Friday, February 27, 2015

Diet Hardball and Happy Hiking

During the past few days I have slowly gotten my groove back.  I am in the process of getting back into ketosis, and getting my workouts in.  I'm trying to approach this with a spirit of enthusiasm.

There have been a number of positive influences on me in the past week.  A number of my blogger friends have posted about food addiction and eating.  Here is a great post by my friend Wendy at Fitter At Fourtyish "A New Dietary Paradigm", and one from Gwen at The Sunny Coconut "My Observations on Deprivation in Maintenance." 

Wendy reported on a recent Low Carb/High Fat Summit held in Cape Town, South Africa this week.  Scientists and physicians from all over the world met to discuss their new findings and issue a call for further research on a LCHF diet to treat obesity.  Yes!  I think the research is starting to trickle in and it looks promising.  It is a nice read if you get the chance.

Gwen took the time to address the reality that for some, moderation just isn't going to work.  For many of us, myself included, we just can't eat certain foods that are triggers for our food addiction.  This is something that I've been giving serious self-reflection time to.  I know in my heart, at this time, that there are certain foods that trigger a flood of overeating.  Foods that I keep going back to.  I liked Gwen's "put your big kid pants on" approach to making food choices.  Ultimately we are all responsible for making the choices that we we know to be the most healthy for us.  Sometimes those choices are hard, but that's life.

I gave some thought to both of those issues.  I know that by and large, I need to decrease my carbs.  Bread, peanut butter and cereal are trigger foods for me.  I want them, and when I eat them, I can't stop myself.  It is a scientific fact that carbs, especially refined carbs, cause insulin spikes that lead to weight gain.  Barbara Berkeley, in her book "Refuse to Regain"  saw this time and again with her formerly obese patients.  A body that has lost lots of weight wants to regain that weight and is very receptive to insulin spikes.  So I have to put my big girl pants on, and if I love living a healthy, active, slim life, I need to abstain from certain foods. It is what it is, even though I might go through times trying to justify "trying moderation".  Nope, I can't do that, and really, it's not the end of the world.  It's not like I won't find other wonderful foods to enjoy in my life.  As many have said, the longer you live without something, the less you want it.  I look forward to feeling that way, but I'm in the withdrawal phase right now.  Another great blogger who has a steel spine when it comes to abstinence is Karen at Garden Girl.  She just finished two interesting posts on food addiction.  You should take a peek at her story if you need to bolster your resolve.

Sometimes when I'm feeling low and out of control with regard to my diet, I watch "My 600 Pound Life."  This week I watched an episode (while jogging in place to get some exercise - LOL), and watched in admiration when someone with unimaginable obstacles managed to own up to the fact that they are going to have strong cravings for foods, but they just won't be able to eat them anymore.  Some of the people featured on that show achieve, in my mind, miraculous life changes - not just physical, but emotional.

Sometime though, there are people who have such deeply entrenched denial that they have convinced themselves that they aren't overeating, and are surprised at why they can't lose weight.  I recognize that behavior in me sometimes.  Since I began this journey, I have been better able to call myself on that bullshit.  It's a hopeful sign when I can own up to my behavioral resistance, and forgive and move on in a more positive but firm mindset. In the past, I'd spend far too much time feeling shame, and getting stuck in those behaviors.

So those are my ramblings about my diet these days.  You are a saint for reading this far.

Now on to exercise.

I am blessed to live in a mild climate, so while much of the country is socked in with snow, I've been able to exercise outside.  I've had several lovely hikes that really blew me away.  They were TOUGH, but totally worth it.  My hiking buddy, Mary and I try and hit a trail each week.  Here are some photos from two wonderful hikes.

On the way up to the top of Mt. Woodson and Potato Chip Rock.   Steep, straight-up hike that was about 4 miles round trip (due to parking farther away).  But beautiful and totally worth it!

I collect heart-shaped rocks, and found this on the trail.  The pic was taken at the top of Iron Mountain.  A six mile hike with beautiful terrain, wildflowers and vistas.  A great workout, too. 
I've also been strength training and challenging myself on the treadmill at the gym.  I am finally able to run 2 miles without walking.  Yay for progress!  Thank God for kick-ass music lists that literally carry me on my walking/running workouts, and make me feel like some kind of athletic goddess in my own mind.  I love it!

That's all for me.  I'm still in the game and I'll keep you posted about my journey into ketosis.  I'll post my weight next time -- I'm up about 5 pounds, unfortunately.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Exciting Happenings, Celebrations

I'm sorry for my long absence from blogging.  I try and post a couple of times per week, but this past week was a crazy one, with lots to celebrate, and celebrate I did.

My husband recently finished his first novel, and early last week he received a very positive review from Kirkus Review.  The reviewer called it "utterly delightful".  Such wonderful news for someone who was brave enough to send his creative ideas out into the world!  It is a lighthearted political satire about a clown who runs for President of the United States.  It's not a mean spirited political book, but simply a sweet story that happens to cast a humorous spotlight on political discourse in the U.S.  If you are interested in that sort of book, it is being offered for free on Amazon until Tuesday (2/24/15).  Right now is only available as an ebook, but it will be available in other formats in the future.

This was the moment that I downloaded my husband's first novel onto my Kindle, one minute after publication.

In addition to my husband's publishing debut, a dear friend of mine defended her doctoral dissertation last week, and I celebrated with her a couple of times.  It was so nice to share that important moment in her life!

So this is where I return to the focus of my blog.  I celebrated WAY too much over the past several days.  My strategy from today onward is to cut back on calories, drink lots and lots of water, and get vigorous exercise.  I've already logged my foods for today since this strategy is a winner for me.  I tend to stick with it pretty well.

When I was on Optifast, I faced several celebrations where I simply said "no" to food.  So now that I'm eating, why is it so darn difficult???  When will I learn that it's much easier to say "no" to things than to try and burn it off later?

This is what I will be working on.  I know now from experience that after a couple of great days under my belt, I'll be feeling right with my healthy lifestyle again.

I have gotten some great hikes in, and will be doing a nice jog today.  We might be expecting some much needed rain, so I'll take advantage of exercising outside for one more day.

That is the latest with me.  Hope you all are enjoying your weekend!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Today's Tools

Each morning after I've prepared lunches, fed breakfast to my children and had my coffee, I sit down for a few minutes before the mad rush and read a couple of blogs featured on my sidebar.  Off and on by the end of the day I get through most of them.

This morning I am supremely grateful that I read Zen Habits' post on Savor Discipline:  Merge the Interests of your Present and Future Selves.  If you are conscious of the argument taking place inside your mind when you are craving something unhealthy, then this is a good little post to read.  My takeaway was an ah-ha about the many, many future selves that are impacted by my immediate choices.  Leo Babauta beautifully proposes a new way to view your immediate choices, sometimes allowing your present self to enjoy the treat, necessitating your future selves to choose the carrot or healthy option.  Most times, though, we can forego immediate pleasure and seek and find pleasure in the healthy foods that will support a healthy and fit life.  Bingo!  This is what I'm seeking to do more of in my life.  Experiencing the pleasure in a bowl of ripe berries.

When I completed the full fast and was reintroducing food, I can't tell you how much pleasure I felt in eating a beautiful salad, a strawberry, or an avocado.  It was incredible to enjoy chewing and tasting the subtle flavors of these healthy foods.

Truthfully, there have been a couple of times since the fast when the donut looked good, and I had one.  I'll be honest and say that the grease tasted terrible.  My memory of eating donuts was much happier than than the pleasure of the present experience eating it.  It is important to make note of that.  It's just food, after all, and if I can develop new pleasurable memories associated with healthy foods, then I think it will pave the way for a healthier life without feeling like I'm sacrificing anything.   I think those new memories will come from repeated mindful experiences enjoying those foods.  I'll work on it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Facing the Music is Always Good

I want to do a quick check-in after my "turn-around day" yesterday.  It was a great day and I want to share what I learned.

Last night I did my personal "walk of shame" and headed to the center for a Booster meeting.  I listened to my original music playlist, which immediately put my mind in a humble and open place around my weight.  The weigh in was brutal for me (late in the evening, you do the math) but since I had made peace with the increase, I didn't let it get to me.  I felt proud of myself for facing the music.

I was pleasantly surprised by a very meaningful and helpful meeting.  There were just two of us and the leader so we were really able to get to the heart of our anxiety and struggles around eating and maintaining.  The focus of the group was "Simplicity" and we talked about what that word means to us.  She shared the idea of viewing food as a "less is more" proposition, and encouraged us to focus on making beautiful, high quality, healthy choices, displayed creatively.

One of my take aways from the evening was the sense of how important my attitude is in this whole process.  If I am thankful and happy with the beautiful nourishing food before me, then I tend to be satisfied.  I know this about myself, and when I'm in a positive frame of mind about what I'm doing (with anything in life) I am more successful.

When I was on the full fast (treatment phase of this program), I viewed the shakes as a tool to keep me alive and to treat the symptoms of my obesity.  For the longest time, I stayed very true to the program with that positive focus, and it worked very well for me.  When I started thinking about what I was missing, I strayed towards the end.

My personal challenge with this new lifestyle is to keep a positive and thankful view of food.  It is neither the enemy, nor my savior.  It is nourishment, and can be a pleasant experience if I plan it that way.

Interestingly, after my instructor listened to my story and concerns, she picked up right away on how helpful it would be for me to plan out my meals ahead of time.  I know this is a common tool, but she expressed the suggestion as more of a way to plan for good things to eat, even nights out.  Make it a creative, and pleasant experience, and something to look forward to.

So my strategy will be to pre-plan with MyFitnessPal and do this with a positive outlook and look forward to the meals that I have planned.  This worked like a charm yesterday, but today I will do it with a smile on my face, and a grateful heart.

The moral of the story is that good things can happen when I put aside my self-imposed fear and shame and open myself up for help.  Weight is just a number, but ultimately I'm here to learn how to balance food and activity to support a healthy life and weight.  This is the life that I want for my future, so I'm going to keep positively focused on living it each day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Planning to Succeed

173 lbs.

Well, my eating and tracking have been terrible this past week.  I'm done.  I got dressed up to go to a book group last night, and my stomach felt tight, and I didn't like it one bit.  It scared me and put me in a zone of feeling out of control again.

I hate feeling this way.  Last month I didn't make time to go to my Optifast program Booster class.  I'm supposed to go to one each month for a year.  Part of me didn't want to go in because I have to weigh-in.  Big. Red. Flag.  Avoiding a weigh-in is something I've done in the past.

Well, I'm calling myself out on this old, unhealthy behavior and I'm not going to do that again.  I've made such great progress over the past year, so I need to stay strong and stay the course.  Learning how to eat again (and finding the right thing for ME) is going to take some time, and while I'm heavier now than I want to be, I know that if I keep focused on my diet, and keep striving to achieve more with strength and exercise, I will not only stay where I am, but I will get to back where I want to be.  So I've done something to halt this behavior.

I'm owning up to my weight gain and tonight I'm going into the clinic for my first Booster class.  I'll weigh in and probably cringe, but I'll be there and learn something, and get some tools for this challenging time in my life.

I also entered the next six months worth of classes into my phone calendar.

Planning, planning, planning.

I've planned what I want to eat today and entered it into MyFitnessPal.

Back to grain-free, lower carb eating.  Just healthy, beautiful food that I know makes me feel great.  No more nuts or peanut butter "tastes".  These are triggers for me and I can't eat them.  Slowly I'm going to take back the reigns and change the course I'm on.  Time to get tough and get strong.

That's what's going on with me today.  I hope you all are doing well and staying on course with your programs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

New Blog Name and Fresh Look

I mentioned in my last post that I was contemplating changing the name of my blog to better represent my current life experience.  It wasn't easy to find a new and original blog name that describes my life as a person trying to maintain a significant weight loss and build a new life as a fit, healthier gal.  Closer to Fit is what I landed on, after much deliberation.  It reminds me of one of my favorite songs, "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls.

The colors may change every now and then, but the context of this blog will stay the same.  It's just about me, trying to establish a life of healthy balance with food and exercise.  I try and share my honest experiences, even those that are not perfect and on-program.  Writing this blog as been a wonderful part of my adventure in weight loss, and it will continue to be an important tool for me.

I hope that you find it validating, and sometimes interesting.  As always, I'm thrilled to get your comments and have appreciated all those who have supported me for the past year.


P.S.  For those kind souls who have linked to my blog from yours:  The name of this blog might not change automatically in your blog rolls, so if possible, would you manually change it in your layout?  I appreciate your willingness to help me through this transition.