It’s started — the new year of Lean Eating.  Well, not exactly … they re-branded slightly and instead of it being called “Lean Eating” it’s “Precision Nutrition Coaching”.  Toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe.  I kind of dig the name change.  I like saying that I’m in a coaching program than just “Lean Eating” which sounds a little dorky.  Not that dorky isn’t in my wheelhouse.

Going into this I was worried that it was going to be a repeat of last year, but so far there have been a number of noticeable changes, all for the better as far as I’m concerned.  My coach Jen has already been in touch with me a few times via email, which has been awesome and a switch from last year. And I’m determined not to feel like I’m “bothering her” since, you know, it isn’t actually true and even if it were, it’s her job to be bothered by the likes of me.

The first habit is different than last year — instead of doing supplements and such, it’s an even easier habit designed to prep us for the year ahead.  Every day I need to decide on a 5-minute action that will help me move towards my goals, or get something done that’s been on my list, etc.  I’ve done things like get podcasts on my phone for my walks, going through the refrigerator and cleaning out food and starting up some shoulder stretches for my perpetually tight shoulders.  As always, baby steps.  Just do a little better than I did yesterday.

Remember the green check marks?
Those haven’t changed, thank God.

Oh – and a big change:  no more skinfold testing! The consensus was that using calipers — even by professionals — was sketchy and not necessarily accurate.  So now it’s just scale weight and body girth measurements and photos.  I’m considering still doing the skinfold measurements every 3 months just for kicks and grins (since my in-house roommate/trainer does it for me), but we’ll see. It’s not a fun process; something about another person squeezing your body fat is a little off-putting, ya know?

And on that note, time for bed!

Tomorrow starts my second round of Lean Eating.  I wasn’t going to be that girl, the one who didn’t get any results and had to do another year, but here I am.

But I’m not feeling like a failure, no. I’m feeling excited and ready to go — I recognize all the work that I put in last year and am now ready to really put the program to its best use for me. 

I’ve said this before, but I’m finally staring to put words into action:  I don’t care what size I am.  Truly.  Whether I’m a size 6 or a size 16, as long as I can go out and do anything I want at any time and not be limited by a lack of fitness, I will have been successful. 

So, if I want to bike better, I need to go out and hit the trails.  If I want to run better, then I need to hit the pavement.  Lift heavy stuff?  Then I need to hit the gym.

Here’s to a year of kicking ass!

Way, way back in the days when this blog didn’t gather quite as much dust, I made some resolutions for 2014. Remember?  Even knowing the glaringly awful statistics about how many people actually keep their resolutions doesn’t stop me from doing it every year.  I figure that even if I don’t follow it, at least it’s a roadmap to refer to as the months roll on by.

And – I actually haven’t done too badly:  

  • Lean Eating stuff?  Could have been better, but I made a bunch of progress.  
  • Reading?  I’ve read almost twice as many books in about half the time. Whew! It’s been awesome and I hadn’t realized how much I missed it.  And a PSA — support your local public library! The services they offer are beyond compare.
  • Dog Training?  Well, we’ll say that perhaps my dogs still rule the roost, but they let me delude myself into thinking I’m in charge more than they used to.
  • More steps?  I’m moving so much more than I used to!  I think starting up using Gym Pact has really pushed me in the right direction.
  • Journaling?  Man, I was so good for awhile but that’s slipped off.  On the other hand, I’ve started digital photo journaling, which has put me on a search for the best app out there to do it (I love Project365 on the iOS side, but need the Android equivalent … any suggestions?).
  • More music and less TV?  I cut the cord on full-blown cable right after March Madness and I can’t say that I’ve missed it too much.  My brother — saint that he is — has given me a log in to his service so that I can catch the occasional sporting event that I no longer can see on my TV.  And with the music, I’m crushin’ pretty hard on Songza these days … love the curated lists and the huge variety of music. You should check it out.

So, what goals am I’m going to tweak for the rest of the year?

Not too much, actually.  Keep the Lean Eating goals — put in the work, attend the video chats, keep in close touch with my coach.  I need support and I need to ask for it.

Keep enjoying the outdoors.  After this past winter, I’ve been trying to get outside as often as possible for walks both with and without the dogs. Especially on days when I strength train, I try to get out for a long walk in the evening and I’m really loving the time it gives me to catch up on some of the podcasts that I love listening to.

Keep on with the less TV.  I’ve got a list of shows that I actually enjoy watching (American Ninja Warrior, anyone?? I’m addicted! And did you see Kacy Catanzaro kill it out there the other night?? Talk about inspirational!) but beyond that and watching the news, I have better things to do other than vegetating on the couch.

And something new:  I want to pick up a new tech skill.  I found a free course on how to write Android apps, which looks totally interesting.  Or – perhaps something in the way of learning about web design and programming.  But – something.  I learn a ton of stuff at my job, but I want to learn something fun (and perhaps even marketable).

Encompassing all this was the straightforward goal:  be me, be happy.  And I have to say, I think I’m hitting this pretty well.  I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this content and excited about what’s in my life.  It’s not dramatic or perhaps even exciting in the traditional sense, but it’s what makes me smile. What I’m trying to say: things are good.

Seems I’m a sucker for a good deal … or something like that. I got an offer to do another year of Lean Eating at a reduced price, and I decided, after noodling the idea around quite a bit, to take them up on the offer.

So – another year!  It starts next week, and I’m looking forward to it.  I’ll appreciate having a place to check in daily and be told to measure and take photos on regular intervals.  Not that I couldn’t do that on my own (of course!), but I do like the whole structure of the program. I feel like knowing the program is my edge this time around; I’m sure of what I have to do to work on different things and get different results.

  1. I’m requesting a coach that will be more drill sergeant than cheerleader. My coach last year was an awesome lady, but this time I want someone who’s still nice, but just a little more fierce. From the outset I’m going to make sure that I’m on my coaches’ radar and that they know that I’m someone they’ll need to keep on top of to keep me accountable. I really liked my coach last year, but I need a new perspective on things.
  2. I’m going to take advantage of the community and support system from the beginning.  Last time I started this and then dropped off pretty quickly and never felt entirely comfortable jumping back in, knowing that people already knew each other (despite being absolutely positive that everyone would have been more than welcoming). That’s one of my quirks that I’m determined to work on.
  3. I’m definitely training more these days and I know that’s going to help. Last time I was just starting to work out again and I know I didn’t work hard enough.
  4. Asking for help has always been my achilles heel and that’s another thing that I’m determined to work on. People aren’t going to know what I need if I don’t tell them (and yes, this could probably be applied to more than just this whole Lean Eating thing).
  5. It can’t hurt, right?  It’s only money…

Starting in about a week, it’s back into the program.  I really didn’t think I’d be one of those folks that goes through this particular rodeo more than once, but it was a strangely attractive option once presented.  I’m quite mindful, though, of the saying “Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always got” and that I’ll need to makes things significantly different this time to get different results.

Hopefully I’m up to the task!

(okay, okay … really, I signed up just so that I’d have an excuse to blog for another year…)

Has it really been almost a year?  Hard to believe, honestly. I had committed to blogging every day, but — obviously — that hasn’t happened.  But still, 158 posts later, I feel like I at least had a voice to put out in the world.  And I reckon that I’ll keep on frequenting here as long as I’m doing battle with some of the unhealthy, reckless, devil-may-care voices that rule some of my decisions.

Does this mean I got an “F” in Lean Eating?

First, let’s run the numbers, shall we?  Over the past year, my weight has been as low as 10 pounds below where I started and as high as 3 pounds above where I started.  Right now?  I’m sitting a few pounds below my starting point. Certainly not where I wanted to be, but I shudder to think what shape I’d be in now if I hadn’t been working on myself through this program.  In terms of the tape measure, things are better — I lost about 13″ in total.  Despite the fact that my weight rebounded back up, I didn’t put on the inches in tandem, luckily enough.  And the body fat caliper measurements back this up.

And let me say this for the record:  so many women — women that I got to know over the course of the year — totally ROCKED the program and transformed themselves in ways that seem almost unimaginable.  I mean, really — you should check out the finalists.  The program certainly doesn’t lack success stories.

Because I don’t know of any other way to corral my rather disorganized opinions about Lean Eating, how about a The Good, The Bad and The Ugly list?  

The Good

  • The program is about so much more than what to eat and what workouts to do; it encompasses a lot of mental and emotional work to understand underlying issues.
  • A year is definitely necessary — the program used to be only 6 months long and I would have felt very left-in-a-lurch if it had ended in January.
  • It’s all about developing a lifestyle.  This isn’t a restrictive eat-this-not-that diet but rather adjusting your outlook so it supports your goals and priorities and then building a way of life around that.
  • Gradually adding habits one at a time makes jumping in a whole lot less overwhelming than it would otherwise be.
  • It offers a lot of flexibility in terms of workouts — while they have workouts to follow, you’re free to substitute with something else that you enjoy more.
  • They have a ton of resources available if you have questions.  Not just your coach or your team, but nutritionists, physiologists and folks with other specialty skills as well.

The Bad

  • It isn’t exactly cheap.
  • It’s easy to not do the work, make no headway but still look like you’re following along.
  • Once you put your information into the Lean Eating site, it’s not altogether easy to get it back out (and once your year is up, you lose access to anything coaching-related, i.e. measurements, photos, written answers to exercises).

The Ugly

  • I believe that much of your experience depends on your coach and how well your personality matches what she provides.  My coach was awesome, but sometimes was too respectful of my space when I could have used someone to nag me (I know – I should just hire my Mom, right?).
  • If you aren’t hitting the program at the “right” time — meaning, mentally and emotionally ready to tackle your relationship with food and training — it could be an exercise in frustration.
  • You get out of it what you put into it.  And if what you put in is superficial or not challenging your comfort zone, you won’t get a whole lot in the way of results out of the program.

And to round it out, here are some of my biggest epiphanies:

  • Hunger is not an emergency!  Just because I think I’m hungry doesn’t mean I necessarily need food.
  • Eating slowly really does work.
  • As does stopping eating once I feel like I’m 80% full.
  • I also don’t eat nearly as much if I don’t allow myself to do anything else while eating — no TV, no reading, no computer, no phone.
  • Planning meals and workouts is the key to my success. I need structure!

Would I do this again?  Perhaps.  I feel like I spent a lot of time this year figuring out what my nutrition demons were and while I still don’t have them all banished, at least I’ve identified the problems and put strategies into place to deal with them.  The last year has been spent looking inward; if I were to do this again, I would spend the year looking outward.  I would take full advantage of the community — something I didn’t do — and participate fully, engaging with both my coach and with other members.

Would I recommend this program to someone else?  Probably, but with disclaimers.  If all you are looking for is a diet and workouts to follow, then it’s not worth the money.  On the other hand, if your relationship with food or healthy living needs to be evaluated and put under a spotlight, this is a great program.  Coaches are really good at working through all sorts of issues and helping you figure out the “why”‘s of eating and training habits.

And so with that, dear readers, I wrap up my Lean Eating year.  It’s certainly been a learning experience for me, chock full of all sorts of good revelations about myself.  Hope you’ve enjoyed coming along for the ride!