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Life gets hectic, especially around this time of year. Parties,  out-of-town guests, family dinners, holiday shopping, etc., etc.,  etc. With so many distractions how do you find time to exercise? How do you stay focused on eating healthy as you rush through the food court at the mall? And for those of you who have lost weight and are now shopping for clothes in a smaller size, how do look in the mirror and not tell yourself that you look so “mahvelous, dahling!” that a little cheating won’t really matter?

This is why weight loss is so challenging to me. Wish I could tell you that I have simple and easy answers to the questions above, but the sad truth is that, just like you, I am having a hard time of it. It is a struggle.

And so it is with great surprise that I am able to report that I lost one pound this week.

Below are some pictures that I took at my daughter Laura’s home over Thanksgiving. You can tell at a glance why dieting in this envirnoment is a challenge. Everything was made from scratch and delicious.  My son-in-law, Rick made the pumpkin pie and the mini-apple-pies and the mini-brownies.  My daughters made the rolls and the croissants.  I made the cranberry sauce and the roasted sweet potatoes. Laura made turkey breast, stuffing, sweet potato souffle.  We also had brussels sprouts and a green bean casserole.

Cathy and Emma enjoying Thanksgiving meal.

 

Amy brings rolls and croissants to the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is what I ate: 2 slices turkey breast, a dollop of cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts.

Thanksgiving Day. Just when my motivation was idling in neutral and my weight loss was stalled, Shape magazine came to the the rescue with a plan! After a morning filled with cooking and cleaning and preparing for Thanksgiving dinner we were sitting around the kitchen table when my daughter, Amy said, “Eat what you want and still lose weight!” She was reading from Shape’s December issue. I was intrigued.  “Tell me more,” I replied.

In the article, Sharon Liao comes up with 9 strategies that can help you to celebrate the holidays without feeling deprived OR gaining weight! There are also suggestions for smart food choices and information about the calories in favorite holiday foods. I will personally test these strategies and report my findings to you in this blog.

Strategy #1: Spoil your supper – don’t skip lunch. Eat a light protein-filled lunch.  About an hour before you plan to eat have a bit of cheese, a few crackers, or my personal favorite, an apple.

Strategy #2: Chew while you chop – instead of sampling everything as you prepare it, chew gum to keep your mouth busy. A little this and a little that can add up to a whole lot of calories.

Strategy #3: Be a picky eater – allow your eyes to feast on every holiday dish and delight, but choose only your favorite special items to sample., It is also a good idea to chat for about 20 minutes before getting up to get seconds. (See “Channeling my inner thin.”)

Strategy #4: Take dainty bites – people who take smaller bites end up eating less. Who knew? Liao advises taking teaspoon-size bites intead of tablespoon-sized ones. She also suggests using small utensils and the smallest plate available.

Strategy#5: Think before you eat – with so much good food around it is easy for the hand to just reach out and pop some into your mouth before you even think about it. RESIST!  Mindless eating is a good way to add calories and not even get any enjoyment from it. Watch your hand and be aware of what it is doing.

Strategy #6: Stay on the move – exercise whenever you can and if you can’t exercise as often as usual tack on an extra few minutes each time.

Strategy #7: Start skinny sipping – a five-ounce glass of wine has only 123 calories and is a calorie bargain compared with other alcoholic beverages.

Strategy#8: Keep your focus – this is similar to tip #5, think before you eat. When you are preoccupied, you don’t fully tast or appreciate the food you are eating. Spend more time concentrating on your converstation OR focus on your food.  This is NOT a good time for multi-tasking. An interesting side note: women tend to consume less calories when they are in the presence of a man.  So sit next to an interesting male at the table and let nature take it course.

Strategy #9: Seize some zzzz’s – studies show that sleep deprivation actually can increase your appetite! So work out, sleep plenty and eat light.

Week 14 of the 20lb struggle: I’m holding on. I’ve lost 14 pounds! And despite the fact that I haven’t lost any additional weight in the last few weeks I have lost the two pounds I gained during my Halloween visit to Orlando. AND. I am happy to report that I am eating healthier, feeling better, and am much more aware of my eating choices.

I know the next few weeks will be even more difficult with Thanksgiving, family gatherings and holiday parties almost every other day. What is a dieter to do?

I plan to celebrate my weight loss. Even though I have lost 14 lbs I have still been wearing my old clothes. Yes, the pants are baggy and the shirts look over-sized, but I kept saying to myself, “I can’t buy anything in a new size until I lose the WHOLE 20 POUNDS.”

But now as a special gift for myself I will go shopping today. I will try on pants in a size 6. I will buy more stylish clothes that show off my figure instead of hiding it. I will allow myself to accept myself as a thinner person. . . . . and. . . . . I will celebrate my accomplishment.

If you are a regular reader then you know that hitting the weight loss plateau has been more like hitting a wall for me. I have allowed myself to feel battered by the experience. But now I have a new attitude.

I know it is unrealistic to think that I can keep on losing weight with so many holiday temptations to deal with. BUT. I can stay focused on my goal. I may succumb to some pumpkin pie, I may savor a dollop of cranberry sauce, but I can avoid the whipped cream topping and the stuffing. Once I have my new wardrobe it will remind me of where I have been and where I am going. My new clothes will talk to me.  They will say,”See how great you feel. Look in the mirror and allow yourself to feel pleasure in what you see.  Hold on.  Hold on. Eat.  Enjoy. BUT. Don’t over-indulge. Watch your portions.  Make good food selections. THINK about what you are eating with every bite.”

I have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. I have made a lot of personal progress. I am no longer bummed out by my weight loss plateau. Instead, I intend to use it as a platform to launch my re-energized efforts in the New Year! For now, all I have to do is maintain the status quo and enjoy where I am.

Day 90 of the 20 lb struggle

Has this ever happened to you?

There is somewhere you want to get to and you are so excited that you can’t wait to get there.  So you start your car and start driving. Each mile along the way you imagine getting to your destination and you feel great as you get closer. Then when you are about 65% of the way there you get stuck in traffic! The lane in front of you is blocked.  The lane to right of you is blocked.  The lane to the left of you is blocked.

What do you do in a situation like this? 

Many people freak out. Some experience road rage. I have even seen some cars driving off on the right shoulder hoping to find a way through only to be given a ticket for blocking an emergency route.

I’ll tell you what I do.

“I’m stuck in traffic but I will get there as fast as I can,” I tell them when I call on my cell phone. Then I breathe deeply and do some relaxation exercises so that my freed up time is used productively instead of eaten up by anxiety and stress. I think about where I am going and how good it will be to get there. I imagine what I will do when I get there.

I once heard someone say that “timing is everything in life.” I was just a teenager and couldn’t figure out what that meant. Now that I am older and have some perspective I understand that sometimes it feels like the whole universe is on your side making it easier for you to get to where you want to go and to accomplish your goal. BUT. There are other times when nothing you do seems to work and nothing seems to work in your favor.

Riding the wave of good fortune is easy. Navigating your way through difficult times is not. Sometimes it is just better to sit and wait for things to change before trying to move forward.  If you try to push forward when it is not the right time you run the risk of “banging your head against a wall” and frustrating yourself to the point where you begin to believe that further effort is useless. 

Taking a break is NOT the same thing as quitting. Several friends have asked me what is happening to the 20 lb struggle. My answer? I’m just sitting in traffic waiting for the road to clear so I can start moving forward again.  Not too sure how long that will take.

 In the meantime I’m relaxing and staying mindful of my goal.

My Weight Loss Plan

Reaching a weight loss plateau:  Day 84

How hard can it be to lose 20 lbs? Well, that all depends. For many who are grossly overweight they can drop that much in a week or two.  For me it is a daunting challenge. After 3 months of the 20 lb struggle I have lost 10% of my total body weight (13 lbs). But there has been no change in the past few weeks.  I am in the Dieter’s Twilight Zone, that space between success and failure, between “good enough” and “looking great.”  I am at the weight loss plateau!

Today I will review the past 3 months and share some lessons learned.

  • Enthusiasm is a great way to kick start a weight loss plan, but it is difficult to maintain through the long haul.
  • Having a weight loss plan is important.  Sticking with the weight loss plan even when you don’t feel like it is even more important.
  • Looking for simple answers is easy. Learning that hard work and persistence are required for true success is difficult.
  • Everyone is different. It is ALWAYS important to be in tune with your body and to make consistently healthy choices.
  • Creating healthy eating habits that you repeat regularly helps to keep you on track. For example, I try to have my meals at the same time each day. I always have a piece of fruit or a Breakstone’s Cottage Double when I get home from work to take the edge off my hunger.
  • Don’t worry about being perfect. Nobody is.
  • A simple, yet flexible, weight loss diet can help provide structure and support during the difficult times.
  • The diet I use is easy to follow, healthy, and effective for consistent weight loss.  I was pleased to learn that a diet similar to the one I use was endorsed on a recent TV showing of The Doctors. They called it a Common Sense High Protein Weight Loss Diet.  Here it is in a nutshell:
    • Avoid sugars, starches, bread, pasta and fatty foods.
    • Have a portion of lean protein at least twice a day.
    • Drink coffee and/or caffeinated drinks only before 12 noon.
    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
    • Eat plenty of fresh vegetables.
    • Eat fresh fruit in moderation.
    • Use dairy products in moderation (low or non-fat only).
    • Exercise whenever possible.  If you can get into a regular routine of 30-40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 or 4 times a week you get a GOLD STAR! 

With Thanksgiving, family gatherings, and the holiday season looming ahead it is probably unrealistic to think that I will be making much progress any time soon.

My Plan:

  1. Stick with the program whenever possible.
  2. DO NOT give in to the temptation to say “The Hell with it.  I’ll just eat whatever I want.”
  3. Remain mindful of my eating behavior and my eating choices.

I’ve also hit a plateau in terms of writing this blog. At the beginning I couldn’t wait to write about my experiences.  I felt like I was talking to a friend and sharing what was going on in my life. I loved when I got comments.  I sent out e-mails to everyone on my mailing list and told them to check out the blog. Everyone was very encouraging.

But over time I started hearing things like, “How is that blog thing going?  I haven’t had time to look at it.” The blog traffic statistics also started to dip to lower and lower levels. So that got me to thinking.

Who is the blog for? Is it to help me to lose weight? Is it for readers to be entertained/educated/helped?

I don’t know.  Maybe no one cares about my 20 lb struggle but me. 

I’m not giving up, though.  Even if I am the only one left reading this blog at least I’ll know that there is, at the minimum, one person getting something positive out of this.

Jack o LanternDay 78

Each year I buy a bag of Snickers bars, a bag of tootsie rolls, and a bag of Kit Kat bars. I put them in a big Halloween bowl and pray for Trick or Treaters to knock on my door so that none will be left over. Snickers loves Halloween because that was the day that I brought him home to live with me eight years ago. He was so sweet that I just had to name him after a candy bar.

That first year he wasn’t sure what to make of the children ringing the doorbell and yelling “Trick or Treat!” But each year since then he looks forward to the excitement of having visitors all dressed up in funny costumes come to the house. This year I dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and Snickers pretended that he was the little dog “Toto.”

Snickers Halloween

Snickers gets ready for Trick or Treaters

Snickers helped me to get things ready and as soon as I put the plastic pumpkin out in front of the door, he knew what he had to do.  He spread out by the doorway and waited patiently until he heard someone approach.  Then he started barking and jumping at the door. He was really trying to be scary! But as soon as I opened the door and he ran out to greet the visitors no one was scared.  Instead all we heard was “Oh, what a cute little dog!”

Tomorrow I will take the leftover candy to work and let someone else be tempted by it.

Snickers as Toto

Snickers as Toto

Yesterday was weigh-in day and I really was not looking forward to it. I knew that the news would not be good. To be honest I have been sort of bummed out.  I don’t like that I couldn’t stay disciplined while I was staying with my grandchildren. I felt discouraged and disheartened.

I started the 20 lb struggle with so much enthusiasm and positive feeling. But now I felt like I had failed. I wanted to get my motivation back but I just felt defeated. I was telling all this to one of my friends when she said something interesting that changed everything for me.

What she said was, “You have worked hard for the past ten weeks and you lost 14 lbs. You deserve a vacation.  Some time off. Maybe you gained a few pounds on your vacation from the 20 lbs struggle, but you didn’t gain it ALL back. Give yourself a break and then get back on track.”

So that’s what I did. 

I decided that I had had my vacation and now it was time to step onto the scale and get back to business. I was scared.  But it wasn’t because of Halloween Horrors.  I was scared to see the damage that I had done while I wasn’t paying attention to what I was eating.

One foot.  Then the other. I closed my eyes. And then I looked. I had only gained two pounds! It wasn’t as bad as I feared. I can do this.  I can lose those two pounds. And. I can lose six more! After all I’m already 12 pounds gone.  That’s a pretty good head start as a begin my renewed effort in the 20 lb struggle.

Pantry temptations

Pantry temptations

Day 70

My weight loss challenge this week is focused on self-control and will-power.  Because I live alone I have been able to control my food environment very well. There is nothing in my pantry that I shouldn’t eat.  But this week I am at my daughter’s home which is filled with temptations at every turn.

I have already succumbed to pretzels, hummus, pizza, Keebler Fudge Shoppe Fudge Sticks, and Sun Chips. While none of these foods are sinfully unhealthy, they do stimulate my appetite and make staying on the straight and narrow more difficult. My weight loss plan involves eating lean protein, vegetables, and fruit in order to feel satisfied. These foods help me to suppress my appetite. The idea is that the less hungry I am the less likely I will be to eat impulsively, make poor choices, gain weight.

But life rarely works out according to plan. In the midst of family fun and togetherness I have let down my guard. Knowing that so much is available “just to taste” creates temptations that I do not usually have to overcome. At home I have made things easy on myself by creating good routines and avoiding the foods I know will not help my weight loss efforts. But here my will-power is being tested almost on a minute by minute basis.

So it was with trepidation that I stepped onto the scale this morning. After 10 weeks of the 20 lb struggle I am proud to report that I have lost 14 lbs!

Have I mentioned that I am very petite? Standing at less than five foot tall, a weight loss of 14 pounds represents slightly more than 10% of my original body weight. Despite the fact that I have not been able to develop a regular and organzed exercise regime yet (but I am working on this), I feel more energetic, less sleepy, mentally sharper and happier.

I am truly excited by what I have accomplished so far.  I can’t wait to lose a few more pounds.  My clothes are getting too baggy and I want to go out and get some new ones.  But being a practical and thrifty person by nature I want to wait until I am at my goal weight. I think that I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Temptation can slow down my choo-choo train, but it can’t make it stop.