Friday, January 29, 2010

Should you be replacing food with food?

The meeting topic at weight watchers this week was how to recognize the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. After discussing how to recognize it, the question came up: What should you do when you are not physically hungry but are lonely, stressed, tired, etc?

Person after person suggested the snacks that they go to when they need a low points solution. Apples, popcorn, vegetables, soup...

I sat there thinking: This is why we all need to lose weight. This is why we are all sitting in this room.

To change your mindset and have food stop controlling you, it isn't just a matter of choosing a different food. When you don't physically need to eat, food is not the solution. It doesn't matter if all you're eating is celery. You are still eating it to fill a void that food can't fill. That piece of celery won't do much damage to your waistline, but you haven't accomplished anything in dealing with why you need to eat. You are playing a game, not changing your habits.

I don't think the solution to this problem is the same for everyone. Some things that I find help are to journal, blog, exercise, or do crafts. Get some me time, go take a bath, go for a walk, or paint your nails. Some of these things will work for some people, some of the time.

But, I do know what the solution is not. The solution is not to eat. It doesn't matter what you are eating.

What are things that you do when you aren't hungry but feel like eating?

And, my weekly news. Yesterday I weighed in at 236.0 pounds, for a weekly loss of 2.6 and a total loss of 7.8!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How often do you weigh yourself?

When I was in my early 20s, I lost a lot of weight for the first time. I weighed myself every morning when I got up, after my shower, whenever I went into the bathroom... Truly, I was obsessive. If I was at a friend's house and they had a scale in their bathroom, I'd even check there.

Then, while I gained the weight back, I never stepped on the scale at all.

The next time I lost a lot of weight, I did it on weight watchers. So, I had the official weigh in once a week, but again, I'd weigh myself repeatedly in between. If my weight went up, it stressed me out and disheartened me. If my weight was down, I got cocky and thought I could get away with a little treat here or there. I'd still check my weight after the little treat though, and I'd check the next morning, at the gym, etc.

Then, while I gained the weight back, I never stepped on the scale at all.

The thing is, I think there's more to the yo-yo of weight loss/gain then the actual numbers on the scale. A big part of it is the mindset. And, when you adopt an extreme mindset, it isn't something that can be maintained in the long term. Hence yo-yoing to the other extreme of the mindset. For me, one area that this manifested was in my relationship with the scale.

This time, losing weight is not my only goal. My bigger goal is to figure out what I need to do to stay healthy and keep it off. I think one of the answers to that is moderation.

Since I'm doing weight watchers again, I have my once a week weigh in. That's it. In fact, that first week, I asked my husband to hide the bathroom scale.

Within a few days, I asked him if I could check. Just to have an idea what the numbers were like. He said no. Before the first week was over, I started looking for it. Not an all out complete search, but I peeked in the cabinets, and moved towels around in the linen closet. I didn't find it.

So, I only see my weight once a week. You know what? That's okay. At times, I find it really frustrating. But, I'm not dwelling on it.

The scale is not our only measure of success, and it isn't even the most important one.
The numbers on the scale are one thing in this journey that we really don't have control over. There will be times that you do everything right, but still don't lose weight. Other times, you'll spend the week eating chocolate cake and still lose. In the long run, it will even out and your efforts will effect the numbers in the way you want, but in the short run, those numbers sometimes fluctuate in ways that seem unrelated to what you do.

I'm learning to define my success by the choices I made. A good day (foodwise) is becoming a day where I ate lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and got a great work out in. A day to improve upon is one where I eat a bag of smarties.

So, how often do you weigh yourself? Does it work for you now, and do you see it working for you in the long term?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cut the Drama

Today I was struck by a giant chocolate craving. One of those ones where I felt like I just needed chocolate and I needed it now. I scoured the cupboards and looked through the fridge, trying to find something that would give me a fix. Just when I was about to give up, I found it. A bag of smarties that I had bought to decorate a gingerbread train at Christmas and never opened.

I opened it.

I ate them.

Okay, not all of them, but we're not talking a single serving sized box either. We're talking a bag that has many many servings in it. I'm going to estimate that I had 6 servings, at 140 calories each serving. For a total of 840 calories.


This is one of those make 0r break it kind of moments. This is the type of moment where, in the past, I would have started to feel like I had totally blown it. And if I'd blown it, I may as well make it worth it to blow it. I may as well bake up some cookies or hit a drive thru. No point in working out tonight. I've blown it anyways, right? Yikes. I'm going to be up at my weigh in. I don't want to go if my weight is going to be up. Maybe I'll just skip it. Just for this week. I'll go again next week, if I do better then...

A few months ago I read an article and there was one phrase from that article that resonated with me.

Cut the Drama.

Seriously. Cut the drama. Everybody has the occasional slip up in their life. Perhaps they're like me and it's with food. Perhaps they're trying to change something else about their life. And when you have one of these slip ups, what you have to do is keep it in perspective. Yes. I had 800 plus calories of nothing. No nutrition, no vitamins, just calories and fat.

So what? It may set me back from the day I make my goal by a couple days. It has made me feel crappy and my stomach already isn't liking the feeling. But right now I have a choice. I can choose to let it get to me and be all dramatic about it, or I can choose to move on. I can still get a good work out in this evening and be aware of what I eat.

That is what I am going to choose. I still had dinner, but I kept it light. A salad with a boiled egg on top for protein. I'm going to work out when I'm done typing this post. Perhaps a bit longer then usual, but I won't overdo it.

Next time I need to have something chocolate, I'll make myself a cup of hot chocolate or I'll go for a walk and see if I still need it.

But one thing I will do is, I'll cut the drama. And that's big for me. After all, I have a university degree in Drama.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wasting food

Just a quick thought for today before I head to an early bedtime. I have one child teething right now and the other potty training (aka peeing his pants alot). It's exhausting.

Many times in the past, I've eaten something because I didn't want to waste food. I'm sure many of you have as well. We're taught not to waste it because, after all, there are starving children in Africa.

The thing is though, if you eat something you don't need, it's wasted anyways. Only now, it's wasted on your hips and you're going to have to work that much harder to get it off.

Just something to think about next time you're trying not to waste food. Either pack it up and put it in the fridge/freezer for later, or toss it in the garbage. Seriously.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weight Watchers - the not so good

Weight watchers isn't a perfect program. I think it can be very effective and helpful, but it is better when you're aware of some of the potential pitfalls. Today I'm going to talk about the aspects of the program that I think could be improved upon. They include the weekly points, the avoidance of all fat, lasting foods and processed food.

When I first did weight watchers, it was when they had their 1-2-3 points program out. One of the key differences between this program and the later ones was how the points were divided. In that system, you had a point range for each day. You could bank points, but it was up to a maximum number - about 2 days worth of extra points. Now, you have a target for the day which would be the equivalent to the old minimum amount. Then, instead of having a range, you have a whole bunch of points that you can eat at any time during the week - split up or a little each day.

In my opinion, this sets people up for binges. Losing weight and keeping it off is about changing your way of thinking and creating new habits. This big number of points encourages people to slip into their old habits. To allow yourself a "treat night" once a week. To me, this is essentially game playing. I would think this system was better if there was even a maximum set to the number of weekly points that could be eaten in one day, but there isn't.

The next thing that I have a problem with is the how fat has been made the villain. Don't get me wrong, I know that it is best to have a diet low in fat, but there are good fats and bad fats. Fat also serves a purpose. The points calculation penalizes fat so heavily that it makes it tempting to avoid eating it altogether. But fat helps you to stay satisfied longer; it keeps your skin from drying out; it's needed so our bodies can absorb certain vitamins. In short, it's about moderation. It's not healthy to cut fat out any more then it is to cut carbohydrates or protein out. Although weight watchers doesn't specifically cut it out, I think the calculation used makes it very undesirable to eat.

The next area isn't so much something I think weight watchers is doing wrong, but something I think would be very beneficial for them to add in. A category for lasting foods. It's great that they have the filling foods category, but I think it would be that much better if they helped people recognize which foods will last. A salad full of fresh vegetables might fill you up, but you'll be hungry an hour later. Add some chicken breast and grated cheese to it, and it will keep you going for a long time. In short, all weight watchers has to do is focus on the importance of combining proteins with carbohydrates in every meal and snack.

The last area I would like to mention is the one that I think bothers me the most. The processed food that weight watchers itself sells. Despite bringing in their filling foods list, their meetings are packed with items that have limited nutritional value, are full of artificial sweeteners and don't come anywhere close to being on that list. Sometimes it's a little hard to buy the importance of unprocessed foods when their chocolate bars, pretzels and candies are in your face all the time.

Overall, I still think weight watchers is a good system. But, it isn't perfect, and as long as they are trying as hard to make money as they are trying to help people lose weight, it will stay that way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Weight Watchers - the Good

Weight Watchers is probably one of the biggest weight loss companies in the world. While I don't have any statistics to back that up, I think it's pretty obvious they make a lot of money off the diet industry. As someone that has followed weight watchers in the past and is currently following it, I have seen them change their program a few times. There's good parts and not as good parts to the program. Today, I am going to talk about what I think are the good parts.

The aspects that I think are among the best components of the program are: the points system, the meetings, the filling foods and their tracking papers.

Weight loss happens when you expend more calories then you consume. Weight watchers knows this. They also know that people don't want to do too much math. If they have to add 127, 342 and 94, they are going to get frustrated and stop bothering. So, weight watchers took the numbers and rounded them off. Yes, fat and fiber play a roll, but mainly this is to encourage people to eat less fat and more fiber. The result of the points system is that it makes it very easy to keep track of the amount of food being consumed. It's pretty easy for anyone to add up 2, 6, and 3. (this is just an example, not the actual values of the calories listed above.)

The meetings are the key part of why weight watchers works for me, and for others as well. It's a weekly time to recommit to the program. The topics tend to be well presented and helpful. For instance, so far this year, they've discussed food tracking, filling foods, and the importance of activity. I've gone to enough meetings that I've seen topics repeat over time, but with group discussion, there's always a different spin on it. Even when it's very similar, it's still a good reminder of what I might already know.

Being weighed in by someone else and having them write that number down keeps you from being able to hide from it. Having a room full of people applaud when you hit weight loss milestones gives you positive reinforcement and keeps you coming back.

The Filling Foods category is a new one since I last did weight watchers, and in my opinion, one of the best changes they've made to the program. In the past, the strongest focus always seemed to be on points. Purely points. I recognize that this is the key to weight loss, but it's important to keep health in mind as well. The filling foods list includes foods that are primarily unprocessed, low in fat, high in fibre, and healthy. You're encouraged to eat from this list as much as possible. I think it's great that weight watchers has changed their tune from "eat whatever you want, just count points" to "eat from this list as much as you can".

One aspect that almost every weight loss plan has in common is that they ask you to track your food. Weight watchers is no exception. One of the key to losing weight is being aware of what you put in your mouth and how much. This is another area they've slightly changed since I was last on the program and, in my opinion, for the better. There's space for you to write down all your foods and keep track of points. The addition that I like is the check boxes at the side for all the food groups. These check boxes model Canada's food guide, something that was not well focussed on in previous versions of the program.

The first meeting I was at, my leader told me that before eating any snacky foods, I should make sure that I've fulfilled all the requirements. I haven't read this in any of the paperwork yet, and I wish it was there as well. Good health isn't just about avoiding the wrong foods, it's about eating the right ones. When I'm nearing the end of my day, I look over my tracker, and if I see that I haven't had enough milk, I have yogurt for my evening snack. If fruit/veggies is low, I make sure that's included. (I do eat an evening snack; that no eating after dinner rule has never worked for me or my body.)

Overall, weight watchers is a good program. Obviously I think so, which is the main reason I'm following it. However, lest you think I am paid or employed by them, tune in tommorow for my piece on what I think the negative sides of their program are...

And, in news about me, I had another successful weigh in. This week, I weighed in at 238.6 pounds, giving me a weekly weight loss of 2.8 pounds, and a total loss of 5.2. Yipee! I'm on my way.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kitchen Gadgets - Apple slicer and Corer

Those who know me well know that I love kitchen gadgets and small appliances. I think some of this stems from not having a lot of extras growing up. I was never left needing the necessities, but my parents didn't buy a lot of luxuries. If we could make do with one tool, why buy a different tool that will only do one job?

Well, when I grew up and moved out on my own, I discovered why. I discovered that there are all kinds of tools, gadgets and small appliances that are made to do a certain job perfectly. Why make do with a spoon to scrape out a bowl when what you really need is a spatula. Thus, began my obsession...

Today, I introduce you to one of my newest kitchen gadgets. The apple corer.Now, I have never been a huge eater of apples. Don't get me wrong. I've always liked them enough to eat them occasionally, but I didn't enjoy the experience of eating them. For some reason, I don't enjoy biting into an apple that much. I always liked them better sliced up, but didn't feel like taking the time to do so very often.

Now I have an apple corer. I requested this particular kitchen gadget as a Christmas gift mainly to make it quicker when I make apple based desserts, such as apple crisp. Once I started using it though, I didn't stop. Apples for breakfast, in yogurt, with peanut butter, as an afternoon snack... Truly, I am loving apples right now. My favourite is to have the apple in plain, homemade yogurt with some cinnamon sprinkled on. Yummy!

It's so simple to use. You put your apple on a cutting board, then line the corer up on top of it. If the apple has the skin on, you have to wiggle it a bit to get through the skin initially. (I like my apples peeled sometimes, but so much of the nutrition is right under the skin, so you should eat it with the skin most of the time.)
Push down on the corer and it slices right through your apple, giving you a core for compost pile and nicely cut pieces to munch on.
Have it with an ounce of cheese and you've got yourself a nice healthy, tasty snack!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The grass is always greener...

When I started up this blog, I received quite a few messages from friends and acquaintances. They offered support and talked about their own struggles.

Upon receiving a couple of these messages, my first reaction was "huh?". I received messages from beautiful, confident women whom I never would have guessed had encountered challenges when it came to their weight or their body image. They are the kind of women I look at and am jealous of. Yes, I admit it, I am absolutely jealous of women whom I perceive to have an easy time with their weight and body image.

But that's the thing, isn't it? It's all about perception. In reality, I had no idea what struggles these women had with their weight or otherwise. It's far too easy to judge people based on what we see on the surface. Even assuming someone else is judging you is a form of judgement.

In the past year, I've heard more then one friend talk about their difficulties in gaining weight. In some ways, these women have it the hardest. Utter a single complaint about weighing too little and they are bound to be shot down with "I wish I had your problem!"

Likewise those that have less weight to lose. It's easy to look at a woman only wanting to lose 10 pounds and thinking that I have nothing in common with her. Yet, I have no idea how that 10 pounds is effecting her self esteem. I have no idea the struggle she may be having with it. After all, aren't the last 10 pounds the hardest to lose?

It's not always about weight either. I remember a time in my early 20s. I sat down with someone close to me and told her about some of the issues and challenges I had dealt with in my teens. She related to me the difficulties she had encountered - not related to weight or body image. This is a person that I had long been jealous of, but after hearing her talk, I will say that I would never have wanted to experience her struggles instead of my own.

I do believe that our society has a problem with discrimination based on size. I actually think the problem is getting worse rather then better. With so many other stereotypes becoming politically incorrect (as they should be), it seems size is one of the few remaining "acceptable" stereotypes. And, apparently it is more acceptable to judge people on this because people have a "choice" in the matter. But I think this is also an area where we tend to judge others as a way to protect ourselves.

We have to remember though, that the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. And even if it is, we have no idea what the gardener went through to make it that way.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paying attention to what your body really wants and needs

Well, it's official. I'm sick. Nothing serious, just a cold. Enough to make me tired, sniffly and a little bit cranky.

It's also the kind of thing that I've let throw me off track countless times before. I use it as an excuse to stop tracking, and eat what I want. And what do I want? Well, usually I end up eating comfort food. Cookies, muffins, pasta, you get the drift. It's also easy-to-grab foods , since when I'm sick, I don't feel like taking the time in the kitchen to make things. So, sometimes that's when I grab the granola bars or the crackers. You get the drift...

To be honest, right now, I'm not too happy with my food choices today. I'll be within my points, but if you've read my post about the diet part of my plan, that's not all there is to it. I started out well, with a bowl of hot 5 grain cereal, milk and saskatoon berries, but it went down from there. Snack was crackers and cheese. I had some crispy minis (little rice cakes) in the car. Half a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch.

Don't get me wrong. I don't consider these horrible foods, and it doesn't make the day a write off, but by eating these foods, I'm not getting the whole, unprocessed foods that I do need in my diet. What I'm doing is grabbing the easily accessible foods that require little effort.

So, right now, while I'm writing this, I'm trying to focus on what my body really needs. If I really think about it, I could go for an orange right now. Maybe a bowl of soup for dinner. Those things feel like they'd be really satisfying right now.

On the other side of it, if I picture myself eating a muffin, I don't see myself feeling better because of it. If I think about a cookie (which is what I was considering prior to sitting down to write this post), I feel like it will make me feel bloated and lethargic.

Sometimes when I've been going all day, my body is lacking protein. In the past, I'd often find myself eating one thing after another - like I'm searching for the right thing. Perhaps that is exactly what I was doing. I was filling myself up with whatever was easy to grab when what I really needed was half an ounce of nuts, or a piece of chicken breast.

Sometimes what I need to do is stop and think about it. And that's exactly what I've done while writing this blog post. It's now clear to me that my body won't benefit from that cookie, but it will be worth the time to peel an orange. And later this afternoon, I think I'll have a hot peppermint tea.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turkey apple burgers

I love food, so for me to change my habits, I've discovered that I still need to embrace that part of me, but with a different approach. One way for me to do this is to keep trying new things in the kitchen. This week, one of those new things was Turkey apple burgers.


1 lb Ground turkey
1 cup Rolled oats
half an Onion
1 Apple (I used granny smith, whatever you have around will work).
1 Egg
Spices (I was lazy and used some Mrs Dash. Some garlic, parsley and basil would work nicely).


1. Throw everything together in a bowl.
2. Mix it up. You'll probably have to get your hands in there to do it. I've heard that stand mixers can do this type of job, but alas, I don't have a stand mixer... yet.
3. Form it into patties. I do some slightly bigger and some smaller, since my kids may or may not eat them. About 8 patties is a good amount and easy to divide, since you just split it in half over and over again.

4. Throw it on the grill. I have a double sided indoor grill - my most used small appliance. If you don't have one, you could also do these in a frying pan, a broiler pan in the oven or on the barbeque.
5. Put it on a whole grain bun with your choice of toppings and a side of veggies or a salad.
6. Eat!

Nutritional info (one patty): 91 calories, 1.9 grams of fat, 1.1 grams fibre, 6.7 grams of carbohydrate, 11.7 grams of protein.

Make sure you count whatever you eat it with. :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Setting realistic expectations

34 pounds.

That's the amount of weight lost in the first week by a contestant on the Biggest Loser. With reality tv at it's height and weight loss shows becoming ever more popular, is it any wonder that so many of us are starting to have unrealistic expectations?

Yesterday evening I had my second weigh in. After a week of diligently following the program, staying within my points and working out daily, I weighed in at 241.4 pounds, giving me a loss of 2.4 pounds. My first reaction upon seeing that number was disappointment.


That's right folks. Since about the age of 12, I've read fitness magazines and books. I absorb the information within them and am almost obsessive in my knowledge of what is recommended and healthy. Yet, I found myself disappointed with losing an amount that was almost exactly 1 percent of my body weight.

In reality that is the maximum that I should lose per week.

As nice as it would be to have a quick fix, it's important to remember that a quick fix is just that. Quick. And often it is quickly over too. Research shows that weight lost quickly is weight easily gained back. It would be far better to take a year and a half to lose weight then to lose it all in 6 months and gain it back 6 months later.

The recommended rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, or 1 percent of your body weight. In fact, some sources even recommend a rate of 0.5 - 1 pound per week. It seems slow, and in some ways it is. This is where you have to start looking long term and considering why you are trying to lose weight. Setting unrealistic goals will not help you. They set you up for disappointment, making you frustrated and making it harder to stick to your plan.

I'm in this for life. I'm no longer trying to lose weight to look good in my wedding dress or fit into a bikini. I'm doing it so that I can hike up a mountain without huffing and puffing, so I can climb stairs without my knees aching and so that I have the energy to keep up with my children and lead a quality life.

If I had taken this attitude 6 years ago (last time I was at a healthy weight), I would still be there today. So, while I may not be at my ideal weight in 6 months, I will be in 18 months. And I still will be in 6 years and even 16 years. Really a year and a half is a small price to pay when I'm talking about the rest of my life.

So, while my initial reaction to my weight loss was disappointment, upon reflection, it's elation. Because I've taken the first step. Heck, I've taken the first 10 steps. After all, this isn't a little interpretive trail I'm on, but the first of many through hikes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sleep deprivation

One of the most important things in changing your habits is identifying your triggers and finding ways of avoiding or dealing with them. Triggers, put simply, are things that cause you to eat more. It doesn't matter if the triggers are reasons or excuses; they are something that you need to learn to live with or avoid.

One of my biggest triggers is sleep deprivation. Since the birth of my son, I sometimes think I have been in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation. Then I went and had my children 17 months apart, and continued the poor sleep cycle. As someone who used to need a minimum of 8.5 - 9 hours of sleep a night to function, I've learned to deal fairly well with 5-6. I don't really start hitting a state of non-functionality until I'm under 4 hours, and even then I can usually manage to deal.

I deal by eating. It's like I substitute food for those extra hours. And the foods I substitute most are the refined carbohydrates, the things that give me the sugary boost.

And the question is, how to change that?

First step is avoidance. There are times when I have been sleep deprived and not taken the opportunity to get extra sleep. My husband is one of those wonderful men that will often watch the kids and let me sleep in on weekends or go to bed early. There are still occasions (becoming fewer and more precious) that both my children will nap at the same time. These are all opportunities to get more sleep.

(A quick aside: we won't be discussing how to get my children to sleep better here. That's a subject for my parenting blog, when/if I choose to discuss it.)

Sometimes avoidance doesn't work though. Whether it's teething, nightmares, sickness or other reasons, sometimes my children are going to wake up all night long and that means I will too.

That's when I have to learn how to deal with it in other ways.

Today is one of those days. Before I would start one of these days off by grabbing a cookie or a bowl of my husband's frosted flakes. Today, I made myself a bowl of 5 grain hot cereal and threw some peaches on top. I'm now drinking a cup of hot peppermint tea. I can't do much caffeine since having my gall bladder out, so sadly, that's not an option for me.

The thing is, I don't really know how to deal with it, so today is something of an experiment. My plan is to keep food in myself, but really focus on the whole grains, fruits, and healthy proteins. I'll also be going outside this afternoon for a walk with the kids (thanks to our continuing chinook). I think the biggest thing is to keep busy, so maybe my house will get cleaner today.

I remember reading once that for every hour of sleep debt, you lose 10 IQ points. Even looking back at this blog post, I think that might be true. I don't feel like it has the same quality of writing as usual. Good thing I was pretty smart to begin with. ;) Otherwise I wouldn't be able to put 2 words together.

So, a question for my readers today: How do you deal with sleep deprivation, and what are your triggers?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Getting outside

For the past week, I have diligently worked out every evening. After the kids are in bed, I go downstairs, hop on an exercise machine and watch some television while I pedal or row away. I feel good afterwards, I get a little bit of time to myself, and I unwind. I've even started looking forward to this time, which is great. I don't remember another time where I looked forward to exercising to quite the same extent.

But, it isn't the same as going outside. Living in Canada means living with months of winter and sometimes it becomes tempting to hibernate. I admire the people that will still go out and run in minus 20 or 30 weather, but I'm not one of them. I do try to go outside with my kids, play in the snow and make snowmen, but I'll admit I don't even do that enough. More often we either stay home or pack into the car and head to a playdate or indoor play centre.

Having said that, I'm also lucky enough to live in a part of the world that gets Chinooks. Now, for those of you that don't live around here, it basically means our weather goes from being -25 one day to being +5 the next. They can last a couple days up to a week. It has something to do with the air coming over the mountains, but I'm not enough of a scientist to explain the phenomenon. Google is great if you're really interested. The gist of if though, is we currently have beautiful weather in the middle of winter.

So we went for a walk down to the river.

I often underestimate the power of the outdoors. Within minutes I was feeling revitalized and more energetic. My kids were loving it. My son (almost 3) ran ahead with his arms out pretending to be an airplane. My daughter (almost 1.5) toddled along giggling and screeching (good screeching). Whenever we caught up, my son would instruct me to "jump!" over a puddle or crack in the path. For 2 toddlers we walked quite a ways.

It reminded me of one of the side benefits to the journey I am on. My children need a role model that takes them on walks and plays outdoors with them. This walk wasn't "exercise" for them, but they certainly got their heart rates up. This is one of the things I hope my children always have. The joy of going outside, the rush you get from activity. I hope they don't have to view it as exercise. I never want one of them to start a blog about how they are going to lose 70 pounds. If they ever write a fitness blog, I'd much rather they start a blog about their kayak adventures or quest to run a marathon.

I will admit that, as much as I enjoyed it, I'll still be jumping on the exercise machine this evening. After all, the pace of two toddlers isn't enough to get my heart rate really up. I'm looking forward to tomorrow though. I'm planning on pulling the chariot out of the garage and going for a longer walk. I'm hoping the weather forecast is telling the truth and we'll have a few more days of this beautiful weather.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eating mindfully

I talked last week about enjoying your food. Now I'm going to talk about one of the things that makes the biggest difference in enjoying it. Eating mindfully rather then mindlessly.

When you're in a poor eating spiral, it becomes so easy to just put food in your mouth. Grab a cookie while heading out the door, eating ice cream while watching tv, eating your sandwich while driving to an appointment. I've certainly done all of these things.

Food fills both a physical need and an emotional need. If you are eating without thinking about it, you've filled the physical need, but you're still going to be looking to fill the emotional need. Which means you're going to eat again. And if again you eat mindlessly, you're going to be constantly feeling like you need more.

So, what's the solution? Pay attention to what you eat. Plan what you are going to eat and enjoy the food that you are putting into your mouth. Whenever possible, get your food ready, and then sit down at the table to eat it, and don't get up until you are finished.

Don't eat out of a bag or box. Decide how much you are going to eat, then put it on a plate or in a bowl. Look at it when you eat it. Seems like that goes without saying, but when you stop to think about it, how often do you actually look at your food?

Now, this is of course the ideal. I know that this isn't going to happen for everybody at every meal. I'm a stay at home mother to two toddlers, so it doesn't always work for me either. The point is to stay aware.

I just sat down and ate a bowl of cream of wheat with peaches, cinnamon and milk. Miraculously, I was even able to remain sitting while I ate the whole thing. You know what? It was good. Really good. I enjoyed it far more then all those quickly eaten cookies I had before Christmas. I actually tasted every bite.

And, the next time I have one of those cookies, I'm going to look at it. I'm going to taste it and I'm going to enjoy it. Then, I won't need another one right away.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ants on a log

Sometimes it's good to look back at childhood and remember what snacks you enjoyed then. Most of our parents tried to feed us healthy, but fun and tasty food most of the time. Really, as adults, don't we want the same thing?

Ants on a log is one of those ideas. My earliest memory of it is as a snack in kindergarten. It's one of those things that is fun to eat, but also is great when you're trying to eat well.

The reason it works so well is that it is a great balance of carbohydrates, fat and protein without bringing too many calories into the equation. It's crunchy, but sweet. The peanut butter helps to satisfy a craving for something a bit more decadent. When I'm craving a peanut butter and honey sandwich, this will usually fill that void, and in a much friendlier way to my waistline.

It's also super easy to make.

Take some celery. I don't measure the celery (don't you burn calories when you eat it anyways?), but it's good to be aware that more celery means you may want more toppings, so don't overdo it.

Spread some peanut butter on it. I like the natural peanut butter, the stuff that only has peanuts as an ingredient. This, you should measure. I like to use a kitchen scale, but a measuring spoon works if you don't have one. I used 15 grams, or 1 Tbsp on the serving you see above. Brings it in at about 100 calories.

Sprinkle and press some raisins into the peanut butter. Again, a good idea to measure the raisins. A serving is listed as a quarter cup, but I found that 15 grams or 2 Tbsp was plenty. About 50 calories there depending on the raisins you get. The raisins I buy are just Thompson raisins, but watch out because there are some kinds that have a lot more saturated fat. Read labels when you're shopping.


Friday, January 8, 2010

A Starting Point

I've received some messages this week from others that are losing weight themselves, and an overall theme has been "I could never do what you are doing". Mostly, in reference to my intention to post my actual numbers. It did make me pause and think. It made me consider whether it was really in my best interest to follow through on this intention.

I decided it was.

I stand by what I said in a previous post. I am taking away the power those numbers have over me. This is the last time I will see that number on the scale. It's all downhill from here.

So, yesterday evening, I went for my first official weight watchers weigh in and got my starting weight. So, without further ado:

I am 5'11 and currently weigh 243.8 pounds.


I won't lie. I knew what to expect, but it was a couple pounds higher then I thought and it hurt to see that number on the scale. It isn't quite my highest non-pregnant weight, but it comes close. So, it looks like I'm increasing the number I mentioned earlier this week as the number of pounds I needed to lose. It'll actually be between 65 - 85.

I had a momentary feeling of hopelessness, depression. That moment where I wondered why I let myself go so far. And, I decided it doesn't matter. What matters is what I do now. What matters is how I go forward. I know so much more about myself now. Not a moment has been wasted.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Plan - Support

So, the final component of my plan includes how and where I plan to receive support.

However, I am first going to start with a disclaimer:

Ultimately, this is something that we all have to do for ourselves. It is good, even great, to ask for help when you need it. Letting people know about your lifestyle change lets them be there for you. BUT, remember that this is about you. If you look externally for validation, you will be disappointed. This is your journey. You need to feel good about your successes because they are good for you, not because somebody else hands you a compliment. Enjoy and revel in the compliments, but don't depend on them.

Having said that, back to me. :)

The main areas that I intend to receive support are the following: friends and family, weight watcher meetings, online, and my husband.

So, one big difference I am making in this weight loss effort, as opposed to previous ones, is that I am not hiding it in any way. In doing so, I've made myself accountable, but I've also given my friends and family the ability to be there for me. By all means, there will still be cookies at my next moms group get together, or cake at the next family gathering. The difference will be that I'm far less likely to feel pressure to partake. If anything, I may feel pressured in the opposite direction. I'll still have the occasional treat, but I will be in control of when and how much, rather then feeling like I need to try each one in order to please others.

I'll be attending my first weight watchers meeting this evening. It's worked for me before and I've spent some time examining why meetings work so well for me, but I have a much harder time doing it on my own.

I've concluded a few things:

The accountability of having somebody else weigh me and record the number is huge. There's no hiding from that number or avoiding weighing yourself. It makes me feel normal when I am surrounded by other people that share my struggle. Cheesy as it is, I loved getting stickers and applause when I hit weight loss milestones. I especially loved it when those milestones started getting above the 20 pound mark. I enjoyed the meeting topics. Even when I already knew alot about what was being discussed, it still served as a good reminder.

I do think weight watchers and their meetings have limitations, but that's another post...

Another big part of my support system is online. As much as the accountability at meetings helps me, so does the partial anonymity of the internet. I am an active participant on a couple message boards. I'm able to share challenges and successes with others.

Also, did I mention that I have a blog? ;) Seriously though, I foresee this blog being a major component of my journey. Another benefit of this outlet for me is that I express myself in writing better then I am ever able to in person. I'm able to get out some of my thoughts and feelings and share them. And, it brings in another level of accountability. In less then a week, I've already gained a small readership. Some of them are people that support me and care about me. Others are those that have never met me in person, but appreciate my writing and thoughts. I've made no secret that I've started this blog, so I now feel a level of responsibility towards it.

My husband is my final area of support. Yes, he could fall into the category of friends and family, but he is so much more then that. I am very lucky to be married to a man that doesn't care what I weigh, but completely supports me in my efforts to change it. His diet weaknesses also have very little effect on me. He eats too much sugar on his cereal and drinks pop, neither of which I'm tempted by. This gives me the ability to keep my home safe food-wise. I don't have to keep any of my trigger foods in the house just because he wants them. He encourages me and goes for walks and hikes with me. I couldn't ask for a better partner in all of this.

Right now, I'm well set up and I'm raring to go, but in the coming months when I may hit rougher patches, I know that there are people there for me.

Tonight, I have my first meeting and weigh in, so stay tuned tomorrow for my official starting weight and before pictures!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Plan - Activity

So, as much as diet is key in losing weight, activity is a vital part of the health equation. I know for myself, being active makes me feel better, have more energy and actually makes it easier for me to stick to healthy eating.

This is why it is a part of my plan. It is way too important to be considered an afterthought.

I have no excuse not to get regular exercise in. I am phenomenally well set up. I live in a town not far from the mountains and am across the street from a beautiful paved pathway system. I have a bike and a chariot with attachments to be used as a bike trailer, jogging stroller and regular stroller. In my basement, I have a recumbent exercise bike, a rowing machine and an elliptical trainer. I also have free weights, a weight bench, and an exercise ball.

So, you see, I have no excuses. So, I'm going to stop making them.

In the winter time, most of my activity will be inside. I have 2 children under the age of three, so I can't fully plan my days, but what is working for me right now is to jump on the bike or rower after the kids go to bed. When the weather is nice enough, we go for walks, even in colder weather, but unless both my kids decide to ride, the pace is pretty slow, so I don't consider it cardio. So, the evening exercise machine it is.

I am looking forward to the spring and summer when the paths are clear again and the mountains are hike-able.

I also feel that strength training is a very important part of the equation, but for the time being, I'm focusing on cardio. I have a couple reasons for that. One is that I am still trying to heal a sprained wrist. I have exercises I do specifically for my wrist, but aside from that I'm a bit paranoid about pushing it.

The other reason to wait is that I simply don't want to overwhelm myself. I am changing alot of parts of my life right now, and this is one that I am waiting a bit on. For these reasons, I am making the commitment to reconsider strength training as of February 1.

So, right now, my commitment is a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio each day as well as my wrist exercises, stretching and foot exercises (for plantar fascitis).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Plan - Diet

So, I've been talking alot, and that's great, but ultimately, to make a large change in my life, I need a plan. It's important to know how I want to approach this, but at the same time being realistic that life sometimes doesn't let you do things exactly how you intend. Flexibility when that happens is key.

So, my plan consists of four main categories:

1. Me
2. Diet
3. Activity
4. Support

The last couple days I've spent alot of time talking about me. Ultimately, I am the one that makes all the decisions and determines when I succeed.

Today, I'm going to talk about my diet.

First of all, I want to touch briefly on the word "diet". The word diet has gotten a bad rap. It's often thought of a temporary way of eating, and people are using words like "lifestyle" instead. That's all fine and good, but your diet is still part of your lifestyle.

The first definition of diet I have found in a quick google search is: "food or drink regularly provided or consumed." This is the definition I will be referring to when I talk about my diet in this blog. See, I could eat nothing but chocolate bars and sardines and that would be the diet I am on. For me, diet simply means the food I am choosing to consume.

So, back on topic. My diet. I currently have 3 main goals with my diet (in no particular order): 1. Weight loss 2. Health 3. Enjoyment

Weight loss

So, in order to lose weight, it's a question of calories in being less then the calories out. Okay, that's how it's supposed to work, but I am of the opinion it isn't quite that simple. Anyone that has ever tried to lose weight knows there are times when they *should* have lost weight based on what they ate, but didn't. Regardless, overall, on average, this is the formula that results in weight loss.

So, to this end, I am going to be following the weight watchers point system. I've done weight watchers before and it's worked for me. Ultimately, it's simplified calorie counting, and that's why it works. The other strength is the encouragement to track your food. This is KEY for me and is something I will touch further on in a future post. Writing down what you eat makes you so much more aware of what you are putting in your mouth. Even if you aren't showing it to anyone else, it keeps you from lying to yourself.


When it comes to better health, eating well is far more then calorie counting. Most people would loose weight on a diet of 3 donuts and a few salads a day. That doesn't mean they'd be healthy.

For me, eating for better health includes a minimum of processed foods, a balance of nutrients, a balance of food groups, and a limited amount of foods that lack nutritional value.

I don't buy many prepared meals. Rather I prepare them myself. This gives me far more control over what goes into it and saves me money at the same time. I do cook for an army though. So, ultimately, I create my own convenience food. For instance, among other things, I currently have spaghetti sauce, stew and cooked chicken in my freezer. So, on nights when I just don't have time, or I don't feel like it, I still have something that is quick and easy to make.

I also make my own bread, cookies, muffins and yogurt. I love making food though and I am the queen of kitchen gadgets. I don't think it's necessary to make everything yourself in order to eat well, but it does give you more control. If you don't enjoy it like I do, buy it premade.

The balance of nutrients is key to staying satisfied. Fat, carbohydrates and protein all have a place within this. Both fat and carbohydrates are sometimes under rated and have been often considered the enemy. A balance of everything is important. Fat helps you to feel full longer and performs many vital functions in your body. Carbohydrates give you much needed energy. There's more to it then that, but I am neither a nutritionist or a scientist, so this is my simplistic take on it.

On a side note, I actually think this is one place that weight watchers fail their members. I am of the opinion that they place too big a stigma on higher fat items by penalizing the point count. There are good fats and bad fats though, and it's unfortunate this isn't recognized.

Balance of food groups is something that most of us learned back in elementary school. The Canada food guide has undergone some minor changes, but ultimately, it's still a very good guide for healthy eating.

Finally, a minimum of foods that lack nutritional value. I am all for a treat and fully intend to have one occasionally. But, there is no reason most of those treats can't still help me with my other goals. There's few treats that can beat a bowl of fresh strawberries, for instance. Now, I'll still have the occasional piece of chocolate, or a butter tart, but those treats will be maybe once a week rather then daily.


Ever heard the phrase: "some people live to eat, others eat to live". Well, I'm one of those living to eat people, and there's nothing wrong with that. I absolutely admire people that can consider food as merely sustenance, but I'm not one of them.

If you're like me and you are a "live to eat" person, you have to enjoy what you are eating or you won't stick to it. You have to find something that will give you as much enjoyment as you got from your chocolate explosion cake. And, I guarantee you, if you're eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time, that cake will taste 10 times better on the occasions that you do have it.

I fully intend to enjoy eating while I drop the pounds. It won't even be that hard for me. Because I love produce. Love it. I said earlier that nothing beats a bowl of fresh strawberries, but a juicy mango will give it a run for it's money. Or asparagus. Mmmm... Maybe I'm a freak, but I can't wait for asparagus season to return. One of my favourites lately is honeydew melons.

Now, I live in Canada, so the best fresh produce is seasonal. Don't underestimate frozen and canned produce though. You have to be choosy. Make sure your fruit is packed in juice or water. (I do juice since I avoid artificial sweeteners and most fruit packed in water has them). But, overall, you can get some good produce out of cans and the freezer.

I also enjoy baking and like to play with recipes to make them healthier. Now, caution is needed here. Baking is a dangerous area for those of us with a weakness for binge eating. This is another place where the freezer is a great tool. Most baking freezes beautifully and putting it in the freezer takes it out of an easy grab and munch zone.

And sometimes, I am going to indulge in something along the lines of chocolate amaretto cheesecake. Because it too has a place in my diet. Just a very small, controlled, occasional place.

Interestingly enough though, looking back on this section, the description that makes my mouth water the most is that of the juicy mango...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Being ready

One of the things that I can't stress enough is the importance of being ready when you start your journey to better health.

A month and a half ago, I had been trying to lose weight had been spinning my wheels for a long time. I decided I needed a break. I stopped tracking my food. I virtually stopped exercising. I went crazy with food. I was probably eating an entire days worth of calories before noon. I gained another 10 pounds.

Through this process though, I learned some important lessons.

I wasn't even enjoying my food. I don't want to be shoving cookies and cakes into my mouth like they mean nothing. When I am eating well, a small piece of chocolate is delicious and wonderful indulgence. Any kind of treat had lost it's meaning and I didn't even taste it.

The extra 10 pounds has made it even more obvious the strain I've been putting on my body. I've had a noticeable decline in energy. I've found it harder to get up and hard to do things. My already limited wardrobe became even more limited when I found out I couldn't do up one of my 3 pairs of pants. If 10 pounds was having that much of an effect, had I just stopped noticing the effect of the other 50?

Stopping exercise contributed even more to my lack of energy. Sometimes I don't feel like starting a workout, but there's no denying that I always feel good after. In fact I don't think I have ever regretted it. I certainly can't say that about eating a pastry.

This wasn't who I wanted to be.

So I made a decision. I made a decision to change. I decided that after the holidays I was going to do this and I was going to finish it.

Now, in most situations, I think once you make one of these decisions, it's best to follow through immediately. But, this ended up working for me. I continued with my bad habits, and all the time started to question why? I got impatient to begin and started looking forward to the day when I was going to put the overeating, lethargic Deb behind me.

And I've done it. I have a long way to go physically, but now I've won the mental part of the game. I am ready. I am more ready then I have ever been in my life. I'm not doing this to fit into a smaller dress or wear a bikini. I'm not doing it for my husband, friends, or even my children. I am doing this for me. I am doing it because it's what I want and what I need.

I choose not to use words like trying, attempting, failing. Rather, I am doing, succeeding, and winning.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Who I am

I am Deb, and this blog will follow me as I shrink from my current size 20 pants into something more like a 10 or 12. More importantly, it will follow me as I learn new things about myself, hike in the mountains and become more able to chase my children.

I've been battling my weight since childhood, but the bigger thing I've had to battle is my perception of myself. I am now realizing that my perception of myself is the more important aspect. I've lost the weight before, but without changing my outlook, the weight came back.

This time, I've already changed my outlook. I haven't dropped a pound yet, but I'm ready to. I'm ready to become healthy. It isn't about becoming thin; it's about living. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to fit into the pants I wore 10 years ago. (and then I'll probably toss them since they're surely out of style).

More then that though, I want to rid myself of the physical limitations that have plagued me for the last few years. You can get away with carrying extra pounds in your early twenties, but I'm finding that those extra pounds in my early thirties are making me feel like I'm fifty. In the last few years, I've had a host of issues directly or indirectly related to my weight. Hip bursitis, plantar fasciatis, pinched nerves, gallstones, difficult pregnancies. (Well the pregnancy part obviously wasn't due to weight, but the difficult part may have been.)

I'm realistic. I know that I may still have health challenges. But, I also know that losing 60 - 80 pounds will make it easier to deal with whatever arises. I am not "trying" to lose weight. I am going to lose weight.

Did you hear that? 60 - 80 pounds. I'm putting the number right out there. Heck, I'm even going to put my weight out there later this week. Because it's far to easy to let those numbers control you. I'm taking away the power that those numbers have and treating them like what they actually are. Numbers. Just numbers. They aren't me, and they don't define me.

Why the large range? I'm just not sure where my body should be now. 60 pounds will bring me to the top of the recommended weight range for my height, whereas 70 pounds will bring me to a point I was at before and felt pretty good. Granted, I've had 3 pregnancies and 2 children since then, so I don't truly know if my body will ever be what it was before.

And you know what, I don't want it to be or need it to be. What it was before was me then. I want it to be me now. I want it to stop limiting me and start enabling me.

So, if you're still reading, I invite you to follow me. Follow me as I muse about the reasons I gained and the things that help me lose. I'll post recipes and food plans, my opinions and thoughts. This isn't a short journey I'm on. The weight loss will likely take me 8-12 months, but even then it won't be over. Because this time, it's staying off and I'm not giving in or giving up.