Monday, February 27, 2012

Sioux Falls from the Air

Feel kinda bad that the blog has turned into one long narrative about my weight loss efforts, so here's some pretty scenery to brighten your day!

Sioux Falls Day 1

Ok - day 1 of the difficult week is done!

Fitness-wise, today started out easily enough: I got up early enough to get in an hour's walk before leaving for the airport, I had my usual ham sammy with grapefruit juice this morning for breakfast, nothing except black coffee at the Richmond airport, and a diet coke and water on the flights (neither flight offered a snack anyway).  However.  In the middle of it all was the Chicago layover, which, if it proved anything, proved that someone up there likes messing with my head.

I knew it was going to be tough, but when we chose a bar & steakhouse for lunch that advertises its 8 oz burgers, fries & beer combos, it took all my self control to limit my order to water and a spinach salad with shrimp.  'No problem', I told myself, 'a salad now means I can allow myself a nicer dinner with a glass of wine, and besides, spinach salads are tasty and filling and it's coming with shrimp and a few croutons to fill me up.'  Well, first of all, the salads turned out to be a wee bit smaller than what I'd consider right-sized for a meal.  And second of all, the waiter got my order wrong, and gave me some kind of signature house salad with some raisins, nuts and blue cheese sprinkled in with some raspberry dressing.  Not bad, really, but not what I wanted, and missing the croutons that I was counting on for some carbs.  Because I'm a sap, I ate it rather than send it back, and left the restaurant feeling not very fulfilled.

I bought some water so that I'd at least feel full, and made my way to the connecting gate ... which happened to be directly across from a Cinnabon.  A Cinnabon that (intentionally I'm sure) had a fan pointed straight at us blowing the aroma of fresh baking cinnamon rolls.  After silently cursing myself for scheduling a 3 hour layover ('oh, it'll be great, we can log in and do work and not have to rush' ... yeah), I told myself that hell would freeze over before I let myself be defeated by a cheap and transparently obvious (and yet woefully effective) marketing gimmick.  So I grabbed my iPod and my laptop and got busy being annoyed with our Compliance department and their ever-shifting requirements.  2 hours later I left O'Hare with the same number of cinnamon rolls as when I arrived:  zero!  :)

So that was good, but by the time we got to Sioux Falls and worked through all the check-in rigamarole, I was really starting to feel it.  I get cranky when I'm hungry, and after a smaller-than-normal lunch with no carbs for long-term energy that wasn't even what I wanted in the first place ... well, let's just say I didn't paricularly care whether we got the Camry, the Altima, or the Impala, just so long as both were capable of getting us to the hotel restaurant (we ended up with the Impala).

It was all worth it though: a healthy salad and cinnabon-free afternoon meant I could enjoy this:

A new york strip with mushrooms, wild rice, and cooked carrots: tasty & filling, FAR fom the worst thing that I could've ordered, and utterly relaxing when you add in the wine.  I think I really needed that kind of dinner tonight, if only for my own sanity: it let me feel like I was rewarding myself for my earlier restraint, even though I really wasn't having anything that would make me feel overly guilty anyway.

Finally, I capped all that off with an hour of cardio at the hotel gym, and I'm soon I'm going to bed tonight with a day that would've been good even if I wasn't traveling, and feeling pretty damn pleased with myself ;)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weight Update and a Challenging Week Ahead

Sunday is my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers, which also makes it a good day for sharing progress on my weight-loss journey.  I'm pleased to report, so far, so good!  My goal is to be down to 180 by my sister's wedding in late April, and if you do a trendline between where I was at the start at February and where I want to be, it's about 2 and a half pounds per week.  The blue dots are my actual weigh-ins, which (woo-hoo!) are following the line.  My scale also tracks % body fat, which I use to calculate lean weight and fat weight (the red and yellow dots).

 As I said, so far so good.  Keeping this up, though, is going to be difficult for a couple of reasons.  First, there's the simple fact that it gets harder and harder to keep losing the pounds at the same rate.  That's nature, though, and nothing much you can do about it except keep at it.

Second, there's a lot going on this week.  Monday through Wednesday I'm flying out to South Dakota to visit an operations center, and business trips aren't exactly conducive to watching your calorie intake.  You eat out for every meal, most options aren't really all that healthy, the portion sizes are huge, and you usually have a drink or two with dinner.  You can try to limit portion sizes, but then you have a lot of food left over, and I hate to waste food (and what's the alternative?  take it on the plane back to Richmond?).  After the trip, I have a couple of dinners planned with old friends which will mean going out and getting a few drinks in the second half too.  So it's going to be a hard week.  Hard, but not impossibly hard.

One of the benefits of a hotel is that it comes with a gym, which I can (and intend to) take advantage of.  In fact, I've already set up Netflix to have a bunch of sitcoms that I can watch during cardio to make the time go quicker.  And I'll be an hour behind, which will make getting up early in the morning to exercise easier, and I can always go at night after dinner.  So in theory I can get a lot of physical activity in, which I have a feeling I'm going to need.

Portion control will be harder.  First, you have no idea how large the items that you order are actually going to be.  Second, judging a 'portion' is difficult and you have very little idea what's actually in it.  Third, there's the aversion to wasting food that I mentioned already.  And yet even with all this, being smart about what I eat is still the most controllable part of this whole trip.

So, at least for the first part of the week, the mission will be to a) take advantage of the hotel gym and b) be as strong-willed as possible when it comes to food.  Definitely thinking that a food-photo-journal might be in order this week to keep me honest.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

In Which I Pep-Talk Myself

Ok world, fair warning, Nik is going to mope a bit and try to cheer himself up.  Today was not an easy day to stay motivated, nor was it a particularly satisfying day in my quest to get physically fit.  The odd part is, looking at the day objectively, it really should've been great.

This morning the scale smiled at me and told me that I'm on track for my weight loss goal.  My clothes are noticeably looser, and I'm doing a great job staying on my weight watchers plan.  So I was actually feeling pretty good about myself, until this evening when somebody snapped a picture of me and the same old pudgy face showed up on the screen.  And honestly, it kind of sucked.  I mean, logically I know that losing 7 pounds when you're starting from 50 pounds overweight isn't really going to be a noticeable change.  And by objective measures (the aforementioned scale and clothes) I'm doing great.  I guess I was just expecting ... something.  Some noticeable change towards a less pudgy Nik.  Couldn't see it, though :(

So, after that rather demoralizing revelation, I had a choice.  I could go home and mope, or I could go to the gym.  And I'll be honest, I did NOT want to go.  Cardio is getting easier, but lifting is still very much a chore.  I know eventually it'll get more enjoyable (at least it will if my sister is any indication), but right now it's not, I was tired, plus I now had the whole "why am I doing this if I can't see results" thought stuck in my head from the pudgy-pic earlier on.  Somehow, though, I forced myself to go, and I got in a solid 40 minutes of lifting before I had to stop (my body isn't used to that much exertion yet and I get queasy after a while).  After the gym, knowing that I had used up a lot of points with the 2 beers I had at a welcome-back party (kept my hands off the apps though, yay!), I stopped at Kroger and got a package of lettuce, then took it home and made a healthy salad for dinner that kept me under my daily point limit.

So I guess the verdict for today is victory, even though right now it doesn't really feel like one.  I know I made some good decisions today and kept on the path even though I didn't want to, and I know tomorrow I'll feel great (and sore, which I love).  It just doesn't really FEEL like I accomplished anything today or that I'm making progress.  Gotta stick with it though - I know I really am making progress, that it'll get easier, and that powering through days like this is ultimately what will get me to where I want to be.   Soon enough pudgy-pic-nik will be a thing of the past!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Pix

Pretty.  The way snow reflects the light from everything around it always amazes me, no matter how many times I see it.

My New Toy, and 3 Epiphanies

I have a new toy! According to the credit card receipt, as of 7:45 Wednesday evening, I am the proud owner of a brand new Motorola Xyboard tablet pc. It's been something I've been thinking of for a while, and tonight when I went to the Verizon store to get my new phone (only partially successful, but that's another post) I finally broke down and got one.  And you know what?  This thing is awesome.

It's light, portable, user friendly, has a gigantic crystal clear display, and I can play Angry Birds on it (which overheated my first smartphone, and is too advanced for my current smartphone pos to handle).  Via apps it can connect directly to my Netflix account, which will come in VERY handy when I run out of things to watch on my iPod at the gym.  And MotoCast lets me share any file between laptop and the tablet (cool so far, but still figuring out whether I'm comfortable with whatever security it has embedded in it)

Not all is wine and roses, though.  During the week it's lead to 3 somewhat-related-but-largely-not epiphanies:

  1. I have a LOT of cords at my desk.  I realized this when I went to connect Xyboard to my laptop for the first time, and had to move everything around.  I have cords for Xyboard, 2 iPods, my external hard drive, my mouse, and 3 power cords.  And that's without a printer of any kind.  That's too many, especially since my laptop only has 2 easily accessible USB ports (there are 2 on the other side too, for a total of 4, but the way it's setup they're just not convenient to use).  Maybe I'll go out and get a USB hub; bonus points if I can find the USB hub man, since my soon-to-be-brother-in-law wanted one but didn't get one :P
  2. I only have one charger at my bedside table.  That was doable when I only had my cell phone and blackberry to worry about, but now with Xyboard one lonely little charger can't handle it, and I'm going to have to reshuffle plugs.  That probably means getting a surge protector, which now that I think about it, probably isn't a bad idea given all the electronics I plug in at night.
  3. I don't have a bedside lamp.  This never used to be a problem, since I'd always turn out the light and get straight into bed, but now I can play with Xyboard at night a bit before going to sleep.  There are two problems with no light: first, once I turn everything out, I can't find Xyboard easily in the dark.  Second, in the pitch darkness the screen is a little too brilliantly clear and actually a little harsh, I need some ambient light to cut down on the harshness.
Finally, not an epihpany per se, but just a observation about myself: I still treat Xyboard with kid gloves, and am terrified of dropping it.  Some of that is probably due to my experience with my old Incredible, the rest of it is probably just the usual way I act around anything brand new.  I haven't even taken off the factory plastic from the screen yet, even though I bought 4 screen protectors when I bought Xyboard.

Seriously, though, if the 4 items above are all that I can complain about, I have a pretty good life.  :)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Snowy Richmond

Richmond is a bit of a crap shoot when it comes to snow. On the one hand, you have the 25% or so that grew up in a snowier climate and know how to deal with it, and when it snows, it's no big deal. On the other, you have the 75% who know that occasionally there's this cold white stuff called 'snow' that falls from the sky, and have no freakin clue what to do.  The best part (or worst, if you're not cynical like I am) is that they all react in completely different ways.
First you have the people who think it's Armageddon, who stock up on 2 weeks' worth of non-perishables from the store at the slightest hint of a flurry.  Even though they mob the grocery store and make it difficult for the rest of us who are trying to shop, I actually like this group the best, since they typically barricade themselves in their homes and don't go out on the roads.  At least they're being safe.

Then you have the idiots who think that snow isn't any different from rain and you can drive like a maniac.  I spent my formative years in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and I know how to drive in snow: I'm not terrified of it, but I know it's something to be respected and approached with more caution than rain.  These other idiots, though, throw caution to the wind and try to take an iced-over curve at 60mph, with predictable results.

Third, you have the people who are cautious to a fault, and sometimes actually make things more dangerous for the rest of us by doing so.  These are the people who creep 10-15mph down a road when 35-40mph would be quite safe.  My initial reaction is to be annoyed at these people (especially when I'm stuck behind one), although when it's on a city road or something similar I try to remind myself that they're doing all they can to be safe and I should be glad they're doing it.  Where I DON'T try to tolerate these people, though, is the interstate.  There is a reason there's a minimum 40mph on the highway, and it's because going extra slow actually makes it dangerous for everyone else.  If it's hours after the snow has stopped and the highway is just wet and you're still so terrified that you can't go more than 20mph, then you should not be driving on the interstate.

Finally, you have the people who just don't know what to do.  These are usually kind of comical.  Like the car I saw last year who didn't clear the 2 inches of snow off his windshield before taking his car out for a drive: I watched him drive 3 blocks with his head stuck out the driver's side window before he turned to a cross street.  Or the people who put their wiper blades up because everyone else is doing it, and then leave them up as they're driving.  Or the people who don't know how much salt to use and default to literally covering every square inch of their sidewalk with a 2-inch deep layer of salt.

In any case, if you can avoid the grocery store mob and don't get caught in traffic with someone who can't drive in snow, it's not all that bad.  It's pretty to look at, and it'll usually get you a day off of work :)