Monday, September 21, 2009

Dessert Weekend, Biggest Loser Season 8

Ok, so the weekend at my aunt and uncle's house was the bomb. We did fun stuff for my kid, but then spent a lot of time relaxing and eating her fabulous cooking, too. And she brought out the desserts, which, unfortunately, I didn't hold back on, but it was very enjoyable. Peach cobbler, (Honeycrisp) apple pie, applesauce cake, ice cream... I have a lot to atone for. I intend to restart this sugar elimination program again this week, and get to the gym to start lifting weights, until I get the green light to get back to running, biking, pole dancing, and hockey.

Biggest Loser has finally started!!! I have only watched half of the first episode, because I want to try to make sure I get the most out of the workout motivation when I am watching it, and tonight I was just too tired (and I've been too busy to watch it sooner.) I am not going to make my usual challenge/decree to lose major weight upon the start of this show, because I've said it before and not followed through. But I do hope to harness some of the motivation that the show gives me, and not just sit on the couch eating and staying the same weight week after week while these people get thinner, as I have done in past seasons.

I'm off now before bed to clear out the last of my junk food and set up the steel cut oatmeal to cook overnight. Hoping for some success again with the program, although I've written off making much progress before my "deadlines", but I could still look and feel a lot better within 3 weeks before my HS reunion, 4 weeks before my Vegas vacation, and 6 weeks 'til Halloween.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pie in the Sky

And no, this is not going to be a discussion of pie, sorry. Although I'm headed to my aunt's house this weekend, and the Honeycrisp apples are out (if you don't know what they are or don't know why you should be impressed, go try one, the difference is no joke), so there's actually pie in my near future, and she makes a good one! Which is why I want to resume my quest to be free of sugar AFTER the weekend, but I digress...

Here's an idea: if a snapshot in your daily life could look any way you wanted it to, short of sprouting magical powers or winning 15 million dollars in the lottery, how would it look? For some reason today this popped into my head, probably because I'm feeling a tiny bit out of control of my life, as is sometimes the case. If one were to write up an analysis of one's "ideal" day, not having to worry about the confines of time, money, or logistics, what would it look like? And if one were to do that, would it help give some insight as to how to make small "real" changes in one's life to get it closer to that picture?

I figure there might be a couple of different scenarios worth exploring for me. The current daily snapshot, with current employment schedule factored in. Then the "I have enough money not to need that job and doing a different job" scenario. And then there's the "it's the weekend, or vacation, and today is whatever it wants to be" scenario. Interested? I am.

Current Employment Scenario:

Overview: I work for a county government, in Planning and Zoning. I like this subject matter well enough, and I like the people I work with. I've been here almost 10 years (with some minor gaps), and it is my intent to continue through retirement, to take full advantage of the generous pension benefits, which I am eligible for in approximately 2026 (I'll be 55, I'm now 38.) I aspire to and am confident that I will progress from my current position through one or more levels of management along the way.

Ideal Daily Snapshot: I think what I struggle most with is time (mixed with energy). If I had an endless supply of both, here's how my day would look: I'd wake up about 2.5 hours before I needed to leave the house. I'd drink a glass of water, and maybe have a bite or two of a piece of fruit. Then, I'd work out. A half hour workout of moderate intensity, enough to feel fitter, rev the metabolism, and get the energy juices flowing. It would feel good, not exhausting, because I'd be maintaining a healthy figure and fitness level, not straining to create one. Following my workout, I'd shower and dress for the day, taking the full time I actually need to get ready at a leisurely pace, although I would have chosen clothing ahead of time and laid it out, and would have packed a healthy lunch and planned a healthy breakfast in advance. Additionally, I'd really like to spend about 30 minutes on the home computer each morning, checking email, reading blogs, and writing posts, both for my personal and wedding business accounts. During this time I'd like to be eating a healthy breakfast, as well. After this I'd like to wake my son for school, allow him the 30-45 minutes he enjoys to watch a tv show, hang out with us, get dressed, and be ready to go. With a few more minutes added to that he could enjoy breakfast at home rather than having it be portable and eaten in the car.

After dropping him off at school and arriving at work, I'd like to be more focused and efficient than I sometimes am currently, without all the personal life distractions that result from never having enough time for it all. Of the 5 days a week I work and have a lunch hour, I would like 2 of my lunch hours to include walks or workouts of some sort, and 1 or 2 to include accomplishing minor errands.

After picking the boy up and returning home, I'd like to have the time to develop my rudimentary cooking skills to prepare healthy dinners, which I have planned out and shopped for ahead of time, without time pressure and a lack of energy. A family dinner together, followed by play time together. (We do already do this.) Time for a workout before it got to late would be great, too, without missing out on the play time. Following the family bedtime hour, I'd love not to be out of energy! I'd like to spend about 1 hour on the computer for wedding business stuff, and half an hour for more personal computer time. Then, I'd like to watch at least 1 hour of tv with my husband, take a warm bath, read a book for about 30 minutes, then go to bed. The piece de resistance? I'd like to get 8 or more hours of sleep. A lot of people have 6 hour bodies and are good to go, I am not one of those. I can and do short myself regularly, but by the end of the week I am a zombie.

Analysis: Money not a factor in improving this scenario. Sure, having a bigger nicer house to do it all in would be great, but it's not what I wish to improve day in and day out. Energy could be improved dramatically if I was at a healthier weight and fitness level, and got more sleep. The kicker on this one is time. Estimated number of hours in this dream day: 19 hours of awake time + 8-9 hours sleep = 27-28 hours needed in a day... Hey, I'm only like 3-4 hours short, it could be worse, right? ;)

Ideal Employment Scenario: Although I don't mind my current employment, if I had a lifelong reasonable supply of money so as not to need to count on a full size salary or retirement benefits, I'd probably ditch this career except as an interested citizen/advocate for local cases I cared about, and instead take a lot more time and energy working on my wedding planning business. There are several hours worth of things I could do on a daily basis to dramatically improve and expand this now hobby-level company, to pull in at least a part time income and make a name for myself in the business locally.

Same morning, without having to fit in the workout. Substitute having a leisurely breakfast together with the boy before school. Same amount of time to drop off at school and go to the workplace, which would now be home. The difference would be, either part time days and/or some days off. Likewise for the boy and his school. I like the idea of a 3 day a week, 4 hour a day schedule plus additional meetings and appointments as needed. Healthy lunches at home, furthering the cooking skills. Fitting in a workout and shower outdoors, before picking up the boy. More boy/activity time in the afternoon. Same evening schedule, without having to fit in the workout, or the hour of business time. This one I could totally make fit within the day, money is the missing link. On the non working days, we could return to our stay-at-home mommy lifestyle, having playdates, going to the library and other activities, etc. I miss those wonderful times!

Weekend/Vacation Scenario: Energy might be the only missing link here. If I were able to live my daily working life in one of the two above scenarios, the weekend would consist of minimal errands, some working out, a lot of family time, and some social time. And plenty of sleep. Totally doable, if the rest of the life was on track as preferred above. I'd have at least one major family outing planned, and plenty of time to play outside and relax at home built in.

Did this exercise generate any ideas for how to make my life closer to those scenarios in a realistic fashion? Yes and no. I plan to noodle that one for a bit and come back to it... Tell me if you try it and it does something for you!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm Back.

Ok, I’m back now, I think. I just haven’t taken the time to write in the last few weeks, but I swear my mind works in terms of blog posts now, and I narrate them in my head all the time. Want to know what you’ve been missing? Let’s see, health-wise, since having the swine flu knock me down a couple of notches, I’ve still continued to keep the cough going, and it has ramped back up to where my doc put me on an antibiotic again. I start physical therapy for the hip issue tomorrow (for “bursitis”, which is an inflammation of muscle rubbing over the bone.) I am VERY, VERY eager to gradually return to exercise, as I am especially missing my DivaFit class badly! I am still sporting the braces and sick to death of them. My orthodontist has assured me that they will still be on through next month and beyond, for my class reunion, trip to Vegas, and Halloween, unfortunately. Sigh… My wedding planning business is back in full swing with a bridal showcase last weekend that went smashingly well. My display kicked butt, and I got a ton of brides who actually gave me their info to contact them, without the guise of giving away a prize. Plus many more who seemed serious about contacting me, one of whom already has. I hope I get a good amount of business for next year, and then I hope I can handle it with my full time work schedule and not missing out too much on my kid! My honey was miserably sick over our Labor Day family beach weekend, but he’s fine now. My little pumpkin is having some adjustment issues to his new preschool class, so I’m bumming out for him. I know he’ll be fine, but I hate to see him anything less than ecstatically happy, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the subject of where I leave him for so much of the time. I’m taking him to see Thomas the Tank Engine in person next weekend, which should blow his mind if last year’s reaction is repeated. J

Oh, but you read this because you want to hear and talk about WEIGHT LOSS and stuff, right? Well, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you. Or it. I just haven’t been keeping up with it lately. Again. But I did have a fantastic initial experience with the Total Sugar Addict’s Recovery Program (developed by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D.), until I chose to take a break from it and voluntarily jump off the wagon. The problem is, when you do that, the wagon seems to drive away, for me at least, making it a lot tougher to get back on. Traveling this weekend makes it too tough a time to start over, but I vow to myself to reenter the steps again next week (there are 7 in all.) Do you want to know why? Because I DID learn a lot in the process, including the fact that I am a full-blown, hard core sugar addict, as I’ve always suspected. There is no way in hell I would confess to exactly how much of certain bad things I can and do eat in a given “off” day, but suffice it to say it’s pretty creepy. (And expensive, too!) So, a quick run-down of the steps (which are to be conquered one at a time she says, no all or nothing mentality here):

Step 1: eat a good breakfast centered on protein every day, within an hour of waking up. That seems sorta basic and obvious, but when I really think about what and how I eat breakfast, it was actually a lot harder to establish, and easier to fall out of, than I expected. Since I can’t eat eggs (allergy), don’t love sausage, and bacon is way more fat than protein, the only way I could figure out to get enough is by including either Greek yogurt (which has 3x more protein than regular) or adding protein powder to my breakfast. How much protein is enough? Well, according to Kathleen, an amount recommended on this program is only slightly more than the average recommended daily, and can be estimated by cutting your weight in half, and then dividing it by 3, giving you the suggested protein grams for breakfast (and eventually per meal.) So, a 200 pound person should be getting like 33 grams of protein at breakfast. Not very easy, people, but makes a HUGE difference in not getting hungry soon after! (People over 250 pounds are just supposed to use 250 to make this calculation.)

Step 2: learn how to journal your food and the associated feelings about it. Very tough. Not so hard for the Weight Watchers types, but even with my history of that, I’m still lazy about writing it down. And I enjoy the concept of documenting how I feel, as evidenced by this blog, but I’m poor at making a frequent enough practice of it.

Step 3: here’s where we get into the meat of it, and this one was tough at first but enormously beneficial- consolidate all eating into three meals without snacks in between, and those meals must be centered around protein (in the amounts described above) and also include a complex carb. Huh? Most diets tell us to eat more frequent, smaller meals, which is better for keeping a more even blood sugar. However, Kathleen points out, we sugar addicts tend to graze to a point of forgetting to stop, pretty much eating all the time. (Raising hand.) This is to teach us to consciously start and stop eating, and wait a reasonable length of time before eating again. The protein and complex carb combo actually managed to hold me between meals, much to my surprise, and at this stage you don’t even have to give up the sugars yet if you’re not ready, nor do you have to focus too much on portion control. No lie she says you can still eat your cookies or (insert your nemesis here) as long as you have it WITH your meal. I didn’t, when I was doing it, but I sure liked the idea of being able to.

Step 4: this is the one I raised so many questions with when I mentioned it before- the nightly potato. You are supposed to eat a potato near to bedtime at least 3 hours after your dinner meal. You must eat the skin, you can cook it any way you like and have it with fats (like butter, oil, etc.) but with no protein. What the F, right? I thought it was a little quacky at first, even though I’ve got a friend who swears by this program from past experience, but the scientific explanation makes it pretty logical. Apparently Kathleen has discovered that typically sugar addicted people have three components contributing to it, one of which is chronically low serotonin levels. Long story short: eating the proteinless carb allows the body to release a rush of insulin which chemically aids in the body in raising its serotonin levels, but by doing it while you’re asleep it avoids some of the other pitfalls of going on a carb rush, like craving sugar shortly after. If you still think I’m crazy, go read the book, I swear it makes sense. And, although initially the idea of a potato at bedtime seemed kinda unappealing, when I wasn’t snacking like I was accustomed to it was a MUCH welcomed yummy tv snack. I cut ‘em up and roasted them in olive oil, so they were like a plate of French fries. Fantastic.

That’s as far as I got in the program before opting out, but after that you begin shifting away from any “white foods” (like non-whole grain bread, white rice, etc.) to “brown” foods (complex and whole grain carbs), and ultimately away from any form of sugar or unrefined carb.

I know I am filled with empty promises to myself, but as stated above I’d like to plan to restart this program again next week, with the understanding of how badly I need it, and knowing that I’ve been spinning my wheels about weight loss for over a year now. I still weigh the same, I still eat handfuls of cookies anytime I want, and I haven’t lost a thing other than a tiny bit of my confidence that I can really lose the weight. So this program is going to change that.

Oh, yea, and Biggest Loser starts up again tonight. YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Lose-A-Palooza is a one-day online social networking event taking place on September 15, 2009 to help raise awareness for the Lose For Good™ campaign!For every accepted mention or acknowledgment of “Lose For Good” made on September 15 via blogs, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace, Weight Watchers will make an additional donation - up to $25,000* - for just one day of social media activity. This donation is on top of the $1 million** Weight Watchers is hoping to donate to Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger as part of the 2009 Lose For Good campaign!

Go check it out at

I'll be back soon!