Friday, March 26, 2010

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.”

"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got.” I don’t know who said this first and I am feeling too lazy to google it. This quote is one of those things that sounds super smart, but really, it’s basic logic and pretty obvious.

In light of my lack of success losing any weight over the last two months, I feel like this quote is really speaking to me. A little over three years ago, I lost a decent amount of weight. For the next three years, I worked out, ate well for the most part and maintained my loss. I even managed to lose an extra 5 lbs. Of course, I wanted to lose more, but seemed to be stuck in a rut of losing 2, gaining 2. Last Thanksgiving, I joined Weight Watchers at Work. I had always followed WW and knew I wasn’t going to learn any huge new thing at the meetings, but joined because I thought the accountability would help. Turns out, it did! I lost 8.5 lbs from Thanksgiving to January. I was ecstatic.

Then I went on vacation and gained it back. When I went to lose it again, I found myself stuck. Beginning of the week, I was motivated and sure I was ready to lose. Mid-week, I’d be down a couple of lbs. and be feeling good. End of the week, I’d splurge on a treat or two and those lost of couple of lbs. had found their way back. Repeat week. I started to become frustrated and wonder why I couldn’t lose the weight like I had in December. When I dug deep and really thought about it, it’s because I went back to what I always did: just enough to stay right where I was, not losing or gaining.

During December, I stuck to WW every single day. Weekends were harder, but I remember thinking, “Yes, I made it to Monday again without falling off.” I counted everything that went in my mouth and passed on anything that wasn’t good for you. I worked out every day and did not cheat. When I think about why I was able to maintain that level of commitment then and not now, I definitely credit the weekly WW meetings. Here’s why:

Accountability. I knew I was weighing in every Thursday. I felt accountable and it made me think twice before eating something unhealthy. I constantly asked, “Is it worth it?”

I am Super-Competitive. While I wanted everyone at my work to lose weight, I wanted to do the best. Before breaking down and eating that cookie, I would think, is Alex eating that cookie? No, I didn’t think so. And if Alex wasn’t eating it, neither was I. No way did I want Alex to have an advantage over me.

Little “Prizes.” I have the mentality of a five-year old child when it comes to positive reinforcement. Not having ever been to a WW meeting, I was completely unaware we would be getting bookmarks that we could put fun little “benchmark” stickers on. When I got my first 5lb loss sticker, I was thrilled. I showed everyone my sticker as if I had won some fantastic prize. I wanted more shiny little recognition.

Eat, Sleep, Live, Breath WW. I really thought about food and losing weight A LOT. Now that I think back, it was probably borderline unhealthy to think about being healthy that much, but really, I was just very dedicated! It also helped having other people at work to talk with about WW. We were all in it together.

So those are some reasons why I think I did so well in December. I’m really looking forward to challenging myself again and after just a week of being hardcore with tracking and drinking water and exercising, I already feeeeel better. Yay for me.

On another note, I think the quote also applies to lots of other things (really anything you want it to), but specifically, it can apply to your eating and workouts. Often times, people get used to things and don’t remember to change things up once and a while. If your workout of choice is the elliptical and that’s what you do everyday, it’s good to do something else to challenge your body and engage different muscles etc. For instance, maybe one day a week, commit to taking a spin class or trying out that new pilates class. Trust me, your body will react! Plus, doing the same things all the time don’t just produce the same results, it also gets boring. So, mix it up and treat diet and exercise as exciting, not just a chore.

Let me know what things you guys do to keep challenged and keep healthy-living fun.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There once was a girl...

Soooooooooooooo. I'm back and if there was an award for world's worst blogger/tweeter, I'd def be in the running for the big win. What happened to me you wonder? What exciting things have happened in my life in the last two months?

Well, not much. Rather than bore you to death, I'll tell you a story:

There once was a girl who joined Weight Watchers and made a promise to herself to remain healthy, and not gain weight over the holidays. This girl even wanted to (GASP) lose some lbs throughout the fattiest time of the whole year. The girl had some extra motivation because was going on a nice tropical vacation in mid-January. Well, the girl worked her butt off, literally! She lost just about 10 lbs and reached her lowest adult weight. She was pumped.

The girl went on vacation and did exactly what she knew she would do--splurged. The girl had made up her mind that she was going to enjoy her vacation and not worry about points etc AT ALL. The girl made it to the gym 3 times over the 8 days, but it didn't matter. All of the eating and drinking caught up to the girl and when she stepped on the scale at home, she had gained 10 lbs in one week. Normal? No. Cool? She definitely did not think so. But, the girl did not regret her vacation or wish she had skipped that yummy frozen drink. The girl decided she deserved her vacation, but was ready to lose what she had gained.

So the girl started back up on her routine. As everyone told her, she lost a few of lbs right away. She always had been an avid exerciser so she returned to the gym everyday and started tracking her points again. But the girl fell back into old patterns. She had none of the momentum she had built up over December. Worst of all, the girl did what she always did: just enough to maintain. She ate great Monday-Friday and then splurged a bit on the weekends. She didn't go off the deep end, but she was definitely not in losing mode.

Every morning the girl stepped on the scale and the number that she saw would make or break her mood. Some weeks, she'd go down a lb or two and feel like she was back in it, only to see the scale rise again in the following days. Some days, the girl felt mad. She thought she was doing good and should see some results. Some days, the girl felt sad. She had been so happy with her progress and now it was all ruined. Some days, the girl felt inspired. She would think, today's the day she would commit to losing and she felt like she could do this! Some days, the girl felt justified. She thought, at least she isn't gaining any weight. Maybe she'd rather be 5-7lbs heavier and enjoy life a little more. It wasn't like she wasn't exercising and it wasn't it was a crime to eat a dessert or nachos once in a while.

Two months later, the girl is sick of her excuses and even though she knows she is still in a good place, she wants to be in a better, lighter place. So she decided to go back to her blogging, which made her feel accountable and made her feel like others out there were like the girl. The girl no longer has Weight Watchers at Work, but a group of her colleagues are still going to meet to weekly and weigh in.

The girl missed all of her blogging and twitter friends. The girl is planning to do a much better job and hopes all of her friends have had more luck than she has in the past 2 months.

The girl worked very hard and by the time she turned 26 in May, the girl had lost 15 lbs. She looked much better in her summer clothes this way and also she got everything she ever wanted in life, including a house, a promotion and hair like a Kardashian.

The end.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Resolution Makeover

Maybe my resolution should be to blog more. My last post was December 11. I'm so sorry it's been so long everyone, but I've been so busy working out and eating right, I just haven't had the time. Oh wait. No. That's a big fat (like my butt after the past few weeks) LIE. Really, I haven't written because of I had some time off from work and therefore did not sit at the computer all day thinking of blog posts instead of doing work things and because of a few little things called Christmas and New Year's.

Anywaaaay, it's that time of year again. The time of year where all of the previously lazy people who over-ate and sat around in November and December decide they want to be fit and healthy and start going to the gym. It's resolution time people. Now, I'm all for everyone out there getting healthy and all of that good stuff. But, what I'm not all for is annoying people crowding me at my gyms. This past week alone, I've had to tack on an extra 15 minutes to my gym time to guarantee a spot in my classes. I have to arrive earlier for spin to make sure I get a bike. I have to wait in line for treadmills. And, I have to get to kickboxing class extra early to make sure I get to stand in my spot (I always stand in the same one and I like it that way). But enough complaining...

Chances are, you've made a resolution or two. Even if you haven't officially resolved to do something, it's hard not to let the new year, new you/goals mentality creep into your mind. The new year is like a birthday. Every year, people think of things they want to get done at their respective ages, think about where they are in life, where they want to be in life and where they thought they would be by now. For example, in 2010, I turn 26. A few years ago, did I think I would be living home with my parents? No. Did I think I'd be engaged? Secretly yes. (To who, not quite sure but whatevs. Details can be filled in later). Did I think I would be further in my career and bringing in the big bucks. Yes and yes. Anyway, you get the point. Whether or not you make a resolution formally or not, over the past few weeks you likely have thought about goals in life and things you want to accomplish/change.

Because I know from experience (my own failures at resolutions combined with the decreased crazed lazies at the gym by Feb. 1) and there are tons of real actual statistics out there about this (google it if you don't believe me), lots and lots of people FAIL at their resolutions and give up by the end of the month, if not sooner. So, how do you make a resolution and keep it? Since this blog is called healthygirltips and is focused on things like diet and exercise rather than things like quitting smoking (though you should if you smoke because that is related to health too!), I am going to gear my advice on success to resolutions involving weight loss/healthy eating/exercise etc. I've decided to give your generic weight loss resolution and healthygirl makeover. Here you go:

Original Resolution: "I resolve to eat only healthy foods and go to the gym every single day."

Not a good idea on so many levels. Whether or not you ate well and went to the gym before your resolution is not at all relevant. Only eating healthy foods and never allowing yourself a little cheat will eventually backfire and you'll likely fail way before February. And, as far as going to the gym everyday goes, this probably isn't realistic either. Is it good to go the gym and workout? Obvi. Are there days when no matter what you do, you just cannot squeeze the gym in? Of course.

Resolution Makeover: "I resolve to make smarter decisions when eating", splurge only in special situations and make a point to workout X minutes more than I do now."

Clearly, this is a more realistic approach to the same resolution. Why? Well, first of all, there's a chance you might actually be able to stick to it. Just saying it in a way where you are allowing for a little slack is helpful. By resolving to make smarter decisions or splurging only in special cases, you are pledging to adopt a new lifestyle, not a week or two extreme fix. As usual, it's all about balance and moderation. And, if you resolve to up your workout by increasing either the amount of time you work out in a week or the distance you run or the number of pushups you do, etc. you are more likely to accomplish your goals. That way, if you have one really busy day where you cannot get to the gym, you can work harder on other days. The more specific you are about your goals, the better. It's also best to take it one day, week or month at a time. Sure, a new year means 365 days worth of resolving, but if you break it down and take it one week at a time, your results will add up.

So, besides vowing to blog more, what did I resolve? Well, this year, I'd like to purchase a home or condo, stick to my weight watchers points on all days that end in Y (knowing that I can use flex on special occasions), to manage my money better by eating out less (which will also help with the previous goal), and to be more consistent with adding weight training and toning moves to my cardio. I'd also like to be able to do 25 real pushups. I could really go on forever with things I'd love to do, but I need to go think skinny thoughts before my weight watchers meeting this afternoon. Good luck to everyone with their resolutions--everyone except the people overcrowding my gyms. Just kidding. Sort of.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Weight Watchers Weigh In #2

My second weight watchers meeting and weigh in was yesterday and I am happy to report that I lost 3.4 lbs this week, bringing my grand total to -7.2lbs!! I was especially excited when my leader gave me a pretty gold sticker because I hit the 5lb loss mark. I respond really well to little prizes like stickers so that worked out well for me.

My leader had some shocking revelations about this week's topic (which was stress) to share with the group. You guys might want to sit down for this one. Ready? Here it comes...eating is a coping mechanism for stress. HA. Thanks for the news flash. Alert the media.

Ok, but in all seriousness, even though I have Captain Obvious as my weight watchers leader, I am really really glad I signed up. The feeling of accountability (knowing I have to get on that scale each week/that it means something/that I could possibly earn shiny things like stickers) keeps me on track and actually gets me really excited throughout the week. And, to be fair, a lot of people in my group are learning lots and it makes me so happy for them. Some of my colleagues have never given a thought to portion size and in the past, haven't thought twice about mowing down multiple big fat cookies at a staff meeting. Now, I see some of them enter the kitchen at work, look at a big platter of baked goods, and turn around to get their apple out of the fridge, which makes me proud!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Top 10 Reasons To Put The Cookie (or cake or any other fatty deliciousness down)...

10 A moment on the lips = ten years on the hips.

9. You will regret it later. Pinky swear...

8. If you have to walk the length of a football field to walk off one little M&M, how long do you think it's going to take you to work off a treat that isn't pea-sized?

7. Carrots and celery are just as tasty as that yummy baked good. (Ok no, they aren't at all...but at least they won't add to the size of your ass).

6. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels (Side note on this one: Apparently, Kate Moss recently told some magazine that this is one of her mantras and received tons of criticism for encouraging girls to starve themselves. I'm not saying don't eat. I'm saying it's not worth it to eat crap that's going to make you fat and feel bad about yourself).

5. Santa eats cookies. Look at him. Do you want to look like that? I don't think so.

4. You exercised. Let's be real, exercise makes us feel good and some of us even want/like to do it, but really deep down, if you were naturally skinny, you probably wouldn't have exercised at all and also you wouldn't have to worry about eating sweets, but since you aren't and you do, don't waste all of your efforts and put the calories you just burned right back on...

3. Bathing suit season is only 6 months away.

2. Cookies are evil.

And, if those fabulous 9 reasons don't work and you still want that treat...

1. No one is perfect and balance is key. So, don't obsess. Enjoy your treat. Just remember, the first bite is really what tastes the best. Allow yourself that, but don't go crazy (or you'll turn into this guy)!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Woohoo: First Weight Watchers Weigh In

Quick update! Down 3.8 lbs at first Weight Watchers weigh in this week. Woohoo! I'm especially excited because this last week was so off with all of the pie and stuffing and other impossible-to-resist goodies.

Hoping to step it up for next week's weigh in!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An Italian Tradition: food, food, and oh wait, more food

Like most big Italian families, my family likes to eat, especially around the holidays. Don't get me wrong: we are equal opportunity eaters. We don't require some holiday to get together and pounds delciousness...nope, not us. We'll use any excuse really--from a birthday to a holiday to a Sunday. In fact, growing up, I went to my Grandmother Yola's house every single Sunday for a huge family dinner. There were 16 of us that gathered around the table every week. The usual meal was pasta topped with my Grandmother's gravy. And what feast could be complete without a bowl of steaming hot meatballs and a loaf of Italian bread?

These days, we don't eat as many huge pasta Sunday dinners, but we sure know how to do it up (aka waaay over do it) for a holiday. To give you an idea, this past Thanksgiving we started with a ton of picky appetizer type foods, before we moved on to the traditional Italian antipasto (and by traditional I mean best to ever exist) and then indulged in the full turkey dinner. The real disgustingness occurred during dessert when we had 9 pies! After all of that eating, we did not have room for one of my most favorite holiday traditions: the stuffed artichoke. I don't know why we eat the artichokes last, but I know that for as long as I've been alive, that is just what we have done. So, like every year, no one could fit the artichokes at the end of the meal, so we all take them home and enjoy them the next day.

Usually, my Grandmother makes the artichokes but because she is getting a bit older and I am the world's best Granddaughter, I decided to make them this year. And, because I am so proud of myself and because they turned out peeerfect, I am going to be nice and share the awesome recipe with all of you! And, good news, these artichokes are a tasty treat that are good for you!

Start by rinsing the artichokes. Then, cut the bottoms (leave a little stem) and a bit of the tops off of the artichokes. They should look like this:

Next, combine breadcrumbs, evoo, parsley (dried) salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Mix ingredients together. (And, if you're really hardcore like Yola and I, you'll use your hands to mix). Your mixture should look like this (without the shadow of your iphone):


Next, grab an artichoke and use your fingers to open it up a bit. Hold artichoke over bowl and grab a handful of breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the artichoke, ensuring that the breadcrumbs fill in the space between the leaves. Stuff all of your artichokes and put them in a pan. Make sure you pack the artichokes tightly into the pan, so that they are all standing up and not leaning. Fill the pan about halfway with water. At this point, your artichokes should look amazing like this:

Put the pan with the water and artichokes on the stove and cook until the leaves are tender and you can easily break them off. While the artichokes are cooking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. When the leaves on the artichoke are tender, remove the pan from the stove and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes. They should now look like this:

Note: you can serve your artichokes right away or keep them overnight. If you choose to keep them overnight, wait to bake them until before being served. If you like leftovers, they can also be heated up in the microwave.

Your mouth is probably watering by now looking at the pictures of my masterpieces (and if it isn't I don't know what is wrong with you). Now for the good news...these tasty little treats are good for you! Sure the huge bowl of breadcrumbs looks like trouble, but when you think about how many breadcrumbs end up in one artichoke, it's not much. I would estimate that in one artichoke, there is probably 1 tsp of evoo (1 WW pt) and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs (2 WW pts). Combine that with the artichoke (1 WW pt) and you have a phenomenal 4 point meal.

Finally, I leave you with a warning and a secret.

Warning: These suckers are a HUGE hit. If you bring them somewhere, they will all get eaten and you will become known for them and then you'll always have to make them.

Secret: They are not that hard to make! You'll be famous for your artichokes and people will think you slaved for hours and hours to make the Italian tradition when you really didn't!

Just wait until I post pictures of my Grandmother's famous Christmas Cookies (15 types). Sorry though, you won't be getting those recipes...they are a secret (and also don't go with the whole healthygirl theme)!