Sunday, 4 October 2015

Progress fits and starts

I have been pretty good about my exercise program and eating habits and was finally starting to see some progress when - whammo! - shark week.  Now this week is all the water retention, all the time.  Sigh. 

I get frustrated with my progress and its irregularity.  During - ahem - lady time, I put on anywhere from 2-5 pounds seemingly overnight.  That this is merely water weight is understandable and predictable.  That it takes at least a couple of weeks to get rid of is frustrating.  Then I have a couple of clear weeks of generally good - or even very good - progress before the cycle happens all over again.  I usually (if I'm in my groove) see some solid losses immediately before my cycle begins, which I suppose makes some perverted kind of sense (it is, after all, the least bloated I will be all month). 

I think I will do a detailed look at my exercise calories burned, food calories consumed, and day of my cycle in order to try and better understand some of these swings.  All I am hoping to do is to get a better handle on the variations in my progress and to figure out what role food, exercise, and hormones play in all of this. 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Old Jeans (with photos)

This week has been another slow and steady week.  No illicit snacking at the office combined with my regular meals and workouts (including a visit from Mr. Fitness) have combined for a loss of just over half a pound.  It would have been more, but for the debauchery of last Friday's street housewarming party, for which I was paying most of the week.

We had another housewarming party this Friday for friends and coworkers, but this time I managed to keep my snacking impulses in check.  Not only that, I tracked what I consumed, which made it easier to stay on the right path.  Still, temptation abounded, and I was lucky that my hostessing duties kept me pretty distracted (we had 42 people over) otherwise it could have been another snack food disaster.

This weekend has been hugely social, with the housewarming, coffee/shopping with the matriarch, a book signing for one of the Nerd's hockey buddies, and then a 40th birthday party BBQ for another friend.  I kept snacking to a minimum at the latter because the hosts, while lovely people, let their 2-year old lick all the fruit, crackers, and cheese and then put them back on the trays, so there was no way of knowing what food was safe and what food had boy cooties.  Better safe than sorry, I say, so I avoided it all.  I have no problem with boy cooties generally, but I am choosy as to the source.

On a completely unrelated note, in preparation for our big house move I spent a lot of time beforehand cleaning out closets and cupboards of unwanted or unused things (the way one does before a move).  One thing I discovered was my blue jeans historical stash.  I had been keeping one pair of each size of jeans as they no longer fit.  Because I started at a size 26 you can guess that this amounts to a number of pairs of jeans between the starting pair and my current size 14s.

To say my current self is a mere shadow of the clown pants that I used to wear is an understatement.  Put another way:

Those are some - shall we say capacious - pants right there.

They all went to the Goodwill donation box during the move, but I'll always have the photo of the jean archive to help keep me on the straight and narrow during social weekends like these ...

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Move Complete - Settling Back Into Routine

Whew!  At long last, after what felt like an interminable period of time, the move is complete.  The boxes are unpacked.  The clothes are put away.  The usual patterns of daily living have been picked up again.  And not a moment too soon, I tell you!

When last we spoke I was just recovering from the end of the move.  I had managed to put on a ridiculous amount of weight, and ballooned up to 199 pounds (and more!) after all of my move-induced emotional eating and take out food consumption.  Last Sunday I got back on the path to righteousness by religiously tracking my food and engaging in solid exercise. 

The rest of the week was more of the same.  I tracked my food and I worked out as is my custom.  Mr. Fitness came by on Thursday to kick my ass with the dreaded high intensity interval workout - which I loathe...but still managed to complete.  Most importantly of all, I did not snack all week.  This sounds like such a little thing, but I know that the unbridled snacking is what killed me over the past month or so.  Because let me tell you, I can snack like a m-f-.  Some people are good at math, I am good at snacking. 

So this week was a big test of my ability to get back on track.  I have to tell you that the first day back at the office (the land of temptation) I was white knuckling it all day in an attempt to keep from snacking.  When I left the office to go home, I was in part fleeing all that temptation.  But it worked - I remained snack-free all day.  The next day was just a little bit easier, and the day after that was easier still.  By Thursday I wasn't even tempted by the chocolate covered almonds that one of my coworkers brought into our marketing approval meeting.  Well, not more than normally tempted - I am human after all - but it was comparatively easy to stand firm and avoid the treats. 

Friday I started strong, but then lost focus a few hours into our housewarming party.  I kept with soft drinks, mostly, rather than alcoholic beverages, which helped a lot.  But by the end of the night I went a bit off the rails and snacked my face off on the delicious party food.  It was all delicious, but full of sodium and I am sure all sorts of bad things.  However because I own my choices I tracked it, to an extent at least, by adding 600 calories to my food log for Friday night.  It may have been more, it may have been less, but that's as good an estimate as any.  The key thing is that I tracked it and owned it, which is critical - - my snacking binges of the last month went largely untracked. 

I weighed myself Friday morning (pre-party, thank god) and lo and behold after a week of sticking to my plan, working out, and not snacking, I lost 1.5 pounds.  I am back down to 197.5 pounds (again), and feeling pretty good.

A new wrinkle to my routine now is that I weigh myself before working out.  So that 197.5 is an honest weight, prior to any sweating-induced water loss.  I previously always weighed myself after my workouts so as to get to the lowest possible number.  This way feels a bit more honest - it's my walking around weight, after all. 

All in all it was a good week.  I saw positive progress back into my routine, I was able to resist temptation at the office, and our house held up to the housewarming party.

Here are some photos of the place (minus party-goers, of course):

I really enjoy discovering the routines and flow of this house.  Our neighbours are wonderful, and I actually had a really nice time at our housewarming for the street last night.  

And now it is back to continue these routines.  I have some laundry on the go and I will steal some time to do a bit of weaving.  Ahhhhh....

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Moving Induced Break in Routine

I suppose it's fair to think that I love moving house considering that I do it so frequently.  For one reason or another it just seems that I move every 2 or 3 years.  Trust me - I can explain each move.  They all make sense at the time. 

After all these moves, you would imagine that I have moving down to a system by now, and you would be correct.  That doesn't change the fact that routines get thrown out the window, bodies get injured, and nerves get frazzled.

The Nerd and I moved from our cool - but seriously overcrowded - St. Lawrence Market-area multi-storey condo unit to a rowhouse in Corktown near the river valley.  Because it's a house, the new place has 2 bedrooms plus a den plus a finished basement plus storage space plus a small back yard, all of which combine to alleviate the overcrowding issue we had in the old place.

But no matter how good your movers are (and ours, Collins & Greig, were amazing), moves are still exhausting.  Between the packing, planning, lifting, unpacking, and multiple trips up and down stairs both of us were completely knackered for weeks. 

On the good side there is, at long last, a light at the end of the tunnel.  We are virtually all unpacked (all that is left to do is organize our crawl space storage and back porch storage a bit more), and all of the main areas - living room, kitchen, bedroom, weave-ateria, and gym - are all finished, with furniture in place and pictures hanging up on the walls. 

This is the first weekend in about 3 weeks that we are no longer packing or unpacking, but merely living in our place.  We had guests over to watch the UFC fights last night and the place showed like a charm.  The Nerd and I are slowly discovering the traffic flow and process flow in the new place (for example, our desks / office space are in the basement rather than in the living room), but that's a fun discovery.

As an example of how fractured our routines were, this Thursday was the first time in three weeks that Mr. Fitness came to kick my ass.  Between his schedule and ours we had to cancel two weeks of sessions in a row.  I still worked out with weights a couple of times on my own, but it's just not the same as when he enthusiastically pushes me beyond what I thought I could achieve.  I missed that, and was frankly very nervous about getting back into our training sessions.

It turns out that the new gym space (in our upstairs den) worked just fine, although it was a little bit of a pain in the butt to move the dumbbells from the linen closet where they are stored when not in use (the new gym has less floor space than the old gym area, and there's not as much free space to leave dumbbells laying about).  As far as the workout went, however, it was just as intense as always, and I felt wonderful when it was done.  Completely done in, as well, but then that's kind of the point, isn't it?

With some minor adjustments there is more than enough room for one person to work out, and even enough room for me and Mr. Fitness to go through our routines.  The space is not quite as large as the old gym, but overall the new place has so many benefits that a slight reduction in gym size is worth it in the big scheme of things.

For example, now my view from the elliptical is a pleasant look into our back yard, as well as our neighbours' yards.  The old place looked out onto an alley where the garbage bins for our building were stored.  Ambiance central, not so much.

On the downside, I now have "closet weights".

So we're still working out a solution for those...

On the good side the move is essentially complete, the house is amazing, our neighbours are wonderful, and I can still walk to work in the morning (my commute is now a 15 minute walk instead of a 10 minute walk). 

On the bad side, I have managed to undo almost a year of progress with all the chinese food, burgers, and pizza we have been eating during this transition period.  I don't blame anyone - I certainly was too exhausted to even think of cooking most nights, and ordering in was just too tempting.  Add the emotional eating on top of that, and ... let's just say it's a good thing that I am back into my routine. 

I am counting today as official post-move Day 1, and the Nerd and I had a healthy day together.  We both worked out, we stuck to our delicious homemade meals, and we went for a long walk today.  The walk happened to end at an ice-cream truck, but that's kind of the point.  I tracked all the food (including the ice-cream!), as well as my exercise, and it was a good balanced day. 

That's 1 down.  13 more to go to re-establish my good patterns.  364 to go to see big improvement. 

But step 1 is done, so I've got that going for me, which is good. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

6 months with the personal trainer (with photos)

Time sure flies when you are pushing yourself to work out every day.  And by "flies", I mean, of course, "passes predictably with the rotation of the earth around the sun". 

It has snuck up on me, but believe it or not it has been 6 full months that I have been working with the personal trainer, Mr. Fitness.  We have had 23 sessions in that time and the only missing sessions have been planned in advance around our respective holidays - - I am pleased to say that I have yet to cancel one of our workouts, no matter how little I look forward to some of them (high intensity intervals, I'm looking at you!).

My objective in working with the trainer was to help me break through that plateau that had me trapped cycling in the 200-210 pound range, and to help me to be stronger and more toned.

On a purely numerical level, we have achieved positive results.  I have lost more than 20 pounds since I began working with the trainer (although I confess to giving up some of these losses thanks to my recent trip to PEI with the Nerd).  Rather than the low 200s, the 180s are now my easy set point.  Getting lower will take still more discipline and work, but it is very achievable given the results I have seen so far.

As for my measurements, these appear to be stabilizing.  With the trainer I have lost around 12", to bring me down to a size 12-14 (in pants, skirts and dresses) and a M (in shirts and tops).  I still struggle with my own self-image as a "big girl" so I find it difficult to believe that a size medium top will actually fit me, but time and time again when I chicken out and default to the large I discover that those tops are too big for me.  Eventually I will learn to accept the reality that I am a size medium.  In the meantime this means that the Nerd and I actually wear the same size tops, so I can steal his clothes.  Tee hee.

The body shape is where I see the most difference:

My biggest frustration at this point is with my loose skin on my arms and belly.  Sadly, there are sequellae to being super-obese, and loose skin is one of them.  It is not ridiculous and obvious like some people experience - - I don't have giant flaps of skin hanging everywhere - - but there is definitely excess tissue making it impossible to tone as much as some other people.  I am very happy with the tone that I do have, though, and where I am less toned, like my belly, I like the suggestion of tone, assuming that is the best result I will see. 

Some nice changes I have noticed since I first began working out: I enjoy wearing colour more than I did before.  Although I still wear an inordinate amount of black, that's more because it's a very flexible colour for a professional wardrobe rather than the camouflage that it used to be.  I now preferentially seek colour for outfits, and this is a nice thing.  I am embracing colour as I come out of my shell with my weight loss. 

Another change: I do not dread body hugging clothing any more, and in fact I am more likely to go out of the house in yoga pants and an exercise top than ever before.  When I was heavier I believed in the magic of layers, which is poor magic at best.  Almost no one looks thinner by adding layers, but that it the delusion under which I laboured when I was heavier.  Eventually I will feel confident when I wear workout clothes out of doors, but for now I am glad to have the option. 

Another, more profound change: I am no longer automatically the biggest person in the room.  In fact, I am just as likely to be considered "average".  This by itself gives me confidence because I know that people are much less likely to be judging me by my food choices or making assumptions about my intelligence or work ethic because of my weight (sadly, this is a thing that happens, and happened to me).  Sure, there are still jerks out there, but as a more stereotypically "normal" looking person I can blend into the background in a way that I never could when I was heavier. 

A friend said last night that I am the same person I was when I was heavier, I just look different on the outside - - my essential inner core remains the same.  This is true.  But people make so many judgments on the outer package in this world that even though I am the same person, I am viewed differently.  People at the office are surprised to look at photos of me from my heavier days because they do not associate me with "a fat person".  News flash: I was just a "person" - - the weight was not the defining factor.  Now, at least, it is less of a distraction.

So six months in with Mr. Fitness and things are progressing nicely.  I am pleased with my results and don't see changing my routine anytime soon.  Our Thursday grueling workouts will continue, holidays and vacations permitting.

Here's a gratuitious photo from our holiday in PEI, taken in front of the Confederation Bridge:

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Walking in Prince Edward Island (with photos)

The Nerd and I are on holidays this week visiting family in Prince Edward Island.  We drove out with our looms over a couple of days (it turns out PEI is quite a hike from Toronto), and arrived Sunday morning on the Island.  It was a Very Long Drive.

I always find holidays to be somewhat stressful in part because my routine gets shot all to hell - - staying with family means no gym full of equipment near to hand and lots of meals out.  A fun time is had by all - - and don't get me wrong, the Nerd and I are having a fabulous time - - but the lack of routines can be challenging.  For example, 2 days of road food and all the Tim Hortons cookies we can eat (which is a lot) can really mess up good eating habits. 

Nature's awesome majesty
But we are here safe and sound on the Island and after a Sunday afternoon of more poor food choices we have gotten back into the swing of things with a modified healthy plan of activity.  We are trying to replace our usual workouts with nice walks through the area.  We are paying attention to what we are eating and drinking.  We are volunteering to cook our usual repertoire of healthy balanced meals rather than eating out for every meal.  Every little bit helps.

Confederation Trail map
One of the fun things we did today was walk part of the Confederation Trail.  The Confederation Trail is not unlike Toronto's Beltline Trail in that it is a multi-use trail installed where a railway once passed.   Used as a walking and cycling trail in the summer, the 410 km of crushed gravel path is used as a snowmobile trail in the winter.   The Trail extends from one end of Prince Edward Island to the other and makes for a simply wonderful walk.  The Nerd and I spent more than an hour exploring part of the Trail this morning for our morning constitutional and the entire time we saw two people - - in stark contrast to the Beltline with its traffic jams of runners, walkers, and people walking dogs and pushing strollers. 

View on the Trail.  Notice the complete absence of people.
We ended up walking 4.92 miles or 7 km this morning, which means we really walked about 3.5 km along the Trail (out and back), leaving a mere 406.5 km of Trail left to explore.  We're probably not going to finish walking the entire Trail on this visit (!).   

Aside from the legions of mosquitoes which made walking almost unbearable at times, the walk was peaceful and lovely.  The Nerd and I really enjoyed the walk and are definitely going to walk more portions of the Trail tomorrow...after bringing more bug spray with us for safety. 
We did a lot of sightseeing today including visiting a couple of local Island distilleries (that make Shine as well as a variety of spirits) and stopping for ice cream in downtown Souris (the local small town).

I can imagine you saying to yourself: "Ice cream?  Again?  But what about eating healthy?".  My response is my usual "It's all part of my balanced day that includes an hour of hiking to ensure that we have burned enough calories to let us have ice cream, silly".  Because hey, ice cream makes a long walk in the woods surrounded by mosquitoes totally worth it. I regret nothing.  Ice cream is delicious.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Clawing my way day at a time

I had a major breakthrough at the end of April finally breaking past my previous low weight of 185.4 to reach 184.9 pounds.  It took months and months and months of work to undo the impact of poor eating habits over the period before I started work at my new job last year, and the holidays at the turn of this year.

My personal trainer, Mr. Fitness, was a major part of this turnaround.  Another part - - a very big part, as it happens - - was my disciplined eating habits.  Reducing snacking and keeping my calories within a reasonable range helped me drop the weight slowly but steadily.  The workouts helped me improve my overall fitness and get me toned.  Together the eating habits and my workouts combine to improve my fitness level every week.

At the end of April, right after hitting this milestone, I went home to Edmonton for a holiday.  Healthy eating habits went out the window with numerous dinners out combined with unhealthy-ish food at the Patriarch's house.  After I got back from Edmonton I had a few moderately good weeks, then it was back on a plane to New York and all the food and drink that one finds there.  More eating out, and more street food.  It turns out that I am very good at finding food in New York.  Hey, a girl's gotta have a skill. 

After this veritable smörgåsbord of eating and drinking I knew it would take a few weeks of highly disciplined eating and intense workouts to get me back into shouting distance of my previous low.

So that's what I did.  I kicked the workouts up a notch and I stopped snacking at the office.  After the usual 3 or 4 day withdrawal period this was no longer a major struggle and I found it relatively easy to stay on track with my eating plan.  Now after a couple of "clean" eating weeks I have virtually no desire to snack and it is much easier for me to manage my food consumption every day.

I am now back down to 186 pounds and change, a mere whisper away from my previous low milestone of 184.9 pounds.  I feel toned and strong and am noticing that my clothes are fitting better than before. 

On the one hand it is easy to get despondent about putting myself through what is essentially a 2-month plateau.  One week of really bad eating requires at least 6 weeks of good behaviour to undo - - yikes!  That math really sucks.

On the other hand it is wonderful to know what works and to have the confidence to apply what works knowing that it will pay dividends sooner or later. 

On the "sooner or later" front, one comparatively recent innovation is that I no longer set time limits on myself to lose "x" pounds/week or to reach my goal weight by a specific date.  As long as I am making positive strides in controlling my eating or pushing my exercising or I see that I am losing something (no matter how little), I remain positive.  I know that the way my body behaves it will lose a little, or none at all and then suddenly lose pound after pound in its own good time - - as long as I stick to my program.  Although I would like to control when the weight comes off I am apparently not the boss of this and so have gradually learned how to accept the uncertainty (although admittedly with more zen-like calm some weeks than others). 

All in all, then, it has been a good couple of weeks.  I am sticking to my program and I continue to see progress.  That makes me very happy.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

NSV: Best experience at airport security ever

So last weekend I took a "girls' weekend" trip to NYC.  We stayed in my friend's apartment on the Upper East Side, half a block from Central Park, on the fifth floor of a walkup building.  You want stair training?  Try walking up 5 flights of stairs every time you come home - that will boost your numbers precipitously. While simultaneously crushing your will to live.  So there's that.

We did a lot of walking around Manhattan, and a lot of eating and drinking - - Mexican food for lunch, Chinese food for dinner, and street food (arepas, fried Oreo cookies, mini doughnuts, whoopie pies, salted caramels, bruffins, maccarons, and twistie cones) for snacks, and wine - so much wine.  All that eating (and drinking!) combined with all that walking and the post-vacation weight gain is not as extreme as I had feared.  I probably have all those damn stairs to thank, so "thank you, never-ending staircase".

On the way home we had to get in line for security screening at the airport, first to be screened by a TSA agent who checked our boarding passes and ID, and then to be screened by the x-ray and metal detector.

The TSA guy who was checking ID and boarding passes looked almost asleep - - he was slumped over in his chair and if he was awake, he was doing a fine job hiding it.  But he was the first person who did this: he looked at my passport (photo taken in September 2011, when I was near my heaviest), and he looked at me, then he looked back at my passport, then back at me, and then he said: "You got skinny", as he handed my ID and boarding pass back to me with a grin.  I tell you, it made my entire day.  He is the first person to comment on the noticeable change in my appearance between the passport photo and how I look live and in person, in all of my recent trips.  Photo comparison of my September 2011 passport photo and a photo taken from last weekend are at the top of this post. 

It's not that customs officials, TSA agents and gate agents don't notice - they do, I can tell from the quick double takes that they do when they look at my ID - it's just that no one says anything out loud.  The etiquette on mentioning someone's weight loss is a tricky thing - - many people worry that I am ill, and they are relieved to hear that my weight loss is intentional.  People seldom lose as much weight as I have lost without being sick.  I get that.  But it's also really nice to have my progress called out.  It made my entire day, I tell you!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Before and After...the Purple Dress (photos)

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog may remember wayyyy back at the end of 2012 when I had lost about 74 pounds (to get down to around 260 pounds) and had gone down 3 dress sizes from a 26 to a 20.  I was very excited to finally have the courage to wear a boldly coloured dress to our annual firm holiday party, and I chose a bright purple number. 

Today we were cleaning out the closet for clothes to donate to charity and I stumbled across a bunch of my old "big girl" dresses, including the purple dress.  I remember what a big deal it had been for me to even try this dress on, let alone wear it to the party. 

This is what I looked like back at the end of 2012, compared to today:

Holy crap.  Bear in mind I was looking super glamourous today because Mr. Fitness was about to come over and kick my ass so I was dolled up in yoga pants and tank top for my workout.  But still - - wow, what a difference!  Looking at today's photos I feel like I melted somehow, or maybe deflated, because there's so much room in the dress (even over my workout clothes).  Bearing in mind that I currently wear a size 12-14 (depending on the style), I am down a further 3-4 dress sizes from that first photo, and another 70+ pounds lower than I was then. 

Now let's please have a moment of silence for the boobs that I used to have, because there was no way the present state of the girls comes even remotely close to filling out that dress.  It would be frankly indecent for me to wear this dress without a top under it.  And I'm okay with that. 

PS: Mr. Fitness well and truly kicked my ass tonight - - I am still weak from our workout.  I should be feeling the sweet sweet burn of DOMS tomorrow...

Monday, 1 June 2015

Progress Pics - 5 months with trainer

It has officially been 5 months now that I have been working with Mr. Fitness, and we have completed 20 sessions (I thought it had been 22, but it turns out I can't math).

Things are happening, that's fo sho.

Since starting with the trainer I have lost more than 12 inches, especially off my waist, hips and thighs.  Sweet.  Since I first started working out more than three years ago I have lost more than 66 inches.  I know I have said it before, but that just blows my mind.

Here's the comparison of how I looked when I started working with the trainer (after I had been working out on my own for almost 3 years), and last weekend.  In each photo you can see that things are just tighter and more toned overall.

I frankly expect that all the dramatic changes are done, and what I am going to see from here on out is more of the same - - more toning, more tightening, more definition overall.

I feel strong and healthy, and I am loving how my arms look - - my shoulders especially.  I love having strong shoulders - - I am going to be so good at hugging!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

New Equipment: Water Rower

Well, it has been a whole 3 months since I last purchased new toys for my home gym, and that clearly is far too long.  Last month I finally snapped and got a piece of equipment that I have had my eye on for years - - a Water Rower.

Now regular readers of my blog will be saying to themselves "But Magniloquent, didn't you own a perfectly adequate magnetic rower years ago?  Didn't you in fact sell your rowing machine to make room for the elliptical machine of awesomeness?".  Yes, dear reader, I did in fact have a rowing machine. 

But cast your mind back to the summer of 2012 when I last used that piece of equipment.  I was about 120 pounds heavier than I am now, with all the attendant issues with mobility (bad back, bad knees, reduced mobility and flexibility) that come with being morbidly obese.  Add in the fact that I was not the cardio machine that I am now (!) and you can see how that machine did not get the love that it perhaps deserved.  I could barely get on and off the machine at all, and at my best I could only row for 2-3 minutes at a time before I simply had to stop.  My back hurt and my knees hurt after using the machine for added negative reinforcement, just in case the shortness of breath and dizziness were not enough.

Rowing is an excellent all-over workout, working legs, arms and core. A rower will help make you fit, but ironically it helps to be at least somewhat fit before you row; at least that has been my experience.  I had been mulling over the idea of picking up a Water Rower for some time, delayed for that magical time in the future when I was fit enough to see some benefits. 

Well the time for rowing is now, gentle readers.  So I took the plunge and picked up a Water Rower (or more accurately, had a Water Rower delivered).  And holy moly does it give me a workout!

Fifteen minutes on the rower gives me a burn of more than 120 calories even at the relatively slow pace that I can currently maintain (25 or 26 strokes per minute) - - that's 480 calories per hour, which is a pretty significant burn for me.  Not that I can sustain 60 minutes on the rowing machine - yet.

I am delighted at how much easier it is for me to row now that I have lost so much weight.  My knees, although by no means pain-free or strong, do not hurt when I row (as they used to).  I have no trouble getting down onto the rower, nor do I have any trouble getting up off the rower.  I think I have Mr. Fitness and the work we have done on balance and flexibility to thank for this.  And 15 minutes on the rower - about 5 times my previous personal best time - is only the beginning.  I can certainly go longer - only boredom (I can't read on the rower like I can on the elliptical) - keeps me from staying on the rowing machine for an hour. 

All in all, I am loving the new rowing machine.  My only complaint is that because it is a water rower it is not so good if you have a full bladder - - listening to the gentle swoosh swoosh of the water will increase your need to pee beyond belief, turning a normal workout in the longest workout of all time.

The machine fits perfectly into my (increasingly crowded) workout room because it stands up out of the way when not in use.  I have it next to the closet, between the elliptical and my barbell rack. 

The pretty product photos on the manufacturer's website show the rower standing up out of the way with the seat facing out (so that the bottom of the machine is against the wall).  This is not really practical because it requires that I completely rotate the machine before each use.  Because I know myself and know exactly how lazy I am I simply stand it up in its natural orientation so that when I lower the machine it is immediately ready to use.  This means that the bottom of the machine (the not-so-pretty side) is facing out when the machine is standing up, but I don't mind that given that I am the only person (other than the Nerd) who sees it.

I don't row every day, but when I do I get one hell of a workout.  Love it.  

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Still here, still working

I went out west to visit family in April, and that basically meant a couple of things - - not enough working out (none, in fact), and too much food.  Wayyyy too much food.  So the past month or so has been basically spent fighting a holding action to get down to my earlier low weight. 

The biggest challenge, frankly, was getting my head back into proper eating.  I had a couple of weeks of eating simply ridiculous amounts of food, and it has taken me a couple of weeks just to train my body back to not craving snacks all the time.  I don't generally crave snacks as a rule, but I find that when I get back into the snacking mindset it takes me a couple of weeks of going "snack cold turkey" before I stop craving snacks. Once I get the snacking out of my system I find it much easier to stick to a sensible eating plan.  So yeah, there's that addictive personality thing I still need to watch out for, even after all these years of working out.

Once I got back home it was easier to get right back into the workout routine at least.  And Mr. Fitness has been coming over each week to kick my ass right and proper, which has been great.  We have had 22 training sessions together and the differences have been profound.  I still have a ways to go, but compared to where I was last December, I have seen real progress working with the personal trainer. 

So, net net things are still going well.  Lots of things going on to keep me busy and some new workout equipment that I will post about shortly. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

15 months and 1.5 pounds ... or 51.3 pounds down

Achievement unlocked!  I hit a significant milestone this morning, weighing in at 184.9 pounds, which: i) brings me within 20 pounds of my goal; ii) makes me a middleweight for the first time in 15 years (and potentially a "Rumbleweight" welter, depending on how much Johnson lets himself go).  Even more significant, my weigh in this morning marks the successful end of a 15 month fight to lose the weight gained from not one but two major backslides, one when I was job hunting and hating my work and one at Christmas last year when I gave myself permission to eat All The Food (although I must tell you, the Nerd's sugar cookies are delicious). 

All in all I put on - and lost - and regained - and relost 51.3 pounds over these 15 months.  But now for the first time in 15 months I am seeing a weight on the scale that is lower than before.  This morning, I am finally back to losing weight rather than relosing weight I had only recently lost .  I am breaking new weight loss records, in other words. 

To date I have lost 149 pounds (counting linearly from what I weighed in January 2012), which brings me to within 20 pounds of my ultimate goal of 165.  The last time I weighed this much/little was in late 2000 or early 2001, right after I had starved my way to a normal weight and then immediately resumed my poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle.  Needless to say, with my eating habits and compete lack of exercise I did not retain my losses, and by spring of 2002 I had put on more than 75 pounds from my low.

This is less likely to happen now for a few reasons.  First, my eating habits have seriously evolved over the past 3 years since I have begun working on this lifestyle change.  I understand portion control, I focus on drinking enough water in a day, and I do not binge eat as long or as frequently as I used to.  I also eat more fruit and vegetables and much less cheese and carbs than I used to.  That's not to say that I don't love cheese and carbs, but I just don't make them the focus of every course of every meal like I used to.

Second, my exercise habits have dramatically changed.  I enjoy the time on the elliptical in the morning, and regular exercise is now just a normal part of my day, rather than a tedious chore to be endured.  I like staying active, and I enjoy being able to walk around the city with the Nerd. 

Third, and most importantly, I have a supportive helpmate in the Nerd who keeps cooking us delicious, healthy meals and doesn't try and undermine me by bringing irresistible treats into the house.  I do not exaggerate when I say that I could not have achieved this without his support and encouragement. 

Finally, I am gradually adopting a more zen-like approach to weight loss.  I understand that some months my body simply chooses to retain all the water and I will put on weight for no apparent reason.  And some months I will crave snacks more than others.  No matter, though - - I understand at a very basic level now that putting on a pound or two - or five or ten - is not the end of the world just as long as I get my head back into my program and focus on eating well and exercising regularly. 

Case in point was my recent trip to the Mothership in Atlanta.  I enjoyed many meals out and sampled a variety of wonderful southern cooking including ribs, pimento cheese, fried chicken and collard greens and banana pudding.  I ate wayyyyy over my normal calories during that trip and came back to Toronto about 8 pounds higher than when I had left.  Rather than getting despondent however, I knew that much of this would be sodium-induced water weight that would come off quickly once I got back into my routine.  And the weight that did not come off quickly would come off slowly, but it would still come off.

The first time I lost a significant amount of weight (back in 2000) I did not have this certainty.  Each pound was a struggle, and when my weight started creeping up again once I resumed my poor eating habits and stopped exercising (i.e. almost immediately), it felt like I could never take the weight off again.  The task felt overwhelming, and therefore it quickly became overwhelming.  I can tell you from brutal - and repeated - experience that it is much easier to lose 5 or even 10 pounds than it is to lose 50 or 100 pounds. 

So this morning I weighed 184.9 pounds.  19.9 pounds to go until I reach my goal weight.  I expect than my target weight zone will end up being 165 pounds +/- 5 pounds, and as long as I keep within this range, all will be well.  We'll see how it goes. 

Onward and downward!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

March Measurements

After this week's weigh-in at which I came in 20 pounds down since I started withing with my personal trainer, I suspected that my measurements this month would be interesting to see.  And as you can see from the chart above, so they are.

I lost 4 inches this month and I have lost 10.5 inches overall since I began working with the trainer.  Since I first started working out back in January of 2012 I have lost more than 64 inches, or more than 5 linear feet.  This explains why I fit into airplane seats more comfortably now.  It doesn't explain how I ever fit in an airplane seat in the first place, but that's a mystery for another time.

The photos also show the progress with the trainer:

My objectives when I began working with the trainer were to continue to lose weight to help me reach my goal of no longer being overweight, and to tone things up.  So far Mr. Fitness is delivering on both objectives, in spades.

I am stronger, more confident, and more comfortable in my body than before I began working with the trainer, and that's all to the good.  We will see what April has in store.  Hopefully I can continue to see positive results.  I don't expect to see the dramatic changes that I saw in March, but I want to keep improving over the next month.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

New Clothes [with photos]

In preparation for my trip down to the Mothership in Atlanta next week I thought a couple of new outfits were in order. 
Calvin Klein dress

I picked up a couple of new dresses, both perfectly fitting off the rack in a size 12, a nice red t-shirt in medium and a shrug, as well as a pair of nude shoes for the new dresses.  When I was looking for the shrug to go with the colourful dress, the sales clerk at the store looked me up and down and said "you're a medium, yes?" (!).  In fact I am, now, a medium, down from a 3XL.  Yay!

Betsey Johnson dress
As if all that weren't nice enough, I picked up some pantyhose to go with my new outfits (because legs this pale are not allowed out in public uncovered at any time).  For the first time in memory I am do not require queen size pantyhose!  I am a "medium-tall" at my height and weight (i.e. a normal size rather hose than plus size), and the pantyhose fit perfectly, with no penguin legs at all (ladies, you know what I'm talking about when your pantyhose is too short and the crotch hits somewhere mid-thigh).  I was nervous about trying on the pantyhose because it has been about 15 years since I have worn anything other than queen size, but the fit is perfect (with room to spare, even).  It's a little thing, but it's a personal victory for me. 

All in all it was a triumphant day. 

20 Pounds Down with the Personal Trainer

My work with Mr. Fitness continues to pay dividends.  In all honesty, getting a personal trainer has been the second-best fitness decision I have ever made, second only to my initial decision to start exercising in the first place. 

Last month I felt a bit like I was treading water in that although I was confident that my hard work would eventually pay off and I was losing weight, it was coming off in dribs and drabs.  I suspected that I was in for a major loss after I passed that little plateau and I was right - - this month has seen some dramatic losses.

All in all I have lost 20 pounds under Mr. Fitness' tutelage since the beginning of the year, which is just amazing.  My body fat has come down as well, directionally.
Consider how far I have come - - when I started working out my BMI was a whopping 49.3.  Think about that for a moment.  It took me months of working out to lose 63 pounds which lowered my weight just enough that my BMI would even register on most charts, which typically only go up to 40 BMI.  Now my BMI is under 28, and on the way to a normal 25, eventually.

As you can see from this chart, above, this is the third time that I have reached this weight zone since I began to get fit back in 2012.  The first time was in the summer and fall of 2013, and then again in November 2014 and now again, just recently.  That zone from 193-203 has proven to be my achilles heel, time and time and time again.

This is a very dangerous place for me because I am getting close enough to my goal that it is within reach, but I am still far enough away that it will take a lot of work to get there.  In the past I have found ways to sabotage myself, mostly by giving myself permission to rest on my laurels and break discipline for a day or two...which turns into a week or two...which turns into 20 or 30 pounds.  After all, it's just so damn easy to say "I've done so well this week and lost so much, I deserve a treat day"...  Trust me when I say that as a professional binge eater* [*retired], I can undo in one day of massive eating what has taken literally weeks of work to accomplish.  Talk about demoralizing.

This week had the potential to set me off on that bad path again.  A project at work was facing some challenges that required me to devote most of my week to putting out fires, with a lot of meetings with senior management and stressful conversations.  Lots of work that completely derailed my usual load of work, in other words, so it has been a week that almost made me flashback to the days at the old law firm, when I would not leave until 9-10 pm at night on a regular basis. 

At one point on Tuesday after yet another issue popped up on this project I caught myself eyeing the candy machine in my office with malice aforethought.  I was seconds away from letting loose when I decided to look at my weight loss progress graph (the one you see above).  It was like having a bucket of cold water dumped on my head - - I immediately stopped craving chocolate because I didn't want to undo all of that progress I had worked so hard for.  This in itself was a major win.

Mr. Fitness came over to kick my ass on Tuesday as well, so it was the perfect end to a stressful day - - we lifted things and put them down and I balanced more than I previously had and I bench pressed 90 pounds (a new record for me) and I sweated out all those negative feelings.  I don't know if I got any endorphins out of my training session, but I sure as hell felt better afterwards.  And the best thing was that I was seriously looking forward to working out with Mr. Fitness, because a hard workout was exactly what I needed to help me deal with the stress of that week.  And I was right - - it was just what the doctor ordered.

Which was important, because Wednesday I found out that I was getting a new boss, someone who up to that day had been my nominal peer.  This lawyer is senior to me in the company, having joined about 4 years ago, and he is slightly senior to me in legal experience as well - - he was the year ahead of me in law school.  He is a bright and extremely competent lawyer with excellent judgment and a solid skill set, and he has earned the respect of the bottling organization with whom he does the bulk of his work.  I have no doubt that he has the ability to succeed as the new VP and General Counsel of the pop factory here in Canada.

But... I am mourning the fact that I am losing (in a way) the best boss that I have ever had.  I had such an immediate and easy rapport with my boss that it made not only my job easier, but was a large measure of why I enjoyed coming to work every day.  Suffice it to say that I do not have the same easy rapport with my new boss, who is as unlike me in every way as my old boss was similar.

To be clear, my old boss is not being fired or retiring - - he is moving back to the mother ship in Atlanta and he will still be available to counsel and mentor me from there, just as he has done here in Toronto.  That fact alone is helping to keep me positive through this transition, which will be difficult enough.

The biggest challenge is that I will need to discover, together with my new boss, how we communicate and work together as boss-direct report where previously we had been peer-peer.  There will be some changes, for sure, but lots of opportunity for me, so I am looking forward to it, in a way.

But still, it rocked my world for a couple of days, and definitely set me back on my heels.  It would have been so completely easy - and understandable - for me to go out, get drunk, and eat all the food.  But I didn't.  I indulged in a little retail therapy, which in a way helped keep me on track because I bought a dress and a suit in a slightly smaller size - - I can't eat all the nachos and still fit into that nice size 12 dress, nosir!

So it's been a busy week just chock full of stress.  Next week is shaping up just as challenging, as I will be travelling to Atlanta for the first time to meet with the senior legal team down there - - people who are important to impress, in other words.  No stress there, nope!  I am totally bringing my workout clothes with me so that I can work out in the hotel gym, that's for damn sure.

Friday, 20 March 2015

1.5 pounds down ... 25.5 pounds to goal

It's been a good week, all things considering.  I have gotten back into my healthy routine after my little break last week and I have been really enjoying how easy it is to stay within my calorie goals with our new portioning of meals. 

And the work is paying dividends.  I lost another pound and a half this week to being me down to 190.5 pounds, which is only 25.5 pounds away from my goal.

I was laughing with The Nerd on one of my walks to work this week that I was able to lose the first 120 pounds in about a year, and the next 20 pounds have taken 2 years.  Mostly because I have had to keep losing them over and over and over again. 

But now that I am comfortable that I really know how to lose those particular pounds (195 lbs-210 lbs, I'm looking at you!) it has been somewhat easier to keep going.  I joke, because otherwise I would be depressed at how my intermittent self-sabotage has repeatedly set me back.  I really am chagrined at myself how often I have had to dust myself off and recommit to my lifestyle change.  Smart people do not take so long to learn what works.  Ah well, I never said I was smart, just doggedly determined and stubborn as hell.  That works almost as well sometimes.

The good thing is that since working with Mr. Fitness my progress has been much more linear.  Even when I go slightly off the rails with food my workouts push me so much that I never regress for long.  And even when I do mess up I know that I will soon be on track - - that's amazingly important, because it keeps me from getting too despondent over periodic slips. 

Speaking of Mr. Fitness, he well and truly kicked my ass last night with a high intensity interval session.  Just brutal, but it felt great.  And it felt even better to stop, let me tell you!

I have received a ton of compliments on how I look this week, so I think that I have reached another milestone of toning.  It's the kind of progress that I don't notice because I look at myself every day, but is apparently dramatic to other people, judging by the comments.  The Nerd and I had dinner with my old landlords on Monday night and she whispered to me that when she saw me she told her husband that I "look tight".  I think that means "toned", because as a lawyer, I am by nature a tight ass - - there would be nothing new to comment on.  Ha! 

Another weekend is on the way, and before you know it the end of the month - and measurements - will be upon us.  I'm just going to keep plugging away and see where it takes me. 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A Challenging Week, but another NSV...

This week for some reason I went a bit off the rails with snacking, something I haven't done in quite a while.  But all is not lost - I had another NSV this week, so there's that!

I have noticed that I am more prone to do things like this - - engage in a minor blowout - - after hitting new milestones.  Last week I lost another pound to bring my total weight lost to 140.9 pounds, with the 180s (pounds, that is) only a hop, skip and a jump away.  It is only natural that I would find chocolate damn near irresistible under these circumstances, of course.  Sheesh - self-sabotage much?

The weekend started off positively enough, at a dinner party with friends after a 3-hour visit to the Metro Toronto Zoo.  It has been more than 10 years since I have been to the Zoo and it was a lot of fun.  With my improved fitness levels it was actually a pleasant enough walk around the various exhibits looking at the animals, rather than the grim death march that it would have been for me before I started working out. 
Echidna, Snow Leopard, Giant Panda and Red Panda [clockwise from top]
It was actually quite neat to see some of the animals out and about, especially ones known for hiding (like the Echidna) or sleeping (like the pandas and snow leopard).   I really enjoyed seeing all the exhibits we could, even though it was still a bit nippy out.  I was generally comfortable, but my hands got cold whenever I stopped to take photos, which was often.  My only regret is that we did not get to see the tigers, rhinos or giraffes, because by the time we reached those exhibits it was closing time and the animals had been taken off display for the evening. 
Trouble started at the dinner where I ate more than I intended, in part because our hosts had clearly gone to a lot of trouble to choose foods that the Nerd and I could eat.  Honestly, though, I just took a day off from good eating discipline. 

The trouble for me is that a day off is never just a single day usually turns into two or three.  And so it was for me this week - - a couple of days of snacking, followed by an unplanned rest day, just in case the snacking wasn't sabotage enough. 

The good news though is that once I shook my head and got back into my routine it was easy enough to get back on track.  Mr. Fitness came to kick my ass on Thursday and we had a great session.  I learned how to do a clean and jerk, something I worked on again in my weekend weight session. Plus, we had fun passing and slamming a medicine ball around. 

Even better, the Nerd has figured out how to help me with food.  I have previously really struggled when my target daily calories has hit 1450 or lower, because many of our Jamie Oliver meals, although balanced and delicious, top out at 700+ calories.  This makes it almost impossible to eat under my target calories in a day and requires me to eat back some of my exercise calories.

This is always risky because estimates of calories burned are notoriously inaccurate, even with the heart rate monitor or pedometer, so I seldom eat back the full calories my workouts allegedly give me.

This week, coincident with me getting back on track (yet again!), the Nerd suggested arranging our meals into smaller portions.  Instead of making a recipe that serves 4 and portioning it into 4 servings, we are portioning it into 6 servings.  Bingo - instant calorie reduction, with a barely noticeable reduction in portion size.  We top up the meals with extra vegetables for bulk, and even with reducing the carbs in most meals I haven't felt deprived in the least. 

The combination of getting the snacking back under control, continuing my ass kicking workouts, and eating more manageable portions has brought be almost within spitting distance of last week's low weight, even after losing my mind with snacking this week.  I'll take that.

The food thing has always been (and I suspect will always be) my Achilles heel.  But I feel more optimistic about my ability to work with my nutrition plan now that we are consciously managing down our portion sizes.  This strategy should easily work until my calorie target gets down to 1,300 calories per day, which won't be a while yet.  Importantly, I don't feel so helpless to hit my calorie targets - - it feels like I can still eat reasonably and stay within my target numbers with our new portioning plan.  And that is a very good thing.

Now on to the NSV. 

I ordered some new workout clothes from Old Navy last week because I have been spending more time living in yoga pants and sports bras at home because of my 6x/wk workouts.  Girlie needs clothes to properly sweat in, after all. 

Along with the yoga pants and workout shirts I ordered a pair of button fly "boyfriend" jeans in size 14.  Given my - ahem - badonkadonk I expected that these would be aspirational jeans that would fit me in a month or so. 

For shits and giggles I put them on yesterday, just to see how far I was from fitting into them.  Yeah, so they were loose. (!!)  Now I understand that each pair of jeans is like a precious snowflake, and each style and manufacturer fits a little bit differently, so a size 14 in one style for one brand will not fit like a size 14 in another style or brand.  But the fact remains that I have a pair of button fly jeans that are size 14 that fit this girl, and that makes me very happy.

Sadly, I cannot wear these magical jeans to the office because they are distressed with holes in the knees (not appropriate for the Pop Factory's dress code, natch), but they are great kicking around jeans for weekends.  Also, super comfortable.  Added bonus - - I love button fly jeans. 

So this week has had a little bit of everything.  Some social activities, some good workouts, some bad eating, some food epiphanies, and some clothing wins.  All in all, a good week.

Tomorrow night the Nerd and I are having dinner with my old landlords, so I will have to do some menu planning tonight so that I keep more or less on track at the restaurant.