Friday, January 18, 2013
Was my former childcare giver’s death preventable? I pondered this question during her funeral yesterday. No one plans to die at age 54. “Connie” left behind a loving husband, three grown children and a grandchild. Was her cancer inevitable or could something have happened to prevent it? Being the curious person that I am, I started googling for information and found the following statistics from the National Cancer Institute:
• Caucasian-American women have the highest rates of breast cancer, but when African-American women get cancer, we are more likely to die. For every 100,000 Caucasian women diagnosed, 25 will die. For every 100,000 African-American women diagnosed, nearly 40 will die.
Risk factors associated with breast cancer are: smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake. Factors associated with higher death rates are: lack of medical coverage, barriers to early detection and screening, unequal access to improvements in treatment, and a higher prevalence of aggressive forms of breast cancer in African-American women.
I don’t have all the details that contributed to Connie’s death. I do know these basic things; her husband had health insurance, Connie did not smoke or drink, but she was morbidly obese for many years and did not exercise. She was also an excellent cook and ate a traditional soul food diet.
During the funeral service, feelings of frustration mingled with my sadness as her friends and family raved about her cooking skills during their tributes. The question that lay heavy on my mind was “Would Connie be alive today if she had changed her diet and started to exercise?” I’ll never know. But there is scientific evidence out there that says it would have removed some of the risk.
I am starting to grow tired of hearing about African-American women becoming disabled or dying in their 40’s and 50’s. I’m tired of opening the community newspaper and seeing all these tributes to middle-age women who’ve passed away, leaving behind broken-hearted families and friends. At some point, whether we’re black, white, American Indian, Latino or Asian, it’s time for us to reach out to the family and friends in our lives and our community and “Spread the Spark” of a healthier lifestyle. We have to find a way to do this without seeming holier-than-thou or preachy. No, it won’t prevent all deaths and disabilities, but it can put all of us on a road to better health.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
As I continue to ponder (obsess) over my goal weight, I had an opportunity today to get a free skinfold caliper test done by a seasoned personal trainer at my new gym. He weighed me, then took a host of measurements and determined I'm carrying 34% body fat. For women my age, this % is the high end of "average." He determined I have a lean body mass of 111 and am carrying about 35 pounds of extra body fat. When he said that, I protested a bit, saying I had no desire to look like a twig. In a nutshell, here's what I learned about how I would look at various weights:
135--If I ever want to become a body builder/fitness model, this is what I would weigh on the day of a competition. I would need to build muscle while I drop fat. Sounds like an incredible amount of work!
141--This is a lean (angular), athletic size for me. If I played soccer or basketball, this is what I'd want to weigh.
153--I would be at 25% body fat and the low end of "average", but with my curves intact.
164--My bodyfat would be 31% which is the top of a healthy range for me.
Also, an internet search yielded an interesting article about body fat %'s which I'm sharing in the link below. The writer has included some interesting photos of people at various body fat %'s.
Given what I've learned today, I've narrowed my ideal weight to a range of 147-155. This range is healthy, but not so thin that I start looking angular. When apple shapes like me are lean, we turn into rulers--no boobs, no hips, no curvy waist.
No thanks. I want curves.
Okay, so that means I need to lose anywhere from 12-20 pounds to get to my "happy weight". Nice!
Onward and downward.
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
I am three meals away from finishing the South Beach Phase 1 Diet. The plan is straightforward and does not have complicated rules, but it takes discipline to be consistent over two weeks. During this time, I lost an astounding 7 pounds.
Here's what I learned:
1. It's motivating to lose this much weight so quickly. Granted, much of it is water, but after months of little to no weight loss, it's a welcome change.
2. Sometimes a diet within a diet really works. In other words, I have my a regular food plan, which is 1,500 to 1,7000 calories a day and includes moderate portions with no forbidden foods. Then, there's short-term jump start diets like SB Phase 1, which is about 1,000 to 1,200 calories. I think that if I have a really wild food day, following this diet for a day or two will help me get back on track.
3. Crash diets make you cranky. Around day 9 or 10, I started resenting this diet and was ready to throw in the towel. It's crystallized for me how unsustainable crash diets are, but I do concede they have their place every once in awhile--especially after two weeks of overeating during the holidays!
4. Being 12 pounds from my goal weight feels amazing! Some of my size 12 pants are getting baggy. There's even one pair I can't wear without a belt. Once I lose more chub around my middle, I'll be a solid size 10 pants. I'm still a size 14 on top, thanks to the boobage, dang it.
5. Workouts are tougher while crash dieting. I've been doing okay with the exercise in the last week, but I noticed while lifting weights that my muscles were getting tired faster.
6. This diet forced me to be vigilant about what I was eating. After a year, the daily tracking of my food, etc. was turning into a grind and I was slacking off on my food choices, eating more calories, etc. I'm sure that's why I plateaued so much in late 2012.
7. I didn't plan to take a two-week break from everything during the holidays, but I think it shocked my system and revved up my metabolism. I was probably eating 2,500 calories+ a day while visiting my folks during the last week. Then, when I suddenly cut my calories to the bone, it restarted my weight loss. I think this is similar to what's called "refeeding" but I'm not sure. It's the logic behind why fitness experts are now recommending cheat meals every week or so.
Well, after breakfast tomorrow, I'll be back on my regular eating plan, but I'm going to work hard to keep the calories between 1,200 and 1,500 a day and incorporate healthier whole grains. I do have a cheat meal of BBQ ribs planned for Saturday, which I'm looking forward to.
Onward and downward!
Monday, January 14, 2013
Today, I learned that the woman who babysat my daughter from aged 6 months to 5 years died from cancer. Since I have moved, I had no idea she had even been sick. She was only 54 years old. My daughter is almost 21.
She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a business woman, a talented decorator with a knack for turning cheap and ordinary things into fabulous works of art. She was extremely intelligent with a boatload of common sense; kind, warm, funny and a great cook.
I had seen her in the store when I was visiting from out of town last spring. She had lost about 100 pounds, but her face had looked so drawn and weary, I withheld commenting. Instinctively, I must have known, but did not feel it was my business to ask how she had lost the weight.
Right now, I feel depressed, but am managing to keep a stiff upper lip, since I'm at work. I'm monitoring myself carefully to refrain from eating my emotions. Regardless, it's a rough day, I'm tired and I have a headache.
Saturday, January 12, 2013
How much should I weigh? I'm 13 pounds from my current goal, which is 155 and a BMI of 24. Although I'm close to goal, my waist is still 36", dang it. I'm a classic apple shape, so I'm not surprised that my belly is still with me.
There are numerous guidelines for how much a 5'7" woman should weigh based on age, frame size and activity level. I want a weight that won't be too difficult to maintain with moderate activity and eating habits. I also want to lose 4" to 6" from my waist, which will be better for my health, since I'm prediabetic.
A healthy BMI in general is 118 to 159. I have a medium frame, so although 159 is "healthy" it's not going to be low enough to lose the belly fat. When I weigh 155, I am "not fat and not skinny." It's a weight I maintained for many years. The problem is, I will still have belly fat.
One time, at 18, I dropped from 155 to 140. At 140, I was slim but not skinny and had no fat around my middle. Today, I'm older and 140 seems so unattainable. I remember struggling for years in early adulthood to get back to that weight and never could.
Today, though I had an epiphany; what exactly was I doing back then to lose those 15 pounds? I realized I was using fad diets, crash diets and other attempts that would last 2-3 weeks before I gave up. Then, I'd return to a diet of junk food and an inactive lifestyle. Now, I am better educated and understand that weight loss doesn't happen overnight and that healthy habits must be sustained over months--not weeks before you can see results.
I have a thick psychological mindset that believes that I can't get under 150. I don't know whether or not this is really true. Even if it is, I look pretty doggone good at 150. So right now, I think my ideal weight is somewhere between 145 and 155. This range is about a 23 or 24 BMI and accounts for this belly I still need to lose. I will also be happy and satisfied with my appearance in this range. Anything above 155 I still perceive as overweight, so I may use 155 as my "flashing dashboard light" weight that indicates it's time to start eating less and moving more.
We will see!
Onward and downward.
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