Weighty Matters

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Hello! It’s Me.

on February 28, 2016

Thank you so much for missing me, folks!  I’m so sorry that I went MIA for the beginning of 2016.  After my last post on New Year’s Eve, I feel like I hit the ground zooming at warp speed for the first two weeks.  Those first 14 days were completely wrapped up in several work projects that required maximum attention, focus, and extra hours.  I usually write my posts at night after dinner but there were so many nights where I was barely capable of babbling to my dog I was so tired.  Composing my thoughts and putting them into a coherent thought? Totally beyond my abilities.

The second two weeks of January I traded the stress of work for a fabulous vacation in Hawaii.  But even before I jetted west, I began the time off with a great Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood concert in Sunrise and a night in NYC to see Les Miserables.  (I planned that Broadway trip specifically to see the amazing Welsh tenor Alfie Boe perform as ValJean.  Unfortunately, he got sick and didn’t appear, but we still had a great time.)

The very next day, my friend and I boarded the plane to really start the vacay.   You know, so many times you put strong focus on what you’ll do and what you want that you can really build up super high expectations.  It’s not surprising that very often the reality falls short.

I’m delighted to say that didn’t happen to us.  Hawaii was everything that we’d dreamed up, hoped for, and planned about.  Highlights included doing a night snorkel to see giant manta rays, more snorkeling and whale watching, hiking some parks and just enjoying ourselves and relaxing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.  I love, love, love Hawaii and can easily see myself visiting and exploring the state every few years, if I can arrange the time and finances.  Sometime several years in the future after I retire, I’d like to spend most of a winter there.  Maybe I’ll get a temporary job as a naturalist on a whale watching boat!

Once we returned from Hawaii, I barely had time to do laundry and catch up at work before repacking for a week in Mexico for an industry meeting.  Very brain intensive and busy with long days of meetings, but the facilities who were close to the meeting hotel were wonderful hosts and arranged some fun evenings.  My boss and I also extended our trip by a day just so we could relax a little after the busy week and we had a chance to do something special.

I’ve been home now for two weeks and I think… think… that I’m caught up.  Even though one trip was vacation, being away three out of four weeks took me out of myself.  I’ve needed some time to decompress, readjust, and reconnect with my life.  I believe I’ve accomplished that now.

Amid the jetting around, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and studying on myself, my health, and my recovery.  One thing that I have noticed is a definite increase in pain and stiffness in my problem knee – the right one.  Even with my dedicated rowing exercises and other fitness activities, it is definitely weaker and less steady than my left knee.

Although I have not gained weight since September, I haven’t lost any either.  Maintaining is more positive, but it isn’t enough for me.

I am hungry for good health and determined to optimize my physical condition.  There have been times in recent weeks when I was almost resigning myself to going back to the orthopedic specialist to discuss whether it’s time for a knee replacement.

Fortunately, I big dose of truthiness hit me.  I cannot appropriately assess the condition and future capability of my knee until I take off the 50 pounds I’ve been wanting to shed.  According to a Harvard Medical article, the force on your knees when walking on level ground is roughly 1 1/2 times your body weight.  (More force when going up an incline like stairs.)  So, someone who weights 200 pounds puts 300 pounds of pressure on his or her knees.  Even a 20 pound weight loss would reduce that pressure by 30 pounds and so on.  If I lose 50 pounds, I’m reducing the impact on my knees by 75 pounds!  That’s a big improvement.  I can practically hear my knee joints begging, “Yes please.  Do it.”

As we know, losing weight is not easy, even for those of us who have had weight loss surgery.  I’ve realized for a while that years of an eating disorder have screwed up my metabolism.  However, I’m accustomed to seeing results when I follow a plan.

I am not seeing those results, which absolutely ramps up my frustration and increases the difficulty I have in remaining on a plan.  It is very confusing.

However, I have hope.  In January, I heard about a book called Always Hungry? by a well known endocrinologist, researcher and professor of nutrition at Harvard.  I started reading about it and then bought the book to read in depth what this doctor had to say.  When he talked about how many traditional approaches to weight loss end up confusing our bodies and triggering the exact opposite reaction in our fat cells than what we want, he did it in such a way that it made sense.  At risk of oversimplying, he advocates cutting way back on processed carbohydrates (particularly white flour/non whole grains, white sugar, white potatoes, and those families of foods), saying yes to whole fats and healthy fats, going for lower glycemic load, not just glycemic index, and not drastically restricting calories.  He claims that with his approach, one can conquer cravings, retrain fat cells and efficiently lose weight.

Disclaimer:  That really is a vast oversimplification of the doctor’s ideas, which he has based on research, studies and experience.  I truly don’t want to do him an injustice.  Please, if interested, go read up about it yourself, okay?

So, Dr. Ludwig said a lot that I found interesting.  I freely admit that he also won a great deal of my interest when he made the differentiation between the white bread/white potatoes/white pasta/white rice type of carbohydrates and carbs found in beans, legumes, fruit and some other veggies.  When he said that eating good quality dark chocolate  was not a diet sin, I wanted to applaud.

Anyway, after studying the book and his plan, I’ve decided to give it a try.  I just finished the seven day preparation phase.  I did a massive clean out of my pantry and refrigerator.  Not that they were loaded with inappropriate foods, but there were some in there.  I actually found a lot more items that needed to get tossed because I’d gone way past their expiration dates. Armed with the extensive shopping list, I loaded up lots of ingredients to prepare the recipes that the doctor includes in his book.

I have to admit that it feels a little strange to buy whole milk, real cheese, and Greek yogurt that isn’t fat free.  Don’t get me wrong; the plan does not advocate eschewing bread but eating all of the bacon that I want.  He really is much more balanced.

The first two weeks are the most restrictive.  No grains, starchy vegetables, tropical fruits, high carb sweets and snack foods, and sugar except for the small amount in high quality 70% minimum cacao dark chocolate.  Every meal will have high quality protein, fat and acceptable carbs from non-tropical fruit or beans, legumes, etc.

I’m pretty psyched up for the effort.  For me, having the right attitude is so important.  I need the mental and emotional oomph to power through the physical effort.  I’m pretty confident in my ability to do this, one meal at a time.  Honestly, I’m less concerned about craving bread than I am about having to give up the sole packets of sweetener that I use in my cups of tea.

Lunch and snacks are all prepared and waiting in the fridge for the morning when I’ll put them into my lunch bag.  I have what I need to cook dinner for the next three nights, too.  I’m committed to following the eating plan and also doing the other things that he suggests, such as getting enough sleep, doing some stress relaxers each day, and so on.  I’ve even designated my “Big Why” amulet.  The doctor talks about identifying our Big Why – specific goals that are the motivation for losing the weight and changing our lives.  Right now, my Big Why is to be healthy and, more specifially, relieve knee pain.  My amulet is a bracelet that my good friend gave me that says “Strong is the New Skinny”.

When I want to reach for that Splenda packet, I’ll look at the bracelet again.

So… that pretty much sums up what’s been going on for me for the first two months of 2016.  I promise to keep you all posted on how things are going.  I hope that all of you are doing great.  Thanks for checking in!

(Folks, I tried to include some photos from my recent trips, but Chrome kept freezing on me and I gave up after three tries.  Sorry!)

 

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4 responses to “Hello! It’s Me.

  1. hoperoth says:

    I gave up Splenda a year or so and I haven’t missed it at all. It does mean that crappy coffee tastes really crappy, but it also means that good tea and coffee tastes better and has a more nuanced flavor.

    • Mary Stella says:

      I’m trying to give it up. Now that I can have a touch of honey, I’ll try that instead in my tea. (Particularly after the recent horror stories about Splenda.)

  2. Lynn says:

    There you are, world traveler. 🙂 I’m so glad to see you’re back to blogging. The trip to Hawaii sounds lovely.

  3. JulieR says:

    Welcome back!

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