Tuesday, March 4, 2014

We Fall Down

A few evenings ago, I found myself in a heap on the floor of my new apartment, trying hard not to completely fall apart as my boyfriend knelt over me. As he held and comforted me, I tried to steady my breathing, to stay present, and to relax. I was in the midst of a panic attack, an experience that I am very familiar with. I have suffered from panic or anxiety attacks for over a decade. There was a time when I would have them as frequently as once or twice a week. Nowadays, they are infrequent. I know most of my triggers, usually highly emotional situations like funerals or intense fights. But they can also come about after stress has built up, like a pressure cooker, slowly but surely coming to a head.

The past few weeks have been a slowly- building stressful situation. I have been moving from one apartment to another as I have taken on new, highly demanding duties at work. I have not been able to consistently do the self-care that helps me manage stress, namely exercising consistently, sleeping adequately, and eating appropriately. I have known for a very long time that doing these things are good not only for my physical, but also my mental and emotional health. Yet I let life get in the way of living the way I know I need to. And I paid for it.

I’m not angry or ashamed about falling down. I’m human and I have weaknesses, as all humans do. The panic attack was a wake-up call, of sorts. It reminded me that while I am all about getting the tight body and being stronger, faster, and more flexible, I also need to be more kind and mindful of myself and my needs. I am very goal-oriented, and I have signed up for a number of races and even another marathon this year (more on that in another post). I also have booked numerous sessions with yoga and fitness studios to help me stay on track with my health and fitness goals. But I also have to know when to say no mas; that’s enough. I can’t let my ego and the need to be successful in fitness or in my career take precedence over my mental and emotional well-being.

So with that said, there is no update this month on my progress. I think that I have regressed a bit, and if I document that now, it would only be to punish and shame myself. I don’t think I need that right now, so I hope readers will understand. Next month there will be updates, with numbers and photos. In the meantime, I will try and write more about this lifelong journey that I’m on…I think things will brighten up as March commences and we thaw out from this brutal winter. I can’t wait to see what Spring brings, can you?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Month Two

Happy February! I have been going strong with my health and fitness plan, Eating Clean and Getting Lean in 2014. I have consistently worked out 5 or more times every week, with a pretty much even amount of lifting weights, doing core work, hitting the mat for yoga, and running. The snowy, icy weather has kept me off my game a bit, but I have done quite a few home workouts on those mornings that I couldn't bear to leave the house.

My diet has been, well, okay...I mostly eat clean, but between my boyfriend's birthday, our 6-month anniversary, and the Super Bowl, I have had my share of party food and libations. I need to re-focus the diet for February, and get back to my meal planning.

I am beginning to realize that I need to get more sleep. I am really going to try to get to bed between 10-11 p.m. during the week so I can get up at 5:00 a.m. for my workouts. I may have to make an special exception for Thursday night, AKA, Scandal Thursday!!

So, since this is the first of the month, I have my scale and picture check-in, so here goes...

February 2014

Height: 5'5
Body Fat%: 33.3
Muscle %: 32.5
BMI: 28.1
Waist (at belly button): 30.5 inches
Waist (bellow belly button, my pooch): 33.5 inches
Hips: 41.5 inches
Chest: 35.5 inches
Thighs: 23.5 inches
Arms: 11.5 inches ( I measured this myself, so it may be off a little)

From January to February, I gained 3.6 lbs, and lost 2.5 inches (in my hips, chest, and waist). My body fat% went down .1% (lol) and the muscle % stayed the same. I typically gian weight when I start lifting, so I am not too worried about that right now, but I would like that number to go down soon. Probably once I really get my fat % down, I will start to see my lbs. go down too.

These numbers are one way to measure the changes in my body, but there are things that are not measured. My upper abs and my shoulders are leaning out a bit too. I also am getting much more flexible. Is there a visual difference? My boyfriend says so (he's such a good boyfriend!!!) but you be the judge!

Mimi January 2014
Mimi February 2014


Mimi January 2014

Mimi February 2014
Mimi January 2014
Mimi February 2014
I may see a very slight difference in my arms and maybe my stomach. I am not expecting big changes immediately, especially since I have not been 100% on point. The sports bra isn't the most flattering; my arm fat and back fat is accentuated due to the compression in the bra, but hey, there is one way to fix that, lose the fat!

Posting these pics is definitely motivating! I want to see some real difference by month three, so I guess I better work harder on staying true to my plan...right after I have my evening beer!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Booty Don't Lie, But the Scale Sure Does!

The scale is a liar! Well, not totally. But, maybe it is. I guess it just depends on how I choose to interpret what the scale is telling me. Right now, my scale is telling me that I have gained a few pounds since I started my Eating Clean and Getting Lean in 2014 journey. In the past, looking at the numbers creep up would have depressed me, especially since I have been working out and eating “really well” since I started #ECGL2014.
But I have been working out and eating well. And I know this, mayne! I have worked out almost every day this year so far…I am averaging 6-7 days a week. I’ve been preparing my meals and even though I have had a couple of non-clean meals, not days, for the most part, I am sticking to my guns on the eating front.

So what is going on? What is my scale really telling me when it says that I am gaining weight? Well, to its credit, the scale also tells me other things, like body fat, muscle, and water composition. It also gives me my BMI and the amount of calories I should eat to maintain my current size, or something like that (I obviously don’t pay too much attention to that feature).

The big thing for me is the body fat composition. Two weeks into this journey (notice I am calling it a journey now, not a challenge) the scale tells me that my body fat composition has gone down from 33.6% to 31.0%. I’m sure that there is a corresponding gain in muscle, but I don’t remember the number offhand (I’m supposed to be recording this weekly, but I gotta get consistent with it).

So I am losing fat…I’m getting less fat and more lean! Even if the scale is a liar, which I am not so sure it is now, my booty, or rather, my upper body, isn’t. My upper abs are definitely becoming more defined, and my shoulders are as well. I know from experience that my shoulders build muscle rather quickly, so I expect that I will be looking like Xena, Warrior Princess in the next month or so.

My booty I am not sure about, I just like that line from Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu’s song, Queen.  But my legs are also getting firmer and less jiggly. And my dresses ain’t telling no tales either. Today, I wore a dress that I wore about three and a half years ago when I first interviewed for my job. It was so tight then, and I remember being uncomfortable in it. It was very loose today, and I may have to give it away, if it can’t be altered. Another dress that I used to only wear as a tunic cause it was so tight actually fits well now; I will be wearing it to work tomorrow. So I am definitely getting smaller, tighter, and leaner, even if I am getting heavier.

I needed to write this, cause I need to remember to trust the process, trust the work, trust the practice. Like I said, this is not a challenge, it’s a journey. The metrics, my body, my mindset, and so many other tangibles and intangibles are going to change along the way. I have to decide in the midst of all of this which truths I’m going to listen to and believe. Ase.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What a girl eats

One week into the new year and I am freezing my huevos off! Actually, not really...as a Detroit transplant currently living in the DC area, single digit temperatures are not really bothering me so much. Never mind the fact that I worked from home today and stayed nice and cozy with the fireplace going...IF I had gone outside today, I could of handled it. I'm used to worse; remember, It's so cold in the D! 

What I have been doing is going strong with my Eating Clean and Getting Lean in 2014 challenge. I prepared meals for last week and this week, and so far, I have not had a restaurant or cafeteria meal at all. I want to share in more detail what it is that I am doing to prepare these meals, as well as my successes and challenges.

The biggest task is picking, purchasing food for, and preparing the entrees. At the end of last month, I tentatively decided on a few entrees to prepare each week. So far I have made taco salad, lasagna, seafood pasta, and turkey polish sausage with greens. I also have been buying two precooked rotisserie chickens from Wegman's. The taco salad, seafood pasta, and lasagna were all new recipes that I got from the resources shown in the previous post.

So, what were my successes? The turkey sausage with greens has been a consistent hit. I just cut up some turkey polish sausage or other type of large sausage (turkey or chicken) and along with some onions garlic, and this yummy Moroccan spice blend sauté the sausage for a bit in some olive oil. Then I add kale to the skillet and let it sit for a while until the stems are tender. Easy and delicious!

Urban Accents Brand Moroccan Road...not sure what is urban about it, but it tastes good.

The lasagna was another dish that I kicked arse on. I promised a FB friend that I would post the recipe, so here it is, adapted from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno.

Veggie Lasagna

2 ½ quarts of water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic (I used minced from the jar)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Black pepper
4 cups spinach
1 pound dry whole grain lasagna noodles
2 cups tomato sauce ( I probably used a bit more)
2 ½ cups cottage cheese
6 cups grated lowfat mozzarella cheese
1 ½ cups goat cheese

1.     Preheat oven to 375. In large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook 5 minutes until veggies become soft. Add mushrooms and sauté for another few minutes. Stir in soy sauce, pepper, and spinach, let spinach wilt.
2.     Bring 2 ½ quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Pour some olive oil in the water to keep noodles from sticking. Add noodles and cook al dente. Drain noodles and cool them under cold water.
3.     Spread ½ cup or more of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the lasagna pan that’s been pretreated with non-stick cooking spray. Place a layer of noodles on top. Spread ¾ cup of cottage cheese, along with 1 ½ cups of mozzarella and ½ cup of the goat cheese. Then add 1/3 of the veggie mixture. Repeat layers until you are out of ingredients. End with tomato sauce on top.
4.     Bake in hot oven for 35 minutes. Sprinkle more mozzarella on top and return to oven to cook for additional 5 minutes. Take lasagna out of oven and put in the bottom for a few minutes if you want it to be more golden brown on top (I did not do this, but my girlfriend gave me that tip, so I am sharing). Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes so that it cools and settles. Then cut into it and eat!

Mimi's Eating Clean Veggie Lasagna

Now the challenges. The seafood pasta, that I added canned salmon and octopus to, was all right. It got eaten up, but it wasn’t something that I was just dying to eat. I think I had too much pasta and too much seafood. More veggies would have been good. I have to rework that recipe and try again. The taco salad was okay too, but I made it as a weekend dish on Friday and tried to eat it on Saturday and Sunday. Taco salad does not hold well. Lesson learned.

Also, I have a lot of leftovers. I still have sautéed veggies from last week, plus veggies that I had planned on cooking this week. I plan on making some roasted sweet potatoes at some point this week, but I am trying to finish the food from last week first (I hate to just throw cooked food out). I have to learn how to modulate my dishes depending on whether my boyfriend is hanging out in my neck of the woods (which he thinks is the sticks) or if my son is going to eat at home or at the myriad restaurants that surround our house (Chick-fil-a; Five Guys; Moby Dick; Taco Bell; Panda Express; Kraze Burger; Panera Bread; I-Hop; Chipotle; Pizza Hut, and those are just the chain restaurants that I could get to in under five minutes of walking or less, depending on the traffic).

That being said, I have had a pretty good go of it so far. I am mainly eating healthy snacks like apples with almond butter or avocado and rice.

I seriously crave a chilled Fuji apple with almond butter at times...try it!

I could eat mashed avocado with brown rice all day every day...if I was not a little allergic to avocado...Don't judge me!
I did have a bowl of golden grahams with soy milk and I enjoyed every bit of it! My challenge will come this weekend, when I have an event at Dave and Buster’s, a restaurant get together, and a brunch to go to. I am going to try to eat healthy home cooked foods on the days that I will be eating out, and choose something light at the outings. I also have to still keep on my exercise and meal prepping schedule while hanging out this weekend. I will report on how it goes next week. Wish me luck!!!  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Challenge: Eating Clean and Getting Lean in 2014

Happy New Year! I am extra hyped right now cause not only is it the start of a great year, but I also finished the holiday running streak of running 35 days in a row from Thanksgiving 2013 to New Year's Day 2014, AND my beloved Michigan State University Spartans just won the 100th Rose Bowl!!!! Go Green! Go White!

I am also hyped because this is the "official" first day of my Eating Clean and Getting Lean in 2014 #ECGL2014 challenge. It is a personal challenge/experiment to see what transformations I can make if I commit to eating a mostly clean diet and focusing more on lifting weights and getting lean. I will be chronicling my progress on this blog as a way to document what works and what doesn't. I also hope that it can serve as a bit of inspiration for anyone who comes across it.

Last week, I started my planning process by collecting all of the reference materials that I wanted to use to help me make a plan. I have a number of books and magazines already, but I also purchased a couple of new things that I thought might be helpful.
Tools of the trade

I came up with a meal plan for the month,  finding 3 entrees and 2 lunches that I was willing to make each week, along with my standard dishes that I have, like curried chick peas with tofu and spinach salad with shredded chicken and tomatoes. I also decided on the types of snacks I would eat, like nuts, fruit, and tea. I will give more detail about my meal planning and prepping process in a future post, but basically I come up with a monthly plan, then shop and prepare weekly, making adjustments as I need to.

My workout plan is going to be pretty basic for this month. I will get up early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to go to the gym and lift. I am using the New Rules of Lifting for Women program. I used it before and definitely got stronger. I did not incorporate the diet portion though, which led to less than satisfying results. This time, I will keep my diet tight!

 On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will get up and do yoga and meditation. I have been saying that I really want to develop a yoga practice. Now is the time to do it. I have a lot of books and videos at my disposal, so I will make use of them. I do want to take an actual class, but for now, a home practice will have to do.

 On Saturdays and Sundays I will run with my BGR running group. I am not focusing on time or distance for January, just as long as I get the runs in. This will be a way to reconnect with the joy of running, since all of 2013 was about achieving running goals. This month, there is no goal, just the run. That does not mean that I won't push myself during my runs...I just am not going to wear my GPS watch or even put my mileage into my Daily Mile profile. I am pretty religious about tracking my mileage, so this will be a "challenge" haha. But I think this bit of a "running break" will be good for me.

I am also going to be really brave and post my numbers and progress pictures on this blog. I ask that you don't copy or publish these without permission...I can't see why anyone would, but I figure I better state that.

So, for January 2014, here are my stats:

Height: 5'5
Weight: 165.2 lbs
Body Fat Percentage: 33.6
Muscle Percentage: 32.5
BMI: 27.5
Waist (at belly button): 31 in.
Waist (bellow belly button, aka, my pooch): 33.5 in.
Hips: 42.5 in.
Chest: 36 in.
Thighs: 24 in.
Arms: 11.5 in.

And here are my January 2014 pictures:

Mimi 1-2014 Front

Mimi 1-2014 Side

Mimi 1-2014 Back
I know that I have made a lot of progress in the past year, but I am ready to take it to the next level. I am looking forward to slimming down, leaning out, and getting that super fit body that I have always desired. Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Au Revoir 2013: Reflection on the past year(s)

As I look back on the previous year, as so many of us are doing right about now, I am really thankful and grateful for how far I've come. A year ago, in December of 2012, I was coming off of one of the hardest years of my life. In so many ways, I had been thrown for a loop, beaten, broken, challenged, and, I don't know, insert whatever downtrodden word you can think of there, and I'm sure it fits.

I was having a god-awful time with my son, who was spiraling out of control and getting himself into all sorts of trouble at school, with law enforcement, and in our home. I had found love after years of being single, only to have my heart broken when my boyfriend, who I had been leaning on during all of my parenting struggles, dumped me and disappeared from my life. I was in the midst of a fellowship program at work that, while providing me with lots of opportunities, had me transferring to new offices every three to six months, with no guarantee of a permanent placement once I finished the program. Trying to make a good impression at work while nursing a broken heart and trying to save my son from the school system, the criminal justice system, his peer group, and himself was daunting to say the least. So my job performance was not as good as it should have been, and I was worried that I would not find a placement at all and end up unemployed on top of everything.

But through it all, I was hopeful. I knew that somehow, I would get through it. Now, honestly, I did not know 100% that I would, I mean I had some really dark days, but I kept getting up each morning after crying myself to sleep at night. I often went through periods where I felt like I was ducking and hiding from the next thing that would fall from the sky or that was lurking around the corner. But I was determined to get through this period in my life. I wanted 2013 to be much better than 2012.

This is me in December 2012. I was so ready for that year to be over!
The above picture is me in December 2012. I look at that picture and see a woman that went through hell, but also was hopeful. You can easily see that I was overweight. In fact, I was around 180 lbs, which, on my 5'5 frame, was quite a lot of weight. What you can't see is the fact that in the midst of heartbreak and troubles at work and home, I had managed to train for and complete not only a Ragnar 200-mile relay race, but also my first 1/2 marathon, a trail marathon, no less. Running, I believe, was what saved me in 2012. At the moment that this picture was taken, I was in full acknowledgement that life had thrown me a lot of curveballs in 2012, but I was determined to go into 2013 stronger. I had kept running through all of the struggles of 2012, and I had decided to commit to accomplishing a major goal in 2013, completing a full marathon. I knew it wasn't the race, but the training, the preparation, that would strengthen me even further.

So, in 2013, I really got my running life. I focused on running three times a week, during the two races that I co-led as a run coordinator for Black Girls Run: DC, and once during a neighborhood run led by another team of BGR coordinators. I signed up for the Detroit Free Press Marathon on January 1, 2013. I developed a pre-marathon training schedule as well as a marathon training schedule. I ran 5Ks and other races in the area. I cheered at races and even got my son, who finally turned a corner, to run in his first 5K. And after a summer of training in crazy hot temperatures, on October 20, 2013, I did this:

Crossing the finish line of my first marathon. Picture taken by my son.
 And got this:

Marathon Bling
In 2013, I ran 1,000 miles, completed a full marathon, two half marathons, completed the Holiday Running Streak of running every day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day (well, that will be official on 1/1/14), and even snagged a new love (my man reached out to me online after seeing a photo of me in my BGR t-shirt). My son is doing much better in school and is out of trouble with the law. I am in a position at work that challenges me, but that I love and see lots of growth potential. And I also managed to drop 15 pounds in the process of all of that!

December 2013, wearing pants I have not gotten into since 2010. Photo taken by my super hot boyfriend.
I grateful for the pain of 2012 and the progress of 2013. I am looking forward to the promise of 2014. I do not know what will be in the future, que sera sera, but I am determined to go use the lessons from my past as I go forward. I know that I am strong and am capable of handling whatever life throws at me. I know that I can push myself to do more and do better. I look forward to sharing my journey on this blog and in the conversations that I have with others as I embark on new goals in the new year. Let's make it a great one!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wrapping Up and Starting Up

Happy Boxing Day!! Happy Kwanzaa!! Christmas came and went, and I survived with my running streak in tact. I have run every day since Thanksgiving, and will continue until New Year's Day. Then, I will take a "break" for a couple of days, until my regular Saturday run. It has been hard at times, especially when I had to get up extra early to run before a long day of work and a long night of partying, or when I had to force myself out into the cold at night after shopping and cooking all day. But doing this streak has shown me that it really is about having the mental toughness to tell the inner couch potato to shut up, cause the inner fit diva is going to go for a run.

Also, as of today, I have run 980 miles in 2013. Just 20 miles to go in order to meet my goal of 1,000 miles for 2013. I have been having knee trouble, so the remainder of my runs will be slow and easy, but I will get them in. I also have had to tape my outer thighs and my left foot. My body is telling me that it is being taxed, and I am listening to it, stretching and massaging my muscles. But I am not going to stop until I reach this goal, even if I am running a 13 min. mile the whole way.

Speaking of time, I have been getting a bit faster. I can comfortably run a 9:00 for a good amount of time...I can even get down to an 8:00 for a spell. Part of my early 2014 plans include really focusing on speedwork. It is not my primary goal, as I have decided to do a few things differently in 2014.

I will be starting a new challenge in 2014 (actually, starting  Monday, December 30, 2013). As a teaser, this challenge will include serious work in the gym and kitchen, as well as running and yoga work. The goal is to really move to the next level in my fitness in 2014, with major changes happening by Memorial Day, which is Monday, May 26. 2014. I am making this challenge more public than ever before. I want to share my journey with my friends and family so that they can hold me accountable and so I can serve as an example of how to create and sustain and healthy and fit lifestyle. I'm really looking forward to it, in fact, I am about to do some planning right now.

Happy Holidays!!!