Fitness and a Jawbone

After years of stubbornly avoiding it, I gave into the whole fit tracker trend and bought a bracelet. But the rebel in me refused the get a Fitbit so I got a black Jawbone UP2 instead.

up

I got it from Amazon for $45. You can access your stats through the website or, more conveniently, an app. It tracks your steps, activity and sleep:

I have this synced with my company’s Spring into Motion system so I hope my team would win a prize this year. But even if we don’t, I like that I can see how much activity I’ve done in a day. My target is at least 10,000 steps and 8 hours sleep.

Right.

I wish we started the contest during the weekend in AC. I must have spent at least 5 hours dancing.

Clearly, I need to move more. The weather is not helping. It rained all weekend and I spent two days laying on the couch or sleeping because I felt like sh1t. I couldn’t even study because my vision was so blurred. I feel so much better now. It must be the walking and 3 cups of coffee.

Speaking of the weather, what happened to April showers lead to May flowers? May is almost over and it’s still chilly and wet some days. It better not be this way during the weekend of Warren and Jay’s wedding. Otherwise, commuting to NY would suck.

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Why Change is Hard

I’m so pissed off with myself. I really need to lose 4 tons super quick.

WHY IS IT A NEVER-ENDING TORTUROUS JOURNEY FOR US?!

WHY????!!!!!

Stupid solutions that might actually work:

  • Do what Emily Blunt’s character in The Devil Wears Prada did: Not eat. And when she feels like she’s going to pass out, eat a little piece of cheese. I just happen to have cheese here at work. Hmm.
  • Wait until I feel like I’m going to be swallowed by an ocean of hunger. Eat maybe two to three forkfuls of something (no restrictions on what you want) — just enough to keep myself from feeling weak. Rinse and repeat. This actually worked before, lost 10 pounds in four weeks.
  • Drink coffee pretty much all day. This will kill my appetite and I will only eat once a day.

Good solutions that will work and reasons why it won’t happen. I’m not saying that they’re the right reasons. I’m just being realistic here.

  • Renew my gym membership and pay $21 a month for something I won’t use. By the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is change into my yoga pants and jump on the elliptical. Now, I just change into my yoga pants and instantly couch surf. Which is sad because when I was faithfully going, I got addicted to working out. But that was when the gym was in the same building as my apartment and I only needed to go down to the basement.
  • Wake up at 6 am in the morning and run for at least 30-40 minutes. I like sleep too much. And the best sleep is between the first alarm and the next (in between hitting the snooze button).
  • Do yoga and pilates in the living room. The dogs like sleeping on the yoga mat the moment I lay it on the floor. Pushing them away every five seconds is not worth it.
  • Do J.J. Smith’s smoothie cleanse for 10 days and try to stick with it this time. I’m supposed to lose 15 pounds to start with and I’m supposed to manage it and lose more. (I need to find that book!) It’s the incredible discipline required that makes it so hard.
  • Buy the Insanity or T25 videos by Beach Body. I’ll spend about $150 and have the discs sit on top of the DVD player when I use the PS4.

I think weight loss is 85% food and 15% exercise. Which means that I have to change my eating habits. This means that I have to break up with a few things.

Goodbye, Ferrero Rocher.
Goodbye, eating white rice everyday. (It’s just once a week from now on.)
Goodbye, Tostitos with a hint of lime + Spike salsa.
Goodbye, anything sweet and baked.
Goodbye, second helpings.

*cries*
*gets over it*

Grrrr… BMI

For the past 2 months, I’ve been eating like a monster. Or a professional football player, whichever is worse. I’m still not fat, I can still wear a swimsuit without being an eyesore to the public. But I’m not very  happy with my BMI.

I’ve always had an issue with this BMI thing. I’ve always been heavy, probably because I’m big-boned (this is not an excuse, I really am!), compact, and tightly put together. Even when I was in college, I was the heaviest girl in PE class — heaviest, not fattest — and I had to use bigger weights compared to girls twice my girth. I’m not very tall either, just 5’4″ and I’m a healthy size 6. If you look at me, I look like I’m at least 10 pounds lighter. But because of this trait that I inherited from both sides of the family, my BMI will forever be screwed up. This is why I’m not aiming for a 19 and I decided that I’m going down to a 22 instead. I don’t have a scale because I refuse to bow down to the tyranny of constant weight obsession that strikes many females in this unfortunate thin-centric society! Which is why I’ll concentrate on size now. My target is to go down to at least a size 4, the BMI and weight should follow.

No, I’m not going to start eating rabbit food. But I will try not to snack on unhealthy things and stay away from candy bars and cakes. The occasional indulgence is okay but only in moderation! No more second servings. Instead of big, complete meals, I’ll snack the whole day, eating small servings 4-5 times. I did this before and it really worked. And, most importantly, I need to increase my physical activity. I promise to walk my fat dog everyday so we can both lose weight.

There.

Crunch

I need a quick snack at work whenever I feel hungry between meals. Sometimes, these little dishes serve as two snacks which would equal one lunch meal — very handy when I don’t have time to go to the cafeteria. A few months ago, I was addicted to muesli and banana. After the two sacks of muesli disappeared, I ate granola and various cereals without milk instead. And then I converted to fruit yogurt. This time, it’s back to muesli but with breakfast cream and honey.

While I don’t count calories or stick to certain food groups alone (Salad everyday? No thanks!) I found portion-control so much more effective. I never get hungry and I still eat what I want all the time. However, I’m a bit curious about the caloric differences between my favorite snacks. So here’s a detailed breakdown:

So, calorie-wise, shredded wheat wins and muesli + banana has the highest calories. Luckily for me, I don’t care about calories and just focus on the nutritional value.

This is what I always tell Chris. He has a problem with gaining weight (grrr… I’m jealous of his metabolism) and he tells me that he has been stuffing himself with fattening stuff: soda, pizza, chips and everything he could lay his hands on. I reminded him that junk with empty calories is not the answer. It’s the food’s nutrition and health advantages that count.

I lost weight. YAY! And I’m not talking about a measly 1-2 kg but 5 kilos (11 lb)!!! And when you’re in your late twenties that’s not easy. It was difficult in the beginning. Even though I was working out regularly, it’s as if the weight didn’t want to let go. I guessed that it was because I didn’t change my eating habits. When I (really and truly) applied portion-control during the last 3-4 weeks, it was practically effortless. Giada De Laurentiis was right: just eat tiny meals 5-6 times a day. I still eat whatever I want and I don’t have to eat rabbit food and be miserable. I’m going to continue this and I know I’ll go down to my ideal weight soon enough without having to do one of those useless fad diets that ruin your metabolism. Just a few more to go!

I currently have a bet with Fatma. We both need to lose 2 kilos in 2 weeks and I know that she’s going to drag me to one of B-2’s huge digital scales this Sunday. Ack! I better stay off the bad stuff.

A Hat Full of Sky

Last Wednesday, out of curiosity, I weighed myself in the gym. It couldn’t be attributed to a loss of water weight because I just drank a full bottle of water after running, sit-ups, crunches and pilates. I was gratified to see that I lost 1 kg already. Now, 1 kg may not seem much, but it’s 2.2 pounds in just four days of this. And I’m not even strictly dieting! YAY!

I refuse to be a slave to the scale since I absolutely believe that one can tell through one’s clothes. And there’s a mirror. I might weigh in again after 2-3 weeks. For now, I’m just enjoying this because I feel so much better.

Now I just need to keep it up.

~*~

The connection was wonky the whole day yesterday. We did try to reset the router 1,000x. Sometimes, it gave us false hope. It would show a speedy connection (blue-green light) but would turn into a slow one (blue) that would quickly degenerate to a snail’s pace (green). My nightly Skype conversations with Chris lasted for a total of 5 seconds. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Everyone got pissed but so many things were done. Dad cleaned the A/C, Mom organized a million things, Jiko… I don’t know what Jiko did, Sofia practiced her numbers and slept early, and I managed to (1) cook pumpkin soup, (2) load my Kindle with more than a hundred ebooks, (3) start and finish A Hat Full of Sky, and (4) start Wintersmith. And we watched two movies.

See what having no Facebook, Farmville, Amebo Pico, Galaxy Online II, and Star Pirates can do to a family. By the time the internet got back up, I was too sleepy and played halfheartedly for a few minutes before going to bed.

Speaking of Discworld books, I’m on a quest to finish all of them and all the Dresden files right after. I chose A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith because I’ve been very fond of the lead character, Tiffany Aching, and all the witches ever since I read I Shall Wear Midnight months ago. If you’re a regular Discworld customer, you know that Pratchett’s well-cultivated world is composed of hundreds of interesting characters. The focus of each novel shifts from one to the other, giving almost everyone a chance for the spotlight. The books are always interesting, the stories worth reading, and the way fiction depicts real life is just too funny. I ♥ Pratchett! (I secretly like him more than Neil Gaiman, who I think is a genius of his own right but tends to take things too seriously.)

Food Diary

I think women are cursed to be on a never-ending quest for weight loss. It doesn’t matter how thin you are, you still want to get thinner! I gained a few kilos over the past year and it annoys me to no end because they just won’t disappear. I do have a healthy appetite so that probably counts as one of the reasons why. I usually don’t like junk food. I don’t buy soda, chips or candy and I don’t get out of my way to eat fast food. But the problem is when other people buy some and share it with me, I don’t always say no. I end up losing track of what I’ve eaten and take unnecessary calories that I had no intention of eating.

So I decided to put both my appetite and my distaste of junk  to good use. I outlined simple rules for myself that doesn’t target weight loss but general fitness including changes on what and how I eat and how often I exercise. I want to feel energetic again. And I want to be able to run for 10 minutes without huffing or puffing like an overweight 60-year-old.

  • I’m going to eat small amounts of food 5-6 times a day instead of eating 3 big meals per day. The latter is how most people eat, but we also end up eating snacks because we get a little hungry in between. So instead of doing that, eating a small portion of food several times a day would control food intake, maintain my metabolism because I would never feel hungry, and wouldn’t let me get that full, bloated feeling.
  • The types of food I eat will also change. People who diet go on drastic weight loss regimens (e.g. carrot juice and veggies, Mayo clinic diet) and end up gaining the weight back and more as soon as they return to their normal eating habits because their metabolism has slowed. I evaluated what kinds of healthy food I like and decided to incorporate a lot of those into my meals. Fruits or veggies alone won’t make me feel satisfied and will leave me with a gnawing hungry feeling. Servings of protein, fiber-rich grains, certain fats (like omega 3 rich foods) and good carbs are necessary. And since I absolutely love fish, chicken breast and other white meat, I will be eating much more of those than beef, which I dislike. An example of a mid-morning snack is 1/3 cup of low fat granola (tastes great with or without skimmed milk) and a mid-afternoon snack is a small mashed banana mixed with organic muesli. Muesli is tasteless when eaten by itself but is absolutely yummy when taken with fruit.
  • I will update my Food Diary everyday. Writing down what I eat helps so I set up a spreadsheet on Google Docs were I list the food and portions that I eat for each one of my small meals. If I see anything that says cake, cookie, chips, or candy on my spreadsheet, it looks bad and my instinct would be to avoid similar foods because I know that I just ate some recently. It also encourages me to continue with my goal to eat better.
  • I will exercise everyday. Hell, gym fees are deducted from my paycheck every month. I may as well use it. Why everyday? Because if I set my mind to go everyday, I will go as often as I possibly can. Though there will be times when I can’t go due to engagements or when I just feel bone-tired, I still end up going three to four times a week. If I have my mind set to go only three times a week, I will end up going only once or twice. Right now, I have a simple regimen: run for 20 minutes followed by crunches, pull-ups and stretches. It only takes 30 minutes, which is really all the time I can afford daily for working out.

That’s it so far. Maybe I’ll adopt a more rigorous gym routine later on, but I want to start slowly because I don’t want to break my back. And running appeals more to me than the elliptical, spinners, bikes, or any machine. When I move out of Saudi Arabia, I can probably run anywhere and enjoy the scenery and fresh air instead of being forced to do it indoors in a gym.

This also doesn’t mean that I will stop making delicious stuff. Nope! Due to my nooby experiments, cooking and baking has become a passion. But this means that I will feed more of what I make to my family and various friends because I certainly can’t eat it all by myself!

Trish and Alet are determined to do the same thing, with differing details suited to our interests. Alet cycles a lot and Tricia loves to run like me. We’re a terrific support system for each other in spite of the long-distance friendship between us three. Again, it’s not so much about losing the weight but we want to change our eating habits and lifestyles. No more devouring of whole boxes of ice cream bars unless one of us gets dumped! Being healthy comes first and gradual weight loss will surely follow.

(I don’t usually weigh myself but because I was weighed last week in the clinic, I got curious yesterday. I already lost half a kilo and I’ve only been in my regimen for three days. That was a nice surprise.)

Excuses topped with Stupidity, Exercise, Pain and Shopping

I haven’t blogged for so long I feel like I lost an arm. Initially, my absence meant that I was having way too much fun in the Philippines where I went for a month-long vacation to spend the holiday season with my family and some friends I managed to meet. When I finally arrived back in Riyadh so I could resume working (insert sad face here), I didn’t blog out of pure laziness. That plus a stupid moment that lasted for days: I couldn’t access the internet on any browser for 4 days. It was weird because Skype worked just fine. I feared the worst! Maybe it was a virus (I knew linking with my Dad’s laptop was a mistake) that system restore or several virus scans could not fix. I uninstalled all browsers except for IE and they refused to reinstall. I was resigned to reformatting my hard drive when, on the 4th day, Chris suggested that I reset my modem/router. I did just that and my browsers started working normally. ARGH! The pain of stupidity is excruciating.

Now that my epic excuses are done, I have to mention (just in passing, mind you) that I’m back to my lifetime goal of turning-my-body-to-what-it-was-when-I-was-22. While I am far from fat, I am not a skinny ass anymore (I’m now a US size 8 *sob*). I have accepted with some bitterness that I will never be disciplined enough to go on a rigid diet and count calories like I count the minutes before I go off work. So I’m on a portion-control diet instead. Also known as the French diet, I eat anything I want in controlled portions. I also go to the gym everyday on weekdays and walk/work myself to death on weekends. My muscles have toned a bit while I was in the PI. (Yes, yes, I’m pleased. Now if I could just tone up the rest and lose 4 tons in the process, please?)

Yesterday, I woke up with the most horrible body pain ever. It was reminiscent of the mind-numbing ache that I experienced when I had H1N1, only to a lesser degree since I was not sick. I suspected it was from these reasons:

  1. Working out everyday
  2. Showering after working out everyday
  3. Cleaning Apartment #2, doing the laundry and moving furniture the day before (there’s nothing like a good chore-day to make anyone sick)
  4. All of the above

khaki ditsy print dress from Dorothy Perkins

By 3pm, I felt “solid” enough to leave the bed and eat. You’d think I’d spend the rest of the day chillin’ at home? Nopes. It’s January, dears. Sale month in Riyadh, and this is according to the nice salespeople who informed me two months ago.  Dad agreed to take me out and I spent six hours shopping. That much walking probably burned the calories of half the pecanbon I ate to a crisp.

I like the 50’s inspired belted dresses at Dorothy Perkins. The dark green one I got seemed made for my curvy frame. Why was I born in the wrong decade? Only it shows too much boob area so I have to cover up creatively if I wear it here in KSA. The wrinkled Chinese inspired dresses at John Rocha were just as pretty but they looked a bit Divi-like for the price. Topshop was as fun as ever and I’m in love with the distressed tube minidress and the mesh ballerina shoes with the fluffy black flower on the toes. I tried the tube dress on as soon as I got home and it fit perfectly as long as I don’t breathe too deeply. Must get sheer black nylons for it. Or dark red lace.

Everything I chose was scarily reminiscent of my maarte 5-year old sister’s taste. Both my Dad and Chris insists that Sofia got whatever mutation she has from me but I’m still in denial. After all, I have sensible underwear. Six of them (or maybe five?). She has one. Hah!

2 Thin Chefs

More on thinspiration.

Giada De Laurentiis

Time has an old article, 2 Thin Chefs, about two female top chefs who are “vanishingly thin”. Suzanne Goin and Giada De Laurentiis were asked about their self-control secrets. During an interview, De Laurentiis said:

“Most of it is portion control… Yes, I eat my own food. I do. But I don’t eat a lot of it. And as you see in watching Everyday Italian, I take those little salad plates–you know, appetizer-sized plates–and that’s the amount of food I eat … And I eat multiple meals throughout the day. And I do work out–a novelty, I know. And it’s also–my mother’s tiny–it’s also partly genetics.”

She also does taekwondo three times a week and takes long walks. She prefers not to run because her breasts are bigger than average.

Suzanne Goin

Another advice from Goin is to become a food snob. Don’t eat the icky, greasy fast-food or fake food served in cheap restaurants and airplanes.

“If I am really starving, I will eat airplane food,” says Goin, grimacing. “But I would rather not eat the macadamia chicken on the airplane and [instead] get to have that supergood bread slathered with lardo,” she adds, referring to the whipped cured pork fat served at the Manhattan restaurant Del Posto, where we were dining. Which suggests a new kind of diet plan: eat like these chefs.

Now this is pretty easy. I’m still just learning to cook and I’m already rejecting stuff that I used to eat without even thinking of their contents. It’s been forever since I’ve eaten fast-food, preferring to just make my own dinner, and I’ve asked Dad to stop buying that awful orange juice from concentrate.

I think it’s the portion control that I need to work on. I don’t eat all that I make, of course, and give most of them away since I like to cook for friends. I just have to let go of my waste-not mentality by eating more than what I should (or more than 3 forkfuls haha). Food can always be given away or eaten later. After all, that’s what refrigerators were made for. (Just like sidewalks were made for long walks. I’m like Giada on the boobs aspect.)

Pressure

The thin chair and table by Junio Design

There’s a pressure to be thin especially when you:

  • are female
  • are below 30 years old
  • are Asian because most Asians have very slight builds and anything above 120 pounds is considered “fat” (In my country, relatives, friends, relatives of friends, acquaintances and people that are familiar but don’t remember your name will all say “you’ve gained weight” given the chance.)
  • haven’t given birth yet

I also found that it’s harder to remain thin and lose weight after the age of 25. Possibly because metabolism slows down? Or we get busier at work and tend to stress-eat more?

While looking for doable diet plans that won’t stress me out too much with the preparation and shopping required, I stumbled upon this ridiculous diet. One is supposed to eat this everyday:

Breakfast:
1/2 cup low fat yoghurt

Lunch:
1 clementine or small orange

Dinner:
3 spoon/forkfuls of whatever’s for dinner and nothing else

Desserts and sugars are not allowed.

Should I try it? I don’t know. It sounds dangerously anorexic to me. But when you’re annoyed, have tried working out, swimming, eating veggies most of the time and nothing is still happening, maybe desperate measures are needed.

Although the only-3-forkfuls-of-everything-at-a-time thing does work. I did it a few years ago and dropped 10 pounds in a month. Maybe it’s not so crazy after all.

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