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.

My Daily Routine

Routines are Good Ruts I got a great question yesterday about how I fit everything into my day along with writing, working, family and so on. The honest answer is that I’m still working on it, but I’ve made a ton of progress since last July. I posted before that successful days start for me on the weekend and begin in the mornings.  But what happens next?

Professional Seat Holder My job involves sitting on my butt for most of the day. I’m a systems analyst and I work with a lot of remote teams in other states. For most of the day, I’m on the phone, at my desk, talking, typing and thinking. Not a lot of calories being burned there and a ton of opportunities to snack back to morbid obesity. I’m there for 8-10 hours a day, five days a week and on release weekends, another 3-8 hours. That’s 58 hours I can use for good or for evil.

Something Evil I used to have this routine to get started writing where I would go to the vending machine and get a package of Reese’s peanut butter cups, a bag of Frito’s corn chips and a can of Coke. I’d go back to my desk and crank up my headphones with some rock music, then start nibbling and writing.  Since a lot of my work is about writing, this sometimes happened EVERY DAY for YEARS. (And I used to wonder why I was MO.)

Replacing and Retraining that routine took a lot of effort. I couldn’t stop writing, so instead I first replaced the coke with a protein drink, and the chips with peanuts (and later almonds) and a protein bar instead of the reese’s. I kept the music and the motion of eating, drinking and writing. First I weened myself off the protein bar. Now I have a new routine: I sneak in a 15 minute walk around the gardens at work and then get a cup of tea or coffee or mix up a protein drink, put on my headphones and start writing. It gets me out of my head and onto the page and keeps me from doing any damage to my daily plan. The almonds are part of my daily points and I’ve even shifted from roasted/salted to natural. (Lots less easy to overeat on those, by the way.)

New Morning Routine When I started the blog writing, I decided that I would try and write while I drink my morning water and that has worked pretty well, though some mornings time is critical so I end up eating my protein power oatmeal at the computer, too. Eating mindlessly like that is dangerous, but I minimize by measuring it out and having the same thing every day, so I limit the damage. (Rationalization, anyone?)

The Rest of the Story So what does my day look like and how do I fit it all in? I had a hard time with getting in all my vitamins during the day, so I set up morning and afternoon reminders in my Outlook calendar. I pack them up as I described in this post on vitamins then keep them at my desk all week and in my pocket on the weekends. I have a huge insulated mug at work that holds 32 ounces, so as soon as I get to work, I fill that up with ice and water while I get my one 8 oz cup of coffee for the day. I keep a supply of almonds, protein powders, a shaker ball cup (I can’t find a link to the great small one sI got from but found a larger one on Amazon.) I have both, but like the small ones because of the size of my little pouchie. I sip while I check email and get my day planned.

Lunch and the Afternoon Danger Zone I find that I’m pretty on target all the way through lunch. I almost always bring the leftovers from the night before. Occasionally I have to fall back onto a frozen stew or soup from my emergency stash in the freezer. After lunch I try to journal my food and exercise. So far, so good. But now its 3pm. I’m not really body hungry, but the head hunger hits. Is it from tiredness (I got up at 5 to write and work out and I’ve now worked most of the day) or maybe a little boredom? Absolutely not! Software design and support IS fascinating, I swear! One trick I learned on the BE board was to have my afternoon vitamins at that point and to refill my water bottle. Then if at all possible, I take a 15 minute walk around the gardens. Sometimes I do this while I’m listening in on a conference call that doesn’t require my active participation in front of the computer. I put a headset on my mobile phone, dial into the bridge, grab a pen and paper and whatever doc we are reviewing and head out. If I need to, I can get back to my desk in a couple of minutes, but so far, this has worked well. One day, when we were reviewing a lot of docs, I walked for three hours! Got in a great, leisurely walk and my brain stayed focused the whole time.

Final Chapter At the end of the day, usually around 6:30 pm, I get to come home to my wonderful husband and son. I spend the short drive (one of the perks of living close even if my house is small and old) from work to home  singing to 80’s music or my feeling alive music to change from work head to home head. My son rushes to give me a hug and a kiss and I get a great hug and kiss from my husband. Dinner is either on the table (I’m often late – and I’m so sorry! – I promise to work on that!) or just about ready. The house smells WONDERFUL and I am the luckiest person in the world. But after dinner is when danger can set in. I need to get my nighttime vitamins and finish my journal for the day. I go to bed pretty early usually, but lately I’ve had more energy and I’ve been staying up longer. That means I can get hungry again before I go to bed. Also, if I’ve succumbed to the TV and crashed on the sofa, then I can start to get the nibblies.

Bedtime Snack I went through this phase where I made myself a greek yogurt sundae every night. I stopped losing weight though, so I cut it back to just the yogurt and some fruit or a bit of protein powder and skipped the chocolate, raspberry jam and whipped cream that I somehow convinced myself was okay since it only added another 5 points. Sometimes I amaze myself with the flexible dishonesty of my own mind. Then I read to my son and then, finally, I climb into bed with my own bedtime book and read until I fall asleep. Since that is usually about 9:30pm, I’m out in just a few minutes.

Quick Recap So, it’s the end of the weekday and what have I accomplished? I did Move (morning exercise), I definitely got to Eat, I did Live in a low key way – every day can’t be a trip to London but writing, time with my family, work, walks in the garden, maybe some tv, a few minutes with my book ain’t bad; and I had to Think:(journal and look at what I did and plan for the next day.  The area I still need to work on most days is just to Think more. I love to write, but I am not always getting in the journaling I should. I’m thinking about an accountability page here where I post what I eat and how I move each day, what do you think?

Check out my Melting Point Plan to see the checklist I use to make sure I’m on plan. Have a great day and thanks for the question!

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!

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


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 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)


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*


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


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!)


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

Triathlon Countdown

6:52 AM Getting a late start again today – not good. I have 24 days left to get ready for the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon on June 27 at Lake Lanier.  I had great plans for how much I would crank up my workouts this last month. Then I decided to go to New Haven for the long weekend. I was still planning to exercise, but other than some walking around campus and dancing – nada! No running, no biking and no swimming.

Yesterday Was My First Day Back but I didn’t actually make it to the gym or out on the road. I procrastinated until I didn’t have enough time to  get there and work out, so I hopped on the treadmill that sits in my bedroom and makes a really good “no excuses” workout option. I did 45 minutes – a 3 mile walk at 4 mph for the first mile at 0% incline, then cranked it up to a 12% incline and walked at 3.3 mph for the last one and a half+ miles. whew! That was hard and got a sweat  going, but I know that walking outside is much better preparation.

Today I have a weight lifting session scheduled at the fitness center where I’ve been swimming. I joined just for the pool, but since my husband and son have been using it, I think I’m going to try and keep the membership. I tried to use the strength training equipment last week, but it was all unfamiliar to me so I signed up for an orientation this morning. I knew I’d be coming back from vacation and that it is typically hard for me to get going again after a “break”.

Planning for Breaks I know from past experience that if I have a week’s vacation, even an active one, it is hard for me to get going again. In the past it could actually derail me to the point where I stopped making progress for years. In February and again in March I took two weeks of vacation to ski and hike with the boys on their great west ski adventure. When I came home in February, I had signed up to do another Biggest Loser’s challenge at my kickboxing gym – Knuckle Up Fitness in Sandy Springs. So I jumped right in and did great getting back to work.

Slack In March, I still had a couple of weeks left in the challenge, so I thought I’d get right back to it after my break. Didn’t happen. I dragged and slacked and really didn’t do as well as I could have for that challenge. It was a waste. I think that was because I spent the week riding in the car and not skiing every day, the way I did in February.  Since this past weekend was also a long car trip, I wanted to have as much motivation as possible to get going. I planned for this weight lifting session for the Wednesday after I got back and on Thursday I have my last Triathlon swimming lesson with Heidi.

Biking This weekend I will take a long bike ride. I’m going to try and bike around Stone Mountain a few times to get the 18+ miles in with some hills. I love the Silver Comet Trail but it is too flat to get in the hill practice I need. I can get that in my neighborhood, but I get bored riding around the same 1 1/2 miles enough to hit 18 miles.

Running (walking) I’m not running the 5k in the Tri this month – just walking. I’m doing the Tri with my sister and we are walking it as fast as possible. The goal is 15 minute miles or better. I’ve been trying to crank up my speed, but I have a hard time pacing myself when I’m not on the treadmill or elliptical. Even with my garmin 305, I tend to have huge variations in speed from 19 minute miles to 12 minute miles (which is almost as fast as I can run right now!)

Swimming The lessons with Heidi have really paid off. I am swimming so much further and so much more efficiently. Now I’m beginning to work on my speed. So I know that I need to get into the pool every day if possible, but definitely make sure I get in a swim every other day. I’m up to 1/2 a mile now, so I want to try and crank it up to 3/4 of a mile. My goal was to be swimming a mile right before the tri, and I think I can do that. I also need to do some open water swims on the weekends between now and the end of June. I’m a little scared of that so need to make sure the Tri is not my first open water swim ever.

Weight I was also expecting that I’d be at my goal weight by now or by the triathlon date, but that has not happened. I weigh 186 this morning, which is 16 pounds from my doctor’s goal. At my current rate, I will probably hit that in about 16 weeks. A nice, slow healthy pace for losing. But dang it! I really wanted to be at goal by June 27th. My “fall back” was August 26th, which is my one year surgiversary. I keep reminding myself that I’ve been fat since I was 11 years old and that 36 years of fat does not come off in a minute. I don’t have to like that, but it is reality. Damned reality!

Another Reason to Walk Instead of Run So the weight is another reason to walk instead of run the tri. My sister’s knees are not the only ones that will benefit from the lower impact of walking instead of pounding the 5k after swimming 1/3 of a mile and biking for 18 miles. Its my first one (and probably not my last one) so I’m just going to focus on finishing. I’m not trying to win it!

Planning – Weekends

5:30 AM – May 25, 2010 I posted before about how I organize my mornings. Today I want to write about the weekends, because the prep I do then, makes it possible to survive and be successful during the week.

Weight Loss Equals Calories in minus Calories Burned As I get closer and closer to goal and further and further from my surgery date, it gets harder to lose. So I have to be careful with how many calories I burn, as well as how many I consume. Spending time planning for my exercise and nutrition is the only way I can keep that happening.

Exercise I try to get one long exercise session in Saturday or Sunday – sometimes both if I’ve missed more than one day during the week. A long morning at the gym and pool, or a long bike ride or a hike for 2-3 hours keeps my fitness level up and helps me with my weight loss goals.

Nutrition: The weekend is planning and prep time for weekday meals. My husband and I make a menu plan, then do the shopping and as much meal prep as we can. A pot of soup, stew or chili on the weekend makes a great meal for Sunday lunch. Plus we eat so much less, that we can usually freeze half for a no-cook night in a few weeks. I can freeze 1/2 cup servings and keep for emergency meals, a quick grab and go lunch for work or an alternative to a dinner that might not work as well for me as it does the boys.

Breakfast for the week starts on Saturdays or Sundays with a batch of Power Protein Oatmeal. I cook a batch of Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut oats and let it sit for 15 minutes while I mix up 3 servings of Inspire Peanut Butter Cookie Protein powder. (Get yours at I stir it into 1/2 cup of sugar free, organic applesauce (just apples and vitamin c for color) along with 3 tablespoons of natural peanut butter. This makes a sort of gloppy paste that I stir into the oatmeal. I put this into a large glass bowl with a tight fitting seal. All week long I scoop out 1/2 cup servings for breakfast and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Instant, no-excuse breakfast with lots of fiber – so important for everyone but particularly for post WLS patients.

Laundry and other chores It is very easy for me to make excuses and come up with reasons why I must do this or that and not exercise.  Not having clothes is one excuse I’ve used in the past, but no longer. On the weekends we will do any laundry my husband hasn’t finished during the week to make sure I have clean workout clothes and work clothes and my son has clothes for camp.

Bag Lady I have bagitis. I love having a bag all packed with everything I need for biking, running, swimming, kickboxing or weight training. I picked up a few bags  at the Goodwill and now have the bags hanging on the hook by the front door for each sport and for getting dressed at work on days I walk or bike to work. My husband volunteered to create laminated bag tags with the contents of each bag, so I can quickly check the contents on the weekend and be ready to go every morning. (I haven’t taken him up on that yet – I am still tweaking my lists – see here for the Bag lists)

Update about Travel Weekends Last weekend we traveled to New Haven for my college reunions, so all this prep had to be done on Thursday before we left. I’m really glad we did, because Tuesday morning it was super hard to get out of bed and get moving. If I had not prepped so much, I would have been able to come up with tons of excuses why I just couldn’t get to the gym that day.

10 Clothing Sizes in 10 Months – April 11, 2010

April 11, 2010 at 8:48 AM I was sitting and enjoying my first big glass of cool, refreshing water for the day and wearing my “new” robe. A lovely soft cotton, with pastel flowers and a leaf pattern. It is light but has a toweling lining which is great for after the shower. I got it for a $1 at a moving sale in my neighborhood yesterday. Brought it home and washed it and dried it and had it warm from the dryer to slip into this morning.  At the same sale, for about $30, I got 4 beautiful linen dresses, a pair of red linen capri pants that are ADORABLE, a boiled wool jacket for fall, a couple of nice skirts and dress pants that need to be dry cleaned (but for $1 each, who cares?) and 6 dress shirts for work that are all cotton, summer weight and beautiful colors. I bought so much stuff (and of course talked the whole time about my surgery, changing my life and exercise and everything) that they kept going in and finding more great stuff to bring out for me. Also found a food dehydrator so I can make some weight loss friendly backpacking and camping food – $10; and cute little glass sundae dishes for making my Greek yogurt snacks look pretty – just $50 cents each.

Second Hand Sally I love yard sales and tag sales and estate sales and garage sales and whatever sale you want to call them. Also the Goodwill, Salvation Army and St Vincent d’Paul’s and Oxfam (when I’m in London I always go to the one on Putney High Street, near my friend’s house). I love scavenging; it’s like a treasure hunt to find a great bargain.

Essential Treasures Losing from a size 26W down to a 14R (and they are getting loose) requires a change in wardrobe, at least every few sizes. Some people wear belts, use pins or have alterations done and keep their old clothes. My plan is to have any article of clothing that is too big out of the house, because if I gain this weight back, I’m going to be naked until I lose it again. So I want all my clothes to fit- maybe even a bit tight until I get to goal. It’s a constant indicator of my progress and if I start to slack off, my clothes feel tight and it becomes impossible to lie to myself. Then I yank myself back on track.

Not There Yet I decided early on that I would not buy new clothes until I figured out what my goal size was going to be. I THOUGHT it would be a size 14, but lo and behold, here I am, a size 14 and I’m not done yet. So I’m pretty glad I didn’t go crazy at the beginning and buy a lot of new size 14’s as goal rewards.

My Weekly “Reward” Trip Every week I spend a couple of hours flipping through the racks and piling up great finds in my cart. I focus on the color, the fabric and feel, but I try not to buy anything that fits now, unless I have a specific need that is coming up (need a suit for an interview, a dress for an event, a swimsuit to start swimming, etc). When I see something in a smaller size that is fabulous, I snag it and put it on the bottom rod in my closet. The top rod has things that fit NOW.

Making them Mine Every week after my shopping spree, I come home, wash and dry everything (some things go to the dry cleaner, but for $5, sometimes I risk the W&D and see what happens.) Once a month (or when my clothes are all getting loose) I have an orgy of trying on EVERYTHING in my closet. If it is at all loose, it goes into the donation pile. Then I hang up the ones that still fit and all the bottom rack (previously too small) come out and I try everything on. Some things are so small, that I try them on, month after month and get to watch as first I can’t get them on, then I can almost get them on, then on, then buttoned and finally – they fit. It helps me see my progress because sometimes I can’t see it. (I weigh 135 pounds less than my highest recorded weight and sometimes I feel fatter than I did at 321 pounds).

Money, Money, Money Over the last  9 months, I have spent an average of $50 a week and have bought clothes in sizes 18W, 16W, 14W, 12W (rare!), 18Reg, 16R, 14R and about two months ago I started buying sizes 12 and 10. I’ve now created 7 complete wardrobes for about $1600. That includes underwear which I just can’t make myself buy that used. Ick! But it seems to last for several sizes, if I buy it really small and then wear it until it is very loose. Jockey outlets – that’s my secret.  Shoes are another story since my feet shrank from 11wide to 8 1/2 medium, and I buy about a pair a month.

The Size of Success For Easter/Passover I wore a size 12 dress. It was a bit snug, but it looked GREAT and I felt wonderful. I just had my trying on spree for the month and have a car load of clothes to donate to the Goodwill, plus two piles of suits and business clothes for Dress for Success. My accountant says I could take a larger deduction for these, based on the replacement cost of the clothes, but I’m delighted to have the Goodwill price for them. (So glad I saved all my receipts.)

The Folly of Youth When I think of the full price Jones New York suits I used to buy at Nordstrom’s for $300+, well, I feel really good about how well I’ve done. Plus, I dress better now than I ever have. Much more color and variety. Goodwill organizes all the clothes by color and I try to stay out of the black unless I need a basic piece like one great pair of black pants, or one great black jacket.

Changing My Brain I was reading in Dr. Oz’s book You – Getting Younger – that doing something like that on a regular basis creates new patterns in your brain that help to re-frame your habits. I think this must be true, because when I got to the point where I thought I had enough size 14s and quit buying, I got really sad. (I was worried that I had created a transference habit, but I stick to my budget, so I’m not so worried any more.) When I started buying the size 12’s and then the 10’s I felt more positive and hopeful about where I was going to end up. And you know what? I bought a couple of size 8 shirts at that yard sale. Who knows?

Weight Loss Therapy

5:39 AM Good morning! Look at that – made it a whole minute earlier today. I’ve got my glass of water, the dogs have been let out and back in to sit on my feet and I’m ready to WRITE!

Weight Loss Therapy Last night was my session with Dr. Rebeca Moore, the weight loss therapist that I’ve been seeing since August of last year – right before my surgery. I knew that I needed a counselor and I wanted her to know me at my pre-surgery weight and attitude. I figured that way she would be able to tell when I was lying to either of us.

Thirty years of therapy I started counseling when I was a very angry and out of control teenager. Despite being as wide as I was tall and one of the smart kids in school, I was always getting into fights. So I got sent to counseling. Not a great fit – she was sweet and gentle and I needed someone to call me on my BS. Plus back then I just followed the family line of everything is fine, what do you mean? Not a lot of progress.

College Therapy I did better with college therapy – got to take advantage of some great minds at Yale New Haven. I worked through a lot of issues and learned how to express my emotions – well, actually, I think I just learned how to FEEL them again. They were just beaten out of me to the point where I refused to allow myself to cry or to feel sadness.

Finally learning Now, though it is still far from normal  or even comfortable for me, I am able to feel and express my emotions much more than I ever have.

Skin on Skin This week’s “practice” is to have four times a day when I’m ‘skin on skin’ with my husband and son. When they wake up (or I get back from the gym), when I leave for work, get home from work and before bed. We already hug and kiss at those times, but I am going to focus on relaxing into it more and not rushing off to the next thing that needs to be done. (That’s one of the down sides of being a project manager – I’m always thinking about the next thing on my list).

Bed Time Nights are the hardest for me, because while I get up at o’dark thirty, the boys are happy to stay up til all hours and then sleep late – which works if you are homeschooled but not if you are trying to get up and write and get to the gym before work. So usually my husband does the bed time ritual. Last night was nice, because with the new camp schedule, everyone is going to bed early. I got to tuck in my son and kiss him goodnight and then fell asleep listening to my husband read the night time story.

Emotional Intelligence While I’ve always realized that my IQ was high and been able to leverage that in school and work, my EQ has always been – lacking! I started working with an Executive Coach last year, Jodie Charlop from Potential Matters. I was frustrated because of my lay off. People that I felt didn’t get as much done were still there, but I was gone.

There’s a Reason for That! Working with her I learned to ask for and get feedback and learned that I’m just not a comfortable person to work with. I’m too demanding on myself and others. I am driven and focused on the to-do list and not on my co-workers. At first I resisted the idea that it was not a waste of time to chat and get to know my fellow cubicle slaves.

Experimenting I tried being more outgoing and getting to know people at my new job. It has made such a difference in how I feel about my job and also, how easy it is to do my job. Yes, I spend more time talking and less time working, but I’m not having to battle the attitude problems that I thought other people had. Well, they had attitude, but it was because I started it! <LOL>

People Matter I’ve always been aware of what my immediate family or my very best friends were doing. I would remember what was going on in their lives and their birthdays and special occasions (eventually). And I’ve always admired my best girlfriends, who remember that for EVERYONE they know. Although I’m not to their level, I feel like I’m making progress and getting to know people. I spend time saying hello and how are you – even on instant messaging.

Impact on Weight Loss I think the way that has helped me with the weight loss is two fold: one, I’m not so stressed at work. Its a much more relaxed environment and I don’t feel the need to stress eat as much. And when I do feel it, I can usually distract myself with a coffee break with one of my team members. Two, because we are friendly, they notice my weight loss, they notice what I’m eating or if I ride my bike to work. So I get a lot of positive feedback.

Fat and Ugly Days Yesterday I was having what Geneen Roth calls a “Fat and Ugly” attack. I got on the scales at the gym and they are so different from mine, that I appeared to have gained four pounds. Now, I know that I haven’t gained four pounds, but because I was using two different scales (who am I kidding? There’s not a scale in Atlanta I don’t step on) I hadn’t really made as much progress as I thought. So I got to work and was feeling all down and someone stopped by to congratulate me on how good I looked. She said she could tell that I was continuing to work out and lose weight and she made me feel great. There’s nothing better than that!

Well, gotta go – Body Sculpting Class this morning – have a transformed day!