Thursday, October 23, 2008

Absentee Blogger

I promise I'm not abandoning my blog! And I promise to come back and answer all your questions and post some more about physical activity and nutrition! I just got roped into a lil project this week, so I'm reallllly busy.

Back ASAP...Hopefully this weekend.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Eating After 8:00 p.m.

I've had many questions about my statement that you definitely SHOULD eat after 8:00 p.m. so I thought I would address the issue in more detail.

Now, let me preface this by saying that, if you can't resist the late-night ice cream, candy bars, and pototo chips, maybe you should, in fact, not eat after 8:00. But, here's the deal folks...You shouldn't be eating those things on a regular basis anyway.

I found this article a while back, and I thought it really summed it up nicely. Read on:

This concept is also supported by The Cooper Institute.

And I think I should also take this opportunity to point out that you should NEVER let your stomach growl. (I think I had a question about this, too.) Because your body is trying to tell you something when that happens. "Hey, chica, you need to FEED me! I need energy (aka, calories)!" Don't deprive your body of the nourishment it needs. When you do, you tend to be absolutely ravenous the next time you sit down and eat a meal. And you eat everything that's not nailed down. (I know this from experience.) You'll end up eating more calories during the meal where your stomach is empty than you would have if you had had yourself a little snack an hour or so beforehand.

So that crap that your mom always told you about "don't have a snack right now because you'll spoil your dinner" just doesn't fly when it comes to healthy eating habits. It goes right out the window with "clean your plate."

I'm always hungry after 8:00 p.m. And it's because of my increased physical activity. So I feed my body some little something at around 9:00 or 10:00 so that I don't go to bed with my tummy growling. I usually try to pair a carb with a protein...Because carbs give you a little energy and protein helps you stay feeling fuller longer. Try a small apple (maybe split one with the hubby!) and a small tub of yogurt.

And, is only 40% of it. Get moving!

(Speaking of getting moving, I'll do another post on physical activity tomorrow. I had quite a few requests for more cardio workout ideas. And, might I add, that it'll probably blow your mind when I tell you that cardio is not the best way to get yourself into shape. Stay tuned.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Time to Get Started, Fit Friday Folks!

Oh, where to start, where to start!

I'm quite sure that the vast majority of you are motivated and ready to roll with this Fit Friday project. But I venture to say that no one is more excited than I am about it. I am PASSIONATE about proper nutrition and exercise, and ultimately, health. (And, yes, I do drive my family crazy with it. My dad is about ready to commit me.)

Here are a few tips to get you started on your fitness journey. Consider it a gift--from me to you.

First of all, this is an opportunity for you to change your life. And it's not just your life you'll be changing. It's the lives of your entire family. You, your husband, and your children. You're adopting a healthier lifestyle, and a side effect of that healthy lifestyle is a happier mommy who fits into a teeny tiny little pair of really cool jeans. SO, in summary, first lesson: It's for your health. And it's a family affair. And the family has to like it...Because you're the mommy.

If you'll go back in my posts and read the one about kids and childhood obesity, you'll understand why it's so important that we make these lifestyle changes not just for us, but for our spouses and kids, too.

Now, for the meat and potatoes of it, so to speak.

This weight loss thing is 60% exercise, 40% diet. So, my suggestion is that you start with exercise. Don't try to cut calories dramatically. It will only serve to cause your body to feel like you're starving and hang on to the extra fat.

One major complaint I have with Weight Watchers is that I think they over-emphasize portion size (although that is important!) and very much under-emphasize the importance of physical activity. And I think they subscribe to that ridiculous notion that you shouldn't eat after a certain time at night. Pet peeve.

So, on the eating front, I recommend you start making small changes. Small. Really small. Try replacing that Dr. Pepper with a glass of water. Switch to whole wheat bread and skim milk. Your family might not even notice, especially if you make the changes a little at time and don't just go into your pantry and have yourself a major cleanout. It's too shocking and it won't stick. And your family will notice what you're doing. They don't have to know that you're making healthy changes. (Yeah, there's a certain amount of sneakiness to this whole thing, but come on, you're a mom. You're no stranger to sneakiness.)

One more thing you need to know about eating. You need to eat ALL THE TIME. (Wow, really???) Yes, really. I eat constantly. You just have to eat the right things. So, have a snack! Have a bunch of snacks! (Mental note: Do blog on how to eat the right foods.)

Now, on to exercise...

First thing you need to know is that this exercise thing isn't really all that time-consuming. Well, it is time-consuming for me, but that's because I'm a bit obsessed and over-the-top, but that's beside the point.

You need about 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week in order to be healthy. By the way, healthy doesn't necessarily mean skinny. I know you moms are busy, so I'm telling you right now that it doesn't have to be 30 continuous minutes. Ten minutes here while you're waiting for the dryer to finish and ten minutes there right before the baby gets up from his nap will do just fine. Grab a jump rope (or just fake it!) and get with it.

If you're lucky enough to fit in a trip to the Y, grab an eliptical cycle, recumbant bike, or treadmill and do some interval work. Intervals are shown to give you more cardiovascular (yeah, health again) benefit and burn more fat than just your run-of-the-mill straight 30 minutes of cardio training. Try this:
  1. Five minutes at a brisk pace to warm up.
  2. 30 seconds of sprint--as hard as you can go without having to call an ambulance to cart you off to the ER.
  3. 1.5 minutes of what I call "working recovery." A brisk pace, but let your heart rate come down.
  4. Repeat 30 second sprint and 1.5 minute recovery until you're up to a total of about 25 minutes.
  5. Five minutes to cool down.

These intervals actually give you more of an "afterburn" effect. You'll burn more calories throughout your day than if you just did straight cardio work.

I have more cardio workouts, and I'd be happy to post them upon request.

You can also adapt this interval technique if you're doing the 10 minute spurts at home. Easy peazy lemon squeezy, as my daughter would say! (Yeah, she learned that from her British friends across the pond. So cute.)

That should be enough to get you started on your fitness journey. I'm trying to get ready for my nursing entrance exam on Saturday (prayers appreciated!), so I'll post more next week.

Another "After" Picture

Because I'm behind the camera all the time, it was difficult to find a decent picture of myself. I searched high and low yesterday to find one to post and then I thought of this one today.

Literally, behind the camera.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The After Pic

By popular demand...
And, yes, that's me hitting a baseball off a tee. In the spring, our daughter's t-ball team had a "Moms vs. Kids" t-ball game. And we moms lost. Oh, how sad to be outscored by a bunch of 5- and 6-year-old kids.
But I had SO much fun! SO much more fun than if I had been my old, fat, uncomfortable self. I find that I now enjoy so many more activities with the kids than I did when I was overweight.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Me--The Before, The During, and The After

In honor of Missy at, I'm writing this long-dreaded blog entry. I've put off doing this for so long, but I'm going to gut it up today just to show her (and YOU) that it can be done.
So here it is. For all my blogging friends to see. My before picture. I didn't want to post it on here, but I think I should be proud of where I came from and where I am today.

So, here's the story behind the picture. BIG story. Because, obviously, it's a BIG picture!

I was never skinny--except when I was about 11 years old and EVERYONE was skinny. I wasn't exactly "fat" either. Until I quit athletics and got a job in a bank when I was a sophomore in high school. (As you'll see throughout my story, jobs tend to make me fat.) So began my battle of the bulge.
Before I got out of high school, I was up to 150 lbs. All throughout college I was heavy, save about a year when I had developed a stomach ulcer and couldn't eat for a while. (Thanks, Intermediate Accounting!)
When I got married, I was heavy. And hardly anyone is heavy when they get married. But my dress was a size 12...Maybe a 14. I've sort of blocked that whole experience out, I guess! The point is, I wasn't a skinny bride. And most of you probably were.

My fitness journey began right before I got pregnant with my little girl. I had lost my job through a RIF, and I was going CRAZY at home by myself all day long. So, one day, I thought I would go check out a water aerobics class at our local rehab/fitness center.

Oh, water aerobics. The water aerobics class at my rehab/fitness center has an average age of about 87. I was one of the only ones who didn't have to wheel my little oxygen tank to the edge of the pool and unhook before I got in the water. Yes, really.

But I was not discouraged! I continued going until I had gotten in shape enough to advance to some classes with people my own age. And I lost weight almost effortlessly and was able to continue exercising throughout my first pregnancy.

In fact, when I delivered my little girl via c-section, the nurse said, "Wow. You had great abs." Uh huh. Had. Like in Never gonna see it again, Honey.

And you know the rest. New baby. Another baby 18 months later. Postpartum depression. Drugs to combat said postpartum depression that make you blow up to roughly the size of a large barn. A job outside the home. A long commute.

And that's the way I lived for years. Fat. Uncomfortable. Unhappy. Camoflauging my body with the biggest, baggiest clothes I could find.

Then, one day, my wonderful husband came home and announced that he was offered a really fantastic one-year job assignment in the UK. We could move to the UK, maybe sell our house and build a new one (even though we had just built the house we were in and had only lived in it for about eight months), have a wonderful experience as American expats in a foreign country, give our kids a little culture, etc. etc. I would get to quit my job and have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom for the first time.


So, we moved to a little town called Woking in the county of Surrey, just outside of London.

Do the words culture shock mean anything to you? Yeah, they didn't really mean much to me either before I moved to a foreign country.

But I was in culture shock. Serious culture shock. The funny thing is, I had to get used to being a SAHM more than I had to get used to living in a different country. And my kids had to get used to not being in daycare.

I had never done this SAHM gig before. I had no IDEA what I was doing! But I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to get out of the house at least once a day.

Well, folks, it rains in the UK. And rains.

So about my only choice was to find a gym. With a nursery. (By the way, the nursery in the UK is called a creche.) Enter David Lloyd Leisure Center.

The kids and I started making a daily trek to David Lloyd. They offered a "free" personal training session about every 4-6 weeks as part of the membership. I use the term free loosely because I paid about $200 US every month PLUS $16/day for the creche.

I started losing weight. It was like a miracle even though I knew that exercising would help one shed extra pounds. It's as if I thought that little rule didn't apply to me or something. Exercise, for the record, represents about 60% of the losing weight equation.

The other 40% is diet. Not as in "I'm going on a diet." More like, "My diet consists of..."
Let me tell you a little something about the UK. The food is horrible. Just horrible. But the British do have one saving grace. The food in their supermarkets is fabulous. I have yet to find a supermarket in the US with a fresher, better selection of fruits, veggies, breads (oh, the breads!), and chicken, turkey, and pork.

So, since the restaurants in the UK 1) are overpriced, 2) serve digusting food, at best, and 3) don't get any hurry whatsoever to serve you when you have a 2- and 3-year old in tow, both of whom are usually throwing a huge fit because they're hungry, I learned to cook. Not that I didn't know before, but I never did it because I was too busy trying to get home from my outside-the-home job.

I started losing more weight as a result of eating better. I didn't realize how much I was pulling through the drive-thru at Whataburger back in the US because I was too tired to cook.

By the time Christmas rolled around, I had lost about 25 lbs. Yes, that's right. From May until November when I went home for Christmas, I had dropped 25 lbs. And I didn't diet. I did work out, but it was fun and I came to enjoy it and think of it as "my" time. I guarded that selfish time with my life, and I continue to do so today.
I still have a really hard time shopping for clothes. I tend to gravitate towards the bigger sizes, mainly because I've never in my adult life been able to wear the smaller sizes. Until now. I had a moment just this past Saturday at Costco. I found the cutest skirt and looked up at the handy dandy price sign to find that it didn't come in my size. Yes, Dockers doesn't make that skirt small enough to fit me. Wow. Never in my wildest dreams...
So, today, as a result of my newfound freedom and love of fitness, I'm a Cooper Certified Personal Trainer. I'm 40 lbs. lighter, weighing in at 128 lbs. I continue to work out five days a week. And my body is the healthiest it's ever been in my life. God is sure good.