Finally Losing Weight: What I’m Doing Now

So, last year, one of my goals was to lose weight.  It’s a tangential goal this year (as in, it’s not a big focus).  I’ve been overweight for a good long time, since I came to college and started living on my own.  I’ve read diet books, tried keeping a food journal, worked out a lot.  Nothing really seemed to work, or I wouldn’t stick with it because it was super tedious.

Last December, I was reading yet another diet plan (I mentioned it back in January).  It was using an oversimplified formula (calories in < calories out).  Didn’t look like anything special.  But what was interesting was that the guy started talking about using statistics to find out your “true weight”.  The weight of a human body fluctuates throughout the day (and for women, sometimes the month), and so it’s difficult to say “I weigh ___.”  When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s even more frustrating.  One day you’ll be really low, and the next really high.  It is literally like a roller coaster.  So what this guy does is he keeps a weighted moving average of his weight, and that gives him an idea of where his weight is really at.

Of course, this is a simple enough calculation for a computer, so there’s an app for that.  I’ve been using FatWatch.  The name is crude, but it has a nice set of features and is easy to use.  There’s also True Weight for the iOS, and Libra for Android.  FatWatch is the most expensive of the three, but I like the fact that I can mark “Oh, I ate out today”, or “I worked out today”, and there’s even a built in “mini-workout” system.  You can also make free-form notes, so if I eat out, I denote what restaurant.  If I work out, I put a brief note about what I did.

So how’s it working?  Well, I am actually losing weight!  I don’t think it’s all due to the program.  I’ve been making dietary changes mostly, eating smaller portions, and not having all my vices in one day.  The biggest thing I’ve done is that I’ve stopped snacking between meals.  I still like a snack, but I make it very small, or I have the snack and not a meal.  I haven’t been eating as many processed foods at home, and certainly nothing “low-fat”.  I’ve been doing compensations ala French Women Don’t Get Fat.  And I’ve been eating out a lot, due to family in town.  My results are probably going to get much better once I start eating at home more.

I’ve lost about 5 pounds.  This may not sound like a huge deal, but that’s 5 pounds “real weight”.  I’ve gone down a pants size.  In all my attempts ever, I’ve never had this kind of success.  I probably won’t hit my goal weight before the end of the year (if I hit it at all, it may be unrealistic).  But I’m sure I can get to a healthier place, even before May (when I start my new job) or August (big family gathering to show off at).  I’ve been doing the mini-workout in the program to make sure that I’m actually losing fat and not the (little bit of) muscle that I have.

The one galling thing to me is how easy it is to do this now.  Why couldn’t I have done this years ago?  Why couldn’t I have done this before the problem became so bad that I have this much to lose?  I think the biggest suspect is stress.  I eat when I’m stressed, and between family drama, graduate school, and fears for the future, I’ve been really stressed the past few years.  This semester, I’m relaxing as I finish up my obligations at the university, looking forward to a new job with defined hours, and picking up hobbies that I had abandoned long ago.  I have a big event coming up this weekend (actually two!) and I’m already prepared for them.  So stress is not a factor this semester.  Let’s hope I can keep it that way.

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2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Well, the end of 2011 is near, and that means time for New Year’s Resolutions.  This past year has been half productive and half not.  This last semester was particularly bad.  I’m beginning to feel burnout, after having been in school for 9 years (after high school) straight.  I’ve convinced myself to give it one more semester before I call it quits or not.  I currently have a pretty sweet situation, and having to look for a job is not something I want to think about right now.  It’s a complicated dilemma, because I’ve already invested a lot of time, but I never really wanted a Ph.D. or to do research anyway.

So that’s one resolution, I suppose.  To give this next semester a good strong go for my research.  But I don’t really count that.  This year I’ve decided to do two sets of resolutions, a year-long set, and a set that I’ll work on every few months, similar to what I did this past year.  So, here we go:

Year-Long Resolutions

  • Get down to 125 pounds – This goal has been off and on for the better part of my twenties.  I ignored it last year in favor of trying to eat healthier, and it seems my weight has stabilized at about 175.  However, that’s still overweight, and so I’m giving myself a whole year to try to lose the weight.  I’m using an iOS app called Fatwatch.  It’s a neat little program; instead of you dealing with the ups and downs of individual daily weights, it looks at an overall trend, and tells you how many calories you are over what you need to maintain and also how many calories you need to cut to stay on track with your goal.  It also has a built in “mini” exercise program, meant to be done in 15 minutes.  It’s based on the Hacker’s Diet, a book written by a programmer on how he lost weight.  He basically espouses a calorie counting, calorie restriction only diet, which I’m not interested in.  But I did like the idea of the trend line, and using your daily weights to help calculate if you’re maintaining, gaining, or losing weight.  The maintaining part is particularly important, because I don’t want to yo-yo.   The 125 number is based on being in the middle of the “healthy” weight range based on BMI (which I think is bunk in most cases), and I don’t know if I’ll actually reach it, but we’ll see how far I get.
  • Continue to follow the Real Food Lessons – I’ve still been following the lessons on GNOWFGLINS, albeit slowly.  I still think they’re a great learning tool and a great learning experience for me.  In fact, Wardeh is having a free webinar on how to transition to eating Real Food.  I’ve already registered.  I’m going to keep working through the lessons throughout the year, and hopefully slowly integrate them as habits.
  • Zazen – During Ango, I was great at first about doing zazen every day.  Toward the end I trailed off, and then I tried a two-day retreat in December.  I didn’t get through the whole two days, but it is important to my spiritual practice that I develop this habit.

Tri-Monthly Goals

  • Fashion Makeover – I recently purchased a mini-makeover pdf from Sally at Already Pretty.  I’ve been unhappy with my fashion/style for a while now, and while I’ve done a couple closet purges, I still don’t feel like I have a cohesive style.  It feels like it jumps around from super casual to super formal.  I’d like to get it a little more together, especially if I might be looking for jobs in the not so near future.
  • Crafting – This was a goal last year that didn’t happen.  While I need to do some crafting in the first three months for my juggling club, those aren’t personal projects.  I’m hoping to work on carving out some time for this, as I have a lot of hobbies.
  • Piano – This is another goal from last year that didn’t happen.  I got an electric piano as a graduation present , 5 years ago now.  I took piano lessons once upon a time, but it’s been a long time since I played.  I’d like to get back in the habit, especially if I have to give up some of my other hobbies in the future due to research or jobs.
  • Getting back in touch – I’m horrible about keeping in touch with friends.  I’ve gotten better, using Facebook and Google+, but lurking and reading other people’s posts and making the occasional post myself isn’t really communication.  I’d like to get back into a regular email or chat habit with friends who I used to be close to.
I think that’s more than enough on my plate for 2012.  I might add in a workout habit, but I want to wait and see how I feel about that.  And that’s not counting all the other things that might happen to completely change my plans.  What are your resolutions for the coming year?  Or do you not believe in making resolutions?

Happy 1-Year Anniversary!

So, due to the craziness that was my general exams, I missed the 1-year anniversary of the blog.  That’s sort of sad, but I’ve made surprising progress over the last year, regardless.  To celebrate, I’ve changed the appearance of the blog.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane and go back to a couple of old posts, just to remember how it all started.

  1. The First Real Post – The first non-intro blog post was about how I was attempting to give certain fashion trends a fair shake.  Since then, I’ve worn several skirts, dresses, my shoe collection has ballooned.  I got the courage to empty my closet of almost everything that doesn’t fit.  Expect another fashion post or two, as a tribute back to the beginning.
  2. Best Recipe Success – There were several attempts at slow-cooker success over the past year, but by far, the tastiest is the slow-cooker tortilla soup.  I’m going to dig out this recipe and make it again, as the craving for home-cooked food comes back.  It’s also a reminder to attempt to reproduce the green sauce.  A project for this summer, perhaps?
  3. Productivity! – In the fall, I implemented Getting Things Done for College Students.  I never really did a follow-up post, but fall semester was almost entirely stress-free (except for big exams), and this semester was very stressful, but definitely would have been more so if I didn’t have this system.  This will be helping me stay on top of things this summer too.
  4. There were How-Tos, and other recipes too.  We also discovered I don’t like turmeric.
That’s just things that have happened in the crazy first year of this blog.  Prepare for another year of crazy productivity, more recipes, more how-tos, and more stuff I haven’t thought of yet.

So, Whatcha Doin?

So, what have I been up to since the beginning of May?  Well, like most other people, I’ve been getting ready for the end of semester.  This week is finals week, actually.  This means the usual rush of grading, testing, and all those other things.  Thankfully, I don’t have any finals, which means this week is almost like the beginning of summer for me.

Since the goal for the next two months is to workout, I started by getting back into using the WiiFit.  I found a website that allows me to generate routines, for free.  I highly recommend it.  One of the difficulties of using the Wii (and exercise in general) is coming up with a routine.  I like researching things like Crossfit, and SimpleFit, and mixing strength and cardio and what kind of cardio is best, but when it comes to actually exercising, just tell me what to do.  This was probably one of the appeals of Crossfit, since you’re supposed to just follow the routine they post for the day, but figuring out how to scale it back was too difficult for me.

The WiiFit also has the advantage of being gentle.  I’ve been doing “easy” 30 minute workouts, which still work up a sweat, and as I unlock higher difficulties, more reps, and longer times, I’ve been increasing things as I go along.  I’d like to get a copy of WiiFitPlus just to see what they’ve added.  And it’s different everyday, so the exercise schedule is looking back on track.

I also took Penelope out for a spin.  You remember Penelope, right? Truth is, I rode Penelope once last fall, trying to figure out a route, and then I gave up.  May is actually Bike Month, so I thought I’d give it a whirl again.  I still feel like a dork in my helmet and gloves, but it actually wasn’t too bad.  I took a different route this time, one that uses residential streets more than the main thorough-fares, and even near the main streets, I take the sidewalk.  I know, some people will argue against using the sidewalk, but I promise that I only use it on the two lane street that I’m not fast enough to bike on, and there’s no driveways and stuff.  So, much safer than probably other sidewalks.  And I always get off the bike and walk it when crossing a crosswalk.

This new route feels a lot like cycling when I was a kid, and I’m a little more comfortable.  Hills in the middle of the route have taught me that I need to take it slow and easy and to bring a towel or something to wipe off when I’m done, especially if I want to bike in work clothes.  I’ve only done it once so far, but since it looks like my summer duties are only going to have me coming to campus a few days a week, I think I’m going to try it again in the near future.  It actually felt really good, and I’ve already bought new gear for carrying things.  (The basket I have on the back isn’t the biggest, and I carry a lot of stuff to school.)

This week, I’m focusing on tutoring, proctoring tests, and meeting with my advisor to discuss the research I’ll be doing over the summer.  Now that my generals are finished, research is what most of my schooling is going to be about, and while I was sort of starting it last semester, now it’s going to be serious.  I can’t let myself sit on the couch all day, all summer long.

How I Lost 50 Pounds in a Few Hours (But not the way you think.)

Got you with that title, didn’t I?  Well, the truth is that shedding baggage is almost as good as shedding the actual weight.  As I’ve stated before, I have this concept that I call Weight Loss Limbo.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about.  It’s that pair of pants that you know doesn’t quite fit, but you don’t want to admit it.  Or that dress you used to look awesome in, a few years ago.  It’s the fact that you don’t want to buy new clothes that actually fit, because that would mean you have to admit that you gained weight.  It’s a universal concept.

The photo you see here is my closet.  Every single one of those hangers used to have an item of clothing on it.  My closet was stuffed, full.  It seemed like I should have a million things to wear.  The truth is that what is left in that photo is all the clothes in my closet that actually fit.  Yes, that’s right.  I had a full closet, and most of it I couldn’t even wear.  There were some shirts and pants I had owned since high school. That’s over 10 years ago now for me.

One of the nice but weird things about gaining weight is that we have the unending optimism that we’ll lose it again.  Nowhere else have I seen such unwavering belief and hope.  Why else would we keep things for years that don’t fit? “Well, when I lose the weight, it might fit again,” we say.  Despite the fact that some of us have hit puberty since then.  I will never again have the body of a 16 year old, and it’s time I faced that.  I’m a woman.  I have hips, and breasts, and some very flabby parts.  So this weekend, I purged my closet of what didn’t fit.  I kept a few things (like the size 4 silk skirt that is just gorgeous), but most of it went into boxes to be donated.  The old items that had stains or tears went in the scrap pile or the garbage.  And afterward, my closet was magically emptied.  Full of potential for me to fill it with things that fit (like those new trouser jeans that need hemming.)

I’m telling you, friends, don’t be scared of a big purge like this.  I love most of my old clothes, but after all these years, I’ve not only outgrown them in size, but also in mentality.  Something that looked awesome to my 16 year old self would not be appropriate for my 26 year old self. I’d look like a woman trying to dress like a teenager.  That’s never attractive.  It is liberating to get rid of this stuff.  It hung over me, telling me how much of a failure I was for not losing the weight “omg rite nao!”  I’ll lose the weight eventually.  And when my clothes get too big, I can buy new ones, or get my favorites taken in.  But that’s the point.  I should be wearing my favorite clothes now, or finding new favorites I can wear now, instead of getting hung up on the old ones.  (See the puns I put in there?)

Have you ever had to purge most of your belongings?  How did it feel?  What were your reasons?  Also, what wonderful new goodies should I fill my now empty closet with?

Summer Project: Weight Loss Limbo

All right, time for the the beginning of my summer projects collection.  First up, it’s more like a perpetual project rather than just a summer project, but because I was derailed during the semester, I’m picking it up in earnest again.  This, my friends, is the Weight Loss Limbo.

I won’t say I’ve struggled with my weight for years.  It’s not true.  I haven’t been struggling at all.  I’ve been unhappy every time I find out I gained another pound.  It’s been building for years now.  I resisted buying new clothes, or buying clothes I’ve wanted “because I’ll lose the weight”.  I was living in a state of limbo.  I wasn’t losing weight, but I wasn’t facing it either.

Recently, I hit a whopping weight that I don’t want to disclose at this time.  Needless to say, it’s the heaviest I’ve ever been in my entire life.  And I said “It’s summer.  There’s no good excuse for this.”  So I’m climbing back onto the bandwagon.  Read more about my plan below.

Continue reading Summer Project: Weight Loss Limbo