Finals and Making Time For Things That Matter

I woke up Tuesday morning feeling the pressure that the day before a final exam often brings, and though I’m prepared I knew I’d spend a big part of my day studying.  And I did (with index cards and everything. ha)

If you know me, you may know that I often find clarity and peace when I’m sweating so before I hit the books, I hit the gym.  I did a 5k before working my upper body with free weights.  And I felt so much better when I left than I did when I arrived.

I was pretty pleased with my average heart rate too.

After my workout, I did a few other things that I had to do, then I entered study mode.  And I feel like I’m (mostly) ready for the exam though I plan to get to school early today to review with my friend and classmate, Melissa.

The rest of the week will be just as busy because I have a paper to write and another exam next week.  Those things matter, but my health matters too.  And making time to exercise seems to help me focus so I’ll be sure to do that even on high-pressure days.

How do you react to life’s added pressures?  Does exercise keep you centered?

 

 

Morning Workouts? Moi?

I did some things differently today, and they worked out well that way.  Last night I was in bed before 10pm which doesn’t usually happen unless I’m sick so I was up early this morning.

I studied for my quiz and worked out and showered before going to class, and I made an A on my quiz.  (Yay!)  I also managed to complete a pretty fast mile.  I typically stay around 4 mph or a little higher, but today I rocked my first mile at 5.27 mph.  That’s lightening speed for me!  Maybe I could like being a morning workout person.  Who knew?

I stopped at one mile then started over because I knew the next mile would be slower, and it was..

After I did my “quick” mile I did a couple of slow ones before working my upper body.  It wasn’t a long workout, but it was intense.  There’s something about being in the gym and sweating hard that makes me feel good about myself.  Obviously, it feels good to know I’m doing something good for myself, but it’s more than that.  When I’m sweating I’m able to let go of my negative thoughts because my mind is filled with the positives. And I carried those positives with me all day.

You may have noticed that this is my favorite exercise shirt. ;)

Exercise clears my head, and I like doing it early.  I think I’ll do the same tomorrow and see how I feel.  What do you think? Is it better to workout in the morning?  My preference is definitely afternoon or evening, but maybe that’s changing…I suppose time will tell.

What’s your preference?

 

A Major Change

After a post I wrote earlier this week, I had to face some real feelings and thoughts, and while it’s not easy to share them, I’m going to.  Here’s where I stand (and where I’ve been standing longer than I care to admit) right now.  I feel stuck.  I weigh 12 pounds less right now than I did at the beginning of the year, but it has been far too long since I made substantial progress.

I’m not discounting the fact that I exercise like a champ on a consistent basis…nor am I belittling the fact that I’ve managed to maintain my 100 pound loss.  These are both incredible things, and I’m damn proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.  That said, I’m not happy with where I am now.  My eating habits need to change, and they need to change now.

As I write this post, I’ve just successfully completed the first day of a personal challenge that I hope will spring board me into weight-loss once again.  I’ve counted calories all day, and I’m ending the day having consumed 1,474 calories (most of which came from fruit, veggies, egg whites and other lean proteins.)   My workout today included 30 minutes on the elliptical (easing back into it after being off for a month) and a strength workout for my arms followed by 5 minutes on the treadmill.

You can't really tell that I was sweating buckets, but I was...And I like it that way.

People say that weight-loss is easy, but those people often miss the point.  I’ve lost 100 pounds.  I know how to eat, but sometimes I find it extraordinarily difficult to convince myself that it’s a good idea.  That’s the hard part, at least for me, so I’ve decided to eat about 1,300 calories on rest days and no more than 1,500 calories on workout days.  I’ll listen to my body and do my best to adjust, but I think this is a healthy and realistic window that will yield good results.

I like the gym, and  I like exercising outside when the weather allows it.  I love to sweat, and I love to feel my heart pumping because it makes me feel strong and capable and athletic.  Now it’s time to reintroduce healthy eating into my everyday life.  And I’ve decided that for the next 30 days (probably longer, but this is my initial commitment) I’m going to track my caloric intake.   I made a difficult and bitter decision to leave Weight Watchers shortly after they unveiled the new PointsPlus plan over a year ago, but I never fully committed to counting calories.  What can I say?  That was then, and this is now.  I’m going to try again.

I realize that counting points and calories both work as long as you do it consistently, but I’ve been fighting with myself over the last few months to figure out how I can make PointsPlus work for me.  I’ve posted several times about modifying the program to work for me by counting fruits, tracking EVERYTHING through the recipe builder, etc.  But the fact is that  a successful day in my WW tracker looks like about 2,400 calories, and that’s far too many.

I’ve wanted to believe that I could make PointsPlus work because I love the support of the meetings, and even more so because I feel so indebted to Weight Watchers for what the helped me achieve in losing the first 100 pounds.  I also adored my first leader in New York, Jen, and my current leader, Penny.  I’m also completely infatuated with David Kirchhoff, the most handsome, friendly and witty CEO of all time.  (Swoon.)   But the fact is that, I’ve complicated the new program so much in my head just to make it work at least a little bit, that the simplicity of calorie counting has been a relief today.  I’m not saying goodbye to Weight Watchers.  I’m just trying something new to see how it compares.

Day one of calorie counting was a success...

I’m tracking my intake through SparkPeople for a couple of reasons…First, because I like the people I know behind SparkPeople.  You all know Coach Nicole now, right?  She doesn’t know I’ve crossed over to the calorie counting side yet, but she will soon.  ;)  And secondly, I love the SparkPeople iPhone app!  It’s fantastic!  In addition to tracking my caloric intake, I can also track my workouts.  I can even get specific with my strength exercises, weights and reps.  I’m in love with this app, and I like that it’s free.

So this is where I am.  I’m starting over again because it seems like the right thing to do.  And I’ve said before that I’ll restart as often as it takes.  It’s better than throwing in the towel or refusing to face the fact that I’ve become complacent with food, right?  Anyway, I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere…But I’d like to see my excess weight flee the scene, and I’m hoping that this big change in my routine will do the trick.

What’s the bigger challenge for you?  Food or exercise?  Do you track your calories everyday?  Do you track you intake at all?

 

 

I May Not be Perfect, But…

Have you ever had a day (or a week) in which it seems like everything that could go wrong goes wrong?  Yeah…I’d guess I’m not the only one.  And last night, after everything seemed to calm down, I made the choice to eat more than I should.  I recognized what I was doing after only a few minutes, and that’s when I phoned a friend.  Actually, I sent Kelly a text which basically said I’m on the verge of eating too much, and she called almost immediately.

I had already eaten more than I should have, but it could have been much worse.  When we spoke, I stopped eating crap, started drinking water and vowed to go and exercise until I didn’t feel like eating anymore, and I went.

After finishing 5 miles on the ellpitical and drinking a gallon of water, I forgave myself.  And I’m feeling pretty pleased about the choice I made the push the junk food aside and hit the gym. Sure, I shouldn’t have eaten junk food.  And yes, I regretted it almost immediately, but I was reminded by a good friend who has definitely been there that the best time to get back on track is right now.  I did that, and I’m going to feel a lot better about myself today than I would have otherwise.

I may not be perfect, but I’m awesome.  And Kelly is awesome too….

 

No More Boyfriend For Kenlie, (Or Dear Penny, I Want A Bravo)

Many of you are probably familiar with the bravo stickers that Weight Watchers leaders give out when their members do something good, and next Thursday, I’ll be collecting at least one.

Cal and I broke up today.  Well, it was official today, and we discussed it  just before my weekly weigh-in so I walked into my meeting trying not to burst into tears.  And yeah, that lasted until someone said hello.  I let it all out before the meeting.  I cried, weighed in then cried more.  Oh, and I’m down 3.4 pounds this week which exceeded the two that I hoped to lose so I’ll definitely take it.

Anyway, after feeling rather miserable during the meeting (I honestly can’t even tell you what it was about) I went to dinner with some friends who were talking about hitting the gym.  I typically do not workout on Thursdays so I drove home.  And as I was changing clothes I decided I’d hit the gym too.

As a treat to myself, I paid for a day pass to Peak Performance, the fancy gym with the awesome ladder, and decided to sweat until I felt better.  And I did sweat – until they closed.  See Penny?  I deserve a bravo!  (If you read my blog, you may already know that Penny is my WW leader…)

Only halfway through my workout...

Instead of turning to food this week, I’ve stayed on track.  I’ve exercised everyday, and I’ve tracked my food.  And I feel better about myself when I do that so I’m going to continue doing it.  I’ll be in New York for the next week, but I’d like to show at least a 2 pound loss a week from now so I’ll have to be mindful while I’m there too.

So back to the break-up.  I tweeted about it today, and I changed my relationship status on Facebook. (That makes it official, right?)  Anyway, I didn’t share many details, and I probably won’t.  But here’s the short version.  I care about him, but we decided (together) that he isn’t really what I need.  Unfortunately, I changed my mind, but he didn’t.  He wants to be friends, still wants to see me, etc.  But I don’t know if I can do that.  I don’t know if I want to do that.  As I said, I care about him, and it was nice while it lasted.  I got to say everything I wanted to say to him, and I don’t have a single regret about our short time together.   That’s probably all I’ll say about him.

So it’s been a long day, and I have some packing to do.  I’m flying out at an ungodly hour so my plan is to rest as much as possible tomorrow while accomplishing a few things – including another sweaty workout.

I read a quote that inspired me this morning so I’m going to share it with you…

“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.”

I can’t make someone love me or want me or miss me, and I can’t make “Mr. Right for Kenz” appear in my life (as much as I wish he would.)  But I can continue working toward becoming who I want to be.  Last year was hard, and this year I’ve decided that, hard or not, I’m going to do what I need to do for myself.  I’ve already (re)started, and I think we all know I’m not going to quit.

I hope your day was better than mine, but I was reminded, as I often am, that there are so many people around who care about me.  Thanks for that…

 

 

Friends Who Understand, A Great Workout and A Plan

Yesterday I did some things that I don’t ususally do – some good things and some things that I wish I didn’t have to admit.  Let’s start with the things that I wish I didn’t have to talk about…my weekly weigh-in.  I skipped it.  Yep, that’s right.  For the first time since joining Weight Watchers in 2009, I skipped a weigh-in because I didn’t want to deal with the numbers on the scale.

As a monthly pass member, Weight Watchers allows me to attend unlimited meetings, and they don’t require a weigh-in to attend.  I just didn’t do it, and this behavior is a slippery slope that I am not willing to slide down so I’m saying it now – I will NOT skip another regularly scheduled meeting because I don’t feel like facing the music.  I just won’t do it so feel free to hold me to it.  Over the last week, my choices became progressively worse until yesterday when I decided that enough was enough.  Now I have to do it again tomorrow.

I also did something that made me feel good about myself.  I took Anne’s advice, and set a challenging fitness goal for myself.  I hit the gym and completed 10 miles on the bike, pedaling as fast as I could.  It takes me 5 1/2 minutes to do a mile which added up to a great cardio workout followed by 100 crunches.  I know I should feel good about being able to do 10 miles on a bike without much effort, and I do.  But I thought I’d feel exhausted, but I didn’t.  I think I’ll have to try 20 miles when I’m back at the gym Monday.  Until then, I plan to do my favorite Richard Simmons workout, “Party Off the Pounds.”

I’m traveling again tomorrow which means that I’ll have the opportunity to prove to myself that I can make healthy choices even when I’m away from home.  I’ll bring a gigantic English cucumber, grapes and bananas.  And this time, Cal is coming with me, and I think we’ll spend some time ruminating over his ideas to change my palate.  I think it’s okay to like sweets, but I don’t think it’s okay to let them consume my mind or control my actions as they sometimes do.

With the holidays quickly approaching, I’ve come up with a plan that will (hopefully) help me stay in control of my cravings and food intake.  Chubby McGee, one of my favorite blog friends (check out her blog here) spurred a thought for me that has turned into action, and it worked well yesterday so I’ll do it again tomorrow.  She said that she loves cupcakes so she allows herself to have one every week.  She budgets for it in her intake, and she walks to the bakery and back to get it.  By the way, I’ve done that before, and I think it’s a brilliant plan.

And her comment made me think about something that I did during my first year of weight-loss.  I ate fruits and veggies and lean proteins along with foods that were high in fiber.  I exercised regularly, and I ate a piece of cake almost every night.  Yep…I did it.  I had a serving of cake (7 points at the time) for dessert almost every evening, and it took a lot of pressure off.  I didn’t worry about skipping ice cream when my friends ate it, and driving past a bakery was no big deal because I told myself I’d enjoy something sweet later.  And it worked.   it allowed me to focus on everything I was trying to accomplish without the fear of eating too much later.

So that’s my new plan, kind of.  I don’t plan to eat cake everyday, but I will allow myself to have something sweet everyday, at least for now.  I have more than enough PointsPlus to eat nutritiously and stay satisfied while enjoying  half of a cupcake or a Kit-Kat.  I have me entire life to reform my nutritional intake and to figure out why I crave sweet treats, but I don’t want to spend my entire life trying to reach my weight-loss goal.  I’d rather do what I can to reach that goal asap and worry about the rest along the way.

So in addition to working out hard, I’m going to eat healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients – and have something sweet everyday.  That’s my plan, and I think it’s going to help me get through the holidays with success just as it did the first year.  Obviously, I’m no pro.  I’m just a girl who’s trying to figure it all out, and I have a feeling that while I might get a little flack for it, this plan is going to get me closer to where I want to be.

 

 

Not Really Sure What I’m Doing

Yesterday was a fun day for me. Cal came over late afternoon, and he accompanied me to the gym before heading back to my place to help me make dinner.  He grilled steak for fajitas and I chopped and sauteed vegetables.  And we even made salsa with my KitchenAid blender.  Have I ever mentioned that I love fresh cilantro?  It’s true.  Our dinner was amazing, and I was so ready to eat it that I forgot to take a picture…Can you believe that? ;)

After dinner we watched the Presidential debate on Bloomberg (which is so much fun when I can watch with someone who understands what’s going on in my head!) But I have to admit that I was pretty self-conscious before that  (when we arrived at the gym.)   He’s never really seen me sweat (apart from a slight glisten when we took a walk near the Mississippi River) until yesterday, but it’s a big part of who I am so I didn’t hold back.  I tore up the elliptical for a few minutes before working my upper body, and I felt great at the end.

My workouts have been pretty solid since I joined Anytime Fitness.  And while I know I’ll experience a gain on the scale this week (after how I ate last week when Uncle W was in the hospital,)  I’m still pleased with the direction I’m moving in now.  And I know that the scale will start reflecting my efforts soon.  I’ve been killing it at the gym this week, but I worry that I may not be making the most of my time at the gym. I did managed to climb the height of the Empire State Building 2.89 times before hitting the weights.  (Thanks for calculating it Ron and for pointing it out, Anne!)

On the elliptical....

I’m trying to get comfortable with the weight machines at my new gym, and while I have pretty good form, I am trying to utilize machines that I haven’t used up this point.  And now that I’m comfortable with how, I really need to know how much.  I’d like to hire a trainer soon, but I’m not sure where to start with that so I’ve been taking notes and using google to figure out what I should be doing.  I’ve also been keeping a journal of my workouts.  (Yes, I carry a little notebook to the gym so I can remember what I did.)  I write in it after every set.  But there’s no rhyme or reason to my weight training, and I need to change that.  I’ve been feeling sore over the last few days, but not overly sore so I wonder if I’m doing too much or not enough.  I really don’t know.  If you click on the picture below, you’ll see that I’m putting in effort.  But you’ll also see that I’m making it up as I go along.

There's a bicycle on the front of my book, and it says "Life's a Journey." Just saying...

 

Richard Simmons, while famous for his cardio workouts, teaches the importance of weight training in his classes.  Did you know that he makes toning videos too?   He ends every class with weight training and floor exercises,  And though I’m not at Slimmons every week anymore, I strive to do the kind of workouts that would make Richard proud.  And it’s important to me to make the most out of the time I spend at the gym so it’s my goal to make a better plan.

Uh, for the record, I'm not usually looking up and smiling while I do leg curls.

I’m doing my best right now, but if anyone has advice to offer, I’m willing to listen.  Until then, I’ll just keep doing what I think is right and hoping that I can start seeing the reflection of my efforts on the scale and in the mirror.  Is weight training part of your routine?  Are you nervous to try it because you’re not sure where to start?  Do you have any advice to offer yours truly? :)

I Think I Need To State My Goals

For more than a year, I have attempted to complete at least 1,000 minutes of cardio or more per month, and I’ve been successful since 2012 began.  I’m happy about that, but I think it’s time to change my focus a little so here are my goals for the month of May:

  •  Complete at least 1,000 minutes of cardio – a piece of cake when I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing…
  • Complete at least 10 5k’s – I’m pretty sure I did this in March and maybe other months, but now I plan to document it.  I completed my first one today.  Only 9 more to go!
  • Lose at least 8 pounds – I can and should be losing at least 8 pounds per month…period.
  • Do 101 crunches everyday – I’m going to start again after falling out of my groove.

These goals are attainable, but I noticed something last week that has made me keenly aware of what I need to succeed.  As I approached the end of the month, I noticed that my cardio goal was in jeopardy.  And I knew that because I skimped on workouts while I was in Colorado that I might have trouble reaching my 1,000 for the fourth consecutive month, and I felt like throwing in the towel.  The difference in my performance came from knowing that I’d post those numbers on my blog, and I wanted to post my achievements – not my failures so I succeeded.  I reached my cardio goal only moments before midnight on April 30.

The point is that posting my cardio goal – and even my goal for daily crunches (which has been a #fail lately) gives me the extra push that I need to do what I know I should be doing.  If you have a blog, you may already be aware of the power it yields in keeping you accountable.  At least, it does for me.

Announcing my monthly goals is (mostly) new to me, but I know from the sidebar on my blog that it works.  Do you have monthly goals?  Do you post them?  Does it work for you?

Workout Ramblings

After a weekend without formal workouts, it felt really good to sweat again.  I still don’t feel 100%, but I feel great about getting it done.  And I was reminded how much my body craves purposeful movement.  I was active over the weekend, but I didn’t exercise the way I usually do.  I did, however, do crunches. I’m a few weeks into my goal of doing 101 crunches for 100 days, and I’m pretty pleased with myself.  ;)

This weekend, I’m planning on rocking a couple of workouts with friends which is different for me.  I’m thinking we’ll jog across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Brooklyn for a bit, and we also plan to do a 5k or 10k in Central Park with additional friends.  I hope the weather cooperates because I’m really looking forward to it. 

And next week, I’m flying out to see my family in Colorado which means we’ll enjoy longs walks through scenic spots in the mountains, jogging at the Garden of the Gods and days at the park.  I’d like to rent a bike for the afternoon as well so I can soak up the nature. There’s just so much beauty to take in there.

Working out has been a regular part of my life for a couple of years now, but it feels good to recognize the changes that have occurred in me since beginning my journey.  I remember how much I hated sweating and moving excessively, and I remember how hard it was to walk up a flight of stairs or around the block.

Life is different now, and I’m utterly thankful for that.

Power Songs: What’s On Your Playlist?

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s a fun topic to mention from time to time.  My favorite songs change frequently so it’s fun to look back and see what I loved before and to hear about your favorites.

My taste in music runs the gamut, but when it comes to working out some songs never leave the rotation.  When I want to sweat with maximum effort, I can always count on songs from Nickelback’s Dark Horse album to get me going.

I use Nike+, a chip inside my sneaker that keeps track of time, distance, calories burned and some other really cool stuff.  The information is transmitted between my shoe and my iPhone (which is awesome.)  And it allows me to create workout playlists and to choose a “power song.”  My current choice is Vertigo by U2.  If I feel a lull during my workout, I tap the “power song” button which usually puts my head back in the game.

 I love walking and jogging outside because it’s easy to find myself lost in good music.  And before I know it, I’ve completed more than the 5k that I had planned.  Here’s a sample of my current workout jams:

  • Something In Your Mouth – Nickelback (Hey, I didn’t say they were tasteful…I said they get me moving.)
  • Makes Me Wonder – Maroon 5
  • Mr. Brownstone – Guns N’ Roses
  • Shakin’ Hands – Nickelback
  • I Don’t Wanna Be – Gavin DeGraw (This song rocks my world on so many levels.)
  • Supersonic – Pearl Jam 
  • Gonna See My Friend – Pearl Jam
  • All Night – Pearl Jam
  • Sucker Train Blues – Velvet Revolver
  • Rusty Halo – The Script
  • S.E.X. – Nickelback (What can I say? Dark Horse is one of my favorite albums. It’s definitely not for everyone, but nothing works to get me moving more than the songs from this album.)
  • Mine – Taylor Swift
  • Vertigo – U2
  • Cowboy Cassanova – Carrie Underwood
  • P.I.M.P. - 50 Cent (great for warm-ups and cool-downs) 
  • Rich Girl – Gwen Stefanie
  • For Your Entertainment – Adam Lambert
  • Get Up Offa That Thing – James Brown
  • Sparks Fly – Taylor Swift 
  • Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz
  • Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

What’s your power song?  Does the music you’re listening to help you push through tough workouts? Are there “must have” songs missing on my playlist?  If so, what are they?