getting healthy! monthly check-in

It’s going…  OK. I’ve lost 2 more pounds since I last wrote… not as much as I would have liked (I was shooting for 1lb/week), but still, a loss is a loss. Considering how one of those weeks was particularly difficult due to travel, and how I haven’t really pushed myself very hard, and how I just went back to work in late November… let’s just say there were enough obstacles that I should probably consider those two pounds a huge success under the circumstances.

(And hey, my house still looks fantastic!)

I was particularly nervous about going back to work, but I think I’ve found a routine that’s going to stick. Currently I walk to and from the office most days, which nets me about 4-5k steps total. Tim takes the girls to school/daycare so I’m free to walk in the morning, then I’ll sometimes walk home for lunch or across campus to Ellie’s school at the end of the day. Two of the three walks per day, plus a concentrated effort to get up from my desk every half hour, is usually enough activity to finish my evenings with relatively little effort. There’s some flexibility built in and I’m always on the lookout for alternatives in the event I can’t do one of my daily walks–for example, I walk to meetings whenever possible or I’ll jog up and down the stairs in my building during breaks. If it gets too cold to walk, I plan on firing up the Wii again.

I also started playing Health Month in earnest, and while I thought the idea was a little hokey at first, I’m surprised at just how motivating it is. I haven’t walked less than 10k steps a day since the start of December because I’m held accountable to that goal every day. Funny how something so simple can be so effective.

There’s also something to be said for the fact that I feel better, not just physically but mentally as well. I noticed after our trip to Santa’s Village that I was not nearly as exhausted as I would have been before–I was tired and sore being on my feet all day, sure, but I didn’t need the following two days just to recover. I also feel more capable, if that makes sense–tasks that used to seem impossible become manageable when I remind myself that little steps add up to big things. It’s a refreshing new way of looking at the world and I’m enjoying it.

So in summary, I’m keeping at it. Some days are easier than others and I suppose it will always be that way. I have to remind myself that weight loss, while a nice side effect, should not be my primary measurement of progress. I’d be happy to maintain my current weight as long as I continue to make small changes toward bettering my health. I want this process to evolve organically in hopes it will become habit and not a dreaded daily chore.

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fat girl with a fitbit

Remember last October when I started up that exercise routine? And was doing really well and enjoying myself? And then I got knocked up and promptly forgot all about it? Yeah.

I knew I’d need some particularly powerful motivation to get back on the wagon this time. I remember from Ellie’s early days how easy it is to sit around with a snoozy, snuggly baby on my chest.

Then I came across Fitbit and was immediately intrigued. I love me some tech-geeky gadgets; even better if they come with statistics and charts and graphs. I debated with myself… it was expensive, at $100 for the fancy tracker, but I could justify that easily enough. A membership to the local rec center costs $400 a year and I wouldn’t use it every day, not to mention the hassle of having to arrange for childcare, finding a convenient time to go, etc. And I do need to lose a significant amount of weight somehow. Although I’ve yet to encounter major issues as a result of my weight, I know it’s just a matter of time. I’m still relatively young and I have a sneaking suspicion my thirties and forties will not be as forgiving on the health front.

So in short, I decided $100 was a small price to pay for the improvement of my health and clicked the “Buy Now” button.

After a month with the Fitbit, I’ve not been disappointed. It’s a huge motivator–the Fitbit is always with me. If I sit on my ass all day, it knows. And I aim to please my future robot overlords, so I’m always looking for excuses to add steps or floors to my daily totals. At first I was totally beat by the end of the day–if you’re not already living an active lifestyle, 10,000 daily steps is a challenge–but now I find I can’t sit still for very long before I have the urge to get up and do something. It’s a refreshing change compared to the no-energy-to-get-out-of-my-chair feeling I had before.

Another part of this personal project involves tracking what I eat. I’ve done this before, usually without much success. I tend to get obsessive with these things, to the point where one failure equals total failure and epic disappointment. Drama queen, me? Never. But I’m finding it’s not as difficult this time. I’m more forgiving, which I think comes from knowing exactly how active I’ve been. And thanks to Fitbit’s goal program, I realized I actually need to eat more than I thought I did… if I eat too little, my body brings my already snail-like metabolism to a screeching halt and causes all sorts of problems. So this is helpful in ensuring I get the nutrition I need so I can keep my metabolism trundling along. The best part is the food tracker that tells me how many calories I’ve “earned” as a result of my activity level on any given day. If I move more, I get to eat more–awesome.

One of the things that makes Fitbit unique as a fitness gadget is the ability to track not only your daily activity but your sleep patterns as well. In my case, it’s particularly important because we’re often up and down with Gwen at night. I was surprised to find that even on our “bad” nights I’m still usually getting a solid seven hours of sleep. Not bad for having a two-month-old!

The results speak for themselves–I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last month and I feel so much better. I have quite a way to go, but I think I’m going to be able to stick with it this time. The real challenge will come in just under two weeks when I go back to my desk job. I have a feeling it will not be nearly as easy to get my steps and floors in, but I’m already making plans. I’ll cover my current exercise routines and how I plan to stay active in a future blog post.

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2010 in review

Elspeth's Second BirthdayThe fact that I’m 10 days late with this year in review is appropriate, given how regular I’ve been about blogging lately… which is to say, not regular at all!

One of the things I did start in 2010, albeit a little late, was a regular exercise routine. Since mid-October I’ve exercised every single day in some form or another, and I definitely notice a difference. Without changing my diet drastically, I’ve lost about 10 lbs and I feel so much better about myself. I knew there was a reason I used to do this! I’m sticking to 20 minutes a day of either aerobic stepping with Wii Fit or Dance Dance Revolution… DDR in particular is a really good workout. That’s one thing I’ll definitely be continuing in the new year.

The other health-related thing I’d like to keep up with: No fast food. I don’t even really like the stuff, but it’s so easy to get into the habit of pulling up to the drive-through when I’m in a rush. Tim and I have made a point of bringing our lunches to work for the last month and it’s greatly helped our budget and health, so this month we’re using the same rule for breakfasts to save even more money.

2010 was a moderately creative year as well. I put all of last year’s doodles in a set and came up with nearly 90 illustrations, which doesn’t even include all the custom design for other clients. Photographically I was also more active in 2010–only 3 shoots total, but that’s a huge improvement over the big fat zero from 2009. And I’m really proud of the work I did produce, so I hope to keep that going this year. And I’m proud of the websites I’ve built for myself this year, even if I haven’t exactly been consistent about updating them!

On a personal note, Tim and I celebrated 10 years together in 2010. We also celebrated Elspeth’s second birthday, and our second year of parenting a toddler–yikes. And we survived our second major home project when we renovated our downstairs bathroom (practically at gunpoint, thanks to water damage and black mold, but still.) I checked an item off my life list when we saw Joshua Radin in concert. We also had our first family vacation and escaped with our sanity mostly intact, which is something.

Phew. I don’t think I realized until now just how busy 2010 was. I have a sneaking suspicion 2011 is going to be just as busy on all fronts. Case in point: There will be potty training.

Bring it on!

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i like to move it move it

Apologies for the title. Last month, I set a short-term goal of exercising every day for 21 days (thinking if I could do that, it would become habit) and I’ve kept it up for over a month with relatively few complaints. My long-term goal is to get in shape, although I really hate that term–“in shape.” I am “in shape” and that shape is a rather large circle. But I digress. Let’s just say I want to feel healthier.

Exercise and I have a tenuous relationship at best. In college I started walking 20-30 minutes a day and that was my primary exercise. I’m not sure what prompted the routine, but I stuck with it for several years (somewhat begrudgingly.) I was temporarily knocked off track (pardon the pun) when I broke my foot in September 2006, and then again when I got pregnant with Ellie. After Ellie was born, I tried to get back into regular activity using the Wii Fit but that got boring pretty fast.

So this time, I’m making an attempt to do some form of physical activity–20 minutes or so–every day. No pressure. So far that involves walking home from work or aerobic stepping on the Wii, and occasionally I’ll substitute another exercise-like activity for the usual 20-minute stint. As far as I’m concerned, if I sweat, it counts. What surprises me is that I rarely find myself thinking, “I don’t want to do this!” If anything, I look forward to the little break each day. I’ve also lost about 5 lbs, which is a nice bonus.

The biggest challenge will be keeping myself interested when winter sets in and walking outside is not possible. I’m considering a new treadmill, but we’ll see how I fare with the Wii for now. I also have DDR in the event Wii Fit gets boring. Month two, here I come!

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a breath of fresh air

ellie plays in the leavesI’ve come away from the long weekend feeling motivated and inspired. Maybe it’s the fall air, or maybe it’s that I finally feel rested and “caught up” for the first time in weeks. We spent a few days at my parents’, and the peace and quiet (and the extra sets of hands for Miss Crazy Toddler–thanks mom and dad) gave me some time to think. And when I think, I make lists!

My big to-do list for the month:

  1. Fix my treadmill–or, in the event it can’t be fixed, purchase a new treadmill–and make a point of walking almost every day. I miss my old routine from a few years ago and I think I’d feel better if I could jump start that habit. In the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of the nice weather and walk outside at least once a day.
  2. Figure out where to configure a small studio space in our home so I can continue to work on photography this winter. One shoot per month would be ideal, more if I have the time/inclination. Research lenses and consider a couple upgrades (a new AF prime would be practical, but a Lensbaby with a few inserts would be frivolous and fun–and who’s motivated by practicality, anyway?) Speaking of photos, I’ll be posting some new photos from a recent shoot soon!
  3. Start mapping out the next few years, to whatever extent possible. I’m starting to feel that late-20’s “itch” (Saturn return, anyone?) to figure out where I want to be and what I want to be doing with my life. Not that I’m not happy with things right now, but I want my daily life to actively contribute to more long-term goals. The problem is, I don’t really have any long-term goals–common sense dictates I should start there, no? Part of this will involve working some more on my life list, which is something I’ve been picking away at here and there but have yet to really focus on.

I also got to play in the leaves with my favorite girl this weekend, which was a joy (as you can plainly see.) It was a reminder of what is truly important… fun times, my family, good health. As a Professional Anxiety-Ridden Worrywort, I often forget how lucky we are. Sometimes it takes a simple moment to bring me back into focus.

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