Friday, June 26, 2015

An ounce of cure is worth a pound of bacon?

The last two weeks have been a bit of a roller coaster for me. A week ago I weighed in at 237.8 and I was feeling pretty damn good about myself.

"Good work, me!" I said, "You bounced back from your bad week and you're headed in the right direction again. Well done."

And what magnificent thing did I do to get back on track? Nothin' special. I went on a couple of walks. I was more careful about my calorie deficit. I played A LOT of video games and slept in and sat on my butt for long hours. The week was remarkable only in that it wasn't remarkable at all. And yet, there was the number I was looking for. Back in the game. In it to win it.

I thought to myself, "Self! This is almost too easy! Even when you 'misbehave', all you have to do to get caught up is increase your activity level by a tiny bit? How much did you walk total for the week? 20 blocks, maybe? 3-ish miles? That's almost nothing. Now, it was outside in the heat and involved some small hills, but give me a break! Imagine if you really got to work on a treadmill! Imagine if you *gasp* ran." I started getting all excited because I knew that the next week I'd be at the gym a lot. My friend had spoken with a trainer who was all set to give me four really intense training sessions, and if I could recover from a stumble based on nothing more than what I had already been doing, this trainer was going to put me way ahead of the game. Just in time for me to go back on the road for a few weeks and not collapse into a steaming heap of fail.

So, this week started. I got up, bleary eyed and grumpy and headed to the gym to meet the miracle worker who was going to help me lose an unachievable number of pounds in just four sessions. "This is going to suck," I thought, "but will be SO WORTH IT come Friday when I weigh in."

(because mornings)
The trainer wasn't there when we got to the gym. We got word from him a few minutes later that he'd had a death in the family and wasn't going to be able to make it. Ok. No problem. Only a minor set back. I'm still at the gym, and, hey! There's a spin class starting right now! I can go burn a zillion calories in a dark room on a bike! Perfect. Day = Success!

I never did meet with the trainer, but I did go to the gym 4 days in a row (which might be a record for me). 2 spin classes. A yoga class with some treadmill time beforehand. And today a strength training class. Mostly arms and shoulders, which was good. Even focusing on arms and shoulders we somehow did 9 billion squats. I'm not sure my knee would have made it through a leg day. Yikes!

And I've been carefully keeping my calorie deficit a genuine deficit. I have been eating more calories than previous weeks, but still well below the extra that I "earned" from my miles and miles of spinning classes. (If you ever want to watch me sweat like I've been running through sprinklers, you should watch me in a spinning class.) All systems go. Everything on track. Practically looking forward to my weigh in this morning because I'd been so good. "Good" by my standards, anyway. And compared to the last few weeks? Fah ged aboud it. Those weeks don't even count compared to this week.

So, class is over. Nearest scale is here at the gym. Get it done.


Um...excuse me? That's not funny, scale. Now I know I'm wearing shoes, but these shoes weigh 1/2 a pound, if that. So, what are you trying to pull here, huh? I was expecting you to land somewhere in the 235 range. I mean, I wasn't expecting miracles or anything, but I was certainly expecting a decline. What is this shit?

Needless to say, I'm disappointed. No, not disappointed. Disappointed would mean I had failed. It would mean that I could clearly see the mistakes I made and would be able to correct them. What I'm feeling is discouraged. My poor little brain is running a thousand miles an hour trying to figure out where I went wrong when everything looked so right. I guess I didn't drink enough water? Could falling short on my water intake account for weight gain? Maybe. What do I know? I haven't been getting a full 8 hours of sleep a night. I hear that's important. The gym classes were in the morning and I tend to stay up late. But I've still been getting 6 - 7 hours, if not more. That should be plenty for an adult. It's not like I'm a growing teen that needs buckets of sleep to function. I'm probably going to start my period in a few days. Could that be it? I've never noticed that I gain weight before I start my period, but maybe and I just never noticed? I guess?

Too many questions. Not enough answers. The problem with experimenting on myself is that I'm not a good control group. Maybe it was the protein shake that did me in. Maybe the scale wasn't calibrated properly. Maybe I've hit one of those terrifying "plateaus" everyone keeps telling me about. I truly don't have any idea, and that is frustrating. Obvious mistakes are easy to correct. (Well, at least easy to identify. Discipline ain't easy, kids.) But when you truly don't have any idea, it's hard to know how to adjust for the next week.

Oh well. So much for my power week. Guess I'll go back to video games and walks.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Riding the Excuse Train

Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone while a train is passing nearby? It's almost impossible. Trains are big and loud and drown out most of the world around them. Excuses are like that. It's nearly impossible to have a conversation (even with yourself) while a train of excuses for why you can't or didn't or couldn't is passing through your head.

Last week I planted myself firmly on the excuse train and dug in my heels. I weighed in yesterday (I'd like to say it was the first day "I was able" to get to a scale, but the truth is, it was the first day I looked for one) and the number had gone up (as I expected).


I'll be honest with you (because that's what this blog is all about), that number isn't as bad as I was anticipating.

Here's my list of excuses, which, despite some of them being more honest than others, don't hold much water:

1 - "Last week was rough." How's that for vague? I could go into details about why, overall, the week wasn't the most pleasant week I've ever spent, but this isn't a very good, or honest, excuse. The truth is, two days of last week were rough. That's not enough to condemn the entire week and certainly doesn't alleviate me of any responsibility for myself.

2 - "I was traveling." When I mentioned to my mom that I was starting this blog, she suggested that I make it a "how-to" for eating healthy on the road. I almost laughed myself to tears. I have no idea how to eat healthy on the road. In fact, my struggle to eat healthy while traveling is part of the reason I'm on this journey in the first place. When I kicked this off, I was at the last 3 days of a 5(ish) month tour. I had about three weeks off before I was going to hit the road again, and that was a good amount of time to get myself focused and started. But I knew going in that I would have a harder time staying on target while I was touring. So, yeah, staying inside my calorie budget while I'm on tour is hard for me, but not a good excuse.

3 - "My knee hurts." This is true. My right knee has been achy for a couple of weeks. Not to the point where it hurts me to walk. Maybe I overdid it (or, more likely, my form was bad) when I was doing some squats. (Yes, I did squats one time. I didn't die.) Who knows? I managed to do water aerobics with my mom with my knee hurting. I managed to go on a walk with my dad. This excuse is annoying even to me because a) there are people with actual injuries or disabilities that manage to not sit in their hotel rooms all day, b) I bought myself a knee brace and then never put it on, and c) I just told you walking doesn't hurt. I'd be willing to bet that every hotel I was in had a treadmill. I wouldn't know. Despite the fact that my "rough week" included two entire days off, I never even looked in the window of the fitness center at any of the hotels. Wanna know what could have compensated for my less efficient food choices? 60 minutes of walking.

The moral of this story is not to beat myself up about falling short this week. A number is just a number, and overall, I'm still ahead of schedule. The point is to remind myself that (in my case) excuses are just justifications of bad behavior. I'm clever and creative. I spend a lot of time finding work-arounds for problems. That skill can and should be applied to this area of my life as well. Yes, it's hard to stay motivated when you're tired. Yes, it's hard to stay on track when you feel like you freaking earned a dessert today. (p.s. Sometimes you have earned a dessert. Just make sure it fits in your calorie budget!) But at the end of the day, only I am responsible for the food I put in my body. And I also live in a country where I am free to decide my own activity level. How lucky am I?

So, you fall down, you get back up. You fail, you start over. For now, this is like playing Contra with the unlimited lives cheat code. (80's reference!) It doesn't matter what happened yesterday. It matters what happens today and tomorrow. Get back up. Start over. Respawn. Don't punish yourself to the point you get frustrated and walk away.

This is doable. And positive. And it's worth not quitting.

If the excuse train is too loud to be heard over, get a megaphone. Or better yet, move away from the train.

Friday, June 5, 2015

So much for planning

It's that time again. I know you've been holding your breath to see if I'd actually blog again. Well, your lack of oxygen to the brain has paid off! Here's your nonsense for the week.

But first, we do the numbers. (Did anyone else hear Kai Ryssdal from Marketplace in their head when they read that? No? Just me? Great. Anyway, here we go...)

I weighed in today at 239.4 lbs. That's another almost 3 lbs down and I broke the 240 barrier (which was about where I gave up on my last adventure). Granted, the barrier isn't broken by much, and I still have miles to go before I sleep, but I'm still on track. Actually, a little ahead of schedule, which is fantastic because I'm super worried about hitting my first plateau.

I've been wandering through some other people's weight loss blogs (and if you have several months to kill, there are about as many weight loss blogs as there are...I just spent five minutes trying to come up with a clever cliché. I got nothin'. Fish in the sea? Starbucks in Seattle? Mosquitoes in my parents' backyard? Pick your favorite. Point is, there are a lot.) and I've started to freak myself out. Mostly they talk about how this is hard and there are lots of setbacks and drops in motivation that lead to backtracking. This person lost 75 lbs, but it took them 2 years. That person lost 120 lbs, but it took them over 3 years. And my brain (really, my worst enemy sometimes) has started whispering things like "you're in over your head here. You've set an unrealistic goal and now you've got other people's money tied up in it and you're going to lose. It's not physically possible to do what you've set out to do."

Which I'm pretty sure is all a lie.

Here's the thing: that's their story. And my story is not their story. I don't know what their personal struggles were or are - no matter how detailed they are about them in their blogs (I can't know because I'm not them) . I don't know what kind of support they had, or even if they had any. I don't have a detailed account of their methods. Just the things they chose to share. And that's not enough data to make an accurate comparison.

And, for every "I made it but it took me three times as long as you've allowed yourself" there's someone else (you know, trainers and medical professionals and nutritionists and people with degrees who have done studies and research and have experience and knowledge I don't have) saying that the goal I've set is perfectly reasonable. One trainer said that if I committed to him, he could help me lose 100 lbs in 6 months. I'm not sure I'm ready to put myself through that kind of punishment, and I'm certain I wouldn't be able to maintain that energy level in the long term (which is the goal here, right? Get it off and keep it off?) and the very reasonable excuse of "I travel 9 months out of the year" makes that not even an option (however tempting). But, excited fitness trainers aside, the majority of the research (read: Google searches) I've done have said that you can reasonably (and healthily) lose 2 - 3 lbs a week. When I set this goal, I estimated 2 lbs/week and figured that would give me some wiggle room to get me through the plateaus. Here's math:

2 lbs/wk * 52weeks = 104 lbs.
104 > 90.


I actually thought a lot about what I was going to blog about this week. None of that was it. :)

But before I publish this and then tell Facebook what I've done, I do want to mention a couple of other things I've added (or am trying). I had intended to go into some detail about them, but I've rambled on enough already, methinks. Maybe next week I'll flesh this out. I don't have that much detail anyway.

  • I'm taking green tea extract once a day. (This, my friends, was the inspiration for the title of the blog. I know you were bursting with curiosity about that. Now you know.) Green tea is supposed to be good for all kinds of things. The one that particularly caught my eye is it has been proven to target and break down that most evil of all the fats: belly fat. (I don't actually know why belly fat is more evil than fat in other places. But from what I hear it is specifically linked to all kinds of rotten health things, so getting rid of it should be good.) I could be drinking unsweetened green tea, but, quite frankly, I'd rather drink boiled grass. So, since the pill form seems to be just as effective (from what I've read anyway), and doesn't taste like warm mud, I'm just taking the pill.
  • Multi-vitamins! (The chewable gummies, because the 5 year old in me said so.) Just one. Nothing fancy. Women's One a Day. Not the Multivite brand because I don't like them as much. They don't taste as much like candy. (Go ahead and judge. Your judgement means nothing. Vitamins are good for me because I'm exceptionally bad at eating a balanced diet.)
  • Benefiber. Well, actually the generic because when I sat on the floor (it was on the bottom shelf and I have no shame) and read the labels, there was 0 difference. It's all just wheat dextrin and the store brand was 1/3 the price. It did not, however, come in handy-dandy single-serving water-bottle-friendly packets. This made me so sad that I nearly handed over an extra $10 for something I wasn't even sure was going to be beneficial. For experiment time, I decided to just use a spoon like a grown up. (I'd already allowed my inner child to buy gummie vitamins. You gotta draw the line somewhere.)
I'll go into more detail about the Benefiber later, but I will say that I've been taking it for about a week (1 heaping Tbsp in 16oz (approx.) of water per day) with no ill effects. And, true to the commercial, there is no taste or texture difference (that I've noticed).

So, I'll flesh out those choices a little more next week (or whenever I get around to blogging again.) In the mean time, thanks for going on this journey with me and for all the supportive shout outs on Facebook. It means a lot that so many of you are cheering for me.