Goal Weight: One Year and Beyond!

I didn’t really think it was possible. Really. I may demonstrate resolve and confidence in my blogs, but as with most (all) social media you always put your best self forward. I have shown some of my personality warts: paranoia, fashionista-itis, maybe a little judgement. Hopefully not too much. What I mostly tried to do was tell you, and myself, that all was great and that staying positive and motivated is the key.

It has been some time since I checked in. My trip to Europe certainly threw me for a curve and I’m still in recovery mode. Having also gone back to Europe this fall for work wasn’t helping either. I love German-Austrian and Eastern European food way too much. Brings me back to childhood. And a beer at every corner and park bend to cool off in 90+ degree heat and those hikes in the Alps wasn’t helping either. The beer garden is a way of life there. The only saving grace was keeping up my running, walking 25K steps a day and 20 mile bike rides several times a week, swimming in a glacial lake, and hiking up castle hills and mountains. And I still gained four pounds.

Back in the real world, all that activity is behind me until my next vacation.My typical week looks like:

  • 4 days running
  • 2-3 days alternate activity (swim, hike, paddle, bike, elliptical)
  • 1 couch potato day (unintentional or just plain lazy)
  • 1500 – 1800 calories per day
  • 12K steps per day
  • Mostly healthy diet with 1-2 splurge meals for date and friend nights
  • Beer almost daily – a habit from abroad that I’m not giving up

What I accomplished in body image:

  • waist: 31 to 24
  • chest: 38 to 34
  • pants: 12 to 00
  • tops: large to extra small
  • dresses: 14 to 2
  • shoe size: 6 1/2 (sometimes 7) to 6
  • boots: no longer need wide calf
  • Still 4′ 11″ – didn’t get taller as weight couldn’t pull me down anymore, but at least I didn’t shrink!

I swing three pounds and there are days when I’m so bloated I could just scream in frustration. But, I’ll never get back to 108 unless I get back on the strict program and that’s okay. Tom wasn’t that thrilled with me there and likes a little more on my bones. But, I also think some of the increase is from muscle. My skin is much tighter now than when I was the same weight over a year ago. There is also more muscle definition. So, 110 – 113 is not a bad place to be. (Although I secretly wish I could be 108 again, its just too much work)

Overall, every day is still a mindful day. I have good ones and bad ones. There isn’t a final destination but rather a method to living healthy. The benefits have outweighed the work to get here and stay here. Never could I have had as much fun on our summer vacation, skied as much last winter, gotten reacquainted with the White Mountains, or rekindled my marriage without being healthy and fit.

Do I want to…

  • just lie on the couch all day
  • stuff myself with gelato
  • slam through a juicy burger
  • have that extra slice of pizza

Hell ya!

Then I remember, I’m 49 and can do the same things I did when I was 19, and do them better. It’s my own Benjamin Button story. That’s what keeps me going…

2016 on the left, 1 month before I started my journey.  2018 on the right, this summer.

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7 Tips To Healthy Living “I did it!”

Does it ever feel like getting healthy is more about cutting things from life rather than gaining? In the beginning of your healthy journey it is one of the biggest hurdles. It’s not fun to avoid those cookies and ice cream. Fitting in exercise means cutting back on what you have to do and what you would rather do – even if that is to just sit and watch your favorite show. It’s really about finding your motivation to get you into better habits and maintain your results.

My motivation was being able to do all the outdoor activities I did before and not have my body hold me back. By doing those activities I would be able to spend more quality time with husband where we could share experiences and not just count time we’d been together.

The result is that this year we did a big hikes through the White Mountains, day long bike rides, paddling on rivers, marshes and lakes, 5Ks, and best of all, hitting the bumps on the ski slopes. Yes, you heard me. At 48 I was bounding through the moguls all day yesterday and I’m both alive and my body, and knees aren’t  complaining today. That’s me on Angel Street on Loon Mtn. Don’t be fooled by the picture, those bumps were 1-2 feet high on an ungroomed black diamond trail.

There are lots of advise lists on how to get to your goals. I’m going to share what has worked for me that isn’t what you may always read. Maybe it gives you some added inspiration as you start your journey, hit a plateau, or are getting discouraged that this might be too hard:

  1. Do something fun. The secret to getting yourself to be active is just getting active. Find things to do that you want to do and require you aren’t sitting. Just wandering through a museum adds steps to your day. Do a little gardening and mulch your own beds. Play in the snow with your kids or take a walk like you did as a kid after the fresh snow. The point of doing this isn’t to lose weight, it is to have fun.
  2. Celebrate progress. No, this doesn’t mean having that extra bowl of ice cream. It means that you give back to yourself. Figure out what progress means to you. Is it weight lost? An activity you can now do? Or a personal best in your favorite activity. Get a mani/pedi. Get a massage, Get a memory bracelet and add a charm or bead for every 10 pounds you lose or inch off your waist.
  3. Move until you can’t stop smiling. Runners know this; it’s the runners high. But it happens for any exercise. After awhile, you just feel good and you will find there is this big goofy smile on your face. You might even start to giggle. That was me yesterday in my last mogul runs. I got that way when paddling. I end my 5Ks that way. No matter how hard the exercise is, even if your are gritting, there is the high that comes and brings a sense of joy and accomplishment. It keeps you going and gets you to do it again.
  4. Have a sweet everyday.  I don’t advocate big sugary deserts. However, for those of us that use food as a reward, or comfort, that is a habit that is just hard to break. What I found, I could swap out that cookie, brownie or sundae for a touch of sweet. I have hard candies, jelly beans, chocolate squares, gummi bears, and frozen fruit and chocolate bars. I allow myself something bit sized (less than 50 calories). Or, I plan in being able to eat a sweet under 100 calories. I never felt deprived.
  5. Challenge yourself. There are tons of challenges in your fitness apps. You can compare yourself and your progress to others through those apps to. Or, you can set goals for the day, week or month. Tell yourself, “I wish I could [fill in the blank].” Make it reasonable and small like you will add 1000 steps to your day. Or, take a look at your exercise progress and compare that to a training plan for a race to see if you can do a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon. Tie the activity to a good cause and it helps you and someone else. What ever you choose, give yourself something to move toward other than a drop in pant size or weight lost.
  6. Brag. Notice what I did to start this blog? I bragged about my skiing progress. I did something that is hard and maybe even a little crazy to some. Use your accomplishments as a way to celebrate yourself and maybe it also inspires others. This isn’t to say you become obnoxious – strength is quiet. But your healthy journey will begin to show not only in how you look but also by what you share about the new things you can and are doing.
  7. Help others. When you start to make significant progress, it will show. People will start asking you what you are doing. Embrace it. Tell them. It’s not about the 10 point plan to healthy living, but boil it down to your own simple principles. Invite those that are interested in your progress to do something with you – take a walk at lunch, help them run a mile, get together and cook healthy meals, or invite them on an outdoor adventure. If they are serious about making changes, sharing your simples or inviting them in will make you feel good too.

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.

 

 

Goal! I made it! It is worth it!

If you noticed, my count down timer is done! Amazing that it’s been a year. Amazing that I have held back that weight for three months now. Amazing that I don’t feel like this is the end but just another leg in the journey.

All the new year resolution articles and blogs on weight loss are pummeling my inbox, websites, and MFP app. It reminds me how inspired I was by those and read them exhaustively looking for the wisdom to get me on and keep my journey for a life of healthy living. I learned a lot. I’ve changed a lot.

So, it is making me crazy that this year I’m noticing another type of article popping up. The one that talks about the downside of weight loss. Business Insider released a video on the dark side of losing weight. Another article talked about how weight is genetic. Both seem to be saying that overweight and obesity are something you are just going to have to live with. This is just bull$h!t.

You can lose weight and do it without feeling completely deprived, hangry all the time, and without losing will power. It’s called addressing the life change not the weight change.

Genetics might predispose you to a certain metabolism, but if you don’t exercise and eat poorly, you get fat and your body reduces your metabolism. Regardless of genetics, you can reverse that and get yourself back to your genetic norm.

Depression can creep in if you aren’t eating a healthy balanced diet. Off set that with avoidance of diet fads and even super food fads. Just eat right and balanced. Don’t deny yourself; keep perspective on portions and macro balance. If you are worried, see your doctor and get tested for deficiencies. Also, get rewarded as you see your blood pressure and cholesterol levels improve after all that healthy eating.

The commentary out there that allows people to accept obesity and overweight bodies is just wrong and dangerous. The health risks are clear. Eating a diet of highly processed and prepared foods is demonstrating drastic changes to our immunological systems. Increased girth and increased visceral fat contributes to heart disease, cancer, depression and dementia.

Being overweight and obese is not okay. It is hard to shed the pounds and change habits. But don’t let these articles give you an excuse that being fat is in anyway permanent and destined. Every pound you lose puts you at less risk. Every pound you lose lets you do more of the things you want to do. Every pound you lose is a win for life.

Am I through with my chubby girl journey? Absolutely not. Will I gain weight back? I really really really am trying to not to let that happen. I don’t even let myself go over 110, even thought I was originally allowing a 5 pound insurance policy. I have a healthy paranoia today that I’ve never had before as at 48 it would only be much MUCH tougher to do this again. The decision to be healthy has to be your obsession to get you through to goal and keep your goal.

A little secret, I’ve been doing this journey slowly.  If I miss a day of exercise, I yearn for doing it. If I eat poorly one day, it makes me feel physically sick. A healthy body cues you to keep up healthy living.

It is worth it. Ask anyone that’s done it and is keeping it off. It is worth it.

When You Lose Weight, What People Say…

As an obvious chubby girl I publicly taunted myself with comments of my girth as a way to deflect what I was convinced people were thinking when they saw me. As I began to lose weight, most people who knew me would get a little squint in their eye and I’d catch a quick up-down look. But, they wouldn’t say anything. Now, when there is no way you could ignore the fact that I lost a third of my weight, people are more than willing to blurt out anything.

Such is what I’ve been experiencing for about three months now. Whether it is a friend, acquaintance, colleague or family member, I am always amazed by the reactions and at times a loss for words.  Let’s share some:

  • “I’m so proud of you! It is so good that you are taking care of yourself,” well meaning relative. I raised my eyebrows on that one. It was definitely a backhanded compliment if there ever was one.
  • “Can I ask? How much did you lose?” work acquaintance in a whispered conspirator voice. No, you really shouldn’t ask me how much. Does it really matter? But, I’ll tell you anyway.
  • “Michele!?” client clearly confused if I was who they thought I was. This was pretty amusing because I could see their discomfort in how to handle the situation.
  • “You look amazing! You lost so much!…Is it a good thing? Are you okay?” work colleague. Honestly, this was not the only person that has asked this. Yes, I’m okay. I don’t have cancer. Its a good thing. “Oh! Great. You look great!”
  • Eye comment – Up down. Up down. Up down. Stood with a colleague and two clients who verbally said nothing but gave me the once over. The two men looked more stunned. The woman was a bit snarky. Oh well. Such is the workplace where men sometimes can’t help themselves and women often secretly hate each other.
  • “How did you do it?” friend. I actually like this comment the best. It gives me a chance to talk about running and all the fun I now have paddling, hiking, and enjoying new foods.
  • “I always wanted to wear leather pants.” relative. Not snarky, but a little envious. Yes, I wore leather pants to Thanksgiving dinner. Got it, flaunt it sometimes. But, I was more surprised by who said it. They would look amazing in leather pants now. Maybe getting myself in shape has added to my confidence!

One Simple Travel Tip To Stay Healthy – Just Keep Running

I realized I created a habit while not even thinking about it. While road warrioring, I get to my hotel room, change into running gear and go for a run.

It could be indoors or outside.

It could be slow or fast.

It could be for 30 minutes of an hour.

It could be morning, mid day or evening.

It doesn’t matter. I just do it.

The realization came when I took my son up to NH this weekend for a hockey tournament. I got to the hotel and had the most compelling urge to run. At 3:30 in the afternoon and sitting in a car for 2 1/2 hour, I had to just run. So I did.

Why is this so important to me? I realized that running is a habit. Not an exercise. Not strictly a passion. It is something I just need to do. Almost like brushing my teeth. I realized on the couple of days that I don’t run I feel like I forgot to do something or feel like something is missing.

I have only been running since May, six months. Running while at home is certainly easier. But the fact that I have a routine of hitting the road, trail or treadmill just after checking into my hotel when traveling is an eye opener. It means I moved from running as a way to keep my weight in line to a healthy living lifestyle.

Maybe running will be your thing. Or maybe you get on an elliptical, rower or bike. Doesn’t matter really. The simple trick is finding the one thing as a road warrior that will drive you to exercise and it isn’t a chore but a need to fulfill. Now your have a habit, drive and motivation.

Slogging Out A Busy Travel Month

Last week Chicago, this week Tokyo, next week back to Chicago. I’m gearing up for the jet lag battle, managing through daylight savings time, and still stay on my healthy living journey.

My disappointment so far is that the weather and time schedules made runs along the river, out to Lincoln Park, or even just getting outside this week was a firm no. But, brand new Lifestyle treadmills at the six week old Marriot made my 30 minute runs with Stephen Colbert easy with its nice cushioned pad. While there weren’t many healthy options in the lunch buffet line for the event I attended (per the norm), the butternut squash frisee salad, caramelized cauliflower and roasted Brussel sprouts at Woven and Bound was amazing for dinner.

As I head to Tokyo, my anxiety is how to overcome jet lag. Yes, I’m flying over in business class with flat bed seating, but that doesn’t mean I will sleep long or peacefully. I’m guaranteed to be a mess for the three days I’m there. I’m hoping that a run will help me stay steady. Ideally that will be a run through Tokyo, but my feeling is that I’m back on the treadmill in the hotel. I’m not that disappointed that I won’t see the city. I’ve been to Tokyo many times. But, it has been almost ten years and a lot can change. To be honest, I want the outdoor run as another way to notch my running belt for the experience of feet hitting the road/trail in another part of the world.

I’m not fretting the eating so much lately. Oversized portions of salad and vegetables and light portions of protein and grains is keeping me satisfied and in my calorie allowance. While there certainly are days I go overboard – my night at Woven and Bound included a dessert pretzel and raspberry gallette was a 2000+ day – there are days I eat much less (~1100) simply because I’m not hungry. Keeping my metabolism up with at least 30 minutes of running or exercise 5 days a week seems to be the trick.

However, I won’t lie or minimize the effort. Maintenance mode is hard. Not having the scale for feedback during the week puts me in paranoia mode that I’ll come home to see I’ve gained 5 pounds. Avoiding some amazing entrees featured on menus is torture. Constantly having to make trade-offs knowing and not knowing what I’ll encounter for meetings over meals, meals ordered by clients, or those dreaded buffet lines is terrifying.  The only saving grace right now is that food in Tokyo is so fresh, oriented toward fish and vegetables, and much smaller portions than what you get in the US. And, it’s not just sushi, bento boxes and udon soups – but I love those too!

I went into this week at 109.3 and ended the weekend at 108.6. My first outdoor run in two weeks today had me at a 9:07 min/mile pace – a personal best. I ate cookies, pies, donuts, pasta, breakfast sausage, and had wine and cocktails this week. And still, my healthy living plan overall kept me on track. I think what I’m realizing is that I need to mostly eat healthy during the day and I can treat myself that day, but within reason. But, I  really need to keep my metabolism up and running, so exercise is more important now than it was when cutting back on food was more important in the beginning. There was an interesting study of the Biggest Loser participants that bears this out.

A wrap up:

  • Stay paranoid: as soon as you let your guard down or think you have ended, you will most likely go back to your old unhealthy self. A healthy dose of paranoia where the scale tells you that you are staying in a 1 – 3 pound range says if you need to cleanse for a week – aka put yourself back on your program for 7 days.
  • New normal for exercise: If you were working out 6-7 days per wee, 45 – 60 minutes per day, if you pull back to 30 minutes per day 4-5 days per week at high intensity, all can be good. You need to find what you can do FOREVER. If what you did while pulling off the weight is unsustainable, get real and find what is doable. Then, adjust your food for that.
  • Always change: What worked for me at the start of my journey, in the middle, at the end, and today is so very different. If you read guidance and promises of a regiment to follow, don’t believe it. You will always tweak your lifestyle as your body is getting used to the new normal every day at a time.
  • Don’t obsess the scale: It’s not the number as much as it is about how your feel and how you feel about how you look. Get on the scale at least once a week for feedback. But, use your clothes and the mirror to tell you when you think you are adding a little padding or if you are getting bonier that you want to be. Its a holy trinity – weight, clothing size, mirror.