Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

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.”


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Laura dressed as Dorothy

Laura dressed as Dorothy

Day 69

It’s challenging to control your food consumption when you live alone, as I do.  It is even more difficult when you are living  with others who have different ideas about what they want to eat.  This week I can  test my will-power in new ways.

For example: As soon as I walked in the door I noticed the white chocolate covered popcorn clusters laying on the kitchen counter. My daughter, Laura, dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, was on her way to Girls’ Halloween Costume Bunco Night. She was taking the wrapped popcorn clusters with her, but there was plenty left over.

My son-in-law, Rick, decided to go work-out at the gym, leaving me alone with those mouth-watering morsels. Not exactly dietetic! I decided to remove myself from temptation by leaving the room. When Rick returned he made turkey burgers which was a great choice for dinner, high in protein, low in calories. I would have had this with some steamed vegetables but what we had instead were potato chips with low-fat dip.

Turkey burger with salad and ketchup

Turkey burger with salad and ketchup

How did I do? (1) I made a salad for myself which I ate with my turkey burger minus the bun. (2) I tried to avoid the potato chips with dip but was not entirely successful.  I did have a small amount.  BUT. I did not pig out. I stayed aware of what of I was eating and just took as little as I could. (3) When it was time to clean up I couldn’t resist taking a few pieces of popcorn and then I watched as Rick threw the rest into the garbage. You can judge me if you want.  I give myself a C+, not great but still a passing grade.

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Scallops & shrimp with steamed vegetables and mango salsa

What I ate: Scallops & shrimp with steamed vegetables and mango salsa

Day 63

Who says that being on a weight-loss diet means that you can’t enjoy wonderful restaurant meals? Not me! I know that eating in restaurants regularly can be challenging to my weight loss plans. But, by playing my cards right I’m hoping that I can “have my cake and eat it too.” Hmmm. I think there are too many calories in that last sentence. Let’s change it to: I’m hoping that I can “have my weight-loss and eat well too.”

Last night was girls’ theater night. We decided to have dinner at Bonefish Grill before the show. So the first thing I did was go to the internet to find the healthiest thing on the menu. Oh my!  Bonefish Grill does not publish the nutritional information of its menu items.  So I had to fly by the seat of my pants. I think I did some things right, but there is still room for improvement.

I ordered Scallops and Shrimp with steamed vegetables and mango salsa.  All low calorie, low fat choices.  BUT. I forgot to say, “No butter, please.” The food looked gorgeous and was amazingly delicious. Yet you can see from the photo that it is glistening from added fat. Next time I will not make the same mistake again.  But in the meantime. WOW! Was that good!

When we got to the theater we were in for a big surprise. We have been attending the theater regularly for the past several years and so we noticed the change right away.  It was the aroma of food as soon as we entered the lobby. Following our noses we found that the theater is now serving sandwiches and fresh baked goods. I’m talking about big, fresh gooey, chocolate chunk cookies and brownies.  I’m talking about fresh carved hot pastrami and warm turkey sandwiches on rye bread. Whatt!!! Have we all gone crazy? Well maybe not so crazy.  They seemed to be doing a very good business.  And even though we had just finished our own delectable dinners, our eyes could not help but follow each sandwich as it passed by with its scent of delicatessen.

WhatI didn't eat

What I didn't eat

At intermission I stayed glued to my seat but my friends needed to stretch their legs. They came back smelling suspiciously of chocolate.

Today is the completion of week 9 of the 20 pound struggle.  It is weigh-in day. I confess that I have relaxed, gone on auto pilot much of the time.  I’m not paying as close attention to portion control or between meal snacks. In my head I think I am doing great, but the scale doesn’t lie.

This week: NO PROGRESS. 

But I am proud to say that I have lost 13 lbs in 9 weeks. My friend, Phyllis said, “That’s like you got rid of a big sack of potatoes.”

The closer the train gets to the station, the slower it goes. Staying motivated as weight-loss slows (or pauses) is not easy. But you don’t see passengers jumping off the train impatiently when it slowly approaches their destination. And you won’t see me jumping off the 20 pound struggle.  I’ve gotten this far.  I intend to take it all the way to the finish line. No matter how long that takes.

Copyright © 2009 Maxine Schackman

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