Monday, May 26, 2014

Adventures in weight loss, part 2

This year, one of my goals is to drop the 10 pounds that I've put on since college. I have a family, a full-time job, and lots of responsibilities, which means I don't have time to spend two hours a day at the gym. That probably puts me in the same position as 90 percent of the U.S. population. But that doesn't mean I'm giving up on taking care of my body.

Yesterday I talked about exercise. Today, healthy eating.

I'm not naturally a healthy eater. I gravitate to chips and cookies, not vegetables. Obviously that's not going to work when trying to drop pounds. I wouldn't call what I'm doing a diet, in that I think of a diet as either starving yourself or following some strange fad rules. Rather, I'm simply giving better fuel to my body.

Here are my rules, which I follow most of the time:
  • No sugary drinks. No soda or Kool-Aid. This isn't too difficult because I'm a sensory avoider and hate the bubbles of carbonation. I'm also mildly lactose intolerant, so milk is out. I limit myself to one cup of juice in the mornings with my breakfast, and one cup of coffee at some point during the day. Mostly I drink water and hot tea.
  • Healthy, not unhealthy snacks. My workplace has something called the trough, where my co-workers dump chips, cookies, doughnuts, etc. for shared consumption. The trough is about two feet from my desk, which means I spend most work shifts with a constant stream of folks coming by to graze. It's a temptation to join them. My solution: I bring my own fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, dried fruit, low-fat cottage cheese, oatmeal, etc. In other words, healthy snacks. Sometimes I indulge in a cookie or a couple of chips, but not nearly as much as I used to.
  • Bake, don't fry. Anything I make for dinner, I try to find ways to put it in the oven instead of on the stove with lots of oil.
  • No fast food. I make my lunches and dinners at home and bring them to work. Fresh vegetables, rice and baked meats. But not fish. I like fish, but I also like my co-workers, and I won't subject them to the stink of reheated fish.
  • Don't overeat. I've never been an overeater, so this is easy. I eat slowly, and when my stomach is full, I stop. Even if there's still food on my plate.
  • Nothing after 10 p.m. I work a late shift and get home between 8 and 9. Sometimes I'm hungry. If I get a snack, I aim for a healthy one, and I don't eat at all after 10 p.m., giving my body plenty of time to metabolize what I've already put in it before I go to bed.
That's about it. It's not rocket science. Mostly, it's common sense. But I've been surprised at the discipline it takes to stick to a regimen of healthy eating.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Adventures in weight loss, part 1

I've never been overweight. My BMI has always been in the healthy range. But over the past few years, my weight has been slowly creeping upward. Too much junk food, not enough exercise. By last December, I had risen to 10 pounds over the weight I had been in college. I was still in the healthy BMI range, but this worried me nonetheless, and I started on a quest this year to drop those 10 pounds.

The two keys to this are to exercise more and eat healthier.

Following this advice, since Jan. 1, I have lost 7.5 pounds.

That's not a dramatic amount by any stretch, but I did give myself an entire year to lose the weight. Being almost to my goal by late May is encouraging for me, especially after I had to stop any and all exercise for 10 weeks because of a rib injury.

Here's what I've been doing. Let's start with the first part, to exercise more.

I used to be a runner. I was on my high school track and cross country teams, and after college I kept myself in shape and ran in 5K races. At my peak, I was running about 6 miles per day. That was before marriage and kids. Of course I wouldn't trade my family for anything in the world, but my physique has suffered. I simply don't have time to exercise the way I want to.

My daily routine since the start of the year is to first walk the dog; usually we go for a couple of miles or so. I don't push myself, but we walk at a good clip.

When I get home, I pull out my iPad and fire up my exercise apps.

The first one is for abs. Back in the day, I had a six-pack. Fifteen years and two pregnancies later, the six-pack is long gone. I'd like to get it back. This particular abs app has three levels of difficulty. I started at level 1, which got me 240 reps of moderate difficulty in about 12 minutes. At the start of May, I moved up to level 2, which is 320 reps of moderate-to-hard difficulty in the same time span. For a week, I couldn't move without pain. It's better now, but I'm still calling it my "abs torture" every morning. Maybe it's my imagination, but I think I'm starting to see the results.

App No. 2 focuses on the butt: leg lifts, bridging and lunges for about 12 minutes. Why? Mostly just for the hell of it. I need to burn calories, and this is as good as anything else. I'm still on level 1 here, not because it's difficult (it's not) but because I'm not ready to amp this one up until I'm more comfortable with the level 2 abs. I'm seeing the results of this one mostly in my thighs.

In all, my morning exercise routine takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

Next time: Part 2, eating healthier.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What a week

Here is the good part about this week:
  • My oldest son is graduating from high school. The ceremony is Thursday morning. I am a very proud mother.

And the bad:
  • My daughter has pneumonia. The poor girl has already suffered through strep throat this year, and now this. And the pneumonia is on top of an asthma attack that almost got her hospitalized.
  • On the drive home from the doctor's office yesterday, where we spent two hours because of asthma and pneumonia, I was rear-ended at a red light by a driver who then just took off. Thankfully, no damage to my car. But a hit-and-run with my sick child in the back seat ... not cool. In addition to taking care of my daughter, I spent the afternoon filing reports with the police and my insurance company.
  • My oldest son -- the one graduating tomorrow morning -- managed to get his cellphone stolen by leaving it in a public bathroom.

The week looks lopsided, that's for sure. I'm hoping for no more drama.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Happy May the Fourth!

For your enjoyment on the unofficial Star Wars holiday ...