Welcome to Health(ier) Habits, a series I started to help keep me on track with my goals to stay healthy, even when (ESPECIALLY when) I don’t always see the progress or results that I would like to as quickly as I would like to! Every two weeks, I list out my progress on my recent goals, my exercise habits, and what I’ve been eating.
Quick Recap of My Goals From Last Post:
- Continue to focus on having cheese for just one meal
- Plan out the use of our produce better so less goes to waste and we eat more when it’s at its peak
- Redouble efforts to fit in two strength training sessions a week (continue to do two full sets of four exercises, but focusing on a different body part every time)
- Fit in a second hour-long high-intensity cardio class/session each week, like I used to
During the first week, I still had scads of Halloween candy left, and it showed on the scale—rather than continuing its veeeeeery slow downward trend, it started to (alarmingly quickly) go right back up, a frustrating fact of life for me now–any losses are usually hard-won and weeks in the making, and permanent gains can happen within just a few days of me slacking off a bit.
By week two, all of my favorite Halloween candy (Tootsie Rolls and Kit Kats) was gone, so the scale gradually started going back down again, as it was before. Basically, my weight loss is directly proportional to the amount of chocolate in our house, so now that the temptation is out, that should definitely help. (Admittedly, I did try and watch my intake of candy during that first week, but sometimes, especially when it comes to Tootsie Rolls, I will inhale about two dozen pieces and forget exactly how it happened. True story.)
As for the cheese, I’m still doing okay at keeping it to just one meal. Occasionally I’ll have it at both lunch and dinner when I’m not thinking about it too much, but just being conscious of how much cheese I was eating before has seemed to help me consume less of it.
Lastly, my produce goal was a big ol’ flop—I’m usually quite good at using up produce before it goes bad and not wasting food, but I made the mistake of buying stuff like spinach again (something I swore I would never do), thinking I could change my ways and use it all up before it went bad. The truth is, we’re not big salad eaters at home (though we quite like salads), and since I’m not used to having spinach or lettuce greens in the house, I’m not in the habit of actually planning out uses for it when I do have it. So in the past week, we chucked most of a bag of spinach, four bananas that were too gross even to bake with, and I’ll soon be chucking a half can of pumpkin I forgot about and a cucumber that I had the best of intentions for. Not a good week for food waste, that’s for sure. (Of course, now the good news is that our fridge is relatively cleaned out of old stuff, so I can start anew with my goal!)
(All said, I did at least use up SOME of the old produce we had lying around—a whole bunch of mushrooms, some cut-up green onions, and most of the rest of the bananas, anyway!)
Now that we’re going into the holidays, though, I will admit that I’m worried. Food is obviously a weakness of mine, and being surrounded by a lot of reeeeally delicious food that I only see once or twice a year is tough—basically, I never deprive myself during the holidays, which means I always gain weight during the holidays. Sure, on non-party days I still usually keep our diet relatively lean and balanced (and my calorie counts around their usual 1700-1750 or so), but my body REALLY reacts quickly when I overindulge—I’ll usually be up 2-3 pounds for several days after, and I often won’t get down to my original weight for about a week or so after a big indulgence. Indeed, my goal this holiday season isn’t actually to lose any weight from now until the end of December (because it’s just not very likely, even though I know it’s possible)–my goal is simply to try and treat those “special” occasions/parties with family and friends as the once-per-week things that they are and use the rest of the week to recuperate, by sticking with my regular exercise schedule and eating my usual portion sizes. Hopefully by doing so, I won’t be in too bad of shape come Jan. 1st.
And now, onto our dinners for the past two weeks:
Saturday: Creamed Eggs Over Toast
Sunday: Dan Dan Noodles (w/ added mushrooms) + Green Beans (canned)
Monday: Spaghetti with Mushroom Herb Cream Sauce + Green Beans (frozen)
Tuesday: Korean BBQ Beef + Rice, Steamed Vegetables
Wednesday: Cacio e Pepe + Peas
Thursday: Cheesy Chicken Chowder
Friday: Date Night! (pasta in tomato sauce with bacon and sweet onions) + slices from the bread bowl and its accompanying pesto
Saturday: Pizza (Little Caesar’s—3 slices! I was so hungry!)
Sunday: Garlic-Breaded Chicken Breasts + Creamed Potatoes and Peas
Monday: Swedish Ground Turkey Meatballs + Rice + Steamed Veggies
Tuesday: Ground Beef Tacos + Avocado, Spinach, Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese
Wednesday: Leftover Garlic-Breaded Chicken Breast + Creamed Potatoes/Peas
Thursday: Chinese takeout (ham-fried rice, General Tao’s chicken, lo mein noodles)
Friday: (anticipated) Girls’ Night Out – Soup Party!
Exercise is getting trickier and trickier between the super early sunset and the freezing cold (often mixed with rain and/or snow). For awhile, we were fitting in an after-dinner walk almost every single night, but now, we’re only averaging going out about 3 times a week or so. True, it’s much better than what we used to do (aka, nothing), but it does mean that on the days when we don’t go out, sometimes my step counts are teeeeerrrible for the day.
One of my big goals was to try and fit back in a second cardio session in the week, which I used to be unfailing at but has since changed now that Matt often has meetings on one of my regular workout nights (Wednesday), and I’ve had a ton of photo shoots and family stuff going on most Saturday mornings, which has cut down on the third cardio class I try to fit in. However, there are four cardio classes listed in the past two weeks in my list below, so I did manage to fit them in, which always makes me feel good.
As for the strength training…sigh. Can I be honest and say I’m not a big fan? I think it’s because cardio is, well, EASY for me since I’ve been doing the cardio I do for so long (and because of my history as a long-distance runner). Strength training, on the other hand, requires back-to-back minutes of being out of breath, pushing my body to new limits, and being sore for days afterwards. In other words, it’s not easy to psych myself up to do it regularly.
However, I think I’ve decided on a compromise—
Before, I was holding myself to a high standard for my ten minutes of strength training. Sure, the time commitment was negligible, but for those ten minutes, I was expecting myself to do a Kayla Itsines workout of some kind, all of which are quite hard and almost all of which require a lot of jumping and burpee-like moves (which just make me want to vomit).
So I’ve decided to let myself apply the “split top wheat bread” principle, which is this—
As a teenager, my mom only would buy this really dense, 100% stone-ground whole wheat bread that I hated. Honestly, I hated it so much I wouldn’t even eat it. Finally, I asked her if she could buy me the split-top wheat bread instead, to which she replied no, because the word “wheat” in the title was misleading and it wasn’t as healthy as the other stuff and so on and so forth. To which I replied, “Well, considering that I literally never eat the whole wheat bread you buy, I’m not getting ANY of the nutrients from it. At least if you bought the split-top wheat stuff, I would be getting SOME, even if it’s just a fraction of the other kind.” (In case you’re wondering, she did start buying me the other kind after that.)
So, using that principle, I’ve decided to let myself do a more relaxed approach to strength training—some hand weights here, a minute-long plank there, some jumping jacks in between it all. Last night I tried it while watching Psych reruns, and while it wasn’t anywhere near the intensity of the Itsines stuff (and won’t produce the same kinds of results), it’s at least better than doing NOTHING, and it’s a lot easier to talk myself into. So my new goal is: still stick with trying to do two strength training sessions a week, but they don’t have to be super hardcore to “count.”
Here’s my breakdown of the last two weeks:
Saturday: 55-min. Zumba class (10,000 steps today)
Sunday: (cold and dark) after-dinner walk – (Thank you, Daylight Savings time!)
Monday: 10-minute strength training (butt circuit)
Tuesday: 60-minute hip hop aerobics (10,000 steps)
Thursday: after-dinner walk
Saturday: photo shoot in the morning + family walk after dinner
Sunday: before-dinner walk (mixing it up!) + walked to our church building and back twice (which added about 4,000 steps)
Monday: after-dinner walk
Tuesday: 60-min. hip hop class + after dinner walk (14,000 steps)
Wednesday: 60-min. Zumba class (11,000 steps)
Thursday: 10-minute strength training
Avg. Number of Steps in Week One: 8,013/day
Avg. Number of Steps in Week Two (estimated): 8,805/day
Progress I’ve Seen //
Weight: +0.5 lb. (Alas, even with much less Halloween candy snacking in week two, my weight loss from the two weeks before was still voided.)
Current Weight: 146 lbs. (Total weight loss in 14 weeks: 3 lbs.)
I think I need to start taking other measurements besides just weight for this section because I know it’s frustrating for me to see seemingly so little progress made in 14 weeks, just by looking at that one number. So I’m going to think of other ways to measure my progress, like inches around my waist, for example (though that has only gone down about an inch or so in those 14 weeks, half an inch of which seems to come and go depending on the amount of chocolate I’ve eaten that week), or number of push-ups I can do in a row without stopping (somewhere around 20, I think), or length of time I can hold a plank (90 seconds, last I checked).
But like I said earlier, all that might have to wait until after the holidays because knowing myself, it will be all I can do just to keep up the good habits I’ve managed to establish (like taking a lot more walks and finally making myself do SOME strength training, even if it’s short). Hopefully come January, I’ll have more of a plan in place for my progress going forward from that point that won’t be so easily sabotaged by the time of year.
Goals for the Upcoming Weeks //
- Use up produce before it goes bad, and only buy produce that I have a solid plan for (no more buying cucumbers just because I want to fit in some more vegetables somewhere!)
- Treat parties/special events as single-day occurrences, not a season-long excuse to indulge. (Give away leftover food and treats, if I have to!)
- Continue to fit in at least two hour-long cardio sessions a week (ideally three)
- Do two strength-training sessions a week (they don’t have to be all-out intense–remember that something is better than nothing!)