Monday, April 13, 2009

How one weight loss loser reverted to basic training

Weight loss has been on my mind for a while now. I've been overweight at least since my daughter was born. She's graduating from college very soon so my had-a-baby excuse expired years ago. For most of that time I’ve been trying to get on track and start an exercise regime that would be sustainable and work. I've had various degrees of success with some weight loss followed by some weigh gain followed by weight loss again and again.

The problem is that I’m basically lazy. I don’t like most physical activities. I like dancing but usually when I do that there's alcohol and party food involved. Unless I'm being chased, running is out of the question. I do like to walk but it’s never helped me shed fat or pounds. Even when I trained for and walked the Nike’s Women’s Marathon I didn’t lose an inch or a pound – just my breath.

Anyway, three things combined to finally get me on the exercise track;
  1. an iphone app,
  2. a web search
  3. fond memories of a smoky the bear hat.
Indulge me in a weight loss flash back.
It's the early 80s. I'm at Fort Jackson, SC. It's Army basic training and it's not a party. I turned 20 there. My legs were very strong and shapely then, and I had abs instead of a gut, not just because I was 20 but also because I had drill sergeants for personal trainers. They were scary and fascinating and made me run while singing, do push ups while counting, and they made me do sit ups the old fashioned way while they timed me. Those were the days when weight loss was inevitable.

Back to today's weight loss issue
Un/fortunately, the drill sergeants moved on to other troops and my life stopped including forced runs and PT at dawn. My body has reached a point where it is uncomfortable (and at times unsightly) to be me.

iphone to the weight loss rescue
A couple of months ago I added a new app to my iphone. It’s called Habits and it’s made to support David Allen’s GTD path to personal productivity. The app encourages you to make a list of all the little things you want to do and it reminds you to do them at the interval that you set.

This app was perfect because a long time ago I decided that daily movement was the way to sustainable weight loss. And since easy goes it is my motto when it comes to exercise I knew I had to use baby steps. So I decided to figure out the smallest possible thing I was willing to do on a daily basis around exercise, add it to my Habits app and do it until I felt ready to move up to something more. After some trial and error I came up with 100 high steps for my legs and 100 arm movements of some sort for my arms. I added the 2 tasks to my habits app and started doing them.

web search your way to weight loss

Finally the almost daily high steps and arm exercises energized me enough to think about a more involved weight loss program. I searched the web for exercise options and tried a few things;

  • free yoga at the health department
  • free pilates (again at the health department)
  • a new Juillian Michaels tape. (I also signed up at her website)
  • some of my old exercise tapes
  • a friend's adopted bowflex
  • jumping rope (I actually like this but jumping inside has issues)

Additionally, friend told me about a dance/movement class. I checked out their website and decided that it was too far away, too expensive, too gentle. It did spur me to made a mental list of what I'd do and what I wouldn't.

At some point I came across the Women’s Fitness Boot Camp concept. I thought, doesn't this sound like fun? Get up at 4:30 in the morning to be in a park at 5:30 laying on dew with a bunch of other women and someone who thinks I want to do push ups, arm curls, and maybe run. I put it in the back of my head and kept searching for something that was less dramatic and that happened at a normal time of day.

fond memories of a smoky the bear hat
Finally, I admitted to myself that I need supervision. When it comes to exercise I’ve found that I’m like a freshman in college who came from a strict home. Unless, some outside force is pushing/pulling me to get up and go to class I'm going to miss a few too many and party a bit too much.

Since the only time I’ve been fit for any period of time involved a drill sargent and the hated running. (Which at that time made sense because running in formation is like being chased.) I decided that Women's Fitness Boot Camp was worth a try. I looked back at the site and finally signed up for the month long session. They had started a 6 pm class for the non-morning crowd so my decision was a bit easier. So there you have it. I'm signed up and I'm going for 2 months!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A return to personal blogging

Once again I'm starting fresh. If I can't do anything else I can be persistent. Eventually, it'll work for me and I'll have the body and the life I want.

Since the last post I've been working a lot - both for others for pay and on myself. I started following the Simple-o-logy program (more about that later). I also started just really paying attention to what was working, what was not working, and how I knew which was which.

Body issues = health issues

I've primarily been working to figure out what's been making me so tired and sick. I'm closer to knowing after ...
(1) a sleep study,
(2) lots of iron pills for anemia,
(3) a trip to the gynecologist for a look at my fibroids,
(4) having my ears flushed,
(5) multiple trips to my GP doc,
(6) lots of paying attention to how I feel after eating and drinking different foods. Being gluten free is a full-time job.
(7) creating for and showing art in a one-woman show,
(8) doing some soul-searching about life in general.

For reasons I don't fully remember now, I stopped writing morning pages a long while ago. In a lot of ways I miss doing them. Yet, I do remember some of the reasons I haven't yet restarted them. So I'll do something similar here in public.

Why make a long story short when blogging about the parts will help solve the mystery? No need at all so that's what I'm going to do while I finish working through this change of life. I'm reverting to good old fashioned, long-winded, rambling, diary-like blogging. Join me.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pilates, yes? no? maybe.

I went to a pilates class on Tuesday. A Tickle quiz had once said that pilates was the perfect exercise for me. This class was sponsored by the local health department. It's within 1 mile of my home. It's FREE!! It was relaxing. I'd need to do some aerobics at some point. Maybe I could walk to class and walk back? I'll hold that thought.

I'm as critical about other people's bodies as I am about my own. That causes issues. I feel guilty because I have this thing about exercise instructors. I want them to LOOK like the exercise is working for them. I want them to be lean and healthy looking. I think that's part of the reason I never purchased a Richard Simmons tape. After all that sweating would I really still want to be pudgy? Anyway, the class is at the right time, it's in a good place, it has low attendance, it's FREE!!, it was slow and relaxing to the point that I could count it as my meditation time. So will I add it to my regular Tuesday schedule?

I'll go this next week and in the mean time read some more about what I'm supposed to get out of it. I'll also check back at the book store. The last time I was there I saw an inexpensive (on clearance) pilates kit. Why don't I just work out at home? What is the source of my resistance?? Am I alone in my apparent laziness? Am I waiting for my body to reach an unbelievable weight? I should spend some time with these questions.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Summer Weight Loss Dreams

Today I finally spent 20 minutes playing on the bowflex in an attempt to get back on track with my summer weight loss exercising. All week I'd been planning to restart the Monday, Wednesday, Friday bowflex schedule AND do some sort of aerobic exercise on the other days. My good intentions were worthless.

I realized while journaling that my dreams for summer weight loss all involve me doing things I don't usually do. That's a prescription for failure. Why would an intelligent MultiPurposeWoman, like myself, set herself up to fail? That's a question worth exploring.

Super Woman Syndrome

The quick answer to, “Why do intelligent women set themselves up for failure?” is Super Woman Syndrome. The features of this pervasive and happiness-sapping syndrome include, I-can-do-anything-itis, Just-Do-It-oma, and Ms-Celebrity-did-it-osis. The cause of this all is unrealistic expectations.


You know you have I-can-do-anything-itis when you hear about some wonderful new diet or other life enhancement and immediately add it to your already overflowing “to do” list. Another sign is that you seldom, if ever, look at all your commitments. A third sign is that you seldom say, “No.” People ask you to do something and you add it to that list.

The cure for I-can-do-anything-itis? Remember and repeat as needed the inspirational quote, “I can do anything. I just can't do everything.”


You know you have Just-Do-It-oma when you frequently upbraid yourself for not having “just ” finished everything on your plate”. You give yourself a hard time for only having 16 conscious hours in a day. You go to bed after a full and productive day and worry that you didn't do enough. You feel bad if you didn't accomplish something every waking moment.

The cure for Just-Do-It-oma? Just give yourself a break. Literally, stop, drop down into a comfortable seat (or bed), and do nothing for 15 minutes at least once a day. After your break (if you still feel the need to justify your existence) make a quick list of what you have completed so far for the day. To be fair you have to list everything that took up time.


You know you suffer from this abnormal condition when you compare your progress to that of some celebrity or other person whose situation is different from yours. Can you wake up one morning and pledge to start a gluten-free, vegan, no alcohol, no caffeine diet? Sure you can. Can you stick to that diet for 21 days? Most likely not unless you have a lot of support and you took time to prep for the lifestyle change.

The cure for Ms-Celebrity-did-it-osis? Time and planning. If some celebrity touts some fabulous sounding get-some-part-of-your-life-together plan and you really think it'll revolutionize your life for the better then slow down and plan to slowly incorporate it into your life.

A multiPurposeWoman experiment – Can I follow my own advice?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Need a wake up call? Calculate your body fat

Since Sunday, 23 March I've been weighing myself on my Tanita body fat monitor and scale. Why? Because I need a constant reminder that I have to do more to get to my ideal weight. What is my ideal weight? I have no idea. The charts and the general proclamations don't convince me. So I figure I'll know my ideal weight when I see it.

Another reason I use the body fat monitor and scale is I want/need to know as soon a possible that what I'm doing is working. Yes, I'm impatient AND I need/want immediate gratification and feedback.

Anyway, today my readings were interesting.
(1) despite making a very conscious effort to eat less for the past week and a half, I weight more than ever - 172.2
(2) my fat % is 38.0 - the lowest it's been since I started the daily weigh-in
(3) my hydration % is 43.9 - the highest since the beginning of tracking
(4) my muscle % is 101.2 - the highest

This leads me to believe that something I was doing is working. I'd better restart my bowflex and other workout activities.

I stopped for two reasons. #1 I went out of town and my already shaky habit was disrupted and #2 I was bored and unmotivated partly due to not seeing any improvement. Which is one of the reasons stated for not weighing daily.

I like the daily routine of weighing so I'll keep it up. I'll just adjust my thinking to account for the lag time between doing and seeing results. So if you need a little push get a Tanita body fat monitor and scale and calculate your body fat. I'm looking forward to watching my body fat go down as my muscle % increases. Be happier now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Search for Food High in Iron

It's been a week since I exercised with the bowflex. How did that happen? I exercised last Wednesday and planned to work out at the hotel where I knew I'd be on Friday morning. Didn't work. Yesterday was the other scheduled bowflex day and there was really no excuse. I watched the time go by.

I have been in search of fiber and iron. I really need food high in iron right now. I'm back on the iron pills. The doctor told me it takes 3 months of the supplements to get right. The last time I only took them for a month, felt better, stopped. I didn't know about the 3 month rule then.

Anyway, in an attempt to eat fewer calories and get some fiber, which is another thing I feel I need, I made and have been eating my gluten free granola as a meal replacement of sorts.

I made a new batch since the one listed in last Wednesday's post. This second batch has more fiber due to the pumpkin and flax seeds I used in place of the sesame seeds. I also got it together to run the nutritional analysis (on both versions). I did this primarily because I'm super bloated and finally figured out I may now be getting too much fiber.

Per the analysis it seems like I may be borderline. 21 grams daily is the recommended allowance for women. The gluten-free granola has 4 grams per 1/2 cup and the almond milk has 1 so that 5 grams every time I have a bowl and I've been eating 4 bowls a day and not much else.

Plus I realized I haven't been getting all my water in so I'm going to fix that starting today. I saw a cup at Target that's a hydration meter. I almost brought it. I'm sure I will soon. The gluten-free granola doesn't make it unto the food high in iron list. No worries I've restarted drinking lemon juice with blackstrap molasses first thing in the morning.

Question of the Day: Do I have the energy to head to the basement and deal with the bowflex?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

gluten free maple-walnut granola and exercise

I exercised first thing. Warmed up by walking fast (2.9 mph) on treadmill while listening to the Greatest Hits of Run DMC for 15 minutes. Then did the bowflex workout. Here's my default breakfast and snack. I have it with almond milk since dairy isn't my friend.I make it gluten free by using gluten free oats.)Also, I've yet to find currants so I usually add 2x the cranberries or use another dried fruit AND I change the seeds from time to time: pumpkin, flax, whatever's on hand or sounds good while I'm at the store.

This mix can be expensive - it's worth it taste wise and energy wise - it's nutrient rich and the 1/2 cup serving keeps me energized for hours. The expense comes in with the maple syrup - not that corn stuff that flavored - real maple syrup. The recipe software I'm using estimated the cost at $33 for two batches.

Maple-Walnut Granola
Makes 7 servings
perfect breakfast and snack for type A blood
source: "Eat Right for Your Type" page 127

4 cups Gluten Free Bob's Red Mill Rolled Oats
1 cup Ener G pure Rice Bran
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried currants
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons organic canola oil
3/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, rice bran, seeds, dried fruit, nuts, and vanilla.
Add the oil and stir evenly.

Pour in maple syrup and mix well until mixture is evenly moistened.
Mixture should be crumbly and sticky.
Spread mixture on a lightly oiled cookie tray and bake for 90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes for even toasting until the mixture is golden brown and dry.
Cool thoroughly and store in airtight container.