Gamer Girl Gets Thin

{September 27, 2010}   Upgrades!

Last week, I made a huge leap in gear. I upgraded my shoes! I even went the great length of spending some time at the local running store getting my step and stance analyzed to get the best shoes. I think I made a good choice.

Of course, in typical form for me… I followed a good decision with a terrible one. The first time I wore said shoes, it was to my super hard cardio class that, as you may remember, leaves me looking and feeling like this:

While I thought ‘YES NEW SHOES!’ My feet thought ‘Are you broken in your brain space?’

It turns out that new shoes probably need to be broken in and worn a bit. I learned this the hard way. First, there was the numbness from having tied them too tight. Then there was some arch sadness from the amazing support that now needs to form to my feet a bit. But I re-tied, adjusted and powered through these things! THEN! Oh then… at the end of class, when we were supposed to be doing this:

My shoes gave up on me. And I got to do this:

That’s right! Instead of kicking, I found myself falling! Huzzah! As a near professional in the fine art of being clumsy, I jumped back up and got back into class almost immediately. Which, apparently, was greatly amazing to the girls who saw me fall.

As it stands, the score is:

New shoes- 1

Jenn- 0

Not to worry, though, class is coming around and I’ll totally win this time!!

{September 7, 2010}   Ambitions

I’m trying to figure out what my long term goals in fitness are. I keep feeling like I need to start thinking beyond weight loss and into what I want in the long-run. The thing is, I don’t have any ideas. Can just being fit and working out be a goal enough in itself? I’m such a goal oriented person that I feel like I need to have some thing I’m working toward.

I think this is magnified by the copious amounts of Sims3 I played over the weekend. My Sims are seriously ambitious people. They keep wanting these crazy goals and one of them wanted this: (It’s a long explanation if you don’t play as to how lifetime wishes are selected but, this Sim wanted this as a lifetime wish so many times that I eventually just set it for him)

Seeking personal perfection through rigorous mental and physical training is a noble goal that guarantees a lifetime of challenge. Your Sim may one day stand on the peak of physical Sim achievement, but not without much sweat and mental strain.

In a dream world, I am this awesome. I have some long term fitness goal of playing a sport or becoming really awesome at something or getting certified to train or or or or….

Realistically? I have no idea. I really don’t like sports (not even college football when I live three blocks away from the University that just won). I don’t really see myself getting into martial arts or running marathons or doing triathalons. It’s just not who I am.

For now, I’m focusing on my current ambition: Keep getting in better shape, get down to a healthy weight/size, enjoy being fit. Beyond that, I have no idea but am open to suggestions!

{September 1, 2010}   The Importance of Inflection

I hit up my dance class last night, like you do. And, of course, it was an evening set up for success. The class was packed, it was a night with a lot of choreography (I like to call choreography simply “moves I can’t do) and I was standing directly in the middle of the room.  Being in the middle means that I, and everyone in the class, can see me from every angle thanks to the mirrors on the walls. Also, it means that I’m standing in just the right spot so  that people from outside the class can see me, and my angles, through the glass door. YAY! Set up for success!

Anyway, so there I am, doing my best. Our wonderful instructor, Jennie, was super excited yesterday and kept encouraging us all that even if we thought we were dancing “big” she wanted us to dance “bigger.” I felt a lot like this:

But, you know, whatever. That’s pretty much how I always feel when I’m in the class. My expectation and reality of my movements never quite line up. But I plugged along anyway, happily dancing and doing my best to replicate what the moves Jennie was making look so effortless and beautiful.

What you need to know at this point: Thanks to my lovely friend and gym buddy, Rachel, I’ve actually started getting to know the instructors at the classes I frequent. She talks to them fairly often and has introduced me to them so now Jennie and I are on a first name basis. I can’t look at her with that terrified “DON’T CALL ON ME!” expression that you have in any class where you fear the teacher might single you out. Now Jennie and I are friends.  We talk. I like her, she pretends to like and not be embarrassed by me.

So halfway through the class, I was doing something that resembled this:

And Jennie says “Way to go, Jenn!”

In that moment, I was elated that she was excited about what I was doing. Then I thought ‘Wait. Did she mean I should go? Because really, I’m pretty sure I’m throwing off the groove of the whole class here. Yeah, I’ll go. She’s right.’ Luckily, she followed the way to go with a smile so I knew we were cool. And my dancing confidence grew just a little.

Big Bird, ho!

P.S. Those  comics are stolen from this hilarious post by Allie at Hyperbole and a Half. Really, that entire thing sums up a lot about me, especially my sweet dancing skills. Go read her whole blog. It’s hysterical.

{August 30, 2010}   Weekend of Extremes

This weekend was totally extremes for me. On Friday I thought “I’m going to go straight from work to the gym and then make myself a healthy dinner!” Instead I went home and ate an entire bag of popcorn. It was delicious. I did make it to the gym- where I did on my toes push-ups on a bench! For even harder pushing up! It was awesome! Then I ate a burrito.

Saturday morning I woke up and thought “Ugh I shouldn’t have eaten that burrito! I know! I’ll go the gym!” So I went to my favorite class where I worked harder than ever and had to use my face towel to dry out my ponytail. It was awesome. Then, because I had worked so hard, I laid on my couch and did nothing for 6 hours.

I didn’t even pretend to be healthy yesterday- I ate pancakes for lunch and Panda Express for dinner. The thing is, I really don’t regret. I stayed within my calorie intake and watched my portions of both things. I don’t eat them regularly (that was the first time I’ve had Panda in well over two years)  and it was nice to just be.

I AM turning into my extremes Sim! Extreme gym! Extreme lazy! Extreme eat things!

Oooh in other news: It’s almost time for some extreme buying new pants! When I was getting ready for work this morning, I pulled my favorite slacks out of the dryer only to find that, even fresh washed, they are far too large. Like the only thing that held them up all day at work was that my undershirt was tucked into them. While it’s sad because I love these slacks and hate having to buy new ones, I can’t think of better Monday news!

{August 25, 2010}   With Thanks to Susan

I’ve been noticing all of these billboards all over my city recently- ads for weight loss support, weight loss surgery, weight loss counseling, etc. Every time I see one, I get a little more frustrated- not only with how slow it can feel to reach my goals but also that those things sort of look like cheats to me. Like if I had all of that at my fingertips, I would be super thin too!

The thing is, getting fit is something people do daily. A lot of the time, it seems like the people I know or hear about who have achieved significant weight loss (and maintained it) just woke up one morning and decided “I’m not going to be fat any more. Today is the day.” And then they changed their patterns, started exercising and eating healthy and they did it.

Sadly, that’s totally not me. The process has been slow and, in a lot of ways, I’ve had to trick myself into this.  I don’t have the discipline or motivation on my own to reach my goals. So what do I have? I have an amazing support system and a huge hate for failing. My answer to this problem was and is to tell absolutely everyone I know that I’m trying to lose weight and get healthy. Really, that’s what prompted me to first begin blogging. If all of my friends, family and co-workers are watching my progress, I’m motivated. Add the potential of the whole internet? I’m SUPER motivated. I’ve never been so motivated. And you know what? It’s totally working.

I had this really sweet moment yesterday where I was chatting with a friend (Hi Susan!) about what I’ll wear during some large meetings we have in the next month at work. I mentioned these slacks I really want to wear but they are just a little too tight- they’re wearable for sure but not super comfortable. I’m still looking at this like it’s old me- the me that might make progress but is more likely to skip gym and eat popcorn instead. My friend though, she only knows the me of recent months so she said “The great thing is that you’ve got three weeks so they’ll fit perfect by then.” She is absolutely confident in my abilities to reach my goals; she’s more confident than I am. (By the way, I love her for this.)

Encouragement is so important in reaching your goals, whatever they are. For me, it’s to reach a healthy weight by January 1. I want to start 2011 fit and working toward something new, instead of the same old resolutions. To get there, though, I have to find a system that works- for me, it’s making sure that everyone I know is included in my process; knowing that they are there to encourage me and that I would hate to disappoint them. Yes, there are a million other pieces parts that go into a process that works and is sustainable. But for me, telling everyone has been such a huge step.

{August 23, 2010}   Kettlebell Monday

Happy Monday All!

Today’s post is coming after work instead of at lunch because I’m starting something new in my life: working out at lunch with girls from work. A friend at work has a friend (So friend once removed. Like cousins.) that is a personal trainer- she does a ton of work with kettle bells, which I’ve been dying to try.

Every girl wants to be an Old-Timey Strongman!

No really, kettlebells are super great and something I’ve been totally interested in trying after I read this.

The workout was intense. I’ve been feeling so strong but today’s workout totally showed me how I have so so far to go! I like a challenge, I’m looking forward to seeing just where this change on Mondays leads!

{August 18, 2010}   Gym Trolls

Do you ever feel like the people who work at the gym are also the trolls of the gym? I’m really starting to feel this way with trainers at my gym.

I’ve got one that I work with to do my measurements. But, beyond that, I try to avoid it all. The thing is, I seem to be wearing a “Please come try to sell me something with your charming smile and muscle shirt” sign on my forehead. At lease once a month, I get approached by some gym guy and it goes like this:

“Hey my name is Dirk, how are you?”

“Uh, fine….” (typically through pants because they love to talk to me while I’m on the Elliptical or Stepmill) I always keep at least one earbud in here in hopes that Dirk will realize I would rather workout than talk to him. That’s what I pay my membership fees for- working out. I digress…

“So, have you ever thought about working with a trainer?”

“You know, Dirk, I already am actually. Thanks though!”

“Oh!” (He always looks surprised and a little judgmental here.) “Well, are you seeing the results you want to?”

“You know, I am! I’ve lost almost 20lbs and over 13 inches since February. Bye!”

Then, as I put in my headphones and go back to whatever I was watching or listening to, I can still hear him in the background “If you ever need anything…”

Dear WoW Trolls, I don’t want to buy gold for actual dollars. Dear Gym Trolls, I don’t want you pushing your services on me and if I were going to hire a trainer it certainly wouldn’t be pumped up dirk and his rippling biceps.

Hey all! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, my dear friend, Veronica, has a wonderful blog with the most delicious looking food I’ve seen in ages.  Not only that but she’s brilliant, charming and just as nerdy as I am. All of the things I love in a friend. That said, I’ve asked her to guest post over here and, lucky for me, she said yes! She’s sent over a lovely Game Guide about an app Andy mentioned a while ago- Lose It. Check it out!

Lose It the Geek Way
Finding a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle without resorting to deprivation and dieting can sometimes seem like an impossible task. But, thanks to the iPhone app store, for once our geekery can help, rather than hinder.
Meet Lose It!, one of my all time favorite apps. A couple of years ago, a combination of Lose It! and finding the proper meds to treat a chronic condition helped me lose 35lbs in a matter of months. Unfortunately, a pretty severe foot and ankle injury a couple months ago has made it temporarily impossible for me to continue the lifestyle and habits I worked so hard to gain with the help of Lose It! So I’m getting back on the routine for damage control.
How it Works

Lose It! makes tracking your intake and output of calories fun, in a totally geeky, neurotic way. Tell it your current info, such as weight, age, and gender, and your goals, like what you want to weigh and how much you want to lose a week on your way there. After that, just let that geek tenacity take over. You know, that tenacity that forces you to play Zelda for 20 hours straight because you just can’t quit for the day until you finally figure out how to get past that really difficult boss? Well, that tenacity can serve you well outside of video games, too. All it takes is consistency in a task as simple as the most basic data entry.
Track your food
and your exercise,
While keeping an eye on daily goals
and weekly goals.
If you know you want to cut loose on the weekend, create a surplus during the week. If you have a rough Monday, make up for that deficit later on. It’s basic math!
You can also go further on your quest for healthy living. Seeing your daily food intake laid out before you makes it super easy to count your fruit and vegetable servings. It also helps you catch unwanted habits, like showing how much of your daily calories come from unhealthy snack foods or beverages or alcohol or whatever. You can even track personal dietary needs, like carbs, cholesterol, fiber, sodium, or saturated fat. It can be quite insightful to see how you divy up the percentage of your calories amongst the calorie types.
For me, tracking food helped me gain an increase in mindfulness throughout the day. Tracking exercise allowed me more flexibility to splurge now and then with the knowledge that, you know what, that’s totally okay because of my activity level. Anything to alleviate any tendencies toward guilt around the issue of food can only help. Before discovering Lose It!, I tracked my exercise by notations on a calendar of how many miles I walked/ellipticalled every day and every week, gradually upping the goal. Lose It! just made tracking daily and weekly goals easier and more all encompassing.
It’s not about dieting, it’s about mindfulness. Reduce anxiety, reduce guilt, break those habits. Find what works for you. For me, this visual and mathematic breakdown removes worry about the unknown and the factors I can’t control. It allows me to utilize my tendency toward stubbornness, errr, I mean tenacity, for good. And I find that it actually gives me more control and freedom. Personalize your metabolic info, set your own goals, and change those goals as often as you like. Take a day or two off now and then. Push yourself on the days you feel like it, and then feel free to let loose a little on other days. Or stick to your budget as a hard and fast rule, a solid wall that once you reach it, you can’t go any further. Lose It! doesn’t tell you what to do or how to do it; it just let’s you keep track.
While I’m injured, I’ve upped my calorie budget from where I had it set while losing the weight, because I know I can’t maintain the same level of caloric output through exercise in this condition. This takes the pressure off of even trying to do so. I can’t control how fast my injury heals, so I’m doing my best not to blame myself or feel guilt for any unwanted consequences of being injured. I know that, once my body is ready, it’ll be no time before the jeans I was wearing when I fell will fit again. It would be a waste of time and a hindrance to the end goal to allow guilt or shame to get in the way.
Seeing It In Action

Ok, so all this data entry might seem daunting and tedious. Honestly, if you don’t have a somewhat neurotic, tenacious side, this might not be a suitable option for you. But for others, there’s something immensely satisfying about having a visual representation of your hard work. Watching that weight graph steadily going downward and knowing exactly what you’re doing to cause that trend – that’s something to feel proud of, and, conversely, helps you stick with it. Besides, the data entry is a lot easier than it sounds. Lose It! has a built in database with nutritional info on thousands of foods, including market brands and chain restaurant info. And it’s really easy to input anything missing from the database. Google it, or, if you have the packaging, just copy off the label.
Let me show you how this works with one of my many current food projects. I’ve been trying to find a quick, palatable way to make easy, healthy curry for less money than take-out. An almost impossible task, but I like a challenge. To satisfy the “easy” requirement, I’ve been working my way through various jars of pre-made curry at the market, with varying degrees of success. Lose It! helps with the “healthy” part. I often doctor the contents of the jars to overcome the flat, tinny flavor prevalent to the genre. I use Lose It! to track how my doctoring affects the nutritional end result.
My most recent attempt reinforced a basic lesson in nutrition. I prepared a Coconut Vegetable Curry using a jar of Mr. Kook’s sauce over steamed cauliflower, frozen peas, and sauteed mushrooms. I only doctored the sauce with a little additional light coconut milk.
The sharp flavor was barely tolerable even after I cut it with additional coconut milk. I won’t buy this jar again, but it still helps illustrate how Lose It! works.
First, I added the sauce’s nutritional info from the label to my custom foods.
Forevermore, I can use this sauce in any amount and Lose It! will do the math for me.
Then I created a recipe listing all the ingredients and the number of servings it creates.
This info will also be forever available, with the app doing all the heavy lifting of calculations.
So now I can log my meal for analysis and posterity.
Now let’s compare it to one of my more palatable experiments. This one involved a lot more doctoring, this time of a jar of World Food’s Thai Coconut Galangal sauce.
Along with the added vegetables (frozen peas and sauteed mushrooms) and meat (one shredded chicken breast, fresh off the George Foreman), I whipped together peanut butter and coconut milk with a fork until smooth and added it to the sauce as it heated. It improved things greatly, and next time (because it was good enough for a “next time”) I would even add a dash of fish sauce to the mix. Of course, with all these additional ingredients, the caloric content keeps ticking upward. Lose It! keeps track of these alterations for me.
But, surprisingly, the result still ends up calorically less than the Mr. Kook’s.
Which illustrates how Lose It! catches you up on your assumptions. I assumed that my increased doctoring would come out as the deciding factor in the comparison between these two dishes. But, instead, I’m reminded of a more basic rule – read labels carefully. While the two sauces were very nutritionally similar per serving, Mr. Kook’s considers its serving half the size, having eight servings per jar instead of four. That doesn’t mean I’ll eat less of it, just that what I eat suddenly has twice the calories I’d assumed. And these little things do add up. 100 calories/day = 10 lbs a year, approximately. So every 100 calories you don’t eat or burn off means an extra 10 lbs lost, or at least not gained, over the course of a year. Lose It! simply helps you take control by giving you knowledge so that you can decide for yourself where your calories should come and where they should go. Lose It! empowers you to make the choice, rather than leaving it blindly to some unknown variable.
It Works!

And that’s how Lose It! will help me get back into those jeans. It worked once before, and I’m highly confident it will work again. But don’t just take my word for it. In a show of support, the husband man (who gets full geek cred as a comic book and comic art collector, Star Wars fan, sci fi reader, gamer, former game programmer, and current Google programmer) also got really into this app and lost something like 20 or 25 lb, without even exercising.
Fellow geek blogger Chad Austin lost 20 lb in 20 weeks using Lose It! and detailed the process here: Of course, his general philosophy varies from mine, especially in his similarity to my husband in his lack of using the “output” column, but results are results. Proof that even a gamer or other geek, like myself, can get thin.
Veronica R. Lujan
la V en Rose

{August 2, 2010}   Extreme Napping

I’ve been playing a ton of Sims 3 this weekend. I love the variety of options in this version, especially the personality traits. I decided to make a new family and not use any cheat codes (rare!), just to see how hard it is to build the life you want. In the process, I gave my girl all these traits I don’t have- daredevil, athletic, charismatic (okay, I might have that one), great kisser (and a girl never tells about that one). The result is that my character is seriously like she’s on crack all the time. She just wants to work out and be excited and awesome. And every single thing you have her do, there is an option to do it “extreme.” So you can “Extreme Sleep” and “Extreme Shower Until Extremely Clean” and “Extreme Jogging” and “Extreme Practice Chess.” She is insane.

I sometimes wish that I was like this- that I loved doing everything to the max and didn’t have to just force myself to do some things, even though I might not feel like it. In reality, the forcing myself is developing self discipline which I understand to be a good trait in most grown ups. But the slog back into my food and exercise routine after a week of being sick has felt painful and slow at best. I wish I could Extreme Eat Healthy and Extreme Love the Gym. Unfortunately, my leaning is toward Extreme Eat Popcorn for Dinner, Extreme Watch The Most Roswell and Extreme Sleep. One area my Sim and I are alike!

Since I’m not a Sim (or if I were, my traits would be something like charismatic, loves her couch, great sleeper and likes video games), I can’t choose the extreme option in life. Instead it’s all about discipline. This week’s goal is Extreme Discipline. Or maybe just Moderate Discipline with no eating popcorn for dinner.

{July 28, 2010}   Amazing.

Double Post Wednesday!

But check it, this is so fantastic!

et cetera