Thursday, December 31, 2015

Is Whole30 for me?

I was chatting with friends in my Leap4Life Facebook group about changes we're hoping to make in 2016 to help us get/stay fit and healthy, and one friend mentioned that she's going to do Whole30 in January.  Not being familiar with it, I looked it up, and wow, what a program!  It's similar to a paleo diet, but even more strict and requires that you follow it religiously for a full 30 days, with NO cheating whatsoever, not even the tiniest little bit.

I've done the low-carb thing in the past and lost a lot of weight in a very short period with virtually no added activity, so I know this would work for me, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to tackle something with that many restrictions again.  Still, what I'm doing now (which is really nothing!) isn't working.  As a carb addict, I can't control myself and I have no one here to keep me accountable.  The dogs don't care if I sit and eat a whole package of cookies in one day.   I've increased my activity level considerably in the last few months, but it hasn't helped yet, and won't as long as I'm binging on junk in between walks.  I've got to kick the addiction, and the only way to do that is cold turkey.

Is this something I can stick with long-term?  I don't know, but the idea behind Whole30 is to severely limit the type of foods you eat for the full 30 days so that your body is starting with a clean slate, then you can reintroduce certain foods and see what you can tolerate.  It really does sound like a great plan and I think I've talked myself into trying it.  There are a few things I already know will be really difficult for me to give up (No cheese?  Yikes!), but if I just look at it for the short term, I think I can do it.  What's 30 days, right?

The other thing that I know I'll have trouble with isn't food related at all, but will still bug me - not being able to weigh myself until the 30 day period is over.  I always weigh myself first thing every morning and that will be a real change in my daily routine.  Still, if the program requires that I weigh myself the first day and not again until after 30 days, then I guess I'll just put the scale away.

If you want to see what it's all about, check out the Whole30 website. You can find the accompanying books that outline the plan as well as recipe books by following this link to Whole30 on amazon.

So I guess this blog post puts it on record, and I'm now accountable to all of you to at least try the Whole30 plan.  Wish me luck!

~ Marie Anne

Reflections - Where I was, where I am, where I'm going

Who's ready for the New Year?  Me!  It's New Year's Eve 2015, so time to reflect on where I was, where I am now, and where I'm determined to go.

I don't have any specific goals for 2016 other than to keep doing what I'm doing, and try to curb the junk food.  Looking back at where I was and what I've done, moving forward I'm going to try to focus on the things that have helped me the most.

Looking back

I joined SparkPeople a couple of years ago, and while it did help provide a modicum of motivation/accountability, it wasn't enough.  I got lots of trophies, but didn't find any real gratification in it.  I'm still a member, but don't mess with it much.  I think I've outgrown it, and that's not really a bad thing.

I got my Fitbit in September 2014 and it was great to be able to see how many steps I was getting and push harder to meet a daily goal.  I feel naked without my Fitbit and won't leave home without it (Who am I kidding?  I won't get out of bed without it!).  Regardless of what else I do, Fitbit will be a part of it.

In June 2015, I joined the 1,000 Mile Challenge and that pushed me even more.  Not only was I trying to meet my daily step goal with Fitbit, but now I had to keep putting one foot in front of the other in order to complete 1,000 miles in a year's time.  I was off to a great start in June and the first part of July, then life got in the way and I did almost nothing the remainder of July and August, and slightly more in September.  In October, I jumped back on board and have since done enough that I'm back on track for completing the 1,000 miles on time, and even slightly ahead of schedule. 

Since I've enjoyed this challenge, I've also signed up for the new 1,000 Mile Challenge that starts tomorrow, January 1, 2016.  I'm ready to get that first mile under my belt for the New Year!

While these other things have contributed nicely to keeping me motivated and moving, by far the best incentive for me has been Leap4Life.  I was tempted into joining L4L several months ago by the promise of earning money by walking and running, and while that's still a nice bonus, it's just that - a bonus.  You earn points on L4L by being active on the site, and by joining and completing events (goals) every day.  Leap4Life also has team events, and to me, that is key to keeping the motivation at a high level.  Having a workout partner is a great idea, but knowing that others on my team are counting on me to do my part is usually enough to have me lace up my shoes and get moving, no matter how badly I want to just be a slug on the couch.  Having one accountability partner is good, but four others on a team is even better!

Having said that, I found that the communication and interactive process on the Leap4Life site leaves a lot to be desired, so I created a Facebook group and my friends/teammates and I do our communicating there.  I started with one team of five members, and after word spread, created another, and another ... I just started our fourth team yesterday!  Some were Facebook friends years before L4L came about, and others are new friends I've found through the 1,000 Mile Challenge and Leap4Life.  Regardless of how we found each other, we've all become fast fitness friends, and have a lot of fun while we challenge each other to meet our goals.  And yes, there is the occasional bit of friendly competition, but it's ALL good!

Where I am

While all of these things have helped keep me putting one foot in front of the other and logging those miles, I haven't lost any weight, which puzzles me.  My level of activity has increased greatly, in some cases doubled, but it's not reflecting on the scale (and no, my clothes aren't fitting any differently either).  I know I'm still eating more junk than I should, but not more than I had been, so I don't know why the increased calorie burn isn't showing up somewhere.  I'm walking/jogging an average of 3-7 miles a day, with the occasional burst of 10-15 miles when I need to meet a particular goal.

There hasn't been any significant change in my A1C or cholesterol numbers either.  I'm still battling severe, chronic pain, but saw a rheumatologist this week and hopefully some of the tests he ordered will shed some light on the cause.    I'm remaining positive through it all, and not going to stop moving.  Surprisingly (or maybe not), the only time I'm not in pain is when walking.  Once I sit for 3-4 minutes, I hurt from head to toe when I get up, until I've moved around a bit and loosened up.  Once I push  through the pain for a few minutes, walking doesn't hurt and I can walk pretty much all day without issue - so walk I will!

Where I'm going

Moving forward, I'm going to continue what I'm doing, which is ... moving forward!  I would like to do more of my walking outdoors, but Ohio winters won't always make that possible  I've got the treadmill and now that I have the Kindle and can read while walking, I'm able to get a lot more steps in, but I'm also not getting the fresh air that's much healthier (and although probably a negligible amount, the treadmill DOES use electricity, and I'm trying to scrimp and save every penny).  Unless weather conditions absolutely prohibit it, I'm going to bundle up and try to get in at least a short walk up the road and back every day, and longer if time and weather allow.  I do a lot of walking outside in the warmer months, but not so much in winter, so would like to step that up a bit.  I will still use the treadmill, but figure any amount of steps I do outside is better than none.

I'm also going to make a concerted effort to curb the junk food.  I know cutting it out entirely isn't going to work for me, so I'm not even going there.  I do eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but also more than my share of snacks.  Since money is so tight right now, I'm going to use that to my advantage to help rein in my food budget.  I don't spend a lot on food for just myself, but balk at the price of fresh produce yet will turn around and pick up a bag of candy or cookies.  The plan is to put that back on the shelf and instead buy something that isn't processed.  If I can afford to buy junk, I can afford to buy the extra bunch of broccoli or mushrooms to add to my breakfast omelet.  Sounds good in theory, doesn't it?

What about you?

Do you have a specific plan for 2016 to achieve (or maintain) better health and fitness?  Are you going to continue what you've been doing, or try something new?

If you'd like information about anything I've mentioned here, leave me a comment, or connect with me on Facebook.  You can also find out more information about Leap4Life by looking at the labels at the very bottom of this post and click the one marked "L4L".

I'm going to close out 2015 in style and put on my hoodie, lace up my shoes, and head out the door now.  Won't you join me?

~ Marie Anne

Friday, December 11, 2015

How to Earn More and Cash Out With AchieveMint

I finally made it! It took a while, but earning points for cash is easy with AchieveMint.   You're already working out, so once you have your Fitbit or other fitness tracker synced with the site, you're all set.  Earning enough points to cash out with AchieveMint doesn't happen overnight, but it doesn't take any extra effort to do, so just let those points accumulate every day and get a nice surprise when you see you've reached enough to cash in for your $50 gift card.

In addition to getting points for the steps and miles you accumulate with your Fitbit (or whatever device you're using), you can also get more points every day by:

  • Linking your Twitter account (5 pts)
  • Tracking your food intake (30 pts x 3 meals)
  • Tracking your sleep (20 pts)
  • Weighing yourself (10 pts)

That's an extra 125 points every day, which is probably more than you'll get by walking or jogging, so you'll be racking up those points even if you don't work out!

I weigh myself every morning and record it on both the Fitbit site and Walgreens (Here's how you can earn with Walgreens too).

I enter my food intake on MyFitnessPal and have it linked to AchieveMint.  Since I have regular meals saved, it only takes seconds a day to do.  I'm not monitoring calories or anything, but I make sure to make at least three entries a day, which might just be breakfast, a snack, and a drink.  You can add every meal and snack, but you only get credit for three entries at 30 points each, so I'm not a stickler about entering every bite that I put into my mouth.

Once you link your Twitter account, AchieveMint will automatically send one tweet every day, so you don't have to do anything else to that.

I don't know about other fitness trackers, but just push the button to start sleep tracking on your Fitbit when you go to bed, then just push it again when you wake up.  It will automatically send that info to AchieveMint for 20 points every day.

It might take months to make enough to cash out, but it's pretty mindless and takes no extra time at all.  If you link the accounts as I have above, you're pretty much done other than the few seconds it takes to enter your food, but for 90 points to do that daily, I think it's worth it.

I'm averaging about 200 points a day, so if you do the things I mentioned above, it should take about 250 days to earn the 50,000 points to cash out for your $50 gift card.  That seems like a long time, but I treat it as found money and when it comes in, I'll treat myself to something for my efforts.

What will you treat yourself to?

~ Marie Anne

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