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.


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.

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?

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?

I’m a Loser

With all the extra time spent on my ass a few weeks ago feeling sorry for myself, I was sure I was going to put on some poundage.  Surprisingly, I weighed myself this week and I’ve lost 5 lbs. in the past 2 months.  I’m attributing some of that to the intense workouts I got schlepping myself around on crutches and the rest to physical therapy.  You have no idea how much work it is to balance on one foot until you have to do it with a weakened ankle.

Interesting thing is, my diet isn’t all that hot.  It’s not awful, but there is a lot of room for improvement (I just wrote that while eating a Sunbutter & wheat bread sandwich).  Makes me want to try tweaking it a bit to make it healthier and see what that does for my body.  I could probably lose the last of that looseness and flabbiness that just seems to want to hang on for dear life.

It is interesting to me that when I finally let go of having a specific number in mind for weight or dress size, I became much happier with my body.  My focus is off the scale and off numbers and on what I can do and accomplish with the body I have.  I may never look slammin’ in a bikini, and you know, I’m ok with that, I can rock a one-piece with the best of them, but I’m starting to find parts of me I like more than I’m finding parts I hate.  In fact, I can’t say I hate any part of me.

And that freak out yesterday (or Tuesday or whatever)?  Was totally PMS related.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.