Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

I am formally announcing my goal of losing ten pounds by June 1st. This means I have to lose a little over a pound a week for the next nine weeks. In order to achieve this goal I will be doing at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise every day and going to BodyPump at least twice a week. And I will limit my diet to 1600 calories a day, and eat more healthful foods. Inspired by Karrie, I will be posting a weigh-in journal every Saturday with my official weight loss total.

Karrie and I went to the gym yesterday evening, which was great. Thanks, Karrie, for inviting me!!! I had a rather stressful day, but after thirty minutes on the treadmill and thirty minutes on the elliptical, all that stress had melted away. I definitely find it easier and more enjoyable to work out when I go with someone else.

I also made it to BodyPump this morning with Karrie and Jennifer. Again, I'm so much more likely to go when I'm meeting someone. This morning's work out was tough, because I am still a little sore from Thursday and I added a little weight on the back track today. I plan to get on the elliptical machine at some point today, but I have some house chores I have to do first. I will get it done though!

The diet part of this goal is going to be the biggest challenge for me. I don't have very much willpower. And because of my weird schedule and general laziness, I tend to eat a lot of fast food. So I'm planning menus for a week at a time and have prepared several meals and frozen them to reheat later and stocked up on fruits and veggies for snacks. I decided that I won't try to cut out pop all together, but I will really cut back. I have been trying not to keep pop in the house, but I bought these small 12 oz bottles and I will limit myself to only one a day.

Well, laundry and mopping and dishes are calling my name. How does this house get so dirty? I feel like I'm never here!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

For once, it wasn't me! I am the queen of those kinds of gaffes, forever saying just the wrong thing. However, I'm rarely on the receiving end and I find that position most uncomfortable. Especially since this one's a doozy! Read on.

The other day at work, one of our regular, normally aloof, patrons suddenly became rather chatty and as I was going about my work behind the desk, said this to me: "So is this your first?" I was stunned and stopped and stared, wondering if he could possibly be talking to me, and he continued, "Do you know if you're having a boy or girl?" I was so shocked, I could hardly stammer out that I was in fact not expecting anything. He was embarrassed and apologized, but that pretty effectively ruined my afternoon. Isn't this supposed to be one of the first things that people learn never, EVER to say?

And to make matters worse, I turned to my co-worker, who overheard all this and was as baffled as I was, and I sort of muttered in a bewildered, wounded way, "Do I really look pregnant?" and she did the unthinkable--she actually looked me up and down and said, "I think it's the jeans. Those lower waistbands change the way things look." I realize she was trying to be helpful, but this reminds me of that Friends episode where Chandler is schooled in the unspoken rules of relationships by Ross and Rachel after he offends Janice by giving her the once-over before answering that no, she doesn't look fat. The appropriate response is always "NO, of course not," regardless of the truth and you never, EVER look. I especially figured a fellow woman would know this. Fortunately, all my friends have since responded in the proscribed manner, and I'm beginning to believe them.

This little incident took place on Tuesday, and I've been rather down since then. Rather than having a motivational effect on my work-out ethic, I went sort of the opposite direction. But today I made it back to BodyPump and I ellipticized for twenty minutes after that. I decided that I am finally going to lose that ten pounds I always tell myself I'm going to lose. I'm going to watch what I eat and work out a lot more regularly. I have never been very good about dieting, but I've prepared some healthful menus for this coming week. And I plan to stick to it. In fact, I'm practicing this right now, while I'm writing this, because I'm craving a bowl of mint-chip ice cream that's downstairs in my freezer, but I am exercising my willpower by not going down to get it.

P.S. I wasn't going to post this story because it's rather embarrassing, but motivation is motivation, regardless of where it comes from, right? And what good is an embarrassing story if you can't let other people laugh at you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good Old Fashioned Outdoor Fun

I gave my nephew a t-ball set for Easter. He's definitely a natural-born athlete with almost boundless energy, and loves nothing more than to be outside in the sun (or rain or snow or any weather really). Sunday was a mild, almost warm, early-spring day, and we spent almost three hours outdoors on Sunday batting around, digging with tractors, and chasing a soccer ball (and sometimes just each other). Although I have no real way to measure, I feel like that afternoon was as much of a workout as an hour on the elliptical machine or treadmill. And it was way more fun!

In several conversations that I've had lately with different people, a similar theme has come up. It has to do with spending time outside, and frequently a specific book is mentioned, namely, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. The main idea is that kids need to spend more time outside in unstructured playtime, but I'd like to expand that idea to include adults, or at least, myself. I've never really considered myself an "outdoor" girl; as a child I would have said my favorite activity was reading (inside). But looking back, most of my childhood memories involved playing outside. We didn't have a television or computer, so there wasn't much to do in the house. My siblings and I and our friends ran all over our sprawling apartment complex and then later all over our small hometown. We built forts in the neighbor's backyard, dug snow tunnels, and had mud fights in the alley.

Sometimes I think I am too obsessed with counting minutes or calories burned in my workouts. I feel like they're too structured and I that's why I don't enjoy them much and therefore have less motivation. As an adult there are so many more demands on my time, so I try to squeeze things in, and I feel like I have to "make every minute count." It's so much more efficient to burn 300 calories in 30 minutes on the elliptical machine rather than a hour walking outside. But is the most efficient way always the best way?

The seasons are changing, the weather is getting warmer, and daylight saving time has made the evenings lighter longer. After being cooped up all winter, I'm really looking forward to being able to spend time outside again. And this year, I want to really spend time outside--go for bike rides, play tennis at the park, go for long walks, play soccer/baseball/frisbee/whatever with my nephew. I want to workout, without feeling like I'm working out. Mostly I just want to have more fun.

Does any of this make any sense? It's late and I'm just rambling now. The picture is of N with his new t-ball set. Isn't he cute! He calls the tee a "skeeter." I have no idea where he got that; he just said it when he opened the box and it stuck. He's got a pretty good arm and can really send that ball flying. He just needs to work on the concept of aiming. I'm not very athletic or coordinated, but it's fun playing with a three-year-old because at least I'm a little more so than he is. Is that wrong to say?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Apologies

Karrie pointed out that I haven't blogged in a whole week. I'm sorry and please forgive me. I will try to do better this week. As I mentioned in my last post, this week has been incredibly busy and I have been rather preoccupied with work commitments. But that's all over now, so I should be returning to my regularly scheduled blog posting.

In the midst of the chaos, I did find time to make it to two BodyPump classes. I got up and met Jennifer and Karrie at BodyPump at 6:00(!!) on Wednesday morning (I still feel a little sleep deprived from that since I had to work at nine and didn't get to go home and take a nap like Karrie did) and then I went with Karrie again on Thursday evening. I haven't been ellipticizing at home this week, but I moved around some heavy furniture and I've done some strenuous work in the yard, clearing out brush and tearing out part of a fence. That has to count for something, right?

I can tell that I'm less stressed out when I exercise regularly. But ironically, it's the first thing that I cut out when I'm stressed and feel like I have too much to do in too little time. This week, I was so stressed out, I didn't even do much knitting, and that's something I always make time to do. I plan to get back into the routine of BodyPump and ellipticizing this coming week. Posting helps keep me accountable, so I will try to keep up better on that too.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just Checking In

I didn't intentionally plan it, but this past week and this next week are insanely busy for me at work. Plus, there have been several changes at home, with Sis moving out and preparing for a new roommate to move in. And I have been knitting like crazy on my Juliet cardi for the Knitter Project, which I was supposed to have mailed by yesterday (yeah, that didn't happen; maybe by Monday it'll be ready to go out). So in the midst of all this, exercising has unfortunately taken a backseat. My goals this week were to do some sort of cardio every day and make it to BodyPump three times. Well, I only managed cardio two days this week and I only made it to one BodyPump.

I had a great time at BodyPump today; it felt good to get back into it after more than a week away. I increased weights for a couple tracks to really challenge myself. If I get up and make it to BodyPump on Saturday mornings, I seem to be in a better mood for the rest of the day. Karrie pointed out a few weeks ago when I was whining about the weather that exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins so maybe that has something to do with it. I am going to copy one of Karrie's posts and record what weights I use for BodyPump so that I can look back in a few months and see if how much I've improved.
  • Warm up: medium & small
  • Squats: medium & medium
  • Chest: medium
  • Back: medium & small
  • Triceps: small & small
  • Biceps: small & small
  • Shoulders: small & small
I'm still such a weakling compared to Karrie, but I've really improved from where I started (just the small weight on all tracks).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I'm Gonna Have to Face It, I'm Addicted...

To pop (soda, Coke, soft drinks, whatever you wanna call it). I've been trying to break this addiction for almost four years now, and I've gotten nowhere. It started when I was living in Omaha and working at the Picture People during the Christmas season; some days I would work eleven- or thirteen-hour shifts with no break and the only calories I consumed would be from the Mt Dew someone brought me from the food court, because they never bothered to bring me food. (I wish I were exaggerating; the management was supremely horrible, and I was the only non-smoker, so I was always overlooked when it came to breaks.)

I've tried to give up pop several times in the past three years, and sometimes I've even been successful for a few weeks. I've tried to just cut back, but that never lasts long either. I drank a lot of pop in college, and so I decided my senior year to just give it up, just like that, and I did. I've been trying to figure out why it was so easy for me in college, when pop was free and readily available with every meal in the dining hall and why I'm struggling so hard now. I have no idea. About the time that I gave up pop in college, I was walking two to four miles almost every day, and I think I gave up pop improve my health. I lost probably ten pounds that semester, just walking and not drinking pop. Now I'm exercising regularly again, and I want to improve my health and lose a little weight, but I can't seem to kick the pop habit.

There's a lot of controversy over how bad pop really is for you. Most articles that I've read say that it's not so much that pop is bad for you, it just often replaces other nutritious beverages and/or foods that would be more beneficial. I'd rather err on the side of caution, however, and cut it out of my diet, or at least significantly reduce the amount I drink. My food journal has already helped me cut back my daily intake. It's one thing when I am guzzling pop all day at work without thinking about it, but it's quite another when I total up the number of ounces (and calories!) I drank and see that number in black and white.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Stairway to Fitness Heaven?

As I noted in my last post, this week my goals are to do some sort of cardio exercise for at least thirty minutes everyday and to make it to three BodyPump classes. I got a good start on the cardio tonight when I met Karrie and Jennifer at the gym. We spent about forty minutes on the treadmill and then moved to the stair machine. I'd never done the stairs before, and it was tough! I did maybe about fifteen minutes of climbing total, spread out over about twenty-five minutes. After about seven minutes I realized what it reminded me of: the cathedrals towers in Europe that "you just have to see the view from," which of course never had elevators, and you had to climb up and up probably 500 steps, usually in a winding staircase and it felt like it was never going to end and you're in the middle of a huge line, so you have to keep going or the Japanese tourists behind you will poke you in the back with their umbrellas or push past you and your friends all pass you by and you're the last of your group to get to the top and then by the time you do get there you're so worn out you can barely hold your camera up to take a steady picture and then just when you've caught your breath your tour guide announces that "time's short and we have to move on to the next stop" and you have to go down the 500-step winding staircase, which should be easier but is actually harder, because your head is so heavy and your weakened body has to hold it up to keep from tipping over and rolling head-over-heels down the stairs.

Anyway. In case you didn't pick up on it, I'm not a huge fan of the stair climber machine. It'll probably be a while before I do that one again. I'm just starting down the path to physical fitness, and the stairs seem like at least an "advanced-intermediate" level activity.

I've also started a food journal, writing down everything that I eat each day. I've seen several articles that said that the key to achieving and sustaining long term weight loss is keeping a food journal. It makes total sense: seeing everything you eat written down in black and white is good motivation to eat right. The same advice is given to people who want to start and stick to a financial budget. I've never been very good at journals, so I'm mentioning this here to give me some accountability.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oh yeah, I work out too!

As this is supposed to be a blog about exercising, I should probably mention how I've been doing in that aspect the past couple days. I made it to BodyPump again last night, and I spent twenty-five minutes ellipticizing at home today (to the music of Disney's Aladdin--I love that Genie!). I had planned to go to BodyPump tomorrow morning, but I'm going to help my brother install his new kitchen cabinets instead. (I figure manual labor counts as a kind of exercise, right?) My goal for the next week is to do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day and to go to three BodyPump classes.

Home Demolishing

I gotta say, nothing releases stress and aggression like a taking a hammer to a wall.

My upstairs bathroom shower has been broken for a couple months now. The faucet handle broke and I have been too lazy and poor to get it fixed. But since I had to have the plumber out for another issue, I figured I ought to get this taken care of today too.


In order for the plumber to get to all the pipes to repair the broken part, I had to remove the shower wall. I have a prefabricated shower, so the panels fit together like a big puzzle, which fortunately meant I wouldn't have to completely destroy a whole wall. I just had to knock out the drywall around the panel I needed to remove, take out a few screws, and lift it out. It was pretty easy and didn't take long at all.

Just getting started and Mission Accomplished!

I'm so excited that my upstairs bathroom is all working again! Now I have to get in gear about repairing the drywall around the panel. Drywalling is one home repair that I'm actually pretty good at and that I kind of enjoy. And I've been wanting to repaint that bathroom anyway.

And the best part is, the plumber didn't charge me for the other thing I had him fix, since I saved him a bunch of time by taking out the wall while he worked on that. So I saved myself probably $100!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Musical Workout

I wasn't hungry when I went home for dinner tonight (who's hungry at 4:00?), so I worked out instead. I ellipticized for twenty-five whole minutes! That's the longest I've done since I was sick, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as my other elliptical workouts have been lately. I think I figured out why. I usually watch a sitcom or a movie while I'm working out, but today I put in a musical. Not just any musical either, but the Sound of Music, my favorite musical ever. I've always thought musicals were a bit magical: the costumes, the romance, the crowds of people randomly bursting into big song-and-dance numbers. And watching a musical while I'm ellipticizing makes my workout magical too! I skip to my favorite songs and try to keep in time with the rhythm and the time just flies by! I first noticed this phenomenon about a month ago, when I ellipticized to another musical, Bride & Prejudice, but today's workout confirmed it. This is an excellent reason to pull out all my favorite old musicals, and I'm going to try a few of my favorite Disney movies to see if it has the same effect.

One other quick note: in BodyPump one of the triceps tracks they play the Gwen Stefani song Wind It Up, which is based on the song the Lonely Goatherd from the Sound of Music. I've noticed that the triceps track goes quicker and easier for me when they play that song.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Pump it UP!

I went to BodyPump again last tonight with Karrie, Jennifer, and Brandy. I find myself actually looking forward to those classes, even though they're really challenging. But I always feel really good about myself when I'm done; I know I'm doing something positive. Even though I've only been going for about eight weeks, I can tell a difference. I've increased the weights for several of the exercises and I can see and feel some muscle tone in my arms. I think over the next few classes I'm going to try to increase the weights for the other tracks as well.

Monday, March 3, 2008

"Don't worry, I'm doing something real good!"

I didn't make it to the gym today, but I did workout at home. I ellipticized for 20 minutes and then I taught my sister how to do some of the moves from BodyPump. So I did manage to get almost an hour workout. Ellipticizing was really hard; I still haven't totally recovered from being sick. N wanted to "help" me by getting on the machine too, or adjusting the resistance level to the highest setting. But fortunately Kate distracted him by showing him how to lift weights. He was so cute trying to do bicep curls--he can do about three with the five pound weight.

While Kate and I were doing the BodyPump workout, N was entertaining himself elsewhere in the room. At one point we realized that he was being rather quiet, which usually means trouble, so Kate called out, "Bunny, what are you doing?" To which he replied, "Don't worry. I'm doing something real good!" in his innocent little voice, which of course meant he was doing something he shouldn't be doing (unwinding the thread from my sewing machine, to be exact).

After dinner tonight Kate and I had a cookie taste-off. She has a box of Girl Scouts Thin Mints (my absolute, all time favorite) and a package of Keebler Grasshoppers. I love, love, love the Thin Mints, but the Grasshoppers are only okay. Kate said that there wasn't really a difference, so we put that statement to the test. We both guessed right, and I believe even more firmly that the Thin Mints are by far the superior cookie. (I'm so proud of myself that I showed some will power and only ate three cookies, instead of devouring a whole sleeve, like I normally would.)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What a difference a day makes...

There has been a definite correlation between the weather and my state of mind lately. Yesterday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day and the feeling that spring was just around the corner put me in a cheerful mood and gave me a kick of motivation. I met Karrie, Jennifer, and Brandy at BodyPump in the morning and had a great, challenging workout. Then I spent the afternoon in the sunshine, working on refinishing my new-to-me kitchen cabinets. The weather was so warm I was even able to wear my favorite sandals.

This morning started off promising as well. The sun was shining and I didn't even need a jacket when I went to church (I wore my sandals again, too). But by the time services were over, the sky had clouded over, the wind had picked up, and the temperature had dropped about fifteen degrees. And along with the temperature, my mood has plummeted. I am anxious again about all those things that constantly weigh on my mind lately, like money and family concerns. I feel restless and frustrated and at loose ends, and worst of all, I feel like things are never going to get better.

I have been trying to get stuff done today though. I'm baking bread, and I inventoried my grocery stock to come up with healthful meal ideas for this week. And I recycled a sweater, which means I unraveled the yarn so I can knit it up into something else. So this afternoon,

$5 purple sweater from Old Navy

became this:
hanks washed and drying to be wound into balls later

I got the sweater on sale probably four years ago. It was a little small, but I always told myself, I'll lose weight and then it'll fit perfectly. Yeah, right. How many times have you told yourself that lie? As I was going through my closets a couple months ago, I realized that I could reclaim that yarn and turn it into something that actually fit me. The yarn is a nice purple tweed, 60% lambs wool, 40% nylon. I followed the instructions for sweater recycling detailed here. I'm hoping to have enough to make this Lush and Lacy Cardigan from SweaterBabe (the pictures on their website aren't that great, but there are lots of cute projects on Ravelry).

Hey, just talking about yarn and knitting has put me in a better mood. So has the smell of freshly baked bread wafting up the stairs from the kitchen. So, later 'gaters, I'm gonna go get a slice.