Project Finish Line: Post-Thanksgiving Shame?

Week 8 of Operation Finish Line is ending in a post-Thanksgiving Day House Music BBQ hosted by my husband’s bromance buddy (also a house DJ like my guy). I know this sounds ominous considering I’m aiming for a Size 8 by next summer, and most people eat something like an average of 3500 calories on Thanksgiving alone, but I’m happy to show you these pics from Week 7 and Week 8 Weigh Ins: 

  

 

Say what!!!???

Okay, so it’s not the kind of progress I’m looking for, but it’s also not the massive backslide I expected – especially considering the only exercise I got this week was rolling pie dough, moving some Christmas decorations from the garage to the house, and dancing to yet more house music last night (while simultaneously guzzling down a double Vodka-soda). But how can you not dance when you have boots this fabulous???

Last Friday I ran a mile in 10 minutes, so this week the goal is to make it to the gym 4 times and run that same mile again while also getting back to my Carb Cycling routine.


Now how about that book, you might ask. 

Sadly, I have done literally nothing more than consider finishing it. A little battling with some depression and other life drama has left me feeling a bit cynical and uninspired. And a week-long visit from the in-laws left me without the time. BUT, as they say, if you want something you will find a way, and if you don’t you will find excuses. I want this

So the way must be found. Inspiration or no, time or not, drama or smooth sailing, I will finish. I will find the ending. I will print, and edit, and bind. And then I’ll put it on my shelf as a completed project and reminder of the fact that I CAN do anything I put my mind to. 

Perhaps I’ll even post bits here for some feedback and comment to get me to the Finish Line. 


Finally, Goal 3: Go To Europe. 

This one is proving to be a bit more problematic than I anticipated. 

I was loaned a book by a highly respected friend and colleague – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover – that’s proved to be a very sensible, intelligent, and comical read on the subject of getting out of debt. It’s also made me realize I’m nearly drowning in debt – credit cards, car payment, horrifying amounts of student loans, and of course a mortgage on my rental property and on the condo we actually live in – as are so many others in the country who are living the “American Dream.”

Thanks, Dave, I’m sufficiently freaked out and have a desire for change. A huge one. A massive one. A desire so consuming I’m at the point of coming to terms with giving up on something else I have a desire for – my trip to Europe. 

Is now the time? Do I get out of debt just to pile it back on again? Or take yet another year (or two…) to scrape my way out of the hole I’m in, then save the actual cash for my Eurotrip? And, oh BTW, I have 3 friends and a husband also in the mix on this trip. 

I’m agonizing over it not only because I really, really want to take this trip with some awesome people, but also because I want to live my life! I’ve spent my adult life worried about other people, being responsible, doing the honorable thing, trying to become a productive member of society and giving my life to what I thought was success – work. But I’m realizing, too, that my heart & soul are fed by experience and adventure. And I won’t find that living the same routine and never taking calculated risks. I need to see the world, I long to immerse myself in cultures outside of my own, learn languages, and eat foods, and see sights, and meet people who shock and entertain and challenge and expand my paradigm, my person. 

Mr. Ramsey would call that a rationalization. Perhaps it is. 

But what if it’s still true?

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Project Finish Line: Week 7 and Holy Moly Carb Cycling Works!

I’m happy to report that, despite a weekend in Dallas drinking and carousing with my best friend followed by a pretty off week, I weighed in Saturday morning at 155 lbs (down from last week!). I won’t be taking measurements again until January, but my pants are now lose enough that they’re hanging a bit lower and making me look slightly sloppy. But only slightly. Nowhere near a size 8 yet. 😉

No one ever said it was easy achieving the things you want, and tackling 3 major goals all in just under a year is no exception.

In addition to writing a book, going to Europe, and regaining the glory of a size 8 (yes, a size 8 for me is glory – I just don’t have a skinny girl frame, okay? Caution: Curves Ahead) I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey since my dad died in 2012, and over the last couple of months that journey’s gotten jacked up a notch. While necessary, I’ve found it’s also a bit mentally – and oddly physically – exhausting.

Compound that with an unpredictable, stressful, and highly change-prone job, and life is a bit…complicated…at the moment.

But that’s the thing – Life. Is. Complicated.

All we can do is try to know ourselves well enough to navigate the inevitably and often times constantly rough waters without drowning. No easy feat.

So what does this have to do with Operation Finish Line? Two things.

First, while I’ve been continuing to (mostly) eat the 5 small meals a day required by Chris Powell’s Carb Cycling nutrition plan, I’ve not been doing well with eating the right things. Happily, I’ve not gone totally off the deep end either. In fact, a weird thing is happening to me: I’m not that hungry, and I’m not murdering people as a result of not eating that much.

Example: Yesterday (a bad day by any carb cycler’s standard), I ate cereal with blueberries, a handful of almonds, some chicken nuggets, and about 5 bites of a chicken bowl from Chipotle, and possibly a Quest protein bar. (Side notes: Quest protein bars are my absolute favorite healthy snack on earth!) And I wasn’t hungry. I’m also not experiencing any cravings! Is this real life????

Second, I know a serious challenge is coming my way.

Thanksgiving.

Yes, my friends, the day when even the most devout gym-bunnies and dieteers are victim to obscene amounts of irresistibly tasty noms and nibbles. And my house is no different. In fact, as a teenager married and living near a military base, I learned early how to prepare a meal fit for kings – or in my case, a group of hungry single soldiers who needed a bit of home and family while they were far from their own.

And now? Now I’m The Queen of Thanksgiving.

Alton Brown’s Super Apple Pie? Done.

What? Like it's hard?

What? Like it’s hard?

Or perhaps you’re more a Bourbon Pecan Pie kind of person? Then eat your heart out.

I like to think I'm a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well...I'm a goddess.

I like to think I’m a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well…I’m a goddess.

But wait!! No! DO NOT EAT YOUR HEART OUT!

I’ve come too far too far to totally derail now. So the plan is to load up on the yummy turkey breast (in moderation of course), naturally sweeten the cranberries and go easy on them, take small portions of the other greatness, and then keep some veggies hanging around to fill in any holes that might remain. My other trick is to cook just enough for the guests I’ll have and then load them up with leftovers.

Et voila!

Staying on track.

What’s your plan to enjoy all the scrumptious selections without backsliding past the point of no return?

Project Finish Line: 6 Weeks Later…

I’m not entirely convinced it’s not The Dress that’s making me look like I’ve made progress, but my doctor’s office scale corroborates the story that I’ve been Carb Cycling and exercising…

 

Hello again, friends! 

Because I’m the incredible sand-bagger that I am, my last Project Finish Line blog post was written weeeeeks ago, and I just posted it last week. What can I say? I wanted to make sure I maintained the time and commitment to do what I set out to do and, in fact, keep you posted as I promised. 

If you’ll recall, I set out to 1. Finish my novel, 2. Go to Europe, and 3. Get to a size 8 within 11 (now only 8 1/2 months) with YOU as my source of accountability. 

So, in the words of my all-time favorite guilty pleasure show (Supernatural!!!) – here’s The Road So Far (someone cue Kansas’ Carry on Wayward Son)….

Let’s talk the journey to a Size 8 first. 

I’ve been working out with a trainer at my gym since at least May, but only very sporadically due to my crazy work schedule and a lot of travel. We did 12 sessions together, and while I only experienced a few unsustained loss of pounds, I learned so much and really started to enjoy the gym. I go as often as I can now, my goal being a minimum of 3 days a week – but let’s face it, that’s not always possible for me. BUT – I’m going and I LOVE it. Progress!!

Where I knew I was falling down was with my nutrition. My thyroid is supposedly fine, and for a while I was restricting myself to 1200-1500 calories a day of things like green smoothies, chicken breast, low fat cottage cheese, fruit, blah, blah, blah. The progress was soooooooo agonizingly slooow. And for a borderline poster child for ADHD and Aries personified, slow progress with so much work meant that I quit. 

Repeatedly. 

Something had to change. Something had to WORK!

Enter Extreme Weigh Loss and the over-the-top-motivated-ever-faithful Chris Powell and his unfairly gorgeous and sweet friend & wife, Heidi. I’ve watched the show off and on for years – I love a good Underdog Overcomes story of hope and perseverance. After watching an episode about a woman who stands at something like four feet who ran a full marathon in Hawaii and NEVER QUIT, I was inspired to pick up one of Chris’s books and start following him on FB and via his and Heidi’s blogs. 

I picked up Choose More, Lose More For Life – a very basic book about transformation through exercise and Chris’s Carb-Cycling nutrition plan. 

The verdict?

Holy sh*t it actually works. 

It’s easy, I dont’t feel hungry or deprived, I can still eat the stuff I enjoy (I’m doing the Turbo Cycle, so I do cheat days on the weekend), and frankly I’m totally NOT doing it perfectly and STILL getting results. 

7 pounds down since I started 4-ish weeks ago (prior to that I was just doign the calorie counting thing that helped me lose about 3 pounds over a 6-month period…). This inclues two weekends of travel out of state wherein I was NOT following the plan but being very careful – or perhaps intentional is the right word – about what I was eating. Even as I write, I am at the airport on my way to Dallas for the weekend, where I’m guaranteed to not eat or exercise according to plan. (Or at all in the case of exercise. I’m bad. Bad to the bone.)

 

Now how about that novel?

I have nothing to report. I have made some very half-hearted attempts to write, but it seems the mood is only striking me at times when I don’t have access/time to perform the actual act of writing. My iPad Mini keeps me plugged into my journal and the blogosphere, but not so much to my book. 

Any suggestions on how I can overcome this particcular hurtle???

 

As to Europe, well…


Two things are happening on that front. First, there is a plan in place to pay off my credit card debt by moving the balances to a zero-interest card, and begin making between $500-$700 payments each month. I’m going to give this plan an 80% success rate. Holidays, a need for new tires on my Suby, and a broken dishwasher have slowed the progress in the last month or two, but I’m still plugging away. Additionally, I’ve done probably the oddest – and tackiest – thing on earth and developed a gift registry for Christmas and upcoming birthdays/holidays to help w/ expenses. More to come on how my family responds…. 😉

 

So here we are, with 26-ish weeks to go and B average on deck. I’m not giving up. I’m NOT quitting. 

What will YOU do in the next 26 weeks?

Project Finish Line: The Genesis

Wearing 10 lbs of reclaimed clothing doesn’t help anyone look thinner….

Want to start hiking? Screw that 30-minute, 70-foot elevation trail – let’s do the 12 miler!

Dieting? Eff that – let’s do a 7-day juice cleanse!

Twitter? A hundred-character limit is for losers – I’m writing a novel!

You get the idea. I’m the archetypal Aries with a passion for life, boundless positive energy, and…I’m sorry, what was I saying? Oh right – and a short attention span. As much as I hate running (although I’m trying a bit of interval running at the moment…), I find I live life a bit more like a sprinter than a marathoner: quick bursts of impressive energy, and then…I’m stretched out and hitting the showers.

Now, in fairness to myself, I have an incredible work ethic when it comes to actual work – meaning something that ends with a paycheck. I’ve been with the same organization for nearly a decade, having worked my way up from the bottom (Drake, anybody? No? Okay, moving on…). Must be that need for immediate gratification from which I’ve suffered all my life and which has led to my rather impressive shoe (and necklace, earring, and general clothing) collection.

Based on the shoes alone it’s obvious that the marathoner doesn’t necessarily live the superior life.

But I’ve also experienced the rewards that come from commitment and follow through. Now, I’m disciplined, but only insofar as the pursuit of my choosing remains interesting, but as we already talked about I’m not so much for the long attention span.

This is where you come in.

I have three major goals for the next year that require so much planning, hard-work, and marathon-like commitment that I have come to the conclusion that I need to self-impose the kind of accountability and discipline that will…well…make me disciplined and accountable.

What are the goals, you ask? Oh, boy…here we go…

 

Goal 1: Finish my novel.

Yes, I’m a geek writing a novel. I mean, hello, I’m one of the self-indulgent millions who write a blog. Is it that far a jump to being part of the throng of “self-publishing” authors in the world?

It’s important to me to have done it at least once to see if I have a voice worth reading. Or perhaps just to see if I have a voice at all. Do I have anything to say? Moreover, do I have anything of value to say?

I hope to find out.

 

Goal 2: Size 8.

Yes, yes, I know…everyone wants to lose weight and look great, but it’s more than that for me. I want to prove that I can. I want to feel what it’s like to accomplish something that changes my life that way – to be healthier, stronger, to feel better, to feel confident again, and to learn how to take care of my body and maintain this incredible machine we’re all given into a ripe (and preferable diaperless and tooth-having) old age.

I want that feeling. I want that knowledge.

And I want to fit into these two incredible dresses in my closet. I technically still fit inside of them, but I look less like an hourglass wrapped in fablulousness than a pork loin stuffed in a sausage casing.

 

Goal 3: Go to Europe.

Again, I hear you: “Everyone wants to go to Europe.” And, yes, everyone does. But it’s the why that makes this so important to me. I’m not a stupid woman, but I’m also not a genius. I’m no doctor or lawyer or engineer. I’ll probably never be rich, and I wasn’t brought up in a very cultured environment. Hell, I just learned about six months ago that in a formal table setting the bread goes on the left and the drink goes on the right (as taught to me with hand symbol reminders by my awesome boss while at a business luncheon).

I know I am consciously incompetent to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I know I want to change that. I want to dive into new cultures, foreign languages, scary experiences, and great adventures in hopes that I will continue to push my boundaries, open my mind, and ultimately enrich my life and the lives of the people with whom I interact.

And thus commences Project Finish Line:

One woman.

Three life-changing goals.

Eleven months to the finish line, and…

One blog per week the reporting my progress, or lack thereof, to ensure public humiliation as the penance for failure, thereby cementing my commitment. (OMG that’s like 44 blogs. You poor people!!)

So take a deep breath…here we go…