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Friday, September 30, 2011

In need of patience, a quiet mind, and a big picture.

The past two weeks have been enormously frustrating.  My weight hasn't been going down like I want it to.  I signed up for a 10 pounds down in September challenge and I am only 6 pounds lower than my weight on the 1st of September.  But I know I should be proud of my 6 pounds instead of being aggravated.  My main issue with it is that those six pounds all came off within the first 2 weeks, and the past two weeks I've been hovering at the same weight and I can't understand why.  I'm still logging every bite of food that goes into my mouth, and my phone app calculates all of my calories and everything, so I know I've stayed within my calorie budget.  Mathematically, it does not make sense that I am not losing weight.  This is what we call the dreaded plateau.  And I have no clue how to get myself past it since I am doing everything right as far as I can tell.

It's amazing to me how powerful a plateau can be in wrecking a person's motivation.  For the past two months I've been sailing so smoothly, feeling great, having healthy self-esteem, not having to bat away very many negative thoughts at all.  Haven't had the urge to eat for emotional reasons, haven't had to fight snacking much, haven't been down on myself.  Everything's felt effortless because the desire burns in me so passionately to be a healthier happier person.  But now that my weight isn't budging, I'm feeling like all the negative thoughts were just waiting inside of a gate and now they've been let out, rushing back to the forefront of my mind, catching me off guard.  I find myself fumbling to find my armor to protect myself.

My mind is wrought with all sorts of tangled thoughts that are completely irrational and detrimental to my ambitions.  I keep thinking things like, "Well, if I only lost 6 pounds this month while I'm still this big, how slow is it gonna be once I get closer to a normal weight?" because we all know that larger people lose weight faster and easier than smaller people.  And I think other things too, like "this is too hard.  If I have to cut my calories anymore, I won't be able to do this" or "am I going to need to exercise even more?  I am doing all I can!"

I don't know what the right answer is to get past this plateau, so I've figured out a plan of action that I can live with.  Be more mindful of my carb intake.  No more smoothies for dessert at night (this is only something I started like a week ago when I got my smoothie blender, but apparently carbs at night is a bad idea).  Also, time to get more serious about exercise.  Need specific, regimented workouts, which include strength training.  And I bought a measuring tape.  And I'm taking my scale to my parents' house for awhile so I won't obsess over the number.

If anyone has any words of wisdom for me, let's hear em.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jeans that don't fit.

As of today I am down 24.8 pounds.  I am a very happy Linz!  I feel like I've finally discovered the secret of weight loss.  And of course, the secret is that there is no secret, lol.  Kinda like Kung Fu Panda.

The secret is getting your mind right.  It hasn't been as simple as really wanting it; you hear people say that you have to really want it in order to succeed.  For me that isn't true.  I've always really wanted it.  Of course I want to lose weight and be healthier and look better.  No one in their right mind wouldn't want those things for themselves.  It's been deeper than that, though, for me.  Recognizing that my behavior was not the kind of behavior conducted by a person who has a high sense of self worth was the key that unlocked it for me.  First realizing, and then being willing to admit, that my self esteem could use some work is all I needed to do.  Then one by one I've been shining lights on my darkest most shameful thoughts and secrets regarding my weight and food addiction.  They shrink in the light and become easy to overcome.  I have come so far since I started this blog.  There is still so much road ahead of me, and I'm eager to keep taking baby steps all the way to the finish line.

Having said all that wonderful motivating stuff, it's true that I didn't meet all my action goals this week.  I kind of slacked on tracking my water intake although I did try to drink plenty of water (I just didn't bother to log it in my app which means I probably didn't drink as much as I needed to, I never do when I don't log it).  I also kind of slacked on exercise.  I worked out hard on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but Thursday I took a rest day and Friday I was exhausted due to a majorly stressful day at work (far more stressful than any other day I've had there since I started that job over a year ago).  Then house cleaning and social things got in my way yesterday, and I drank wine last night so I am way too tired today (Sunday) to work out.  I feel weak and hung over.  I never used to get hung over like this and I didn't even drink that much.  I'm going to remember this day the next time I get the bright idea to drink.  In my defense, this is only the second time I've had any alcohol since I started my weight loss journey.  And it'll be a good long while before I drink again.  It's not worth the calories, dehydration, and hang over.

I did great on my food intake all week.  Made sure to log every bite that went into my mouth, and as of today I'm under my weekly budget by over 600 calories.  I'm actually finding it difficult on some days to eat as many calories as I have been budgeted.  I guess when you start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet, you get more bang for your buck.  I'm hardly ever ravenously hungry anymore like I used to be and I haven't snacked after dinner in so many weeks I couldn't even tell you.  That is huge for me.  I used to eat one thing after another all night long while sitting in front of this computer.

I tried a new food this week: hummus.  I love it!  I need suggestions for healthy ways to eat it so let me know.  I dipped tortilla chips into it but obviously this wasn't the healthiest choice.  I did ok calorie wise but would like to avoid chips as much as possible.  Maybe zucchini chips?? Lol.  I need to learn how to make those.

I dug out about ten pairs of old jeans today that don't fit me anymore.  They range in size from my lowest weight when I was about 21 all the way up to the size below what I wear now.  I am excited for the first time in a long time to see all of these jeans.  They used to depress me but now I have 100% confidence that I'll be able to wear every single pair of them again.  I'm going to pick out a pair that I think I'll be able to fit in soon, and hang them up where I can see them every day.  I'll try them on every so often until the wonderful day arrives when they fit.  Then I'll get out the next pair and do the same thing. :D

Overall I'm pleased with this week even though I should have pushed harder on working out and drinking water.  I will be sure to do that this coming week.

Thanks for reading and for your continued support, you guys rock. \m/

Monday, September 12, 2011

Slow and steady.

All has been well in Linztown this week.  I stayed within my calorie budget every day this past week.  In fact, according to my phone app I actually finished the week out with 600 calories to spare.  That's amazing!  I'm finding that I'm a lot less hungry than I used to be, and when I am hungry, it's manageable hunger, not the kind that makes me feel dizzy and nauseous like I used to have when I was on carbs.  Yes, I say "on carbs" like some people would say "on drugs".  Now, that is not to say I don't eat any carbs at all--I do.  I just don't shovel handfuls of potato chips or Reese cups in my mouth anymore.

For that matter, it's worth mentioning that I have a lot more control over my appetite these days.  I am able to make rational decisions before I eat anything.  I'm not sure I have ever had this ability before in my life, not even during successful weight loss efforts in the past.  An example of this would be Saturday, when I drove 3 hours west to visit some friends of mine who were camping at Watoga State Park.  For dinner, they fixed roasted chicken, baked potatoes, and green beans over an open fire.  It was awesome (and healthy!).  However, they also made a strawberry chocolate dump cake, which I declined.  DECLINED!  And I didn't feel deprived.  I just thought about it, analyzed how I felt, and realized I honestly did not feel a strong desire to eat it.  So I figure, why blow 300 or more calories on a piece of cake, when I don't even feel like I really want it that much?  So I didn't eat it.  Winning!

I always worry about weekends because it's harder to stay in control.  However, thanks to my nifty phone app (and my own diligence), I was able to stay within my calorie budget all weekend.  I also got plenty of exercise while I was out of town on Saturday.  We went to a few beautiful places such as the Cranberry Glades and Droop Mountain, so there was a bit of hiking and a lot of walking involved.  My asthma acted up a bit here and there, but I pushed through anyway.  I'm tired of letting my asthma hold me back.  

Since I had to get up so early on Saturday morning to make the drive out there, I thought for sure on Sunday I would sleep really late.  However, apparently my body was ready to wake up at 8:30.  Really?  8:30 on a Sunday?!  There's a reason I don't go to church and it ain't so I can get up at 8:30! Lol!  However, much to my surprise, the first thought that popped into my mind after I got out of bed was, "I better get my walk in now before it rains later."  So I sure did eat a quick breakfast, slip into my workout clothes, grab my dog, and head outside before 10am.  This is so not like me!  But apparently, it is like me after all.  The new me. :)  

So none of the exercise I completed over the weekend felt forced at all.  My body actually craved it.  This is all new to me....I'm still shocked, and delighted.

I noticed on last Monday's blog that I set a goal for last week that I completely forgot about, which was make a point to eat at least 3 servings of veggies every day.  I totally let that one slide.  However, I probably achieved it, I just didn't make a point to keep track so I don't know if I did or if I didn't.  I could go back through my phone app logs and see if I did, but I think I'll let it go.  I'm not setting any new goals for this week.  I feel like I am on a roll with things how they currently are, and I want to work on making all of this feel more like a way of life before I add on some more new stuff.  Slow and steady.  I'm feeling very steady, stable, and on track right now.  I don't want to overwhelm myself and screw up that stability.  So this week my goals again are to make sure I log all of my food intake, make sure to get enough water (and log that too), exercise 5 times, and cook at home at least 80% of the time.  

By the way, I'm now at 20.2 pounds lost, 2 more since last Monday's blog.  And Aunt Flo is currently visiting (if ya know what I mean), so I'm probably holding water right now too.

I'm currently at the point in the game where I most often give up.  It is frustrating; so far I can't really tell much by how I look or how my clothes fit, so even though I know I've lost 20 pounds, I feel like I'm the same size. I still haven't gotten myself a measuring tape, which I probably should.  I did however get myself some new workout clothes, which I was pretty excited about, lol.  Somehow, wearing workout clothes makes me feel more awesome and motivated, lmao.  Anyway, I know that if I can just stick with this shit for another 20 pounds, the results will really start to show and it'll be easier to keep going.  So until then, I will relish my new ability to control my appetite, as well as my raised energy levels, and tell myself to just keep swimming.

I know this blog was kinda boring, nothing profound or poetic...but at least I had all good things to report. :)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reasons why I have no choice.

Part of me has been suffering from the delusion for far too long that I somehow have a choice in this whole weight loss endeavor.  Like losing weight is an option available to me, should I decide to better myself.  

Please.

The only other option is to die.  Well, suffer at an increasing rate for X number of years, and then die.

My mother has diabetes which she was diagnosed with ten or so years ago, and yes, it's a result of her weight.  She has been overweight pretty much her entire life, but it started to become a pervasive issue in her life when my brother and I were toddlers.  I have watched her balloon up past 400 pounds, and shrink down below 200 on numerous occasions.  But as she's gotten older, the weight becomes harder to lose again.  And not just because of slowed metabolism and age, but because of insulin.  Did you know that insulin will make you gain weight so fast it will leave your head spinning?  My mom has gained 40 pounds since her sister died two years ago, and trust me, it's not because she eats too much.  Her appetite has been a casualty of the stressful situation she has been under for the past two years since my aunt's death.  Her overall health, in fact. She is now using more insulin than she's ever had to before, and has virtually no control over her ever-rising weight.  She has made the decision to get weight loss surgery.  Her doctor stands behind her, as does my father, as do I.  I am thrilled that in all likelihood she will, a year from now, be far healthier than she has ever been, and have the energy to do all of the things she wants to do but can't right now.  

Most of all though, the notion that my mother is going under the knife because of her weight, having a surgery that very well may be the only thing that saves her life at this point, is sobering to say the least.  When I look at a donut now, all I see is the pain in my mother's eyes.  Today we met briefly so she could explain to me all of the stuff that she has left to get done before she can schedule her surgery.  It's overwhelming.  The hopelessness that she's been feeling about the double-edged insulin sword is overwhelming.  The fact that I know damn well that until very recently, I've been going down the same exact road, is overwhelming.  Today she pleaded and emphasized how important it is for me to stay on the new path I've forged lately.  To stick to my new way of life no matter what.  She doesn't have to tell me.  I feel at this point there is no other option for me.

I'm 29 years old, I live in a beautiful house on a beautiful farm.  I have no kids who need me to cook them meals and no husband who eats things that I can't have.  I have this house to myself.  I have my health on my side; the only battle I fight is my asthma, unlike my mother who can't even lose a pound because the insulin is fighting against her every step of the way.  Short of hiring a chef and a personal trainer Oprah-style, I am pretty much in the ideal situation for weight loss.  

And I will get this done.  I will not look back at myself 25 years from now and wish I had stayed on this path. I will look back and be so glad I was able to get my shit together while I was still young enough to change my life for good.


Mid-week frustrations.

I'm gonna use a blog post to write out everything that's currently frustrating me.  It is my hope that once I get it written, I will be able to let go of all of it and refocus.

1. My weight
Okay, if I'm going to allow myself to weigh every day, then I have to stop letting it drive me nuts.  My weight yesterday was up three pounds, which totally sucked, especially since I didn't slip up a single time all weekend.  I logged all my food, I stayed within my calorie budget, exercised, drank my water, blah blah blah.  Yet a three pound increase on the scale is enough to make me want to rip my hair out.  (Except that's a very bad idea, because my hair is already so thin! lol)  So anyway, of course rationally I know this increase can't possibly mean I've gained three pounds of fat.  It probably means I should have spent more than $20 on a set of scales, lol.  Or maybe I was holding water.  Or hadn't had a proper "bathroom visit" in awhile.  Who knows?  I can't drive myself crazy thinking about it though, that's one thing I know.  It did drop a pound today, so I'm still two over my lowest weight.  And I started a 10 Pounds Down in September challenge last Thursday, so it kinda pisses me off that my weight is exactly the same today as it was last Thursday.  I need those two pounds!!  I only have three weeks left to lose these damn 10 pounds.

2. My sodium intake
What the fuck?  Apparently taco seasoning has an ungodly amount of sodium in it.  I made taco salad last night, modified of course to stay within my calorie budget (no chips, light sour cream, extra lean beef, etc).  However, today upon looking at my nutrient tracker in my food log app I realized that I ate about 2,200mg of sodium just in dinner alone last night.  AHH!!  I have high blood pressure, which is one of the main reasons why I finally felt like I had to do something about my weight problem.  So, my doctor has advised me more than once to keep my sodium intake below 1500mg a day.  Does she realize this is fucking impossible?  However I am making a promise to myself to a) be more mindful of how much sodium is in my food and make appropriate choices and b) not feel overwhelmed by this right now.  I am not going to change my entire lifestyle and relationship with food overnight.  (And I've come pretty far already, if I do say so myself.)

3. My water intake
Apparently a good rule of thumb for water intake is to cut your weight in half and then drink that many ounces of water per day.  Holy shit.  This is a lot of water for a person of my size.  I thought I was drinking enough but I wasn't.  Luckily, I like water, so even though it kinda sucks to find out I wasn't drinking enough, the good news is I'm not dreading having to drink more.  I just need to keep better track of it.  I did download a nifty little phone app called Water Logged that helps me keep track.

4. My asthma
It was giving me trouble last night during my workout.  I started off hard but after about 5 minutes I had to slow way down, take it easy, chill out, use my inhaler a few times, and then gradually get back into it. I was fine after this but it really sucks and has a way of making me feel like I just want to give up.  After my workout was done, I felt constricted but I just tried to suffer through it because I'm pretty sure it's not good for me to use my inhaler frequently--besides the fact that that shit's expensive, I think frequent use raises blood pressure (ugh!).  After a few minutes my breathing returned to normal.  This frustration is central to my repeated failures at nailing down an exercise routine.  I hate feeling like I can't breathe.  And I don't know why it is worse some days than others.  There are times when I don't feel constricted at all anytime during my workout.  Yet other days are like yesterday.  At any rate, I just need to keep reminding myself that however frustrating this may be for me, it's only going to get worse if I don't lose weight, and the only solution to this problem is to lose weight.  I'm hoping my asthma will improve as I become more physically fit.

5. My appearance hasn't changed
So far I haven't lost enough weight for it to show significantly.  I saw one of my best friends the other day and he said that he couldn't tell I lost weight so far (I didn't ask) but that he's sure he'd be able to tell soon.  Keep your honesty to yourself, buddy!  I guess I'm too sensitive but I really didn't need to hear that.  16-18 pounds on him would be very noticeable, since he's of average weight, but on me, it ain't shit.  Can't even tell.  Jeans aren't even looser.  It's frustrating.  But I know that the key to success in losing a significant amount of weight is not giving up at this point in the game.  This is where most people say fuck it, it's not fast enough, it doesn't feel like it's working, I quit.  Well, I can't quit.  I have no choice. I just wish this shit didn't take so long!

Okay, I feel better.  Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blissful motivation.

This past week has been full of epic win.  I feel like I did everything right, and I've been gloriously motivated.  Oh motivation, you are so sweet.  We all know that this blissful state ebbs and flows.  There will be weeks when motivation is like the last tiny squeeze of toothpaste, where I have to spend half the day just squeezing out enough to actually get anything done.  But this week, it was free flowing, baby.  And I soaked it up.

My weight is down 5.8 pounds.  (My total lost is now 18.2.)  I am just thrilled.  It's great to really put action into my goals and see the results show up like magic on the scale.  :)  Except it's not magic.  It's the product of hard work.  How nice it is to feel accomplished and hopeful again.

Last week my action goals were to take my meds every day (check!), keep my food journal all week and no ditching it during fun times over the weekend (check!), and take my dog on a brisk walk around the farm three times (check! I did this four times, plus I danced for 25 minutes on another day).  In addition to reaching my goals, I also drank plenty of water each day (although I did not keep track of this), and cut back on diet soda.  I also stayed within my calorie budget, and ate more vegetables.  I also cooked at home a lot more and only ate out twice.

This week my goals are gonna be to take my meds every day, to exercise 5 times, to keep my food journal every day as well as my phone app log, and to make sure I get at least 3 servings of vegetables every day.  Next week I think I will up it to 4.  I just want to make sure I'm getting enough veggies in, because I notice sometimes I have meals without any veggies.  Also this week I'm not gonna make myself log my water intake but I want to make sure I keep it up on drinking plenty of water.  I usually don't have a problem with this because fortunately I love water.  And I've noticed exercising more makes me crave water instead of diet soda so I've naturally tended to drink less diet soda lately.

The new group on Facebook that started out with me and a few of my friends has grown to 53 members.  I love it there.  Between that and Mamavation I feel very supported.  And man, what a difference that makes, doesn't it?  To know that there are people who care about how well you're doing, who want to hear how you did each day.  That's a beautiful thing and I know it's certainly impacted my efforts this week.  Thanks guys.

Another thing worth mentioning: now that I have a lot more control over what I'm eating than I did, say, a month ago, I am able to better identify weaknesses.  For example, this may seem obvious to some, but when I actually see food right in front of me, especially food that is available to me, it is amazing how much power that visual cue has.  I never thought about it before; I figured if I wanted to eat bad I would find a way even if it wasn't around.  When I'm in a room with some type of food, like for example, a Reese cup, I am constantly aware of it.  I may be thinking or talking about something else, but in the back of my mind, I'm either thinking, "I gotta get me one of those" or I'm thinking, "I will not eat that Reese cup, dammit".  Either way, it's on my mind.  So obviously then it's very important to try to stay away from places as much as possible where there will be powerful visual triggers like these.  Unfortunately, my parents' house is one of those places.  I can't just go over there and hang out after work anymore, at least not right now while I'm still so vulnerable.  There is way too much junk food over there.

Another cue for me is the mention of food.  My best friend Peggy sometimes emails me during work hours and in our conversations she may mention what she had for lunch.  Sometimes it sounds so damn good, I can picture it right in front of me, imagine how it tastes.  It's not as powerful as the visual cue, because it's not food available right in front of me, but it still takes my mind from wherever it was and puts it squarely back on food.  

It's interesting how our minds work.  Our brains tend to like to obsess over things.  Mine does, anyway.  So I've just been keeping myself obsessed with my goals.  :)

Hope everyone had a great week, and has a great week coming up too. :)  My slightly more long-term goal is to lose 10 pounds for the month of September.  I have 8 to go.

Much love.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What does "lifestyle" really mean?

Well, you can add what I'm about to discuss in this blog to the mile-long list of concepts that I thought I understood but have recently come to truly understand.

Everyone's favorite thing to say about diets is that they don't work.  You can't just go on a restrictive, temporary diet, they tell you.  You must change your lifestyle.  Okay, great.  Change my lifestyle.  This means, I always figured, that the changes I make to my diet must be permanent, not temporary.  Restricting sugar and other highly fattening foods is something I'll need to do forever and ever, amen.  Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Not so fast.  There's not a whole Wikipedia page on the word "lifestyle" for shits and giggles.  It's there because the word means a hell of a lot more, even in the context of weight loss, than simply adhering to new and better habits.

One reason this is on my mind lately is because of a new wellness group I created on Facebook.  This group so far has roughly 50 members, many of whom are my personal friends.  I have been asking them about their meals lately.  Yesterday, I asked what they typically eat for breakfast, and today I asked about lunch.  Aside from being utterly delighted with the sheer volume of responses I've received, I'm also rather surprised and intrigued to find that their lifestyles are very different from mine.  So I find myself thinking, "Is this how normal people eat?  Am I really that different in my habits from what typical, healthy people do?"  The answer is, unequivocally, yes.  I am that different.

Here's why.  Many of the group members have listed foods I have never even heard of and certainly never tried.  Many of them talk about cooking and it makes me realize how many years I've gotten by in life without cooking.  They talk about weekly and monthly meal plans.  They talk about healthy snacks they've invented to keep everyone in their families satisfied between meals.  Some of them are highly educated on nutrition, far more than I am (and I thought I was fairly knowedgeable, heh!); they know not only the nutritional aspects of foods but they also know about lots of other health benefits associated with various foods.

I have never in my life spent any significant amount of time (before this year) bothering to learn about food or what foods are best for my body.  I have spent countless hours studying information regarding diets, that is, information geared toward the ambition of losing weight.  However, as far as food for food's sake, I know virtually nothing.  I've lived off of fast food and other people's cooking my entire life.

And exercise!  A guy at my work, Eddie, looked at me like he was insulted when I asked him the other day if he works out regularly.  Of course he does, he said.  Every morning at 6am before work.  During the conversation, another girl, Tobie, chimed in and said she runs every morning before work.  Is this what normal people do?  I wouldn't know.  It's sure as hell not what I have ever done.  I remember living with my old roommate, Miranda, in California for two years.  She worked out at least 5-6 times per week.  I thought she was just a health nut.  I guess I always thought everyone who eats weird food (pita bread? hummus?) and works out a lot is a health nut.

What I'm realizing is that you don't have to be a health nut to live your life in a way that is conducive with overall health.  This is just what non-lazy people with high self esteem and a healthy appetite for life do.

So all this time I've been thinking that a lifestyle change was about making permanent changes that felt unnatural to me.  I was dead wrong.

Part of Wikipedia's report on lifestyle is as follows: "A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual's attitudes, values or worldview. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self".  

So this isn't about just about changing habits.  It's about changing attitudes.  It's about being truly interested in my health, and in what foods are best for me.  It's about truly wanting to do what's best for myself.

Lately I've been incredibly, for lack of a better word, obsessed with the healthy changes I've made to my life in recent months.  I started out that way purposefully, because I know that people who are immensely successful usually get that way because they completely immerse themselves in their goals.  I've been involved in a healthy living group on Twitter for a few weeks now, I've been keeping this blog, I'm journaling my food intake and exercise, I'm tracking all my nutrients, and I recently started my new wellness group on Facebook. I'm talking about it with co-workers.  I'm reading fitness magazines for the first time in my life.  Immersion.

And much to my delight, it's working out superbly.  At first it felt a bit forced, but at this point, I'm honestly staying involved with all of these things because I am genuinely, truly interested in them.  And more than that, I'm feeling the confidence of a leader grow inside of me!  I have been cheering my friends along as they decide, one by one, to start their own efforts at living healthier, and I've been giving pep talks to co-workers and family members.  I'm providing support and information to anyone who asks me for it.  It feels like I was born to be a leader now.  And I've never really felt that way before.

Will I, the lifelong fat chick, become so involved and interested in healthy living, that it becomes a *gasp* lifestyle for me?

Time will tell.