The slide…

My last post was so, so smug. Look at me, all happy in the achievements of my goals and not having to worry about them any more…Since then (over a month ago) I believe I have started what is referred to as ‘the slide’. It is the one you begin innocently enough, maybe eating something you haven’t had for a while  (*cough, Nutella)… and end up in a few years time right back where you started, only this time with pictures of yourself which show your descent into madness. No I haven’t put on weight (have been the same for ages now…that 3 kgs I thought would melt away by reverse psychology of ‘not wanting to lose more weight’ hasn’t eventuated..), but I HAVE ditched many of the healthy food habits I had been gently introducing and started some dangerous eating behaviour.

1. Doubled Up Afternoon Snacks.

Yes, it’s a good idea to have a snack between lunch and dinner to avoid starvation and blow-out at dinner time. But is it a good idea to have two afternoon snacks? One consisting of nice healthy cup of tea and trail bar or piece of fruit and low-fat yogurt – and then another, only an hour or so later, consisting of bread (wholemeal, but no doesn’t make up for it) smothered in something delicious (*cough, Nutellla). Or raisin toast with butter. Or a milo and tablespoon of peanut butter. These are ‘not really hungry’ snacks which are so, incredibly pointless and calorie dense. But I can’t seem to help myself! Even as I stand there waiting for my toast I am thinking ‘this is a mistake, I don’t need this. I won’t be hungry for dinner if I eat this. What am I doing? Stop it, stop it, stop – oh well toast has popped…’.

First step: Identify the problem.

  • Boredom
  • Opportunity
  • Not having a big enough lunch
  • Not having a big enough first snack

Second Step: Plan of attack

I think a large part of the problem is boredom and opportunity. Opportunity as in: we stock Nutella in our pantry. BIG MISTAKE! When hubby came home with a jar and a smile on his face I  was like “what?! why did you buy that and now lets eat some out of the jar with a spoon”. Since I can’t convince him to stop buying it, I need to start a blanket ban, just like hot chips (yep, 10 months and counting without). NO MORE NUTELLA!!! I REFUSE TO EAT YOUR HAZLENUT GOODNESS. No Nutella November I’m calling it (nice ring to it?). OK, that’s done. Next. Plan activities IMMEDIATELY after work. This seems to work for me on days I actually do it, I plan a gym session, run, MTB ride or similar straight after work so there is no hanging around thinking, hmmm guess I’ll read my book and have a snack’. Nope, no more. Finally: Don’t skip healthy afternoon tea. Make sure I have at least a piece of fruit before I leave work for the day.

2. Grazing and Snacking After Dinner

I am going to lay the blame once again at Nutellas door. But biscuits and dip have just as much to answer for. This is again boredom eating I believe and possibly also a result of poor meal planning for dinner. I have let my ‘five serves of veggies’ habit well and truly lapse and my lunches and dinners have suffered for it, meaning I am less satisfied after meals. For shame!

First Step: Identify the Problem

  • Boredom
  • Less satisfying dinners
  • Habit and expectation

Second Step: Plan of Attack

Blanket ban on after dinner snacks. If I MUST have something, I can have a tea, or piece of fruit. Also, ramp up the veggies woman! They take a long time to eat, have so many nutrients just waiting to make me feel a million bucks and can be super tasty.

3. Last-Minute Lunches

I have been…lazy lately. No other word for it really. But I also partly blame my husbands shift work for often disrupting our routines which mean grocery shopping and the start of the work week are often out of sync.  Nevertheless I have had a subway meatball sub TWICE in one week as well as a chicken schnitzel burger. My other lunch was a microwave meal and a take-away chicken sandwich on WHITE bread. The horror. Sounds really bad when I put it all together like that. Back to organisation stations!

First Step: Identify the problem

  • Lack of organisation
  • Laziness
  • Mecca of take-away food in near vicinity of workplace
  • Lack of lunch ideas

Second Step: Plan of attack

Get organised! No matter what is on, I should be able to spare and hour for grocery shopping at SOME POINT on the weekend. Just pick something healthy and make it. Also, start going to the farmers markets again! Much nicer way to shop plus locally grown. This week I am having wholemeal wraps with boiled eggs, mayo and lettuce with carrot sticks OR left-overs, apricot and almond muesli bar and fruit. Breakfast will be porridge with strawberries and dinners have been planned out including a veggie rich spaghetti bol. TICK.

Other things out of control:

  • Portion sizes
  • Cheese control (amount of cheese added to meal)
  • Soft drink in take (yes its Coke Zero, no its not a better choice than water)
  • Eating out
  • Chocolate consumption
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Wine and cider consumption (I LOVE pear cider)
  • Eating what my husband eats (i.e. ice-creams and chips…)

Yep. Should really  nip those in the bud ASAP.

My exercise regime has been intense lately and I have really stepped my fitness up a notch by discovering a high intensity sport I LOVE to do (more on that soon) and think it is the only reason I haven’t started stacking it on. So get your s$#@t together self and work out what is important. Nutrition is definitely on the important list so: MAKE. IT. HAPPEN. Right after this magnum ego…

Advertisements

Success is a Dish Best Served Cold

The premise of this blog is basically accidental weight-loss. I focus on filling my body with healthy, nutritious food while doing things I enjoy like running, snowboarding and mountain biking. I used to tell myself that actually weight-loss is just the plus-side to living a healthy mindful life. But lets face it, if I was naturally skinny…I wouldn’t run. One of the reasons I enjoy running is that I know how good it is for weight loss. I think I still think of myself as overweight. That people look at me and see who I’ve seen for over 10 years – overweight Jess.

But that isn’t me anymore. My BMI puts me in the ‘normal’ range. In fact, someone added a photo of me on facebook recently and I was amazed at how…healthy I look. Facebook acts as a bit of a timeline really and highlights how important it is to think long term.

timeline

I used to take my measurements weekly, but that fell by the wayside when I stopped thinking about it. Actually I weighed myself for the first time in awhile this week because I thought I had been eating relatively irresponsibly and was pleasantly surprised to see that, since starting this blog in May I have lost 4 kg and am comfortably below 70 kg, very close to my lowest weight last year when I was on wedding lock down,

I actually don’t really want to lose any more weight. Here is my theory: it is better to be at the higher end of average with a comfortable buffer between you and being overweight than the lower end and definitely not underweight. My reason being, well, its a little nuts but….if an an apocalypse came, I have a better chance of surviving. It also applys to getting some sort of serious illness, having a bit more meat on my bones might help me. Its like the best of both worlds, less chance of diet related long term illnesses…and a fighting chance in a ‘day of the triffyd’ situation.

I think I feel better about my weight and health now than I did last year because now, it feels real. I feel like I have actually walked the walk and its not just a passing phase. Now I can focus on things I love to do. For example, ride my brand new Specialized Camber Comp 29er  (it arrived today). I feel like a kid at Christmas, it is sleeping in the lounge room tonight because I loves it sooo much.

My new baby

My new baby

Playing around in the driveway

Playing around in the driveway

Chumbawamba Style

I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down. Worthy words to live by sung by a british pop/punk band in a pub rock anthem about binge drinking. Classic.

This week I have had a few little bumps which have knocked me down somewhat. It’s funny how you can go from feeling completely in control and smug about how great you’ve been health wise, to feeling like all your good work has been completely wiped away. The trick is, to know that it is OK to fall off the health wagon momentarily – as long as we jump right on back.

Social Eating

Sometimes, there is just no getting around it. We are social animals and in social situations sometimes it is not acceptable to refuse food or to suggest an alternative. And why should we? This weekend was FULL of social eating for me, here is a taste (pun-tastic) of my decisions/experiences:

  1. Date night! A lovely night out with my husband at a local, small, intimate Spanish Restaurant near our house. We had some amazing tapas and delicious red wine. When we rang up for a booking at the last-minute we were told we had to wait an hour and a half. No problem we sez, and did an hour-long workout together at home (p90x shoulders, biceps and triceps) before heading over, biceps flexed.
  2. Movies with my sister for a girly afternoon. We had popcorn and choc-tops…but we also had a salad from Grill’d for lunch instead of a burger.
  3. Dinner for a friend’s birthday to a Teppanyaki restaurant. So fun! Also SO full of salt and oil…so instead of drinking wine I had soda water with lime to reduce calories.
  4. Out to dinner for a family birthday. Shall we share a bottle of wine? Sounds go to me! I’ll order the fish and veggie option for dinner. Deal.
  5. Finally, the baby shower. Cake, mini-sandwiches, quiches and more sugar than you can poke a stick at. Did I eat the cupcakes? Yup, and how! When I got home I went for a 60 minute jog.

Lots of losses there but the small wins I had made me feel like that I was still in some sort of control and that I hadn’t completely fallen off the wagon.

Rain

Winter has started with full intention this year. Cold. Wet. Windy. Not the ideal ingredients for getting out and exercising! My alarm went off to walk my dog on Friday morning and I just couldn’t drag my self out of bed into the cold rain in the dark. Even Melvin couldn’t have been less interested, curled up in a little ball under the bed – he barely cracked an eyelid when my alarm went off and I checked out the window to see if it was just windy or windy AND rainy. But I got into work and my boss HAD gotten up and walked her dog. Hmmm, maybe I need to take a teaspoon of cement and harden up? Or maybe I should just tell myself she is crazy…What am I afraid of? Getting wet? Cold? Odds are it will be raining tomorrow morning. Can I do it? Or, more importantly, should I do it? To get my 70 minutes of exercising in a day…. YES, I should. I guess I’ll break out my wet weather gear :/

Its been a biiiig weekend and I will have to work extra hard this week to get my health goals back in line (I did not drink anywhere near enough water this week OR make my veggie OR exercise quota. Tut tut.). But City 2 Surf training started today and I went for a lovely long run in the extremely chilly winter air. It was invigorating! I think I’ve reached a running fitness level where my lungs don’t hold me back anymore, I’m more likely to stop because of knee or ankle pain and blisters than struggling to breathe. It’s a good feeling 🙂

An unhealthy obsession with health?

Nah. Although I do find that I get sick of thinking about if I’ve met my health goals for the day (have I had enough of x and too much of y?), or mulling over if eating that chocolate will really have any negative impact on my overall health and well-being.

My aim is for healthy living to become second nature, and I am hoping that by gradually adding healthy habits to my life they will become a part of who I am without constant need for thinking about it.

Recently, my husband has started night shifts and is developing some unhealthy eating habits involving binge eating – which I totally understand because shift work is so, so hard on your body. He did the shopping and, along with our usual haul, bought WHITE BREAD, CHIPS (Salt and Vinegar god help me), CREAM BISCUITS, CHOCOLATE and SUGARY JUICE.

I was completely horrified and my reaction/resulting lecture to my poor, tired husband made me realise that, actually, I have developed some healthy habits which are now second nature and, when faced with alternatives, I can make the right decision (or use my super-hero power of ‘iron will’ to resist what I know to be poor choices).

Your sugary goodness doesn’t tempt ME

Healthy habits I have already established:

SECOND NATURE

  • 2 pieces of fruit every day (too easy, I love fruit)
  • Eat wholemeal bread. White bread now seems like a junk food to me!
  • Drink low-fat milk and eat fat reduced version of other dairy (yoghurt, cheese etc) EXCEPT I indulge in a full fat slice of cheese sometimes at lunch (portion size controlled, more protein so keeps me full for longer. Plus its damn delicious) and think eating parmesan is pointless if its fat-reduced.
  • Don’t add sugar to tea
  • Only drink juice if it has no added sugar and dilute with water
  • 2 alcohol free nights a week. Actually I don’t drink much, most weeks I won’t have any alcohol although I will have a beer or glass of wine (sometimes a couple) maybe once or twice a month.
  • Check labels before buying a new product to determine overall impact on health
  • Exercise regularly and Include both weight training and cardio

A BIT MORE THOUGHT INVOLVED

  • Order salad or veggies and fish when eating out.
  • Avoid McDonalds, KFC or Hungry Jacks like the plague (1.5 years so far without)

WORKING ON IT

  • Avoid hot chips (5 months in…)
  • Eat 5 serves of vegetables a day
  • Exercise 70 minutes a day

NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN

  • Stop eating chocolate

 

I have a whole list of planned weekly health goals for the coming months but I think I need a consolidation week! I don’t want to push ahead too far and slack off on previous goals.

NUTRITION

I’m getting sick of eating carrots at lunch and need to spice things up a bit to keep some momentum forming my 5 serves a day habit. My plan of attack for this week is to make an eggplant sambal curry which gives 4 ½ serves of veggies in ONE GO for lunches this week (thank you Healthy Food Guide). I’m also going to work on some different veggie recipes. Having them steamed or raw will only keep me interested for so long! I visited the local farmers markets this morning and bought up a bunch of fresh, local, delicious looking veggies…I’ll figure out what to do with them later.

farmers market fun

Vegorama!

Vegorama!

EXERCISE

Last week I set the target of 70 minutes a day of exercise. I probably should have made it ON AVERAGE because I needed a rest day! So in a way I didn’t reach my goals…but in another way, if I do a bit of sneaky math, I did 😉 I actually did almost 80 minutes on average every day. I did up a little spread sheet (I heart excel, lol) to show my exercise week. I’ve colour coded it to show moderate (yellow), medium (orange) and high (red) intensity workouts. Yeah, I went there.

workout calendar may

It’s good to know I can have a day off and still meet my exercise goals. Looking forward to a week of consolidation and figuring out what the hell I’m going to do with all those veggies…

Am I losing weight…or just my mind?

If I told you to stop thinking about chocolate, could you do it?

Personally, if I think about cutting myself off from chocolate cold turkey it becomes ALL I can THINK about. In fact I’m a step away from racing out the door to pick up a sneaky Kit-Kat.

Weight loss in particular and changing habits in general is, I feel, as much of a mental game as running.  80% mental effort, 20% physical (or some split of the sort).

I have a couple of tricks I picked up last year (probably not originally my idea but picked up from Women’s Health or similar) which help me flex that will-power muscle. It doesn’t always work but even 3 or 4 times out of ten ain’t bad.

1. I imagine how sick I would feel after eating something unhealthy

Ever had a sickening sugar high? Or a queasy stomach after a greasy bucket of KFC or Big Mac? Massive need to drink buckets of water after eating pizza? I know I have, and thinking about how crap I would feel PHYSICALLY helps my willpower overcome my craving. This is particularly helpful for my hot chip ban, I think about that gross oily coating I get in my mouth after eating too many hot chips. Blerk.

2. It’s not that I CAN’T have it, it’s that I don’t WANT it

This one is classic. I think it’s probably why I failed at Weight Watchers. Knowing I couldn’t have something because I had exceeded my points balance for the day already meant I really REALLY wanted it. Thinking that actually I can eat whatever I like, whenever I like perversely makes me think about it a lot less. For example I went last week without chocolate and I didn’t even notice (this is highly abnormal for me). I indulged in a row of dairy milk after I realised but felt no need to eat any more. Win.

This may seem counter to my hot chip ban but I find focusing on banning just one thing makes it a challenge rather than a deprivation.

3. I don’t weigh myself every day

I have read that weighing yourself every day can be helpful and keep you motivated, but I don’t find that works for me. What I did last year, and am starting again, is weighing myself monthly. Weight loss for me is a long-term goal and is secondary to my aims for better health. In any case fitness goals are much more short-term and just as easily measured and compared, i.e. lift slightly more weight, run or ride just a little faster or longer. I take my measurements weekly to make sure I’m still on track (waist, stomach and hips), but I avoid those scales like the plague.

On a side note I may actually be losing my mind.

After my spin class today I went to get the disinfectant to wipe my bike over for the next person (gym etiquette 101) and…couldn’t remember which bike I’d been on. It wasn’t until I was walking out the door I realised I had wiped down the wrong bike…not five minutes later I walked out to the car park and couldn’t remember where I parked. I literally walked around for 5 minutes before realising I was on the wrong level.

Yep, I’ve lost it big time. I thought working out was supposed to improve mental clarity?!

Losing the weight is only the beginning

I have been overweight my whole adult life until last year.

Not obese, but with a BMI of 29.1 I was pretty close. I was an Australian size 14, verging on 16, at the best of times. I excercised, bike riding, running short spurts, walking my dog, occasional gym sessions, and I thought I ate relatively healthy meals. I tried weight watchers several times with different degrees of success. But I always returned to 80+ kilos.

I wasn’t like other overweight people, in my mind. I didn’t look that bad and was maybe a few kilos from being a good weight. My mum has since said she thought I carried the weight well, so it wasn’t immediately obvious how overweight I was.

My ‘moment’ of realising I had a problem was after looking at photos of me trying on wedding dresses. We took the photos to remember the dresses I tried on that day (as there were a LOT). In the shops I thought trying on the dresses was great fun and enjoyed it. But when I looked at the pictures we took I felt….sad. I looked overweight, like the scales had always told me I was.

I decided my New Years resolution would be to lose 10 kgs for the wedding (and cut McDonalds completely out of my life). Thats all, 10 kg. I lost 7 kg in the first month and kept up the momentum all year until, by August, I was 67 kg and officially in the healthy weight range. I didn’t try any paticular diet, I focused instead on fitness and reducing binge eating and portion sizes. I signed up to a 5km fun run, which progressed to an 8km, to 12km and finally I completed the City2Surf (14 km fun run around Sydney including the aptly named ‘Heartbreak Hill’) in 2012 in 93 minutes. I couldn’t believe how into running I was, my Facebook friends were sick of my run anecdotes and updates and I became…well a little obsessed I suppose but in a good way! My new found fitness was good for everything, including snowboarding which I have always enjoyed but had never had much stamina for previously. Clothes looked great on me and instead of people telling me a dress or shirt was ‘flattering’ I was told how well I looked and how I had such a lovely small waist (I’m a pear shape).

When I first tried on my wedding dress in August it was…way too big ( I had ordered it in January). In fact it had to be taken in 2 sizes. When I tried it on and it fit for the first time I was euphoric. I felt amazing and loved my new figure.

Now and Then
Now and Then

I love looking at my wedding photos and feel absolutely no regret for anything of the day, from the flowers to my dress. I know I will always look back on them and feel the achievment of my weight loss as well as remembering the happiest day of my life.

No regrets
No regrets

That was in November 2012.

We then went on a European Honeymoon where we ate pasta, pizza, schnitzels and drank beer, wine, schnappes and had a fantastic three weeks in Italy and Austria. No regrets there either, I would do it all over again in a heart beat!

But I put on 4 kgs in three weeks.

Since January 2013, to now, May 2013 – I have not lost it, despite maintaining my fitness and love of running (although I have cut back on distances, 10 km being my max since 2012). In fact in April I put on 1 kg. And it terrified me. Now, more important than losing weight for a wedding, I would like to know I can maintain a healthy weight and live a healthy life.

My New Years resolution this year? Health and well-being. I don’t want to think too much about weight loss, I want to focus on health and nutrition and just enjoying the things I love! I will start training in earnest for City2Surf in June and we have big plans for this snow season, not to mention the mountain bike I currently covet.

It starts now. And its permanent.