My aqua aerobics must-haves

Here's a little secret -- twice a week I've been working out with people my mom's age and loving it. 

Maybe it's because I'm usually the youngest person in the pool, maybe it's because you can't get hot and sweaty in the pool, maybe it's because I get to wear all my new swimwear that I bought since I've lost more than 75 pounds. 

Or maybe because aqua aerobics classes are a damn good workout and it's super fun. 

Now that I have a Fitbit that I can safely wear in the pool, I noticed that each hourlong workout burns around 500 calories, which is not too shabby for feeling like you're playing with pool toys while Pitbull "dales!" in the background.

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If you want to take the plunge (HA!) and try pool workouts, I have learned there are some things that are essential.

Don't workout barefoot

Aqua aerobics has a lot of jumping, shuffling, hopping and jogging, so it's important that there's a bit of a supportive layer under your feet. It'll just make things more comfortable and more enjoyable -- and it'll keep you from getting athlete's foot from the soggy locker room floor. There are some top-notch real-deal aqua workout shoes out there but I wanted to see if I could economize and get a happy medium between those and those drugstore cheap-o aqua socks. (Do they only sell stuff like that in Florida drugstores?) I found these slip-on water shoes and they seem to be holding up well -- unlike the water shoes of one woman in class whose shoes basically disintegrated in the pool last week. She was picking up chunks of rubber from the pool bottom at the end of the class. They drain really well, dry quickly and are relatively cute.

 

Wear a supportive swimsuit

There's a lot of jumping going on in the pool, something that on land would be considered really high impact. You need to hold those girls down so finding the right swimsuit is important. I have learned that floaty layered tops don't work (the layers just hang out in your armpit area) and flirty skirted suits don't stay where they're supposed to and you spend half the time yanking the skirted part down.

Tankinis are great as are sporty one-pieces. I got a cute purple paisley tankini at Swimsuits for All, but alas, I can't find it there anymore. I also got a sporty Reebok suit at Nordstrom Rack that's made for working out in. It's not there anymore either but here it is at Amazon.

Get a wet bag for that drippy swimsuit

Here's my tip for doing a "prewash" on your chlorine-saturated swimsuit -- take a shower at the gym in your swimsuit to wash off a majority of the pool water. Then instead of wrapping up your wet suit in your wet towel, creating a wet mess in your gym bag, get yourself a "wet bag" that'll tote your suit home and keep everything else dry. I got a set of two cute Alva Baby wet bags on Amazon, and what's great about them is that they have two compartments, because I found that one of my new swim tops bled a little on my board short bottoms. This way you can keep 'em separated.

Protect your hair

The first week, before I had my aqua goodies, my hair resembled shredded wheat, so I desperately googled how to protect your hair from chlorine because my mop isn't going to fit in a swim cap without looking ridiculous. The key here is to make sure your hair is already saturated with something good so your hair doesn't suck up the chlorinated water. Fresh water, hair conditioner, even coconut oil (greasy!) is supposed to work, but I found AquaGuard Pre-Swim Hair Defense, and it got enough good reviews that I decided to give it a try. First off, it smells fantastic and has a really nice texture. I put my hair in a ponytail, then squirt out a big handful of AquaGuard and coat the outside of my hair and all the ponytail area. It has made a huge difference in my hair's condition, and it also rinses out easily (unlike the coconut oil, I'm guessing).

Soak your suit

I bought a swimwear cleaner that's supposed to get the chlorine stink out, but so far it's not working as well as Woolite Delicate Care liquid and a splash of vinegar, so that's what I'm going to stick with. Just make sure to soak the suit for around 20 minutes, then rinse it well and hang it to dry without wringing it out, because that's bad for the fabric.

My gym has its own pool noodles and aqua dumbbells, so thankfully I didn't need to buy those or shlep them to the gym. But I did learn that even though the dumbbells are basically made from foam roller material it makes a difference what size you use. The bigger the dumbbell the more water resistance, so go big for a lot of "weight." But go thinner on the pool noodles because you want to be able to sink that noodle down under your foot to provide lower-body resistance, and unless you're King Kong, you're not going to be able to keep a full-size noodle under your foot.

(I learned that the hard and hilarious way on the first day!)

 


Words of Wisdom Wednesday: On Eating Well

I've been trying to add in more fruit and vegetables lately, but when your diet is "all protein all the time" it can be hard to make room for things that aren't protein. So my plan is to cram in as much protein as I can at meal time and save snacks and evenings for the produce bins. Tonight, for example, I had a salad and some peach slices. I bought some big-ass peaches that are probably bigger than my stomach and I can't finish them in one sitting, which is NOT what the situation would have been before gastric bypass. But it feels good to make room for fresh stuff.

Eating well is a form of self respect


It doesn't work that way anymore

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I don't know why I think I'll be back over 200 pounds when I get on the scale every week because it doesn't work that way anymore.  

I don't know why I think my jeans won't fit when I put them on, even though they fit a couple weeks ago. 

I don't know why I thought all those extra-large tankini tops would fit me when I brought them in the dressing room when I just got rid of a bunch of swimsuits in that size.

It doesn't work that way anymore.

But my brain still works that way, and it's going to take time to remold it to my new normal. That's the cool thing about brains -- you can rewire them but it takes time.

It's not really body dysmorphia because I DO see the changes when I look in the mirror. It's more like my brain having to play catch-up with my body. When I'm folding laundry I'll hold up a pair of my jeans and think "How do these possibly fit me???"

But they do. 

:) 

 


Taking Cheerios Oat Crunch out for a test spin in the toddler bowl

This post has been sponsored by SheSpeaks, Inc., General Mills and Cheerios. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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We're a 4-box family, as in I buy four boxes of cereal every week. Yes, there is only three of us, but cereal is a frequent breakfast, snack and dessert food.

There's always some variety of Cheerios in the pantry, so I jumped at the chance to try the new Cheerios Oat Crunch cereal, which I purchased at my local Walmart Neighborhood Market. It has all the grocery bargains of a regular Walmart in a more streamlined place to shop just for food.

The nice thing about the cereal is that it comes in family-size boxes, since we're such a bunch of cereal hounds. And yes, even I, of the tiny stomach, can pour out a toddler bowl of Cheerios Oat Crunch for a nighttime snack. I'm at the stage in my eating where I can add in more whole grains. 

Cheerios Oat Crunch is made with Multi Grain Cheerios and topped with whole-grain oats and real cinnamon. Here's a closeup shot so you can see all the tasty bits.

Cheerios texture

That is some big-time hearty fun in a bowl there. The "multi" in the Multi Grain Cheerios is oats, corn, rice, millet, and sorghum. 

The husband likes to end his day with a bowl of it mixed with yogurt and frozen berries. The kid will eat it with milk for breakfast and a late-night snack, and I have my toddler bowl.

Cheerios toddler bowl

Mom tip: Don't get rid of your toddler plates and bowls, even if your kid is in college. They're great for portion control!

 

 


Three cheers for getting the heck out of the 200s!

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I was waiting until this morning to step on the scale because I thought "Why not have the entire nation shoot off fireworks for this?"

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And that was after eating restaurant food last night! Granted, all I had was half an appetizer eggroll, one nacho and the insides of a blackened shrimp taco, but still.

 

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So now we come to the part of the show where Gail tries to figure out her "goal weight" because for YEARS I used to just say "Oh, I'd be happy just to get below 200!" 

Which I am now.

We all know BMI is a joke, especially if you have a large frame and a lot of muscle, which I thankfully do, so I'm not going to base my target weight on that random number. The scale at the hospital spits out a target weight every time I step on it, and it takes a lot of parameters into account, like age, height, body fat, muscle, bone, water, etc. The last time I stepped on, I got a "predicted weight" of 169.4 pounds, so I'll go with that for now. 

And since it's the Fourth of July, we shall celebrate with a vegan hotdog and my favorite Sousa march!

 


Burnin' my butter

Hey! Quickly popping in with a tale o' the tape -- more precisely a printout from the hospital dietitian's fancy Tanita scale today.

I meet with the dietitian every couple months to go over my eating, make any adjustments to my plan, and step on the high-tech scale. I have a pretty high-tech home scale in my Withings/Nokia/Withings Again Body Cardio scale, but this one is hospital grade, so I tend to trust it a bit more. 

I've been kicking butt in fat loss -- my April reading showed that out of the 17 total pounds I lost from February to April, 11.4 pounds was pure fat, 1 pound was total body water, and only 1 pound was fat-free mass. I know that doesn't completely add up, but I'm going by what the printout says. Apparently the more fat you lose, the more accurate the scale readings get.

Today's reading -- from April 10 to June 13 -- showed that out of the 17.8 total pounds I lost, 17 pounds was fat with just under a pound of fat-free mass lost.

All this to say ...

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 I am burnin' the butter, which is a phrase Denise Austin used to say in her exercise videos. I used to cringe when she said it, but now that I am burning actual human butter, I'm kinda digging it.

I have been exercising more (but am totally behind on it this week), but I'm not going nuts or anything. I make sure my meals are protein-forward, but not every meal is stellar.

I mention this because THIS is exactly why I had weight-loss surgery. The times when I could pound off a few pounds I was making myself absolutely NUTS, doing workouts I hated, obsessively and neurotically tracking my food and watching the scale slowly creep down, bounce back up or flatline. Now I can exercise and eat without making myself crazy, and the scale moves down. 

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My waistline is moving down, too. That's the only measurement I'm taking. At the beginning of the year my waist was around 42 inches. Today it was right around 35, a number that I've kept in my head ever since Dr. Oz used 35 inches as a marker for increased chronic diseases. So you can say I passed a big milestone this week.

Other notes from today

  • She's really happy with my weight loss, even though I intentionally slowed it in May to try out new foods and calorie levels. According to her scale I'm at 203.8, which is tantalizingly close to Onederland.
  • She wants me to increase my daily protein from 60 grams a day to 80 grams, so I'll be throwing protein powder in everything and chugging protein shakes until I can tolerate more solid proteins (STILL having an issue with chicken!).
  • She'd like me to keep my total calories to around 900 a day. I wasn't really sure how much to increase it from the initial 600-ish but I knew I had to once I started exercising. 
  • And I really need to do better with water. According to my Tanita printout, I'm on the low end of the hydration scale, so I'm breaking out the big Hydro Flask again and making sure I drink two of those a day. When you can't eat and drink at the same time it can get frustrating to get both your water and your protein in when your stomach is the size of an egg.