Change of pace

So, it is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I should be outside running right now. Why, then, am I sitting here in my pajamas, sipping coffee, writing this blog post? I’m glad you asked!

It has been brought to my attention (by my body) that I am injured and need a rest from running.
I am quite disheartened by this news, but am trying hard to stay positive and be creative about other ways I can stay fit and keep burning calories.

Time for one leg squats?

better one leg squatA few weeks ago I remember teasing with the girls in my office that I must really have one dominant leg when I run because it seemed like I had built up the muscle in one leg significantly larger than the other.

I was frequently noticing while wearing capri-length pants that they would be very tight around my left calf, to the point of discomfort. But they fit just fine around my right calf.

One gal suggested it wouldn’t be that unusual to have one foot that I always lead with and that I could actually build up more muscle in that leg than the other. She thought maybe I should consider doing some exercises specifically with the other leg to try to even them out. It sounded somewhat logical, and I didn’t do any further research on the subject.

Over the last few weeks I’ve frequently found this situation to be very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable, but then other times I didn’t notice it at all and it would just slip from my mind. I would occasionally notice tightness in my calves, that one side in particular, and a little tingling and a lot of muscle twitching. I assumed this was just the results of working the muscles hard when I run.

Not your ordinary soreness

This past week on Monday, my left calf was really bothering me while I was at work. It seemed like as I sat at my desk, with my legs dangling down to the floor, my calf was swollen. I kept trying to prop it up on something under my desk, looking for some relief from the discomfort caused by swelling. On my lunch break I even sat out in my car, with my foot propped up on the dashboard for elevation, just trying to get some relief.

By Tuesday I started to realize some thing was really wrong here. This was not just muscle soreness from vigorous exercise. My left calf was swollen to nearly twice the size of the right leg! And it just felt so tight, and uncomfortable and constant twitching of the muscles. I decided it may be time to see my doctor. To be honest, my mind was zeroing in on ‘worst case scenario’ and I feared it may be a blood clot. I just wanted to hear my doctor say that it wasn’t that.

As it turned out, my doctor, upon seeing my swelling and hearing my symptoms, immediately became concerned about the same thing. She told me it was most likely that I had a sports injury, but that the symptoms and risk factors also pointed strongly towards deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and she wanted to rule that out before pursuing any other options.

She ordered me over to the hospital for an ultrasound “stat”! It always worries me when the doctor actually seems anxious and in a hurry for a test. Her staff called the hospital and explained they needed this test done right now, and they sat on hold while the hospital admin made calls to rearrange their appointments to fit me in. Then I went straight over there for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was an interesting process and I have to tell you, it looks a little bit like the moon – inside my leg. ๐Ÿ™‚ At the end of it, the technician told me that she cannot give me any results of the test, that the doctor would have to review it and go over the results with me. However, she could tell me that if she had found a blood clot she would not be allowed to let me leave the hospital. Then she smiled and said “And you are going home now”. Enough said, I finally exhaled with relief.

Time for a change of pace

A few hours later my doctor called with the official test results saying that the ultrasound was normal and there was no blood clot. That leaves us with the most likely culprit being some sort of tear, strain or other type of sports injury. She referred me to an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist. That was Wednesday afternoon, and with Thursday being the July 4th holiday, I had to wait until Friday to even call them for an appointment. Now I’ll be going in there on Monday to see what they have to say about the situation.

At least now that I know I am not dealing with anything life-threatening, I could start treating this like a soft tissue injury even though I don’t know exactly which muscle it is or the extent of the injury. I started immediately on Wednesday afternoon with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation), coupled with a few doses of Tylenol to help bring down the swelling.
RICE

Being the fitness addict that I now am, my mind is already reeling with thoughts like:

    How bad is this injury?
    How long will it take to heal?
    When will I be able to run again?
    How much more damage did I do by continuing to run long after being injured without realizing at the time that I was injured?
    What sort of rehab will I need to do to heal and rebuild my strength?
    How will I continue my quest for fitness and burn the calories I need so I can keep eating a decent amount without regaining the weight I’ve lost?
    What kind of exercise can I do that won’t continue to make matters worse in my leg muscles?

My biggest fear is that I’ll get lazy and completely fall off the wagon of exercising and end up gaining back the weight and losing the strength and fitness level I’ve worked all these months to gain.

My biggest sadness is that I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy my running and I’m already missing it. My husband is getting ready right now to head out for “our” early Saturday run and I am sad that I will be sitting here while he is out in the fresh air pounding the pavement.

The next step

I guess I will know more after I see the ortho-specialist. But for now I’ve begun formulating a plan and it goes sort of like this:

I know for the time being I need to drastically limit the exertion I put on that leg. I finally have the swelling down a bit and don’t want to aggravate it again.

There is a fitness-minded motivation group I am part of on Facebook, and one of the gals had recently posted a 30 Day Arms Challenge. I decided I’m going to give this a try, now is a good time to focus on my upper body strength and I should be able to do this without much impact to my legs. This is the challenge, I am only on day 3 and I am already feeling challenged, lol!
armchallenge

In addition to this, I’ve been doing some research on Runners World and found what looks like a pretty good plan for a core strengthening routine which I’ve now begun to follow. Core Strength Training

For more of a cardio type burn, I think that swimming will be my go-to for a while. However, until I see the doctor and know exactly what type of injury I’m working with, I’m reluctant to even work those legs in the water. Thursday morning I went for a swim and put a floaty-noodle under my chest and another smaller one under my ankles and did my laps with just my arms.

I may have to put running on hold for a few weeks but I’m going to have some tremendous upper body strength when this is done! ๐Ÿ™‚

The key I am trying to remember is that I made a decision to change my life, to become healthier, fitter, stronger and happier. I am NOT going to let a road block stop my progress, it will just send me down a different path for a while where there is still plenty of room for growth.

small changes

June 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Review Time

June ended up being a whole different kind of month in regards to my fitness activities.
In previous months, I had been mostly walking on my treadmill and was tracking and tweaking each month details like my starting speed, max speed, duration, and adding in small amounts of jogging intervals – each month slowly increasing the duration of those intervals and slowly increasing the speed as well.

Over the last nine months this has been a slow and steady transformation of my workouts from very basic, slow walks for short durations to longer walks, more speed, more incline, more calorie burn, etc. But the overall goal was to keep the progression very slow for the purpose of avoiding injury. (Because I have proven to myself over and over in the past that I am very prone to injury if I just jump full force into a running program.)

So how was June different?

Crossing the finish line - Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

Crossing the finish line – Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

June was kicked off by running the Kona Run 5K Race. This was a big goal for me. I had completed a 5K once before, in 2012, and I mostly walked it, finishing in just over 47 minutes. This time, I ran just about the whole 3.1 miles. I did take a few short walk breaks but for the most part I ran the whole thing. (Well, maybe jogged would be a better description.) My finish time was 38:14 which to me, is amazing!

This was a real eye opener to me, that I was ABLE to run over 3 miles. And this changed the dynamics of my workouts in the month of June. My scheduled walk/run days turned into more running than walking, and further distances than I did in the past.

With the recent acquisition of my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch, I also did a lot more of my workouts outdoors. What I found that was really different about this was my pacing. On my treadmill, I have full control of my pace. I set the speed on the treadmill and go, and my speed only changes if I adjust the speed of the treadmill. But on the street, I go…well…however fast my feet take me.

Granted, I can use some tools on my Garmin to set a pace and be alerted if I am going above or below it, but for the most part it is much more difficult to control my speed. Consequently, I ended up walking and running much faster on my outdoor runs in June than I had been doing previously on the treadmill. Being outdoors often pushed me to also increase my distance/duration. The further you get from home, you still have to go that distance to get back. It’s not like being on the treadmill where you can just press the stop button and step off.

The Mix

In previous months, I pretty much just walked on the treadmill. With the tiny intervals of jogging. But for the most part treadmill was what I would do, and I would do it 3 or 4 days a week.

This month I was actually trying to follow both a walking/running training program and also a strength training program. These were guides that were included in that book I had been reading, The Salt Solution.

The walking/running portion of the plan was a 6 days per week plan and was broke down like this:

    35 minute Interval Walk
    40 minute Steady-State Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    30 minute Power Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    50 minute Recuperative Walk
    Rest Day

The interesting part was that each week the duration times were increased, to the point where it was 45 minute intervals, 50 minute steady-states, 40 minute power walk, and an hour and a half recuperative. I had a hard time keeping up with the duration increases and found myself modifying this as the month went on.

The strength training was a 3 days per week program. It was a routine of 7 exercises and the program called for a certain number of reps and sets. For example, week 1 was one set of 10 reps of everything. By week 5 the first day you’d do 3 sets of 15 of all the exercises, day 2 was 3 sets of 12 reps, then 3 sets of 10 reps. The exercises were things like squats, chest press/fly with small hand weights, lunges, bent-over rows with the hand weights, dead lift curl presses, bicycle crunches and planks.

I followed this plan pretty closely all month so I was working out an average of 6 days per week, some days were both running and strength training. And I got in a good swim also about 2 days per week.
Pretty intense this month!!

With the addition of the Garmin to my fitness toolbox, I am now able to more closely track and report on my fitness activities. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until close to the end of the month that I could manually log activities that I didn’t use the Garmin for. So here is a glance at how this tracking looks, minus some activities like the strength training and early month treadmill runs.

Garmin Activity list June 2013

Garmin Activity list June 2013

BASIC STATS:

My treadmill stats were:
2.8 mph starting speed (up from 2.4 in May)
3.4 mph walking speed (up from 3.2)
4.2 mph run speed (up from 4.1)

However, my street running was more like an overall average of about 4.5 mph and this included my walking. I was typically walking at just over 4 mph and my running was a little over 5 mph.

I logged a total of 42.47 miles in the month of June, averaging 10.5 miles per week.

Average calorie burn: 220 per workout
Ending Weight: 121.6 lbs (down 2 lbs from the end of May)
Garmin June 2013

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio - the purple entries are mine (green is Jim's).  June was a very FULL month of training!

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio – the purple entries are mine (green is Jim’s). June was a very FULL month of training!

Was kind of surprised to see my weight keep going down this month. I was actively working to adjust my calorie intake to a higher level for “maintenance”. But it really wasn’t until the end of the month that I started taking in much more calories than normal, so with all that activity it’s no wonder I kept losing weight. Technically I did want to get down to 120 lbs, but had been thinking I’d save those last few pounds until after I stand up in Terri’s wedding in July. I don’t have much room to work with to maintain the perfect fit on that bridesmaid dress. But I guess a pound or two one way or the other won’t make much difference.

Weight Log June 2013

CC Weight Log June 2013

Sink or Swim

What better way to start a Saturday morning than a 3.50 mile run before breakfast!?

I really love the weekends when I can get my run in early in the morning. (I’ve yet to be able to get up early enough to do that during the work week.) It gives me a burst of energy to power through the day, and I like having it done and over with so it’s not looming over my head all day like an unfinished chore.

Run Summary
Distance: 3.50 mi
Time: 46:39
Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 115 ft
Calories: 285 C

Moving Time: 45:26
Elapsed Time: 46:39
Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
Avg Moving Pace:12:58 min/mi

It has become habit for me now on Saturday and Sunday mornings to hit the treadmill around 7 or 8:00 a.m. before I even make breakfast. It’s funny how at later times in the day, I need to time my workout well within a certain range after a meal or else I end up running out of fuel for the workout. Yet, first thing in the morning before eating anything I can power through just about any workout as long as I do it very soon after waking up (usually within 30 minutes of getting out of bed.) If I wait much longer than that, I start to get hungry and don’t have quite the energy-fuel my body needs for a good run.

My husband has often commented that he doesn’t know how I can work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But this weekend he decided he wanted to give it a try, so we laced up around 8:00 a.m. and headed outside for a good run together. Today was my “long run” so I decided to go 3.5 miles, which so far is the longest I’ve ever run. And I actually RAN pretty much the whole way. I did allow myself a 1/4 mile brisk walking break after about 1-3/4 miles while I was heading up a big hill. And on the last mile there were a few uphill stretches that I walked. But for the most part I ran it!!

When we got home, Jim suggested we head to the pool to cool off. There is a nice pool at our condos, but we don’t typically use it much. Most of the time that I consider using the pool, it is either not open, or is filled with children. This morning we had the whole pool to ourselves and we did 30 minutes of laps.

The water felt so refreshing after that run! I really liked the idea of adding more workout to my day, while doing what actually felt like a cool-down to the run. It was nice and low-impact on my knees, yet was strenuous and challenging and I ended up burning almost as much calories swimming for 30 minutes as I burned on my 46 minute run!

To my surprise, within a few hours, I became very sore. I mean, really, really sore. My arm and chest muscles, basically my whole upper body, was screaming at me! I hadn’t fully considered what a strong upper body workout it was to swim laps and apparently the small amounts of strength training I’ve done in the last few weeks has not been enough to prepare me for swimming laps.

But, I was determined to be in full “beast-mode” today and I still stuck to my 25 minutes of strength training that I had planned for this evening. It was hard, but I felt very accomplished after completing it.

There is something that just feels so good about doing something physically challenging, especially when you don’t feel like you can do it. Getting it done feels like a big win!

My eating was a bit off the charts today, but I did use a certain amount of restraint. After all this running and swimming we cleaned up and headed out to see a movie at the theater that we’d been wanting to go see (the new Star Trek movie, was really good – I highly recommend it!) and we were both so hungry we knew we needed to grab lunch somewhere before the movie.

Opted for Panera Bread since it was on the way and they have fairly healthy options on the menu with several good choices for lower calorie meals. I got the “You Pick Two” deal where you get half of a cafe sandwich and half of a salad. I chose the Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich (which is my absolute favorite!) and the Strawberry poppy-seed salad with chicken. The salad had so much good stuff in it! Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, roasted chicken and pecans, it was fabulous! Lunch came in at about 425 calories and between all that fruit, the protein from the chicken and turkey, and the healthy fats in the avocado, I felt very good about the nutritional content of my choices. The worst part was the high sodium, even now several hours later my face is still flushed from the elevated sodium! (My weird physical reaction to high sodium meals is something I guess I’ll have to cover some day in another post.)

The eating went a bit downhill from here. At the theater I indulged a bit because, well…just because part of the “going out to the movies” experience is eating junk food! But I kept it in check for the most part, I got some water instead of soda (I don’t normally drink soda anyway, but it seems more tempting when I’m out somewhere like that), and I got a box of chocolate covered raisins (my favorite movie snack!). Before even opening the box I checked the nutrition facts label and sure enough they claimed there were 2.5 servings in the box! And each serving was 180 calories. So I was careful to only eat what I believe was about 1 serving and left the rest in the box. Said box of chocolate covered raisins is currently sitting on the desk next to me testing my resolve. I expect that box to land in the garbage soon before I am tempted to finish it off.

On our way home from the movie, we grabbed some sandwiches from Subway to have on hand for dinner. It really is nice every now and then to take an entire day off from cooking! And again I went for their Turkey Bacon Avocado sub on 9 grain whole wheat bread. I really love that combo of flavors, and I realize I could have saved substantial calories by skipping the bacon on both sandwiches but come on, every one loves bacon right!?

After dinner we were craving dessert, I did indulge but was careful on the portion sizes. I had 1/2 a Vitatop deep chocolate muffin top. (These things are seriously delicious, taste like a chocolate brownie, but they are PACKED with vitamins and nutrition and they are only 100 calories!) And we still had some ice cream left in the freezer that my mother in law had brought over when we celebrated Jim’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. So, I had 2/3 of a serving of the ice cream with it. So just by only having partial servings of each of those I shave off about 100 calories from dessert from the standard serving size. And considering most people typically serve themselves much more than what the product describes as a serving size, I think I did really well.

I’m only including all this detail about the food today because of my last post where I talked about my struggles with sweet treats. I’ve decided that if I really want it, I’ll let my self have it and I’ll enjoy it. BUT with that comes some responsibility on my part to closely monitor my serving sizes, and to make sure I am burning the necessary calories to balance it out. My normal daily calorie target is 1350 and today I ate 1708. However, I did so much exercise, that I burned over 600 calories. I closed out the day with a -197 calorie deficit, so I do not feel one ounce of guilt over today’s eating.

Tomorrow I will probably be very sore from that swimming. But I enjoyed it and I am so proud of myself for getting in so much activity today! Luckily I have an 80 minute massage scheduled in the morning, that should help quite a bit. Tomorrow is a 55 minute recuperative walk, I think I’ll try to get that in early so that after my massage I can completely relax for the rest of the day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Cookies: The Frenemy

Cookies are my Frenemy. They bring me much joy, and cause me much grief.

Especially these ones! Lofthouse soft baked, frosted Red Velvet cookies!

Disclaimer  Only one cookie was harmed in the making of this photo.

Disclaimer Only one cookie was harmed in the making of this photo.

“Special Occasion” Eating and Treats

I wanted to talk a bit today about the challenges of managing eating on “special occasions” and/or indulging in “treats”. This is an area where I have become more aware of the challenges and consequences, and yet I still struggle to conquer this situation.

For example, last Saturday, not only did I run a 5K, but later that night I attended my best friend Terri’s bachelorette party. Part of my job was to bring food. I gave this much thought because I knew I would be eating whatever I brought and I wanted to provide myself with lower calorie, somewhat healthy options. But I also wanted to do it in a way that the other gals at the party would enjoy the selections, with the options being kind to their waistlines.

This is what I took to the party:

Fresh Veggie tray (all fresh, local, organic veggies I washed & chopped myself the night before)
French onion dip – not the healthiest, but quite yummy!
Tortilla chips
Salsa
Special K Popcorn chips (sweet & salty)
Lofthouse Red Velvet Cookies

Since I had done the race that morning and burned a good amount of calories, I really didn’t want to spoil my calorie count for the day by splurging too much at this party. I carefully logged on calorie count what I planned to eat, one serving size of everything I brought, plus two drinks of vodka & club soda. This, combined with what I’d already eaten for the day, was going to put me +200 calories over my daily target (even counting the calories burned from my race) – which was an acceptable overage given that it was a ‘special occasion’.

As usual, everything changed once I actually got to the party. I stuck to my two drinks of vodka and soda, but I also indulged in several servings of gummy bears soaked in vodka and others soaked in rum. And one of the gals brought pudding shots, which I quickly refused when first offered to me. Soon all the ladies were sampling the pudding shots and raving about how good they were, I ended up having two of them. (And yes, they were delicious!)

I stuck to my plan of only eating one serving size of everything that I brought. But then Terri’s mom (who, by the way, is one of the coolest mom’s I’ve ever met!) also made homemade pita chips and buffalo chicken dip. I resisted it for several hours but finally gave in, and after tasting how delicious that was, I went back for seconds of that. She also made bacon cheese stuffed pastries, which I resisted as long as possible but eventually caved in and ate several of those. (Also, delicious!) Oh, and did I mention the red velvet cookies? You KNOW I couldn’t stop at just one of those!

All said and done, I’m sure that my day ended somewhere more like +1000 calories over my target instead of the +200 over target I had planned.

Terri& I at her bachelorette party, June 2013

Terri& I at her bachelorette party, June 2013

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a GREAT time at Terri’s party, and I am so happy to be sharing all these special occasions with her leading up to her wedding. I really enjoyed all the food, and drinks, and fun and laughing and all that great stuff.

What I am getting at is that I am having a hard time exercising discipline with food when I get outside of my normal, structured, planned eating patterns. This has always been an area of particular weakness for me, especially when it comes to sweet treats.

Exercising discipline feels too much like exercise…

It is an ongoing, never ending battle. The battle against doughnuts at the office. Birthday cakes. Celebration dinners. Home baked treats. Ice cream on hot days.

I brought home about a dozen of the red velvet cookies from the party. I have eaten one almost every day since then and only managed to abstain on two days.

Cookies: 4, Debb: 2 As usual, the cookies are winning

I find myself spending hours fighting the good fight in my head, trying to talk myself out of eating rich, delicious, sugary treats. It seems like I can resist for so long, but often I give in “eventually” and indulge. And part of me thinks that somehow I did good because of how long I resisted. When the fact is that the calories count whether I gobble them up the moment the urge strikes or if I “exercise discipline” for a torturously long time and then indulge.

In the end, I am unsure how to overcome this obstacle. I do not suspect my sweet tooth is going away anytime soon, I have had it my whole life. There is nothing I love more than sweet treats. However, I think if I am going to indulge at all I need to start just making the decision to do it, do it, and live with it and move on. Instead of fighting and trying to resist and putting myself through the guilt-trip wringer and then still giving in.

Unfortunately, that’s the best I have for this problem, at the moment….

In conclusion, I was just telling my husband I was writing a post that I don’t have a good ending to. Because frankly, I just don’t have a good solution right now. And he said “maybe if you read my post tonight on calorie count it will help”. This is what he wrote:

“And finally, as a good husband I am doing my part to help the wife get rid of the red velvet cookies that are tormenting her nightly in the kitchen.”

Counting my cookies – MY STORY

Who is this girl, and why is she counting her cookies?

It’s time that I took a minute to introduce myself and give a little insight into the birth of this blog, it’s purpose, and my expectations of it; and what you can expect of it.

My name is Debbie. I am 40 years old, married for almost 5 years to the most wonderful husband (Jim) and we have a 15-year-old daughter (Cecilia). We live in the metro Detroit area and I work full-time in a customer service role with a large national industrial supply distributor.

My journey with health and fitness has been a long one. I have had a love/hate relationship with fitness my whole life. I go through cycles where I get really committed to being active and fit, then I tend to get lazy over a period of time and gain weight and become more unhealthy.

I love the way that exercising makes me feel and of course the way it helps me to look! But it can be challenging to maintain an active lifestyle when you work full-time and especially if you’ve let yourself go a bit, the less “in shape” you are, the harder it is to do the things you need to do to get back into shape.

Several years ago I (once again) reached my typical “fat weight” of about 150 pounds. I am 5’2″ so really an ideal weight for me is around 120 lbs or a little less. At 150 I am wearing size 12 pants, feeling sluggish and uncomfortable and feeling generally unhappy with myself. At that time, my husband and I started watching The Biggest Loser and decided to do a little biggest loser competition of our own. Each week we had a weigh- in, and which ever of us lost the least percentage of our body weight had to clean the cat litter boxes. (We have 2 cats, and 4 litter boxes – this is not a fun job!) Over the course of the year that followed (we started the day after Thanksgiving so that has become our “Fitness Calendar Year”) I lost 11 lbs.

I never quite made it all the way to my goal, I hit a plateau around 138 lbs and felt relatively comfortable there (in comparison to where I had been). That was when the laziness set back in. The frequency of my workouts diminished. I started eating larger portions, stopped tracking my calorie intake, went back to eating more “treats”. Over the next year and a half I had gained back the 11 lb. and then some.

The turning point.

September 2012, I was back up around 150. I had an 8 night cruise scheduled in March and would be standing up in my best friends wedding in July. I knew if I wanted some changes by those events I needed to start NOW. This was when I decided it was time to take control again and get back to where I wanted to be.

The ONLY thing I’ve ever found that works for me to lose weight is counting calories.

No fad diets, nothing crazy, just counting how many calories I eat, tracking how many I burn and creating the deficit needed for my body to burn stored fat and lose weight. So I logged back on to www.caloriecount.about.com and started logging my calories daily and tracking my activities/calories burned. (If you want to follow me there, you can find me under the screen name Starlanna)

You can check out my posts on this blog titled with Month/year to follow my monthly fitness journey summaries where I outline what kind of workouts I did and how I changed it up each month.

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs


November 2012 at David's Bridal

November 2012 at David’s Bridal

May 2013 - after losing 27 lbs.

May 2013 – after losing 27 lbs.


To date I have lost 27 lbs, I went from 150 lbs to 123 lbs and shrunk from size 12 jeans to size 5/6.

Determination to maintain this weight drives me to keep up this blog, I am tired of the yo-yo cycle and I need somewhere to be accountable. In addition, as I will talk about more in later posts, my journey has led me to making a lot of changes in my lifestyle to improve my overall health. Like changing the kind of food I eat and how I arrange my days to include activity. I’m not getting any younger and I am determined get more and more fit and healthy as I grow older instead of gaining weight and watching my health deteriorate – for as much as I can help it anyway. It has been a long, slow process of baby-steps but the results have been wonderful.

Initially, I started logging some of this stuff using the journal tool on Calorie Count. But recently I started looking for inspirational blogs to follow and frankly I’ve just been inspired to start my own.

Let me just say, I know NOTHING about blogging. I am internet challenged, I feel like I am in the generation that just sort of missed out on some of this stuff, but I am up for the adventure of learning all about it!

I am not a professional blogger. This is meant to be a hobby for me right now, a place to track my progress, document what has worked for me and what I’ve learned. Share some insights about how I’ve lost the weight, how I’m keeping it off and how I’m improving my overall health with better nutrition. My main goal is to keep myself accountable to keep going.

My motto is “You have to keep it going if you want to keep it off!

Hopefully, there will be some folks who will stumble across this blog and find it somewhat informative, mildly amusing, and may take inspiration from it or learn a trick or two they might want to try in their own life.

My time to spend on this blog is very limited, since I work full-time and spend a fair amount of my free time working out or playing in my kitchen. I will be reading all comments and will most likely respond to them all but please do not be offended if I do not respond right away.

If you see something that seems crazy to you about my blog, please don’t judge – I am just learning how all this stuff works and haven’t figured out even half the features of WordPress yet. Your constructive suggestions and tips are welcome!

Healthy Eating Habits

Just thinking about some of the habits I’ve developed over the last year or so that have really enabled me to be successful in eating healthier and reducing my calorie intake:

– Stock the freezer with steam-in-the-microwave vegetable side dishes for dinner.
These are ready in about 5 minutes, pack a ton of nutrition, are tasty and very low in calories.

– Stock the freezer with frozen fish.
Preferably the unbreaded or very lightly breaded kind. Keep a variety like salmon, tilapia, cod. Pop these in the oven for around 30 minutes after work, couple with a steamfresh veggie side and you’ve got a filling, nutritious, yummy dinner for 300 calories or less! Take it a step further, skip the tartar sauce and instead keep fresh lemons on hand and squeeze fresh lemon juice onto your fish.

– Stock the fridge with fresh veggies, buy organic & local – they will last longer.
We use a local organic produce delivery service. www.doortodoororganics.com For the same cost we would spend at the grocer each week, we get a box of fresh, local organic produce delivered to our doorstep. Our box arrives on Friday, I cut everything up on Sunday and by the end of the week the veggies are still fresh!

– Preparation is key!
I spend an hour on Sunday cutting up veggies and storing mixed varieties in tupperware-type bowls to take to work through the week. Pre-portion healthy dip into covered to-go containers as well, I recommend Hommus. Measure out snack crackers like Triscuits into baggies to go as well. Play with the serving size: if 6 crackers is 120 calories but you’d like your snack to be a little less, then only pack 4 or 5 crackers.

– Keep the pantry stocked with low-calorie, nutritious snacks.
Keep a basket full of quick, portable snacks like Kashi soft baked bars or chewy granola bars. Fill the pantry with options that are under 200 calories per snack. Bananas work great for this too. Before they get overly ripe, peel them, cut into pieces and pop them into the freezer in a bag to be used later in protein shakes.

– Keep a variety of low-calorie snacks to suit your tastes at different times.
We subscribe to Nature Box – they ship a box once a month filled with delicious snacks, different stuff each month – and it is all organic or non-gmo, all-natural and yummy!

– Switch to smaller dishes!
Stock your cupboards with 4 oz glasses to easily portion out juice, milk, etc into amounts of fewer calories than a standard 8 oz serving. Use dessert-sized plates for your main entrรฉe. You can take smaller portions and still have the visual sensation of eating a full plate of food.

– Invest in good measuring tools for your kitchen.
You can never have enough measuring cups, stainless steel measuring spoons, and even serving spoons that are 1/2 cup size to help portion control from the pan to the plate.

September 2012 – Getting Started

I’ve been keeping track of my fitness journey on a big white board in my workout studio. I decided I should transfer that info here since eventually my white board will get full and I’ll need to clear it and start over, this way I can keep track of this progress long-term. I am writing this in May 2013, back-dating some entries just to keep track of what I was doing and when.

In September of 2012 I decided it was time to get back in action. A few years prior I had spent a year working on health and fitness and I lost about 15 pounds but then over the course of the next 2 years I became very lazy with my eating habits and inconsistent with my exercise to the point of about 6 months of no working out at all. My starting weight initially was 150 lbs and I had managed to get down to 135. At this point in September I am not sure how much I weighed but I think I was getting close to that 150 lb mark again and decided it was time to start getting busy to rectify that. Keep in mind, I am only 5’2″ so at 150 lbs I’m a size 12 and feeling very “pudgy”. I was feeling very out of shape and any exercise at all was really challenging. So I started small, but at least I started!

Treadmill stats:

1.0 mph starting speed. Increased speed by .2 mph every minute during warm up until I reached max speed of 3.0 mph

Duration: 30 minutes

Frequency: 2 to 3 times per week (mostly twice per week)

Ending weight: 145 lbs

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs

February 2012 in Bahamas, weight approx. 140 lbs

I don’t have any pictures from this exact time period. At that point, I was not going out of my way to have my picture taken. I’m posting a pic here that was actually from February 2012 just to give an idea of where I was at – I put on about another 10 pounds after this picture was taken. This was taken on our balcony of the cruise ship from a short Bahamas cruise we went on. This was also before I cut my hair. I got my hair cut in March 2012, the day before I walked my first 5K race. I’d had really long hair for years and finally got it “chopped” – you’ll see more of that in posts to come.