Category Archives: Habits

Good behavior

Commitment Doesn’t Have A Past Tense

Noticeable weight loss
(L) May 2011; (R) March 2012

Neither does accountability; but……..

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.

Who Is That Fat Woman?

Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011
Me and my dad on Memorial Day 2011

I’ve had a weight problem almost all of my life; however, when I saw photos from a family Memorial Day event in 2011, I was surprised to see how big I had gotten.  In my mind, I was around a size 14.  In the real world, I was a size 20 and still going up.  Surprised as I was, I was not motivated to make any kind of real change.

Oh, sure.  I told myself I was dieting and cut out my daily Snickers bar, but that was really it.  You see, that was kind of my life-long pattern.  The Big Diet Lie, as it were.  Don’t look at me like that.  You know you’ve done it, too.  “Oh, no more lasagne for me.  I’m on a diet.”  Meanwhile, back at the ranch, you scarf an entire box of low-fat cookies.  Hey, but they’re low fat.  Stop it. You know you don’t even believe that.

I had lost significant amounts of weight using both The Diet Center program and Nutrisystem when I was in my twenties.  With the Diet Center program, I cooked my own food.  Nutrisystem was just like it is now – super, super easy. I just wasn’t commited enough to myself to keep the weight off with either program.

When I made the decision this time to actually lose weight, I remembered the food list from the Diet Center program. Unfortunately, their store fronts have long gone out of business and the books are no longer in print.  So, I went to abebooks.com (my most favoritest book site) to get a copy of the cookbook and of the program guide.  The books are written by Sybil Ferguson who devised the program for her own health.  I also bought a book called Your Body Knows Best about eating for your blood type, metabolism and heritage.  I combined those two programs and came up with a group of foods that work for me.

The short description of the list is this: lots of fresh fruits & vegetables, no canned foods or premade sauces (they hide all kinds of sugar, sodium and preservatives in canned and jarred food – read the labels, they”ll scare you to death), meat-free Mondays (or just some day of the week), fish one day a week, no more than one diet soft drink a day (down from 6 or 7 cans a day!), and absurd amounts of water.  A daily multi-vitamin ensured that my vitamins and minerals weren’t all flushed out by the copious amounts of water I drank.  I also took flax seed and fish oil supplements to help curb cravings.  My body craves red meat; so, I eat it.  My dad had a calf slaughtered before it got into the meat processing system.  The cuts are leaner from this grass-fed calf (which also hadn’t been treated with all those antibiotics necessary for cattle in stockyards); however, even with fattier cuts, I just counted the calories.  A good piece of roast beef from time to time isn’t going to kill me and if it keeps me from craving worse things, then, in the balance, it’s the best move for me.

I ate three meals and three snacks a day, keeping my mealtimes as routine as possible.  For me, this regular intake of calories kept my blood sugar steady which kept me alert and hunger pang free.   I’ve read that the body often signals the need for fluid by making you feel hungry; so, if I found myself feeling peckish outside of routine meal times, I drank a large glass of water or a cup of hot herbal tea.   If the water trick didn’t work, I brushed my teeth.  That minty feeling often cut off hunger at the pass.

I do not buy sugar free cookies or candies since they actually contain sugar alcohol which, I have discovered, makes me hungry.  For 110 calories, I can have two pieces of sugar free candy and be hungry enough to gnaw off my own fist in 30 minutes, or I can have a large banana and be satisfied for two hours.  For the same reason, I rarely ate pasta or white breads.  Any bread that I ate came from the store bakery, from the farmers’ market or from my own oven.  Since the stuff sold on the shelves takes so long to mold, it scares me.  I’d rather buy from a local baker, pay a little more, put some in the freezer to keep it fresh and know that I’m reducing the preservatives in my diet.

I would estimate that the first 40 to 50 pounds were lost basically to changing food choices and habits.  It was phenomenal!  But, did you notice how an awful lot of those habit descriptions involved the past tense?  Tomorrow, I’ll tell you why.

My New Birthday is July 24

“You’re not leaving here until your blood pressure comes down,” said the nurse practitioner to me at my annual check-up on July 24, 2011.

“I’m sorry…what?” said I.  Then, “You have my attention.”

On that day I knew that it was time for me to make some changes.  I had a job that I loved, but which was extremely stressful and involved crazy long hours.  My idea of exercise was to squat down to get the dip off the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.  I rarely ate breakfast, often missed lunch, then ate like someone was going to steal my food at dinner.  If it didn’t fall off my lap while I was driving or watching TV, then it was a balanced meal.  Family sized bags of chips and pints of Haagen Dazs qualify.  Before a hockey game, it was a Wendy’s Baconator, medium fries, diet coke and maybe a small Frosty.  Any idea how many calories are in that meal?  I certainly didn’t.

I noticed that my Facebook friend Tom was losing weight using the LoseIt!  After my check-up, I investigated the food diary app and decided to see if it would help keep me on track.  What I learned both astonished and embarrassed me.  I started looking up the nutritional value of what I had been eating and was just horrified.  My thoughtless food consumption ranged upwards of 3000 calories on a weekend day.  That one Wendy’s meal alone totes up a big 1390 calories all by itself.  And I’m not even talking about the sodium, trans-fat and cholesterol counts.  I knew that I had to make a massive change.

Now, I need to interject something here: I am not a doctor.  I am not a dietician.  I am not a personal trainer.  I am not formally educated in any way in the fields of diet and exercise.  Before embarking on any diet or exercise program, you should seek the advice of your doctor.  Seriously.

Friends, coworkers, and family have asked me how I did it.  This blog is a way for me to share my experiences, my frustrations, my successes and failures with you.  It is in no way intended to take the place of professional advice; however,  I would love for this to become a community to support healthier choices.  Share your own experiences in the comments.  Let’s use this as a forum to talk about what works, what doesn’t, how we struggle, how we overcome, how we take our lives back one choice at a time.

This isn’t about losing 10 pounds in a week.  It’s about eating a banana rather than a muffin. It’s about eating one cookie rather than ten.  Mostly, it’s about forgiving yourself when you slip and making your next choice a better one.  July 24th isn’t the birthday I came with; but, it’s the one I’ve chosen.  On that day I committed to myself to eat more nutritious foods and to be more active.  It’s a commitment I have to consciously make every single day.

Join me.  Make the commitment to yourself today.  Let’s help each other live healthier lives.