Chubby Girl Tackles Dieting in an RV

Dieting is such a dirty word to me right now, but it seems like the only way to describe the day in and day out effort of losing weight and getting healthy even when traveling. Vacation season is upon us and our summer is a combination of mini RV weekend getaways and a big 2-week road-trip starting on Saturday. So, while I talk a lot about getting and staying healthy while on the road for work, I haven’t quite gotten around to the other part of living on the road.

First, living on the road. We have our RV, Bertha. She is named as such due to her big rear. Just about every weekend we pack her up and head to the beach or mountains. bertha.jpgIt’s our summer cottage on wheels. We can stay at a state campground right on a state beach (Salisbury or Scusset in MA), or head up north to the White Mountains and stay at Echo Lake in Franconia NH. On Saturday we will be trekking down to Ashville, NC and stopping along the way at state and national parks in PA, OH and KY for hiking, kayaking, and seeing the caves. A little bypass from nature to the city (Columbus) should bring biking and a beer crawl. Have you seen how many breweries are in Columbus? Then we’ll head back up and stay at a resort in VA before making it home.

Anyway, for the most part, having a built in kitchen is perfect for me. I control my meals. However, there are times when I want a vacation too and being the full-time chef is not on my list of an awesome vacation. This weekend was the great saboteur. A rainy cold day on Saturday down on the cape meant we needed to get out of the spacious, but still tight RV quarters. We headed to Fisherman’s View in Sandwich. My downfall? The manager let us order off menu to let us have a Fisherman’s Platter. It was filled with fried fish, shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Not to mention the fries. Even splitting this massive plate, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how many calories I ate. Add to this the Fisherman’s View Summer Ale and life couldn’t have been better.  The guilt afterward was crushing.

How did I handle this lapse of judgement and debauchery? I made sure I ran every morning and toned it down the day before and day after with clean eating. Results? I was down a 1 1/2 this week. I’m officially in the teens now!

But, I feel lucky. That was a single day. It was also right after a horrible 3 week plateau where I seriously considered calling it a draw with my body and going into maintenance mode. I’m still cringing at how I wolfed down that amazing seafood. But, let’s be clear, I regret the act. I absolutely enjoyed every bite! Too much!

It’s the road trip where things are going to get interesting. Yes, I can cook. But, there are a number days where we have 6-7 hours of driving. That is a lot of sitting. I also haven’t a clue how I will get my runs in. I’m leaning on, and looking forward to, getting out on the local trails, but I’m also nervous that I don’t know the area and a little girl out in the woods by herself could run into a big bad wolf. I’m not a big pond and lake swimmer. I like clear water and clean beach. Some places we stay have pools, but I’ve typically found RV campgrounds (even the cushiest) have highly chlorinated pools that kill my eyes (too much peeing going on in those pools).

So, this week I’m building my plan to offset the days when we do go out and have some local grub and watch our butts spread across the RV seat. Not sure how this will work, but I’ll report during and after the trip. I’m hoping I can pull off at least a pound if not two over the next two weeks. We’ll see. Wish me luck.

My Weight Loss Mishaps While Traveling

It’s been 7 months and my weight loss and healthy living efforts certainly have paid off, in spite of my traveling. And, I do mean in spite of. Because, when I started I was much more diligent to figuring out this eating and working out on the road thing than I am now. The weight loss mishaps are a bit more frequent and I have to be diligent about recovery. Here’s my weight loss reports for the last 90 days. Overall trend is great, but I do yo-yo around a bit. That peak on 7/1? That was my return from Stockholm. Ugh.90 day weight loss

For those of you struggling and at times kicking yourself for your own mishaps or might have even completely fallen off the wagon, I’m going to share my mishaps (what I call syndromes) and what I do to get past and keep going.

Mishaps first:

Amazing restaurant syndrome: We all know how much of a foodie I am by now. I’ve even confessed to my food addiction. I do my best to find work-arounds to keep from getting hungry by having healthy things on me at all times and picking hotels that give me good healthy choices on the menu. But, when you need to go out and eat with colleagues and clients, things get a little challenging when suggestions for Italian or that amazing steakhouse come up. I’ve put down a few dumplings and spring rolls at the Asian restaurants.  I’ve gone for the bratwurst and fondue in Germany. I had a fried chicken sandwich at KFC. There was also the night of wine and caramel apple pie. I’ll be honest, I’m happier with Italian and the steakhouse because I can easily get a big bowl of mussels in wine sauce, big salad, or a double order of veggies.

Jet lag syndrome:  This is more of a problem when heading to Europe. Arriving in the morning, even after sleeping on the way over, I am still out of sorts. While I’ve been known to hit the gym when getting to the hotel as late as 9:00p at night if state-side, I’m way too tired to do more than grab lunch, soak in a tub/stand under the shower, and crash while CNN international is on the television. The next morning it takes all I have to get moving and the best I can do in most cases is walk the city.  For what ever reason, while I book hotels abroad that have fitness centers, I never go in.

Airport/Airplane and Station/Train syndrome:  I’ve looked, believe me. The food options in terminals and the trains/planes are horrid. While I’ve found some information online to help me know what the calories of things are and I’ve even asked the concierge desks of United if they have nutritional info, it is simply not out there. The United lounge (yes, I still fly United) has this creamy pasta alfredo I can’t seem to not put on my plate. The Luftansa lounge serves hot dogs (sorry, sausages), amazing desserts and you aren’t bothered with bartenders – just pour your own glass of wine/champagne or grab a beer. The business and first class meals on flights are small, but I’m not convinced they are really that low in calories and fat. They certainly have a lot of sodium. And, when going international, Luftansa again knows how to keep you happy with temptations of various course selections, desserts, sorbet in between courses, chocolates and the ever-flowing drink. Amtrak is equal to this with the 1st class meals on the Acela, but there really aren’t that many choices to eat healthy from the café car. The Hebrew National hotdog is 150 calories according to the package, but I don’t think that really included the bun.

Recovery:

  • Mental adjustment: In the beginning I beat myself up about my mishaps. Tracking everything, there wasn’t anything I could hide from. My 1500 calorie days stared me in the face. My Apple Watch rings weren’t closed. I didn’t have the work-out dot above my rings. I could go into a mode where I got really restrictive and exercise manic. Less than 800 calories per day for a week and working out for 90 minutes. This made my hungry, tired, ultra sore, and not a nice person. I’ve since worked more on improving my self-discipline so that when I do go off the rails it’s not a big deviation and I’m mentally back on track come the next meal or when I wake up the next day. I have to almost meditate my way back to long term thinking to achieve my goals.
  • Food choice: I’m a better planner now. I know if I’m stuck in route for long periods or have meal-meetings then I need to adjust the size of my other meals or be better at my choices if there are better options. This means I eat a ton of salad on the road, and that is not at all my happy place. I also eat small amounts. I’m better at knowing the right portion size after months of measuring and weighing my food. So that piece of salmon on a restaurant plate is 2-3 times the size of what my portion should be. I cut that portion off and only eat that. Breakfasts might consist only of a yogurt, 1/2 cup berries and a coffee. Sometimes it’s only the yogurt or berries. Then I have more wiggle room in the day. So, even when there really isn’t a lot of choice on the menu for healthy eating, I at least find the best options, maybe ask for some slight modifications, but keep my portions in check.
  • Exercise: Getting my running game on these past couple months has made a huge difference.  I burn more calories, my hunger after running is low, and it absolutely clears my head better than machine work-outs. I like it better too because in the past if I traveled to a great location I may not have time to really get to the see the place. Now, I can throw on my running shoes and set out in the morning for a tour. I also seem not to have the same feeling of drudgery with my run that I do for other exercise. This means that even while jet lagged in Stockholm last week, I got my runs in each day (except the day I got sick). Lesson here is that upping my exercise offsets a slight excess of a meal and doing something I love means I will do it.
  • Read-out: I’m an analytic junkie about my numbers. Calories, macros, weigh-ins, nutrients, activity level, you name it, I play by the dashboards and drill downs. When I get back from trips, the first thing I do the morning after is get on the scale. So far, I’ve only had one trip where I actually gained weight, last week’s trip to Sweden. That said, within a couple days, I got on the scale again and was down 1/2 pound from pre-trip and then another 1 1/2 pounds a couple days after than. Why did this matter? Seeing the scale again in context of my efforts/behaviors and getting back to the routine once home provided both motivation and encouragement. My gain was most likely water, in this case. What I will point out is that when I did come back from this last trip I didn’t go to extremes when I saw the scale, I just got back on the horse.

There really isn’t any rocket science to this. It’s about excess in moderation. Inevitably, this is how we should be approaching a healthy lifestyle. While my goal now is fitness level and weight loss, I’ll be in maintenance mode within a 2-3 months. I’m a little girl and watching how much I eat, the choices I make and the amount and level of activity will always make a difference to me staying at my goal or going back to my chubby girl self.

In the end, killing any fatalistic thinking that leads to the inevitable unhealthy lifestyle is key. Pushing away thoughts that give permission to avoid exercise or eat rich foods everyday is also key. I wish I could provide and even capture the silver bullet to proper weight and fitness. But, the real solution seems to be the ability to embrace a life that balances religiously mind, body and food. Throw in a little spiritual soul and its just a little bit better. It’s just about loving yourself and showing it.

Official health living start date: 1/3/2017
Starting weight: 168.8
Current weight: 122.9
Goal weight: 115 (but shooting for 110 to have wiggle room)

 

Never Going To Eat Boring

Go to any fitness or healthy living blog, website, or other self-help area and the advice to eat boring is the main suggestion. When I see it, I really have to roll my eyes. When it comes up seems to be more for those 10 vanity pounds or the people that are trying to go from fit to ripped. Maybe there are others on a bigger weight loss plan doing it too, but this just seems to be another fad and gimmick.

It is hard enough to retrain yourself to eat healthy, get in activity, and exercise at least 30 minutes per day. Then, do that not for a few weeks or months but for the rest of your life.  So the idea that you would eat lean chicken and broccoli every meal or some slight variation of that forever is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Never am I going to do that. Food, like it or not, is as much about sustenance as it is cultural connection.

I’m down 46 pounds so far. 7 pounds left for my happy weight, 12 pounds left to give me some wiggle room. Thus, I’ve been looking around at what I need to do when the weight is off and I move into steady state mode. The odds are against me. More than 80% of people that lose at least 10% of their weight gain it back and then some, and some estimates are as high as 97%. I’m reading up on metabolism, calories needed to maintain, and keeping to healthy habits.  I read this one article that blew me away and gave me some scientific perspective on keeping off the weight. It demonstrated how those that became overweight and obese physically change themselves and need different tactics to maintain weight loss compare to the forever skinny crowd. Here are some take-aways – former dieters that keep the weight off:

  • Eat on average 1380 calories per day compared to non-dieters that eat 1500 – 2000 calories per day. Although men would eat about 420 calories more than women.
  • Limited their fat intake to about 29% per day and generally modified what they eat to keep calories in check, like eating lower calorie dressings. Not so for the the forever skinny.
  • Exercised for longer periods than non-dieters. 60-70 minutes of walking or 35 – 40 minutes of higher intensity aerobics such as running to keep their metabolism up. This averages to about getting 200 minutes per week compared to the recommended of 150 for the typical person.
  • Eat breakfast everyday.
  • Weigh themselves at least once per week to keep on top of pounds that may be creeping in.
  • Limit television time.

What was striking in this study is that the habits of those that could keep the weight off had nothing to do with boring eating.  Yes, diet is consistent and continuous self control to keep within the appropriate calorie-in/calorie-out ratio was maintained. But, boring food was not explicit. The real thing is that they avoided splurging, weekend binging, and over-doing it during the holidays and emotional periods.  It comes down to discipline and control.

And, while I’m only a scientific study of one, in no way did I ever eat boring the entire time I was losing weight. My food was varied, flavorful, and still nutritious even if lower in calories, lower in fat and avoidance of processed carbohydrates such as flour/breads. If I had to eat boring, I’d be back at almost 170 pounds again after extreme deprivation.

Last night proved it. Here is what I had for dinner.

Turkey Puttanesca over Zoodles and Spaghetti Squash
Recipe serves 8
Single serving 266 calories

Sauce (for 8):
Jar Pemberton’s Puttanesca with Calamatta Olives Sauce
1 lb ground organic/no antibiotic turkey
5 oz cubed eggplant
2 T Tuscan seasoning
1 T chopped garlic
1/4 cup red wine
Ground pepper
2 pinches kosher salt
Cooking spray

Noodles (single portion):
3 oz Zucchini noodles
1/2 cup Spaghetti squash

Instructions:
Spray pan with cooking spray. Sauté turkey with Tuscan seasoning, pepper, salt. Add in eggplant and garlic when turkey is almost done cooking. When eggplant is almost done, add in red wine to deglaze pan. Add in Puttanesca sauce and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Serve over noodles.

Noodles:
This is less about a recipe and more technique. I spiral my own zucchini which I find much fresher and less slimy than when purchasing pre-spiraled at the supermarket. It’s easy and it’s fun. For the spaghetti squash I simply cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then place skin side up on a foiled pan. This goes in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender. I take a fork and scrape the squash out which creates strands (spaghetti).

For this recipe I take the zucchini and squash and saute lightly to heat up but still keep the zucchini firm. I’ll add a small pinch of kosher salt and grind black pepper over it while cooking too.

This was absolutely not boring. But with simple substitutions like vegetables for my noodles and ground turkey rather than beef, I had a satisfying, flavorful, nutritious and filling meal. And Tom? He was more than happy with the dinner (he had a little more than a single serving!) – he even said he would have it again.

So there you have it, never think for a second you need to eat boring to lose weight. The goal is building up a habit of healthy living and mindful eating. Keep your macros in mind, the sugar low, and the activity strong and we can all lose the weight and keep it off.

 

 

 

 

 

Walking Tour of Stockholm

In the morning I ran. In the afternoon I walked. Loving Stockholm so much I needed to add in another blog.

Stockholm view

It’s almost a 30 minute walk to the Nordiska Museet from the hotel and it was lovely. I walked part of the way through a tree canopy and part of the time along the water down Strandvägen. Water taxis lined the water. Small cafes served small eats and drinks. Further down were small masted ships pulled up. And people were out with friends, family, kids and dogs.

Then I headed across the a bridge and down Djurgårdsvägen to the museums and amusement park. It was at once quintessential European charm and Coney Island mashed together. Which, if I had to sum up Stockholm, this is it.

museetThe Nordiska Museet confirmed my impression as 400 hundred years of Swedish history was representative of all the borrowed and adopted culture from other Nordic, Slavic, and Germanic countries along with some uniquely Swedish points. The pride in the northern lights, toys, furniture and lighting showed. The jewelry exhibit was somewhat interesting and then took a surprising turn with Sid Vicious peering out above his punk studded collars between baroque pieces. The most surprising point for me was the section dedicated to the Sami (indigenous people). I had no idea Sweden wasn’t originally Viking. Yes, dumb American. But, the story between Swedes and Sami is so like our own American history with the Indians I was stunned. While the exhibit was small, the examples of shoes, hats, carved knives and handmade spoons were amazing. Certainly worth the visit.

Thinking I was heading toward Vikingliv (a Viking museum), I entered instead Galärvarvskapellet, a memorial garden . At first I thought it was an old cemetery with historic significance, but then I noticed how recent the dates were. Families are listed together. Each site is well cared for with fresh and planted flowers. And while I wouldn’t have typically walked through a cemetery, it was so beautiful and peaceful I enjoyed the calm.

brad paisley stockholmAs I made it to the amusement park, Gröna Lund, I got an eyeful. A kiosk had a poster of Brad Paisley promoting his concert in July (I have no idea who those men are but they wouldn’t move…oh well). The screams from the rides and sounds from the merry go round called out to me. The scores of tourists speaking in all tongues and then the familiar loud voices of the Americans slicing through. And not least of all, walking past the ABBA Museum where the once young disco dancers now gathered and moved in and out of the building with their grey white hair and walking sticks. I considered taking a look but realized I was the only one under 60. I guess that is what you get when ABBA was spinning on the record player when you are only 10.

I know this post is really only a diary of my sights, but in the end all my activity today has added up to almost 9 miles and 20,000 steps. With only a small breakfast and sleeping through lunch, I now wait for room service to bring me up some dinner of Thai meatballs, vegetarian spring roll and edamame. Little portions and its a nice way to close out the day.

Let the travel begin

The next two weeks are crazy. In NYC as we speak. Heading to Philly. Off to Stockholm and Geneva next week.

I’ve been lucky to have a bit of a hiatus from travel for a month. It went a long way to putting me in control of my exercise and food. Ever sick of the ‘salad’, eating at home let me get creative with vegetables again and even find ways to create salads that I like vs. the rabbit greens you get in restaurants.  And, as much as I try, I hate kale. Why is every restaurant salad now kale!

Day one travel isn’t going quite as planned. I missed breakfast this morning after rising late and scrambling, but was easily able to curb my hunger with a coffee on the way to the airport and tea on the flight. I hit up some NYC restaurant I can’t for the life of me remember the name, but it was on Avenue of the Americas down from the Hilton. Ahi Tuna tar tar and a big ole plate of grilled asparagus hit the spot. I crunched down on a Lemon Skinny Girl bar and another coffee during a conference presentation. Then I promptly lost lunch and snack on the cab ride to the airport due to the worst driving I ever experienced causing me the worst car sickness you can imagine.  So, completely not a bulimic moment, but man it was gross. Thank god for the bag holding my heels (heels removed).

I found this great dumpling restaurant in the airport and had Asian chicken lettuce cups and Edamame dumplings. It was so yummy and made me immediately forget my cab ride over. The only downside is that since 7:30p (it’s now 9:00p) the fire alarm in Terminal C has gone off 4 times. It’s hilarious how all the travelers look up, groan, and don’t even consider getting up to exit. Me included. So far all is well. Probably the crazy storms messing with the system.

I’ve got minimal time to get home tonight and pack for three days in Philly. I should have done this ahead but again, planning wasn’t in my cards. I think I’m secretly hating having to travel. The biggest thing is to make sure I bring my running gear and Bluetooth headphones. I may have to do a Rocky impression in the City of Brotherly Love. Or, I could jog around Temple University and use their stadium stairs for conditioning; although the real fun would be to do it because I’m going there to get my daughter to her college orientation and I could be the embarrassing parent.  No, I won’t do it, but thinking about it makes me giggle.

Anyway, for the day, I’m not doing that bad. Calories are in check. I hit my standing goal (12 hrs), exercise goal (over 30 minutes), and steps goal (over 10K) on my watch. I’m 100 calories shy on my move goal (400) but maybe after this I’ll get up and walk around the terminal. I’ve got almost 2 hours to kill still after my first flight was canceled and my current flight is delayed an hour. They will kick my out of the lounge in 45 minutes too.

Status

CW – 125.5
Achievement – out of the overweight BMI! Average run 3-5 miles.
Current trouble – I have almost no client presentable work clothes that fit. Down to four dresses I luckily kept from years ago.
Current luck – Old pants that are 2s and 4s in a saved bin fit! Just wish they were light enough for summer.
Working on – 10 lbs to go. Hitting 6 mile run. Climbing Falling Waters, crossing three peaks, including Lafayette, and going down Bridle Path in Fanconia Notch, NH for September. Woo Hoo!

Hitting the trail on the run

Yesterday I had a migraine from h*ll and the day was spent popping ibuprofen, resting in a dark room, and praying for relief. Add to the fact that my Apple watch didn't charge because my cat pulled out the plug, and there was no tracking of a perfectly awful chubby girl day.

So today, Tom woke me up a bit before 7a for what is becoming a routine morning run along the bike path. He pushes for stride length and speed. I go for steady and distance.

It's a pretty run, but like any run it can get too familiar and a bit boring. I'm easily able to tell my pace by the song that comes on and where I am on the path. So, I'm starting to mix up my music more and just keep the Zen of it all.

But, I was feeling really great today. A complete day off from any exercise must have been needed because my legs were strong, nimble, and getting into my Zen zone was fast. I was practically singing as I pumped my fists and almost air guitar-ed my way through the first 3 miles.

It was then that I noticed a turn off that would take me on a parallel path through the woods. I'd seen this path before, but never saw where I could get on if I was already heading back to the parking area.

So, I shot off to my right and immediately got the run of my life. I jumped over rocks and roots. I dodged side to side to find my foot holds. I used the rocks and roots to push off of. I ducked and swept away brush. I even kicked up a little mud through a mucky area to smudge my calves in badges of trail running honor. I even collected a couple of hitch hiker caterpillars and a good number of webs.

I loved it. It was so much fun. It broke the monotony of staring down a well known path and it made me feel like a kid again. The best part, after 4 miles, I could have run another mile; I felt that good.  I even came upon Tom as he was in his walk-it-out mode with a massive grin on my face and legs still going.

There are a number of woodsy trails near me in both state parks and local town woods. I've been scoping them out for my runs (looking for those that don't have too much loose rock or are have too many roots where tripping is going to be an issue). But, after today, I think I'm going to prioritize heading to the trail over pavement when I can.

If you haven't hit a trail – DO IT! If you are getting started, hit the trail to offset the impact and get running faster. If for nothing else, hit the trail to enjoy nature. Love the trail!

In the Metrowest area and need some suggestions? Here are a few:

Hopkinton State Park
Ashland State Park
Whitehall State Park
Wenakeening Woods Public Access
Callahan State Park
Brentwood Conservation
College Rock and Rocky Woods

 

Running Gives Me Momentum and Happiness

I keep reading articles and blogs about the downside of being a cardio junky. I get it, you need to also build muscle. And, yes, I try to at least get in a day of ab and body work. But, when it comes to kicking up your healthy lifestyle and pulling off weight when you reach a plateau, running seems to be the answer. At least for me.

A month back I completed my first outdoor run through San Francisco. I kept it up and run almost everyday outside. I have even gotten my husband to join me.  If not outside (not running in a heat wave, no, not going to do it), then I faithfully got on the treadmill on incline and matched my outdoor pace. The result (disclaimer – lots of exclamation points to show my excitement):

  • Progress! Not only did I crush my plateau, I lost 9 lbs in the last month. That is 2 pounds above my general trend.
  • Legs! I  developed some amazing legs. They are stronger and that saggy skin I complained of earlier, almost all gone.
  • Body! My overall body shape is much more like an athlete than the chubby girl that lost weight. My shoulders are amazing. I love seeing the definition in my leg muscles. My stomach is flattening out. I even see definition in my chest and my collar bones!
  • Size! I got into a size six blouse and dress in the past week. It is amazing to think that it was only 6 months ago I was in a size 14 and starting to even get tight in that. For a girl that has always been busty (if you are blessed with a size under C you might not understand) the fact I am under an 8 on top is in my world crazy.
  • Affection! Let’s just say that hubby (Tom) greatly appreciates my progress.
  • Bikini bod! Oh yes, I donned a bikini this past weekend. It was my third time pulling on that little amount of fabric to bronze my body. But, the difference was that at 47, I rocked my bikini. I looked like those at my age that were in good shape. I even have to admit I looked pretty good compared to those 10-15 years my junior (at least those that had kids). Not that I should compare or body shame anyone, when I was huge it was a big deal that I always felt like the fat girl.  I don’t feel like that anymore.

So, that is the progress. But, ultimately what is really driving my progress is that I just love to run. While still slow, I have dropped a minute off my mile (12 min to 11 min). I can even run a tad over 4 miles a couple times a week with my typical run at 3 miles. Today, my average heart rate dropped to 147 from 154 demonstrating I am in better shape. And, there are miles in my overall run where I get close to a 10 minute mile.

That is the technical aspect, but the thing that keeps me going is how I feel. Runners high is real. I am in a better mood after and for the rest of the day.  I have energy. I am centered from my meditative approach of tuning into my body and letting things drop off as I move forward. My mind declutters.

Will I get myself back to  an 8 minute average per mile that was my norm at 35? Maybe. Does it matter? Not really. I’d rather go longer (6-8 miles) and know that I can run every, or almost, everyday and do that for as long as I can. Instead of training to run, I’m training to live. Running just makes me happy!

Keep posted, I’m headed to Stockholm and Geneva in two weeks for work. Looking forward to a little site seeing with my running shoes. Can’t wait to share my routes. If you have some suggestions, do share!

Starting weight: 168
Current weight: 127
Weight loss: 41 lbs

Goal weight: 115, but if I like where I’m at when I hit 120 (size, fitness, cholesterol, etc.) then that will be me new normal. Let’s just say I only have 10 more pounds to go. But, the real goal is do I like how I look AND feel.