Friday, December 02, 2011
(This first paragraph was written after I finished writing my blog)
I have to warn you, this blog is very long. I started out just writing some thoughts I had, but it turned into sort of a rant because frankly I'm a little angry about being duped. I'm angry at all the years I've wasted, all the money I've spent, and all the gimmicks I've bought into. Actually, I'm past angry because now I feel empowered from all that I've learned. I no longer feel subject to somebody else's opinions on what I should or should not eat, how much, how often, and when. This blog is really for me. I just need to get some things off my chest and then forget about it and move on. I've learned so much from my 46 years of searching for the holy grail of weight loss. I'd like to think it wasn't all for naught. If you end up hanging in there and reading to the end, I hope you find something beneficial. Like Edison, I learned a lot from failures. Maybe right now, this day, I'm having MY light bulb moment.
There are so many "diets" out there, it can make your head spin! Wading through and following all the rules and restrictions is like getting caught in a maze.
The thing is, when you read about their systems and claims, many of them make sense in one way or another.....but they also contradict each other.
Popular diets rise and fall and come back around again, sometimes with slight modifications.
Remember when Atkins was the craze? No carbs (including healthy fruit & veggies), but you could have plenty of high protein and fat. A friend of mine following it lost weight really fast until she ended up in the ER with intense pain from diverticulitis. She almost lost part of her colon¡.and she gained the weight back just as quickly as she lost it.
So many people became ill from Atkins, or at the very least regained their weight, that the South Beach Diet was born which offered some of the same quick-loss principles as Atkins but with a little more flexibility. To me, it wasn't much better. Speaking of South Beach, it seems we searched all around the globe to find the right diet that would result in lasting thinness...there was the Mediterranean Diet, the Okinawa Diet, the "French Women Don't Get Fat" diet, to name a few. Sadly, some countries that once had predominantly thin populations are now suffering from obesity once American fast food restaurants and American processed foods entered in.
To me, one of the craziest diets recently is called the Dukan Diet. I believe it to be just another re-make of the Atkins diet. During the first phase, you eat only protein and weight loss is rapid. During the second phase, you alternate between days consuming just protein foods and days with proteins and vegetables. During phase 3, many carbohydrate foods such as pasta and white bread, as well as cheese, can be re-introduced plus you get two "anything goes" celebration meals a week. Regain is fairly typical, in which Dukan recommends you go back on phase 1. Does this sound like a recipe for a health crisis, or what?
Last year I tried the "No S Diet". The principle was pretty simple: no snacks or sugar on days that didn't start with an S. The problem for a compulsive snacker/sugar addict is that it's not so easy to go on and off certain foods like that.
I believe the healthiest diet of all is a plant-based diet. There are several "flavors" of this kind of diet: Eat to Live (Dr. Joel Fuhrman), the McDougal diet, Dr. Neal Barnard's "21-Day Kickstart", Rip Esselstyn's "Engine 2 Diet", Alicia Silverstone's "The Kind Diet", Kris Carr's "Crazy Sexy Diet", The Rave Diet (Mike Anderson), and The Perfect Formula Diet(Janice Stanger). With a few variations, they all say this: NO animal products (including eggs & dairy) and high amounts of fresh veggies ( particularly greens), fruits, beans & legumes. These diets don't focus as much on weight loss (although it is a nice benefit in that weight can drop dramatically if followed 100%). They stress the foods that protect your body from diseases. This approach makes the most sense to me and is pretty near perfect in healthy eating principles. My biggest problem is following it. I cannot tell you how many times I've tried and ended up feeling like a failure.
So I looked into the "Flexitarian Diet" by Dawn Jackson Blatner. It adopts a lot of principles of a vegetarian diet, but allows dairy and eggs and things like bread and pasta and natural sweeteners (such as honey, maple syrup, sucanet). A little more do-able, but still not a perfect fit for me.
I've also tried to follow Tosca Reno's "The Eat-Clean Diet". She allows animal products, but nothing processed or artificial. She also recommends eating 6 small meals a day and drinking LOTS of water (2-3 liters). Dr. Fuhrman recommends 3 hearty meals a day and no snacking or grazing. He also does not advocate drinking water other than to satisfy thirst because there is plenty of water contained in fresh fruits & veggies.
Our co-instructor at Zumba, Hilary, has recently lost 60 lbs. She looks so slim and fit that I wouldn't have believed she was ever heavy if I hadn't seen her before pic on facebook. I asked her if she lost all that weight from doing Zumba . She said yes definitely, but she also followed the " 17-day Diet". I was curious and interested, so I checked the book out at the library.
The 17 Day Diet includes four cycles:
- Accelerate - In this initial phase you dramatically reduce your intake of carbohydrates to promote fat burning, cleansing and rapid weight loss.
- Activate - This phase involves carbohydrate cycling, which has the purpose of resetting your metabolism to stimulate fat burning and prevent plateaus.
- Achieve - You reintroduce some previously restricted foods and will learn how to develop healthy eating habits.
- Arrive - The final phase allows you to maintain your goal weight by eating a healthy diet during the week and indulging in your favorite foods on the weekends.
During all of the four phases of the 17 day Diet there is an emphasis on clean eating and the avoidance of sugar and all processed foods. Sounds interesting, and Hilary has maintained her weight loss for almost a year. It doesn't sound to me like the accelerate cycle is very easy to do, although it's only for 17 days...still, it doesn't appeal to me.
When I was out walking a couple days ago, I ran into a friend who had been going to our Monday night Weight Watchers meeting. She wasn't there last week and she said she may not go back. For the past few weeks she'd been following a diet recommended by her chiropractor - the Paleo diet. The Paleo Diet limits food to lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It's based on the diet habits during the times of hunting/gathering. On this diet, no dairy is allowed as well as processed food in any form, including cereal. I question the longevity of following this plan. As I have discovered from past experience, I don't do well with the elimination of certain foods for extended periods of time.
The million dollar question for me is: Can I do this forever? Because if the answer is NO, then why even start the process? Which diet is the best one? Answer: the one you can stick to.
There are just as many books written on non-diet approaches...some of the ones I've read are "The Overfed Head" - Rob Stevens (founder of thintuition)," Intuitive Eating" - Elyse Resch & Evelyn Tribole, "Eating Mindfully" - Susan Albers, "The Food is a Lie: The Truth is Within" - Bronwyn Marmo, "The Gabriel Method" - Jon Gabriel, "Skinny Girl" - Bethanny Frankel, "Think and Grow Thin With the Law of Attraction" - Kate Corbin, "Think Yourself Thin" - Debbie Johnson, "The Holistic Approach to Eatin"g - Jane Mountrose, "Shrink Yourself" - Roger Gould, MD. Then there are spiritually-based books such as "The Weigh Down Diet" - Gwen Shamblin, "Thin Within" - Judy Halliday & Arthur Halliday, "The Dieter's Prayer Book" - Heather Harpham Kapp, I like some of the basic concepts in these books; i.e., ditching the diet mentality altogether and using the power of your mind and spirit to naturally achieve thinness. These are the books that have come closest to giving me the most profound and effective information. But again, after reading all these books I still didn't have a complete AHA moment resulting in permanent change.
As you can see, I've read A LOT about the subject of weight loss. It's consumed me since my first diet when I was a 150-pound 14-year-old. In retrospect, I believe dieting is what has kept me fat. Over the past 46 years, my highest weight was 223 and my lowest was 160. During all those years it's gone up and down and up and down. I've been repeating the same mistake, only in different forms, over and over.
Besides all the"plans" I've attempted to follow from books, I've been on Weight Watchers multiple times (and am currently going to meetings with a lot of doubts about it). I have had much success with Weight Watchers when I followed it. I have also had a pattern of quitting mid-way to goal, mainly because of the cost and my desire to "do it on my own". Another thing I've always had a problem with is having to weigh and measure and track my food. It just seems to cause me to become overly focused on food¡to the point of obsession.
In earlier years I also went to The Diet Workshop, the Diet Center, and Jenny Craig. I was successful on all of them, temporarily. What I liked about Jenny Craig is that I didn't have to measure or log my food and basically all the decisions were made for me regarding what I was going to eat. But the majority of what I ate was packaged processed Jenny Craig food. It was extremely expensive too. Again, whenever I left a program, the old habits reappeared and I gained all the weight back, sometimes more. I tried an all-woman's gym, Elaine Powers. That worked while I went but I couldn't keep it up financially and when I quit, my weight went back up. I never tried Curves, but I was tempted. I tried acupuncture. All I lost there was a lot of money. I tried hypnosis, once one-on-one and bought several different hypnosis tapes, CDs, and even a DVD. The only one I can say ever worked was Glenn Harrold's DVD. But as soon as I stopped watching it, the effects were gone.
Ah, if I had all of the money I've spent over the years in all things weight loss-related, I'd be sitting on a pretty big fortune right now!
What's a dieter to do?
Here's the other thing.....the word DIET has gotten a bad rap lately. The new buzzword is "lifestyle change". Even Weight Watchers has hopped on the bandwagon with that one in their advertisements. But, really, it's just a word. And if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, acts like a duck....
It used to be that the word "diet" merely meant "the foods eaten, as by a particular person or group". The dictionary now adds an additional definition of "a particular selection of food, especially as designed or prescribed to improve a person's physical condition or to prevent or treat a disease".
Most people now avoid using the word "lost" in terms of weight....because what is lost can be found again. So we've "dropped", "released", "got rid of", "shed" pounds. Our biggest fear in achieving a lower weight is that of gaining it all back. It's a valid fear, because statistics have shown that 98% of dieters do just that.
I think as a society we've become overly obssessed with food and thinness. At the same time that magazines put unrealistic body images all over its pages, it advertises foods that have been chemically engineered to make us want more and more (read David Kessler's book "The End of Overeating"). We're a fat nation suffering from all kinds of diet-related illnesses and are reaching out to a multi-billion dollar industry of weight loss plans, books, equipment, and various propaganda. This industry is taking our money and leaving us in worse shape than we started.
I can tell you this, all of my diet-related books are going to charity. The few that aren't all marked up with yellow highlight are being donated to the library. I don't need them anymore. I know my own truth and it has set me free.
So, it seems like I've raised more questions than answers. I wish I did have the ultimate answer because I would gladly give it to everyone for free. But the truth is, there is no set answer. Everyone is as individual and unique as a snowflake. For me, I have learned some of the things that don't work, as well as what has. Here's my own little summary:
1. Eat what you like. It's crazy to eat a food because you believe it will cause you to lose weight. I can't tell you how many times I forced down carrot/celery sticks and hard boiled eggs for the sake of weight loss. Food should be pleasurable. Having said that, there are a multitude of healthy foods that I find pleasurable. It's everyone's responsibility to come up with those foods that give them both nutrition and pleasure.
2. Eat in moderation. Eat when you're hungry/stop when you're full. I used to hate hearing that! Oh yeah, if I could do that, I wouldn't be in this spot! I know better than anyone that it's easier said than done. For me, the key is mindfulness and slowing down. I also need to steer clear of overly processed foods, which cause me to crave more. I'm not going to say that I'll ever completely give up sugar because I've tried that many times and it's always backfired. But I can say I'll never buy processed cakes, pies, cookies and snacks, etc. Instead, I will make my own baked goods with fresh ingredients and I'll make fruit sorbets in my Vitamix. Natural, God-made foods are always the best. My goal is to eat 80% natural and allow myself 20% of what I consider decadent foods. But if I'm going to spend my 20% allowance on something, it'd better be good! It has to be something that explodes with flavor on my tongue and makes me say "AHHH!" For example, instead of almost daily eating 95% fat free microwave popcorn (which honestly tastes like cardboard), I'd rather pop natural corn kernels in some oil on the stove and pour on a little melted real creamery butter as an occasional treat while watching a good movie (the operative word is occasional!).
3. Move-move-move. That means limiting my time sitting at the computer. It also means limiting TV time. I've simplified my TV-watching to those shows I get the most enjoyment from¡ and for me, it hasn't been hard to pare it down significantly. Just getting up and doing housework, gardening, yard work, washing the car, playing with the dogs, etc., is stoking your metabolism. It's all about balance and it's all about choices. It's summed up in one word: discipline. Discipline is simply a regimen that develops or improves a skill. Habits are merely activities that you repeat over and over. You can discipline yourself to a regimen that is repeated and turned into a habit that you eventually do without even thinking about it. We created some of our bad habits in exactly the same way.
4. Exercise has to be fun. Otherwise, why bother? You won't stick to it if you hate doing it. Forcing yourself will only get you so far. Loving what you do offers longevity and consistency. I love music. When I paired music with walking by downloading favorite fast tunes on my ipod, I found my secret to success. I looked forward to listening to the music and the beat made me walk fast without even realizing it. Walking to my tunes became my healthy pleasure that I looked forward to every day. Then I discovered Zumba! I not only love music but I've always loved to dance (something my DH doesn't do and I've missed very much over the years). So now I've added another healthy addiction that I look forward to. Both walking and Zumba don't feel like exercise to me and the time I spend doing it goes by in a flash. That's the secret. It's different for everyone and you shouldn't have to force it. Do you like tennis or golf or some other sport? Do you love to swim? Does riding a bike give you joy? How about the relaxation and flexibility training of yoga? The simple question to ask is: Do I enjoy it? If not, keep searching... I know you'll find it.
That's it. In a nutshell, eat in moderation and get daily activity; eat what you love, do an exercise you love. That's what the naturally thin people have been doing for eons. Those are the people who have had the secret all along and we chose to look elsewhere for it.
As long as I am equipped with a positive attitude and follow those simple principles, I can cut the ball and chain of dieting "rules" that have been weighing me down. I can follow my own wisdom instead of always seeking another's opinion.
I'm free to stop dwelling on food & weight and start living the life I was meant to live.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I read that on my friend Jules' (LIFEWALK) blog and it really made an impression on me.
I ate very badly over Thanksgiving...I did exactly what I didn't want to do (eat to overfullness, eat foods that were high in fat, and basically just overate).
When I weighed in at WW Monday nite, I was expecting a gain and was flabbergasted when I lost 1.6 pounds. The only explanation is all the exercise I got. I walked 5 miles almost every day last week and I went to Zumba class (1 hr.) on Tuesday, Wednesday, & Saturday plus a 2 hr. Zumbathon on Sunday.
I don't want to get into a place of complacency because the exercise is not going to continue to save me. It's got to be a two-pronged approach of healthy, moderate eating and regular execise. You need both. I also believe that restricting eating without exercise will not work in the long run.
YOU CAN NOT OUT-EXERCISE A BAD DIET. period!
So this week I am totally committed to eating in moderation and being aware of my food choices by tracking. I figure that if I was able to lose last week, just think what I could do with the power combination of exercise + good eating habits!
I am reminding myself that the choice of what I eat is always mine to make.
Ultimately, the choice of how I want to look is mine as well.
Everytime I eat something, there is a thought that proceeds it. Sometimes the decision is made so quickly, I don't even realize the thought. The key is to slow down and become aware of those thoughts.
Slow down enough to really think about it....do I want this:
It's my choice.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I can remember like it was yesterday.....
It was January or February 1970 and I was driving down the highway on my way to work as a secretary at the community college. I was 18 years old, living at home, no cares or worries...the world was my oyster. This song came on the radio and I loved it so much I turned up the volume and sang out loud:
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies
I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Haha! It's 41 years later and I still love that song! It's how I feel right now. As I was walking in the sunshine yesterday it occurred to me that I'm finally getting myself back. It's been a tough road these past 13 months. I lost myself in my sorrow and felt so downtrodden and completely full of sadness. I couldn't possibly move forward or do anything positive for myself during my time of grief and what seemed like unsurmountable challenge as I walked beside my sister who was suffering and fighting for her life.
Now she's free and I feel free too. I can talk to her anytime I want now. I can feel her around me. I have learned invalueable lessons from her that I can carry forth to make my own life better. The pain and sorrow gets less hurtful when I focus on the happy memories and the celebration of her life that was so good. The void will always be there, but it's my job to fill it as much as possible with other things. The sadness will ebb and flow throughout the years. But the healing has begun and I do believe that time has a way of healing our emotional wounds the same way it heals a cut on our finger. It won't always feel as bad. At times it will seem so, and I will cry...I will nurture my feelings...then I will feel better and move on again.
So now......nothin' but blue skies! In tribute to Janet, I am making the most out of each and every day. I am taking charge of my life and treating myself well. I am finding my joy and doing things that make me happy. I am taking good care of myself and my health. It's always going to be a bright, bright sun-shiney day inside my heart. That's what Janet wants for me.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
It's been 6 weeks since my sister's passing. I'll never be used to being without her and there will be down days where I will ache inside from missing her, but I am beginning to heal. It was a very difficult year and yet I made it through the worst thing I've ever had to deal with so far in this life. It was seemingly impossible to lose weight during that time. I tried not to be too hard on myself, but I know I used it as an excuse to eat for comfort. I could continue to use the holidays as an excuse to delay my wellness, but today I choose not to.
I feel as ready as I'll ever be to take charge again. Last night I decided to go back to what worked for me the last time. I'm going back to Weight Watchers Monday night. I'm not just showing up, like I did for all those months this year until I finally threw in the towel and quit the end of August.
I can't go back unless I'm serious about reaching my goal and getting to maintenance. I can't go back unless I'm willing to do what it takes. I've thought long and hard about it, and I feel I need the support and the accountability. I wish I could just do it on my own, but history has proven I need help.
I know myself, and from Thanksgiving through New Year's I could easily put on 10-15 lbs., especially when my mind is in the wrong place. I can't let that happen. I'm dangerously close to the 200's. I've been holding steady in the 190's for most of this year, mainly because I've kept my activity high with walking and Zumba. I'm ready to break out of the 190's and keep going straight towards my goal, which right now is 155.
Unfortunately, I don't have the support of my husband. I talked to him about it last night and he just reminded me of how many times I've failed. He sees it as just another attempt and that I won't see it through to completion. Well, I guess I'll have to just do it and prove him wrong. There are many people who took decades of trying before they finally made it to their goal. The important thing is to keep getting up and do it as many times as it takes.
So I am making this declaration right here and now....I will follow my plan. I will shed pounds throughout the holiday season. I have the ability to do it; I have the desire to do it. I will continue forward, reach my goal, permanently change my habits, and maintain my healthy weight. And so it is!
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