Thursday, May 31, 2012

May's Theme-Get Outdoors!

May's theme was outdoor/gardening.  And I got outside a LOT thanks to the warm weather!  I got the vegetable garden off to a great start and have been eating its lettuce, spinach, radishes, snow peas, kale and herbs nearly every day.  I got tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, edamame, carrots, turnips and flowers planted.  (I planted two huge patches of Zinnias, my favorite cut flower!)  The fenceline had been weeded, which was a HUGE pet peeve of mine, the paths and beds have been mulched and I finally stretched a hose along the outside of our yard so I have a water source AT the far end of the yard where the veg garden is.  So I've been watering regularly!

In the courtyard, I completed this dry-stack pillar to put my fountain on.  I got this great fountain at a church rummage sale! I've been enjoying this fountain, it's such a relaxing sound to here when you walk into this little garden area.  Behind the fountain you can see a lavender plant, which is blooming now, and I potted up some of the little baby plantlets it was putting out.  I'd love to have more patches of lavender  around the yard!
We hiked at Starved Rock, and I've been walking the dog more in order to get him in better show shape.  We've grilled out and I've been biking to work frequently since my new bike is such a joy to ride.  To get some of my coworkers outside I started an Adult Recess afternoon trip to the park!  We played giant frisbee and made up a game to see how many throws it would take us to get it all the way across the park.  20 throws!

The weather makes me want to get outside and wear spring dresses!  Here's one I wore to my niece's wedding. (spot the corgi)
I went to Old Navy hoping for a few spring dresses and all they had were hideous maxi-dresses and really terrible beachy halter-top sundresses.  Anyone know where a girl can get some cute dresses for cheap?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Weight Loss Story: 2000-2009

When we left off, I was around 240 pounds.  When did I decide to do something about it?  I didn't, really.  In 2003 I joined a gym, mainly because it was a perk of my husband's work and I love free things. I attended an orientation and got my membership card but felt like I didn't have even the minimum level of fitness needed to work out in public so I didn't go. I decided that before I attempted working out at the gym, I needed to build up to that base level at home. I tracked the number of days/month that I worked out, doing mainly Denise Austin's Daily Workout and Fit and Light that I taped off the tv onto VHS!  I also taped (and still Tivo) Wai Lana Yoga.

Here is a sampling of my workouts for 2003
May-12 days
June-11 days
July-18 days
August-9 days
September-10 days

I continued tracking like that through 2005 and in 2006 I joined the Discovery Health Channel's Body Challenge, which I had seen on tv. One thing you should know about me is that I LOVE a challenge! Anything with rules and levels and points and prizes, I am ALL about it!  Following that, the gym that I had VERY rarely gone to (mainly to walk on the treadmill in bad weather) hosted a fitness challenge that I decided to join. The program was called Inferno and it was based on % of body fat lost as well as bonus points for food journaling, attending classes, etc.  I came in 3rd, going from 40.2% to 37.2% in 2 months! And I had lost 20 pounds total and was down to 223. It had gotten me into the gym and I started taking classes like Step and Pure Energy (an aerobic dance class). That challenge and the support I got from the gym staff was really what motivated me to stay on track and continue on the long road to health!

The program at the gym got me started thinking about not only my physical activity but also what I was eating with a couple of nutritional seminars where I learned to read food labels and compare that to my body's daily needs. I started tracking my food on Fitday but was not really following any eating plan or even really striving for any nutritional goals. Many of my entries include Taco Bell, milkshakes, diner food, Totino's pizzas, soda, and huge portions (3 cups of potato soup!, 1/2 large pizza, 4 biscuits with cheese and jelly). Writing down what you eat and when helps you realize what you're eating and maybe why but it doesn't really tell you NOT to eat it and I hadn't yet decided to get on board with healthy eating. Luckily I was heavy enough that just exercise was enough to drop pounds in the first couple of years.

In 2006 we adopted Sully and that got me started on outdoor exercise.  I walked him at least twice a day and after I mastered long walks, I wanted to tackle running!  I had seen other people do it so I tried it, made it less than a block, hated it.  I didn't try again for 3 years.  But I did keep walking, doing yoga, going to gym classes and  playing Dance Dance Revolution at home.

In 2007 I walked my first 5K. And I didn't really like it! My friend said I had the wrong shoes, my laces kept coming untied and although I walked with the dog twice a day I hadn't really done any speed walking to prepare and I pushed a little too hard.  Later in 2007 and early 2008 I got complacent (and busy) and had a slight gain, which I maintained through most of 2008.  I knew I wasn't at my end point but I wasn't keeping up my exercise and I wasn't yet eating properly.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but after seeing the scale creep up and those pounds I had worked hard to shed coming back, I decided to buckle down and get serious.  I needed a goal, something with clear, measurable milestones.  Running was perfect because you can run x miles in x minutes and have a very clear record of your progress.  In 2009 I did the Couch to 5K program in order to start running.    And in November 2009 I ran my first all running 5K.

I reached another milestone in 2009. I got under (and have stayed under) 200 pounds!  2009 marked the beginning of more seriously considering not only physical activity but also what I put into my body.  I started tracking my food on SparkPeople and got more involved in that community.  At this point I was mainly concentrating on measuring in order to get familiar with regular portion sizes and eating more whole grains and less junk food.  That's not to say I wasn't eating junk because I was a fan of Hungry Girl and her low-calorie but still-junky-food alternatives and recipes.  I also started working through the different levels of the President's Active Lifestyle Awards and another challenge at our gym.

Next up:  I stop eating junk and start fueling my body for even more serious physical activity!

*Note* How do I know all this? No, I don't have an amazing memory.  I have kept a paper log, sporadically, throughout this entire process.  It's nowhere near complete but I am happy for the information I did write down. It really helps to see where I've came from, in black and white. Not just as some abstract concept of "I was fat" but to know that my body fat % has come down from 40.2% to 26.3%!  As a goal-oriented person, it is so crucial for me to be able to quantify and measure my successes and know that I am winning!

Monday, May 28, 2012

My Weight Loss Story: Birth-2000

Last picture of me on a bike until 201
This series of posts has been in the works for a long time.   When I set out to write my weight loss story, it started out like I'm sure a lot of these stories do.  I typed up the opening words  "I was heavy as a kid. I hated sports and loved sweets."  I had always thought of myself as fat and I presumed that I had always been fat.  Imagine my surprise when I picked out pictures to scan in and add to my story and found that I WASN'T ALWAYS FAT!  I could not believe it, I was seriously flabbergasted.  My whole life, I had looked through these same photo albums and I had seen pictures of a fat person, the person I felt like and thought I was and had always been.  It became clear looking at these photos that until I was around 8 years old, I was a completely normal weight.  But somehow, when I looked at these pictures, I had seen myself as fat. 

I'm in the hot pink pants.
4th grade school picture at my new school
Why???  I started to wrack my brain for events that happened in 1988.  It was before we moved and I had to change schools.  It was, from my recollection, a completely unremarkable year.  Until I brought it up to my mom.  And she matter-of-factly said that I was completely normal until I had my tonsils out and after that I gained weight and stayed overweight.  My mom and sister are overweight so as I grew and maintained a normal weight, she said they were so relieved.  Until the surgery.  (What's up with tonsillectomy and weight gain?  Doctors aren't sure but there IS a correlation, which doesn't mean that it causes it but something about having your tonsils out can predispose you to having a higher BMI afterward.)  Then when we moved and I changed schools, I was already overweight, made less friends and I'm sure that just made the problem worse. 

In high school, I went vegetarian (and then vegan for a little while) but not for health reasons.  I lost a bit of weight, but not really by trying and not in a very healthy way and I certainly wasn't getting any exercise.  I was a pizza and cake vegetarian, I wasn't eating meat but I was still eating a lot of junk. In college, I continued to eat junk (of course!) but I did something kind of strange for a college freshman-I got married! We ate poorly together, both out of habit and out of monetary necessity and I gained a bit more weight.  In 2000, I weighed around 240 pounds.

Part 1 Wrap-Up:  Finding out that I was not always fat has been a revelation to me.  I JUST found this out though, already well into my weight loss journey, but I think it has helped me with the mental aspects of weight loss.  To know that I was not predestined to be fat from birth was a revelation.   I was not fated or doomed to be overweight from the very beginning.  It's not the inevitable weight my body is set to be.  Instead of seeing fat as the way my body IS, a static condition that has always existed, I now see my weight as a change in my body (that has continued to happen over the years, both positive and negative).  And I can influence that change myself through my choices instead of letting my inaction determine what it will be. 

Next up,  Part 2-When I start doing something about it.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

K9 Kamp Challenge 1

Our first challenge for k9 Kamp was "Walking on Sunshine" requiring us to walk at least 1 hour total this past week.  I'm happy to say we did it!

Sunday-We took a family walk for 20 minutes around our neighborhood and picked up trash while we were at it.
Wednesday-Sully and I took a pm walk for 20 minutes.  That morning we also went to the dog training club for our weekly Open obedience session and did smashing!
Friday-Sully and I took a 20 minute am walk before I left for the gym. He LOVES morning walks since it's so much cooler and he does get hot quite easily.

I thought we would blow that 1 hour minimum out of the water but I was surprised how challenging it was finding the time for just these three walks!  Will have to work on scheduling walks into the weekly schedule so they don't get forgotten.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Starved Rock

We took a trip recently to Starved Rock State Park and had a great time.  It's only a couple of hours drive from us but we had never been there.   I can assure you, we will be going back!  Illinois is a very flat place but to the north and south of us there are places where you can find hills, valleys and canyons and I'd love to see them all at some point.  I've been to Shawnee/Garden of the Gods and Giant City down south and now I've been to Starved Rock up north.

We stayed at Starved Rock Inn, a very small motel that is related to the Lodge in the park but a few miles away.  I thought it was cute, but I can see why some reviews say it is a bit small and outdated.  Check out the backwoods feel of the front door to our room, #3 of 8 rooms in this roadside motel-type building.
Our room was standard, included a tv, coffee maker and was nicely decorated.  Inn guests have access to the pool, sauna and hot tub at the Lodge, which is a nice perk that we took advantage of.  The only issue was that the wifi did not work in our room, but worked in the parking lot.  Intermittently.
We took a trolley tour to different waterfalls.  The trolley took us to each trail where we would hike for a bit and end up at up at a waterfall!  Our guide was wonderful, she answered all of our questions and had great tidbits of information about the park.
We also visited the Illinois Waterway Visitor's Center where we saw the lock on the river and also the island where the Bald Eagles live.  The eagles are only around in the winter though, so no eagle sightings for us.

The art around the lodge is fun to check out.  I liked this one because it includes a turkey!  What other animals can you find?
The lodge is a great mammoth of a building, built by the WPA.  We had lunch there after the trolley tour and enjoyed the views from the back decks and the wonderful woodwork and furniture indoors. 

Highlights: Climbing a big sand hill and scrambling up into the cave where the bodies of three women were found in 1960.  I found Sunny Seeds at the little store by the Inn, yum!  We gawked and shopped at Hy-Vee, which we don't have down here.  Doing laps in the pool and then relaxing in the HOT hot tub.  A pretty tasty dinner at Uptown Grill followed up with some cookies from their bakery case.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New bike

Thanks to my brother, who knows FAR more about bikes than I do, I have a new-to-me bike!  While I will miss my old blue bike this bike is WAY easier for me to ride.  You can see the huge difference in size when they are side by side.  I am pretty tall and old blue was just way too short, even with seat and handlebars completely extended.  The new bike made her debut on Bike to Work day and a bit of rain that day quickly made fenders #1 on my personalizations to add.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

K9 Kamp

K9 Kamp combines two of my favorite things, fitness and my dog!  I heard about this series of challenges via Pooch to 5K and thought it sounded like a fun way to start the spring show season!  Sully doesn't need to lose any weight, he is perfectly fit and trim right now, but he could use some endurance training in order to be able to withstand show weekends.  It's quite a stretch to go from 10-15 minute training sessions every 4-5 days (with only 3-5 jumps each session) to our ramped-up pre-show schedule of practicing the entire set of exercises for whatever class we're entering every 2-3 days.  Add to that weekends of stressful travel, lots of waiting around and the stress of the ring (passed down the leash from me) and he gets winded, pants and yawns and LAGS. 

My doggy events schedule this spring/summer looks like this:
June 2-practice match-Open
June 3-practice match-Open
June 9&10-AKC trial-Open
June 22-4-H show (not a Sully event)
June 22-30-Vacation (Sully being boarded)
July 14-practice match-Open and rally level 2&3
July 28&29-APDT Rally level 2&3

So we'll be completing all 4 challenges given by Kelly and Koly in addition to extending our long walks and adding more jumps into each training session to build stamina.  And of course, I can always use more exercise, especially any activity that gets me out into the great weather we're having!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Town and Country Art Show

Surprise!  One of my pieces for awarded a blue ribbon!  The reception and critique is on Saturday, I'm so excited to hear the comments on mine and other winners.   And I get to advance on to the state Town and Country Art Show!
This was one of my favorite pieces in the show.  It's a ceramic sculpture and my first thought was how nice it would look in the garden!  Note that this piece was awarded a red ribbon.  That doesn't mean that mine was first and this one second, this show awards blue and red ribbons based on merit with no quota for the number of ribbons they give out.  I didn't count but it seemed like about 1 in every 8-10 pieces had a ribbon.
Here's my other felt piece.  It didn't get a ribbon but it was quite nicely displayed on this pedestal on a stand all to itself.
And my table runner looked pretty cute flanked by these mobiles!  I enjoyed looking over all the art in the show, some was really fantastic, especially some of the drawings and paintings by kids.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Am I an Artist?-April's Theme

April's Theme was Creativity.  I wanted to try and make something or work on a project every day in April.  And for the most part, I did.  I kept busy working on several projects including this year's crochet doily for the fair.  Someone from church suggested I donate a piece or two to Artist Against Aids (in it's 20th year here in Champaign) and I balked at first. I had always thought that show was for "real" artists and I've never thought of myself as an artist.  Crafter, yes.  But real artist with art that people would pay money for?  Not so much.  But she insisted that there were all kinds of things at the show each year, not just framed hanging art or gorgeous pottery but also smaller things and utilitarian items.  So I looked around my craft room for a few things I could take and came up with 4 doilies, 2 pair of earrings, 2 miniature cakes and a candle holder.  I was so excited when I picked up my stuff after the show and found that I had ended up selling a doily and the candle holder!

As one of my goals for April, I wanted to create and enter at least one piece in the Town and Country Amateur Art Show for the very first time.  Though this show is specifically for amateurs, I still have never thought of myself as enough of an artist to create and submit a piece.  I take things to the fair every year, but the fair is different because fair judges assess technique and skill, cleanliness and how well you adhere to standards like stitch size and uniformity or how well you've chosen colors or materials.  At the fair, you can bring things from patterns or kits and you are judged on how well you MADE those items.  At an art show, it has to be your original work and you are judged on.....I don't really know!  Artistic merit?  Decorative value?  We'll find out, because I created not one but three original pieces and submitted them.  The show will run May 5-19 with a public critique by the judging panel on the 19th.

The first piece is actually a table runner but I hung it like a banner.  It's an improv-style quilt of solids.  The fabrics are mostly cottons but I also snuck in a few velvets and satins for variety.

This is a felt and beadwork piece of textile art with some embroidery and couching. 

And this one is felt and couched yarn with a cotton border.  I was really in a penny-rug mood in case you couldn't tell!

This is me, looking fairly artistic.  I'm wearing an awesome fez I got at an estate sale.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Protein Powder Review #10 Vega Sport

Vega Sport-This is a stevia sweetened vegan performance protein.And it tastes horrendous.  It tastes like bitter greens or broccoli, sweetened and liquefied.  It was horrible.  It was about the same chalkiness as Spirutein, so not terrible in that respect.  I mixed it with almond milk in a shaker bottle and it mixed cleanly.  It has a lot of good-for-you stuff in there.  But I wanted to vomit after three sips.  I also blended the vanilla into a banana-blueberry-cocoa powder smoothie and it was drinkable but it still tasted very hemp-y and overly stevia-sweetened.

Calories per scoop:120
Protein per scoop: 26g
Carbs per scoop: 6g
Vega Sport vanilla-Tastes like sweetened vanilla weeds, straight from the garden so they still have some dirt on them.  The picture above is seriously the face I made when drinking it. "Earthy" is what some people call it.  And I can taste the stevia's bitter aftertaste, which means they either used a nasty stevia product with a bad aftertaste or they used too much.  I use stevia all the time and this tastes like what happens when you accidentally dump too much stevia powder into a smoothie.

$51.99 for 22 servings=$2.36 per serving 10 cents per gram of protein

Overall Rating: Grind (3 out of 10) Pricey and NASTY!  But at least the ingredient list is good, unlike Go-Tein (my only other 3 out of 10 so far), which is not only nasty tasting but also has terrible ingredients that I wouldn't want to drink.  I wanted to drink this, I just couldn't.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Last night at Fit Club we did the Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit DVD.  I read up online beforehand so I knew what to expect, and this was TOUGH!  In the beginning of April I had a really terrible step aerobics class where I felt dizzy and weak and sick.  I had eaten poorly the day before and was probably also dehydrated but I secretly worried it was the vegan challenge doing it.  Any worries I had about having less energy on a vegan diet have been completely dispelled because I ROCKED this workout!  (and every workout since that terrible step class as well)  It almost makes me want to invest in the set.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Protein Powder Review #9 Spiru-Tein

Spiru-Tein- These have a blend of non-GMO rice protein, pea protein, and both non-fermented and fermented soy protein. The ingredient list is pretty long thanks to the added vitamins and they are sweetened with fructose. These are pretty high in carbs so they're more of a meal replacement than a protein powder. They do offer a Simply Natural line of unsweetened mixes that have only 5g carbs per scoop but haven't tried them.  Note that Spiru-tein is NOT vegan because it contains bee pollen.  Here's a great post at Peas and Thank You about vegan protein powders.

Calories per scoop:100
Protein per scoop: 14g
Carbs per scoop: 11g

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl-I mixed this with water even though the directions say milk or juice. This was still drinkable, but chalky. Less chalky than Sun Warrior but more chalky than Nutribiotic Rice Protein. Hardly any peanut butter flavor, mostly like chocolate.
Cookies and Cream-I made this flavor into protein cheesecake minis and they were delicious!  (Note-this recipe was made before April so it was not vegan.)

Vanilla- Good vanilla flavor, a little artificial and a little sweet but it makes a good addition to recipes like protein balls or protein cookies, and is great in smoothies!
Chocolate- Light chocolate flavor, this was great in smoothies with blueberries and frozen banana.  I also used it in a no bake protein cookie and it wasn't chalky at all.

$16.35 for 16 servings=$1.02 per serving or 7 cents per gram of protein

Overall Rating: Whip (6 out of 10)  This powder worked great in recipes and comes in a TON of great flavor. I wish they had more of their awesome flavors available with less sugar so I am rating it a smidge below Nutribiotic.