Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My secret weapons for maintaining weight while on vacation

This weekend I leave for a two week cruising vacation in the Caribbean! I'm SO excited, can't wait to soak in the sun and warmth! What I'm not looking forward to, though, is what I fear will be a pretty heavy weight gain. On previous cruises, I've gained a lot of weight, so I'm scared I will do so again. I'm doing fairly good with my weight loss these days and I don't want to ruin the momentum.

On a positive note, I've been very inspired by fellow bloggers who managed to maintain or even lose weight while on vacation. So it can be done, and my weight goal for this trip, is to weight the same as I do when I leave within one week of coming back. (I usually put on quite a lot of water weight when I travel, so I know I won't weight the same right away when I get back).

In order to accomplish my goal, I've made a plan for how to maintain weight on the cruise:

* Work out/move a lot every day
This time I'm not only bringing my running gear, I'm actually going to use it as well! There will be a gym as well as an outside running track, and now that I can run, I will take advantage of it! I'll probably wake up early because of the time difference, so I plan to get my workout in before the ship docks for the day. That way I won't feel like I'm missing out on anything.

* Fiber 
Last time I went cruising in the Caribbean, I ended up constipated from not eating as much fiber as I normally do. (There is little whole grains on those buffet tables!) This time around, I'm bringing some Benefiber to put into my water. (I'm going to buy the flavored one that they sell in the US but not here, really looking forward to try it!) My plan is to drink this before every meal, that should make me fuller and keep me from overeating.

* Chromium
I've been using chromium to curb my sweet cravings, and while it isn't a miracle pill that keeps me from eating sugar (I wish!), it does help keep the sugar hungry monster inside of me at bay. (I'll write a more detailed blog post about my experiences with chromium later).

* Zinc
Personally I don't have much experience with Zinc supplements, but Karen at Waisting time recently linked to a Dr Oz article that mentions Zinc as a way to reduce hunger. I read up on it, and while most people don't lack this mineral, and you can overdose on it, there seems to be no harm in taking a supplement as long as you follow the recommended dosage. So, I started taking it a couple of days ago, and I hope it'll help me stay clear of the overeating trap (also known as a 24-7 free all you can eat buffet).

* I've tasted you before
Luckily, the desserts on the aforementioned buffet isn't really my type of desserts. Unfortunately, the fried and fatty foods are. This time around, though, the foods won't be new and enticing, but more familiar. I read in an article somewhere, about a dieter who thought to herself  'I've tasted you before, I don't need to taste you now'. That helped her, and I'm hoping it can help me as well.

* Hypnosis
I've had some success with hypnosis for sugar cravings in the past, so I'll be bringing those, as well as some more general weight loss hypnosis tracks to listen to. That should help keep my motivation up!

* Limit the alcohol
I actually drink very little alcohol, but I do have a soft spot for those drinks that contain an incredible amount of calories. After an office night out, I put the alcohol units into my food journal and was astounded to see how many empty calories I'd consumed. So while I probably won't abstain from these completely, I will be more restrictive and instead enjoy the ones I do drink more thoroughly and think of it as a special treat.

* Limit the vacation eating to the actual vacation
I learned this 'trick' from a fellow blogger this summer. (I'm sorry I can't remember who it was at the moment, but if it was you, let me know and I'll link to you here!). Too often, I allow myself to slack food wise in the days before the vacation. Then, after the vacation, it usually takes forever to get back in the weight loss groove. This time around, my vacation starts when I leave from home, and it ends when I'm back!

There you have them, my secret weapons for maintaining weight on the cruise. If you have any other tips or good ideas, I'd love to hear them! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A short update

Wow, it has been AGES since I my last blog post. :( I am still alive and kicking, but I have had a lot to do, and even though I've thought about blogging, I never got around to it. Last month I was pretty much stressed out all the time, and of course that led to a weight loss stand-still. Thinking back, the main reason was most likely that I didn't exercise much. Turns out those workouts really make a difference! Both because I burn more calories and because I feel better and more relaxed when I work out regularly.

I've been trying to get back into a good exercise routine, but it has been harder than I thought. I wanted to try my Zumba dvds, but there was always some excuse or other. Which is just ridiculous because I love to dance, and I always feel good after I've worked out. I've run or hiked a few times, but all in all I have been kind of lazy....

Right now I'm starting to feel a little under the weather. It might be psychological, a lot of people I know have been ill, and when they talk about it, I automatically feel a little sick myself. Since we're going away on vacation next week, I really want to stay healthy for that. Don't know if it is chickening out, or just being reasonable, but either way the result is that I haven't wanted to do hardcore workouts (or, to be honest, any workout at all) lately. I have been trying to keep moving, though, to burn some calories even though I'm not actually getting in shape.

Excuses aside, I think my main problem is that I miss a program and rules and structure. When I was doing C25K, I always ran 3 times a week. Come rain, come snow, come splitting headaches, I was running regardless. The program demanded 3 workouts a week, and so I complied. Right now I'm just lacking a sense of direction, I guess.

So, to remedy this, I'm going to make a plan of what I want to accomplish on a weekly basis. It is probably going to be one session of Shred, one session of Zumba, and one session of running (most likely 4X4 intervals). I might wait till after my vacation (or at least until I'm feeling better) to start, but I WILL do it. I miss that great feeling after a good workout! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My very first race

First of all, thank you all for being so understanding about my pre-race hysteria and for your kind thoughts, it meant a lot to me! :) Some of you might have wondered if I didn't dare write about my race seeing as it took me so long to write a new blog post about it. It wasn't that, instead I've been incredibly stressed out (as I've been most of the month) and haven't had much time or energy for blogging or reading other blogs. :'( Sorry about that! Anyways, on to the tale of my very first race.

The whole experience started out really stressful and chaotic because, as is very typical of me, I got there later than planned. While I went through registration, my boyfriend (who was kind enough to come cheer for me, comfort me and take pictures of me) was parking the car. Luckily there wasn't really a line for the registration - my biggest worry. What I hadn't planned for though, was that it was kind of hard to find the start area. There was little information, and at one point one of the race volunteers (or are they paid? dunno!) actually gave me wrong directions!

While I was able to find the start area fairly quickly (although it seemed like an eternity because I was so incredibly stressed out about being late), my boyfriend had more trouble. On the invite, it specifically said you had to be at the starting line no less than 20 minutes before start so the volunteers/officials would know you were present. As the time went by, and no boyfriend arrived, I was getting more and more anxious. I had a bag of extra clothes and other stuff with me, and if he didn't make it I'd have to run with it on, most likely making my already slow pace even slower. About 22 minutes before the race started, he finally found me, and I practically ran to the starting line.

Once there, I looked frantically around trying to find those officials who needed to know I had arrived, but I found no-one. I started asking around, and eventually learned that no-one checked if you were at the start line. So, basically I had just stressed over nothing! I really wish the official information could have mentioned this, instead of actually giving out wrong information!

Oh well, at least I made it in time for the race! Because I was so late and stressed, and because I'd read somewhere that in some races you're not allowed to drink anything other than what you get at the water stations, I hadn't brought my water bottle. And I was parched before even starting! As I noticed several other participants with water bottles, I seriously considered asking strangers if I could get some water from them. I didn't, though, that just felt too weird.

As I looked around the crowd of runners, I was starting to feel a little bit more relaxed. There were people of all ages, and, seemingly, all conditions. And there were loads of people, so I figured no-one would pay too much attention to me if I made a complete fool of myself. All the adults were starting together in one group, so I maneuvered towards the back, after all I knew I would run slower than most of the others.

(A part of) the crowd of runners at the start

And then we were off! I had promised myself that I'd start slow, almost every advice I've read about racing says to start slower than you want to. And I really did try. However, when there are loads of others running at a faster pace, it takes a stronger person than I am to run slow. I didn't want to be the last one from the very beginning! Then, a man with a BABY STROLLER ran past me, and at that point I nearly panicked! I later found out that he did really good in the race and was one of faster ones, but then and there it felt as though even an old lady with a walking stick would be able to pass me.

The 'evil' baby stroller man who ran past me

However, I was starting to see stars, and when I checked the running watch my gadget loving boyfriend had lent me, I learned that I was running way too fast for me. I took to my senses and slowed down to a more comfortable pace. It felt like everyone else ran past me, and I actually looked back a few times to check that I wasn't the last one. (I never really did get over that fear, though I tried).

Running on asphalt wasn't as hard as I'd imagined. But what I noticed, was that when you're used to run on a treadmill and never actually moving, it is harder to judge your own speed when you're all of a sudden actually moving and going somewhere. It felt like I was running so SLOW, so I checked my running watch, and was astounded to see that I was running at about 8 km/hour. I've been keeping a pace of about 6-6.5 km/h on the treadmill, so I tried to slow down a bit. But it seemed to me that I was moving so slowly that it would be almost impossible to slow down further.

My new best friend, I wouldn't have made it without the running watch I borrowed!

This was the first time I'd tried the running watch (I'm good at not trying things like running outside or using a running watch before the actual race!), so I decided that it was probably malfunctioning. It wasn't until I saw the 1 km mark and checked how long I'd been running that I realized that it was, in fact, showing the right speed. Again, I thought I should slow down, but it felt like I was already running as slow as I could, so I kept it up.

To make a long story short, I kept the pace up at about 8 km/h. I passed a few people who had started out too fast and was now walking. (And, no, I DIDN'T laugh at them or think them stupid for signing up for the race. I was too busy running and minding my own business, but if anything, I admired them! And also I was a little relieved because that meant I wouldn't finish last. I'll have to try to remember this the next time I freak out about others laughing at me for running a race slowly.) I even passed some people who were still running. And I made it to the finish line, running even faster towards the end, giving it my all.

Oh, finish line, I thought I'd never see you!

At times like these, it is no fun being undercover. I'd really love to brag all about my new personal record, but the results are open to the public and I wouldn't be so undercover once I shared that. :( But even though I can't share my exact time, I can say that I finished in less than 22 minutes! :) That is more than 5 minutes less than last time I ran on the treadmill! :)

I don't know why I was able to run so much faster this time. Maybe adrenalin from the nerves? Maybe because I could see clearly how slowly I was actually moving? Maybe running with other people made it easier? Maybe my treadmill speed is way off (even though I thought I checked that)? I really have no idea, but I am very happy with my result!

We got a medal as soon as we crossed the finish line

I succeeded at every one of my goals for this race. My goal speed was an average of at least 6 km/h, and I was above 8 km/h on average. I did run the entire time, no walking. I even met my secret (but not forgotten) goal of not finishing last. My speed would probably be considered slow by most runners, but for me this was a real accomplishment. I'm so excited to have come so far in just three months!

I'm also proud of the fact that I didn't let my nerves stop me. Especially when I was running late on top of being nervous, it was tempting to just go home and not show up at all. But I knew I would let myself down, and I didn't want to do that. As Jillian would say, I deserve better!

My very first medal, of course I had to show off the back side as well!

As for the run itself, it didn't feel that special to be running a race. It was kind of annoying that people would wander into the running tracks and that made me more stressed out. In fact, I remember thinking why do people bother running races?

After the finish line, though, I got it. That feeling of having completed the race, of having done my best, and being rewarded with a good time, it was priceless. I definitely experienced that runner's high! And, that good feeling stayed with me for a long time, much longer than the normal workout euphoria does. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, of having done something to be proud of.

So, while I don't think I'll be travelling the country each weekend looking for a new race, I know this won't be my last race, either. For me, doing this race has been a great goal and a wonderful motivation. I can't wait to see how much faster I'll run next year! I love seeing results!