Thursday, December 29, 2011

Here we are, finally!

It is, it is 2012! Ok, close your eyes, take a deep breath, SEE? HERE WE ARE! 2012!

Now that I made it to another year, I want to continue on the trend I set for myself in 2011. No, not the whining and struggling part, the let's do something constructive to make things better part! Knowing that I'm an all or nothing kind of person, I have to be careful not to overload myself with impossible goals, and unmaintainable routines, because I want to reset my routine, not burn myself out in 2 weeks.

As I explained in my previous post, I've come to the realization that I have been putting too much emphasis in the process over the last year or two (or 3) and not enough on actual realistic, manageable goals. So, I set 2 main goals for the year 2012:

  1. I want to lose 10 lbs, and then maintain the loss
  2. I want to build up my cardio endurance

Neat! There! I've got goals! Now what? Hum, I lost 70 lbs in 2002-2003, losing 10 lbs should be a breeze right? Well, it's not that simple. When I lost 70 lbs, I went from eating 95% junk food, and a ton of it, to eating healthy foods, and paying attention to how much I was eating. In the process I discovered new foods, learned how to cook, and really went from college junk to California foodie. Tofu anyone?

Summer 2002 I got married, moved to the US and was ready for a new life.
Now it's another story. Barring a few exceptions, everything I eat is pretty much whole foods, I don't eat in excess really (if you put aside the occasional bread attack), and, though I still love to cook, it doesn't have this great discovery feel that it used to have. Honestly, I'm pretty much cooking the same easy things over and over again. In other words, I do not have a great revolution to do, at this point it's all about the tiny little adjustments here and there rather than "learning to eat" all over again. I find myself a little at a loss sometimes about where I should start.

Summer 2010, I was in shape, I was focused, I was busy!
Activity-wise it's pretty much the same thing. When I decided to get in shape in 2002, I was starting from nothing. I was taking the bus to go from the Ross on 17th (I think) and Geary to get home at the corner of 23rd and Geary. No jokes!  I started with belly dancing and then I added pilates, yoga, then I rediscovered weights. Love!

After years of working out, and lifting weights I'm in shape. I've worked with a trainer for months (Laura at the Richmond YMCA, don't let her angelic face fool you, she can work the snot out of you, never losing her big engaging smile) and maintained a sort of routine since, but I'm just going through the motions. Even worse, I'm just doing the exercises I like to do. Which is to say that I'm doing the easy ones, which really are those I don't need all that much. The ones I really need, I do rarely and become really sore, so I don't do them again for a while. Brilliant!

Fall 2011, trying to hang on, but parties occurred... 
I have the know-how, I know more about nutrition and physical activity than most people I know. Not only I've been on this journey or over 9 years, but I'm a nerd. I love to find, learn and discover new things. I certainly do not know everything there is to know about nutrition and activity, but I've reached a level of knowledge where to go further I feel I have to get very serious and scientific about it. It's not so much a hobby, it has become "work". I think that might be the root of my problem. This has all become too serious to me, too involved. I keep telling my members that it's important to make this fun, enjoyable, but to me planning dinner becomes a humongous chore of researching the perfect spice, the perfect amount of proteins, wait, isn't that too much carbs? If I'm planning a work out, I have to make sure to balance each group muscle, how many reps for maximal efficiency? Should I add a set? Or raise the weights?

Taking care of myself is a priority to me. I need to be in shape, I need to look good, I need to feel good. I do not want to be a burden for my husband in the not so distant future. I want to be able to hit the beach with my dog and be able to wear my swimsuit without second guessing myself, and take off the leash without thinking "If she runs, will I be able to keep up?". That's what I'm doing this for: for health, for vanity, for confidence. I'm not shooting to compete at any level. I'm not trying to be an anorexic looking model. I'm not even working for a number.

I want to be healthy, to look good and to have the stamina and energy to enjoy life to its fullest.
So there! Now with that in mind, I need to start somewhere. So how do I break this all down?

January Goal: I want to lose 3 lbs, and build my cardio to 30 minutes full speed (I know "full speed" sounds vague, but it's precise to me).

My "tracking week" starts on Sunday, so I'm starting right on the 1st!

Week 1 of January: 

  • Food: I will track all week. 
  • Activity: I will either get up early and work out, or I will take a lift with Dan (we have a deal) to the gym when he leaves for work.

Food: I've been tracking purty good actually, but that's always where I start. Tracking grounds me and shows me where the little "oopsies" are hiding. Then I can work them out or work them in, depending on what they are.

Activity: This is all about accountability! If I have a deal for Dan to give me a lift, I can't spend all morning saying "oh I'll go later. Ideally, I'll get up at 5:15-5:30 to hit the gym when it opens at 5:45. Realistically, I've been known to snooze for over an hour... So there, if I do I'll get a "You getting ready? I need to leave for work in 5 minutes". Pride, has gotten me in trouble often enough, might as well put it to good use right?

These goals are simple, and really not that difficult to achieve, and that's the point. Breaking big overwhelming goals into small simple and very attainable ones gets me going. Once I'm on a roll, I'm pretty unstoppable, but getting started really is a bitch. Is this the right way to go? I don't know. Ask me again in December 2012. It's my way though, it has worked in the past, we'll see if it works for me still.

I have long term, mid term and short term goals. I have the realization that I need to keep this simple and enjoyable, rather than serious, scientific and complicated. I have a wonderful husband, friends and family that makes this all worth it.

You know what else? I have the firm belief that I really absolutely can make this happen. I have the strength, I have the knowledge, I have the health and I have the support. C'mon really? Stop whining and get going!

Be good n stuff!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not Resolutions GOALS

Yup, that's my focus this year, setting goals and achieving them. "Duh!" You say? "How did you figure that out Sherlock?" You ask? Well, I know it's a bit from the Captain obvious book, but somehow I managed to forget about that goal thing while I was putting all my efforts on the process. 

It's a weird thing to maintain a lifestyle for a long period of time. You have phases where you do very well, you have phases where you just don't have to think about it "This is how I live now" and there are phases where you just do it all wrong, and just can't seem to get it right. I feel like I've gone from one to another in rapid succession all through 2011. How tiring!

I know what I have to do: Plan ahead so that I can be prepared to cook my meals (instead of eating junk, or ordering out), work out regularly, keep track of what I'm doing, limit the treats... I know all about it, I know how to do it, I enjoy doing it even, so why is it so complicated? I know how, but do I know why anymore?

Losing weight for me was easy. Hate me if you will, I can live with that, but I'm an all or nothing kind of person, and on short term, I can deal with pretty much anything. I was very VERY strict about my eating while I was losing weight, I also was working out minimum 1 hour per day every day, including high intensity cardio for at lest 30 minutes each day. Of course I was also in my late 20s, which made it easier for my body to take the torture I was putting it through at the gym every day. Now I'm a little older, soon to be 38, and I find it difficult to hit the gym with that kind of an intensity.

This summer, I decided that my goal was to be able to do 1 pull up. At first I said by September 1st, then by December 31st, well it's the 26th, and it's not happening. I think the problem lies in the fact that I really don't care about a pull up anymore. I don't see that as being worth the effort. I like lifting weights, but more because of how it changes my body rather than because of the actual number of pounds I can lift. I guess to me that is never going to be impressive no matter what. So there, the numbers game isn't cutting it anymore, so what? What is it that would REALLY make it worth it to me to rebuild my dying routine? What could I work for, that would make it worth it to get up early in the morning to do cardio? What could make it worth getting back to the gym to lift weights? Carry the gear, wash all the work out clothes?

I need to lose 5 lbs, I want to lose 10. I need to build up my cardio in a big way (so lame). One day I would like to do that pull up, but I got to lose the weight first. I want my flat belly back!!

If I really focus on losing that 10 lbs, and building my cardio, the rest should fall into place right? Of course I can't stop lifting, I will lose what I worked so hard to build, but maybe it can be "part of my routine" as opposed to being the sole focus of my routine. At least for the first part of the year. The thing with cardio is that the more I do it, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. Ideally I'd be doing cardio every day.

Maybe I can start with a more reasonable schedule and build from that? Tuesday morning is laundry morning. So no working out early there. Thursday is usually my sleep in day (until 7!) because I work Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Hum... I could hit the gym early on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, which just so happen are my husband's work out morning too. I bet if I ask nicely, he'd be more than happy to drop me off at the gym, or even better, make coffee and breakfast while I work out? How motivating to know that if I'm out early enough, I'll have breakfast waiting for me when I come back?

Speaking of which, if I want to lose 10 lbs, I'll have to start planning ahead better. We're already well on our way there though. We've had long talks about starting to cook ahead like we used to do. Make dinner with tomorrow's lunch in mind. We've been pretty good with that as a general rule, but just got a little lazy this fall with all the celebrating going on. Grains and vegetables are back on the menu and that's a good thing because we both love them!

I'm putting all this down to realize, and demonstrate, that once you have something to work for, once you really figure out what it is that you want to achieve, putting together a plan is a lot easier. I don't really care about doing a pull up anymore, so really having that as a goal isn't helping me in any way. Knowing that I really want to lose 10 lbs though, and build my cardio permits me to put my focus in the right direction. If I care enough about the end result, I WILL find a way. The trick is to find the end result that is that meaningful to me, and acknowledging that it might change, and that my once all powerful goal really doesn't mean anything anymore. How weird...

In 2012, I will lose 10 lbs (and then maintain the loss) and I will build up my cardio to the point of being able  to make my elliptical work out 60 minutes at my normal speed. What about you? What goal is worthy of your efforts in 2012?

Be good n stuff!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sooooooo... well... *look around guiltily*

Truth be told, Sunday's weigh in, which initiated my little burst of indignation, was following a friend's call for support in her own effort to get back "on track". Call which I gladly took, first and foremost because I really do care for her a lot and would do pretty much anything to help her out, but also because I had a feeling that my own lifestyle was slightly slipping. Not badly mind you, I'm too good for that, just thought that here and there, I was slowly adding a snack or two which wasn't the most effective way to stay on track.

With that in mind, I stepped on the scale expecting my weight to be on the high edge of my usual maintenance range, a sort of "get your ass back in the game" kind of weigh in. Surprise, surprise! I was past a number which I hadn't seen in months if not years. Nothing horrible, I have lost 70 lbs and am nowhere near getting even close of maybe gaining it back, but high enough to make me weigh in 4 times in a row. "That cannot be right..." It was!

So I got angry, I got depressed, and then I got myself a plan! I trotted out my tracker and got busy! Here's what my tracker looks like:

The black line in there is a desk calendar plastic
corner I use to hold my page.

It's a Moleskin which I paid entirely too much for, but it's perfect for what I want to do:

  • It opens on the short side, making it easier to open and to keep open.
  • Pages are big, so I can use the recto for tracking, and the verso of the previous day to make notes, write recipes, detail my work out, or make shopping lists.
  • It's hard cover, so writing on the go is easier both on the recto and the verso.
  • There's an elastic band that keeps it closed, and that I also use to keep my pen close by.
  • It's very thin, doesn't overtake my purse.
  • There's a little pocket in the back where I can keep my gym schedules.
  • It's very nice and sophisticated looking (or was when I got it, it's getting beaten up).

So there! It is big, it is expensive for a notebook, but it works for me!

Tracking is not only a way to "stay on track" for me, but it's a way to really slow me down and force me to think about what I am doing. Do I really need this? Am I eating it because I'm hungry? Or because I'm bored?

People who do not have compulsive tendencies will not understand how important monitoring your behaviors is, how actually relaxing and healing it feels to know what you are doing, and how it impacts you directly. It's not a headache for me to monitor myself, it's a freeing experience. I know what I'm doing, I know where I go wrong, and I can easily adjust if needed.

When I'm not tracking, I don't know. I feel like I'm doing everything right, and nothing is working. How frustrating is that? I'm working out like a fiend, but I'm not improving. Worst, I go directly from being overly strict to I don't give a falala, back to being super strict and it goes back and forth with food and activity until I end up hurting myself at the gym, or eating my way through an entire box of crackers. Not a good outcome.

There's a "reset moment" of when I sit down and prepare my tracker for the week. Because I use a notebook, I prepare each tracking page for the coming week on the weekend, so that I have it nice and ready. Having to put everything together could be an excuse to not track. Then all I have to do is fill the blanks. Easy easy!

Today I'm home, so I'm eating fewer (and bigger)
snacks and meals.

Having that extra page for notes, recipes, or whatever I want to write about is very helpful. Often I put together a recipe on the spur of the moment, and it turns out delicious, writing it down in my tracker permits me to count it accurately, but also to do it again, or to blog about it later without forgetting anything.

There's a work out plan and 2 recipes there. Both
delicious I must say!

Like anything else, it's not about perfection, it's about persistence. Some days I track every single bit as they happen, and detail every single morsel. Some days, not so much. I know that if I track what I eat and what I do, I am happier, more relax, more in control. I am successful and motivated. Sounds like a good reason to keep tracking doesn't it?

I lost 70 lbs, in less than 9 months by tracking every bit, every piece, every sip, every move. It works for me, that's all I need to know.

Be good n stuff!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Ok, weighed myself this morning, and not at all happy with what I saw. Really? Really? I'm up again? I worked hard, I took gym classes, I cooked, I avoided many goodies, I snacked on fruits. WTF?!

Been there? Doesn't matter if its true, please tell me you have! You feel like you've done everything right, in rough waters, you have avoided the big reefs and stayed on course, and yet, the destination is nowhere in sight. How frustrating is that?

Thing is, I didn't track, so I can't show the proof of my righteousness. I can't whine about this, because I got no proof, so I'd be met (rightly) with "Yeah, riiiight, you did everything perfect, you probably forgot a few things along the way..." That answer, which I give freely, pisses me off. Who do you think I am? I'm no newbie at this, I've been doing this for 9 years! It's not like I don't know what I'm doing. The nerve!

I know I snacked a lot, I know this, but I snacked on fruits 90% of the time! I DID eat 3 full bags of green grapes in 3 days, along with a few banana and apples, but it's fruits, It doesn't count! The other times chips occurred, but that was only like 3 times... I don't think I ate that much, well there was that one bag that I pretty much ate by myself, but I didn't eat the WHOLE thing.

I also know we brought sandwiches stuff in once, and they didn't have our regular little rolls, so we had the Pugliese instead (you know the ones you have to bake a little? So delicious! I always eat a whole huge one, which is why we don't get them usually). We did eat out quite a bit this week but I was careful. Breakfast in Sausalito, I had an egg white omelet (with avocado, tomato and bacon, so good!), sushi, we cut down our usual sushi feast to one less roll (usually we pig out for sushi!) so we had a lot, but it could have been worst. Friday we had Indian and I ate only half of my Channa Masala! I didn't have cucumber salad though, so I had rice.

Yesterday was "system D" day which comes from Mom's house. "D" stands for "debrouille toi" which is figure yourself out. So System D means, everybody figure out something to eat for themselves. So lots of wraps, canned soup and leftovers all tinkered together.

So that's my week, add in a cookie or two that we shared at Cafes... oh and a few lattes (it was a rough week) and Friday I had quite a big lunch between meetings, and I also hit the WW snacks pretty good at work... Oh and I had that brownie Friday while waiting for Dan to pick me up, forgot about that. *sigh*

The worst part of all this is that had I tracked as I went along I would have realized that avoiding "worst fare" didn't make what I was actually eating healthy. It's like saying "Being punched in the face shouldn't hurt because you didn't get hit by a truck". The more I look back on my week, the more I realize that I'm lucky I'm not up more.

I was right, I am no newbie at this, newbies aren't generally confident enough to get cocky, and to assume that they are above having to follow the basic rules because they don't need them. I've been at this about 9 years, and I still have to do the work. How annoying!

Alright girl, swallow your pride, take that tracker out and get going. You know what to do, you know how to do it, but if you don't do follow the program, it will not work. Who's with me?

Be good n stuff!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Simple Basics

So, I have more time on my hands right now, and at first that was freaking me out a little. What am I going to do? Well, I did start with a major clean up of my apartment, and that felt GREAT! now, I realize that I need to set myself straight also!

Funny thing is, my work out routine has been on the fritz for a while, and I was blaming the lack of time. Well, lately I've had plenty of time and still I couldn't find the time to get to the gym. Here's my problem, I have come to the point where going to the gym means researching and planning my work out, getting to the gym, finding the needed equipment, doing a full work out, putting everything away, shower, clothes make up... That's like 2+ hours. Even with a lot of free time, who wants to spend that much time on working out?

This week I had plans on doing a class every day, well that didn't happen either. The classes I do like were at inconvenient times and well... I started well, I did a fabulous Yoga class at the Richmond District Y Monday morning. I did push a little though, and Tuesday I was too sore to work out.

Wednesday I had a meeting at noon, and one at 5, so I decided to head to the Stonestown Y in between. Now, I was surprised by the level of testosterone I found in the weight room. Grunting loudly, dropping the weights loudly with every set, Dude, you're at the Y, deflate a little bit.

Finally, after 20 minutes of intense weight work, I couldn't take it anymore, and went upstairs thinking that my decent work out was blown. Not so! I decided to hit the elliptical for some cardio. I hadn't done that in ages, choosing to take my cardio outdoors, and wouldn't you know it, I had a blast! 30 minutes of pushing as much as I could. I got out of there all noodle-y and hyper. My poor members! Like I'm not hyper enough already!

This morning, somebody got up late and didn't have time to walk the dog. Mind you, it was raining. I admit I was the one who campaigned to get a dog, promising I would take care of it, but it was RAINING! So, I got dressed and walked the dog.

As we were walking, it stopped raining, and quite frankly, it was beautiful out there, so I extended the walk and went to the produce market a few blocks away. I didn't do anything major, but got a bunch of basics thinking I would make a vegetable soup in the crockpot to eat and freeze and you know... it's been a while, so I did!

It looks like it's only cabbage (Napa cabbage that is) but actually there is zucchini, yellow squash, onion, shallot, broccoli.. whatever I could find! :o)

So, i made my soup, and then I realized it was lunch time and I had nothing to grab. Ooops! So I took my cutting board back out, dug in the cabinet, and made a Lobster Desperation Soup!

It was tasty, satisfying, and very much "my" kind of food. My husband isn't really a seafood lover, he will eat fish, but shellfish is beyond this Missouri boy's comfort zone. Every time I make myself such food, I feel like it's very exclusively mine for some reason.

Ok, so I know you are thinking, there is nothing outstanding in all this. Why are you blogging about it? Because it's been quite a long time since I've felt so in control and effortlessly "on plan". I'm eating right, I'm moving, I am satisfied with my meals, and not in the least worried about my next weigh in. I can be "on plan" any time. I know how to do it, and I can always make it work somehow, but I was missing that feeling of "this is just what I do" as opposed to "I have to do this". Does that even make sense?

I think it's not so much about having time, but rather about keeping it simple and uncomplicated. You don't have to cook gourmet food to have lunch, you don't have to have a pro training to hit the gym. I tend to forget that sometimes.

Be good n stuff!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Leftovers Magic

One thing I've gotten really good at lately is recycling food. I can do anything with pretty much any leftovers.

The last few days, I have been cleaning house; not just vacuuming, but rather going through papers, books, clothes (and next is the kitchen AH!), and I have been too busy to cook really. So last night we decided to order food, only I'm in a phase where I just don't want to eat junk. I had a huge junk food phase, but now I'm totally over it. I want to eat real food! So we ordered Indian food. We both love it, it's moderately healthy, 2 blocks away, and they deliver (oh shut up! It was raining!) we still do that (too) often, but now we've learned to order with leftovers in mind so we feel a little more righteous about it.

Last night I ordered tandoori chicken and a cachumber salad. Now at Great India, you can order a full tandoori chicken (mind you it's a rather anorexic one) for only a few more dollars than you pay for half, so I always do that with leftovers in mind. Tandoori comes with sliced onions and bell pepper which I rarely eat. Last night I decided to save those and pack them separately from the chicken in the fridge.

Today I'm home, so I trotted out the veggies, and sauteed them in a saucepan a little bit, added the little spicy hot condiments that they send along with the samosa (it's chile-onion chutney something), I added some frozen chopped bell pepper, and cooked that some more, about a minute, then added the chicken and 1 cup (or so) of chicken broth. I brought it all to a boil, and cooked for about 1 1/2 minute. Doesn't that look delicious?

The smooth taste of the Tandoori along with the freshness of the peppers and the spiciness of that little chile-onion condiment is a perfect blend. It was truly delicious, not to mention that it was about 5 minutes from start to finish. Cook thing is I still have another meal worth of Tandoori chicken in the fridge!

Added note: I made this post yesterday afternoon and last night I used the rest of the Chicken Tandoori by throwing it in the Butternut Squash and Chickpea Curry which I made for dinner. Proteins baby! Look it up on the Recipes Blog!

I also do a mean soup with leftover Chana Masala and vegetables, I'll have to share that in a future post.

I think my cleaning/organizing frenzy is helping me and not only by making my apartment nicer to live in. It's like hitting a reset button. Reclaiming my place, my time and my life. Out of the blue, I want to cook again, I want to be a mad scientist in my kitchen and mix things up and see what happens. This is a slow tame start, but it IS a start! Hang on, most to come in the next few weeks!!

Be good n stuff!

The Rebirth of the Lifestyle Blog

Hi world, it's been a while right?

This blog has been dormant since 2009, and since then my bloggitivity has been focused on my Weekly Note, the blog I keep for my members at Weight Watchers. As I am taking a step back from Weight Watchers (not quitting! just slowing down a bit), I realize that I feel once again the need to connect to the world as an adventurer rather than as a Weight Watchers leader.

So, I'm hoping to start sharing my adventures and discoveries in the world of healthy living in San Francisco on this blog.

There are all sorts of sub-blog attached to this, and a few more attached to my Weekly Note blog. Hopefully I can keep them all straight, and I'll find time to keep them all going.

Ok, I'm a smidgen intimidated, but I'll make it work! So keep an eye out, I'm baaaack!

Be good n stuff!