Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly Recap

I meant to go swimming yesterday morning and this morning. However, Thursday night I was all buzzing with nervous energy because I had a work meeting on Friday morning at which I would be the only representative from our law firm for the very first time. I think I finally fell asleep at about 1:30, and I just couldn't get up at 6.

Then this morning I was lazy because I need to go into work soon and will probably be there for at least 6 or 7 hours. Plus, tomorrow morning I have a meeting at church at 8:15. Today was the only morning I could sleep in for a bit, so I did.

However, since I set my exercise bar relatively low, I succeeded in meeting my goals this week. My goal is to exercise 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes - which I did. Monday I walked to and from work (60 min), Tuesday I swam (30 min), and Thursday I swam (35 min).

I know next week will be better simply because of how great I felt after swimming. Even though I am slow and more breathless than I would like while completing my laps, the endorphins are kicking in. I felt great on the two days I swam, so Monday morning I'll be at the pool. Next week my goal will be the same 3 times per week, but I'm going to see if I can get in 5 days of swimming. Oh and also wake up early enough that I'm not forced out of the pool by my schedule after only a half hour.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I swam again this morning. Yesterday morning I rolled over after my alarm went off and didn't reset it and woke up an hour later. Then I thought, well maybe we'll have a work snow day since it's so icy and I can go swim anyway. I brought work home just in case. So I waited until the last possible second and finally got in the shower. When I got out, there was an email from my boss about 5 minutes after I got into the shower telling us we had a snow day. Sigh. Time was conspiring against me yesterday.

I went today, though, and swam 60 laps in 35 minutes. I can't believe how easily I get tired and how slow I am, and I haven't hit that point yet where I get a mad endorphin rush afterward, but I know that's coming. I just have to stick with it. So far I've gone swimming twice this week, which is 2 times more than I have in the past few months. And as far as my speed goes, I did consistently lap the guy I was sharing a lane with and almost kept pace with the really skinny girl in the next lane with the waterproof workout flip chart, which I assume indicates she's hardcore. So I've got that going for me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pretty New Suit

In an effort to inspire myself a few weeks ago, I bought a new swimsuit. This one, actually:
I already had a blue swim cap and a couple of beach towels with lots of blue. Blue seems to be my swimming color lately (although red has had its time in the sun as well). I even bought some new blue flip-flops at Old Navy a couple weeks ago.

The suit is the Speedo Quantum Spliced Superpro, and I want to give it a shout out because it's the only training suit I've felt comfortable wearing for a really long time. See, my long torso means that swimming is a never ending struggle to not have a wedgie. Speedo makes one suit in long torso. It's a total grandma suit and comes in black or navy with padded boobs. SEXY!

Normally training suit fabric is not stretchy at all, and when it does start to stretch that's when you know you need to buy a new suit because the elastic is going and pretty soon there will be random transparent spots all over the suit where the elastic has disappeared completely. But the fabric on this suit is just stretchy enough that it stays on, while stretching longer to fit my body. I can't tell you how thrilled I was to come out of a flipturn yesterday morning and A) not have a wedgie, and B) not have the front pulled down to the middle of my breasts to compensate for the other end staying in place.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Can I Get A "Woot Woot"?!

I did it! I went to the gym this morning and I swam. Granted, I got there about 20 minutes later than I had planned and could only swim for a half hour, but I did it. It's the first time I've been to the gym since - um - I don't really know. November?

I am embarrassingly out of shape. Sigh.

In my absence, the Y decided to refurbish the locker rooms that go straight to the pool. So we now have to use the rec center locker rooms (which until this morning I didn't know existed), which are down the stairs and around the corner from the lobby and the pool. Which means instead of being able to rinse off (per RI Department of Health regulation) and walk right into the pool area via a door from the locker room showers, we have to gather up all our swimming paraphernalia and walk all the way back up the stairs, past the lobby and through another entrance to the pool altogether.

So now, I just put my coat and bag in the locker, change into flip flops, and walk to the pool, fully clothed and carrying my towel, goggles and swim cap. The Department of Health will just have to deal because, while I've gotten over my whole "appearing at the pool in a swimsuit" issues, I have not quite made it to the place where I feel comfortable walking through the Y and past the lobby in only my swimsuit.

While I was gathering my things together a wet woman in a swimsuit walked into the locker room and I asked her how long the locker rooms had been under construction. She said, "Oh, about 4 weeks. 4 weeks of 12, they say." I said, "And I guess I just gave away how long it's been since I've made it to the gym."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Seriously Lacking Motivation

Last night I was reading Such A Pretty Fat* and felt totally inspired to wake up this morning and go to the gym. Yes, I was! I had my workout clothes laid out and my work bag packed so that I could maximize sleeping, go to the gym and still make it to work on time.

Only then the alarm went off at 6 and I rolled over for a couple more minutes only I forgot to reset the alarm and then I woke up at 7. Sigh.

I need some motivation. I wish I had a workout buddy because then I would know that she would show up at the gym and I wouldn't be there and I would be wracked with guilt. I'm trying to find that inner motivation that I had last year, but I think it likes warmer weather and is dormant in the winter.

I can say I'm going to go to the gym and plan and prepare, but until I work up the wherewithal to pull my bum out of bed in the early morning, nothing is going to change. I did walk to work in 18 degree weather so that's something.

* Jason asked me last night why I only read fat girl losing weight books lately. I tried to explain to him it's because that's where my head is right now. I feel pretty good, honestly, but I'm in this eternal struggle to lose 20-25 more pounds. I know what I need to do, and reading about other people's successes and failures is inspiring and makes me feel like I'm not in this alone. Maybe it would help if I had more chubby girlfriends who were also trying to lose weight. Must work on finding some of those.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spectacular Finish!

I finished Phase 1 of South Beach by going off of Phase 1 one day early. Jason's parents were in town this weekend and we went out to eat on Saturday at the Cheesecake Factory. I had a salad and wanted some cheesecake. Actually, it was my first meal of the day at 4 PM so I didn't feel too bad about that. We just hemmed and hawed about what to do until finally it was early afternoon and none of us were showered and dressed, but we were hungry!

I got the Tiramisu cheesecake and ate a little less than half of it. Let me tell you, my head was buzzing. Literally. I felt kind of loopy and could hear this high-pitched buzzing. Yeah.

Since then I've eaten a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, the rest of the cheesecake and a slice of sweet potato pie (which I have tweaked until it's basically just a baked sweet potato in crust) so my sensitivity to the sugar has died down. But that was sure an interesting wake-up call as to how sugar affects me.

Now the in-laws are gone, and I'm back on plan. Since I'm now on Phase 2, I had a piece of whole wheat bread with natural, no-sodium peanut butter for breakfast, but I'm not planning on having any more grains or sugars for the rest of the day.

Now if I could just get my bum to the gym. This is my Achilles heel this year. I just can't seem to do it and I need to work on that. Maybe watching The Biggest Loser tonight will inspire me to pack my swim bag and get up at 6 AM tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day...Um...Day 11

I seriously just had to look at a calendar to figure out what day I was on. Apparently South Beach isn't cramping my style too much if I'm not counting down the days to the end of Phase 1.

Last night I did have a small dish of chopped fruit. Some friends invited us over and she wanted to make us dessert. "Do you guys like chocolate?" she asked. I told her that oh, yes, we love chocolate. However, I'm not eating sugar right now (didn't feel the need to go into the whole rah rah South Beach thing). I assured her that whatever she made for them would be wonderful and I would not be bothered at all. Also, if Jason found out that he could have gotten chocolate and I put the kibosh on it, I would have been in serious trouble.

So we show up and our friend pulls out a lovely chocolate cake and...a bowl of chopped fruit for me. I just could not turn up my nose at such a sweet gesture. So I ate some, and it was yummy, and they also had milk, which I drank because I love milk and it is SB-approved. Hopefully the two combined made her feel like she was an excellent hostess for the evening. Because she was.

I still haven't been back to the gym because, I don't know if you've heard, but it's freakin' cold outside right now. I'm doing good to pull myself out of bed in time to make my bus, let alone hauling my bum to the gym.

I'm still down 6.6 pounds. I think this is probably about where I will be until I start exercising again. 6.6 pounds in less than 2 weeks is a-ok with me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


This morning on my way into work I was listening to a podcast interview with Dr Scott Olson, author of Sugarettes. The premise of his book is an analogy between the addictive qualities of sugar and cigarettes. He encourages us to think of sugar (and other things that go into your system the same way, such as most carbohydrates) as addictive. I haven't read his book, but based on the interview, I couldn't agree with him more.

When I was 13, my parents and I met with a nutritionist and were put on diabetic diets, with the mandate to cut out white flour and white sugar and to eat within the diabetic exchange system. The premise behind this particular nutritional approach was that refined sugar goes into your system and reacts the same way as alcohol. So does refined flour. Your body becomes used to that influx and begins to crave it, which is why you go through withdrawal when you stop eating it. At least I do. When I have been eating a lot of refined carbs and then I cut them out, I feel headachey and awful for a day or two, but then I come out the other side feeling a million times better than when I was eating the refined carbs.

Dr. Olson mentioned a mouse study where they fed the mice diets highly based on sugar and then removed the sugar from the diets (I'm sure he mentions it in his book too and there is probably a cite there). The mice exhibited increased aggressiveness, trembling and other signs of withdrawal for a short period. After the withdrawal period, they were fine. However, and this is what is key for me I think, when they reintroduced sugar to the diets, the mice completely binged, much as someone who is a sober alcoholic falls off the wagon hard when he or she drinks again. That sounds so familiar. If I limit myself to a little bit of sugar very occasionally, then I can keep my intake under control. However, as I just demonstrated in the final months of 2008, when I give myself license to eat what I want, I overindulge and wind up gaining weight, feeling awful, and exactly where I was before I started limiting my carbs.

Basically, I understand where the mice are coming from and I think it's interesting that the biological craving never really goes away, it's just a matter of being in control of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Day 8

-6 pounds

I'm still feeling great. For whatever reason I'm not getting bored with Phase 1 of South Beach this time around and I'm not finding it hard to do. I think it's because I'm making an effort to make my food as interesting as possible. Last time I had a lot of lunches that consisted of chicken breast and homemade tomato sauce. While that tasted great the first 3 or 4 times, after that I was so bored that I didn't want to eat at all.

This time I'm making great stews and tenderloin in the crock pot and getting more adventurous with spices and oils. It's definitely making this a more feasible way to live for the next week. Then I get to eat fruit again. Yay! I'm planning to make it to next Monday on Phase 1, but Jason's parents are coming into town this weekend and I don't know where we'll wind up for meal times. We may go to this French place Jason and I like and they have aMAzing bread. But you only get 1 piece usually so it may not be too bad if I indulge

Also, I went to the doctor this morning for my annual check-up because I'm making an attempt to act like a grown up who actually does things like have an annual check-up and my blood pressure is 110/70. Woo! However, my heart rate was 75 bpm. I had just been walking around the office, so my resting heart rate is probably in the 60s. Over the summer I had a low of 48 and that felt pretty cool so it's definitely time to get back to the gym and get my heart all super healthy again.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Day 5

For the record, I'm holding steady at -4 pounds. Those other 10 that I gained before December 31 may take a little more effort. I might have to start exercising and stuff.

However, I feel awesome. A few years ago I started taking antidepressants. I had a very understanding professor who let me postpone handing in a final paper because she had dealt with something similar. One day I was talking with her and I described the moment when the meds started working as "coming out of a fog." I honestly remember that very moment when suddenly I connected with the world around me. I was halfway through law school and wished more than anything else I could redo the first year and a half without being in a daze. Suddenly the things the teachers were saying made sense and I started participating in class without being specifically called on. I had the energy to be more assertive and even restarted an organization that had gone defunct. I got my first honest-to-goodness A that semester. In Tax Law. Yes, I realize that makes me a freak.

And that's how I feel today. Like I'm coming out of a fog. I got through the initial cravings of the first few days and now I feel physically great and mentally alert.

Yesterday I went to a (really boring) continuing legal education class. They provided a breakfast of many pastries. Before I went, I ate some mushroom and feta bake for breakfast, had a sugar-free hot chocolate at the class because it was FREEZING in there, and brought almonds as a snack. The lunch they served was baked macaroni and cheese, salad, and sandwiches and wraps. I loaded up my plate with salad, and pulled apart a couple of sandwiches to eat the meat inside.

And I did not come close to falling asleep at all. Usually at these things I am struggling hard to stay awake. Yesterday, I was alert through the whole thing. I still feel that way. No carb crashing at all.

The best part is how I feel like my brain is firing on all cylinders. I've felt kind of cloudy for the last few weeks and have seen it reflected in my job performance and my memory. For the past couple of days, I have been on the ball! I've felt totally in control of the cases I'm handling and can recall details on the fly that I know would have been just out of my mental grasp a week or so ago.

The ironic thing is, I was just listening to a Fitness Rocks podcast this morning that talked about a study on brain function in people who are on a low-carb versus a low-fat diet. They found a decrease in certain memory capacities for the people on the low-carb diet. I would argue that I have experienced the opposite and that I have felt similarly when I cut carbs in the past. Granted, I haven't cut my carbs down to below 20g like the people in the study, but the last couple of days have been around 30g, which isn't a huge difference.

I do think that everyone has to find a food plan that works for them, and for me that seems to be lower-carb, higher-protein.

Also, I got my new swimsuit and it's super cute (you know, as much as a Speedo can be) and I'm going to swim on Tuesday (because I have an appointment at 7 AM on Monday and I am not going to the Y at 5 AM).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

SBD Day 2

Wow, my body does not like the carbs. Or mass amounts of the carbs anyway. I've lost 4 pounds since yesterday morning, says my scale.

Last night I made a Mushroom and Feta Breakfast Casserole from Kalyn's Kitchen, one of the best sources I have found for interesting and tasty Phase 1 recipes. I sliced it up into 8 servings and brought 1 for breakfast this morning. I am a huge fan of both mushrooms and feta so of course I thought it was fabulous.

I made Jason and I sesame salmon and veggies for dinner last night. I forgot how much I love fresh vegetables and just simple, unprocessed food. Duh. I hate how I forget these things when all I'm eating is chocolate and cookies.

Anyway, the salmon was very simple: just saute in a little sesame oil and sprinkle with some garlic powder. Finish with some toasted sesame seeds. For the veggies, I sauteed celery, scallions, bok choy, broccoli and water chestnuts in a little sesame oil and then sprinkled some soy sauce on toward the end. I probably cooked the vegetables for a total of 10 minutes and they were still crisp and flavorful.

I'm working the hardest at Goal #3, planning ahead, because when I plan, the healthy eating falls into place. For example, on Sunday while I was canning some apple butter (no sugar added), I washed and chopped the celery, bok choy and scallions. Then I scooped some peanut butter into a couple of tiny containers and made a couple of baggies of celery sticks for snacks. I also started some black beans hydrating, and I'm going to cook those up tonight.

Yesterday I had 60 g of carbs and 140 g of protein. I walked home from work and today I walked to work and plan to walk home. Progress is being made.

Monday, January 05, 2009

True Confessions

Alright, I'm going to be honest. I lost 17 pounds in 2008. I gained 14 of them back by December 31.

I believe I did something shockingly similar in 2007.

I don't know what it's going to take for me to not sabotage 9 months of hard work in the last 3 months of the year, but something has got to change. Oh, I know, maybe all of that "Just one little this" and "A taste of that" throughout the months of October to December isn't helping. Maybe.

Today I started Phase One of the South Beach Diet again in an effort to have some rigid guidelines to stick to. Jason thinks it's bad when I go to extremes, cutting out sugar and, for the next couple of weeks, carbs. But he doesn't understand that this is how I work. I need limits, or else I give myself way too much leeway. One cookie becomes 15 (that was Friday. I walked home Friday with an awful stomach ache because of cookies. How dumb am I?)

Also, Jason? Not the pinnacle of health and fitness that you might think.

I began today fully intending to walk to and from work, but it's a giant ice slick outside. I made it about 4 blocks and after nearly falling 5 or 6 times, I decided to hop on the bus after all. Maybe it will be more mushy and less icey out by the time I leave tonight.

I'm trying to get more motivated about exercising. I've had a sore throat for about 5 days and that's not helping matters. It's a sick type of sore throat - the kind that hurts when you swallow and makes me feel like chopping off my head when I first wake up in the morning because it's been so long since I've had any water. Usually sore throats like this evolve into a full-on head cold after a couple of days, but so far, no cold. Just a sore throat. Which is annoying and makes me not feel quite up to snuff.

Tomorrow morning I'll do Pilates and try to walk to work again. Once I get my new swimsuit I'm going to get it together and get back in the pool.

I can't even express how frustrating it is to start yet another new year back at square one.

Friday, January 02, 2009


I'm discovering that I'm really good at giving myself an excuse to celebrate. So I celebrated New Years with food. Wheeee!

I just got a great email from my sister-in-law (hi, Sarah!) who reminded me how awesome you feel when you get all of the junk out of your system and get past the cravings. It's really hard to remember when the dark chocolate-dipped cookies in the office kitchen are calling my name.

So here are some concrete, fo' real goals that I'm beginning on Monday, January 5, 2009.

Goal 1
Exercise for 30 minutes, 3-5 days a week. I'm being realistic here because I know some weeks I will barely get to the gym 3 times and other weeks I will be there 6 times and probably walk to and from work and do a Pilates DVD on the side. But my minimum should be 3 days. I just set a goal for myself on SparkPeople to work out for 10,000 minutes this year, which means I will need to average a little more than 200 minutes a week. Last year I had the goal of 10,300 minutes based on some crazy math that I did around June, and in September I was well on my way to reaching and surpassing that goal. However, the last quarter of 2008 was not good exercise-wise and I didn't make it. Boo!

Last week I ordered myself a new swimsuit, which is always good inspiration to get back in the pool, and I am psyched. I am not psyched about showing up at the pool again weighing several pounds more than I did the last time I was there. And yes, I realize I am the only one who knows that, but I feel like I was doing so well and then I got off track and then I got wildly crazily lost in the woods off track. So I guess I'm just kind of embarrassed about it all and mad at myself for letting my weight get back to this point. Sometimes I just want to give up and let the M&Ms take over.

Goal 2
Step away from the simple carbohydrates. I have already said this ad nauseum, so I'll just restate it quickly. No white sugar or white flour except for a splurge day once a month. 150 g of protein a day and less than 100 g of carbs per day (with a little wiggle room when those carbs come from good things like fruit, because unlike Dr. Atkins and Dr. Agatston I think fruit is right and good)

Goal 3:
Plan ahead. My downfall is when I don't prepare food the night before and show up at work not really knowing what I'm going to eat for breakfast or lunch. There aren't a lot of dining options in downtown Providence and I'm limited to not very good things for the girl who is trying to eat well. Just 20-30 minutes the night before and I can have everything tucked away in a bunch of little containers ready to go to work with me in the morning.

So that's what I've got planned for Monday morning. Exciting, yes?