Sunday, December 22, 2013

Changing my goals

I'm having a very hard time losing these last 20-25 pounds and I've finally decided to stop putting so much pressure on myself about it. It's not very realistic to continue losing at the rate I was when I first started this process 65 pounds ago. My metabolism is significantly slower and the winter season is not conducive to me losing weight quickly.

So instead of striving to lose 1.5 pounds a week, which was a struggle even when I was bigger, I'm going to aim for 1.0 pound of weight loss per week. It'll take longer to get to my goal weight (I should reach it July 9th instead of May 21st) but the difference is only about six weeks and during that time I'll be more sane about everything.

In the meantime, I can focus on getting an adequate amount of exercise in 5 times a week instead of beating myself up for not working out enough to get to 2300 calories burned each day. The previous method is no longer sustainable and sustainability is what I'm going for in the long run.

For now, then, my goal is to eat 1,500 calories each day and burn at least 2,000 calories, which gives me a 500 calorie deficit daily and keeps me on track to lose 1 pound each week. If I burn more, then awesome, but I'm tired of getting down on myself because I should be so happy with my progress thus far.

My other goal is to minimize muscle loss since I'm not riding my bike nearly as much as I used to. I've lost about 1.5 pounds of lean muscle in the last six weeks so I've added leg workouts to my gym routine (I've started going to the gym regularly!) in order to minimize that loss. I really like the way my legs look right now and I don't want that to go away simply because the seasons have changed.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prom!

My old rugby team holds a banquet each winter for everyone involved in the club: women, men, old boys, and high school players. It's rather formal and turns into a huge party, so we've affectionately named it Prom.

For the first time since I started going about five years ago, I was actually excited to wear a dress this year. I've never liked dresses, even when I was a "normal" size so this was a rather big achievement for me. I'm still not entirely happy with my body and how I look in dresses, but I put all that aside and enjoyed the evening.

Here are some pictures (I'm in the turquoise):




Sunday, December 8, 2013

Vacation weight

It hasn't been a good week for me self-esteem-wise. After spending a week in Mexico, I weighed myself today and have gained 6 pounds since my last weigh-in two weeks ago. Some of this may still be water weight due to booze (I'm only four days from my last drink) and I may be getting my period soon so that may also be influencing my weigh-ins. But it's disheartening nonetheless.

In Mexico, I only drank alcohol on two occasions because I didn't want to consume too many empty calories. I was already eating too many chips and I really didn't need to add any more crap to my diet. I even went on two 3-mile runs because I was being too sedentary. So how the hell did I gain so much weight?!

I'm really hoping that most of this goes away because it's so disheartening to see such a big gain in such a short amount of time. It's like I can't let loose at all because all the weight will come back super quickly.

That thought is really scary because if I gain weight so easily, then maintenance will more resemble weight-loss than living a normal life, which is the opposite of what I was hoping for. I can't be so restrictive for the rest of my life.

I planned this weight-loss journey so it would be sustainable forever, but I was hoping that I'd be able to eat a bit more after I reached my goal weight. Like, increase my daily average from 1,500 to 1,800 calories. I'm not looking to binge eat here.

Sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case. Bummer.

On a happier note, here are a couple of pictures from vacation:
We went deep sea fishing in the rain. I really like how I look in this photo.

The view from our condo. It was glorious.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Burning enough calories

I've been struggling a lot with getting enough exercise these days to lose weight consistently. Because I'm down over 65 pounds, I don't burn nearly as many calories simply living as I used to even a couple of months ago. On a semi-lazy day, I barely get 1900 calories burned, as compared to 2,200 - 2,300 back in the day.*

As a result, I very rarely get to my target of 2,300 even with a moderate amount of exercise. It used to be so easy to reach my target and now I have to work really hard to get that daily burn, which I often don't get.**

With the winter already here, I can't go out on my bike nearly as regularly as I used to so I'm limited to getting my burn through running. Although I've gotten past the "I hate running" stage and am now at the point where I don't mind it, I still don't want to be running 5 - 6 times a week. So I need to find another exercise that's fun and burns some calories if I want to keep losing weight through the winter.

I originally wasn't going to get a ski pass because I haven't used it for the past couple of years. But snowboarding seems like the perfect winter exercise outlet that can also be incredibly fun. So instead of the regular all-season pass, I think I'm going to get a few 4-pack tickets, meaning four days at a variety of resorts. It ends up being a bit cheaper than a regular ski pass and also gives me the flexibility to go to several different resorts. And I know I won't get more than 8 - 12 days of skiing in this season so it works out well.

There, it's decided. I have a new wintertime exercise plan!

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* I know all this because I wear a BodyMedia Fit, which measures precisely how many calories I burn each minute of the day.

** I've also been eating more than my allotted 1,500 calories daily, which means my weight-loss has stalled. All of that is incredibly frustrating and I'm determined to change it. I also don't want to lose all the muscles I gained from biking so I think I'm going to have to start going to the gym more regularly. I hate the gym, but it gets the proper results.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Overwhelmed with figuring out a training plan

Every time I restart an activity, I get overwhelmed with wanting to do it perfectly. For example, if I'm going to ride my bike, I feel the need to get the right combination of intervals and long rides to increase both my endurance and my speed. I also have to balance that with a running training plan to increase my fitness for refereeing. All of that makes for a very full exercise calendar that I know I won't be able to stick with. So something has to go.

Most of this "stress" is due to me not wanting to lose any of the fitness and muscles I've worked so hard to gain. I love the way my quads and my calves look right now and I feel like I'm losing some of that muscle definition because I'm not doing the things I was doing to get that, namely biking up ridiculously steep mountains several times a week.

However, I know that with this weather, it's not feasible to keep up the training regimen I had in June or July. I'm lucky if I get one good biking day a week and I don't want to waste it on doing NCAR repeats, because they're not all that fun and I go really slowly. I'd rather be out on the open road enjoying the wind going through my hair and seeing the mountains in the background.

The solution to all this is to use the off-season to build up my running base for spring rugby season, and enjoy the few nice days we'll have to ride my bike on the open road. No stressing about doing the right type of runs or exercise, but instead focusing on getting outside and moving. Runners have nice quads too, right? So all won't be lost by dropping biking for a season.

I still need to lose a few pounds so until I'm super lean, I won't be at my peak running fitness anyways. I might as well enjoy my bike rides as respites from sprint workouts instead of stressing over getting them perfectly right.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Continuing on when I'm content with my size

I'm currently at a weight and size that I find somewhat acceptable. I'm just below my lowest weight in college, but I'm significantly thinner because I have more muscle than I did back then. I consistently fit into size 12 pants and small/medium t-shirts, so it's not a bad place to be.

As a result, it's been really hard to stay focused with my exercise and calorie counting. I could be happy the way I am right now, which is what makes continuing on so difficult. But when I was this weight in college, I thought I needed to lose about 20 pounds. So clearly I'm just content with my size when compared to what I was last year (225 lbs). But if I were to look at my weight objectively then I know I would still like to be thinner and leaner.

This doesn't mean that I've been stuffing my face with chocolate, ice cream, and beer (with the exception of Halloween). I've been pretty good about controlling my cravings. But I've consistently been eating 1,800+ calories each day, which is more than the 1,500 I strive for daily. Additionally, I haven't made much effort to keep a consistent exercise routine. All of that has resulted in me not losing any weight.

For the past couple of months when I've stalled in weight-loss, I would tell myself that "I'll get back on the wagon tomorrow." But tomorrow has been nearly every day and I haven't changed anything. It's so easy to get back to my old habits of putting this thing off for weeks and months at a time when I'm decently happy with the way I look. the fact that I've been getting lots of compliments about my size doesn't help with finding motivation to go on.

This one garnered comments such as, "Looking GOOOOOOOOD!! So Fit and trim - oh la la."
I don't think it's that spectacular (look at that left thigh!) but multiple people have commented on it so maybe I'm being too critical.

I need to put my foot down and get serious about this because there is no ideal time to lose weight. There will always be something that gets in the way, whether it's rugby season and thus lots of drinking on weekend nights or bike rides that end at a bar.

Luckily, there's a big formal banquet in about a month that provides good incentive to slim down and tone up. I already look fabulous in some of the dresses I've tried on but I want to look even better. Mostly, I've needed a reason to get my butt to the gym to tone up my arms because my bingo wings have got to go. Dresses at a formal banquet are the perfect incentive for that!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm back, and proud!

I've taken a bunch of time off from the blog and from the process of weight-loss. I've continued to count my calories and make sure I exercise a decent amount of time each week, but I haven't made a real effort in either department.

For example, I've drank too much beer, eaten too much pizza, and spent way too many nights on the couch instead of moving around outside. Part of me is disappointed with this lifestyle, but another part of me is relieved because I needed that time to rest. At this point, I don't think I've lost any weight since late July or so, but I also haven't gained any, which is a different kind of success.

This weekend, a rugby referee asked me how much weight I've lost since I last saw him in early July. I lied and said 15 pounds, because that's how much I should've lost during that time. His reply? "Well, it definitely looks it." So apparently I look better. Another ref said I was hot. That one took me by surprise because no one has said that to me. Ever. When I told him that, he was surprised as well. Lastly, my former rugby teammates kept complementing me over the weekend saying I looked really good and very skinny.

All of this is to say that although I don't think I've lost any weight lately, I've come a long way since last Thanksgiving. Instead of dwelling on the summer of half-assed weight-loss, I should be very proud of the journey and the results of my efforts.

While this weight has led to positive comments and a lot of confidence on my end, I'm not done yet! I still have some ways to go, and I've already begun making that happen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A bump in the road

Although I strive to lose 1.5 pounds per week on average, it doesn't always work out. In the last month, for example, I've lost absolutely no weight at all.

The last two weeks were spent on vacation and during that time I exercised very little and ate a lot. So I probably gained some weight. This is most likely because I spent nearly a week at a summer camp I used to work at and the meals and meal portions are very unpredictable there. So when they serve you something appetizing and you have the option to eat a larger portion, you go for it because you don't know when the next normal meal will be.

In the long run (over the course of an entire summer), this way of thinking works out because most meals are inadequate with regards to portion size. And by that I mean, we often get 1/2 of a scoop of mashed potatoes and half of a chicken breast, which is just not enough to hold me over for the day. But for some reason, I was able to get normal-sized portions during my time there and so I overate every single meal.

Prior to leaving on this vacation, I had been slacking with both exercise and food, and consequently I wasn't really losing any weight. I'm totally okay with this because I had been feeling burned out about the weight-loss plan for a while and needed a break from pushing myself. I also don't have a deadline by which I must lose all my weight, so pushing back the goal weight date isn't a big deal to me at all. It'll happen when it happens.

Since I got back on Monday, though, I've been more motivated to start losing weight again, which requires regular exercise and more strict food control than I've been doing lately. Mostly, I don't want to lose the muscle definition I've worked so hard to gain in the last few months, so I've got to get moving again.

I only have 35 more pounds to go! I have to keep repeating that with the exclamation point of excitement because that number seems so overwhelming and difficult. Even though I'm more than halfway there, 35 pounds is still a lot and the first 50 pounds were incredibly frustrating and difficult. So having to do more of that is scary.

Clearly I've found a method of weight-loss that works for me. I just have to stick with it and the weight will (hopefully) just fall off.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back in the saddle

I took the last month or so "off" from losing weight in that I only exercised when I felt like it instead of feeling the need to get 5-6 days of exercise each week. I still averaged about 4 days of working out during that time so it's not too bad. I was just sick of everything and didn't feel like pushing myself too hard.

During that time, I got pretty burned out about road biking and since that's been my most frequent form of exercise, it was clear I needed to continue with it otherwise I would stop losing weight. But I didn't want to ride anymore! A conundrum, I tell you.

So I took a couple of weeks off from the bike. And when I finally went back to it, I loved every minute in the saddle. I eventually realized that all the rides I had been doing were either balls-to-the-wall or insanely uphill. There were no "fun" rides where I could simply enjoy being on the road on my bike. Riding became a burden.

My first ride back was along the flats near my house at whatever pace I wanted at the time and it was awesome. I eventually returned to riding hills on Wednesdays with a group I'd been riding all summer. And even though we rode straight uphill for 6 miles, I had a blast, as evidenced by my genuine smile in the picture below.

I'm in the middle in the green.

During my break from riding, I did a bit of running to keep somewhat in shape. I went for a run with The Roommie and we averaged a 9:30 minute/mile pace for 3 minute run/1 minute walk intervals.* I didn't ever dread having to run once the walking part ended, which is a HUGE improvement in my run endurance and state of mind. I think I may actually enjoy running now. Eww.

I was also having some knee issues after an unfortunate game of kickball which resulted in cutting back on my exercise. Everything turned out to be fine and my doctor said I can exercise through the pain without messing my knee up any further so I'm back to full force.

In between the MRI scans and doctor's visits, when the prognosis for my knee wasn't clear, I stressed. I was worried that I'd have to either suffer through a season of rugby on a bum knee and thus postpone the hypothetical surgery until November, or I'd have to sit out the season altogether and have the surgery now. Since I've recently begun getting respect from the refs, I didn't want to disappear for three months and lose all that so I was stressing out a lot. I also couldn't really turn down a trip they had offered me to Minnesota since I don't know when that'll come up again. But all is well now.

As they say, "Everything works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out, then it's not the end."

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*I still don't like running for long periods of time, so when I do go for "long" runs I turn them into intervals. Instead of running straight for 3 miles, I run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute. This way, I have something to look forward to during the three minutes of torture.

Losing weight in the face

People have been commenting a lot on my weight-loss lately. While I really appreciate them noticing and congratulating me on my hard work, I get super uncomfortable with all the attention. All my life I've just wanted to be normal and blend in with everyone else, so this extra attention is not helping with that.

The comments have all been very nice, though, and I really appreciate my friends saying such great things to me. Also, most people have said that they notice my weight-loss most in my face, which is weird because I didn't think I had that much to lose there. But when I look at pictures more closely, I see the difference.

For example, I do look big in the photo on the left. You don't need to see the rest of me to know that I'm way overweight. But my face looks a lot thinner in the photo on the right (I'm in the red). So I guess my friends have a point about my face getting skinnier.

213 pounds
183 pounds
In the end, I have to keep telling myself that compliments are awesome to receive and that I should relish this time when everyone's noticing my hard work. So I smile every time someone says something nice and thank them for being so kind.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mad at my road bike

I've been doing a lot of miles on my road bike lately and it's gotten to the point where I'm just sick of it. I think it's because all of my rides have been hard, either physically or mentally. I either go really far, which pushes my endurance, or pressure myself to go fast, which hurts my legs and lungs. For some reason I can't just go on a pleasant road ride and enjoy the scenery.

The last straw was discovering that I'd gotten a slow-leaking flat and having to change the tire yet again. I took off the wheel one day, changed the flat another, and had my roommate pump it up the third day (I got really mad at the pump and almost threw it out). My bike is still sitting upside down in the hallway with its wheel leaning against it. So it's taken the better part of five days to fix a flat. I have no desire to even touch the damn thing.

But since I can't sit on my butt and expect to lose weight, I've found other activities I enjoy. For example, I think I'm starting to like hiking. That's really weird because I used to adamantly refuse to go with my friends. Lately, though, it's been really fun. The weather has been unbearably hot (I work from home and don't have A/C), so it's nice to get out in the hills to cool off a little bit.

One of the trails up the street from my house is a ridiculously hard climb that's more of a workout than a hike. I've been doing that at least once a week and the last time I really pushed myself to the point of exhaustion. I've been struggling with that lately so it was good to see that I really can make myself breathe hard without hurting my soul.

On the top of Mount Sanitas with a few friends last week (I'm in the visor).
The smile on my face is genuine, as is the boob sweat.

And since I can't give up biking entirely, I've begun mountain biking again. I've joined a few groups on Meetup since I don't have reliable buddies to hit the trails with and I don't feel comfortable being in the woods by myself with a bike I don't yet know how to fix. So far, I've done two rides in as many days and it's been incredible. The people are super supportive and fun! I've also been learning some real skills, which is good because so far I've just been holding on for dear life.

My Sunday mountain biking excursion.

A long ride (for me) Sunday and running + biking yesterday (an accidental two-a-day) have completely exhausted my legs, so I'm taking today off because I need to. Then back to the grind on Wednesday. And I really do mean "grind" because a group I ride with does hill repeats on Wednesdays. I may do just one repeat and head for a beer early because I'm still mad at my road bike.

I just wish riding would get easier. But unfortunately the following saying really does hold true: "It doesn't get any easier. You just go faster."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wedding getaway

A week at home and a wedding weekend resulted in some awesome relaxation but possibly a little bit of weight gain. I just cannot resist the blue cheese that my mom keeps in the fridge!

But I had an awesome time and I'm totally okay with how I did food-wise that weekend. Here are some photos:

Wedding day SCUBA diving with the groom.
My bridesmaid walk.
The kiss.

I haven't been able to get an accurate weight since I've been back because I've been drinking beer frequently and alcohol just throws everything off. Although I should be abstaining more than I currently am, I've been limiting myself to two beers for every drinking occasion so I've still been hitting my calorie deficit goals each day.

Right now I'm going by the 3-days post drinking weigh-ins because somehow I can't seem to stay away from alcohol for more than that. My weight is slowly going down, just not as much as they should be, which makes me think that I really did gain a pound while away.

Oh well. It was really relaxing and that's exactly what I needed. And in the grand scheme of things, one pound is really not that bad.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Having trouble pushing myself to go faster

I've noticed that I don't push myself on the bike as much as I used to. By that I mean that I don't go balls-to-the-wall and exhaust myself anymore. I do come home tired and my legs do hurt at the end of a ride, but I'm rarely gasping for breath these days and that's something I need to change.

Mostly, I want to get severely winded at least once a week so I can improve my speed. Right now I think most of the speed increases are due to my weight-loss and not necessarily any aerobic fitness I may have gained. On the other hand, my calves and quads are starting to show some real definition so perhaps there is some progress there after-all. Regardless, I need to push myself more and I'm struggling with that.

Part of this may be due to the amount of exercise I've been getting lately. My quads get so tired from the long and fast rides that they crap out before my lungs have a chance to catch on fire. Or maybe I'm just less tolerant of exercise-induced muscle pain. Either one of those is a valid explanation for me not wanting to push myself as hard.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Moderation, the key to my success thus far

This post is a follow-up to the note at the end of my last post. It became too long so I'm graduating it to its own thingamabobber. Pardon the length. I got a bit carried away.

Having been on some sort of weight-loss journey for the past ten years or so, or at least having thought about losing weight and feeling bad about not succeeding for that long, I've often been asked what changed to make this time so successful. After-all, I've lost nearly 40 pounds in six months without hating my life (for the most part). Something must've happened.

But, I honestly can't think of one trigger that led to this. Like many times beforehand, I made an effort to lose weight in the hopes that it would actually work this time. I made myself count calories, which I've done every other time I "started losing weight". I promised myself I'd ride my bike a few times a week, which is my exercise du jour. And I committed to completing the Couch to 10k program, like I've done at the start of nearly every rugby season for the past four years. The only difference this time around was that a month after committing to lose weight yet again, I was still sticking with my plan and wanting to continue. That's pretty much the only thing that changed.

Even though in previous attempts, I would see the scale change favorably, I would often quit after about three weeks of the new plan. Apparently that's the time it takes to develop new habits and I just couldn't make it past that threshold. I enjoyed seeing the numbers drop but the process for making it happen was so frustrating and hard that it didn't seem worth it to continue. So I "took a break" which really meant I quit and by the time I recommitted to losing weight again, I had lost all the fitness I had previously gained and had to start over again.

After so many cycles of this, I decided to try something different, which isn't different in and of itself because I resolved to change something about my plan each time I restarted it. But realizing that I can't change everything all at once (or even more than one thing) otherwise I get stressed out/become overwhelmed, prompted me to re-evaluate my approach to losing weight and resolve to make no more than one sudden change in my life.

Instead, I incorporated one thing at a time and only when I was ready for it. For example, I began with counting my calories. That's it. There were no limits on what I could and couldn't eat. I just had to write it all down. That eventually led to eating less junk because I saw how many calories I was wasting on crap and still feeling hungry.

I didn't eliminate sweets entirely because I need sugar and other carbohydrates to function, but I definitely limited myself to a couple of chocolate squares instead of the entire chocolate bar, for example. I would only eat chips, etc, while I was still craving them so if mid-snack I wasn't getting the "high" that caused me to reach for them, I would stop eating. The same went for ice cream and snacky foods.

Most impressively, I significantly cut down on my beer drinking, but this is a very recent development. To give you a time frame, I started calorie counting in November; it is now nearly June. So it took me the better part of six months of this journey to get to the point where I can say "No" to beer. Like I said, I only do things I'm ready for.

Anywhos, I still drink beer and I still love it. But after I put an "Alcohol" category in my food tracker and realized how many potential pounds I was drinking away, I realized it just wasn't worth it, which led to cutting out the afternoon beer. I'm still pretty heavy so it takes a lot of beer to get me drunk, meaning that a beer with dinner doesn't do much for me besides put me 200 calories in the hole. So now I either have a beer-drinking night where I go all out and have as much as I want guilt-free, or I abstain entirely. There is no middle ground...yet at least. Hopefully some day I'll get to the point where I get tipsy off 1-2 beers and then this will all change, but for now this way is working.

The same thinking went into my approach to exercise. I half-heartedly began Couch to 10k when I re-began counting calories in November but I didn't stick with it long. And that was entirely fine. I ran when I felt like I needed to but it wasn't something I felt guilty about skipping. After-all, it wasn't the thing I was focused on changing at the time. It wasn't until mid-January (~2 months into this) that I made myself go running, rain or snow or shine.

I hated nearly every one of the initial runs because it was so hard to keep a 11:00 min/mile pace for 2 minutes straight. But no matter how much it sucked, I still did it because that was the new change I had decided on and I needed to stick with it. Early into this I made a deal with myself that I could bitch and moan all I wanted about running only if I actually went. The Roommie, who sometimes accompanied me on these runs, suggested I should try being positive because that might actually help with wanting to go, but the negativity was therapeutic. It was a way to let go of my frustrations not only with my lack of fitness but also with letting myself get to this level of obesity. That was my way of looking forward to the torture that is running.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that I finally tried moderation and it worked. Once I broke down my bad behaviors into manageable steps, I was able to get used to them one at a time and actually make some progress. This is not to say it has all been easy because I've struggled a lot along the way, most notably getting super impatient recently with the rate of my loss. But I'm still losing and not relapsing, and that's all that matters to me right now.

This post is already way too long, but I need to give credit where credit is due. The following things have had the greatest impact on my success thus far. They created the perfect storm that allowed me to see results without wanting to quit due to feeling overwhelmed and deprived.

1. MyFitness Pal:
It is soooooooooooo much better than all the other food tracking programs that preceded it. Not only is their food database really big but the phone app allows you to scan the barcode of whatever you're eating into your food diary. I've calorie counted many times before but have always quit because I would get obsessed with entering all the nutritional info for every product I consumed that wasn't in the database. Now I just scan it with my phone and it pops right up.

Also, because it's the most popular calorie tracker on the web, there are random things like bulk cereals from my grocery store that I normally would've had to enter myself. I can also copy my meals from different days very easily and find recipes I've entered. MFP makes calorie counting so painless that it's actually not a chore anymore.

2. Refereeing rugby:
I don't think I would've committed to running nearly as much as I currently am if it wasn't for my sudden interest in reffing. I finally found the time to do this (I had just finished going back to school full-time with a part-time job on the side last year) and I was convinced that I wasn't getting assignments because of my lack of fitness. Also, it's fairly obvious if the ref isn't in the right spot during a game as compared to being one of 30 players on the pitch. I mean, I'm wearing bright yellow and I'm kind of in charge.

So I started Couch to 10k for the 7th or 8th time, and stuck with it even though I hit some very low points around Week 3 and 4. I have continued running solely because I don't want to go have to go through that mental torture again. I ended up stopping at Week 5 because in a game I don't run longer than that distance (~3-4 miles) and substituted hill runs instead. But when I'm away from my bike I do 3' jog/1' walk intervals as a way to keep up my endurance. So I still go back to it sometimes.

3. Invisalign:
Yes, dental care is on my "Acknowledgements" page. In addition to the bingo arms, the other thing that I truly hated about myself was my crooked teeth. I never had braces growing up so I figured it was okay to splurge on these in my late-20s. While I've only had them on since February and I was successful in losing weight before then (I started around Thanksgiving), Invisalign has definitely kept me from snacking on things as much as I normally would, and thus has been instrumental in my getting thinner.

Brushing and flossing my teeth after putting anything in my mouth is annoying so I tend to save my junky snacks for mealtimes, which makes me choose them wisely, savor them once I do eat them, and helps with developing self-control. I hope I can keep this up when the "jaws", as I affectionately call them, come off for good in October. That might be the biggest struggle.

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While I still have a long ways to go before I reach my goal weight (nearly 50 pounds, which is incredibly overwhelming for me), as long as I continue doing what I'm doing I should get there eventually. I may have to tweak some things--such as leading a less sedentary lifestyle--but overall I think I have developed pretty good habits that should get me through the rest of my weight-loss and hopefully lead to successful maintenance.

If this all stops working, though, I'll be sure to analyze it in great detail here, and I will surely kick myself in the butt for declaring a victory before I even made it halfway.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Taking a mini-break

These past couple of days I have not been feeling the exercise and weight-loss thing. In fact, I'm kind of exhausted by it. So I've taken a break.

I've only worked out once this week (Wednesday) after the 40+ mile ride on Saturday, and I have no intention of doing anything until tomorrow, and that's only because I have to referee* this weekend, which involves lots of running.

I also have been craving stuff I don't normally eat anymore, like Mamba candy, delicious bread, and tater tots. So I allowed myself to sneak some into my diet this week, and it was delicious. I didn't need to stuff myself with any of those things (I ate 1/3 of the Mambas, 1/2 of the bagel, and didn't finish the tater tots because they had freezer burn) but I definitely satisfied the cravings...while still being under or just slightly over my calorie goal.

So although I haven't had the calorie deficits this week that I strive to achieve, I've held myself to a decent amount of calories while still eating what I crave. And that's a win in my book.

It's this balance that I try to accomplish every day, one between being satisfied, not feeling deprived, and having calorie deficits. Some days I fail, which is why I'm only losing 1.5 pounds per week when most days I'm on track to lose 2+ pounds. And other days I just can't do it anymore and need a break.

These breaks have led to utter failure in the past when I've given up entirely on weight-loss because I was frustrated with the process. Usually this occurred at the 3-week mark, so I'm kind of impressed that it's taken this long (6 months) to get to that point. But I've lost so much and worked so hard that I can't give up entirely on this process. I can take mini-breaks to regain my sanity, but I can't just quit altogether.

Luckily, I have a week-long vacation coming up beginning on Tuesday and I'm going to stick by my vacation rules from last time, since they seemed to work so well:
  1. avoid tracking calories because it will drive me crazy, and
  2. not gain any weight.

This gives me a break from obsessing about precisely how many fries I had with dinner or exactly how many Wheat Thins I snacked on in the afternoon. But it's still not the ideal situation.

Ideally, I'd like to see the day when I can eat whatever I want without consequences or feeling guilty, but I'm not sure that's going to happen anytime soon, or ever for that matter. I think I will always feel guilty about binging on fried mac and cheese bites or going on a three-day bender. But maybe someday when I've reached my goal weight I'll be able to do all that and then spend the rest of the week burning it off instead of depriving myself and stressing about numbers, as is the case right now.

---
*Every time I think about refereeing, I get really angry. I'm going to be doing the out-of-bounds part of reffing, which any joe schmo can do, so getting this assignment means nothing besides the fact that I was available. 

I'm incredibly frustrated that I haven't gotten much experience this season even though I was available to referee nearly every time there was a game. Guys that took the class when I did are at a much higher level than I am simply because they've done three times as many games as I have. And all of that is because I'm female.

And now I have to hang out with them all weekend and be resentful, even though they didn't do anything wrong. They just remind me of the unfairness of everything.

One of the guys that's in charge of identifying up-and-coming-referees was very impressed by my reffing at a tournament and said he'd put in a good word for me with the scheduler, who's a misogynistic asshole. But that's for women's college games, which had ended by that point, and I'm sure he'll forget about that comment by the fall when the season starts up again.

I will be sure to remind him, though, because I deserve to get those games. If I don't, I'm afraid I'm going to be stuck with all the bullshit high school girls' matches, also simply because I'm a girl. Hopefully they'll give me some higher-level women's matches as well, but there's not banking on that.

Wow, this is a lot longer than I intended it, mostly because I'm pretty pissed off about the situation. It doesn't help that the only advice the other woman in the referee society has given me is to be patient because there's nothing else I can do about it. Unfortunately, patience is not a virtue I possess. So instead, I stress about it.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

These bingo wings have got to go

For as long as I can remember I've been embarrassed by my upper arms. For example, when I was at summer camp in high school, I was convinced the people laughing during pickup volleyball games were making fun of my flabby arms. Most likely they were just joking about our incompetence at volleyball, but I was convinced they were laughing at me.

As you can tell, this part of my body has haunted me for years and even though I'm starting to look better in clothes as a result of my weight-loss, my arms are still a point of major self-consciousness.

Exhibit A.
As a result, I've become determined to get rid of said bingo wings, or at least minimize them as much as my genetics allow. It's my next project on the list of ways to improve my lifestyle and body*.

Speaking of this list, so far I've accomplished the following:
  • Minimized mindless snacking.
    Now, I savor the junk food that goes into my body instead of stuffing it down my throat as fast as it'll go. I still get "the fix" but with fewer calories.
  • Made exercise a near-daily necessity.
    I used to have to force myself to exercise once a week. These days the normal is to go out for a ride or a run and the abnormal is to sit and do nothing. Getting into better shape definitely helps with that. It's not nearly as painful (mentally) as it used to be. The act of working out still hurts but it's a good kind of hurt. As they say, "It doesn't get any easier; you just go faster."
  • Became used to eating smaller portions.
    By now, I can't eat nearly as much as I used to be able to. I get full faster and am satisfied for longer. It's pretty awesome.
  • Started eating leftovers...and liking it.
    This makes it easier to eat out less because that delicious food I cooked the night before is still waiting for me in the fridge. I still get grossed out by certain things and won't eat anything that's sat for more than a couple of days, so there is more progress to be made. But I'm getting there.

So next is the Bingo Wings Project. I'll elaborate more on the plan of attack when I get one and/or stick with it for more than a week. This should be fun.

---
*With the most recent attempt at losing weight (i.e. this one) I've gone with the method of moderation. There have been no sudden changes in my life, but instead I've incorporated one thing at a time and only when I'm ready for it. That's where the list comes into play. Now that I've fixed the major things that make the greatest difference in weight-loss (diet and exercise), I'm ready to start tweaking the little things like my arms.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Beans, beans the magical fruit

I've become obsessed with beans recently. Like, I'll cook up and eat a pound of beans each week. Mostly, it's a result of this fantastic recipe from the New York Times that combines black beans with corn tortillas. I ate this meal every day for a good 2 - 3 weeks straight, always craving more. No joke.

I think part of this of the reason for this obsession was because the black bean puree looked like chocolate, and I love chocolate, but also because it reminded me of all the corn tortillas I ate on my vacation to Mexico. Mmm...delicious food associations...

Anywhos, since my enfrijoladas binge, I've branched out to other types of beans. It helps that I've found a way to make delicious beans from scratch in about an hour and a half. Here's how (copied verbatim from The Paupered Chef):
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound beans
  • 1/2 tablespoons salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F. 
  2. Dump the beans into a large dutch oven or pot with tight fitting lid.  Pick out any broken pieces. Add the salt.  Top with enough water to cover the beans by an inch and a half.  Bring pot to a boil.
  3. Cover the pot, and set in the oven.  Cook for 75 minutes. 
  4. About 45 minutes in, check on the beans.  If they look too dry add some boiling water to the pot.
  5. After 75 minutes they should be done.

After a weekend full of booze, crappy cupcakes, and fried food, I'm really craving a salad and/or something unprocessed and mostly uncooked. That's where the beans come into play. With knowing how to make good beans quickly, I've been adding them to everything and they're a perfect filling ingredient in a salad.

(On a side note, it's weird to see how quickly my body has gotten used to "good" food and somewhat requires it when I haven't eaten well for a few days.)

So yesterday I made a white bean and chicken salad and today's dinner is a Greek-style salad with spaghetti squash. I used to object to eating spaghetti squash on principle (see one of the last paragraphs in this post) because I saw it as diet food. But The Roommie made a very delicious and simple spaghetti squash salad last week and I really liked the texture of it so I'm giving it another shot tonight.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mixing things up

Most of my exercise has been biking a few times a week with at least one day of hill running. The other day, I had no desire to do either of those things but I really needed (yes, needed) to do something physical.

There are plenty of hiking trails around here, but I abhor hiking...even more so than running, and you know how much I dislike running. But there's a trail just down the street from my house that's straight uphill and is pretty much a mile-long stair workout that just so happens to be in the woods.

A section of the very beginning of the trail.

So the Roommie and I headed out to do that one Friday afternoon and it was glorious. It was a perfect evening to be out there and it kicked my butt. Perfect temperature, beautiful views, and good mindset on my end. I'm really glad we went!

On a side note, although I was more exhausted going uphill than coming down (duh!) and felt like I got more out of the trip fitness-wise going up, I burned more calories on the downhill part*. In hindsight it makes sense because I was going much faster going down and the uphill part was more of a weight-lifting workout almost. And you don't really burn that many calories lifting weights.

Overall, it was interesting to see that I don't need to be suffering from exertion to get my calorie targets for the day. A simple, albeit long, "hike" was enough to get me there.

---
*I have a calorie-counter (BodyMedia Fit) that I've been wearing for the past month. I'll write up a post about it sometime in the near future. The major problem I find with it is that it's not very accurate for cycling, which is my main source of calorie burning these days. But other than that, it's pretty awesome. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Crash and burn, and beer

Remember that ride I was going to do yesterday? The 42-miler, 10 of which was straight uphill? Well, I didn't just ride it. I led the 16+ mph group as well!

For the most part, it was fun. On the flats and downhills, we were cruising at 18+ mph. It was awesome! But the long slog uphill royally sucked. It sucked so much that I had to stop multiple times just to talk myself into continuing on. Had I not been with a group, I would've turned around during those stops no question. But I kind of had to meet them at the top so I kept going.

The road wasn't even all that steep. It only had a 3.3% grade, which is significantly more mellow overall than the mountain I did a couple of weeks ago. I actually enjoyed that mountain and the other hills I've been going up lately. But this uphill just wasn't for me.

I think it's because there was absolutely no change in scenery the entire way. We were on this winding canyon road that followed a creek so no matter how far you'd gone, everything looked the same. There was no visual reward for suffering for so long and the pine trees and rocks got boring very quickly.

Every switchback looked exactly like this.

As did every straight-away. Notice the lack of views.
At least climbing mountains leads to better views the higher you go.

Anywhos, the climb itself wasn't bad because there were many places where the road evened out and I was able to get some speed and relief from my burning quads. I was still getting passed by everyone, though. Except on the downhill, of course.

Lastly, I think the main reason for my grumpiness was lack of food. I had eaten a fairly light breakfast that didn't adequately prepare me for this distance and vertical gain. So on the ride uphill, I ate nearly every energy bar I had brought with me...some 500 calories. I was still hungry after all that but at least I wasn't hating my life anymore, and eventually I made it to the top, where I continued to eat my last bar.

Our group that made it to the top.
I'm in the bright green in the front, finishing up my last bar to give me the energy to get home.

After I got home, I lied down on the couch to muster some energy to shower. I didn't get up for about an hour and a half. I was that tired.

Eventually the shower happened and I headed downtown to a music/arts/food festival my town holds every Memorial Day, at which the rugby team serves beer at the beer tent. And that means we get as much free beer and food as we want. Dangerous!

So I indulged in 6 pints of deliciousness and 2 servings of soba noodles over the course of the day and still managed to have a calorie deficit for the day. I didn't really need that last soba bowl, but they are so delicious and can only be found at these kinds of festivals so I just HAD to do it. Had I abstained, I would've hit my calorie deficit goal (I'm at -300 right now, and shoot for -750 every day). But it's soooo delicious that it's incredibly difficult to pass up.

Although I gave myself a free weekend to eat and drink whatever I wanted, after seeing that I'd consumed over 3000 calories in one afternoon, I think I may have to hold back a bit. Like, no beer today or something. After-all I drank 1400 calories in alcohol yesterday. That's how much I usually eat in one day! Yikes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Going big this weekend

I bike with a women's group sometimes and every weekend they offer 3 rides of varying lengths: short, medium, and long. The distance for each length varies each week and progressively increases in each category as the season goes on.

When I'm not busy with rugby, I sign up to lead a ride usually of medium length because that's about the distance I'm at on my weekday rides. I don't like going too long before I'm ready because then I just hate my life and stay away from the bike altogether for long periods of time, as was the case with an Olympic distance triathlon I did a few years ago.

Anywhos, this weekend the medium ride is going somewhere I've been way too many times in the past couple of weeks and I'm kind of sick of that route. The long ride, on the other hand, is going 43 miles (I haven't ridden that far in over a year) AND uphill.

By "uphill" I don't mean any ol' hill, but rather the ride that I've been afraid to do since I first began biking around here three years ago. I'll go up a mountain, but for some reason I'm too afraid to ride to Jamestown.

At the same time, my jaunt up Lookout Mountain a couple of weeks ago has given me some courage with regards to road bike climbing so I'm pretty confident I will be able to make it up there with minimal psyche scarring. After all, the average grade is only 3.2% for those 6.5 miles. It's not too bad.

Sometimes, though, I get embarrassed by my big butt trying to make it up these hills, and I imagine other cyclists thinking that I don't belong there and that it's no wonder that I'm going so slowly. In those cases I have to remind myself that during such a long and brutal climb, everyone is simply focusing on their own suffering and no one pays attention to anything besides the burning of their lungs and legs.

That self-centered thinking makes it all better. It's also the only instance where I applaud egotism, mostly because it helps me. Also, I'm going with a bunch of women who are all very supportive, which helps matters as well.

So on Saturday, I ride this:



I'm choosing to ignore the 6 miles of uphill leading up to the real climb. Those are just pesky details that should be disregarded for the sake of my sanity.

Also, I will be going with the "fast" group (16+ mph) because although I will slow down significantly on the uphill (like 6.5 mph slow), I'm pretty sure I can keep a 16 mph pace during the flats on the way out there, and everything after the climb is downhill for 17 miles all the way home...my specialty!

Sometimes gravity really does work to my advantage.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Needing exercise

Right now is a very stressful time for me life- and future-wise and I've noticed that the days when I'm generally crabby are usually stretches of time I haven't worked out. I've figured out that if I haven't done anything active in three straight days, then my mood goes considerably downhill.

So I've been biking and generally exercising a lot more lately to prevent those feelings of unhappiness. I have a very sedentary job (and lifestyle) so on days when I don't do much of anything physically, I get antsy and feel the need to move around. A few months ago I would have been content with sitting around all day, but not anymore. It's like a crave exercise, which is a weird feeling for me.

Part of this need to exercise is due to not wanting to lose all the fitness I've worked so hard to get. While I don't mind being unfit on a bike (I don't like it by any means, but it's not entirely terrible), I absolutely hate being out of shape when running.

I've mentioned before that most of the activities I like to do require some sort of run fitness, so I can't afford to become out of shape because I will just have to start over. And beginning to run after some time off is excruciatingly painful for me, mostly mentally and less so physically. So that fear of having to start over is enough to get me out the door to run a dreaded hill at least once a week.

The dreaded hill and stairs that are my Tuesday nemesis.

Although I talk so much smack about this hill, there is a positive side to running it weekly: I don't have to do distance runs to get in better shape. I can get the torture that is running out of the way quickly. So far I've been running the stairs 5 times then the hill 5 times, and it takes me about 20 minutes to finish the whole workout. Short and sweet, just the way I like it.

I've been doing this for the past three months and I've noticed that it's becoming, dare I say, easy. So last week I gave myself a cutoff time for the stairs (20 seconds) and another one for the hill (25 seconds) and did each one until I couldn't make the cutoff time anymore. I wanted to see by how much I should increase my workouts since I feel like I can go longer now. I made it to 7 up the stairs, and 7 up the hill. So that's what I'm going to do for the next couple of weeks and then do this "test" again.

I may not be going faster than before (which is another problem I'll discuss in a future post), but I can definitely do more of these consistently.

That's another NSV (Non-Scale Victory) I'm very proud of!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kicking butt in bicycling

Time for a positive post! I've been pretty down lately due to my weight-loss and state of my life, but there is some good that I haven't shared yet.

I road biked up a mountain last week! This mountain to be exact:

That's never happened before. I know I've been getting thinner and thus faster (I'm consistently keeping a 17+ mph pace over 20+ miles, which I haven't been able to do before), but I didn't think I could make it up an honest-to-goodness mountain without passing out.

I used to be so scared of anything that was steep and continued uphill for more than a mile, but somehow I talked myself into it and I made it to the top! Hooooooolla!

Here's the elevation profile:

In case you can't see the scale because the type is super small, that's 6.5 miles of climbing over 1700 vertical feet which comes out to an average grade of 5.5%. And I made it to the top without falling over because I was going too slowly! (By the way, I can go as slow as 2.5 mph before that happens. How do I know? Because it's happened going up a small "mountain".) In fact, I kept a respectable 6.4 mph average. Not fast by any means, but fast for my big butt going up a MOUNTAIN.

And since I was able to do this and didn't suffer too much (as in, I wanted to do it again in the future) I looked into mountains closer to where I live. I found one that's about the same difficulty and distance. I'm still pretty terrified because big girls like me aren't supposed to make it up mountains like that, but since I did it once I think I can do it again.

Scratch that. I WILL do it again.

---
ETA: I make the "road biked up a mountain" distinction here because I have mountain biked up a mountain before. Several times, in fact. However, I had to stop numerous times during those rides and oftentimes I ended up walking uphill part of the trail. So this is definitely a new accomplishment.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ride the Rockies Training Plan, Harder Edition

I tend to follow the "official" Ride the Rockies Training Plan even though I'm not doing the ride, but I found this one on Outside Magazine's website.

It's a harder alternative that includes intervals instead of just saying what distances to ride. It's also more intense in that you're riding nearly every day as compared to 3-5 days a week on the other plan.

I might incorporate some of these intervals into my rides, but I definitely won't be following this plan strictly.

Rockies Training

Still frustrated with the scale

I've been kind of stressed out about my slow rate of weight-loss again. I'm still averaging 1-1.5 pounds weekly, which isn't all that much when I think about what other people at my weight are losing. The only good thing about this slow loss is that at least it's consistent...for now.

I haven't changed much since my last post on this subject about a month ago. I'm still worried that since I'm losing so little now when I'm still about 50 pounds overweight, it's going to slow down to nothing as I approach my goal. I've still kept my calorie intake at 1,500 a day because it's something I want to do long-term and is completely manageable for me. Some days I eat fewer calories and other days I eat (or more accurately, drink...in beer) more calories, but it averages out to about 1,500 for the week.

But I have become more and more aware that most of my day is spent on the couch either working or surfing the internet. While I make sure to get some vigorous exercise in my life at least 5 days a week, I live a very sedentary life. And that may be the difference in my slow loss as compared to that of others, so it's definitely something I can work on.

With it being warm and dry and me living in a smallish town, I should be biking and walking places instead of driving to the store or to work. I'm not sure how much good that will do because I don't really leave my house much these days. This is not because I'm depressed or due to other equally sad reasons, but because my life is currently on hold and thus I don't really do much during the day.

By that I mean that I work part-time with one other person so I don't have to be in the office practically ever and since most of my friends have real jobs, I end up working from home a lot instead of doing things. Like I said, it's a very sedentary lifestyle.

Anywhos, in an effort to not get bummed about my slow progress, I used to tell myself that I wouldn't get hung up on the numbers on the scale and go by other indicators of weight-loss instead, but even that's not helping. I'm just losing weight veeeeeeeeeeeery slowly and it's absolutely infuriating because it really sucks to feel deprived all the time (yes, I'm at that point) and not get much out of.

I work so hard to limit my calorie intake by not snacking on crap food all the time, staying away from beer, and making sure I get my exercise. But I just don't seem to get as much return as I put into this journey. Some days I want to say "Screw this!" and eat everything I've been craving without limit, but then I remind myself that I am still losing weight, albeit slowly, so there's no need to go backwards and regain all that I've worked so hard to lose. And that's what gets me through to the next day. And then the cycle continues.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Vacation dieting

I was on vacation the past two weeks and thus away from my routine. My plan for the trip was to:
  1. avoid tracking my calories because it would drive me crazy, and
  2. not gain any weight.

Instead, I was going to focus on eating normal-sized portions and limiting my alcohol intake to "special occasions". And by that I mean, not drinking heavily every day. I was on vacation after-all and vacation means boozing.

I got back Sunday night and the verdict is...I'm down 1 pound!

That's honestly shocking because I only exercised once last week, drank a BUNCH of margaritas, ate double portions of fish tacos, and spent the rest of the time sitting under a palapa on the beach. So I didn't move much and consumed a lot, which is not conducive to not gaining weight.

Granted, the first week of vacation was very exercise-heavy (2 hill runs and a 3-mile run in California, and then 12-miles of running during Tough Mudder in Vegas) so maybe that evened things out a bit. But I'm still kind of shocked by the loss.

The Roommie and I next to my second favorite palapa, a day after finishing Tough Mudder in Las Vegas

When I weighed myself out of curiosity on Sunday night after getting home, I was up to 201.0 lbs, which is 7 pounds more than my weight when I left. I was really bummed about that because that's an insane amount of poundage to gain in 14 days. And I didn't think I had strayed from my plan all that much. All the anxiety I've been having about not being able to maintain a normal calorie intake to stay at a lower weight came roaring back. It was disconcerting.

Monday morning had me at ~196 and today I weighed in at 193.5 lbs. I discounted Monday's weigh-in because I was only three days removed from drinking (my weight is all over the place within three days of alcohol) so the "official" post-vacation weight remains at 193.5 lbs.

We'll see if this downward trend continues once I weigh-in tomorrow but regardless of what the scale shows, I'm really proud of myself for eating normally enough while on vacation without feeling deprived at all. Actually, I could've had a few more beers on the beach but I stayed away because a) I was getting sick and didn't need to impede my immune system's work by consuming alcohol, and b) I get super dehydrated after even one drink these days (I'm getting old) and didn't want to spend my vacation hungover on top of already being sick.

In short, it appears that living a life without needing to calorie count all the time is totally doable for me. There are still things I need to tweak and learn about my body before I can go into legitimate maintenance mode (and lose about 50 more pounds) but it's reassuring to know that I can count on myself to know when to stop eating.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Frustrations with my weight-loss, or lack thereof

I've been getting frustrated with my progress lately since the scale hasn't moved all that much in the last week. And by "all that much", I mean, at all. I've lost a measly four pounds in March, which doesn't seem like enough for all the effort I've been putting into this.

So I decided to take the plunge and get another BodyMedia Fit, because my old one (previously called a GoWear Fit) broke. I don't plan on wearing it on my arm like it's technically recommended because I hate answering questions about what it is. So I'm going to put it in my bra instead, which is just about as accurate as the armband as I've concluded from my not-so-scientific experiments with my old GWF (now BMF).

The only real thing that's been holding me back from getting another one of these is that it's not accurate for bike riding, which is my main source of exercise. So all in all, it won't give me a good number for most of my exercise because I've been biking a lot lately.

But what it is good for is my daily calorie expenditure. So anything I burn on top of just living my life is bonus in my book even if it is a bit inaccurate.

Since my weight-loss has been relatively slow (1.0 - 1.5 lbs/week) I've been worrying that once I drop down even more weight I will stop losing because my metabolism will slow down with the lower weight. And I really can't go below the 1500 calories I'm currently eating without going insane. With this BMF, I won't have to guess all the time about how much I can eat to still lose weight because it will (hypothetically) tell me how many calories I've burned in any given day. And then I'll be able to adjust my food intake accordingly.

Also, I can't stay on a tight calorie budget all the time because I'm starting to feel deprived, which is something I've been trying to avoid with this weight-loss effort. For example, yesterday my roommate had a panini with salami and cheese and all I wanted was to have some as well. But my calorie budget didn't allow for it. I had had a few too many beers on Monday so in order to keep the week's calories under 1500 daily, I couldn't allow myself another cheat day.

But I had also refereed three games on Monday and in doing so I had sprinted/jogged/walked 4.5 miles. So some of those calories had been burned off, I just didn't know how many. Having a BMF would've given me that information and would've allowed me to see if I could hypothetically eat some of the calories I had burned and still be under my deficit totals.

I've been so strict lately with my calories because I haven't been losing any weight and it's incredibly frustrating. So I'm trying to stick with the allotted 1500 to see if that will make me lose the weight I expect and it's been really hard and restricting. I don't want that feeling and I also don't want to be guessing all the time about what I should be eating and how much I should be exercising. So this takes all the guesswork out and allows me to live my life pseudo-normally. At least that's the hope.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Balancing weight-loss through cycling with the need for run fitness

I've been getting overwhelmed with the amount of fitness I need to do for the various activities I participate in and I can't seem to find a good way to consolidate workouts. For example, for refereeing, I need to work on my run endurance and speed but I much prefer to ride my bike than to run. And I also lose a lot more weight when I bike than when I run.

I've noticed that when I referee, I run out of gas towards the end of the game so I definitely need to work on that. So far I've been sticking to one run hill workout a week and biking the rest of the days, with a game of reffing thrown in there somewhere. It seems to be working well enough because I am faster and have more endurance than when I first began refereeing this winter/spring. But I have a long ways to go before I'm "match fit" as they call it.

To develop that match fitness, I need to run more and I've been thinking about adding another hill day and/or a long run/interval day. But I can't work out hard for more than 5-6 days a week because my body needs the rest so these runs cut down my number of biking days, which would suck because I really love to bike.

With that in mind, my biggest question is if cycling will have any sort of benefit for running, whether it's an increase in endurance or speed. Either one works for me. I haven't been able to find a straight answer so I guess I'm just going to have to experiment and see what happens.

Here is someone's post on a biking forum about his running and cycling:
And depending upon whether your running speed is limited by muscle-strength/efficiency or aerobic-capacity, cycling will help you in different ways.

For me, my legs never get tired on runs less than 10-miles at TT speeds (I played soccer for 15-years). However, getting faster running speed requires working on my aerobic system. Doing hill climbs and tempo workouts on the bike definitely helped my running speeds. :)

Also, I find that I can lose weight faster by riding my bike than by running. About 6-8lbs/month with cycling vs. 4-5 lbs/month with running. Lower weight helps in both running and cycling.

And another person's opinion:
I credit cycling with vastly improving my baserunning ability in softball, I went from someone who had to hit the ball well into the outfield to get on base to someone who can out run a slightly misplayed 5-3 infield hit. Made all the difference in bringing my average up to something close to respectable.

I'm not saying that training for sprinting wouldn't have acomplished the same thing, but it sure wouldn't have been as much fun.

I guess all this comes down to the question of, do I want to get fit for refereeing at the expense of losing weight? With running, I do lose weight but at a much slower pace than if I was biking, as the above poster mentioned. So I guess I have to decide what I want to focus on right now.

I think currently my priority is weight-loss and to do that I need to bike more. It seems that biking a lot will improve my aerobic fitness and in a roundabout way also give me more running endurance because of less weight on my body. Maybe once I reach my goal weight I'll focus more on running? We'll see.

So I think the solution is to do one run hill workout a week and one long run/interval training a week as well. If I have a game to referee then that can count as the long run/interval training day. The other three to four days of exercise will be biking, with hopefully one hill workout on that as well. I've found that I can't do more than 6 days of exercise in a week because my body can't handle it so that's going to be the breakdown for now.

This schedule looks good for now and the weeks when I follow this plan tend to make me happiest. I end up pretty tired, but it's manageable and actually somewhat enjoyable. Other variations either leave me drained or unhappy, neither of which is sustainable in the long run. So I'll stick with this for now and amend as I need.

By the way, I hate how I have to amend everything about my workout and food plans. I wish I could just stick to one thing that works instead of having to change it up all the time with changes in my weight and fitness level.

That's another reason I can't wait to hit maintenance in 50+ pounds...I won't have to worry about balancing weight-loss with fitness and will instead be able to work on the latter exclusively. Then again, by that point I'll want to add some significant strength training and figuring out how to do that most effectively will be another can of worms to sift through!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Keeping on my run fitness

Since I didn't have a rugby game assigned this weekend, I didn't do any running during the week (no fire under my ass/fear of God incentive). Except someone has fallen ill and I asked for the game to be reassigned to me. So tomorrow I need to be fit. Oops.

This teaches me to put off running only for weeks during which I have game assignments. Turns out I should be working on my run fitness weekly because you never know if something will come up.

The good thing is that I got a bike ride in on Monday and yesterday, did TRX on Tuesday (from which I'm still feeling the soreness), and I may do another ride today. So I haven't been sitting on my ass entirely all week. Just a little bit.

I was going to do some hill work today but that may have to be postponed until Sunday so I don't have dead legs during tomorrow's game. I think the alternative will be a regular somewhat hilly ride instead of the 3-mile hill repeats I had originally planned.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sexism in rugby

I've been playing rugby for nearly 10 years now and I've always known that women weren't respected by the men as equals, but it never directly affected me until I began refereeing. And now that I blatantly see that the men are getting more assignments than me simply because I'm female, I'm getting really pissed off.

I love refereeing. I'm not that good at it and it stresses me out sometimes, but it's really fun. Part of me believes that the scheduler won't give me more assignments because I'm new and I suck. But the only way to get better is to do more games, which I can't do if I'm not assigned to them. It's kind of like the chicken or the egg scenario. Can't do one without the other. It really sucks.

Mostly, I'm mad because having game assignments has pushed me to go running more than I normally would. It put the fear of God into me with regards to my run fitness and not having any games for a couple of weeks makes me more likely to sit around and get fat. And I need that motivation to get moving otherwise my weight-loss will stall, and I don't want that.

I know that I need to lose weight for myself and not rely on being scared into it for refereeing. I think I'm also being discriminated against because of my weight and perceived lack of fitness so the thinner I get the better my chances of getting assignments. So that's some more incentive to work out.

In that respect, it's getting much warmer outside and, more importantly, drier (meaning no snowfall hopefully) so I'll get on my bike a lot more. Biking is usually how I lose the most weight so not having the need to run all the time gives me the time to get more rides in, which is good. And much more enjoyable since I like to bike much more than I like to run. Like, WAY more.

Considering that, I don't always want to go for a bike ride, but I should be exercising 5-6 times a week. So for those times when my bike seems unfun which doesn't happen often, I can go on a run instead. I stopped doing Couch to 10k after week 5 because it was getting boring and really awful mentally, but I've started running hills and intervals, which give me more bang for my buck. I get exhausted quickly but it only lasts for 30 minutes or so and supposedly those types of runs are the best way to increase speed, which is what I really need to work on, more so than endurance, for reffing.

Back to refereeing complaints, I've noticed that I get nearly all the girls' game assignments so hopefully when the high school girls season rolls around in the fall I'll get more stuff. And this scheduler is much better than the last one in that he has been giving me some games when the last guy didn't give me any. So I guess there's improvement.

And I have been getting a game a week, even though most of my mine have been snowed out (others' haven't because it's dependent on the fields and not the weather) so I haven't actually done all that many games. Most other people get 2-3 games a week, which I think might be too much for me and I'd get burned out. So I'm somewhat happy to be getting one a week but I also wish I was able to do them and they would stop getting canceled. Ay ay ay!

There's only one other girl/woman in the referee society and she's really good so she gets lots of assignments. I asked her how I can get more matches and she said just to be patient. There's nothing else I can do (I've already asked the scheduler for more matches) so I should just wait it out and do well with what I'm given. She said that she gets lots of games despite the scheduler being sexist because other people notice her talent and recognize her skill level. I've gotten really good reviews from both of my evaluators on the two games I've done (yeah, the season is almost over and I've only done TWO games...bullshit!). So I'm hoping that this gets noticed by someone else and they put pressure on the scheduler to give me more matches. That's my pipe dream.

My other main concern is that there's a developmental committee that identifies up-and-coming refs and gives them additional guidance. It's like a fast-track for awesomeness and I'd like to get on it. But if I can't get matches and I can't get respect from one of the main guys in the society then how the hell am I supposed to get noticed by these other old white dudes?! It's so incredibly frustrating.

I think the moral of this whiny post is to focus on my weight-loss and get to an acceptable/normal weight so the referee society has no reason to discriminate against me...except for my gender, but there's nothing I can do about that. At least that's what I'll keep telling myself so the anger subsides a little bit.

Lastly, here's a photo of me in action from my last game:



Saturday, March 23, 2013

Making my loss visual

Since I can't see my weight-loss when I look in the mirror and other people have been commenting on my "slim" figure, I figured I should browse through the progress photos I've been taking throughout my journey.

And while it's not incredibly obvious even in the pictures that I've lost that much, if you look closely you can see that my butt and thighs are more toned and that the back fat is slowly receding.

Here is a montage of those photos (NSFW in that I'm only wearing underwear and a bra, but all important bits are covered):

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Single" digits, finally!

This graph says it all:


I hit the "single" digits, so to say, on March 16, 2013, which is nearly six years to the day after I last was in the 100s. And I'm still losing. Woohoo!

Friday, March 15, 2013

"Your face looks thinner. Have you lost weight?"

Comments such as the post title have been coming at me in the last week from people in entirely different social circles. So they clearly have all noticed it on their own and not discussed it with each other. It's really weird to hear because 1) they've all said something in the last week and not before, and 2) I haven't noticed any visual evidence of my weight-loss.

Some of my clothes fit better (read, they're no longer like spandex) but for the most part I think my t-shirts and jeans feel the exact same way now as they did a month ago. This is probably because both of those articles of clothing are made of stretchy material while my khakis and jackets are not, but I really don't feel any smaller in my clothes nor do I see myself as thinner when I look in the mirror.

I think part of the "denial" about my weight-loss is due to the fact that I never really saw myself as all that fat. I mean, I know I have fat but for some reason I believe that it's a somewhat thin layer covering a lean, tall, mass of muscle, none of which is true in real life. In fact, I'm obese, 5'4", and have nearly 50% body fat. But I seem to think otherwise, which is why I've let myself get to this weight in the first place. I'm really good at ignoring reality.

Because my perception of my size is so warped, every time I see a picture of myself I am surprised by my weight. Practically every time I see something posted on Facebook or look through pictures I have taken during a trip, I am taken aback by how obese I really am. Each picture is honestly a shock to me and since I'm not looking at them all the time and there aren't many mirrors in my life (at least not from the chest down) it is really easy to see myself as what I'd like to be instead of what I really am.

In that respect, I really only have two perceptions of people's body sizes: fat and thin. Since I've always thought of myself as fat for as long as I can remember (albeit, normal fat -- see two paragraphs below), I associate my current size with the "fat" I remember from high school, when I weighed a whopping 155 pounds. Yeah, I wasn't fat at all and I wish I was that weight now, but in high school for a 5'4" girl, 155 is way bigger than "normal". And since I haven't gotten skinny since that time, in my mind I'm still in the same fat category of my youth, which is big but not all that big. So you see where my current disconnect with reality comes from.

To go even farther back with my issues of fatness, in third grade there were three kids in my class who were constantly teased for being fat. I wasn't one of those three and I never understood why not. I felt lucky for escaping the ridicule and sometimes even joined in on the taunts (not my brightest moment) but I just couldn't comprehend why they were getting flak for their weight while I was considered normal. Where was the line drawn? Because in my mind, anyone thicker than a bean pole was fat. And I sure wasn't a bean pole. Not even close.

It's taken a long time for me to realize that people can have fat on them and not be "fat". And I still catch myself thinking that being a bean pole is the only way to go. It's a distinction that I continue to struggle with and I don't think it's going to be fixed any time soon. I still notice thicker normal-sized people and don't think of them as "normal" per se, even though they're a size 10-12. For some reason I focus on their large hips or non-sculpted arms and see "fat" instead of their natural, perfectly fine body.

Part of this is due to being bombarded by society's unrealistic perception of beauty, part is due to living in a ridiculously thin town where The Roommie (a size 10) feels fat, and part is due to constantly being told to lose weight by my family from an early age. Regardless of the reasons behind my thinking, I just can't get past the thought that anyone who isn't lean, isn't normal-sized.

It's this mindset that makes me worry that I'll never be content with my weight no matter how thin I eventually become. I will always have fat on me because those are the genes I have been dealt and I do actually love having hips. I also don't strive to be athletically thin because I don't have the will-power or desire to commit to that eating and training plan.

So unless I change my way of thinking, I will always be unhappy about my body. And after all the work I will have hypothetically put into losing 85+ pounds, I want to have a body I am at least somewhat satisfied with. It's probably not going to be conventionally beautiful, but I'm hoping it'll be normal.

To go back to what started this post and to end on a positive note, I guess I kind of knew that I was losing weight because the number on my scale has been going down for some time (it's stubbornly stuck between 201.0 and 200.5 lb right now...so frustrating!). But I didn't see the loss on my body and thus I didn't believe it. After-all, I still have a lot of fat on my arms, my thighs, and my stomach, and taking a few pounds off doesn't really move me to the "thin" category, which is where the true distinction lies. Right now, I don't believe the loss makes that much of a difference in my appearance. That is, until my friends and colleagues spoke up.

One comment from The Roommie wasn't even enough to budge my way of thinking. It had to come from several different directions and had to be off-hand, not me soliciting comments but them initiating the discussion. Only after I had heard this several times did I even consider that going down one belt hole was an option for keeping my pants situated on my hips. I then realized that I can actually go down two or even three more and still be comfortable.

When cleaning my room, I started trying on the clothes I had bought "for when I lose weight"...and I started fitting into some of them! I'm currently consistently wearing size 16 pants and shorts, which a huge surprise because I was a solid 18 when I started this, sometimes even needing a 20.

So although I may not notice any weight-loss when I look in the mirror or glance through pictures, other people are noticing and my clothes don't lie. I'm using that outside input as a way to retrain my brain to a more normal way of thinking so hopefully somewhere down the line I will be able to see these changes on my own.

I may have a long way to go, but at least I'm getting somewhere right now.