Sunday, June 24, 2012
If you are an emotional or stress eater like I am, each pound that you've gained over the years probably symbolizes some transition or life event. Maybe it was relocation, graduation, marriage, divorce, death of a friend or family member, or other traumatic event. Or it could simply be a mundane lifestyle change or too many dinners out. Combine the weight gain with failed diet and exercise programs and you end up cloaked in multiple layers of fat.
I'll give you examples.
As a teenager in middle school, I was enrolled in P.E. class, a cheerleader, played softball and ran track. I walked two miles home from school nearly every day. I weighed 135 pounds.
Then I graduated middle school and started high school. I ditched most of the extra curricular activities and took the bus home from school. I gained 20 pounds and weighed 155. Did I ever take this off? No.
Then my family relocated from the midwest to the east coast. I became homesick and spent lots of time at home watching MTV. By graduation, I weighed 170. Then I left for college.
I was much more active in college. My dorm room was on the fourth floor in a building with no elevators. I walked to classes every day. I jogged and worked out at the gym with friends. My weight settled in at 155 lbs.
My last year, I moved off campus and took a part-time job at a fast food restaurant. I rode the bus to campus and ate lots of free burgers and fries. My weight returned to 170.
After graduation, I fell in love and got married. I dieted and exercised to look good for my wedding. I weighed 155. Got pregnant and had my daughter. My weight returned to 155. Then I got divorced....one year later, met another guy and fell in love...that relationship fizzed. Two years after the divorce I weighed 180.
Four years later, my grandparents died...
Then I accepted a new job and relocated....
Six years later, I lost my job....
Well, you get the idea. Being an emotional and stress eater, I gained weight with each life event and, with one exception 10 years ago, never took it off. Now, as I drop the weight, I'm once again confronting what originally caused the weight gain.
Right now, I've just lost the 20 pounds I gained while I was unemployed last year. I've also lost 10 of the 20 pounds I gained when my grandparents died. I now have 35 pounds left to lose; The balance of the weight I gained after losing my grandparents plus the 25 pounds I gained after my divorce.
The 20 pounds I gained after middle school? No plans to lose it, because I'm in my 40s and don't want to look boyish or angular. I believe that when you're older and lose too much weight, it draws fat from your face and ages you.
My granny died 10 years ago and my divorce was 20 years ago. It's time for me to stop carrying around these events on my body. Wouldn't you agree?
What are you carrying around? Are you carrying the events from your past into your present? Maybe it's just weight you gained from happy times---delivering a baby, a series of hot dates at fancy restaurants, weeks of graduation celebrations? Heaven forbid, if it's from something truly traumatic, please see a therapist and face those issues. Whatever it is, at some point the fat is visible baggage from the past and needs to go.
Onward and downward.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
When I re-launched Sparkpeople at the beginning of this year, all I felt was a sense of urgency about my need to lose weight. I had gained 20 pounds while I was unemployed, reaching my all time highest weight. I was still piecing my life together because of all the stress in my professional and personal life.
What are the lessons I've learned on this journey so far?
1. There is no perfect time to start a weight loss plan. Jobs come and go, family members pass away, kids act out. These pressures are always with us.
2. Just do what the spirit moves you to do and no more. Once you start seeing results, do a little more. You are building momentum and speed over time. If you make drastic changes all at once, you will be miserable. If you don't have time to exercise, start with 10 minutes a day, three times a week. Add days and minutes when you can. Don't give up all of your favorite foods. Find a way to include them in your plan. In fact, at the beginning of the plan, I was eating breakfast at McDonald's every morning. I did this for months because I wasn't ready to give it up. I tried to adhere to my eating plan for lunch and dinner.
3. If you fall, get back up and keep moving forward. Baby steps, baby steps. You have to crawl for awhile before you walk. You'll stumble, you'll fall. Count on that because we can't be perfect. Just get back up. Don't give up.
4. Take advantage of the support and resources on SP! Plateaus are vicious. Why, oh why, must plateaus be a part of weight loss? I was on one for an entire month and could not understand why. If I hadn't reached out for support on this site, I might have given up. Since my plateau ended, I've dropped seven pounds.
5. Patience, in time the grass becomes milk. Our bodies don't lose weight in a logical straight line. There's hormones, periods, and all kinds of other factors that cause us to retain water or not lose as fast as we should. These challenges wreak havoc on our pattern of weight loss. My weekly pattern seems to be lose, lose, gain, lose big, gain, lose, lose, gain, lose big, gain. Crazy, but the overall trend is DOWN. It's aggravating, but I am starting to understand and respect it.
6. Make the SP program yours. What works for one person, may not work for you. You have to find a mix of nutrition and exercise you can live with day in and day out. No one else can tell you what that is. You need to try a few things and see what works. If you hate the gym, work out at home with videos. If you hate cottage cheese and cauliflower, find alternatives you do like. Figure out a few favorite meals and eat those 90% of the time. 10% of the time, eat the stuff that's not so good for you.
7. Distance yourself from friends and family who can't or won't support you. Find the ones who will. Yesterday, I met up with a girlfriend who said she's trying to lose weight. We went to an outdoor fiesta and decided to get food for dinner. There were no healthy choices around, so we ate tamales, flautas, rice and beans. Then, later she wanted to top off dinner with a large funnel cake. I redirected her to a small ice cream cone, sayin' "I can't have you cussin' me later for not stopping you from eating the funnel cake." I don't know how many calories are in a funnel cake, but I do know it's possible for a small ice cream cone to be part of a healthy eating plan. This is how a support system works.
8. You really do have to plan ahead, dang it. Sorry, no way around this one.
9. Biting and writing and blogging really keep you accountable.
I'm sure there are additional lessons I still need to learn, but these have helped me shed 32 pounds, so it's all good.
Onward and downward.
Friday, June 22, 2012
As of today, my BMI dropped from a 30 to a 29. The pound I gained on vacation is gone along with another half pound. Now, I'm merely overweight, not obese. How does it feel? Really good! That's how it feels. I haven't been at this weight in awhile, so I'm learning to appreciate the journey and take pride in the moments where the number on the scale has so much symbolism.
I have eleven pounds to go in order to complete my mid-goal to lose 20 pounds between May and August. All I need to do is stay patient, focused and consistent.
I'm still jet-lagged from being on Alaska time; they are three hours behind central time. Getting up in the morning is difficult. But I'm up and about and ready to get my Friday on.
Onward and downward.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
After a wonderful week in beautiful Alaska, I'm back home and will return to work tomorrow. We packed a lot of activity into the week including hiking, white water rafting, wildlife and glacier sight-seeing tours, and a train ride through scenic land. Just a lovely time!
How did I do food wise? Not very well. I held on to good habits for a few meals, but without the security of my kitchen and my cooking, I soon returned to eating processed and junky meals. Some of the calories were worth the splurge, but there were many other instances where I could've made better food choices and chose not to.
I just accepted the fact that I would return to healthier eating habits once I returned from my trip. This morning, I weighed in to atone for my vacation. I gained one pound. I'm fine with that because I'm home now and back in control of my food environment. I am ready to tackle my goal to lose 25 pounds by December 31st. I'm off to a good start with my morning smoothie. I also picked up my regular staples at the grocery store. This afternoon, I'm going to the gym to lift weights and spend some time on the elliptical. It's all good!
Onward and downward.
Friday, June 15, 2012
I've been in Alaska about three days now, and it's a beautiful place. As you would expect, people here in Anchorage live in the 21st century, but there's still a frontier-like vibe to the entire community. Many men sport beards, plus crocs and hiking boots seem to be the most popular footwear in addition to the ubiquitous sneaker--even in fine restaurants.
The scenery is beautiful; something that a camera can't really capture. Mountains, lakes, wetlands, campgrounds, streams, rivers, hiking trails are abundant here and a part of life for Alaskans. They are also somewhat moose-obsessed and I can understand why. Anywhere you go, you are likely to encounter a moose. I saw my first one my second day here. He was standing next to the street just feeding. We stopped the car and I got a couple of pics before we moved on.
The daylight definitely fools you. It does go to dusk at night, but doesn't get completely dark. Yesterday, at 11pm, it appeared to be about 8:00 pm on a summer evening; full daylight, but long shadows. Just amazing.
Yesterday, I went white water rafting which was amazing. Later in the week, we'll take boat tours of wildlife and the glaciers. We're scheduled to take a train to Seward for one of the glacier trips. I am totally looking forward to it!
I'm only somewhat compliant with my SP plan. I've been eating intentionally, but have indulged during a few meals. I also need to get back on track with recording my intake. Still, I've been good about drinking my morning smoothies and not overeating. I think I'm doing well enough to maintain my weight, which is fine with me. The good news is, I'm getting some exercise in, so that will help.
Well, back to the real world. Today, we're hitting a hiking trail.
Onward and downward.
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