How Did I Get Here and Where Am I Going?

My partner and I after hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a completely awesome experience.  That's us at our skinniest (also our dirtiest after three days on the trail).

My partner and I after hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, a completely awesome experience. That’s us at our skinniest (also our dirtiest after three days on the trail).

When I was in junior high, I was at a friend’s house when she asked me if I wanted a cookie. She opened the closet, pulled out a previously opened bag, pulled out two cookies each, closed the bag, and returned it to the closet.

I thought to myself, “People keep cookies?”

It had never occurred to me, because we never did. When we went grocery shopping, very often the Oreos were opened in the car on the way home. By the end of the day, they were gone, and I am an only child.

That’s a lotta cookies per person, and a pretty good representation of the terrible eating habits I learned growing up. This was compounded by not much in the way of activity.

It is no surprise that my mother was often terribly overweight, fluctuating from 50 pounds to 200 pounds overweight, depending where she was in the diet cycle (aside: happily, a health scare had her drop 150 pounds, which she has held steady at for several years now; unfortunately, after being thin most of his adult life, my dad seems to have gained what she lost). Needless to say, I was an overweight child, though I was lucky to never really get beyond the “chunky” stage. There was often fad dieting in my house, and when I was 13 I turned “vegetarian”. This means I didn’t eat meat, but it doesn’t mean I ate healthy. I ate lots of pizza, fish sticks, grilled cheese, PB&J.

As a young adult, I discovered a love of the outdoors and got involved with the Appalachian Mountain Club. Their active schedule got me out a lot – having an appointed time to get somewhere and knowing I’d meet up with friends worked for me, and I was really involved with them for a number of years. Over the years it led to backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, biking, and any number of other adventures (I’m up to try anything once).  I also cleaned up my vegetarian diet, but it was never great.

Consequently, I’ve stayed relatively slim as an adult; most people who hear that I’m trying to get fit or lose weight say “but you don’t need to lose weight!” It drives me crazy! I could definitely afford to lose 15-20 pounds or so; I know that’s not a lot and the struggle is much more for other people. But trust me, when I’m naked, I’m not happy. No part of me is lean, and that’s where I’m trying to get.  I want to feel healthy!

Like many people, I’ve cycled through attempts. Up to a few years ago, when I tried to lose weight and “get fit”, I’d start counting calories and add in some cardio, and slowly I would succeed in losing 10-15 pounds (never actually getting to my goal weight or looking fit) before it I’d gain it all back. Two years ago we went to Peru and did the 26 mile Inca Trail trek; we trained and succeeded (aside: one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life, highly recommended) and I came back the thinnest I’d ever been. In spite of being happy and wanting to keep that going, I proceeded to eat everything in sight, and by that year’s Season of Gluttony (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) I had gained back everything and was completely disgusted with myself.

At the same time, an LA Fitness opened up in a location actually convenient for me to get to. I had been a member years ago; I liked their long hours, lots of classes, lots of options, the fact that you could go to any location (my partner travels a lot, so that is especially good for him), and the price was right (seriously, other gyms around here offer less services and are twice the price a month). My partner, also having gained back most of what he had lost coming out of our Peru trip, decided to do it with me. When went in for our “free” fitness assessment they did our BMI, and I’m pretty sure that’s the moment when my partner was ready to sign up for a Personal Trainer once a week.

Whoa, I wasn’t expecting that! It was a year-long commitment! That seemed like a lot, and it was expensive! But the truth is, I didn’t know how to do any of that stuff on my own, and I’d heard that we women are turning to mush inside as we get older, so I decided to do it, too.

I was very good in the beginning, dieting and doing cardio and doing my strength sessions. I never missed a session all year. But I couldn’t lose the weight…10 pounds came off very, very slowly. Worse, I had actually taken “before” pictures, because I was so sure that I would transform. It was very depressing to not see the results I wanted to see (truthfully I barely saw any results), and by mid-summer I had adopted the “why bother” attitude, eased up on the cardio (it takes too much time!), and officially gained all the lost weight back by Thanksgiving and once again be disgusted with myself.

Note: our trainer is great.  It’s not his fault I didn’t see results.  It is very clear to me that the blame for not getting the results I wanted all lies with me: not eating right, doing too little cardio, not doing my strength workouts as steadily as I should.  And oh, did I mention not eating right?

So that’s it. No more messing around. I saw a nutritionist. I did the cleanse to “reset” myself. I made a lot of plans. I’ve done a lot of reading. I’ve started cooking. I’m saving recipes all over the place. I set fitness goals for the coming year. We signed up for another year with the trainer. I’m ready. I’m in. Crikey, I hope it works this time.

One of my favorite bands, Guster (so much fun!!), has a wonderful song called “Come Downstairs And Say Hello”; it starts off slow, and builds the energy the lyrics are talking about. It seemed to speak to my situation, and I took the blog name right out of the song:

no more messing around and living
underground
and new year’s resolutions

to tell you the truth i’ve said it before
tomorrow i start in a new direction
one last time these words from me
i’m never saying them again

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Three Weeks And Counting!

It’s been three weeks since I started the cleanse.

Things that are going great:
• No soda in three weeks!! I can’t believe it! I wasn’t even thinking I’d do this going into the cleanse.

• No sweet-n-low in three weeks! (I switched to “natural” Stevia, and I’m counting that as a win, especially since I tried to make the switch before and failed.) Another “plus” from the cleanse that I hadn’t been thinking of going into it.

• No traditional cookies, candy, cakes, etc. in three weeks!

• I’m chewing way less gum (I used to go through a pack+ a day), and I’ve wanted to cut that back for a long time. Yet another positive I hadn’t thought of going into the cleanse.

• I’ve been eating much better, including cooking more at home.

• I’ve been doing more cardio, which I had sacrificed to strength training in recent months because it just takes too much time to do both.

• I’ve not really been craving the foods I’m trying to avoid; it hasn’t been a struggle much at all.

• I’ve kept off the weight I lost with the cleanse.

• I’m feeling “in the zone”.

Things that are not going great:

• I have been sick for two weeks!! I do not usually get colds, or at least colds that amount to anything, but this cold won’t quit. I even got pink eye as part of it!

• I’ve had a reduced appetite due to being sick and have been worrying that part of the reason I’m not struggling with overeating and cravings is just because I’m sick – that when I’m back to normal it will not be as easy.

• More home cooking means lots of time – and lots of dishes to take care of!

• In spite of three weeks of eating better and less, I have not lost any additional weight. I feel like the only person on the planet who can be sick for two weeks and not lose any weight.

• Because of being sick, I’ve hardly done any of my weight routines, and I haven’t managed to do yoga once. My ears have been very clogged with this cold, and downward dog has not been very appealing. I know from experience that not doing my routines means I am losing ground on them, and that’s depressing.

• There doesn’t really feel like any benefit to eating and drinking better. I don’t feel slimmer or less bloated or more energized or more anything positive. I just need to trust and believe I’m doing the right thing, but I’m worried how long I will stay in the zone without any results.

Jus by Julie: Post Cleanse – Oh, the Irony!

The Three Ingredient Cookie, picture  from the skinnytaste.com website.

The Three Ingredient Cookie, picture from the skinnytaste.com website.

The cleanse wrapped up with a total of 5 pounds lost, which was pretty awesome, and several days in, it’s still off (more on that in a minute). I had worried I would be rampaging through the kitchen afterwards, but I actually eased into my first meal, taking a while to get to it and then even longer to get through it. I found that first day and the days following that it has been much easier to not overeat, to stop when full and not overdo it.

It has also been surprisingly easy to resist temptation. As it is the season of gluttony (Thanksgiving to New Year’s), work has been a non-stop parade of homemade cookies and gift boxes of Godiva and the like. I cannot believe I am reporting that I didn’t partake of anything! Someone actually left treats directly on my desk, and I quickly removed them to a common area. We also had some family holiday visiting, which is almost always a source of weight gain (in fact, Thanksgiving is what pushed me over the edge), and I didn’t eat ANYTHING I was mad at myself for afterwards (though I did think about it a few times).

I had been addicted to soda (oh, Coke Zero, how I love thee) prior to the cleanse, and while I hadn’t gone into the cleanse with this in mind, once it was over I decided to see how long I could go without it. It’s been well over a week, and so far I’ve not partaken once, and mostly haven’t even thought about it. I kind of can’t believe it myself. I’ve been drinking a lot of tea, and also some Crystal Lite made with Stevia – yeah, I know that’s not awesome, but baby steps.

I spent the first day post-cleanse preparing some meals and snacks for the week and generally planning ahead. This was time-consuming: researching, shopping, preparing, packaging, cleaning up. That first trip to the grocery store was expensive, buying a bunch of “new staples” I haven’t had before, like coconut flour and chia.

One of the concerns I have is my sweet tooth. I love sweet! Like, I can eat icing right out the container, which not only demonstrates my sweet tooth, it shows how comfortable I am with processed foods. All that’s gotta change! But too much change could set me up for failure; I can’t just say “no more sweets!” and hope it sticks.

One of the recipes I made was a “three ingredient cookie” (for instance: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/02/healthy-cookies.html): mashed banana, walnuts and oats. I had made it once before, we tried it and agreed it was good, then never ate another one. This time I added an egg, a generous amount of cinnamon and vanilla, a bit of stevia, then more oats to thicken it up. This worked out to 44 calories per cookie, and I felt like they tasted pretty good. Is this wishful thinking, or have I reset my tastebuds a bit with the cleanse? I have been snacking on them throughout the week, but never tempted to overdo it, and it has filled the mid-afternoon “time for a treat” time slot nicely.

One other treat was to take a banana, slice it in half length-wise, spread with peanut butter, reassemble and freeze. I used PB2, and then cut the whole thing in half; that works out to about 70 calories per half, not bad for a treat. I liked it enough to make some more later in the week, and have used it for the late night “something sweet right now would be awesome” time slot.

Post-cleanse I needed to get back to the gym, which I did the first day it was over. I got on the stepper to warm up feeling totally fine and started going at it. Very quickly my heart started racing and I had to dial it back. Only 10 minutes, but I felt dehydrated, which is ironic considering all I had to drink in the previous three days. I made it through my legs routine pretty well (exercises and lifts were all in line with what I had done pre-cleanse), but I was sweating like crazy and drinking water non-stop. I felt the same way the next few days…needing way more to drink than I had previously, and like my heart was quick to start racing, even just from taking the stairs at work.

And then…

I got sick. I cannot believe the irony of doing a reset and eating healthier, only to get sick with a pretty decent cold. Now, my partner got sick first (he travels a lot, it is not uncommon for him to get sick) and several people at work are sick, so I’m sure this is coincidental, but the timing kind of sucks. Because I have to wonder how much of my ability to resist temptation and stick to healthier eating habits, not to mention the 5 pounds kept off since the cleanse, are all because I am sick and not because I’ve reset? On the other hand, if this prolongs my start, hopefully it aids in helping my new healthy eating habits stick.  Time will tell..

Jus By Julie Cleanse: Day 3

A picture of Choco-Nana from the Jus by Julie website.  What have we here, does that say chocolate?!

A picture of Choco-Nana from the Jus by Julie website. What have we here, does that say chocolate?!

I was very pleasantly surprised to wake up down another 1.4 pounds; I wasn’t expecting it, as it didn’t really seem like people were losing weight on this, and it’s not like I am very overweight. Not complaining! Just worried it would come zooming back when I start eating again tomorrow and be a mental stumbling block. Who’s thinking about eating?!

I slept a long time again, around 10-11 hours. I felt fine in the morning, no headache, fine energy. I had been thinking I would try the gym one day, but it was clear if I did that I would need to eat something and I really wanted to stay on track, so I decided to just take care of things around the house and run a few errands.

I can’t say I wanted to have that Morning Glory drink again – ugh, just the smell when I popped it open had me resistant. Maybe a cup of tea first?? Honestly, I used to the tea as a reward in between this drink – and the thought of ME using TEA as REWARD is nearly ludicrous.

My drinks were all mostly ones I’d already had, and the day progressed nicely. One of my errands was to go to a chocolate store to pick up treats, and it was surprisingly easy, even when offered a free sample. Every other year I have certainly bought myself something as well, but I wasn’t even tempted, I didn’t even look!

I was a bit amazed about the amount of peeing needed all day long, and at one point even started timing how long it took because I just couldn’t believe it (the record was 17 seconds, though I’m sure I blew that record away the day before when I wasn’t timing things).

I did not look forward to Sweet Spin (green drink), but it went down better than I thought it would…I would say that I got somewhat accustomed to the taste, but it is impossible to think I will ever willingly make a drink with kale and spinach in it for myself.

The fifth drink of the day was the only new one for the day; it’s called Choco-Nana, and chocolate is suspiciously listed as the first ingredient. The Spicy Lemonade drink had maple syrup and cayenne pepper in it, but I think all of the others were strictly veggies, fruit and water, so I was very surprised by this turn of events. But oh so happy! It was very much like a treat!! Hard not to gulp down in one go.

I was not looking forward to that last drink (need I say it was green?), but it went down ok, I must have acclimated. Had another cup of tea and I could say that I successfully did it!

I had spent part of the day researching lots of recipes, making a food shopping list and generally making plans for what I would be eating in the coming days, as I did this cleanse for a reset (crappy eater before, healthy eater after). I had thought this might be really difficult (create the temptation to cheat) because I had not had solid food in three full days, but it was really totally fine. Honestly, doing the cleanse was kind of a break – you just don’t worry about what you’ll eat next or be tempted to snack because “I can’t have it on the cleanse”. I thought it would be a lot harder than it was.

I was very pleased with myself for making it through without cheating, and felt I had successfully reset. The coming days will tell…

Jus By Julie Cleanse: Day 2

From the Jus by Julie website...my nemesis, Morning Glory.

Photo from the Jus by Julie website…my nemesis, Morning Glory.

I let myself sleep as long as I wanted; I had the day off and had not slept well the week before. I slept for 12 hours!! I don’t know how much of that was due to the prior week of inadequate sleep and how much related to only having 850 calories the day before. I do know that I was not eager to get up and have that Morning Glory juice. I awoke feeling a bit groggy and with a slight headache, which I was a little worried about. I did wake up thinking of food. 😉  I was down 2 pounds, which I was quite surprised about, as the reviews didn’t really indicate much in the weight loss department.

I had put everything in the fridge from the freezer last night; unfortunately it was still frozen solid. I put the first juice into a bowl of hot water and settled in with a cup of tea, which I much preferred. The juice defrosted quickly enough and I had to gulp it between sips tea; it was a challenge to drink that first juice, and disappointing that it is the same one I’ll start the day with again tomorrow. My headache disappeared quickly and I felt like I had plenty of energy to do the stuff around the house I wanted to do.

Because it was so late into the day already, I moved right into my second juice, which had mostly defrosted sitting on the counter. Spicy Pome-Nade is much like yesterday’s drink number 2 and quite enjoyable; it actually tastes like a normal drink!

Another round of Sweet Spin (the same green drink as yesterday – and oh goodie, the same green drink I get to have tomorrow) before moving on to the Chia Berry drink.  This had bits of chia floating in it, which is normally a turnoff for me, but it was fine in this drink. It felt like I was drinking a mostly melted real-fruit popsicle, very sweet (I love sweet!).

I had high hopes for drink number four, Not So Chunky, as peanut butter and banana is a combination I am quite fond of. It was pretty good, probably the best drink of the day again.

Around 7 I started feeling hungry, so it was time for my last drink, a repeat of yesterday’s X-treme Greens. I just cannot feel desire towards these green drinks. By 10 I was feeling slightly hungry and had a few pieces of sugar-free gum, which is allowed, but I would rather have not resorted to it.

I found myself a bit hungry by bed-time, so I had some tea so I would be able to sleep and also not wake up starving.

There was a lot of peeing today, but nothing by way of bathroom adventures like I had on the cleanse I did a few years ago. Good energy throughout the day, no obsessing over food or drinks (this girl loves Coke Zero) I couldn’t have. All in all I was pretty pleased to have made it through my second day relatively easily, especially being in the house with a lot of temptation. Two-thirds of the way there – woo-hoo!!

Jus By Julie Cleanse: Day 1

This picture is from the Jus by Julie website - look how beautiful the drinks look!

This picture is from the Jus by Julie website – don’t the drinks look beautiful?!

I wasn’t very hungry when I got up, possibly due to the binge-fest I had the night before, so I didn’t get started on my first drink until I was settled in at work, a bit after 9 a.m. The first drink, Morning Glory, was a not-very-promising green; yes, I know green smoothies are all the thing, but I can’t help but think a salad-put-into-a-blender is not very appealing, especially for breakfast.

The juices look beautiful. The reviews are awesome. The drink contains things I like in my shakes – like strawberries and bananas – and things I routinely eat on my own, so I do feel like I went in with an open mind. Maybe I’d love it and put kale in my smoothies all the time, so healthy!

Part of my plan to stick with this was to tell everyone about it; in that spirit I texted my girlfriend a picture and she replied “looks yummy!” I wrote back, “It is emphatically not yummy”. It so much tasted like a salad put into a blender, I really had to choke it down. I wound up preparing one of my two allowed cups of green tea with stevia, and I had to alternate between shots of Jus (try to swallow without tasting!) and the soothing tea. It took me nearly an hour to finish it.

A little over an hour later (this being two hours after I started the first drink), I was ready to start the second Jus, Spicy Lemonade. I had not properly factored how long these would take to unfreeze in the fridge, so this was quite slushy, though I have to admit I liked it that way. This drink was quite tasty, though the cayenne pepper provides quite a quick!

My staff ordered in pizza, and I had peeked ahead to see the next bottle was green. That made me feel a little defeated, but by this point I had told too many people to quit (isn’t everyone interested in my cleanse?!).

I had my second cup of tea and some more water, and the bathroom breaks began in earnest by the time I started drink three, Sweet Spin, a little after 2 pm. It’s a lie: it’s not sweet, in spite of pineapple, banana, mango – they just can’t override the spinach and kale. Took an hour to finish again.

Like clockwork, 2 hours later I was ready for another drink; I was feeling a little caffeine deprived at this point, too. Number four, Acai Blend, was good, not great – I had better hopes after reading the ingredient list (acai berries, strawberries, banana). At this point I was pretty alarmed by the amount of sugar I was consuming in all of these drinks, and also that they listed hardly any nutritional value other than vitamins A and C. Is there really a benefit to this?

My cancelled trainer appointment was surprise rescheduled for the evening, which threw me off a little – should I drink before – would I make myself sick? In the end, by 6 pm (yes, another two hours), I was starting to feel hungry, so I cracked open bottle number five, Island Coconut. Oh my, it was great – like drinking a dessert! Yeah!! I only drank half, as I didn’t want to overdo it before my training session. All went well – I did the easiest of my routines, 25 minutes with the trainer, then another 25 to finish up on my own. I couldn’t wait to get in the car and finis this drink!
At 8 pm I was ready for the last bottle, Xtreme Green; yes, you guessed it, more kale and spinach. I considered skipping it because it just seemed so unappealing, but I didn’t want to wake up starving, or not be able to sleep because of hunger. Additionally, this drink had the most protein of the day (a whopping 6 grams), so I really felt like I should suffer through. The lime, pineapple, and orange did come through enough to make the other two green drinks lower on my list than this one.

I was really stunned about the amount of sugar – over 100 grams for the day. I checked out their website to see if it was addressed, but it’s not. Yes, the sugar is nearly all from fruit, but it still seems crazy. And the day ended with a paltry 16 grams of protein; the website says “you will be receiving an ample amount of protein to sustain you throughout the course of the day”, but even vegetarian me finds this shockingly low. The day is also well under on fiber, iron, calcium, and who knows what else because it’s not on the label.

I survived the day feeling totally fine, though a bit sleepy – hard to tell how much of that is because of how poorly I slept the previous week and how much is due to the cleanse (only 850 calories today, plus I burned some off at the gym). I have to think someone much larger than me would be pretty hungry today (I’m 5’6” and 137 pounds). I felt relatively full and did not obsess about food, though I was actually excited about being allowed to have my vitamins since they are mostly gummy vitamins – yeah, chewing!!

I’ve Had It With Myself: It’s Time For a Reset

Yep, this is my first post, and I’m just jumping right in. I’ll get there later with what up with me.

The bottom line is that I’m disgusted with myself. I have officially gained back all the weight I really struggled to lose this past year – 10 pounds and that wasn’t even where I needed to get to – and something’s got to be done.

I decided to do a cleanse to “reset” – basically three days of juicing, after which I would be a better eater than before. Simple, right?

I had done a three day cleanse a few years ago, which involved on day two a horrible headache, vomiting at work (office job – nice), and enough, um, bathroom adventure that I actually googled “what to expect on a cleanse”. I didn’t want to go through that again, especially since I’m just using it as a reset period.  I’m not convinced there is such a thing as detoxing, and google is no help on this topic.

After some googling around, I decided that without a juicer and the time to make everything, it would be easier (and probably not much more expensive) to let someone else handle it. And it turns out you can buy almost anything on Amazon, which is awesome, ‘cause the reviews helped me understand what to expect. I settled on Jus by Julie, which promised “A three day juice cleanse is a quick and easy way to restart your body and start fresh”. Perfect!

I placed my order on a Monday night, and was anxious about delivery on Wednesday, as I knew the product needed to get into the fridge and freezer ASAP. Unfortunately, I received shipping notification, but not tracking information, so I had no idea if it was in the building and sitting in our shipping department or what. (I had it shipped to work, rather than leaving it to sit on my porch all day.) Fortunately when it arrived it was still quite slushy, and I was quickly able to find the directions and get my juices split up between fridge and freezer and what was staying at work and what was coming home.

Naturally, I spent the day eating worse than the recent not-very-good eating I’d been doing, reminding myself I wouldn’t be able to eat for the next three days. Yes, when it comes to food, I can talk myself into anything.

I had an appointment with the trainer at the gym; he cancelled on me (unusual), but I was a good girl and went anyway, figuring that it would be tough to go on so few calories in the coming days. I did my core routine, the highest impact of my routines, and then stayed on for a yoga class.

Then I came home and ate some more. And some more. Did I mention that I’m disgusted with myself?