9-Week Control Freak: Day 1

Today is the day that everyone in my Beachbody group has been eagerly awaiting: the new 9-Week Control Freak program is now available in the On Demand library!

9-Week Control freak is the latest program from trainer Autumn Calabrese. When I first joined Beachbody On Demand, Autumn’s 21-Day Fix was the program that I followed and I really liked it, so I’ve been excited to try the latest workouts she created. 9WCF is a 9-week at-home workout program, with each workout lasting around half an hour. I love getting my workout over in 30 minutes, and Autumn is great at kicking my ass quickly!

There are two versions of the program so that anyone who works out at home can follow it. The first one includes equipment like door- or wall-mounted resistance bands, a core ball, and a step, but the second one is a dumbbell-only option called Off the Wall. Bill and I are following the second one, because we work out in our living room and we just don’t have room for all of the other equipment that the first version requires (especially the control tracks with the resistance bands – that is, unless Beachbody can figure out how to come out with a set that attaches to the back of my sectional couch). The only thing that some people may not like about Off the Wall is that not every single workout is unique; it offers five workouts for each of the three phases that can be cycled through to complete the nine weeks.

Of course, Beachbody is a business, and they want to sell their products, so there are lots of supplements and nutrition containers and all kinds of other stuff that they encourage using while doing the program. I’m a calorie counter for life and I don’t have any desire to change that, so I’m opting to stick with my LoseIt app for tracking my food. I do drink Shakeology every day because I like it, but I absolutely don’t believe that doing so is vital to success with this or any workout program.

Bill and I did the first workout this morning, and I really enjoyed it. The main workout consisted of completing a circuit of five different moves, twelve reps each, as many times as we could in twelve minutes. After that was the Tabata Cardio portion. Neither of us knew what the heck Tabata was, but we now have learned that it’s a form of high-intensity interval training that forces you to work at a very high intensity for short periods of time. For the first workout we did eight rounds of mountain climbers, working for ten seconds and then resting for twenty seconds before going into the next round. I liked that because I typically do not enjoy cardio and really have to push myself mentally. Knowing that I only had to do it for ten seconds at a time helped me to work harder and faster during that time.

I’m excited to be doing this new program and am eager to see what benefits I get from switching it up!

Figuring Out My WFH Style

Now that I’m officially working from home full-time (at most, I might start going into the office one day a week at the end of the year), I’m trying to address something that’s been on my mind for awhile – my wardrobe!

Working in my company’s corporate headquarters, I would wear dress pants and pretty tops or dresses to work each day. I rarely wore jeans and only own a few pairs of them, all of which I bought secondhand.

Before the pandemic, outfits like this were my normal office attire.

For the last year, I’ve pretty much lived in Victoria’s Secret leggings and oversize sweaters or t-shirts that I got on clearance from Target. When the weather got warm last summer, I bought three sundresses from Old Navy to wear for work clothes. I kept my purchases minimal, because I had no idea what my long-term working situation would be like and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on more casual clothes if I was going to return to an office environment.

Now, though, with my situation looking more permanent I feel like it’s time to figure out what my new, more casual style is going to be. I don’t really want this tee and leggings look to be all I ever wear, but I’m still trying to figure out what I do want.

What I want to know is, whatever happened to fashion blogs? Ten years ago, the Internet was crawling with twenty-somethings eagerly sharing their outfits with the world. Now it seems that no one has written an outfit post since at least 2019, and all those old blogs might as well have a stray tumbleweed bouncing along their once-frequently-updated homepages. Maybe they’re stuck in the same leggings-and-oversized-shirt funk that I am?

To try and get inspired, I packed away my sweaters and winter clothes and brought out my summer things from storage. While some of my dresses are definitely in the “formal” category, I do have some that I think I can dress down with a jean jacket, a sweater, or some sneakers. I don’t love wearing shorts, so hopefully being able to wear some of my dresses styled more casually will get me through this summer as I transition to a WFH style.

But if anyone knows of an active fashion blogger these days, send me the link!

My Goals for May

I’m still on a high from my success in April, and I’m hoping it’ll stay that way so that I can have a great May! This month will be a lot different than any month in over a year, because my fully-vaccinated self is getting on a plane and flying to California to visit family. Adding travel back into my plans is a VERY welcome change, but it’ll also be an opportunity for me to see how I handle my newfound healthy lifestyle once I’m not home all day.

With that in mind, I tried to formulate goals for May that would help me be successful but still allow me to have some flexibility – I don’t want to slide back into old habits, but I don’t want to be super rigid either!

Stay under my allotted calories 70% of the time. I noted in my April goal recap that I stayed under my calorie count 63% of the days in April, so I want to increase that percentage for May. It works out to 22 days, which still gives me 9 days to go over. While I’m not making it an official part of my goal, I’m also going to play around with calorie cycling, lowering my allotted calories slightly so that on the days I’m sticking to that number that my intake of food will be a little bit reduced. I think this will help offset the days I go over.

Average 9,500 steps per day. This is slightly under my average steps for April, so it isn’t requiring me to increase my activity but to maintain my current level. May can bring some really nice weather to the Seattle area, but it can also bring some soggy rainy days that make a long walk unappealing.

Complete the Fit Happens May Beachbody Challenge. The coaches in my Beachbody group have been busily cooking up a fresh batch of challenges for May. The first part of the May challenge is to share a photo of one healthy meal per day. I love this because it will help me stay on-track with nutrition, and I decided that none of my Shakeology shakes will count for this so I have to share a breakfast or a dinner. The other challenge is a plank challenge! I’m really excited about this one because by the end of the month, the challenge has us holding a plank for three minutes, much longer than I’ve ever done before! Here’s a copy of the plank challenge in case anyone wants to join in on the fun:

Write a blog post once a week. I want to challenge myself to use my creative side more and start writing again, and more than just lists of my goals! I do have more going on in my life than just trying to lose weight and be healthier, and I’d like to share more of myself in May.

Recapping my April Goals

Hooray, FINALLY a month where this post isn’t super depressing! I crushed my April goals and I am so, so proud. I also lost 2.5 pounds, which isn’t a lot but I feel like it’s indicative of progress achieved with small and sustainable changes – and if I lose that much every month for the rest of the year, I’ll be down 22.5 pounds, which would be amazing.

Without further ado, here are my reflections on my April goal performance.

Stay under my allotted calories four days a week. I am so happy that I finally achieved a nutrition goal! Not only did I achieve this, but I actually stayed under my calorie count a couple of additional days in April, for a total of 19 days out of 30 or 63% of the month. Having three days a week that I could splurge really helped keep me on track the rest of the week. I think I would have seen better results if I hadn’t tended to go pretty far over my calorie count on the days I allowed myself to exceed my allotment, so I’m mulling over how to address that in my May goals.

Strength-train four days a week. I was back on my workout schedule in April and I easily achieved this, even with the hurdle of not feeling great after my second COVID vaccine last weekend (more on that experience later). Bill and I started a new round of LIIFT4 this week, so I have my workouts planned out for the next seven weeks. After that, there’s a new workout program I want to try, so lots of good stuff to look forward to as we move into summer!

Average 8,000 steps per day. I’m writing this on Friday afternoon so I don’t have my final step count for today, but as of right now my overall average steps for April was 9,655 per day. I’m sure the additional cardio contributed to my weight loss in April, and I’ve loved getting outside every day and taking long walks.

Complete the Fit Happens 30-Day Beachbody Challenge. My online Beachbody group had two challenges running in April – a daily workout/movement log with a photo, and a daily Shakeology log with a photo. I am beyond proud to say that I didn’t miss a single day (there were a couple of days when I wasn’t feeling well and just did some stretching workouts, but movement is movement!). But my favorite part of this goal was that it helped me be accountable to someone other than myself and it gave me a new motivation to make healthy habits – I didn’t want to look like a slacker!

Serve at least one dinner per week that has fish as the protein. This turned out to be a really fun goal, because I discovered that I enjoy preparing fish! Bill’s overwhelming favorite was my pan-seared Halibut, which has become a part of our weekly dinners.

Motivation Monday: Progress Feels Great

(Note: I haven’t done a post in my Motivation Monday series for literally years, but I thought I’d try bringing it back this month to help me stay on track with my goals.)

We’re five days into April, and already I’m seeing the benefits of my 30-Day challenge and feeling more confident in my ability to meet the monthly goals I set for myself. I still had some slips in nutrition over the weekend, but I did notice myself being a little more mindful of what I was indulging in. I had my Shakeology shakes as my lunches all weekend, and on Saturday not only did Bill and I do a Pilates workout together, but I also walked over six and a half miles with friends of mine! I wouldn’t have done that before, and we had such a good time that I’m hoping I can convince them to do it with me again. And last night I made a nice sockeye salmon with some green beans for dinner, which was tasty and in line with my goal to prepare more fish for dinner.

This morning Bill’s foot was bothering him, and normally I would have taken that as an excuse to skip working out. But then I thought about my Fit Happens challenge and I wanted to log a full workout and not just a walk for today, so instead of opting out of exercising altogether I suggested an upper body workout that wouldn’t strain his foot. We did it and I am so happy!

I feel like my mindset is starting to shift, and I suspect that one of the things that’s helping is that I’m accountable to the others in my 30-Day Challenge. If I’m not logging my workouts and shakes, they’re going to wonder where I am, and besides that I really want to complete this challenge successfully for myself! This reminds me of when I first started going to Zumba classes all those years ago. Before it became a passion of mine, I relied on friends in the class to check in with me and keep me accountable for going, and they never let me down. And once I became hard-core-obsessed with Zumba and was loathe to ever miss a night, I was able to help more new people be accountable for going too.

Right now I feel great about myself and my progress. I can only imagine how good I’ll feel by the end of April if I keep this up!

My Goals for April

It’s a new month and I feel VERY hopeful that I can make some progress in achieving my weight loss goals in the next thirty days. The weather is getting better which means more outside time, and I joined a 30-Day Beachbody Challenge with my coach and a group of other friends she’s connected with to help keep me motivated. I’m also starting a twelve-week group therapy class to help with some of the stress and anxiety I’ve been feeling lately, and I’m really hoping that reducing stress will give me a lot better quality of life overall.

So with that, here are my goals for April!

Stay under my allotted calories four days a week. I haven’t been doing a great job with my nutrition and I think that part of my failure is that I was just being too aggressive with my goals starting out. For this month, I’m just going to try and stay under my calorie goal four days per week. Since April begins on a Thursday this year, I’ll just count my weeks as Thursday-Wednesday.

Strength-train four days per week. I still really like this goal and I’m making it again because I want to have additional motivation to keep going with my workouts. Bill and I just started a new program on Beachbody on Demand called T25, and so far I’m enjoying it. It’s fast-paced and a lot different than workouts we’ve been doing lately, and I’m happy we’re changing it up. Plus, as the name suggests, the workouts are only 25 minutes long, and I like a short workout even if it’s intense!

Average 8,000 steps per day. Because the weather is getting nicer and because I did so well with my steps for March, I’ve increased my goal by 500 steps/day from last month’s goal. I really believe I can do this, especially since a friend of mine recently said she’d like to start getting together and going for walks. Spending time with a person I love is definitely motivation!

Complete the Fit Happens 30-Day Beachbody Challenge. There will be two challenges running simultaneously in my online fit group this month – a daily workout/movement log with a photo, and a daily Shakeology log with a photo. For fitness I’ll have my strength training four days a week, and my plan is to add in long walks and active recovery workouts on teh other days. During the week I use Shakeology as a meal replacement for lunch, so this will encourage me to plan it as a part of my day on weekends too. I have zero excuses not to – I work from home, I’m completely in control of my nutrition, and I have the support system of the others in my group.

Serve at least one dinner per week that has fish as the protein. Fish has a ton of health benefits and I know it should be more present in my diet than it currently is, so I’m going to make a point to add it into our rotation in April. I actually really like fish, but in the past was intimidated at the thought of cooking it. Since discovering over the last couple of years that I actually really enjoy trying new recipes, I’m less nervous, and I want to try my hand at preparing tasty fish dishes.

Recapping my March Goals

That….could have gone better.

Another month has drawn to a close without my being able to lose any weight. But I actually do feel like I’m getting my head back in the game and that I’ll start to see some success in April. But in the meantime, here’s a recap of how I did in March.

Continue strength training four times a week. I actually made this goal thinking that it was an easy one, but I missed some of my workouts in March. The first miss was on a Friday morning, because I’d had terrible allergies the day before and actually took an antihistamine (something I rarely need to do) and woke up feeling beyond groggy. We did go for a long walk that morning, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do a strength-training workout. Then I missed three workouts last week, although technically I did still do a form of strength training for two of them in the form of packing and carrying heavy boxes. I ended up going into my former office to help box up the various books and binders in our library, which proved to be a pretty decent challenge physically. I finished Thursday night but was really sore on Friday and opted to sleep in. This week I’m back to a normal work-at-home schedule and my workouts are on track, but I can’t claim a win on this goal.

Stay under my allotted calories six days per week. I did not fare well on this at all. If I finish today under my calories, I’ll have done so for just 15 of the 31 days of March, or not quite 50% of the month. While that’s an improvement over February, it’s still not great and I really want to do better.

Average 7,500 steps per day. I’m happy to say that I absolutely crushed this one. Even without my final step count for today, I’m at an average of 8400 steps per day for March, which was an amazing improvement over January and February’s step counts. I’m really happy we’ve been getting out and walking more and I want to keep this up!

Cook dinner at least one weekend night and eat that meal at the table. This definitely did not happen. I did actually cook at home on some weekend days, but we dined in front of the TV as per our usual.

Pick one non-eating-related activity per weekend to do with Bill. We….sort of did this? Once or twice? We drove up to Edison one Saturday to go to a show at an art gallery, which was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it. Other than that, I didn’t do the greatest job of thinking up non-eating things for us to do.

One Year in Quarantine

It’s been a year now since Washington state went into lockdown in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some ways it feels like it was so very long ago since things felt remotely normal, and in others I can’t believe I’ve actually spent a year of my life working from home, barely seeing friends, and hardly ever wearing pants that aren’t largely made of stretchy.

I felt a little sad thinking of this anniversary, of the year of normalcy lost and the months stretching out ahead of us until Bill and I are eligible to receive the vaccine. We’re both healthy and we work from home, so we will likely be some of the last people who can get it, which I’m very grateful for even as I feel a growing impatience to regain some of our old life. It can be easy to feel like I’ve lost a year of my life, but I try not to think that way and instead think about what I’ve gained. Having so much stripped away made me realize what really matters to me and what things I want to include in my life going forward. And I can recognize that I definitely took things for granted, like being able to go out to eat in a restaurant, or going to a movie in a theater, or seeing a band live. There were times I had tickets to shows and didn’t end up going, not for any real reason other than that I was tired after a long day of work and decided I wasn’t up to going back out once I got home.

My hope is that we can find a new way to live, where we go back to the things we used to love doing with an even greater appreciation for them, and where our priorities reflect the lessons we learned in lockdown. Although I do miss some aspects of going to work in an office, my stress levels are a lot lower now that I get more sleep, regular exercise, and more time because I’m not sitting in traffic every day. I get to spend more time with Bill and with our cats Ernie and Saturday, and having more family time means the world to me.

Last Friday night, Bill and I went with two of our friends who are in our little quarantine bubble out to a winery. We were able to do a wine tasting while still following all COVID guidelines, outside in the fresh air. It was one of the few outings we’ve had in a year and it was the first time we’ve gone anywhere with friends since last March (although we do see these particular friends at least once a week now, either at our house or theirs). It was a simple thing, but it felt SO good to go and have fun doing something we enjoy and sharing an experience with people we love. I will never take things like that for granted again. I won’t allow myself to.

I’m not saying the past year hasn’t been one of the hardest years of my life. It definitely has been, for many different reasons. I have been reasonably unscathed in comparison to people who have lost their lives, their loved ones, their health, or their jobs – or a combination of these losses – because of COVID. Watching helplessly as so many people suffer has taken a toll on me. I want to help, but all I can really do is keep following guidelines and wearing my mask and keeping my butt at home when I can. It isn’t much but it’s what I have to offer. And when it’s my turn, I will get my vaccine, and I will keep following all guidelines as long as I need to. And hopefully by this time next year things will be a lot more like the world we remember, but with a lot of lessons learned.

We’re not done yet, although it feels like there is a lot to be hopeful about.

Reflecting on Four Years of Marriage

Today Bill and I are celebrating four years of marriage. Four years married to my best friend and the love of my life seems so unreal to me. I feel just as lucky to be with him as I felt on my wedding day four years ago, and if it’s possible I might actually be more in love with him.

Following our wedding, we spent a relaxing night at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle before heading off to Cabo for our honeymoon a few days later. We celebrated our first anniversary at the same hotel, and in 2019 we spent our second in Scotland. It was still one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken. Last year, our third anniversary coincided with Washington state beginning to lock down due to the pandemic, so we got creative and spent a day driving out to the Olympic Peninsula to visit Ruby Beach, the place we got engaged in 2015.

This year, we wanted to do something special but between the pandemic and our anniversary falling in the middle of the work week, we decided to celebrate early by spending a night in Mukilteo at the Silver Cloud Hotel. We’ve spent the night there a few times in the last several months and we adore it. The hotel offers a room with a Jacuzzi tub, overlooking the waterfront and the ferry terminal. We like to take our firestick so we can watch movies, and we can get room service from Ivar’s next door and enjoy fresh, delicious seafood without ever having to leave the comfort of our room.

Because it was our anniversary, I was excited to find out that the hotel offered an upgraded package with the Jacuzzi room that came with a bottle of sparkling wine and chocolate truffles. I thought it gave our getaway a little extra romantic touch.

On our way to Mukilteo, we took a little detour to Snohomish to pick out cupcakes from Simply Sweet, the same place that we got our wedding cake and cupcakes from. They’re still my favorite cupcake place ever! I chose a pink champagne cupcake and Bill got a vanilla coconut.

We loved our anniversary getaway and enjoyed the chance to have a mini-vacation, even a local one.

For our actual anniversary today, we exchanged cards (Bill always hand-draws my cards which I love, he is an amazing artist) and Bill bought me a gorgeous bouquet of two dozen roses.

I am so grateful for our relationship and marriage. Bill shows me every day what it’s like to be truly and unconditionally loved and that feeling can still take my breath away. Sometimes I have no idea how this kind, smart, funny man could have ever fallen in love with me and he definitely has the patience of a saint, but the two of us fit together perfectly. The last year in particular came with some incredibly difficult times, but having Bill by my side helped get me through and I feel like we’re stronger than ever.

Monthly Goals for March

I woke up this morning sort of in shock that it’s already March. In addition to feeling like this year is absolutely racing by, realizing it’s March also means it’s been a year now since COVID-19 completely changed our lives. My last day working in an office was March 5th; now I don’t even have a desk in that office anymore and my company is in the process of moving out of that building and I likely won’t have a new location assigned until the end of the year.

February was largely a throw-away month for me with regard to my goals. I didn’t make any progress at all with losing weight, and my eating habits were far more indulgent than I’d allowed myself to be in January. It made me see that I really do need a monthly goal for my calorie intake; when I set a goal to stay under my allotted calories in January, I did much better than I did without any sort of goal like that in February. I’m in this weird place mentally where I really do want to lose weight and eat healthier, but I have a hard time making myself follow through with any sort of lasting change. During the week I have a pretty easy time following my healthy eating plan and doing my workouts, but once Friday night hits I lose my damn mind and don’t seem to recover myself until Monday morning (and a wave of regret) hits. I have to figure out how to be healthier on weekends or I’m never going to break this cycle.

With all that in mind, I’ve designed goals for March to hopefully support the habits I’ve formed that I’m proud of, while putting me in a position to (hopefully) finally start losing some weight.

Continue strength training four times a week. Last week, Bill and I finished the eight-week LIIFT4 program that we began at the start of 2021. I definitely feel stronger and proud of my progress, but I don’t want to let this good habit fall away now that we’ve finished the program. This morning, we started a new workout program on Beachbody on Demand called The Prep. Unlike LIIFT4, which is a four-day-per-week program, The Prep is designed to be six days a week – but since I don’t really want to have to commit to doing six days a week of workouts, our plan is to just modify it and do four of the workouts per week. It’ll take us longer to complete, but that’s okay, and I’ve talked to other people who have modified programs similarly and still gotten great results. The first workout this morning was killer, which is probably a sign that switching it up was a good idea.

Stay under my allotted calories six days per week. This goal worked well for me in January so I’m bringing it back. Currently my goal is to stay under 1,600 calories a day, knowing that if I can keep myself a little below that goal every day during the week that it’ll help offset having more food on weekends.

Average 7,500 steps per day. I didn’t do a step goal in February, mostly because the weather was wet, cold, and at times snowy, and it was hard to get outside. I’m not exactly a fair-weather walker but trudging through slippery ice and snow is not my idea of a fun time. Now that it’s nearly spring, I’m hoping that the weather will be a bit milder and it’ll be possible to get out and walk more.

Cook dinner at least one weekend night and eat that meal at the table. Growing up, my family always had dinner together, sitting at the dining room table. This did not carry into my adult life, and most nights Bill and I eat on the couch while we watch tv. We enjoy our ritual of watching different shows together, so I don’t want to stop doing it, but my intent with this goal is to not only make sure that we limit our takeout a bit on weekends but also that we eat more mindfully on at least one weekend night.

Pick one non-eating-related activity per weekend to do with Bill. Whether we go for a walk, a bike ride, a hike, a drive, or do an additional workout, I want to focus on non-food entertainment on weekends. When the weather’s nice, we like to walk into downtown Edmonds and wander along the waterfront. Whatever we decide to do, I want to incorporate this into our lives so that nice meals aren’t our only way to relax and connect with each other after a long week of work.