Right now it’s Saturday night, and my class finished a bit early — a nod to the fact that this is the weekend.  The class has been good, but utterly exhausting.  It’s like Groundhog Day; every morning, the same thing.  Only three more days and I’ll be done with it, though.  After that, all I’ll have to do is schedule and pass three certification exams.  Piece o’ cake. Or perhaps piece o’ lean protein?

Poor Clarke.  Tail-less and wearing the Cone of Shame.

It’s been an otherwise drama-filled week.  My one neurotic dog decided to (once again) chew a hole in his tail, and this time he didn’t fool around — he did a lot of damage.  I ended up having to get his tail amputated because the vet was fairly certain that it wasn’t going to heal — apparently the distal end of the tail was ice cold already.  Yes, it’s been a helluva week. Thank God for my roommate who really stepped in a helped out a bunch.

So, while I have a few minutes, the update for the week:

Measurements
Despite the stress and weird schedule, I’m down a little.  This makes me happy. I haven’t necessarily stayed true to my nutrition goals 100%, but I also never went overboard when I was stress-eating. This was trial by fire, and I think I did okay this time around.

Workouts
Class starts at 7am, and all but one day I got up early and fit my workout in before hitting the books.  This also makes me happy.  I knew that if it wasn’t done first thing, it wouldn’t get done at all, and so I simply made the decision that it was important to me.

Habits
A little more, a little better — this whole week has been a test of this.  And I’d say that I’ve been doing pretty well. It helps to have this habit in the back of my head keeping me honest.

Intermittent Fasting (IF)
Been pretty good at keeping to this.  It helps that I’m not done with class until 7pm and by 8pm I’m headed to bed because I’m so freakin’ tired.

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
Weeks 15-16: Log all food
Weeks 17-18: Create a sleep ritual
Weeks 19-20: Drink only zero calorie beverages
Weeks 21-22: Use targeted recovery strategies
Weeks 23-24: Eat only whole foods
Week 25: No new habits (work on the previous ones)
Weeks 26-27: A little more, a little better

We interrupt this blog to give you 9 days of probably close to nothing.

In my real life, I’m an I.T. professional and starting today, I’m taking a Microsoft class on Server 2012 for the next 9 days.  But not just a class — an intense, bootcamp-style class (without the cardio or fun strength training).  Saturday and Sunday don’t even offer a break from the 12 hour days.

In preparation for this, I made a bunch of food so that I could easily stay on track with my nutrition (if I so choose to).  Historically, these classes cause me to eat eat eat — as I’m working away, or trying to stay awake during lectures, I always want something to munch on.  I’ve got veggie choices for these snack attacks, and not too much in the way of junk food in the house, so I’m hoping that this doesn’t end up being a bad week.

So, posting will be light until I’m done with this special week and a half of hell.  I’m making a commitment to getting up early to get workouts in, and as long as the weather is okay, I’ll walk the dogs a little longer twice a day because I’ll need a break.  But I won’t have time for much more than that.  It’s an exhausting 7am-7pm work day.  Lovely.

Don’t miss me too much!

“Weight-Loss HotPants” … who knew that weight
loss only required the correct apparel?

Another week bites the dust.  Since the new year, things have been rolling along pretty well here in my little corner of the earth… and progress oftentimes begets more progress. I’ve been finding that my mindset has been fairly positive — and on the days when it’s not, or when I find myself wanting to chuck the whole damn program, I’ve been able to allow myself to acknowledge the feeling and understand that it’ll most likely pass with a good night’s sleep when I’m not so cranky.

Really, it’s the living day-to-day that I’m trying to learn.  I know I sound like a broken record, but by the time I’m done with my Lean Eating year, I don’t want to have a program that I can use, I want to have built a lifestyle that I can easily live for the rest of my life.

And now, I’ll stop waxing poetic and run the numbers:

Measurements:
Only good news here, once again.  The addition of the Withings wi-fi scale to the mix has helped kick things back into gear again for me.  See, for a very long time, I’ve always done my personal weigh-in’s on Friday.  So, I want to have a good number then.  Lean Eating has me weighing in on Saturdays — so, no cheating Friday night.  And the Withings website goes by a calendar week that ends on Sunday — so if I want to hit my weekly goal, I can’t go crazy on Saturday, either.  And so now the weekends, when I used to gain back most of the weight that I lost over the week, are now just like every other day.  

Workouts
A decent week for me.  Things got off track immediately with the migraine on Monday, but I rallied back as the week went on, and I ended this week with two days of awesome training.  Feels good.

Habits
A little more, a little better is the phrase for this two week period and I’ve been trying to take it to heart.  I’m working on habits that, if I can successfully master them, will be the foundation of the rest of my life (not much hyperbole here, eh?).  Top of the list has been eating slowly, and while this one still proves to be difficult for me, being mindful of it has been helpful.

Intermittent Fasting
Yup, still doing it.  I’m telling you, this has been the change that’s made the most impact for me.  Simply by limiting the hours that I’m eating to 8-10 hours a day, it’s been easier to stay away from the crap food and drop some of the weight.

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
Weeks 15-16: Log all food
Weeks 17-18: Create a sleep ritual
Weeks 19-20: Drink only zero calorie beverages
Weeks 21-22: Use targeted recovery strategies
Weeks 23-24: Eat only whole foods
Week 25: No new habits (work on the previous ones)

Week 26:  A little more, a little better

Yea, I got a new toy to play with … it’s a scale!  WOOT! 

(no one has ever accused me of being normal)

Okay, it’s more than just a scale — it’s the Withings Smart Body Analyzer scale and it’s really cool.  It’s all sleek and modern looking and it talks to my computer (well, technically, it talks to my network, but I won’t bore you with details) and reports my weight, heart rate and other fun stuff every time I step on it.

And then I can see my stats in beautiful graphs online (and on the Android app, of course). And seriously, folks — the website that Withings has is pretty dang good.  I’m a fan.

I didn’t buy a wi-fi enabled scale for a long time because it seemed to be overkill — I mean, it’s not like I lack the brain cells to weigh myself in the morning and then remember that number until I get in front of a computer.  But, what I found was that on days when I weighed myself and I didn’t like the number it spat back at me?  I wouldn’t record it. I’d only record the weights where it was lower than the last time I recorded it.

This scale keeps me honest.  It’s virtual accountability because somehow it makes a difference to me when I see the graph of my weight every day. And when the graph goes up, it makes me want to make choices to cause that number to go down.  I’m not getting fixated on what the scale tells me (there are better ways to measure progress), but knowing that the feedback is out there really does prod me into making better choices.

I’ve had it for about two weeks now and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet — it still might — but the Withings web site keeps me coming back.  It breaks down all the stats and keeps track of your main goal and then breaks it out into weekly goals. It’s one thing to say “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by summer” and another thing for an app/website to remind you each week what you’re trying to accomplish, telling you how far you have to go, congratulate you when you hit your goal and even moving your end date around, depending on your progress.

And another upside to it — it also integrates with a number of other websites, like Fitbit.com and MyFitnessPal.com.  And that integration is another form of accountability — with it also posting results to MFP, I know that my pals over there are going to see it! Pressure!  

And I like all that. I think it’s been a good investment so far and if it keeps pushing me to do better (like the new habit this week:  a little more, a little better), then it’s worth the money.

So…

Pros:  automatically updates via wi-fi after weigh-in, Withings website is impressive at presenting data and managing goals (especially since I also have the Pulse to feed data into it), virtual accountability via updates to other affiliated websites, is at least as accurate as my last scale (for a week, they were always within .5 pounds of each other)

Cons:  surface could possibly become marred if harsh cleaning chemicals are used on it, when I tried to use it on carpet (using the add-on feet made for that purpose), the scale calculated my weight as 30 pounds lighter (which, sure, is awesome, but unfortunately not correct)


I’m only a day late (but not a dollar short).  Yesterday was completely swallowed up by a pretty fierce migraine headache — for the first time in awhile, meds didn’t help and it was quite a ride before it was over.  Today I’ve got the after-headache headache (which is like the after-party party except without the fun … it’s actually more like the after-party party hangover), but I’m mostly recovered.

Onto the matter at hand — the new habit!  In the spirit of Lean Eating trying to launch us from the nest and get us thinking on our own, we are supposed to concentrate on picking a habit and then doing “A little more, a little better”.  So, if I usually eat 3 servings of vegetables a day, I might focus on getting the full 5 servings.  Or if I don’t get enough sleep, I could choose to make sure to get to bed earlier.  And I can pick a different habit every day or pick just one and stick with it. It’s all in the effort to more consistently follow the guidelines that will lead me to a healthy lifestyle.

I like this one.  Like last week, which was “do anything you want” week, it plays into getting me to think more about real life. I need to figure out how these Lean Eating tenets will form a solid foundation that will allow me to live and eat and play without even thinking about it.  Work on the habits until they become (duh) habitual.

There are a few I’m going to concentrate on.  First — eating slowly.  I only sporadically pay attention to this one, and it’s all too easy to sit down with a full plate of food and then POOF! it’s gone. How’d that happen? Just taking my time and, you know, tasting my food helps me make better decisions about my hunger level.

Second, I’m going to go back and do the food recording.  That habit happened during the week where my grandma’s health failed and she passed away, so I didn’t really do it the right way.  I’m not worrying about calories at all, but just keep track of everything that goes in my mouth so I can get a true picture of what could be improved.

Third — and this is the habit/practice that is possibly the most critical — simply be mindful.  Don’t shut my brain off when I’m shopping and I want cookies.  Just think about it. Do I really want the cookies?  Or, more to the point, do I really want the setback that those cookies represent (because you know I’m not just having a few, I’m eating the whole box)?  MINDFUL.  That’s the key to everything.

Before the snow and cold got too bad,
Belle got to play a little fetch (her favorite thing!)

What an absolutely crazy weather week.  Last Sunday dumped a (metaphorical) ton of snow on us.  The high temperature on Monday and Tuesday was well below zero (with windchills around -40*F), and then by Thursday it’s raining.  While rain isn’t my favorite, I’ll say that I definitely like it more than the 18″ of snow plus dangerous cold. Both Belle and Clarke totally agree with me.

It’s been a good, positive week around these parts for me.  I’m starting to feel like this is all starting to click into place.  As much as I hate to admit it, I think the lesson about the photo shoot pushed me to really consider what I was doing and why and how I needed to finish this out.

Another geek-like purchase:  I got a wifi-enabled scale.  Right now I weigh myself close to every day, but only record it when it’s good.  This way, every time I’m on the scale, it gets sent online for me to look at.  I think this is going to keep me more accountable on the weekends, which is when I tend to “cheat” because my weekly measurements are out of the way and I’ve got 7 days before I have to do it again.  Perhaps I’ll review it here later this week.

And anyway, enough chit chat…

Measurements
Only good news here.  My weight is down far enough that I’ve officially lost 10+ pounds since I started.  WaHOOOOOO! The number on the scale isn’t the only metric I care about, but it’s where I’ll see the most immediate progress.  Measurements were about the same as last week.

Workouts
This was a “do whatever you like” week.  Work out hard, do the same workouts, relax and do nothing at all … up to me.  I trained every day except Friday (and I doubled up on Saturday to make up for the skipped Friday).  I strength-trained three times and did cardio the other days — felt good.

Intermittent Fasting
This is back on track and feeling good.  Because of my schedule and a marathon dog training session last night that lasted until my bedtime, I didn’t have dinner and ended up fasting for 21 hours (and doing my morning workout in a fasted state).  And you know what? It wasn’t so bad. There were times when I felt a pang of hunger, but it passed and then everything was fine.  Remember:  hunger is not an emergency.

Habits
This weeks habit was no new habits! The official line was to take a look back at the previous habits and perhaps work on some of the ones that were more troublesome for us. I opted to just eat healthy, work out every day and basically treat this week as if it were the rest of my life.  And things were good.

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
Weeks 15-16: Log all food
Weeks 17-18: Create a sleep ritual
Weeks 19-20: Drink only zero calorie beverages
Weeks 21-22: Use targeted recovery strategies
Weeks 23-24: Eat only whole foods

Week 25:  No new habits (work on the previous ones)

I spatchcocked a chicken today!  I bet not many people can claim the same thing…

And it was very tasty! Recently I’ve started to eat meat obtained only from animals that were humanely treated and not fed hormones and antibiotics.  I initially made the switch mostly for ethical reasons (I read an article that I probably shouldn’t have read … but that’s not something I’m going to get on a soapbox about here) but was completely surprised to find that the taste and quality were much better than what I was used to getting from my local Target or Jewel.

I’ve been getting my meat from two different sources:  Whole Foods (because they rate their meat based on how the animals were treated) and from Wallace Farms (thanks for the recommendation, Janet!), which is a family farm located in Iowa that has a distribution centers here in Illinois.  And yes, it kind of sucks having to make specials trips just to do my meat shopping, but we all have our #firstworldproblem burdens to bear.

Honestly, I never thought I’d taste a difference — my palate isn’t all that discriminating and I’m not drawn to high-brow food or anything like that. I gotta figure that if I consider Kraft American singles to be pretty tasty cheese, then it’s not like I can claim to only want the finer foods in life.  But – surprisingly – there is quite a difference.  I suspect that if you catch your local supermarket just at the right time with the right cut of meat, it could be as good, but I haven’t had anything from Whole Foods or Wallace Farms that I even thought was just average, much less subpar. And that’s certainly happened more than once with supermarket meat.

Is it worth all the extra money?  Maybe.  Maybe not?  I suppose it depends on your budget and beliefs and the availability of choice in your neighborhood and even whether it’s something that you think tastes better than the supermarket alternative.  For me, I’m convinced that this is something I want to add into my lifestyle.  It means that I don’t buy as much meat, but what I do have, I thoroughly enjoy.  And one bonus for me — because of the cost, I will *never* let it go bad and not use it.  I’m notorious for buying food and letting it go bad sitting in the fridge, sadly waiting for me to do something with it, but when I’m paying sometimes as much as double the cost for a cut of meat, you can bet that I’ll be going all Julia Childs on it. 

So, what started out as me getting on a moral high horse, ended with me simply opting to pay more for something that I think tastes better, morals be damned.  It’s a happy coincidence that both my morals and my taste buds like the same thing. 

The other day my lesson for the day brought up the idea of scheduling a professional photo shoot at the end of May for my final photo submission.

Um, yea.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Professional photo shoot.

My first reaction was “la la la la I can’t hear you LA LA LA LA” … as I ran away from the computer.

My second reaction was pretty much a repeat of my first.  As was the third and fourth reaction.

By the fifth reaction, I was able to at least read the entire article — progress. 

I haven’t been swayed, but I’m willing to keep the book open on the suggestion and give myself a little more time to mull it over.

See, if in 5 months I’ve hit all my goals, then a photo shoot could be pretty awesome. But it goes without saying that if I don’t make the progress that I’m happy with, a photo shoot could be emotionally difficult to deal with.

The problem is that I should be confident that I’ll look the way I want by May 31st.  I’m doing the right things, I’m making the healthy decisions, the outcomes should follow.  But there’s still that voice in my head that doesn’t believe that I can do this.  THAT’S what I need to work on — that voice.  Ironically, the voice that says I can’t do this is the one thing that could actually keep me from being successful.

I understand the importance of living the dream — that you become the reality that you envision.  And I completely get how negative thinking can derail progress.  That any seed of doubt can be my undoing.  But that doesn’t stop the voice and the pit-of-my-stomach feeling that I’m going to fail.  The “why bother?” voice that tells me that I shouldn’t get my expectations up.

So, the photo shoot?  That’s one thing.  What I really need to work on is the fact that there’s a part of me that doesn’t think I’ll ever be ready for a photo shoot.


Long day.  Commute into work was longer on both sides of the day due to leftover weather considerations from the Polar Vortex that swept through.  Not a bad day, though — just long.  I’m just sitting down now (it’s 7:39pm) and it’s almost my bedtime.  I’m working on tiring out the dogs — Belle playing fetch and Clarke with a bone — so that they won’t harbor any ideas about keeping me up tonight.

Coming up soon here — a comparison of the Fitbit One vs. Withings Pulse.  Also a note on the lesson that popped up for today.  All things to look forward to!

And with that, good-night.  Sleep well and wake up excited for another day.

At the halfway mark, Lean Eating pulled a very subtle switcheroo on us — in the section where we get our green “You did good!” checkmarks, it went from being entitled “My Compliance” to “My Consistency”.

My very first screen shot of my checkmarks

I have to admit — had my coach not pointed that out in her weekly video message, I wouldn’t have noticed.  It goes along with the unsupervised week and the mindset shift that I should be experiencing, going from simply obeying whatever they tell me, to knowing how to live a healthy life and doing my best to practice those habits consistently. Because consistency is really the key to success, right? It’s not that you exercise once, it’s that you do a little every day.  It’s not that you pass up the cheesecake one night at dinner but eat like crap the rest of the time, it’s that each day you consistently make choices that support your goals and lifestyle (though sometimes that includes a slice of cheesecake!).

Up to date checkmarks!


Tricky, tricky Precision Nutrition! I kind of scoffed at the change initially, but it’s really growing on me. I really like the idea of switching from following all the rules to figuring out how the rules fit into real life.  This isn’t a year-long program, it’s the rest of my life, ya know?  And learning the habits and doing the mental work has made big changes, but it’s still a matter of implementing in a way that will allow me to continue being consistent for years into the future.

(On another note — look at all those green checkmarks! Go, me!)

So, here’s to having all the puzzle pieces … now it’s time to put them all together.