Thursday, November 20, 2014
Next week my family and I will be joining the 46.3 million Americans who will be traveling this Thanksgiving. Traveling poses many challenges for those of us attempting to stay on a healthy eating regime. I'll be taking a few low-carb items with me to help stay on track: ground flax seed, Quest protein bars, packets or protein-based hot chocolate, raw almonds, and coconut oil. The latter has been a challenge; how to transport something that softens at room temperatures and could make a mess of my luggage? I just discovered that I can get the coconut oil in handy, travel-size packets:
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Today I get to enjoy one of my favorite meals of the week, Sunday Brunch:
Pictured are low-carb, protein-powder based pancakes, topped with extra virgin coconut oil and cinnamon. It's the one day of the week when I can sit in my cozy breakfast nook during the daytime and take some time to read my favorite sections of the local Sunday paper.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
I've been back Sparking for about 6 weeks and I've been doing great, sticking to my eating and exercise goals and surviving a wedding weekend. In fact I am doing so well I'm not even worried about Halloween this week and having a boatload of candy in the house. Last year for probably the first time in my life I did not eat a single piece of trick-or-treat candy, and I'm so charged up I'm planning to do the same this year.
At the same time, I know my history: I get to my goal and somehow all that drive and focus disappears. It is in some ways truly bizarre. How is it that I can expend so much time and energy to reach a goal, and then just give up on it? Good health is not about *getting* to a healthy weight, it's about *keeping* it there. Here's some of the challenges I see for myself with maintenance:
- Lack of ongoing feedback of my success. When I'm losing weight, I get little signs that help to keep me motivated, whether it's a lower number on the scale, fitting into smaller clothes, having my fiance & partner comment on my success. The results of my efforts are more tangible. But maintenance? In my head I know I should celebrate if I step on the scale and keep seeing the *same* number (or close to it), but somehow it doesn't feel the same.
- Remove weight-loss restrictions and I'm lost. While I'm losing weight, it's easy for my to decide that I'm 1) only going to consume a set number of calories, 2) I'll (mostly) eliminate things that impede losing weight. I reach my goal and suddenly I have a host of little voices saying "Aw come'on, you can have that wine/chocolate/hamburger now". I give in saying it's just a little bit, and the next thing I know all rules and restrictions are out the window.
- Pushing myself to exercise becomes much harder. I have issues with my energy (look up hypersomnia) and honestly exercising is a constant push. I know that I really need to disconnect exercise from weight loss, as there are a whole host of other reasons why exercising is good to do for one's overall health. But when I'm not working on losing weight, the immediate need for rest invariably trumps pushing myself to exercise.
I don't know how to deal with this issues yet, but I am hoping that over the next two-three months as I get closer and closer to my final goal I can prepare myself for the challenges I know I will be facing during maintenance. And I'd love to hear any strategies that others have had for keeping that energy and drive going to keep going while maintaining.
Friday, October 17, 2014
I love my partner Ken; he's funny, kind and loving, and we have gone through a lot together in our 10 years together. He's supportive of my weight maintenance activities and strongly supportive of regular exercise, which is not surprising given that he is a professional sports coach at a local college. But with food, we are on different tracks; I often joke that we're the couple in the old nursery rhyme "Jack Splat would eat no fat, his wife would eat no lean..." Except with us it's the other way around: he loves high-fat cuts of beef, gravies, and wine with dinner, while I'm trying to keep saturated fats and alcohol consumption in check. At home this is not a huge issue (although it often does require preparing two different meals), but there's one place it's been a real issue for me: the car.
Whenever Ken travels (he travels a LOT for his job, almost weekly) he has gotten into the habit of eating and drinking to help relieve the boredom and fatigue of driving. Unfortunately a good portion of the snacking is on trail mix, which I also like. So when he's sitting right next to me with a Costco-size bag open between us, it's really really hard for me to "just say no". Unfortunately for me this summer, we traveled together quite a bit and I was constantly dealing with that temptation.
This past weekend we attended a wedding about 3.5 hours away from home. On the way home, Ken was the driver and pulls out a diet Coke and trail mix for the road. I requested that he keep the trail mix on the driver side so it was out of my sight and reach, and he complied. What a difference that made for me! Although I was aware that the trail mix was in the car and he was munching on it, I wasn't constantly fighting the voice in my head telling me to help myself, and I was able to relax and enjoy the scenery. I employed a similar tactic last night when we went to the movies and Ken bought buttered popcorn. I asked him to please keep it on his side away from me, and did not have any even though I had skipped dinner to get to the movie in time.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Like many Sparkpeople members, I struggle with emotional eating. My issues started when I was 10 years old, when I discovered that just 1 or two fun-sized candy bars were not enough. Soon food became my comfort, during the tough grade school years when I was bullied and alienated by my peers. Although I moved well past during high school and college, emotional eating had taken a firm hold in my psyche. As a result I've been yo-yo dieting for years, managing to maintain a lower weight only for brief periods between emotional distress of one sort or another.
This past summer was yet another stressful time in my life. After healing from a broken ankle in February, I developed a herniated disk in my neck and was in great pain. Since I work full time with computers, work and driving made things worse, and I was not able to sleep without waking up in pain. In April I had also transferred in April from one account in my company to another one that turned out to be a political nightmare. So this summer was one disaster after another, and my physical issues were not looked upon kindly in the midst of the uproar. So how did I deal with the pain and stress? Why by overeating of course! From May to September, I managed to pack on 30 pounds.
The good news is that I have gotten two steroid shots for my neck and the pain has subsided enough for me to return to a normal sleep and work schedule. As such three weeks ago I put myself back into weight-loss mode to undo the 30 pounds of damage . The bad news is, the fallout from this summer has remained at work and I am still feeling very stressed there and I am looking for another position. However every day I need to continue to go to a job I no longer care much about and pretend I do, while braving through various upsetting conversations and still continuing to do a good job.
A few weeks ago I had a conversation with my manager that left me hurt and mad as hell. My first thought was to head home and dive head-first into a the largest chocolate bar and bottle of wine that money could buy. But then I thought, no way am I doing that. It may feel good for the moment, but in the long run I will still be upset with work AND disappointed in myself. So instead I went for a REALLY fast walk. I talked to my fiance and vented. I went home and worked on my resume. And I stuck to my eating plan.
What I'm finding is an interesting lesson: the stress at work is actually an opportunity. Every day is tough right now. I get up even though I want to hide under the covers all day. I'm on-guard the entire day at work, ready to be hurt and upset. I feel vulnerable and I hate living with the uncertainty. But I am not self-medicating with food, and I am hoping that I am learning to break that auto-response to stress.
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