Tuesday, January 22, 2013
How many times have you read that losing weight is not a sprint but a marathon; not a quick trip but a journey. Lots of times? Well, me too. Problem is, I haven't done a good job of internalizing this knowledge on an emotional level. I've wanted all of this weight gone since day 1.
But 385 days later, I'm finally settling down. Sure, I know there's still 12 pounds to go. I'm realizing though that I'm the only one who cares. If I were 5 feet tall, maybe a 12 pound change in my weight would be noticeable, but since I'm taller I know from life experience that people don't notice a weight change on me unless it's 20 pounds or more. What does that mean?
When I was 55 (yes, 55!) pounds heavier, I fantasized about how different my life would be and how all my problems would disappear. Today, while sitting in my office at work, a new self-talk script "clicked" in my head:
Q: How will your life change once you're 12 pounds lighter?
A: I will be proud of myself for achieving a healthy BMI and finishing something I've started.
Q: Good. And then what?
A: Then I'd have to MAINTAIN the loss.
Q: Maintain your weight doing what?
A: Pretty much what I'm doing now.
Q: So what's the hurry?
Isn't that silly; I've been HEARING this message for a long time. Now I'm LISTENING. Finally, I get it on an emotional level.
So now, I'm feeling more at ease. Yes, I still want to lose the 12 pounds in 3 months. I'm not going to lie; but I also know that the habits I've picked up during this long and winding road to better health are habits I'll need to maintain FOR LIFE. What choice is there? Go back to what I was doing before? I KNOW where that road leads;
THAT road leads to...
high blood pressure
hip or knee replacement surgery
needing a scooter to shop at Walmart
covering my stomach with a pillow when I sit on the couch
standing in the back of a group picture so I can hide my body
avoiding swimsuits or swimming
dropping out of the dating scene
lack of energy
shopping in plus size stores
wheezing after climbing a few flights of stairs
Instead of agonizing over these 12 pounds, I am following the advice of my SP friends and really reflecting more on how far I've come. Thinking about it calms me down and helps me understand that losing the weight is a by-product of my healthier habits. Since I intend to maintain these habits for the rest of my life, the 12 pounds will come off when it's time.
Onward and downward.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
As I continue to obsess about being so close to goal, I realize I've reached familiar territory. During my teens and 20s I agonized over being so "fat". Looking back, I only had about 15-20 pounds to lose, but they might as well have been 100.
I understand now, why that weight was such a struggle. We now know that losing the last 10-15-20 pounds is NOTHING like losing the first 20-40-50 pounds. It's a totally different battle because it's harder to create a calorie deficit when you're close to a healthy weight. So, to continue losing weight you either have to eat less, move more or a combination of the two. And figuring out what combination of behaviors is the most effective and sustainable is tricky.
My 2 week stint on the South Beach phase 1 diet taught me that at this size, there is little room for error in my eating habits. I was averaging 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day and the weight just "fell off." But I can't sustain a diet like that. I like to eat dessert on occasion and I'm addicted to barbecue ribs. So how can I eat less/move more long enough to get to goal? That's the $64,000 question.
When I communicate with other maintainers on SP, they advise me to remove the deadline and focus on a healthy lifestyle because I have the rest of my life to lose the weight. I understand the intellectual argument, but emotionally, I need a goal that has a realistic deadline. Otherwise, I'll procrastinate and meander. Goals and deadlines are motivating and keep me focused.
So, here are some goals:
1) Lose 15-20 pounds by memorial day weekend. (That's less than 4 pounds a month)
2) Run a 12 minute mile by memorial day weekend. (Right now, I am jogging at 4 MPH)
3) Find a 5K race in my community that will take place in May/June and SIGN UP with a friend.
I am going to close this blog so I can google some local websites and find a 5K race.
Onward and downward!
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!
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