Hello, My Name is Karen. It’s been 3 days since I shopped

On Friday, I went out to the beforeandafterhelp.com board and posted about my compulsive shopping. I didn’t really wait for any replies, just kind of posted and bolted and haven’t had the courage to go online and look at the responses. I should have known better. Those guys are the best.
The answers I got were supportive and loving and not the harsh, what the heck are you doing things I was thinking to myself. So here’s what I’ve done:
I added up the damage. (Still working on just exactly what I bought)
I figured out how long it will be before I can pay it all off again. (A couple of years)
And finally, I confessed to my husband.

Boy was that hard. The first thing he said was, well, if I have to go back to work, I have to go back to work.
That still makes me cry.

I know how much it means to him to be homeschooling our son. To help him overcome the dyslexia and get his confidence back.
Plus he had the most stressful job – and a mean, nasty boss that made him nuts.

So for the last few days, every time I’ve felt the shopping urge, (and it was a lot more often than I thought it would be) I’ve imagined my husband going back to that and my son going back to school and feeling stupid (his words).
Other great suggestions were to take some of the clothes to a consignment shop and to have a yard sale – all great ideas.

I’m also going to keep any eye out for any other cross addictions, because I noticed that several times yesterday I considered having a drink, a beer or a glass of wine. And I am always scared of that, as alcoholism runs rampant in my family.

Heck – I even had thoughts of gambling yesterday – trying to win it all back. And I can do math – I KNOW that’s a sucker’s dream.

So, no compulsive anything: eating, shopping, drinking, gambling or exercise. (I felt bad after I realized what I was saying, wishing I had an exercise addiction. I know that’s a problem and I was making loose with the jokes – not cool.)

So, one day at a time.
Hello, my name is Karen and I haven’t shopped for 3 days.

Triathlon Thoughts

Didn’t really stick to my goal of getting out and exercising before writing today. Instead, I woke up early – too early to exercise, and wrote for an hour before getting out on the bike.

This morning I rode 9 miles, mostly hills in 57 minutes. This included 3 stops to repair my chain. Have to get that into the shop today. I also need to by a CPSC approved helmet as neither of mine are. Never knew I was riding around with an unapproved helmet. Also want to get both tubes changed, buy a race belt and some body glide, which is supposed to help my socks/shoes go on faster and cut down on chafing.

I was watching videos of transitions last night and reviewing various check lists. I found a few web sites that I liked:



Well – gotta run to drop off the boy and make it to work!

Getting Started – Week One

I’ve had such great feedback and lots of questions – which I love! The most frequent question asked is, “How do I get started?” I decided to put together a 10 week plan for getting started to use in my weight loss support group. I’m posting it here for anyone who wants to follow along.

Check out the Melting Point menu above or click here to get to the link:

The Melting Point – Week One Theme: THINK

First – congratulations on wanting to make a change! That’s the hardest part, deciding to get started.

For this first week, we are going to start at the end that we want to achieve, which is to THINK about what we are doing. If you are already excising and eating healthy – great – keep going. But if you are not, don’t stress about it this week because we aren’t going to make any huge changes. No racing out and buying a lot of special food, no joining a gym and killing ourselves. This week, we learn to pay attention to where we are and what we are doing, the first step to where we want to go.

Click here to download the PDF for: The Melting Point Diet – Week One and take the first steps towards your new life!

Check back for Week Two, due next Thursday.

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.