Monday, October 31, 2011

What do you mean I don't look Eastern European?

My bio professor wanted to meet with me and since it's a large lecture class, he just knows my name and not my face. I walked into his office today as planned and he looked at me funny, as if he wasn't expecting me. Finally he said, "How do you pronounce your last name?" I did that for him, and he still looked at me funny. He said something about me not being what he expected, and when I inquired further, he remarked that I don't look Eastern European and upon further questioning said something about me not having a thick accent.

Normally, this is not a big deal. But I'm insecure about my weight and assume everything has to do with that. When someone says I can't do something, I think it's because I'm fat. When they look at me funny, it's because I'm one of the few obese people in this town. When someone dismisses me and seems disinterested in having a conversation with me, it's my fatness pushing them away. You get the point.

So that's where my mind went as soon as he said I don't look Eastern European. I mean, girls from there are tall, blonde, and skinny. I only fit one of those stereotypes, and usually only in the summer when my hair has been bleached by the sun. I do have the high cheekbones and light eyes, but that's about it. And part of me (actually a large chunk of me...no pun intended) really hates the fact that I should be skinny because of my heritage but am not because I choose to eat lots of food and live the slovenly American lifestyle.

I get embarrassed when I'm back in Europe and people find out I live in the States, because I assume they think that I'm the stereotypical American. The thing is, no female in my family (extended or close, in Europe or in the U.S.) is thin. We all have curves, and we've all struggled with our weight. We're the child-bearers of the world and we won't die in a famine. At one point, my mom was super skinny but she was also anorexic and ended up in the hospital, so clearly it wasn't a healthy or natural weight.

I would love to be the Eastern European bombshell that my country is made out to be. A lot of people I talk to remark on how the women in my country are beautiful over-all, and it hurts me so much inside to hear that and know I'm the exception. I probably could be one of those girls. I don't know, I've never really tried. Hearing it today brought back those feelings of cultural insecurity not only with regards to my weight but also to the feeling that I'm letting my Eastern Europeanness slip away.

It's becoming hard for me to find the words to communicate with my brother in our native tongue and I trip up all the time when I try to speak with my aunts and uncles. It really scares me because I know I won't be moving back there anytime soon and my language skills are only going to get worse. I need to make an active effort in immersing myself in the language one way or another otherwise it's going to be lost for good. It's just hard and most of the time I don't have the energy to even try. It's a vicious cycle that is very similar to my weight-loss journey.

As you can tell, there are a lot of issues that were brought up with that one silly comment from a professor whom I never liked in the first place.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rock climbing, canyoning, and non-goals

I really like making goals, if you couldn't tell. Most of them I don't keep, but for the ones I do accomplish, it's nice to see them crossed off a list. (I also really like making lists.)

I've been trying to lay off the list- and goal-making on this blog lately because I don't like publishing my failures, since inevitably I won't accomplish most of them. To me, goals are mostly whims that I think would be cool things to do. Or things I would like myself to learn to enjoy.

For example, I really want to get into rock climbing and canyoning. But I don't actually know if I'd actually enjoy doing either of those things. Growing up, I loved rock climbing but I haven't done that in ages. I'm not a fan of hiking (it's like walking but uphill and slower) so I don't know how appealing canyoning would be to me. I know it's not based on hiking, but hiking is a pseudo integral part. Ideally, I would be into these things, waiting for the weekend to come around so I could head up to the mountains to climb stuff.

I envision a much skinnier and fitter version of myself rappelling down a mountain, leaping over boulders, and kayaking down a river. I don't see the current fat me doing any of those things. And that's when I get sad.

So I guess the goal that I'm getting at is getting fit and thin enough not to feel like a burden on my  adventurous outdoorsy friends, and to feel like my weight is not slowing me down or making certain things impossible for me.

There is no specific weight assigned to this so I'm just going for general fitness for the coming spring and summer mountain biking season. We'll see how this goes.

I quit running

That's it, I give up. I'm officially quitting running. I feel guilty when I don't go, but I can't talk myself into going. So the end result is my feeling guilty and sulking on the couch. No bueno.

Running just isn't for me. As soon as my legs start hurting and it gets hard for me to breathe, I stop and walk. To get going again takes some serious self-talk and berating. I just can't push myself to suffer/be uncomfortable while running. It becomes a miserable activity that I dread and thus I don't go at all. I don't get faster because I quit too soon and stop going altogether, causing me to lose all the fitness I had worked so hard to gain.

Biking, on the other hand, is AWESOME! I can go hard and hurt and actually enjoy it. Shocker. Who would've thought that discomfort from exercise would be something I strove for? I can go for miles with my legs burning and my lungs gasping for air, and I don't quit. It's pretty sweet.

Since my wrist is allowing for this, I've started biking a lot. And by "a lot" I mean I went three times this past week, once in the rain. Btw, I hate biking in the rain, not because it's cold and miserable (which it actually isn't), but because that means I have to clean my bike afterwards. I don't like cleaning my bike. Anywhos, three days in one week is an accomplishment for me. So I'm proud.

So for now, I'm going to forgo running and stick with biking. Easy as that. Maybe once I get thinner and it becomes easier to run I'll go back to it. I mean, I'm going to have to run eventually to get back into rugby shape, so the training is inevitable. I just don't think now is the right time to force myself to do unpleasant exercise, when there is an activity that burns a bunch of calories that I actually enjoy. Nay, love.

Edit: After meeting up with a friend today at a rugby game, I agreed to run stairs and hills tomorrow at lunch with her. I have no idea what I was thinking. Actually, I do know. Even though I hate running, all the sports I love to play involve running. The same is the case with her, so it'll be nice to have someone to commiserate with about this whole thing. And hills and stairs are completely different than running for distance for no reason. For some reason, I don't mind them.

And here's the incline with the hills and stairs: 5 times up the hill, 2 minute rest, then 5 times up the stairs. This is going to suck.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Doing something with the food in the fridge

As I was sitting on the couch yesterday, exhausted by the week and that morning's early wake-up (I don't do single digits on weekends), I began to get hungry. I ran through all the possibilities of food delivery (too tired to go get anything myself), but nothing seemed appetizing. I've been eating out so much lately that all I really wanted was a home-cooked meal. There's really no place around here that offers that, delivery or not, except Whole Foods, and even they rarely have what I'm craving. That, and it's all leftovers that have been sitting out for a while...not something they whipped up just for me. I have issues with leftovers, if you didn't know. And by issues, I mean I don't eat them. Gross.

Anywhos, we get veggies and fruit delivered every Monday and usually half the stuff goes bad or it's eaten in its raw form. The fruit is usually eaten, but I have problems getting all the vegetables gone before they decompose in our refrigerator. We got some delicious (and normal!) stuff this past week so it would've been a shame to let it go to waste. And that's how yesterday's search for a good recipe began.

Let me tell you, finding an acceptable recipe that contains broccoli, leeks, and red peppers is harder than I anticipated. I mean, there's lots of things that use those ingredients, but not many use only those ingredients. Try to throw some celery and potatoes in there and you're screwed.

It's also incredibly difficult to find a simple stir-fry recipe. Most combine four or five different sauces that I don't have and will probably never find a use for. I'm hesitant to buy them if I don't know the outcome of my meal. If I like it, then awesome and I will definitely find a use for the sauce, but unlikely.

After much searching, I decided on a frittata, which is a cross between an omelette and a quiche. I remember the Italian family on whose farm I worked for a few months used to whip this up whenever they didn't feel like making a four-course feast for lunch or dinner, which didn't happen very often. I think I ate frittata about four times during the three months I was there.

I digress. It's essentially any leftover veggies, cheese, and/or meat, coated in a whole bunch of eggs, and fried/baked for 15 minutes or so. In other words, I could throw anything I found in the fridge into this thing! Although I've never been a fan of egg products (I don't know how to make scrambled eggs...for real) I remembered enjoying this so I gave it a shot. And I need to have more eggs in my diet in general, so this seemed like a good place to start.

So here is the recipe I tried. I used it to gauge the egg to veggie ratio as well as the method of cooking. You can also just fry the whole thing on the stove and then put that in the broiler to finish it off, but I prefer baking it for three reasons:

  1. I don't have to stand over the stove and flip the eggs so they don't burn. Lazy wins out again!
  2. I can then put the whole pie pan in the fridge for tomorrow, which takes up less space than a skillet.
  3. I don't feel comfortable putting my skillet in a 350 F oven. I love it too much to let something bad happen to it.

Below is the recipe, courtesy of MyRecipes. You can substitute the veggies and the type of cheese, and also add meat. I used 6 whole eggs instead of 4 eggs and 4 egg whites, mostly because I only had 7 eggs but also because I didn't know what to do with 4 egg yolks. This makes 6 servings, by the way.

Frittata with Broccoli, Potato, and Leeks

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 2 large)
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
  • 1/3 cup fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup chopped cooked peeled red potato
  • 2/3 cup (2.7 ounces) shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek; sauté 6 minutes.
  3. Press broccoli between several layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Add leek mixture, broccoli, potato, and 1/3 cup cheese. Pour into a 9 1/2-inch-deep dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until center is set.
  4. Preheat broiler.
  5. Place frittata on center rack of oven; broil 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.

Nutritional Information (Amt. per Serving)

  • Calories: 185
  • Calories from fat: 0.0%
  • Fat: 7.7 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.7 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9 g
  • Protein: 13.2 g
  • Carbohydrate: 15.8 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 137 mg
  • Iron: 2 mg
  • Sodium: 423 mg
  • Calcium: 153 mg
The next step in my starting to cook again is using MyRecipe's 1 List, 5 Meals series where they give you a shopping list of ~30 ingredients with 5 different dinner meals to make from it. Although I don't always like all of their suggestions, most are designed for 4-6 people so I can eat leftovers in place of a meal I don't like. And these leftovers are always good for lunch too. Double win. As you can see, I'm trying to get over my dislike of leftovers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The clothes I bought today

White polo shirt - XL and barely fit
White undershirt - L and fits tighter than spandex
Dickies bottoms (men's cut) - 42 x 30 and still snug in the hips

Something needs to be done about this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Salad

My schedule this semester is going to be interesting. The good thing about it is that I'm on campus at 9 am at the latest every day. Another good thing is that I'm done before noon every day, and if I don't feel like being a superstar and auditing a physics class, I'm done by 11. This is the perfect schedule to then go to the office and get a couple of hours of work in and still get home at an early time.

And it also gives me the perfect opportunity to bring my lunch to school and have plenty of time to eat it. I don't know how that last part relates to my schedule, but that was my train of thought at the moment. Mostly, I need to stop buying lunch on campus when I can bring something more nutritious and significantly cheaper.

And the perfect lunch that won't spill from my tupperwate into my backpack that also doesn't require immediate refrigeration is...SALAD! Actually, I came to the idea of salad because I'm in love with balsamic vinegar at the moment, but whatever. I need to eat more vegetables in general so this is perfect.

I was never one to like salad because I didn't think it filled me up enough (and I REALLY don't like lettuce). I still have that concern today so I turned to the interwebs for some answers.

After much searching, I found the sentence that somewhat summarizes what makes a salad filling. Essentially, what you need is a "little meat or fish, like chicken or tuna salad, or salads that incorporate hearty grains, or beans or pasta."

But my favorite was still the first result of my "filling salad ingredients" Google search:
Salads That Will Fill You Up on askmen.com

Yes, please! If it's good enough for a dude, then I think I'll like it. Here is my favorite of the four listed:

Filling salad 2: Niçoise salad 

Ingredients:
1/2 head Boston lettuce leaves
1/2 pound green beans, lightly steamed
1/2 cup vinaigrette (mixture of olive oil, the vinegar of your choice, and a squeeze of mustard)
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1-2 red potatoes, peeled, sliced, and boiled in water until cooked
1 3-oz can chunk tuna or 1 cooked tuna steaks
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1 red onion
1 can of anchovies
1/3 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp shallots
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley

Directions:
Put the lettuce in a shallow bowl. Toss the beans with the shallots, a couple spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper. Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette. Cook and slice the potatoes and arrange them with the beans, tomatoes and tuna in the center of the plate. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs. Spoon vinaigrette over everything; scatter on olives, capers, parsley, and serve. This should make about three servings.

Fullness factor:
The complexities in taste will trick your mouth into believing you’re eating a huge seafood dinner. The tuna, especially when using the tuna steak option, and hard-boiled eggs provide a heavy protein base. The salty anchovies and starchy potatoes make this a satisfying, well-rounded meal, but each ingredient is so simple and healthy on its own that you never end up veering into unhealthy territory.

I'm not a fan of anchovies or olives so those will have to be omitted, but other than that this sounds amazing. Now I wonder if cold tuna steak is just as good as warm tuna steak...

I found another version that added and/or substituted the following for the eggs and olives, for 2-3 servings:
6 cups mixed salad greens (instead of Boston lettuce leaves)
1/2 small cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
12 small cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 2-inch pieces

Another option that was suggested by Wikipedia is canned tuna, so that may be my back-up plan.

And here's another "filling salad" simply because I crave BBQ chicken sometimes:

Filling salad 4: Barbecue chicken salad

Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 can sweet corn, drained
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
2 tbsps nonfat mayonnaise

Directions:
Broil the chicken in your oven for 10 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear. Remove from heat, cool and cut into cubes. Toss together the chicken, celery, red bell pepper, onion, and corn. In another bowl, mix the barbeque sauce and mayonnaise. Pour over the chicken and veggies. This makes about four servings.

Fullness factor: When you’re craving barbecue but don’t want the calories or the hassle, this salad will really save you. In around 30 minutes, you can make as delicious a dish as most restaurants. It’s easy, healthy, and the chicken really fills you up. This is a salad any man can feel good about eating and not worry about looking like a rabbit.

A side note: you can substitute Fage Fat-Free Greek Yogurt for the mayonnaise and it will be just as tasty but much less calorific. In fact, Fage works as a substitute for mayo in all cases, except when you need to bake with it. In that case, I can't help you.

Oh, and all the canned stuff in these recipes can definitely come from non-canned sources, which is what I plan on doing. I'm just going to make something for dinner the night before that incorporates the canned ingredients and make them in excess for salad the next day (like corn).

This is the start of me trying to make my lunch from leftovers. It's a difficult thing for me to do since up until about a year ago, I never ate leftovers. They still gross me out, but I don't like cooking every day more than I don't like eating leftovers. Lesser of two evils, I suppose.

I've also found a great salad dressing from delish and Food & Wine:
Creamy Feta Vinaigrette - Serve with Mixed Grilled Vegetables
Brush thickly sliced zucchini, peppers, eggplant, and onions with olive oil. Grill until tender and browned. Serve warm, topped with the dressing.

Anywhos, for now, I have plenty of delicious meat from home to make some awesome sandwiches for the next week or so, but after that I'm totally making salad. Chicken or tuna salads are also on the menu for the colder months.

And lastly, I finally pumped up the tires on my junk commuter bike and they were at 15 psi. They should be at 65. That explains why it's been so hard to go anywhere. And here I thought I was just grossly out of shape.

P.S. In my search for delicious salads, I stumbled upon a blog that has some great ideas, called 101 Cookbooks. Here are the ones I'm planning on trying:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

One hundred pushups

Wow, I can't believe it's been this long since I last posted. I can legitimately blame my silence on being busy with summer classes, but really it's all about laziness and choosing to be lazy instead of active.

I'm currently sitting at home in California hanging out with my parents and as I usually do when I'm here, I've made a commitment to do something about my weight. Why do I always say that when I'm home? Well, it's because my parents aren't shy about telling me I'm fat. They never have been and I'm sure even if/when I get thin, they'll still have something to say about it. Every phone conversation involves my weight, so I'm not surprised that every day at home has at least one mention of losing weight.

Anywhos, today I did the initial test for the one hundred pushups program to see where I stand. It's a 6-week program that has you doing pushups in sets three times a week, with the volume increasing gradually. I really don't like the way my upper arms look in the mirror and this seems like the perfect way to get them toned, as well as work on my core strength.


I think I can do 2 perfect form pushups at the moment (and that's being optimistic), which is well below where I'd like to be, so I'm going to start with the girly pushups that have you on your knees and are generally easier. (P.S. Why do are girly push-ups the ones you do on your knees? Am I the only one that has a dirty mind?) I got 19 today before crapping out, so I'm not discouraged by my number and probably won't need to repeat a week in my quest to do 100 of them by the end of the six weeks. I really don't like having to redo weeks because that makes me quit so I thought I would start with the easy form of pushups and go from there. Once I get to 100 on my knees, I'll try real ones and do the program again. I'm pretty weak right now in my back, and my shoulders keep popping so I don't want to hurt myself.

Also, since I haven't posted in so long, I also haven't mentioned that I severely hurt my wrist about 2 months ago during Tough Mudder Colorado. After many tests and doctors' visits, it turns out I just have a really bad sprain. And since then I've learned that the wrist is a very useful joint. Most importantly and disappointedly (not a word, I know), this injury has kept me off the bike for most of the summer. Bummer! It's also forced me to modify the pushups to knuckle pushups since I still can't fully bend my wrist, but this form will apparently strengthen it and my forearm as a side-effect so it's not too bad.

Back to the bike-related front, now that the wrist splint has come off after 6 weeks of immobilization, when I get back to Colorado by the end of the weekend I intend to hop on my bike and get some miles under my wheels. I've missed it too much! And since I've been instructed to return to normal activity, I fully intend to follow doctor's orders for once. (I could've biked one-handed prior to that, but I didn't feel comfortable only having use of one brake.)

That is that. I'll keep you posted on the pushup program. I've decided that the best time to do it is as soon as I get home from a run, which is the other ambitious program I'm restarting, since the motivation for exercise will already be there. That's assuming I get out the door in the first place, but the regular school year will be much more chill than summer session and I'm hoping I'll get into a good routine that's not so frantic.

213.5 lbs

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dehydration and electrolyte drinks

For a while now I've been feeling super dehydrated when I wake up in the mornings, like dry mouth, creased skin, and sometimes even a slight headache. Before you say anything, no, it's not a hangover. At first, I used to think it was a phantom hangover, reminding me that I should've gone out drinking the night before instead of staying in.

But after coming back from a run about a month ago and then devouring every salty thing in our fridge (most notably the rest of our pickles and half a jar of sauerkraut), I figured it must be some sort of electrolyte imbalance and plain water wasn't doing enough to get me back to feeling normal.

Of course, I did nothing about it for another month.

I'm not a fan of Gatorade or Powerade, and when I do drink them I have to dilute them by half. The flavors of Vitamin Water got old and started to taste nasty to me, probably because I associate them with actually being hungover.

So I ventured into the endurance sports mixes to replace the electrolytes lost during exercise or just generally living (I sweat a lot, see the reasons behind me not biking the 1.63 miles to work/school).

I first tried Hammer's HEED Sports Energy Drink, Lemon-Lime Flavor, and it was disgusting. That is not to say this mix is not recommended to all. The flavors are a matter of personal preference and it just wasn't sitting well with me. I couldn't even finish the water bottle and had to dump it out.

Since I really like Clif Shot Bloks as a source of nutrition on bike rides (it's like eating gummy candy, but actually good for you and quite necessary!), I figured their electrolyte mixes had a similar type of flavor and so I decided to give them a shot (pun totally intended).

I've now had their Clif Shot Endurance Drink, Lemonade Flavor, for two days and I find it tolerable, especially if I add it to ice cold water. It's kind of weird-tasting in room temperature water...the kind I drink normally.

The only problem I have with it is that it's very calorific. See the nutrition label below:


For a 16-oz. glass, I add about 1.5 scoops (a little less than recommended), which comes out 120 calories! And 20 g of sugar! Even Gatorade has less calories and only 4 g more of sugar:

The whole point of avoiding Gatorade/Powerade was to cut down on the calories. I need the electrolytes on a daily basis and not just when I'm exercising. And even when I exercise, I don't want to offset my hard work with a necessary drink that I don't get that much pleasure out of. It's good, it's just not 1/4 cup of ice cream good. (Yes, I have the number of calories in 1/4 cup of my favorite ice cream memorized. It comes in handy when comparing the worth of eating whatever I'm craving at the moment.)

Unfortunately, my timing was completely off in deciding to buy these things and right after receiving the Clif Shot Endurance Drink in the mail, I stumbled upon a recommendation by Outside Magazine, my favorite magazine thus far, of Nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs, which advertise the same benefits of electrolyte mixes and none of the sugar or calories. Well, no sugar, and limited calories (~6 per tablet).

I don't usually take any recommendations from gear reviews in magazines since I believe they're all sponsored and give a limited blurb on why this particular product was chosen over another (I need full-page comparisons, can't you tell?).

But I was intrigued by this one. I've always liked dropping tablets in my drinks as a source of flavor or nutrition so I figured I should try it. The price was a bit cheaper than the Clif drink mix (Clif: 45 scoops per bottle = 30 16-oz servings for $20-ish, and Nuun: 48 tablets = 48 16-oz servings for $24).

The nutrition was even better:

More sodium than Clif (360 mg v. 300 mg), more potassium (100 mg v. 75 mg), and magnesium (25 mg v. ~9 mg). That's not even considering the difference in calories (6 v. 120) and sugar (0 g v. 15 g).

That, and the bottles are pretty, and not messy, and there are a lot more flavors to choose from, 10 in fact. I got the 4-pack mix which includes the original flavors of lemon+lime, tri-berry, citrus fruit, and orange (I've heard orange is pretty bad as is the tri-berry...after I purchased them, of course).

And if I like the fizziness and the general flavors of the brand then I might go with the new flavor 4-pack mix, which would include grape, fruit punch, strawberry lemonade, and tropical. We shall see how I like them.

Regardless, I will have a lot of whichever electrolyte drink I like least to finish off so I think I'm going to go with the Clif one for rides where I still need to replenish carbs and calories, and drop a tablet of Nuun into the water bottle I take to class and work.

As for my electrolyte experience thus far? I woke up this morning with a dry mouth again. I have a feeling one 16-oz. serving in the morning is not going to be enough to get me through the day. But I don't really want to consume more than 120 calories of non-sports drinks so I'm just going to wait until the Nuun tablets come in and see what happens. Hopefully this will rid me of each morning's bout of dehydration.

8 days without booze
210.5 lbs 

P.S. I don't eat much sodium in my daily diet which is why I'm ok with packing this much into my system as a supplement.

P.P.S. I also drink a lot of water throughout the day, at least 72 ounces. It takes a lot to fuel this large machine. And even with that, sometimes my pee doesn't come out all that clear (TMI, I know). But when it is clear (or I have to pee as soon as I take a drink of water, like right now), and I'm still feeling dehydrated, I know it's an electrolyte problem.

P.P.P.S. I still can't believe I gained over 5 pounds just from two consecutive weekends of heavy drinking. Yikes!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rafting and PBRing

I've been doing ok with the no alcohol thing, in that for the most part I'm staying away from beer. I did cheat a bit this past weekend, but since I wasn't hungover the next day, I'm not beating myself up too much about it. (I know, I know, a hangover should not be the deterrent but instead the calories associated with drinking that much booze, but it's a much more immediate effect and quite effective at keeping me away from the bottle.)

To give a little perspective, we went camping and rafting this past weekend. And by "we", I mean a super large group of friends who love to drink good, but oftentimes not-so-good, beer. When we arrived at the campsite Friday night, the first thing we were offered was beer. I declined, and continued to do so the rest of the evening.

Saturday came and we set out on an incredibly frigid and at times miserable but awesomely fun amazing rafting trip on the Arkansas River.

Our group, before putting the boat in the water. You can tell because we're smiling and happy. Just kidding. It was a lot of fun!

It was a full day trip so we left at 8 am, rafted for a bajillion hours, had lunch as it started to rain, bundled up in fleeces over our wetsuits and under our splash guards, and set out for another couple hours of rafting as the sun came out, during which time I decided it was a great idea to jump out of a perfectly safe and well-inflated raft into the rapids below.

Trying to warm up at lunch in the gawdy fleeces the guides had in their dry bags.

A large amount of chaos later, I found myself pinned between a very pointy log and our raft of what used to be 9 but was now 7 people. Apparently our guide forgot to mention the fact that we're only supposed to be in the water for about 20 seconds and then climb back into the raft and not go down the next set of rapids. Details.

The guy who had jumped in with me, got into the back of the raft, and then scrambled to the front of the raft, was the one who eventually pulled me out of the water, while everyone else in the raft, including my brother, paddled away from the log instead of trying to pull me out, which I would think would be a more effective way of rectifying the situation. By that point, there was enough separation that I kind of used the log and rock as a ladder to climb in, so I wasn't nearly as bad off as the last member of our raft who had floated down the river and had luckily been picked up by the other boat we were rafting with. Scary stuff. But incredibly fun.

The dude who grabbed me from the water. Yup, he's got skillz.

The guy who grabbed me out of the water later told me that he waited a second or two to pull me out because he felt my chest and life jacket could take the hit better than my legs. I kind of see his point, but it still knocked the wind out of me and probably would've broken my ribs had I not been wearing a life vest. Without the life vest I probably would've been dead, but whatever.

The calmest rapids of the morning (not the ones we jumped into, although these would've been a better idea).
Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture the amazing views so instead you get shrubbery.

Anywhos, after all those adventures everyone wanted a beer, naturally. I resisted because, 1) I had told myself that I wouldn't drink on this trip, and 2) I had an organic chemistry exam to study for (yes, while camping). So while everyone else played cards and had a merry good time, I took my stack of very thick books to the next picnic table and got some work in. Or at least pretended to. I was doing so well being a responsible adult.

But a game of King's Cup broke my will. When I returned from being a nerd, my peeps were playing the best game ever, and also a game you can't play without a drink in your hand. And that's how my typical night of drinking excessive amounts of PBR began. And merriment, and fun, and great pictures. So it was kind of worth it. Who am I kidding? It was totally worth it, that is, until I stepped on the scale this morning. Eww.

The best rule of Kings Cup:
If you swear, you have to keep your chin on the table...

...even during Thumb War.

All this to explain why I had a drink this weekend. Yikes. I really need to work on my will-power.

3 days without booze (I had to start the count over. Sadness.)
212.0 lbs

Friday, June 3, 2011

I feel like I'm in AA

It's Friday, and I'm still recovering from Memorial Day weekend. And by recovering, I mean my voice still sounds like I'm a 50-year-old chain smoking lady. Gross. And now I'm headed to the mountains for a weekend of Chili and Brewfest. Oy. I'm worried my body won't survive.

After Memorial Day, during which I and most of my rugby teammates went on a four day bender, I've decided that I can't do this anymore. I'm too old for this stuff and it's totally not worth it. Well, Memorial Day weekend is totally worth it, but I'm glad it only happens once a year because otherwise I don't think I'd still be alive (for the record, "it" is the rugby team working the beer tent at the weekend festival in town, which results in most of us consuming ridiculous amounts of free good beer, hence the four day bender).

So...I'm giving up alcohol for the summer. Well, until mid-August at least. My tolerance is too high, I gained 5 pounds this weekend, and I hate being hungover. Actually, my hangovers aren't that bad if I just stick to beer. Those pitchers of margaritas and long island iced teas with straws are not the way to go, I've found. They're not made for anyone over 25.

And I'm not kidding about the weight-gain. I'm up to 211.5 today, so I'm pretty sure the alcohol water weight has come down and that's really me. And besides that, I saw a picture of myself from the weekend and it's disgusting. See my gut below:


Side note:
Yes, those are a whole bunch of cupcakes. And Bloody Marys. Another Memorial Day Weekend rugby tradition is baking and icing a bunch of cupcakes to hand out to the runners of the 10k race held on Memorial Day morning. With 50,000 running people, we need a lot of cupcakes. And by a lot, I mean they baked 842 cupcakes on Sunday afternoon/evening. Insane, right? And then drank PBR at 8 am and handed them out to people. I had to skip the handing out this weekend because I need a couple extra hours of sleep to feel relatively normal on Monday so I could continue drinking. Another reason I need to stop with the booze. It's getting in the way of life. Ugh.

Anywhos, this is going to be a kind of mid-summer Lenten season, with some pre-approved breaks, such as this weekend's Brewfest and Res Fest in August. But that will be limited to three beers a night and has to have at least two weeks' notice of beer-drinking approval from me, so I don't just decide on the spot to have a beer and make this an exception.

At this point, I think alcohol is the number #1 thing holding me back from losing weight, nutrition-wise, and it's also the easiest thing to fix.

And so begins my countdown (or countup, whichever):
4 days without booze
(Today will eventually be reneged since there will be brewfesting going on in the afternoon, but for now, I'm kind of proud of that number.)

Wow, that sounds super alcoholic. Maybe I should change it to "4 days making good decisions". Hmm. Nah, I need the not-so-public shame and the realistic picture of my lifestyle. So instead, I'm going to bold it. And add my weight. There.

4 days without booze
211.5 lbs

Friday, May 20, 2011

A conversation with my running self

The other day I went out on a C210K run and, as always, got discouraged/bored with two more 2 minute intervals to go. Really? It's only 4 more minutes of running! I shouldn't be having these problems. So I sat myself down and had a little debate in the parking lot. Here's how it went:

Lazy, Running Me: This sucks! I don't want to keep running. I'll just walk home.
Motivating, Rational Me: Doing this is the only way you'll get fit for rugby season.
LRM: I wasn't fit this season and it wasn't too bad.
MRM: Wasn't too bad? You hated going to practice because the drills required running, and you were frustrated that you were much slower than everyone else only because you were too lazy to train in the off-season.
LRM: Maybe. But everyone is much better than me anyways and getting fit still won't get me a starting position.
MRM: You don't know that. And there's only one way to know for sure. Besides, running and getting fit is not just for rugby. You wished you were fitter on last week's mountain bike ride so you could enjoy it more. And you have a race coming up in a month that you wished you'd been able to run last time.
LRM: I'll just walk this part and make up the run tomorrow.
MRM: No. How about you run two more minutes and suck it up? And then you can rest a bit, and finish out the last two minutes. IT'S JUST FOUR MORE MINUTES OF RUNNING!!!
LRM: Fine.
[LRM starts jogging super, duper slowly, barely faster than a walk.]
MRM: So just because you're mad, you're going to mess up your times from the last five intervals? C'mon, you can get under a 10 min/mile pace for two minutes. It's downhill!
LRM: Hmf.

And then I started actually running. And grumbled the whole way home. But I did it and need to continue doing it until I learn to enjoy it, which better happen soon.

P.S. This is a true story. I really did talk to myself, out loud. Luckily there was no one around because people may've been concerned if they saw someone walking around in circles mumbling angrily to themselves in the church parking lot the day before doomsday.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A new love, and a new money sink

My brother's company's CEO owns a really sweet condo up in the mountains of Colorado. And the CEO is so awesome that he lets other higher-ups in the company use it when he's not up there himself. And those higher-ups are equally awesome in gifting the condo to their employees for special occasions, such as my brother's 30th birthday. And my brother can't possibly enjoy his time in a 3-story condo by himself so he decided to invite all his friends.

So in short, we got to spend the weekend at a pretty sweet condo nestled between the slopes of a ski resort and a river, complete with entertainment center, board room, and outdoor hot-tub. Hell of a place to play Sardines, I tell you!

Although the condo was amazing, it's not supposed to be the entire point of the story. The main reason I'm writing about it is that it got me into mountain biking. Like, for real. My brother and all his friends are huge mountain bikers and I'd never really understood what was so special about it. But then again, I never understood road cycling either and now I'm hooked, so I guess it all takes time. Whenever they said they were going on a mountain bike ride, I always passed and told them I'd meet up for the BBQ and beer later when they got back.

This time, though, the only other option was hiking and I. Absolutely. Hate. Hiking. Have I made myself clear enough? It's like walking, which I'm also not a huge fan of, but uphill and slower. Biking, on the other hand, actually gets you places in a reasonably quick amount of time, so I'm willing to put some sweat into it. Walking and hiking, on the other hand, not so much.

(Speaking of slow activities, this whole getting somewhere very slowly with a large amount of effort is probably why I hate running. It's so unpleasant and I get nowhere slow. Eww.)

Anywhos, I borrowed a mountain bike and then agreed to go on the trail everyone else was going on. Somewhat of a big mistake. We spent the first 4 miles or so going straight uphill, and then finally got to enjoy the next 3 miles of straight downhill:


I had to change the settings on my GPS watch to auto-pause at 0 mph instead of the preset 4 mph because, as you can tell, my watch was paused for the first 1,000 feet of climbing. Yeah, I was going less than 4 mph for most of the uphill. I would've been better off walking, probably. Uphill. With my bike.

Me on the ridge after 3 miles of uphill...my first mountain bike experience ever.
Even though the uphill thoroughly kicked my butt and I hated some portions of it, it was really satisfying to bike up a freaking mountain! The views were spectacular throughout and it was so much fun weaving between trees and biking over and around rocks and logs. Apparently I didn't slow the group down too much, since they didn't have to wait all that long at the top. And I beat my brother's girlfriend going downhill, not only in speed but also in guts.

Red cliffs looking the other way.
So yeah, it was an absolutely awesome weekend and now I'm in the market for a mountain bike. Yet another expensive hobby to drain my already sad-looking bank account.

The group at the top.
Notice the thunderstorms in the background of the pictures that we narrowly escaped. Metal bikes on the ridge + lightning = the fastest ride down ever.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bike gear ratios

On my triathlon support group someone asked about gear ratios and I wrote out this whole thing for him explaining how to calculate them. Since I'm afraid I'm going to lose my original chart and/or forget how to do it in the future, I'm going to post a copy here. This site may soon become a place I list nuggets of triathlon advice in addition to chronicling my weight-loss journey. Hopefully one doesn't take over the other.

George,

That gearing website is over my head as well but I once took a gear class/talk/thingamabob and they greatly simplified the whole thing for newbies like me. Essentially the guy taught us how to rank our gears from lowest to highest, across all three chainrings/cranks/cassettes/whatever they're called (the name escapes me now). Out of the 30 gears I have on my bike (3 in front x 10 in back) I was able to rank them in order and can now shift more smoothly in that I don't skip gears when shifting going uphill and get less tired overall.

Here's how...it involves a lot of counting the cogs on each ring, so beware. Unless you're a good Googler, that is.
  1. Figure out how many cogs are on each of your rings, both front and back. Usually for the front that's given in the specs for the bike (mine's 50/39/30) and for the back they give you a range (mine's 12-27, 10 speed). You can either Google that particular cassette/rear gear rings by getting the name and range off the specs website for your bike or get on your hands and knees and count them all. I recommend the latter, but I know it's not always possible. Oftentimes you can also guesstimate the spacing between the gears in the back. Steve is much better at that than I am.
  2. For each gear, divide the number of cogs from the front gear by the number of cogs on the back gear, and multiply the whole thing by wheel size. For the purposes of ranking your gears relative to each other, you don't have to multiply by the wheel size, since the order of gears comes out the same regardless. I still multiplied since it gave larger numbers and was easier to compare and rank them later. For example, for my fastest overall gear (largest front gear, smallest back gear) and what I thought were 26" wheels at the time, I did the following: 26*50/12 = 108 and do that for all your other gears as well. You don't have to convert your wheel size to metric. Or you can multiply by some random number to take care of the decimals. The important part is divide the front gear by the rear gear.
  3. Remove two gears with smallest front/smallest back and smallest front/2nd smallest back, and two gears with largest front/largest back and largest front/2nd largest back from your chart, for a total of four gears removed. You should never be riding in those gears since in those combinations, the chain is diagonal across the gear rings which is not good for either or the chain and grates on the components. So avoid at all costs.
  4. Rank your resulting numbers from highest to lowest, with the lower numbers being lowest/slowest gears (granny gears) and higher numbers being highest/fastest gears (downhills). So the granny gears (smallest front, largest back) would have low numbers and the gears for downhills (largest front, smallest back) would have super high numbers.
  5. Write it all out on a piece of paper and tape it to your handlebars. It really helps on the uphills especially with knowing into which gear you should downshift so as not to skip gears. Makes the climb smoother and more effective, in my opinion.

Below is my gear chart. The multicolored chart and numbers are the result of the formula I mentioned in #2 above: wheel size*front gear cogs/rear gear cogs. And the bottom chart is the ranking of the gears from slowest to fastest (granny gears to downhill gears). As you can see, I've crossed out the four gears I mentioned in #3 that you should never use and didn't include them in my rankings.

The numbers for the front and rear gears correspond to the number of cogs on each ring.


I've taped a little index card with the bottom chart info on my handlebars and try to shift in order. It's especially useful on uphills when I feel like I'm shifting too quickly or the one I'm in is just a tad too hard so I downshift and all is well. It's taken a little getting used to in figuring out what gear I'm actually in to be able to see where to go next, and I still find myself looking back at my rear derailleur quite often.

So during normal flats or rolling hills I don't really stick with the gear chart too much and just do it by feel, and don't really care if I'm a little bit off. As you can see in the middle gears of the middle chainring, the numbers aren't that different (first chart) and thus changing gears from say a gear combo of 39/17 to 50/21 (ranking 13 to 14) is about the same as from 39/17 to 39/16 (ranking 13 to 15). Here is where having an accurate wheel size comes in handy because you can see that 13 to 14 is 60 to 62 (not sure about the units...inches, maybe?) and 13 to 15 is 60 to 63, so only a difference of 1 inch between the two results, but you're going from 13 to 15 in just one gear change as compared to 3 for 13 to 14. So in those middle gears sometimes it's not important to go in order since the differences are slight and you can skip a ranking without feeling too much of a difference in order to shift less frequently.

Once you get to the granny gears or downhill gears, the differences are much more noticeable. Going from ranking 3 to 2 (30/21 to 30/24) is 37 inches to 33 inches, while ranking 3 to 1 (30/21 to 30/27) is 37 inches to 29 inches, a much bigger jump and thus a gear you probably don't want to skip.

Also, on the uphills it's easier to know which gear I'm in since the terrain is not changing as often and thus I'm in the same gear for a longer amount of time, but also because the differences between the gear combos are so great that I can generally feel where I am on the cassette. Overall, this has been really helpful in getting myself to ride in the proper gear and thus making my riding more efficient and smoother. I would highly recommend making a chart of your own.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Nifty little calorie cycling site

I've always wondered where people get their calorie cycling numbers, and now I've found it!

Here is not only a calorie calculator, showing your daily needs depending on activity level, but also giving some insight into what you should be eating and when with regards to calorie cycling.

My results are as follows:

And as you can see from the very bottom of the image, you can also calculate macro nutrient ratios (carbs, protein, fat) depending on you daily calorie intake.

Here's a snapshot of that:

Pretty nifty site. I don't really need the daily calorie thing since I have a GoWear Fit that tells me exactly how many calories I burn a day. But it's really nice to see how I should be calorie cycling for those inevitable plateau weeks. And the macro nutrient breakdown is really interesting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feeling discouraged yet again

I just got a text from The Roommie and it's somewhat disheartening:
"This is the most awkward proctor's night. The coaches are talking about recruiting another loose head and none of the team is talking to me. :("

Let me translate. Proctor's is a dive bar next to our practice field, and loose head is the position both I and The Roommie play. I actually only started playing loosehead about a month ago because my usual position is now occupied by one of the coach's favorites. Well, that's not entirely why she's starting all the time, because she is fairly good. But the fact that she's known the coach for eight years and moved out here to play for her sure doesn't help the situation.

Anywhos, I'm discouraged by that text because it's sad to hear you suck. Like, really suck. It's also another confirmation that I'm a huge outsider on this team, as if trying to hang out and talk to people but getting ignored instead wasn't indication enough. But that's a story for another day.

So I feel as if my plan to get super fit and super strong for the upcoming season is not going to be enough to get a starting position. At all. I just feel like all this is hopeless and I should just quit and wallow in my misery like I have been doing for years now.

But then I have to remember that this summer's plans are not just for rugby. Getting fit is not just for rugby. I've wanted to be thinner way before I started playing this sport so my goals shouldn't change just because there's a small kink in my plan for world domination. Well, at least on the rugby pitch.

And even if I'm not a starter on a super awesome team, I will still be thinner and fitter and (hopefully) happier. That, and I can't predict how good I'll be 50 pounds lighter. I mean, I was an All American (Second Team, but All American nonethess) when I wasn't exactly "thin" for my height. So who knows what will happen when I'm actually fit?

Blast from the past: 165+ pounds of awesomeness.
My whole goal for this summer was to come back in August and have everyone say, "Wow." I want to blow their minds by my hard work during our off-season. I want to show them what kind of rugby player I can be when I don't have all those extra pounds of padding weighing me down.

So let that be my motivation. Regardless if I make the starting side or not, I want to know that the only reason I didn't is because my skills aren't as good as someone else's, and not because my weight is slowing me down. I want to realize my full potential. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Summer plans

It's that time of year when I get super excited about it getting warm and all the fun things I can't wait to do during the summer. These thoughts happen every year, and every year I fail to make them happen. So this year I'm going to do things differently and set specific numerical goals to make sure I do all the things I want to do but have put off doing because I'm too damn lazy. (I'm a fan of lists, if you haven't noticed.)

Here goes nothing:
  • Go camping once a month.
  • Take a bike ride once a week.
  • Do a crazy hill ride twice a month.
  • Have people over or go to someone's house to grill twice a month.
  • Crew in a regatta once a month.

Mountains can be beautiful.
Some of these goals are social and others are things I've been wanting to do for a while. I keep complaining that I hate Colorado and living so far from a large body of water is torture, but I need to stop moping and make the best of living in this beautiful state. I really do enjoy it and can see myself becoming a mountain convert. That may be a stretch, but you never know. Regardless, I'm stuck here for a couple more years at least so I better start liking it sooner rather than later. I mean, I did spend most of my childhood backpacking with my parents and the view upon going over a pass is breathtaking. But c'mon, being one with sun and sea is pretty awesome too.
But nothing can beat this.

And, what inspired this post, you ask? Well, The Roommie is buying a road bike and thus I decided I needed some new cycling jerseys. Natural progression, right? So I've gotten bit by the cycling bug (from the comfort of my couch, of course) and got super excited about getting out on the road on my bike. And to make this excitement a reality, I needed some tangible but reasonable goals to work towards. Hence the list.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No more lettuce!

We (The Roommie and I) have been getting organic food delivered to us for about 3 months now, and you can tell it's not yet growing season. Most of the stuff we get is fruit from the tropics (mangoes, bananas, oranges) with a few hardy vegetables thrown in for good measure (squashes, root vegetables, cucumbers). Lately, though, we've been getting tons and tons of lettuce. Like, a bunch of it every week. And we are not good lettuce eaters. In fact, I hate lettuce, with a very deep passion. It has no taste, it takes up a lot of room in a bowl, and I feel like it's too much work to make it worth my while.

I know, I know. You're going to say that lettuce is the key ingredient in salads and I should be eating more green things anyway. But I refuse to make lettuce my green thing to eat. But I also hate letting food spoil so since we keep forgetting to switch out the lettuce for something else that would be much more delicious, we're stuck with eating four heads of lettuce before they go bad.

The Roommie hates letting things spoil more than I do, and so she's made it her mission to finish this batch of lettuce before it turns slimy. Her idea: cut all of it up and set it out on the table in plain view. Oh, and force it down my throat (just kidding about that last one!).

A crockpot of lettuce.
At one point last night, we had two massive mixing bowls of lettuce sitting on the counter, waiting to be eaten. But then we went out, imbibed (a lot), and got the drunken munchies. Only this time, we ate lettuce instead of chips. No joke. We killed one mixing bowl (about two heads of lettuce) between the three of us that were home. Wowsers! If these are my drunken munchies, then the only calories I have to worry about when going out for drinks is the beer. No more self-control issues when under the influence. Sweet.

I do have to say, I kind of like The Roommie's idea. Ever since she cut up the lettuce, I've been munching on it like it's chips. And I've had salad two days in a row now, which is highly abnormal. That may be due to the delicious raspberry balsamic vinegar she also bought, but whatever. Moral of the story is that her lettuce experiment has been a success! If only we could find a similar way to get everything else in our fridge eaten...

Friday, April 15, 2011

A blessing in disguise

My car has been having huge problems lately and thus I've had to go to the shop 3 times in the last week. Most notably, it was there all weekend and I was carless for a large amount of time (my fault for not picking it up...it was actually ready Friday at noon but Happy Hour, reading, and general lounging took priority over getting it back).

Anywhos, the point of this post isn't to complain that my car is a P.O.S., which it isn't. It's held up pretty well and there's actually not that much wrong with it now that the problem's been properly diagnosed.

The real reason that I'm writing about car troubles is that it's made me get off my butt and bike to school/work. I mean, I don't live that far from campus. In fact, it's a little over 1.5 miles from my front door to my first class. It's even closer to my office (1.3 miles). I should be biking every day, right?

Well, there's a small problem with this commute. There's a MASSIVE hill at about mile 1.


See? Totally flat at the beginning, then a 7% grade at mile one. If you don't get the idea, here's a little close-up:


I wouldn't mind it too much under regular bike-riding circumstances. (That's a lie. I'd be cursing the whole way up.) But my commuter bike weighs about 30 pounds (no joke, I actually weighed it) and I end up showing up to class with sweat stains up and down my back, and under my boobs and armpits. Not sexy. Gross, in fact. I even thought about buying a new t-shirt at the bookstore yesterday because I was so embarrassed.

Anywhos, another big problem I have is that it just hurts so bad to get up that thing. My quads burn, my lungs ache, and generally, it's just a miserable experience. Last time I pushed myself hard up that hill (and by "hard" I mean I pedaled just hard enough to not stand in place), it hurt to breathe for 2 hours afterward. So yeah, not my happy place.

But with my car in the shop and me not wanting to leave my house 40 minutes early to catch the bus when it takes less than half of that to bike, I was left with no choice but to try biking again. I used to be too embarrassed to even think about walking my bike up that hill (confidence issues, you know) so I suffered pedaling up that damn hill. But now I don't care. It's the only way I can get myself to consistently bike to work/school instead of driving and paying an arm and a leg for parking and gas. And this way, I can stay on campus as long as I want/need without worrying that I've exceeded my maximum parking time. And burn some calories on a daily basis. So many positives!


So yeah, the car problems have been a great blessing in disguise. It was perfect timing for me to have to take it to the shop because it's finally warming up consistently (if you ignore the snow storm we got yesterday) and thus it doesn't hurt nearly as much to bike everywhere. I even biked to get dinner the other day, instead of taking the car. Granted, I should've cooked something at home instead of buying 740 calories of Panera Bread, but little steps, little steps.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Getting it out of my system

It seems like I'm a once-a-week writer nowadays. That's ok with me for now since I've been swamped with work and school and rugby, but I've noticed that the more I write, the more involved/dedicated I am to weight-loss and thus I lose better. And since I haven't been posting much lately, that probably means I've been slacking with exercise and eating well. And that is very correct.

Acutally, I've been really disgusted with myself lately, mostly because instead of doing something about my weight and unfittedness (I totally just made up a word), I've been wallowing. And wallowing is not the way to go. The only way this weight will come off is if I work at it. I'm not going to one day wake up and be skinny. It's going to take a lot of sweat and tears (and probably blood, considering the fact that I'm back to playing rugby). I need to make exercising a habit and do it even if I don't want to. The question should be, "Would you rather be thinner and healthier, or sit on the couch for the hour or so it'll take you to burn some calories?" The answer should always be the former, although it hasn't been that way lately.

I've been using the excuse of studying and work instead of exercise, but in reality instead of doing something productive like that, I've been either watching TV or messing around on the internet. As a result, my weight-loss has stalled and my grades have been suffering. (That's another source of frustration...I know I can get straight-As. Not A-s, but A. It's just a matter of putting in the work. And I've been slacking lately and thinking I can get away with putting minimal work and still do well. Not!)

Ok, enough self-pity and beating myself up. I just needed to get that out of my system and get on with it. I figure if I say it enough times, then something's bound to change, right?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Exhausting weekend, now get back on the wagon!

The rugby game went really well. They even got some shots of me running.


But with it being the first warm day in months and also just being Colorado, it was super dry and thus super exhausting to run at all. I had parched lips within 30 seconds of stepping out onto the field. Yikes! So yeah, I need to get in better shape.

In the end, I got to play about 23 minutes, which was plenty, and I had an absolute blast. The Roommie and I devised a running plan to help us get fitter and so far it hasn't worked. Well, it's mostly because I haven't been planning or scheduling the rest of my life accordingly and thus need to wake up early to do homework/study instead of the planned run. So this week's plan has been shifted by a couple days and hopefully I'll be able to keep up with it all.

The same goes for food. I had a menu planned out and everything for the week's meals but then we had a potluck on Friday for the team and it all went downhill from there. It's like a bad circle of messing up...I don't eat well if I don't plan out meals, but if something throws my meal plan off, then I stop eating well and it all goes to shit.

The moral of the story is that I need to get my life in order and everything will go from there. I do really well when I have a routine and everything planned out hour by hour almost. Or at least some sort of plan will do. (On that note, I'm worried about the month of May when school will be done and I won't really have any sort of schedule. Even rugby is done. That leads to sleeping until 1 pm and wasting my life away. No bueno.)

And here's a parting shot of me picking up the ball and knocking a whole bunch of girls over.

Unfortunately that last part is not pictured, just the part where my gut seemingly gets in the way of bending over. Damn painted on jerseys...they accentuate all the curves I don't want people to see!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Down a bit in poundage and up a bit in happiness

I'm back to a 2-0-something kind of weight (207.0 to be exact), "dropping" four pounds since Monday. I think a lot of that had to do with TOM so I'm not really celebrating at all since I didn't have to do much to lose this weight, besides wait out a natural biological process. But it's still nice to see that I haven't gained any weight since my last weigh-in, and actually lost a couple pounds since my last legitimate weigh-in. I suspect I'm actually even lower than that since I've been feeling super dehydrated lately, so I've been drinking a lot of water the last couple of days to try to get myself to where I need to be. In fact, just writing that made me reach for my water bottle and take a long swig of it. You should too.

As for rugby...oh, rugby. We have a HUGE game this weekend against a spectacularly good team and my original goal for the season was to start in this game. Well, I'm not and I'm supremely happy about that. I mean, I would love to be good enough to start, but I know my fitness is not even close to that needed for an 80 minute intense match. So my amended goal was to be rostered (a substitute) and that's exactly what happened, which is awesome. I do hope I get to play a few minutes, although I don't think I'll be put in unless someone gets hurt, which is a bummer.

The good news on that front is I've beat out one of the girls I didn't think I could for a spot on the roster, and my coach has been training me in a new position, which would give me more depth. She also does think I'm rather good and so there's hope for me to make the starting side a few times next season if I keep improving (and in my opinion) get my fitness up and lose some poundage.

BUT, I'm kind of worried about the girl that's in my current position because she's super good, super fast, super strong, and everyone loves her. So there's no real hope of regaining my spot back, I think. Not only would I have to spend the summer in the gym (in addition to swim, bike, run training, work, and school, and some summer relaxation) to get stronger and fitter, but I would also have to learn a whole new position so that I don't have to compete against her.

If you're thoroughly confused about positioning, I'm mostly talking about the scrum. I usually play #3 on this team, have played #2 on other teams, and am now training to be #1 (at the top of the picture #1 is above the white #2, actually to the left of him).


The two positions, #1 and #3, are very similar except #3 goes into a scrum with both shoulders in, while #1 only has his right shoulder in and pushing. And that's what's been throwing me off. That, and binding on with my arm in the right spot.


Images courtesy of The Telegraph and Wikipedia, respectively.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How rugby relates to weight-loss

I'd been really discouraged lately in the rugby practice and triathlon training and general life exercise departments. It seemed that everything was hopeless and impossible to achieve. There are some really good girls on the team that I wouldn't be able to edge out for a position in the starting side. I didn't have enough hours in the day to get in all the swims, bike rides, runs, lifting, plyometrics, and HIITs that are necessary for triathloning and playing rugby. And that doesn't even include work and school. And lastly, 80 pounds is a lot to lose.

But then I had an unexpected talk with my rugby coach and all became clear. She doesn't think I'm too short to play a few of the positions I was worried about being competitive for (now I can play 3 positions, instead of just 1 that I previously thought). She also thinks I'm doing really well and improving steadily. And I got the roster for Saturday's game and I'm subbing in for a very important game. So instead of being completely discouraged about rugby, I am now hopeful that with enough hard work, I can make accomplish all of my dreams.

How does this relate to weight-loss, you ask? Well, part of the reason my skills aren't where they used to be is because I'm not fast enough to get to where I need to be to demonstrate my knowledge of rugby. I don't have the strength or endurance to hit as hard as I'd like to because I also have to run for 80 minutes. So it becomes a trade-off: don't hit as hard so I can run a bit longer. And a lot of these problems have to do with carrying too much weight on my gut, thighs, back, you name it.

After the talk with my coach, I had a huge epiphany and my hope was restored in this whole losing weight process. If I could commit to running/exercising and losing weight like I would like/need to, it would benefit so many different aspects of my life. I could run faster in rugby and therefore be better. I could keep up with all the fast people in triathlons. And I would be much more confident in my appearance, which would increase my self-esteem exponentially.

I don't know why I thought losing weight was stupid, impossible, and pointless. Obviously it's not going to happen overnight, but the benefits of it are numerous and the hard work is totally worth it!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A little recap of the past month, mostly rugby-related

Since I've been away from the blog so long, I figure a recap is in order. Last I wrote, I was on my way to San Diego to play in my first rugby tournament in two years. It was an absolute blast and I realized how much I've missed the sport during my time off. I also realized how horribly out of shape I really am and how much I totally suck. The most frustrating thing is knowing that I used to be good and fit and strong, and those last two things are preventing me from being the first thing.

Prior to that tournament and the beginning of the season, my goal was to start on the D1 side on April 2nd against one of the best rugby teams in the nation. But the more I played and practiced, the more I realized that that's not a possibility and my priorities have since changed. The only way I could be good again is if I became faster, stronger, and fitter, and obviously that wasn't going to happen overnight.

So my new priorities for this season are to get fit and strong for rugby, and in the process, shed all this weight. I can't possibly be fast and carry over 200 pounds on my 5'4" frame. At my peak rugby awesomeness, I weighed 165-ish (I don't remember exactly) and even then I had weight to lose.

One of the awesome things about this rugby team is that it's got lots of support from the town we play in, with regards to money for travel and trainers for injuries and such. But they also have a training staff that gives us workouts depending on the stage of our season. For example, winter was very lifting-heavy and the spring is more agility and speed-based. I'm not sure what the summer will bring, but I'm excited to use that time to get stronger and ready for our competitive fall season.

And about my weight-loss, eh? I'm not sure where I stand. I think I haven't gained or lost any weight since I last blogged, which is a good thing. I've started riding my bike at least a couple times a week and running about as much. Between rugby practice and school and work, I don't know where to fit in the extra lifting, plyometrics, and interval training that's been added to the bi-weekly rugby practices. I've started cooking again instead of eating out as much, which is always great for the gut and the wallet.

However, I haven't been to swimming in over 3 weeks. I've tried going to other workout times since 6 am is a bit early for me, but I didn't like them nearly as much as the Tuesday/Thursday ones I'd been attending. I think a lot of the dislike for other sessions had to do with my attitude towards being slow (entirely my fault for not maintaining my fitness) so that may've factored into it, but I also miss having my weekly routine and the accountability of a set session. I'm going to start going again tomorrow, I think. It has to begin somewhere.

So that's that!

Lastly, here's a photo from a game a couple of weeks ago. I'm #3 on the right.

Lordosis, another problem I have due to excessive couch sitting

My lower back has been hurting a lot lately, especially when I read on my stomach in bed, or spend a long time sitting on the couch. I asked our trainer for the rugby team what the deal was and she says I have lordosis, which is an excessive inward curve of the spine. She gave me some stretches to do and I'm not sure if they've helped, probably because I haven't been doing them as often as I need to.

Here are the causes:

  • Tight hip flexors
  • Weak core muscles
  • Poor exercise form (or no exercise form)
  • Weak gluteal muscles
  • Obesity (of course)

I have noticed lately that my core muscles have gotten noticeably weaker and also that my hip flexors are sometimes pretty tight. So those seem to be relatively easily fixed problems, and they would aid in my overall goal of getting stronger and fitter this rugby season.

I've found some good stretches/exercises to incorporate into my life while I'm watching the daily TV show. They're not unpleasant like running while watching TV (which I can never seem to do) so I think I'm more likely to get them done.

And they are the following (from www.stronglifts.com):

  • Bridges. Glute activation & strengthening exercise. Raise your glutes off the floor by squeezing them as hard as you can. 3 sets of 10 reps.
  • Birddogs. Single leg glute activation exercise. Brace your abs & keep your spine neutral. Push back with your heels. 3 sets of 10 reps both sides.
  • Hip Flexor Stretches. Use padding for your knees. Keep your torso perpendicular to the floor & your lower back neutral. Think upper leg back, not going down. Squeeze the glute of the back leg. 3 sets of 10 secs each side.
  • Hamstring Stretches. Leg Swings. Chest forward, shoulders back, lower back straight & knees unlocked. Look forward. Move your legs, keep your pelvis still. If you can’t get high: keep working at it. Flexibility will come. 3 sets of 10 reps each side.
  • Strengthen Abs. Turkish Get-ups are my favorite. 5×5, increasing the weight every session.

And some more from Livestrong:

  • Hip Flexor Stretches. You can also manually stretch your hip flexors by standing up, bending your knee and holding on to your ankle. Tilt your pelvis forward as you pull the leg back. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • The Pelvic Tilt. The pelvic tilt position is the opposite of an arched back. If practiced daily, it can help correct a lordotic posture. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, tilt the lower part of your pelvis from the floor, forming a hollow bowl between your pelvis and your navel. Perform about 20 repetitions daily.
  • Stability Ball Bridge. The stability ball bridge strengthens your gluteal muscles. Since the ball is an unstable object, it requires deep core activation. As such, this exercise will work your butt and your deep abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your calves draped over the ball. Begin with the pelvic tilt. Then, squeeze your butt until you are in a bridge position. As you roll down, try to feel each vertebra touch the floor. Make sure that the lower back touches the floor before the pelvis. Perform 12 repetitions every day.
  • Stability Ball Crunch. Strengthening your abdominal muscles is essential for correcting spinal lordosis. Performing your crunches on a stability ball will make use of your deeper abdominal muscles. Position yourself on the ball so that you butt, lower back and mid-back are against the ball's surface. Rest your fingers at the edge of your head. Inhale to prepare. As you exhale, curl your upper torso so that your rib cage moves toward your pelvis. Perform 20 repetitions daily.
  • Knees to Chest Stretch and Heel Slide. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Lift both legs from the floor, and draw your knees to your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Then, lower one heel to the floor. Keep the opposite knee close to your chest. Slide the other heel along the floor until the leg is straight. Keep your back flat on the floor the entire time. Perform eight repetitions on each leg.

So I think the plan will be to do a combination of these every day as well as some general strength and endurance training. More on that later.