The Power of the Mind

The Power of the Mind I know how powerful my mind can be, but it is only in the last couple of years I have used my power for good rather than evil. For too many years my internal dialogue was along the lines of “You big fat loser” rather than “I can do anything”. I think that, more than any other change has really been the “switch that flipped”. I CAN do this. I’m smart, good at research and can put together a plan, plus the resources necessary to deliver on my plan. I am so much stronger than I thought I was. I can swim and bike and run and walk and lift weights and do kickboxing and yoga. I can build muscle. I can become lean and strong and healthy. This is so much more powerful than the negative voice. Try it and see.

The Truth About Abs is probably one of the most annoying programs I’ve ever paid money for, simply because of the volume of emails and info they dump on you. But I guess I did get my money’s worth and they do have interesting information. Some that I’ve used to good effect since today’s message was the inspiration for my post. You can read about  a fairly informal study that was done that I found interesting. It talks about how focusing and thinking about what you are doing harnesses the power of your mind. This increases the impact of the physical effort you are making. Good stuff.

Forgiveness was another area where I really needed to focus. I will probably always slip to some extent. But I am finished with beating myself up over a bite of cake or a sip of beer or three french fries. I slipped, I noted it down in my journal and I moved on. I did a day of protein drinks to compensate for the extra calories and fat and to ward off any munchie attacks. I know that when I eat simple carbs without a balance of protein and fat IN THE SAME MEAL, then I can have serious cravings that can sabotage me. The only solution I’ve found is to do a Lean Protein Train or LPT as it’s called on the beforeandafterhelp.com board. After a couple of days, the danger passes.

Perfect is the Enemy I bet you could guess that I have a perfectionist flaw? Yep, I want to be perfect. For years I thought, if I can’t be perfect, why bother? This applied to my work, my life, my health and even my writing. In some areas, I learned to be what I call a non-practicing perfectionist. At work I would have to deliver and though I would nearly kill myself with long hours and tweaking, it really wasn’t ever PERFECT. I had to learn to let it go and was always surprised that no one else saw all the flaws I could see. As far as my health is concerned, it took a long time to learn that there is no perfect. There is only the best you can do and learning from your mistakes.

To the Moon, Alice! I heard a story a few years ago about the first shuttle flight to the moon. When they later analyzed the flight path, they found that they were only on course 10% of the time. The rest of the time they were constantly correcting their course. Whenever I feel like I’m falling off track, I try to remember that as long as I keep making course corrections, I can make it to my goals.

Talking Yourself Thin I am a big fan of guided imagery. I love Bella Ruth Naperstak and her Health Journeys site. I’ve used the pain, surgery, fertility, grief, depression and weight loss products. I love them. When I was first getting started, I listened to them every night. I would fall asleep thinking about myself letting go of the fat that I was using to insulate and protect myself. I don’t need that barrier anymore. I am safe. I can let go of the extra 150 pounds that was no longer protective, but killing me. This is powerful stuff. You can write or mentally rehearse a script of your own that gently talks to your body and lets it know that things have changed. There’s no longer a reason to be fat. Embrace strength and health. Your body wants to do what your mind tells it, but its a slow learner. So if I told it for years that being fat was the answer to my problem, then it may take me years of retraining before that mindset changes for good and my body is willing to let go of the fat.

Set Point Theory One of the oldest cookbooks in my vast collection of cookbooks is called “Recipes to Lower your Fat Thermostat”. It came with a kit, I think, about changing your set point. The idea is that your body gets used to being at a particular weight and you have to make changes in order to get it to move and find a new set point. At the time, way back in 1985, I didn’t pay enough attention, the switch hadn’t flipped back then. But there are some amazing recipes for really healthy eating and as I flip through it, I’m pleased to see that the way I’m eating now, is the way the book guides. The reason I dug it out is because of an interesting post on the beforeandafter.com site yesterday. It was all about how when we lose a lot of weight, we tend to get stuck or plateau at set points we were at for years. I think that has been true for me. As I’ve approached each of these previous set points, I can see that it was really difficult to get the weight loss going again. Each time I had to crank up either my exercise routine or my focus on nutrition. Now I think that part of my success was that my mind was busy convincing my body that it was okay to move past that comfortable weight.

Have a great day and check out the Melting Point on the page link at the top. I would love comments, questions or any other feedback so I know what’s missing and what I need to add.

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Melting Point Model

started work on the Melting Point Model tonight. Let me know what you think!

Finding Your Melting Point is all about moving from where you are now, to where you want to be. You may be familiar with the Capability Maturity Model, or CMM, used to assess the level at which a project, program or organization operates. Similarly, the Melting Point Model or MPM, can help you assess where you are in your development of key skills needed to lose weight and keep it off. Once you know where you are, then you can make some decisions about what you are willing to do to achieve your goals.

It’s all about choice. Organizations decide at what CMM level they need or desire to operate and you need to decide if your goal is to advance your MPM level or stay where you are. Do you need to move from MPM Level 0 to MPM Level 1 because you aren’t making progress? Or have you reached your goals and want to move to MPM Level 3 to increase your chances of sustaining that success?

There is no time line associated with moving from one level to the next. It’s not about how fast you get there, it’s about the journey. If you are successful at Level 0, congratulations! If not, then your first goal should be to move to MPM Level 1. Stay at MPM Level 1 until you master it and want to move on to MPM Level 2 to speed up your progress. If you stop being successful, then you may need to increase your MPM level to continue your weight loss journey. Personally, I am at MPM Level 2 now, and my ultimate goal is MPM Level 3 so that when I reach my goals, I will have learned the skills I need to stay at my goal weight. I’m not there yet, but that’s my plan.

Assessing Your MPM Level

Let’s start with where you are now:

MPM Level Characterized By: Description
Zero (0) Chaos May be unaware of need for a plan or process. Exercise and nutrition are not planned. Probably not losing; possibly gaining.
One (1) Change May be exercising or eating well, but neither is consistent and success is not always repeatable. Losing, but weight fluctuates up and down.
Two (2) Control You have a plan for incorporating exercise and nutrition into your life. You work your plan. Weight loss and improvements in fitness level are consistent and success is repeatable. Weight loss occurs at a healthy rate.
Three (3) Mastery In the maintenance phase, you monitor, assess and refine your processes and plan to maintain your fitness level and keep your weight within a five pound range.

Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do!

Lucy, you got some ‘splaining to do! 6:43 am The problem with a fun weekend where you LIVE, but don’t stick to plan and Move and Eat right, is that moment on Monday when you step on the scale. I know my life and happiness should not be dictated by the number on the scale and it really isn’t. But when I step on and I’ve gained a pound I have to THINK of all the parts of the plan I might have ignored:

Move: Didn’t make it to the gym on Friday – cleaned house all day -apparently, not as aerobic as one thinks; walked all day Saturday, but nothing else; Sunday had the dizziness thing so didn’t get out for my bike ride. Uh oh!

Eat: Ate off plan at the Ren Fest: few french fries; a few sips of beer; half a hamburger with bun and with cheese and with ketchup; ate bbq pork two nights in a row instead of the roast chicken we forgot to take out of the freezer on Saturday morning; laid around and ate salty peanuts and drank water yesterday afternoon; ate dessert last night (pound cake with berries) which is supposed to be only for days when I eat on plan and the dessert is part of the plan. YIKES!

Live: In this area, I rocked: Lots of family time, time with my son in particular; a cousin to stay for the weekend; Ren Fest, a great new book to read in my bubble bath after the Ren Fest; lots of writing, which I love. Happy sigh.

Think: So I did some things right, some things that I need to work on so that I continue to Melt! I have to remember that this is not a pattern, and I can easily stop it being a trend by getting right back on plan today. Right now I need to get my power protein oatmeal, then get dressed and get out for a power walk. Still having a bit of dizziness, so  I will skip the bike until I can get to my doctor. Given my elevated tendency towards hypochondria, now I’m wondering if I’ve gotten some inner ear infection? A doctor’s visit. Hmm. Need to get my A1C done again, so that works out.

Progress I like this process of constantly re-evaluating my progress and tweaking my plan immediately. When I was a teenager, I would start a new diet on January 1st and when I gave up, I wouldn’t start again until the following New Year. When I was in high school, I would start over every season – I thought of it as the Winter Diet or the Spring Diet and so on. When I was in college, it was really once a month. Two years ago it started being every week that I really looked at what I’d done the week before and thought about what I was going to do this week. In the nine months since the surgery, I first learned to start over every day and now, finally, I’m beginning to start over with every meal.

Okay, gotta Move, Eat, Live and Think so I can Melt!

Dizzy Lizzy

6:59 PM Sunday – no bike ride this afternoon. Got back from the Farmer’s Market and felt dizzy and disoriented. Could be dehydrated from yesterday’s Ren Fest, so I’m taking it easy and drinking a lot of water.

Shopping and Menu Planning

8:37 AM I’ve made my power protein oatmeal for the day – idea and recipe courtesy of Venice Nutrition who provided the nutrition element of the two Biggest Losers Challenge I did at Knuckle Up Fitness.  The dishes from last night are finally in the dishwasher and now I need to make a menu plan for the week. I was tempted to pull one of the plans from a previous week so I could start writing, but then realized that menu planning was a good  blog topic for a lazy Sunday morning.

Healthy but Thrifty With only one income these days, eating economically is almost as important as eating healthy. I’m lucky that our one salary is a good one, and unlike so many Americans these days, don’t have to sacrifice health for cost. But we have adopted a few great habits in the last 9 months since we became OIOK’s (One Income One Kid) that have really cut down our costs AND contributed to our being more healthy and losing weight.

Eat at Home This one was huge for us. When we looked at our finances in preparation for being a single income family, we found that after housing, our biggest expense was food. Most of that was eating out. We often ate breakfast, lunch and dinner out – even paying for Whole Foods to bring in lunch at my son’s school instead of packing it up for him. We were also spending a ridiculous amount on buying prepared food for fast meals we could put together after work. Any fresh food we bought was likely to go bad because we rarely got around to cooking it, so waste factored in as well.

Meal Planning The next major change was the meal plan. This is not a unique suggestion! Every diet, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle change book I’ve ever read (1000? 1500 by now?) suggests that creating meal plans is one of the best ways to get control of what you are eating. At work, I always believed the adage that you “Plan your work and then work your plan” but I wasn’t applying that to my family’s life until last fall. Now every weekend we sit down and plan out the week’s menu, based on what’s in the pantry and freezer and then make a shopping list for the missing items.

Buy in bulk or on sale and store for later: I keep an inventory of what’s in the freezers -one in the kitchen fridge and another huge standing freezer in the garage. We buy in bulk at Costco and whenever something we use goes on sale at our Publix. They have great BOGO sales (Buy One get One free). Frozen foods are much less expensive in the summer and early fall so we tend to stock up and then use them up over the winter and spring. It’s June now and we are just getting to the end of the frozen fruits and vegetables we stocked up on last year. Just in time for this years sales – so I’m pretty psyched about that. The key is to just buy the things you really use and need. Don’t be swayed by a sale – a good price on something you don’t or won’t or can’t use is NOT a good deal.

Re-Package Bulk Items at Home We buy cases of Ziploc bags at Costco: Gallon and Quart freezer bags and Sandwich and Snack regular bags. We break up bulk purchases of meats into family size portions and label them with the contents and date. (You will start doing this when you accidentally defrost a pound of pork chops instead of a pound of sliced ham -really hard to tell the difference when they are frozen!) Or when you finally get around to using that nice bison filet you bought at the organic market, only to find it old and tough because you kept it too long. The USDA has some guidelines on Freezing and Food Safety if you are interested.

Bread, Desserts and other Treats I don’t eat a lot of bread. Part of that is the surgery and reduction in volume, part of that is trying to eat lower carb and part of that is that I’m a diabetic and I really need to get my carbs from vegetables and fruit for the fiber. But I do eat a piece of toast about once a week. I like the Ezekiel sprouted sesame bread. It comes  frozen, so I split it up into quart size freezer bags, then just pull out a slice and pop it in the toaster when I need it.  I don’t think it lasts as long if you leave it in the bread wrapper. We also buy pound cake at Costco – comes three loaves to a box. We can cut the loaves in half and have 6 weeks of dessert. A serving of 1/20 of the loaf is actually a satisfying size and on 1.5 WW Points at 58 calories/3 grams fat. We add fresh berries for fiber and flavor. If we splurge on any other treats like this, we typically split it up and freeze most of it before we eat it. If you have to thaw something out, it gives you time to think if you really want to add it to your daily points or not.

Cook Ahead I am a big cook ahead fan. Now that my husband is doing the cooking, he is more a cook now and have leftovers man, but about once a week we build something into the menu that we can split up and freeze for a future meal. Casseroles, soups, stews and roast meats are all good things to have on hand for a planned no-cook night or a night when life happens to you instead of your plan. Transforming those frozen goodies into a meal is really fast: defrost soup and a frozen loaf of bread or thaw and shred chicken or steak while you warm up frozen whole wheat tortillas. Chop up some lettuce, tomato and red pepper to build soft tacos or add sour cream and grated cheddar if there are no vegetables in the house. Open a can of black beans for a quick side dish and to increase your fiber.

Transform Food Ruts into Healthy Routines We all get into ruts, but usually they are not good ones. We have turned our natural tendency towards sliding into a rut into building new and healthier routines. I have already posted about how I eat the same breakfast pretty much every day. Each week I might vary how I mix it up a bit, but it is still oatmeal, protein powder, peanut butter and fruit. For snacks I supplement with protein drinks and while I have 6 different flavors, its still a drink with protein powder, liquid and possibly some flavoring for variety. Lunch is almost ALWAYS the leftovers from the healthy dinner the night before. The beauty of this rut, um, routine, is that it frees us from having to plan 42 meals a week and we only plan 7 meals a week. This week I will add menu planning to The Melting Point, along with some sample weekly meal plans that have worked well for us.

Weight Loss versus Measurements

Weight Loss vs Measurements 7:11 AM Saturday morning Bliss is: slept late; came down to fresh, hot coffee and great distracting conversation in the kitchen. Would love to able to stir some protein powder into my coffee – but I’m out of all but the fruit flavors and that just doesn’t work for me. So I’ll have my protein powder in my steel cut oatmeal and watch eagerly for the delivery truck.

Beach Body Count Down I’m still riding high from my recent success. There was a contest at the fitness center where I swim: 8 weeks to see who could lose the most. Unlike the Knuckle Up Biggest Loser where we had a great package with nutrition, boot camp and chiro ($250 and so worth it) this was a free contest where we just weighed in and got measured, then got going on our own. I confirmed that they were okay with my being a weight loss surgery patient, then when they gave the okay, I signed up.

Astonishing I had my final weigh in and measurements on Wednesday morning. I was down 12 pounds, which is great – very respectable 1.5 pounds per week overall, much better than I expected at this stage of the journey. But the real mind blower was the measurements. My chest didn’t change. (I’m really hoping I don’t lose much more there, as I’m almost down to a B-cup.) I lost an inch on my stomach, which was great. But I also lost 1 inch on EACH arm. The big shock? I lost almost 4 inches on my hips and thighs.

Disbelief My first thought was that there was obviously a mistake. A difference in the way the trainer measured me or he wrote it down wrong the first time. But he asked if I had noticed a difference in my pants and I realized that all my pants are bagging out in the thighs now. Because the waist and stomach are about the same, I hadn’t really noticed. How cool is THAT??? It was three days ago and I’m still psyched!

Lost a Skinny Girl I have kept a history of all my measurements since I started two years ago. When I’m seeing slow or no weight loss, it really helps to go back and remember that in May of 2008, my stomach was 59 inches at the belly button. Now it is 40 inches. Still not where I want to go, but damn – that’s 19 inches off my stomach. That’s a whole skinny girl gone from my stomach. 19 inches of fat that I’m not carrying around anymore. 19 inches of belly killing fat that is gone. Gone forever. Gone. Gone. Gone.

Project Goals One of the places I keep track of my measurements is on my bathroom mirror. I write my starting measurements, the last couple of months, plus my next goal in eyeliner or lip liner right on the mirror. I see that every morning and every night. It’s the same as posting your project goals and metrics for work: you need to know where you started, where you are going and what your current trend is. That makes it impossible to fool yourself into thinking that either you are making more progress than you are, so you can slack off a bit or almost as bad, that you are making no progress and you might as well give up. If I was only tracking the pounds lost, I wouldn’t have as clear a picture of my progress and there are definitely weeks when I would have lost my motivation.

Renaissance Woman I’m off to the Ren Fest today. I tried on my costume from last year and what a surprise – it doesn’t fit! I had this great bustier vest that made my “peaches” really pop. Might have to buy a new one today in a smaller size! Meanwhile I’ve got a long white dress and a blue scarf that makes me feel cool and somewhat dressed up. I wonder what I did with the garland for my hair? Have a great Saturday and don’t forget to post some questions because I’m having a great time answering them!

Wardrobe Basics and a checklist

5:45 AM I posted before about how often my clothes size has changed. I “shop” at the Goodwill so I’ve developed some techniques that have helped me successfully create a wardrobe that serves me for work, play and even a few dress up occasions. I’m at the point where a lot of the clothes I’m buying now will fit when I’m in maintenance, so I decided I needed to be more organized about that process. Here’s what I came up with:

Sizes I’m usually looking for smaller sizes than my current size, unless there is a specific need, like my class reunion last week. So I can’t really try on the clothes, except to make sure they don’t fit NOW. (It does happen that you find something in what should be a smaller size, but is really too big.) I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating the size/fit of the clothes after 9 months of doing this, but expect that some of your “finds” are going to be too long, too short, or just not quite work for your body type even when you can fit into them. But at less than $5 per item, I decided the risk was worth it. I’ve been surprised and pleased by how few of my “new” clothes have been un-wearable.

Color and Feel The main things I focus on are the colors – no more black wardrobes for this girl – and fabric. I refuse to wear cheap, uncomfortable fabrics – brings back too many painful childhood memories. I tend to find several of the same item I’m looking for while I’m shopping, then cull thru them and compare to find the best of each before I make my final selection and check out. I also make a last pass looking for stains, rips and missing buttons, broken zippers, etc. You can fix those, sometimes, but is it really worth it for something you’ll only wear for a few weeks? Doubtful!

Shop with a List Here is my list of wardrobe-checklist that I use to keep track of what I have. (I created this when I discovered that I had accidentally purchased 6 pairs of khaki pants that were basically the same size!) I am putting this on my blackberry and keeping a printed copy in my purse to track which ones I have in each size. It should keep me from buying too frivolously.

Wardrobe Basics List

Bottoms

I tend to start with the “bottom” basics and then build outfits around those. This is what I consider essential and the starred (*) items are nice to haves if I can find them.

Dress Pants:

  • Black
  • Blue
  • Tan/Khaki
  • Gray
  • Blue or black pants with a narrow white/cream stripe*

Casual Pants:

  • Blue jeans
  • Khaki’s
  • White jeans*
  • Black jeans*
  • Other fun colors and styles as you find them*

Other Bottoms:

  • One good black skirt
  • Any fun, colorful skirt that I find in an upcoming size*
  • Shorts for summer: khaki and white are good staples that go with everything
  • Colorful crop pants for summer*

Tops

Tops are usually the most fun to find and provide scope for my color palette. I find that the best selection is in the multicolored section, where I just go with what looks good and feels good. Since I stick with pretty basic, neutral colors for the bottoms, I can mix and match endlessly.

Dress Tops:

  • White button down
  • Other button down style blouses for wearing under suits, tucked into pants (tucked in – can you imagine that???)
  • Long sleeve black blouse, slightly longer (for those days my stomach feels as big as the side of a barn)
  • White, black, cream or other solid color camisoles – great layering pieces for under suits
  • Whatever strikes my fancy in colors that make me look great: I like stripes, prints and solids*

Casual Tops:

  • White tee-shirt/polo shirt
  • Black tee-shirt/polo shirt
  • Fun prints, designs – whatever I can find *

Other Tops:

  • Sweaters for winter and fall – I like thinner fabrics, since I live in the South and I go for jewel tones and a couple of useful neutrals like white, black, navy and gray
  • Vests – I have deep and secret passion for vests of all kinds*

Workout Clothes

  • Bike shorts, Sweatpants, yoga pants and shorts/pants with lycra to hold the belly
  • Swim suits
  • Workout tops with built in shelf bras
  • Workout jackets, either pullover or zip

Suits and Jackets

My job isn’t very formal, but I do like to have a suit and some jackets in my closet for building more professional looking outfits. You never know when a job interview might come along!

  • One good black jacket
  • One or two jackets in great colors. I confess that I always end up with too many. But I donate them to Dress for Success when they are too big, so I don’t feel too bad.
  • One good suit in a color other than black: cream, red, navy, gray (not a great color on me, but with a colorful scarf it works)

Dresses

I never really wore dresses before. I used to say I didn’t like them, but as I’ve gotten smaller, I’ve realized, I just didn’t like the ones in size 3x or the way I looked in them. Now I LOVE dresses!

  • Professional looking dresses for work – so easy to just pull on with heels and be ready for work in a flash
  • One great dress for going out
  • Summer dresses – I love long, linen dresses or cool, thin fabrics to beat the Atlanta heat
  • Winter layering dresses – wool or knit dresses – that I can wear over turtlenecks or under jackets
  • Completely frivolous: any long evening or cocktail dress that strikes my fancy*
  • One good dark dress is a nice to have, in case of funerals or court dates (black or navy) but I can always use my jacket and skirt if needed*

Shoes

I had planned to buy new clothes, but I was shocked when my shoes became too big. I went from a size 11 wide to an 81/2 medium. I’ve found one or two great shoe/boot finds at the goodwill, but mostly, I buy new at outlet stores

  • Black pumps, sandals and boots
  • Brown boots, sandals and walking shoes
  • Cream and Silver sandals
  • Sneakers, running shoes and tevas

Accessories

Since these are often things I can buy and keep and re-use with each wardrobe, I don’t limit myself to the Goodwill.

  • Belts – found a great black one at Chico’s that can be resized that I got at size 20W and I still have room to shrink it down now that I’m at size 14. Just got another Chico’s belt – really wide – with a beautiful silver buckle. Can be worn at the waist or hips and has a good size range as I shrink.
  • Scarves – always useful
  • Jewelry – I tend to stick with the basics/classics (my sisters might say boring!) and a few fun pieces I have picked up in my travels

Bras, Underwear and foundation garments

I refuse to buy used underwear. Not going to happen. Luckily, underwear can be worn for several dress sizes. So I’ve only had to buy all new underwear a few times

  • 8 Bras: Black, white, pink, gray and cream
  • 9 pairs Underwear: assorted colors, with lots of white and black
  • 4 girdles – they also last for several sizes, but once they get too big, they are useless (Like most WLS patients, I have a lot of lose skin to manage – ick! TMI!)

Outerwear

I was lucky with my outerwear: all my coats were too big by the time winter rolled around, but someone gave me one that I wore for most of the winter. So now I am on the lookout for next winter’s coat – and I have time to be very picky.

  • Light jacket
  • Heavy coat
  • Rain coat