Nutrition and Fitness – January Check-In

Earlier this month, I wrote about how Bill and I had embarked on the 21-Day Fix as a way to get into the habit of working out more frequently this year. Being more physically active is important to me, and committing to starting my day with a workout seemed like a great way to improve!

So, how’d it go?

It went great…until last weekend, when I missed the last two workouts. Saturday morning, I woke up at 5am (yes, that is an ungodly hour on a weekend!) to get my workout in before Bill and I headed to Seattle to participate in the Women’s March. When my alarm went off, I got up and put my workout clothes on as usual, but I felt terrible. I definitely know what it feels like to wake up groggy, but this was a whole different feeling entirely. My body was telling me that it needed SLEEP. And so I listened, and went back to bed for an hour, and when I woke up again I felt so much more refreshed and energetic!

I don’t feel too awful about having missed Saturday’s workout, because we ended up spending the entire day on our feet. My Garmin logged a total of 16,400 steps for the day! I definitely got lots of exercise on Saturday.

Sunday should have been yoga day, and I really have no excuse for missing that workout. I just plain didn’t do it. I woke up late and we had shopping to do, and I just didn’t make myself do the workout.

I didn’t finish strong, and that bums me out. But I know that even with missing those two workouts, I still did a lot for my health in January than I did during any of the months in 2016. I did get better. I did get stronger.

Bill and I decided that we are committing to another round of 21-Day Fix. I woke up Monday morning feeling energized and ready to re-commit…only to have my Internet connection crash just as I was doing the first move of the workout. By the time we got the connection restored, there wasn’t enough time to finish the workout. I was definitely aggravated, and I felt cranky and low-energy all day. It’s amazing how quickly my body has come to crave those morning workouts!  Tuesday morning, after two days of no exercise, everything seemed to re-align and we were able to begin our next round. Today was our fourth day, and this time, I am going to finish 21 days straight no matter what!

I didn’t lose any weight during our first 21-Day Fix, although I definitely gained muscle tone. I wish I had taken measurements before I started so that I would have a better idea of inches lost – we’ll do measurements this time around! I guess I thought that the workouts would just make the weight fall off of me, but this week I had one of those aha moments where it hit me that I need to start thinking of fitness and nutrition as very different things with different results. I work out to feel good, to build muscle, and to keep my body strong. To lose weight, I need to eat healthy foods and be mindful of my portion sizes.

Last fall, I signed up for Weight Watchers, and at first I was happy on the program. Over time, though, I’ve felt restricted by the plan. The SMART Points calculation is rather complicated, and it was hard for me to predict how many point values a food will have. When I was at the grocery store, I would have to stand and scan the labels of everything I bought before I would buy it, because I did NOT want surprises. Some things had so many points that I could just never have them (a chocolate chip cookie from Panera Bread is 380 calories, which I could easily fit into my day if I were calorie-counting, but those cookies are 17 SMART Points!…and don’t even get me started on the occasional movie popcorn). I found myself omitting days if I knew I was going way over my points. I was also noticing myself picking things that had lower point values, like brands of Greek yogurt, even though I was comparing labels and knew that the brand with the higher point values was better for me to eat. I could have a turkey sandwich on a flatbread for 3 points, but my beloved Shakeology shakes are 7 points.

I tried attending some of the meetings at work, but I didn’t really get much out of them that I couldn’t learn on my own doing research online. I had thought it would be great to be supported in a community at work, but no one really seemed interested in getting to know each other. It felt like a bust. I haven’t been back since the week before Thanksgiving, because I just honestly wasn’t getting the benefit from it.

Last week, I decided to take a break from Weight Watchers and go back to calorie-counting, which is much simpler. When I lost weight in 2012, it was by using Lose It to track my food. I wasn’t dieting or restricting any kind of food, I just counted calories and tracked everything I ate. It worked incredibly well. This time, I’m using MyFitnessPal instead. The app on my phone works better, and there are a lot of foods already built into the tracker so I don’t have to look things up and do a lot of math to track a meal. Because calorie-counting is second nature to me, it’s very simple to keep up with.

I’m going to give calorie-counting a try for the remainder of my 21-Day Fix workouts and see how it goes. Truthfully I’m quite happy at my current weight, and if my body stays the way it is now I’ll be perfectly happy. I do want to be more aware of what I’m plopping in my mouth though!

Overall I’d say January has been a successful month for fitness for me, and while nutrition-wise I definitely have room for improvement, I’m happy to be trying something new and I’m confident that I’m going to find something that works. My plan for this year is to do a fitness and nutrition check-in once a month, so we’ll see where I’m at in February!

 

Best Best Little Friend

Last August, I wrote about what it was like for our kitty Angel and for us to live with her advanced kidney disease. When I wrote the post, her kidney levels were actually a little lower than they had been the previous May, and with twice-weekly fluid treatments, she was managing and seemed to be comfortable and happy. Through the fall, she’d have some bad days, but we could always get her to bounce back.

In December, I noticed that she was getting thinner, and tried giving her extra canned food to see if I could get her to put weight back on. The weight loss concerned me but I was trying to stay positive. The holidays came and went, and she continued to lose weight. I tried to believe that because she still had a healthy appetite and was her usual social self, that it couldn’t be anything too terrible. Maybe it was her thyroid. I called and made her an appointment to be seen by the vet.

Thursday, January 12th, was the thirteenth anniversary of the day that I walked into an animal shelter and saw Angel for the first time. It was the day that I knew I had to have that sweet girl in my life. I had to wait two days so that she could be spayed, then I could bring her home with me. It is the day that I have honored ever since as her birthday, since I have no way of knowing when her actual one was. This year, I made a photo collage of pictures of her, I took a video of her meowing in response as I asked her about turning fifteen years old. I love that meow. Anyone who has had a Siamese knows how talkative they are, and I loved that about her.

We went to the vet on Friday for her six-month reevaluation and blood draw. I recently switched to a new vet, who had seen Saturday for dental work but hadn’t gotten to meet Angel yet. I relayed my anxieties over her weight loss. During the exam, the vet found that Angel had developed a heart murmur, and we talked about possibly discussing her ECG with a cardiologist after we had her blood test results back. I knew it wasn’t good news, but in the back of my mind I guess I believed that Angel would bounce back again and that this was just another bump in the road.

Saturday morning was January 14th, the anniversary of the day I first brought Angel home from the shelter. The vet called around 10:15 with the results of her blood tests. She was in renal failure. Her red blood cell count was around 17%. We had the option to hospitalize her, possibly give her a blood transfusion, see if we could bring her back. I said no. I knew I couldn’t put her through that. She would hate it and it might not even work. There was only one thing that could really be done now, the hardest decision that was also the right one. Even though our vet wasn’t actually working that day, he told us to bring her down in an hour. I will always be grateful for him and the compassion he shows my cats.

I took a quick shower, then sat in the armchair with Angel, snuggling her and talking to her and loving her. As always, she loved it and purred, snuggled into me for quite awhile before she decided she’d had enough and went to perch on the ottoman. I waited as long as I could before I gathered her into my arms and gently settled her into the carrier for the last time.

At the vet’s office, I held her and rocked her, told her I loved her. Thirteen years after promising her that I would always take care of her and that I would do anything for her, I did the last thing I ever would for my first fur baby and I let her go.

We drove down to the waterfront, and I sat in the passenger seat of the car looking out over Puget Sound for awhile. It was a bright, sunny day, bitterly cold. That night friends came over with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine, and we toasted Angel’s wonderful little life.

Angel was so much more to me than just a pet. She was my best best little friend, the happy cat who would meow at my mom over the phone, who kept the boys in line even though she was much smaller than they are, the only constant in my life since I was 19 years old. She was there for me every bit as much as I was for her, she loved me unconditionally and taught me how to be a good kitty mom. She was patient with me while I learned, while we got to know each other, when I added more cats to our family. She had a huge personality and loud Siamese voice. She was loving, sweet, and funny. I was far from perfect, but I always loved her, and did the very best I could to give her a happy life.

 

 

 

Health and Fitness 2017

It’s January, and we all know what that means….the gym parking lot is beyond packed, our Instagram feeds are full of healthy living quotes and sweaty post-workout selfies, and the blogs we read are full of New Year’s Resolutions and promises to make 2017 the best year ever.

I dearly love a fresh start and have been known to start off a new year with an assortment of well-meaning resolutions for myself. This year is a little different, though: I don’t have a gym membership anymore, and my only diet-related resolution  is that I’ll never go on another diet for the rest of my life. But I do want to get back into a regular fitness routine, as I miss feeling strong and in shape. It’s not about weight loss for me anymore, it’s about keeping myself as healthy as possible so I can do as much as possible.

Unsure where to start, I checked the group fitness class schedules at gyms near my office and my house, but nothing really lined up with my work hours. If a workout isn’t convenient for me, I know I won’t stay committed to it. I’ve tried working out at home in the evenings before, but was never consistent….many times I’d have a long day, or would have plans in the evening, and it was easy to justify skipping my workout. Ultimately, I decided to push back my start time at work by half an hour, so that I could wake up at the same time I normally do, but get my exercise in before I started my workday. There are no excuses not to get up and work out. I never have plans at 5am. And so, I committed to myself that I would work out first thing in the morning, five days a week.

The next question I had to answer for myself was, what workouts will I follow? Bill and I have the Core Secrets videos led by Gunnar Peterson, and we have Hour of Power. Those would be a good start, but I know that doing the same workouts over and over again will not only leave me feeling bored, but will challenge my body less over time. So when my friend Alisha posted on her Instragram account that Beachbody was now offering unlimited on-demand access for only $99 for a year,  I decided that the price was too good to pass up and jumped at the opportunity.

For my first series of workouts, I decided to try 21-Day Fix. It fit with the time I had in the mornings – each workout is 30 minutes, and the idea is to rotate through the different videos for a full 21 days. Remember when I had initially committed to myself to work out five days a week? I decided that, at least for these 21 days, that I was going to work out every single day.

So, you’re probably wondering how it’s been going so far. I’m on day 10 of 21, and I haven’t missed a workout! These workouts are HARD; they definitely make the most of my 30 minutes! My biggest motivator so far has been that Bill decided to work out with me, even though he hates waking up early!

I admit, I’m actually starting to enjoy this morning ritual, and it sets me up to feel more energetic and committed to making healthy food choices all day long. By the time I jump in the shower at 5:45am, I’ve already accomplished something for myself, which is a great way to start the day!

Egg White Omelette Muffins

Ever hear the saying “You can’t out-exercise a poor diet”? I have, and after losing ten pounds last year I totally believe it’s true – I barely exercised, but started tracking what I was eating through my Weight Watchers app, and the weight started coming off.

This year, I am re-committing to exercise (more about that soon!), but I also want to stay focused on creating healthy recipes and eating well, at least most of the time! Now that the holidays are over, hopefully those tempting homemade treats will be gone from the office and I’ll be able to snack on Greek yogurt and apple slices without fear of missing out on the tasty treats my coworkers made!

My days are usually pretty busy, so it’s essential that I grocery shop and meal-prep on weekends. Last year I got into making little egg white muffins, but to be honest, they were pretty bland by themselves. I started experimenting with ways to make them a little more tasty, and this morning I think I hit on a recipe that’s a winner. I shared a photo of my breakfast in my accountability group on Facebook and was almost immediately asked how I made them, so I’m sharing the recipe here. Feel free to add in your own veggies and let me know if you find something amazing!

Egg White Omelette Muffins

What You’ll Need:

1 32-oz carton of egg whites (I buy whatever’s on sale at the grocery store)
Fresh spinach leaves
1 can of diced tomatoes
5 mushrooms (diced)

What to Do:

Preheat your oven to 350. Spray a 12-muffin muffin tin with no-stick cooking spray (or else these egg whites will stick forever, trust me!). Fill each muffin cup with a leaf or two of spinach, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms (cup should be about halfway full). Pour egg whites into each cup until it is filled. Bake for 25 minutes.

I find that using a small rubber spatula works best for extracting the muffins from the tin. I refrigerate them and eat two each morning for breakfast. The muffins will reheat nicely in a microwave for about 45 seconds.

Enjoy!

(Less Than!) Three Months to Go!

Happy 2017! I am SO glad to be ringing in a new year. I spent my New Year’s Eve with friends, enjoying good company, food, drinks, and some unexpected snow!

The countdown is on for Bill and I – less than three months to go until our wedding! March is going to be here unbelievably fast, and we still have a lot to do to get ready! We’ve got the “big stuff” figured out: we have our venue, I’ve got my wedding dress and am taking it to my alteration appointment next weekend, and we’ve selected our cake and cupcakes (dessert is very important to me).

Bill described 2016 as a “bad year to be planning a wedding”, and I think that sums things up perfectly. A year ago, I felt like I had all the time in the world to figure out every detail, and was excited to jump in and make some wedding magic happen. I quickly learned that life will get in the way and it’s easy to go from having plenty of time to being dangerously behind in planning, and that when it comes to planning weddings everything will cost more than you wanted it to. It was starting to feel impossible to think of everything we would need for the big day, without completely blowing our budget (shout-out to our wonderful parents for helping us out with the costs!).

Not going to lie, I was feeling pretty stressed out and afraid that things weren’t going to come together. Enter The Invisible Hostess, aka the Best Thing to Happen to Wedding Planning. Bill and I met with our coordinator, Jocelyn, and I was immediately comfortable with her and excited to work with her. Her cozy Capitol Hill office is more like an inviting living room, and even my darkest concerns about planning the wedding seemed so simple and easily managed once I talked them over with her. With her help, I feel like every question has an answer and every problem a solution, and for the first time since we started planning I feel like this wedding can go off without a hitch. We love you, Jocelyn!

I’m so excited for our wedding day. I know that time is going to fly by, which is fine by me!