Holiday Maintenance Mode

In years past we’ve taken “Holiday Hiatuses” and learned to regret them. In fact the last “Holiday Hiatus” we took was the trigger that began our year and a half of being off-plan. It was really difficult to get our momentum going again and I am literally back down to losing the weight I had gained over that six week period of indulgence. I’ve managed to lose most of the subsequent weight I had gained following the hiatus, but I’m still working on the last 7lbs of the 11.6 I gained during the holidays two years ago.

This year? We’re not gaining. Just not gonna happen.

Our first holiday season on Weight Watchers, we did really well, even managing to lose weight. We would love to continue to lose weight this holiday season as well. So far, we’ve managed to avoid any weight gains, and just now encountered our first plateau (a swear word as far as Jason is concerned).

This week:

  • Jason 0.0 (-82.6)
  • Jenny -0.8 (-58.0)

Yep. I managed a small loss, which is why I’m blogging today. Jason stayed the same, which he hates so he’s not exactly in the right frame of mind to write an inspiring blog post. But I think that it’s not a good idea to stay in that mindset. This isn’t a plateau. This is holiday maintenance. So many people believe it’s impossible to avoid gaining weight over the holidays. We’re proof that if you don’t watch it, that’s exactly what will happen. Most people believe it’s impossible to lose weight over the holidays.

And we are doing just that.

True, Jason didn’t have a loss this week, but he sure did last week. We had two holiday dinners and he had a business trip this last week. We weren’t really on plan. But I managed to lose and Jason maintained. That’s good this time of year. This coming week is relatively free of holiday events for us (besides a ladies get together for me, during which there will be treat/recipe exchange – wish me luck, or even better share some of your healthy treats recipes with me!) so it’s a great week for us to focus on staying on our meal plan, hitting the gym (and our dumbbell sets at home) hard, and finding non-food ways to get in the holiday spirit.

We’ve got this – and so do you.

What are your plans for staying on track? Also, I was serious about sharing healthy treat recipes. Give ’em to me!

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Squats Are Evil

Seriously.

Wanting some more competitive scores on Fitocracy (points are skewed very heavily towards weight training vs cardio), Jason picked up a couple of weight sets at the store. Mine is a 3, 5, 8lb set and we got to work Saturday morning. If you’d like to see the details of my first strength workout, you can click here. I basically did up to 10 reps each of squats (10, 6, 6), bicep curls, tricep extensions, shoulder presses, one-arm rows in each of the three weights.

It felt good and I was confident in what I accomplished, so I told him we should do another workout. But not just another workout, we should do MOAR! We shouldn’t just step up the weight, but add two more sets of each to step back down. That workout is detailed here. I rocked it for a newb!

Until I woke up the next morning.

You see, the most recent experience I had had with squats was freshman P.E. in high school. I remembered nothing about pain. Of course, I also hadn’t done 72 weighted squats in one day in my life ever before that either. I died. My legs wouldn’t work. The most frustrating and disconcerting thing was that not only did it hurt to walk, but my legs kept trying to go out from underneath me. My thigh muscles were revolting to such a degree that they just refused to help my knees go the right direction. I hated feeling like I had traded one successful day for what would end up being four days of hardly being able to function.

I drank water, I stretched, I rested my legs and worked my arms, I whimpered and hobbled a lot.

I knew I was retaining water while I healed, so I was starting to get worried about this week’s weigh-in,  especially since I knew it had also impacted the amount of cardio I had just gotten used to doing. I just put my head down, focused on healing and getting in the activity I could do (dumbbells work on arms/shoulders).

Turns out I didn’t need to worry.

  • Jenny -1.8 (-54.8 total)
  • Jason -1.2 (-78 total)

I have exactly 10 more pounds to lose before I’m back to where I was before everything went haywire in our lives two years ago. It’s my goal to lose it by the end of the year. If I work hard, don’t get too caught up in the holidays and make sure I can focus, I feel like I can meet that goal.

I am happy to say that although I still think squats are evil, I haven’t sworn them off entirely. I’ve started working some body weight squats into my evening strength training (6 last night!) and my muscles have healed enough that I was able to complete my usual morning walk at pretty close to my normal pace. This is very good news, as I am starting to train to participate in a local Holiday 5K Fun Run/Walk (as a walker) to benefit Habitat for Humanity in three weeks. This means starting to get up earlier to increase my walk by 50% since I don’t have time to increase distance where my alarm is currently set to go off. But you know what? I can do this.

What goals do you have for the holiday season?

Solo… Again

I’m beginning to think he’s doing it on purpose.

Do you realize that Jason hasn’t blogged for a month and a half? His last post was 8-30. Usually, the person with the best weigh-in result in the one who writes that week’s results blog post. When we tied a few weeks back, he decided that I should be the one to blog. This week, I’m blogging by default because I’m the only one who weighed in. Jason is traveling on business and while he planned to find a local meeting last night, he ended up not leaving work until after 7pm, so it just didn’t happen. He might see if he can find a place to weigh in on Saturday, but I think the most likely scenario is that he’ll just skip this week and weigh in next week. I told him that he owes me. Regardless of weigh in results next week, it’s his turn to blog!

So, here is the result from my weigh in last night:

  • Jenny: -2.0 (-30.4 since back on plan, -50.8 overall)

I am, admittedly, still re-losing weight that I gained during our year and a half of false starts and excuses. Before we de-railed, I had earned my 10% keychain, 25lb medallion, stay and succeed medallion and my 50lb medallion. I was working hard towards my 75lb medallion, but hadn’t earned it yet. I’ve kept my keychain and medallions off to the side since basically losing all right to claim it with having gained back nearly 45lbs of what I had lost. When you re-gain weight, Weight Watchers doesn’t take back the recognition you had earned, because really, you did earn it. I just didn’t feel worthy of it any more.

Now, I can claim everything on my keychain.

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I’ve earned it, not once, but twice over. When you backslide as much as I did, it’s hard to admit failure and have the strength to move past it. It’s much easier to just feel like a failure and not try. Trust me, that attitude cost me about two years of progress on making my health better: the year and a half of ignoring it and a little over another half year catching up. It hasn’t been pretty, facing that reality, but I feel like I finally have the right attitude. I am proud of what I have accomplished since the beginning of the summer when we got back on plan. I’ve lost over 30lbs in 4-1/2 months! I’m hitting the healthy weight loss average right where all the doctors say you should be: 1-2 lbs/week (my average is 1.5). I’m losing at a better/steadier rate than during our first very successful year on Weight Watchers. Back then, I bounced between big losses and small gains. This year, it’s been a pretty steady, consistent rate of loss. It feels healthy, natural and right.

My next big milestone: Getting back to the weight I was before I let life distract me. I have exactly 14lbs to lose to get there. With my current average, I can do this by the end of the year. I’d really like to start 2014 without any of this hanging over my head (or around my hips). This time, I’m losing weight one realistic goal at a time.

For my gamer friends, let’s /dance to celebrate!

Weightloss Super Heroes

I’ve never thought of myself as a Weightloss Super Hero.

A recent experience has me thinking a lot about what it takes to be a super hero. Whenever I think of Weightloss Super Heroes I know, I think of my sister, who is rocking it over in the Fitocracy community, my twitter friend Chelsea who is a crossfit superstar (the girl is a beast, seriously) and my friend B.J. over at Geek Fitness. Each one of them would tell you that they’re still a work in progress (with fitness, isn’t everybody?) but they are leaps and bounds ahead of where I am and they are constant sources of awe and inspiration.

Ok, so this is where I bust out my nerd card. I really started thinking about super heroes as I tried to get to sleep last night. Most of the comic book super heroes (with the notable exceptions of the Tony Starks and Bruce Waynes, who start as billionaires with unlimited resources) start as average, everyday Joes (and Janes) who discover that they have a super power, mutation or fantastic alien genetics. They learn what they can do, try to harness it through trial and error and eventually find a way to help other people with their newfound power.

Like I said, I’ve never thought of myself as a Weightloss Super Hero. I aspire to it. I think maybe I’ll be one in a couple more years, when I have a better handle on this whole health thing. But then a couple of weeks ago, Weight Watchers contacted me via twitter. They had been watching my tweets (blog shares, food photos, meal planning, cheerleading stuff I do all the time) and loved what they saw. They asked for my address to send me a gift. I didn’t expect something as fun as this:

Maybe I had the beginnings of a super hero in me after all. I’ve thought a lot about this over the last couple of days. What did Weight Watchers see in me that I hadn’t seen in myself?

Three years ago, we started this blog as a way to chronicle our journey. We made it public, but I didn’t really think anyone would read it, much less find inspiration here. It was created as a place to be honest about every aspect of our journey, even if we weren’t proud of the results. It was a way to be publicly accountable in a way that just attending meetings and sharing with co-workers wouldn’t give us. Jason and I met online. So much of our identities and connections were here in the ether of the inter-webs. This is where we knew our friends were, where we knew some support could be found.

I never expected as much support as we’ve received. Even through our 18 months of false starts and kitchen remodels. Even through the back-sliding and weight gaining that resulted from it. Even more than the support, the feedback we’ve had on the blog has been incredible and uplifting. It happened again yesterday. Someone told me how much our blog inspired them.

It made me feel like a super hero.

Maybe that’s my Weightloss Super Power. This is an incredibly personal topic and journey. It is often embarrassing to share just how much work there is to do. It’s hard to share disappointment and regret. But I love to inspire. When I was a teenager, I loved being a cheerleader. There was a Freshman squad that didn’t do the tumbling that was required of the JV and Varsity squads. That suited me just fine, because I’ve never really loved athletics. What I did love was getting the crowd riled up and leading the spectators in cheers. I loved the contagious enthusiasm.

The funny thing is that even though the successes we have shared on this blog have been inspiring, I also learned that the honesty we’ve committed to here has also been inspiring. It isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Everyone struggles. If we only shared our successes, this blog would be pretty flat and one-sided. We’re real here. You know I’m Jenny and Jason is my husband and our journey has been far from perfect.

You know you’re not alone.

We don’t present perfection. No weightloss journey is perfect in it’s course. One slip-up or a million, doesn’t mean failure. It means you’re human. Maybe our Weightloss Super Power is Truth, even when it is embarrassing or makes us angry. We share it, and when we share it we find a way to be motivated or inspired by our shortcomings and share that inspiration with you.

Jason wasn’t happy about his weigh in results last night. While I lost 1.6 (making my current total 48.0) he stayed the same with a total of 73.2. He hadn’t tracked consistently this week and he’s so close to a significant milestone, he was really disappointed in the lack of progress.

But you know what he did? This morning, when the alarm was going off and his wife was mumbling about not wanting to get up, that we’d get going really well at the gym the next week, he got up. He is determined to have a loss next week and he knows that he needs to step up his activity to get there. Disappointed, he still got up, put on his gym clothes, tied on his shoes, and harnessed the dogs. He had time for a walk/run with the dogs and still made it back in time to fix our breakfast:

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He was my Super Hero this morning, and not just for the breakfast.

He inspires me.

And the Winner is…

Daisey!

Since she can’t type very well, I’m posting this week’s results on her behalf.

“Mama and Papa are totally starving me. I have to make sure I’m around when they put the food in my bowl or I won’t get anything to eat. One time, Mama started picking up my bowl WHILE I WAS STILL EATING! In a panic, I tried to cram as much in my mouth as possible. Of course I had to put it all down on the floor to eat it. I was very glad I gobbled it up fast enough that Sister didn’t steal it when she walked through the kitchen after finishing her own bowl (MUCH LARGER bowl, I’ll have you know). Mama gave my bowl back after Sister was safely locked away in the den. I don’t know why she made me panic for no reason, but I made sure I finished my bowl FAST, in case she took it away again.”

  • Jason -1.0
  • Jenny -1.8
  • Daisey -2.5

“Squirrel!”

Tie-Breaker

We don’t have one.

Usually, whoever loses the most weight at weigh in is the one that posts on the blog the next day. Last night we lost exactly the same amount of weight. I’m not sure that this has ever happened before between us. Somehow, Jason decided that it meant I needed to blog (I’m also the one who does the budget and today is payday, as well as traditionally being my busiest day at work – that’s a lot on my plate!) so you get a short and sweet results post today.

  • Jason: -2.0; -29.6 since back on plan; -72.2 total on the journey
  • Jenny: -2.0; -24.2 since back on plan; -44.6 total on the journey

I am still re-losing the weight I gained during the year and half that we took off, but I’m extremely pleased that I am taking it off faster than it went back on. They say that isn’t usually the case. Whether that is true or not, I’ve still lost over 24 pounds in three and a half months. That’s nothing to blow off. Jason is losing new weight and is well on his way to hitting the 75 pound milestone. I am extremely proud of both of us.

So, what do you think our tie-breaker should be? I mean, it may not ever happen again, but what if it does? Highest % of total body weight? Highest % of what we have to lose to reach goal? New weight vs. re-losing (this won’t be an option for long!)? You might have noticed that most of those skew towards Jason actually being the one to “win” the opportunity to blog. He says that I won this tie-breaker because 2 pounds means more to me than to him, since it is so difficult for me to lose.

I think he just wasn’t feeling like blogging today!

Daisey on a Diet

I keep trying to tell her that it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.

She just thinks we’re starving her.

Not too long ago, we took our older dog (she’s not really old, just older than the other at 6-1/2 years) to the vet because we were feeling lumps on one side both in her skin and underneath it. After a biopsy, followed by a surgery, she was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. While the growth was fully excised, due to the nature of mast cell tumors, we’re going to be checking her for lumps the rest of her life to stay ahead of it. When she went back in to have her stiches out, she also had her Annual Wellness Exam (referred to as AWE, now isn’t that sweet?) in which the vet pointed out the plaque on her teeth and her thickening middle. She said Daisey needed to lose a few pounds.

Now, the reason I’m talking about both her cancer and her weight in practically the same breath, is that it really made me think about another experience from about eleven years ago. I spoke about this in one of the first posts we made on our blog: The PINK Edition. My mom’s life was saved by the weight she had lost just prior to having her mammogram. If she hadn’t lost the weight, they wouldn’t have been able to get close enough to capture the lump in the image and they wouldn’t have caught her breast cancer in the very early stage that it was in. We were lucky with Daisey. Her tumor formed in her skin, so we could feel it pretty easily and so caught it at a stage I. Mast cell tumors can form under the skin, near vital organs, though. The next one could very easily not be in her skin.

Here’s a picture of Daisey taken last night:

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As you can see, she’s not the chubbiest dog you’ve ever seen. However, to be a healthy dog, her tummy should tuck up more and while you certainly shouldn’t be able to see her ribs, you should be able to feel them when pressing in at her sides. You can’t. If I can’t feel her ribs, how am I going to be able to feel a dangerous lump in or near her belly?

We have been calling her “Chunky Monkey” for a few years now as an endearment, so obviously we had noticed, but in our eyes, it hadn’t gotten to the point of restricting her access to food until the vet said so. I was very loathe to do this. You see, for over six years, we had never had to have feeding times for our dogs (even our lab mix). They had always been so good at self-regulating. The food was always there, so they never felt they had to eat it all in case it was gone. They ate when hungry and always left plenty of food in the bowl. For the most part, this was a really healthy way for them to live. It became a habit though, and as Daisey got older, less active, lazy and letting the younger dog do all the “work” during playtime, she kept eating the same way she had when she was only two years old. Each spring less of her winter weight would melt away and it all accumulated around her middle and on her rump.

Sound familiar?

Daisey’s weight snuck up on her (and us) just like ours had done years ago. She used to bounce around between 28-32 lbs depending on if she had her winter weight on or not. This summer she clocked in at 39 lbs. On a 100lb human, that’s like gaining 30+ lbs. Over the course of a few years, it happens, and if it’s not addressed, it becomes 40, then 50, until you suddenly have to lose half your body weight to be healthy again. In a way, we’ve learned from our own mistakes. We don’t want this to get out of control for Daisey, so we’re helping her do something she really can’t do on her own.

We switched her to a healthier blend from the same brand we’ve been feeding her since she was a puppy and we’re giving her appropriate servings for her size with the aim of losing weight. Once she loses the weight, we’ll keep her on the same food, but switch to the “maintenance” serving sizes they recommend. So, even though she thinks we’re starving her, it really is lifestyle change.

It’s very simplified and there isn’t much variety (but when you’re a dog, do you really get much variety?) but it’s a lot like what we’re doing in our own weight loss journey. We’re switching to healthier foods with familiar flavors. We’re eating less with an eye towards weight loss. Then we’re going to keep eating those same foods for the rest of our lives in slightly different proportions to maintain.

We were on vacation for part of last week and ended up slightly off-plan for about a week. We tried to make healthier choices, but didn’t bother tracking. I was really focused on being as active as I could for part of our vacation to offset the lack of tracking, and managed this one our first full day of the vacation:

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That’s a lot of green!

Coming back from being out of town it can be very difficult to know what to expect on the scale. The only thing you really hope for is to avoid a gain (or at least have it be a small one). Happily neither one of us gained at all:

  • Jason 0.0 stayed the same
  • Jenny -1.2

A little bit at a time, Daisey’s weight will come off. And a little bit at a time, so will ours. She isn’t magically going to be the lean little dog she was before and neither will we shed the pounds we’ve accumulated over the years overnight. It is a process, a journey, a lifelong shift in perspective and habit. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we don’t, but overall we are (all three) going in the right direction.

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