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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Big Changes, Part 3...Food

To recap: why I've been MIA, part 1 and part 2. Now let's talk food...

I've been following flexible dieting/iifym without really knowing I was since I started with the personal training. My trainer didn't give me a set strict eating plan to follow. Instead, the first week I was to write down everything I ate, and we'd go through it to discuss what I should and shouldn't eat. At this point, I'd already started cleaning up my diet, so there wasn't a lot of "bad" foods on there for him to nitpick about. Since I was logging everything into myfitnesspal and then transcribing into a notebook for him to see, I also went ahead and wrote down my daily macros for him as well. Everything getting color-coded, of course, because that's how I roll.

He was really surprised to see how detailed I got, and was particularly excited to be able to see my macros. One guideline he did give me was to try and stay around 35-40% for protein since I'm lifting heavy and often, so I started with that. Once you start focusing on one macro, you can't help but pay attention to how the others factor in as well. Shortly after I started to really notice and work toward certain numbers each day, I heard about a diet called "if it fits your macros," also known as flexible dieting.  The premise behind iifym is that you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits your macros. Now, this doesn't mean you can live off junk food because you still need to fuel your body with good healthy food. But if you're going out to dinner with the girls, you're not stuck eating a plain chicken breast. Or if you're craving a donut, you can eat a donut. You just have to make it work within your specific macros each day.

 There's a lot of planning and weighing EVERYTHING, but it fits my organized OCD nature to a T. The best thing about it is that it's allowed to finally have a good relationship with food. I never feel that guilt that comes with eating something that's "bad" for me because I plan for it. I don't let it ruin my day; I allow it to be part of my "diet." Letting a bad meal ruin my day has always been a part of trying to lose weight for me in the past. I can't count how many times I've fallen off the wagon, only to tell myself I'll start over tomorrow. Or worse, Monday. Then I'll gorge myself on all the delicious things I can't have while dieting for days until Monday rolls around. By Monday, I feel so defeated that I tell myself why should I bother starting over when I'm just going to fall off the wagon soon anyway. Or, there's a birthday/anniversary/special day around the corner, so I'll just start after that. I do still eat mostly clean, but it's not so strict that I have to avoid social gatherings because I'm afraid to eat. As long as I plan ahead, and log what I'll be ordering into myfitnesspal before I go, I stick to it and can enjoy myself with friends without stressing about the food.

While the planning can get tedious, I actually really enjoy it. Partly because I try to plan some small treat into each day, so it's like Christmas when I get to it in my day. I get very excited for my treat. It's  typically stuff like cinnamon coffee cake Fiber One bars (my current obsession), or taking the kids out for froyo. Froyo has become an almost weekly staple this summer because I've learned self-control. I don't NEED the biggest size cup with every topping imaginable. I'm perfectly satisfied with one of the smaller cups with strawberries and one scoop of brownie bits for toppings.

Self-control is probably the biggest lesson I've learned this time around. Finally, I'm at a point where I can allow myself a small amount of something without gorging on the entire container. I think it's one part knowing no food is forbidden to me, and one part planning ahead. When I buy groceries, I portion everything out right away. Instead of mindlessly munching on a whole bag of granola or half a watermelon, I portion it out so I can mindlessly eat ONE serving and not twelve. It may be a lot of work up-front, but it's a huge time-saver in the long run.

I'm now to the point where I pretty much eat the same things most days, but I still log everything. Most mornings start with an omelet and fruit, and there are a lot of chicken breasts and more fruit in my diet. I'm going to be devastated when summer's over and all my favorites are no longer in season! I've also been loving almonds and almond butters. That's something I had no idea I enjoyed until recently. My fats typically come from almonds, wholly avocado mini cups, shredded cheese in my morning omelets, and sometimes I add mayo to my shredded chicken to make it a chicken salad. I haven't been cooking big family dinners as often as I've should because that's the one area I'm still trying to find balance. When I do cook, I make things like pasta with meat sauce but only eat the meat sauce, or I'll grill burgers and eat mine without the bun. Not because I'm avoiding carbs, but I'd rather get my carbs from other healthier sources. Last week, I made Skinnytaste white bean turkey chili and that was amazing! That will be made pretty often now, particularly when the weather starts getting colder. Most of the time, I'll eat a second chicken breast and a salad for dinner. In the evenings, I'll make a protein shake. My current favorite combination is vanilla protein powder, oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, and vanilla. Delicious! My carbs come mostly from fruits and vegetables, the oats I throw into my protein smoothie, KIND granola, and my daily treat.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big Changes, Part 2

In my previous post, I finally talked about our move to IA here on the blog. If you follow me on instagram, then you already know all about it. That's where I'm most active these days, so please follow me on instagram! Anyway, let's get back to the story.

So, everything that went into moving fell on me since D was already in IA, and it was a crazy stressful time. March 1st, the girls and I said goodbye to our wonderful friends, and drove from CO to IA (a HUGE thanks to my friend, Heather, for keeping me company and taking over a good chunk of the drive!). After moving, I gave myself about 6 weeks to get the kids established in school and unpack/shop for furniture before I decided it was time to focus on my health again. D had already gotten a membership at Anytime Fitness while he was here on his own because he could get a good deal through work, so I decided to follow suit. There is one about a mile from our house, so it just made the most sense. One of the benefits of joining a smaller gym is the cost! It is MUCH cheaper than any gym we've joined in the past, particularly the bigger fancy gyms. Sure, it's a no-frills gym with no real classes or childcare, but the kids are all in school full-time now and classes are scary, so I didn't really need all that. I fell back into old habits with the new gym, though, and stuck to the treadmill. I'd eye the weight room, wanting to be a big girl and go in there, but it was so intimidating! It worked out for the best, though, because D saw my fear and agreed to check out personal training for me.

I am so glad I took that step! Hiring a personal trainer is by far the best thing I've ever done for myself. I signed up for a year because there was a big cost savings that way, and I love knowing it's not going to end soon. It's not something I'm doing for just a few sessions and then trying to go at it on my own. That's when I tend to fail. I started working with the trainer on 4/28 and since then, I've lost 16lbs according to the "official" gym scale (19.1 on my home scale, but that's from a week or two before that). Tuesdays are my weigh-in days at the gym, so we'll see where I am tomorrow.

Left: September '13, Right: About 2 weeks ago

Awhile back, I did Jamie Eason's LiveFit program, and loved that it got me into the weight room for the first time ever. If you're just starting out lifting weights, I HIGHLY recommend that program! I'm the type of person who requires a recipe when cooking. I need that step-by-step, and don't typically just wing it. Turns out, I'm the same way when it comes to working out. I need that step-by-step, and I'm not comfortable coming up with my own routines. Maybe someday, but not right now. That's a big reason I love working with a trainer. He figures it out for me and tells me what to do.

The best part for me about the trainer is that he pushes me to do things I never imagined doing. Even when I did LiveFit before, I would modify the program so I didn't have to do anything that required the big scary squat rack. Now, that's my happy place! I LOVE lifting heavy, and discovering that I'm a whole lot stronger than I ever gave myself credit for. I've never tried a 1-rep max on either, but I can squat 140lbs and deadlift 205lbs for a set of 4 each. Last week, he had me doing single arm cable rows, and I did 115lbs for a set of 6! I would've NEVER have even attempted numbers like that on my own! He's taken me out of my comfort zone, and I couldn't be more grateful.

Hello 205 deadlift!

That's ME! I ended up doing it again the following week, and did 31!

I love the routines my trainer sets up for me. It's different every time, so it never gets boring. I always start with a warmup, usually on the bike or elliptical and the rowing machine, and then we do abs. After abs comes the fun stuff. Tuesdays are squat days and Thursdays are deadlift days. I do all my sets of those exercises on their own, but the rest of my workout is a circuit after finishing either squat or deadlift. He typically has 4-6 exercises planned for my circuit, and do 3 rounds of each circuit. Last Thursday, for example, went like this:


Tricep Dips (first time on the dip machine! Mine were assisted with one green band, but I did it!)
Kneeling Barbell Lever Press
90* Jump Squats with a 12lb medicine ball
Single Arm Cable Row (100lbs for 6, 100lbs for 8, 115lbs for 6)
Lying Leg Swings

Oh, sometimes he adds a "finisher" to really get my heart pumping. It's a quick, maybe 1-2 minutes, of an intense workout. My favorite is the Jacob's Ladder.

A couple weeks ago, we decided I was ready to add a third strength training day, so I now go in on the weekends and repeat a previous workout. They keep our personal training files handy for us clients to access, so he just tells me which workout to repeat. That third day has given me a lot of confidence in knowing that I'm perfectly capable of working out on my own without the trainer watching my every move.

In addition to strength training 3 times a week, I'm also still running. I love running too much to give it up, but I have cut way back on my mileage. I try to run 3-4 times a week (usually one of my strength days and running days overlap), but I'm only running 2-3 miles at a time. This has actually been so good for my speed! I may not have the endurance to run a half marathon right now, but I'm averaging 10:30 miles! I haven't been that fast in years! I totally credit my increase in speed to eating probably the healthiest I've ever eaten, strength training, and being consistent with it all. I try to do speed work once a week and on those days, I'm averaging closer to 9:30-10:00.

All in all, I'm feeling so much better than I ever have! I'm not down to my lowest weight from a couple years ago yet, but I'm damn close. This time, I won't be giving up and I WILL reach my goal!

Stay tuned for Part 3 where I'll get into my eating plan...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Big Changes, Part 1

Hi again. Anyone still reading? Let's see if I can dust off this ole blog again for the 50383th time. There have been many changes since I last posted. I'm going to break up my story into a couple-few posts because it's just getting way too long. I mentioned last time that there were some major things happening in my family that I couldn't talk about. Well, I can now! But first, I need to take you way way back 13 years when I first met my husband (briefly).

Once upon a time, my husband and I met when we both lived in a very small town in the middle of nowhere Iowa. We were both new in town, so my dad and stepfamily decided to matchmake, even though I told them I wanted no part of it. There was a situation with a picture that completely embarrassed me, so when RAGBRAI came through our town and I found out he was manning a spaghetti booth, I approached him and apologized for my family's behavior. I don't think anyone (least of all me!) expected us to hit it off so well that we'd end up married! A few months after we got married, we found out I was pregnant, and a few months after that, D got a job in Spokane. We were there a little over 1.5 years before that company offered him a dream job in Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs was supposed to be our last move, and we were so happy there for 8 years. We established roots there, and had our twins there.

But last year, his old boss from IA came calling and let him know that the #2 man in the company job was now open, and asked if he'd be interested in applying for it. After MUCH debate, we decided it was too good of an opportunity to not at least try for it. He was a favorite for the job since he had history with the company, but it wasn't a guarantee he'd get it. After many months of interviews and waiting, he got the job! This time, we weren't going back to the small town, but to the Des Moines area so he could work in the corporate office. Unfortunately, he started his new job mid-October, so we decided the kids and I would stay back to try to sell our house, and follow him during the Christmas break. Our house sold over Thanksgiving break, but the buyers couldn't close on it until the end of February, so the separation lasted longer than we'd planned. It just didn't make any sense for the girls and I to move when we'd have to rent until our current house closed. And what if something happened and the sale fell through?

It was a tough 5 months of single parenting and missing my husband, but we got through it. Emma, my autistic twin, took it the hardest. She really struggled with having D gone, especially at school. At first, she refused to go into the lunchroom because it was very noisy and chaotic. Then, she slowly started refusing to go to her "discoveries," which are the different subjects they studied in various classes. Art, music, French, etc. By the time our move rolled around, she was spending her entire days in the resource room. I slowly sold all of our furniture on Craigslist and to friends, so seeing our house empty up was really difficult on her. During that time of high stress, I didn't worry about trying to lose weight. I had too much on my plate to try to eat well and exercise. I did at least manage to maintain around the 185-190lb mark that I was when I last posted in September.

Stay tuned for Part 2 when I talk about what I've been up to since the move.