Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 28 - Getting Psyched for February

A month ago I set a goal to start swimming again in February.  I don't know if you know, but February is tomorrow.  It's not any lighter in the morning than it was when I set that goal.  It's not any warmer - if anything, it's been colder.

Regardless, Monday morning I will be at the pool!

(With my awesome new swim bag.)

My SparkPeople swimming group will be doing a February challenge where we set goals every day and come back at the end of the day to report on how we did.  The goals can be about food and exercise, but also about other things that we want to accomplish in February.  Per usual, I am aiming for doing better with my diet and truly implementing my Paleo/Primal eating plan with ONE splurge day at the end of the month. I will start swimming Monday, and next week I'll plan to go to strength training Wednesday and Friday.

Over the next month, I also plan to list and check off some of the home organization goals that Jason and I have.  We are determined to wrangle our clutter into shape before it gets warm again and we're out of the house every weekend.

I may include my knitting projects.  I love checking things off of to-do lists.  Sometimes I add things to my lists at work after I've finished them just to mark them complete.  So satisfying!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 25 - Sick/Not Sick

I'm really irritated at my body right now because it can't seem to make up its mind about whether it's going to get sick.  For the past week and a half I've been waking up with a scratchy, pre-cold throat, that usually dissipates a little during the day, but is constantly there in the background.  Last week I didn't work out because I let myself sleep in, hoping that whatever sickness was threatening me would just move on by.  I've also been sucking on zinc lozenges because they've really helped me in the past with either bypassing sickness altogether, or shortening what is usually a 2-week cold followed by at least a month of lung-wrenching coughs (I had bronchitis a lot as a kid so pretty much every illness I have winds up with a month of lung-wrenching coughs). 

But seriously, zinc is awesome.

The problem is, this time I feel like I'm just kind of holding the cold/flu/plague at bay so I keep feeling not great, tired and achy with a slight sore throat.  I slept for 9 hours last night!  I never do that.

I don't know what's going on, but I wish I would just sink into sickness, or get over it already.

Suffice it to say, I have not been working out while I've been feeling sort of sick.  It's annoying.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Day 21 - Reasons to Swim

This is Day 21, right?  I confess, I haven't been as stringent as I might have hoped with my diet so I can't really call this a Whole30, if we're being technical. However, it's been a Whole Heck of A Lot Better Than the Preceding 30 Days.  I know for a fact that my torso circumference has decreased by an inch and a half in the last 21 days, so that's something.  I'm not officially weighing and measuring until the end of the month, but I did a little sneak peek the other day and I'm relatively pleased.  The tape measure is moving in the right direction.

Anyway, swimming.  February is the benchmark I have set for getting back in the pool.  And I have two good reasons.

First of all, I bought this:

(FYI, it's still on sale at Swim Outlet for half price.)

In one of those moments when the internet ad people prove they know me well, this beauty popped up in my sidebar last week.  In these colors.  Not only do the ads know what I like to do, but they know what colors will hook me.  It's a little unsettling.

Right now I'm taking two bags to the gym when I swim: my gym bag, which holds a towel and all my swimming gear, and my other bag, which holds toiletries and clothes and all the stuff I need to get ready for work.  According to the reviews I read, this Speedo backpack is perfect for holding ALL the things.  Women just like me all over the country are taking this bag to the pool and then getting ready for work.  It has a separate pocket for wet things, which is key, since my Y is still in the dark ages and doesn't have a suit spinner. 

I'm excited to use my awesome new backpack!

Second, we're doing the St. John swim again!


Right this second it's 17 degrees outside with a windchill of 4.  To say I've been daydreaming about this trip even though it's not for 4 months is an understatement

I'm not sure if we're going to do the relay again or if we're going to do the intermediate, 2.25 mile swim.  The one thing I do know is that this year we're using fins.  It's not as hardcore, but hardcore is overrated (and it's still a little hardcore).  I love swimming with fins!  It's like flying through the water.

The point is, we need to train, and we need to start soon.  I haven't been to the pool since October and my swimming muscles are definitely out of shape.  First Monday of February, I'm back in the pool!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Day 12 - Bookish

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts on my lunch walk today* and it was all about resolutions and the panelists' success, or lack thereof (mainly lack thereof), with their 2013 resolutions.  It occurred to me that for years my resolutions have been all about health and fitness, which is fine, but maybe I should be resolving to do something to better myself in a more cerebral way.

So here's my second resolution of 2014: I resolve to read one book per month.

If my grandma just read that she is shocked and appalled.  Yes, I am still the same person who used to come visit her for a few weeks every summer with a bag that weighed 100 pounds because it was filled with all the books I would read on vacation.  And I usually bought a couple more while I was there.

For some reason, I have fallen out of the habit of reading books.  I still buy books and start many, but I'm not sticking to them.  Except for Unbroken.  That was a page-turner that I could not put down.

I have a stack of books on my shelves to get through, and a couple of new books on my Kindle that are unread.  I'm in the middle of two books right now and I'm really enjoying them both, but I'm not taking the time to actually finish them.  So right off the bat, I resolve to finish at least one of them by January 31.  Even if I just read a couple of pages a night before I drift off to sleep, books will be read!

That will mean that my Nexus tablet will be turned off long before I turn off my bedside lamp.  No more last-minute Facebook discussions and Scramble games.  I will be improving my brain!

* Did you notice how I slipped that in?  The lunch walks are back!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 10 - Strength and Carbs

I'm pleased that on the day I returned to strength training class after a very, very long absence, the teacher decided to tailor it just for me.  Seriously, today was my ideal class.  Lots of abs, some triceps and biceps, some quads and glutes.  I am a rock star when it comes to ab exercises, for which I credit swimming for many years.  Except for plank, that is.  We did 3, 1 minute 20 second planks and I couldn't hold them for very long.  However, I blame the slippery floor (toes sliding out from under me) and my weak elbows for that, rather than my core.  I assume as I lose weight, it won't hurt my elbows quite so much to hold plank.

Hopefully I won't be too sore and can elliptical tomorrow.  I should probably elliptical anyway since I'm sure it will help work out some of the muscle soreness.  My plan is to elliptical 3 times this week and go back for more strength class on Friday.

On Saturday I had a planned diet deviation and I really suffered for it.  We went up to Cambridge for a music festival all day Saturday and it's tradition every year to go to a Mexican place there with friends.  My entrĂ©e was ok on the carbs, but I planned to, and I did, indulge in the chips and salsa. I've always said that I don't react strongly to corn, but I think I might have been overly optimistic.

By the time we left the restaurant, I was starting to feel bloated.  We went to the festival's closing concert and two hours later when we left for home, I felt like my whole body had puffed up to double its size.  Not only that, but an hour into the closing concert I suddenly felt insanely tired.  Even with all the noise, I could have fallen asleep right there.  The next morning it was so hard to get up.

I know I've written about these experiences before, but I keep writing them down in the hopes that they will sink in, and also act as evidence to myself that I really do have extreme reactions to grains.

Yesterday was a stellar food day and today is on track so far as well.  I just feel so much better eating this way!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 7 - Back to the Gym

That's right, I finally made it to the gym this morning, only 4 days after I originally planned.  Not only that, but when I walked outside I realized it was snowing pretty hard.  The snow had just started so the road was fairly slick, but by the time I finished my workout, there was about an inch and a half of snow on the ground and not a plow to be seen.  That was a tricky drive home...

I think I should get extra points for that.

I ellipticaled for 30 minutes, which isn't much, but it's a start.  I sweated a little and breathed heavily and realized I have a long way to go to get back in shape.

The bad part about becoming a regular at the Y is that if you disappear for a few months, they notice.  I felt kind of sheepish when the women at the front desk greeted me with a cheery, "Welcome back!"

I'm determined not to disappear again!

Thursday, January 09, 2014


I love eggs. Sometimes I get tired of them, but generally speaking I eat them pretty reliably for breakfast almost every day.  Just this morning I had 2 eggs scrambled in some butter with a couple ounces of leftover chicken breast and a bit of feta cheese on top.  Delicious!

Now that we get eggs in our weekly farm share, I enjoy them even more.  Fresh eggs are fantastic.

A couple of years ago when I went to a nutritionist to try to figure out why I wasn't losing any weight (Spoiler: she didn't help) she looked horrified that I might eat 3-4 eggs per morning when I was swimming 2500-3000 yards before breakfast.  I never could quite figure out why, other than a lingering fear that dietary cholesterol has anything to do with blood cholesterol.  (She had other ideas that didn't quite add up in my mind.)

Well, I have news for that nutritionist.  I had some blood work done recently and despite the whole needing to lose weight thing, all of my numbers are pretty great.  Cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar - all good.  If anyone has eaten enough eggs to impact cholesterol, it would be me over the last couple of years.  So after my own unofficial n=1 experiment, I feel pretty safe in continuing to eat my eggs.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Day 4 - How It's Going

It's going pretty okay actually.  Not perfect.  Yesterday I had a meeting after work that happens every month and sometimes lasts until past 9 PM and is usually very, very dull.  So I ordered a Diet Coke as soon as I got there.  I also ate some mashed potatoes and berries because that's what we were served (and chicken and broccoli.  I did not eat the roll.  Victory!).

My sugar/grain/caffeine withdrawal has not been as extreme as in the past.  I chalk that up to me eating pretty healthy during the fall.  It's amazing how thinking there's another person depending on the nutrients in your body makes you clean up your dietary act pretty quickly.  As of the end of November, though, all bets were off and I descended into a caffeine and sugar-fueled spree.  Still, having only a month to detox from versus several months or a year has made this pretty painless.  I had a brief headache Saturday evening and just wanted to fall asleep by about 6 PM, and I've felt pretty drowsy for the past 3 days, but today I've reached the magical Day 4.

Day 4 is always my day for feeling great when I do one of these detoxes.

Exercise is not going so well.  The past 2 nights I have diligently prepared my bag so that I could get ready for work at the gym, laid out my workout clothes so I could grab them in the dark, and set everything I would need for the day by the front door, ready to go.  And the past 2 mornings I haven't made it to the gym.  Yesterday, I woke up at 4 AM, stayed awake for an hour and a half, and then fell back to sleep just in time for my 5:45 alarm to go off.  Then I realized it was pouring rain outside.  Never mind, it's only Monday.  I still have 5 more days in this week.

This morning I woke up just before my alarm and it was 9 degrees out, with a wind chill of -5.  I could hear the wind whistling around the house.  It was still pitch black out.  Yeah, no.  I still have 4 more days in this week.

When I woke up for real I remembered I have an early meeting in Boston on Friday, so really only 3 days left in the week.  Still, I can walk the mile from the train station to the office in Boston, right?  That will count for something.

So I'm basically to the point where tomorrow it is mandatory that I go to the gym.  I think it's supposed to be a bit warmer tomorrow morning (though still pitch black), which will help a little.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Obligatory Resolutions Post

Like everyone else in the world, I'm making some resolutions for the new year.  I'm usually pretty good with sticking to resolutions and challenges, at least in the short term.  It helps to have goals and end points and rewards here and there so that I have a defined structure, rather than this vague idea of "This is how I'm living my life forever starting today!!!!"  Which is all well and good, but for me winds up being an unrealistic way to frame things in my head.

These past few months have been a bit of a roller coaster, emotionally and physically.  For those who didn't see my last couple of posts, I had a miscarriage at the beginning of December.  I had just passed 12 weeks, but we had known since 9 1/2 weeks that the pregnancy wasn't viable.  I had grand plans to keep being active and at least go for a walk most days during the first trimester, but the nausea and fatigue quickly made that just a pipe dream.  Then I was sad and just didn't feel like doing much while I healed.  I still feel sad at times, but it's getting better. Now, a month later, I finally feel relatively normal again.

So I'm ready to set some goals and get going.  I'm really frustrated with how I look (double chin) and feel (uncomfortable in my own skin) right now.  I've never been a picture avoider, but while we were in Utah with the in-laws for Christmas, I realized that I really don't want any documentation of how I look right now.  Sad, right?  I've gained back all the weight I lost several years ago, plus about 10 more pounds for good measure.  I have truly accepted that because of my build, I'll never be skinny, but I don't want to be obese either.  I love when I feel strong, and have defined muscles in my arms and legs and back.  I want to get back to feeling sort of like an athlete again.

So here's the plan.

Step 1 - Sugar detox.  I am so over-sugared right now, thanks to the holidays.  One good side effect of the nausea/pregnancy hormones was that I had zero sweet tooth.  It was kind of remarkable.  Jason and I went apple picking and he made a few apple pies over the next few weeks and then wound up eating most of them himself because I just didn't want more than a piece here or there.  At the same time, I could not get enough salt.  Like, I probably would have been happy if Jason had bought me a salt lick.  Anyway, last month my sweet tooth came back with a vengeance.  Coupled with crazy hormones, a tiny bit of depression and the holiday free for all, I'm pretty sure my pants are tighter now than they were a month ago. 

So starting tomorrow (Saturday), I'm cutting out the carbs - no sugar, no grains.  If we get invited to someone's house for dinner, I'm not going to turn up my nose at something they make, but my goal is to eat protein, fat and vegetables.  I'm going to do the first 2 weeks as a super low carb start, like Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, which I've done several times before.  Saturday is a good day to start in case I have withdrawal headaches or just generally feel yucky.

Step 2 - Maintain Paleo/Primal diet.  After the first 2 weeks, I'll work some sweet potatoes and other root vegetables back in.  It is winter, after all, and we'll have a winter farm share starting up soon that will be giving us lots of roots (and probably some greenhouse greens).  I haven't noticed a dairy sensitivity, so I'll keep dairy in my diet.  However, if I find I don't lose weight (which has been a problem for the last few years), I'll experiment with cutting out dairy.

Step 3 - Institute a once a month Cheat Day.  Many people have opined on the Cheat Day and whether it's a good practice or not.  All I know is that when I know there's a Cheat Day coming, it's much easier for me to forego a treat when it's staring me in the face.  I say to myself, "I won't eat it now, but when Cheat Day comes, I can have it."  As the months pass, not only does it become easier for me to not eat the crap, but I find I want much less of it on Cheat Day.  For instance, in the past, I have devoured a pint of Ben and Jerry's on my first Cheat Day, but by month 5, I couldn't eat more than half a pint without feeling ill.  It's totally a crutch, and I embrace that.

(At this point, I've been so inactive for so long that I'm a little scared about how much it's going to hurt when I start exercising again.  But it's a good pain, right?)

Step 1 -  I am declaring for all the world that exercise begins Monday with a gradual cardio increase.  Yeah, it's freaking cold outside (although it's supposed to be warmer on Sunday), but this is the time that I need to start getting in shape for beach/kayak/open water swim times in the Summer.  So I'm hitting the elliptical next week.  I'm going to shoot for 4 days of ellipticaling next week.  Long-term I will aim for 3-4 days of cardio per week.

Step 2 - Strength training.  Time to go back to the MWF strength training class at the Y, starting Monday after next (the 13th).  Long-term I will aim for at least 2 days of strength training per week.

Step 3 - Swimming.  To be implemented in February when it will still be freaking cold but maybe won't be quite so freaking dark in the mornings.  I'm still having pain in my right shoulder, which is baffling considering how little it has been doing lately.  I have to confess that I'm a bit terrified that it's a chronic issue and is going to seriously inhibit how much I can swim for the rest of my life.  My mom has severe rheumatoid arthritis and I would be lying if I said that the idea of this pain being the beginning of something like that hasn't crossed my mind.  So I will elliptical and I will strength train and if the shoulder still hurts by the end of January, I will go to the doctor and try to figure out what's going on. 

Step 4 - Walking.  I joined a 10,000 steps per day challenge several months ago and until I got sidelined by an illness, it was amazing the machinations I went through to ensure I got 10,000 steps per day.  One night I got home from a meeting and was still severely short, so I went for a 3 mile walk at 9 PM.  I'd like to challenge myself like that again in the next couple of months, but it's difficult when there's snow and ice on the ground to get it done reliably.  I'll save the challenge for, say, March, but in the meantime, I'll take advantage of the warmer Winter days and head outside for a walk as much as possible.

All of my goals are perfectly reasonable and doable.  I'm trying to not be too crazy and just work on getting myself more healthy and gradually losing weight.  Let's do this!