Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I  just took a quick peek at Facebook this morning and found this quote:

This certainly is the case when you've been struggling with weight.  I appreciate the reminder that it isn't just about achieving your weight loss goal, but taking the time to learn about your relationship with food.  This is something I'm still trying to learn 47 years later, but I have never delved as deeply into it as I'm doing during my Optifast program.  It may even take longer, but that's okay.  Like all great teachers, you never forget them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Where the Mind Wanders When The Body Doesn't Eat

I'm going through a phase of thinking about food and about how I'd like to eat when I reach my goal weight and finish transition and maintenance.  I hesitate to dwell on it, because I still have many months of my fast left to go.  But...meat and veggies are looking very, very good to me right now, so I've taken to reading diet-related "groups" on MyFitnessPal.  I'm ashamed to say that I've become a vouyer on those boards, looking at public food diaries for clues about what people are eating to live well and maintain weight.

There is this way of eating called Primal/Paleo that has my attention.  My husband is eating this way right now and has lost about 35 pounds and feels great.  But this type of eating was made for him as he's an avid carnivore and butter enthusiast.  It goes against all the conventional wisdom we were taught about eating.  Eat fatty meats, non-hydrogenated fats (bulk of calories), and non-starchy veggies.  No grains, and for some, no dairy.  I guess we will have an idea of how it's going when he has his next routine blood work done!  It will really mean something, if his cholesterol and lipids are normal.

How crazy is it that I'm even writing about this???  I can't even eat right now!  But somehow, it is helping just to make my inner feelings public.

Optifast is a long journey for me.  I've planted my garden, I've passed on birthday cake, wine, and Easter feasts.  Sometimes, I guess I just need to live vicariously through people who are maintaining their weight and eating food, something I hope to be doing in the near future.  Did anyone else go through this during their Optifast days?

Oh, here's a picture of my happy garden.    Thanks for helping me get through this time.

4 Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes
3 Brandy Boy Tomatoes
1 Kellogg Breakfast Tomato (plus 3 seeds planted)
3 cucumber plants
4 Green Bean plants
3 zucchini plants
Cilantro, Basil and Mint

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Week 17 Weigh In

200.5 lbs.

I can't believe it has been 17 weeks since I started this process.  As we near the end of our 20 week session, our Optifast group is starting to feel a little melancholy.  Many of us are continuing into the next group, but all of us agree that is has been a great journey so far and that we have learned a lot from each other.

I'm excited to be getting close to Onederland at the evening weigh-in!  I had hoped and dreamed of seeing that number by my birthday, which is Saturday.  I'm so happy that I was able to give myself that present.   It's nice to be ending my 46th year as a much healthier person, and I look forward to continuing my good health into the future.  Year 47 is going to be challenging, especially as I transition to food, but I'm up for it and I'll be sure to kick up the gear on fun and adventure pretty soon, as a reward.

I hope all of you are feeling well and following your plans.  I'm rooting for you, too!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Awkward Social Situation Survived

Yesterday we celebrated Easter.  It was a beautiful day here, and we did our family traditions of dyeing eggs and holding an Easter Egg Hunt.  Luckily we were invited to a very nice Easter lunch party a the home of friends, so I didn't have to cook a major sit-down meal for my little family.  Earlier in the week I was feeling a little guilty that I hadn't thought about buying food and feeding my family, who have to actually eat!  What I didn't realize about this gathering was that it was actually a sit-down meal instead of a pot luck.  This was tricky for me!  Potlucks are easy- I can slide from group to group with a beverage in hand and go relatively unnoticed about whether I've eaten or not.  This time, I had a place at the table.  Oh boy.  So I saw no other choice but to fix a small plate of food -- mostly veggies and sides (I didn't want to be wasteful) that I could scoot around my plate and pretend to eat.  It was very scary for me, but I managed to keep up conversation, scoot food around my plate, wipe my mouth on a napkin every now and then and pretend to eat.  When someone got up for seconds, I got up and threw my plate away and went to check on the kids.  This was the closest call with food that I've encountered so far.

When dessert was served, later in the afternoon, I did tell the host's mother that I had just lost over 55 pounds and as wonderful as it looked, I would have to pass.  Weeellll, that brought on lots of questions about how I was losing it and how much I had left to lose.  This was the matriarch of the host's family, and she was being my mama too.  They were very sweet and encouraging, but it was uncomfortable to talk about it with so many people.  I didn't go into details about Optifast, since that often brings up criticism.  I told them it was a strict plan through my doctor's office.  Anyway, I was able to get through it.

It feels very good to have lost this weight.  I bought a really cute dress at Target that I was able to wear, with a sweater over it.  It was my first Easter dress in 20 years, and that felt wonderful!

So there you go, one crazy social situation managed, one positive weight loss milestone experienced.   All in all, things worked out okay.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Week 16 Weigh-In: Facing Life Without a Food Crutch

202.5 lbs.

This week is filled with happy milestones as well as familiar challenges.  Starting with the happy, I have to take a moment to appreciate the feeling of accomplishment at achieving a weight loss that I never thought possible.  Nine months ago, I didn't posses any hope that I could ever lose weight, and I didn't think I had the will and strength to take on such a big task.  Something changed within me and it was the awareness that I was slowly killing myself with food, apathy and inactivity.  And with the inability to do the things that I enjoy in life, I just felt even more hopeless and sad.

When I met someone who had had the vertical sleeve weight loss surgery, I felt a spark that maybe there was hope for me.  I started doing research and after lots of discussion with my nurse practitioner at the Kaiser Positive Choices Clinic, I decided to try the Optifast program first.  It has turned out to be a very thought-provoking and deep experience for me so far.  Our classes are delving deeply into family issues and triggers that have led me to overeat in my life.  I'm thankful for this opportunity to explore my issues with food.

In the past I would have coped with stressful situations by running to the fridge for comfort, and opening a bottle of wine.  Now I'm doing it without food or drink, and I'm not seeing how any of those past behaviors helped me feel any better.  It only did my body in.  This time, I'm walking through challenges and making a decision to embrace my health and the hope of more joyful life experiences.

I'm not saying that I have found the right answer or way of dealing with stressful situations, but so far it feels right to me.  Most importantly the more that I say "no" to unhealthy food behaviors the more natural it will begin to feel (I hope).

My First Glimpse of Onederland!

Even though my blog weight comes from my Optifast weigh-in (tonight), I just had to share my elation when I stepped on the scale this morning (undies only, of course) and saw the most beautiful number:  199.8 lbs.  The last time I was at this weight was before I became pregnant with my first son in 1998!

I have to say that the last time I saw this weight, I wasn't happy.  I was at the doorstep of 200 lbs., and a frantic burn-out of Weight Watchers (exchanges, not points), Nutri System (in the clinic), Slim Fast (powder, of course).  Susan Powter (remember the screaming woman with short spiky hair?) was on the tube screaming that I could eat a laundry basket full of bread and as long as I didn't put butter on them, I would still lose weight - Fat Makes You Fat!  Richard Simmons was Sweatin' to the Oldies and Dealing A Meal.  Those were the days, my friend.

But here I am today, older and hopefully wiser. Happy as I can be to see a "1" in the first digit, if only for a fleeting moment.  In this moment I am very thankful that I didn't give up and decide to quit trying to lose weight.  I tried many more programs after the ones listed above, and I can't predict that what I'm doing now is going to last forever.  The point is, I only know this moment in time, and I'm going to take a second to smile, thank God, and feel hopeful.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Week 15 Weigh-In

207.5 lbs.

I'm getting very, very close to a big milestone -- the big 50 pound mark!  As the weeks go by I struggle with myself not to project how long I will be fasting.  In the present moment, I love the progress, and I'm finally getting to have some fun, positive weight loss benefits. I haven't been this weight since before I was pregnant with my first child, over 15 years ago!  But the first 20 weeks is a long time, and I know I will have several more weeks on top of that.  Truthfully, it isn't that I'm sick of the shakes, or mourning the joy of eating a great meal (or drinking a wonderful glass of wine).  At this point, I'm just so excited, that I want to reach my goal weight overnight.  But I need to step back and not be so selfish.  My Optifast experience has been so much more that quick weight loss.  I have learned, and am still learning things about myself and about eating that I hope will help me know how to stave off the impulse to eat for reasons other than hunger.

I'm making sacrifices to do this program as well.  I missed my son's first soccer goal and subsequent three.  Most of his games are at the time of my Optifast meeting.  But I also experience the joy of him kidding me about being able to touch his hands when he gives me a hug.  We are going to have so much fun, and actually we ARE having much more fun.  All those little brushes with fun that I've posted about - the trampolining, the beach, etc. are just the beginning, and I'm going to start stepping up the pace on trying new things and spreading the joy around as I go along.  Why weight?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Progress updates!

I've been feeling really light lately.  Light in my spirit, and physically lighter.  I've lost almost 50 pounds so far, and there are a couple of really nice new experiences that I thought I'd share.
  • When I put on my older shirts, they feel heavier, and I notice how they drape loosely on me.  I love it :-)
  • I have happily retired several items of clothing and I look forward to donating them.
  • I am officially in a size where I can buy clothes in most stores!  I don't have to look in the plus size section anymore, and shopping has become a completely new experience.  I used to only shop when one of my standard clothing items wore out.  I had some basic professional clothing that I had been wearing for the past 7 years.  Now I am starting to LOVE venturing into clothing stores just to see what clothes look like on my newly shaped body.
  • I can stretch farther and in new ways when I'm in my water aerobics class.  The "junk in my trunk" prevented me from reaching behind my back to stretch, and this week I was able to do it for the first time.  
  • People are noticing, especially my hubby :-)  I have inspired him to focus on his diet and exercise so we are changing together.  I hadn't posted a picture on Facebook in a while, and when I posted this one, someone commented on my weight loss.  It was really wonderful!

    Displaying photo.JPG
    My great-nephew and I are comfy in our chair.
  • In the picture above, I was sitting on one of those resin Adirondack chairs.  Normally, it would be quite wobbley and a tight fit.  I felt very comfortable in this chair and it was such a relief not to feel that stress about fitting or causing it to collapse.  Freedom!
I've updated my Progress in Pictures, though I think it shows only gradual progress, and I have to admit, that I'm terrible at adding slides to this post.  I'm trying not to distort the original picture, but they aren't perfect - as I try to make all the mug shots look similar. I will probably opt for more "real" shots in the future.

I hope all of you are feeling the lightness of Spring (or energy of Fall in the case of those readers south of the equator) wherever you are on your weight loss journey.  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Week 14 Weigh-In: Forgiveness

210 lbs.

This week's class was very meaningful to me.  We discussed forgiveness, of ourselves and others.  Many of us, myself included, live with deep regrets or hurts that fuel the need to eat the bad feelings away.  We have current or past hurts or feelings of embarrassment that we continue to carry with us and keep resurfacing at various times in our lives.

I'd like to say that most of the regrets that I carry around with me are profound or were life-changing, but I think it wouldn't necessarily be accurate.  Some of the anxieties and regrets that resurface for me are small, petty things that every normal person feels or does.  They are common mistakes of humanity that I have assigned too much importance to, and that I don't let go of.  On some level I am conscious of them.  There have been times in my life that I have cleared a few away when I noticed people whom I respect, make the same mistakes.  For some reason, it is then that I was able to forgive myself for doing those same things.

Hearing our group's discussions on these experiences, I finally realized that I am taking myself and my actions much too seriously.  Yes, if I hurt others, I should make amends as soon as I realize it.  But if I am continually beating myself up for making a choice that I no longer agree with, then I am living with the impossible expectation that I can make the right decision at all times.   That is crazy!

Our group leader used Oprah's definition of forgiveness. "Forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different."  She went on to say that if we could have made a different decision, we would have.  We made the best decision we could at that moment in time, given all of the variables of our lives.

It is fair to look back at the past and learn from the choices we make, and strategize how we might do it differently in the future.  But we have to let go of the judgement surrounding that choice.  If we are harboring hurt or anger towards another person, it is okay to re-examine that relationship and either forgive the person, or forgive ourselves for letting that person's actions continue to haunt our lives.  This conversation was difficult, and of course everyone's problems weren't solved in that instant.  In fact, I'm not sure I'm doing it justice in this blog.  But I found it to be very helpful to think about as I hope to lessen the number of triggers for emotional eating in the future.

One of my fellow group members said something that resonated with me.  "Making this commitment to fast, lose weight and get healthy is an act of forgiving myself for letting myself get this heavy and unhealthy."  This program is a long and contemplative one for most of us.  Caring for ourselves is an act of forgiveness and love.  I guess I needed to hear that.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Observations of the Eating Habits of Fit People in the Wild

Since beginning my fast in early January, I've had a lot of time on my hands to watch people eat.  I've sat with people at restaurants, happy hours, family gatherings and house dinner parties.  It has been very interesting to observe what and how "normal" weight people eat.  Here are a few observations:

  • My friends who do not have weight problems seem to eat little snacks throughout the day, and do not particularly eat large portions at a meal.  One of my colleagues whips out hummus and veggies at 10am, or eats some sort of small snack in the morning.  She then has lunch and fruit for a snack later.
  • They bring water bottles with them EVERYWHERE and drink water all day
  • The healthy eaters are making healthy choices most of the time.  I watch what they bring in for lunch, and many times it is a salad.  Sometimes, it is a healthy leftover from dinner.  They aren't angels -- I've been with them at happy hour, and they eat cheese and meat and more decadent   choices - but they are small portions.
  • Many of my colleagues shy away from refined carbohydrates, and tend to go with meat and vegetable choices.  They leave most of the rice on their plates.  I can understand this as the arguments against simple carbohydrates become more mainstream.
  • They are not compelled to eat what is in front of them - such as a basket of chips, an appetizer or cookies
Happy, healthy choices.
As someone with a food addiction, I can see where I might have a difficult time with adopting some of these lifestyle habits, while others I feel are completely within reason.  Here's what I think I can do, with some practice:
  • Optifast (and Medifast for that matter) taught me the wisdom of eating every three hours.  I feel terrific with this steady level of blood sugar.  I will have to see what will be best for the between-meal snacks -- perhaps a protein shake or other protein-rich snack.  Personally, I think I will avoid anything with sugar or carbohydrates as I know that it has a biochemical affect on me and often leads to cravings.  I'm going to have to test fruit with this in mind.
  • I love my water bottles now, and I don't see myself changing that habit!
  • I will aim to eat well 90% of the time, and record my meals on MyFitnessPal.  Given my past tendency to eat mindlessly, I think that logging foods will keep me accountable, and even when I splurge on wine or something special to eat, I will have evidence of my regular good choices, and will be less likely to "fall off the wagon" with a bad bout of eating too much of the wrong things
  • I will keep the mental image of myself as a thinner person saying "no" when I want to grab one more stuffed mushroom or tortilla chip (didn't I agree to give chips up anyway??)  I admire my friends who can chat away without thinking about the food in front of them.  I have become one of those people now that I'm on Optifast.  I would love to continue to be able to do this when I resume eating, but it may be a struggle based on past experience.  At least I've proven to myself that I'm capable of making healthy choices and pushing back on my cravings - yay Optifast program!  
  • Given the huge portion sizes served in the United States, I will count on only eating half of what is served to me in a restaurant and taking the rest home.  Some people ask the waiter for smaller portions when they order.  I don't know anyone who has actually tried this.  Have any of you ever done this?
  • I've given a lot of thought to the way I'd like to eat when I return to food.  My verdict is that a diet low in simple carbohydrates will probably make me feel better and lead to fewer cravings.
A girl has to do something while she sits around sipping her tea!  Even though I dearly miss the social experience of eating, I'm still content with drinking shakes and watching my body shrink.  I have a long way to go, but hopefully when the time comes to eat, I will be stronger for having had this prolonged experience without eating solid food and observing and learning from the habits of the healthy.