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.