Balancing Act

The new year has brought an interesting but familiar challenge for me that I’m struggling to overcome. The desire to stay-the-course for my health journey and the desire to accomplish another large goal of mine: writing. 

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be a novelist. I’ve always joked about my “writing moods” – periods where all I want to do is write and nothing else…at all. For a few years (ugh, yes, years), words just haven’t been flowing the way I want. But last year I finally found my groove again.

And then 4th Quarter hit. Just like the end of the year at work made being healthy a challenge, it made writing nearly impossible. So you can only imagine how happy I am now that we’re in a fresh year and I have time to write again.

So why is this a problem? Because in order to write I have to – you guessed it – sit! I’ve already found that focusing more on my writing with the start of the new year has led to me getting in less exercise and I don’t want that to become a trend.

I have two thoughts on how to combat this. First, I think it would be helpful to set some daily minimums. Because writing involves so much variety – between actual writing, editing, and the business side of things – I think it’s adequate to say I need to do SOMETHING every day. That task can be as small or as large as the day allows. For exercise, I’m going to commit to 30 minutes daily. That’s manageable even if I’m having a crazy day and all I can do is a 30-minute walk. 

Obviously, for both of these goals I want to do more than these minimums most days but I can be happy with myself if I can’t. I also want to incorporate other healthy habits I’ve already built into my writing. For example, since I’ve started this lifestyle change, I walk whenever I can incorporate it into normal activities. So if I’m brushing my teeth/hair, texting, blogging, or just stewing over something, I walk while I do it. Writing involves a lot of thinking – building out plot points, getting into the mindset of characters, etc. That’s all stuff that I can do while pacing around my apartment – so I SHOULD!

As always, even just thinking through this problem and its solution already has me feeling more confident about my approach. Now it’s time to just get on it!

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Question Mark

So, if you’ve read my last few posts, you know I’m currently trying out an experiment to boost my weight loss rate. Don’t worry – I’m not shooting for anything unhealthy. It’s just slowed down quite a bit and I’d like to see it back around 1-2 pounds per week.

My first experiment to remedy this was to increase my protein intake. For the last 3 weeks I’ve been shooting for 50% protein in comparison to fats and carbs. If I saw at least some weight loss each week with this plan, then I’d continue doing it.

Now that the 3 weeks is over, I can happily say that it has worked! I’ve lost about 2.5 pounds in the last 3 weeks. It’s still not exactly the rate I’d like but that’s way better than where I’ve been lately. Yay!

Here’s where it gets fun.

Apparently I wasn’t getting in as much protein as I thought. Take it from me people – reading nutrition labels is important! You’d think I’d know that after all this time. But yesterday, I discovered that I’ve been eating something pretty regularly in the last few weeks that I thought was high in protein (low in everything else) when, in fact, it’s high in carbs and only ok in protein. Doh!

So this brings my whole experiment into question because I suspect my protein percentage will be quite a bit different if I go back and correct my food tracker. BUT I have been losing weight faster so SOMETHING has been working.

I guess all I can do is correct my tracker and see where that puts me. Maybe I’ve still been hitting high protein but replacing this high-carb item will accelerate things more. Or maybe I’ll see something else entirely that may be helping me lose. 

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know what I find out! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Next Mission

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! For me, it was nice because the family I visited is also working on losing weight. That means I had plenty of healthy options and got a lot of activity in to make up for the unhealthy ones. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that that’s over and my work craze is basically done, it’s time to target my attention and try some new things on my weight loss journey. Overall, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at because I’m still losing. That being said, it’d be really nice if I could start losing weight a little more quickly. Right now I’m losing an average of half a pound to a full pound every two weeks and I’d like to bump that up to every week, if possible.

I’ve tried quite a few things over the last few months to increase my loss ratio but nothing’s really worked – probably because I haven’t been able to stick with anything consistently. So, what I’d like to do is some test runs – try a new strategy for 3 weeks at a time. If I can get 3 weeks of consistent loss (no matter how much it is) I’ll stick with that strategy for a while.

In thinking through strategies, I intend to focus primarily on my food, which is a little out of character for me. I always gravitate toward trying a new workout or increasing physical activity. However I do know that nutrition is 90% of the issue so I’m putting my faith in that for the moment. 

My current nutrition isn’t bad – I consistently hit a set deficit and get plenty of good calories in. But if I’m being honest, my current nutrition is probably closer to what it should be once I’m aiming to maintain my weight.

A few ideas come to mind on what could be off with my nutrition:

  • Protein percentage. If I don’t think too much about it my protein intake is usually less than 15% when compared with fat and carbs. If I really am mindful I can get it around 30% but I’ve read that it should be close to 50% to maximize fat loss.
  • Deficit. I currently work off a 500 calorie deficit but I worry that I may have inaccuracies with how many calories I’m burning, which may mean I’m inadvertently eating less or more than I should.
  • Grams of carbs. In theory, this would go down if I focus more on protein but I’m noting it because I noticed my grams of carbs tend to be higher than they should be even when my intake percentage doesn’t seem that high.
  • Sodium. I inconsistently hit my sodium goal. It’d be interesting to see what kind of difference consistency could make.
  • Sugar. Since I started working on weight loss I’ve worked hard to cut out artificial sweeteners. Of course that means my real sugar intake has gone up so lowering that number by true reduction in sugary foods would probably help.

To kick this mission off, I’m going to start off with the goal of increasing my protein percentage. Not sure yet what my strategy for doing that will be but I’m working on it!

What about all of you? What kind of tweaks could you make to improve your nutrition?

Falling Backwards

Quick post tonight because I just need it. I’ve been doing so well with my lifestyle change for quite a while now – even managing to stay strong through a rather long plateau.

But I feel myself slipping lately. In the last week or so I’ve caught myself revisiting some old bad habits, such as:

  • Letting work keep me from reaching my minimu step goal
  • Giving myself too many passes on eating past my calorie goal
  • Eating larger than normal desserts
  • Stress eating

All of these are bad signs as they’re all the things that got me to the weight that I am.

So this is my stern talking-to. The next few months – my busiest time of year at work – will determine if I stay on course or regain all my weight (what happened last year). It’s time to get back on track mentally so I can stay on track physically.

I can do this!

Prepping for Travel…Again

If you can’t tell by my recent lack of posts, things have been a little busy lately. The end of the year is always hectic for me and the start of that is usually August or September. The good news is that I’ve still been able to keep up with my good eating and working out…for the most part. That’s important because last year my end-of-year craziness is part of what threw me off track with my weight loss for nearly 6 months.

Obviously, I’m determined not to let that happen again. One big way I’ve focused on avoiding it is by pre-planning how I’m going to stay healthy every time I travel. Several weeks of work travel are built into the end of the year for me and I believe that was what made me truly fall off track last year. Doing this pre-planning has worked really well and now it’s time to do it again! My first round of work travel begins next week, which means I’ve officially hit that giant bump in the road that I WILL get over successfully.

Every time I do travel pre-planning I cover the same basic things:

  • My goals
  • The resources I have to use
  • What my plan is based in the first two bullets

So let’s get started!

My Goals

Obviously my main goal is to at least maintain my current weight or, in a perfect world, continue to lose weight. That being said, I prefer to be a little more specific:

  • Stay within the calorie deficit goals I’ve set for myself. This gets the #1 spot because it’s the one I have the most control over but it’s also the easiest to slip up on. 
  • Hit my daily step goal of 12,500 steps. I only anticipate difficulty with this for part of the week. Still, it needs to be mentioned so that it stays front-of-mind.
  • Continue strength training or HIIT workouts. This is lowest priority for me because I haven’t yet worked out a solid routine for this outside of traveling but, again, I’d like to make the effort.

My Resources

Obviously if I’m traveling I don’t have access to my normal gym, home appliances, etc. But that doesn’t mean there will be nothing to help me during my trip.

  • All of the hotels I’m staying in have mini-fridges and a continental breakfast, which means I can reduce the amount of time I have to eat out.
  • The first hotel I’m staying at has a small gym.
  • I’ve saved a few HIIT workouts and body-weight exercises on Pinterest, which should help fill in the lack of a gym.
  • I’ll be packing my running shoes so, if nothing else, I can always get a walk or run in.

My Plan

Now that I have all the details in front of me, it’s time to make my plan. It’s simple really, but there’s something about thinking through those details that makes it all seem easy.

  • Whatever I eat needs to be tracked before I order it. The disadvantage of traveling is that I’ll be eating out a lot, but I still have a choice in where/what I eat, as well as opportunity to think before I order. This one is all about mindfulness.
  • My travel will last all of next week and part of the following. A portion of that time I believe I’m guaranteed to get my steps in just because of what I’ll be doing those days. Therefore I’m going to focus on getting runs in the days that I’m NOT guaranteed steps. 
  • The days that I AM guaranteed steps, I’m going to focus my attention on strength training/HIIT workouts.
  • Whatever I do workout-wise HAS to be done in the morning. I know from experience with last year that I will not be able to do anything in the evenings. The other plus about this is I’ll have a more reliable calorie count to work off for the rest of the day.

And that’s it! It seems simple enough, and not that different from what I’m already doing, but it really helps to have a specific plan in place. I’ll let you know how it goes!