Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shock Value

Sometimes a little shock is good for the soul.  Yes, a shocking thing can scare the bejeezus out of us, but it can also make us see the truth and face reality. Straighten up and fly right.

That's sort of what happened to me when I was looking through those photos I keep mentioning,  It was shocking to see where I was, where I am and where I could be.  As I'm not a person who has always been heavy, I have picture proof of what my body is capable of.

While I don't want to shock you, I am ready to let it all hang out and be honest about some things.  So, today I invite you to meet me here, at Girl Heroes.  I'll be waiting there in living color at my heaviest, the lightest I've been since my thyroid diagnosis and in between, which is where I am right now.  As a bonus, you might learn something about me too.

While you're over there take a look around.  Jenn has a great website with lots of good information.  She's doing a really nice thing sharing about people like us who are in it to win it.  Maybe something besides my pictures will shock you into facing your own reality.

Comments are closed today but I hope you'll post a comment over on Jenn's site. Give her the support she deserves!

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Ecclesiastes 1:9

“There’s nothing new under the sun.” Mama Helen used to say that to me all the time when I was growing up. That and “what goes around, comes around.” It wasn’t until I got older that I realized the saying was part of a Bible verse. It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized it was true – whether it came from the Bible or from my mom, it was true.

I distinctly remember when 1970’s platform shoes and fashion came back into fashion. It was when Little Helen was in high school so it really felt like déjà vu all over again! Made me wish I’d saved some of the stuff I had back in the day. But I digress.

Lately as I’ve been up, down, and all around with lack of progress on the weight loss front, I’ve been doing some serious soul searching. As I said before, while I have come leaps and bounds in loving me for who I am and not what I weigh, I still want to weigh less.

This deep thinking was brought on by looking though old photos of myself and realizing that I have been extremely hard on myself for most of my life and that 25 pounds ago, I looked pretty damn good. That realization is what led me to say in last Friday’s post that if when I get back there, I am going to worship MYSELF. I don’t mean that in a blasphemous way, I mean that I’ve learned not loving myself hasn’t gotten me anywhere but back into size 12 jeans.

Looking at those photos got me to thinking about what I did, both pre-thyroid, and the one period of time post thyroid in 2007-08 where I had some success. It’s said that if you want to be successful, you should repeat patterns where you had previously been successful. As I looked at these photos I realized that ‘my’ past success was not in strict dieting or calorie counting, it was in eating real food in smaller portions.

Strict dieting is the crazy land where my head wants to go hoping for a quick fix. I’m not a binger per se, nor do I have issues with any foods – other than the issue that I dislike liver and lima beans - but the fastest way for me to overeat is to constantly deny myself. So in looking for that middle road, I realized that in my past successes, I didn’t go for a quick fix. I simply knew I needed to reduce in order to reduce.

For me it’s quite simple. Eat whatever I want, but in smaller portions. What I’ve come up with is to set up some rough guidelines on how much protein, starches, fats, fruits, vegetables, dairy and extras I really need in a day. I have no idea how many calories I’m eating at all. It’s a thinking pattern that makes me look at food and think, “eat less.” For example, I ‘want’ 2 scoops of ice cream. But I also want to lose some weight. Therefore, I will have 1 scoop of ice cream today. It also makes me evaluate my overall eating pattern. If I eat a couple of eggs for breakfast and a 4 oz. chicken breast for lunch, I do not need to eat a 16 oz. porterhouse for dinner. If I really want the porterhouse, then I have a little.

I’m going on my third week of eating like this and dare I say that I felt a looseness in some slacks that 3 weeks ago were uncomfortably tight? I will admit to you that I was pretty hungry for about 4 days. This only makes sense. After all, I had been eating more even while calorie counting. That hunger has subsided now and I’m experiencing what I call ‘normal’ hunger, i.e., if I haven’t eaten in a while, I get hungry – or maybe if a previous meal was more filling, I’m not hungry for quite some time. Either way, in the long run, I have to trust the process. Experience shows me that in the past, this has been a path to success.

So what is old is new again. What I’ve done, I’m doing again. I hope in the process that I will be new again too.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Three Cheers for Casual Friday!

Yesterday morning when I got up and looked out the window, this is what I saw.  (Sorry for the crappy iPhone photos my camera was charging.) Sigh.

While we are not getting as much snow as some folks are still, I am so done with it.  Especially since last Friday we had one of those weird Spring temperature spikes and actually set a record hitting 70 degrees!  Thankfully that must have warmed up the ground a bit because by the end of the day yesterday, most of that had melted.  This is all that was left on the edge of the driveway - hahahaha!  Along with a weed!  Which means Spring really is coming.

Good thing most of it melted, because guess what the temperature was when I went out at o'dark-thirty for my walk/jog?  30.  With a windchill of 22.  Oh yeah, I was in full winter gear.  Sigh.  But I am happy to report that I did a very hilly route this morning and though my calf is still taped, I didn't feel it!  Wogged 3.4 miles in 43:25 for a pace of 12:45.  Hurray!


I was going through some old photos last night and let me tell you, if I ever, ever get back to the weight I was at just a couple of years ago, I am going to bow down and worship MYSELF.   When I got there, after almost 2 years of waiting for my thyroid to balance, it wasn't enough.  Why? When I was looking at those photos last night and wanting to be back there, I can't believe I was so hard on myself.  Peeps, I've had some revelations in the past few days - from those photos, from a book I've been reading, and from conversations with friends - that I think have sparked some changes in my mindset that will only lead to good things.  I am fired up and excited and can't wait to be able to fully share with you just what has been happening!


We have a party weekend ahead of us.  Tonight we will be gathering for dinner with my immediate family because Little Brother Helen from New York missed us and is coming in simply because he wanted a visit.  He's an RN and works all sorts of days and hours so though he's not that far away, it's often hard for him to get here when the rest of us are available.  It will be nice to see him.

Tomorrow Baby Brother Helen's baby girl is turning 2!  We will be going to help celebrate that.  This is the baby girl who was born with Tetrology of Fallot and had to have open heart surgery as an infant.  So you can understand why "2" is a huge celebration for us.  Besides, who can resist this little cutie?

She went shopping with momma for birthday party supplies and picked this hat out for herself!


Does your place of employment have Casual Friday or dress down days? We don't get those routinely in my office as my boss (the one who passed away) was a stickler for professional attire.  That rule has never been changed.  The way I dressed in my St. Patrick's day photo is how I dress daily.  However, a couple of years ago, one of our VPs talked him into letting us have an occasional Casual Friday for charity.  So basically, we donate to a specific cause for the privilege of wearing jeans to work.  As I started to fuss about what to wear today, I realized today was just such a Friday as our company supports one of the local MS Walks.  Believe it or not, there are four employees in my company who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. 

So, three cheers for Casual Friday!  And to a great weekend for us all! (I do not know why my sweater is wrinkled.  All I did was put on a coat and drive to work.  Sigh.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Friend Em

The Sunday after we had the kids for the weekend, I went to brunch with a friend.  My friend Em.  We are the unlikeliest of friends: a 31 year old single "young" woman and a 51 year "old" woman (old enough to be her mother).

I  met Em online back in 2007 while part of a Biggest Loser Team on Sparkpeople.  After the teams were established and the message boards were set up for chatting, we discovered that 3 of us lived in or had connections to Connecticut. Two of us living here full time and the other living in St. Croix but with family here so she comes quite often.

Additionally, all three of us CT girls were runners.  The other two were beginning runners and often contacted me for running advice.  I'm no running guru. Believe me, I'm just an old, chubby, and slow but extremely determined runner. Which I guess came through in my posts because it wasn't long before the whole team was calling me Crazy Running Woman.

Eventually, we got to meet in person - at first one at a time but ultimately the three of us would try to get together if we were all in the state at the same time. 

As I said, you would think Em and I would be unlikely friends,but need of weight loss and love of running overtook the age difference and anything else that might have hindered us, and our friendship has slowly developed over these years. We have supported each other at races, run races together, and also taken a weekend trip to Boston with other members of that now defunct group.  Which goes to show you that virtual friends can indeed become in real life friends too!  Two years ago, when Gary died, even though she lives over an hour away, she came to the calling hours.  I'm not sure I've ever told her exactly how much that meant to me.  But I digress.

Here's the group who went to Boston together, Em is second from the right.

Em taking me to brunch is something she has insisted on doing for the past few years somewhere around my birthday.  (Her parents live about 20 minutes away from me so she just makes a day of it and visits them after we get together. ) Even though the time never seems long enough we always manage to cram a lot of conversation into the couple of hours we are together. 

This time, after catching up on important stuff like boyfriends and husbands and houses and gardening, we inevitably started talking about our weight.  Both of us have gained back quite of bit of that weight we'd lost 4 years ago and both of us are suffering for it.  By suffering I mean, paying the consequences:  everything physical activity is harder, your cute clothes are packed away, stomach rolls and cellulite have made a reappearance.

As faithful readers know, I struggle with a wack job thyroid.  (The rest of my issues would come from wack job choices.) For Em, it's a busy, busy career as a fairly new litigation lawyer.  She basically works 6 days a week and probably puts in 80+ hours.  As you can imagine, it makes it extremely difficult to have much "life" outside of a job like that.  Everything is hard: meal planning, meal prepping, exercise, and even as she put it, "I'd like to clean my own house instead of paying someone to do it!"  (Well maybe not literally, but you get the idea of that thought.)

Yet, there we sat, our ages two decards apart, both pondering the same end result of circumstances in our lives.  I'll tell you what's universal:  when a woman gains weight she doesn't want, her thoughts WILL go to trying something drastic to get it off.  On the other hand we both know that while a liquid diet or extreme drop in calories 'might' take a few pounds off quickly, that's not something either of us could live with.  What we are both searching for, literally, is balance.  In terms of eating, we both admitted there are times when we could just flat out make better choices, yet we also acknowledged that it seems so much easier to fall back into old habits.   So just how does one get there?  To develop a new process that actually becomes a habit to reach for the apple instead of the chocolate, to choose the baked potato over the fried.  Not that chocolate and french fries are bad; they just probably shouldn't be the choice all the time.  Again, the key here being balance.

I shared with her that I recently had a conversation with another online friend who is a personal trainer who takes part in a running message board I participate in.  I was complaining about my lack of progress with getting some poundage off and how it affects my running and the trainer said, "Helen - don't beat yourself up, I have a client with thyroid issues... and she has the worst time losing weight, I see how hard she works and what she eats and it's just an uphill battle for her. The sad thing is, if she slips even a little on the working out/eating, she gains. So keep doing what you are doing!"

I'd been on thinking on that all week because as Em and I talked, I admitted I do not want to live a life of restriction. It makes me angry that if I waiver even a tiny bit from food or exercise my thyroid says, "Here's an extra 6 pounds for you!" It makes me frustrated that I can't 'be' like other people.  I want dessert.  I want a Saturday night martini.  I want a cheeseburger. BUT -  I also want whole grains and fruits and vegetables.  I want to to sleep in and I want to get up and exercise. I want variety and I want balance.

Guess what?  So does Em.

And so, as we sat talking about our hopes and dreams, we both agreed.  Life is way too short to not be at peace about food and exercise.  That the key probably is just to acknowlege when better choices could have been made and then move on.  No wallowing, just steps taken to course correct.  The key being honesty about what you really want.  Honest enough to reflect and then keep on keeping on.

This is something I'm actively exploring these days and I'm sure I'll be sharing more about my discoveries in the future.  I especially want to share with Em.  Because I'd like her to be free of all this by the time she's 51.

Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow - that is patience.
 ~ Unknown ~

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break My Stride

First things first.  It's Bagel Wednesday Baby!**  Woot! Woot!
Whole Wheat bagel with Chive cream cheese.  Nom nom nom

As it was said in the Harry Potter series, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."  Eating varied foods that I like make me feel like I'm actually living and not 'dieting.'  It's a small thing, but important for me.

Thanks for all your expressions of concern over the calf pop.  For the last 5 days I have been careful and kept it taped.  This enabled me to get in some decent walking, both inside and outside.  Yesterday morning, (sorry no photo of the Garmin acause I forgot), I got out and did 3.15 miles in 42:10.  That's a 13:30 min/mile pace.  Super happy with that.  Since my leg felt fine (don't get me wrong, I'm 'aware' that I have an injury underneath all that tape) I thought I would try Muay Thai again last night.  But, I added an Ace Bandage over the KT tape to really stabilize the muscles in that leg.

"Ain't nothin' gonna break my stride..."

While it wasn't the best Muay Thai class I've ever had, due to having to modify many things, I did get my sweat on.  The thing with Muay Thai is that even when punching you sort of need to be light on your feet.  I don't know if it was fear of reinjury but I was more like a statue.  In the end though, I survived the class to live another day and that was what was most important to me.

This morning I got up and headed for the treadmill to put in an hour while I watched last night's episode of The Biggest Loser.  After walking for 1/4 mile, I felt like I might actually be able to jog... so I gave it whirl.  I ended up going 5.06 miles in 1 hour.  "Nobody gonna hold me down, oh no, I got to keep on movin'!" 

This actually has been a great learning process for me and as I said before, a great reminder of just how wonderfully effective a good walk can be  Sometimes I think we push ourselves so much that we lose sight of the big picture, which is to be as healthy as we can be.  Being healthy, mentally or emotionally, should not include pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion and/or further injury.  As I told someone in a comment recently, slow and steady may not WIN the race, but it sure will get you to the finish line.

In other food news, I made myself another fabulous big azz salad today for lunch.  Wait until you see the carry to work bowl I have.  My boss used to own a bistro and when they closed there was a whole case of these bowls and he let me have 10 of them.  I wash them and use them over and over until they're worn out.  OK, it's a tiny bit sad that I'm already looking foward to lunch but this salad is going to be yummy!  I think I've been enjoying salads so much because I really haven't been eating a lot of them lately.  I tend to get away from them in winter when the produce isn't that good.  So, they're like a brand new taste sensation all over again.
Romaine mix (includes red cabbage and carrots) with roasted red peppers, dill pickle slices (instead of cucumber!), scallions, reduced fat cheddar cheese and southwestern flavored grilled chicken.  Served with ranch dressing.

And that's my Wednesday.  How's yours?

**TM, Lori at Finding Radiance

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  Peeps, I am sorry to report that I did not have the luck of the Irish on St. Patrick's Day.  I think a leprochaun was chasing me.  I popped my calf muscle at Muay Thai last Thursday.  By "popped," I mean I literally heard the darn thing 'pop' as I went up onto my toes to elevate for a roundhouse kick. It was so bad, I couldn't put my foot back down flat on the floor.  The tiniest bit of pressure was making me want to scream cry whimper.  The sensei even made me sit out the last few minutes of class.  Why yes, that would be Sensei Mr. Helen.

9.  Though I iced and heated and tried to stretch, the stupid thing was sore.  Hurt.  Sore.  Owwie!  I had to take 800 mg of ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer to sleep Thursday night because doncha know, in the midst of icing it before I went to bed, I got a major charley horse right where it was pulled. It was pulling and cramping so bad that when Mr. Helen slapped an ice pack on it and grabbed it he could actually feel it pulsating.  Pulsating. Why yes, I did cry.  In fact, I'm pretty sure some actual sobbing and screaming was involved.

8.  Friday morning I got up and knew I wouldn't make it through the day without wrapping it.  So I pulled out the KT Tape and taped it up.  Problem is, that's a hard place to tape all by yourself, but I did the best I could. Why yes, I was totally irritated that I hadn't thought to get Mr. Helen's help before he left for work.

7.  This further frustrated me because it was gorgeous here on Friday and not only had I planned to get up and run, I had also planned to wear a dress. No running and because of the tape, I had to revert to slacks.  I actually had to dig out some spring weight slacks and even those were too warm.  Why yes, I do prefer dresses and skirts over slacks or even shorts when the weather is nice.

6.  This further further frustrated me because it seems like for all the good Muay Thai does for conditioning, it is very bad for my running.  For the second weekend in a row, I couldn't run (dammit!).  Last weekend I had the kidlets and this weekend.... finally, just as the weather breaks, I'm injured and I can't run. WAH! Why yes, I am a cranky, crybaby when I can't run.

5.   Interestingly enough, this calf pop was on the left side of my body.  I think I have proof positive that my left side is quite weak.  My left foot has a morton's neuroma that I developed in my first year of road racing.  All that thigh/hip/butt pain is on my left side.  Additionally, if I'm going to have an achy knee or develop runner's knee, guess which side I get it on?  Why yes, I am one big ball o trouble on the left side of my body.

4.  Muay Thai is really great for "even-ing out" your body.  When you have to work both sides, it forces the weaker side to strengthen.  But, of course, when you frigging injure yourself doing Muay Thai, you can't do Muay Thai.  Sigh. Why yes, I am annoyed about not being able to kick someone's butt right now.

3.  Before the charley horse, while I was icing my leg, I ate my dinner.  I texted Shelley and said, "I'm hurtin' so what I want is carbs, sugar or booze (which is all simple carbs, now that I think of it lol!). But I'm having a shrimp cocktail and this homemade Greek Salad.  Yay me!"  And yes, that salad is as gigantic as it looks. I make no apologies for my giant salads. Why yes, I am the one who asks, "Where's everyone elses salad?" when they bring a bowl to the table in a family style restaurant.

Romaine mix with black olive slices, roasted red pepper trips, cucumbers, pepperoncini, and Feta cheese.  Served with Olive Oil Vinaigrette

2.  As I sat there enjoying my food, I noticed that this delicious food was quelling my craving to just stuff my mouth with the first thing available and/or overeat.  Simply eating something so tasty while I was hungry was making me feel in control again. *Lightbulb* I need to remember this feeling the next time my instinct is to grab a handfull of Cheez-Its.  Why yes, I have grabbed Cheez-Its in the past. 

1.  Shelley and I texted back a forth a few times because it was 40 degrees in CT and 80 in TX.  I love 80.  It's my favorite temperature.  Actually I love hot weather.  After Shelley examined my very healthy salad she texted, "You probably would really like it here weather-wise then.  OK, heat (meaning for my leg), then chocolate."  I replied, "How did you know I was thinking about the chocolate covered cherries I got for my birthday?"  Yep, she knows me pretty well.  But you know, after a calf popping, painful, but otherwise healthy eating day, a couple of cherries?  Well, they were the cherry on top! Because you know, this means no running until further notice. Why yes, chocolate really does make everything seem better.

I immediately thought of Lori and her mint cups when I took this photo!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sometimes You Need a Plan B

I really appreciated everyone's responses to the I Wanna Know Post. What seemed like a common theme across the responses was no matter what "plan" we are using, planning is key.  I know that's true for me as well.  I just do better when I plan better.  On the other hand, sometimes the best laid plans can go awry, right?  So you've got to have a Plan B.

As it turns out, my Plan B this weekend ended up with me doing no running but quite a bit of walking.  The reasons behind this will be the subject of tomorrow's Tuesday Ten.  Aren't you just breathless with anticipation? Though it was an adjustment I didn't want to make, before I was a runner, I was a walker.  So when I knew I couldn't run, I put on my big girl panties, my walking shoes and gave it a whirl.

Saturday, I used the treadmill because I knew the belt would help propel my feet and I also needed a somewhat flat surface.  I managed a pretty good clip. 4.25 miles in 1 hour 34 seconds - a 14:15 min/mile pace!

Besides, that little walk fed my brain the endorphins it was looking for.   But I sure did get a suprise when I swung my legs out of bed on Sunday - suddenly I was SHOCKED to be very, very aware of my behind.  Holy muscle aches!.  Evidently I do not use my Gluteous Maximous Anything when I run.  However, I also knew that moving that lactic acid would help so I dressed up planning to walk another hour. Since I had managed my Saturday walk fine, I decided to try for an outdoors walk in the glorious sunshine.  OK, I'll admit, it was chilly - 29 degrees with a 22 windchill - but it was sunny!  And there was no snow!  Now, this walk involved some hills because where I live, there's no way to not have some hills.  I tried to walk the least hilly route I could think of and when I got back home and looked at my Garmin, I was very pleasantly surprised.
That's 4.4 miles in 61:34 - at 14:00 minute/mile pace - I'll take it!

Again this morning, lather, rinse, repeat on the treadmill.

 4.29 miles in an hour - a 13:59 pace, which means I've gotten a little faster at my walking every day.  I have to admit that though I love my running, I'd forgotten just how good a nice brisk walk can feel and I'm thinking I may have to put a weekly walk back into my routine.

Since I had spent Saturday doing various errands and running around with Mr. Helen, I also had to go to Plan B for Sunday:  grocery shopping and cooking rather than polishing my toenails and reading a book.  Before I grocery shop I always go through my refrigerator to see what I need for fresh produce, etc. and while I was doing that I realized I had some ingredients that I needed to use up.   I ended up coming up with a baked egg cup that I'm calling Green, Eggs and Ham.  These turned out terrific and pack a wallop of protein.

What I did was take a ramekin and spray it with cooking spray.
Then I put in layers, 3/4 oz. of diced ham, 1/2 cup chopped cooked broccoli

Next came 1/3 cup egg beaters, top with 2T sliced scallions and 2T reduced fat shredded cheddar.

Then I baked them (I made 4) at 375 for 35 minutes. Look how pretty - and it tasted yummy too!

The nutritional values for one ramekin are excellent: 135 calories, 3.7g fat, 20 mg. cholesterol, 571mg sodium, 8g carbs,  3g fiber and 18g protein.

I had one ramekin with a Fiber One English muffin for (what was now) brunch and between the protein punch of the egg cup and the fiber in the english muffin it was quite a satisfying breakfast.

For some reason I was having trouble getting motivated to go to the grocery store, but around noon finally got out to do a bit of shopping.  As you know I got a spiralizer for my birthday and I've been dying to try it, but zucchini has been at a ridiculous price point.
Maybe these ridiculous prices are why I was stalling the grocery trip.  This isn't the only thing that has cost more lately and somehow the grocery stores think it makes it better because they've put a sign there that says, "Due to inclement weather, squash is at a higher price point."  Nope, doesn't make it better at all.  But, I did give in and buy two because no fresh veggies were on sale this week (how sad is that?) and I've really been wanting some zucchini.

Here the spiralizer all put together.  You can see the piece of zucchini I was shredding in the top section and the "spaghetti" in the bottom bowl.  In my opinion, this tool is well worth the $15 or so dollars that it costs.  It made creating the spaghetti a cinch and is super easy to clean up.

I just love how it comes out.  Seriously, it's like having zucchini angel hair.

Here is my finished dish.  With petite diced tomatoes, all warmed up and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Yummy! Not to mention a great way to get several servings of veggies.

After this was all said and eaten, I prepped our dinner.  I had seen a recipe last week on Kalyn's Kitchen, Salsa Porkchops with Cumin, Garlic and Lime.  If you are a person trying to eat a bit lower carb, Kalyn has a terrific assortment of recipes for just that.  Everything I've made from her collection has been very flavorful.  These chops came together super fast and the finished product was super tasty.  The only thing I did different than her recipe was to use a medium hot salsa.  Really delicious and a recipe that will be part of our rotation for sure.  Plus a crockpot recipe is always handy as while it cooks you can get some other things done.

Today, I'm reflecting on all the flying by the seat of my pants and rearranging of plans this weekend.  It was a good reminder to me (the I've made plans don't messs with them person)  that if you allow for Plan B, which might not be your first choice, it can be just as effective as Plan A.

I look back on the past few days and guess what?  I exercised, got some cooking done for the week ahead, and ate sensibly.  Yes, it looked different than Plan A but in the end still got me where I needed to be: happy with the choices I made, focused, determined, and rarin' to go!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Wanna Know

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I do have a bit 'o the Irish in my heritage so even though I have no plans to drink enough green beer to be drunk by noon, I do like to acknowledge by the wearing 'o the green.  I was wondering what I'd come up with since green tends to be only a summer color for me and even then it's not the proper Irish green.  I went digging in my summer clothing bin and found a tank with mixed greens that I layered with another black tank to raise neckline to an appropriate level for work.  I added some green earrings I'd forgotten I had and this is what I came up with for today:

Hoping for the Luck of the Irish!


Ironic to me how one can see something on a daily basis and not pay it one bit of attention and then suddenly you actually see it.  I had that experience yesterday going up and down the stairs at work.  We don't even have an elevator in my building but I also choose to park on the lowest level so everyday I walk 4 flights of stairs to get to my office.  One of the things I pass just before I got through a door that puts me on my office's floor is a bulletin board set up by Human Resources.  It has the usual announcements and mandatory postings on it.  I think passing it every day makes me immune to it.  Perhaps because I was in a reflective mood over several things, I actually saw and paid attention to one of the posters.  At the top it said,

Goals begin with a dream, success requires a plan

I saw and I started thinking.  Lately I feel like I've been sort of floating around plan-less which is making my focus feel blurry. 

Now, I'm not usually one to ask a bunch of questions here on Doing A 180 because I try to write here for myself.  While I truly adore the fact that many folks take the time to comment, I never want to 'assume' thereby turning the blog outwards as if I expect that people are reading it. 

But today, today I'm going to do it.  If you normally lurk, please delurk and jump in with your truth, because I really wanna know:

When you are in successful weight loss mode, what is your plan?  What are you doing?
What does your exercise and eating look like?

If you are in maintenance now, I still wanna know what you did to get there.  If you have a blog and perhaps have a tab that has your plan, please put a link in your comments and don't recreate the wheel here, okay? But please tell me because I wanna know.

P.S. Be nice, don't diet bash and don't bash each other - we all have different journeys.  If I see any meanness, I will delete!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  I do not like the time change, not one bit. I tend to have some mid life interrupted sleep a few nights a week. It generally happens around 2:00 a.m. and it takes me around 30-45 minutes to go back to sleep. Except with the time change, it's happening at 3:00 a.m. Since my alarm clock goes off at 4:00 a.m., this means just as I'm drifting back to sleep... It sucks and makes me cranky and makes me want to go back to bed by 10 a.m.

9. Maybe it's just me but there seems to be a lot of hysteria built up over St. Patrick's Day in recent years.  I have nothing against people being proud of their roots.  But seriously, as far as I'm concerned, this is yet another made up NON holiday.  Perhaps because it gives people and excuse to imbibe? There, I said it!

8.  I am very deconditioned to outside running from all the treadmill running I've done over the winter.  Some people train well on a TM. I'm not one of them. 

7.  On Monday, I had my first outside o'dark-thirty run with a headlamp in months. It should have been a fabulous run since I'd had 3 days of "rest" while watching the kiddies over the weekend. But nope.  (see above.)

6.  Saturday while I was out shopping I noticed the stores are putting out spring plants and bulbs.  Is it possible that we've turned the corner out of this winter from hell?  I need to make some changes to the plantings in my teensy plot of yard but I suck at such things.  I'll be tearing out what I planted last year and trying for something new this year.  Maybe Day Lilies.

5.  I love reading maintenance bloggers - no matter what program they used to lose their weight. This is such a different process for each of us that it's intriguing to see how folks keep at it even after goal. Two really great blogs by folks who are in maintenance and learning what that's all about encouraged me this week. "What's Been Going On" by Debby and "Stating the Obvious" by Shelley.

4.  Gracie, looking at some mini bottles of Baileys Irish Cream in the wet bar:
"Aunt Helen, what are those for?"
"They're for adults."
"I know that, but what are they for?!'
"What do you mean sweetie?"
"I know they're for adults acause they're in the adult area!  I'm a kid, I don't drink wine you know."
"Oh, they're for adults to put in coffee."

3. Speaking of drinking wine, I figured out while having the kids over the weekend why I was pretty much a teetotaler while my own child was growing up.  Even one glass of wine makes me relax a little.  It's dangerous to relax when you have little kids around.  Though I joked about taking a shot of something to get through the bedtime rituals, I seriously was astonished at my lack of "want" for any alcoholic beverage - not even one glass of wine.

2.  Sunday night after the kids left, I had my Saturday night martini.  I'm just saying.

1.  Malcom Forbes said, "Failure is success, if we learn from it."  I claim I'm ready to be a success, so why do I refuse to learn?

Monday, March 14, 2011

"I LOVE This Place!"

We did it.  All four of us survived the weekend with each other, though it did not start out on the best foot.  I left work on Friday and went to pick up Jacob and Gracie.  When I arrived at their house (Grammy stayed at their house) I was greeted by a very enthusiastic Springer Spaniel named Sam. Who is very cute.  See?

I think he thought I was his mommy because he was HYSTERICAL and out. of. control. (My sister usually runs him every day.)  He had a bone in his mouth and was trying to put his paws on my shoulders and shaking his head and the bone all at the same time.  Grammy Helen told me, "he wants you to take the bone then throw it."  So I tried but I couldn't get the bone because he was HYSTERICAL.  Jacob finally jumped in and wrestled the bone and threw it as hard as he could - straight into my mouth.  

Holy crow did that hurt.  Ever been hit by a rawhide bone projected at only god knows how many miles per hour straight into your mouth?  The immediate result was that it made my bottom lip swell and my two lower middle teeth were loose. (But I knew that if you let them be, they will reattach, and they did.).  Alrighty then.  I immediately felt like a 'real' mom because there was no time to deal with my own aches and pains because I had these kids.  Once I got home I iced the lip while I fed the kids dinner (and Mr. Helen tried very hard not to bust out laughing every time he glanced my way) and by the next day, most of the swelling was gone and I only had a bit of redness with a nice purple bruise right under my bottom lip.

(photo courtesy of Amazing Gracie)
(when I asked her to try again, this is the photo we got)
So now you know what my shirt looked like...

Mr. Helen and I immediately discovered Friday night that we suck at getting kids to bed.  In fact, we suck so bad that I'm not sure how I EVER did it.  Jacob had to be up early to go to his skiing team and be ready to leave at 7:20 AM.  I know kids need their sleep.  But, like I said, we suck.  I think they fell asleep around 10...

Saturday morning dawned bright and early and of course, as soon as Jacob woke up, Amazing Gracie wanted to get up too.  The thing is, Jacob is a great getter upper.  He wakes up smiling and happy and ready to eat.  Her majesty, not so much.  Or as Mr. Helen said, "She's just like you.  She needs her coffee."  Or in her case, warm chocolate milk.  But even then she hadn't had enough sleep so she kept telling me we couldn't go to groceries that she was too sick and needed to stay home.  Eventually I got her up and going by bribing her, of course.  Ever since she was a teensy baby, she has always been fascinated by my finger nails.  I have proof:

See how she's holding my hand?  Well, she kept grabbing my hand on Saturday morning and running her finger across my nails, so I told her if she would get dressed and come sit in the kitchen while I made pancakes ("I don't want pancakes!" "OK"), I would polish her nails.  A successful bribe and by the time I finished the pancakes, she wanted one.

Amazing Gracie's Finger Saturday!

So we were able to go run errands.  Of course in the grocery store she talked me into buying her juice boxes and yogurt raisins, neither of which were on sale.  Yes, that receipt has been hidden from Mr. Helen.  She also asked me if she was very, very good in the "groceries" could she please have a toy.  See, here's the difference between mommy and aunt.

Mommy:  No, I expect you to be good anyway.
Aunt:  Of course you can darling!

After groceries we went to BJ's to pick up a few things, where she made up her own lunch consisting of food from the sample ladies.  And I proceeded to buy her $40 worth of stuff.  Sigh.  You see, there was a really cute bathing suit ensemble consisting of a bathing suit with a cover up skirt.  Then we saw the most adorable Dora nightgown ensemble with matching slippers and headband!  And, of course, the promised toy.  She picked out an American Girl cat named Ginger that came with a book.

As soon as we got home, she wanted to take off her clothes and put on the nightgown.  Tired much sweetie?

But then Mr. Helen made her get dressed again because angel that he is, he took her out to run errands with him so I could have a couple hours by myself before Jacob got home from skiing.  Now, at this point, I haven't had a run yet but peeps, I gotta tell you, I was already pooped.  So I made a sandwich and sat down and watched Real Housewives re-runs and read the newspaper for the next two hours.  

Jacob got home from skiing and he was so excited... because he won a medal!  He got second place in the boys division for skiing a marathon - he had to ski 26 laps.  The thing that makes this so awesome?  He beat kids that were 4 and 5 years older than him!  So proud of him.

Of course, he was really tired too, and I was glad he made it back before Amazing Gracie because he got to just sit with me and play on his DS and unwind before the tornado came back.  As we sat quietly he said, "Aunt Helen? Know what the best thing about skiing is?" "No buddy, what's best?"  "Taking off those boots!"

Then Mr. Helen got back home and her majesty came sweeping into the room to announce that she made a craft.  Excuse me?  Mr. Helen looked all embarrassed and said he'd gone to AC Moore to pick up supplies for Jacob's school project and there just happened to be a craft thing for kids and how could he not let her.... yep, been there!  Here is her version of Thomas the Train.

Jacob had to create a Leprochaun trap for his school project and the plan they came up with involved spray paint, glue and glitter so I begged asked them to do it outside in the garage. (Thankfully we had a pretty nice day - 45ish degrees and sunny.) Gracie, of course, needed to go outside with them to snoopervise.  This was a very nice thing because it gave me another 40 minutes alone our plan was to tire them out as much as possible so bedtime wouldn't be so difficult again.

Of course soon enough Gracie annoyed the heck out of the guys got tired of all that business and wanted to come inside.  Which is when I got the brilliant idea that I would have her do the exercise I was not getting myself.  I showed her how to do crunches on the ball, and lift weights!

(Ha! This how I look when I left weights too!)

Then Jacob came in and said, "Aunt Helen, would you like to see something I can do for karate that is very unusual for boys?" (Where does he get that vocabulary?  Unusual.  It's unusual for a 7 year old to say unusual)

Holy splits Batman!  How much do I wish I had that flexibility.   I bet Mr. Helen wishes I had that flexibility too...

We got dinner together and enjoyed a family style meal sitting at the table.  If you're not doing that with your kids, you're missing out.  After dinner, pajamas on and then a movie to calm everybody down before bed.

Of course, the clocks were moving ahead so once we watched the movie, it was 9:30 'new' time.  Mr. Helen and I decided that maybe we'd all just go upstairs to bed at the same time.  Maybe knowing that we were up there with them would help them to simmer down and go to sleep.  Besides, I was looking forward to having the first shower I'd had in 2 days.  Up we go, stories read, everyone quiet down!  Everyone quiet down!  No more talking!  Stop it Grace, leave your brother alone!  Jacob, don't take her stuffed animals away!  Everyone quiet down it's time for bed!  I think the last, "you'd better stop talking" was at 11:00 p.m.  Sigh.

Sunday morning, of course we had to wake them because they were overtired. As were we.  But off to Sunday School and back to Grammy Helen they went.  As I drove them to church, I said, "Gracie, did you have a good time with Aunt Helen and Uncle Helen this weekend?"  "No, not really.  But that was only acause  I missed my momma!"

She's fibbing.  She had a great time.  And so did we (even though it may take a week to recover).  We found out we suck at discipline, bedtime and evidently nutrition (why yes, you may have a 10th cookie!), but we are great at love.  I know this because when the 7 year old, sitting at the dinner table, spontaneously raises both hands in the air and exclaims, "Oh man!  I LOVE this place!" it can't be all wrong.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Ya'll Gonna Make Me Lose My Mind

Up in here, up in herrre!

No, I haven't taken up rapping as my next career, but I did lose my mind a little.  My sister got a last minute chance to go to Cabo San Lucas, sans bebes, for 4 days - the only thing she had to pay for was her airfare.
Of course Grammy Helen said, "Go!  I'll keep the bebes - and the dog!"  But see, that's really a lot for her to take care of a very active 4 and 7 year old and a crazy dog for four days.  The only other place Amazing Grace has ever deigned to spend the night is at my house.  Funny thing is, every time I ask her if she wants to come back, she replies (with her finger pointed), "Amember that time I came to you house and I wanted my momma?"  (And she's right. Especially when it was time to go to bed, she only wanted momma.) Then we have the additional issue that if Amazing Grace is coming, Jacob would probably have died in a fit of jealousy that she got to come and he didn't.  Because ever since he was 2 years old, he regularly asks to spend the night with Mr. Helen.  He would rather come to us than go with his best friend.  So, there you have it.  Lord help us all. 

Mr. Helen & Jacob having their weekly "guy time" watching America's Funniest Videos, which believe me, you will see in a whole new light if you watch it with a 7 year old!

This of course throws a total wrench into all my fabulous weekend cleaning, cooking, and running plans.  Yet somehow I have the feeling by Sunday, I'm not even going to care about any of that. And peeps, if you don't hear from me again by early next week, send Shelley hunting for me to make sure I survived.


Up until this morning, this is what I saw every single time I looked out my kitchen window:

One stubborn pile of dirty snow that would not go away.  Gross.  And that pile is clean compared to the piles that have remained on the sides of the road.  But then this morning, because we're having monsoon rains and have had temps above freezing for most of the week, it's all gone.  Leaving just my forlorn patio, waiting, along with me, for summer.  Here's hoping I don't have to see anymore snow on the patio until next year!


I don't think I mentioned it but my hip has been feeling much better just over this last week. I actually managed to very carefully do sprawls during Thai Boxing this week and found that I wasn't worrying/thinking about my hip throughout the entire class. That, in turn, has helped me to feel about as 'normal' as I've felt in several months. Hip, hip hurray! (Pun intended.)


In this week's exercise news, I learned that I need to get lighter on my feet.  While in some ways that does refer to weight, it also refers to being able to use core strength to magically lift yourself up.  Tuesday night, in Muay Thai, Mr. Helen was trying to show me how to lift my right foot off the ground while scooting forward and doing a front kick with my left leg at the same time.  Peeps, if you saw him do it?  It's a thing of beauty.  He literally does float like a butterfly then sting like a bee!  But when I tried, what you would have seen was me stagger than plant my face into the heavy bag.  OK, so he looks pretty and I look funny (story of our relationship) but I cannot allow that to continue.  So while I was out running lunchtime errands on Wednesday I bought this...

...not so much for the cardio workout as I'm hoping that it will help me learn to lift my feet and get lighter on them.  I think I have about 18 months or so until I'm testing for blackbelt and I fully intend to WOW the crowd with my floating, stinging butterfly self!


Finally, this Fingers Friday is brought to you courtesy of Access 24/7 by OPI for Sephora

Have a good one!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday Ten

10.  Today is Fat Tuesday.  You go ahead and take that any way you want.

9.  I made this stir-fry from Cooking Light's March issue for our dinner.  It really is ready in 20 minutes and it's so yummy!  The only substitutions I made were using beef broth where it called for sherry, and using ground ginger instead of fresh (didn't have either of those ingredients).  I made Mr. Helen sticky rice and made brown rice for myself.  Supposed to serve 4 - but Mr. Helen ate 2 servings! This is an almost perfect "got to get something for dinner together quick" meal:

8.  Lunchtime errands and trips to New York City have one thing in common:  everything willl take longer than you thought it would.

7.  When I am provoked, I swear like a Marine.  The first time Mr. Helen and I ever got into an voracious verbal disagreement I think I shocked him into silence by the words coming out of my mouth.  I'm not proud of it and work hard to control it, but I promise I can make your grandmother blush.  This will be pertinent later in the ten.

6.  Saturday run in the city, true conversation #1: Guy dressed in a military uniform standing on a street corner with friends gives me two thumbs up as I run by and says, "Hey!! YOU GO GIRL!  I saw you waaaaay back there!"  My verbal response:  "Thanks!" My inner response: "Oh Yeah!"

5.  Everyone has their grammar irritation - you know what I mean -  there, their, or they're; loose weight or lose weight, etc. You know what's bugging the heck out of me lately because I keep seeing it in blogs and comments? Freely interchanging "Carbs" and "Junk Food." For example saying, I gained a bunch of weight because I ate so many carbs. No you didn't. You gained weight because you ate piss poor, or you ate too many calories, or maybe even because you have a medical issue. Carbs are not evil, people. Even vegetables have carbs.  It's irritating me so much I'm about to call people on it when I comment on their blogs.

4. Here's a photo of my birthday anemones opened up.  I'm putting this here for poor Lori and other friends who got another 2 feet of snow yesterday.  Oy! Did you know if you put these flowers in your refrigerator overnight, they last twice as long?

3. Lately, whenever I need a really good belly laugh, I go to Damn You Autocorrect.  If you haven't been there, whether you own an iPhone or not, you need to go.  It will cheer you up.  Seriously, it's so funny, I can't read it at work because it makes me belly laugh out loud.  Be warned some of it is at least PG-13.

2.  Saturday run in the city, true conversation #2:  Two guys crossing the road towards a Dunkin Donuts I happened to be running by point and then one of them says, "Look at that fat chick trying to run!" and then they laugh hysterically.  My verbal response: I stop dead in my tracks, turn around and yell, "Very funny.  At least I'm doing something, you lazy MFers!" Only I said the actual swear word, and then turned and took off running again. My inner response: "Good thing they kept walking otherwise I'd walk back there and roundhouse kick their stupid asses."

1.  From Bob Harper, during last week's episode of Biggest Loser:  Life will always, always be a struggle.  It's how you manage the struggle, how you go through it, how you deal with it, that will ultimately tell your story.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Size Matters

Did you read that title as SIZE matters, or size MATTERS?  Either way...

My pants are getting tight.  I'm just saying.  I know I haven't been writing much about this lately, but I needed to say it out loud.

Not that I'm trying to hide anything because you know, fat isn't anything that can be hidden.  It hangs out right where everyone can see it.

In the last two weeks since my doctor appointment in which she told me my thyroid is wack and that weight loss would be a crap shoot for me right now, I have to admit I've felt defeated. Like no matter what I do I'll never be where I want to be weight wise and I may never feel good again.  Because this extra weight, well, it does weigh me down.

Body parts hurt that probably wouldn't otherwise.  Going up and down stairs leaves me winded.  Running is definitely much harder - and slower.  I don't know if I can even express how many times I had the thought, "If you weighed 20 lbs. less you wouldn't be having such a hard time hauling your ass up these hills!" during my half marathon last Saturday.

Yet I remain stumped as to what to do about this because I am trying to do what my doctor said to do:  no dieting, but rather eat healthfully 90% of the time, watch portion sizes, and get some regular exericse.

Still the problem remains: my pants are getting tight.  Not good because that means when I pull out spring clothing in (hopefully) a few weeks, nothing will fit.  Not to mention I think I am already wearing the largest size of Muay Thai Boxing shorts that is made for women.  So, an additional problem there.

Driving home the other night I saw this sticker on the back of a pickup truck:

I was immediately so infuriated that I wanted to ram that truck.  But then I thought, "Why is this upsetting you so much?  Is it because it's truly offensive, or is it because it hits too close to home?"

I watched Eat, Pray, Love over the weekend.  I actually liked the movie more than the book, which is unusual for me. There was a bit of dialogue that caught my attention to the point that when the movie was over, I went back to the scene so I could write it down.  (The scene: Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert is in Naples eating pizza and her friend won't eat it because she's worried about weight she's gained and gaining more.)

"I'm so tired of saying no, and then waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before.  Counting every calorie I consumed so I know exactly how much self loathing to take into the shower.  I'm going for it.  I have no interest in being obese, I'm just through with the guilt."

Oh man.  I want to be there.  I want to be that woman.  I want to go for it.  But it's hard.  Because my pants are getting tight.  I'm just saying.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wrapping Paper

What an odd week it has been.  I raced a half marathon, made Shelley cry, broke my own rules about running too soon after racing ("do as I say, not as I do"), injured myself because I should know better, used the knowledge gleaned from past injuries to whip that calf back into shape so I could get back to a Muay Thai class on Thursday, decided not to run anymore until the weekend (shock!), and in between, celebrated a birthday.

A great time was had by all on my birthday, but most especially by me!  No, this wasn't the big hoopla of last year, but it was grand all the same.  Takeout BBQ from my favorite place and cupcakes which I chose over a cake this year.  All shared with my family including the most precious nieces and nephews anyone could ask for.  You know, kids really know how to make a birthday special.  My almost 2 year old niece Samantha singing Happy Birthday to me was heart melting.

Sweet Sammy Lou's song was music to my ears!

My sister in-law from New York (my brother's wife) showed up and surprised me with these gorgeous anemones in hand!

I got my very first birthday cards where Gracie and Jacob both wrote their own names - not to mention that Jacob put a heart there too, which my sister said he won't do for just anybody!

Plus Amazing Gracie decided that she needed to surprise me with her very own card and gift.  My sister said she's like a train out of control, once she decides something there's no stopping her.  Hmmmmm, wonder where she gets that from?

She decorated the envelope (Grammy helped)

This says "Aunte" can you see it? Until recently she only referred to me as Auntie - no Helen, which I've found is a very hard name for children to say

My gift!  How much do I love this?  I can't even explain.
It has a pipe cleaner hanger, so guess where it is?
Right on the fridge.  A good reminder for me that my vacation is just a few months away lol!

I got lots of other great gifts too, gift cards from Sephora, Olive Garden, iTunes, Dick's Sporting Goods and Famous Footwear.  Hmmm wonder if I can spend them in one big shopping trip?

Little Helen sent me this funky bracelet. I love it!

I also received this, which I will use to make zucchini spaghetti!

Both Mr. Helen and Little Helen gave me one of these...
they know me well!
(One will be returned and probably be replaced by yet another cookbook.)

And of course, there was the Fabulousness that were the Birthday Cupcakes! Mr. Helen bought way too many which means there were leftovers and also means I'll need to be looking at Gracie's gift often in the next few days!

Just because I know someone will ask: starting with the left row,
the flavors are:
Vanilla Cream, Raspberry Snowball, Banana Cream, Oreo Cookie, Chocolate Raspberry
Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate

I enjoyed 1 1/2 cupcakes (three halves, different flavors).  Usually that third half would be a guilt inducing thing for me, but I immediately shut those thoughts down and just enjoyed.  Almost as if I needed a sign that indeed the correct way to treat myself, no matter what, is at least as good as I would treat a beloved friend or my own Little Helen, I found this.  How appropriate that it's from my birthday buddy, Dr. Seuss.
Pretty good way to wrap up the week.  Thanks Doc, I needed that.