I mentioned in this post I am determined to ring in the New Year without any extra weight. What is it about this time of year that allows us to put our health and weight loss goals on hold? Year after year I permit myself to overeat, eat things I don’t normally eat, skip workouts all the while convincing myself that come January 1st something magical will happen to make the sins of the previous month go away. Only the magic never happens, instead I’m left feeling flabby and guilty. Well something has clicked in me over the past couple of years. As I get closer to my weight loss goal I find it more difficult to justify making excuses as to why I should put my goals on hold. Writing this brings to mind all of the excuses I have made in the past. I wish so badly I could return to my teens, my 20s and even my early 30s with the knowledge I have now. I know that this is my journey and this is just how things needed to happen, but oh how I wish I could tell my younger self how wonderful it is to finally be free of the weight. I refuse to let this month or any other time of the year be cause for me to go backwards.

Here are few things that are inspiring me and motivating me this holiday season.

  • Marion, my friend over at Affection for Fitness has announced the January Jeans Club. I recently mentioned that I bought my first pair of size 8 jeans and darn it if I am going to let anything stop me from wearing them come January. I will proudly join Marion and Satu, another favorite blogger, from Body Capable in taking part in the January Jeans Club by eating healthy, committing to exercise and staying focused on my goals despite the abundance of treats this month. Satu designed the badge below for those interested in joining.

january jeans club

  • I set a goal to run a 10K in under 1 hour during 2012. I didn’t meet that goal during a 10K race this year, but I have been running the 10K distance, 6.2 miles, in under an hour consistently for the last two weeks. I even did  6.43 miles in exactly one hour. So to keep my motivation going strong I am now officially registered for the Sawmill River 10K on January 1, 2013!! From the elevation map I have some hills to contend with in the latter half of the race, but I will not let that stop me.
  • This story of Breanna Bond, a 9 year old girl who lost 66 pounds brought tears to my eyes. I wish it didn’t take the child being bullied for something to be done for this little girl, but I’m glad something prompted the change. What really caught my attention was the way her family rallied behind her once the decision was made to get serious about weight loss. In talking about a 4 mile walk the family did daily Breanna’s mom said,“We went at night, in the rain, in the hail, in the fog, nothing.  We had a zero-tolerance policy.  We’re doing the walk, no matter what.” YES!!! I get this now for myself. If I want to lose the weight and keep it off I have to do the work. There are days I really don’t want to work out, but I do it anyway and I have yet to regret one of those workouts.
  • Helen at Doing A 180 has written a series of posts chronicling the 6 hours of black belt testing she endured. There is still one post left, but whether Helen passes or not doesn’t matter because she is already an inspiration in my book. I am simply in awe of what Helen has accomplished thus far in her journey considering the painful injury she has been dealing with this year. If you haven’t already read Helen’s posts please do especially if you are struggling with motivation this time of year. Way to go Helen!!
  • I have mentioned before that having my son was the impetus to finally get healthy. Well he will be 6 next week (sniffle, sniffle) and he still continues to inspire me to try new things. On Saturday we both tried something new.
Carlos rocks!

Carlos rocks!

Look at my little guy rocking that rock climbing wall. He is honestly one of the coolest people I know and I’m so proud to call him my son. He is almost always game for a new activity. His willingness to try new things spurs on my willingness. Together we make a fun team. I don’t have any photos of myself, but I do have a month’s pass to the rock climbing gym starting January 2nd! I loved it. It is challenging, scary and unbelievably addicting all at the same time. The pass will allow me to take the belaying class for free so I can learn to hold the ropes while others climb. I will also have unlimited use of the gym as well as unlimited yoga and Pilates classes for the month. I am so excited!!

What’s motivating you?

No Thanks

If you follow me on Twitter then you know that on Saturday I bought my very first pair of size 8 jeans. They are a size 8 boot cut jean from Banana Republic. They fit like a glove yet they are not snug or tight. I had quite a moment on my own in the dressing room. I have worn a size 14 for as long as I can remember. Then I was in a 12 for about a year or so. At some point this year I bought my first size 10 and that felt amazing, but nothing compares to how I’ve been feeling lately. With that said I’m more determined than ever to ring in the New Year feeling fabulous and fit.

This week I’ve experienced my first taste of holiday temptation. My friend and I run the Secret Santa Holiday Shop at our children’s school. On Monday night we had set up and she brought pizza. It smelled heavenly, but I ignored it because it would have put me over my Weight Watcher points for the day. I had a kale salad waiting at home and I knew that I would be much happier after eating that than if I ate the pizza so I said no thanks.

Yesterday and today we operated the shop from 8am until noon. Yesterday my friend brought hot out of the oven cinnamon rolls. Oh my goodness they smelled so good which is code for I don’t know what they tasted like because I didn’t eat them. Thanks but no thanks. I had eaten a bowl of cereal at work earlier in the morning. I sipped coffee and water in between each class. I brought Trader Joe’s lemon wafers and had a few of those because they killed my sweet tooth and I knew the points value. After the shop yesterday I had a hearty vegetable wrap with hummus. It was worth the wait.

Today it was my job to stop and get a box of Joe from Dunkin’ Donuts along with a box of assorted munchkins which included the special holiday flavor red velvet munchkins. My friend brought in brownies a la Dunkin Hines, but still they smelled great. Mmmmm no thank you. Again I sipped water and coffee. I had a couple of lemon wafers, but I passed on the other treats. I just didn’t deem them worthy of my points.

Tonight I went Christmas shopping alone. I ate a healthy dinner compliments of the hot bar at Whole Foods. Instead of sweets after dinner, I had a tall skinny peppermint mocha hold the whipped cream at Barnes & Noble and a dark chocolate Adora disk which doubles as a calcium supplement. After my shopping excursion I hit the gym. I did some speed work on the treadmill and some strength training. I could have easily skipped the gym. I wanted to. Normally I get my workouts done in the morning, but my schedule is really off this week because of the holiday shop. I’m really glad I didn’t skip my workout today.

It’s really hard to pass up treats that are right in front of my face. There’s that little voice that says things like, “oh come on just have one; don’t you want to try the red velvet munchkin; you can’t deprive yourself all the time; live a little.” Only I know better now. One leads to two which leads to too many. I’ve been down this road too many times. I absolutely refuse to go backwards. So unless it is something really great I’m going to have to say no thanks.


Summer Races: Lake Wyola Road Race

Back in April I announced my plans to run the Philadelphia Marathon in November. Despite the fact that I haven’t written a single post about marathon training I have been training since July. My training came to a screeching halt early on thanks to a sore hamstring followed by a stretched Achilles. I am happy to report that both issues have since resolved. Marathon training is going well despite some bumps in the road, scheduling challenges and a serious lack of time. I have competed in 3 races that I have yet to write about. Two were repeat races that I hope to make an annual tradition and the most recent was a new race in a new place.

Lake Wyola Road Race

On June 10, 2012 I ran this local race for the second time. This was the 32nd running of the Lake Wyola Road Race. Carlos and I frequent the lake all summer. The small beach is a part of the Massachusetts State Parks system. It is a hidden gem about 40 minutes away from home. Race proceeds benefit the Lake Wyola Association.

The website describes the course perfectly. “This scenic 4.8 mile race starts at the Lake Wyola Association Hall and runs counter clockwise around the lake on mostly tree-canopied country roads. The first half of the course is paved with a challenging uphill climb. The second half is dirt roads with a small bit of pavement at the finish line.” 

The uphill climb in this race is a great precursor to another race I run each summer. I love this race because it is extremely well organized, very family friendly and the course is picturesque. The pre and post race offerings are among the best of any race I’ve run. The volunteers go above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome and at home in the community of Lake Wyola.

Lake Wyola Road Race 2012

Going into this race I assumed I would do better than last year. However, it didn’t turn out to be one of my best races or even a great run. I broke some cardinal rules which led to a near disaster. I worked the night before which I try very hard not to do before a race. I ate nothing at work and then instead of my usual peanut butter toast and banana I ate only the banana and peanut butter before we left for the race which was a little too early to have eaten. I was not well hydrated despite the heat. Training had been sporadic due to the shin splint I got from ice skating in the spring.

I ran more of the uphill portion this year than I did last year so I felt strong going out. However, on the back half of the course I felt shaky, sluggish and I knew I was slowing down. It was hot and there were no water stations for the last mile and a half or so.

I wrote about last year’s road race here. I had a great experience last year. Below are my times for both races.

Lake Wyola Road Race – 47:22
Shutesbury, MA – June 10, 2012

Lake Wyola Road Race – 46:35
Shutesbury, MA – June 18, 2011

At first read it probably sounds like I’m making excuses for my poor performance this year. I admit I was a little disappointed when I crossed the finish line. As with any “bad” run I used this experience as an opportunity to learn something about myself and how to train better.

Having just started back at Weight Watchers about a month before the race I was still navigating the points system and how the program would work best with my level of activity. At that time I was backing away from bread and grains because of their high points value. This race taught me that I needed to find a way to incorporate grains back into my diet or marathon training would be a nightmare. I did not fuel properly before this race and I felt the effects especially during the last half of the race. I now use my extra weekly points to be able to eat a healthy amount of whole grain foods. Funny thing is that once I began eating the grains again I began losing more weight.

This race proved to me why I don’t typically run races after working all night. Sure I can run a training run after working all night because I’m not pushing myself to beat my last time.

Despite the fact that I knew it was going to be hot I didn’t hydrate myself properly in the hours before the race. Since I was at work I also drank a couple cups of coffee which didn’t help my hydration.

Silly Carlos

No matter how a race turns out it is still a great excuse to be with my family, do something outdoors and be around other active people. Carlos and Orlando were there to cheer me on. I appreciate all of their support over the last couple of years. I realize that my commitment to running relies on their support. On days when I just don’t feel like going out for a training run my husband is always ready to boot me out the door. When I need to wake up at the crack of dawn to workout because that’s my only opportunity for the day, again my husband will make sure I get out of bed and go. As much as I run these races and workout almost everyday for my health and well being, I also do it for that little guy in the photo above. He is my world and I try to do everything on my part to make sure I will be here to drive him crazy see him grow up.

Lake Wyola I’ll be back next year and looking for a personal record!

Bathing Suits

There was a summer during my teen years when I routinely sat around my aunt’s pool in baggy sweaters and baggy stretch pants insisting that I was “fine.” I’m from New England where the temperatures vary, but summer is still fairly hot so I doubt I was actually “fine.” I vividly remember one ensemble being a combination of a hot pink long sleeved sweater and yellow pants. Yikes! I obviously refused to get in a bathing suit that summer. I have been self-conscious about my body for as long as I can remember. Bathing suits have been the absolute bane of my existence for many years.

Junior high swimming was anxiety provoking. Thank goodness for makeup sharing induced pink eye or rather spraying the hair spray a little too close to my eye about 10 minutes before swim class so I could go to the school nurse and feign pink eye. Worked like a charm as did menstrual cramps, headaches and oops I forgot my bathing suit. In order to makeup the swim classes I missed all I had to do was swim 20 laps after school. The swim instructor allowed me to keep a T-shirt on over my bathing suit and there was no one there anyway besides the swim team who paid no mind to the random two or three people making up missed swim classes. Twenty laps was no trouble. I actually love to swim. I simply hated getting in the pool during swim class with all of my peers, boys and girls.

I was quite a good swimmer though. Twice the swim coach approached me about joining the swim team and twice I replied sure despite having no intentions of joining. In retrospect I regret that decision to this day. That is the one and only thing I would change if I had a do over because I believe it would have inadvertently altered the course of so many other events in my teenage life.

I’ve never been comfortable in a bathing suit. I have a quintessential pear shaped body so exposing my legs is nothing if not embarrassing. Only recently with the advent of the skirt tankini have I been able to feel even remotely comfortable on the beach or at a swimming pool. I initially felt a bit elderly, but then I found a couple of cuter styles of skirt tankinis. A flattering bathing suit for my figure and continued positive changes to my body have given me the confidence to wear a bathing suit when the need arises though I still keep my cover up or sun dress on as long as possible.

This past weekend I was in Florida with Carlos visiting my Dad and his girlfriend. It was a quick three night trip and it involved being in a bathing suit 90% of the time. We swam at his condo pool, the beach and on Saturday we spent the day at a water park. Initially at the water park I kept my cover up on, but quickly realized that it would simply be a nuisance because there were too many fun rides so I relegated all my belongings including the cover up and my flip flops to a locker. I walked around a water park for nearly 7 hours with nothing but my bathing suit on. You know what…I felt absolutely fantastic.

OK I didn’t exactly feel like I could grace the pages of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. I simply felt normal. I felt comfortable for the first time in nothing but a bathing suit, albeit a skirt tankini. I didn’t think about my weight, or how my body looked in the bathing suit. I was comfortable in my own skin.  I wanted to shout how good I felt or at least share it with someone. I didn’t do either. I just kept reveling in my head how worth it this journey has been. I’m so glad that despite my ups and downs with my weight I have never fully given up. I am grateful that I persisted and found a way to make fitness a priority in my life. I am proud of myself for continuing to learn more about nutrition, try new ways of eating and delve into the reasons why I’ve been overweight for so long.

After having my son I knew that I didn’t want to watch my him grow up while sitting on the sidelines of life. I wanted to be right there in the thick of it, running, playing, experiencing life with my family. I vowed that my weight issues would never inhibit my son’s life. Saturday was a really significant day for me. It was the first time I had ever been to a water park with my son. I rode every water slide, jumped in the pools, lounged on a tube while floating down the lazy river and sat at a picnic table for lunch in nothing but my bathing suit.

Good times!

What kind of bathing suit do you wear? Are you comfortable in it?

Skin Deep: Mozambique

Thank you so much for the kind comments about my previous Skin Deep posts (Adolescence and the College Years). I feel as though I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel of my weight issues and part of getting to the root of my struggle is identifying how my emotions affect my eating.

I could write volumes on my life in Mozambique. It was one of those life altering experiences that no one else quite understands except maybe my site mate. I beam when I talk about it even today. Sure I had my ups and downs living in a third world country, but overall it was wonderful.

Someday I would love to chronicle my Peace Corps experience here, but for now I’ll just give a brief overview. I joined the Peace Corps when I was 25 years old and received an invitation to serve in the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers ever in Mozambique. Mozambique is located in southern Africa on the Indian Ocean coast.

In October 1998 I left the United States for a 2 year 3 month assignment as an English teacher. The 3 months is pre-service training which includes language, culture and teacher training. From there I was assigned to teach English at the secondary school in a town called Chokwe.

About 6 months before I left for Peace Corps I was at my heaviest weight, 208 pounds. Despite my ups and downs during college and the progress I made with improving my self-esteem I let all that go and of course gained a lot of weight. I joined Weight Watchers at that time and I think I managed to lose about 20 pounds. Before leaving the U.S. my Peace Corps (PC) group met in Denver, Colorado for a 4 day staging event. I remember arriving to the hotel and meeting the group for the first time. I distinctly recall feeling very self-conscious about my appearance. I instantly hated all of my clothing and felt frumpy and fat.

My group was mostly women. Once in Mozambique we found ourselves living in dormitory-like conditions with the women separated from the men. I was angry about my weight, frustrated about my ugly clothing and depressed about my appearance overall. Our shower stalls had no doors on them which only added to the anxiety I felt about my body. I seemed to quickly retreat into myself causing unpredictable mood swings. Needless to say I probably wasn’t very well liked by my colleagues. I did make friends but I don’t think my attitude was often appreciated. I was aware of my negativity, but I couldn’t seem to control it.

By the end of the 3 month training I know I had lost weight. I remember getting weighed at some point during training and I was in the 170s. I certainly felt better and my mood lightened. Upon arriving to my permanent site where I would be teaching I lost more weight. I was walking everywhere. My site mate and I bought bikes and spent hours almost every day riding through the vast agricultural fields that surrounded the town. The heat made me eat less as did the fact that we didn’t have a refrigerator and everything had to be prepared from scratch. I went from being a non-vegetable eater with a diet of mostly white starchy carbs to  a diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables. Mozambique opened up a whole new world of flavor for me.

I gradually lost more weight and had to buy new clothing. I started wearing dresses and skirts. I added cute tank tops to my wardrobe. For the first time in a very very long time I wore a bathing suit at the beach. I actually went into the water sans large T-shirt. I don’t think I weighed any less than 160, but I felt fantastic. I would go out to the disco on the weekends in a cute dress something I don’t think I ever did before living in Mozambique.

About 2 months after arriving to Chokwe I met Orlando. Our friendship developed over the next few months into a more serious relationship. He didn’t seem concerned about my body. He obviously liked what he saw and would compliment me on my appearance. He never made a negative comment about my weight so I didn’t mention my issues with weight.

In June 1999 I went to a PC conference and on my way I caught my pinky finger on something while getting off the bus. It developed quickly into an infection and the medical officer told me to stop smoking. I didn’t bother to heed her warning and by the next morning my finger was extremely swollen and sore. I stopped smoking cold turkey and have never looked back. I had wanted to quit. Orlando didn’t smoke and didn’t seem to love the fact that I did, but I also had misgivings about what it might be doing to my health. I worried that I would gain weight, but miraculously I didn’t.

The Mozambicans had different reactions to my body and they let me know. A comment I heard quite often was how voluptuous I was in reference to my full hips and bottom. The women would outline the shape of my body in the air with their hands and then tell me what a good mother I will be obviously meaning to say that I clearly have the perfect body to deliver a baby.

A perfect example of how Mozambicans viewed weight is exhibited in these typical comments I received often. I might go out in the morning and hear “oh teacher you look so fat today!” I would instantly sulk. My day ruined completely until later in the day wearing a totally different outfit I would be greeted by friends with “are you ok? You look so thin today. Do you feel ok?” Suddenly I would grin from ear to ear, comments from earlier in the day forgotten. To the Mozambicans carrying extra weight was a sign of wealth, health and well-being. Appearing thin signified illness. So in my dysfunctional warped brain I preferred looking sickly. There is something very wrong with that kind of thinking.

It took me a while to wrap my head around the Mozambican mentality towards weight and body image, but in time I grew increasingly less self-conscious about what I looked like. By the time I left Mozambique in 2002 I weighed somewhere in the 160s. I had quit smoking. I overcame my picky eating habits and finally added vegetables to my diet. I discovered that I liked dressing in feminine clothing. I became more active. I was walking and bike riding regularly. Life in Mozambique happens outdoors and I learned to enjoy that aspect of life too. I smiled more and felt a sense of peace inside. Overall I felt better than I ever remembered feeling. I was also a newlywed. My life changed so positively in my almost 4 years overseas. I loved my life in Mozambique and I was very reluctant to leave.

Skin Deep: College Years

College was a bit of a bumpy ride in the beginning. I went away to college, then transferred to another out of state college before finally settling back into my childhood home just before the beginning of second semester my freshmen year. I attended community college for the rest of freshman and sophomore years before transferring to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I commuted throughout my junior year and then finally moved to Amherst the summer before my senior year.

Needless to say my first 3 years of college did not at all mirror the mental image I created before leaving high school. I struggled both physically and emotionally. My weight crept up higher than ever. By the time I moved to UMass I was not only obese, but I was indulging in some terrible habits. I was, at that time, a pack per day cigarette smoker. I drank coffee first thing in the morning and other times throughout the day which would be ok if it hadn’t been loaded with milk and sugar. I turned 21 the summer I moved to Amherst and subsequently enjoyed my share of Zima (anyone remember those!), wine coolers and Kamikaze shots that summer and well into the fall semester. It took me all of a few months to realize that drinking was not my thing. Instead I began drinking Diet Coke like it was going out of style.

My eating habits went from bad to worse. Once I moved from my Mom’s house to an off campus apartment in Amherst my diet consisted of things like bagels, calzones, pizza and burritos. I didn’t eat vegetables then and I was most definitely a meat eater. I also didn’t cook, so much of what I ate was from restaurants or a box, as in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

During my winter break junior year I did a 3 week intensive Spanish class in Cuernavaca, Mexico. I quickly became friends with the two other women from UMass. Within days of knowing each other they both encouraged me to stop wearing my big baggie T-shirts. They told me that I didn’t have to hide my body. One night before going out my new friend suggested I tuck in my shirt (gasp!). Not very fashion forward but in many ways better than the shirt dress I had been wearing. It took some getting used to but it was the impetus for thinking about what I was wearing rather than simply covering myself.

The second semester of my senior year I lived in Mexico again for a study abroad experience. I had the time of my life. This time I lived in Taxco, a beautiful silver mining town located south of Mexico City in the state of Guerrero. The town was carved into the mountainside which made for lots of hills. I walked everywhere and naturally slimmed down enough to feel somewhat comfortable with my body. I was still pleasantly plump and curvaceous, but it turns out the Mexican men find that attractive. For the first time in my life I was asked to dance at the discotecas. I received harmless cat calls and one funny marriage proposal on the way to school in the morning. It didn’t go to my head if that’s what you’re thinking. I found the attention a bit comical, but it was never crude or degrading. Honestly it made me smile. I met a lovely man towards the end of my semester abroad. We dated briefly. He was kind, thoughtful and made me feel beautiful. Our time together was short but it left a lasting impression on my self-confidence.

There was one other factor in Mexico that significantly improved how I felt about myself. I became friends and later roommates with two young women from England. They were the two most confident, brazen, hilarious women I had ever met. As if that wasn’t enough they also had those great British accents! Only a Brit can tell you to F off and make it sound like they are paying you a compliment. They put up with my self-loathing for all of a minute before one of them was fashioning together an outfit to wear dancing and the other was giving me a makeover. They simply wouldn’t stand for my negativity and therefore in order to hang out with them I had to start liking myself…at least a little.

At the end of the semester I spent an extra few weeks traveling all around southern Mexico by myself. This was a very empowering journey. It was a tremendous experience. I learned a great deal, met interesting people along the way and saw some amazing places like the pyramids of Chichen Itza, the quaint colonial town of San Cristobal in Chiapas, the ancient Mayan ruins of Palenque, and the pristine beaches on the Oaxacan coast. I discovered that I was resourceful, capable and much more confident when exploring life on my own.

Family and friends couldn’t help but notice how much better I looked upon my return home. It wasn’t just that I had lost a little weight, it was that I had gained some self-confidence. I was refreshed and so enamored with my entire experience in Mexico.

I still fell prey to the vicious cycle of dieting throughout college. The negative self talk seemed to be most rampant when my friends were dating. I felt left out and lonely. These feelings were  inevitably linked to how I felt about my appearance. I set unrealistic goals on the weekend, vowing to make drastic changes just about every Monday and by Tuesday I would be back uptown chowing on a huge slice of pizza. I joined the gym, I quit the gym. I began vigorous walking and roller blading routines only to find other more important things to do with my time like hanging out at a pub with friends.

My college years were fun. I finally had friends and a social life. College life didn’t quite end upon graduation for me because I took a job on campus. My bad habits continued as did the yo-yo dieting. The little bit of self-confidence I developed remained, but I wasn’t truly happy. At a time when I should have been meeting the world head on with enthusiasm and ambition I shrunk back. I had dreams and plans, but they were buried under doubts and skepticism.

“If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price.”  ~Author Unknown

Sunny Saturday

It’s gorgeous out today. I am sitting on my back deck catching up with blogs, email, etc. The sun feels fantastic.

About a week ago I wrote about a few things that were on my mind. I was really pleased to receive such honest comments on the post. I thought I would revisit the topics as to where things stand today.

  • Easter was full of candy as I expected. My mother actually fit entire Cadbury eggs into those little plastic eggs she used for the Easter egg hunt! There were also Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and M&Ms. Seriously! I wanted to scream. Why can’t she at least put junk I dislike in the plastic eggs like Starburst and Skittles. I managed to unload the Cadbury eggs on another guest. The rest came home with us and went directly into the candy bowl high atop the pantry shelves so Carlos couldn’t get into it. It should have been put in a locked safe that only my husband could open.
  • Sugar – my food demons and I met head on this week. The demons won! I caved amidst a big bowl of acquired Easter candy, bake sale cookies I just had to sample before sending them off and PMS to boot. Yikes a recipe for disaster. I felt so weak and powerless. It was as if one bite led to more intense cravings and so on. I felt guilty and guiltier with each bite, yet I didn’t stop when I should have. It’s officially over now though. I haven’t quite hashed out all my feelings about the episode, but I know for a fact in years past I would have thrown in the towel completely. All bets would have been off and before I knew it I’d be praying that I didn’t get rid of my jeans in the next size up. Not this time. My pants still fit fine actually. In exchange for the sugar I’ve turned to fresh fruit and vegetables while my body recovers. I hope between now and the next time I will have found better coping mechanisms when confronted with an excess of the sweet stuff.
  • Grad School – my meeting with the Assistant Director of Graduate Studies went extremely well. I let her know up front of my intention to start the program next year and she was very supportive of my decision. She outlined the program for me. We discussed my goals and future plans. She also mentioned the possibility of incorporating one of our vacations to Mozambique into a potential practicum experience for me. There is the potential for tuition reimbursement if I decide to run clinical groups for their undergraduate nursing program. I left feeling rejuvenated and enthusiastic about continuing my education and much more sure of my decision to postpone my plans for a year.

In other news I had the most incredible run yesterday even though it wasn’t quite as long as I planned. I will discuss it more in my training post.

On Monday I am heading to Boston to watch the Boston Marathon will my best college friend. We haven’t seen each other in ages. I’m so excited about spending some time with her while cheering on all of the amazing runners. Carlos will be going to the Red Sox game with my sister while I’m at the marathon. Lucky duck!! I’m a teensy bit jealous that my 5  year old with experience Fenway before I do. I will finally see the famed Green Monster in person when my husband and I go to Fenway for a game on his birthday later in the summer. I have seen the Red Sox play only once before and it was at Yankee Stadium. I do not recommend this if you are a Red Sox fan. It was brutal.

On Thursday we went hiking at a new location not far from home. The Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the Mass Audobon Society. It was so tranquil and beautiful. The park offers 5 miles of hiking trails, mostly flat and along the Connecticut River. They were running a special deal on Mass Audubon Memberships so I joined. I’m looking forward to exploring the area more and also visiting other Mass Audubon locations across the state. They even have these really cool “Nature Quests” you can print out from the website and follow along to find a hidden treasure. Carlos is going to love that! (OK who am I kidding I’m super psyched about the Nature Quests too. I’m also dying to go Geocaching!! When did I become such an outdoorsy girl?!)

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Food Journal 2/10/12

After writing my angry letter to myself I got busy with my food journal. If you haven’t visited my food journaling partner in crime’s blog please head on over to Marion’s site to see what she’s been eating. If you don’t regularly read Marion’s blog Affection for Fitness please take a few moments to read through some of her recent posts. They are so well written and thought provoking as always.

This is my food journal entry from Friday, February 10, 2012.

Breakfast: Smoothie with spinach, 1/2 c frozen pineapple, 1c almond milk and 1 scoop protein powder
About 1 hour after breakfast on my way to pick up Carlos from school: an apple
Snack before lunch: I’m snacky and I just packed up a bag of Cheerios in Carlos’ snack bag for school on Monday. I left a  1/2 c. dry Cheerios out on the counter. I’m going to leave them out and eat them one by one as a way to give myself something to snack on while keeping it healthy and low calorie.
*This is hard. I want to eat the whole measuring cup in one bite. How terrible is that?
Note: I managed to take at least 15 minutes to eat the Cheerios
Lunch: kale, broccoli and 1/2c. chick peas sautéed with 1T coconut oil, 4T lemon juice, 3T water and 3T nutritional yeast (this is ridiculously addicting)
This afternoon we went ice skating for about an hour and 15 minutes.
Snack: 2 apple cinnamon rice cakes, 1 cheese stick
Dinner isn’t for another hour. I’m making pasta fagioli soup. I’m in the kitchen and naturally want to eat. Instead I’m sipping on a 25 cal packet of diet hot cocoa. 
Dinner: bowl of Pasta fagioli with about 2T grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Snack later while watching Dateline with Orlando: kiwi and banana with cinnamon, another packet of diet hot cocoa because the fruit didn’t really kill my sweet tooth
Clearly snacking is an issue. It’s as though I think about food all day long or I just need to be munching on something at all times. I really envy people like my husband who eat because they have to, not because they really care about food. I care…a little too much.
In researching ways to stop snacking so much I came across a segment from the Dr. Oz show on food addiction. In a companion article Dr. Oz outlines the 5 warning signs of a food addict. These are namely:
  1. Hiding food
  2. Thinking about food more than 1 hour a day
  3. Emotional eating
  4. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not eating (shaking, dizziness)
  5. Unable to stop eating even when not hungry
Dr. Oz points to three strategies in order to regain control of your eating habits:
  1. First think about why you are eating. If it is out of frustration, loneliness, anxiety or boredom put down the food.
  2. Journal your emotions about food
  3. Keep a food log
So am I a food addict? Well Dr. Oz notes that in order to be considered addicted to food you would experience 3 out of 5 of the warning signs. I would say that numbers 2 and 3 are definitely applicable to me though there are times when emotions are running high and I actually don’t eat. I don’t hide food. I have never experienced withdrawal symptoms from not eating. I can stop eating most of the time, but sometimes it feels like I have a black hole inside my stomach that just won’t get full. I don’t usually give in to that feeling yet it bothers me.

While I may not have a true food addiction I definitely struggle with my relationship with food. I’m glad to see that a significant part of battling my often out of control eating habits is writing about it. It has helped me a lot over the weekend and definitely staved off some of the eating I would have normally done.

Attack before it Attacks You
I have been trying to get out of the kitchen as much as possible particularly in the afternoon. Twice last week we went ice skating. I also moved myself into the dining room for laundry folding, bill paying, etc. Being out of the kitchen removes the immediate temptation of food all around me.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
I love kale. I buy big bundles of kale almost every week. I find that if I clean it, tear it off the stems and store it in a container I am much more inclined to make myself a healthy lunch. Half the battle is preparing it but once it’s all prepped I make massaged kale salads, the sautéed kale I mentioned above, kale egg white omelets or kale smoothies. Lunch is not my favorite meal. I don’t like sandwiches so having the kale on hand and ready to go really helps me to make a better choice.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun!
I have mentioned my latest fun activity ice skating. Well I actually bought my own ice skates last week. They aren’t figure skates. They were recommended by my cousin who is a hockey player. His wife owns the same kind and loves them. They are SofTec Recreational skates and look a little like these only mine are black and red.
Jackson SofTec 1500 Recreational Figure Skate Ladies
On Friday when I took Carlos to skate during the public skate hours at the rink nearby I met a hockey coach/ice skating instructor. He was there with his youngest son who was only 3 years old. We got to talking and I told him that while I really enjoyed being on ice skates I really have no idea how to skate. He mentioned that he teaches an adult Learn to Skate program. It starts in March and runs for one hour every Sunday afternoon for 6 weeks. It’s more hockey skating rather than figure skating in the sense that we will be learning the basics of skating like stopping, going backwards, turning, etc.

Guess who is going to be taking ice skating lessons?! I’m so excited about this. I’ve gotten a few funny comments and looks from the few family members and friends that I’ve told about it, but I don’t care. It is a nice break from the running. It’s great exercise. Plus it just sounds like fun.

You know for years I avoided doing things like this because I was so uncomfortable in my skin. Now I might not be where I want to be with my weight but I’ll be damned if I am going to let that stop me from trying new things. So Olympics Learn to Skate here I come!

Aimee’s and Marion’s Excellent Food Journaling Adventure!

I have been trying to get back into weight loss mode for some time now. Over the last 5 years I have successfully lost 60 pounds and kept it off. However, I still have around 15-20 pounds to lose to be at a healthy weight. One thing that has always helped me to lose weight is journaling my food. For some reason I just haven’t been able to get back into it…until now. Sometimes things just click into place like this new food journaling adventure with my great blog friend Marion from Affection for Fitness. She is such an inspiration to me. She is positive, motivating and genuine. Her blog posts are intelligent and thought provoking. If you haven’t read her blog I highly recommend that you visit. She recently wrote a post about flaking out. After reading it and contemplating it for a while, I commented that:

I begin each day with the best intentions that today is the day I buckle down, start that food journal and get serious about shedding those last 20 pounds. A few days later a Weight Watchers coupon comes in the mail and I remember how I’m supposed to be taking charge of my eating, cleaning it up and controlling my portion sizes. I contemplate a return to WW but then I convince myself that I have the tools right here in this brain of mine to do what it takes to get this weight off once and for all. I know I will feel better and I will run faster without the excess weight. I know the doctor will be pleased with my efforts. I know I will love the results because I will better than ever. Yet nothing ever seems to happen. My scale has bounced around the same 4 pounds for months now. Up/down and the cycles continues. So why am I such a flake?

I do think, in my case that there is a correlation between food management and my flakiness if you will. I’ve got the fitness part of healthy living under control, but I still struggle with the food aspect. It’s as though I use my activity as an excuse to eat without limits. 

I know this wasn’t written with me in mind, but if it was I would say thank you for calling me out on a really bad habit and for providing some realistic tips to help me curb this terrible behavior.

Marion asked if I would be interested in doing a journal exchange on our blogs. I jumped at the idea and so this adventure was born.  As of February 1, 2012 I have started keeping a food journal again some of which I will be posting about here two or three times a week. Marion will be doing the same on her blog. We will be linking to each other’s posts. To make this somewhat mundane task more fun and interesting we will talk about the following topics:

  1. Food Eaten
  2. Reflection/Readings/Thoughts
  3. Attack Before It Attacks You (Stress management ideas)
  4. Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail (strategies/plans/rules we are using)
  5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun! (fun non-food things we are doing)
The credit for the design and title of our project goes to Marion, but it’s as though she read my mind. I am in a place in my health journey where I really want to analyze the food I eat, the decisions I make related to food and how I can improve my diet so I begin to lose weight again and more importantly keep it off.
As a former Weight Watcher I loved the idea of the meetings, but I always left feeling somewhat cheated and disappointed. The leaders are clearly following a lesson plan of sorts for the meeting and once they got through their material there was little time for anything else. What I wanted was to hear about how everyone was doing, not just weight loss or gain. I wanted to know about anything helpful they might have learned over the week, successes, new recipes or healthy low point snacks. This will be almost like the WW meeting I always dreamed of.
If this interests you please join us. Marion and I would love to hear your ideas or input on our posts. We also welcome encouragement and motivation!
To get this show on the road here is my food journal from yesterday, February 2, 2012.
1. Food Eaten
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 – 5.3 oz. container of plain nonfat Oikos Greek Yogurt
  • 1/3 cup blackberries
  • 1 T slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • cinnamon and 1 tsp Agave
  • Smoothie with a banana, 2 T light cottage cheese, 1 T pumpkin, 1/2 cup rice milk and 1 scoop Amazing Grass chocolate powder
  • an apple


  • a handful of blackberries
  • a Hershey’s mini


  • Veggie Coconut Curry compliments of this incredible recipe from Ashley of Edible Perspective served over a 1/2 cup brown rice

Evening Snack

  • 2 black bean brownies (I had a free coupon for Duncan Hines mixes. I bought one for chocolate brownies and mixed the batter with only a can of black beans and water, then baked per instructions. First you would never know there were beans in there. Secondly it tasted as sinful as it was! Lastly husband and son approved.)
2. Reflection/Readings/Thoughts
Reflections: I definitely didn’t need the 2 brownies. I justified the first as a taste test before my family was subjected to such horror! The second was just because I wanted more.
Readings: I read this article in the New York Times a while ago and wanted to post about it, but I didn’t get around to it. It’s called “Is Sugar Toxic?” by Gary Taubes and addresses the link between processed sugar and their negative impact on the body. I have thought about trying to go cold turkey to eliminate as much sugar as possible from my diet, but that isn’t realistic for me. I just don’t work that way. I’m hoping to explore ideas and solutions through my food journal.
Thoughts: I wasn’t hungry at all. I was satisfied and really enjoyed my food.
3.  Attack Before It Attacks You (Stress management ideas)
In thinking about the brownie issue I wonder if simply letting my husband know that I only wanted to eat one might have decreased the urge to go for that second? It wouldn’t hurt to try this in the future.
4.  Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail (strategies/plans/rules we are using)
Carlos and I were out running errands and we ended up being gone longer than expected. I didn’t have any snacks on hand which is unlike me. Thus the mini Hershey’s bar eaten at my grandmother’s. She’s a bit like a candy pusher! We were there very briefly and it was like her parting gift. One for me, one for Carlos! Not good 😦
5. Girls Just Want To Have Fun! (fun non-food things we are doing)
Want to see what Carlos and I have been up to this week?

Carlos on ice!

It's just like riding a really!

Carlos starts ice skating lessons tomorrow, but he missed the first few classes so I thought it would be a good idea to try it out before his lesson. Oh my goodness so much fun! I haven’t ice skated in probably 30 years but I was quite proud of myself. I didn’t fall once. We’ve been twice since Wednesday!

Weigh in day: Week 5

I weighed in this morning as planned. I wasn’t jumping for joy by any means. I’m sort of indifferent to the scale right now.

Weigh in #5 = 161.4

Last weigh in I was 162. I think I definitely have a handle on maintenance. The whirlwind of holiday parties and December birthdays has begun and I’m just taking it one event at a time. I attended a retirement party for one of the doctors at work last week and I enjoyed a small plate of food and I passed on the cake. Tonight is a coworker’s birthday. Nurses are notorious for bringing in tons of food for any celebration. Thankfully I only work with two people on my unit. Usually we just bring a cupcake for the birthday girl or some other treat they enjoy. On my birthday the girls brought a fruit platter! I thought that was so thoughtful.

I have to say that I have the most supportive coworkers and husband when it comes to trying to lose weight. If I say no to a sweet treat or other food they never try to coerce me into eating it nor do they say things like “come on it’s just one,” or ” you have to live a little.”

Growing up we were always encouraged to eat more. Seconds were normal and portions were huge. To this day my mother will try to make me eat the last piece of something or offer seconds despite knowing how much I have struggled with my weight. I don’t think she’s trying to be malicious. I just think she is set in her ways and to her offering food and nourishment is somehow equated to offering love and caring..

I received an email the other day from Amanda, a graduate student at Clark University. She is doing a study about people who experience a spouse trying to sabotage their efforts to eat healthier. Fortunately for me I don’t fit the criteria to participate in the study because my husband does not exhibit sabotaging behaviors, but she has asked me to pass the information along in hopes of possibly finding others who might be able to take part in the study. The following is from the email Amanda sent to me:

While it’s hard losing weight on your own, it’s not necessarily easier with a spouse or partner.  Sometimes partners/spouses undermine weight loss through acts like complaining about healthier food, gifting high-caloric foods, or even through abusive language/acts.  I’m creating an anonymous, online survey to assess for partner undermining and to learn more from those who experience it.  To be eligible to take the survey, participants need to have experienced this in their current relationship (of at least the past 2 years), and have been participating in a weight loss program for the past 5 consecutive weeks.  For more info, you can check out or Google PUBS-WL.

 Also, here’s a link describing my study on a blog post by an obesity medicine doctor, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff:

I’d really appreciate your help spreading the word about my survey as I think this is a very worthwhile and important study that could help health care professionals better understand their patients’ barriers to weight loss.

Thank you in advance for your help,

        Amanda G. Harp, M.A.
        Doctoral Candidate
        Clinical Psychology
        Clark University
        Worcester, MA

If anyone reading this might be able to help or might know of somebody who could help Amanda please email her or link to the study. According to the informational page the survey should take no more than 45 minutes and it is completely anonymous. There is also an opportunity to enter a drawing for $100 if you participate in the study.

I know there are so many people out there trying to live a healthier lifestyle but they have a difficult time leaving behind old habits because the people around them are still engaging in the behaviors. I know that only I can lose the weight, but it sure is nice to know that I have support from the people I’m around the most especially my husband.