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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Fragile Transition To Food

Since starting my Progressive Food Encounters (PFE's) I have discovered that my old impulses were only dormant during the fast, and are still present.  I realize that this week was literally the Perfect Storm for triggering old hurts and having old reactions resurface, and it unfortunately landed when I was planning to and really wanted to reintroduce food.  There is nothing like a visit from a relative to touch those long-buried (and in my case, therapied) feelings, and then react to them in old familiar ways.  This week has made me realize how fragile my recovery is, and how I'm going to need to learn to be present with strong emotions in order to stave off my impulses to emotionally eat and binge, which were my old go-to coping mechanisms.

A couple of days ago, after an upsetting family encounter,  I resorted to my old comfort - food.  I was totally off program and nibbled on things leftover in the house.  Little cookies, cheese, bits of leftovers.  I didn't like what I was doing.  Alarm bells were going off.  I decided to stop myself and throw away all the foods that were tempting me. I wasn't happy with myself, but I wanted to move on and start over.

I had a good day after that.  By the book, 3 oz. of chicken and my shakes.  That was great.

Then yesterday I had a good start, but I was ruminating over my frustrations, and last night, I started eating smokehouse almonds.  Three handfuls until I threw the bag away.  Oy.

I felt very sick to my stomach last night, and I'm sure today is going to be intestinally tough.

So here I am writing about it for all the world to see.  Luckily I have my group to go to next week, and a maintenance class to start in the near future.  I'm going to need the support and I realize it.  If I've learned anything in this program, it's that support really helps me.  And writing works for me too.  This blog isn't like Facebook for me (although it has been filled with fun lately)  But it's the good, bad and ugly of this weight loss adventure I'm in the middle of.

Deep down I know that I will grow from this experience, but I am disappointed in how quickly I resorted to my old ways.  Today is a new day, and I will be mindful and take it one meal at a time.

Here are some readings I'm gaining strength and encouragement from today.  These are from the wonderful blog A Weight Loss Journey:

The Language of Letting Go
Accepting Our Best

We don't have to do it any better than we can - ever.

Do our best for the moment, and then let it go. If we have to redo it, we can do our best in another moment, later.

We can never do more or better than we are able to do at the moment. We punish ourselves and make ourselves feel crazy by expecting more than our reasonable best for now.

Striving for excellence is a positive quality.

Striving for perfection is self-defeating.

Did someone tell us or expect us to do or give or be more? Did someone always withhold approval?

There comes a time when we feel we have done our best. When that time comes, let it go.

There are days when our best is less than we hoped for. Let those times go too. Start over tomorrow. Work things through, until our best becomes better.

Empowering and complimenting ourselves will not make us lazy. It will nurture us and enable us to give, do, and be our best.

Today, I will do my best, and then let it go. God, help me stop criticizing myself so I can start appreciating how far I've come.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.


Today's thought from Hazelden is:

Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.

--Edwin Markham

So life has given us some dents. So what? Dents are necessary, besides being unavoidable and painful. Each dent is a part of the process that enables us to embrace life as a creative experience and to see the world in a new way, a way of compassion and understanding. Recovery is not a matter of escaping further blows or of disguising the dents we already have. It's a matter of understanding what the dents mean and how we can work with them.

Dents are neither soft spots in our characters that should make us ashamed nor saber scars that should make us proud. They are simply evidence that we have been alive for a while. Recovery offers us the chance to learn from our dents, to accept them as new spaces for growth. When we decide to see our dents as opportunities gained rather than opportunities lost, we stand much taller in our own eyes and in the eyes of others.

Today, I will look on my difficult life experiences in a new light. Today, I will plant some seeds.

You are reading from the book:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Big Milestones in Two Jam-Packed Fun Weeks

157 lbs - One Hundred Pounds Down

This is one of those blog posts where I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to begin.  I'll start at the beginning.

Recent Events

This was an unusually busy and fun summer for me, and it all culminated in hosting a huge family party and reunion that took place at my house last weekend.  It has been two weeks of company, travelling and keeping everyone in clean sheets and towels and food.

After spending many weeks cleaning and organizing the house, when my sister the birthday girl, came out, it was purely for some pre-party fun.  We traveled by train up the coast of California to go hiking on Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park.

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Hiking on beautiful Anacapa Island

We took the train back down and stopped off in Los Angeles and visited historic Olvera Street as well as Chinatown.

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Looking out onto Olvera Street, eating lunch.

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LA's Chinatown

When we got home, we had planned to do ziplining and stand-up paddleboarding, but circumstances (busted water pipe in my house) and weather (a freak lightening storm in San Diego) got in the way of our plans.  I will look forward to trying these sometime in the future.  But with all the great times, they weren't missed on this trip.

So I managed repair people and we started decorating my backyard with party lights.  Most of the guests started arriving last Thursday.  All beds and couches were occupied at that point, and I really couldn't have been happier to be surrounded by all of my family at once.

On Friday night we had a big bonfire party at a local beach.

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Starting the bonfire at sunset.

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My sister's and brother- all five of us together!

I have four siblings, and all five of us were able to come from different states to be there.  This has been an extraordinary summer since I've had the chance to see each of my siblings  in the last couple of months.  When we are all together in one place, I always feel a magical energy and feeling of belonging to a special group.  Our parents have passed away, so I'm really blessed that we have managed to stay close and even all get together once a year at least.

This party was an extra special celebration.  Five years ago we almost lost my sister Nancy when she suddenly had a complication from surgery.  It was fitting for all of us to gather under happy circumstances to celebrate her 60th birthday this year.

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This is a fraction of what I passed up at this wonderful party!

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Some of the part guest eating up!  I'm wisely behind the camera.

Important Weight and Diet Milestones

Hitting the Century Mark

While all this was going on, I hit the 100 pound weight loss mark.  When I saw 157 on the scale during my first morning weigh-in, I think I was almost too busy to feel the full impact of that milestone.  But it was really cool to quietly share it with my family, and THEY were incredibly excited.  That was a very nice way to celebrate a big weight loss number.  This big party was the first big gathering since my weight loss, so many people were surprised and supportive.   Sometimes it's nice for me to think back to just a few short months ago.  I would ask myself, "Can you imaging losing 100 pounds?"  I know my answer would have been "we'll see". In reality I never believed that I would get my weight down to a more normal level.  It was literally inconceivable to me and such a far-off dream.  This is one of the most gratifying parts of doing this on Optifast.  If you can make the shakes a normal part of nourishing your body every day, you will eventually get there.  I never fought it, I just accepted it, and the people around me accepted it when I didn't eat with them.

Starting Food

I was planning to start my Progressive Food Encounters (PFE's) tomorrow, after the last of my company is gone.  Last night, however, my sister steamed some crab legs and we made a beautiful Caprese salad, and I just decided that I wanted to eat something.  I had a little bit of everything, even a small piece of bread and butter.  This isn't the way the clinic wants us to do it, but I decided that I wanted to eat this meal.  I passed up all the catering and cake at the party, and all the the food preceding the event, and just decided that this would be my first real meal.  I enjoyed it.

So tonight I'll measure out my 3oz of chicken, and begin my PFE's in earnest, and according to plan.  It has been tough being around all the carbs, sweets, and delicious food.  I have already thrown away lots of muffins and chips.  After tonight, when my last sister leaves, we will purge the house completely, except for what we feed the kids for their lunches.  It will feel good to create my new "normal" healthy household food inventory.

On Thursday I'll head back to my meeting just like usual, and I am excited about continuing this program and reaching my weight loss goal eventually.  As of now, if I didn't lose another pound, I think I would feel great, but it would still be nice to reach the normal BMI, so that's what I'm shooting for.  Then there is the lifelong focus on maintaining a normal weight in the midst of hopefully many more celebrations and special times.  I'm taking it one day, one meal at a time for now.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Check-In

Hi everyone.  I'm in the middle of a busy couple of weeks hosting my sister and her 60th birthday party!  We are having so much fun with lots and lots of activity.  I ate 2 bowls of miso soup after long hiking days last weekend (over 17,000 steps, steep hills and heavy backpacks each day), and then splurged on a bit of tortilla soup (sans the tortillas) when we visited the famous Olvera Street in Los Angeles.  It was a taste explosion, but since it was off program, I'm back on track and focusing on getting all my shakes and waters in for the remainder of the week.  I'm finding that it's more important for me to learn to calmly get back to eating well after a splurge than to freak out about eating something.  So that's what I'm doing, and I'm happy to say that this mindset is working for me.

On tap for tomorrow is ziplining at the San Diego Safari Park and on Wednesday we are taking stand-up paddleboarding lessons.  Both are bucket list-vision board items and I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to try them.  The ziplining makes me nervous, but I'm going to do it!!

I'll post pics probably next week after all the guests are gone and I have my house back.  My kids also start school this week so I couldn't be busier.  But I can't complain with all of the fun I've had this summer.  It has been the best possible reward for losing the pounds and I'll never forget it.

I hope all of you are staying keeping up the program and enjoying your healthy adventures!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Busting My Tail For A Big Shindig

I've been mentioning on and off about hosting my sister's 60th birthday party in August.  Well here we are!  I've been crazy busy reorganizing our house, deep cleaning rooms, getting rid of old clothes and toys, throwing out and donating a bunch of stuff.  It will be great for the party, but I'll also enjoy the lasting fruits of my labor.  Starting out the school year with an organized house will be a major score!  My sister lives in Arizona so her first choice of where to have her big party was my place, in beautiful San Diego.  Cooler temps and the beach - you can't beat that!  Three family groups will be staying at my house, and the rest of the family and guests will be staying in area hotels.  All beds and couches will be occupied.

Part of the fun of this particular event is that my sister is coming out early -- like this Wednesday -- and we are going to have some major adventures for her "birthday week".  We'll be taking the train up the coast, and then a ferry to Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands to go for a day hike.  We both have always wanted to go there and I know it will be stunning scenery.  We will need to pack in our food, so I'll be carrying lots of water, a shaker bottle and my shake packets.  This may very well be my last trip while I'm on Optifast shakes.  That sounds GREAT to me because frankly, I'm ready to eat food again.

I've decided that even if I'm not 10 pounds from my goal, I'm going to start the transition to protein and veggies the week after the party.  I'm pushing myself more in my workouts, and really want the extra boost of real food to give me the energy I need to start jogging a bit.  I'm ready, and just know it.  I also understand that I'll continue to lose weight during the transition period, so I'll make it to my goal weight in good time.  I will still have over a month of my normal Optifast class, and then will attend 8 weeks of a maintenance class.  Lots to learn, lots to experience!

Unfortunately, on top of all of this party prep, I'm having a root canal tomorrow.  I will time my shake so that I'll feel as well as I can expect to feel while having a major dental procedure :-(  Ugh.  It can't be fun all the time.  Please send good, calm thoughts.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 32 Weigh-In: The Power of Support

162.5 lbs.

It was nice to be back in my Optifast group tonight, and I came away with an appreciation for how resilient human beings are, and how nice it is to reach out for support and positive energy during tough times.  Many of my group members are in the middle of extremely stressful circumstances, and yet there we were, sitting in our class, carving out time to share our feelings, gain support and validation from group members, and in turn, offer our support and encouragement to those in need. I'm finding that both of those actions - the giving and the receiving - are equally important to the healing process.  

I have often felt uncomfortable asking for help.  I don't know if it was some kind of notion that I would be admitting weakness, or appear vulnerable to others.  The idea of sharing  my struggles and receiving support is not something that comes naturally to me.  But through this process, I have come to realize the strength and understanding that can be developed during the group support process.  I also feel very happy that at times I can validate and encourage others as well.  This process can bring out the best in people.  I have learned to trust, let go of my hang-ups, and humbly receive the support and encouragement from my group as they patiently listen to my challenges.  I also realize that I have things to say and experiences to share that might be of help to them, and that has been a fulfilling experience.

In the past when I have felt stressed out, I would find myself wanting to bail out of group meetings or healthy activities (like exercise) even though I knew they would help me in the long run.  I don't know why at this time in my life, something clicked and I am suddenly carving out this time to care for myself and offer support to others who are walking this same road.  I'm missing many of son's soccer games and putting off chores and gatherings with friends.  But Thursdays have become my sacred time for the purpose of focusing on my relationship with food, and exploring issues with others who are trying to heal as well.  I have never experienced a group process like this one, and I have to say that it has helped me tremendously.

Additionally, starting this blog and writing out my thoughts on this experience has been a big part of my healing.  I've been blessed with the support of readers and other bloggers, and have found tremendous inspiration from others who are writing about their weight loss and maintenance experiences, or logging their activity on MyFitnessPal.  I'm a lurker on many blogs, and their words have inspired and touched me.  I've immersed myself in a complete culture of support, and I can honestly say that I would never have gotten this far without my group and my online community.

I hope all of you are finding the support that you need at this time.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Thoughts on Challenging Old Assumptions

I've been thinking about how through this weight loss process, I have had to be more bold about challenging old assumptions of what I am capable of doing through my choices and through my physical activity.  In this part of the program, the weight loss portion, I've had to stay committed to my eating plan and follow it precisely.  It hasn't been easy, and it forced me to stand out from the crowd, which is something I was never comfortable doing, especially as an obese person.  Not eating or drinking when everyone else is, was very challenging for me when I first began my Optifast program, but I stuck to my guns and followed through on my commitment.

Week after week my body changed very drastically and quickly.  In subtle ways, life became less painful.  I first noticed that my sciatica suddenly vanished, and that I wasn't as stiff when I got out of bed in the morning.  I could bend over and balance on one foot.  Then my Achilles tendinitis started fading away, and I noticed that I could walk farther and faster without pain.  Each of those "feats" were a tiny secret delight.  They helped me to stay committed.

Each of these milestones were a surprise to me.  When I worried about pushing myself too hard while on the shakes, I would be surprised that I felt okay after walking or hiking for a long period of time.  Over time, I'm starting to trust myself enough to push farther and faster when working out.  Each of those challenges brings greater confidence.

I've been also thinking about this process in terms of the next phase of my program, when food will slowly be reintroduced.  I will continue to feel concern about my capabilities to follow through and to develop a new, healthy way of eating.  Fortunately I will still have the support of my clinic, and of my maintenance class.  I'll continue to learn new things, and will examine food triggers in real time, as I live my life among the "eating".  Even today, having not yet achieved my "goal", I do feel like I've achieved more confidence in my ability to make positive choices to support my healthy body.  Just like when I started my program 7 months ago, I didn't know that I could lose weight, I'll need to prove to myself again that I am capable of maintaining a healthy weight. It will be completely new territory for me.

This is what was going through my mind today, and it's part of the learning process as I get to know my new self.