Monday, December 10, 2012

Overhauling my wardrobe

Today I went to Marshalls with one purpose: Find a pair of flesh-colored thermals to wear as a costume for tonight's broomball game. Instead, I walked out an hour later with over $150 worth of t-shirts and long-sleeve shirts.

What had started as an "Ooh, that's a really cute shirt," turned into a much-needed overhaul of my closet.

This isn't the good kind of overhaul that comes with weight-loss since I haven't lost enough to need any new clothes. It's the opposite kind of change where I've refused to buy bigger clothes and thus only wear the ones that still fit, which tend to be the baggy pajama-y t-shirts I've had since college. And I'm kind of tired of making due with what still fits.

Every year I make a birthday resolution to dress better and take care of myself more, and it usually lasts all of two weeks before I go back to the comfort of workout shirts. But I really feel serious about this one because I've started liking looking pretty.

And by that I don't mean that I'll suddenly start wearing heels and putting on make-up. I'm very far from that degree of dressing up. But putting on a nice shirt with some cute jeans a few times a week is definitely something that I'm ready and excited for. And the shirts I got today were both shirts for the bars and also for everyday life, so they're very versatile and not overly fancy.

My only concern was that I wouldn't get much use out of these clothes because I won't fit into them very shortly (yet another instance of wishful thinking with regards to weight-loss). I didn't want to blow all this money on stuff that would last maybe one season. But I've been saying this for years now and instead of losing weight, I've been wearing frumpy clothes that I'm not exactly happy with.

So I'm taking a different approach this time and dressing myself well while I'm still at this weight and if I have to buy new clothes in a month or two then so be it. At least it'll be for a good reason (weight-loss!) that time around.

Also, most of the shirts I bought today are stretchy and will still look good if I drop down a size or two. Or they can turn into real pajamas if I they look too big. Either way, I think I'll keep these guys around for a while. They're really cute!

Lastly, I'm mostly down to a M/L in tops, which greatly confuses me. I don't think I've lost any significant weight since last time I went shopping (maybe 5 lbs) so I'm thinking it's just a difference in material this time around. Whatever the reason, it's nice to get out of the XL section.

Now I'm thinking that I'm more of a L rather than M because the one M shirt I wore today is so tight that you can see the creases from my bra through it. I mean, it doesn't feel tight or even all that snug, but you can tell it's stretched over my body since every fold of my back is visible through it. Then again, that's pretty evident with every shirt I wear so maybe the size of the shirt isn't the problem after-all. Also, when I tried on the L, it seemed a bit droopy so I think this is the better choice of the two sizes.

Ay ay ay! I am so indecisive about everything.

On another note, I am indeed losing weight and gaining will-power. I turned down a beer last night after my broomball game so that I could get an accurate weigh-in today. And I'm down to a weight I haven't been since April of this year, which was also my lowest weight of the year thus far (214.0 lb). Woohoo!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I eat too much, or exercise too little

I've been diligently tracking my food for the past couple of weeks and for me to lose 1.5 lbs a week (my current goal), I need to eat only 1370 calories a day. I've found that that is woefully too little.

On my most successful days, I average around 1600-1700, which is nowhere near the goal. By the way, I define success as not being hungry and feeling fulfilled both physically and mentally with regards to food. For example, I don't ever want to feel deprived because I know that is not a sustainable way of life, which is my ultimate goal for this weight-loss journey.

If I want something sweet, I would like to be able to have it, even if it's just one chocolate square and not the whole chocolate bar. I've gotten much better about meting out my sweets in that I won't have the chocolate and the ice cream and the eggnog all in one day. However, I will have a small bit of one of those things because I crave sugar and don't feel good without it.

I know that's a problem that needs to be dealt with some day (once I get the exercise and portion sizes under control), but at the same time I feel like I shouldn't cut out an entire food group from my diet. I can't live without any sugar for the rest of my life and therefore I shouldn't be using that technique now because I want this lifestyle change to be sustainable.

So if having the little things that get me through the day means I will lose a little slower, so be it. I'm currently losing about a pound a week, and that's with very minimal exercise (and a significant amount of beer...also something I need to cut down on). If I can regularly get out the door for some biking or running then I think I can ramp up the rate of loss.

Edited to add:
My sugar intake is also in the form of apples, mangoes, oranges, etc. So I'm not just eating junk food. I simply find that I need sugary things as snacks (~80-100 calories per snack) and decently sized meals (~400 calories per meal) not to feel deprived at the end of the day. For me, deprivation is not sustainable even for the short-term, so I'm trying the slower method of weight-loss and so far it's working (slowly).

Also, the 1370 number is my net calorie goal for the day. So if I exercise, I "earn" those extra calories, which means that the more I exercise the more I can eat. On days I run (I'm doing Couch to 10k currently...again) I get about 100-200 calories more and on bike ride days I earn upwards of 700 calories.

Regardless of exercise, I try to keep my calorie count as low as I can sustain, which I've found is ~1600 calories for the day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Vacation weight-loss, or lack thereof

I just got back from a week in Mexico and it was an amazing seven days of gluttony and sloth.

I knew that trying to count calories would be impossible when I wasn't the one preparing most of my meals. Also, I didn't want to stress or worry or even have to think about approximating things. I knew my calorie intake would not be pretty so I went with the head-in-the-sand technique of ignoring weight-loss altogether that week, and it worked out well for my mental health.

Instead of worrying about everything I put in my mouth, I made a concerted effort to drink less beer and eat fewer chips. I didn't completely abstain from either of those things but I only had them when I REALLY wanted them. So in a sense, I did eat less than I normally would, which is the bare bones goal I've set for myself for the rest of this calendar year.

I haven't weighed myself yet so I don't know the real damage done, because I'm waiting for the alcohol water weight to fully wear off. But whatever it ends up being, it was totally worth it (seriously). I needed that week to relax and worrying about my weight was not the way to do it.

Now it's back to the real world, complete with work meetings, calorie counting, and adapting my workouts to the weather.

By the way, the lawn chair on the left in the shade of the palapa is where I spent most of the last seven days:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bridesmaids dresses

A good friend of mine is getting married in June and she's asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. I'm honored and excited, but kind of perplexed about the dress situation.

We're getting this awesome dress that can be converted into 15 different dresses depending on how you style the top. So it's going to be a keeper. The problem is it comes in two different sizes: A and B. Size A is for people sized 0 - 14, and B is for 16 - 24, with a recommendation to get A if you're a 12 - 14 (for comfort).

In general, I've tried to stay away from buying clothes that "I can wear when I lose weight" because then I don't have anything to wear right now. When I do finally get down to a size where my clothes no longer fit (for a good reason) I've finally realized that the cheapskate in me will be replaced by proud me. And getting new clothes will be a great non-food reward for losing all this weight. Or at least I'll have a good reason to justify overhauling my wardrobe.

Anywhos, this dress situation throws that entire way of thinking out the window. I really like this dress and I really do plan on keeping it for a while because it's so convertible. But I also want to be able to enjoy this dress now and not be uncomfortable for the wedding. A solution could be ordering the larger size and getting it tailored when I eventually slim down. But I think that might be too expensive. So that leaves me with getting thinner and doing it quickly (by my standards).

In order for me to fit a size A comfortably, I would have to lose about 55 pounds between now and then, which is approximately 7 months and comes out to between 1.5 and 2 lbs a week. It's theoretically possible but I'm not sure I can do it because I suck at willpower and sticking to strict schedules. Things usually take me longer to accomplish than I anticipate and this weight-loss thing is already a massive undertaking.

On the other hand, it's nice to have a set goal.

Honestly, I don't know what to do. I've been pretty committed to weight-loss lately, but it's only been a couple weeks so it's hard to gauge my progress and it's around this time-frame that I give up entirely because I become overwhelmed. I'm going to see how I do between now and when we have to order the dress and make the decision closer to that date. But the dress has to be ordered by the end of the year, not leaving me much time to assess the feasibility of losing that much weight.

So for now I will fret and stress and over-think losing weight, which will probably result in me giving up on this entirely as I have in years past. I do much better when I go through this process at my own pace. I've been fat for so long that an extra year won't make that much of a difference. At least that's how I justify taking my time to lose weight.

But with this dress and wedding, I don't have that convenience and I'm worried I'll crash and burn and not fit into my bridesmaids dress. That'll be a double whamy of failure.

Any suggestions for what I should do? Get the next size up and do things on my own terms (and not have a dress for later)? Or go for broke and try to get skinny by June?

Current weight: 215.5

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Exercise partner fail

I'd been meeting up with a couple people to run hills and stairs for the past month or so. Originally we did Tuesdays at noon and then one week we added Thursdays at 8 am. That was my suggestion because I just can't do lunch runs on Thursdays and my friends agreed.

I'm kind of pissed off about this because even though I specifically told them to let me know if the plan changes, no one did. I understand we don't see each other every day and some days lately I haven't been able to make it for a variety of reasons. But I've always let them know well in advance that I'd be missing. So a little courtesy text that they won't be there would've been nice.

I also don't exactly like the hills and stairs because I truly don't see any progress I'm making. Technically it's probably easier for me to do more reps but I don't notice it. And that's frustrating for me. I like to see the fruits of my labor and these exercises aren't cutting it.

So I think the solution is to do the C210k program three days a week and add hills on Tuesdays with the group. Whenever it's nice enough to ride my bike I'll do that instead and just push back my C210k plan back a day. I'm not on any sort of schedule so this should be the least stressful way to go about exercising and getting fit.

And now that The Roomie's rugby season is over, we had planned to use the time she usually had practice to go to the gym to lift. Except she scheduled herself to work tonight instead. Awesome.

That pretty much leaves me to my own devices and will-power, which have never been my strong suit. Oh well.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Pardon all the recipe posts but I've been experimenting with different kinds of foods, trying to find a rhythm for my meals.

I was really craving peanut butter today for breakfast (a craving is usually how I decide that day's meal) and wasn't really feeling a PB&J sandwhich, mostly because I don't want to waste my calories on bread filler. So instead I was reminded of a delicious peanut butter and banana smoothie I had eaten recently, so I went that route.

After enjoying and loving my breakfast smoothie, I decided I needed to do these more often and began looking for recipes, where "recipes" is used as a loose term. Mostly I was looking for good combinations of ingredients besides the obvious fruit + yogurt variety.

I haven't really found any so here is what I've settled on to get the proportions correct:
For 2 servings that yield approximately 200 - 300 calories per serving, put together...
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • ~2 cups fruit
  • 2 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Good combinations include:
  • Peanut butter and banana (1 tbs peanut butter)
  • Mango and banana
  • All the berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
  • Banana and granola
  • Pistachios with kiwis
  • Walnuts with apples
  • Pears and oranges
  • Cherries and raspberries
These are all pretty crappy recipes in that they're nothing new. But I prefer my breakfasts to be lactose-based and thus smoothies with orange/other juice as a base were eliminated, as were ones where vegetables were pureed. I'm very specific as to how I eat my veggies (not boiled or obliterated) so that pretty much leaves yogurt, milk, and fruit as the main ingredients.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


With my renewed commitment to getting healthy (I've lost count how many times I've renewed this commitment), I joined some groups on 3 Fat Chicks to keep myself accountable. One of them is a running support group for the Couch to 5k Program, so although I'm doing Couch to 10k I can still share my progress with others since the set-up is essentially the same.

Here is a recent post that I wrote in response to the quoted question that really struck close to how I'm feeling now:
Originally Posted by L
I guess the real reason I'm writing this long post is to find out if other people out there are doing the C25k strictly by themselves. And if so, how do they motivate themselves to do that? Do you ever feel anxious and awkward about it?
When I did C210k last winter, I did a lot of the runs on my own and I did feel awkward at first. I live in a very thin town so I stick out like a sore thumb as is. But running around made me feel even more out-of-place. I especially felt like a pansy the first week or so because the program only had me running for a minute at a time and it seemed so little!

But once I got through that and was running for longer distances I was huffing and puffing too much to care what anyone else thought about me. For the most part, my motivation stemmed from not wanting to lose all the fitness I had worked so hard to get.

Each time I stopped the program I had a decent reason (shin splints the first time, cut off part of my finger another year so getting my pulse too high was extremely painful, and a knee injury last year stopped all forms of exercise for a couple of months). Getting restarted from scratch really sucked, and it took a long time for me to get to the point where I somewhat "enjoyed" running.

So not wanting to go through that beginning stage of suckage is motivation enough to keep going. Keep at it! Focus on your pace or listening to music and you'll be able to block out the feelings of anxiety.

Ever since I began exercising semi-regularly again in the last month, it's been a struggle to get out the door every time. It's been especially bad this week with both running and biking, even though the latter is something I LOVE doing and it's still warm enough outside to make it fun.

I don't have the motivation I usually use and mention in the above quote because I have no fitness to lose. I am starting at absolute zero, so it's easy to justify putting off exercise for another day or week.

Both Monday and Tuesday I went back and forth with myself about working out, first being very motivated, then justifying not going at all. Finally as sunset neared, I realized that the things I want to fix and the goals I have for myself all require me to burn calories and get fitter. And putting this off for a different day is just going to extend the unhappiness I feel about my state of health. So I sucked it up and went begrudgingly.

It's harder to find my usual motivation when I'm just starting an exercise routine. I just have to keep going over my run and bike times from the last couple years and see that these programs really do make me faster, fitter, and healthier. And then I have to force myself out the door.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Keeping track of things

I've previously spoken about my severe dislike of calorie counting because it absolutely drives me nuts so I've experimented with other ways of keeping track of my food intake. Lately, I've just been writing down what I've been eating without focusing and stressing about how many calories I've ingested. I mean, I know the general calorie count, but I don't worry that I've eaten a handful of grapes without knowing exactly how many went into my mouth.

Overall, I've been trying to fix the two major problems I have with eating:
  1. I like big portions and high-calorie foods.
  2. I wing a lot of my meals and that results in eating out a lot.
To solve problem 1, I've been looking up recipes that have lower calorie counts

Problem 2 has been much harder to fix. I hate cooking. Let me rephrase, I hate cooking every day. Once in a while, I crave a home-cooked meal but that doesn't happen very often. I'd rather drive to get take-out than spend that time cooking on my own. Yeah, no bueno.

I don't know where this dislike of cooking stems from so it's hard for me to fix it. It's hard to buy exact ingredients for a given recipe, so I'm bound to have leftovers not only of the meal but of random other things like bunches of broccoli or part of a block of cheese. I'm not creative enough to throw all these things into some other dish so they usually go bad in the fridge because I don't think to just snack on a stalk of celery. And then I have to throw it out, which makes me less inclined to buy more things for the next recipe.

Also, when I'm seriously calorie counting, I have every calorie mapped out and having some leftover cheese or cream or an apple really throws off my plan. Although if you think about it, I could eat the apple instead of drinking the beer and I'd be better off. But that idea doesn't seem to come to mind at the time.

I'm also not a fan of leftovers (and by that I mean that they really gross me out) so I would have to cook practically every meal, and that's just not going to happen. So that leads to me cooking a few times a week and eating out the rest of the time, all of which throws off my desire to eat fewer calories with every meal. I end up being "good" some days, but the "bad" days greatly offset the good ones.

When I read over this post again, it sounds like a bunch of excuses. I need to...
  1. Get over disliking leftovers.
  2. Become unlazy and cook my damn food instead of driving to buy it.
  3. Be accountable for what I put in my mouth.
  4. Stay away from beer!

Stuffed bell peppers

Originally this was a way to get beans into my diet, but few of the recipes I found actually contained beans. Here is the most delicious recipe I've discovered and one I made last week, from Cooking Light:

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
This recipe for stuffed peppers trades in the meat in favor of vegetables like red bell peppers, shallots, and mushrooms. The blend of flavors is sure to please guests.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed pepper)

  • 6 medium red bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
  • 2 1/2 cups hot cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or substitute 4 minced cloves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cut tops off bell peppers; discard seeds and membranes.
  3. Cook peppers in boiling water 5 minutes; drain.*
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  5. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender.
  6. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until tender.
  7. Add parsley, almonds, sherry, and chile powder; sauté 3 minutes.
  8. Add rice, tomato juice, black pepper, garlic powder, and salt; sauté 3 minutes.
  9. Spoon 3/4 cup rice mixture into each bell pepper.
  10. Top each bell pepper with 2 teaspoons cheese.
  11. Place stuffed bell peppers in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; bake at 350° for 15 minutes.

*Instead of boiling the peppers beforehand (I don't particularly like boiled vegetables) another option I've found is to simply bake them for ~30 minutes instead of the recommended 15. However, to avoid scorching the cheese, you have to remember to add it 15 minutes from completion so this does add another step.

Some suggested adding 1/2 cup water for a small baking dish and baking the peppers in that. I'm kind of wary of that, so I did the previous method of 30 minutes at 350 F and it turned out well. The peppers were tender but crunchy, which is just the way I like them.

Also, it's easier to cut the peppers into halves lengthwise and fill both halves with the stuffing. The insides warm more evenly and the peppers sit better in the baking dish.

Lastly, for those who consider black pepper spicy (like me) and are worried about the ancho chili powder, there's no need to fret. The ancho chili is the mildest and sweetest of the chilis so it's actually not spicy once you mix it with everything. I mean, you could tell there was chili powder in the recipe but I wouldn't consider the outcome spicy by any means.

This recipe can be significantly amended to include all types of meat and veggies, as well as use beans as I had originally intended. Also, cheese toppings can be mixed up to add more variety. We used gorgonzola instead of parmesan on half of ours and it was so much better. Next time I think we'll mix some cheese into the rice/veggies inside to make it that much better. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

In short, this recipe is delicious, easy and quick to make, and reheats well in the oven for leftovers (which says a lot coming from me since I absolutely HATE leftovers).

It's also pretty good for you (a stuffed pepper is one serving, which is plenty filling):

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ride the Rockies Training Schedule

Here is a training schedule to prepare for a week-long bike tour held in Colorado every June called Ride the Rockies. Sometimes they take this page down, especially in the off-season, so I wanted to copy it here for reference.

This is what I generally use to increase my bike mileage gradually. I've never actually completed this entire schedule nor have I ever participated in Ride the Rockies, although I strive to do both. I think the farthest I've gotten is Week 5 or 6 before I start lounging, lose all my fitness, and have to start over.

When I do stick with it, I notice a HUGE increase in my speed. I also tend to incorporate sprints into the earlier rides (sprint every other telephone pole, or a long farm block) and in the spring I did a monstrous hill once or twice a week. So all that helped significantly.

I don't think I have time to add the hills right now because I've started running again twice a week, but we'll see. Also, with vacations, holidays, and winter weather approaching, I have no idea how far I'll get this time around.

All credit goes to the Ride the Rockies folks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Diversifying my diet

I don't usually subscribe to articles/pieces that talk about "X foods that will help you lose weight fast!" But this article interested me because I've been looking for healthy foods to add to my diet, and this seemed more of a guide on how to be healthy than how to lose weight (in my mind, at least).

I'm using it as a way to diversify my diet in a healthy way, instead of focusing on the extra 300 calories burned that are advertised. It's pretty simple: eat more beans, yogurt, and salmon.

Here is the article that I found on CNN titled "7 foods that fight fat":
( -- Get excited: You can burn calories and combat fat by eating yummy food.
"If you choose the right picks, studies show you can torch up to 300 extra calories a day," says Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "The Hunger Fix."

Whole, unrefined foods are your heroes. Your metabolism has to work harder to break them down than processed ones, so you're zapping more calories — and storing less as fat. These recipes double up (even triple up) on foods with serious metabolism-boosting power. Take that, dastardly fat!


What a catch! Research suggests the omega-3s in salmon and other fatty fish help build muscle — and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Omega-3s may also help reduce fat storage by lowering cortisol levels (scientists have yet to confirm how).

Go for: Two 3-oz servings of fatty fish per week.


Calcium-rich foods have slimming superpowers. Get too little of this mineral and your body's more likely to pack away calories as fat, according to a review of studies.

With up to 50% more calcium per ounce than milk, yogurt is a potent source. Better yet, its probiotics may help keep belly fat under control.

Go for: At least two servings a day.


For a speedy metabolism, you need to keep inflammation in check and blood vessels clear and supple. Avocado's unique combo of essential fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and antioxidants helps you do just that. Plus, one avocado's 14 grams of fiber kicks up your calorie burn.

Go for: One to two daily servings of foods high in healthy fats.


High in resistant starch and fiber, beans force your system to use extra energy (as in calories) to break them down.

Research from the University of Colorado suggests that if you choose foods high in resistant starch — it's also found in whole grains and not-quite-ripe bananas — you can increase your calorie-burning power by up to 24% over the course of the day.

Go for: One serving of a resistant-starch food per meal.

Chili peppers

Feel the burn? It's more than mere sensation: chilies' heat signals the presence of capsaicin, a compound that, along with capsiate, can propel the body to scorch an extra 50 to 100 calories following a spicy meal.

Go for: Chilies as hot as you can stand. (But watch out! The hottest ones — habanero, Scotch bonnet, and Thai or Indian peppers — are too fiery for many people.)

 Green tea

This packs caffeine and antioxidants called catechins, a dynamic duo believed to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning. Studies suggest that drinking green tea can help you drop pounds and trim your waist.

Go for: Several cups a day (keeping in mind how caffeine affects you).


You use it to wake up — and your metabolism will, too.

The caffeine in one cup of joe temporarily perks up your metabolism by as much as 15 percent. Caffeine also helps mobilize the forces that burn stored fat.

Go for: One to two cups a day, especially before exercise.

Now the next question is how to incorporate beans without buying a whole bunch of cans, because canned beans are full of sodium. But that's a dilemma for another day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An update

It's been a very long while since I've written anything here and that's kind of been on purpose. I haven't forgotten about this blog at all. In fact, I come here every day to check out my blog roll and read what others have posted. I'm backwards in that I don't like following or subscribing to blogs. I just visit when a new post has been written.

Anywhos, here is a catch-up of what has been going on in my life the last five months (I can't believe it's been so long!):

  • I went on a medical mission trip to Southeast Asia where I was flown in by helicopter to spend a week in the Indonesian jungle.
  • I lived on a U.S. Navy hospital ship for a month, from which said helicopter departed.
  • I spent three weeks with my folks in California and decompressed from the last two years of life.
  • I submitted my medical school applications, increased my hours at work, and have watched an unhealthy amount of television due to the abundance of time on my hands.

None of this is weight-loss related. So here is the weight-loss update:

  • I started going to the gym with my roommate to get my upper arms and core a little less flabby.
  • I switched from playing rugby to refereeing rugby so now it's very obvious when I'm not fit enough to be where I need to be.
  • As a result of the previous point, I began regularly running The Hill of Death. I honestly hate every minute of it but apparently it makes a difference in my conditioning so I suffer through it every Tuesday.
  • I have made sure I only drink beer once a week, although I'm still working on limiting the intake to three beers each evening. That's the next step.
  • I have cooked approximately five meals since I came back to the United States in July. No bueno.

I think that's about it for now. Because I have so much free time on my hands, I've committed to making a huge effort to eat healthier and exercise more regularly. I now can look up recipes and plan my meals, as well as obsess over calorie count everything I put into my mouth. I have yet to implement this plan, but it's slated to begin this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

I also signed up for another Tough Mudder event for April and this time I actually want to be fit enough to run the majority of the 10-mile course. That, and it's cooling down, which to me means it's approaching running weather. I absolutely LOVE being outside in the cold and since biking is just too unpleasant for these kinds of temperatures, running it is.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Totally got called out

I've been having knee problems for a while now, and they seem to be never-ending. I ended up having surgery on it in December, got a steroid shot last month, and am still having some grinding/diffuse pain issues even though the steroid helped immensely with the worst of the pain.

Anywhos, I went to my orthopedic doctor today and I felt like the office had become a bit too familiar. The front-desk lady pulled out my chart as soon as she saw me come in and the PA actually pronounced my nickname correctly (that's how I usually know people remember meeting me). I clearly have been coming in too much.

Why all this detail? Well, it's mostly because I like to ramble. But my main point is that the doc and his PA both said that I need to work more on strengthening the knee, by doing core, hip, and quad workouts. Yeah, I've been slacking on those like crazy and they totally called me out on it.

I mean, I'll go on really hard bike rides several times a week but I honestly can't remember the last time I did a side plank. And my left quad is still significantly smaller than my right one. (I have no idea how they can tell that just by poking around my kneecap, but I'll take it.)

So that is something I'm going to have to work on now to make this knee thing go away. But I'm really glad they don't think I'd torn my meniscus, again. I don't have time or energy to deal with all that that entails.

And on another positive front, I'm down to 213.5 lbs today, which is pretty awesome considering my 3 x per week of exercise max and eating out habits. Since I started this shindig at the end of February, I've somewhat consistently been losing 1 lb per week, which has been the plan. Awesome!

My clothes don't fit any better, so I've been worrying that my muscles have been atrophying due to my schedule of insane studying and not much else. But my fat % has also been creeping down so maybe that's an unfounded concern. The biggest challenge will be finding motivation to exercise during the next two months while I'm on a boat (in my flippy floppies).

Regardless, today has been a pretty good day.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photos on Facebook

One of the main reasons I began to take weight-loss seriously this time around is due to my sudden aversion at looking in the mirror or at pictures of myself. My fat rolls are becoming a bit excessive and it shows. A lot.

With this new disgust of my body, I've started debating whether I should un-tag all the not-so-flattering photos of myself on Facebook. So far, the conclusion I've come to is that I should keep them because, 1) I would no longer have any pseudo-recent photos of myself, and 2) it's an accurate representation of how I look right now so I'm not really hiding anything by taking them off the interwebz. But at the same time, the people with whom I don't interact on a daily basis (90% of my FB friends) don't need to see how I've let myself go. So I still don't know.

Here is some of the evidence:
Last night at the bar. This one isn't too bad actually.

August 2011. I'm in the Wonder Woman bathing suit.

August 2011. I can't believe I walked around all week with my back fat hanging out like that.

New Years' 2011. Yeah, no bueno.

What do you think? Should I un-tag these, or keep them?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My version of calorie counting

I cannot calorie count. I've tried and failed multiple times, so eventually I just gave it up. It works for about three weeks and then I go nuts from the stress and end up going back to my diet of pizza and beer.

Since I gave up calorie counting, I've had trouble controlling my caloric intake to best maximize my weight-loss. As a result, I've largely given up on losing weight through managing my food and have focused on exercise as my main source of calorie deficits, which most people say is not the way to go. Usually, exercise has worked for me in weight-loss but lately the weather has not cooperated with bike riding and I've been fairly lazy. And with that, I thought my weight-loss would completely stall.

BUT, I've still been losing weight. I'm down to 214.5 today! How is that possible?

Well, in the past few weeks, I've stayed away from eating out and have cooked relatively nutrient-dense and low-calorie meals. My snacks no longer consist of candy and chips, but instead I've focused on eating all the fruit and veggies I have in my house.

So without consciously calorie counting, I've kind of been controlling my caloric intake by eating lower calorie meals and cutting down on the junk I ingest when I'm bored. I mean, I still eat too much ice cream and have a few beers a week, but it's definitely a lot less than I used to, which is why the scale is slowly but surely going down.

I generally know how many calories are in each of my meals/foods so I try to limit my meals to 500 calories and snacks to 100 calories. But if it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out. I don't stress about being a couple hundred over or under. I'd rather lose slower than be wound up like a ball of stress all the time.

In short, I'm more aware of what I'm putting in my mouth without obsessing over it. And so far this "diet" has lasted longer than any other thing I've tried in the last 5 years. So I'm going to stick with it until it stops working. And then I'll amend.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Good Habits From Home Project

I just got back from a week at home with my parents in California, and as usual when I return from their house, I want to incorporate some of my mom's awesome food habits into my diet. She always sends me back with a suitcase full of home-cooked meals so I don't have to cook for myself for at least a week. But after that, I usually go back to my lazy ways of take-out and junk food.

This time, I've resolved that things will be different. I've had my nose stuck in a book for the past three months studying for the MCAT. And with that, I've been snacking on delicious yet totally not nutritious things. When I study at home in California, my mom is constantly bringing me platters of fruit and veggies, so I've decided that that is where I'm going to begin the Good Habits From Home Project (GHFH Project).

So today, I banned the Gummy Tummies from my desk and replaced them with a plate of sliced apples and bananas. I've noticed that I'm more likely to eat an apple or an orange or a carrot when it's sliced into bite-size pieces and I can reach for it whenever I get bored. So I'm taking a cue from my mom (that's how she eats her food, and I always find myself eating off her plate) and taking the 30 seconds to slice my snacks in order to increase the probability of eating healthier.

My two study snack choices, both equally delicious.
Actually, I think the fruit wins this battle.
Switching gears a bit to the exercise front, prior to my one-week vacation and isolation (I left the house two times the whole time I was home...awesome!), I was biking three to four times a week. Although the scale hasn't budged much and I may not actually be losing any inches either (my measurements are so inconsistent that I won't believe I've lost much until whole inches come off), I have most definitely gotten much much faster.

At first, I had started dreading going on the bike because it was so hard to keep a 15.5 mph average and I worried that even biking was going to become a weight-loss chore. But now that I've noticed a massive improvement in my speed, the discomfort on the bike is fun again and I look forward to every ride. Even the women in my weekly biking group say I'm really speedy and I'm pretty sure they mean it, which is awesome to hear mostly because I'm the biggest girl out of them all by far (by like, 50 pounds I estimate).

Anywhos, the only bad part about going home was that I would have to "quit" biking for the week, and at first I started to feel nervous about that. I didn't want to lose all the fitness I had spent the last month building and I had even gotten a bit addicted to being on the bike, as evidenced by my need to bike every other day. But the guilt of sitting on my butt evaporated and the lazy part of me returned by the third day of being home. And that's scary, because it took me a good three weeks to crave exercise and only two to three days to go back to my lazy ways. Yikes!

Now that I'm back in Colorado, it's 35 degrees and snowing, when it had been 75 and sunny for the past three weeks. In true Colorado style, though, Wednesday and thereafter promise to bring more sunshine and warmth. So my return to biking will have to wait til then. I'm still a fair weather biker, after-all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's the little things

I weighed myself this morning and I'm down to 220.0, which is 4 pounds lost since 10 days ago and 2 pounds since yesterday. I definitely did a little fist-pump this morning, because I'm pretty sure this is actual weight-loss and not just fluctuations. I've bounced between 223.0 and 221.0 for the past week, but this 220.0 is for real. I never thought I'd be so happy about a pound or two!

The proof that there's a downward trend. It's not just in my head after-all!

That loss may be due to me biking the last two days, and also giving up booze for Lent. I'm still rehabbing my knee from surgery in December and am only supposed to increase my time on the bike by 10% with each outing. So yesterday I did 30 minutes and today was supposed to be 33, which didn't exactly happen. 33 minutes turned into 40 because my math was wrong and I took a scenic detour at the turn-around point. But I don't think it's a big deal because I most definitely spent a good 3 - 4 minutes cruising on the downhills without using my legs at all.

The days have been so nice that it's really hard not to be outside, which makes getting on the bike not all that difficult. Actually, that's a lie. Today was (and still is) equally as gorgeous as yesterday but I was most definitely going to bail because I just didn't feel like going. Then I checked the weather and it's supposed to be cold and snowy the next couple of days, so that was enough to knock the "Oh, I'll just go tomorrow" thoughts out of my head. Luckily, it's supposed to return to mid- to high-60s by the weekend. I'm stoked!

Now I just need to get my eating in order and this weight-loss thing will be a piece of cake.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The sedentary life

We finally replaced the battery in our bathroom scale that measures body fat % as well as weight. I stepped on it today and the numbers were shocking. Here is a comparison over the years, since I like to have some perspective.

2/12/10 2/28/11 2/28/12
Weight 212.8 204.2220.0
%Fat 53.5 50.057.2
Pounds of Fat 113.8 102.1127.0
Lean Mass 99.0 102.195.0

Wow, I've lost a lot of muscle and gained a lot of fat in the past year, most of it since last July. Yikes!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finally biking outside

I recently got back into biking, first on the treadmill at the gym as part of rehab after my knee surgery and have now headed onto the roads. Today I did my favorite 10-mile loop to get back into the swing of things, and man, am I out of shape!

Usually it's my lungs that burn after a hard push, but today my legs gave out well before I got even close to being winded. And that means that I am tremendously out of shape. Oops. Good thing it's getting consistently warm enough to head outside, because I am so over sitting on the couch.

And a little inspiration:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pizza galore!

Despite my not-really-New Year's resolutions (I'll post those up later) of cooking more at home, I still crave take-out food. So instead of going out and buying it, I've been recreating the same foods at home. And they really do taste better (for the most part) if you make them yourself. Yesterday was sushi, and today is pizza.

This time we bought pizza dough (I know, kind of cheating but it's raw and we have to cook it ourselves so it kind of works) but once I get more time and energy, I'll make the dough from scratch, and here's the perfect recipe from Smitten Kitchen:

Pizza, Updated
A slightly gussied-up version of my standby.

Yield: One small, thin-crust pizza. Can serve two with a big salad.

6 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
2 tablespoons white wine
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour

Cornmeal for sprinkling
Flour for dusting counter
1/2 pound torn-up buffalo mozzarella
Few leaves of torn-up basil

  1. Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if you need, but in my experience, this is almost never necessary.
  2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.
  3. If you’re like me and always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes left at the end of the night, wash the bowl you made the dough in, dry it and coat the inside with olive oil. Put the dough in, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.
  4. [Easiest way to tell if a dough has risen enough? Dip two fingers in flour, press them into the dough, and if the impression stays, it's good to go. If it pops back, let it go until it doesn't.]
  5. Meanwhile, make some sauce.
  6. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle it with cornmeal and put it in the oven. Otherwise, sprinkle a baking pan with the same.
  7. Once the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a floured counter and gently deflate the dough with the palm of your hands. Form it into a ball and let it rest on a floured spot with either plastic wrap over it (sprinkle the top of the dough with flour so it doesn’t stick) or an upended bowl. In 15 minutes, it is ready to roll out.
  8. Do so on the floured counter until pretty darn thin, then lift it onto a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet or pizza paddle. Add the sauce, torn-up mozzarella and slivers of fresh basil.
  9. Slide the pizza from the paddle to your preheated pizza stone, or just put the baking sheet in the oven as is.
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes, checking at 7. Slice and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ramping up the metabolism

I read this article called "How to get your metabolism moving" on CNN about little health tips to speed up that darn metabolism. For the most part, it's pretty straight-forward and stuff I already knew, but here are some bullet points to help myself remember the important parts:

  • A pound of muscle at rest burns three times as many calories as a pound of fat.
  • 45 minutes of any sweat-inducing exercise increases your resting metabolic rate for 14 hours after the workout (190 calories for a group in a study on average).
  • A sleepless night reduces your resting metabolic rate by about 5% several hours into the next day.
  • The morning after skipping sleep, you burn 20% fewer calories from diet-induced thermogenesis.
  • Low blood sugar levels cause the breakdown of tissue to turn it into glucose to feed the brain, which in essence leaves you with less muscle which slows down the metabolism.

And now onto the tips for eating differently:

  • Eat smaller meals with 100- to 200-calorie snacks in between to keep blood sugar levels even.
  • Have a small snack (peanut butter on a graham cracker) to get your metabolism working while you sleep.

Like I said, pretty straight-forward but worth putting into list form so it's easier to reference.

Friday, January 6, 2012

State of my weight, 2012 edition

I've been trying to lose weight since I can remember, but I've only been writing down my weight since 2004, my freshman year of college. Some years, there aren't many entries (college and my time abroad), but more recently I've been keeping track semi-regularly. Of course, when I'm actively trying to lose weight, there's a weigh-in every day. So that data is skewed.

Here is the history of my attempts at weight-loss since freshman year of college:

Period Minimum Maximum
College 166.0
Post-College 202.0
Colorado 206.5

And by the years:

Year Minimum Maximum
2004 167.0
2005 166.0
2006 -- --
2007 196.0
2008 202.0
2009 209.0
2010 209.5
2011 206.5

I can explain each one of those mins and maxes (especially 2010 and 2011). When I'm low, it's because I've upped my exercise (triathlon training in 2010 up until June, and swimming in early 2011, then rugby this spring) even if my eating and drinking habits stayed the same. The weight crept back up as soon as I began sitting on my butt for whatever reason (traumatized by June triathlon so nothing in late 2010, and wrist injury this summer thus no biking and too busy for rugby this fall).

If I exercise but don't change anything else about my life, I will lose weight.

As a parting shot, here's my weight during all these years in graphical form: