I've lost 4 pounds since I started putting forth real effort at the beginning of January, and I can easily say it's been the hardest 4 pounds (ever) to lose. I remember a time long ago where all I had to do was eat a few salads and spend a little bit more time at the gym, and the weight would come flying off. Not so much these days.
I finally accepted the fact that is was going to take hard work, and time. And if I was going to be in it for the long haul, I needed to make some changes that I could sustain over that time. No cutting out an entire category of food. No crazy workouts that I didn't enjoy. I just needed to create (and continue) some better habits. I'm not even counting calories! I'm just making smart choices about 85% of the time, and I'm starting to see some results.
Training for a half marathon has certainly kept me honest when it comes to fitting in my runs each week. Right now I'm running 2-3 times during the week, and then a long run on Saturday mornings. I'm also taking a kettle bell class at work twice a week, and I think that is what is really making the difference. I've gained a lot of muscle back, and it's starting to burn up some of the fat I've been storing.
Meal planning has also played an important role- not just for planning "healthy" meals, but also for planning some splurges. I've been baking a ton, so I've had to be real thoughtful about picking easy dinners for the nights that I spend hours decorating cookies. I don't want to cook for 1-2 hours first, and then get started decorating. So we'll pick something easy like crockpot chicken verde, or throw chicken/sweet potatoes/broccoli in the oven. I've been slacking a bit on lunches, but make up for it by getting a good salad in the cafe at work. (Yes- I'm beyond lucky to have access to both a gym AND cafe at the office.)
Even better than the loss of 4 pounds is the fact that I can fit into my smaller size jeans. They are still a tad snug, but probably look better than the saggy butt "big girl" jeans that I continue to wear while I lose just a few more. I don't cringe when I look in the mirror, because I can start to see a hint of ab muscles in my stomach, and my quads are coming back with a vengeance. More than anything else, it feels good to feel strong again. It's a journey, for sure. And not one without a few indulgences, like the dip fest we enjoyed at our neighbor's house during the Super Bowl last night. But I feel good about the steps I'm taking to getting fit again.
My guidelines for getting fit:
1- Be active 5 days a week (mixing up weight training and cardio)
2- Take the time to meal plan, and stock fridge with good food
3- Drink water, drink water, drink water! (I've mostly cut out alcohol M-F)
4- Don't beat yourself up when you indulge in something- it's all about balance
With that, I'm going to share a salad dressing that I made this weekend that is beyond delicious. I used it to jazz up what would otherwise be a low calorie spinach salad. (The fat and protein from the oil and nuts will help prevent you from starving an hour after you eat.) It's from a new cookbook "Eat Your Vegetables". I love this cookbook for many reasons, including the fact that it's geared towards the single cook (a category that doesn't get enough attention). But the meal portions are perfect for two, and easy to double as well.
Walnut Oregano Vinaigrette
(makes 6 servings)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (you might want to start with half, and add more to taste)
1 tsp honey
2 T chopped fresh oregano
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled
Add all ingredients to a blender, and mix until walnuts are chopped. You may need to add a teaspoon or two of water if it seems thick. Season with salt and pepper. This can be refrigerated in a jar for 1-2 weeks.