A Love/Hate Relationship with Fall

Tomorrow is October first. The leaves are starting to change and cover the ground. The sun is setting earlier and earlier with each passing day. The temperatures are dropping, resulting in needing heat in the morning, air conditioning on the drive home, then heat again at night. It’s almost time to pull out the sweaters and faux fur-lined boots! Dunkin Donuts is selling pumpkin muffins! Apples are on sale every week at the grocery store!

To me, Fall means comfy clothes and yummy food. The problem with this is that I have completely fallen off the healthy eating/Weight Watchers bandwagon. I’ve only been making a pitiful attempt to track: if I don’t know the points in something, I don’t track it. I’ve been eating as much as I want of whatever I want, whenever I want. Needless to say, I’m not feeling too hot physically or emotionally, and I can barely zip my pants (no, seriously).

I told myself at the beginning of September that I would strictly follow WW until the holidays so that I could get back on track, feel better, and then not feel horribly guilty about stuffing my face with first candy, then turkey/potatoes/mac and cheese/pie, then cookies and cakes and more candy. Not to mention the wine. The holiday season is just not complete without wine.

I bought a couple cans of pumpkin puree just to have, because you never know. And pumpkin is a vegetable, so it’s totally healthy. Then this happened:

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Those are homemade pumpkin donuts coated in cinnamon sugar. They are only 5 points each, which really, is not as bad as they could be, but that’s still 5 extra points that I don’t need every day. The recipe made EIGHTEEN of these delicious wonders, which is great, except I’m the only one in the house who will eat them. To be fair, hubby did taste them and said they were good (but he wasn’t interested enough to eat an entire one). I ended up dumping most of them because I would have had to eat, like, three per day before they started to go bad.

I’m starting over tomorrow morning. I stocked up on yogurt and apples and bananas and chicken breasts and seltzer and Diet Coke. I have veggies in the freezer and plan to get in as much walking as possible before the sun starts setting at 4:30pm. I’ll clean off the elliptical and force myself to use it when it gets too dark and cold to safely go wander around outside. I will get back on the wagon and I will feel better.

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My Fitness Pal vs. My Fitness Parent

As I mentioned a few months ago, I quit Weight Watchers and switched over to using My Fitness Pal. I had every intention of using it just like WW, tracking every single morsel that passed my lips, and I figured I would see the same results I had seen with WW in the beginning.

Then the holidays happened and I couldn’t bring myself to keep track of just how many cookies, M&Ms, Ferrero Rocher balls, and God only knows what else I was emotionally binge eating.

I think I am finally back on track now. I’ve been waking up at 6:45 every weekday morning (except for two) during the week to use the elliptical before work. This is HUGE for me as I love to sleep and need, like, 11 hours every night to not be ragey. I’ve been trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies into my diet, while slowly phasing out all the cakes and wine — which has been more than a little problematic as my IBS has decided that pears (one of favorites) are no longer acceptable. I learned that lesson the hard way, and no amount of over-the-counter remedies worked to ease the pain. It was so bad one day that my boss had to send me home early from work because he could see what poor shape I was in. So, lesson learned. No more pears.

It’s been hard, you guys, and I haven’t been perfect, but I made a decision a few days ago (after some questioning from a friend) to make my food and exercise diary public on MFP. There’s something about having to own up to other people (even if it is just my measly 6 friends) about my food choices that makes me re-think if I really want to eat those four mini-Snickers bars before dinner.

The problem is that I think MFP is being a little over-generous in the amount of calories it thinks I am burning when I work out — being more of a pal than a parent, if you will. It tells me that for every 45 minutes I spend on the elliptical, I am burning 441 calories. I’ve just been accepting that as fact and only thought to question it recently when I wasn’t seeing the numbers on the scale go down quite as much as I’d like. I checked the elliptical itself and it tells me that 45 minutes is only 359 calories. That’s a big difference! That’s, like, an entire snack right there. I appreciate MFP’s generosity and encouragement, but I need the tough love right now to make this happen. I don’t need to be coddled, I need to be told that I can do more even though it feels like my legs are on fire.

I like being able to track my workouts and hold myself accountable, so I’ve had to start logging them at the end of the day, when I’m all done eating. That way I don’t think I have any extra calories lying around waiting to be consumed. I’m also back to my old WW way of tracking: enter everything in the morning so that I know exactly what the plan is for the day. This lets me know up front what I’m working with, and I’m less likely to reach for a snack if I know that it will definitely make me go over.

I weighed in this afternoon —  two days before official weekly weigh in day — and I’m down 1.2 pounds.

Stressful Saturday

When I get stressed out, it usually manifests itself in at least one of three ways:

1. Hunger
We went to Trader Joe’s last night to pick up “a few” things. That turned into $103.00 worth of meatballs, frozen meals, cookies, wine, and… wait for it… COOKIE & COCOA SWIRL. My friend Cyndi has been raving about Cookie Butter for weeks, so I checked it out while I was there. There is a sign on the shelf advising there is a 5 jar maximum per customer in order to allow everyone to enjoy it. Wow. I was thisclose to buying some, but then I saw the jar next to it which taunted me with claims of cookies AND chocolate together in one harmonious jar of wonderful. How could I pass that up? So, this happened:

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The jar tells me to put it on pancakes or waffles or sandwiches, but that sucker is getting eaten with a spoon straight out of the jar. It’s seriously GOOD, you guys. Go get some.

Despite the fact that I’ve been eating as much of whatever I want, whenever I want, I weighed in this week for the first time in about a month and I have only gained one pound. I’m back to tracking every single bite using MFP and I’m trying to get on the elliptical as much as possible. My big problem at the moment is eating things that I can’t track–like General Tso’s Shrimp from our local Chinese food place, or the veggie club sandwich from Houlihan’s. I need to stick to things that have labels.

2. Rage
Well, I feel like this post alone sums up my ragey issues lately.

3. Physical Pain
It’s the slow season at work. This means that my day is spent mostly doing a lot of data entry and system updates, which requires pretty much the exact same movements ALL. DAY. LONG. Ctrl+V, click, save. And repeat. Not only are my eyes suffering from staring at the computer screen all day, but I’ve felt it in my back and shoulders as well. Couple that with my mom’s recent anniversary, the upcoming holidays, and my general cheery disposition (please note the sarcasm), and I end up with frozen muscles in my back, neck, and shoulders. I woke up at 4:30 this morning unable to turn my head or move any part of my body really, without intense burning pain. I somehow hobbled downstairs to the couch and managed to turn the heating pad on and I waited for the pain to subside. It didn’t. I dozed on and off for the next several hours, wincing and on the verge of tears any time I needed to shift my position. I woke up hubby and had him massage my shoulder, but that didn’t help. I sat with the heating pad again for a few hours, took a hot shower, downed some Tylenol, and even worked out thinking that maybe the blood flow and movement would relax my muscles. I ended up having to drive to the pharmacy for the big guns:

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On a brighter note, one of my Christmas gifts arrived yesterday. I didn’t want to open it, but hubby made me just to make sure everything was OK with it. I may have squealed in delight when I saw it:

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A signed first-edition copy of Someone Else’s Love Story by my favorite author. I don’t know why I didn’t start buying these earlier, but I’ll definitely be buying all of her books this way from now on!

 

‘Tis the Season

Basketball season, that is. Today was the first practice for the third and fourth grade girls’ team, which my husband proudly coaches. He’s been coaching for six years, ever since our nephew was in third grade. Now it’s his sister’s turn and she is so excited that she couldn’t wait a second longer for practice to start so she had her brother walk her over to the gym 15 minutes early. Up until a couple of weeks ago they didn’t even have a team, but they’re up to nine players now and are technically allowed to compete. None of them, except one girl, have ever even touched a basketball before so this should be interesting. That being said, they weren’t nearly as bad as we were expecting, although none of them anticipated having to actually run and exercise at practice.

Aside from that, I’m still in a pretty craptastic mood that should last until about mid-January, BUT it means that I am seeking all kinds of comfort foods to lift my spirits. I’ve had an insane craving for grilled cheese lately, because well, who doesn’t like grilled cheese? I’ve ordered a Happy Waitress at pretty much every diner I’ve ever been to. However, I’m somewhat trying to get back on track and stop shoveling Twix and Milk Duds in my mouth every chance I get, so I wanted to find a way to make my buttery, cheesy sandwich slightly healthier. My favorite combo is American cheese and pepperoni, because YUM. I found a pretty good alternative:

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Weight Watchers whole wheat bread, Kraft fat-free sharp cheddar singles, and Hormel turkey pepperoni. I can have SEVENTEEN slices of turkey pepperoni for 70 calories. I call that an epic win. Admittedly, on Sunday night when I first made this, I also microwaved a bowl of Campbell’s creamy tomato soup, but that was 300-something calories that just weren’t worth it, so on Monday I subbed that out for a heaping pile of green beans.

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Excuse my dark blurry photos. It was late and I used my phone to take them because I’m lazy and I couldn’t be bothered to go find the camera while my cheese was getting cold. Anyway, I highly highly recommend this. Go make one and I promise you’ll love it.

Sometimes It’s OK to Be a Quitter

I took a big step last week and I quit something I’ve been doing for awhile now: Weight Watchers. In theory, this sounds like a bad thing, but I think it will be good for me. I haven’t tracked since sometime in mid-July and I’ve basically been throwing away $20 every month for nothing. Now, that’s not to say that WW doesn’t work or it’s a waste of money. It most certainly does work and I am proof of that. I’ve been and on-and-off member for the past 10 years and every time I join up again, it works. This most recent time, I went from 166 pounds to 134 – it took me a few years and a lot of work, and the numbers didn’t always move in the right direction, but still.

Before:

 

After (July of this year):

The problem is that I get bored and then I plateau. I need to change things up and keep my metabolism on its feet. I decided to give My Fitness Pal a try. I signed up for it way back when, when it first debuted and there was nothing in the database. I thought it sucked at the time. Now? Well, now it’s hugely popular and I have friends who use it and it has a TON of foods in the database (I’ve only had to add a couple really obscure things, but it even has most everything from Trader Joe’s already in there!).

I like that it gives me a breakdown of my carbs, fat, and protein intake per day and per week. It also shows me a breakdown of a variety of other vitamins and such so that I can really get a feel for where I need to cut back and what I need to include more. It provides a graph just like WW does, so that I can visually see my progress.

I’ve been using it for about a month now and although my weight is fluctuating, I’m seeing slight decreases. I haven’t been tracking religiously like I know I should, but I’ve been trying my best. I get frustrated when I go to the diner, for example, and I can’t figure out which “chicken quesadilla” to add from the list on MFP – so I give up and start over the next day. That’s probably a sign that I shouldn’t be going to the diner, huh?

I’m sure that at some point I’ll be a WW member again; I always go back to them. For now I’m taking a break and I think that’s OK.

Running Fool

I am not a runner. I have never been able to run without horrible ankle, shin, and knee pain. However, a lot of my friends are runners and listening to them talk about it has really made me want to give it a real try. I needed new sneakers because my Skeckers were giving me blisters and other issues during regular walks, so I went to the mall on Friday night in search of proper running shoes.

All of my runner friends seem to swear by Brooks, so after taking the handy dandy little quiz on their website and trying on several different styles and brands of running shoes, I left with a brand new pair of Brooks Adrenaline 13.

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I took them to the park this afternoon for a trial and had every intention of just walking. Immediately I noticed how cool and airy they were. My husband and I did one circuit (a little less than 2 miles) and I felt great! No shin pain, no ankle pain, nothing. We decided to try a little running and ended up alternating the second circuit with walking and running. Aside from some groin pain (should have stretched, oops), I felt fine. I couldn’t believe it. Turns out that sometimes it IS worth it to pay a little more for something. My hubby has been trying to get me to understand this for years, but I’m stubborn. Now I get it.

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This is a weird tree that grew up the side of the hill and over the trail. There were lots of other interesting trees, bridges, etc. on the path, but I didn’t want to keep stopping to pull out my phone to take pictures. As much as I dislike having to get in the car and drive to the park to walk/run, I think we’ll definitely be going back to this one because it’s fairly close and definitely a lot more entertaining than walking around the block.

Pinterest Pumpkin Muffins

I saw a super easy pumpkin muffin recipe on Pinterest that was so easy I didn’t even bother pinning it. All it requires is a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Seriously. It’s basically this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pumpkin-muffins/.

A friend of mine recommended using spice cake mix instead of yellow, so that’s what I got. When I bought the ingredients last night, I forgot to buy a can opener so I had to wait until today to try them (By the way, don’t be cheap and buy the $2.99 can opener at Target because it doesn’t work. Now I’m going to have to go back and get the expensive one that I should have just splurged for in the first place.) I dumped the cake mix in a bowl, threw in the pumpkin and blended it together. It was a little too pumpkin-y for my tastes, so I added in some nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. I baked them at 350 for 25 minutes and they are just about perfect. I think I’ll leave them in a couple minutes longer next time because they’re a little mushy, but they taste fantastic. I think they’re about 2 WW PP, so I plan on having one for breakfast along with my morning banana. Yum yum yum.

ETA: Apparently they are only 2 PP if you make 24 mini muffins. What’s the point of that? A mini muffin is just going to make me think I can eat multiple because they’re small. Anyway, I made 12 normal sized ones so they’re like 4 points each, which sucks because I can’t stop eating them.

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Why I Haven’t Blogged in Forever

I wish I had a reason. It’s not that I haven’t had things to write about, in fact, I feel like I’ve had SO much stuff to write about that I get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything.

The husband and I decided to repaint the downstairs to make it feel more homey. For the past 6 months, it’s felt like we’ve been staying at someone else’s house and we got tired of it. It was a huge production to pick out colors, mostly because I have a terrible time making even the simplest of decisions lately. We finally decided on a brighter green for the kitchen, a bluish-purple for the dining room (it was baby blue before), and “milk chocolate” for the living room, mostly because it sounded delicious. We couldn’t agree on a color for the family room and we both kept wandering back towards the red section. I picked a paint chip, showed it to the husband, and he immediately said yes. The name is “cherry cobbler” and it is the exact same color we had in the living room in our apartment.

You would think that since we had previously painted with red and knew what a huge pain in the butt it was, that we would do it correctly this time. You know, with primer. Apparently we think we’re big shots who are above using something silly like primer, so we just got the paint-and-primer combination. After painting one wall and seeing how horrendous it looked (streaks, tan bleeding through, dark patches, a general mess) I called Home Depot and asked for help. Then we ran over there with about 10 minutes to spare before the store closed and I begged the very grumpy man to help us fix it. He told us we needed a separate primer so he mixed that up for us and gave us a gallon of just paint as well. We went home and primed the unpainted walls a lovely shade of pink, looked at each other, and decided to just put the primer over what we had already painted. It worked! Who would have thought that stuff actually served a purpose, other than to scam me out of $20? It took 5 days and 3 more coats of red, but now it’s done and I love it. It feels comfy and familiar and fun.

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In other news, I’ve been doing horribly at Weight Watchers. I haven’t seriously tracked in weeks, I’ve been drinking way too much wine and eating entirely too much cake, but I’m walking about 2 miles everyday which seems to be keeping me losing, even if it’s only ounces per week. I wasn’t able to weigh in last week because the tv and everything was unplugged for painting, so I weighed in today for the first time in two weeks and am down only .2 pounds. I’ll take it. I’ve hit the 10% mark and have 13 pounds left to lose. I’d love to lose another 5 before we go on vacation in 2.5 weeks, but I just don’t know if that’s realistic even if I step it up and follow the program to the letter.

Last night we were at my dad’s to walk and I ended up looking through a bunch of my mom’s papers and things she had collected over the years. She used to go out and buy magazines and newspapers whenever anything major happened in the news, so there was a whole plastic tub full of them. I found the original newspapers from when JFK was assassinated (she was obsessed with him), from the first moon launch, the OJ verdict, Princess Diana’s death, the Clinton impeachment, etc.

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There was another bin full of stuff she had printed out from the computer. Thinking it was mostly garbage, I sorted through it quickly. Then I found a bunch of photo album pages full of pictures from the late 1960s and early 1970s – she would have been in her early 20s. They were pictures my dad and I had never seen before, mostly of her with old boyfriends on various road trips! I’ll have to scan some of them so that I have a copy. I can’t get over how beautiful she was when she was young.

The last thing I found was a package… One of those soft-sided envelopes. It was open on the side, so I reached in and pulled out these two books:

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I couldn’t help but laugh. How ironic. I turned the package over to see if there was a date on it somewhere, but there’s not. The shipping label shows that they were shipped to that house, which means she would have ordered them sometime after 1999 when we moved in. I doubt she bought them for herself because my nana died in 1991. I just checked the copyright dates and they were both published in 2003. I can’t help but think that she ordered them at some point (whether it was before she was diagnosed or after, I don’t know) for me. She knew that after she died, I would probably be the one to be sorting through all this stuff and she knew I would find them. She was huge into self-help books, and of course they are published by the Catholic press, which is so typically her. I like to think that she planned a little in advance to help me deal with losing her.

16 Weeks

Today is my Week 16 weigh-in for Weight Watchers. I gained .4 pounds, which is not a lot AT ALL, but it’s still a gain and it bums me out.

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I feel like after SIXTEEN weeks I should be down more than 13 pounds. However. I know WHY I’m not down more and I take full responsibility. Here is my plan:

More:
Water – At the beginning I was drinking a couple of bottles per day, PLUS 3-4 cups of tea every night. Lately, I’ve barely been drinking one bottle and no tea.

Exercise – I’ve recently started walking every night (well, almost every night) after work. I do about 2 miles. This needs to be more consistent and I need to increase my distance.

Fruit and Veggies – I used to eat two bananas every day, vegetable soup for lunch, and I would have a veggie with dinner. I need to start doing this again.

Less:
Alcohol – When I first started WW, it was during Lent and I wasn’t drinking at all. Now I am having wine (and/or margaritas) just about every weekend and it totally kills my points.

Pizza – We order pepperoni pizza once a week for dinner. This is too much.

Ice cream – Again, I wasn’t eating desserts during Lent. Now I’m eating a WW ice cream cone every night for dessert. I have two boxes of Cadbury snack size bars in the freezer. They’re delicious, but they’re also FOUR points per bar (and each bar is, like, two bites). I can’t eat these every night.

What I’ve Been Reading and a Weight Watchers Update

As I’ve mentioned before, I read a lot. Like, a LOT. I love books and if I could figure out a way to get paid for reading, I would totally do it. I know those jobs exist, but I don’t have an English degree or any kind of experience, so it’s pretty much a long-shot.

Anyway. I’ve read two really amazing books lately that I just have to share: A Grown Up Kind of Pretty and The Book Thief.

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Joshilyn Jackson is my favorite author. Her writing just absolutely blows me away, and her books are the kind that I enjoy so much that I have to force myself to NOT read them quickly because I want them to last. I could easily sit down and devour any of them in one sitting, but then it’s over and I don’t know what to do with myself.

A Grown Up Kind of Pretty has those characters that you actually connect with, that you care about. There were so many times I had to choke back the tears because I just wanted to jump into the pages and give Liza a big hug. I can’t wait for her next book. I was so lost when I finished this one that I actually went back and re-read Between, Georgia. As much as I try to pace myself when reading, I always go too quickly and end up missing things. I almost always re-read books I really like and I end up learning something I missed the first time.

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My husband has been trying to get me to read The Book Thief for forever. I had no idea what it was about, and since he likes sports and science fiction and other things I don’t, I didn’t trust him. This was entirely unfair of me because I recommended Twilight and he read that without question. I figured I owed him one, and I had run out of my own new books to read.

Oh. My. Goodness. You know those books that change your life? This is one of those books. I can’t believe I doubted it. It portrays Nazi Germany from an entirely different perspective and it’s just fascinating. I had to put it down and not read it for a couple of days because it was too upsetting, but I also just had to keep going to find out what happened. I’m so so glad I finished it because it is now one of my favorite books of all time.

I’m other news, I’ve been on and off the Weight Watchers wagon. I gained over 3 pounds the week following my mom’s birthday because I ate pretty much whatever I wanted and didn’t track any of it. However, this past week I lost 4.4 pounds, bringing my total loss to 12.1! I’m now the same weight I was back in 2005 when I first did the WW program. My jeans are falling off, my shirts fit better, and I’m feeling more comfortable in my body. I have 17 more pounds to lose before I hit my goal, which should be in approximately 3 more months if I stay away from the cookies and wine. I can do this.