Monday, June 30, 2008


Yesterday was an amazing food day, in that it all tasted really, really good. Not so much for the healthy side, but whatever.

First, we went to brunch. I had an omelet and realized piles of gloppy cheese don't really appeal to me anymore. I ate around the cheese and just ate the eggs and veggies. I ate a lot of canteloupe, which was lovely and sweet, and had a couple helpings of breakfast meats of assorted varieties. The only really "bad" thing I had was a mini corn muffin and a mini key lime square. Not too bad.

Then we went to my friend's wedding in Connecticut wherein I ate many helpings of brie and saga bleu on water crackers. Oh and mini crabcakes. Dinner was delectable roast beef with horseradish cream and skewers of swordfish, scallops and shrimp, along with salad and mixed vegetables and potatoes. It was all so good.

We couldn't stay for cake because we needed to head back, but we took a rest stop at McDonald's and I got a soft serve cone. Love the soft serve cone.

I didn't get to the pool this morning because, oh yeah, it was really hot and muggy at my friend's outdoor wedding. The wedding was lovely, but as I stood there listening to the service, I could feel rivulets of sweat streaming down my back. Then we came home to our non-air conditioned apartment and sweat our way through the night. Heat really saps the energy right out of me and I just couldn't wake up at 6 this morning. Tomorrow, definitely.

So Sunday was kind of a wash and I didn't even bother with recording things on SparkPeople. The good thing about letting myself have an off day now and again, particularly for special occasions, is I just brush it off and wake up the next day and I'm back on track. Other than the OCD numbers and counting fixation that I have*, I think I'm staying pretty mentally healthy with this weight loss thing.

*And really, if I wasn't counting calories or lap strokes, I would just be counting something else.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I'm really interested in monitoring my heart rate at various points in my day and while working out. I need to get one of those groovy Polar heart rate monitors.

At the beginning of January when I restarted my weight loss effort, my resting heart rate was about 65. Last night it was 47. Last week it was 48. A couple of weeks ago it was 53. I love that I can measurably see my heart getting more fit.

Jason asked in response to 47, "At what point do you have to be worried about your heart stopping?"

This morning I was swimming fast sets and at the end, I took my heart rate: 144. One minute later: 102. I read that if your heart rate decreases by 20-30 beats within a minute of finishing a fast workout, you're in pretty good shape. So I'm pleased with that.

And yes, I'm a little OCD about the numbers. Heart rate, calories, lap count, etc. Don't even get me started on how I count strokes while I'm swimming and have certain set patterns that I rotate. I argue that it helps me keep track of how many laps I've swum, but in reality I think the counting helps me zone out a little. Like repeating a mantra when you're meditating.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High-er Protein, Low-er Carb

So I've added a twist to my food plan. Lately I've been listening to a lot of podcasts as I drive the 45 minutes in between home and my Barbri class every day. Since my focus is on fitness, I've been listening to fitness podcasts like Dr. Fitness and the Fat Guy*, Fitness Rocks** and Livin' La Vida Low Carb. Obviously, the low carb podcast is all about just that. The host is on Atkins.

The low carb podcast often has experts on who talk about studies that support the low carb lifestyle. Of course, I realize there's an agenda, but it's interesting to hear what sort of data is out there. Basically, the host and his guests spend a lot of time talking about how we've been fed lies for so many years about how low-fat, high-carb is the healthy way to lose weight.

Add to that the fact that my Calorie Cycling team leader is always posting articles about how important protein is to building muscle and I started thinking about focusing more on where my food was coming from, macronutrient-wise. A lot of the articles suggest 1 g of protein (as a macronutrient, not by weight) per pound of body weight, although I've only managed that on one day so far.

So I'm not doing "low carb", I'm just doing lower carb. My goals are modest right now: get the protein up to my body weight (179 g) and keep the carbs under 200 g per day. Low carb people eat a LOT fewer carbs than that. However, I just can't get behind cutting apples out of my life. I am not that strong.

I've started slowly, but already I'm seeing results. Remember how I've been plateauing forever and then this weekend I broke through to the 170's at 179.6? This morning I was 179 even. Basically every day since I started consciously upping my protein, I've seen a loss the next morning.*** My measurements are going down too, so maybe the protein really is helping to build that lean muscle.

Maximizing proteins and limiting carbs really affects my food choices. I have to consciously figure out when I will be eating carbs and, when I do eat them, I have to make them count, since I'm still trying to get 25 g of fiber and 3 servings of whole grains per day. I also have to make sure there's some protein in almost every meal or snack that I eat to get up to 179 g per day. It's a challenge, but I like the results I'm seeing so far and I'm willing to keep trying.

* I like their enthusiasm, but Dr. Fitness is starting to get on my nerves with his slightly misogynistic comments on the attractiveness of their co-host and the women they have as guests.

** My favorite. A former physician who talks about scientific studies showing the benefits of fitness. I find his own story pretty interesting. He used to run a pain clinic in which exercise played a large part in his patients' recoveries.

*** Speaking of which, I need to break the scale addiction I have lately. I keep telling myself to weigh once a week, but every morning I'm curious as to what's going on and I pull out the scale.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I've Still Got It

I think one of the cute little lifeguards at the pool was flirting with me this morning. Guess I don't look too lumpy in my swimsuit.

Friday, June 20, 2008

170's, Baby!

This morning I stepped on the scale: 179.6

I am in the 170's! I haven't been less than 180 since...I don't really know. It must be at least 10 years. My junior year of college maybe?

I realize that .4 pounds is just a cup of water or so from 180, but the point is I haven't actually seen the number 170-anything for years and years. This is such excellent motivation to keep doing what I'm doing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

New Favorite Website

Have you all seen Steep and Cheap? It's a site that has revolving outdoorsy products for sale at deep discounts. They sell one product until it runs out and then move on to the next one.

Two warnings:

1) Act quickly! They had a great backpack for about $20 cheaper than anywhere else and I hemmed and hawed and checked with Jason to get his opinion and all of a sudden it was gone! There's a gauge on the page to give you a rough idea of how many are left and I kept hitting refresh and it kept telling me there were a bunch and then one time I hit refresh and the backpack had disappeared to be replaced by an ugly men's jacket. Boo!

2) It's kind of addictive. I find myself popping over every few minutes to refresh the page. Also, when I started watching the site I knew I wanted a heart rate monitor so I was on the lookout for that. Now I want a heart rate monitor and a good hiking day pack. I have a feeling, the more I watch the site, the more I will realize how much stuff I

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Why Pilates is Awesome

Or whatever it is that my DVD is. It's called a Pilates DVD, but Pilates purists on Amazon have said it's really a combo of Yoga, Pilates and calisthenics. Whatever. I like it.

Saturday I swam 120 laps. It's the first time I've done that in awhile. Guess what? My left shoulder was hurting when I got home. Last time it was my right shoulder, and then let's not forget how I hurt my calf. Getting old sucks. I just can't do the things I could do a few years ago. I stretch religiously before and after workouts now (which I never used to do) and I still get hurt. My body doesn't bounce back as easily anymore.

I'm only 31!

Anyway, Sunday morning I woke up way before I needed to and so I decided to do a half hour of Pilates to start my day. I didn't do the arm exercises because I wanted to give my shoulder a rest, but I did thighs, bum and this 10-minute stretching segment at the end. I LOVE the stretching. It feels so, SO good, especially after a hard workout.

When I got up from the last stretch I realized my shoulder pain was gone. Monday morning I swam 80 laps and had no pain at all. My shoulder is still fine.


Friday, June 13, 2008

With Friends Like These...

You know how there are all those articles about how the people you hang out with influence things like how much you exercise, what you eat, even how much you weigh? If your friends like to work out, they're a good influence on you and you will probably all encourage each other to work out. And vice versa. I am discovering that Jason is a BAD influence on me.

I was so virtuous last week while he was gone. I met most, if not all, of my food goals every day AND worked out every day. Every day. I felt great.

This week has been, shall we say, not so good. I swam Monday morning and Jason got back Monday afternoon. I didn't make it to the gym either Tuesday or Thursday because of staying up late with Jason the night owl who thinks going to bed at 3 is normal and thinks I'm a pansy when my eyes start drooping at 11. OK, I like staying up late too, but I just can't if I'm going to get to the gym by 6:30 the next morning and get through my day.

Then there is the eating. I've already had dinner out 3 times this week, twice at this cheapo pan-Asian place that is so good. I try to get the healthiest things they have, which are summer rolls (rice paper, shrimp and veggies) and sesame tofu (bad sauce, but comes with a big pile of broccoli that is not drowned in sauce at all and that I always eat FIRST and then I often don't finish the tofu). Then last night I picked up Jason from work and we were both so starving* that we just went to East Side Pockets and I got a gyro. The bread they use isn't as bad as usual gyro pita bread, since it's not as thick and fatty, but still. It was so good. And I wanted another one when I finished.

Part of it is Jason, since I'm very capable of resisting take-out when he's not whispering in my ear about how easy and cheap it is. Part of it is my crazy schedule and how darn tired I am. Take yesterday (gyro night). I went to my Bar prep class for 3 1/2 hours, worked for 5 hours and then picked up Jason at around 7, knowing that I still had about 3 hours of studying left to do. I couldn't take the idea of going home and cooking and THEN studying.

So instead of hitting the 170's like I was hoping to do this week, I'm holding steady somewhere between 181 and 182, which is frustrating. I'm so close to crossing into this unknown territory and I just can't seem to do it.

I had a discussion last night with Jason about his habits and about how I need his help if I'm going to keep succeeding. I'm trying to encourage him to be healthier too. My first goal for him was to eat one piece of fresh fruit every day from Wednesday on this week. He missed Wednesday. Last night I forcibly put an apple in his hand. This morning I made him a fruit smoothie, so I know he got some fruit first thing. He tells me next week he's going to start jogging. We'll see. I've heard it before.

The thing is, no matter how much I want him to be healthy, he has to want it. I didn't get back to the gym and modify my eating until I dedicated myself to being healthy, and I know I can't force him to change.

It would just be so much easier for me to stick to my well-laid plans** if he was on board.

* Seriously. I walked up the hill to get to my car and couldn't get a deep breath in because my stomach hurt so bad from hunger it hurt to breathe in. Combination of a low-calorie day and not planning my snacks very well.
** Which last night consisted of salmon and broccoli for dinner with a popcorn snack. Healthy healthy healthy.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


So maybe it's all in my head, but I definitely think my arms are getting more defined. In fact, even though I still have some jiggle in the tricepular area at times, I can actually wave my hand a la the Queen and there is little to no jiggle in the wings. Nice.

80 laps Monday and today. I'm getting faster too. I think the Bar stress is starting to set in. Last time, my times totally rocked a week before the Bar exam.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

All the Right Moves

So I think I am doing some of my Pilates exercises correctly now. Not that I was doing them really incorrectly before, but I have done this particular inner thigh set twice before and didn't really feel it. Yesterday I did 45 minutes of Pilates, and I am really feeling it in my inner thighs today. I love that feeling of knowing that I'm getting it right and if I keep doing it I'll see some progress.

110 laps yesterday in an hour. Usually I can get 100 in an hour, but I think I was moving fast yesterday. In fact, I think I did a 400 (16 laps) in 6:25, but I'm not positive. The timing clock at the pool is at kind of a weird angle so some of the times are hard to read from a couple of the lanes. If I did the 400 at 6:25, that means I would be doing an 800 at 13:50, which is a decrease of 35 seconds from earlier this week. Of course, I won't really know until I do the longer swim, but I like seeing times like that and feeling like I'm getting faster.

Friday, June 06, 2008

What I'm Eating Lately

Last month I did a SparkPeople challenge in my Calorie Cycling team that really got me focused on what I eat every day. We were assigned to teams and we got points for certain foods and activities and at the end of each week the team members' points were added up and one team won. My team won every week. Awesome.

Some of the women on my team impressed me so much. Every day they were dedicated to eating what they needed to eat and exercising (sometimes exercising insane amounts). At the end of the challenge I was finally getting on a good path, food-wise, and the scale reflected that. I broke the plateau I've been at for, well, forever.

This week I have made a big effort to act like I was still in the challenge. In fact I even made little goals to check off every day on my SparkPeople site that make me accountable to myself (Plus, I get a little point every time I check one of the boxes. Yay, points!). Every day this week the scale has inched down a little bit.

So here are my daily food goals:
3 servings of fruit
5 servings of vegetables
3 servings of whole grains
At least 25 grams of fiber
Less than 2300 mg of sodium

My calorie cycle looks like this:
1500, 1800, 1600, 2200, 1500, 2200, 1800
Not necessarily in that order, but attempting to cycle from high one day to low the next day with the high calorie days being the days I work out the most. FYI, 2200 calories is a LOT of food, especially when you're keeping the sodium down and eating more produce. Those are the days I find myself going through the fridge in the evening wondering what to eat next. And yet the scale still goes down. It's kind of amazing.

I've exercised every day this week except Sunday (and I'll be going swimming tomorrow morning). I'm doing HIIT elliptical, swimming and pilates. Oh, and walking about a half hour every day down and up the big hill in between work and home. I actually think I'm already breathing less heavily on my trek up the hill. I might be wrong, but I like the delusion.

So wait. You're saying I have to eat really healthy and work out in order to lose weight? Amazing!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mental Health

I have just started studying for the Rhode Island Bar Exam, which means my time will be strictly regimented for the next 2 months. Today was the first day of the Bar prep class and I can already tell it's all going to be a teensy bit stressful.

I'm taking the Bar class in the morning, working in the afternoons and supposedly eking out a few hours of studying in the evening. Last time I took the Bar (3 years ago) studying was all I did, so I had a lot more time to procrastinate. This time, I have to hit the ground running.

Of paramount importance is my workout and eating regimen. Before I started studying the first time an attorney friend of mine advised me to exercise every day while I was studying. She said every day she went for a good run and it helped her keep her head clear. Toward the end of July, as the test neared, all of her friends had giant explosive freakouts, but she managed to keep it together.

Three years ago, I kept that advice in mind and swam almost every day. I watched what I ate too because I knew that keeping my body fueled on healthy foods would help my mind concentrate and help me to be able to pack in the piles of information I needed to know by the end of July. As a side effect, I lost about 15 pounds. I also learned the information and even though I was stressed, I didn't have any major meltdowns - except for not being able to get more than 2 hours of sleep the night before the first day of the exam, but I think that's probably pretty normal. As the test got closer, my swimming times got faster and faster, so I know I was really working off a lot of the stress.

This time, I am starting the summer weighing a little less than I did at the end of the summer of 2005. If I lose 15 pounds this summer, I will be about 7 pounds away from my goal weight, which would be amazing. I can't even tell you when the last time I weighed anything near that was. Beginning of college maybe?

Even if I don't lose a bunch of weight, though, I am going to do all I can to be healthy and fit in my body, so that my mind has good energy coming to it. Speaking of which, now that I'm eating well, I notice I don't have those middle of the afternoon slumps anymore. Nice.

This morning I swam 80 laps and then I went to class with a berry smoothie and some whole wheat toast and honey, which I munched on during the 4 hour lecture. I felt completely focused and even found myself remembering some of the information from 2005. So that's encouraging.