Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

Note to self: Living in the primal brain

I suppose that the title of this blog is somewhat redundant, because isn’t that what a blog is, by definition?

Yesterday
I blogged about how bad I felt after a day of high-fat/low-water content food. I literally felt like crap. It’s amazing what you can do to yourself even when the only thing in your carry on bag is either made out of flax or almond. It’s scary to think of what I might have gotten up to if I’d actually had junk food in there! Or had helped myself even once to the stadium box of glutenous, sugar filled, processed crap that the airlines attendants – good intentions aside – were peddling (or rather, pushing).

But I digress.

My point is that this morning, I woke up feeling amazing!

Yesterday, I reverted back to my old eating and exercise habits – well, actually with a little dose of circumspection thrown in for good measure.

So, even though there may be a couple of extra pounds for a while, it was good to know that I can get back to go – at least in terms of how I feel – with just a little direction, dedication, and – of course – resources. Because goodness knows I like to tell myself that binge wouldn’t have happened if I’d had access to veggies!

(And I’m going to keep telling myself that, for the time being, but there will be more to come on this topic in future posts!)

While most people might read this and think, “Duh!”, I realized that when I fall off the wagon – so to speak – I automatically assume that I’m off the wagon forever. That if I had one bad food day – that’s it! I’ll never be able to eat healthy food again. If I eat cooked food, I’ll never want anything raw again. If I gain 1 pound, I’ll never lose it again! Not only will I never lose it again – 100 of it’s closest friends are going to move back in as well!

I’m sure that this comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever spent anytime around me after a bad food day – it certainly won’t to my sister! – but it was quite the epiphany to me.

I went to a marketing seminar this weekend and the presenter said that when people are in pain, they lose their ability to think rationally in terms of consequences or cause and effect. That they revert immediately to their “primal brain” – the one that is concerned only with survival. They essentially lose the ability to think, which is why some of the best marketing strikes at emotion, as opposed to cognition.

So, I realize – after close to 24 years – that when it comes to me and my weight issues, I go immediately to the primal brain.

So I learned what happens.

And I also learned why it happens.

Unfortunately, I missed the how – that is, how the heck do I stop going there every single time?!

Well, for now I guess it’s enough to know – at least in my human brain – that it does happen and that I can pull myself out the tail spin at any time.

As I work on figuring out the how – including what I can do to put these strategies into place right now, I’ll be sure to share. Just on the off chance anyone else reverts as quickly as I do. And, as always, any suggestions that you might have will be welcomed with open arms!

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Day Ten of Ten

We made it! The limeade fast is done – or will be in a few minutes, after we go to bed.

Today, I started cooking again. I made a balancing broth from Penni Shelton’s book, Raw Food Cleanse: Restore Health and Lose Weight by Eating Delicious , All-Natural Foods – Instead of Starving Yourself and some flax crackers from Raw Dawg Rory’s excellent e-book Getting Raw with Raw Dawg Rory. I also made some tabouli (albeit with red quinoa instead of bulgur) for Michael J, in case he’s up to adding that back in for dinner.

It’s funny the things that almost undo you.

In my case, it was the soggy sweet potato that I strained out of the broth and the strip of seeds that I’d removed from the cucumber.

I think the smell of food – not to mention the weight of it in my hands after 10 days – made me weak. But I prevailed. I sipped on and stayed strong.

But everything (and everyone has their limits), so instead of sitting here and smelling the scents of the crackers which are dehydrating in the basement, I am off for my last cup of Senna tea and then to bed.

Though I typically hate Day Light Savings Time, I am grateful that my last day of the cleanse was for all intents and purposes one hour shorter than the first nine.

Good night.

Stay tuned for more cleansing adventures as Michael J and I turn our attention to the 21 Day Sugar Detox!

Nine down, one more to go!

Yes, I’m still alive after 8 days of limeade cleansing!

The most incongruous part of this whole process has, ironically, not been the complete absence of food, but my workout shoes that have laid untouched next to the Nordic Track. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve gone 8 – 9 days without exercise.

Now granted, I have done some light yoga (barefoot) and walked from my car to the office (in my regular shoes), but there’s been no sustained activity.

I figure there will be plenty time for that next week, however, as I attempt to restart my metabolism, which has surely slowed during this process.

The next eleven days will be interesting, because, believe it or not, we’re not done!

Tomorrow – while I’m still on the green juice – will involve food prep. Again, it was a shock to open the dishwasher for the first time in a week and see, lo and behold, dishes! Not to mention the forgotten feel of a fork in my hand. I remember laughing with Penni Shelton, the founder of Raw Food Rehab said, when starting her juice feast, “Sometimes it’s a good idea to just step away from the fork for a while.” I think she might be on to something.

Then, from Monday March 15 to Wednesday March 24, we’re on a ten day deep liver cleanse, which introduces some food, but not a lot.

Breakfast – 2 scoops of NutriClear and 1 scoop of rice protein powder and a package of detox supplements.

Lunch – a clean meal (meaning nothing with anything that even remotely looks like sugar) and another pack of supplements.

Snack – 2 scoops of Nutriclear and 1 scoop of rice protein powder.

Dinner – a clean meal (again, no sugar) and yet another pack of supplements.

Personally, I think this is going to be more challenging than the limeade fast, because at least with the limeade you could get a sugar hit every 10 minutes – whether you needed it or not.

However, I am thrilled to be back in the kitchen tomorrow. First up: Ani Phyo’s Black Sesame Sunflower Bread!

Then, between March 25 – April 3, even though we will be on regular meals (that is, no more Nutriclear and Rice Protein Powder shakes for breakfast and snack) we’ll still be sugar free.

Let me tell you, the term spring cleaning has taken on a whole new meaning at Camp Living Lively!

Six down, four to go

I really can’t believe how quickly time flies when you’re not eating!

Maybe it’s because I’m getting more sleep, which is a good thing.

Maybe it’s because I’m not spending all of my time planning, preparing, consuming, and cleaning up after my next meal!

Whatever it is, it’s interesting. Time has become as fluid as my meal supplements. And it’s not because I’m light headed either! 😉

Today, I actually broke down and bought a German engineered tongue brush/scraper, because the fuzzy tongue thing had just gotten the better of me.

I also bought a dry skin brush.

Dry skin brushing is probably old hat to most people, but it was new to me. And boy was it exhilarating – especially after a long massage where the masseuse actually “cupped” my feet and slathered my abdomen in caster oil in an attempt to get the lymph to move more freely through my body!

Off to get at least eight hours of sleep.

Stay tuned for day seven!

P.S. I’m actually more concerned about adding the food back in, as Michael J and I are heading into 21 days of no sugar – no fruit, no chocolate, no nothing. But I guess there will be food, for which I I am pretty darned sure that by that point I will be grateful!

Two down, eight to go

Second day of the limeade fast.

More energy? Check.

Fuzzy tongue? Check.

Headache? Nope.

Hungry? Surprisingly, not at all.

Amazing.

If someone had told me three years ago – heck, three weeks ago – what I would be able to go two days without food and not really even miss it, I would have laughed in their face.

Stay tuned.

The importance of planning ahead

I am going to be traveling again and the first thing I thought: what am I going to eat?

Instead of stressing about it too much, I just asked for what I need. It worked pretty well last time, so I thought I might try it again.

First things first, I asked the very helpful person who has been coordinating my upcoming visit if she could take me a to a grocery store immediately upon landing. This is imperative, as I typically travel with a blender – a travel blender at that – and love making green smoothies in my hotel rooms. I find that if I start the day off normally – well, as normally as anyone who drinks spinach, broccoli, red pepper, carrots, cayenne pepper and pear for breakfast can – then the rest of the day will go that much smoother. Of course she said yes.

Second, even though I am the keynote speaker at a banquet (hence the invitation to travel), I asked that a special meal be prepared: a large plate of uncooked vegetables or a large salad. No problem, she assured me. Now, who knows what the quality of the veggies will be, but that’s why it’s important to make sure I have snacks and high quality produce in my room for after the event.

Third, there are people who want to take me out to dinner when I get there – presumably after the trip to the grocery store and before the main event (which is the next day). When asked if I had any preferences, I simply said that i was currently on a raw vegan diet and that anywhere where I could get a big salad and perhaps an avocado – or at least someplace that wouldn’t object if I brought my own – then I was golden.

This is what she sent back, saying that it wasn’t raw, but she was sure they would accommodate.

Looking at the menu – particularly the appetizers and the salads – I think I may be the one to accommodate.

Given that the definition of High Raw is 80% raw or more, I think I’ll be okay. Meanwhile, that Cauliflower Miso is calling my name….

The moral of this story: I used to be really concerned about asking for what I need. I used to think that I was being bothersome or troublesome. What I’ve found as I have practiced this – and not been so apologetic about it – is that people are happy to help. But it helps if you’ve done your research. If you’re going to go visit someplace new, find out what the options are ahead of time. I lucked out, because my colleague happened to know about The Vegiterranean.

And for those of you who are traveling to a new place, without the benefit of helpful hosts, the internet is your friend. It’s amazing what you can find – and where you can find it – in just a few minutes on-line.

One down, nine to go

Michael and I just finished the first day of a limeade fast.

There’s a lot to say about this (including how horrifyingly fuzzy my tongue is at the moment); but now is not the time.

Stay tuned.

And just when I thought I had it beat….

….stress eating comes a callin’!

Ironic, given that I just lost that ten pounds again.

Yes, I am back below 140 and look remarkably different than I did just 5 weeks ago.

All of my clothes are looser, the shape of my thighs are different.

I’ve lost at least one inch off the waist.

I should feel pretty good about now, right?

Then why did I spend the entire evening eating way more than I should and, more to the point, more than I really wanted?

All of the weight loss coaches I know say that you eat to hide your emotions and that you’d be better off journaling them so that you can confront them once and for all. Intellectually, I know that, but it’s so much easier to grab a handful of walnuts.

(The good news is that although walnuts are incredibly fattening, they’re also really good for you. So, in that sense, I suppose it could have been worse).

So what am I feeling?

Besides overfull?

Well, let’s be honest: fear.

Fear.

Overwhelm.

Jubilation.

Excitement.

Fear (oh, did I say that already?)

I know the what; what I don’t know – really know – is the why.

Why am I afraid to be thin?

It’s not about not feeling strong or not wanting to be healthy – it’s about the size and shape of my body. And this isn’t the first time it’s happened. When I lost the weight the first time, I was at 142 for all of about 2 days. Last year, I got to 138.4, which lasted a little longer – at least 4 days, maybe 5!

So here are my questions for tonight, assuming I was the journaling type: Why am I afraid of being thin?

And when I figure that one out: What is the end goal? What does it represent to me if I achieve it? And what does it mean if I don’t?

Is it more important to be a solid size four (which means breaking through my limiting beliefs about who I am and what I look like) or to be a semi-solid size six who is comfortable in her skin?

One of my coaches says that if you really don’t want to do something, then that’s the thing you need to do most.

I’ll think about that too.

And who knows, I might even pick up a pen and write about it (because God knows that I’m going to be mad as hell if I get back on that scale come Wednesday and it says 142).

Can Someone Help Me Deal With Well-Intentioned Skinny People?

Or, rather, my reaction to them.

I am really not bashing skinny people – after all, I want to be one of them, right?

But if another well-intentioned skinny person comments on the quantity of food that I eat, I may scream.

I sat down to a meal recently with a friend of mine and brought out three raw cabbage roles (made with beet and carrot slaw and cashew cheez). All total, that meal had 255 calories in it, max.

My companion exclaims: “Wow, that’s a lot of food!”

I immediately get offended.

I remind them of how it annoyed me when my other friend had made a similar comment about my (“Wow, that’s a lot of smoothie”) Green Smoothie. I then defensively (and this was probably my mistake) pointed out that it only had X many calories and was extremely healthy.

“Oh, I get that,” they responded. “I just couldn’t eat that much food. My stomach’s just not that big.”

Wow.

In less than 2 seconds I went from someone who was feeling pretty darned good about herself physically, to feeling like the 800 pound guy in the pie eating contest at the county fair.

I literally got sick to my stomach and pushed the food away. At that moment, you couldn’t have paid me to eat that food. I seriously thought I was going to throw up.

Luckily, my friend and I are very close and they are incredibly supportive of me. In fact, we were able to resolve it pretty quickly, even though my appetite never did come back.

Essentially, once I was able to breathe, I was able to tell them what was wrong (and why I wasn’t eating).

I first expressed my anger and annoyance.

I also mentioned how strange I think it is that people (and it happens a lot) comment on what I eat. And, because I do admittedly eat large portions of super low calorie food, the amount.

I also asked, quite pointedly, when’s the last time they heard me comment when they have McDonald’s fries or 1/2 a pint of Ben and Jerry’s (or both)?

I also expressed my hurt and even used the 800 lb. guy at the pie eating contest as an example.

Then I expressed my deepest and most irrational fear: is that what you (and everyone else) think of me when you see me sit down and eat a big plate of SALAD?

And then my other deepest fear, that is, granted, slightly less irrational: if I get judged for eating lots of healthy food (by volume, not calories) by my friends, then how am I supposed to feel good about adopting a lifestyle that (by definition) requires that you always have food – lots of food – with you, wherever you go?

Has anyone else come across this? And, if so, what’s the best way around it with everyone’s dignity in tact?

P.S. Now, admittedly, I did razz my father some over the holidays about eating bologna and white dinner rolls, though (at the time) I saw it more as a health issue than as a food issue! Note to self: call your father and apologize.

Happy New Year! Live from the Raw Food Rehab Online Community

It had been my intention to write a big year end blog and something motivating and meaningful about looking forward, but, to tell you the truth, I have spent almost the entire day over at some other woman’s site! Another Tulsan, mind you, but that’s beside the point.

If you’ve been following me at all these last few weeks, you’ll have noticed a new tag popping up on my entries: raw food.

After having recently gone gluten-free, my diet has taken yet another left turn. I think the correct term is “high raw,” which means raw until dinner. All that means is that I’m too big of a chicken to give up cooked food all together. I think that this topic deserves some thought, so hopefully I will be back online tomorrow with something meaningful and motivating.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in what’s going on in Oklahoma (other than the two amazing raw food restaurants that I mentioned in my last post), go check out Penni Shelton’s blog. And if you’re interested in all things raw, you should check out her ning site: Raw Food Rehab. Or better yet, check out the video. Though be forewarned, it starts in the middle.

Or for the lower resolution clip in its entirely, see below:

I’ll have more to say on my own reasons for joining this year’s 11 week initiative next time!

May you all have a healthy and happy New Year!

The Christmas Pants (otherwise known as leverage)

Before heading home for the holidays, I took a long hard look at the closet. And instead of going for glamour, which would be lost on my folks anyway, I decided to pack for leverage. In other words, I did what peak performance guru Anthony Robbins recommends: I packed my tightest jeans – you know, the ones that make overeating a near impossibility?

In my case it’s the size four bootcut jeans from the Gap. Though I also brought the ridiculously tight DKNY sixes. I wore the latter on Christmas Day, just to give myself some slack.

I am happy to say that I am sitting here (and breathing) in the fours (and yes, they have been washed and dried since last Thursday)!

Would I have been more comfortable if I’d done something a little less radical?

Undoubtedly.

Would I have been totally bummed out if I had gotten back home only to find that the jeans no longer fit had I left them in the drawer?

Most definitely.

All in all, the gain (or the relative lack thereof) was totally worth it!

Healthy Holidays!

Leaving on a jet plane….

…and I am literally taking more calories than clothes! It’s crazy!

Michael J and I are going to a two day seminar on the opposite coast and this is just a sampling of what I’m taking, aside from two skirts, two blouses, a jacket, a scarf, and variety of other necessary unmentionables:

Larabars
A gallon bag of salad (no dressing)
Hummus
Multigrain Ricecakes
Carrots
Pink Lady Apples
Bananas
My blender!
Chocolate Hemp Shake Mix
Shelled Hemp Seeds
Nairn’s ginger stem oat biscuits
VerMints
Raw Unsalted Almonds
Prunes (don’t ask)
Green & Black’s 85% Chocolate (for Michael J)
?????

I’m sure I’m forgetting something! But you get the picture!

Last time we were there (back in the good old pre-gluten-free days) we were able to buy a brown bag lunch, but as it all had some sort of wheat that’s no longer an option. And the dinner break is short. Last time 20 participants had gone up to their rooms only to be stuck in an elevator. Thanks, but no thanks!

Luckily there is a grocery store within walking distance (about a mile away) where we can buy soy milk/Almond Breeze once we arrive and additional fruit if need be after our 10 trek cross country.

Despite the potential for food disaster, you might say that I am stocking (if not overstocking) my environment.

My plan: eat small meals every two and a half hours and, as you may recall from my last post, only eat until I’m 80% full.

I will keep you posted!

What are your best travel strategies?

Portion Control: Argh!

I’ve been trying a new strategy: portion control.

Well, not that it’s a new strategy in the cosmic sense, but it is new to me!

I’ve been listening to this weight loss/health gaining program and the instructor talks about learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full.

I purposefully let that awkward sentence structure slide – learning to stop eating when you’re 80% full – because, trust me, if you’re not used to doing it, you’re going to have to learn it. And it’s harder than it looks.

I had no idea that I was a member of the “clean plate club” until I tried not to be. What I found, when I tried to not finish my meal is that it’s a real struggle for me to leave a bite of food on my plate, let alone 20% of whatever I took…unlike my normal weight partner, Michael J, who always leaves a bite or two on his plate! You know, it’s a good thing he’s adorable, because, to tell you the truth, it drives me crazy. But at least not crazy enough, thank goodness, that I feel the need to clean his plate (with my fork!) as I’m putting dishes away! Apparently eating the scraps off of husband’s and children’s plates is a huge weight gain trap for women. So, if you’re doing it: stop it! Just stop.

I do, I admit, tend to eat the last bite out of a container if there’s only one – or two – bites left. Not Michael J, who will all too happily put a two bite “black bean snack” back in the fridge without even batting an eye. Something tells me that I could learn a lot about eating from watching him more closely – not necessarily about what to eat, but how to eat. Again, it’s a good thing he’s cute.

So, back to this 80% rule. Why 80%?

Essentially, it’s because it takes the stomach about 15 or 20 minutes to realize you’re full. So, when you feel 80% full (I still haven’t fully grocked what that means, exactly) you’re actually already full, although your gut hasn’t quite figured that out yet. If you eat until you’re full, technically you’re already over full (around the magnitude of about 120%) When you eat more calories than you need – that is, you eat to over fullness – your body releases insulin, which signals fat storage, etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture.

Because I have such strong – apparently – cultural conditioning not to waste food (even two bites), my new strategy is to take about 80% of what I would normally take. And I try to eat slow…well, slower…so that my stomache is more likely to get the message before I to leave the table.

It’s really hard. Harder than it should be. But even though it’s hard – I actually feel better eating this way. I don’t miss the “stuffed” feeling, even though it’s been a good companion to me for the last 39 years.

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to commit to three changes this holiday season.

This is the first: I am going to walk away from every meal, snack, etc. while I still feel a little bit hungry. If I am still a little bit hungry 15 or 20 minutes later, I may have a little more. Or I might just have a cup of tea and let the feeling pass.

I’ll keep you posted.

One of those days (or maybe not)!

Ironically, I spent several hours last night making food for the week.

I made a nice quinoa salad with walnuts, sunflower seeds, goji berries, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro.

I made some hummus.

And I also made up a salad and a huge rice and bean based casserole.

This morning, I packed up some salad, some hummus, and some quinoa and got ready for work. I then proceeded to go down the stairs, without my lunch, get in the car, and drive to work.

I hate that!

Luckily all is not lost, because like the good gluten-free health conscious foodie that I am, I have food stashed everywhere.

Case in point: at work I had a container of unopened hummus, a cup of frozen tomato and white bean soup (which is currently thawing), a small bag of baby carrots, a carton of coconut milk yogurt, and – as if that wasn’t enough – a huge stash of Larabars and miscellaneous dried berries!

Moral of this story: I have way too much food floating around the office!

Oops, wrong!

Moral of the story (take II): if you keep non-perishable healthy snacks around you at all times, even the most potentially disastrous food days can be avoided!

Sometimes showing up really is the hardest part!

I spent four hours yesterday trying to convince myself to go the gym. And failed.

I actually started over there a couple of times, but every time I did, something more important came up (like playing yet another game of the New Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook). I won’t provide a link, because I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s downfall!

When I realized that I was never going to knock my mother off the board (and having received not one, but two notices that I had played 20 games in a row), I decided that enough was enough. I was going to go to the gym. I got so far as picking up my bag when the justifications started.

“There are people with swine flu at the gym. If you go to the gym, you’re going to get swine flu!” (A stretch, I know, but it held me at bay for at least 20 more games, er, I mean minutes).

“But my leg feels so good after yoga this morning. Do I really want to mess it up by going to the gym?”

And then, on my way to the gym: “I forgot my heart rate monitor!”

Taking a deep breath I forgave myself for being a baby and accepted that fact that I really didn’t want to go to the gym – or so I thought.

The reason why I am telling you this story is twofold. The first is simply to get those of my friends who think I am a total exercise junkie off my back! 😉 The second, is to let you know that when you really don’t want to do something, it’s okay not to do it.

Okay, maybe it’s threefold, because I realized – once I was miles away from the gym – that I had hit an internal wall of resistance. And with temporal and spatial hindsight, I realized that everything I had tried to accomplish yesterday was stymied.

Does anyone ever really need to play 60 straight games of Bejeweled Blitz? No, not ever. Did I? Oh, yes. And maybe then some. And did I at least knock my mother off the board? Not even close.

So what was going on?

I had a lot of emotional anxiety about a couple of things going on in my life and, like I used to do more often than I do now, I dealt with it (or not) in my choices about food and exercise. As it turned out, I didn’t exercise at home either; I simply ate Chocolate Velvet So Delicious straight out of the carton just minutes after telling MJ to leave me alone for an hour because I “wanted to exercise.” Ironically, I did want to exercise; I just couldn’t make myself do it.

My subconscious mind was definitely in control yesterday and it drove all of my good intentions and so-called will power right off the cliff!

Last night before bed, I went up early and did a little 15 minute meditation program to promote clarity, before crashing into troubled, integrating dreams.

This morning, without giving it too much thought, I rolled out of bed and hit the yoga mat. Then, without changing clothes, I packed my gym bag full of work clothes and drove straight to the gym.

I had a great workout. It was fabulous. It reminded me why I like going to the gym.

Morals of the story:

1) If you just can’t do it, forgive yourself and let it go. Don’t beat yourself up, which will inevitably invite you to overeat or eat something that takes you further away from your health related goals.

2) When you’re having an off day (before it turns into an off week or even an off month) ask yourself what’s really going on. Is there something going on in your life that you’re using as an excuse to not show up? If so, is it something you can change or is it just something you need to let go? Or were you really just tired and didn’t want to go to the gym?

3) Get a good night sleep and do whatever it takes to get up and show up.

In my case, there was no way that I was going to sit in my office all day in my sweaty yoga clothes and even though I could have just taken a shower at the gym and gone to work, that really would have been ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than playing 60+ games of Bejewled Blitz!

Diet Survival Tips for Halloween from Beachbody

Not surprisingly, I subscribe to a number of fitness and exercise newsletters. I thought that this one from (from Beachbody) was particularly timely because I heard on the radio last night that 60% (give or take) of all parents actually sneak Halloween candy from their kid’s Jack-O-Lanterns! For shame!

(Now if you’re sneaking it out and binning it – as kids don’t need all that crap either – that’s another thing entirely. But somehow I didn’t get the impression that’s what’s happening)!

Even though I don’t have that particular temptation at hand, some “nice” person at our office has placed a full bucket of Halloween candy on the Administrative Assistant’s desk directly opposite my door (darn them)!

Note that I’m working from home today! And if my colleagues – or at least some of them – are true to form, it will be empty by tomorrow!

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Getting my groove back

Usually my summers are the time that I reconnect with my body, the last two years through doing P90X with my favorite workout partner and really getting serious about food.

Not this summer.

This summer has been about travel and disruption. It’s been about illness (my 19 year old cat had a stroke two months ago). It’s been about tubing and fluids and shots. In all fairness, it’s also been about vacations, wine tours and the forsaking of valued identities (that is, spinning instructor) for the sake of overall balance in my body.

In some ways, this summer has felt like more of a struggle than the spring, even though I was overwhelmed with work in the months of March, April, and June in ways that I am simply not at the moment. There’s still a lot of work to do, more than I have time for in fact, but the deadlines aren’t as frenetic. The penalties for not getting it done seem less severe.

I made three trips to California (from the east coast) in the last two months; two with Michael and one alone. On these trips, I learned how to pack food and exercise gear for travel. I learned how to use my new iPhone to broadcast via Twitter (KJLively), though I couldn’t quite manage to blog remotely, hence the long gaps on occasion. I also learned how to use the mapping function to find grocery stores and how to make salads in hotel rooms with cutlery borrowed from in-house restaurants or once, when I was desperate, lifted off of someone’s room service tray that had been left in the hall. I washed the knife with shampoo and dried it with a washcloth. I learned to travel with a blender and, when necessary, how to pack soy milk for shakes in airtight containers in my checked baggage. I made peanut butter sandwiches ahead of time and sealed them in baggies before placing them in hard plastic containers for safe keeping.

I lost track of calories at weddings and conferences, mostly through my consumption of alcohol. However, I also learned the finer points of most cardio machines in most hotel fitness rooms. I can get my heart rate up and keep it there on a treadmill going 3.6 miles an hour (a brisk walk) on an incline of 6. The recumbent bike – somewhat surprisingly – is harder than it looks. And the StairMaster – somewhat ironically – is less so.

Now that I am home, I am attempting to revisit my old routines. The nordic track, followed by K-Bells (either Cardio Balanced or Total Body Blast) or Jillian Michaels (either the 30 or No More Trouble Zones). I am also using my foam roller once or twice a day to smooth out the knots in my abductors and tennis balls to dissolve the rocks in my calves.

Throughout all this, my body is changing and not always in ways that I would chose.

I keep trying to skirt around negative words like “losing ground”, “getting old” and “betrayed” and use more positive words such as “journey”, “process”, “maturing,” and “natural”, instead. I know it’s all in the framing! Luckily I have good friends around to remind me when I slip up and return to old patterns, only to engage in the familiar ritual of self-recrimination.

Needless to say, I am not going for perfection at the moment, but I am trying to take my victories where I can find them.

Tonight, I bent at the waist and – keeping my legs straight – touched the floor. I didn’t scrape the floor with the tips of my fingers, mind you. Instead, I put my whole palms on the floor. I’ve never been able to do that. I went downstairs and immediately showed Michael. His response: It will be worth trying that again in the morning!

You know what? It’s progress and I’ll take it.

Regaining momentum (and finding my focus)

Maintaining positive momentum is absolutely crucial when you’re trying to achieve or maintain a goal.

When you have positive momentum, it’s just easier to do what’s right. It also tends to easily and effortlessly override both internal and external sources of resistance. You know the ones, the little voice that says, ‘Well, you’ve already blown it, why not?’ Or the well intentioned friend who offers you a brownie to help you ‘feel better.’

Further, when you have positive momentum, you know deep down inside that you will be successful. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when, which is in and of itself an incredibly powerful personal resource. It really is as simple as that.

What’s equally simple, though it doesn’t seem like it when you’re in the thick of it, is that the opposite is also true of negative momentum. So if you ever find yourself in a back slide situation (or a tail spin) such as the one that I was in night before last as my vacation wound itself to a close, it’s crucial that you put on the brakes, turn it around, and pick up speed (heading in the opposite direction, of course) as soon as possible!

One way you can put the brakes on negative momentum and start creating (or rebuilding) your positive momentum is to focus on the positives, while keeping the negatives in perspective.

For example, it is true that while I was on vacation I picked up a few bad habits: I got sloppy with my food diary, I started taking small bites off of MJ’s plate (“just to taste”), and I found myself with a glass of California red wine in my hand on more days that I didn’t! I also didn’t get nearly enough sleep! Now any one of those transgressions has the potential to undermine a maintenance program, let alone a program designed to actually release weight! But add all four of them together? It’s no wonder that my clothes are a little tight!

But that said, there were also a lot of things that I did right. And given that I have a 10 hour travel day yesterday, my goal for myself was to set forth an honest accounting of all of the little things that I did right as well as the relatively small number of pretty big things that I did “wrong.” And my definition of wrong here is that they simply derailed my health and fitness goals. And, I can tell you right now that the list of rights overshadow the “not quite rights.” But it was important to include both so that I can remember what I need to keep doing as well as what needs to get ditched or modified now that I am back home.

As my mother is so found of telling me (and I am even fonder of ignoring), life (and any other important transformation) is really about the journey as opposed to the destination. That may be true, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’ll be much more appreciative of maintenance once I make my way back there! Because despite my earlier post, maintenance is looking (and feeling) pretty darned sexy, in comparison!

Just one more note about forward thinking, positive momentum, and focus. Peak performance coach, Anthony Robbins often tells a very funny – and profound – story about his experience learning to drive Indy 500 cars. My relative lack of charisma aside, the gist of the story is this: when you lose control of your car and you start heading toward the wall, whatever you do, do not look at the wall. Allow me to repeat:

DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THE. WALL.

If you look at the wall, what happens?

Simple, you hit it!

So, when your momentum starts to slip, put your attention where you want to go (i.e. I am a firm, fit fabulous, four!) and just know that eventually, with enough sustained, positive momentum (which, of course, may mean changing tracks on occasion of you find yourself in a rut) you will get there!

I’ll post my list of rights and not-so-rights later on just to give you a better idea of the types of things I consider to constitute success. Did I have any “perfect” days in the course of the last two weeks when it came to food and exercise? No, not really. But I did have thousands of successful moments and, after all, isn’t that what vacations are for?

Setbacks (otherwise known as vacations)

I must admit that I am completely bummed! I caanot believe how much my body has changed after ten days of no k-bells, four days of no cardio, and a six stop winery tour! I barely recognize myself! I look five months pregnant! I mean seriously, I am trying not to use the word “disgusting,” but it is a close thing.

It is at moments like this that I understand how and why people give up on their diets! And this was with me being a pain in the ass about having to make a spiru-tein shake most mornings, eating mostly vegan (when available), and exercising every other day! Not to sound bitter, but if I had known it was going to be this bad I wouldn’t have even bothered! How do people survive who don’t watch what they eat? As I stated earlier, I am most bummed! (And I am sharing it all with you, in all of its gory technicolor detail, because some have suggested to me that I am sanctimonious and that it’s easy to be so when everything’s going okay)! It’s not going okay, but I’m pretty sure – if not absolutely positive – that I can get it back to good.

So what’s the plan?

Well, most likely it will be lose the last ten pounds yet again! I hope it is no more than that but it is hard to say standing naked in front of a mirror beneath the flourescent lights of the airport Hampton Inn! Ugh.

I keep hoping that at least half of it is water because it is well known that your body retains water in order to protect its vital organs from the acid in alcohol. But not even I am delusional enough to think that my body felt so threatened that it decided to hold on to a body of water the magnitude of the Russian River!

Enough, KJ! It would be all too easy to beat myself up over this (and, hey, I’m doing pretty good without even trying), but what I really need to do is develop a reasonable and sustainable plan. Step one: stay off the scale for at least one week after resuming my normal diet and exercise routine. Step two: drop back down to 1200 calories a day. Step three: no matter what, don’t do anything extreme (like try exercising 8 hours a day) or give up. Overkill in either direction at this point, would be a very bad idea!

Who knows? This could be the best thing that happened to my weight loss endeavors!

How so, you ask? Well now that there can be no doubt that I’m taking in enough calories, the weight should just roll right off when I start exercising again, right? Well, it could happen! And, theoretically, it should, holding all else constant.

I’ll keep you posted. And once I’ve been back at it for a week I’ll even tell you how much damage was actually done!

I had a great time, but suffice it to say that I’m glad to be on my back home. I missed my routine, I missed my cats, and I missed having steady Internet access!

And just as an FYI (as if this whole post has been anything but), given the quality of airport food, something tells me that I’ll be having at least one of the new smoothies at Starbuck’s (complete with fiber powder – at Starbuck’s, can you believe it?) all for a mere 280 calories each! Now that I’m back in the real world, I’ll also be sure to let you know how they taste!

The best laid plans of mice and men

Well, my intentions were good.

I’m writing this, really, as penance and to simply put it out there that I have off days (weeks) just like everyone else!

I missed exercise for two days. The first day was just insanely busy and then yesterday I stupidly let myself be talked into going to conferences and meeting people. You know what? I would have been much happier working out and I am pretty darned sure that my eating would have been better as well!

I suppose that when one is at a professional conference, you should take the opportunity for professional development and for social and professional networking. And it is true that I made a lot of contacts with publishers and got some great ideas for future projects while I was not at the gym. In that sense, I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. But not going to the gym seemed to invite over eating (and, in some cases, over drinking).

Prior to this conference, I hadn’t had more than two glasses of wine in a month, but it seems like I’ve developed a three glass minimum these days ;( Alcohol is a slippery slope when it comes to diet. Why?

One, alcohol is full of empty calories!

Two, alcohol lowers your inhibitions when it comes to food!

Three, alcohol lowers your blood sugar, which causes you to store fat (always a plus – not)!

Four, alcohol is highly acidic and once you start creating an acidic environ in your body, your body craves additional acid! In other words, you crave things like white bread, sugar, alcohol, etc. Essentially, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

I haven’t managed to stop entirely, but I have managed to put on the breaks.

After a pretty indulgent day on Sunday, yesterday, I had my normal shake breakfast (even though hotel ice blends much quicker than ice cubes from a tray, the people next door hate me!), a bagel (highly acidic, but decidedly yummy), a beet salad with avocado and feta cheese, some cashews, a Lara Bar, a salad, some whole wheat bread sticks, and a plate of fabulous veggies (sauteed spinach, baby carrots, and grilled asparagus. (And , uhm, a third of a bottle of pinot noir – nobody’s perfect and we are, after all, in California).

I’ve been drinking my highly alkaline green stuff daily (sometimes three times a day!) but I feel like I’m losing the battle.

This morning, I decided no more excuses. Instead of procrastinating (or networking) I immediately rolled out of bed and went to the gym. All of the machines that I liked were full, but I hopped on the StairMaster anyway. An hour and close to 600 calories later, I realized that for the first time in two days, I felt like myself! I’m not saying that those 600 calories are going to change anything when it comes time to step on the scale when I get back home, but the psychological benefits were definitely real!

I literally danced my way back to my room, still plugged into my iPod shuffle! And even though tomorrow is our last day in a hotel with a gym, I am re-committed to move my body even if it means – poor me – a long walk on the beach!

(Notice, I said nothing about reducing the wine)!