Thursday, February 9, 2012

I LOVE challenges!

I completed two challenges this week!  Both of the challenges I completed were with the gym that I have been going to for about 3 1/2 months now.  The first challenge has been going on for 21 days.  The challenge:  to stay within my points on Weight Watchers for 21 days straight.  I had been having some days where I would start out strong and then binge.  This was resembling old habits way too much for my liking.  I knew I needed to get control before I spiraled out of control.  So, when the gym started the 21 day challenge, I decided that this would be the best goal for me.  Mission completed!  Yay!  However, you would think I would have some weight loss to show for those 21 days of being on plan....well, not so much.  The problem was that I discovered that I was doing what I did on Weight Watchers last year.  Eating too much fruit!  Once they switched over to Points Plus, and I stopped counting fruit, I started eating way too much of it.  Calories in fruit really add up.  Plus, I stopped measuring out portions of fruit and vegetables.  The amount of broccoli that I typically eat for dinner is over 100 calories.  I know that doesn't sound like much but when you add up several of those foods like that throughout the day that you are not holding yourself accountable for, it adds up quickly.  Anyway, more of that discussion later.  The point is that I did follow the plan and towards the end I did switch over to Spark People again.  I figured that this wouldn't mess up my challenge as long as I was following points or calories. 

(Box Jumps-Photo Source:

As I mentioned earlier, both challenges were with the gym I go to.  The second challenge was to complete 30 box jumps in 1 minutes without stopping.  We had to draw the challenges from a jar on Monday and we had all week to practice and complete the challenge when we decided we were ready.  I knew I could do box jumps but I normally step down after I jump up.  I knew that I would have to jump up and jump down in order to complete this challenge in enough time.  So I decided to start practicing after kickboxing on Tuesday night.  I did a few and I was feeling pretty nervous about being able to do it.  Then my favorite fitness instructor at the gym came up to me and told me that I was ready to do it.  At first I told her that I needed to practice more and wait a few more days.  When she walked away, I decided to see if I could do 30.  I didn't time myself but I just wanted to see if I could even do 30 without stopping.  To my surprise, I was able to do it without too many problems.  I didn't realize that the fitness instructor was watching me.  She said she wasn't exactly sure what my time was but she was pretty sure I did it in less than one minute.  She told me to do it again!  After taking a few minutes to catch my breath, she came back over and timed me.  I was trying to go so fast that I almost lost my balance and fell on the floor.  But I managed to get it together and finish the 30 box jumps.  Not only did I do it in under one minute, she said I completed it in 30 seconds.  I got an awesome sweatshirt for completing my challenge!  :) 

Challenges keep me focused and keep me working towards something.  I try to think of my New Year's resolutions like challenges.  I made two resolutions this year.  My first resolution is a financial one--to get our other car paid off so hopefully we can have a period of time with no car payment.  The second goal is to finally hit my 100 pounds lost milestone.  As I mentioned before on my blog, I had to update my weight loss ticker to 89 pounds lost.  I was only 4 pounds away from this milestone but now I am eleven.  Oh well, I know I can do it and I am going to work hard to achieve this goal!  I am also planning on running another 5K in April.  It's the same run I did last year and I plan to run it this year with a few friends.  That should be fun and also keep me working towards another goal. 

In other news with me this week, as I mentioned before, I have decided to go back to using Spark PeopleWeight Watchers is an EXCELLENT program but I think with my eating habits and also with being vegan, the new Points Plus program is just a little too hard for me to follow the way I should.  When I don't have to count fruit and most vegetables, I am just setting myself up to get out of control.  I was eating 3-4 bananas a day.  Yikes!  Now I am measuring them out again and eating about a half a banana in the morning and another half in the evening.  Much better!  Also, by measuring out all fruits and vegetables, there's no mystery involved with how many calories I am eating everyday.  I am accountable for each and every one of those calories.  Nothing is "free."  No excuses...I just have to do it. 

Do goals and challenges help you?  What else helps to keep you on track? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Weekend Top 10

Last weekend was so hectic with renting the U-Haul, hiring movers and having all of our big home items brought from our old house to our rental house.  It didn't feel like a weekend at all.  This weekend was much better.  It was still busy, but it was filled with things that I love to do on the weekends.  Here's my weekend top 10:

1.  Staying home-like I said before, it was just so nice not to have any set in stone plans. 

2.  Kickboxing-I take a kickboxing class on Friday nights that's mixed with plyometrics and then I take a total kickboxing class on Saturday mornings.  I LOVE kickboxing! 

3.  Spinning-I burn so many calories in one hour of spinning class!  This is what I look like when it's over!

(Kind of gross but kind of awesome too!)

4.  Making quinoa nachos with the vegan queso dip from the Post Punk Kitchen.  I did try to scale back this time on the cashews to just 1/2 cup instead of a full cup and they didn't taste the same as last time.  I also think that maybe I didn't puree the cashews long enough to make them smooth and creamy.  The consistency of the queso turned out a little bit gritty this time.  It still tastes good though. 

5.  Free avocados at Earth Fare-sometimes Earth Fare has some great coupons!  Most of the time, if you spend $5, you get something for free.  This weekend's deal was for free avocados with a $5 purchase.  You got 2 free avocados with a $5 purchase so I went back twice and ended up with 4 free organic hass avocados.  Score!

6.  Using my donut pans for the first time and making these donuts from Chocolate Covered Katie.  The donuts turned out really good but we ended up eating them more like pancakes with yogurt and sliced strawberries.  Here's a picture of the donuts before topped with yogurt and strawberries:

7.  Walking in the sunshine with R and Corny on Sunday afternoon-we had a mostly rainy weekend but there was a brief period of time on Sunday morning into the afternoon where we had some beautiful sunshine.  We took Corny to the dog park and on a walk along the river for a little while before my spinning class.  It was nice to soak up a bit of sunshine. 

8.  Going to see the movie, "J. Edgar" at the dollar movie instead of watching the Super Bowl-when I say dollar movie, I truly do mean that.  On Sundays, we can go see slightly older movies for $1.  Awesome!  So we spent $2 total to see the movie because we brought our own drinks, popcorn and snacks. 

(Even though this movie was pretty sad to me, I still really enjoyed it.)

9.  Aldi produce bargains-I just recently discovered Aldi but I am so glad I did.  Right now, we have to really watch our spending because of having our mortgage payment and the rental house payment each month.  Money is pretty tight.  I try to buy as much organic produce as possible, but right now, much of it is just not affordable for us.  Each week, Aldi has weekly produce specials and, so far, they have been pretty awesome!  This week, I stocked up on broccoli for 89 cents a package, mushrooms for 69 cents a package, grape tomatoes for 69 cents, and baby carrots for 49 cents a pound.  I bought a ton of produce! 

10.  Getting a new food scale in the mail-I left my other food scale at the other house last weekend and I knew that it might be awhile before we made it back to the other house.  I just decided to order another one online because the food scale is so important for me to have.  If I measure things out in cups, I tend to give myself way too much food.  I can't do that with the food scale.  I have had a lot of luck with the Escali model so I just decided to order one just like my other one from Amazon.  (Except this time I ordered a pretty retro green colored scale!)

(Photo source:

Overall, it was a great weekend....just too fast.  (As always.)  It's always nice to just have some downtime.  Have a great week!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fitness & Feminism

Sometimes I kind of feel at odds with myself because of paying such close attention to calories, points, exercise, my weight, etc.  In some ways, this feels so anti-feminist to me.  I have always been a feminist and very proud of it.  When I went away to college, this provided the outlet I needed to “find myself” and discover what I was passionate about.  That’s when I discovered sociology and women’s studies.  My major was in sociology and I got a certificate (sort of like a minor) in women’s studies.  I took so many great classes in college and I learned so much about history, life, feminism, people, and myself.  It was an amazing experience.  I wish everyone had the opportunity to go off to college.  I was only an hour from my parents but that was just enough distance to really come into my own. 

(Have you ever read this book?  I just found it in my internet search for fitness and feminism.  I would like to check it out!)

When I really started learning about feminist theory and the history of women’s rights, I immediately felt drawn to this.  I identified with so many aspects of feminism including the ideal that we should love our bodies and accept ourselves as we are rather than trying to live up to some unrealistic societal expectation of what our bodies should look like.  This was very easy for me to identify with because I have always been overweight.  I would much rather hear that I should love myself for who I am instead of hearing that I should change.  That was convenient and easy for me at the time.  I always felt like I was destined to be overweight, I didn’t know that I was capable of losing a lot of weight and getting fit.  I remember weighing 224 pounds in the 7th grade when my mom and I went to the ladies gym in the town that we lived in.  7th grade…..224 pounds.  I felt hopeless about losing weight.  More on my weight loss journey here and here..... 

Then I remember going to a party with some friends in college and there was a guy who pretended to act interested in me.  I could tell it was a joke…..I was overweight, not stupid.  I don’t really know what he wanted to do.  I am not sure if he wanted to embarrass me or if he lost some kind of a bet with his friend, but I knew it was not for real.  If he wanted to embarrass me, he succeeded.  I was already so socially uncomfortable at parties in college, I didn’t need the help of some frat boy trying to play a joke on me.  Lucky for me, the party was in the same apartment complex I lived in so I was just able to leave and go home.  It was just a few days after that when I started my first “real” diet.  I say “real” because there were times I would try to not eat for a few days or take some kind of weight loss “vitamins” or something like that, but not really changing any of my eating habits.  So after this party, I started Sugar Busters—a diet that is designed for diabetics.  Because I was completely changing the way I was eating, I lost quite a bit of weight.  I dropped about 50 pounds on Sugar Busters and then hit a plateau.  Sugar Busters was a good diet for me at the time because it really urged me in the direction of healthier eating and I didn’t have to obsess over calories or points.  I just got to eat when I wanted to eat as long as I followed the Sugar Busters plan.  I never felt conflicted about my feminism either because I was still just eating what I wanted to eat and walking a lot for exercise.  Also, during the time of Sugar Busters, I never knew my BMI or what I should weigh.  I just ate healthier and lost weight initially. 

Then when I hit a plateau with Sugar Busters, I started Weight Watchers with a couple of friends I worked with at the time.  I started to obsess a little more over weight loss now because all of a sudden, I knew what I should weigh for my height and I also knew how many points I should be eating in a day.  I had to start measuring everything out and I had to stand in front of a Weight Watchers receptionist each week and “find out how I did.”  Even though this sort of ignited that OCD part of my brain, it still wasn’t terrible.  I didn’t really feel like I was less than because I gained weight that week or I didn’t feel guilty because I decided to go out to eat instead of preparing something healthier at home.  I don’t remember getting too hung up about my weight on Weight Watchers the first time around. 

I feel like my focus (what sometimes feels like an obsession) over my calories, points, and exercise has developed since losing weight this time around.  When I say “this time around,” I mean since July of 2009.  Losing weight this time has involved so much social media.  I read blogs, I use message boards, I watch old and new episodes of the Biggest Loser on the computer and on Netflix, I am “friends” with Biggest Loser contestants on Facebook and, recently, I have started looking at fitness inspiration on Pinterest.  I have to wonder if social media, what usually inspires me to work harder and stay on track, also hinders me.  It feels like I am constantly looking at food on blogs and looking at images of half starved women on Pinterest with quotes like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”  I hate these images on Pinterest but I love some of the other ones.  That’s the dilemma:  do I expose myself to these anorexic looking women who want to lose weight so their ass will look good for their boyfriend just so I can see the inspirational images of women working hard to achieve healthy goals for themselves?  Media affects people.  I know this.  I like to believe that I have a good filter in my brain that can edit these images out in order to be inspired by the good ones, but simply being exposed to this garbage affects me whether or not I want to admit to it or not.  This pushes my feminist buttons.  It bothers me that some parts of my weight loss/health journey make me feel like less of a feminist.  Why can’t I just be happy with my body instead of constantly trying to lose more weight?  Why can’t I just eat like a “normal” person and be a “normal” size?   I can’t imagine having a conversation with Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan about how many points are in Fiber One cereal or how I like to make a pot of decaf coffee at night because it keeps me from mindlessly snacking or how I need to tone my stomach and arms at the gym because they are flabby.  Nope….I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have these conversations with these strong feminist ladies.  But these are the thoughts taking up a lot of valuable real estate in my head.  Sometimes I wonder if R even finds me interesting anymore.  I wonder if she thinks I am just this superficial person who lacks substance.  I don’t want to be that person.  I want to be me but healthy.  That’s the dilemma.  I want to be healthy more than anything else.  I watch my mom and I am seeing her health rapidly deteriorate from the effects of obesity and I don’t want that for myself.  I don’t want to be in my 50s and not be able to walk because my knees hurt so bad.  I don’t want to take high blood pressure medication.  I don’t want to have uterine cancer and have a doctor tell me it probably could have been prevented if I wasn’t “so heavy.”  (Yes, the doctor really did say this to my mom in those words.)  I want health and that’s why I do what I do. 

So I guess that brings me to balance.  Everything in life always seems to go back to balance.  How do I continue to become the healthy person that I want to be without compromising my core feminist values?  How do I focus on health without obsessing over everything I eat?  One thing I know for sure about this journey is that I am always learning new things about myself.  I guess that will always be the case.  Even though it feels like I have been on this weight loss/health journey for a long time, it has been less than 3 years.  That’s really not a lot of time when you consider that I had about 28 years of unhealthy eating habits that I am working on overcoming. 

What are you thoughts on this?  Have you ever felt like your weight loss/health journey has compromised any of your values?  What do you do to find balance?  I would love to hear what you have to say!