28 August 2010

Game On Diet, Week 4

This is it. The last day of the Game On Diet.

I admit it, by this week, I've had a bit of GoD fatigue. So have most of the other players.  I think that is partially because real life has been a bit more hectic this week, and this was just one more thing to have to think about.

But then I think about all I've gained- and lost- from the last four weeks.  Eight pounds, gone. Clothes fitting better.  The chemicals I was so used to ingesting every day in the form of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners have been gone from my life for twenty-eight days now.

I feel better. I'm sleeping more. I'm more flexible because of working out and doing Yoga.  I'm drinking even more water than before.  I'm thinking about why I want to eat, not mindlessly noshing, even on healthy things, any more.

That's the point of the game- to learn balance and to listen to your body. To be kind to yourself.  So it has been completely worth it.

I'm planning to take off the full stringency of the game until after Labor Day- that doesn't mean I'm going back to all the old habits, just adapting them for long term maintainability. Then I'll planning to play again for another four weeks, which should then have it all fully ingrained.  Because I'm in favor of anything that helps me feel better, more balanced. 

Who's up for round 2?

16 August 2010

Game On Diet: Week 2 Recap

Another week down! Another two pounds down!  So I'm happy.

This week was actually a little easier than the first week because I know how to plan and what to expect.  But it was also a little harder mentally because it is hard to be spontaneous following this plan. Monday night, I had a concert to go to, so I took that as my food day off, and I completely enjoyed myself at the show.  But when last minute plans presented themselves Wednesday night, I had to figure out how to get in a plan-friendly dinner.  Then I took the snacking penalty because I had an appetizer with a friend- at least it was healthy: hummus and pita and vegetable sticks.  Yes, it was a penalty, but I was also glad to see that I naturally was drawn to the healthier choice.

I had intended Friday lunch to be my meal off.   I was going to one of my favorite restaurants and wanted to get my favorite dish.  When lunch plans changed, I ate a typical Game On Diet meal.  I wasn't feeling deprived or like I needed the splurge, so I didn't take it.  That's the point I'm getting to- the point of the game- the healthier lifestyle is taking route.  I'm finding I just want to make the better decisions.

I'm still not loving black coffee, but a little vanilla extract in it, or cinnamon, is helping a bit.  The thing I've craved the most? An icy cold Coke Zero.  But I haven't had a single soda, even when it is allowed in the plan.  I'm actually rather proud of myself for that.

The best thing, though, is how much more sleep I am getting. Seven hours is the requisite minimum amount in the game, and I was getting that most of the time. But I was still waking up so tired.  So I forced myself to try each night for eight hours. And I feel so much better.  That is probably the single biggest improvement I've noticed from these two weeks: how much better I feel in general when I am well rested.

So now we're on to Week 3.  I already had the food day off for this week, and the wine I had at last night's concert gave me a fitful sleep last night, so even though it was enough time, it wasn't good sleep. That's impacted my motivation today, but I am powering through it. I figure I did it to myself, so I can get over it and get my head in the game.

We're already talking round 2. I plan to take a week or two off between rounds- it is good to surprise your metabolism once in a while- and I want to have no worries over Labor Day Weekend. So if you're interested in playing, starting the week of 13 September, let me know!

10 August 2010

The Urge to Purge

Much to my mother's consternation, I've never lived by the  "a place for everything and everything in its place" mantra.  I like clean, but I can stand some clutter.  And there's a lot of other things I'd rather do than sort through everything that needs sorting through right when it needs doing.  But it's gotten a bit out of hand lately. Not "I should be on Hoarders" crazy, but "Where the hell did all this crap COME FROM?!" crazy.  And WHY do I need all of it?

That's the point. I don't need all of it.  I may not even need half of it. But where to start?  I can organize a closet if I can do the whole thing at once. If I have to break it up over several days, it stresses me out. But then it becomes easier to not do it. Except I hit a wall. The clutter is driving me mad. I want to simplify, get rid of all the stuff I don't need and I want to be more organized.

So, I hired a professional organizer.  We meet for the first time on Friday.  This is simultaneously liberating and terrifying. I want to be free of the clutter, I want to be more organized, I want to simplify, and I want to live and love more with less.  I just would prefer a magic wand or a house elf to do it and not actually have to involve myself in the process.  I attach a ridiculous sentimentality to some things.  Like gifts I'll never use, but I feel guilty for giving them away because it was important to someone that I have it. 

There are bins in the bottom of one closet I should toss without looking in them. I know I am keeping the contents for some reason, but I can't tell you at all what that is.  I'm sure I'll remember once I start looking through them. And this is where I expect said organizer to look at me as though I have three heads and calmly instruct me to toss it anyway. There's other stuff that will be easier to get rid of.  I just have to do it, perhaps channeling my friend Amanda, label maker and storage bins in hand.

On an intellectual level, I know what needs to be done.  In theory, I could do it myself. But I need that voice of reason to push me to get rid of the things I don't really need, and in some cases even want.  Someone who won't buy into the justifications I give for wanting to keep something.  And I want this to be the start of yet another change.  Something that makes me question purchases in the future- what value will this give me, if I allow it into my home.

Truth be told, I'm excited, along with the dread of actually completing the taks and anticipation of the liberation I expect to feel when  all is said and done.

08 August 2010

Game On Diet: Week 1 Recap

Week 1 of the Game on Diet (or as we contestants are calling it, Crazy Game On Diet) is officially over.  I'm proud to say I lost an even (and healthy) two pounds.

No artificial creamers or sweeteners since July 31. I also have not had a soda since July 31.  Sparkling water with no sweeteners is proving to be my salvation there.  It's the carbonation I like the most, although I have craved the taste a few times this week.

There's been several things I have loved about this game so far. I love getting more sleep.  I really approve of any game that says sleep more. I feel so much better with that extra rest.

At the risk of sounding like a nouveau coffee snob, I now completely understand the appeal of French Press coffee. It is the only way I can take coffee black.  

I've adapted pretty easily to the smaller, more frequent meals. Yes, yes, lots of planning. But also noticing that it really does take less food to sate us.

On the flip side, I realized at dinner last night (my meal off for the week) that the game is already giving me a bit of a complex when it comes to eating out.  I stared and stared and stared at the menu until I remembered the point of the meal off: to not feel as though you are being deprived in this process.  It really is important to indulge once in a while.  So I ordered the burger, and loved it. I ate a few of the fried pickles (I'm in the South. We'll fry anything). I left most of my French Fries on the plate.  And when I got on the scale this morning, it was one pound higher than yesterday?! What?  Which goes to show just how much all the bad for us stuff does impact us on a daily basis.  Still, I don't feel guilty for it. Although, I will always make sure my food day and meal off are not right before points submission time in the future.

Now, let's talk about booze. I didn't indulge until it was sanctioned.  I took a penalty last night- I was allotted one drink then through a little misunderstanding on the part of the waiter, I ended up with a drink I didn't order.  I chose to take the penalty points.  It was a deliberate action.  But in my defense, the UFC Fight was on in the tavern we were in, and I got caught up in all the yelling at those crazy men cage fighting each other. Not my sport.  Anyway, it led me to a realization.  I really think that if I hadn't had the sanctioned glass of wine, I wouldn't have been tempted with the others.  So next time I'm out for several hours on a Meal or Food Day off, I'll probably just skip it all together. Save the calories, save my points. Because really? I've not missed it much at all.

So Week 2 began this morning.  I'm going to see Green Day in concert tomorrow night, which means my meal off and potentially exercise day off will be tomorrow.  I'm probably also going to take my sleep day off on Monday, by sheer logistics. I have a conference call at 8AM on Tuesday, so I'm just not sure seven hours of sleep will be possible between the time I get home from the concert and the time I have to be up to make said call.

But overall, I'm having fun, so I'm keeping at it. I'm also already recruiting players for a round 2 in September.

07 August 2010

It's Fun Being A Girl!

I've said before (not here, but in real life) that I'm glad I'm not a celebrity. This week gave me one more reason why.

Emma Watson adopts a Pixie cut and it makes the entertainment headlines, Twitter rounds, and Facebook commentary. Fandom and Entertainment sites host "Love It or Hate It" polls. Keri Russell went super short years ago when she played Felicity and the backlash was immediate and harsh. Same when Faith Hill adopted a bob.

Y'all, changing our hair color and style is part of the fun of being a girl!  My own hair hasn't seen its natural color since the 1990's.  And I've changed styles more times than I can count.  I am so grateful that when I change my hair it doesn't warrant press coverage. I'd never be out of the news.

I started life as a blonde- once I finally had hair.

And all through middle school and high school and college, I went long and too short and then the right short for me.  I made mistakes.  Bad ones. You'll notice there are no pictures of this era posted here.  There's a reason for that.

In 2005, after years of mostly chin to shoulder length styles in a variety of colors, I decided to grow my hair long.

This was my hair in 2007:

I kept it mostly the same length through 2008, but I had a lot of red in the color- not my best look.  That length? Was high maintenance. I have a lot of hair, and it is thick. This is not a complaint but a fact.  That means that it takes ages to get blown dry correctly- more than a half  hour. And then, it must be styled.  So, yeah, it was nice to have it long again, but it was cumbersome.

In 2009, I started going a little shorter, and darker, close to my natural color (I can't actually remember my natural color. I'd have to go back to some college photos, or maybe high school).

Earlier this year, I went a little shorter still, and the blonde highlights came back in.

But this summer, I went shorter than I have since sometime in the mid-2000's.  The only thing this photo doesn't show is the one red streak I had added last time I went to the salon.

This cut?  I'll use the same description as Emma: Liberating.

I can get ready more quickly. It's more natural.  It's cooler. And where I live, that matters in the summer time.  I feel better with it.  

So what's my point with this rambling? It's that we're lucky as girls to be able to change our look so completely, to have fun with our hair, and to experiment with different looks. Believe me, I've had some misses that I hope never to repeat.  It shouldn't be newsworthy when a news anchor or singer or actress changes her hairstyle or color, especially when it implies it is something that requires votes on whether or not we like it. Who cares?  The only exception to this rule? When something like Britney Spears' shaving her head occurs, because that indicated some deeper issues going on.

So, go Emma, go Keri, go Faith. Go all of us. Experiment. Have fun. Enjoy being a girl and getting to do it! I'm off to paint my nails now.  It's a night out later, after all.

04 August 2010

Game On Diet, Day 4

That's right, y'all. I'm still playing. And I'm still kicking it on points.  I have had to deduct two whole points. But that is it!  I'm in it to win it! Well, I don't care so much about the prize. I want to be able to look back on the game and say I put everything into it that I could and I am glad I did it and  I am healthier because of playing.

I write that because I have been WHINY today.  I'm sick of water.  And hot herbal tea. And iced black coffee.  And I'm TIRED. Which may or may not be related to the game, or my allergies. One of the other players has been in the game before, and she said the first week she played, she felt like I do now, but the second week, she felt better than she had in years.  I'm sticking it out, people!

I've been cooking a lot which I like, but this is not a game you can play- and succeed with- if you aren't willing to plan ahead.  I'm getting creative with some of the dishes.

We're allowed to weigh ourselves once a day.  So far, I am down over a pound.  I'm going for 25 in total, which I know I can't healthily lose in four weeks. But if I play hard, I should be off to a good start by month's end.

I'm doing well on my daily habits, too.  I've managed to write every day. Sometimes it is this post, sometimes it is something else- I just can't count any of the writing I do for work.  So this is a way for me to prioritize something I want to do.

I also had my first encounter with one of my negative habits yesterday. But I caught it and turned it around, so I got my points.

Oh, and I started using the 100 free calories of anything but soda-diet soda-alocohol today.  The purpose of that is so players never have to feel deprived. I think it is a good thing.

My final crazy silly thing for this update?  I've started drinking my evening water out of a wine glass. And I'm starting to discover that the ritual of sitting, relaxing with a pretty glass in my hand is more important to me than what is in said glass. 

So, I would say today was so-so. I got all my points, and I didn't lose any but today's been my least fun day so far.  

02 August 2010

Game On Diet: Day 2

I've made it through Day 2.  Yea!  I even managed the working out today. Go me.  Because although I feel good once the workout is done, I absolutely detest actually doing it.

But let me tell you, this one takes a lot of planning.  I have to take between three and four small meals with me to work. Although I cooked Sunday afternoon, I'm going to have to do another round tomorrow evening.  So this isn't something to be undertaken by the faint of heart.

That being said, it hasn't been that hard (yet) to not have soda or booze. Remind me I said that next week when I have two concerts to go to. Because who doesn't want a cocktail before  a concert? So, there's that.

And mints.  Mints count towards a free 100 calories a day we can have. Which I haven't been doing, but do I seriously have to count popping an Altoid after drinking black coffee?  I consider that a public service.

Sigh. It is what it is.  And so far, I haven't found anything that's been worth compromising points.  

Bring on Day 3. 

01 August 2010

Game on Diet, Day 1

I planned ahead for this diet/challenge.  And by that I mean I consumed as much bad for me stuff as I could in the days leading up to it. That, coupled with two weeks out of town and nearly all meals consumed in a restaurant, and my body was ready for me to get back to something healthy this morning.

There's a lot to think about with a radical lifestyle change like this.  I decided chronicling it here could be a good way to share what I've learned, as well as hold me accountable to the folks I am playing against.

I stocked up at the grocery store yesterday, planning ahead for this game.  So I feel prepared- there's little alcohol or soda in the house, so as not to be too tempted there.  And that's what it is all about for me. A compulsiveness, or an obsession perhaps, that since I have the parameters of the game, I've only myself to blame if I don't adhere to them.    At least in situations where I am in control.

So what have I noticed so far?  For starters, the people I've explained the rules to always want to talk about how easy it will be to lie in this game.  After all, with this group, it is a virtual competition.  But it is true.I suppose any of us could lie.  But really? This competition? If I'm going to lie, I'm going to save it up for something much bigger than this.  And while winning would be great, I think all of us are motivated by something more than just that bragging right.  After all, if I lie about my points but come out of this not a pound lighter and still swigging diet coke, then really, what was the point? I don't need the prize money that badly.

The second thing I've noticed is that I have not thought of myself in the past as a mindless eater.  Today, however, I realized I may be.  When I was washing off all the fruit I bought yesterday, I was tempted to sample a strawberry or grape.  I stopped myself in time, since it wasn't with a meal.  I would not want to lose points for snacking because I mindlessly popped a grape in my mouth.

I also realized that five little meals a day is going to be a lot.  I slept in this morning, the cumulative effect of a significantly delayed flight Wednesday evening and the lack of ability to recover from that.  So here it is 5:30, and I've only consumed three of the daily meals so far. Fortunately, they are small portions, so I think I'll be able to get the others in.

I also chose today as my day off from exercise this week. Yep, the first day.  But like I said, I slept in today, and I desperately needed to run some errands. So I showered, washed my hair, and headed out the door.  I chose at that time to forego the exercise today. Yes, I know that means I must do at least 20 minutes the rest of the week.  I can do that.

I haven't really missed sodas today, probably because I had a lot of soda yesterday and the idea makes my stomach hurt.  The sparkling water will definitely help with soda cravings.  And I've figured out how many of my aluminum water bottles will constitute three liters each day.

Picking out a good habit was easy- it is to write every day, and no writing I do for work counts for that.  A bad habit was harder.  Why? I already have cut out a lot of really bad habits, and many others are being severely curtailed by the game.  So choosing one of them felt to me like I was giving myself a bit of a bye.  I finally decided that whenever I catch myself focusing on what I don't have, rather than what I do, I will lose my bad habit points for the day if I don't turn that thought into something positive.  I've been working on that a lot lately, and it really helps. But again, it is all about mindfulness.

So that's it. Day one, nearly complete.  This month seems a bit long right now. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to manage some dinners out and upcoming concerts without completely wrecking my points for the day.  But I'll work that out when I need to.