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Monday, March 28, 2011

Tip: Don’t Fall Prey to False Weight-Loss Claims


I can understand why people who want to lose weight fall prey to all sorts of advertising that claims to make weight loss easier, faster, or devoid of hunger or cravings. Yeah, I wish. The truth is this: weight loss requires self-determination, conscious eating, portion control, and consistency, and it’s not easy, not fast, and not without moments of hunger, cravings, urgings, and even backslides. I know. I’ve been there, done it all.

This week I’m pleased to report that I finally, at last, have met the mini goal I originally set for New Year’s Eve or before. I not only met it, but I beat it. I wanted to weight 190 by New Year’s, but it didn’t happen. I reset my deadline several times, and I still didn’t meet it. Today when I stepped on the scale, it rose only to 189. Praise the heavens! Raise a flag! It took me three months longer than I expected, but I met that mini goal.

How did I do it? Not by any fads, pills, products, expensive plans, or any of the other things designed to make people lose weight by lightening their wallets. I did it with sensible eating, the type described in my blog for months: lots of vegetables and fruits, limited starches, and portion-controlled protein.

Yes, fruit in general is quite good for us, although oranges have a high sugar content and should be consumed in moderation, as should its juice. That said, don’t fall for any scam that says drinking a specific juice or taking a pill made from some juice or other product is all you have to do to lose weight.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest recently released a consumer warning that urged people not to fall prey to acai-berry-based products. It stated, "There's no evidence whatsoever to suggest that a├žai pills will help shed pounds, flatten tummies, cleanse colons, enhance sexual desire, or perform any of the other commonly advertised functions." For the full article, see http://scienceblogs.com/obesitypanacea/2010/05/acai_berry_scam_exposed_we_cal.php.

On the non-weight-loss side, I was thrilled to see that one of my hand-painted shirts showed up in the Greenville News, on the body of Rickey Godfrey, a musician originally from Greenville, who lives in Nashville now. It’s good to take my mind off weight loss and editing, the two subjects that consume me most of the time, and do something creative and fun, like painting shirts. Maybe the distraction helped me get back on my weight-loss track. Who knows? As my grandmother would have said, “It didn’t hurt.”

Starting weight: 245
Weight last week: 191
Weight this week: 189
Total pounds lost: 56
Goal weight: 150

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tip: Watch your food environment


“The food environment is overriding all the biological cues,” said Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale, who blames what he calls a “toxic food environment” for the prevalence of obesity. He added, “Biological safeguards against weight gain are being disabled, almost like someone went in and changed all the wiring.”

For full article, read “People offered snacks will eat them, whether hungry or not.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/health/nutrition/08eat.html?_r=2&ref=health

Sure, I read all that information and more, yet I soiled my own food environment, and the results almost devastated me. If you’ve been following my blog, you know my weight loss slowed down to a halt lately. I kept telling myself not to get discouraged; plateaus are common for those who want to lose weight.

What I didn’t do was examine absolutely everything that had changed. I hadn’t been honest with myself, and now I will be honest with myself and my readers: I changed my food environment. It happened subtly. First, I felt great about losing more than fifty pounds. I loved my new look and my new clothes. I felt a great accomplishment, and then ever so quietly, a whisper in my ear was saying, “You did so well, you deserve to have a little fun. Take a break. You earned it.”

While at a big-box store, I saw a bag (big, of course) of pistachios. What has TV been saying about pistachios? Lowest in fat of all the nuts. What have nutritionists been saying? Eat more nuts; people who eat nuts live longer. Nuts have good fats in them that we need. Bingo! I put the bag of pistachios in my shopping cart and strolled farther down the aisle. Hm. Dark-chocolate-covered almonds. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. “Almonds are another nut that’s good for you. Dark chocolate is good for you,” I told myself. “You can have those. You’ve done so well; you’ve earned them,” the devil on my shoulder said. The container (huge, of course) of chocolate-covered almonds made its way into my cart. By then I’m amazed I didn’t buy my real downfall: popcorn. It’s the one food I love above all else, with plenty of butter and salt, of course. At least I bypassed the popcorn and left the store with only two shopping errors, but they were major.

For a normal person a bag of pistachios and container of chocolate-covered almonds would have been fine, but I’m not a normal person. In seven days, I’d eaten every pistachio in the bag. I took to eating five to ten chocolate-covered almonds after a meal, as well. Now you know the truth about my “plateau.” It had nothing to do with normal weight-loss programs and everything to do with my food environment and inability to resist treats that I made available to myself. To make matters worse, once in the mindset that a few chocolate-covered almonds are okay, I saw myself taking larger portions of food than I needed, too. Something had to stop, and finally, it did. Why? Because I actually gained weight. Duh. Surprise? My weight went up three pounds, and I heard myself shout, “No!”

A psychiatrist friend once told me she gets her patients to stop negative thinking by yelling “Stop!” Saying it out loud makes clients hear themselves and recast their thinking in a more positive way. My yelling “No!” from my bathroom scale made me hear myself clearly. I could not let my potentially harmful behavior continue.

Back on the bandwagon I jumped, back to proper food portions, back to salads and no second helpings of anything. Ever. The pistachios are gone, eaten, digested, and the shells thrown away. I can’t undo what I did. The remaining chocolate-covered almonds, however, I put into a cabinet, out of sight, in a place that’s not easy to reach. I need to slow myself down before I eat, think, and be conscious of what enters my mouth. Again. That’s what I’m doing.

Because of my fall from the wagon, I have still not met my goal of weighing 190, which I had hoped to meet by New Year’s Eve. I reset that mini goal several times, but guess what: I’m going to make it, now. I have only one more pound to go, and I’ll be there, and then I’ll set another mini goal, and another and another, until I reach my overall goal.

On the bright side, I easily lost the three pounds I’d gained, once I climbed back aboard the food-plan wagon. I changed my food environment and left nothing to tempt me. It’s amazing how I could so easily justify my wrong food choices in so many ways. I can’t let that happen again.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last check-in: 191
Weight this week: 191
Total pounds lost: 54
Goal weight: 150

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tip: Remember the Reason for the Food Plan


This past week I had a blast decorating T-shirts for a musician who likes to wear unique shirts on stage. I used to date the guy—Rickey Godfrey—years ago, and although he’s married now, we have remained good friends for almost thirty years. When we dated back in the 1980s and 1990s, I made him a few unique shirts that he’s never forgotten, so recently, when he asked for more, my creative juices started flowing again. I pulled out my old fabric paints, some of them twenty or more years old, and tested them. It came as no surprise that most were dried out and useless. Off to a hobby shop to find new paints! Wow! The colors are more copious now and priced better than they used to be. I also grabbed some unusual brushes and applicators. Loaded with my new finds, I drove home and went to work on a few shirts I’d garnered from a thrift shop at a good price. No sense in buying new shirts, in case I messed them up, right? I’d have to wash the shirts before I painted them, anyway, so why not buy them pre-washed, as long as they were in good condition?

The first shirt I decorated fit me perfectly. Uh-oh; that meant it would be too small for Rickey. Guess I’ll have to keep it. I checked the sizes on the next few, to make sure at least four would fit him, and then I dived into the process, loving every minute of it. Most of the decorations took several hours of drying between layers of paint, so I had shirts spread all over the house, on tables, on counters, and even on the floor. All around me lay examples of my creative efforts, and it felt good. When I finished, I took photos of all the shirts, before I packed the four to send to Rickey. I hope he likes them as much as I do. I told his wife to send them back to me, if she or he doesn’t like them. I’ll find them a good home, I’m sure.

It’s good to take time off from my regularly scheduled life to do something that frees me and sends me in a new direction. For a while I took art classes, simply to have something to do that didn’t have anything to do with writing and editing. I spend most of my time writing and editing, and I feared I could burn out. I burned out on painting, however, and haven’t touched brush to canvas in a couple of years.
Maybe T-shirts will be my new outlet for a while. If I can just think of a place where I could market them…

Back to the subject at hand, my food plan. It was time for a reality check. My weight loss had slowed to a crawl (and sometimes a halt), but I still had more than forty pounds to lose to reach my goal. I used all sorts of things to comfort myself and remind myself that weight loss should be slow, if we want it to be permanent and that weight loss slows down after you’ve lost the first pounds (in my case more than fifty of them). All that information is true; however, I haven’t been as diligent about my portion sizes and selections, and I feel guilty when anyone compliments me on my weight loss, because I still have so far to go. What conflict!

Yes, it’s time I admit to myself that I can’t eat a big handful of pistachio nuts, several nights in a row, without having negative consequences when I step on the scale. I’ve slacked off and fallen back into my old habit of eating too much, eating when I’m not hungry, and eating higher-calorie foods at times. As long as I’m facing reality, I admit I’ve worked out less, too.

It’s human nature to slack off after an accomplishment, and losing more than fifty pounds is a huge accomplishment. The problem, however, is that I have forty more to lose, and with my body shape and type, I can’t ever slack off for long. Those pounds leap out of thin air and attach themselves to my waist, hips, stomach, and butt, if I don’t watch out. They’re lurking around every corner, waiting for me to drop my guard, and drop my guard I have. It’s a wonder I haven’t actually gained weight, to tell the truth.

I probably haven’t gained weight because I’m still doing my best to make one meal a day a salad, and that action alone has counteracted my relaxed eating habits at other meals. I have had to rededicate myself several times over the past seven months, and today I rededicate myself again. It’s so darned hard to stay motivated for the length of time it takes to lose almost one hundred pounds, which is what I’ve needed to lose to reach a healthy weight.

On the bright side, despite all my slipping, cheating, and overeating, I have lost another pound. I have reset my mini goal of reaching 190 several times, and I’m determined to meet it this time, by March 15.

Now I simply have to remember why I went on this food plan to begin with. I absolutely must remember the pain I felt when I walked up or down stairs. The volume of medicine I had to take to lower my blood pressure and cholesterol. I must remember how I saw Jabba the Hut sitting on the side of my bed, only to discover it was my reflection in the mirror. I have to look at the nifty, pretty, medium-sized blouses I’m wearing now, instead of the size 22-24 I had to wear before. I have to remember what fun it is to buy clothes in regular stores and not have to look for plus sizes. I have to remember what fun it is to breathe and tie my shoes at the same time. Yes, I used to have to hold my breath, because all my fat squished my lungs into stillness when I bent over. I swear I will remember these things the next time I have the urge to eat more than my body needs.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last check-in: 192
Weight today: 191
Total pounds lost: 54
Goal weight: 150
Mini goal: 190 by March 15

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tip: Limes: The Forgotten Fruit


First to answer the questions foremost in people’s minds: where have I been lately? Why haven’t I written a blog entry in more than a week?

Answer: I took a short drive to the Greenville, S.C., area, and in two days I shifted my entire business focus. I visited a long-time, brilliant friend who just sold her business and is taking a course in Internet marketing. Together we looked at my business website (http://www.zebraeditor.com/), and Rocky pointed out dozens of things I could and should improve. We worked for hours on ways to add more value to my website, reach more people, and help writers even more than I already do. We both came away so excited that she plans to upgrade my website for me as her first class project. Exhilarating as it is, it also has meant a great deal of work and copious communication between us. Forgive my absence from this blog. Accept that I’m here today, reporting in, albeit late.

In my prior entry, I mentioned how much I’ve fallen in love with limes, a fruit few people consider, and let me say the love affair continues. When servers ask for my drink order, I try to remember to ask, “Do you have limes? If so, I’d like water with lime.” Invariably my lunch partners follow suit, and all agree that lime in our water tastes ten times better than lemon. I make sure I squeeze every bit of that precious juice into my water before I drink it.

I squeeze limes on top of my salad dressing to extend it and make it burst with flavor while adding very few calories. Limejuice poured onto steamed vegetables has to be the most appetizing and lowest-calorie way to consume healthy, delicious foods. I should dig deeper and find even more uses for limes, and if you have some, let me know.

When I looked up the content of lime, all the figures were based on one cup of the juice. I barely use a tablespoon at a time, not a cup, but still, now I know that a cup of lime juice contains only 60 calories. I’m not a mathematician, but that figure extrapolates into only a few calories per tablespoonful. Limejuice also contains the following vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin A
Beta Carotene
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin K
Thiamin
Riboflavin
Niacin
Vitamin B6
Folate
Choline
Betaine
Calcium
Iron
Magnesium
Phosphorus
Potassium
Sodium
Zinc
Copper
Selenium

When I read the labels for any “reduced-calorie” salad dressing, the product usually contains more water and salt than the equivalent “regular” salad dressing. Many reduced-calorie foods have added sugar and salt to make up for the fact that the added water literally waters down the taste. Ugh. Instead, I use regular (tasty) dressing, but use slightly less of it. After I add the dressing and before I mix up my salad, I squeeze on the juice of half a lime, which spreads out the dressing so it covers all the greens, and the taste explodes in my mouth. Love it! I'm adding vitamins and minerals, too. How many vitamins and minerals would water add?

To lose weight I eat quite a few salads, often one a day for extended periods. How bored I would get if they all tasted bland, dry, or worse, bitter! Lime solves everything. It makes the flavor of everything in my salad bowl taste better, especially the avocado. Don’t get me started on avocado, though. I’ll have to talk about those dear things in another blog, because I might talk all day, otherwise.

Meanwhile, forgive me for not checking in with everyone for a while. I feel disappointed in myself that I failed to meet my latest mini goal of 190 by the end of February. This is the second time I’ve failed to meet my mini goal of 190. My weight loss has slowed way down, but I’m still moving in the right direction, and I’m still reaping compliments from friends. Best of all, I feel great, and it feels good to feel good.

Starting weight: 245
Weight last check-in: 193
Weight this week: 192
Total pounds lost: 54
Goal weight: 150
New mini goal: 190 by March 15