My workout mix


It's the end of the month! I made it through the entire month of exercising and eating right! Sure, I had some setbacks [grumble grumble stupid ankle] but I still persevered. I'll post tomorrow with all my official updates, but I just wanted to have a mini celebration. And with a celebration comes music. To be specific, workout music. Music is a huge motivator for me. If I don't feel like working out but know I really should exercise, I put on my workout playlist and it gets me moving. So, I figured I'd share it with you. I'm constantly adding to it, but this is its incarnation as of today. Welcome to my eclectic music collection.

1. Pokemon theme song
2. Tag Team - Whoomp! There It Is
3. Plain White T's - What If
4. The Dismemberment Plan - Onward, Fat Girl
5. Ministry of Magic - Dance Time
6. Justin Timberlake - SexyBack
7. Danny Dementor - I Wanna Be a Wizard
8. Nerf Herder - Mr. Spock
9. The Monkees - I'll Be Back Up On My Feet
10. Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position
11. The Dears - Whites Only Party
12. Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict a Riot
13. Backstreet Boys - Everybody [Backstreet's Back]
14. Death Cab for Cutie - Photobooth
15. Tsar - Band-Girls-Money
16. Rise Against - Ready to Fall
17. The Dismemberment Plan - OK Jokes Over
18. Veal - I Hate Your Lipstick
19. Blur - Song 2
20. At the Drive-In - One Armed Scissor
21. Patrick Wolf - The City
22. Florence and the Machine - Kiss with a Fist
23. Justin Timberlake - Rock Your Body
24. Ministry of Magic - The Bravest Man I Ever Knew
25. Nerf Herder - Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme
26. Troubled Hubble - I Love My Canoe
27. The Monkees - Tapioca Tundra
28. Proto Zoa - Supernova Girl
29. OK Go - Here It Goes Again
30. Rise Against - Re-Education [Through Labor]
31. The [International] Noise Conspiracy - Smash It Up
32. The Ditty Bops - Sister Kate
33. Tsar - Rebel Rouser
34. Veal - Skid

I tend to put on Girl Talks' "All Day" album while running, instead of this playlist. I lose track of time listening to that album, which is perfect for running.

My best friend keeps laughing at me for having the Pokemon theme song on here, never mind as the very first song, but it's actually a perfect workout song! "I wanna be the very best/like no one ever was"? YES. I especially like listening to it while doing kickboxing, it's great for punches. Of course, then it's followed up by Tag Team so I don't really know how credible my list is… [I first came across that song in one of the Mighty Ducks movies so it always reminds me of fun exercise, okay?]

Plain White T's "What If" was adopted as my personal theme song in 2006 when I was stuck in a 6 month weight loss plateau, and it motivated me to my goal weight and through training for my first race. It's pure inspiration.

What if nobody likes me
What if I don't succeed
What if I give it all that I've got
and it's not good enough till I bleed
What if I don't get anywhere at all
Will I consider myself a failure
Will I be that small
 NO!
I'm gonna keep trying
Getting denied just makes me want it more
I'll keep trying and each time push harder than before
I can't live my life always worried about what if
'Cause what if I die tomorrow
Then I never even lived

This song has kept me going so many times when I probably would've given up otherwise. Not just in weight loss and fitness but a whole lot of other things as well. Listening to it a month ago, after battling depression, poverty, near homelessness, loneliness, and weight gain [among other things!], set me firmly back on this path of fitness and positivity.

Most of the other songs are just great songs with an upbeat tempo, but this song really hits me as especially motivational so I wanted to point it out.

Hooooome!


Traveling yesterday left me completely exhausted by the time I got in around 4pm, and that weariness stayed with me until about noon today. So, I counted yesterday as a rest day. No problem with that! After all, I usually give myself one of those every week and I saved it from Sunday, my normal rest day, this week. So no guilt here!

This morning, I was supposed to go to Boston to hang out with a couple friends but I was just so exhausted still that I canceled. Instead, I finally pulled myself together around 11am and decided to start on my spring project: converting the basement into a workout room! The basement used to be, a long, long time ago, a functional area of the house… it was my grandfather's workstation [his tool bench and everything is still set up there], along with other things, but it's since become a catch-all for anything the family didn't feel like throwing out in the 60+ years they've lived here [at least I know where my packrat tendencies come from].

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This is the area I want to clean out and convert. It'll be great for the summer, a nice cool area when the rest of the house is sweltering [no air conditioning in the house, and I overheat very easily when exercising]. I'm excited for it… if I get it cleaned out in time! Today, I spent an hour and a half down there just cleaning out the cobwebs! It's pretty much cobweb free now, though, so that's exciting. I also moved a few things to a different storage area/to be thrown out, so it's a start!

Getting up and working on that got me energized so after lunch, I finally got some exercise in. 25 minutes on the Wii [EA Active 2], and then eventually buckled down and did 30 Day Shred. Ahh, I'm starting this again. Okay, I've done this before but really only when I was at/near goal and fit/working out every day. I tried doing it in December but that was when I was unknowingly suffering from a protein deficiency, and my muscles would take 2-3 days [at least] to recover. I thought it was just because I was so out of shape but no, it turned out that I had a deficiency. So, after a few attempts at that, I stopped… especially when the deficiency got so bad that I couldn't walk anymore. ANYWAY, now that that's all cleared up and my ankle is finally healed as well, I'm starting it back up and honestly? The first few minutes were hard to get through [but they always are, for some reason] but then it wasn't too bad. Not nearly as much of a shock to my system as I expected [but we'll see what my muscles say in the morning!]. Anyway, this time I hope to make it through the entire thing by the end of April [I'm giving myself a head start!]. Then it's onto more intense stuff.

Then, later, I did a kettlebell workout and my regular strength training. I'm at that odd middle point where modified pushups are really easy [the beginning of the month, I struggled to do just a few] but regular pushups are more of a challenge than I can handle at the moment. So for right now, I'm doing 5 regular pushups and then 10 modified per set. I'll eventually add more regular pushups, which is EXCITING! My bicep muscles are starting to show through all the fat, which is kind of awesome.

Today was rainy and the weather's supposed to be pretty dismal the rest of the week, but I'm hoping to take my bike out at some point. I'm going to start running on Monday, my ankle is finally healed and has been handling the little sprints I've been doing with no problem. I've decided to run a 5K in mid-July so I have to start getting ready! To say I'm excited is an understatement. I'm planning on doing a Color Run, and am trying to convince my sister to do it with me.

ALSO, I feel like I need to mention this. Today marked 30 days of being on plan! Maybe that's not a huge deal, in the grand scheme of things, but it's pretty big to me. I haven't had a streak like this in years. I'm definitely going to keep this going, because I feel GREAT!

Recipes of the Week

Here's something I want to make into a regular feature-- quick recipe reviews. I make pretty much everything from scratch and am always on the lookout for healthier versions of my favourite foods. I'm not so good at coming up with my own recipes, but I'm pretty good at veganizing things and cutting calories... Well, I'm a bit out of practice on that one but you know, I'll get back into the habit with practice.

Anyway, this week's list is pretty short because I only spent half of it at home and I've been relying on quick, easy foods like wraps and salads while in New York, but it's a good start.

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Chickpea Curry Pizza

First on the list: chickpea curry pizza [recipe here]. I ran around last weekend buying all the ingredients for this that I normally don't have on hand, like sunflower seeds and coconut oil. But, um, I failed to realize until I started making it that I'd run out of curry powder. OOPS! Mistake #1. Mistake #2, I should've put it into a recipe calculator and looked at the nutrition information before I made it... or ate some of it. [This is a process, remember. I'm not perfect!] The appeal was that it promised to be full of protein, which is a huge concern for me [after suffering from a protein deficiency multiple times, I tend to choose foods on protein content over anything else]. 

Nutrition information, for 8 servings per recipe: 322 calories, 25g of fat, 19.5g of carbs [6.5 fiber], and 9g of protein. Yes, it has a good amount of protein but also has a LOT of fat [healthier fats, but still].

It was tasty, but lacking a certain oomph that might've been solved by actually having the curry powder. Still, it appeared to be less like pizza and more like a casserole [the fact that the crust didn't hold together didn't help]. I loved the crust, despite its flaws, but I'd love to work on a lower calorie version. As it is, it's nice as a treat but definitely not something I'd make and eat on a regular basis.


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Banana Avocado Ice Cream
My main weakness when it comes to food is ice cream. This is what I attribute a lot of my weight gain in Chicago to. Chicago is home to Chicago Soydairy, which makes delicious ice cream, and I did my best to, uh, support them. All for the sake of friendship and local business, it had nothing to do with the fact that doing so meant eating lots of delicious ice cream... Okay, I know you don't believe me. I don't believe myself. Either way, once I was in an area that had vegan ice cream by the truckload, I lost most of my control. So I'm constantly looking for ways to make healthier ice cream. [Unfortunately, a former friend stole my ice cream maker so I've been lacking for the last year.] So when I stumbled upon this recipe [thanks, pinterest!], I immediately knew I'd have to try it.

The recipe came out more green than I'd expected [and more green than the picture shows, hmm], even though I ended up using 3 bananas instead of the 2 it called for. It was also very sweet, to the point where I'd cut down the agave nectar even more [also because that stuff is expensive!]. Aside from the overwhelming sweetness, it was delicious and I'm definitely going to make it again, just with some tweaks.

Nutrition information, 8 servings, as I made it [YMMV depending on type of milk used]: 193 calories, 7.4g of fat, 33g of carbs [5g of fiber], 2g of protein.


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Black Bean Brownies
I'd heard tales of using black beans in brownie recipes for a while now, so when I came upon this recipe, I just had to try it out. Not only was it low fat, but the inclusion of beans meant MORE PROTEIN! Yes, this is a recurring theme. I'm not a big brownie person in general [I'm allergic to chocolate, I can have a bit but a few brownies of the traditional variety make me sick], but I was curious to see if this would be a good alternative for parties and stuff. Anyway, I had some difficulties with the recipe because my blender is on its last life and did not want to chop up the beans, so I'm willing to admit some of the fault may be on my side of things. Still, although they came out decent enough, they were very chewy and not that impressive. I had one and froze the others for later, but I'm probably going to leave this recipe alone again until I get a new blender. We'll see if a new blender makes a difference.

Nutrition information: 85 calories, 1g of fat, 16g of carbs, 4g of protein. Not too bad for brownies, really.

travel challenges


I mentioned this briefly at the beginning of the week, but I'm currently in New York. I'm "working", not vacationing [I'm petsitting for a friend], but the tasks aren't really time-consuming. I prepared myself for this, knowing that my routine would be thrown off and I wouldn't have the freedom of always making the best choices. [I had a small food budget for the week, and this part of Long Island isn't the most vegan-friendly area… as I'm well aware already, I spent two years of college here and have visited it numerous times since.]

I was prepared, a little-- I brought some food that will help keep me on track [oranges and grapes for the bus ride, dried kidney and garbanzo beans, oatmeal and quinoa] and bought healthy choices at the grocery store once I got here. I brought my kettlebell, but I couldn't fit my dumbbells in my backpack [my friend has dumbbells as well but they're a bit heavier than the ones I use, so we'll see how that goes]. I brought my favourite exercise DVDs and am planning on making use of her collection as well. And for all that I'm not doing much different than I usually do at home, for some reason I'm having a harder time.

I mean, let's be gracious and ignore Wednesday, which I spent almost the entirety of traveling. Even ignoring that, it's still a struggle. In the kitchen, for instance, I don't automatically know everything. I spent ten minutes looking for a big bowl to make a salad in earlier today. I can't find any measuring cups other than a quarter cup [I can work with that, but still]. At home, I automatically know the measurements of my drinking cups [my smallest holds 6 ounces or half a cup of grapes, medium cups hold 12 ounces and biggest cups hold 16 ounces] but I have no idea when it comes to these. There's no dining table, and there is cable, so I'm constantly tempted to just sit on the couch, watch tv, and stuff my face while I'm at it instead of being active. Aside from the vague task of taking care of the animals [mostly the dog], I don't have things to fill my day and am tempted to give into boredom eating [I had lunch at 11am today! Why? I'd been awake for all of two hours!]. I'm relying on ready-made, sodium-heavy foods for my protein sources [Taco Bell and Subway the last two days, plus veggie dogs]. On top of all that, I don't have my scale to monitor my weight [no weigh in until Wednesday! This is worrying me more than it probably should].

I'm definitely out of my comfort zone [I mean that entirely in regards to weight loss. I'm plenty comfortable here otherwise!]. But I have to remind myself that being in a comfort zone isn't always the best thing. Challenges are good. So I'm going to make the best of this and hopefully, if nothing else, I'll leave New York knowing that I did my best.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go move a 90 pound dog from my exercise area. [Update: cardio workout done. Woo!]

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Looking for the bike path

Today, I was determined to go for a walk/partial jog. It was beautiful outside from the moment I woke up, but first I had some things to take care of. The hardest task every morning is to actually get out of bed… I'm not kidding! With nothing actually forcing me out of bed, or at least to stay out of bed [because the cats will get me up eventually, but I can go right back to bed after they're fed], it's a mental challenge I have to go through every morning. What can I say, when I'm left to my own devices, I'm inherently lazy.

But get out of bed I did, and I had breakfast, did my morning sparkpeople stuff and WiiFit body test [balance was PERFECT! i don't think i've ever gotten that before... a few fractions off, yes, but never perfect]. Then I did a couple loads of laundry, which is a constant nice weather task [I don't have a dryer, so all the "unnecessary" clothes & towels built up over the winter]. I've only got a few more loads to go, and then I'll be all caught up! Anyway, washing clothes totally counts as my arm workout for the day, because I don't have a washing machine and hand wash everything. Also, I tend to do squats during the process as well. See, I'm a multi-tasker! [I don't actually count it in sparkpeople as an exercise. I still have my strength training routine to do later!]

Finally, the laundry was washed and hanging out to dry in the sunshine, I had a nice lunch [roasted mushrooms and a slice of chickpea curry pizza], and got ready for a walk. Which actually took forever! I couldn't find anything, my sunscreen or my good headphones or my ipod case... I could tell that it had been forever since I went outside for some exercise. But I finally found things, or gave up on them, and headed out the door. I had two tasks I wanted to accomplish: find the bike path, and see if walkers/runners were allowed on it as well as cyclists [hey, you never know!]. If I'm going to take up running, I need somewhere safe to run [and, preferably, somewhere without a lot of random people able to see me!]. The sidewalks here are always broken [how I hurt my ankle at least one of the recent times] or, sometimes, nonexistent.

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Thanks for the sidewalk, Rhode Island. [It was even worse on the other side!]
After about 40 minutes, I came upon the only entrance to the bikepath that I know:

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Can you tell that the bikepath is neglected/underfunded?
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This side is prettier, but the sign's missing a few letters.
If I kept going straight, I think it would've eventually circled back to my city, but I decided to go turn onto the path. I'll check out the other direction when I'm on my bike, because it might still drop me off miles away from my house.

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I never found the river.
I walked for a bit and saw a few people but not many, despite the beautiful weather. The path was well marked and there were signs saying how many miles to certain spots on the route [and two thousand-something miles to Key West. Thanks, because I had half a mind to just walk there!]. I noticed that there was a picnic area just 0.4 miles away, so I figured that I'd walk there before turning around. This was just a brief excursion, after all, and I was wary of stressing my ankle.

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But what if I want to ride my bike in the opposite direction?
I could tell that once the trees start blooming, it'll be a beautiful spot to walk in [and well shaded!] but for the moment, it was kind of boring.

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It's definitely nothing to compare to the Lake Shore Drive bikepath, which I think I've been spoiled by with four years of living in Chicago:

Downtown skyline
On the plus side, Rhode Island's beaches are nicer. And not man-made.
I got to the picnic/rest area and surprise, I was right back on the road I had been walking almost the entire way to get here!

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Hmm, Stop & Shop *is* within walking distance. It seemed further during the winter!
Due to funding, the bikepath isn't completed and often goes back onto regular roads, which is a letdown [I know I've been spoiled by Chicago and its awesome bike culture, okay?]. Still, I'll make do with what I have. At that point, I didn't want to stress my ankle so I turned around and headed home. This side of the road, the sidewalks were even more non-existent and dangerous.

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And we wonder why more people don't walk around here...
I got home with no problems, the ankle was fine through the whole thing [although it did protest the very brief attempt I made at jogging... so I stopped that right away], and sparkpeople told me that I burned 450 calories on this walk. I don't believe that, but okay. I'm definitely going to make this a regular part of my exercise, whether biking or walking... once I get back from New York [I leave on Wednesday morning and will be spending pretty much all day tomorrow preparing].

A new journey begins...

Ooh, an intro post! Hi, my name is Fuchsia and I’ll be your lovely narrator for this journey. Although it’s not nearly as epic as Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mordor, it has its own importance on one small life… mine! You see, I’m making the journey towards a healthier self. I’ve done this successfully once before but depression, stress, poverty, and all sorts of other fun things got in the way. I lost my grip on my healthy lifestyle and fell back into lazy habits. So, at the beginning of this journey, I had 86 pounds to lose. I’ve already lost a few of those, so now I have 79.5 to lose [yes, that half a pound makes all the difference!].

I’ve been updating about my weight loss journey consistently on my sparkpeople page, which I will continue to do so, but this blog will focus almost entirely on exercise. Specifically, running and cycling. I love cycling and up until this past fall, I was biking 20-30 miles a day, every day, for a few years. Moving to a new city [where cyclists are rare, and commuter cyclists pretty much unheard of], one that isn’t good for winter riding, meant that I put my bike into storage for five months. Sad, as last winter saw me riding through a blizzard in Chicago, but that’s how it is. [I also use my bike as transportation, I don't own a car, so this means I've spent almost all of winter cooped up indoors.]

As far as running goes… well, I haven’t done that consistently for a few years. I started running when I reached my weight loss goal in 2007 and wanted something new to keep me fit. I loved it, ran a 5k and kept it up recreationally for a while… until an [unrelated] injury put me on rest. Then I just never picked it up again, aside from occasional sprints here and there while walking dogs. I haven’t done any running at all in about a year now but with the beginning of spring and my regained interest in fitness, I’m eager to start up again. I’m not waiting until I reach my weight loss goal this time, I’m going to start now! …or, in a few days when this sprained ankle is finally completely healed.

Aside from these two activities, which I’ll mostly focus on, I like and do a variety of other exercises as well. Actually, I kind of love exercising in general, so it’s a little weird that I’ve let myself get so out of shape. But I especially love kickboxing and yoga, and I’m developing a love for strength training, which I’ve never seriously done before. One day, I will master push-ups! I’m getting there, slowly but surely. I like activities that don’t require a gym membership or fancy, expensive equipment [as I can't afford those] so I almost entirely rely on my own feet and body weight. Besides my bike and running shoes, the other tools I own are a kettlebell, 3 and 5 pound dumbells, a jump rope, a balance ball, and a yoga mat. Not too shabby, considering my budget.

So… yeah, this the beginning of my fitness journey. Or, near the beginning.

weigh in #3


I… lost 4.3 pounds this week.

I am flabbergasted. I don't think i've ever lost that much weight in a single week, and especially not without doing lots of cardio. Strength training is awesome! Anyway, this makes up for the two lackluster weeks I had beforehand and brings my weight loss total to 6.5 pounds, an average of about 2 pounds a week [which is a great average! My super-hard-to-reach goal relies on losing 2 pounds a week!]. I know this week's number was big because my body was catching up to the previous weeks' efforts, just like I said it would, and I don't expect a huge loss like this every week [nor would it be healthy], but it's exciting all the same! This puts me back on track for my vaguely-defined-because-sparkp
eople-made-me-set-one goal of being at my target weight by my birthday.

Also: just 2 more pounds to go until i'm at 10% of pounds i need to lose, and I've recently never made it past the 10 pounds lost mark so that's something I'm aiming for. Usually I make it to 5 pounds lost, if that, before something derails me. I've passed that and am just going to focus on the next 5 pounds. If I break it down into bits like that, it's not so intimidating.

Besides that, today's my scheduled DOR which is good because I somehow managed to hurt my shoulder last night. It's just a little sore [and only when I move it one certain way], but it didn't go away with sleeping so a full day of rest will definitely help with that. Ankle-wise, I've got full range of motion again but I'm still going easy on it. I just keep telling myself that the more rest I give it now, the more time I'll be able to spend running on it later. That's just barely keeping me from going out for a run in this PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL SPRING WEATHER.

I hope everyone else's week is off to a great start!

hello, new shoes!


Okay, I wrote this morning about my ankle causing yet more problems, despite being absolutely fine when I woke up and me resting it a LOT. I had this whole entry about perseverance and even though my ankle was testing my will, I was going to succeed.

Well, it turned out to just be a cramp [that lasted about twenty minutes, but whatever] that went away with a little massaging. So that entry is scrapped. On the other hand, we can focus on MY BRAND NEW RUNNING SHOES!

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Say hello to… wait, do people name their running shoes? Do I care? Anyway, say hello to my new shoes that will have a name at some point, possibly. I am SO excited about them, despite being wary about skecher making running shoes [apparently they're surprisingly good, from reading reviews on running blogs…]. I've never had a pair of skechers shoes, running or not, in my life, so it'll be an experiment to see how they hold up [most regular shoes rarely pass the three month mark with me. I'm notoriously destructive with shoes, for some reason]. Also, they were only $35 [yay for my mom and her coupons! Their regular price was $65], which is a price that fits nicely into my budget [I have $100 for the foreseeable future] but… also makes me even more wary. look, i've never bought a pair of athletic shoes for under $80 that held up well. But, for $35, they seem nice enough. For all that my feet are destructive of shoes, they're not really fussy when it comes to different models. my ankle, especially, enjoyed the change from my falling-apart-and-offering-no-
support-whatsoever shoes. I can't wait to take them out for a proper spin… but my ankle's not up to that challenge yet.

I did do some light cardio today, and I mean *light*. Burned 50 calories in a half hour. I'd say it almost wasn't even worth it, but… burning any calories is always worth it. My ankle held up through it, but I'm not going to stress it just for the sake of getting a good calorie burn. I know fully too well that that would end up with me being unable to use it for another week or more! Anyway, I'm hoping that if everything goes well, I'll be able to go for a trial run [and by run, I really mean "fast walking with the occasional slow, painful jog" because it's been almost a year since I ran properly] on Tuesday, before I head down to New York for some house sitting. While I'm in New York, I'll be taking care of a huge Great Dane/pitbull mix who's VERY energetic, so I'm sure we'll be getting lots of exercise in!

Anyway, my mom dropped off Wii Sports last night when she came over to go shopping, so I plan on getting some boxing in on it now. That'll work up a good sweat, if I remember correctly. It was always one of my favourites! We also went grocery shopping while we were out, and even went to Whole Foods, so I was able to get specialty vegan things like seitan [!!!] and veggie dogs, and protein powder. So now I'm well prepared for days that I'm falling short on protein. Also, my fridge is stocked with fruits and veggies and I AM SO EXCITED THAT FRESH FRUIT IS IN SEASON AGAIN.

Okay, so I know that my ~official~ weigh-in isn't until Sunday but unless I really screw up the next two days [and I won't!], this morning's weight has passed the five pounds lost mark. I've been having a GREAT week, despite injured ankle, and the scale's been steadily moving downward. I've been hitting all my nutrition targets, especially protein [six days in a row! This is a HUGE improvement for me!], and getting in plenty of strength training while my ankle rests. And it's definitely all paying off.

Anyway, I was planning on going shopping on sunday for new workout shoes [my five pound reward, if you'll remember] but my mom said she can only go tonight, so I'm claiming an early victory over these pounds and buying new shoes tonight. After all, it's not like I don't need them. I do, desperately. So away we go! [In six hours.] Hopefully I'll find a good pair and won't have to wait some more to go to another town to the store I've always gotten my shoes from in the past [I love that store but it's in the complete opposite direction of everywhere else we need to go tonight].

Last night I went grocery shopping and let me tell you, if anyone feels like their weight training routine is lacking... come carry my groceries home. My arms are getting stronger and yet this was STILL a struggle. [I also think I bought heavier groceries than usual, oops.] But I finally managed to find quinoa at this store, so I was excited. I also stocked up on dried beans [cheaper AND lighter to carry home!] and lots of vegetables... oh yeah, and lots of tofu! I get a look from the cashier every time I bring up my six packages of tofu [well, six usually, only four yesterday because they were out of silken tofu] but whatever.

My ankle didn't like carrying the extra weight home, but it didn't protest too loudly and seems to be fine today. So I think it's almost ready for cardio again. Hopefully the new shoes will improve it further, but I'm not going to force it when it's not ready. As this week has proven, I can still lose weight without cardio exercise. I just... really miss it. AND I WANT TO START RUNNING!

Okay, time to go do my strength training while I impatiently wait for the day to pass faster.

spring/summer planning

It's sunny and in the low 70s today. For early March in New England, weather like this is pretty much unheard of. Wut we had a mild winter [and I think mild is an understatement!] and signs are pointing to a hot summer. I guess we're starting early with the summer weather, as well. Seriously, weather like this is May-June weather, not March!

But it means that I'm getting antsy for full spring, days filled with sunshine, and fresh fruit. I want consistent weather like this so I can start planting my vegetable garden. Just a few more weeks... if it doesn't suddenly drop in temperature again! That happens a lot, come April. Silly New England weather.

Anyway, the cats and I spent some time outside in the yard, enjoying the sunshine. Ginny just wanted to lay down and sunbathe, while Avocado wanted to roam around... he even tried to climb a tree but his indoor-all-winter muscles weren't up to par. How I understand, Avocado! I also did a few loads of laundry and hung them out to dry. If the weather stays like this all week, I might finally be able to catch up on my laundry! [I don't have a dryer so in the winter, I can only wash what fits on my one drying rack... which isn't a lot, and it takes 2-3 days to dry.] Also, bonus: I have a manual washing machine, not electric, so I get plenty of arm exercise while doing laundry.

Summer plans are brewing in my head. I'll hopefully be buying new workout shoes this weekend [I hope I hope I hope!] and then I'll start running. I've yet to decide whether to do Couch to 5K or not, I tend to just go with "run until I can't run anymore and then push myself a little bit further" and that's worked well for me in the past... but we'll see. Summer also brings my vegetable garden, as I mentioned. This will be my first time planting a garden entirely on my own and truthfully, I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing so if anything actually grows, it'll be a miracle! But it'll be a fun experiment all the same. And I plan on cleaning out part of the basement to use as a workout area, I couldn't do it during the winter because the basement is unheated. But it's full of junk [I'm from a family of packrats who has owned this house since the 1940s, I swear nobody ever threw ANYTHING out], I plan on going through it, organizing, and clearing one part of it for working out. This will be perfect for when those really hot summer days hit. My body doesn't deal with heat very well and if I don't have somewhere cool to work out, I just won't do it for fear of passing out. So, I'm already planning well in advance of those days to guarantee not giving up on my exercise.

As far as today goes, the ankle is doing much better, I'd say it's at about 80% [whereas yesterday it was 40% and Saturday, 20%]. I can walk on it, although I'm very careful about doing so. I've already resigned myself to giving it the entire week to heal completely, so I'll be able to pick out proper sneakers with a fully functional ankle. [Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that working out in my current sneakers had more than a little to do with these prevalent injuries.] Instead, I'm going to spend the week working on my abs and arm strength. I barely made it through 5 minutes of my ab dvd yesterday so it's crystal clear that I need to spend some time on that. Push ups are getting easier, although not yet easy. Once they get too easy, I'll stop doing them on my knees. That'll challenge me again! But, I'm not even near there yet. It'll take time... good thing I've got plenty of that!


Oh, also! I found a random unattached/unneeded railing in a closet today [I'd previously thought it was just a bar for the closet but it doesn't fit at all, it's one of the stair railings but just an extra one]. This is exciting because I CAN INSTALL IT TO DO BALLET BARRE WORKOUTS. Once I clear out a space in the basement for it, of course. I spent today doing laundry but as soon as I'm NOT busy doing laundry on a nice, warm day, i'm going to get started on the basement. Really, really excited for the basement exercise space, I hope it works out nicely!

Anyway, all ankle problems aside, I think this time, something has finally clicked. I mean, just look: despite persistent injuries that keep preventing me from doing cardio, I haven't given up. I keep trying. Every other time I've tried to lose weight recently, I've given up a couple days into an injury. NOT THIS TIME! I'm finding ways to just work around it instead. And I haven't given up on healthy eating just because I can't get cardio in. YAY ME! And I'm looking forward to doing cardio [I plan on starting running once i get my new sneakers], I just know that I have to let my ankle rest for a while before I do.

I weighed in officially today and I'm down another 1.2 pounds from last week. I will NOT get upset at how slowly the scale is moving... with this ankle, I haven't been able to work out properly for more days than not, and I had to completely sacrifice yesterday's work out. And besides, the scale is going DOWN, who cares how slowly? I know, at this rate I won't be able to wear that dress to the wedding... but I'm not completely sold on that dress, anyway. [I mean, for the wedding. I already bought it. Years ago.]

Speaking of the ankle... I don't know why, I did nothing to it, but yesterday it decided that it would be a great idea to cause a lot of pain [only when I hold my foot 9O degrees to my leg... which is, you know, walking] and swell up. COMPLETELY unrelated to the previous ankle injuries, I was fully healed from them and they never felt like this. So, I'm hobbling around the house and trying to put as little weight on it as possible. My left leg is working its muscles and, it turns out, so are my arms. My stairs have railings on both sides [my grandmother was wheelchair bound and before she lost both her legs, she had difficulty walking so they installed a second railing on the stairs to help her get up them], so I'm using my arm muscles to lift myself up and down the stairs. Thankfully, after two weeks of training, they're actually strong enough... I don't think I'd be able to do this if it was two weeks ago!

Anyway, I'm getting quite the arm workout, it turns out, and my left leg is building muscle by carrying all my weight around as well. This ankle better heal fast, or my legs will be disproportionate! Heh. Well, I can't do any real full body cardio for the next few days at least [I can't even stand to do my kettlebell workout!] so I think I'm going to dust off my abs workout dvd and concentrate on that.

ch-ch-ch-changes


They say that, when losing weight, change comes slowly. And that's true. But other times, it comes quickly.

The scale's barely budged, and I don't expect to have lost any inches since the beginning of the month, but I'm already noticing differences. Today, I made it through a full hour, no breaks, of cardio. Last week I felt like I'd die after twenty minutes, and today I thought that I could've kept going, even after an hour! I didn't, because I didn't want to tax my ankle too much [it made it through all the exercises fine, even the jumping!], but I would've gone for longer if it weren't for that stupid thing.

And then I did my strength training, which is definitely my least favourite part. Well, I do strength training during the other workouts, combined with cardio, but I'm supposed to do separate strength training on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday [except I tend to skip it a lot... oops]. Sparkpeople tells me exactly what to do, which is good. And last friday, I pretty much failed at it. Okay, I'm horrible at pushups, even the modified version. I know this. My arm strength is laughable and in addition to that, I have my always prevalent wrist problems. So last week, I barely got through the 2 reps of 12 pushups. And by "barely", I mean that I ended up breaking it down into four or five reps of a few each. With loooong breaks in between. Well, today, I got through the two reps with pretty much no problem [aside from the cats suddenly taking an interest in what I was doing, and one trying to walk UNDER MY STOMACH during it]. I was so impressed by this; I wouldn't say that I had an easy time of them, but it was definitely the easiest I've ever done them [even before the weight gain-- I did strength training back then, but I avoided push-ups!]. And the same could be said of everything I did. Last week, doing the superman, I could barely get an inch off the ground and hold it for a few seconds. Today, I was a few inches off the ground and held it for 15 seconds the first time, 1O the second. Definitely an improvement.

Tricep dips still kicked my ass [although not nearly as badly as last week, I should point out] but I think that's because they're completely unlike anything I've ever done in my entire life, and nothing in my other exercise routines helps out with them. I'm looking forward to the day they don't make me struggle as much. Maybe next week??

Nutrition-wise, today was a total success! I actually managed to hit ALL my targets [calories, carbs, fat, and protein], which is a big deal. I usually fall tragically short on the protein front, it's a problem with me. I mean, you don't get a major protein deficiency just by neglecting a gram or two of protein once in a while. Anyway, I've been trying to hit it but it's been difficult [next time my mom takes me shopping, I have to buy whole wheat flour... and she's bringing me couscous and quinoa which have lots of protein!]. I was actually thinking of going to Whole Foods and getting some vegan protein powder that they sell, because it's just been that difficult to get enough protein every day [seriously, most days I was falling 2O-3O grams short... which is half of my goal]. But today, I made it my priority to get enough protein and went searching recipes specifically for that. Still, even with trying really hard, I only just hit the very bottom of the healthy range [and I'd been trying all week, mind you, with no success]. *sigh* Maybe I should get some protein powder... just as back-up.

Graph!
Photobucket
Look at that failure of protein [that one spike is from a day I ate an entire package of tofu. One package of tofu = 47 grams of protein. Unfortunately, I can't afford to eat that every single day]. Also, yes, I know that my carbs intake is pretty high but it's almost all good carbs, with the exception of the pizza dough I made the other day. Really, most of the carbs come from fruit and oatmeal and stuff. I never realized how fast they add up!

Anyway, I DID hit my protein goal today so that was a success. And my exercises were great and I feel wonderful! Oh man, I'd forgotten exactly how great it feels to have endorphins running through your body all the time. Also, I can actually feel my body changing: my back's stronger [normally it would protest at back extensions, but not tonight!], I'm standing up straighter [I actually feel taller], plus my endurance is obviously improving. Tell me again why I stopped working out?

Injuries, ahoy!


So, I managed to twist my ankle the other day, the ankle that had just recovered from a minor injury the week before. Of course! It's not too bad, just a little sore but was twinge-y yesterday when I wasn't careful about how I stepped. So, I took it easy yesterday... or at least, on my ankle. Not so easy on the rest of my body. [I'm a huge klutz and have had woefully weak ankles my entire life so I've learned lots of cardio to do that doesn't bother it.] Sadly, I had to skip my "official" workout on EA Active's 30 day challenge because it involved lots of jumping, but I got in a different workout instead. I also did 15 minutes on My Fitness Coach [I love these Wii games!], that was at the beginning to just see if my ankle would hold up [it did]. And finally, towards the end of the day, I got a brief kettlebell workout in. Altogether, I did 49 minutes of cardio! Not bad for suffering from an injury.

I'm trying to work through some negativity I have. Recently, every time I've set my mind to exercise and get fit, I've suffered an injury just as I was settling into a routine. The injuries are always just coincidental, I'm not working out improperly or anything, I just have a broken body and this is the norm, sadly. But something always pops up a few days into a new routine, when the routine is so new that it throws me off balance and I end up dropping everything. Not just exercise, but also healthy eating and those habits I was trying to establish. As a result, it's another couple of months before I get back to exercise, usually with a few more pounds added on, and then the whole process happens again with a new injury. And I have this fear that it'll happen again, with this ankle. So I'm determined to just push through this little setback, do what workouts I can, and not give up just because of a small injury. Because injuries are very discouraging, but I also know that this is the price I pay for letting my body lose what strength it had built up through exercise a few years ago.

As it is, my ankle seems to be feeling a *lot* better today, so we'll see how exercise goes. I don't think I'm up to jumping on it just yet, but maybe everything else will be fine.

[My best friend is suffering from torn ligaments in her ankle, she hurt her ankle the same way i did, so we've founded the "stupid ankles club" and have been sending each other complaints about not being able to work out properly. At least there's some consolation...]

Organization!

Yesterday, I took the time to organize my weight loss plan and goals. This is where the resources on sparkpeople really come in handy: I know how to lose weight, eat less calories than what your body burns, but it's only one very small part of the puzzle. Motivation and having your goals clearly defined are two other pieces. So, I sat down and wrote some short term AND long term goals, as well as a rewards system. [I've had people tell me that object rewards aren't proper motivators because we already have too much stuff. Speak for yourself, this girl who's been unemployed for half a year and under-employed for the two years before that DOESN'T have a lot of "stuff" and certainly doesn't object to rewarding herself with something she's earned.] I also went around the house and put up a bunch of motivators. Ready for some pictures? Okay.

 
First off: pictures of family members, on my bureau. My family is plagued with health problems, on both sides. My father, that handsome man in the white navy uniform, was morbidly obese my entire life [this picture was taken years before I was born], something that played a huge factor in developing and dying from breast cancer. His sister, one of my favourite relatives, has a so far benign breast lump and has been struggling to lose weight to improve her chances of staying healthy. Our family carries the BRCA2 gene [no clue if i have it, yay lack of health insurance!], and being overweight increases our chances of developing breast cancer by something like 4O%. I don't want breast cancer. That's pretty much my main motivation for losing weight.

In the small picture beneath my dad is my mom's family: her parents and brothers [no clue why she wasn't in this picture, hmmm]. My grandmother had diabetes, and complications from that caused her to lose both her legs when I was young. She also had a host of other health problems like heart disease. My grandfather is pretty much the sole exception to unhealthy behavior in my family: he stayed fit and active his entire life, barely slowing down for old age. He died a couple years ago at the age of 89, not from heart problems or anything, just from being old. Until he died, he was still walking to the grocery store and living alone in his house [my house, now], perfectly fine. He died peacefully in his sleep. That's how I want to go, at a ripe old age, not prematurely like his wife.

 
In the dining room, right next to where I start my day with a healthy breakfast, is a calendar where I cross off every day I exercise [I started to write down exactly what I did every day but that got boring and besides, it was unnecessary since everything's logged onto sparkpeople]. This visual is extremely helpful for me: with really bad ADD and no job to keep me aware, I tend to lose track of the days and weeks. If I don't cross off every day I exercise, I will honestly think, "Oh, I just didn't exercise yesterday, that's not too bad" but in actuality, it's been three weeks. [This has actually happened before. I have literally no grip on the flow of time unless I try really hard.] Plus, it's satisfying to look back on a month and see how hard I worked!

 
On the dining room table is a lovely centerpiece of oranges [or other various fruit], enticing me to both eat healthy and sit down at the table to eat. This tactic must be working: I took this picture about 24 hours ago and now there's only one orange left, plus I ate all three meals at the table yesterday! Also, hey, there's my bike, waiting for the winter to go away so we can explore the bike path.

 
One more picture from the dining room: my ice skates. Not only are they a great motivator for me, they also make a great decoration! [They'd probably be ~prettier~ if i took off the skate guards but oh well.] I've been ice skating for as long as I can remember. I had dreams of being a professional figure skater but I didn't have the patience for ballet [and nobody told me that I absolutely had to be good at ballet to be a figure skater... I was four, okay?], so I briefly turned to speed skating and now only skate as a hobby. Still, I've kept up with it all these years, living in Chicago was great for that because they had tons of outdoor rinks during the winter that were free as long as you didn't have to rent skates. So, while I was in grad school or working downtown, I went skating about once a week during the winter. This winter, however, I had to entirely pass the season by. I attempted to go skating once with my sister but I was, unbeknownst at the time, suffering from a protein deficiency that caused a *really* intense pain in my lower leg. So in two hours, I only got maybe a half hour of skating in because I could only skate a couple laps before having to get off and rest my leg [it got worse in a few weeks, to the point where i couldn't walk half a block, but I'm recovered now!]. Anyway, it was sad to see the entire season pass me by, and I'm determined to not let that happen again. By next winter, I'll be ready for skating. And, my 5O pounds lost goal is to buy a new pair of skates, because these are getting old and need to be replaced.

And now we come to the clothes part of the motivators. those goals were all about getting my health back; these are more about the "looking good" part of losing weight. Hey, I can be shallow at times!

 
I have a goal to fit into this dress, nicely, by September 21st [my brother's wedding]. It's a high goal, to do so I'd have to lose an average of 2 pounds a week, but I'm at least aiming for it. I first wore this dress in winter of 2OO5, to a friend's wedding, when I was around 16O pounds, which is a lot of weight to lose in 6 months or so. And hey, I might find another dress to wear that's even better! But at least it's giving me something to work towards.

 
Jeans! Okay, these are my "goal weight" jeans. They're a size four and to fit into them, I have to lose 12 inches in my hips. JUST my hips, I don't know about my thighs and anything else. Anyway, they fit very comfortably when I was 135 pounds [yay tiny frame and absolutely no hips whatsoever to speak of!]. I've been dragging them around the country for years because I'm stubborn. It's time to fit back into them. Well, it's not time yet, but you know what I mean.

 
And finally, a bikini. Because, like I said, I can be shallow too. I want to wear this again and look good. I don't care if people can see my stretch marks or scars [I have lots of other more noticeable scars that people never comment on as is, so I'm okay with visible scars]. I want to wear this for me. [Sadly, I lost the top to the really adorable blue with white polka dots bikini I have... but maybe I'll find something to go with it by next summer.]

Okay, now that I've spent two hours writing up all this, time to list my goals!

SHORT-TERM GOALS, for the next two months
-build up exercise to 2 hours of cardio at a time
-be able to run 5k
-work up to 15 pound kettlebell
-get heels to touch the floor during downward facing dog
-buy pair of jeans i feel comfortable in/don't muffin top out of [i only wear skirts/dresses because i feel REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE in jeans since i started gaining weight, but hopefully things will change with the numbers finally going down]


LONG-TERM GOALS
-weigh 135
-fit back into size 4/6 jeans
-bikini!
-run a 1Ok
-complete a cycling tour


POUND REWARDS
5: new sneakers
11 [5%]: charm bracelet
2O: charm
22 [1O%]: heart rate monitor
3O: charm
4O: charm
5O: new ice skates
6O: charm
7O: charm
75: new bike
8O: charm
86 [goal]: brand new outfit

One of the things I found while browsing sparkpeople was that a lot of people have a charm bracelet for their weight loss, they start out with the simple chain and just one charm and then add a charm every time they reach a certain weight/make a big accomplishment. I LOVE this idea, especially since it's really cheap. Even if I lose a pound a week, every week, it'll take me a couple months to lose ten pounds every time. That's more than enough time to save up a few dollars for a charm.

The bracelet also works as an anchor, which I need. I had a necklace that I got for my 1O% in WW and loved it, and I used it as my anchor. I wore it every day and I could hold it whenever I felt tempted, or started to slip, or whatever. I eventually stopped wearing it... and now it's been lost for years. But anyway, I need a new anchor. The charm bracelet will be a great one.

I've been wanting a new bike for a while [I love my bike, but it's not really suited to Rhode Island. It was much more suited to commuting in Chicago!], and getting a new bike is a perfect way to celebrate 75 pounds gone. Plus, that gives me plenty of time to save up for one.

Goal weight reward is pretty obvious: by then, I'll need new clothes. Probably not a lot of new clothes, since I have most of my old clothes still from when I was at goal before [yes, I've been lugging about ten pairs of size four jeans all over the country for the last five years. I'm stubborn okay?], but one new, moderately expensive outfit would be nice. I'll most likely supplement my wardrobe up until that point solely with thrift store clothes [with the exception of, um, bras and underwear]. And I love thrift store finds, but sometimes it's just nice to have something brand new. So that's my goal reward.

week two and going strong!

Working on building healthy habits. Last week was "wake up at 9am every [weekday] morning". I failed one day [Tuesday, I think? So it was still kind of new], I woke up at 9, turned my alarm off, and went back to sleep for an hour and a half. I kind of failed on Friday and Yesterday, but only because my alarm didn't go off! I swear. It was working fine the first four days but then the sound clip that was my alarm just... disappeared off my phone? IT IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. This is upsetting. It was a clip from Zelda! Anyway, instead of just defaulting to another sound, my phone decided that it would be best to just not ring at all. Good thing I don't ACTUALLY have to get up for anything, like work or something, so sleeping in wasn't a big deal. And, it turns out, my body was already used to the new schedule so I woke up a half hour later or so.

Today I woke up at 8am, but that's besides the point.

One thing I'm doing to help me enforce this habit is that around 11pm or so, I make a cup of tea, head to bed, and read a book [currently making my way through Tamora Pierce's Tortall books... again... on my Kindle] until it's time to go to sleep. By then, the tea has calmed me down, the cats are settled in, and the sheets are nice and warm for me! I usually go to sleep somewhere around 1am, so I get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes I go to sleep earlier. Yesterday I didn't go to sleep until 1:15 because I was finishing my book.

But anyway, those two things have been very successful so far. Now I'm adding another one to them: eat at least one meal a day at the dining table. I have this beautiful dining table, in an actual dining room, and I never use it except to sometimes pile crap on it [right now, there's a stack of cds]. And I know that sitting down at a table, instead of eating in front of the tv, makes me think more about what I'm eating and my body's hunger signals. So, I'm starting out with just one meal a day but hopefully I'll add a second next week, and then all three major meals will be eaten at the table eventually. This shouldn't be so much of a challenge but I'm still, even after eight months of living here, used to not having any place other than my bed to eat [yay tiny apartments!]. [I don't generally eat in my bedroom anymore, but now the recliner in front of the tv in the living room has become my default dining spot.]

Exercise-wise, I'm loving the EA personal trainer. I might actually shell out the money for this myself, when I have to return the library's copy. I'm doing the 3O day challenge and it's so relieving to actually have someone tell me what to do instead of having to make up my routines myself. I also tried the balance ball dvd last night, but I only got fifteen minutes in [and five of that was focusing on breathing!] before my hip, which had already been bothering me, decided that that was enough for the day. Yay old lady hips! I'm going to need a hip replacement soon, I swear. Anyway, so my exercise routine isn't yet up to the 2 hours of the olden days but I'm getting there. I mean, those two combined added up to 45 minutes. We'll see what I can do today!

week #1 complete

...when I say i'm taking a day of rest, I should really take a day of rest. I knew I needed to yesterday, my muscles were all sore from the weight training I've been doing all week... but no, I was bored so i did my kettlebell training and a light cardio workout. The cardio would've been fine by itself [an old jazzercise tape, just something fun] but I really should've skipped the kettlebell, and I knew it.

But then my mom brought over new exercise dvds/wii games for me and I just had to try one out. I ended up putting in EA Active Personal Trainer, which admittedly is great and much more engaging than wii fit. I did day 1 of the 30 day challenge, and exceeded my trainer's calorie expectation and everything. But when I finished, I knew I'd pushed myself a little too far.

I woke up this morning feeling like I'd been hit by a car [and I have been, previously, on my bike, so I know exactly what the feeling's like]. Mostly my upper body, and especially my shoulders/arms. Things are loosening up and feeling better as the day goes on, but still. Today is definitely a day of rest.

In other news, this morning was also my weigh-in and I'm glad to say that it was all worth it: I am down a pound from last week! It's not much, but I didn't expect it to be. My body takes a week or two to catch up to losing weight, although my clothes are already looser. [For comparison, my first week on Weight Watchers in 2004 I only lost 0.8 pounds, but the next week I lost 3.4 even though I was on plan both weeks. So I'm just expecting it to catch up, eventually.] Anything in the right direction is great, and I'll take it!