Weighty Matters

Just another WordPress.com site

Portions and Balance

I can’t find the post from more than a year ago, but I remember talking about how much I loathe weighing and measuring my food. In my recent rejuvenated quest, I became willing to go to whatever lengths necessary to break through the stall and start losing weight again. As it happens, I chose a program that requires me to sort of measure what I’m going to eat.

I say sort of because there isn’t a fully written plan that specifies things like, “Eat 4 oz of lean protein, 1 cup of green beans, a quarter cup of whatever.” Instead, the plan came with brightly colored square containers in various sizes. The green container is for vegetable portions; purple for fruit; red for protein; yellow for starches; blue for some nuts and similar things; orange for certain seeds. The program provides a mathematical formula to figure out a target calorie range, depending on current weight. Then, depending on the range, it specifies how many portions of each classification of food one should eat. If you can cram it into the container and still snap on the lid, you can eat it.

In my case, I went with the lowest calorie range — 1200-1499 a day — since I know that’s sort of where my doctor wants me to hit and it’s akin to what I was eating, knowing that with exercise I’d net less. Since I don’t really have to look at measuring cups or spoons (except for oils) and I don’t have to weigh any foods, I don’t feel like I’m measuring.

I take my food to work with me in plastic containers anyway. That’s what I’m doing with these colored containers, but with the added benefit of automatic portion-size control. I don’t pack the containers full either, since I can’t handle that much food.

Where this colored-container program has really helped is in the area of seeing balance in my daily food intake. I thought I was balanced, but now can tell that I wasn’t to the degree that I should. For example, we hear a lot about a healthy diet including five servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Left to my own devices with that broad a description, I would be happy eating three fruits and two veggies — which means I take in more sugar, even natural sugar, then I probably should. This plan breaks it out into three veggies and two fruits, so by following it, I achieve a better balance.

After weight loss surgery, the emphasis was on many grams of protein a day. Protein was supposed to be the leading role in the program. I did that so well for so long. Somewhere along the line, I started to deviate a little. Instead of a quality, more dense protein snack in the mid-morning, I’d eat nuts, for example. Whatever happened, I realized this week that on most days I don’t eat the amount of protein that I should, or that my body needs. So, this week I made sure that my mid-morning snack included protein. I think this has already fostered some small improvement in my metabolism. Plus it must help my body recover and my muscles work and strengthen with the workouts. I still have trouble getting in four servings of protein, but I’m definitely a solid three every day.

I absolutely know that for a while I was eating too many empty carbs like breads or crackers. I really dropped those this week. I can have two servings, but it’s hard for me to incorporate them if I’m eating the veggies, fruits and proteins. At best I had some for taste but didn’t pack in a full size portion.

Lest you think I’m starving myself, trust me. I’m not. I make up most of the shortfall by spreading out my food intake over six meals. I know that while I’m in losing phase, my doctor’s okay with me eating 1000 calories a day. I find because I’m eating everything in balance, I physically feel really good. Better than I have in a while, and my system isn’t sluggish.

I’m also making a concentrated effort to up my hydration. I’m drinking plenty of water, but a few cups of green tea or a tasty detox tea.

So, this week, the attention I’ve paid to portions and balance, coupled with the 30 minutes of strong exercise every day (plus my daily Tai Chi and dog walks), paid off. As I edited to add in the post this morning, I lost 9 pounds in the week since I started this program. Some of it was flushing out “water weight”, but the rest sure wasn’t. I credit adhering to the program, eating clean, and working out.

It feels terrific and I’m looking forward to continuing next week.

1 Comment »

A Magic Motivational Switch

Over the decades, I frequently wished for a magic switch that I could flip on at will and trigger constant motivation to lose weight, exercise, live a healthier life. Any time I started out great guns on a new diet and did well, I felt like I’d flipped the switch. Unfortunately, it always eventually felt like the switch had gone down into the “Off” position and killed my motivation. I’d give up the positive efforts, regain the weight, etc. etc. etc. Soooo many times of ups and downs, losses and gains. Is it any wonder that my metabolism is probably a bit screwy?

Right now, I feel like my switch is on. It isn’t that these products I’m using for the cleanse and protein shakes have magical ingredients that trigger my success. I know it’s all about my attitude, coupled with my willingness and determination. I’m on Day Four of my 31 Day Challenge and I feel great. Physically I haven’t seen massive internal system changes or results from the cleanse (How’s that for tactful, non-graphic information.) although I’m down a couple of pounds since Sunday. The positive feelings are mental and emotional. I feel strong in my effort. I’m not white-knuckling the recovery which means that each day I’m finding it relatively easy to stay on track with the food plan. I’m not eating compulsively. I’m saying no to carbs like bread, potatoes, chips, and the like. I’m exercising. All of the last few days have transpired exactly as they should. This is how I achieved success for many, many, many months.

I am hopeful that this will continue. Actually, I’m determined to make it so. Thirty-one days of this will result in strong weight loss and great health build. I know this for a fact. The challenge is for me to keep the switch on and not be tempted to flip it off when I hit an emotional challenge. There’s no magic involved. It all comes down to me making the positive choices – every time a choice is presented.

Leave a comment »

Independence Day

Before I go out to join friends for dinner and then we all come back here to watch the city’s fireworks, I wanted to jump on and wish everyone a Happy Independence Day. I’ve had a wonderful day so far. My friends and I were off from work and had planned a couple of weeks ago to go out on my boat today.

I woke up to a perfect morning of sunny skies and a very light breeze. My three friends arrived and we loaded our cooler and snorkel gear onto my boat and headed out. I had a particular spot in mind, located in a marine sanctuary area, and we hoped to get onto a mooring ball. I’ve said before how much pleasure I get out of being on the water and captaining my boat. These particular friends hadn’t been out with me before. One is an experienced boater who goes all of the time with her husband. The other two are infrequently passengers on boats. All of us were game.

Luck and timing were with us. We arrived at the snorkel spot just as one of the commercial snorkel boats ended their morning trip so we latched onto the mooring ball that they gave up. The water was the near perfect temperature with excellent clarity. I think after we first went in we swam around for at least an hour. Good exercise. I’ll post some pictures at the end of this post but we saw colorful fish, beautiful corals and were right over a sea turtle! When we climbed back on board the boat for a snack we saw a dolphin in the distance! (No photos, alas.) After lunch, we jumped back in and snorkeled for about another half an hour.

At one point while I was swimming, I brought myself totally into the moment. I didn’t just look at the beauty around me, I tapped into how I physically felt. I noted the strength of my legs propelling me through the water and how strong I felt swimming event against the tide. I listened to my easy breathing. When it was time to get out, I felt the ease with which I navigated the boat ladder. Even before that, when loading things on, I’d smiled at how I no longer have difficulty climbing in and out of my boat.

This was how I celebrated my personal Independence Day on this 4th of July. I enjoyed my freedom from most of my excess weight and from struggling to do anything the least bit physical. I was free from worry and stress over whether I’d be able to do something – like climb out of the water up the ladder. Free from joint pain.

I was there as an independent woman who didn’t need anyone else to run her boat and take her out to do an activity. Instead, I was the woman who could take her friends out so that all of us could enjoy the time and experience together.

Thanks to my weight loss and increased physical fitness, I am so much healthier and stronger. I am liberated.

Here are some shots from our snorkeling excursion. Beautiful things to see under the sea!


Blue Parrot

Corals on structure

We're still debating whether it was a loggerhead or a hawksbill.  I'm not a good turtle identifier.

We’re still debating whether it was a loggerhead or a hawksbill. I’m not a good turtle identifier.


Apathy and Laziness

A long time ago, I shared the acronym H.A.L.T. It’s a caution that reminds me not to get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. (We 12 Steppers are big on helpful acronyms!) For the last couple of days, along with the uncharacteristic case of the blues, I’ve noticed that I’ve been particularly shoulder-shrugging-whatever about my efforts and downright lazy about my exercise.

Today I opted to amend the acronym to replace angry and lonely with apathy and laziness. The good news is that I had the realization while I was finally up off my ass, out of my chair, and out for a walk with Nat and Pyxi. I’ll bottom line it for myself. I have work to do. Always. The effort to be a healthy weight and create a life of health and fitness has not ended, nor will it. Ever. This is not something I can do for awhile, get where I want and then stop. It’s my life. I want it and I embrace it.

There are various theories about how long it takes to change a habit and forge a new one. I don’t think there is ever a set number of days or months. It’s more like it takes forever because the commitment to the new lifestyle habits has to be made every single day going forward. Diseased thinking and old habits that are comfortable even when they are ultimately destructive do not magically evaporate. They’re always around, lurking on the fringes, looking for an opening to reinsert into my life. Apathy and laziness are cracks in my foundation, the little openings through which the crappy behaviors can seep. If I don’t seal up those cracks and reinforce my core determination and the new foundation I’ve been building, enough disease can build up and completely screw me up.

I’ve talked before about determination and the need for vigilance. This post is another reminder to myself. Recovery is not an event. It’s a process.

I feel better today. Just having gotten up and gone out for a longer walk than I’ve done since the beginning of the week helps my mindset. It’s a counter-measure to the laziness. Thinking about this, writing about it, and connecting with my determination beats back the apathy. I have the tools. I know what to do. I’m putting on the brakes, calling H.A.L.T. and continuing my journey.


Taking You to Funk-ytown

That title contains a little bit of a local joke. A little bit across the water from my house is a house on a point of land. The people that own it fixed up the outdoor area with a little dance floor and sound system. Quite often music drifts out over the harbor – classic rock, old country, their tastes are varied. They also like to occasionally pump up the jam with disco and other dance music to which they also often sing. If you can call the caterwauling singing. Seriously, it’s the worst karaoke ever to the point where it’s laughable if you have a sense of humor or reason to call the deputies and invoke the late night noise ordinance if your ears can’t take it. The woman is particularly fond of shrieking along to, “Won’t you take me to Funkytown?” That was never the most melodious tune and it’s nine-fighting-cats-in-heat bad when she takes the microphone.

My Funk-ytown is different as in, I’m in a funk and have been for days. I thought I would be finished with just a one day buzz crash, but emotionally, physically, and food-wise, I’ve had a rough week. Put all three of those aspects on a downturn at the same time and they feed each other, which only makes me feel worse. Then it wipes me out so that I not only feel bad, I’m exhausted. Last night I was so tired that I fell asleep in my chair sometime after 9 p.m., woke up as Scandal was starting and was so muzzy-brained that I just turned off the television and crawled into bed. I woke up a couple of times in the night but fell right back asleep. Even with enough hours of sleep time logged, when my alarm went off at 6 a.m., I absolutely did not want to get up and go for a walk or bike ride. So I didn’t. I watched the DVR recording of Scandal instead. To digress a moment, if you’re a fan of the show like I am, allow me to virtually shriek, “OMG!! Cyrus is soulless!”

Anyway, there’s tiredness where I don’t feel like I can get enough sleep. Sluggishness from not exercising. Add in stress over a situation at work. Mix in some extra achyness — probably from being tired and holding onto stress. It all has the effect of stirring up my hunger. Big time. Around lunch, I was absolutely ravenous.

That alone is very strange. I usually only feel hungry when it’s appropriate for me to feel so, as in enough hours have passed since I ate something that the right amount of hunger signals me that it’s time for me to eat. Ever since my surgery, I don’t really feel severe hunger and certainly never the, “I could eat a small pony” degree.

This tells me that the, “Oh my goodness, I am STARVING” experience wasn’t physical hunger — at least not all of it. I think it was a bit of actual hunger dramatically magnified by my emotions. I then fed the anxiousness with lots of negative emotions and thoughts. Things like, “You’re eating off plan and you deliberately didn’t exercise. OMG, you’re relapsing. Your motivation is gone. You’re going to gain back all of your weight!!!!”

I don’t 100% know for sure what’s going on with me that I’m having all this emotional reaction and eating. What I’m trying to do to combat is to be aware of what I’m feeling and experiencing and sort out the truth from the disease thinking and acting. I remind myself that there are bound to be highs and lows on this journey. I don’t need to be perfect all of the time. I just need to strive for doing as best I can. I need to observe what’s going on around me, understand how it affects me and how often I let it affect my choices and behavior. Above all, I need to tell myself that this is a setback, not a road block. It’s a challenging time but it isn’t going to wreck me and screw up all of the fabulous progress I’ve made and success I’ve achieved.

I might visit Funkytown, but I’m not going to take up residence.

There’s probably more I can write on this topic and, certainly, more to explore. Unfortunately, no lie, I nodded off while typing a few sentences back. The sleepiness is upon me again so it’s time for me to listen to my brain and body and go to bed.


Own Your Awesome

Years ago in OA, I learned that binge can be an acronym for B.elieving I.’m N.ot G.ood E.nough. That perfectly applied to me. I had lousy self-esteem and, as I’ve discussed here before, never really felt like anything I did or accomplished was good enough. Nothing was as good as it could have or should have been. I wasn’t smart enough or charming enough; my personality and persona weren’t attractive or nice or funny enough. I was obese so, naturally, I wasn’t pretty enough. The answer I never quite figured out was the comparison point, the yardstick against which I unceasingly measured myself and decided I was lacking.

It took me a long, long, freaking-long time to accept that I’m not just good enough, I am more than good enough. In fact, I am capable of being absolutely awesome.

Okay, I just fought a little battle with myself over that last sentence. I wondered whether I should delete it or leave it. Since you read it, you know which choice won — and that’s the whole point of this blog post.

I need to own my awesome. Everybody does, but this blog is about me. For now anyway. I’ll get to the rest of you in a minute. 🙂

Today I was able to finish the project that’s been driving me nuts and causing me stress for the last couple of weeks. This was outside my normal job responsibilities but our president asked me to take it on for our national organization because it needed to be done and done well. She asked me to do the project because she knows I’m awesome and would get it done. For a lot of those decades that I believed I wasn’t good enough, there were many people in my life who thought differently. They believed in me, loved me, thought the absolute best of me but I could never internalize that into self-belief and good self-esteem.

These days, I promise, I’m not turning into some egotistical blowhard but I think that it’s healthy to understand our own awesomeness. In fact, I think it’s absolutely necessary. If we don’t acknowledge, accept, internalize, celebrate and own our awesomeness, we damage ourselves. For whatever reason that I developed the crappy self-esteem in the first place, I spent years not doing anything effective to counter it. At some point I had to take responsibility for allowing the mindset to continue. I’m going to own that too, but it’s old water under an ancient bridge, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it either. I am, however, refusing to let it dam up the flow of my recovery.

I think it will help my continued recovery if I make the time to acknowledge my good qualities. I need to remind myself of all the positive things about me so that I don’t ever fall into that believing I’m not good enough state again. If I own my awesomeness, I don’t need to overeat in order to suppress the bad feelings because, hey, I won’t feel so bad anymore.

Okay, you know that I don’t urge you all to comment, although I am always thrilled when someone does. I know that you’re here reading, even if you lurk. However, I’m going to take part in a little exercise and I would absolutely love it if you all would participate with me. Let’s all own our awesomeness and list some examples.

I’ll go first. I rock my job. I’m a loyal friend. I demonstrate caring even to strangers at the store or on the street. I’m not afraid to try new experiences. I look for ways to positively reinforce and empower other people.

Those are five ways that I’m awesome. What are five ways that you can claim? Come on now, please share them with us so that we can all celebrate together.

Own your awesomeness!


I (h)Ate Carbs

I’m pretty annoyed this morning. I did great with my 5K walk yesterday, as I posted here. I continued to be active during the day, including walking the dogs before going out to a Chinese New Year dinner celebration with my Tai Chi group. I’ve been so good with my food too.

What happened when I got on the scale this morning? According to the number, I gained two pounds since yesterday. Intellectually, I know this is not mathematically possible. I did not eat 7200 more calories than I expended in a 24 hour period. (3600 calories to a pound X two pounds, etc.) Honestly, I don’t think I can fit 7200 calories in my body in a day. I would have to drink almost nine large chocolate milkshakes from a certain fast food restaurant in order to accomplish that feat of overload.

So what happened? I ate some carbs. Through the course of an extremely active day, I had a small cookie when the race was over, half a biscuit at lunch, a small scoop of rice at dinner, and another cookie at dinner. I just looked up the approximate carb counts of those foods and then added more just to be on the safe side. I can’t make the carb count go higher than 87 grams.

According to the Institute of Health, adult women should consume 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates. This means women following 1,200-calorie weight loss diets need about 135 to 195 grams of carbs each day. If I’m topping out at 1000 calories a day, I can drop that range to about 113 to 165 grams of carbs a day. I know that needs to include “good” carbs too, like from fruit, veggies and healthy grains.

So, when I analyze my sum total of food for the day, taking into account that I did ingest around 87 grams of “junk” carbs, I still did not drastically overdo on a day when I was super active. (close to 17,000 steps by days end on the FitBit.)

Clearly junk carbs really are the enemy. Apparently, my body is super reactive to them, too. The only logical explanation for the two pounds-in-a-day weight gain is that I’m retaining water. I don’t feel or look bloated or puffy, but I can’t come up with any other reason.

Can you tell that I’m more than a little pissed off today? It doesn’t matter that I know it’s temporary weight. It messes with my head. I become resentful as all get out and ugly, diseased, “You f*&#ked up your plan again” thoughts invade my mind.

Here’s how I’m countering the crappy mind chatter. My knee was a little stiff this morning, but I rolled out of bed, dressed, and took an 11 mile bike ride. I came home and ate the rest of yesterday’s frittata, which I shared with Nat and Pyxi. I then decided that I need to fight fluid with fluid. So, for the next day or so, I’m going to really push liquids. I’ll refrain from carbs, except what comes in fruit or veggies, go with protein shakes or smoothies for breakfast and lunch, and really focus on getting in more water. I’m going to do my darnedest to flush out my system and get my body back on track.


Misplaced Guilt

I got up at 6 a.m. today but it was raining so I didn’t go out for a walk or bike ride. I also didn’t put in one of my home exercise DVDs. Instead, I prepared and packed lunch for work, turned on my DVR recording of last night’s Scandal (OMG!), and ate breakfast. By the way, that whole mixing of some vanilla extract and honey into plain non-fat yogurt turned out great!

I feel really guilty that I didn’t exercise. I know this is misplaced guilt and just another great example of how diseased thinking can strike. I exercise for at least an hour a day, usually seven days a week. That’s even more than the usually recommended amount. Even when the number on the scale is slow, the inches coming off and the reshaping of my body are evident because of the exercise. Bottom line: I have no reason to feel guilty because I skipped a day of exercise.

Particularly when I haven’t skipped an entire day. I could make it up tonight after work — or not. It’s okay. The only person who disagrees isn’t even a person — it’s my subconscious or some part of my brain that likes to make me feel bad or feel like I’m letting myself down or doing something wrong to screw up my recovery.

Right now, I’m going to declare that I will not listen to that part of my psyche. I will not spend another minute feeling this misplaced guilt. I will not compound it by also eating off of my food plan. I will remain in recovery today.

I needed to get that out. Thanks.

By the way, have I mentioned that tomorrow I’m doing a 5K walk race? I’m not in it for competition. The whole event benefits a local service organization that runs a food bank and homeless shelter. I wanted to support the organization. Not only will tomorrow give me a chance to do that, but it will put me squarely back on the exercise wagon.


Excess Pounds Perspective

Sometimes my brain goes in odd directions. A friend/co-worker and I were talking about weight loss today. I mentioned that I’ve lost around 180 pounds. It struck me that I’d lost significantly more than this co-worker’s entire body weight.

That started my train of thought down a particular track. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the average weight of adult women ages 20+ in the U.S. is 166.2 pounds. For men in the same age range in the U.S., the average weight is 195.5 pounds. So with 180 pound weight loss, I’ve lost more than an entire average sized woman and almost as much as an averaged sized man.

I’ve also lost more than an adult male English mastiff weighs. I can’t imagine trying to carry around a dog that size, yet I did.
There are dolphins where I work that weigh less than I did when I was my heaviest. I look at some of the youngsters who hit the scale at a little less than 200 pounds and think about them being the equivalent in pounds of the weight I’ve taken off.

This really gives me a different perspective about my excess pounds. I have an entirely new, deeper, more amazed respect for my body — bones, joints, muscles, organs, the whole darned thing and all of its systems. For years this body that was built for one person carried around enough weight for two large people. It’s a wonder that my heart didn’t explode from my chest or my knees collapse beneath me.

I feel like I should apologize to every cell of myself. I’m not going to beat myself up over it. That would be a waste and achieve nothing. All I can do is what I’m doing now. Keep losing weight and then maintain the loss. Continue to exercise to build strength and flexibility. Treat my body with respect, appreciation, and love.

This body deserves to be treated well. It’s earned the right!


Springsteen Saturday

I’ve raved written here before about my decades long love and admiration for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. No, it isn’t love as in I-was-the-person-he-should-have-married-crazy-stalker-fan love. It’s entirely because since I was 17 years old, Bruce’s songs have inspired, encouraged, resonated and deeply touched my emotions.

The last time I saw him and the band in concert was September 2012 up home in New Jersey. It feels like shortly after, he launched an International tour that’s gone on forever. We, i.e. his U.S. fans, have waited ever since for him to book more dates here at home. Our hopes rose when he recently released a new album, High Hopes.

We have been rewarded. Earlier this week he announced U.S. dates. To my utter joy one of those dates is a night in South Florida. The tickets went on sale this morning at 10 a.m. I pre-cautioned my Tai Chi instructor that I’d need to leave class early. My computer was booted up and I was sitting at Ticketmaster.com, refreshing the concert date page by 9:59 a.m. so that I wouldn’t miss out. Who’s going to see Springsteen? *points to self* This woman! Booyah!

I’ve probably said before that my favorite Bruce song is Thunder Road. (The fact that the protagonist in the song sings to a woman named Mary is purely coincidental.) In the song, the man urges Mary to go out with him, to believe in him, to show a little faith, that there is magic in the night. He can’t promise to be her hero but he is determined to win in the game of life.

When I was 17, that song was an invitation to pursue my dreams, to reach out for them with both hands and an open heart. To not be afraid but to leap and believe that the net would appear.

Now that I’m 56, Thunder Road still resonates but now it’s a reminder that I still have dreams and goals. I have promises to fulfill to myself. I am still in the process of living my best life.

One of the many things that always impressed me about Springsteen’s music and message was the fact that even when a song was filled with swagger, his characters weren’t pie-eyed optimists. They didn’t expect life to hand them their dreams but at heart they believed they could earn the dreams they wanted. By contrast, when his songs dealt with characters in despair, their pain was that much more cutting.

There are many themes, many characters and many stories — uplifting and positive or dark and sad. For me, the message I listen to the most is the one that reinforces earning my dreams and goals. I have to pay my way to reach them. In terms of my continued weight loss and recovery this means dedicating time, energy, spirit, and physical effort. That’s the payment recovery demands and I’m willing to pay. After all, I got high hopes.

Give me help, give me strength
Give a soul a night of fearless sleep
Give me love, give me peace
Don’t you know these days you pay for everything
Got high hopes
I got high hopes
I got high hopes
I got high hopes

– Bruce Springsteen