April check-in

It’s been three months since I started this blog, and it’s time for an update and accountability, especially since I missed that exercise last month. Here’s my progress toward my original outcomes goals. 

After   one month

After   three months

Size 14

Size 14 (but they’re looser, and I can wear my jeans without a   shaper)

Touch toes on third yoga sun salutation

Touch toes on second yoga sun salutation

Winded after one and a half flights of stairs

Winded after two flights of stairs

Fairly consistent six hours of sleep/night

Still just fairly consistent and still just six hours of sleep/night

Weight moves up and down the same 5 pounds each week – see more information   below

5 pounds seem consistently lost; weight moves up and down the next 3   pound range

BMI 28.2

BMI 27.9

So, I’ve made a little more progress toward flexibility and stamina, and even apparently lost five pounds! Now, the accountability; of all the commitments I made at the beginning, climbing the stairs at work is the one I haven’t wavered from.

What   I Committed To

What   I’ve Done This Month

Record what I eat every day. Every day. Be honest.

I stuck with this for about a week. But I eat basically the same   thing every day, so it was boring. Still, it only takes a few minutes a day,   so I should do better.

Start with yoga at least three times a week.

I’ve changed this to yoga one time a week, with strength training two   times a week. I buy groceries on the fifth day.

I’ll add more as I get this schedule under control.

I’ve been consistent with yoga once a week. I’m looking for the   discipline to add yoga on Saturdays, too.

Walk up the 3 flights of stairs to my office every day.

I’m still walking up the stairs every day I’ve been at work, both when   I get to work and at least four additional times each day.

Add cardio and strength training after a month.

I’ve added a strength workout twice a week, but I’ve only been   intermittently consistent about it. I haven’t quit, though, and I’m working   on improving consistency.

Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. After a month, think about going to bed   30 minutes earlier than that.

This is still a weakness, but I’m still trying.

This has been a month full of disruptions. It’s so much easier to be consistent about working out when my schedule is consistent. And I know that – since this is hard for me, the most consistent thing I do is look for excuses. So it’s easy to allow disruptions in my schedule to keep me from being consistent about working out.

But one of the things I’m trying to improve my consistency on is the discipline to keep coming back to the workout when I allow disruptions to interfere. And that’s a step-by-step process. It’s a step-by-step process I’m getting better at.

And what about meeting the nutritionist’s advice?

Nutritionist

Me

Aim for 1300 calories on days when I have a moderate workout

I still eat about the same thing every weekday and about the same   thing every weekend (though different from weekdays). Mostly, it’s 1300   calories or less.

Aim for 1500 calories on days when I have a tough workout

Still not up to the tough workout part, so still not increasing my   intake to 1500 calories

Commit to working out at least 3 times a week at first

I’m managing to work out at least three times a week about 75% of the   time, but not 100% of the time

Commit to working out at least 5 times a week after a few months

I’m aiming to start this in May, after aiming to improve consistency   in April

Aim for at least six hours of sleep a night, but seven hours is   better

I’m still working on this one; I crave the sleep, but it’s still hard   to go to bed before 10:00

On the “what I eat” front: my kids are an inspiration to me. My daughter is helping me on this quest. She’s sending me a lot of information about gluten sensitivities, following up on the first article she sent me from the food allergies blog post in The Idea Room. So I’m researching how to eliminate gluten for a month. I plan to start that in May, too.

sleep deprivation

Last month I cited another (far more experienced) blogger’s experience with weight gain and food allergies. Her experience with doctors, list of symptoms, and treatments is almost the same as mine, including thyroid and Vitamin D supplements. The primary difference is that she’s also testing an elimination diet to discover what effects food allergies may have on her situation. I want to keep an eye on her results.

In an earlier post, I wrote that my doctor had succeeded (after several attempts) in persuading me to consult a nutritionist. After I gave her the most honest report I could manage, the nutritionist focused on lack of sleep as the most significant factor that was inhibiting my efforts to lose weight. This morning, NPR aired a report called Sacrificing Sleep Makes For Run-Down Teens — And Parents (Allison Aubrey).

A single sentence in that report caught my attention: “We have a growing body of literature that ties weight gain to our 24/7 society and inadequate sleep,” says [sleep expert Helene Emsellem, medical director of the Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders, in Chevy Chase, MD].

So, there’s another thing to follow up on. I started with a simple Google search for sleep and weight loss, which produced a paltry 83,400,000 results. (What we need for the Internet is a “sort by” function like shopping sites have, so we can sort by most recent, most reliable, most outrageous, etc.)

My husband is a full-time student, and I’m the wage earner for the family right now, so we gave up cable with the DVR we were spoiled to. So far we haven’t found a way to watch those 9:00 – 10:00 shows at some time other than 9:00 – 10:00. We also haven’t found the willpower to give them up.

That means that even if we’re watching those shows in our pajamas, it’s generally 11:00 before we’re nodding off. The alarm goes off at 5:00 AM.

When I was a kid, I came home from school every day and watched Dark Shadows – a soap opera starring vampires. It scared me silly, so of course, I lay awake at night worrying about vampires, trying to persuade my 11-year old self that they don’t really exist, and swearing I wouldn’t watch Dark Shadows any more. That lasted until the next afternoon.

Apparently I haven’t progressed much in 44 years. Every morning at 5:00, I swear I’m going to bed earlier. And every evening at 9:00, I want just one hour to sit and relax with the TV.

First month accounting

It’s been a month – time for an update and accountability. So, I think I’ll try an experiment: the first of each month, I’ll revisit my goals and see if there’s any change.

 First, the update.

Where   I am

After   one month

Size 14

Size 14

Touch toes on sixth yoga sun salutation

Touch toes on third yoga sun salutation

Winded after one flight of stairs

Fine after one flight of stairs, winded after one and a half

Six or fewer hours of sleep/night

Fairly consistent six hours of sleep/night

30 pounds heavier than I want to be

Weight moves up and down the same 5 pounds each week – see more information   below

BMI 29.1

BMI 28.2

So, there’s been some progress with flexibility and stamina. I’ve added extra flights of stairs during the day – I drink about two liters of water during the work day, with predictable consequences. So, whenever nature calls, I walk one floor up and back. And my BMI has dropped, despite the fun with my weight.

Here’s the deal with that. I seem to have not lost a single pound for real. My weight varies by about five pounds every week, up and down and back up and back down. It seems to hinge primarily on sodium and water weight, which hinges on whether I eat any food that someone else has prepared. I hate to cook, so eating food someone else has prepared is always my first choice. The simple solution would seem to be to eat a lot of boxed foods, but I don’t eat processed foods.

Now, the accountability

What   I Committed To

What   I’ve Done This Month

Record what I eat every day. Every day. Be honest.

I just started this discipline this week. But I’ve been consistent   for two days. LOL (My Fitness Pal’s internet log)

Start with yoga at least three times a week.

Reset: I’ve been fairly consistent – see more information below.

Walk up the 3 flights of stairs to my office every day.

I’ve walked up the stairs every day I’ve been at work. And I’ve added   extra flights during the day.

Add cardio and strength training after a month.

It’s been a month, and I found a great beginner’s workout on Shape   magazine’s website, which I started today.

Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. After a month, think about going to bed   30 minutes earlier than that.

This is a weakness, but I’m still trying.

So, the yoga. My pattern has been to be consistent for a week or two, fall off for a month or two, be consistent for a week or two …. I’ve been more consistent this last month than in the past, and I’ve had far shorter periods of falling off. Since I believe in claiming victory at every reasonable chance, I’m claiming that as a victory, and committing to longer periods of consistency and even shorter periods of falling off.

And what about meeting the nutritionist’s advice?

Nutritionist

Me

Aim for 1300 calories on days when I have a moderate workout

I eat about the same thing every weekday and about the same thing   every weekend (though different from weekdays). Mostly, it’s 1300 calories or   less.

Aim for 1500 calories on days when I have a tough workout

Not there yet

Commit to working out at least 3 times a week at first

I’ve been fairly consistent about yoga 3 times a week – renewed this   commitment.

Commit to working out at least 5 times a week after a few months

I added a beginner’s strength routine today.

Aim for at least six hours of sleep a night, but seven hours is   better

Fairly consistent – again, my weakness; it’s easier to forego sweets   than to go to bed early.

 Here’s something interesting, though. My daughter sent me a blog post from The Idea Room. In it, the author describes almost exactly what I’ve experienced: frustration with losing weight after middle age, bloating, constipation, surprising and disturbing – and seemingly unchangebackable – changes to the shape of her body, prescriptions for thyroid and vitamin D supplements that seemed to stabilize her weight but not help her lose any. It’s a long list. Then an allergist tested her for food allergies. She’s beginning an elimination diet. Following her results should be very informative.

 And the next time I go to the doctor, she’ll hear all about this. Maybe it’s something.

 The thing is that I’m so fed up with hearing from doctors and articles and everyone else that all I need to do is eat less and exercise more. Well, I think I really can’t eat much less. I could certainly exercise more. But it’s all difficult to sustain after almost five years with no results. And so maybe it’s the lack of consistency. Or maybe it’s actually my fantasy of a benign tumor in my belly about the size of a basketball, the removal of which suddenly results in wearing a size 6. Or maybe it’s food allergies.

Back again

So, it’s been awhile. I was travelling, then I was catching up at home and at work after travelling.

Travelling is always hard on my eating habits. I lose control of how food is prepared, and I tend to give myself too much permission to do things like stop at the next Dairy Queen for a Georgia Mud Fudge blizzard with extra chocolate syrup. This time, I drove by all but one Dairy Queen (and no, I didn’t turn around and go back), which I count as a victory. And as I’ve said before, I add little or no salt to my food, and restaurants add way too much for my taste or my waist.

But I have a few other things on my mind. In my last post, I was thinking about adding a strength workout. I found apps in both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. I started exploring with great enthusiasm – which didn’t last long. It turns out that all of the apps I found were not for beginners. I found my knees were so creaky, I couldn’t even do a lunge!

So, I went looking for beginner workouts. I found these on the Shape magazine website, which I’ll explore this week. The Shape Up Size Down – Beginner’s Workout and the Shape Up Size Down – Absolute Beginner’s Workout – Part 2. Then I searched on the Shape magazine website and found a whole “shape up” series along with some good advice and insight from “Skinny Ms”. If none of that works, I’ll explore some of the other links that came up when I Googled “beginner workout”.

All of that started me thinking about everyday lifestyle choices I’ve made that basically mean I’m volunteering to be old before my time. Some are silly, but some may have an impact on long-term flexibility and range of motion. For instance, I said earlier that one of my goals is to touch my toes on the first sun salutation instead of the third in my yoga workout. I started noticing all the times I could bend over and stretch my leg muscles (but I don’t) – picking something up off the floor, putting on my shoes, getting something from a bottom drawer or cabinet. There are too many to list. But over time, don’t these little everyday choices begin to limit range of motion? So come on, now, unless you’re wearing a mini skirt (and if you’re 55, you really shouldn’t be wearing a mini skirt, should you?) go ahead and bend on over and stretch those leg muscles!

 

 

Aside

 U. S. News and World Report ranked the best diets for 2013: the best weight loss diets, best plant-based diets, best heart-healthy diets, best diabetes diet, best commercial diets, best diets for healthy living, best diets overall, and easiest diets to follow. Some interesting reading there. 

In my long history with diets, I’m convinced of two things. First, a healthy lifestyle is better than any diet, but a “diet” diet may be a means to that healthy lifestyle. And second, if you go the “diet” diet route, the one that works for you is the one that’s best.

What I mean is that I need a lot of flexibility. Others need a lot of structure. Some need a strict regimen. I can’t manage with what I think of as an all or nothing approach – one where any small slip-up can undo weeks of effort. I need a balance that provides enough structure to keep me going in the right direction without built-in pitfalls that turn a slip-up into a what-the-heck-I’ve blown-it-now binge. Enough philosophy. 

Today was a challenge. I’ve had insomnia as long as I can remember, but Sunday nights are always hardest, so Mondays would be a good day to take a nap if there were time to take a nap. I did not want to do yoga when I got home from work today. I really wanted to curl up on the couch with a couple oranges and a scarf to crochet to an Ingrid Bergman movie. 

So to keep myself honest, the first thing I did when I got home was change into my yoga clothes. I’d feel too silly walking around the house in my yoga clothes, so that’s one way I keep myself honest. Tomorrow, I plan to add a workout from another free Android app – Women’s Health Workouts Lite and see how that goes. There’s a paid version, but I usually start with the free version before I buy. I’ll let you know how it goes.    

And while I’m busy adding in all these links, here’s the link to the Libra app for tracking weight.

First week and then the weekend

I found a free Android app in the Google Play Store called Libra (I’m still learning how to add links, or I would add it here). It’s a simple weight tracker that lets me enter a weight every day and track progress toward a goal, ending at a target date that the app sets based on how quickly I want to lose weight. That helps satisfy my somewhat obsessive need to know whether I’ve lost any pounds, even though I know that’s not the most important indicator of whether a commitment to a healthier lifestyle is helping.

This last week, though, I lost three pounds. Now, I think that’s most likely attributable to mostly eating food I cooked at home instead of food someone else cooked, which mostly means I controlled the sodium content.

But how did the last week and the weekend go?

I walked up three flights of stairs to my office every work day this week. I ate a healthy diet every work day this week. I had a yoga session three days this week. And I didn’t do badly on the weekend, though I recognize that’s definitely my weakness.

Weakness notwithstanding, I had some successes. We had pizza, but I order it with very light cheese, only vegetables, and no sauce – which I think is yummy even thought it’s a relatively low fat and low sodium version of pizza. Biggest failure was the scoop of German chocolate ice cream from Baskin Robbins. Still, though, it was only one scoop, which is two less than I wanted.

And we ate out with friends Saturday evening. That’s where this blog served one of its purposes. My daughter commented on it that she was proud of me. Keeping that in mind is why I brought half my meal home instead of eating it all for supper, and it’s why I didn’t eat what my husband left on his plate – what my grandmother called “shame food” (it’s a shame to waste it, and it’s a shame to eat it when you’re not hungry for it).

I’m counting this as a good start that I can build successes on.

 

First steps

Here’s a little background.

About ten years ago, I started working to lose weight. Losing weight in my mid-40s turned out to be different from losing weight in my mid-20s or mid-30s, but I succeeded in losing almost 50 pounds. And I succeeded in keeping that weight off for about five years.

Then I started allowing myself a few too many treats and breaks from a fairly healthy diet. Then we moved quite a ways out of town, which meant a lot longer commute to work – and less sleep to make up for the lost time. Then I changed jobs and found myself in a much more stressful situation. And menopause … well maybe that’s a post for another day.

Now here I am in my mid-50s. And nothing that worked in my 20s, or 30s, or 40s has worked in my 50s.

Usually when I set out on a project like this, I want to jump in with a long list of changes to obtain the maximum result in the shortest time. Usually when I approach a project like that, I just burn out. So, for this project, I’m trying a few changes at a time. Here are my first goals.

Where I am

Where I want to be

Size 14

Size 8

Touch toes on sixth sun salutation

Touch toes on first sun salutation

Winded after one flight of stairs

Fine after three flights of stairs

Six or fewer hours of sleep/night

Seven hours of sleep/night

30 pounds heavier than I want to be

30 pounds less than I am

BMI 29.1

BMI 23.3

I tried for several years to lose weight, but succeeded only in losing weight. I blamed menopause (what’s with that weight around my midriff anyway – it wasn’t there when I was younger, even when I was overweight), and I got really frustrated at all the articles I read that said middle-aged women really only gain weight because we eat too much and exercise too little – I was eating a really restrictive diet, but admittedly engaging in only sporadic forays into physical activity.

My doctor finally persuaded me to consult a nutritionist. The nutritionist gave me a short list of tasks.

1.      Aim for 1300 calories on days when I have a moderate workout.

2.      Aim for 1500 calories on days when I have a tough workout.

3.      Commit to working out at least 3 times a week at first.

4.      Commit to working out at least 5 times a week after a few months.

5.      Aim for at least six hours of sleep a night, but seven hours is better.

That last one, she said, was the kicker. Like many middle-aged women with more commitments than time, insufficient sleep has been a problem for some while. The nutritionist said that all my other efforts would be lost if I didn’t manage the sleep issue because of the health and weight consequences of sleep deprivation.

So, here are my first steps.

1.      Record what I eat every day. Every day. Be honest.

2.      Start with yoga at least three times a week.

3.      Walk up the 3 flights of stairs to my office every day.

4.      Add cardio and strength training after a month.

5.      Go to bed 30 minutes earlier. After a month, think about going to bed 30 minutes earlier than that.