July Progress

 

Photo by Gregory Bull

Ouch!  Was I the only one that found this hard to watch?  I knew that there was an upset in gymnastics from web chatter, but I really tried to tune it out so I could watch it unfold on the broadcast.  I’ve never really understood the rule that only allows two gymnasts from each country to move on to the all-around.  To finish fourth out of 60 competitors and still not move on to the finals?

BRUTAL.

Fortunately my feedback loop isn’t so public, and I’ve still got eleven months to try to make a positive finish.  In case you missed it, on July 1 I set out to lose 41 pounds.  I picked this number for a couple of reasons:

  1. It gets me into a “healthy” BMI range, and
  2. I’m forty-one (kinda random, I know).

I also set some daily resolutions to help me make progress.  I’m a firm believer that what gets monitored gets done.  Those seven goals were:

  1. 30 minutes of exercise
  2. 7 hours of sleep
  3. Strength training 3x/week
  4. 80 oz. of water
  5. Keep a food journal
  6. 1400 calories or less
  7. 3 servings of freggies
  8. Less than 40 grams of sugar
  9. 70 grams of protein

Ideally, this is where I’d tell you my stats, but in all honesty, I didn’t keep my resolution chart for the full month.  I can’t really give you specifics.  I can tell you that I fell flat on the strength training and the freggies.  Everything else is a guess.

I did lose some weight though.  July 1 I weighed in at 183 lbs.  On July 29, my last weekly weigh-in for the month, I weighed in at 181.4.  An official loss of 1.6 lbs. for the month.

If I’m going to meet my goal for the year, I’m going to have to improve.  I need to lose just over 3 lbs. each month.  Since I didn’t do well tracking the Health and Well-Being Resolutions for July, I’m going to carry them over into August.  I’ll have two sets of resolutions to track next month.

More on August’s goal area tomorrow.

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Weekend Wanderings 7-28-12

It’s that time again!

Lazy Saturdays and time to catch up on all of the reading and exploring I didn’t get to during the work week.  Some of the things I found interesting…

 

A beautiful home tour courtesy of Garance Dore.

Tips for buying a new sofa from Apartment Therapy.

Lisa Congdon’s beautiful hand lettering project.

And for a lighthearted moment, Jeremiah’s “Conversation with my 12-year-old Self”

If I could talk to my 12-year-old self, I think I’d tell myself not to worry too much about the move.  It will take a while, but eventually you’ll learn to love that place.

Anything you would tell your younger self?

Solo

Are you comfortable going out in public alone?

Not going to the mall or running errands, but say, going to a restaurant?  Or a concert?

Last night there was a concert in town I really wanted to see.  Two of my favorite artists from the 80s.  I didn’t have someone to go with me, so I passed.

I travel a lot for work, and while I eat a lot of room service (or even better, bring and prepare my own food), I’ve gotten used to going to a busy restaurant with a book or work project and eating a meal by myself.  I like to people watch, and eating alone can be a good excuse for that if you don’t end up feeling creepy staring at others.

It’s not natural though.  I’m not totally at peace at a table for one.

Thing is, you HAVE to eat.  You don’t have to listen to music, or go to the ballet.  But those types of things enrich your life.  They create memories that you carry with you.

Last night, when the concert was going on, I found myself wondering what songs were playing, who I might have known there, and I wonder if I cheated myself out of something.

A Moment of Transparency

When I started my happiness project at the beginning of this month, I had planned to update progress each week.

It’s the last week of the month, and I’m just now getting to the first post!  I don’t know if that makes me a bad blogger, or a busy human being (or maybe both)!

As a reminder, my goal for the month of July is to work on health and well-being.  Specifically, I selected nine daily goals such as sleeping seven hours a day and drinking 80 oz. of water, and made a table where I could track the goals each day.

The transparent part?  Well, to do that, I would have had to be good about actually using the chart, and I haven’t.  In fact, right now, I couldn’t tell you where it is.

The good news is that even without the chart, I can share some progress with you.  My starting weight on July 1, 2012 was 183 lbs.  My goal for the next twelve months is to lose 41 lbs. or roughly 3.4 pounds a month.  So far, I’m on target.  My weekly weigh-ins so far:

  • July 1: 183
  • July 8: 181
  • July 15: 175.6
  • July 22: 177

Not bad for inconsistent effort.  I think I’ll continue the July goals into August and add the new ones when I switch focus areas.

Weekend Wanderings

During the week I find I don’t have much time to read all the news, blogs and such that I would like.  Thank goodness for the weekend though!

I can slow down a little bit and meander through the interwebs looking for interesting, unusual or beautiful things.  In this space, I’ll share with you some of what I come across that I think is worth sharing.

 

Still Life with Hamsters via Feature Shoot.

Seven Ways to Boost Your Energy via The Happiness Project.

A Fun Catalogue Challenge from Girls of a Certain Age.

What a House Means to Me via A House in the Hills.

Beautiful Portraits from Burma via Lenscratch.

Quotable

It’s sometimes amazing to me that the things that seem new have actually been known forever.  Even Plato knew about the benefits of exercise, but we’re still (…some of us – well, let’s be honest – ME) fighting it.

I know that when I exercise, everything is better.  I sleep better.  I’m less moody.  I have more energy and focus during the day.  I don’t get headaches, or cramps, or other ailments to the same degree.  Yet some days it’s still hard to get off the couch.

The Best Fourth of July Song You’ve Never Heard (and four others)

Here in the states we’re celebrating Independence Day.  Today I’ve put together a little playlist.

The best Fourth of July song you’ve never heard:

My favorite sing-along for a backyard bbq: 

When I was a kid the amusement park always had a little stage show that ended with this song: 

Growing up, this song was always played right before the fireworks.  For some reason it always makes me tear up: 

My parents weren’t very big on TV.  We were the only kids at school who weren’t allowed to watch The Cosby Show.  We did get to watch the Boston Pops though.  Their Fourth of July concert will always hold a special place in my heart, and it just isn’t a true holiday without the 1812 Overture playing at the conclusion of the fireworks! 

Have a safe and blessed holiday!

Patience

Here Are the Rules… I Think

One of the important pieces of a Happiness Project is the identification of some personal rules.  Gretchen Rubin would call them “personal commandments.”  These are a set of ideals, specific to you, that you feel are important to follow to be the best person you can be.

On the Happiness Project website, there are lists of things that people have added to their personal commandment lists, and it’s interesting to see how different they can be.  I’ve been pondering this idea for a few months, and though I don’t think my list is done, I think I’ve made enough progress to share it.

I’ve changed the name.  As a devout Christian, I have trouble calling anything a commandment that isn’t from the Bible.  (Weird personal quirk – I know!)  So I’ve decided to call mine Guiding Principles instead.  Here they are, as they stand now, subject to change.

  1. God first.  Family Second.  Work Third.
  2. Be yourself.
  3. Be grateful.
  4. Accept yourself just as you are, even if you know you want to change.
  5. Do the right thing even when it’s uncomfortable.
  6. Eat for fuel, not entertainment.
  7. Control your money or it will control you.
  8. Live below your means.
  9. Collect experiences, not things.
  10. Don’t allow anything into your home that you do not know to be useful or beautiful.
  11. Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.
  12. If helping you is hurting me, it’s not OK.

There they are!  For now anyway.  I’ll explore them a little more as the project progresses.

Do you have any rules, commandments or guiding principles?  I’d be interested in hearing them.  As I said, this list is subject to change.

Patience

You Can’t Get the Butt You Want Sitting on the Butt You Have.

In preparation for this Happiness Project, one of suggested steps is to sit down and consider some questions:

  • What makes you feel good?
  • What makes you feel bad?
  • What challenges you?
  • What doesn’t feel “right” about your life?

When I answered those questions, I found recurring themes that helped me choose my monthly goal areas.  For the month of July, I will be focusing on my health and well-being.  More specifically, I’ll be focusing on my weight.

I have been overweight or obese my entire life.  I first remember really knowing I was fat when I was eight years old.  I was playing baseball that summer (not because I wanted to, but because my father wished I was a boy).  I was one of two girls on the team, and I was awful.  Not for lack of trying.  I really wanted to do well.  I wanted my father to be proud of me.

But when it came to baseball, I was never going to be good enough.

I don’t remember someone directly telling me I was fat that summer, but for years afterward, I would think of my team photo, and associate it with being grossly overweight.

For the next thirty years, my weight would continue to climb inexorably.  I started taking weight loss drugs in the eighth grade.  I did Weight Watchers.  I did several medically supervised diets.  My mother promised me several thousand dollars if I could get to “normal.”

Nothing worked.

Not for long.

At one point, after my mother’s death, I managed to lose 100 pounds, but I couldn’t keep it off.

Regaining that weight is the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my life.  I felt completely out of control watching the scale creep back up.  I cried.  I prayed.  My weight kept climbing.

I didn’t know that regaining that weight was normal.  That regaining that weight happened to 95% or more of people who lost significant amounts of weight (depending on what study you read).  I felt worthless.

Pathetic.

In July of 2007 I decided to undergo weight loss surgery.  This was a big deal.  If you’re not fat, you might not realize that there are right and wrong ways to lose weight.  A moral way and an immoral one.

A good fattie loses weight by sheer force of will.  Someone who has surgery is a cheater.  A lazy, horrible person taking the easy way out.

I had reached the point where I didn’t care.  At 298 pounds, I was at the high-end of what sizes were available in stores (a size 28/30 W).  I had to drive out-of-state to get clothes for work.  I couldn’t fit into an airplane seat or a chair in the conference room.  I hurt all the time.  And I couldn’t do it any more.

In preparation for surgery I learned a lot.  Like the fact that 97% of people who take the “sheer force of will” route regain all the weight within five years.  I learned about the way genetics and hormones play into your weight.  I read the book Rethinking Thin by science writer Gina Kolata and it changed my life.

I went under the knife in March 2008.  There was nothing easy about it.  With the help of surgery, working with a dietician and a personal trainer, I was able to lose 130 pounds.  I have kept most of that weight off.  (I tend to fluctuate 5-10 pounds)

My weight is an answer to all four questions above.  When I look at how far I’ve come, I feel happy.  When I look at the weight I’ve regained, I feel bad.  Keeping the weight off challenges me.  The fact that I never made it to goal weight doesn’t feel right.

I figure anything that hits all four of those buttons is a strong choice for my first challenge area in my Happiness Project.  So for the month of July, working on healthy eating and exercise habits is my challenge.  To help me get there, I’ve made some SMART goals:

  • Exercise 30 minutes/day
  • Strength train 3x/week
  • Eat three servings of freggies (fruits & veggies) a day
  • Stay below 1400 calories daily
  • Eat less than 45 grams of sugar a day
  • Eat a minimum of 70 grams of protein a day
  • Keep a food journal
  • Sleep 7 hours a night
  • Drink a minimum of 80 oz. of water a day

I’ve made a spreadsheet to keep track of these goals for each day this month.  My goal over the next 12 months is to lose 41 pounds – enough to be considered “healthy” on the BMI chart.

The First Post

It’s always a little intimidating.

The first few words you post on a brand new blog.

There is always a sense of excitement, hope and possibility.  Maybe a bit of dread.  A sense of exposure.  Some pressure.

But you’re driven to do it anyway.

In this space, I plan to document my personal Happiness Project.  I was inspired after reading Gretchen Rubin’s book of the same name earlier this year.  I’ve chosen a focus area to explore for each of the next twelve months, and if you choose to follow along, this is where you can read about my successes and failures along the journey.

I’ve chosen the title “Forty-One Project” because this blog will cover my forty-first year of life and during this time I’d also like to lose 41 pounds.  I’ll talk more about the weight later, but for right now, I’d like to extend a hearty welcome to you.  I hope you’ll hang around.

Patience