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! 🙂

blogging, Exercise, problem solving, weight loss journal, Wellness Center, Writing

Zen and the Art of Octane Acquisition

Oh, glorious Octane, coveted above all other machines, I praise and glorify your calorie burning abilities!
Oh, glorious Octane, coveted above all other machines, I praise and glorify your calorie burning abilities!

I’ve written previously of my love for the Octane machine at the gym. (Who wouldn’t love a machine that can burn a day’s worth of calories in an hour?)  I’ve also mentioned a time, or two, that it is the most coveted machine in all of

the Wellness Center kingdom. I’ve, additionally, written about “Grumpy Guy,” who likens himself Prince Joffrey* from the realm of Octane.  Every, single, freakin’ time I hit the gym “Joffrey” and his band of merry Octane hogs seem to be occupying my favorite machine.

Yesterday, I tried a brand new technique.  Instead of worrying and having a dumpy, yet aggressive, disposition about getting “my” Octane, I tried to concentrate on the other machines and exercises that I could do if they were occupied.  I could use the treadmill, the elliptical, or I could simply run the track.

When I walked past the floor to the locker room,  all of the Octanes were being used,

The Octane that you seek will forever be mine!!
The Octane that you seek will forever be mine!!

as I’d imagined.  However, I kept my chill attitude.  It was no big deal, there were other things I could do.  I changed into my workout gear, strapped on my iPod and found my favorite play list.  I took my time putting my gym bag and street clothes away, and then sauntered out to the floor.  Low and behold, there was an empty Octane just waiting for me

Keeping my cool worked for acquiring my favorite machine.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier!

We don't acquire the Octane.  The Octane acquires us.
We don’t acquire the Octane. The Octane acquires us.

 

*This is a Game of Thrones reference.  I watched two episodes with my husband yesterday.  I seem to be the only person on the planet who doesn’t love it.

Happiest of Sundays, everyone! 🙂

Appreciation, blogging, enjoying family, learning, Motherless Daughters, problem solving, Self-Soothing, Thankfulness, Writing

Analyzing the Literature of Life

Clipart courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Artist:  J Alves
Clipart courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, Artist: J Alves

My mother called me at college, early in the morning, on the day of her death, to remind me to turn in my financial aid information for my impending senior year.  Our conversation was brief and ended with our usual, “I love you,” and little did I suspect that she would turn the final page in the story of our lives together that spring afternoon.

On the separate occasions that my own daughters were presented to me, squalling in their disdain of leaving my warmth, I had already begun the tale of our lives together. I’d nurtured them  in utero with good food, music that I thought any developing fetus might love, and stories by  Dr. Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Margaret Brown and all of my  childhood favorites. Becoming a mother, the role that I take most sacredly, made me an integral supporting character in the story of their lives. No matter what milestone they reached, success they accomplished, or heartache they endured, my presence was written firmly on their pages in indelible ink.  As my own mother had been the arms waiting to hold me, the ears open to listening, and the words of guidance that I most cherished, I endeavored to be the same for them.

Most of the time our plot was sunny and full of the natural fun and laughter that we all craved.  When storms, like heartbreak, illness, or the impulsive choices of the teenaged brain struck, we bolstered in and rode it out together. Though the situations may have differed we were still writing a book that I’d read before.

When my daughters reached young adulthood, I entered into a dauntingly unfamiliar territory. When I was 18, my mother’s terminal illness caused her to weakly hand the pen to me to continue our tale. Immaturity, inexperience, and grief made my version of the story scattered and our plot weak.  I veered off into dark subplots and invited in characters that I normally would have avoided.  While my greatest supporting character was dying, I couldn’t consult her expertise.

As my own daughters broached 18, I  was struck by a foreignness that I couldn’t shake for the first few years.  Of course, I was still there, but not in every sense of the way.  There were doubts and questions. How do I guide them when they seem so grown?  How can I conjure advice that I was never given?  Where does my character fit in this  scenario?  Fortunately, I was driven by the only memory that I had of being their age; needing her.  Just simply, purely and fully still needing my mother, no matter how grown I looked, or how capable I mostly seemed, I needed her.  Knowing this, aided me in learning my new role.  I realized that no matter how adroitly or eloquently they wrote, there would be times that the pen would be handed back to me. I relaxed, I listened, and the advice came as I began to see where I belonged.

This morning, I watched my youngest leave for work. Dressed  In smart business attire, she approached this Monday with a bright smile, eager to begin her day as a recently promoted human resources specialist.  This past weekend, I was equally impressed with my oldest as she ran at full speed through a local store’s parking lot to help an elderly woman that she’d witnessed falling.  While they both still live at home; my youngest saving money as she waits for her fiancé to graduate this fall, and my oldest as she finishes her medical school rotations, I am blessed to witness these vignettes.  However, I am sometimes struck with the sadness that my mother never got to do the same.  At our denouement I was still stuck in conflict without a resolution in sight. I was, at my best, a struggling college junior with a crappy boyfriend, and underdeveloped coping skills.   She didn’t see my achievements, advancements, acts of compassion, or the strong capable woman that I am today.

Thankfully, I’ve experienced the growth of my children, from conception to adulthood, in full circle. Gratefully, I have the memory and insight of  the faith that I had in their ability to do the right thing even in their darkest of  situations.  I like to think that my mother was soothed by that same insight and faith in me as she handed me the pen to finish our story.  Perhaps, the gift in all of this, the true denouement, is the supreme level of reverence and appreciation that I hold for every miniscule moment, every tiny memory and sequence, that I share with my  precious adult children.

What do you hold most sacred?  Who are the most important characters in your story?

 

blogging, Crafting to lose weight, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, optifast, problem solving, setting goals, weight loss journal, Writing

I’ve got the Transition Blues!

Do you have a food monster in your brain?
Do you have a food monster in your brain?

You would think that I’d be thrilled to finally be eating, but I’m actually not finding it as exciting as I’d imagined.  Transition has brought back an old nemesis that I thought I’d left behind; HUNGER.I hadn’t actually felt hungry since my second week on Optifast.  Now, because my digestive system has been kicked back into action, I find myself watching the clock, waiting for my next shake, or my one meal of 4 oz. of protein and a cup of veggies.

My recent hunger  has conjured another familiar fear; food obsession.  Before my classes at the bariatric center and my time on Optifast, my waking hours were spent thinking about what I would be eating next. I’d mentally prepare meals before I ever set foot in the kitchen, and a trip to the grocery store was equivalent to a day in Disneyland. Being on Optifast briefly halted that.

Yesterday, as I drove home from the gym, I found myself mentally preparing and eating dinner.  Granted, I was mentally preparing an egg white omelet with spinach, red onion, green peppers and mushrooms–not a bad meal.  But, what frightened me was the way I was thinking about food. These were thoughts that went beyond the  normal, “Hey I’m gonna make an omelet for dinner.   It was sensory; I was seeing it, smelling it and tasting it with my massive imagination.

I turned on the radio and broke my gustatory reverie with thoughts of swimming, power walking, and recumbent elliptical conquering, but I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that over-imagining my dinner was a problem; a diet sin that was just as bad as sneaking a piece of chocolate cake.

I’ve made so much progress, and I haven’t physically cheated on my meal plan,ever, so why do I feel guilty for thinking about my next meal, beyond regular planning? Why is their so much confusion for me where food is concerned?  Why can’t I be passé about food like “normally weighted” people seem to be?  I’ve heard my size 8 friends casually say, “Oh, gosh, no wonder I’m hungry, I forgot to eat lunch.”  I don’t propose to skip a meal, because I know that’s not good, but how does one not care enough about food to forget to eat?

Perhaps I’m worrying too much about this.  I know the proper thing to do is to make a written plan for my meals one week in advance and to enjoy them as I mindfully eat.  I also know that I have other experiences that I can replace my food thoughts with.  I can mentally plan vacations or shopping trips,  revisit fun with a friend, think about my cats, my blog, or my latest needle-felting project.  I guess I’m just wondering when it gets easy, natural, and casual?  When will I make the transition from “OMG FOOD, NOM, NOM, NOM!!!!” to ” Hmm, I think I’ll make an omelet for dinner tonight” ?

I know I’m strong and I can work through these worries.  I’ve just been sailing through this whole thing so successfully, that the return of my old way of thinking has surprised me.  I know it will get easier and that I’ll find a balance. 🙂

Do you struggle with food obsession/shame or have you conquered it? Please share your secrets in the comments. 🙂

 

 

 

blogging, learning, love, problem solving, setting goals, Wisdom, Wisdom Wednesdays, Writing

Wisdom Wednesday: The Power of Self-Talk

What do you say to yourself when you look into the mirror? Picasso's "Girl Before Mirror" (Photo by me)
What do you say to yourself when you look into the mirror?
Picasso’s “Girl Before Mirror” (Photo by me)

This post begins with a difficult admission.  I used to be a mean girl. Years ago,  I would speak horribly to someone who I was supposed to be nurturing, loving, and building up.  Nearly everyday, I’d utter phrases that hurt. Sometimes I’d mutter under my breath,”Your hair looks terrible!”  On other occasions, I’d whisper,”Your skin is awful!”  And sometimes, when I was feeling particularly hateful, I’d say loud enough for everyone to hear,”If you weren’t so fat, you’d have clothing that fits!”  I didn’t say these things to my children, or my friends. I said them to myself and I didn’t think they were bothering anyone but me. After all, I spent the majority of my day building up others.  As a teacher, I used only positive words in my classroom.  As a mom, I never missed an opportunity to tell my daughters how wonderful I knew they were.

Then one day, I was school shopping with my, then 10 year-old, daughter. In the middle of trying on new pants, she looked in the mirror and blurted out, “These jeans make me look fat!”   She certainly wasn’t overweight and I asked her why she would say that about herself.  “You say it when you look in the mirror, Mom.”  Her reply hit me like a ton of bricks.  I did say that to myself, and more.

After an apologetic discussion and heartfelt assurance of her perfect size and beauty, I promised to stop speaking harshly to myself.  This was not an easy task.  I’d suffered from poor self-esteem most of my life and after my divorce, my self-worth plummeted even further. I’d formed deeply ingrained, negative self-talk behaviors that felt too hard to break, but I certainly didn’t want to be a bad example to my children and I was tired of feeling bad about myself.

I couldn’t afford counseling at the time, but I had read that it takes 30 days of consistent practice to break most habits.  I decided that for the next 30 days anytime a negative thought about my appearance entered my mind that I would counter it, out loud, with a positive statement about myself.  This was difficult, because it often felt like I was lying to myself.  My head would tell me, “Ugh! You look rough today!” but my voice would sing, “You look beautiful.  I love you!  I feel good about myself!” 

Over and over, day after day, I kept up with my experiment.  Oftentimes, my young daughters would catch me praising myself and giggle.  I would then remind them of their beauty, inside and out. Soon, I began to hear them complimenting themselves, and each other, laced with happy laughter,  in the mornings before school.

Sixteen years later, I still have my same routine.  My adult kids will still giggle when they walk in on me finishing up my makeup and saying, “Damn, I look good today!”  They know I’m not a raging narcissist, but they also know that I now believe my words to be true. In the midst of caring for, and about others, I care about myself, too.

 

What are you saying to yourself? Have you ever broken a negative habit?  How did you do it?

 

***If you would like to participate in Wisdom Wednesdays, please email me at clares1964@yahoo.com. I’d love to read stories of how life’s situations have helped you gain personal wisdom.  I welcome writers of all ages and experiences.******   (I could really use a few posts. :))

 

blogging, dealing with food cravings, emotional eating, Food Addiction, Friday Fixes, Having fun, learning, losing weight, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, Mindful Eating, problem solving, Self-Soothing, sensory input, setting goals, Tips fot weight loss, weight loss journal

A Soothing Series; Friday Fixes

Enjoying nature is a wonderful way of soothing yourself. (Photo by Fotolia)
Enjoying nature is a wonderful way of soothing yourself. (Photo by Fotolia)

Yesterday, I attended an amazing behavioral modification class at the bariatric center.  The topic was Self-Soothing, and I know many of you who suffer from food addictions, emotional eating, or just general stress in your life, will be interested in tips and techniques  to combat stress, as well as the desire to eat when you’re not really hungry.

Food provides a series of sensory experiences.  We hear it sizzling, bubbling, or simmering on the stove and smell it’s tempting aroma as it’s prepared.  We see its glorious shapes and colors and taste its sweet, sour, salty, bitter, or savory flavors.  We experience its consistency and texture as we move it in our mouths. Temporarily, it fills a need.  Momentarily its a panacea that soothes out anxiety or makes us forget something in our lives that’s missing.  Then, like most fleeting fixes, it leaves us  guilt-ridden and hungry for more. Because of the sensory nature of food, replacing it with another pleasurable sensory experience as a remedy for cravings when you’re full or when your daily nutritional needs have been met, is often very effective.

Over the next two months, I’m going to offer a series of well-researched posts each Friday that I’ll call Friday Fixes.  These posts will focus on sensory techniques to combat overeating, as well as mindful eating techniques and general stress busters.  As always, I welcome your topic ideas, suggestions, or feedback!  

******Next week’s topic will be Self-Soothing through Visual Sensory Input.******

Doesn't this image make you feel calmer? (Photo from Microsoft Images)
Doesn’t this image make you feel calmer? (Photo from Microsoft Images)

 

 

Disclaimer (as I have no desire to incite trouble 🙂 ): I am not an expert on behavioral modification or weight loss. However, as a licensed teacher and public relations specialist, I am research savvy and able to provide information from reliable, scholarly sources.