My First Hour of Power

Yesterday, I talked about trying out the Hour of Power workout with Bill over the weekend and how it kicked  my butt. We did the workout on Saturday night, and by yesterday I was really feeling sore. Since I like a hard workout and pretty much expect that I will be sore the next day (I actually get mad if I don’t!), this DVD impressed me a lot.

What makes this workout special (and incredibly hard!) is that it is a cardio workout that makes the muscles of your upper body work just as hard as your lower ones. Loose translation: you jump around while doing about a million reps with weights.

When I’ve done gym workouts with dumbbells, I’ve usually grabbed 5- to 8-pound weights, depending on the intensity of the workout. But Bill warned me beforehand that I did NOT want to start off Hour of Power with more than 2-pound weights. To which I thought, yikes, this is gonna be hard.

Oh, it was hard.

On Saturday we scooted the couch out of the way in my living room and I had my first look at Hour of Power (one thing to note: the DVD is issued in the UK, so it doesn’t work in a lot of traditional US DVD players. I was able to play the disc on my laptop, which I connected to my TV). I grabbed my cute little pink 2-pound weights and then proceeded to follow along with Rajko Radovic as he led us through a warm-up that could seriously have been a full workout of its own, in my opinion.

Just as I was feeling winded and sweaty, we finished the warm up and launched into the workout itself. It consisted of a combination of easy cardio steps, really just bouncing back and forth from one foot to the next, while doing what at the time feels like endless reps with the dumbbells. It didn’t take long at all for me to be dripping with sweat, and my arms were screaming at me to put down what by then felt like hundred-pound weights. I am nothing if not stubborn, and since I had promised myself that I was going to make it through the workout without stopping I pushed through. It helped a lot that the reps are set to music, and I was able to focus on the beat and my steps instead of how much my arms were burning! But Rajko does offer options to modify down for a bit if you need a rest, which I liked. I also liked that once you get used to the workout, you can always increase the weight of the dumbbells you’re using to push yourself harder.

My overall impression of Hour of Power was that it’s a challenging, fast-paced workout that kept me engaged the whole time. I now feel that it’s a must-own, and I will be ordering my own copy of the DVD.

Dukan Diet: Week 3

Another week down! I weighed myself this morning and had lost 1lb since last week,  for a total loss so far of 5.2lbs! I’m about a third of the way to my goal weight, which is really exciting to me!

I’m 21 days into this diet, and at this point I would describe my approach to weight loss as Dukan-ish. I haven’t been doing the best job of alternating my protein-only and protein/veggie days…I’ve been eating veggies pretty much every day…but I really don’t feel too bad about eating healthy vegetables like broccoli and salad.

I probably would have had better weight loss results this week if I hadn’t succumbed to temptation and devoured about seven chocolate chip cookies that my coworker Nicholas brought to the office last week. He makes amazing cookies and despite my love of them, I would have been able to pass them up had it not been his last week working with us before moving on from the company, so since it was very likely the last time I’d have a chance to eat them I indulged. I should’ve stopped at one, maybe two, but I sort of lost my mind and just kept eating them throughout the day. It taught me an important lesson: I’m still not in a place where I can have one cookie. Desserts have always been my weakness, and it seems they still are. My approach going forward is going to be to avoid things like that unless they come in a pre-measured amount.

Other than that, it was a good week food-wise, and I got in a couple of good workouts too. Monday night I went to Zumba, and felt absolutely amazing afterwards. On Saturday, Bill and I worked out to his Hour of Power DVD, which truly kicked my ass. I like getting in good workouts and would like to try and add at least one more in this week, so that I’ll hit my weight loss goal looking fit and toned instead of merely slimming down.

I continue to be amazed at how good I feel following this diet. I had balked at doing Dukan last year when my coworkers started it, thinking it was too strict and I would never be able to follow it long enough to succeed. Now that I know just how energetic and healthy I feel, and how little I crave the junk food I used to think I couldn’t live without, I wish I had done this sooner! I do look forward to getting to the Consolidation Phase and adding some more things back in, but I also feel like I can get through a couple more months in the Cruise Phase without feeling unhappy or deprived.

 

Hair Affairs, or Deciding to Grow Out My Pixie Cut

At the beginning of the year I resolved to lose weight and get my finances in order in 2015. We’re not quite through January, and after wavering back and forth I’ve come up with yet another goal for this year: I want to grow out my pixie cut.

I cut my long hair into a short, stacked bob in April of last year, and was thrilled with the change. Even though I was absolutely in love with my cut, I had always wished that I was daring enough to try a pixie cut. I admired women with such short hair, especially when my own long, blonde locks were decidedly boring in comparison. So in June, I decided to just go for it and take the plunge, and got the pixie cut I’d always wanted to try.

A Profile Pic

It was fantastic. I loved it. My short hair was cute, flirty, and everything I’d hoped it would be.

But now it’s been several months, and I’m bored with my hair. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I tire of my hairstyle easily and like to change it up. I’ve had lots of different haircuts and hair colors over the years, and once again I’m ready for something new.

All that to say, I’ve decided to grow out my pixie cut.

Anyone who has ever grown out a short cut is probably snickering at me right now, because the process is quite frankly a PAIN. You go through lots of awkward stages during growout that will tempt even the most patient of pixies to head to the salon to get their hair whacked off again. I knew that there had to be people out there with advice, so I took to the Internet to do some research about how to go about growing my pixie into a short bob. There are lots of great articles and posts on the subject, my favorite being this one by Rachel Perkins. Across the board, one of the biggest pieces of advice offered up by successful former pixies is to get regular trims and discuss your growout plan with your stylist. I know that sounds counterintuitive: you want your hair to grow longer, so why cut it? But the reasoning behind it is to keep shaping your hair into the style that you ultimately want instead of just getting shaggy, uneven hair, and also to keep your hair healthy and free of split ends. I know I don’t want to reach my ideal hair length, just to have a ton of split ends that need to be cut off!

First, I hunted around and found a picture of what I want my hair to end up looking like. I know I don’t want to have really long hair again, I just want a bit longer style, like an inverted bob. I came across this style and just fell in love:

Hair 1

My inspiration. Photo credit to Cali Trostel @caliann

 

Then I made an appointment with Annie, my favorite stylist, and showed her what I had in mind. She assured me that she could get me from my current length to what I had in mind without too much grief, and that it was a great cut to transition to.

Having short hair will definitely give you an idea of what sections of your hair grow the fastest. For me, the hair at the base of my neck gets long faster than any other place on my head, so after five or six weeks I begin to have a bit of a mullet going on. Annie trimmed that hair shorter and angled my hair so it’s longer in front. Ultimately, the goal is to let the hair at the crown of my head catch up to the hair at the base of my neck in length. She texturized and shaped the sides of my hair, and neatened up my bangs (I’m trying to grow them out, I hate having short bangs).

Now the hair at the crown of my head needs to grow about another inch before it can be blended into the hair at the base of my neck. The sides of my hair are going to take a bit longer to finish rowing out, since I want them to end up about chin-length. Already I can see my ultimate hairstyle taking shape, and with my hair freshly trimmed I have zero urge to cut it off right now (we shall see how I feel in a few weeks though!).

Hair 2

Freshly trimmed hair

 

To style my hair during the growing-out process, I have become rather hair product obsessed. My hair is on the fine side, so I’ve been using OGX Thick & Full Biotin Shampoo to give myself more volume (and because supposedly biotin helps hair grow faster). It smells nice, and my hair definitely looks fuller since I’ve started using it. For styling, I’m loving Bed Head by TIGI products. After I wash my hair, I apply Bed Head Small Talk Thickifier for added volume and Bed Head After Party to protect my hair from heat styling (this product also makes my hair super shiny!). Once my hair is dry, I flat iron the front pieces just to smooth them into place, and then apply Bed Head Head Banger spray wax to my roots for some extra volume and texture.

I’m super happy with the shaping Annie did with my hair last night, and I really can see my desired style starting to emerge. I’m also happy to be free of that mullet! And I’m excited to be sporting my new style by summer.

 

Places I Love: Mikie’s Restaurant

Even though I’m currently on a mission to overhaul my eating habits, I do love the occasional indulgence and a lunch of a great cheeseburger and fries definitely qualifies! Right now, having the best food possible is extra important to me, because if I am going to stray from my healthy eating regimen, the food I’m splurging on better be worth it!

For a great burger, my go-to has become Mikie’s Restaurant in Everett. Not only are they super close to my office, making them easily accessible even if I don’t have much time to grab a bite to eat, but their food is beyond fantastic. My friend Rachel and I like to go there for lunch as a payday treat, and they never disappoint. We like to call our food in before we leave the office so it’s ready when we get there, so that we can sit in a booth and enjoy our lunch and the decor.

The restaurant has an old-fashioned drive-in feel to it, which stems from its origins as an A&W franchise back in the late fifties. It’s been family owned and operated since its current owners purchased it in 1966, and a place that’s been around that long screams of a successful business model. I’ve never been there when it wasn’t jammed with people inside, with a long line of cars in the drive thru outside.

I’m a purist of sorts – I love a really well-made cheeseburger paired with their French fries. Rachel likes the bacon cheeseburger and a milkshake. But the menu offers lots of different burgers, and one of these days I’m going to give their chili dogs a try (I do love a good chili dog!).

With reasonable lunch menu prices and a super-friendly staff, Mikie’s is a way better experience than standard fast food drive-thru fare. It’s perfect for a one-meal splurge and the portion sizes are generous but not over-the-top. If I’m going to be eating a lunch I didn’t pack myself, odds are that it will be a Mikie’s lunch!

Dukan Diet, Week 2: Cruise Phase

I’ve just completed my first week in the Cruise Phase of the Dukan Diet, and I’m down another 1.6 pounds! I had wondered if my weight loss would slow down in this phase, and so far it has, but I’m feeling pretty psyched about being down 4.2 pounds in only two weeks!

Phase 2: Cruise

I mentioned a little bit about the Cruise Phase in last week’s blog. Basically, the idea is to alternate days of eating nothing but lean protein with days of eating both lean protein and veggies. It was definitely nice to add back in vegetables, and I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to eat a big serving of broccoli!

Since I want to be all about honesty about my weight loss journey, I admit that I strayed from the diet a couple of times this week. Dukan is pretty clear about straying from the meal plans during the Cruise phase – an emphatic DON’T – but I’m still feeling good. On Friday I kept a lunch date with a friend and went out for cheeseburgers and fries, and during yesterday’s Seahawks game I split an individual pizza with Bill and paired it with two beers over the course of the game. So I wasn’t perfect, and I probably could’ve lost more for the week had I stuck religiously to the diet. But I’m proud of myself for bouncing right back and getting back to my diet.

I’m finding that a lean protein and veggie diet, even with a couple of treat meals each week, works for me. I’ve had a lot of energy in spite of working long hours and being really busy. Eating lean protein is still keeping me craving-free and the only chocolate that I’ve eaten in two weeks has been Dukan-approved sugar-free, fat-free pudding. I even resisted the free popcorn at the brewery while we watched football yesterday (and anyone who knows me knows that popcorn is one of my favorite snacks to eat!).

 

Sample Menu: (Cruise Phase)

Breakfast:
Scrambled Eggs with bell peppers and mushrooms
Jennie O Turkey Sausage

Lunch: 
aidells Caramelized Onion Chicken Meatballs
2 cups steamed broccoli

Snacks: 
Cucumber slices
Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Dinner: 
Spaghetti squash with mushrooms and lean ground beef in low-sodium spaghetti sauce

Dukan Diet, Week 1: Attack Phase

Last week I posted on my blog that I was starting the Dukan Diet, and promised to share my thoughts and progress along the way. I lost 2.6 pounds in the first week, and while I confess that I was hoping to lose more, I’m happy to have those pounds gone! I’m very interested to see if I continue on this pace or if my weight loss slows now that I’m moving into the second phase of the diet.

Phase One: Attack 

The first phase of the Dukan Diet is called the Attack Phase, and it’s the strictest one on the plan. It restricts you to lean protein for 5-10 days, depending on how much you need to lose to reach your true weight (you can calculate it all on Dukan’s site).

I like this diet a lot better than anything I’ve ever tried before, mainly because I don’t have to worry about when I’m “allowed” to eat and can have my meals and snacks when I’m ready for them. Although the diet boasts that you don’t have to stress portions and can eat as much as you like, I’m finding that lean protein is VERY filling and a lot of the time I couldn’t eat everything on my plate!

I did have a couple of cravings here and there, but they didn’t last long and were usually triggered by smells (for some reason, being in ketosis always seems to heighten my sense of smell!). I’ve often described myself as a chocoholic, so I was really surprised that I didn’t crave chocolate one bit during the first week.

I’ve now successfully completed the Attack Phase and am moving into the second phase, which is the Cruise Phase. This one lasts quite a bit longer because you stay on it until you reach your true weight, which for me is still 14 pounds away. On the Cruise Phase, you alternate days of eating veggies along with your lean protein.

Sample Menu (Attack Phase)

Breakfast
4 Jennie-O turkey sausage links
Nonfat latte

Lunch
Foster Farms Chicken Breast Strips

Snacks
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
Nonfat Greek yogurt

Dinner 
Rotisserie turkey breast with taco seasoning

Reflecting

It’s the first full week of the new year, and I’m sure that I’m in ample company in my resolve this week to start eating healthier and exercising more. I’ve seen posts from a few of my favorite bloggers about types of workouts they like, workout gear they recommend, and great ideas for keeping motivated. I used to write stuff like that, too. I had Motivation Monday theme posts that I kept up for awhile, but like a lot of things, those pretty much went by the wayside last year.

I’m not exactly sure how I went from a person who was pretty focused on healthy eating and fitness to one who routinely indulged in junk food and basically paid a gym membership as a charitable donation, since I never went. What I suspect is that the culprit was major upheaval in my life at the end of 2013, which completely and utterly disrupted my routine. I was living somewhere new, I was on my own for meal prep for the first time in six years, and I was dealing with a lot of anxiety. Since losing weight in the first place a few years ago was largely centered around establishing and sticking to a routine, having that crash down around me probably really contributed to my ultimate backsliding in 2014.

I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever really been overweight. My heaviest was about 155 pounds back in 2007, and was the aftermath of a bad breakup that just happened to coincide with taking a new job with long hours. The drive-thru and TV became my best friends.

Moab

Me in Moab, February 2007. 155lbs.

 

About halfway through 2007, I hit a wall and realized that I didn’t feel good about the way I looked and that I wanted to change. I joined a gym and put myself on a diet, although I look back at said diet and cringe because I knew nothing about nutrition and lasting weight loss, so I just stuck to a very low-calorie diet that didn’t really do much to benefit me. I lost weight, because I ate less and worked out more, but I wasn’t feeding my body effectively.

By 2008 I had dropped twenty pounds, and was feeling better about myself, even though I did want to lose more weight. I transitioned from Slimfast shakes to salads or Lean Cuisine meals for lunches, and for the most part dinners were healthy home-cooked meals.

Seattle

My first visit to Seattle in 2008. I weighed 134.5 pounds.

 

It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, and started Zumba, that my focus really shifted from just being thin to being fit. I began learning about how to eat to give myself energy and to fuel my workouts. I dropped another ten pounds, and kept it off effortlessly because exercise and healthy eating were part of my day to day life. I wasn’t on a diet, there wasn’t anything I restricted myself from having. I had good muscle tone and felt amazing about myself.

March 2013

Modeling a new scarf, March 2013. 125lbs

 

You would think that, having traveled that journey, I would’ve learned enough to keep myself from ever falling into old patterns. But like I said at the beginning of this post, routine is essential to my maintaining good habits, and all semblance of routine went out the window last year. Over the last twelve months, I knew I was falling off my good-habits wagon. I made a few feeble attempts to stop the madness, and would have some success…but ultimately would slip again. And now, here I am, fifteen pounds heavier. That doesn’t make me feel good. I look at the pictures of myself at my smaller size and feel a mix of shame that I let that go, and fear that I can never get it back.

I remember what it felt like to feel beautiful, and proud of my looks. I no longer feel that way. In order to get my confidence back, the extra weight has to go. I have NO excuses. I’m in a happy, stable place in my life and I have a great support system. I just have to do the work. That’s why trying the Dukan Diet is so important to me. It gives me hope, a road map that I’ve been assured I can follow, one that will lead me to success. It allows me to eat enough that I can still do the kind of workouts I enjoy.

I’ve succeeded on my weight loss journey before, and it definitely sucks to be where I am right now. But hopefully I can stick with this and be successful again.

 

Welcome 2015!

Happy 2015! I know the new year is already five days in, but I spent the first few days of it relaxing and enjoying the last little bit of quiet I would have before I jumped back into my old job and hectic schedule. Starting today, I have an hour and a half of overtime scheduled each day, so I’m arriving at work at 6:30 in the morning. That means waking up at 4:15, something I am not used to and not particularly good at. But I’m fueled by the promise of overtime pay, which translates into money in savings, paid bills, and fun splurges, so bring on the madness.

It used to be all the rage to make New Year’s Resolutions, vows we make to improve ourselves in the new year. But over the last couple of years it seems to be more the fad to NOT make resolutions, because they put too much pressure on us, and we should just be living our lives without that added stress of self-imposed deadlines for achievement. That’s not really me, though. I’ve always seen the beginning of a new year as an opportunity to set goals for myself, and 2015 is really no exception. Maybe my goals aren’t all that exciting: I want to pay off my credit cards, replenish my savings account, and lose the weight that I gained in 2014.

The financial goals I have are a result of my decision late last year to move in with a roommate and free up my finances somewhat. Living alone was really expensive and did not leave me a lot of financial wiggle-room; now that I have someone to share household expenses with, I can pay off some bills and still have enough money left over to put some in savings and to also have some fun.

I did have some success at losing weight last year with Medifast, but I gained most of it back during the holidays and now I’m feeling like I’m pretty much back at square one. Although I tried to motivate myself in December with the threat that I would have to go back on the diet in January if I couldn’t keep my weight off, I’ve decided to go a different route this time and try the Dukan Diet. Several of my coworkers have had success with it, and I like that the Dukan diet provides not only a guide to losing weight, but the steps to transition to a maintenance plan as well. It will mean making lifelong changes, and I do believe that leading a healthier lifestyle SHOULD be the end goal. I’ll keep my blog updated with my weight loss journey and (hopefully) milestones.

My biggest overall goal for 2015, though, is to really enjoy it. My life is going great and I’m in a really great place personally and professionally. I’m ready to make this the best year yet!