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And the journey continues

Friday, August 16, 2013

Five years ago was the last time I saw any number below 160 on the scale. It has been reading 156.5 – 157 during the past week. 157 has been my goal weight and here it is. I should be ecstatic, bursting with pride, or at least doing a happy dance. Instead I went out to lunch and ate a fattening entrée, the whole thing, disregarding the high calorie count. Then a coffee get together at my house with a few of my friends in the neighborhood was an excuse to buy a large package of mini-scones, and proceed to eat quite a few of them. At least I recognized that I would eat all of the left overs and threw them in the trash.

I can see that maintaining a particular weight is all about VIGILANCE EVERY DAY. I have been reading some of the articles on maintenance and there is a lot of helpful advice but it really comes down to getting up each and every morning with the thought that VIGILANCE is the only way to keep the weight off. Losing weight and keeping it off is a time consuming life- long project.

Several things I read outside of Spark People really made me see that without VIGILANCE the weight will come back.

First important fact is …“And it gets harder to keep the pounds off as the years roll by…” Life gets busier, you add more activities, the stresses get harder to manage, many social occasions include eating, hard to find time to make healthy meals, and fat, sweet, salty foods taste really good. Broccoli is not as interesting. The life issues and aging process are not going to go away and the weight maintenance issue needs VIGILANCE.

Second idea I recognized was that the maintenance articles are all about the choices and plans that you need to make and do to keep the weight off. But I found that there are reasons why it may be difficult to keep off weight I’ve already lost and I really need to be VIGILANT in watching my choices. There are weight gaining traps. In just a few days of seeing that 157 number on my scale I am already taking action to nudge the scale number back up.

Trap 1: Eating Larger Portions
For the last year I have been being careful when I go out to eat in restaurants. Then I get to a target weight and I pig out on a large, heavily sauced plate of spaghetti. It wasn’t even a great choice at that restaurant, something inside snapped when I was looking at the menu. Then instead of buying the right amount of food for the number of people at the coffee get together, I bought way too much for all of us to eat. That gave me the excuse to eat 8 little scones.

Trap 2: Consuming Too Many Calories
“Your weight loss management includes watching your calorie intake. Eat only lean protein, fish, vegetables and fruits for meals. Avoid sugary cakes, cookies and high-calorie sodas. Also resist the urge to add butter and other condiments to your food.” You can see where I totally fell into this trap by using a coffee get together to justify buying scones. I never have anything like that in the house or even eat it outside of the house anymore. The day before I made a vegetable stew for dinner and used full-fat mascarpone cheese instead of low fat sour cream. At least there is no butter in the house to add to sauces I like to make.

Trap 3: Exercising Less Often
I HATE to exercise and can find any excuse to avoid it. You can see where this is going. Yesterday I canceled the morning walk because of the coffee get together. Later in the afternoon, I was cleaning out cupboards, moving boxes and clearing out some items from the garage. I justified not doing a video or taking a walk because I was being active. Although I was very active it wasn’t the same as doing a fitness video and it is easy to find excuses to avoid doing the exercise.

Trap 4: Not Drinking Enough Water
This is not a problem, although sometimes when I get busy I don’t drink as much as I should.

Trap 5: Too Busy
This is always an excuse I use to avoid exercising. It takes time to eat healthy and exercise every day. Sometimes it is hard to incorporate them when the demands pile up. It is easy to get off track one day and then find that it is weeks later and you haven’t been making great food choices and your walking shoes haven’t been outside in quite a while. Somehow I have to motivate myself to work in the exercise. This will be a big struggle but I find that if I don’t exercise my eating choices deteriorate rapidly.

Trap 6: Buying Unhealthy Food
Oh this is so easy to do. Walking in the grocery store is an exercise in will power especially if you don't have a plan before you go in. Obviously choosing sugary, fat foods is one of my problems since I succumbed to the mini-scones. I generally make my list but this time I did not have a thoughtful plan before I went to the store. This is something I can avoid by not being Hungary when I shop and writing down what I am going to buy before I go in. I am beginning to worry about the holidays that begin in October and all of the social gatherings involving food. Bringing hummus and celery gets old.

Trap 7: Not Getting Enough Sleep
This is not usually a problem, although I am more aware of nibbling if I wake up in the middle of the night. I have a few go to small low calorie choices which help me resist the urge to eat half of a peanut butter jar (something I have done in the past).

VIGILANCE is going to be my mantra. Also, over the next few months I am going to watch my motivations and feelings as I continue on the journey. Breaking bad habits and making new ones that will stick is going to take a lot of time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CARRIE1948 9/5/2013 4:05PM

    This is brilliant! Wonderful advice.

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    It seems like we all suffer from these problems at one time or another and need to be vigilant against them. It's too easy to put it back on.

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Calories sneaking up

Friday, August 09, 2013

There are foods that I do not eat because they cause me physical pain, such as thick steaks and cheesecakes. It is easy not to choose them under any circumstances because I suffer the next day. I believe that they are too high in saturated fats for me. Then there are foods I love and have a hard time doing any portion control such as pasta, brownies, chocolate or cookies.

In any form --cold, hot, red sauce, white sauce, no sauce, with vegetables, with meat—pasta is my favorite food to eat and portion control goes out the window. So I don’t make it and don’t order it very often at restaurants. I have eaten a whole pan of brownies by myself out of the freezer. So I avoid brownies by never making them. Most brownies you buy in bakeries or stores don’t taste really good to me, often too sweet so I can resist them.

The Spark program advocates moderation and figuring out how to bring in “problem foods” into your life. They say the studies show if you ban foods from your life the foods will cause problems and that you will not avoid them indefinitely. If there are no new strategies, then it may result in bingeing on all the foods you’ve been denying yourself, undoing all your hard work in a single day. then those foods could cause you to over indulge and then gain weight back.

The Spark People also say “you won't have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don’t interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you’ll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets.” The idea is that you develop new habits, make different choices, and trust your instinct to make better food decisions.

My cholesterol numbers have been rising over the past year so I have been attempting to follow the cholesterol food plan. I have lost weight but it stalled so I did a two week Focus and brought my weight down. This week I have been following the plan but I notice that I am slipping again. I realized that I eat too many foods with high fat calorie counts. Peanut butter, feta cheese, low fat cheese, olive oil, low fat sour cream and skim milk are good but not all of them all in one day. I had been holding the fat calories to around 40-45 the low end of my range. This week I have been eating about 60-70, the high end of my range.

For the next 4 days, I am going to go back to 40 calories of fat each day and meanwhile try to think how to make better decisions. Because I can see that I will need to do this for all my problem foods, the ones that I have a hard time saying no and have difficulty with portion control.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SADIEMAE32 8/13/2013 11:18AM

    I agree with STARTINGOVER37. I cut out all of my problem foods daily, but once a week I have a cheat day. I eat those foods then, but also use that time to work on portion control. But since it's my cheat day, if I go over then I don't get down on myself. Like you, I hope one day to have control over them.

Good luck!! emoticon

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    I hope it works well for you.

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KEYTOSLIM 8/9/2013 12:59AM

    I too had to find ways to manage my "problem foods". I try to use the 80/20 rule. 80% of my calories must be quality food. 20% are the things like creamer in my coffee, crackers with my salad, etc. It helped me!

Good Luck!

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STARTINGOVER37 8/9/2013 12:24AM

    You do need to have a day each week that is a cheat day, but you want to be sure to still not over indulge. Just knowing that if you can make it to Wednesday you can have a special treat for all of your hard work. Maybe to keep yourself from eating all the brownies, you could make a pan of brownies take one out for your treat day and then take the remaining on a plate to a neighbor. My cheat day is generally on Fridays, because I weigh in that morning and then I have a week to work off whatever I may have decided to eat. I like all kinds of food and don't want to have to cut them out permanently. You will notice the less you eat something that you enjoyed it doesn't taste as good when you eat it again. I used to drink several cans of pop a day, but now I can barely stand the taste of any kind of pop. You can do this, it just takes time. Hang in there and you will get it all figured out.

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Three down in Phase 1 and One to go in Phase 2

Monday, August 05, 2013


On July 14 my weight was at 161.

July 21 was the Start of 2 week FOCUS:
Goal was to lose 4 pounds to get to 157.

Weight results are:
July 21 160.5
July 28 159
Aug 5 157.5

Lost 3 pounds over the two weeks

How it all worked:
1. To follow the Spark Meal Plans very closely.
ACTUAL: The first week I ate every meal at home, but the second week I ate out 3 times and although I made good choices I probably should have eaten less of the entrées

2. Reduce down the amount of FATS I eat each day
ACTUAL: Tracked my fat calories each and every day and adjusted them to stay between 30-45.

3. To stay within 1400 calories which is at the low end of my range
ACTUAL: Stayed within my calorie amount for almost every day of the whole two weeks.

4. To do Spark Coach every day
ACTUAL: Did check in each day

5. To do a Fitness streak for 10 or more min each day
ACTUAL: Did a minimum of 10 minutes each day

6. To earn at least 100 Spark Points each day
ACTUAL: Did accomplish this but 25 points was the Spark Coach.

7. To do at least 500 calories work of exercises each day
ACTUAL: For the first week I did do 500 calories of exercise but the second week I only did about 350 each day.

8. To reflect on where I am in my life right now.
ACTUAL: During the second week I found myself getting very cranky and ate at the top of my calories during the last week and even went over one day. Maintaining motivation is very hard.

What I learned is that this takes a lot of time to plan, record and monitor. I didn’t have anyone I needed to take care of, had a very quiet two weeks with very few commitments. There were some minor family issues but nothing that caused a lot of stress. Even so it was very hard not to want to eat some of my favorite comfort foods in large quantities. I had to remind myself that I was doing a two week focus. It is going to be harder to try to do this on a daily basis as life becomes busier and the social occasions come around.

To make this weight loss plan work
•I need to get my exercise in early each day.
•Be dedicated to having healthy snacks easily available all the time
•Watch the amount of fats I eat each and every day
•Make good portion choices

I cannot emphasis enough how much dedicated time it took to lose these 3 pounds. However at the rate I had been going I was not going to get to my first goal weight of 157 by September. Now I know I will get there.


I am going to be more realistic for this next phase which is to get to 157 and stay there or below 157 for two weeks.

My major plans are
1. To follow the Spark Meal Plans very closely and stay under 1500 calories
2. Keep the amount of FATS I eat each day between 30-45
3. To monitor my portions when I eat out, at events or celebrations
4. To do Spark Coach every day
5. To Keep a Fitness streak for 10 or more min each day and to do 300 calories work of exercises four out of seven days
6. Keep a list of snacks I can eat anytime and make them available everyday
7. To earn at least 100 Spark Points each day
8. To reflect on where I am right now and continue to work on motivation issues

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Congratulations on the weight loss.

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Still on the way down

Saturday, August 03, 2013

I am a couple of days away from my two weeks Spark Diet Focus. I may or may not reach this 4 pound goal but I will be close. But I plan to check my weight at the end of the two weeks and reset my goal. Maybe a little less ambitious. During this focused two weeks I have figured out some problems that were keeping my weight plateaued. A good summary of the issues is an article written by Nicole Nichols " 8 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight "

When I read the article it really struck home. So I wrote down what I was doing BEFORE and then put down what I am doing NOW. Focusing this way has taken a lot of time to plan and reflect. It has been a lot of work to schedule exercise time every day for at least an hour and up to 90 minutes, planning and cooking meals, keeping good snacks around and in reminding myself of my goals almost hourly.

"You're eating back all the calories you burn."
BEFORE: Didn’t burn enough calories when working out to counter amount eaten.

NOW: I have been very conscientious about tracking food and watching how many fat grams I eat. It really has helped weight to come off.

"You're relying on exercise alone to do the trick."
BEFORE: Didn’t rely on exercise enough

NOW: Definitely not!! I am doing exercise every day but it is not excessively aerobic. I am walking longer and faster but I can see that it is still not really enough. Better though.

"You're not eating as healthfully as you think."
BEFORE: Too true. Tricked myself into thinking a small piece wouldn’t hurt. Ate too much at parties and social events.

NOW: I have not been cheating. I think before I put food in my mouth and I have been saying no to high calorie treats. Head for the refrigerator and eat some fruit.

"You're doing the wrong kinds of exercise."
BEFORE: Not doing exercise at all. A few slow strolls in the morning with the dog.

NOW: Probably not doing enough of the right kind of exercise. I have been doing more strength training but I need to increase the number of minutes. As for walking, I need to increase the amount of distance and time I walk. But it is much better.

"You're not being consistent enough."
BEFORE: Didn’t track consistently and snacked more than I admitted Didn't exercise every day.

NOW: Have been very consistent. Set up specific goals, review them each day and then track how well I did each night.

"You're not measuring the right things."

BEFORE: Not measuring at all estimating amounts of food, estimating amount of exercise

NOW: Following the program, measure everything and watch how many calories I burn each day

"You don't need to lose weight."
Wishful thinking and not my issue

"You have an underlying issue."
No thank goodness I a very lucky to be very healthy just some pounds overweight. This is big if you have a medical problem.

Here are a few other common reasons you may not be losing weight despite doing everything right:
• You're skimping on sleep.
Actually getting enough sleep.

• You don't fit the standard formulas for calorie estimation.
Wishful thinking but does not apply

• Your "cheat days" are cheating you.
BEFORE: Every day could be a cheat day
NOW: Have been staying very close to program and not doing any cheating.

• You're battling chronic stress.
No actually this is a good time, just general stress issues.

• You're eating too many or too little carbs, protein or fat.
BEFORE: Not watching exactly what I was eating, probably too much fat
NOW: following the program very closely and looking at the daily totals, reviewing the report

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CAROL_31649731 8/4/2013 11:48PM

    Very informative and reflective. As you found out yourself, it looks like, I got a look at where I need to make adjustments to keep the weight loss continuing. Thank you!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    Many of those problems apply to me. Good job on the weight loss.

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144AUTUMN 8/3/2013 12:37AM

  You can do it!!

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ZRIE014 8/3/2013 12:32AM

  keep it up. i just completed my 108 consecutive days of running - 94 consecutive days of 40+ min and now run 8 min mile

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2 pounds gone, 2 to go

Monday, July 29, 2013

A week ago I made a commitment to lose 4 pounds in 2 weeks. Well I went from 160.5 to 158.5. YEAH!!!! So I will continue on my program.
My major steps are
1. To follow the Spark Meal Plans very closely
2. Eat at the low end of my allowed amount of FATS each day
3. To stay within 1400 calories which is at the low end of my range
4. To do Spark Coach every day
5. To do a Fitness streak for 10 or more min each day
6. To earn at least 100 Spark Points each day
7. To do at least 500 calories work of exercises each day
8. To reflect on where I am in my life right now.

I have been watching my fats and I believe that I had been eating too many which kept my calories high. I just love feta cheese. I have not done 500 calories worth of exercise each day but I am getting in 300 calories most days. I can walk a faster 4 mile walk without breathing too hard. One more week and 2 more pounds. My plan is to try to keep my weight at 156.5/157 stable for about 2 weeks and then lose the last 2 pounds to goal weight of 155. Then the MAINTENANCE!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RACEWELLWON 8/3/2013 10:19AM

    Great blog - Measuring is the key for me and sometimes not very easy do , sometimes I eyeball portions and that's why I plateau . It does take a long time to prepare meals and schedule workouts so why not take the time to measure !! emoticon

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    You are doing amazing!! Getting so close to goal! Good luck!

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MDWSTRNR 7/29/2013 12:42PM


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NATALIABUYS 7/29/2013 12:15PM

    Great planning!!


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RODGRODMEDFLOD 7/29/2013 11:31AM

    That is fantastic! Good plan too.


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