Time For A New Rule

So yesterday I said that I wouldn’t blog again until I’d exercised. I went upstairs and did my treadmill for 45 minutes – almost 3 miles – so the pace was decent. I took a 5lb dumbbell with me and did some curls, triceps and shoulder raises. It felt good. Plus,  I had a good day yesterday. I went and got my hair cut – super short, which was a little scary this morning. Definitely a cut that needs some styling in the mornings.

So – yesterday – good day that started with exercise. Hmm, I thought to myself, I might be on to something.  I dimly remember promising that I wouldn’t let the writing and social networking (which I love) interfere with exercise and good habits. Yep, I’m pretty sure I said that. I just had forgotten about it. Just as I let myself forget that exercise helps with the seasonal affective disorder.  And that eating to excess doesn’t help with stress, it just redirects it. Distracts from it.  How can I be stressed about work, finances or anything else if I am gaining weight and failing at weight loss surgery? Obviously that needs to come first! See how the mind plays those sneaky games? Stop exercising, start eating too much of the wrong things. Put on five pounds and start to see the flab coming back. Nothing more distracting than that and so, so familiar. It even feels comfortable to slide back into that feeling that I’m a failure and I can’t ever succeed at losing weight. That no matter what I do, I’m fat, I’ve always been fat and I’m doomed to always be fat.

Blah blah blah blah blah.

So where was I?

Oh, yeah, new rule. The new rule is that I will not blog, I may not check Facebook and I cannot surf the WLS message board until I have done my exercise for the day.

That’s a good rule.  I observed it today and did my 45 minutes – only 2.7 miles – so my pace wasn’t that great. But I got a good sweat and it’s done for the day. I still have time to write my blog, check Facebook and beforeandafterhelp.com before I get ready for work.

Life is good.

Eating by the light of the moon

I’ve been reading this book by Dr. Anita Johnston and I really love the stories and metaphors. I’m trying to truly learn and feel what I know in my head: when I’ve got head hunger, it’s not about the food. That’s just the way I’ve handled my feelings, emotions, fears, stresses, celebrations and boredom for my whole life. Even now, post weight loss surgery, I can fall into that same trap. So much of my life has been focused on eating. But it’s not about the food, it’s about the hunger, the opening that I’m trying to fill with all that food.

The meditation, the breathing, the yoga, the writing – that has all been about finding some outlet for all that besides food. If I don’t truly learn that, then I’ll never be able to keep the weight off permanently.  But unlike alcoholism or drug addiction, Johnston doesn’t think that wrongful eating is something that has to plague us all our lives. It is something we can overcome and still embrace a love and enjoyment of food.

I like that, because I like food and don’t like the idea of limiting myself to protein drinks for the rest of my life. So many people do that so they don’t get a taste of something that is going to lead them into temptation. I want to have that fabulous bite of homemade peach cobbler  (which my friend Latrece was describing yesterday as addictive as crack.) I could see behind her words – she moved to a new city, didn’t know a lot of people, sitting at home, eating cobbler for comfort and quickly gaining weight. Now she’s focusing on what she’s eating and how she can make her life more social and interesting. I think she’s going to do fine.

So what’s behind my words? I’m sitting at work on conference calls all day, grazing and snacking. I need more action, interaction, connection with people. I need something more challenging to do or I need to find a way to embrace what I’m doing and be more involved. But most of the time, the teams I’m working with are across the country, or even in other countries.  That’s not going to change. So what am I going to change?

Well, I took home all the snacks I had at work and just left almonds and dark chocolate and protein powder, tea and coffee. Now I know that I have to take only one serving of almonds and one dove chocolate, because I’m eating two servings of almonds and 2 dove chocolates. Okay, not crazy out of control, but way more than I need to not be hungry.

And that’s the point. I need to eat food when I’m hungry. I need to call a friend when I’m lonely – and their name is not Ben or Jerry. I need to do a puzzle if I’m bored, not figure out how to find money for the vending machine. I need to dance if I’m happy, not celebrate with food and drink. I need to find a hand to hold when I’m scared and work on finding solutions to the things that stress me, instead of eating to numb my body and my brain.

Physiologically speaking, according to Dr. Johnston, if your stomach is too full, it is hard to take a deep breath. She says if you can’t take a deep breath, you can’t feel your feelings, your pain, your emotions. You have paralyzed that part of your body and by extension your brain is numbed for a while.  So as a gastric bypass, if I graze all day, I’m doing the same thing I did when I used to binge, it just takes less food to accomplish the same thing. For now. That amount increases every day and with it, any chance I have of keeping off the weight I’ve lost.

So no grazing. Only planned snacks. Planned meals. Because I’m planning to succeed.

Click the photo for a link to the book.

JUST noticed I had the title wrong. Interesting. Eating IN the light of the moon throws light on the problem. Eating by the light of the moon is a secret sort of thing. Hmm… thought provoking!

Back to Basics

Well, yesterday was a good day. Got back to some pretty fundamental basics and it felt good. Did 45 minutes on my treadmill at 3.5-4.0 mph and a 4% incline – good, hard, sweaty walk. Then I ate well all day, though since I was paying attention I noticed a lot more snacking so it’s back to tracking today. I got in all my water and MOST of my vitamins (I remembered them pretty late).

This morning I’m sipping a fabulous coffee with chocolate protein powder. Tastes better than Starbucks and not only a heck of a lot cheaper, but healthier, too. Got my first glass of water and my vitamins handy and I’m trying to put together a menu for the week. Getting back on track after vacation is surprisingly hard. Especially since I had a great plan and stayed on track all DURING vacation.

Got a good butt kicking from my weight watcher’s leader (Thanks, Jane!) and some good advice from my online friend Teresa. I think I’ll take both and keep moving forward. My little binge and post-vacation vacation/cabin fever cost me 4 pounds but I know it will come off quickly and I’ll get back to working on my goal in a few days. I feel like a 3 Day LPT – lean protein train. That will de-carb my system and take off those 4 pounds and get me back to where I was last week. Easy-peasy. Plus, I’ve gotten really good at making protein food in the last 15 months. My menu sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

Breakfast: Cafe Brier Marvelous Mocha
Snack: Caribbean Cooler Tea
Lunch: 1/2 cup of bean, kale and sausage soup with Pure unflavored protein powder
Snack: Roadside Lemonade protein cooler and 1/4 almonds
Dinner: Going out with some friends for a birthday celebration, so I’ll take a protein bar and a shake with me in case there’s nothing on the menu that is protein friendly (rarely happens – everyone has chicken and salad!)

I’m putting all my stuff into weight watchers online tracker to see how many points that is (Probably way under, but I also need to calculate how many points those no-bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal protein bars are (they need a catchy name…).

I also need some time to work on my hair this morning. I did something I haven’t done in years which is hack at my own hair with the scissors. It doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would this morning, but I might need time to run by the barber shop!

Well, gotta get started and then hit the treadmill before work. Have a great day everyone and THANK YOU!

Do What I Say, Not What I Do

Oh wait, I did have my stomach stapled. Why was that again? Oh right, so I could be healthy. Really off the rails this week and need to get back on, so here’s the unvarnished truth of what I really did:

All week while I was ice bound, I tried to motivate myself by writing about how to get moving, keep moving and tell if you are moving enough. Yet I was only able to get myself onto the treadmill once all week and the only other exercise I did was a four hour amble around the Tennessee Aquarium yesterday.

Last night I laid out my exercise clothes, went to sleep early, set the alarm and was absolutely, positively going to make i to kickboxing class. But I slept through the alarm. And about a hundred snooze alarms. My only excuse is that being up all night Sunday for the software release left me more tired than 8 hours of sleep and I slept for 11 hours. Wow. That’s a lot of sleep.

So what now? It’s 8:30 AM, I have a couple of hours until I need to get to work. It isn’t iced over anymore, I can go to the gym. I can get out for a walk. I can go up and do my beautiful treadmill and watch a movie in the comfort of my own home. What is it that is keeping me from getting in some exercise? Here is a list of excuses that come to mind, most of them big fat lies:

  • I’m tired (just slept 11 hours…)
  • I don’t feel like going out (yet I complain of cabin fever)
  • I would wake up the whole household if I did my treadmill (not really true – pretty insulated – plus, they have to get up anyway)
  • My wrist hurts (since when do you use your wrists for walking?)
  • I’m kind of sore and achy all over (Yep. Happens every time you stop exercising.)
  • My toe is still bothering me (Uh huh. And you haven’t thought of that toe for weeks.)
  • I’m not sure where my sneakers are. (I am. Right next to the treadmill.)
  • I really need to get into the office early. (Why? You have to stay until 6:30. Going in at 10:00 or 10:30 is fine.)
  • I just don’t feel like it

Well – that’s the only real reason. So why don’t I feel like exercising? I made it through my maintenance period without gaining weight and I know that is because I kept exercising all through the crazy holiday period and traveling for vacation. So now what? I’m going to gain weight and go off track because I said I was going to try and lose 2.5 pounds?


Wow. That’s it. I’m afraid of losing 2.5 pounds. Or rather, I’m afraid I won’t do it. Can’t do it. Jeeze louis! That is the silliest thing my subconscious has thrown at me in a while. I’m afraid that I can’t lose 2.5 pounds. I’m going to attack emotion with logic:

Losing 2.5 pounds requires a calorie deficit of 8750 calories. If I create a 500 calorie deficit every day for 18 days. 18 days,  I am pretty darn sure I can lose 2.5 pounds. I can do that with just some good solid exercise and eating 1200 calories a day because my BMR is 1821 with no exercise at all. If I eat 1200 calories a day, then I’m creating a 621 calorie deficit every day. If I then add in burning at least 400 calories a day by exercise, then I should lose 2.5 pounds in one week. Of course, for me, I know it depends on what I eat, when I eat and how I eat. I need to crank up my protein and limit my carbs to about 50 grams a day. For some reason, my body is just super, super carb sensitive. So though I don’t GAIN any weight when I eat more carbs (as long as I’m exercising) I know that I don’t really lose any weight until I cut back and start eating CLEAN.

Eating clean is lean protein, vegetables and complex carbs like quinoa with only some very low glycemic fruits like blueberries. Almond butter, almonds (in limited quantities), olive oil and other good healthy sources of fat. All my vitamins. All the water I’m supposed to drink (this is hard for me in the winter. Need to work on that.)

Okay. I’m feeling calm again. I’ve faced my fear, irrational though it was and I’m going to go do my treadmill while I drink some water. Then I’m going to pack up my lunch, my vitamins and my snacks and get to work and start working on my next goal.

How to MOVE More Intensely

This is Part Three in my MOVE Series: So you’re thinking about moving more intensely – are you eager and excited? If not, check out this post Should I Move More? first.

Now that you’re ready – let’s begin where you are now and go on from there.

If you’ve followed the How Do I Start to MOVE plan, then you can walk 60 minutes a day or swim 60 minutes a day or do something for 60 minutes a day. But you feel that you need to work harder or else you aren’t making the progress that you want to make. Great – increasing your level of effort, without increasing the time you put into it makes a lot of sense. And is a more efficient use of time than increasing the time that you are already spending.  While that’s fine for one day a week, most days of the week I just don’t have time to spend more than an hour on exercise.

What I did instead was to begin to gradually increase my level of effort. With walking it was easy: I have a treadmill and I started to crank up the speed by 10% each week until I got to my goal. Then when I was ready, I set a new goal and worked on that for a while. I learned that I didn’t always have to be working towards a new goal. That once I got to a goal, it was actually a good idea to stick there until I was, well, bored with it. Until I WANTED to go faster or further or harder.

I’ve gone from almost no walking to walking for seven or more miles in two or three hours. I did it gradually, but just kept going. I did the same thing when I decided to run a 5k. I used the Chubby Jones podcasts for Couch to 5K and started running 30 seconds at a time, walking to recover and then running again. The first week, you only run for a total of 2-3 minutes. Eventually I was able to run MOST of the 5k I did. It was much more hilly than I’d expected, so there were a lot of sections that I ended up walking. But I finished in a respectable time of under 38 minutes and I’m happy with it.

Now that I’m training for a half marathon power walk, I have a new plan to increase my walking speed and endurance. I started with 5k/3.2 miles and will be increasing to slightly more than 13.2 miles by May. Here’s my schedule:

Half Marathon Training Schedule
Week Starting Miles Pace
12/1/2010 3 20
12/8/2010 3.3 19.8
12/15/2010 3.6 19.6
12/22/2010 4.0 19.4
12/29/2010 4.4 19.2
1/5/2011 4.8 19.0
1/12/2011 5.3 18.8
1/19/2011 5.8 18.7
1/26/2011 6.4 18.5
2/2/2011 7.1 18.3
2/9/2011 7.8 18.1
2/16/2011 8.6 17.9
2/23/2011 8.6 17.9
3/2/2011 8.6 17.9
3/9/2011 8.6 17.9
3/16/2011 8.6 17.9
3/23/2011 9.4 17.7
3/30/2011 10.4 17.6
4/6/2011 11.4 17.4
4/13/2011 12.5 17.2
4/20/2011 13.8 17.1
4/27/2011 15.2 16.9
5/4/2011 16.7 16.7

You probably noticed that in mid-February, I am not planning to make any progress. That’s because I know that my schedule during that time will be erratic due to some personal committments. So I’m planning for that and the goal is to maintain where I am when it starts, then make some progress after it’s over.

You can create your own schedule in Excel. Just put the date for where you start (today for example: 01/15/20111) in A1 and then in the cell below, A2, put in this formula =A1+7 – that will add 7 days or one week to the starting date. Then in B1, put the measurement for where you are starting – for example 3 if you can walk 3 miles. Then in B2 put the formula =B1*1.1

This will calculate the 10% increase you want to achieve. If you are trying to increase your speed, then in C1, put your current pace. For example, 20 if I can walk a mile in 20 minutes. Then, because I want to increase my pace very slowly while I’m increasing my endurance, in C2 I’ll put in the formula =C1*1.05 to increase my pace b y 5% each week. Then all you have to do is select all three rows with formula’s A2, B2 and C2 and copy them. Then highlight rows 3 – 20 and paste. You now have a customized plan like the one above and a goal to work towards.

Then copy and paste that formula down until the result is the target you want to achieve. Don’t worry if you take longer to get to your goal. The important part is that you are exercising every day with maybe a few days a month that for whatever reason, you just couldn’t get to it.

How do you start to MOVE?

Now that I’m an athlete (and I love writing that) I get comments all the time like “Sure you can do that – you’re in great shape. I could never do that.”  Well, you all know that just isn’t true. After I finish telling my story about going from being a 321 pound couch-potato to a 172 pound triathlete, I always say:  “Start where you are and go on from there.” So I’m posting a three part MOVE series so you can understand how to Move, Move More and Move More Intensely.

So. You’ve probably heard that exercise is good for you. <smile> But where do you START? Can you walk 10 minutes? Most people can, even if they think it is really slow. If this is scary, or you have any kind of pain, in particular any heart palpitations when you walk, check with your doctor – maybe have a stress test. I did when I first started. And though it was terrifying, I learned that even though I was in horrible shape, I could still walk for 10 minutes without having a heart attack. (Yes. Seriously. That’s what I was afraid would happen. Apparently this is a common fear with people who are heavy. And becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy!)

So if you can walk 1o minutes, then do that every day for one entire week. Just put on your shoes, take a water bottle and start walking. After 5 minutes, turn around and head home. That’s it! See? You CAN do it!

Here’s the hard part: doing it every day. Building the habit. Changing the mindset that keeps you from moving your body. Search the “Struggle” posts on this blog to hear about my struggles for the last few years.

Have you made it a week? Awesome! Congratulations! Now, take a baby step to the next level: on the 8th day, begin to increase the time by 10%.  That means that during week 2 you will add in 1 minute for a total of 11 minutes a day.  During week 3 add another 1 minute for a total of 12 minutes a day. During week 4 add another minute for a total of 13 minutes a day. And guess what? Now you’ve done it for a month! Now it’s starting to be a habit!

Starting to see the pattern? Slow and steady. (If you were able to do more than 10 minutes your first day, look on this list to see where to start and how much to add each week until you get to 60 minutes.)

During week 5 add 1 minute for a total of 14 minutes a day.
During week 6 add 2 minutes for a total of 16 minutes a day.
During week 7 add 2 minutes for a total of 18 minutes a day.
During week 8 add 1 minute for a total of 19 minutes a day.
During week 9 add 2 minutes for a total of 21 minutes a day.
During week 10 add 3 minutes for a total of 24 minutes a day.
During week 11 add 2 minutes for a total of 26 minutes a day.
During week 12 add 3 minutes for a total of 29 minutes a day.
During week 13 add 2 minutes for a total of 31 minutes a day.
During week 14 add 4 minutes for a total of 35 minutes a day.
During week 15 add 3 minutes for a total of 38 minutes a day.
During week 16 add 4 minutes for a total of 42 minutes a day.
During week 17 add  4 minutes for a total of 46 minutes a day.
During week 18 add 5 minutes for a total of 51 minutes a day.
During week 19 add 5 minutes for a total of 56 minutes a day.

During week 20 you only have to add in 4 minutes and you will be walking for one hour a day! Think about that for a minute: going from 60 minutes a day from 10 minutes is a pretty impressive improvement and it took you 4 months (maybe less, depending on where you started).

Okay – I know, I know – FOUR MONTHS? It was always my impatience with the process that killed my best efforts in the past. It was only when I became gentle with myself and accepted that I had to move slowly but consistently that I started to make real progress. The experts appear to agree – going the Biggest Loser route and increasing your efforts from zero to a million is dangerous since we don’t have the same support teams. Adding in just 10% a week is steady and safe and gets you were you want to be.

Once you make it to 60 minutes a day – and seriously, whether it is during week 21 or takes 52 weeks – you need to celebrate this accomplishment!

This kind of gradual increase works for any exercise you choose – doesn’t have to be walking. For me it was walking, biking and swimming. I started by being able to walk, bike or swim for less than 20 minutes and then increased until I could finish a sprint triathlon!

When you are ready to crank it up another notch, check out How to MOVE More Intensely.

Maintenance Wrap-up Report

Successfully maintaining a 149 pound weight loss

Well, my self-imposed maintenance was officially over yesterday. I made it through the holiday season and vacation. When I stepped on the scale I was overjoyed to see that I weighed in at 172.5 pounds! That’s several pounds lighter than when I declared maintenance and only one pound heavier than my overall lowest.  Success! I’m starting to realize and to believe that the changes I’ve made are lifetime habits now, not just something I’m doing to lose weight.

Here are my measurements from October:

Weight: 175, Waist: 34 inches, Hips: 37 inches, Pants size: 12 (some 10’s); Tops: size 10/Medium

Compared to today:

Weight: 172.5, Waist: 31 inches, Hips: 39 inches, Pants size: 12 (no 10’s 😦 ); Tops: size 10/Medium

My fat percentage measured 36% – I need to look up where I was in October last year, but I think it’s a bit higher. Interesting re-distribution on the measurements: my waist is 3 inches smaller and my hips are 2 inches bigger. Whatever! My jeans are loser than when I left on vacation right after Christmas, so I know that the snowboarding must have done some good in terms of toning my waist. My hips/belly will most likely always be a problem area, so I will just have to work on cranking up the weight lifting and core work.

Overall, I feel like I’ve “reset” myself and I’m ready to tackle my next goal of losing another 5% of my body weight:  another 9  pounds.   Oh! And since my current weight is only 2.5 pounds from my  doctor’s healthy weight goal for me, then this goal will accomplish three things since it also gets me to Lifetime Member at Weight Watchers. Time for a triple celebration! After I lose this 5%, I’ll probably take another maintenance break and focus on maintaining for another month or two because I think it will take me another two 5% efforts to get to my ultimate all-time, maybe-not-that-realistic, goal of 147. Since I haven’t weighed 150 pounds since high school, not sure that I’ll ever make it.

But do I really care? It’s just a number and I hope I’m starting to realize that everyone is right – it’s not the number on the scale. It’s how I feel – which is fabulous – and what I can do with my body – which is a lot more than I could do 150 pounds ago!

Thanks for all the love and support during this first effort at maintenance. Knowing that you are out there helps keep me focused and from going too far off track.

The 2010 Countdown – 5 days to go

Time keeps on turning, turning – into the future! It’s the last week of the year and time for a little retrospective.

I’ve been on this journey towards health since January 2007.  That’s four years.  And no, I didn’t lose much weight that year and I didn’t keep ANY of it off, but I did get started. I just wasn’t consistent, which was always my problem. I think the best thing I did that year was join Weight Watchers. Even when I wasn’t making progress, I was paying attention EVERY WEEK. Something I had never done before.

2008 was better, still not a lot of pounds lost, but so many habits changed and my mind-set was getting to be where it needed to be. I KNEW I needed to eat better and exercise more and live life to the fullest – all at the same time and consistently! What a concept, huh? Still, up and down – losing the same 20 pounds over and over for most of the year. Still, I went into a funk in October and lost all the ground I’d gained in the battle.

2009 was still off occasionally, but became all about forgiveness and course correction. For a change, I was more on path than off and for the first time in my life, I ended the year weighing less than at the start of the year. Then I had my big fall in July of that year. After that, it felt as if I had my feet firmly set on the path and I was committed to doing WHATEVER it took to get healthy again – modified eating style, exercise as much and as often as I could, weight loss counseling, support groups, surgery and still keeping up with the weekly support from my weight watcher’s group.

2010 has been so  amazing for me – it is the first year of my life that I was on track for an ENTIRE YEAR. The first year in a long time that I didn’t have any health issues – no surgeries, no hospitalizations, no medications. And for the second year in a row, I ended the year weighing less than I started the year. Although 2010 started with me still over 200, I made it into the Century Club in February when I lost my first 100 pounds. And I will never forget how it felt to enter sweet, sweet Onderland in March when the scale dipped below 200 pounds for the first time since college – rolling the clock back almost 25 years. I loved that I did all those boot camps and a triathlon and a 5k – learned to scuba, belly dance, rock climb and so much more. Learning to use my body and build strength and endurance and energy.

This year, once again, I went into a funk in October, but instead of abandoning everything, I decided that I’d be gentle with myself and just shoot for MAINTAINING. That seems to have worked. I’m indulging myself a bit more on some days, but back to basics on most days. No super-duper exercise routines, but lots of steady, brisk walking. And I haven’t gained any weight. I know I’m flabbier, and I have to kick it in gear to recover from that, but I know I can do it.

It’s a nice feeling to look ahead to 2011 and think, now if I can only get back to strength training and lose that last 25 pounds. Compared to the overwhelming effort of getting started and trying to lose 150 pounds, that doesn’t sound so bad, but I’m still going to break it up into small goals. First goal: to get back to doing strength training with my daily cardio and to lose 5% of my current weight – about 9 pounds. That also puts me under my endocrinologist’s goal weight and makes me a lifetime Weight Watcher’s member, which are pretty special goals. Second goal: do the half marathon and lose another 5% – about 8 pounds.  And when I get those done, then the final 5% goal – about 6 pounds and hey – maybe a 10k!  Why not?

For the first time in my life, I’m not figuring out how fast I can get to those goals. I’m not setting a goal of doing it in one month or 8 weeks – though, who am I kidding? I love schedules! Instead I’m setting a goal of doing it in a way that I can maintain – no deprivation – no weird soup diets or pills. Just me and my pouch and my HEALTHY low carb/lean protein eating plan, vitamins, water, exercise and therapy.

I don’t regret this three-month break. Because I didn’t stop living healthy, and I didn’t go that far off track. I just stopped expecting to lose every week. No, I’m not as toned as I was in September, but despite that, I feel mentally strong and stable and not scared anymore. I know what I have to do to maintain, so I feel as if it’s safe to work towards my goal now. I’m no longer afraid that I’m finally going to reach it and then fail, which would be heartbreaking.

My New Year’s resolution? Next December, when I’m looking ahead to 2012, I want to be able to say “2011? This was the year I kept the magic going”.