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!