Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Run That Almost Didn't Happen

The training plan called for a 3.5 mile run (my longest run ever), but it almost didn't happen today.  It rained for the better part of the day, I was sore from yesterday's long hike, and honestly I just didn't want to run.  The rain didn't let up until late in the afternoon, but when it finally did I dragged myself out the door and set off at a slow pace that I knew for certain I could maintain for the full distance.  Even though I took a hilly route I never felt like I had to stop.  It helped that I was deeply engrossed in an audiobook that I have only been listening to while I workout.  I wanted to find out what happened next and I knew that I had to keep running so that I didn't have to pause it until my next workout.  Overall it wound up being a good run.  The rain held off until after I finished my run and once I got back to my apartment I felt great and was glad I did it.    

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No change

My diet didn't go all that well this week, so I was fully expecting bad news when I got on the scale.  Here's what I saw this morning:

No change since last week.  I'm okay with that.  There were two days this week when I ate like a piglet and barely exercised.  One of those days was yesterday when I inhaled a Jason's Deli boxed lunch at a presentation at school.  On top of that I almost always get bad news from the scale this time of month.  Water weight and all that jazz.  You get the picture.  In any case, I wasn't expecting a loss this week and I was happy I did not gain.  Moving on.  

The 10k training plan I have been following calls for a 2 mile run every week and it occurred to me that that short weekly run would be the perfect time to try something new: interval training. The first time I went through the Couch to 5k program I did it for distance more than anything else, but I was thinking recently that since the program uses intervals I could easily use it to improve my speed.  I started at week 1 day 1 and every time the c25k app beeped for a running interval, I set the speed a little higher.  Since it was the first week I did my first interval at 5 mph, my second at 5.1 mph and so on until I got to 5.5 and then I came back down.  I worked up a good sweat and felt wide awake and exhilarated when I was done.  

I had already planed to go hiking again today so I got cleaned up and headed out to Percy Warner Park.  I was aiming for 25,000 steps or 10 miles total for the day, whichever came first.  I made sure my phone was fully charged this time and I made sure to bring a snack and water since I was planning to walk for several hours.  It was a great hike.

When I got home I was ravenous.  I had a sweet potato waiting in the crockpot and I threw a turkey burger in the oven to go with it.  Lunch was fantastic as was the hours of vegetating on the couch watching bad movies on Netflix (currently in the middle of Epoch.)

I will end with my Fitbit stats because holy crap I was proud of myself.  

I set a new personal record for steps taken in a day and floors climbed in a day.  I know people routinely run further than this in a day, but for me this is a reason to feel accomplished.  

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Workout All-star

Today, I was a workout all-star.  The schedule for today called for a 2 mile run plus strength, but since I took a rest day on the day I was supposed to do a 2.5 mile run, I decided that my best bet would be to do the 2.5 mile run and strength training today.  So that's what I did.  

I've been doing fairly well with Level 1 of the 30 Day Shred so I decided to go ahead and move up to Level 2 today.  Five minutes in and I was sweatin' and cussin'.  Who ever heard of a walking push up?  Trainers be crazy.  Or sadistic.  Or both.  I got through (most of) it, though.  I will do better next week!

I had a small snack, some water, and a half hour break, and then I headed out for the running portion of events.  It was in the high 50's by the time I got out the door.  I'm not one of those people that hates running in cold weather (I actually imagine I will struggle when it gets much hotter than this), but I did enjoy not having cold hands today.  Run completed, I headed home to put down roots in the living room floor until bedtime.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Best of Intentions

I woke up yesterday with the best of intentions.  I was going to get my 2.5 mile run out of the way early, like before class early, and then I was going to go about the rest of my day.  But then I didn't do my run before class.  Or after lunch.  Or after dinner.  I didn't do any kind of working out yesterday.  We're going to call it a much needed rest day and move on.

Today I still didn't want to work out, but I dragged myself down to the gym and made myself stay on the elliptical for an hour.  I was still tired after my workout, but I was glad I made myself do it.  I'm going to try to stay on track with my workouts for the rest of the week and I will have to run tomorrow and Friday to make up for yesterday's epic fail.  As long as I finish all of the scheduled workouts, though, I guess I'm cool with it.  I'm thinking I'll do the 2.5 mile run tomorrow and the 2 mile run on Friday.  Bring it on 10k training plan.  You will not win.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekly Goals Check In

The first time I posted my weekly goals I got ambitious with it, but last week I only had three goals.

1) Stick to week 1 of Hal Higdon's 10k training plan
2) Try a new recipe
3) Lose at least one pound

I got through all the workouts  in week 1 of the training plan with the exception of a strength workout that I will always wish I had done.  You can check out my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,  Saturday, and Sunday workouts by clicking the links.  Considering it was only my first week of 10k training I am going to call this a win.

My second goal was to try a new recipe. I accomplished this one on Friday when I made the spicy shrimp and polenta medallions recipe from A Black Girl's Guide to Weightloss.  You can see a picture/find a link to the recipe here

My last goal was to lose 1 pound.  I lost 0.8 pounds at my weigh in this week, so I didn't quite make it. It's okay though. Week 1 of the training plan had me running 7.5 miles for the week when I had been running around 9. I also had to replace my usual elliptical sessions, which typically burn at least 500 calories in one hour, with strength training and rest. I burned fewer calories this week than I had been burning so a smaller weightloss was to be expected.  I think it will be worth it in the long run, though because if I can build my way up to running more and faster miles, I will burn more calories in the future. Sometimes you have to take short term losses to gain long term wins.

I also didn't eat particularly well last week so this week I am aiming to do better. I have been craving seafood lately so I bought a bunch of frozen wild salmon fillets, shrimp, and frozen chicken breast with crockpot liners and zip n steam bags to make for easier cooking.  I have also been making big batches of brown rice and freezing it in individual servings so that all I have to do is warm it up.  In the interest of full disclosure, i also made a batch of black bean brownies that may or may not get in the way of my weight loss this week, but i have been counting the calories for them and since my recipe only used 3 infredients (one box of brownie mix, one can of black beans, and one serving of egg whites) I am hoping the brownies won't derail me too badly. I thought it would be better to make a healthier treat at home this week than buying cookies or something with absolutely no redeeming value. At least this way I will be getting several servings of black beans!

Here are my weekly goals for the week.

1) Complete week 2 of Hal Higdon's 10k training plan.

The training plan for week 2 is:

Monday--Stretch and strength (30 day shred and jillian michael's yoga meltdown)
Tuesday--2.5 mile run (may aim for 3)
Wednesday--30 minute cross (aiming for 1 hour)
Thursday--2 mile run + strength
Saturday--40 minute cross (1 hour)
Sunday--3.5 mile run

2) Eat at least 5 clean(er) meals.

3) Lose weight.  No number this week.  I just want the scale to move in the right direction.

I will check in next week with an update on how I did.

Operation Skinny Jeans

Sunday, March 24, 2013

3.12 Miles Done

Today the training plan called for 3 miles and the weather report called for rain.  Not a good combo.  I looked outside as soon as it got light out and while the ground looked wet, it wasn't raining at that moment so I got into my running clothes and headed out, hoping for an hour long window for my run.  I wasn't alone.  It was early, but the diehard exercisers were out there with me.  

I was convinced that the sky was going to open up and pour at any minute so I ran as hard as I could.  I was really happy with my time.  At an average pace of 12:48/mile I was running faster than the last time I ran that route and I finished in 39:59.  Been a while since I've seen a sub 40 5k!  I'm focused on increasing my distance right now, but I want to start adding speed work into my routine at some point.  I want to be one of those people who can comfortably run 10 minute miles.  I can't even imagine going that fast right now, but a few months ago I couldn't imagine running at all.  Sometimes miracles happen.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Hike in Percy Warner Park

Percy Warner Park
Can we talk about how I have the strangest timing in the world?  I decided to get up this morning and check out Percy Warner Park for the first time and after I had spent a couple of hours dodging bikers, unleashed dogs, and a handful of cars on the trail, I got home and found an email in my inbox about how the student wellness group at my law school would be leading a hike this afternoon in Percy Warner Park.  Oh well.  It might have been nice to have someone point out which trails are which and all that, but this way I got to choose my own adventure as I strolled, including wandering for a spell on one of the unpaved paths just to see what was at the top of a fairly steep hill.  

Percy Warner Park
This might have been the first time I've been hiking since my Girl Scout days and I have to say it was a lot more fun than I remembered.  I stumbled upon some really pretty views and I look forward to going back again.  My phone died towards the end of my hike and I wound up cutting the hike shorter than I otherwise would have because I can't handle nature without a book or music to listen to and some way to take pictures.  Communing with nature is great and all but I need something to focus on besides the sound of scampering squirrels and the occasional woodpecker.  Anyway, here is my hike according to Fitbit:

I was a little bummed that I didn't make it to 20,000 steps, but I didn't want today's cross training to interfere with tomorrow's running.  The route I walked was super hilly and since I am supposed to run 3 miles tomorrow I want to make sure my legs are pretty fresh.

Once I got home I wound up eating a quick lunch and taking a really long nap.  It was glorious and when I woke up I made dinner.  I discovered Jennie-O frozen turkey burgers in Walmart the last time I went grocery shopping so I threw one on the George Foreman grill and topped it with fat free cheese and garlic and lime salsa.  I included some sweet potato fries for good measure.  It was basically fabulous.  

Jennie-O turkey burger w/ fat free cheese and salsa on a
Healthy Life whole wheat bun. Sweet potato fries on the side.

All in all I had a pretty good day.  Here's hoping for another good day and a great run tomorrow!

Weekly Weigh-In

I keep track of my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal and have linked the app with Fitbit so that Fitbit can create fun charts showing me my calories eaten versus my calories burned.  The calories burned data is based on how many steps I have taken and other workouts for which I have tracked and entered my calorie burn.  The calories eaten data is based on the foods I enter into MyFitnessPal.  None of it is 100% precise, but I record my meals as accurately as I can and typically use my heart rate monitor to track how many calories I burn during my workouts, running and otherwise.  I have found that this system works really well for me in terms of keeping track of my diet and making sure that I'm not eating too many or too few calories.  Here is what my calories eaten versus burned looked like this week:

Based on this chart I knew that I should lose weight this week, but since I weighed myself on Wednesday and had gained almost a pound, I was almost certain that the scale was not planning to tell me sweet things and make me feel special today.  That's why I was so excited when I weighed myself this morning and saw this:

I was down 0.8 since last week!  Is it as good as the numbers I got the last few weeks?  No, but it is  much better than gaining.  After my weigh in I made myself a big breakfast.  I toasted a healthy life bun and topped it with chocolate PB2, egg whites, Butterball turkey bacon, and watermelon chunks.  Not too shabby for 413 calories!

The rest of my day will depend on what the weather does.  It's supposed to be rainy and cool all weekend and if that happens I'm going to cross train at the gym then clean my apartment.  If there is a window of good weather, I am going to cross train outside and then clean my apartment.  No matter what the weather does the apartment must be cleaned.  And the laundry done.  Oh the laundry.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Clean(er) Eats

I try not to weigh myself more than once a week, but this week I was worried that my sore muscles would lead to weight gain the same way sore muscles led to weight gain when I first started running.  I know that sounds weird, but I read somewhere that sore muscles retain water to heal themselves.  The water your muscles retain makes you gain weight temporarily.  Eventually your weight will go back to normal, but in the meantime you have to deal with the horror of working out hard, stepping on the scale, and finding out that not only did you not lose weight from all your hard work, but you have gained it.  I'm sure you know where I'm going with this.  I got on the scale a few days ago and my weight was up by almost a pound.  (Insert string of expletives here. Get creative with it. I know I did.)

My official weigh in isn't until tomorrow morning, but I'm not feeling particularly optimistic.  I'm trying not to feel too discouraged, though.  I went to the grocery store today and picked up a cart-ful of healthy eats for next week to make sure that my meals are on point even if the scale doesn't show it.  I started with lunch today.  I made myself a Greek egg white omelette with egg whites, diced Roma tomato, spinach,  onion, grilled chicken, and reduced fat feta.  I ate it with a toasted Healthy Life bun.  The whole meal was only 359 calories.  Not bad!

Greek Omelette and Healthy Life Bun
I have been meaning to try the Spicy Shrimp and Polenta Medallions recipe from Black Girl's Guide to Weight Loss and today I finally bought all the ingredients.  I plan to make several modifications to the recipe to make it fit my needs more closely.  She is following a clean eating diet which advocates the use of healthy oils so she actually fries the sliced polenta in canola oil.  Properly fried foods shouldn't be greasy, but I am counting calories rather than following a strict clean eating plan so I don't want to add any additional calories to my meal with oil.  As a result I am using cooking spray to pan sear my polenta instead of oil.  Additionally, I bought frozen pre-cooked shrimp with the tail off so I really only have to season and reheat my shrimp.  I am most likely going to steam them in a Ziploc Zip'n Steam bag and call it a day.  I used microwave steam cooking bags a lot in college and they were amazing.  Since I'm only cooking for me I frequently want to make a single serving of food.  These bags make it easy to cook one serving of meat without having a ton of leftovers that I will wind up throwing away.  Here's how the recipe turned out: 

Most of the flavors in the dish were new to me and I was kind of proud of myself for trying something different.  I still have half the shrimp and half the polenta and plan to use both in other recipes later.  Shrimp pasta?  Beef and mushrooms with polenta?  Sounds like a plan.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Good Run

Technically Tuesdays are supposed to be a 2.5 mile run and Thursdays are supposed to be a 2 mile run, but I wound up switching the days this week.  My legs felt really good once I started running so I went ahead and ran 3.1 miles.  Even though the training plan said I was supposed to do strength training today as well, I decided to wait until tomorrow.  Fridays are rest days on the training plan, but level one of the 30 Day Shred only takes twenty minutes or so.  I figured it wouldn't hurt if I did a twenty minute workout on my rest day.  In any case I'm proud of myself for sticking to the training plan this week, albeit loosely.  Next week I will stick to the gospel according to Hal Higdon with a little more devotion.  This week I was a fair weather follower at best.

Anyway, my run went really well today.  I tried a new out and back route that might be my favorite yet. The first part was mostly downhill and even though that meant running uphill on the way back I enjoyed the challenge today.  It was cold for Nashville in March, but fortunately I love running outside when it's cold.  I started listening to Bitter Blood, the latest Morganville Vampire book.  Just in case you can't tell, I'm a complete sucker for all things fantasy/young adult and particularly love characters with an affinity for snark.  Feel free to mock me while I let my literary freak flag fly.

At this point, I'm just really excited about the coming weekend.  I intend to try a few new recipes, get a lot of sleep, maybe go hiking, and hopefully start working on my outlines for finals. So much to do, so little time, so excited to start tackling that list like a football player on steroids.  I have no idea how a football player on steroids would tackle things, but I imagine they would be single-minded and powerful and capable of taking down anything.  It's gonna happen, I tell you.  It's gonna happen.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cross Training

Today the training plan called for 30 minutes of cross training so I dragged myself down to the gym and listened to the last chapter of Hounded: The Iron Druid Chronicles while I sweated it out on the elliptical.  Decent book, decent elliptical session (despite my sore legs), and an all around decent day.  Tomorrow I have a 2.5-3 mile run planned.  Gotta keep the training plan party going.  I'm coming for you, 6.2.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Struggle Bus

Y'all, it has been Tuesday on the struggle bus around here.  Apparently I spoke too soon about the kettlebell workout I did yesterday not being challenging enough because my legs felt sore when I started my run today.  Between that and getting an epic stomach ache mid-run I only made it 2 miles despite my plan to run 3.  Given, I walked at least a mile to get to the track I ran on today, but that is just me making excuses.  I think what I will do is switch days on the training plan. Thursday was supposed to be a 2 mile run plus strength so I will just run 2.5-3 miles on Thursday along with a little 30 Day Shred action after I run.  Boom.  One problem solved.   

The next problem today has been food.  Normally I eat really filling meals that keep me satisfied for hours, but this morning I was craving that 99% fat free Chef Boyardee so I ate that instead of the oatmeal I had planned to eat.  I was hungry again immediately, but I didn't want to use up too many calories so early in the day.  I ate lunch earlier than planned and got hungry again a few hours later.  Basically I have spent the day wanting to eat all the food everywhere immediately. It has been problematic at best.  Why isn't there a side-effect free pill that makes your brain think you just ate a turkey burger and a whopping piece of strawberry cake? Annnyywaaayyyy...

Tomorrow the training plan calls for half an hour of cross training.  That's cool.  I've been spending so much time exploring local parks that I haven't spent any quality time with my favorite elliptical at the gym.  Yay for training plans! Hopefully in a couple of months I will be writing a post about the time I ran 10k and lived to tell about it! 

Weekly Goals Check In

Last week I decided to participate in the Weekly Goals Link Party over at Operation Skinny Jeans. My goals were as follows:

1) Run at least 3 times, 3 miles or more per run
2) Do Level one of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred at least once
3) Do at least 2 hour long elliptical sessions, level 8 or above.
4) Stay within my calorie budget
5) Lose at least 1 pound

I guess I should probably let you know how I did, huh?  I did run 3 times (here, here, and here), but one of my runs was only 2.84 miles.  Not quite what I was aiming for, but pretty damn close! I did the 30 Day Shred Level One here and I did one elliptical session on the same day.  I didn't get around to doing a second hour long session on the elliptical, but I did a lot of walking last week as you can see from my weekly Fitbit report.

I did manage to stay within my calorie budget last week.  I used some of the extra calories I burned with exercise to work several treats into my plan and it was awesome! As for goal 5, I outdid myself.  When I weighed in I was happy to see that I was down 2.8 pounds bringing my total up to 30 pounds on the dot.  Not bad for my first week of goal setting!

This week's goals are as follows:

1) Stick to Week 1 of Hal Higdon's 10k training plan
2) Try a new recipe
3) Lose at least 1 pound.

Operation Skinny Jeans

Training Plan

I have been stuck in a 3.1 mile rut for a while now.  I have gotten a little faster but I haven't been progressing in terms of distance the way that I want to.  The Couch-2-5k program got me started with running but after I finished with that I just started winging it.  It has not really worked.  I need a new goal to work toward so I decided to start working through the Hal Higdon beginner 10k training plan.

I started the program yesterday and Mondays are supposed to be stretch and strength days so I did an hour long beginning kettlebell workout.  I wore my Garmin with the GPS turned off so that I could track my heart rate and calories burned.

Compared to the 30 Day Shred this workout was slow and low intensity.  There's not a lot I can do about the slow part, but I think after I get the kettlebell basics down I will move up to a heavier kettlebell so that the workouts are more challenging.  For now I'm going to alternate the 30 Day Shred tape and the kettlebell workouts.  Hopefully between the two workouts I will get in a fair amount of strength training each week.

The plan calls for a 2.5 mile run for the first three Tuesdays and a 3 mile run for the last 5 weeks.  Since I have been consistently running 3 miles anyway I think I will bump those first three Tuesday runs up to 3 miles.  If I was just trying to build up to running 10k I would follow the program strictly, but I am trying to lose weight and build up my mileage.  Running around 10 miles per week helped me break through my recent weight loss plateau so I don't want to stray too far from that number while I follow this plan.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Step Off

The weather reports on both my phone and my computer lied to me this morning and told me it was going to rain.  I finished my breakfast, realized that since it wasn't yet raining I should get my steps in for the day, and headed out for a long walk.  My goal was to hit 20,000 steps again today, but it started to look cloudy so I quit at 15,000.  Fast forward to after dinner.  It still hadn't started to rain and I still wanted that last 5,000 steps so I threw on some leggings and an oversized sweatshirt and headed out in all my no makeup, messy-haired glory hoping against hope that I wouldn't see anyone who recognized me.

Approximately ten minutes into my walk a guy from one of my classes ran past me and waved and for the rest of my walk I felt really visible.  I felt the same way when I started the Couch to 5k program last semester.  Like people were staring at me and judging me because I could barely run for a whole minute let alone a whole mile.  I felt like everyone saw me when I had to walk before one of the running intervals was over, or like everyone who drove past me was laughing at the big girl on the sidewalk who was trying to run.  For a really long time I refused to run anywhere but a local park with a one mile loop because I figured fewer people would see me there.  I thought I had gotten over my embarrassment at exercising in public, especially now that I have lost weight and built my way up to running 5k, but for a little while today that old feeling came back.  

And then I thought about it and realized that I don't really care if strangers are judging me because I have lost 30 pounds and I feel awesome.  Awesome enough to stare right back and keep walking.  Haters need to step off.  I'm a new girl and I'm working hard to get my sexy back.  I may not be there yet, but I'm still fabulous.  

Salsa Chicken Recipe

Salsa Chicken
Yesterday I made salsa chicken in my slow cooker.  There are tons of salsa chicken recipes on the Internets, but most of them were too much trouble for my lazy bones, so I did my own thing and while it doesn't look very pretty, it tasted great!

You Will Need:
2-4 Frozen Chicken Breasts (fresh works too, but the cooking times will be different)
1 Cup Salsa (I used Great Value Lime and Garlic, but choose your own adventure here)
2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning
Slow Cooker Liner (optional but recommended)

Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker liner (you can find them in the aluminum foil aisle at the grocery store).  If, unlike me, you enjoy doing dishes and are okay with having to scrape food goop off the bottom of the slow cooker after dinner, feel free to skip this step.  Next, add the chicken breasts to your crockpot. I used 3 frozen ones.  Sprinkle the chicken breast liberally with taco seasoning.  Pour salsa over the chicken breast and cook on high for 4 hours or until the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Serve with your favorite sides.  Yesterday I had it over brown rice with a side of grapes, but I plan to have leftovers with a slow cooker baked sweet potato.  I also imagine this would be yummy as a taco filling.  

In other news, I went for an after dinner walk yesterday since it was still light out and I felt the need to outdo myself on Fitbit steps.  The walk was perfect and by the time I was done I had walked more than 22,000 steps for the day.

I passed a Subway on the way home and decided that I had more than earned a treat for the day.  I got myself two cookies and ate them guilt free with a cup of tea when I got home.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Better than I was before

The weather in Nashville was gorgeous (sunny and low 70's) so I headed out for a run. I have never run in 70 degree weather before and was convinced I would be boiling hot even in short sleeves, but there was a pretty strong breeze blowing for most of the run and it kept me cooler and less sweaty than I would otherwise have been.  

I ultimately decided that I wanted to take a new route where I would run out 3.1 miles and then walk back to make sure I got in my 10,000 daily steps.  The route ended up being much hillier than I remembered and I wanted to stop every time I saw the road ahead of me start to slope upward, but I made myself finish the full 3.1 miles so I could say I ran another 5k this week.  I was pretty happy with my time considering the hills, plus the extra effort meant I burned more calories than I normally would running this distance.

I also made a decision to share my weight on the blog today.  It's a little bit scary to put it all out there like this, but realistically, I only know of a handful of people who read my blog and they're all relatives who (hopefully) won't judge.  Without further ado, here is what happened at today's weigh-in:

I was down 2.8 pounds from last week!  My starting weight back in September was 184.6 which means that I have lost a grand total of 30 pounds since I decided to get healthy.  This also means that I have officially lost the weight I gained during my first year of law school and am back to my pre law school weight.  I still have a long way to go to get to a healthy weight for someone my height, but I am incredibly proud of the progress I have made.  

When I started losing weight my Body Mass Index was in the obese range for the second time in my life.  In middle school I weighed 216.4 pounds and I swore after I lost most of the weight in high school that I would never be that big again.  When I stepped on the scale last semester and saw how close I had come to going back where I came from I decided that I had to make some changes.  So that's what I did.

I have always wanted to be the kind of person who got better with age.  Right now I feel like I'm well on my way.  I am making a promise to myself right now (and since I am making it Internet official I have to stick to it).  I am going to stay on this healthy path for the rest of my life and I am going to wake up every day and strive to be better than I was before.  I am worth the sacrifices it will take to have a healthy life.  I am going to remember that from now on and the next time I find myself going down that wrong road to weight gain I am going to turn myself around before I lose my way and my weight gets out of control again.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Decisions, decisions

I was still a little sore from yesterday's run so I decided to take full advantage of today's 70 degree temperatures and went for a long walk.  It was pretty glorious.  I wound up having a harrowing experience in purgatory going to Walmart immediately after my walk and since I still have some energy I think I will play around with one of my workout tapes.  Maybe.  Possibly.  Or I could watch Grey's and go to bed early.  Decisions, decisions.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Today was a good day.  Despite a mishap that involved a hand towel falling in my toilet (RIP towel. RIP) and taking so long to finish my reading that I only had thirty minutes to get ready, I still managed to get to class on time.  Early even.  On top of that I headed out for a run an hour or so after lunch and despite still feeling slightly full I managed to finish my run without cramps.

It was technically my fastest 5k to date, but I'm not really sure if it's a fair comparison since I ran on a track today and, unlike my usual routes, it did not have any hills.  In any case, I'm improving. The first time I ran 5k was on January 26 and my time was 42:09 with an average pace of 13:32/mile. I ran 5k three times in February, but my fastest time was February 17 with a time of 39:41 and an average pace of 12:48/mile.  Today, I ran 5k in  39:25 with an average pace of 12:40/mile.  I know I would get faster, well, faster, if I did speed work, but that is a project for another day.  Today I'm just excited that I tried running somewhere new and I ran faster than I did last month.  

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Things I Wish I Had Done

Today while I really should have been making myself understand my very technical Securities Regulation reading I was instead taking selfies while I inhaled a cup of Stash Chocolate Mint Oolong Tea.  Turns out what I should have been doing was perusing my email.  If I had, I would have known that class was going to be cut short today because of an important speaker whose talk would conflict with class.  I thought about peacing out as soon as class was over, but I went to hear the speaker instead.  If it's important enough to cut an hour-long class down to thirty minutes, it has to be good, right?

I didn't get home from school until an hour and a half after my normal dinner time and I was ravenous.  I did not eat a particularly healthy dinner, but I did stay within my calorie budget for the day and I met my goal of getting in 10,000 steps.  It's all about the small victories.

I was satisfied with my Fitbit stats for the day.  If I had not gone to hear the speaker at school I might have been able to fit a run into my evening, but oh well.  I'll have to find time for a workout tomorrow. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


Fact: My afternoon class was canceled today.
Fact: It was raining so I couldn't run/walk outside.
Fact: I did not want to work out today.
Fact: I made myself do Level One of the 30 day Shred and one hour on the elliptical anyway.
Fact: I am basically a baller, shot caller.
Fact: That is all.

Weekly Goals

I am always looking for new fitness/weight loss blogs to read for ideas and inspiration.  Recently I came across Operation Skinny Jeans, a blog written by two women who have a common goal: getting into skinny jeans.  They wrote a post about weekly goal setting recently and I realized that I always make big long term goals but fail miserably at setting short term ones.  Today I am attempting to change that. So, without further ado, my goals for the week are the following:

1) Run at least 3 times, 3 miles or more per run
2) Do Level one of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred at least once
3) Do at least 2 hour long elliptical sessions, level 8 or above.
4) Stay within my calorie budget
5) Lose at least 1 pound (hopefully the first 4 goals will contribute to this one!)

At the end of the week I will check in and let you know how I did!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

So Long Spring Break

My day started out with a morning run.  I was aiming for 3 miles, but wound up cutting it a bit short because my stomach started cramping.  Today is the last day of spring break for me so I decided to make up for my abbreviated run by taking an afternoon walk.
Morning Run
The walk was long and perfect.   Last year I got an Audible subscription and I made good use of it this afternoon as I wandered around.  I read constantly growing up, but never had time after I graduated from high school.  I still don't have time to sit down and read anything other than my textbooks, but at least with my Audible subscription I can continue to enjoy books for fun.  

Afternoon Walk
After I got back from my walk I made the Spaghetti Squash Boat recipe from Skinnytaste. 
Evening Meal
It was a yummy and relatively easy dinner to make.  I included lots of pictures because my grandmother "couldn't imagine" what the spaghetti squash would look like.  She has never had it so the picture above is dedicated to her!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Exploring Nashville

When I came to Nashville for law school I was not happy about it.  I lived in New Haven during college and while I didn't particularly like that city either, I loved the people I met there and all the wonderful opportunities those four years brought me.  Nashville, on the other hand, was just...different. I came in with low expectations and I didn't really bother to get to know it the way I got to know New Haven.  My mom worked here growing up and when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in high school my doctors were all here.  Nashville was a place I came because I was sick and needed treatment, not a place that I could ever love.  

Fast forward to September 2012 when I decided to get to a healthy weight once and for all. I started by walking around my neighborhood, but quickly became bored with the same old routes. That's when I started branching out and looking for new places to exercise.  Today I discovered Richland Creek Greenway.

Duly noted.

I had already gone for a morning run so I only walked there today, but it was a really good walk. It was 64 degrees out, the trail was neither overcrowded nor deserted and by the time I made my way back to my car my legs were pleasantly tired.  

Fitbit Stats 03/09/2013
In my world according to fitbit I had pretty good day!

Friday, March 8, 2013


A company called eShakti sent me a dress to review for my daily style blog and when I uploaded the photos from my camera I found some pictures from just before I started my diet last semester.  The side by side view of the pictures I took for my review and the pictures of my pre-diet self made for a great progress photo, so here ya go:

It's amazing what seven months and a lot of hard work can do.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lesson Learned

If the last two days of my dieting and exercise life were a television show, it would be called Ashley on the Struggle Bus.  I'm going to choose to blame it on Aunt Flow. TMI? Too bad. That's just how I roll.  I was visiting family earlier this week and, as usual, it was really hard to stay on plan when I did not have complete control of my environment and the food that was in it. I would never bring copious amounts of cookies and other sweets into my home because I know that I have trouble having just one of anything sweet.  Unfortunately my relatives are not really on the buy one treat at a time wavelength and there were, among other things, chocolate peanut butter no bake cookies in the house. I definitely fell off the wagon where those were concerned. Weight loss lesson learned: reaching my health and fitness goals my mean staying out of poor environments for the time being.  It would not be a good idea for an alcoholic to frequent bars.  It is an equally bad idea for someone who overeats to frequent places that are full of trigger foods.  

Despite my poor food decisions, I did my best to stay on track in terms of exercise.  

And today I made better decisions with regard to what I ate. I even made my first ever batch of quinoa. I made it in a rice cooker.  It wasn't half bad. I ate it with Honey Teriyaki Beef stir fry.

I think I might use the leftover quinoa to make a sweet breakfast dish in the morning.  I think the natural flavor of the quinoa might work well enough with peanut butter.  If it's gross I can always have pancakes...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And I'm Back

I have not really mentioned this before, but I have Crohn's Disease. Even when I am feeling fairly well, I still have to get regular checkups and undergo periodic procedures to make sure my body is still functioning as well as it can with an autoimmune condition.  I had one of those checkups scheduled for yesterday which meant that all day Sunday I had to go on a clear liquid diet.  Good times.  I knew the lack of food would make me pretty weak later in the day on Sunday and I certainly didn't want to work up an appetite so I limited myself to a 1 mile run at a tempo (for me) pace on Sunday morning.

On Monday I had to be up bright and early for my procedure.  I was tired and crazy hungry, but at the end of the day it was really good news: according to my gastroenterologist my Crohn's Disease is currently in remission. Pause for a happy dance. Okay go. As soon as the anesthesia wore off and I was allowed to go home my mom and cousins (who came to take me home after I woke up) took me straight to Subway where I ordered a footlong turkey sandwich on Italian and two cookies. I was in no way ashamed about it.  Raw vegetables make my stomach hurt so I only got mustard on my sandwich.  I ate every bite of it. Don't judge me until you have gone over 24 hours with nothing but clear liquid!

Even with all the extra rest days my Fitbit stats weren't too bad.  Between February 26 and March 3 I walked/ran 26.15 miles and climbed 89 floors.  I was happy with that!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

If you can't say something nice...

There have been a lot of times when other people have made my life much harder than it had to be. Bullies who liked to fling racial slurs at me in high school? Check.  College roommates who made my living situation miserable? Check. Creepers who think it's appropriate to honk at me and call me a bitch when I ignore them trying to holla at me through a car window? Check. One of the most disconcerting times other people have made my life harder is when I have tried to lose weight. 

Before we get to that, though, let's rewind a little. I did not start my life overweight.  In fact, I was a healthy weight in preschool.
Somewhere around 1990 when I was in preschool.
Things started to go downhill after that, though.  I grew up in a stereotypical Black family and we ate a lot of stereotypical soul food at home--deep fried everything, vegetables smothered in bacon grease to add "flavor," and lots of rich high calorie desserts.  On top of that the house was always full of junk food.  I was too little to know what eating food like that would mean for my body later and even if I had known I had very little choice in what food I was given so I ate and the consequences showed up as I got older.

I think I was 7 or 8 here.
I was 8 or 9 here.
Middle School
Why am i telling you this story? Because this is not the first time I have tried to reach a healthy weight.  The first time was somewhere between 8th and 9th grade when poor nutrition and lack of exercise helped me reach a very unhealthy 216.4 pounds. I was miserable. I had been made fun of since 5th grade (that was the year a kid in my class gave everyone those little Valentine's Day cards and reserved one for me that said "A Big Card for a Big Woman.") I had braces and bad skin and on top of that I was huge compared to the other girls in my class who were able to  cheerlead and play basketball, none of which I was able, because of my size, to do.  

One of my aunts offered to pay for me to join Weight Watchers over the summer and I decided to try it.  At the time Weight Watchers was still using the original points system and I did really well on the program.  When the school year started, it was much harder to stay on plan because smack dab in the middle of my day was a huge diet land mine: school lunch.  

Lunch at my high school was like a junk food lover's dream.  Pizza in one line, burgers or fried chicken sandwiches in another, sides were always unhealthy like mashed potatoes loaded with butter, buttery rolls, or french fries.  They did have a salad bar, but I have Crohn's Disease and raw vegetables make me really sick at my stomach. I took one look at the available options and knew that I would gain weight if I ate a school lunch and then turned around and ate whatever my family was having at home.  

If you don't believe me, consider this story from ABC news about school lunch guidelines.  The article talks about how recent changes in the guidelines require that school lunches contain more fruits and vegetables than they did when I was in high school.  While this is an improvement (since ketchup counted as a vegetable when I was in school), the lunches are still supposed to contain between 750 and 850 calories. 

I was extremely sedentary at the time and probably weighed around 180 pounds.  Based on that information I could probably have eaten around 2,000 calories per day if I wanted to maintain my weight, but since I was trying to lose weight I needed to eat fewer calories than that.  I have explained how your basal metabolic rate works before on this blog, but let's use this opportunity to go through an example.  Suppose I was aiming to lose 1 pound per week. I would need to create a calorie deficit of 3500 calories per week, a goal I could accomplish either by eating fewer calories per day or by burning more calories per day by working out.  I was really inactive as a teenager so I chose the eat fewer calories option.

In order to lose 1 pound per week I needed to eat 500 fewer calories per day than I burned (which would add up to a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories each week).  Since I burned around 2,000 calories per day, my maximum calorie intake would need to be around 1,500 calories per day in order to lose a pound a week.  

Back to those school lunches.  If I ate one of those 850 calorie school lunches (assuming that my school's lunches weren't more than that given the new requirements that the lunches be healthier), I would only be able to eat 650 calories for the rest of the day, breakfast, dinner, and snacks.  Since I knew that my food at home would also be high in calories, I ultimately decided to eat breakfast at home, have a Slimfast bar or other light snack at school, and then eat dinner with my family at home.  I was taking in more than enough calories over the course of the day, but because I was "skipping lunch" my mom accused me of having an eating disorder and forced me to see an eating disorder specialist for over a year. 

It was incredibly galling. I was following a highly regarded weight loss program and eating a healthy number of calories for the first time in my life only to have my own mother try to stop the healthy changes I was making in my life. I'm sure she thought she was helping me, and I'm not telling this story to attack her, but I also think it is a really good illustration of how little people know about weight loss and food. There are certainly arguments for eating 3 or more smaller meals per day, but if you go that route each of your meals can only be around 300 calories each. You can't eat multiple 800+ calorie meals each day and expect to lose or maintain your weight. In terms of nourishing your body and reaching/maintaining a healthy weight you are going to have to eat the appropriate number of calories for your body. Whether you eat those calories in a single meal or spread across more meals is up to you.

I know my mom really did not understand that point, but you should.  Weight loss is a choose your own adventure story, not a have someone choose your adventure for you story. The beauty of being an adult is that no one can meddle in my weight loss journey this time around quite the way they did in the past.  I do my grocery shopping. I make my food.  I count my calories. I am responsible for my success or my failure.  Even so, there are still people who make annoying comments when I mention that I am trying to lose weight.
My goal weight has always been somewhere between 130-135 pounds which is smack dab in the middle of the healthy weight range for someone who is 5'3. I know how much weight I need to lose to reach that healthy range, but lately I have started telling people that "I want to reach a healthy weight for someone my height" rather than telling them the number of pounds I want need to lose.
When I mention how much weight I am trying to lose someone inevitably tells me "Don't lose too much weight now."  I typically respond with a polite "I won't," but the reality is that comments like that are rife with ignorance and never fail to make me furious.  There is some serious information asymmetry between me and the other party in the conversation because I am holding a lot of information that the other party is not.  I am the only one who knows how much I weigh.  The other party may think they know what I weigh, but until they have seen the number on the scale they are just making assumptions based on a lack of information.

As the person who knows all the relevant information (like my height and current weight), and who has spent a fair amount of time educating herself about body mass index and the optimal weight range for someone my height, I know that I could get down to 120 pounds and still be at a perfectly healthy weight.  I know that my goal weight range is actually at the high end of the healthy weight range for a 5'3 woman.  Even if I did not know all of those things I would still know that the other person in the conversation does not know my life and is not in a position to comment intelligently on my weight loss.

I don't know what drives people to make comments like "Don't lose too much weight!"  Maybe it comes from a place of jealousy or maybe it comes from a place of concern.  Either way, it is patronizing and unappreciated.  If someone is trying to change their life for the better do not presume that they do not know what they are doing or that you know better than them what their weight should be.  It suggests that they are unable to do their own research about weight loss and make the decisions that are in their best interests. It suggests you, the person with the least information of the two of you, is in the best position to make the best decision for someone else. Condescending much?  

The next time someone tells you they are trying to lose weight, the appropriate response is to congratulate them on their journey, ask if they have tried any new recipes or products, and wish them luck as they continue to make changes and strive to be healthier. Sometimes you have to remember the lessons you learned as a child.  In this case, the appropriate lesson is if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.   

Has anyone ever made an upsetting comment about your weight loss journey?