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Yes, even with just a one hour time change. Sleeeeepy.

So today, I leave you with my favorite picture of the weekend.

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He even made a rental tux look good.

Something more coherent tomorrow, I promise.

Congratulations! We made it to the end. Not everyone has weighed in yet (keep ‘em coming!), but between your comments and emails thus far, I’m able to calculate that as a group, we’ve already lost more than 150 pounds! That’s a whole person!!

I am thrilled to see how inspired people are to keep working at a healthy lifestyle. Whether you reached your Challenge goal or are on your way to reaching it, everyone is so excited about their progress.

Like Britt:

“Total, I lost 9 pounds! 4 pounds more than I had hoped to lose. I couldn’t be more happy! I’ve changed my eating habits by using Spark People and did about 14 days of the 30 day shred as well as started running again.”

Or Kristin:

“Down another pound this week to 140!  I had a pretty excellent training week too! Swam 6200 meters, biked 55.6 miles, ran 10 miles, and did 2 days of weight training in the past week.  Even though I ended up with only a 2 pound weight loss, I’m ecstatic at how well I’ve been committed to training over the past few weeks, which was more important to me anyways! “

My Challenge didn’t meet the exact results that I had hoped for, but I’m feeling really great. I lost a total of 3 pounds, toned up significantly, joined a ridiculously hard exercise class, bought a bike, and started paying more attention to what I eat. I FEEL healthier. I AM healthier.

And I couldn’t have done it without the support and inspiration that all of you provided throughout this challenge. Thank you all SO MUCH for participating. I hope that it will help you continue on the path to a healthy lifestyle.

Please, keep sharing your results today and read what others have to say. All this pride should not stay hidden.

Thank you again and NICE WORK!

Hi all. Just a reminder that the Challenge actually ends tomorrow, so leave your final results in the comment section of this post and get ready for some major celebrating tomorrow!

I’m a pretty seasoned traveler. Flying is something I almost enjoy. I say almost because yeah, the seats get a little uncomfy and ew, airports are gross, but overall, I like to fly. It stems back to being little and imagining that if I stepped out of the plane at just this minute, I’d be able to walk across those big fluffy clouds. And I always order a Sprite when I fly. It used to be a special treat when I was small — a fizzy soda in the air — so I keep that tradition alive.

But now, here’s my problem. Along with being a seasoned traveler comes being a seasoned packer. I can get everything in my suitcase just so and never forget anything. And when I’m flying, I try not to over-pack. I’m usually pretty good about this, except for the time I went to Vegas with some girlfriends and we packed an entire suitcase full of shoes and bags. Really.

We fly out Friday morning for my brother-in-law’s wedding, and since it’s such a short trip, we will be saving time and carrying on our bag. However, this leads to a problem.

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See, the wedding is in Kansas and in Kansas it’s going to be humid and my hair? Does not like humidity. Which means I’ll need an array of hair products in my possession. I started panicking about this (yeah, I know, big problem. But I did!) yesterday, when my smart husband suggested I buy a bunch of those small plastic bottles and just fill them up with whatever I need. Oh. Right. Why didn’t I think of that?

So OK, we got that down. Now all I have to do is go out and get a stupid quart-sized Ziplock bag because really? It has to be a quart? Not a gallon? Because I have sandwich size and I have gallon sized and they’re not going to fit in the sandwich bag. Which means TSA wins and I have to go buy a box of quart-sized bags. Unless someone wants to donate two of them my way.

After some digging, I found out that you can bring a razor to shave (apparently, they’re called a “safety razor”), but can’t find out for sure if I can bring a tweezer. Does anyone know the answer to this? Is a tweezer considered a weapon?

I find them really handy for when the stranger next to you starts snoring and falling onto your shoulder. One quick pull of a nose hair and they’ll leave you alone the rest of the trip.

Ten years ago, I started taking a daily hormone that would prevent me from getting pregnant.

I took it daily, faithfully, for 10 whole years. First it was one for a long time. Then it made me nuts. So then it was another, which gave me breakthrough bleeding. Then another, then finally another.

Four kinds of birth control pills in 10 years with possible effects like weight gain, spotting, mood swings, potential blood clotting…and jeesh, wasn’t THAT fun. Ever notice how women tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to reproductive organs and the means to not get pregnant? Just saying.

Tuesday, I took my very last pill. No more hormones.

Now before you start jumping around crying “baby!”, don’t, because no pill doesn’t necessarily mean baby, nor does it necessarily mean no baby, it just means that for the first time in 10 years I am not personally preventing a pregnancy by taking a hormone that prevents me from ovulating. (And if you start crying “baby”, I’ll be all “Baby? Where? I want to see it! Can I hold it? Please?!””) 

It was a decision I came to on my own, discussed with my husband, and went forward with. Because after 10 years —  I wanted to give my body a break. I wanted to see what my cycle looks like without the pill and get my body to an artificial hormone-free place.

I’m a little nervous to see how it’s going to work out, because for 10 years I could track my period to almost the hour and knew exactly when I would be weepy, when I would want to eat my weight in chocolate, and when I could kiss it goodbye for another month.

Now, I have no idea.

Will my cycle be 28 days? Will it be 35? Will I gain weight? Lose it? Break out? Have hyena-style mood swings that have my husband hiding behind the couch? (He’s pretty tall. I think I’d find him. He cannot hide.)

To help me understand what it will be like, I recently read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. The book focuses mostly on natural birth control and pregnancy achievement, but was such an eye-opener to what really goes on during your cycle, that I’d recommend it to any woman as a reference. Parts of it are a little hippy-dippy, but the main message is very informative.

One thing the book teaches is to accurartely chart your cycle, and explains the myth that many women do not have the 28-day cycle that many of us think we have. If you are in fact trying to get pregnant, it’s key to know how long your cycle is so you don’t miss your ovulation.

The cycle charting is a little overwhelming at first, but once I read through it a few times it made a lot of sense. Yesterday I began charting to see how my first month pill-free will be. This should also help prevent a white pants, didn’t know I was getting my period, situation that I haven’t had since summer camp, age 14. And they were shorts, not pants. Still…ugh.

Sunday will come and go without the start of a new pack. I’m excited, I’m nervous…and I’m really hoping I don’t eat my weight in chocolate.

Again.

** Edited to add: Going off the pill does not exactly mean we’re trying to get pregnant yet. I mean, it’s not off the table, but there is such a thing as birth control for men, you know! Also, my use of the book is to track my cycle only, which involves taking my basal body temperature each morning. The book teaches how you could use it as a natural birth control, but I personally think that’s a bit too risky.

Also, if we do decide to jump on the baby train soon, I’m not planning on using cycle tracking, at least not at first, to get pregnant immediately. I’d like to keep some romance in there and not be dependant on my body temperature and cervical fluid, oh baby, baby.

As much as  I’d like to point you all to the Challenge page this week and rave about everyone’s results…I can’t. Because you see, I spent a very.long.time. updating it and when I hit publish, the whole thing went blank. I tried to retrieve it to no avail, and I have no idea how current the version is that’s up there now.

There was some yelling.

So this week, please leave your results in the comment section of this post instead of emailing me. Check back frequently during the day to see how everyone is doing. If you did email me already and wouldn’t mind reposting here, that would be great. And next week — our FINAL WEIGH-IN OMIGOD — I will make sure we are current.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to make my goal of a 5 lb. loss in four weeks. I’m down another half-a-pound this week, but I’m not dropping as quickly as I thought I would. I’m pretty much OK with it though, because what I am achieving is a healthy routine that includes regular exercise and healthy eating. So if I keep it up, I assume eventually I will lose those full 5 lbs. I hope!

Tonight I’m starting a new group exercise class that I’m excited about. I hear that the class changes every week so it doesn’t get stale and it’s an hour and a half, three times a week. I hope I can make it through!

I wanted to share with you a healthy Mediterranean-style meal I made for dinner last night. It was so tasty, I almost forgot we were eating so healthy.

Make a salad of greens, one chopped avoacdo, one can of black beans (rinsed), half a cup of corn and one grilled chicken breast, chopped. I lightly seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and chili powder. The combination of flavors, textures and temperatures was just so yummy. I’ll probably be making it for lunch again this week.

OK my loves, let’s make this last week count. Seven days!!!!

GOOD LUCK!

Last week was the third anniversary of this blog. I missed it. It wasn’t a significant day marked on my calendar or anything. It was just another day to write. I wrote about my freckles.

My writing has changed over the last three years. It’s become deeper, broader, more personal. I’ve built friendships and relationships with people who got to know me through my words. Friends and strangers alike who have followed my journey through job changes, job losses, an engagement, a wedding.

Some mornings I wake up with nothing to say. I stare at a blank page and wonder, “is it worth it? Does anyone really care?” Sometimes I’m ready to write my last post.

Today is not that day. Maybe some day, but not today.

Today I want to thank all of my readers — the ones that have been here since the very beginning, the ones that joined along the way…even the ones who visited for the first time yesterday. It is because of all of you that I continue to write.

Thank you all. Today, it’s your anniversary too. So go out there and Challenge be damned! Eat a cupcake.

Or buy some new shoes.

I wish I had something insightful or funny or entertaining to write about today, but the truth is, I don’t. I want to turn off the computer right this moment because you see in the summer? My husband takes a lot of overtime. The money is good and especially since I’m not working, any extra income is welcome.

But the downside is I don’t get to see him too much. Especially on the weekends, when he works 10 and 16 hour days, falls asleep, then does it all over again. I appreciate his work more than I can say, but the truth is I miss him like crazy.

So when he decided last night that today he would take a vacation day — on a day where there will be sun! and heat! and more sun! — I was overjoyed.

There will be boating. There will be lunching. And there will be a wonderful day spent with the man I am totally head over heels for.

I am so excited.

If you have to have a big, wet nose in your face, this is the nose to have.

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Kodiak is happy it’s Friday, too.

Can I just tell you all how excited I am about this little challenge of ours? As of today, more than seventy people are participating, offering support and being all around inspiring. I’ll admit I’m slightly overwhelmed by the task of organizing all your amazing results, but I’m getting through all your emails ad comments and will continue to update the Challenge page as the week goes on. Keep sending in your results!

Although I edit them down on the results page, I’ve been receiving amazing emails about your successes. Even if people stumbled, you’re all so positive and excited about your progress.

This week I threw myself into workout overdrive. In one day I ran, biked (we’re picking out one for me to buy, so I sampled a few. OW my butt.), and did an hour ab and arm program OnDemand. I couldn’t walk the next day. Like, holding my lower back, creeping around the house couldn’t walk. I may have overdone it.

After that day I maintained a regular workout routine, but found that no matter how many times I got on the scale, my weight wasn’t budging. Not even a little. And then…it went UP. I got really upset about it. Here I am, working my tail off and reading all these amazing weight loss stories, and I can’t drop a pound? What’s the deal?

I’ll tell you what the deal is. I’m weighing myself far too often. Not to mention, I’m weighing myself at different times during the day. Apparently I’m not alone.

LittleSpoon emailed me with this:

“What was I last week? 171.4? Well this morning I was 170.2. Great right? Well not when you consider the fact that I was 168.0 on Sunday. Yes, I weigh myself everyday. I’m fascinated by the daily 2 pound weight fluctuation. Even when it severely pisses me off.”

She had a loss, but she’s beating herself up because she weighed less one day, then went back up the next. I get it! I made the decision to lay off the scale and only weight myself on Weigh-In mornings when I first wake up.

I’m down 1.7 pounds!

No, it’s not a huge drop, but it’s a drop. Weeeee!

I’ve also noticed that some of are you are getting frustrated because you had big losses the first week, followed by little or no losses the second. Don’t get discouraged! Have you ever watched The Biggest Loser? The trainers on the show always talk about the second week curse. Participants lose a bunch of weight initially because they haven’t been working out in so long. After that, the body regulates, shakes itself out of its “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME OMIGOD!!!!” shock and starts losing gradually.

So if you lost four pounds last week and only one this week, don’t worry! You’re still doing great! I bet you have another loss next week.

And remember, we’re all in this together. We all have struggles. As a matter of fact, today, let’s talk about them. What’s your biggest hurdle so far? How do you think you can overcome it?

Mine is motivation because I get bored with my normal routines. I plan on tackling it with a new group exercise class.

Go on, share!

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