Riding the Wave

We’re in the middle of an historic heat wave in the Seattle area, with temperatures in some areas hitting (or breaking!) 100 degrees. Luckily it isn’t quite that bad in Edmonds, but we’re still seeing record heat and the high for today is supposed to be 97 (as I write this, it’s hit 90 and it’s just now noon).

While I am normally a person who loves summer and the warm weather that comes with it, we just aren’t prepared for this kind of heat in Western Washington. While more and more places are putting in central air conditioning, a lot of us still don’t have it and we have to rely on fans and window units to keep our condo as livable as possible. Even with that, it gets really hot in our house. Last night we went down to the beach, where it was breezy and a little cooler and where we could put our feet in the Sound and let the cold water cool us down somewhat.

Today is supposed to be the hottest, and thankfully temperatures will drop a little as the week goes on. But it’s not going to get “cool” by any means, with forecasted highs still in the high 70s to low 80s.

For me one of the hardest things about this weather is that not only is it next to impossible to keep our house cool, but I’m also stuck indoors because it’s just too hot to do things outside. My daily walks are just not a good idea in this heat and there’s no way I’m going to hit my June step goal. Bill and I did get up early this morning to do our workout before the day started warming up and I’m proud of us for that. It’s too hot to have the oven on so I didn’t get to make my normal breakfast of egg muffins, but I got the turkey bacon and egg white breakfast sandwich from Starbucks instead and I feel like overall it was a decent alternative. I have dinners planned for the week that are healthy but don’t require use of the oven, as I’m planning to run to the grocery store after work and pick up some premade chicken to put in my salads instead of having to cook.

I’m proud of myself for finding some healthy alternatives to stay on track, but I’m trying hard not to be really bummed about missing my step goal this month. I already knew that with my shifting focus on how I was going to count calories that the original goal I set at the beginning of the month wouldn’t work out, but I was okay with that because I felt like I was working toward a more sustainable and successful method of approaching my nutrition. But it’s hard not to feel a wave of emotion at what does feel like backsliding and missing multiple goals that I set.

I’m trying to be gentle with myself and also to remember that things like extreme weather do happen and that I didn’t gain all my progress in a week and I won’t lose it in a week either. I’m going to stay consistent with my workouts and focus on progress, not perfection.

Taking Jordan Syatt’s Calorie-Cycling Challenge

I’m sort of in shock that there’s only a week left in the month of June – this month has flown by! It’s now officially summer, my favorite season here in the Northwest. We’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather over the last week, and it’s cooler and cloudy today which is a welcome change because we’re supposed to have some record-breaking heat this weekend. I’m not sure I’m prepared for that but here we are!

As of today I’m halfway through the 9 Week Control Freak (9WCF) program I’ve been following. I haven’t missed a single workout, although I have been straying from the plan when it comes to which days to rest and which days to work out – I like working out Monday through Friday so that I can sleep in on weekends. I do think it’s very important to listen to my body, and if I feel too sore I will definitely take a rest day during the week – but if I can push through I’d rather do it that way.

Although I’ve stayed extremely consistent with my workout plan, as always nutrition is my struggle. I do feel very pleased so far with my new calorie-counting method of looking at weekly and monthly averages, and although I wasn’t super optimistic that I could actually average 1,500 calories or below this month since I didn’t start this new way of counting until I was already into June, I’m actually sitting at an average of 1,568 calories/day for the month so far which I’m very happy with.

I’ve been thinking for some time that I really needed a nutrition plan that’s similar to my workout plans – although the workout days and lengths vary by program when I’m doing Beachbody on Demand workout programs, they all have a set plan for me to follow and when I’m given that sort of road map I seem to do really well. Same with when I used to go to dance classes – on dance days, I was there, very consistently. I want the same sort of road map for my nutrition, without having to follow a strict plan like Whole 30 or Medifast. I really believe that they only changes that will last are the ones that I not only can sustain for the rest of my life, but that I am WILLING to sustain for the rest of my life. Why cut out carbs or wine for thirty days if I know that I’m not going to do that forever? But knowing what I didn’t want to do wasn’t helping me figure out a plan that I could actually follow forever.

The other day, I was mindlessly scrolling my Instagram feed (I know, I know, but I was tired and I’m human), when I noticed a post from trainer Jordan Syatt about a Calorie Cycling contest. Jordan’s the trainer whose video I linked to in my last post, when I was talking about how I calculated the number of calories on average per day I’d need to consume for fat loss. I love him because not only is he a super positive dude, but he shares my philosophy that health and fitness need to be lifestyle changes and not short-term programs. I’d seen his posts about Calorie Cycling challenges that he’s run in the past, but was just never in the headspace before to look into joining one. This time though, it looked like exactly what I needed, so I started reading more about it and ultimately signed up.

The concept of the challenge is simple enough: I paid $100 to enter and receive all of the materials about how calorie cycling works and some guides to maximizing my progress by calculating how much protein, carbs, and fats to incorporate into my diet for fat loss. A lot of the topics are actually covered in videos that are free on Jordan’s YouTube channel, but there is some exclusive content that’s just for challenge participants. I also get a free month in Jordan’s Inner Circle, which is the community he created for people participating in his workout and training programs. I’d always been curious about the Inner Circle but since I already pay for Beachbody on Demand I was hesitant to pay for another subscription workout access, especially since I really like the workouts I already have access to. Now though, I get to try it out!

The Calorie Cycling challenge is a 30-day challenge that starts on July 6. It’s not a weight-loss challenge, which I love; it’s geared toward helping you form habits that support your goals. On the first day of the challenge I need to submit photos, and on the last day I’ll submit progress photos wearing the same outfit. Instead of a final weigh-in, the second part of the challenge is to write and submit an essay about how the challenge went. Winners will receive $1,000. While I am totally motivated by the fact that I paid to participate in this challenge and also by the hope of winning the prize money, what I really want the most out of this is the nutrition road map that I’ve been seeking. I’m hoping that following this challenge will be exactly that.

My Revised Approach to Calorie Counting

Since writing out my goals for June, I’ve been struggling with my calorie counting goal and I’ve already used three of my six “go over” days even though it’s only the 11th of the month. And truthfully I think there are a couple of days where I was right on the line and I might have actually been over. I try to count my calories accurately but on some things like takeout I’m sometimes making my most educated guess, so it’s not an exact science.

I’ve lost about six pounds since I started really committing to making some lifestyle changes in April. While I’m happy that making small changes is working, I would like to be able to nudge my progress up a bit and I also need to figure out what the heck my long-term plan is for nutrition. I was looking at the data from LoseIt over the last couple of months and what I realized (okay, what I already knew but hadn’t actively spent time thinking about) is that on the days that I go over, I go WAY over. Even though I stick to my calorie count more days than I don’t, I’m wrecking my deficit by overeating on my cheat days.

I decided I need to overhaul my approach to calorie counting if I really want to hit my goal weight, which for the purposes of math is going to be 125lbs. That was what I weighed in 2013, the last time I was truly happy with how my body looked and felt. It may not be realistic to get back there, but even if I don’t quite make it back to that size I think that at least aiming for it will help me be more successful.

To figure out how many calories per day I would need to consume to hit a goal weight of 125lbs, I’m using Jordan Syatt’s calorie counting calculator. The whole video is here and is definitely worth watching, but to give a quick overview of the math: I take my goal weight of 125 and multiply it by 12. 125 x 12 = 1500, so I would need to have 1,500 calories or less per day to achieve a goal weight of 125lbs.

Now that I know the number of calories I need to stick to, my plan going forward is to average 1,500 calories per day, in the same way that I try to average 10,000 steps per day. That way, I’m not giving myself “go over” or “cheat” days, which seem to just trigger binge behavior for me and aren’t helping me reach my goals. Instead, I can consume my calories however I like, as long as my average daily calories each month stays at or below 1500 (this will likely be difficult to achieve in June since I didn’t start the month with this new way of calculating my calories, so I imagine my overall June results will be closer to an average of about 1600 calories, but 1,500 will be my goal going forward).

Obviously keeping track of my calories this way will require tracking. I log all of my food in LoseIt already, and at the top of the log it shows me my budgeted calories for the week and if I’m over or under budget. I went in yesterday and manually set the daily budget to 1,500, so that the app is aligned with my goal. I also have a simple tracker sheet in Excel that I input my daily calories into, with a separate tab for each month, so that I can keep track of where I’m at as far as monthly average. Looking back over the last year, my average calories per month has been hovering around 1700, which shows me why I’m seeing some slow weight loss but also why I need to change my habits if I want to reach my weight loss goals.

I started putting this into practice yesterday and I definitely know that it’s going to be difficult at first to adjust to having no “free” or “cheat days”, but the tradeoff is that I (hopefully) will make a little quicker progress toward my goal weight and get a handle on my indulgences. After all, beyond weight loss, my true life goal is to be healthy and fit, and I need to fuel my body in a way that maximizes that!

Reopening Anxiety

Like most people we know, Bill and I are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With the exception of flying to San Diego last month (something I never would have done prior to being vaccinated), not a lot has changed for us. We still don’t eat inside restaurants, we aren’t going to the movie theater, we wear our masks religiously inside stores even if it isn’t required anymore.

Truthfully, I still have a lot of anxiety about the prospect of getting sick. Even if I caught something other than COVID, I know being ill for the first time in almost two years would freak me out. And the truth is, I like not getting sick. I really like it. If wearing a little piece of cloth over my face means I never have to suffer a stupid head cold again, it’s well worth it.

While our closest friends seem to be on the same page as us and are remaining more cautious, I know plenty of other people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, who have tossed aside their masks and are back to their pre-pandemic way of life. When a family member or friend texts me to gloat about how amazing it felt to go shopping sans mask, I don’t really know what to say. At this stage of things, I think they’re making a mistake, but it’s not really my place to tell them so. But I also don’t understand why these people feel the need to tell me about their behavior in the first place, since they are all people who know I think it’s too soon for that.

It’s okay to be anxious about the loosened restrictions and I am not going to be pressured into changing my behavior just because the option has presented itself. I have to do what I feel is right for me and what I’m comfortable with, and that extends into who I spend my time with. After a lot of anxious consideration, I regretfully turned down an invitation to a family gathering next month because it’s being held indoors and not all of the attendees will be vaccinated. Spending an extended period of time in close quarters with unvaccinated people is not something I’m ready to do and I finally came to the conclusion that the best way to handle these situations is to just be upfront about why I don’t want to go. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my loved ones, but it does mean that I am prioritizing myself and my health right now.

I’ve had people tell me that I need to “just live my life”, to which I say, I am! I am not a shut-in. I have game nights with vaccinated family members and friends, and Bill and I have started dining out at restaurants that offer outdoor seating (and by that I mean true outdoor seating, not a fully enclosed tent which is now effectively just a new indoor space). When I flew for the first time, I was definitely a little nervous, but overall I handled it well and I am comfortable with the idea of doing it again.

I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to try indoor dining again, or go to a movie in a theater, or attend a party when I don’t know everyone’s vaccination status. I suppose I’ll watch and wait, and see if case numbers continue to fall or if we see another surge as a result of the loosened restrictions. As for masking up, I see that being a permanent staple in my life, at least in large crowds indoors and during cold and flu season. It’s such a small thing to do that yields such great benefits that I don’t see any reason to stop. After all, being sick sucks, no matter what I’m infected with!

Random Friday Off

Yesterday, I found myself with a random day off from work, which gave me a chance to do some things I’d been wanting to take care of but haven’t gotten around to doing after work. The weather here has been much warmer than usual for June, so I wore a simple black dress (with pockets!) and some sandals instead of my now-typical casual look of leggings or jeans and a t-shirt. It felt nice to look nice.

My first stop was Comstock Jewelers in downtown Edmonds, to drop off my wedding rings for their annual rhodium replacement. Comstock is a family-owned business that’s been in Edmonds since 1978, and I like to think that my grandfather Not only do I love that both of my rings came from a local jeweler (that was really important to me when we started shopping for engagement rings what feels like forever ago), but Comstock is fantastic and my rings always look amazing when I get them back.

After I’d dropped off my rings, I walked over to Rogue, a little boutique store that I love. I wandered around the store, enjoying the feeling of shopping at my own pace without worrying where I needed to be next. I decided to treat myself to two new pairs of earrings that caught my eye and liked them so much that I put them on as soon as I got back to my car.

Even though there was nothing particularly special or exciting about these errands, I felt so peaceful and happy while I walked around downtown. I like it here and I feel so lucky to live in such a great place, and even just popping into a couple of local shops and smelling the fresh popcorn as I walk by our movie theater is so enjoyable to me.

Later in the afternoon, Bill and I got to video chat with my parents while my dad opened his Father’s day/birthday gifts from me. They’re headed out on a month-long road trip, and so they won’t be home for Father’s day or the birthday that Dad and I share in July. I wanted to make sure that I got his gifts to him before they left.

Our evening wrapped up with my brother and sister-in-law coming over for dinner and games. I made a big salad, and bought cheesecake that I got from the PCC Community Market here in town.

I’m living exactly the life I wanted for myself and I never want to stop soaking it in and feeling grateful for it.

My Goals for June

I’m so excited to start a new month! I’m also really happy that summer is nearly here, it’s by far my favorite season. Nicer weather combined with longer days means I get to be outside more!

June marks a milestone for me in goal-setting: this month, both my goals for sticking to my calories and my step count are where I’ve been building up to all year. Going forward, this months’ goals in those categories will be my for-life goals for myself. I also have some goals for June that are mostly geared toward helping me hit those two!

Stay within my allotted calories 80% of the time. This is how I want to get used to eating going forward. This goal does give me six days in June when I can go over my calories, but I’m going to try my best to space those days out and not use them all up at the very beginning of the month.

Average 10,000 steps per day. While this seems like a big goal, I actually hit it last month – my final average for May was 10,060 steps! This gives me confidence that I can do this again in June.

Have a salad for dinner one day per week. Now that the weather is warming up, I’m finding myself gravitating toward lighter dinners, and salads are a great way to get in all my extra veggies. Combined with our one day a week of having fish (yep, I’ve been keeping that up for the last few months!), this goal should help me with meal-planning as well as inspiring me to try some new recipes for salads.

Write at least one blog post per week. Since I tanked this goal last month, I’m going to let my goal-related posts count at least for this month. But I really do want to write more often!

Recapping My Goals for May

That’s a wrap on May! This month FLEW by and it seems crazy to me that I’m already writing this post. This recap will be on the short side since I’m also cooking dinner while I write (seared halibut and roasted Brussels sprouts with Jasmine rice – I’m ending the month with a healthy meal!), so let’s get into it:

Stay under my allotted calories 70% of the time. This goal It worked out to 22 days of staying within my 1,600 calorie allotment, which gave me 9 days to go over. And I took every single one of those 9 days! I’m down 3.2lbs from May 1 and I am positive that this goal is the reason why. There were some days when I felt great, but there were others where I just lost my damn mind and ate everything in sight, which made me grateful for a little bit of a buffer. I’m not sure whether I prefer having a set amount of days per week that I can go over or an overall monthly percentage, so I’m still figuring out what will work best for me long-term.

Average 9,500 steps per day. I’m so happy I was able to do this one! I don’t have my final step tally for today, but even with where I’m at now I averaged jut over 9,600 steps per day.

Complete the Fit Happens May Beachbody Challenge. I have mixed feelings about this. I did better with this challenge than anyone else in my group, but I didn’t follow it every single day. The first part of the May challenge was to share a photo of one healthy meal per day, and I had decided that none of my Shakeology shakes would count for this. Although there wasn’t a day where I never had a healthy meal, there were a couple of days in May when Shakeology was the only really healthy meal I had. The other challenge was a plank challenge. I started off really enthusiastic about this challenge, but fell off when Bill and I were in San Diego. Once I got to the 2min 20second plank, I had a really difficult time doing it and after that I just sort of gave up on the planks. I do want to get back into the habit of daily planks, but I don’t think a three-minute one is in the cards for me.

Write a blog post once a week. Well, I only wrote three additional posts this month, so I definitely didn’t hit this goal. But, I did write more than I did in previous months, so I’m happy with the progress! I might make this a goal again in June and see if I can do it.