Today’s assignment was curious: make a conscious decision to make a “mistake” with a food choice. In other words, eat something that’s a little evil. Pay close attention to how you feel, both mentally and physically, and then understand that you are not your food journal — the food journal is nothing but data, neither good or bad, and therefore outside of judgment no matter what ends up on the list.

Because I’m such an over-achiever, I had made it “mistake day” even before I knew I was supposed to.  It started with my normal Wednesday morning breakfast sandwich, but then I got to the office and found homemade apple cake and snickerdoodle cookies.  I couldn’t resist.  I made it through the Halloween cupcakes from two days ago and the homemade coffeecake from yesterday, but I wasn’t able to resist a third day of this all-out assault.

I got back to my desk, inhaled the sweets (you know, because I figured I could get rid of the evidence) and then read the assignment for the day, telling me about “mistake day”.  I thought to myself, “Nailed it!”. 

So I did the rest of the assignment, writing down what I ate and how I was feeling about it.  And you know what? Physically I felt awful.  I had eaten too fast and eaten too much and was feeling uncomfortably full and bloat-y. And you know what else?  In the past, this would have been how I normally would have eaten.  In fact, I probably would have gone back for more cookies (the cake was only okay — I shouldn’t have finished it — but the cookies were awesome).  I’m not sure if I used to always feel this miserable, or if I’m just more sensitive to it now?

Mentally, there was a moment of feeling like I was getting away with something — like getting free food was some sort of coup. On the heels of that, though, was the feeling that I should have been stronger, should have left it there — I know that doesn’t support my long term goals.  And on the heels of THAT was the guilt knowing that someone else would be looking at my logs and questioning my commitment to the program.

All that in a matter of minutes.  Amazing, isn’t it?

It’s not like I’ve never figured out the link between eating crap food and feeling crappy — been there, done that, as have most people.  This was a good experiment, though — being told to carefully identify what I was feeling and write it down was valuable. Like a lot of this program, the “aha!” moment was in the Monday morning quarterbacking of the situation. So the lesson here: I have to hold on to the feeling of how utterly miserable (mentally, physically, emotionally) I felt after eating the goodies.  It won’t always work, but at least some of the time that memory should deter me from eating something I shouldn’t. Right? 

Pretty straightforward — for the next two weeks, I need to record what I’m eating.  Seems simple enough, right?

I have to say, I’m a little apprehensive about this habit.  In the past, I have always been very successful at losing weight when I log all of my food and recorded every calorie.  The problem was that I was very UNsuccessful once I stopped doing it — without that governor in place, I was a mess.  One of the parts of Lean Eating that attracted me was the promise of being able to eat without worrying about counting calories; the idea of learning how to eat and live in a healthy manner that would keep me at an ideal weight without tracking sounds pretty dang awesome to me.

This is the detox salad that I
mentioned in another post. And Clarke.
And Belle.  Completely zonked out.

So since I can’t use my normal method for recording what I eat, I’m working out how to follow the habit while not making myself all type-A and crazy about it.  I’ve decided to try Evernote Food — I’m an Evernote evangelist already, so I thought this might be a non-count-y kind of way to track what I’m eating.  And plus, it gives me yet another opportunity to show off my pups, right?

Coach V. said that we should think of this strictly feedback, not judgment on whether or not that cupcake I just ate should be in my diet.  And in fact, at some point she’ll be looking over the logs to get an idea of what I’m eating.  I will say one thing:  the fact that someone is going to be looking at what I’m eating makes a huge difference.  The cupcake I just mentioned? Yea, I actually didn’t have one because I knew I’d have to report it.  Seriously. They even had Halloween decorations on top and I refrained.

It all kind of goes back to wanting people to think the best of me, I suppose. And it worries me that I’ll behave better due to external accountability rather than internal accountability.  What happens when the support goes away?

Anyway – we’ll see how this goes. And I’m going to keep the deep questions at bay for awhile because they kind of make my brain hurt a little and it’s Monday so I don’t need any more hurt.  Another time, I promise, okay?

Not only is it the end of week 14, but it’s the end of Phase 3 — about a quarter of the way through the program and time for skinfold measurements as well as photos and weight and tape measurements.  The numbers are all in the books, for better or worse, but I still find it hard to believe that I’m this far into it.

I’ve got my turkey in the oven — I’m really hoping this turns into awesome jerky because it’s easy and so much cheaper than buying it already made.  So far it’s looking like it’s working, at least.

So, with the end of a phase here, for your reading pleasure it’s an expanded recap:

Let’s run the numbers…

  • I’ve lost 5.8 pounds from the beginning of the program, 8 pounds if you go from the highest weight I’ve been during the past 3 months — I gained a little over two pounds the first few weeks of Lean Eating.
  • I’ve lost 10.4″ in total.  A little over 2″ from my chest (I’m looking forward to my sports bras not feeling like painfully tight corsets!), 2″ from my waist and 2.5″ from my hips.  Not too shabby.
  • And I’m down 30.1mm in total skinfold measurements, which equates to about a 4% drop in body fat.
So – I’m pretty pleased with my progress, especially since the first few weeks went in the wrong direction.  I feel like I’m on a roll and I just need to keep making good decisions — and a lot of anecdotal evidence shows that people start making huge gains (well, losses, I suppose) after about 3 months.  Bring it on!

Still kicking butt in this regard.  I’m pushing heavier weights, the core workouts aren’t as awful as they used to be (who am I kidding, of course they are) and I’m starting to feel stronger and more in charge of my own body.  With the weather turning cold I haven’t been running as much as I want to, but I’ll get back into that.  I just need to overcome the mental block of being cold for the first part of the run — I hate that part and it keeps me from heading outside even though once I get going I enjoy running in the cold much more than the heat.

A look at my accumulated
green checkmarks!
The last two weeks have been planning meals and I’ve done a pretty good job at this.  I like being in control and this fits perfectly with my personality — not only that, but the whole habit is an easy way for me to earn my gold stars (okay, green checkmarks) and that’s a huge positive reinforcement for me.

End of Quarter Thoughts:
This process has been much more of a mental overhaul rather than strictly just changing my eating/workout habits.  The cornerstone habits — eat slowly and eat only to 80% full — have fundamentally changed the way I think about meals.  It’s rare that I eat to the point of feeling sick — it’s been a matter of learning to listen to my body and taking a moment before eating and asking myself whether I’m actually hungry or just bored/emotional/cranky.

All in all, the program has been a good thing.  The information isn’t anything I didn’t already know, but it’s forcing me to do the mental work needed to really make lifestyle changes that will stick around long past the year end of the program.

Habit Log:

Weeks 1-2: Fish oil and probiotic
Weeks 3-4: Eating slowly
Weeks 5-6: Stop eating at 80% full
Weeks 7-8: Lean protein with every meal
Weeks 9-10: 5 servings of vegetables a day
Weeks 11-12: Make smart carb choices

Weeks 13-14: Plan Meals

Right now I’m sitting in my comfy chair, computer on my lap, one dog completely zonked out on the ottoman at my feet and the other in her cage because she’s being a jerk.

Like the rest of the 9-5 workforce, I always look forward to the weekend.  Who wouldn’t? But today was just a day.  I wasn’t nearly as productive as I needed to be and wasted a bunch of time playing Candy Crush (I’m now on level 50 and am refusing to pay anything to play more).  The bulk of the day was a bit of a disappointment, actually.

Not only that, but I really ate like crap today.  Sometimes I feel like once I get my measurements and such done on Saturday morning, then it’s time to “reward” myself — though I’m not sure how eating poorly is a reward.

I did spend a few hours at the hospital, which was good.  My grandma was more alert than she has been since this whole thing started and I appreciated knowing that she recognized that I was there.

(Belle’s whining.  Can someone make her stop?)

I didn’t get a chance to do the turkey jerky.  I got out and did my grocery shopping this morning, so I’m set to try it out tomorrow.  With it having to be in the oven perhaps as long as 10 hours, I didn’t have a long enough block of time today to get it started.

Skinfold measurements were done yesterday, regular measurements and photos this morning.  Overall, this was a positive experience.  More details tomorrow in my weekly wrap-up.

And now — time for bed.  Time to get Belle out of her cage and somehow keep her from bugging the snot out of Clarke.  Time to sleep because I didn’t sleep all that well last night. So, good night, good sleep and see you tomorrow.

I’ve been waiting for the colder weather to try making my own turkey jerky — having the oven on for 6-10 hours isn’t ideal when it’s 80 degrees outside, right?

I’m pretty well hooked on Trader Joe’s turkey/beef jerky — so, so good but at $6 for a bag that I can eat in one sitting, kind of expensive so I figured I’d try making it myself.  I mean, how hard can it be, right?

I found this recipe on Mark’s Daily Apple (lots of good information here even though I don’t subscribe wholeheartedly to the Paleo/Primal way of life) and it’s on my agenda to make it this weekend.

And making it myself, I know that there isn’t anything added that doesn’t need to be added, and it’s all healthy and such.  A great protein snack!

And look at this, doesn’t it look awesome?

An action shot of the turkey dehydrating

I’ll report back on how it turns out!  I’m hoping it’s as good as the blog post says it is…

Update 10/27/2013:

Well, the verdict is an optimistic thumbs up.


My finished product was good, not phenomenal … but I think I can do better.  I want to do this again and slice it a little thicker (the thin slices end up being more crunchy than chewy) and play around with the spices and/or try a marinade.  That said, it’s not like I’m throwing out what I made — I’ll enjoy it and am looking forward to experimenting with the recipe.

My finished product… yum!

One of the lessons this past week introduced the idea of The 3 S’s to success (see what I did there in the post title? Tricky, tricky…):  Structure, Systems, Scheduling.

Structure:  this is all about setting up my environment so that it’s easier to be successful.  It’s having a pantry and refrigerator full of healthy food, leaving the cookies and ice cream at the grocery store where they belong.  It’s making sure that my basement gym is stocked with the equipment I need to do my workouts.  It’s taking the cell phone away from the dogs so they don’t go ordering pizza like they do when they get the munchies late at night.  I want to make sure that everything around me supports my goals.

Systems:  let’s talk processes!  What do I need to do to ensure my success?  For me, I know that my nutrition success depends on doing food prep on the weekend.  I know myself well enough to understand that even if I did end up with down time during the week, the last thing I’m going to do with it is stand in the kitchen and chop and cook stuff for later.  I’ve stopped trying to change that about myself because I know that relaxing is a bigger priority for me.  My process for workouts?  I try to not allow myself to sit down when I get home.  Walk in the door, keep the dogs caged, change into workout clothes and get it done.  The couch will suck me in if given half a chance.

Scheduling:  pretty self explanatory, yes?  And this so important — I knew it before and now have an even deeper appreciation for it.  I don’t worry so much about workouts — those usually lay themselves out without me trying too hard (that’s the advantage of being single with no kids!).  But meals need to be planned, otherwise I end up eating chips and guacamole for dinner.  I’ve done a much better job at that this week — a big batch of salad has been a light, easy, already-made dinner for me.  And it’s a lot less stressful — since I already have enough stress going on right now — to not to have to think and decide what I’m going to eat.

I have to say, I don’t always agree with everything the LE assignments have to say, but this one is absolutely spot-on for me.  And it’s like these lessons are sometimes a little psychic — this was just what I needed to read this week. Success shouldn’t be a matter of willpower, instead it should be doing a lot of little things that help in making the healthy decisions easy when the time comes.

Things have been a little crazy around these parts with my Grandma in the hospital and all that, but prepare to be amazed:  I did some planning, did some food prepping, scheduled out some workouts and STUCK TO IT.  Whodda thunk it?

I knew that time would be tight yesterday, and so I came home and did my strength workout right away.  And then, knowing that I’d be working late on Wednesday, even did an interval session afterwards, effectively getting two workouts ticked off my to-do list.  Go, me!

Then I headed to the hospital and hung out there for a few hours; by the time I got home, I was starving.  So, what did I do?  Order a pizza?  Buy a gallon of ice cream?  No! I ate the salad that I had prepared over the weekend for dinner.  BOOYAH!  (<— is that how you spell that??)

Not having to think or make decisions really works for me, apparently.  And it felt good to know that I did the right stuff and was responsible and all that.  For the first time in awhile, I’m ahead of my workouts and am not freaking out about what to eat.  And after last week, this is a very welcome change of scenery for me.  Sometimes, just the right amount of stress seems to work in my favor.

I’m planning out the whole week but focusing on one day at a time.  Here’s to a good, heathy rest of the week!

What I feel like doing all day…

It’s been a tough week.  Along with the general I-don’t-care-itis that I’ve been feeling, my grandma was admitted to the hospital Friday night.  I was at the hospital all Friday evening, and then most of the day yesterday.  She’s 92 and has been wanting to let go of this life and move on to the next one for quite awhile now, so we’re keeping her comfortable, but otherwise just waiting for the inevitable.  For her sake, we hope that it comes sooner rather than later.

Despite that, I’m taking a break from the hospital today to get all my normal weekend stuff done:  laundry, grocery shopping and food prep.  I’m making a healthier version of chicken and dumplings and I put together a new salad to keep me in vegetables for the week.  So no matter what happens, I shouldn’t have any excuses not to eat well.

The round-up for the week:

Almost no change from last week:  the scale said exactly the same thing and measurements went down 0.2″.  For how I ate and how little I worked out, this is okay with me.  I need to do better this coming week, though.  Next weekend is a milestone check-in — skinfold measurements and photos.  I haven’t done skinfold measurements since I started, so I’m curious to see how those numbers come out.

I’ve missed my first workout — I’ll be one interval workout shy of completing things for this week.  Circumstances were not in my favor, though it’s (another) lesson learned about why I shouldn’t put off things.  I figured I’d have more than enough time to make up training on the weekend, but that certainly hasn’t proved to be the case. Because I never know what’s going to happen to my schedule, I should make an effort to get workouts in when I can rather than when I feel like it.

Meal planning is going pretty well.  I still struggle a little with weekday dinners, but that’s starting to get better.  In one of my video meetings with my Lean Eating crew, they suggested making a big pot of soup or chili on the weekend and then, instead of eating it, just portion into single servings and use those as my dinners.  I’ll eat healthy and won’t be creating more leftovers when I most likely already have more than enough in the refrigerator.

Habit Log:
Weeks 1-2: Fish oil and probiotic
Weeks 3-4: Eating slowly
Weeks 5-6: Stop eating at 80% full
Weeks 7-8: Lean protein with every meal
Weeks 9-10: 5 servings of vegetables a day
Weeks 11-12: Make smart carb choices

Week 13:  Plan Meals

I hate it when things are hard.  I want to WANT to workout.  And this week I’m just not feeling it (yea, I’m still whining).

Got my strength workout in this afternoon — had a session with my roommate personal trainer — but then opted not to do anything afterwards.  I had a headache from work and was tired and crabby — one of those days where I wanted to just sink into the couch and ignore the rest of the world (except maybe the dogs) (because they’re really cute) (and like to snuggle with me).

I could blame it on work being extra-tiring and stressful this week, but that’s kind of a cop-out.  It’s not like this kind of week is completely unheard of in my life (though, work life generally isn’t a huge source of stress) and at some point I need to learn how to be healthy even when life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  And remember that whole spiel about how exercise helps stress and mood?  Um, yea.

That’s all for now.  Gotta figure out how to dig deep down and find my mojo again. It’s there — that I’m sure of — but just covered in yawns and headaches at the moment.  So, I’ll leave you with a good night, enjoy your evening and I’ll be back tomorrow, better than ever.

This has felt like a really lazy week for me; I haven’t been good about getting my workouts in, to be honest.

Monday was difficult because of a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, Tuesday I got my strength training in, but no interval run because it was raining, and today was my late shift work day (8:30am-5pm) and by the time I picked up the dogs from doggie day care and got home I was starving and exhausted.

Excuses, excuses, excuses.  I know. I KNOW!

Monday I should have done something in the evening, and today I should have gotten up earlier than I did (the bed was so warm and the house was so cold, though!). I know it’s okay to miss a workout now and then, but I panic a little when it starts happening a couple of days in a row because it’s so easy to slip back into doing absolutely nothing but sitting on the couch from the time I get home to the time I go to bed (I’ve got mad skillz in this arena…).

The other day, I was talking to a co-worker who was asking about my workout routine.  I told her that I did strength training 3 days a week, an interval workout 2 days a week and usually got a run in on the 6th day.  She was honestly impressed and amazed that I worked out so often — it was nice for her to say, but the compliment made me a little uncomfortable because it seemed so undeserved.

First, my triathlon background gives me a baseline standard of about 8-10 hours of training a week (which is probably ridiculous to most people).  That’s about average for my triathlon friends and the 4 hours or so that I put in seems a little weak, ya know (since I’m no longer a triathlete, I suppose I no longer need to adhere to these standards…)?

Second, it occurred to me that training (basically) every day is the only way for me to be successful.  If I say I’m going to work out 4 days a week, it’s easy to go from Monday until Thursday saying “I’ll get it done tomorrow”.  And even after that, it’s easy to say, “Well, I’ll just do 3 workouts this week”.  It’s my need for all or nothing.  It’s better for me not to have a choice about it.

And see what happens when I try to introduce choice and flexibility to my workouts?  I start skipping them.  Baaaad Laura.  

I sound whiny today, don’t I?

Anyway – strength workout scheduled for tomorrow.  Maybe a run afterwards, depending on the weather.  That’s the set-in-stone plan.

PS:  I ended up stealing my roommate’s chopped chicken salad for dinner tonight… YUM.