Scoring Kilojoules and Slaying Negative Self-Talk

This morning I had a major breakthrough on my Peloton bike. I blazed past my previous personal output record, beating it by 26kj. I was surprised to have so thoroughly kicked my own butt! I felt delighted and triumphant. Yet negative thoughts still tried to leave a nasty schmear on my pride. Ugh! The nerve!

Don’t ask me what kilojoules are. I can tell you that I set a PR of 341kj just last week. My PR before that was 337kj, and I hit that last November. Today I pedaled my way to 367kj! A jump of 26kj in one week after basically plateauing for half a year is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

But it’s not about these numbers. To some Peloton devotees, 367kj is a walk in the park. To others, it may seem impossible. Yes, my numbers matter to me as a way of tracking my progress but here’s what matters more: that I put the pieces in place to be able to achieve this athletic feat today.

“How on earth did I slay my own record like that?!” I asked myself as I made my protein shake. It was the right combo of being both well-rested and warmed up; reaping the benefits of cross-training; sticking to a healthy (and still booze-free!) diet; and being determined to break through a major rainy day funk. I also love my instructor, Ally Love. She is steady and strong, creative and charismatic. Her positivity and confidence are contagious. She tells us that we’re bosses and you know what? She’s right. I bossed up today and I’m damn proud!

Ok but really how did I do it?

Sleep: I have been aiming for at least eight hours of sleep per night and mostly (miraculously) getting it.

Warm up: I did this ride on demand, around 10:30 this morning. I had been awake since 6:30, so I was warm and energized.

Cross-training: I am building strength and putting on muscle with my biweekly, butt-kicking kickboxing workouts. Kickboxing and spinning compliment each other really well for me.

Diet: I have been on Weight Watchers for over a year now, and I still depend on tracking my food just as much as I did when I started. It’s nice to experience how much better my body operates when I am eating clean (even if I am currently dealing with major sugar demons – but that is a post for another day).

Exercise as therapy: We’ve had day and a half of non-stop rain and it’s been a bummer. I went off the deep end into a sea of snacks yesterday (all tracked and it wasn’t pretty) that left me feeling even more gross. Plus the ever-present everyday stressors of life y’all. So I was eager to use this workout to help me get out of my funk, and it did the trick!

This also happened:

“How on earth did I slay my own record like that?!” I asked myself as I finished my protein shake and headed upstairs to take a shower. Maybe I haven’t been working hard enough in the two years since I got my Peloton. Maybe they changed how they compute output to make the numbers bigger. Maybe this is a fluke. Maybe I am a fluke.

HOLD THE F UP. How am I still burdening myself with this BS? I have come so far. How am I still getting bogged down with my own self-imposed negativity and criticism and self-doubt?

But here’s the thing. I thought those thoughts. I gave them a moment of my time. They felt like old frenemies trying to move back into my brain. Familiar, but unwelcome. Just as they started to inflate their verbal Aerobeds with more hot air, I cut the power and kicked them to the curb. I quickly made a mental U-turn back to triumph.

And that is where I’ll try to stay. I remind myself that I am a work in progress, and it will take time to undo the decades of negative self-talk that has been sloppily fused with fear and doubt within my subconscious. But I have made so much progress. Just like with my Peloton output, there will be PRs and there will be plateaus. Such is life.

367kj. It’s just a number, but it’s more than a number.

Losing the Big Picture and a Booze-Free Breakthrough

I lost sight of the big picture yesterday.

It was my one-year anniversary of hitting my original goal weight of 145lbs. It was also the Mother’s Day brunch celebration at my son’s nursery school. I remember going to the event with my daughter when she was in Pre-K last year, feeling triumphant for hitting my weight loss goal. Yesterday morning, I couldn’t resist weighing myself – and I was 146lbs.

I felt discouraged. I had a lovely time at the brunch – but also ate quiche, pumpkin bread, banana bread, and a blueberry muffin. Then last night I ate a 13-point pint of Enlightened ice cream and followed that with about 22 points’ worth of granola.

At about 8pm, my mom arrived for the weekend. My husband had to go out on an ambulance call (he’s a volunteer EMT). I decided to stop eating, hydrate, and enjoy the time hanging out with my mom. By the time my hubby got home, my mom and I were telling funny stories and laughing our heads off. My husband said, “This is like you ladies after a few glasses of wine, only without the wine!”

His comment made me feel SO GOOD and so proud and so happy. He was right – we were having a great time together WITHOUT wine! It was a great way to end what was otherwise a bit of a rollercoaster day.

I am now in the negatives for my points this week, with the entire weekend ahead of me including a day out in NYC today with my mom. I weighed myself again this morning to keep myself accountable –

and as of this morning I’m 144.6lbs. So I LOST a pound and a half after eating all those carbs yesterday!

So I am resetting my view to the big picture. I put too much pressure on my one-year goal weight anniversary yesterday. I’m going to try not to do that again! I will reinvest my trust in the process. Give myself kindness and grace. The rest (and the weight loss) will follow.

My Alcohol-Free High School Reunion was Not Torture

On Saturday morning I woke at the buttcrack of dawn to walk my dog and squeeze in a Peloton spin class (burn, calories, burn!) before driving to suburban Philly for my 20th high school reunion.

I have vowed to take a 60-day booze break. Saturday was Day 55. I may not have done a lot of math since high school, but I was able to discern that this would be an alcohol-free reunion for me. My first ever alcohol-free reunion, in fact. Yikes. But ok. I can do this.

So I did. And it didn’t suck! At all!

How did it not suck being sober at my high school reunion? Let me count the ways:

WILLPOWER

I made the decision before going that I was not going to break my 60-day commitment. I also had one of my non-negotiables to guide and support me: “I will not drink when I have to drive, or if I am traveling alone.” So I had a full tank of willpower that I could put towards other decisions, keeping me on track (almost) the entire day. No booze or junk food boost-and-crash roller coaster for me!

ENERGY

It was a long day, from the driving to touring around the school and a picnic lunch, to the class party that night. Lots of schmoozing. I needed all the energy I could muster and I knew if I drank my energy level would plummet. Instead I felt a constant stream of energy the entire day. And that was much more refreshing and long-lasting than a drink would have been.

AUTHENTICITY

I am so happy to have reconnected with old friends and former teachers with an authenticity that is inherent in not having a fuzzy, boozy brain. I felt confident. I felt sure of myself. I felt 100% present. I felt content to be there just as I am. And that is incredible to me.

I was able to tell my French teacher that he was the greatest teacher I have ever had and when he bashfully rejected the compliment, I said, “I used to be bad at taking compliments too but I’m trying to get better at it. Here’s all you have to do. Say ‘Thank you.’ Now let’s try this again.” We did, we laughed, he said “Thank you,” and it felt amazing to have put that goodness out into the world and into his heart.

FIERCENESS

Apologies if this sounds a little vain, but my skin and body looked GOOD. I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT. But I’m not going to let myself delete it, because this is important. It has taken a long time and a LOT of work to get myself here: I am happy in my life and proud of how I look.

On Saturday night I fit into a dress that I haven’t worn since my mini-moon, right after my wedding in 2009. I’ve held onto it all this time for sentimental reasons. I thought I would pass it on to my daughter. I never thought I would be able to wear it again and I think it fits me better now than it did 8.5 years ago.

My high school friends knew me as a fairly athletic but never thin girl with a cute face that was unfortunately riddled with acne. I am thrilled that I was able to show up feeling fit and pretty. What I look like on the outside, I think, also reflects how I have evolved on the inside. I did not need alcohol to give me superficial jolt of dopamine masquerading as confidence, as I have in the past. How freeing that was!

FUN

Y’all, I just had a great time. And being fully present only made it better. Snooping around the school and reliving the laughs and drama of our high school days. Marveling at how technology has evolved. Appreciating what a great education I received and reflecting on how my years there shaped my life. Catching up with everyone I could, from acquaintances to very dear friends.

And I was there. I was 100% there.

My only misstep in what was otherwise a wonderful day was eating a brownie with ice cream at 10pm, after the class party. I couldn’t fall asleep until 2am because of the sugar! Oops. But I’m trying to be kind to myself and see this as a lesson learned. I’m still adjusting to how much more sensitive my body has become to sugar since I’ve been alcohol-free. And I’ll take fatigue over a raging hangover any day!

Alcohol-free high school reunion achievement unlocked. Next stop: Day 60!

Who’s Got the Power? My First Year on Weight Watchers

Today is my one-year Weight Watchers anniversary.

Am I at my goal weight? No.

I am at my original goal weight, and that is ok. Because this past year has been about so much more than that.

My original goal weight has become my new “I feel puffy and need to get back on track” weight. That’s where I am today. And after three weeks of craziness (international travel with two young kids, a family case of strep throat, then head colds, and currently on day five of a power outage), I am ok with that.

I am more than ok. Because I have something that I didn’t have a year ago, when I set out on this journey. I have faith in myself. I believe in myself. I know exactly what I am doing and I know that I will get back to where I want to be.

Right now I am stress-eating. We have been out of our house for four days and out of our routine for three weeks. While I have managed to spend some of that time on the wagon, I’ve also allowed myself to give into my go-to cravings: tortilla chips, Nutella, and chocolate. I wish I were stronger. I wish I didn’t resort to junk food as a “reward” in times of stress. Because, of course, putting this crapola into my body is not a reward. It’s a burden. A moment of pleasure that instantly weighs me down mentally and physically. And that weight lasts a lot longer than the fleeting pleasure.

But I do it anyway. And I accept that. For now.

Because I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve run two marathons in my life. This is my third.

When I joined WW a year ago, I was desperate. My eating and drinking were out of control. I was squeezing into my clothes. I had little energy and patience. Working out felt like a hopeless chore. I needed some structure and someone else’s rules to follow because I wasn’t sticking to my own.

WW has opened a door to an existence that I didn’t believe was possible. I used to think my old weight was just the way my body was going to be after having two kids. I used to think it was fine to eat whatever I want because nothing would ever change. I used to think I would never be able to control my alcohol cravings. I felt disgusting. And, finally, fed up.

I didn’t know what else to do. So I joined WW. I stepped through that door. And while I have not yet arrived at my ultimate destination, I left the first 20lbs behind. Confidently over the threshold, I closed the door and flipped the deadbolt. I will never see those 20lbs again. The next five are hanging on for dear life, and the five after that still feel somewhat out of reach. But this is a journey. This is a marathon. I haven’t crossed the finish line, but I haven’t hit the wall either. I’m still going strong.

One year in. I wish I could have posted dramatic before and after photos, but I wasn’t up to it today. So I got a pedicure. I’d show it to you, but I forgot to shave my toes and my left big toenail is still growing back after a nasty incident with a pair of pointy-toe flats.

But under these Converse All-Stars, beneath my socks, my toenails are painted a fierce, sassy and confident shade of neon watermelon.

And under my stress-eating-induced bloat, beneath my sweatshirt and leggings, I am a fierce, sassy and confident person and mama and athlete and writer and warrior and wife.

I’ve been writing this post throughout the day. Between grocery trips and school runs and karate classes, amidst not knowing when or if our electricity would be restored before the next storm hits in a matter of hours.

And guess what? The power – finally! – came on.

We have power.

I have power.

THAT is what I have taken away from my first year on Weight Watchers. I. Have. Power.

And I take responsibility. For the good decisions and the bad. I alone have the power to learn from these decisions. And I am. I am learning so much about myself and I am becoming a better person and mom and wife every day.

Because every day leads me closer to the me I want to be. She has eluded me over the years. And at times I have almost lost her.

But not this time. Not ever again, I hope.

Because I have the power now.

British Granola and a Big Ol’ Lightbulb

DOH. I just calculated the smart points for this glorious granola that I ate first thing every morning while in London (so good we brought a bag home!). A bowl of this plus milk basically equals a FULL DAY of smart points – and then we would go out for breakfast!

I’m starting to realize the depth of the disservice I did to myself by not tracking while I was in London. Even though I have been on Weight Watchers for almost a year I still have seen taking a break from tracking as a sort of treat. I thought “letting myself off the hook” was fun. What I’m realizing now is that tracking itself is a gift. The awareness and accountability that tracking provides is so much more beneficial than “treating” myself to being off the wagon.

Lightbulb!

Why has it taken me so long to realize and accept this?! UGH!

And then I remind myself that this is a journey. A marathon, not a sprint. A path that only I can navigate. So I once again kick that little judgmental little devil to the curb and continue on my way.

Home Again

We are back from an incredible week in London and I am in bed with a nasty virus. Grateful that it’s nothing worse – though I haven’t been bedridden like this in months – and that today is Sunday so my hubs can take the kids while I rest up.

But UGH.

I’ve been putting crap into my body for two weeks now, between my pre-vacay salt-and-sugar extravaganza and then eating whatever I wanted while in London. And while I’m sure this illness is not entirely due to my being off the wagon, I’m guilting myself about it anyway. Maybe if I hadn’t eaten so poorly, maybe if I hadn’t had wine, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten sick and I’d be able to be productive today instead of feeling like a puffy zombie.

I know I need to cut myself a break and focus on the positives. We had an incredible week in one of my favorite cities on the planet. My husband and I were able to provide a fun, eye-opening, enriching travel experience for our kiddos while reliving some of our fondest memories of the years we spent living in London. It was truly wonderful.

And this Weight Watchers journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Habits don’t change overnight. And weight gain doesn’t mean failure. Track it and move on.

Move on. Move past this guilt because it’s not helping me in any way. And learn. I’m learning there are certain foods I just can’t have in my house. That doesn’t make me weak, it makes me aware. I’m learning that allowing myself to eat whatever I want doesn’t feel like a treat anymore, it just messes with my body and weighs me down with guilt and disappointment.

I don’t want to look back on this trip and feel guilt. I want to look back on this trip and remember it for the amazing, special week that it was. I hope that as I get past this illness I will do just that.

And the next time we travel, I will remember that travel is not a ticket to a bottomless buffet. My one-year Weight Watchers anniversary is approaching. I have been fueling my body with healthier choices for almost a year. Naughty foods have a more negative impact on me now. A good lesson to learn, even if I learned it the hard way this time around. I believe I will make better choices from now on.

So, when I look back on our London trip, I hope I remember, above all, the joy on my son’s face when he rode his first double decker bus; the pride with which my daughter used her first digital camera to capture our adventures; the happiness we all felt being together in a wonderful place.

Time to get back on track.

 

Dry January Day 22

After a disappointing weigh-in today (0lbs lost… which of course can also be looked at as 0lbs gained!) I decided that today was going to be an non-scale victory (nsv in WW lingo) kind of day. I tried my best to put the scale out of my mind and instead stay present and focus on all of the nsv’s throughout my day.

Here they are:

  • I slayed at kickboxing class despite feeling very tired today. And by “slay” I mean I worked as hard as I could, learned a lot, and had a blast. I am still a newbie but I’m enjoying it tremendously – even just enjoying exercise so much is in itself an nsv for me!
  • I took my son to lunch at Whole Foods, where I looked for the cleanest thing I could find to eat (fish and kale salad). And I had a cute date to boot!
  • I baked with my kids when my daughter got home from school (nsv: staying present with my kids).
  • We made our first Mudhustler recipe – the Elvis Cake! It was delish!!
  • … and I managed to not eat the whole thing!
  • And of course, no wine. Which I have started to take for granted, but since today is an nsv kind of day I am consciously reminding myself that any night with no wine is a big nsv for me!

22 days down. BOOM.

 

Dry January Day 21

Alcohol-free for three weeks: check!

During intense and exciting football playoff game: check (even though there was a lot of buffalo chicken dip consumed)!

And through another weekend with relative ease: check!

I’ve got this.

And here’s what else I’ve got:

  • More energy
  • More patience
  • More space in my brain
  • A clearer brain
  • A more creative brain
  • Increased productivity
  • Clearer, brighter, more glowing, less congested skin (and I have always had problem skin)
  • Less belly bloat (inching – or at least millimetering – my way to #bikinigoals)
  • Deeper sleep

And a huge one for me that I am just now starting to believe:

  • Less anxiety.

This is not a comprehensive list. This is just off the top of my head on a tired (but happy!) Sunday night.

The anxiety piece is something I want to read more about. I have dealt with varying degrees of anxiety since I was a kid. I never thought about the impact alcohol had on my anxiety. Never thought to connect the two. But it occurred to me at some point this weekend that I have not felt anxious in, well, about three weeks. I am cautiously embracing the liberation I feel. Trying to stay present. And eager to explore this further in the coming days.

I weighed myself this morning (the day before tomorrow’s weigh-in) and I had gained a half-pound. Which was discouraging, considering how clean I ate this week and how great my exercise routine has been. In my discouragement, I ate too much junk today. I’ve stayed within my weekly points, but I’m expecting a perplexing gain tomorrow. Disappointing, BUT at least I have been sticking with Dry January like a boss. Tomorrow is a new day and a new week and I’m so proud for making it this far.

 

Dry January Day 18

My husband and I are going to the movies tonight!

Confession: before Dry January, when my husband I would go to the movies together, I would always pour some wine into a small glass bottle (full confession: it was a baby bottle leftover from when my kids were infants) to sneak into the theater. I thought it was a funny thing to do. A small little rebellion for someone who is normally a staunch rule follower. I’m beginning to see it differently. I’m beginning to see someone who was too reliant on alcohol to have a good time. I’m beginning to see someone who was more focused on seeing a movie buzzed than enjoying a date with my husband. That makes me sad. But at the same time I’m also so proud to be growing apart from that person.

Tonight’s timing couldn’t be better since I had such a tough day with my kids yesterday, so I will deeply appreciate every moment of this date night. And every kernel of movie theater popcorn for which I hoarded smart points today.

 

Dry January Day 14

Two weeks without alcohol. Take a deep breath and let that sink in. I’m relieved, I’m proud, I’m grateful.

It has been a breakthrough weekend over here. And that is not a word I use lightly. My mom will leave early tomorrow morning. In the time that she’s been here, I have had no alcohol, I exercised, and I’ve stayed within my weekly points (weigh-in day tomorrow!). I used to use her visits as an excuse to overeat and overdrink. But not this time. And it’s so nice to not feel like crap!

Today, I painted our master bathroom. Wait, I’m sorry, what? Who is typing this? Oh wait it really is me. And this is a picture of our bathroom, which my husband has been painstakingly renovating for the last year in free time he does not have. Being able to help him, and painting a room for the first time in my life, was so empowering. And fun! And there is no way I could have done it – or even would have wanted to do it – if I had been hungover for the last two days. It was a ton of work, and I’m tired now. But I continue to be amazed at my increased energy and productivity sans booze.

As for my mom, it’s been a breakthrough weekend of a different sort for her. Because she knew we had house projects on our weekend agenda, she took our kids out by herself for the first time. They spent almost all day at the Natural History Museum today and had a blast.

Instead of tucking into our second bottle of wine and watching TV we won’t remember, my mom and I are going to spend the evening browsing light fixtures for her new apartment. This is the beginning of a new era for our family and it feels so good.