I Bought Another Diet Book

I bought another diet book. (Disclaimer: this is not a book review.) As I virtually thumbed through this book on my Kindle, the question that kept running through my mind was “why?” Why did I buy another diet book? What was I looking for? I’ve been dieting and/or maintaining for almost 10 years now. Did I really think I would find something new?

Was I looking for the magic bullet, just like the rest of America? If I just do this or that, I can eat whatever I want and still be thin and fabulous.

But what I really think I was looking for is reassurance. Reassurance that my thinking is not wrong. That I am doing the best I can. That it is okay to eat what I eat. Its okay that I am not as thin as the “American ideal” (haha–that’s a funny one, isn’t it? In our all-powerful country, a huge percentage of us are obese, but our “ideal” is borderline underweight.)

This book provided that reassurance.

There are so many voices out there on the inter webs yelling at us that their way is the only way. That their way is the best. If only you would eliminate this or that food, you would be cured of all your aches and pains and you would be thin and rich (okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration.) I admit it–sometimes I get lost in the melee. I start to doubt myself. I wonder if what I have learned over the years is true. This book provided a voice of reason, backed by the author’s solid scientific background and years of experience in the weight loss and weight loss maintenance field.

Maybe another time I’ll review this book, but for now I’ll just tell you that I recommend it. Its chock full of good and true helpful information for the person who wants to lose weight and maintain that weight loss.

 

Its a Cookie Kind of Christmas

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This Christmas, it seems, I have loosened up my relationship with cookies.  I read with admiration my friends that are abstaining from the Christmas goodies. I have done that plenty of times myself through the years. But not this year. In the interest of truthfulness, I thought I’d share with you what I’m doing.

I noticed about a month ago that I was developing some rather obsessive behavior in regards to food. I mean, more obsessive than my usual obsessivity… I wondered if it was a backlash to my fairly restrictive diet for the past year. And I also noticed that I had become bored with my bedtime habit of writing down my menu for the following day. I thought about how I could remedy this without going backwards in my efforts to maintain my recent weight loss, and my effort to lose a few more pounds.

I decided to give another calorie counting website one more try. I’ve never been happy with negotiating these websites. They seemed difficult to use, especially with all the cooking I do. But this one is a goodie! I am totally enjoying it. Lose It is very easy to navigate, and very easy to add my custom foods to. It remembers “my foods” so all I have to do is type in a few letters and a list of recent choices comes up. It also has cute icons for each food. So if I type in Strawberry Cheesecake Protein Smoothie, first a strawberry icon shows up, then it changes to cheese, and finally it changes to a piece of cake! I can easily change it back to the strawberry icon. Its not necessary to have an icon for the food we eat, but it is fun.

Lose It gives you a daily calorie goal based on your weight. So as you lose weight, your calorie goal changes too. My calorie goal is about 1250. As you log your food during the day, it subtracts that amount from your calorie goal, and gives you the amount of calories you have left for the rest of the day. It has the option of logging your exercise calories so that you have a larger amount of calories to eat. I’ve never done this before, but I decided to log my exercise only on the days that I exercise for a whole hour at the gym. I thought that this would give me some variability to my caloric intake, and maybe would juggle my metabolism a bit. These extra calories came in handy for Christmas goodies, and also motivated me to take time to go to the gym if I was planning to celebrate that day.

Back to the cookies. I allowed myself to choose one favorite treat to make for Thanksgiving, and one to bake for Christmas. And I made my annual fruitcake for my mom. I either give away most of the goodies right away, or I wrap them well and put in the freezer for later distribution. I designate a couple of each cookie to keep for myself. I told my friend I felt like a squirrel. I have my little stash of cookies from my baking and from various friends wrapped carefully and put in my freezer. If I have calories at the end of the day (and I make sure I do!) I choose one or two to indulge in that night. I have some really light but delicious meals that I can choose from so that there are enough cookie calories left over. My turkey salad is a good example of this. Just romaine lettuce, with some turkey, laughing cow light, and my low calorie cranberry sauce. With the cheese and the sauce, no dressing is needed.

This seems to be working well for me. I have stayed on course according to Lose It, and have even lost a few pounds. I’ll report more about this after the new year.

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(About my Christmas decorations–I thought I was not going to decorate at all this year. Every time I went out to the storage shed and looked at the big plastic bins full of Christmas stuff, I just felt overwhelmed and left them all out there. I even bought a little live Christmas tree, but I thought it was going to get left outside too. Then one day I decided to just look in one bin. I chose a few of my favorite sentimental decorations and brought them in the house. In less than a couple of hours, I had enough decorating done to enjoy the season. Isn’t it funny how we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by circumstances or too many choices? When all we have to do is just ONE THING. Feel free to apply this to your weight loss efforts as we go into a  shiny bright new year : ) )

About that Goal Weight

A little bit ago I shared that I had once again reached ONE HUNDRED POUNDS LOST. I didn’t say it in the post, but some people assumed that I had reached my goal weight. A reasonable assumption, since that is the most I’ve ever lost. But it is not my goal weight. I would actually like to lose more weight in the hopes that it will decrease the stress on my knees and my back. Right now I have in mind to lose another fifteen pounds. Anyone want to bet on the fact that it’ll probably take me another year to do that?

But here’s the thing. I don’t think I want to have a goal weight. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Wouldn’t it be so much better to have a GOAL LIFE? Here are some of the qualities I would like to achieve in that goal life:

  • Kinder
  • Humbler
  • Productive
  • Healthier (which would include being as thin as possible with food choices to support optimal health)
  • BALANCED, with a side of contentedness (keeping up with that healthier goal but with minimal angst over food choices.)

For me, this seems a healthier way to look at weight loss. It is just one part of a whole and healthy life. Granted, it is a big part. But if those other things go by the wayside in order to achieve a certain weight or body size, that is NOT a whole and healthy life. I suppose if someone held a gun to my head and made me choose between being a morbidly obese, kind person, or a model-thin, mean-spirited person, I would choose the former. Fortunately, that is not a choice any of us have to make.

Everything works together. If I neglect my health, eating whatever I want, whenever I want, I will be in (even more) pain all the time. Do you know how hard it is to be loving and kind when you are in pain? So the best possible health is really very important. But if I am impatient or unkind or just plain unwilling to help a person in need because I am obsessed  with what food I am going to eat, or worried that I might miss a workout at the gym, that is not a good life either.

These are some lofty goals. I am not always balanced. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows I spend a little too much time thinking about food. I am not naturally kind and humble. I have certainly learned a lot about humility in the last few years, but kindness is something I always have to work on. I think I’m relatively productive, but I can be very wasteful of my days sometimes. And heaven knows, I’m doing my best to work on my health LOL.

Forever and Ever?

Forever and ever. Have you ever said that about a new diet or weight loss method you are using?

Finally. Finally it seems like you have found something that is working for you. And you think, “I will eat this way forever.” Or, “I will eliminate that food group from my diet forever.” Or, “If this is what it takes, I will keep coming to these meetings for the rest of my life.” Or, “this exercise method is the key to my new thinner self. I will do this for the rest of my life.”

I have. When I started Weight Watchers nine years ago, and it looked like it was actually going to “take,” I remember thinking (and even saying out loud) that I would continue coming to the meetings for the rest of my life. I thought of it as being like an alcoholic who needs to keep going to AA meetings to stay on the straight and narrow.

Only I didn’t. Me and W.W. parted ways  after a couple of years. I like to call it an amicable divorce.

Between W.W. and the Me Diet, there have been a lot of twists and turns in the weight loss and weight maintenance journey. I completely changed the foods I ate and how much I ate and how often I ate several times. I like to think that most of the changes I made were for the better.

Last November, when I started the “me diet,” I understood that “forever and ever” could not be depended on. I was pretty sure I could not keep drinking shakes for the rest of my life. So what was I going to do? I thought about this ALL THE TIME.

During the past year I have come up with a few alternative low-cal higher-protein meal/snacks that I can substitute for the shakes. And, surprisingly, I have come to enjoy my shakes (smoothies.) Thanks to my friends, Lori and Cammy, I have a very nice repertoire of low-calorie, high-protein smoothies.

I have no doubt that as time goes on, I will continue to make changes in my food choices and portions.

And exercise! Now that was one of the first things I read as I started to lose weight–how our bodies are highly adaptable, and would get used to one kind of exercise and become very efficient at that. And so it was a good idea to occasionally change the type of exercise you did, especially if your goal was weight loss.

The main point, I guess, is to know that the human body is very complex and is not static. It   changes, and its needs change. To navigate weight loss and maintenance successfully, I think you have to agree to this and at least be willing to consider change along the way.

Lessons from the Quilt Show

I just returned from the Pacific International Quilt Show. Every year it seems there is a special exhibit that really touches me. This year it was an exhibit of 23 quilts called The Tall Girl Series: A Body of Work, by artist Carol Larson. I had heard the story behind these quilts before I came to the show. But to see the quilts, and read the stories behind each one touched me in a very deep way.

Here is Carol’s explanation of the series:

in 1965 when i was 17 years old and 78.5 inches long, i was surgically shortened 6 inches with the intention of giving me a “normal” life. so begins the introduction of the “tall girl series: a body of work.”

this series highlights the 40+ years since the three surgeries that broke my body, nearly crushed my spirit and forever changed my life.

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in middle school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol's sense of humor comes through--the boy's caption says "how is the weather up there?" And Carol is replying "Fabulous."

This quilt portrays Carol being tormented by a bully in high school. He would wait for her, throwing rocks and insults at her. Carol’s sense of humor still comes through–the boy’s caption says “how is the weather up there?” And Carol is replying “Fabulous.”

Can you imagine being given the responsibility of making such a horrendous decision when you were 17 years old?

I know its a stretch, but what it made me think of is how many of us with “weight issues” are willing to go way too far in order to achieve a body that we think will make us “fit in” and be “happy.” Every day people undergo unnecessary surgery (and not just us weight control people.) Surgery is serious business. If people had to watch it like I did as a student nurse, they would understand a little better why it hurts so much, and why it takes so long for your body to heal. And why, oftentimes, it just exchanges one kind of long term pain for a different kind of long term pain. I am always surprised when people seem to go casually into major surgery.

Carol's quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

Carol’s quilt about her experience with pain. On a trip to the ER in excruciating pain, she was asked what her pain was on a scale of 1-10. She replied that it was 14.

And then of course, there are the “lesser things” that we do to achieve that magic “goal weight” and/or body image. Like the woman I just talked to today, who is thinking about (ON HER DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATION!) going on a 500 calorie a day diet. Even though she has done it before, and she has experienced re-gaining all the weight lost on such a restrictive diet, she is still considering it.

I am glad to tell you that Carol is an extremely talented and successful artist with a wonderful sense of humor.

From Carol’s blog:

I still believe this is a story that needs to be heard. Every single one of us has something in our past which has molded us into who we are in the world today;  and for so many these truths are painful, tragic things that happened to our bodies.

The purpose of the series was my personal healing. It’s purpose today is to encourage others to do their own healing, to speak of and expel their own story from their body. Believe me when I say it takes a huge toll to hold on to old sorrows.

I was blessed with a very sensitive spirit and also the courage to tell my story.  I am also blessed with the intuitive sense that the story can go on now to inspire others, without my active involvement.

Maybe this will make you think of something else that is a deep seated problem in your life. Something worth spending the time to work through, as Carol bravely did. I wish you could have seen the whole exhibit, with the unbelievably painful things that she experienced during her life. Here is a link to an article that tells a little more about her story. 

Thank you, Carol, for sharing your story with us. As difficult as it is to hear comments from insensitive, unthinking people, I hope you know that there are at least as many of us who heard, and are trying to understand, and that it has done a great deal of good for us.

100

100!  ONE HUNDRED!!! One-zero-zero!!!! Its such a nice number, don’t you think? My favorite detective, Mr. Monk thinks its the perfect number.

This morning I am back to 100 pounds lost! I started at the end of last November, so its taken 10 months to lose 25 pounds. Who would’ve thunk? But I’m glad I stuck with it. The hardest part was it being that slow and me second-guessing myself. I haven’t been terribly hungry, and I do enjoy my food (as you all well know.)

I just reviewed my “Me Diet” post to see how closely I was sticking to that plan. For the most part, my diet has remained the same as I described. I did add in another mini-meal that is mostly vegetable based between my morning protein shake and my afternoon protein bar. Sometimes I have cottage cheese and fruit, or yogurt instead of the shake. And during the summer, I definitely had more fruit than I originally started out eating. Surprisingly, I have not gotten tired of the shakes or the bars. In fact, I have quite a repertoire of protein shakes now, thanks mostly to Cammy and Lori for their suggestions.

Special thanks to friend Shelley, whose decision to chronicle her weight loss journey from day one was the impetus for this last try. Shelley also encouraged me to try just a little longer when I got weary of my limited choices about a month in. THANKS, Shelley!!

And just so you know, there have been plenty of “off plan” days in there. As you know, I’ve traveled quite a bit this year. Its hard to stay on plan 100% when you travel, even when you try hard. And sometimes I didn’t try very hard. Conversely, there have been days where I decided to just stay home, because I knew that going to town would lead to some poor choices and overeating.

And just so you know, I DO want to go out and celebrate with food. I want a cupcake, or pizza, or frozen yogurt. It never goes away. But I will content myself with a “splurge” of popcorn and half a pack of M&M’s (why yes, I do split a pack of M&M’s. Doesn’t everybody?) I leave for Long Beach and the rug convention tomorrow. There will be plenty of off-plan eating then, I am sure.

Oh, and last night I put the very last stitch in the rug! Its been a very good 24 hours.

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I’ll see you all in a week. Behave yourselves, eat healthy food that tastes good, and move just a little now and then.

Change

Why is change so hard for so many of us? I’m talking specifically about the change needed for long-term sustained weight loss. I read a book recently (actually it was the kindle sample of the book!) that gave me an aha! moment in regards to this problem.

The book was Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard, and it was recommended by Cammy in her recent blog post. What she said intrigued me enough that I went to Amazon and ordered the sample to my kindle that day.

And here’s what it said, essentially. If your life is filled on a daily basis with many decisions requiring some kind of emotional input, it becomes virtually impossible to make any more decisions.

Could that be the answer to why and when some people are able to make “the switch” and others just can’t quite do it? I wonder, if we were to examine and analyze the lives of people who have “made the switch” and those who just keep “wanting to switch,” would we find that those who were successful just happened to be at a more peaceful, less stressful or activity-filled time of life?

When I think about my most recent time of ‘trying’ to switch back to weight loss mode, I know that it was during a very stressful three year period of my life. And the month I was successful in “making the switch?” Was it just coincident that that was the month that I finished up the work on the trust of my father’s estate?

Cammy did such a good job of reviewing this book a few years ago that I don’t feel the need to go over the main points. What was an “aha moment” for me in that little sample I read was that self control is an exhaustible resource. When you have too many decisions that require a little “will-power” it is draining. Ah. So that’s what happens to so many of us.

The kindle book sample stopped at that point, and so being the thrifty person that I (sometimes) am, I ordered the book from the library. They have lots of examples of making small specific changes that relate to our food/diet/exercise conundrum. Examples like: Instead of saying “eat healthier,” say “drink 1% milk.” A whole town lost a LOT of weight using just this one specific instruction.

But my biggest takeaway was their explanation of why it is so difficult for so many people to change. Here in America, of our own choosing, our lives are frenetic and filled with more activity, choices, and events than was ever meant to be the way to live. If we choose to slow the pace down, we often feel guilty (speaking personally here,) or even slovenly–that we are not accomplishing all that we could. Its no wonder we can’t make that next decision to eat romaine lettuce instead of wonder bread.

Veggies Times Two

Thought I would update you on how the diet’s going. In a word, S-L-O-W-L-Y. But I better shut up and stop complaining. Because I am losing weight, and that is more than I have done in the past few years! So far I’ve lost 20 pounds since the end of November. Yahoo!

When I came up with the idea for the “Me Diet,” I almost immediately thought, what are you going to do if this doesn’t work? What if you get too hungry or too bored, then what? So I wrote down a little plan. Which included adding in more vegetables.

So far I’m not too bored, but I am starting to get a little hungry. Not stomach growling hungry, more like “out of fuel” hungry. So I have added in more vegetables. I usually have some kind of vegetable with my protein shake. And I’ve tried upping the ante at dinner time by having at least two vegetables, or a combo of veggies. I asked about “complex” veggie recipes recently. I remembered that Georgie had quite a treasure trove of vegetable recipes. I’ve tried a couple of her combinations, and bookmarked a few more. I’ve also realized that most of the time I can’t be bothered with complex recipes. I’m perfectly happy with plain and simple.

Here are a few of my recent vegetables:

Asparagus and butternut squash. You gotta love the pre-cut veggies that are now available. I got this squash in a bag on sale for $1!IMG_9351

Brocolli Slaw! I love this stuff. I’ve had it in several different salad combos. Its also great in stir fries. This was an Asian style salad with pineapple and chicken and Paul Newman’s Sesame Ginger dressing (35 cal/serv!)

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Here I added it to some romaine lettuce and other stuff. I had a wonderful salad at a restaurant recently that had several different fruits in it, including strawberries and watermelon!

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(There’s not that many walnuts in this salad–they just all got into the picture!)

Here’s how I often have my vegetables: just boiled with some Mrs. Dash seasoning. Its quick and easy, and I cook up a big pot so I can have it warmed up for several different meals.

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I usually cook more than one serving of vegetables at a time. They keep well in the fridge, and so are available for the days I don’t feel like cooking. Fortunately I like vegetables, so it is not hard for me to eat a variety of them. They have so many nutrients. Its a good thing, as our friend MS would say.

I have also been eating potatoes a little more frequently, thanks to another sale–5 pounds of red potatoes for $1! Who could resist? I usually have a small one or half of a medium one, baked. Again, potatoes have a lot of nutrients in them. I usually have them with some spray ‘butter’ or topped with part of my dinner (meat, cottage cheese, or mushrooms and onions. Yumm.) Don’t avoid potatoes. Avoid the caloric POTATO TOPPERS.

I generally have a lot of salad fixings around. A salad is  quick to fix when you have all the ingredients ready. And it takes a long time to eat–so very enjoyable.

My favorite (and only) raw vegetable that I munch on are the baby carrots. They come in handy, especially when I am cooking dinner. Especially because I have to feed the dogs before I get to eat…

Adding in a few more vegetable servings during the day has really kept me quite full!

That’s about it for today. Don’t forget, there’ll be an new AIM (Adventures in Maintenance) post up on Monday.