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.