Tag Archives: Weight loss

Fencing Fear

foil fencing-001A recent networking function went like they do: socializing, personal introductions, elevator speeches, target referrals, speaker. Jim, the speaker, had some really interesting points to make about fear which got me thinking further.  (By now you know that I’m prone to that kind of thing – taking an idea and running afield with it.)

In the same industry, Jim and I deal with subjects that are less than warm and fuzzy – a lot less.  We talk with people about loss – loss of life, income, and health – the stuff nobody wants to talk about.  Stuff we are afraid to talk about. Afraid to jinx ourselves by even mentioning misfortune lest we summon up that Boogeyman by uttering his name. Afraid to admit that we don’t understand. Afraid that we are not doing it right. Afraid that someone will tell us to change something. Afraid to find out that we are wrong. And, sometimes, afraid to find out that we are right.

We all fear things: failure, success, spiders, change, vulnerability, loss, ridicule, orange food. Okay, that last one may just be Billy Bob Thornton, but the rest of our fears are fairly universal.  We can’t let them dictate our lives; but, that’s a struggle.

I started this blog to talk about losing weight acquired during The Great Regain.  As it happened, I started a new job at the same time and, frankly, the weight loss is not going so great.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and fail publicly.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and disappoint myself and my son. I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back and fail all of you who have been so complimentary and supportive.  I’m terrified that I’m going to gain it all back.  Period.

It seems that every day I start with new resolve and, every day, I let myself get sidetracked by something – muffins at a coffee appointment, M&Ms for lunch, no energy for the gym.  I know what the answers are here.  I’ve done it.  Schedule time for exercise and stick with it. Make your meals beforehand. Fill three-quarters of the plate with vegetables. Plan. Plan. Plan.

Exercise plan. Meal plan. Game plan. Battle plan.  I have to develop and adhere to all four to combat and defeat my fear of losing more ground. I have to go on the offensive to regain the ground I’ve lost. I’ve got to remember that I’m the only one who can do it and that I cannot let up until I’ve reached my goal.

En guarde, y’all!

Apathy Isn’t a City in Greece

Looking back at this week’s posts, you can see that a certain joy is lacking – or at least I can.  This week has been a tough one for me, internally.  I’ve had some things come up that have been major stressors and I would love to tell you that I arose victorious over them, celery stick in hand, running shoes on feet.  Yeah, well, except that didn’t happen.  For breakfast one morning, I had brownie batter.  That’s right, batter. I didn’t even cook it.  I was jonesing for the chocolate so bad, it’s really a wonder that I even put the water, eggs and oil in the mix.

Parthenon at Centennial ParkThe cobwebs of last week’s negativity are still clinging to me a bit and I’m behind in my work.  In this new career, if you get behind a little, you get behind a lot.  I can make it up since I believe in the value proposition of what I do; however, next week, I’m going to have to run three times as fast. I know that I have all that work to look forward to and I know that there is no one to blame but myself.  Don’t you just hate that?!  When you want to get your mad on at someone, but the only person who really deserves it is yourself?

I haven’t cared enough to fight, that’s my real crime.  We talk about it all the time – we fight cravings, we fight laziness, we fight poor decisions.  We do all of these things because we are fighting for ourselves.  I didn’t do that this week.  I let the tide of apathy wash over me carrying with it reruns of NCIS and brownie batter when I should have been fighting that tide with walks and tri-colored carrots.

No, Apathy isn’t a city in Greece and it’s not a cataclysmic force, either.  It is a slowly rising tide – the one that rises so slowly, you don’t realize you’re in over your head until you actually are.  Apathy creeps up on us.  It steals into our diets one snack at a time and into our wardrobes with larger sizes and elastic waists. Apathy is the root of more failure than any other factor and we don’t even notice it.  We have to notice it, though.  We have to remember the end goal and keep working towards it.

I failed this week in a big way; however, because I know that denial isn’t a river in Egypt (Oh, c’mon! Don’t act like you didn’t know that was coming), I have to own these failures, forgive myself for them, and move on.

Satan Invented Sweats, Yoga Pants and Stretch Denim

..and in related news: Tennessee woman buried in clothing avalanche, sizes 6 to 20.

We all know better.  We know that it is physique awareness suicide to wear stretchy pants more than three days running.  After that, you might as well wrap yourself in an elastic muumuu and call it a day.  It is over. So, during my unemployment/knee recovery/eat-a-thon, I stayed away from the sweats and the yoga pants like I should.  I kept on slipping into my blue jeans, thinking that they were an accurate gauge of size during the time which shall be known henceforth as The Great Regain.  Pah!  More the fool me, right?! (Say “yes.”) My trusty denims weren’t denims at all, but were STRETCH denim.  (Gasp in horror.)

messy-closetI’ve heard Oprah say that she has every size in her closet from eight to elastic.  Mine was the same, making my room look more and more like an episode of Hoarders.  That kind of clutter has a deleterious effect on my mood; so, this weekend, I tackled it.  I had a box for clothes to give away, one for winter clothes to go into storage, and one for adorable summer clothes from last year that are a little bit too small.  Actually, I had two of those and some of those clothes are a lot too small.

I tried most everything on until I started berating myself for gaining weight back. The head trash wasn’t doing me any good; so, I adjusted to keep from generating any more of it by not trying on any more, just guesstimating the rest.  I divided the clothes that didn’t fit into two piles – the ten pound pile and the twenty pound pile.  Some things should fit me nicely in ten pounds, others will have to wait twenty.  Regardless, they are all going to have to wait and, in the meantime, I have to be able to breathe; so, they cannot be hanging in my closet looking at me accusingly day after day.  pile of clothesNobody needs that kind of attitude, not even from natural fibers.

The bad news is that I do have clothes that don’t fit.  The good news is that I conquered head trash generation while sorting them and I’m working on getting back into them in a calculated and orderly way:

  1. I have committed to walk 25 miles each week from now until 8.31.13 for the 501st Support Battalion 300 mile challenge.
  2. I have only good, nutrient-rich food in my refrigerator and a menu planned out for the week.
  3. I have a support system in person, on Facebook and here to keep me honest and on track.

Exercise, diet and support – the three keys and they’re all right there.  By the end of June, I’ll be into the clothes in the Ten Pound Box and by the end of July, I’ll be in the Twenty Pound Box.  I just have to keep my eye on the prize, my head in the game, and my rear out of Satan’s fabrics.

Food Diary Gong Show

gongsh2Well, friends, I’m going to keep the MyFitnessPal weight loss counter on the site because LoseIt doesn’t offer one; however, I just don’t like the site for logging food and exercise.  I am going back to LoseIt for my daily logging.

My chief complaint with MyFitnessPal is this nutritional information anarchy that seems to be going on. When a user submits a new food for the LoseIt food database, the proposed item doesn’t immediately go in.  Apparently, someone is checking it.  Conversely, on the MyFitnessPal site, anyone can insert anything in the database.  Other users then give it a thumbs up or down for accuracy.  Ummmmm.

See, here’s the thing: I could insert information for a hot fudge cake and give it a total calorie count of 100 per 3 pound serving.  I could then get 20 friends to go in and give that posting a giant thumbs up.  So, I’ve entered information that, while wildly popular, is totally delusional.

I am way too OCD (or CDO) for that.  I need information whose accuracy I can reasonably trust.  For my tastes, MyFitnessPal loses me.


Corning’s Loss, Our Gain

This is the United States where eating out is a national pastime. When I was growing up, there were only a couple of places in Brookhaven open for breakfast – Kerns Cafe and Brown’s Cafe (neither of which exist anymore).  The Round Table and Dog N Suds were open at lunch.  The Dog N Suds was also open for dinner. Sometimes, we would drive to Hazelhust to have dinner at Max’s or over to Georgetown for fried catfish at Al’s Fish Camp.  I think we might have had a Kentucky Fried Chicken in those days, as well.  But, you get the picture.  We ate out infrequently and had few choices when we did.  Now, I have a choice between Backyard Burger, fried chicken, eggrolls and Dunkin Donuts all at a single truck stop in the middle of nowhere!

corning casserole dishMarketing students hear how Corning Glass nearly failed because it didn’t see that Americans weren’t cooking at home anymore.  My grandmother and my mother both had complete sets of Corning casserole dishes.  You know the ones I’m talking about – white with either white flowers or vegetables on the side and that heavy, heavy glass lid.  Every pot luck, church dinner, holiday meal, supper club and family get-together saw tables laden with them. Check your cabinets. Do you have any of them?  I don’t.

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we cook less but are fatter than ever.

I’ve talked before about cooking and how cooking your own food is vital to weight loss success and a healthier body.  I am convinced that this is true.  Hidden sugar, salt, and god-knows-what make us gain weight and retain water.  They subject us to cravings.  They alter our body chemistries in ways we don’t even understand.

Friends encouraged me to start this blog because while Valerie Bertinelli and Oprah Winfrey can lose weight and look great, most of us do not have personal trainers, chefs or life coaches on speed dial.  Pre-packaged diets are successful because we don’t have time to plan.  We don’t know what to plan.  We just don’t know where to start.

I am coming to believe that a great part of my earlier success was that I was working from home.  Planning nutritious, balanced meals was much easier then than it is for me now and, frankly, I’m not doing all that great a job of it yet.  However, this weekend, I began to take my personal life back in hand.  I am a creature of habit, a person of routine.  I am still developing one that contains time for housework, laundry, exercise, meal planning and preparation, work time and networking time.  Oh, and sleep.  Sleep would be good, too.  While I’m nowhere near done, I made significant progress this weekend and that feels good.

I would love it, though, if you would continue to share what works for you!

Odds Are…..

As I’ve said, after about 18 months of working from my home, I have recently begun working in an office again and in the field of financial services.  Yesterday I heard that only about one person in one hundred who starts a career in financial services sticks with it.  I have no reason to question the source; so, I’m going to assume that he’s right – that he thinks that the odds are not in my favor.  But, the odds are always in the house’s favor, right?  Well, what that man doesn’t know is that in many respects, I’m pretty sure I’m the house.  Here’s why:

  • As an infant, I had a heart murmur.  My parents were told I would not live past age two.  I’m significantly past that now.
  • I did a boatload of really stupid things in college and I’m still here.
  • I am the single income, single mother of an at-risk son who is choosing to become a man that ANY mother would be thrilled to call her own.
  • I survived Katrina, though I lost nearly everything.
  • I triumph over a chronic illness (most of the time).
  • I’ve been technically homeless and unemployed twice.  Thanks to the love, support and generosity of my family, I’ve always had a roof over my head and food on my plate.
  • I’ve successfully quit smoking.
  • As a middle-aged woman, I’ve lost a great deal of weight and am doing a decent job of keeping it off and removing those few creeper pounds.

Although I often grouse, complain and pout, I survive and I thrive.

But, I’m going to let you in on a little secret here….come closer and tell no one: in spite of what I’ve been trying to convince friends of for years, I’m not all that special. Shhhhhh.  One more outburst like that and I’ll clear the courtroom! (Big Perry Mason fan.  Always wanted to say that.)

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I mean is: I didn’t win some mysterious, cosmic lottery.  I don’t know the answer to life’s great mystery (other than 42, of course). I don’t have the market on gumption cornered.  Sure, I’ve got my share of piss and vinegar (inherited from my mother who had enough for four people); but, I’ve got no super powers.  All of these things that I’ve done, others can do.  I did it with grit and with the support and encouragement of friends and family. Remember yesterday?  Believe.  Believe it and want it.

I struggle and I lose faith in myself on a regular basis, but the trick is (I think) to believe more often than disbelieve. And for those days when you can’t swing your focus back around to believing, have a support system that will help you.

In this new job, in losing these creeper pounds, in relationships, in all things – if the odds are in the house’s favor, then let’s make sure we’re the House.

It’s Just a Number….Right?

I’m both frustrated and elated this morning.  Frustrated because the number on the scale hasn’t moved in a few days.  Elated because my jeans have room in the waist, thighs and rear.  My number may not be decreasing, but my size is.

feather on scalesI’ve always said that I could weigh 300 pounds, as long as I’m a size 6 or 8, I don’t care.  I have a confession.  That is a lie.  100% untrue.  Blatant falsehood.  I’m surprised I haven’t been stuck dead when I’ve said it.  I want to be able to cheerfully chirp “120, fiddle-dee-dee” while batting my eyelashes and fanning myself when someone asks me what I weigh.  The truth is that I probably wouldn’t weight 120 pounds if I were mummified.

I love to swim. I learned when I was two and have been a fish pretty much ever since.  The thing about swimming is this: fat floats.  At my largest, I floated some 3 cm above the water.  At 15 pounds over my goal weight, I went swimming for the first time in years.  I got in the water and did what I always did – went under and pushed off the side.  When I rose to the top, I began to do the front crawl.  The problem was that I didn’t rise to the top.  I stayed level.  Underwater.  Well, that was new.  At that time, I weighed 160 pounds….hardly petite.

I have to face facts – my body is not built to have a healthy weight of 120.  At 140, I was actually a little too thin.  Regardless of what the BMI says (and I’m told that people who really know don’t use that anymore), my body is best at 145 to 150.  I have a medium bone structure with athletic musculature, if not grace, talent or coordination. I know that I can no more change that than I can change the color of the sky, still, a part of me is wistful.

My jeans are looser and I’ll be back in my cute clothes within a month or so.  I can’t let the bathroom tyrant ruin my day, my thinking or my behavior.  Remind me of that later, will you?

Get Thee Behind Me, Little Debbie

We had another lunch training session at work yesterday and after The Foolish Cookie Incident, I actually started being a little concerned about the boxed lunches a whole 24 hours prior. I was worried about losing another dual to a baked good.

Boxed lunches arrived and I had a great sliced turkey sandwich.  I ditched the top piece of bread and enjoyed it open-faced.  The chip bags were the big single servings (you know – the ones that aren’t really single servings); so, I ate a quarter of those.  The fruit cup was great.  The pasta salad looked good, but I chose not to eat bread and pasta at the same meal.  So far, so good.  Enter the brownie.

The Brownie.  Four square inches of moist, chocolaty wonder, liberally dusted with white chocolate shavings.  If you’re quiet, you can hear the angels sing.

During my Monday Menu Musings, I had explained my problem with the cookie to a coworker.  I just didn’t know if I could face another one down.  At high noon in the bakery, I’m pretty sure that chocolate walnut disc was going to be the faster draw.  That’s when this Great American Woman stepped in and offered to take the bullet for me.

Appearing to be very athletic and fit, she offered, nay, she demanded that I give the cookie to her.  That kind of sacrifice just brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?  Such a sweet woman!  Of course, I must hate her on principle because she’s beautiful and can still fit into her clothes after eating 440 calorie cookies, but she’s still sweet.

Little Debbie nutty barsTemptation is everywhere, all day, all the time, smiling at us from the snack shelf wearing a Nannette Fabray grin and a cowgirl hat.  We can’t get rid of it; so, we have to find effective ways of dealing with it.  After opening the lunch box, I put the brownie behind the lid so that I couldn’t see it.  I left it out of sight until I could run out of there to give it to Rene. At an event last night, I stood with my back to the M&Ms on an exhibitor’s table.  Although out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind, it does make it easier. Having healthful alternatives close to hand is also good.

I’m not trying to tell you that some hummus and baby carrots are better than an oatmeal creme pie because that would just be crazy talk; however, I am telling you that we don’t have to let Swiss cake rolls determine our fates.  Although I ate an oatmeal raisin cookie at that event, it was my only gastronomic sin of the day. At worst, the net effect of that cookie was break even.

And, sometimes, that’s good enough.

From The Black Knight to Varuca Salt

What a weekend!  I had planned to be at a family gathering; however, about five hours after lunch on Friday, I became violently ill.  The abrupt and violent onset of symptoms, as well as the timing, lead me to believe that I might have had some kind of microscopic hitchhiker on my lunch of salad greens, raspberries and slivered almonds.  Whatever the cause, I was effectively down for the count until yesterday, at which point, my appetite became Varuca Salt.

This happened a couple of times during my first big reduction.  I would have these cravings that made me feel almost panicky.  And what did I crave?  Red meat, the greasier, the better.  Bratwurst cured the cravings both times.  Yesterday, a small burger made from ground chicken and feta did the trick.

Our bodies will often tell us what they need, I think.  Sometimes we call it “having a taste for” something.  Sometimes we call it a craving.  Whatever we call it, I believe it is direct communication from our bodies addressing some deficiency. The communication I got yesterday was urgent – cellular Varuca Salt screaming, “I want it now!”

While we can’t be at the mercy of cravings, we certainly have to address them because they just don’t go away.  From time to time, my body will tell me that it needs Cheetos.  I’m pretty sure it’s lying to me. Still, I have to address the craving before it becomes a monster.  More often than not, some salted nuts will do the trick.  My body just wanted something salty and it asked for what it prefers: Cheetos – the puffy kind.  But, in a pinch, it will take the mixed nuts.

Ice cream cravings can be addressed with a container of yogurt put into the freezer or even a frozen banana.  Chocolate cravings can be annihilated with a small piece of dark chocolate or even an apple.  It depends on if my body wants the chocolate or the sugar.

veruca-salt-2On occasion, though, cravings have fangs.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  I try all the healthful alternatives, but my body just giggles and says, “Nice try, chica. Now, hustle on down to the store and get me some M & Ms.  Chop! Chop!”  So, I hustle on down to the store.

Here’s where the individual servings come in REALLY handy.  I can get a small bag of M & Ms and that will quiet the craving.  I don’t have to get the King Size or the Front End Loader Size.  The regular one is good.  A single serving of a quality ice cream works.  I find that those tiny Haagen Dazs work better than the same size of some other brands since the ice cream is both richer and denser.  Once I enjoy the single serving, I’m good to go.

The body wants what it wants.  I just don’t always know exactly what it’s asking for when it makes its demands. Still, I can address the needs without becoming a slave to the cravings, creating further ones with sugar crashes or eating myself into bigger pants.

When You Are Your Own Black Knight

Of course, one of my favorite movies is Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  And, of course, one of my favorite scenes is when the Black Knight stands at the bridge and declares, “None shall pass!”  About 30 pounds into my weight loss, I realized that I was my own Black Knight.

I was looking for a pair of warm-up pants.  I had bought the whole suit on sale some months before and, while I could locate the jacket, I couldn’t find the pants anywhere.  They had always been too tight and I had never warn them.  Finally, I remembered that I had donated them to Goodwill because I thought I’d never be able to wear them.  Slam on the brakes.  I thought I’d never be able to wear them. I did – no one else, just me.

The truth is, no one else thought that much about my weight.  I’m just not that important in their worlds.  That’s not to say that I don’t have friends and family who love me – I do.  But, none of them were wringing their hands over the fact that I was obese.  Certainly, none of them were losing sleep thinking that I was unable to lose weight.  I’d be willing to bet that it never even occurred to them that I was unable to lose weight. I was the one who thought that.  I was the one who didn’t believe in myself.  I was the one standing in my own way, denying passage.

How sad is that?

black knightSo, the biggest challenge wasn’t necessarily cutting calories or making good food choices.  The biggest challenge was vanquishing the Black Knight.  And, to be honest, it’s a challenge I still deal with at least a little bit each day.  The way to win is not with one swift thrust from The Blade of Logic.  Like King Arthur, I had to strike multiple times – disarming, then, um, dislegging my own Belief Black Knight.  And, like the knight in the movie, even without arms and legs, the demon still threatens to bite my knee caps.  He’s never completely gone, but he’s not nearly as fearsome as he was two years and all those pounds ago.

And for those external Black Knights?  I quote the crazy-talented Pavel Datsyuk: “There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can’t. What you have got to do is turn around and say, ‘watch me’!'”

So, to both my internal and external Black Knights, I say with all due respect (which is to say very little), “Watch me!”