|January 09, 2013||Fooducate - my favorite new app||no comments|
|December 31, 2012||A healthier 2013, continued||no comments|
|December 12, 2012||iPod-less at the gym||no comments|
|November 26, 2012||Oh, Thanksgiving...||no comments|
|November 14, 2012||It's been a while...||no comments|
|October 14, 2012||Huzzah!||no comments|
|September 11, 2012||I read at the gym. So what?||1 comments|
|August 15, 2012||Hitting the reset button||no comments|
|July 19, 2012||Can you teach yourself to be a morning person?||no comments|
|July 09, 2012||Ultimate goal: get skinny, or get fit?||no comments|
I got a new phone recently, and one of the first things I did was search for new healthy lifestyle apps.
Hands down, the best one I've found so far is Fooducate. It's available for iPhone and Android, and it was free when I downloaded it – and I think it's still free.
Basically, it sums up the nutritional info for you quickly with a grade, and then it tells you why it received that grade. All you have to do is use your phone to scan the bar code and, voila, up pops the information.
What you learn may surprise you.
For example, Greek yogurt is a favorite for me, and lately I've really loved Yoplait's 100 calorie fruity Greek yogurt. But according to Fooducate, while it's lower in calories and sugar than other kinds, it's highly processed, and that's not always good for you, either.
It pays to scan even the foods you think are "healthy" – many of them contain controversial additives, yucky dyes and other things you do not want to consume.
One of my favorite reviews was, actually, for Oreos, which scored a B-. The app warns against the bad factors, like the high sugar content, the high fructose corn syrup, etc. So why does it score a B-? Basically, as the app says, "You could do a lot worse." The app suggests keeping to the serving size – three cookies – for a once-in-a-while treat.
It's the nice doses of common sense that make Fooducate worth your time.
I also downloaded LoseIt!, which will track my food and exercise. I was using MyFitnessPal but decided I was ready for a change. I haven't used LoseIt! much yet but I'll let y'all know how I like it too.
What healthy living apps do you use?
As you’ll see in tomorrow (Tuesday)’s Daily Journal, I wrote a column about healthy living tips for those who have made a new year’s resolution to get healthy.
I don’t have a ton of space in the paper, so I thought I’d continue on here.
As I said in the paper, I am NOT a doctor. But I’ve lost some weight, and kept it off, in nearly two years’ time, and here are some tips that helped me.
• Measure how much you’ve lost in terms of inches, not just pounds.
Speaking of that, you can’t target one specific problem area and lose all of the weight there (otherwise my arms would look totally different, trust me). That’s up to your body. You can, however, tone certain areas, and make them look a bit more fit/muscular. But that doesn’t mean you will lose weight there.
Don’t stress over that.
• One good way of looking at changing your diet is this: don’t think about the things you’re taking away, but the things you’re adding in.
It’s not that you’re never going to eat a cookie again – it’s that you’re going to eat so many more fresh fruits. It’s not that you’re never going to enjoy a bowl of pasta again, but that you’ll eat so many more fresh veggies or foods not bogged down in disgusting oil and grease. Happy swaps, not off-limits foods.
• Tips for a happy gym experience:
- good workout shoes are a must.
- I have to have good workout music, but bring anything in the gym that helps you get through a workout if you don’t have much motivation.
- go to the gym when you have lots of time and don’t feel like you’re in such rush.
– I hate looking at the clocks on machines like treadmills or ellipticals, so I’ll use a book, magazine, iPod, whatever, to cover it up so I’m not focusing on how many more minutes to go.
- as someone who suffers from social anxiety (weird coming from a reporter, I know, but I really don’t handle social situations that well) – please don’t be self-concious in the gym. I know I barely notice those around me when I’m working out, other than to make sure I’m not in someone else’s way. Don’t worry if your workout clothes don’t match, if you haven’t shaved your legs in a week or if you are or aren’t wearing make-up. If anyone else notices, then they aren’t working out very hard, now are they?
On a similar note: a gym is a place where you should feel comfortable getting sweaty. Visit a few before you pick one. Ladies, consider a women-only gym. I did, and I love it.
Also, I went into my gym with the mind-set that I wasn’t there to make new friends. I’ve kept to myself and been pleasant with a few of the folks who are in there with me, but I don’t go out of my way to be chatty (some of that goes back to the social anxiety, though). I’m there to get a work out, and that’s all. But if you need an exercise buddy, get one – sometimes having that other person there will help you roll out of bed and into the gym if you know they’re there waiting on you.
• I kind of mentioned this in the column, but I didn’t want to go into much detail... but trust me, y’all, if you don’t eat fried foods or really sugary foods for a while – basically get your body used to healthy foods – and then you have it again, your body will rebel. It will protest. It will make you wish you’d never seen a french fry, a candy bar, pasta or anything else that’s pure crap for your body. At best, you’ll feel slimy and sluggish and your energy level will drop. At worst, all of that will happen AND you’ll get a sick stomach.
It’s gross, but true. It also helps keep you on track. When you have the option of having veggies and feeling great, or having a greasy burger and fries and feeling like death, you best believe you will choose the healthier option.
Example: I used to LOVE pasta, but I have had very little of it since being diagnosed as pre-diabetic. I’ve had it maybe twice in the last 18 months and I’ve gotten sick after each meal. No more for me. Yuck.
• That being said, yes: I feel unbelievably great when I eat well and exercise regularly. I have an annoying amount of energy. I feel that incredible rush of runner’s high when I run a lot. Sometimes after Zumba or a clogging class, I’m in such a good mood I almost want to punch myself. You will get addicted to that feeling. It gets better.
• This one is kind of two-fold...
Losing weight isn’t physical: it’s mental.
It will mess with your head.
That’s probably a good thing. I didn’t realize until I started this that I’m definitely a stress eater.
But the thing is, I don’t know how to fix that or stop that.
And that teaches me that I don’t have all of the answers.
Losing weight has also taught me that I have body image issues. What I see in my head and what shows up in the mirror do not match up; I think that’s true for a lot of folks. I don’t know how to fix that, either.
I’m not sure because I’ve never joined, but I’m pretty sure programs like Weight Watchers allow you to talk about these issues. I’m sure that helps.
What I do know is that I love feeling my body get stronger and feeling better, so I’m going to keep doing what I need to do to make that get better. If my jeans size decreases or I can buy a medium instead of an XXL, then alrighty. But I feel better, and that’s what really matters.
• I kind-of hate to include this, but I wish I’d known this beforehand, so I’d be ready to deal: losing weight changes how some people treat you.
When you’re overweight, most people treat you as basically invisible, if they’re not being flat-out rude to you.
You lose a bunch of weight, and suddenly, people will treat you differently.
Some will be jealous and will give you back-handed compliments.
Ladies, some guys will be disgusting pigs and will try to hit on you or give you those yucky head-to-toe looks.
Basically, let all of this roll off your shoulders. Don’t listen to anybody else.
The best folks in your life will encourage you. Just keep listening to them. They’re right: you’re doing great, and you can do it.
• I’m all for giving yourself rewards when you hit gym or weight loss goals, but the best ones are the ones you didn’t expect.
For example: last year I was told my eyes actually improved, because I got my sugar under control.
This past year, I hit every single fitness goal in the Journal’s health screening.
Those were surprises for me, and those were the best surprises yet. When you get healthy, you’ll be surprised at how it benefits literally every part of your body.
• Weight loss doesn’t happen overnight.
You’ll probably gain here and there, or maybe gain some back.
You’ll definitely hit a plateau, the most frustrating thing ever.
But here’s my main point in all of this rambling I’ve done: WEIGHT LOSS IS POSSIBLE.
I never thought it was, but it is. I had doctors and others tell me I couldn’t – but I did.
I started this blog more than a year ago to talk about how fun and frustrating and insane losing weight can be. I think I’ve needed to, because I like to think I’m not alone in this.
You’re not, either. If you want to talk, hit me back on here or email me (email@example.com).
I’ve done it for about 55 pounds. I still have about 20 more to go. Go with me, yeah?
I wrote a column a week or so ago mourning the death of my iPod.
It wasn't so much the death of my iPod as it was the death of all of the extensive playlists I had on it. Gone, too, is my workout playlist. All nearly 200 songs, poof, gone.
And I'm the kind of person that if I don't have my music, I feel like I can't work out. It's been so bad that it even has to be the right song, the right beat, the right lyrics – yeah, that's how bad my motivation's been.
I dreaded going to the gym without it, but it's actually worked out pretty well. I try to stay in the main gym area, where you can hear the music over the gym's speakers – which is sometimes pretty good music. I'm still running, I've gotten back into circuit (which was always awkward/practically impossible to do with an iPod and headphones) and I found the jump ropes at my gym. So yeah, jumping rope – I think it's working! I haven't stepped on a scale in a while, so I'm not sure. But right before my iPod died, I'd gained about 5 pounds during Thanksgiving, and since going iPod-less at the gym I've lost those 5. So, woo.
If you want to shake up your workout, try going without your workout playlist, or whatever you typically listen to while you're working out. You'll need to change your routine, and that's a good thing.
So I wasn't perfect on Thanksgiving.
I had all the turkey, all the ham, all the dressing, all the sweet potatoes, all of the yummy marbled white chocolate cheesecake I'd made.
Then, there were the leftovers, and the um...several... Christmas tree cakes I consumed. (pro tip: it's not exactly healthy to "reward" yourself with a Christmas tree cake for every time you do something "Christmasy")
So, naturally, the number on the scale has gone up over the weekend. I expected it to, as much as I ate and as unhealthfully as I ate.
But what's weird? I feel slimmer. My clothes fit a little looser.
Yet the scale says I gained.
What's up with that?
I'll never understand this weight loss thing, really.
Oh well. Back to eating better and staying at the gym – oh, and lots of clogging. My clogging group, based out of Amory, will be performing in several Christmas parades. We're dancing in Tupelo's parade as well as all of the ones in Monroe County. If you see us, say hello!
A month, exactly – eek! Sorry!
I was doing better, losing a teensy bit of weight – and then Halloween happened. As usual, I went to New Orleans with my best friends, and yeah...several bags of candy and Cafe du Monde happened. So yeah. I'm back to where I was, still maintaining.
And I'd kind of resolved to try to just maintain now through the holidays. It was this time last year that I kinda fell off the wagon – I had real sugar! I had white bread! I had fried foods! – because, hey, it's Thanksgiving, hey, it's Christmas. And those aren't just one day a month, oh no, everybody has to celebrate at least one other time, whether it's with friends or folks at work. So yeah. It's hard to eat healthfully when you can't really plan your menu as carefuly as you typically do, and it's hard to eat healthfully when you kind of... have to eat someone else's food so you won't be considered rude? Hey, this is the South, after all.
But I'm still going to Zumba, still taking clogging lessons, still trying to hit the gym as much as possible and avoid the obviously terrible things for me.
It's work in progress.
Speaking of that, I read this column yesterday and it had a huge impact on me. If you want to lose weight, or you have lost weight, it's a must-read.
Some of her views are a bit defeatist for me, but then again, if she's yo-yo dieted for a while now, I can understand how she believes weight loss is most likely not permanent.
But she makes an important point that really hit home with me. She said before, when she was obese, her weight made her invisible. Now that she's a size 12, she said, people feel they can comment about her body to her – folks will tell her she's fat, etc.
AMEN TO THIS.
This has been one thing that's really shocked me since I went from a size 16 to a size 10: people talk to me about my body all the time. They never did before. It was almost taboo, you could tell. If someone had to say something about what I was wearing, etc., they'd sugarcoat it or say something quickly and move on.
Now, it's almost a daily thing. Most people – even if I see them every single day – say something nice. And that's nice to hear. But my pet peeve is when people tell me I'm "wasting away" or "getting skinny!" when I've basically stayed within 10 pounds of my current weight for much of 2012.
And there are, of course, the rare person who's like, HA, you're still overweight. So yeah, even if you have a nice comment or a not-so-nice comment about your body... people are still talking about your body.
If I thought I was self-concious before, man, I really am now. That's something I didn't expect.
So, here I am, still where I was, weight-wise, and about to go into the holidays.
I'm thankful that I've been able to come as far as I have. I'm thankful for those who've been kind and encouraged me. I'm thankful for the yummy – and sometimes healthy, sometimes not – food I'm going to have in the next two months.
But I hope I can keep my momentum up. This path sure ain't easy. Wish me luck.
Sometimes, it's easy to forget why I even started on this whole weight loss journey to begin with.
Making healthy choices, going to the gym, reading nutrition labels – all of that's come second-nature now that more than a year has passed. But the last few months still haven't been exactly stellar, as I've maintained for several months and still have 20 pounds to go before my doctor will say I'm finally "healthy." (I must admit, it didn't help that I found the most perfect cookie recipe ever to exist a few months ago, and my friends request them on the regular. How can I say no to those?)
But I got good news this past week. Each year we have health screenings at work, and you have to pass four big tests: you must abstain from smoking/using nicotine, your cholesterol must be good, you have to have good blood pressure and your BMI must be 28.5 or below.
I don't smoke, I have yet to get my cholesterol results back (but it was good last year, so here's hoping) and my blood pressure was good.
Even better – my BMI was right at 28.
I've never gotten that achievement on these tests; in fact, I've never been told I'm below a 30. Granted, I'm not out of the woods: the handy-dandy sheet the nurse gave me said there are three levels of BMI: "not much risk," "caution needed" and "danger! you are at risk!" and right now I'm right at "caution needed." Hey, it's better than where I was two years ago – closer to 40 – and better than the 30 I got last year.
Assuming my cholesterol comes back fine, I'll have passed all four tests. Huzzah!
I've always heard you're not supposed to read at the gym. The reason being, if your eyes stay glued to the page, your body probably isn't moving enough.
I have never really read at the gym until the last few weeks, and I'm kind of digging it.
In between the one or two Zumba classes I can make it to, I'm stuck using the regular gym equipment for my workouts, and I've been beyond bored with them.
Nothing has worked. I've tried intervals, different music, etc.
So finally I decided I'd bring in my Nook – last resort. And, lo and behold, I stayed on the elliptical for 30 minutes. Stayed on the treadmill for 30 minutes. I wasn't bored or rolling my eyes before I even hit the five-minute mark.
And I feel like I'm getting a good work out. My mind isn't wandering or wondering when my 30 or 45 minutes or whatever is up.
I'm adding in a bit of circuit or strength machines to this, so my nose isn't stuck in the Nook the entire time I'm at the gym. But it is helping me keep my million-miles-an-hour mind busy while my body is working out, and I really needed that.
Just finished up one book the other night and started on the next. More on those at the Scene Now blog soon.
Also, here's another fun way I'm (about to start) working out: clogging.
I took clogging lessons for more than 10 years, and during my teens, my dance group, the Bonnie Todd Cloggers, danced just about everywhere. If you lived in North Mississippi between, basically, 1993-2001, you probably saw us perform at festivals, fairs, parades or other events.
It's been more than 10 years since I took a clogging class, and a little less since I performed anywhere. But this Thursday I'm going to my first clogging class with a new teacher. I'm excited. With my weird and busy schedule, I'm hoping I can keep up the pace. I'm in much better shape than I was in high school (when clogging was my only source of a workout), so I'm hoping I can hold my own.
At the same time, I also completely tore up one of my knees clogging, and it still gives me pain. Here's hoping I can whip it back in shape in time to dance at a Christmas parade or two this winter!
So, did I ever learn to become a morning person?
Have I lost any more weight?
Yeah. I tried waking up in the mornings but my body was having none of that. I am a night owl, through and through.
And have I lost any more weight? Actually, I've gained about 5 pounds. Thanks to lots of Elvis events – which equals many late nights for me – I didn't work out almost at all last week, and I ate when I could, so I ate poorly. I was surprised how quickly I fell back into old habits.
So, I gained. I'm trying to be better this week – way more Greek yogurt, way less fried stuff.
I'm trying to get my metabolism going, because it's basically not. I haven't been sleeping well – late nights early mornings x nightmares = no good sleep for Sheena – so I know that's part of the problem, too.
But I think I sort of needed to hit this restart button on things, and try – yet again, and hopefully successfully this time – to get rid of these last 20 pounds.
So when I work out, it's usually late at night. By "late at night" I mean anytime after 8 p.m. I've gone in as early as late afternoon but also gone in as late as midnight.
I like going in at night, because the work outs let me get rid of any stress from the day.
But thanks to a weird work schedule that often includes late assignments, the occassioal date, etc., I think I need to move my work outs to the a.m. part of the day. It's hard to get to the gym when you've worked an especially long day and you don't get home from an assignment til 10 p.m. or later, or something like that.
Here's the thing: I am NOT a morning person. I can't stress that enough.
So how do you become one?
It's hard to even get up in the morning; I am close, close friends with the snooze button. So how do you a) get up and b) get active?
I'm going to try to force myself to get up next week and just give it a try... we'll see how it goes.
Weekend ephiphany: there is a huge difference in working out and eating well to get skinny, and working out and eating well to get fit and healthy.
The very end of this month marks one year of my healthful journey. As I've said before, basically my first six months were incredibly efficient. These last 6? Not so much.
For the first six months I was amazed at how much better I felt: I had more energy, I slept better, my mood improved. The falling clothing sizes was just a plus.
Then, for some reason, after Christmas I started focusing more on how I looked. Maybe it's because, suddenly, it's like everyone else was focusing on that, too. Instead of focusing on how I felt, I focused on what the scale said. If my jeans felt even a teeny bit tighter than normal, man, I'd hate myself and get depressed. Even though my energy level has dropped to nothing, I paid it no mind and instead focused on how my body looked.
Yeah. I've gotta stop that.
If there's anything I've learned in this journey, it's that you have to listen to your body. And it's more important to me to feel better than to look better. Feeling fit feels so much better than looking good but feeling horrible.
For the first six months, I ate food to fuel my body. I carefully chose what I ate to give my body what it needed to work. But for these last six months, I ate healthfully...but I gave in to (healthy!) cravings. I wouldn't have, say, a bunch of fruit because it was healthy but more because I was craving it. Not exactly smart.
So I'm back to eating to fuel my body, my workout and my life. No more giving in to silly cravings.
New mindset, whee!