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.

SparkPeople

You know how I keep joking that when it comes to working for myself I’m a pretty slackadaisical boss?

I’ve known for quite some time that I work well when under somebodies direction.  I pretty much live for carrying out orders, looking for approval, and doing it better than anyone else.  Not only that, but I tend to be task oriented.  I think it feeds into my perfectionist tendencies.  A task can be completed, checked off the list, finished and on to the next one.

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon SparkPeople.  My first reaction was, oh it’s just another nutrition tracking program like FitDay or LoseIt.   Digging a little deeper I had flashbacks of WeightWatchers, and downing so few calories because I filled up on high point items that I would be dizzy anytime I stood up.

Digging deeper still and following the program for a few days, plus purchasing and starting to read the book, The Spark, on my new Kindle I have to say I’m impressed!  It’s not full of empty “Rah, Rah, you can do it!” cheerleading.  It has a TON of articles about everything from food & nutritioin, to motivation, to a whole encyclopedia of health articles.  They also have exercises for you do do (worksheets and such) to help you figure out what your goals are and create reminders that you can use (offline) to help you stay focused.

One of my biggest problems with “diets” is the lack of variety.  With WW, I tended to have my core foods and stick with them.   For a week or two that’s not bad.   For three months it’s brutal.  I had similar problems with The Zone.  Not only did I tend to settle into eating the same snacks – all.the.time. – but I hated having to do all the calculations for myself.  Sure, I could have used some energy to put together an Excel program for myself, but by that time I lost interest.

I’m on my third day on SparkPeople and so far I’m impressed with the variety and quality of the foods they suggest.  For meals I’ve had lightly glazed salmon with veggies & brown rice, pork tenderloin with sweet potato and applesauce,  black bean salad, a lentil burrito with sour cream, cheese & tomato, and an egg white sandwich with strawberries.  There’s enough variety that when I start to create my own plan, I will have a pretty large database of meals to choose from.  Oh, and so far they are all delicious!  I was able to make the pork loin in the slow cooker with onion, garlic & herbs (my addition), I made a light glaze to put on the salmon (added only about 20-30 calories), and they allow substitutions.  The software even suggests them if you don’t like what they suggest you eat.

They suggest three meals a day with a snack.  My only issue is that the breakfasts seem a bit small.  Like a lot of the other programs, there is a way to track water and fruit/veggie consumption.

My favorite part is that it’s structured in stages.  I’m in Stage 1 so I’m following the nutrition plan and I have just three small additional goals I need to follow.  First is to drink 8 glasses of water a day (I can manage 6 – anymore and I might as well put my name on the bathroom door and conduct all business from there), the second is to do a minimum of 30 crunches or push-ups a day.  The third is to reward myself daily.  I think for a reward I’m going to put aside a dollar a day to spend however I see fit.  Either I can get some lip gloss at the end of the week or save it until the end of the month and maybe buy an item of clothing.

I’m not certain what is added in Stage 2, but I will let you know when I get there.

Oh, oh, oh!   I forgot the best part.  Other than the book (obviously) everything is FREE!  That’s right no charge.  For anything.  Ever.  If you are on SparkPeople and want to look me up, I’m MinivanNinja.

Scrub the Chub

In an effort to keep myself honest, I’m going to post my weight loss stats here.

Starting Weight:    190 lbs. (ugh! although I’ve been told I carry it well, everybody thinks I’m at least 20 lbs. lighter than I really am)

Chest:  43″ (braless measure because my bras make this measurement vary)

Waist:  36.5″

Hips:  46.5″

I will weigh myself weekly and post the results, probably in the sidebar.

It All Comes Back Around

Black Belt

After suspending my training almost a year ago, not a day has passed that I haven’t thought of Tae Kwon Do.  I would find myself performing a poomsae or kicks while waiting for water to boil on the stove, I’d stare at the mirror and practice punches and blocks.

It’s undeniable, Tae Kwon Do has become part of me, part of who I am.   Grandmaster was right, once a Black Belt, always a Black Belt.

So what do I do with this knowledge?  Do I practice on my own, fine tuning what I have already learned?

No.

What I did was contact one of my instructors and let her know that I’m ready to come back to training.  I’m not going to be there 3-4 nights a week plus a private lesson and instructorship training.  I’m just going to class two days a week to train, and that’s it.

While I’m a bit embarrased with the weight I gained while on hiatus (I did no training/exercise of any sort.   NONE!), I’m excited to be going back.  Returning to the dojang has given me the motivation to get off my ever expanding ass and get my shit in order.  My diet is no longer slapdash and unstructured, I’m following a Zone-ish plan (very similar to BFL but a bit more relaxed and less gag-inducing protein shakes and rubberized chicken), and I’ve started doing pilates at home in order to get myself ready for P90X.

Big plans for self-improvement is in the works, I just need to pace myself so I don’t burn myself out before I get really started.

It’s interesting.  Since I left Tae Kwon Do I’ve been carrying around this restless feeling, like I forgot something.  Turns out it was that feeling of not-finishing my training that has haunted me.

Coming back to where I think I belong feels good.

Baby Steps

Since discontinuing my training, I have put on some weight.  It was inevitable since I went from 3+ days a week training to none.  My pants are a wee bit tight and I need to try to get myself moving again.  Gardening helps, but it’s not always a workout, nor would I want it to be.  As long as we can get ourselves together in time, my youngest daughter and I will walk to and from school.  That’s at least 15-20 minutes of light movement.  My husband and I are going to the gym and I’m going to stick with cardio for now until my stamina gets back to where I need it.  I’m also attempting (and failing more often than not) to drink more liquids.

Notice I didn’t say water.  Water will factor in, but right now I’ll be happy with anything in liquid form.

I’m also trying to gently and subtly change the state of the food in our house.  My vegetable garden will help with that for sure, but one of the things I’m working to reduce in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  A lot of what I’ve read and heard about it is not good, and it is alarming how much corn is in everything we eat.  So as we run out of some things (like the fake maple syrup I love), I’m going to attempt to replace it with more natural stuff.  There are a few things that I’m having a hard time giving up, but there are others that have been a painless switch.  I found a bread without HFCS that I love, and my attempt to eat more natural has caused me to be even more of a label reader.  I already read labels on everything due to food allergies in my family, so it’s no more work to check for other non-desirables in the ingredient list.

I also suspect that one of the reasons I put on weight so easily is the sugar that seems to be in everything.

So give me some feedback.  Have you reduced your consumption of HFCS, and if so, have you noticed any changes in weight, mood, energy, appetite?

It’s been too long…

…since my last update.

I kind of went totally silent online while I dealt with what I was choosing to do.  I chose to suspend my Tae Kwon Do training for the foreseeable future.  Partly financial reasons, partly because I got burnt out, and mostly because while I was maintaining the schedule I was, my homelife was suffering.

For the past two months, I have not been to the dojang.  In that time, I have installed a huge vegetable garden, cooked dinner a minimum of 3 times a week every week, spent a lot of free time enjoying my children, and actually communicating with my husband.

The break I took made it clear that for now, I need to be home with my family.  The kids are no longer interested in TKD, and in fact, haven’t been for quite some time.  I can finally have a social life.  I’m surprised my friends didn’t write me off, but I actually got together with one of my girlfriends TWICE in the past few weeks.  That’s about 2 more times than I had in the previous three years.

For three years, I worked my ass off in class, private lessons, and eventually teaching.  I started to define myself not by who I was, but what I did.  I put so much of myself into my work at the academy that I barely had anything left for those nearest and dearest to me.  And the cracks started to show.  My husband and I no longer communicated.  Hell, we no longer talked, we just argued and walked on eggshells around each other. He was resentful, I was resentful, and it bubbled over.  I barked at the kids constantly and it seemed they could never do anything right or the first time I asked.  My hip hurt with a burning pain that would not go away.  My life was entirely out of balance.   I lost focus on what was truly important.

Granted, working towards and earning my Cho Dan was the first time I had done something for myself in like…ever, and I milked it for all it was worth.  To the point of being selfish about it.  Everybody had to rearrange their schedule around TKD and my schedule at the academy.  I chose to enter instructorship despite the protests of my husband.  I was right and everybody else was wrong.

Except not.

I can’t put my finger on what finally broke me, but one conversation with my husband stood out.  And it was not good.  I realized I had neglected everybody but myself.

Without making excuses, I recognize that part of that is part of my personality.  I’m very “all or nothing”, and when I commit to something, I give it 100% or I feel its not worth doing.  Unfortunately, I only have 100% to give, and if 100% is going to TKD, then my family gets zip.  Zero.  Nada.

The unrest at home started sneaking into the academy little by little.  I would go to the dojang with an increasingly negative attitude.  To the point where I almost dreaded going in, yet I was like a junkie, I couldn’t give it up.  Not only that, but if I stopped training, wouldn’t that make me a quitter?

Actually, no.  A quitter would have given up the first time she couldn’t make it through a class.  A quitter would have given up when she injured herself.  A quitter would not have earned her black belt.

I truly love the people in the academy, and I will miss seeing them and talking to them on a regular basis.  But those people were also my entire social life and because of that, I had gotten myself so twisted up emotionally about choosing to suspend my training.  It had become unhealthy, the extent to which I pulled away from everything except training.  There are other activities, social and otherwise, that I would like to pursue.  My schedule would not allow that.

Granted I could go back once a week for class, and I’m keeping that option open.  But for now, I’d like to explore some other opportunities.  Plus I need to get to a point where the thought of going in doesn’t cause that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I gave too much of myself and bled myself dry.  I need to fill the well again.

My husband and I are starting to go to the gym together, and take walks together.  The kids are helping me in the garden and we have been enjoying hanging out in the backyard in the afternoons and evenings.

It took taking this break to realize that spending time with my family and actually communicating with them, and enjoying their company, has made me happier than I’ve been in a long time.  My training has also given me the confidence to be able to step back, look at things, and realize that perhaps this part of my life has run it’s course, at least for now.

When my children are older, I don’t want them to feel like I wasn’t around, because I was always at the dojang.  I don’t want them to resent my training, but I want them to be proud of what I accomplished.