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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

my morning struggle

I had a Frankenfood today, first thing in the morning. A Frankenfood is a genetically modified food, but in this case, I'm defining it as a food that you're consuming and you're not even sure what you're really eating. They often have tons of ingredients you can't pronounce. And while they resemble a real food, it relies on food substitutes and additives to give it flavor, texture, color, etc.

I had to get gas this morning and while I was at the gas station I picked up an iced coffee.
This iced coffee from Bean Street Coffee and Gate gas stations.

My first problem was that I decided to get food from a gas station. Michael Pollan warned me against this, but I'm weak in the morning.

If I had any sense, I would have made my own iced coffee the night before. But I had a night out with some friends and didn't plan a single thing for today, including breakfast, lunch, and gym clothes. I'm so bad at planning, I think it's best to not leave my house after I get home from work, just so I can plan for the next day, but what type of life would that be?

My first sign should have been the spew of powder that came out of the coffee machine. It seemed consistent with hot chocolate mix. Then cold, milky-looking liquid mixed with it. I took a sip and quickly noticed this did not taste like coffee. It also didn't taste like milk or even any type of sugar I have had before, but it was sweet. They certainly relied on sugar to mask the chemically taste of whatever else they put in said coffee.

And I drove on to work, sipping my radioactive "coffee" (note: I haven't been able to find nutritional info online), I got really depressed. Because I do this every morning. 

Each morning I wake up in search of my coffee fix. Since I like espresso and don't have my own machine, I usually do Starbucks or Panera espresso drinks which are loaded with calories and chocolate syrups with an ingredient list miles long. I'll occasionally brew my own, but I hate cleaning out the coffee maker (don't ask, weird pet peeve), so I like to avoid it. 

It's gotten to the point that I feel guilty, or silly, or a mixture. How many plastic Starbucks cups have I thrown away? And coffee drinks are approx. $4. After three weeks sans coffee I could be saying hello to a new pair of shoes. Also, going to places like Starbucks, Panera, or worse, the doughnut shop that serves the best iced coffee, I'm tempted and often cave to sweet morning pastries.

Many people find it easy to eat very healthy in the morning, but it's the hardest meal of the day for me. I'm frequently unprepared, impatient, and groggy, also picky. I prefer cooked foods to cold things, which makes my breakfast search more of a challenge.

So I'm thinking maybe I should just stop with the coffee. I would have more time to focus on creating a better breakfast. My teeth would be whiter (!). And I'd save some money. 

But I'm terrified. I don't know how long it's been since I've last had coffee.

Have you given it up? How was it? Also, what do you do for breakfast.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

small changes and vitamin D

A few months ago I was diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency. I follow a vegetarian diet and don't drink milk, so my doctor prescribed a supplement. After doing a little bit of research (thanks internet!), I discovered that Vitamin D comes from the sun, something my doctor failed to mention. He made it sound like it was because of my diet. Since I'm otherwise healthy, I just needed to add a little sunlight to my day. I was pretty embarrassed when I realized this. How awful is it that I don't get enough sunlight? So I stopped the supplements, and decided to spend at least 15 minutes outside a day. Sometimes I read, sometimes I eat dinner on my back porch, sometimes I exercise, and sometimes I just take a walk outside on a break at work.

Now that it's summer (I was diagnosed in winter), I'm dedicating my weekends to getting as much sunlight as possible. Which has led to some great weekends of kayaking, swimming, and tennis playing.

At my last blood check said my Vitamin D levels were normal.

I'm noticing some small changes that I'm very satisfied with. I attribute it to these lifestyle changes I've made:

In addition to the added sunlight, I've been trying to eat a healthy diet. It's so hard, but I can say for the first time in years (uh, ever?), I'm probably getting my five servings of fruits and veggies a day, every day. Sure, it is embarrassing to admit my past dietary habits. But I've come strides from my eating out every day, three meals a day behavior. Yes, I still eat out. But not nearly as much. Also, I've lost my taste for soda, which was a gift from God, because I wasn't sure how I'd ever stop drinking soda. I'm also exercising more than I've ever exercised in my life. Yes, last week I only worked out twice, which I wasn't happy about, but I'm blaming it on PMS. But most weeks, I'm doing at least 3 sessions at the gym, a yoga session or two, and then some other outdoorsy and active activity.

I'm not seeing the weight loss I'd like. Probably because I'm still addicted to cookies and cheese. But I am seeing some really nice changes that are making a difference in how I feel about myself and my body.

#1 - My hair has stopped falling out. Yes, this is a gross thing to share. I talked to my doctor about it and she said it was caused by stress. For the past four years, my hair has been falling out nonstop. Luckily, I have a lot of it. A few weeks ago I was trying to do my hair and it felt really thick. Then today in the shower, I realized I wasn't losing any hair. How long has it been since I last noticed a lot of hair falling out? I'd guess a few months.

#2 - My skin looks radiant. I'm almost offended no one has said anything. But I looked at myself in the mirror today and I actually smiled at myself. Hey, look at that girl with glowing skin. My pimples have cleared up and I just have a nice glow, which may be because of #3.

#3 - I'm happier. I got off of my anti-depressants a few months ago. I was worried it was going to be a rough transition, but it hasn't been so bad. My doctor was in a little disbelief when I told her I'm happier now than I have been the past year on medication. Not much else has changed except my diet, exercise, and sunlight.

Those are a few of the small changes I've seen in my health journey. In case you're wondering, I've lost weight the past two weeks in a row, but not much. The past two weeks I've been involved in the 52 Days till Summer Challenge.
5/9 Weigh-In: - .8 lbs
5/16 Weigh-In: - .4 lbs
I've lost a total of 4.2 lbs. I really hope something changes in my metabolism soon. I'd like to lose around a pound each week.

Monday, May 9, 2011

just a small update

I always feel so inspired to write in this blog after I workout. I went to the gym on my lunch break, which I try to make happen every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I didn't do as well as I'd have liked to do. Since my one-mile run, it's been an embarrassing week. I still haven't been able to run a mile since. Has this every happened to you? You've hit a milestone and you have trouble making it to that milestone again? I wonder what causes this. Regardless, I did work out really hard, and I'm proud of myself for that.

I have a weight watchers meeting today, and I'm confident I've lost at least a pound. But I'm cheating, sort of, I haven't been to a meeting in two weeks.

My boyfriend bought a grill, and we basically consumed only grilled vegetables all weekend, and this will probably continue for the rest of the summer.

I've had some more time through my weight loss plan of action. And here are some goals I'm going to shoot for:

1. I created my first menu for the week and plan on sticking to it [sans weekends, see below.]
2. Go to yoga more than once a week. I just feel like once a week isn't helping me improve my flexibility. So this week I will go twice. I love yoga, but have no motivation to leave the house after I get home from work.
3. Work out at least one day on the weekend. Seriously, I have issues when it comes to the weekend. I eat and eat and drink and lose track of my goals. It's usually an all-out lush fest. I hope to tackle this problem sometime very soon.

Also, are you drinking your water? Because you should be. That stuff is delicious.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

52 Days of Summer Challenge

Hey, guess what! I like exercising! Seriously. I can't believe it. I would have never thought.
I've been exercising since August and it turns out, I really like it.
When I don't exercise, I'm cranky.
When I'm sitting at my desk at work, I feel antsy. I should be walking or jogging or skipping.
I used to dread it and only did it because I knew it was the healthy thing to do. But something changed and now I mourn the days spent sitting in front of my tv or computer screen.

Also, I'm participating in Dancing Through Life's 52 Days until Summer Competition.

Week one challenge:
Why the heck are you doing this?
  • Because I am young, and I should be in the healthiest shape of my life
  • Because I want to feel strong and improve my running
  • Because I am at the biggest pant size they make in regular stores, the next step is plus-size stores which are hard to find, expensive, and don't fit in length
  • Because I have a crazy fear that I will one day develop diabetes
  • Because I want to feel confident when I leave the house
  • Because I want to be in control of my life
How are you going to make it happen?
  • Track my food. Every day. Even if I'm ashamed of how I ate.
  • Work on breaking my sugar addiction.
  • Stop skipping yoga classes I plan on attending
  • Spend more time on planning out my day, so to be better prepared for meals, workouts, etc.
Those are just a few of my reasons and plans of action. I hope to be able make them into more specific goals.
Part Two of the challenge is to get moving. But I'm one step ahead.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Day of Winning

Saturday was my day, and I really needed it. Sometimes, it's just nice to know that there are days out there meant for you.

On Saturday, I ran my first mile! Win.

I've been running since August and have never been able to run a mile straight through without stopping. Sure, it's been a long time since August, but technically I gave up on the running endeavor a few times in between, and I would go many weeks without running.

Here's the deal, I started a running club back in August. I started with beginners, and we couldn't even run a whole lap. There was no pressure to be fast, and together we would work our way up to a 5K, running an additional quarter of a mile a week. But somehow, during the middle of the eight week session, they all started lapping me. I was always last. It was really discouraging and I started having anxiety attacks on the track (which were probably caused by the then undiagnosed exercise-induced asthma).

I remember one time, when I was so far behind, that my boyfriend (in the intermediate running group) came to look for me. The second-to-last person said she heard me gasping for air and was worried about me.

I joined this club with a bunch of my friends who were heavier than me, and I just couldn't understand why I wasn't making progress. I had this crazy notion that fat was the only determinate of physical fitness.

I started to resent running, even though I wanted to do it for a long time. I wanted to do it every day. I wanted to do it for long distances. I wanted  to feel a  "runners high." It was my idea to join the club, but everyone seemed to benefit from it except me. I eventually quit and, to this day, I still haven't completed a 5K.

I was pretty scarred from the group running experience, but I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started running slowly. I started on a treadmill, pretty isolated, at odd hours in my gym. I promised myself I would just do what I could, which was usually less than a lap (quarter mile). I looked at some Couch to 5K programs and adapted them to work for me. I had to spend about two weeks for every week of distance/time they suggest. Also, I consulted my doctor, which is when we realized I had exercise-induced asthma.

 This time, it took about two months of running three times a week to get to my first mile straight. Prior to that, I would usually do some type of interval (walk a lap, jog a lap). But once I was running more than a mile total (with walks in between), I knew it was time to attempt one straight through.

As I left the gym, sweaty and elated from my progress, I saw a sign that said "Free 15 Minute Massage." Win.