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Progress Report

August 30, 2013

This is going to be a post about my efforts to get into shape. Not the usual fare for this blog (although of late, one might argue that any posting at all is not the usual fare for this blog…), so feel free to skip. Mostly this is for me, because I want to keep track of what I’m doing somewhere. We will return to our irregularly scheduled blogging shortly.

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It’s a month into my Weight Loss program. As of this morning, I’ve lost 10 pounds, which I have to say, I’m feeling pretty good about, even though I still have a long way to go. And really, I haven’t found it painful at all, although it’s definitely been hard work. I’ve made some pretty significant changes in habit, but I’ve mostly found that I enjoy them. Here are some of the things that are working for me.

* Work out every weekday morning before work for at least 15 minutes. There’s a book out there about writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day and also a program for cleaning your house that talks about working for 15 minutes a day. Both subscribe to the same belief — anyone can do anything for 15 minutes. It’s not much time. But the fact is that once you get started, you’ll usually stay longer. And I do. Moreover, I actually enjoy it and have even become a little compulsive about it. Julia said it would happen and I didn’t believe her. My morning run clears my head, gives me some rare alone time, improves my energy level and mood for the entire day.

* Protein for breakfast. This is something I’ve done before, but this is the first time I’ve realized how even a small amount of protein (usually a hard boiled egg or a single slice of turkey) makes me eat less for the entire day.

* 10,000 steps a day. I mentioned this a couple of posts ago, so I won’t go into detail, but I like how the FitBit has given me more awareness of what I do each day.

* When looking for something to do, pick something active. I live in a fourth floor walk up. I have to climb 60 stairs to get to my apartment from the street. I realized at some point that where in my last house I would have gone out to the garden or for a walk down to the pond, I tended to stay put. I’ve stopped doing that and I usually try to get outside after dinner (at least for now when it’s light out — in the winter we’ll probably go to the Y). Added bonus, Andy will often join me. We’ve been playing a lot of Frisbee after dinner. We both suck at it and laugh a lot and also get some exercise.

* When feeling like a snack, pick up an instrument. I’ve found my dangerous part of the day for comfort eating is after dinner. When I feel like I might need to eat something, I’m trying to pick up a guitar or a mandolin or a fiddle first. If I’m still hungry after I play for a bit, I’ll have a snack. But 9 times out of 10, I’m really just looking for something to do.

* Bring lunch to work every day. I was not doing this, but it’s turned out not to be that hard to throw together a lunch in the morning or the night before now that Andy’s making his own. Saves money as well as calories.

* Weight Watchers. I was skeptical for a long time about weight loss programs that require talking to people. But because my workplace is sponsoring and because the rest of the people in the meeting are introverted overthinkers like me, it’s been helpful. And I’m finding I look forward to my weekly weigh-in. It keeps me honest. I’m still struggling with writing down what I eat every day — it’s a key part of the Weight Watchers program — but I’m working on it.

* Give yourself a weekend. I discovered early that it’s much easier for me to control what I eat when I’m at the office and I’m busy and away from my refrigerator. So I’m making that work for me. I follow a much stricter diet during the week, but save my extra points for the weekend so I can socialize or have a glass of wine with dinner. I’m finding that while I look forward to treats on the weekend, I’m motivated enough by improvements during the week that I’m not tempted to overdo it. I also tend to eat more of my daily points in the evening — often before dinner I’ve eaten no more than 4 points. In part it’s because evening’s when I can cook my own food. It’s just easier than trying to have a bigger lunch. For lunch I usually fill a tupperware container with baby spinach and top it with a bunch of fruit.

Things I’m working on now:

* Have healthy snacks. One of the things Weight Watchers preaches is don’t quit snacking. My go to foods are baby carrots, grapes and, when I need some salt, toasted seaweed. But I don’t always seem to have them when I need them. I’m also finding sugarless gum helpful against stress eating. I’m generally trying to avoid “diet” foods (fake sweeteners, etc.), but it’s been stressful at work and sometimes chewing something helps.

* Tracking what I eat (see Weight Watchers above).

* Increasing the intensity of my workout. I’m trying to get up the nerve to try the boot camp I walk by on my way to my running route. It looks like fun and not everyone is 20 and skinny (can be hard to find in an exercise class in NYC). They apparently work out in the park year round and they use the playground equipment. Hoping to start after my next business trip in a week and a half. Trying to avoid injuring myself too badly before public speaking.

So that’s the report. I’ve officially met my first goal. What about you, have you got any tips for getting or staying in shape?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2013 9:47 am

    Brava – I’m doing most of the same sorts of things (why aren’t we Fitbit buddies, by the way?). This week has been a bit of a bust on the 10K steps front, but my new job/commute does involve more walking, which helps.

    I’m down about 9 pounds, over a period of about a month. So, yay me? I think I have much farther to go than you do, though!

  2. August 30, 2013 11:28 am

    For tracking your calories consumed as well as expended via workouts, I can’t recommend myfitnesspal.com enough. It has been a real help to me in taking and keeping off the weight I lost since July a year ago. It saves having to write things down, and there’s even an app for your phone that’ll let you record your consumptions when you’re not at your computer. My daughter has lost over 50 lbs. using myfitnesspal.com as her guide. It’s free!

  3. Bloomingmom permalink
    August 30, 2013 12:56 pm

    No tips. I should be doing all of what you’re doing (though I don’t live in a 4th floor walkup, we do weirdly have four levels in our house – it is about 60 steps from our garage to our attic). I tried Weight Watchers again this summer and should continue but the local meeting is just not my tribe, and I hate hate hate tracking what I eat. On the other hand I think I may have regained what I lost earlier this summer. Maybe I need to rethink what technology I’m using for that beyond pen and paper (time to buy a FitBit?). A new grocery store just opened in our neighborhood, so I need to get my bicycle fixed, and I am trying to walk to work despite the 90 degree heat – need to leave in a few minutes to do just that!

  4. August 30, 2013 2:41 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of great things about myfitnesspal from several corners. Right now I’m using Weight Watchers for that, because work is paying for the program and it’s pretty easy. But I will definitely consider that when I’m done!

  5. August 30, 2013 2:43 pm

    Jill, we should be! I haven’t hooked it up with VisageTome, so I need your email address to add you. DM me on FB and I’ll add you. And go, you! I have a lot left to lose too, so we can keep each other company!

  6. August 30, 2013 5:11 pm

    I think you know what all I’m doing:

    –Exercise six days a week (3 strength, 3 running)
    –Counting calories (and for me, I have a minimum I must eat to go with my max – that keeps me honest)
    –My FitBit Flex
    –And I always pack my lunch. We make them on the weekends. I have a tasty pasta salad that’s full of flavor and keeps well. If something like that appeals to you, let me know and I’ll share the recipe.

    I do have a sweet tooth so I like to have a Dove dark chocolate miniature bar as a dessert when I have room in the calorie budget. And I do budget for alcohol. Tonight’s not a drinking night (run day tomorrow), but tomorrow night will be.

  7. September 16, 2013 8:54 am

    I read this on my phone when you posted it and meant to come back later. This is later, I guess? I’m so impressed that you’ve already gotten past the “this is terrible” stage of running. When I started running again after Harper it took me most of a summer to enjoy it again. And good for you on the generally healthy lifestyle while under stress!

  8. September 19, 2013 7:26 pm

    Oh, it’s still terrible in many respects, but it lets me do things that I do love and that I don’t get to do nearly enough here — be outside and be by myself. And the effect on my mood is really kind of amazing. I’m much less crabby. So even if it’s terrible, I think I owe it to the people who have to share these 740 square feet with me.

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