Monday, October 26, 2009

My First Roadblock

Well, within my first week of Operation Cruise Control, I hit my first roadblock... a respiratory tract infection! I could tell I was fighting the on-set of something a couple weeks ago. And with the swine flu and all the other crazy things going around this time of year, I made sure to take my vitamins, drink lots of water, and wash my hands frequently.

But somehow or another my until-then-amazing immune system let something by! I woke up Monday morning unable to breathe, swallow, or get out of bed. I went to the doctor to find out I had a fever and some kind of bronchial infection. Needless to say, I was in bed for two days (while the weather was gorgeous, of course!) and not myself the rest of the week.

I am still not 100% back to normal, but I'm close :) Today was my first day "back to the gym" and I have to say that I'm proud of myself! Despite the freezing, ugly, rainy weather, I got up super early and went down to our apartment complex weight room for 30 minutes of cardio. It felt really nice to be up while everyone continued to sleep knowing that I was doing my body good. Let's hope the motivation doesn't wear off as the week goes on!

While I was sick, I encountered a pretty popular question... is it okay to work out when you're sick? I even had this discussion with some friends. After a little bit of research, I came up with a general rule that most "experts" seem to agree on. I call it the Neck Rule.

Here's the rule: if your symptoms are mostly from the neck up (headache, runny nose, sore throat, etc) then it should be okay to exercise (but make sure to take antibacterial wipes if going to a public place!). It may even be helpful! But if your symptoms are below the neck (aching muscles, vomiting, nausea, chest pain, etc), it's best not to exercise. You definitely shouldn't exercise if you have a fever. And as always, but especially if you're not feeling well, make sure you are hydrated!!! If you're still not sure what to do, I'd say ask your doctor.

Well, here's how I've done so far. That big dip at the beginning was me getting sick (not my favorite way to lose weight!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning – the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior

Positive Reinforcement – when a behavior (i.e., losing 5lb.) is followed by a favorable stimulus (i.e., a small reward) that increases the frequency of that behavior.

It has been proven that setting small intermediate goals for yourself (no matter what the ultimate goal may be) helps significantly in the success of meeting that goal. I have made the mistake of not doing this in the past, and it made the goal seem daunting and impossible to achieve. So I always gave up early.

This time, not only do I plan on setting small goals for myself, but I am going to use the operant conditioning principles of
B.F. Skinner to help achieve them. I have set concrete goals with definite timelines and specific rewards. I decided that I wanted each goal to stand alone, meaning that if I fail to meet the first one, I don’t have to work twice as hard to reach the second one. Otherwise, I may snowball my way into feeling overwhelmed again, defeating the purpose of these stepping stones completely! So here they are… make sure to hold me to them!

My intermediate goals and their corresponding rewards:

  • Between now and my birthday (November 7th), if I lose 5 lb, I am treating myself to 15 music downloads! I can put them on my mp3 player to work out with and make a new mixed cd too!

  • Between my birthday and Thanksgiving (November 26th), if I succeed in losing 5 lb (regardless of whether or not I met the first goal), I can splurge on a new outfit for the cruise!

  • If I lose 8 lb between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am allowed to buy some fun new makeup!

  • And finally, if I lose 4 lb between Christmas and our “Sail Date” (January 10th), I can reward myself with a pedicure on the ship!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Operation Cruise Control

Since I got married, started a desk job, and left the collegiate “active” lifestyle behind, I seem to have gained some unwanted pounds. I finally have a long period of time free from studying and a motivating reason to shed these unwanted pounds: a cruise! Granted, I’ve had plenty of reasons to lose the weight over the past year, but between the studying (a.k.a. the stress) and my semi-chronic headaches, I kept allowing myself to justify my complacency.

Of course, several times I tried to jump-start my motivation and get in shape, but every time failed. I found that the main reasons for the failures were (1) I had one big scary goal (with no stepping stones in between), (2) I had no one to keep me accountable or motivate me, and (3) I was WAY too strict about my eating habits. I mean, did I really think I would succeed by depriving myself completely of chocolate? Those of you that know me know that I can’t live long without it! So this time I plan to remedy those mistakes by (1) giving myself small, manageable goals to help get through to the big goal, (2) make sure people know that I’m doing this so-as to keep me accountable and provide encouragement, and (3) allow myself leeway when it comes to the diet, but make sure I am exercising adequately.

I am on a serious mission with some serious goals. I am calling this mission Operation Cruise Control. I hope to use this blog to record my progress and keep myself accountable. I have a spreadsheet (of course!) to help me see exactly how I’m doing. Hopefully these things will make this journey enjoyable :)

Here’s the summary:

22 – number of pounds to lose
88 – number of days until we set sail
12 – approx. number of weeks until we set sail
2 – approx. number of pounds to lose per week
4 – number of holidays between now and then
1 – number of people being held accountable to this challenge
1,000,000 – number of encouraging comments needed to achieve the goal

Welcome to Operation Cruise Control [OCC]… I hope you’ll join me on this journey!