Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year, New Me!

I weighed in yesterday. Since November 13, I've lost 22 pounds and 9%. How about that? I am officially more than 25% of the way to my goal. I am going to see if I can find my old Weight Watcher cards to see how long it's been since I've been at this weight.

It was hard for me to choose the medically supervised program, even though my doctor felt it was my last sensible option. It felt like "giving up" -- and that is not something I do! And yet I saw that my doctor had reached the end of what he could do for me and he was sure that I would lose on these very low calories and he was right!

Since being in the group, I've had some realizations. As I've said before, despite being obese, my health was good. I like to say I was "perfect on the inside." However, I also know that obesity in me is a ticking time bomb -- sooner or later it would start to have serious consequences and some of them would perhaps be irreversible. In our group, nearly everyone has some serious health issues. I am grateful to have escaped them so far and grateful to have made this decision when I did. And I am even healthier now! My cholesterol is dropping and my knees hurt less. I have tons of energy. I am sleeping great.

Best of all, I'm done struggling. I am simply succeeding. And I do not regret one iota the difficulties of the last 5 years of working at weight loss. I have learned tons and I feel sure that all that information can someday help someone else. Thanks for caring about me -- the support means a lot.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Strong Start Day

Today is my "Strong Start Today." Today I begin the medically supervised weight loss program. I'm actually still quite surprised to find myself here. This is not where I thought my "looking at all the options" would land me! And I am very grateful for the way in which More to Life has trained me to be a more open-minded person. And very, VERY grateful to Margaret for going with me to the intro -- it made all the difference.

So here's the skinny (tee hee). I have committed to attend 13 weeks of classes with 2 or fewer absences. I have a minimum prescription of 5 shakes per day. In addition, I can supplement with their brand of "bars," their entrees, their hot cereal and chicken broth. I am not supposed to be hungry. Ever. If I am hungry, I am going to have another shake or an entree or something. It's called a "decision free" diet. Somehow, even though it's similar in calories to what I have been eating, it is promised to work. The benefit to following the program "to the letter" is that people who do so, lose almost twice as much weight in 19 weeks as people who "eat off program" in the early weeks. I am not concerned about my ability to eat only these things.

I'm committing to a few other things as well; to exercise at least 2000 calories per week; to log everything that goes into my mouth, and to make a mid-week phone call to my instructor. In addition, I am making a personal commitment to continue to provide appetizing and healthy food to the girls and for us to have our family evening meal.

Did I mention that Paul is on the plan with me? This was a surprising and touching development. When I went over the plan fundamentals with him, he said, "I think I will do it with you." He's such a great partner!

This is a significant financial commitment. I'm still adjusting to that. However, I have poured out a pretty big pile of cash the last three years doing it on my own. So it is what it is and maybe I will need a job! We'll see.

In other news, I enjoyed our family cruise on the beautiful Emerald Princess and managed to eat moderately. I neither gained nor lost weight so that is pretty great. Of course, we got tons of exercise, but most of the credit is due to me deciding not to have an entire week of "last suppers." I am really proud of myself for that.

Writing this, it sounds a little flat. I notice I am on my back about not being able to succeed on my own. I think the "crafty little sucker" has a hold of my brain. So just for you, dear reader, I will make one final commitment just for today. I promise to "root that sucker out," as my friend Sue says, so I can enjoy "strong start day!"


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Visit to the Doctor

I saw my internist yesterday. There were a few surprises in the visit.

The first is that my average weight loss over the last several months is 1/2 pound a week. That's a pretty slow rate of loss. My thyroid level will be rechecked next week, but there is no reason to think it is not being well controlled by medication.

I am eating 1000-1200 calories a day; most days closer to 1,000. I'm exercising 6 hours a week. Dr. Fung thinks it would not be safe to eat less than 1000 calories a day, given my activity level. He does not think the issue is my thyroid. He thinks it is genetic history (all the women on my dad's side are very, very obese) and he said there is much that is not known about how genetics affect metabolism. It is clear that there is a link but much that is not known.

He said basically, I have two choices (in the "reasonable" arena, anyway).
1) Keep doing what I'm doing and realize it is going to take a long time. We are talking about 25 pound a year loss, IF I am really diligent about staying in this range. I wondered about increasing my exercise but as you know, that won't help a LOT because it is hard to burn calories with exercise. However, increased muscle does increase metabolism so it seems like at some point, my metabolism would heat up.

2) Go on a medically supervised diet where you are on all liquids for 6 weeks and then add in other foods they provide. It is an 800 cal/day diet but it is medically supervised so your blood is checked for ketones and things like that on a regular basis. I am going to go to the intro meeting just to make sure I have all the facts. As I understand it, you are not allowed to eat anything except the pre-pared food, so no fresh food at all. There is also a concern about how many foods they have to offer that do not contain onion or onion powder so I will research that at the meeting as well. There is a cost, obviously, which I think is about $200/ month.

Neither of these options make me do cart-wheeels. I think I need to make sure I have all the facts on the medically supervised program before deciding.

I am not still upset about this stuff. In some ways, it is confirming of my experience. It is helpful to have been tracking my calories and weighing and measuring so there is no doubt in my mind about my calorie intake. I did not expect there to be an easy answer. Right after my conversation with him I had some "not fair" thinkin which was hooked to my core belief that "Life is not fair." I know that is not true and have "unrooted" that belief and am now ready to make some decisions about how to proceed.

Since Dr. Fung is my third doctor in the last three years to work with me on my weight, I have concluded that medical science has done what it can, aside from option 2 above. I think what he said is accurate -- it "rings" of the truth. I am not willing to undergo surgery and weight loss drugs would not really help since I don't have an appetite issue ( I have not been hungry at all). I'm pretty anti-drug anyway.

That's what I know today. I hope to attend the "option 2" meeting in the next week and then think about how I want to proceed.

Data: Down another 2 pounds this week. Being sick probably had an impact so working to hold onto it and add to it this week!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I read lots of blogs by people who have always been chubby. And I often think genetics may have a big role to play in their struggles. However, that is not my story.

As a child I was stick thin. And as a teenager, the boys called me "toothpick" and told me not to turn sideways because they couldn't see me. I had few boyfriends. Older men liked me , unfortunately; I think it was the "Lolita" factor. As a young adult, I remained very trim, and people often commented on my self-control or said I ate like a bird. I had no self control and I did not eat like a bird. So to what do I attribute my thinness? Metabolism. I was a runner but I exercise twice as much now.

I had terrible eating habits. I had ice cream every day. A big portion too. My favorite breakfast was Frosted Flakes. I hated salad. My only real vegetable was tomatoes. I loved creamy soups, gravy, sauces, and starches of all kinds. Because I was "naturally" skinny, I could get away with it. Twice as a young adult I gained a little weight, both times it literally melted off me with the tiniest bit of intention and effort. I was a Weight Watchers poster child; I could dump 15 pounds in 6 weeks with a little point counting and exercise.

Then things changed. I began gaining weight and continued gaining a few pounds a year for about 10 years until I was 90 pounds overweight. And guess what -- I had no idea what to do about it. So over the last 4 years, I have become self-educated in the areas of nutrition, exercise and metabolism. I haven't gained any weight in about 3 years, and I have lost a little. It has at times been extremely frustrating. But I wouldn't change a minute of it. Because now I really know what it takes to make me tick. I know a lot about all the food groups, I can argue the merits and demerits of the food pyramid, I know how to calculate my bmr and what that has to do with weight. I understand metabolic changes that affect weight and know a lot about exercise, as well. I know about my blood chemistry and could write a book on the health risks of obesity.

Perhaps most importantly, I've learned what it means to stand in for myself; to keep advocating for myself; to trust that I will keep losing the weight little by little and to be constantly reminded that I do, in fact, matter. I recently realized my best friend has never known me thin -- and she loves me! Every time I have to say no to something "special" being offered at a celebration, I get to see that I matter. Every time I put on my shoes and hit the streets when I have a stack of laundry or work to do, I get it. I matter. I actually do. So I may still be fat, but inside, I'm singing. And I trust that this recent shift on the inside is going to be showing up on the outside one day soon.

Current Weight: 232.2
Weight Last Weigh In: 232.2
Weight loss since last week: 2/10ths of a pound
(yes, this is excrutiatingly slow!)

Eating Goals 4
Exercise 4
Motivation 5

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Family 5K

I admit it. We're not race people. But today, with a little grumbling, I packed up the family (at 6:30 a.m!) and headed out for the CASA of Travis County 5K. I originally signed us up because it's such a great cause. But in the end, it was a great idea all around.

We joined up with a couple of friends from Marywood, our foster care agency. Our oldest daughter, Allison (13), ran the 5K with her dad while I walked near the end of the pack with another mom. Our 11-year-old, Chanelle, ran the kids 1 K. Since it was held after our race, we had the fun of cheering her on. When she crossed the finish line, she was all smiles. And she was even happier when she got interviewed for the local news!

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
is an amazing group that makes life so much better for kids who are truly need it. So we were happy to support the cause. But the sense of solidarity and accomplishment we got as a family were priceless. Call me crazy, but I see more races in the future!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Surprises, set-backs, and Life!

Have you ever noticed that no matter how carefully you script and plan your life, someone ELSE seems to be in charge? Hmm. I will make the long story short;

Plan: Go to England, exercise a lot, eat little, come home, jump in with both feet.

Reality: Go to Idaho (mom sick), fix comfort food for her, eat moderately, exercise moderately, come home to REAL life (kids in school, sickness, household repairs, job issues).

Yes, it's been challenging. And yet I've managed to keep my calories at or under 1200 since returning home. But only this week have I gotten back to full-blown exercise. My cupboard is stocked, I'm not hungry and it's all going well. Cross your fingers!

Current Weight: 232.4
Weight Last Weigh In: 232.8
Weight loss since last week: 4/10ths of a pound

Eating Goals 5
Exercise 5
Motivation 5

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I'm mad at myself, but no longer pouting. And to be fair to myself, unhappy as I was, I didn't EAT anything while I was mad. I gained BACK the pound I lost last week. Yep. Here are the stats:
Current Weight: 232.8
Weight Last Week: 231.8
Since last week: 1 pound gained

Eating 3
Exercise 5
Motivation 4

Total weight loss this RIVAS: 0 pounds

On Thursday and Friday last week, I did not keep to my eating goals. Both days I ate 300 extra calories, amounting to 1500 each day. On Friday, I got some insight from my support partner and course corrected. And then there was last night. I met a friend to exchange her child and we wound up eating at a chain restaurant. I was not planning to eat with her but it was well past dinnertime. I ordered a cheeseburger. No kidding. The night before my weigh in. It must have been full of salt too because my fingers, toes, ankles - all swollen up today. I'm sorry now. It was a painful lesson. I will take a look at the lifeshock in that moment of decision.

I am acknowledging myself for exercise, however. Last week I managed to get in 3.42 hours but I logged 5.5 this week! I have some sore muscles and sore knees but not as bad as I was worried it would be.

I am headed to England for a course on Monday. What this means is that I will not be able to report in as I don't expect to have computer access until I return at the end of the month. In the past while at these courses I have managed to get in three extra hours of exercise while away (not counting shopping or sight-seeing). I will be gone for ten days so I am going for 5 extra hours of intentional exercise in addition to group exercise, sight seeing, etc. I will of course also watch my calories and stay in my limit; busy and away from home this is usually not a difficulty for me. As long as I avoid tea houses! I'll carry vegetables and fruit onto the plane, as well.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Perspiration Inspiration

Okay, I admit it. I am having a heck of a time getting motivated to exercise. There are two things going on: the first is minor, I'm recovering from a cold. Today I feel fine, but for several days, I haven't. If I can get to the point of exercising even when I don't feel well, that will be a big break through.

Second, and this is the real issue, I just don't want to. It's in my head. Here are the "reasons" my mind makes up: It hurts, it takes too long, it takes even longer because I then have to take a shower.

It does often hurt. Chronic knee issues means most forms of exercise (all I've found, actually) hurt both during and afterward. I'm not exaggerating or being dramatic and it is very liberating to tell the truth about this. However, what I do also know -- and have had medically verified -- is that though it hurts, it isn't actually making my knees any worse. It's not damaging them, it just hurts. So it's a matter of being willing to hurt. This whole issue with my knees has presented a double-bind for some time; it hurts to exercise so I don't exercise but I need to exercise to effectively lose weight; I'm overweight and being overweight hurts my knees. You can see the conundrum.

I can overcome the other "reasons" not to exercise. It's the first one that trips me up. All of that said, to be fair, I do exercise, just not as much as I want to. I'm averaging 3 to 4 hours a week right now -- I want to at least double that. I read a great blog about exercise this week. The author points out that the real difference between skilled athletes and himself is that they don't cancel their practice to pay bills or catch a tv show. It's their job so it's their priority. I've said several times that my big job right now is getting this weight off. Time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

Here's my commitment. No more excuses. I am calendaring my exercise and I am doing it, every day. And I give myself permission to whine a bit about the pain for the first couple of weeks. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Weekly Check In

Without further ado, here is my weekly check-in:

Current Weight: 231.8
Weight Last Week: 232.8
Weight loss since last week: 1 pound to the penny

On a scale of 1 to 5 with "5" being perfect, here's how I rate my week:

Eating 4
Exercise 4
Motivation 4

I struggled some this week. My theme for the week is: Patterns. When do I want to overeat? What is going on around me? Who is around me? What am I feeling in my body?

On one notable evening I ate not one, but TWO bowls of cold cereal. All while my 11 year-old was howling over some upset with my husband. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the connection.

My exercise issue was simple: pain. I am working through various aches and pains of new workouts and fell out of willingness for a couple of days. I'm back in now.

My creative exercise opportunity for the week was: Water running with resistance.

I put on my medieval looking ankle resistance devices and hit the neighborhood pool with Chanelle for an hour. It only hurt the first few minutes - something valuable to remember.

I am reading a new book, The End of Overeating, by David Kessler, MD. I've read several reviews on this book about the science of how our brains and our bodies contribute to the desire to overeat. I will let you know what I think later!

Monday, August 3, 2009

In the last few years, I have acquired a lot of "book learnin" about nutrition, exercise and certainly weight loss. Even so, I read tons of nutrition news every week and found 7 Keys to Weight Loos by Johns Hopkins pretty useful. None of these tips were news to me but I find being reminded about what I know can often motivate me and help me stay on track.

#7 is a good one: "Emphasize What You Can Eat, Not What You Can’t." Earlier this year, I had an epiphany. I've spent actual years thinking "I can't eat this," "I can't eat that." Yet, I love food; I love cooking it and eating it. I love watching others eat it. What if I tuned in on foods that are the most supportive of me and ate those? Perhaps more importantly, what if I shifted my focus to the foods I choose to eat rather than focusing on the "shouldn'ts?"

I made a list of foods I want to eat every day or every week, and those I will still eat, but occasionally or rarely. Then I ran the whole list through Nutrition Data to see if I could stay within my calorie range an
d get reasonably good nutritional balance. Guess what? I can. And do. These are my foods. I love them. And when my diet is comprised of my personal "super foods," I don't often miss the stuff on the "occasional" or "rarely" lists. I think this is partly because I'm full and also because I really like what I'm eating.

There is a downside. My
family does get tired of these foods; they're not as naturally amenable to "food ruts" as I am. So I quite often cook them "regular" food but serve myself from the list. And slowly but surely, they are falling in love with these foods too. Pumpkin, bell peppers, blueberries, avocados, yogurt and chickpeas (in the form of hummus) are getting pretty tough to keep around.

In case you want to try it yourself, here are my top ten foods that I eat daily or several times a week:

Sweet Potatoes or pumpkin and red bell peppers
Lean meats (especially chicken, tuna and fish) and eggs
Healthy oils, including olive oil and avocados
Blueberries (as well as bananas and apples)
Leafy greens (now mostly spinach and "field greens; but in the spring lots of collard greens)
Brown rice
Walnuts (or almonds)
Beans, particularly black beans, split peas and chick peas
Lowfat/Nonfat yogurt or milk

Let me know how it goes for you!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Increasing the Circle of Self

Last weekend I became a mentor for a small-group course, Power of Connection. One of the things we talk about in the course is keeping an eye on the three-legged stool of self, others and context.

I've written about this before; when time is short, I keep my eye on "others" and "context" but tend to give that "self" circle short shrift. Of course, practically, I know that in the end, me not paying attention to me also affects others and then the context slips.

I'm sure you can see this has everything to do with weight loss. Starting in mid-May, I effectively stopped exercising. And I let my calories creep up too. And of course, I didn't know how MUCH they crept up, because I wasn't recording them; all in the name of "work." I had a job to do and a deadline approaching and let go of the fact that getting this weight off is also my job. I could argue that it's my most important job at this stage.

I'm going to be keeping that circle of self in balance this week. Am I the most important thing in my world? Of course not. Is my long-term health and my self-esteem as important as my family and my job? Yes. I'm going for it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

And . . . we're back!

Reader, it's been several weeks since my last blog. I feel like I'm in the confessional. I got very focused on work in May and June and let go of my health goals. I'm not happy about it, but there it is.

My commitment is to my long-term health, not only to weight loss. But weight loss is a major (if not crucial) part of that commitment. So what happened?

One more time, I sold myself down the proverbial river. One more time, I put my work and family ahead of my own needs, even my own health. One more time, I let it out of my sites.
Yes, I did it again. And it was, in fact, only "one more" time, not "too many" times.

Today I am focusing on preparing food that supports my goals, getting some exercise, and forgiving myself for letting go of that in the past two months. It starts with now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Yesterday I was listening to the Livin' La Vida Low Carb Show podcast archives and heard a very inspiring interview with Shauna Reid, blogger, and author of The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl. Among other things, she reminded me why I am writing this blog. I wanted a way to record my learnings on this journey in a more interactive and interesting way than a document stored on my hard drive. Check out this podcast, his original blog, and Shauna's blog for a big dose of inspiration.

I missed updating on Sunday, so here is that update somewhat belatedly.

Current Weight: 238
Weight Last Week: 239
Weight loss since last week: 1 pound
Total weight loss this year: 4.8 pounds
(Starting weight, 242.8)

My food choices: 10 of 10 (that won't be the case this week! Argh)
Exercise: 5 out of 10 - I did not exercise but due to a wicked toothache. I was motivated to.
Motivation: 10 of 10 - Motivated and looking forward all week

Yesterday I learned that I have an underactive thyroid. When I see my doctor a couple of weeks hence, I will learn how I might correct that. It was a bit of a relief to know why the weight is coming off so slowly. In other news, I learned that my blood sugar which last year was borderline "high normal" at 112, is now down to a tidy 82; the bottom of the range is 70. I attribute this directly to my change in eating lifestyle since last year; really limiting the simple carbs and avoiding sugary foods all together.

Finally, thank you for reading my blog and supporting my weight loss effort. You are good friends, indeed. I am richly blessed!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Walking into the Wind

I admit it. These last two days have been heart-wrenching ones. Nothing actually bad has happened; just lots of potential for things to go south. Yesterday was no problem, eating-wise. I actually took the girls -- albeit unexpectedly -- out for breakfast. I had amazing self-control. I am owning that! I ate half of a breakfast sandwich and focused on drinking my water and coffee. It must have been plenty because I wasn't hungry for several hours.

Today has been another story. Yesterday my dad had a heart valve replaced and we thought he was doing okay. But I did not sleep well at all. I woke up worrying and was just waiting for it to get late enough (there's a two -hour time difference) to call my mom. Sure enough, they had to take him back to surgery because he was having a bleeding problem. It was a tough morning and unusually, both my girls were home.

It was really interesting to see how when people are sad, other females want to cook for them. Both girls are proficient in the kitchen and throughout the day, they kept trying to cook me stuff. It is pretty hard to turn down your child trying to feed you! At least, it's pretty hard for me to turn down my children. And they were offering me sandwiches. They must have that instinctual knowledge that bread releases the "happy" molecules.

But we survived. I made one "poor choice" as my kids would say, but I traded the calories for nutritious food. So I stayed within my 1200; but 200 of them were M&Ms.! I'm done eating for the day so if I get hungry now, it's off to bed!

I have been reading/watching some awesome health/diet stuff lately. So here are a couple of links for you!

This is 49 minutes of great BBC! A doctor turns detective and investigates food claims.
Americans aren't the only ones struggling with weight - the Brits are fighting the battle too.
Finally, a really thought provoking PBS documentary on Fat. Motivating.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another day, another plan!

So . . . did I ever mention my reason for starting this blog? I started it because I wanted to record my learnings on this journey and a blog was so much more interactive than a WORD document. I knew from the past 3 years that there is a lot to learn so guess what? I'm still learning.

I saw my doctor this week, one Dr. Fung. He's great. He hears my struggles and he is committed to walking with me on this journey. This is the first time in 10 years I've gotten a doctor to take seriously my weight issues and to really help me. [Note: handing me a diet that's been copied 400 times does not constitute standing alongside me.]

That's the good news. The less good news is that while there is nothing apparently "wrong" with me, I do have a body that is stubbornly holding onto the weight. He agreed that my daily calories should be plenty low enough for me to lose weight and since I'm losing so slowly, that it was time for a "drastic measure." I've agreed to cut my calories to 1200 a day and to exercise 3 hours a week (but not much more). He has assured me this is safe but we are going to monitor for ketosis or other negative affects. I will see him again in a month and we will check on my progress at that point.

So today was a 1200 calorie day and I'm not hungry. My stomach growled a few times, but I can ignore that. Last year I conquered the emotional eating, so I can easily eat whatever is on my plan. I am not tempted usually to snack. 1200 is fairly low, so I will not be able to splurge calories on sweets even occasionally; if I do I'm sure I will be hungry because that will take up some calories that I would usually spend on something filling, like brown rice or legumes. Just knowing that will help me stay with the healthier, filling foods.

Check in: Current Weight: 239
Weight Last Week: 239
Weight loss since last week: No change
Total weight loss this year: 3.8 pounds
(Starting weight, 242.8)

My food choices: 7 of 10 I needed to have more "ready to eat" food on hand
Exercise: 10 out of 10 - I got in 3 hours of exercise
Motivation: 10 of 10 I am ready to proceed!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Quickie - Link to Another Blog

I was just about to give up on the Get Fit Slowly blog when lo and behold, they surprised me. Here's a lighthearted but inspiring guest post on a "plus-size" woman who begins regularly going to the gym. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weekly Wondering

I have to say, while the formula is a simple one -- calories in vs. calories out -- there is obviously a bit more to this weight business than math. For simplicity's sake, I'll start with the check in.

Current Weight: 239
Weight Last Week: 240
Weight loss since last week: 1 pound loss
Total weight loss this year: 3.8 pounds
(Starting weight, 242.8)

My food choices: 5 of 10 I was rushed, often, and unprepared. Really did not get in the veggies.
Exercise: 7 out of 10 - I only got in 3 hours of exercise
Motivation: 10 of 10 I am feeling strong and healthy.

I had an exercise issue this week; last Sunday night I went to the emergency room with a foot so painful, I could barely stand on it. It hurt even when I was off it! Turns out it wasn't' the stress fracture I'd feared, but something else altogether: Planter Faciitis. It was good news, actually, in that an exercise and ice packs cured me in four days. A bit late to get all that exercise in, however.

I think there is more going on here that meets the eye because, for the first week in many, I did no food logging whatsover. I also ate a few things I rarely eat, like a sandwich and saltines in my soup. I was not expecting to post a loss. All things considered, I've set a date with the doctor. I don't expect any new news, I know I am pre-diabetic; however, when I was told this last year, I had no idea what that meant. Since then I've done tons of research; but I am hoping for a few ideas on how to have a metabolic break-through. We will see.

For my tip of the week, I read an interesting piece on brain food. Research has unlocked some food links to brain health. I think it is important and relevant to know what keeps the old noggin greased when I am counting calories; it won't do me much good to be trim and fit if I'm also a nit-wit!

Given the Planter Faciitis, I've decided to give up step counting. I don't think that works for me. Instead, I've decided to track how much time each day I am on my bottom and to decrease it each week.

This week, I'm adding core fitness workouts to my regimen. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Setting Stores

Today I invested 2-1/2 hours in what my Grandma called, "setting stores." There is something really reassuring for me in having an ample supply of healthy, quick food on hand. This post is actually a shout out to my stellar support partner Roberta, who reminded me of how helpful it is for me to have an amply supply of "better choices" to hand. Here's what I put together today:
  • 4 pints refried beans
  • 3 cups black beans
  • 1 batch (3 cups) roasted chick-peas
  • 10 frozen dinners consisting of grilled fajita chicken, brown rice and mixed veg
  • A batch of blueberry muffins for the kidlets.
A pretty good return on my time, don't you think? And that includes clean up! I will do the same tomorrow morning and concentrate on soups:
  • Split pea
  • Mulligatawny
  • Nani's Pumpkin soup
My Grandma also used the phrase, "setting store," to mean "counting on." For instance, she might say, "You aren't setting store on him coming by, are you?" I think Grandma is smiling at me now because I can surely set store on having lots of yummy, wholesome food only a quick minute in the microwave away!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Eating Low on the Food Chain

I was so proud of myself as I checked out at the grocery store tonight. In my cart were two processed foods for me: tomato soup that I occasionally eat as a treat, and sugar free/fat free pudding mix for that occasional need for dessert. It sounds kind of offbeat to be proud of my grocery cart but, oddly, I was. Because with the exception of the aforementioned extravagences, everything in the cart was as close to it's natural state as a city-dwelling busy gal can get it. My cart contained canola oil, dry beans, brown rice, chicken, and produce. That's it.

Obviously I want to lose weight and I want to use the expert knowledge accumulated over the past few decades to empower that quest, hence the name of the blog. I wrote just today in my coaching blog about the struggles on that front, but yes, I want to lose weight. And there is more.

I want to be healthy. Truly, robustly, undeniably healthy. I want to eat the foods that serve me and avoid the foods that do not. I am making lifestyle -- aka permanent -- changes. So these days, I am eating low on the food chain and also choosing selections that are thought to be less inflammatory, like collard greens, for instance.

I mentioned recently that I have been tracking my food on the NutritionData site. Their tracking program analyzes the macro nutrients in my food. It is very affirming. When I'm eating food as close to natural as I can, I get most or all of my essential nutrients every day. Imagine that! There has also been a fabulous unintended consequence. My 10-year-old has IBS and lately she has been suffering far fewer painful bouts. We both attribute this to the uncomplicated and beautiful home-cooked meals.

If you want to try eating simpler and more healthful foods, here are a few tips:
  • Shop primarily in the outside aisles of the supermarket
  • Relegate canned or boxed --processed-- foods to occasional treats
  • Avoid foods that contain high fructose corn syrup; it has many deleterious affects, not least of which is stimulating your appetite
  • Teach your whole family to chop vegetables and you will always have a soux chef handy
  • Try a locally grown produce delivery service for fun, freshness and variety
  • Cook ahead when possible, eg., the week's worth of brown rice, oatmeal, and soup
  • Utilize your freezer; buy in bulk and repackage to your family's size; do big projects (like meatballs) in massive batches for time and money savings
  • Make pretty food. Somehow, it tastes better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 - 7 - 9; no loss but high spirits!

I am a day late posting my check-in and tips for the week. I have a couple of great sites to recommend this week! The first is a great place to see how you are doing not only calorie-wise but also to track your macronutrients: NutritionData - Know What You Eat.

The second tip of the week is for a podcast that I really enjoy: Fat 2 Fit Radio. Episode 57 has a lot of great information in it especially in the interview with Tom Venuto. He talks about limiting beliefs and self-image in a really practical way. However, my favorite tip is this: he says, "You can tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger . . . physical hunger builds up gradually over time but the emotional hunger comes up suddenly like an urge. Physical hunger you can wait out. . . emotional hunger comes as a craving for something specific." And likewise, he quotes Judith Beck, "Hunger is not an emergency!"

Now for my check in:

Current Weight: 240.0
Weight Last Week: 239.6

Weight loss since last week: 0.4 pound gain

Total weight loss this year: 2.8 pounds

I'm adding a new bit of checkin info:

My food choices: 10 of 10 it was a great week of beautiful food
Exercise: 7 out of 10 - I only got in 3 hours of exercise
Motivation: 9 of 10 I am not downhearted, in spite of the scale!

I'm sure you are wondering what is going on here. Well, so am I! However, my hands and feet are very swollen, so I know I am retaining water. I stayed within my 1700 calorie a day budget last week except for a pretty big hunk of my hubby's birthday cake last night. I am sure of that because I am logging every taste, bite and nibble. I am doing what I know how to do and controling what is within my control. I do have a doctor's appointment on April 3, so maybe he will have some advice for me!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Old dog learns new tricks!

Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks! On Wednesday, I had my first swimming session with my coach, Terri. It was amazing. I kid you not! That said, I haven't taken in that much water since the time the Sunfish capsized and I got my foot caught in the rigging!

After being racked with self-doubt about my swimming ability for the last 40 years, I finally got some instruction! It was a good workout which had my heart pumping hard for the whole hour. I learned some cool drills, too: 10-3-10, and Catch-up. There was one more drill but I can't remember the name of it. A couple of times I cracked myself up. I felt like such a klutz.

Here's the value of a coach: I absolutely could not have done any of those drills without her eyes on me! She was able to make subtle adjustments that I was blind to. "Push your hip toward the ceiling. Rest your arm on your head. Keep your whole body in a straight line. Your pointing your arm down" I was completely unaware of any of these things and was able to quickly correct them once pointed out. Near the end, I swam a lap that was amazing; I felt as if I was flying! I have never simply glided through the water like that!

Terri's technical expertise aside, coaching works for me because I work for it. These days when I work out, I have something to reach for. I kept pushing myself today because on Wednesday, I want my kick to look noticeably better. I want to be able to breathe on my right side and not only my left. It's a stretch and I'm stretching!

In the infamous words of Martha Stewart. It's a good thing. My gluts hurt!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Use it up!

Kim O'Donnel, Washington Post columnist, is mid-way through a week-long challenge called, "Eating Down the Fridge." This fits well with my retro theme from World War II, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without." It has to do with my personal take on the recession -- namely that the "hard times" are serving to remind us what is truly important and encouraging us to live within our means. I think there is a bit of serendipity in my finding this challenge --I've been (somewhat half-heartedly) doing the same for the last month. Reading her blog posts on the challenge has encouraged me to be more committed and conscientious about it.

Last month I started working my way through the pantry and the freezers. I have already made a big dent in the frozen meat and am beginning to work on the frozen veggies. I have a couple packages of mystery meat that ought to make for some interesting meals this weekend. I have managed to cook almost all the beans - both dry and canned - and they are so healthful -- full of good stuff and fiber. And -- I admit it -- I've thrown out or given to the food pantry a few cans of "what was I thinking?"

From a diet standpoint, O'Donnel's challenge is a great one. I've noticed the high-calorie foods that find their way into my shopping basket are the first ones consumed when they hit our pantry. And I'm not outside being tempted by them, either. I am interested to see what a difference it will make to our pocketbook and our waistlines. Stay tuned!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whoopsie! Weekly Weigh-In

Need a great site to help you count your calories? CalorieLab is the answer. It's quick, it's easy and you don't have to "join." They also have a "news" tab with research and information in a pithy, friendly format. Finally, they have "calories burned" - more on that in a moment. Anyway, check it out -- I'm sure you'll find something of use.

Here are my stats:
Current Weight: 239.6
Weight Last Week: 239.0
Weight loss since last week: 0.6 pound gain
Total weight loss this year: 3.2 pounds

In the sublime words of Charles De Gaulle,
"France has lost a battle. But France has not lost the war."

This week, obviously, I did a little worse than break even. However, I am not discouraged. I know that I have been getting loads of exercise and eating healthfully so I am going to trust that a breakthrough is coming in the future. I am still posting a net loss. And those are the facts!

My course correction this week is to go back to the number of calories I was eating those two weeks when I lost 2 pounds each. I had ramped up the numbers a bit to adjust for the 3 additional hours of exercise, so that's an easy tweak to make. In addition, I will begin working with my swimming coach this week and I am counting on her to give me a work-out makeover. Finally, I'll use CalorieLab's "calories burned" calculator to closely track the calories I'm burning each week.

I remain encouraged.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Good News for the Gimmick-free Losers!

It could be good or bad news -- depending on your point of view -- and it is everywhere in the medical and weight-loss news fronts this week: It's not how you lose weight, it's how many calories you cut. Most of us who are or have been engaged in long weight battles instinctively knew this, but it's nice to have it confirmed!

In a 811-subject study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, they concluded:
"Reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize."

The researchers studied fat reductions of 20% and 40%, and reduced carb diets (35%) and ones that had 65% carbohydrate intake. In short, no particular diet showed better results over the course of the study but it did show that those who attended the group sessions did better overall. They also found that the dieters from the various groups were similar satiated and similarly satisfied with the diets. There were also findings on cardiovascular health which I am so not qualified to analyze but it seemed to say that a moderate approach will work. It's a pretty awesome study.

I feel happy. I'm glad to know that in the end, the math wins and I don't have to spend a lot of time tracking fat grams, carbohydrate grams. I don't think the gimmick diet developers really have to worry, though. Most people are still looking for the quick fix.

National Nutrition Month

This is National Nutrition month. The dietetic association has a website on the topic, which, on the whole, is fairly uninteresting. However, I was fascinated by the time-line of fad diets. I really want to know about the "vinegar and water" diet from the 19th century attributed to Lord Byron; I wonder if that's the one that enjoyed a revival a few years ago. You put a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water and drank it before meals. I tried it. It's gross. And I actually quite like vinegar.

It was reassuring to me to see that fad diets have been around a long time. And yet, as a culture, we are still getting fatter. I'm thinking they're not the answer!!

There is a pretty fun quiz and some other tidbits on the site. Check it out - -you might inspire yourself!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tip of the Week and Course Correction

Let's start with the fun topic - my tips of the week.
Weight Watchers posted "25 Little Tips for Big Weight Loss" - I found some helpful reminders there. One of my favorite blogs, Fooducate, posts great info about what's really in what we eat. I told my darling Chanelle that her long love affair with ketchup is over, it's on it's way back to condiment status at our house!

Here are my stats:
Current Weight: 239.0
Weight Last Week:
Weight loss since last week: 0
Total weight loss this year: 3.8 pounds

Oh, how I'd hoped I'd be down a couple of pounds this week. But it was not to be. So I am back to the drawing board: Obviously, I corrected the food log calculation error I discovered on Wednesday. I've gently increased my steps and exercise. I stayed within my calorie budget and recorded everything. However, I ate fewer, larger meals,while in the early weeks, I ate several small meals. I'll try that again this week.

I've looked over my food logs to see what might be causing a metabolic issue. I see that for the past two weeks, I've eaten more "junk" food and not eaten all of what I really want to eat every day; hence, lower fiber (and vitamins). So first things first, I recommit to eating that which truly serves me! Secondly, I've noticed that I am getting some of my dairy every day in the form of low-fat cheese; I think I will shave that back to a couple of times a week. I can also focus more on the leaner proteins, chicken and fish. Finally, I ate some sugary foods this week and have had foods higher on the glycemic index as well: juices, dried fruits, corn, and white potatoes. Those things are not on preferred list so I will skip them this week as well. It's trial and error at this point, so I'll see what happens at my next weigh in!

I have assigned myself this homework this week: I am going to look at this rather mind-boggling chart on obesity system influences and it's related summary report and see which of these are influences in my world; then I am going to action the ones I can change in my weight loss RIVAS. Have a great week!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mystery Solved

This morning I was speaking to my friend Roberta and we were discussing possible causes of my slight gain last week. I ran all my theories by her and then recommitted to waiting for this week's weigh in before I started obsessing over the possible fixes.

But tonight, as I was entering the day's food into my spreadsheet, I noticed something did not look right. As I scanned the day's calories, they appeared to add up to more than the total posted. Long story short, there was a very subtle error, but it appeared in two fields every day. And it was lean meats and oats, foods I eat nearly every day. So it turns out that last week, my food was miscalculated to the tune of 2,660 calories unaccounted for.

You read that right: 2,660.

Thankfully, it was only 2,660. Since I run about a 400 calorie deficit every day, I still ended the week with a small deficit. According to the math, I should have lost a couple of ounces instead of gaining a couple, but I know my water retention system is at least that fickle.

I am grateful for catching it on Thursday of this week when I still have time to re-run the numbers and course correct! Whew!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Sunday - Tip of the week and check-in

Each week I will be posting a tip of the week - a great resource or tip I've picked up in the past few days. This week I have an online PBS documentary, Fat, What No One is Telling You. It's very thought provoking and full of news from research, but don't watch it if you're feeling hopeless. It's food for thought but not edited in an encouraging manner. Therefore, I'm recommending it with some reservations.

I also have a uplifting news find for this week that I picked up on Lori's great blog, Finding Radiance. It's great justification for all of my fellow coffee lovers. Of course, this short news piece doesn't speak to coffee's suspected link to insulin -- which means I'd still better take it in moderation!

Now for my check-in. I stayed in my calorie budget this week, but did consume more fatty food (remember Wednesday?). I am posting a small gain. My philosophy, however, is to look for the overall trend and not be unduly attached to each week's results so I will see how I do next week and then decide if a course correction is called for. I am very aware of my tendency to retain fluid and that can cause some pretty awesome fluctuations! If I do not post a loss next week, I will redo the math and see what kind of adjustment I need to make.

Current Weight: 239.0
Weight Last Week:
Weight loss since last week: 0.2 pound gain
Total weight loss this year: 3.8 pounds

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Wheels Came Off

I thought it might happen eventually and on Wednesday, it did. It started with about 1/4 cup of butter cream frosting (a lick at a time of course) and then when the sugar crash came, I followed up with a snack bag of chips/crisps to "wake me up." Then I decided to make brownies for the kids after school and of course, they didn't come out of the pan that well, so I managed about a brownie's worth in little pieces. Then I went to pick the kids up, and low and behold, the cake I'd sent to school came back with a couple pieces left. So I ate one of those too.

Suffice it to say, the wheels had come off the wagon and things were not looking good. It had been a long and stressful day both work-wise and personally. I was in a personal earthquake as many things around me were changing, worrisome or shaky. As I entered the house after making my next-to-last "taxi-mom" run. I felt beaten down and I was really on my back about my eating so far. As I slumped in front of the TV, I considered skipping my evening workout, thinking the day was already "lost."

The wheels may have been off the wagon, but it dawned on me that this was where "the rubber meets the road." Suddenly, I came to my senses. I got ready to workout and collected my kids. As I swam my mile for the day, I reflected on possible causes for my sudden departure from the plan I had faithfully followed for three weeks. I decided my next best course of action was to finish my workout and go home and put pen to paper.

This I did, and I have to say, it was a turning point for me. Writing down all the things that had happened both that day and the one previous -- a picture emerged. I began to see clearly that I was not, in fact, the center of the universe. I cannot control other people's health or career choices; I cannot control the economy. I was getting a message loud and clear: I am not in charge! I am in control, however, of my own mastery when things are not the way I "think" they should be; I am in charge of many choices that affect my own health and well being. Perhaps most importantly, I clearly saw that I am in charge of how I respond to life's challenges. I choose to respond to them open-heartedly, and not by further oppressing myself with poor food choices.

In the end, I put in place a plan to support both my dear friend and my dad who are facing health challenges and I brought someone else into my work circle for the sole purpose of supporting me in my professional role. I logged all of what I had eaten (which surprisingly turned out to be within my day's calories) and resolved to make healthier choices hence forth.

In the past, Wednesday's detour would have derailed me at least until Monday, or the start of the next month, or after the next holiday. I think the blog is part of what helped me get back on track; knowing I had chosen to tell the truth to the world helped me choose a next chapter that was - pardon the pun - more palatable! The real driving force, however, was my decision a few weeks ago to get to the bottom of the issues in my life instead of using food to soothe my soul.

I hope you are doing the same. If you are having a tough day, week, year, or life -- get out your journal, call a friend, go for a walk, whatever! Notice and re-create your situation. You are worth it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Entering the Gimmick-Free Zone

I have tried lots of gimmicks to lose weight -- and I'll bet you have too. The gimmick that worked best for me was Weight Watchers points because after a while it's easy to count the points. However, I'm on a no-gimmick eating plan.

Basically, I sat down and asked myself what foods I really wanted to eat. This was so liberating! For probably the first time since I started gaining weight, I was focused on what I chose to eat and not what I "could not" or "should not eat." Then, I divided these foods into daily foods and things that --while I still want to be able to eat them--I want to limit. So, for instance, I have ice cream on my once-a-month list.

My next step was to figure out how many calories I could eat and still lose weight. The fab guys at Fat 2 Fit Radio suggest that you eat the number of calories you need to eat in order to maintain your goal weight. To do this yourself, you really need the help of a BMR (basic metabolic rate) calculator. I found instructions for calculating this in lots of places on the web, but the simplest way was to follow the instructions I found at Fat 2 Fit.

The reason this works has to do with the law of thermo-dynamics. Calories are energy. If you consume more calories than you use up (burn), it is stored in your body as fat. Although there are lots of claims for supplements that speed up the metabolism, there are risks with nearly all of them. So it seems much healthier and simpler to just do the math. If you exercise a lot, you burn more calories than if you are sedentary. But in the end, gimmicks aside, it really does have to come down to what you eat. You simply cannot lose or even maintain weight if you eat more calories than you burn. So no matter how you are working your weight loss goals, you do need to know how to do the math. [Actually, it's much more complex than this and if you really want to understand the nuances, try reading this article on the thermodynamics of weight loss on a night you can't get to sleep! I have opted for assuming I won't burn anything extra and not worrying about the nuances ]

Finally, I just matched up what I wanted to eat with my daily calories and, viola, instant food plan! I like it and it works for me on every level: it's full of vitamins, it's food I like, it's a low-carb plan because that works for me, and it's simple. Nearly everything has calories and recording them is easy. When I climb close to my daily total, I start thinking about how hungry I actually am. Obviously I would benefit from thinking about this all the time, but that just isn't always on my radar!!

This has also helped me curb my cravings for less-supportive foods. Weight loss programs always tell you that you can eat whatever you want to - and it's true -- but of course you have to mark the points or deal the cards or whatever. It's not free - it goes back to the math. I love ice cream - I mean I really love it. I think it is one of the most amazing recipes ever invented. However, it has a lot of calories for the amount of fun I get to have eating it. I can eat a lot of bowls of yummy pumpkin soup or put a big pile of shredded low-fat cheese on my salad for the same number of calories. When I realized that, my craving stopped. Actually, it screeched to a halt. It's just not worth it to me.

So that's my plan. It's simple, it's real, and it's very healthy. I focus on real foods - not processed ones - and cook almost all of it from scratch. I'm happy, my family's happy and we are all getting what we need from our food. No gimmicks - just real food and true satisfaction. Ahhhhh.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Putting it all on the Line

Welcome to my new weight loss blog. I am about two weeks into my latest (and last!) attempt to lose the excess 80 pounds I've been packing around for the last 13 years. You read that correctly -- it's eighty. But I haven't had it all for the whole 13 years; in point of fact, I put it on a pound at a time over the first 10 years and have spent the last three trying to get rid of it.

I am done "trying." This time, I am succeeding.

It's my life and my life is worth saving.

For the past three years, I've been doing lots of research about the relationship of weight to health, and on diets, metabolism and exercise. You could say I'm an "aspirant expert!" I will be sharing that learning in this forum, along with the things I see that are getting in my way and those that are helping.

In short, I'm eating the calories I will need to eat each day when I reach my goal weight; in other words, I am eating my maintenance calories now. I am exercising 4 hours a week in February and will be up to 6 hours by March. Once a week I will report my current weight, as well as how much I've lost each week.

I hope this blog will inspire both you and I to live healthier (and lighter) lives.

Current Weight: 238.8
Weight loss since last week: 2 pounds
Total weight loss this year: 4 pounds