Saturday, May 12, 2007
Itís been sunny and warmer the last several days, which always brightens my mood. This is my favorite time of yearÖnot too hot but not cold, the beautiful spring flowers blooming and the summer perennials popping up out of the ground, buds on the trees, everything coming alive and vibrant after a cold winterís rest.
The thing that makes me feel the greatest is the fact that Iím actually enjoying this weight loss journey and having so much fun with it. Iím so glad I found Spark People. Iíve been doing extremely well since I started using all of the tools on March 1. I like being in control of my own health destiny. I like being aware of how many calories Iím eating, and more importantly, how many of the various nutrients Iím getting. I enjoy the teams and community support. The articles on the site are very good and motivating. Iíve tried a lot of great recipes on the site too. I like that I can load in my favorite recipes and know how many calories per serving.
Iím not anxious or up-tight about eating like I have been on past Ďdietingí plans. I enjoy my food and I donít feel deprived. I think the key for me is moderation, healthy substitutes, and giving myself permission to have anything I want as long as I am making a conscious decision about having it, and still remaining on target with my daily/weekly calorie goals. There are so many nutritious foods I like, so I choose them over fat and/or sugar-laden foods. I love finding new healthy substitutes. Like mock mashed potatoes using cauliflower and garlic and some light sour cream with herbsÖeven DH thought it tasted like the real thing!
Itís much better to NOT WANT a decadent dessert or Ďforbiddení food, rather than wanting it and digging in your feet with shear willpower. And, paradoxically, I think that not wanting it comes from allowing yourself to have it if you truly DO want itÖand not labeling any food as bad. My sister and I like to get together often on the weekend and eat lunch out. A couple of weeks ago, we went to Applebeeís and I got the oriental chicken salad. Thatís all I had, with a glass of water with lemon. It was delicious. I enjoyed and savored every bite, and felt good that Iíd made a healthy choice. When I got home, I went on a web site that gives the calories of restaurant entreesÖto my great shock, this wonderful salad was 804 calories a serving!!!! But, I had eaten a modest breakfast and then decided to have a very modest dinner. I had fruit for an evening snack and still stayed within my calorie range. It felt great. I can eat anything as long as I am aware and plan for it. Itís a great sense of empowerment, like situations canít throw me off unless I decide they will (and thatís not going to happen). We went out to lunch yesterday, and I had a salad loaded with fresh veggies with about a Ĺ cup tuna salad on top and balsamic vinaigrette. This particular place is noted for their fantastic desserts, and they have a big glass case of them sitting in plain view to drool over! I finished my salad and felt totally satisfied, and thought to myself, ďI donít feel tempted by any of those desserts!Ē
I think that another key for me is that Iíve gotten to the point where Iíve just gone down a size and the weight loss is starting to become noticeable. The past Ďpleasureí I got from eating luscious foods and snacking all the time has now been replaced with the exhilaration I feel when I put my clothes on and they fit nicely and comfortablyÖwhen I catch a glance of myself in the mirror and realize that yes, my face is slimmer and my tummy is getting flatter. As I continue to stay active, exercise daily, and get fitter, itís becoming easier to do. In fact, if I have a busy day and canít get my walk in I feel like Iím missing somethingÖlike not brushing my teeth! I enjoy and look forward to my walks. Iím even starting to enjoy my strength training workoutÖwell, Iím at least enjoying the feeling afterwards of the great accomplishment of finishing it and the good results to follow!
Iím only a little over 2 months into this new life, but I intend to keep fueling the fire of motivation to continue to feel this way throughout the time it takes me to get to my goal and beyond into lifetime healthy maintenance. I will only need to go back and read my blogs to realize that this feels so much better than my past habits of overindulging on fattening unhealthy foods, feeling tired and unhappy and like a failure. Right now I feel strong, energetic, confident, joyful and have a 24/7 sense of well being. Why would I ever choose anything else?
Sunday, April 29, 2007
This morning was weigh-in day, and I was so excited to have broken out of the 200's!!!! I've been trying to accomplish that for the last 5 years!
My nephew's wedding was 1-1-05 and I was the heaviest I'd ever been (at 221) and in the worst possible health. I had been under a tremendous amount of stress at work and was struggling with the decision whether to take early retirement or not. On New Year's Eve 2004, we were all standing outside my brother's yard (he lives in Georgia) watching fireworks go off. I felt these sudden sharp pains up under my ribs and was so worried I may be having a heart attack. It was horrible. I felt better moments later, but it scared me silly. I didn't want to have that worry every again.
I did decide to retire and took my 10 weeks accumulated vacation from Jan-Mar 2005 and officially retired on April 1 of 2005. It was the best decision of my life! I felt reborn. My husband had retired in May 2004 and luckily we had always planned to retire early and were in pretty good shape financially. Even with all of the stress gone, I still found it difficult to get a handle on my overeating. The one thing I did do was start walking every day. In the summers I spent a lot of time gardening and doing yardwork. I managed to get to 205 after the first 6 months of being retired, but then began to yo-yo....back up to 216, then last summer down to 201, back up to 216 by last fall.
I was 213 when I started using the SparkPeople tools on 3-1-07. This site has helped me more than anything I've ever done before. Tracking my calories was a huge wake-up call! I thought I was cutting down a lot, but my calories showed I was eating around 2000 a day. I estimated that prior to SP, I had to have been eating over 3000 calories a day. As I kept tracking and being made aware, my totals now fluctuate between 1300-1700 and my goal is to get them down between 1200-1400. On April 2, I was 207.6, and today on April 29 I'm 197.6. That's a 10 pound loss in one month! And I don't feel as though I'm suffering or forced to restrict my food. I just make better choices. It's been a work in progress and I'm still learning. Although it's great to see the numbers on the scale go down and start to see the visible results, my main goal is good nutrition, increased energy and good health. No more heart attack worries ever again!
Thank-you SparkPeople! Everything on this site has helped me get to this point. The nutrition and fitness trackers, the articles, the goal-setting tools, my Spark teams, even people visiting my Spark page to lend encouragement and good wishes. There is such support here. I just moved from Stage 2 to 3 yesterday and now I'm working on continuing to fuel my motivation through the long term to reach my goal.
I know this is a permanent lifestyle change because the changes have come easily and naturally. I enjoy healthy foods and I enjoy getting regular exercise and becoming active (versus my prior sedentary, couch potato life). Although there are sometimes obstacles and challenges, I rebound back quickly from a day that wasn't my personal best. I don't beat myself up. I take good care of myself body, mind and spirit. I have a clear vision of myself in perfect health and in harmony with my spirit. Every day is a new opportunity to treat myself well and become the potential that I am.
Life is good!
Thursday, April 26, 2007
We are all born with free will. Life is a series of choices, and those choices have consequences. We can continue to be a slave to our ego's whims and needs for instant gratification. Or we can look at the big picture and do those daily, even hourly, things that will bring us to our greater goodÖour lasting satisfaction...the desires of our spirit. We can sit on the couch and watch TV, or we can get up and do some cleaning, go walking or another form of exercise, work in the garden, or even read a good inspirational book and feed our mind with positive thoughts and ideas. Itís so important to live consciously and to avoid going through the motions of daily routines that donít bring us what we really want. We need to be aware of what we think, do and say because it all has an effect on the outcome of our lives. Life is not Ďhappening to usí. I believe so firmly that WE create all of our experiences through our own thoughts and our daily actions. Iíve seen it repeated in my life and in lives of others close to me. All it takes is changing your thoughts. Donít live in despair and negativity no matter what your present circumstances areÖ.live in hope and optimism, faith and joy. Donít complain about some of the Ďbumps in the roadíÖbe grateful and appreciative of every single blessing and goodness available to us here on earth. Donít try to accumulate Ďthingsí and live to acquire moreÖbe generous and giving without expectations, and see it come back to you in multitudes. Donít think lackÖthink abundance in every aspect of your life. Donít search for loveÖ.be loving to others. Donít chase after happinessÖbe happy. Itís your choice.
Iím always stopping to remind myself and DH how lucky we are to be retired, not have financial worries, and enjoy doing what we please every day. Iím careful to not waste the day. That doesnít mean that I donít occasionally have a Ďdo nothingí downtime day, but I make the choice consciously. Even when I sit on my swing by the garden in the summer, I take the time to enjoy it fully and appreciate every aspect of my free time, the flowers and trees and pond out back with wildlife coming and going, the beauty of nature, and all there is to love in this world. I appreciate my lovely and peaceful home, all of those close to me that I love, my pets, everything I enjoy each day. The more I am grateful, the more goodness flows toward me. Even if Iím around negative people, as I smile and remain content and positive, I can see a change in their mood. We are in control of our environment and our feelings. It all comes from our own thoughts. Thatís why two people in the exact same situation can have two entirely different outcomes. Itís their attitude, thoughts and feelings that make or break their experience.
As far as my weight loss journey, Iíve never been in such a great place. And again, success in this area also first has to take place in the mind. I now look forward to exercising. I now easily keep within my calorie range and choose those food that offer the highest nutrition for the amount of calories. I look forward to every day, and to do those things that keep me moving towards my ideal healthy and fit body. Iím not worried or anxious about it. I KNOW WITHOUT A SHRED OF DOUBT that I will not only reach my goal, but I will never have to struggle with excess weight ever again. Because I love this way of living. I love treating my body well. I love the way my spirit bursts with joy when I am nurturing and taking good care of my body. I look in the mirror and only see the beautiful person I am on the inside, knowing that my body on the outside is catching up day by day. My body and spirit are merging as one. I am connected to God and through Him I can accomplish anything and everything. Life is unfolding as I choose it to be. I am peaceful and content. This is the way it is supposed to be.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
When I read the book, ďEat to LiveĒ I loved its principles and was so excited to embark on this new way of eating. My intellectual mind was ready, and I always am open to try new things. What works I stick with, what doesnít I discard, but I always at least give it ample time to judge it. I wasnít quite ready for my instinctual mind, my emotional mind, and my physical body to rebel. I was so pumped up the first week, that I was successfully able to power through the tough times. After 7 days on the plan, I lost 3.6 pounds which amazingly did not excite me. I was starting to rebel. I had been eating two large green salads a day and all of a sudden I couldnít face even one salad. All the enjoyment of food was gone. I was eating for nutrition and feeling more energetic. But there was something missing. I was bumming. My husband is not supportive at all in regard to a vegetarian lifestyle. He thinks itís weird and even believes it to be unhealthy. I found out later that my stepdaughter had called and invited us over, but he said it wouldnít be a good idea for a month because I wasnít eating meat. He was already waiting in anticipation for the 6 weeks to be over so I could eat Ďnormallyí again and have some chicken! But besides his lack of enthusiasm, I too was not feeling all that great emotionally. Being honest with myself, I knew I could not do this for an entire lifetime. And in the past when Iíd stuck with something extremely restrictive, Iíd get to the point where Iíd go completely in the opposite direction and binge on ice cream, cookies and candy.
So I had a little sit down with myself. Thereís got to be a middle ground here. Why canít I take the parts of the plan that DO work for me and add in other elements that will help me to sustain my effort for the long haul, through the ups and downs of my days, and forward on to maintaining my ideal weight? Itís not all-or-nothing, black-or-white. Thatís a big notion that Iím changing right now. Life IS shades of gray. What works for me wonít worth for others, and some programs that work perfectly for others spell trouble for me. Iím the only one who knows myself, warts and all! I need to tailor my own lifestyle, and balance what is healthy with what is do-able. I believe food is meant to be enjoyed, and there are plenty of high nutrition foods that I like. But eliminating some of the decadent pleasures now and then is not fun! And a wise boss I once had said, ďIf it ainít fun, why do it?Ē
I listed the parts of Eat to Live that I most definitely could adopt easily. And they are:
1. Eat a large salad once a day with as many different vegetables as possible, an ounce of nuts and some beans on top, and use a low-fat, unprocessed salad dressing.
2. Eat lots of steamed veggies with lunch and/or dinner and even as snacks
3. Drink a powerhouse smoothie for breakfast or snack with fresh spinach, an assortment of frozen fruit, soy milk and a Tablespoon of flax seed.
4. Eat an assortment of fresh fruits in season with breakfast and/or snacks.
5. Eat meatless at least 3 days a week.
6. Eliminate pork and shellfish completely.
7. Restrict beef to no more than once a week.
I eliminated coffee, white bread, white pasta and white rice, all processed foods, and all trans fats a while ago and am not tempted by them. I do remember, though, that it took 3 attempts at eliminating coffee completely and that it was the social aspect of it I missed the most; so I do indulge in an occasional cup while Iím out, but Iím definitely not addicted to it anymore. I will allow moderate amounts of chicken or turkey breast, fish such as wild salmon, tilapia, or halibut, and low-fat cheese and yogurt. Iíve cut back on sugar, but will allow an occasional yummy dessertósomething special I eat when Iím out so that I donít have things in the house that tempt me to overindulge.
As long as Iím still eating a greater percentage of fresh fruits and veggies and staying below my maximum calorie range, I should lose weight at a fairly steady pace. I lost another 1.4 lbs. this week (11 lbs. since I started Spark on 3-1-07Öyeah!!!) and I would be extremely happy to lose an average of 1-1.5 lbs. a week. I am addicted to walking and jumping for 15 minutes on my mini trampoline, so cardio exercise is a done deal for me because I enjoy it and even look forward to it. My strength training, Iím still working on learning to love it. Maybe itís the slower pace and my muscles rebelling, but even though I force myself to do it, Iím not enjoying it always.
Itís going to be a gradual progression for me and baby steps along this path to great health. I donít have to be perfect at it, I just have to keep getting back up and moving forward. One thing I do know for sure: THIS JOURNEY IS A ONE-WAY STREET. The old habits that put me over 200 pounds are no longer an option. Every day and in every way I am getting better and better, stronger and stronger!
Friday, April 06, 2007
I do my best thinking when Iím out walking, and this is what I was thinking aboutÖIím equally as interested in whatís going on inside of me as much as the outside. Being slim and looking great are motivators, but what about good health and the way you feel? Not to mention living longer with continued clarity of mind and with the absence of disease, no joint problems, no daily aches and pains (like my father suffered because of his obese condition).
There are people who are thin, but have worn, tired faces with lots of wrinkles, or have high risk for some cancers and diseases because of the poor quality of food they eat. And sure, you can restrict your calorie intake drastically, not exercise, and still lose weight. But youíll be losing more muscle, than fat, slowing down your metabolism, not getting enough nutrients, and making it much more difficult to lose weight and keep it off permanently. You also can lose weight extremely fast eating high protein, low carbohydrate. But youíll be ingesting way too much saturated fat. Although the chemistry of this process burns the weight off fast, Iíve read there is scientific research that meats raise the Ph level of your system to highly acidic, a breeding ground for disease. And high amounts of saturated fat contained in meat (most especially bacon, sausage and processed meat), cheese, eggs, etc. increase risk of heart disease and intestinal problems. A friend of mine went on Atkins and was thrilled with her rapid weight loss the first time, until she couldnít keep it up and eventually gained back more than sheíd lost. When she went on it the second time a few years later, she ended up in the hospital and almost had to have part of her colon removed. She was in a lot of abdominal pain. Her doctor attributed it to her lack of fruits/vegetables and high protein/fat diet. She had to build herself back slowly to a higher fiber diet. Needless to say, sheíll never do high protein/low carb again.
I had my first colonoscopy 3 years ago. I had a polyp that turned out benign, but my doctor said I need to have another colonoscopy in 3 years. Iím scheduled for it on May 22. Although Iíve made great strides in the past 3 years, my previous attempts at healthy eating have been sporadic, so Iím not certain how this test will go. But now that Iím presently eating an enormous amount of fresh steamed and raw vegetables, and foregoing the animal protein that sits in your intestines for a longer period of time because itís harder to digest, Iím fairly confident that if I continue this way of eating I will no longer have to worry about my colon.
I have had yearly mammograms since I turned 40. Iíve never had any problems. I had one last February and got called to come back because something showed up on the x-ray. I was a wreck. They did an ultra-sound, and it turned out to be two cysts that appear benign but they want me to come back in 6 months. After eating this way, Iíll be interested to see if they are still there in August.
I had the left side of my thyroid out in 1988. It was a benign cyst, but Iíve been on thyroid medication ever since. I get a full blood work-up once a year. My last blood test was February. Iíll be extremely interested to see the LDL/HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and sugar levels next February. I have also been on medication for high blood pressure for about 18 years, increasing the dosage over time. My goal is to go from two pills a day to one, and eventually achieve a healthy blood pressure without medication. As Dr. Fuhrman states in Eat to Live, the pills just treat the symptoms and mask the underlying cause. Just because your blood pressure is normal with medication, doesnít mean youíre not at risk for heart disease, quite the contrary. Eating the way Iím eating is so heart healthy that people have been able to get off blood pressure medicine even after having taken it for years, and some have actually reversed their heart disease.
My mother had open heart surgery in 1993. She was never the same afterwards and died in 1996 of kidney failure. She was only 73. For the last 10 or so years of her life, she was taking a massive amount of medications. I was flabbergasted to see the line-up of pills on her kitchen counter. And do these doctors really know how these medications affect each other? Iím on two medications and my goal is to get down to one (with half a thyroid, unfortunately Iíll never be able to get off thyroid medication).
So, while Iím excited at the slimmer body I will achieve through this way of eating, Iím even more excited to think of the added energy, vitality, and quality of life, as well as a longer life. THATíS the motivation that will keep me committed even in the more difficult daysÖand keep me dedicated to this healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life.
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