Postcard for Mother’s Day

To all the mom’s out there – Happy Mother’s Day!

Just finished my mother’s day breakfast made by my family: real German pumpernickel toasted and topped with a fried egg, smoked salmon and slices of avocado. A side of fresh berries, mango and banana. A venti Americano. And they even cut up pastries in small pieces so I could sneak in bakery goodness without over doing it. Are you jealous yet? ūüôā

Michele at Gustavos in WalthamMother’s Day for me started last night since I have to hop on a plane this afternoon for San Francisco. (a little friendly online shaming below to my friends in SF…) Tom took me out for dinner to this amazing Cuban restaurant, Gustavo’s in Waltham. We shared little plates of everything from marinated pork tips in polenta, grilled lamb, creamy paprika shrimp with radishes and tomato, black been and quinoa salad, and the most amazing roasted cauliflower. Tom also got this seafood stew with a Cuban twist. I don’t know if it is because I’ve been on a healthy living/diet for over 4 months, but this is definitely my new favorite restaurant.

Dinner didn’t fit into what was left of my calorie allotment for the day (although I did work to keep under control and overage minimal), but after 30 minutes to a Jillian Michaels’ circuit training video, 30 minutes on the elliptical, and 30 minutes on a steep treadmill incline, I think I was entitled to an amazing dinner. The true test is to do the same workout today as I am being reasonable in my meals, but my family is also tempting me with crab cakes for later. I even saw a box of chocolates. And I could steal a Twizzler for about 35 calories – Yay!

Yes, for me Mother’s Day is about good food. But, it has also been about feeding my soul. Whether it is visiting the art museums, doing some yoga, pampering at the spa, gardening, or going out for a walk, my Mother’s Days are in some ways a template for how I should be taking care of myself all the time. My family does a lot to take away my daily stress today, which helps. I need to give them a lot of credit for that; after all, they pick up the pieces when I’m road warrior-ing. Yet, what I need to constantly realize and remind myself of is that a healthy lifestyle is about taking care of me not just one day a year, but everyday of my life.

So, my message to all moms today, take care of yourself today and everyday. Think about what gives you the most happiness and renewal on Mother’s Day and work to carry that through always.

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(a little friendly online shaming below …)¬† — I’m calling out the vendor I’m with this week – Informatica! – to say that the next time they plan their event, think carefully about timing and be kinder to us mother’s out there. Cutting Mother’s Day short is a bit cold in order for us Mom’s to make it to our morning analyst meetings. But, nothing that a good Americano and breakfast banter can’t fix!

 

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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.

Healthy Living Success Achieved On The Road

I did it. I did it and I didn’t feel deprived.¬† I put all my healthy living plans to work for me the past few days and I have the numbers to prove it.

2/25 154.4
3/2  149.4
Broke the plateau
18 lbs lost since New Years

bikinHeading to an event this week in FL you can imagine the long buffet lines of heavy breakfast, pasta, massive sandwiches, and the rich dinners at good restaurants. To be sure, that was the case.¬†It certainly took all my control to leave the bread rolls alone. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have some options.

First, thank you to the Marriot who was accommodating both passively and actively. The¬†cook at the omelet station had egg whites ready and helped me with a high protein, low fat breakfast of eggs and fruit. The pool menu let me order an amazing spinach salad with grilled chicken, strawberries, walnuts, and blue cheese with the dressing on the side. And¬†at a dinner with dessert options,¬†Marriot let me change¬†the mixed berry item with a lot of sugary toppings to a simple big bowl of fresh mixed berries (one of my table mates even commented that my dessert looked good).¬†There were also yogurt and smoothie options (healthy but high calorie) for me to keep in mind on visits when I’m maintaining my weight.

As for the other meals that the event sponsor provided, there was plenty of salad and vegetables to load my plate and take small (2-3 oz) servings of lean chicken or fish. I could easily fit in glasses of white wine and snuck a piece of bacon and half a piece of garlic toast. I did have one bad day, cutting into my WW point by 3 and adding 200 calories, but so be it. No harm, no foul in the end.

I got in a lot of walking and did some pool exercises. Not a huge activity time, but enough that my Apple rings were respectable. My worst activity day was coming home as I had a long drive to the Tampa airport and then stuck on the plane. I also hadn’t been able to eat until 3:00p that day and was forced to a grilled chicken sandwich lunch and a weak moment of French fries.¬† But, I kept that meal in check (half a sandwich and half the fries)¬†and was still way under my points and calories for the day.

To be honest, the worst thing that happened was my over exuberance in being able to wear a bikini at the pool, not spraying my stomach well and a have a burn stripe. Bad for belt days, but the two months of working toward healthy is worth the stripe.

So, my travel was a success and leading up to that of days hitting between 10K and 20K steps, including a 6.5 mile walk, all lead to the biggest weight loss week since I started.¬† I’m not going to assume or even try to repeat that loss as it is unhealthy and leads me to crash diet thinking. I certainly didn’t try to drop 5 pounds in a week and was honestly working to hold my weight or be happy with a pound. But, after a plateau and a good amount of fear about this trip, I have a lot to be relieved and happy about.

Here’s to my chubby girl brag blog!

Obsessive Compulsive Food Tracker

I thought I was crazy. I track food in my Weight Watchers app and my LoseIt app.¬† I have my reasons, like, the WW app doesn’t have a way to look at my nutrient breakdown to know if I am managing my carb, protein, fat and sugar levels. It also doesn’t provide feedback insights on my eating patterns to let me know what is working and what isn’t. But I like the WW app because snapping points with my scanner makes shopping really easy and keeps me connected to the program and the meeting discussions. Anyway, then I also have my Apple Watch that tracks my activity.

For an analyst, all this data is amazing!

Then I get to my WW meeting and find that tracking is just something people are doing to log their points. They might even do this at the end of the day rather than as they eat. Whether that works for them or not I’m not going to judge, to each their own. But, I realized that I must sound like an obsessive compulsive food tracker.

Then comes my analyst colleague, Brandon. I knew he was in our WW group but since we are both big travelers, this was the first time we were in a meeting together.  When asked how us newbies were doing with tracking, Brandon told his story about spending 3 hours in the grocery store scanning everything and realizing how eating what he thought was healthy was actually not as healthy as he thought. He is as obsessed about the tracking and data as I am!

Anyway, there is something about this tracker approach that does help a lot. If you are with others that are also tracking, each is learning something new about how to not only get the most out of the program but also learn how to reset your eating (and activity level for that matter). You can share favorite foods and let each other know how many points they are.  For example, I love nuts. Janice in my WW group mentioned that I could swap out my 4 point nut snack for a 2 point option of 20 pistachios.

So, if you are tracking and only doing it because its just something you were told to do, stop, think. It drives a level of accountability with yourself. It allows you to talk to people and get support in a way that general conversation doesn’t to learn new behaviors. And, most important, it will help you recognize where to make changes and how to keep those changes for life because you form new eating and activity habits.

Yes, at times double tracking, plus looking at my watch, plus blogging takes time. But, if I can fit this into an incredibly hectic life that most would not envy, you can do this too.

Chubby girl out – going for a walk with my dog to track some activity!

Reaching the Plateau

Long flight yesterday and I came home tired and crabby. The Pike was a complete disaster, backing up before the Alston tolls at 3:00p. With little to eat but cereal, fruit, yogurt and tea, let’s just say I really just wanted to¬†push the other cars out of my way and get home. Instead, after an hour and forty-five minutes later I pressed the button to open my garage. A decent dinner and time on the treadmill cleared my head and put me in a better mood.

This morning – weigh in. The bummer is that even with the changes to my body (flatter stomach, smaller thighs, and even finally going down a size in my work blazer) the scale had a mean sense of humor. In a week I have only lost a half a pound. In two weeks you can only add another .2 to that.

Yes I had a bad night of Superbowl celebrating. Yes, there was Valentines day dinner. Yes, there was a night of weakness where¬† I had a slice of pizza (with a big salad). But, that is only three nights and only Superbowl was a complete blow-out. The other two just took me over my plan by 100 – 200 calories.¬† And, the bigger thing is that I’m more consistent on working out, getting in at least 30 minutes per day.

So, I know its official. I’ve hit the plateau. I did a little searching on breaking plateaus¬†and came across a couple of great posts to give me some ideas
https://healthyeater.com/how-to-break-a-plateau
http://www.eatthis.com/weight-loss-plateau

Taking this advice to heart, I need a plan:

  1. Food: I looked at my meals and with the exception of my 3 fails noted, I’m eating pretty healthy. Lots of vegetables, controlling my fruits, lean meat, and low fat or at least healthy fats from eggs, nuts or avocado. I keep my grains healthy and high fiber and avoid the bread. I wouldn’t call me a vegetarian, but I’m pretty close.¬†I also have days where I eat a bit more than others but stay on track. What I do notice is that I shifted from small meals throughout the day to the typical 3 meals per day.

    Plan: Keep it up and stick to my goal ratios for fat, carbs, and protein. Up my fiber. Add in one high carb meal like pasta to trick my body into upping my metabolism. Smooth out my meals and add in healthy snacking while reducing my calories in my main meals.

  2. Exercise: Consistency took a bit,¬† but the past two weeks are proving better. If I don’t have it in me for intervals, I up the incline and power through 45-60 minutes of a power walk. I’m getting about 300 minutes of aerobic activity per week now and see my steps go up from 2500 pre-healthy plan, to easily hitting 10000+ steps per day. On my @$$ sitting days, I get 7000 – 8000 by forcing myself to walk my calls and just be active.

    Plan: Keep up the treadmill work. Incorporate more strength/resistance training with free weights, yoga, and my Pilates bench. My basement gym has all I need and the fitness areas at the hotels are equally sufficient. I had this yoga subscription for my iPad at one time that I think I’ll renew so I can do at home and on the road.¬† I also have these resistance bands to throw into my suitcase. Adding in 15 minutes per workout is doable.

  3. Motivation: Down two jean sizes, down three belt notches, down a shirt size, and down a blazer size demonstrates progress. Considering I’m only down 12 pounds in six+ weeks is progress.

    Plan: Keep going to the scale but keep perspective.¬† My biggest body changes so far have been when my weight hasn’t changed more than 2 pounds. I wouldn’t call this adding muscle, but at least some sculpting is happening. Use my clothes and mirror more to validate my progress. Will I need to take more weight off to go down another size? Yes. But, I also have to realize that at 47 getting back to my 35 year old body will be work. I need to take the little wins as the indicators of life changing and sustaining progress.

 

 

Preparing for My Business Trip

This is a tough week.¬† With Valentine’s day tonight and 3 days on the road the rest of the week, restaurants will once again become my kitchen. Will I have to endure big salads?¬† Gosh, I hope not!

I’ve been lucky in keeping my travel light so far. Only two trips. But, I’m getting into my typical groove with San Fran, FL, Seattle, KY, Canada, and Vegas all coming up. I had a good strategy at the beginning of my healthy lifestyle and weight loss effort, but this is going to be the true test.

Here it goes, my plan is…

Activities:

  1. Pack running shoes, running pants, shorts¬†and t-shirt(s). I’ve staked out the gym situation and can reasonably get there in the morning or night for my hour of treadmill/elliptical work. If the weather is nicer (FL!!!!) I’m heading out for my first real run. Will I make it through a mile without complaining? Let’s hope, no, let’s say I will!
  2. Pack swim suit. FL and Vegas have pools so why not try a few laps? At a minimum I can get into the hot baths in the spa to ease the aching of what I surely will do to my legs while over working them in my excitement of running outside.
  3. People watch. I’ve never been to KY and in Vegas it¬†is just too hilarious to ignore the casino goers. I need to just get out for a little stroll and take things in. I have an RV road trip over the summer down to Nashville so maybe I can check out what’s around Louisville to have an idea of things to do for a quick stop. Vegas, maybe I’ll just snap a few pictures and share. ūüôā

Dining:

  1. Nuts in snack baggies. This worked on my Munich trip so I’m doing it again. 4 points in a bag and just enough crunch and sweet to make me happy.
  2. Flight out with veggies, hummus and cheese. Another lesson learned that keep me on the straight and narrow.¬† It also let me save on points and calories so when I couldn’t keep on track or wasn’t sure if I was on track I had the wiggle room.
  3. Fish is starting to grow on me. I’m liking grilled salmon a lot. With the right seasoning and no butter, it hits the spot. Those grilled shrimp skewers and mussels in wine and garlic are also pretty good. With a salad or loaded up on veggies, I don’t feel deprived.
  4. Hold on to some low point, low calorie dessert. I’ve been keeping room for something sweet or chocolaty at the end of the day. I made mini-brownies, toast up apples and parmesan on a fajita tortilla spread with strawberry jam, or have a sugar free cup of chocolate pudding. I’m going to keep a few bite size chocolates on me for the evening sweet.
  5. A salad a day keeps the fat away. Yes, still going for the salad meal. I need to just get over the fact that this is a lifestyle change I need to make. Would I rather have KFC? Of course! Do I want to look like the vat of fat they use to fry the chicken? NO! So, hello salad lunch.

Healthy Living Month One

Changing from doing whatever to being mindful of a healthy lifestyle is hard. I keep having to reset my thinking that this is not an overnight activity. I won’t wake up fat today and tomorrow after a health day of living I’m at my goal weight dancing in my little dress on the beach. Even doing the math toward my goal weight I’m pretty sure this summer isn’t a bikini summer. But, there are some things I’ve learned about¬†myself in this process.

First the stats:

158.2 lbs – lost 11.8 lbs since 12/31/2017
Down a jean size. Down a shirt size.
Work out 3-4 days per week on treadmill and elliptical for 30 – 60 minutes

Now, the lessons.

  • It’s the mix, not the volume. There is no question I can put away food like I’m starving all day long. But, shifting to a diet that is more plant based let’s me still eat like crazy but filling up on healthy calories rather than sugar, bad fat, and refined carbs. Lean protein thrown in and I can be full and satisfied at 800 calories (I need to force myself to add in snacks to stay at a healthy calorie intake). When I was pounding down fruit thinking it was healthy, I actually gained a pound.¬† When traveling to Munich I hadn’t eaten all day because of jet lag, so my dinner of fondue and wine didn’t matter, I still lost weight that week.
  • Prepare my own food. In the morning I would rush out the door and think I could pick up breakfast or buy lunch. This caused me to choose the worst food on the menu because I was hungry and it looked so good. Keeping healthy items in my bag while traveling and bringing food to the office allows me to plan for healthy eating and not cave to my basic instincts.¬† Still need to look at the numbers, but I’m pretty sure we are saving money on restaurants and office caf√© this month.
  • Give myself permission to care for myself. My habits revolved around work. I prioritized clients above myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do so it never felt like work. However, it can be exhausting and to relax it was easier to plop on the couch to watch a show or movie with a glass of wine to unwind. But, this pattern caused me to eat poorly, not get enough sleep, and never get enough activity and exercise. Now, I needed to give my self permission to take care of myself and carve out time to prepare my meals to take with me, cook healthy dinners, and get time in to exercise.¬†In the end, I’m more energized, thoughtful, and even in how I approach work. I’m more balanced.
  • Don’t compete with my old self. Competitive by nature,¬†aggressively driven,¬†and very metric driven, the fact that I couldn’t run at my old pace let alone get through a 5k is frustrating. The fact that I still have clothes hanging in my closet and pants in my drawers that I couldn’t put on if I tried just riles me.¬† It certainly is part of what go me motivated to turn my lifestyle around. But, it is also a curse to my journey. I have to actively separate my old self from who I am now. I need to treat who I was as someone that isn’t me. It’s a strange experience. When I would look in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself and subconsciously re-cast my image as my old self. Now, I look in the mirror and actively seek to see me. In this it lets me focus on today and not who I was.
  • Celebrate each gain towards a healthy lifestyle. There was a day when I only had a .2 weight loss. There was a day that I was able to move down a notch on my belt.¬† There was a day that I stayed on the treadmill for 60 minutes. There was a day when I wrote a blog. Some things are bigger than others. Together they each are signs I am moving in the right direction and should celebrate. Share with others. Walk a little taller. Smile a bit more. Be a little nicer.¬† I use each win to motivate me further on my journey.
  • Don’t punish myself for the bad days. I jumped on the scale earlier in the week and saw a 1.5 lb gain. It was right after crowing about my breaking the 160 mark. I looked hard at what I was doing wrong and couldn’t figure it out. It was crushing. It also wasn’t the first time that happened this month. Also, there are days when not only do I not close my Apple Watch rings, but they are so open, I look like a sloth! Let’s not forget my fondue night either. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I have more good days than bad and I’m headed in the right direction. As long as a bad day doesn’t turn into two, it’s not worth beating myself up.