Archive of ‘health & wellness’ category

Mid-Summer Update on our Weight Loss Competition

Seven weeks ago J and I agreed to participate in a summer weight loss challenge — a friendly competition to see who can lose the most weight by September 2nd. And y’all the stakes are high. We are halfway through the competition, so I thought I’d give a little mid-summer update on how we’re faring. Here goes….

IMG_1480This is the only active photo I have of J and me. I know, you just saw it from our Boston trip. I gotta work on taking more photos.

WHO IS IN THE LEAD:

J, of course. Who is surprised in a weight loss competition between a man and a woman, the man is winning?! I had a feeling this would happen over the course of the 15 weeks, but had no idea how fast he would lose and take the lead! On our first weigh-in, he lost five pounds! Gulp.

So far he has lost 13.8 pounds, leading with a 7% weight loss, and I’ve lost 5 pounds, 4% weight loss. We are measuring by percentage weight loss, but does it even matter at this point? There is no question who is in lead, and I’ve got some serious work to do to catch up.

Even though I am sorely lagging behind, I am still pretty pleased at how it’s going.

Food is my favorite. And eating is one of my favorite things to do with J (or anyone, really). We plan our trips and weekends around where and what we are going to eat. Our way of celebrating or commiserating with each other is through food:

You had a bad day? Let’s go get some ice cream.

You had a great day? Let’s go get some ice cream!

On top of this great love for food, losing weight is really hard for me. I don’t have the smooth metabolism some other people are blessed with, and it’s only gotten harder as I’ve gotten older. So I am pretty stinking proud I’ve been able to lose five pounds in seven weeks. That’s a big deal to me.

BUT. Enough playing around. I gotta step it up in this second half in order to even think about winning!

Since weight loss is so hard for so many, and I’m always curious to see exactly what changes people make in order to lose weight, here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been doing the last few weeks:

DIET CHANGES:

We both decided not to go on any fad diets or restrict anything major, since the real purpose is to establish healthy lifestyle, not primarily to lose weight. So we have adjusted our diets slightly, both making decisions on our own.

Breakfast: No alterations.
What I eat varies between scrambled eggs, granola with yogurt and fruit, or a protein-packed smoothie. I have a cup of coffee every morning with cream, but stopped adding sugar. J doesn’t eat breakfast, which makes me feel faint just thinking about. I would literally pass out at 10am if I didn’t have breakfast.

Lunch: No alterations.
I normally fix a smoothie and keep it in the freezer at work (if I didn’t have it for breakfast), eat a green salad with some type of protein, or eat leftovers from last night’s dinners. J eats tuna salad on Arnold bread, with crackers, apple and a Coke zero. He’s a man of routine, that one.

Snacks: Major alterations for me.
We have so.much.candy in our office, and before this challenge I would grab a piece or two every mid-morning and every afternoon. And it isn’t even good candy, just low-quality sugar. Instead, I bought a bag of good dark chocolate to keep in the fridge (at my desk is too dangerous) and limit it to one piece in the afternoon. Other snacks include: carrots with hummus, apple, and Kind bars. J doesn’t snack during the day much, so not much has changed for him.

DinnerSlight alterations.
We have been grilling a lot and paying attention to our portions. We have a green salad almost every night at home. When we do eat out, we usually check nutrition facts and order something a little healthier. At potlucks and dinners, J has been really disciplined not to snack… I could probably use some more self-discipline. Appetizers are the best!

Desserts: Major alterations.
We started this competition with a half-eaten pie in our fridge and both of us were too stubborn to finish it. I nearly cried when I threw it away, that’s how attached I am to my desserts. But in the evenings, sometimes you just need a little something sweet, you know? So we’ve been stocking up on popsicles. Not nearly as satisfying as ice cream, but they are growing on me.

Alcohol: Slight alterations for me.
I really enjoy a glass of wine after work while I cook dinner, but have cut out all alcohol unless I’m with someone else. And since J hardly ever drinks, it’s been reduced to parties and get togethers. And when I do drink (before or during the diet), two drinks is normally my max.

EXERCISE CHANGES:

We both have been working out more, although neither of us have a set schedule. We take more walks with Leia, and longer routes. I try to run two to three miles at least twice a week and go to one class at the gym a week. Some weeks that doesn’t happen, and other weeks I get more exercise in. Exercise really varies on how busy the week is!

MY PLANS FOR THE NEXT SEVEN WEEKS:

Our whole goal for this competition was to spur healthy living, and so in that regard, this competition has already been a success. But we’ve still got seven more weeks to go, and I really want to lose a little more before the end.

Diet Changes:
Originally I really didn’t want to do any fad diets or take anything out of my life, but my other friends decided to do the Whole30 Diet Challenge, so I figured it would be a good time to join and hopefully lose the last few pounds.

What is the Whole30 Diet?
Basically for 30 days you just eat real food. Nothing that has been processed or added to. This is limited to meat, vegetables, fruits and fats, and you give up all dairy, alcohol, grains and sugar for 30 days.

I started it yesterday, and am actually only doing it for 25 days because we’re going to a family reunion in August and I really don’t want to be that high maintenance in-law that is making absurd food and beverage requests. The folks at Whole30 are really strict on doing the diet for 30 days straight, but 25 days is better than zero so I’m trying not to make it a big deal.

I am reeeeeally nervous about this diet. Food is such a social thing, and I hate eliminating foods. My philosophy is everything in moderation. So the thought of giving up such a LARGE chunk of foods is really intimidating.

But I decided to do the diet for a few reasons:

  1. Prove to myself that I can. I have never given up sugar before. I’ve done the FODMAPs diet and did the Paleo for a few weeks in January, but always had access to dark chocolate. So this is going to be hard. I love sugar.
  2. Heal my stomach from digestive problems. I continue to have inconsistent stomach aches and pains. It improved being on the FODMAPs diet, but I never really could pinpoint what was causing it and hoping this will help.
  3. Improve my sleep. I do not sleep well at all. I don’t have a problem going to sleep, but it’s staying asleep. I’ll wake up between 2-4 am, sometimes going back to sleep and waiting up feeling exhausted, or never going back to sleep. It’s exhausting and I am tired of taking sleeping aids once a week to catch up.
  4. Weight loss. Obviously. :)

Exercise Changes:
I am running a half marathon in November, so I want to start training this month. Nothing too intense, but at least get into a schedule of running three to four times a week and doing yoga at least once. I also would really like to start lifting weights, but I’m a little intimidated and really don’t want to get too bulky. Anyone know of a good weight-lifting routine? I know there are thousands on Pinterest but I like personal recommendations. :)

Phew, this post has gone on for way too long.

So there’s my really long-winded update. Bravo if you made it to the end, I’ll keep you guys posted on the final results. If J didn’t lose any more weight (unlikely), I’d have to lose 5 more pounds to beat him. So if I win this competition it will be a miracle.

Have you ever done the Whole30 challenge? Any tips or recommendations?
Do you have a good weight training routine that works for you, specifically for arms? 
Who wants to come and sneak calories into J’s meals? :)

Summer Weight Loss Competition

J and I have been in a healthy-living rut as of late.

I blame the busyness. One or both of us have been out of town five of the past six weekends, and our weeknights are oftentimes filled with activities. And when life gets busy like that, the first thing to go out the window is time to exercise and well-planned meals. It’s so much easier to grab take out or throw together quick and easy (read: processed) foods.

We are the opposite of normal people and actually travel less during the summer, so we are planning to kick into high gear and lose some weight this season. With the abundance of time, fresh foods and daylight, how could we not, right?

In the past, general “let’s try to eat better and workout more” statements haven’t really helped. So this summer, we decided to up the anty and make it a competition, biggest loser style.

Biggest Loser – J vs G

The Rules:
Whoever loses the most percentage of weight by September 2nd (15 weeks from yesterday) wins. We are going to track our weight every Tuesday in a shared google document.

The Prize & Consequence:
The hardest part was coming up with the prize. Naturally, we thought about buying something, but we kind of buy whatever we want now (within reason), so it wouldn’t be a huge motivator. Then we thought about consequences for losing. That’s how we narrowed down the prize:

  • If J wins, I have to watch the first season of Battlestar Galactica with him.
  • If I win, he has to watch the six-hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice with me.
  • The loser has to wash all of the dishes in the month of October. And maybe some other chores we decide to throw in there just for fun. ;)

BSG_Season_1_DVD vs. pride-and-prejudice-1995-restored-2010-x-250

So that’s what we will be up to this summer. Neither of us have a ton to lose, but let’s just say we look a little rounder than we did in our newlywed photos. And both of us love a good friendly competition, so I am curious to see how we fare in the upcoming weeks.

Have you ever tried to do a weight loss competition with your spouse or friends? Any tips for how to beat him? ;) 

Mile A Day December

I have learned something about myself this year: I do not exercise on my own unless I have a race I paid for, a gym membership I am paying for, or a tangible goal that I have told a lot of people about. Basically, if my money or my pride are involved, I workout.

After I ran a marathon in January, I decided to give myself a two-week hiatus and then continue running to maintain my mileage up to at least five to six miles. Nothing too intense, but still a solid hour of running. Well it was cold in February and I got lazy in March and since I didn’t have to, I maxed out to three miles at a time and lost the long-distance endurance I had built.

And that’s ok — I gave myself grace. Afterall, I did run a marathon.

But slowly I’ve gotten out of the habit. I still exercise some, taking Leia for walks and running two miles or so, but it’s inconsistent and I am tired of making excuses, especially now that it’s darker and colder.

So here’s a specific tangible goal I’m sharing on here for December, in hopes that if I publicly announce it, I will do it. :) I will keep it small and manageable, because December has a way of getting really intense really fast, and leave the big goals for where they belong (the new year!).

Mile a day

The Rules:
Walk/run for one mile every day in the month of December. Whether it’s walking one mile on your lunch break, or a record-mile run, the point is to get out and move for a mile.

Why December?
Why not December?
- It’s the darkest month of the year, so all of us are Vitamin-D deficient. Getting outside for 10-20 minutes will give much-needed Vitamin D to your body.
- It’s the busiest month of the year, so taking a short time of your day to walk will relieve stress and help collect your thoughts.
- You eat the most unhealthy in December, and studies show that those who exercise even a short period of time each day are more conscious about what they eat than those who don’t. (I’m too lazy to look up the studies, but I think I’ve read at least one once a season in Shape magazine for the last ten years.)

Want to join me?
Yay! Use the hashtag #mileaday if you want to participate via social media. (Update: I just saw that Elise had the same goal! So we’ll all be doing it together.:)

What motivates you to work out? 

My Standing Desk

One of the things that really surprised me when I entered the working world is how sedentary it is. After years of walking to and from my classes in college, it was a big adjustment to sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours of the day and then come home at the end of it exhausted… only to sit in front of the TV for the remainder of the evening.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about the benefits of getting up and moving throughout the workday and the benefits of stand up desks — it increases your metabolism, improves your posture, and reduces the health risks of sitting for long periods of time.

Last November I converted to a stand up desk, and absolutely love it. A coworker of mine had one, so I decided to try it out and see if it improved my health and energy.

Would you like a peak into my office to see it? Of course you do. :)

Stand Up Desk

My “standing desk” is really just a simple desk shelf that I keep my mouse, keyboard and notepad on. I like that it’s easy to convert back to a sitting desk without changing the furniture drastically (like a lot of standing desks out there). I don’t think standing desks are for everyone, either because your work environment doesn’t allow it (aka: this would be awkward in a cubicle), or because you can’t be on your feet for long periods of time, but for me it has definitely helped, and I don’t plan on ever going back to a sitting desk.

Here are a few FAQ when I tell people I have a standing desk:

Did it take a while to get used to?
It took me about a week for my body to get used to. The first few days I came home feeling exhausted, like I do after spending a long afternoon of shopping. But by the end of the week, I noticed I had a lot more energy throughout the day, and didn’t even notice pain in my feet or back.

Does your back or your feet hurt at the end of the day?
Honestly, not at all. I’m technically not standing the whole day, but leaning against my desk and occasionally I’ll rest my foot on my chair to help transfer the weight from my feet. That has a lot less impact on my body than just freely standing.

Do you wear heels? 
I work in a corporate office setting, so I try to wear heels at least two or three times a week, and flats the other days. All of my heels are pretty comfortable (that’s one thing I don’t mind spending more money on), so it doesn’t bother me too much standing in them. However, it does start to weigh on your calves by the end of the day, so I keep a pair of cheap black flats under my desk as back-up and slip on my heels when I walk around the office. So far, so good!

Have you seen an improvement in your health?
I have! This was unexpected, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my digestive health. For the past few years, I have experienced stomach aches later in the day (read more on that here), and I really think part of the problem was eating lunch fast and then immediately sitting for the rest of the afternoon. Now that I stand, my food seems to digest easier and I have fewer stomach aches. I have also noticed my core and posture are improved.

Do you ever sit?
I sit when I am reading or editing, but try to stand whenever I use the computer. I have at least one or two meetings a day, which are all sitting around conference rooms, so I have a few breaks from standing.

What is your favorite thing about it?
I love that when I come home at the end of the day, I don’t feel guilty relaxing on the couch and putting my feet up.

Have you ever considered a standing desk?
Do you have this option at your office?
What other questions do you have? :)

PS – You may or may not find me occasionally in the tree pose behind my desk. ;)

Update: I asked my office manager and I am using the Safco Heavy Duty Desk Shelf, for those curious.



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