Monday, August 31, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Lose for Good (and my Monumental Treadmill Experience)

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Tonight was a sort of non-meeting. The topic was Weight Watchers' Lose for Good campaign. You can read about it on their website, but I don't think it's worth covering here, so I'll talk about something pretty exciting that happened today...

Today William (my awesome co-worker) and I went to the gym at lunch time. Normally I do 35 minutes of cardio on an eliptical/cross trainer type of machine. But today I wanted to challenge myself - I wanted to do something that I had never done and had been considering for some time...

You may not know this about me but I hate running. I have always hated running, since I was a child. And I've never run more than tiny bursts at a time - complaining about it before, during and after. Why have I always hated running so much?
  • I used to get terrible ankle pain from the impact (I rarely get this now, I think it went away as a result of the weight loss)
  • I get out of breath fast/easily
  • I hate feeling things moving/shaking on my body (This is one reason why I love tight clothes. I love to feel 'held in'.)
  • My thighs are, and have always been, huge - walking is hard enough!
But lately I have been thinking about attempting to run. In small doses, of course. I've been motivated by a few things -
  1. My punk rope instructor observed that I am a great sprinter in class. He was right - I do run fast, and well, in short bursts (but I need recovery time).
  2. Since visiting my allergist earlier this year and realizing the cause of my congestion and how to fix it, I can breathe better than ever. (dust covers for my bedding and a nasal rinse)
  3. I am still so impressed by my amazing friend Jordana, who I mentioned ran the NYC marathon last year. While I have no intention of ever doing that, I am motivated by her accomplishment.
  4. My WW receptionist mentioned a race she's doing soon. She told me they have to run 3 miles in 45 minutes. I realized that if I can walk a mile in 17 minutes (my normal pace), I only need to push myself a little faster to hit 15 minutes.
And today, quite unexpectedly, when we arrived at the gym, I told myself "Today's the day I run!" and I got on the treadmill for the first time.
Now, I have always avoided the treadmill for two reasons:
  1. I walk a lot every day already, very fast, which I do not consider exercise. So I couldn't see the point of walking indoors on a motorized track. I would rather spend my workout time doing something I can't do otherwise.
  2. Oh yeah, I HATE RUNNING.
But today I told myself - Just do it. Do intervals - walk fast for a few minutes, then run for a minute, back to fast walking, running, etc. Push yourself and don't stop. You can do it!
And I actually DID IT! In total, I ran at least 10 minutes in the 35. My walking pace was 3.6 - 3.8 (my normal walking speed) and I ran at 5.6 - 5.8 for a minute or so at a time. I felt amazing! Even as I was running, I couldn't believe I was doing it and and was even more surprised that I didn't feel like I was going to die.

That, single handedly, is the most running I have ever done in a single day and I'm so proud of myself. At the end of the 35 minutes, I did 2.5 miles, making my average speed 4.28. That gives me a nice baseline so I can monitor my progress next time. (The only weird thing was that when I got off the treadmill, I felt very strange - a little lightheaded and it felt like I was walking on air. Is that normal? William was concerned for me but I was fine after about 10 minutes. I'm just wondering what that was all about.)

So that was a great victory for me today, and I want to incorporate some interval walking/running as part of my regular routine. Maybe one day I'll even enjoy running. Who knows? Stranger things have happened...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Recipe: Pesto!

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If you thought you had to avoid pesto because you're watching calories or points, think again. This is a super simple and points friendly pesto you can make in 5 minutes!

I found this simple recipe on the Weight Watchers website years ago -

Pesto Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp Pine Nuts
  • 2 cups Basil leaves, fresh
  • 1/2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I left this out)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 medium Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
Here is a photo of my ingredients:

Ingredients

Place nuts in a small skillet and set pan over medium heat-

Put Pine Nuts on to cook

Cook until nuts are golden, shaking pan frequently to prevent burning, about 3 minutes -

cook until golden brown

Transfer nuts to a plate to cool.

In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, broth, cheese, oil, garlic and salt;

Add pine nuts

Process until smooth and thick. (I have no photos of the final product, but it looks like the photo in the recipe shot from the website.)

Yields about 1/4 cup per serving (2 points per serving)


I especially recommend using this recipe if you have extra basil on hand and want to use it before it goes bad, you can make and refrigerate the pesto for months. And it goes without say that it's fantastic as a topping for macaroni or a spread on the base of bruschetta too.

Mangia!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but plagiarism is just wrong!

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from dictionary.com:

pla⋅gia⋅rism
  1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work.
  2. something used and represented in this manner.

Recently, a blog reader of mine alerted me to the fact that another blogger stole a part of my blog from May 11th and posted it as her own on May 12th. Obviously, this did not sit well with me.

This is how her blog looked when I first became aware of it, and viewed it on 8/15 (you may need to click on the image and view the larger size on Flickr if you want to be able to view the words)-

plagiarism

I left her a comment -
Hi, I'm Sheryl, the author of a good chunk of what you used here in your Metabolism blog. You stole it from MY metabolism blog, posted here:
http://msbitchcakes.blogspot.com/2009/05/weekly-meeting-topic-metabolism.html

This is PLAGIARISM. If you don't know what that means, look it up. I am asking you to remove MY content from your blog immediately. Had you asked to link to my blog, I would have had no problem with that. But the fact that you TOOK MY WORDS and posted them as your own is wrong! Do not use my blog as a source of reference for your own blog and do not claim my words to be yours. This is not acceptable.
This all occurred the first day of my vacation, but I did not want to spend my glorious week off dealing with it, so I didn't return to her blog until today. She never allowed my comment to be posted, and never replied to me on my blog, but I see she did indeed remove the entire section she stole from me. This is how the same entry appears now, minus my section on metabolism.

I am thankful she removed my words, however, I have yet to go through the rest of her blog to see if she stole anything else from me. And I am aware of the fact that she also stole a recipe from the person who informed me of the plagiarism. Therefore, I thought it only fair to make you all aware of her blog too, she may have stolen from you as well.

As I told her, I have no problem with anyone linking to me and giving me credit when appropriate, but outright theft of words - mine or anyone else's - is obviously wrong. I sincerely hope this is the last time I need to deal with something like this.

This blog brings me great joy and satisfaction - sharing my own personal views, experiences and revelations; and hearing your own stories, or comments telling me that something I said resonated with you is so rewarding. But all of the words and thoughts expressed here are mine. No one has the right to pass them off as their own.

Thank you, anonymous reader, who noticed this and brought it to my attention. I would not have known about this if not for you. I hope your recipes have been removed as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Does it feel like you're climbing a mountain

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In tonight's meeting, the leader asked us if we ever feel like we're climbing up a mountain, struggling with our weight loss journey.

I had to think really hard about if I ever felt that it was that difficult. I think the only time it may have felt a little like that was in the beginning, when I was overwhelmed, and knew I had all the work in front of me. But maybe because I have been through this before, I also had realistic expectations - I know that some days or moments are difficult but I also know that those tough times don't last. The trick is to hang in there - ride through them, and get past them as quickly as possible, while learning what you can from the challenge so you can handle it better next time.

It's an analogy that occurs to me every time I ride my bike up one of the bridge ramps getting into or out of Manhattan - those are always the most difficult portions of my rides. As I'm doing those climbs, I acknowledge that it's challenging and I may be going slower than I'd like at that point, but I know that I'm not in a race, so I don't care how long it takes me. I just need to keep pedaling, one foot at a time, and I will get there when I get there. All that matters is that I do not stop, I do not give up. Because even though it's a little tough at that point, I know it's temporary. Not long after that the ground levels off and eventually I'll even be coasting down hill, enjoying the ride and thinking about how rewarding that portion is because I know I made it through the hard part to get there.

Those bike rides across the bridges are really a perfect metaphor for the whole weight loss journey, or most other things in life - There are hard parts, there are easy parts. You need to figure out the best way to deal with the harder parts and appreciate the easy parts. All that matters is that you do not quit. You must persevere, and learn along the way.

But if you do feel like your weight loss efforts are that daunting and difficult, like you take one step forward and two steps back, I encourage you to put some time and effort into analyzing what part of your journey feels that way - what, in particular, is so challenging to you? Think about it and make a list. Is it having time to prepare meals? Is it figuring out the points? Is it finding new foods you enjoy that are healthy? Is it staying within your points? Really think about when and why you feel that way. When you've figured out what is so challenging, it will be easier to come up with solutions for those things. Because if you have a vague sentiment of "this is so hard", there is nowhere to go with that. You need to figure out *what* you find difficult so you can brainstorm some solutions. And if those solutions don't work, try something else. But at least you've layed the ground work- you know where the problem is, you can go from there.

That's one reason I do recommend the meetings- they are great for asking for help. I can pretty much guarantee that whatever your issue is, someone else has had it, and likely has tips and ideas for helping you work past them.

It all comes back to acknowledging that this is a lifelong journey - not a quick or easy fix. It won't be perfect, it won't be predictable, and it won't be pleasant at times. All that matters is you remember the big picture - why you are doing it - and make a commitment to yourself that you will continue to do it, no matter how many times you fall down or how challenging it gets at times.

It's not a race. You don't need to finish first or be the fastest. You just need to be persistent and never give up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New Food Find: Nature's Path High Fiber Cereal

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First, I'll just mention that I was on vacation last week, which is why I haven't posted over here. If you follow my other blog, you saw and read about my birthday, biking and eating adventures...

When many of you noticed that Fiber One cereal was in my photo of food I got ride of, you asked about it. I removed Fiber One from my diet a few months ago was because of my artificial ingredient ban - Fiber One has aspartame, which is why I stopped consuming it.

I used to eat it daily with yogurt, but I also removed that from my diet because of my transition to veganism. I wanted to find a similar cereal that I could enjoy with soy milk and berries, so I headed to Whole Foods and checked out their cold cereal selection. There I found this great cereal by Nature's Path. The box is even similar-



Here is a comparison of the nutritional content and calorie information-


I absolutely love this new cereal! The ingredients are all natural and organic and it's hearty and delicious. A generous 2/3 of a cup is only 1 point (90 calories, 1 g fat, 13 g fiber). I've been enjoying it with berries and soy milk for 2 points total. A perfect snack!

As always, I'm not telling anyone what they should eat or not eat, I'm merely explaining why I no longer eat Fiber One since so many of you asked. I'm trying to be as conscious as possible about what I am putting into my body these days, and I think it's great that in this day and age we have so many food choices and the information available so we can make the best decisions possible. What you decide to consume is up to you, based on your own set of values and priorities. I'm just letting you know that there are more choices than you may realize.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Plateaus

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Tonight they discussed plateaus. I say 'they' because due to losing track of time while washing my bike, I arrived just as the meeting had ended.

I weighed in and chatted with the leader and the receptionist and the leader invited me to stay and jot down the notes that were still up on the easel. I'll just wing this blog based on the material and my own opinions (which is pretty much what I usually do anyway)-

Plateaus. What are they, why do they happen and how do we overcome them?

A plateau is when your weight loss kind of levels off for a period of time. If you were at your goal weight and hit a plateau, that would be good, you'd be maintaining your loss. But when you're still losing weight, this can be less desirable.

Now, it should be noted that there are different kinds of plateaus. First, there is what I would call a physical plateau. Sometimes during your weight loss journey, your weight can plateau even if you are doing what you had been doing to lose weight. This can be a little frustrating, but it's no reason to get upset or distracted. If this is the case, there are a few things that can be affecting it that you should consider:
  • Are you weighing and measuring? Your portions may have become a little larger over time. It's always a good idea to weigh and measure every so often.
  • Are you tracking? Maybe you're eating more points than you realize.
  • Have you changed your activity level? That can be enough to make a difference between seeing results and not seeing a change at the scale.
  • Metabolism changes- Your metabolism can change for a variety of reasons, as we discussed in a recent meeting. Any of those items can change the rate at which your body burns calories, which could slow your weight loss.
  • Weighing in under different conditions- Since WW recommends getting weighed once per week, it is recommended that it's the same day and same time of day. Don't forget that clothing affects your weight too, so if you want to be really consistent, you should wear similar weighted clothing.
Then there is the mental plateau, which is altogether different. This is the plateau that I am experiencing. I know why I'm not losing weight (not consistently, anyway); it's not that the program isn't working for me, it's that I'm not working the program as effectively as I can. What can cause this kind of plateau?
  • A relaxed attitude or what I would call "getting too comfortable" - You feel like you don't need to track, weigh or measure. As I mentioned above, portion sizes tend to increase over time and every so often you should make sure to get back in touch with real portion sizes.
  • Complacency/Contentment - You get to a spot where you feel pretty good about how you look or about doing the program and think you can take it easy (see getting too comfortable, above).
  • Feedback - People's comments can have an affect whether you admit to it or not. I recently saw someone who hadn't seen me in a while and he told me I was "too skinny". Now, I am not "skinny" by any means, and I most certainly am not "too skinny", but I used that comment to justify some extra food that day. Believe me, I know how ridiculous that is.
The thing about plateaus, whether mentally or physically induced, is to ride them out. Ideally, they do not last long, but sometimes they do - mine is going on two years now! The trick is to either figure out what is causing them and work on those issues or accept them until you're ready to work past them. But the last thing to do is think "this isn't working" and give up. Because what will that get you? It will likely put you back where you were when you started. And I know from experience how terrible that feels.

So despite not being at goal yet, I accept my plateau and where I am right now. I am pretty amazed with where I am (which is probably one contributor to the plateau - I already feel great), but I know I am not 'done'. I realize this is a chance for me to learn how to *keep* this weight off, so that when I do get to goal I have the new healthy habits in place that will keep me there.

Like I've mentioned before, I have accepted that this journey does not end, even at goal. This is for life. Literally - I am doing this for the rest of my life and I'm doing this *for* my life - my quality of life, my health, my actual existence. Because it's that important, I know I'm not giving up, no matter how long I'm at this plateau.

To read more about plateaus, check out this Weight Watchers article.

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thinking Beyond Taste

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Reading “Mindless Eating”, Fast Food Nation (which I did not review, but HIGHLY recommend), and The Shangri-La Diet earlier this year, I learned so much about the food industry and why we eat. These books made me think long and hard about what I was eating and why I was eating it. In fact, the things I became aware of after reading those books is what set the wheels in motion that resulted in my artificial food ban.

Prior to my artificial food ban, I would evaluate what foods I was going to consume based solely on taste and points - considering nutritional content later, if at all. I was easily manipulated by labels - I would see “Sugar Free” and think “Great!” Now, I see “Sugar Free” and immediately get suspicious “If the sugar isn’t in there, what chemical is in there attempting to duplicate the taste of sugar?” I now know it’s a gimic designed to confuse me into thinking it's good for me. The same goes for when I see the word “flavored” on a package. I would have previously snapped that up without a moment's thought, but now I know that "Maple Flavored”, for instance, means there is no pure maple in it. Instead, there is a chemical, made in New Jersey, in a lab, which is a close approximation to the *taste* of maple, but for zero calories. Thanks, but no thanks.

These books made me realize how much TASTE is a factor in why we eat. And the corporations know how important that taste is, so they engineer their foods to reach a certain "bliss point" (a term by former head of the FDA, David Kessler - whose book, The End of Overeating, I plan to read next). That bliss point is part of what addicts us to these unnatural "foods". When I stopped and thought about how I could relate so much of my binging and overeating to the *taste* of certain foods, I realized that these companies were using my taste buds against me. I felt horribly manipulated and pretty angry, actually. And that's when I decided I was no longer willing to consume these foods. Thus, my artificial food ban began. I was going to break my addiction to their artificial ingredients.

And that was when I realized that it was no longer about TASTE, it was about NUTRITION. I would rather spend more points on real food than less points on fake food.

This was the revelation that I wrote about in June, and after that epiphany, this is a photo of some of the food I pulled from my pantry with fake or chemical ingredients (some of it, like the pancake syrup, with the 'artifical maple flavor' had already been poured down the drain)-


It grosses me out just to see that stuff now. And honestly, I don't even think of those products as 'food' anymore, so they do not even tempt me. I don't care how good any of it tastes, because now I think beyond taste. Which is not to say that real food lacks in taste, it tastes wonderful, but I base my food choices on what my body needs rather than what my brain thinks I want. I use real food to fuel my body, not chemicals. And since my artificial food ban, I have not craved a single artificial food. I think it's safe to say I broke my addiction, and surprisingly quickly.

It's such common sense, I just can't believe it took me nearly 38 years to figure it out, but I'm glad I got to this point.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Punk Rope!

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I just got back from my weekly Punk Rope class which I haven't talked about in a while...
I've been attending Punk Rope at my YMCA for about 2.5 years now. I credit this class with not only increasing my cardio level, coordination and calf strength; but with introducing me to people who have become some of the best friends I've ever made in my life. I say it all the time, but I honestly could not imagine what my life would be like right now had I never joined the YMCA or started taking this class.

Having been so inactive my whole life, I was totally intimidated by the idea of taking a structured class when I first joined the Y. I knew I was terribly out of shape and pretty uncoordinated. (I didn't even have a memory of having jumped rope ever! Did I even know how?!) Looking back, I was mostly just afraid of looking ridiculous and embarrassing myself. The hardest part was definitely walking into that room for the first time, especially not knowing anyone in there. But when the class started, I quickly realized I had nothing to fear. Everyone is at their own level and probably not paying attention to anyone but themselves anyway. Besides, I tend to take myself way too seriously and this was a chance not to. Somewhere between the jumping rope and the wacky relays, I realized "Wow, this is FUN!". I returned the next week, and the next, and the rest - as they say - is history.

I can't say enough good things about Punk Rope - The class is as fun and as challenging as you are willing to make it; it never gets boring. That probably explains why some members have a cult like devotion to it and have been going such a long time.

Here's a little video that gives an idea of some of the exercises and drills, with an interview by Punk Rope founder and our class leader, Tim Haft-


Punk Rope on the Practical Guide to Healthier Living from Tim Haft on Vimeo.

Recently, one hot Sunday morning, Tim held a workshop in our beautiful McCarren Park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A friend and I attended. I had one goal in mind: To learn the one jump that continues to elude me- the "double" (this is where you turn the rope so fast that it passes under your feet twice during a single jump)

After some one-on-one coaching with Tim, I actually got it! I did my first double!! I couldn't even believe it. I didn't think I'd ever be able to do doubles! I was so proud. I practiced them as much as I could under the hot sun. And thanks to that lesson, when we do doubles in class now, I can actually do them (I hit my all time high tonight of 8 in a row - single single double - 8 times!)

Here I am with fellow punk roper, Marcus-

Marcus & Me

And here's another video, some of which was shot in my YMCA in Greenpoint (the scenes where the wall is red from the middle down). I'm even in it for a few seconds, in downward dog position. I'm heavier, with longer hair and no Smokey tattoo on my right forearm.



But these videos you truly must see to believe!! This is Joe Edney and Anna Holdaway - who I guarantee are the most amazing jump ropers you've ever seen in your life. They attend our class in Brooklyn on occasion and are surprisingly humble until they unleash this stuff at the end of class-





Want more Punk Rope? You can practice in your own home by picking up the DVD on their website (featuring Jim Katz!). Or if you want to bring the Punk Rope directly to you, you can do that too! No matter where you live, if you'd like your gym to host a Punk Rope class, get in touch with Tim. He'll be more than happy to try to arrange it! (tim@punkrope.com) Tell him Bitch Cakes sent ya (or Sheryl, he knows me either way)!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Managing Your Cravings

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Tonight we talked about managing our cravings. First of all, I think it’s important to remember the difference between urges and cravings. Urges usually occur when you see or smell something, but you weren’t thinking about the item until it was presented. Cravings, on the other hand, are very specific. They can be caused by a few things. I am sure there are plenty of triggers, but here are a handful that we discussed:

  • Monthly Hormonal Changes (Dark chocolate? Peanut butter? Every lady knows what I’m talking about…)
  • Emotions (Who doesn’t crave specific comfort foods when they are sad? I go to sweets and bready things.)
  • Situations (I still get super strong cravings for a cinnamon bun when I know I’m going to Ikea!)
  • Deficiencies (I’ve heard conflicting data on this, but I think it’s true. If you are low on, say, Vitamin C, it may present itself as an intense craving for something orange flavored. Of course you should go natural and have an actual orange.)
  • Seasons (two words: Pumpkin Pie!)

I used to have terrible cravings – mostly for the chemical non-food sugary candy that I was addicted to. They were severe and from seemingly out of nowhere – I would feel like I couldn’t do anything until I ate whatever the craving was (usually Lemonheads or other sour/chewy candy). It wasn’t until we discussed this topic tonight that I realized I have not had any cravings in months! That’s the good news… The bad news is that I have had a lot of urges, and have given into them on many occasions.

I’ve actually been eating way too much lately. I have been giving into many of my urges and impulses. Sure, all the food has been healthy/vegan/organic, but it’s not the food that is an issue, it’s the BEHAVIOR that I need to work on. I actually decided that for now, I need to ban peanut butter and cereal from my apartment and my office. Those are the two foods I’m indulging in way too often. (Side note: It baffled me when people would ask me “How did you get so fat if you were vegetarian?” – seriously, people have asked me that – It’s because ALL food has calories, even 'healthy' food. Too many calories equal excess weight. Duh!)

So back to cravings – how can we manage cravings? My personal take on it is this:

First, try to wait it out. If, after 10 or more minutes, you can’t stop thinking about the specific food, then have it. But control the portion and count for it. If you can, log the points before you consume it – I know that for me, this somehow helps me to stop when I am supposed to. For specific cravings, I do not recommend substituting a similar item because it will rarely satisfy the craving and you will end up eating the substitution(s) and more than likely, the real thing too. Just cut to the chase and have the item you are craving.

As for my urges – which were not discussed tonight, but I clearly need to address - I’m going to do this-

First, I will put my remaining peanut butter and cereal far out of reach and sight. If an urge hits, I will try talking myself out if it with the following: Remind myself that it’s not the last time I will be in contact with whatever food I am about to consume. Remind myself that I know what it tastes like and don’t need to taste it again. Remind myself that I will feel better if I do not eat it. Remind myself that I don’t want to be over 200 pounds again. Remind myself that every time I give in makes it easier to give in the next time and that I need to break the cycle, starting now.

On that note, before I wish you a super fantastic week, I want to shamelessly ask you to vote for my friend, Billy's dog in an online “Cutest Dog” competition. You don’t have to register or anything, just click this link, and below the photo of the sweet little Beagle, click “Vote”. Zeus will thank you. ☺

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Stair Master, Revisited (aka Just do it!)

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I am pleased to report that I've been doing the stairs at work at least once a week (for those of you not familiar, I walk up and down 8 flights of stairs 5 times in the morning, and sometimes in the afternoon too). I keep track of my times and last week was my best yet - I completed the 40 flights in just under 13 minutes. When I do this exercise, a lot goes through my head, and I wanted to share it.

First, since I have a reminder set up in my email, when it first pops up, I hit snooze. I think "Let me just finish this email" or whatever else I am working on. A few minutes later, the reminder pops up again and again, I hit snooze. "I'll just do xyz first..." Eventually - and I think this is a great lesson for procrastination in any realm - I realize that if I had started when the first reminder chimed in, I would have been done by now. After all, it takes only 13-14 minutes to do the entire 40 flights.

At that point I pick myself up from my desk and remind myself of that simple and motivational Nike motto: JUST DO IT.

I get up, change into my workout clothes, attach my iPod shuffle and grab my phone (for the stopwatch feature). At the start, this is what I look like:

Before

I enter the stairwell and wait until the precise moment that the music is 'just right' and then I press 'start' on the stopwatch as I step foot on that first step. I tell myself there's no looking back. I'm on my way!

The first climb to the roof is only 3 flights. Even though I have just begun and have the most energy, it's still a little rough. I am winded by the time I get up to the roof. But the great part is that once I get up there, I have 8 flights down to catch my breath and psych myself up for the return trip up.

The second I hit the basement floor, I immediately turn around and start walking up again. On the way up, I use my arms for momentum and a bit of an upper body workout. And usually on that climb - a full 8 full flights - I have a moment where I think "There is no way I can do this. Am I crazy?" But that's when the positive self talk kicks in - I tell myself I CAN do this, I HAVE done this, and I WILL do this. I focus on my breathing and 'power arms' and remind myself that the only thing holding me back is me. And I will not hold myself back! I tell myself "Just do it. All you have is today and now!"

Although I have been doing this for a while now, it is still challenging. Yes, it is easier than it was when I first did it, but it still winds me and challenges me every time. But instead of focusing on the "When will this be over? This is so hard!" or having negative thoughts, I think to myself "This is only a few minutes in my day and when it's done I am going to feel amazing for completing it! Look how far I have come! I am awesome!!" And at some point, I go into auto-pilot mode. My mind wanders to things I want to blog and things I have to do. I actually *forget* that I'm walking up 122 stairs!

Before I know it, I am done - As I take that very last step, I press 'stop' on the stopwatch to record my time. I go back to the office, drenched in sweat and breathing heavily, but I feel super proud of my mid-day accomplishment. When I return, I look like this:

After

A pretty sweaty mess indeed. But that doesn't matter, I feel fantastic!

Somehow, my adorable co-worker William recently decided to do the stairs with me! I was shocked! But I was glad to bring him along. Not only does he keep time with me, walking right behind me; but he likes calling out the flights/percentages (which is something I enjoy doing in my head when I do it alone) and he's super positive and supportive telling me "You can do it!" (think Rob Schneider in Waterboy). In fact, he's so gung ho on the stairs now that he made me/us do 6 climbs - 48 flights! And he wants us to do 7 next week! I honestly didn't think he had it in him, but I appreciate the additional challenge he brings. Not only that, but he makes it fun.

So what began as a whim one day ("Can I walk up and down the stairs for 15 minutes?") has turned into a real workout for me. And I've inspired my co-worker too! I get the benefit of a heart healthy workout and the added reward of knowing I've influenced someone else positiviely. That's a lot to feel good about!


Monday, August 03, 2009

Weekly Meeting Topic: Are You in a Rut?

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Tonight we talked about being in a rut. It’s something that happens to everyone - in ways other than just weight management. The rut can be stopped at any time. But you need to first identify it and dealing with it.

Signs you are in a rut are pretty obvious - you eat the same foods all the time, visit the same restaurants ordering the same menu items, do the same workouts, etc… This can lead to a loss in motivation, a loss in results and a loss in interest in the plan. But the great thing is that if you are bored with any part of the plan, you have the ability to change it at any time!


Part 1: Identify your rut.
I recently realized that I am guilty of being in a rut myself. I am by no means bored with my foods, but I do eat a lot of the same foods and meals, especially on weekdays. I have a pretty solid routine that rarely changes. Occasionally I modify the beans or vegetables in my morning burrito, or slightly vary the ingredients in my lunch time salad. But for the most part, those meals are the same from day to day.

I know we are all creatures of habit, and habits are one of the things we need to identify and change as part of this journey of self discovery and health. I tend to be especially stubborn to change, even though history has taught me that when I let go of my fear of the change, accept it and embrace it, I’m often glad I did. But it’s a matter of getting to that point.

I have also noticed that the way I’ve been spending my points isn’t working well for me anymore. I get really hungry (true hunger) in the middle of the day, after lunch. So that tells me that I am not spending enough points on lunch. What ends up happening is I snack on stuff – healthy stuff - but still, too much of it. And then by the time I get home I barely eat dinner. Sometimes I don’t eat dinner at all. I realize that a reevaluation of how much I am eating and what I am eating is in order.

Conclusion:
I’m going to make the commitment to change how I have been eating.

Part 2: Plan
To meet this goal, I need to figure out new ways to not only vary my meals a little but to also re-balance my points better throughout the day. I will likely keep my breakfast burrito and lunch salad, but add sides or additional ingredients to bulk them up. The goal is for them to keep me satisfied throughout the day. I should also come up with an alternate breakfast and alternate lunch. This will require some thought and I’ll be looking for ideas and inspiration in the Vegan cookbook my friend gave me…

Part 3: Prepare
Once I decide what my new meals will be, I will make sure I have the ingredients and any other tools necessary to make them. This involves a little shopping, but I happen to love shopping, so I’m ok with this step. ☺

Part 4: Implement
Once I have everything in place – I know what meals I plan to make, I have the necessary ingredients - I will jump right in and start making and enjoying my new meals.

Part 5: Evaluation
As I incorporate these new meals and modify how I spread out the points, I’ll keep an eye on my hunger levels and see if it addresses my issues. If not, I will continue to tweak and modify my new plan.

So that’s my plan. That’s what I will be working on in the coming weeks.

Think about your own situation – are you bored or do you eat/do the same things all the time? Sometimes it helps to shake things up a bit. If you find yourself bored, losing motivation or not seeing the results you want to, it might be worth considering a change in your routine too.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Photos: Summer Biking in NYC

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I haven't taken any super long bike rides lately. I've mostly been riding for errands or small meet ups, averaging 15 miles per trip. But I have been taking a lot of photos and I wanted share some of them. Here you go...

The Brooklyn Bridge (Manhattan side)

Brooklyn Bridge (Manhattan side)

On Grand St, in Manhattan

On Grand St in Manhattan

Me, in Times Square

me, in Times Square. I look so short here.

The amazing sunset behind the Manhattan skyline, view from the Pulaski Bridge (connecting North Brooklyn to Queens)


On the Williamsburg Bridge

Upside Down Slut

A beautiful day for biking over the Williamsburg Bridge

Riding up the ramp from Manhattan towards Brooklyn

The art deco masterpiece, the New Yorker Hotel (with the Empire State Building on the right)


The beautiful 59th Street Bridge (in Queens)


The Empire State Building at sunset (view from the Pulaski Bridge)

the Empire State Building @ dusk

One of the most unforgettable sights I've ever seen in my life- Mammatus clouds. I've had dreams about these clouds, this was a remarkable experience.


Two J Trains pass each other on the Williamsburg Bridge


My reflection in a movie van parked on West St in Greenpoint-

My reflection in one of the production trucks for "The Bounty"

View of the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO (Brooklyn) Look closely, you can see the Empire State Building between the base of the columns.

I love this one

View of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge


Riding over the Brooklyn Bridge



One of the best shots I ever got in my life (at Madison Park in Manhattan)

I must admit, I'm pretty impressed with myself here

And I like to get photos of my bike at various locations and with various landmarks.

The Wall Street Bull:

Bull and Bike

In South Ferry, Manhattan (my bike hasn't been here since the 5 Boro Bike Tour)

I love this striped wall they got going on down @ South Ferry

In front of Brooklyn Brewery (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)

Parked in front of Brooklyn Brewery

At the base of the Manhattan Bridge (Manhattan side)

my bike's first trip over the Manhattan Bridge

In Times Square

My bike on Broadway in Times Square

In front of the Flat Iron Building in Manhattan

My bike takes in the magnificent view of the Flat Iron Buidling

In front of my favorite building of all time, the Chrysler Building

My bike's first visit to the Chrysler Building!

I even brought my bike to Grand Central so it could "see" where I commute every day-

My bike visited Grand Central Terminal!

And I just took this video on Friday night - I was riding over the Williamsburg Bridge on my way into Manhattan to look for eyelashes at Duane Reade (for a future blog). I was lucky enough to catch the sun as it was setting. I think this is super cool to watch. It's the last 59 seconds on the bridge, until I get to Delancey Street in Manhattan.



The bike adventures of the summer are far from over, but I really wanted to share some of my favorite photos so far. I hope you enjoyed!

(The entire set of 2009 Biking photos can be seen here, and it's updated several times a week)