Day 30: Mixed Signals – #90DayChallenge

Slightly blurry picture taken by my 6 year old, but you get the idea...
Slightly blurry picture taken by my 6 year old, but you get the idea…

Well, I’m 1/3 of the way through the 90 Day Challenge at Lifetime Fitness with somewhat mixed results. I thought it would be a good time to check in with a progress update.

We’ll start with what’s going well:

– I have tracked all my meals nearly every day on the LoseIt app, (with a few missed dinners I was too tired to go back and enter later) and only skipped tracking one whole day so far

– I tried a BeachBody Shakeology sampler pack recommended by my friend Stacie, and replaced a few meals with it. I liked most of the flavors well enough (I mean, it’s not a mudslide or anything but it works), and it kept me full for a good stretch. I’ll definitely be ordering more, especially for the days when I don’t have time to make a healthy lunch or protein for breakfast.

– I’ve been to four of the gym’s “Try It Tuesday” classes: Nutrition, Kettlebell workout, Ab workout, and Dumbbells. Definitely adding some new moves to my routine. I liked kettlebell a lot (was sore for DAYS) but I found it much harder to do on my own than with the group — both to get the correct form (I strained my back a tiny bit trying one move I THOUGHT I remembered) and to push myself to keep going even when it hurt. Apparently other people watching is a big motivator for me. (Pause for snickering).

– As of yesterday, I am down 6 pounds in “gym weight,” 2% body fat, and 5.5 pounds on the home scale. To lose 25 pounds in 90 days, I should be down about 8.3 pounds right now. Not a huge gap, and 6 pounds down is 6 pounds down, right?

– Definitely noticing my (inner) stomach shrinking. There have been a few days when I felt so full after a splurge or hurried dinner that I was sure I’d doubled my allotted calories for the day, and when I logged everything in, it turned out I’d barely gone over, if at all. This seems like a good thing.

– My binge eating and snacking has been at almost zero this month. This may be the biggest deal. Between the ADHD meds and the public accountability, the urge to sneak into the DQ drive thru for a secret brownie batter blizzard so I can eat my feelings in private and not tell anyone has pretty much disappeared (though PMS week is still very, very hard). My eating has been much more intentional this month, alone or otherwise. Definitely a good thing.

– I am learning what works (and doesn’t). Tracking every day has really helped me notice when I submarine myself with a single meal or choice. In some ways, this is kind of depressing. I mean, half the reason I became Jewish was because I love bagels so much, but eating a bagel in the morning almost always signals going over my calories and feeling sluggish later in the day. Oy.

On that note, here’s what could be going better:

My stupid ankle. I’ve had this chronic ankle injury (which is starting to seem less like an injury and more like a structural problem) for nearly two years. When it flares up, almost every form of vigorous exercise becomes painful and discouraging. I think I’m doing everything I can with it, but it’s just a frustration.

Nutrition still needs work. I am making better choices, but there’s still room for improvement. I must make friends with portion control. (Ugh. Just the words make me tired). I also need to find some creative, easy ways to get more vegetables, especially at lunch. I’ve noticed that a protein-filled breakfast and a low-calorie lunch almost always lead to a successful day. But I have a strict 3-salad-a-week limit, and that’s pushing it.

[Aside] Salad, man. Is it just me? It’s like a workout you do with a fork. Salads are expensive to make, hard to keep fresh, and they take up so much space. Also you can’t eat them in the car or in the control room of a nuclear reactor. Totally impractical.

Weekends are killing me. If you’ve known me for more than ten minutes (or 1,000 words), you know that I really enjoy my beer and wine and social time out with Hubs and friends. Okay, it may not be possible for a therapist who comes from a family of alcoholics and addicts to say this in a healthy way, but: I really love beer. And wine. But lately it’s mostly beer. Not in a “swilling a six pack of Budweiser from the recliner” kind of way, but in a “let’s visit this amazing craft brewery and sample everything” kind of way. It turns out, your body doesn’t distinguish between the two.

While I’m not concerned that I’m abusing alcohol (though reading Sarah Hepola’s amazing book Blackout made me cringe in a couple of places – wow), beer is not good for the weight loss thing. I’m fortunate to have lots of close friends who live nearby and want to hang out with me for some reason, and there have been many fun things to celebrate in the past month. Birthdays, anniversaries, Yacht Rock coming to Piedmont Park, the simple fact of a Friday night. Many reasons to celebrate and relax, and maybe take your eye off the caloric ball for a a little while…

BUT. Not only are alcoholic drinks full of simple sugars and empty calories, but they also slow your metabolism and impair your judgment when it comes to what you put in your mouth after you’ve had a couple drinks. Triple threat. I think I’ve done well planning ahead for nights out: saving up calories, avoiding other carbs and sugars when I know I’ll be drinking, skipping the sweet drinks entirely and just generally drinking less. But there have been lots of nights out, and that may slowing my progress a bit.

Weekends are also a challenge because they are unstructured, and our family life tends to center around activities (Sunday cartoons in our pjs, movies, birthday parties) and corresponding meals (pancakes, popcorn, pizza, PB&J). I don’t take my ADHD meds on weekends for a number of reasons (unless I am Ass-in-Chair all day working on a deadline), so my appetite returns in force and the impulse control to resist temptation is back down to Usual-Manda levels. It’s kind of a perfect storm, and even when I try REALLY hard, a bad weekend day mitigates much of the progress I’ve made during the week.

SO, for the next 30 days of the challenge, here’s what I’ll be working on:

– Better meal planning and grocery shopping, to include weekends. This particular routine is still eluding me/us, so it needs some focus.

– Cutting back on alcohol and limiting carbs at breakfast, even on weekends.

– Adding at least one day a week of swimming to my workout routine, since I can get a good workout without stressing my ankle.

– Getting to at least one group class at the gym every week. I push myself so much harder when I’m not alone and there’s music and peer pressure. Just like high school.

How is your journey going? If you’re working on getting healthier like me, what are you learning about yourself and your habits? Your comments and commiseration are both so encouraging. Thanks!

MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

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