Chubby Girl Makes Progress

Sunday was my birthday. This chubby girl is getting old – 48. Leading up to the big day I really wasn’t thinking about getting older or thinking about my birthday at all. It was on Friday when Tom asked me what I wanted to do this weekend and my daughter was trying to get my new sizes that it really dawned on me. I’m turning 48!

Getting healthy and fit has been consuming. Almost OCD. For the last 10 years all I had thought about was how to get back to good health and lose the weight. Everything was about, don’t let me be fat after forty, then it was don’t let me be fat each year after that. When I hit 45 and was verging on 46 I have to say, I resigned to my fate and I gave up and ballooned to almost 170. So now, in the past 7 months, I was in overdrive trying to reach my goal and haven’t really looked up.

What I realized this weekend was how far I have come. I am not thinking about myself in a negative light as the ‘fat girl’ (chubby girl is a cute way to describe what I was). I am no longer thinking of myself as Jabba the Hut who is mostly confined to a single place out of shear size (I have a picture I call my Jabba picture but Tom’s hidden it from me now). So when I had to think about what it was that I wanted to do to celebrate a year older, I felt like I was already celebrating. In fact, my celebration was to do two things I absolutely love – go for a run and hit the beach. I did both.

Ultimately, my family got me thinking about my journey to date. I can measure progress is so many ways and each gives me something to be thankful for and motivated to keep up my lifestyle. I had a great birthday, and it was one present I finally gave to myself.

  1. Running – daily runs of 3 to 5 miles. Shrunk my time from 12.5 min/mile to 10.5 min/mile. Ran my first 5k in 8 years two weeks ago. One year ago I could barely go for a 3 mile walk in the woods or walk up a hill without huffing and puffing wanting it to be over. While still 20 pounds more than when I ran A LOT more, running has reshaped this 120 body to be back in those old clothes (see below).
  2. Sleeping – no more sleep apnea. no more snoring. I don’t wake up several times a night, usually only once and can get back to sleep in less than 30 minutes.
  3. Clearer skin – adult acne has calmed down. I’m thinking that healthy eating has made a difference.
  4. Hiked mountains – 3 hikes in the past 2 months. All 3000+.
  5. Steps – from under 3000 per day to an average of 15,000 per day
  6. Weight – down 48 pounds ~30%. From size 14 to size 0. From size L/XL to S/XS. From big girl swim suits to bikinis.
  7. Heart – RHR dropped to between 48 and 52. I was typically over 65 and as high as 69.
  8. Fears – diabetes and heart issues; not anymore.
  9. Dress-up: I’ve confessed to stealing my daughters jeans (which she let me keep). My purple velvet Theory top fits again and looks better on now than when I bought it. I can wear a patchwork and embroidery Oilily skirt that I love and haven’t worn since 2004!
  10. Food: Still food obsessed but healthy living has brought out more of my creative cooking. Oh, and I think I could actually become a vegan if I didn’t like eggs so much! I love my veggies (just not kale).
  11. TMI – let’s just say that Tom appreciates my new body more. ūüôā

And, after months of hiding my chubby girl self, here are before and now pictures. I don’t say after since this is forever – forever healthy living, forever keeping trim, forever working at it one day at a time.

Before: (if you can’t tell – that’s me on the right with the baseball hat)

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Today:  On left, standing on Mt Cardigan.

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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 caf√© 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)

 

Scenic Run In Stockholm

Well, I made it. It was a long trip to get here, but I’m finally at my hotel in Stockholm. Yesterday I was a mess and slept on and off in the afternoon and took in a late dinner in the Asian restaurant in the hotel.¬† The Berns Hotel is wonderful. It is the perfect boutique with a scrumptious magenta velvet sofa and big windows that let in a ton of light – even at 4:00a when the sun comes up! (What I didn’t mention was that the sun really didn’t go down until after 11:00p)

Stockholm Run

But, that was okay. It got me up and working on a presentation and by 7:00a I was ready to throw on my running shoes. The hotel is a block from the river where I could follow the marina and cross a bridge over to an island where the Museum of Modern Art was.  I circled the island then out across the bridge to follow the river past these wonderful European buildings.

There were people walking, biking and running everywhere. Some were heading to work. Others were on morning walks. Others like me were getting in their runs before the day started. One of the dock areas I passed was lined with tour boats for scenic tours throughout the islands and bridges. Seniors, Asians, and mixed tourists were all getting off buses and the subway to line up and get on their boats.  It seems the sun gets everyone up early in Stockholm.

The number of bridges and boats is incredible.¬† This truly is a city of islands and water. If there isn’t a boat, you can still see where there may have been boats in the past as there are random stairs and landings sprinkled about. There is every kind of boat imaginable from fishing and other commercial boats, to tourist, pleasure, and even reproductions. Just off the side of one marina was a makeshift shop where the hull of a reproduction boat was being built. I definitely have to check out the Viking Museum.

I loved the running tour. It made me feel part of the city even as I took in all the sights. I know where I want to go now. I know what I want to got back to and take pictures of. I also have a better sense of where I am in the city. The day is gorgeous, so I’ll add a ton of walking to get me around. Just more time to soak up Stockholm.

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 Рlots 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.

 

10 Tips to Stay On Track With Diet While Traveling

Work and travel get in the way. But, I’m sitting at the bar in the Chicago United Club and its the perfect time while in a travel mindset for an update.

Can you lose weight as a road warrior?

Verdict: Yes!

Conditions:
I’m down almost 35 pounds with another 20 to go (Starting weight 168. Current weight 134). I’ve gone from a size 12 pant and XL/L shirt to almost a size 4 pant and small shirt. I can wear a bikini this summer. I can also run again! I can also see myself back on the slopes hitting the moguls like before¬†rather than shimmying down the green trails.

There are good weeks and bad weeks. It’s about taking one day at a time. The real test is your mindset. You really need to want to lose weight and transition to a life long healthy lifestyle. It’s not anything you haven’t heard before, the question is really, will you take it to heart and commit to change?

There are no cheat days. There are no days off. There are no days where you can give permission to poor eating and inactivity. This is your new religion. I firmly believe that taking off the weight and keeping it off is not a temporary mindset. Commitment is real – this is a marriage to a new you.

I speak from experience, both from being in shape and out of shape as well as tackling this later in life when hormones and a lower metabolism is my everyday enemy.

Being a road warrior  has taught me to be both realistic in how I scrounge for meals that fit healthy eating and living by the feedback on my wrist that says I am as active as I should be.

  1. Just move: I look for ways to get in movement anyway I can. It can seem crazy and extreme at times. I get in a workout at odd hours. I tour airport concourses. I skip the cabs or car rental if I can walk to where I need to be.
  2. Be Sally: When Harry Met Sally, everything is on the side. It is definitely awkward the first time, but you are the customer and can have your food any way you like it. Let the kitchen know not to coat your salmon in oil. Put calorie rich sauces on the side. Substitute the fries, rice, and mashed potatoes for another helping of steamed veggies. When you can’t get it right, get the grilled chicken sandwich, pull off the top bun, and eat your sandwich with a fork and knife.¬† You saved 120 – 140 calories and a bad dose of simple carbs.
  3. Portions: Get familiar with your portion sizes by measuring stuff at home. This way, those large plates can be put in their box. You know a healthy portion of steak, chicken, even salmon (it has more fat than you think, even if it is good fat, too much of a good thing isn’t good anymore).
  4. Get a Map: Are you getting your walking or running game going? If you don’t have an app, ask the hotel for safe routes and bike trails. Not every place is ideal, but just like knowing the great places to have dinner, your hotel knows the best places to get outside. If you have the time, go ahead and get in that cab/Uber/rental car to tour a city on foot or by run. You get a city tour you might not have had the chance otherwise to do.
  5. Love the bands: If you are heavier at the beginning or just have a lot more to lose, sometimes being self conscious will keep you from the hotel gym. For less than 20 dollars, a set of resistance bands lets you build muscle in your hotel room until you are ready to show off the toned bulges that start to appear after several weeks.
  6. Exercise apps: I can’t say I used them a ton because I am a cardio freak on and off equipment. But, my yoga apps and HIIT apps get me 20 – 30 minutes in my hotel room when I need to squeeze in a workout.
  7. Indulge pragmatically: This is where portion control is key. United in Chicago added a scrumptious chicken alfredo. It’s deadly, I know. But, when you’ve been stuffing your face with veggies all day, you have some extra calories. I don’t condone going over your intake goal. But, with a little planning, some small indulgences help you not feel deprived at the same time you don’t sabotage your work.
  8. Pack Snacks: At the beginning when I wasn’t so sure, I kept snacks and mini meals on me. As I’ve progressed and gotten confident and educated, I don’t do this anymore.¬†When I started it gave me more control. I still keep a piece of fruit or low calorie bar in my purse just in case. But, I don’t dip in anymore as I’ve gotten in a routine.¬† So it worked to help me in the beginning, but it gives me a safety net when all other food options fail.
  9. Track it: Honesty comes from transparency. I was a tracking freak across 3 apps (Weight Watchers, LostIt, MyFitnessPal). I’ve narrowed it to one (myfitnesspal.com) because it does a good enough job and I share my diary with my husband and oldest son. This keeps me both honest, I get kudos¬†on my progress. It¬†also helps me see progress and let’s me adjust as needed if there are weeks where the scale doesn’t move or goes in the opposite direction, or in some cases when the weight loss is too fast (yes, you need to watch for this too).
  10. At home: With all the good intentions on the road, when I get home it is detox. Even though I’m pretty healthy on the road, when I am home, I go vegetarian or pescatarian. This is when I do have more control and I take advantage of it¬†by enjoying my creative cooking passion and coming up with new healthy dishes and testing them on my family (husband is in, kids I think are¬†hoping I just keep it to myself.)¬†I also make sure that I get in 2 days of intense workouts. Hike a mountain, get in a run, go for a ultra long power walk, or on yucky days, pack in my machine and weight time.

I can actually see the goal in sight, but in reality, I hit my goal. Yes, I’m within a couple points of a healthy BMI. Yes, my RHR is at the athletic level. Yes, I can do things I dreaded doing or couldn’t before. Yes, I actually found a way to like veggies and salad. Yes, I feel I can do this for the rest of my life. My top ten helped me get there.