Friday, April 30, 2010

It's more about choosing the right foods then avoiding the wrong ones

When people go on a diet, it's easy to villainize foods. Donuts are bad, as is cake, chips or ice cream. When thinking about a diet, you think about all the things you can't have. All the things you should avoid.

But, another way of thinking about it is to look at the foods that you can have and the foods your body needs. This can be done on a big scale, in terms of looking at your overall eating habits, or on a smaller scale, looking at a day, or a meal at a time.

When I've gone off track, I'll sometimes look back at my day and all I see is the things I shouldn't have eaten. If I look closer though, the same days that I eat things that I didn't need are also the days that I lacked the things I do. Usually, I didn't have enough fruit, vegetables, dairy or protein.

When I need a snack, what works for me is to think about my day and think about what is lacking in my diet. If I haven't had many milk products, maybe I need yogurt. Lacking protein? I'll grab a boiled egg and a fruit. Maybe some raw vegetables to fill that gap.

When I focus on eating the foods that I should eat, I feel good. I feel satisfied. And I don't miss the foods that should have only a small place in my eating plan.

In my last post, I mentioned that snacks are often the time of day that I fall off track, so I've decided to institute a week long series where I share one snack I've had that day. Some of them will be my standbys, and for others I'm going to try new combinations.

Today, I was ravenously hungry after a bike ride, and with a quick look in the fridge, I found myself some homemade roasted red pepper and garlic hummus. I ate it with raw celery, carrots, and orange pepper. This was one of those times I was glad I had cut some vegetables up in advance!

Note: I didn't eat all the hummus or all the vegetables. There's certain foods I have to portion out, and others that I feel safe just munching on as I can exercise portion control. For me, this is a fairly safe snack.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Which foods are the easiest to eat?

Most days, I have one of a few things for breakfast, I think about lunch a little ahead of time and I know in the morning what I'm going to make for supper. Snacks on the other hand, are something I go for when I'm hungry and usually grab the first thing that seems convenient. Since I've been more focused on what I'm eating, it's been better overall, but if there's a time I'm likely to go off track, it will almost always be at snack time.

So, how to fix that?

Well for me, part of the fix is a great big bowl of fruit on my countertop.

Previously, the easiest thing to grab was in the cupboard. Something processed, refined and probably not that healthy. Now, the easiest thing is a little orange. For a bit more work (cutting it up), I can have a tasty mango. Not only that, but when I get hit with a hungry moment, this fruit is the first things my eyes fall on. There are days I eat a couple extra oranges, but I don't worry much about that. There aren't a lot of people in this world that got fat by eating oranges.

So, what do you do to make it easier to choose the healthier options?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Give somebody a compliment today

Throughout this journey, my emotions and self perception have gone up and down. Some days I'm happy with my results so far. I feel the difference in my body and how my clothes fit. Other days, all I can see is how much further I have to go and how big I still am.

In the midst of one of these down days, I ran into somebody that I hadn't seen in a while and she told me I was looking good. The next day, somebody else mentioned that the weight loss really showed.

Words have an amazing amount of power. Words can uplift a person or destroy a person. I still remember being pulled aside by a teacher in eleventh grade (around 15 years ago) and being told I was exceptionally good at math. I also remember being on a school bus in second grade and the first time I was ever called ugly.

On hearing those words, I felt great. The journey is my own and I'm doing it for myself, but it sure doesn't hurt when other people notice. In a moment when I was feeling a little down, those words helped to bring me up and give me strength to keep going.

So, my challenge for you today is to give somebody a compliment. Make it a true and sincere one. It doesn't have to be related to weight loss. You could tell somebody that they have great fashion sense or that they do a good job at work. Tell them their smile is stunning or they inspired you to take up running. The choices are endless, but there's one thing you will accomplish by doing it. It will make them feel great.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

4 years

Four years ago today I found out that my first baby had no heart beat. Usually I recognize this loss on what would have been my due date, but this morning, I'm feeling sad and nostalgic. Life has been full of blessings since that time, but I will never forget the baby I lost.

Rest in peace little Bugaboo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Finding other measures of success

The scale continues to move for me... slowly... Meanwhile, every fourth week I see a gain regardless of what I do. (literally, every 4 weeks; it's that predictable.)

While I don't believe that "everything happens for a reason", I do believe that you can find meaning in anything. For me, I think the slow movement of the scale is there to help teach me to find success in less superficial things then that number.

So, here are some of the things that I have found success in:

- My clothes fit smaller. In fact, I'm back at a weight that I've been at before. It seems to be one of those pivotal weights that I've passed many times and have paused at many times. I have a pair of pants that I have worn many other times at this weight and they've been tight. This time they are loose. So, while I'm revisiting the same weight, it's at a smaller size.

- When I started exercising in January, I set the resistance on my stationary bike at 2, and found that a challenge. I now do high intensity intervals, setting it at 4 for the low intensity segments and 7 for the high intensity segments.

- At the beginning of February, I discovered that I was once again able to do squats and lunges. At that time, I was pleased to be able to do a few without my knees screaming in pain. I now do 3 sets of 8-10 with weight on my back. That's 3 sets of squats, 3 sets of lunges, and usually 3 sets of step ups or deadlifts as well.

- Running to catch up with one of my children no longer leaves me puffing for air.

- I don't have to take a break while walking up the big hill near my house.

- My healthier eating is wearing off on my children and husband. My children ask for fruit for a snack more often then they ask for crackers. My husband has reduced his sugar intake and is choosing to eat more whole grains.

- My arms are noticeably tighter then they were before and there's some definite muscle definition.

- I feel better!

So, yeah, that stupid scale isn't moving as much as I'd like, but fact is, at some point the scale will stop moving. At some point I will be at my goal weight. If the scale is the only thing I am counting on to motivate myself, I will end up riding the yo-yo back up to start the process over. Instead, I am looking at other measures of success. There will always be things I can work towards and see continued success in. That is one of the keys to changing my life.

What are other ways you measure your success?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going public with your weight loss journey

When I was in grade 4, I have vivid memory of a time I was weighed. I can't remember why, but the teacher was weighing everyone in the class. It was somewhat confidential, I suppose, but we all went up there and stepped on the scale in front of everyone. Most people announced their weight as they got off.

When I went up, I had no intention of saying what I weighed. I wasn't a heavy kid, but I wasn't skinny either. However, I was (and still am) very tall. What I didn't realize though, was that somebody was sitting where she got a full view of the numbers that came up. That somebody was supposedly my best friend.

"40 kilograms!" she announced proudly. The class burst into laughter.

In that moment I learned that my weight was something to be ashamed of. I learned that you don't ever tell anyone that number. My height didn't matter, nor did my build or any other marker of health. It was the number that showed up on the scale.

And from that point on, I protected that number fiercely.

When I started this blog, I did something that I've never done before while trying to lose weight.

I told everybody.

I included a link to it in my emails. I put it in my facebook status. In fact, I post a link to facebook every time I update my blog. I am open about it. I talk about it. If I'm in a social situation and it comes up, I'll mention the new workouts I'm doing, or my intention to avoid sugar. I don't try to hide it.

It has been one of the most freeing experiences in my life.

The day that I posted my starting weight of 243 pounds, I took back the power that I had given to the scale more then 2 decades earlier. I gave that number the power it deserved. The power of being a number.

The support I have received since I started sharing my journey has been amazing. I was afraid it would become something awkward or uncomfortable. It is far from that. I've had people congratulate me, tell me that I'm looking good, encourage me when I'm down, and tell me that I inspire them when I've been up.

Nobody tries to sabotage me by pushing food on me. Honestly, nobody. They may offer it to me, but there's no pressure whatsoever. In many social situations, people have gone to efforts to help me by providing food that works with my new lifestyle.

While my body has shrunk, my understanding of myself has grown. I've realized that this journey is actually more an emotional journey then a physical one. Every day I learn new things about myself and begin to unpeel the layers that brought me to this place.

If you are ashamed of your weight, or hide the fact you are trying to change it, I have a challenge for you.

Tell somebody. Tell at least one person. You can do it by email, phone or in person. If you want to, you can even start a blog. But, tell somebody that you are on this journey and you are working to change yourself and change your life.

You may be amazed at the difference it makes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Riding my bike, pulling their chariot

When I was a kid, I didn't have any great passion for bike riding. Sure, I did it. Every kid does at some point, right? But I didn't love it, and quite frankly, I wasn't especially athletic.

That was back in the days before most people wore helmets. When I was about 11, my parents told me that I couldn't ride a bike anymore unless I wore a helmet. None of my friends wore helmets and I was an insecure preteen who wasn't willing to be the one kid that wore a helmet. So, I stopped riding my bike.

Years later, as a young adult, I started rollerblading, and I bought a helmet the same day I bought the roller blades. When I decided to ride a bike again in my early 20s, I wore that helmet without a thought. I didn't really love riding it though. It was transportation at times, a casual hobby at others.

Until now.

Last summer, my husband and I invested in a Chariot. We had just moved into a town with a stunning pathway system and we live across the street to an access point for it. The initial investment was because I was finding my current double stroller very difficult to push on the walks by the river, but we spent the money to get the bike attachments as well as the strolling and jogging attachments
Now, my children are a little older, and they aren't keen on sitting for a walk, but are happy to go for a fast (as fast as I go, anyways) bike ride. And, I'm loving it. When I slow down, or walk the bike up a hill, my daughter sometimes cries and my son tells me to "ride bike MOMMY!" We all have fun with the fresh air and beautiful views. As a side benefit, I even get a cardio workout in during the day.

Here's a couple pictures from our bike ride today.
Both of these are taken within a 2 minute bike ride, or 5 minute walk from our house. I love living where I do!

Not the best picture of my slave drivers, but as you can see, they are both wearing their helmets. :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Missed meetings and weight watchers apathy

So, I've missed the last two meetings. Not intentionally, mind you. The first one I missed because I was sick. Then last night, there was a nasty snowstorm which made my husband get home late (I need him here to watch the kids before I leave), and made the roads nasty enough for me to stay home.

Having said that, I'm starting to feel a bit apathetic towards weight watchers. Not weight loss, mind you, just weight watchers. Weight loss is the journey I am on to improve my health. Weight watchers is the giant corporation that I've been using to help me get there.

The thing is, despite their claims, weight watchers is a diet. It is also a diet where you can "eat anything you want". It is not a diet that is about health. It is a diet that is about weight loss.

I go to the meetings and am confronted with tables packed full of processed, nutritionally deficient food. I stand in line to weigh in with people that skip dinner and don't eat half the day in order to trick the scale into giving them a lower number. Then I sit through a meeting where members talk about how they can get the best tasting snacks for the lowest points. To finish it off, a recipe is presented, which more often then not is something I won't even try because it's packed with artificial sweeteners and/or has no nutritional value.

At it's core, weight watchers has a good program, but in practice, it's far from it. Ultimately, they design the program to be appealing to the maximum number of people, while still helping them lose weight. They have a maximum focus on low calories/points and a minimum focus on good health, so ultimately those people gain the weight back and then pay to lose it again. They supplement (double, triple?) this meeting income with the sale of their nutritionally deficient foods. Many weight watcher members are sucked in by the weight watcher logo and will buy anything that has said logo, regardless of whether the food is actually good for them.

So, what's my weight been doing during this hiatus? Well, after the food poisoning episode, it temporarily plummeted, then it crept up a bit (proof that starvation doesn't work), and has gone back down since then. I'll post numbers next week, but it's been going down overall.

So, despite all this, will I be going back to weight watchers? Well, I'm a hypocrite, but yes. Right now, it's still helping me. My regular leader is dynamic and interesting. There's some other members I enjoy talking to. I became a lifetime member a few years ago, so I don't have to pay for missed meetings. The weigh in keeps me in check and the meeting topics are usually good. I take what works for me and discard what doesn't.

Will I keep going in the long run? I don't know. My journey to better health will keep going in the long run, but I'll have to take it a day at a time to see how long weight watchers remains a part of it.

Have you ever been a weight watchers member? Are you now? What's your take on their program?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting back into the routine

Last week, I was hit with food poisoning. I'm still not sure what caused it, but the most likely culprits are either almond butter (gone bad) or cherry tomatoes. Regardless, it meant I was violently ill for one day and nauseous and sore for a few more.

I understandably didn't workout while my body was in rebellion. Once I could eat, I ate whatever seemed the most likely to stay down. Water was my friend, but so were white crackers, and toast with honey. It wasn't even whole grain bread; I made a 50/50 blend since I felt like it would be easier to keep down.

The hardest part about changing habits is getting into a new routine. Once you hit your stride, it feels easy. But, it seems like there are so many things that can throw that routine off. Once it's thrown off, it is really easy to let things go. When in the habit of it, workouts are non-negotiable. After a few days of skipping them for legitimate reasons, it's really easy to skip another day because you're busy, it's a holiday or because you don't really feel like it.

But, let's think about this a little. If old habits are so easy to fall back into, why not fall back into the habits you had before your setback? Yes, it's been almost a week since I've had a serious, hard workout, but why don't I just get back into that routine tonight? Why view it as something that I need to work up to again? Why not consider it something I get to start doing again? Why is it even a setback? It may be a detour, but it doesn't change the road I'm on.

I hate being sick and I hate what it does to my body. But, even the most unpleasant circumstances are something that we can turn around to our benefit. Probably the number 1 factor that has thrown me off healthy eating in the past is getting sick. This time, I'm going to let getting well be the thing that throws me back to it.