Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chincoteague Pony Swim Week: What It's All About

Towels draped over the balcony, drying in the hot sun

Sand.  Everywhere.

The roar of waves rushing past your ears, the salt up your nose, then the hard crash of your board against the sand.  You stand up and head back into the surf because you can't wait to do it again

Knowing the two most important items to pack are sunscreen and big repellant (aka Chincoteague cologne) and still going home tanned and covered in mosquito bites.

Imagining what it would be like to own that little foal in the pen whose tiny face and distinctive spots just capture your heart.

The hours spent hanging out on the boat with hundreds of other boats as you wait for the ponies to swim.  It's the best party of the year.

Seeing the red flare from the Coast Guard boat go off knowing the moment for the ponies has come.

The indescribable feeling you have when you are the one making the winning bid on that special pony.

The distinctive smell of hot oil used to fry oyster and clam fitters that emanates nightly from the carnival grounds.

On an island that is six miles long and a mile wide, it can still be sunny on one side and pouring rain On the other. 

Captain Barry.  Need I say more?

Waiting on the long line at the Island Creamery.  It's always worth it.

Walking down Main Street and Maddox Boulevard in the evening.  Every gallery has something you want.  You wish for a bigger house to put it all.

Riding a descendant of Misty at the Pony Centre.

Sunsets that look as if they were Photoshopped.

The evening migration of the local flock of ducks, crossing Main Street and swimming across then channel to Marsh Island.

The never ending display of wildlife everywhere you look.  

Locals who know you just a day and call you friend.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Week 27 - Lost a Little Momentum. Gearing Up for the Big Challenge

So I gained a little weight this week.  I had really hoped after I dropped down to my lowest weight yet that I would keep going. That was not to be.  I gained 1.6 pounds and my measurements stayed the same. 

I am learning my lessons just how much those big indulgences count.  You think that just once can't hurt.  It does. 

Sunday evening I had a big family dinner at Virgil's Barbecue (we also saw Matilda - a show I highly recommend).  I let myself go hog wild (pun intended I think) there.  I ordered a plate of hush puppies for the table.  I love hush puppies and rarely ever see them on menus around here, so I ordered them against my better judgment.  Hush puppies don't need butter.  Unfortunately, once you try Virgil's maple butter, the word "need" becomes sort of irrelevant.  I really overate that night and I'm not sure my body quite recovered from the experience.  It certainly didn't recover quickly. 

To counteract that, I did myself proud later in the week.  Tuesday was my birthday.  For months I have been telling myself that on my birthday I would have whatever I wanted for lunch.  There is a crazy amount of temptation in the neighborhood surrounding my office, from places that specialize in grilled cheese to Chinese dumpling shops.  When birthday lunch time rolled around, I found myself asking, "Do I really want to keep my momentum going?  Do I really need a fattening lunch to celebrate my birthday?  Will it make the day that much better?  Aren't Kevin and I going out to dinner tonightDon't you have a swimsuit vacation next week?"  I had a salad and saved the indulgence for dinner.  At dinner when the bread basket was placed on the table, I told myself that I could ride out my hunger and save my appetite for the best part of the meal.  Even though the restaurant where we had dinner was not one of those places that serves giant portions, I ate very slowly and mindfully and felt perfectly satisfied eating only half of my dinner and wrapping up the rest. 

So this week I lose a point, gain a point, and gain a pound. 

Next week comes the real challenge.

I'm off to Chincoteague tomorrow.  That means eating out for every meal at restaurants not known for nutritious, low-cal choices.  Chincoteague is known for all kinds of seafood, which would fit well in a healthful eating plan.  Unfortunately I don't like seafood.

All I can do is make sure I do all of my workouts and follow as many habits as possible.  The gym at my hotel is pretty lame, but I'm taking my bands and I will come up with a hardcore strength workout using those.  I will also have plenty of ocean swimming and boogie boarding, biking, paddle-boarding, and riding to keep me moving. 

Habits are going to be a little tougher.  Some will be more difficult than others given the food choices available in Chincoteague.  Let's take a look at them all and see which ones I can stick to.

1.  Take a fish oil and probiotic daily - Easy as long as I remember to pack them.

2.  Eat slowly - I can do that one anywhere.  I am really improving with this habit.

3.  Stop eating when 80% full -  This one is easier said than done.  If something is really tasty, it can be hard to stop.  Also, I hate wasting food and doggie bags are impractical if you're staying in a hotel.  I have to be willing to leave something on my plate for week.  Still this is also a habit I can do anywhere.

4.  Eat lean protein at every meal - Hmmmm....I can't guarantee the proteins available will always be lean.

5.  Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables each day - Chincoteague isn't the most vegetable-friendly place when you're always eating out.  I am allowed to swap out one serving for fruit though.  That will make breakfast much easier.

6.  Make "smart" carb choices - LE defines smart carbs as foods like vegetables, fruits, and intact grains.  Intact grains may be hard to come by.  I suspect I may be stuck with sandwiches at lunch as well.  I may have to put this habit on hold most days.

7.  Plan LE-friendly meals - I can always look at menus ahead of time and decide what to order before I go out.  I have a pretty good idea of what most places in town serve.  I can't plan my meals to the letter, but I can map out some workable strategies.

8. Write everything down, or at least be conscious of what you eat - I hate writing all of my foods down, but it will be simple and wise to record meals this week.  That way I can't complain that I "behaved" myself all week and gained 5 pounds.  I'll be a bit more accountable.

9.  Get 7 hours of sleep every night -  Pony Swim week?  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

10.  Drink only non-caloric beverages - This should be easy, but I know it often won't be.  I drink just water with breakfast and lunch on a daily basis.  When I eat at home I drink water or club soda with dinner.  When I'm out I do tend to drink wine or cocktails.  I will be eating out nightly.  I will really have to challenge myself to see how many nights I can just drink water. 

11.  Take a BCAA after every workout (also do some recovery activities like foam rolling or active recovery exercise) - Just like Habit #1, as long as I remember to pack it, I can take it.  I'm also planning to pack a foam roller.  I also have tons of active recovery activities planned.

12.  Eat only whole foods - Yikes!  See habits 4, 5, 6, and 10.  This one will really be hard. 

13.  Eat protein and vegetables at every meal - When I'm home I typically do just that.  Again, see habits 4 and 5.  It will be harder in Chincoteague.  At least I can swap out fruit at one meal, so I don't have to panic at breakfast.  My hotel serves a free breakfast and there are no veggies in sight.  They do have eggs and fruit though.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Random Thoughts for the Week

I am trying to understand the people, particularly the regressives, who are happy to the level of rejoicing over the Zimmerman verdict.  The reason seems to be that they feel the justice system did its job and that the courts worked the way they were supposed to work.  The jury looked at the evidence and found it was too weak for conviction (even though killing an unarmed person with a gun should be a manslaughter charge regardless of who started it).  If someone honestly feels that way, that it's really only about the fairness of the jury having insufficient evidence, then I want to know if you felt the same way about OJ Simpson, or Casey Anthony.  I certainly hope so because I would hate to think the rejoicing comes from the fact that this trial isn't just a confirmation of all of your prejudices and expectations about the behavior of "The Other."

How to choose a personal trainer:  Do it by process of elimination.  If you see a trainer putting his or her clients on a smith machine, a pec deck, a butt blaster, the sex machines, shoulder press machine, or a leg press, cross that trainer off your list. That goes double if you see the trainer use those machines herself.  The right trainer will help you carry those machines out of the gym and get the bonfire going.

How did I get so covered in mosquito bites this week?  It seems they are creeping under my skirt while I wait for the train in the morning.  The back of my left thigh looks like it just spent a month at summer camp.  I should not have to deal with this sort of thing in downtown Mamaroneck.  I am going to have enough to deal with killer skeeter populations in Chincoteague next week.  I think that's more than enough to deal with!

I realized recently that we need a sequel to Are You There God? It's Me Margaret.  You know what I would call it?  Margaret Goes to Summer School.  There was on thing I never got about that book.  She was supposed to spend the school year doing an independent study on any topic of her choosing.  She chose her subject (religion) and got so distressed about it that she never actually completed any research.  At the end of the year she just hands Mr. Miles J a lame apologetic letter. Did she really get away with that?  Really?  Hey Margaret, if the topic upset you that much, I can suggest a really good alternative - choose another topic.  I hope that camp she went to at the end of the novel was some kind of educational camp where she could work on some kind of academic project.  You wouldn't want her to be left behind the other PTS girls at school.

In a Facebook discussion on a religiously (or really non-religiously) oriented page someone recently posted a meme saying that to know Islam is to know peace.  Of course the peacefulness of Islam is hotly contested in our society.  One could also make similar arguments against Christianity, Judaism, and just about any other major religion on this planet.  Large groups of religious people like to commit acts of violence on other large groups of religious people.  Despite this, every religion on this planet will also say they believe in peace and that peace is a higher priority over war.  I suppose for many people religion is peace.  People do take inner peace from their religion.  It seems for the individual, religion X (whatever one you practice) is a religion of peace.  It can easily stop being a religion of peace in large groups.

I'm really getting tired of the "Obama is listening in on your phone calls" meme.  One would think the PATRIOT Act was enacted last week instead of over 10 years ago during the Bush administration (where are the memes showing Cheney listening in on our calls?).  Stop pretending to be so enraged about it now because you realized all of these years later that it's still happening under this administration.  With the exception of those Republicans who thought it was a great idea when Bush was President, no one likes the PATRIOT Act.  However, I can guarantee you, the president is not listening in on your personal calls to you boyfriend.  Don't flatter yourself that you're that important.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Week 26 - Refreshed & Re-Energized

It has been a good week!

After our week's break I really felt that if I wanted to continue to see any real differences in my body, I would have to start taking the program more seriously.  Our habits for these two weeks have been a tremendous help.  The habit is simply, "A little more, a little better."  We are supposed to pick one thing we can do just a bit better each day."

I took those instructions very seriously.  I decided to pick three habits each day that I would follow to the letter.  I have 13 habits to choose from.  Some are easier than others.  There were days when I chose my habits at random.  There were days when I decided to challenge myself more.  There are going to be days in the coming week where I will be facing events that are going to be very food-driven.  Tonight I am going to a friend's cookout.  Tomorrow I'm going out to dinner with my family.  Tuesday is my birthday.  Those are not days when I'm likely to choose habits like drinking only calorie-free beverages or eating only whole foods.  I can eat slowly and eat to 80% full in any given eating situation though.  On the days where I don't have any occasions, I really want to focus on the stretch goals.

I leave for Chincoteague on the 21st.  I intend to carry this over to my vacation.  I don't know what my official habit will be after next week, but I know I want to make sure that I have three habits in place every day that I'm away.  Chincoteague is not a place where I eat well, but I can minimize the damage.  Besides, there is no excuse to not be active in Chincoteague.  I spend my week ocean swimming and boogie boarding, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and horseback riding.  Even if it rains (and it had better not!) I am taking my bands with me and I intend to do my weight workouts as scheduled.  The hotel has a pool too.

What's the best accomplishment of this week?  Well, the scale is not the most important measure of progress, but this time I'm happy to say it's on the scale.  Since April I have been losing and regaining the same two or three pounds.  This morning I stepped on the scale and saw my first downward scale movement in a very long time.

My coach gave the team a clean slate this week.  The second half of the program is almost like a do-over.  It is really helping me.  I do feel a fresh start and the same sense of optimism I felt when I started this program. In the past when I have done programs I usually burn out after six months, particularly after a weight plateau. Now I really believe the next 6 months will be awesome.  This week I have really felt a good sense of intuition when it comes to what I should be eating and how much.  I find myself not wanting to eat too much.  I realize I don't want dessert.  I can drink water when I go out to dinner and simply enjoy the food on my plate.  I am becoming a new person.

I really did hope to be a little smaller and lighter by this time.  I was hoping to be a good 5-7 pounds lighter by the time vacation rolls around.  I comfort myself that I am a bit smaller and a bit tighter, and a bit less jiggly.

Onward and downward!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Week 25 - What Did I Do with a Week Off?

This week was considered the "Midterm Exam".  We had no habits and no set workouts.  It was a week for the team to be on our own and see if we could sustain our past habits without having something specific to record every day.  They even declared the Fourth of July to be "Eat Whatever You Want Day". 

I didn't do too well.  I gained two pounds.  Tip of the Day: Don't eat at an Indian restaurant the night before a weigh in.  I can't just blame the Indian food though.  I definitely ate a few too many snacks that would not be considered "smart carbs" or "whole foods".  In fact I even had a couple lunches that were a bit off the good food path.

I almost think I got a bit overconfident.  Last week I was sad that halfway through the year I had lost only 10.2 pounds.  Then I realized something.  Pounds are only part of the equation.  I have lost 3" off my waist, 3" off my waist, and almost 3" off my chest.  I am down to 22% bodyfat.  I don't think I have ever been below 24% in my adult life.  If I keep going at this exact same pace, I will have my dream bodyfat level (I would like to eventually be below 20%) and could potentially lost another 3" off my problem areas.  I have also been taking a good look at my photos from Week 1 and my most recent photos.  There is a definite difference.  My waist is clearly smaller and the fatback rolls are not nearly as numerous and obvious.  I'm leaner and tighter.  

The only problem is that Riddle feels my weight the same way whether it's made up of fat or muscle. 

So next week I have to start doing my workout and habits again.  According to a recent email from my coach, for the next two weeks we have to "Do a little bit better."  How can we improve upon what we are already doing?  My plan is to pick two habits each day and do them the best that I can.  The workouts for the past 6 weeks were really tough.  I'm kind of dreading what they will look like in this phase.  My vacation will come up right smack dab in the middle of it.  That is going to throw a wrench in the works of anything I do!

Speaking of vacation, how much will I hate the beach photos this year?  Kevin has already been asking me if I plan to wear a bikini in Chincoteague this summer.  I told him no.  We'll stick to the one-piece and the tankini for now.  I'm still aiming for a bikini in Costa Rica though.  That should placate him.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Random Thoughts for the Week

A very happy Independence Day to everyone!  Some of my thoughts are related to the holiday.

I don't have a problem with patriotism.  Patriotism is important.  I do have a problem with jingoism.  If you don't know the difference, then I have a problem with you.

I don't care if you are outraged.  I still oppose the forced recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools (or anywhere).  Why?  Because in a free society, allegiance should be assumed and not demanded.

Last night I was doing the laundry and one of my neighbors had left his or her stuff in the dryer and never came back to claim it.  Since I needed to use the dryer, I removed it myself.  Inside the dyer were at least 20 small white towels.  As I reached into the dryer to empty it, I kept pulling out white towel after white towel.  The towels were piled up so high they could barely fit inside the temporary holding basket they keep in the laundry room for occasions like this.  Did this person just go to a going out of business sale for a cheap hotel?  What was with all of those towels?  I wondered if anyone was keeping count of them because I was thinking it might be useful to have a couple of them...

If the revolution had been fought with TV shows, we would still be a colony.  The US would never have Father Ted

What is it about breakfast that we feel we can only eat certain foods?  For example, why are people so weirded out about chocolate at breakfast time?  They will eat all kinds of sugary doughnuts and muffins, drown sweet pancakes and waffles in syrup and pie-filling-like fruit toppings, and eat bowlfuls of sugary cereals.  Yet somehow chocolate is wrong?  No chocolate muffins or chocolate doughnuts?  No Nutella-stuffed French toast?  No pain au chocolat?  What about a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles?  Am omelet stuffed with cheese and ham is fine, but you can't stomach a cup of hot chocolate in the morning?  What is up with that?  Foods like pain au chocolat and Nutella spread on bread are not uncommon in Europe.  It seems Americans are the ones who have problems with morning chocolate.  I guess I'm just less patriotic than I thought I was.

It's not just chocolate though.  Why is it people can't eat dinner for breakfast?  People will eat breakfast for dinner and act like it's the most exciting meal in the world (which I don't get because I find traditional heavy, starchy, breakfast foods to be overrated).  "I just can't stomach that kind of food in the morning."  Why not?  At breakfast we have just gone anywhere from 8-12 hours without food.  We should be craving a nice filling dinner in the morning.  Throughout the world many cultures eat strong and savory breakfasts to help jump start the day.  I suppose my desire to branch outside the traditional also makes me rather un-American.  Oh well. 

I don't have much interest in seeing the Lone Ranger movie, but even if I were interested, I think I would avoid it.   Have you seen those movie posters?  I don't know if Johnny Depp looks like that throughout the entire movie, but if he does, I am not sure I can stomach it.  He looks really scary in that makeup.  I'm not sure I could handle sitting through that movie for two hours and not have nightmares that night.  If Native Americans had all worn weird makeup and dead crows on their heads right from the start, I think they would have scared off the Europeans and they would now all be thriving in their own land. Fortunately (or rather unfortunately) for them, they have better taste than that.