Tag Archives: health

Great Week!

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Last week, I made a bet with my friend Jodi to see who could be the most diligent with tracking their food intake for the week (and *sigh*, yes, staying within the calorie recommendations – not just donuts and pizza all day). I’m pretty certain it’s a tie (although I’m secretly hoping I beat her!)… but honestly? I don’t really care who won. I needed this little contest to motivate me in tracking my food. I know that keeping track of what I eat is one of the most important tools I have in this grand adventure. In the past, the only times I’ve ever been successful in losing weight was when I was tracking my food.

I must admit, I am quite proud of myself. I tracked everything I ate for the last seven days (even the trip to Burger King and the blizzard I ate on Friday!). For the most part, I stayed within my calorie allowance. My dietician suggested that I aim to eat healthy 80% of the time, and allow for some splurges 20% of the time. This cuts down on the guilt and shame, as well as the pressure to stay on an eating plan. And, realistically, that’s what I did. In the past week, we celebrated my youngest son’s birthday, and I treated myself to the aforementioned Burger King and blizzard.

I am really glad that Jodi and I challenged each other. I had been feeling really down about my lack of progress, and hadn’t been eating all that well. In fact, I felt a bit out of control. And, when you have an anxiety disorder, feeling out of control, even in the slightest, is a terrible feeling. I now feel much more in control and a lot happier. My motivation levels are rising, and I feel like I can actually do this!

The app that I’ve been using, My Fitness Pal¬†has to bee one of the best weight loss apps/websites I have ever used! For a long time, I was using the Weight Watchers app (which you have to pay monthly dues to use). It was ok, but I found a lot of the foods I regularly ate weren’t in the database. I have tried SparkPeople before, but it seems like a bit of overkill, and you end up getting tons of emails from them every day. But I think I have found a winner in My Fitness Pal. The database of foods is great – I have not yet had to manually enter any food. Plus, I love the scan function – you can scan the bar code of any food product, and all of the nutritional information magically appears! I also love the way that the foods you eat on a regular basis are automatically saved to a list… so if you tend to eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you don’t need to search for those items each time you enter them. Like the Spark People app, My Fitness Pal has graphs that track your progress. The website is great too, although I haven’t spent time exploring it that much, I did pick up a nifty weight tracker that I’ve got on the side bar of this blog.

This has been a great week. Using the My Fitness Pal app has made it really easy to track my food, and, realistically, I think I can really keep tracking my food this way.

So, while I think I probably beat Jodi, it doesn’t really matter, because I really feel like I’ve won this week. I even enjoyed a delicious home-made Indian feast last night while staying within my calorie range. This doesn’t feel like a diet. This feels like a lifestyle change, and I feel like I am going to be very successful!

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The Power of Words

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Words are incredibly powerful

This morning, I received a private message on Facebook from someone with whom I went to high school. She said she finds my posts motivational and they make her think twice while eating a bowl of ice cream. Her 40th is close to mine, and she wants to get in shape, too.

The funny thing is that this was one of the girls of whom I was so jealous of in high school! She was (and still is!) very pretty, and I remember wishing I looked more like her and her friends back then. (She probably has no idea I felt this way! lol)

When I was in high school, I was 5’9″ and weighed 160-170 lbs – by no means unhealthy. But so many of the girls around me were waif-like beauties. I had curves, and I hated them. I so wanted to look like the skinny girls at school. Having been called “fat,” “COW-en” and “jabba the **ut” in elementary school, I took those words to heart, and believed it to be true. Those words became my mindset. When I got to high school and I saw all the skinny girls getting boyfriends, my sense of self worth plummeted. (Turns out two boys I really, really liked were gay. They didn’t ignore me because I was fat. The ignored me because I wasn’t a boy!) I associated my lack of friends with my physical appearance. I was lonely, and I ate to fill the void.

To this day, I struggle with words. I am trying to overcome this. I am learning not to take things personally. I am learning to stop listening to the voices from my past.

But it’s not other people’s voices that are the problem. It’s my voice. It’s the words I tell myself. And, sadly, at times, I can be very hard on myself. Those voices we hear, “Oh, what’s one bowl of ice cream? I can exercise tomorrow,” “I’m too tired/busy/hot/cold/(enter excuse here) to exercise today” – we believe them. The more we say it, the more we believe it. The good news? We can change the messages we tell ourselves!

I know I tell myself a lot of negative things; even though, to the rest of the world, I seem like an upbeat, positive person, to myself, I am very pessimistic. In fact, I can be down right mean to myself. I struggle to treat myself with kind words.

I’ve written about Don Miguel Ruiz’s book “The Four Agreements” before. His first agreement is “Be Impeccable with your Words.” I am finding it easier to be impeccable with my exterior words – it’s actually quite easy to say nice things to others. It’s a lot harder to say nice things to ourselves.

I have found one solution that seems to be working, and it involves my trusty little iPhone. At times, I think this blog should be called “How to Lose Weight Using Just an iPhone” because I’m finding lots of great ways to use technology in this journey.

So, here’s what you do to use your iPhone to help you change the messages you tell yourself:

1. Go to the Calendar app, and hit the little “+” button in the top right hand corner.

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2. The “Add Event” Screen will appear. Under “title” write a positive affirmation. Remember to keep it short – if it’s too long, when the reminder pops up, you won’t see the whole thing.

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3. Set a time for the event – preferably some time when you’ll see it.

 

4. Click on repeat, and select “Every Day”

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5. Click on alert and select “At time of event”

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6. Add a note if you’d like.

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Now, every day at the same time, you’ll get a reminder filled with positive affirmations. I have one that pops up every day at 3:30, reminding me that I deserve to be healthy. This pops up on my way home from work, and is a great reminder to exercise when I get home.

The words we tell ourselves hold such power. Wars have been started over words. Words become beliefs. If we hear something enough, we believe it. The words I tell myself, my beliefs about who I am are the biggest obstacles in my path to success.

My struggle right now? Exercise. I have been fairly good at cutting back on mindless eating, not eating when I’m not hungry, avoiding emotional eating, and tracking my food. But creating a regular exercise routine? Hasn’t been happening. Perhaps this is because I don’t believe myself to be an athlete. Perhaps I don’t believe that I can actually do it. Those words need to change. I need to put together a regular exercise schedule and routine and stick to it.

And when I think about it – this is the biggest goal I have. This blog isn’t called “Thin by Forty”, it’s called “Fit by Forty.” Maybe I need to stop focusing on the actual weight loss and begin focusing on creating a healthy lifestyle based around fitness. I am going to examine how my beliefs about exercise and fitness are preventing me from achieving my goals.

To all my friends who have given me encouraging words, cheered me on and supported me since starting this blog, thank you. Your words truly are powerful and inspire me to persist towards my goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I can, I think I can…

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It’s day three in my contest with my friend. So far, I have tracked my food and exercise every day, although Tuesday I went over my daily calorie allowance. I’m not too upset by this because my dietician told me about the 80/20 rule: eating well 80% of the time, and allowing yourself times when you can splurge just a little. The important part is that I tracked what I splurged on.

Today, my sons and I went for a lovely hike by the ocean. It was a beautiful day and I got a great workout in while spending time with my boys. I am noticing that when I do exercise, I feel more in control of things. This is a good feeling ūüôā

This past week, I have been feeling more motivated. Perhaps it’s because I’m doing a friendly competition. But, I also think it may be because I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately, revisiting my past. It hasn’t been easy – in fact, at times, it’s been downright painful. My counsellor even gave me permission to engage in emotional eating right now to help comfort and nurture myself during this period.

I’ve never truly climbed a mountain – not yet at least – but that’s what this feels like… finally facing the hurtful voices from my past. I have come to recognize that I still do listen to the voices that told me over and over that I am fat and no good. Slowly, I am learning that these voices aren’t my truth, and that I no longer have to listen to them. Slowly, I am learning that I am, indeed, beautiful and deserving of love, and that my self worth is not related to my physical appearance. These voices are my biggest obstacle to my success. If I keep listening to them, I’ll keep believing them, and their truth will become my truth. I don’t want that. I don’t want those voices telling me that I do not deserve to be beautiful, healthy, thin, fit, loved and loving…. I don’t want to keep hearing those voices. And I don’t have to, either.

There is a very good reason that those people who spoke those words are no longer in my life. I chose to leave those people. They are no longer part of my life. And, just as I chose to physically distance myself from those people, I can chose to stop hearing their voices.  I had the strength and power to physically leave, and I have the strength and power to stop hearing their words.

As I think about this, I realize that I have, of late, surrounded myself by some pretty amazing people. People who love me, believe in me, support me and cheer me on. Not one of my friends has told me that I am fat, ugly and don’t deserve love. In fact, I have recently had a friend tell me how awesome I am, and one tell me that I deserve to be happy and be loved. I can see now that I truly have a great group of people in my life. I no longer need to listen to the voices from my past because I’m filling my heart with voices from the present… and I have learned how to fill my present with some pretty amazing people.

I keep saying that the biggest part of this whole journey is a mental one.  I have to believe in myself. I have to see myself as capable and deserving of being fit and healthy. The last three days, I have made good progress towards this. I am especially proud of the way that my emotional and mindless eating has been minimal.

I’m really beginning to think that I can do this. I am beginning to believe that I can lead a life of health and fitness.

Take a hike!

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I love Rocky Point Park. It is, hands down, my favourite place in the entire world. I’ve fallen in love there. I’ve had my heart broken there. I go there to find solace and comfort. It’s where I go when I want to be alone. I take the kids there for ice cream. ¬†In short: Rocky Point rocks. ¬†(groan – bad pun… sorry about that!)

The last few times I’ve visited the park, it was for a power walk. Everyone who I’ve talked to on a professional level about this journey I am has said the same thing: walking is the best exercise. I’ve downloaded a few apps to help me in this endeavour (Map My Run and Walk Tracker). However, I haven’t been able to made a¬†commitment to walk on a regular basis. This is frustrating. I know it will help my process. I know I feel better when I exercise. I know I love myself more when I’m working out.

My attempts at walking, as of late, have not been all that pleasant, which is stupid, because really: walking?! I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour).¬†It’s not supposed to hurt, is it? But it has. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My knees hurt. Man oh man – I sound like I’m 75 years old complaining about all of my aches and pains. I was walking at a brisk pace (averaging 5 km per hour).

The thing is: if I don’t start taking better care of myself, I will be complaining about all of my aches and pains, but a lot sooner than 75.

Tonight’s walk was meant to be more of a relaxing, enjoyable experience. No power walking for me tonight. ¬†Just a nice leisurely walk through the park, listening to a podcast on my iPod.

You know what?! It worked! I wasn’t playing upbeat music, trying fiercely to keep up with it, working up a huge sweat, huffing and puffing, and worn out by the 30 minute mark. I walked for 75 minutes this evening, enjoyed the beautiful weather and sunset (see the photo above!), and listened to a great podcast.

When I got home, I entered my walk into the My Fitness Pal app. To my surprise, I burned more calories than those short, higher intensity walks.

This? This I could do. I could block a chunk of time off in the evenings and go for a nice long walk while listening to a podcast of some sort. I could be learning while I’m walking! Cool.

I think – no, I know – the reason I haven’t been able to make a commitment to walking is that those power walks were damn painful. Yes, I know: no pain, no gain. But, let’s get their gradually. There’s a difference between the “good” pain that comes from working your muscles to their breaking point, and the “bad” pain that comes from a bad back and sore feet.

So, I need to take baby steps. I need to slow down and give myself permission to not be perfect.

That bears repeating:

I don’t need to be perfect!

Which is hard for me. I like being the best I can be. But right now? I’m not the best me. I’m fat and somewhat lazy, and I feel sorry for myself about it. So what do I do? I try to be perfect and work myself too hard, so hard it hurts (and not in the good way), so I give up. Time to change that. Time to give myself permission to just do my best, and recognize that, today, this long slower walk was my best. Sure, I’m not running a 5K (heck, I’m not even walking 5K yet!), but I got outside and moved. My body thanks me. My spirit thanks me. My heart thanks me. My feet, back and knees aren’t in pain, meaning I’ll be able to move tomorrow.

Anyone have any good suggestions for podcasts to listen to while I’m walking?

My Dietician Experience

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Last week, I had a phone appointment with a dietician. Through the Employee Family Assistance Plan at work, we have access to a number of different services, a dietician being one of them. I figured, “What the heck. It’s free. What have I got to lose?” (Actually, come to think of it, it isn’t really all that free – I do pay for these great benefits!)

After talking to her, I was not all that impressed at first. A lot of what she said sounded like stuff I’ve heard at Weight Watchers meetings. And, c’mon – weight loss is just common sense, right? Eat less, eat healthier, move more. (And, really, if it was that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this blog now, would I?). She said that she would send me some stuff via email, and we booked a follow up call for later this week.

I waited and waited for the email to arrive. It didn’t come until a few days later, and I only just now had the opportunity to sit down at my computer and read through what she sent.

Let me tell you: I am now thoroughly impressed!

It is very comprehensive! There were 5 different attachments with the email:

  1. A comprehensive meal plan and nutritional recommendations, personalized just for me. This is a 13 page document that she wrote specifically to meet my concerns, and address my issues. I can tell from what she wrote that she paid attention to what I said I like to eat, as the meal plan is truly based on my personal preferences!
  2. Emotional Inventory Checklist: a list of over 100 different emotions to help me identify what I’m feeling when I want to succumb to emotional eating.
  3. An instruction guide for the emotional inventory. Basically, what you do is this: when you feel like you’re about to eat for emotional reasons, take a minute to assess what you’re feeling, and place a check mark in front of the emotion on the list. Then, go ahead an eat. After eating,¬†re-evaluate¬†your feelings, and place a check mark behind the appropriate emotion on the list. After a week, you should be able to notice some trends.
  4. A sheet called “Quick! Distract Me!” with a list of things to do when you feel like emotional eating.
  5. A sheet titled “Ride the Craving Wave” with tips for dealing with cravings.

I’m quite excited about all of this. I think I’m going to print off the meal plan and¬†nutritional recommendations and put it in a binder or something. I haven’t read through the entire thing carefully yet, just skimmed it, but the thing that caught my eye was a basic skeleton meal plan, outlining when to eat, (three meals and three snacks), and how many servings from the various food groups I should eat at each meal. This sounds like it may be incredibly useful. Hmm… I think I may need to print that off, laminate it, put some of those sticky magnets on the back and post it on my fridge!! (Gee– can you tell I’m a teacher? I own a laminating machine and keep a roll of sticky -backed magnets on hand).

Even though at first I wasn’t really impressed with this dietician, I am really glad I called. I finally feel like I have someone truly helping me. And, it didn’t cost a bunch of money!

Goes to show that you don’t need to spend lots to lose weight!

(Hmm…. I smell an entire new blog brewing for when I finish this one! Free & Fit? Dieting for a Dime? I’m sure I’ll come up with a good title in the next 11 months!)

Spark People App Review

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The other day, I downloaded this app as a means of tracking my food. Since getting my iPhone 4 last year, I had been using the Weight Watchers app, and quite liked it. However, you can only use the WW app if you’re paying a monthly membership, which I’m no longer doing. I wanted to find something easy and¬†convenient to help me keep track of what I’ve eaten and how much I’ve exercised, and this one was free. Plus, I’d used the SparkPeople website before, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with it.

It took me a bit of time to get used to it. I really liked the WW app, and had become quite familiar with it. What is it with us humans and change? Oh well. I quickly got the hang of this new app. I like that it was a lot of different foods in its database, including restaurant food. I did notice that most of the commercially prepared food (including restaurants) was American brands we can’t get here in Canada. The format for adding foods is very similar to the WW app, and it allows you to add your own foods if you cannot find them in the database. You can also save foods to your favourites list.

One thing that I really like with the SparkPeople app are the graphs. I’m a visual learner, and seeing things represented¬†pictorially really helps. The home screen looks like this:

I love the bar graph! It’s a great way to see how you’re doing and keep you on track. I found it very helpful today. I also could see that I hadn’t burned enough calories. The amount of calories you are “allowed” to consume and the calories you’re “supposed” to burn can be set up in the settings. You can input how much weight you’d like to lose, and how soon you’d like to lose it (at a healthy pace), and the app calculates your calorie intake and output.

There is also a calorie differential graph which shows how much you’ve eaten and how much you’ve burned including your Base Metabolic Rate. Other graphs include a breakdown of all the calories you’ve eaten for the day, and a monthly chart of calories burned. You can also track how much water you’ve consumed.

I guess the only thing about the WW app I prefer over this one is the way fruits and vegetables are zero points. I’m not sure which I prefer: counting calories or WW points. I’m leaning towards the WW points, because not all calories are created equal.

But, the price of the SparkPeople app is right: it’s free, and I can afford that.

As I reflect on my journey to be Fit by Forty, I realize that I’m trying to do it as inexpensively as possible. A few weeks back, I posted about all of the diet companies plying on our desire to lose weight quickly, and making big money off of our desperation. I am thinking about adding a new goal to my journey: trying to lose weight as cheaply as possible!

So far, all I’ve bought in the name of weight loss, since starting this blog, are some multivitamins. In recent months, I invested in a fitness game for the Wii, some yoga DVDs and a really good pair of running shoes. I think, in total, I’ve spent less than $200 in the last three months on weight loss¬†paraphernalia. And, most of the money I’ve spent has been on reusable, non-consumable things.

I truly believe that you¬†can¬†lose weight for next-to-nothing. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to be healthy. And dang it, I’m gonna prove it!

Not all that smart.

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Ok, so today I’m kinda pissed off. A friend told me I’d have more “social capital” if I was thin. This was in reference to my frustration at blind dates who seemed nice, only to hear that “the chemistry just isn’t there.” Argh. Are all men so shallow as to not see beyond a person’s physical appearance? Hell, I’m a lot better looking than some of the skinny bitches out there. I once had a man tell me, on a first date, that he really liked me, but didn’t want to date me if I was planning on staying fat. He had recently lost a significant amount of weight, and wanted to be with someone who was like-minded. Funny thing? I lost weight while we were together, and he gained it. ¬†My ex-husband used to say, “I’d love you more if you were thin.” Ironically, he was 6’6″ and 330 lbs.

Once I was supposed to meet a man at Starbucks for coffee. We had connected on an online dating site. I had seen his photo. When I walked up to him at the coffee shop, he utterly ignored me – completely pretended he didn’t hear me say his name. I guess he didn’t like what he saw. ¬†Jerk.

Yes. I do realize that I’m being rather ugly right now. I’m also pissed off because my friend was right: it¬†would¬†be easier to get a man if I was thin. At least here in Vancouver, as it seems men in this part of the world are incredibly vain. I’m pissed off at myself for not trying harder to be fit. I’m just in an all around crabby mood. If it weren’t for the free tickets I won to the Jazz Festival (a week-long Hopper Pass!!), I’d be downright bitchy.

Then there’s my friend Jodi. Jodi rocks. She is a kindergarten teacher… but not your typical warm fuzzy, sticky-sweet,¬†appliqu√©-sweater-wearing soft-spoken granny. Nope. She rocks. She has become a great friend this year at work. It’s always nice to make friends at a new job, even nicer when they’re really cool.

Jodi is super athletic. She’s a power house! She sets goals and works her ass off to achieve them. I wish I had half the energy and motivation she has. Today, she posted in her blog about not being able to meet a physical goal of hers because of illness. But she’s not letting it get her down. Sure, she didn’t reach her goal by her intended date, but she’s¬†persevering¬†nonetheless. This woman lets nothing get in her way. She is, in a word, amazing. Her blog really inspired me today to not be bummed out by set backs.

I title my post tonight “Not all that smart” because I realized, on my ride home from an amazing jazz concert, that I haven’t set any real “SMART” goals. You know, Specific, Manageable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. ¬†This is exactly why I’m not moving towards my goal of being Fit by 40. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the philosophy of it all, trying to wrap my head around it, working on emotional eating, but I haven’t set any real goals.

Time for that to change.

A while back, I bought a game for the Wii. EA Sports Active or something like that. It has this 30 day challenge, created by Bob Greene – that guy who trains Oprah Winfrey. I’ve started it a few times but never gotten past the 4th or 5th workout. So, I’m thinking that I’m going to replace my morning yoga with this 30 day challenge program. I’m already getting up at 5am to work out, and this workout isn’t much longer than my yoga DVD.

I’ve also downloaded the SparkPeople app for tracking my food and exercise. I know one thing for certain: the only time I’ve ever been successful in losing weight is when I did two things:

  1. Tracked my food/kept a food diary.
  2. Exercised regularly with a mixture of cardio and resistance training.

I’ve been mulling this over for a week now. ¬†I know exactly what I need to do. It isn’t rocket science. I don’t know why tracking my food is so darn difficult. Why do I resist it so? Hmm… must psychoanalyse that a bit more.

Ok, so here are my smart goals for the week:

  1. Track my food for the next week. I’m not even going to worry if I eat crap. I’m just going to write it all down, even the not-so-healthy choices. Perhaps if the food choice is fuelled by emotions, I could make a note of that somewhere. I have a small notebook that I bought for this purpose. It’s in my car glove box. I will keep a food diary for the next week, aiming to do it for every meal, every day, but forgiving myself if I miss a meal or two. And, forgiving myself for not eating healthily.
  2. Wake up at 5am to exercise, this time using the 30 day challenge. My goal is to complete this challenge in the allotted 30 days. I am already in the habit of waking up to exercise, just not on the weekends. This week, I will make sure that I have my exercise clothes ready the night before, and make sure I’ve got all of the various Wii¬†paraphernalia ready to go in the morning. I picked up a pack of batteries this morning, so I can’t use “the batteries are dead” ¬†excuse.
  3. I will continue to drink at least one of my big water bottles per day. I’ve been adding lemons to the water, and this week I think I’ll try adding different fruit. Yum! Better than CrystalLite and tastier, too. I will drink one to two big bottles of water every day.
  4. I will remember to take my multivitamin with green tea extract every day at lunch time. I will keep track of this by writing it in my food diary.
  5. I will check in every night here on my blog to record how my goals for the day went.

 

So that’s it: Track my food, work on the 30 day challenge, drink water, take a vitamin, and check in every day with a short post recording how well I did keeping those goals. I am only going to focus on this week. Who cares about next week or next month. Hell, let’s just get through the next day.