Anxiety, blogging, emotional eating, Exercise, finding balance, fitness, Food Addiction, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, optifast, problem solving, Tips fot weight loss, Uncategorized, weight loss journal, Writing

The Ups and Downs of Weight Management

It’s been a very long time since I’ve given an update on my weight loss and fitness levels I know those of you on Optifast are probably wondering how successful the program has been more than a year beyond the original use of the product.  I know it differs for everyone, but here’s my experience.

I began my weight loss journey January 2014 at 230 pounds.  I’m small framed and am 5’4″ tall, so that was quite a bit of weight to be carrying around. I had a myriad of health issues; prediabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and asthma.  I used a CPAP to sleep at night and took a pile of medication each day. My rock bottom came one night when I was lying in bed attempting to read and realized that my own neck fat was cutting off my air supply.  The next day I called my doctor.

I completed 18 weeks of a medically supervised Optifast program (800 calories a day/5 shakes).  During this time I took weight loss classes and participated in cognitive behavioral therapy to change my binging and general eating behaviors.  I also enrolled in a weight management program at our hospital’s wellness center and worked out 5-6 days per week.  After the Optifast products, with the aid of a dietitian, I transitioned to a high protein/low carb diet of 1200 calories.  This diet is much like the diet that those with diabetes are instructed to follow.  Within approximately six months my weight was down to 131 lbs. (a 99 lb. loss).  All those medications and the CPAP were things of my past.

Once the weight was gone, the tough part began; MAINTENANCE!!! Instead of weekly check-ins with the doctor, I began seeing her monthly, then quarterly.  I also was in charge of eating real food in the real world.  For the first year, I religiously stuck with the program and stayed around 135 lbs.  My doctor kept telling me that a 10-15 pound gain would be normal during maintenance, but I refused to believe her.  I was determined to not go over 135lbs.  Then, sometime this past fall, I began, as the Pentecostals would  say, “back-sliding.”  I could blame it on being too busy to follow my meal plan, or on the holidays approaching, but truth be told, I made the choice to fall off the wagon.  For the past six months, I’ve pretty much eaten what I’ve wanted, when I’ve wanted it and I haven’t made fitness a priority.  I’d love to say that miraculously I’m still fitting quite comfortably in my clothing from last spring and summer, but I can’t.  My recent weigh-in shows a gain of 15 pounds.

The good thing about gaining 15 pounds is that it’s ONLY 15 pounds.  When I was staring down the barrel of 230 lbs. with nearly 100 pounds to drop, weight loss seemed daunting.   Now, with the proper tools and knowledge, it’s not so scary. My doctor and I made the very realistic goal of dropping ten pounds by the end of July.  I’m back to seeing my weight loss counselor. I’ve purged my pantry of sugary, carb-laden treats and I’ve dusted off my gym equipment.  I know that weight maintenance doesn’t end when the last pound of your goal has been lost.  I have to keep on keeping on.

How has everyone on Optifast or other weight loss plans been doing?  Updates, please! 

 

 

 

blogging, dealing with food cravings, Exercise, fitness, Food Addiction, Having fun, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, Mindful Eating, problem solving, setting goals, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

Anniversaries, Advice, and Ideas

 

Yum!  A tiny treat with 1/3 the calories of a small meal!  (photo from Ghirardelli.com)
Yum! A tiny treat with 1/3 the calories of a small meal! (photo from Ghirardelli.com)

Friday, January 16th, marks my one year Optifast anniversary.  While this is a great occasion to cheer, I have to admit that I’ve found myself slacking and lacking since the weekend.  Perhaps it’s the bitter cold weather and my primal urgings to bulk up against the cold, or perhaps I needed a break in my normally healthy routine.  Whatever the reason, I’ve been kind of naughty this week.  Saturday was my last gym visit, I’ve eaten several meals that certainly aren’t on my plan, and raided my daughter’s “hidden” stash of Christmas chocolates in the freezer.  (Did you know that just one Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Caramel square has 80 calories?  They look way too small to be that dangerous!)

Today, I’m catching myself before I fall into a sea of subs, burgers, fries, chocolate, and hopeless inactivity, because, unfortunately, it is easy to go there even after so much work to reach my goal weight. I’m determined to check myself before I wreck myself and here’s my plan:

  1. Forgive myself and cross my name off of the naughty list
  2. Get out my measuring cup, measuring spoons and food scale–and use them.
  3. Start packing my lunch, dinner, and snacks when I go out. Relying on finding something healthy at a restaurant isn’t working as well as knowing the exact calorie count and portion size of what I pack.
  4. Find some new ways for my husband and I to have fun when we go out.  (Any suggestions, blogging buddies?) Lately, now that it’s so cold out, our dates have all been in restaurants.
  5. Make an appointment with my trainer. While my weight loss doctor and counselor provide polite, verbal motivation, my trainer, Olivia will give me great advice while kicking my ass into shape.  Truthfully, sometimes I just need my ass kicked.
  6. Reduce the size of my nut sack.   I LOVE nuts and derive a portion of my daily protein intake from them.  However, I know I’ve been overdoing it with my nut grazing lately.  Instead of storing my daily serving in a sandwich bag, I’m switching to the smaller snack-sized baggie.  Even though it’s smaller, the fullness of the baggie makes me feel like I’m having a bigger serving. (Hooray for ample nut sacks!!)
  7. Get the junk out of my house.  I know I’m not good with resisting temptation when it comes to snack foods. My best bet in avoiding them is to not invite them into my house in the first place.

 

Speaking of anniversaries, my very first blog-iversary for The Ravenously Disappearing Woman is coming up on January 25th, and I’m trying to decide the best way to celebrate it.  Any good ideas?  Perhaps I could have a contest?  Maybe I could post some bikini shots?  (totally joking– I haven’t owned a bikini since the 90s!)  Maybe I could do a video post, or perhaps something crazier!  I welcome your good ideas–the more outrageous–the better! 

Now, enough of this fun; I need to go work out! 🙂

Bipolar II, blogging, emotional eating, enjoying family, losing weight, love, marriage, Medical Weight Loss Program, memories, mental illness, optifast, Self-Soothing, setting goals, weight loss journal, Wisdom, Writing

To Dispel the Shininess of the Aha Moment

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey popularized a nearly century-old phrase first coined in a 1939 psychology text-book; the “aha moment.” By 2012, this locution had became so popular that it was officially entered into Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

 “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”

I somehow pictured the great epiphany of the aha moment to occur in a flash of terrific fanfare and deep connection with the Universe.  Little did I realize that my aha moment would occur in the small hours of the morning, in the pitch-dark of my bedroom.

It was November 12, 2013, and I couldn’t sleep, though I certainly didn’t lack the general feeling of exhaustion. Every joint in my body ached and the only thing more pronounced than the rapid pounding of my heart in my ears, was my labored breathing.  At nearly 230 pounds, I was the heaviest I’d ever been.

The past decade had brought a barrage of changes and strife that began with appearance of my youngest daughter’s bipolar symptoms; psychosis, depression, hypo-mania.  Because she was too ill to attend school and had to be constantly supervised, I took leave from my job of 16 years to care for her. For six months, other than for medical appointments, I only left my home, once every two weeks, go to the grocery store.  There, I would fill up my cart with an oxymoronic combination of extremely healthy foods for our meals, mixed with a plethora of high calorie sugary snacks for me. In those horrible days, food was my replacement for all of the pleasures that it felt like life had taken away; sanity, personal freedom, healthy relationships, and general happiness.  In truth, my youngest daughter seemed like a stranger and my oldest was acting out. She’d shaved her head, pierced her tongue, and even threatened to quit high school.  My husband, who, at that time, had limited understanding and experience with mental illness, was constantly out of sorts.  Add the financial burden from me no longer working, my unexpected isolation as an extrovert, and a family history of addiction into the mix and it’s no surprise that I reached for food as my drug of choice to numb chaos of my situation.

Eventually, our tribulations passed.  My daughter was properly diagnosed and medicated.  Within two years she was back to her old, sweet self. Looking back it seemed that in the blink of an eye she finished high school, then college, and found the perfect job.  She also found a terrific guy.   My oldest, thankfully, decided to stick out high school, then college, and finally medical school; in five months she’ll graduate to be a family doctor. Last year, she married her high school sweetheart.  My husband and I joined NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Illness) and attended their support groups. The hub became much better educated about mental illness and its effect on the family.  He’s not only one of my daughter’s biggest cheerleaders, he’s my complete partner in our happy marriage.

With the deviation of my tale passed, I return to the night of my epiphany with the thought that perhaps the old adage is wrong.  Perhaps things don’t feel brighter after the storm has passed.  Maybe the storm tosses us about a bit too long and makes us confused about who we are, and what we want, because on the night of my aha moment, I was certainly at rock bottom.  I tried one last time to finagle the mound of pillows behind my head, only to find myself unable to breathe from my suffocating neck fat.

“I hate myself. I can’t live like this anymore!” I mouthed in the dark, as hot tears exited the corners of my eyes and pooled in my ears. I covered my face with my hands to stifle my sobs. I wiped my eyes with the sheet and grabbed my tablet from the bedside table to type this:

THINGS I MUST DO TO CHANGE MY LIFE:

  1. Lose 95 pounds
  2. Regain my health
  3. Find something I love to do

The next morning I called the bariatric center to register for an informational session about Optifast on December 12, 2013.  After that session, I took their first available appointment.

January 16, 2014,  my very first day on Optifast, was the beginning of my new life.   The days, weeks, and months that followed were full of work, discovery, and living.  Nearly a year later, my days are exponentially as filled with happiness, harmony, and health.

My aha moment didn’t occur on the day that I’d won a great prize, or made a deep connection with the Universe, as I’d once suspected it would.  It happened under the shroud of night, on a pile of tear-stained pillows and twisted covers. In spite of my lofty visions of enlightenment, crushingly uncomfortable neck fat was my tipping point, my catalyst, and my spur.   I realize now that aha moments aren’t often those that sparkle.  They’re messy, dirty, gritty, painful, and even, fat. It’s that split second directly after an epiphany that life begins to twinkle, and once you set your change into motion it begins to shine.

Have you had an aha moment that’s changed your life for the better?  If you’ve lost weight, what was the catalyst that set your loss into motion?  Tell me about it in the comments below. 🙂 

 

 

 

Appreciation, blogging, Building self-confidence, enjoying family, Exercise, fitness, food and family celebrations, Having fun, learning, losing weight, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, memories, optifast, Thankfulness, weight loss journal, Writing

I’d Fight a Zombie for You

 

Last year, on December 16th, I attended an informational meeting about Optifast at our hospital’s bariatric center.  I was nearly 230 pounds and physically miserable.  My health was on a downward spiral of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, and limited mobility.   My spirit was in even worse shape.  In fact, shortly before my first bariatric visit, a silly family conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse* turned pretty serious as each family member was discussing their special skill in defeating the undead.  My husband’s years in the Army have given him amazing survival skills, coupled with a sniper-like aim with any weapon available.  My younger daughter is super fast, fearless, and strong. Her fiancé is resourceful and also an expert in survival and weaponry.  My oldest daughter is cunning, has expert medical skills, and extremely resilient, and her husband is wily, quick and strong.  After talking out a few scenarios that slayed more than a slew of zombies, my family turned to me,

“What would you do Mom?” my oldest asked.

“I’m fat,”  I replied, “I’d be your diversion.”

With that, their happy conversation ceased and I spent the next hour, promising them that I would get healthy.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My oldest I were happily dancing around the kitchen to holiday music with a few twerking songs thrown in, when she reminded me of last year’s Zombie Apocalypse conversation.

“What would you do now, Mom?” she questioned **

I answered with a high, karate-style kick that finished just inches from her head.

“I’d kick their asses!,” I replied with a smile.

With just one year of extremely hard work, I’ve gone from a Zombie’s holiday meal, to the undead’s worst enemy.  I’m nearly 100 pounds lighter, am no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have sleep apnea, depression, or high blood pressure.  My asthma medication has been cut in half, and I’m physically fit. I’ve met new, wonderful people through my gym and this blog.  I don’t fear life anymore, and I’m certainly not afraid of a few zombies!

I feel so immensely blessed this wonderful holiday season. I’m thankful for the love of my friends and family, for my health, and for all of the caring, sweet people that I’ve met here on WordPress.  I feel like I know all of you as friends and wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! ❤ ❤ ❤


 

*Something that people who have years of advanced education tend to do, along with lengthy discussions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other various super cool subjects!

**Once again, her extreme coolness coming out.

 

Appreciation, blogging, Exercise, fitness, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, strength training, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

I’ll See Ya Tomorrow!

I haven’t written much lately about my weight maintenance.  I have a bariatric doctor visit this afternoon, so I figure that now is the perfect time to share how things are going.  I weighed in at the gym yesterday for a “Turkey Burn” contest that they’re having the entire month of November.  For every five gym visits you receive entry into a drawing for a $100 gift card.  On your tenth visit, you get a nifty tee-shirt, and if you lose any weight during the month you get additional prizes.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I’ll do just about anything for a prize, so I’m super stoked about my gym’s event this month!

Yesterday’s weigh-in showed that I’m still slowly losing weight even though I’ve significantly increased my calories.  With clothes and shoes on I’m at 134 lbs., so that most likely means that I’m around 130-132 sans apparel.  Today, I’m having my metabolism measured to get a clearer picture of just how many calories I’m burning at rest. This should aid in creating a plan of how much I should be eating and working out.  It seems to be a fine balancing act, but I guess I should be happy that my metabolism has substantially increased.  I remember when it was nonexistent!

Right now, I’m eating about 1600 calories per day.  As far as exercise is concerned,  I continue to do 30 minutes of cardio per day for heart and lung health, but the bulk of my workouts have centered around strength training.  My focus has mostly been on my core and legs. After having a rather substantial pectoral pull about a month ago, I’ve done only arm work that won’t agitate my nearly-healed left pec.  I need to meet with my trainer again soon for an updated plan.

So far, I’ve found maintenance be relatively easy.  I owe this ease to the habits created through following the advice of my doctor and weight loss counselor at the bariatric center.  I’ve been at this for eleven months now, and my way of eating and exercising has become second nature.  I do remember months ago wondering if it would ever feel easy, and happily, I know that it eventually does.  Of course, as human nature dictates, I still have days, here and there, when I feel lazy and unmotivated, but I forgive my indiscretions and move on.  Here are a few things that help to keep me in check as I maintain my weight loss:

  1. My wardrobe–  I’ve donated ALL of my “fat clothes.”  If I regain weight I literally won’t have anything to wear (not even underwear!).
  2. My fridge and pantry– These two holders of nutrients shelter absolutely nothing but healthy foods and I feel no guilt for this.  My kids are grown, my husband has high cholesterol, and I don’t need the temptation of snack foods. You live with me and you want to eat junk, then do it elsewhere! 🙂  I actually crave healthy foods now.
  3. My husband and kids– Nearly everyday they tell me how proud they are of me and I think that’s the most awesome compliment ever.  I can’t let them down.  I strive to stay healthy for the people I love!
  4. The nice lady who checks me in at the gym– As I leave the gym, I always tell Sandra, “I’ll see you tomorrow!”  Just knowing that she’ll be expecting to check me in “tomorrow” makes me want to keep my word and go.  So far, I haven’t let her, or myself, down lately!
  5. Our three requested waitresses at Carrabba’s– My husband and I eat out about once a week and we always go to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.  Their food is made fresh to order. There are healthy grilled items and steamed vegetables on the menu that are delicious.  They honestly have the best grilled chicken that I’ve ever eaten. Darling Mandy, Racheal, and Denise have watched me shrink over these past eleven months, and they’ve carefully consulted the kitchen staff to make certain that my food has no added oil.  Just knowing that they expect that I’ll be eating healthily holds me accountable.
  6. This picture
    Who stuffed an extra person under my sweater?
    Who stuffed an extra person under my sweater?

    I’ve shared this shot in the past.  It’s me at the bariatric center, on the day that I first began Optifast.  I thought I was rockin’ that animal print sweater, but now I see that I looked like a baked potato with legs.  I felt even worse than I looked; tired, short of breath, anxious, and sick.  I never want to look, or feel, like that again.

I’ll post my results from today soon.  What motivates you to change or maintain?  Hope everyone is having an awesome Thursday! 🙂

 

blogging, Building self-confidence, Crafting to lose weight, enjoying family, fitness, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, Mindful Eating, weight loss journal, Writing

Bringing Sexy Back

I’m going to share a few thoughts on maintenance, but, first, I want  to thank everyone who voted on Monday’s polls.  The results show that I shouldn’t change my blog’s name, but that switching up my subjects from solely weight loss related posts would be perfectly acceptable.  After some thought, I’m rather happy to be keeping my name, as I’ve grown rather attached to it!  I do plan to change my tagline and to switch up the look of the blog just a bit.  Long ago, my future son-in-law (the Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop wiz) offered to make me a custom header.  My husband also offered to do some cartoon work for it. (He draws a really cute cartoon version of me). I need to re-ask them both if their offer still stands for when they have the time. So stay tuned for a few changes! 🙂


00roadrunner

Now, onward to maintenance.  I read a fantastic quote the other day from Optifast Blogger about maintenance. In her wonderful post about the things that keep her working hard to maintain her weight loss, Optifast Blogger admits that “losing weight is ‘sexier’ than maintenance.”  I read those words shortly after tallying up my last calories of the day, and they hit me like an anvil in a Roadrunner cartoon.  Maintenance is why some of the air has leaked out of my excitement balloon.  Its distinct lack of va va voom-iness is exactly why I haven’t felt like I’ve had much to write about lately.

In fact, the exhilaration of actively losing weight is much like the giddiness of being in a new relationship.  The beauty of it, is the person that you fall in love with, or re-fall in love with, is you.  It’s magical to work hard and see results.  Peering into the mirror and seeing the person that you’ve imagined yourself to be is awe-inspiring.  The feeling of completing physical challenges that you never before thought were possible is breathtaking. You run into people that you haven’t seen for a while and they notice how trim you’re looking.  You go shopping for new jeans, because all of your old ones are too big, and you find yourself slipping easily into a size 8.  You’re on top of the world!   Then one day, you step on the scales at your doctors office and she tells you that you’ve arrived.  You’ve reached your goal weight.  She slaps you a quick high-five and hands you the diet plan to maintain what you’ve lost.  Then she says. “This is the hard part; keeping it off.”  You leave the office happy and determined.  You have a formula that works for you, and you work your formula.  Then one day, after your 100th cup of yogurt at exactly 11:00 am, the same day that no one has asked, “Did you lose weight?”  you realize that the honeymoon of weight loss is over and that maintenance is the marriage.  It’s a good solid marriage, but it takes lots of effort. It needs the infusion of a few fluttering butterflies in the stomach and a few sparks to zap it back into the exciting status that it once had.  Luckily,  it doesn’t take a gastro-etymologist (I made that one up) or a generator to get the butterflies and sparks that we need.  We can do it ourselves with a few happy reminders.  This is my list of things that bring the “sexy” back to maintenance for me:

  • I don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.  How hot is that?
  • I can run–fast.  This means I’m no longer brain-bait during the zombie apocalypse, and that my legs are really toned and flexible.
  • I’m strong–In addition to knowing that I could fight off the undead, I have more poise and confidence because of my physical strength, and nothing is sexier than a little bit of swagger!
  • I have a nice fitting butt.  I’m not talking about how cute it looks in my size 8 non-mom jeans, I’m referring to the fact that it actually, truly fits in the places that I need it to; bus, train, theater, and restaurant seats needn’t shudder when I squat!
  • I’ve found positive replacements for  compulsive overeating.  I can craft, write, hang out with friends and family, or I can ask my husband to distract me–and actually not care if the lights are on!
  • I’m potentially adding additional years to my life by continuing to eat right and exercise–Knowing that I’ll be here longer for those I love puts the very biggest spark into my maintenance program.
Yo Roadrunner, I've got this!
Hey, Roadrunner, I’ve got this!

So what do you all think?  Is losing or maintaining your weight more difficult?  What are some things that you do to keep “the sexy” in maintenance?

 

blogging, Crafting to lose weight, enjoying family, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program

Hanging Out, Crafting, and the Stubborn Final 10

Somehow I manage to keep busy when not much is going on.  (Photo taken by me at Jockey's Ridge State Park)
Somehow I manage to keep busy when not much is going on. (Photo taken by me at Jockey’s Ridge State Park)

Hi all!  I’ve been super occupied this past week and haven’t been doing much blogging.  My oldest daughter has this week and the next off from school, and we’ve been having a wonderful time hanging out together. We’ve been going to the gym, swimming, and planning my youngest daughter’s super, fantastic, disco birthday party on Friday.  (I can’t say too much about it since I know my youngest reads my blog!)

I’ve also been doing a great deal of crafting, and after some urging from friends and family, I’ve decided to try my hand at some craft shows.  My awesome younger daughter has already designed a logo for my bags, labels, and business cards.  (I’ll post some pics later; I need to take some first!)

In weight loss news, I think I’ve finally hit a plateau.  I weighed myself today at the gym and I weigh only a few ounces less than I did last Wednesday.  This is frustrating because I’ve really upped my workouts.  Hopefully, it’s because I’ve replaced some of my fat with muscle mass. I’m actually pretty happy with the size I am now. I’m wearing size 10 pants and either a large or extra large top (because of my chest). My arms and legs are more toned than they’ve been since I was in my 20s!  Lately, I’ve really been focusing on my core strength and am beginning to see some definition in my upper abs. My lower abs might be a lost cause after two kids!  The doctor would like to see me drop 10 more pounds in order for my BMI to be in a normal weight range.  I’m following everything she and my trainer tell me to do. I guess it’s not a myth that the last 10 pounds are the hardest!

Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the gorgeous summer weather!

Any thoughts on how to get these stubborn last 10 pounds gone?