Friday, July 20, 2018

Magical cookies: weight loss thoughts

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am in my weight loss journey. I’ve been thinking about what my plans are and how often to weigh myself.  Really, I’ve been thinking about everything. I think some of that comes from the fact that I have read the first couple years of this blog and I saw where I was, I saw the struggles I saw the success.  I had incredible success. I lost between 130 and 150 pounds of weight. I felt spectacular. However, I regained weight.  Let’s be honest, I regained a lot of weight. Right now I’m looking at roughly 65 pounds to lose in order to get back to my lowest weight. It could be worse, I could have gone back to where I was at the beginning… Or even worse, I could’ve gone back to the beginning and then added another 30 pounds. So all is not lost (gained).   Even more importantly.... I can go back to all of those old posts and all of my memories and see where the problems started. I can see where the problems occurred and by recognizing the problem, hopefully I can avoid the pitfalls. So what am I planning on doing differently? And are my plans really working?   For the last month or two I have been preaching ‘live’.  I don’t want to live a life of restriction.  I don’t want to live a life of ‘never having an indulgence.’  I want to find that balance where I can be in a healthy place yet not feel so restricted.  So where am I?  

I got really serious about losing in early June. But I continued to struggle until the middle of the month.  And at that point my weight was 254.6.  This week I have seen as low as 246.8 on the scales. (Yesterday) That’s 7.8 pounds.  Now my official weight this morning was...  but that is ok, I know I ate a meal that was higher in sodium last night. 

Daily Weigh In

 I weighed myself every day back when I lost the bulk of my weight.  Early on in my journey, I didn’t weight myself daily.  And in early posts, I wrote about how I was so stressed when I didn’t weigh myself because I was fearful of not knowing how I was doing. Because of that, I started weighing myself every day. Over the next 8 to 10 years, I stayed on track for the most part with weighing daily.   And I noticed something?  Whenever  I was weighing daily, I typically stayed on track with my eating....when I didn’t weigh daily I kinda gave myself a ‘pass’ from good food choices also.  So I knew I want to continue this behavior.   I got to thinking the other day when a friend emailed me and talked about maybe giving up the daily weigh in. I respect this friend’s opinion greatly so I really decided to give this one some thought.  She brought up the fact that I seem to get discouraged when my weight is up a bit.   And this is true.  I readily admit it!  So do I need to weigh daily?  Yes, for me..yes.   I know that not weighing for me gives me that freedom of thought that ‘I can be bad..I have until my weigh in day!’   But the daily fluctuations...that is the issue I need to overcome.

So how can I manage to overcome those daily fluctuations?  I honestly think that I have been going in the right direction in my though processes over the last few weeks.  I’ve been talking more about a ‘range of weight’.  In that post I wrote about accepting my weight as long as it is within three pounds of my lowest observed weight.   If I am ‘living’ the. I know that my weight will fluctuate because some days my eating and exercise will be spot on...but some days one or the other (or both) will be haywire because I’ll be living and accepting life as it comes my way.  So I will be ok with the lazy Saturday where no run, bike ride or hike occur and we instead sit on the couch watching movies all day long. I will also be ok with the ice cream indulgence during the hellishly hot days if the summer. Let me rephrase...I will be ok as long as I am within three pounds of my lowest recently recorded weigh.

This plan is solid.  I’ve read a few blogs where people have been doing something similar.   And most recently I read a blog about maintenance where she posted a graph showing what ‘maintenance’ looks like.   While I’m not in maintenance mode..yet.  The post really hit me...because yes I’m in losing mode and losing mode has two purposes.  One of is obviously to lose.  But the second and possibly even more important goal of this stage, learning to live healthy and practice for weight loss maintenance.  Her post showed that there are fluctuations daily. And she is still slowly working on a few pounds here and there...just shifting that ‘range’ down further a little at a time.

So I think I’m in the right path.  The biggest thing is just retraining my mind to not be upset about the fluctuations. As long as my bottom number keeps inching downward I’m happy!!!   This slow method may take more time, but I will be so much better prepared and equipped to handle maintenance!

Furthermore, when I share my ‘official weight’ I will be sharing my ‘low weight’ for the week and giving the acceptable weight range.  So for example.  If my lowest weight for the past 7 days  was 245.0 pounds I would say that my official weight was 245 with my acceptable weight range up to 248 pounds.

So where I am I weight wise?

I got really serious about losing in early June. But I continued to struggle until the middle of the month.  At that point my weight was 254.6.  Earlier this week my weight popped way high with no reason...but then the next day dropped right back down once again with no reason.  I struggled...(which is what brought about these deep thoughts on where I’m at and what I’m doing).  Today I stepped on the scales...  245.4....I’m in awe...I’m in shock.  I’m ecstatic!   That is 10.2 pounds GONE since mid June!!!   So my weight 245.4. And I will be ok with the scales up to 248.4 to account for those daily fluctuations!!


This is a big one for me.  I know I need to limit my carbs.  I know that I need to limit my sweet treats.   I also know that the snack when I get home from work needs to go away unless it really is a true hunger that is driving me to the kitchen for that snack.   Notice I’m not eliminating anything totally.  I did the elimination thing once before...and I had amazing success!  It works!  It also failed me!  Just look at my current picture and you can see it failed!

(Not exactly current but I don’t have current full body shots...I have lots of chest up pics though...selfies! So this March 2018 picture will have to suffice)

 I found out the hard way that did me, living a life of restriction, for the rest of my life is not sustainable. When I was losing the first time I was frequently asked ‘is this sustainable, can you live like this forever.’  I was gung ho and said ‘yes, of course’.  You see, I was in control.  As long as I didn’t indulge I was fine, strong and capable.   However, the first time I got the taste of cake and desserts (on a vacation and at a wedding) I lost control. Big time loss of control. It had been such a ‘taboo’ thing in my life that when I finally did say ok to the food, I went crazy!  I don’t want anything in my life to be taboo.  (Ok within reason...some things in life should always be taboo...drugs, etc...but I’m talking food here, not those extremes!).  There is a fine line of balance between indulging and gluttony.  There is a fine line of balance between being in control and going off the rails crazy (either dieting or eating like a fool).   There is a fine line of balance between living a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and one that will eventually crash and burn.   I have already crashed and burned once.  I don’t plan on doing that again.  So that means that I have to find that fine line of balance.

The balance for me?  For a few  weeks I made desserts for Jason, but didn’t touch them (I had maybe one piece of rice crispy treats out of three batches that were made in a two-three week period...yeah he is on a rice crispy treat kick!). Then one week I made all time favorite (chocolate peanut butter banana cookies).  And I indulged.  The no/limited dessert weeks, I lost.  The indulge weeks maybe not as much...more like a maintain.  Balance...this goes hand in hand with the weigh in section above....I just need to retrain my mind to accept the indulgent weeks...  

Scales are Stupid

The biggest thing I need to retrain myself to remember is that there are fluctuations in the scale.  Some fluctuations are caused by indulgences.  Some fluctuations are caused by carb intake.  Some fluctuations  are caused by water intake or lack there of.  Some fluctuations are hormonal.  I need to remember that the fluctuations are NORMAL as long as I’m within that range of weight that I have allowed myself.

And just to prove how stupid the scales are? Ironically my weight  was really high this week on Tuesday for no reason....I got home from work and made the heavenly chocolate peanut butter banana cookies and my weight dropped the next day...and the day after to my all time low today, even though I ate cookies each day.  Which does prove that scales are stupid or maybe they are magical cookies.......

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Tips for eliminating Soda

When I was at my highest weight, 315 to 330 pounds, I was drinking a lot of soda.  When I say a lot, I really do mean a lot! I could easily go a day...a week and even a month with drinking nothing but soda. I know, not healthy at all! Just as an example, at one point when I was working at a job and I would get a bottle of Pepsi when I arrived, I would get one on my first break, my lunch break, and also my last break. That is four bottles of soda in an eight hour work shift.  That doesn’t even include what I drank at home!!  When I first started losing weight way back before I even wrote my first post on this blog, I gave up regular soda. It was amazing how quickly I dropped weight with that one minor change. That truly was the easiest pounds I’ve ever lost.

When I was in my early 20s, I decided that I needed to buy a new car (new car to me that is). I did not want to have a car loan. Therefore, I decided that I would save for a year or two and pay cash for a car. My method involved working two jobs(Substitute teaching during the day and waitressing every evening and weekend.) And I cut back on expenditures. One of the things that I looked at was how much money I was spending on Soda...a lot!  That quickly came up on the chopping block as an expense saving measure. At that point even though I was overweight, cutting out the soda had nothing to do with weight… It was all money.   Somewhere along the way though, I figured out that soda was just not the healthiest option.  One of my very early posts was a comparison between water and coke.  So I eventually figured out that for my health it was an important switch (and hey...the money savings is still awesome!)

I have toyed around with different aspects of eliminating soda in my life.   Many times it has crept back into my life eventually.   At one point I went from a heavy soda drinking lifestyle down to straight water as my only drink. At one point I went from regular soda to diet soda. I’ve also dropped from diet soda down to water.  Each time  I’ve tried different tricks and methods to make the process smoother and ultimately easier. I figured it was time to share some of those tricks and methods that I have utilized. Like always, take what you want, use whatever ideas and tips work for you, and remember that what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.

  1. Retrain the taste buds slowly.  One of the earliest problems I encountered was the taste.  Water was totally unappetizing to me.  I had no interest in water.  In fact I readily said I hated water!  With water being so un-appetizing, I went out and bought Kool-Aid packets. I bought the kind where you add your own sugar. The first 2 L containers that I made and subsequently drank were made with full sugar added. Sure, I missed the carbonation, but with the flavor and sugar  it wasn’t so bad. Slowly, over the following weeks I started to reduce the amount of sugar in my Kool-Aid. Eventually, I was only drinking water with a  Kool-Aid packet added and no sugar added. At that point it was a very easy jump to go from flavored Kool-Aid with no sugar to just straight up water. It took a while to eliminate sugar in a way that was easy and painless. But it worked really well and never again after that did I say that water was unappetizing.
  2.  Caffeine headaches. If you are drinking a lot of soda, you’re most likely going to suffer some kind of caffeine withdrawal. For me it wasn’t so much the lack of energy that some people drink their caffeine for. My withdrawal has always been headaches. I have battled this one almost every time I slip back into drinking soda and then go back to more water-based in my drinking diet. For me the headache kicks in  about 36 hours after I drink my last caffeinated drink. It lasts for about 2 to 5 days. There are a couple ways you can deal with this headache. The first is to just Suck it up and just deal with the headache for a couple days.  If that doesn’t work, arm yourself with Advil or Tylenol. You can lesson the headaches by Tapering your caffeine consumption so that you get used to the lower levels.  Next, you can definitely Utilize other sources of caffeine… Coffee or tea name two of the most common ones.  In terms of The lack of energy without caffeine, get lots of sleep, eat healthy nutritious foods and know that the lack of energy will pass.
  3.  I touched on this point in the section where I wrote about how to combat caffeine headaches/withdrawal. Drink other substituted drinks. Tea is a very good choice… Unsweetened tea that is (if your doing this to cut sugar).  This one, was never a good option for me because I don’t like tea or coffee.  For me the other choices were just as bad as the soda.
  4. At one point, the caffeine had crept back into my life and I decided that I would be OK with drinking diet soda.  I was only looking at calories and not overall health at that point. Going from regular soda to diet soda was huge for me. Diet soda, to me at least, tasted really nasty. At that point though, I didn’t feel as if I had the willpower to drop Caffeine/soda completely. I had to retrain myself and my taste buds. First of all, I vowed that I would only drink diet. I quickly figured out that making the switch while I was eating was the easiest. When I drank the first couple glasses, I remember actually saying oh my word this is nasty and making crazy faces of pure disgust. But when I drank it with my food I wasn’t as focused on the flavor of the drink as much as I was the flavor of the food. So, slowly my taste buds changed. It didn’t take very long at all, maybe a week but the taste of the diet soda became the common norm for me. This also worked once when I was going from soda down to nothing.
  5. There have been two different times  in my life where I have made the change from soda to not soda (or from regular soda to diet soda) while on vacation. I think this works really well because you’re already out of your norm. You’re not fighting the habits that are set in your life. I decided to drop diet soda once and for all as an every day drink a few years back during a vacation. I went prepared with Advil, and a full case of water in the car. I looked at it as a challenge. I allowed myself lemonade and other such drinks that I may normally eschew due to the sugar content… And it made me feel absolutely decadent and the decadence made me not miss the diet soda at all.
  1. I have very limited success with ‘just cutting back’.  However it is an option out there.  Many times I have set the rule of ‘finish my water first’ and then I can have the soda.   This in theory is great.  But it opens the door for lots of slip ups.  For me, this is exactly what happens!

Where does this leave me right now?   I am mostly soda free.   I may grab one during the weekend.  Occasionally if I’m having a day where I feel as if I’m dragging I will grab a soda.  But for the most part I am straight up water...or at the very least, water with flavoring.

It really all boils down to making the decision to drop the soda habit and either tapering, substituting or going cold turkey.   I have done all of them.   I have gone months and years without any soda.  It really is a personal choice on how each person approaches this.  

  1.  I have very limited success with ‘just cutting back’.  However it is an option out there.  Many times I have set the rule of ‘finish my water first’ and then I can have the soda.   This in theory is great.  But it opens the door for lots of slip ups.  For me, this is exactly what happens!

Really it all boils down to making the decision to drop the soda habit and either tapering, substituting or going cold turkey.   I have done all of them.   I have gone months and years without any soda.  It really is a personal choice on how each person approaches this.  

My current love/hate state I. Regards to soda is pretty healthy....I think.  Typically I drink only water.  On the weekends I usually splurge and drink a diet soda.  On a really rare occasion if I’m just really struggling at work with a day that just feels heavy, slow and tiring; I will go down to the cafeteria and pick up a diet soda.   I’m not addicted.  I’m not reliant.  I’m in a healthy place in regards to it!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Idyllic, I think not!

Well here we are back at Monday!   Why can’t the weekend be longer.  My treat of a three day weekend went by just as fast as a typical two day weekend!   The weekend was a good one on a lot of levels.  I was somewhat active.  I saw family. We relaxed and I even had some revelations about weight loss and how the first time around losing weight was so easy and well...idyllic!

Idyllic Memories
As I have gained weight and faught to restart and maintain this weight loss journey, I have sat back and wished for the picture perfect bubble that surrounded me when I lost weight the first time to reappear.  I look back and it just was easy!  I lost a bit...started my blog...joined weight watchers and then snapped my fingers and the weight was gone in a reasonable period of time.  I have lamented this fact over the years, not because it was so easy then....but because it’s SO HARD now! What changed?  

I figured out what changed and I figured it out quite by accident.  When I started my blog I wrote for me. It was my ‘journal’ and I didn’t label/tag ANYTHING!  As I write my posts now-a-days I remember posts that I wrote that go hand in hand with what I’m writing... but finding them amidst 12.5 years of writing and more than 2000 posts is a daunting task.   So my current mission is to reread and label much of what I wrote for ease in recall.   I started at the beginning.  It was truly just a journal back then...and some days were really ‘dry’.  I have found some awesome nuggets of information though. But more importantly, even though I have only made it through a very small segment thus far...I have seen a TRUE picture of my weight loss journey when I ‘did it the first time’.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t the idyllic experience that my apparently faulty memory had created.

A brief rundown.  In bullet point to make it easy.

**Before I began the blog I had weight somewhere between 315 and 330 pounds.   I gave up soda and dropped mad pounds immediately. I got down to around 250.   At that point I started writing on here.  (At least that’s my memory of that period!)

**the first few months of this blog, I battled my way down to 225 pounds...on my own, but then regained back to 250.

**I joined weight watchers.  My descent down the scales started again.  However my memory that told me that I lost consistently through my weight sojourn at weight watchers?   Faulty!  The first weeks were consistent losses, but in reality it was a crawl, brawl and a battle that lasted for more than two years before I reached my weight watcher goal.  I sat stalled and had to reset and restart myself while on weight watchers.  I had bad weeks amidst the good ones.   

My memory of that ‘idyllic weight loss’ were totally faulty!   Thank heavens I started writing my experiences!  The early posts may be somewhat dry...but they were just what I needed.  The idyllic myth has been busted!  Maybe now I can settle into the slow process of weight loss and stop lamenting that it isn’t as ‘easy’ as the first time around.

I was starting to really get worried.  My trusty Kitchen Aid mixer was starting to give me grief.  I have a tilt top/head and the bowl was not locking into place.  Therefore, if I used the mixer for anything other than an easy stir (meaning no fast and nothing ‘stiff’) the bowl would wobble and fly off the base.  NOT GOOD!   I’ve been struggling with it for a few weeks. But this weekend Jason walked into the kitchen while I was fighting with it.  He looked at it and said ‘It’s eaither the base of the mixer, which looks replaceable or your bowl.’  He lamented the fact that I don’t have another bowl to test it.  I just grinned and dig deep into the cabinet above the fridge and pulled out my second bowl.  What do you know?  The other bowl works perfectly and looks tightly into place!   What a relief!   But boo....I’m back down to one bowl!  Guess I’ll be shopping soon for another bowl.

The weekend
On Friday I did the grocery shopping, had lunch with some of my favorite people (my mom, my sister in law, my niece and my nephews).  And I spent some time editing and reworking a few things on my ‘year of online dating’ chronicles.    I am planning on publishing it.  My working title is ‘Frog or prince: Adventures in online dating”. I figure it is just sitting there completed in my files.  Why not publish!  (I have a few other things out there that I have worked on over the years that I will probably work on getting published in some form in the future after frog/prince.  That will clean up  up my files and I can share some of the stuff that I have worked on over the years.)

On Saturday, we ran to the zoo and walked for a few hours.

And then we went for a bike ride on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. 
It was hot and those two outdoor activities wiped us out...and filled our day!

On Sunday we chose to have a lazy day.  We did run to my mom's to pick up a few of the things that were still there.  The one thing was my headboard and my bed frame.  For numerous reasons, we decided to use my headboard.  I love it for one....but also because my brother made it (he is a professional woodworker) and I love him!   And my bed frame doesn't have a footboard and neither of us like footboards.....and the frame we have been using (Jason's) has a footbaord.   So we went and got mine and brought it to our new place.  I then took the other bed frame/headboard/footboard down and put it in storage and set up the new bed.  (same mattress and box springs). Other than that, we had a nice lazy day of hanging out and binging on movies!

Friday, July 13, 2018

It’s ok until: My new weigh in/scales plan

This hasn’t been a crazy exciting week for me.   It hasn’t been a mind blowing week in terms of weight loss.  However, I have been thinking about some stuff in terms of weighing myself.  I’ve also been thinking a lot about some other things in terms of ideas.  

Weigh in
First of all let’s talk about what the scales said for my official Friday Weigh in.  I wasn’t expecting awesome things.  My weight has been hovering at a higher (like two to three pounds higher).   I didn’t eat crazy this week to warrant it though!  I didn’t go overboard on anything this work week.  But I just wasn’t seeing the scales move.   To add to my low expectations?  On Thursday I actually missed my water intake goal. By a LOT!  I only finished two bottles of water and that was it!  That’s not even 40 oz!   So yeah, not expecting great things.   So I was really shocked to see 246.8 on the scales this morning!   I’ll take it.  

Exercise for the week
I did walk on my breaks at lunch.  Every day.  And I even managed short walks on my 15 minute breaks!

The scales have long had a hold on me.  I weigh every day and just recently I started to drown in the numbers  .  I made some changes that seemed to work a bit...and in honesty even brought some of the excitement in getting my weekly official weight on those official days.   But this week I  read a few blogs this week and two different people (sorry I can’t remember who, it wasn’t until a few days later that the words really sunk in and made an impression upon me) wrote about how they are trying to not obsess about the scales and how they are ok with a range of numbers.  They made me really think!  And what I realized is that it sounded like it lined up with the plan I am working.   I am determined to live my life and not be so worried about every little bite.  My plan? I want to be able to have a piece of cake here and  there and to not worry about the ice cream indulgence on a hot summer day.  So that said, I should expect my weight to fluctuate somewhat.   So I’m going to start trying to think in terms of ‘never more than 3 pounds from my lowest (recent) weight.’   So this week my lowest weigh in recently was 246.6.  So my ‘it’s ok until’ number right now is 249.6.    When I see a lower number on the scales..let’s say 244.2. Then my ‘it’s ok until’ number is 247.2.   Three pounds.   This is NOT a foreign concept to me.  This was my maintenance mode plan that I was going to follow when I reached my weight watchers goal weight.  I just lost control too quickly back then!   So in theory if I’m practicing this action now, I’ll be better prepared to maintain when I reach my goal!!    I know I will still weigh in every day.  It keeps me focused on pushing forward.  But this plan of ‘it’s ok until’ will help keep me from those little bobbles upward that are least that’s the theory.  

Weekend beginnings
I am off work today.  I know my eating will be a bit higher as I’m going to lunch with my mom, sister in law, niece and nephews. And to add to that, Friday night is pizza and wings night here at the Jason/Maryfran mansion!    I’m up and showered early.  I’m planning on getting the groceries done early. And maybe working on a few things on my computer.  I have been editing some writing and I have also been going back and rereading old posts and labeling those old posts so I can find them more easily.  (I didn’t tag old posts back when I wrote them, so when I want to link something it takes me forever to read through a gazilkion posts to find what I want.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mary’s Success Story

I started to comment back and forth with Mary on our respective posts.  Very quickly I realized that she has attained success at weighty loss and at maintaining.  I immediately knew I wanted to highlight her story!  She very graciously agreed to share her story and her success.

What sparked you to begin to lose weight??  
To be honest, I was always a good weight until the last few years before my retirement.  As work became more and more stressful, my co-workers and I turned to food.  I ate enormous fatty breakfasts, huge lunches, a huge dinner.  I rounded out my day with unhealthy snacks morning, noon, and night.  My husband kept telling me that I was getting heavy, but I didn't care.  I suffer from osteoarthritis, and walking was becoming more and more difficult.  I couldn't go a block without losing my breath or leaning on a pole because I was in so much pain.  However, I just couldn't believe, or didn't want to believe that my weight was causing this.  Then one morning I was getting ready for work and I sneezed.  I felt a pain like I had never felt before.  It takes a lot for me to go to an emergency room, but that morning I called in sick and headed to the nearest ER.  It turns out that I had pulled a muscle in my back, but when they took my blood pressure it hurt so bad that I begged them to stop.  That's when the doctor told me my blood pressure was very high--193/135--and that I had to start taking better care of myself, and the first step would be losing weight.

 What was your highest weight?   Current weight?  I was 223 pounds at my highest.  I am now 169 pounds.

 How much weight have your lost in pounds
 I have lost 54 pounds in all.. 

 What was your starting clothing size?  Your current size? 
My starting clothing size was 3X.  I now wear XL.  
What plan did you follow to lose your weight?  (ie weight watchers, slim fast, a plan of your own creation...) When I first started losing I used the Dash Diet to control my blood pressure.   I bought all kinds of spices to flavor my foods and used no salt.  Then, after I retired I started attending Weight Watchers and have been attending ever since. 

Have you reached your weight loss goal?  
  Yes, I have reached the goal that is on record.  I would like to lose a few more pounds, but that doesn't look likely.  

Do you consistently track your food intake (via online or paperform) 
No.  I'm good tracking my food for a week or so, then I stop.  I don't know why.  The Weight Watchers site has made it so easy, and I do very well when I track.

How often do you weigh yourself?  How did you come to that choice for how often?  
I am weighed every Thursday at my meeting.  Since I reached goal, I only have to weigh in once a month.  I am beginning to realize, though, that I need that I need that scale to keep me on track.

What online tools do you use? 
I use the Weight Watcher e-tools.  Although I don't track regularly, I use the site to check out the points on recipe I am making or to help me keep on track when we go out to eat.

 Do your exercise regularly?  If so, what do you do?  I do a lot of walking.  My union also offers its retirees free classes, so twice a week I attend Qigong and Line Dancing.  No formal exercise at a gym even though I have a Silver Sneakers pass and can attend for free.

What products do you use/can't live without/recommend?
  I don't use any weight loss products, but I do use a lot of spices.  I still keep my diet low on salt so I spice up everything I cook.  I especially love hot and spicy foods.  I understand, too, they are good for weight loss.

Do you have any words of advice for someone that is just starting out on this journey of weight loss and health?  
Don't give up.  It can be very frustrating at times.  I hit a plateau that lasted a little over a year.  I was only a few pounds to goal, and I just could not shed them.  Many times I felt like giving up and expressed this to my leader.  Her advices was, "The check is in the mail".  Indeed she was right.  One day I stepped on that scale and it moved.  It really moved!  

Is there anything else you would like to share?  
As I stated, when I first started I couldn't go a block without stopping.  Now I have gone 16 blocks and more without losing my breath or suffering pain.  I still take medication for my blood pressure, but unlike before when it remained high despite medication, it now stays down pretty much in normal range.

Thank you very much for sharing your weight loss success story!   You have shown  and reminded me that weighty loss is doable and takes perseverence!  You look fantastic!!!!!!

If you are interested in more success stories and more inspiration, you can check out Donna’s ongoing success story!

Friday, July 06, 2018

The Burmuda Triangle of Weight loss: give up or truck on?

Happy Monday!  This weekend was a pivotal one for me in my weight loss journey.  I had some decisions to make and some actions to take that could have gone either way.  My actions over this past weekend made an utter difference in the immediate future of my weight loss journey.  Who so many ‘big decisions’?  It’s because I entered the ‘Bermuda Triangle of Weight Loss’ 

Bermuda Triangle of Weight Loss
Yes, I am in the Bermuda triangle of weight loss.   In case you somehow don’t know,  the Bermuda Triangle is a region in the northern Atlantic Ocean where a number of ships and airplanes have been said to have mysteriously disappeared. It’s the ‘dreaded’ place that people like to avoid....but sometimes you have to go through that region..and you either come through that region strong or, mysteriously disappear.    I am in the Bermuda Triangle stage of Weight loss.   What in the world am I talking about?  I am talking about the stage of weight loss where this journey is no longer a new and novel experience.  It has become very real.  There may have been some success at the beginning of the  healthy lifestyle changes but the ho hum aspect of living these healthy changes each and every day has just hit.  For that first period of time we are gung ho and it doesn’t bother us to give up that extra piece of pizza, or slice of cake.  We don’t mind the absence of chips as a snack before bed.  We are strong.   But there will come a time when the strength wavers.  That is when we enter the ‘Bermuda Triangle of weight loss’.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about that moment when we have to decide if we are going to throw in the towel and mysteriously disappear from the great quest toward weight loss and health or if we are going to steam straight through that rough patch of time  and come out in the other side stronger and still flying strong on this weight loss journey.   

For me the Bermuda Triangle of weight loss has historically  hit about 2-3 weeks into one of my many restarts .  It usually comes about when my strength wavers and I slip back into my old routines and habits. And looking at it honestly, I think sometimes it slips because I see a gain on the scales for my official gain.  I am usually pretty good about seeing daily fluctuations, but I HATE when I see a gain for my official  weekly weigh in....and if I want to face the truth, I almost always see a gain at least one week a month (thanks to female monthly ick!). So many times after a restart, I let that stupid gain send me straight into the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of weight loss.  And just like the real Bermuda Triangle, it is uncertain if I will survive or if I will disappear from this journey.

I had the monthly gain last week for my official weigh in on Friday morning. (And in fairness ice cream through the heat wave may have played a part in that number..but I had stayed within my calorie count goal so I didn’t deserve a gain!) and I entered the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ over the weekend.    On Friday morning I seriously wanted to give up.  A gain  is so disheartening.  Disheartened, I didn’t even  pack my healthy lunch for work on Friday.  I said ‘To heck with it, I’m eating in the cafeteria for lunch...especially since it is supposed to rain and that affects my lunch time walk!’   I didn’t pack my lunch...but luckily on the drive to work I came to my senses and rememberrd how badly I want to have success!   As soon as I parked I pulled up myfitnesspal on my phone (that’s where I track my daily calories) and immediately entered in my food for the day.  We order pizza every Friday night so I knew what we were eating.  I knew  what I usually get at the it was easy.  I finagled and worked it and if I ignored the chips in the cafeteria...and my after work snack (which I want to eliminate that habit anyway)  I would be ok with a cafeteria lunch and the pizza!  And maybe..just maybe I would be able to have a wee bit of ice cream if I kept everything under control!   I resisted the chips at was hard.  The habit is to get a bag of chips ...and they push the meal  deal to add chips to your sandwich.   I stuck with the lower calorie sandwich, even though the chicken salad looked delicious...turkey was my choice.  I did it!   Victory!  Next up was the snack after work.  I didn’t beat it TOTALLY.  I had a half of a Pringle chip.  No...not a half of a serving...or a half of a can.  I ate a half of a chip!!!   VICTORY!!!!  I put my mind to it and kept sailing straight through the Bermuda Triangle of weight loss.   

Next up?  The rest of the weekend....but I smashed that too!   I ate wisely and even went running, hiking and biking!   I came through it feeling stronger, more empowered and ready to continue this journey.  The Bermuda Triangle of weight loss didn’t claim a victim this time!!!

I stepped outside my door on Saturday morning decked out in my running clothes.  The temperature hit me immediately. Blessed coolness!   I have been running in hot humid weather but today the temperature was 63 and super low humidity (yeah, I pulled up the temp before I started my run!). It felt fabulous!   It felt so fabulous that I pushed myself and did an extra mile and explored a new neighborhood!  Go me!

Weekend Shenanigans
As I mentioned earlier, the  weather was delightful this weekend!!!!  High temperature in the low 80’s and low humidity  (as compared to the recent heat of the upper 90’s with high humidity).  As soon as we saw the forecast for the weekend we vowed that  we would try to get out and be as active as possible to enjoy the how did we do???  On Saturday we ran our errands and headed out with our bikes. We rode until we could ride no further...then we turned around!

No, we didn’t turn when our legs could go no further...we turned when we came upon a bridge that was out blocking our path. (Top picture is a side view of the bridge that is out, the bottoms picture is from the path where the path drops away!). No to be clear...there was caution tape blocking the drop off.....I was up against that.  And there may or may not have been ‘area closed’ signs on the towpath at earlier points  that I may have ignored!  Even with the earlier turn around than expected, we managed to get a nice ride in...a nice ten miles that we referred to as our ‘warm up’ for Sunday!

We got home and had a picnic dinner (hot dogs...buffalo meat, baked beans and corn on the cob.) food cooked on charcoal...delicious!  Or maybe it is the fact that my body had worked out...and food after working out is always sooo much tastier!

On Sunday I did not run in the morning.  This was a calculated decision. On Saturday we had vowed to do something more significant...and I wanted to save my legs to be fresh for whatever we decided to do.    So we left the house and first up was a trip to REI.  Jason wanted to try on the Five Ten mountain bike shoes   We didn’t find his size,so we will be ordering them online.   From there we headed off to do some reconnaissance on a mountain bike trail.badically we wanted to see if it was doable on my ‘non-mountain’ bike....a comfort bike.  We chose the 4 mile trail to check out.  It was good to get out there and hike(hiking is allowed on this trail). 

The berries were ripe for the picking!!!  And we did stop and indulge in berries along our hike.  These ripe berry hikes are so much fun!!!

It was a good time...even though my one foot was aching like crazy on Sunday evening!  And for the record, the trail is ‘mostly doable’ on current bike.  I will have to walk a few places but overall I think I can handle it.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

New habits: eliminate the bad and add the good!

Another one bites the dust....week that is!  Thank heavens it’s Friday!  Woohoo!  Bring on the weekend! This week I focused on building some healthy habits.   I also got in some mid week exercise.  We had a mid week holiday which meant time off work!  It was really hot this week, and that brought about some splurges of ice my weight...well....we will get there.   Let’s  just say that in the grand scheme of things I’m going to call it a good week!

Habits, wow I could write forever about routines and habits.   We all have them.  I do.   My morning routine is exactly the same every day.  I wake up, go to the bathroom, lay out my clothes for the day, go back to the bathroom, turn on the water, weigh myself, shower....same exact order every single day!  That routine/habit isn’t a bad thing.  It is early and I am sometimes half asleep, so the habit is good. But sometimes we have habits that are not so good.  I have written about the sweet treat every night habit that I somehow picked up.  That’s not such a good one!  And I have managed to break the every night routine of getting something sweet....I still indulge but not every night as a rule.

Somehow when I took away the sweet treat habit, I picked up a ‘after work snack’ habit. Usually it’s Cheetos or chips so nothing remotely healthy!  Yeah I jumped right from the frying pan into the fire!  This is a bad habit that I am trying to break.  I have been working in baby steps to eliminate bad habits and begin good habits.  I have worked to combat the closet eating gorge-fest that I was having while Jason was in the shower. Talking to him and letting him know that I do closet eat helped, as does putting my snack into a bowl and leaving the kitchen.  So that was a break in the routine and a change of a habit.   That’s a victory!   But next up is breaking that snack after work routine.  I don’t REALLY need a snack!  Stay tuned for another victory as I break that habit!

The daily multivitamin habit that I started a few weeks ago is going well.  I do not believe that I have missed any day as of yet!  It has become part of my mindless morning routine!  VICTORY!

The next habit to work on has been begun!   A few months ago Jason and I talked about upper body strength and core strength.  We vowed to do push ups and planks every night.  I remembered for two...maybe three nights before I totally forgot!   It was an utter failure. Fast forward to last weekend.  I saw an article about planks.  I decided it was time to try to rebuild this habit/routine.  I immediately linked the article to my Facebook page and did something else that was bound to make me successful.   I set an alarm on my phone, set to go off each and every evening.  I tried to chose a good time that I wouldn’t be eating dinner, or cooking dinner, or already wiped out and half asleep.  And each night when that alarm has gone off I’ve gotten up off the couch and done my planks..standard, side and even some push ups.   My core strength and arm strength is weak...but that is bound to change!!!  Building healthy habits!!

Heat and weigh in
As I mentioned earlier, we have been in high heat and high humidity weather.   That makes me want ice cream!!!  It makes me want cold stuff!   So I have indulged  a few times.  This has affected my weigh in. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I definitely didn’t do as well as I wanted!  I weighed in this morning at......

 That said, it’s been hot and while I’ve been drinking lots of water, I wake up thirsty....which tells me I still need more water!  And of course the monthly female ick has come and that causes water retention for me also.  So I’m not going to stress my weigh in this week!

Fourth of July Holiday
We had the Fourth of July holiday mid week.  That meant a day off of work for both of us.   It was hot. We stayed inside for much of the day.  However, we really wanted to do ‘something’ so we did drag ourselves out into the heat for a bit.  What did we chose to do? We went to the Monocacy Battlefield.  We enjoyed the nice cool visitor center and museum.  They have some walking trails that we decided to forego until the fall. (We now live close to this battlefield, so doing the trails this fall is not out of the realm of true possibility.). We opted for the driving tour instead.  We did get out of the car at each location to walk around a bit...

It was hot and a when we finished the car tour we hightailed it home to our wonderfully cool apartment!  It was a good way to spend a hot holiday!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Donna’s Success Story

Donna’s Success Story is one of perseverance and willpower.   She had battled her weight and been highly successful.  She has also learned lessons the hard way, with a regain.  At the beginning of this year she took a good look at where she was and decided to make some changes in her diet and lifestyle and she is living proof that if you want to lose weight and are willing to put in the effort that weight loss success is possible.

I met Donna many years ago through my blog as we both worked to lose weight. We communicated for a while simply via the comments section but then eventually though email.  It was a good day when I finally got to meet this amazing woman that I call my friend.  We had a fabulous time riding our bikes together at an organized ride that first weekend , and we have managed to hook up a few times since then (definitely not often enough!). Donna has been at one time or another my confidant, my accountability partner, my bike buddy, my sounding board,  a shoulder to cry on and most recently my inspiration....but most importantly she is my friend. 

Here is a picture of Donna and I at that very first meeting.  (As a reference point, I believe we both weighed right around 210-215 pounds)

What sparked you to begin to lose weight?? 
      THIS time I started the year out having to pay almost $500 for one months supply for ONE of three injectibles I take for type 2 diabetes.  Since I have a fairly high deductible with my insurance, the medications I was taking for my type 2 diabetes as well as for high blood pressure and cholesterol were costing me a small fortune!  It took several months to meet my deductible and even now it costs about $200 a month, out of pocket, for my medications.  Since I plan to retire at the end of the year, I started to try and think of ways to reduce some of my bills.  One way was on the car insurance for my car since I no longer put many miles on my car. The next one was my medications.  The insurance is taken care of and as of my June Endocrinologist appointment I was able to get off of one of my insulins, thus far.

 What was your highest weight?  Current weight?  Highest weigh that I can remember was 305 pounds,  Current weight as of this morning is 188.8 pounds. 
  How much weight have your lost? 
Since January of this year I lost 38.4 pounds.  I have fluctuated for about  8 years at right around 250 pounds give or take 5 pounds.
      What was your starting clothing size?  Your current size?  
My starting size was 22/24 pants and 2-3XL tops.  Just bought medium shorts yesterday, a pair of capris in large and a large top.

What plan did you follow to lose your weight?  (ie weight watchers, slim fast, a plan of your own creation...)  I really don't follow any special plan.  I have known since my type 2 diabetes was diagnosed that carbohydrate  and sugar intake needed to be watched.  I started to log EVERY day in MyFitnessPal and watched to make sure I didn't go over my carbohydrate and sugar levels. I had been to diabetes classes twice, once with my husband and once when I was diagnosed so I knew what to eat and how to make sure you get the nutrients  from all food groups.   I am an Excel spreadsheet geek, so I tracked all of the nutrients that the free version of the app allows, as well as calories.  I could see how I did each day against my weekly weight loss.  So that was a LONG answer to your question, so really my own plan*:) happy.

Have you reached your weight loss goal?  If so, how long have you been maintaining your weight?
  Not yet!  I spoke with both my Endocrinologist and Primary Care doctor and they both would like to strive to get my BMI at a "normal level".  Searching that data on the internet shows me I should be at 170 pound's.

Do you consistently track your food intake (via online or paperform) 
  I track in myfitnesspal EVERY SINGLE DAY!

How often do you weigh yourself?  How did you come to that choice for how often? 
 I weigh myself once a week,  first thing in the morning.  On very rare occasions I will weigh mid-week, but my Sunday number is what I log in MyFItnessPal and on my spreadsheet.  I chose this because I know there are a lot of fluctuations each and every day and only wanted to have my sights on ONE weigh in a week.  I am the type of person that gets disappointed if I weigh in the morning after I go over my calories and see a gain.

What online tools do you use?  Just 

Do you exercise regularly?  If so, what do you do? 
Not really!  This is my weakness right now.  I am not sure if it is because I am lazy or what.  I just can't seem to get motivated for any period of time to keep at it.  I now work from home full time, so I can't say I "don't have time". since my 1-1/4 hour commute is gone!  I have a good bicycle and a great place  to walk. I also have clubhouse in the 55+ community where we live.  The clubhouse has a recumbent bike, several treadmills, weights, etc which is open 24-7 with our pass key .  Maybe admitting it to you for your blog will give me the incentive I need to get with it!  I know that I need to exercise not to lose weigh as much but to get rid of my stomach and to try to tone up my legs and arms.

What products do you use/can't live without/recommend? 
My FitBit   I finally purchased one at the end of May and don't know how I lived without it!  It helps me to get up and move since I work as a Project Manager and sit at least 8 hours a day.  I also like that I can log my water consumption, that it monitors my sleep and I can see it all at one place.  I also like that it pulls in all my data from MyFItnessPal.

Do you have any words of advice for someone that is just starting out on this journey of weight loss and health?  
Take it ONE day at a time.  Do what is best for you and don't compare yourself to anyone else.  YOU have to be ready to lose weight, make the changes and even find ways to get exercise in.  What works for someone else might not work for you!  It is a work in progress and something you will need to commit to for the rest of your life.  If you have NO medical issues now, try and fix this BEFORE you might possible need meds for conditions related to weigh loss such as type 2 diabetes, thyroid, blood pressure, cholesterol. etc.

Thank you Donna for sharing your inspiring weight loss progress and success with us!  I know you have been a true inspiration to me and I’m sure your story will inspire others.  You are proof positive that a healthy lifestyle CAN reverse the need for medications!  Keep up the good work and I’m sure that you will reach your weight goals and that more medications will be eliminated/reduced!   

If you want to read more success stories you can read about David and his flight to health!

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Diet versus Exercise

The weekend has passed and I feel pretty confident about my weekend efforts to lose weight and my quest for a healthy lifestyle.  While I did splurge a bit, I feel confident with what I ate and the amounts that I ate.   It was hot outside but I managed to get out there and be a active also with some running.  As is many times the case, my brain went into overdrive during one run to bring me clarity about my actions and beliefs about exercise versus diet. 

Food is lost in the kitchen and not the gym!

Yesterday morning I posted David’s success story right before I went out for a run.  So it was natural that my thoughts went to that post during my run. Most specifically my thoughts focused on the fact that he achieved his goal with little or no exercise. This in itself was not surprising, after all I’ve written on here many times (or at least included a meme) about how exercise will not negate a bad diet. What was interesting about my thoughts on this run were the depth and direction that these thoughts took.  I was running and my first thought was, “why am I putting myself through this ‘torture’ if it’s not really where the weight loss is happening?”  Exercise is not something I regularly crave!  So why?  I immediately had my answer.  There were a few answers.  

**The first reason is that the exercise gives me the wiggle room in my eating routine to have a wee tiny splurge and not be so regimented and militant about my calorie count.  I still need to watch my intake of food. But I don’t worry as much about making sure I measure every drop of ketchup that I put on a burger or that every dollop of cream cheese I add to a chicken enchilada is exactly one tablespoon.   

** The next reason is simply because I like the euphoric feeling I get at the end.  It’s a sense of pride.  I pushed my body to do something and I did it.  I might hate every second of the actual run....but I like the exhilaration of being finished.

** The third  reason and possibly the most important reason that became clear to me during my run? I’m doing it to make my body strong.   When my beloved Zumba ended it took about a year but I saw a dramatic decrease in my fitness levels!  When I wasn’t running as much I saw another dip in what my body was able to do.  A random hike became difficult.  An occasional bike ride became brutal. I could see how my body changed and I didn’t like it.    I want a strong body!  I want to be able to do things, flourish and thrive in this thing called life for as long as possible.  Exercise helps make my body strong and more capable!  The extra bonus for being more physically fit... It helps tone up and eliminate the gives a body cleaner and leaner lines.  

Exercise?  Sounds like a no brainer to me...

Heat wave running
I got outside this weekend for some running.  It was hot! But I did it!

 On Saturday,  I made my normal lap, and even added the extra section to make it a bit longer.  (But was still short of what I was hoping for!). Have I mentioned how hot it was?

By the time I got back to our place I was really in need of some water.  Like, dangerously in need!  As I sat on the couch downing a bottle of water, Jason casually remarked, “I should have asked you to run by Giant (grocery store) and run in to grab me a caffeine drink while you we’re out.”    That sounds crazy but a half mile down the road there is a grocery store and I actually was somewhat near the store when I was out and about.  I thought for a few seconds and laced back on my shoes. The water had totally revived me and I felt good.   Why not do a quick mile...if I felt good I could run...but if I didn’t I could walk.  (Jason tried to tell me not to go but I was all in!!)   I ran to the store....literally.
On the way back though I did more walking than running.  

I didn’t let my double run on Saturday deter me from a run on Sunday.   It was still hotter than blue blazes, but out I went.   And I added even more into the loop that I’ve been running.  

Did I mention it was hot?  I did walk most of the last half was hot!

My take away from running is that I need to sit back and just run.  I need to stop thinking about the distance I used to run.  I need to stop thinking about the pace I used to run.  I need to just run the best I can at the point that I am at right now and be happy that my body allows me to accomplish that!

Eating and Diet

As I said at the beginning of this post, I feel like I did pretty good with my food.  My intake has been roughly right at 1300 calories.  I have fit in a splurge, I have made it work for me.  My calories through the weekend remained in line. The top graph shows my actual calorie count.  You can see that Sunday was a bit high (right at or right above my high end in the range of calories..1500).  The green graph accounts for exercise added in.  I feel pretty good about it all.  My weight stayed exactly the same..and for a weekend with splurges that is awesome in my book.  

Fun Stuff
Have I mentioned that it was hot?  We did our errands and just relaxed on Saturday.   On Sunday we relaxed and ran a few more errands.  I printed some copies of some writing that I have done that hopefully will someday be a book. (Yeah, I sooo need to buy a printer...and I almost bought one on Saturday, but remember I’m saving for a bike!) and we hit up some antique shops.  This feathery hat is sooo me...maybe I should go back and buy it! 

Ok, maybe I’ll leave this one there on the rack!  We also hit up a trail outfitters store.  That was enough heat for us.   We headed for home to watch movies in our the nice air conditioned place. 

We blinked and the weekend was over!  But I believe it was a totally successful weekend.  I managed to find balance with my eating.  I managed to get in some running.  I even managed to have some deep thoughts about what exercise means to me.  I don’t want the weekend to end, but at least this week I have off on Wednesday for the Fourth of July!