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Monday, September 27, 2010

Tip: Don't Get Discouraged!

Bobbie's Birthday Party!

Yes, yes, I know; it’s Monday. I’m supposed to report my weight. The news isn’t great this week, just as it wasn’t great last week, but last week I at least lost a pound. This week my weight stagnated.

I expected weeks like this. I know they happen on weight-loss plans, but I hoped it wouldn’t happen to me. Instead of kicking or cursing myself, though, I point to the fact that I wanted to lose an average of a pound a week, and if I lean on the averages, I’m still doing okay. Let’s see. I began my food plan on about July 15, but I won’t count those first few days and say it began instead on July 19, so I can count Monday to Monday. Today is September 27, so I’ve been on the plan ten weeks and have lost 31 pounds, which is an average of three pounds a week. Okay, I’ve found a way to see the good side and stop concentrating on the not-to-good side, the fact that the scale stayed the same this week. I can also say, “Hey, at least I didn’t gain anything.”

I could have gained. Really, I could have. My food plan isn’t highly restrictive; I can eat what I want, I just have to be conscious of the portion sizes and keep them small. I’m human, though, so at times I consume more food than my body needs. I know I ate more than I needed last night, for example, when I went to my favorite Chinese buffet and it had coconut shrimp, one of my favorites. Believe me, I didn’t consume nearly as much as I used to eat when I visited that buffet. I used to consume at least two big plates full of mostly shrimp and fish. Last night I first made a salad and ate that, before I fixed a single plate and was careful to add vegetables to the protein. I used to eat apple pie and ice cream for dessert there. Last night I skipped dessert entirely. I know I’m eating healthier and less, but less than far too much can still be too much!

Overeating last night might have been so bad, but I had overeaten the night before, as well. My sister gave me a dinner party for my birthday. Although I insisted on bringing fruit for dessert instead of having a birthday cake, the dinner was so delicious that I ate more than usual, and my stomach felt it, too.

Whenever I overeat, though, I try to make up for it by eating less at other meals, but obviously I’m not perfect, or my weight would have gone down this week.

Am I discouraged? No way! I may be disappointed, but certainly not discouraged. In the past the news that I hadn’t lost weight in a week might have sent me to the freezer to binge on ice cream, but not today.

I examined what I’ve done all week and what I’m eaten. The first thing I acknowledged is that after I saw progress in my weight loss, I stopped keeping my food diary. As a result, this week when I didn’t lose weight, I couldn’t even look in my food diary to closely examine the foods I’ve consumed. Bad Bobbie! I vowed to return to original plan and write down everything I eat.

What’s the purpose of a food diary? When I write down what I eat at each meal, I can more carefully analyze whether I’ve eaten enough vegetables and protein each day, but more importantly, the food diary is my conscience. Every item that goes in my mouth gets written into the daily diary, which means I can’t eat a candy bar and forget I ate it, the way I used to do. The diary keeps me conscious of my food consumption, and conscious eating is the entire basis of my food plan. My food diary is a simple spiral notebook where I write down the date and list each meal or snack that I eat that day. If I’m at home, I list what I eat as soon as I eat it. If I eat out, as soon as I get home I list the items I ate. I don’t wait until nighttime to try to recall everything I ate that day, because invariably I’ll forget something.

In examining this week’s weight stagnation, the second thing I realized was that I’ve skipped breakfast almost every day this past week, and breakfast is an important meal. I know that fact, but I still sometimes forget to eat breakfast. I pledged to eat breakfast this week. I began today with plain yogurt, blueberries, and high-fiber whole-wheat cereal sweetened with a very light sprinkle of raw sugar.

The third thing I know is that I got to the gym only one time this week. I need to work out more, to burn off calories and get more fit. My excuse has been the fact that my dog has needed much more attention than normal while he recuperates from eye surgery and complications following surgery. That excuse will soon disappear, though. The veterinarian estimates that the dog will be much better by the end of this week, and I’ll have no excuse not to swim and do water aerobics, my workouts of choice.

Examining last week makes me analyze what I can do better this week, and by golly, I’ll do it. Nothing will sway me from becoming as healthy as I can be, and for me that means I must have a smaller body. No, I am not discouraged in the least; if anything, I’m more determined than ever.

Starting weight: 245
Goal weight for this week: 213
Actual weight this week: 214 (rats!)
Goal weight for next week: 213
Total weight lost: 31
Overall goal weight: 150

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Small Pound for a Woman

I don’t mind admitting it; I worried on my trip to the scale this morning. I knew that this past week I had walked away from the dinner table with a tummy a little fuller than it’s been lately. I ate properly and ate healthy foods, but didn’t always watch my portion size. Instead of just a leg or a thigh of chicken, I ate the whole quarter, leg and thigh. For several meals. My fault; for me whatever goes on my plate goes into my mouth, most of the time, and I know that fact about myself. I swear next time I cook a package of chicken quarters I’ll cut the legs and thighs apart, so I won’t be tempted to take a whole quarter at a time. Add in the fabulous prime rib lunch I ate yesterday, when a client came to town and insisted on treating me to an expensive meal. At least I switched the garlic mashed potatoes out for broccoli, but I couldn’t resist the shrimp-and-grits appetizer and ate a good third of the grits. When it was over, I’d eaten way too much for one meal, even though I took some of the food home.

While I strolled toward the dreaded scale, I promised myself I’d be better at portion control this week.

I also acknowledged that I had worked out only one time this week. Only one time did I show my face (and a few other things) at Gold’s Gym when I slipped into a bathing suit for water aerobics and swimming. One time, all week. I mentally pleaded, “Oh, please, scale, at least show no gain, and please let me have lost a pound. I swear, if you’ll show me one pound lost, I’ll work out more this week.”

In my bargaining phase, though, I reminded myself that I’ve been taking longer and more walks with my dog, now that my knees and feet don’t hurt. It may not be much exercise to stroll my street, but it’s at least moving around, instead of sitting at my desk or sitting on my sofa. I also bowled twice. Again, not much exercise, but it involves lifting weights, walking, and a lot of high fives, when my sister or I make a mark. Doesn’t that count?

Up on the scale I stepped, trepidation in my heart. Alas, I had barely eked out a one-pound loss. Oh, if my scale were digital and showed increments, truth is I probably didn’t lose a whole pound, but it’s not, so I’m claiming the pound.

I knew I couldn’t maintain weight losses of three or four pounds a week, but I really do want to average one pound or more a week, so I’ll be better this week. I swear it.

On the good side, this week I’ve had several moments of joy over my smaller body, even though I have much more weight to lose. I wore a pair of earrings that used to dig into my shoulders, but because my shoulders have dropped and neck has elongated with my weight loss, I was able to wear the earrings comfortably. One day I was sitting on my sofa and chatting with a friend, when I noticed I’d crossed my legs at the knee. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I haven’t been able to comfortably cross my legs in years. Fat little legs and arthritic knees don’t allow such flexibility, but there I was, with my legs crossed. Hoo ha! Slender people don’t have these thoughts, but I’m sure some of my friends can relate to the joy I felt at that moment.

Watching my body grow smaller and feel younger is more than a delight. It’s a reward for eating consciously and healthily. This week I reached my sixty-sixth birthday, and yet I feel younger and better today than I did on my birthday last year. I love the direction I’m going.

Starting weight: 245
Goal weight for this week: 214
Actual weight this week: 214 (barely)
Goal weight for next week: 213
Total weight lost: 31
Overall goal weight: 150

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tip: Celebrate Mini Goals and Milestones

Note: The photo on the far right was taken when my sister Go (in photo) and friend Vicki gave me a birthday party in September 2009. The photo of me alone was taken a few days ago, September 2010, wearing the same shirt. I had gained even more weight between my birthday last year and July of this year, when I began my food plan, but still you can see that the shirt hangs looser in the front now, and my face looks thinner, as do my arms. One day at a time, folks.

Yes, we need to set our ultimate goal, but for me, if that goal looks unobtainable or too distant in the future, I lose faith that I can reach it. I want to reach 150 pounds, but I have a long way to go, which is why I set interim goals, as well. Every week my goal is to lose one pound. As I lose more weight and have less to lose, that weekly one-pound goal may not be attainable, so I may revise my weekly goal as my weight drops. In the meantime, though, having that weekly goal gives me something to achieve, because success breeds success.

I also set longer interim goals. For example, my longer interim goal at this time is to reach 200 or less by New Year’s Eve. So far it looks as if I’ll make that goal, and I find the prospect exciting. New Year’s Eve: what a perfect time to celebrate having lost forty-five pounds! I keep visualizing it, seeing me step on the scale and seeing it read 199 or 200. It feels good, even when I simply visualize it, and December 31 doesn’t seem terribly far away, whereas realistically, I probably won’t reach my overall goal for two years or more.

In the meantime, I celebrate reaching my mini goals as well as when I hit milestones, even if my celebration means that I just to raise a fist in the air and say out loud, “Yay me!” Today is a “Yay me!” day. When I stepped on the scale I had lost four pounds since last week, three more than my goal for the week. I hit the number 215 on the scale, which means I’ve lost thirty pounds. Milestone! Yay me!

My sister has joined me in my food plan, and she mentioned the other day that it gets easier and easier, and that she no longer feels hungry, the way she did in the beginning. Of course we get hungry at mealtimes, but we’re eating tasty, healthy, normal food, and yet we’re still watching our tummies and tushes grow smaller. What a great reward for taking care of our health!

What amazes me is that I have no cravings at all for the things I used to eat that were not the most healthy choices, popcorn, chips, desserts, candy bars, and ice cream. I know that I can eat any of that in moderation if I want, but my desire to lose weight and have long-term good health has grown stronger than my desire for temporary oral gratification. I’ve been eating consciously since mid July, and it’s become an easy, healthy habit for me.

Today the weather turned a little cooler, and I reached into my drawer to find something more substantial than the tank tops I’ve been wearing all summer. I pulled out a T-shirt I haven’t worn in years, because it was too tight. I hadn’t donated it to charity because I loved it so much, a purple shirt with bright splashes of pink and the slogan “Bring the arts to life!” Without a thought, I put it on, and it fits fine. Another milestone. Yay me!

Here are my statistics for today.

Starting weight: 245
Goal weight for this week: 218
Actual weight this week: 215
Goal weight for next week: 214
Total weight lost: 30
Overall goal weight: 150

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tip: Be the Locomotive

It’s Monday, so I’m here with my weigh-in information, but first a story.

One of my friends on the food plan told me she fell for temptation this weekend. She was visiting friends, and the hostess placed a full tray of exotic doughnuts right in front of her. My friend tore off and ate pieces of several doughnuts, and in her remorse, figured she had eaten the equivalent of a whole doughnut.

I reminded her that one doughnut does not spoil everything she has done so far. All she has to do is get back on her food plan. If she wants, she can compensate for that doughnut by cutting out a few other starches and fats this week, or she can simply get back to eating healthy, fresh food that is good for her body and move forward.

One sugar-and-fat-loaded doughnut may seem like a big transgression, but let’s put it in perspective. If I took a jelly-filled, sugar-coated doughnut and laid it on a railroad track and a six-ton locomotive came along, what would happen? Yup, that heavy engine would squash the doughnut like a bug and stay the course toward its destination. We who have decided to take control over our health have to be that locomotive, and if something tries to knock us off our path, we squash it and stay the course toward our goal of a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight.

My own weigh-in news this week disappoints me, but I expected it. I knew I could not maintain the level of weight loss per week I had in the first four or five weeks of my food plan, but I wanted to average at least a pound a week, and at least I did lose a pound since last week.

I know the reasons (or excuses) why I didn’t lose more.

1. It’s natural to lose more weight per week for the first few weeks you begin any food plan or even any (heaven forbid) diet.

2. I was unable to schedule any extra exercise this past week, other than walking the dog, because I had to take my dog to an eye specialist for examinations and tests while also meeting deadlines for several editing projects.

3. I’ve lived with high anxiety, knowing my dog’s health is in danger and having to drive to several locations unknown to me to have my dog examined. When I learned that he needed an eye operation, my stress level increased. When I saw the costs associated with the surgery, my stress level shot even higher. Now, several times a day, I have to restrain my pet and put drops in his eyes, which he hates. I feel like an ogre, and I fear he will stop wanting to cuddle with me, if every time we cuddle I put drops I his eyes. Stress galore!

In the past anxiety often meant added snacks—crunchy, salty things I stuffed down my gullet in an attempt to stuff my feelings. Thankfully the corn chips and popcorn in my pantry stayed in my pantry, but I know I ate more protein than I needed at several meals. Anxiety, stress, less exercise, and being further into my food plan all conspired against me, and yet I still dropped a pound. I’ll give myself a pat on the back and say I did well. One average week won’t stop my train. I’m more determined than ever.

Today is another day, another chance to be conscious of every bit of food that enters my mouth, another chance to eat healthy foods and feed my brain and my body instead of attempting to soothe my psyche. Choo, choo, toot, toot!

Here are my statistics for today.

Starting weight: 245
Goal weight for this week: 219
Actual weight this week: 219
Goal weight for next week: 218
Total weight lost: 26
Overall goal weight: 150

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tip: Personal Control Results in Portion Control

My sister noticed a new restaurant had opened, and always looking for new adventures, we wanted to check it out. Cars filled the parking lot, so we thought we’d found a good place to eat. When we walked inside, though, we understood the volume of cars. The young girls who greeted us wore tiny plaid push-up-bra tops displaying hefty cleavage up top, and below, they sported short, low-waisted kilts, with plenty of skin showing from midriff to below the belly button. Everywhere we looked, men peopled the tables, eating pub (read: fried) food. We scanned the menu and ordered salads, about the only thing that did not come breaded and fried.

The server sat at our table for a chat, as I had seen her do at the other tables, which were heavier in testosterone. I asked her how she was treated there, and she assured me that the establishment did not allow any touching from customers, and she felt that she was treated very well by all. I told her she looked great in the outfit and admitted I wouldn’t have said so, if she hadn’t reassured me that she doesn't have to put up with harassment from the management or customers.

She thanked me and added that I wouldn’t have said such a thing a few years ago. What? Yes, she admitted, she had been chubby, but she decided to take care of her health, and she dropped thirty pounds. The next question is always, “How?” Her quick answer: eating healthy foods and portion control. It took her about a year; she dropped the weight slowly and wisely, and she’s kept it off for two years. I congratulated her.

On television a day later, one of the reality show stars looked better at the reunion show than she had during the show, so the emcee said, “What happened?”

Her answer. “I lost thirty pounds.”

Emcee: “How?”

“Portion control.”

I guess you see where I’m going. Nobody said, “I didn’t eat sweets.” No one said, “I didn’t eat my favorite foods.” No one said, “I starved myself.” Instead, their simple answer to losing weight was portion control.

Portion control: I harp on it, and that’s why I don’t call my food plan a diet; it’s a matter of portion control. I don’t need other people to tell me what to eat. I don’t have to cook and eat foods that are not natural to my eating patterns. I simply had to decide to take control over my health, take control over myself, and take control over the amount of food that enters my mouth.

Portion control is a positive action, not a negative one. Once I say, “I won’t eat fattening foods,” I’ve moved into negative talk, and even mentioning fattening foods can attract fattening foods to me and make me want them.

Positive talk involves saying to myself, “I will eat foods that are good for me. I will eat food in proper portions. If I want dessert, I will eat a tiny bit and quit. If I want a steak, I’ll eat four ounces and quit. If I want pasta, I will eat only a couple of ounces and quit. If I want anything, from soup to nuts, I’ll be conscious of the volume I consume, and I’ll eat less than my body needs. I will gradually reach the weight that is right for me.” Week by week, I'm getting there, and it feels wonderful to be in control of my person and my portion sizes.