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 back...one 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!