Goals, Habits, Health, Health(ier) Habits, self-improvement, Weight Loss

Health(ier) Habits, Vol. III

 

It’s hard to believe that almost two weeks have passed since my last installment of this series, but since I have a decent amount to report, I guess it makes sense.

A recap:

Last post (Vol. II), I set some specific goals for these last two weeks–

  • start tracking what I eat again (mostly for nutrients, not for calories)
  • see if I can start averaging 10,000 steps a day again (without being on a training schedule for an upcoming race)
  • go to bed before 11 at least half of the nights each week

Here’s how I did:

Nutrition//

Tracking what I eat has usually always been a fail-safe way for me to lose weight before, but lately, it hasn’t been doing that for me. Even though I’m tracking more for nutrients these last two weeks than for calories, it’s still extremely frustrating that though I haven’t gone over my calorie goal once (and some days, when I exercise heavily, I’ll be under it by 500-700 calories), the scale (and my overall measurements) has basically showed no difference. Right now, I have my calorie count set at 1750, which, if I didn’t do any other exercise outside of my usual day-to-day activities, I should supposedly lose half a pound a week on. Most days, I have a calorie deficit that’s more in the range of me losing one or even two pounds a week (according to My Fitness Pal, anyway), yet I’m still not seeing a difference in weight.

This is precisely the reason I finally gave up my goal last year of trying to reach 135 pounds, which was my mid-range pre-pregnancy weight—it just seemed like no matter what I did (within reason, and that I could sustain for a long time), I just saw no difference.

My frustrations with the scale aside, I noticed right away in the first week of tracking or so that I tended to almost never hit my fiber goal and that I only hit my protein goal about half of the time, so this last week, I’ve tried switching things up in what I’ve eaten so that I can hit those numbers more regularly. I haven’t noticed a huge difference either way in how I’ve felt (I’ve never been a huge snacker and just tend to eat 3 square meals and that’s basically it), but since I know it’s good for me, I’ll try to keep it up.

Even though (like I said), I haven’t worried as much about the calorie count this time, I have managed to stay underneath my calorie goal every day because that’s just generally how I eat (esp. when I’m watching sugar, like I’ve been trying to do lately). My breakfast is usually around 300-400 calories, my lunch and snacks (if any) around 500-600, and my dinners around 600-700. I’ve tried lately to actually eat real lunches the past two weeks too, rather than just the usual cheese-crackers-piece-of-fruit thing I had going on before, mostly to help me with my fiber count.

I mentioned in my last post what my breakfasts and lunches almost always consist of, but I am trying to track my dinners here, so here’s what I had the past two weeks:

Monday: Quick 20-min. Tacos

Tuesday: Chicken and Biscuits

Wednesday: Avocado ‘n Cheese Tortillas

Thursday: Pepperoni Pan Pizza

Friday: Sam’s Club dinner out (hot dog)

Saturday: Arctic Circle — 1.5 cheeseburgers; one small thing of fries; 1/3 large milkshake (this is unusual, considering we’d gone out the night before–we typically do eat fast food about once every month or two (and go out just once a week, if we’re going to go out at all), but for this particular night, it was unplanned and a bit desperate, as I had done two photo shoots that day and was starving by the time I was driving home from the last one)

Sunday: (homemade) orange chicken (not fried or breaded) with broccoli and rice

Monday: hamburger casserole

Tuesday: roasted chicken dipped in garlic butter and bread crumbs w/ roasted sweet potatoes, green beans

Wednesday: creamy white chicken chili in a bread bowl (though I didn’t eat the whole bread bowl; I also cut out 2/3 of the sour cream in the recipe)

Thursday: tater tot casserole

Friday: (projected dinner) birthday date dinner out—I think we’re doing Chinese πŸ™‚

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how I’ve been eating lately; it seems like I’m striking a good balance of eating wholesome foods while not depriving myself. (I just wish that there was some visible payoff from it all that I could see!)

As I mentioned earlier, though, I do seem to struggle a bit to regularly eat enough fiber and protein, so my goal for the next two weeks is to work on hitting my recommended fiber amount on most days (let’s go with at least 5 out of 7), since that’s the one I seem to struggle the most with.

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Exercise//

Once again, I feel like the past two weeks showed me that maybe my weight loss plateau really is as much of a bugger as I thought it was—before, just the act of counting calories and staying under my goal number would have been more than enough to regularly have me see progress, but the last two weeks, I’ve stayed under my calorie range every single day AND upped my exercise, and I still haven’t seen much (if any) progress.

Let’s be honest–if it weren’t for the fact that I’m doing this blog series to keep myself accountable, I would have just gone back to not caring or tracking or setting goals because I haven’t seen progress (or even felt much different) for a month now. That’s exactly what happened before, too. (Mind, I still keep relatively healthy habits anyway because that’s just how I am, but I am doing this series to try and fit into my clothes a bit better, so whether it’s through weight loss or inches lost, I’m looking to get more trim either way.)

Anyway, I’ve stuck pretty well with my goal of trying to see if I can average 10,000 steps a day without being in a specific training program; Matt, Raven, and I have started taking long walks together after dinner most nights, and I’ve looked for other ways to get in more steps each day, like taking the groceries in one bag at a time instead of all at once or cleaning up items from the floor and putting them back where they belong one or two items at a time, rather than in huge armfuls. All little things, but it does seem to have made a difference: last week, I averaged about 9,400 steps/day, and this week, I’m about the same or even better.

I also have wanted to start adding in some more weight lifting and strength training sessions since I tend to favor cardio a lot more than I favor strength exercises, so that will be my goal for the next two weeks—add in two strength-training sessions of at least 10 minutes each (I have to start small if I want to start at all since I don’t usually love strength training sessions). Better something than nothing!

Here is my specific breakdown for the past two weeks:

Monday: long walk (10,000 steps today!)

Tuesday: 60-min. hip hop aerobics

Wednesday: bags class (boxing)

Thursday: after-dinner walk + 6-min. intense strength training session (hey, something’s better than nothing)

Saturday: lots of walking due to having two photo shoots (one in the mountains)

Sunday: after-dinner walk

Tuesday: 60-min. hip hop aerobics + long(ish) walk as a family

Wednesday: 60-min. bags class (boxing)

Thursday & Friday: (projected) family walk after dinner and/or strength training session

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Progress I’ve Seen//

Like I mentioned above, this whole business is getting very frustrating, and I’m now remembering all too vividly while I finally just got to the point last year where I kinda gave up, at least when it came to actually trying to lose weight. I’ve always been pretty careful to try and MAINTAIN a healthy weight once I’ve reached it, but I reached the point of total and utter frustration last year where I just couldn’t try anymore.

I now remember why.

I wish there was some simple thing I could point to and say, “Well, obviously you’re not losing weight because of X, Y, or Z”—like, maybe I wasn’t being totally truthful with how I was tracking food, or maybe I wasn’t pushing my hardest when I exercised. But, seeing as how I’ve tried to be truthful to every last bite on tracking my food and I’ve even gained somewhat of a reputation in my exercise classes as the one who is “always requesting the hardest stuff,” I’m at a bit of a loss.

When my doctor told me I could finally go off the steroid I had to take for my autoimmune condition, he said the weight should just come off if I kept up what I was doing. When I came back and told him a few months later that it hadn’t budged despite my best efforts, he admitted that the steroid can permanently affect metabolism, and that I might just have a lower metabolism now.

I’ve tried not to use that as an excuse; I’ve tried to get into strength training programs and clean eating programs and no-sugar programs, but nothing seems to be making a difference, which is one reason why I wanted to just use this series as a way to maybe take an honest look at what I’m doing and try to get better gradually (but sustainably) and to maybe continually force myself to focus on more than just the numbers, since those don’t seem to be going anywhere.

But enough with the frustrating stuff.

A few wins this week:

  • I have been doing better on my third goal of getting to bed earlier. It hasn’t been much earlier, admittedly, but in the long run, I think it’s better that I gradually change my bedtime rather than try to go in way earlier than normal (since that always just seems to be a recipe for me being unable to fall asleep period). I have been working on getting to bed before 11 at least 3 nights of the week, and the other four nights I’ve been getting to bed either right at 11 or just after (with one exception where I got to bed around 11:45 because I stayed up writing in my novel and then reading a book). In fact, I’m generally pretty good at getting 8 hours of sleep on any given night, but since I know I tend to function at my optimal level when I get 9, I’ve been trying to get closer to that.
  • The very short (6-minute) strength training session was a definite win for me because I did it the night after I’d done a super hard legs workout in my boxing class. I felt like my legs were wobbling all over the place and that I was going to fall over by the end of even just six minutes, but the fact that I did one at all when I was already so sore was pretty good, I thought.
  • Although my weight fluctuates all over the place, it has seemed to trend just *slightly* lower than the previous weeks, so I’m going to count it as being a half pound down.

Weight loss this week = -0.5 lb.

Goals for the Next Two Weeks:

***** Continue tracking what I eat and hit my fiber goal (25 grams a day) at least five days out of seven

***** Add in two short strength training sessions per week (at least 10 minutes each), in addition to my regular exercise habits and my increased walking goal

***** Make it to bed by 10:30 at least twice a week and before or by 11 the rest of the time.

Now, if any of you have ever hit (and then gotten past) a major weight loss plateau, I would really love to hear your thoughts!

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