Monday Morning Blues

Treble clef bike stand in NashvilleSo, I weighed in this morning expecting at least a pound lost and….no. Nada. Nothing. C’mon!  As long as I’ve been doing this and as many real causes as my mind can give, this still frustrates me, particularly at 5 AM.

I’ve run into this several times during this last couple of years.  Here are some possible culprits:

  1. The fact that I’m a woman in child-bearing years.  Girls, you know what I’m talking about.  Did you know that we can retain as much as nearly five pounds of water? I feel like a camel.
  2. Too much wheat.  My first week at my new job saw me eating about 10 meals of Cheerios and a couple of meals that involved mini bagels.  While my calorie counts were okay, too many of those calories were supplied by wheat.  I don’t know if all the studies are valid; so, I don’t know that wheat causes weight gain.  I just know that, for me, too much wheat makes me feel bloated.
  3. Too much fruit. When I first switched my food choices and when I’ve had to pull myself back onto the wagon, I found that eating a lot of fruit during those first weeks was really helpful with cravings.  I had quite a bit of refined sugar in my diet, which just wreaks havoc with my blood sugar.  To help me stay with healthful food choices, I replaced the refined sugars with fruit, then decreased the amount of fruit to cut overall sugar consumption.  It’s time for me to cut my fruit consumption down to two servings a day.  I’ve seen diet plans that recommend that you not eat apples.  Apples are actually VERY helpful for me.  They are sweet, colorful, crunchy, and full of both fiber and flavor; so, they satisfy my appetite in several ways.  You just have to try it for yourself and see how your body does with them.
  4. No enough exercise.  I have pretty much been wiped out when I get home at night and have not been getting any movement in.  That simply won’t do. For my weight, for my heart, for my muscles, for my bones – I must exercise.

So, what are my solutions and goals for this week?

  1. Nothing much I can do about that whole girl thing but wait it out and drink a lot of water to keep my system flushing.
  2. I have to reduce my wheat intake. This week, I will have no more than two servings of wheat.  I will satisfy my grain requirements with oats, brown rice and quinoa.
  3. I will have no more than two fruit servings per day.
  4. I will get in at least four hours of exercise this week that will include at least five days.

If we are connected on MyFitnessPal, you can hold me accountable for my exercise – and I EXPECT YOU TO! If you don’t see me moving during the week, send me a little nudge.  If we are not connected on MyFitnessPal, why aren’t we? Connect with me and let me know your goals and how you’re doing. Let’s help each other.

The keys to breaking through this stall are:

  1. modify my behavior.  To get different results, I must do different things.
  2. (and this is most important) DO NOT ALLOW OLD, NEGATIVE THINKING PATTERNS TO DEFEAT ME.  

I have been my own worst enemy.  It is long past time I became my own best friend and defender.

Let’s Eat – 1

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.

Breakfast:

  • 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

Morning Snack:

  • 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
Vary your food choices to keep meals interesting
Vary your food choices to keep meals interesting

Lunch:

  • 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
  • 2 cups salad greens, 2 boiled eggs, 2 tbsp shredded carrots, 1/4 cup chopped yellow sweet pepper, 10 grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup cucumbers
  • 10 grape tomates, 3 oz mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, 1 piece Wasa bread
  • 2 cups salad greens, 1/4 cup red bell peppers, 1/4 cup yellow bell peppers, 1/4 cup onion, 1/2 cup black beans, 1 oz shredded cheese, 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 can chicken noodle soup, 1 slice Wasa bread, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
  • 2 tablespoons hummus, 1 cup sliced red bell peppers, 10 baby carrots, 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers

Afternoon Snack:

  • 1 serving mango Noosa yogurt
  • 1 piece Wasa bread, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, 1 tbsp sugar-free jelly
  • 1 medium apple, 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 5 dried dates, 10 almonds
  • 10 baby carrots, 2 tablespoons hummus
  • 1 piece Wasa bread, 1 piece Baby Bel cheese
  • 1 cup dark chocolate almond milk

Dinner:

  • 2 cups spaghetti squash, 1/2 cup Paul Newman’s Sockarooni sauce
  • 4 oz lean beef hamburger patty, raw baby spinach, 1 slice tomato, 1 slice onion
  • 1 cup chopped chicken, 2 cups salad greens, 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, 1/4 onion, 1/4 cup salsa, 1 oz tortilla chips
  • 4 oz baked swai, 1/2 cup tropical fruit salsa, 1 cup steamed asparagus
  • 1 sliced eggplant, 2 tbsp lutenica, 2 oz shredded mozzarella, 1 sliced sweet onion
  • baked chicken breast, 1 cup glazed carrots, 1 cup steamed collards, 1/2 slice bacon, 1 tbsp barbeque sauce
  • 4 oz steak, 1 cup steamed green beans, 1 cup steamed yellow squash

Evening snack:

  • small apple, cinnamon
  • sliced, baked sweet potato, cinnamon
  • 1 cup blueberry Kefir
  • 1 cup grapes, 1 piece light string cheese
  • low-fat microwave popcorn
  • 1 serving Oikos caramel yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 serving Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich

Clean That Plate and Polish Those Bones

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.

Tacoma, WA, food bank
Shelves at the food bank in Tacoma, WA

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.

Nutrition and the Forty Hour Work Week

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.

Clock made wih food

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?

Putting My Back Into It

I have either had or believed I had a weight problem most of my life.  I have lost weight and found it all again; but, most of the time, I’ve just wished I could lose weight or (at least) said that I wanted to.  I haven’t REALLY done much about it other than to lose and gain the same ten pounds about a hundred times.  If there were a Frequent Loser instead of a Biggest Loser, I’d be the Grand Champion!  Several people have asked me what made this difference this time.  What made me stick with it?  What made it work?

I would soooo love to give you some fantastic formula. (Oh, who am I kidding? I’d love to SELL you some fantastic formula!) But I just don’t have one.  The truth is – I don’t know.

Maybe it was realizing that I am approaching menopause when weight loss will be more difficult.  Maybe it was realizing that the health risks associated with obesity weren’t just risks anymore, but were becoming real and showing up in my blood pressure. Maybe it was wanting to meet my grandchildren someday. Maybe it was losing those first 20 pounds so quickly.  Maybe it was some combination.  I don’t know.

Chain GangAs a senior in college, I spoke with a professor when I was thinking about attending law school. “Doty, ” he said, “you’ll fail.  And when you do, you’ll be devastated. You’ll fail not because you’re not smart enough, but because you don’t want it enough.”

He was right.  It wasn’t important enough for me to put my back into it.  I didn’t want it enough to give it everything I had.  I would have failed.  If I had wanted it badly enough, his words wouldn’t have stopped me – but they did.

Maybe, the answer for why the lifestyle change worked this time is just that simple.  Maybe I didn’t want it enough before.

Maybe this time, I wanted comfort, health, and possible grandchildren more than I wanted Phish Food.  Maybe this time I believed it was the worth the effort to save my own life.

Maybe this time, I valued myself enough to put my back into it.

It’s Not MY Butt That’s Dragging!

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.

Me in the hangar
Side shot illustrating how overweight I was.

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!!!

Me at near my goal weight
Near my goal weight

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.

Adult Supervision Required in Aisle Two

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.

Homemade brownie bites
My homemade brownie bites

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.

Thoughts about everything and nothing in an effort to be a better person than I was yesterday.