Getting into an exercise routine

I have written numerous times about trying to lose weight by counting calories. (Check out those posts here, herehere and here.) And it does work. Each time I have watched what I ate and counted my calories, I have lost weight. The problem comes when I reach my desired weight and stop counting. I slowly go back to my bad habits of eating when I am not hungry or eating whatever I want rather than making smart choices.

So as you can imagine, I weighed myself earlier this summer and realized I am at a weight I would rather not be. I would love to lose 5 lbs or better yet 10. Sigh. I think many women always feel that way. And while I know counting calories works, I just wasn’t ready to do that again since we were about to go on vacation, which means more eating out.

Instead, I decided to start watching what I ate (but not going so far as to drastically cut the calories) and concentrating on eating only when hungry and not when I had a craving for something sweet (or salty or whatever.) I also decided it was time to start exercising.

I used to not really worry about working out because I walked a lot. I would walk the kids to and from school EVERY day in my heeled sandals. But for some reason – laziness, the fact it is so hot here in Texas, or the kids just liked when I drove to pick them up – I stopped walking as much. I use to walk any time I needed to go to the school for meetings or the PTA, and suddenly I seem to be driving to the school all the time rather than walking.

So my plan was to start exercising more at home. Now I don’t like running and find walking boring – plus like I said I live in Texas, and it is HOT (104 degrees this past weekend). Heck, I really don’t enjoy exercising at all. I don’t get that rush of endorphins that some people talk about after their workout. Anyway, I have some DVDs with 10-minute workouts that I use to do so I thought I would start with that.

The problem with exercising is that in the past, I have never stuck with it for long. I would usually start off the New Year with plans to exercise, but then I would end up getting sick and get out of the routine. Or life just got busy and exercising wasn’t a top priority. Heck, I can’t even make writing a top priority, and I love that.

So in July, I made two changes. I made both exercise and writing top priorities. Instead of putting off writing until I have time, I have been doing it first. I have set a minimum I want to do and have been pretty good about following through. I have not only finished my first draft of my latest novel I am well into draft two because of my dedication. (Of course, course my PTA responsibilities pick up this month, so we will see if I can keep this up.)

The other change was to start doing 20-minute workouts three days a week (Monday, Wednesday & Friday). My husband also purchased a stationary bike with the hopes that we both would use it. I have been trying to use it three times a week and using it if I don’t get to my DVD workout. It is pretty easy to use while watching TV.

I must say I have been doing pretty well with this new exercise routine. Of course like my writing goal, I have to see if I can maintain this routine when PTA responsibilities pickup.

Now has this exercise plan helped at all with weight loss? Not so far. I know I need to get better at watching what I eat, but it is hard during the summer when the kids and I are out and about. Maybe after school starts and I get i a school-time routine, I will add counting calories back into my life. Until then, I will just keep exercising and writing.

Counting calories to lose weight

Woman holding her mouth uid 1461141Way back in January, I mentioned in a post that I wouldn’t mind losing 5 pounds. At the time, I weighed around 128. In July, I went to the doctor, and their scale showed me weighing 134! Needless to say, I realized that day I needed to do something.

I am getting older and know my metabolism is changing. (I will be 41 later this month.) I also realize people don’t get fat overnight. The weight just slowly creeps up on them. I figure I need to do something about this now or end up overweight as a few of my friends have become as they have gotten older.

When I was married 18 years ago, I weighed 104. Now there is no way that I am going back to that weight. My body has changed in those years. After all, I did have two kids. But I would like to get back down to 120. I think that is a perfectly realistic goal and appropriate for someone who is 5’ 2″.

I know that most diets don’t work. You need to change HOW you eat. You need to make lifestyle changes. Looking at my diet, I realized that a lot of my problem was portion control and eating when I wasn’t really hungry. To me, it made sense that I should work on counting calories as a way to lose weight. If I cut out eating the ice cream and snacking when the kids did, I should easily be able to shed a few pounds.

I checked several calorie counters out there, and they said to maintain my current weight, I needed to eat 1800 calories. To lose a pound a week, they suggest cutting 500 calories a day which sounded like a lot to me. Of course, I really had no clue how many I was currently eating. So I began counting my calories. I chose to do this with the help of an app from Livingstrong.com.myplate I chose the free version of MyPlate. It has many of the foods – including restaurant meals – already listed in it, or you can manually enter your food.

Part of the trick of counting your calories is knowing how much you are eating. I, like most people, just pour cereal in my bowl and dig in. But doing this means you really have no clue if you are eating one serving or two. So I began measuring my food. It was eye-opening to say the least. How does 10 chips really make a serving? Who knew that EACH flour tortilla was 100 calories? And that there are 500 calories in a small McDonald’s milkshake?

So for the past month I have been measuring my food and counting my calories. The app has suggested 1319 as my target goal for calories per day. I have been over every day. Basically, this only gives you 400 calories per meal with 119 for snacks. While breakfast is easy to keep under 400, lunch and dinner are hard to do. But I have kept my calorie count to less than 1600 each day (200 under the amount to maintain my weight.) I figure with this count I may not be losing a pound a week but half a pound a week. That is fine with me. I am not in a hurry, and I don’t want to feel like I am starving.

As for August 30 (five weeks into my calorie counting experiment), I have lost 7 and a half pounds. I have been feeling pretty good about this plan. Once I meet my weight loss goal, I will change the app to “maintain weight” and count calories for a while until I have a good idea of how much I can eat and not gain weight. Now that the kids are back in school, I am hoping to begin exercising again. With these changes, I am confident I can meet and maintain my ideal weight.

Never going to be a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow type Momma

BlocksAs much as I would love to be a spontaneous, go-with-the flow momma, I have already concluded that won’t be me.

I am the organized, punctual type, and nothing is going to change that. If I have an appointment at 10 am, I absolutely hate to be late to it. Yes, I know sometimes things beyond my control happen such as a traffic accident blocking the road but even this drives me crazy. I have learned to repeat to myself that it will be okay and that I can’t control everything as I stew in the slow-moving traffic. I was once late to my daughter’s visit to the pediatrician by over an hour and a half because of traffic. The trip usually takes only 20 minutes.

Being punctual is part of me and even having kids (who are sometime difficult and unpredictable) has not changed this. I will never be fine with being late. I have already noticed that Jase is the same way. He gets concerned when he thinks we are going to be late for school though he has never been tardy or even close to being tardy.

This goes beyond being punctual. I am a planner. You can ask any of my friends, and they will certainly agree. Every weekday in the summer, I have something planned to keep my kids busy. We go to the pool, bowling, the movies, indoor play places, camps and more. I typically plan out a whole month at a time and then email people with my weekly plans, so they can join us if they want.  I have friends who even bug me if I am late with an email. They know that I always have something going on. I am just not the kind who wakes up and waits to see what the day brings. If I did that, we would spend too many days just sitting around trying to agree on something to do.

Now that isn’t to say I have to plan everything. I can be flexible. My friend called up one day and suggested taking our kids for an afternoon at Six Flag Fiesta Texas amusement park. We weren’t busy, so we loaded everyone up and set off. Of course, neither of us knew the highway was closed and after sitting in traffic for an hour, we decided just to return home and have my kids play over at her house.

When we went to Disney World last year, I spent time planning out which park we would start our day at and I planned a few special meals. But in an effort to do what the kids wanted, I didn’t have any type of agenda – I am not that rigid. I wanted them to enjoy the trip, and we pretty much did what they wanted to do and went where they wanted to go most of the trip.

So would I ever go somewhere with no plan? Or throw things in a suitcase and jump in the car for a weekend away with no destination planned? Nope. That just isn’t me. But that doesn’t mean we won’t stop at a carnival in a parking lot or take a boat tour just because it isn’t on my to-do list.