Saturday, April 07, 2012
Ever spent time crunching numbers to figure out the following?
1. The number of calories you need to maintain your current weight?
2. The number of calories you need to lose 1, 1.5 or 2 lbs a week?
3. The number of calories you will need to maintain your goal weight?
4. How long it will take you to reach your goal weight at a pace of 1, 1.5 or 2 lbs a week?
I have crunched these numbers endlessly and estimate that about 250 calories a day is the difference between what I need to maintain my current weight versus my goal weight. That's it. Doesn't sound like much, does it? A second helping here, skipping a walk there, two colas instead of water, etc.
In other words, every day for years, I've been doing a combination of over-eating or under-exercising that results in me consuming 250 more calories than I need. Multiply that extra 250 out by weeks, months and years, and the result is a slow, steady, sustained weight gain. Then, one day I notice I've gained 20 lbs. So I diet, lose the 20 lbs, then resume the same, sorry habits that result in those 250 extra calories a day. The rest is a predictable yo-yo pattern.
So lets say I'm working diligently to drop weight, averaging a 750 to 1,000 calorie daily deficit. Then, life gets hectic or I grow tired of my plan. Instead of quitting everything, I should just tell myself something like. "Okay, time to coast a little. I'll reduce my deficit to 250 calories a day until I'm ready to resume a more demanding regimen. I'll continue to weigh in weekly and monitor my intake, but I'm shelving the more aggressive approach for now. Then, when I'm ready, I can resume my more aggressive plan, without having to start over."
What's wrong with reducing the exercise to 2-3x a week and eating 1,950 calories a day until my life settles down or I'm ready to do more? Why abandon my plan entirely?
With a modest deficit I get the best of both worlds. I get to practice maintaining my 20 lb weight loss, and most importantly, I won't have to start over when I'm ready to get aggressive again. Instead, I tackle the next 20 lbs when I'm ready to.
In other words, it's like putting the program on a back burner instead of turning the stove off.
I don't know if it makes sense or not, but for me to internalize the fact that this doesn't have to be "all or nothing" is a major achievement.
Onward and downward.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Like anyone else, I've intellectually understood the link between lifestyle and health status, but there is no greater kick in the pants than being diagnosed with something like pre-diabetes. It was TRULY a wake-up call. Now, losing weight was no longer about fitting into a cute pair of jeans or looking good for a class reunion, it was about staying healthy.
Diabetes runs in my family, so I've always known about the risk factors. Still, when you have family members that have been robbed of their sight and limbs, pre-diabetes underscores the fact that if you don't change, you could be next.
I attended a family gathering shortly after my diagnosis and wound up seated next to my cousin J, age 59, who was diagnosed with diabetes last year. She told me she dropped 40 lbs after eliminating white rice, potatoes, white flour and pasta from her diet and exercising. At 5'6", she appeared to weigh about 160 and to wear a size 12. The weight loss also made her look 10 years younger. I was totally inspired and realized that anything is possible if you quit whining and just go do it.
I still don't know everything about my condition. I've read various websites and blogs and they are all full of conflicting information about how to eat. But one thing that's clear is that even a 5% to 10% drop in weight can make a lot of difference. So, hopefully, the 20 lbs I've dropped since January will make a difference. I have an upcoming doctor appointment to get my blood sugar tested for the first time since my diagnosis, so we'll see.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Well, I flunked my first real challenge to my healthier eating plan. I went over to my friendís house for dinner on Saturday to watch my team play and ended up devouring about two fried fish fillets, a half cup of macaroni and cheese, green beans and salad. I also had two glasses of wine. I ended up crashing at the house because of the wine. The next morning, we went out for brunch and I had four slices of French toast with butter and maple syrup, two sausage links and one scrambled egg.
I did just about everything wrong, but there were two things I got right. 1) I did some extra exercise; 2) I resolved to get back on track at the following meal. After that fattening brunch, I was back on a healthier eating plan for Sunday dinner and fully back on track by Monday.
I weighed myself this morning to assess any long term damage. I lost half a pound of water weight Iíd gained from TOM. If I stay on track, I will be okay.
I am realizing that it is not the occasional lapses that mess up goals, but the relapses where you just throw your hands in the air and give up. I didnít and I havenít. I am continuing to follow the mantra I got from a Spark People motivation page, ďAim for better everyday; never perfect right away.Ē
Friday, March 30, 2012
If you canít already tell it by viewing my home page, Iím a huge Jayhawk fan and this is a BIG weekend for those of us who follow KU. Tomorrow evening, Iím going over to a friendís house for dinner, drinks and basketball. Iím looking forward to it, but going to gatherings like this one is fraught with pitfalls.
When my team plays in the NCAA tournament, it can be stressful because Iím usually biting my nails, holding my breath and watching the game with my heart in my throat. Itís the classic thrill of victory or agony of defeat scenario. Either way, Iím at risk of overeating.
Somehow, I need to figure out how Iím going to escape this evening without ingesting 12,000 calories in one sitting. The dinner menu will include fried fish from a favorite fish house, macaroni and collard greens. There will be an assortment of drinks including the dreaded (and sinfully delicious) chocolate martini. Not eating will be rude, but overdoing it is harmful.
So far, Iím planning to do the following:
1) Bring a low cal dish on my own.
2) Get some extra exercise in. If I work out today, tomorrow and Sunday, it might help.
3) Eat fish, leave the macaroni alone and load up on greens. Limit myself to one alcoholic beverage and drink diet coke or water the rest of the evening.
Hopefully, this will be enough of a plan.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Sometimes I ask myself why it's so difficult to lose weight when I know what I'm supposed to be doing. The answer has nothing to do with knowledge but everything to do with emotions. I've known this for years, but really want to understand more. I've been reading books and articles that focus on the psychology of being overweight, versus the "how to" type of literature.
I know these things about myself in a nutshell:
1) I eat when I'm celebrating
2) I eat when I'm depressed
3) I eat when I'm anxious
4) I eat when I'm stressed
5) I eat when I'm bored
6) I eat when I'm angry
7) I eat when I'm socializing
8) I eat when I'm alone
9) I eat when I'm hungry
10) I eat when I'm NOT hungry
For me, dropping weight requires a focused mind. I have to be in the right state of mind, where I believe change is possible and can manage the changes through small, consistent and sustained behaviors. Maybe I can't exercise 5-6 days a week, but I CAN exercise 3 days a week. Maybe I can't give up my BBQ (a fifth food group when you live in Kansas City), but I CAN substitute BBQ chicken for spareribs every other meal. Maybe I can't live without sweets, but I CAN try new lower-cal recipes that satisfy my sweet tooth. Maybe I can't be perfect, but I CAN choose wisely 90% of the time. Maybe I don't record my eating daily, but I CAN track my eating 3-4 times a week.
I am ALLOWING myself to NOT do this perfectly. It is amazing how free I feel knowing that no food is going to be off limits and that mistakes, lapses are not only okay, but permissible and forgivable. It does a lot to overwrite the negativity that creeps in my head.
I am now preparing for how I will cope when life gets in the way. When I am stressed, anxious and depressed and want to eat something junky--what behavior do I substitute instead. The answer? Housework. I know that sounds simplistic, but I've decided that dishes, vacuuming, making up beds, dusting or whatever else needs to be done is a good coping mechanism. I'm rewarded with a clean environment and getting a bit of exercise in the process. Household chores are mindless activities that keep me busy doing something other than eating. Plus, I can turn on my favorite music and just do my thing.
Other ideas are walks, pedicures, massages, bubble baths and, yes, a single glass of white wine (which I wouldn't do if I had any alcoholic tendencies).
So far this time around, I've dropped the 20 lbs I gained while unemployed. I'm looking forward to dropping the next 20 lbs and fitting easily into a size 14. My size 16W's are getting loose, so I will need to go shopping in another month or so.
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