a lot of the attendees are listeners, and it turns out, a lot of them were also guests on the podcast. Since then I have burned through the entire archive and am anxiously awaiting the next episode.

The focus of this podcast, unlike so many others, is not weight loss but weight maintenance. Host Heather has been through not one but two large weight losses. The first time, she lost more than 70 pounds as a teenager but couldn't figure out how to maintain her new body, so she gained all her weight plus another 70 pounds. The second time, she started at 313 pounds and gradually lost more than 170, slowed down a bit by a couple of pregnancies.  She now looks "FAN-tastic!" (to use a favorite Heatherism) and is using her podcast to help others like her find and maintain a healthy weight.

The thing I love best about her podcast is the focus on building a maintenance lifestyle from the start, rather than seeing weight loss as something that should be achieved as quickly as possible. I'm sure a lot of longtime readers of my blog get frustrated with me and my slow progress, thinking, "Why doesn't she just ____" (drop her calories to 1200, cut out all carbs, do Whole 30, etc.)  I did the quick weight-loss thing and like Heather was, found it too hard to maintain. Now I'm trying to find that maintenance lifestyle that I can live with for the long haul. I'm willing to put up with trial and error and error and error rather than live on a rollercoaster again.

It's also interesting that there is no one path to long-term weightloss and maintenance. People on Heather's program have lost their weight in various ways, and many are still experimenting with different techniques to keep the weight off. Heather herself just went through a "metabolism reset" because she was having to keep her calories extremely low to maintain.  I respect that she is presenting this information as a fellow-traveler and not someone who already has all the answers.

Besides the podcast, Heather has branched out into some for-fee services, including a newsletter and an online community. I haven't tried any of those but might give the newsletter (which comes with bonus recorded audio) a try at sometime. It would be a nice way to get more content and support someone who has provided me with so much interesting food for thought.

I'm always looking for good podcasts -- I listen to them when I run or go for walks -- so please feel free to suggest others in the comments.

Monday, September 02, 2013

What I did this week, and workout plans for the next week

One disadvantage to the Jawbone UP app is that it doesn't create the great summary reports available in Lose It! I can still see that I have been making my step goals.

Here's a summary of the last seven days:

Tuesday: Ran 19 minutes, with walking before and after
Wednesday: Swam 50 minutes outdoors
Thursday: Ran 28 minutes
Friday: Last outdoor swim of the season -- 40 minutes
Saturday: Pilates circuit class, plus went to the Fulton County Fair with my nephews
Sunday: Ran 26 minutes
Monday (today): Restorative "Yoga on the Wall" class (loved this) and a 70-minute bike ride with my husband. 

I have done a terrible job of food tracking so starting tomorrow that is my goal for the week -- track everything. It's going to be a busy week where my husband and I will not be eating dinner together even one night, but we have lots of healthy leftovers, including about half of a roast chicken and some quinoa-and-beet salad.

Planned workouts for the rest of this week:

Tuesday: Run/walk workout
Wednesday: Swim at YMCA
Thursday: Group cycling and weights
Friday: Gentle yoga
Saturday: Pilates Circuit
Sunday: Run 

I'm still getting a sense of what I want my regular schedule to be, but I'm trying this arrangement for now.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

NaBloPoMo fail

I missed blogging the last two days in August. There were also several days where I didn't really have anything interesting to say and blogged anyway.  This month helped me confirm that although I like blogging almost every day, it's not worth it to commit to NaBloPoMo when school is in session.
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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