Better Choices, Better Results

Archive for March, 2011

I Did It!

Slow + Jog = Slog

I hit a milestone yesterday…I slogged the entire way around the track!  This is really big for me!  I’m 42 years old and have never – I mean NEVER – done any type of physical activity with any real consistency.  To know that I’ve made enough progress to actually jog (even slowly) around is huge for me.

Look out, 5K, here I come!

De-Cluttering

I have a pretty small closet.  I’ve always had small closets, though not by choice.  My dream is to have a big walk-in closet some day that will hold not only my clothes, but blankets and sheets and coats and my shoes.  

Back to reality.

Since I don’t have a walk-in, I keep my clothes separated by season.  My closet houses the current season’s wardrobe plus some items that can be worn year-round.  The off-season clothes are kept in a cedar chest in another bedroom.

This weekend, I opened up the cedar chest to see what was in there for spring/summer.  You’ll recall that I’ve been the process of de-cluttering my life.  I’ve already given away or donated a lot of clothing that was too big for me.  Those came from the winter wardrobe.  After going through the Spring/Summer wardrobe, I’ve come up with two more huge piles of clothing that’s too big for me to wear anymore.

In the grand scheme of life, this is a good thing.  It means I’m getting smaller and healthier.  On the other hand, I had a lot of really nice clothes that cost lots of money!  I think I’m going to pack up the nicer clothes and take them to a consignment shop.  I’ve never done that before, but it might be a great way to make a little extra cash, or trade for clothing that will fit me now.

On the bright side – for the first time ever – all of my clothes fit in my closet.  Maybe I could keep it that way and be able to use the cedar chest for those blankets and rugs that are piled in other places…

Activity Update

I’ve graduated from a 30-minute walk 3 times a week to a 40 minute walk 3 times per week!

I tried Zumba.  I didn’t HATE it, but I did feel awkward and uncoordinated.

I’m regularly taking the stairs at work and other places.

I have more energy in the evenings and I’m sleeping better, with less resistance to waking up in the mornings.

For these reasons alone, I can see the value in continuing a regular exercise program.  Even f I never become the sports enthusiast that I envision in my dreams, I’m still doing so much better than I was even 2 months ago.

I think it might be time for me to push a little more and try jogging.  My first goal: 1 time around the walking track without stopping.

Adventures in Zumba-Land

Zumba

This is NOT me. This woman has rhythm!

I took my first official Zumba class last night with a friend.  Let’s just say that I’m not ready for Dancing with the Stars

I feel I must tell my story by starting at the bottom (my feet) and working my way up.

Before I get into that, I have to tell you that I was certainly intimidated by one fellow Zumba classmate.  This man came into class early to claim his spot (like us) and began to stretch.  He had his legs in some pretty severe contortionist positions, and I knew – at that moment – that this middle-aged, rhythm-less woman was in for the experience of a lifetime.

The Feet:

My feet are not yet ready for any moves that require rhythm.  I cannot follow complicated footwork, and something tells me that what we did last night barely even touches on complicated.  By the time I got a simple tap-tap-step movement conquered, the rest of the class had moved on to another step.  Forget about the circles that they were turning in the middle of step combinations!  I nearly fell attempting them, so I just kind did my own thing during the 360s.  Shall we even mention the Samba steps?  No…I think that story is best saved for another edition.

The Knees:

My knees are very stiff this morning.  We were in a squatting position for many of the moves.  I’m obviously not holding this squat properly, because my quads should be feeling the soreness – not my knees.

The Hips:

Our Instructor was about 22 years old and thin.  I swear – her hips could NOT have been connected to her spine and legs!  They twitched back and forth much too easily to have been attached!  Hawaiian belly-dancers have nothing on this instructor. 

My hips, on the other hand, are FIRMLY connected to my spine and legs…and also to some invisible steel cables that were anchored to the floor.  Every time I tried any Hip-Twitching, I felt my spine popping.  I’m pretty sure that a longer class would have resulted in the separation of my pelvis and spine.

The Waist:

Have you ever seen the infomercials for Zumba DVDs?  If so, I’m sure you’ll remember watching the women do these intense pelvic thrust/booty-shaking/waist-twisting movements.  Yes.  Those were in our work-out last night.  I’m still ashamed of how my body looked trying to pull those off.  Sad.  Very sad.

The Shoulders and Arms:

OK.  I didn’t do too badly in this arena.  I kept up pretty well, although at times there were these moves that I can only describe as unnatural for me.  Slap-the-knees-and-double-fist-pump-with-a-finger-point-at-the-end.  Uh huh.  That’s me! 

The Head:

Besides sweating profusely and turning bright red with the effort I was expending, my head was amazed that – even though I wasn’t doing the moves correctly – I was also sort-of keeping up with the crowd and NOT GIVING UP!!!!

Do you know how amazing that feels? 

I wonder if someone teaches a beginning Zumba class where the movements are slow and easy until you get the hang of it.  I would definitely be interested in that.

That’s it for this installment of Adventures in Zumba-land.  Have you ever tried it?

Energy to Burn

Last night I had energy to burn.  I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen, cleaned and learned how to work a new coffee pot (and I don’t even drink coffee), ironed two sets of curtains, ironed 2 shirts and cleaned 2 windows, including the tracks. 

Normally after I eat supper, my main activities are cleaning the kitchen, checking e-mails and watching TV.  Where did this energy come from?

I think it’s the result of two things: my weight loss and the fact that we had a lighter supper than normal.

I’m currently carrying around 30 fewer pounds than I did 4 months ago.  While it’s not all the weight I need or want to lose, 30 pounds is a lot!  Think of toting around 3 sacks of potatoes or 6 bags of flour all the time.  Energy that I used to use just for carrying the extra weight can now be used for other, more important tasks.

Also, we had Salad Supper last night.  We do this once a week, on average.  We fix a big salad and have low-fat cheese, chicken, low-fat dressing and almonds to add protein and extra nutrition.  The lighter supper meant that my body wasn’t using a lot of energy trying to digest a heavy meal.

Something else I just thought about…I purposely avoided after-supper snacking last night.  Normally I’ll save part of my daily food intake for when I watch TV at night.  Last night, even though I had enough left in my food budget to enjoy some snacking, I refrained.  Maybe that helped, too.

Either way, I like that I had energy last night.  It was nice to go to bed feeling good about the night’s accomplishments.

Knowledge is Power

As you know, I’ve been trying to eat better by making wiser choices at each meal.  I track everything I eat by writing it down and totaling everything out each evening.  It’s like a budget – I have certain amounts to eat: protein, fat, fiber and carbohydrates- and I try not to go over my budgeted amount each day.

When I go out to eat, I try really hard to order with forethought.  I look at the menu descriptions and stay away from items that indicate added fat: fried, scampi, battered, country style and glazed, to name a few.  I also look for words that indicate healthier cooking options like roasted, sautéed, baked, grilled and steamed.

Still, it bothers me when I can’t track exactly what I’ve eaten.  I always try to look up nutrition values online if I’m planning to eat out, or if I’ve already eaten at a restaurant but still need to add up my daily totals.

Today I went to Steak ‘n Shake and ordered their Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad with a low-fat dressing.  It was really good.  Afterward, I looked up the nutrition values and found that I did a good job ordering.  My salad had low fat and carbs, high protein and decent fiber.

I couldn’t stop there, though.  I had to look up some of the foods I used to eat.  The cheeseburgers and onion rings and fries and milk shakes.  The nutrition values on those foods shocked me.  In fact, one meal – the way I used to eat – would have been twice the amount that I eat daily now.

Knowledge is power.

Now that I know this, it’ll be very hard for me to order those “old” foods unless it’s a special occasion.

Mindful eating.  Knowing what you are eating.  Eating with purpose.  Making better choices at each opportunity.

If you don’t already do this, I encourage you to find your favorite restaurants online and print off their nutrition pages.  It’s amazing what you’ll learn.

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been doing some spring cleaning around the house.  I want to give the house a really good deep-cleaning; to go beyond the basic maintenance that I normally do.  I’ve been cleaning windows; freeing them from their winter-time muck (including the tracks!).  I’ve been cleaning baseboards and ceiling fans.  I’ll be cleaning carpets and scrubbing tiled floors.  Dusting and scrubbing and sweeping.  (Oh, my!)

I guess you could call it cleaning out the winter doldrums and preparing a fresh slate for what Spring and Summer have to offer.

Here’s a BONUS:  all that cleaning is great exercise!

I’ve also be de-cluttering as I go.  Want to talk about feeling free?  Getting rid of the “stuff” that doesn’t mean anything is very freeing to me.

I’ve been making regular rounds to Good-Will, taking clothes, unused blankets, purses and knick-knacks.  I’ve been taking books to the Half-Price Book Store to sell.

I’ve been really analyzing the items I come across while cleaning.  I’ve been brutal.  If I don’t love it, have a reason to keep it, or feel strongly that I’ll be using it again in the near future; I’ve been getting rid of it.   I just have too much stuff right now, and I love the feeling of letting go of some of it.

Inspired to de-clutter, but aren’t sure how to start?  I read an article about throwing away (or recycling or donating) 5 things from each area you encounter.  Here’s a link to that page: http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2011/02/inspired-living-toss-5-things.html.  Basically, you start with one area – say, your medicine cabinet – and you go through it and toss at least 5 things.  Then you move on to another area.  Before you know it, you’ve de-cluttered!  Once you get 5 things out, it’s not hard to keep going and remove more stuff that’s just in the way, serving no real purpose. 

Try it!