Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A celebration of 3 months, and 10 days

No, not 100 days, but...

3 months since I started using the Lose It! app, and 10 days since my temporary vegetarianism.

According to my app I inputed my first weight back on May 21st. I've written about the app on this blog, but it's essentially a calorie counting app that I got on a whim after I started using my new iPhone. I've tried calorie counting apps before but didn't like them, and this time I stuck to it because I have a fitness track that measures the calories I burn, and I had since purchased a kitchen scale to accurately measure how much I eat. I'm also more active this time round, and have a more serious will to really lose weight and become healthier.

So 3 months passed since my first weight input, 95 days to be exact.  I religiously recorded my weight almost every morning, the only exceptions being when I was on vacation with friends and when I was at home for vacation and we packed our scale so I couldn't weigh myself. I always weigh myself in the mornings, even though I would sometimes weigh myself again throughout the day, after a particularly satisfying workout or a large meal, just to see how my weight was affected.

And what I had done 3 months ago on a whim turned out to be one of the biggest life changing things I've done. For the past 95 days I religiously inputed everything I ate (almost everything, I occasionally skipped the cream I put in my coffee or a late-night snack), and I've been consistently losing about one pound per week (even though my goal is 1.5 pounds/week), and as of this week I've lost a total of 13 pounds! Despite struggling through two weight plateaus, the last one I just overcame about a day ago, my weight loss has been consistent and the quality of my life has not ben affected dramatically.

The change is visible. My stomach and belly have gotten flatter. My jeans are now looser in the waist and I got half of my wardrobes back. There are few T-shirts that I had not been able to wear I can now put on with much ease and actually leave my house with without feeling absolutely disgusted with myself.

The weight loss has not made me a faster runner, however. In fact, I now run at a much slower speed because of my plantar fasciitis, but I can run now for 25 or 30 minutes straight without the need to stop for a walking break. I don't know if it's because of the speed or the light load, it's likely a combination of both. I did improve in my yoga classes. The other day I did my first half-wheel pose since I was about 12 years old. It only lasted a few seconds because my wrists were not used to the pose but I felt so strong and accomplished.

It's kind of strange, however, that not many people besides myself have noticed my weight loss. Except one friend, but I had not seen him in almost two months, and I was wearing a particularly flattering shirt that day. Other than that no one has commented. Some pointed out a shirt I wore for the first time in a long time and I tell them that I was able to put it on again after losing so many pounds. They were happy for me but they don't look terribly convinced. I can only assume that because we see each other fairly often and my weight loss has not really affect anywhere else on my body besides my stomach area, that the change is not as noticeable. Although it's equally strange that I see myself in the mirror every day and I can tell the difference. Anywhoo, given the weight I started with, 13 pounds really do not make that big of a difference. But I have no intention of stopping here and I'm on tract to lose more. My goal is to work at this pace for the next year or so (another 52 weeks, another 50 pound or so), before I move on to a more fitness-oriented goal and not have my plans be dictated by the numbers on the scale. Maybe by then I would actually work on a realistic goal of doing a half marathon or a full marathon and finish at a respectable time. By then I should also be settled down enough that I can consider getting yoga instructor certified.

In other news, today also marks day 10 of my journey of being a temporary vegetarian. While I did have to make conscious decision to not eat something, I did not have a very hard time keeping to my new life style. I began cooking again last Wednesday and it definitely made things a lot easier. Not only could I now make things that I actually like, instead of settling on an item after weeding out the meat-containing ones, I could also control the calorie count. Originally I planned a "rest" day once a week to satisfy any craving and to finish my reservoir of meat in my freezer, but so far I feel like keeping the streak going and I think I'll just do it for as long as I can. The freezer-full of meat can wait. If I don't get to them until October they should still be fine in there. Recently I've been craving for things like fried chicken or other chicken dishes and I get these temporary frustrated feeling about not being able to eat them, but these feelings go away quickly and they never turn into actions. I've involuntarily put myself on a diet since I fell into a lazy streak. I haven't been active since last Tuesday and barely burning 1600 Calories a day, so therefore I really couldn't eat a lot for fear of gaining any weight. With my daily calorie budget of less than 1500 I've been hungry a lot, and it's a terrible feeling. Not terrible enough for me to get out of my apartment and walk around or go for a run, but terrible still. In some ways this was needed since it kind of helped me to get unstuck from my plateau, but I hate this feeling and I think it's also affected my mood and my energy level.

All in all it's been a very good and successful 3 months. There were ups and downs. There were struggles and frustrations. I've often complained to myself in my diary and in thought, but now when I look back I don't really hold any of those memories anymore. Even that first week of vegetarian struggle I wrote about didn't feel like that big of a deal anymore, mostly because none of the bad decisions I made transpired to any physical consequences. I have nothing but amazement and happiness. I can't imagine going back to the old self that's 13 pounds heavier, and I'm going to do everything I can to not go back. I'm looking forward to each new day, knowing that I now have a plan that works and if I just stick to it I will slowly but steadily reach my goal in the end.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Struggles of an eating-out vegetarian: Day 1

Disclaimer: before I start I have to confess a few things.
1) No I have not decided to adopt a permanent vegetarian life style.
2) There must be so much stuff out there about vegetarianism and I have not really explored any one of them, but will probably do so in the coming weeks.
3) Emphasis on "eating-out".

Unless things change dramatically and irreversibly to my life in the future I will never become a vegetarian or vegan or what have you. I'm an omnivore like human beings should be and I will stick to that. I have nothing against people who choose to be vegetarians or vegans, in fact I have great respect for them because it's not easy to adopt to these lifestyles and most of these people that I know or have read about just seem a lot happier and at peace with themselves and with the world. I envy that. But I also firmly believe that one should not cut out major food groups from their diet (if they can), under any intellectual or moral circumstances.

That is also not to say that I have to have meat in every one of my meals. I sometimes go for a week or more without eating meat if I'm too lazy to cook dishes that include meat. I would be bothered if there are no vegetables or greens in my meals, but never the other way round. And yes I do worry about the environment, and no you will never catch me killing my own dinner. But still, we didn't evolve to the species we are from just eating berries and leaves and I will not apologize for eating other members of our kingdom (the animal kingdom, that is).

Anyhoo, despite all that, for the next several weeks, until 10/16 to be exact, I will try to adopt a vegetarian diet. The reasons are complicated, personal, and to a degree absurd. But it was a promise I made and I intend on keeping it the best I can. We are allowed to eat meat if circumstances dictate it so, and we'll just make up the days later on. My current plan is to break my vegetarian vow every Sunday (an arbitrary pick really, no significance), for the sole reason that I have chicken breast, shaved steak, shrimp, salmon, and pork buns taking space in my freezer and I really need to gradually finish them, preferably before I move out (I'm graduating in late October, you see).

Today (Saturday) was Day 1. I'm already deciding that I will stay vegetarian on Sunday because it will be unlikely that I cook at all on Day 2. Despite being here in New England, this month has been unbearably warm and now humid. That combined with the stress of writing my thesis has really left me no desire to worry about cooking. I've resigned to the fact that I will spend more money than I wish this month on take-out food, and it, along with coffee, will be an expense I'm willing to pay.

Immediately I realize the problems. I almost never do vegetarian takeouts. Whenever I eat out I always get meat-based dishes because paying for other people to cook you vegetables is almost just like being robbed. It's way overpriced! Why would you pay 10 bucks for a meat-less salad, or a plate of stir-fried vegetables, when the raw ingredients are fraction the price and the skill that's required to prepare the dish is virtually none? I can't stand the injustice, and therefore I've always ordered stuff with meat in the dishes.

For lunch today I thought I would do asian food, and I went to this Japanese-Korean restaurant thinking I will get some sort of Korean stew with rice (because the calories in noodles are just outrageous). As I was sitting in the restaurant staring at the menu I realized that it was a very bad place to be if you are vegetarian. The limited options are just depressing. There was virtually no vegetarian sushi options (as it should really), and all the hot dishes, Japanese or Korean, have some sort of seafood or pork or beef in them. I did end up getting stew but it wasn't what I had in mind (what I had in minded, it turned out, had seafood in it). So one meal down without breaking my promise and it was a close one. I won't be visiting that restaurant any time soon and that's just a shame.

For dinner I got a salad. Overpriced perhaps but I needed the fresh vegetables to offset the carb-heavy cornbread and fat-loaded string cheese I brought with me as studying snacks. That was another problem I sensed. Not all vegetarian diets are healthy. It's so easy to overeat on the carbs, especially when you don't have the protein-rich meat to keep you full. I will have to be careful to consume more plant-based proteins or this might ironically wreck my weight losing plans.

So one day down and however many more to go. I hope the weather will improve so that it'll at least be cool and not humid enough to cook at home. I really had to think more than I liked to figure out what I wanted to eat and where I could get it in town, and while I like food I just hate obsessing over it in this way. Tomorrow (or later today, rather) will be another take-out day, as I'm trying to finish up a draft of my chapter to be submitted to my adviser and it will be again humid and hot and disgusting and I will want to run away from my apartment as fast as possible. I don't know what I'll buy yet. Given my limited calorie budget it's not easy to find restaurant options that are healthy in all sense of the word.