SUNSHINE20113   27,252
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6 months with sparkpeople - reflection time!!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

This is a special marker for me because I spent three months reaching my goal weight and have now spent three months in maintenance mode. I have still lost weight whilst maintaining, but much more slowly. These last three months have felt more like my body has been making its' mind up about what feels right. I think my mind has been doing exactly the same thing!!

I've jotted down a few paragraphs because my thoughts about the last 6 months are quite hard to pin down into something cohesive. These are just some things that I've noticed about my life now that I wanted to share.

I have to start here because this is where it began! I eat less now. I still eat everything that I love and I still absolutely love eating, but in much smaller portions. I have also developed a great love for fruit. I now find that I will gladly choose chopped mango slices over a cookie or cake. That still surprises me. I have also found that I love the idea of a food budget - it works for me. Do I have enough in my budget for this packet of crisps/ If I eat this cookie now, will I be able to eat my evening treat later? Sometimes, just spending time looking at all the calories in various slabs of chocolate at the store is all I need to decide that, actually, i don't want it after all. Calorie counting has taught me to stop and think before I eat.

This afternoon I shaved another minute off my 5km jogging time. When I started sparking I was suffering from a painful leg injury - an injured IT band - and had been told to stop jogging altogether by my doctor and begin working on strength training instead. The articles on sparkpeople, plus excellent guidance from my doctor have enabled me to be able to jog now pain free and it is such a pleasure to have that back again.I'm still not running the 10km races that I was running before the injury, but I am confident that I will be back at it by the end of the year pain free!
I used to exercise so that I could eat more food. Now that seems to have switched around. I eat food so that I can exercise better - another amazing mind switch for me that happened without me really realizing.
The spark programme doesn't increase your calorie intake on days that you have exercised. It seems to encourage an average calorie range based on how much you exercise a week. This has helped me to turn exercise into something regular and has also helped me to see exercise as being a part of my life rather than an excuse to eat an extra piece of pie!

This is probably the greatest gift a person losing weight can give to themselves. We want everything yesterday, but taking time to nurture good habits helps to solidify them and also helps our minds to get used to the idea of change. Patience leads to forgiveness for the days when I ate too much chocolate, or went over my calorie limit, or was too tired to exercise. It was ok, because there was the next day, and the day after that where I would be able to make healthier choices.

This one has taken a while. At first the new image of me in the mirror was quite foreign and I was not too sure if I felt comfortable with this new 'skinny me'. I now find myself feeling happy with the way I look and identifying the person I see in the mirror as the person that I have always wanted to be. That thought - that really all I have ever wanted to be is me - fills me with such happiness and delight.

Not just of what I eat, but of the world around me. Suddenly I'm paying attention to life and to what I want from it.

Decision making
It certainly started with 'do I want to the fruit box or the muffin' when ordering food at Starbucks, but now this type of questioning is moving into choices I make at work, in relationships and at home.

Spreading the Spark
My husband has now lost twenty pounds. In my valentines card this year, he described me as his inspiration. Sharing a healthier lifestyle is great. It's nice that we are both now more conscious of what we eat and I think it will help to make this a permanent change in our lives. I was having a chat with a fellow colleague at work who told me she had started counting calories too - she called me her inspiration! If that's not motivation to keep the weight off, then I don't know what is!

Reaching my goal weight was anything but a full stop. It is turning into the longest sentence in the world! I wouldn't even call it a new chapter or a new paragraph, because it certainly is a continuation - I haven't stopped sparking and don't think I will for a long time. It has opened my eyes to a world of potential, of what could be, and I'm rather excited about that......

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOANNA202 3/4/2012 4:47PM

    What a wonderful blog! You sound really happy and settled in yourself, even if this is just a marker in the road. And so wonderful to be an inspiration to those around you - that shouldn't just be a reason for you to keep going, but to give yourself a great, shining pat on the back too :-)

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    GREAT blog! I have figured out many of the same things you have. Congrats!

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NANT406 3/3/2012 5:12PM

    Great insite. Thanks for sharing. You are an inspiration. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Out with the old.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Friday night I staged a bit of a fashion parade. I emptied all my clothes out onto the bed and began trying them on, one by one. I had asked my DH if he would mind being my second eyes because I knew that there would be some outfits I was emotionally attached to, but that perhaps weren't fitting properly any more.

So began about an hour and half's worth of working through memories and learning about how I dress. I have clothes that span my adult life and it was interesting to try on the older clothes that fit me perfectly now (because I was skinnier then) and compare it with the clothes from the last four years or so that were just too big. I learned that when by body was larger, I bought clothes that just hung over me - my body had enough shape to not need any tailoring. Now, those clothes just hang. As my DH said,' they do nothing for your figure.' (Now, I would not have thought about it like that as I've never thought about having a figure before - this is why having someone around to help is good. Especially when they know you well and have seen you in all your shapes and sizes.)

Other clothes, the more expensive ones that I was hoping to still hold onto, got the comment 'they looked good when you fitted into them properly, but now they just make you look larger than you actually are'. Hmmmm. So, I created a 'tailor' pile, hoping that some of these items might be able to be taken in a bit.

Then there were the clothes I had bought in the hope that 'one day' they would fit. These were the most rewarding outfits to try on. Almost like a gift from my past self to my current self saying, 'I knew you could do it'.

In the time it would take to watch a movie, I learned that now I needed to look for more tailored outfits - especially tailored tops. I also found it fascinating how some of my clothes were able to adapt to my new figure (they looked different, but still looked good), whilst others had lost all the appeal that they had once had.

In a funny way, I also had a chance to process the memories that go with some outfits, and feel okay about letting the outfits go. I felt that, though the memories were sweet, I was ready to create new memories in outfits that were who I am now, rather than who I was. That was the most special part of the evening. That, and a slightly deeper understanding between my DH and I about what this weight loss has meant.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. You sorted, cleansed, healed and bonded. It is especially fun to find something from our "I was hoping one day it would fit" pile that does NOW fit. As you said, like a gift from yourself from Body past. I loved your blog today.

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JOANNA202 2/19/2012 3:25PM

    Sounds like he was extremely helpful and gave some proper perspective for you. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend an evening, very gratifying. And you've got a great canvas for making some beautiful memories now.

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    That is WONDERFUL! I did that last year when I had lost the 40 pounds and had a ton of summer stuff that was way too big. The stuff that I loved that looked good when I was bigger just hung off of me. I laughed! It was funny and also awesome at the same time. It felt GREAT to get rid of everything that didn't fit. Congrats! :)

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Denial vs acceptance

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Last Friday I went and bought a brand new pair of trousers. My current pair of 'work' trousers has been falling off me for about two months and I felt it was time to take the plunge and commit to my new figure by buying clothes for it.
I've been nervous, you see. I've been wondering how long this 'new weight' will last and not wanting to go and buy new clothes because 'I won't be able to wear them for long'.
However, it's been 9 weeks now. And i haven't gained any weight (I'm actually still struggling to keep my weight stable) and ...... my trousers are falling off me.
So, I went to the store, walked around a lot, until eventually a shop assistant came and asked me if I needed help. He guided me to the 'black bootleg trouser' area (these are not in fashion, but I know what works for my short legs and skinny jeans don't!!) and then towards the changing room.
I took a size 10 and 8 with me (American size 6 and 4) knowing that I was now about two sizes smaller than before. Imagine my surprise when it was the size 8 that I ended up buying! (Me, a size 8??)
I got home that night and showed the trousers to my husband explaining how strange it felt to be a size 8 and how worried I was I was going to gain weight back again. He then went and cut off the tags with the size on the trousers and attached to one of our wedding pictures, saying, well, you're not planning on gaining the weight back, are you? (To which I said 'no') and then he said, 'well, that's ok, then'.
Now I have a subtle reminder of my new size - at least when it comes to my waist and hips. I went clothes shopping again today and left with a size ten blouse (the size that I thought only belonged to skinny people, the size I never believed I would be) after trying on more size 8 skirts and size 10 dresses - confirming once again to my 'in denial' mind that, yes, I'm one of those skinny people now. Yes, it's true.
I think my body has gone through the metamorphosis, but my mind is still seeing me as overweight person I have always been. Other people can see the changes, but I can't see them quite as clearly. (To the point that I'm wondering if they've increased the sizes of clothes over the last two months!!)
After two days spent shopping, I now realize that I need a bit of a mind make over to help me see the new figure that I have and get used to the idea of it - budget allowing. I also think I need to throw away my larger clothes - not store them some place 'for when i need them again'.

It must have something to do with me being out of a comfort zone - I'm in a better zone, just not the one I'm used to. I knew what looked good in my bustier rounder figure - those clothes don't look good anymore (It's so weird to try on clothes and not have my breasts pop out within seconds!). Now, just like with changing my eating habits and choices, I'm needing to learn new dressing habits, and, oddly enough, a new way of relating to the world around me. Other people are seeing me differently - I think I need to see myself in that new light too.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4A-HEALTHY-BMI 2/16/2012 6:24PM

    I can relate to this - I was just recently thinking about how annoyed I was trying on dresses at the mall for my nephew's upcoming wedding. And I realized that my criteria for what I think looks good have changed. I'm still just about equally frustrated, but in a different way from how I used to be.

My pre-loss criteria at my high weight were that
1) the item actually GO ON, and
2) that it be not completely unflattering.

My current criteria are that
1) the bust, waist, hips all fit comfortably; neither baggy nor tight, and at the right place on my body
2) that the clothes flatter me

I'm pickier now, as it turns out, and that makes clothes shopping just about as frustrating as it ever was. In some ways more frustrating because I was content before with stuff that might be too baggy or have to stretch some, as long as it went on at all.

It takes a lot longer to change our minds than our bodies. Body image dysmorphia is real! LOL

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    Our mind continues to play tricks on us. When we are heavy, we don't really see that but then when the weight is lost, we can't see that either.

What a great accomplishment for you. This new you is the forever you.

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    Awesome! It really does take a while to get used to your smaller you. I've been on a plateau for 6 months (recently broke through finally!) and it took a long time but now I've gotten used to being the size I am. And ready to lose more. Only 10 more pounds to my goal. Hang in there and DEFINITELY get rid of those old clothes! They don't fit!

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JOANNA202 2/15/2012 5:38PM

    I'm slightly freaked out by this blog because these are the exact same thoughts I've been having for the last couple of days! There are times when my new size 10s are too loose but in my mind only kids and very skinny people are size 8. Turns out, fit healthy grown ups are too!

I do think it's best to chuck out the old clothes though because then if the new ones start to feel tight you'll recognise it and do something about it. If the bigger clothes are hanging in the wardrobe you'll be more tempted to just chuck those on and say you'll get round to doing something eventually (I say all this with my size 12s still in my wardrobe!)

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A healthier Valentines Day: some recipes and ideas

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yes, I'm cooking for Valentines Day - out of choice!!!!

I thought it would be romantic to decorate our table properly, light plenty of candles and serve something a bit more nutritious than we would probably enjoy at the restaurant.

I recently bought a book called 'natural wonderfoods' and it explains the health benefits of various foods and then also provides recipes that go with them. All the recipes (except dessert - that's not healthy at all!!) come from that book.

Here's the menu:

Starter: pineapple and cucumber salad (In a nutshell: pineapple is a good anti-inflamatory and provides anti-oxidants which is much needed in this Wintery weather. I thought a pineapple was a nice brightly coloured fruit, which would look colourful on a plate and also cheer us up a little)

The pineapple and cucumber are chopped up, chilled for two hours then mixed with mayonnaise and lemon juice and granished with mint leaves.

Main course: Chicken with pineapple and honey marinade served with asparagus and cauliflower provincale. (Lots of ingredients are repeated mainly for budget reasons - apologies to those cooks who disagree with that style!!)

The cauliflower is steamed and then added to a tomato sauce (tinned tomatoes with sliced courgettes, onions and garlic - garlic is fine if we're both eating it!!!!)(It helps the liver detoxify stuff)

The asparagus is served with a honey, mustard and garlic sauce(2tbs honey, 1tsp mustard, 2 garlic cloves)(An aphrodisiac - enough said!!!)

The marinade will be interesting!! Mix chopped up pineapple with honey (according to taste) and add a tsp of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves plus 2 crushed garlic cloves). i'll probably marinade it in the chicken overnight (again, that's personal choice, marinading for two hours before is fine too) and then pop it in the oven for twenty minutes or so in a roasting bag. (chicken is low fat, but also has tons of vitamins like B6, magensium and zinc)

Dessert: mocha cream hearts
This is not the healthy part - the healthy part was everything before hand!! This is because I thought it would be cute to serve a dessert shaped as a heart!! It's also a bit more complicated than the other recipes. I think it will turn out like a small chocolate eclair in a heart shape.)
Although, not healthy I know the portion will be small, which is where it becomes healthy - all things can be eaten in moderation and in small portions!!)

All of the food has been chosen because it's my husband's favourite. i haven't checked the calories yet - I'm not sure how hgh calorie honey is. That would be the only ingredient i would be concerned about (apart from the cream and chocolate in the dessert!!!)

We also love playing board games together, so i'm busy creating a board game for us that's based on our lives since we got married. I'll give that to him at the end of the meal with our tea.

What I'm wearing while serving dinner is still to be decided - and i'll probably keep to myself!!

I'm quite excited - it's been fun planning and in this cold weather I quite like the idea of having something at home. It's a great excuse to experiment with food and will also be a great excuse to go shopping for some decent tableware!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    What a wonderful menu and a romantic plan. You will make your man understand how lucky he is.

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ANATASHIKI 2/11/2012 2:26PM

    yum ! emoticon emoticon

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KAYEMARIE24 2/11/2012 1:53PM

  Sounds like a nice dinner! I love pineapple myself. Hope your evening is filled with much enjoyment emoticon

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JOANNA202 2/11/2012 1:44PM

    I've always thought doing something at home is the most romantic way to spend valentines day, not an expensive meal out with everyone else. Loving your choices - they're making my mouth wate ( and in my experience honey isn't too heavy on the cals). You're husband is lucky man to have your doing all this for him. Enjoy!

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What the exercise instructors teach me

Monday, February 06, 2012

I've just experienced Jillian Michaels for the first time and I'm impressed!!

Her training style of combining strength and cardio is not new to me. There is a similar class at my gym that I go to and really enjoy. What makes her special is what she says. All that encouragement to keep going and not to stop - it is so motivating and so very true. Consistency is the key to exercising and it was so wonderful to hear a trainer saying that - encouraging me to keep at it.

It led me to think about a visiting instructor that we had at the gym. She kept on saying 'power' (in that loud strident gym instructor way) while we were kicking and punching, and that little word made me get my muscles to work harder and realize that there was definitely more I could be doing in a class which has much the same routine every week. That trainer taught me just a little bit more about how I exercise and it's going to go a long way.

The other thing that is very useful for me is when they say - 'push your belly button in' - this still makes more sense to me than 'activate your core' (which I'm starting to get). I have a tendency to completely forget that i have to think about using the muscles in my belly and need reminding all the time!!

I guess there are little things that may seem like common sense to a seasoned athlete, but to beginners are pure pearls of wisdom, and, every so often we come across instructors who are able to say it in exactly the way we need to hear it so that the light bulb switches on.

Then, there are the times when they actually take you seriously. Years ago now I told a gym instructor that I wanted to learn how to jog. This was after I had taken his class with the big balls (i still don't remember what they are called) and spent more time rolling off them than staying on them. The next day he found me waiting for a class and gave me a photocopy of a 6 week training plan for learning how to jog in 30 minutes. At the time I thought the guy was insane - I didn't believe I could do it!!! But, I held onto that scrap of paper and every so often I'd have a go at it. It took me nearly five years to manage to run my first five km - but I did it - and I wish I could tell that trainer I did it and how much his thoughtfulness motivated me. He sparked the belief that it might be possible in me.

I guess that's what the good instructors do: get us believing that even in our current state of fitness we can do it. We can reach those goals, whatever they may be.

whilst in the shower, I realized something else my gym instructors were telling me: you have to be eating properly as well as exercising to lose weight. I was in total denial about that one, but, after losing all the weight I thought I'd never lose by beginning to count calories and think about what I'm eating, I believe them. Maybe I'm just a slow learner!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Great blog. I like the Jillian/Bob belief that, "Yes, there is an athlete inside of you just waiting to be discovered." You have found yours. Congratulations.

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MOMMASHUTT 2/7/2012 7:47AM

    I like when they say to "tuck your butt" I giggle everytime.

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JOANNA202 2/6/2012 5:38PM

    Good to hear you so upbeat and excited. I definitely think the best thing about this is the constant learning curve - learning what works, what doesn't, facts, figures, how our bodies work. Slowly but surely we'll become experts at this. Keep up the great work!

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    Thanks for sharing!

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BARBARASDIET 2/6/2012 2:47PM

    Like that about learning to jog! I want to be able to run--maybe I just need to give it more time.

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