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Category Archives: Challenge
Because, you know, I have nothing but time for new projects.
Several months ago I begged and pleaded for a certain major project at work. I knew then that it would have super short deadlines and huge deliverables, but I was equally certain I was up to the challenge. We did a lot of preliminary work, but the project itself was slow to kick off. I watched with a sick stomach the days slip by on the calendar. Each passing day meant I would have less and less time to get my part of the project complete.
Finally the project kicked off, and yesterday I began what will be the toughest 3+ months of my life. Like it or not, the project is here, and I have to get it done in the time I have. I have a (terrifying) schedule that breaks the development down into two-day increments, and so now I just have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. The good news is that the overtime on this project is lucrative, which is good for both our remodel and my horse fund.
Yes, horse fund. I’m going to get back into horses. I’m going to do it right this time, however. I’m taking riding lessons and still trying to lose weight. I’ve figured out what went wrong last time, and I have a plan for doing each of those things differently this time. I’m not rushing into it. Lessons, weight loss, and money saving all take TIME.
I’m going to use these months to really focus my efforts, though. Lots of overtime plus a moratorium on books and dinners out will fill the coffers. The imposed structure — i.e., spend all my waking hours hunched over my laptop — is actually the perfect opportunity to regiment my diet and exercise to hopefully break this irritating weight plateau. (Cutting out cheese will probably help there too. Seriously, cheese is a gateway drug.)
Right now I’m very positive about the project. I’m focusing on the time off I’m going to take at the end of the project and the (hopefully) major progress I’ll make toward getting back into horses. My dear husband is less thrilled. He has accepted, but isn’t happy about, the financial investment associated with my return to horses, and he’s wary of the amount of overtime I’ll be working. As he noted, I work from home. When I snap, he’ll be the one in the line of fire.
Okay, I stuck with the last challenge for 3 out of 12 months before spectacularly crashing in flames. After that I fell completely off the wagon and swung to the other end of the diet continuum. That threw my body into a tail spin, sending me to the doctor yesterday, who totally read me the riot act. She’s making me come in every two weeks until I get things back under control.
Sigh. That’s annoying, even if I do know it’s for the best. (Grains and sugar are evil, people. Truly evil.)
I knew I needed to start a new challenge, but I wasn’t MOTIVATED to start a new challenge yet. Then, this morning, my friends and I solidified plans to go to the Bay Area of California next February. And as we discussed costs I realized I was going to want some hefty spending money.
Enter motivation for a challenge!!!
Our trip is almost exactly 10 months away. (Can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait!) Original challenge had a particular monetary payoff for 12 months. I knocked off a sixth of that and came to a wonderful round number for ten months of effort.
(When I told my husband I wanted the money for spending money, he said, “No way! What are you going to buy? A mongoose/cobra death match?” My eyes opened wide. “If I find one, hells to the yes!”)
(That, by the way, links to the funniest Internet story EVER.)
Anyway, I reread that thing, can’t stop giggling, and have totally lost my train of thought.
Challenge. Okay, right. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t like the monetary terms of the new challenge. Last time I was collecting some cash and lots of time off. This time I want money, and he’s not thrilled with the idea of trying to set aside that amount while we’re remodeling the basement. I get that. I also get that the money was the ONLY reason I stuck to the challenge before, and I’m pretty sure I won’t do it without money this time.
(I mean, look, if the health benefits were enough, I and every other fat person would be thin, active, and healthy. Right? Whether they *should* be enough is utterly irrelevant.)
So, I suppose the challenge is a big maybe while he and I negotiate.
Terms of the challenge:
This challenge will/would be similar to the last, but not exactly the same. I’m tweaking the diet a bit and adding some flexes.
- Between today and June 8, I’m following the Leptin Reset Protocol by Dr. Jack Krause. It’s strict Paleo, no cheats, fewer than 25g net carbs per day.
After June 8, everything loosens up a bit:
- Six days a week I’ll follow strict Paleo. That means no grains, no legumes, no starches, no sugar (except for dark chocolate and as explained in the Flex section below), and no dairy. I can do limited fruit — my doctor wanted me to include berries — raw honey, and dark chocolate. But I want to keep myself to fewer than 50g net carbs per day. Preferably far less.
- The seventh day is still a free day, but for the most part I want to keep it more controlled than it used to be. I have ideas about what I want to do, but to keep flexibility, for the purposes of the challenge, Saturdays are still a free day.
Flexes. The biggest issue with the challenge last time was that it had zero flexibility, and life just isn’t that predictable.
- Flex #1. I’m going to build in 10 “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. That averages 1 per month, but that’s not how I have to use them. Basically a flex allows me to have an additional free day. They will keep me sane when I’m sick, when I have to spend ALL DAY at a work function, when I have to travel, when we lose power and can’t heat food, etc.
- Flex #2. Salad dressing. I had this one last time. I don’t eat a lot of salad, but when I do — particularly if I’m at a restaurant — I don’t want to futz with trying to ensure the dressing is Paleo-friendly.
- Flex #3. I eat very few prepared foods, and I’m not changing that. But occasionally there’s something we want to try that’s 99% Paleo… but it has some minute quantity of sugar or non-honey sweetener in it. Get over it. I’m tired of that level of micromanagement. Daily net carb levels DO apply, however, and this isn’t an excuse to go on a dessert binge.
- Flex #4. Soy sauce. Tamari is preferred, but if I can’t get it, I will survive, even though soy sauce has gluten in it.
- Flex #5. Occasional cheese. I want to be 99% dairy-free. However sometimes my husband likes to cook a meal that has some cheese. It shouldn’t be a regular thing, but I can live with special occasions.
The last few weeks have been hard. My motivation has been terribly low, and I’ve hung on to the challenge by the barest of threads. I found every possible loophole to exploit. I wasn’t losing weight; I was backsliding. I was miserable… but I didn’t want to quit.
Jay and I had a long talk about it just a couple of days ago. He said if it was just about the money, he’d cut me a check right then. That wasn’t what I wanted, though. Having that goal out there gave me something to hold on to. I figured motivation was cyclical. I just needed to find some new something to get me jazzed again.
Yesterday I had a doctor appointment to go over blood test results — my first since starting the challenge. The appointment was at noon. Considering how much I’d been pushing the boundary lately, I didn’t want to go to a weigh in with a bunch of food in my gut. So I didn’t eat yesterday morning.
The appointment went well. I was teary and depressed and confessed the difficulty I was having. We went through my results, and they were admittedly excellent. My fasting glucose dropped from 110 to 105. My A1C dropped from 6.5 to 5.8. And my vitamin D3 rose from 18 to 50. The problems I’ve been having with my tendons, both quad and deltoid, are clearing up, which she attributes to lack of gluten in my diet.
She said, “I want to be sure you’re hearing this.” Everything we were working on was improving. The challenge was definitely working.
And yet, I still screwed it up.
Afterwards I was hungry, and I just didn’t want to face the food we had in the fridge. So I cheated. I enjoyed every damn bite AND the accompanying serotin. Instead of fessing up, I tried to hide it (which was seriously disrespectful to my husband). Obviously I don’t try to hide things from him too often, because I got caught.
(Apparently my offering to take the trash out was a big clue. Can’t imagine why that was seen as unusual. Also, apparently the receipt I dropped was also a clue. Husband smart.)
I don’t want to make light of this. I made two rotten choices yesterday. I chose to go off the challenge, and I lied to my husband. He forgave me, but the challenge is toast, and I am… bereft. I think this might have been the biggest failure of my life. No, I do not want to hear about how I accomplished all those good things the doctor talked about. I had a 12-month goal. It was important. And I failed.
I didn’t sleep much last night. I was trying to come to terms with it. Trying to figure out what I do next.
I didn’t find any answers. Mostly my thoughts were, “I’m a lying loser who fails.” I wanted to write that on the walls. Maybe tattoo it on my forehead. I’m a lying loser who fails.
I cried a lot. Thank goodness I have River, who snuggles and licks my face. I wanted to sleep, because everything always looks better in the morning.
Except it doesn’t.
I don’t want comments, but I can’t figure out how to turn them off. I don’t plan to check in and read them, so they’ll sit out there in limbo if you bother writing them. I don’t want comments on Facebook either, so I’m just going to close the site for a while. I don’t want emails or phone calls or, dear God in Heaven, in-person visits.
Eating fish tacos is not the worst sin I’ve ever committed. I don’t care about the fish tacos. I’m mourning the loss of the challenge — the goal, the thing that gave me some reason to TRY.
I just don’t know what to do now.
Weight loss this week: .2 lbs
Total weight loss: 19.6 lbs
Motivation and energy were low, low, low this week. I blame the cold, but honestly, they were low before that too. My motivation is cyclical. I simply can’t stay up and focused forever.
The cool thing, though, is that because of the challenge, I may not be losing weight, but I’m also not sabotaging myself. I can’t just blow it off and binge on yummy processed carbs because that would void the challenge. I’m too mercenary for that!
Speaking of mercenary, I have a huge project coming up at work. It will likely run from April/May through October. Now, I’m a contract worker, and so they generally limit my hours, BUT they also don’t want to hire a bunch of new people. If they want this project done, they’re either going to have to work me to death or staff it, because the scope is simply too large for anything else. To be honest, I hope they choose the former, because I’d like to fund the remodel of the basement. 🙂
I’m also looking forward to the challenge of the project, no matter which solution they choose. I adore the big, nasty, scary projects, and I beg for them when they come up. I think they’re fun (even though I have moments where I hate them).
So I’m not sure what will happen with my motivation over the next week. I learned long ago that there’s a switch in my brain. When it’s on, ANYTHING is easy. When it’s off….
The issue, of course, is that I don’t know how to flip the switch. If I could figure that out, not only would I be thin, fit, and a prolific novelist with well-trained dogs, but I would be a billionaire, because I’d sell the secret to the world. EVERYONE would be the best they could be if we knew how to keep that motivation switch flipped on.
I’d like to get to the point where it doesn’t matter if the switch is on — where I would do all the right things habitually. But I’m a long way from that. If the switch isn’t flipped, I do what I have to do and no more.
The good news is that I know it’s cyclical. I may not be on right now, but it will come back around, and I’ll be re-energized.
Although I’m doing okay with my December-to-December challenge, I feel like I’ve been in a rut the past few weeks, which means my results haven’t been what I’ve wanted. So I’ve decided to kick things up a notch during the rest of February. I’m going to eschew my cheat days from now until March 3, and I’m going to tighten up my eating and working out.
- 4 meals per day (per standard challenge requirements — no grains, no sugar, no dairy, no fruit, no potatoes), no snacking
- Goal: less than 20 net carbs per day
- At least 16 cups (4 liters) of water per day
- Crossfit, heavy weights, and Pilates 1x per week each, as schedule allows
- Treadmill workout, 45 minutes per day, 5x per week
- 10-minute kettlebell workout from 4-Hour Body, 3x per week (kettlebell swing, glute raises, chest pull, flying dogs)
- 10-minute push-up/core workout, 3x per week (push ups, plank, side plank)
- 20-minute ice on back of neck / trapezius area, per 4-Hour Body, 7x per week
Here’s an example of the treadmill workout I’m doing. The speed isn’t mentioned, because it varies. I use a heart rate montitor, and I go whatever speed pegs my heart rate at 132 (per Phil Maffetone method).
0-5 min Warm up
5-10 min 6% incline
10-12 min 3% incline
12-18 min 4 sets of 30 sec interval + 1 min recovery @ 3%
18-23 min 6% incline
23-31 min 9% incline
31-36 min 6% incline
36-38 min stairs
38-40 min 6% incline
40-45 min cool down
I’m doing that particular workout every day this week. Next week I’ll change it up — add another minute of stairs, increase the interval length, etc.
I’m going to miss my cheat days this month, but hopefully I can kick my body into ketosis and burn some fat!