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Down to the Last 10 Weeks of 2020

With my beautiful, new, pink 2021 Powersheets sitting in its bright yellow box, I’ve been finding myself a little less motivated to set goals. After all, we’re near the end of October. After this, we only have two months left for the year. It’s like pigging out on junk food before starting a diet; it’s easy to tell myself, “I’ll start that in the new year.” We’re less than 10 weeks away from the end of the year. Why not just take a break and start fresh in January?

However, this is also the start of my second third of #90DivineDays. While I have somewhat abandoned the concept of adding new goals in each of the goal areas we discussed: Food, Fitness, Personal Development, and Spiritual Growth, because I ended up changing and adding some new goals earlier in the month. I decided to make the changes when I saw a need instead of waiting for a specific date to try something new.

Personal Development

A few weeks ago, I decided to utilize a daily planner to schedule my to-do list and see if it would increase my productivity. I’ve been pretty inconsistent with using a planner this year. However, I’ve also taken the time to figure out what kind of planner system works best for me. I’ve learned that weekly planning isn’t efficient. I rarely know my schedule more than a day in advance. I have to plan things day by day. I never know what stickers to use or how much space to leave for each day when planning my week.

On the other hand, using a dashboard layout with a weekly to-do list also doesn’t work well. If I don’t decide on a specific day to do something, it doesn’t get done. So, I’ve been learning that using a combination of Google Calendar and a daily planner layout seems to work best for me. I use Google Calendar to record scheduled events and appointments, like job interviews, online meetings, and Holidays. Then, I look at any scheduled appointments, Powersheets goals, and any random-to-do list items I need to accomplish and fit them into my daily planner.

The system I’m using isn’t without its flaws. For one thing, I threw together a quick DIY daily planner using some Happy Planner daily refill pages, so it’s not a very polished system. It’s entirely composed of daily pages, so it lacks space to make generalized plans for the month or week. It would be nice to have a spot each week to add jot down a to-do list for the following week. 

However, despite its shortcomings, it seems to be doing the job. I’ve been a lot more productive, knowing that I have a daily to-do list. I plan on making some changes in 2021 if things continue to go this well. I toyed with the idea of frankenplanning my own 2021 daily planner with Happy Planner refills and inserts. However, I am not a fan of some of the compromises I’d have to make with the design. It would also end up costing me about as much money to buy a brand new Erin Condren Life Planner. 

I haven’t officially decided on placing the order yet. I want to make sure this is something I am going to use. I figured, while not perfect, my DIY planner will be enough to show me at least if a daily planning system works for me. If I’m consistent in using it during the 56 days I have leading up to the date I decided to order a new planner, I’ll place the order. Ideally, I’m aiming for 100% consistency, but I know things happen. As long as I hit 90% consistency by December 7 (and I still like the daily planning, of course), I’ll place the order. [There’s also a chance that I’ll order it sooner if I hit that same number of days before the 7th, but I still won’t order before December.]

Food

I’m not making many changes for food since what I’ve been doing has been working. I’m just tweaking things here and there as I see fit. However, I recently changed my supplement routine. Instead of taking my beloved SmartyPants gummy vitamins, I’ve switched to a multivitamin pill. I’ve also added things like fish oil, B-vitamins, and a few supplements that may help with muscle recovery, anxiety, and focus. I am still experimenting with a few things with the vitamins, however. Today, I decided to take my multivitamin with lunch. This past week, I’ve noticed an overall feeling of blahness with some slight nausea sometime between 9 am and noon. I realized that the culprit could be my new multivitamin. Perhaps, the iron in the supplement is too harsh on my stomach. It’s also possible that my Fab4 smoothies aren’t quite enough food to take with the vitamin. I feel a lot better today than I have felt, which is a good sign that the multivitamin is the issue. I’ll see how I feel after lunch today, but there’s a chance I’ll have to find a new multivitamin. 

Fitness

My fitness goal is more or less the same. I’m still exercising six days a week with a minimum of three strength training sessions. However, I’m changing things up just a little. A few of us started LIIFT4 a couple of weeks ago. I finished day two of week three today, and my arms are killing me. (So is my chest, for that matter). This round has been so much different than my first attempt at the program back in May. In May, I only had access to 2 and 5-pound dumbbells, which were ok for some of the moves but were far too light for most. I was also working part-time as a bakery dishwasher. Since I only worked on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were also the arm-heavy days (triceps on Mondays and biceps on Tuesdays), I didn’t want to push myself too hard. Tuesdays, especially, felt like a race to see if I could finish my work before my arms quit. Now, I have access to a nice collection of dumbbells ranging from 2 to 12 pounds. I’m eating more and fueling my body well. For the first time, I’m pushing myself and working out in hopes of increasing my strength and endurance.

In addition to my Liift4 schedule, I’m also incorporating Walk at Home workouts. Typically, if a session is around 36-40 minutes long, I’ll follow LIIFT4 with a 1-mile walk. On shorter lifting days, I’ll do a 2-mile walk. Wednesdays and Saturdays, I’ll walk 3-5 miles. However, I’m also allowing myself some flexibility to take that walk outdoors if I want. 

Spiritual Growth

The only thing I haven’t changed anything with is my Spiritual Growth goals. I’m still reading the same devotionals, and I recently started a new scripture writing plan. Perhaps, as this month progresses, I’ll make changes in this area. For now, I’m focusing on consistency and maintaining the habits I’ve started to develop.

Despite not starting any new habits specifically for the second third of #90DivineDays, I did create my new tending list for the next five weeks. This was the first time I ever made a tending list without much struggle. I have tweaked it a few times since the month started. I added a monthly task or two- including one I wrote in after it was already complete. I also swapped out one of my daily tasks. Initially, I put in my afternoon quiet time as one of my daily items. Then, I realized that with the deadline for ordering my planner approaching in December, using my planner each day was a more important goal to track.

Monthly Goals:

  • Get My Car Inspected
  • Finish reading The Slight Edge
  • Read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
  • Finish the Yes Fit Beauty and the Beast Race
  • Yes Fit Turkey Trot 10K
  • Finish my Christmas Wishlist
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving
  • Deep Clean Kitchen counter and stove/Spray Enzyme cleaner on spots that one of our cats frequently uses as a litterbox
  • Decorate bedroom for Christmas

Oh, and there’s one other item listed for this month, but I’m not ready to share it. I will say that I’ve already started working on it and I expect to finish it in a couple of weeks.

Weekly Action Items:

  • Workout 6 days per week (3x strength training)
  • Devote time to searching for a job Monday-Friday
  • Do a deeper clean of my bedroom (sweeping/dusting) once a week.
  • Wash my bedding on alternating weeks
  • Publish one blog post
  • Publish two Instagram posts

Daily Action Items:

  • Write for blog
  • Read
  • Nightly tidy
  • Stay in my calorie range and drink 1 gallon of water.
  • Use my planner 

I’m excited to see what these next five weeks have in store for me.

(And, don’t tell anyone, but I already put in a few monthly action items for next month!)

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Morning Routines and Priorities

When I started #90DivineDays nearly three weeks ago, I set my alarm for 5 am.

Unfortunately, I don’t always go to bed by 9 pm. I rarely go to bed that early. I was getting a lot done in the morning, but it came at a cost. I was not getting nearly enough sleep.

Now, I could argue that I got by just fine, not sleeping enough last year. After all, I didn’t even make an exception for a rest day on weekends. (Now, I’ll at least give myself an extra hour to sleep in on Sundays). However, that’s not entirely true. In fact, I think my refusal to rest more probably contributed to the fact that I got the flu twice during the last two months of 2019. 

I needed to make a change. I have some occasional evening commitments that prevent me from getting to bed before 9 pm. Therefore, I decided the first approach would be to wake up an hour later every morning. So, I set my alarm for 6 with plans to get in bed by 10 pm most nights. I also started making an effort to eat dinner closer to 6 pm instead of 7. (I’ve been getting to bed before 9 most nights this week). 

That meant switching things up with my morning routine. I loved how I structured my mornings with my workout sandwiched between my morning coffee/journaling time and time reading. I also really loved finishing my workout around 7 am.

Unfortunately, I can’t do it all. I can’t set a later alarm, follow the same routine I want to follow, and do my workout when I want. It’s just not possible.

On Sunday, I woke up and discovered that the single-serve coffee machine (a Clio) I had been using for the last two weeks decided to stop working. I decided to use this to my advantage and try something different. Last year, when I started working out, I did my workout immediately after waking up. So, I decided to give that a try. After all, as much as I loved the structure of my morning routine, I wanted to finish my workout earlier. 

My workouts this week have been pretty terrible. Last week, I killed it. For some devices, Fitbit now measures active time in terms of “Active Zone Minutes.” Activity that gets your heart rate into Fat Burn Zone gives you one Active Zone Minute per minute of activity. Cardio and Peak zone give you two Zone minutes per minute of activity. Last week, I had several workouts where my Active Zone Minutes met or exceeded the time spent working out.

This week? Not even close. Yesterday, I even picked a workout I know I love because the HIIT component drives up my heart rate. For some reason, that didn’t happen. I could not get my heart rate up. Despite my best efforts to focus on why I was working out, I was too unfocused. 

Something needed to change. Yesterday, I spent a good 40 minutes scrubbing an old Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. I purchased an inexpensive bag of whole bean coffee at Aldi. 

This morning, I woke up, got dressed, and started my morning with a cup of coffee. I did my journaling and devotionals while drinking my coffee. Then, I started my workout just before 7 am.

It was the best workout all week. I decided to skip my scheduled Tone Every Zone workout and do the sample workout from LIIFT4, followed by a two-mile Miracle Miles walk. I was focused and energized. For the first time all week, I finished my workout feeling good.

Now, the morning wasn’t without some setbacks. The coffeemaker I scrubbed yesterday decided it didn’t want to work this morning, so I had to spend time cleaning our second machine. I’m new to making coffee, so I took a few minutes to figure out how the coffee grinder works. Still, I’m convinced that my morning will go more smoothly in time. 

Most importantly, I had a good morning. 

Was it everything I wanted from my morning? No, of course not. However, I need to accept that I need to decide what’s most important to me. I thought it was finishing my workout early. While I still love the idea, I think I would rather exercise an hour later in the morning if it means I get that hour to wake up, caffeinate, and set myself up for a workout that feels good. 

This is what progress looks like at times. It’s always not about sticking to rigid goals. Right now, it’s about experimenting with routines until I find something that works for me. It’s about learning to prioritize- even if it means making some difficult decisions. 

Am I going to stick to this routine of having coffee before my workout? I can’t say for sure. I am going to do it for a few days before I make any final decisions. However, I’m pretty sure that I will continue for a while. 

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Rebellion against WW

I used to hate the WW message boards. While they were a decent place to get information about WW before Facebook groups and Connect were a thing, the people who spent their time posting on the forums weren’t always the nicest. Some were downright bullies (and apparently, telling someone they need a meds adjustment and that’s why they cut themselves did not violate any rules).

There was one unspoken rule in the forums. Thou shalt not question Weight Watchers. The mere suggestion that the plan was imperfect really riled people up. WW Rebels were not welcome. At times, it seemed almost cult-like.

So, I was very pleased when I came across a video on YouTube a couple years ago from someone who flat out said that she did not follow the plan perfectly as written. It was someone who regularly posted WW content who did not bow down to the memory of the great Jean Nidetch. I was hooked. I came back to that video over and over and eventually, I became friends with the creator of that video, Brianna (also known as Diva and the Divine).

The thing I really loved about Brianna’s video was that she didn’t break the rules arbitrarily. It wasn’t like she just didn’t want to track something, so she didn’t. Her reasons all made sense.

Anyway, I thought it would be kind of fun to jump off Brianna’s original video idea here and write about the WW rules that I break- especially since I’ve been rebelling a bit more.

Of course, you should check out both of her WW Rebel videos on her YouTube Channel. Her original one can be found here and her latest one is here. (And while you’re on YouTube, you should check out my new friend, MiRanda’s, own WW Rebel, video here because her “stealing” from Brianna is what inspired me to do the same.)

So, after that painfully long introduction, here are a few of the rules I break on WW.

Blended Fruit

I am #TeamNoCountBlendedFruit all the way. I know. I started off with thing everyone rebels against. I rebelled against counting blended fruit back in 2010 when PointsPlus came out and 0 point fruit became a thing. Back then, all fruits and vegetables in any recipe were supposed to be counted. That’s how the recipe builder worked. Even the infamous Garden Vegetable Soup had a PointsPlus value despite consisting of nothing but 0 point vegetables.

This made absolutely zero sense to me. I understood the logic behind it. It’s easier to overeat carrot cake than raw carrots. I also understood what they’re saying about how it’s easier to drink more fruit than you’d consume if you were eating it whole.

However, back in 2010, the WW Android app was pretty bad. It took up too much phone space and it often just didn’t work. Many people in my meetings didn’t have Etools. If they wanted to track a food, they looked it up in a book they bought in the meeting room or used a little handheld calculator. No Etools meant no Recipe Builder. We were taught to calculate the PointsPlus value of a recipe by adding the total points for the ingredients and dividing that number by the number of servings. So, if you had a smoothie made with half a banana, 3/4 cup of blueberries, a handful of spinach, and a cup of almond milk, you’d add 0+0+0+1 and get a 1 point smoothie. There was no list of PointsPlus values to be used in recipes where produce was supposed to count.

This meant that the PointsPlus values for a recipe made using the recipe builder and one made by someone paper tracking could look significantly different. I didn’t accept that. So, I didn’t count the fruit and veggies in any of my recipes- including smoothies. That hasn’t changed in nearly a decade.

Besides, nobody has been able to explain to me why unsweetened applesauce is a 0 point food.

WW

Ok. I’m actually rebelling against WW in general right now. I know. It’s crazy.

Now, I am still an active, paying member of WW. I attend multiple workshops a week in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland. However, despite having the choice of three different plans to follow, I don’t actually follow any of them.

I love SmartPoints. I really do. The Green Plan was my jam. The problem is, I stopped losing weight on it a few months ago. I talked about it a bit more in a recent blog post, but in short, with the way I was eating and the 0 point foods being what they were, I was eating my maintenance calories most days.

So, while I am still attending WW workshops and working towards lifetime status, I am following the old PointsPlus plan (aka Carb Concious) on the iTrackBites app. I’m about halfway through my second week on the plan and I’m LOVING it. I feel absolutely fantastic. I’ve finally been eating in a way that will allow me to lose weight, but I’m also enjoying a newfound freedom and flexibility in my eating. On Saturday, I had a salad from Chipotle with double the barbacoa, guacamole, and a Confetti Bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes. On SmartPoints, I’d be working my entire day around that dessert.

Plus, I can’t be mad at a plan that got me out of the weight decade I was stuck in for MONTHS.

Collagen (and Multivitamins and Medicine)

Back on SmartPoints, I got into the habit of adding 2 scoops of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my water every morning. It’s basically flavorless if you don’t think about it too much. I didn’t think much of it. It was a way to add a few extra grams of protein into my morning and collagen is supposed to have other health benefits as well, right?

Besides, the unflavored version is 0 SmartPoints.

Unfortunately, it clocks in at 2 PointsPlus for the 2 scoop serving.

My collagen was one of the things that was making me question my decision to move forward and try PointsPlus again, so I decided to not track it. After all, I don’t track the gummy vitamins I take every morning. How is this any different? It’s a supplement. I don’t count cough drops or other medicine. I probably wouldn’t count it if I had to take a spoonful of local honey to help with allergies.

I’ll track my food. I don’t count points for medicine.

Coconut Water

This one has the same logic behind it that the previous one does.

I actually hate coconut water. I think it’s disgusting. However, I hate summer more. I don’t do well with the heat and my dad doesn’t believe in air conditioning, so I often get dehydrated during the summer. After all, I spend all night just sweating and it’s very difficult for me to re-hydrate while I’m continually sweating.

So, I’ve decided to allow myself to have coconut water, as-needed when I’m feeling especially run down by the heat. I don’t drink sports drinks like gatorade, so opting for coconut water just seemed like the best choice. I’m not likely to overdo it because I only drink it out of desperation (and it certainly won’t replace my gallon of pure water I drink every day). Why punish myself by counting points for something I’m basically using as medicine?

Cooking Fats

This is fairly new change. I have always been one to measure and count all of the fats used for cooking. After all, fat is the most calorically dense macro nutrient. Over time, I learned to cook all my food dry. I’d toss my vegetables in the oven or air fryer to roast with absolutely nothing on them. I would toss a teaspoon of olive oil on the vegetables after roasting so I’d get the healthy fats in, but the results were always subpar.

Then, a couple months ago, I hit a wall. I’m pretty sure it was plain old WW burnout. I spent some time eating like a complete jerk, but I knew I couldn’t continue down that path for long, so I decided to try something new. I decided to see what would happen if I didn’t count points for cooking fats. After all, back when I was on my Whole30, cooking fat didn’t even count as a fat in a meal because some of it cooked off.

Now, at the time, I was still on SmartPoints, so butter and coconut oil technically are twice as many SmartPoints as olive oil. However, calorie-wise, they’re about the same, so I decided to treat them exactly the same. That has continued into my switch to PointsPlus.

My rule is that I do not count points for fats added to foods before cooking. Now, if I toss vegetables into olive oil before roasting or add a little butter on top of my salmon before sticking under the broiler, I will count the calories (just to keep me in check), but I’ll mark it as a 0 point food. A lot of that fat ends up staying in the pan anyway. [This is likely how I will approach marinades if I cook something using one, though I may also only count a certain amount of the marinade for calorie purposes]. I do not count anything for the fat I use to grease my cast-iron skillets before cooking . Sometimes, it’s a drizzle of olive oil directly into the pan. Other times, I’ll take a stick of butter and rub it on a hot pan. As long as there’s not a visible pool of fat, it doesn’t get counted.

Now, fats that I eat directly- like olive oil in my salad dressing, butter on my toast, or even olive oil in my waffle batter- do get counted appropriately since I know that the fat there isn’t being lost in the cooking process.

Disclaimer

I spent a good 3 months this year not losing weight. If you’re looking at the list of rules I’m breaking and you know this about me, then your conclusion may be that this is probably why I’m not losing weight. That’s a valid assumption. However, when my weight loss stalled, I wasn’t breaking any rules except for the rule about blended fruit (and it’s not like I drink smoothies every day; I only drink them a couple times a week- mostly out of necessity since I don’t get a lunch break at work).

Some of these rules, I’ve only broken for a couple of weeks. Others (like the coconut water rule), I haven’t actually broken yet. However, while I may not be counting Points for these things, I am still logging in their calories. I know that counting a little butter in my pan or blueberries in my smoothie as 0 points isn’t hurting my progress because I’m still primarily eating in a calorie deficit (now that I’ve switched to PointsPlus; the couple rules I broke before my switch were not enough to make a difference).

Since iTrackBites makes tracking a secondary metric so easy, I will continue to keep an eye on my calories- just to make sure that the rules I break aren’t causing an issue. As time goes on, I may start breaking more rules, or I may realize that I’ve been breaking too many. Whatever happens, I am keeping myself in check and it seems to be working so far. We’ll see what happens in the future.

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Sticking to what Works… Until it Doesn’t

I love the WW Green Plan. I lost a bit of weight on it back when it was the new SmartPoints plan a few years back before I put the weight back on when I went on medication to manage my mental health. When I started back on it in September, I spent time modifying the WW app to allow myself to go back to following that plan.

I lost about 30 pounds on SmartPoints.

Last Sunday, I weighed in at 0.2 pounds above what I weighed on March 1. I have been in this same weight decade since December. My only saving grace is that even with some large gains, I haven’t gone up into the higher weight decade.

Now, I haven’t been perfect, but I never have been (and never will be). Still, I’ve had more good days than bad days and that’s always been enough. Lately, however, it hasn’t been enough.

This week, I’ve been doing an experiment inspired by Brianna’s own calorie and point comparison experiment. I decided to switch to tracking on iTrackBites instead of the WW app to take advantage of the secondary metrics. Clearly, something has not been working for me and I need to figure out what it is. I figured the first step would be to look at how many calories I’m eating.

Now, this was a rough week to start an experiment between PMS hunger and eating like a jerk, but the on plan days have been very insightful.

I am still following the Wendie Plan. I do not count points for fruits, vegetables, or the oil I drizzle on my veggies before roasting or air frying (but if I make a salad dressing or something like waffles, I will count points for the oil in that). I am, however, counting calories for those things.

On a “good” day, I’ve been averaging about 1,831 calories per day. According to my Fitbit, my 7 day average calorie burn is about 2,160 calories. [This doesn’t include my “high” point day which would obviously skew my calorie consumption]. It’s no wonder I’m not losing weight.

I’ve looked at the numbers. Obviously, the fruit, veggies, and oil that I don’t count as points still have calories. However, even after subtracting the calories from those foods, I’m still hitting my calorie goal. I know people who, even with 0 point foods, struggle to hit their calorie goals without blowing through their points. I don’t have that problem at all.

If I spend my entire points allowance on chicken breast, that’s over 2,000 calories. On a bundt cake? 640. That’s an average of 75 calories per point vs 21. The problem is, I eat a lot more chicken than I do cake- which is what WW wants me to do.

On PointsPlus, there’s a 10 calorie per point difference between chicken breast and cake.

Most of what I eat on a regular basis is either the same points between SmartPoints and PointsPlus or is fewer points on SmartPoints. I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods. Between daily and weekly points, I have 14 points more on SmartPoints than I do on PointsPlus. If most of my foods are the same on both plans, it means I’m easily overeating on SmartPoints. Take my work lunch for example? The protein powder I use is a point more on PointsPlus than on SmartPoints, but the 1sp fiber powder is 0pp. This means that my smoothie is going to be 9 points on either plan. However, I’m looking at 9 out of 30 points on Green and 9 out of 26 on PointsPlus (which I still think is the “yellow” plan- even if Brianna says it should be the glitter plan). That’s nearly 35% of my daily target vs 30%. Things like that can add up FAST.

One thing that confused me about when SmartPoints first came out was that, even 40+ pounds above my goal weight, I hit my minimum daily and weekly target. It just didn’t make sense. At the point where I hit my minimum of 30 dailies and 35 weeklies on SmartPoints, I was still at about 29 PointsPlus. Right now, I’m at about 26pp. Being at my minimum while I’m around 12 pounds from hitting a healthy weight range makes perfect sense. At 30+ pounds above? Not so much.

So, I’m stepping away from SmartPoints- at least for the time being. Tomorrow, I’m going to switch my tracker on iTrackBites to start tracking PointsPlus values on the Carb Concious plan. I’ll still be double tracking calories- just to keep myself in check and see what other tweaks I need to start making. Other than switching plans, nothing else will be changing. The foods I eat will probably be the same- with a few tweaks here and there. I still plan on following the Wendie Plan guidelines for PointsPlus.

I’m hoping that making a few small tweaks here and there with my diet, in addition to starting a mini fitness challenge for my Birthday (which I’ll announce at some point) in addition to finishing out Liift 4 will be enough to get the scale moving in the right direction.

Now, I will be adding one more food to my list of foods I will NOT be counting as points. Every morning, I add two scoops of unflavored collagen peptides to my water. On SmartPoints, that comes out to 0 points. On PointsPlus, however, that’s 2 points. I still plan on counting the calories for it, but since I’m taking the collagen as a supplement and not as food, I’m going to treat it like I do my vitamins or any medications and not count any points. If I find that I need to start cutting back on some things, I’ll look into counting it in the future, but for now, I’m going to see how not counting it works for me.

I’ve always struggled with “the grass is always greener” syndrome when it comes to diets. No matter how well a plan is working for me, I always look at others and go “I wonder if I should switch.” It’s taken me a long time to reach the point where I’m no longer wanting to make major changes every few weeks. I’ve been staying in my own lane. It’s been working for me, so why change?

Except, it’s clearly not working anymore, so I need to make a change.

I’m nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve been on PointsPlus. I’m used to having 30 points a day that I aim to divide evenly between 3 meals. I’m not used to dividing 26 points up; 26 points don’t even divide up evenly between the meals. I’ve never had anything below 30 points on PointsPlus, so that in itself is going to be a challenge- on top of relearning the points values for foods. I’m going to have to learn how to eat with these changes: figuring out how to divide my points and learning how to enjoy the fact that I don’t have to schedule my entire week around one dessert without using it as an excuse to eat like a jerk.

It’s going to take some time to figure things out, but the best way for me to figure that out is just to get started.

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Seasons and Grace

Summer has always been a struggle for me when it comes to losing weight. I don’t handle heat well and my dad is too cheap to air condition the house, so summer is generally a miserable time for me. Most of the time, my survival strategy is to stay out of my house as much as possible. I’ll sit at Starbucks for most of the day (not eating much of anything) and pick up fast food on my way home around 10pm (because, at that point, I’ve gone from having zero appetite to being starving).

Most years, I end up gaining weight during the summer because I’m generally sedentary or I eat like a total jerk. Last year, I managed to get through the summer only gaining a couple of pounds. That’s huge for me.

This year is going to be different. This is going to be the second year that I actually lose weight during the summer months. (I lost about 15 pounds during the summer of 2010- most of that time, I was living in Tucson).

So, I’m going to give myself some grace this summer. In a few weeks, I’ll be finished with LIIFT4. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do after the program is over. Realistically, I’m not going to physically be able to do a workout program that’s too intense. This is not the time for me to do super heavy lifting (as much as I’m aching to get heavier weights) or give C25K a try- especially since going to the gym isn’t likely to happen for a couple more months.

However, during these last three weeks of LIIFT4, I’ve realized that one of my biggest issues with my workouts (other than a lack of equipment) is a lack of flexibility. So, maybe in July, August, and even into September, I’m going to focus more on yoga-type workouts where I can work more on increasing my flexibility, balance, and strength. I’m sure there will also be some Leslie Sansone walks or outdoor walks during the cooler hours of the morning/night, but it’s also likely that many of my steps will be earned using my Cubii.

I may order out a bit more on hotter days when I don’t have the energy to cook, but I’m going to go for options like Panera salads and grain bowls over a large #10 combo with a frosty at Wendy’s. I’m also going to give myself a little more grace with my produce choices. Maybe I won’t be roasting vegetables every day. In fact, I might not even be eating vegetables with every meal. I may have the occasional meal where I decide to take advantage of the abundance of seasonal fruit. After all, I keep seeing Brianna and Meg post photos of yogurt bowls with fruit and granola that just look amazing and I think I want in on that. I’ll go back to eating less fruit in the fall and winter (which, seems right).

One of the biggest things I’m going to do to help me get through the summer is allow myself permission to make coconut water a zero point food. Now, to be perfectly honest, I think coconut water is gross. I don’t like the stuff. However, when it’s pushing 90° in my bedroom, sometimes, water alone isn’t enough. Since I dislike Gatorade as well, I’ve learned to just deal with coconut water on days when I’m feeling lightheaded due to the heat. I’m not likely to abuse a drink I dislike, so as long as I also stick to my goals of drinking a gallon of pure water a day among other 0 point beverages (unsweetened tea, seltzer) I see no issue with allowing myself to not count the points for any coconut water I need to drink.

It’s all about giving myself a little grace to make it through the summer. If that means eating more fruit, not doing as much intense cardio, and occasionally drinking coconut water without counting a single point for it, then that’s what it’ll take.

Because this will be the summer that I’m not afraid to wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.

This will be the summer that I set goals to improve my physical fitness in very specific and measurable ways.

This will be the summer that I break my food rules and learn to love food instead of fearing it.

This will be the summer where I enjoy my Birthday without using it as an excuse to eat like a jerk for a month or even a week. I will take the day off from tracking (possibly enjoying some Birthday freebies throughout the day), but stick to my Wendie Plan points the rest of the week. (I’m sure I’ll fit in a few freebies throughout the rest of the month as well- no need to pig out on everything in one day).

And maybe this will be the summer I lose weight and reach my goal.