Healthy Byte: Maintenance 3rd Anniversary (Day 1318)

Today started out like any other Saturday; the house was quiet, still full of sleepy heads, and two hungry pups. I laid in bed for a brief moment before I propelled myself out of the comforts of the warm covers and into the chill of the air conditioned room.

I glanced briefly down at my Fitbit and it stated “0930, SA 13.” The pups wagged their tails excitedly waiting for their breakfast and as they chowed down I retrieved my standard weekend breakfast of protein bar and cup of hot tea. Something about the date drew me to tap on the Fitbit again and I read “0947, SA 13.” Then it suddenly dawned on me, Aug 13 is the day. The day that I reach my goal weight three years ago from years of being overweight.

EPSON MFP image

This is what unhealthy looks like

This was me in 2000. I was 30 years old, 163 lbs at 4’10”, had a BMI of 34.1 (obese), hated photographs of myself, hated shopping for clothes, was the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, and had accepted that this is how a mother is suppose to look. It wasn’t until 12 years later at an annual physical when my blood work came back declaring that I was pre-diabetic that I finally was scared enough to actually skip all the quick fix diets or miracle diet supplements and just settle down to put in the work.

Weight loss compared to was a breeze. The first two years of maintenance blew by with very little hiccup largely due to my fear of falling prey to the statistics regaining. I remained hyper vigilant on nutrition and gymming regularly. The only time I skipped gym was for a child’s sporting event. My weight remained constant within +/- 1-2 lbs and life was good.

This third year however, has been a series of challenges and it was the first time my weight fluxed back over 100 lbs. I was horrified, frustrated, and was in borderline panic mode. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what has changed or why is that stupid fucking number on the scale going in the wrong direction?!

Of course I knew all the answers but just became quite comfortable with what I am calling the ‘maintenance blinders’ squarely over my eyes. And that is exactly why I religiously log everything and anything other than water pass my little devil lips into MyFitnessPal. It is an incredible source of data to find the self-sabotaging pattern of eating. I can summarize my top pitfalls which has made my 3rd year of maintenance a bit of a roller coaster.

  1. I looked at my daily caloric allotment and felt it was time to increase it from what has made me successful in the previous two years. Instead of 1230 I increased it to 1450 – regardless if I gymmed or not, often eating over it, and abandoned my TDEE #s.
  2. I increased my strength training and reduced my cardio drastically.
  3. Due to increased strength training I was more hungry so I ate more. I became a huge fan of Peanut Butter … on everything!
  4. I associated the consistent weight gain to gaining muscle and rationalized that my pants were getting tight around my waist due to muscle – yes I really did quite an excellent job convincing myself of this one.
  5. A few days before my cycle I have always been famished but since I was doing more ‘strength training’ to ‘build more muscle’ which naturally ‘burns more fat’ I quenched my insatiable appetite with everything and anything with little regard to the quality of what I was consuming. The power of self rationalization is incredibly powerful.

Thanks to my MFP pals and a mishap on the elliptical severely injuring my wrist, I refocused on getting back on track.  

  1. I have NO idea why I veered away from TDEE. I think subconsciously I reflected how easy the previous 2 years of maintaining was and just got a little cocky. I thought ‘hey maybe I can’t get fat again!’ I was sadly mistaken. LOL I dialed my daily baseline caloric allotment to a reasonable 1350, did not eat over it except for once a week on family pizza night, and I have strictly adhered to eating on plan during the workweek and loosening the reigns on the weekend (80/20 Rule).
  2. I did a bit of research and apparently there are studies which alludes that some people are physically built to respond better to cardio and some to strength training when it comes to weight loss. So I have tweaked my physical routine to strength training to be half of my cardio 5 days a week. While on the weekends I bump up the cardio and the strength training to a 60:40 ratio in favor of cardio.
  3. I have made peace with that peanut butter can be addictive for me, so I have tapper off on it and magically I no longer crave it on everything. lol
  4. I have also had to face the hard truth that if my weight is creeping up and my clothes are getting tight around the waist, it is NOT muscle weight but F-A-T. That was a very difficult truth to acknowledge because I no longer could use strength training/more muscle as an excuse to eat like a crazy person. Cuz let’s face it, eating like a crazy person with zero regard to outcome sometimes is just flat out enjoyable. But too much ‘enjoying’ resulted in a reality that I did not like. SO instead having ice cream 4 days a night I limit it to 1 on a non-pizza night. Instead of drowning my protein bar in PB I put it in the fridge so that it doesn’t need ‘something extra’ to make it more palatable.
  5. I still feed my insatiable appetite days before my cycle, but now I do so with the least amount of carbs & sugar with the most nutritional value. This little standard allowed me to make much better choices to satisfy without falling into the carbs & sugar addictive cycle.
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Purrty colors no?

Oddly enough the horrific wrist injury refocused me on nutrition because I knew my physical activities had to be highly curtail to accommodate my lack of mobility. I literally could not even walk on the treadmill because the vibration sent sharp shooting pain up my arm. Therefore without the reliance to ‘out-gym’ poor eating choices I was inadvertently forced back on track. As my wrist healed and I was able to slowly incorporate strength training again back into my cardio while being more proactive about my nutrition – not only did I not gain weight but lost. It was the first time this 3rd year of maintenance that I have regularly included strength training without gaining and I am elated.

I am back under 100 and 1.8 lbs from goal. I have been focusing on my shoulders and triceps and with the continued reduction in fat, I am finally seeing results.

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Happy 3rd Maintenance Anniversary to Me!

So thanks universe for my mishap on the elliptical to get back on track. hahaha

HB Sig

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Bit of Fiction: Defamiliarization [1200 words]

2015 9-14 BoF2

Beauty in the Mundane

Unattended toddlers were left to their own devices frolicking about on the zero entry side, screaming and running to the constant roar of the lifeguard whistle. Their mothers took refuge at a safe distance from their rambunctious mayhem and the toddlers’ safety was under the sole mercy of a teen lifeguard preoccupied with the female lifeguard in the two piece from across the way.

The group of ladies arranged their chairs in a semi circular motif which would lead one to believe that they were huddled around a campfire nursing s’mores on sticks, but they were not. They were all rather impeccably well-groomed, ages ranging from late 30s to early 40s. The quintessential suburban moms had their mandated uniforms and norms, which consisted of Lexus SUV’s, oversized Michael Kors or Coach Bags, and black Lululemon black leggings.The PTO extraordinaires, the Heisman trophy winners of bake sales had an air of superiority to them, especially when it came to crossing paths with mothers who chose to work outside of the home. It was just like the cliques in high school when all the cool girls united in their collective coolness deliberately alienating those deemed not worthy to be in the company of their embodied coolness. ‘I wasn’t cool back then either,’ Marisol thought to herself with mild amusement. She regrettably was particularly well dressed due to a meeting with potential clients. And it was with even more regret that she had to clickity clack right passed the gaggle of gossiping ladies in her Nine West faux leather pumps in order to reach the other side where the lap lanes were. Marisol could not help but internally cringe with every step as her heels like a full arsenal of Clydesdale galloping down the side, the sounds embarrassingly prolonged by echoing off the surrounding tiles. She was painfully aware of how overdressed she was and the cool girls were all too inclined to confirm her assumption with the head-to-toe once over inspection, which women are keen in doling out to disavow other women.

She sat a few paces beyond the group, just close enough to where the 8 year old were taking their weekly lessons to observe without getting wet. This week they were reviewing breathing techniques in the freestyle before progressing on to mastering the complicated butterfly. The instructor was wiggling her hand in the air to simulate the body movement in a butterfly when Marisol’s attention was abducted.

“Did you hear about Emma?” one of the mothers said out of the blue.

“Yeees, O-M-G how terrible! I feel just awful for the family. We should do something for them,” one of the mothers responded.

“I know! I can’t believe it” another chimed in.

“Yes that’s an excellent idea. Let’s create a drive for the family and ask for donations” another replied.

“Maybe we can start a fund called the Emma Fund where people can donate cash if they don’t have the time to shop?” yet another mother interjected.

Then without prompting all of the ladies said in unison enthusiastically,  “bake sale!” followed by an overzealous laughter, which bordered on cackling. The conversation quickly turned to depict every minutia detail of the status of little Bobby’s potty training. Dreadfully, exceedingly, vivid details of the frequency, consistency, and size of his stools were all contemptuously shared as if this particular toddler’s feces could cure cancer. Marisol was one of the two captive audience members, the other was a father looking increasingly uncomfortable by the conversation on hand.

When the conversation seemed to have lulled, a particularly heavy set woman asked the lanky one how long she had planned to breastfeed and before the poor woman could respond, a hell’s gate worth of declarations boomed uncontrollably from the other mothers.

“One year,” one said proudly.

“Eighteen months,” boasted the other.

“Almost two years, but then I had to stop because my nipples just couldn’t take the teething” another bragged followed by a sleuth of uh-huhs and head nods.

Yet another triumphantly declared, “I’m still breastfeeding mine and he will be turning 3 next month!”

An exuberant amount of accolades erupted, “great job,” “wow,” with the occasional “you’re such an awesome mom.” Marisol stifled a laugh and couldn’t help but to roll her eyes at the women’s correlation that the length of breastfeeding is some sort of definitive measure of how awesome a mother was. The incessant revelations filled Marisol with such disenchantment. Is this really the conversations of her fellow women? The never-ending and idle chatter about poop, nipples, and comparing the length of breastfeeding as if they were competing for a mother of the millennium badge of courage?

Marisol let out a small sigh. There were very few moments when the decision of returning to work after the birth of her twin sons haunted Marisol but there was always a lingering doubt within her, like that nagging feeling that the stove was left on rushing out of the house. Then when she was treated to conversations of this caliber, any residual doubts quickly abandoned her with haste. She allowed herself a minute to let the noise of the clucking hens fade from her mind. She inhaled deeply and tried to breath in the moment, to capture the mundane so as to not to take it for granted. The overbearing aroma of the chlorine, the intolerable humid stale recycled air of the enclosure, the thunderous splashing as the instructor unleashes the new batch of fish in their assigned lap lanes. All quite ordinary and yet special when a mother doesn’t spend every waking minute of every day with their children.

Marisol redirected her attention to her eldest by 37 seconds. She observed his effortless movement through the water. She marveled at his graceful glide gently parting the water from his path. Every stroke had a balletic fluidity, even the manner in which his hands cupped the water escalating his momentum forward was filled with elegance. He tilted his upper torso every other stroke to restock his lungs with oxygen and his legs fiercely propelled him without breaking the water’s surface. The water his arms thrust behind him looked like diamonds being carelessly tossed in the air.

Then Marisol casually scanned over to two lanes over to observe the youngest. His speed easily outpaced his brother but without any of the charisma, or the fluidity, or the grace. His limbs thrashed about wildly conjuring small tidal waves in his wake, dousing the neighboring lanes. He pummeled and trounced his way through the water; and on several occasions over the summer, Marisol had to thwart lifeguards’ rescue attempts by calling out, “NO he is not drowning! YES, I am sure he is not drowning. Yes, he does know how to swim. Yes, he did pass the deep end test. And no, it’s just not very pretty.” There’s a certain unorthodox spastic quality to his technique. Reminiscent of the bumblebee. Just as the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, he shouldn’t be able to move through the water at such a ferocious pace. But just like the non aerodynamic bumblebee, he defies all reasons and science and charges ahead of everyone in the class, every time.

Rong Rong Name Stamp