My January Goals

Two posts in one day! I know that in order to achieve big goals, I need to set smaller goals to help me along the way, so here are my goals for the first month of 2022.

Complete dry January. Bill and I are participating in dry January (not drinking alcohol all month) with friends. I’ve embarked on dry Januarys before but never actually completed one. I really want to do it this year!

Read three books. I’m about halfway through a book right now but I’m not going to count that. This goal is to completely start and finish three books in January. My mother-in-law generously gifted me an Amazon gift card for Christmas and I have it earmarked for books!

Get some sort of movement every day. Whether it’s strength training, dance, or just taking a walk, I want to move my body every day. I feel so much better when I’m exercising regularly.

Resolutions for 2022

This morning I woke up to a beautiful morning with sunshine in the sky and snow on the ground. It’s been a frigid week in Washington and I love waking up in gratitude for my cozy warm bed and plenty of snuggles with Bill, Saturday, and Ernie.

It feels like just the right sort of day for a fresh start, which of course I love! No matter what this year throws at me, I want to make it a time of self-improvement and I have some goals to reach!

Write in my gratitude journal daily. I did this in 2021 and I love the effect it’s had on me. My mind now searches out things to enjoy and be grateful for. Even little things like the smell of the bathroom when I light candles and take a bath with fragrant bubbles make me so happy and training my brain to notice these things has been really good for me.

Read at least 30 books. I set a goal last year of reading an average of two books per month and it got me back into reading. I don’t want to lose that! So I’m going to up my goal slightly this year to push myself to keep reading.

Work on my relationship with myself. This will be a little harder to tangibly accomplish but I’m going to try my best to really figure out why I’m so negative towards myself and to approach myself with kindness and curiosity, not with criticism.

Improve my nutrition and lose 25lbs. I’m excited to keep working with Trisha, my nutritionist, and to build good habits while also exploring my relationship with food and my body. I think this work will ultimately help me with my overall self-esteem too! And I really do want to lose weight because I’ll be both happier and healthier if I do.

Put at least $5,000 into my personal savings. In addition to our joint savings, my 401k and IRA accounts, I also have a personal savings account and I want to grow it. I think having a dollar amount as a goal will help me commit to saving!

Looking Back on My 2021 Goals

It’s here, the last day of 2021! This year was honestly such a mix of good and bad. But, I hope to look back and just remember the good things. We were able to get vaccinated against Covid and reunite with loved ones, and to slowly start traveling and doing more “normal” things. We went to a concert, and to a few hockey games!

I’m cautiously optimistic about 2022 and have some goals for myself that I’ll write about next year (haha). But for today I wanted to look back on the goals I set for myself in 2021 and see how I did.

Set monthly goals. I wasn’t 100% perfect with this goal, but I did do it for most months of 2021! I did really like the monthly goal-setting though.

Continue my good fitness habits. Eh, this one isn’t my shining star. I continued to work out in the mornings until around September, when I hit a wall and was just so exhausted that I decided to take a week off. A week turned into two, and so on and so forth….I did get back on track somewhat when I rejoined the gym in late October, but with the holidays and a lot of snowfall this last week I definitely haven’t gotten the walks or workouts I’d hoped for. This is an area of my life I plan to really focus on in 2022 because I know I feel so much better when I get regular exercise.

Make better eating habits. Again…eh. Truthfully my nutrition is still all over the place, but that’s why I’m working with a nutritionist now! I have a lot of hope for improving my eating habits now that I’ve taken that step.

Make daily entries in my gratitude journal. I wasn’t totally perfect with this (every now and then I’d miss a day and have to go back and make entries for a couple of days at once), but I did complete 365 entries of gratitude in 2021! I love this practice and I plan to continue. At some point I changed the entries from “Things I’m Grateful For” to “Fucking Hoorays” which feels like it suits me more.

Read two books each month. I completed this goal a few weeks ago and I am so proud of myself! I have definitely rediscovered my love for reading and books are a very welcome positive part of my daily life now.

Be kind to myself. Still working on this one. I am my own worst critic and I am still learning how to show myself the grace that I give others.

Overall I’m happy with how I did on my 2021 goals. The ones I achieved inspire me to keep going with them, and the ones that still need work can be a focus in 2022.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Setting Myself Up for a Happy 2022

It feels so strange to say this, but there are only 10 days left in 2021! Personally I’m quite ready to bid goodbye to this year. In a lot of ways it felt even more difficult to endure than 2020, and although I know that the changing of the calendar to a new year won’t solve the world’s problems it does feel like a way to close the door on the things that happened in 2021 and to offer a fresh start.

I’ll do a recap of my 2021 goals next week, but I wanted to write a little update on the work I’m doing to set myself up for better results on my health and fitness journey in 2022 because I’ve made some changes in my life recently that I’m really excited about!

After going to Dance Church with my friend Kate back in October, I realized that I was pretty comfortable with working out in a mask (a requirement where I live, and also just a good rule right now while Covid continues to surge – I would not go to work out indoors at a place that didn’t require masks). Since I felt both comfortable and safe at Dance Church, I began to wonder if I would feel okay returning to my gym. I reached out to my friends at the gym who teach Red Hot Dance and asked to be a guest in their classes, which they very kindly agreed to. After going for a couple of weeks to see how I felt, I decided I was ready to re-join the gym. And I am loving it! I’ve been consistently going 3-4 times per week (except for the first week after our Hawaii trip when we quarantined ourselves). Because I weigh a little less now, I am happy to find that my performance in those classes has actually improved from when I was going pre-Covid. And being able to be back at dance has been such a good thing for me both physically and mentally. The holidays can be both a really happy and a really stressful time of year, but being able to go and spend an hour thinking of nothing but dancing is like meditation for me.

I’m also taking steps to hopefully get my nutrition figured out, after starting and stalling all year in that area. What I know about myself is that I do better at living a healthy lifestyle when I’m among likeminded people, which is why in my late twenties I was able to reach and maintain a goal weight while spending a lot of time in my Zumba community. Recognizing that made me decide that in order to be successful I needed someone to be accountable to. I don’t want to make that someone Bill or my friends – it isn’t their job to keep me in line! So I reached out to my gym’s nutritionist, Trisha, and set up a consultation with her.

I met with Trisha two weeks ago for the first time and talking with her was like cracking open the dark crevices of my food brain that I’d been drowning in and allowing me to finally come up for air. I left that first meeting full of hope that I’ve found someone who can help me do the work of changing my mindset around eating and my body so that I can finally find some peace. Although I do want to lose weight, I also want to stop the cycle of overeating and then feeling bad about myself over it. By learning to change my approach to myself from critical to curious, I’m hoping to get my behavior with food to align a little more closely with my beliefs about how I should be eating. It should be quite the journey!

I feel like I’m taking some solid steps to making 2022 a great year of personal growth!

Friendsgiving in Paradise

Over the last several years, Bill and I have had a tradition of spending our Thanksgiving holidays with our good friends Ben and Jamie. We’ve dubbed it “Friendsgiving”, and we would alternate hosting each other from year to year (they’ve lived in both Texas and Colorado over the years that we’ve been doing it). After missing out on our get-together last year, we decided we wanted to make our Friendsgiving 2021 extra-special by planning to have it in Hawaii.

When we booked the trip last June, we decided on sharing a two-bedroom condo in Kihei, Maui. Bill and I have been to Maui before, Ben had been to Hawaii but never to Maui, and it was Jamie’s first time going to Hawaii. We picked Maui because we feel like it has a good combination of great beaches and plenty of local shopping and restaurants without feeling super touristy.

By August, Covid cases had spiked and the governor of Hawaii issued a message discouraging tourism through October. We were a little unsure that we’d be able to take our trip after all, but thankfully things got much better and by mid-November the guidance had been lifted and tourists were no longer discouraged from going. All four of us were also able to get our Covid booster shots in enough advance to be fully effective in time for our trip.

We flew to Maui the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and met up with our friends at the airport. After two years apart, we were so excited to see each other! The weather was gorgeous and a much-needed break from the gloom of Seattle in November.

On Wednesday evening we drove to Lahaina to attend the Feast at Lele Luau. It was really fun! We were greeted with fresh leis before being led to our table, where we were able to sip cocktails while we watched the beginnings of the sunset. Then we were treated to a five-course meal that we enjoyed while we watched the dances that accompanied each course. It was a tour of the islands for both our eyes and palates!

At the luau

We got incredibly fortunate to be able to find a condo through Airbnb that was right across the street from Kamaole Beach Park II. We went there every day to relax and swim. One of my favorite things was seeing sea turtles! The turtles love to play in the surf and we spotted quite a few of them every day. One actually brushed against Bill as it swam by us!

Kamaole Beach Park II

Bill’s favorite beach in Maui is at Makena State Park, so we made sure to spend plenty of time there. The beaches are breathtaking and the surf is usually good. Our Airbnb host provided us with an assortment of beach toys and equipment, including two boogie boards, and we had a blast taking turns catching waves.

Sunset at Makena

We ate way too much amazing food while we were there. Our favorite spot was the Kihei Caffe, where we began most of our mornings in Hawaii. Their breakfasts are beyond delicious and the portions are generous. We liked to eat there and then head to the beach, knowing we wouldn’t be truly hungry again until dinner time. Although there was always a line in the mornings, it goes fast and the food is well worth the wait!

While everything about being in Maui was amazing, hands-down my favorite part of the trip was enjoying such a beautiful place with friends we love and had missed so very much over the last two years. Hopefully this will be the first of many vacations we can all take together!

Take Me to (Dance) Church

Anyone who has been around this blog knows that one of my favorite hobbies/passions is dance fitness. Eleven years ago, my coworker invited me to a Zumba class and that class changed me forever. I was instantly hooked, and found myself rearranging my schedule and making Zumba a big priority in my life. Even when I was living and working 30+ miles away, I would still make the drive so that I could attend, and when the classes ended forever a few years ago I felt like a big piece of me was missing.

I tried a couple of different Zumba classes at different gyms, but nothing filled the void like that first class did. I missed the music, the routines, my friends, everything. But I found a new home at the Red Hot Dance classes when I joined Harbor Square Athletic Club here in Edmonds, and as I became a regular and made friends I felt less sad over the loss of my beloved Zumba class (though I will miss it forever).

Of course, then the pandemic shut things down and now I don’t have a gym membership anymore. I work out pretty much exclusively from home and although I like my at-home workouts, they just aren’t the same high that I get from dance. So when my friend Kate invited me to a Dance Church class on Tuesday night, I was excited to say yes!

I’d been to an outdoor Dance Church event with Kate over the summer and had enjoyed it. They’re a dance fitness platform with both streaming and live class options, including events at venues in Seattle. Attendees are required to be vaccinated and to pre-register, so the classes are never overcrowded, and masks must be worn throughout class. Even though I am extremely cautious due to Covid, the extra precautions helped me feel confident about attending.

The class was so much fun! It was held at Washington Hall, a historic landmark building in Seattle that turned out to be a really beautiful venue for a dance class. Everyone with Dance Church was extremely kind and positive, and the enthusiasm in the room was definitely contagious. I found myself swept up in the music and the movement, and it felt like only about ten minutes had passed when the hour was up and class started winding down.

I had a blast at Dance Church and will definitely be attending more classes in the future.

Working Out with the Peloton App

Over the last year and a half, Bill and I have been working out pretty much exclusively from home. Our gym was shut down during the beginning of the pandemic, and even when it reopened in summer 2020 neither of us felt ready to go back to that environment. We decided to cancel our membership and restart it when things felt more normal, which sadly hasn’t happened yet. Although the gym we went to is taking Covid extremely seriously and has implemented a lot of great safety protocols, the idea of being around sweaty people who are breathing heavy just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me just yet.

We kept ourselves active with home workouts from our Beachbody on Demand subscription, but over the last couple of months I think both of us have grown bored with our exercise routine and found ourselves craving something new. Although BoD does have a robust library of different exercise programs to follow, I don’t really want to work out six or seven days a week and I’m generally happy to keep my home workouts to around 30 minutes, and not a lot of the Beachbody workouts fit those parameters.

A couple of weeks ago I was lamenting to a friend that I was bored with my workout routine and having a hard time making myself exercise, and she enthusiastically told me about the Peloton app. Although I do not live under a rock and know all about the extremely-popular Peloton spin bikes, what I didn’t know was that there is also an on-demand library of other types of workouts. I get a free trial of the Peloton app with my credit card, so I was able to sign up with zero commitment.

My first impression as we explored the different available workouts is that there are a LOT to pick from in different categories. And since there are some that are as short as ten minutes, we’re able to stack multiple workouts. Today, for example, we did a 20-minute strength training workout and a 10-minute cardio one. There are also longer videos to pick from, but something about doing multiple different ones makes me happy.

Using the Peloton workouts has been such a great change for us. Different trainers always work you out differently and the app has plenty of different people to choose from, and just mixing up our routine has made me more excited to work out again.

Back to Calorie Counting

Well, I threw in the towel on the Space Food Diet in the middle of last week. The processed food was wreaking havoc on my body and even though I was losing weight, it wasn’t worth continuing. Not only did I continue to have problems with my stomach, but I had zero energy and I was feeling anxious and depressed.

Now that I’m eating a balance of whole foods again, I’m feeling a lot better and I’m still losing weight! I’m not exactly sure how much I’ve lost in pounds – I weighed myself on October 1st, then again on the 9th when I started the Space Food Diet, and according to the scale I had gained four pounds in between those two weigh-ins. But since we’d been on vacation, I know that most of those four pounds were not actual weight gain. If I go by my October 1st weight, I’ve lost 1.6lbs, but if I use my October 9th weigh-in as my starting weight then I’ve lost 5.5lbs. Either way, I’m much more interested in inches lost, so we re-took measurements on Saturday and I was down another 2.75 inches. That’s 8 inches total lost in two weeks. I’m feeling pretty happy with that!

So now I’m back to calorie counting, with goals of 1200 calories six days a week and 1500 calories one day per week. The higher calorie day lets me have a nice meal if I want to, while the lower days continue to help me normalize eating less food. It’s a steeper calorie deficit than I’ll probably set for myself long-term, but at least for right now it’s been plenty of calories to eat the way I want to.

We had a really productive and enjoyable weekend. Yesterday, we rented a Uhaul and cleaned out our storage unit, taking several unused and rather worn-out items to the transfer station. It’s nice to have our storage cleaned out and organized! Today was pretty stormy, so we spent the afternoon carving the fake pumpkins I got at craft stores. I’ve wanted to carve pumpkins every year since Bill and I first got together, but it always feels like October gets away from me and before I have time to even stop and buy the supplies Halloween has come and gone. I’m so happy we got to carve them this year! I feel good about finding new things to do that are fun (or that yield results that make me happy, like organizing our storage unit) and I feel like these activities were made possible by our commitment to eating better and spending our time differently.

Day Ten

Today is day ten of the Space Food Diet. After not seeing a lot of movement on the scale, Bill and I re-took measurements last Saturday and in the first week I’m down 5.25 inches. Hooray!

Although I’m super happy with the loss of inches, I’m even more happy that I’ve been able to resist temptation and actually stick to a plan. Even though it’s not really that long a time, ten days is by far the longest I’ve stuck with any eating plan in a LONG time. I’ve noticed that my appetite isn’t raging all the time and on the few occasions when I have had cravings, I’ve been able to acknowledge them and then move on. On Friday night I was especially food-lusty, but when I told Bill how I was feeling he agreed to do a dance workout with me (something he has never done before!) and by the time we finished exercising I was in a much better mood and able to enjoy my healthy dinner.

Although the diet is giving me the reset I wanted, the space food has proven to be incredibly hard on my stomach. I’ve never experienced this before, on any diet or eating plan, and it was the last thing I was expecting. For the first few days, I accepted it as part of my body adjusting to a new style of eating, but by last weekend I was getting annoyed by how I was feeling and by today I’m considering going off of the space food and designing my own daily meal plan. I’m going to give it a couple more days before I make a decision, but I believe it’s important to listen to my body and so far it has been screaming at me that it is not happy being fed this way and it wants its whole foods back.

No matter which direction I decide to go in, I’m happy that I embarked on this diet because it really did break the cycle of poor eating that I’ve been stuck in for awhile now. Even though eating the way I am now is not something I intend to do forever, it helped me remember that a “lifestyle change” truly means that you have to make changes to your life to see results. And I know that I really do want to live a healthy lifestyle, one that I can be proud of.

Space Food Diet

I feel like I should start this post with a disclaimer that I know I swore I would never do what I’m about to do ever again. But after another month of failing to stick to a calorie-counting plan and without any weight loss (although, thankfully, also with no weight gain), I’ve decided that it’s time for desperate measures.

And so, I am planning to go on a diet.

Over the first few years of my thirties, when I started noticing myself gaining some weight, I was able to take it off by following Medifast. The program basically combined meal replacement bars and shakes with meals consisting of lean proteins and vegetables, so that by following the diet I ate six times a day. Medifast promoted either a 5-and-1 or a 4-and-2 cadence, which either meant having five meal replacements and one “normal” meal, or four meal replacements and two normal meals.

The last time I followed Medifast was back in 2017, trying to lose weight that I’d gained after our wedding. After that last time, I vowed that I wouldn’t ever go on a diet again and that I would only make changes that I was willing to live with forever. That vow sounds good in theory, but it translated to me gaining a lot of weight and struggling to figure out what to do to balance enjoying things I love with breaking unhealthy habits.

Although I’m about twelve pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest back in 2018, I’m still a good twenty pounds above my lowest weight from 2013. I know I want to lose at least ten of those pounds and that I will feel a LOT better if I do it, but I have struggled endlessly with self-control when it comes to nutrition. And although overall I’ve been extremely consistent with working out this year, there have been a couple of weeks in the last two months where I just felt so genuinely physically exhausted that I had to to take a break and focus on rest. Last week was one of those weeks, and I only worked out once (although I did walk almost every day).

I’m stuck, and I need something to get me unstuck. Although I know what I need to do to lose weight (stop eating like an asshole all the time), I seem to have lost all self-control and willpower when it comes to food. Every morning I wake up and resolve to stick to my calorie limit, but then I’ll get stressed out or even just bored and my go-to activity in life these days seems to be eating. What I want is a way to reset myself, to cut out all the desserts and drinks and indulgences and give myself a chance to unbreak bad habits and start again.

Once I’d made up my mind that I wanted to do another round of Medifast, I pitched the idea to Bill. There’s no way I’d last on a restrictive diet if he wasn’t following it with me and I know that about myself. Happily, he readily agreed and said he’d actually love to do it with me. I went online to order the space food (meal replacements) and discovered that after my last round of the diet back in 2017, the company had rebranded and was now called Optavia. As far as I can tell, the food is mostly the same but there’s a new emphasis on having a coach to help dieters along the way. I’m not looking for that; I just want to eat the food and lose weight. It took some doing, but I finally figured out how to place an order for a variety of space food bars, and once they arrive I’ll be all set to start this diet.

Bill and I are going on vacation to Hermosa Beach next week, so my plan is to enjoy the trip and then start Optavia/Medifast once we get home from the trip and continue it until the week of Thanksgiving. That will give us six weeks to really immerse ourselves in both the diet and in breaking our unhealthy food habits and hopefully being able to lean into a lifestyle change going forward.

I absolutely do not expect that I can follow this diet for six weeks and then simply not gain anything back; I know for sure that over the holidays I will put back on some of the weight. My genuine hope is that by having six weeks of real progress, I’ll feel better and that I’ll experience a genuine mindset shift where my health is a greater priority to me than eating.