Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Now that I've been going to Weight Watchers for 2 1/2 months, it really has become a lifestyle for me. I've tracked my food/points every single day since and it isn't a drudgery like tracking used to be for me. I actually enjoy it because it lets me know meal-to-meal and day-by-day that Iím staying on track and can expect to see pounds and inches disappear each week/month. I prefer fresh, natural, made from scratch foods. I am starting to prefer the taste of vegetarian meals and vegan desserts. I love to cook and bake and have acquired a nice collection of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks. I try at least one or more new recipes each week and am building up my repertoire of go-to healthy meals and treats.
Iím starting to learn the art of balance and moderation. I havenít given up desserts, but I am more choosey. Since I donít have desserts every single day, when I do itís something really, really good and homemade with fresh ingredients. Whenever I used to go out to eat or to a special occasion that involved a lot of food, Iíd get huge anxiety about it. Iíd freak out about indulging in these luscious foods and it would negatively affect the rest of the entire week. Now I make sure to eat with awareness and thoroughly enjoy the special meal or dessert. Then I compensateÖI eat less the remainder of the dayÖor I eat less the next dayÖor I take an extra walk/work in the garden/etc. to burn off the extra calories. It all balances out. Itís the stinkiní thinkiní that youíve blown it that makes you go off course. There really is no forbidden foods, just bad habit patterns that come out of wrong thinking.
I find that I am making much better choices and food is not ďthe main eventĒ in my life at this time. Last Saturday we went to my grandson's baseball game and out for lunch afterwards. I chose to have a veggie burger and NO FRIES and water to drink. I didn't feel deprived at all. I was very satisfied when I finished. Those other foods are just eye candy...they may look and smell good, but your body doesn't really need or want them. My enjoyment was being with my stepdaughter, son-in-law and grandsons, not the food I was eating.
This new way of life is working beautifully for me. I can honestly say that what I am doing right now is something I can and intend to do for the rest of my life. After an initial loss of 5 lbs. the first week, I've been averaging 2 lbs/week. At 11 weeks, I've lost a total of 28 lbs. I was in a size 18 jean and am now fitting comfortably in a size 14. The best outcome of all is that I feel more energetic and stronger.
Another major accomplishment for me happened last week. It's truly been the week from hell for me. I feel like I've visited the dark side of my life and am so grateful that I made it out the other end, back into the light. Mother's Day is always very difficult for me because I did not have children and have always wanted them. This year was the hardest yet in dealing with the loss and emptiness. I suffered through some extremely painful thoughts and emotions. It was pure agony, but never once did I turn to food. Food had always been my drug. I used it as comfort and to numb my feelings. Because I did not emotionally eat this time, I think the feelings ran even deeper than I felt like I could cope with. But instead of caving in and going into my usual food stupor, I found myself opening up to my husband. To my surprise, he was more supportive than I could have ever imagined. He sat and listened to what I was saying and actually had some very profound statements to offer that helped. I know that sitting there with me at that time was hard for him, because he canít bear to see me sobbing and tries to avoid discussing emotions at all cost. Throughout the week I still had my ups and downs with my feelings. But I worked it out. I came to some pretty amazing revelations and know now that I have a lot to be thankful for.
There are things that happened many years ago that I canít go back and re-do. I made mistakes because at the time I didnít know any better. But there are blessings I have today, staring me right in the face, that I have ignored because I was blinded by regrets and what might have been. Iím still working on making peace with it and coming to complete acceptance. I know I am moving forward because I have had some gut-wrenching days and nights of confronting my demons and I survived it. I survived it without going on a food binge and Iím still alive to talk about it!
Better days are ahead and Iím so grateful for it.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
There are certain foods that are triggers and I'm better off to make a different, more benign, selection than risk an overeating episode.
There are certain places that are triggers and it's too much of a test of willpower and strength of focus to be faced with. One of those places for me is the Chinese buffet.
DH wanted to go out to eat last night and I succumbed to his suggestion of one of our favorite Chinese buffets. They have a hibachi chef who cooks up an array of items you choose. I think it's a bit better than the pre-made entrees. It's fresh, hot, and you choose the sauces too so hopefully less MSG. Even though I chose mostly vegetables, I know that I overindulged. I have a weakness for those fried wontons filled with a cream cheese mixture. I had to "sample" a few of the little desserts to have with my hot tea.
Too much foood! And even after I was psyched when I had tried on a pair of jeans that I had not been able to wear for a couple of years. No more 18's! This pair of 16's zipped up, buttoned easily, and fit perfectly. The fact that these jeans didn't have any give in them (like the stretch jeans I used to wear) didn't even deter me from eating too much. When I got in the car, the first thing I did was unbutton them and unzip the zipper halfway. AGH! I hate that feeling!!!!!!
I'm doing WW, so I just guessed and estimated that I probably ate 20 pts. at that meal. So I don't feel like it's a total blow-out because I used my 35 weekly pts. to cover it - now I'm down to 1.5 weeklies left and I have 3 more days before I weigh in. If I refresh my resolve and don't go over my daily allotment, I should still hopefully lose, even if it's a small amount.
Of course, today my sister is coming over and we're going out to eat at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca. At least they have an asssortment of delicious vegetarian/vegan entrees. My sister recently was diagnosed with diabetes and has to take injections right now to get her sugar down to normal levels. So I won't be tempted to have dessert since she can't.
The thing is, I'm only 2.4 lbs. away from achieving a goal of losing 10% of my original weight. I am dissappointed that I didn't keep that in the front of my mind last night. I could've done better and I have to expect more out of myself. It does not feel good to overindulge and I have to remember that feeling BEFORE I do it.
One real positive is that I am walking every day 4.7 miles in 1 hour, 12-13 minutes. I had to stop wearing my heart monitor because it was giving me an awful heat rash in this warmer weather. But when I was wearing it, this walk burned off around 400 calories.
I know I can still salvage the rest of the week and maybe I won't get my 10% award (WW gives you a key ring), but this is real life and I'm learning how to roll with the punches and get back up immediately to continue on and feel proud.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Warning, this is a long blog. But Iíve thought a lot about this issue and feel like Iíve had some major breakthroughs. I can feel a shift in my thinking, and this time I think itís for real.
Iíll get to me in a bit, but first I want to talk about my brother because heís been a real inspiration to me, and yet heís also an example of the grim reality of dieting.
In October of 2008 my brother Jim reached a major goal of losing 100 pounds. He lives near Atlanta and was using a local doctor-supervised program there, Dramatic Weight Loss Center. In fact, he is featured on their web site and you can see him and hear him speak about the program: http://www.dramaticweightloss.com/success.
His physical transformation was amazing. His enthusiasm and happiness over reaching this milestone was tremendously motivating. He was able to get off his blood pressure meds and maintain a healthy blood pressure without them.
In June of 2009, my husband and I took a trip to Georgia and spent a week visiting with Jim and his family. He was on maintenance and still looked great. He said he had put back on about 10 pounds, but apparently that is typical on the maintenance program where you are still working on finding your right balance. But what struck me is how many snack foods had crept into his daily eating. His words the year before still rang in my ears: ďThis is my new life and I donít miss those old foods that caused me to put on weight. Iíve lost and regained so many times before, and now Iím not going back to eating those foods again.Ē Itís so easy to forget those words once you have lost the weight. There seems to be a switch in your thought process that makes you think you can handle these foods now without allowing it to get out of control. Thatís just plain and simple erroneous, deceptive thinking for a person who has an eating disorder.
I just heard from my sister that Jim had spoken to my nephew (her son) and shared with him that heís now gained back 40 lbs. and was just at the doctorís office getting a prescription for high blood pressure medicine. My heart sank when I heard this. Almost half of what he lost has returned a year later. Can he stop this now and get back to his goal again? I hope and pray he can. Statistics show that only 10 percent of people who successfully lose weight go on to successfully keep that weight off for one year or more. I so much wanted my brother to be in that small percentile of people who were able to keep the weight off. Itís the biggest nation-wide problem and now the largest contributor to early death. According to WikiAnswers, 64% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.
I almost feel like a professional dieter. Iíve lost anywhere from 20-60 lbs. numerous times in my life. I lost 63 lbs. on The Diet Workshop in 1980 (from 223 to 160). I lost 25 lbs. in 6 weeks at The Diet Center in 1988 (from 200 to 175). I white-knuckle strict dieted myself from 190 lbs. to 177 lbs. for my wedding in December 1990. I was on Jenny Craig in 1999 and lost 56 lbs. (from 223 to 167). I joined Weight Watchers numerous times throughout the years and always lost while going. I even did WW online-only from Feb to May 2002 and lost 28 lbs. (from 211 to 183). I even tried acupuncture in 2003, but the only thing I lost was A LOT of money. I started SparkPeople on March 1, 2007 and lost 38 lbs. by October 1, 2007 (from 213 to 175). You guessed it, I was back up to 215 lbs. earlier this year.
Iíve now rejoined Weight Watchers, attend weekly meetings, am currently at 198, and still doing well with it. This time, my focus is not as much on losing. I know I can do that because Iíve proved that many times. My focus is on discovering what changes I can incorporate easily and will enable me to continue to stick with it right up to reaching my ultimate goal and on into maintenance.
Itís been the same old story over and over and over again, and I know Iím not alone in this. I go through the same phases of weight loss each and every time:
1. Realization. Itís the point in time when I feel disgusted with the way I look or maybe get some uncomfortable symptoms and become fearful of my health. I start to feel uncomfortable once I get into the 200ís and size 18. My red light weight number is 223. Iíve never gone above that.
2. Getting Starting. Iíve made up my mind and am feeling committed to taking off the weight. I follow some sort of structured program. The first 3-4 weeks are usually somewhat grueling. I feel hungry and/or deprived and downright grumpy. Iím going through some food withdrawal symptoms. Iím not fit, so it feels uncomfortable to exercise. Iím going through all this and Iím still fat Ė itís very depressing. Itís at this point that I require the utmost of determination to power through all the bad stuff Iím going through physically and mentally.
3. Success. Iím starting to really like the healthy foods Iím eating. Iím not missing the old trigger foods as much anymore. My cravings are beginning to fade. Iím getting fitter and am really enjoying my walks. I keep increasing my speed and length of time and my body responds positively. Any health concerns I had before are now gone as I feel more energetic and vibrant. Iíve lost enough weight to notice my clothes start to get looser and Iím now into a size 16. My face is getting slimmer and Iím feeling a bit more attractive. The thrill of success motivates me to keep going.
4. Continuing success. Iíve lost a lot more pounds and inches. Clothes continue to get looser. Iím now into a size 14, then 12. I go from obese to overweightÖfrom XL to medium tops (I always lose a lot in my bust). Iím excited and happy about my progress, almost feeling a bit smug. Now people are really starting to notice and comment. At first, it feels nice to get the acknowledgement and compliments.
5. Discouragement Ė Now Iíve reached the dreaded plateau. Iím still following good eating and exercising, but the weight is coming off very slowly. Iím still a ways from my goal and even though Iím looking and feeling better I havenít finished what I started. At this point Iím typically 15-20 lbs. away from my ultimate goal. Iím still getting lots of compliments. But instead of feeling good about it, theyíre making me feel extremely uncomfortable. I donít like the attention. I fear I canít live up to their praise because of past experience of regaining. Even if I could just maintain for a while at this point, that would be okay. But the discouragement takes over and puts me into a mental funk, which brings me to Phase 6.
6. Backsliding. Now my belief is fading and I have doubts that Iíll ever reach my goal. I get rebellious. I stop tracking my food. If Iím on a program, I stop going and/or following it Ė my inner child says ďI donít want to do this, itís a pain!Ē I start to eat a little more at mealtimes. I re-introduce foods that trigger me to overindulge. Those foods start to become a daily necessity instead of an occasional treat. A 5 pound gain turns into 10 pounds. I panic as itís now 15 pounds, then 20. At this point Iím in a whirling dervish of bad habits and lack of control. I feel like Iím sinking in quicksand and canít get out of it.
7. Throwing in the towel. At this point Iíve gained back most of my weight and feel as though I canít get it together no matter how hard I try. Iím feeling bad about myself again Ė like a complete failure Ė and those feelings only serve to make me eat more. This can often continue for several years of feeling distraught and unhappy but powerless to turn it around.
8. Back to Square One. Now Iím right back to Phase 1 again and the whole cycle begins again.
The only way to stop this merry-go-round is to zero in on changes that will prohibit Phase # 6 from occurring. Letís rewrite the scenario from Phase 5 onÖ
5. Discouragement Ė Let it be okay to stay here for a bit to allow my mind to catch up to the physical changes in my body. Iím at a healthier weight. Recall what it was like during Phases 1 and 2 and be grateful that Iíve accomplished so much. Focus on all the benefits of where I am now. Donít be in a rush to get somewhere else. Enjoy the present feelings of well-being and relax into this new lifestyle. Continue to add in more new healthy foods and seek out new recipes. Look for new ways to motivateÖthis is a time to do nice little things for yourself and accentuate the positive. Take extra care of yourself Ė buy some new outfits, get a manicure/pedicure, get highlights or new hairstyle, go to the makeup counter and get a makeover. Do lots and lots of pampering and rewarding at this stage to keep the positive flow going.
6. Recommitment Ė Reach inside and dig even deeper. Keep up your positive attitude and belief in your ability to reach your goal. Spend the time looking at positive images/words that motivate you. Visualize success and repeat affirmations. Continue to add more new healthy foods into your diet. Seek out new delicious recipes for your new-found healthier foods. Challenge yourself even more with exercising. Incorporate more toning workouts. Mix it up. Start transitioning from power walking to a walk/jog. As you stay the course and push yourself even harder, the weight will start to come off again. Now youíre in a whole new territory and this is a very exciting time! Youíve broken through the barrier this time!!! Youíre getting closer and closer to your goal and you can see it not only as a possibility, but as a distinct reality.
7. Goal Ė You made it!!! For the first time ever, you are now in the ďnormalĒ weight category. This is what youíve dreamed of for the greater part of your life. Itís also a very scary phase. Now that Iím no longer overweight, who AM I?? If life isnít centered around losing weight, what IS it?? What in the world do I do now?? Just knowing beforehand that these questions will pop up will hopefully prepare me to have some answers by the time I get here.
8. Lifetime Maintenance Ė This is truly when the work begins, I believe. This is the time of finding that balance of eating and activity that will keep you at plus or minus 5 lbs. of your goal. It has to fit with your likes and lifestyle to be permanent. With good nutrition being the biggest driver in your plan, your diet has changed so much that your taste buds are used to clean, natural foods. Hopefully, the old sugar and fat-laden foods wonít even taste good to you if you try a taste. But itís not good to even flirt with them. They are to be seen as dangerous as drugs. Youíre now fit and still look forward to your regular walks as well as being able to continue to enjoy daily spontaneous activity. A year passes and youíre still maintaining. Two years pass and there are no remnants left of your old habits. This is just the way you live now. No looking back or looking forward. Just present moment bliss.
(of dietingÖthe beginning of a new life)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Two more pounds down last night. And even with having a piece of chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting when I went out to lunch with a friend last Saturday. I tracked it and counted it in, didn't go over my weekly allotment of points and I earned 32 activity points for the week. So essentially, it is possible to literally have your cake and eat it too. Still, I am so amazed.
On January 1, I declared to myself that this was it. This was going to be the year I lost these extra pounds that were weighing me down in so many ways. But the determination wasn't quite enough because I proceeded to struggle throughout January and February. I was trying so hard, too hard. But trying doesn't ever accomplish anything...DOING does. I wanted to lose weight, but I wasn't willing to measure my food, I wasn't willing to track my food. I was out of shape from sporadic exercise attempts and used the cold weather as an excuse to sit on the couch when I could be walking.
When I signed up for WW on March 1, it was at a point of desperation. I felt that if I kept going down the path I was on, I'd have some scary health issues. Mentally, I was at an all-time low. My energy level was low too. My zest for life was starting to fade.
As soon as my mind turned the corner, everything suddenly became easy. I didn't feel like I was fighting against the current anymore. It just flowed. I was measuring and tracking, but it became a part of my routine and not something I was forcing myself to do.
I think that if anything is difficult, it's a sign you are going down the wrong road. When it's right, things seem to just fall into place. There's no pushing, no forcing, no turmoil, no angst. Now I can see the difference. The biggest difference took place in my mind. The mind is such a powerful thing, especially that part of your mind that rules your unconscious behavior.
The more success I saw, the more successful I became. It started this unstoppable momentum in me that has continued to pick up speed. The downward spiral is just as powerful. That's why it's so crucial to get your head in the right place. It can make or break you.
Last night I broke out of the 200's, YAY! It was a very significant milestone for me because it's been over a year of going back and forth between 210 and 205, never being able to break free of it. I feel so different physically and emotionally. I have a lot more stamina. I no longer have these worrisome sensations in my chest (I kept fearing clogged arteries and my poor heart pumping harder). My self confidence has increased. My overall feeling of well being is improved. That's just with 17 pounds gone. I can only imagine how it will be as I continue to morph into the vision I have of me at my goal weight.
Just as you need to reduce calories as your weight decreases, after this last loss I am at 23 pts. (my initial amount of pts. was 25). I welcome that challenge. One of the things that has contributed to my success is eating more of what WW calls "filling foods". It's the same food that Dr. Fuhrman advocates: lots and lots of fresh vegetables, especially leafy greens; fresh fruit; whole grains, beans & legumes. The biggest factor by far is my walking. I increased my neighborhood route to 4.6 miles that I do in 1 hr. 10 min. Some days I do 2 walks - one with my dog Zac for about 3 miles in 50 minutes (it's slower because he likes to stop & sniff a lot), and then my 4.6 mile fast walk with my ipod. I'm so grateful that I love walking and it's a joyful experience for me. I have a new goal in mind to start running at the high school track, probably in another month or so. I'll start a gradual intermittant walk/run until I build up to running laps.
That's it in a nutshell: Eat predominantly wholesome, filling foods - measure & track - walk every single day anywhere from 50 min. to 2 hrs. - keep a positive attitude with the image of my goal clearly in the forefront of my mind at all times. Little side things are that I only weigh once a week at my WW meeting (so that I don't get side-tracked or distracted by an obssession with the numbers) and I take my measurements and weigh on my scale for body fat % once a month. Inches lost and lower fat-to-muscle ratio are even more important to me than pounds.
I'm so happy and pleased with my progress that I just had to capture the feelings in this blog so I can revisit it if I ever do get to a point of either complacency or backsliding. I've done both the struggle & frustration and the victory & elation. This feels much better!!
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I haven't blogged in a while and a lot has happened since. For one, I have lost 15 pounds since March 1!!!
This, after struggling so hard for 2 years and getting nowhere. What changed? No one suddenly sprinkled fairy dust on me. Why was I finally able to do what I had longed to do all those many months before?
The only answer to those questions is that my mind and attitude changed.
It may seem coincidental, but after I said a humble prayer asking for guidance and strength in this particular area of my life, I was prompted to go on the Weight Watchers web site. I felt like it was literally do or die. I had been not feeling well since after Christmas and felt tremendous anxiety over my health. Even though the closest meeting was a 30-minute drive, I concluded that it was worth it to try again. I was just not getting anywhere on my own. To my surprise, there was a meeting being held in my little town - only a 5 minute walk away from my house.
So, on Monday, March 1, I walked over there and was just there to check it out, not really sure if I'd sign up. As I got to the front of the line, I found myself buying a Monthly Pass. There! Now I'm committed for at least a month - we'll see what happens.
Something changed in my brain after that first night. I felt something I hadn't felt in years....I REALLY, REALLY wanted to lose this weight. It was no longer just a wish or a hope. It was a burning desire.
My first week was a complete turnabout for me. I was not only no longer binging on candy, cookies, and ice cream; I was measuring and logging in my points with ease. It was something positive I was doing for myself, not a drudgery. My first week weigh-in was a loss of 5 pounds! To say I was happy is an understatement.
So on to week 2. I was equally as committed. But surely that first 5 lbs. had to be mostly fluid and I didn't expect much of a loss this week. Surprise! I lost 3 more lbs.!!!
Week 3 was a good week too, but I thought that realistically I was not going to have big losses every single week so a pound or half a pound would be perfectly fine. Shock again, I lost 2 more lbs.!!!! I was only 1/2 pound away from my 5% goal !!!
After Week 3, something even greater happened in the vortex of my mind: I had a BELIEF that I could really do this!! I had a knowing, not just a desire.
Week 4 was even easier to stay motivated. I had already gone 21 days without binging and I had lost 10 whole pounds. That 5% goal of 10.5 pounds was right in front of me and surely I could lose a half a pound. I was wrong about that...I didn't lose a half a pound, I lost another 3 !!!!! This is insane, I thought. Yes, I have been following the program. I had also been increasing my walking each week and now I was up to walking 4.6 miles every day. But I never expected the weight to come off like it had. I was thrilled to get my 5% star.
Week 5 was a little more challenging. I ate out twice. I went to Panara Bread on Thursday with my sister and afterwards I looked up everything on their web site. I was shocked to discover I'd eaten a 1270 calorie, 29 pt. lunch. Then DH wanted to eat at Chinese buffet on Friday night. Even with mostly choosing vegetables, it's one of my trigger places and I ate more than I should have. I had to guess at my pts. and decided it must've been at least 20. Then Sunday was Easter and I made a scrumptious brunch for DH and I: Eggs Benedict and asparagus with Hollandaise and silver dollar homemade buttermilk pancakes with fresh squeezed OJ. The thing is, I still tracked and logged in all of my food. And I had walked every day.
When I got to my WW meeting last night, I was just hoping to stay the same. One thing I decided when I joined was that I would not weigh myself at home at all. I didn't want to start obsessing about the numbers and determining my success solely by them. Was I ever surprised when she announced, "you lost 2 pounds!" My grand total is 15!
Now I have another major motivation for this week. I was exactly 200 and I am very much looking forward to getting out of the Two's and into the One's! My next goal after that is to lose 21 pounds, which will earn me my 10% and a key ring. At 25 pounds gone, I'll get a star charm for my key ring. After that, I'll give myself a reward for each additional 5 lbs. lost.
So, what's the secret??? Who knows? I think it can be anything you do to change it up. Like joining a gym or exercise class. Or reading and following a new inspirational book. Or buddying up with someone. For me, Weight Watchers was just a catalyst for me to change my thoughts. I love a saying of Wayne Dyer's: "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." I've always thought that losing weight is 99% mental. That's always the biggest hurdle.
If there's anyone out there reading this who is struggling, I hope I can help you see that it is possible. The last 2 years I was about as discouraged as you can get and spinning my wheels, sinking further and further in the mud. Now I've picked up speed and that momentum is driving me forward.
Yes, I have started, but I also know this journey is far from over and I will encounter sharp curves and hills before I arrive at my goal. But I am feeling confident that I can overcome any unexpected obstacles as long as I keep my eyes on the road and hang on tight.
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