The Crucial Point

Hi all!

There are a few things I want to talk about in this post. I’ve been really focusing on making my work outs consistent and building a habit of it.

…And I think I’ve finally got it!

It is March 17th and I have successfully worked out since January 8 except for 1 week when I got sick.

It was only a few weeks ago that I’ve really started to focus on weight lifting. I never thought I would be that person. Ever. But I gotta tell you, I am hooked. Maybe it’s the newbie gains, I don’t know, but I’ll take it! I’m all about the squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. I am killing the squats and deadlifts. The bench pressing is a little slow gaining, just because I don’t want to hurt myself and I don’t have a spotter (nor do I want one…), but I will get there. My husband is thinking about joining the gym again, so he can be my spotter!

I was always a cardio person (in retrospect, I really hate myself for wasting all this time!) but now cardio is an afterthought. I still do it everyday, but only to help with my soreness and to increase my calorie deficit. I have a pretty solid regimen going on, I think. I just have to keep going and break through that wall!

I am at the crucial point where I could quit or keep going. There a days when I want to quit just because I feel like I’m not seeing results fast enough, but then I remember that this is the most important part of the journey. I think back to how much stronger I feel, and how much stronger I could get. Also, I want to get my metabolism in a good place.

I remember when I could barely even squat with a bare 45 lb barbell and now the 105 lb squat is starting to feel too easy. It’s an amazing feeling. And I have so much farther to go! I want to get past this point to the place where I’ve never been.

My exercise regimen looks like this:

Exercise Chart

This is just an example. My exercises vary somewhat, but I do try to focus more on compound exercises. If I’m really sore, I’ll try to just do some cardio and some light weights with a part that’s not sore.

Also, Mondays through Friday, I eat healthier and have lower carb meals. I allow myself a couple of cheat meals over the weekend. I am trying to use the 80/20 rule as a guideline: eating healthy 80% of the time.

I’m still ironing things out, but I think I’ve finally found something that works for me. It’s 6 months until my best friend’s wedding and it’s crunch time!

My next post will be an update about my progress with my body. Stay tuned!

 

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Bad Food, Bad Mood: Getting Back on Track

Finally, I’m back! I’ve been in a funk lately and I know I really need to get back on track. I was feeling down, tired and moody, probably because of all the junk I’ve been eating. It’s a vicious cycle. What I eat makes me tired, and when I’m tired, I go for what’s convenient (and probably not so healthy), and on and on it goes.

I suppose it’s all part of the journey. There are triumphs and there are struggles. Blah blah blah. So I’m acknowledging this problem and correcting it. Now.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been moodier than usual and very irritable, and I know it’s because of the type of nutrition I’m providing my body. I am a believer that there is a major link between what you put in your body and how it affects your mental health. I believe nutrition is the nature’s medicine. But you have to care and you have to have control. And you have to care TO have control. It’s a constant effort with no time limit.

Ever since I returned from my travels, I’ve pretty much fallen off the wagon with my diet. Coming back after a couple of weeks, I feel out of my element and disoriented for a while. It takes a bit for me to get back to normal. Getting over jet lag is a major drag in itself, but I also came home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes and to a messy apartment. The fridge was empty with a few containers of old food. I just don’t have the energy to get the laundry done, go grocery shopping, and prep food for the week. Knowing I have all these things to do, I want to do it even less. I felt like I needed another vacation. Sad, I know. I suck at being an adult. Anyways, I felt off for a while. As a result, I don’t prep as well as I should and I go to work with no lunch and wrinkly clothes. I try to be easier on myself during this adjustment period, maybe too easy, and allow myself to buy breakfast and lunch, and maybe some snacks from the vending machine. It’s a very slippery slope. And before I know it, a couple of weeks has gone by and nothing has really changed… And enough is enough. So it’s time to get back to it.

I’ve been struggling to get back the motivation and determination. It does not help that it’s getting colder and all I want to do is cuddle up on the couch with a big bowl of candy and watch Hocus Pocus. I do like the cold to an extent, but it definitely does not help with getting back the motivation to go to the gym.

So instead, my focus goes to getting back to eating healthy. I’ll work in the gym later. I started cutting back on sugar yesterday. It’s ridiculous how much of a difference it makes with my hunger and cravings when I choose not to eat white starches and sugary junk.

Yesterday was only the second day, but I could feel that my cravings for junk had diminished significantly. I had a smaller craving, but it was much easier to handle. I didn’t feel the need to snack so much. I was satisfied with my lunch of curry chicken with vegetables. I also did not have the usual mid-afternoon crash.

There was a work thing today and I may have allowed myself to indulge in a cupcake…, but I made a pretty healthy dinner: a taco salad with ground beef, pico de gallo, guacomole, beans, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. I don’t think I could ever cut out dairy but I can do without the rice. Very delicious and satisfying.

After going through this cycle again, I realize how detrimental emotional eating can be, and how badly it still affects me. Once I allow food to provide me comfort, it’s difficult to break up this unhealthy relationship. But I need to remember how I feel when I put the right things in my body. I feel better and I feel in control, and even a little more confident because I am doing something that is good for me. The losing weight part is not so bad either.

And so the journey continues…

To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. -Buddha

Week 8: Sometimes Being Healthy Just Sucks

This week, I was having one of those days where I just hated life. It was hard to get out of bed and I just wanted to hide away from the world. My limbs felt heavy and I just wanted to stuff my face with fries, pizza, and ice cream.

These days, I realize, are the true test of my character and whether I care enough about myself to make the right decision. This is when it is the most important to stay positive and stay rational. I knew being healthy was never going to be easy. It may get easier at times, but getting through it when you are feeling down in the dumps is true triumph.

It's easier to stick to your goals with a positive attitude and when you're feeling happy but when you're having a bad day, Life just says, HA! Good luck! But if you get through it anyways entirely intact, then you have won and you are that much stronger. Or at least that's what I'd like to think.

I had to buy lunch the other day at work and the special they were serving in the cafeteria was turkey leg with waffle fries. These were fair/carnival size turkey legs with a big heaping serving of waffle fries. I saw this, and I immediately thought "Being healthy sucks!".

I let myself curse healthy food and died a little inside as I asked for the chicken, asparagus and green beans instead. Can I get a standing ovation, please?

I believe strongly that a healthy lifestyle is the seed that allows your life to flourish, but the act of being and staying healthy is a whole other thing. I'm NOT a health fanatic that loves everything healthy. I will make myself work out but some days I will still hate every minute of it… until it's over and then I'm happy that I pushed myself to do it.

I'm not saying all this to discourage those that want to take a healthier path, but I want you to know that I feel your pain! This is hard! But it's not always going to be hard. Anything worth having is never easy, is it? And sometimes, it just plain sucks. Everybody is enjoying a burger, while you're eating your salad. Your salad can be delicious, but it doesn't taste like a burger. I get it.

I made it through this week with no major casualties. I stuck to my healthy eating and worked out 4 out of the 5 days. And as a result, I am 2 lbs lighter and 1 inch smaller.

So yes this felt like a crappy week, but let's look at the bigger picture. The total weight I have lost is 12.6 lbs, and I am also down 2 inches from my hips, and 5 inches from my waist.

Here are my 5 things for this week:

1. Documenting my progress has really helped me see the bigger picture. It's satisfying to see a downward trend and that all my hard work really is paying off. Especially when I'm feeling like crap.File Jul 29, 1 05 37 PM

2. I always thought my emotional intelligence was always very low, and I know emotion plays a huge role in my difficulties in accomplishing things. If I can get my emotions under control, achieving my goals becomes something that is much more attainable. I'll try to think of it as a muscle that just needs practice and training.
3. I bought a cute little black dress from Banana Republic for a mad deal a while ago and got it in a smaller size since I've been losing weight. I tried it on this week and it fit! It was a major confidence booster!
4. It is actually just easier to bring lunch now so I bring leftovers I can eat and that usually tastes pretty good. I also won't be tempted by the junk food in the cafeteria at work. Also, now that I do have a bit more energy, I can make healthier compliant dinners with leftovers to spare.
5. It is ridiculous how expensive salads are compared to sandwiches if you're eating out. Anywhere where I can get a decent salad, it's like $10 or more! Where as sandwiches average around $6, 7$. Like I said, being healthy just sucks sometimes, and expensive.

It's been a bumpy ride so far, but I am managing. Thanks for reading my vent session, but I hope you can get something out of it like I did.

On another note, happy 3 year anniversary to my amazing husband! I love you!

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Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

Week 5 Health Challenge Update and Happy Post-Friday!

We made it through this 4-day week! Is it just me or whenever it’s a holiday weekend and we get a shorter week, it almost seems just as long or even longer than a regular five day week?

Confession time… So I had a couple of cheat meals this week… I went out to dinner with friends Saturday night and had salad, but allowed myself to have buffalo wings and indulge in a brownie sundae. Then we celebrated my father-in-law’s birthday Monday evening with a cook-out, in which I may have had a cheeseburger… I also made a cake for him, and of course had a piece (or two…). No judgment please.

Don’t worry, I went back to low carbing the next day.

I felt extremely fatigued this week so I didn’t go to the gym as much as I usually do.

So I was not surprised to see that I didn’t lose anything this week.

But you know what, that’s okay! I am not perfect, and I’m not going to beat up myself over it. I’ll pick up the pieces and keep going. The good news is that I didn’t really gain either (unless you count 0.2 lbs a gain… but if you do, keep it to yourself) so at least I was able to maintain my weight. I’ll use this tiny little setback as motivation for next week!

To help offset some of the extra calories, my hubby and I went hiking on July 4th at Great Falls. It was really hot, but we had a good time and the view of the Potomac River was beautiful. Also, considering that I can get pretty moody when I get uncomfortable, I was extremely… okay. For once, my hubby was the one who wanted to end the hike, when normally I would be the first one ready to call it a day. Instead, I felt like I could have kept going! But I sure slept well that night. I didn’t realize it then, but when I got home, being out in the heat and sun really took a lot out of me.

So in staying with the spirit of remaining optimistic and always learning, here are my five things for this week:

  1. Self-discipline and willpower is a must. When I am able to follow a low-carb diet to the extreme, I have very little cravings, and it’s easy to stay away from blood-sugar-spiking goodies. However, I know if I want to make this a long-term thing and keep it sustainable, I have to work out my willpower muscles. If I don’t exercise them, I can easily have a piece of cake and just fall off the wagon completely. I need to know how to go back to healthy from unhealthy easily and with little hiccup. I also need to make things easier for myself, so I make less decisions, and therefore have more energy for exercising my willpower when I really need it. I used to think it was all or nothing. Now I know better.
  2. I need to motivate myself daily. Staying focused and reviewing my goals daily is a good way to stay on top of things. Have you ever told yourself that you’re going on a diet, but then kind of forget about it and ended up eating junk food anyways? If it’s not constantly on my mind, I get careless. Journal, blog, make lists… I’m going to do whatever I have to do!
  3. Being content and fulfilled in one part of your life does wonders for the other parts. I don’t want to jinx myself, but for the past few weeks, I’ve generally been in a better mood, and dare I say… happy? It just goes to show that happiness really does come from within. I’m focusing on doing something better for myself and it has really helped my state of mind and well-being. Even when I have a bad day, I seem to be handling it better.
  4. I envision having tiny superheros in my body whenever I eat healthy. They are powerful little beings improving me from the inside. I envision my fat cells getting destroyed by these itty bitty Kimmy-version Avengers and X-Men. Smash! It’s silly, but makes me feel good! Hey, whatever works, right?
  5. I’m figuring out my happy medium. I basically had 2 cheat meals this past week which still allowed me to maintain my weight. And this was with minimal exercise. I’ll continue to monitor this as I lose more weight to determine how much I can still indulge without going overboard.

This week got a little busy, so I got delayed in publishing my post. I will continue to aim for publishing my check-in update posts on Fridays unless other circumstances dictate otherwise.

Do you have any great tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle? I’d love to hear about it! 


 

Surviving Life with Depression: How I Manage

There is such a stigma associated with depression or any type of mental health issue. I’m always wary about talking about my depression because I almost feel ashamed of myself. For some reason I feel like it’s my fault I feel this way. But I know better.

In an effort to learn to love myself and be okay with the person I’ve become, I’m going to be honest with myself and embrace everything that makes me me. Yes, I have major depressive disorder. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it since I was 15, but I wasn’t clinically diagnosed until I was 23. I had always made excuses for it, thinking it was me being a teenager or me just being too weak and lazy to deal with life. But it got to be too much and I finally got help for it.

I’ve had therapy, take medication, and just learned how to live with it. I hope one day to become strong enough to overcome it. I know a big part of this will be to develop the courage to live the life I want.

I also believe that what I choose to put into my body has an effect on my mental health, which is one of the reasons why I’m working on becoming healthier person. I believe a good healthy diet can be a great antidepressant.

I don’t know if my depression is something that will ever completely go away. The brain is still such a mystery and there’s still so much we don’t know.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to manage my depression using various tips. There are still tough days where I just want to stay in bed and can’t muster up any energy to do anything productive. But I’ve realized there are things I can do to make the impact of it not so intense.

  1. Feel through your emotions. I realize that sometimes I try to suppress my emotions because I never learned how to deal with pain in a normal way. But I eventually learned that it’s okay to feel pain and it’s a totally normal part of life. It’s also okay to not be happy all the time. You can feel whatever way you want. We all need to learn how to manage our feelings in a normal, non-destructive way.
  2. Change your perspective. Sometimes a shocking eye opener can really kick me out of my funk. Things could always be so much worse. That isn’t to minimize your depression, but sometimes the distraction can help. It may also give you the push you need to do something productive.
  3. Watch an inspiring documentary. Watching other people overcome hardships is always a mood lifter for me. One of my favorite documentaries is Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. There was an extremely overweight trucker with an autoimmune condition who overcame all odds; the lifestyle changes he made caused his disease to go into remission. Inspiring stuff.
  4. Run or lift. I know that when you’re in an especially depressed state, exercise is the absolute last thing you want to do. But if you are able to get over the hump and get some blood pumping, the short distraction can be helpful. And if you go at it hard enough to get the endorphins to kick in, then more power to you! I always feel better after a work out, if I can just get myself to go!
  5. Take a mental health day. Depression is an actual medical condition. Sick days are abused, but if you can barely crawl out of bed, it might be a good idea to take a day for your mental state. Go back to work when you can be productive.
  6. Write it out. Journaling (or blogging) is a great outlet if that’s your thing. It can be very therapeutic.
  7. Embrace your creative side. One of my hobbies is painting. If I’m in a mood, it feels good to touch a brush to paper and just let go. I also like to enjoy a glass of wine while I’m at it.
  8. Use visualization techniques. I first learned about this after reading The Secret. It actually does help. If you visualize what you want to happen, it can have a very positive effect on your mental state.
  9. Don’t be hard on yourself. It seems that whenever I’m depressed, I seem to be the meanest to myself. But its crucial to be kindest to yourself at this point. Comfort yourself as if you were comforting your best friend.
  10. Be grateful. Even if you feel shitty, just tell yourself what you are thankful for in your life. Just repeat it over and over.
  11. Get outside. Sometimes just seeing the beauty of nature can help soften the rough edges of life. It’s also good for you to get some vitamin D. I like to take a walk in a quiet neighborhood and look at houses to see what I like and don’t like. It’s actually very calming and kind of fun.
  12. Eat healthy. I do notice that when I’m eating refined carbs and processed food, I am more likely to have episodes. As opposed to when I eat healthy, my mood tends to be more stable.
  13. Get out of your comfort zone. One of my issues is that it’s really hard for me to want to do anything. My interest level is just nonexistent. But if I make myself do it anyway, often times I’m glad I did it. Plus it’s always great to experience new things and make new memories.
  14. Laugh your ass off. You ever feel so depressed that you think the feeling will never go away? That is until you see a really funny or cute video on FB or YouTube, and you just burst out laughing? I dare you not to laugh! Those are the best laughs, when you least expect to.
  15. Just remember, no matter how you feel, it will pass. I try to remember that whenever I’m feeling particularly horrible – it’s never a permanent thing and if I just wait it out, it will get better.

 

I have been clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder and manage it everyday using the above tips. I am not a licensed mental health professional. I am only sharing the things that have helped me, and maybe will help others. But I realize what works for me does not work for everyone.

Health Challenge Weekend Update…

Forgive me… This is my first confession…

I learned something over the weekend.

So before I confess, I want to refer back to my rules that I came up with for my health challenge from a previous post of mine, “My last dessert… Weight Loss Challenge to ensue.”

Health Challenge Rules (or shall we say guidelines?) 

Start date: Monday, July 5, 2017

 

  • Focus on a low glycemic index meal plan. Low sugar, low carbohydrates, and no alcohol. (Will disclose, though, that I am going on vacation to Bangkok and Hong Kong in 3 months, and I do plan to allow myself to drink then, but then cutting it out again when I get home.)

  • Strength training 3x/week

  • Cardio at least 2x/week

  • If I cannot fit in a work out, I have to at least go for a 30 minute walk.

  • If I fall short, I will confess and document it here!

  • Progress or hiccups, I will post weekly. I aim to do 1 post a week.

  • I will allow myself room to make necessary changes to achieve sustainable weight loss. In other words, this isn’t set in stone, and I won’t beat myself up over mistakes.

  • Having said that, I CAN do this and I WILL do it. My goal is to achieve a healthy lifestyle with this challenge, but also to prove to myself I can do anything I want if I just commit to it.

I had started on last Monday. I did very well for the first 5 days. I ate well, avoided alcohol (though I normally don’t drink on weekdays), and was active. On my weekly check-in, I found that I was down 4 lbs. I was feeling great. It was a strong start.

And then there was yesterday. My husband and I went to a couple of festivals with a bunch of friends up in Baltimore. We went to a Greek festival, and I had grilled octopus, Greek green beans, and Greek salad. I had even packed a contigo with unsweetened iced tea and had a bag of nuts just in case I was hungry and there were no acceptable food options.

I said no to the fried smelt, gyros, and many phyllo wrapped dishes and desserts. I also said no to the french fries. I mean, wow, that’s willpower right there.

Then we decided to switch things up and head over to the Hon Fest in Hampden. Funnel cakes, crab cake sandwiches, beer, and frozen cocktails galore! I stood my ground, though. Everything looked delicious and tempting, but it was more like ‘I’ve had that before and I know it’s delicious’, not like ‘I need it right now like crack’.

At this point, however, I was getting tired from being out under the sun, and was ready to relax. We were meeting another friend for dinner, and what did we decide on? A wine bar of course. I could say no to everything else, but watching everybody drink and indulge just made me see what I was missing out on. Ah, the pressures of social society.

Now that we were ready to hang out in an air conditioned bar (and a wine bar, nonetheless!), I had to make a decision.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not an alcoholic, but I do enjoy wine, especially in the right setting. And enjoying some with friends is just the best type of life cocktail. I mulled it over and talked it out with my best friends. I mean, how often do I get to see them altogether like this? And how could I say no to a nice, ice cold glass of crisp rosé wine on a hot, sunny day? I know my weaknesses and I own it.

I made a compromise with myself. Considering that summer is just around the corner, I’ve decided to allow myself 1 cheat day a week (if needed) to have wine. I am only allowing myself wine, but I will still be on a low carb dietary regimen when it comes to food. I also know that I won’t always need this cheat day; it’s really just a safety buffer…

So looking back on my health challenge rules, I realized that I had covered myself with this clause:

  • I will allow myself room to make necessary changes to achieve sustainable weight loss. In other words, this isn’t set in stone, and I won’t beat myself up over mistakes.

So I’ve admitted my violation and have confessed. And I am making the necessary changes. Ha. Despite this ‘violation’, I ate pretty healthy throughout the day.

And after the drinks Saturday night, I realize that I overdid it a little, and though I still love wine, my body just can’t handle it like it used to. So even though I am allowing myself a buffer zone, I realize that I won’t need this cheat day every week.

Tomorrow starts a new week. I will keep you posted!

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My Last Dessert… Weight Loss Challenge to Ensue

That ice cream was so fricken delicious. I savored it as Kit Kat attempted to nudge her way in under my spoon arm to get a lick of my delectable dessert. But her annoying persistence did not take away from my enjoyment.

So I finished about half the pint. I’m not going to let myself feel guilty because after this weekend… Yes, starting Monday, July 5th, 2017, I will be embarking on a personal journey towards a healthier me.

And I will be documenting for all to see. On my blog.

How frightening!

Because what better way is there to keep myself accountable than public scrutiny and humiliation… But really, no shame. Unless you’re a hater. But without hate there is no love, is there?

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember. I’ve won battles, but still have not won the war.

But at my ‘healthiest’ weight I looked like this:

299762_10100550789774728_1459416954_n (3)

And I say ‘healthiest’ because I was at the lowest I had ever been and was actually within a healthy BMI range, BUT I had also just been diagnosed with depression not too long ago when I took this photo and was trying out anti-depressants to see which would work best for me. Meaning, the weight loss could have just been partly attributed to a medication side effect. And look how happy I am in the photo. Ha.

But I was never able to find a happy, comfortable medium. I gained some back, and lost it again in time for my wedding, but ballooned back up again. This is me today:

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Haha, and yes, I am standing next to giant Smurfs.

BTW, I am absolutely terrified about creating this post and posting these pictures, but hence the name of my blog… I have to get out of my comfort zone to learn and grow, even if it’s horribly mortifying. But gotta go all in, right?

I am giving myself a timeline of a little over a year to do this. My best friend’s wedding is the finish line. And then I plan to maintain my weight… That will be another challenge in itself, but we will cross that bridge when it comes.

So, how will this go, you ask?

 

Health Challenge Rules (or shall we say guidelines?) 

Start date: Monday, July 5, 2017

Hiatus: September 1 to September 20th (vacation)

Approximate End Date: TBD but approximately September of 2018.

  • Focus on a low glycemic index meal plan. Low sugar, low carbohydrates, and no alcohol. (Will disclose, though, that I am going on vacation to Bangkok and Hong Kong in 3 months, and I do plan to allow myself to drink then, but then cutting it out again when I get home.)
  • Strength training 3x/week
  • Cardio at least 2x/week
  • If I cannot fit in a work out, I have to at least go for a 30 minute walk.
  • If I fall short, I will confess and document it here!
  • Progress or hiccups, I will post weekly. I aim to do 1 post a week.
  • I will allow myself room to make necessary changes to achieve sustainable weight loss. In other words, this isn’t set in stone, and I won’t beat myself up over mistakes.
  • Having said that, I CAN do this and I WILL do it. My goal is to achieve a healthy lifestyle with this challenge, but also to prove to myself I can do anything I want if I just commit to it.

So here it is.

Will it be done? We shall see…

Wish me luck! Cheers!

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