Sunday, December 25, 2011
Yesterday, I blogged about how frantic I was while I was trying to buy my family's Christmas gifts the day before Christmas Eve. I was wrong when I said that I waited until the last minute to get everyone's gift. There is one gift that I've been working on for 231 days: my own. This year I gave myself the best present ever. Basically, I gave myself my life back. Over 70 pounds of my body is completely gone (almost a third of myself)!!! When I started this journey, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I knew, and although I was partially right, I was still way off. I thought I just wanted to lose weight and feel good again. However, I had been obese for so long that I didn't even know what feeling good meant anymore. I thought I did. But, I underestimated the feeling. No, I really, really underestimated it. When you lose this much weight, your life changes in a million ways. Every moment is perceived differently. You might not notice it constantly, especially if you lose yourself in your work or other daily hustle bustle. But, when you stop and look around and take it all in, you clearly understand that things are really different. You really feel great; you really feel alive. Honestly, it will probably still take me quite a bit more time to get used to being myself again. I also think the mental shift you make to lose the weight is different than the mental shift you need to make to live in the changes that have been made. I'm not just talking about maintaining the weight loss; I'm also talking about living and enjoying your life in the present moment. Granted, you don't need to lose weight in order to do this, but when you do that moment is all the better to enjoy. All of that running around and shopping I did late last night was much more enjoyable and easier to do weighing 70 pounds less than I did last winter. In fact, just about everything is easier and more enjoyable to do.
Anyhow, it's late and I just wanted to share that this Christmas I received an awesome gift. And, I gave it to myself.
Happy Holidays to everyone!
Saturday, December 24, 2011
What a crazy day! I've gotten into the terrible habit of waiting until the absolute last minute to do Christmas shopping. My family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve every year. So, that means I usually start shopping around the 23rd of December and either finish the same day or early the next morning. Usually, we make a few "preview" trips to the mall or department stores to get ideas. Then, once I have a fairly good idea of what I'm going to get, I go for it. Of course, things rarely go as planned. Stores will run out of what they had just a couple days ago. I'll change my mind about certain gifts and start questioning others. It always seems to end with late night shopping right before the stores close. Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with the whole thing. As frantic as it all is, there is something slightly magical about hurrying down the hallways of the mall, bags of gifts in hand, with the most dramatic Trans-Siberian Orchestra songs playing in the background.
I'm back at home now, after a pretty successful trip around town. Every present has been purchased, except for one which I plan to run out and get early tomorrow morning. Even if I don't get to that one, I have a backup gift that I can wrap in its place. Thankfully, I got my exercise in earlier today; because now I am completely spent. Time to spend the rest of night in front of our glowing tree, wrapping presents with my partner, in anticipation of the excitement and festivities that tomorrow will bring.
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
With the holiday season in full swing, last week was a crazy one for me. For a lot of us here, social events and the food and drinks that go along with them pose major challenges. We have parties and events all year long, but rarely are so many gatherings condensed into one month as they are in December. On one of my SparkTeams, a question was posted in our forum seeking tips on how to handle all of these gatherings. As I typed my response, the list of my methods grew a lot longer than I anticipated, so I thought I would share my tips here as well.
I'm certainly no expert, but I had five events last week, consumed a half pound of peppermint bark and still managed to lose 2 pounds, so there must be something to this strategy. Here are my party suggestions:
1) Eat less, earlier in the day. Don't starve yourself or it will backfire, but cut back a bit depending on how much you plan to consume that evening.
2) Do not skip any meals; just make your meals smaller earlier in the day (assuming it's an evening event).
3) Exercise more, preferably shortly before the event/party. I try to work out, shower and then head to the party/event. I'm more mindful of my goals during the party if I can still feel that I worked out earlier. Plus, it may give you a little "glow" while you are socializing.
4) Eat something immediately before the event that will fill you up. I either eat this right before I walk out the door or on the way to the party. A Slim Fast Meal Bar, chicken breast or other low-calorie nutrient-dense snack works great.
5) Bring something healthy to share. If you are bringing something to share, be sure to bring something really nutritious and low in calories. There will be plenty of high-calorie, nutrient-free options (you don't need to add more).
6) Arrive late. I can never seem to leave a party early, so this last week I've been trying to arrive late instead. This isn't always an option. But, when it is, it helps on two fronts a) as a whole you have less exposure to all of the food/drink temptations and b) the least healthful foods will probably be picked over. Don't worry; the veggie tray is almost always the last to go.
7) Skip the food if it's a short event. If your get together is only an hour or two, you may be able to skip eating there altogether. I had one event last week that was a graduation ceremony. There was cake and punch, but the event was short enough that I was able to go without. Sometimes, once you start, it is hard to stop. I had my snack before I left for the ceremony and ate something else when I got back home.
8) Track your food. Just because there's a party doesn't mean you need to throw everything out the window. Since I have a phone with the SparkPeople app on it, I usually track as I go. If you can't do that (sometimes it isn't convenient even with a smartphone), just jot down what you eat on a piece of paper. The problem with the paper method is that you may not realize you've eaten a half pound of peppermint bark until it is already too late. Still, the act of writing it down will slow your pace and keep your eyes on the prize.
9) Veggies. Measure them. Bring them. Eat them. This is super important because there's always the chance that there will be absolutely nothing to snack on that fits into your plan. Bring some veggies (pre-measured baggies or containers if you are not at your own house). Women will probably find this easier to do than men because they have purses. I use one of those insulated reusable bags. I find a spot for it when I get to the event and fill my plate as often as necessary. Most people won't notice, and those that do really won't care. It's important to have some pre-cut veggies available at your own house as well. Have enough for your guests, but also have a reserve for yourself if you end up getting hungry later on.
10) Limit your alcohol consumption. Obviously, there are many reasons to do this. I originally thought that the main reason would be calories, but in hindsight it is even more important so that you don't lose sight of your goals and keep your food consumption in check. It's a lot easier to go overboard when you are under the influence. And, the alcohol hits you harder when you are eating less. Bring your own diet soda if that will help. Otherwise, don't be afraid to ask the host for some water.
11) Find your "golden" snack. It's the holidays, time to be merry. But, rather than mindlessly eating a bunch of different foods that you like, pick something that you LOVE and enjoy that. My selection was peppermint bark last Tuesday and a couple pieces of pie on Sunday night. Sure, I could have had cheesy potatoes, casseroles, meats and cheeses, fudge and other candies. I like them. But, if I ate them all, I could only have a very little bit of each. Instead, I skipped them all, ate my own healthful food and saved my calories for the stuff that I really, really love. When the night is over, you'll feel more satisfied (at least I did).
And, don't forget to slice it! My pie and peppermint bark were both divided into multiple smaller servings. By slicing, breaking or dividing your "golden" snack into smaller servings, you can extend your special treat into multiple servings that will help you feel like you are getting more than you actually are. You may get lucky and find that you don't even want to go back for that additional portion.
12) Forgive yourself. If you do overindulge, just remember it is one day, one week, whatever. One night of indulging isn't going to make or break your weight loss journey. Forgive yourself and get over it quickly. Life is short, enjoy it.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Last night, I attended my brother-in-law's college graduation ceremony. Graduation ceremonies can be long (and boring at some points). But, the silver lining is that they are always filled with a lot of positivity. Words of encouragement and congratulatory speeches flow from the podium and by the end of the night the energy in the auditorium is pulsating with positive thoughts, dreams and accomplishments. I ended up enjoying the event much more than I thought I would. It also got me thinking later on in the night about the words that we say to each other and ourselves. Think about the comments you make to your friends, family and even strangers throughout the day.
"You'll be fine."
"It is what it is."
"You're doing great."
"It's not the end of the world."
"It will be fun."
"Tomorrow is a new day."
"You can do it."
"Everything will work out."
"You're doing the best that you can."
"It's going to be fine."
"Don't be so hard on yourself."
"I love you."
We are so gentle, kind and forgiving with others. But, do we treat ourselves with the same respect and generosity? I know that I have used each of the above phrases with others at least once this week. However, I've probably only said one or two of them to myself (and that's on a good week). This is definitely something I need to work on. Hopefully, if you find yourself in the same situation, you can take some time to be your own best friend.
Friday, December 16, 2011
My new absolute favorite holiday treat is Williams-Sonoma Peppermint Bark. This is definitely not health food (although it has some calcium and almost no sodium). However, as I understand it, one of the premises at SparkPeople is not to fully omit or demonize any specific food or food group, but rather to focus on moderation. If you practice mindful eating and moderation, you can pretty much fit any type of food into your diet.
Unfortunately, when I consumed a half pound of peppermint bark at a holiday party on Tuesday night, I was not practicing mindful eating or moderation. I was logging my food throughout the night, but I didn't actually add up the ounces I ate until after all of our guests had left. Do I feel bad about it? Nope. I really don't. Yes, I could have avoided eating so much of it. But, the reality is that I doubt I'm going to gain any weight this week. And, even if I do, it will probably be from an accumulation of five events all happening in one week rather than my one night in peppermint bark bliss.
Yes, after reviewing my calorie intake and nutrients for the day, I was shocked at how much peppermint bark I actually ate. And, I might have felt a little bit of guilt or worry right in that one moment. But, after thinking about it, this is where I am at right now. I would rather enjoy a treat that I really, really like with a bunch of friends instead of mindlessly eating pint after pint of ice cream alone. Those days are long gone.
So there you have it. I had my peppermint bark, and ate it, too.
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