Vacationing Abroad: 8 Tips to Myself On Maintenance

Maintenance is hard, even with  my extreme paranoia. I actually got up to 112 on the scale, gaining 5 pounds from my lowest point and 3 pounds more than I feel comfortable at. So, the past two weeks I’ve upped my activity and watched more closely what I was eating. I’m down to 109.7 today. Not bad, but still only a few ounces shy of my max desirable weight. Especially with what’s coming up. I need all the wiggle room I can get.

I am 6 days away from our 15 day European vacation. Traveling on my own I can be more in control of my schedule, activities and eating. Traveling with Tom, that’s another story. There are so many things we want to do that fitting in my runs and eating healthy will be interesting. Add in the fact that Tom can eat anything and not gain a pound is just the opposite of what happens to me.

Last summer our RV road trip was a bit easier when I had my kitchen traveling with me. Every meal wasn’t at a restaurant. This year is different. Hotel breakfasts. Beer gardens. Restaurants. Ruin Bars. Rib sticking Austrian, Czech, Hungarian and Slovenian comfort foods. Oh yeah, and the wineries!

It’s been a while since I traveled and had a formal attack plan either to lose weight or stay on track. So, was going back through my blogs and diaries to see what might help me this time around. I think I have a plan:

  1. Come prepared to run: Every trip I pack my running clothes. For two weeks with little access to laundry, I need to be more prepared. So, my carry-on is going to be my running locker. Shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, bras, flip belt, and huge playlist.
  2. Have maps ready: I normally just go up to the reception desk or concierge, even in Europe, and ask for running routes. While I could do this, in the interest of no excuses and being prepared I’m printing maps out and highlighting the routes and mileage.
  3. Hike, hike, and more hiking: A key activity on our list is hiking through the Alps. On these days I’m not going to run (unless on the trail!). My hope is that I do enough that it makes up for and then some of the activity time my running would normally account for.
  4. Local markets: One of the things I love in Europe, the farmer markets. You can always find stalls of fruits and vegetables. Some will sell wine, cheese and breads. There isn’t any need to always eat at restaurants when you can pack a canvas bag with fresh produce and picnic on the Danube.
  5. Go vegan/vegetarian: I’m not at all vegan or vegetarian. I love my meat, eggs, cheese. But, keeping my waist in check means upping my veggies. The good thing is I’ve found there are plenty of vegan and vegetarian dishes on restaurant menus in the European cities.
  6. Make Tom my tourist running buddy: Tom and I get out every other morning together to run some of our local trails. He is way faster than me. But, I run farther. This weekend he ran side by side with me for 4 miles (still short for me) rather than his typical 3 miles. And, he like it. Me too! So, I am taking some of the maps and looking at routes where we can do a fun run past local sites to scope out our surroundings.
  7. Bikes!: My mother went on a tour where the group got out in a couple cites where they picked up city bikes and cycled around. There are tons of bike trails in Vienna and city bikes available. I’m scoping out the kiosks/bike dispensers so we can go on our own bike tours.
  8. Just relax: I’m going to have a few bad days. There is going to be some amazing food. There will be lazy days. There will be our visits to the beer gardens and ruin bars that add empty drinking calories. But, that is what vacation is for. Tom is planning on gaining some pounds. I’m planning on holding the line. Ultimately, I don’t want to obsess but enjoy. Gluttony on a few days, just not everyday.
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Summer time!

It’s been months, I know. So busy. But, it’s finally summer! And boy am I taking advantage of it.

The weather finally turned into warm sunny days and I’ve been able to take out my paddleboard a few times. It was a bit frustrating to have to wait for Tom before I could go because he has the roof rack on his Jeep and there is absolutely no way at 4’11” I can lift my board up onto the rack, even with a step ladder. So, as an early birthday present, he got me a rack for my car and yesterday I assembled it, put it on, and loaded on my board. I grabbed Emily and we went for a paddle at Hopkinton State Park (her first time – she loved it!)

This past week we spend July 4th in the White Mountains. A scenic drive with stops at the rivers and dips into the waterfall at Silver Cascade kicked things off. A hike up to Lonesome Lake and back was day two. While we were going to swim in the lake, leaches were visible and the lake was no longer inviting. But, Cascade Brook was and we put our feet in, sat in the natural spas, and overall enjoyed the cold water after a hot and humid hike. Day three we hiked up Liberty trail, which felt like 4600 feet of stairs, only to be socked in. But, coming back down and then handing out at a fire in the evening was perfect. Day 4, Tom went up to Artist’s Bluff in Franconia Notch while I hit the bike trail and ran down to The Basin where Tom picked me up. Why I thought running 5 miles after two days of hiking is beyond me, but it was awesome, especially when I was able to put my feet and stiff calves into the cold mountain water when done.

 

Tom and I are running together every other morning on the bike trail. I made a personal best of avg. 8:56 min/mile on a 5k. That beat Tom by 1 second that day. Since then I’ve taken a more leisurely pace while Tom pushes past 8:30. No races planned, but a friend of mine is doing couch to 5k training now and I just might convince her to do a race with me in the fall.

I did gain 3 pounds since March. A bit annoying but totally my fault. I’m still very active but I let eating out get the best of me for a while. I also was incredibly sick with the flu in the spring and stupidly tried to run a few times which made things worse. And, then there was a week where I barely did any exercise. So, for about 3 weeks I was a mess. I did lose  a pound just by going back to my routine. The harder part is that I actually like how I look now compared to being at a slightly lower weight. My knees don’t look like elephant knees anymore. And my stomach is a bit smoother rather than saggy. The only thing I’m not sure of is if less sag is the 3 pounds or because I’m more muscular under my saggy skin. My tummy is also getting a workout from paddling and SUP yoga. I was sore the first few times out. All in all, clothes still fit nicely and haven’t gotten tight at all. Still working off the 3 pounds, but not going to obsess.

It’s our last weekend before our anniversary trip to Europe. Can’t wait for the hikes in the Alps, spas of Budapest, beer gardens, ruin bars, and historic sites. I’m already looking forward to adding more runs to my international collection. I’ll post while galivanting so you can come along.

A Weight Loss Maintenance Guide for Women

It’s been four months since I hit my goal weight. The scariest part for those of us that have accomplished this feat is to stick to the program of healthy living and manage against a body that would like nothing more than to go back to business as usual. In reality, its not the body, its us. We want those cookies at the office gathering. We want the extra slice of flatbread pizza when out with friends. We have days when staying on the couch watching yoga seems much more inspiring that actually doing yoga.

On the other hand, the fear can lead you to some pretty crazy things. For example, I hit 110.5 a couple weeks ago when my period was kicking in. Normally, this bloating would drop right off when things finally got flowing. Instead, Those 2 pounds lingered a couple days freaking me out. I was convinced it was poor eating and a little lightening of the intensity when running. My response was to get back on the program, cut back my calories and step up the speed on the treadmill. A week later, I get on the scale this morning and I’m at 106.8. Oops! Shaved off a little more than I should have.

It makes me take stock of my approach and if how I’m looking at things is right. What can I do that keeps me where I should be while  not getting so neurotic and get unhealthy habits?

  1. Keep body image in check. While at 110, which is my benchmark not to cross, I still look good in my skinny jeans and leggings. I don’t need to wear a tunic to cover my butt while in them. I don’t feel like my clothes are tight, even work clothes that have no lycra in the fabric. The only thing I notice is that the little crinkly skin above my belly button from three kids and loss of the 60 pound fat baby isn’t there, but is when I’m 108. I still have the image I was seeking when I started this journey.
  2. Think in terms of cycles. I weigh in daily when not traveling. It’s my analyst self that is great for my job and carried over into my chubby girl journey with a vengeance. But I love it because I have a place to review, cheer or correct. Looking at my weight over four months I can clearly see when I am coming into my period and when it leave me. I also see my ovulation days. I fluctuate about 3 pounds from 107 to 110. The past month of a little slowness to release the extra pounds was probably nothing and I could have just given it another day or two. If it stayed for a week or two, that should have been my wake up call.
  3. Check my zones. My runs keep me in my aerobic zone (75% – 85% intensity). They are a bit more intense in that zone if I run outside because of hills and more resistance from the ground. But, my treadmill with some speed and incline adjustments is doing me fine. When I popped up the speed this week, I was much more in the anaerobic zone which gets me nothing and actually added more aches and was less fun as I had to psych myself for 30 minutes. It made me dread the run. I’m going back to my good aerobic zone where I enjoy running and don’t have to pop ibuprofen.
  4. Balance macros and micros. I started treating calories equally over the past month and saw a trend of more fat, sugar, and carbs from bread and pasta. While my calorie intake was still well within the range of where maintenance mode should be, the quality of the food was degrading. This is what was probably causing my bloating. Shifting back to a flexitarian (mostly vegetarian) diet was the smart thing to do, I just shouldn’t have cut back my calories by 300 per day.
  5. Focus on me. Tom, my awesome husband, took his cue from me this spring and picked up on healthy living habits too. He went from 175 to 155 and got into the best shape he’s been in since running track in high school. He leveled out at 160. So proud of him! He let it go during Christmas and gained 7 pounds, above his 165 ceiling. At the same time I was holding onto my 2 pounds he was getting back on the program. It made it easy for me to think I was in a bad place too, kicking off my freak out. Moving forward, I can’t let his, or any other person, set my happy place. Its all about knowing what my happy place is and sticking to it.
  6. Find your motivators. I look internally at who I want to be, toward guru advice to find ways to stay on track and yes, I have the shallow motivators of comparison to women my age, 10 years younger and 20 years younger. In maintenance mode, it’s no longer about goals but about loving who you are. I want to be healthy, experience things, and be interesting. I want to be challenged to get better running times and a stronger body. When two thirds of the country is overweight and obese, there is the shallow pride of being trim and fit at 48 and everyone seeing that. I know, horrible, but all women compare themselves to others I am just admitting it.
  7. Find your groupies. Let’s face it, women need their networks. One of the greatest things since losing the weight and getting fit is the ability to talk to others that share the same passion for the activities I’ve taken up. Runners are all too happy to discuss races, training, injuries and playlists. Hikers share stories on the trails, hidden treasures on the trail, and where they want to go next. Paddlers are more rare around me, but kayakers and canoers are in the mix to share great river, lake and ocean spots. Participating in sports, even if individual sports, has been a great way to break the ice with people I meet and reinforce my chubbygirl (skinnygirl) journey.

 

 

The Christmas Skinny

We celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and it’s always filled with food, drink, family time around a movie and puzzle, and of course the bag and stocking of gifts. This year, my oldest son Chris spends Christmas with his significant other’s family, and I miss him dearly. But, Emily is home from college and Matt has shed a bit of his teenage ways and is hanging out with us. With dogs at our feet and cats in our laps, it is still a family affair. Add to this some snow falling outside, and it’s pretty perfect.

The season is different for me. I’d normally be sampling everything, baking up a storm, and crashing full on the sofa with lots of naps. This year I am getting my workouts in and I even kicked things off with a demo day at the local ski area. My gifts were all about activities: skis (love those Volkl Flairs), ski boots (my Atomic Hawks ULT 110s hug my feet), and Leki poles for hikes and snowshoeing. I returned the favor to Tom with a Santa bag full of backpacking items and gift card for a new backpack. Or course I’m going to go with him!

Eating has been curbed and not because I’m watching it that much. I’m just busy. I also get full very fast and don’t even try to stuff it all in.  I passed on the potatoes because my mashed cauliflower and parsnips and mashed butternut squash was where my Jonesing was. I did grab the spiral cut ham and had a regular sized slice of pear pie. Oh yeah, can’t forget the handful of caramelized popcorn. Today was Christmas breakfast smorgasbord – waffles, bagels, lox, berries, sponge cake, pear pie, ham, eggs, latkes. Later we’ll head out for my Jewish Christmas and have Chinese food at Sichuan Gourmet (the best Chinese food outside of Chinatown – IMHO). Normally we’d see a movie too, but this season is a complete bust. Oh well.

The scale has been kind this season, staying at 108. My doctor gave me a clean bill of health except for a vitamin D deficiency, so I’m taking a prescription tablet for eight weeks. Can’t understand how that is considering the fish and mushrooms I eat, but I’m not outside as much since it got cold, maybe that is it.

Binging on Create now and seeing every variety of mulled wine and cider imaginable. I think I need to get my game on there. Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Hanukka and Happy Holidays to everyone.

 

 

 

Holiday Healthy Living Strategy

It’s been 319 days since I starting my Chubbygirl journey to healthy weight and healthy living. I hit my goal weight of 110 back in September and hover around 108 and 109. The true challenge will be the holidays and all the eating. For me, it starts at 5:00p today when the in-laws arrive. I’ve already got a brisket in the oven and potatoes ready for mashing.

Which brings me to the holiday conundrum. I landed on my goal weight based on what should my optimal weight be as well as giving me a five pound buffer during the holidays. I know that I won’t be able to resist stuffing, or wine, or egg nog, or cookies. Chocolate is another one that while the single square or two isn’t bad (and I do this now), it is the whole bar or those boxes of truffles that kill me. Nut bowls? OMG, shoot me now. Yes, my hand lives in them.

In reality, I don’t want to gain five pounds. That is a month of 1200 calories again and more exercise. Its a diet that I will fail at. It puts my healthy living mindset at odds with a quick fix to a lack of self-control and gluttony.

I’ve come up with a strategy based on what we do in our house and with our family and not use this time to deviate to far from healthy living. In the end, I still want to enjoy the holidays. So here it goes:

  • Snack bowls go away: We always have bowls of chocolate, nuts and dried fruit out. I would typically make a meal out of that before eating a meal. Now, if I want a sweet (or others do) you have to get it out. I can keep with my portioning that way.
  • Keep with smaller plates or eating inside the rim: I can portion my meals better if I shrink the footprint they sit on. I do that today and need to do  that for our big family meals.
  • Don’t have to try everything: Thanksgiving in our family means 3 kinds of stuffing (regular, corn, meat). I need to pick one. I like mashed potatoes, but I don’t need them and sweet potatoes and squash. Roasted and smoked turkey are served, but I don’t need full portions of both.
  • Big meal, will race: I think every town has a 5k the morning of thanksgiving. There are also a ton of jingle bell runs this time of year. I’m just going to do it to add some fun to my running ritual.
  • Go for hikes in the woods: There are so many state and town parks around with great trails. Instead of lazing around the house we can add in a hike or trail run.
  • Take some time for rest and family bonding: Our big family thing is pulling out an insanely difficult puzzle and diving in together over the course of the vacation. We spend time together, talk, and chill out – except when the end is near and we compete to be the one to put in the last puzzle piece!
  • Keep to my exercise regimen: If I can get off a plane, get into a hotel at 9p or be severely jetlagged and still get on a treadmill, the holiday’s are no excuse to slack off.
  • Don’t sweat the gluttonous meal: If I fail on Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and a party here or there, so be it. I’ve had unplanned cheat meals that haven’t killed me yet. Just don’t make it a daily habit.

I need to trust myself, continue to embrace the changes I’ve made, and realize that instead of the holiday’s being scary, they can still be fun.

What are your strategies?

 

 

25 Years Later We Conquer Mt Lafayette Again

In 1994, only 9 months into our relationship, Tom and I booked a romantic weekend at a quaint B&B in Franconia, NH. The goal, hike up Falling Waters trail, cross three peaks with the Franconia Ridge Trail (Haystack, Lincoln, Lafayette) and come down Bridle Path. This 9ish hike brings you up to 5200 ft with amazing view through Franconia Notch, back across the Presidentials and west toward Vermont. On a clear day…which isn’t a guarantee.

That was when we were 25 and were pretty outdoorsy. Skiing, hiking, rollerblading and mountain biking were our typical dates. I was barely 95 pounds and thought I was in pretty  good shape. Still, that hike kicked our butts. We had to take breaks on the way up and I cheered/grumbled when we hit “natural stairs” – those blocks of granite some amazing soul helped to stack together and create the stairway to the top. On the way down, Tom’s Achilles was killing him as we stepped down the rocky path. At the bottom our legs ached, my hips were sore, and we were spent. All told, I think we took about 8 hours.

1994 Hike

Fast forward to this 23 years 2 months to this weekend. At 48, Tom and I are no spring chickens. We’d been pouring over pictures from our Franconia hike for years wistfully thinking we would like to do it again. There is a picture of us sitting in front of the sign at the Greenleaf Hut that is framed and always sits out on our bookcase as a constant reminder and medal for our accomplishment. Well, we had made reservations for the Columbus Day weekend in Franconia and low and behold, Saturday was the day to do the hike again.

1994 Greenleaf Hut

I was worried. We were old – okay older. I’d only just become my skinny self, but certainly wasn’t as little as I was back then. I run, but I didn’t’ think I was anything near in shape compared to back then. Yet, Tom and I knew that we wanted to do it, and do it we would. Even Matthew, our 14 year old son, was excited to join in.

Falling Waters was as I remembered it. Beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous forest, and a brutal number of “natural stairs” before you got to the tree line. I was the turtle. I slowly and methodically put on foot in front of me and didn’t look back. Crossing a couple of water points left me almost falling in and even loosing my water bottle, which I was able to retrieve. After the first hour, Tom was starting to give me the, “we need to get moving faster” talk. He was worried we wouldn’t get to the top and down fast enough before the sun came down. I shot him the icy stair and kept to my pace. Matt was gleefully bounding up the trail like a true trail runner – show off!

Getting past the tree line and Haystack was in view. The easy crawl hike up to the summit was where I got my mojo back. I knew that after this, the hiking part was going to be easy. The only issue is that at the top, we now hit cold temperatures, fog, and same insane wind. I put on my shell, hat and gloves on and quickly adjusted. We went over to the trail sign and took our picture for history.

2017 Hike

Moving across the Franconia Ridge Trail was an easier hike but the wind was whipping. Tom stopped a few times for some spectacular views. The foliage was amazing and sweeping vistas took my breath away – along with the wind. I was trying my best to keep my footing as gusts up to 40 mph tried to push me off the ridge. When we got to Lafayette, the weather was so challenging that Tom suggested we keeping moving rather than take a historical picture. I was all for that and Matt was too. While there wasn’t any rain, the fog was wet enough and the wind just pushed the dampness right into us. My hair was wet, my gloves were wet, my hat and jacket were dripping.

If we thought it was bad on Lafayette, going down and across to the Greenleaf Hut was worse. I could barely keep my footing and balance due to the wind. The trail had been moved to conserve the ridge but this created challenges to know where the trail was. We weren’t the only ones having difficulty. Normally cheerful when passing, all us hikers were heads down and focused on moving through. There was little more than a head nod for a greeting and often we all were just focused on pushing forward.

Getting back into the tree line was so much better. While the wind was still whipping, the trees kept us sheltered and our hike became much more enjoyable again. The trail itself was also easier and we made our way quickly to the Greenleaf Hut for lunch. At the hut we squeezed into a table and pulled out our lunches. We’d started at 7:45a and it was now 12:00p. We were starving. Out came the cheese, sausage, tuna fish sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, apple sauce, and nuts. Never did a meal taste so good!

Half an hour later we packed up and headed to the Greenleaf Hut sign for our historical picture. It was still cold and damp, not too unlike what it was like 23 years earlier, but being able to document that we did it again was amazing.

2017 greenleaf hut

The hike down Bridle Path was easy. We stepped down the rocks quickly. On the sections that were less rocky we all jogged our way down the trail – Matt in the lead, then me, and then Tom taking up the rear. The way down was exhilarating. With only 2.9 miles left, we realized how far we came and how good we felt. Stopping a few times as the weather was clearing, we took in some views from the bluffs over looking the notch and even chatted with a few hikers coming up to the hut.

About 1.5 miles left in the hike the rain came. Under the trees we didn’t feel it much, but it was definitely coming down. At this point the trail was much more even and a slight slope. We picked up the pace and mostly jogged our way out. Reaching the parking lot, our hiker’s high was turned up, smiles on our faces, and congratulatory high fives were in order.

Time – 6 1/2 hours. Not too shabby for a couple of old people!

No real aches and pains compared to the last hike. Although we did take an ibuprofen at lunch as insurance and popped another in the evening and the next morning. But, Tom and I did go out for a hike and even climbed up Artists Bluff for the views the next day. Back today, the most I can complain about is tightness in my calves and the usual hip aches when I do a long run. All in all, not a big deal.

As for the really good part? For two days I didn’t not really think much about my diet. Wine, cheese and crackers were pulled out when we got to the RV. Dinner after the hike was hot Italian chicken sausage with Arrbiatta (sp?) sauce and pasta, a bottle of wind, and a hunk of dark chocolate. The next day was chilly cheese fries, buffalo chicken tenders and a bacon swish burger. Oh yeah, and the really big beer at Oktoberfest at Loon Mountain. Gluttony? Oh yeah. Did it matter, NO!

Got on the scale today, I’d lost a pound. 🙂

Can Exercise be Fun?

I stalk the MyFitnessPal site to get ideas about food, nutrition and work-outs. They had a blog recently about recess inspired workouts.  I also saw a blog from a MFP member that is just struggling to get 10 minutes on the treadmill and hates to workout. It reminded me of another blog (for the life of me I can now not find) where a woman talked about taking dance classes for exercise because she loved to dance.

I’m learning something on this journey that should have been completely obvious but wasn’t. Exercise is a euphemism for being active. We exercise and work out today because we no longer hunt, gather or farm our fields to survive. Most of us sit at a desk for eight hours, sit in a car for two hours, and lounge on the sofa a couple hours. Then we sleep. Millions of years of evolution to be in constant active survival mode and self reliance can’t be turned off in 150 years by our industrial revolution. So now we exercise and work out.

Doesn’t that just feel like another job? While we might love to run, cycle, and do boot camp classes or crossfit (no I don’t do crossfit – but that is another blog), if we had the chance we might do something fun instead. We would play on a jungle gym, ski, back pack, play tennis, or join the kickball league.  Those activities are somehow different. They are all about fun.

My epiphany recently is that I need to think about how exercise can’t only be about a workout for losing and maintaining weight and health but also has to be about having fun. I found that by changing from running on the treadmill and road is more fun when I’m crashing through trails like a kid is awesome. I found that being on a SUP gave me hidden activity but a connection to the outdoors which I love. I used to play tennis and loved being with my friends and playing in leagues together, why not do that again?

So, go ahead and keep up the cardio and gym routines. We after all are still more sedentary than our ancestors. But, don’t forget to have fun!