Maintenance Magic: Gaining and Losing Weight

mfp 7.9For years I’ve been a die hard MyFitnessPal.com fan.  I have logged in consecutively for 1129 days now.  Through all of that logging I’ve maintained my weight between 130 and 140 lbs.  But I desperately need a break from counting every little crumb.  So I took one.  I didn’t track any nutrition during the months of May or June.  However, this little break combined with some hefty 4th of July holiday eating spiked my weight from 130 lbs to 137.  I have dreamed for years of getting back to 125 but have learned that look and feel do not always accompany the number on the scale.  That said, my 5’2″ frame is not very comfortable wearing 137 pounds and what goes up must come down.  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s diet time.   I’ve also been wanting to chase this elusive “race weight” people talk about.  That amazing body composition that makes you feel lighter and faster.  Usually when I diet at all I lose some weight but inevitably feel tired and sluggish from the reduced calories and my running performance suffers.  I gain weight and feel bloated and slow.  There has to be a happy medium, but getting there is obviously the tricky part.  I haven’t seen much affect of my weight on my running but that could also be because my weight hasn’t fluctuated outside of these 10 lbs.mfp 2 7.9

Since Monday when I stepped on the scale at 137 lbs I’ve cut back on calories, sodas, and starchy carbs.  I’ve lost about 5 lbs in 3 days.  I know my body well enough though to know that the initial loss is mostly water weight from all of the unhealthy treats I had during the holiday weekend.  Just need to keep at it!  What’s interesting is a few years ago when I started all of this, all I wanted was to lose weight.  Now losing weight is much lower on my list of health and fitness priorities and I know that will be the challenge for me.  I need to find ways to prioritize healthy eating.

What has been your experience with weight loss?  

Do you have a “race weight”?  

Fueled by Birthday Cake (with video)

Wow, it’s been a crazy busy week.  Work has been super nuts and we’ve had family in town with a couple of birthday parties, one being for my son who just turned 7.  So much fun though!  It can be a challenge though to train for a marathon around life obligations.  That said, where there’s a will there’s a way.  Plus it’s also helpful when family is supportive. 🙂  I was able to stick to my training plan and get a run in on Saturday.  It also worked out that Saturday’s normal long run was actually only about a half hour this week.

I left the house Saturday’s run thinking I would be extra sluggish after eating bagels, pizza, sandwiches IMG_0362and birthday cake all day.  It was after my son’s party.  It was getting dark and it was rainy.  It was just IMG_0355one of those I-don’t-feel-like-doing-this-but-know-I-need-to runs.  I laced up, grabbed a rain jacket and got out there.  The 5 minute warm up was tedious but I did feel better to be out in the fresh air.  Once I hit the faster part of the workout though I felt surprisingly strong and was able to finish the rest of the workout at the required pace without even feeling tired or exhausted at the end.  Not every run is one of those runs where I feel amazing and like I’m nailing it so I’ve grown to appreciate those days where everything just seems to work out. 🙂

I also published this week’s video blog on YouTube!  Enjoy!

Marathon Training Recap – Week 1 (with video)

Yay!  First week of marathon training is done!  Video recap below. 🙂

This week’s workouts were really tough.  I had to push out my usual Thursday run to Friday which put some difficult speed work (for me) the day before my long run.  I will try to avoid that in the future and give myself the rest day between.  Those back to back runs were just a struggle.

Here’s what next week looks like.

training week 2

 

In other news, I took a break off of dieting.  It’s just been one of those crazy hectic weeks and I didn’t feel like logging anything which isn’t like me.  I’m not eating badly, just not counting every little thing. 🙂  Do you ever have one of those days?  Or weeks?

IMG_0287

Also, saw some geese yesterday on my long run.  Cute!

 

I’d App That

If you haven’t guessed already, I love documenting and tracking everything about my fitness.  Here are a few of my favorites that I use on a weekly/daily basis.

What are your favorites?  What am I missing? 🙂

  1. MyFitnessPal – I use MFP daily to track calories in/out.  (1,070 consecutive days going strong!) (Free!)
  2. MapMyRun – I signed up for the MVP access on MapMyRun (includes all MapMyFitness apps) and love this app for tracking my runs.  The route genius feature is ultimately what sold me on this over Runkeeper which was my go-to prior to MapMyRun. (Free but I payed for the MVP version, I think $20/year?)
  3. Gipis – I use Gipis for my marathon training plan.  When I start a run I initiate Gipis and MapMyRun simultaneously so the data is saved both places.  For treadmill runs I upload to both manually after my run. (Free!)
  4. Fitbit – I took a year off of Fitbit only because it was becoming something of an obsession.  However, I just picked this back up again recently to track how my steps add up with my marathon training.  I am also interested in tracking my sleep to be sure I am getting enough rest as well. (The Fitbit app is free but you purchase the device.)
  5. FitnessBuilder – I’ve been using Fitness Builder for my strength training workouts.  Right now I’m working through the dumbbells program twice a week since I have that equipment both at home and at the LA Fitness I frequent.  I like that it has timer and you can save the weights used.  The weights used on the same exercise last time are shown below which help me gauge what to use for the current workout. (Free!)
  6. Withings – This app links to some other apps I have like MFP.  I mostly use this to log my weight.  I weigh-in once per week on the scale which then sends that data to the app on my phone.  (App is free but you purchase the scale.)IMG_0268

That’s all I’ve got for now!  I’ve tried many others and either disliked or become bored with them.  Would love to know what else is out there though.  Happy Tuesday everyone!

No Meal Prep? No Problem.

Google “meal prep” and you’ll find oodles of information on how to spend a few hours one day a week to get all your food ready for the rest of the week.  I completely idolize those of you who can do this!  What a cool thing to be able to have everything ready to go.  This just wasn’t a solution for me.

So what is the alternative?  Fast food and vending machines?  No thanks.  I know my body needs actual nutrition to power me through my day at my office, my quality time with my kids, and my killer workouts.  I rely on grab and go breakfasts, lunches and snacks to get me through the day, then throw together something super fast for dinner.  I had to change the way I thought about food to get here though.  It didn’t come over night and I had to get out of my comfort zone and be creative.

Packing:
For starters, you don’t have to use fancy Tupperware or lunch bags.  I take a grocery store plastic bag, walk around my kitchen to collect all my food, then throw it in my big stuff-I-need-for-work-bag.

 

Always in my big bag: a can opener, a bowl, a fork, a spoon, a vegetable peeler, water bottle, salt & pepper and a small food scale.  (I wash utensils and stuff in the office break room or wash it when I get home.)

What to Pack – 1 minute:
You don’t have to portion things out into individual portions!  Just take the whole container. Stuff can be portioned out as you need it.  Example: Just take a whole cucumber.  I used to think I had to peel it, cut it, Tupperware it.  That takes time.  Time I don’t have.  Ranch dressing?  Throw the whole bottle in there.  Frozen veggies?  Take the whole bag.  Deli meat?  Take the whole package.  Things that can be purchased already in small containers is great too – individualize oatmeal pouches, yogurt, fruit cups, cheese sticks, etc.

Unpacking – 3 minutes:
When I get to work I take out my grocery bag of food, remove anything I don’t want refrigerated onto my desk.  Take the rest of the food and my water down to the break room.  Fridge the grocery bag and fill up my water.

Breakfasts (I like stuff I can eat in the car on the way to the office)
English muffin
Granola bar
Banana
Protein powder in water or milk or coffee

Lunches (protein + vegetable)
Deli meat (turkey, chicken, ham) with carrots
Can of tuna (straight out of the can) with a cucumber
Eggs (scrambled in the microwave) with broccoli

Snacks
Fruit
Greek yogurt
Instant oatmeal
Cheese

These are just a few ideas I’ve found helpful for me, but I’m sure there are more!

What are your go-to food and meal ideas to get you through the week?

Simply Shredded (weeks 1-4) Results & Review

Here we are at the end of week 4 of Simply Shredded.  I won’t write out the entire workout but I am including a link to my training plan and updated training plan.  As I got started with the Simply Shredded program I needed to change some things to continue to incorporate my running.  So how did it really go?  Did I stick to my exact diet the entire time?  Did I really drink a gallon of water every single day?  Did I run as much as I wanted to?  The answer to all of those is no.  No, no, no.  Nope, not at all.  I’m a human being after all, not a machine (contrary to popular belief, and not in a good way) but I did keep track of everything; good and bad.  As it turns out, I’m a documenting freak so it was fun for me to keep track of all of these nuances.  I also put a heck of a lot of work in this month.  Hope you find it helpful.  Otherwise, it’s just more documenting for me to keep to review later – win/win. 🙂

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Starting picture on the left through to the end of week 4 pic on the right.

The Goal: Reduce fat/lose weight

Results – Pics & Stats
Yay!  All this hard work seems to be paying off.  I lost 4.5 inches and 4.5 lbs these last 4 weeks.  Not too bad!  I’ve included a chart with measurements taken after each week along with some pics.  I did my measurements, weigh ins, and progress pics every Saturday morning before breakfast to stay consistent.  (The “starting” picture is a bit dark as I had to take them earlier than usual that day.)
measurements

Workouts
I followed the Simply Shredded program for my strength training.  I worked on increasing my weekly running mileage and made sure to include some HIIT to get my heart rate really going at least a couple times a week.  I didn’t always do the ab exercises that Simply Shredded recommends on Fridays.  No real excuse for that other than I work abs pretty regularly with my trainer and just didn’t feel like doing abs those days. 🙂  The calf exercises were also hit and miss.  I go to multiple locations of my gym chain and some of the locations don’t have those machines.  I also figured my running worked my calves pretty well.  I would say I did those about 75% of the time or so.  I did increase an inch in both calves which I was pretty excited about.
workouts

Nutrition
Followed IIFYM as best as I could (see other post on nutrition).  I wanted to cut (lose weight/fat as apposed to gaining or maintaining) but decided to first start with maintenance calories since I wasn’t sure how my running would affect my goals.  I calculated maintenance macros for the 4 days of lifting the Simply Shredded program calls for.  I also added in additional calories in the form of carbs for my runs.  For my runs I used this formula: (75 calories x miles ran)/4 = carbs in grams extra that day.  I only ate these additional calories if I felt I needed them.  I usually did use some or most of them on those run days but usually not all.  I did not add any additional calories for my HIIT sessions.  My hope was that this would contribute to my weight loss instead of maintenance.  It seemed to work as I was seeing results each week.  Had I not seen results I would have reduced my intake.

macros

A bit about this chart: The red bolded days are those I did not stick to macros exactly with everything weighed out.  On those days I got as close as I could, focusing on eating lean protein throughout the day but an event or special scenario came up that I wanted

Typical day of eating.

Typical day of eating.

to enjoy without being the kill-joy with the food scale.  I know I was close those days but not spot-on.  I didn’t do any full “cheat” days, just a specific meal on those days highlighted in red.  I thought it was important to note those though.  If wasn’t seeing progress I could look back and evaluate those more closely.

Hydration
I made sure to drink about a gallon of water a day.  There were probably some days I missed by a few ounces but am pretty happy to be close most of the time.

Overall Summary
I’ve really enjoyed the workouts in Simply Shredded.  I love that they are so short I can fit them in over my lunch hour without issue.  I can tell I’m getting stronger with each session.  My struggle now has been coping without rest days.  I have taken rest days here and there by doubling up on workouts the day before or after.  It’s been okay but definitely more effort than my body is used to.  I think it is getting easier though and I am pretty excited about my results!  🙂

If it Fits

…your macros.  I want to take a minute to talk about nutrition.  All of this training I’m trying to cram into my nutty schedule won’t do anything to change my body if my nutrition is working against me.  My sister in law turned me on to the If-It-Fits-Your-Macros (IIFYM) diet this past Spring and let me tell you it has been a game changer.  IIFYM is basically an eating style that allows you to eat some processed or traditionally “unhealthy” food in moderation as long as it fits within your macronutrients goals.  That is my really basic explanation of it although there is lots of information out there on the subject.  IIFYM.com is a great resource with calculators and the science behind it.  IIFYM sometimes gets a bad rap because it doesn’t put any foods on a ‘bad’ list or restrict them.  That said,  things I eat do have to fit my goals for protein, fats and carbohydrates at the end of the day.  For example, I know I can’t eat a bucket of fried chicken because it wouldn’t fit within my goals.  But if I want a cookie after my grilled chicken and steamed veg dinner?  It’s fine and I don’t have to feel guilty about it.  And I LOVE that about eating this way.  If I want gummy bears (as I often do!) I have them and I don’t cry about it.

mfpI still work toward eating as many fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains for most of my nutrition.  Yesterday I did not have produce available to me and was constantly on the go from thing to thing.  I wound up eating almost exclusively convenience foods and somehow still hit my macros.  Hit the macros but felt like garbage.  I didn’t feel guilty or terrible mentally but I just didn’t feel as good physically. Today I met about the same macros but included more (not all!) whole foods and produce and felt much better.  It’s all about what you do with what you have.

So today I’m celebrating this (pic)!  A perfectly zeroed out macro day.  The goal is to meet each macro within + or – 5 grams.  Dead on for me is pretty rare.  Feeling fit, feeling strong.  Now time for that 5 mile run. 🙂