On the road again

February is a killer month. I’m away three of the four weekends in this month, and I’m realizing just how hard it is to stick to my plan when I’m on the road. It’s becoming a lot easier to stay on track most of the time – I’ve gotten better at planning my grocery trips, meal planning and I are on good terms, and I’m not feeling as many cravings as I was back when this all began. But once I’m away from the convenience and comfort of my kitchen, things get …. tricky.

I’m in Hoboken Weds-Friday this week for work, then I’m heading to Brooklyn for a few nights with friends. I recognize that it’s going to be tough to stay totally on point, but I tried to plan ahead in a few key areas so that I don’t go totally off the rails.

File Feb 10, 8 24 38 PMFOOD. I looked like a crazy bag lady this morning on Acela. My suitcase was stuffed to the gills (work clothes, play clothes, gym clothes… I don’t travel light), I had my laptop bag, and the key addition: a new cooler tote. I spent some time yesterday prepping protein pancakes for every morning I’m away, and froze them overnight. I portioned out peanut butter to have with them, and I can get some scrambled egg whites at my office’s cafeteria to round out breakfast. I also portioned out green beans and sugar snap peas into 4oz baggies, so I would have something to munch on during the full-day meetings I’m attending this week. I brought a shaker bottle and protein powder (peanut butter marshmallow whey, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MY WHOLE LIFE?!), and I packed a salad and some grilled steak to eat on the train. Tonight I hit up the grocery store next to my hotel for a few more additions – nonfat yogurt, hard boiled eggs, organic roasted turkey breast – and a few emergency Quest bars. Basically? I’m doing everything I can to stay on track while I’m living out of a hotel this week.

File Feb 10, 8 25 15 PMWORKOUTS. I have been coming to Hoboken for meetings about once per quarter for three or four years now………. and until tonight I never stepped foot inside the hotel fitness center. I have worked out on these trips before – I took a Flywheel class taught by a friend on one visit, and when I still had Classpass, I tried a spin class at a studio about a mile from the hotel, but I never bothered checking out the hotel gym. As it turns out, THIS WAS DUMB. I stay at the Hoboken W whenever I’m in town, and it is a super nice hotel. I definitely should have expected an equally nice fitness center! Plenty of cardio options, a full set of dumbbells, a decent selection of weight machines, PLUS an area for yoga/foam rolling, AND a boxing set up (speed and heavy bag options). Throw in all the bonus bliss products in the locker rooms and the ridiculously flattering mirrors, and I was one happy chica… right up until I started the actual workouts. Leg day isn’t my friend at the moment (my knee is being bratty lately) but I powered through the workout plus some bonus cardio, and all in all felt great. After spending all morning on the Acela and all afternoon in meetings, it felt great to get my heart rate up and get my sweat on.

So I feel like I’ve set myself up pretty well for the time in Hoboken. Friday after work, I’m heading to Brooklyn to stay with friends, and that will be the bigger test. When I’m with my college friends,¬†it’s real tempting to open a bottle of wine or to crack a few beers while we catch up. I’m going to try my hardest to stay on plan and on track, but I also know that I don’t get to see these friends nearly as often as I would like, so I’m not going to let my meal plan completely rule our time together. I do get a cheat meal this weekend, so I just need to use it strategically!

It’s a lot harder to keep my goals in sight when I’m outside of my comfort zone. It’s easier to feel balanced and on track when I’m at home and can plan my days out. I know that this isn’t forever. My trainer pointed out that I’m still a long way from my goals, and I can either keep working toward them and make some sacrifices, or I can give in to temptation while recognizing that it may end up pushing me back from my finish line. I know that as I progress, I’ll be able to make more exceptions, but right now, I need to stay focused on recovering some of the good work that I let slip away over the past year.

It’s a process and I’m feeling my way through it, one day at a time.

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New directions.

Well. Been a while, huh?

When I last checked in, I was doing my first Advocate 24-day challenge. It went well, but I didn’t keep up the habits after it ended. Fall was rough – work continues to be brutal, I resigned from my role as president of a nonprofit board of directors (which was 100% the right move, but still a really hard decision to make, one surrounded by stress and self-doubt), and some personal challenges all combined to draw my focus away from my goals. And I ended 2015 in a really bad place, at least as far as my physical health was concerned. When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t see the girl who lost all the weight and dropped all those inches. Instead, I saw the girl who first stepped into Studio Poise three years earlier. It was like nothing had changed.

I know that wasn’t entirely true. I’m stronger than I was back in 2013, and my cardiovascular health and overall stamina are worlds better than when I first embarked on this journey. But the numbers on the scale? And the way my jeans fit? They told a different story.

I needed a wake up call. I needed someone to hold me accountable for my health choices. I needed to start 2016 with a plan. So I hired a trainer/nutritionist and committed to twelve weeks with her. Today marked the start of our fifth week together.

The verdict? This was exactly what I needed to get me to focus back in on my goals. The fitness side is great – I’m doing strength workouts 4 days a week (I pick things up and put them down! Leg day is a thing I do now!) and I supplement those¬†with classes at Studio Poise and Soulcycle to get in my cardio, yoga, and pilates cravings. I’m really enjoying the strength side. I’m learning more about the different equipment at my gym and I’m getting out of my comfort zone. I’m realizing the areas that I’m already pretty strong, and I’m learning the things I need to pay more attention to improving. I feel like I finally get it.

The nutrition, though… that ish is HARD. We added another Advocare challenge on top of our plan together, so I haven’t had a cheat meal in three weeks. And I’m actually doing okay! I also haven’t touched alcohol since this plan started. I’m trying to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day, with a protein source at every meal. Cut way back on carbs and fats, and trying to eat as clean as possible. I’m not saying it’s been easy – it definitely hasn’t – but I’ve found it valuable to hold myself to a strict meal plan. I’m finding ways to keep my meals diverse and exciting even within the plan rules, so I don’t really feel like I’m limiting myself. Have I had cravings? 100% yes, but I’m trying to work through them.

My biggest realization? I was doing a TON of stress eating, especially over the past six months. I spent most of my day at work reaching for snacks and not even realizing what I was putting into my mouth. I was also drinking a lot – not to say that I had a drinking problem, but I was reaching for a glass of wine every night to sip while continuing my workday from my couch instead of my cubicle. The nutrition element of this program is forcing me to actually confront the sources of stress instead of masking them behind snacks, and I think it’s helping me to create a better work/life balance.

It’s not easy. It’s not going to be easy. Some days I feel great; some days I feel tired or run down, or in really extreme cases, like I would cut a bitch for some pizza (that was just the one day, but man, that day sucked). I think it’s going to get harder as I get further into this, too – as the novelty wears off and I come to terms with the fact that all of this only works if I treat it as adopting a permanent new lifestyle, and not as something that I’m doing with a finish line in sight, and no real plan for after.

So I’m going to head back to this blog, but this time, I’m doing it for me. If you’ve stuck around since the last time I posted, welcome back, and you’re welcome to follow along. But I’m not going to be sharing this link all over social media, and I’m not going to be writing with the voice in my head nudging me to think about who might be reading this, or how I might grow this blog to a broader audience. I gotta get back to me and push myself toward my goals, and sometimes I need to be able to write just for the sake of writing.

Four weeks down. A lifetime to go.