So Hey, We Haven’t Talked Weight Loss In A While

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I’ve been thinking about weight loss a lot lately.

I mean, I’ve been thinking about lots of other fun things too (namely: how bad ass figure skating jumps are, whether Tory Burch’s makeup is worth buying for the packaging alone, and every once in a while I just randomly think about Adam Levine because, why not?)  But the truth is,  weight loss has occupied a lot of that thought space as well.

My main thought:  I’m ready to recommit to dropping some lbs again.

A Brief History

I don’t know how long you have been around this website, but in case you are new here (or have forgotten) I’ll give you the play by play:

*In July of 2010 I was noticing some declining health trends, so I saw a naturopath who turned me on to Paleo eating. I really need to move all of these posts that I wrote for Bodies in Motivation over here (since that website is now defunct) but if you want to know my backstory to finding Paleo, that is where you’ll find it.

*In October of 2010, I finally just got over my fear and joined a CrossFit gym. Most people find CrossFit and then explore Paleo, I was sort of the other way around. My progress was instant, measurable, enjoyable, and empowering. Definitely one of the best decisions of my adult life.

*Over the next two years I lost 110 lbs like a bad habit. After I had dropped about 70lbs I wrote a series on my experience with weight loss. The Paleo/Primal framework was just about the most natural path to improved health for me, and to learn so much about my body and get my food relationship into a healthy place felt great! (My food relationship? That sounds lame. But you know what I’m saying right? That place where eating well isn’t hard, and things just feel sort of intuitive and natural. THAT’S WHAT I MEAN.) Of course I did this all in the shadows of people calling Paleo a dumb, unhealthy fad diet (which was HELLA frustrating) but I learned to get over that, thank god.

I mean our faces JUST LOOK healthier.

*In April of 2012, I decided to hide my scale. The most important contributor to successful weight loss in my opinion, is the ability to be consistent. It’s not about eating right and exercising. It’s about eating right and exercising OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It’s the consistency that will make or break you.

*I was at the lowest weight of my adult life in April of 2012 — I was 33 years old and buying clothes two sizes smaller than the dress I wore to my 8th grade graduation. EIGHTH GRADE, you guys. The smallest I had been in TWENTY YEARS. I mean wrap your brain around that. YEESH. I was a little scared to be chucking this scale — a tool that I relied on — but I felt like I maybe had a handle on things and wanted to get away from this obsession with measuring arbitrary progress.

*But I still wanted to make REALISTIC progress. I was not where I wanted to be, but I was tired of being a slave to the scale. The BEST THING I’VE EVER DONE FOR MYSELF (seriously? Yes, seriously) was to have my body composition tested. I wrote about how cathartic that was (Part One // Part Two) and holy shit, if you have ever signed up for Weight Watchers, or compared your stats to the BMI recommendations, or had a “goal weight” in number form in your head – PLEASE GO READ THAT RIGHT NOW. It was an awakening for me to understand what realistic progress was, and to reconfigure what this body composition journey would look like when it was completed successfully.

*And then somewhere in July of 2012 I hit a bit of a motivation wall. While I was the thinnest/lightest (I don’t know which word has a better connotation. LOL) and I was in a really good place with food and fitness (in fact, probably the best I had ever been) I was also really enjoying a summer filled with celebratory cocktails and some random food truck festivals.  I just sort of let my guard down about this whole weight loss thing. I had ditched the scale, I was enjoying my workouts, I tried a Whole 30 for the first time in August — I just wanted to put this whole “weight loss assignment” on pause. Does that make sense? I’m telling you, THE HARDEST and yet THE MOST EFFECTIVE part of weight loss is the consistency. And my desire to be relentless was just experiencing a little lull. :)

*This was about the time I headed out to Colorado at the end of Sept/beginning of October 2012 and spoke at a super awesome Paleo Conference with my pals Michelle and Melissa. It was so refreshing to talk about Paleo In The Real World, and I left feeling so inspired. I also left completely out of breath because OHMYGOD DOING BURPEES AT ELEVATION. YIKES. :)

*And then one month later I began interviewing for the job that I would ultimately begin in early 2013. As you know, I’ve called 2013 The Lost Year because my fitness and weight loss progress absolutely stopped. And somewhere in the middle of the year it actually ended up regressing.

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A few weeks ago I was ready to really survey the damage. If you can believe it, I have managed to mostly stay off the scale. While I knew I was backsliding last year, I also knew I wasn’t in a place to be able to do much about it so I didn’t want to beat myself up. I was working to MANAGE all my new stress and I didn’t think scale obsession would be particularly helpful.

So are you ready for the damage? Since the end of 2012, I have put on about 35lbs. GRUMBLEGRUMBLEGRUMBLE. It’s not like I didn’t know it — your clothes don’t let 35lbs slide. Your grip strength and the ability to do box jumps, pull ups, and to run with ease won’t let 35lbs slide. But THIRTY FIVE POUNDS. Whew, it was a tough pill to swallow.

What’s Next

But here’s the thing, I did just that. I just swallowed that piece of news and made no judgments about it. 35 lbs. BIG WHOOP. I’ve lost 110 before. That is a drop in the bucket, I thought. And I just continued to marinate on it to get some clarity about what I would do next.

So, am I happy about it. HELL NO I’m not happy about it, obviously. :)  But this is one of the moments where I’m inclined to just consider that awfully vague phrase: It is what it is.  It is what is is — so NOW WHAT?

What’s next is that I think I’m ready to focus on losing weight again. Eep! I’m a little bit scared even saying that, or committing to that out loud, but I think it’s time. My job is in a more manageable place now and my personal life is in a great place! So I think it’s time to recommit to this long term goal again. In all honestly, it’s a big one — I’d like to lose about 60 lbs. I don’t have a time goal, I’m happy to just give my body it’s own time, but I’m also ready to recommit to that consistency and relentlessness that a project like this requires.

It’s scary. But it’s also exciting, kind of? :) And since I’ll probably be writing about it a little more I thought I’d let y’all know. So here’s to new years, new goals, new challenges, and new body compositions, eh?

Let’s do this.

 

 

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The Lost Year

It's been almost a year since my last 5am workout. Hoping to make a habit if it because being done at 6am FEELS GREAT!

I planned to workout at 5am this morning, and when my alarm went off — well, it hurt. But I got up, put on my workout clothes that I set out the night before, made myself a cup of coffee, squeezed in a couple snuggles with the pooch, brushed my teeth and headed out the door. The workout was HARD. I felt slow. I swear I can feel every single stress related pound that I have gained this year and it sucks. (Especially when doing wall balls and box jumps and HEY LOOK AT THAT, both have been programmed in my last two workouts. BOO.)

But when I was done, it felt AMAZING. And it is literally the best decision I’ve made today, and I am so so happy I dragged my ass out of bed. I know it’s cliche to say you never regret a workout, but man — I don’t think I ever have.

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Years ago, when I started blogging about my fitness journey and when I seriously committed to CrossFit — I used to workout in the morning regularly. It is my preference, and it just sort of became a non-negotiable. Getting up and getting it done was just what I did — and I experienced some great results. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped doing that, but I can tell you why. I mean to be honest there are a million reasons — some are flimsy excuses (But it’s so much more fun to workout with Garrett! And he is definitely a night exerciser) but some reasons are legit (when I was CRAZY STRESSED at the beginning of the year with my job, the nicest thing I did for myself was give myself permission to just focus on SLEEEEEP!) But the fact is, the last 6 months have been a roller coaster of commitment when it comes to my fitness. And as you can imagine, that has yielded its own set of results. grumblegrumblegrumble

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I’ve been thinking A LOT about how to right this fitness ship lately. Mentally and Physically.

For the record, I think it is worth mentioning that I am not spending any time beating myself up over it. Life is long, and seasons change, and this has been a big year for me professionally and something had to give. This year it was fitness. I am a firm believer in the idea that we can have it all but we can’t have it all AT ONCE, and honestly, if I could go back and change the way this year has played out, I wouldn’t, so I’m not really coming from the perspective of “Where did I go wrong?” This has been a learning year and I am so 100% happy with the investments that I’ve made in my job and in my life, and the struggles I’ve had this year have honestly taught me so much. And one of those things I see so clearly now is I am SO MUCH HAPPIER in my life when I ensure that fitness plays a major role in my life. So I am coming from a place of prioritizing happines.

self care

I’ve realized this year that my fitness routine goes beyond getting to the gym because I should. It goes beyond wanting to “look good naked.” It even goes beyond what the scale says or how my pants fit or how much weight I’ve lost or gained and how much I have left to lose. For me, the act of having fitness goals, pursuing them, trying hard, doing it with a community, giving and getting support, seeing my friends succeed, experimenting with results, tracking my progress, celebrating that progress — all of those things are things that I truly ENJOY! Things I NEED, even. That hour every day is this little gift that I give myself above and beyond all the stuff that I am REQUIRED to do in life. Sure sometimes it feels hard, or there are things I’d rather be doing — but more often than not it’s my sanity saver. My happy place.

Also I realized last Friday — after a workout that felt especially BRUTAL, mostly because my last two weeks of gym attendance had been spotty — that it is SO. SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just show and up and do this regularly even when it is hard, than it is to find the time and energy to make a “come back.” When I am committed to what I am doing in the gym, it helps me focus better on my commitments OUTSIDE the gym. And without that over the last year I have truly felt a little bit lost. I was missing this essential piece of self-care.

I’ve been rolling it over in my mind comparing what I *was* doing when my workouts were just going off without a hitch and what I’ve been doing. And there were two main observations that kept popping up.

1. I used to be COMMITTED to working out mostly in the mornings.

AND

2. I shared a lot more about my workouts.

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The morning workouts are an easy fix. I’m going to set my alarm early a couple days a week and just GET IT DONE. The second one, well – I haven’t quite found that solution yet. Somewhere over the last year I started feeling a little self conscious about talking about workouts. I mean, I’m the first one to roll my eyes about That Guy’s Instagram and Facebook feed with 500 hashtags talking about his squat PR. Enough already! But there is also something so motivating about sharing and connecting with like minded folks who are trying to take care of themselves in that same way that you are. There is a fine line in overshaing and while I’m not sure I always stay on the right side of it, I have to say: blogging, tweeting, instagramming, facebooking about fitness goals and successes have kept me super motivated in the past. It may seem like a cheesy little thing, but I am going to commit to doing a little bit more of that in the coming days too.

I’m determined to get my groove back, friends. And I hope you don’t mind if I talk a little incessantly about it for a minute. :)

I don’t know that it will be easy, but I definitely learned this past year that the alternative sure isn’t a cake walk either.

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Opening Up

When I started CrossFit 3 years ago I did it mostly because I was bored. Bored, you ask? Yep. Bored with my fitness routine. Bored at my job. Bored (ok and maybe a little fed up) with being out of shape and overweight despite all the work that I put into changing that. I was in a rut, and I was open to try something different.

Almost immediately just the act of getting into that gym inspired me. For a long time it also scared me, but in a good way, you know? The intensity of the work outs lit a fire in my life that burned WAAAAAY more than my quads after a Body Pump class at Ye Olde 24 Hour Fitness and seeing the changes (big and small) in my body as well as my mind kept me motivated.

As my skills grew sharper, my commitment grew more intense. The best part of this whole thing was that my happiness and accomplishments inside the gym started to run over into my outside life. It was as if the Universe opened up the flood gates of success! I was trying new things that I never had the confidence to try before: I ran my first half marathon, I participated in a spur of the moment 10 miler, I spent a weekend running 20 miles while living out of a van with 7 other people. These were things that I never would have written in the Things I Am Capable Of column prior to Crossfit. And here they were written in indelible ink. Accomplishments that no one could take away from me.

Also notable: somewhere amidst all of that I shed 100 lbs. I say that as an afterthought because honestly, sometimes it felt like it was. I had spent 30 years WORKING HARD (and I mean reeeeeeeeeeally working) at losing weight. And now all of a sudden I tweaked my diet just a bit and showed up at this gym to hang out with cool people who were a great time and did workouts that were fun, where people would cheer me on and encourage me — and with seemingly little effort (aside from showing up and trying hard of course) those hundred pounds dropped off me like a bad habit in the first year and a half.

A year ago when my weight loss hit a bit of a stand still, I was concerned. But I certainly wasn’t obsessed because there were weights to life and races to run and experiences to be had and friends to hang out with and dogs to adopt and let’s be honest: life is about a million other things besides what your scale says — FULL STOP. I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that this website is built on: health is where good food and a good life intersect. And I knew if I pursued a good life, the health results would come. I continued to do what I had been doing, live my life, and of course pursue other avenues of achievement because, well…that’s who I am. I make no apologies that I am a person who sets goals and makes lists and charts paths and checks in and measures progress. I like to tinker with actions/results. While it is sometimes a frustrating process, I am open to change.

In November of last year, while all of that was going on, I had a professional opportunity fall into my lap. It was not something that was part of my long term plan, honestly, and at first I was a little gun shy about it. (I thought about the psychology of that reaction this weekend while reading Lean In, by the way and WOW could that be a whole post in itself.) It took a lot of thinking for me to take the plunge with this job and there were MANY speed bumps. It took quite a few conversations, personal and professional and in the end it took one part convincing and another part stars aligning and as you all know, in February I was in the new role. It was another bullet point that I would not have necessarily written on that list of Things I Am Capable Of but one I was open to. Let’s see where this goes, eh?

I was quickly reminded that growth always has a cost associated with it, right? We see this in our everyday training. The only way to gain muscle is to breakdown the tissue you already have and let it repair itself into something better and stronger, and obviously more capable. This experience was no different. All of the November to February hand-wringing and hemming and hawing and ultimately diving in wholeheartedly felt just like that muscle breakdown and repair cycle. It felt like I was sprinted my heart out and when I got to the finish line, I did so gasping for breath.

When I reached that finish line, I realized that this sprint had only led me to a the starting line of a marathon and that marathon has been something I have been telling the story of for the last six months. Just like an actual race, it has been very, very rewarding at times. The challenge has been mostly enlightening, and of course the monetary benefits are actively helping Garrett and I move towards some of the bigger picture line items on our Life To Do List (You know, Weddings, Babies, Homes, Cars — all of that stuff that AIN’T FREE. :)) But in almost equal measure, it has introduced plenty of moments where I have had to talk myself through doubt just to take one more step. And then another. I have wondered how many more steps so many times. Finding my rhythm has been a constant, and at times downright difficult, task. It has taken its mental toll.

What I didn’t really anticipate — though it seems so obvious to me now in hindsight — is that it has also taken a physical toll. The intensity of my Real Life has amped up a whole helluva lot and especially between the hours of 9 and 5. When I get to my 6pm workouts these days, my mind and body have so much less to give than they did just a couple short years ago. The past 6 months for me have felt like a cascade of poor sleep (I’m back to wearing my super sexy night guard to keep me from grinding my teeth. HAWT!), weight gain (in particular, an increase in body fat all around my mid secion. HAWT!), muscle tension, and less than ideal digestion. (Please, never EVER eat dried cherries after eating brussels sprouts. That is a gift from me to you.) For some time I have been a walking, talking poster child for stress, sugar cravings, and hormonal imbalance.

I have been as proactive as possible about prioritizing sleep when I can, eating fairly cleanly, trying hard but failing miserably at my burgeoning meditation practice, and supporting myself physically with some very specific supplementation. But for the longest time I have completely avoided examining my exercise routine. I’m sure you read the same things that I read and listen to the same podcasts — whether I love doing it or not, it is a fact that high intensity exercise (just like most exercise, actually) causes a cortisol response. And all of that is generally fine until YOUR LIFE starts causing a cortisol response. And I have buried my head to that over the last few months.

But I think it’s an important thing to explore, and more importantly I think it is worth discussing in the context of a blog like this. You have been with me through a lot of my successes over the past few years, and I want to be just as open with you about my opportunities. I have begun the process of actively reevaluating where I need to go with MY fitness. I’m thinking about what my goals are in my life long term (uh…don’t die, lose some body fat, protect fertility, etc) but also what my goals are right now (calm the fuck down and stop being a cortisol factory.) And somewhere between those two things I’m trying to find a fitness routine that will help me strike that balance. I never EVER want to give up CrossFit — sorry, I’m not sorry — it is my first love. But I think my goal of showing up no matter what the workout is and going 100% effort may need some adjusting.

I came across this old Chris Kresser article the other day called Why You May Need To Exercise Less and it really helped me put things into perspective. Maybe I can figure out something specific for ME, at THIS time in MY life. I am still going to keep my CrossFit workouts around at least three times per week (though I plan to be judicious with my metcons) but I am also going incorporate some yoga, some long walks, and a little bit more “Working In” into my Work Out Schedule. I am a little nervous about the change, and to be honest I have no idea where this path is going to take me. But I am hoping as long as I am open, I’ll find my way.

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On Scales, Progress + Learning to Listen

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A little over a year ago I trashed my scale. Not literally, but I did hide it for a month and when I finally re-discovered it I kept it in a place that wasn’t super convenient for using. I wanted to leave that cycle behind me and it only took about a month to kick the habit.

I made a very conscious decision and I stuck to it stubbornly: I didn’t want to make judgments about my life based on what the scale said. BOOM. That’s all. Scary, but also simple. And I was determined to succeed. I had my body composition tested, which was AMAZING and gave me a whole new perspective on the idea of “goal weight” and it helped me realize that I really didn’t give a shit about what some random pamphlet that didn’t know me at all said I should weigh. It was freeing. REALLY FREEING! Plus:

*I felt great
*My clothes fit better than they ever had
*I was really proud of what my body was doing

The Look/Feel/Perform trifecta that Robb Wolf always talks about was completely in alignment. I was kicking ass and taking names and doing it all without the secret judgment of some electronic appliance. Garrett took this random photo of me at a CrossFit competition last summer and when I saw it I remember thinking, “Holy shit, is that actually me? You just look like a regular, normal, healthy person.”

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I had literally never had that reaction to a photograph of myself…EVER. Is it crazy that it was sort of a defining moment? I wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t fitting an “ideal.” I was just The Best Version of Myself, and I was able to fully appreciate it in the moment precisely because I wasn’t caught up with how much I weighed or how close I was to my goal weight or any of that nonsense. I bet you are smart enough to see where this is going because all of those verbs I just used are past tense. :)

I am not even close to that place anymore. I actually saw a candid picture of myself recently and had that momentary feeling of sadness and embarrassment. My closet is full of awesome spring and summer clothes that I pulled out recently when I cleaned out my closet and sadly the bulk of them are too tight. I was so excited to see this skirt again and OMG…the zipper practically screamed when I tried to zip it up. Slowly over the past month I have had this slow bubble of panic and insecurity and of course my thoughts have led back to “Damn, I bet I never should have chucked my scale.”

But here’s the thing: last summer my priorities were my workouts.  My life looked very different, and I was far less stressed. And the other night when I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep and fretting about these few pounds that I initially though were showing up for a short jaunt, but who now appear to be having an extended stay, I thought to myself: YOU ARE NOT COMPARING APPLES TO APPLES. This isn’t because you threw out your scale, this is because you let your priorities change. The things you are focusing on are not yielding the desired results. Don’t go running back to the scale — re-evaluate your goals.

I almost didn’t share any of this because I wondered if it would sound stupid or dramatic or mental or whatever. But this space is my real life, not a shined up version, and so is this struggle right now. I don’t have a plan to share that is all mapped out, but rest assured it is coming. How I look, how I feel, and how my body is performing is a very manageable trinity, and right now I’m feeling sub par on all levels. A lot of it has to do with my stress level, and I remember so clearly the advice from the Everyday Paleo Seminar – if you aren’t managing stress and sleep, it doesn’t matter how well you are managing the rest. That spoke to me and it’s where I’m starting. This is my Spring State of the Union, and as I acknowledge where I am without judgment, it makes it easier to get ready to move to where I want to be.

This weekend I prioritized my rest and relaxation over productivity. I took a nap on Sunday afternoon instead of crossing some things off my list. Man, you guys, IT WAS HARD. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but it is true. I am very good at ignoring my body’s requests, but this weekend I listened. It wanted sleep. It wanted to flip through magazines. Surprisingly it still wanted to menu plan and cook good dinners. :) It wanted a fun night out with great folks, but it didn’t really feel like drinking. It wanted a long morning walk with the dog and a conversation with a fun friend.

The bottom line is I need to be a better listener, and I need to make sure that the actions I’m taking are getting me where I want to go instead of keeping me where I currently am. Only time will tell, but if I was a betting woman I’d put my money on the idea that taking the time to learn to listen to myself will be more helpful that running back to a dysfunctional relationship with a scale. And I’m willing to take that chance and let you know how it goes.

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Body Composition Testing and Losing the Goal Weight Mentality (Part Two)

So where did we leave off — ah yes, Weight Watchers thinks I should weigh between 135 and 169 lbs.

I made what I thought to be a realistic compromise and said 175 sounded better. Actually it still sounded cringe-worthy to me, but cringe-worthy enough that I could get over it because I’d have reached my goal weight.

Goal weight, goal weight, goal weight!

God I’m sick of hearing that phrase.

I consider myself a reasonably informed person. I seek out many sources before I make decisions. I’m open to new things, and of course like a good little member of Corporate America I try to make my goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable BLAH BLAH BLAH. (Can we all agree that I don’t need help in the Setting Goals Department? Thank you!)

But this Friday lunch-break experiment sort of blew the “Attainable” nature of this particular goal out of the water.

Let’s Talk About Goal Weight vs. Reality

Let’s take a look at these numbers for a second and make a few assumptions, shall we? Within that goal weight (175 lbs) I’m looking to have the bulk of my body be lean body mass (bones, water, muscle) and of course some body fat. This is normal and necessary to live and also I don’t fancy myself to have Sarah Connor aspirations.

Whoa, it just got 1990s up in here! I fear that reference may make me sound 80 years old. But dude, she’s still kind of an OG badass, right? (Also though, much thinner than I remember. Hmmmm.)

ANYWAY.

So there are healthy recommendations everywhere for body fat, but generally you will find 19-26% is acceptable depending on your athletic goals. Let’s split the difference and say I’d like to be 175 lbs with 23% body fat.

Sounds average, right? (God, just to be average! Yes!) Now let’s do math!


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(Jesus, first a Terminator reference and now LOLcatz. My credibility is dropping FAST. :))

A quick bit of multiplication on this goal of 23% body fat at a weight of 175 lbs would put me at 41 lbs of fat on my body, along with 134 of lean body mass.

Sounds reasonable, right? I know they make supermodels that weigh less than 41 lbs, but I have finally (GOD, FINALLY!) given up my supermodel aspirations. So I think we’re good.

134 lbs of lean mass. 41 lbs of fat.

This has been the goal I have seen as attainable. Let’s talk about reality for a second, shall we?

Friday’s test informed me that I CURRENTLY, as in right this very second, am sitting on 147 lbs of Lean Body Mass. I’m probably sitting in a cubicle in an uncomfortable desk chair, but still — sitting on 147 lbs of lean mass.

ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY SEVEN POUNDS OF MY BODY IS MUSCLE, BONES AND WATER.

Fist bump, please.

The idea of that is major. That’s 147 lbs that I don’t want to get rid of! So first of all, WEIGHT WATCHERS, how the hell am I supposed to reach for that range that starts at 135 lbs? (Again, Weight Watchers: SUCK IT.) I couldn’t weigh 135 lbs if I had 0% body fat. It’s physically impossible.

Now let’s look at the high end of that range. To weigh 169 lbs I would be rocking about 13% body fat. Wanna see what that looks like? I hear Annie Thorisdottr only has 13% body fat.

Granted she only weighs 150 lbs, but the thing is, I’m pretty sure she eats barbells for breakfast. I am more interested in a life where I get to eat bacon for breakfast, and lift barbells when I feel like it. And this, I think, is where the turning point for me lies.

What are my goals for my LIFE? And how can those intersect with my goals for my BODY?

New Approach // New Goals

  • I would like to be healthy in the most basic sense (ie: lacking ailments)
  • I would like to have most of my health indicators not raise egregious red flags with the medical community. I mean listen, I’m not that invested in the majority of the medical community’s opinion anyway, but let’s just say I don’t want to be lectured about obesity every time I have a cold, you know?
  • I would like to complete athletic endeavors comfortably and for fun
  • I would like my clothes fit well (because I LOVE clothes)
  • I would like a closet that stays relatively the same size over time (Barring things like pregnancy, of course. I’m not crazy)
  • I would like to maintain a lifestyle that prioritizes treating my body well
  • I would like my body fat to be in the 20-25% range

Holy shit you guys, do you know how freeing that is? I’m already making tons of progress in many of these areas!  I prioritize treating my body well! My clothes fit well! I complete athletic endeavors all week long without batting an eyelash. I’m halfway there! And you know what…the others will come over time.

Letting Go

Aside from measuring my body fat and lean mass last Friday, this test did give me a new “goal weight” based on my lean body mass. That new goal:

189-198 lbs.

Yeesh! That still sounds heavy to me! But you know what else? It also sounds FUCKING REALISTIC. And very, very close I might add. It is a far more reasonable goal to “get over how heavy it sounds to be a fit bad ass who weighs 200 lbs” than it is to try and mold myself into a Weight Watchers/Dr’s Office/BMI “Healthy Weight Bracket.” So screw it. I’m not even going to worry about it anymore. In fact, I am pledging in this very moment to LET GO OF THE GOAL WEIGHT MENTALITY. I have other things to focus on, and this idea of a goal weight is only a distraction.

Yes, my body fat percentage is still in the 30s and I want that to go down. Lean Body Mass is great, but I am still concerned about body fat. But, honestly, can you imagine what it was 100 lbs ago? I’m trending in the right direction, so I’m just going to trust that it will go down. I’m going to concentrate on making more performance based goals, tweaking my diet based on how I feel and not what the scale says, and working hard on getting more hydrated. That was the other aspect of the test that was informative. I’m pretty darn dehydrated. I’m not particularly surprised, but it was a confirmation for me that will lead to action.

Wanna Test Yourself?

I can’t recommend this test highly enough. If you are making strides to be healthier, you just can’t go wrong with getting an overall picture of your physical make up. The scale can only tell you a certain amount, and even those fancy scales that say they are measuring your body fat and hydration levels in your own bathroom are not usually calibrated correctly. Do yourself a favor and find a place that does some kind of Bioelectrical impedance testing. Calipers can have a 5-7% rate of error because they don’t measure hidden body fat. Dunk tanks are more accurate but are inconvenient. I stepped on a scale (no problem doing that! ha!) and held on to some crazy electric devices for about 3 minutes, and voila! PAGES AND PAGES OF INFORMATION.

It’s changed the game, you all. And I’m kind of excited about it. When was the last time you said THAT when you stepped off the scale? Get some information that will actually help you instead of messing with your mind. It’s totally worth it!

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Did I leave any questions unanswered? Let me know what you think!

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Body Composition Testing and Losing the Goal Weight Mentality (Part One)

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Do you know why I make lists? Because the second I write something down it immediately becomes something that nags at me. Of course sometimes I am good at ignoring the nagging (ahem, home improvement projects) but other times just the act of listing will light a fire under my ass to complete something I have been meaning to “get around to” for a while.

Moments after I published my Summer Bucket List on Friday I thought to myself “I wonder if I could test my body composition today?” Sure there are better ways to spend a lunch break on a Friday afternoon, but I had written it down, it had already begun to nag at me, and most importantly (since I was hoping it would improver over summer) I figured it would stack the odds in my favor to get the initial measuring over sooner rather than later.

And so the googling began.

Moments later I had found Spring Medical Clinic where for $25 and with no appointment I could have my body composition analyzed without taking off my clothes, getting dunked in a tank, or pinched with calipers. Totally lunch break friendly! Of course I had to listen to some sort of weight loss clinic nutritionist discuss “My Obesity” and my high-risk BMI and how they could offer me services that would help me lose 8-10 lbs per month if I wanted to “get the ball rolling.” But I held my tongue, smiled and nodded and then went on my merry way. It only took about 20 minutes and even despite the all the “You are undermining your life expectancy” scare-tactics it has given me a completely new appreciation for my body. More importantly though, it has given me a whole new perspective on this weight loss journey.

Let me just back up for a second though.

The Catalyst

You see I have hit another seemingly never-ending plateau with the scale. These are always shitty, but what’s worse is that it started back when I was being super strict and eating everything within super calculated Zone portions. By the way, that was…oh, all the way back in February/March. Is there anything more irritating than really working hard at something and not seeing the results you are looking for? As you know, I had to ditch the scale finally to get some perspective. I know that the number on the scale doesn’t define success but in the back of my mind I still felt like I was far away from my “healthy weight range.”

Here’s a recent picture. And I’m super happy with my progress, but it’s easy to see that I have some excess body fat still, so obviously I still have some weight to lose.

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I had tried to change how I was eating back in March with no luck (well, at least no luck on the scale) so my next thought was to change how I was working out. We have two different workout tracks at my gym – an A and a B program. “A” involves more days of programmed lifting than “B” so I thought that I would switch to the A Programming in hopes that more strength training would improve my lean mass which would make my body more efficient which would YIELD SOME GOD DAMN RESULTS ON THE SCALE.

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So for the last two months that’s been awesome. I’ve seen some great improvements in my lifting technique and also gotten stronger. I crossed my fingers that my body was doing it’s best to get a little leaner. Of course because I’m a numbers person and a list person and obsessed with comparisons I decided it was time to get back to taking some regular measurements and perhaps see some progress on the scale.

I busted out my measuring tape and found that since March I had lost 6 1/2 inches! I was so freaking happy to see that. I had an idea since I was wearing a new pants size, but it was nice to see it confirmed. Hard work, paying off! Then, of course, I happily jumped right on the scale to finish my own personal standing ovation for myself. Only to find that I had GAINED SEVEN POUNDS.

SEVEN, you guys. FUCKING SEVEN POUNDS.

I am smart enough to understand that I am trending in the right direction when it comes to the big picture, but you guys a 7 pound gain at the scale was super hard to swallow, even if it came with a smaller pair of pants and a loss of 6 inches. I knew it was time to change the way I was measuring and get the facts to help me understand my body’s composition. I wanted the good, the bad and the ugly: the lean body mass as well as the fat.

Ghosts of Weight Loss Past and The Goal Weight Mentality

Finding out that exact information helped me realize that the problem is not with my diet or my exercise routine or my obsession with the scale or whatever. The actual problem, I have realized, is that I haven’t quite let go of the “Goal Weight” Mentality. Let me see if I can explain this without sounding crazy.

My trials and tribulations with the scale are pretty well documented on this website, but for the sake of context let me just remind you that I hit up my first Weight Watchers meeting when I was 9 and joined on and off until I was about 30 with varying degrees of success. I have a good 20 years of history with Weight Watchers and even though I some people swear by it, I think Weight Watchers can suck a fat one. (Mel does a great job of summing up my major objections with WW here.) Within Weight Watchers the only way you can become a lifetime member is if you reach a pre-determined “Goal Weight.” I still know what my Weight Watchers goal weight range is for my height:

But listen, I’m not a nut job. I actually have a pretty large frame (hello, daughter of an NFL Lineman, remember?) and I do have a lot of muscle so I made a compromise in my mind a while ago that I would be okay if I never made it into that goal weight range. Instead I made a new (shockingly heavy sounding to most!) Goal Weight of 175lbs. Remember how I told you about the night I made Garrett wear women’s clothes? Ah yes, that was a good night.

You should go back and re-read that story if you haven’t. Then come back tomorrow because I’m going to tell you how ridiculous my goal weight actually is, and how enlightening having my body fat measured was. Plus I’ll give you the dirty details in case you want to do it yourself!

(Psssssst: Here’s Part Two)

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On Cynicism and Saying Yes

I love Januarys and Mondays. I love fresh starts and do-overs. Aptly, I love this time of year when graduates get to celebrate the closing of one chapter and the start of another. The emotional space between an end and a beginning is powerful.

(Why has no one learned how to bottle that yet? It could certainly solve this energy crisis we’ve got going on.)

One of my favorite things about this time of year are the snippets here and there that pop up from commencement speeches. No matter who gives them, they are always full of little nuggets of inspiration that I wish I would have absorbed when I was emerging into the real world. Dorky habit confession: I sometimes watch good ones on You Tube when I’m feeling in a rut and pretend like I’m 21 and yearning for knowledge.

Here is a portion from one I think is particularly awesome:

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”

– Stephen Colbert commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, 2006

Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but is the farthest thing from it.

Cynics don’t learn anything.

Cynicism is a self imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us.

******

Yesterday I read another “Healthy Living Blogger” discounting Paleo as a fad diet. Don’t worry, this time I didn’t feel quite so ragey. In fact, it didn’t even really make me upset. Call it a fad, what do I care? Stripes are a fad too, but it doesn’t change the fact that I look cute when I wear them. HOLLA! :)

I think my lack of rage comes from the fact that I know what I am doing is right for me because I am making progress. And it is still bringing me joy. I am following my own heart and mind and not letting the negativity of others confuse me.

Oh and also: I found this picture back in the archives the other day and when I showed Garrett he said to me “Dude, I think the aspect ratio is off in that picture.”

Sorry buddy, the aspect ratio was totally normal.

But luckily the aspect ratio of our current lifestyle is slightly more flattering. And improving each day! Sometimes it’s hard to recognize progress, but I’ll tell you what, this picture fills me hope that maybe those people who talk about getting better with age really are on to something!

As I get older, I try and let the cynicism around me — at work, in life, and on the internet — roll off my back. It’s a discipline, but it is discipline worth practicing. And it’s worth it because we all have things want to try. I’m not one to tell you that you should try the the things I try, because I HATE being told what to do. But the truth is, we all have secret desires that we wish we had the courage to pursue. Every last one of us. But desires and reality don’t always overlap.

So I’m not going to tell you what to do. But I will say this:

Maybe you want to train for marathon. Maybe you want to try out a CrossFit gym. Maybe you want to change the way you eat. Maybe you want to pursue that dream you had when YOU were 21 and graduating college. Hell, maybe you just want to wear a belt.

JUST FRICKIN DO IT.

Because the clock is ticking, you all. The days are coming fast and furious whether we like it or not. Many of life’s pursuits take courage and sometimes that can be hard to find amongst the daily trials of life and the sounds of cynicism. So today I just wanted to try and be one little voice trying shouting louder than the rest.

What do you want to change in your life? Because it can be done. Someone before you has done it and someone after you is going to do it again. So really, what are you waiting for?

FORGET THE CYNICS AND JUST SAY YES.

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Real Life Style: How To Shop Efficiently When You’re Losing Weight

It’s been almost 2 years since I started eating a Paleo diet. I’ve gone through 7 seasons and 5 major size changes all while working in a business casual professional environment, being in the gym 5 days a week, attending weddings, parties and casual nights out with friends. You can probably gather that I have needed to purchase A LOT of clothes in that time.

This sounds fun in theory, but I have to be honest — my days trolling the mall are over — a habit I broke when I was digging myself out of some serious debt about 5 years ago. I love new clothes and I obviously enjoy talking about style, but these days I don’t really find shopping to be a very productive hobby. But when your body changes sizes along with the seasons, you don’t really have a choice.

What this means is, and I need you to ready your gag reflex for the term I’m about to use: when losing weight, an efficiently curated wardrobe is a must. Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy. And if you are, well you can quit reading right here. Go buy yourself some new clothes! GET CRAZY! If you are not, however, here are some tips I’ve used to efficiently keep my wardrobe looking decent:

Find a Seasonal Uniform and Accessorize

Hey — guess what always fits? Shoes, purses and jewelry! It’s why I’m always willing to invest in those areas :) Take advantage of accessories while your body is changing shape and focus on making sure you always have basics that fit well. Find economical versions of classic silhouettes that look good on your body — jeans (fancy and casual), sweaters, tees, tanks and skirts.

Make sure you have a neutral and a couple of colors. But no need to have 10 versions of each thing. Let your accessories add that certain something to your outfits because they are made for the long haul. I love Target and outlet shopping from my favorite stores to accomplish this: Gap, Banana Republic, Loft. You can cull together an entire wardrobe of basics from these places for a couple hundred bucks.

photo courtesy of gap.com

I wore two pairs of jeans through all of winter. I only have 2 pairs of jeans that fit now. No one notices and no one cares. Especially if they fit well.

photo courtesy of jcrew.com

Buy Versatile Statement Pieces You Can Mix With Your Basics

I used to have 3 or 4 coats in different styles and colors, and one day I will get back to that because I love a kelly green coat! Coats are a fun way to spice up an outfit but this winter I only wanted to buy one because I knew I wouldn’t be able to wear it next year. Instead of buying a black or brown coat because it “goes with everything” I spent a little extra time and found an awesome cream colored pea coat. It was neutral enough that it went with my entire wardrobe, but it was still uncommon enough that I felt stylish every time I wore it.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, buy a maxi dress or a pencil skirt that stands out, but is neutral enough that you can pair it with other things and make multiple looks. Drama + Versatility is your best bet.

photo courtesy of nordstrom.com

Keep A List, Do Some Research & Have Patience

This is the most important advice I can give you — when you are trying to be efficient with your wardrobe, you must always stay aware. Keep track of items you feel like you are missing, because inevitably with a limited wardrobe you will sometimes feel like you don’t have exactly what you want to wear. Jot it down on a 3×5 card and keep it in your purse if you find it pops up over and over when you are getting dressed. (For me, lately, it’s been a black pencil skirt!) Then harness the power of the internet!

Always check your favorite retailers for coupons, wait for sales — and then pounce! I keep a list of items that I want to buy in my purse at all times, and then I keep a list of stores/items on the back that I have seen online and maybe want to try on if it has piqued my interest. This way if I *do* have to go to the mall, I can be efficient — I know what I’m looking for, what I want to try on, and most importantly — WHAT I NEED.  Not to say there is never an impulse buy, but it keeps them to a minimum. :)

Also, as a side note: These days something has to be REALLY useful and REALLY awesome (read: in danger of selling out) for me to pay full price.

Take The Time To Work On Developing Your Sense of Style

One of the things I have struggled with the most when my body started changing, was that I had NO IDEA what looked good on me anymore. It was the genesis of 30 Days of Denim and that project was a huge help! Take time to experiment. Take pictures of yourself. Participate in style challenges. Try on articles of clothing that scare you (hello, jumpsuits!) Pin outfits for inspiration solely because something in the picture made me happy! And do it without fear…it’s only clothing! No big deal.

Still Splurge On Worthwhile Items

Losing weight doesn’t mean you need to purchase EVERYTHING on deep discount. But you definitely don’t want to be buying a new pair of investment jeans if you aren’t planning to be able to wear them next year. Items NOT to skimp on: bras, sports bras and good foundation garments. Skipping on the foundation is NEVER a good idea in any arena, so get the good stuff!

Keep the spending in check by making the selection small, with neutral colors and versatile styles. Neutral and Versatile will soon become your new favorite adjective. Sure hot pink bras are fun, but when you’re body is changing rapidly, you can get by with a only nude and black. You’re drawer won’t look like a Victoria’s Secret catalog, but your rack will look great while your bank account thanks you.

Also, still make an effort to shop for deals. I am in love with Wacoal bras from Nordstrom, but they are usually $70-90. I work about 5 minutes from a Nordstrom Rack though, so often times I will swing in there on my lunch break and peruse the bra section because you can easily pick one up for $35. STEAL!

Lastly, if I can offer one parting thought to guide you through your journey to stock your wardrobe while losing weight:

Don’t Buy It Unless You LOVE It

And if you remember only one thing, remember that.

*****

Anything I’ve left out?

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Stopping The Insanity

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So on April 1st I’m trashing my scale.

Ok well maybe not trashing it, it’s a really fancy scale. For what I paid for it though, it should probably make and deliver my morning coffee as well as tell me all of my numbers. But I’m having Garrett hide it, because I think it’s time to take back my sanity a little bit.

I used to weigh myself all of the time and now, while I only do it once a week, it still does cross my mind on a daily basis. Worse, sometimes during my weekly weigh ins, I let it affect how I feel about my OVERALL progress. I generally weigh myself Friday mornings because it is so nice to go into a weekend down a few pounds, knowing that your week has been a success! But also there are weeks that ARE successful where I do not go into the weekend down a few pounds, and the feelings that brew up on those are Fridays are starting to get to me.

I imagine you can guess how today’s weigh in went, yes?

It is so stupid to have so much success, and yet I allow myself to get all emo while standing on a scale on a random Friday morning. What’s more stupid is that I can have a week where I eat well, feel great, workout a lot and ENJOY MY LIFE and then come Friday morning if the scale doesn’t show my preferred type of progress I start to feel like “WOE!!! WHY IS EVERYTHING A FAILURE???” I mean, can you even believe the stupidity of that? When I say it out loud, it just sounds so RIDICULOUS.

So you know what? I’m going to stop doing that.

REVA-FRICKEN-LATION!

So I’m telling you all this to hold myself accountable and to let you know that I’m going to take a month off. I’m not going to talk about my weight loss progress with in the context of pounds on this website. I just…well, I just don’t want to for a minute. I need a break. I need some time to get my mind right. I don’t plan to make any changes to what I’m doing — hooray for Paleo/Zone, I’m going to keep up my workouts because I love them, but I just need to get my eye OFF of The Prize for a mother-frickin-minute.

There are a million reasons why it is lame to be so scale dependent, here is my favorite list of a few, but at this point I don’t need to “motivate” myself stop doing something I just need to *actually” stop doing it.

And sometimes it helps me to just say these things out loud.

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Getting into The Zone

So I’m sure there are a million stupid puns and titles that I can use when blogging about my adventures with The Zone Diet, but I promise you I will try to go easy on those. I just wanted to pop in to let you know how the first full week went.

Preeeeeeeeeeeeetty good.
Well at least okay.
I mean it was cool most of the time.

Ack. There is not an easy phrase that will sum up how we did.

How about this: We survived and we are forging onward! That makes it sound like a grand adventure, yes? Let’s go with that.

Grand Adventure: Week One

I will be honest with you, it was an adjustment. About 3 hours into Day One I shot this video over to Larry (my trainer extraordinaire who is being our cheerleader on this Grand! Adventure!)

But honestly, then I had lunch and I was fine. When I weighed out my first portion of protein on that first day, I was fairly sure I was going to die of starvation. But what do you know — I did not! And I did not feel hungry at all the rest of the week. My fears — unrealized? So that was pretty great. And one of the upsides was that I not only felt satisfied, but light on my feet. That’s a good feeling.

It was not all sunshine and roses though. Weighing your food is a giant pain in the ass, folks! You will not hear me glossing over that. It blows. But everyone said that after the first week you will feel more comfortable doing that, and yesterday I realized if I am going to do something that sucks, instead of doing it 3 times a day I’m going to do it for 2 hours straight while listening to Lil Wayne and shaking my ass. So I did a little food prep WOD with my scale and measuring cup and actually it was kind of a blast. And this morning when I woke up, I was so happy to not even have to think about what I was going to eat.

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Now my fridge looks like this and we have many (perfectly portioned) things to eat for breakfast and lunch:

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It may not be the prettiest my fridge has ever looked — a food stylist, I am not! — but I don’t have to really THINK about weighing and measuring anything for a while. And that makes my heart go pitter pat.

On the menu this week:

Breakfasts
Sweet Potato Hash // Hard Boiled Eggs // String Cheese // Olives
Cottage Cheese with Berries + Canteloupe + Slivered Almonds

Lunches

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Holy Hell we are having a lot of SALAD!
But I love salad, so I’m okay with this. Salad, salad, salad. YUM! It makes me excited about my little tomato seedlings growing strong in my kitchen. I’m ready for the summer garden!

Dinners
To Be Determined

The reason I am leaving dinners open (well sort of open, they will be comprised of chicken, turkey or ground beef) was that one of the things I struggled with last week was the feeling of having no creativity in the kitchen. And you know I freaking LOVE TO COOK. So that was a bummer.

But I decided since Breakfast and Lunch are basically taken care of all week, I am going to try and get a little more creative with dinner. New spice rubs, some more fun techniques — just be a little more “ME” in the kitchen now that I have my bearings about me. And if I have to measure that a little at night, I’m ok.

Oh, Shall We Talk Results?

Both of us felt notably lighter and better all week. The forced portion control actually worked well in that we didn’t feel hungry but very…I don’t know…more light and efficient.

At the end of the week, I was down almost 3 lbs, which ruled! I did weigh myself mid-week though (I couldn’t resist) and had gained 3 lbs and let me tell you I almost threw in the towel right then and there. But we all know the scale is a stupid stupid stupid metric for something like this. Do you struggle with Scale Addiction too? Please go read this then. I needed to hear it this morning! I may have Garrett hide the scale in April. Who knows? haha

Also I hit some PRs in the gym, so that was fun. This week’s CrossFit Games Open WOD was basically all heavy lifting (which I have not been focusing on for about 2 months) and so it felt nice to perform pretty well. I threw 100 lbs up over my head and HEY-O, I actually caught it a few times. Sweet. I’ll take it.

I feel like it was a great idea to combine trying Zone while the CrossFit Games Open is going on, because it gives me some motivation to stick to it in hopes that it will help me perform my best. My best certainly isn’t going to win any gold medals, but damn if I want to do it all the same! Anyway, there were highs and lows, but I feel even more equipped this week so I am running with it.

*****

What kind of Grand Adventures did you have this week, folks?

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