Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 End of Year Wrap-Up

167 lbs.  (Head hanging low - but keeping perspective - what a year!)

What A Difference A Year Makes

Today I went in for my post-Optifast body assessment.  I weighed in and started out very disappointed in my weight gain (14 lbs. since stopping the full fast), but my mood changed considerably as I reviewed the year with my counselor.

Here is how much things have changed since 12/17/13, when I had my initial body assessment:

                            12/17/13     12/23/14
Upper Arms:          16"              11.5"
Chest:                     46.5"           37.5"
Waist:                     46.5"           34.75"
Hips:                       55"              42.5"
BMI:                       45                29
Body Fat%            No Tst.          34.8%

Here are my pre and post Optifast body assessment photos;

It's very motivating for me to see this right now.  Looking at the two photos, taken in the same room exactly one year apart, really gives me the fire to keep going on this journey.  I have about 15-20 pounds to lose, and most importantly, I need to learn to bounce back from special occasion eating and weight gain.  I'm a work in progress for sure, and I'll continue to reach out for help and do what it takes to stay healthy and live joyfully.

Here I am at the beginning of 2013
In 2013 I was tired and felt hopeless about my chances for getting healthy.  I traveled a lot, very uncomfortably.  That year I went to several countries in Europe and Asia and across the US for both work and pleasure.  It was a great adventure and I wished that I could have have felt like I do now!  But I can't focus on the past.  I just have to look forward to more memories with a healthier me.

Hello, new fancier, sportier me!
I'm back on track today with my eating, and I'm going to resist going into a shame spiral about my recent holiday splurges.  Today I'm going to have a beautiful, long run.  Here are some shots of a nice morning run that I had over the weekend.

This is a lovely trail near my home.  The pic on the right is of a herd of grazing deer. 
It has been an amazing year, and I couldn't have done it without the support of family, friends and virtual friends.  Thank you for your continued support.   I'm off on a cruise starting Friday, so I'll be out of communication for a couple of weeks.  I'm going to try to eat protein and veggies 90% of the time, with a couple of indulgences along the way.  I'll be walking, snorkeling and hiking, and of course, running on the shipboard treadmill to stay on track for the half marathon!

Here's to a Happy and Healthy 2015!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Keeping a Handle on Holiday Eating

When people say that the holidays can be a diet buster, I finally know the full extent of what they are talking about.  In the last several years, I can't say that I did much dieting over the holidays.  In fact, this was the perfect time to have one last hurrah before the January 1st New Year's Resolutions.  The temptations and opportunities are numerous, and it is built into social norms to imbibe in special food and drink.  I took full advantage of holiday eating in years past, and experienced the dull ache of guilt sprinkled throughout the days, like a Christmas cookie.

This year is completely different though.  I'm in the throws of trying to keep my weight off now, and I'm living a life that is much happier because of the weight loss.  But that doesn't mean that my choices have been stellar.  For the first time, really, I'm feeling the diet challenge posed by the holiday season.  The barrage of holiday parties, sweets, family events and gatherings (including the kids' finals and semester-end school projects and activities) have made it a real struggle for me to choose wisely.  The BLT's (bites, licks and tastes), and the full-on mindless choices of taking from the bread basket and having a second glass of wine, all add up quickly and the scale has moved up in response to it.  But unlike years past, I am aware of it, and I care about it.

These are the small gains that are written about in diet books.  They are the pounds that people often fail to shed, and that accumulate over time until all the weight is gained back.  Last night I took some time to think about what this month is all about.  I would have to say that for a person who is fighting a weight battle, it's the toughest fight of the year.

But does this weakened state of affairs mean that I'm defeated? No way!

It IS a battle that will require me to try harder and smarter so that I can regain my footing.

Last night I started re-reading Dr. Barbara Berkeley's "Refuse to Regain."  I read it a couple of months ago, when I first started transitioning to food.  It gives me a wake-up call to "warrior-up" and be strong in the face of challenges to my weight maintenance.  It reminds me of how my body, as a formerly obese person, is different than that of the person who was never overweight, and that I'm particularly sensitive to the "S Foods" (sugar and starch).  According to Dr. Berkeley, and my own observations, these foods cause insulin spikes that lead to rapid weight gain and increased cravings in people like me.  My formerly plump fat cells lie in wait for that insulin response, and they are ready to fill themselves up again.

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.  There is very little written about weight maintenance, and this book fills that void, with science-backed recommendations.

I've been giving some thought (again) to integrating Optifast products just to help manage my diet and get the excess weight off.  Why I have hesitated, I don't know, but I will start replacing at least some of my meals/snacks each day so that I don't put myself in the position of "waiting until the first of the year."  That is the pattern of the "old me" and now I know the physical and mental advantage derived from beginning right away.  While I would like to think that being able to manage my weight exclusively with real food is best, given how important it is to maintain my weight loss as a "weight loss rookie", it is most important to keep my weight regain at bay in the fastest possible way.  I will do that with a combination of meal replacements and whole foods.

I will probably write one more blog post this week before I leave on a 7 day cruise with my family.  It has been quite a year!  Thank you for sharing it with me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Giving Goodies - Struggling With the Concept

I have just received my second plate/tin of cookies.  One from one of my best friends, and another from my sister -- she made all of the favorite cookies of our childhood.  I'm going to be honest and say that I'm struggling with being given these goodies when both of the givers know about my weight loss year and about my new entry into maintenance and the world of food.

The logical, understanding part of me knows this:
  • People give food for Christmas.  They give it in the spirit of nurturing and love, and out of their own traditions.  Heck, I gave nuts to my friends -- maybe someone feels this is too fattening and doesn't see them as healthy snacks (as I do).
  • My kids shouldn't have to be passed over for goodies just because their mom has food issues.
The self-preserving part of me feels this way:
  • FUUUUCCCCCKKKKK!  I don't want this delicious homemade shit in front of me right now.  I just spent a whole year losing weight for goodness sake.  Would you knowingly give a bottle of wine to a recovering alcoholic?
  • My family is doing just fine and they don't need all the sweets in the house either.

I don't have any big revelations here and I just needed to vent.  Maybe some of you are feeling the same way right now.  I ate three bourbon balls (yes, made with real alcohol, so not kid friendly).  I stopped there and logged them, and I'm not too tempted by anything else now.

Yes, I'm going to eat treats during the holidays.  Yes, I will need to plan for them, and very often say "no" to second helpings, and sometimes say "no" altogether.  I will be learning the concept of "a treat" vs. "gateway to a backslide" this holiday season.  I don't really think I'm in any danger, but I guess what doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

Some of you veteran maintainers have probably already been through this, and you're well adjusted human beings about it.  I'll get there, eventually, but I'm not there yet.

I'm indulging in a bit of crankiness about it right now.  It has opened my eyes about the concept of giving food for the holidays, and I'm going to really think hard about alternatives for next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


161 lbs.


Yesterday I finished my Optifast Maintenance class.  This was the final weekly class of my program at the clinic, and I'll move on to attending monthly Booster classes for as least a year, and hopefully longer.  I consider this a huge milestone for me.  I officially completed my program, but the new life continues on.  We did an exercise of remembering what life was like at our heaviest.  I have the benefit of looking back at the beginning of this blog to keep those memories fresh in my mind. (My First Post) but it was wonderful, nonetheless, to really look at how much better my life is now that I'm not carrying the extra weight.  The best word I can use to describe how I feel is "Free".

  • Free from the chronic pain of sciatica and Achilles tendonitis
  • Free to blend in during social situations and out in the world
  • Free from the feeling that I might die soon of a heart attack. (I frequently worried about this.)
  • Free to buy and wear any kind of clothing I want at a normal store (and free to choose a personal style!)
  • Free to engage in fun physical activities with family and friends - hiking, kayaking, walking distances, swimming in public, yoga and many adventures ahead!
  • Free from the anxiety of fitting into chairs, booths, amusement park rides, cars, boats
  • Free to travel on airplanes in comfort, with room between me and the next person
  • Free from immediate and unconscious episodes of emotional eating
  • Free from the cravings induced by a diet consisting primarily of carbohydrates
  • Free from the embarrassment and disappointment in myself for not getting a handle on my weight and health.
Basically, many wonderful things I want to do in this life, my only life, I am able to do now because I shed the extra weight.  That is freaking glorious!  

Am I a perfect physical specimen?  Nah.  I'm still a little heavier than I maybe could be.  I'm working on it and have a lifetime to tweak my diet and weight numbers.  There is still so much for me to learn through the maintenance process, but I don't feel pressured to have to have all the answers right now. 

I also have physical activity goals.  I'm training for the Rock n Roll Half Marathon (will run/walk it), and I hope to one day be able to run a complete 5K without stopping.  There are many more strength and speed goals that I'll be able to challenge myself with.


As I mentioned, I'm still trying to figure things out with my diet. The scale has been creeping up despite relatively clean eating and lots of exercise, so I have decided to switch gears a bit.  Since starting my Maintenance class, I rationalized a few more carbs than I had initially intended to eat.  Even though I lowered my calorie level, I have seen the scale creep up and down, but really not move down consistently.  I have some of my Optifast products as a back up, but I'd really love to try and figure out a sustainable way of eating so that I can maintain my weight (and lose the few pounds I gained since stopping the fast)  I realize that I've put on muscle since I stopped the fast.  I'm lifting weights, hiking and jogging.  I'd just like to keep building the muscle, but lose some of the stored fat as well.  My clothes all fit fine, so I think I'm looking at a a body fat/muscle % issue now.

In effort to be as transparent as possible, and in case anyone is interested in the wild musings of someone tweaking their diet, I will share with you my new dietary plan/experiment.  I've decided to lower my carbohydrate intake considerably.  I'm striving to keep it under 10% of my calories, and make up the calories with healthy fats and reasonable (not excessive) protein.  My carbs will come from vegetables grown above ground and some berries.   I've been reading about a ketogenic diet, and want to try it.  I have two hopes for this plan.  I'm looking to burn my stored fat as my primary energy source (by staying in ketosis) and I'd like to be able to raise my calories (to 1500-1700 kcals) in an effort to help rev my metabolism a bit.  I'm exercising a great deal, and I don't think 1300 kcals is enough for me.  One wild card in this way of eating will be its impact on my athletic performance.  I will see if I can run and hike as vigorously on a low level of carbs.  It remains to be seen, and I'll let you all know.

I'm giving this experiment two weeks and I'm weighing myself daily to see how it goes.

That's it for me for now.  I hope all of you are enjoying. and not stressing over the holiday season too much.  I'm making spiced nuts to give out as gifts for my neighbors.  I'm sure cookies will be brought into the house, but I'll try and be strong! We are having an "experience" Christmas this year.  We cashed in our frequent flyer miles and booked a cruise for Dec. 26th.  So we're not doing very many presents this year.  Everyone is happy with that plan, and I'm finished with all of my family shopping.  Snorkels for everyone!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Looking Ahead On Weight and Fitness

I have gotten swept up in the end of the year chaos and holiday events, so I wanted to just touch base on my health happenings.

I'm still seeking balance with my weight.  I find myself eating back my exercise calories so I'm glad that I lowered my overall calorie goal.  Unfortunately, I'm not seeing the scale go down any farther.  That tells me something right there, so I will really try and regain my diet discipline.   Today is a new day!  I'm going to weigh and measure more, to achieve accuracy.

I wasn't able to get in to have my RMR checked before Thanksgiving, but I'm going to call today and try to get it scheduled in the next few days.  It will give me more data that will help me set my calorie goals in MyFitnessPal.  It is another piece of the maintenance mystery.

I'm pushing myself farther and steeper on my hikes, and I've stepped up my running frequency to almost daily.  I find myself taking about 1 day off per week.  I never thought I'd find myself wanting to jog in the rain, but it happened a couple of days ago.  It was a misty rain, so it felt peaceful, and I wasn't soaked through to the bone or anything.  Maybe this is the mythical runners high, but I do feel uplifted when I start and finish my jog/walks (that pesky middle part isn't too bad, until it's bad - LOL).  As of now, I run twice as far as a walk.  I either time myself or use visual markers, so it's nothing too scientific, yet, but I have an app, and I'm tracking my pace.  It would be nice to work up to 3min/1min intervals.

Yesterday I signed up to run the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in Phoenix, which will be in January.  I'm super excited that I'll get to meet up with Martha (aka OptifastMom) on the day that we pick up our bibs.  I was inspired to to try running through her blog.  Thanks, chica!

So now I have to train in earnest.  I've set a very modest goal for this race -- basically I want to finish it before they sweep up the stragglers.  I have 4 hours before that happens, but I think I can do it in about 3 hours if I keep training and if I can stick fairly closely to my 2min/1min, run/walk intervals (but I'm aiming to work up to 3min/1min for most of it).  The music should be a huge boost as well. There will be live music playing throughout, but The Wallflowers are playing a concert after the race, and I love them.  It should be a fun party.  Music is one of my greatest joys.

I think a long and winding race is a very fitting way to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of starting my weight loss adventure.  It has been challenging in spots, and I wasn't sure I'd reach the "finish line" to a normal weight.  But I did it, and it has been one of the greatest things I've ever done for myself.

You never really finish the weight race because of the maintenance part of the equation.  I've settled in on the realization that this awareness will be a part of my life forever.  I don't expect to arrive at the stage where I "don't even have to think about my diet anymore" anytime soon.  Hopefully I will get there in the future, but as of now, I don't consider this stage a "timed" race.  I merely have to get through to the finish line each day, and keep tweaking my diet when necessary.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

So Much To Be Thankful For

159 lbs.  (back in the safe zone!)

In the United States we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday.  I will be preparing a big turkey dinner for family and then joining friends for dessert.  Recently I have been reading about how people are approaching their food choices around the holidays.  I thought I'd write a bit about my strategy.

All of my thoughts on eating during the holidays are colored by my recent weight loss and new lifestyle.  Over the past several months, and 99 pounds later, I've learned that my relationship with food is tricky.  I have psychological and physical cravings, as well as a long-standing (but thankfully, fading) urge to eat for emotional reasons.  Part of my recovery from obesity has been to stay mindful of triggers and stay accountable for the food that I eat by logging my foods and trying to stay within a calorie range. I've also decreased dramatically my intake of processed carbs and sugar.  This has made a huge difference for me.

I've had some ups and downs in Maintenance, but I'm getting better control over weight fluctuations.  It feels wonderful to have lost a couple of pounds recently, after exceeding my safe weight zone.  All of this is new, though.  I'm still insecure about my ability, through decreased calories, to lose unwanted weight.  When I was 100 pounds heavier, calorie counting seemed like an impossible route.  I hadn't had much success with it or any other method of weight loss.  I felt like I would never get a handle on my weight.  Now I've proven to myself that with smaller weight fluctuations, I AM able to do it, and will continue to monitor my weight and take action when it creeps up.

Last year at this time I knew that I would be embarking on this Optifast Adventure.  I had had my initial intake appointment and would be starting the classes and product in January.  At the time, I didn't want to overeat too much since I'd already had my initial weigh-in.  I didn't want to arrive in class with a huge gain from the holidays.  I ate everything in moderation (for me), but didn't hold back too much.

Fast forward to this year.  I have a whole new mindset and a new understanding of why I eat, and what foods may be triggers for binge eating.  I have been logging my foods on MyFitnessPal for 304 days straight.  In this time of figuring out maintenance, the data has been invaluable, and it has helped me to adjust my calories for weight loss.

People on the diet boards come with varying opinions on holiday eating.  Some will try and cook healthier versions of their favorite dishes; others say that they plan to enjoy the day and take a break from their diets.  It's only one day, after all.

But would it be only one day for me?  I'm not certain of it.

I'm the cook, the leftovers will be in my fridge.  In all my life it has never been just one day of feasting.

This year I don't feel comfortable just letting it all go for the day.  Logging food is a reminder that my weight and health are a significant priority in my life.  It isn't a chore for me to log, and at least for me, it has been a motivator to make better choices.  My plan will be to cook smaller portions of the carb-heavy sides and eat smaller portions.  My supportive family is cool with that.  They don't need mashed potatoes and stuffing for days.  Turkey is something I am happy to have left over.   I will also not feel deprived having been able to load up on turkey, salad and green beans and just have very small portions of stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry.  I will do my best to log ALL of it and if I end up in the red zone, so be it.  But what and how much I eat will be a conscious choice.

For a food addict, Thanksgiving is a tricky time.  It is a whole holiday centered around food and memories of times with family.  Sometimes family can be stressful, and some of you might find yourself vulnerable to emotional eating or drinking.  For me, my parents and in-laws have all passed away, so we forge our own traditions and keep our parents close to our hearts.  I always try to channel my mom's spirit when I'm preparing stuffing!  My mother-in-law was an expert with cranberry sauce.  I enjoy remembering them while I'm cooking those dishes.

If you're in the U.S. and celebrating the holiday, I wish you a wonderful holiday.  No matter what your eating strategy will be, let's be so very thankful for the loving, wonderful people in our lives (past, present and virtual).  I am also thankful for my healthy new life.  Thankful and happy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thankful for Support

161.4 lbs

I had a very self-indulgent evening with food and beverages last night.  Logged it all and accepted the big red numbers on MyFitnessPal.

I fessed up, and my friends on MFP were very warm and supportive.  I'm so thankful for this community of people that I have to help me through the ups and downs of building a healthy life.  The supportive energy and kindness does reduce the sting considerably and is helpful in moving on.  And we know that being able to move on is the key to success with weight loss and maintenance.

If you haven't joined one of these groups, I highly recommend it.  In the case of MFP, you have to choose wisely.  Not everyone is open to helping/accepting people on the paths of their choosing.  Sometimes you get snarky, mean people who care only for their way doing diet and exercise and want to tear down anyone finding success in other ways.  Don't be discouraged by them, keep looking.  In addition to following the interesting blogs on the side of my blog page, I recently joined an Optifast Maintenance Facebook page, which is also full of great people who are building healthy lives.

Switching inspirational gears, today I came across a great quote from my favorite Buddhist teacher, Pema Chodron.  I just love her, plain and simple.

How To Build Inner Strength - Posted on the Shambhala Blog

You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself. Loving-kindness for yourself does not mean making sure you’re feeling good all the time—trying to set up your life so that you’re comfortable every moment. Rather, it means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate self-honesty. In this way you become more attuned to seeing when you’re biting the hook, when you’re getting caught in the undertow of emotions, when you’re grasping and when you’re letting go. This is the way you become a true friend to yourself just as you are, with both your laziness and your bravery. There is no step more important than this.
From Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chödrön, page 53

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Post Race Bliss

Just wanted to give a quick update on my very fun 10 mile walk this morning!  I completed the Silver Strand 10 miler and earned my first race medal.  Yippee!

It was a beautiful California morning and I had great views of the beach on both sides of the course.  I did the walk with my sister and brother-in-law so the time passed quickly as we chatted about our holiday plans and engaged in general silliness.  Before I knew it, it was done.

My first two races (Color Run and Silver Strand) were more social experiences.  I enjoyed sharing the experiences with my family and  friends, but I have to admit that I have the bug to do a race and go all out for my best time.  I think I'll be searching for one to go solo on and we will see how that goes.  I'm just thrilled to be able to go out there and participate.  I've come a very long way.

I know I'll be signing up for both social and personal races in the future.  It is just a wonderful way to stay in shape, have a goal and end with a party!  Plus, I admit to feeling just a little bad-ass athletic, which is something I admired in others when I was sitting on the sidelines as an overweight person.  It is awesome to know that a person like me can go from the sidelines to the race course in a matter of months!  If you are reading this in the middle of your weight loss journey, you'll be there too!

Here are some sights from this morning:
Looking like a giant, walking tall before the race.

The morning was flawless here at the starting line.

At the finish line with my first racing medal!  It felt great.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Getting Ready for My Big Race and other Clinical Issues

161 lbs.  (Perplexed, but still trying to get back down)

This morning I pick up my racing bib and shirt for the Silver Strand 10 miler that I'm doing at the crack of dawn tomorrow.  I'm super excited!  I'll be doing it with my sister and brother-in-law, who are driving over from Arizona as we speak.

Even though I'm bummed and perplexed by my higher weight, I remain excited and encouraged by my increase in fitness and what that has brought to my life.  The quality of my life right now is off the charts better than it was a year ago.  It is exactly what I hoped for when I was preparing to start the program.  In fact, I think it was almost exactly a year ago that I had my first assessment appointment at the Positive Choice Clinic, where my "starting photo" was taken (see Progress in Pictures).  It is this wonderful new life that keeps me calm and carrying on.

I realize that I can't out-exercise a bad diet, but honestly, my diet is really good.  I'm not slamming down sweets every day.  I'm not swigging margaritas.  I'm exercising, eating a balanced, healthy diet, and logging my foods.  So I'm just going to have to trust this process and the journey that my body is taking.  I'm going to keep focusing on salad, healthy protein, lower carbs, and getting enough water (perhaps I'm lax in this area).

My clinic offers a very accurate test for Resting Metabolic Rate.  I've been holding off on this test, for my body to adjust to a normal diet and for my metabolism to kick in.  I think I'm ready now, and will make an appointment next week.  I'm pretty jazzed about it, and I think when I have a very accurate picture of my RMR, I'll be able to adjust my calories with more confidence.  There are a couple of schools of thought that keep me confused about whether I need to eat more or eat less to lose weight.  Some people say that when you are consuming too few calories for your activity level, your body's metabolism slows down and you don't lose weight.  The other situation is the classic one of eating too many calories for your energy expenditure.  I'm honestly not sure which camp I'm in, so this is why I think the test will be helpful for me.

I'll give you some updates from my race (which is along a beautiful strand of beach here in San Diego).  As always, I hope all of you are finding the will to continue on your paths.  We just need to stay focused, keep striving, don't get too emotional, find answers and act on them to the best of our ability each day.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Situation in a Nutshell

This, my friends is it in a nutshell...

It isn't easy, though.  Hopefully with practice we will learn and grow to make the healthiest choices.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Adjusting Calories

161 lbs.  (Scream Weight +1)

After a few weeks of gaining weight slowly (or really maintaining at a higher weight than I desire), I realize that it's time to make some adjustments to bring myself back down to my comfort zone.

About 2-3 weeks ago, I adjusted my MyFitnessPal calorie level to 1800 per day.  This was in response to the addition of weight training twice per week, and the hunger that set in.  Well, call me simple minded, but that little app is very motivating to me, and I find myself always eating up to my calorie range and sometimes beyond it when I add in my exercise calories.  Based on the results, I don't think this is working so well for  me. I rarely go beyond the exercise calories, so I know that I am motivated to never get into the red zone on the app.

Love this one!
If I psych myself up for eating back some of the exercise calories, then I need to lower my baseline calorie level so that I consume less.  I'll also try not to eat back as many exercise calories.  This morning I dropped my calorie level to 1700 and we will see what happens.  I feel like my body is adjusting better to the weight lifting, and I'm not quite as hungry as I was when I started.  Hopefully this adjustment will make a difference and the number on the scale will creep back down.  Fingers crossed!

Another slowdown this week is that I developed a bad cold.  I decided to take a couple of days to rest and not exercise.  Today I'm headed out on a nice brisk walk, which I'm looking forward to doing.  I love walking outdoors!

That's the latest from this maintainer.  Still looking for my sweet spot with calories and activity, but I'm in it to win it and highly motivated not to ever give up and throw away the progress I've made.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Healthy Halloween!!

This year's Halloween was quite different from years past.  We didn't have candy around the house until an hour before trick or treat time (and since we don't get many kids, it was a very small amount); I hadn't dug into any candy before Halloween, when it is abundant in the stores for weeks; and I decided to reach for a milestone this year.

Yesterday morning after dropping the kids off at school, my friend and I trekked off to hike to the top of a nearby mountain -- and we made it!

I was feeling the burn in my legs and butt, especially since I had my strength class the day before, but I was fit enough to keep the steady uphill climb.  It was an eight-miler round trip!

Picture at the summit - still smiling and all downhill from here!
My friend is a breast cancer survivor, so we both felt blessed to have our health and be able to experience and appreciate these beautiful views.  At times like these I am reminded of how much richer life is, now that I'm healthy and can do more.

We were surprised and delighted to find a metal box at the top containing notebooks signed by people who had also hiked to the top.  It was fun reading the entries, and then adding our own comments.

This morning I'm a little sore, but still feeling great about yesterday's fun.  Last night, I attended a Halloween party, drank a bit of wine, abstained from the pizza, but had a small slice of a lemon cake.  I'm mindful of food now, even if I don't always make the perfect choices.  Today I will drink lots of water, and keep to protein and veggies.  My weight is still up a little so I need to really focus on my diet and return to what worked for me a few weeks ago.

Hope you all had a successful Halloween, and if not, it's okay.  Today is a reset.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Diet and Exercise: Musing on the Adjustment

160 lbs. (scream weight!)

Warning:  This post is a bit of a ramble about my diet.

Since I returned from vacation, I've experienced a few changes that keep me thinking about the connection between diet and exercise (and the tweaking of food intake for optimal nutrition).  I'm also thinking about the blurred line between eating optimally for fuel, and eating for other pleasurable reasons.

Over the past few weeks, with my increase in exercise, I've slowly increased my calories.  When I increased my calories a few weeks ago, I was able to maintain my weight pretty well.  This told me that my metabolism was continuing to increase and recover from almost 40 weeks of a very low calorie diet.

But things have changed both behaviorally and perhaps metabolically for me the past few days.  This week I found myself eating a couple of extra servings of cottage cheese as a snack, I've been adding to my daily lunch salad some protein, dried cranberries, avocado and sprinkles of Gorgonzola and sunflower seeds, too.  All of these little add-ons (that also make my salad a decadent treat) have lots of calories.  At first, I was eating because I was famished on the days that I have my strength training class.  Those days had me hungry and scrambling for food throughout the day.  But now I wonder if I'm overdoing it by adding these treats daily.  Am I unconsciously adding in those treats as a reward for exercise?

When does a logical eating strategy turn into a pathway for old behaviors?

Well, I guess when I start justifying daily consumption of foods that I LOVE, such as cheese and dried cranberries!  I'm probably going to have to throw in cottage cheese as well, since I have gotten into the habit of adding a little Splenda and cocoa power for a sweet treat.

Where does exercise fit into this equation?  Well, here's where I might get myself turned around sometimes.  I've done some reading, and I'm learning in my maintenance class that it is beneficial to eat very soon after lifting and also it's important to have some carbs with that snack.  I'd been avoiding grains for the most part, but for the past week or so I started having a piece or two of whole wheat bread with natural peanut butter (yummy and also high calorie!)  I'm pairing my carb with a fat or protein just like my class suggested, but I wonder if that yummy combination of a carb and peanut butter might be too much of a trigger food for me.

Maintenance is a learning experience for sure.

I have to call myself out when I see certain snacking and eating behaviors creep back into my life and when the result is an uptick in the scale.  Eating whole wheat bread and natural peanut butter (and measuring and logging the calories) may not seem like an issue to many people.  For those who subscribe to the notion that a calorie = a calorie, they would look at my diet and say "she's eating too many calories for her energy needs, so of course she's gaining weight."  They would be partially right, of course.  But I think our bodies are more complex.

What I've learned about myself in the weight loss process is that I DO experience emotional reactions to foods that make me want to eat more (perhaps those are even hormonally triggered and can be managed with food choices.)  I don't know the answers yet.  I'm just now truthfully trying to identify those foods and deciding how I'm going to handle it.  Whether it's through abstinence, mindfulness, distraction techniques, or other ways of moving away from food when I'm not hungry, I'm going to try and be honest with myself and figure out the best way to manage my "head" issues around food.

I also realize that I'm still healing from my fast, and that it may take some time for my body to adjust to the ups and downs of exercise, hormones, new foods, etc.  So I'm trying not to have too much of a knee-jerk response to all of this.  I have to look at it objectively, scientifically, and with a long-term view that this is a process that I may be wrestling with forever.  That's fine with me, as long as I can successfully switch gears and get back down to a healthy weight when it starts creeping up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Post-Vacation Run-Down and New Maintenance Class

154 lbs.

It feels like ages since I wrote a blogpost, but I've packed a lot of living into the past week!  We just returned from a 5 day vacation back east to New York and Connecticut.  It was fantastic, just my husband and myself without kiddos.  It was in part to celebrate my husband's 50th birthday, which is this weekend, and so we spent a couple of days in New York City walking around and visiting a couple of places that we have never seen before, which was wonderful.  Let me give you a little travelogue, but then I want to touch on my diet and exercise experience.

Our first stop was a visit to the Freedom Tower.  We lived in the area during 9/11 so it was an emotional time that is etched in our memories.  We visited the beautiful and poignant 9/11 Memorial Museum.  I've lived through natural disasters as well as this act of terrorism, and what has shined through very clearly and loudly is the abundance of goodness and kindness that such tragedies bring out in people.  The museum is highly focused on the humanity of the victims as well as the whole world who came to the aid of NYC and the United States at that time.  It's a must-see if ever you visit New York City.

Freedom Tower in New York City
We took in a show by buying last minute deep discount tickets at the TKTS booth.  We saw Newsical the Musical -- a very tiny and entertaining show off Broadway.

On Wednesday night, we took in Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre - an amazing historic theatre in Harlem - where many R&B artists got their start.  I don't know which came first, Amateur Night or the Gong Show, but both are somewhat similar.  It is a talent show where the audience gets to decide who stays and who goes.  You can "boo" people off the stage.  It only happened once, and I think the guy was a plant.  You also get to pick the winner for the evening who then goes on to another round for a big cash prize.  But really, you'll be up cheering, dancing and laughing throughout this show :-) Loved it!
Apollo Theatre
View from our hotel room!
 I walked my butt off in New York, even though I developed a terrible cold on the first day.  Eating wise, I tried my best to stick to mostly protein, fruits and veggies, though I had a few slices of amazing fresh Italian bread at a restaurant in Little Italy.  They were small slices, but since my eating strategy allowed for special treats, I ate them without any guilt, and enjoyed them dipped in a seasoned olive oil.  I found it easy to eat eggs for breakfast and that meal kept me satisfied.  We snacked on fruit and nuts and lunched on meat dishes.  All in all, I was able to stick to my plan, and indulge in only a half of a dark chocolate bar as a sweet treat, and a glass or two of wine along the way.

After leaving New York, we headed north to Connecticut for my husbands 20th graduate school reunion.  The Fall foliage was perfect!!!  We went on a lovely hike and picked apples.

I miss the Fall!!  Living in Southern California, we don't get to experience the changing of the seasons, so this was such a special treat for me!

As the Connecticut part of our trip was more social, I did find myself at the mercy of what was being served the the various events I attended.  I was able to find good protein choices, and then just gave myself literally "tastes" of some of the special dishes that were served.  I drank wine when it was served, and even had a couple of pieces of some special desserts.  To balance this, I woke up early and walked every morning.  The hotel had a gym, but this was Fall in New England!  I wasn't going to miss the chance to take it all in and exercise outside.

This trip taught me to maximize the choices that I CAN make, and then enjoy some treats if they are special enough to count the calories.  I kept a record of my eating on MyFitnessPal, and logged my exercise, just like at home.  It was easy to do this on my phone, and it kept me aware of my weight loss and health journey.  I could make conscious choices this way.  But I have to say that wearing cute clothes and receiving kind remarks from friends were the best incentive to stay focused on my health and seek balance.  I won't lie to you, it was a scary feeling to be in a position to eat things that wouldn't normally be my first and best diet food choices.  Circumstances weren't always perfect and I just had to accept that and do my best to keep moving and burning calories.

I didn't view exercise as a chore, though.  It was highly enjoyable and on one level reinforced my new identity as a healthy, fit person.  I can't tell you what a cool feeling that was for me.

Starting Maintenance Class

Yesterday I started my Maintenance Class at the Positive Choices Clinic.  I weighed in (had only gained a pound from the trip) and then entered another room of people who were (mostly) at the point of maintaining weight.  I didn't know what to expect from this class, but it really is off to a promising start, and I think it will be very interesting and helpful.

We will cover lots of ground about nutrition and exercise (more encouragement to do strength training).  I have to admit that I was relieved to see that my instructor has a view of nutrition that seems to be very much based on the latest research, and not just a dust-off of the food pyramid.  He stressed food-combining, which is something I haven't really been exposed to.  This involves paring foods during meals and snacks so that the insulin spikes can be optimized/minimized.  He wants us to shoot for eating 20g of protein at breakfast, and to pair up any carbohydrate food with either a protein or fat, so that the insulin spike is minimized.  It was great to hear from him that dietary fat isn't the enemy, and even causes the release of hormones in the body to signal "fullness".

In his opinion, the consumption of too many simple carbohydrates is what makes most people overweight.  I have to agree that this was the case with me, and it is this concept that is forming my new eating strategy.  We learned that when blood sugar crashes, our body secretes hormones that make us ravenous, food-seeking robots.  We are created to seek and find the most high calorie food to feed our bodies immediately and quickly.  I've felt this way before :-) and polished off many cookies and boxes of cereal during my crash moments.

According to our instructor, we are going to learn how to become "fat burning machines" by:

  • Eating enough calories (1200-1500 cals minimum for women, 1500-1700 cals for men).  Our low calorie days are over and we want to fuel our bodies for maximum performance.  No starvation mode.
  • Eat more frequently.  Every three or four hours to avoid low blood sugar and the evil "hungries"  This also maximizes the functioning of our metabolism.
  • Burn calories through cardio exercise.  It teaches our body how to burn fat as fuel and regulates blood sugar levels.
  • Build more muscle.  It builds lean body mass which maximizes daily calorie burn.
Sorry for such a long post.  I am excited about this next phase in my health education, and I'll post more later as I live my life in maintenance.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More Happenings and A Special Trip

There are a couple of new fitness adventures I've taken part in, or will take part in soon. I feel like they are helping me build a new identity as a fit person.

First, I finally attended a strength training fitness class at the Y on Monday. Oh my goodness!  I became acquainted with muscles I've never met before, and they introduced themselves by quivering uncontrollably and hurting like heck.  I felt sore from head to toe, and for at least 2 days, I had a hard time lifting my arms or holding a phone.  I thought I was pretty strong, but boy was I wrong.  I went to the second class today, and while I'm still sore, it isn't as much of a shock to my system as Monday's class was.  Yay for progress!  I think I will easily be able to see improvement, since I'm pretty much starting from rock bottom.

I also signed up the for the Color Run taking place this Saturday in San Diego.  The Color Run aka "The happiest race on earth" is a 5K where they shower you with colored powder at various stations during the race.  Tutus and zany outfits are the norm there.  It was a last minute decision after a friend was looking to transfer two registrations when they needed to back out.  So even though I'm not ready to run the whole 5K, my younger son and I will walk it and just soak up the fun.  He's so excited, and informed me that he would be "totally up for any of the messy races" (like the color run, mud run, etc.)  Gotta love boys!  I'm stocking up on wet wipes and will bring extra clothes, towels and covers for the seats of the car.  What ev', life is for experiences, right?

In addition to the fitness stuff, I'm preparing for an awesome trip back East.  Next Tuesday my husband and I are leaving for a five night trip to New York City and Connecticut.  It is the first time we've been away, without the kids, in a number of years so I'm really, really excited!  As anyone with kids in school can imagine, I'm frantically preparing the house for my husband's sister, who will be staying with the kids while we're gone.  I've got cleaning to do, and need to write down the "where and when" of the kids' daily life.

I've also been doing some shopping for the trip, which is such a wonderful reward for losing the weight.  Never in my life have I enjoyed shopping, until this time.  I've had awesome luck at both thrift stores and regular stores.  Here are a couple of my new outfits:

I'm not naked under the coat, I'm wearing a skirt :-)  Love the sassy short boots!
Super excited that I found this dress and blazer at a thrift store!
It is probably good that I don't have unlimited resources for shopping, but having been obese for at least the last 20 years, and I can honestly say that I'm not in the market for boring clothes anymore!  I'm enjoying making an effort to dress at least a little more stylishly :-)

The first two days of our trip will be in New York City, and it will be for pure fun.  My husband is turning 50 in a couple of weeks, so this is a celebration.  We'll do lots of walking and sight seeing, and attend a couple of shows.  I should log a good number of steps on the Fitbit.

Then we head to Connecticut for his 20 year graduate school reunion.  I'll be attending more dinners and happy hours, so I'll need to dress up a bit more.  I'm really looking forward to seeing old friends and enjoying the beautiful New England Fall scenery.  We lived there for 10 years, so it will be such a wonderful time visiting some of my old favorite places and neighborhoods. We'll do a bunch of hiking, too, which will balance out the eating and drinking.  I can't wait!

This will be my first big trip where I'm completely off of Optifast products.  It will be tricky.  Recently, I have noticed myself eating more calories and have added a couple of pounds.  I'm not at the scream weight, but I'm trying to be mindful of balancing some lower calorie days with the higher calorie days. My activity has been increasing steadily, but I know that, much to my chagrin, it takes both a healthy diet and exercise to maintain a healthy life.  I just keep reminding myself to seek balance and take joy in it, since a healthy life is so much more fun.

My recent shopping excursions have further increased my motivation to keep my weight in check!  It is a hoot to be able to look at something, try it on, and have a reasonably good chance that it will look decent on me.  I might ding it for price or color or cut, but it will FIT.  That is a great feeling!

I will probably not be able to write my blog next week, but when I get back, I'll be sure to check in.

P.S.:  Some of you haven't been able to see the pictures on my blog.  I did something different this time, so if you don't see them (or if you notice them up for the first time), would you mind letting me know?  Thanks!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Transitions on the Journey

153 lbs.

This past week I finished my last regular Optifast class.  I've been attending for 40 weeks, and it feels like a graduation of sorts.  Only one of my original classmates will be continuing on.  The rest of my original classmates went on to take the 8 week maintenance class and are now freely living in the world of their own healthy choices and ways.  I won't start my next class until October 21st, so I have a couple of free weeks.  During that time I have a trip to NYC planned, and my husbands grad school reunion in Connecticut.  I'm so excited to heading out on this trip with him!  We have a couple of special shows planned, as well as lots of walking and hiking in the beautiful Fall weather.

I'm looking forward to my maintenance class, though.  I received the advice that it would be best to be completely off product for a number of weeks before attending maintenance class because I would come back with experience, and probably with lots of questions.  I think that will be the case.  According to my former leader, the person teaching my maintenance class is a personal trainer, and should also be able to give advice about my fitness goals.  This is my new focus, so the timing is perfect.

I admit that the process of reintroducing food has been very experimental for me.  Balancing my caloric intake with my activity level has been interesting.  Since I log all of my food and activity into MyFitnessPal, at first I was perplexed and worried by my eating only 900 calories, working out an hour per day, and still maintaining my weight.  I wondered if I would ever be able to eat more food.   Well, slowly, either by circumstance or intention, I've increased my calories over the last three weeks, and I'm averaging about 1500 kcals now, give or take, and I actually dropped a couple of pounds this week.  I think it's a normal fluctuation, but I'm now eating at a level that makes me happy and feels normal, so if I need to keep this caloric level, that would be great.  There is room for a nice treat every now and then, and I know I wouldn't want to feel like I have to be a good girl ALL the time!

All of this is taking my full attention though.  In fact, I feel like this whole weight loss process has required me to re-prioritize my energy (in a good way, though).  When I was obese, I didn't give a thought to what I ate or when I would exercise.  That left more time to devote to kids, work, friends and the house.  Nowadays, I would say that it's a tie between attention to my kids' needs and attention to my healthy needs.  Those two things take up a lot of space in my life.  Other things have fallen by the wayside.  I'm still making time for friends and some work, but my home is looking a little scrappy at times.  I'm sure it will sort itself out and become streamlined as I develop habits, and feel comfortable with my own personal eating philosophy.

It sounds funny to have an eating philosophy, but for me, it's helpful.  I operated very well under the structure of Optifast, so having a new structure seems like a good idea for me.  For me, it is simple and uncomplicated.  I'm trying to avoid grains and processed sugar.  This would be very difficult if my husband wasn't also eating this way, but he is still in weight loss mode, and he has chosen a low carb lifestyle that is working for him.  We plan to continue this way going forward, and I have to say that I haven't found it too difficult to maintain my weight while eating this way.  Our kids still get sandwiches, treats and rice every now and then, but we are all eating more vegetables, meat and fruit.  I can't see a downside to this way of eating in our home, but I'm also not going to freak out when it's time to have a taste of home made birthday cake or a special regional treat when we're on vacation!

I never made it to my strength class last week, since I forgot that I was teaching art to my younger son's class.  This week I get to start over and will aim to fit that in, while still keeping up with hiking and C25K (I love those two things!).  That's my goal and I know that strength training is important.  Add that to the never ending list, though!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 40 of Optifast - More Non-Scale Victories

156 lbs.

I've had a busy week but wanted to check in on the blog.  Last week brought some great news and a huge non-scale victory for me.  After I left my job in May, I had to give up my work-supported life insurance policy.  Since I've been getting healthier, and haven't been this healthy in many years, I decided to apply for my own life insurance.  After going through all of the questions and blood work, last week I found out that I was approved!  This was huge for me.  My policy isn't very expensive, but I feel so much better knowing that if anything happened to me, that my family will have some financial support.  I never thought I'd be healthy enough to get my own policy, so this is a big deal for me.

I also headed to Arizona to attend my high school centennial celebration and homecoming.  It has been 29 years since I graduated and I've never been back for one of these events.  It was such a positive experience seeing old friends and reconnecting with my roots.  I lived in my city at a very unique time, when there was only one high school, so all the kids from all parts of town funneled into one place.  I have literally grown up with a good number of people from my home town, and we came from all walks of life.  It was a very special experience, and with Facebook keeping us in touch, we have remained pretty close.
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My beautiful high school.

In truth, I never would have attended something like this 100 pounds ago.  For my 10 and 20 year reunions, I was lucky to be living on the East coast, far away from Arizona, so I had some cover.  Now I am so much more comfortable in my skin, and felt self-confident.  I guess this is one of the many perks of getting healthier.  I don't pass up special opportunities anymore.  I think this event falls solidly in the "have more fun" category of why I was motivated to lose weight.  Admittedly, it was great to look better too :-)

All of my friends were very supportive of my weight loss.  I had a great conversation with the husband of a friend who has maintained a 200 pound weight loss (he had gastric bypass surgery 4 years ago).  They have established an active lifestyle - participating in cycling races and long weekend rides.  I am always very happy to meet people who have managed to keep their weight off.  It really inspires me to know that it can be done and is being done by people all the time.

Saturday morning I met two of my friends for a beautiful desert hike.  I'm still amazed when I can do things like this without pain or extreme exertion.  Each time I push myself to do more, my confidence rises when I don't keel over from the activity!  I managed to eat pretty well over the weekend, except for Saturday evening and 3 big glasses of wine, which I enjoyed after helping my niece move (in a torrential rain storm, I might add).
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Beautiful sunrise hike in the desert.
Before I left for the trip I measured out several 2oz packets of beef jerky, 1oz packets of almonds, and packed veggies, an apple and cheese sticks.  I had a cooler with the food as well as waters and diet soda.  It worked great and I wasn't tempted one bit to indulge in fast food or junk food during my road stops.  It also made logging my foods much easier.  While I was away I had a couple of treats, but mostly stuck with my plan.  A one pound variation in my weight didn't set off any alarm bells.  Today I'm back to eating less salty protein choices and drinking lots of water.  I feel in control and balanced in all of this.  But it still feels like new territory to me.

I'm hiking farther and faster, and progressing with my C25K program.  I also started weight lifting last week and will try a group strength class on Thursday.  I'm looking forward to that because I wasn't really happy with my new gym's weight machines, to be honest.  But I know that building muscle is very important to building my metabolism and will really help in maintaining my weight.

That's it for now.  Lots of busy stuff with life and kids and whatnot, but as far as my health and choices, I'm still on track.  Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Update - Parties Everywhere!

155 lbs.  (yay!)

This was a busy and fun weekend for me, and it offered opportunities to test my mettle in social situations, now that I am eating food.

Saturday was a gathering of my closest former work buddies, on the boat of a friend.  Immediately I was offered a margarita.  I was caught off guard, and had this fleeting realization that I am now in a spot to make choices.  I decided to accept the offer.  It was sweet, but not as good as I remembered them tasting.  I don't think I'll feel compelled to have one of those again.  I'm still trying to keep to below 100g of carbs per day, and sweet alcohol drinks are not the way I want to get those in - I'm most satisfied with a nice glass of red wine.

After taking the drink, I was able to pass on crackers and bread, but did take a couple of small bites of the chocolate cake, and participated in a champagne toast. Overall, I'd give myself a B- for making choices that were largely healthy, but also recognizing what I might choose differently next time.  Facing all of these choices - to eat/drink certain things, or to not take them - was a strangely new experience for me.  I've been so used to saying "no" to everything, that it was strange to have to think about my eating philosophy as I traversed my social life.  It felt okay though, and I have to say that it was very nice to be able to blend in at a party and snack on veggies and small portions of meat.  I brought a delicious appetizer of roasted asparagus wrapped in thin roast beef slices.  It went over very well, and gave me something substantial to eat.

Since I'd imbibed for three days straight, I knew that I had to draw the line somewhere, so at my book group last night, I passed on the alcohol, and on the birthday cupcakes.  That felt balanced and good.  In hind sight, I might anticipate weekend parties a little better and plan my diet so that I can have a treat during the parties.  But hey, I'm learning.  Sometimes I have to decline what is being offered.  Just like when I was only drinking shakes, people don't usually give my food and drink participation much thought.

I went on two fantastic long hikes this weekend with the hubby.  Having him as an exercise buddy is wonderful!  If our kids hadn't been feeling a little sick, we would have taken them along with us, but we are blissfully at a stage in our parenting that both boys can be left at home alone.  The exercise gives us a chance to bond as a couple.  With both of us at home now, we are able to have those opportunities daily, and it is very nice, I must say.

So this week I will start my strength training at the gym.  I'm going to take an aqua aerobics class with a friend today, and I'll sign up to meet with a trainer who can show me how to use the weight machines.  I'm excited about getting my muscles burning and revving my metabolism.

I'm now eating approximately 1200 kcals per day, and still maintaining, so I think that my metabolism is bouncing back a little more.  My activity level remains high and that appears to be helping.

That's the scoop for me.  I hope you all have a great week!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tipsy Grazing - Girl in the Wild

Thursday night I opened a bottle of wine with the intention of ME having a drink.  This was my first "more than a taste" drink that I'd had since I started my weight loss.  It was a wonderful Pinot Noir that smelled and tasted fantastic.  I had a glass Thursday and Friday nights and enjoyed every pleasant drop.  I also noticed some interesting behaviors when I'm feeling foot loose and fancy free under the influence.  After not drinking for quite some time, even a very small glass of wine packs a punch for me.

When I drink a glass of wine, I want to eat.  Pure and simple.  Each night that I had a glass of wine, I instinctively went into the kitchen searching for a snack to pair it with.  Thursday night it was beef jerkey -- I was craving protein.  Friday night I started with protein and then Honey Nut Cheerios and milk started calling out to me.  At first I stopped myself.  I recognized this carb-craving behavior before.  I never paired it with alcohol, but in this case it was like my body was waiting for my defenses to be down so that the craving monsters could be let out of their cages.  I caved in and had a small bowl.  It tasted good, but I found myself looking at my actions as though I were an anthropologist.  Girl in the wild.

I don't know if this was simply an old habit reawakened, or a feeling I get when I drink, but I learned that I will need to have a strategy around alcohol.  Now that I'm fairly certain that enjoying that lovely glass of red wine may lead to grazing, I'm going to have to have a plan in place.

First, I think I'll limit my drinking to 2 days per week for now.  On top of that, I'll prepare some protein/vegetable snacks (maybe even some salty olives and pickles) on a plate, party style, to nibble on.  I'm thinking that if I lay something out right from the start, I won't go foraging in the kitchen, and I'll feel satisfied.  Maybe if I plan to feed the beast with appropriate foods, I'll feel satisfied and won't hear those carbs and sweets calling for me.  I sure hope so, because I'm determined to find a healthier way to enjoy my glass of wine that will also maintain healthy food behaviors.

This is my plan for now and I'll see if it makes a difference and let you know.  If anyone has faced this issue and developed an effective strategy, let me know.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Making Today My Goal Weight

Feeling Good About My Weight

I wanted to give a quick update.  I'm starting to settle into eating now, and lost a couple of the food introduction pounds that I had put on.  I'm now 155 lbs. in the morning, which is where my MyFitnessPal ticker is stopped.  I've been able to maintain this weight for the past few days so I'm hoping the this constitutes the start of a more stable time in my weight maintenance.

I'm starting to feel very happy with my body and my new emphasis on fitness.  I've decided to make 155 lbs. my new goal weight and just be very darned happy to be here.  Everybody says you'll know when you've reached goal.  Well, today I just feel like I'm very happy where I am.  I would like to practice maintaining this weight for a few months, and if I feel like I want to lose more, then I might try.  If I don't, that's okay too.  I want to focus on building muscle now, and sculpting my body, rather than focus too much on the scale for the time being.

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have made peace with the number on the scale.  I'm happy with the way my clothes fit, and I'm looking forward to taking on new challenges in my overall fitness.  This is a happy place to be, and a place that I never thought possible only a year ago!

My scream weight will remain 160 lbs, so I'll be checking daily, even during my muscle building time, but I might have to tweak the scream weight during that process too.  I'm new to all of this, so I'm certainly not going to etch anything in stone!

Fitness Bliss

I'm totally loving the C25K training, and my evening walks, even on the nights that I don't train.  I've been frequenting a lovely park near my son's karate studio, and when I drop him off, I go walking or jogging.  It is on a hilltop and gives a beautiful sunset view over the ocean (a far-away view depending on fog conditions), though I won't be seeing that until next Spring due to the shorter days.  In the evening, it looks out over neighborhood lights and darkened hills.  I saw a shooting star the other night.  I love exercising outside, and even though I'm literally going around in a circle at a park, just breathing the air feels so good to me.  It is also populated with exercisers so I don't feel unsafe, even after dark.

Speaking of walking...I LOVED this post on Mark's Daily Apple.

Thank You

So that's today's update.  I feel blessed and at peace with my decision to stop at this weight and enjoy a new focus on fitness and weight maintenance.  Thank you so much for supporting me through this process.  I am humbled that I have readers from all over the world, and I will continue to keep writing on this next chapter of my adventure.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Food for Thought and the "Screech to a Halt" Weight

I'm still working on and struggling with this transition back to food.  Even though I've never lost THIS much weight before (and I'm thrilled about it!), I've been yoyo-ing long enough to know how quickly weight comes back on relative to how long it takes to lose it.  I've traveled that road many times.  It is a terrible route to take and the scenery is ugly and unpleasant.

Last night I stepped on the scale before bedtime and it read 160 lbs.  This, my friends, is my "scream weight" or "screech to a halt" weight.  Whatever you want to call it, this is the weight that I said would be the red line that I never wanted to cross.  So, you might ask, "Christy, what the heck is happening?"

Here are the gory details.  For the past 3 weeks I thought I was smarter than my clinic, and unlike the thousands of clients who have gone through the program before me, the rules of transition didn't really apply to me.   I mean, avocados are healthy, and having a half of one on my daily salad can't be a bad thing.  It's a superfood.  Then there is the cheese.  It's dairy, right?  I can count it as a dairy if it's low fat- but 1 2/3 cups in one day? Not that portion.  Roasted pumpkin seeds -- not on the list, even if I do measure them out and count them on MyFitnessPal.  Then the Redi Whip that is in the fridge.  We use it to give my son some meds that he takes on a daily basis.  I was able to look past it all during the fast, but a few times recently I rationalized a few tablespoons.  Some foods are healthy and will eventually work their way back into my diet, but just not right now.  Some foods I'll have to evaluate and see if they can be kept around.

Then there was the Saturday afternoon at home watching a chick flick.  Hubby is out of town.  I went into my garage to get a Diet Coke.  A bag tipped over, and in it were leftover beach snacks from the birthday bonfire.  A box of Trader Joe's Ginger Snaps.  MMmm.  Nooooooooo!  Okay, maybe a couple.  That turned into 15 cookies, and yes, if you give a girl a cookie, she's gonna want a glass of milk, right?

I didn't give the full weight (pun intended) to my behavior until I ate the cookies last night.  I felt that old shame cycle starting to creep up again and knew that I needed to put a stop to it quickly.  First, I walked the cookies and cheese out to the dumpster.  Cheese has been calling out to me for a couple of months now, and I just can't have it around.    I would say that it's a "trigger" food and is something I crave without good willpower.  The mozzarella sticks don't seem to tempt me, just the cheddar and fancy stuff.  So I kept the sticks.

Then I laced up my shoes and enlisted a kid to come with me while I went on a walk/jog at the park.  That was what I needed.  My stomach felt full and almost bursting, but I told myself that I would just put on my bad ass music and walk.  It wasn't long before I took some jogging intervals, and then suddenly the obese Christy was fading away again, and the athletic Christy was stepping up to the plate.  I was feeling stronger and my head was feeling clearer.  I wasn't castigating myself in my mind over the food, but my mind was going to a very positive, strong place.

So which Christy is the one I'm going to feed and impart power?  I'm voting for bad ass running Christy.  I may have to throw out more food in the future, but I am not going back to out-of-breath, unhappy, embarrassed, pained, unhealthy Christy.  Bless her heart, she was trying her best to live, but it was really, really hard and NOT too much fun.  That woman is still there beneath the surface, her memory is still very fresh and her habits are, too.

I don't hate that person I used to be.  I understand the impulses that led to a lifetime of obesity, and I've learned to see them earlier in me now, and take notice and action.  I see that particular part of me as someone I want to keep dormant and as quiet as possible.  I understand that this is going to take time for me, and she may live within me always, even if I am able to silence her the majority of the time.

I know I posted this meme before, but it sure comes to mind today as I reflect on my transition to food.

So today I am back to making healthy, mindful choices.  I've had a few of these, and I'm pleased with each day I'm able to keep to my program.  It's not just a giant freak-out fest over here.  I'm just doing my best today, and I'll do my best tomorrow as well.  I think I'll have the most success with that if I honestly face my actions, talk about them, and then come up with new strategies.

I hope this blog doesn't begin to sound like a broken record every time I come here and process my food behaviors.  If it does, I'm sorry.  I may have to put a disclaimer up at the top.

Warning:  Rehashing the same familiar food behaviors, and trying like crazy to get better.

Edit (9/15):  Today there was an excellent post on Fit to the Finish about Scale Creep.  It provides encouragement to take action when the numbers creep up.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Weight Loss Slow Down

I'm now at a point in my program where I am shifting gears in my expectations and starting to settle down into lifestyle mode.  When I was on shakes, my weight dropped consistently, and it was wonderful.  That's what I was hoping for when I started this program!  With that tremendous momentum behind me, it feels strange to now step on the scale and see a gain.  This morning I was 2 pounds heavier than I was last week.  That's a normal fluctuation for a person eating regular food, and especially for a person transitioning onto food.  The clinic warned us of this.  But now I'm watchful.

I have been enjoying the reintroduction of food into my daily life, and can really feel a big difference in my energy levels.  With the exception of adding breads, I'm following the transition plan very closely.  In the place of bread I have added more veggies since I'm really not interested in starting in on grains and refined sugar.  I had my first grapes yesterday and YOWZA, they were fantastic.  Veggies and avocado are pretty freaking fantastic too!  I look at my beautiful salad and think "eating healthy is not bad at all!"

My activity level has bumped up extensively.  Between the C25K program and daily hikes with my hubby, I'm getting more than enough exercise each day and have really noticed that my fitness level is leaps and bounds better than it was.  I've had to slow down a bit to let him catch up with me for a change.  I am loving that feeling -- maybe it's those endorphins that people talk about - but exercising the way I've been doing really makes me happy.

So my mind is entering "slow and steady" mode, and I'm starting to ease into my new lifestyle.  There are still many things that I need to work out.  As I wean off the shakes, I'm still eating under 1,000 calories per day.  I'm going to be slowly adding to that for a while, but I don't know when my metabolism will kick back into gear.  Right now I'm feeling fine on that level of calories, but clearly with my exercise level, I'll need to see those numbers climb so that I don't stunt my metabolism.  It feels like a giant chemistry experiment to me.  I just need to trust the process and the program.

So that's my status for this week.  I'm enjoying the taste of beautiful, healthy foods, and enjoying the feeling of my healthier body, and am a little perplexed by this process of adding food and calories back in.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Week 36 Weigh-In: Setting Healthy Boundaries

155 lbs. (FYI, the MFP ticker to the right represents my morning weight - this one is 6pm at the clinic)

A good chunk of last night's Optifast meeting focused on me.  This was the first time my issues took up much of the spotlight, but it seems the theme of my struggles resonated with many in my group.  They were able to give me some perspective and some really good suggestions as well.

I shared some past and current painful experiences with my older sister, including my binge that followed her recent visit.  I've been to therapy about this relationship, but this past visit had a situation that involved my son, and I think it brought back a flood of negative memories and feelings from when I was his age.

I'm not going to go into details here, but the gist of my discussions with the group involved writing and speaking aloud my negative experiences (which I did), and setting up appropriate boundaries around the relationship (which I'm developing a plan for, and think I have a strategy for future encounters.)

It is not in my family's tradition to cut someone off fully, but I do feel like I can create a life with fewer interactions, and be direct about keeping boundaries when they are being breached.

My husband and I have a trip planned close to where she lives, and I've made the decision to only make arrangements to pop by to see her on the way to the airport, if we have time.  I'm not going to make an effort to carve out time in this precious trip that we are taking, to visit with her.  This may sound harsh, but it is important for me to honor my feelings and experiences and minimize exposure to someone who causes me emotional harm.  She also has a history of spending lots of time working during family gatherings, so I know it won't be completely out of left field for us to not be able to get together when I'm nearby.

Someday it may be important for me to speak to her directly about how her behavior in the past and present is hurtful to me, but in truth, I know that she is incapable of processing the information and it would only be for my benefit.  I'll probably know if the time is right to do this.

Lots of my classmates are showing their bravery in family situations and standing up for their healthy best interest.  Speaking up for ourselves is important on a psychological level, and whether the person we are speaking to agrees with us or not, we are entitled to our perspective and to make the choices that are best for us.  The more I learn to do this on a regular basis, the less likely I will be to stuff down my feelings with food.  I'm going to need to practice awareness and figure out what to do with myself when I want to run to the fridge.

On the food front, I'm feeling terrific as I've added protein, vegetables and salad to my daily diet.  I love the extra energy and more vigorous workouts.  My oldest son is doing the C25K app with me and it's really wonderful to share the experience with him.  Two of the days we run are in the evening, and I feel much safer running with him at our nearby park.  It's also a great bonding experience to have with my 15 year old introvert.  It warms my heart knowing that he is enjoying it too.

My husband and I will also be taking long walks/hikes together a couple of times per week which is going to be nice.   He works from home now and our plan to is to head to the trails right after we drop off our kids at their schools.

I'm going to be speeding up my weaning off the shakes, and am on course to be completely off of them in two weeks.  At that time I'll be qualified to transfer into the next Maintenance Class, and will be spending some time building up my metabolism and slowly increasing my calories from the 1000 calorie level (post-shakes).  I'm looking forward to it and believe that this will take me to my goal weight and then I can work up to a maintenance level of calories.  I don't know exactly how it will work, but I'll figure it out with the help of the clinic counselors.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Moving Forward on Getting In Shape

I'm turning the page on my recent eating struggles and have stabilized myself, eating on program.  It feels great to be on program, and it feels great to find success getting myself BACK on program.  I know I sound like a broken record, but short of not making those off-program choices, I believe my future long-term success at maintenance hinges, in part, on being able to recover and get back on track.  I'm concentrating on ditching my "all or nothing" outlook.  As Stuart Smally said in the hilarious movie Stuart Saves His Family (video Prozac for me!)  "It's progress, not perfection."

I've been reading a lot about people who successfully maintain their weight loss, and there are a few strategies that they generally employ:

 - They have a 5-10 pound weight range that they maintain.  When reaching the upper end they watch their diets more closely, and when they go above the range, the employ weight loss measures.  Most weigh themselves at least once a week, if not daily.

-  They experiment to find a calorie range that maintains their weight in that range, neither gaining nor losing.  After their weight loss, they gradually add back in calories in 100-calorie increments until they are stable.  They add a few more if they increase their activity level.

-  Most of them log their food daily to keep track of calories, and a good number mentioned measuring and weighing food to ensure accuracy.

-  They move!  Every day on a regular basis they get some exercise and it is a part of their routine.

Where I Am Today

Since I've started introducing food and I'm feeling more energetic, I made a few positive steps recently that are helping me to keep motivated and moving forward.

- I've started the C25K program (Couch to 5K running app), and have enjoyed including some jogging in my workouts.  It feels great!  My body wants to move!

-  I signed up for the Silver Strand 10 Miler, that will take place in early November.  I plan to run/walk it with my sister, niece and a good friend.  I'm jazzed to be training for this beautiful race that is relatively flat and runs along beautiful Coronado Island.  It will also add some structure and a goal to my workouts.

-  On that note, I just invested in a pair of real running shoes.  I actually went to our local running store, had them do all kinds of tests on my feet and the way I walk, and then they helped me pick out the perfect pair of shoes.  I tried several on and these felt right almost immediately.

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My new beauties - Brooks Ghost 7s
I feel really positive today and excited to move forward, creating a life that will sustain my weight loss and hopefully even lose the last 10 pounds so I can reach my goal.

I also updated my Progress Pictures to document my current weight, since it had been a while.  I noticed the difference in my upper body the most this time.  My neck is elongated and my collar bones are showing.  I've gone from a pants size 26 to a size 8/10 depending on the cut.  I went from a XXL t-shirt to a Medium.

So this is the my update and progress.  I hope all of you are working your programs as well.  Let's not get discouraged with setbacks, but let's move forward and keep making small, positive changes.