Thursday, January 24, 2013

Birthday Carrot Juice Versus Cake

Last weekend I celebrated my 42nd birthday. Well, I love carrot cake with walnuts and cream cheese frosting. Hold the raisins, please. I've never been a big fan of raisins in carrot cake. My grandmother always made it that way, and I picked them out.
I told my daughter that I'd like a giant piece of carrot cake for my birthday. Lately, she's exhibited some genuine enthusiasm in regards to my weight loss, nutritional goals and training schedule. "Mom, I think we should make some fresh carrot juice instead of baking a cake for your birthday. It'll be a lot healthier," she suggested. I couldn't believe my ears!

Okay... Yes!
I was a teeny, TINY bit disappointed that I wouldn't be indulging in a rich, luscious, sweet slice of heaven, but at least the carrot juice wouldn't sink my caloric battleship.

Out came the juicer and a ten pound bag of organic carrots purchased at Costco. Four large carrots make one cup of juice containing 94 calories and lots of vitamin A. My birthday carrot juice was so delicious and GUILT FREE!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michelin Man No Longer

I took a couple digital pictures when I weighed 289 pounds from the front, back and side. This week I opened the "before" shots up on my computer. I needed a little positive reinforcement. Needless-to-say, those pictures provided all the encouragement I needed to keep going.

What did I see? I saw three rolls of back fat, a giant gut and Michelin Man like arms and legs. I can't believe I looked like that, and I never want to go back.

I had a really good week burning 4383 calories and dropping 3.4 pounds. I am planning to enter a couple duathlons and triathlons this summer. I'm hoping that losing an additional 42.8 pounds will help me run, bike and swim farther and faster.

I've started a new blog. As many of you know, I am a vegetarian. My family loves to cook so I thought I'd publish a few of our favorite recipes. Many of them are simple and contain basic ingredients. Check it out at Vegging Out in My Kitchen.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tai Chi Chih®

I had my first experience with T'ai Chi Chih® this week. My husband suggested we sign up for an introductory class through our local community education program. Honestly, I had no preconceived notions going into the class because I didn't know anything about it. I like spending time with my hubby sans kids, and this class seemed like a golden opportunity, especially since it was HIS idea.

Before class, I went for a four and half mile run. I tried a new route sticking to city streets and avoiding sidewalks and walking paths due to snow and ice coverage. After my run, I removed all my torso layers since they were drenched in sweat. If I delay changing after a winter run I get chilled. I felt a little stiff in my lower back and right hip from my run. In the back of my head, I was thinking that maybe it wasn't such a great idea to run before going to T'ai Chi Chih®.

It was a small class of seven including my husband and I. A woman in her mid-sixties is the accredited instructor. She spoke about her personal battle with rheumatoid arthritis. A doctor warned her that due to the severity of her disease she would eventually end up in a wheelchair. She testified that T'ai Chi Chih® postponed "the inevitable" and maybe even saved her from it. Time will tell.

My husband was a bit disappointed because it wasn't the form of T'ai Chi he wanted to learn. He explained that this version was developed in the 1970's. T'ai Chi Chih® is more of the hippie version of T'ai Chi that's often used in hospitals and with the elderly. The instructor did address this. She studied T'ai Chi Qi Gong for many years and moved to Tai Chi Chih® because it was more accessible and easier to master.

This was all thoroughly confusing so I did some Googling only to discover T'ai Chi has numerous forms and styles. Two examples are T'ai Chi Ch'uan, originally a fighting system designed to maim and kill, and  T'ai Chi Qi Gong, derived from traditional Chinese medicine theories focusing on healing and longevity. All variations differ in terms of performance speed and pace also in the method of posing.

T'ai Chi is believed to delay aging, prolong life, increase flexibility and strengthen muscles and tendons. It can improve heart function, blood pressure, arthritis, depression and other illnesses. T'ai Chi is the proverbial silver bullet!

T'ai Chi Chih®, the form I'm studying, consists of nineteen movements and one pose. It's a soft, flowing, moving mediation that circulates and balances essential energy. According to its founder Justin Stone, "Nothing is more important than knowing how to circulate and balance the Intrinsic Energy, the Vital Force of the body, known as Chi in Chinese. The rewards in good health, wisdom, serenity, and longevity are great for the one who learns the ancient principles and applies them in a modern way."

That sounds pretty good to me, Mr. Stone. I guess I'm willing to give T'ai Chi the good old college try even if I'm only dabbling in the Westernized version for now. Oh, and no lie... my lower back and hip felt better after class. There just might be something to this. Now, if I can only commit to memory all nineteen movements.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Skinny Person in a Fat Body

Kids say the darnedest things!

My astute teenage son recently advised me to stop losing weight. He guilelessly reasoned, "If you lose any more weight you'll just look like a skinny person in a fat body."

"There is nothing so agonizing to the fine skin of vanity as the application of rough truth." - Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Swim Suit with Sleeves

I shopped for a new swimming suit with my daughter at Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida during our last vacation. Honestly, I wasn't excited about trying on suits. This garment is usually overpriced, and I never like the way I look wearing one. However, my old suit was a size 28 and gaped immodestly.

I love Ron Jon. If I lived in Florida I'd don flip flops and shorts year-round, and Ron Jon has quite a selection of cool styles. Roxy is one of my favorite brands. The shop is open 24 hours a day, and we arrived early in the morning before the store was fully staffed.

After grabbing a few options in assorted sizes, my daughter and I made a beeline for one of the changing rooms.  A sense of relief washed over me as I spotted the woman monitoring the dressing rooms. She was a mature woman with greying hair and an average physique. She was not a sleek, hardbody teenage surfer who'd snicker at my saggy breasts, flabby abs and varicose veins.

It took some time, but I finally found a swimming suit that I felt comfortable wearing. Even my discriminating daughter gave it a thumbs up. I'm a sucker for a suit with a skirt. I call it a "fat flap" to my daughter's giggly delight. I maintain it's a master of disguise hiding some of my body's glaring imperfections, at least when it's dry.

Later that day, I tentatively slipped on my new suit surveying myself in the mirror. I performed the typical routine sucking in my gut, straightening my posture and hoisting my chest. My daughter looked speculatively over my shoulder and said in devastating sincerity, "Maybe you should have gotten a swimming suit with sleeves."

I broke down. After losing weight and exercising regularly, the underside of my upper arms resemble stretched, deflated balloons. I should have purchased a swimming suit with sleeves! Will I ever be able to go sleeveless in confidence?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Devastating Diet Detours

Just two weeks into 2013 my weight loss train is is officially back on schedule. Last week, I lost 1.6 pounds! Woo-Woo! (That was the railroad engineer blowing the whistle.) Now, I just need to stick to the timetable and avoid derailment. My itinerary is rather simple. Leaving today, I want to shed 46.2 pounds by June 30th, 2013. Will I make it to my final destination on time?

I'll cover this distance by logging my food intake and exercise with MyNetDiary Pro on my iPhone. At least five times a week I'll be running, biking, swimming, lifting and/or training. Although, my nutritional intake and fitness remain on target much of the time. I still manage to totally BLOW it - like yesterday!

Yesterday, I made breakfast for the entire family baking calorie-laden berry muffins and a cheesy egg, hash brown, veggie bacon and cheese casserole. This one meal devoured my calorie threshold for the entire day. Since I was already in the hole, late that day I ate an ice cream sundae and potato chips with dip leftover from our New Year's party. UGH! Why did I do that?

Today, I made a list of devastating diet detours. These are the food cravings or bad habits continually plaguing my progress.

Devastating Diet Detours
ice cream covered in chocolate sauce
potato chips with top the tator
tortilla chips
cheese and crackers
popcorn (I eat far too much at once, my digestive track is messed up for days.)
dining out without a plan

Some of these detours are avoidable, and I've already been successful at circumnavigating them. The kryptonite-like foods, like ice cream and potato chips, I simply don't purchase in the grocery store. Why set myself up for failure? Other items, like cheese, I measure portion size and include it in my daily caloric intake. If I sit down in front of the television with a block of cheese and box of crackers, I hit the point of no return fairly quickly. How about you?

The last three are perhaps the most problematic, desserts, dining out and overeating. Desserts are difficult to calculate in terms of calories, especially if not prepared personally. I generally avoid them, but if I do indulge I share it with someone eating only a couple bites. When dining out I generally take the time to research the restaurant's menu options and nutritional content online before I go. I fit the calories in my daily plan making adjustments to my other meals. Overeating is a major road block for me and the biggest reason I'm overweight. I've successfully bypassed it over the last year by consistently logging my calories, weighing portion sizes and eating regularly.

All-Aboard! I've got my rail pass, and this train is sticking to the timetable. You're welcome to hop aboard. I'd love some company.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mid-Life Crisis on My Bike

Who in their right mind would choose to go biking in Minnesota during January with a windchill of -1º F? Me. We've had some rain over the past couple days. Luckily, the temperature rose above freezing during the daytime, and my fair city of Roseville managed to apply a hotbed of chemicals, salt and sand. Most of the ice and snow has evaporated from the city streets.

After driving my daughter to musical rehearsal, I ascertained that the roads were fairly safe. The car's temperature sensor indicated 16º F. I knew it was likely to be a cold ride, but hey, that's why I own thermal clothing. I put on a pair of compression leggings and a fitted long sleeve mock. Then, I added some fleece sweatpants, wool socks, a knit cap, tech gloves, padded bike gloves and tennis shoes. Finally, I slipped on a fleece lined bike jacket and a waterproof bike shell on my way to the garage.

Once I'd unlocked my bike and checked tire pressure, I donned my helmet. I always, always, ALWAYS wear my helmet. Coasting down the drive and hitting the street, the brutal arctic wind rabidly bit at my exposed cheeks. I tucked my chin into my jacket trying to find some relief. Taking a ragged breath, the icy air burned my nostrils and barely filled my lungs. I honestly considered turning around and parking my bike for the rest of the winter, but in the end I reasoned that the first mile would soon be behind me. The warm, wet sweat of exertion was to be my most welcome companion.

I cycled around Lake Owasso. There is an unobstructed view of the lake along its north side. Gaining velocity over the frictionless frozen sheet, a brutal blast pierced my thermal armor as deftly as knight's sword. No copse of trees shielded me from its onslaught. Dozens of ice fishing shelters in all shapes, sizes and colors dotted the lake's tundra-like terrain. Heavy 4x4 trucks and sedans cautiously headed toward or sat alongside their houses on ice. As I began climbing a hill, tears escaped from my eyes. While some streamed down my cheeks others froze to my lashes. Sundrops fell upon my eye-cicles stymieing my vision. I pedaled on.

After 45 minutes, I was nearing the end of my planned route. I detoured from the city streets joining a shared bike and walk way. Roseville maintains most of its trails and sidewalks during the winter, and the trail appeared clear.

 I spotted the problem midway, but I had already fully committed to the route. Snow melt had flowed over the trail in the low lying areas creating large sheets of ice. My strategy was simple. Don't make any sudden moves. Coast over the areas of ice. Prepare to fall.

Having traversed a majority of it, I slowed to maneuver around two men walking in opposite directions on a mini ice rink. Suddenly, my rear tire started sliding left causing the rest of my bike to kiss the ground on the right. Boom! (Boy, am I glad I was wearing my helmet.) My elbow and wrist absorbed most of the shock.

One of the men wisely advised I not try biking at night. My reply, "Yes, sir. I won't try riding this particular trail in the dark. I usually run on it (which is true). Thanks for the advice." Why didn't I just stick to the clear streets? Never fear, my friends! All is only slightly bruised - wrist, elbow and ego.

I really must be having some kind of mid-life crisis! A 41 year-old woman wiping out on a bike in the middle of a Minnesota winter. Most people store their bikes when the temperatures freeze. Not me, not this year... But, guess what? I actually enjoy winter cycling (except when I go boom) so I'll be back in the saddle again, soon.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Have a Magical Day!

I admit I'm a huge Disney fan. My family owns a Disney timeshare, and we've been to a number of their resort locations. One of our favorite Disney hotels is in Vero Beach, Florida. I mentioned in a previous post that my family and I traveled over Thanksgiving. Disney's Vero Beach Resort was our destination.

Disney does a really fabulous job catering to families, and Vero Beach is no exception. It may not be on a theme park property, but there are a wide variety of activities available to resort guests. The resort's cast members host programs for kids and adults all day, every day. From learning to surf to painting a plate it's on the agenda.

Disney's Vero Beach is immaculate with amenities galore. Nestled along Florida's Atlantic Treasure Coast, cabanas, umbrellas, lounge chairs, boogie boards, wave runners, sea kayaks and sailboarding rentals are available seaside. Poolside features a sparkling, freshwater, Mickey Mouse-shaped swimming pool with a 2-story water slide, pirate ship splash area and outdoor dining. A mini golf course, ping-pong table, sauna, spa, workout center, an arcade, tennis/basketball/shuffleboard courts and bicycle rentals offer fun for every one in the family. There's just so much to do!

Well, I promised myself that on this trip I'd set aside some time to workout or run. I managed to fit in a nice run one morning. There's an endless paved trail along the A1A. My plan was to run half of a 5K north along the path, turn around and head back to the resort. Instead, I took a slight detour running for a small distance along the "Historic Jungle Trail." It was a sandy old-world road winding through the hammock habitat of the barrier island. I read later that it was built in the 1920's so citrus growers could haul produce. The only other soul I saw along the way was a man grading the road with heavy machinery - so much for rustic.

As I emerged from the "Jungle" rejoining the modern Route 1A Trail, I felt a genuine sense of relief. I hadn't been attacked by alligators, snakes or other Florida creepy crawlies. Even though I thoroughly enjoy the outdoors and sleep soundly in my hammock overnight, outside in the wilds of Minnesota, I am uneasy in unfamiliar environs. In Minnesota, I know what to expect. Bears, deer, moose, coyotes, wolves, chipmunks, loons and nonvenomous snakes - whatever. Florida is a completely different ecosystem that sports gruesome bugs and poisonous snakes. Eek!

I hurdled a disgustingly ominous black snake slithering across the sidewalk! This was NOT in the "Jungle" where I had mentally prepared myself. This little guy chose to sun himself on the warm concrete rather than the sandy jungle trail. "Black Beauty" pretty much put me in sprint mode, and I raced back to the resort. I discovered later after talking to one of the always friendly Disney cast members that the snake is called a "racer." Hmm... I can see why! Apparently, southern black racers are nonvenomous - FYI.

The workout facility at the resort is well-outfitted with elliptical trainers, stationary bikes, treadmills, free weights and a whole circuit of strength training machines. There's also a scale! At the end of the week I decided to step up and assess the damage. To my complete and utter surprise I lost 15 pounds! Now, I am no fool. After days of delicious dining, decadent desserts and delightful drinks this Disney scale was definitely duping me.

I merely smirked and snickered, "This must be Disney Magic! The Imagineers, once again, delivered a Magical Day."

Happy Anniversary to the Improved Me

Hello, 2013!

It's been one year since I began my weight loss journey. To date, I've lost 92 pounds, and I feel terrific. Physically, I am in the best shape of my life. That fact doesn't mean I'm finished improving my body or losing weight. After all, I've still got 48 more pounds to lose before I hit my goal weight, and I really want the underside of my upper arms to cease resembling chicken wings.

My weight's been fluctuating a bit since mid-November, and I am disappointed that I didn't manage to end 2012 in a blaze of glory. It would be disingenuous for me to claim faultlessness and make false claims about being stuck on a weight loss plateau. I wasn't consistent with my calorie intake, but I did manage to exercise just not as long and often.

My family took a long awaited vacation during Thanksgiving week, and I definitely did not track my food consistently while away. I did, however, manage to run, lift, bike and workout on an elliptical on a vacation. That effort, my friends, is a giant life altering step for this gal. Setting aside time on a family vacation to workout was never a priority. I woke early and adjusted my schedule to offset some of those extra calories. Trust me, there were plenty considering how much I love frozen fru-fru drinks. "Why, yes! I'd love another pomegranate pina colada."

December was filled with holiday parties and delicious food. I managed to avoid drinking my calories, but brightly frosted sugar cookies, cheese, crackers and heavy meals undermined any headway I could make via exercise. I am just grateful that I escaped Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's without a major weight gain.

So, I start 2013 with 48 more pounds to lose, and realistically I'm not going to get all the weight dropped until the end of June. Drat! When I began last January, my calculation of losing 2 pounds per week meant I'd be done by February 2013. Obviously, that's not going to happen. bit I can't let the delay discourage me. I have to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I have accomplished.

From Finding Nemo, the blue tang fish Dory has a little ditty that comes to mind.

Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills, When life gets you down do you wanna know what you've gotta do?

No, I don't wanna know.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.

Here I go... just keep losing, just keep losing, just keep losing, losing, losing. Now I'm stuck with that song in my head!