Saturday, August 17, 2013

Apparently I'm a Yogi

I went to a new yoga class recently.  A friend of mine has opened a studio and started teaching her own classes, and I wanted to support her and to try a new class for a change.  The room was filled with yoga newbies, as well as a couple people who have been doing yoga forever.

At the end of the class, somebody made a comment to me about me being "really good."  I was shocked.  Am I really good at yoga?  I don't see myself as being that person.  But maybe I am.  I guess I compare myself to all these perfect little size 2's who can throw their legs over their shoulders, and I know that's not me.

But I guess, compared to a room full of beginners, I'm "really good."  Compared to what I could do a year or two ago, I'm "really good."  Maybe this is who I am now.

I think I like it!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

FitBit One and Withings Pulse Comparison

I previously mentioned my desire to try out both of these products--and as of the mail delivery yesterday - I own them both.  Here is what you can learn from me.  I've had the FitBit One for a little over a month - and while I purchased it only to "get me by" until Pulse was released...I've grown very fond of it.  I've had the Pulse on for about 24 hours - so the comparison here may not be my "final vote".  I wanted the Pulse because it works with Android.  Both devices run around $99.  The FitBit has been around longer and can be found online and in stores (Best Buy / Target / eBay).  The Pulse is available on Withings website - checkout through Amazon or Google+.

FitBit One - Pulse
Good battery life.  It goes about a week between charges.  It sends an email to me when it is running low.  Reports a two week battery life.  Charged fast with a USB. (Don't know how it will tell me when it is low.)

Good online community.  There are "groups" and message boards - the groups are hard to search as there are thousands and NO search feature. Duh.  Also, if you join a group, you are following EVERY post in that group - sometimes annoying.  I like the online competition.  It ranks your steps vs. others.  For this reason alone yesterday, I found myself walking in front of the TV to surpass my steps goal by about 4,000...had to bring my ranking up!!! I will admit, I have avoided adding "high steppers" as friends as I need someone that is in my ballpark range so there is hope of catching up .This feature is said to "be coming" for Pulse.  Will see how annoying this is with the timeline and also if the community is accessible from laptop or only from phone.  The lack of this feature does leave me feeling a little sad.   :(

It is sweat and splash proof.  Not shower or pool proof.  (Though several people have reported accidental dunks and survival with the rice drying method.)  Reported sweat and splash proof - however, it does encourage you to wear it where it will get the less contact with sweaty that doesn't inspire confidence.  

It "talks" with My Fitness Pal.  So you get credits for your steps / activity on My Fitness Pal automatically.  I still had to play around with where to add an Exercise (MFP is the answer for me) but the tools work well together.  Does not work with MFP - so info currently would have to be plugged in.  

It tracks sleep - reports how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke, how much time was restless.  I look forward to this data every morning.  It also has a silent alarm vibration - it is a nice way to wake up.  Others report they have used this alarm to remind them to get up and move.  Tracks sleep.  Very similar data.  It does offer an additional App to go with it for more sleep data - I haven't explored yet, but curious.  

Records calorie burn based on BMR - if you are more active your calorie burn is higher.  I like that it shows calorie burn for all life events - because you can clearly see how much energy it takes to run your body and compare that to how many calories you are consuming.  Only counts active calorie burn.  I haven't decided if this is a pro or con yet.  On the good side - IF it begins to work with MFP, it will only share calories burned from activity.  This also means I could hit my steps goal and still not look active on MFP.  

It allows you to set your own step goal - I started mine at 7,000 because of my desk job.  Steps seem to be accurate. It does not allow you to adjust your goal - daily suggestion is 10,000. 

And how do you get this data?  There is a plug for charging (USB) and a plug for transmitting info to your computer - so all the groups / rankings can be accessed on your laptop.  When you are close by it auto-syncs every 15ish minutes.  If you have an iphone it syncs to that as well.  If you don't it has VERY LIMITED Android friendliness.  So my phone dashboard is only as accurate as my last sync.  On the FitBit device you can only view TODAY's stats!    Data syncs to Android with Bluetooth connection at the push of a button (which I will admit is slightly annoying).  There is no computer setup but there is also no access with your computer to your dashboard.  The Pulse will allow you to view several days data on the device.  

Both devices track walking up an incline - the Pulse refers to this in feet climbed, which is at least a standard measurement.  FitBit tracks flights of stairs - how many stairs is a flight?  Who knows.  Sometimes a hill is a flight of stairs, sometimes it is 2 flights.  I have not figured out the measurement.  You can set a goal for how many flights you would like to hit each day.

Pulse has the ability to take your pulse.  It is not meant to be a Heart Rate Monitor.  It is meant to compare your resting heart rate - by taking this early each day you can see if you have lowered your resting heart rate.  Lower resting heart rates are healthier.  It's a cool feature.  

I haven't' decided which one is for me yet - apparently I have 7 days for a Pulse return.  It's going to be tough choice. But if you are in the market for an activity / sleep tracker these are two of the top in the market to consider.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Breaking My Own Rules

I've been up to a variety of things---and the theme seems to be, "if you would never consider doing it, better try it out".  I have previously HATED Zumba.  I was intimidated by the whole idea of being in a class and not being good enough / able to keep up.  And honestly, the idea of sweating with strangers is something I have not been able to wrap my mind around ---and people PAY for these classes!

And then I joined a fitness program with the city that was a couple of events a month...I thought it was a walking group in different locations around town.  Turned out the kickoff event was a 2 hour Zumba class!

I spent a large amount of the first class laughing.  I did get sweaty, but I wasn't "good".  And I was baffled that everyone in the room knew the routines.  The second event was to be outside, but bad weather made it inside...and it was Zumba again.  I was much less nervous this time and actually found that I remembered bits and pieces of the dances.  And this small dose of success is all it took to make me fall deeply in love with the classes.

I started going to the regular classes with friends - and soon, I had to muster up the courage to attend alone (previously a thought that has caused panic).  I've been going a lot.  Often alone - I kind of like going alone now.  And I've felt confident enough to work my way up to row 4.

I've also decided to try Yoga - my work is offering a free class - it is at a very inconvenient time, at an inconvenient location and smack dab in the middle of the day.  I have previously done one Yoga DVD - I thought it was frustrating, too fast, not enough instruction and overall confusing.  I committed to trying the live class once - totally prepared to hate it, and three weeks later I'm loving it enough that I've requested it at my own location - so beginning in August I will be plugging it into my calendar twice a week.

And finally, I attended a Title Boxing Club class.  This also scared the crap out of me - I was seriously concerned about collapsing on the mats mid-class.  And during class this thought did re-enter my mind.  But I enjoyed it.  I have a free 7 day pass and hope to use it as much as my sore muscles will allow...haven't quite wrapped my mind around the cost associated with the club.

Overall, trying these new things has brought variety to my exercise - sometimes enough to make me LOOK FORWARD to it!  And I have often been surprised by how strong I am---that I'm not the worst one in the class and that I can push myself in ways I just couldn't explore without the peer pressure of an instructor / class.

And best of all - all of these sweaty experiences are showing up on the scale!  Perhaps my rebel spirit will be the secret to my weight loss?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Yoga is Hard

I've always thought plank was a hard pose.  The yoga class I'm going to lately has me doing all sorts of crazy twisty bendy balancing really hard stuff.  It's a different kind of hard than other yoga classes I've attended.

This chick is trying to get us all to do handstands and stuff.  But, believe it or not, I like it.  I mean, I can't actually DO most of it.  But she does a good job teaching us poses to do building up to these harder things.  And last time she said something about realizing that handstands are hard, and a lot of us aren't there yet, but we'll never GET there if we don't TRY and practice and work at it.

Anyway, as she had me doing all these lungy, sweaty, hard things, she said to step back into plank, and I found myself thinking, "Oh, thank God, plank.  Now I can finally rest a second."

Wow.  Maybe she's right.  I am getting better if plank is a restful pose!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Triple Bonus Points

I demand triple credit for going to yoga yesterday.

1.  I hadn't been in over a month due to the instructor's vacation and my sickness.  So, it's just hard to start up something like that when it's been so long.

2.  Both people who sometimes go with me decided not go to, and I still went all by myself.

3.  I showed up for class, in the location where class has always been, and there was no class.  No sign, no nothing.  And this studio is above a restaurant, as in, I had to walk through the restaurant with my yoga mat to go up to the studio.  Yet nobody who worked in the restaurant seemed to have a clue why there was no class.  As I was talking with a waitress, I noticed a sign on a bulletin board advertising yoga at the library at the same time.  So, whatever, I figured The Universe intended me to go to the library and do yoga last night.  And I did.  And lo and behold, there was THE CLASS at the library doing yoga.  Like oblivious to my confusion and the lack of communication.

Anyway, I went.  I did yoga.  It was hard.   And I get triple bonus points.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Can Taste Hot

How many times have I posted something about getting back on the wagon?  I don't even know.  But here I am again, this time because I've been sick for two weeks.  Some kind of sinus thing that's going around, and it's nasty, and I don't like it.

Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I wasn't just completely exhausted and feeling generally crappy.  I'm still not great, but I made it through my day today, and it was quite a long and stressful day.

I haven't been to yoga in two weeks.  I think I've walked a mile or so two times in two weeks.  I haven't been sleeping well, and my eating has been crazy.  I mean, I can't much taste anything, so I've eaten a lot of Taco Bell with a ton of hot sauce, simply because I can taste hot.

Plus I'm travelling and attending meetings, which always makes me testy, tired, and hungry.

So, tomorrow I'll be back home, and hopefully feeling even more like myself.  Then I can get back on a regular schedule of working out and eating well.  And sleeping.  Sleep is nice.   

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

All Kinds of Awesome

I'm settling back into my exercise routine, and I had an awesome yoga class today.  I found a new place, and I'm liking it a bit better than where I'd been going.  The environment is more yoga friendly (as opposed to the community center which is just a huge gym), and the class is earlier.  I'd rather leave work a bit early and be done with my day at 5:30 than work until 5:00 and then have to wait around for yoga at 6:30.  I don't get home until 8:00 then, IF I can make myself go to begin with.
Anyhow, this teacher almost always has us do some handstand stuff against the wall, and I never try it.  But I decided I would try today.  And then she didn't do it!  But, she did have us do wheel at the end, also known as a back bend.  I haven't done that in years.  Today I decided, well, heck, if she isn't going to do the handstands, I'll try wheel.  And I did it!  For a few seconds, but still.  I did it!
And then I ate the first strawberry out of my garden.  This strawberry:
Isn't it gorgeous?  And I GREW it.
I grew a strawberry, and I did a wheel.  I'm all kinds of awesome today.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Where is the Wagon?

I've fallen so far off the wagon, I can barely see the wagon anymore.  Life got really crazy there for a while, and I've been travelling for about two weeks straight.  Too much time in a car.  Too many meals out.  Too little control over what was served to me.  Not nearly enough yoga or walking or sleep.

But, I'm back home now, and I made a Wal-mart run last night to stock up on produce.  I plan to get back into the habit of daily walking and semi-weekly yoga.  (Or is it bi-weekly?  Which one means every two weeks, and which one means twice a week?  That always confuses me.)  And sleep...glorious sleep!  I am so happy to see my own bed and to get back on a normal schedule of sleeping and waking (and not sharing hotel rooms with strangers).

I'm trying to catch up to that wagon.  If you see the driver, tell 'em to look for me. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hair Color Is My Exercise Secret...Really

I recently discovered some "sparkling" hairs dancing around in my natural colored hair...and (gasp) after a closer look...they were not sparks...they were gray.  :(  After a declaration of "Hell No!"  I called the hair guru and insisted we consult on this tragedy.  I have done hair color in the past, but it fades.  Like in DAYS.  (Just another blessing of being me.)  So literally when I wanted my hair done for my wedding, I had to schedule it a DAY before the big event.  Shortly after the big event I had decided the price is too much (literally every hair color on the store shelf will turn my hair some version of red so I have to have my pro do it) and the benefit is too little...I swore off hair color.  That is, until the gray.

In my weight loss I continue to track my food with "My Fitness Pal".  And I have begun to do a walking program at home.  It makes me really, really disgustingly sweaty.  So I had come into a routine of showering (it is how I turn my brain on), going to work, coming home, exercise, shower again.  This was lovely and working with good result on a pretty regular basis.  That is, until the gray - and the hair color - and the threat that every shower is killing my color one day early.  

We did try a different kind of hair dye this time...I think it is gel based...I don't know what that means for the chemical reaction that is soaking on my brain.  But it looks good.  It seems to be lasting (for the record we are 30 days in and you can still actually tell my hair is a darker color than it previously was---progress).  

And it occurred to me... I don't sleep super well.  Like I usually wake up about 50ish minutes before my alarm.  I still hate morning and I still hate exercise, but I like my hair color.  And if I could just draggggg myself out of bed...the math looks good that I could do this damned exercise, then shower, then be free for the rest of the day.  And you know what?  Almost three weeks later - and I haven't died, I haven't killed anyone, and I dare say....I kind of like it.  

Now, before you hate me.  I do NOT LIKE it as I am crawling out of bed.  I DO NOT like it while I am doing it....I hate the instructor more every day.  I DO NOT like people that tell me how great they feel when they exercise first thing in the morning---they make me gag.  And now I am one of them.  (double gag)

I've done 2-4 miles most every day (4-6 days a week).  There have been mornings where I didn't sleep good and I've given myself permission to skip...but even then, I've usually ended up doing a mile or two.  I have enjoyed the lack of fight for the TV.  The lack of audience for my sweat session.  And that there I know in one wants to "walk with me".  I have taken to exercise only by the light of the TV...b/c it's 5 a.m. people, and I just don't need lighting at that hour of the day.

And something must be different.  On days that I walk in the morning - I do find that by the time I pull into the office, I feel like I've already concurred a bit of the day.  (I also enjoy seeing that I have already built in extra calories in the event that I go over my scheduled amount.)  I generally hit a MUCH higher step on my pedometer for the day...even compared to when I was doing the same exercise at the end of the day.  

So if you are looking at an unusual way to motivate yourself to fit exercise into your daily routine...consider hair color.  It's worked for me.  :)  

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Scale

I have purposely not been stepping on the scale for quite a while.  I just find that it derails me when I'm doing all the right things, then the scale doesn't reflect the effort I'm putting in.  So the last time I was on the scale was at my last doctor appointment, about six months ago.

Went back to the doctor today, and I decided to see what the scale had to say.  I'd lost about 15 pounds.  I'd like to point out, that last weigh-in was in July.  I was likely wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops.  And today I was wearing jeans, a long-sleeved top, and big clunky snow boots.  Plus I'd just eaten.  (Though I have no recollection of when I'd eaten last when I weighed six months ago.)

Anyway, I expected balloons and fanfare, or at least a comment from the doctor.  I got nothing.  But that's okay.  I know I'm doing well, and maybe that's good enough.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Underwear

I have big boobs and I cannot lie...!

Okay, seriously, I'm having issues with my undergarments.  I posted before about how somewhere early into this weight loss journey, I realized all my underwear is too big.  But really, the more serious concern is my bras.

I wear a bra size that is not readily available in stores.  Like I finally went and got fitted at a specialty store an hour and a half away from my house, and ended up paying crazy amounts of money for matronly bras that actually FIT.  And from there, once I knew my actual size, and a few brands that fit me well, I've been able to order more online here and there.

But you know how you always see those cute little bra and panty sets in stores?  Yeah, I can't wear those.  Won't even begin to cover my situation.  And on the very slim chance that a bra I'm buying comes with underwear at all, it's likely huge grandma panties.  Not sexy.  Besides, I'm really short.  So, if I wear like briefs, or even high cut underwear, I've got two inches sticking out the top of my jeans.  Again, not sexy.

So, for the last several years, I've just dealt with ginormous grandma bras and bikini's bought in a six pack at Wal-mart.  (Oh, don't even get me started on the situation with Victoria's Secret changing their cotton underwear after many years of fabulousness.  Someone should be fired.)

Well, the other day, I was browsing ebay, and I found that if one is persistent and sleuthful, one can find bras in my size that are not so matronly, and rarely (but it happens!) one can find panties that match said bras.  !!!!!  So, now I'm on a mission.

I ordered one set so far, and it came yesterday, I think from Sri Lanka, or some equally obscure foreign place.  Not the highest quality, and the bra isn't really supportive enough for every day.  But, they're pretty!  Yay!  I have a few other brands saved in "my ebay" and I'm thinking tax refund means more lacy shiny things will be coming my way.

I deserve pretty underwear.  And I'm pretty sure you do too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Here We Go Again- 2013 Version

I finished 2012 with only my one trip to McDonalds--and since that was a breakfast visit and did not involve any of my most-loved golden fries - I will mark this in my memory as a success!  

I could reflect on how my weight went up and not down this year, but I did not set any goals to make it go down.  I could point out my lack of exercising - but I didn't have a goal to do any amount of exercising.  So I think it would be pointless.  

For some time (you'd have to dig back years to see the evidence) I was fighting with myself about logging my food.  I have had good results in the past using this technique, but for whatever reason I simply could NOT get myself to do it.  

Well, for unknown reasons, in November I started DOING something.  I know that pre-holiday is not the best time to begin new food habits - but I say go with the inspiration.  I found an app called - MyFitnessPal.  I've tried online food tracking before and I hated it.  So I just wanted to TRY this.  I just wanted to SEE what was happening - in black and white.  

And, I'm loving it.  In the beginning I would log the food and I then could see how this would immediately change my eating habits.  If I knew I only had 360 calories left for dinner, I would be much more mindful of what I chose for snack, how much I put on my plate for dinner, and what I suggested the dinner menu be.  

I have gone over my calorie count SEVERAL days.  It was the holidays.  But I was much more AWARE that a slice of coconut cream pie was the same calories as a healthy meal, so I didn't eat 2 slices in a day.  (Baby steps people.)  

I did lose some weight right away.  I did regain this weight over the holiday.  I only allowed myself to feel bad about this for a micro-second.  If I had not been logging my food, I could have easily come out of the holidays with 5 more pounds of me to love.  And that would have been new levels of BAD.  

So here's why I like MyFitnessPal in a nutshell.  If you are searching for a tool, it might be for you- if not, it was free so no loss!  You can scan barcodes, and it imports all the nutritional info!!!  It is for iphone and ANDROID people - no discrimination.  It is accessible from your phone and your laptop (you could opt to only use the laptop if you don't do the smartphone thing).  You can enter your own RECIPES and it calculates nutrition (so you don't have to feel "left out" if you are eating home cooking).  You can look at your nutrition for the day. (I would have told you that I have a low sugar diet - I would have been WRONG.)   You can track exercise, water, weight, measurements, and notes daily.  You can search from a huge database of foods - home cooked, restaurants, and off the shelf- it keeps your recent choices close- all of this makes entry a breeze.  It is really easy to use and it gives you praise--even when it would be hard to find something nice to say.  (Think:  You logged on 12 days in a row!!!)  You can connect to friends to motivate each other or compete if that is your thing.  

So here are the goals for 2013:
1.  Pull out my pedometer again and try to increase the number.  ( I am kind of lusting for a fitbit one, but until they play nice with DROID - they will not get my money.)
2.  Just say no to the golden arches- zero visits in 2013.  
3.  Log with MyFitnessPal- use info to improve eating choices.
4.  Activity 3 times a week- for 15 minutes.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tomorrow Just Like Today

I'm reading a book that I'll soon be reviewing on my other blog, but I had to post an idea from it here.  The book is The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It.  The new year is a good time to be learning about willpower, and I'm actually getting a lot out of the book.  I'm really interested in brain research and the biological and psychological reasons we do what we do.

Anyway, one concept from the book is the idea of "tomorrow just like today."  We tend to think that we'll start the new diet, exercise program, project, whatever tomorrow.  It's easy to talk yourself into not taking the steps today if you convince yourself you'll do it tomorrow.

If you go into it with the idea that tomorrow will be just like today, it seems more important to do the right thing today.  It's easy to say I'll skip my walk today, because I'll take a longer one tomorrow.  But if I have the idea in my head that whatever I do today is exactly what I'll do tomorrow, then it seems more critical to make today the best it can be.

So, even though I'm fighting a little cold (both in my head and outside in the weather), I've made myself take at least a short walk every day this week.  "Tomorrow, just like today."  Better walk today then!