Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Achievement unlocked - it's normal stores for me (aka size 14 at last!)

Another month down, and another milestone reached.  I am officially a size 14 for the first time in 13 years, so I have basically traveled back in time to 2000.What is significant about this loss is that it means that I can officially shop anywhere - - - most straight stores stock up to size 14 (nowadays, in fact, most stock up to 16 or even 18), so I can actually go browsing in "normal people" stores like my girlfriends.  Not only that, I can reasonably expect to find something in my size.  Put another way, I no longer have to go to specialty "big girl" stores, or shop only in stores that feature a plus size section.  I can shop anywhere.  Well, except for Abercrombie, but their CEO is a doofus for ignoring the reality of the demographic change to his target market. 

This month I lost another 3 inches, going down half an inch on my bust, an inch and a half off my waist and another inch on my hips.  Biceps, calves and thighs remained the same this month.

All combined I have lost more than 61 inches off my body since I started working out at the beginning of 2012, which is more than 5 feet of stuff, gone.  It certainly explains why parts of me look so deflated.  I expect that my measurements should start to stabilize soon, and I should only go down another size or two at most by the time I reach my goal.  My top half actually is already a size 12, but my prodigious hips keep me safely in the size 14 range. 

I remember the first time I had to shop in a plus-size specialty store.  It was heartbreaking.  The staff were very friendly and helpful, and the clothes were actually quite nice, but it felt terrible to know that I could no longer shop in the same stores as my friends.  When we went to Banana Republic or Club Monaco or the Gap I knew that there would be no point in browsing, because those stores did not stock plus sizes - - I knew there was nothing in store for me.   If my normal friends complimented my outfits and asked where I got them, I was ashamed to tell them, because they would never shop in a plus size store.  I would pretend that I had forgotten where I got the outfit, which as we all know, is impossible.  Women generally know the provenance of every single item in their closet - - I know I do, and I refer to things by their source (e.g. my "Lands End twinset" or my "Talbots jacket").  It is only the clothes in my archive for which I can no longer remember the source, but they are the exception (since it has been more than a decade since I last wore these clothes, and a lot has happened since then).

Even more humiliating was receiving gifts from friends or family that were woefully undersized.  It was nice that my friends and family thought I was much smaller than I actually was, but it made me feel even more ashamed to know how big I had let myself get.  I remember one year my mother gave me a beautiful cashmere sweater from Holt Renfrew in XL.  At the time I was 2X, creeping up on 3X, and the sweater did not even come close to fitting me.  It was the largest sweater they had, though, and it was a lovely gesture -- I did not have the heart to tell her that there was no chance that I would ever wear the sweater.  I tried it on when I got home, and looked like a soft and luxurious sausage.  It was not a good look.  Nor can I wear it now - - it's too large (!).

So another month is in the books, and I am still seeing progress on both weight loss and inches lost.  I am not in my final form yet, although it is getting close - - only around 4 months left to reach my goal!  Put that way, and it sounds terrifyingly close. 

For the record, I still don't recommend getting people clothing as gifts - - get the size too small, and you make the recipient feel fat, and get the size too big, and you are saying that you think they are fat.  And god forbid it does not fit.  It's just not worth the bother - - that's why my sister gets so many purses and wallets from me as presents - - fine leather goods are always the right size!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

60% of the time it rains 100% of the time...a ride on the Lower Don Trail

Today the Nerd and I went for a nice cycle on the Lower Don Valley trail (purple line on the map at left).

The trail has some detours at its south end by the highway/railway tracks, and then runs along the west side of the Don Valley beside the river / train tracks / highway.

Alternatively urban and semi-wild, the trail is paved and makes for an easy cycle.  At times you ride directly beside railway tracks or the Don Valley Parkway, and at times you cannot even hear the highway and you ride through forested paths (see below).  It is quite a stark contrast - - riding past graffiti tagged bridges and infrastructure, and then through beautiful lush and green woods.

Today promised to have a 60% chance of precipitation, and I can tell you for a fact that this actually meant that there was a 100% certainty of rain.  When we took off on our bike ride it started to gently sprinkle and this held for most of our ride, but by the time we made it back to the Waterfront trail to head for home it was a torrential downpour. 

I do not exaggerate when I say that it was a torrential downpour - - an ark may have floated by, but it was hard to know for certain because I was immediately blinded by all the rain on my glasses.  This made for a rather more exciting ride on the city streets on the way home than I prefer.  I can tell you now that it is difficult to ride a bike using braille. My glasses were actually filling up with water due to the force of the rain, which is something to see.  Not that I could, but it must have looked very interesting.

On the good side, a rainy day keeps the crowds down on the trail, which is probably good because I'm still a bit wobbly on the bike.  On the down side, riding a bike in the rain is not what you would call "glamourous", as you can see from the before and after photos, below:

The Nerd and I actually had a great time on our bike ride through the valley.  We stayed out for an hour and a half, and it was only raining torrentially for the last 10 minutes or so of our ride. 

I don't mind riding in the rain, actually (except for the whole being completely blind thing) - - once you are completely soaked, you can't get any wetter, so there's no need to stress about it.  Plus, as I noted above, there's the added glamour.  And street people no longer hit you up for handouts, because you look even more disreputable than they do.

We rented our bikes today (shout out to Bixi bikes), and all went smoothly until we tried to return the bikes - - the two stations closest to the palatial estate were full, and we had to go to a third station south of the St. Lawrence Market.  It left us with a 5 minute walk home in the rain, but it was warm and kind of pleasant.  Completely ridiculous rain, but nice.

 All in all, a super fun bike ride in the rain.  I only hit my shin with the pedal after erroneously shifting into 1st from third 7 or 8 times.  That will leave a mark...

Can't wait for our next ride.  I am loving our Bixi subscription this summer.  All the benefits of a basic bike, without the bother of having to store a bike.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Things I have learned from 1 year of food tracking

It has been one year since I began food tracking, and it has transformed how I look at and think about food.

I knew that there were several apps with food diaries -  FitDay, LoseIt and FitBit all have their versions, and if you want to pay a subscription there are even services like MyNetDiary.

My food diary of choice for the past year has been MyFitnessPal, which is both a tool to log calories in (food) versus calories out (excercise), and also a community of supportive peers who encourage friends to reach their fitness goals.

The Nerd's sister put me onto MyFitnessPal, and the thing that clinched the deal for me was the fact that I could enter the ingredients for a recipe and the program would automatically calculate the calories per serving, and save it for future use.  With all the cooking that the Nerd does, I needed a tool that would permit me to track home cooked meals, and MFP was the ticket.

Tracking my food was eye-opening.  For one thing, it explained why it was so difficult for me to lose weight when I think back to how I was eating originally.  Not just in terms of what I was eating (which was not great), but how much.  The phrase "a serving is WHAT??" was frequently heard in my apartment when I first started keeping a food diary.

Tracking my food also helped me to see how many calories were packed into the beverages I was consuming.  Initially I did not track drinks, because how many calories could a drink have, right?  I hang my head in shame at my naivete.  I'll tell you how many calories my old standby coffee with cream and sugar and Baileys had - - all of them.  It became much easier to lose weight when I started paying attention to everything I was consuming - - food as well as beverages.  No more sweet and light boozy coffees, now I drink earl grey tea with splenda or truvia.  No more long island ice teas or Mike's Hard Lemonade by the pailful, now I drink rye and diet pepsi or wine.  And much less than before.  I have reverted to being a cheap drunk after a year of drinking very little - I resent drinking my calories now!

Keeping a food log has also changed my food choices.  Knowing that I was going to log my food and knowing that others would see my food log made me accountable for the choices I made right up front.  Instead of mindlessly eating a bowl of fruit or chocolate, I would think about what was a serving of that food and more often than not, I would try and keep my consumption within that amount.  Sometimes I elected not to eat the food at all.  The food diary has made me think before I eat, which is a very good thing, and something I never used to do.

The food diary also lets me see what is in the food I am eating, like sugar, carbs, and sodium.  You can't fix what you don't track, after all.  I had no idea how much sodium was in my diet until I started logging.  Now I not only know how much sodium I consume on an average day, but I also know what foods are higher in sodium, and I consciously eat less of those foods, or at least choose them with my eyes open.

Things I have learned from tracking my food:

1. It's all about balance - - eating too little is as bad as eating too much.  My food consumption in terms of daily calories is much more consistent than it used to be, when I would binge and then starve myself.  No more starvation mode for me!

2. It's harder to be an emotional binge eater when you plan a binge and put it into a diary.  It's one thing to sit down and plow through 6 Joe Louis cakes and a big pot of popcorn with butter and cheese, but it's another thing to look up the calories for each of those things, measure how much you are eating and still eat all of it - - at some point your brain kicks in to put a stop to the binge.  I am still an emotional eater, but now I am much less of a binge eater, because logging a binge takes some of the fun out of things.  Plus, my binges stop much sooner than previously.

3.  When I do go off the plan, I know how much room I have.  I generally plan each day's food in advance either the night before or the morning, because it helps keep me on track.  But if I am going to splurge and have a donut or a hot fudge sundae, tracking my food lets me know how many calories I have left on my plan for the day.

4. I now know that serving sizes exist, and what they are.  Default serving sizes are programmed into most food diaries, and it's been very instructive for me.  For example, I now know that 3-4 ounces of fish (or 85-115 grams) is a serving, rather than the pound of fish I tried to serve to each person at a dinner party years ago (true story - - I completely broke my guests' spirit, because the pound of salmon in question came after an appetizer of hot cheese dip served in a sourdough bread bowl.  How no one went into a food coma I do not know).  When eating out I can quickly look up food options in my diary so I know how much to put aside right away, and how much I should eat.

5. Tracking my food lets me know when my calories are coming, so I can try and schedule my bigger meals earlier in the day.  I have no scientific proof for this, but it just feels better to eat my larger meal at lunchtime rather than at dinner, so that I have more time to burn off those lunch calories.  Food tracking also lets me balance my day so that all my calories are not coming in a single meal.

6. Keeping track lets me improve over time.  Binges?  Too much sodium?  Too few calories?  Not enough water?  By keeping a food diary I can look back at what I have been consuming over time and try and improve things.  Case in point is sodium, where I looked back over 8 months of diaries to see how much sodium I consumed each day, and more to the point, what foods/meals were driving those sodium numbers.  Being able to deconstruct the elements of my diet allowed me to put plans in place to lower my sodium in fairly short order.

 7.Tracking lets me know what makes me feel bad.  It's hard to understand why you feel poorly if you cannot remember what you ate.  But in the event of food poisoning or a food allergy, this information can be critical.  Food tracking lets me see what may be disagreeing with me, and can be very useful information to doctors or other professionals.

8. Tracking lets me see patterns.  Do I always overeat at a certain restaurant, or with certain friends?  It's easy to see when you track your food.  Knowing this information before I go to that restaurant or out with those friends helps me make better choices. 

All in all keeping a food diary has really helped me to get focused on my weight loss.  In the year that I have been tracking my food I have lost about 100 pounds.  Not all of that loss can be attributed to my food tracking, but it is a big portion of my success to date.

I am not as much of a fan of how obsessive food tracking makes me look and feel.  The Nerd and I spend a lot of time talking about food and our food plan, and it takes an act of will not to trot out food tracking miscellanea when we are chatting with friends.  It all comes off as a little obsessive and creepy to outsiders, and I hope that eventually, when I am in maintenance, I will be able to log my food without having to be so intense about it all the time.  For now, though, with 33-some pounds left to go, intense is the game plan.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

I love returning from the United States...!

For one thing, it feels good to be back in Canada where my money is accepted at face value (rather than mere pennies on the dollar, and where clerks think I am trying to pass Monopoly money because it is all funny colours).   For the other thing, I shed pound after pound as my body purges itself of all the sodium ingested over the previous week.

I was surprised and delighted last week to come back from vacation slightly lighter, at 201.9 pounds (compared to 202.7 pounds prior to vacation).  Although I did make very determined efforts to do something active every day I was on vacation, I was eating (and, well, drinking) my face off, and I was sure that I would come back heavier from South Carolina.  To actually lose weight felt wonderful.

This past week, however, I have been shedding weight like crazy.  Not only was I able to finally break the 200 pound barrier mid-week (yipee!), but I held that loss and built on it over the remainder of the week.  By this morning's weigh in I was down to 197.4 pounds, a loss of a ridiculous 4.5 pounds versus last week, and a loss of 136.5 pounds overall.  This represents 80.8% of my total goal loss, and leaves me with only 32.4 pounds left to lose. 

I still have quite a bit to lose, that, if done properly, will take me at least until late November or early December.  This is still a long term goal, and although this week has seen amazing weight loss, I cannot expect to see these numbers continue now that I am back in Canada and back in my routine.  It's back to the normal 1-1.5 pound a week loss next week, I expect (hopefully!).

I think I can credit two things with this huge loss over the past week.  First and likely foremost is the fact that although the Nerd and I were eating as healthily as we could, avoiding prepared foods for the most part and eating lots of fruits and vegetables, we were not cooking for ourselves at every meal.  And those meals for which other people were cooking involved much higher levels of sodium than we typically see when cooking for ourselves at home.  For one thing, we consciously choose the sodium reduced options when purchasing ingredients like cheese, beans or canned tomatoes, and we don't generally add much, if any, salt during cooking at home.  This was not the case when others were cooking, and we were at the mercy of higher average sodium levels as a result.  And let us not forget the car snacks for the drive home from South Carolina, including Nutter Butter cookies, rice crackers and Cheeze-Its - - also known as "mini salt licks".  As I now know, sodium = water = higher weight.  Eliminating the sodium over the past week and flushing my system resulted in higher than usual water weight loss.  I don't mind - - a loss is a loss in my books.

The second reason I saw a bigger than usual loss is that I completely broke from routine while on vacation.  I was miles from the nearest elliptical machine, and in my normal routine I never swim or kayak.  And when the Nerd and I go for walks in the city, the hills are gentle and gradual rather than steep and cliff-like (at least where we walk!) - our city hikes are utterly unlike the grim and challenging hill training we did in South Carolina.  I did nothing from my normal routine while on vacation, and I think the change was as good as a rest.  My body is approaching its usual workouts with new energy and I am losing a bit more weight than usual as a result. 

Tomorrow is my rest day and it will be challenging to keep my food consumption within my new target of 1,420 calories (!).  I think I have a menu that will work, but it is pretty tight.  No snacks for me tomorrow except my "cholesterol medicine" (aka my Rye and Diet Pepsi). 

This week I am not changing anything much in my routine since I stepped up my free weights on my return last week.  My program for this week will still be for Mon - rest; Tue, Thur and Sun - 5 sets of 10 reps x 10 pounds free weights and body weight exercises x 9 exercises + 60 min on the elliptical.  Wed and Fri - 75 min on the elliptical (or whatever is required to break 800 calories).  Sat - 90 min on the elliptical, if I can trick myself into doing that again. 

Took another selfie today, and by george if I don't have collarbones and cheekbones!  Yay!  Please excuse the assertive head angle, but I was trying to reduce the glare off my glasses.  I know, good luck with that. 

I don't see the difference in myself from day to day, but I sure notice it in photographs.  Love it!

So what about the progress against my goals?

Pretty good.  I have 32.4 pounds to go overall, and only 12.4 pounds to get to my next objective at Middleweight.  The next two weight classes essentially split most of the balance of the weight I have to lose - - once I reach Welterweight I will be only 5 pounds away from my goal, which is hardly anything at all. 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

It's official ... I'm in Onederland!

What is that I see?  Is it a digital scale giving me a reading of 199.2 pounds?  Why yes, I think it is! (cue the sound of angels and trumpets, and a happy dance that must have been felt on seismographs in California). 

Technically, I broke the 200 pound barrier yesterday, but it only happened when I was wind-aided, leaning like a Norwegian ski jumper, and desperately holding my breath.  This morning's weigh in gave me a reading of 199.2 pounds when I was standing like a normal person.  So I'm counting this one as the "official" day I broke 200 pounds, even though it technically happened yesterday.

Breaking 200 pounds was always one of my bigger milestones, and reaching that goal this morning (officially) left me in a contemplative mood, asI looked at how far I have come.  There have definitely been some hills and valleys along the way, but overall my weight loss has been pretty steady.  When looking at my weight loss graph, though, I noticed something interesting. 

Just over a year ago I weighed 99 pounds more than I do now.  That's right, I lost almost 100 pounds (OK, 99 pounds, if you want to be fussy about it) in 1 year.  If you see my numbers from last year, on the left, I was so heavy that the lean mass and fat mass amounts were off the graph, and the weight was at the extreme far right hand side of the chart (probably because if the manufacturer didn't do that, no one who was super heavy would even see that much of a chart, which is not motivating at all).

Losing this weight has made a huge difference in my life, in terms of my confidence levels, my fitness levels, and my ability to participate in normal activities.   For example, both the Nerd and I really enjoyed our vacation in South Carolina last week, but it involved all sorts of things that we would not have been able to do - - or be comfortable doing - - before we lost this weight.  Things like walking up those grim hills around the cabins. 

In fairness to me, this photo does not do the hill justice.  Trust me, it was very, very steep.  Grueling, in fact.  And the hill just kept going and going. 
Or kayaking.  Or swimming.  Or, god forbid, even putting on a swimsuit.  But this year both the Nerd and I were much fitter than either one of have been for years, so we did all those things - - the grim death marches between cabins, kayaking, and swimming, all of it, over and over again.  And you know what?  We had a great time!  We did not feel excluded from the fun because of our weight, and we were able to participate in anything we wanted, just like all the other people.  Dare I say it, just like normal people.

How much have we changed?  The last time the Nerd and I saw his South Carolina cousins was in August 2007.  Things have changed a lot, I would say.

 For example, we each have only one chin now.  That's progress.

Here's something I never thought I would ever see - - a photo of me in a swimsuit that I didn't hate.

Sure, it's a candid shot of my either getting in or getting out of the lake in South Carolina and I am neither looking at the camera nor smiling, but I have to admit that I don't hate this photo.  That's what losing 134.7 pounds will do for a girl. 

 So it's time to check off another goal - yay!

My end target is now only 34.2 pounds away, but next up on the hit parade is middleweight, at 185 pounds.  That's 14.2 pounds away, or roughly 3 months away. 

Onward and downward!

Friday, 12 July 2013

A South Carolina State of Mind - - Stories from Vacation

This week has been a complete break from routine as the Nerd and I have spent the past week in South Carolina, enjoying a family reunion of the Pitt descendants.  Well, various Pitt descendants, anyways.  The nice ones.

© OpenStreetMap contributors, Licensed CC-BY-SA
The family rented two nearly adjacent houses on Fisher Knob at Lake Jocassee, South Carolina (indicated by the red "X" in the map, above).

Lake Jocassee has an interesting heritage, as it used to be a valley with a number of houses in it until the mid-1970s, when the local power concern built a series of dams and flooded the valley.  The new lake runs 250 - 600 feet deep in some places, and fishing maps show the old roads and old rivers that used to run through the valleys between the local hills, along with the old houses, lodges and campgrounds that still lie at the bottom of the lake.

The lake is a popular place for fishing, boating, kayaking, swimming, and hiking.  The local terrain is quite hilly, being situated in the Appalachian mountains, and local roads are very steep with many switchbacks.  Even though it has rained literally every day that we have been here, the rain has not interfered with our various recreational pursuits.  Plus the rain has kept the temperatures in the mid-70s, which is perfect for those of us who hate heat. 

I have been eating my face off this week with all the delicious meals served up every evening.  Each family group has taken turns cooking, and so far we have enjoyed Indian curry (courtesy of the Nerd), meatballs, pasta and seven layer Magic bars (a southern dessert), enchiladas, chicken Marsala and Jello pudding shooters and baklava, barbecue chicken, roasted corn and tomatoes, and pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream, salad bar, corn bread, rosemary bread, baked potatoes, spice cake and prune cake, and jerk chicken and jerk pork sliders with twice baked potatoes.   Among many other amazing foods that I am forgetting.   Along with the food has come a super-abundance of drinking, and I have done my share of polishing off a large bottle of Crown Royal rye whisky.

In a (likely vain) attempt to stave off massive weight gain I have made a point of trying to do something active every day that I have been here.  I have gone swimming for the first time in decades, which was a humbling experience.  My technique is something between "random bobbing" and "modified breast stroke", and apparently I am prone to making alarming noises that frighten small children.  No matter - - the water was warm every day but one, and I had a fun time.

Less fun was the occasional walk that the Nerd and I took along Fisher Knob Road.  I mentioned the whole "Appalachian mountains" thing, right?  Well that leads to roads that are entirely too hilly, in a state that enjoys 85% humidity.  Let it not ever be said that I look glamorous after one of our grim death marches - - by the time we got back to the cabin I was uniformly drenched with sweat.  Sexy time indeed!

Most fun of all for me was kayaking.  I have always wanted to kayak, and I got my first chance to do so this week.  I was able to take the kayak out 4 times this week and I really enjoyed every time.   My various trips are indicated by the blue track in the above map.  The first trip I stayed relatively close to the cabin, but the other three times I went exploring and discovered two beautiful waterfalls and a numerous herons.  I also almost had a tree fall on me - - fortunately it was pointing in the other direction when I was paddling by - - but overall I suffered no ill effects from my little adventures.  Apparently kayaking uses all the muscles in the body, especially the core and shoulders, but I mainly feel it in my shoulders alone.  I'm not sure I even have a core, frankly.

The water levels on the lake are apparently 25 feet higher than usual, and the little island in the above photo is usually not an island at all.  The high water levels also explain the unusually high amount of toppled trees that have fallen into the lake  (including the one that almost crushed yours truly) - - the action of waves on the local red clay soil undercuts the land and undermines trees' roots, leading them to fall over into the water - - usually in spectacular fashion.

Certainly I am not getting the cardio workout of my usual elliptical/elliptical + weights workouts, but I am hoping that the combination of hill training (aka grim death marches), swimming (aka bobbing), and kayaking (aka paddling) will have kept my metabolism from completely going dormant.

I have been very lucky so far this week and have not been bitten to death by insects, nor have I gotten terribly sunburned.  As you can see from the photo of my legs, above, I may even be paler than when I left Canada, if that is at all possible.   You will be pleased to know that in a comparison of various arms, the South Carolina natives are the darkest, followed by the Cincinnati resident, followed by yours truly.  Yes, in a shocking twist, the Canadian was the palest person at the reunion. 

Tomorrow we head back to Columbus for the first leg of our trip home, which should be a 9 hour drive.  I am already dreading coming back to the office.  For now, however, there is food to be eaten and drinks to be consumed.  Back to routine in a couple of days.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

End of an era - - the clothing archive is no more

This morning was the end of an era.  Today I opened up the last of my clothing archive - - the treasure trove of clothes that I had outgrown years ago, bundled in sizes 14-22.  That's right, the size 14 bag was finally opened, and this is one of the dresses I found inside.  I am delighted to report that fits perfectly. 

I have had a lot of luck with my archive over the past year.  Some of my particular finds include:

14 - red wool blazer, little black dress, formal black dress
16 - olive green suit and several chino skirts in various colours
18 - navy suit, burgundy suit, lilac suit, various skirts, shorts and jeans
20 - the pink and black suit and the black and white suit
22 - the green tweed blazer

Each one has been a delightful surprise.  My memory is so bad, and some of these clothes were worn so seldom, that I had forgotten that I owned most of them.   In most cases I got too big for the clothes too quickly to wear them more than once or twice, so they made little impression.  Opening each new size bag of clothes was like Christmas morning. 

The clothing archive has been a huge help to me as I have lost weight over the past year.  It has saved me from having to buy multiple suits, since I have for the most part been able to rely on my old clothes from the archive to tide me over.  Recently I discovered my old blue jeans archive, which has provided me with several pairs of shorts and jeans in sizes 12, 14, 16 and 18, just when my old size 20s were turning into clown pants.  Score! 

The Nerd and I are packing up some of said shorts tonight in preparation for our trip to his family reunion in South Carolina, or as I like to call it, "Humidity Country" (there is 89% humidity where we are going as I write this - gack!).  We are both really looking forward to the trip, and we both have lots of clothes that fit to show off.  I ended up picking up 3 new swimsuits (1 piece suits, let's not go crazy) and t-shirts to wear with the chino shorts I found in my old clothing archive, so I am ready to go!  More importantly, we are both fit and feeling fine, which is what you want before meeting large groups of family. 

I have made arrangements to unlock my iPhone so that I will have roaming data/voice service whilst I am visiting our neighbours to the south, but I believe that cell phone service around where we will be going ("Hello, Lake Jocassee!") is somewhat spotty.  We will see how I do over the next week without my usual plethora of technological crutches. 

This upcoming week will have lots of family, lots of new experiences (for example, I have only been to South Carolina once before, and never to this part of the state, Go Tigers!), and lots of breaks from routine.  We'll see how this affects my weight loss plan, but really, that's not my primary concern.  My main objective is to relax and enjoy my time away from the office.  I am going to try and do something active every day, whether it's going for walks or swimming or something else I can't think of right now, but I'm not going to obsess about it.  Vacation is a time to go with the flow, and not be so programmed.  My regular weeks are adequately programmed after all - - I can cut loose sometime. And that time is this coming week.