Me Meal Prep?

Why yes, Karen, you finally learned.

I’ve been meal prepping my work lunches for almost a year now. I used to read all about it on sites I follow like Organize Yourself Skinny but never made an attempt. I don’t really like to cook and the idea of making several days worth of food in one sitting never interested me. When I started tackling my weight issue, I was working twelve-hour night shifts three times a week. It was on an understaffed and very busy hospital unit where real breaks were a rarity. Most of the time, it was you watching your monitors while you ate at the desk. I learned to bring lots of smaller items I could eat quickly. Then, last fall, I took a M-F 8-5 daytime job. I go to the gym before work, then shower and drive straight there, so I now eat breakfast and lunch at work. I’m up at an ungodly hour and that requires me to put my gym clothes in the bathroom, and even the water in my coffee mug the night before, so I don’t have the time or the functioning brain cells at that hour to think about what I’m going to have for lunch. It’s also an office where you can’t eat outside the breakroom, so I was going to have to think about real meals, not a lot of grab and go foods that I could eat every two to three hours like before.

I did my research and bought some meal prep containers. I like the two compartment ones, but there are many kinds to choose from.

I decided on chicken and a veggie, easy enough, even for me and chicken is something I can eat every day. So now my routine is to take the frozen chicken out of the freezer Friday nights, put it in the refrigerator. Then it goes into the slow cooker on Saturday night. On Sunday, I prep it into containers along with whatever veggies I can steam and add to the other compartment. I also hard boil a dozen eggs, peel and pack them into two egg portions. My breakfast consists of the eggs and the Elli Quark cheese that looks and tastes like Greek yogurt. I also add a Chobani Flip for a “dessert.” I’m a huge fan of Chocolate Haze Craze, which gives me some chocolate but also lots of protein. All of the above are easy enough to throw into my lunch bag while my Keurig is making my coffee. Multi-tasking is good.

I’ve embraced the meal prep idea. I watch the coworkers go out and bring back takeout every day, it’s not a good habit, for the body and the wallet. There are some temptations around the office and so far I’ve managed to avoid them – except for that one time the new pizza place was giving away free food on their opening day, and since I think pizza is it’s own food group, I had to try it. It’s good, but didn’t make me want to go back (fussy NYer here).

I’ve seen where people do all three meals, or for longer than five days and fill up the refrigerator. What I’m doing works for me and my current schedule.

It takes a bit of planning but meal prepping is a great way to save time, money and stress.


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Karen and 5Ks

It’s a complicated relationship. Definitely a love/hate one. I’ll register for them, then immediately go “WTF did I do that for?”

I think my issues started back in junior high school, the sadistic gym teachers had us do an 8 minute run. It was torture for me. Granted, it was only once a year, but since I still hold a grudge forty years later, so you can see I didn’t like it.

Being overweight, then obese, then morbidly obese, running was not really on my list of activities. When I lived in NYC, I’d run and walk around the Central Park Reservoir. I’d run a half-mile, then walk the rest. I did a rare mile, but seeing my life flash before my eyes, I didn’t make that a regular occurrence.

When I moved to North Carolina, I noticed how many people are outside walking and running every day. Walking became my go to exercise when I started this health journey.  I learned about the popular Couch to 5K program and downloaded the free app. It takes you through running with intervals and nine weeks later, you’re running 30 minutes straight! I was very skeptical, but it is a fantastic program and really works.

My subdivision holds a yearly 5K and I’ve done it the past few years, the most recent one being yesterday. It’s not a large race 100-300 runners, which is a great way to start when you’re new and intimidated by the whole idea. It was the first one I registered for. I’ve done larger ones with several thousand participants as well. That idea was scary at first, but also good because you don’t feel like you stand out since there are so many others around you.

My goals for 5Ks are to run the whole thing, not come in dead last and not need medical attention when I’m done. I checked all those boxes yesterday. In fact, I came in second in the female 50-59 year old category! My time was 30:50, not my fastest, not my slowest and I’m happy with it. I’ve managed a sub-30 minute 5K twice in the past, once on this course, but it’s been eluding me lately and I’m not focusing on it. I can physically run the race, but I spend a lot of time talking myself into not walking. Races tend to make me go faster than I should and I have to continually try to slow it to a pace I can manage for that amount of time. It was a problem for me yesterday through the whole course. The first time I looked at my pace, it was over 7 mph! Slow down, Karen! I did, but still there were times it was faster than it should have been. But I accomplished what I set out to do and all is good.

I always ask someone to take an “after” picture of me to prove I’m still standing.  And actually smiling.

My next race is in October and it’s a five mile run.  Again, “WTF did I do that for?” I did it two years ago, but started out too fast because I was running with two other people, couldn’t keep up, ended up walking a few times and being mad at myself. Currently working on a mental plan to run the whole danged course.


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Today I bench pressed the same amount of weight I lost

And that would be 105 pounds. It was a 1RM (one rep max) and it was heavy. I actually didn’t realize it was the same amount of weight I’d lost until I was posting a picture of it on Instagram this morning. I blame that on my lack of caffeine and the early pre-work hour.

I had a few minutes to think about it. Besides the “Yay me!” feeling from having benched a triple-digit number, I thought about how freakin’ heavy it was, and how I had to dig deep and give it all the power I had to push that weight back up. My trainer was ready to help, but I saw her hands and just concentrated on moving the barbell out of her reach. They call it a 1RM because it’s the maximum amount of weight a person can lift once. I definitely couldn’t have done two.

So, that’s the same amount of weight I hauled around with me for years. Yikes!! No wonder I had no energy. At least the bench press was quick. It made me remember how moving was a chore and how tiring it was. As a nurse, I walked a lot during the shifts but it was taxing, especially as I got older. Walking now feels good, I love to move, it doesn’t have to be doing things like a 5K or a Boot Camp class, just getting out and moving myself from point A to point B is enjoyable.  I certainly don’t mind some quality time on the couch, but I need and want to move.  It’s much more fun without the extra me. So, I will remember this lift, how I pushed 105 lbs. away from me. For the second time.

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My Body Has a Mind of It’s Own

And it’s sense of humor is more warped than mine.

Yes, I know we’re a package deal. No, I’m not suffering from dissociative identity disorder (multiple personalities). It’s just that my body, during this health journey, does it’s own thing. It didn’t read the directions, and it doesn’t always consult with me.

I’ve had multiple weight loss plateaus these past five years. I usually can peg the cause. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome so the weight loss part can be harder. I also stress ate my way through a lot of issues. I get those, and with the help of a very patient (and wonderful) dietitian, those stress pounds went away. My losing fifteen pounds since March is a lot for me, it was about three pounds a month, which is really decent at my current weight and after doing this for so long.

So, when I wrote the Day 2053 post in August, having hit the initial 145 lb. goal weight we set, I knew my body would go “yeah right, goal weight my a$$, watch this” and do it’s own thing. It did. It wasn’t a lot, it jumped up as high as 148.4 and stayed in the 146-147 lb. range for the past month. Not a big deal, I’m in the best mindset of my life right now, with my weight, health and happiness.

I did a lot of weights and strength training last week, so I’ve been sore for most of it. I know when there are sore muscles, there’s also extra water weight as your body tries to repair itself. That also makes it easier to get on the scale and know you didn’t gain two pounds of fat, you did a boatload of burpees and picked up a lot of heavy things. This past Thursday I was 146.4. I then went to a new Body Conditioning class, mostly weights. I expected to see the scale go up the next day, but hey – my body decided to be nice and give me 144.6. Okay, thank you. It was also the start of Hurricane Florence here in NC and being stuck at home can be dangerous as I’ve also eaten my way through boredom in the past.  I got in a walk before the rains started, and stuck to my logged foods. Woke up Saturday and another surprise 143.6! I think I snorted while I was on the scale. So, 2.8 lbs. in two days. I know I’ve done this before, nothing for eons, then suddenly a lot in a short time, usually followed by a gain. I didn’t expect it t happen again. Emailed my dietitian – she referred to it as “dumb blind fat burn” – she thinks it’s real. As usual, she’s right. Sunday I wasn’t expecting anything and 142.8! Now at 3.6 lbs. in three days. Is it my birthday? Why is this body of mine messing with me like this? Nothing’s changed as far as working out or my food intake. It’s nice, and I’m grateful, but it’s weird. Just weird.

I know it’s not going to continue and that’s okay. It shows me it can do this and my new 138 lb. goal is possible. The biggest concern is preserving as much lean muscle as possible, you do lose some with fat loss. My last Dexa scan showed I only lost about six ounces out of eight or nine pounds, which is less than usual. I’m doubting much muscle went bye-bye with this sudden drop, that it is what Britt called it – a “dumb blind fat burn.” The gym reopened Sunday and both my body and I went and picked up heavy things (I have a 5K this coming weekend, so some time was spent on the treadmill as well.)

Who knows where the next turn on this journey will be? I don’t know, but I’ll have to admit, it’s never dull.

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Things I Wish I Knew 103 Pounds Ago

I have always liked those stories of what someone would tell their younger self, knowing what they know now. One hundred and three pounds ago was only early 2013, but I was a completely different person then.

So, here’s my advice to 248 lb. Karen.

Dear Karen,

You’re about to embark on a journey that scares the hell out of you, but you need to know a few things before you take that first step.

First, while you think it’s a weight loss journey (and while you cringe at the whole “journey” phrase that’s all over the boards in My Fitness Pal, you’ll come to embrace it), you’ll eventually figure out it’s a health journey. It’s more about the numbers on the scale (or as you refer to it and still do today – ” that f%$^&*g scale”), it’s about all the changes you’ll make, the pounds you’ll lose, yes, but more importantly what you’ll gain.

I know “gain” is a four-letter word, but hear me out. As all that fat falls off, you’ll also lose self-doubt, insecurities, and while it’s a harsh term – but sadly it fits – self-loathing. But what you’ll gain is priceless, self-efficacy (look it up, you’ll learn about it later when you take that Health Coach class), confidence and the ability to say you like and love yourself.

It won’t be easy. Whoever said weight loss isn’t linear was right. Lots of ups and downs on that f%$^&*g scale will drive you crazy. Stop basing your worth on what that one number says. It’s one number! What’s more important is how you feel. You’ll be able to do so much, from simple things like touching your toes, to deadlifting more than your body weight (okay, not the 248, but 175 lbs. was pretty impressive), to running a couple of 5Ks each year. And you were “overweight” while doing those, so what does it matter what the scale says? Yes, this is also for current day Karen, as I do still give the scale more importance than it’s worth, but I’m trying and getting better at it.

After your read this, you’ll start logging today’s food on My Fitness Pal. This will be one of the key moves that leads to your success. Read all the forum threads you can, there’s a lot of great information on there and it’ll show you how to make this work because it can be done. And you will do it. The education of what, how and why is the reason this is going to work for you this time, you didn’t know enough before, but you will now.

You’re going to learn to cook. Stop laughing and put down the takeout menus. Nothing wrong with eating out but you can’t keep doing it every single day. Not good for your body or for your wallet. Start backing off now, you’ll thank me later.

You’re going to exercise. Again with the laughing?? I’m serious. You’ll start walking, first around the lake, then gradually longer distances. You will enjoy it so much and you’ll notice how you feel when you miss a few days. Appreciate it now, because when you catch up to me, your new job will only give you time to do it on the weekends. It’s still great therapy, even when those pesky geese threaten your life.

And it won’t be just walking. First you’ll use the gym at the clubhouse, including a trainer, then you’ll join the UNC Wellness Center and start doing classes. You are going to love TRX, it’s something you can do, even when you’re obese. You’ll go to several TRX classes a week and start to get what you call “baby biceps.” What you’ll also notice during this time is that you’ll choose the straps that face the mirror and you can actually look at yourself without feeling disgust. Yes, really. You’ll start noticing that whole confidence thing, you’ll make friends in these classes, you’ll try new ones, Kettle Bells, Muscle Conditioning, Boot Camp and more. And guess what, you’ll start going to the 5:45AM classes!  In fact, you’ll go at that hour Monday through Friday before work and find it gets your day off to a great start, (yes, you got a new job, you survived).

Do more strength training now. I made the mistake of focusing on cardio and the need to burn calories. Many plateaus later, I went to the dietitian and learned, that while I lost fat, I also lost muscle mass and that’s why things slowed down. You’ll decide to use a trainer to learn to lift heavy. You’ll feel intimidated by the idea of lifting weights in that part of the gym, but you’ll follow your trainer around and see how comfortable she is and over time, you’ll find you can go there by yourself, and feel like you belong. And realize no one else really cares or is staring at you. That’s a major step.

Probably the biggest hurdle for you is stress eating. You’re too good at it. Food has always been a source of comfort, food doesn’t let you down like people do, food is a reward for a bad shift at work, or when life in general isn’t going well. You need to stop this. I need to stop this. It’s still an issue, but with the help of our dietitian, it’s been less of an issue lately, you don’t want to disappoint her by backsliding when things aren’t going well. It’s still hard, but less hard for me, than for you. Just hang in there. You’ll get it.

We navigated this journey over some potholes and detours, but always found the way back. It’s worth it, it really is. You’ll do great, I’m doing great and we’ll handle whatever else comes along.

“She believed she could, so she did.”

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