Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting Back on the Healthy Train

Well, after a few days of cleaning up my eating I must say that I am feeling awesome. I've been eating lots of natural foods - steamed veggies, rice puff cereal (where the only ingredient is...rice! can you believe it?), beans and fruit. Honestly, my digestive system has always done me well, but the past week when I wasn't at my top I noticed I had an upset stomach for a few days. After one day of eating really well, the upsetness was gone and everything seems to be working how it should be.

I started down a path of super-healthy eating when I lost a lot of weight a few years ago. I've mentioned it in other posts, but not gone into a tonne of detail. Before I moved to Vancouver, and even at first when I got out here, I really tried to not buy processed foods. Anything that came from a can or a box was usually not chosen. I hadn't read anything about these real food revolutions at the time, I just noticed my body worked better when I made certain choices. And I also learned during this time that I loved to cook. Making my own soup and crackers was an inexpensive way to make my food budget stretch up to a week. Baking and cooking things that I traditionally bought pre-made, like veggie burgers, pizza and pancakes not only gave me the confidence of knowing what was going into my body, but also gave me the pride of learning to make all of these things, and making them in ways that actually taste really good.

One of the down-sides of cooking while living out here in Vancouver comes from the fact that I have known since almost the time that I got here that I would be heading back to Ontario once I finished school. Vancouver is too far from home and I miss so much about my home community of Windsor, Ontario. Because I've known that, I've been really reluctant to buy much in the way of kitchen gadgets. When we got here it was just our luck that a guy had moved out and wasn't able to fit his box of kitchen supplies in his car, so he gave them to the building managers, who then sold them to us. This box, which contained spatulas, a whisk, a couple of graters and some other serving utensils has been used as the bulk of our kitchen tools over the past year and a half. I've supplemented it with some things - a can opener, corkscrew and garlic press, but for the most part we haven't bought much. We also own 2 pots, one large and one small. The large pot was very inexpensive and, as a result, not very good. I also accidentally blew up the lid, so it is lidless. We have 3 frying pans, which is more than sufficient, and some bake wear that is usually enough. But because of my love of cooking I want fancier things. I want an awesome stock pot that I can make soups and chilis in. I want a food processor. I want a strainer. Can you believe I don't own a strainer?

Anyway, one of the biggest things I'm looking forward to when I get home is having a bigger kitchen and being able to buy all of the kitchen gadgets that my heart desires. Do you have kitchen gadgets that you can't live without?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weigh-In, a Pattern and Dress Sizes

Today was my weigh in, and I knew it wasn't going to be in my favour. Luckily I didn't gain, but I maintained. I think it's a little odd that I haven't gained once so far. Like how bad was I living for the past year that I managed to gain 56 pounds when in the past 4 months I haven't gained anything. I know it was bad. Never walking anywhere, eating out tonnes and not thinking about what I was eating, and snacking a lot more often and unhealthily than I needed to. Glad that's over with.

Anyway, my weight this week was the exact same as last week. At some point during the week I made this observation while looking at my weights over this journey - for the past 3 months (not counting January) I've had one week of weight loss, two weeks of maintaining, and one week of weight loss. So although I was able to attribute my maintains for the most part to poorer eating habits, I'm going to go ahead and guess that it has something to do with TOM. And next month, I'm going to try to nip it in the bud. I definitely noticed that I had a lot of cravings this week, so that's probably where that comes from.

I'm looking forward to a stellar week next week. I now have 10 days until my brother's wedding on May 1. I plan to eat only whole, natural foods starting on Friday (I have leftover soup at work for tomorrow that I don't want to waste, and I still have to do some grocery shopping) so that I can make sure I'm not getting too much sodium. It's amazing how much sodium almost every processed food has in it. Anyway, I'm planning to spend a lot of time on Friday putting together meals for the week because I'm working extra next week to make up for the 2 weeks I'll have mostly off. I fly home on Friday April 30, and get in at about 10PM.

I also don't have a dress yet, so I'm going shopping on Saturday morning for one. This is quite the risky business. I was looking online at dress sizes, and since I know my measurements, I was hoping that I could figure out what size of dress I should try on. Well I found all different sites with all different sizes. My waist is really the clincher; while it has gotten more proportionate, it is still the outlier in terms of the ratio to my chest and hips. So I look at the size that I should be in based on my waist. And some say size 18 while others say size 12. What's that all about? Well I looked a little bit deeper into it, and found out about vanity sizing. This term refers to sizes actually getting bigger over time so that people don't feel so big (e.g. even though I should be wearing a size 16 based on my waist size, now size 12s will fit me). I don't know about you guys, but this doesn't actually make me feel any better. So I am no longer deciding how healthy/fit I am based on the size of clothes that I fit into, because it means nothing. Instead, when I go shopping for my dress, I will try on dresses in whatever size fits me best, and not be ashamed to buy a size 16 if that's what looks best. Trying to fit myself into smaller clothes does nothing for me. I will wear what looks good on me and be happy about it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yummy Lentil Sloppy Joes

I am a huge fan of sloppy joes, but I haven't had them since I stopped eating meat. I usually like recipes that don't include veggie-meat products, and so I haven't made them with tvp or veggie ground. When I was home at Christmas my mom made me sloppy joes with eggplant, but I figured there should probably be a pretty good recipe with beans. I did some searching and put together a recipe based on a few that I found online. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, so I'll have to take one next time I make them (they were good, so I'm sure I'll make them again soon).

Alright, so the recipe is:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
7 medium mushrooms
1.5 cup lentils
1 cup ketchup
1tbsp mustard
1 tbsp relish
Whole Wheat rolls

Sautee the onion and mushrooms in the olive oil over medium heat. Once they are lightly browned, add the lentils (I used canned but you could also use dried). Stir in the ketchup, mustard and relish and cook until cooked (about 5 minutes). Serve open faced over a whole wheat roll. Makes 4 servings. Calories per serving = 470.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today

Thomas Jefferson said that, and he was totally right. I thought about this today when I caught myself in an old bad habit. The past 3 days I haven't been stellar with my plan. I have been eating pretty well all day, but then in the evening going to get a snack like I used to do. I realized this in the bakery by my house this afternoon while I was running some errands and stopped to pick up something sweet for after dinner. I kind of saw it as a last goodbye because I was planning to get back on track tomorrow. Yikes! That is something the old me would have done, and it definitely does not get me any closer to my goal. I walked right out of the store and home.

After dinner, I was looking for a recipe that was healthy but would satiate my sweet tooth. Instead of baking anything I remembered that I had some frozen cranberries. I sprinkled a little sugar on them and they totally hit the spot, and at only 30 calories a way better choice than the butter tart that I was eyeing at the bakery (it was probably at least 500 was huge!). I don't know why I went back into that 'take a day off before the "real" weight loss commitment starts' mode, but I'm sure glad I got out of it. I've ridden that merry-go-round way too many times.

I used to work with at-risk youth and we taught them to ask themselves whether a decision would get them more or less of what they want. I guess it's a good tool for me to use too, because even though butter tarts are tempting, living a healthy lifestyle definitely gets me more of what I want.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Keep Pushing Forward

Well, I was definitely not expecting what I saw on the scale today. I got on, and it read the exact same as it did last week. 185. In the past, when I've had weeks of no loss, I've been able to attribute it to something - drinking alcohol, not eating as well as I can, or not exercising enough. This week, though, I really expected a loss. I worked out 6 of 7 days, a few times doing the Shred and a long bike ride or walk. I didn't drink one ounce of alcohol, which hasn't happened in a long time, and I ate really well for the whole week. I was pretty frustrated when I saw that number, but I'm trying to not let it get me down. All of that working out and making healthy choices wasn't for naught. It is contributing to my healthy lifestyle and even if it doesn't show up on the scale I feel better, and I can tell that my muscles are getting more defined.

I'll end this post with a NSV - I only lost half an inch between my chest, waist and hips this week, but it was on my waist. I looked up my waist-to-hip ratio, which is an indicator for health and risk of metabolic disease, and mine is currently .85. I've read that a healthy waist-to-hip ratio for women is below .8, so I'm getting closer every week. When I started this journey, my waist-to-hip ratio was .98, so I've made a vast improvement in the past 14 weeks, and I can definitely feel good about that.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

30 Day Shred, Level One

Well, today is the last day of level one of the 30 day shred for me. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do it all 10 days in a row, which was a bit of a disappointment for me but, nevertheless, after today I will have completed 10 workouts in level 1 and will be graduating to level 2, for better or for worse.

I thought I'd post my thoughts/experiences about the shred at the end of every level. I've been using 2 pound weights...or more specifically, balls (they were on sale). These have been my companions over the last couple of weeks:

Sorry for the super dark photo, but you get the idea. I found that 2 pounds was pretty perfect. The shoulder exercises in the first circuit were hard at first with 2 pounds, but they got easier as the days went on. The flys in the third circuit were really easy right from the get-go, so heavier weights for that exercise would have been good. My bf has 5lb weights, and he had to put them down part way through the aforementioned shoulder exercises every time. Neither of us can do the full push-ups yet, and I'm a little unsure if I ever will be able to.

I've definitely noticed a big difference in my arms. After the first workout my abs and legs were really sore, but I wasn't sore at all after subsequent workouts. Don't get me wrong, it's hard stuff. I sweat a lot every time, I grunted, I begged Jillian to stop, but at the end it was totally worth it. My bf says he doesn't feel like he's getting as good of a workout as he would at the gym, but I think that's because he's 'phoning it in' (haha). I found that even though I was getting stronger, she presents you with enough modifications to keep it challenging every time.

My biggest criticism is that the stretching section leaves a little to be desired. I don't feel like my flexibility is increasing each time as a direct result of that section. I might start throwing some yoga back in a few days a week to supplement this workout, but at less than 30 minutes, you still have time to add other stuff in. I have to say I was a bit disappointed when I watched level 2 (I like to know what's coming up...and man does it look hard!) and she includes the exact same stretches as she did in level 1.

So, that's my experience with the first 10 days of the 30 Day Shred. Overall, I'm pretty happy that I hopped on this bandwagon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Great Outdoors

I did a lot of cycling this weekend. It was really sunny every day (I even have a little colour on my cheeks to prove it). I didn't ride bikes a lot growing up. I'm super clumsy, and my family can tell you a hundred stories about me riding into fire pits while camping, into parked cars, and falling down hills. It wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I really became even remotely comfortable on a bike (read: I rode on the road for the first time [but only when there was no traffic]). When I started dating my bf I found out that he had a love for cycling, so I started doing some longer rides with him. Last spring I bought a great Trek Hybrid bike, and let me tell you, it's a major improvement from the supercycles I'd been riding up till now.

Anyway, yesterday the bf and I headed over to a place called Deep Cove in North Vancouver. This means we had to cross the Lions Gate Bridge from Vancouver into North Vancouver. Here's me at the top of the bridge in full cycle regalia:

Yeah, this is right before a super scary downhill coming down the bridge. I look tough there but you should have seen me about 2 minutes later. Luckily there's an off-road bike lane, but I still ride my brakes the whole time. Going down hill freaks me out big time. Once in North Van we took some sketchy routes before finding a good path that took us all the way into Deep Cove. I had heard this place was beautiful, and I heard right. Here I am taking a break:

Overall, it was a pretty sweet 50 kilometer ride and I would definitely do it again. Next weekend we have bigger hills to climb, though, and I'll try to get some more shots of that too. I also got my bike hooked up with some snazzy fenders and a rack on Friday, which you can see in the photos. I was super sore when I got home last night, but surprisingly this morning I felt great!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Self Motivation

I read a post by Barbara on Thursday about the struggles that come with adopting a healthy lifestyle, and whether those would ever go away. I had too much to say to just post a comment. It brought me back to the last time that I lost this weight. When I got into a 'normal' weight for the first time in my adult (and maybe even entire) life, everything felt different. I found that I was working out in ways that didn't require motivation. I was on a baseball team and a volleyball team. When I went out with friends we often went for a walk, or went to the batting cages or to a driving range. I took up golf. I chose my bicycle when I was going out - to work, to friend's houses, and I walked to a lot of places too. Around this time I actually took my car off the road because I realized that everywhere I went was within active transportation distance. My mantra was that everything was within walking distance, some places just took longer than others. I bought a pair of great hiking boots and kept this up in the winter, too. As long as you're dressed properly the snow is just another challenge.

In terms of eating healthy, I surprised myself by really embracing a healthy diet (diet as in the foods I chose, not some kind of weight loss strategy). I loved the way my body felt when I fueled it with good food like fruits and veggies, whole grains and lean proteins. That weighed down feeling that you get when you eat too much or too many processed foods? That didn't fit in well with my new lifestyle. I needed to be light on my feet so that I could run and jump and just move properly. The choices I made were no longer related to weight loss, but I recognized my body as a machine; and like any machine, the better you take care of it, the better it works.

Now, you may be wondering how I ended up 3 years later writing a weight loss blog. Well, as strong as all of those feelings were, and even though they resulted in me keeping the weight off at home, when the game changed I managed to forget my motivation. I moved away from my hometown. I moved in with someone who had very different eating habits from me. I went to school full time and worked three jobs. I found it hard to find time to work out, to make my own healthy meals on a really tight budget, and I didn't have the social connections to keep up the sports and active lifestyle that I had developed. They say it takes 8 weeks to form a habit. I think after 2 months of living a more sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle, that became habitual too. So now I'm on my way back, and because I've done this before, I am not starting from scratch. I have some skills that I can dust off and build on. And I am trying to learn how to adapt to the different situations that I am faced with, so that even when the game changes, I can still make healthy choices, and as time goes on those healthy choices are becoming the easier ones again.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

...Must Come Down!

I was really excited for my weigh in this week. I feel like I've finally made some great strides in the right direction. So this morning I got to my weigh in, and my scale looked back at me and said...185! I haven't had a 3 pound weight loss since my 3rd week on this journey. So I did a little dance:

(No, I didn't go to a bar at 9 in the morning...this was a while back but an appropriate picture).

So then I took my measurements, and I lost half an inch everywhere, which means that I finally lost some inches on my hips after weeks of not doing so. Yay!

Super excited for April. I think this is my month. For that reason I decided to join Tammy's Summer Challenge (thanks to Keelie). So my goal is to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month. It's lofty, but we'll see what happens!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Riding my Stallion

The whole time that I've been writing this blog, I've had an ulterior motive for weight loss in the back of my mind. Some people think I'm crazy, some think I'm ambitious, and some think I'm crazy (yeah, it's about 2 thirds to 1 third), but I am planning to ride my bike across Canada this summer. Yep, 6500 kms west to east. How did I get myself into this mess make this decision? Well, when my bf and I decided to go back to Ontario when we were done school, he said that he wanted to ride his bike. I said have fun I'll meet you there. But then, I watched a documentary that our friend Mike Beauchamp made when he did the trip in 2005. Immediately following said documentary, without thought or filter, the words "I want to ride my bike across Canada" came out of my mouth. About two days later, I was the proud owner of this stallion:

Yep, she's a beaut. They didn't have any in pink, which would have been my first option, but I've got the water bottle to hold down the pinkiness. I've got her souped up some and I'm going to get fenders and a rack for my panniers later this week. I rode quite a bit last summer but then not at all this year until this weekend. And guess what? It was FANTASTIC!!! There is this hill on one of the rides that I like that I distinctly remember never making it up last summer. This weekend, though, I made it up it, no sweat (okay, a little sweat, but you know what I mean).

It's an added motivation for me to be as healthy as I can because Lord knows I don't want to end up carrying my obese self plus all my stuff up the rocky mountains. I'd rather be as fit and light as I can be. We plan to leave around May 24. Let the training [officially] begin!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Movin' on Down

Last week, I bought a pair of size 12 jeans. For some reason all of my old size 12s have gone missing (my bedroom is like an abyss when it comes to clothes, and I've also moved some stuff home to Ontario). I have a pair of size 11s, which are not quite ready to fit yet, and some even smaller ones which I'm guessing will be on the shelf for a while still. Anyway, I only had one pair of size 14 jeans, and I'd been putting quite a strain on them what with wearing them when I should have been wearing at least a size 18 (note: I'm not weird and wearing the same pants every day [but I won't judge you if you do]; I wear dress pants to work and often wear sweats around the house or on days off). Anyway, they're getting a little tattered and I've also been noticing that they're a little big, so I decided to go shopping. And I ended up with these:

I've got to say, I'm pretty happy with them. There's still a bit of a love handle sticking out over the top, but that should be gone in no time and I can keep my size 14s around until then. But just for remembrance's sake, here's the shot I took 2 months ago of me in my 'fat jeans':
Yep, as I stated then, I wore those when I was 9 pounds and 11" bigger, too. So glad to be heading in the right direction, and I think my pants are as well. I don't know how much more they could take!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Well, it's been a while. But that doesn't mean I've been making bad choices and being sedentary. Not at all. The thing is, with my dad here for 11 days, and my thesis deadlines coming to a head, I had to prioritize. And unfortunately, blogging was something that had to go for a couple of weeks. I still managed to fit some activity in, and to make meals rather than buy them some time. That is evident by the fact that rather than gain weight over the past few weeks, I have lost a pound. Not great by anyone's standards, but it tells me that this really is a lifestyle. Even when I had so much work to do on my thesis that my supervisor didn't think I would get done, and when my dad was here wanting to go out for beer and wine, I still managed to stay on track.

And guess what? I'm finished my thesis. Well, just about. I have some revisions to do, but I'm hoping to get them done in the next few days, and then I'm a master.

The bf and I have also started doing the 30 day shred. We had to take a couple of days off after the first day because it was my thesis defense and then I went out the next night after work with some of my girlfriends to celebrate, but we're entirely back on track now and I recently found out that my mom has it, so if I don't finish all 30 days before I head home for my brother's wedding on April 30, I can finish it up there. My mom and I are also supposed to do a 5k on May 7, but she got a stress fracture in her foot last week. We're hoping it will be healed in time, but I definitely don't want her to push it. I'm a little disappointed because I was really looking forward to it (I've definitely got the running bug). We'll see how it goes.

If you take a look at my measurements, my waist is FINALLY smaller than my chest. How amazing. I'm really noticing the changes. I find it a little weird that I haven't been losing anything off of my hips lately, but they were disproportionately small before, and maybe now that I'm shredding I'll notice a difference.