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.