Monday, February 28, 2011

My Jar of Rocks

I love having visual reminders of things. I just like having something tangible that I can see - probably the reason for all of my notebooks and why I do so well keeping up with my food journal.

I've been thinking about ways I could make my weight loss tangible so that I can not only see my progress but have a reminder out and about in my apartment to always be mindful.

So I came up with this:

It's just a gallon size mason jar that I bought at a craft store filled with decorative rocks. There were many different styles and options to choose from for the glass jar so I just picked what would look good in my apartment. Same goes for the rocks. The craft store had tons of different rocks and beads - all with different colors and sizes and levels of sparkle.

I want to lose 40 pounds so I filled the jar with 400 rocks. Each rock represents .1 lb so every Thursday when I weigh myself, I will take out the appropriate number of rocks from the jar until the jar is empty!

I've also been toying with the idea of doing the opposite- you know, filling an empty jar with the pounds I lose. We'll see.

The jar sits on the breakfast bar that separates my kitchen from the living area - I chose colors that match my decor so to the naked eye, it's just a nice decorative piece. But when I go into the kitchen to cook something, it's sitting right smack dab in front of me. A nice little reminder that what I do in the kitchen will affect how many wonderful rocks I get to take out at WI - because I do NOT want to add anymore to it.

And speaking of WI - it was today. I lost .8 lbs so that means:

I got to take 8 out!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Contract

My best friend and I are both in the market to lose some weight this year. We've both been on the getting healthy journey for years now and we both had some major setbacks in 2010. I had my out of commission injury and the stresses that come with that and she discovered she has aversions to foods and has had to COMPLETELY overhaul her diet. On top of that we both had some very emotional, stressful situations with our respective families as well as jobs. 2010 definitely was not a banner year. Also, I personally feel as if I've not been "in the game" since June of 2010 (that's when my injury occurred). I'm trying to find my way back and making progress but I'm not there yet.

So after a lengthy discussion on IM (as we live literally on opposite sides of the country) we decided enough was enough. 2011 was going to be the year we finished. Because you know what, we're tired! We're tired of thinking about it, wishing for it and TALKING about it. We just want to get there and start the next phase of our lives.

Which brings me to: the contract. I don't know how it started but all I know is that after our IM discussion I wrote a contract. It's pretty severe too. There are penalties and promises and dates and exact number amounts. It's a 2 parter actually. The first part of the contract ends July 1, 2011 and the second half takes us to November. Anyway, the first half of the contract indicates how much we want to lose by July 1 and what happens if we don't. Long story short, money will exchange hands, egos will be deflated :)

We signed this contract February 11, 2011 which was exactly 20 weeks from July 1, 2011. My goal is 20 pounds. Hard? Yes. Doable? Absolutely. The thing is 2 days after I commit and sign this thing, I got my sickness. The same sickness that is still around some 2 weeks later.

I'll be honest, I'm a little discouraged and anxious at the "waste of time" but there's nothing I can do. I can't get that time back. I can only move forward. I mean, in all honesty, it's going to happen again. Whether it's another cold, or headache, or bruised appendage, something will happen in my life to throw me off course. To make me miss a workout or forget to pack a lunch or not be prepared. Part of the journey is learning how to deal with the twists and turns. Learning how to adapt. Because if I stop at every single hurdle that comes at me during the next 18 weeks, then I WILL fail.

And failure is not an option. I'm on a very specific saving plan this year and having to hand over money will throw me off course :)

Also, I hate failing - to a fault.

Also, don't forget I'm still in the midst of my most recent 30 day goal. I wanted to lose 4 pounds which, consequently, would put me right on track for my July 1st deadline. However, things didn't go according to plan. Not gonna stress, it is what it is. I'm up .8 pounds. I have 16 days left for my 30 days to lose 4 pounds (well, 4.8 pounds) and I'm going to do everything I can to move closer to that goal.

Yes, I got sick but it doesn't mean I can't get right back into eating at my calorie goal and exercising.

So today's goal is to eat 1200 - 1300 calories and take a walk on my lunch break.

And I'm going to go take care of that walk right now.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


*** I wrote this days ago while having a fever apparently because I don't remember much of this :)

Sickness has struck. It was running rampant through my office and I held out as long as possible. I actually think I'm the last person to get it.

Needless to say, it's been a rough, rough week. Before it started to hit, I was a workout machine! Ok, so I was working out with purpose, eating well and even my steps were good. I'll get back to that but I'm aware that my body is going to take some time to heal.

In the meantime, if I can't workout like I want, I'm going to have to be extremely conscious of what I'm eating. The first two days of the sickness didn't produce such great results. I was miserable, laid out on the couch, hurting all over and easy food was well within my reach. I just couldn't bring myself to cook all the healthy food I had bought for the week. Also, my sweetheart bought me the most wonderful valentine sweets :) Have no fear though, I have since rejoined the bandwagon.

***** Yeah, I apparently wrote all of that while still pretty sick because I had no idea it was in here waiting to be published. It's all true though.

I'm still out of the workout loop because I'm just plain tired and I have chest congestion which is causing me to hesitate on my heavy cardio routine. I'm going to definitely try tomorrow as it's Friday and I feel safe trying it out as I can sleep in on Saturday and not worry about a bad night's sleep.

On top of the horrible sickness that is in its 12th day (however, diminishing nicely) I have been having problems with one of my wisdom teeth. I never got them out and one of them decided to cut its way on through this past week. I have to be honest, I have never experienced pain like this in my life. I was horrified at how much it hurt and STILL hurts. It started LAST Tuesday and while it is relinquishing its hold on me it is a slow, slow process. What once was a stabbing murderous pain has softly turned into a burning, ripping pain. I don't care who you are neither one of those are fun. If this is what happens to babies when they teethe I say scream away. Scream til the world can't take it anymore. It's horrendous.

And yes, I'm going to the dentist. I made the appointment the day after the pain started and I still have another week to go. Don't you just love insurance and their rules!?! So convenient and helpful to the masses.

I can't wait til the day when all pain is gone. No coughing, no sneezing, no stuffy nose, no PAIN IN MY MOUTH. Oh sweet day, please hurry.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Step by Step

So I've been toying with the idea of getting a Bodybugg. A girl in my office has one and tells me I should get it. I, of course, took to the internet to read as many reviews as I could about it. My main concern was that it calculates your RMR based on what's normal for your weight and height and I know that my RMR is not normal.

I found examples of people who, like me, had a lower than normal RMR and they said you just had to mentally be aware of it and make the necessary changes because you can't actually set your own personal number even if you have had it tested. I don't know. I figure if I spend a couple hundred bucks on something I want it to be able to just do what it's supposed to without any fiddling from me. Also, I don't know how I feel about wearing something on my arm all the time. On one hand, it would be a constant reminder to make good choices. On the other hand, it would be a constant reminder and would probably create a monster. I would probably obsess over the numbers and the logging. Not that that's a bad thing but sometimes I already think I think too much about everything.

Along with the Bodybugg there are many other products out there that do sort of the same thing (GoWear, Exerspy, FitBit, etc.). Again, I'm hesitant because everything is mathematically set for individuals who fall within that normal metabolic range. If I was +/- 5% I think I'd go for it but at -18% it's just too big of a stretch for me to toy with.

So after long consideration I chose to go the old fashioned route. I've kept a food diary for years. I have little notebooks strewn about that have several years worth of my calorie intake, my exercise/calories burned and my weigh in numbers. I'm meticulous like that. Sometimes I go back through them just to get ideas of foods to make. When I feel like I've cooked everything in existence, I go back and usually find a recipe or two that I've forgotten about. It's nice actually.

Last week I took out some of my notebooks. I think I took about a year and half worth and I made an excel spreadsheet with all the data. I added, I subtracted, I averaged and I saw patterns. At one long stretch in the data, I was in heavy exercise mode. I was in the midst of training for a big road race so I was running tons and cross training even more. I would do two workouts a day at times. And I noticed that even though I was burning more calories than ever, I was losing only about a .5 pound a MONTH. The one piece of information that was missing was that I had yet to get my RMR tested. So when I ran the data, I realized that even though I was eating within a calorie range that was completely appropriate by normal standards, it was way too much for me.

Month after month, I ran the numbers and they all told me the same thing. I finally found my number. I found that 1450-1500 calories is what I can eat to maintain my weight. I have no idea why I never thought to do this before. So, now that I had the number, I had to find a way to create a deficit. Well, there are 2 options: eat less and exercise more. In the end, I opted to eat in the 1200-1300 range and exercise enough to burn 500 calories a day. If my math is correct, I should ideally lose between 1 - 1.5 pounds a week. Well, I SHOULD lose that but we all know that the body has a mind of it's own.

So now it's a matter of being honest about calorie intake (measure, measure, measure).

**Oh and fun fact, don't trust nutrition labels. It's horrible I know. But if you buy one of those digital food scales and measure a food item (do it on grams) and compare it to the nutrition label on the packaging, it's different. For instance, a label may say a serving of one slice of bread equals 90 calories. Well, at the top it tells you that a serving is 46 grams. If you actually weigh that slice of bread, chances are it's not going to say 46 grams. I've done it and one slice weighed more by a couple of grams. So, when you think that you're eating 90 calories, you could really be eating 98 calories. I know 8 calories isn't much but if you add up all your food intake for a month, it could potentially throw you off.

End rant.

And counting my calories burned. For my exercise calories I've always used a Heart Rate Monitor when I exercise so I use that information for calories burned.

Also, I recently went out and bought the most fantastic thing ever. I bought a pedometer. I had no idea how much I would love this little thing that cost me $10. I wear it all the time. Even after I get home and change into my PJs, I clip it back on. It's a game now. I want to get in as many steps as possible. I used to think that I moved around a lot at work. I actually don't. I realize that I like to use my assistant to do most of my walking for me. Now, I do it myself because it adds up. I aim for 10,000 steps/day which is actually pretty hard to reach. In any case, I love my pedometer. I'm already on my second one. The first I lost at the gym. It was very frustrating. I had just finished a really, really good run/walk and I had made a point not to look at it so I would be surprised by my progress. But by the time I got to the locker room and reached to take it off - POOF - it was gone. I went back and scanned the area but to no avail. It's ok because by the end of the night I had pedometer #2 in my hot little hands. Hey, it was $10 I wasn't that crushed. In fact, I like my second pedometer much better because it's smaller.

So yeah, instead of the fancy device, I'm going to try it old school and see what happens. I'm going to give it a couple of months on my plan and then run some numbers again and see what happens.

In the meantime, I'm only at 645 steps for the day so I better get crackin'.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

30 days to what?

I had so many intentions when I started this blog. I wanted to change so many things in 30 days. My finances, my weight, my eating habits, my exercise habits, my relationships, procrastination skills, social activities - the list goes on and on.

However, when I think about it there is only one thing that I really want to work on this year. Ok, that's not entirely true. When I obsess, I obsess mainly about 2 things.

My health and my finances.

It's true. One of my favorite pastimes is scouring the internet for information on money, savings, retirement, investing, and debt reduction. The other is looking for information about health and fitness. I can say with confidence that it can and does take up most of my free time. I absolutely love it.

So that being said, I'm not going to concern myself with the millions of other topics that I WILL eventually one day get to. Because right now, I want to focus on these two topics that I LOVE. In 2011, I'm going to spend all my 30 days worth on my health and my finances.

I want to lose 40 pounds this year. That's a big number and it will require hard work. Hard, hard work but I want to do it. So, any challenges I do for my health will probably center around getting me to that finish line.

As for my finances, I have two very specific goals in mind. First, I am in the process of building my emergency savings. For me that's 3-6 months worth of living expenses. As of right now, I'm at the 3 month mark but by the end of the year, I want to be at the 6 month mark. Second, I want to make a dent in my student loans.

You see, student loans have been looming over me for some 10 years now. It's truly my last great obstacle. I chose to go to school not once but TWICE. And after the second go 'round, I moved to Los Angeles where it took months and months of hard work to land my first job in entertainment. And after that, it took years and years and years of hard work to work my way up. And in the meantime, I accrued a lot of credit card debt and a lot of capitalized interest on my student loans. In February of 2010, I made my last payment to the credit card companies and now all that is left between me and a sweet debt-free lifestyle are 4 monstrous student loans. So this year, I want to rework my budget to start chipping away at it. I've got a plan in place but I've got to be set for the long haul. TEN YEARS long haul. If I can just get year one (2011) out of the way then we're getting somewhere.

I guess all that's left is to say what I'm going to do w/ my first 30 days of 2011.

Ok, in the next 30 days I am aiming to:

Health: lose 4 pounds. Very general, very broad, I know but it's what I want to do.

Finances: make ONE extra payment towards a student loan - I know this doesn't sound difficult but trust me, it's going to sting. A lot.

End Date:
March 11
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30 Days to ... by JH is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.