Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Old Habits, New Ways of Life

I had some awesome ideas on what to blog about today, but go figure, they literally flew out of my head.  So instead, I'm going to talk a little bit about how I'm trying to stay healthy with my new life.

When I joined my last job, I was more focused on the fact that I was working my first full time job and that I wanted to make a good impression.  My focus was entirely on my career, which was the right mindset...but it blew up in my face because I neglected everything else.

Over the course of two years, no joke, I gained nearly 20 pounds.  I can't even tell you how hard it is to write that.  We've all read those magazine articles about how if you do x (ex: drink a whole milk chai latte) x times a week (how about 3 times) over the course of x years (let's say 2), you will gain x pounds (how about 20?).  My downfall was not chai lattes (at least not totally), it was the general lifestyle where I didn't focus on the pizza, the happy hours, the venti coffee drinks...and then I woke up one morning (when I started this blog) and asked myself "what have you done?"  I lost 8 pounds.  Then I celebrated and crapped out.  Gained the 8 back, plus 1.

About the time that I began to realize I couldn't be happy and stay in my previous job, I also began to realize that I couldn't continue to treat myself the way I was treating myself.

You've read the story of how I managed to get through those months before I joined my new company, so now you know it's possible, but I was really worried about the transition.  As unhappy as I was, I had a schedule I knew how to maintain, but I also had horrible habits.

If I didn't get up to go to the gym, I was usually up about 15 minutes before I had to walk out the door.  I was hitting the right caloric intake, but at the risk of of getting the wrong nutrition.  How do you make a day's worth of food in 5 minutes?  Easy!  You throw a lean cuisine, a 100 calorie pack, and some other processed stuff into a bag and off you go.

I promised myself when I started this job that I would live my life in a way that I was enjoying it.  Every minute of it.

I have promised myself to do the following:
- Make a meal plan every weekend that does not involved processed food
- Wake up an hour before I have to leave
- Eat breakfast EVERY morning
- Make my lunch every day or have a plan if I have a client lunch meeting
- Make a gym schedule and stick to it (schedule must be flexible)
- Enjoy every meal that I eat (because calories suck if they taste bad)

I know it's only day three, but I've gotten up consistently an hour before I had to leave for work, gotten to work early for 30 minutes alone to have coffee and watch the news.  I made a menu plan, cooked on Sunday, and have stuck with it.  My gym schedule hit a bump tonight, but because it was flexible, I'm going tomorrow night and taking tonight to relax.

I have 8 pounds to go--I added two pounds to my goal weight loss, otherwise, I am proud to say that I've maintained my weightloss for the past two months and that as soon as I sign up for my trainer, I'll be back on track with all systems go to burn off 8 pounds by the middle of June.

I think the bottom line of this meandering post is this: if you're unhappy with where you are, nothing says you cannot change that.  I know that I need milestones to help me change things, but think about what it is that you're dissatisfied with.  Do you rush in the morning?  Skip the gym?  Rely on take out?  Make an action plan and change it, because from where I'm sitting, and maybe it's the new job talking (it's so awesome, btw, I love being there), but changing something that makes you unhappy, as small as it may be, magnifies in how happy it makes you when you change it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Links!

I'm back!  I have links for you!

15 Things You Wouldn't Want to See While Running a Marathon:  This is true.  So very very true.

How to Run Injury Free: On a more serious note, this is a great article about common running mistake (training too much, training too little, speed work mistakes, ignoring injuries) that if you've ever started to hurt while starting a running program, you're likely to find your mistake in this article.

Weekend Calories May be Wrecking Your Diet: SOOOO true.  I duno about you guys, but I'm a big fan of my wine on the weekends.  I've decided to be strong and go without alcohol Sunday-Thursday because it's useless calories.  This, of course, is likely to be negotiated through happy hours...but I digress.  Weekend calories.  We have time for breakfast, we have time to sit and talk over a nice dinner (appetizers, dinner, dessert, drinks), we get bored on Sunday afternoon and snack...the only things I don't like on their list are the "get up the same time you do during the week" bit because I'm a major catch-up sleeper and the one about weighing yourself frequently.  It's my personal belief that you can't really see weight loss over the course of a couple days, a week is about the right time to measure weight loss/gain since we can go between +/- 3 pounds in a day.

Weight Loss Quiz: Very very very interesting.  I didn't do terribly, but the nutrition questions were hit or miss on my answers.  The only question I disagree with is if it matters what time you finish eating dinner.  I don't think it matters, it just matters that you're not eating more than you normally would.  Calories in calories out.  What was your score?

I don't have recipes for this week, but I do have a link for you to this amazing cookbook:
Cooking Light: Cooking Through the Seasons

all I can say is that it's the most amazing cookbook ever.  Last night (and today's lunch) was the cavatappi pasta with arugula (subbed watercress since I got that at the market) pesto and cherry tomatoes.  Hello amazing.  The four recipes I've made out of this book in the past few days have been 100% amazing.

And that's it!  Enjoy you're Tuesday.  Update on my new job tomorrow.  Hint: it's pretty awesome.

Monday, April 26, 2010

First Day, New Changes

Today is the day to start new things.  At least in my world.

I got up this morning at quarter of 7 (despite a raging headache an a sleepless night...I guess that's what nerves do to you), my coffee had already brewed.  I had a banana and a piece of amazing homemade bread that my awesome dad made for me while I was at home, and walked around the apartment getting ready.

Today is my first day at my new job.  Technically, office hours are 8:30 to 6, but since I have to leave early sometimes to teach, I've decided to start getting here around 8.  I enjoyed my car ride over (though I'll likely hate the metro ride home since Chadd needs the car to get home), and I've been here for about 20 minutes so far.  

I actually have an office (with a door) and a big desk all to my own, a huge window at my back that overlooks the courtyard.  Life is feeling pretty good, to be honest.

I've decided that this is the time to make some big changes (though they're really not big in the scheme of things).  I'm going to get up an hour or so before I have to leave for the office (I only hit snooze 2x this morning as opposed to the typical 5-8 times), I will eat breakfast (especially since my RD is strongly urging me to do that), and I will take time to get ready the night before work so I'm not frantic the morning of.

Essentially, I'm going to start taking care of myself, pacing myself, and making this a lifestyle, not just another hellish project to get through.  Of course, that would be well and good if I had actually gone to bed early last night and slept well.  I stayed up way too late cooking (made lemon angel food cupcakes for my office...I know, suck up to the extreme, but they're only 140 calories!) and trying to relieve stress.  Then I tossed and turned all night.  I'm not actually sure I ever got deep sleep.  I wasn't too irritated since I was basically expecting to not sleep well.  I actually had a nightmare that I'd get to work and have nothing to do.  

Two hours later, my day feels slow mostly because I'm not usually at the office until 9 and adding another hour to my morning makes it seem like it's taking forever.  But at 8:30, my boss came in, seemed pleased to see me here already, then we all (three of us, 2 others on the phone) had a meeting, then we shot the breeze for a bit and 10am comes around and I have some reading material and a small task that will take me about a half day as soon as I have the info (likely this afternoon).

So far, so good.  I like where I am and if I hadn't had so much coffee this morning, I'd probably be 100% on top of the world.  

In other news....
My parents got me the most amazing cookbook when I was home.  It's the new Cooking Light Cooking Through the Seasons cookbook:

I tried three (yes, three) recipes last night.  And judging from how good they all are, I'm going to go ahead and say this cookbook is a must have in any kitchen.  

I'm having the Fresh Pea and Mint Soup for lunch with a small side salad and, later, for a snack, the Garlicky Lima Bean Spread (don't judge the limas, they're pretty good when ground into a paste and infused with garlic) and then, of course, the Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes which have so far passed the office taste test and made it into the email welcoming me to the firm.

It's a good day.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Second RD Appt and the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run

I met with my Registered Dietician (RD) last Thursday after many a rescheduled appointment.

I have to say, if you've never sat down with an R.D., stop what you're doing, stop reading this blog, and go make an appointment. Get 4 sessions, and trust me.

The last time I met with my RD, I had brought her a food diary from about a week to two weeks of eating.  I'm fairly meticulous with writing down what I eat, so that was the easy part.  We talked about my goals, my life style, and some general rules, then she asked me to write down the emotional feelings I had every time I ate until our next meeting.

While that went out the window when I got busy, I did make note of my emotions while eating enough that this picture became clear:

- I woke up not hungry (even before and after a morning workout), got the office and wanted a cup of coffee, no food.  Halfway into my coffee, I wanted to eat my desk and the hunger came out of no where.
- I ate again around 10:30 because I was starting to get the munchies.  Usually a piece of fruit cured this.
- Since my team tends to eat together at noon, I was never hungry at the beginning of lunch.  The hunger picked up halfway through lunch, then I finished ready for a food coma nap.
- 3:30 I get bored and want to snack.  Has to be a slow to eat food--popcorn, grapes, anything that requires time to eat.
- Not hungry when I get home and especially not hungry after I workout.  At all.  I have to force myself to eat after a workout.  But about an hour after my workout, again I am ready to destroy an entire pizza.

My RD and I went through discussing that pattern and it basically followed exactly what she suspected/had seen in my food log:

I'm not eating enough.  Hi, shocker!  I'm a really big proponent of calories in, calories out for weight loss and while it still holds through, I'm highly active and not fueling my body to that level. Am I starving myself?  No, but is my body going "eh, let's not burn off that fat, we're a little worried about our caloric intake?" in a word, yes.  It sounds a lot more like a bad thing than it actually is. 

Think about your body as a car.  Let's say that the gas tank can fuel for the energy needed for exactly 1 day, plus a little bit of top-off fuel.  When you wake up in the morning (start your car) without eating breakfast, you're essentially running on fumes till you hit the gas station (first meal).  If you're like me and try to get in a few morning workouts, you're running on fumes, then pushing your car to the gas station if you fail to eat before hand.

Of course, you want to fill up the gas tank all the way (stuffing yourself).  Same thing happens if you decide to put in more miles in a day than your gas tank can hold (second workout) and you wind up filling up again before you take your car home and putting it in the garage.

Essentially, I burn on fumes, over load on food, get really tired, burn all my food off again, then eat a ton or not at all, then pass out and repeat.  My consumption looked more like a tiny hill followed by a valley, then a big hill, a steep valley, a little hill, then a huge hill, then right back down and repeat.

My R.D. says that I need to fuel before and after my workouts and definitely eat a breakfast and fuel through my day.

I don't have the papers in front of me, but she outlined the amount of stuff I need to be getting in these food groups:
- Grains
- Protein
- Dairy
- Fruits
- Vegetables

It's a LOT of food.  I know she was thinking that I'd be mentally tabbing up the calories from a sample meal, so she said something that I guess I knew in the back of my mind, but hadn't actually fleshed out into full thought.

I might have been eating the right amount of calories, but the nutrients? Who knows. I mean, what do you REALLY get out of a 100 calorie pack of chocolate pretzels?  Probably not much.  So we turned the attention to what kind of calories I was actually eating.  Cutting out a lot of prepackaged frozen junk and turning to "whole" foods.

While I'll be eating a lot more food, I'll probably be eating the right amount of calories, with all the nutrients.  I added milk back into my diet, which hasn't been there in years.  My stomach and I are still trying to decide how this is going to work out, but it has been nice to induldge in a big frothy glass of milk, especially post workout for the perfect blend of carbs and protein (and it cuts off that huge hunger pang I have about an hour post workout).

I'll post the sample menu that my RD gave me when I get home.

We also talked about setting SMART goals.  I think I've talked about smart goals, so I won't go there again, but if you're interested, just google it.  We  wound up setting two SMART goals for me with three supporting goals.

I'll post those, too, when I get home so I make sure I have them down right. 

So far, so good. I'm on 5 of eating more like the way we discussed and I feel really full all the time and I have energy.  Double win.

In totally different news,

The Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run was this weekend.  This was my second 10 Miler, my first one, I came in with like a 1:26 something because I was running with my friend, Maureen, from work and she pushed the hell out of me. This year, by total accident, I ran into her among 15,000 people.  We wound up running together again, all the time pushing the other by total accident.  We each thought we were slowing up the other, so we kept pushing and pushing and pushing.  Before I knew it, we'd crossed 4, just after mile 5, I saw Chadd where I handed off my jacket, then 6, then 7 (oh man, just a 5k left), then suddenly 8 and we only had about 17 minutes left to endure.  Then 9 went by and holy moly there was a hill.  Maureen put the pedal to the medal, and amazingly, my legs kept up with her.  We crested the hill to see the arches were not exactly right around the bend.  Falling back a bit, we tried to pick up the pace again and flew through the finish line. 

Time: 1:21:29; Pace: 8:09

And just like that, another PR this year. 

I can tell you that one of the most beautiful sounds to me in the world is the sound of silence and a thousand runners shoes hitting the pavement all around you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A New Start!

Alright, I feel like I've been doing a lot of apologizing lately for being a bad blogger.  So one more final apology for neglecting the blog.  I've even been building up a ton of Tuesday links!

I said a few weeks ago that I might have big news to share, and I finally do and can finally share it.

Last Friday I gave my two weeks to my current employer because I received an offer from a PR firm in Northern Virginia who works with a wide array of clients, but really have a niche with the health/fitness/life sciences, medical, bio-tech folks. 

This is a big change in my life--I'm going from a big, international, very structured consulting firm to a small, informal PR firm.  I couldn't be more excited about it--my background is in public relations and clearly I have a love of all things health and fitness.  My new bosses joked about me leading Friday morning yoga, which I would never put my coworkers through...

Regardless.  I can't tell you what I'll be doing, because I'm not sure myself.  What I can tell you is that it will be different and it will be a step closer to what I love to do.

Tomorrow I promise, an actual health and fitness post!