Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In which it's a milestone day for my daughter and me

Today was a big day in our family as our oldest started kindergarten.

It was a big milestone for her and a quiet one for me.

Early in 2010, when I was gearing up my motivation to get healthy and fit, one major goal was to be back at my Lifetime weight by her first day of kindergarten, which then was a year and a half away. It would be 9 more months before I actually walked through the doors of the local WW Center.

Starting kindergarten meant joining a new community - a new school, new friends, new parent friends, staff, etc.

And I knew one thing: I didn't want to be the fat mom anymore.

I have been the "fat kid," the "fat girl" and the "fat woman." Frankly, it sucks, and I didn't want to open my children up to any ridicule in school because of my issues. (At right, that's my daughter and me, October 2010. I was about 1 month into WW and at that time weighed 262 lbs.)

At best kids have no filter and at worst can be cruel, even at a young age. And little girls, oh, forget it.

The thought of my kids getting hit by a jab at me, I couldn't bear it.

I knew when I walked in those doors with her, met her teachers, saw her new friends, etc., I wanted to look "normal" or, better than normal.

So it was super sweet this week that when we went to orientation and I met her teacher, I was better than normal. When I saw her off at the bus stop today, I had just returned from bootcamp and was not only below my Lifetime weight but in the best shape of my life.

I was no longer "the fat mom" but "Marley's mom," "Will's mom," and "Clare's mom."

And, in the end, that's all I ever wanted to be.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Home Weigh-In: Week 4

The good times continued rolling today.

Home scale had me -1.6 to 171. I'm pleasantly surprised at the number given how much I lost last week, but it goes to show I continue to know nothing.

I also have no idea how that correlates to the official WW scale, but I will next week.

My monthly Lifetime weigh-in is next Tuesday and I can't wait to learn the true differential between the two scales.
On Aug. 2, my last WW weigh-in when I reached Goal, I came in at 174.6.

Over the past four weeks I've lost at least 6.6 lbs, maybe more since I'm still unsure what the real results of my first home weigh-in were.

Hoping that all adds up to a nice, official number in the 160s next week. That would be amazing, putting me somewhere within 10 lbs of my personal goal weight, which was one of my goals for the summer.

And, to make it even more meaningful, next Tuesday is the first anniversary of rejoining Weight Watchers. On Sept. 7, 2010 I walked into the local WW Center weighing 282.6 lbs. Let's see what the new number is next week.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Home Weigh-In: Week 3

Oh, what a beautiful morrrrrrning.

Oh, what a beautiful daaaaaaaay.

I've got this beautiful feeeeeeling.

Everything's going my waaaaaaaaaaay.

Yes, people, it's weigh-in day and it is good.

Tuesday mornings are the only time I practically bound out of bed for the 5 am alarm. Like a bizzaro Christmas morning, I want to go downstairs and see what I got.

Alarm sounds, I get up, change into my regular weigh-in clothes and head for the basement. I was particularly excited for today's weigh-in because due to my body's traditional weight-loss pattern, I was due for something sizable this week.

Deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Step on.

Holy shit.


That's -5 from last week. can't be.

Disbelieving, I repeat the process. Inhale. Exhale. Step.



Now, what would be even better is if I knew exactly how this translates to the official WW scale. I believe my home scale is 3 to 3.5 lbs higher than the WW scale, and if that holds it means I am now somewhere in the 168-169 territory. And that, my friends, is within spitting distance of my personal goal, 160.

I'm still 2 weeks away from my September weigh-in, so I'll have to wait. But, wow, it's looking like I am set up nicely for that day.

Now, I've had friends ask: Why don't you just ask if you can weigh in when you go to the meeting?

I would, absolutely, but my 10K training calls for a Tuesday run and I can't fit it in anywhere else in my schedule during the week. So I have to work out Tuesday morning, which means I need to eat before and then after drink a good 32 ounces to rehydrate myself, ruining any true comparison to my home-no-food-no-drink wake-up weigh in.

It's OK, I can wait.

So, ecstatic from my trip to the basement, I had a little pre-run snack then headed out for a 5.5 miler on a seriously gorgeous fall-like morning. Sunny, dry and cool. I had to wear a long-sleeve shirt, that's how chilly it was. And I loved every minute of it.

7:15 am and already two big victories. That's already a great day.

Monday, August 22, 2011

In which not working out was the right thing to do

I planned to hit the gym this morning because tomorrow is weigh-in day (at home, at least) and I am pre-programmed to try and burn, burn, burn the day before.

The alarm went off at 5 am and I hit Snooze, which is programmed for 10 minutes. Next time I heard it and opened my eyes, it was 5:23 am. Not sure how that happened, but I trudged downstairs, workout clothes in hand, already behind the 8-ball when it came to my traditional leisurely pre-workout snack and newspaper reading.

At the bottom of the stairs it hit me: I don't have any clean sports bras. Well, technically I did, but they were damp. I forgot to hang them up to dry before I went to bed. Now it's 5:30 am, and I realize, to my compounding horror, there is no Diet Coke in the fridge.

Frig this, I am going back to bed.

I took these three obstacles as a sign from the universe: You are not meant to work out today.

Too tired to actually climb back upstairs, I laid on the couch and thought it over.

Since I started 10K training in late June, I've worked out 6 days a week - sometimes 7 - due to an increase in run days (3 days a week) and complicated scheduling. I used to "only" work out 4 days a week, and I liked that. A lot.

I will be excited for this 10K to get here and get done so I can cut back a bit for the winter, say bootcamp 2x a week and running 2x a week, indoors on the treadmill. Give these old bones a break and then return to outdoor running and training refreshed and relaxed late winter/early spring.

Since today was not bootcamp or a training run day, I considered it an optional workout.

But, it's the day before weigh in! You have to work out!

No, I told myself, luxuriating under a fleece blanket watching the sky lighten through our living room window. You really don't.

I've done a lot of good work on the eating and exercise front this week and "missing" an optional 45 minutes on the elliptical this morning will not make or break everything.

Normally, skipping a workout would haunt me until the next weigh in. You screwed up! You skipped a day!

But not today.

If you read this blog with regularity, you know I historically struggle with an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to eating and exercise. Either I am 100% committed to being healthy and fit or I am mainlining Oreo Cakesters.

One of my goals, right below returning to a healthy weight, is to learn how to apply moderation to my eating and exercise. To live my WW guidelines, but if I plan an off day - or just have a bad one - get right back on track and move on. If I miss one workout, to realize it won't undo a year of amazing effort.

No guilt and move on.

So far, this past almost-year, I've done well on that front. I've gone on vacation, come home and got right back on track the moment I set my suitcase inside the front door. I'm slowly moving away from all or nothing, but I believe it honestly will take me years to undo my natural instincts on this front.

Despite my current aggressive workout schedule, I never want to live in the gym or be a slave to exercise. Like eating, I want to enjoy physical activity in moderation. I now know exercise can be fun. I want it to stay that way.

And if I work out too much or hold myself to too high a standard, I risk burning out, and that's the first step in a slippery slope I never want to gaze at again.

If asked about weight loss, I always tell people you don't have to live in the gym or go on a reality show to make it happen - and I want to practice what I preach. Because it's true, you don't need to be a workout fiend to work it off.

So in today's case I truly realize rest is good. It is important. It gives your muscles time to repair and strengthen so you can work out better and stronger next time.

And an extra day of rest is welcome this week. My training plan calls for a lot of miles in the coming week, so resting up going in is smart.

And with that, I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

In which I roll 7s and 11s

Today turned out to be the most unexpectedly awesome day.

First, I got to sleep in, a day off from any formal exercise. After 6 days in a row of early-morning alarms and sweating, that alone was great.

After breakfast, I hit the salon and got a great cut from my beloved stylist, then my 5-year-old and I headed to the mall to get her new shoes for school. With the first day a little over a week away, Stride Rite looked like the Fall of Saigon, but amazingly we found two pair in the style she wanted and size she needed. That rarely happens.

Feeling lucky, I hit Kohl's as I had a coupon expiring, and I bought a beautiful wool pea coat for fall/winter. Size? Medium. This time last year my coat was a 3X.

Came home, had lunch and riding a wave of unexpected energy, I went through all three kids' clothes to bag the small stuff, find the fall/winter stuff and determine what they need for fall.

Thanks to hand-me-downs from generous friends and stuff I bought at the end of the season on deep discount, none of them need anything.

At this point I'm thinking, "I gotta play the lottery today."

After our youngest went down for a nap, my husband hung with the kids while I ran more errands. Alone. If you're a mom, you know solo errand-running is really, really nice.

So I'm driving around, windows open, beautiful summer day all around and Aerosmith's "Back In The Saddle" starts up. The first 28 seconds of that song are pure kickass. Love it.

And it hits me, This is a damn good day.

Other things that went my way:

  • Sales clerk asks to see my license when I pay with my credit card. Stares at license. Stares at me. Stares back at license. Looks up: "Um...did you lose a lot of weight?"

  • When shopping for the kids, the clerk asks if I have any coupons. I hand her the one I have for 15% off my entire order and she says, "Oh, keep that one. I have a 25% off one I can use for you."

  • Tried on some pajama pants. They were too big. Size? L. Why do I keep automatically grabbing Ls? Found Mediums on deep discount.

  • Since I was in the neighborhood, I hit a random grocery store to get some raspberries and found them on sale.

  • At the same store I found my favorite Luna bar flavor, Chocolate Raspberry, for which I've been searching high and low for 4 weeks. Every store in my area all of a sudden stopped carrying it. Until today.

    I felt really great today. I looked really great today. Everything was going my way. If you asked me to scale a tall building in a single bound, I would have told you to stand back and make sure you get a good picture.

    Hell, I should have stepped on the scale today. Given the day I was having it probably would have told me I weighed 140 lbs.

    Some days it's the little things that make a difference and today a lot of little things added up to something really big.
  • Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Boar's Head Turkey

    Love Boar's Head Deli meats.

    Yes, they're more expensive than Acme-brand stuff, but I think it's worth it for the quality, taste and the knowledge there are no beaks and snouts in my food.

    Board's Head is also an exceptional value on Points+. For instance, Honey Maple Turkey is only 1 Point+ per ounce and the Honey Maple Ham is 1 Points+ per 2 oz. For 2 P+, you can get a lot of sandwich there.

    Most deli counters that carry Boar's Head also have copies of their nutritional guide to take home, so you can determine the P+ value for any of their offerings. Pretty handy. And they offer a large variety of flavors.

    Also, several of the BH offerings, including the Honey Maple Turkey, are branded as heart-healthy foods by the American Heart Association.

    Above is lunch today: 2 oz Honey Maple Turkey on a toasted VitaBun with bacon (of course) and a wedge of Laughing Cow Cheese.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    Home Weigh-In: Week 2

    I was not super-hopeful walking toward the scale this morning.

    First, I ate way too much ice cream - and a big piece of fried dough - while on vacation last week. While I didn't overdo it or binge, it was simply more calories than I normally eat.

    I got in all my regular exercise - even while away - but I was also lacking on the water front while away. It's hard to put away 96 oz every day when you're not at home. Even though I drank my daily 96oz and more since I got home, I had no idea how much damage I had done.

    Then I ate chili last night. By mistake. Hey, it happens.

    So more calories + less water + sodium-packed chili = potential trouble on the scale.

    However, I knew if the number was up, it was only temporary: I'd get it right off.

    Last week I was concerned my new scale may not be calibrated correctly, but credit to the Eat Smart folks, I posted my question on their Facebook page and they replied within 2 hours. Last night I double-checked it was calibrated - without actually weighing myself, so I knew I was all set for 5:05 am Tuesday.

    Cut to said time, I put on my regular WW weigh-in clothes for consistency's sake (bra included) and headed for the basement. Took a breath, stepped on and saw...177.6.

    Wow, the exact same number as last week. I maintained on a vacation week. Nice! Following a vacation, that's as good as a loss, in my opinion.

    Then I stepped on once again just to ensure I wasn't seeing things. Nope, 177.6.

    Later today my paranoia crept in: What if I had some weird scale that only displayed 177.6? OK, I know that's insane, but I had to check, so I had my 5-year-old step on. She got 42.2, so yes I had a real M.

    Goal for next week: A number less than 177.6.

    I went to my regular WW meeting today and I gotta say it's weird to go and not weigh in. If I had my druthers, I'd still weigh-in there every week.

    In which I love my food scale

    My digital food scale is the most important piece of kitchen equipment I own.

    If whatever I'm about to put in my mouth isn't prepackaged or premeasured, it goes on the scale. I must use it a half-dozen times every day.

    So this morning, it was a little distressing when it was time to measure my 8 oz of plain Chobani, I turn on the scale and saw the battery light flashing instead of 0.0

    I may have even yelped in distress. Thankfully no one else was around.

    How was I going to eat breakfast? Of course that was my main concern.

    See, even after nearly a year of WWing - and 16 months 2002-2003 - I'm still not good at guesstimating portion sizes nor do I like to. Either my eyes are bigger than the scale and it's too much, or I give myself too little. Neither is conducive to efficient weight loss: Consistently eat too much, don't lose as much. Consistently eat too little, don't lose as much.

    I don't want to guess, I want to be right on and enjoy in peace. Must be my Type A showing. Maybe that's why I feel so uneasy eating out: I don't know exactly how much I'm eating of X, Y or Z.

    But this morning I remembered I had an old manual scale in the cabinet. It did the trick, and it made me realize how much I rely on that digital scale every day without even thinking twice. And, of course, I went out immediately and got replacement batteries.

    If you don't have a food scale, consider one. It's a big key to success.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

    I love my Crock Pot. And tacos. And, of course, chicken. And, you know, chili. So this was all good.

    Yesterday my friend Susan mentioned she was having chili, which made me think, Mmmmm chili....

    Then I headed over to Shrinking Jeans and what was featured on the home page but the Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili recipe from Gina's SkinnyTaste.

    I took it as a sign.

    Plus, today featured build-an-ark rain all day, so it was a perfect day for a warm bowl of deliciousness.

    Putting it together was super easy, the hardest part was hanging out in the house all day while the awesome smells permeated everything.

    Finally, my 10 hours were up and I could dig in for my meal. Each serving is a very generous 1.25C (which doesn't sound like much, but really is) for 5 Points+. The chili was spicy and delicious, and the recipe yielded 10 servings, so plenty to freeze for later.

    The only mistake I made was realizing perhaps something as sodium-riffic as taco chili may not be the best meal the night before my home weigh-in. Of course, I realized this after I ate. Oh, well.

    If you've never been to SkinnyTaste, head on over (on a full stomach or it's torture) and check it out. Tons of healthy, family- and WW-friendly meal ideas.

    In which I play running tourist

    While away on vacation, I was due for a 3-mile run, thanks to my 10K Training Plan.

    Nifty that I take my marching orders from a print-out, but it works.

    So before we left I dutifully packed all my running gear: Nano, headphones, RoadID, running tights, dri-fit shirt, Thorlo socks, SPIbelt, running bra, headband, Garmin and my shoes. I know, I know...

    The night before the run, I laid everything out where I could grab it quickly and go, hoping to change quietly and sneak out at 7 am without waking up the family, all of which were in the same two rooms.

    The alarm went off and I got out of bed, dressed and grabbed a Luna bar and a Diet Coke (breakfast of champions) without waking a soul. Success.

    On run mornings, I usually eat a snack in the living room and read the paper on my iPad while I wake up and fuel up. This morning, I headed to the lobby and chilled in their easy chairs, eating and catching up with the world on my phone.

    Ready to roll, I headed for the fitness center and walked 10 minutes on the treadmill to warm up. Then I stepped outside and was hit with gorgeous, dry, cool Adirondack air.

    Seriously, so lovely.

    I always run with my phone, but this morning I decided it would be fun to photograph the sights along the way during my run on Route 9 in Queensbury, NY.

    I wasn't trying to set any PRs, just wanted to get the miles in and burn some calories before I gave them back at the ice cream stand later that day (see below).

    Here's what I found:

    This joint was directly across from our hotel, as if I needed more incentive to eat ice cream. Man, it was good, though.

    Literally, right next door to the hotel was Six Flags Great Escape. Walk out the door and hear screaming from the coasters. Pretty funny.

    Oh, you know I tried to get a picture of myself in this chair. It was too hard with the phone camera, though. Boo.

    Tacked on a telephone pole outside a convenience store. Absolutely not sketchy. I am tempted to call the number and yell: "HOLA! DONDE ESTA MI CASA?"

    I do now.

    Glen Drive In. So happy to see drive-ins still around.

    I was not ambushed at any point during my run, thankfully.

    Would look fab on my front lawn. Also looks like Treebeard. I just impressed my husband with that reference.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Not Ice Cream

    Two low-Point standbys today: grilled romaine and a Trader Joe's Roasted Chicken patty.

    On the extremely straight and very narrow this week as I'm trying to work off what I'm sure are a couple of extra pounds of vacation weight thanks to this friggin' chicken.

    Although, I regret nothing about that chicken or its delicious soft serve. Everything in moderation, right? Seriously, pumpkin-flavored soft serve. Chocolate-peanut butter soft serve twist. It would be wrong not to enjoy.

    The most important thing to me is vacation stops when it's over - it doesn't continue on at home for 40 days like some sort of bizarro diet-busting Lent.

    This is where I've run aground in the past:

    Oh, well, since vacation went through Saturday, why not just eat what I want for the rest of the weekend and start Monday?

    Cue Monday: I don't feel like starting over on a Monday, I'll do it tomorrow and so on.

    I feel I did pretty well in my food choices while away and hopped right back on the good eating and exercise train when I returned.

    But, that said, I am not getting back on my home scale until my regular Tuesday morning weigh-in. I'm no fool.

    In which I run 5 miles and shut myself up

    Twelve hours earlier I was enjoying the last night of our family vacation - and a piece of fried dough the size of a Frisbee. Yum.

    But now, here I was, running through my humid, damp town early on a Sunday morning after mentally fighting myself over said run.

    Back to reality, indeed.

    Ending a vacation is rarely fun, but for me "back home" means back to my strict routine. And that's all good, it just takes some getting used to now that I'm working on being an After forever.

    I knew my 10K training plan called for a long run today, Aug. 14, in fact my longest run ever - 5 miles. And Aug. 14 also happened to be our very first day back from vacation. Ack.

    So when we pulled in late last night, I only dragged a few things out of the jam-packed van, namely my iPod Nano, headphones, running shoes, running bra (woo) and my Garmin, all of which made the trip since I had a run scheduled while away.

    I knew I had clean running clothes ready, thankfully, so all I had to do was plug in and charge the Nano and sync and charge the Garmin, then I'd be ready to roll Sunday morning. No excuses, I know myself very well.

    Gassed from the trip, I headed to bed, knowing I had an alarm set for, sob, 6:30 am.

    The alarm was so unwelcome this morning. I hit snooze a few times, hoping maybe it would somehow miraculously shift time and space so it was Saturday or any other day I could sleep in.

    No dice, so I got up, had a little breakfast, read the newspaper and then looked out the window. It was raining, just a little, but it was raining.

    I quickly went online to check the hourly forecast, which didn't call for steady rain until 10 am. Eh, still too close, I thought. I could get caught in the rain.

    Awesome, now I could do the 5 miles on the treadmill at the gym and it wouldn't be so damn awful and hard.

    Spring in my step I grabbed water, my Nano and headphones, got in the still-jam-packed van and headed off to the gym. At the bottom of my street I had my first decision: left to go to the gym, right to go park at the bike trail and run through town.

    I checked the windshield and saw no rain drops. Well, it will be raining again and I don't want to get caught out in the rain. I turned left.

    Five minutes later I was driving through downtown, pretty much on the same route I would have run outside. Still not raining. No rain on the windshield and the puddles filling the pot holes were still. Not a drop. Dammit.

    Stopped at a light I glanced skyward. Not only was it not raining, the skies were clearing up. Frack.

    Stop being a baby and run outside. You'll regret it later if you don't.

    But it could rain.

    You'll regret it if you don't.

    But I left my SPIbelt and Garmin at home.

    Turn around and get them. Don't wimp out.

    The more I argued with myself, the more I realized I had to turn around the damn car, drive home, grab the Garmin and belt, and go run outside.

    The old me took the easy way all the time. An opportunity to make things easier? Sign me up.

    While my life and habits are decidedly different now, old habits die hard. Yes, I was going to run my 5 miles today, but given a teeny, tiny opportunity of making it a touch easier, I grabbed it. Or tried to. But then my conscience got in the way.

    I tried to avoid an outside run because it was my longest yet and that is scary. It was the same, stupid undercurrent that pops up when I try something new: What if I fail?

    But deep down I knew I had trained correctly and followed my plan so, yes, while it wasn't super pleasant it was the right thing to do if I wanted to run a 10K in October and be a better, stronger runner.

    Which is why I found myself chugging through town in the Florida-like climes of Massachusetts in August. And how did the actual run go?

    Pretty darn well. My legs felt pretty heavy for the last half-mile, but otherwise, good stuff.

    And, just as I predicted, I am very happy I made the right choice.

    Oh, and it's barely rained all day. If I had run at the gym I would be some pissed with myself.

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Home Weigh-In: Week 1

    OK, so I kinda sorta screwed this up.

    When I limboed under Goal last week I decided to still weigh in at home on Tuesdays so I would know week-to-week how I'm faring. Then, on the first Tuesday of every month, I would do my official weigh-in at Weight Watchers.

    Since my weigh-in last week counted for August, I don't have to weigh-in at WW until Sept. 6, so today it was home weigh-in No. 1.

    To celebrate, I bought a new scale. Our old Tanita, while a good scale, is routinely turned on, stepped on and hopped on by our three kids when they invade the upstairs bathroom. I can't have that kind of insanity around a piece of relatively delicate machinery that spits out a number for which I work insanely hard all week.

    I've read such good stuff about the Eat Smart Precision Digital Bathroom scale, and it seemed so easy to operate, I made the purchase. It arrived yesterday, and this morning before eating or working out, I put on my regular weigh-in clothes and set up the scale in the basement, away from our three-child circus.

    I followed the easy calibration instructions and while I got a number, I didn't see the C on the display I was supposed to see, indicating the scale is now calibrated. Took out the batteries, stepped on again and, still, no C. Hrumpf.

    Oh, well, it read 177.6. Then I realized I have no idea how that compares to the WW scale because I forgot to weigh myself on my Tanita before last week's weigh in. Crap.

    Therefore, I have no idea how that translates to the official WW scale. Although, I'm hoping to God my new scale weighs 3+ lbs heavier than the WW one.

    So, yes, weighed in at home and it's a number with no relevance. Yet. Next Tuesday we'll know more.

    In which I conquer my toughest run yet

    All I wanted to do - all I needed to do - was get to the hog farm.

    I've never put those words together in that order in my life, but it made sense this morning as reaching the farm meant I was almost done with the toughest run of my young running career.

    Remember those 4 craptacular miles I had planned for Sunday? Well, it didn't rain this morning, so it was time to run what my kids call "The Bumpy Road."

    A couple of months ago my friend, neighbor and fellow runner Andrea and I were talking about, well, you guessed it. I mentioned that I would have 4-, 5- and 6-mile training runs coming up preparing for the 10K in October, to which she responded: "Auburn Road is exactly 4 miles."

    Well, dammit, Andrea, now that it's in my head I have to run Auburn Road, which is a winding, woodsy, hilly-ass roller coaster of asphalt. I've driven the road hundreds, if not thousands, of times as it's a cut through to a major route I use often.

    In the winter it's frost heave central, which leads to nifty potholes in the spring and summer, hence "The Bumpy Road" tag from the kids.

    Never once did I think, "Hey, I should run this!" before Andrea mentioned it.

    But I've got this agreement with myself. If I get an idea that's intriguing and slightly scary, I should definitely do it. Bootcamp fell into that category. So did the 10K. And, unfortunately, so did Auburn Road.

    Now you know I live atop Mt. Crumpet and I can't run far without hitting a hill. And while I continue to bitch about it, it's actually a good thing. I've come to realize running hills is like getting a shot: The discomfort is temporary but the benefits linger on.

    My training plan called for 4 miles today, so I decided to tackle the fresh hell that is Auburn Road. If you think I may be laying it on thick, check out the elevation chart below, courtesy of my Garmin (click to enlarge the horror).

    A race director may euphemistically call that course: "rolling hills." "Rolling" is not the adjective I would use. However, real growth comes once we step outside our comfort zone, and since I knew I could safely handle the distance, it was time to stop whining about the hills and grow, dammit.

    I set out at 7 am. It was sunny, hot and getting humid, but I knew I could finish up before it got awful. It's an out and back route, and I knew from driving it it's relatively flat until you get to the hog farm, then the hills really start to kick in. I knew the course was 2 miles out and 2 back, so I decided not to clock-watch my Garmin and psyche myself out during the run.

    I got to the hog farm and began the up and down, well, mostly down as you can see from the elevation. Once I hit the end of the road, I was halfway done and it was time to turn around and start the major up, which you see on the left arrow (again, click for more horror). The hog farm is the right arrow, so Miles 2-3.3 were not fun.

    However, my legs felt good. I was definitely working hard, but nothing was painful, sore or twingey. I took it slow (seriously, I think I could have walked it faster) and practiced all my good hill-running tricks. Mostly, I spent the really difficult parts telling myself to shut up and run, so I did.

    Finally I could see the hog farm in the distance, which meant the remainder of the run was short and flat. Amen. I stopped at the farm to get the picture at the top of this post and finished up a short while later.

    On the quarter-mile walk home, I realized it wasn't really so bad after all. Yes, it was extremely challenging, but to be honest I've had worse 2 mile runs on a cutback week.

    As with weight loss, it seems as if the majority of running is mental. On either count - or whatever it is for you - just tell that voice in your head to shut up and do.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Triple-Berry Smoothie

    I love smoothies of any type.

    They're delicious, easy to make, low-Point and they're more like dessert than anything. And my Vitamix makes a smoothie likes nobody's business. This concoction would kill or clog a mortal blender.

    This is a Triple Berry Smoothie: 1/2C each frozen strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, mixed with 1C water and 4 oz of Chobani Greek Yogurt.

    If I ate each ingredient separately, the only thing I'd have to count is the 4 oz of Greek yogurt (1.5 P+).

    But one of WW's little rules is most fruits and veg are 0 Points if you eat them in their "unaltered state" (eg, by themselves). Once you add them to a recipe, they count. So what should be a 1.5P+ smoothie is 4 P+ when you run it through recipe builder on

    However I refuse to count it as 4 P+. I count it for 2. I'll toss in another half-Point to be a good camper, but no way am I counting it as 4.

    In which I, amazingly, find extra Points

    I ended yesterday on a high note, by accident.

    I track my Points the old-fashioned way - on paper, in a 3-month WW tracker.

    I like the idea of having the old journals around if I need an idea or can't remember a value of a food or dinner.

    Do I ever actually look back? No, LOL, but I like the idea that I could. I worry that if I moved to electronic tracking (iPad, phone, etc) I'd get lazy and stop. Even though I am online constantly.

    Anyway, wow, I am burying the lede on this one.

    So I ate lunch yesterday and figured I would have 7 Points+ left for dinner. Fabulous, I'd have Gorton's shrimp scampi (3 P+), 8 oz of Crash Hot Potatoes (4 P+) and a feed-bag's worth of roasted green beans (0).

    Made dinner and thoroughly enjoyed it. Went to the tracker and wrote down the particulars, noting with satisfaction that I ended right at 29, running a - through the Points Remaining column. Kitchen's closed.

    Then it hit me: Wait, I ran this morning. I have Activity Points to eat. 4 of them. I get dessert.

    I rarely forget that I have APs, but today I completely did.

    Seriously, people, when you're living WW, this is like found money.

    If you asked whether I'd like to find $20 in my pocket or 4 Points+, I'd have to think about it.

    Sunday, August 7, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Chick-fil-A

    The closest Chick-fil-A is about an hour away from my house.

    And that's a good thing or I'd be eating there all the time.

    CFA is my favorite fast food and, for such, is a relatively healthy option.

    Every couple months my CFA-loving family and I make a pilgrimage.

    Yesterday was one such day and I had what I always do: the classic chicken sandwich and a Diet Coke. Make that "had what I always have these days." When these days were "those days", I could polish off a sandwich, large fries and 6-8 nuggets (which are awesome, too).

    However, I don't have those kinda of Points to spend if I want to eat anything else the entire day, so I stick with the 11-Point sandwich (on its own, more than one-third of my daily Points). But it is worth it.

    Before I went, I did have a 3-Point "snack." A piece of quiche. Even though I ate my usual big breakfast, I didn't want to go to CFA super hungry or I would have a very hard time sticking to my plan.

    If you're in the vicinity of CFA, which apparently is everywhere but where I live, check them out. They also have the best customer service, bar none.

    Seriously, they send employees into the Food Court to see if they can get you refills. If you bring me more Diet Coke, I automatically love you for life.

    In which I get high...on the treadmill

    I didn't want to get up this morning, but I was greatly rewarded for having done so.

    Our youngest has been sick for the past two days, which means little quality sleep for me or my husband. That has made my 5 am alarm more difficult than usual.

    When the alarm turned on this morning and slowly got louder, the bed was warm, the sheets were soft. I was a puddle of sleepy relaxation and I could hear the rain rhythmically hitting windows. I hit snooze and floated off again, but only for 15 minutes.

    I bought size 10 shorts last night and those suckers are not going to continue to fit as well as they do if I don't haul ass out of bed to keep earning that privilege.

    Next time the radio turned on I got up and saw it was raining quite heavily. I had 4 craptacular miles planned for this morning, but the rain meant the venue was transferred from my hilly neighborhood to a nice, flat treadmill in the air-conditioned gym. Thank you, Mother Nature.

    I can't remember the last time I ran on the treadmill, it could be back as far as April. After I got the courage to suck it up and start running outside (as opposed to the treadmill) I've kept that mojo going. But, today it was back to the gym, so off I went.

    When I got to there, only one treadmill was occupied, pretty normal for a Sunday morning in my experience. I picked one in the middle, made sure the closed captioning worked on the monitor (they don't all work all the time) and I was off.

    I don't trust the mileage on treadmills, Lord knows how it's calculated and my stride is very short anyway, so chances are always good if I go by the mileage I'll have run much less. Since I ran my last 4-mile workouts in 53 minutes, I decided to watch the clock instead and run for 55 minutes. Who knows how much I really ran, but the duration was right, so that's fine in my book.

    I walked for 10 minutes to warm up, then hit the + speed button and let that back leg kick up and off the ground to start. I didn't pay attention to pace, just got the speed up to something not too fast and not too slow, and settled into a rhythm.

    About 10 minutes in I thought, I feel really good.

    My stride was awesome: smooth, efficient and compact. My legs felt like they were landing so softly on the belt. Glide-glide-glide-glide, rhythmically moving swiftly, perfectly. I won't say it was easy, but it felt natural, almost effortless. And those are two adjectives I can rarely attribute to road runs.

    About 30 minutes in, I continued to be amazed by how I felt (or didn't feel) and I realized, My breathing is perfect.

    When I run outside, even though I'm listening to music (loudly), I can still hear my labored breathing. Not dangerous I'm-stroking-out territory, but I'm-working-hard breathing. Today I could have easily held a conversation with someone.

    At 50 minutes, the treadmill came to its automatic stop because it had been going for an hour (including the warmup). I straddled the belt, let it reset, then hopped on for the last 5 minutes. I've never run so long that I've hit the reset point. It made me reflect on the first time I stepped on the treadmill at the gym: Dec. 30, 2010.

    It was so hard. A shock to my system. At that time I weighed in at 236 lbs two days earlier at Weight Watchers. So, yeah, running for any length of time was going to be a shock to that body. Being able to run for more than 1 minute straight seemed very, very far away that day.

    But I kept at it. I started and finished Couch To 5K. Then I started running outside, then entering races to give myself goals to work for.

    And then, all of a sudden, it's 7 months later, you're 62 lbs lighter and you look at the display: Time's up, 55 minutes and your workout is done.

    Your breathing is still great, you're not panting in recovery. Your legs feel fantastic, warm and limber.

    And you think:

    I could have run longer.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    In which this quote says it perfectly

    "We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." ~ Jim Rohn

    Damn straight.

    Courtesy of Personal Development Quotes on Twitter.

    Funny thing about Before photos. You want them all destroyed when you're a Before. You want to show them all off when you're an After.

    Friday, August 5, 2011

    Recipe: Crustless Chicken-Broccoli Quiche

    When Becca and I got together yesterday we had a great time, and in addition to her friendship and wonderful conversation she gave me something very cherished by WWers: a good recipe.

    We met at lunchtime and both brought our lunches to the coffeehouse, cause that's how we roll. Becca pulled out a container filled with a salad and something that looked great: And it's all only 3 Points+, she said.

    She's speaking my language! She offered me a bite of crustless chicken-broccoli quiche, a favorite recipe. Then she sent me the link before we even left the coffeehouse. That's a good friend.

    So, of course, intrigued I had to whip it up this morning. Prep was easy and baking time is 45 minutes, but don't do what I did: Get hungry, then put it together and wait while the kitchen is filled with delicious aromas. Damn you, poor reading comprehension.

    I toughed it out, and even waited the advised 15 minutes for it to cool before I tucked in. Really very good. I think this will become a staple at this address.

    For 3 Points+ it's a big serving and it's versatile enough where you could customize it to your liking. Don't like broccoli? Substitute spinach or another green veg. Don't eat meat? Use soy crumbles or something veg. But, if you're like me, you add bacon (and another .5 Points+/svg) because you know how I feel about it.

    (Above) Ready for the oven. Not ready to wait 45 minutes for it to be done. Considered gnawing off my arm. Opted for a VitaBun instead. Probably for the best.

    Out of the oven.

    In which there's a new race photo

    I spotted the photographer at my last race and just this morning while taking out the trash I was wondering if I'd ever see the pictures.

    Two hours later I check my email and, voila, a message noting they're posted.

    Hysterical shot of me. Look where my eyes are: On the finish line? No, on the clock. You can click on the picture for a bigger version.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    In which I meet up with a kindred spirit

    I had a real treat today as I got to spend some quality time (minus any time our kids were bugging us) with my friend Rebecca.

    I met Becca 9 years ago when I was losing my weight/made Lifetime with WW. We met via the excellent forums at Dotti's Weight Loss Zone (a great supportive place for WWers), and it turns out Becca lived not very far from me. Every once in a while we'd get together, but more often we'd keep up with each other online.

    After I started regaining my lost weight and giving up, I purposely drifted apart from Becca and other online weight-loss friends because, sadly, they were a reminder of how I could be living - should be living - and wasn't.

    However, happy day, now that I'm back in the swing of things, the band's back together. Becca still lives in the area, so we get together from time to time to catch up. Today we were able to do so while our children played amongst themselves (for the most part).

    I truly appreciate Becca and other friends because they have a very specific understanding of my life.

    They understand:

  • Living on plan.
  • Living off plan and the consequences.
  • Juggling family, work and the WW lifestyle.
  • Facing temptations.
  • The implication of cookouts, parties, restaurants, holidays and vacations.
  • The exact Point value, from memory, of a cavalcade of food, and so much more.

    I don't have to explain anything to Becca and others, they just know. And to these folks, roaming from grocery store to grocery store to find a specific low-Point food item isn't desperate or weird, they appreciate you doing the legwork so they can grab it, too.

    I don't like the label "weight-loss" friends because they are truly friends, but the adjective is more to describe their perspective and extensive knowledge than stick them in a box. They have an empathy - especially Lifetimers getting back to goal - that is rather rare in most circles, and they are very generous in their friendship and support.

    Becca is heading back to her Goal weight, too, and is doing it as she has in the past: very, very well. Check out her blog, it's an excellent, motivational read.

    Thoughts on the above photo:

    1. Time to retire my shirt to PJ-only land. It's too big.
    2. I look crazy smug. I am not smug in real life. Well, not much...
    3. Our pupils are not naturally pitch black - had to fix red eye, LOL. So I look like a smug serial killer (which may be redundant now that I think of it). Anyway, the picture on Becca's post is way better.
    4. Other than all the above, lookin' good.
  • In which Ben hits the nail on the head

    Ben is one of my favorite weight-loss/fitness bloggers.

    Ridiculously inspirational.

    He put up a short post yesterday that summed up motivation (or lack thereof) perfectly in very few words.

    At the track at 6 am today for 4 miles and speed work. It was beautiful this morning, cool and dry. When I drove up to the track, the fog/mist was still lifting off the infield grassy center of the track and the Canadian geese and crows were posturing and prancing around doing whatever the hell they do.

    After a half-mile warm-up it was 2 laps as fast as I could run, followed by a lap of easy running/recovery, x3, then about 1.5 miles of easy running.

    For the first, say, half mile of any run I often feel like a marionette, limbs flying, uncontrolled, uncoordinated. But I eventually settle into a rhythm, refining my stride and form like pulling a lens into focus. I aim for an efficient stride so I can conserve energy to outlast what essentially is a moving endurance test.

    So warm-up was OK and speed work wasn't too bad. But when I finished with speed work I still had over a mile to go. Tired from the speed work, I was hoping I had less left and my Garmin would miraculously read "4 mi", but it didn't. Next time I'll run more before my speed work, so when that's done I have, say, a half-mile left.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Shrimp and Potatoes

    Good Lord, this shrimp is amazing.

    And, to push it through the stratosphere, I paired it with Crash Hot Potatoes, which I haven't made in so long, I had to check how to make them. But it was worth it. I also had about 2 cups of roasted green beans, which I ate while the potatoes and shrimp was cooking. I was hungry.

    The Gorton's shrimp is new, and so far in my area I've found it at WalMart ($5.97 per bag) and Shaws ($8.49). Flo report Stop & Shop also carries it ($7.50).

    I was out, so it was off to The Wal Mart of Ill Repute, next door in Worcester. Seriously, if Mos Eisley had a Wal Mart, this would be the one. Every time I go in there, all I can hear in my head is "Cantina Band" from Star Wars.

    But, I found a trick to make it bearable. It's open 24 hours and I pass it on my way to and from bootcamp. I swung by on the way back this morning, and at 7 am, this store isn't too horrific.

    Bootcamp was good this morning. Pretty challenging circuit, every station seemed to have something I dreaded when the trainer took us through the walk-through after warm-up. But I happily surprised myself at several rotations. Every class is completely different, which I love, and there's over a hundred exercises we use, so sometimes it's weeks before a specific exercise makes it back into class.

    So some of the exercises I was concerned about this morning I actually was pretty good at. It had been a while since I did them and, guess what, I was better this time. I love that, it's so encouraging because it means I am gradually getting stronger and more flexible.

    Week 47 Weigh-In: The Day I Reached Goal

    I reached Goal yesterday, reclaiming my Lifetime No-Pay status with the Watchers of Weight.

    And to be truthful, it was a little anti-climactic.

    First off, I couldn't stay for the meeting. I had to get my kids to a 10:30 am event, so it was a quick, weigh-and-go. We'll celebrate at the meeting next week.

    I knew this week was supposed to be a big weight-loss week, according to the schedule on which my body operates (small loss, small loss, small loss, big loss). After losing just 2 lbs - total - over the past 3 weeks, I was due.

    I stepped on the scale and heard the receptionist say, "You continue to rock and roll."

    She finally told me a number, -3, which means I just limboed under my Goal weight of 175, coming in at 174.6.

    I thanked her and scooted out of the meeting. I saw my leader quickly and didn't even tell her, I didn't have time to really talk, sadly. But, again, I'll make a big deal out of it next week.

    So, where to now?

    Well, 175 is my goal set by my doctor when I made Lifetime in 2003. According to Weight Watchers, for my height (5'7"), the most I should weigh is 160. They base their goal range on BMI (regardless of whether you agree with the BMI concept), and 160 is the most you can weigh and still have a BMI in the Normal weight range for my height.

    However, my doctor argued that for my build, 175 was reasonable. Personally, I think it's high, I could stand to lose more. So for my personal goal I'm going to try and hit 160. I want to see if I can do it and, most importantly, if I can maintain it.

    But if I find I can't hit and/or maintain 160, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'll just find the lowest healthy weight I can maintain and go for that. But for now I like having another number goal to shoot for.

    So it's continued onward and downward, but I want to reflect a bit on this milestone.

    I'm pretty surprised I was able to get back to Goal in under a year, which worked out to losing an average of 2.3 lbs a week. But thanks to bootcamp and Points+, I'm losing weight more quickly than I did when I was younger and pre-kids. I'm still astounded by that, I expected the pregnancies and my age to affect my metabolism, but again, what do I know? Apparently little.

    In these past 47 weeks I lost a lot of weight and inches, but I greatly gained when it came to self-esteem, self-confidence and pride. I built muscle and good habits.

    It's all still a work in progress and for me there truly is no finish line. I have a lifetime of bad habits and bad thoughts to undo and remedy. I don't think they'll ever completely go away, but I will continue to get better at managing them and making good choices.

    To be honest, I don't think it's all fully sunk in yet. Driving home, I was mentally planning stuff in my head (unrelated to WW) and suddenly I realized: You don't have a weigh-in next Tuesday.

    Sure, I will attend the meeting, but I don't have to weigh in. As a Lifetimer At Goal (I like typing that) I only have to weigh in once a month. With August done, I won't weigh in until September 6.

    Sept. 6 is cool for two reasons:

    1. It will be my one-year anniversary of the day (Tuesday) I joined (Sept. 7, 2010).

    2. I have a 5K on Aug. 28. There's free BBQ after, so I can enjoy in moderation and not worry about sodium bloat and an official WW two days later. Seriously, this is how I think. All the time. Completely mental.

    Then that lead me to another train of thought: Weigh-ins. For the past 47 weeks, I've weighed in on Tuesday mornings. I decided I'll continue to do so, once a month for my official WW weigh-in and the other three Tuesdays at home, first thing in the morning, on my scale. That will give me a good indicator of how I'm progressing. I've toyed with the idea of weighing daily, but it still messes with my head too much. I'll continue to report the results every week here, as usual.

    So even though I'm a Lifetimer at Goal (woo!) I'm still in the losing mindset to hit my personal goal. So, really, nothing has changed. Except I set a big goal and I made it. And I don't have to pay WW $40 a month anymore.

    Next mini-goal: 169. I want to get rid of that 7 middle digit.

    Tuesday was a hectic day for a lot of reasons, so I did not get a chance to get a Goal picture. I will remedy that this week and post.

    In wrapping up, when people learn of my weight loss, many (strangers and friends) have talked to me about their issues or struggles. Many folks seem overwhelmed by the scale of what they have to do, regardless of how much they have to lose, be it 25 lbs or triple digits.

    I agree, it is overwhelming. But the key, for me, was taking it one step at a time. Making one change at a time.

    When I started on Sept. 7, 2010 my only goal was to just eat within my Points. That was it. It was all I could handle. Weight Watchers has a host of what they call Good Health Guidelines (eat 5 fruit and veg a day, drink at least 48 oz of water, etc). But I pushed them all aside. I knew that if I wanted to be successful and not burn myself out, I had to go slow.

    I just concentrated on eating the number of Points I was supposed to eat. I didn't care if they were all carbs, I didn't care if I ate one vegetable. I just focused on the number and got through as best I could.

    About a month in, when I felt that was under control, I focused on adding in exercise a few days a week. After I felt like I could juggle the Points and the exercise, I started to refine my diet to eat more protein and fruits and vegetables and find a better balance. Finally, and this was around December, I felt like I could tackle drinking more water.

    Slowly but surely I built up momentum and that is what drives you through. One good decision leads to another good decision and the numbers on the scale continue to drop. One workout leads to another workout and you get lighter, faster and stronger.

    It is not easy. If it were, everyone would be fit. But it is doable. You don't have to go on Biggest Loser and spend 6 hours in the gym everyday while a trainer screams in your face. You don't have to eat food you don't like because you "think you should." You can go to a party or a cookout or a restaurant, enjoy and still be in control.

    You can change your life with moderation and consistency, one Point, one meal, one day at a time. And pretty soon, you look in the mirror in an Old Navy dressing room and you're wearing loose Size 12s and a Medium shirt (horizontal stripes, no less!) and you realize, "I did it. That's me. It's really me."

    That day you waited for, worked for, dreamed about is right here, right now.

    If you take anything away from this blog, I hope it is this: You can do it. It is doable and, in the end when you even it all out, it's not really that hard.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Food Of The Day: Bacon Blue Cheese Burger

    This was actually Friday's FOTD post, but I didn't have a chance to put it up.

    My latest Vitatop order arrived Friday and this time, in addition to the regular Vitatop mix (I have a top mixed with Greek yogurt for breakfast daily), I added in the company's new VitaBun offering. It's like a hearty English muffin and only 2 Points+. I figured in addition to having it as a snack, it could also make a good bun.

    And it did.

    I combined 3 ounces of 96% lean hamburger (3 Points+) with 4 slices of Oscar Meyer precooked bacon (2 Points+ - and how on Earth is that stuff not supposed to be refrigerated? Actually I think I don't want to know), and a slice of Laughing Cow Blue Cheese (1P+) in between the bun (2 P+).

    It came out very well. The bun was good (I toasted it), and of course it had bacon, so slam dunk there.