Saturday, May 24, 2014

Exercise "fail" on vacation

I had every intention of going for a run today before my cousin's wedding this afternoon. This is not to offset the bingefest of Thursday, as I said I wasn't going to do, but to make myself feel less flabby before another evening of indulgence.

Unfortunately, the run didn't happen. I decided sleep was more important and took the extra hour to snooze. Also, my legs are tired from yesterday's run, so today wouldn't have been very productive, fitness-wise.

I had planned on running hard enough to make my lungs hurt, which has been my goal lately at least once a week. The two previous runs I've done this week were kind of bullshit in that I ran to be outside and make use of the running things I schlepped all the way to Europe. My pace was awful.

I wasn't feeling it on Tuesday, so I ended up cutting the run short. Yesterday, my goal was to simply survive without puking since I was so hungover. Even though that run hurt my digestive system, it was well worth it because the day was uncharacteristically beautiful for Belfast. But, my lungs felt just fine so clearly I didn't push myself hard enough.

Today was going to be the lung-busting day to make up for the lackluster running of the week. But my quads are sore, I'm sleepy, and I don't have enough time to explore the parks around my aunt's house before we have to go get our hair did.

Instead, I'm relaxing on the couch, enjoying my kielbasa breakfast with my favorite milk, and preparing my body for the hurt that will be a Polish wedding.

Ideally, I'll do that run tomorrow. Depending on how this evening goes, it may have to be postponed until Monday. Either way, I'm totally cool with that. I'm on vacation after-all!

The cousin that's getting hitched.
Picture is from the window of our parents' childhood home in the Polish countryside (his dad, my mom).

Friday, May 23, 2014

I'm on vacation, dammit!

I've been traipsing through Europe for the past week and have 10 more days left of this trip. It's been incredibly fun but also really stressful for me food-wise.

With the exception of last night when I had at least 8 beers and lots of delicious food (I'm not exaggerating on the booze...I'm feeling it today), I've been fairly good about sticking to my "diet". I generally eat when I'm hungry, limit snacking, and eat normal-sized portions. All in all, I've been rather successful. Not perfect, by any means, but good enough, which should be enough to put my mind at ease.

Even with watching what I eat, I'm still paranoid that I'm gaining weight and getting fat again, which is my biggest fear now that I've somewhat loosened my calorie restrictions to closer resemble maintenance. When I weighed myself before I left, I was consistently at 150 pounds, having gained 3 lbs when I should've lost a pound or two per my calculations. Clearly I'm doing something wrong and I can't figure out what it is. All of this is not helping my mind relax.

I want to enjoy this vacation instead of constantly worrying about what I'm eating and how it'll affect my weight. I just can't let go of the diet mindset and the fear of gaining it all back, as well as the confusion of trying to figure out maintenance. It's stressing me out! On my vacation!

So although yesterday's binge-fest caused me to gain 0.5 pound (for real), I'm going to forget that night ever happened and not try to make up for it by depriving myself for the rest of my time here. It'll be business as usual; nothing less, nothing more.

Part of this decision is due to the fact that I'm currently in Poland visiting my family, where the refrigerator is stocked with kielbasa, my favorite milk brand of all time, and pierogi. I would be very grumpy if I had to restrict myself during this part of my trip.

I've already been feeling like I'm depriving myself excessively, and have been bummed that it's going to be like this forever. I don't want that feeling to dominate the rest of my time in delicious Poland so I'm not going to stress about what goes in my body.

This does not mean that I'm going to disregard all of my current eating habits. If I want kielbasa, I will eat kielbasa. Same goes for milk, cake, chocolate, etc. However, I'm not going to eat or drink myself to the point of being uncomfortably full so there will be some moderation. And if something decadent isn't melt-in-my-mouth delicious, then I will set it down and not finish it. There's no need to eat out of obligation. The empty calories just aren't worth.

Since I always need a goal, I will work on limiting my grazing, eating only when I'm sitting down. That seems much more manageable than being under a particular calorie limit or abstaining from biscuits in Ireland or kielbasa in Poland. I will also ask myself if the thing I'm eating is worth it. Often the answer will be no. If it is worth eating, then I will enjoy it, slowly, and guilt-free.

When I get back to Colorado, I will hop right back onto the bandwagon and work to lose these vacation pounds, along with the five lbs I wanted to lose before I went abroad.

I just have to keep telling myself that gaining a pound or two on vacation is not the end of the world. In fact, it's just a week or two of dedicated eating when I get home. If only my mind could accept that, then I'd be golden.

Now onto some vacation pictures.

Exploring Dublin by Viking ship. I now know where Colin Farrell lives. Roar!

By Viking ship, I mean re-painted WWII amphibious tank.

The dry dock where Titanic was built. It's HUGE.

Classic Belfast craic. "She was just fine when she left us!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Breakfast success!

I finally found something that works for me! It's the wonderfully creamy, delicious, protein-rich cottage cheese. Who would've thought that a "diet food" would be great for someone on a diet? Duh.

I've always loved cottage cheese and often eat it at my parents' house as a treat of sorts. I don't know why it took me so long to think to have it as a staple of my diet.

The standard breakfast has been the following:
  • 1/4 cut steel cut oats
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1.5 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Click to enlarge.

I mix the oats and frozen berries the night before, stick them in the fridge to defrost, then add peanut butter and microwave it all for 2 minutes in the morning. Lastly, I add the cottage cheese and ground flax seed. This satisfies nearly all of the requirements I set out in my original mission: high fiber, low calorie, warm, and dairy.

I've had this breakfast every day for the past two weeks and it's more than held me over until lunch. I'm full for the entire morning! It's awesome. I'm convinced the peanut butter has a lot to do with this feeling of satiety. Whenever I used to eat bananas covered in peanut butter as a quick breakfast I always stayed full for hours. So peanut butter, in addition to protein-rich cottage cheese, is the Holy Grail of breakfast for me.

All this being said, I'm slowly tiring of this combination, in that I'm not excited to eat breakfast in the morning. I noticed this change when I switched over to a new brand of frozen berries that aren't as sweet so that may have something to do with that. I'm still super full, but breakfast isn't as delicious as it used to be. So now is a good time to mix things up by adding different fruit and nut combinations.

I'll keep the first three ingredients (cottage cheese, oats, and flax seed) as the core recipe because they contain a lot of protein and fiber with relatively few calories (~200), leaving me lots of leeway to add other goodies.

Tomorrow I'll add sliced pineapple and cashews to the mix. The nutritional values will essentially stay the same so we'll see if I still find it filling. If not, then I'll know that the key to my fullness is peanut butter in the morning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Done-zo, I think

I think I'm at the point where I transition to maintenance. Although I haven't reached my goal weight yet (I'm 7 - 10 pounds away, depending on the day), I'm very happy with my current size. There's still a lot of flab I'd like to tone up, but overall I don't want to get skinnier.

Throughout this journey I've realized that I will always have fat on my body and losing more weight will not necessarily eliminate it from the places I want the fat gone. Instead, all of me will get smaller and the trouble spots such as my belly and upper arms will still have a disproportional amount of fat when compared to the rest of my body. To make those areas look good, I need to lift weights and do core exercises instead of simply cut calories to lose weight.

As a result of this maintenance decision, I've been a bit lax about my eating. I still count calories, but I allow myself more junk food in the form of chocolate and bread. I've generally eaten less than I've burned so I should still be losing weight, albeit a lot more slowly. But I haven't been losing, and instead have gained a few pounds, making me doubt the fact that I can actually maintain this weight.

I've had a lot of checkups at the doctor lately (nothing bad, just annual physicals and the like) and seeing 148 - 150 lbs on the scale has been incredibly scary. I know I'm not overweight, even though my BMI is in the overweight category. I simply have really muscular legs that bring up my weight disproportional to the volume of my body. Knowing that hasn't made seeing such a high number any easier.

This past month has been so confusing for me body image-wise. I've been trying to figure out what I want now that I'm so close to being done, and I haven't come up with a concrete decision. I don't want to get any smaller because then I'll be down to an XS in clothes. I want to be leaner, but I don't want to be tiny or emaciated. I'm trying to find a good balance between strong, lean, and healthy.

The conclusion that I've come to is that I want to lose ~5 more pounds, bringing me to 143 lbs as my new goal weight. I'm currently between sizes S-M up top and I want to comfortably fit into one size so buying stuff is easier. Mentally, I'm burned out from losing weight so 5 pounds seems totally doable even if it takes me more than 5 weeks to accomplish. I'll just continue with my better eating habits, increase my calories a bit so I don't feel deprived, and see where this takes me.