Monthly Archives: January 2013

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!




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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.


Starting out

Does anyone ever start out on a project to improve something and think “Gee, I hope this takes a good long year”? Don’t most people start out to improve something wishing it would happen by the time they wake up next morning – or sooner?

I want to wake up in the morning weighing 30 pounds less, wearing a size 8, looking fit and buff, and not feeling winded after walking up a flight of stairs. But I know I didn’t wake up one morning 30 pounds overweight and needing to stop to catch my breath at the top of a flight of stairs.

So, the trick is to figure out how to get where I want to be. First, though, I need to know where that is. And to know how to get where you’re going, you need to know where you’re starting. I won’t say how much I weigh, but here are some other benchmarks.

I’m 5’5″, I wear a size 14, and my BMI is 29.1. I get winded walking up one flight of stairs or chasing around with grandchildren for a few minutes. I have sometimes been at a healthy weight, but I don’t know how it would feel to be truly fit. I’d like to know.

I want to do this using as much good information and research as I can find. As I go along, I’ll post the resources I find.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website has a lot of good information about healthy weight and fitness: According to that site, a healthy BMI for a middle-aged woman who’s 5’5″ is 18.5 to 24.9. The good news is that my BMI makes me overweight, but not obese. The bad news is that I’m a lot closer to obese than to healthy.

Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5—24.9 Normal
  25.0—29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

Here’s my first tool, one I saw on Pinterest. Use two containers (I’m using wine glasses). In one container, put as many pieces of something (I’m using marbles) as pounds you want to lose. For each pound you lose, transfer a piece to the other container. I have 30 marbles in one wine glass.