Lessons Learned – A New Year Do-Over

Yes, I wussed out again. Remember when I told you about the girl that I work with who does CrossFit? And how excited I was about it? And how I was going to renew my focus on being able to do CrossFit in the new year? That was great, and a great feeling, but great feelings can’t get you through a workout. As some of you know, I have been doing CrossFit workouts at home for about six months now, although not all that consistently. The day after I posted that post, I looked up the workout for CrossFit Greensboro. It was a Saturday, and I was pumped.

Until I saw the workout: 800 m run? How far is 800 meters?

I pulled out Google and looked it up. And my heart sank: 800 meters is roughly half a mile.

Now, I’ve never been all that big into running. I have several family members who do the long distance running thing, and I have sat back in awe that anyone can do that, while secretly wishing that I could do it too. My second foray into a CrossFit gym had me walk out of the gym, completely worn out, after a half mile run. And that was just the warm up that day! I just don’t have the stamina and endurance to do it. Let’s face it – I’ve been sitting on the couch for seven years now. Stamina and endurance have a tendency to disappear when you do that.

Of course, there was more to the workout, and I considered dropping the running part and just doing the rest. 50 pull ups, 100 push ups, 150 squats. Oh, and then we were supposed to run another 800 m.

I debated dropping the running and doing the rest. I debated riding down the road to this gravel track nearby, doing the running, coming home to do the rest, and driving back out there to do the second run. I weighed it all. And then I stopped and got completely honest with myself. Do I really want to walk into a gym where they expect you to do these kind of runs every now and then, knowing full well that I simply can’t do it? One of the reasons why I walked out of the gym the last time was because I was so completely embarrassed by my performance. Do I want to put myself through that again? Is it worth it?

I weighed it all week, although not entirely seriously. I talked to the girl and told her that I planned on coming. I worked the cost into my budget. I stopped thinking about it. And then I talked to another friend of mine who I used to go to a different gym with. She told me how much I had inspired her to get busy in the gym. She’s been going all year. She hasn’t gotten hung up on what gym to go to and what workout to do. She has simply been going and getting it done.

I went to my old gym with her yesterday, and I have to say that I have missed it. I downloaded the “Couch to 5K” app on my phone so that I can work on my running, stamina, and endurance in a place where I won’t feel intimidated and embarrassed. I did my first workout with it yesterday, and it was really all that I needed. A structured running workout that I can restructure to my pace, because even that workout will get to be too much for me in about a week. And this morning I did some squats, and you know what? I realized that I don’t need a CrossFit gym to do this. I can tell that I am doing the squats right now. I am getting better at it. I have been working on my squats for an entire year on my own, and I am conquering them on my own. It took a while, but when I noticed that my center of gravity was different going down into the squat than it used to be and that I was getting lower into the squat than I used to, I was so proud of myself. Because I did that all by myself. Shoot, I’m getting choked up just writing about it, because that has been my goal for an entire year, and this morning I knew that I had reached it.

I told my friend yesterday that she ended up inspiring me just as much as I inspired her. I need to quit trying to make this so hard and just get out there and do what I can do. Every trip to the gym is a victory, and when a milestone is reached like the one I reached this morning, it is an even bigger victory. There are ways that I can identify goals that I want to reach, but I don’t need the name and the big, expensive gym to reach them. I just need patience and dedication. And I have shown myself that I really do have that. I told my fiancé yesterday about my friend saying how much I inspired her, and I asked him why it has been so hard for me to inspire myself. Well, now I see how that works, and I see the bigger picture.

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Letting Go of the Pity Party

So I was thinking about my last post – I have been thinking about it since I wrote it – and it hit me all of the sudden: “Geez! You are being so WHINY!” I mean, I have been doing this diet since September, fully planning on making it a permanent part of my life. I was going to the gym regularly – I’m not sure why I stopped. I’ve lost almost forty pounds and have had a level of commitment that I’m not sure I’ve ever had before… and all I can do is whine about my upcoming vacation?!

Really, after I thought about it, I was really mad at myself. I mean, how can I talk like that after everything I have done to be successful? Am I really going to let a weekend trip bend me out of shape that much? The answer, of course, is

NO

So today I decided to stop the pity party. That really was what it was; I haven’t lost any weight in a couple of months and I haven’t really taken the time to figure out why. I have probably done what many others have done throughout the winter and let some things slide that I normally wouldn’t have. I think that my focus needs to change from pity-party central to trying to clean up my diet. I have thought about doing a Whole 30, but I think I can clean up my act pretty well without that. I went shopping today after browsing Chowstalker.com, so I have food for the week.

I also found Everyday Paleo  Lifestyle and Fitness. I have a feeling that this site is going to be my saving grace. I think that the whole Crossfit debacle was a total downer for me (probably part of my mental problem), but this site lists workouts that seem very similar to Crossfit workouts, but they have a beginner’s level! Meaning that I can work my way up the the intense Crossfit stuff. They even have tests for you to do in the beginner level so that you can tell whether or not you are ready to go on the the next level. I am very excited about starting that this week, as well as cleaning up my eating.

So tonight I made Stuffed Peppers and they are awesome (I say they are awesome because I am eating them right now). Tomorrow I am going to be working on 5-Spice Slow-Cooker Pork Ribs (although I went to EarthFare with the express purpose of buying some coconut aminos, but walked out of the store with a lot of other stuff – and no coconut aminos). My biggest problem is finding stuff to munch on, since I seem to be hungry a lot lately, but I will figure that out, too. I am going to clean it up and pay attention to my body, and hopefully soon I will have a very positive update on weight loss or a pant size lost or something like that! At the very least I can talk about how much better I feel.

My Cheating Heart

Okay, I have a confession to make. Last week was a rough week. I have had SO many wonderful things happening that I had to cut some things loose, which broke my heart (although this week I have found out that I didn’t really cut them loose at all). By the end of the week I was ready for a stress-free weekend – meaning no work, no school, no extra-curricular planning for the teacher trainings that I am going to do… and no stressing out over the diet. I pretty much ate whatever I wanted except for the bread, rice, pasta, or potatoes. And I loved every bite of it.

This week has been rough, of course, as my body tries to rid itself of all of the sugar that I inevitably ate over the weekend. I’m sure there was other stuff in all of that food that I ate, too, but I do have to say that I needed that plunge. I was happy that I was able to keep my self-control enough to not be tempted by the bread and things like that – especially since the biscuits and gravy seemed to be calling my name at Golden Corral on Sunday morning.

As I reflect on the weekend and how proud of myself I am, as well as taking mental notes on the hell my body is going through right now as it recovers, I am getting a little worried about the annual vacation that my fiance and I take each May. I’m not incredibly worried about anything except the very first meal that we are going to have, which will be at a little seafood joint in Wilmington. If I remember correctly, they don’t have a lot of broiled or grilled anything on their menu. Last year I caved so bad at the same restaurant – the first meal of the vacation. But last year in May I wasn’t on the Paleo diet, I didn’t have the conviction behind me because I hadn’t been able to observe how my body handles some foods. I was on a regular low-carb diet then, still eating dairy and probably a lot of other things that I have found since then do my body incredible damage. My self-control was lower than it is now because I was eating things that was causing my body to crave other things. That isn’t happening since I have found out what my body can handle and what it can’t.

Usually I don’t let it stress me so much, but sometimes I go into the annual vacation thinking, “It is vacation! Eat what you want and then come back and get over it!” However, I know how hard it is to start over on this diet. I know that once you eat the carby food, you crave more and it could snowball – especially since I have been so addicted to carbs my whole life. I know how hard it is to start over, and I know how rough that two week period where your body heals and gets rid of the crap is (I’m going through it again right now!). I don’t think I could allow myself to go into this vacation and eat whatever I want, especially since I have made such great progress.

I guess part of my problem is that I know that it is going to be hard to plan for everything, but at the same time I know how great my self-control and motivation has been. I know that I will probably be fine, but I want to be able to enjoy myself and have my fiance enjoy himself while we are on the vacation. I know that enjoying myself doesn’t have as much to do with the food, and that I can get through the vacation on the 80%-20% rule – although I’m really not sure what the 80%-20% rule is. Maybe it is exactly how I ate over this past weekend. If it is, I think that I will probably be fine.

Crossfit Workout #2

I am actually sitting in the parking lot outside of the Crossfit gym as I type this, waiting for my third class to start. I figured that I could pass the time by posting about my second class.

First of all – OMG I am so tired! I am so tired that I called the coach while I was on my lunch break to see what I needed to do to cancel, but talking to him actually made me feel better so here I am: sitting in the parking lot. I know that I wouldn’t be nearly this tired if I weren’t in such bad shape, and knowing that is actually pretty good motivation for me to continue on.

The workout on Wednesday was not quite the same as the one on Monday. The same key points were hit, but we played around with different equipment and the WOD was different. It was more fun, too, because it wasn’t my first time there so I didn’t feel completely out of my element. Mostly, but not completely. It also made me look forward to what they are going to do tonight, because I know that they aren’t going to do the same thing.

I do still feel like I am getting a cold, and the feeling is worse than it was before. Yet another reason, maybe, to not go in those doors tonight, but this is my last foundation class and then I can spend the whole weekend sleeping if I want to. So I am going to tough it out and get through it and then next week I will be taking level 1 classes, which is exciting.

I actually dreamed about bread last night for the first time since I posted about dreaming about bread. This Crossfit stuff is definitely affecting me in weird ways. It was good bread, too – that warm Italian bread like they serve at Carrabba’s, but it was made into a sandwich. I guess that since I’m tired from working out, my body feels the need to throw a sugar tantrum.

The Best Thing I’ve Done

I have determined that the best thing that I have done on this diet is cooking all of my meals ahead of time, from scratch. I have been going to the grocery store across the street from where I work and getting a few pieces of their baked chicken every day: “Three baked thighs, please.” The hot bar at the grocery store broke the week before last, so they pre-packaged all of the baked chicken. This is how I found out that the baked chicken had sugar added. Sugar really seems to be my mortal enemy, because I have noticed that I haven’t been sleeping as well (although that is the only thing that I have noticed). I really didn’t think that I was having that issue. My weight loss had stopped, which was aggravating, but it wasn’t creeping upward, so I didn’t think about sugar.

This week I have eaten nothing but food that I prepared over my long weekend, and I can tell a huge difference in how I feel. I have lost two more pounds, and I am sleeping fantastically. My motivation to work out has returned. I went to the gym last night, and I am still thinking about trying Crossfit.

All of these things make cooking ahead the best thing that I have done. It will require more work during the weekend, but I am willing to bet that I am saving money as well as getting my weight loss and motivation back on track.

One thing that I did make this week was mashed cauliflower. My fiancé and I used to get the bags of steam-in-the-bag garlic cauliflower for mashed cauliflower, but once I was eating Paleo we couldn’t because it has sugar in it. So I took a head of cauliflower and cut it into florets and stem pieces. I threw it in my steamer with some minced garlic and steamed it all for about 10-15 minutes. Then I threw it all in the food processor with a little bit of butter and some salt. That was some of the best mashed cauliflower that I have ever had; it tasted a lot like what I used to make, but it was creamier.

I Did It!

Yes, I did it. I made it  to my goal of being under 200 lbs. before New Year’s.

What a great feeling! This is the first time that I have seen a one at the beginning of my weight since I was pregnant with my second child six years ago. So I am definitely celebrating today!

But while I am celebrating, and since it is almost New Year’s, I think that it is time to reflect on some of the things that I have learned these past six months. Learning is all about reflection, after all, and this process has definitely been a learning process. So here are some of the things I have learned:

1. Eat.

I recently wrote about my weight loss slowing down, and how aggravated I was about it. After I wrote that post, I  began counting my calories so that I could figure out what was going on. On the first day that I counted, I only ate a little over 1400 calories – a number that seems almost impossible to me! I don’t think I have eaten that few amount of calories voluntarily…ever! Then I started looking at my habits. I had begun to skip breakfast because my mornings are so busy. I would make breakfast, but then I wouldn’t eat it until lunch because of all the running around I was doing. You would think that I know better than that! I believe that was what has accounted for the majority of my issues when it comes to consuming too little food. I have had a little down time this past week, so I have begun trying to come up with a new plan for when school starts next week!

2. Eat Your Vegetables.

Especially when doing Paleo! I got sick a few days before Thanksgiving – nausea, diarrhea, no energy. When my daughter got sick with salmonella a few days later, I thought that was what I had experienced. But a few weeks later, I got sick again in the exact same way! So I pulled out my Paleo Diet Book to try to find some answers – and find answers I did! Apparently, if you eat too much protein without vegetables or fats to go with it, you will get sick – with diarrhea, nausea, and no energy. My days of skipping to the grocery store for a rotisserie chicken and nothing else have been over ever since, and I have been trying to find some new, yummy things to put on my salad to add more flavor. My current favorites are a basil-infused olive oil that I found, and red wine vinegar. I have also added more avocados to my diet – I can’t get enough of those, anyway! Last night I made up a double batch of Garden Fresh Meatballs so that I will have something to fall back on when I get tired of the salads. I will let you know how well they come out after being frozen!

3. Listen to your body.

I have been repeatedly laughed at and made fun of for some of the things that I have become very hard-core about since starting this diet. Like, I won’t eat anything if it has any type of sugar in it. I have found out from experience that even the smallest amount of sugar will give me GI problems that cause a lot of pain and heartache (or stomachache, actually). It isn’t worth it. I read the hell out of labels to make sure that there are no hidden starches or sugars in anything. The bloating, pain, and other things aren’t worth it to me, either. Sometimes I eat something that causes the scale to tick up slightly, but as long as I think that the splurge is worth it in the long run, it is okay. I definitely stay away from wheat and bread products. I inadvertently ate a cracker one day at the farmer’s market and I was so sleepy and run-down for two days! That is definitely not worth it! I have found out that my body can handle sweet potatoes pretty well, so I have added them to my diet – not an every day thing, but I will eat one every now and then.

4. Variety is the Spice of Life

I have been on the lookout for some new recipes, because we all get tired of the same old thing over and over again. I have found that I can take a lot of recipes, use different spices in them, and have a totally cool new eating experience. I did this last night with my Garden Fresh Meatballs. I have found that altering recipes just slightly to please my taste buds goes a long way in determining whether or not I am satisfied – as in, I don’t desire anything else to eat when I am done eating. I have modified so many recipes in this way, from the Crusty Chicken recipe (which is actually a fusion of two other, different recipes), to the Best Chili Ever recipe, which I have to modify because it didn’t agree with my stomach at all (it sure did taste good, though)! I am also trying to figure out a way to modify my salmon, because I eat that a lot for breakfast, but it really is getting old.

5. Lift weights.

One thing that has amazed me since I started this is how much stronger I am. I haven’t been doing any cardio since I read the “Body by Science” book, and I have enjoyed my workouts so much more because of it! It really is fun to go and lift, and when you realize that it is time to add more weight, it is super exciting! I wish that I had written down what weights I started with when I started lifting, but all I know now is that I love going to the gym, and I love that my workout is so short – just 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how motivated I am. When someone mentions doing cardio when they are with me at the gym now, I cringe and try to get out of it any way that I can. I did get on the elliptical machine a few weeks ago, and I was amazed at how much better I did on that machine than I did before I started lifting. I can definitely tell that I am stronger! I have no idea how much muscle I have gained, but it doesn’t matter – all that matters is that I fit into my clothes better!

6. Sometimes the “Experts” Have It Right – They Just Have the Wrong Starting Point

I have seen or heard many things that have come out of expert’s mouths that have actually sounded common-sense to me lately, but only if you think about it in the context of a Paleo diet. When I think about them in terms of SAD (Standard American Diet), they make no sense at all. I’m talking about the studies that say “Eating this or that can help prevent this or that disease” or things like that. I am going to have to start keeping up with these things that I hear, because I can’t think of a single specific one now that I am trying to write about it, and it would be fun to put them in their own blog post.

I am so excited looking forward into the New Year – excited about all of the things that I can accomplish now that I have accomplished this. This is so huge to me, because I have been trying to accomplish it for about two years now! And with this new lifestyle, I accomplished it in three months! I went through all of my “skinny” clothes yesterday – I haven’t done that in a LONG time, and there were clothes in there that I had forgotten about! It was so much fun going through those clothes and knowing that it really is possible to be wearing them again! And that is my next goal, to be able to fit into those clothes again! It will happen in this coming year, and I am excited about sharing the journey to get there!

Back to Basics Update

In my last post I discussed how I figured out that the breakfast sausage that my fiance and I bought from the farmer’s market had sugar in it, and that I had been eating it every day. I knew something was wrong but I thought that it was just stress – I’ve had a lot of stress the past few weeks. My last day eating the sausage was Wednesday, and I can tell you that I’ve seen a marked difference in how I feel.

First off, I don’t feel stressed. Well, right this second I don’t feel stressed. I still have all of the stressors that I had Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday, but I feel better. I think that this has to do with sleep. I know that I wasn’t sleeping all that great, especially the week before last. I hadn’t woken up at three o’clock in the morning due to stress in a long time, but I did the week before last. Several nights in row, I might add. My body has been playing catch-up this weekend; my fiance and I were supposed to go to the gym yesterday and I told him that I couldn’t – I was just too tired. I took a nap instead, and I felt great when I woke up. I also got my eight hours of sleep last night virtually uninterrupted, and I feel so much better this morning.

I was cranky, bitchy, and all sorts of frazzled that I haven’t felt since I started this diet. And I hadn’t lost a single pound.

Well, I’ve lost two pounds since Thursday. I don’t feel bloated any more. That is one thing that I’ve loved about this diet from the beginning; I’m still way overweight, but I’m not bloated so I feel skinny all the time! I have felt fat for about two weeks now, and that has been driving me crazy, too.

Basically I have found that for my body, it doesn’t take much. That sausage didn’t have heaping amounts of sugar in it, but eating it every day caused my body to go haywire. My poor fiance has taken the brunt of it with my crabbiness and bitchiness and loss of sleep, and I know that he’s going to be glad when I get things back under control. I will be, too. I hate feeling like that and treating everyone around me like that.

So it’s back to fish for breakfast for me, which is fine because I missed my fish and vegetables. I will be going shopping today to stock back up, and you’d better believe that I will be paying closer attention to labels when it comes to both sugar and grains. It wasn’t that long ago that I had that cracker incident at the farmer’s market! (Basically I took a goat cheese sample on a cracker without thinking about it and ate it. I was exhausted for two days and my stomach was messed up, too.) Knowing how these things affect my body is a huge motivation for me to stay with this very long term – who wants to feel like a tired bitch all the time! The benefits of this diet are just too numerous for me to even consider going back to the way I was eating before.

On another note, I took my measurements this past weekend: I’ve lost 22 inches! and a total now of 21 pounds! I am absolutely amazed at my progress – yet another measure of the benefits of eating this way. I have been doing well at the gym – still no cardio, but lifting weights two or three times a week. So far it is all coming together and I am making gains that I could have only dreamed about.