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.”

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I ran 5K, and no one was chasing me!

Saturday I ran the 5K race “Kona Run” in Northville! That’s right, I ran it!!
My official race time was 38:14 which is, by far, a personal best for me!

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

Getting ready to start the Kona Run 5K, June 8, 2013

I am not a runner

If you’ve followed my monthly fitness stats at all, you’ll know that I am really not a “runner”. I’m more of a walker who sort of wishes she was a runner. But, my short little legs have a hard time building up too much speed (I am only 5’2″!). And I used to be an avid hiker. I have a knee injury from a hiking adventure many years ago which likes to flare up and cause me much grief when I push myself too hard trying to run.

Taking-in-the-view copy

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Debb-holding-Molly copy

Somewhere around 8 or 9 years ago I did a 22 mile hike, in the woods (read: hills!), wearing a 30 lb. pack on my back, and with my dog – who loved the hike but tired out easily and repeatedly wanted to be carried! About 13 miles in, I injured a tendon behind my right knee and it became VERY painful to even walk. Every step was a new experience in pain. Unfortunately, I still had almost 10 miles to go to get out of the woods, there was no choice but to continue. My hiking partner also had a full pack and really wasn’t able to assist with my pack. I hiked in pain and in tears for hours!

My doctor diagnosed it as tendonitis and the problem with it is that while it heals up, it never really goes away. It is easy to trigger a flare up. About 6 years ago I had dabbled with running and found myself over and over fighting with flare ups in that knee.

In 2011 I bought a treadmill and started walking. I decided I’d learned my lesson in the past with trying to run, and bringing on the pain, and this time I would just have to settle for being a walker.

2012 found me signing myself up for a 5K race. Not sure what really possessed me to do that, I knew I couldn’t run it. But my husband and I went, and I walked it as fast as I could, and occasionally jogged a little.

2012 Shamrock'n'Roll 5K Race

2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K Race

This was the 2012 Shamrock’n’Roll 5K race in Plymouth, MI. I finished the 5K in 48:22. I wasn’t overly proud of my time, but I was very proud of myself for signing up for it, going and doing it, and finishing it! 🙂 At the time of that race I probably weighed about 138 lbs. and it wasn’t long after that I started putting on more and more weight, leading up to the re-birth of my fitness journey in September.

I am not a runner…Or am I?

So now, I’ve been using my treadmill for the last 9 months or so. I started out walking very slowly the first month. After a couple of months I decided to try out just a LITTLE bit of jogging. I worked in three 1-minute jogging intervals in my 45 or 50 minute walks. My ‘jogging’ speed was 4.0 mph. Which, is really a very fast walking pace but for me at the time was more of a jog. Each month I would add 30 seconds to my intervals. By April I was doing three 3-minute intervals of jogging, sometimes 3.5 to 4 minutes, and I had increased the jog speed the tiniest bit to 4.1 mph. My knee seemed to be cooperating with this VERY small and slow addition of jogging to my workout.

When I got into the month of May, knowing that this race I’d signed up for was in the beginning of June, I decided to up the stakes a bit and see if maybe I could do more running than I thought I could. I started with a week of 5 minutes walking, 5 minutes jogging. The next week I tried 4 minutes walking, 6 minutes of jogging. Then the next week 3/7. Seven minutes of jogging at a time felt like it might kill me, but…my knee seemed to be holding out pretty strong! This gave me hope and determination! Maybe I could be a runner?

Running 3.1 miles makes me a runner, right?

June 8, 2013 finds me standing a the starting line of the Kona Run 5K race in Northville, MI. The race starts at Northville Downs, a horse racing track. We start out with a lap around the track then hit the streets from there. I start out jogging out of the starting gate because, really, who wants to be the one who is walking right from the start right? I am thinking to myself, maybe I could jog all the way around the track then walk as we break out onto the street.

We leave the horse track, out through the parking lot and onto the street. I am still jogging. And I’m feeling pretty strong. With my Garmin Forerunner 10 strapped to my wrist, I am constantly checking time, mileage, pace, etc. I decide, as I’m getting a bit winded, that I will walk for just a few seconds. We’ve gone just under a quarter-mile, my mileage reads 0.20. I decide to walk until I get to 0.25 just to catch my breath, it is only the span of a minute or so. Then I start jogging again.

We round the first corner and start to make our way uphill. The first 2 miles of this course are mostly uphill. But I keep jogging. My breathing is pretty steady, knee feels good, I keep going. Again approaching half a mile I slow down at 0.45 miles and walk until I get to the half mile. I decide at that point I AM GOING TO RUN THIS WHOLE RACE! The only reprieve I decided to allow myself was at every quarter-mile, just that distance of 0.05 mile to walk and catch my breath.

Mind you, I am not running fast, in fact while I look like I’m jogging I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, lol! But I am jogging it and it makes me feel so good, so proud of myself! Around the 1.50 mile mark there is a very steep hill. My husband swears it was Mt. Everest but I think it was not quite that steep 🙂 People around me are slowing down as we climb this hill, many are dropping off to a slow walk. I press on and RUN UP THE WHOLE HILL!!! (OK, so I did allow myself a few seconds of walking once I got to the TOP of the hill, lol!)

As I am closing in on the last mile I have to admit I was really winded, my legs were tired and I wasn’t sure if I could keep running. Luckily the course was downhill the rest of the way and I started picking up speed a bit without as much effort.

The finish area was in a valley down a steep hill, and you had to follow this narrow sidewalk that was winding its way around this park to (presumably) a finish line…somewhere. The problem was it was winding in a circle and you couldn’t really see how far you were from the finish line. I really, really wanted to “finish strong” because this is a mantra that often rolls through my head as I’m working out – “FINISH STRONG!!” But I couldn’t help but start laughing a bit because it seemed like the finish line would never come into sight and I didn’t know how much more “finish strong” I had left in me, lol!

Finally, I am sprinting as fast as I can, the finish line is in sight, I hear the announcer call my name as my feet cross over the chip line. I stumble onto the grass at the end of the chute and drop to my knees, breathless and exhausted. I looked at my Garmin and see my time, 38:18 (I didn’t click the stop on the GPS right away so it recorded 3.14 miles, just a few seconds more than the official race time was recorded at.) Tears stung my eyes as I was overcome with joy.

I ran that! I ran that whole race! 3.1 miles, I did it!!

I am runner at last!

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Crossing the finish line Kona 5K 2013

Then I looked up and saw my husband ahead of me in the crowd, smiling and waving at me. He finished 10 minutes ahead of me and also got a personal best time for him – 28:14! Hooray for us! 🙂

Debb_Jim_FinishLine_Kona2013

During my training, remember I was doing only very short intervals of jogging at 4.0 to 4.1 mph. My pace for this race ended up being an average of 4.9 mph!! It’s amazing sometimes, how much more we are capable of, compared to what we think we can do.

The difference a day can make

How often do you step on the scale? Once a week? Monthly? Every day?

There seems to be endless arguments for and against every option. I have a standing appointment with my scale at 6:10 a.m. each morning to review the previous days events and their impact on my body weight. We do not always see eye to eye, but our daily meetings help me to start my day accurately knowing if what I am doing is working or not so I can adjust as needed in the coming day.

What, too soon?

I’ve heard a lot of arguments against weighing in daily; with the key take-away being that people feel their weight fluctuates too much from one day to the next, and they don’t want to get discouraged as they are trying to lose weight. I agree it’s possible for there to be significant fluctuations in weight on a daily basis, however, I believe this is due largely to poor diet and inconsistent weight loss habits. We should use that as motivation to clean up our diets and build more consistency in how we take care of ourselves.

I am a strong advocate for daily weighing so you have the time to react right away if the numbers start moving in the wrong direction. These numbers are also a good evaluation of the quality of your diet, and can even be an indication of hidden health issues. I think that if you’re eating the right things, in the right amounts, your weight should be fairly consistent.

(yes, yes, ladies, I know the “that time of the month” argument, but I think that week goes without saying – stay off the scales for 7 days, you don’t want to see whatever it has to say!)

Slow and steady wins the race

In the past, I used to see my numbers swing up and down quite a bit. But that was back when I was making poor food choices and didn’t have a very strong approach to losing weight. Of course, I didn’t realize all of that at the time. I used to eat a lot of “junk” and at times would just try to eat less of it to lose weight.

    Junk is still junk no matter how much of it you’re eating and it will have the same results in your body either way.

For example, eating a lot of processed and packaged foods – these things are loaded with sodium which will easily cause your body to retain fluid and inflate your weigh in’s. This can cause a big difference on the scale from one day over the next. I’ve found that eating a lot of sugary and/or processed white products can also cause a lot of unwanted action on the scale. Eating a lot of sugar, white bread, pasta or rice seems to clog up the digestive system and add temporary weight until they finally make their way…..um… you know, out.

Over the last year I have slowly but surely made significant changes in not just how much I eat, but more importantly WHAT I eat. (More about that in another post to come!) I have been amazed at the consistency of my weight! Even during the process of losing weight, I was very consistent. Here is an example of what my daily numbers would look like:

Mon. – 125.0
Tues. – 125.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.6
Fri. – 125.0
Sat. – 124.6
Sun. – 124.4
Mon. – 124.6
Tues. – 124.2
Wed. – 124.8
Thur. – 124.0
Fri. – 124.2
Sat. – 123.8
Sun. – 124.0

So what I see is a swing back and forth of just a few tenths of a pound. Whatever whole number I am seeing most frequently is the weight that I will “claim” as my current weight.

By weighing daily, I can monitor if I am on a downward trend or an upward trend. If most of my numbers are going down a little, it’s OK if they jump back up a few tenths of a pound, usually they’ll go right back down the next day or so. Typically I don’t see fluctuations of a whole pound at a time. If I start to notice a plateau where I am bouncing back and forth with the same half pound and never going below it, (or the numbers are going up and not back down) I know it is time to review my food logs and make note of my daily calorie deficits. I will probably find that I’ve been eating just 100 or 200 calories more a day than I really should and that is keeping me in a holding pattern. Usually just a tweak or two in my daily diet will quickly correct the situation.

So, what brought all this up?

What made me think to write a post about this topic, was the way I ate last weekend and how it affected the scale. Last Saturday I attended a Bridal Shower for my best friend, Terri. I anticipated going over my daily calorie budget and I tried to offset it by doing a good treadmill run that morning before I left. However, after 2 glasses of wine, 2 cupcakes, a plate full of pasta salad and chicken salad and lots of other munchies (including M&M’s and jelly beans)….when I tried to tally everything up it came to around 2800 calories for the day. (Keep in mind, my normal daily target is 1350.)

Terri's bridal shower June 2013 - Casey (left), Terri (center), me (right)

Terri’s bridal shower June 2013 – Casey (left), Terri (center), me (right)

The best part of the bridal shower was when I first got there and saw Terri. She hadn’t seen me since we tried on dresses in November.

The first words out of her mouth were “Wow, look at you! You don’t even look like you! I’ve never seen you this tiny!”

And she’s right! She’s been my best friend for about the last 15 years and she never has seen me this thin! That felt really, really good to hear her say. 🙂

One thing I have learned is that it takes a calorie deficit of 3500 calories to lose a pound of weight. I simply cannot starve myself enough to lose a pound a week, my average is 1/2 lb per week by creating an average calorie deficit of -250 per day. Conversely, it seems that about 1250 extra calories in a day can add over 1 lb. of weight to my body. I’m not crazy about this mathematical double standard!

As if the eating frenzy on Saturday weren’t enough to set my scale on tilt…my husband’s 40th birthday was on Monday, so we had cake and ice cream on Sunday! He also had asked me if I would please, for his birthday, make “sour cream cookies” like his Grandma used to make. So I searched the internet, found what I thought to be the right recipe (I had never tasted or seen these cookies he was telling me about), and at 9:00 pm Saturday after being at that shower all day, I made him cookies. And they turned out so delicious that I snarfed down several of them! Unfortunately they were about 135 calories each!

But the cookies were worth it, they made my husband happy, and he said they were “just like Grandma’s”, which made me very happy!
If you’d like to try the recipe I used, you can find it here:
Sour Cream Cookies

I am no longer married to a man in his 30's.  No, I'm not leaving my husband!  He's turning 40!!  :)

I am no longer married to a man in his 30’s. No, I’m not leaving my husband! He’s turning 40!! 🙂

I weighed myself Saturday morning before all this eating of sugar, pasta and the likes, and came in at 123.4 lbs. Sunday morning it was 124.8. By Monday morning I was up to 125.4. I gained a pound per day last weekend! But at least I am aware of it, and now I can really buckle down this week to make sure I quickly counteract this.

And that, my friends, is the difference a day can make.

This observation has really helped me to reaffirm in my mind that even though I am in “maintenance mode” now, I cannot stop being relentless with counting the calories, working out to burn calories, and exercising discipline with my food choices every day. The math doesn’t lie, and neither does the bathroom scale.

    You have to keep it going, if you want to keep it gone!

February 2013 – Last Chance Workout Month

“Last chance workout” month before leaving for our cruise!

We went on an 8 night Caribbean cruise, it was fantastic! We planned all of our excursions to include a lot of walking and calorie-burning activities. And for the first time ever, we used the fitness center on the ship! So while we certainly did indulge in food (and adult beverages) we really kept the damage to a minimum. Most of the time we each gain almost 10 lbs on a week-long cruise. This time I only gained 5 and I think Jim gained 6 lbs. And we were both able to drop those pounds really quick within a week or so after coming home.

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February Stats:

Speed: 2.0 mph start, increase .2 per minute to max of 3.0 mph

While working out on the ship I started increasing my max speed to 3.2 mph. This seemed pretty comfortable, so I kept it going the rest of the month.

Duration: 45 – 50 minutes

Started trying to push duration out a little further, the month was a mix of about every other workout between 45 to 50 minutes.

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Frequency: 4 times per week

Run intervals: 2 to 2-1/2 minutes

Had one day on the ship that I just felt so full of energy, I pushed out my run intervals to about 5 minutes and couldn’t believe I could do it!!

Incline: 3 to 4, variable

Aero Pilates: once per week, 30 minutes

Average Burn: 269

Ending Weight: 130 lbs (yay! intermediate goal weight!)
I actually got to this weight right before we left for the cruise. Then I gained 5 lbs while on the cruise, then lost it again within about a week of coming home, so closed out the month at this weight still, yay me!! 🙂

January 2013 Monthly Fitness Stats

Keeping pace with December, kicked a couple of things up a notch like starting speed, run intervals and incline.

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

Me, my husband (Jim) and our daughter (Cecilia) in January 2013

This photo is me and my family in January 2013. Looking a bit thinner here, down about 17 lbs from my most recent “fat” weight – although kind of hard to tell with the bulky winter clothes!

Treadmill stats:

Speed: 1.8 mph starting speed, increase .2 mph per minute to max speed of 3.0 mph

Duration: 45 minutes

Frequency: 4 times per week

Weights: 3 sets, 12 reps

Run intervals: 4.0 mph 2 minute intervals, average 3 sets

Incline: 3

Aero Pilates: once per week, 12 reps of all, duration about 30 minutes

Average Burn: 240

Ending Weight: 133.4 lbs