Thursday, August 29, 2013

Challenges Are Coming. Oh Yes, Challenges Are Coming

So it's September on Sunday, which...just...what?!

I can't believe the Summer is waning and Autumn is upon us.  This end of Summer period is one of my, um, 17 favorite times of year.  Actually, I figured out the other day that the only time of year in New England that I don't care for is July, because it's Hot and Muggy.

But then I remembered that July has the 4th, which is fun, and then there are also a couple of music festivals we enjoy in July and even though they are Very Hot and Very Muggy, they are still delightful.

In summary, New England is delightful.  Yes, sometimes the Winter can drag on a touch too long, and sometimes June can be a stinker with its raininess (see 2009 and 2013), but overall, I love all of the seasons and am usually ready for the next one to roll around by the time it gets here.  Today, I went to get lunch in a dress, cardigan and ballet flats and thought, "Oo, it's a little chilly!"  In just a few more weeks, I know I'll be pairing tights with this outfit, and possibly a light jacket.

Anyway, with September comes new beginnings, right?  I don't think most of us ever get out of that "New School Year" mindset even if we don't have kids in school.  August has been a bit lax in the healthiness department.  We did some traveling, I did a few workouts, I mostly ate well.  But I'm revving up for September now and have a couple challenges on the horizon.

First, my swim SparkTeam is having a KISS (Keep It Simple September) Challenge, which is very much focused on doing simple things to be healthy.  My simple thing: swim 30,000 yards in September.  I'll break it down into 3 workouts of 2500 yards per week.  This is the time of year when I often lose my momentum and wrap myself up in pumpkin bread and apple cider donuts, so this will be great motivation to keep going to the pool even as it gets cooler.

Second, my June and July Challenge group is doing a September Challenge, so I'm be responsible for doing 4 Cross Fit-esque workouts per week, plus a few weekly challenges. I've already decided that I'm going to beg off the timed mile run this time around.  I'll walk a mile and call it good, but running just isn't in my cards, and I'm not willing to get shin splints for the millionth time.

With 3 cardio and 4 strength workouts per week, September should be a great (and sore) month!

Friday, August 23, 2013

SparkPeople Meet Up

Jason calls them my imaginary friends, but they're actually real people and I got the chance to meet a few of them last week!

I've talked a lot about SparkPeople over the past few years as I've semi-diligently tracked the food I eat and the exercises I do.  Another feature of SparkPeople that I have enjoyed is the SparkTeam which is a group of people who join together for basically any reason.  Right now I'm in a knitting SparkTeam, a Rhode Island SparkTeam, a low carb SparkTeam and two swimming SparkTeams.  Really, the only one I'm active on is "Swimming for Cardio".   I joined SparkPeople probably 6 years ago - maybe more - and then found Swimming for Cardio in 2008. 

The Swimming for Cardio team is made up of a fantastic group of women and a few men, who check in with each other every day.  I've had times where I wasn't so diligent about keeping up with everyone, but I try to check in at least a couple of times a week now.  I actually don't know a lot of swimmers locally, and Swimming for Cardio was initially just a way for me to geek out on swimming talk with people who understood, and could offer advice on technique and suggest workouts and challenges. 

Turns out, though, that somehow in this particular team, not only do we all like to swim, but we have lots of other stuff in common.  Or, at least, we seem to have similar worldviews.  On our daily check-ins, not only do we talk about our latest swimming distances and goals, but we also talk about what's going on in our lives.  We all have way too many degrees than are good for us.  We support one another and sometimes talk about really personal things.  A few of the members have met previously.  A couple of years ago we lost one of our members to cancer, and we mourned her loss, though only a couple of the members had ever met her in real life.  A couple of the members work at the same company now.  All through this SparkTeam.

So a few months ago, a couple of the ladies started talking about meeting up in northern California, since 4 of them live in California.  One of the members just graduated from law school and took the Bar at the end of July (you better believe we have talked about that a lot over the last few months!), so the plan was for her to fly out to California for a post-Bar trip.  I casually mentioned to Jason one night how it would be fun to join them, but of course not really practical.  He said, "Well, we've been wanting to go visit Brandon (his brother) and Sarah.  Maybe we could plan a trip around your imaginary friends' meet up."


So we did.  We just got back from a whirlwind trip to the Bay Area, with a 3-day jaunt down to Santa Cruz for me to meet up with the swimming ladies.  It was so great to meet them finally.  I've been talking with some of them for 5 years, after all. 

On Sunday after church, we drove down to Cupertino to visit Jason's grandparents and extended family.  Then I took our rental car and drove to Santa Cruz, where one of the ladies had rented us a lovely house right around the corner from the beach.  On Monday we went whale watching, to lunch and to the aquarium in Monterey. 

On Tuesday, some of us went swimming at a local swim center (because, of course we went swimming together!), then to brunch, and then we met the rest of the group for manicures and pedicures at a local spa.

Afterward, a couple of the ladies went for a hike, one took a nap, and a couple of us walked down the street to sit on the beach for awhile.
(I heart Santa Cruz) 

On Wednesday, we had brunch and they headed to Shaver Lake for the rest of their group vacation at one woman's family cabin, and I headed back to Oakland for the rest of my trip with the in-laws (in a future post).

My one regret is that we completely forgot to have someone take pictures of our group at the swim center in our suits, caps and goggles.  Next time!

We had a great time together, and from what I've heard, the rest of the trip was lovely as well.  It was so wonderful to meet these women, and to fall easily into a natural repoire with them since we already knew each other so well.  This is one of those moments when I'm so grateful for the internet and the crazy random connections we can make with it.  Hopefully I'll be able to meet up with them again!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bacon: Weight Loss Magic!

I've been a little lax on my blog, mostly because I haven't had much to share.  I've been swimming a bit, and going for lots of long walks, now that the weather has cooled down from the 90s to the 80s.  I've been sticking to the low-carb pretty well, with a deviation here or there (Bertucci's last Saturday, Texas Roadhouse rolls on Wednesday).

So here's the thing.  In the past few weeks I've lost 11 pounds.


I lost 4 pounds just this past week alone.  Also a few inches, though I didn't write down the precise measurements today, just did a little casual measuring with the tape to see if the lost pounds showed up in inches.  They did.

I told Jason and he asked, "What did you do different this week?"

"Nothing.  Well, I ate a lot of bacon, actually."

Apparently bacon is my weight loss secret.  See, last Sunday night I made us eggs and bacon for dinner and I have a bad habit of cooking part of a package of bacon and then never cooking the rest and throwing it away weeks later after it's turned green and disgusting.  So I made the whole package and then took some to go with my breakfast (2 eggs) for the next couple of days.  Then I liked it so much that when I stopped at Whole Foods to get breakfast a couple of times on my way into work because I didn't have time to make something, I got a little frittata and some bacon off of the pay-by-the-ounce hot bar.  Because, you know what?  Bacon is really light!


I've also noticed since my stomach thing a couple of weeks ago, I just haven't been as hungry.  And I've been really listening to my body, a la Intuitive Eating, and stopping eating when I'm full, rather than overfull, no matter how delicious something is.  Which means I've actually been eating a little more frequently in the afternoons and I have needed a snack every day this week because I get hungry in between lunch and dinner.

Bacon and low-carb Intuitive Eating and suddenly I'm losing weight for the first time in a couple of years.