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The Demons are Still There...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In my last blog I outlined my meal plan for Friday. CHANGEDIN09 asked why I chose a whey shake for dinner rather than a more typical meal.

The short answer is that I find it convenient to have a shaker bottle made up with everything I need in it so I can just add water, mix it up and drink it on the drive home (the sooner you get your protein after a workout, the more effectively it supposedly goes into rebuilding your muscles).

The long answer is that I do not trust myself to eat sensibly at home alone at night. Generally if I've had all my calories by the time I get home after my evening workout, I can consider the food in the kitchen off-limits and I'm "safe."

If I try to eat "dinner" it sometimes stretches into something else. Namely an uncontrolled binge. Sometimes this happens even if I have eaten all of my calories, as I did on Friday. This usually depends on whether there are eating triggers setting off the behavior.

In fact, it DID happen on Friday evening, with catastrophic results for Saturday. Inspiried by MOM5INFL's blog transparency, I am going to outline what happened. And the consequences.


When I got home on Friday I did my usual routine of shower etc. and found that I was home earlier than usual (around 6 pm). I began to plan my meal for Saturday, allowing for an estimated 3 hours of cross-country skiing with CARRIE1948. I was really excited about this, as I hadn't skiied in at least 15 years.

I don't think I've *ever* skiied in the kind of physical shape I'm currently in. My brother taught me in high school and we would go on trips in the Sierras. I even owned a pair of skis in my 20s. A friend at work recently upgraded to a longer pair so I bought his, and outfitted myself with poles, bindings, and boots. I was anxious to try my new gear and to find out if I still knew how to use it, LOL.

So anyway, back to Friday evening. I began planning my meals for Saturday. My iPod tracker automatically updates the daily caloric requirements depending on the exercise you put in. Three hours of cross-country skiing apparently burns a LOT of calories. So my Saturday calorie allocation was going to be freakishly high. I planned out all the apples, tangerines, whey shakes, protein bars, etc. for the day and was actually finding it difficult to figure out what *else* to add in.

This made me almost giddy, as it is opposite from my usual meal-planning experience of shaving calories here and there to stay within the limits. I think this mind-set contributed to what happened later.

It was still early in the evening so I made a pot of herb tea and settled in to watch an episode of Parks and Recreation on Hulu. It finished and I began watching the latest episode on there of The Office. Partway through I started getting urges to eat. Remembering that TV is an eating trigger for me, I turned off the computer and started reading.

After a point I remembered that I had some DVDs waiting to watch, and I reasoned that as long as I had the herb tea with me I would be OK. This was a mistake. Partway through It Happened One Night, I got urges to eat again. And the rationalizations started. "I'm going to need a lot of energy tomorrow. I've stocked up on apples. Surely it won't hurt to have an apple while watching this movie."

And I went and got an apple. And then a tangerine. And then I decided I needed some protein to go with it, so with the next THREE apples I had EIGHT Weight Watcher's cheddar pieces, an ENTIRE WHEEL of Laughing Cow Extra Light cheese (from the UK), some Laughing cow Light cheese (from the US), SIX protein bars, an entire unopened bag of beef jerkey that had been sitting in my kitchen since April, and most of a bag of dried blueberries.

I didn't put it in the tracker at the time. I wrote the weights of the fruits on a piece of paper and saved the wrappers from the packaged foods. That's part of this behavior. I know I don't want to be doing what I'm doing, and so I don't want to actually know what I'm doing in terms of numbers while I'm doing it. In fact, I only just now calculated the totals.

Final damage from the binge? 3411 calories. 503 g carbs, 83 g of fat, 241 g of protein, and 7330 g of sodium.

That does not include the rest of the food for the day.


And of course I felt bad about it, not just physically, but emotionally. Because I had just mentioned on my thread with STEVIECAT4 that I was going to try really hard to avoid binging this weekend.
And scared that I'd have a reflux episode overnight, because that's what sometimes happens when I overfill.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. No reflux episode, but I had what felt like a rock in my stomach and skipped breakfast. CARRIE1948 and I found the cross country ski place, got gear for her, paid for the lesson and trail passes, and started having a group lesson with two other people.

I rapidly discovered that my skiing chops were all there, and with my new athetic body I was stronger and more agile than I have ever been with a pair of boards stuck to my toes. I happily scooted around and around the oval-shaped practice area, sometimes doing diagonal stride, and sometimes refreshing my skating stride (remember, I hadn't skiied for 15 years. There *wasn't* "skate skiing" back then. Skating was just something you did to get around. In long skis. Like the 190cm ones I had on. LOL)

I was amazed to see how many calories my HR monitor said I was burning. I felt great. I took off my jacket I was so warm. I got some tips from the instructor to improve my skills. I started feeling a pang now and then in my stomach and assumed it was hunger and decided to wait and address it when we were going to break after an hour.

After an hour of this I was definitely a little fatigued, but I felt good and was ready for lunch. Put water into a shaker bottle and began to drink a whey shake. And suddenly my stomach just cramped up and rebelled. It felt worse and worse. CARRIE1948 asked if I felt OK, and I said "no" and shuffled off to the bathroom. Where (I hope this isn't too graphic) about half of Friday's binge exited rapidly the standard direction.

I shuffled back, still faint. Not only did I feel physically bad (it was sort-of like reflux but sort-of like something else, and it REALLY HURT), but I felt really sorry because this was going to ruin not only MY day, but Carrie's, and we'd both paid for an entire day's pass, and she'd paid for a day's ski rental. So I broke it to her that I felt like I needed to go, and did she mind driving my car (which is a stick), and this is the kind of situation in which you find out who your real friends are, because she was great about it.

We got back to her place, I rested a bit, used the facility, and at that point the OTHER HALF of Friday's binge exited, and it came back out the way it had gone in, which is always unpleasant. (Sorry about the graphic image) I felt terrible. The pain came and went in waves. I just wanted to be home, where I could curl up in my bed, and take periodic hot showers to distract myself from the pain. I felt cold. I was shivering. I felt faint. But I really wanted to be home.

So I eventually told her I needed to go. And the next 40 minutes felt like two hours. I'm not sure how I got home. I'm pretty sure I shouldn't have been operating a motor vehicle. The car in front of me was annoyingly slow, and I followed them almost all the way.

But I made it and basically collapsed. I alternately huddled in bed and took hot showers and baths and moaned in pain. At some point I suddenly felt really really thirsty and something clicked. I hadn't drunk any water during that hour of skiing. Jerky contains an insane amount of sodium. I was probably dehydrated.

So I made up a mug of Nuun, added some sugar, and drank it. It hurt my stomach, but I started feeling a bit better mentally. For the next several hours I slowly nursed water and electrolytes back into my system. The pain moved into a different part of my stomach. I kept waking up with pangs and growling.

At this point I realized I must also be hungry, but I was afraid to eat anything because of the additional reflux pain. Eventually around 5am I pared and sliced up an apple and microwaved it and ate it. It didn't come back up, but the pain was still there. I had 50 g of frozen pureed peaches, also microwaved. That also stayed down.

And so my system slowly recovered. I was able to eat half of a small pot of homemade chicken and barley soup today. As I write this the pain is mostly gone, although I'm still exhausted.

And I hope - HOPE - that this time the painful physical and emotional consequences of Friday's binge will make enough of an impression to stop me in my tracks the next time I get those urges. (The last reflux episode was in May.)

The urges to eat might always be there. But for now I know I am simply not ready to handle the challenge of evening TV viewing or eating. Because once I start I do not seem to be able to stop eating. And my new athletic body, finely tuned to a controlled high-protein low-fat diet, has indicated very clearly that it will not stand for such abuse any more.

UPDATE: Here is a later blog post I wrote about minimizing binge triggers:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KAREN91 12/16/2012 9:22AM

    I too have binge eating problems but I never have physical consequences other then feeling too full and gaining weight. Even though its unpleasant I almost wish I did because it might stop me. I loved your posting about strategies to avoid bingeing which I have read and will reread. emoticon

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BAPSANN 10/22/2012 11:27AM

  This is exactly what I do, I do really well during the day but home is a monster and I do not know how to control it.

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ANDASI 8/29/2012 3:54AM

    Well i have experienced this for sure but have never seen it in writting and it really hits me as i read it seeing it in black and white the abuse we can put our bodies through and that is what it is.

Reading it brings me back to the feeling of such pyshical discomfort and how uncomfortable it is and that i did it to myself.

It sure brings things to light i have never spoken to anyone about binge eating but reading about an episode just opens my eyes.

I am thinking that the next time i binge i will write it all down for myself so as not to forget the feeling of sickness i create for myself.

It happened to me this morning at the gym waking up feeling so heavy in my stomach and then doing my run oh it was not fun. I could not eat for a few hours even after working out my stomach still had so much in it.

Thank You for the openess and honesty and transperency binging makes you feel so isolated sometimes at least it does for me because i am very secretive about it and would be terrified if people knew. And it also shocks me as to how much food i can eat in one sitting.

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TIFFANIE150 7/24/2012 4:24PM

    Best description ever of a binge Thank you for sharing!

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VIVIANJ5 2/25/2010 6:32AM

    I can empathize with both the physical and the emotional consequences of the bingeing, and am grateful that you are willing to put it all out here for the rest of us to see, and maybe, learn. Thank you for your honesty, and keep up the great work!

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JAY75REY 2/23/2010 4:47PM

    seems like skipping breakfast contributed to the "incident". Too much acid in the stomach?
BTW, I have binged mightily in similar fashion so you're not alone, except mine never comes back up. It converts to fat and finds a comfortable spot somewhere on my body!
I force myself to log it in so I will face the truth and be aware of what I am doing and I try to include something about how I feel so I can get to the "why".
Maintenance is a HUGE goal, so keep up the good work!

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CHANGEDIN09 2/21/2010 7:47AM

    Just found this and boy am I glad I did. THANK YOU . What great insight. I'm glad I'm not the only one struggling with "falling off the wagon". You are very inspirational. Keep drinking those whey shakes!! PS...glad I gave you an idea for a blog post :)

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DOLLIE6 2/17/2010 1:23PM

    I enjoyed reading your blog. It all seems like I have heard it before with me. I gather this is part of our mentality, gene pool or whatever. Its us and we have to stay in control or suffer the consequents. Keep on Sparking you will reach goal and maintain. I will subscribe to your blog and follow.
How long did it take you to lose 180 pounds? Did you follow just Spark or have your own?

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STEVIECAT4 2/17/2010 11:40AM

    Oh, honey!! I'm SOOOOO sorry this happened to you! If I was going to eat over 3,000 calories in one night, I would have at least made it Italian food!!!! I can't imagine overeating on diet food....what a waste of calories!! LOL JUST KIDDING...well, sort of just kidding.... I can remember a Weight Watcher leader saying to us one time that we are all in this together, this was the only place we could come where everyone understands everything you think and feel, then she said "Face it ladies, we're the only ones who can sit on the bowl with diarhea and have the garbage pail on our laps throwing up at the same time and all the while thinking "This better be good for 5 pounds!!!!"

So, in that mind frame....did you at least lose some weight??? I'm so sick, aren't I?

Umm, one thing though....could this have had anything to do with eating an opened package of jerky left over from 10 months ago? Sounds like something was spoiled/bad. Also all that fruit. I have to stay away from too much fruit because it gets my intestines in a knot like that.

Poor you!!! I feel so bad that this happened.

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SLENDERELLA61 2/17/2010 10:51AM

    You have done a great service in detailing your painful experience. We all learn from it. I've also had a great deal of success, but there are times....

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KAREN_01 2/16/2010 2:00AM

    So we live and learn!

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ZIRCADIA 2/15/2010 1:28PM

    My version wasn't quite as extreme, but I had some similar feelings this weekend -- eating too much/too rich over the weekend and then waking up early with a rock in my stomach. :P blergh. My body is craving for good clean eating this week and I am giving it to it!

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DACIUS 2/15/2010 8:05AM

    Just remember that those days where we struggle are not the normal. Before we would binge and not even consider the consequenses and then do it again the next day.

Now we know what is wrong with it and we make those days the exception, not the rule.

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CARRIE1948 2/15/2010 7:02AM

    Glad you're feeling better. Looking forward to another stab at cross country skiing.

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GEE-KNEE 2/14/2010 10:42PM

    Oh... and your excitement for the extra calories you were going to burn makes me laugh. I went out to dinner the night before my half marathon last week, and I said "well, I think I can eat whatever I want tonight. Shouldn't I be eating extra carbs?" Silly rationalizing, I ended up eating in my normal range though.

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GEE-KNEE 2/14/2010 10:37PM

    I am so sorry. That sounds like a terrible experience, and you were so excited about the skiing. Live and learn. You've changed so much, and this was one bad evening (which you paid for the next day).


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DDOORN 2/14/2010 9:31PM

    Ooof! Tough lessons in an experience like that! Gotta believe you got LEARNED bigtime and will be able to take the wisdom you need from that pain.

Yep, cross country skiing burns MUCHO calories...! I can see your eyes lighting up over that iTouch like you've just hit the jackpot in Vegas...lol!

So here we are on the tail end of the weekend and what do we get? SEVEN inches of snow beginning Monday night...! Grrr!!

There is something most decidedly WRONG that it should be so blasted difficult to get out and cross country ski in our area!


ps... certainly heartily second MOM5INFL's opinion, re: cleaning out of the house all trigger foods, but I'm sure you're already "there" on that account...! :-)

Comment edited on: 2/14/2010 9:34:03 PM

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MOM5INFL 2/14/2010 9:26PM

    I truly understand what you are going through. I've been through nights just like you described on many occasions. I am happy to report that these behaviors are improving with time, but I'm certainly NOT out of the woods. One thing that I noticed is that you had a little too much time on your hands that Friday night. I would have a hard time not eating away the time with nothing to do but read and watch TV. I have found that I need to keep my hands busy or they tend to lead me to the pantry. Also, I CANNOT keep protein bars in the house. I wish that I could, but I CAN'T. Protein bars are the same as Snickers for me. I have also had to on occasional get rid of apples as well!

I think you are doing awesome. One occasion is not a big deal. If it becomes a habit then consider cleaning house of ALL potential triggers. If you have to buy your food one meal at a time until the behavior is under control then do what you have to do. Binges come in waves for me. The quicker I clean my house of any potential triggers...the quicker I get past it.

These behaviors are part of the territory of losing a large amount of weight. Welcome to the club. We will get through this. I do believe that these behaviors will slowly pass away with time. In the meantime we have to be diligent and fight every single day.

I look forward to watching you practice and master maintaining your weight. It's a bumpy ride. Not seeing the scale go down plays with your mind!!! I'm here in the trenches with you and holler if you need me!!! Birdie.

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GR8CATSBY 2/14/2010 9:20PM

    Wow... I can relate to a lot of what you're saying - the binge, the feeling really crummy the next day... A few years ago I was visiting friends in Alaska and ate way too much at/after dinner. I was miserable all night, waiting for the inevitable to happen (what goes down must come up?), which it finally did about 4am. The following day I felt like a zombie most of the day. (Fortunately we didn't have anything big planned.) My friends were very kind about the whole thing, but of course I was embarrassed.
And the thing that really kills me to say - that was in 2007 and I still binge sometimes to the point of feeling sick to my stomach and miserable the next day. Not as often as I used to, but it still happens.

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BLUEINKPEN 2/14/2010 8:33PM


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TRACIEO3 2/14/2010 8:19PM

    Honestly, that much food after eating a full days meals is enough to make anyone puke the next day, especially if you have completed changed your intake of food, and the amount of intake as well. You have been very successful on your program at losing 180 pounds, why don't you trust yourself. YOU did this, nobody did it for you and even if you have to call upon every little bit of willpower you have you need to do it because this is a huge issue you need to work through and avoiding the kitchen is not a solution, it's a band aid. You really are doing wonderful though and I'm sure you can work through any situation you might come across.

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THINMAMAWARD 2/14/2010 8:05PM

    I know I might not be much help, but I have started eating my meals at the dining table then going in to watch tv.

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A sample menu

Friday, February 12, 2010

Since I don't use the tracker here on SP anymore because I switched to Lean Me on my iPod, ( www.leanme.net ) I thought it might be fun to share what I eat in a typical day now. I definitely eat more than I used to a month ago, and much less of the empty things like sugarless gum and sugarless candy.

Here we go with today's menu:

(around 8am)
168 g FAGE 0% Greek yogurt
21 g Kashi Go Lean cereal
21 g Nutlettes cereal
100g frozen blackberries (part of last summer's bumper crop at the CSA farm)

(around 10am)
280 g of fresh apple - a Crispin I picked out at the Red Jacket outlet in town
Whey shake:
- 28 g body fortress whey powder
- 9 g wheat bran
- 6 g ground psyllium husk
- 187 g nonfat skim milk
- a few drops of anise flavoring

(around noon)
170 g frozen chicken breast thawed in microwave and grilled in toaster oven with herbs and garlic
Microwaved Vegetables with Feta
- 247 g Schwans frozen California vegetable blend
- 250 g fresh baby carrots
- 87 g fat free feta cheese crumbled with herbs and sprinkled over the veggies

(around 2pm)
omega capsules
500 mg vitamin C
glucosamine & chondroitin caplet

Midafternoon (around 3pm)
80 g of fresh orange - a honey tangerine from Wegmans
Whey shake:
- 28 g optimum nutrition chocolate whey powder
- 9 g wheat bran
- 6 g ground psyllium husk
- 185 g nonfat skim milk
- a few drops of creme de menthe flavoring

(after workout, around 6pm)
Whey shake:
- 28 g syntrax nectar whey powder
- 9 g wheat bran
- 6 g ground psyllium husk
- approx 1 c water

Throughout the day, cinnamon citrus herbal tea - some is Good Earth brand, and some is homemade - here's the recipe:

(today I skipped the lime tea and threw in all of the orange and tangerine peels I sliced and dried throughout the week)

1514 calories total
(not including the trace calories from the herb tea)

173 g carbs (98 g sugar, 59 g fiber)
192 g protein
13 g fat
240 mg cholesterol
1471 g sodium

The workout today will be about 15-20 min of warmup on some machine - arc trainer, erg, etc. followed by having my butt kicked in strength training by my trainer at the Y, Tiffany. Who at 4'9" weighs about 98 lbs (OK, actually 120 but it LOOKS like 98) and can outlift me, which drives me nuts. LOL

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHANGEDIN09 2/13/2010 2:22PM

    Thanks for sharing. This is always interesting to read. Is there a reason for the protein shake at dinner rather than having a lean protein "real meal" just wondering about that. I get tired of so many shakes. One protein shake a day is all I can handle. Thanks for the inspirational blog.

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SPARKLOVE 2/13/2010 1:43PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

On Valentineís Day, we think of people
who have cheered and encouraged us,
who go out of their way
to be kind and caring,
who have enriched our lives
just by being themselves.
You are such a person.
Iím so happy youíre my Friend.
Happy Valentineís Day!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MSRIP3 2/12/2010 9:57PM

    I tried Fage the other day and it was definitely NOT love at first bite. Any ideas on ways to make it more tolerable? I mixed it with a little granola and peaches. On another note I just signed up for the veggie CSA through Full Plate and I can't wait for fresh veggies all summer!

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CARRIE1948 2/12/2010 3:26PM

    I can't wait to be able to increase my eating. But, bumping up my protein to 100 g a day is busting thru the plateau.

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Using the Hacker's Diet for maintenance

Thursday, January 28, 2010

While Spark People is a fantastic site for LOSING weight, it has some way to go before it's equally good at supporting MAINTAINING weight.

Here's an example:

Here's a graph of my weight for the past week:

The points on the tips of the green and red shaded areas are my daily weight entries. The red area means that for that day, or period of days, my daily weight entries were above the blue trend line. The green area means that for that day, or period of days, my daily weight entries were below the blue trend line.

My blue trend line weight has changed almost not at all, while I've fluctuated around it with some red and some green areas. This is what maintenance looks like.

Those "losses" in the green areas are the ones people are seeing on my friend feed. You don't see the gains on a feed, so although I'm gaining and losing the same 1-2 pounds over time (which is the definition of maintenance), it looks to my friends as if I'm still losing.

In fact, DDOORN actually commented on my feed this morning and asked why I was still losing weight when I'd said I was pretty much in maintenance mode.

What maintainers need is a feed that says "X MAINTAINED his/her weight for a week!" Or something like that.

And as I've suggested before, we could really use a weight average graph line like this over here at SP. It's not so necessary for loss mode, but very very valuable for maintenance mode, because the two cornerstones of maintenance are:

1) Frequent monitoring
2) Immediate correction

Without an averaging trend line, the monitoring is pretty much useless in the face of daily fluctuations.

Weighing once a week still does not average out whatever fluctuation you might be experiencing on the particular day that you decide to weigh yourself, so it will look pretty much the same as this, once you're maintaining.

By the time you discover you're outside the normal fluctuations, you've got a substantial 5 lbs or so to re-lose.

This is why I log my numbers using a weighted moving average.

Which is based on the Hacker's Diet. Here is a detailed explanation of how the weight graphing works. Follow this link and scroll down until you get to the part that says "Dexter's Diet."

I also use True Weight on my iPod, which is similar.

To learn more about the Hacker's Diet, you can visit the team page:

The basic principle is to watch your weight TREND LINE rather than the raw data and adjust your exercise and calorie intake to control it.

The good news is that with sites like physicsdiet.com you don't need to understand the calculations; all you have to do is put in your daily numbers and the website will do the magic for you, and leave you free to just watch your blue trend line.

I think, in order to prevent confusing my friends anymore, until something more appropriate for maintenance is implemented here, I'm going to start reporting the TREND LINE weight here instead of the actual raw numbers.

The past few weeks have been kind of scary, after getting the news that I'm at 19% body fat. I eased up on my calorie restriction. The trend went up. I clamped back down on it a bit. The trend went down.

In fact, I'm kind of stunned about the SHAPE of my weight curve:

From the looks of it, I'd say that I'm actually doing pretty well at maintaining, so far! :-o

I'm going to gradually ease that average line down to 150 and see how that feels.

I'm actually kind of amazed by how CONSISTENT the curve is. It's a fairly straight line down to 157 and then just STOPS there. Like someone drew it on there, not like someone actually LIVED that line...

But she did. And she freaked out and panicked a few times, and binged BY A LOT a few times, and generally sweated it.

It sure didn't FEEL like I had any control, really, at all... That I was doing this out there without a net.

But I'll tell you what. I lost weight by living by numbers, and it sure seems like I can maintain it by living by numbers. So I suppose my iPod calorie tracker (Lean Me Pro) and bathroom scale ARE my net, at the moment...

And the proper software for interpreting the results.

See SEEBEES3's blog for a more statistically robust monitoring system:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOOKWORM27S 6/27/2011 10:47AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SANDRAHUGHES 2/8/2010 12:58PM

    Thank you for the tools listed here. Maintenance is a really difficult aspect of lifestyle changes. I lost all my weight 2 years ago, and now I have 6 pounds to lose AGAIN. Not too bad, but it's still frustrating and scary.

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SEEBEES3 2/2/2010 12:01AM

    Thanks for the links. I have a statistics background so I have a problem with using only trendlines only as triggers though it is definitely better than nothing. Unfortunately I haven't found any online weight loss site using really solid statistical modeling and controls yet.

The good news is for maintenance you can do this off line if you are an Excel or spreadsheet user. (Or you can use a statistical analysis package if you really want to.)

First maintain your weight for 60 days and weigh daily. Once you have that data:

Calculate the Mean [=average(cell1:cell60)] and the Standard Deviation [=stddev(cell1:cell60)] And check yourself. The Mean should be where you want to stay.

Then set yourself up an upper and lower control limit
Upper = average + 3 * Stddev
Lower = average - 3 * Stddev

And a upper and lower warning limit

Upper = average + 2 * Stddev
Lower = average - 2 * Stddev

And plot your weight. If you have the following happen find out what went wrong and correct:
1 point outside the control limits
2 out of 3 points outside the warning limits
8 points above/below the mean
6 points rising or falling

The standard deviation should be recalculated every 2 months and checked to the old standard deviation and if the new standard deviation is half the old one or smaller then new limits should be recalculated.

Okay I'll stop Geeking now :0P

Edited to add: This works for weight, calorie intake, calories expended, calorie deficit, etc. as long as it is Maintenance.

Comment edited on: 2/2/2010 12:49:01 AM

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DACIUS 2/1/2010 2:23PM

    Love the website. Looks to be very intuitive, especially with how is graphs your data and allows you to trend your data.

Cool stuff.

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GEE-KNEE 2/1/2010 9:20AM

    I so glad you post all this stuff. You are going to have all my maintenance questions answered before I even get there. Thanks you.

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RENA1965 1/31/2010 10:26AM

    I agree with you on the maintaince issue- I will be looking at the sites you recommend..

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VARMINT3 1/29/2010 9:04PM

    I have tried the hackers diet and it makes logical sense to me but I am too much of a space cadet to remember to weigh daily (at least, in the morning after I pee & before I put on any clothes) - usually by the time I remember it's right after I eat the biggest meal of the day, or when I am nowhere near a scale or something like that!

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CARRIE1948 1/29/2010 6:45AM

    I need Hacker's Diet to just get through the last 20 pounds. If it weren't for that, I'd go nuts with the daily ups and downs

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STEVIECAT4 1/29/2010 5:49AM

    I feel so stupid saying this, but I don't understand a word of it!!! I'm such a dork!! All I do know is that I'm doing the same thing weight wise as you are only it's because I'm not trying hard enough. You on the other hand work out like a pro and do all the right things. I know this blog somehow explains it but it's too complicated for my pea brain to disseminate the info.

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DUTCHIEKIWI 1/28/2010 11:16PM

    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and experience!



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_MAOMAO_ 1/28/2010 9:36PM

  Yes, this stuff needs to be tweaked. I know it will be. It's neat that you have friends that pay attention and care about you who will say, hey, why are you losing weight if you don't need to anymore?

When I check the report on my weight progress here at Spark, my focus is on the direction of my graph. Years ago I went through a phase of weigh myself every day. It was really good for me, I learned to not worry about those little fluctuations.


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DDOORN 1/28/2010 4:32PM

    You have certainly accomplished amazing things with the numbers...!

Maintenance strategies are going to be VERY important...especially as more and more of us are going to arrive at our goal weights and NEVER want to see those extra pounds again!


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TELERIE 1/28/2010 4:07PM

    I'm so glad you told me about physicsdiet.com. I went there and plotted my whole weight loss journey into the site and my graph is a bit wobblier than yours, but I'm really happy to see that trend line nudging down. Still need to read more about Hacker's diet, but I'll get there and I think you're right about it being excellent for maintainance mode. YOU are a star!!!

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How I survived a 12-day business trip without gaining weight - and in fact, losing some!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Travel while managing weight is tough for me. My fitness and food routines are disrupted, colleagues always want to meet over food, and conference food options are usually very unhealthy, at best.

Fitness is particularly a problem while traveling because with my arthritic knee I can't walk or run for exercise (the knee starts complaining after only a couple of miles of walking and then stiffens up and acts grouchy the next day). So getting a calorie burn away from home is more complicated than just throwing running clothes and shoes in my suitcase.

I have had several trips this past autumn and always managed to gain at least 6 lbs, even when I wrote everything I ate down and put it in the tracker when I got back, even when I exercised every day that I could.

So, after losing about 10 lbs over the holidays, I was TERRIFIED that I'd gain it all back during a business trip in January. 10 days plus a 3-day weekend is a long time to be without the comfortable routines that keep me on track.

I pulled out all the stops and used as much creativity and planning as I could muster for this trip, and it paid off. I actually managed to LOSE some weight while away.

Here's a list of all the things I did; before and during the trip.


1) Bought an 8G iPod Touch, bought the standalone (offline) "Lean Me Pro" app and started tracking my nutrients on it and working out the kinks beforehand.

I've heard good things about free "Lose It!" but I like weighing my food in grams, so I opted for $20 "Lean Me Pro." This meant abandoning the SP nutrition tracker, because even the iPod version does not work offline. I might have used the spark mobile interface instead if my TracFone allowed me access to the internet (it only allows access to TracFone sites). The iPod cost less than $200 and given how much ELSE I've spent on this project, it seemed worth the money.

I also bought "True Weight" (it has a free version too, but I wanted the ability to archive my data).


Lean Me Pro

Lose It!

True Weight

2) Used Google Map to search for gyms near my hotel(s). The day before leaving I signed up for a free trial membership at some of them. (You have to do this close to the travel date because otherwise they expire before you actually get there.) I downloaded the fitness class schedules for each of them.

This was especially important because the hotel where I'd be staying most of the time has a really pitiful "fitness center" as part of their "spa" that you have to pay extra to use.

It was also important because internet access is sketchy in the rooms, and I didn't want to have to pack or buy weights and a stability ball to work out in the room.

3) Packed all the necessary fitness gear: gym shoes, SPD spinning shoes, iPod arm harness & headphones, underwater SwiMP3 player, swimsuit, goggles, bike shorts, workout clothes, sport bras, water bottle, etc.

4) Packed sufficient protein bars & water-based whey shakes (Syntrax nectar), bran, and psyllium to feed myself when there weren't healthier meals available.

5) Packed a selection of herbal teas, TrueLemon, TrueLime, TrueOrange, and pepper packets for seasoning water and meals. I like to have a cup of herbal tea at the end of a meal when others are indulging in desserts. Most restaurants are happy to supply a cup of hot water and charge you for "tea" even if you bring your own.

6) Packed some envelopes of light tuna in water for emergency protein.

7) Removed the batteries and carefully packed my Tanita body fat bathroom scale in the middle of the clothes in my suitcase.

8) I should probably mention that I always carry a small food scale in my purse. I used it a lot on this trip, both at restaurants and for weighing out whey shake ingredients, etc.


1) Made my rounds of the local gyms and got the tour and passes, class schedules, etc.

2) Hit the local Target/Walmart and grocery stores for more tuna packets (these became essential for eating at restaurants), protein bars, and canned protein drinks. After looking at the labels I discovered that Pure Protein brand has some pretty low-calorie, high-protein products. It's probably the best thing I've seen out there on retail shelves. (I usually buy my supplements online.)

Also bought spritzer-type salad dressings, Kashi GOLEAN (I would have been better off bringing my soy-based cereals, oh well), and individual nonfat Greek yogurts (FAGE 0% is a good standby. Discovered Voskos out there, which has even MORE protein.)

Bought swimmer's shampoo & conditioner and a swim cap (that I somehow forgot to pack) - I couldn't find Ultra Swim so I went with the Loreal kids "swim & sport" shampoo and conditioner, and they seemed to de-chlorinate just fine.

3) PLANNED out my exercise for the next few days, fitting in swimming, spinning classes, etc. around my conference responsibilities. In most cases this meant switching from my customary nighttime exercise schedule to an early-morning one.

4) Once I knew my exercise schedule, I could plan out my food. (Lean Me Pro takes into account exercise when calculating the daily calorie quota.)

5) At most restaurants I shamelessly played the "I've lost 180 lbs" card and got them to bring me custom salad ingredients. In some cases they had suitable protein like steamed shrimp or sashimi. In other cases I added my own tuna. In all cases I used my own dressing.

My companions and servers were all supportive and helpful about it. Not one complained or sneered or acted put out with all my weighing and tracking, as I'd been afraid they might. I didn't even have to flash my "before" picture for all of them (I put it on my iPod just in case).

6) At night in the customary after-dinner room parties I brought my herb teas and indulged in them while everyone else drank alcohol. I used the in-room coffee maker for hot water (just ran a few pots through at the beginning to rinse most of the coffee and caffeine flavor out). I was perfectly content as long as I had something tasty in my hand to sip.

Since they are an indulgence, my rule with these teas is that I can have as many as I want, and I never have to re-use a bag unless I want to. I even have a special "tea squeezer" to get all the flavor out. And yes, I brought it. LOL

7) During travel and during the conference if I wanted something to snack on during a boring talk and didn't have water handy (to which I added the TrueCitrus packets), I'd have a stick of sugarless gum (and track it).

8) I washed my workout gear lightly with shampoo while showering in the room after each fitness episode and hung it up on the shower rod or rolled it in a dry bath towel to wring most of the water out.

9) I tracked my weight and percent body fat on my scale every morning and logged it in "True Weight" and "Lean Me Pro" on my iPod.


Here are the numbers:

January 8, 2010
157.8 lbs
(159.61 average according to physicsdiet.com)

27.2% body fat
(29.64% average according to physicsdiet.com)

January 20, 2010
157.4 lbs
(157.66 average according to physicsdiet.com)

22.6% body fat
(25.01% average according to physicsdiet.com)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IZADORA 2/17/2011 2:11AM

    What great ideas! Way to plan ahead!

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DOREEN1562 6/17/2010 8:45AM

  Thanks for some great ideas. I'm getting ready to take a business trip to Vegas and I've already been warned by my co-workers that all they do is the buffets. I'm already planning out my menus..guess it'll be fruit and veggies for the most part. I already planned to bring protein bars for breakfast, and salad spritzer as you suggested. Wish me luck!

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    What an amazing job planning everything. Its truly a show of dedication that I aspire to. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your journey and experience. emoticon

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THINWITHIN18 2/17/2010 11:38PM

    That was a very inspirational blog: thanks for the tips and for giving us all a model for good planning and healthy living.

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CHANGEDIN09 2/1/2010 9:47PM

    This is JUST what I needed. I just accepted a new job and will be gone for two weeks of training. Just found out they do NOT have a fitness center at the hotel. I can't believe it. But I love the idea about the free passes at local places. These were all great ideas. CONGRATS on your huge success . You are an inspiration.

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KARENE10 1/28/2010 9:15AM

    You are one dedicated lady! emoticon

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S318830 1/27/2010 1:16PM

    Nice job! I like the tea idea.

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TIOGA123 1/25/2010 4:18PM

    Great job!!! emoticon

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ABBYLU 1/24/2010 10:06PM

    Wow, what great info! I just looked at your pics~your journey is simply amazing. Thanks for sharing!

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WALKWITME 1/23/2010 10:49AM

    You Have Done It Again My emoticon

You are Dedicated !

As Always, I'm Proud Of You

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/23/2010 10:55:56 AM

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TRAVELINGIRL68 1/23/2010 9:55AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this - I too have to travel for work and it has tripped me up in the past, this was really helpful and inspirational!! emoticon

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ZESTYLADY 1/22/2010 6:34PM

    Okay...you just made it really hard for the rest of us to find some excuses about why we did not do what we needed to do! Sheesh! Thanks a lot! LOL.

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CARRIE1948 1/22/2010 9:19AM

    Planning really does work. I wasn't nearly so creative when I went to England, but I managed to lose .8 pounds and go to high tea

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LAFTERSFREE 1/21/2010 9:30PM

    im totally impressed. I have a 5 day conference coming up and I dont know if i could ever be as committed as you were. that is definitely awesome!!! i do have some things in mind to make sure I stay focused on fitness, and thanks so much for sharing the details of your preparations and planning, i'll be keeping these in mind.

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JHADZHIA 1/21/2010 8:09PM

    Wow that is mind-boggling! All that stuff to pack too. I was wishing I had brought my meal replacement shakes and protein supplements with me on a recent vacation -I gained 9 lbs when I went from an all raw fruit and veggie diet to high carb blow out (my relatives choice of places -McDonalds, burger places and Ihop). I can't afford all the high tech stuff, don't even have a cell phone. No access to the internet. In Canada lots of hotels provide free access to the internet, they call them business centers. I wish the US would learn this hospitality. Love the idea of taking out trial membership at gyms -good one! I did find a Curves, but it was an hour commute every time I went.
Good for you finding a solution that works for you!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FRECKS96 1/21/2010 6:28PM

    That's fabulous! Congrats!!

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PUDDLE_JUMPER 1/21/2010 5:39PM

    WOW!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 1/21/2010 5:00PM

    Brilliant! What a great example. I'm going away overnight tomorrow and was just thinking about emergency food, etc. but you've taken the planning to a whole new level. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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ALYFITN 1/21/2010 3:22PM

    This is exactly why I subscribe to your blog. Lot's of great ideas here. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! emoticon

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TURBOAMIE 1/21/2010 3:06PM

    wow - great detailed plan and I am IMPRESSED about doing this while traveling. I used to travel a lot too and that's when I got my heaviest. I wish I would have had this back then :)

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NANCERELLA 1/21/2010 2:59PM

    Wow, you really put a lot of thought into this. I am impressed. I will use these tips for my next out of town trip. emoticon

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SUNSHINENHOPE 1/21/2010 2:40PM

    you have really taken it to a whole 'nother level!!!! I never thought about asking for a trial membership to a gym in a town where I will be attending a conference. Great idea!! Your planning paid off and I am so impressed and inspired by it!

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TIKITAMI 1/21/2010 2:39PM

    You are my HERO!!

I'm on day 4 of a 21 day business trip in Manila, you are really inspiring me to keep on track. Like you I packed a lot of foods and items to help me stay focused. The one great thing I can say about this trip is that I'm 3 blocks away from a great market with tons of precut fresh fruits and veggies.

Congratulations on getting through your trip, I know how hard that can be. emoticon

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TELERIE 1/21/2010 2:12PM

    Woohoo! So impressed with all the preparations and sticking to your tracking. I often guesstimate at restaurants. Perhaps a mini food scale would be good.

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DDOORN 1/21/2010 1:58PM

    Wow...talk about SUPER prepared! Building success right into your travels...! Way to GO! :-)


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    Great job!

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Wild Animal sPark Rally

Monday, January 18, 2010

Met up with Deb (S318830) and her kids at the Wild Animal Park this morning, saw a giraffe tussling with a big antelope from the tram, watched gibbons, watched human children, and finally took a photo at the "park" her kids like.

Pictured (from left to right):
4A-HEALTHY-BMI, HAVASUROSE, their sister, S318830, and her two kids.

Afterward my two sisters and I did some more consignment store shopping, investigated a Carhart retailer (for our sister who needs work pants with lots of pockets), and a Chico's where some of us got shells on sale. Then we had dinner with HAVASUROSE's friend Dotty (and her daughter and granddaughter) at Soup Plantation, shipped a 20x20x20 box of clothes to NY via FedEx, and did cardio in the hotel fitness room for an hour.

Now we're wrapping up the evening in the hotel room with some wine (yes, mine is measured out, LOL) and logging stuff on our computers and checking email, etc.

They will drive home tomorrow and I will move to a hotel downtown tomorrow night and fly home on Tuesday. Back to the Land of Cold.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

S318830 1/27/2010 1:17PM

    LOL! So exactly how many times did you guys wind up eating at Soup Plantation that trip? My mental count is about 5, right?

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PUDDLE_JUMPER 1/19/2010 12:11AM

    What a blast!!! emoticon

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TELERIE 1/18/2010 6:11PM

    Sounds like a lovely day! Enjoy and have lots of fun!!

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    Looks like you had loads of fun! Glad to see you are enjoying life to the fullest!


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DDOORN 1/18/2010 5:39AM

    Well...we had ONE day that wasn't cold...I remember it fondly...lol!

Looking like a lot more fun! Soak it up so it can tide you through till Spring...! :-)


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BAYSIDE07 1/18/2010 4:13AM


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