Three Day Free Day

In an effort to not be too perfectionist about my nutrition, I will usually allow myself a “free” meal or treat once a week.  Usually it’s not too crazy, just something that usually doesn’t really fit into my nutrition plan because it’s really carb-heavy or higher in fat.  That something can be a piece or two of pizza (depending on the size of the piece), a cupcake or two, or a serving of a mayo-based salad.

I’ve learned from doing Body-for-Life in the past that a free day to me is ultimately my downfall.  I could easily undo an entire week’s worth of work in one 24 hour period.

My biggest hurdle in losing weight and keeping a healthy diet is self-control.  It was not unheard of for me to finish off a bag or chips, or eat half a pizza, or plow through a bag of cookies.  Because of this (and sadly my kids have the same tendency) I rarely keep junk food in the house and keep even tortilla chips to a minimum.

Well last weekend I made a sheetcake for my brother-in-law’s party and I had a decent amount of icing left over and I promised the kids I would make cupcakes.

I totally didn’t think that through.  One recipe is 24 cupcakes.  My husband doesn’t eat them so that works out to 8 cupcakes a person.  Now I have to give myself some credit for not just eating all eight in one sitting.  I did manage to spread it out over three days.  But those three days I didn’t track my food and I actually rebelled a bit against even paying attention to what I ate.

You know what?  I didn’t die, gain 20 pounds in three days, or go on a complete food bender.  I had cupcakes for breakfast for three days and then had some salty snacks.  But I’m back.  Sure I can make excuses and blame monthly hormones or something, but you know what?  I actually showed some restraint and I’m going to celebrate that.

Perfectionism has it’s place.  It is not in living a healthy lifestyle.  If all I feel is deprived and suffer intense and intensifying cravings without giving in a little, all I am doing is setting myself up for an epic fail.  The trick to it all is balance, and not throwing in the towel and going on a massive binge all because I ate three cupcakes in one sitting.

And you know what?  I feel focused and motivated again.  These little free meals or days have their purpose.  Part of it is to allow myself to enjoy some treats, but another part is to remind myself what that food does to me and how I feel after eating it.  Honestly, I felt a little bloated and mentally I was foggier, but it’s a fantastic reminder to eat clean and healthy for the majority of the time, and that is what I call success.


(EDIT:  I realize this probably seems a little incongruent – or not – following a post about baking a cake!)


Spark Progress

So now that I am a little over a week into the SparkPeople system, I will share how I’m doing.

I’m doing fantasic, thank you for asking!

After the first week I have lost 3 lbs.  I’m not measuring inches, just going by how my clothes fit, because I’ve learned that for me the measuring tape is more neurosis building than the scale.

Not only have I lost some weight but I feel fucking fabulous!  I was confronted with a pot luck at the dojang this past Saturday (black belt presentations – one of my instructors is now Sah Bum Nim – 5th degree Black Belt), I had 1/2 piece a cake, a potsticker, some fruit and veggies and then I bolted.  Talking with a fellow student I mentioned that I am pleasantly surprised with how much better I feel not just physically but mentally.  He made the comment “Garbage in, garbage out” and until now I never realized how true that is.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with was eating right and not giving into every craving that came my way.  After eating amazingly clean for a week, I now have a very clear reason to keep going – my mental health.  I have struggled with depression and anxiety in the past, and the past few days I feel like I love everything, everywhere.  Never before has any “diet” caused this great a positive shift in how I feel.  On the Zone and BFL I was always cranky and sometimes headachy.  On the SparkPeople plan I am actually enjoying my life and feel like I have the energy to do whatever I want.

Now, I’m  not saying that this system is perfect, there are a few things I would change (like getting rid of any fat-free food items and just use real food in smaller quantities if possible).  Not much irks me more than manufactured foods (think margarine, or fat-free cheese).  That being said, there are more “reduced-fat” items than “fat-free” and to me that isn’t too bad.

I love how they have goals structured as well.  You get a little check-box that you tick when you complete a goal.  It sounds so basic, yet there is something satisfying about marking down that I remembered to take my vitamin, or do sit-ups, or drink water.  I’m thinking of adding one for flossing my teeth, since I always seem to forget that.

Somehow, I’ve also gotten a lot more motivation to just add extra movement to my day as well.  I try to park as far away from the entrance to the grocery store as I can.  Instead of sitting and knitting during my daughter’s ballet and exercise class I go for a walk.  This weekend my whole family went on a 2.5 hour bike ride then followed with a 1.5 hour walk in the evening, and it was enjoyable!

All in all I’m just going to roll with it.  I don’t really care how I’m getting it work, it’s more important to me that it is working.  We’re also planning a trip in the fall to Vegas and I want to feel as good about myself as I possibly can.

That and I want to look slammin’ in a new wardrobe.

P90X = Ooof

Well, well, well, what have we here?  Amy decided to take the plunge, step up her game, and jump into P90X.  I’ve been at the same state of fitness for several months now, and while I’m happy here, for the most part, I really would like a smokin’ bod at least once in my life.  Plus I was informed that the core exercises our one masochistic instructor has us do are from Ab Ripper X.  Sweet.

Anyhoo, I completed my second day (1st day chest & back, 2nd day plyometrics) and I’m already floored.  I knew going in that this system is very difficult, so I figured the first week I’ll give it about 75% to get familiar with it.  Even backing off the intensity I’m still groaning like an arthritic octogenarian getting in and out of my seat, or going up or down stairs.  I am SORE people!!  I’m keeping up with the Zone diet through this and will up the protein if I feel I need to.

After my workout, in that quiet 5 minute walk to pick up my daughter from school, I had an AH-HA moment about what motivates me.  (HINT P90X does not, really – but my body is the type where I have to work damn hard if I’m to get my ass off this comfy plateau I’m on).  I think that I love martial arts so much because it’s a form of exercise that has a purpose.  I don’t really look at it as exercise actually, it’s something I do for fun.  Now going to the gym or doing a home system like P90X is much harder for me to get into.  First, there’s that whole self-motivation thing.  I’m not accountable to anybody but myself, and I tend to be a pretty slackadaisical boss.    But also the purpose of doing exercise for fitness’ sake seems a little abstract and nebulous to me.  Sure I want a slammin’ body and would really like to avoid the heart disease that runs rampant on both sides of my family, but other than that, it’s difficult for me to frame it in a way where I see the practical application of it.  Sure I won’t be huffing and puffing like someone with emphesyma while sparring, and my kicks and punches will have more power, but that isn’t what motivates me.   Fun motivates me.  Tae Kwon Do is FUN!  Doing pull ups and push ups until my muscles burn?   Not so fun.

Maybe it’s my childlike need for immediate gratification.  Maybe I should hook up with the few black belts that follow this program and use them as sort of a buddy system.  Make myself more accountable.  But I already feel my brain trying to give me grief and resisting the desire to exercise.  Perhaps I’m just TOO comfortable in this comfort zone and I need to suffer a bit before I finally find it fun.

Interestingly, I’m finding it easier to watch what I eat than work up the motivation to work out.  I also have doubts about the program working.  I’m suffering from what if-itis.  What if I can’t ever get through every exercise for every second in every workout?  What if I gain muscle weight, but somehow still manage to hang on to every ounce of fat I currently have residing on my belly and ass?  What if I go through all this and 90 days later I don’t look any different?  (I admit, it’s mostly vanity that’s driving me right now).  I am planning on taking before pictures tomorrow so I have at least something to compare to later.  I plan on taking pictures at 1 month, 2 months and 3 months.

Any advice for this 38 year old former couch potato?  Other than take some ibuprofen?


Grandmaster went all Dumbledore on me again today.  He really is an insightful person, and am grateful that someone like that is in my life.  Midway through my lesson today he sat me down and asked me what is going on in my head.  I’ve been very distracted the past few weeks and he picked up on that.  Part of it is that my old habits are doing their damndest to get in my way.  I’ve been having the opposite of a Stuart Smalley moment.  Lately I’ve been thinking that I’m not good enough, I’m not strong enough to see this through.  Granted, a huge part of that is the awful evening schedule we’ve been dealing with ever since my 10 yo joined the swim team.  Thankfully that ends in a few weeks.  All of us are sick of not being home M-F.  And if it’s tough on me, I can’t imagine how the kids are managing to deal with school being a large portion of their day.

My second leadership project, starting in March, is going to be a meditation project.  I’m going to set my alarm early and actually get up when it goes off.  I want to give myself a minimum of 10 alert minutes where I can center myself and reflect on the day in front of me.  On top of being distracted lately, I’ve been a bit keyed up, and I think that putting myself in the right frame of mind first thing in the morning can only improve that situation.  If Grandmaster accepts it, I’m also going to add on to that by giving myself 15 minutes every night for visualization.  I used to visualize every night as I was laying in bed, going through poomsaes, applications & kick combos.  I’ve gotten out of the habit and while I wouldn’t say that my performance has suffered because of it, I feel as though I’m not progressing as smoothly as I could.  Plus my confidence in my abilities has taken a dip.

Now for some good news.  Remember how I started that pushup program?  Well, I was supposed to do it 3 times a week, but I’ve only managed about twice a week since I started.  Still, I did pushups (on my knees) until exhaustion today (or until I couldn’t do them properly.  Ok, same thing) and I managed to pump out 31!  I nearly doubled how many I could do in a few short weeks.  Part of my reasoning for not going full tilt into the program is that I just didn’t want to deal with being sore all the time.  While Tae Kwon Do is heavy on the kicks, there is a lot of arm work when you factor in punching and blocking.  Plus, we usually end class by doing situps and pushups, so I guess that counts as well.  I did notice that last class I didn’t struggle at all with the pushups, even at the impossible speed that particular instructor likes to perform them.

I am a Warrior!

Had what we call boot camp over the weekend. It’s a requirement for those of us that are planning on getting our black belt in the next year (I’m planning on testing October 2009). I don’t want to go into to many specifics, except that it was very much like a self-help seminar, led by Grandmaster. I did get to climb and jump off a 30 foot pole and there was some hands-free rebar bending involved as well. At first, I wasn’t so sure I got much out of the weekend. Then something changed. Something subtle. I barely noticed it until I was asked to stand in front of class and talk about the weekend and I noticed something. I wasn’t nervous. At all. Usually I’m fighting a flop sweat and stammering and stumbling all over myself. Today I actually felt taller. I’m not of course, but I’m walking a little taller than usual. My performance in the dojang improved (except for sparring, that I still suck at). And Grandmaster sent a few pictures he took of us over the weekend, and I look relaxed! The biggest change I’ve noticed is that no longer do I just think about wanting to be a better person and taking better care of myself, but I’m actually doing it. The lack of specifics is frustrating, I know, but it’s the nature of the beast. It’s kind of like, if I try to explain, the magic disappears.

The running is going well too. Since I started last week, I’ve already increased the amount of time I’m running compared to walking, and I’ve reduced my time from a 13 minute mile, to a 11.5 minute mile. I’m sure I’ll get even quicker as I get stronger.

I now leave you with a thought to ponder in your moment of Zen:

Donald Duck’s middle name is Fauntleroy.

Wait, that’s not it. Here it is, a wonderfully apropos (at least to me) Note from the Universe I received the other day:

Amy, it’s high time that you step forward to claim and demand whatever it is that you want from life.

Just remember though, the gate keeper who will give it to you is the same gate keeper who has kept it from you… your gorgeous self.

Basically, I think the Universe is telling me that I need to get out of my own damn way.

Teacher’s Pet

GAH!  It’s becoming obvious that I am the new “teacher’s pet” in TKD.  I just earned my assistant leadership, along with the snappy new black pants.  Now Grandmaster is asking me to lead the end of class…..every time.  He also chooses me to be the example in class more often than not and keeps thrusting me into situations where he wants me to “lead”.  This is supremely uncomfortable for me.  Mostly because I really don’t want anyone to get the idea that there is any favoritism, but also because I am not a natural leader.  You know those people who seem to ooze authority?  Like that person in your group of friends that can introduce a totally ridiculous idea, but people go along with it anyway?  So not me.  I am naturally very content to just do what I’m told.  I’m task oriented.   Tell me what is expected and what needs to be done, and I’ll do it for you.

He had me finishing up class the other day and was correcting me the whole time.  Apparently I need to work on my “command voice”.  I’m just trying to get to the point where it doesn’t feel like I’m shouting at people.  It seems to come off that way because I’m exhausted after 45 minutes of hot, sweaty TKD and it’s all I can do to get myself to do the exercises, let alone have the energy level up to help others get through it.  I’m sure I’ll eventually find a way that works for me though.

I’m trying very hard not to complain.  My attitude is one of the things I’m working on lately.  I’ve found myself mentally criticizing myself, or crabbing out the instructors, and it’s not healthy or working for me in any way.  While in class, I have to consciously tell myself to relax before doing certain kicks or moves so I can perform better.  My hope is that in time this will become more of an unconscious action.  Grandmaster always tells me to relax and just have fun with it, and when I do, it’s infinitely more enjoyable, but it’s also much easier said than done.

After my next belt test, provided I pass, things get tougher and I need to learn a lot more.  Not just my own belt level stuff, but everything, in class format, for white belt.  Up until now, I’ve been confident enough that passing my tests have been all but assumed.  However at the higher levels they get tougher on the judging.  Some classmates of ours failed recently for doing a back stance in poomsae instead of a tiger stance.  I was shocked to hear they didn’t pass.  Usually they give you 5 minutes to review and correct and if you do it correctly you can pass (if that was your only mistake).  They have been changing requirements lately though, and some of us are a little confused as to what is going to be required.

On top of knowing all my requirements, I have tasks I need to do with my new assistant leadership position.  Like assisting in classes that I’m not participating in and some leadership projects that are required for full leadership.  It’s starting to feel a little overwhelming.  Enough so that I had a nightmare about tidal waves last night.  I haven’t had one of those in ages.  It probably didn’t help that one of the members who is also accelerating admitted to me the other day that he was ready to walk away last month.  He’s gotten past that, but it was shocking because he is one of the most dedicated students there, and he’s testing for black belt this October.

I swear I’m working on the attitude thing.  Sometimes it’s just a little harder finding a way to turn what seems so negative into a positive.

Personal Mission Statement

I’m in the process of creating a personal mission statement for myself.  I think I’ve got a decent start on it, and I’m certain that it will evolve over time, but I was happy enough with what I have so far that I would like to share it with all of you, so here goes:

Amy’s Mission Statement

Continually striving to create in myself a person who is:

  • Strong, in mind and body
  • Confident
  • Courageous
  • Loving, both of myself and others
  • Joyful

…allowing me to share with others the abundance of all that I have.

It’s still fairly simple and I think I like it that way, less to remember and clutter up my thinking.  After discussing it with Grandmaster today, it may change a bit, but we’ll see.

Oh, and I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday.  Simply put I have tendonitis, it seems primarily in the achille’s tendon.  I was given some exercises to do a few times a day, was told to ice my foot/ankle twice a day and got a massage that was like fingernails on the chalkboard.  It started off fine enough, but at a certain point, the therapist starts manipulating the tendons and I can feel them kind of rolling around under his fingers and it’s not all that pleasant.  He did notice that my calf seems really tight as well and that also contributes to the tight achille’s.

The exercises are so simple I feel like I should smack myself on the head V8 style saying “I should have known that”.  But sometimes the simplest things seem the hardest to figure out.  I did a few stretches before getting out of bed this morning and it made a huge difference.  The past few weeks I would get out of bed and hobble downstairs all stiff and sore, and after doing the exercises I was able to move around without really noticing as much stiffness and it was a lot less uncomfortable as well.  I know, a total “DUH!” moment, but it was enough to motivate me to keep it up.

Hopefully I’ll be able to update this blog more often.  I’m currently feeling way overscheduled between private lessons, PT appointments, and end of year field trips and activities for the girls that I am chaperoning.  I think in the past 4 days I’ve had about 2 hours of personal time, not nearly enough.