Saturday, October 30, 2010

Annie: Inspiration

A few hours from now, my little sister will set off on her first full marathon - from Marathon, to Athens, Greece.

She's always been a runner, and has run a few half-marathons in the last few years; but she had made herself a promise years ago that she'd run a full one before she turned 40 (she even has a couple of years to spare!).

I always knew running a full marathon was an enormous accomplishment, but until following her training (as a listening ear, of course, not actually doing it!), I never fully appreciated what tremendous commitment is required over a long period of time, to build the physical and emotional stamina required to do it -- even for someone who was in excellent condition before starting to train.

Over the last two weeks, I've had my moments of weakness, when I've thought about doing the same thing I've done hundreds of times in the last 7 years: give up, eat some crap, skip the bike. But each time, I've thought about what my sister has had to do, and to give up, to get where she is right now: on the verge, literally, of living out a life-long dream.

It's been an enormous sacrifice, and it's also given her a tremendous sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment.

And to me, it's an inspiration to keep going. My road over the next year is so far, far, far easier to travel than the one she will in the wee hours of tomorrow morning, halfway around the world. 

I wish I could be there for her tomorrow, when she crosses the finish line; but since I can't, I'll be here, in this very chair, watching for her bib number to cross on the race website. You can be sure I'll be bawling my eyes out with pride (and with relief for her poor feet!).

My finish line is far further in the future, but I have a feeling her inspiration will run alongside me every step of the way.

So to baby sister: run like the wind! And thanks.  : )

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Annie: On my chinny-chin-chin

I have to admit to a fear that my weight loss will age me (at least, in my face).

I'm 41 now, and while my hair looks older than my age (I let it go grey years ago), my face looks younger. I don't have many lines or wrinkles... I'm not sure whether that's because my face is oily, which it is (and which the ladies at the department store cosmetic counters assured me as a teenager I'd be thankful for when I got older), or because they're puffed out by fat.

When I lost my pile of weight in 2003, I did look older; my face was a little less taut, and I discovered new creases around my eyes where they hadn't been before. Of course, it was well worth the trade to be healthy, but I did notice.

I was talking with a friend about this recently, and she didn't believe me -- so I pulled out some photos that were taken just after I'd lost the weight (that is, in the nanosecond before I turned around and started putting it all back on again), and she agreed: my face even looked older in those pictures from years ago than it did today.

So what awaits me?  Hmmm.

A potential trade-off, though, would be if the little hairs growing under (not on, yet) my chin would go away. An overweight doctor I was seeing at one time for my blood pressure asked me whether I had whiskers on my chin yet. Horrified, I said no, and she said "you will" -- unless I lost weight, that is.

Apparently, fat stimulates the production of hormones that make you grow facial hair.

So every time I start worrying about being wrinkled, I remind myself about being bearded.

And then I hit the bike.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Annie: Weigh-in week 2

Yes, Mae's party featured some very, very delicious finger foods -- which, I'd have to say, are my most dangerous of danger foods. I could eat cheese, crackers, little sandwiches, hors d'oeuvres, etc etc all day long and never feel like I'd eaten anything! 

Mae, if you did go over by a few points yesterday, I'd be willing to bet you'd find yourself down another pound if you weighed yourself in a day or two. Not that I'm saying you should -- but without getting gross about it, sometimes the weight of the food we've eaten shows up on the scale even if said food will, er, be eliminated a few hours later.

I was lucky to be able to leave Mae's house of temptation and come home to the land of shrimp and vegetables, haha!

Weigh day rituals

As I showered this morning, I thought about the ladies who used to attend my Saturday morning meetings, and the rituals they all admitted to following on weigh day. The idea was to get rid of anything that might possibly weigh you down at the scale. So:
  • nothing to eat or drink all morning, of course (water is heavy!)
  • legs and underarms shaved
  • eyebrows plucked
  • cuticles trimmed
  • teeth flossed
  • a trip to the bathroom immediately before getting in line for the scale
  • shoes, jackets, sweaters, earrings off
So funny! There was even a woman who had first come to WW in the summertime, so her initial weigh-in had been in shorts and a t-shirt. She was so terrified of seeing that number go up as heavier winter clothes became required (jeans weigh up to 5 lbs, I'm told?) that she would come in dressed like a normal person in sub-zero weather, then change into her shorts and t-shirt to get weighed, then change back before heading back out. I'm not judging: you've got to do what you've got to do.

Lost this week: 2
Lost so far: 7
Still remaining: 93
Weeks to go: 50

I am going to be really happy when that "still remaining" number starts with an 8.

And next Thanksgiving I will read that last sentence and realize how far I've come... I hope.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mae: Week 2 weigh-in

Things have slowed down considerably this week. I'm not all that surprised by this and know that week one is usually an anomaly. I'm down 1.2 pounds, but as a former WW leader once said, "down is down, and it ain't up, so be happy."

I finally got on the treadmill tonight and did 35 minutes of moderate to intense walking. I vow to make this a more regular event. Also, The Mister is on board and is following along with the iWatchr iPhone app. This makes things quite a bit easier because, well, we tend to eat badly together.

I hosted a little get-together at my house yesterday, and I made fairly healthy and low point stuff. Annie brought the most delicious dip (maybe she'll tell us about it in a forthcoming post) and the day could have been very manageable, points-wise. But I started to loose track, and was picking at things here and there thinking that I would add it up later (any seasoned WWer knows that this is a dangerous game and not advisable). I wasn't horrendously over, but I recognize that this is a bad habit that got me to this weight, so I have to keep that in check. I also tend to not want to count wine. Ugh. If only!

- 1.2

Loss to date
- 6.4

Mae: foods to live by

Annie and I have been doing some food swaps lately, and I've come to the sad realization that most my finds are not available in this country. I used to live in the United States and found it was so much easier to do WW there. Turns out it wasn't just my imagination: the selection of ready-made, low-points foods really IS that much better south of the border. And while I try to stay away from too much of the pre-packaged, loaded with preservatives crap that is devoid of any kind of nutritional value, there are some products that are low-points, not terrible for you, and not completely synthetic. Here are a few of my must-haves from the U-S and A:

1) MorningStar Farms Original Sausage Patties (1.5 points)
I was a vegetarian for 13 years, and am well-acquainted with the 'fake meat' soy-based foods. The Mister, on the other hand, is a bonafide meatatarian, and has little tolerance for anything that rhymes with 'snafu.' Until now, that is: MorningStar Farms sausage patties have changed everything. I would go so far as to say that he loves them. And why shouldn't he? They're 80 calories and 1.5 points, which is a far cry from what the real deal would add up to. We discovered on a recent trip that these are also available in a jacked-up spicy version. I toast a whole wheat english muffin, spread some Light French Onion Laughing Cow on it, add a sausage patty, an egg, and a dab of hot sauce. It's phenomenal.

2) No Pudge! Fat Free Brownies (2 points)
I checked the "all natural" ingredients list in No Pudge! (honestly, they are so good and low in points that I almost don't care what is in them), and it's good news. There are only eight ingredients (whole wheat flour and cane sugar, for example), and I can pronounce all of them! Bonus! They're chewy and delicious, and are only 2 points per brownie. There are instructions on the box for making a single serving with just plain nonfat yogurt and the microwave, because who needs a whole damn pan of brownies laying around, right? These are the best, I tell ya, THE BEST!

3) Silk Light Chocolate (1.5 points per cup)
I don't drink milk because I've never really liked the taste of it, and dairy is not always my friend. Fortunately, soy milk has come loooong way from its earlier days as a chalky, too-thick bean juice. Silk brand soy milk is my favourite, and in my opinion, is the best tasting soy milk available. More recently, a 'light' version of the plain and vanilla flavours showed up on store shelves in Canada, and it's very low in points: about 0.5 per 1/2 cup. Now here comes the big sigh. A light version of the chocolate flavour is available in the US. This has in part been achieved by using stevia (see #4 below) as a natural sweetener instead of sugar, which lowers the calories significantly. Thank goodness it has a long refrigerated shelf life, I guess. Oh, and it mixes wonderfully with peppermint or coffee liquor. Intoxicatingly delicious and nutritious!

4) Truvia (0 points)
Splenda (et al.) is a lifesaver when you're dieting, but I've always had some concerns about the safety of artificial sweeteners. This has not curbed my consumption of diet pop, however, which I often use a way to feel 'full-ish' when I don't want to eat something and am running low on points. I've tried every kind of natural sweetener there is, and ended up sticking with stevia as a viable alternative to splenda. The problem is, some brands of stevia can be quite bitter and have the most awful aftertaste unless you're putting into something hearty and substantial like oatmeal. Truvia is different. Truvia is gooooooood. There's also plenty of information out there detailing how sugar alcohols (Truvia falls into this category) do not have the same health concerns as artificial sweeteners. Some people can have sensitivities to sugar alcohols (I can't go near maltitol without being doubled over in pain), but I've found Truvia to be just fine when used in moderation.

5) Yoplait Delights (2 points)

Yum. The chocolate raspberry flavour is my favourite, and this doesn't really taste like yogurt to me. It's more like a smooth, velvety dessert that is packed with flavour. This could easily pass as no-compromise dessert for me any night of the week.

We live close enough to the US border that we can do a quick grocery run in a day. I've got the method down pat, including how many coolers can fit into my car and where the best place is to get ice on my way back north. I feel a trip coming on very, very soon.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Annie: Very funny.

What song should come on my iPod's shuffle as I entered the 29th minute of my cycle this morning?

Nickelback's How You Remind Me, the refrain of which is "are we having fun yet?"


And, for the record, no.

But while I don't enjoy the exercise, I enjoy having exercised.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Annie: APP NEWS!!

Yes, those caps and exclamation marks are called for!

A few posts back, Mae talked about an excellent mobile app called iWatchr, which contains a points calculator, a food/points log and a weight tracker (and some other stuff, but these are the things I use). I use it all the time - I'm well known to wander up and down the food aisles in the grocery store, iPhone in hand, calculating whether or not to buy products.  (Someday, there'll be an app that uses the camera to scan product barcodes and list points values!).  I love it.  Weight Watchers doesn't have an app available in Canada yet, so until they do, this is my go-to app. For $0.99 in the iTunes store, I don't think you can go wrong.

At lunchtime, as I stood in the line at Tim Hortons wishing I'd checked Dotti's Weight Loss Zone for the points before going out, I pulled out my iPhone and went to the site using the browser.  And lo and behold, what did I find? There's a brand new Dotti's app!

If you didn't know about Dotti's site (note: link is to the Canadian Restaurant page, but you can connect back to the US restaurant page from there too), let me tell you a bit about it.  Dotti is a woman who lost more than a hundred pounds using Weight Watchers, and who has, together with her online collaborators, collected menus and nutritional information from loads of restaurants. The site is a bit busy, but it is full of great information and resources; you can look up restaurants by name, and it provides nutritional info and points values for their menu items.

She launched it about a month ago, and for this month only, is selling it for $2.99 in the iTunes store (it'll be $9.99 next month). I downloaded it immediately and was really impressed: when I called up Tim Hortons Canada (she offers points lists for both Canadian and US restaurants, even when they're international chains), it was organized by menu item type (donuts, bagels, muffins, sandwiches, beverages, etc.). It's well-organized and and easy to use; she says it contains all the information from her site.

If you are on WW and you tend to eat out, I'd highly recommend picking up the Dotti's app.

Annie: The value of meetings

The last time I was really on Weight Watchers (that is, the last time I stuck with it), meetings were a really important factor in my success.

I had started out just using a friend's Week One book (the one they give you when you first sign up, with the really helpful points list in the back for a limited number of foods), and when I was sure I was going to stick with the program (after about 3 weeks, I think), I went to a meeting, paid my membership fee, and became a regular participant.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really interested in the meetings; I expected there would be a lot of self-help blah blah, and I'm not that patient with that kind of thing -- I really just did it because I figured if I was using their program, I should pay for it.

But before long, I started really relying on those Saturday morning meetings. They were in a dingy motel basement, right under a greasy spoon that sold the most delicious-smelling breakfasts (I was fairly certain there wasn't a dish on the menu that didn't involve bacon) - you had to walk past it to get to the stairs, and it was torture for many of us, haha!

Our leader was a middle-aged woman who had an engaging personality (not over-the-top -- just a really, really nice person), and was always either positive or laughing at herself. Her lectures were 20 minutes or so - and while there were women in the audience who tried to use the meeting as a forum for public complaints about how it's everyone else in the world's fault they're fat, she kept it moving -- and I always came home happy I'd made the time to go.

It wasn't that I was learning the "secrets" at our meetings: much of what we covered was just common sense. (When it comes down to it, the whole thing is just common sense: burn more energy than you consume.)

But for me, the value was that it forced me to think about what I was doing. It wasn't about the accountability of standing on the scale every week -- but since I was always thinking about getting weighed on Saturday, I was planning when to eat more, when to eat less, etc. Then, at the meeting, I'd get my confidence and commitment recharged, and be ready for another week.

Nowadays, with Child in the picture and Husband's work schedule, committing to a specific meeting every week isn't feasible. I could find a meeting every week to attend, but I know that if it wasn't a consistent one, it would bug me how the weigh-ins weren't reflecting a real week's work each time, and I would never feel "at home" in any meeting, I don't think.

As I set out on this Thanksgiving Project, I wondered whether this would be like all the last 35 or so returns to trying to lose weight (in the time since I had the success on WW and then went back to my old ways), and I'd give up soon after starting.

But I'm coming to realize that this blog is my meeting now (don't worry: Weight Watchers is still getting paid: I'm addicted to the Online Tools, which will be the subject of a future post). It's where I report my success and what causes me to stay focused and think about what I'm doing. And thanks to Mae and commenters like the faithful Mo, I'm learning things along the way that will help me.

So if you're reading this, you're at my meeting. Welcome - and thanks!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Annie: Lessons learned

Things that make it easier to ride the stationary bike:
  • An iPod - and, specifically, upbeat music.  I never realized what a ballad person I was until I tried to exercise to my regular "shuffle" playlist!  In my spare time, haha, I will have to put together a bike playlist that will keep the energy level up. Recommendations for that list? Please post them in comments! It was unbelievable how much less painful the passage of time was with music. I'm thinking I may also download some podcasts to listen to on the bike, to see whether actually engaging my brain thinking about what's being said will help distract me from how sore my ass is from the damned bike seat, and how much I'd rather be doing just about anything else.
  • Doing it first thing in the morning. It required a lot more cursing than my normal getting-up routine does, but I think I had more energy than I would've had at the end of the day. Plus, Child was still in bed. Score!
  • Gloves. It sounds dumb, but it made a big difference when on top of everything else, I wasn't dealing with sore hands from the weight of my upper body bearing down on the handle grips. I guess because the trainer lifts the back wheel a bit, I ride sloping forward - my hands are still a little numb now, hours later.
Other things I learned this morning:
  • Hydrate first. Though I'm not a big drinker of water at all normally, and especially not first thing in the morning, I had to wonder whether my energy might have held out longer if I'd had something to drink before hopping on. Will test hypothesis and report back.
  • Leave lots of time to sweat. I was aiming for 30 minutes on the bike, so got up 45 minutes early, figuring I'd have 15 minutes to cool down before getting in the shower, getting Child up, etc etc etc to start the day. But after 15 minutes I was still sweating... 20 minutes... 25 minutes... finally I was out of time and had to get in the shower anyway, but kept sweating in and after the shower (only from my face, oddly enough, but that's where my makeup goes so it kind of matters). Tomorrow morning I'll give it at least an hour for both the ride and the cool-down.
I did make it to my full 30 minutes this morning, finally (yay!). And as a result, I started the day down 3 points! The banana I ate before work took up 2, so I'm still at -1 for the day. Now THAT's a good feeling!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annie: Restaurant panic!

Well if it seemed from my last post that I had the whole eating-out thing in the bag, I didn't.

Dinner last night was in a local pub. It had a fair number of healthy-sounding choices, so that wasn't the problem: it was figuring out what the hell I was actually ingesting.

Cooking at home is such a breeze, though I look like I'm conducting scientific experiments these days when I'm doing it. I'm weighing in metric and imperial (whatever the recipe writer pleases), I'm reading measurements from the bottom of the miniscus just like they taught me in high school chemistry, I'm trimming all visible fat, I'm following instructions TO THE LETTER.

In a restaurant? Meh.

I ordered a "Greek penne with chicken" - it was the only non-cream sauce pasta on the menu, and I thought likely a better choice than any of the sandwiches or, god help me, the fish and chips that were calling to me. (This was a pub, after all.) It was lovely - penne, chicken, tomatoes, feta, black olives, green and red peppers, onions, garlic, and a nice sauce that I can almost guarantee was chicken-stock based. It came with a side salad (out of which I ate the non-leafy vegetables: I hate those mixed salads that have something bitter in them), dressing on the side. Oh, and garlic toast, but Husband kindly took care of that for me.

Problem #1 was estimating how much pasta was actually in the bowl (I'm not bad with visual estimates, but the stakes are so high!), and then how much chicken. Problem #2? What else was in there that I hadn't seen? How much oil was used to saute the ingredients before they went in with the pasta? The chicken meat was white as can be. Had it been poached? (Do they even poach meat in pub kitchens?) Aaah. Stress!!

So I counted it straight-up as best I could guess, allowing for 3 tsp of oil... but who knows how close I was? I must have looked like a junkie needing a fix, wild-eyed, trying to calculate before digging in. But I wasn't jonesing for the food - it was for the measurements!

Eesh. It was delicious, but if I'm up at the scale next week, I'll be blaming the cook in that damned pub.

Mae: SetPOINTS: friend or foe?

Weight Watchers had a great summer promo on this past summer, and I joined in July for a set price that gave me 10 or 12 weeks (can't remember exactly) of meetings. The details are sketchy because I stopped attending after week four. I just wasn't feeling it, and in retrospect, it was probably the worst possible time for me to join given all that was going on (holidays, trips, etc).

At dinner last night, the Mister was asking me how many Points he would get if he were to, um, theoretically do the WW program. He's never really embraced it because it looked to him to be a lot of work. I also can't say that I blame him for not wanting to whip out a Points Calculator during a business lunch with the guys. However, given that I now have labelled practically everything in our kitchen with sticky note Points values, it really wouldn't be that hard for him to follow along. I think he thought he would just kinda sorta half-heartedly follow along at home and eat what I eat. When I pointed out that he has to eat more Points per day than me, he actually calculated his daily Point range and compared that to some of the eye-opening heavy hitters like a DQ Blizzard. I also showed him the iWatchr app for iPhone and he was even more interested; not a surprise when you consider what a true iPhone/tech nerd he is. Annie is the person who brought this little life-saver to my attention, so thank you Annie!

Anyway, back to the point. While explaining Points values to him, I flipped through the Week 1 book to show some common food Points values. I noticed that some foods had a Point value and then another higher value in parentheses. Huh?! There was a tiny note somewhere on the page saying that this would all be explained in Week FIVE. Argh! One more week of attendance would have provided an explanation of this thoroughly confusing number.

So I went searching for answers, and here's what I found: in a nutshell, SetPOINTS are standard, set values for food types (i.e. starches, protein, etc) that you can use when eating out, or at a special event, when you don't feel like trying to dissect the dish and count the points. The caveat here is that what you ate could have been higher or lower in Points if you were to calculate it out exactly, but with this method, you don't need to worry about weighing and pulling out the calculator. And like the old Core Program, you are only supposed to eat until you are full, and you count as many SetPOINTS category values as there are on your plate. Here's a good thread that discusses SetPOINTS (the last post, in particular) and another from a WW blog post.

Examples of SetPOINTS values:
Fruit without sugar: 2
Grains & starches: 6
Lean protein: 5

So if I were at a party and had mahi mahi (SP value: 5) with grilled vegetables (SP value: 0) and creamy garlic mashed potatoes (SP value: 6), and then some cake (SP value: 12), I would count that meal as 23 points. That was fast!

I'll admit that I found this all a bit bewildering at first, but I'm starting to see how this could be really useful. I wonder if there is a SetPOINT for sushi? : )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Annie: Week 1 weigh-in

Mae: wow!!!  To lose 5.2 in a week that prevented you from getting exercise or good sleep, and kept throwing tempting high-point food your way?  That has to give you confidence for the year ahead!!

For my part, I lost an even 5 lbs in week 1.  It's good - I'll never complain about a 5-lb loss - but it's not the 7 lbs I lost in the first week the first time I was on WW. How sad is it that a 5 lb loss can have a downside?

Today is a day of three "eating out" meals for me - alert, alert!

I ate with 40 people at the Pancake House for breakfast, and was astonished that for a restaurant with 6 pages of breakfast choices, there were extremely few that would be points-friendly. Basically, my breakfast choices boiled down to a fruit cup (with or without cottage cheese) or a "breakfast parfait" with yogurt, fruit, and granola. The fruit cup would be easy to count, but would satisfy me for approximately 6 minutes; the parfait would stick with me a bit longer, but the counting would be tough (I don't generally eat granola: the "like factor" to "points requirement" ratio is too low).

So I ordered from the lunch menu: bagel, light cream cheese, smoked salmon.  It did hold me over until lunchtime (when I had sushi - easy to stay in line there!), too.

For dinner I'm eating out with Husband (Child is at grandma's tonight), but I have something like 18 points left to play with, and shouldn't have too hard a time finding something within that. So points crisis averted! (So far, at least.)

No exercise tonight: I'll be back in the saddle (with the sore butt to prove it) tomorrow night.

Lost so far: 5
Still remaining: 95
Weeks to go: 51

Mae: Week 1 weigh-in

I've decided to make Monday mornings my weigh-in day. I think it's a good plan because it should help keep me honest on the weekends. I used to have a Friday weigh-in several years ago, and that spelled disaster. I was eventually not counting points on the weekend, and that resulted in a five day week on points instead of seven. I was also doing Body for Life (BFL) for a while and got into the nasty habit of having a pig-out day once a week (there is one 'free day' a week in the BFL program, and I decided to merge that with WW. This absolutely will not work unless you're following the BFL program exactly. Duh.). My results with BFL were pretty extraordinary, but I cannot maintain the very restrictive low-carb diet requirements.

It's been a pretty hectic first week, and work continues to proceed at a nutty pace. I also attended a conference that was replete with delicious food. However, I tracked all of my points and stayed within the guidelines. I also made it through a hockey game and a rather lavish party on the weekend without going over. I was starving, but it was worth it for the wine and finger food.

Unlike my friend Annie, I got absolutely no exercise this week. I'm also not doing very well on the sleep front (6.5 hours last night), so I clearly need to work on these two things. I am currently doing 1.5 hours of yoga a week, but missed it this past week because of conference commitments.

- 5.2

Points per day
With the weight lost in week one, I also lose one food point per day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Annie: Crutches

No, I'm not on crutches - I'm just realizing that I have crutches when I'm on points: foods and tools that I absolutely must have.

They are:

  • Weight Watchers' Take Out Tonight cookbook - my sister (a marathon runner who just eats sensibly all the time) and I have both used this book so much that our copies are falling apart. (They're also both splattered with ingredients.) We're yet to try a recipe from this book that wasn't tasty, filling, and low in points. In fact, my panic yesterday at the discovery that I'd lent this book to someone and now couldn't remember who had it, inspired this post. (Sister bailed me out by emailing me a recipe - I now have new copies on order for both myself and Mae!)

  • Slim-Fast Peanut Butter Crunch Time snack bars. These aren't the meal replacement bars - they're snack bars; I think they taste A LOT like Crispy Crunch, and they're 3 points.
  • Laughing Cow light cheeses - 1 point each wedge, or 2 points for 3. I take them for lunch with those huge Wasa or Ryvita crackers, and soup - very filling, you get a milk serving, and yummy.
  • Kettle brand Baked chips - HALF THE BAG is 5 points, and they taste like chips, not cardboard. The Aged Cheddar flavour is my fave, but they're all good.

If it seems as thought I'm a bit too focused on snack foods, it's because I am - that's part of what got me into this mess in the first place. But last time around, anyway, and anytime I've had partial success since, I've found it's because I've been able to integrate healthier choices into my snacking.

If I try to just give up snack foods cold turkey, or if I try to replace a salty or sweet treat at the end of the day with a healthy zero-point vegetable (or that godawful zero-point soup the WW evangelists are always pushing) I won't be satisfied, and I won't stick to the plan. Sure, it's mind over matter, and sure, I should be stronger than that. But I know myself, and if I want this thing to work, it has to work for me. So the snacks are in, damn the torpedoes!

I made it to 20 minutes on the bike last night before caving. Will have to check how many Milky Way Minis that would've been worth! Aiming for 25 tonight.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Annie: That research is shocking!

Mae, I had never heard that about how much more fat is burned on 8.5 hours' sleep - I wonder why they don't make a big deal of that at Weight Watchers? Holy mackerel.

And on that note, I'm going to bed. Child will be up before we know it.

My big victory today: I completed a full week at work without having taken a single elevator. :o)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mae: This post is brought to you by the letter Z

More specifically: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

According to the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who are sleep deprived (are there people who aren't?!) might have a much tougher time losing weight. Wuh? As if the dieting and exercise weren't challenging enough to integrate into the daily routine, dieters will now have less time in which to do it? Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can affect not only how much you lose, but what you lose. God help me.

If you prefer to read non-medical jargon, MedlinePlus has a good overview of this research:

Researchers found that the dieters lost the same amount of weight under both conditions -- just under 7 pounds, on average. But during the sleep-restricted period, they mainly lost muscle rather than fat.
When participants got 8.5 hours of sleep, more than half of their weight loss came from shedding fat; when they got 5.5 of sleep, only one-quarter of their weight loss came from fat -- translating to a 55 percent reduction in fat loss.
Instead, the majority of people's weight loss during the sleep-restricted period came from lean body tissue, which refers to muscle and any other body tissue that is not fat.

Sleepy people may also be hungrier throughout the day because sleep deprivation may trigger the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. While this study took place in a controlled environment and may not be strictly applied to a 'real world' environment, I think it is safe to say that there are more than a few reasons to get more sleep.

I've always thought of weight loss in terms of diet and exercise. Period. This new equation changes the game quite a bit, but it's probably time that I stop pushing the margins of my day to such extremes that  I sometimes struggle to put simple sentences together.

Mae: Let's try this again

I remember my first real attempt at dieting. I was about 12 years old and doing Weight Watchers, 80s style. Anyone who subjected themselves to the same misery will remember the endless weeks of tuna, cottage cheese, skim milk and rice cakes. Repeat. Not much has changed in the 23 years since.

Despite being a competitive swimmer for many, many years, I was always a big kid. My weight was was regularly assessed and discussed, primarily, by my grandmother. One day, I received a copy of  YM magazine in the mail, because Grandma decided that this would make a perfect birthday present. She also enrolled me in a self-improvement course for girls, with, I'm not kidding, an "instructor" named Barbie. In addition to educating us poor slobs on how to cross our legs and arrange a proper place setting, Barbie told us what our colours are (and which to avoid, at all costs!), and  how to select three key pieces of clothing that would get one through even the apocalypse in style. I learned (and was regularly told) that pretty girls looked like Sharon from the Young & the Restless. Blech.

Fast-forward to present day and I find myself weighing the most I have ever had. I've experienced ups and downs, and until 2005, was at a weight that I was really comfortable and happy with. However, I've recently crossed a threshold that I swore I never would. You see, I lost a significant amount of weight (nearly 70 pounds) between 2001-2002 on the Winning Points / Weight Watchers system. It was like a part-time job and it was a hell of a lot of work, but it did work. I'll admit that I'm mostly terrified about this project: where am I going to be in a year? Can I really do this again? But there's much more than vanity at stake now: I don't sleep or move the same as I used to, and a day of shopping leaves my feet and knees in a hot mess. Quite frankly, I can't afford to do this. Plus it's way better when you do it with a friend.

So...let's try this again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Annie: This is going to be harder than I thought.

Last time around, I was young and carefree, like Mae over there. Haha.

It may only have been seven years ago, but it was a long seven years. The most important change, other than my body's clearly having aged:


Last time around, I had a very busy professional life, but my leisure time was my own. Husband was very supportive (and frankly, worked shifts, so wasn't around half the time anyway), and I was able to exercise whenever I wanted to.

Now, though, there's Child. Child is four years old, and very busy. And inquisitive, and smart. And prone to doing dangerous things (like jumping off high things) if not supervised and ordered not to do dangerous things. Specifically, each time the mood hits.

Which leads to my current challenge: how to get my exercise time in with Child around? Husband still works shifts, so when he's not around, I'm a single Mom: which means if I want to get in my exercise after work and before 8pm (which I prefer because I sleep so terribly), I have to do it with Child around.

Take tonight. Tonight was the night I was going to do my first (of four this week, remember) 30-minute stint on my bicycle, which Husband set up on a trainer for me in the basement. I had set Child up with SpongeBob (I know, my how-to-be-a-terrible-parent blog is coming soon), and had logged, oh, maybe 3 minutes.

"Mommy!  Mommy!"


"I want to come downstairs with you."

"OK, come down, but please play with your train set."




"Where are my train cars?"

"They're in the box."

"But I don't see them..."

This continues for another, oh, 10 minutes.  I am, at this point, on the verge of tears. Then,

"Mommy? I have to go poop."

Child is able to poop alone - but tonight, can't remember how to turn on the light in the bathroom (the same one Child enjoys turning off when I'm in there).

So I ended up getting off my bike three times before packing it in (once to turn on the bathroom light for the poop, once to wipe Child after said poop, and once because Child had wandered into the laundry room and wasn't responding to my calls to come back out into sight).

Total time on the bike: I'd love to say 20 minutes, but it was probably more like 15.  The good news, which is actually quite awful news, is that in that interrupted 15 minutes I managed to work up a full sweat, and get to the point where I couldn't say more than a couple of words.

Seriously: 15 minutes. God, this is going to be long.

362 days to do.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Annie: Sleep clinic

Yes, I'm still here. I returned to points today, but didn't get my exercise started - by the time Child was settled in bed (to stay, that is), it was well past 9pm and I didn't want to get endorphins pumping right before bed.  If that sounds like an excuse it probably is; I'll try to be better organized tomorrow.

I went to a sleep clinic today because I've been suspecting I have sleep apnea for some time. It runs in families and I'm fairly certain my father has it (as is anyone who's ever tried to watch TV with him, I'd wager), but being overweight is a contributing factor. I'm always exhausted, but can never sleep through the night, so am hoping tonight's little medical adventure will deliver some answers for me.

I have a contraption to wear tonight, with 4 leads plugged into a machine on  my bedside table; they'll measure my breathing, when (if) I stop breathing at any point, my snoring (how delicate and ladylike it is), and something else I can't remember. I drop off the machine in the morning, so they can dump the info and plot my sleep patterns - provided I'm able to sleep at all with wires stuck all over my upper body.  But it's this or spend the night in the hospital for observation, which I'm fairly certain wouldn't yield much sleep either. (I hate hospitals.)

I have been reading lately, though, that in addition to all the other health benefits of getting a good night's sleep, it can help you with weight loss. Apparently your body processes food more efficiently if it has sufficient repair time, which makes sense even to an artsy like me.

So... maybe the weight contributes to the sleep apnea, and maybe treating the sleep apnea will help with the loss of the weight. Or maybe I'll lose weight before the medical system gets around to treating the sleep apnea (if I even have it), making this whole exercise futile.

Oh well, at least I feel like I'm doing something.

Food discovery:

Fiber One yogurt, which my friend brought back to me from America. (On a side note: why do Americans have access to diet food that is so much superior to what we get?) It was delicious, it was a milk serving, and it was ZERO points.  Thinking I may be making a day's run across the border one of these weekends to stock up - will have to start making my American grocery shopping list.

Also on that list, for when there's a point left at the end of the day and sugar is calling my name: Milky Way Minis - only one point each!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Annie: Well, this is it.

Day 1 is over, and I'm here. Yay?

Though I ate sensibly, I didn't count points today - still coming to grips with what was (I have to say) a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and a delicious post-Thanksgiving dinner: hot turkey sandwiches the next day have always been, for me, just as much a centre of focus as the original turkey dinner.  I made my best-ever gravy this year, which meant I also made my best-ever hot sandwiches this year; but now, they're all behind me and the Thanksgiving Project has begun.

I weighed myself this morning, so have my benchmark. Intend to have Husband take a "before" picture of me, which I'll post here too - later this week. If I post a new picture every 20 lbs, how long will it take to really see a difference? My bet is 3 pictures.

My plan for this project: find out whether I can lose 100 lbs in one year. In theory, it should be do-able: they say 2 lbs/week is reasonable, so in 52 weeks I should be able to lose 104. (For the record, that would still have me above a "healthy" BMI, but I think BMI is made for people with teeny skeletons, which I have not, so that's the last you'll hear of that on my half of this blog.) My plan includes:
  • My umpteeth return to Weight Watchers: I lost 70 lbs on their "Winning Points" program (i.e. about 4 generations of the program ago) somewhere around 2003. I always say I'm Weight Watchers' worst nightmare, because I'm the fat girl who's always telling people how that program works. (It does work - you just have to stick with it, which I clearly did not.)  Since the "Winning Points" program worked for me last time, that's what I'm doing again this time - so while I'm using the online tools for counting points, my program won't work exactly to the website's formula. No worries, though, as long as I can count, I'll be fine.
  • Exercise 4x/week. I have bad knees, so have decided to stay away from high-impact activities until I've lost some weight to begin with - I figure my odds are better in the long term if I do what I can to protect them. Once the knees have less weight to support, I'll (I hope) do less damage to them with impact activities. So for now, it's my bicycle set up on a trainer in the basement: four nights, 30 min/each to start.
  • Supporting, and being supported by, my friend over here. God help us both.
Points begin tomorrow, as does the exercise routine. 364 days to go.