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Quick Note

Just to let you know that I am still hanging in there.  I’ve been busy with house guests.  Seems like the snowy, cold northeastern winter is stimulating friends and family to venture south. To be honest with you, I could have been better about my eating during this time. BUT, I am doing ok and maintaing at 15 pounds gone.

Sometimes it is just one thing and then another that takes my attention away from my diet regime.  Yet, the good eating habits and nutritional information that I learned in the early weeks are giving me a good foundation for maintaining my weight loss. You probably won’t believe me, but I swear that it is true…..I have had so much cake and sweets the last few months that I really want to get back on track.  I feel so much healthier and energetic when I reduce sugar and carbs and focus on lean protein sources for nutrition.

I’m looking forward to gaining control of my schedule so I can move forward again.  It is only 5 more lbs to go.  How hard can it be?????

View from the Plateau

Twenty-five weeks of the 20-lb struggle and I have been sitting here on the plateau for eight of those weeks. First it was Halloween, then it was parties, then it was family dinners, then it was Christmas cookies, then it was New Year’s Eve, then it was too cold, then I was too busy, then it was too much work. As you can see from my chart I am     s-l-o-w-l-y inching my way back to the pinnacle I reached in week 17. Still haven’t gotten there though.

So what’s going on? I have some ideas.

Idea #1: The nearer your destination the more you keep slip-sliding away. Let me explain. When I started the 20 lb struggle I could get all the motivation I needed in order to make changes in my eating patterns and behavior by looking in the mirror. Looking at myself standing there naked with my fat rolls staring back at me was so horrifying that losing my appetite was usually not a problem. Lose the appetite and you can lose the weight.

But after I lost about 10-lbs. I looked a lot better.  I bought new, smaller clothes.  Looking in the mirror was not as horrifying as it had been previously. The closer you get to your weight loss goal the more difficult it may be to find the motivation you need to go all the way.

Idea #2: Putting the brakes on diet momentum makes the journey more difficult.  Coming to a full stop adds the burden of inertia to forward movement. In other words, it is easier to maintain diet momentum once you are already rolling, than to kick start it again after a full stop. There are lots of reasons for diet inertia, but let’s just say that once you fall off a wagon it can take a while to get your ass off the ground and hop back on again.

Idea #3: If I don’t make it happen it won’t happen. I’ve been waiting for a miracle.  I’ve been waiting for the scale to show imporvment even though I am not putting in 100%. It is difficult to get going again.  It is difficult to find the motivation to make the sacrifices that Ineed to make.  It isn’t easy to find the motivation to help me push forward. But if I don’t do it, nothing will change.

Idea #4: Although losing weight is an important goal, it may not be the only one that deserves my attention. I also need to nurture other important areas of my life, like work, family, friends, celebrations, etc.

My dog, Snickers, whines and cries when I talk on the phone around 7:00 pm.  Why? That is the time we usually snuggle on the couch and watch TV. When my attention is diverted elsewhere he lets me know about it!  And when my attention is diverted elsewhere, my scale let me know about it, too!

Am I feeling blue because this is proving to be more of a struggle than I anticipated? Not really.  Even though I am having trouble losing weight I still feel good about three important things.

First: I have lost a significant amount of weight and I think I look pretty good.

Second: I am maintaining my weight which means that I am not reverting to my previous unhealthy habits.

Third: I am feeling healthier and more energetic than I did before I embarked on the 20-lb struggle.

So, how’s the view from the plateau? Pretty good, but certainly not perfect. What I see from the plateau is “room for improvement.”

Sliding down the slippery slope is easy.  Picking yourself up and getting back on the road is a lot more difficult. Several people have asked me why I haven’t been writing the blog lately.  First the good news. No, I haven’t gained back all the weight I lost. I haven’t been soothing myself with cheesecake and chocolate and ice cream ( although that really sounds good). I haven’t forgotten entirely about my exercise regime (although that sounds good, too).

Now the bad news. I did gain a few pounds during the holidays. Now the really bad news.  I never anticipated just how difficult it would be to get back on track.  Afterall, I was feeling great! I loved going shopping to buy new clothes in a smaller size.  My health was improving, my energy level was improving and my looks were improving.  Why wouldn’t I want to get right back there???

I have wonderful friends who have been helping me think up excuses for my lack of will.  “It has been so cold.  You are craving comfort food to keep you warm.” Since I live in Florida the cold has not been as awful as it has been in other areas around the country. Still, it is difficult to keep the house warm. I lost electricity for 2 days and couldn’t even drink a cup of hot tea at home! According to the “cold-weather” hypothesis I will snap right back on track as soon as the sunny and warm Florida weather returns.

Other friends have offered the “you need a break” theory.  “You can’t be good all the time.  Sometimes you need a break from perfection to be human and live a little.” This theory suggests that restricting my diet and forcing myself to exercise is just too rigid a regime to last for very long. Such an oppressive regime must be toppled.  Mission accomplished! Now all I have to do is set up a more humane, yet effective regime. 

It took me 18 weeks to lose 16 pounds.  That was a struggle. It took me one week to gain two pounds. That was easy. For the pst six weeks I have plateaued.  I have not gained.  I have not lost. Have I lost my mojo?  Have I lost my willpower?  Have I lost my motivation?  Have I lost  sight of my goal?

Why haven’t I been posting on this blog? The reason is that I have been afraid to answer these questions.

There is something about starting a new year that makes us feel that we have the potential to be who we want to be and to do what we want to do. Every year I feel compelled to make a list of New Years Resolutions. Number One each year is “lose weight!” Also high on the list is “exercise more.” Some years I am not as specific about my intentions and simply write, “take better care of myself.”

So after so many years of making promises to myself at the beginning of the year only to end the year feeling that I have not accomlshed my goal, why do I keep doing it? Why do I start each year with a list of things that I want to accomplish, attain, achieve? Is it because I am forever the optimist? Is it just the result of a compulsive habit? Well, I admit to being optimistic and compulsive at times, but I think there is more to it than that.

When I was a practicing psychologist I noticed that there was an important difference between my patients who were able to make important and healthy changes to their lives and those who said that they wanted to make changes but never seemed to be able to get there. The difference was something we can call INTENTION. I realized that when people said that they hoped things would get better, it rarely happened. I noticed that when people said they would try to make things better in their lives, I would often get a lot of reasons (excuses?) why they were not as uccessful as they wanted to be.  But when someone told me that they intended to do what was neccessary to change their life, I knew they meant business and that they were likely to accomplish something.

I know that I cannot accomplish everything that I intend to accomplish. Many challanges are more difficult or more complicated than we understand at first. And that brings me to the 20 lb struggle. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far but also a little disappointed that I haven’t done even better. For me, my biggest obstacle to weight loss and fitness seems to be that I get distracted, lose focus, and act unconsciously. I also get tired, lose enthusiasm, and take the easy way rather than the healthy way.

Chefs de France at Epcot

But sometimes I make a conscious choice to be impulsive  and to indulge myself, if only for  limited amount of  time. So from December 22 to January 6 I have been feasting and enjoying, knowing full well that there would be  price to pay when life got back to “normal.”

My daughter, Amy and I spent a full day at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park. We had been there many years ago and were looking forward to the exhibits,but most of all the food in the the International Village.  We made reservations for lunch in France at “Chefs de France.”   A tip for travelers: It is a good idea to make reservations for Disney restaurants in advance. We saw hundreds of people being turned away because they thought they could just stop by at the spur of the moment.

The French restaurant more than met our expectations as we enjoyed our onion soup, rosemary chicken and, of course dessert (crème puffs fills with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with a heavenly chocolate sauce). We also  made reservations for dinner in Morocco.

Dessert at Chefs d France

The Moroccan restaurant was a total disappointment.  The menu seemed more Middle-Eastern oriented than Moroccan and the falafel was so hard that even the waiter had to admit that “they are like stones, aren’t they?” A tip for travelers: AVOID Restaurant Marrakesh at the Morocco Pavillion.

After our visit to Epcot Amy and I joined up with the rest of the family and we all enjoyed a very special New Year’s Eve on New Smyrna Beach.

It was wonderful and now it is time to get back on track.  The 20 lb struggle continues.

Snickers wishes all of you a happy and healthy new year!

The holiday struggle

After 19 weeks of the 20 lb struggle eating healthy is becoming a way of  life. So hooray for me! But I’m not all the way there quite yet.  I still have 4 lbs. to go.  I have been able to navigate through the dangerous waters of X-mas parties, family gatherings and going out with friends. I accomplished my goal for the week.  I held my own and didn’t let my eating get out of control.  I haven’t lost any weight this week, but then, I didn’t really expect to.  The good news is that I didn’t GAIN any.

With  X-mas safely behind me I now face the daunting challenge of New Year’s Eve! It’s going to be more difficult than you think.  Tomorrow I will be going to Orlando to meet my daughter, Amy, at Gaylord Palms Hotel. We will spend two nights in luxury in the hotel  and a full day at Disney’s Epcot where we look forward to dining at Chefs de France, a casual restaurant nestled under the Eiffel Tower in the France Pavilion. Yum!  I hope all the walking around the theme park will help us to work off the calories that will be comsumed there.

Then we will travel about 40 minutes northeast to stay with my daughter, Laura, and her family until January 3rd. If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably already know about Laura. She is a professional party planner who is somehow able to make every meal and occassion sparkle with creativity and deliciousness. No matter how much I try, the magic that she cooks up is just about impossible to resist.

Whenever I visit them, my grandchildren insist that I go on Wii Fit which is a Nintendo game that uses a balance board to calculate your weight and body mass index. The first time I used it about a year ago, I was shocked and dismayed to see that the game placed me smack in the middle of the “overweight” category, just below “obese.” The last time I visited them I showed vast improvement. I was still in the  “overweight” category, but only three pounds from “normal weight.”

If you think that weighing in at Weight Watchers is stressful, you should see me when I have to weigh in with Wii Fit. I usually try to weigh in as soon as I get there, before the effects of all the good cooking by Laura and Rick can be felt. Five days of temptation will clearly test my will-power. So I have a back-up plan, just in case.  Just like millions of others who want to start the New Year on the right foot, I plan to reinvigorate my diet and exercise regimes.

For everything there is a season.  There is a time to enjoy good food and family.  There is a time to get serious and get in shape. I intend to do both, just not at the same time.

You wouldn’t know it from reading this blog recently, but I have actually been working every day towards my goal to lose 20 lbs. Eating choices that were difficult at first are becoming “second nature.” Consistenly making good and healthy food choices is really making a difference in my life and my weight chart is just part of the proof.

In 18 weeks I have gone from a size 12 to a size 6 jean.  I actually had thrown away jeans in size six because it didn’t seem as if there would be any way that I could ever wear them again. So now I am buying lots of new clothes — but I don’t mind.

This is a difficult time of year for diets with holiday parties and lots of dinners with family and friends. So I am really excited that I am continuing to lose weight, even though it is at a very slow pace.  What is that they say about the tortoise and the hare?  Oh, yes.  Slow and steady wins the race!

I have made a change in my eating habits that I haven’t written about yet.  I don’t know about you, but I always seem to get hungry about 4pm. But if I am at work or doing errands I just keep going.  I tell myself, “It’s ok. I’ll just wait until I get home to eat dinner.”  The problem has been that by the time I get home I am so hungry that I make fast, and often poor food choices.  I also tend to be so hungry that I eat and eat and eat and eat. Until I feel full. Then a little while later I am uncomfortable.

So now I have a new way of doing things. I have given myself permission to indulge in “tea-time” every day at around 4 pm. If I am at work. I take a break, make myself a cup of tea and nibble on a rice cake with jam. I keep rice cakes and jam in my office for this purpose. It only takes about 6 or 7 minutes but it makes a big difference in the way I feel when I get home.  No more starving assaults on the refrigerator and pantry! Now when I come home I can take my time preparing a healthy meal for myself.

When I am not working I make sure to be home at 4pm so I can make tea. Sometimes I will have a bit of fruit or another low-cal treat. Then I go out and do whatever needs to be done feeling energized and satisfied.  This new pattern means that I usually end up eating dinner later than I had been. I used to eat about 5:30 or 6 pm.  But now I am not really ready to eat until after 7.  This has the benefit of cutting down on late night snacking since I am still full of food from dinner by the time I go to bed at 10 pm.

The20 lbs struggle has changed my life.  I hope it has changed my life for good.

Well.  People are beginning to notice. Holiday parties are a great place to meet people who haven’t seen me for a while. Now that I have lost 15.5 lbs  I am beginning to get comments. And I like it.

Unfortunately holiday parties are also very challenging. I’m still struggling to lose 20 lbs and the last few pounds seem to be highly resistant. I have no one to blame but myself. 

Yesterday I went to a lovely event.  Every year a group of volunteers get together to fill cigar-box sized cartons with all sorts of toys and small books for young children. Then we wrap the boxes in Christmas paper. These gifts are distributed to needy children in South Florida, many of whom would otherwise get NOTHING for Christmas.

The Treasure Box Project was organized by my friend, Suzy Hammer.  It has grown from a small effort to help needy children into a major success.  It feels so good to spend a few hours knowing that it will bring happiness to a child.  It is also fun to meet with old friends and acquaintances. Did I mention that I got noticed? Some of these folks haven’t seen me for a year. They couldn’t have been more complimentary.

So what could be bad about something so good? Hmmm. Let me count the ways. Did I mention that sandwiches, pizza, dips, snacks and lots of yummy desserts were out in abundance to help motivate the workers?

(1) Despite the fact that I had eaten a sandwich before I came to the event, nevertheless, I succumbed the moment I saw pizza.  It has been soooo long since I have even allowed myself to look at a slice. My hand reached out even before my mind realized what was happening. The pizza’s deliciousness filled my mouth as all thoughts left my brain. And in that moment of pure taste sensation there was nothing else but pizza! When consciouness returned I was holding a piece of crust in my hand. At first I looked at it as if I couldn’t quite identify what it was.  Then I recoilded in horror as I understood what I had done! I quickly grabbed a Diet Coke, threw the remaining evidence of my sinfullness into the trash, and hurried back to wrap some more gifts.

(2) When I finished my can of soda I got up to throw it into the recycle bin. Where was the recycle bin? Next to the table laden with cookies, pies, cake and other desserts. My eyes came to rest on a box of small chocolate covered cookies, no bigger than a pinky finger. Surely one taste wouldn’t hurt. The first cookie melted in my mouth with such pleasure that another one was demanded.  Then another. And another. And another. I don’t know how many disappeared as I stood there telling myself that I really shouldn’t be doing this.

Luckily I had weighed my self BEFORE I went. I was so proud that I had lost a half a pound this week! But now I feel as if I have blown it. I know my weight is up, but I am afraid to look at the scale. My plan is to be really, really good for the rest of the week so that by next Saturday my weight will at least be the same.

The struggle continues………