Monday, January 26, 2015

Random Thoughts

Well, I think part of my problem about consistently blogging is that I have SO MANY things floating around my head – that I then never end up getting to address any of them. So maybe I will just riff today and touch lightly on a bunch and leave it at that.

1. The bloat. Oh, the bloat. It goes: bloat, bloat, bloat, bloat, bloat... lose, lose, lose, lose, lose! Which means: Hanging out with the same number or two for a week or two, and then the pounds seem to just fall off me for a few days. I've talked about this before, and it has a name; it's referred to as the whooosh effect. It's kind of fun but as you can imagine, it is also crazy-making, especially since I am experiencing the holding pattern at this crucial point of the sub-300 pound thing. I touched 299 for a lovely, totally distracting day, and since I've been playing with the same two or three pounds. You guys, I can feel the water. As soon as I wake up in the morning I can probably predict that I will see a slight gain or stay the same based on how my fingers feel.

It's funny because I'm just on the tail end of the period from hell, when you would think relief from this type of thing would be starting to happen. Instead, I lost several pounds during the nightmare period and now it's stalling. I'm not really complaining, I promise. More or less I am observing and taking notes, and maybe feeling a little frustration but not really because I know I'll be coming out of this, just like always. Here is where some of you would no doubt tell me about the hazards of the daily weigh. But don't worry, don't waste your breath. I'm all good with this. I'm just talking.

2. The fat. There is no question. I am still fat and will be for another long while. It's funny because since losing the weight I have I don't really feel fat anymore in many ways. There are so many things I can do easily now that were becoming or already difficult or impossible. I'm really looking forward to getting down the next 50 pounds in particular – I think many more differences will become apparent once I get down to 250. I'm really excited to get there!

3. Tonight is the orientation for the weight loss program I joined over at my local Fleet Feet store (unfortunately) called Ton of Fun Weight Loss Challenge. It's less a formal program than a thing that will help me keep my momentum for the next three months – you weigh in weekly and you get prizes when you lose certain poundage. It appeals to the competitor in me, competing against myself but also at the end, could I be the one who's lost the most weight? It's like a game that's going to keep me engaged and accountable. Even more so, I am champing at the bit to start the No Boundaries 5K Training that begins on February 15th. (Though honestly it also terrifies me!)

I have been more or less not setting time-based goals for weight loss, but if I want to be honest, I would love to lose 30 pounds during the challenge, which would put me at 274 on the Fleet Feet scale. (I did my baseline weigh on Saturday fully clothed at 304 – their scale is the same as my scale at home!) Even more honest, I want below 270, but that's probably a lot to ask of myself, and... this is not a race! I will get there soon enough.

4. The joy. Despite any negativity, any crazy hormonal swings I've had lately, there is so much joy in what I am doing for my body. I love challenging myself, becoming stronger, becoming leaner. I have taken three yoga classes at my gym now and every time I surprise myself at what I can do rather than fret over what I cannot. I love the intense concentration, both physical and mental. At the end of each session when we say our Namastes, I feel intense emotional release and a huge sense of accomplishment. I hope to be able to fit at least two yoga sessions in each week.

5. Other people. So, I'm losing weight. Some people seem to have noticed, which is nice, and some people just know because I post about my progress on Facebook from time to time. While there has been a conversation about this on the interwebs where people say that maybe you shouldn't compliment a fat person who appears to have lost weight, I would like to give you permission to comment on my weight loss anytime you like. Hey, I get it why people say they don't want to hear it – and please check out those links; they make valid points – but for me, it's nice. I'll take a shower in 'em.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It Begins with a Two

... My weight, that is! 299 this morning for the first time in a long time.

Wow! This hasn't happened in about seven years, and it feels fabulous. So much so that I am having a really hard time concentrating on much of anything today, to be honest.

Another side-by-side: September 2013 and just today! 73 pounds lost.


For some reason from the start of the new year the weight has been coming off fairly easily. I wonder if it's the upped water intake, or the continued exercise efforts, or what? Who knows. I'm just going to keep on keeping on. I am so ready to reach my goal.

That big goal is still way far down the line, but after what I have been able to do so far, I fully believe – no, I KNOW – that I am going to get there.

This despite having the absolute worst period I've had in a long time. Good god, it's like a horror film over here. Even though the last thing I really want to do is exercise, I've been doing it anyway. I'm enjoying the 30 Days of HIIT I've been doing (today is day 3!) and walking on my lunch breaks at work. I even discovered that getting my C25K done in the basement is totally doable – yesterday was week 4 day 2 of that. I feel like I am killing it all.

The most amazing feelings. I am creating them for myself.

How are you making your own amazing feels? 

Monday, January 19, 2015

What, pizza?

The finished product, with onions and orange bell pepper topping.


Yes, pizza.

Pizza is my absolute favorite food ever. I could eat it every day and never get sick of it. I've always found a way to fit it in to my regular eating, and it is usually take out of some kind – local pizzerias, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, whatever. Any pizza is good pizza as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, I've experimented over the years with homemade pizza, but was never super happy with the results. Happy enough, sure, but never like, "WOW!"

I finally figured it out. I had a good basic recipe to use, but until I started playing with the amount of dough per pizza and the temperature at which it's cooked, I was just never super impressed with my results. This is the recipe that I've been using. It's pretty similar to many you'll find out there on the interwebs, and it's a good recipe that's easy to make, and quick to boot. You don't necessarily have to let the dough rise before using it, and many times I don't. If you have more time and you DO let it rise more, it will only taste better.

OK, I know. You're probably like, but Amy, you're talking about losing weight and stuff. Why are you posting about pizza? Well, let me tell you, the recipe I have arrived at (and shown in the above photo) ends up being about 850 calories for the whole 12" pizza. For me, that's a generous meal since I tend to eat 1600-2000 calories a day. I can eat the whole pizza. As someone who likes to eat a lot of food at a sitting, this is a dream come true.



Does that sound weird?

Oh, well. I've lost 70 pounds in the past eight months, so...

Anyway. I use the recipe I linked above but I use one quarter of it per pizza. This makes for a really tasty, slightly crunchy thin crust. I used to use the whole recipe for one pizza of about the same size, which resulted in a really poofy, chewy crust and not as much bang for your calorie buck. I never thought I'd like a thin crust better than thick, but that's exactly what happened.

Pretty thin!
I use a pizza stone to cook my pizzas. The linked recipe calls for setting the oven at 450 degrees, but after trying a few things, it turned out that 500 degrees with the pizza stone was perfect. The pizza cooked quickly – just 9 minutes did the trick – and it was bubbly and steamy and crispy. The toppings I used here, onion and orange bell pepper, went on raw and came out just right, slightly softened and roasted with the flavors just singing. I had considered sauteeing or roasting them ahead of time, but they really didn't need it. (Maybe I will try that one day, though, just to see.)

The pizza before cooking, using the peel to transfer it to the pizza stone.
I do slice the toppings very thinly. I think that is key. Of course you can use any toppings you like, but man oh man, this combination was most excellent. I'm usually a mushroom-onion-black olive gal, or plain old pepperoni, but this blows those combos away.

What else? Oh yes, the sauce. In the interest of convenience, I've been trying different canned or jarred sauces. Muir Glen's Organic is nice, though does seem to retain a bit of tinniness from its metal container; the one I liked best recently is one new to me by a company called Mids. It's jarred and the ingredients list is very simple. In the future, though, I will aim to create my own homemade. I have in the past and simply used a can of tomato sauce simmered with spices, which was fine but nothing special. Mids will be my go-to for now. I like my pizza fairly saucy and so I'm generous when spreading it around. 

Note: if you are using a peel to transfer your pizza to the stone, make sure to flour it so that it will come off the peel more easily. I used to have a lot of trouble with the dough sticking to the peel, but the flour really helps as does waiting to assemble the pie until you have all the ingredients ready and can put it all together quickly. It gives the dough less time to get sticky. ;)

Finally, the cheese. Sure, I could get all fancy with it, but I usually buy store brand shredded mozzarella. I don't bother with part-skim and get whole milk cheese because the difference in the calorie and fat content isn't enough to bother me, and that way I get full flavor and meltiness. One thing I have done recently is half the amount of cheese I put on the pie. This sounds crazy, but I was putting on a full two cups of cheese on my 12" pizzas. I really thought that's what made a pizza so good – lots of cheese. However, I discovered that one cup does just fine and has so many fewer calories. 

A little special touch before I throw it into the oven is gently spraying a fine olive oil mist on top, along with a sprinkling of oregano and red pepper flakes. 

The result is an absolutely delicious pie that I can't even believe I made myself. Seriously. It is also, as you might imagine, quite filling. 

Yum yum yum yum yum.

The long and short of it:

1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. each sugar and salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2.5 cups flour

In a medium to large bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm water, and let it dissolve and foam for a few minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients and stir together until it forms a slightly sticky dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for several minutes until smooth, adding sprinkles of flour if needed (not too much, though!). At this point you can use the dough right away, or you can form it into a ball in a lightly oiled bowl, letting it rise for however long... a few minutes, an hour, overnight in the fridge...

For a lovely, very thin crust, divide the dough into four balls. Each ball will make a 12" pizza. Or, for thicker crusts use half the recipe per pizza, or the whole darn thing for one doughy crust. I start by using my hands to stretch the dough, but especially for the thin crust a rolling pin is really key. You'll want to lightly flour the pin as well as you're using it. 

Made as I've shown it here with onion and orange bell pepper, each pizza has about 850 calories, 92 g carbs, 38 g fat (19 g saturated, but I'm not afraid of fat, so.), 37 g protein. I hope you enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Eight months

Hello hello!

I've thought about writing a post just about every day since the last one. Ideas for things I want to write about pop in my head and then I never get around to getting them down.*sigh* The good news is, I haven't been silent because of any bad reason. If nothing else, it's because I'm out busy doing stuff!

Last I reported in, I had a bad cold. That has mostly gone, save for a tiny bit of congestion and phlegm that still comes up here and there. For that reason, I was still tentative about making any huge effort in my exercise sessions, but I'm easing back sticking with walking mostly, with some other stuff sprinkled in. The biggest news is, I finally attended my very first yoga class!

I went on Wednesday evening after mulling it about for a good portion of the day. As with any new venture, I was nervous to go, but it was at my gym so there wasn't much to do but wait with the other yogis at the studio door for the Latin Heat class to finish! Yoga totally kicked my ass. It really did. Half the time I was full of hate and the other half completely in love. There were many Downward Dogs. There were things I could do, and things I couldn't do. I laughed. I cried.

In the end, I found myself excited to attend another session, so I am going again later today.

I spoke with the instructor for a few minutes after the class. She's nice but doesn't strike me, personality-wise, as your typical yoga person – a little on the loud and abrasive side, but not in an off-putting way, not that that makes sense. What I thought was really cool, though, was the fact that she was not one of these (also typical to my mind) willowly, lithe, endlessly flexible types (there were a few yogis in class like that, of course!) – she was fleshy and admitted she wasn't sure she'd get into the Wheel pose (she did). By the way, the Wheel is what I always thought of as a Bridge, like we used to do in elementary school, but it turns out in yoga, the Bridge is something else much easier – just thrusting up your hips and holding them in place. Anyway.

It was really, really challenging. I like a challenge.

Another thing I have been doing is working out in the basement of my office on lunch breaks! What?! Yes! There is this big room down there that is perfect for any number of things, including walks (it's big enough to be used as an indoor track), bodyweight exercises, jump rope, yoga, etc. etc. Most recently I did a 30-minute walk/run and a 10-minute HIIT workout (Day One of Neila Rey's 30 Days of HIIT). Again, here is something that looks easy but actually kicks major butt. Seriously. I was all like, what? Running in place (aka High Knees), squats, and squat thrusts? No problem! Except, no. It was hard. I thought I was in pretty good shape. No. Not yet.

By the way, everyone calls it a Burpee now, but when I was in high school we did those bad boys and they were called squat thrusts. They were also a lot easier to do in high school. Honestly, I could barely do the backward thrusting required for the movement at first, but it did become easier (kind of).

I am sore.

So, I still need to get back to my C25K program, for which I was about to begin week 4. As I mentioned earlier, I'm still a little phlegmy and was not sure if running was a good idea yet, but yesterday's basement workout assured me that I could probably power through. That will be next on the list – I may give it a shot on the treadmill after yoga this evening. I did actually sign up for the Fleet Feet store 5K training, it's official! I'll be starting that in mid-February. So yes, I am really, really doing this.

***

Overall, I am feeling very positive about things in general. I think one big difference between now and then (and a look back into way back blog posts will confirm) that I have very few negative feelings and thoughts associated with what I am doing. I do not feel resentful, I do not feel desperate, and it is rare that I get mad anymore about my relationship to the scale. I have a better understanding about how my body works in relation to my efforts. I also feel like I have a better understanding of food, which is funny to say since I have felt like a near expert for many years, but I don't know – there is just something different going on this time, in a really good way.

I kind of feel like superwoman, if you really want to know.

P.S. 70 pounds down! Yeah!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

An Unexpected Break

Well, the new year bestowed upon me the mother of all colds. It started with a hint of a scratchy throat on new year's eve eve, and by the day after new year's day it was clear that it was a thing. Several days later, it still is. The sore throat developed into a hacking cough and now it's in the sinus phase. I'm doing lots of expectorating. It sucks. I don't deal with colds well. I am a big baby.

I tried to be a trooper up until Sunday as far as exercise went, and so even though I was feeling crappy, I squeezed in a short stroll enough to fulfill the last of my Pact requirements for the week. That was it. Come Monday when the pacts restarted and I had the option of editing them, I decided to take a week-long break from all three that I normally do, including five days of at least 30 consecutive minutes of activity, seven days of logging food on MyFitnessPal, and eating twenty-five servings of fruits and veggies. I will still be logging my food, but not in as detailed a way, and quite frankly I've been feeding my cold and not adhering to any limits at all. I'm just eating whatever.

I just can't deal. I'm giving myself the gift of this expected break. It's probably a good thing anyway – I am a big believer in a break period here and there.

***

I made it through the holidays pretty well, though my eating wasn't the best, I still managed to make it through December with a decent loss of seven pounds, to 308. Much to my surprise, this past weekend my weight dropped to 306, which gave me a bit of wiggle room to deal with being sick. I'm back up to 308 today and my wish is that I can maintain that through this Friday for my next official weigh-in.

I was making good progress with the C25K program, ready to start week 4, in fact! Obviously that won't happen this week, so looking ahead to next week for that.

Overall just feeling blah, a little down, and slightly resenting this unwelcome interruption to my usual routine... but then again, like I said... maybe it will prove itself a gift in the end?

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Add-ons

This is quite possibly my favorite time of the year – everyone gets a chance to hit "reset". Or simply, "renew" if you're in a good place. I feel the later about where I stand, but I also always know that I can be even better at what I do. With that in mind, here are a few new things I'd like to add on to my repertoire in the new year.

Glug, glug... a gallon jug.


Up my water intake to a gallon a day (16 – 8oz. glasses)
I already drink 10-12 glasses of water each day, so this shouldn't be too difficult. It was a suggestion made my trainer and it sounds good to me. Water's awesome.

Fit in a full hour of intentional activity at least five days a week
This will be the biggest challenge, but probably won't be hard once I figure out my schedule. Currently I've got the five days part down, averaging 30-40 minutes each session. I hope to continue walking on my lunch breaks at work (hopefully the weather will stay relatively mild!), and I can squeeze in walks or trips to the gym before and/or after work as needed. Weekends are never a problem – one hour a day on Saturday and Sunday is generally a given, so all I really need to worry about are three workdays, and usually one of those includes an evening gym workout anyway.

And by the way, cleaning house counts. Absolutely. So do outdoor household chores.

Edited to add: My trainer also suggested taking a quick, 20-minute walk in the morning before breakfast, and then power up with some nice protein. I want to try to make this a habit, too. Not being a very good morning person, it will be my biggest challenge. But it would also be a good way to get closer to my hour each day.

Add on the following activities: swimming, yoga, cycling outdoors
Point one: I need to try on my suits and see if one fits yet, and maybe shave my legs (though I am loath to). Point two: I need to get my bike serviced, which is just a matter of taking it in, and then awaiting suitable weather. Point three: Yoga just requires me to get my butt to a class at my gym. Easy.

This is not to say that I will be perfect. Like everything else I have done to get me where I am so far, it will be a process. But these are the things I'd like to get down pat sooner than later, and they can all sort of dovetail: More varied activities = more activity time = being more thirsty! Neat!

What modifications or additions are you making to your routine in 2015?




Friday, December 26, 2014

End-of-Year Reflection

Me: 2013 vs. 2014. Photos taken almost to the exact day, one year apart. Wow!


It's that time of year when I love to think back on what I did in the past 12 months and also what I'd like to do in the next 12 months. I'm happy that the hustle and bustle and stress of Christmas is over;  much prefer New Year's, though I don't usually do much. We tend to be homebodies and celebrate fairly quietly by ourselves (me, my partner, and our four cats), though sometimes we'll spend the time with a close friend or two, like we did last year and will do this year.

It was tomorrow last year that I went to my first session at the gym with a trainer. It took a while for me to make some solid changes in my life toward health and fitness, but that was the start. I went pretty faithfully to the gym until February, when I got sidetracked by a big exhibition I was preparing for, but found the strength and courage to go back in mid-May. It was then that I met my current trainer and I got really serious about my efforts. These steps were the most important I've taken for myself in a really long time, and I have zero regrets.

I have now built up a workout schedule that includes some meaningful activity (i.e. at least 30 minutes) five times a week, and sometimes more! I can hardly believe it myself. (Of course, this Christmas week was an exception – looks like it will be four times instead of five, but that's OK. That's still great, in fact!)

I've lost over 60 pounds since May.

Now's a good time to announce my intentions for 2015, to keep the momentum going.

• Keep losing weight and keep building strength and ability. I am not setting a number I want to see on the scale by a certain date. I'm simply going to keep doing what I have been doing.

I'm getting even more help with my efforts to assure that I stay on track!

• The local Fleet Feet store has a 5K training program that I'm going to join in mid-February. By then I'll just have completed the C25K program on my own, but I will be excited to get additional training, advice, and camaraderie. Working with others should help me push myself (safely) to the next level. It will include two training sessions a week for 11 weeks!

• The same store is also hosting a weight loss challenge beginning in late January! It, too, runs for 11 weeks and I like the idea of earning prizes and a little old-fashioned competition – just the thing to get me through that kind of down time of year when it's grey and cold and often depressing.

I can't do this alone. I'm taking very active steps to get the help I need to reach my goals – not only from my wonderful friends and family, but from some experts, too. It's something that I have not done in the past, unless you count going to Weight Watchers meetings in the old days (which I don't, really). I'm really only making this realization now, on this very day. It's OK to ask to help. 

So there you have it. As I go along and come across other opportunities, I will add them to my arsenal, but I'd say that I am pretty well prepared to take on the first half of 2015, wouldn't you?

What's in your plan for the new year? What do you want to do, and how will you make that happen?