Sunday, August 26, 2012

Conclusion!

Sorry this post is late! Seems a nasty cold is making its way through our family, and today is the first day this week that I, and our son, have been well enough to allow for some time to write an update.

The reunion came and went last weekend, and so ended my 10-week challenge! 

This ended up being a challenge of a different variety for me. I didn't meet my goal. As of this morning, I'm still at 137. So, either my scale is broken, or losing those last seven pounds will require more of a commitment than I've been able to give these past few months, especially with the process of buying a house, adjusting to life with a crawler, and coping with a sick baby. Weight loss or no weight loss, I can't beat myself up over my defeat because, in other ways, this was a victory for me.

I've been working out most days of the week, though not all. Mainly, my workouts have been Insanity workouts, with a few running sessions, Pure Barre routines, or Jillian Michaels videos interspersed, along with weight training. My stamina has increased, and so has my energy level and overall fitness level. I definitely feel stronger, and that's what counts, right? 

My diet hasn't been as disciplined as I set out for it to be. What can I say? I fight a constant battle with a very persistent sweet tooth. But, I have toned down the sweet treat indulges, and my body has thanked me for it.

So, what was the real challenge for me? I had an epiphany a few weeks ago, when it became clear to me that I had this reunion thing all wrong. It's great to have a focus and work toward a goal, but it's important to make sure it's the right goal. It's counterproductive to pressure yourself to accomplish something that maybe you weren't meant to accomplish. 

This reunion had spun me so much into a tizzy that last Saturday as I got ready, I almost had a panic attack. I was teased a lot in high school (who wasn't, really?) for my curly red hair, glasses, fair skin, short height, faith, not drinking or sleeping around...you name it, I was laughed at for it. This isn't to say I feel sorry for myself; those days are long gone, and I'm proud of the girl I was then and the woman I've become now. But, there was still a part of me that felt I had something to prove to these people I haven't seen in 10 years, and probably won't see for 10 more. And isn't being fabulous the ultimate revenge, really?

My three best friends and me at our 10th grade Christmas dance. How cute are we?!

The girls (minus Heather—we missed you!) at our 10-year reunion

All this effort that I put into improving my outward appearance had started to distract me from the real purpose of this reunion: to have fun and reconnect with those who helped write my story. What did I have to prove, really? Why did I feel I so desperately needed anyone's approval?

Despite my resolve to live in denial, the reality is that I am not 18 anymore, and I will never be 18 again. I've been chasing after my college-age self, thinking that if I work hard enough, I can look like I did when I was 20. And not only look that way, but prove that even though I am married and have a child, that I am still that same person and can still keep up. When, the beautiful truth is that I should change from the beginning of my 20s to the end.

Truth? My husband and I were both yawning on the car ride to the reunion at 6:30! We were more tempted to capitalize on our night out by parking somewhere and taking a nap after a grueling week. Instead of going out to party at a bar with my old classmates after the reunion ended at 10, we were out the door at 10 til to relieve our babysitter and so I could get out of that dress and breathe a little easier. And as I kicked those merciless heels back into the depths of my closet, I also kicked regret to the curb.

Revisiting my past brought me closure. Gone is my desire to prove anything to anyone. The only thing I want to do now is embrace who I am at 28—a wife to a man who loves the crazy out of me; a mom to the sweetest 11-month-old who thinks I am the funniest, silliest, cuddliest toy he has in his possession; with a body who endured a natural childbirth and lives to rock some Insanity workouts afterward; a friend to some of the most amazing women I could have in my life; a daughter to a set of parents who sacrificed immeasurably to raise me right; and a sister to a guy I couldn't be prouder of.

So I have wider hips and laugh lines? These badges of honor were earned. I've endured a broken tailbone, a herniated disc, patellar tendonitis, a half-marathon, a challenging career, marriage and all its ups and downs, childbirth, home ownership, loss of loved ones and friendships, five moves...all while in my 20s.


Me with my love. Isn't he handsome? 

So, what's next? I still want to push my body to reach the next level of fitness, for my own personal satisfaction and a desire to continue improving myself. And I also plan to balance reaching my fitness goals with juggling the rest of the joys and challenges in my life, instead of punishing myself when I have to skip a workout due to more pressing circumstances.

The lesson learned: fitness is not a future event; it's a current process. And I should strive to be a better person, not because of any external pressure to be thinner, faster, or more toned, but so I can live a more fulfilling life, and because it brings me joy.

Has anyone else struggled with this revelation? Feel free to comment or send me an email. I'd love to hear your stories!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Well, I'm screwed.

The bright side: our house is getting into tip-top shape. At least that makes one of us.

We finally closed on our home and moved in at the end of June! This is our first home, and I absolutely love living here. We painted three bedrooms and redid our kitchen cabinets in one day, and moved our stuff in with the help of my father- and brother-in-law in one day. Yep. I could barely move after those two days were over. Since then I've probably officially worked out only four times: three of those were Insanity workouts and one was a run downtown (including sprints and bleachers, followed by a mad dash to the car after I about got caught in a thunderstorm).

My saving grace may be that, although I haven't lost any more weight, I have lost a couple of inches in my waist. And guess what? I tried the dress on that I'm going to wear to my reunion, and it actually fits! So, that's something.

Am I disappointed in myself? You betcha. It seems I'm not the masochistic machine that I once was. Either that, or I'm still recovering from our move and the endless list of projects that is synonymous with home ownership.

So with all that in mind, I'm revising my goal. My goal now is to break 135. That's less than three pounds to go with little more than four weeks on the clock.

Here goes...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Derailed

Is it just me, or does it seem like every time we resolve to make a change in our lives, the cards tend to stack themselves against us? Anyone else have that problem? Just me, then?

First of all, let me just say that this WILL NOT become a blog in which I give a bunch of excuses for why I keep experiencing setbacks, but week 2 of my 10-week challenge completely fell to the wayside. I believe I exercised twice this week, and I honestly have no idea what I ate (except that I had grilled chicken, baked sweet potato and salad for dinner tonight...and a homemade vanilla milkshake...*hangs head*). With Father's Day, a teething child, issues with our paperwork for our house (we're supposed to close sometime this week), packing and prepping for our move, spontaneous road trips (I did do a little hiking one day, so maybe that counts for something), let's just say there were no additional pounds lost this week. At least I didn't gain any back. In fact, I didn't make any gains at all...

Ok, but tomorrow is a new day, and even though this week we will close on our house, do some painting, and move into our new house (God willing and the creek don't rise), I am back on track.

One of my worst antagonists for derailment: lack of planning. It was Thursday before I got to the grocery store to stock up on healthy food choices, so for several days I practically lived off Subway and Chick Fil A. It's nearly impossible to meet a goal without formulating and abiding by a plan. But my fridge is stocked now, and since my husband is off work this week, I have both help with my son and moral support. 

Here goes week 3...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Motivation


Looky what came in the mail yesterday! It just got real. Nine weeks left. This invitation is going on my fridge as a warning beacon every time I open the door.

The first week of my 10-week challenge is over, and my weigh-in made me as happy as Jessica Simpson with a box of Pop Tarts: I've lost 2.4 pounds this week!!! Seeing that number in front of my toes just revs me up even more! Fewer things are more motivating than seeing progress.

I skipped the Insanity Fit Test at the beginning of last week, so I had an extra day to work out yesterday. I chose to do P90X Kenpo and Ab Ripper. If you've never tried a kenpo workout, I highly recommend it! This 1-hour workout is filled with punches, kicks, blocks and a lot of stretching, is virtually no impact, and will tone pretty much every muscle in your body. It's a great workout for what should be recovery days. My heart got a little break, my muscles got a good stretch, and I was still drenched by the end of the workout. And even though it's slower paced, it's anything but boring. I used 1-pound wrist weights, and I'm sore in all kinds of new places today! I'm looking forward to the Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit today, and I'm planning to go for a nice jog this evening. 
 
I pretty much had leftovers to eat yesterday, so my menu lately is nothing to write home about. But since I am down to one pumping session every other day (yay!) and am no longer expending those extra calories, this upcoming week I am really going to commit to giving my diet a nice trim: baked chicken or fish for dinner, fresh salads, steamed or grilled veggies, fruits, and whole grains.

I have a couple of baked tilapia recipes I'm excited to try this week, but I'm open to learning new flavors! What's your favorite way to cook fish or chicken?


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Catch-up

My handsome husband's birthday was yesterday, and you can probably guess what that means...I took the day off. No workout, unless you can count a few hours of shopping (which I do), and no keeping track of what I ate. Let's just say, I celebrated well. :)

Today, though, I'm back on track. That means Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit and Pure Barre Pershing Square 2. Boy, that was a hard 1.5-hour combination! My lower half was shaking as I trudged back upstairs after my workout (my home gym is in our basement). 

Tuesday, I did Insanity Pure Cardio and P90X Ab Ripper X. My husband's birthday festivities began Tuesday evening for us with a pizza and movie night, so I am again excusing myself on birthday calories! I did eat healthy the rest of the day:

Breakfast
1 egg, scrambled
tropical smoothie 

Lunch
leftover jambalaya


I've always admired those individuals who could stay the course and choose healthy meal options while on vacation or celebrating life events. I haven't decided yet whether I'd like to strive to be one of those people; I'm definitely not to the point where I can pass up birthday cake (or in my husband's case, apple pie—so there was fruit involved). It's becoming clear why my body doesn't change as fast as I'd like: to me, there are some foods that do taste as good as skinny feels. Or so I think... 

My meals today:

Breakfast
Life cinnamon cereal
skim milk
banana
coffee 

Lunch
leftover chicken and pasta from lunch yesterday 

Dinner
6" turkey and white American cheese on honey oat bread from Subway
chips (oops!)
white chocolate macadamia nut cookie (oops!)


So, I obviously have some work to do in the diet department. I give myself a B+ overall for today. Two more days until weigh-in, so I better make up for it tomorrow!
















Monday, June 11, 2012

Control

Honestly, I wasn't looking forward to my workout today. Day 3 of Insanity is the Cardio Recovery DVD, which I assumed was going to be a boring, low-key, mansy-pansy workout. Glorified stretching. I figured I would at least need to pair it with a Pure Barre DVD to get the most bang for my buck. (Read about my Pure Barre workouts here.)

Not to mention that I took my "before" photo today, and well, let's just say that after that, I wanted to kill it in my gym. I didn't want to look like that for another second! (Hopefully, as soon as my milk supply dries up, my metabolism will get an extra boost.)

Well, if you've ever done that workout video, it's not a wussy workout. It is slower paced and wasn't enough to get my heart racing, but it's about control instead. It's a lot like Pure Barre in that you perform slow, controlled movements that require complete concentration and engagement of both body and mind. That's not my strong suit. I like workouts where I put my body through the ringer but can let my mind wander. High intensity, high impact. So this was more of a challenge than I had imagined. But my muscles were shaking toward the end! 

If a tree falls in the forest and no one's around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Not only was my workout a stretch for me, but I'm learning that I really don't like keeping a food diary. I've always boasted a "healthy appetite;" I'm a girl who likes to eat and just makes up for it in the gym. I simply don't like having to give an account of what I've eaten that day. Plus, I'm freakin' hungry when I work out this much! But this kind of accountability is necessary for that very reason, I think. It forces me away from mindless overeating, from believing that calories eaten in secret don't really count. I've also heard that working out will get you in great shape, but you won't look like it unless you also watch what you eat.


So here's what I ate today: 

Breakfast:
Cheerios with skim milk and a banana
coffee 

Lunch:
leftover shrimp and angel hair pasta (if you missed this recipe, get it here) 

Snack:
a spoonful of peanut butter 

Dinner:
jambalaya (get the recipe)
2 slices cinnamon toast (low-sugar)


This weight-loss challenge is going to be good for me, body and soul. Hopefully, not only will my body get in shape and I'll lose the 10 pounds, but I'll also train myself to start living a more self-controlled, disciplined life. 



Sunday, June 10, 2012

Shrimp and angel hair pasta

I got this recipe from my mom, and though I still can't make it quite as good as she does, I make it all the time. We had this tonight for dinner, in fact, and it is so easy and delicious that I have to share it with you! It's the perfect light summer fare.

Baby shrimp and angel hair pasta

Ingredients: 
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lemon, zested
1/3 lb fresh baby shrimp, pealed and deveined, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 lb angel hair pasta, cooked al dente
salt/pepper
1/4 c white wine, optional

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. 
Add olive oil and melt butter into it. 
Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
Add lemon zest and shrimp, and squeeze juice from half of lemon into pan. Heat shrimp through for another 2 minutes.
Add wine and tomatoes. Toss and heat tomatoes through. 
Add cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat evenly in sauce.
Season with salt and pepper. 

I've modified this recipe to simplify measurements and allow for leftovers. I use a whole bag of frozen shrimp, one package of grape tomatoes, and one package of angel hair pasta (sometimes we use whole wheat, but I'm not a stickler). This recipe is delicious with or without the wine, too; we don't always keep it in the house, so a lot of times I make it without.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do!


I'm making my way through 60 days of the Insanity series, which has proven to be my go-to workout when I want to slim up fast. I swear nothing cuts through flab like that workout! Since today was day 2, I completed Cardio Power and Resistance, along with some more heavy bag drills.

I'm also keeping a food diary this time around, which is something I highly suggest if you are trying to lose weight. Actually seeing the food I eat each day written down on a sheet prevents me from eating mindlessly, and even though I'm not exactly counting calories, I feel more accountable for what I eat, which encourages me to eat less.

Today's meals:

Breakfast
one slice of whole wheat cheese toast
one mixed berry smoothie (frozen mixed berries, 1/2 cup low fat all-natural vanilla yogurt, and a splash of OJ)
coffee

Lunch
6-in. Subway sweet onion chicken teriyaki 
one small peach
two mini pecan spins (my sweet treat for the week)

Snack
1 cup Cheerios with skim milk and sliced banana

Dinner
shrimp and angel hair pasta with grape tomatoes (get the recipe!)
salad


I'm not willing to cut out my ranch dressing, nor will I touch the lower-fat, higher sugar version, but instead of slathering it on my salad, I dip my fork in the dressing first and then take a bite. I save a ton of calories that way. 

What tips do you have for enjoying your favorite higher-fat foods? Feel free to comment below!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New fitness challenge




My last fitness challenge seems a distant memory with all that has happened in the past two months. We are in the process of buying a house, which many of you know how time consuming that can be. My son, Liam, just turned nine months old, and not only is he finding new, interesting ways of moving around, but he's entered the blessed separation anxiety stage. Needless to say, we've been spending lots of quality time together! This past week, he started cutting a tooth and began waking during the night, so our days have been filled with catching up on rest...and keeping up with our bubbly baby.

Even though my workout routine has taken somewhat of a back seat, I have lost another few pounds! I can't say that I've stuck with my no-sweets rule, so that weight loss may include a little muscle mass with it, unfortunately. And when we move into our new house and join the community pool, I want to feel good in my swimsuit. The best course of action is to get back at it, and I learned last time that the best way to stick with a weight-loss plan is to make it public. It's hard to veg out and be lazy when I know I'll have to blog about it later.

My goal: lose 10 pounds. My timeframe: 10 weeks. Why 10? Well, it just so happens that 10 weeks from today is my 10-year high school reunion. Enough said. 

I'm pretty confident that this time around will be a little easier, even though it's the last 10 pesky pounds I need to lose. My biggest hope comes from the fact that since Liam turned nine months, I've retired the breast pump and am going to stop breastfeeding. (Don't worry, I have plenty of stored milk to last until his first birthday.) This is important for several reasons:

 1. I've been reunited with my dear friend, caffeine.
Yes, believe it or not, our morning cup of joe can actually increase the effectiveness of our morning workouts—as long as we don't load it up with sugary, creamy goodness. You can read about this here and here. And it gives me the energy boost I need to tough out a longer workout. As if I needed any more reasons to enjoy my morning latte!

2. I can have dairy again.
For the past nine months I've had to practically eliminate dairy products from my diet because it upset my little tyke's tummy. But it's actually been proven that healthy servings of low-fat dairy products can help trim belly fat (as part of a healthy diet, of course...that doesn't mean you can eat tons of doughnuts and milk and still have a six-pack). See for yourself here.

3. I have more time (and energy) for my workouts.
Pumping 6-8 times a day was a great calorie burner, but it also drained my energy and took about 1.5 hours of my day. May not sound like much, but I'll gladly take it! 

4. Simply eliminating pumping might possibly help me shed a few pounds.
Breastfeeding played a significant role in helping me lost my pregnancy weight. Most of the weight (about 22 pounds) melted off by the time my six-week postpartum checkup rolled around. But, it seemed that my body went into survival mode after that, clinging to those last 6 pounds for dear life. I've had several friends say that they hit a plateau in their weight-loss plan until they stopped breastfeeding/pumping completely, and then they lost several pounds within the first couple of weeks that their milk dried up. So, I'm hopeful.

5. I can finally cut some calories.
While I was breastfeeding, the only rule of weight loss I couldn't follow was cutting back on calories. Now, that's not an issue, so I can safely eat less calories and not worry about it affecting my milk supply. I'm back to reducing the amount of sugar I eat, allowing myself one treat a week, and I'll be loading up on fresh summer fruits and veggies. 

Just in case my looming high school reunion, and the fact that I'm documenting my progress, weren't enough accountability, this time around, I will post before/after pics at the end of the 10 weeks. And I'll also tell you all my starting weight: 139.8. My goal is to break into the 120s...and stay there.

Today, I completed Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, P90X Ab Ripper X, and some heavy bag drills. Off to a great start!

I want to know what your favorite go-to workout is! Feel free to comment below...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Veggie pizza!

The other day I made what quite possibly could be the best homemade pizza I've ever created in my own kitchen. This pizza was so good, in fact, and so easy that I would be doing the world an injustice if I didn't share it with you. 



Here is the easy version:

One can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough (I use Pillsbury)
extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 jar of Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce (it's healthy AND philanthropic!)
1/2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1/2 12-oz. package of low-moisture, part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese 


(Obviously, as with any homemade pizza, measurements are subjective. This is just what I used.)


Spread out pizza dough on large jelly roll pan (I used a stone rectangular pan) and coat with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle garlic evenly. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, then add veggies in even layers and sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper. Add another thin coat of sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. 


Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and browning. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

You could make this even healthier by making a whole-wheat crust. 

Let me know if you try this recipe!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Last day!



Happy Easter from the Thompson family!


Easter is one of my favorite holidays, and not because of the multitudes of chocolate bunnies, peanut butter eggs and marshmallow chicks (nope, I haven't had one piece of chocolate today). I don't care much for a giant Easter bunny that visits small children in their sleep and leaves them baskets of presents like Santa Claus at Christmas. To each his own, but that's just not my style.

As a woman of faith, Easter for me is a story of redemption, of victory. Of conquering sickness and defying death. Of new beginnings. 

And that's the perfect backdrop for the finale of my 4-week weight-loss challenge. Exercise isn't just a physical event for me; it's very much a spiritual quest. It's a chance to practice denying myself, ignoring my comfort level, and stretching to reach new boundaries. That level of satisfaction I feel after I've left a workout drenched and barely able to move, knowing that I pushed myself past my preconceived limits is much like leaving the battlefield a conqueror. It's the way I most easily find out what I'm made of.

Today is the last day of my challenge, and I'm thrilled to report that I've lost five pounds and four inches from my waistline. I realize that I originally set out to lose eight pounds and five inches, but I'll happily accept the progress I've made in just four short weeks. And more importantly than the numbers, I also tried on my warm-weather clothes yesterday, and they all fit! My wardrobe has been resurrected!

To be honest, I'm a little surprised at myself. I'm not always great with follow-through—not because I'm lazy, but because I tend to overcommit and agree to something without thinking it through, and then in the middle of it I decide it wasn't the best decision. I can be impulsive. So I wasn't sure how I was going to finish this challenge, especially with so much other stuff on my plate. 


The story of the cross is one of follow-through as well. (I'm in no way comparing my weight-loss challenge to Christ's sacrifice, but it is so inspiring to me.) When things got unbearable, Christ bore it. He didn't quit. He didn't say, "You know, maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. I didn't realize what I was getting into. Maybe we should just call this off." Quite the contrary. Easter is about the ultimate example of follow-through. And this Easter, I'm pleasantly surprised at myself that I followed through on my commitment, even in the midst of setbacks.


I wasn't able to work out yesterday or today because of a freak accident: Saturday, as I was cutting some shower invitations with an X-acto knife, I sliced off a piece of my finger. Yeah, I know! Very random...and painful! Anyway, no workouts that involve my right hand for a few days.

Of course, I'm going to keep at it. I've still got a ways to go, but this is a great beginning!

Happy Resurrection Day, everyone! 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

DAY 24: SIZE MATTERS

I chose chocolate. 

Reese's Pieces, to be exact. And my only workout yesterday was toting my infant in his car seat around two grocery stores and carrying our groceries inside (which included stairs, so...). I could have done better, but sometimes, a girl just needs chocolate.

Before you get all judgmental on me, guess what! I found a beautiful Easter dress on sale today...in my original size! It's one thing to fit in jeans; but a dress has to fit all over (except my calves, which don't really count). This one fit perfectly. And I even fit comfortably into a size small summer cardigan. Not to mention the shirt I wore today was too tight on me a month ago. The plan is working!

There are few feelings more satisfying than to actually enjoy trying on clothes that fit and flatter my physique. And that was just the reward I needed to recharge my batteries. I am even more determined now to amp up my workouts and trim back the sweets. It's true what they say: no food tastes as good as skinny feels!

Today, I completed Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, and it hurt so good! Tomorrow, I plan to go for a run (if the weather's nice) and do P90X Core Synergistics and some bag work. 

With just a few days left in my 4-week challenge, I'm ready to finish strong.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DAY 23: ONE LONE SOLDIER

I wasn't expecting to do battle this week, but I have found myself in the middle of a minefield. 

I'd been enjoying certain perks that come from pregnancy and breastfeeding, certain things that I enjoyed not having to worry about—one of which decided to pick this week to make its grand re-entrance into my schedule. 

Yep, it's that time of the month; I've had a splitting headache for two days, I was nauseous yesterday, and all I want is chocolate. And ice cream. Pretty much ANYTHING sweet. And my defenses have abandoned me like wayward soldiers on the battlefield. Why this week? My last week of the challenge?


I've tried to trick my brain by eating fruit. Didn't work. The heart wants what it wants, and it's telling my brain to take a hike and bring back chocolate.


I'm being dramatic, of course. As Monday was a rest day, yesterday my husband and I walked for 45 minutes. Hardly Insanity or P90X, but at least I got off my butt. Oddly enough, exercise is supposed to make this easier, and I really should set an example for everyone by working through my misery and blogging some inspirational advice about determination and willpower and what-not. But I just want chocolate.


It's that kind of day where, when I woke up early this morning by the buzzing of a text message, I just wanted to pull my 750-thread-count sateen sheet and vintage-washed duvet back over my head and stay there all day. (Seriously, my bed is COMFORTABLE.) 


But I'm up, my son's taking a nap, and somehow I managed to slip into my workout clothes. And though as I type this, I'm silently running through the components of my cupboard in my head trying to decide if I have the ingredients to bake some cookies, my tennis shoes are in front of me, begging me to play.


The verdict is still out...



Monday, April 2, 2012

DAY 21: RESURRECTING MY SKINNY JEANS

I won't deny that I held my breath just a little bit this morning as I stepped onto the scale, hoping that the number at my toes wouldn't break my heart. 

Especially since my husband and I had treated ourselves to ice cream this past week. And especially since I shamelessly woofed down a double bacon cheeseburger, tater tots and a grape creamslush from Sonic last night after my husband and I worked up an appetite during our 1.5-hour walk. I'm pretty sure that doesn't fit in anywhere to my healthy diet, but jeepers it was good! I all but licked the burger wrapper when I was done. 

So my diet plan was a bust this past week. But those numbers didn't fail me; I've lost another 1 1/2 pounds! That makes a total of 3 1/2 pounds in three weeks. This isn't as fast as I would have liked to lose the weight, but it's steady. And allowing myself a little cheat here and there, and implementing an exercise program that I can actually maintain, is worth the slower pace. 

I also experienced another gleeful moment this week: I was able to put on, and button up, my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans! They are still a little snug in the waist, so I probably wouldn't be comfortable wearing them in anyone else's plain sight just yet, but this is the same pair that only two months ago I cursed out loud because I couldn't even get them past my hips. The same pair that I've pined for for more than a year now. 

So, to catch up: 
Thursday: Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, bag work, and upper-body weight training
Friday: rest day
Saturday: Insanity Core Cardio Balance DVD and some kick drills on the bag
Sunday: (as I already mentioned) 1.5-hour brisk walk

I've encountered a few more challenges through this process, the main one being my milk supply. I am still pumping breastmilk, and the past couple of days I've noticed a decrease in my supply. It might have something to do with my other challenge, which has been exhaustion. I can just tell my body's worn out. So, today I'm listening to my body and taking what I hope will be my only rest day this week. And to help get my energy level back up, I'm saying goodbye once again to my sweet treats.


 
 
 

 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

DAY 16: I DON'T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT.

Have you seen the movie I Don't Know How She Does It, in which Sarah Jessica Parker juggles her booming career with her two children, loving husband, and all of the accessory carpools and big meetings that come with it? 

Well, I haven't yet, and I can already tell you that I DON'T know how she does it. I even left the workforce to be a stay-at-home wife and mom, and I still don't seem to have enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

Bills demanding to be promptly paid. Piles of socks and towels transforming into mountains on the laundry room floor. Crumbs on the kitchen counter that need to be cleaned. Trash cans so full that adding anything to them requires precise placement like playing Jenga. The one item that's forever left off the grocery list but that's so crucial to tonight's dinner that it requires another trip back to the store. 

Then there's of course the reason I'm staying home in the first place: that precious six-month-old bundle of energy with sparkling eyes and an electric, gummy smile who extends to me the most compelling invitations to play. Feeding him, changing him, bathing him, cuddling him, rocking him, laughing with him, reading to him, tiptoeing around my chores while he naps. I love every minute that I spend with him, and look at his pictures when he's not around.  


Six-month-old Liam enjoying his jumper.

It seems, though, that all too often I have to choose whether I'm going to work out or take care of the house. Getting back in shape has been at the top of my priority list, but the housework finally revolted against my neglect. So yesterday, I spent five hours balancing six months worth of the checkbook (call me old-fashioned, but I still balance the checkbook); sorting, washing, and folding five loads of laundry; and cleaning the kitchen. After taking care of Liam and cooking dinner, along with some other odds and ends, that left only enough time for a 30-minute walk. 

Of course, I could have done a Jillian Michaels workout DVD in that 30 minutes, but my walk through a close-by neighborhood with my BFF last night was pure therapy: ancient-oak-tree-lined streets with charming cottages, yards sprinkled with azalea bushes, and friendly passersby. It was restorative exercise, to say the least. 

Despite the stereotype of a housewife who spends her time watching daytime television in her jammies while her child plays solo, I actually find that I don't get much downtime during the day. I thought staying at home would afford me the luxury of chilling out, but this free spirit has found herself scheduling every minute of her day in order to complete her chore list. 

Experts agree, though, that taking time for yourself, and even putting yourself first (yikes!), actually helps you be a better person for others. It's only when we are at our best that we can offer our best, and being at our best requires that we make it a priority to invest in ourselves. Women have the hardest time with this, because we see this as selfish. And we cut other women up and down for their choices to do something nice for themselves. It's not selfish; it's necessary. 

Seriously, how many of us would bake a neighbor a casserole with only half the ingredients? Or give a gift that was dirty and worn? So why do we give of ourselves when we don't have our full selves to give? 

The housework will sometimes have to wait. Our children need to spend some quality time just with Dad. Leftovers are just as acceptable a meal. So are sandwiches.

These are lessons I'm learning through this process of getting back in shape. It's a sacrifice to make the time it requires to work out, eat right, and get enough rest to do it all again the next day. But I am worth it.  



Other thoughts: Now that I eat very little sugar, I have so much more energy! No longer do I experience a mid-day slump or crash mid-way through my workout. My blood sugar remains stable throughout the day, and I love the feeling! Also, Monday, my workout was Insanity Plyo Cardio Circuit, P90X Ab Ripper X, and some upper-body bag work. Today, I'm planning to do P90X Core Synergistics and hopefully a Pure Barre workout. I haven't lost any more weight, making a total of two pounds in two weeks, but more and more of my pre-pregnancy clothes are starting to fit. And that's good enough for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

DAY 13: GETTING BACK IN THE GAME

My leg pain hasn't really improved much, so I benched myself yesterday, too. I'm not too worried about it, though, because I've lost another half-pound. That makes two pounds total weight loss in less than two weeks! Even while breastfeeding, I'm not too far behind my weight-loss goal, and more importantly, my wardrobe is slowly but surely being restored to its former glory.

I decided to retire my trusty Asics cross-trainers. They were pretty worn out and—I'm pretty sure—the culprit to my leg pain. (Not to mention the outside of my left foot and my left knee have also been giving me trouble.) 

My new Asics GEL-Ipera...Aren't they fabulous??


Pretty much any injury I've sustained by exercising throughout the years I can pin on my shoes. As much as I love cute shoes (what woman doesn't?), this is one area where it's important to choose function over form. Wearing the wrong type of shoes for your individual type of feet or for the exercise you're doing, or just wearing ones that are well past their prime, can cause major damage to your body and sabotage your workout goals.

In high school, I developed relentless shin splints and almost had to quit the cross country team. Later, I found out the problem was that I had been wearing trail shoes and not cushioned running shoes. In college, my plans to run a half-marathon were halted when I wore my non-exercise New Balance Classics to run my nine-mile day. (I don't care what they claim to be; those shoes are NOT for running!) My knee pain was so severe I couldn't run for months afterward.     
 
If you are serious about starting a workout plan, you must be serious about getting the right equipment, and that includes taking care of your feet. First, decide what type of exercise you will be doing. It's not just a marketing scheme; you really do need different shoes for running than you would for walking. I have three different pairs of exercise shoes: one with more flexibility for running, one with lots of cushion for walking, and one with more stability for cross-training. 

Next, go to a specialty running shoe store like Fleet Feet Sports, where they will measure your foot's arch and record it walking and running to check for pronation to find the perfect shoe for you. And don't assume that you know what size athletic shoe you need, either; mine are a whole size smaller than the rest of my shoes. If your shoes are too small, you can cut off nerve supply. If they are too big, they won't bend where they need to and can injure your foot.
 
Today, I'm planning to do a lower-impact Jillian Michaels workout and some weight training. That will help me make up for the doughnut binge my husband and I had this morning! I know, doughnuts are quite possibly the worst food I could consume, and they certainly don't make my list of sugar-free treats, but this is the last day of my husband's vacation, so we are living it up with doughnuts and movies. 


And tomorrow, I'll be right back at it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

DAY 11: REST

You know that tendon or ligament or whatever it is that runs along the outside of your ankle? Well, mine hurts pretty bad. So unfortunately for me, today was a rest day. 

Or really, not so unfortunately. It was actually nice to take a day off from heavy exercise. Yesterday I killed it in my gym, so today I rolled around on the floor playing with my son, had some quality time with my husband, and organized our home office. It was a satisfying day. And tonight, my husband and I are actually going to relax, eat cinnamon toast (mine made with Splenda instead of sugar) and watch a movie. 

I've stayed on track with my resolve to avoid sugary foods, and with good reason: consuming less than 15 grams of sugar per day is this guy's recommendation for reducing fat around your midsection. Jorge Cruise, fitness expert and author of The Belly Fat Cure, shared a recipe on the Dr. Oz show for a sugar-free coffee-cup muffin. I've been meaning to try this recipe:

These muffins are designed to provide sustainable energy that lasts through lunch, thanks to coconut oil, a healthy fat that’s good for your brain, fiber-rich flaxseed and egg protein.

Ingredients
Makes one serving

1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut oil
1 egg
1 packet stevia

Directions
Mix all ingredients together in a mug and microwave for 50 seconds. Allow to cool to a safe temperature and enjoy! 

Here, you can read more about Cruise's tips for more toned abs.

What are your Friday night plans?


Thursday, March 22, 2012

DAY 10: HELLO, OLD FRIEND!

So, guess what I'm wearing. Go ahead. Take a gander. No really, guess. (And yes, I am actually wearing something; I'm not being inappropriate.)

Give up? I am sitting here comfortably wearing my pre-pregnancy Silver brand jeans!!! The last time I tried these on, I had to hold my breath to get them buttoned; I didn't dare bend my legs in them. But today, I've been wearing them all afternoon. Straight out of the dryer.

Talk about a confidence boost! I swear I've been walking so tall today, I've probably hit 5'3". It is really true what they say: No food tastes as good as skinny feels. 

This morning, I did P90X Plyometrics, some upper body weight lifting on the Bosu ball, and a little bit of punching bag drills. If you don't have a Bosu, I'd highly recommend getting one. It adds a healthy dose of balance and resistance training to your workouts, increases your range of motion during abdominal work, and ups the intensity of your pushups. I've also suffered from patellar tendonitis in my left knee, but I can do squats pain-free on the Bosu.

Tonight I'm making my spicy jambalaya for dinner, and the smell of it baking in the oven is making me ravenous! Seriously, you have to try this recipe. 

Have a great night!



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DAY 9: SUBSTITUTIONS

My husband and I have been in Mississippi for a couple of days, and I probably don't have to tell you how difficult it can be to stay on track while you are visiting grandparents who love to feed you! I cheated a little and have one of Papaw's homemade strawberry cupcakes, some peanut butter M&Ms, and a delicious bacon cheeseburger and fries from a local Tupelo burger joint. And I don't feel the least bit guilty, because with all that cheating, I still have lost 1.5 pounds and two inches in the past week! 

I think it's okay to cheat every once in a while as long as you eat a healthy diet. I've been loading up on fruits, fresh veggies, whole grains, lean meats and healthy fats (olive oil and avocado), so my splurge wasn't enough to really set me back. 

As the temperature rises outside, I've been staying cool with creamy guacamole. I don't eat mayonnaise, but if you do, guacamole is a tangy, healthy alternative. Here's my easy recipe:



1 avocado
1/2 cup salsa (I use On The Border medium salsa)
the juice of 1/2 a lime
3 garlic gloves, chopped

Throw all of the above ingredients in a food processor and blend until you reach desired consistency. I like mine a little thicker than applesauce, so it's easy to spread onto a turkey sandwich. And avocados provide numerous health benefits, from fighting several types of cancer to boosting heart and eye health.

I also found another healthy substitution. I recently discovered that my favorite drink at Starbucks, a tall decaf soy white chocolate mocha, had over a whopping 350 calories! So I tried an alternative, a tall decaf soy (because I'm still breastfeeding) iced skinny vanilla latte, which has only 90 calories and less sugar. It tastes almost exactly the same (except my new drink is a little less sweet, which I appreciate), but I can drink guilt-free!

As far as exercise goes, Sunday was a rest day for me. Monday, I walked/jogged at a local park with Liam in the jogging stroller and my three nieces. I didn't do any cardio yesterday, but I did manage to fit in some upper body strength training and a little core work. Even if I can't fit in a full workout when I'm on the road, I still try to do the following exercises once a day so I don't lose focus: 

Pushups
Tricep dips (on the floor, not on a chair, but this video shows the modified chair technique)

Today, I'm planning to do Insanity Pure Cardio and Ab Ripper X. There's nothing like seeing the scale move to boost my motivation to keep going.

Happy Hump Day!





Saturday, March 17, 2012

DAY 6: SOUNDTRACK FOR SUCCESS

Well, I completely forgot about my Ab Ripper X workout I was supposed to do last night. My husband got back from his trip yesterday, though, so maybe I found another way to burn some calories. Just sayin'... 

I'm trying this new concept of listening to my body, something that's always been foreign to me. I've always been the type to tell my body what to do, not the other way around. But running brings on a new type of soreness, and today I'm feeling a little rundown. Still, my goal is to work out six days a week, so my husband said he'd go for a brisk walk with me this afternoon. I'll also do some punching bag drills and call it a day.

My scale must be broken. It has been reading the same number for two months. I received some encouragement from a couple of friends this week, though—one who is a fitness trainer and nutrition consultant. She said another woman she's been working with works out six days a week and hasn't seen the scale move in four months, but she's lost two sizes.

I am seeing my body change already, so I guess I'm going to have to focus less on the numbers I see on the scale and more on the results I can see: I have more energy as a result of cutting out sweets, my waist is getting smaller, and my clothes are starting to fit better.

I have a lot of friends who absolutely abhor running and ask me all the time how I can stand it. Running is as much a spiritual activity for me as it is physical. It's purifying. There's a proverb that states, "Beatings purge the inmost beating of a man." At the risk of sounding like a masochist (which I don't completely deny being), that proverb just about sums it up.


Of course, one of the secrets to a great run is a great playlist. Music has this divine ability to reach something deep inside of you like nothing else can. Getting lost in a great soundtrack can be very motivating, so I'm sharing with you what is on my iTunes Work It Out playlist: 






What's songs really get you pumped up? I'd love to hear what's on your playlist!


Friday, March 16, 2012

WORKING UP A SWEAT

I’ve been sweating for the past two hours.

It was such a beautiful day outside that I revised my workout plans, traded my jump rope for the jogging stroller, and headed outside with my son for a 30-minute jog. 
My son totally enjoyed our outing...Can't you tell?

Sometimes you can start to feel like a robot if you are always exercising indoors with stationary, lifeless equipment or staring at a TV as a fitness instructor barks orders at you through the screen. 

 It reminds me of the training scene in Rocky IV—which just so happens to be my favorite movie of all time—when, while Ivan Drago is hooked up to a tangle of monitors slaving away on state-of-the-art sterile equipment in his trainers’ lab, Rocky grabs his ultra-cool bomber jacket and heads out into the Russian terrain to pound some snow drifts.

Watch the video here.


That was exactly what I needed—except trade the snow drifts for a nice, subtle-graded neighborhood street flanked with azalea bushes.

Back to my workout. Ok, so I did come back inside after my run to complete P90X Plyometrics, and after all of that, I was soaked. Seriously, I sweat like a man. I’m convinced that if you don’t look ugly after a workout, you didn’t work hard enough. I look so gritty when I exercise that I scare small children (except my own, who looked only mildly amused).

But even with my soaked clothes and frizzy hair, it’s amazing how healthy it is to break a sweat. Not only is it our bodies’ own built-in cooling system, but it provides maximum health benefits, including:

+ Improving skin tone and flexibility
+ Removing toxins from the liver, kidneys and cardiovascular system
+ Cleansing your skin’s pores
+ Improves circulation
+ Boosting your immune system

Basically, I have to look like Richard Simmons before I can look like Gisele. (Yeah, that’s the only thing keeping me from being her twin.)

Don’t forget: you must replenish the fluids you lose during exertion to get the benefits of sweating. Dehydration can inhibit the kidneys and liver of properly disposing of toxins. Your body also loses electrolytes when you sweat, which can lead to an imbalance if not replaced. This imbalance can cause heart arrhythmia, weakness—even confusion, and I’ve noticed that my body retains water if I don’t drink enough after a workout. And who of us actually want to look bigger after we work out? Exactly. So be sure to rehydrate for a few hours after an intense workout.



DAY 5: STEPPING IT UP

I'm not going to lie; I'm feeling a little discouraged this morning. After five days the scale has not budged AT ALL. I figured I would have at least lost 1/2 a pound by now. I know it's slow in the beginning because my body is gaining muscle mass, but seriously?

Now that discouragement is turning into motivation. Like, extreme, militant motivation. The weight WILL come off. Time to up my game...and my cardio.

My biggest battle: time. I do have a six-month-old, after all, and he requires food, care and some nurturing. And I love every second I spend with him. But if I'm going to do this, I have to carve out time for myself. Even if that means getting up earlier to add in an extra workout. 

What's on the agenda for today? P90X Plyometrics and Ab Ripper X, followed by some jumping rope.

On a side note, I really do not like pilates. I tried; I really did. But pilates is such a tame workout, and it doesn't fit my workout personality. It's so important to find workouts you love doing and aren't going to consider a chore; otherwise you will not stick with them. So, no more pilates for this girl. 

Starting today, one thing I'm also going to start paying more attention to is portion control. I can't be too extreme with calorie-cutting because I'm breastfeeding, but I can certainly watch my portions and try to eat lower-calorie, more filling foods like more fresh veggies.

Have any of you had any experience with trying to cut calories without affecting your milk supply? I'd love to hear your stories!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

DAY 4: SCENTS AND SPICE ARE TWICE AS NICE.

My first thought as I woke up this morning: You mean it's only Thursday? I've only worked out three days this week? It feels like I should be waking up to a Friday or a Saturday with as much as I feel like I've been working out this week. But I am starting day four of my fitness plan, and the soreness has actually eased some, so I'm ready for my next workout.

Speaking of plans, one of the biggest saboteurs of a goal is neglecting to have a plan. I've noticed that when I wake up in the morning with the elusive "I'll do some sort of exercise as some point today," I usually end up spending my day's free time in my PJs with a fluffy throw and a good book (or more accurately, a Grey's Anatomy marathon on Hulu). I will even pile on the sinfulness by baking something sweet from scratch. 

But if I start my morning by deciding which exercise I will do and when, I'm much more likely to actually follow through. So right after I feed my son lunch, I will do 30 minutes of pilates and 10 minutes of punching bag drills.

My punching bag has been the salvation of my workouts. No kidding. I highly recommend one, and you can check mine out here. It doesn't take up much room, and all you need are some training gloves (mine are pink, like these!), but even if you only work on it for five minutes, you will still get a good workout. I do at least 100 each of jabs, backhands (great for triceps!), hooks, cross-jabs (great for abs!), side kicks (works your obliques and hip flexors, among other things), roundhouse kicks (great all-around core exercise), and then some double-jabs, which whittles down my waist. I've lost an inch around my midsection already this week!

My new power food? SALSA! I am a Texas gal, so the spicier my salsa comes, the better. I've been putting it on eggs, eating it with blue corn chips, adding it to guacamole or pasta or chicken fajitas. Salsa can help boost your metabolism and serves up a healthy dose of vitamin C, A, and K, along with some healthy minerals and antioxidants. Read about its health benefits here and here. And any food that makes me temporarily forget my love affair with chocolate is a winner! 

You know what is almost just as good as eating sweet treats? Smelling them! No kidding. My husband and I went to Bass Pro Shop after church on Sunday, and as soon as we walked in we were enchanted by the sweet aroma of cinnamon. It hit us both like love potion number 9. Our shopping trip for gun holsters got derailed by a new mission: find the source of the delicious smell! We were pretty disappointed when we found out it was those candied pecans and not actual cinnamon rolls. Later on, at the mall, we stood in line for 15 minutes at Cindy's Cinnamon Rolls to satisfy our new craving. And you know how those cinnamon rolls are the size of frisbees? Well, we didn't even split one; we each devoured our own like Ethiopian orphans who hadn't eaten in weeks. I actually found some icing stuck to my sweater on the car ride home and shamelessly licked it off. (Ok, now I'm a little ashamed.) After we came down off our sugar high (we were actually high, laughing hysterically over the passenger's elbow in the car next to us), we both regretted our binge and were lethargic for the rest of the day. Never again!


This story isn't exactly supporting my theory, but my baking healthy oatmeal muffins yesterday and smelling them for hours afterwards did help distract from the fact that what I really wanted was to pack up my infant in the car and make a quick run to the store for some candy. Research shows that scents can help curb cravings because they trick your body into thinking you've already eaten the food. (Read some about it here.) Of course, you have to listen to your brain instead of become a mindless robot on the undying search for cinnamon rolls. I have a caramel-scented candle that often does the trick. 

I'm feeling pretty confident today, so I'm going to go ahead and count this one a success.