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Monday, November 29, 2010

Stalled, but Not Disheartened!

I am officially disappointed that my weight stayed the same again this week, which makes two weeks in a row. Ugh! In the past, such a disappointment would have been enough to throw me off a food plan, make me stuff my face in frustration, lose faith, and lose momentum. Not this time. I have more than myself to disappoint, if I were to do such a thing. Now I have more than a 1,600 readers of my blog that I’d let down. Writing this blog definitely keeps me going. You folks keep me going. Thank you!

To encourage myself and prove that I’m making progress, I pulled out my old photos and took some new ones in similar poses, to see—and confirm—that I’m getting better and better, even if I am still far from my goal weight. I’ll include “before” (left) and “during” (right) shots in this blog entry. I can’t take an “after” shot until I reach my goal weight, but expect more “during” shots to come.

How do I plan to put an end to this languishing period and start losing weight again? Exactly what I did before: Eat fewer white carbohydrates. Eat more salads. Keep food portions within boundaries. Work out. Make wise choices.

The news isn’t all disappointing. This morning I received the report from my latest blood test. My cholesterol has fallen into the normal range, so I have stopped taking statins, no longer exposing myself to their potential side effects. I will stay off statins for six months and see what my next report says. My fasting blood sugar count was down, too, at 101. Normal glucose levels fall between 70 and 150 mg., with 99 or less being ideal, but my number used to be higher than 101. No, I can’t remember the exact figure, but it wasn’t in the diabetic range of above 150. Again, the doctor advised fewer white carbohydrates, including sugar. I promised I’m already following that regimen, so things should be even better on my next test.

I also was able to reduce my blood-pressure medication, because my blood pressure has fallen within normal range. Two medications I can strike off my list and keep out of my body! Hooray! I’m definitely seeing definitive, recordable progress in my health, which explains why I feel so much better today than I did six months ago. It’s also why I plan to be the Energizer Bunny and keep going and going.

Here’s today’s weigh-in results:

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 200
Goal weight for this week: 199
Actual weight this week: 200
Total pounds lost: 46
Goal weight for next week: 199
Goal weight: 150
Mini goal: 195 by New Year’s Eve

Friday, November 26, 2010

Even Thanksgiving Didn't Throw Me Off Track

I've enjoyed finding old, fat photos of myself and posting them at the top of my blog, so readers can compare them to the new, improved me when I post new photos.

I thought Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law’s house would be the most tempting of all days, but it turned out to be a breeze. First, my family members praised me for my weight loss, which reminded me to make wise choices when the food was served. Next, my sister and I have a ritual dating back to our childhood. We used to fight over who got the tail of the turkey, but now we simply share it. Yes, a turkey tail has a tiny piece of meat and a huge amount of fat. We know that, but I’ve learned that meat-related fat isn’t bad in moderation; instead, we gain weight from eating starches and sugars, which turn to stored fat in our bodies. She and I therefore indulged ourselves, giggling and eating half a turkey tail each for our guilty-pleasure appetizer.

When dinner was ready, I chose a small piece of turkey, a small piece of ham, a big batch of string beans, and a small bit of cranberry and fruit Jell-O salad. I spurned the broccoli casserole, which sounded healthy but was loaded with cheese and cream. I ignored the sweet potatoes, normally healthy eating, but that particular casserole included brown sugar and marshmallows. I passed up the stuffing and anything else that looked calorie-laden and starchy.

After dinner, out came a huge buffet of alluring pies, candies, cookies, and puddings. In the past I would have eaten a plate filled with samples of each sweet. This Thanksgiving, I ate a little fruit for dessert, and that was it; I felt perfectly satisfied.

How did I resist all those temptations? My blog keeps me motivated, because I know I have to report my weight in a few days. I hope that for the first time in my life I will be able to report that I actually lost weight during the week of Thanksgiving.

Stay tuned for my weigh-in on Monday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tip: Say Yes to Sweet Potatoes

Yesterday was Monday, and I stayed too busy to report the results of my weigh-in, or maybe I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t lose any weight this past week. I knew my weight loss would slow down at some point, but I trust it hasn’t come to a dead stop. I’m still way ahead of my scheduled goals, and I’m still eating right, so I’m not concerned by a one-week idle.

Today I visited my doctor for a regular checkup, and she told me I should be very proud of myself for losing forty-five pounds since I last saw her in April. She’s right. I am proud, and one week of staying the same weight is no big deal. It’s only the second week my weight stayed the same since I began my food plan in July. I’m sure I’ll still meet my mini goals and overall goal. Heck, I already met my first mini goal, which was to weigh 200 by New Year’s, and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

Yes, I am proud and excited that I’ve lost forty-five pounds, and more and more people are asking how I did it. My plan is simple, and it’s not about depriving myself, just making wise choices. One of the main components of my plan is to consume starchy foods in moderation. I can’t resist a little corn, rice, or pasta now and then, so I don’t deny myself, because if I did, I’d crave it even more. Instead I eat starchy foods in moderation, no more than half a cup at a time, and less than that is even better. For example, at lunch yesterday, the chicken wrap I ordered arrived with French fries on my plate, even though they were not in the description of what I had ordered. “I don’t want the fries,” I told the server.

“They come with the meal,” was her answer.

My lunch companion said, “I’ll take some,” so I tried to put all the fries on her plate, but she wouldn’t let me.

I took one small fry, put it in my mouth, and chewed. I had to admit that it did not taste nearly as good as losing weight felt, so I left all the other starchy fries on my plate and ate half the wrap I’d ordered and a small bowl of soup that came with it. I took the other half of the sandwich home and ate it for dinner with another small bowl of soup. Good choices.

Some starchy vegetables are fine, though, and one of my favorites is the sweet potato. The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars, and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than a hundred points. No wonder I love them! No, I don’t add brown sugar to them, but a pat of butter and a little sea salt, and they’re out of this world.

When my family went to a hamburger restaurant a few weeks ago I ordered a grilled chicken breast on a bowl of lettuce, rather than a beef burger on a bun, so I didn’t feel guilty about eating some of the delicious sweet potato fries and onions rings we ordered as an appetizer. I left the table feeling that I’d had great treats without overeating things that are bad for me. Sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal, more vitamin A than carrots, more potassium than a banana, and more flavor than white potatoes. A small sweet potato has only about 150 calories, and all of them good for me.

So am I depriving myself? Am I starving or craving things I can’t have? No way! That is why I deny that I am on a diet at all, and without dieting, I’ve lost forty-five pounds. Yay, me. Now on to the next forty-five…!

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 200
Goal weight for this week: 199
Actual weight this week: 200
Total pounds lost: 45
Goal weight for next week: 199
Goal weight: 150

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tip: Pause before You Plunge

First the great news: I hit a major milestone this morning. My mini goal had been to weigh 200 by New Year’s, but guess what. It’s only November 15, 2010, and I already hit that goal this morning, when I stepped on the scale and weighed 200 pounds. Oh, heavens, that number still looks awful, doesn’t it? I have so much more to lose, but hooray for me, because I’ve lost forty-five ugly, health-threatening pounds. I hope the next forty-five pounds are as easy to lose as the first forty-five. I trust they will be, because I am in the habit of making good choices, and I constantly read more good information to keep me on track.

Most recently I read an interesting tidbit in AARP The Magazine that said that the Cornell Food and Brand Lab studied 213 people while they helped themselves to a buffet. Seventy-one percent of the thin people scouted the buffet table first to see what they wanted to put on their plates before they even picked up a plate. Three-quarters of the heavy people grabbed their plates first and began taking food before they even had a good idea of the choices available.

At lunchtime last Saturday I went to an opening of a new business in the neighborhood that offered a free buffet. I had read the article about thin people who perused the buffet before making choices, but honestly, I didn’t think about it at the time. I instinctively scrutinized the offerings at the food table before I put anything on my plate. I’m not sure, now, though, whether I actually took a plate first or not, but I certainly didn’t put anything on that plate until I had made my healthy choices.

Remember my blog entry about thinking like a thin person? It’s working. More and more, I’m thinking like a thin person. That buffet table had green beans, broccoli, white rice and beans, two types of dried-out-looking meat, and a cabbage-based salad. I chose the salad, broccoli, and green beans, and without any effort bypassed the dried-out meat and white rice, plus, without even thinking, I also bypassed the entire table of sweets, which included cookies, cakes, and my absolute favorite, whipped cream. Well, it was probably the fake kind, loaded with hydrogenated oils, but in the past that fact wouldn’t have stopped me from glopping it onto a piece of cake and eating it with gusto. That’s the past, though. Now I automatically scan buffets before I put anything on my plate.

I know I will be faced with more buffets, especially during the holiday season, and I feel confident that I’ll pause, scan the selections, and make my choices before I put a drop of food on my plate. In that way I’ll fill my plate with the best choices and not be tempted by the starch-laden ones. Getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas while sticking to a food plan may be tough, and actually losing weight over the holidays may be even tougher, but I swear I’m going to do it. I have a goal in mind, and nothing can stop me.

Because I’ve met my first mini goal, I’ve set another one. My new mini goal is to lose five more pounds before New Year’s and weigh 195 by January 1.

On another topic, one of my many readers said to forget the digital scale that has become my nemesis, because it says I weight more than my dial scale says. I think I will use the digital scale when I want to see incremental changes in my weight, but for now will ignore it and stick with the dial scale, which, by the way, agrees with the expensive dial scale at my gym, where I weigh in wearing a bathing suit. Today is weigh-in day, so here’s my official report:

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 204
Goal weight for this week: 203
Actual weight this week: 200
Total pounds lost: 45
Goal weight for next week: 199
Goal weight: 150

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Find Your Inspiration, and You’ll Inspire Others

I’ve been getting wonderful e-mail messages from blog readers and followers.

One of my blog followers wrote to say that she likes my blog, and because of it, all the previous week she told herself all she had to do was make good choices, and it worked. Good for her!

I answered her this way:

Thank you for reading my blog. Keep making good choices. It gets easier. Even today, I was about three-fourths finished with my lunch when my dog barked to ask me to let him out on the deck. When I returned to the table, my inner voice said, "You could quit eating now." Hmm. I thought about that little inner voice and decided it was right. I put the remainder of my food back in the fridge, and I was completely satisfied with the quantity I'd eaten and happy with myself, too. This food-plan/healthy-choice thing gets easier and easier with each day, even though I originally thought it would get harder. Instead I've made a habit of making good choices.

One of my Australian friends wrote:

I just scanned down your Facebook page and learned that you have lost 37 lbs. Oh, my God! Is there anything left of you? I would be in heaven if I lost that much, so I’m going to use you as my inspiration.

Judi from Oz

I responded:

Believe me, there's still plenty of me left. Too much. I have a l-o-n-g way to go before I reach my goal weight, which will still be ten pounds more than the alleged perfect weight for someone my height. If, however, I can come within ten pounds of what I weighed high school some forty-eight years ago, I'll be pleased. My greater joy, though, has been that by going so public with my intent, I've inspired dozens of men and women who have written to me like you did, and they, too, are eating healthier and losing weight. They now inspire me to keep going. It works both ways.

Another writer said this:

I'm also wanting to lose some significant weight and needing inspiration. Perhaps your notes will give me the kick on the backside I need.

I hope my blog helps her and all my other readers.

When I decided to go public with my intention to lose weight, I did it for me, so that I couldn’t quietly back down and not follow through, not when I had declared my intention to the whole world. Now that I am proving how easy weight loss can be through wise choices, being conscious of the foods I eat, and eating moderate and correct quantities of food, I’m inspiring others. It’s the happiest cycle I’ve ever witnessed. While I’m getting inspiration from others, I’ve also giving inspiration to others. We feed off each other, and it’s the only feeding frenzy I know that can lead to weight loss instead of weigh gain.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tip: One or two setbacks do not equal failure

I know everyone wants to hear my weigh-in news. It’s good. Despite eating more than necessary two nights in a row, I lost two more pounds this week.

Whoa, I sure rushed past that part about eating more than necessary, didn’t I? Well, I am human, and sometimes I still have the innate desire to pamper myself or stuff my feelings by stuffing my face. This past week I endured a few things that caused me emotional distress. Fortunately those things did not involve anything so drastic as the loss of a loved one, but any loss or disappointment can lead to breaks in our good habits, and I gave myself permission to eat more protein than necessary, two nights running. Both nights I cooked and ate two pork chops, instead of one, along with a good supply of sautéed cauliflower and eggplant.

At least I was conscious of my eating, aware of my lack of logic (“It’s okay, Bobbie; you deserve to be pampered this once” turned into “again” the next night.) Yes, I deserve pampering, but next time I’ll get a manicure instead of overeating. Thankfully, because I ate correctly the rest of the week and worked out several times, too, I still lost two pounds this week. Whew! It proves I can’t ruin eating right by eating wrong once or twice.

What is eating right? The other day someone told me my food plan sounded like the Atkins Diet. Oh, no, no, no, I say. As I understand the Atkins Diet, it relies on high protein and high fat, and as a result, a person cannot and should not stick to it for life, only for short spurts. A high-fat, high-protein plan is already less than healthy, yet the Atkins Diet goes a step further and spurns all carbohydrates. Well, folks, vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates, and they are important and tasty sources of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. Meats may have nutrients, but they lack the volume and variety of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants of fruits and vegetables.

My food plan is almost the polar opposite of the Atkins Diet. Mine is a plan I can stay on for life. It’s loaded with vegetables and fruits, so I get all the vitamins and minerals my body needs. I can eat what I want, in appropriate portions, but I choose to limit my intake of starchy foods. To aid in losing weight, I have also chosen to cut out desserts, which turned out to be much easier than I thought it would be. I cut down, first, by limiting dessert to one forkful or spoonful, but soon I didn’t want any at all.

As much as I used to love sweets, it amazes me that once I began losing weight, sugar-filled desserts no longer had a hold on me. Breaking the sugar habit took only a few weeks. Now desserts no longer even tempt me. I keep my goal in mind, and my goal of losing weight and living a healthy life takes precedence over the empty calories in cookies, candy, cake, pie, and soft drinks.

I’m thrilled that I’m only four pounds away from my planned milestone of weighing 200 pounds or less by New Year’s Day, which is seven weeks away. I know I’ll reach my goal or exceed it, and success is sweeter than any dessert known to man.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 207
Goal weight for this week: 206 dial scale, 209.2 on new digital scale
Actual weight this week: 204 dial scale, 208.0 on new digital scale
Total pounds lost: 41
Goal weight for next week: 203 dial, 207.0 digital
Goal weight: 150

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tip: Remember Your Motivation

My original goal was to lose weight so I would feel better. Within a month of following my food plan, I started to feel better, so now I have to keep remembering my original motivation.

It's easy to forget the amount of pain I was experiencing before I started the plan. I must keep remembering the pain and restrictions I dealt with for many months before my decision to stick to a food plan. My mobility had deteriorated to the point that I used my mother's old cane to help me get around the house, especially in the morning when I needed to hobble to the bathroom or take the dog out to the deck.

Some days I didn’t walk my dog at all, making him pee and poop on the deck. I could much more easily clean off the deck than I could walk down my steep driveway to take the dog for a walk. When I walked downhill like that, I not only felt pain with every step, but I also feared my knees would go out of joint and I'd fall. I could feel my knee joints slipping and popping.

When I felt a little better, I put the dog in the car and drove down to the end of the driveway, took him out, and walked him a little bit on the flat part of the street. Within weeks, though, I could leave the car in the garage and walk down the sheer cement walk with the dog.

Since losing more than thirty-five pounds, I take long strolls down the driveway, down the street, down the hill, around the corner, and back up, all the way, as far as I want, without fear or pain. No more pain: that’s why I have to stick to my plan. It works.

We all know what we should be eating, but cutting down drastically on starchy and sugary foods can be tough. I absolutely had to; I had no choice. My goal has nothing to do with my looks; it has everything to do with my health. If I come out looking better, that's a bonus, not a goal, but I have to admit I’m enjoying the compliments coming my way these days.

For a long time I fought depression, because I knew my enjoyment of life had decreased immensely. The term "quality of life" kept running through my head. I thought of the dogs and cats I’d euthanized when their quality of life went down. I did not want to be euthanized, though. I wanted to be youth-inized, and losing weight did it. I feel young, spry, and healthy again. Hooray!

If I want to stay motivated and stick to the plan, though, I must remember that earlier pain, stiffness, fear, and immobility. Writing about what I experienced keeps me motivated. The memory of feeling limited, seeing my quality of life diminishing, keeps me moving in the right direction, the healthy-eating direction.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tip: Celebrate Success

Oh, heavens, I messed everything up. I caved and bought a digital scale, figuring it would give me increments my dial scale couldn’t. Yes, it gives me increments, but oh, dear, the digital scale says I weigh more than my dial scale says. How will I handle that disconnect in my accounting? I’m thinking about it.

I don’t want to discourage myself by taking a leap of several pounds backwards from what I weighed on my dial scale a day earlier. I’m open to suggestions on how to handle my dilemma. I posted my question on Facebook, and a few of my friends asked if I could calibrate the digital scale. No, it allows for no adjustments. One friend said to take helium. Although that suggestion might be good for laughs, I’m still looking for the perfect answer. Until then, I’ll report both weights.

Regardless of what scale I use, though, I have lost thirty-eight pounds, which is cause to celebrate. As a result, I’ve been going through my storage closet and pulling out expensive clothes I refused to donate after I gained weight. I donated most of my cheaper smaller-sized clothes when they no longer fit, but I kept a few nice pieces, believing that one day I might fit into them again. That day has arrived. Last week I slipped into a hand-painted jacket I bought some twenty years ago and haven’t been able to wear for the past ten years. It fit perfectly again. I found a Bob Mackie sweater vest probably worth hundreds of dollars that I bought brand new in a thrift shop about five years ago, but my blouses were too long and showed from underneath, so I never wore the sweater vest. Why were all my blouses so long? Plus-size blouses are big in every respect. To accommodate my large stomach, the girth had to be large, but as a result, the shoulder seams hung down between my shoulders and elbows, short sleeves reached my elbows, long sleeves covered my thumbs, and the lengths came down below my expanded butt. Now that I can wear smaller blouses, they are also shorter, so I can again wear many of the fancy jackets I’ve been storing.

As far as fashion goes, I had grown into a complete slouch. I used to love to wear bright-colored, unusual clothing. My eye was naturally drawn to things with sparkles, dangly things, or unusual designs. Once I grew into larger sizes, my clothing choices grew limited. When I shopped for clothes, I bought what fit, not what I loved. My clothes became plain, bland, and gigantic.

Remember, please, that I’m still not thin by any stretch of the imagination; however, now that I am bordering on a size 18 to 20 instead of a 24 to 26, I can wear shorter blouses and stylish jackets, and I’ve plundered my closets and pulled out the bright, cheerful clothes I love. When I wear something I like, I become more conscious of my hair, makeup, and jewelry, whereas for years I just slapped myself together and left the house without spending much time on my looks. Nothing helped, so why bother?

It’s so much fun to see the real me coming back to life. I’m finding my true self again and enjoying my clothing choices and personal image. Now I’m just waiting for an excuse to wear that Bob Mackie vest.

Rediscovering and reactivating my beloved clothing choices has been a wonderful way to celebrate this point in my success, and I have other, smaller clothes I’ll enjoy fitting into in the future. I know it is not only possible; it’s inevitable.

Here’s today’s weigh-in information, and I’ve lost another pound.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 207
Goal weight for this week: 206
Actual weight this week: 206 dial scale, 210.2 on new digital scale
Goal weight for next week: 205 dial, 209.2 digital
Total pounds lost: 38
Goal weight: 150