What’s Your Sign?

What's your sign?

What's your sign?

The Young Man Who Was Not a Beggar There was a young man at the begging corner at our intersection on Friday afternoon. He looked as if he was new to the streets – still had clean clothes and his shoes were in good shape. He looked clean, if a bit sweaty. I couldn’t read his sign from where I sat in my big, air-conditioned SUV with the leather seats and moon roof.  I scrambled to find some money, but I never have actual cash money on me – just a random quarter or two for the toll and credit cards.

I thought:  I’m leaving my great job to go home to my nice house with my beautiful family. There will be a roast chicken on the table for Shabbos dinner – and he’s stuck out here in the heat, begging for money.  So I drove to the Burger King and bought him some dinner and a soda. Okay, not healthy, which bothered me, but I didn’t think about that until I was driving away from the window! I drove back and gave it to him and wished him luck.

I still didn’t get to read his sign so for some reason he continues to stick in my mind. Was he traveling and broke down? Does he need a job? Food? A place to sleep? I kept thinking about him at odd moments all weekend. He wasn’t there when I went past on Saturday or Sunday, so I hope his problem has been solved and he’s moved on to journey’s end.

Think how much easier life would be if, when we encountered people, they had a sign so we knew immediately what they needed. As I continue to travel on my journey towards health, I think mine would be: “Please don’t give me food. I really need love, attention and respect.”

Maybe we should all be wearing a sign. What would yours be?


Accountability is the most important thing I can do. Not just to lose the weight, but to keep it off forever. Heisenberg wrote about the impact of observation on quantum physics in his work on the uncertainty principal. Countless weight loss studies provide evidence that just noticing what you are doing and writing it down, has a big impact on success. On one of my favorite sites Livestrong.com is a great article with info on how to get started tracking. Here’s the important part in this quote:

… the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research found in a study that those who kept daily food diaries consumed less calories and lost twice as much weight over time as those who did not. Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/87406-keep-daily-diary-caloric-intake/#ixzz0qdOzR141

Twice as much. Now that’s a percentage that makes me sit up and take notice.

But are we all thinking: how boring? I know I am. And how tedious! How time consuming! Tell me about it! For years I have kept trying and starting. I used this form or that form. I tried this web site or downloaded this application. I used computers or a small notebook in my pocket. I just couldn’t get consistent. (I’m still not consistent). So I started to think about how I could make this a life long habit.These were my requirements:

  1. Must be easy – something with a database so I didn’t have to look up the nutritional info.
  2. It has to be fast.
  3. I need to be able to do it from wherever I am.
  4. Needs to be incorporated with planning so that I’m not surprised by my (Weight Watchers) points
  5. Need to be able to track my protein and carbs in addition to calories

Eureka! After buying several useless applications or downloading annoying freeware for months, I finally found a solution that works for me: the Livestrong app for the blackberry. It works and it works great – when I use it. The problem is that I get lazy and complacent and start to think I don’t need it. Then my weight loss slows down and I try to retroactively track a day. I know this doesn’t work because nobody remembers EVERYTHING they ate. Even what I can remember is usually a shock. If I eat just 300 extra calories a day, in a month, that’s two and a half pounds I could have lost that I didn’t.  Or in the maintenance phase, that’s GAINING 2.5 pounds a month, which is 30 pounds a year.

My Plan: So I am recommitting myself to journaling. The timing is right: I have a meeting with my nutritionist scheduled for July 7th. So I am going to track every bite I’m eating and post my numbers on my new Accountability Page. I will add more visibility into that equation by posting daily calories in and calories out (exercise) on Facebook.

Here’s how I made it even easier: I created saved meals online from my laptop that I can just pick from a list on the blackberry. Since I eat the same things for breakfast and snacks all week, then I can save those meals online by entering them into a past date (for example, go to yesterday’s page which I didn’t fill out) and enter the meals I’m going to have this week. Save that and now in the blackberry app, they appear as recent meals I can choose. So I don’t have to enter yogurt, almonds and blueberries, just pick Yogurt Fruit & Nuts from my list of meals. Same for my Protein Power Oatmeal, the Syntax Nectar protein drinks that I make. They are mostly with water, but I do one a day with milk, peanut butter and an inch of banana after my workout so I save it as PostWorkout Shake and can pick it from the list.

Criteria for Level 3 in the Melting Point Maturity Model. Consistent tracking is one of the things that separates the losers from the maintainers. In the past I have lost weight and lost a lot of it. But I know that if I don’t begin to track consistently, that I’m not going to keep it off this time. And failure is not an option.

You Gotta Think to Melt! So today was all about me looking at my list of habits, my plan for success and thinking about where I am on plan and where I need to refocus my efforts. Because I have a plan, I can check my actual activities and see where the variance is. Without a plan, you can’t do that. Do you have a plan? If not, maybe I can help. Leave me a comment with the following information and I’ll use some of those to create sample plans for getting started.

  • Age
  • Height
  • Current weight
  • Goal weight
  • Resting Heart rate in beats per minute
  • Fitness level: 1:invalid, 2:just starting, 3:moving consistently, 4:exercise maniac
  • Food restrictions: diabetic, vegetarian, kosher (Sorry – can’t do specific allergies)
  • Your schedule: Wake up at: get to work, school, etc by: get home by: go to bed by:

Liberty Lady

Liberty Lady

Liberty Lady

It continues to amaze me that I enjoy having my picture taken. I keep ASKING to have my picture taken. I WANT to document that I’ve done something and been somewhere and done something. I even like to look in the mirror. That’s freedom – freedom to enjoy and celebrate my life. There are so many of them, so many benefits, that I felt that today was a good day for a gratitude post. So here goes, my list of another 37 new-found freedoms to add to my first list of 100 (originally posted beforeandafterhelp.com) to celebrate that I am 137 pounds down from my highest weight ever.

Today I am free because I:

  1. Like to have my picture taken
  2. Can run a mile in 7 minutes 30 seconds (on the elliptical )
  3. Can sit in a chair with arms
  4. Can bike 20+ miles and enjoy it
  5. Fit comfortably in an airline seat
  6. Don’t need a lap-belt extender
  7. Am training for a triathlon (June 27th) and believe I can finish it
  8. Can shop in a regular clothes store
  9. Am too small for any of the clothes at Lane Bryant or women’s section at department stores
  10. Don’t feel ashamed of myself
  11. Still have room when someone sits next to me on a bus or train
  12. Have started writing again
  13. Have dropped from a 48D to a 36C bra
  14. Have dropped from a size 28W to a 14R (and they are getting loose!)
  15. Don’t have backaches (see item above!)
  16. Don’t fall down anymore
  17. Like to exercise
  18. Am helping my family be more healthy
  19. Have learned to swim
  20. Can swim over 1/2 a mile (my goal is to swim a mile)
  21. Have stopped using food as a way to medicate myself from life
  22. Am in therapy and feel mentally stronger, more balanced
  23. Have an amazing network of family and friends
  24. Am reaching out to people rather than holding back
  25. Have inspired more than one person to start getting stronger
  26. Know endless ways to make steel-cut oatmeal taste great
  27. Can put together a WLS friendly meal in less than 20 minutes with what’s in my pantry, fridge or freezer
  28. Am (more) organized about exercise and nutrition (and continuing to work on it)
  29. Have asked for permission to start a weight loss support group at work
  30. Go to Weight Watchers every week to weigh in
  31. Don’t freak out if my weight fluctuates a bit from day-to-day (goal is to weigh weekly – still working on that)
  32. I have a lap for my son to sit in
  33. Love seeing the dropped jaws when I haven’t seen someone for a while
  34. Had to buy all new shoes
  35. Had to have all my jewelry resized
  36. Can fit a weeks worth of clothes in one load of wash
  37. Can fit more outfit choices in my suitcase when I travel

100 things for to celebrate since July 17, 2009 (posted on Nov 12, 2009)
1. Started doing Wii Fit balance games
2. Began doing Wii Fit yoga
3. Began doing Wii Fit aerobics
4. Began doing Wii Fit strength training
5. Doing 30 minutes on the Wii fit every day
6. Doing 45 minutes on the Wii Fit everyday
7. Doing 60 minutes every day on the Wii FIT!
8. Had a very successful gastric bypass
9. Began walking the day of the surgery
10. Two days after surgery, I was lapping the nurses station every 2 hours
11. 5 days after the surgery I was using my treadmill
12. Was walking the day after the hernia surgery
13. Back to treadmill 3 days after the hernia surgery
14. Doing treadmill 15 minutes at 1 mile an hour
15. Doing treadmill 15 minutes at 2 miles an hour
16. Doing treadmill 15 minutes at 3 miles an hour
17. Doing treadmill 30 minutes at 3 miles an hour
18. Doing treadmill 45 minutes at 3.5 miles an hour
19. Doing treadmill 45 minutes – got up to 4mph for part of the time
20. Doing treadmill 45 minutes – cranking up to 6% incline
21. Hiked up Stone Mountain (to rail section) 1. Mile up, 1 mile down – 60 minutes
22. Hiked up Stone Mountain to pavilion and back 45 minutes
23. Wearing size 3x tops; 28 pants
24. Down to size 2x tops; 26 pants
25. Down to size 2x tops; 24 pants
26. Down to size 1x tops; 24 pants
27. Down to size 1x tops; 22 pants
28. Down to size large tops (18); size 22 pants
29. Down to size 16 tops; size 20 pants
30. Down to size 16 tops; wearing some size 18 pants
31. Wearing size 11 panties
32. Wearing size 8 panties
33. Wearing 48D bras
34. Wearing 46D bras
35. Wearing 44D bras
36. Wearing 42D bras
37. Started kickboxing classes – made it thru 50% of the class
38. Kickboxing classes – 3 times a week
39. Kickboxing classes – making it through 75% of the class
40. Kickboxing classes – making it through 90% of the class
41. Can do one sit-up
42. Can do 6 sit-ups
43. Can do 10 situps
44. Can do 20 situps
45. Doing 60 crunches and 20 sit-ups
46. Can do wall pushups x 10
47. Can do 1 pushup/plank on the floor
48. Can do 5 pushup/planks on floor
49. Can do 10 pushups/planks on floor
50. Fit into my wedding dress – it is too big!
51. Gave away all my size 3x clothes
52. Gave away all my size 2x clothes
53. Started weight loss class at Laureate Way
54. Attending Weight Watchers meetings at work
55. Started psychological counseling for weight loss before surgery
56. Going to psych once a week
57. Going to psych every other week
58. Can touch the floor with my fingertips
59. Can touch the floor with my hands
60. Can put my hands flat on the floor with knees straight
61. Can bend over and tie my shoes
62. My rings are too loose – had to tape them
63. My shoes are too loose – from size 10w+ to 8 ½ wide
64. Taking walks at work – around the Ravinia Gardens
65. Taking 2 walks a day at work – around the gardens
66. Taking the stairs at work – parking on the 3rd floor and not taking the elevator!
67. Getting my multivitamin, calcium and iron supplements
68. Having a protein shake for breakfast
69. Fit into the scream machine at six flags
70. Rode the mind bender at six flags (3 times)
71. Taking walks with Jacob after work (until day light savings – too dark)
72. I see muscles in my upper arms and shoulders
73. I can feel muscles in my butt
74. My legs are smaller
75. I lost 9 inches off my stomach – from 58 inches to 49 inches
76. My morning blood sugar is under 200 without meds
77. My morning blood sugar is hovering around 110 without meds
78. My morning blood sugar is 98! Without meds
79. I discovered that I’m a petite in jackets/shirts
80. I’m getting my daily protein
81. I lost 30 pounds before the surgery
82. I lost 40 pounds after the surgery
83. I am down 70 pounds
84. I am obesity category III – morbidly obese
85. I am obesity category II – extremely obese
86. I am obesity category I – obese
87. – I rode bikes with my husband and son for the very first time – almost 5 miles around Stone Mountain
88. – I wore a red, fitted top and got compliments on how great I looked
89. – I’ve exercised 90 out of the last 116 days
90. – I was late to a job interview because my suit pants fell off me and I had to wash another pair! (I got the job, though!!!)
91. – The belt I bought for my “goal” outfit that didn’t even meet, now notches on the first loop. I thought it would be MONTHS.
92. – The clothes at the Talbot’s women’s store were all too big except for some petite size x camis
93. I bought a gorgeous JJill sweater in a large. Not at a specialty store. Not an xlarge, 2x, 3x or 4x. A large.
94. – I sat in a chair in our dining room with arms that I’ve never been able to fit in!
95. – My son and I are taking walks together after I get home from work and I’m not avoiding the hilly routes
96. – I went to a makeover and have started doing my hair and makeup everyday. I feel like a real girl, maybe for the first time ever.
97. I can go out to eat and eat less than ½ my food (even after ordering from the child or senior menu)
98. I can lie on my back without choking
99. My sex drive is starting to flicker back into life.
100. I am sleeping well almost every night – no morning headaches from the sleep apnea

I Came To Live Out Loud

Ren Fest 2010

Ren Fest 2010

I Came To Live Out Loud is a quote from Emile Zola that I’ve always loved. My best friend sent me a postcard with that on it, and for years I kept it over my desk, but didn’t always live by it. Most people who know me probably consider me as outspoken. I’m usually not afraid to say what I think, particularly at work. But I don’t think that’s what M. Zola had in mind. I think that there are periods in my life when I traveled and got out of myself and into the world and those are what are important. They are the times you remember.

High School is probably when living really started. I had a job and I bought a car: $350 for a 1960 Ford Mercury Comet which could easily sleep 6. And I know this because there was this one camping trip where it poured and…more about that sometime! But suddenly I got to be in the band (tall flag!) and competition color guard and the senior play and working on the homecoming floats. My senior year, I raised money and went to Washington, DC for Close-Up – my first time on a plane!

Yale Talk about explosions! Imagine the culture shock: going from the dead end of a dirt road outside of Villa Rica, Georgia to New Haven, Connecticut and YALE. My life just EXPLODED (in a good way). I was exposed to people and ideas and art and culture. About the second semester I was so overloaded,  I actually stopped sleeping, except for naps. I had insomnia, so I would let myself into the Film Study center at night and watch movies all night. The only movies I’d ever seen were Elvis Presley movies that my mom liked and whatever made it to the $1 theater in Villa Rica (think Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit…). I had missed an entire life of movies from Hitchcock and Capra and DeMille and boy did I make up for it. I could squeeze in three or four movies a night, go back to my room for a nap and shower and then off to my morning shift, then classes.

Traveling Towards the end of my sophomore year, I found out that my scholarship could cover a year abroad if I was an international studies major. Since English was the only foreign language I spoke (Southern American is my mother tongue) I went to talk to the head of the department. I was so fortunate that it was someone I’d encountered on another one of my part time jobs as a bartender. He remembered my face, thought my passionate plea about never having been anywhere was a good reason to let me into the department. I had a lot of catch up, but that semester of living in London was the beginning of a love affair with foreign travel.

Africa, Asia and India Unlike a lot of obese people, I never just stayed at home and hid out. In the last 20 years, I’ve taken jobs anytime I could that would get me out of the country and onto a plane. I’ve sold possessions, ran up credit cards and borrowed money to travel. Even when I weighed over 300 pounds, I still squeezed myself into a seat and went to live in England and travel to Africa and India when I worked at Coke.  I worked for InterContinental Hotels for three years and went to Dubai, Singapore, London and all over the US. I survived the disbelief and disgust that foreigners have for obese Americans by just ignoring it and moving ahead and doing my best to correct the impression my body made, with the insight and intelligence that was hidden by all that.

Then there were the other times. The months or years that would go by when I got up and went to work and came home and went to bed. Day after day of endless monotony. Days I spent stuffing my face and sitting on my butt with a book or television remote in my hand. Those were the times when my weight would creep up, up and up until I wasn’t able to move or ended up with something terrifying that would get me moving or eating right again.

I’m living out loud now. In the last year, I have started to fit so much into my everyday life. I’m not waiting for the big trip to Singapore or a vacation in London. I’m going to New York for the weekend and the Ren Fest for a day. I’m going to the movies with my husband and the park or pool with my son. Starting today, I’m going to be posting pictures whenever I do something that is living out loud.  Here’s one from the Ren Fest and the road trip to New York to get started.

Yale Reunions Road Trip 2010

Yale Reunions Road Trip 2010

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.

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 Bariatriceating.com 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!