Saturday, June 30, 2012

Friday

Food
Usual breakfast. Chili and an apple for lunch. We had dinner at Hawthorne's NY Pizza. We split a salad (mixed greens, pecans, mandarin oranges, tomatoes, onions, and peppers) and a tomato basil pizza. It was good, not as good as I wanted it to be but I have high expectations when something says NY in the name! Snacks were a cheese stick, Suzi's thin cakes with PB and laughing cow cheese, and frozen yogurt with berries.

Exercise
I went to the gym after work. Friday afternoon is the 2nd best time to go! I did 30 minutes on the arc trainer. 5 minutes on a slow warm up pace followed by alternating 1 minute of full out sprinting pace with 1 minute of slow pace. I did that 9 times and then finished out my time at a moderate pace. The machine said I burned over 400 calories. I followed that up with 15 minutes of various arm exercises. It was a good workout all around.

Learning
I finished "Crazy Sexy Diet". I copied a few recipes and will incorporate her message of increasing my fresh raw veg intake and taking more time to meditate and be mindful. I read an AWESOME article about calories and food types and the best type of diet. You can check it out here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/which-diet-works/?emc=eta1

Observations
Based on the article above and my plan to switch to a dairy free diet next week, I've changed the ratios in my calorie planning app to up my fat a bit and slightly decrease carbs. I use MyFitnessPal to track my eating and I love that they let you customize your fat/protein/carb ratio.

We went to Earth Fare last night, I love that place! We got some yummy tamari almonds and I got a few new things to try like seaweed crackers and miso paste. I'm looking forward to some new things!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Thursday

Food
I work late on Thursday so I was home for breakfast. I had a nice big bowl of Kashi Go Lean with a cup of Silk light soymilk and a banana. Lunch was part of my using up the frozen foods with cheese initiative, and I had a broccoli & potatoes with cheddar Lean Cuisine, Morningstar Garden burger and Luna Chocolate Chunk bar. (I usually eat an apple with lunch and the bar as an afternoon snack but I wanted to test the fruit digestion information I've been reading). I usually loved that lunch but it left me feeling kind of gross. I try to plan our dinners so that I can take leftovers to work every day for lunch, and I much prefer eating "real" food. This should actually get easier once I give up dairy as my frozen meal options will be limited. Dinner was leftover quinoa from last night. Snacks were Greek yogurt, an apple, and oatmeal.

Exercise
Again, since I work late on Thursday I usually plan it as an "off" day. I did 30 minutes of a yoga workout after I got up before breakfast to get my blood pumping and a good stretch. The one yoga workout I had saved on the Instant Queue wasn't that good, so I need to look for more or just do the yoga/Pilates blend that I like so much. I also took my normal mid-work day walk, which wasn't the best idea in 100 degree heat!

Learning
Still rocking the "Crazy Sexy Diet" but I'm almost done. It's been an interesting read, but I know that I can't follow her plan. It doesn't fit my schedule, my budget, or my lifestyle right now. However, I did take some valuable pieces with me and she's inspired me to eat more salads and raw veggies as much as I can.

Observations
I'm still feeling under the weather, but not as much as I think I would have in the past. I have a sore throat and can see dark red on my tonsils, but I'm not as tired or blah as I normally would be when my throat looks like that. I think my eating and active lifestyle have given me a sick buffer, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing! It's harder to tell when I'm not well, and I actually feel like I used to most of the time when I'm sick now. I'm waiting to see how I feel later but I'd like to get in a workout this afternoon since I leave work early on Friday.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Wednesday Recap

Food
Typical breakfast. Lunch was leftover chili and an apple. Dinner was a household favorite Quinoa and Beans. Snacks were almonds, a Luna protein bar and oatmeal.

Exercise
Took my usual work walk. I've still been feeling kinda crappy but I wanted to get in a strength day. I went to the gym and did a 5 minute elliptical warm up and then 35 minutes of various strength training. Gotta love that after burn!

Learning
Still reading the same book. Still have mixed feelings about it! I'm going to use the practice of gleaning (extracting small pieces of useful information from everywhere) and taking the best of what I'm reading and letting the rest go.

Observations
I know I wrote before about eliminating dairy from my diet. I've been eating cheese like it's my job this week and I wonder if that's a factor in my feeling crummy this week. I've decided that July 4th will be my last dairy day since February 4th was my last meat day. The only dairy thing I think I'll miss is pizza (although I know it's still good cheese less!) so tomorrow night Carly and I are going out for one last cheesy pizza. I'm looking forward to making this next shift to see how it makes me feel.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Getting consistent


I read a lot of blogs for different purposes. Some of them are long with paragraphs, some are mostly visual, some are only recipes, and some have a combination of everything. I'm wondering the best way to go forward from here. I tend to be the type of writer who gets into a flow of writing and that makes my posts long. I wonder if anyone has actually read through them entirely or if people skim or get bored while they read. I tend to like the blogs I read that have entries similar in style each time. I know what I'll be getting out of them. I think that's what I've decided to strive for in the future. I intended this blog to be about the things I do to foster health and well-being in myself. To me this includes some key items: food, exercise, learning, and emotional well-being. Here is my first attempt at styling my blog in a more consistent manner:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Busy weekend

It's been an eventful few days since my last post. We try to pack a lot of fun things into the weekend in between the cleaning/chores, so it's hard to also write a blog post!

On Thursday I went to our campus gym (finally) to get my orientation that will let me use the facilities. I had a great conversation with the student who gave me the orientation. She's lost a significant amount of weight too, and it was nice to meet someone else on a similar journey. I didn't have a lot of time to stay and chat, so I'm hoping she'll stop by to see me soon. The gym is small but really nice. I'm planning to do my cardio there this afternoon. I miss doing more outdoor cardio, but it's been over 90 every day for the last week!

On Friday, even though it was over 90, I decided to go to Crowders Mountain for an after work hike. I usually go up & down the Backside trail, which is .9 mile each way and is a pretty straight shot to the top. On Friday since I had more time, I took the Tower trail to the top which is 2 miles but still took the Backside trail down. It was a great workout, and I'm thinking about going back tomorrow after work. Hiking is absolutely my favorite workout and I'm hoping to explore more mountains in the area.

Me at the top of Crowder's Mountain


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Transformation...

One of the workout DVDs I love is "Ripped in 30" by Jillian Michaels. At the end of one workout she says "Transformation is not a future event, it is a present activity". The first time I heard her say that I was struck by what a beautiful and powerful statement that is. It's an off workout day for me and I took the dog on a mile walk this morning. I thought about Jillian's statement while I was walking, and realized how important it is to change our small daily behaviors when we're working toward a change.

One thing I do each work day is try to take a 10-15 minute walk on campus. Fortunately, we have an indoor walking track so I can get my walk in when the weather isn't pleasant. I originally started doing this for mental health, to get a break from the day, to regroup, and to soak up my Vitamin D and fresh air. It has the added benefit of helping me move more each day. I also have a Jawbone UP, which is a pedometer-like device that I wear on my wrist. It keeps track of my steps each day, and I can set it to vibrate if I haven't moved in an hour. I love how it makes me more mindful of my movement (even though it malfunctions quite often!).

I finished reading the book "Veganist" last night. After I consume some of the dairy products that we currently have, I'm going to try a week of a completely plant based diet. There are many reasons I'd like to do this. The most compelling is the scientific and anecdotal evidence of the effect of a plant based diet on health. Another is to reduce my carbon footprint and stop contributing to factory farming.

One theme I keep coming back to this week is how much guilt and shame is experienced by people who struggle with weight. There is a definite message in our culture that being overweight is bad and that we are overweight because of our own choices. We tend to overlook how American culture makes it nearly impossible to eat well without putting in concerted effort. I was thinking about that a lot this morning, and then in my blog feed I read this post about how viewing images of food stimulates a hormone that causes hunger. Think about how many food ads we see each day! I've reached the point where most food ads are gross to me, and when I see food ads at the gym while I'm doing cardio it actually gives me more motivation and drive.

Many of the personal stories in the "Veganist" book started with people becoming obese or unhealthy by doing the same things as everyone else in their lives. My story started the same way. I ate what my Mom cooked, what my friends ate, and what my TV was telling me to eat. It takes effort to realize that the American way of eating isn't necessarily the best way of eating. It takes effort to avoid fast food and take out. It takes effort to buy whole foods and cook them yourself. And like Jillian said, you have to put in the effort every day to make a change. You don't have to go all out, you can make small changes over time that will pile up into a shift to a more healthy and sustainable life.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

HIIT it!

Blogging is an interesting hobby. I find that I'm thinking about what I'll write quite often between blogs, and then when I actually can carve out time to write them it can be hard to find the motivation. I try to read a lot of food/fitness blogs and books. I want to be doing things that make the most of my time and are the best for my body.

It seems like HIIT (high intensity interval training) is the big thing right now, and I admit that I've been trying to incorporate that philosophy into my workouts. The first time I tried alternating 1 minute sprints with walking on my "runs" I shaved almost a minute off my mile time, and the second time I tried I kept the same pace as the first. Due to weather, schedule and health over the last few weeks I haven't been able to run outdoors again but during my last two cardio sessions at the gym (including today) I alternated between 1 minute of running as hard as I could (on the Arc trainer) with going at almost a walking pace for the first 10 minutes of the workout. I finished the last 15 today and 20 last week at a moderate pace. I don't know if it's doing anything useful but I find it both more challenging and more entertaining than keeping a moderate pace for the whole workout.

On my strength training days I've been trying something new as well. I used to do 20-30 reps at a steady, quick pace on a weight that was moderately challenging. I read this post about the Body by Science approach to working out, and I've started doing something more akin to that. Now I set the machine (or pick the dumbbell) to the heaviest weight I can manage and do 10 slow reps. Then I usually do another 10-20 at a more normal pace. I was able to jump up quickly in weight and I feel like it's been more effective.

Food this week has been interesting. I ate plainly on Sunday and Monday because of my stomach, but had a normal dinner (baked penne with squash and spinach) and lunch (leftovers) yesterday. Unfortunately just after I ate the gorgeous salad pictured below, my stomach freaked again. So it was brown rice for lunch. I'm still going to make tempeh sloppy joes tonight for dinner, cross your fingers!

Southwest Potato Salad (with a few tweaks based on what we had, like adding kale and banana peppers)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Best Laid Plans

I've been mentally writing this post for a day or so now and I'm not quite sure where to begin or how to proceed. I knew that this would be a challenging weekend for me in terms of healthy choices. I attended a conference all day Thursday so I knew my food choices would somewhat be dictated by the conference planners. And then Thursday evening through yesterday morning, my parents were in town for a visit. Again, I knew this would mean that I couldn't work out like I normally do and that I'd be eating out way more than I normally would have. Then my body threw me a curveball and had me dealing with a stomach virus all weekend!

Thursday I brought lots of snacks to the conference, which is good advice for anyone in a similar situation. I brought a mini Luna bar for a mid-morning snack, an apple to accompany my lunch, and a high calorie protein bar just in case there were no vegetarian options for lunch. I also brought one of my regular fruit and nut bars for an afternoon snack. I'm glad I brought so much with me. They had a decent breakfast table but I'd eaten before. It was hard to resist a granola & yogurt parfait with fresh strawberries though! For mid-morning snacks they had pound cake, and the afternoon snack was cookies. For lunch I was able to get a veggie burger so I had that with some vegetarian baked beans and my apple. Planning ahead made a big difference in my day. I also made a point to take to dog on a mile walk when I got home before going out to dinner.

For dinner we took my parents to a restaurant called Lotus that we like. It has sushi and Asian/Southern fusion cuisine. I had a veggie roll and their tempeh spring rolls. The tempeh spring rolls were okay, I peeled off all the fried spring roll dough though. My partner had grouper that looked amazing if you like fish. 
I'd been queasy all day Wednesday and Thursday, and Thursday night into Friday morning was a little rough for my stomach. I was confused at first because I knew I didn't eat anything especially rich or out of the norm. I should have realized then that I had something working on me but I didn't!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Listening to my body

 
I’ve been keeping track of the food I eat very consistently since January. It can be exhausting. Also since January, and especially since I started eating vegetarian, I’ve been researching and reading about people who have committed to eating mindfully, listening to their bodies and eating “real” food. I’m trying to get to that point myself but I can’t let myself not log my food every week day. On the weekends I have no problem letting go and eating more mindfully. I know how my body works and I’m afraid that eating the wrong nutritional combination will cause me to gain weight back. I’m still working toward my dream of eating as much real food as possible without relying on my calorie counting app every day. One blog I particularly enjoy that has this mindset is Kath Eats Real Food. I also own a cookbook called “Super Natural Cooking”by Heidi Swanson that is a great inspiration.

I’ve been getting a lot of inspiring feedback from friends and family about the blog and I really appreciate it, although it does make me feel a bit more pressured to set an example. My plan for this week had been to run this morning, but when I woke up my leg joints were aching and I decided to listen to my body and do the fantastic Crunch - Super SlimDown: Pilates Yoga Blend instead. This is one of my favorite workout videos ever, and this morning was the first time I’ve done the whole 40 minute workout. It’s a very flow-y workout that uses dynamic yoga and Pilates moves in a routine that’s easy to follow. I had a full body sweat after, and the stretching motions were exactly what my body needed today. It’s on Netflix Instant if you have it. The workout is led by Ellen Barrett. She is my absolute favorite workout DVD trainer. She's super easy to follow, her routines are never boring, and you can tell that she's extremely knowledgeable.

I usually only work out three days in a row and then take a day off but my schedule didn’t allow that this week. I’m going to a conference in Charlotte tomorrow so I have to leave my house around 7 and when I get home (hopefully around 5) my parents will be here for a visit. I am planning to run Friday morning though, so I hope my joints (and motivation) have improved by then. I’ll leave you with my dinner from last night (that I’ll enjoy again tonight!), smoked tofu with broccoli, pole beans, onion, cabbage & buckwheat soba noodles.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Focus on the Food

I've been intending for my next post to be about food. Food and exercise are the two areas I'd like to focus on in this blog as they form the foundation of my transformation and ultimately of how I like to live my life.

I've been a vegetarian since early February. Before that I was trying my best to only eat meat from "sustainable" sources, but I found this to be more thorny ethically than I thought. For anyone considering a vegetarian or vegan life I'd recommend the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer as a good starting point. Beyond the ethical reasons I've decided not to eat meat, I also feel that eating a plant based diet allows me to eat a greater quantity of food and has forced me to consider a greater variety of food as well.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Growing and Shrinking



The photo collage I posted illustrates my relationship with my weight quite nicely. I was a skinny kid through kindergarten. Around first grade I hit a growth spurt that made me taller and chubbier than a vast majority of my classmates. From first grade through about eleventh I was always husky, big-boned, large, whatever euphemism you’d like for my age. I see obese children now and am thankful I wasn’t that overweight as a child, but I was still larger than most of my peers and I always felt uncomfortable because of it. I played sports and danced through elementary school and continued playing sports through eleventh grade. I used to think my eating habits were fine, and they were on par with most people I knew. I didn’t binge eat or sit down and finish a carton of ice cream or bag of cookies in one sitting.

I did eat like most people in the US do. I ate a lot of fast food and processed food. I didn’t eat a ton of fruit and vegetables. Almost any time I went out to eat (except a little over a year of vegetarianism at age 15-16) I ordered chicken tenders and fries. I always ate an after school snack…usually Oreos or ice cream or bagels. I didn’t perceive anything that wrong about how I ate because it was so similar to my peers and my family. I’m just blessed with a body that doesn’t respond well to that lifestyle. As you can see from my 2002 high school graduation picture, I had slimmed down some by senior year. This was a combination of the “bad” vegetarian diet, a stint of mild anorexia (that’s been a secret until now, sorry Mom!), and a rocky relationship that I had from January of senior year through October of my first year in college that caused me to often get upset  to the point where I’d throw up.

In October of my freshmen year in college I met my current partner and we started dating. We went through quite a bit of turmoil in our lives at first, and I started to slowly put on weight. We started living together in the summer of 2003 and around that time we started experimenting with cooking more. We also ate out several times a week if not every day. After a year we moved in with a roommate and continued this pattern. I remember one of the meals we’d make the most was pasta with chicken that had been breaded and pan fried. We’d also buy bags of onion rings and chicken tenders and have those for lunch several times a week. Our local upscale Chinese/sushi restaurant servers and owner knew us by name. In summation, I was happy and eating what I wanted with no regard for its effect on my body.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Girl in Pictures

I thought my next post should be pictures, so I've just spent (wasted?) an hour making this collage of my evolution. It was hard to find shots of me where I wasn't hiding my body behind family, friends, and other objects. It was even hard to find that in my "skinny" shots. That's one thing I think about quite a bit, how I still have the fat girl mentality. As an overweight woman I learned how to hide myself with clothes and to make decisions based on size. I still catch myself avoiding narrow gaps when walking even though now I have no problem fitting through. I read an interesting article recently about how people's perceptions change if they are informed that a person was once obese. I could really relate and I'm always hesitant to discuss my weight loss with people, until now :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

A typical breakfast

Anyone who has lost significant weight will tell you that having food routines is a necessity. Eating the same or similar foods at the same time each day makes life easier. Here's a typical breakfast for me. Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, a tablespoon of Trader Joes almond butter and a banana. Most days I have some type of complex carb with almond or peanut butter and a banana. On the weekend I'll mix it up, but this combo works well for me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Girl in Half


The easiest place to start is at the beginning. For this post that’s the title, which is also the title of the blog. I’ve been considering writing this blog for quite some time. I was encouraged recently by a friend on Facebook who asked for a recipe for a photo I’d posted. She told me that if I wrote a food blog to let her know and she’s follow. Ever since then I’ve been thinking of blog names and working out my vision for what an engaging, readable, and relevant blog would be. I keep a blog for my professional development as a librarian and I quite like the catharsis and mental processing time I gain from that endeavor. One of the most important things to me after my work is my health, and I’ve decided to blog about it.

Girl in Half refers to the fact that I’m literally half the girl (woman really, but girl rolls of the tongue better) I used to be. When I was 21 I weighed around 320 pounds. Today at age 27 I weigh around 155 pounds. I wanted to use the blog name Former Fat Girl but it was taken. Then I realized that losing half of my body weight is a better accomplishment than just being formerly fat.

On a blog like this I know people expect the obligatory before and after pictures. I’m working on it, so be patient!

My goal for this blog is to talk about my journey as a whole while focusing on where I am today with my lifestyle. I read a lot of blogs, take a lot of food pictures, and do a lot of research on healthy living. I intend to make this a place for me to collect that information and reflect on it. Thank you to everyone who has stumbled here and is willing to read along as I go.