Sunday, November 25, 2012
I've been making new year's resolutions most of my life. Typically, my resolve is gone by Valentine's day and I'm back into old habits. In January of 2012, like many years in the past, I resolved to lose weight. Now, 2012 is almost gone and I'm 50 pounds thinner.
How did I manage to stay consistent all this time? When I really think about it, it's because I started where I was. Instead of turning myself inside out to "follow" a particular diet, I took a "diet" and turned it inside out to follow me. The habits I've developed with the help of Sparkpeople are healthful habits but they are also uniquely mine.
It's one thing to follow an eating plan, its another thing to bring it to you, mold it, adapt it and make it yours. I remember Weight Watchers back in the old days when foods were "legal" and "illegal". Weight Watchers doesn't do that any more. Why? Because there's no such thing as "legal" and "illegal" foods. It's just food. As part of the human condition, we all have a certain calorie budget. Go over it, we gain. Stay under it, we lose. How we allocate those calories is totally up to us. We could choose to spend our budget eating ice cream all day, but that makes no sense because our bodies require certain nutrients. Therefore, we know we must spend our calories wisely by choosing more nutrient dense foods more often. And therein lies the secret; chose the nutrient dense foods more often.
So I looked at my food habits and instead of focusing on my bad habits, I focused on identifying my good habits plus building a plan around foods and activities I enjoyed. For example:
*I enjoy preparing this unfried chicken recipe I found in an old Oprah magazine. [This is a healthy recipe. Keep it in your new eating plan.]
*I like broccoli, greens, green beans, tossed salads. [ All these foods are good for you, so keep them in your new eating plan.]
*I enjoy hamburgers and love barbecue ribs. [No problem. These foods are also welcome in the new eating plan. ]
*I like cake and ice cream. [Hey, believe it or not, there's room for these foods in the new eating plan.]
I did the same thing with my activity. I took inventory of what was available to me and what I was already enjoying.
*I don't exercise much, but I don't mind walking. [Fine, then walking is part of your plan.]
*I have an old stationary cycle in the garage. [Good, dust if off and cycle 10 minutes while you watch tv.]
*When I was young, I used to enjoy lifting weights. [Excellent! You should join a gym.]
*I have an exercise on-demand channel and some old tae-bo DVDs. [Good deal, let's find a way to include them.]
My next challenge focused on knocking out my two worst habits: inactivity and dining out. What were the barriers that were keeping these habits in place?
* I don't have time to exercise. [What are your options?]
1. I can get up in the morning. [You're a night owl; this only works on the weekends]
2. I can exercise at lunch. [Take an extra pair of sneakers and stash them in your office]
3. I can workout in the evening. [Go to the gym]
I actually entered appointments on my calendar designating my workout times. I prefer exercising in the evenings, but if the weather's nice, I'll grab my sneakers and walk outside during my lunch break. On Saturdays or Sundays I get up in the morning and go to the gym or walk.
And with dining out, I started packing my lunch more often and I looked up nutrition information at my favorite dining haunts and ordered the more nutrient-dense food 90% of the time.
But most importantly of all, I gave it time. This was and still is, the hardest part. It took me 10 months to lose 50 pounds. I still have another 17-20 pounds to go to hit my goal, which most likely won't happen until April or May.
Losing weight is like gardening. You don't plant the bulbs on a Sunday in October and get flowers on a Monday in November. You have to wait until March.
Losing weight is also like pregnancy. Just because no one else can see that you are pregnant, doesn't mean you're not pregnant. Just because no one else can see that you're thinner, doesn't mean you are not thinner. Eventually, the months go by, your body changes and everybody becomes aware.
When I was a teen, the longest I could "diet" was two weeks. It was two weeks of giving up all of my favorite foods and undereating because it was "good for me." Inevitably, I would "slip up" eat something "illegal" and then abandon the entire diet. Lots of us are still locked in that mentality and it's a harmful mindset. Time to let it go.
Above all, stop listening to those folks who are promoting fad diets. I'm old enough to have seen some version of all of them. Most of them are either extremely low-calorie or exclude entire food groups. Too extreme and not sustainable. The reality is that there are no quick fixes. But, with a sustainable plan, time and patience, you will eventually arrive at your destination.
Friday, November 23, 2012
In the last couple of weeks I've noticed that some of my size 12 pants are starting to bag a little. Two pair I cannot wear without a belt and another pair, which has no loops, are so big in the waist, I need a safety pin to take in the waistband. (Tacky, I know, but I really like the pants.) I also have another pair of blue size 12 pants I bought a couple of months ago that still fit but just don't look quite right.
So this week, I went to the store to try on pants. I selected a pair that I liked and took a size 10 AND a size 12 to the dressing room. I hid the sizes so that I wouldn't know which pair I was trying on first. Only after I slid on the first pair and zipped and buttoned them did I look at the tag and realize I was wearing a size 10. I stared at my image in the mirror in disbelief. Last year at this time, I was wearing size 16W's and 18's. Now, I could actually put on a size 10!
I tried on several pairs of pants and concluded that I am in between sizes. The only thing keeping me out of a size 10 is my belly. I am opting to wait until after I've lost another 7 pounds before I start buying pants in a smaller size. In the meantime, I will need to keep wearing belts with my pants and put away the ones that need a safety pin.
Onward and downward!
Monday, November 19, 2012
Last week, I posed for some pictures with colleagues. When I received the digital copies, I was unpleasantly surprised. I looked shapeless and matronly. What happened??
When I took a closer look, I realized that I looked heavy because my boobs appeared oversized and saggy. You see, I'm the classic apple-shape; large chest, no defined waist and smaller arms and legs. There was only one thing to do. Buy some new bras!
I visited my favorite department store. Turns out they had a "bra fitting" expert on hand. I learned that although my cup size had stayed the same, my band size had dropped and the loose band was causing my bras to "lift" in the back, creating this saggy effect up front. I had NO IDEA this was happening until I saw the photo.
Following her recommendations, I tried on about eight different bras in various sizes before finding one that provided me with proper comfort, lift and separation. So my lesson learned? If you are apple-shaped like me and look fat in photos--it might be because you are wearing the wrong sized bra. Run, don't walk to the nearest department store if your weight has changed by 15-20 pounds and get fitted.
Now, my bustline is higher, "perkier" which actually makes me look younger. Whodathunkit?
The funny things we learn on this journey to better health.
Onward and downward!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
If you’ve ever been a member of Weight Watchers, you’ll eventually hear about the concept of the “anchoring.” Weight Watchers defines it as a process for creating cues or triggers that remind you of your weight goal and the inner resources you have to achieve it. An example of anchoring is hearing a song that reminds you of your high school days or seeing a pair of shoes that your child wore as a toddler. We do it every day, and it works equally well when we are trying to lose weight.
In this context, sometimes we need to seek out an anchor and sometimes it finds us. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Maybe it’s an inspiring song or a pair of sneakers or a key chain. It can also be a specific ritual that reframes and refocuses your thinking.
I don’t know if WW still does this, but they used to award you a key chain when you lost 10% of your weight. The intent was for the keychain to be your anchor. I got one oh, so long ago and was surprised to realize that it’s been on my keychain for 11 years. Why did I never remove it when I regained the weight or switched out keychains? Because over the years, the keychain represented SUCCESS. Me at my best doing my best. I like thinking of myself that way and to remove it would suggest otherwise. So I kept it. Now when I see it, I smile.
My morning smoothie has been an important ritual. Get off track? Start the day with a smoothie. Somehow, it’s become an anchor. The smoothie is nutrient dense and reminds me that I am doing this for my HEALTH—to combat prediabetes, inflammation or whatever else I have. It’s full of omega-3s, antioxidents, vitamins, protein—all the stuff my doctor has recommended I consume regularly. The smoothie is more than just a “diet” it represents a large part of my success and road to better health.
So if you’re off track in your eating, try to find a food ritual that reinforces why you’re doing what your doing here on SP. For you, it may be a cranberry-walnut salad, or that new salmon recipe that made you realize, “Yes, I CAN enjoy my food while I lose weight.”
Whatever anchors you to this program, find and use it to keep you on your path to success.
Onward and downward!
Saturday, November 10, 2012
This week, I visited my doctor to get the results of a series of preventive care lab tests. The purpose of these tests was to assess my health status and help me understand my risk factors for disease. Many of the measures I understood, such as the A1C test and thyroid panel. There were also other tests that assessed my risk for heart disease and other ailments. After reviewing the results, my doctor told me I had "inflammation". Huh?
Apparently, when we gain weight, the excess fat on our bodies doesn't just take up space. It is metabolically active and negatively impacts all of systems. We are familiar with how it contributes to high blood pressure and diabetes, but apparently it also releases hormones that cause "inflammation". Our bodies become inflamed when we are trying to heal from damage. When our bodies endure sustained damage, the inflammation becomes constant. The blood test I took measures whether or not your body is under siege from constant and chronic inflammation. Mine is.
Trouble is, I don't know exactly what is causing mine. It could be the bursitis in my hip, for all I know. But one documented cause is excess weight. Translation? My doc confirmed that my weight loss journey is NOT over. "Get that BMI under 25," she said, matter-of-factly.
She also said I needed to eat more omega-3 rich foods, and take a multivitamin and a baby aspirin a day. I also need to exercise 150 minutes a week.
I hate to whine, but I do a lot of it when I blog, so bear with me:
You would think that after losing 50 pounds that I wouldn't be dealing with "inflammation." It makes me feel like I've climbed a mountain, reached the apex, looked out on the horizon and saw 20 more mountains between me and my destination.
Twenty pounds shouldn't sound like so much, but since it's all I have left to lose it seems like a lot because it's going to take awhile. Some days it does seem discouraging--especially when I've been only half-way focused and just barely staying on program.
Nevertheless, I stocked up on veggies at the store, bought my vitamins and baby aspirin and hit a zumba class. Not because I'm feeling especially motivated, but just doing what I need to do to inch forward--even if I'm just crawling.
Onward and downward.
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