Weighty Matters

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Candy Holidays

It was my first full day with my new Fitbit. (Thanks for telling me about this, Susanne!) I logged 7800 steps in a fairly normal day that included a short dog walk in the morning and a longer one this evening. Of course I’d hoped to hit 10,000 steps but, realistically, I know that I had to spend a lot of time at my desk working today. Even realizing that fact, my mind churns with ideas on how I can hit the 10K step goal every day. Naturally, if I’d had a Zumba class I would have gone beyond the mark. So, I guess I should feel pretty good about coming close on a day that didn’t include a lot of exercise time. I’m strategizing of course. I can get up earlier and take the dogs for a longer morning walk. I can definitely get up from my desk at some point during the day and walk around the facility. That’s perfectly acceptable and really good for my head, too. Tomorrow is going to be a more active day at work because I have a media shoot in the morning. It will be interesting to see how the day’s count tallies. I’ll report on my results.

Tonight is Halloween. In the 9 or 10 years that I’ve been home here on Halloween, I think I’ve only had trick or treaters two or three nights. Yet, I dutifully buy a bag of candy. Oh, you know, last year I think I bought miniature boxes of raisins. I can’t remember and I didn’t post about it. This time of year in 2012 I was pretty wrapped up in anxiety over Superstorm Sandy — first when it brushed by us in the Keys and then when it attacked my home state of New Jersey.

Anyway, I bought a bag of candy, even though I knew I probably wouldn’t have kids knocking on the door. I couldn’t help myself. I was positive that if I didn’t have it in the house, there would be a sudden parade of costumed children coming to the house and leaving in disgust and disappointment. I don’t know why the thought of it concerned me so — it’s not like they would have been deprived of candy All. Night. Long. and I’d be personally responsible for the worst Halloween e-v-e-r — but I caved.

Now I have a big, bag of candy in the house and, of course, I’ve snacked on some of it. I’m calling a halt. My plan is to take it all into work and spread out the calories among my co-workers, but I still have to get through the night. Even though it’s cooled off some temperature-wise in Florida, it will get all melty if I put it in the car now. How’s this for a plan instead? Dump the candy from the bowl back into its bag; put that bag inside a plastic bag with handles so I can tie it closed; put bag in fridge. If I find myself weakening, at least I’ll have gotten the candy good and cold. Then I’ll put it into an insulated cooler with ice packs and put it in the car.

I’m fairly confident that I can defeat an urge to still eat candy in the time it would take me to go out to my car and get some.

Candy holidays suck for compulsive overeaters who really, really like chocolate sweets. Not only do they surround us with one of our drugs of choice which can screw us up physically and mentally, but they twist us up emotionally.

I’m sure Halloween was always a source of upset for my parents too. How hard it must have been to watch me, their overweight daughter, go out trick or treating with her friends, knowing she was collecting a pillowcase full of candy that she shouldn’t eat. We won’t even go into the challenge of finding me costumes. At a certain weight, those child outfits made of that shiny acetate material with plastic masks just don’t fit big kids.

So, factor in that I already hated everyone studying my food choices and making an issue of them, and you know that I was in a constant emotional tug-of-war. All I wanted was to have fun with my friends and just get to enjoy some damn chocolate like everyone else and not have it be such an issue.

Easter is another big candy holiday. We always got two Easter baskets — one from our folks and one from my Nana (Mom’s mom.) Both baskets were great and I give extra credit to Nana. She always went to this neighborhood, family-owned chocolate shop where they made their own goods and ordered each grandchild his or her favorite type of chocolate Easter egg. They were beautifully decorated and even had our first name’s piped on them. For the record, I preferred chocolate filled with butter cream. I think my brother was a coconut cream fan. I don’t remember Easter being as much of a candy stress-fest, however. Maybe because, even with the big egg and some chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, the overall haul of sweetness was less. We also spent a lot of time on the decorated Easter egg hunt. When I got a little older, my folks switched to one basket from Nana and they instead gave us each a different gift that they would hide for us. Most often, mine was a book. Even then, I loved books so I didn’t feel deprived by this change.

If I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, I tell myself that I would make homemade, healthier treats that would be delicious and welcomed by the little goblins. I love that image of myself smiling and offering the treat tray to kids at the door. In my little Halloween fantasy, the dogs wouldn’t go crazy every time someone knocked on the door and I’d watch the tykes wave and call out a chorus of “thank-yous” as they walked onto the next house. Oh, on my dream Halloween, nobody would be worried about whether I’d laced my homemade treats with razor blades or poison either.

I don’t live in that neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t modify my dream. Maybe next year I can still come up with a healthy treat that I can make and share with my co-workers. That way I’ll feel like I’m still participating in Halloween without contributing to an overbuzz of sugar.

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Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart

Thanks to Susanne for telling me about FitBit. Yes, I know I’m becoming a little bit of a fitness-tech geek with my apps and stuff. In my defense, not only do I find them helpful, but they’re fun! The FitBit should arrive tomorrow, thank you Amazon Prime, and I’m looking forward to finding out just how many steps I walk on an average day.

I was thinking about something on my bike ride tonight. (Seven miles after a full day at work and another MLD treatment.) A long time ago, probably 1980 or 1981, my family attempted a little intervention with me about my obesity. My brother, who stopped eating meat and started eating healthier when he went away to college in the early 70s, told me I was sedentary. I hotly protested! I mean, after all, I worked a full time job and was usually out with my friends dancing at the rock clubs four nights a week. I was a busy, busy girl!

Now I’ve grown to realize that busy does not mean active. Dancing in the clubs doesn’t come close to, say, an hour of Zumba which is full out fitness exercise in the form of dancing. Working a 40-50 hour a week job and adding on other responsibilities, memberships in organizations, and so on, all makes for a very busy life, but that doesn’t mean a fitness-based lifestyle.

I really wish I’d gotten this when I was younger. There’s an old proverb, one that’s been picked up for book titles and other things now, that says, “We grow too soon old and too late smart”. That about sums it up. I’m filled with gratitude that I smartened up.

It doesn’t mean that I’m immune to doing dumb things or making stupid choices, but I hit the mark more often than not. Figuring out that I can make flavorful food that isn’t loaded with fat, salt, and calories is another advancement. Did I talk over the weekend about roasting a chicken? Picking up a cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket is a great convenience, but there’s something to be said about roasting your own when you have time. After the bird was done, I picked off the meat and then plunked the carcass and drippings in water with veggies and herbs to make a yummy stock.

One thing I’ve discovered is that I enjoy inventing soups. Sometimes I just muse about different ingredients, adding and discarding choices in my head, then I think about how to add flavor in healthy ways. Tonight I attempted another soup experiment. To that homemade stock I added sautéed garlic, onions and carrots, then mixed in a small can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilis. Red lentils and sautéed kale went in next. Finally, for a bit more flavor without contributing too much fat, I stirred in some chorizo sausage. The results are delicious! Other than whatever sodium was in the tomatoes and chilis, I didn’t add any salt. The soup doesn’t need it. There are layers of flavor, with a small kick of heat from the chilis. It’s seriously yum. I have a decent sized container for myself at home, which I’ll probably divvy up into smaller portions to freeze. Even then, I had enough to fill another container to share with friends at work.

Active, healthier lifestyle. We might grow older but it’s never too late to grow smarter.

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Dieting Makes Us Dumber?

A couple of days ago, in my post about being done in by a cupcake, Hope posted a link to a NY Times article. Here it is: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/business/the-mental-strain-of-making-do-with-less.html.

The article talks about the mental stress of dieting, associating it with the psychology of scarcity. This scarcity mental strain also applies to other people, such as those who are poor. I won't go into the whole thing, but a couple of ideas really jumped out at me. Apparently there are studies that show that when we diet, the thoughts of food, obsessing about our food choices, trying to balance everything, even calorie or carb counting reduces our mental bandwidth. If I'm in a meeting and there's a big plate of donuts on the table, I can be so consumed with whether I can/should/could fit a donut in my plan, that I'm not paying as much attention as I should to the meeting. Diets have psychological as well as physiological impacts.

Less bandwidth makes it more difficult to make good choices — so dieting may make it harder to succeed at losing weight. How's that for a paradox?

One of the suggestions in the article was that the diets that require less thought, i.e. those with more restrictions on what foods are allowed or not, fewer choices, etc. sap less bandwidth and are, therefore easier to stick to.

I can get behind that theory. Prior to weight loss surgery, my most successful weight loss (about 103 lbs) came on a program on which I ate only 9 ounces of protein and a cup of salad a day. It was medically supervised with three visits per week to the clinic and monthly doctor's checks. Any time I tried one of the really strict popular plans, like ones in which I only drank meal replacement shakes, I did great for the time that I was on it. Once I went off, of course, the weight came back on, but those diets were easier at the time than one in which I had to figure out every meal, calculate points, count calories, etc.

This is partly why I'm continuing with my plan to be more restrictive. I did pretty well last week. For this week, I'm sticking with full liquids for breakfast and lunch with a more solid protein and some veggies at dinner. I sometimes just feel the need to chew. 🙂

If you get a chance to read the article, please do. I'll be interested in knowing what you think!

P.S.
Happy 450th blog post to Weighty Matters! Thanks for keeping me company.

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Lapping the Couch

That post name reads funny, doesn’t it? I don’t mean I’m sitting here licking my sofa. The name was inspired by a captioned photo I saw on a friend’s Facebook page today. The picture was of an obese man jogging. Even in a still image, you could tell he was sort of shuffling along. The caption read: It doesn’t matter how slow you go, you’re still lapping the person on the couch.

I think that’s a wonderful reminder for anybody who is out of shape and overweight but who wants to change. If you’re like I was before surgery, when walking more than a few blocks made me gasp, longer walks made me hurt, and I had to use the stair railing to help myself get up steps, it can be incredibly daunting to take even the first small steps toward exercise.

After my surgery, I didn’t have much energy. Because of the operation, I tired easily. However, the medical staff told me to get up and walk every day. Actually, I was up and walking with company down the hall of the hospital a couple of hours after I was in the room from recovery. That must have been quite the sight as I wheeled my IV pole along with me. At least it was a bariatric specialty floor so the hospital gown really did go all around my body to keep me from flashing anyone. Maybe I didn’t walk far the first couple of trips that day, but I walked. Each time, I walked a little further.

Same thing when I got home. Although I rested and recuperated a lot, I made sure to also walk a couple of times a day, each time going a little further.

As my body recovered and the weight dropped off, my strength, endurance and overall ability increased. You know the rest. Now I can do long bike rides or walks, an hour of Zumba, Tai Chi and pretty much anything else I want to try. It happens — but it all starts with the first few steps.

It doesn’t matter how fast you move as long as you move. Every step and moment of motion is an improvement over the minutes that we spend flopped in our chairs or on our couches. I find this enormously encouraging and motivating.

Sometimes the mental blocks are as hard, or harder, to overcome than the physical challenge. Every once in a while, my lazy brain wants to kick in again and give me reasons why I don’t have to exercise, why it would be too difficult or even why it’s okay to skip it. This morning, for example, the wind was blowing pretty hard. I knew that no matter what direction I went, at some point I’d have to pedal against a 15-20 mph wind. I could have stayed home but I’d committed to getting in a longer ride today. I decided to suck it up and go.

I rode east, into the wind when starting out, thinking it was better to do the harder part when my legs were their freshest. The first two miles were difficult, but I pumped along and got to the beach road where I turned south. That was an easier direction for the next two miles and a very pretty path with glimpses of sparkling water and a lovely sunshine but cooler temperatures. I reached the beach, stopped for a good guzzle of water, and then turned around. Whew boy, did the challenge ever begin as I headed right into the northeast wind!

Usually, I ride on the toughest gear, figuring that gives my legs the best workout. I have to admit that with the wind in my face, I needed to turn down a couple of notches so that I could maintain a decent pace. As I pumped and pedaled, wheeling along the beach rode, I realized that I was smiling. Sure, I’m never going to reach the speeds of the Tour de France, but it doesn’t matter. At least I’m pedaling on a regular basis.

The first weekend that I got the bike, I ran into some long distance bikers on my way home from my first ride. We chatted for a few minutes and I shared that I was only just starting out riding a bike after many years and I hoped it would aid me in my overall weight loss efforts.

The man told me that if I kept at it, I would succeed. He also said that the speed didn’t matter as much as the duration of my rides. After seeing the picture online today, I’m taking what he said to heart. Regardless of how fast, or how slow, I go, I’m still accomplishing more than I would by doing nothing.

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Enjoying My Body

Day one of the Taking Care of Me weekend is drawing to a close and I feel terrific. This was a very body-oriented day. I started with a 15 minute dog walk and then progressed to a two mile bike ride to get myself to Tai Chi class. In Tai Chi, students aren’t always moving. We spend small chunks of time observing while the instructor demonstrates. MyFitnessApp allows me to start, pause, and then restart a workout. I’ve done that a few times in class and found that we students are generally doing Tai Chi for about half the time that we’re in class, factoring in instructor demo and the break. So, today I logged 40 minutes. I then got back on the bike to continue up to the store for some errands before turning around and riding home.

My body felt stretched, relaxed, and energized all at the same time. There wasn’t a part of me that didn’t feel great!

After a shower and yogurt lunch, I headed out in the car this time for a facial and a body treatment. My esthetician/friend gives terrific service. I take good care of my skin every day, but there is something about a facial that makes me glow inside and out. The body treatment was something new to me – manual lymphatic drainage. It wasn’t a massage, but for 50 minutes, she used light, repetitive strokes to work my lymphatic system. Ever hear of this? I hadn’t until she studied it to get certified. Here’s a little information about the practice and what it’s supposed to support:

What are the benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage?Manual Lymphatic Drainage stimulates the lymphatics system that will rid the body of waste material, promote healing and boost the immune system. It has a calming effect on both the mind and the body giving you a complete sense of wellness after each treatment. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is also proven to assist in weight loss and detoxing regimes.

Promotes the healing of fractures, torn ligaments, sprains and lessens pain.
Improves many chronic conditions: sinusitus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, acne and other skin conditions.
Strengthens your immune system.
Relieves fluid congestion: swollen ankles, tired puffy eyes and swollen legs due to pregnancy.
Effective component in the treatment and control of lymphoedema and assists in conditions arising from venous insufficiency.
Promotes healing of wounds and burns and improves the appearance of old scars.
Minimises or reduces stretch marks.

It remains to be seen whether I will see these benefits, but the treatment itself feels wonderful. I definitely experienced that whole calming effect on the mind and body and complete sense of wellness. The recommendation is to have three treatments in a short period of time and then one every quarter after. I decided to invest the money to follow the recommendation which means I have additional sessions twice more this coming week.

I would love-love-love it if this helped me with my weight loss efforts, but even if it doesn’t, I find benefit in just feeling so good. I took advantage of nice weather to take the dogs out for another walk. We put in a good thirty minutes, maybe a little longer. Not only do they enjoy the experience, but it relaxes them too. That’s why they’re both sacked out on the floor on either side of my chair right now.

I’m sort of watching the World Series while I write this post. I’m considering ending what has already been a good day by relaxing in the tub for a while before bed. All in all, my body is very happy tonight and I’m enjoying it.

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Taking Care of Me

Before I get into the topic, I have to share about something sort of strange that happened yesterday. There’s a nice older gentleman who spends a few weeks in the Keys each fall and volunteers where I work. He just got back into town and yesterday was the first that I’ve seen him. I hugged him and welcomed him back, asked how he and his wife have been and so on. He then looked at me and rather hesitantly asked how I am doing, with this expressive hand motion that indicated my changed body. He said that he wasn’t sure how to ask but hoped that all was well.

I realized then that he didn’t know whether I’d lost so much weight on purpose or because I had some sort of illness or bad condition. Friends, this has never happened to me before. I’ve never considered that someone might wonder if I’d been horrible sick. Thankfully, I was able to quickly reassure him and he was, naturally, relieved and happy for me.

So on to the rest of the post. I’m doing well with my food plan which does wonders to stabilize my mind and emotions while getting some pounds off. It isn’t the full liquids so much as getting back into the “don’t compulsively or impulsively grab for food” routine that’s making the whole plan work. Weekends are sometimes more challenging, but I’m psyching myself up to continue on track.

I’m focused on taking care of me. One of my roles in my life has been that of caregiver/caretaker. Funny how they sound like they should be opposite things but mean pretty much the same. I give care to others. I take care of others, but often don’t take care of or for myself. Being a caregiver or fixer is pretty common among children of alcoholics or addicts. I think I fell into the role even before Mom’s drinking tipped (tippled?) over into a disease. Natural course of events, actually, since both of my parents were caregivers by profession – Dad a doctor and Mom a nurse. Add in that one of my grandparents was frequently ill which meant that both would move in with us for awhile, and I helped out with their care.

I’ve almost always been calm, steady and effective in times of crisis too. This is not bad. None of it is, actually. There are worst traits to have than to be someone who can provide care and help to others, particularly loved ones. The down side though is that, when you’re young, you shouldn’t always have to be the caregiver. Someone should be helping to take care of you.

Providing care for myself is something that I’ve had to work on. I’ve learned a great deal gradually over the years and then really gained a chunk of experience with it over the last two years as I began all the steps and actions necessary for the weight loss surgery. Then, of course, I’ve had to continue the strong self-care in the many months since.

One of the challenges is recognizing when I need to lavish a little extra care and then doing it. Sometime mid-week I realized that I was feeling pulled in many directions, stressed, and overtired. It came to me that I really needed to step back from the demands of a busy life and schedule some me time. Originally, I was supposed to go to a Zumba event tomorrow, held about an hour away. I changed that plan in favor of staying closer to home. I even went to a Zumba master class here in town for a while tonight. I’ll do my Tai Chi class in the morning and made an appointment for a facial and a treatment called manual lymph drainage. Never had one before but it’s supposed to be beneficial, so I’ll give it a try.

The wind is supposed to stay high and gusty all weekend which means no boating. Windy or not, I will make time for a couple of long bike rides because the exercise makes me feel terrific physically and mentally. On Sunday I’m going in for another dolphin swim. There has never been a time that swimming with some of our dolphin family hasn’t brought me joy. I’m going to make the most of the opportunity.

The next work week will come soon enough. I’m going to make the most of my days off. In keeping with that attitude, I think I’ll go enjoy a nice soak in a hot, scented bath. After all, there’s no harm in the rest of the evening being all about me!

What’s on your weekend agenda? How are you taking care of you?

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Done in by a Cupcake

Day Two is over and I broke my abstinence. Right now I’ve defined my abstinence as eating only what I plan to consume and not giving into food impulses that lead me to compulsively eat.

I was doing okay until after lunch when a co-worker came into my office and told me that the company that designed our new website sent us cupcakes as thanks for continuing our association via a service contract. Since I do a lot with the website, she wanted to make sure I got one before they were all gone.

There was plenty of time and space between my office and the kitchen when I could have stopped myself. I could have smiled and said, “No thank you.” I absolutely did not have to get up from my chair and go into the kitchen, take the cupcakes out of the fridge, grab one and take it back to my office. Right up until the moments when I ate the damn thing I could have said no. But I didn’t.

Sounds pretty damned lame of me, doesn’t it? No, it’s okay for you to agree. It WAS lame. I’m stronger than the cupcake and the urges. That said, there are also way too many times when I just want to have the cupcake and not have it be a major issue.

Can you tell that I sometimes have issues about my issues? I resent my compulsive overeating disease. It pisses me off that I have it with all the accompanying negative emotional stuff and physical impacts that come with it. Part of me wants to go outside right now and scream into the night, “IT WAS ONLY A FREAKING CUPCAKE!!!”

Whew. Okay. Rant over. Now let’s look at the facts. I had a cupcake with icing. It wasn’t the biggest cupcake in the world. I looked at a bunch of different cupcake ratings online which ranged in calorie counts from 150 to 450. I’m going to rate this at a solid 280 calories with 16 grams of carbohydrates and 40 grams of sugar. (I’m pretty sure that I’m over estimating but I’d rather do that than underestimate.)

I logged everything into MyFitnessPal. Even with the cupcake putting me far over the daily sugar grams, I was so good with every other thing that I ate today that I’m still below my carb and fat allotment and good on my total calorie intake for the day. Between riding my bike and Tai Chi class, I also burned about 400 calories. Overall, it could have been a lot worse.

The real damage is to my emotions. I haven’t quite tipped over into sackcloth and ashes over the lapse. Mostly I’m ticked off at myself. In the comments of yesterday’s post, Cathy talked about my desire to be healthy being stronger than the food. I wish I could say that was the case all of the time. It was yesterday. Today, there were a few moments when I ignored the desire to be healthy. It happens. It sucks. I need to put it aside now and move on.

I’m happy that I didn’t let it trash the rest of my effort for the day and night. Hopefully this will help me set myself up for a successful day tomorrow. I will not let a single cupcake derail me permanently. That is all.

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The Impulse to Eat

It’s 9 p.m. on the first day of my seven day reboot and I’ve had a good day. I stuck to the plan and did not deviate with compulsive eating. Protein smoothies, yummy organic soups, a sugar free cherry ice. Everything was delicious but to quote a saying from OA, nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels. I also enjoyed some green tea and kept hydrated with water throughout the day.

I picked up the pups from the boarding facility after work and spent time playing with them at home. After feeding them, it was still such a lovely evening that I set out for a bike ride. I logged between eight and nine miles. All told, right now I feel pretty good for the day.

Do any of you use the MyFitnessPal app? I hadn’t logged my food for awhile and recently downloaded an update. Love the improvements! I am particularly fond of the scanner that reads the bar code on products and gives me the nutritional data. So much more convenient than having to input the numbers myself or scroll through the database.

Even though I had a successful day, I won’t say that sticking to my abstinence and plan was a slam dunk. I was very aware of how easily the impulse to eat catches my attention. For example, someone left the rest of a bag of granola in the kitchen in the “If it’s here, it’s up for grabs” location. I went into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, saw the bag of granola and reached for it. My response was that automatic. Thankfully, I stopped myself, got the hot water I wanted, and left the room.

I don’t know how many times throughout the day that I get food impulses, but I know it happens a lot. It sort of sucks, to be honest. Part of the struggle is armoring myself against the thoughts. These aren’t the same things as physical urges I used to experience when I was in the process of quitting smoking. I wish they were. One of the most effective pieces of information I gained during the smoking cessation programs was that there is a timeline to the physical urge for nicotine. More importantly, that urge will pass whether or not you smoke. The whole arc lasts about 10 minutes, but if you make it through the peak when the urge is strongest, the desire will ease. (Side note: I’m approaching my 27th anniversary of quitting smoking. Booyah!)

Unfortunately, the food obsession doesn’t behave in the same way, so I work on other methods like redirecting my attention, distracting myself with another activity, substituting something else like a drink of water or tea, or just trying to ignore the urges. The practice of just saying no also comes into play.

Today, I was successful. I hope that success breeds more success. It might happen one impulse at a time to build one day at a time, but I’m ready to give it all my best shot again tomorrow.

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Putting Myself Under a Microscope

Sorry if it looked liked I dropped off the face of the Earth. I was away for a family wedding and, for some reason, it felt like I shouldn’t post publically that I was going to be away from home. I had a wonderful time seeing my aunt and cousins for a happy event. The last two times we were together were for my uncle’s memorial and then my cousin’s. This was the wedding of that cousin’s younger daughter and I was very pleased to be invited and to be able to go.

The family was equally happy to see me. It was fun for them to see me in that new blue dress, 110 pounds thinner than the last time. Not only were we able to spend time with each other at the wedding and reception, but I took today off from work so that I could stay up with them all day yesterday. Good times, for sure.

I did a lot of thinking on the flights up and back. I have some emotional crap going on. It might not be the best time for me to process it here on the blog after a long day of travel. You know how little kids can go-go-go-go-go and then suddenly run out of steam and turn into whining, crying, cranky beasts? That’s how I feel right now. Still, it’s all on my mind so I might as well spew it out.

I think I’ve been fooling myself. Even on the days that I’ve thought I was adhering to my food plan, I think I’m veering off of the mark. I haven’t been as strict and careful as I should be and I’ve ignored that I’ve allowed myself a lot of little variations here and there. Those little missteps add up in more calories and carbs. Even a healthy fruit smoothie, when made wrong, can have too many calories. A small treat that I let myself have every day ceases to be an occasional indulgence and certainly is no longer either small or a treat. It becomes like a big rock on a rail that makes the train jump the track.

Calling it for what it is, I’ve been in denial. Instead of sticking with a plan and eating pattern that would keep me losing, I’ve shifted myself enough to be in maintenance mode. I don’t binge on quantity and keep up enough activity that I don’t gain. At least that’s something.

So, I’m putting myself and my eating under a microscope and getting tough. This is not the time for a gray-area abstinence. I need some black and white reality. On the flight home, I decided to put myself on a one week plan of full liquids — which was pretty much the plan for the two weeks before I had surgery. This means protein drinks, smoothies (but not overloaded with too much fruit!), Greek yogurt, and cream soups and broths. Sugar free gelatin and popsicles. Minimum of 80 ounces of water. That’s all. I can do this and stick to my need to take in some nutrition about every three hours.

I want to be clear that this is not a crash diet to try to lose as many pounds as possible in a week. For me, doing this reestablishes my mental discipline. By strictly defining my options — full liquids — I cut out the opportunity to gray the area or blur the lines.

The plan sounds crazy restrictive, but there is ample flavor variety. I’ll have the full amount of necessary protein but keep the number of carbs low. By not eating outside of my designated “meals” at the right times, I also omit extra snacking. With the right nutritional balance, I’ll also retain my energy levels. By sticking to the plan, each day I also rebuild some mental and emotional strength. Any weight I lose will be a bonus.

I promise to check in each day and let you know how it’s going. It will be helpful for me to have the support too. Please wish me success!

Before I end the post, I want to share a couple of positive things from the weekend that I forgot to mention at the beginning. Yesterday, I dressed in a pair of new jeans – size 16W! Looked pretty darn good in them too, I’m happy to say. Today, when I took my seat on the plane and buckled up, I thought of all of the years that I had to ask the flight attendants for a seatbelt extender. This inspired me to take a photo. I buckled the belt at its biggest to show the gap between my body (in a tan shirt) and that belt. Even knowing how much weight and how many inches I’ve lost, it’s hard to fathom that I’ve gone from not being able to buckle the belt around my body to this:

Airplane seatbelt

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Things Not to Worry About

I’m taking a trip soon. I’m looking forward to it without even a moment of internal whining about the physical discomfort and mental stress. I really like how much less stress I have in my life. Losing weight took off a load in more ways than one.

Here are just a couple of things that I don’t need to worry about any more. The next flight won’t be the one where an airline attendant tells me I need to buy a second seat. It won’t matter if, somehow, every seat belt extender on the plane is missing. I don’t need one. I won’t horrify the person in the middle seat if I squeeze into their aisle. When I pick up my rental car, I know I’ll be able to buckle the seat belt. It won’t matter if the chairs at the reception are sturdy metal, wooden fold-ups or outdoor resin plastic. They won’t break beneath my weight. I won’t see concern or barely-hidden shock on my family members’ faces. Any surprise I see will be the good kind. I haven’t seen them since a couple of months after my surgery. I’ve lost more than 110 pounds since that time.

Just those few changes make travel even more enjoyable. I can focus on the anticipated joy of seeing family and enjoying a happy occasion. Yes, I had fun even when at my heaviest, but it was always diluted to some extent by the ever present awareness of my hugeness and anticipation of difficulties to overcome.

Today, I’m grateful for undiluted happiness and releasing the worry about so many things.

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