Saturday, March 02, 2013
Part of my success with Spark People has been learning to enjoy and look forward to creative, healthy snacks. This is in striking contrast to my previous old habits of uncontrolled binge snacking where I literally ate everying in sight to the point of painful discomfort followed by a miserable night of sleep. Good grief, that sounds awful doesn't it? But I really did that almost every evening. My goodness, I'm so glad those days are behind me. Now I plan my daily eating and confirm with my food tracker to see how many calories I want (and need) to take in to complete my day. It's kind of neat to realize that I need to snack at the end of the day to get the nutrition and fuel my body requires. Imagine that, needing to snack! I can deal with this new improved way of living! This kind of snack is good for me and feels like a special treat to look forward to in the evening for good discipline throughout the day. Still, I recently found myself in a bit of a snacking rut in spite of these good changes. I was getting a little tired of my popcorn, nuts, fruit, and chocolate snacks. I also realized that in spite of good overall eating, I needed to get more fiber in my diet. I considered commerical fiber suppliments and saw all kinds of artificial ingredients (and a rather expensive price tag) and decided there has got to be a better way to do this. So I designed a new evening snack for myself - a snack with purpose! I start with a half cup of fiber one or all bran cereal (60 calories, 14 grams of fiber), a half cup of homemade fat free plain yogurt (55 calories - and yes I've started making my own yogurt - it's fun to do) and a half cup of frozen blueberries (41 calories) and mix them all together and I've got a semi-frozen, crunchy, sweet-sour mix that I have found to be quite pleasing and satisfying (156 calories). The fiber is filling and it is providing the desired benefits :) So this is a new twist on my snacking - combining purpose, flavor, and reward treat together in one package. Nice!
Monday, February 25, 2013
I've got a new routine going that is annoying. Every night for the past week I have consistently awoken between 4:00 or 4:30 AM with cramps in the calves of my leg, usually my right leg. I get up walk it off and go back to sleep. Strange. This morning it was different. The cramps came at 6:30 when it was time to get up anyway. I just had blood work done and my potassium levels were fine. Dehydrated? I've been drinking eight cups of water a day consistently. I can't figure this one out.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
I think my body likes to play tricks on me! For ten days there was no change. I did absolutely everything right - exercise and diet - nothing. The scale didn't budge. So I get myself psyched for the long haul. I realize that my metabolism has probably slowed down and that the rest of my weight loss (ten more pounds) is going to take a long time. Then boom in two days the scale suddenly drops by a little more than two pounds. I don't get it but I'm not complaining. I guess its just a reminder not to get too worried about the day to day fluctuations - or flat, very long flat readings. I did cut my daily calorie intake back from 2100 to 1800, upon the advice of my Spark Coach (I was advised not to go any lower than that, however). That may have helped get things moving again. Anyway, today is a day of celebration. I've now lost 40 pounds. I'm now only four pounds overweight according to the strict Centers for Disase Control standard for my height and body type. I'll get rid of those pounds too, sooner or later (who knows what trick my body will play on me next -- it does I believe have a mischevious sense of humor). So anyway, its great to note, at this milestone, all that has been accomplished. Today I will reduce my blood pressure medicine by half, as per my doctor's instruction. It's no longer necessary to take the higher dose. I've already stopped taking medication for cholesterol. That medicine is not necessary anymore either. I remember the Spark People visualizations encouraging us, when we were beginners, to imagine our future self thanking us for starting this journey. Well, I am now that future self thanking my past self for starting this journey. I am so glad I decided to do this. I am grateful for this web site and for Spark friends and for the spiritual resources that have all come together to help me get to this place.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I'm glad I asked Spark Coach if its normal for weight loss to slow down as you approach your target weight. The answer is yes, "it's normal (and even necessary)." I've noticed the change. Up until recently I have been steadily losing about two pounds a week. I thought incorrectly that this would continue until I reached my target weight. However, last week in spite of careful adherence to diet and exercise I lost perhaps a half pound. It was nice to hear from Spark Coach that this is normal at this stage in my weight loss effort. This is what Spark Coach said to me: "The last 10 pounds, especially, will typically come off at a rate close to half a pound per week, rather than two. The main reason for this is that you burn considerably fewer calories at your lower weight. For example, at 223 pounds, you probably need around 2500 calories just to maintain that weight, even without much exercise and activity. There's plenty of room in your calorie budget to take out 1000 calories per day without causing problems. At 185, though, that number is probably down to about 2000 or even less. To continue losing two pounds per week, you'd need to cut your calorie intake down to 1000 day. But if you did that, your body would react by lowering your metabolic rate even further, increasing the rate of muscle loss and shutting down certain non-essential activities. That's not healthy, and it's a good way to guarantee that any weight you do lose will be come right back once you return to normal eating." This all made good sense to me.
So what does this mean?
1. Celebrate - I'm doing well and progressing as expected.
2. Adjust expectations - it will probably take much longer to lose the final ten pounds than it did to lose the first ten - in fact it could take up to 20 weeks according to Spark Coach's estimate of a half pound per week, 0.5 x 10 = 20 (i.e. until the middle of July).
3. Enjoy to the fullest the benefits I'm already experiencing because of the weight I've lost so far (nearly 40 pounds!) - more energy, more strength, excellent medical lab results, reduced medications needed, a smile on my face when I look at myself in the mirror :)
4. Keep focused - Re-double the effort! I'm working on a narrower margin now (a smaller deficit of calories per day) so this would be a really bad time to become a slacker! It will take longer now to recover from any binges or indulgences - so evaluate choices carefully.
5. This period will be good training for maintenance once I do reach my target weight. Knowing that my "reduced-size" body now needs less calories let's me see why it would be so easy to gain weight back quickly if I were to return to old unhealthy habits. Maintenance will allow a little more freedom calorie wise but will not be a significant change from my current practice.
So in summary. I'm at a good place. I'll keep up the good work, indeed I'll re-double my effort and be extra careful, to make sure I get to my ultimate goal in time. I will adjust my expectations so that I don't get discouraged by the more gradual progress that characterizes the "final ten." I'll rejoice each day knowing how much healthier I already am, taking time to smile when I look in the mirror. I'll consider this a time of practice for the even longer term project of maintenance which will commence upon my arrival at my target weight.
By the way, I calculated how much of a calorie deficit I have successfully created so far to lose the weight I've lost - amazing 38 lbs x 3500 calories - 133,000. Impressive! I have made enough consistent diet and exercise choices to create an overall deficit of 133,000 calories causing my weight to drop by 38 pounds. So on that note, 35,000 to go for the final ten! Let's do it!
Monday, February 11, 2013
This is just remarkable. I got test results this morning from my medical check up. All I can say is that four months of working really hard at the Spark People program has paid off big time. My total cholesterol is now 121. For me that seems miraculous! My "bad" LDL cholesterol - 56. Wonderful! You have to understand that I've been taking medication, simvastatin, because in the past my cholesterol level was well into the 200s - borderline high. What a difference four months of consistent diet and exercise has made! My blood pressure was 120/80 - perfect (I've been on medication for that too and the doctor thinks I can start reducing the medication now). Triglicerides 80 - optimal. In every category I aced the test! This is really good news for me because I am a person with a family history of heart disease and strokes. Folks, stick with the program! This work we're doing together is really good for our long-term health.
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