DAY 038: The proclivity for negativity

DietBet Kickstarts 1 and 2 (out of 3) have ended, and I’m a two-time winner!  I have just a bit more to go before I meet the goal for my third one that weighs out this time next week, and I have every intention of winning it.  Anyone in a DietBet has every intention of winning, though, right?  Or they wouldn’t be betting in the first place.  The money is a huge motivator… but it shouldn’t be the focus.

Unfortunately, I’m seeing a new trend in the DietBet community that I’ve never seen before in almost three years on the site:  whiny, complain-y, negative comments about the modest winnings.  Both of my recently-ended Kickstarters heavily showcased these gripes.  In most cases, they came from people with misguided expectations about how much money they would come away with if they hit their goals — these folks pretty clearly didn’t bother to read or understand the rules before joining the game, or before shooting their mouths off at the end of it.  I know it’s disappointing to “only” win six bucks after working your tail off for a month, but imagine how much worse it must be to come within a pound of your goal after working your tail off for a month, and losing your entire buy-in on top of that!  (By the way, those people are the ones who financed your six-buck win, complainers.  And then you bitched about it.  Double ouch for them, huh?)

Many people have been quick to point out to the ranters that DietBet is a place for support, motivation, and accountability; it is NOT a get-rick-quick scheme.  It’s why I’ve come to DietBet every time I’ve felt myself slipping and needing to get back on track, and as long as I stay focused, it works for me.  Not because of the money, but because of the support.  I once hosted a DietBet, albeit a small one, with a $10 buy-in that only had about a dozen people in it.  We were VERY active as a group with posting and interacting, and we had a blast losing weight together.  At the end of the bet, none of us profited a single penny because we ALL met our 4% goal.  That wasn’t a fluke coincidence; that was because we were in it together.  The fact that we only got back our initial investment was beyond worth it because it meant that nobody lost the game and everybody had lost weight.  We were really there for each other.  It was the best DB game I’ve ever played.

The wonderful thing about January is it does flip a switch in people to make changes in their lives where they feel unhappy, and weight is probably the number one thing people resolve to change about themselves at the first of the year.  It’s fantastic when people make strides towards health and self-improvement, and even more fantastic when they succeed.  Unfortunately, it means many newcomers flood gyms and websites with the most earnest of intentions, but without a real plan.  They haven’t done the research, and then it’s everyone else’s problem — sometimes fault? — that they aren’t having their sugar-free cake and eating it, too.  If you’re pissy because you didn’t rake in a windfall on a community weight-loss site, honestly, shame on you for having that expectation in the first place.  There is nothing anywhere in the rules or FAQs that should have led you to formulate such an idea.  Congratulate the people who busted their asses to win, just like you did, and get back to work.   **steps off soap box**

Ironically, all the negativity in the air on DB right now has triggered some positive thinking for me.  I’ve been kind of skittish lately about the eventuality of my foot surgery, which is likely to happen next month.  I know that as long as I plan, I can avoid regaining, and can even continue to make progress on my weight loss.  Even still, it’s hard not to feel kind of nervous about being essentially immobilized for such a long period.  That’s a slippery slope to negative self-talk.  What the pouters on DB have inadvertently reminded me with all their negative talk is that it’s incredibly unappealing and counter-productive.  I’m not on my mission for any other reason than that I want to be.  And you know what?  I can do it.  I just have to decide to.  Multiple times a day, every day.  The only way to do that is by staying positive.

In the meantime, I really hope this influx of downers is not the start of a new trend on DietBet.  It really crushes what has always been a positive atmosphere for most players.  No one is here for that.

DAY 021: A woman’s right to chews

The recent days have been a blend of several non-scale victories and several non-scale fails.  A quick recap:

NSV:  I made it the full week between scheduled weigh-ins without sneaking a peak at the scale, which made seeing the loss today highly satisfying.

NSF:  I caved.  I had coffee this morning.  My sleep may or may not suffer, but I honestly can’t even say I’m that upset about the coffee.  This presents an interesting experiment opportunity at zero caloric expense.

NSV:  I chose moderately healthy options for my meal out on Thursday, last night, and this morning, and succeeded at staying within my calorie limit every day this week.

NSF:  My moderately healthy brunch choice this morning, it turns out, was actually not that healthy.  Nutrition calculators are wonderful and terrible at the same time — if only I had looked in the moment instead of after the fact!  It blew up more than half of my daily limit!

NSV:  I still stayed within limit today by severely adjusting my meal plan for the rest of the day.  Lunch was a banana, my PM snack was carrots, and my dinner was steamed broccoli.  It sounds extreme, especially on a day when I got a good cardio workout in, but you know what?  I’m not hungry!  This isht is working, y’all.

NSF:  I didn’t get to the gym all the days I should have this week.  I could have done more good if I had.

NSV:  I still hit my step goals every day this week, and I did still make it to the gym a few times.

NSF:  No more data — which means NSVs outnumber NSFs!

NSV:  I managed to fully prepare and portion out my meals for this week in spite of having company staying with me — a LOT of work and sore feet, but also highly satisfying!
The lesson for me here is that we have a right to choose what we chew, and we can even allow a few calorie-dense selections into the fray.  My Thursday and Saturday meals were both dinners this week, meaning I could budget my intake throughout the day and go into the meal knowing exactly how many nutritional points I had to play with once I had the menu in my hand.  That worked well.  Today, since my meal out was in the morning and of higher caloric value than either of my other meals out this week, it was more painstaking to stay under my limit because there was so much time left in the day.  But not only did I make it work without feeling deprived, I also felt more motivation to work out as a result.  I will keep my right to what chews I make because I know how to operate within the rules.

And my body knows it.  It shed 4.6 pounds this week.

That means I’m gonna crush those 4 new DietBets.  Ahhhh, this is more like it!

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It also means I’m at -7.8 pounds so far for the month, and solidly within reach of losing the 12 pounds I wanted to lose in January.  It’s going to take some hard work, but my 3 weeks of habit forming are now officially in the books.

Let’s rock.

 

DAY 019: Souped-up menu

One of my big weight-loss philosophies is that you can’t eat everything you like, but you should like everything you eat.  I’ve learned this about myself:  if I’m not happy about my food plan, I’m far more likely to stray from it.  To that end, I’ve spent loads of time combing the net and my 4 healthy magazine subscriptions to build myself an ever-growing solid arsenal of go-to recipes that give me a good rotation of options to mix and match indefinitely.  Meal planning and preparation take up a HUGE amount of time for me, but they’re essential components of success.  After all…

cantoutexercise
getfit
rest
…and so on.

Adhering to my “like everything you eat” philosophy sometimes gets tricky when layered in among my efforts to try new things (which often means more than once — some new flavors can be acquired tastes), not overload one meal with the bulk of my day’s calories, get enough nutritional variety, and stay within my daily macros.  It’s a time-consuming puzzle to put together my weekly meal plans, but it’s usually fun for me.  However, there are times when I remember the hard way that there are certain things I really just don’t enjoy eating or am sick of at the moment.  I can usually put the distaste aside, scrunch up my nose, and eat the thing I’ve forced upon myself, especially when it’s paired with something I really do enjoy.  Prime example:  I’m still not exactly bananas over bananas, but they’re transportable and I’ve come to not mind them, so I usually schedule them as a snack with some yummy almond butter or yogurt.  This week, I had a miss:  I threw in some grape tomatoes, which has reminded me that I borderline hate them — and I made the unfortunate mistake of coupling them with a lunch it turns out I’m not wild about right now.  The only positive is that I’m hungry enough at lunch time that I’ll eat just about anything, and I’m OK with the split-pea soup, it just doesn’t hit the spot, ya know?

My mismanaged menu (re)taught me two key things:

  1. It’s fine to include a few items I find OK, as long as there’s something I really like to balance it out.
  2. I’m fickle.  The odds are 50/50 that I’ll have changed my mind on something I haven’t had in a while, for the better or the worse, or that I still like/dislike it just as much as before.  (I’m looking at you, grape tomatoes.)  That is, if I can remember how I felt about it in the first place.  (I’m looking at you, split-pea soup.)  So, when I’m not sure, I need to not group two questionable items together in the same feeding.  I just need to be a bit more thoughtful during menu prep.

I like souping in the winter, even when the temperature varies wildly between single digits and the high fifties, so I’m making up for this week’s soup miss with a soup for next week I’m already craving:  classic matzo ball soup… with whole-grain matzo meal.  Uh, yeah.  I’m jealous of myself.

TGIF — this week’s menu misfire is over!  Happy weekend, kids 🙂

P.S.  No, I didn’t go off plan in spite of not loving my choices for the week.  Bam!  #NSV

DAY 017: The foodstuffs dreams are made of

They’re baaaaaaa-aaaaaack:  the food dreams.  With a twist.

Last night, I don’t even remember what I was illicitly eating in my dream when I reached the level of semi-consciousness where I realized I was dreaming.  At that point, I immediately grabbed a bowl of whipped cream that appeared from nowhere and started eating it with a spoon.  I could take or leave whipped cream in real life, so that was a surprising splurge!  Haha.

This was the second night in a row of food dreams, but with different indulgences.  I always hit this point when I start a new health routine.  It’s not even just one point; it’s more like a starting point of what will be an intermittent pattern that continues indefinitely.  Oddly, it seems to happen at times when I’m not having any waking cravings and am actually feeling pretty secure in my food and exercise choices.  I usually feel insanely guilty when I wake up, before it hits me that the sinful eating I did in my dreams didn’t really happen.  The best is when, like this morning, I become aware that I’m dreaming and I can go hog wild with no consequences.

The weird part about last night’s dream was that, before the whipped-cream plot twist, I had an internal struggle about an indulgence of a different kind:  weighing myself.  It’s always a bit of a challenge not to weigh in between my usual Sunday night times, and I confess that I do usually give in around Thursday.  It’s been particularly challenging not to step on the scale this week, after annoyingly posting no weight loss at all last week.  My next scheduled weigh-in is still 4 days away, and I feel like my body has made it over the week-2 slump and has responded well to my consistency with diet and the introduction of regular exercise.  (I made it to the gym after work yesterday!)  I want to wait until Sunday to see the progress, and I’m so hopeful for a big number to offset the stall from last week, but I’m being diligent with myself not to.  If I can’t resist the damn scale, which should be an easy thing to resist because it’s THE ENEMY with a gremlin living inside it, how am I gonna say no to donuts and cookies and bowls of whipped cream?

Sooooo, I’m gonna ride it out.  In the meantime, I’m trying to prepare myself for a possibly disappointing number on Sunday.  I have to remember that the scale only tells me my relationship to gravity, not how I feel.

Unless it’s a big drop.  😉

DAY 009: Coffiend

I’m not a coffee addict, but I do like my coffee.  It’s actually the coffee I like, by the way; I take it black, no cream or sugar diluting the hearty, nutty, bitter flavor.  I usually amble down the block on week day mornings to pick up a cup for myself to drink at work, and brew some at home in my French press on lazy weekend mornings or go for the bottomless coffee pots alongside leisurely weekend brunches with friends.  The smell of the roasted beans, the taste of the soothing liquid, the feel of the warm mug between my hands… I just enjoy the stuff.

I have a 3-year losing streak playing Starbucks for Life, which sees my fiendish behavior amp up significantly every year as I invariably rack up 2 out of 3 stickers in every category before ultimately only gaining dupes for the rest of the game’s duration.  That’s when a mild addictive pattern does start to form, born out of addiction to the possibility of winning MORE COFFEE, however improbable.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed I’m much more sensitive to caffeine than ever before.  I stopped drinking it after 12 PM a few years back when I realized it was wreaking havoc on my ability to fall asleep at night, but now it seems that if I have it more than a couple of days in a row, my sleep starts to suffer.  And so…

I’m giving up the brown stuff.

TEMPORARILY.  Like, for the rest of this month (and then we’ll see).

Conventional wisdom goes that it takes three weeks to form a habit.  Today was the first day I had no coffee, and three weeks from today is January 30th, which is just before the last day of the month.  So I’m going to be attentive to my physiological responses, where sleep is concerned as well as what effects it may have on my hunger and energy levels throughout the day and decide after that window whether or not it’s worth continuing the coffee hiatus.  I’ve given up coffee before for almost the exact same reason, but since it was during Whole30, it was impossible to isolate which impacts the diet was having on me vs. which ones coffee was, and/or how the two interplayed.  I’m really down with this sort of torturous self-experimentation, so hey, let’s call it science and party.

I didn’t sleep well last night, which is surely part of why I’m feeling draggy right now, but I’m sure the lack of coffee is also contributing to that.  I woke up his morning feeling as if I had been partially awake for a few hours.  It would be awesome to wake up from a full sleep to the sound of my alarm, rather than from a semi-conscious state in anticipation of my alarm.

Speaking of this morning, I noticed at one point of my semi-consciousness that my VivoFit wasn’t on my wrist, which is odd because I’ve been sleeping with it on for 3 years.  I felt around for it in the sheets, but it wasn’t there.  When I finally got out of bed, I saw it was lying on the floor.  I had clearly removed it and tossed it in my sleep!  Oh, subconscious self.  Don’t look for the symbolism, don’t look for the symbolism, don’t look for the symbolism…!

Also, last night, I finally did what could be classified as exercise.  My Wii Fit balance board arrived, and I did a Wii bit of activity for 30 minutes!  🙂  Baby steps still count towards that daily goal.

I’m hoping that once the caffeine fully leaves my system, I’ll get into more of a natural energy cycle that will make working out more productive.  I have a gym session in mind for tomorrow, which I don’t expect to be an easy time, but starting never is.

Don’t think, just go.  **breathes**

Reset, Day 002: Reinvesting

Brrr!  It’s cold out there.  Silver lining:  the more time spent in the tundra, the more calories that die.  I’ll take that.

The holiday break is officially over, and I’m back at work.  That means hours on end spent in front of a computer, so I’m shuffling in some self-interest between projects and assignments:

  1. Update cache of recipes on My Fitness Pal
  2. Start logging again on My Fitness Pal
  3. Engage regularly on DietBet — I’ve added two Kickstarters to get me back on track in general, as well as in my 2-month-old Transformer bet!
  4. Pay extra attention to Jiminy and move dat azz as soon as the red bar of doom appears

I’m also focusing on two goals:

  1. SCALE:  Lose 12 lbs this month.  It’s ambitious, but do-able.  That’s the tagline of my weight-loss game, so here we go.  I’ll more than win my two Kickstarters if I meet this goal, and I’ll have salvaged my chances at winning my Transformer.
  2. NON-SCALE:  250,000 steps this month.  That means I will have to get myself back into the gym.  In January.  With all the (other?) Resolutioners.  HELL.

I struggle more with this whole process when I don’t enjoy my meals, so I’m re-embracing souping as I have for the past two winters.  This week, it’s my grandma’s beef, bean, and barley soup for dinner (with a heaping side of steamed broccoli).  Breakfast is a Whole30-compliant egg casserole featuring sweet potatoes, spinach, and ground meat (I usually use turkey, but went with beef this time because the organic stuff was deeply discounted when I did my grocery shopping for the week); lunch is a Crock Pot balsamic chicken (my balsamic is infused with fig — yum!) with tomatoes, onions, and spices; AM snack is an apple with sugar-free almond butter; PM snack is carrots and raw almonds.  I haven’t re-checked the labels of what I used to prepare the chicken, but I do know that breakfast and my AM snack are entirely free of added sugar, as are my PM snack and dinner, so this week’s meals are very low in sugar, if not entirely sugar free.  Just what the doctor ordered to start getting this thing back in check.

FUN COOKING TIP OUT OF ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE:  Did you know you can regrow green onions?  Just save the roots once you’ve used the onions, and stick them in a glass of water on your kitchen counter.  Within 10-14 days, you have new onions that are ready to use.  You should change the water once every 3-5 days, and ensure that the roots are below the water, not tipped sideways.  This may mean you have to hold them in place for a minute or two when you first put them in the glass of water to regenerate, but they’ll be good to go totally on their own after that.  I’ve never tried to regrow them a third time after regrowing from the roots once, but I’m going to try that after I re-use my currently regrowing green onions next week.  Maybe I’ll report back, maybe I’ll completely forget I randomly shared this tidbit.

Stay strong, mission partners!

DAY 755: The dirty on Whole30

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I MADE IT.  ALL THIRTY DAYS.

Here’s the official Whole30 timeline of what to loosely expect along the way.  Here’s what actually happened to me:

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THE SCORE
Days with low-carb flu:  7.5
Days with a headache:  16
Days with diarrhea:  3*
Days constipated:  8
Days with no weird effects:  4

*I think there were more of these in the beginning; at least, I recall having loose stools often and going at least once per day.  I unfortunately didn’t start keeping a symptoms calendar until I started that wretched, wretched 4-day stretch of constipation, and by that point, I could only recall back a few days.

BROAD SUMMARY (MENTALLY [because the physical should be self-explanatory based on my calendar image])
Days feeling meh/normal/pretty much fine:  16 (1 – 16)
Days feeling fucking terrible:  5 (17 – 21)
Days feeling fucking awesome:  9 (22 – 30)

TL;DR
Did you ever get your tiger blood?  YES.
Was it worth doing this shockingly expensive, drawn-out, often infuriating dietary experiment to feel awesome for less than a third of the time?  YES.
HUH?  WHY?!  There is no TL;DR way to answer this question.  Trust me blindly or keep reading, champ.

First of all, let me say up front that I’m proud of myself for doing this.  At no point did I falter, or even consider abandoning ship.  I stuck with it the whole time and I owned this process, and it wasn’t without its challenges or massive frustrations.  If I could high five myself without looking like a total dork who never learned to clap right, I would do it.

Sticking to Whole30 truly did help me tame my “sugar dragon,” challenged me to face the way I’ve been using food to punish or reward myself instead of to nourish myself, and gave me the feeling of power and control over what I put into my body (ironically enough, on such a restrictive diet).  It got me back into the gym on a routine basis.  It (eventually) made me feel great physically and like totally baller mentally.  I learned to love almond butter.  I reached rain-man levels of label-reading expertise.  What I thought was already great skin, became even greater.  I got something I really wanted out of this, which was improved sleep.  It forced me to become comfortable with discussing my dietary habits with people, out loud.  And ya know, it just feels great to have set out to do something for 30 days, and to have inarguably risen to the challenge.  Above all, it punted me out of my I-don’t-wanna stupor, and gave me results along the way:  my final weight-loss number from Whole30 is 17.2 pounds (most of which was knocked off in the first 2 weeks).  I still have a long way to go, but holy hell, y’all.  That’s a big-ass number, especially considering that low-carb flu sidelined me for a full week and I didn’t really start working out in earnest until the final third of the program.

And yet, I don’t think I would ever do this again.  The main reason is that it was astronomically expensive for me.  I’m not exaggerating when I say my weekly grocery bills doubled.  To give an example of the runaway costs I had on Whole30, I site breakfast.  Typically, I eat a bowl of passably healthy cereal (Cheerios) that I buy on sale at CVS for $2.50/box, and it lasts me over a week, along with milk from the grocery store that also lasts me over a week, for which I pay under $4.00.  Assuming each lasts me 10 days, that means one day of breakfast costs me roughly $0.65.  SIXTY-FIVE CENTS.  It’s practically free.  On Whole30, however, grains and dairy are no-nos, so I had to seek out compliant options — quite the quest within itself — and then I had to properly balance my plate.  For breakfast alone, I had to have starch (let’s say breakfast potatoes, which cost me about $6 to make last for the week), protein (let’s say Aidell’s chicken-apple sausage, $6.00/package, which lasts two days), and fat (usually avocado, which I can make last 4 days — thanks, refrigeration! — for $1/each).  I would also usually add in a fruit to help inject some fiber into the meal (let’s say raspberries, $4.00/package, which lasts two days, according to serving size).  Are you seeing how this adds up insanely fast?  Pricing this out per food item and factoring in staying power gives me a breakfast that costs $6.10 every morning.  SIX DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS.  It’s almost ten times more expensive every day!  And that’s just ONE MEAL!  Extrapolated across the full month, if I had had this meal for breakfast every day (which I did not, but I’m doing this just to drive home the point), it’s a total cost difference of $163.50!!!!  UNAFFORDABLE.

Beyond that, the amount of time it takes to plan (i.e. find compliant, balanced recipes that I liked) and prepare (i.e. cook and portion out) all the meals and snacks is something you should be provided a time machine for.  And I don’t mean a gizmo that lets you travel through time; I mean one that lets you add hours to your day.  Honestly, I thought this would be a very minor adjustment heading into Whole30 because I already put in so much thought and time into my menu planning and prepping efforts, but this knocked my socks off.  I’m used to sacrificing my entire Sunday to the kitchen altar of the nutrition gods, but even cooking morning to night did NOT give me enough time, especially if I had any hopes of getting a workout in.  I repeat:  cooking morning to night for an entire day was not enough time to get ready for the week!  Taking the example of breakfast again, something I never had to do any kind of prep for when I was simply eating a bowl of cereal, I was now having to fully prep an entire additional meal in addition to lunches and dinners for the week, increasing my kitchen work time by 50% right off the bat.  I had to sacrifice more and more of my weekend to Whole30 prep time, and it got a little dicey pretty often.

Finally, doing Whole30 can be a bit of a lonely experience.  I’m fortunate that I had a co-worker roped in with me, and I’m very glad I was vocal about my decision to take on the program ahead of time so that people I see regularly would already be in the know and implicitly give me support and accountability, but social situations could be very trying.  It’s basically impossible to find something at a work function that’s likely to be compliant, aside from an undressed pile of lettuce and perhaps some raw fruit or veggies.  There is sugar in everything.  EVERYTHING.  It’s also an isolating feeling to be at a celebratory event and be the wet blanket who’s not raising a glass of fizz to the guest of honor, or digging into the cake alongside the rest of the guests.  I’m only grateful I didn’t have to do any traveling during those 30 days; that would have been straight-up painful.

All that being said, I *am* glad I did it this once.  I learned a lot, and I think differently about food now.  On day 21, when I was up to my ears in frustration with stalled progress and feeling stymied by the whole thing, I would have said it was a pure waste of time and money.  On day 22, the Whole30 gods mercifully gave me my tiger blood, and there was no turning back.

I’ve done one day of reintroduction (sugar), and just those 12 waking hours were enough to show me the effects of sugar on me:  it makes me feel guilty, and it immediately exhausts me.  After a few days on Whole30, I had no more energy crashes and maintained a pretty consistent level throughout the day pretty much every day.  One day back on sugar, and the spikes and crashes set back in immediately.  Mind you, it wasn’t even an unusually high amount of sugar; it was a bit that was a casualty of preparation from each meal (except the cupcakes — yeah, plural.  I was at a bridal shower and I baked those bad boys blind on day 30.  You really think I didn’t deserve both of them?!  😉 )  I hate sugar now.  I mean, I still like the taste, but I hate the concept of it.  It has wrecked many a person’s relationship with food, myself included.  Taste wise, I do now detect a chemically/artificial taste in sugary foods that I didn’t previously.  It’s interesting… and unnerving.

This week, I’m actually back on the program.  There was one last recipe I wanted to test out, and I figured that while I’m at it, I might as well just keep on the program full-time the rest of the week.  I’ll continue reintroduction at the end of that.  I’m curious to see what I’ll discover.

If you’re considering doing Whole30, my best piece of advice to you is to economize your money and time.  You should save money for a few weeks before you start, and you should plan out all your meals before you even begin the program so that you save yourself that time once you get started.  Search for and build your little Whole30-friendly library of recipes well in advance, and write out your grocery lists by week so they’re ready to go when you get there. Believe me, you’ll be grateful for that little gift of time you give to yourself.  Oh, and if you can, definitely get a friend to do it with you.  The support will help keep you going when it feels like the tiger blood fairy has forgotten you.

Just don’t ask me to be that friend.  I’m taking a hard pass on doing Whole30 again.