When I first started losing weight, I can’t tell you how many people lamented that they, too, would lose weight if only they could exercise. My thought was that unless you are a quadriplegic, you can. Then, I injured my knee.
I couldn’t exercise in the ways I had been and in the ways I wanted; so, I pretty much just stopped. I pouted, threw a little pity party complete with cake and ice cream….and elastic waistbands until I forgot how I started.
I walked the dogs.
So, you can’t run a marathon. Walk. So, you can’t walk far. Walk a little and build up. You can’t walk fast. Walk slowly. Walk the dogs. Park further from the grocery store door. Eventually, take the stairs instead of the elevator. You don’t have to be able to climb Everest today. It will wait while you work up to it!
I have a friend whose knees are in such hideous shape that even thinking about how they grind and pop makes me shiver. She can swim. She can do leg lifts. She can lift weights with her arms. She can still move.
Remember how when we were children we ran everywhere just because we could? We experienced the joy of movement! Find something that lets you feel that joy again. I felt it yesterday just walking from my office to the nearby grocery store. I felt my muscles waking, stretching, and contracting as they corrected my balance and allowed me to move. Our bodies are truly wondrous machines!
After work, the pups and I went to the park and had a nice, long walk like we used to. We felt the warm sun and the cool breeze. We smelled the perfume of the flowering trees. They spotted a deer and tried to go befriend it (I’m sure that’s what they had in mind). They loved it. I loved it.
It’s a beautiful time of year to start – to remember the joy of moving and the wonder of Spring. It may be a little cliché to say that we should let the season remind us of our own potential, new beginnings and growth; but, why waste a good cliché? Let’s use it! Let’s start again.
I apologize. I meant to publish this yesterday, but awoke with an elephant sitting on my sinuses. That kind of blew the whole day. I’m hoping I got you before you did your shopping for the week.
This week, I’m listing seven breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. I am also listing seven mid-morning, mid-afternoon and evening snacks. I am not going to break it down into meals on any given day at this point and I’m not listing calorie values. My goal this week is to just get the menu put in. As we move along, I’ll add calorie counts to the meals. You can then mix and match to get close to your calorie requirement.
This is extremely important: your calorie requirement may differ from mine. You must meet or get close to your requirement. As I discovered, if you eat too few calories, you do not lose weight. You get tired, cold and grumpy. Nobody likes that. Eat what you need. Adjust amounts of ingredients in these meals to ensure that you are eating enough.
Now, here are some ideas for food for your week.
1 medium egg, whole 2 egg whites, 1/4 cup yellow sweet pepper, 1/4 cup white onion, 2 slices of thin bacon, 1 mini bagel
1 cup of cooked old fashioned oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 small mashed banana
3/4 cup Cheerios, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup unsweetened Vanilla almond milk
1/2 cantaloupe, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
2 whole eggs, 1 slice of thin bacon
1 cup of cooked old fashioned oatmeal, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 diced apple
2 square waffles, 1/2 cup of diced strawberries
1 serving mango Noosa yogurt
1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1 medium apple, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
1 cup grapes, 1 piece light string cheese
1 navel orange, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
1 medium apple, 10 almonds
1/2 cantaloupe, 1/2 cup fat-free cottage cheese
4 oz baked chicken leg quarter, 2 cups steamed kale, 1 cup steamed zucchini, 1 cup steamed yellow squash
3 cups salad greens, 1 cup seedless red grapes, 1 oz brie, 5 crushed almonds, 2 tbsp raspberry vinaigrette
I heard it just yesterday – “All those children starving in Haiti and you’re going to leave that on your plate.” Sister Paula’s variation for us first and second graders was, of course, the starving children in Africa. My grandfather advised us to “polish those bones” when Nanny served chicken. And, at the Doty dinner table, we were encouraged to belong to The Clean Plate Club. How ever you heard it, I’ll bet you were also told to eat all of the food that you took or that was served to you.
Once upon a time, Americans didn’t have refrigerators or the electricity to power them. They had no way to preserve left-overs and, since food was a great deal more scarce then and too valuable to waste, it had to be eaten when served. Fried food was a good thing because it increased the number of calories in a single serving, providing more energy from the same dinner. When my mother was young, she and her brothers picked cotton in Mississippi. Without that energy, it would have difficult for them to survive, much less work the farm. Waste not, want not. Of course that is the right thing now, just like it was then. The problem now, is that our plates are larger, our portion sizes are larger, our food is less natural and more loaded with sugar, salt and other preservatives. We are eating ourselves to death to avoid waste!
When I first started changing my lifestyle, I left food on my plate at restaurants and even at home. Even though doggie bags and Tupperware are options, it was physically painful for me to leave the food there. Like Pavlov’s pooch salivating at the bell, I felt physically ill when I went against my dinnertime conditioning. It’s STILL a struggle and perhaps the source of my compulsion to finish off any open bag of Cheetos. The thing is: it is essential to get over this false stress response. I’ve gone back to eating all the food I’m served in a restaurant. Even if my meal is a salad with no dressing, too much food is still too much food. In the lifestyle change, I halved my food immediately when it was served. I ate half and brought the other half home. I MUST return to that habit. Otherwise, my stomach again looks for massive amounts of food to feel full. The overeating cycle is re-enforced.
The truth that we know is that we all eat too much. No one can break that habit but us. We have to have a Nancy Reagan moment and “just say no” – no quart of salad, no 16 ounce steak, no Man vs Food (in my opinion one of the most disgusting displays of excess on television). We can bring it home. If not, the world won’t stop spinning if we just leave it at the restaurant sometimes.
Yes, we are morally bound to help the starving in Haiti, in Africa, and in our own communities (there are far more of them than we think); but, giving ourselves obesity induced heart-attacks and strokes just ain’t the way to do it.
Until last week, I was unemployed for a few months. During that time, I was shocked to discover how quickly I fell out of rhythm with the rest of the world. It was so simple to go to bed a little later, sleep a little longer, take a quick nap after I got all caught up on Castle, NCIS, Property Brothers and The Mentalist. I was sedentary. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and how much I wanted. I gained weight.
Last week, I started not only a new job, but also a new career. I’ve gone from aviation to financial services and I am loving it. I’m working with a tremendous group of professionals who are constantly training and helping me.
I have also gone from spending most of my time alone to spending at least nine hours a day with other people. I’ve gone from an industry I knew a great deal about to one that is full of new concepts, new laws, new products and new opportunities. At the end of a full day of interacting and learning, I’ve got to admit, I’m exhausted.
I take my lunch and my morning and afternoon snacks to work with me. Those meals are well thought-out and balanced. It’s the others that are falling between the cracks.
I have eaten an embarrassing volume of Cheerios this week. More often than not, both breakfast and dinner have been cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Evening snack is a stick of string cheese. While I’m not killing my calorie count with this, I’m not helping my body. I’m not giving it the fuel it needs to operate efficiently and healthfully. And, isn’t that what this is about? Getting healthy? Giving my body what it needs so that I can live a longer, healthier life? Yep. The last time I checked, that was the ultimate mission.
To help me resolve this nutritional short-fall and to pluck out a bad habit before it takes root, I have been working on a menu for next week. I will share that with you on Saturday. For this menu, I’ll be breaking it down to seven breakfasts, lunches and dinners, as well as 21 snacks. I’m not going to plan them out day by day this time. To get it all really balanced, I’ll have to do that in the future, but if I wait to do anything until I can do that, it’ll be weeks. So, since even baby steps in the right direction are progress, this will be my first baby step: a week’s worth of mix and match meals.
I know that the planning will be very helpful for me and I hope it will be helpful for you, as well. Will it be?
I love hockey. I love going to the games, sitting in the stands, yelling my head off. When the Preds do something great, I jump up and cheer.
When I first started going to games, though, I couldn’t jump up. The armrests blocked my hips. I had to turn sideways a little before I got up. The truth is, that’s embarrassing – realizing that you don’t fit into a seat at an arena.
The last time I flew before my lifestyle change, I realized that I didn’t fit completely in my own airline seat, either. I didn’t have to ask for a seatbelt extension; but, that seatbelt wouldn’t have held much more. I’m sure the person sitting beside me didn’t love sharing their row with me, either. I wasn’t actually IN their seat, but all kinds of encroachment was going on. That’s embarrassing – realizing that you don’t fit into a seat on an airliner.
Those situations were real, tangible demonstrations that I was bigger than I thought I was. If you don’t fit into a seat in a room decorated with finger paintings, you’re in a kindergarten. If you don’t fit into a seat in a lecture hall, you’re in a world of trouble.
Now, let’s fast forward 11 months from my new birthday (July 24). On a gorgeous June Saturday, we went canoeing down the Harpeth River. Winter and Spring had been on the dry side, leaving the river a little low. On several occasions, our canoe dragged the gravel on the bottom of the river. Embarrassed, I shifted my weight each time, trying to wriggle us off the gravel bars. At some point, I realized that my efforts had no effect. Huh. Curious. Then it occurred to me: it wasn’t MY butt that was dragging!
I wanted to sing!!!
I turned to the man I was seeing, a height/weight proportionate tall man, and announced that it wasn’t me! It wasn’t my fault we were dragging! I was thrilled. He thought I was nuts.
You see, he’d never had a big weight problem and he’d never known me at my biggest. He had no idea what it felt like to be truly and deeply embarrassed about his size. But I do. And, perhaps you do, too.
People who have quite literally always fit likely can’t appreciate the wonderful, liberating lightness that comes with not being the one weighing everyone down. But I do. And I know that you can, too.
I have a confession that’s a little embarrassing. I’m 45 years old and I can’t be trusted with a box of Girl Scout cookies.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m an emotional eater. As it happens, I’m also a little compulsive about some things – like finishing things. And by things, I mean boxes of cookies, containers of ice cream, bags of chips more than I mean household chores.
My son doesn’t have these food issues and for that, I am profoundly grateful. He can take a bite or two out of a candy bar and walk away from it. That amazes me. I am compelled to eat the whole thing, then look for more. I don’t know if that’s a compulsion or a sugar addiction. In any case, don’t ask to share my Lion bar. It’s not going to work out for you.
In my profile, I say that I’m a non-smoking smoker. I see myself that way because, although I quit smoking six or so years ago, I smoked for the better part of 20 years. On a really stressful day, I still feel like I could eat an entire pack – aluminum foil and all. However, I choose not to and I make that choice every day. If you’ve done it, you know that quitting smoking is no walk in the park. The thing is, though, you don’t have to smoke to live.
You do have to eat to live. Changing portion sizes, food selections and cooking methods are all well and good. But temptation is still EVERYwhere. I choose not to smoke; so, I can avoid smokey places, cigarette stores, situations where I once would have smoked. I can’t avoid food. And, c’mon, have you seen the snack aisle?! Plus, my dieting doesn’t mean that my son should never have treats. So, what to do?
In theory, I should be able to just NOT eat those cookies. Um, yeah. In reality, I swear they talk to me. “Eat me! I’m right on top of the refrigerator. Look up!” As long as the bag is open, I hear them. Ugh. I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only adult who cannot walk past an open bag of snack mix.
The obvious solution is to stay completely away from temptation. To do that, I’d never walk into a convenient store, Starbucks, or grocery store again. Clearly, that isn’t an option. I CAN just abstain from buying any treats. Ever. For the rest of my life. Again, um, yeah.
The best snack solution is to keep lots of fruit, string cheese, yogurt, nuts and other healthful choices around. And I do that. I also keep 85% dark chocolate in the freezer and unbuttered popcorn in the cabinet.
However, I want to be able to enjoy ice cream, chips, cookies and the rest from time to time. For those snacks, I’ve found a pretty workable solution. I buy single servings and I give away most of what I bake.
Skinny Cow, Edy’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Haagen Dazs all make single serving containers (and, no, I’m not talking about pints). We’ve all seen single serving chip bags as well as cookies at the deli. Skinny Cow also makes low-calorie, single serve chocolate candies. The cost per serving for treats packaged this way is higher, sure. However, my largest concern with the snack issue isn’t my wallet as much as it is the size of the pants that wallet is in.
If you have a fat dog, you’re not getting enough exercise.
Doctors always tell you that to lose weight you have to change your diet AND exercise. Now, let me let you in on something here: I hate to break a sweat. Seriously. Hate. It. I don’t mind so much once I’m sweaty, but crossing that barrier just grosses me out something awful. Plus, I would really rather just sit on the couch. The sitting on the couch routine was killing me; so, it was time to adjust.
The truth is, my Labrador was a little chunky. So, my exercise started with walking my dogs three times a week. I started walking for 30 minutes at a moderate pace. As the days passed, I added distance. Then I added speed until the pups and I were walking 5 miles in 70 minutes. The Lab and I were dragging at the end of that. The Soup Hound was grateful for the warm up. Nobody likes it when one of the party is that perky after such a workout.
I bought some yoga discs that I did at home once or twice a week. I started slipping more accidental exercise – parking further from the door, taking my shopping cart all the way back in the store, that sort of thing – nothing particularly strenuous. Before I hurt my knee, I ran one day a week – 2.5 miles on the last time, I went to kickboxing three times a week, I used yard work as exercise one day a week and I went to the batting cages and driving range one day a week. That day was a light exercise day; but, movement is movement. It counted and it was fun.
As I told you, after I hurt my knee, I went sedentary again. However, I’ve joined one of those 24 gym places now and had my first workout with a trainer. I couldn’t move afterwards. It was discouraging. BUT – I know that as I keep going and keep working, I will see results.
Walking, cycling and using the elliptical machines increase endurance. Sit-ups, push-ups, and planks strengthen core and upper body. Squats strengthen legs and rear. These things will work. I know they do – they did before.
The biggest challenge then – and now – is making myself go. I can find a million reasons why I should do something other than exercise. To be honest, I’m still struggling with that right now as I am more mobile.
You know this without watching Super-Size Me. It is difficult to eat healthfully at restaurants. Their portions are enormous and they augment flavor with sugar, salt and fat. Even healthier restaurant choices come with empty calories in the parmesan garnish on the broccoli or the butter finish on the carrots. Cook it yourself and there won’t be bad or empty things lurking around.
Going to the grocery store is so expensive. Compare it to the dollar menu and you might think so. However, the the dollar menu just doesn’t list your downline expenses of bypass surgery or diabetic supplies. You spend the money on nutritious food now, or you spend it dealing with health issues caused by poor food later. Either way, it’s going to cost you. At least when you spend it on nutritious foods, you get the benefits of feeling better!
Cooking is such a pain and so time consuming. Prepare and freeze chicken, beef , pork and even rice and beans ahead of time. When you’re baking one chicken breast, you might as well bake several and put the extras in the freezer for later. The same thing goes for making a beef, pork, or rice and beans. Cook them in quantity, divide into single servings and freeze. This keeps you from eating the same things day after day, it cuts down on your prep time and decreases the likelihood that you’ll call out for Chinese spare ribs. I usually don’t pre-cook any fish, though, since it takes so little time to cook anyway.
I also like to prepare a large salad (greens only) and put it in a bowl in the fridge. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, whatever, are kept separately so that I can have an all veggie salad one night, but maybe a salad with blackberries, walnuts and brie the next night.
As far as cooked vegetables go, I steam nearly all mine (except root vegetables). Steaming them takes just no time at all. With beets or sweet potatoes, I dice those, put them in the oven and they’re ready in about 20 minutes.
That’s all fine and dandy for lunch and dinner, but what about breakfast? Omelets are nutritious and, when put on some flat bread or rolled into a tortilla, portable. To decrease prep time, become your own sous chef. When you get home from the grocery store, go ahead and chop up those onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, etc. Storing them in separate containers makes them easy to use in either salads or omelets.
I’m also a huge fan of oatmeal – the old fashioned and steel cut kinds, not instant. I’ve seen some crock pot recipes for oatmeal, but mine ended up just over the edge of charred; so, I cook it on the stove. I add chia seeds and flax meal for the Omega-3. I add cinnamon as it cooks, then stir in a mashed banana before I eat it. (The banana has to be mashed to make it as sweet as I like. Slicing it is also tasty, but not nearly as sweet.) When I make one serving, I usually go ahead and make two. I can put the second one in the fridge for the next day.
Here’s the most important thing to remember, though: measure. Make sure you have measuring cups, spoons and a kitchen scale. If you’re like most Americans, you have no clue what a proper serving size looks like and when you’re keeping a food diary like MyFitnessPal or LoseIt, you have to know what you just ate!
You can find it at LoseIt.com and they have a great app for your smart phone. You can log your food and your exercise either online or on your phone; so, there’s no excuse not to get things input. I used their free version which has a few deficits. I don’t know what the features are for their paid version are.
Their food database is extensive with lots of restaurant foods included. I can scan bar codes for a super fast input and can add my own foods and recipes. Since I make my own spaghetti gravy, I have to calculate each ingredient individually, then figure out the nutrients per serving. As long as I make it the same way every time (fat chance), I have to do that only once.
Their exercise database is also pretty extensive and it allows me to add my own, as well. However, the exercise duration times are only in blocks of five minutes. If you’re maintaining your weight or if you are exercising for a couple of hours a day (yikes), fudging a minute or two is no big deal in the larger scheme of things. BUT, when I first started, I could run only a couple of minutes. I could manage only ten or so sit-ups and, by golly, I wanted every drop of sweat to count. This app (at least the free version) didn’t let me account for that.
I’ve played with their free version a little bit, but I’m still not totally familiar with it. Like LoseIt, I can log my information either online or on my phone.
Their food database is also extensive and includes lots of restaurant foods. The one issue I’ve encountered is that there are sometimes duplicate entries for the same item. The duplicate entries may list different nutritional value for the same item. I normally choose the entry with the highest caloric value. Even if my calorie count then ends up artificially high for that day making it look like I ate at least my minimum calories when I didn’t, that error won’t happen every day; so, it’s not like my long-term progress is going to get knocked off track. While LoseIt also tracks carb, protein and fat calories consumed, it doesn’t tell me which categories I’m light and heavy on. MyFitnessPal does and I like that. I like being able to look at my daily summary and see that I need to concentrate on vegetables at my next meal. This app also allows me to add my own recipes so that next time I cook up a big old batch of Peel-a-Pound soup, it’s already in the database.
Their exercise database is also extensive and lets me add my own. The real plus here is that I can count every. single. minute. of exercise. I don’t have to do five minutes of sit-ups, two minutes will count. They won’t count for much, but they will count. As my friend Trish says, “Ounces make pounds.” Calories ingested or burned account for ounces on or off. Each one counts.
Both of these programs allow me to share my exercise and my weight loss (or gain) via Facebook and Twitter. I really like that. My friends and family have been an invaluable cheering section throughout my process. It’s like a group weight loss program stacked with a group of people who already love me. It’s great!!! (By the way, neither site posts your actual weight. I was a little worried about thaton account of I was a big girl.)
I would like to be able to change the caloric value for restaurant foods, but neither application allows me to do that. For instance, if I order a Cobb salad at Chili’s, but I ask them to hold the cheese, croutons and dressing, my salad is going to have fewer calories than the one listed in the database. To get an accurate count, I would need to measure the remaining ingredients and build a recipe, which is just not going to happen sitting there in the dining area. It would be nice if the salad in the database had check boxes underneath for all ingredients. You could check the ones you didn’t eat and the calorie count would adjust accordingly. I’m sure that’s an absurd amount of programing work or maybe their paid versions already let you do that. Hey! If you know, tell me!
Also, if you use, have used or know of another food diary (besides a note pad and pen, please) share it with us!
The big thing with these applications is that they are effective only as long as you use them and are honest with yourself. If you ate two cups of Cheerios rather than the 3/4 cup serving listed, then count that. That fish stick you ate to clean off your child’s plate must show up in your diary. Lying to ourselves and/or being oblivious about what we eat is one of the reasons we can’t zip our pants now!
Together, let’s be honest with and accountable to ourselves in all things. Nobody else has to know ; however, we are worth that attention! Let’s make sure we get it.
All in all, I lost 80 or so pounds with my lifestyle change – from a size 20 to a size 6. I went from eating garbage to eating clean, nutritious foods. I went from feeling like I had sludge in my veins to feeling light, clear and powerful. I went from refrigerator squats to kickboxing three times a week, running, and rock-climbing. Then, life happened.
In July of 2012, I injured my knee. In August, I was laid off. In September, my only child started college across the country, I started a new (more stressful) job, had knee surgery and was told no impact exercise. November was my first Thanksgiving without my son. December was Christmas and resignation from my job. January was job searching and eating. February was job searching and eating. March was studying to pass licensing exams, eating, a totaled car, and the death of a precious aunt. Did you notice that I was heavy on eating, light on exercise of any kind?
My knee was in worse shape than the doctor or I anticipated. As a result, I was unable to do much of anything for six months. I could have gone swimming or used an exercise bike every day; but, I didn’t. Instead, I slipped back into old habits – bad ones.
Here’s the thing: I’m an emotional eater. Stressed? Depressed? Anxious? Pull the chair up to the fridge and eat until you feel better! Happy? Celebrate with some ice cream! Bored? Cheetos are entertaining! Tuesday? Fried chicken makes for a great lunch!
With the life stresses that were weighing me down, I began to hear those negative voices again. (Not literally, for goodness sake. Don’t go reserving me a padded room.) You know the ones I’m talking about – “You can’t do this.” “You messed it all up again.” “You’ll never be anything but fat.” I ate a little more ice cream, drank a little more beer and wore a little more elastic.
Unable to button a skirt, I had to take myself to task.
What would I do if I heard someone telling their child, “You’ll never be anything but fat?” I’d be livid and might just say something. So, if I recognize that sort of talk as unacceptable from one person to another, why don’t I recognize it as unacceptable from one person to self? I have to remind myself every day to be kind to myself in my own thoughts. I CAN do this. If I messed it up again, I just have to TRY again. I have been at a healthy weight and I WILL BE AGAIN.
I have gained about 30 pounds. Enough. I’m not going to beat myself up because I gained some weight back. That’s over and done with. Berating myself for it doesn’t help in any way. What does help is throwing out nutritionally bankrupt foods, raiding the produce department, and taking the dogs for a walk.
My life is still something of a train wreck; however, today, and every single day, I commit to myself. I commit to taking care of my body and my mind with good food, drink and thought choices.
I bring commitment back into the present tense and, with this blog, I bring accountability with it.
Thoughts about everything and nothing in an effort to be a better person than I was yesterday.