Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Review - 84 pounds down (with pics)

2012 has been a very eventful year for me. 

Looking back, I could barely walk a block at the beginning of the year.  My asthma was a constant problem, and my wheezing was known to keep me up at night.  I even broke a chair in January in front of a roomful of my friends (to be fair, it was a cheap chair, poorly assembled, but it was still my gigantic butt that was in the chair at the time that it broke, so it's my bad). 
The chair in question.  Yes, the incident scarred me for life.
My back was constantly sore - I could not stand for more than a minute or walk any distance without severe pain in my back.  I skipped breakfast and lunch, then ate minimal dinners, and was not losing weight in any significant way.  I was depressed and sore and constantly exhausted, and my family feared for my health. 

Since those dark days, and since breaking that chair (!) I started exercising, started paying attention to what I was consuming, began drinking water instead of diet Pepsi, stopped drinking quite so much alcohol, and began tracking my food.  Somewhere during the summer, working out became a daily habit with me (I haven't missed a workout in 31 weeks).  Sometime around then my food cravings stopped, as well (I still enjoy food, but I no longer binge or crave the same things I used to).

I went from working out on the recumbent bike for 7 minutes a day 5 times per week in January to 50 minutes on the elliptical machine, 6 days a week, plus free weights 3 times per week by December.  I have gone from not being able to walk a block without pain to being able to walk 5 km in a stretch with ease.  On Labour Day this fall the Nerd and I even went for a 6 mile walk.  Sure, we were both exhausted by the end and we might have had sunstroke and I was burned red as a lobster, but we did it.  And we could do it again. 

And I have lost weight along the way. 

My official end of the week check has me down 84 pounds from this time last year, for a weight of 249.9 pounds.  That's 25% of my original body weight, and 50% of my weight loss target - - gone.  From this week onwards, I have officially lost more weight than I still have left to lose.  To put these numbers into perspective, Dominique Moceanu weighed less than 84 pounds when she competed at the Olympics in 1996 - - I have officially lost a person's worth of weight (sure, a tiny person, but a person nonetheless). 

My immediate short term goal now is to get down to 237 pounds, for a BMI of 35.  This would put me into Obese Class I (according to the Government of Canada), which is a huge improvement from Obese Class III where I started.  With luck, I should be able to hit this target in about a month or so.  My next major goal will be to reach the 100 pounds lost mark, which should happen in another couple of months.  If things continue to go well, my next objective would be to reach a BMI of 30 (at around 203 pounds), which puts me at merely overweight (instead of obese).  This particular milestone would be a huge one, as I have been obese for about a decade now.  From there, it is a mere hop, skip and a jump to Onederland, or 199 pounds.  This could happen as early as July or August, depending on how well I stick to my program.

So much for the short term and mid term goals.  What are my numbers so far?
I lost 4.5" off my various bits and pieces this month, despite attending 9 (!) social events.  In addition to Christmas dinner with the Nerd's family, there was my firm's festive non-denominational holiday party, lunch out with my assistant, and dinners with friends (3) as well as a wedding, a family get-together, and a Boxing Day party.  Thank god for the elliptical machine, is all I say.  So far I have lost almost 34" off my body compared to when I started, more than the bustline of the average working model.  These inches translate to 3 full dress sizes lost.

 My fasting blood sugars this month have been fantastic.  Well, fantastic for me, anyways.  Not normal, but lower than last month, with 9 normal readings, and 4 normal readings in a row at the beginning of the month:

 The above chart shows my daily fasting blood sugar readings for the past 3 months.  Yellow readings indicate slightly elevated blood sugar (5.6 - 6.9 mmol/L), while green readings are normal (below 5.5 mmol/L).  I don't know what happened in October, but you can see November had some normal readings while December was my best month yet - - my fasting blood sugar average for the month was 5.7 (only slightly elevated), down from 5.8 last month.  Not normal yet, but certainly trending in the right direction. 

I can definitely see changes in my face over time as the weight has come off, as shown in the photographs, above.  While there may not be too much to distinguish between two photos taken one month apart, I can really see changes when comparing this month to last year at this time:

 The only constant between the two photographs is the unruly hair: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.  

Whatever I am doing seems to be working, so I my plan is to keep on doing it, consistently, in the coming year.  The Nerd and I are going to add some boxing to our routines, for interest and variety, and I am sure I will have a lot to say about that as I start trying it out.

In summary:

Pounds lost this month: 9.1
Total pounds lost: 84
Pounds still to lose: 82.8
Inches lost this month: 4.5" (33.9" total)
Clothing size: US/Can 20 (plus size 20)
Average fasting blood sugar: 5.7 (down 0.1)
Number of ankles: 0
Number of cankles: 2 (sigh)
Number of clavicles seen: 0 (I remain optimistic that these will appear one day ...)

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Some wins this week

It has been another productive workout week in the books.  I have managed to continue my consecutive days worked out streak alive, and now stand at 29 weeks without missing a workout.  For someone as good at rationalizing things as I am, this is something of a record. 

This consistency continues to pay off in terms of weight loss.  This week I lost a further pound, for a total of 81.5 pounds lost, to 252.4 pounds total.  Here's something - - workout out regularly, and eat sensible meals in manageable portions and you will lose weight - - nah, it will never catch on...

More than the weight loss, this week also saw some wins. 

My new workout clothes arrived this week from Go Figure (online at  My original workout capris (purchased a few months ago) were literally falling off me while I was on the elliptical recently.  That had the potential of getting quite embarrassing, and necessitated regular hitching up.  Definitely not for public show- - it's a good thing that I work out at home.  My first capris were in size 5 (22-24), and my new capris are in size 3 (18-20) and they fit fine ... with the potential to be too loose in the not too distant future, I can see.  Yay!

Another win this week is something that has snuck up on me.  A little back story is in order here.  Back when I was in grade 8, our gym class was primitive at best.  Our school did not have proper gymnastic equipment other than those ubiquitous blue mats.  For balance beams they used wooden benches turned upside down.  Instead of the normal balance beam width of about 10 cm, the wooden slats on the bottom of those benches were only about 5 cm wide.  This wasn't a problem for most girls who possess both a sense of balance and binocular vision.  But for yours truly, a veritable gazelle (not) and blind in one eye to boot, it was a disaster.  I fell off the end of a bench and carved open the front of my shin. To this day I have a divot in my leg from the accident. I don't remember the accident clearly, but judging from the scar, it must have been spectacular.

When I was at my heaviest I suffered from edema in my legs.  Sometimes the pressure in my lower legs would be so severe that the skin of my legs would be tight, hot and painful and would leak lymph fluid (and for the record, yes, I know that is a very unhealthy condition).  Because the scar from my gymnastics incident was less flexible than the rest of my skin, it left a huge dent in my shin.  My scar was so deeply indented you could practically store candy in it.

With my weight loss, however, the edema has decreased to the point where it is essentially gone, in no small measure due to my increased activity levels.  It has been more than a year since I have noticed the edema being problematic, and just this past week I noted something else - - my scar was no longer a deep groove.  Rather, it was only a slight indentation, barely noticeable.  In fact, my scar had virtually disappeared.  This is a big deal, because it is not merely a superficial cosmetic change - - it reflects major improvements in my overall circulation that can only be good for me in the long run.  As a side bonus, this has made shaving my leg much easier, as I no longer have to try and shave inside a hole in my leg.  Hey - I will take the wins where I find them, thank you very much!

This week has been very social and this weekend in particular I have been enjoying baked goods provided by one of our friends.  In consequence, I think it is probably a good time to step up my workout routine, just in time for the holidays. 

So this week I am adding another 5 minutes to my elliptical routine, for 50 minutes x 6 days a week.  This is officially the most cardio I have ever done in my life, and I have to say that it was easier than I expected this morning.  I am not burning up the strides per minute, but I am able to handle the time just fine, which is very satisfying.  My fitness levels are such a long way from where I was when I started.

The other change I have made to my program is to add another set of weights to my free weight routine.  I am now doing 3 sets of 12 reps using the 6 pound weights.  I have really started to see some toning beginning to happen in my arms, and I am quite keen to continue to see progress.

For the new year I am exploring taking up some boxing routines to add yet another element into my fitness routine.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Power of Habit

I have been reading the book The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg) on the elliptical machine recently.  Sometimes non-fiction can be a little dry and tedious, but this is a very enjoyable - and informative - book.

Those who know me know that I was a person who had some extremely bad habits when it came to food and exercise.

My habit when it came to exercise was to avoid it - at all costs.  My habit when it came to food was to indulge in high fat, high carb, high sugar foods, to the point of physical discomfort.  I would skip meals during the day and then binge at night when I got home from the office.

I had known that I needed to do something about my incredibly unhealthy lifestyle for a long time.  After all, you can only make excuses for not participating in life for so long before it starts to sound hollow.  I was not housebound, but I was dangerously close to it - - it was just too painful and exhausting to do many things. When my friend's chair collapsed under me at that dinner party last January, though, I knew things had to change. 

I have been working out since January, and working out without missing a workout since May.  What is interesting to me is that somewhere along the way, around July, the workouts stopped being tedious work, and started being part of my daily routine.  My workouts are not enjoyable to me, as such, but they're such an automatic part of my routine that I hardly ever seriously consider skipping.

Similarly, somewhere last spring I began to embrace vegetables.  Perhaps not with the fervour that I embrace cheese (!), but vegetables began making their presence known in meals last spring, and they're still part of my daily routine today.

My gradual lifestyle change has been a slow, incremental process, a little improvement at a time.  What I have never really understood until reading The Power of Habit is why I had the habits I did, how my behaviours reinforced these habits, and how habits can be changed.

Especially interesting to me are the author's comments regarding planning and visualization.  Apparently one very effective way to change eating habits is to keep a food diary.  The same could be said for reducing spending - - keep a spending log.  What these things do is make us aware of what we are doing, allowing us to make different, more conscious choices.  So many of our behaviours are unconscious, it is only by making a point of highlighting what we are doing that we can effectively change.

I started keeping a food diary with the MyFitnessPal app in July, and it was an eye-opening experience.  Well, initially horrifying, when I realized what I was consuming, and then eye-opening.

Putting my food in a diary made me accountable for what I was eating.  I had no excuses for making poor food choices, especially since there are so many points during each day when I can take corrective action.  If I am running high by lunch time, I can cut out snacks, or I can cut down on the dinner.  Worse case scenario, I could even add extra exercise if required.

This is not to say that I do not go over my target calories at times - - that happens to everyone.  But I am much more in control of what is going into my body than at any other point, which is a marvel.

Another interesting point in the book is the discussion about the importance of positive visualization.  Habits apparently arise in part because we anticipate a positive outcome from our actions.  Smokers are not physiologically addicted to nicotine within 10 hours of their last cigarette, but the emotional hook is terribly addictive - - the positive visualization of the pleasure of that first cigarette of the day is what keeps them lighting up.

To change habits, therefore, it is not enough to go through the motions (although that helps).  We have to visualize the positive results of our actions to really see an impact.  In my routine, I visualize entering each of my workouts into my various fitness apps and seeing progress charted out - - either lower blood sugar, or lower weight, or longer workouts, or whatever.  I also visualize how I will look when I reach my goal weight.

When my workouts are difficult, this kind of positive visualization really helps me push through.  Checking off another workout and continuing my workout streak is sometimes the only thing keeping me on that elliptical machine.

What the book also notes is that as new habits are established, they get easier over time.  Willpower is like a muscle that can be developed with practice.  In other words, each day that I avoid late night snacking makes it easier to avoid late night snacking in the future.

This book is really helping me to intellectually understand the things I am finding successful.  And knowledge is power.  Understanding why I act the way I do enables me to own my actions in a way that was not possible before.

Friday, 7 December 2012

80 pounds down ... it was a good week

For a week that started off so challengingly, it sure worked out well.  Even though I had to really push myself to work out Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, by Wednesday I was back in my stride and by this morning I was back to my old working out self - - contentedly working through my cardio without too much bother, and only occasionally clock watching.  

And the results: down a ridiculous 3.5 pounds, for a total of 80.5 pounds lost.  That is 24.1% of my pre-workout body weight, and 48% of my overall weight loss goal.  So, net, I am still not halfway to my goal, but it is tantalizingly close.  

I am not going to get ahead of myself and try and predict when I will hit the halfway mark, or when I will hit my next major goal, which is to lose 100 pounds.  Right now there are a lot of steps along the way to either of those goals - - for example, I remember being 242.5 pounds when the Nerd and I were first courting, and I am looking forward to hitting that weight again.  It is relatively unusual for me to know what I weighed on a particular date, since I took as few photos as I could as I packed on the pounds and I seldom weighed myself.  But on that day, I happened to do so, and I have a benchmark I can use to calibrate my weight loss.  It's like travelling back in time, except without the cool equipment.

This week I experienced something even more positive than my weight loss, if you can believe it.  My fasting blood sugars have been excellent this week. 

As you can see from this chart, since December 1 I have had 5 normal fasting blood sugar readings out of 7 - that is, 71.4% of my readings have been normal.  Even better, I was able to do that with a pair of consecutive normal results, and then this morning, three normal results in a row.  I have never seen three normal results in a row before, and I could barely contain myself this morning. 

I am beyond thrilled with these results.  I cannot tell you if they are (finally!) the result of all the weight I have lost, or if they are the result of taking my cardio on the elliptical up to 45 minutes 6x per week, or if it is because I have stopped having my evening nightcap of a rye and diet Pepsi.  The only way to figure out for sure which of those is the trigger to these good results is to vary each of the inputs and see what happens.  Well the weight is not going up, that's for sure (not intentionally, anyways!), and I am comfortable with the 45 minutes a day on the elliptical, so I can only really vary the amount of alcohol I consume.  What's that, you say, I need to drink more?  Finally, science can be fun!

On a related note, apparently moderate alcohol consumption is more healthy than complete abstention.  But "moderate" apparently means 8 drinks a week, which means I will need to dramatically increase my alcohol consumption to fit into this group.  It's funny how my habits have changed - - since I started logging my food (and beverages), I have really cut down on my alcohol consumption.  I am sure it is better for me in the long term, but it is interesting to see how habits can be changed.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

It has been a very tough week...

This week has been an uncharacteristically difficult week for my workouts.  I have had to really push through and force myself to work out every day this week, and now my right knee is quite sore. 

Even worse, last night I forgot my iPad and iPhone at the office, thereby stripping me of all my electronic crutches and distractions for my workout this morning.  I had to go old school, trying to keep my heart rate in my target zones for the bulk of my workout using the Nerd's heart rate monitor (which talks to the elliptical).  The only thing I had to distract me was the stride counter and heart rate readout - - which were just not enough to keep me from clock watching. 

It was purely an act of will that got me through this morning's workout.  With no distraction, and no fun music to listen to, time had no meaning.  It felt like the longest workout ever.  But I suppose that will keep me from forgetting my toys at the office again.  Or, in the alternative, from being so lazy that I would not simply go back to the office to get my toys - - after all, the office is only an 8 minute walk from my apartment.  Lesson learned.

Anyhoo, I am wondering if my general malaise is due to the fact that I may be fighting off a cold or some other infection.  Apparently colds and flus are running rampant through the office, and many people are under the weather.  I got the flu shot last week, but that's not to say that I don't have something that's bringing me down somewhat, physically. 

The good news is that I have been pushing through my workouts, just like my plan demands.  I currently have a 27 week streak of consecutive workouts, and I don't want to have to break that streak because I'm a little lethargic.  This workout habit was tough enough to establish, I don't want to undo all my good work by backsliding now.  Besides, I want to keep losing weight, which requires commitment and consistency. 

This too shall pass.  I just need to make sure I keep sticking to my plan so that I am not too far behind once it passes.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Week 45 - 10 months down - I'm melting...! (with photos)

Another month is in the books.  I have been able to successfully keep eating healthy meals, thanks to the Nerd, and I have been able to keep my streak of workouts intact, thanks to my stubborn nature.  This consistency is paying off, big time.

This week I lost a further 2 pounds, for a total of 77 pounds lost overall. That means for the month of November I lost 9.9 pounds, to reach 256.9 pounds and a BMI of 37.9.

November 1 - December 1, 2012
June 30 - December 1, 2012

I am extremely happy with those numbers, as losing almost 10 pounds in a month is fantastic, especially for Miss Slow and Steady here.  Since I have started tracking my food intake and using the elliptical machine as my primary cardio tool in July, I have lost more than 40 pounds.  (!)

As for my fasting blood sugars, the last two months have been challenging.  As you recall, I am not diabetic, but I have a terrible family history of diabetes.  It is just rampant in my mom's side of the family.  With that in mind, I test my fasting blood sugars daily (except when I am travelling), hoping to see my numbers creep down from the slightly elevated pre-diabetic range to the normal range.

In the above graph the green lines indicate normal sugars, while the yellow lines indicate elevated fasting blood sugars in the pre-diabetic range (between 5.6 mmol/L and 6.9 mmol/L).  In October for some reason my sugars were consistently higher than the previous month, averaging 6.03 mmoL (rather than 5.8 mmoL in September), and I did not have a single normal reading.  The only positive I can take from October's readings is that the standard deviation of the readings remained 0.3, meaning that although the numbers were somewhat high, they were all pretty close to one another, without huge swings.

November, thankfully, was a different story.  I returned to having 5 normal readings in the month, and although I was not able to string two consecutive normal results together like I did in September, I was able to bring my average fasting blood sugar reading back down to 5.8 mmoL. I was optimistically hoping that I was getting the knack of lowering the blood sugar levels after September, but it looks like this is still a work in progress.  Hopefully December will see further average blood sugar reductions.

My measurements continue to change, as well.  This month I lost a further half inch on my bust and hips, as well as a quarter inch on my thighs.  The 1.25" I lost this month contribute to my more than 29" lost overall since January.  I am very pleased to have lost 7 inches or more on each of my bust, waist and hips, especially since the loss is pretty symmetrical.  I am also pleased with how much I have lost on my thighs.  The really nice thing is that these inches lost are all fat that is gone from my body - - and good riddance!

So what does this look like?

Here are photos from my firm's annual festive holiday party.  Last year's party, from the beginning of December, is on the left, and this year's party, from last Friday, is on the right (in the infamous purple dress).  I can definitely see that my face is leaner than last year.

But let's look even more recently.  Here is a photo from just this past summer, when I weighed 289.9 pounds, and from yesterday, when I weighed 256.9 pounds - - 33 pounds less:
I see more definition in my chin area, and just the hint of cheekbones in my most recent photo.  Definitely making progress!

In summary:

Pounds lost this month: 9.9 (!)
Total pounds lost: 77 (!)
Pounds still to lose: 91.9  (meh)
Inches lost this month: 1.25"
Clothing size: US/Can 20 (plus size 20)
Average fasting blood sugar: 5.8
Number of ankles: 0
Number of cankles: 2 (sigh)
Number of clavicles seen: 0 (but they can't hide forever...!)

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Now another reason not to visit the doctor...

 I have not had the best of luck with doctors.  I have moved so often that I find it easier just to go to the walk-in clinic rather than bother with trying to find a GP in town that is still accepting patients (and good luck with that!).  As with any walk-in clinic, sometimes you get a good doctor, and sometimes you get a schlub. 

Speaking of schlubs, a recent study has revealed that doctors have similar levels of bias against people who are overweight as the general public.  Further, physicians are likely not aware of their own biases.

Previous research identified weight biases in doctors, but the new study found that their level of bias is similar to that of the public.  The study included nearly 360,000 participants, including 2,284 medical doctors. The researchers used a computer test designed to measure both explicit biases, of which people are aware, and implicit biases, which people do not recognize they hold.

Results showed that female doctors were less biased against obese people than male doctors. "Even though there was a slight difference, bias was strong among both men and women," the researches was quoted as saying. 

On the positive side, obese doctors were generally more sympathetic to overweight people, the study found. 

And that's not all.  There were also reports this summer about a GP in Worcester, MA, who made headlines after she went on record that she was no longer accepting patients who were obese.  The doctor said that her new policy (which applies to anyone who is obese and over 200 pounds, or someone with a BMI over 30) is a way to avoid injuries to health care providers and the subsequent loss of productivity.  I think it looks a lot like this is an example of the aforementioned fat-bias at work. 

I have to say that these results do not surprise me in the least.  My most recent interaction with a specialist involved a neurologist who was called in to consult on my carpal tunnel issues.  Without even examining me, the doctor told me that there was little point of doing anything to correct the carpal tunnel until I had lost weight, because my obesity was exacerbating the carpal tunnel. 

At what point is my obesity itself a health issue versus a contributing factor?  I would have to think that it depends on the condition.  I cannot think that my obesity would exacerbate an allergic reaction, or a cold/flu, but it would definitely affect knee or joint pain or lower back pain.  My mother has told me that fat affects all the organs in the body, so it may even be possible that obesity aggravates my carpal tunnel.

It is a fact that there are many obesity-related health issues that can get worse with time.  Type 2 diabetes is one such health problem that leaps to mind.  Heart disease is another.  Asthma is a third.  Delaying diagnosis and treatment of such conditions can negatively affect an individual's health. 

The issue with the Worcester doctor's position - - and my neurologist's position - - is that by fat shaming patients, it can cause patients to delay seeking medical care, explicitly or implicitly.  Either patients will be told to lose weight before they seek medical care, or they will undertake to lose weight on their own before seeking treatment.  This delay can be dangerous at times, depending on the condition in question. 

And fat shaming has impact.  I haven't gone back to that neurologist who would not consider treating my carpal tunnel, and I haven't visited the walk-in clinic in years.  I am pretty sure that I could use a checkup and physical, but I just can't stand the thought of being told that my conditions are all due to my obesity when I am working on that very problem.  Especially since it will take more than a year for me to reach a normal weight.  I just hope that nothing breaks in the meantime.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Here's a problem I haven't had in a while ... what dress to wear? (with photos)

As a person of size, my clothing choices in the past have largely been driven by the same considerations as those motivating military camouflage designers - - how to obscure and hide my shape as much as possible.  Dark colours were always my preferred go-to palette, with as many layers as possible to hide my various rolls and more abundant bits.

This year, though, I am trying to come out of my shell somewhat, and embrace a new, more confident me.  At least sometimes, situationally, when it is warranted.  I may wear black suits 5 days out of the week at work, but occasionally I get the chance to break out of that stuffy lawyer mold.  Next week is just such an occasion.

My firm is having its annual "non-denominational festive holiday party" next Friday, and, just like the cliche, I have nothing to wear.  You see, since last year's party, I have lost 75 pounds (yay!), and dropped 3 dress sizes.  Which is fine, except that the dress I wore last year, a size 26, will look like a tent on my new size 20 frame.  Not to mention the fact that the "girls" (ahem) would just fall out of that dress now - - not the lasting impression one wants to make at the firm party, I think you would agree.

Now let's not get thinking that I am skinny or anything - - at 258.9 pounds and a size 20 I am still one of the largest (if not the largest) person at my firm.  But I think that it is time to embrace my new body, and enjoy it for the shape that it is, rather than trying to hide it.

So I went out today and bought two party dresses.  In all honesty, I was in and out of the store in 10 minutes - I hate shopping - and these two looked like they would fit.  And they both fit, just fine.

 Option 1: the purple dress.  My first thought was "love the colour!".  Plus, the horizontal detailing and form fitting nature of the dress was very daring for me.  I love the colour with my eyes and my hair, and it will be a positive shock for most of the people at the office to see me in a colour other than black - any colour. 

The cons are that it really hugs my figure.  Not in a sausage casing way, as there is a lot of room in that dress for dinner, but just in the sense that it is cut in a way that hugs my curves, of which I have many.  I am used to dressing in ways that hide my curves as much as possible, so this is a major mental shift for me.  Plus, as a colour that is almost as far away from black as it is possible to get, this dress just screams for attention, which is a little intimidating for those of us (i.e. yours truly) who spend most of their time trying to blend into the background.  No blending with this dress, no way.

Option 2: the sparkle dress.  This picture does not do justice to the number of sequins in this dress.  Basically anywhere there is gold in the picture, there are sequins that catch the light in a really attractive way.

I was drawn to this dress because it is an A-line dress, and therefore immediately more camouflagey than the figure-hugging purple dress.  And the sequins really are quite pretty.  Plus, I like the amount of coverage in the top area (although I immediately saw I would need to pin the front of the dress together, as it gapes quite open when seated. 

As I look at the photo, however, I am thinking that I look a little dowdier in this dress than in the purple dress. 

Decisions, decisions!  I will, of course, change my mind multiple times between tonight and the night of the party, just because that is the way I roll. 

My biggest problem is that I am so unused to wearing clothing in my size (normally I wear suits 1 or 2 sizes too large), that I am very uncomfortable wearing clothes that actually fit me.  I am not used to clothes that fit appropriately, and are not hanging off me, and I feel self-conscious.  I need to get over that, and learn to love showing off my shape, like normal people.

The Nerd is no use at all, as he (wisely) has taken the position that I look lovely in both dresses.  He's no dummy.

Week 44 - 75 pounds lost! (with pictures)

Well it has been another great week of taking up the intensity of my workouts, and I am continuing to see great results.

Last week I stepped up the weights from 4 pound weights to 6 pound weights, and took the sets down to 2 from 3 (for now).

This week I added another 5 minutes of cardio on the elliptical, for 45 minutes x 6 days a week.  If I remember correctly, 45 minutes is the maximum cardio I ever did at one time when I was working out back in 2000.  For some reason, it doesn't feel as oppressive now as it did then - - I suspect that the difference is that now I am doing the cardio on the elliptical, while back then I did cardio on the recumbent bike and Nordictrac ski machine.  The elliptical is much more fun, and easy on the joints.

So what are the results?  I lost a further 2.2 (!) pounds this week, for a total of 75 pounds lost overall (!!).  My BMI has gone down to 38.2, from a starting BMI of 49.3 (for a change of -11.1).  I have lost 22.5% of my original body weight so far, or 44% of my total target weight.  I am, as you would expect, very pleased with all of these numbers.

I still have 93.9 pounds to lose, which is a huge number in itself, but give it another year and a half, and I will make it.  I have fewer than 10 pounds to go to reach the halfway point of my weight loss, and as they say, "it's all downhill from there...".

I was concerned that once I hit 270 pounds, I would stall a little bit.  I had made that target out to be such a big deal in my head, what with it putting me into Obese Class II (from Obese Class III), breaking 40 BMI, and being the weight that allowed me to register to be a bone marrow donor, that I was worried that I would get complacent and backslide a bit.  But so far, that hasn't happened.  I have religiously stuck to the 6-days a week workout plan, and have kept working on healthy eating every day.

The key to my success has always been consistency - - I have not missed a workout in 26 weeks.   And I haven't really plateaued in a while yet, either.  I think my last plateau occurred before I got the elliptical machine (in July 2012), in fact.  I can attribute part of my progress that to the fact that I keep dialing up the workouts - - adding weights, then adding sets, then adding time on the elliptical, then adding more weight ... repeated as required. 

I am constantly amazed at the things my body is able to do now.  For example, this morning my elliptical workout felt great.  I felt strong and it was almost effortless to increase my stride rate here and there.  I did 45 minutes non-stop, at a tension of between 8 and 10 (40% - 50%) most of the time.  I remember when I first got the elliptical machine and I could not go for 20 minutes without stopping for a rest.  And eventually working at a tension of 2 (10%) seemed like a big deal.  Let's not even think about when I first began working out, and could only manage 7 minutes of cardio.  On the recumbent bike. 

Those days are long gone, but I still look at the things I have accomplished and the things I can do without thinking now (like walk to the office), and I see how far I have progressed.  And when you think that I am only 44% of the way along this path, there are so many more good things still to come.

So today, in the spirit of celebrating milestones, I went and got my hair did.  I am never able to replicate the smoothness of what the hairdresser does, so don't get attached to photos of me with straight hair.  I am a curly girl at heart, but it's fun to play "manageable hair girl" for a day. For the record, the March photo was taken when I had lost about 18 pounds or so, and weighed about 315 pounds.  Today's photo obviously shows me down 75 pounds, at 258.9 pounds.

I am pretty pleased with the haircut, and with the photo.  I have been getting compliments all day.  Yay, me!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Week 42 - More Progress

Another week down, another 3.5 pounds down.  I blame stress, as I also lost 3.4 pounds the week previously, which is a little much.  Not that I am complaining - - I will take any weight loss and hug it to my bosom and cherish it. 

I now weigh 261.5 pounds, for a total weight loss of  72.4 pounds.  This represents a total loss of 22% of my pre-workout body weight, and 43% of my overall goal.  Slowly but surely I am chipping away at my weight.  It will be another full year, at least, before I come close to reaching my objective, but I am making good progress right now. 

I had a normal blood sugar reading this week, but only the one.  I am not overjoyed with my fasting blood sugar levels, but they are lower than last month.  Any overall decrease has got to be positive, right?

In the spirit of keeping things interesting I am going to step up the weights next week, and move up to the 6 pound dumbbells (rather than the 4 pound baby weights I am currently using).  I will start at 2 sets of 12 reps with the higher weight, and see how that feels.  3 sets of 12 using the 4 pound dumbbells is fine - - I feel the effort with the third set, but it is readily doable.  I am hoping that I will feel the same effects using the higher weight and lower sets. 

Monday, 5 November 2012

Week 41 - 9 months down (with pics)

Another month down, and another month of pretty good results.  I did not lose as much weight as I have in previous months, but I did have Thanksgiving, 3 birthday parties, multiple cake/cupcake occasions, and a business trip thrown into October, all of which made things a little challenging.  All in all, I consider that I did pretty well to lose 7.5 pounds last month.

First things first.  What do these people have in common?

 That's right.  We could all fight in the UFC's heavyweight class.  I finally reached 265 pounds for the first time in years as of last week's weigh in.  That puts me down 68.9 pounds overall (as of the end of last week), with exactly 100 more pounds to lose.  That represents a loss of about 7.6 pounds per month since I first began working out. 

Reaching 265 pounds was my next short term goal.  Although it sounds like a huge number, and still puts me at a weight heavier than 95% of the population, this represents huge progress for me, and is a major milestone. 

This month I managed to pass another milestone: I dropped below 40 BMI, which puts me in Obese Class II (rather than Obese Class III).  I now appear on BMI charts, whereas previously my numbers were so high I was just a suggestion on the far right hand tail of most charts. 

See below for my BMI data:

Last month I would not have even shown up on this chart which only goes up to 40.  This month, and every month from now on - - look out, here I come!

So let's look at the numbers for this month:

Metric 31-Dec-11 30-Sep-12 31-Oct-12 Change vs prior month Change vs. Dec 2011
Bust 52.9" 46.5" 45.5" (1.0") (7.4")
Waist 48.0" 42.5" 41.0" (1.5") (7.0")
Hips 58.1" 52.0" 51.0" (1.0") (7.1")
Thigh 35.0" 31.5" 31.25" (.25") (3.8")
Calf 20.5" 19.0" 19.0" --- (1.5")
Bicep 14.9" 13.75" 13.5" (.25") (1.4")
Total inches lost: (4.0") (28.1")

Once again I can see progress in terms of significant inches lost, so  I should keep doing whatever I am doing, because it seems to be working.  My current program is to do 40 minutes on the elliptical machine 6 days a week, plus 3 sets of free weights using 4 pound dumbbells x 12 reps 3 days a week.  I am finding that the 3 sets of weights are taking a lot of time, making my weight days tough ones so far as scheduling goes. 

But what about the face, I can hear you asking, what about the face?  Are these inches translating into a slimmer looking face? 

Yep.  The face definitely looks skinnier.  Not skinny, yet, and I still have only the merest hint of cheekbones, but the face has definitely lost at least one chin and some padding in the width.  My glasses look larger, because my face looks smaller. 

How about those fasting blood sugars?  I am frustrated - - I don't think I had a single normal reading this past month.  My sugars were consistently running higher than even in September.  We'll come back to these figures next month.  So far, things are looking up for November, as I had a normal fasting blood sugar reading this morning.  Fingers crossed this is the start of a positive trend.  I am still exercising every day, and eating well, so I refuse to let myself get discouraged by one bad month. 

In summary:

Pounds lost this month: 7.5
Total pounds lost: 68.9
Pounds still to lose: 100
Inches lost this month: 4.0"
Clothing size: US/Can 20 (plus size 20, down a size from plus size 22)
Average fasting blood sugar: we're not going there this month.  Nope.
Number of ankles: 0
Number of cankles: 2 (sigh)
Number of clavicles seen: 0 (but the merest hint of a clavicle was spotted this morning, suggesting that sometime soon these little guys are going to make an appearance).

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Back in the saddle again - appreciating my routines

I love traveling and I hate traveling at the same time.  I love seeing new places and learning new things, and I love hearing about the history of a place.  For example, did you know that Washington D.C. was built on a malerial swamp?  Explains how stubborn Americans are - - "We'll go ahead and put our nation's capital right here in this swamp with all these biting insects that carry disease".  And they made it work, somehow.  That's determination for you.  Explains a lot about the people - - they just make things work.  I have to admire that. 

But I hate traveling as well, because it completely jacks up my routines.  And god knows that it has been my routines that have enabled me to be so successful in my weight loss so far.  I work out the same time every morning, on the same machine.  I eat the same breakfast every weekday.  I pack my predictable, prepared lunch and dinner every day to the office, full of delicious healthy leftovers courtesy of the Nerd.  I drink 3 - 5 bottles of water while at the office, refilling as I go.  I have built up a series of good habits that have helped me to control my calories in, and increase my energy expenditure out.  Because my patterns are so predictable, so habitual, it makes it hard for me to skip a workout day (I haven't missed a workout in more than 21 weeks), and it helps to keep me on track.

When I travel, though, all those routines are thrown upside down.  I found last week that I was eating at different times than usual, and I was really struggling to make healthy food choices from the hotel restaurant menu.  Portions were HUGE, and the foods were largely fried or cooked in butter or lots of oil.  Even the salads were minefields, dripping with dressing and full of cheese.  Mmmmmm, cheese... Sorry, went to my happy place there for a second. 

I was also struggling to drink enough water.  Next time I will buy a bottle of water and then refill it throughout the day as I do here at home, but on this recent trip I was drinking glasses of water at meals, and it just wasn't enough to counteract all the sodium in the food. 

On the good side, my hotel had a 24 hour fitness center, which enabled me to work out on an elliptical machine (as is my custom at home).  But the machine had a different stride than my machine at home, and I found that I was holding my feet in unnatural positions the first day, which led to minor muscle pulls that still plague me today.  I know that in time my legs will heal up and feel great, but I can still feel the muscle soreness in my calves, which is no fun at all.

Now I am home, and well ensconced back into my routine.  Sunday was the start of a new workout week for me and I am already back on my weight loss path.  I have returned to eating healthy, planned meals at regular times, and drinking my 9 - 15 glasses of water every day.  My workouts are back to their old predictable selves, with 40 minutes on the elliptical 6 days a week, and free weights 3 times a week.  My only change this week was to add another set of 12 reps to my weight routine, for 4 pounds x 12 reps x 3 sets, 3 times per week.  Still with the baby weight, but I can really feel the third set in my muscles, so I am happy to have stepped up the sets.

And I am seeing the results of my routine kicking in.  Last week (when I was in Washington) I did not lose any weight, but this morning I was at my lowest weight yet.  Still not a heavyweight, but very close.   Only another pound and a half and I will be at a fighting weight.  Not that I am a fighter, but it's the point of the thing, is all - - it's a goal.  The Nerd is officially a light heavyweight, and he wants to get down to middleweight.  I am currently above heavyweight, and want to get down to welterweight.  We're both well on our way.

Now that I am back in my routine and seeing positive results again, I appreciate the benefits of my good habits all the more.  That will make getting up early to work out on the elliptical tomorrow morning even easier. 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Washington D.C. Interlude

I had a conference in Washington, D.C. this week, and it has thrown off my routines for the entire week. 

I started off on the wrong foot Tuesday afternoon.  For some reason I thought that I was traveling to D.C. Thursday morning, when in fact my flight was scheduled for Wednesday morning at 6.45 a.m.  This meant that all the work I had planned to do Wednesday was all thrown in a tizzy, and I had to rush to pack, get ready for my trip, and try and get a couple of hours of sleep before leaving for the airport at 4.30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

I had a good flight down on Porter airlines (my new favourite airline), and was able to check in and have a nap.  What I was not able to do was work out, because I selfishly opted for 2 hours of sleep rather than 1 hour of sleep + 40 minutes on the elliptical.  So we're going to call Wednesday my rest day this week.  I did get some exercise lugging my heavy briefcase through various airports, but it doesn't really count as a workout, not in the traditional sense.

The hotel is good, as always, and the conference has been a whirlwind of sessions and networking with people.  As a natural introvert, I find all the networking activities to be exhausting, and I find I need to make time for myself away from other people from time to time, to recharge.

 I did something this week that I have never done before - - I went to the hotel fitness center and worked out.  This is a huge triumph for me, because I was never confident enough in my ability to work out in front of other people before.  The reality is that in a hotel fitness center everyone is completely self-absorbed and no one is paying attention to anyone else, but I was still too self-conscious to be seen in one of those places before now.  It helps that this hotel has a 24 hour fitness center, which meant that I could choose a time of the day when fewer people were likely to be there.  It turns out that the place is a veritable ghost town at 4.30 in the morning.  I had my choice of elliptical machines each day, and there was never more than 2 other people in the gym at any one time.  It was almost perfect.

I say "almost perfect" because my legs are quite stiff and sore after having worked out for 3 days straight on the hotel's elliptical machines.  The stride on the hotel's machines is shorter than the stride on my home machine, and I found that I was prone to keeping on my toes more than I should.  As a result, I was working my legs in a completely different way, and I can really feel stiffness in my quads and calves right now.  Tomorrow morning I will be back into my routine on my home elliptical machine, and hopefully my legs will settle down once I return to my normal stride.  Stiff sore legs are no fun.

But still - - working out 3 days this week on the hotel elliptical out of 4 days of my trip, I will take that as a win for good habits and be happy with this new development.

On the food front it has been extremely difficult to eat healthily this week.  American restaurant food is generous - - far too generous for a sensible portion - - and full of fat, sodium and calories.  Sure, the hotel had salads (dripping in dressing), and grilled chicken (smothered in cheese and sauce) and fish (breaded).  I have tracked everything and have tried to be as disciplined as possible, but there's no question that I have been eating much less balanced meals than my normal routine.  For that reason alone I can't wait to get home.  Is it strange that I just want some greek yogurt, strawberries and bran buds? 

Of course, because I have been eating such unbalanced meals, I am terrified to get on the scale tomorrow morning when I get back home.  Oh well - - I knew this trip would be a difficult one, what with all the cocktail parties and drinks / meals with foreign associates.  I did the best I could, though, and tried to keep under my calorie targets every day. 

Only one more networking event this morning before I head back home to Toronto.  Hopefully Tropical Storm Sandy will not pose too many problems for me in getting home in my small prop jet.  Turbulence is no fun. 

Tomorrow morning it will be back to my normal Sunday routine of elliptical and weights.  And the Nerd's cooking.  Let's not forget how spoiled I am...!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

My Weight Loss So Far - from A to Z

[for those of you outside of the Commonwealth, that's "A to Zed"  ;-)]. 

A - Apps.  Lots of them.  I love using a whole slew of fitness apps to track my progress and to help keep me motivated.  Some of the apps that I use daily are MyFitnessPal (for food tracking and a fantastically supportive online community), DigiFit (for tracking my heart rate zones during workouts), Lolo Beatburn Elliptical (to jazz up the music during my daily elliptical workouts), and TactioHealth (for a health snapshot).  I also use the iFitness app for my free weight workouts every other day.  I love that so many aspects of my health and fitness are quantified, because it permits me to see progress and helps keep me on track.  And progress is motivating. 

Photo courtesy Kaudris, licensed CC-BY-SA
B - Back pain.  Something I rarely get any more, now that I have been exercising regularly and working out.  I used to be so physically compromised that I could not walk to the corner, and now I can walk for miles without even a twinge in my back.  My back still goes out occasionally (as it did last month), but on a day to day basis, my back gives me no problems at all.  This is a huge improvement in my quality of life, because a sore back limits you in so many ways.

Photo courtesy Madhero88, licensed CC-BY-SA
C - Cardio.  I started off my workout plan by doing nothing but cardio exercise, because I knew that endurance was my first and biggest problem.  After working out with the recumbent bike and rowing machine for 5 months, I had lost 36.5 pounds, and my stamina had greatly increased.  When I started, I could only manage to do 7 minutes on the recumbent bike 5 days a week and now I do 40 minutes on the elliptical machine 6 days a week.  Along with the stamina increases, my resting heart rate has decreased from 120-130 bpm to around 45-55 bpm.  Cardio is good for me. 

D - Diabetes.  I am not diabetic.  Yet.  But I have an absolutely terrible family history of diabetes, which means that I have an extremely elevated chance of becoming diabetic in the future if I do not take active steps now to prevent it.  I was terrified to check my fasting blood sugar at first in case I was already diabetic, and as it happens, I am pre-diabetic.  This means that although my sugars are elevated, they are not in the diabetic range.  The more weight I lose, and the better I control my carbs, the easier it will be to control my sugars, and the lower the risk that I will develop diabetes.  Still, it's something that I monitor every day, to make sure I am on top of things.  I hope to one day have every reading in the normal zone, with only the occasional blip.  It's the reverse right now (mostly elevated readings with the occasional normal reading).  But in time, this will improve.

E - Elliptical.  I love my elliptical machine.  A present from my parents, this monster has completely replaced the recumbent bike and rowing machine in my affections.  It's just such an effective way to work out - low impact on my joints, smooth action, arms for adding effort, and it's in my apartment.  It is almost impossible to avoid the elliptical machine, and I haven't missed a workout since I got it.  My results have accelerated since starting on the elliptical, as well.  It used to be that I was lucky to lose a pound a week, and sometimes I could go weeks without losing a thing.  Now I am no longer afraid to get on the scale, because I am seeing so much progress in any given week.  Plus, my monthly "water" gain has virtually disappeared since I began using the elliptical - - every week sees at least some loss, which is a huge improvement from B.E. (Before Elliptical).

F - Fitbit.  I love my Fitbit.  I picked up the Fitbit Ultra early this year as a way to track my activity levels, and boy, was I in for a rude shock!  It turns out that I was barely active.  Most days I was hardly walking at all, in large part due to the crippling back pain I suffered with even the shortest of walks.  Fast forward to now, and I am more than 60 pounds lighter, and I am habitually walking 5,000 steps a day, and even, when I add an incremental walk to my routine, walking 7,500 or even 10,000 steps a day.  My goal is to regularly walk 7,500 -10,000 steps every day.  We'll see if I can make it!

Photo courtesy Lar, licensed CC-BY-SA
G - Goals.  I have goals.  Lots of goals.  Short term goals, long term goals, fitness goals, weight goals, measurement goals, lifestyle goals ... you get the picture.  You don't know when you've arrived unless you have an idea of where you are going, and I personally find having goals to be very motivating.  Goals help me stay focused on what I need to do every day. I have so many interim goals in part because focusing on the single long term weight goal is too overwhelming - - after all, who thinks they can lose 168 pounds?  It doesn't even bear consideration.  But I could lose 20 pounds, then 33.9 pounds, then 50 pounds...and on it goes.  Now, having lost more than 60 pounds, I look at my next major goal (to lose 100 pounds) as completely doable, since I only need to lose around 35 pounds.  And I know I can do that, because I've already done that.  Whee!  Bring it on!

Photo courtesy Tax Credits, licensed CC-BY-SA
H - Health.  By any number of metrics, my health has improved since I first began working out at the end of January this year.  I have more energy, I am more mobile, my resting heart rate and fasting blood sugar levels have both decreased, and I have lost more than 60 pounds.  I haven't had problems with my asthma in months.  My body is no longer the limiting factor that it once was - - I am physically able to do things I haven't been able to do in a long time.  And over time, as I increase my workouts and continue to eat healthy foods, my health should continue to improve.

I - Injury.  Touch wood, but I have not been seriously injured since I began my workout regimen this year.  Sure, my back went out for a couple of weeks last month, but overall, I have been very lucky so far as injuries have gone.  My groin pull from my move two years ago is still a chronic nagging issue, but it is a low intensity problem for the most part.  I have not broken any bones recently, nor have I pulled any muscles that I need to work out.  This has not always been the case - - I have a history of overdoing things to the point of severely injuring myself.  So far, however, so good - - and I intend to keep it that way!  No more overdoing things!  Slow and steady are my new watchwords.

J - Junk food.  Since I have started tracking what I eat (about 3 months ago), my junk food consumption has dwindled to almost nothing.  I love me some fast food - - it's all brown and fried, after all - - but the calories, carbs, fat and sodium in these foods is astonishing.  I am no saint, but I am really reluctant to give up an entire week's worth of eating well and working out just to eat at McDonald's and gain it all back.  Most of the time I am eating home cooked meals (thanks to the Nerd), with plenty of vegetables and protein.  And I find that it makes a huge difference in the results that I am seeing.  Take prepared or fast food out of the equation, and the weight has just been falling off me. I am privileged to have someone at home cooking meals for me, which is a huge benefit.  Left to my own devices, and I am sure prepared foods would begin to creep back into my diet.  But for now, junk food is a thing of the past, and my body thanks me for it.

K - Knees.  Yes, my knees still sound like popcorn when I bend them.  Yes, my knees don't like to bend all that much.  Yes, they are a lot better than before I began working out.  No, I won't stop working out.  No, my knees do not hurt on the elliptical.  Squats, though - - boy are those frightening to listen to!  It's like a bowl of Rice Krispies cereal in there for all the noise my knees make when I do squats.  Although the noisy knees may be here to stay, I am hoping that with time, my mobility will improve as the weight continues to come off.  Eventually I would love to see what all is happening in my knees (via an x-ray or MRI), just to see if I have any cartilage left at all.  My guess: no.

L - Logging food.  I first began to keep a food diary when I signed up with MyFitnessPal almost three months ago, and it was an eye-opening experience.  To that point I had never considered the carbs or calories in beverages, and I never thought about eating too little in a day.  I could not understand why it was so difficult to lose weight, but I never correlated this fact with what I was eating.  Keeping a food diary has changed all of that.  I see now that what I was eating and drinking was unbalanced, and that I was eating too little and putting my body into starvation mode.  Logging my food has been the first step in learning to control what I eat, which is the first step in a true lifestyle change.  I do not have a natural grasp of all of the healthy options yet, but logging my food has gone a long way to helping me understand what healthy choices look like. 

M - Measurements.  Not only do I weigh myself every day, I also measure myself once a month with a tape measure.  In the past I have seen that sometimes the weight just doesn't come off, but I have lost inches from various parts of my body.  Measuring myself is concrete proof that my efforts are having an effect.  So far to date I have lost more than 24" across various parts of my body, and two full clothing sizes.  While my moods may change with the wind and the scale torment me, measurements are real.

N - NSV. Not every win along my path to fitness has come by way of the scale, although there have been many "scale victories" as well.  The non-scale victories include things like dropping two clothing sizes, having more energy to walk places, having people notice that I've lost weight, and fitting easier into seats.  It's the non-scale victories that keep me motivated between milestones on the scale. 

O - One day at a time.  "This is a marathon, not a sprint" is something I have heard over and over during this journey.  And you know what?  It's true.  If I think about the enormity of the task ahead of me, I will get depressed because it's clearly impossible.  No one can expect to lose 168 pounds and keep it off.  So I try not to think about the big picture.  I focus on hitting today's plan, and only today's plan.  I try and keep doing my workouts, keep eating right, and keep drinking enough water, every day.  If I do that, the weeks and months will take care of themselves, eventually.  But I can't push it or hope for shortcuts, because this is a long term play, and one day at a time is the only way that it's going to work.

Photo courtesy Bradley P. Johnson, licensed CC-BY-SA
P - Portion control.  This was something I never did until this year.  Not only is my concept of what is an acceptable portion completely skewed by the typical North American restaurant serving, I always ate until I was full.  Which could take some doing.  Since I started working out, and especially since I began logging my food, I have become increasingly aware of portion sizes and what they mean to my nutrition.  I am ever so slowly coming to terms with typical portion sizes so that I can think on my feet when it comes to ordering and consuming food, but I still depend heavily on measuring much of what goes into my mouth, and packing it ahead of time.  I am still eating everything I love, more or less (after all, last weekend was 'cupcakepalooza' at my house), but I am doing so in sensible portions.  Sometimes a portion is 1/2 of something, and that's ok.  Portion control has been one of the biggest contributors to my success so far, without a doubt.

Photo courtesy the Noodleator, licensed CC-BY-NC-ND
Q - Quitting is not an option.  It's hard to get up early in the morning to work out for 40 minutes on the elliptical.  It's harder still to walk up the stairs to do another 25 minutes of free weights.  It's hard to be constantly monitoring what goes into my mouth.  It's tough to walk places when I could just as easily take a streetcar.  But you know what, I don't have the option to quit.  With my family history of diabetes, and with my pre-diabetic state, if I stop working out and watching what I eat, the weight will come back on.  And if that happens, the health consequences do not even bear consideration.  And can I even consider going back to what my life was like before I began working out?  The constant back pain and asthmatic wheezing, the low energy and feelings of despair?  No thank you.  I can't go back to the life I had, now that I have peeked through the door of an active lifestyle.  I can't quit now, just when it's getting good.

Photo courtesy smartmindfuel, licensed CC-BY-SA
R -Routine.  Routine is my salvation.  I don't need to get all creative and funky for now, I just need to stick to my plan.  I pack my lunch and dinner and bring them to work, and I know what I am eating, in what portions.  I exercise every morning, rain or shine, and my workouts have become such a part of my routine that it's been weeks since I have even considered skipping a day.  And this consistency is paying off - - I am losing weight at a steady rate, and I am feeling good while I am doing it.  Some things break up the routine, but because I have the basic structure down, it's easy for me to make small adjustments to keep everything in the sweet spot.  Routine is the base on which I am building my new lifestyle. 

Photo by Stephan Ohlsen, licensed CC-BY-SA-ND
S - Sweat.  I'm a prodigious sweater.  It's true.  When I do my 40 minutes on the elliptical, I am dripping with sweat after only 10 minutes into things, so much so that I keep a washcloth handy to mop up.  Which I have to do every minute or so.  My sweating doesn't really interfere with my workouts, but it does get socially awkward at times if people see me out on one of my walks, because I am not the queen of glamour, all dripping and pink faced.  At least I know that my body is efficiently ridding itself of excess salts.  I have to say that with my propensity to sweat, I love the workout shirts I got from Go Figure, which have that nice moisture wicking fabric that doesn't cling to me like a wet hanky. 

T -Time.  Working out takes time.  Planning and preparing healthy meals takes time.  Getting enough sleep at night takes - you guessed it - time.  I find that my billable work time is getting compressed by all the demands on my time related to my new healthy lifestyle.  There are only so many hours in the day, and I am finding it a challenge to do the things I need to do to be healthy, and still bill a full day, without staying too late at the office.  Over time, I hope that I will be better able to balance things, but for now, the multiple competing demands on my time are very stressful. 

U - Upper arms.  One day I hope to have definition in my upper arms, which presently look like two giant bags of flour.  I hope also to have ankles, rather than cankles, and collarbones that are visible to the naked eye.  So many dreams of definition, it's why I have started doing weights.  No joy yet, but give it time, I just started last week.

Photo by cobalt123, licensed CC-BY-NC-SA
V - Visualize success.  You can't win if you can't visualize what success looks like.  After all, if you can't visualize success, how do you know when you have succeeded?  I have lots of photos from the last time I worked out and made it down to my goal weight of 165 pounds / size 14, and I keep thinking of those when I really need encouragement.  I know what I look like when I am at my goal weight, and I know I can get there again, with plenty of hard work and discipline.  I want to get there, and I will get there, eventually.

W - Weights.  You can't tone without weights.  I knew it last time I worked out, and I know it now, which is why I added free weights into my workout routine last week.  I am now doing 2 sets of 12 reps, with the baby 4 pound dumbbells as a start.  Eventually the reps and weight will increase, and so will the results.  For now, I can feel the impact of the weight routine in my muscles, so I know it's having an impact.  Eventually I will need to invest in still more equipment, but for now, I have a range of weights sufficient to enable me to see some results in the near term.  I have always loved how strong I feel after I work out with weights.

X - Xiphoid process.  This is the bit on the end of the sternum.  I don't have anything particular to say about my xiphoid process, other than to say that I look forward to seeing more of my sternum in general as I lose the subcutaneous fat over time.  For those of you who say "wow, what a lame word", you try and think of a workout related word that begins with the letter "X", I defy you.

Photo by Ged Carroll, licensed CC-BY-SA
Y - Yes I can.  I can do this.  I can change my lifestyle and become the healthy woman I know that I can be.  I can become an active person who is not afraid to do new things.  I can, and I will succeed at this challenge I have set for myself.  I need to consistently keep working my routine, and constantly challenge myself to meet my goals, and I will get to my target weight and size.  Yes. I. Can.

Photo by Chrisinplymouth, licensed CC-BY-NC-SA
Z - Zero.  As in "zero reasons to quit".  I have everything to gain, and nothing to lose by sticking to my current program.  Or everything to lose, depending on whether you consider the glass to be half full or half empty.  Nothing I could say to justify stopping now would overcome the multiplicity of reasons why I should keep going.  And so I will.  Keep going, that is.  Quitting is for suckers.