Week 8: Should I Drink To That?

I’ve always hated February. Besides the miserable weather, I seem to get bad news in February, or something unpleasant happens. It’s always something. This year was no exception, and I am happy that the month is in its last week. On a positive note, I seem to be on a steady one-pound-per-week weight loss track for February. It is surprising to me. I’ve been in a real slump. Working out has been struggle and I feel like half the time I’ve been phoning it in, and I’ve had several social outings or celebrations this month.

Drinking

Speaking of social occasions, a friend of mine at a group dinner this past weekend was telling me that I need to drink more if I’m going to be successful at my program on a long term basis. I went into this dinner, knowing the drinks would be flowing table-wide, allowing myself to have 2 drinks of my choosing – whether a cocktail, beer or wine. I ended up having 3 glasses of wine, which was a splurge, but I also don’t believe in depriving myself in social situations, since they are not an everyday occurrence. While I’m not depriving myself completely, I also don’t want to go overboard. The theme for me since I started this program is to find balance.

I was proud of myself. In the past, I would have had a pre-cocktail or 2, a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, then maybe, more like probably, another cocktail after dinner, or 2. I came out of the evening without the big head at the end of the night, dry mouth, or general feeling of regret in drinking too much. But, the comment my friend made is still on my mind. She pointed out that I like to drink, and by denying myself, I would end up binge drinking and ultimately fail long term.

It is true that I drank a lot. Prior to starting this program, I drank everyday. I’m not an alcoholic, but a heavy drinker. I would drink every evening, sometimes a bottle of wine every night. I would average that I probably drank 3-5 drinks a day (wine/beer for the most part). Currently, I am limiting drinking to celebrations and social events, and I restrict my drinking for those events to a reasonable amount, as I did the other night.

The thing is, I don’t really miss it. At least I don’t miss my past habits. I’ve thought about this considerably, and yes, I drank a lot, but I wasn’t drinking because I enjoyed it so much. I was drinking  because I was bored, because I had a bad day, or simply because it was there.

There are beverages that I do truly miss, like a deep, robust Cabernet with a steak dinner, or a seasonal beer with a pizza. I also miss drinking during certain situations, such as a a couple of beers after a long day of working outside in the yard, or a glass of wine while watching Cougar Town (that show would make anyone want wine..). I do enjoy getting together with friends and having cocktails. I don’t miss drinking a full bottle of cheap wine every night, the restless sleep, dehydration, and waking up with a headache.

Still, she got me thinking – am I depriving myself too much? Should I reintroduce alcohol into my plan in more modified amounts so I don’t end up binge drinking and ultimately failing? I don’t think so, but time will tell. The fact is, I’m a 40 year old woman with a slow metabolism and 40 pounds to lose, and I don’t have the room in my calorie count to fit in alcohol on anything but rare occasions. That is, if I want to lose this weight within the next year.

I also think it’s paramount to my success to fill the time I spent previously drinking with something more productive. I don’t want all of my life’s enjoyment to revolve around alcohol. Drinking should enhance some of my life’s experiences, but it should not be the centerpiece of them, and that was how I was living.

I’m not just on a journey to lose weight and fit into my skinny jeans, I want to work on improving my mind, body, and soul. That’s my ultimate goal – full speed ahead!

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Week 7: Winter Blues

I’d like to be super positive going into this week and pat myself on the back about losing 1 pound at my weigh-in, but I’m just not feeling it. Being in the Northeast, I have the winter blues and it is definitely having a negative effect on my program.

Snow is almost over the fence in the backyard!

Snow is almost over the fence in the backyard!

I’ve lost count of the major storms and the times outside spent shoveling snow, and it has been exhausting. Last week was the first week I skipped a workout. Actually, I skipped two workouts. I’d love to blame the weather, but I can only blame myself. Laziness won a few rounds last week. I tell myself I made up the cardio with shoveling snow, but that’s no excuse and it certainly doesn’t show on the scale.

I’m halfway through the month and I still have not managed to wake up earlier, even once, to exercise. I barely want to get up to do anything. It’s cold, dark, and depressing.  I am still working out at the end of the day, and each time is a struggle to make it happen. It hangs over my head all day long like a dark cloud. It’s actually amazing that I’ve only skipped 2 workouts in 6 weeks.

In addition, for Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband the choice of going out, or we stay in and I would make whatever dinner he wanted. Not that there was much of a choice with the lousy weather, but he chose to stay in, and we had a tasty Mexican-themed night with tacos, margaritas, chips, salsa, and guacamole. I don’t consider that cheating because my plan allows for celebrations. I believe it is necessary to have fun once and awhile, and not allow my diet to take the enjoyment out of life.

Nevertheless, I still expect to be fighting that evening off on the scale all week. I lost 1 pound last week, but I weighed myself on Saturday morning, before the big fiesta. I couldn’t help weighing myself this morning (Monday), and I was up two pounds from Saturday morning.

I’m going to make a solid attempt this week to stay on track. It’s a new week, and I need to forget about my laziness, and not allow myself to continue to slip into bad patterns. Even more important, I need to forget how much I enjoyed having margaritas! A ‘once and awhile celebration’ can easily turn into an everyday occurrence.  I don’t expect to lose much this week, if anything at all, but I also can’t let that bring me down.

My goal for this week is to simply try to stay positive – only 15 more weeks until June! The snow will be melted by then, right??

Week 6: Patience is a Virtue

As I started week 6, I had an epiphany. I feel I discovered the secret as to why I have failed on my past weight loss attempts, and it seems so obvious:

I have very little patience.

I lost 1 pound this past week. I told myself that one is better than none, but I started to have crazy thoughts about how to bolster additional weight loss for this next week. I’ve lost a total of 8 pounds in 5 weeks, but I am dying to get into double digit weight loss. I started feeling that it’s taking too long. I considered switching things up and trying a week from one of my past diets, where I would need to eat 5-6 small meals each day of basically chicken and veggies. I’ve done it a few times, and it’s typically guaranteed to help me lose a few pounds.

I know there’s no quick fix for losing weight. I now believe that patience is key to my success, and of equal importance to willpower, diet, and exercise. You can have a great eating and workout plan, and a strong desire to do it, but if you aren’t patient enough to let it work then it’s all for nothing. I’m not alone, most people are impatient. It’s no wonder the weight loss industry is built around these insane time frames, like 6 weeks, or 7, 30, or 90 days. I’ve bought into most of them. No one wants to wait for anything anymore; people demand instant gratification.

The weight is coming off exactly as I had planned, and I should be proud of my results to date. I set out on a 40 week plan, and that’s a long time. I’m not going to eat 6 small meals a day of plain chicken and veggies for the rest of my life, so why would I alter my eating habits to simply lose an extra few pounds in a week? I will lose those pounds eventually, without deprivation. I just need to be patient.

As I mentioned I was going to do last week, I switched to the more advanced workout DVDs to kick my workouts up a notch. That’s enough change for the week for me. They are longer workouts and more challenging to complete. I’m confident the change-up in my workouts will allow me to see some good results on the scale this weekend, maybe even an extra pound or two. But if not, that’s OK too!

As my mother always says, patience is a virtue.

Food Adventures: Escarole

escaroleIn my trip to the grocery store this week to explore new foods, I decided on escarole. I’ve probably had this leafy green before and just didn’t realize it, but I’ve certainly never purchased it or used it as an ingredient. When I was buying it, I saw so many varieties of greens, I could probably try a new one every week for the next two months! I won’t because that would be boring, but I could. I’m considering kale as the next new green on my agenda, but not for a few weeks.

I never chop my own greens for a salad, I have been buying the bagged salad for a long time, so even shopping in the lettuce area was a somewhat new experience. I felt like such a healthy person buying my lettuce, and it was so nice and crispy. The bagged salads just aren’t the same as a really fresh head of lettuce. Not that I’m going to abandon my lazy bagged salad and start chopping a bunch of fresh greens,  but it’s good to remember for special occasions.

I didn’t end up making a salad with my escarole, instead I opted for soup. There are so many recipes out there, I could have gone in multiple directions. With the frosty New England weather in the last week, I decided a hot soup would help keep me warm. Escarole is a member of the endive family, and it gives a nice bite to soup!

This soup was so ridiculously easy to make, and I have been eating it every day this week for lunch. It’s perfect for me since I have trouble making time for lunch every day. I have it ready to go in a big pot the fridge, and I just scoop out a cup or so and heat it up in the microwave. I added some extra broth to stretch the recipe.

Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-escarole-soup

soup2

Chicken Escarole Soup

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1 small head)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine tomatoes and broth in a large saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add chicken, escarole, and oil; cook 5 minutes.

Very tasty and great on a cold day!

Week 5: Wake Up and Power Up!

I feel a sense of satisfaction that I have one month under my belt, and literally less under the belt! My total weight loss for January was seven pounds and that’s just fine. Sure, I wish it was more, but I also know my approach isn’t designed for rapid weight loss.

My biggest sense of pride this past month comes from my workouts. I didn’t skip any of them. I made it through 6 days a week of Power 90 workouts, with my rest day on Saturday. Now that I have one month down, it would feel wrong to skip a workout at this point for the remainder of the 90 day program, at least without a reason. I do need to start thinking about what to do after the 90 days is up – stick with it, or switch to some other program in my diet museum? I’ll probably switch it up to keep things interesting.

As I enter into February, I do think it’s time to kick things up a notch. Just a notch. My mindset over the first four weeks was to establish a routine of working out again, but I will admit that the first level of Power 90 is not very challenging. It was perfect for my first month, and difficult the first week. There are still sections of it that I have a hard time completing, but overall I know I can be pushing myself more. I am going to give it another week, then switch over to the next level.

I also need to FORCE myself to wake up an hour earlier and work out. I have absolutely no excuse to not be doing this other than my love of sleep and lack of desire to get out of bed, and that really bothers me. I’m not saying I need to wake up at 5AM like a lot of people do, I just need to wake up at 7:30! I get plenty of sleep, I can sacrifice that extra hour. Also, if I am able to clear my night schedule of my DVD workout, I could add in some other form of exercise a few times a week, like a walk or run outside.

Waking up early has always been a challenge for me since a very young age.  I never grew out of that need (or desire) for a long slumber. I could easily sleep until noon everyday. I have always wanted to be one of those perky morning people that accomplishes 100 things before 10AM. I know that is a pipe dream, but I can certainly shoot for 7:30.  I might not always work at home, and I need to take advantage of the extra time that I have from my lack of commute. If I don’t, I am going to be very upset with myself.

I’ve been yo-yo dieting for many years, and I truly believe that if I am going to make a lifetime change, I need to fight the lazy and work out in the morning. I’ve been on the ride already where I get skinny, start to skip my nighttime exercise routine a few times a week, then stop altogether and it’s a one way ticket to fat city.

I didn’t expect to turn into a whole new person in the first month, so these are my goals for February: to wake up and power up! I want to end this month writing about how empowered I feel from waking up earlier, kicking my exercise routines up a notch, and owning the pounds I shed as a result.

Bring on February!