30 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday and my frustrations with SmartPoints

Starting weight: 259.8
Last Week: 259.2
This week: 263.6
Weight lost this week: +4.4
Total weight lost: +3.8

Oh, holiday season.

I can't even pretend to be surprised. I mean, between being sick and wanting only comfort foods (which are never scale friendly) and Christmas and holiday parties and, well, yeah. Four and a half pounds are bound to happen.

It's frustrating because I want to follow the Weight Watchers new Smart Points plan but I find it challenging. Really challenging. Not in a "I'm going to challenge myself to run a half-marathon!" optimistic challenging, but in a "This is impossible and I'm never, ever going to succeed" challenging.

In the beginning, I liked that sugar was now part of the calculations because I, like most people, eat too much of it. The problem I'm finding is that it the whole plan feels far, far more restrictive than before. It's not like I was binging on candy bars but I liked knowing if I wanted, I had the option to have a small splurge and go about the rest of my day. There are no small splurges. All those small splurges are now big, some really big points wise, and having one puts me over which makes me just say fuck it and throw the whole plan out the window.

I think my issue is that it feels less like a "lifestyle change" and now feels like a diet. Like a legit restrictive, confining, punishing, depriving diet. Which is pretty much the exact opposite of how I want to feel.

It's not even that I'm sabotaging myself. Playing off of what I talked about on Monday, this was my breakfast on Tuesday:

Two slices of this hearty whole grain wheatberry bread that I'm obsessed with. Two slices Gouda. Topped with 1/2 smashed avocado. Only thing missing would be some protein in the form of an egg, but I was doing this at work and didn't have any hard boiled ones to bring with me. 

Delicious. Tasty. Carbs, dairy, good fats. Kept me full until lunch. 

And almost 20 Weight Watchers SmartPoints. Add in the that egg and I'd be at half my daily SmartPoints just at breakfast.

So this is where I'm feeling frustrated because that is a good breakfast but if I were to make it Weight Watchers friendly I'd have to use some "light" bread or low-fat or fat-free cheese (granted, I could have gotten away with only one slice split between the two but Gouda).

Also, what exactly is the point of the FitPoints if we aren't encouraged to swap them? I liked the Activity Points. I liked the fact that when I hooked up my FitBit there was a baseline of activity I had to hit before it started counting it. I liked knowing that if I went over on Weekly Points there was that bit of a buffer of APs. I didn't work out just to eat more, but when I'm training I'm working out a lot which means I need to eat more to keep my body fueled which means I used those Activity Points.

Now, though, we earn FitPoints for basically do nothing all day and there's no baseline like before. Plus, while I know the official word is that yes you can swap if necessary, it's more of an opt-in thing, you have to go into your account and change the settings which suggests that, no, they don't actually really want you doing that. So then what, exactly, is the point of them? Especially if the threshold to earn is so ridiculously low?

On December 21st I stayed home sick. I literally spent the day in bed and by the end had 1092 total steps. WHY AM I EARNING 2 FITPOINTS FOR THAT?!

Ugh. I can't even with this anymore.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

28 December 2015

New Year, New You, and Nutritional Wisdom

As a librarian and writer, it's safe to say that books are kind of my thing. I read a lot, y'all. Like, I can't even. I also have a job where I get to listen to audiobooks while working so there's even more books. (That said, I'm horrible about keeping track of what I read. That's one of my goals for 2016.)

Lately, though, my book choices have been very deliberate:

For the past few weeks I've been looking at food through a much different lens. Instead of focusing so much on "good" foods versus "bad" foods, I've been trying to take a more...scientific approach, I guess. I mentioned a couple weeks ago I'm trying to stay away from "frakenfoods" and while I loathe the term "real food," these books are part of that approach. If we are talking about things other than fruits and veggies, this can sometimes be a flaw in Weight Watchers points systems because things that are nutritionally sound or nutritionally dense, like good fats from avocado and peanut butter or whole grain bread, can be higher in points than their "light" counterparts which are often lacking in any real nutritional value.

Runner's World Meals on the Run was a book that one of my guests mentioned on my podcast and I asked for it for Christmas and then I actually bought The Food Lab for my brother-in-law, only to have BC buy me my own copy!

So far, one of the most interesting things to come out of The Dorito Effect is the concept of nutritional wisdom. It's seen in animals in the wild who are able to recognize what nutrients and vitamins their bodies need and eat the foods that will provide those nutrients in the amount needed, no more and no less. They use these foods to keep their body in check. They know what foods provide what nutrients so if they are low in some vitamin, they'll seek food out that will provide it.

Reading about this provided a light bulb moment: sometimes after a couple days of poor eating I find myself really, really, really want a salad. Like a big, green dense salad packed full of veggies with some grilled chicken on top. Nutritional wisdom! That craving comes from my body wanting to balance out the prior food choices that were not nutritionally sound.

After having this light bulb moment, I was at brunch with BC and decided to listen to my body while looking at the menu. Sure, the carb heavy pancakes and French toast sounded good to my head, but what did my body think sounded good? I honestly wouldn't have normally gone for steak and eggs, but my eyes kept wandering back and the little 3 oz steak with eggs on the side was just what I needed. Considering the holiday weekend was spent eating far more sweets and cookies than normal, I probably was lacking in protein.

I always say that when I over analyze foods I tend to make worse choices, whereas I tend to make better choices when I don't think about it. But I don't think that's what it is -- I don't think it's a matter of not thinking about it, I think it's a matter of listening to my body versus listening to my head. It's mindful eating in some ways, but that just seems to, I don't know, leave so much to chance. Like, I understand the concept of mindful eating, but it's hard to trust your body after a lifetime of weight struggles. Adding science! and research! to the mix makes it easier to wrap my head around.

I've struggled with my weight my entire life. I've been on and off different diet plans for, like, ten years now. Probably longer. I don't want to spend the rest of my life counting calories or counting Weight Watchers points so if I can start making changes now that will stay with me, I can hopefully adopt this as a lifelong thing.

I also spent part of my time off catching up on my running magazines and in one I found out about publishing company Rodale U's online courses. They have these upcoming 21 Day Challenges and I signed up for the 21 Day Challenge to Take Control Of Your Eating.

It seems like I always start the new year with an intention to gain a better relationship with food, but this year I feel prepared going in. Like, it's not something I'm just going to wake up on January 1st and decide to do -- I'm doing research and seeing it as some big personal project, rather than just something I'm going to magically figure out with sheer luck.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

23 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday: Week Eighteen

This was my first full week on Weight Watchers new Smart Points system and while I did really well for the first couple days during the work week, when Friday hit so did a very, very busy weekend and a head cold. I don't know about you, but when I get sick all I want are comfort foods, which are not known for being the best choices. So I was pleasantly surprised to step on the scale and see a loss:

Starting weight: 259.8
Last Week: 260.6
This week: 259.2
Weight lost this week: -1.4
Total weight lost: -0.6

I'm sure Weight Watchers has their reasons for introducing this new plan right before the holiday season, but man. I mean, this time of year is hard enough with all the parties and such, it's difficult as it is just to survive without going completely off the rails, let alone trying to do that and get used to a new system where foods that were already splurges now use up even more points.

This past weekend was an early Christmas with BC's family and of course actual Christmas is this weekend with my family. I tend to do okay during the work week because it's structured and I pack lunches and such, but weekends are hard. Holiday weekends are the hardest of all.

The first two days of this week have, uh, not been good so, seriously: right now I'm just trying to make it through the rest of 2015 without gaining 10 pounds. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

16 December 2015

Weigh In Wednesday: Week Seventeen

I finally figured out how to switch my weigh in day on the Weight Watchers app to Monday, which is the day I've been stepping on the scale for the past few weeks. (Although, apparently, this is something I'm technically still not supposed to be able to do but I found a random link in one of the WW forums that directed me to an assessment that gives the choice to change days so I think it's more like a back door kind of thing. Specifically, I suspect it's what brand new online members use when they first register, it's just an open link that can be accessed.) It's been kind of annoying because my app has been resetting on Thursdays, so I've been having to figure out my Weekly Points and Activity Points manually in a notebook.

Anyway, because I'm now able to officially weigh in on Mondays, I'm going to change my weekly weight update to Wednesdays instead of waiting until Fridays. So welcome to the first Weigh In Wednesday post!

Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 260.6
Weight lost this week: +1.8
Total weight lost: +0.8

So, last week was weird in that I spent Monday-Wednesday on the old plan and then Thursday logged into the app and the new plan had switched over so then I spent the weekend on the new plan and trying to figure that all out. The points were different and I was unprepared for some of the changes and then Friday was our work holiday party and I actually had two that day, one at work one later on that evening off-site, and I made horrible choices and so I am not at all shocked by the fact that my weight went up.

That said, I do like that the new Smart Points takes sugar into account, it's just taking some adjusting to mentally switch to the fact that it means things higher in sugar will be higher in points. Which, y'know, is okay, because that's one of those things I should cut back on anyway.

One easy way to do that is by swapping in more whole foods. Like, say, fruit for dessert.

I used to do this all the time and then fell out of the habit, but it's an easy swap and helps me utilize my daily points more effectively because fruit is still zero points on the Beyond the Scale system.

Recently I've started to shy away from foods that are low in sugar and fat and/or the reduced fat, reduced sugar varieties because I know that if they are removing the fat or sugar, they are having to replace it with something else. This is especially true with low fat, often it's given more sugar. For instance, the low-fat sour cream I bought last week has more sugar than full fat sour cream I bought this week so, yeah, I'd rather take the full fat stuff thankyouverymuch.

Fat isn't evil, it's why such a thing as "good fat," exists. But "good sugar" isn't really a thing unless it's the natural sugar found in fruit. So limiting sugar is definitely a good thing which is why I'm glad Weight Watchers is taking that into account now. More than anything I'm glad that the new system is forcing me to really think about these things in a way I never did before and after only a couple days it's already changing my eating habits while still leaving me feeling satisfied, which can only be a positive move.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

11 December 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Sixteen

Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 258.8
Weight lost this week: -1
Total weight lost: -1

Hey, there! Man on mangoberry it's so nice to see a negative on the total weight lost line. It's been awhile. 

I know there's a new Weight Watchers system out now but I'm still currently on the previous one, mostly owing to...not technical difficulties but I decided to switch back to an online only plan. When I started my new job in July I had to stop going to my usual meeting. I was going to the location during their open hours to just weigh in, but that seemed like an awful lot of money to spend on something I can just do at home (and did years ago and was successful at). 

Only I'd been weighing in on Thursdays and decided I wanted to switch to a day earlier in the week, but because the system is in transition I haven't been able to change my weigh in day on the app. I've been using a small notebook to track (and will probably continue to do so, even after the change) but because my "official" weigh in day was yesterday, I've only just been introduced to the new system. Luckily, though, my friend Mel was given a chance to try out the plan a few weeks ago and this week has been doing a daily series discussing different parts of SmartPoints so I went in with a bit of a head start.

So yesterday was my first day on the new plan and for the most part what I ate stayed pretty much the same. A few things went up 1-2 points, but not that many items. I even went out to dinner with a friend and felt completely confident ordering.

But then I got home and made a total rookie mistake -- I ate a piece of candy before checking the new points. Argh. The new system takes saturated fat and sugar into account, which is great, but it means that things with those items -- like, say, a piece of chocolate -- has more points now. That faux peanut butter cup went from 4 points to 8. Ooof.

So that's a mistake I won't be making again. Be sure to check back next week to see how my first week on SmartPoints went. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

09 December 2015

Big Book Announcement: Writing With a Police Escort

So, over the weekend I started working on a little project:

That's right, ladies and gents. My slow runner podcast is on its way to becoming a memoir. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have already seen this photo but you probably don't know how this all came about.

So, several months ago I attended a Told event where my friend Alicia was one of the featured storytellers. During her story she posed the question What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Now, I'd had the idea of a book about being a slow runner ruminating in my head for awhile now. I even had written down some quick titles for chapters. But I saw that question from Alicia almost as a direct challenge and soon was sending out queries to both publishers and agents. I got a few nibbles but then back in October got a big ol' bite.

Before going forward, however, they needed to see a formal proposal. That meant sitting down and focusing on structuring and organizing the vague idea in my head. I needed a synopsis, chapter titles, chapter outlines, and a market analysis. I also needed to write a sample chapter and I ended up using my experience at the Akron Marathon Relay as my inspiration for that, turning it into a chapter I titled The Tortoise and the Hares.

(I know, right? I'm so clever.)

A couple weeks later I sent the proposal off and waited. And waited. And waited some more.

In fact, I'd almost given up on hearing back, so when the official offer came through I gave an audible gasp, not really being prepared for it. I mean, it's one of those things, right? When you actually do that thing you'd do if you knew you could not fail, at the same time, there's that voice in your head that sort of expects you to fail. Because most times you do. Most times writers get rejection letters, not offer letters.

But I'm one of the lucky ones and for the next six months I'll be working on a book!

Last night I was thinking how hard non-fiction writing like this is, but then I realized I do it a couple times a week with this blog. Now, though, I get to go far more in depth and put a bit more creative flair on it. I mean, no one is going to sit through and read a 4,000 word blog post but a 4,000 word chapter is pretty standard. (For comparison purposes, this post, like many of my posts, is between 400 and 500 words.)


Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

07 December 2015

Race Recap: Christmas Story 10K

Back in January, when I committed to running one race per month for all of 2015 I knew, without a doubt, that the Christmas Story 10K would be my December race. I ran this in 2013 when it was the inaugural year for the race, skipped in in 2014 (mostly because I didn't like the medal design), but wanted to be back for 2015.

For those that don't know, part of A Christmas Story was filmed right here in Cleveland and the city is very proud of that fact. During the Christmas season, leg lamps are everywhere and the race has become an annual tradition.

After the cluster that was the Turkey Trot, I needed a good run and this race followed through, starting with the fact that they were strict about that 9 am start time and began right on schedule. They were also super supportive of slow runners and walkers. They even had an entire walking division -- along with the usual pacers holding signs for 8 minute miles, etc., they had someone with a sign just for walkers!

The course started downtown near Tower City, which houses the building that used to be the Higbees that was featured in the film as the department store where Ralphie visits Santa. From there it crossed the Lorain-Carnegie bridge into Tremont. The 5K race ended at the actual Christmas Story House while those of us in the 10K turned and headed back to downtown.

When I said this race was huge, what I meant was that usually in races that have a turnaround like that, I'm always on the "slow" side of the street and watching the faster runners head home. This time, by the time I looped back from the house and was heading back there were still walkers heading towards the house so I actually got to be on the "fast" side of the street for once! Most were doing the 5K so the back of the pack for the second half of the 10K was smaller but there were still several of us running/walking at roughly the same pace so we were kind of a pack all on our own.

The course finished right back at Tower City where we go out medals and they had hot Ovaltine (of course) waiting for us. And, of course, our medals!

It's a major award!

I finished in 1:37:58 which is super close to my 2013 time of 1:37:23. My overall pace average was 15:48 miles which I'm very happy with. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the 10K distance. It takes me usually a mile or two to warm up, which means the race is practically over by then in a 5K. But a 10K is a nice distance that is challenging but doesn't require as much training as, say, a half-marathon.

I always talk about how speed and pace can never be determined by size or weight and this is pretty much proof of this:

When I ran this in 2013 I weighed roughly 220 pounds. This past weekend I ran this weighing roughly 260 pounds. A 40 pound difference but my speed was nearly identical. The funny thing is, running over my recap from two years ago I wasn't thrilled with that pace and while I had a strong start and was running a lot in the beginning, I eventually had to start walking. This time around I did my 30:30 intervals so the walking portions were already built in (so to speak) and I felt strong throughout the whole thing, especially at the end.

Strength, size, endurance, and ability -- these things can't be determined by what you look like.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

04 December 2015

Face the Scale Friday: Week Fifteen

With Thanksgiving last week, I completely spaced on a Face the Scale Friday post and then this week I needed to do a final training week post because the Christmas Story 10K is tomorrow but then I realized that if I skip two weigh in posts in a row, y'all will probably think I'm trying to hide something. In truth, the exact opposite happened:

Weight lost this week: -1.6
Total weight lost: 0
Starting weight: 259.8
Current weight: 259.8

Heyyyyyyy. Look at that! I actually lost weight after Thanksgiving! 

A month ago, at 260.6, I set a more long term view and plan of losing one pound a month and I came pretty close, so I'm good with where I am.

Things are busy busy busy here and it's race day tomorrow! I've spent the past two months training for this race and I can't believe it's here already. Right now I'm not registered for any races until May but I still want to keep up some running routine through the winter, even if just once a week on the treadmill at the YMCA. That said, there is a lot going on behind the scenes here, with a big announcement coming, so on the other hand I'm actually okay with not having too many races or that much training on the agenda but more on that soon!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

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