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