Monday, August 22, 2011
I recently volunteered to be a sherpa. Not for the Alps (I wish). This type of sherpa carries a disabled "runner" along trails in a Trailrunner, designed by the Mayor of Vancouver who is himself a paraplegic.
(I'm at the front of the Trailrunner in the white top).
The experience was great and my team even ended up in the city paper. But, the coolest part was meeting Margaret. She is a C6-7 quadriplegic who injured herself at age 16 during a gymnastics stunt. She's in her 30s now, holds a Master's Degree, volunteers with a number of organizations like the Rick Mercer Foundation, and has an indomitable spirit.
I volunteered to be a sherpa because I love the outdoors, especially running trails, and thought that if I couldn't do it without someone's help...well, I wanted to give what I would want to get. We're running every week to train for a trail race in September. What a great incentive to stay in shape.
(I'm wearing the VFFs - barefoot shoes)
Monday, August 15, 2011
For those who haven't heard of the National Weight Control Registry, this study group was started in 1994 to study individuals who are able to lose weight and keep it off for 5 years or more. While it used to be believed that only 5% would be successful, this long-term study has shown that as many as 20% of those who start losing weight will have kept the weight off. So, what are the keys to their success? Here are some findings:
* 80% of persons in the registry are women and 20% are men.
* The "average" woman is 45 years of age and currently weighs 145 lbs, while the "average" man is 49 years of age and currently weighs 190 lbs.
* Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
* These averages, however, hide a lot of diversity:
* Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
* Duration of successful weight loss has ranged from 1 year to 66 years!
* Some have lost the weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly--over as many as 14 years.
* We have also started to learn about how the weight loss was accomplished: 45% of registry participants lost the weight on their own and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.
* 98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight.
* 94% increased their physical activity, with the most frequently reported form of activity being walking.
* There is variety in how NWCR members keep the weight off. Most report continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and doing high levels of activity.
* 78% eat breakfast every day.
* 75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
* 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
* 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.
I'm hoping to learn from these individuals in order to experience my own long-term weight loss success. I still need to get to goal but I'm going strong after 4+ years and I plan on joining the 5-year group in January 2012.
Monday, August 15, 2011
This year, 2011, has been a challenging one for weight loss. I've been reflecting and hoping to find some insight into why. What was I doing before that's changed? What needs to change that hasn't already?
There are two things that I've observed. More observations may arise as I find more insight, but for now, I think these two things are helpful:
The first is that I've cut back on my running. It's summer and I've been bike commuting, which is great. But for some reason, running really kicks the fat off me. I'm still running 1-2x per week, but nothing like the distances and times I was doing before. So, I'm still enjoying my bike commutes and I've only got a couple months left of good biking weather. But, I'm thinking that I'll increase my runs to 3x per week.
The second observation is that I've started drinking diet pop again. I stopped cold turkey in 2007 and didn't touch the stuff again until last winter. It crept in slowly until I was up to one can per day, almost every day.
So, how can a calorie-free drink make me gain? I knew it could but I didn't remember why, until I was watching a Dr. Oz show where they featured diet soda. A woman talked about kicking the diet soda habit and losing 10 pounds in one month. She said that junk food doesn't taste as good with water, and that a lot of foods she craved after drinking diet pop were unhealthy food choices. Hmmm, interesting. So, I did a little research and here's what I found.
In LiveStrong.com, an article stated that "diet soda contains fewer calories than regular soda does. However, drinking diet may also result in weight gain because consuming artificial sweeteners may lead to sugar cravings and further poor dietary choices, according to MayoClinic.com."
I think there's merit in this finding. I don't actually find that my cravings go down, and my biggest problem since drinking diet soda again is that I've increased my consumption of chocolate and chips. Plus, for the first time in 4 years, I've been craving french fries again! With a diet coke please.
I'm on Day 3 of no sodas (diet or otherwise) again and I'm hoping that this tweaking will be the difference I need. Not to say that I couldn't improve other areas, but I'm finding my cravings are already improving. I'm going to observe the results this month and see if I may be onto something.
Monday, August 01, 2011
I've been losing weight since 2007...sloooowwwwwly. So slowly. It seems that about once a year, I have a small gain and then there is a few months a year that I have some really consistent weight loss, and the rest of each year seems to be a balancing act of practicing the right habits and meeting exercise goals.
In 2009, I started following a sparkfriend who really inspired me. Boy, we need those success stories, especially when we're struggling. It was just amazing to me to see someone lose 80 pounds in a year. She got down to 125 pounds from almost 200 pounds. I started at 181 pounds and my goal is 115 pounds (I'm short), so I was keen to see how she achieved similar goals. Even though I was uber impressed with what she accomplished, a part of me was wondering why I couldn't just focus intensively for a short period of time and get to maintenance.
I was particularly impressed with this sparkfriend's running successes as a result of getting in shape. Exercise has been a major component of my weightloss journey, and running has helped me set and stick to goals along the way. Her running 10K times were so impressive and she seemed to be doing more and better all the time.
I recently caught up on her blogs for 2010, and this is where my heart breaks. She got a running injury, then another, then surgery...twice. No exercise at all. 80 pounds re-gained in less than a year. I could just feel her frustration and I was so discouraged for her!!
What's great is that she's still here and still focused. Now, that's determination. But man, what a tough journey!!
So, I thought to myself, yep, I still need to lose 30 pounds. Yep, I'm on year 4. Nope, haven't yet tasted goal. But, no major gains, no major set-backs. I've had an over-training injury but caught it in time to listen to my body and plan for a full recovery while I scaled back my running and focused on cross-training. I've never stopped exercising or doing a lot of other "right" habits, even though I still struggle with bad habits. I've adjusted calorie intake where calorie output wasn't as high and made lots of incremental shifts aong the way.
So, here's what I've accomplished at 40 pounds of losing weight over 4 years. I've stuck out this journey of life change through 4 years of Christmas celebrations (we all know how hard that time of year can be), I've finished a very stressful full-time university degree and started a full-time career path during that time, I've seen my girls grow from infants to school-age bundles of energy, our home has added a cat and a dog, money issues have gone up and down and up and down in the roller coaster of raising a young family, me and dh are consistently taking the time for each other that we need, I've run a couple half-marathons, a full marathon, and most importantly, I've been able to finish training for these events and adjust my calories back to a "normal" range. And finally, even with the little gains that seem to show up once a year, I've consistently lost more than I've gained, and I continue to increase my overall fitness that challenges me to keep moving forward.
My goal right now is to really enjoy the journey. Embrace it. Today is mine. Every choice I make at this weight is the only day I have. Every step toward a healthier me doesn't take away from the success of today. The last 4 years have been so enjoyable and successful. Just because I haven't reached goal is surprisingly beside the point. So, I don't intend to regret where I'm not yet when I have so much to celebrate today.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
As part of my current SP challenge, I've been doing some serious label-reading. I've been a label-reader for years so I didn't think there'd be much to discover. However, I decided to take the challenge to a new level and find out what the labels in certain foods actually means.
Yesterday, I read cereal labels. Okay, I was seriously shocked at how many ingredients are in what I thought was healthy eating. We only buy high-fiber, "healthy" cereals. But, I read somewhere that any food with 5 or more ingredients is a processed food. Well, I was amazed at the number of ingredients in cereal, including words I couldn't spell. Never a good sign.
Dr. Oz said that we should avoid foods with sugar in the first 5 ingredients. Again, I was shocked at how many "healthy" cereals had sugar listed in their top 5 ingredients, another warning sign.
So, I took my label reading a step further and did some research on the history of cereal. I found the best best summary of my findings in the following article, which is primarily derived from Felicity Lawrence's book, "Eat Your Heart Out":
Essentially, the article says, yes, cereal is highly processed. In fact, that's why it was developed: To create a packaged and ready-to-eat, highly marketed breakfast product whose primary value is its ability to line the pockets of its manufacturers. Sales of cereal have increased every year since its introduction in the early 1900s. Wow.
One of the most fascinating parts of this article is where it talks about our modern technology's ability to fortify cereals with ingredients lost during processing. However, this process creates a chemical, "Acrylamide", that in 2006 was found to be directly linked to cancer in humans. Yikes!
So, I've learned a lot, especially about my own mistaken beliefs around foods. Marketing really impacts us; it's hard to remember to put on my thinking cap and ask myself, "Is this really good for me, just because it's packaged to sound that way?"
Next question: What will I have for breakfast today??
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