Archives for category: Food/Diet

It’s been a long time since I I’ve been in the Becoming Sydney mindset.  I hit 100 pounds lost and thought I was fixed.

Guess what?

A near 50-pound weight gain in a year proved to me there is no fixed.

Today I weighed in with a 3+ pounds weight loss.  Now I’m sitting in the changing room,  hiding in a private changing room that is,  in my gym. I’m trying to psyche myself up to get out there and get to it.

Here I go.

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I was talking to a woman who knows me professionally. She has a few pounds to lose, and was telling me she feels she’s lost jobs because of her “stature and size.” I never thought of her as overly heavy and told her so. Our discussion eventually touched on my obesity when I said, “You knew me back when I was at my heaviest. I was BIG.”

She asked what prompted me to “take the plunge” and I gave her my usual answer of being tired of being out of shape, unhappy with my body, and painful knees.

She said, “Yeah, well, I can’t afford gastric bypass,” with the implication that I’d had it.

When I told her that it was through Weight Watchers and exercise she seemed surprised–not at the success of method, but that it hadn’t been a surgical procedure.

I still have 30 more pounds to lose. Sure, I’d love a magic pill/procedure/fairy dust to take it off instantly…but there’s nothing out there that will instantly change my behavior, habits and thought patterns.

Because of that, I’ll keep plugging away at it my own way. No bypass, no pills, no fairy dust.

There are lots of weight loss inspiration stories in the media. Valerie Bertinelli. The Biggest Loser. Kirstie Alley. Jennifer Hudson. Jack Black. Kirstie Alley. Okay, that last one was mean. But was it?

NPR recently posted some pictures about a woman who lost 160 pounds and her dressing room photos that show the journey. What I didn’t see were the up and down photos–just the constantly shrinking woman. And those photos are great inspiration for “this is what you can do”. Yes, I too, can lose 160 pounds. But in two years? Six months? Not me.

It’s been three years, three months since I started this go-round with getting healthy. Year one was a lot of weight lost. Year two was the maintenance year. Year three was 25 pounds lost, going to a gym, getting a trainer, and then sliding back to where I was at the beginning of the year.

Now I’m in year four, and I’m working on the mental side of it.

It was depressing to see just how fast the bad habits and lack of self-control came back. One week of vacation and poof…I was on the downward spiraling slide of laziness and gluttony.

If I’d taken dressing room pictures last weekend you wouldn’t see a smile or a proudly tilted chin. You’d see annoyance, frustration and the beginning tinges of depression. No more size 14. No more clothes fitting well. Hello size 16 and shlumpy lumpy fit.

I started to slide into depression. I fed it. It grew. And I finally snapped out of it. Ham croissanwiches from Burger King with my morning commute weren’t going to make me feel better (in fact, they made me slightly ill.)

So I’m back to tracking, measuring and weighing. Back to the gym–that was hard. Back to Weight Watchers–weighing in and seeing the giant weight gain since July was harder.

17.8 pounds.

Ouch.

I’m owning those 17.8 pounds. If I don’t I won’t remember it the next time I slack off with tracking, measuring, and working out. Kirstie Alley understands what I’m talking about.

Last weekend I got a message via Twitter from @locust9 who lives in Sweden–a country where less than 10% of adults are obese:

switch out grains, only protein, no sugar. Weight will go away.”

At first, I thought, “Yes! That’s it. That’s what I need to be doing. It’s that easy. I can do that.”

A few hours later I thought, “Hell, I’ve been working at this for three fucking years. It’s not that easy. If it was, I’d be super-hero fit….”

A day later I found myself grumbling, “Who does he think he is, saying how easy it is to lose weight? What does he know, living in Sweden, the thinnest country in Europe?”

And then it hit me. He never said it was easy. Suzi Storm doesn’t say it will be easy. Weight Watchers doesn’t say it’s easy. I don’t say it’s easy. Losing weight is hard, no matter how much you have to lose.

But, when you’ve got a large amount of weight to lose, it’s even harder, because you’re also having to change habits, mindsets, and attitudes towards food that are obviously problematic. When I hit rock bottom I was fat. REALLY fat. I needed to lose about 120 pounds. Now I have about 20-30 pounds to go, and I battle a lot of the same crappy lazy behaviors I had three years ago.

Last weekend I saw friends of the family for the first time in about five years. One of them is a woman who has struggled with morbid obesity for 30 years. She’s been going to Weight Watchers for a year and has lost 40 pounds–and whined at me that it was taking too long.

“Don’t worry about how long it takes,” I said,’Just work on changing habits day by day. Start trying not to think so much about food all the time. Work on changing your thought process so the weight doesn’t come back. It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”

She continued whining about how hard it was (and then ate about 20 really fattening cheese & pastry rolls that were about 5 points a piece…I know because I made them). Maybe I thought, maybe she would be happier to just do what she wants: eat. She’ll die a lot sooner, but maybe she’d just be happier living a shorter life as a fat woman enjoying her food.

Is that what I want? To die at 60 because I wanted to swill wine, shovel popcorn, and chow on hot fudge and frozen yogurt? Or do I want to be one of those serene people, waking up to practice yoga at dawn, go for a quick run at lunch, lift some weights before dinner? Someone who fuels their body so it can be strong and healthy, not eating for “fun”?

Yes, that’s what I want. I’m happiest when I’m healthy. Therefore I need to be healthy. It’s that easy.

On April 16th Weight Watchers star Suzi Storm had an online melt-down. I was a little surprised at the force of her meltdown, and that it came seemingly from no-where. But as I read back through Tweets and blog posts I saw it there…the strains of snuggling up to complacency. The slipping back into comfy old habits of too much beer, comfort foods, couch sitting.

And the resulting feeling of feeling like crap.

This morning that’s where I’m at. I feel like crap. On the day before Easter (17 days ago, but who’s counting?), I celebrated a 100-pound weight loss.

This morning I’m up six pounds.

And I feel like crap. Not because of the six pounds–that just annoys me–but because I’ve been eating dirty. Giant burritos with flour tortillas and carnitas. Tortilla chips and beer. Oreos. Ice cream. Bagels with cream cheese. Wine. Blueberry tarts. Frozen yogurt. You name it, I thought about it and ate it. A jelly donut.

I’ve gotten to the gym about twice a week, with insistence that I’ll exercise at home if I don’t go to the gym…but I haven’t exercised at home.

And to top it all off, I’m not sleeping much. Oh, six hours a night maybe. But I’m tossing and turning, worrying about the future, and my children’s future, etc. And I wake up…feeling like crap.

That momentary elatedness of “I lost 100 pounds!” has evaporated. I’m left with my normal, grouchy self.

What to do? Remember all the tools I’ve used on the path to 100. Visioning. Planning. Tracking. And reminding myself that nothing tastes as good as thin feels. Really. The physical impact of eating crap and being a lazy lump is HUGE.

So–back to clean eating and exercise. I hope sleep and positive thoughts will result!

This week I celebrated losing 100 pounds. I didn’t do this by taking pills or following a fad diet. I’ve eaten chocolate, pizza, drank wine & beer, and have completely skipped exercising. How is that possible?

1)  Give it time. I started this journey the first week of June 2009. It’s been two years, ten months. I spent most of 2010 gaining and losing the same 10 pounds–and a lot of the reason behind that is because I was getting comfortable with my first 70 pounds of weight loss.

2) Be honest with yourself. If you really want to lose weight you’ll have to commit to this. Do you want to lose weight, or do you want that Venti Frappuccino? Keep track of what and how much you eat. It’s important you be aware of your daily consumption of food–whether you’re tracking calories, fat or Weight Watchers points. It’s because you haven’t been honest with your eating habits that you’re fat.

3) Feed your family what you eat. Do you have a family that you think you need to feed pizza, fried chicken and gravy to? Do you really need to feed them this, or is it easier for you to give them this food? If you change the habits of how you cook, you and your family will be better off. And, you won’t be tempted to finish off a slice of uneaten pizza as you’re cleaning up.

4) Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I’ve increased my fruits and vegetable intake these last few months–which has made it easier to lose weight. Apples, oranges and bananas are daily staples. Cauliflower, bell peppers and carrots also show up with great frequency. If you don’t like most vegetables find ones you do like. If you like celery, but don’t like eggplant, try other crunchy vegetables like jicama.

5). Exercise. This is important. Even if you can’t do much more right now than walk to your car, try walking to the corner. If your knees bother you, try crunches or arm circles. It’s true that just moving more can make a difference, especially at the beginning, when it seems like 100 or more pounds is insurmountable.

6) Support. There are plenty of people out there who have lost 200, 300, even 400 pounds. They gave it time, and I wager they had people who supported them. If you live alone, join Weight Watchers. Use weight loss forums, or start following people like me on Twitter. I guarantee there are people out there in the “Fitfluential” world who have lost weight or are losing weight, and want to help you reach your goals, too!

Drumroll….!

I hit 100 pounds lost on Friday night.

I hate to say it, but I’m sure I bounced up a bit after too much Easter candy, tortillas, etc.

My next goal is to make sure I get back to that 100 pounds lost, and lose 7 more.

Why seven more pounds? Because at 160 I’ll be in the “Normal Weight” BMI zone. At that point I’ll get my fat tested with skin calipers to determine how much more fat I need to lose, and I’ll decide what I want my goal weight to be.

I started out saying I wanted to lose 120 pounds. That may not be the case now. I might lose 120 pounds of fat, but gain muscle. If I’m a lean 157, that’s great. Then again, if I need to get down to 145 to be healthy, I’ll keep at it.

 

 

I’m taking a nutrition class at the local community college, and I’m really shocked at the foods that people say they eat. Not only is fast food a large component of their weekly menus, but so is over-processed, refined, sugary crap. In addition to that, most people get fewer than 10 grams of fiber in their daily diet. It’s really hard to eat such little fiber–at least I thought.

Since it appears I’m wrong, here are:

5 Easy Ways to Increase Your Fiber Intake

1) Don’t peel it. Eat your apple, peach and potato peels. You’ll double your fiber intake this way.

2) Go brown. Stay away from white food. No white rice, bread, or pasta. Instead, have brown rice, whole grain bread–look for whole wheat!–, and whole wheat pasta. Look at the amount of fiber on the nutritional panels to make sure you’re getting a decent amount of fiber per serving, more than three grams. If not, see if you can find another brand.

3) Have beans or lentils every other day.  That’s a simple way to increase your fiber intake!

4) Sprinkle flax seeds on it. Try sprinkling “nature’s broom” into your cereal, on top of soup, into pasta, in stir fries. They are crunchy and have a mild flavor, and are a nutritious form of fiber. Do know they are *not* fat free!

5) Have high-fiber cereal in the morning. Don’t like it? Try swapping out a quarter of your cereal for high-fiber cereal for a few days, then increase it to a third of your cereal, etc.

Yesterday I celebrated losing 95 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh-in. The road has been long, filled with sweat and cravings, false modesty and humiliation, pizza and pudding. The group cheered, which I thought was very sweet–there were lots of celebrations yesterday, including a 20 and 30-pound loss. Afterwards a few women asked me a battery of questions, which I thought I’d share.

1. How long has it taken you? I started Weight Watchers in June 2009, so it’s been two years, nine months.

2. Why has it taken so long? Yes, someone asked this. In these days of Biggest Loser rapid weight loss and stomach stapling, people want instant transformation. It’s taken me this long because I’m not just losing weight, I’m changing who I am. I’m no longer the fat woman who scoffs at people who exercise, I am a person who exercises. I used to love to watch cooking shows and whip up big dinners filled with butter, oil, cheese and meat. No more.

3. How many pounds per week did you lose? According to my Weight Watchers e-Tools chart, I’ve lost an average of .7 pounds per week. But really, there’s nothing average about my weight loss. Some weeks I had big losses. There were periods in the first year when I’d have three big losses and then a gain, then three healthy losses and a gain, etc.  You’ll see in my weight loss chart that in 2011 from May 2010 to June 2011 I “Mastered the Art of Maintaining”. That means, over that year, I had a net loss of 2.8 pounds. But I kept going to meetings–I didn’t want to gain the weight back.

Weight Loss Chart

4. Do you exercise? I didn’t when I started. At 267 pounds I was just too out of shape physically and mentally to do much. I remember trying to learn swing dancing with my husband, but I was so out of shape that I gave up.  So what was the turning point? I got a pedometer and beginning walking CD by Debbie Rocker. 20 minutes of this optimistic woman in my ears. The first day that I tried it it was 85 degrees in August 2009 and when I was done I collapsed on the couch, thinking I would never be able to get into shape. But I kept at it, walking more after Debbie was done, adding weights, walk/jogging, and by Thanksgiving 2009 I completed my first 5k.

Now I try to get to the gym five times a week where I do cardio and weight training, with a goal of becoming a strong, fit woman. And I love how my body feels as I get stronger.

5. Is your family fat? Your husband? My husband is overweight right now. I pulled him down the unhealthy path–when we met years ago he ran daily (and I scoffed at him). But he’s on his own journey and I think he’ll be celebrating being fit and healthy by the end of 2012. My kids are in the normal weight zone, as are my parents. Family history and long-term effects of childhood issues are a different post altogether.

6. What do you eat daily? Can you send me your meal plan? I won’t send you a meal plan, because I don’t have one. These days I’m trying to eat six small meals a day, pairing protein with carbohydrates. A sample day might be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
10am: Handful of carrots and 10 almonds
1pm: Beef & barley soup
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Salad: 3 oz Skinless chicken breast, LOTS of spinach & arugula salad mix, 1/2 C brown rice, 1/2 bell pepper–sliced,  1 tomato quartered, 1/2 C steamed brocolli, handful of baby carrots, sliced purple onion. Dressing: fresh lemon juice & 1 tsp olive oil. I might have a little heel of bread with this to soak up the dressing.
9:30pm: 1/2 Cup dark chocolate pudding from Fresh & Easy

But, a sample day could also easily be:

7am: One slice Dave’s Killer 21-Grain Bread with 1 tsp honey mustard and 1.5 oz low-sodium sliced turkey meat
4:30pm: Small apple, orange and wedge of low-fat Laughing Cow cheese
6pm: Four slices of pizza plus the piece my four-year old handed me, saying, “Here Mommy, can you finish this please?”
8pm: a bowl of ice cream, a candy cane, a handful of chocolate chips, and a stale cookie

7. Do you have special tools that you use? No. Yes. Sort of.

E-Tools. When I signed up for Weight Watchers’ E-Tools in July 2009 I geeked out on tracking, and it really helped. That first year I was a tracking fool. I used the recipe builder and activity tracker and participated on the 100+ Pounds to Lose message board a lot. Now I do my best to track daily, but if I’m honest, I’m at about a 30% success rate.

Polar heart rate monitor watch. This helps me track my activity, calories burned, and if I’m getting my heart rate in the zone I want it.

Good running shoes & an Enell sport bra.If you’re large-busted, the Enell sport bra is a god-send!

Trainer. Okay, Trainer Paul isn’t a *thing* but definitely joining the gym and signing up for a trainer has helped a lot.

Food scale. My $20 food scale was one of my best purchases. Weighing my food keeps me honest.

Other gadgets: I’ve tried all sorts of gadgets on my phone. The PointsPlus calculator from Weight Watchers is good. I have an Android so most of the other WW apps don’t work well on it. I’ve downloaded Loseit! but it’s just a tracking app so I decided to stick with e-Tools. Trainer Paul showed me the 6 Pack Abs Promise so I’ve downloaded it and will try it out today.

Books: Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean series really jump-started me out of maintenance in June 2011.

8. What big changes have you made? Since June 2009 I’ve made a few changes, including:

I don’t stop at Burger King for breakfast.
I have black coffee instead of a venti non-fat, no-whip caramel mocha.
I bring my lunch about 90% of the time and when I don’t, I look for the healthy options on the menu.
When I go to parties, I *do* bring something healthy that I’d like to eat.
I’ve really cut back on drinking.
I exercise. Sometimes I hate it, but most of the time once I start doing it I enjoy it.
I don’t shop in the fat womens’ stores anymore. No more Macy Women. No more Lane Bryant. I went from a 24 to a 14. At a 38C, Victoria’s Secret can sell me bras again.
I do still get french fries, but a small instead of a large, and I balance out the rest of the day.

I don’t beat myself up for days where the fat girl comes back, and doesn’t exercise and eats everything in her path. Instead, I try to figure out why I’m sabotaging my efforts.

How did I lose 95 pounds?

I joined Weight Watchers
I started exercising
I kept at it.

It seems like right about now–six weeks into the year or so–we hear from lots of people that they’re cheating on their diet. How they did really badly this week. They might as well not bother, since they gained. Why waste money on Weight Watchers, since they’re not doing it any more? Why go to the gym, since they’re off their diet? And then, ultimately, they failed.

And they lament how well they did at the beginning. “I did everything right!” I tracked everything. I prepared all my meals on Sunday. I  worked out every day. I never used any of my extra Weight Watchers PointsPlus (my Weeklies, my Activity Points). I didn’t eat anything “bad.”

And then, Weight Watchers stopped working.

But of course it didn’t.

Life got real.

Losing weight is like marriage. First you have the honeymoon, where everything is exciting and new and fun. You track. You measure. You log your activity points. And you’re excited to see the big weight losses.

Eventually, as time wears on, there’s a familiarity that sets in. You get comfy in your sweats more often. You don’t feel the need to go out together all the time. You fall asleep before you can say goodnight.

Same goes for the weight loss journey. You take the tracking, measuring and activity for granted. And when the weight loss slows down, or reverses, many people don’t work through it to get back on track, but give up.

Don’t give up this time. So what if it takes a year, or two, or in my case, three to get to your goal? When you get there, you’ll have changed a lot of habits, and you’ll be much more likely to maintain–and live happily ever after.