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. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

NSV - Wore a shirt without a jacket at the office today

... and got a ton of compliments!

The shirt in question.  No, I did not wear yoga pants to the office.

Normally I wear a suit at the office, because it's professional, and I'm a tight-ass lawyer.  That, and I have not been a huge fan of my arms over the past 10 years or so. 

Last night Mr. Fitness came over to kick my ass for our usual session (we did a "pull day", in case you were wondering), and we talked about the different things that motivate different people. 

Those of you who have read back into my earlier posts of this blog will know that I have an almost unholy love of spreadsheets and tracking apps.  I find the mere act of tracking my workouts and progress to be incredibly motivating.  After all, the more things that I track, the greater the likelihood that one metric, at least, is going to be moving in the right direction.  Since I have started working out more than 3 years ago I have, at various times, tracked my weight, body measurements, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar, A1C, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, cholesterol, resting heart rate, working heart rate, and workouts within various heart rate zones.  As these metrics have become - or remained - normal I have stopped tracking everything daily or weekly as I once did.  Fasting blood sugar, for example, I only track once in a while to check to see that I am still in the normal range. 

This came up in the context of discussing the Trainerize app that I regularly use with Mr. Fitness - - it's right in my sweet spot, a combination of tracker and something to check off every day.  I love that Mr. Fitness has this tool available.

But Mr. Fitness also talked about the non-scale victories that are also an important part of working out.  Like feeling more confident. 

It's no secret that I have been loving the changes that have happened since I have started working with Mr. Fitness.  He has really kicked my workouts into high gear and his targeted approach is yielding positive results.  I know that we're both working at this - - I try and eat well every day (or at the very least, more often than not, even in a bad week), and I work out 6-7 times a week, even though Mr. Fitness and I only get together once a week.  But the whole is really greater than the sum of the parts in my case, and I have started to really feel good about what I am looking like.  Still a long way to go, but I am definitely seeing noticeable improvement. 

I was feeling so good that this morning I decided to wear a form fitting top into the office without a jacket or other cover-up (it was casual Friday, after all).  Normally I would have hidden this under a jacket or sweater or bunny hug, but today I decided "screw this - I have been working on my arms for a reason - let's show 'em off!".

It turns out that jackets, sweaters, and bunny hugs have one major effect: they contrive to hide how much my shape has changed with my workouts.  It makes sense, in a way.  Adding layers hardly ever makes anyone look lighter, after all.  Layers just hide how heavy you are.

Well today I was coming back from making myself some tea in the Company kitchen and I walked past a group of people who sit near my office.  They were surprised to see me without my usual layers of camouflage, and said all sorts of nice things, the gist of which was: "Wow!  You look great!  How much weight have you lost with the trainer?" When I told them how much (13 pounds, which now that I think about it is wrong, it is 14 pounds now), they were suitably impressed.  "We never see you without a jacket!  You look amazing" was another comment. 

These guys work with me and have heard my stories about working out with Mr. Fitness.  This only solidified his reputation as a miracle worker.  Regardless, though, it was a really great feeling to have people say such nice things about how I look.  Especially considering how much work I put into it! 

Now I will admit that for the rest of the day whenever I left my office I made a point of walking with my shoulders back and sucking in my gut as much as possible - - thank god no one stopped to try and speak to me, because it would have blown the gaffe immediately. 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

2 month progress with the personal trainer

As you know I let myself go completely off my program, food-wise, in December.  Too many social events, too many stressful things happening at home and at work, and frankly too many excuses - - I simply gave myself permission to eat like the "old days".  The "old days" being when I ate whatever I wanted and weighed more than 300 pounds as a result.  Yeah, those days sucked.

That could not go on, and a happy confluence of receiving a small inheritance coinciding with my hearing about the husband of one of my coworkers at the pop factory being a personal trainer led me to begin working with Mr. Fitness at the end of December of last year.

I was expecting to see results.  I knew that a trainer would both push me harder than I was used to pushing myself and that he would make me do things I had never done before (deadlifts, anyone?).  The combination of these two things I was certain would yield results - - I was sure that I would be stronger and more toned as a result of working with Mr. Fitness. 

But holy cow.  There is a difference between intellectually understanding that I would see changes in my body and actually seeing those changes.  Even with a couple of weeks of unbridled emotional eating at the beginning of January (around the restructuring in our office when I Ate All The M&Ms) I have seen positive results on all fronts.

Let's look at the easy things first.  I have lost 13 pounds since I started working with the trainer (and 139.9 pounds overall), and that is net of the January M&M binge and last week's Oscar party with multiple pieces of nutella flower and cookies(!).

I know that this is well-trod ground for me because it is easily the third time I have lost this weight, but I am confident that working with Mr. Fitness I can keep the momentum going this time.  I have no choice, frankly, as he takes no pity on me and pushes me more each week.  Which is kind of the point, I suppose.

My measurements tell the same story:

Everything is toning up under the trainer's ministrations.  Since I have begun working with Mr. Fitness I have lost an inch off my bust, 2 inches off my waist, and 2 inches off my hips.  My legs and arms are also more toned. 

All well and good - let's look at the photographic evidence, shall we?

These photos show only the period from when I started working with the trainer, to now, two months later.  My core and arms and legs are much more toned than when I started working with the trainer, and although my arms are not bilaterally symmetrical (thanks to my carpal tunnel in my left hand), I am getting stronger every week.  Overall I am much stronger than before I began working with the trainer, with better balance and coordination to boot.

If anyone is considering working with a personal trainer, I recommend it.  If anyone in the GTA area is considering working with Mr. Fitness, I doubly recommend it.  He is virtually a miracle worker.

It's not all up to the trainer, of course.  I work out 6 days a week - - only one of those days with Mr. Fitness - - and I have been really working hard to control my snacking (other than on Oscar night, of course).  It takes both of us to whip me into shape - - the trainer can't do it all by himself if I'm not motivated to change.  But I have to tell you - - it feels so much easier working with the trainer, because now I have a structure to my work, and I see that there is a point to it all.  And that point, kids, is sexy arms. ;-)

I'm not ready for bikini season yet, but tank tops may make an appearance.  ;-)