Active Jobs and Weight Loss Maintenance

I had a fairly productive day today!

Kris and I have been practicing getting up early because… I start a new job next week! I’ll need to be there at 8 am everyday, and while I’m used to getting up to take Kris to work by 8:30, I’m not quite used to getting up early enough to get both of us ready and out the door half an hour earlier! The good news is that the weather is warming up so we should both be able to bike to work, cutting down on the inconvenience that will arise from having 1 car and slightly different hours. Today getting up early was necessary, because Kris had a doctor’s appointment in another town at 8:30. No worries, just some boring (because they were normal) bloodwork results.

After we got home, I had to really motivate myself to go for my run (the rest of this post will get more into why I was so demotivated), but I went out and got in 4 miles before our “100% chance of rain” weather started around lunchtime. Then, after I got home, I set to work making a lunchbox for my bike that I adapted from this tutorial (I lined mine and put in insulation so that I can keep things cold with an icepack). I have panniers, but liked the idea of a bag I could attach somewhere else if I needed more room in the panniers or if it was a more casual day and all I needed to bring along was my purse and a lunch! While constructing it went very well (I made Kris one for Christmas so I was practiced at all of the quirks of the project), I did run into a couple of obstacles:

Misty trying to help. She also tried to climb into my sewing machine case! Oh, and that cute shoe fabric is the lining.

The bag is bigger than the triangle below my top tube 😦 I told Kris I’ll just have to buy a second bike so that I can use the lunchbox 😉

After all of that I even made a “nice” dinner of lentil curry for us. Now I’m sitting at Panera Bread relaxing. Warning: they somehow put twice as many calories into their baked goods as other businesses. The carrot cake muffin I had was almost worth it, though. The cinnamon crunch bagel (which I should have had instead) is more than worth it.


Now, on to the topic of this day’s post. When I started working as a server, I knew it would be a more active job and was glad that might help to burn off some of my winter fluffiness I’d packed on. I soon realized, though, that I was insatiably hungry all of the time and regularly going over my calorie limits – and still going to bed hungry! I felt very guilty about all of the breadsticks, mozzarella sticks, and wings I was devouring at work on top of all of my other food, and, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago when I set myself some short-term goals for the month, was guessing rather than losing weight I had probably gained it.

When I weighed myself at the beginning of March, though, I hadn’t gained a pound – I had to ask myself “why?”

When I began to think about it more seriously, I considered the fact that most calorie counters have an adjustment for how active your job is. I’ve always put in “sedentary” even though my jobs (teacher, retail) could probably be classified as closer to “lightly active” because I did not believe that I was burning the 200 extra calories that MyFitnessPal claimed per day at those jobs – I figured an extra active day was just an added bonus.

When I began working at the pizza place, I operated under the same assumption: perhaps I’d burn a few extra calories, but I’d just consider it an added bonus. When I realized that I was maintaining my weight pretty well despite my terrible diet, I looked to see what MFP thought I should be eating in my new occupation, which it classifies as “active” and was at first surprised to see it was 400 calories! But then I thought about it – I burn about 60 calories on a 20 minute (1 mile) walk. If I am walking for, say, 3 hours out of my shift, that would be over 500 calories burned – plus I am usually carrying heavy things around while doing it! I haven’t made it a habit to add 400 extra calories in a day, but I’ve felt WAY less guilty about munching on a breadstick if I am truly hungry since making that realization.

I would say that there are cons to having a more active job, though. If one’s active job is at a restaurant or retail store (well, one were food will be available), the temptation to eat food that is “bad” for you will be high once the insatiable hunger hits. Now, a breadstick isn’t inherently “bad,” but it isn’t very filling so if I eat that instead of a more filling snack, I am more likely to be hungry and eat even more calories later. I am also more likely to eat things that are calorie bombs, sending me well over my calorie limit even with the extra calories I burnt at my job, such as multiple slices of deep dish pizza (that I don’t even like! I’m just starving!).

If one doesn’t work at a restaurant, I’m guessing the opposite problem occurs – you are starving, but are too busy at work to get food, and are therefore under-fueled, irritable, and likely to grab fast food on the way home. I’m guessing in either scenario you are also more likely to want to come home and relax with a glass (or two) of wine/beer! I am guessing that you can connect many of the goals I have set myself for March with these particular problems that arise from working an active job at a restaurant, such as allowing fewer calories to be “empty” calories and trying to eliminate eating without purpose while at work.

My main approaches to combating this have been to bring healthy snacks along with me and to make sure that if I have a calorie bomb at work, I use it to replace my dinner (usually it turns out I’m not hungry after eating something like half a stromboli and 4 mozzarella sticks anyway).

Another problem I have found is that burning all of those calories at work is physically exhausting. Often, when I head out for a run, my legs are tired, stiff, and painful the whole time. The tiredness in my legs really slows me down – on days they are fresher, I am much much closer to my old paces; days like yesterday and today, I’m struggling to stay under 10 minutes per mile. My legs aren’t the only part of me that is sore, either – I’ve found that simple workouts with 3 lb weights as part of workout videos are more difficult now, even though I’m stronger, because my arms are always worn out! In general, I think that trying to work out 6 days per week AND work such an active job has really taken a toll on me – I don’t get any “real” rest days, so I always feel a bit run down. My run yesterday was miserable – my legs were in pain the whole time, and I felt sick to my stomach, which made it hard to motivate myself today. I felt a bit better today, but my legs still felt like crap, so I might give myself some “rest” tomorrow (I have an 8 hour shift) by skipping my 45 minute home workout I had planned to see if that helps at all.

Now, the fun part of all of this reflection will be that I’m moving to what is going to be, at least in comparison, a very sedentary job next week. Don’t worry, I have some plans for that I am working on to stay active and healthy 🙂

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Food Friday

I know I haven’t been posting much lately. Honestly, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything noteworthy enough to post about.

I run 4 times a week and do a workout video 2 times a week. Sometimes the weather is cold and unpleasant – the wind slowed me by over 1 minute per mile when running into it the other day; sometimes the weather is better – a 60 degree day is in the 5 day forecast! At least my new March goals have been going reasonably well. I’m not doing perfectly, especially at the 80/20 rule (Good “Fastnacht Day”), but I have been more mindful, especially about getting my workouts in and not eating without purpose at work. I’ve also been getting “back into shape” (not that I was really ever out of shape) and have been blasting out 5Ks in under 30 minutes (now let’s just get that back down to under 25 minutes…).

Short post for this Friday – I didn’t really cook too much this week. Mostly we chowed down on homemade veggie burgers and pizza (from various sources). I did want to do a Food Friday post to share my first experience making Thai style curry, though! I made this recipe, sans pineapple, and it was really simple and turned out great! Next time I might add some red pepper flakes and/or sriracha, though – I love spicy food but wasn’t sure how spicy the curry paste would be, so I wanted to try it plain, first. Of course it wasn’t spicy enough for me (I used to eat homemade horseradish for fun as a child…).

I’ve been making an Indian style lentil curry like, every week because it’s super easy and cheap (it’s onions, carrots, potatoes, and lentils….I’m not sure you could make something cheaper). Kris has always had this weird dislike of Indian food, though. I swear he is the only person who finds it “bland.” Maybe he has the equivalent of being tone-deaf to curry powder or something? He is very picky about which Indian restaurants we go to and so it comes as no surprise to me that my  Indian cooking talents (read: dump in copious amounts of curry powder) do not match those of the nicest India restaurants in town. I asked him for an honest opinion of the Indian lentil curry and he responded with “why can’t you try peanut curry like we get at the Thai place?” I’d be interested in trying that out anyway – any excuse to eat more peanut butter – so I gave it a shot.

The downside: it resembles Hamburger Helper while cooking. To be fair, I kind of love the cheeseburger macaroni kind…

In addition to being easy to make and quite yummy, I would like to add that the coconut-peanut curry was an incredibly healthy and filling vegetarian dish. I split mine into four servings which came to about 400 calories each, following the recipe exactly (with the exception of excluding pineapple, which just sounded weird with it). That means that with a whole serving of rice, this was a 650 calorie dinner, which is pretty reasonable. It also had several servings of veggies in it (a whole cup of broccoli in each serving!), which is good for me because although I LOVE veggies I basically just forget to eat enough of them. There are only 13g of protein in this version, but if you wanted to I am sure you could add in some tofu in place of some mushrooms or just use chicken if you aren’t vegetarian, and if you added that protein you could probably stretch this out to 6 servings to reduce calories. There is also a reduced-calorie recipe available on the website that I linked.

Sorry I haven’t been making more exciting food choices lately. There might be some changes in my life soon (hopefully good ones) so maybe they will change up my food routine a bit 🙂 I do plan on trying out a local grocery outlet tomorrow, so maybe I can at least write a bit about my cheap grocery finds…or my horror at everything being out of date.

Happy Friday! My parting gift to you is a picture of Belle trying to sleep in Misty’s bed and a picture of Misty sleeping on anything but her bed. Note: she has never used her bed.

There is a dog-sized bed in this room.

The pillow in the upper-right hand corner says “not tonight” on the other side. That was an embarrassing bridal shower gift to receive from one of Kris’s aunts!

 

Happy Belated Birthday!

I learned my lesson in regards to neglecting the blog…go away for a couple of days, and miss its first birthday, which was apparently February 25. Oops! To be fair, I did say in the first post that I am not very good at keeping up with blogs.

I thought in honor of the blog’s first birthday, I’d share some interesting and/or amusing stats with you as well as reflect a bit on how I have changed over the last year.


Some stats:

  • Total views: 12,134
  • Top day for views: June 18, 2013 with 2,217 views (linked from runsforcookies.com Motivational Monday post)
  • Top 5 countries for views: USA, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and the UK
  • Most viewed post: Race Report: Double Creek Half Marathon with 1,268 views

Some noteworthy searches that brought people here:

  • “homemade running fuel” is the top thing that brings people beyond the blog’s actual name, which I find interesting because I’ve only talked about possibly using it, not made my own or anything.
  • Runners up: “tempo run 2” and “I ran a half marathon now what.” The second one makes sense; the first one would make sense, but why the “2,” and why have more people searched for “tempo run 2” than “tempo run” and found this blog
  • Strangest searches that have led to this blog: “there were two girls want to shovel our driveway but i am hesitant to let them” and “sheetz belles cocker spaniel,”
  •  Favorite bad grammar search: “why arnt there no pigs at pa farm show 2014”

Looking back at my early posts to reflect was interesting. It seems like last year at this time I was struggling with some of the same things, like working out despite the weather. I was also doing better at certain things, like planning ahead for days where I might overeat during the week.

I would like to note that I have changed a lot in terms of fitness and maintenance in the last year. I think I weigh about 5 lbs more, but I am way stronger and have made other huge fitness accomplishments, like finishing 2 half marathons. I’ve also faced some major fears – last year I was scared to run my first 5K and I was terrified of treadmills. – but now I’ve run several races and I wish I had a treadmill or a gym membership so that I didn’t have to go out in the cold!


I’ll end with an update on Misty the cat: she went to the vet yesterday and received a clean bill of health! She traveled well in the car, but did not like it very much when either the vet or I touched her tummy and scratched us both. Hopefully I did not have the most embarrassing animal of the day yesterday!

Misty accepting her fate now that she is in the carrier.

Oh, and fun story about the carrier: I forgot to buy one when I was at Walmart (or they possibly didn’t have one?) so I was running around everywhere trying to find one. I couldn’t find one at any of the stores I went to, so I finally relented and went to PetSmartCo (not sure which one) like 10 minutes before they closed. I luckily found a pretty nice one on clearance…but then their computer system crashed. I felt super bad because I had to keep everyone like 10 minutes after close to buy the damn thing. Then, the second I offered to buy a temporary cardboard one and leave them cash for it (I only had like $9 on me) the system came back up! At least I got a lot of compliments on how nice her carrier was at the vet.

Send Misty good vibes! She is sore and lethargic from all of the vaccines and has been laying in this spot since like 6 pm last night 😦 Don’t worry TOO much, though, she has been becoming more active (read: has shifted on the blanket and eaten) this afternoon.

Bit of a short post today. I’ve been very busy this week! I was only supposed to work today and Tuesday, but I was called in to work for 2 hours on Wednesday and 7 on Thursday. Our weeks at work start on Tuesday, so my only day off this week is tomorrow, which should be quite busy as well – grocery shopping, 3 mile run, dropping Kris off to play Warhammer at some point, and then going to a reunion party with the awesome people that I interned with 4 years ago when I moved here. I have lots of good news, though:

  • Our Roku arrived! It cost more than an Xbox live subscription (we opted for the Roku 3 so that we could wire it in to the internet), but in the long run should keep us from having to pay that subscription again and again. We successfully watched 2 episodes of House of Cards on it. That show is just TOO intense.
  • Our cell phones arrived, too! Wow, now it sounds like we are big spenders. It just happened that both our cell phone contracts and our Xbox live expired in the same month. We have been planning these purchases for a long time and we will actually save quite a bit of money in the long run. Plus, these are used Nexus 4’s off Ebay, not like, brand new whatever phone is fancy now.
  • I got a hair cut! I always neglect this but I want to make sure I am looking nice and neat in case I ever get any more job interviews. Plus it always makes me feel nice 🙂
  • Belle and the cat, who shall be dubbed “Misty” unless the vet reveals that her fur was in fact thick enough to conceal her manliness, are doing much better together than we anticipated they would.  Kris let her in during the middle of the night last night and Belle did not fuss about her sleeping on the bed. I went out and bought all of the necessary cat stuffs today, so I guess she is ours now. Fun story: it took me 10 minutes to check out at Walmart because the lady did not want to use my coupon that applied to 20lbs or more of Tidy Cat cat litter for a 35 lb container of it. I apologized to the other people in my line.

Look how well we are all doing 🙂


Now, on to the food!

I didn’t make anything new this week, so I thought this might be a good time to do my Clif vs. Luna vs. Luna Protein vs. Larabar comparison. I touched on some of this in a previous post, but I’ll provide a fuller version here.

I have always been a pretty religious adherent to Clif bars, but mostly because I heard of them first, did not think they were gross when I tried them, and then only tried gross things like Quest bars.

I happened to try the Larabar Alt bars once when I had a coupon for them, and found that I enjoyed these quite a lot as well. I then basically bought combinations of my favorite flavors of those and Clif bars based on price.

I had been completely avoiding Luna bars because I felt that it was silly to have a protein/granola bar “for” women. When I was picking out bars at my local grocery store, though, I decided to give their “Luna Protein” line a try because they were much lower in calories than Clif bars with a similar amount of protein. I then noticed, though, that the regular Luna bars had a decent amount of protein, so I grabbed one as well, just to compare. My comparisons are based off of eating these different bars in the middle of long shifts (we don’t get breaks).

The verdict: I have now tried all of these kinds of bars, with the exception of the regular version of Larabars, and the only one I am not a fan of is the Luna Protein bar. First of all, it looks like this:

It bothers me that it is trying to look like a chocolate bar instead of something that is pretending to be healthier than a chocolate bar. Also, the appearance is misleading, it is nothing like a candy bar.

I also did not like the taste of the Luna Protein bars. I had chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough flavors and did not think either one resembled its namesake. Furthermore, the texture was off – I feel like these had a similar texture to Quest bars, which are extremely grainy. Perhaps I am the only person with these texture issues, but it was a huge turn off for me. Finally, I did not see much nutritional benefit to eating these fairly gross bars over the others – I think they only had 1-2 extra grams of protein. I know other things matter, but I primarily eat these bars as large snack/small meal substitutes when I lack access to normal meals for hours at a time, so I am looking for something that is filling rather than something that provides empty calories, which typically means something quite high in protein and/or fat. Despite the high protein, I actually did not feel very full from these at all, perhaps because I did not find them satisfying to eat.

The verdict: I will probably keep Clif and Larabar Alt in my rotation (especially the peanut butter cookie Larabars…I swear they are just mushed up coookies), but I will be giving Luna more of a chance. I found that some of the Luna flavors, like white chocolate macadamia nut, are actually tastier and more aesthetically pleasing than the Clif version, plus they seem to have more nutritional bang for the buck (less calories, core 4 vitamins, and about the same amount of protein). There are also some unique flavors! I’ve had lemon and peanut honey pretzel now, and there is a box of “nuts over chocolate” downstairs that I picked up on sale at Target to work my way through. My personal opinion is that it is silly for them to market them as a women’s bar, though – why not just make all Clif bars more like this? I will never understand!