Goal-setting and Life Set-backs

I reached a major milestone yesterday.  I lost 50 pounds.  I have been very excited about this news.  Of course, I have a long way to go. Two more goals (another 50, and the final 40), and I will be at my target weight which is 160.  That seems  way too heavy for normal women, but that’s where I will feel very comfortable.

Losing this much weight takes time and endurance.  I recently injured my foot (plantar fasciitis).  The doctor said I have to stop walking/running for exercise and have to stay off the treadmill.  That is extremely disappointing as I’ve been enjoying the  gym TEAM weight loss program.    Alas, I can swim and lift weights, and possibly  ride a stationary bike, so I will continue to exercise.

So, onto my next goal: the next 50.   That would be 200 pounds.  Sheesh.  It all seems so daunting, but, hey like my last post said, “I’m doing this.”

Have a great day!

Lawdy, Lawdy, I’m Doing This!

Getting your mind and body disciplined to lose weight is a lot like learning to ride a bike, I think.  At first you’re wobbly, insecure, easily thinking, “I can’t do this!”  But, with a lot of encouragement and the will to keep going, you start riding on your own!  That feeling of, “I’m doing it!  I’m riding a bike by myself!”  is pure elation.  Even if you need training wheels to get started, that liberating feeling when you’re cruising down the street on your own is pure joy.

So, I am starting to ride free of training wheels.  My mind is locked onto getting to my goal weight, and my body is responding to the physical training I’ve put myself through.  I signed up for a TEAM weight loss program at my gym and am really enjoying it.  OH, it’s not easy, but that’s part of the fun. I actually jogged yesterday on the treadmill and was not out of breath or had any chest pains.  Like a miracle, really.

Another good analogy:  exercise is like marital sex (for women, I guess).  You kinda don’t want to do it (nag, nag, nag), but when you’re done, you say to yourself, “Jeez, why don’t I every want to do this???”  No more explanation needed. 🙂

In the spirit of massively greater transparency this year in 2012, I’m going to start posting my weight so anyone who’s interested can track with me.  I started at 300 (count ’em!!) pounds.  I have had some rocky loop-de-loops, but am progressively moving toward my goal weight which is around 160.  So, even though I’ve lost a lot by most people’s standards, I still have a long way to go.  Stay with me!

I invested in a Withings scale.  Highly recommended.  Already finding some interesting data points. For instance, I weighed more after I came back from the gym, but my total fat percentage was lower.  Cool!

Here’s where we are today:

French Women Don’t Get Fat (or Ugly)

Ah, Paris.  I love you so much more than you love me.   All the women in Paris look like this young woman.   They exude fashion sense and good taste.  Walking around in Paris is a veritable moveable feast in style and sophistication.  Except, of course, in the heavily trafficked tourist areas where the out-of-towners blight the landscape.

I say this with no apologies.  I felt extremely uncomfortable in Paris as an overweight, under-dressed American.  But, in that reality, I was able to appreciate Paris all the more.  Sort of the old yarn, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club who’d have me as a member.”

Don’t misunderstand, this frank acknowledgement doesn’t mean I have low self-esteem or feel badly about myself.  It’s more of a recognition that looks are a form of Art.  I had forgotten this until I visited Paris.  It gave me a new perspective on beauty.   I tell my daughters (who are incredibly beautiful) not to define themselves by their looks.  I believe this wholeheartedly, but there is a virtue in complementing your beautiful surroundings with your own beauty.  Not sure I’m conveying this correctly, but it was a great learning experience and one I will remember for a very long time.

Now, onto weight loss issues.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to avoid sugar and carbs in France.  I did really well for the first few days, but eventually broke down.  I even had pommes frites and pasta at one point.  I was really worried that when I returned to the US, that I would have gained ten pounds or so.  Much to my delight, however, I actually lost a HALF POUND!  I know why, too.  We WALKED the entire city, every day.   I wish I had my Fitbit in Paris, because – guaranteed – I was walking over 10K every day.  The best surprise for me was that I was able to walk these long distances without the usual resting, etc.  My feet hurt, but I was not out of breath or exhausted, etc.  I had no problem taking the long flights of stairs or going up hills.  It’s a testament to the work I’ve been doing.

After a wonderful trip, and a good few days catch-up and back to my new normal eating, I am very proud to report I have lost 40 pounds.  I feel great, and am looking forward to continuing with my 50% off campaign. Someday, when I can wear the clothes I’m collecting on Pinterest, I will return to Paris.  And slip in quietly unnoticed, which will indeed be a beautiful thing.

The Magic of Believing

I read this book, The Magic of Believing, when I was an adolescent.  This book, combined with a very strong faith, enabled me to pursue many paths and dreams with conviction and courage.  I very much believed in the power of the imagination to deliver on goals.

I started creating posters of my future.  With a little glue, scissors, magazine clippings, and poster board, I would assemble a collage that reinforced what I was working toward.   These posters were amazingly effective.  Even after I graduated college, I still enjoyed making them and displaying them.  I took a lot of satisfaction in achieving the dreams that I outlined on these posters.

I found an old one recently and realized I had achieved everything I set out to do.

To that end, I created a new one for my 50% off campaign.  I can probably even afford a frame now, so I’m looking forward to hanging this one and allowing the images and promise to seep into my sub-conscience.

Pinteresting Goal-Setting

As you know, I’ve decided to approach this mammoth weight loss effort as a project, or better, a campaign. I call it my “50% Off” campaign.   It’s a great way to keep focused on the goal, but have some fun along the way by treating it as a series of milestones and achievements.

Accordingly, I created a 50% off board on Pinterest. I’m posting clothes there that I like in normal sizes.   Although there have been great strides in the fashion world to offer better-designed plus-sized clothes, it’s still a fashion travesty if you’re not a size 0 or 2.

I’ll never be a 0 or 2.   (I think I was born a woman’s size 12.)  Nonetheless, I look so forward to the day I can buy something in a normal size.

Here We Go Loop de Loop!

Only Boomers will recognize loop-de-loop, but I thought it was a fitting headline for this post.  My new friends and colleagues from (the company formerly known as) XPLANE have taught me that anyone can draw. I wanted to demonstrate on paper how these “loop de loops” are the bermuda triangle (circle?) of weight loss.

I’ll be going along just fine with a gradual, steady weight loss… and then BAM!  I gain a pound or even two pounds, for no rational reason.  I’m convinced these upticks are devil-inspired obstacles that throw you into a fiery burning pit of anxiety, self-doubt, shame, and hopelessness.  These anxiety wormholes will snatch you and leave you in despair if you don’t get on top of them.

This is where I’ve been for the past week.  Battling the loop demon.  But, alas, I’m back on track and moving forward.

The best news, however, is I fit into a pair of jeans that were in my closet: TWO (count ’em) sizes smaller.  Fashion milestones matter.  Seriously.  I’ve even started a “50% off” board on Pinterest.  I’m pinning things I would like to wear… some day.  When (notice I didn’t say “if?”) I reach my goal weight, I hope to fit into an old pair of Levi’s.  I remember I used to wear a 29 x 30 in high school.  (Same size as my son today).

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

I’m actually down thirty pounds, but Lose-it! doesn’t have a badge for that.  Not sure what the next one is, but I’m looking forward to it!  It amazes me how much these milestones and personal support from friends matters as I truck along.

I’m still dealing with my pulled groin, or whatever it is.  And the heel thing is not going away.  Today, I tried to swim as I thought that would be less stressful on my muscles.  It still hurt, but I was really out of breath, so I guess I elevated my heart rate.  Of course, I got in the pool and swam down the lane and realized I had my FitBit on when I stood up.  It seems to be working now though, but I thought it was a goner.  We’ll see if it’s reliable.  They may permit a return on it according to their customer support community.

On the weight loss itself, it feels kind of strange.  I no longer have the gignormous stomach that obstructed the view of my feet.  (Where did it go?)  My clothes are all fitting loosely now, with very few exceptions. Like most women who’ve gained and lost, I have clothes in my closet in nearly every size.  I refuse to buy new clothes right now.  What I have done in the past is buy smaller size plus clothes in thrift shops.  I may do that again if my clothes really start not fitting at all.  The other noticeable weight loss is actually in my face.  I think it’s thinning out.  For a woman my age, I have very few wrinkles, so this is a welcome development.  When I reach my 50% off goal, I am definitely going to lie about my age. 🙂

I have been using a number of devices to keep me motivated (apart from the online friends and tools).  One device I’ve used in the past is to make a simple poster of my future state from magazine clippings.  It’s entirely old skool, made with scissors and glue.  It’s kinda fun though.  Lots of photos of horses.  I’ll post it when I have it finished.  It’s not a work of art, just a mental reminder of what I’m working toward.

My health has really improved, as I’ve said before.  I still can’t believe I don’t have acid reflux anymore.  I drink water exclusively, unless I’m drinking tea.  (Oh, there is plenty of drinking Chardonnay on occasion.)  I can’t give up alcohol altogether when I go out.  I still have not had a piece of bread since December 1st.

Tomorrow, I’m signing up for something at the gym called a 90-day challenge.  I hope it’s not just an opportunity or them to upsell me, but I’m going to do it.  There are a variety of programs associated with it that I’ve been curious about.  Yoga, grocery shopping, Zumba, even a 5K at the end, which I should be able to do by May 1.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m feeling great and moving forward (albeit gingerly until my injuries heal).

Oh, best news?  I’m no longer “morbidly obese.”  Now, a pleasant “severely overweight.”  I’ll take it.

Owwww!

Last weekend, I overdid it.  I mentioned that the ATX100 workout was particularly tough.  It turns out I’ve pulled my groin muscle.  (That always sounds dirty.)  After all these years, I didn’t even know I had groin muscles, but there is no dispute now.

I also have another weird development with my foot called, “plantar fasciitis” which, of course, I researched extensively on the web.  Now, it’s important to understand that I am not a hypochondriac.  Nearly the opposite.  I kind of hate the medical establishment and have always felt lucky because I never have health-related issues.

But. alas.  This wrinkle has interrupted the pace of my progression regarding exercise.  I can still walk on the treadmill or anywhere else, but I can’t take on anything more aggressive.  It’s really okay, as I’ve told many of my friends and family, I’m not really in a big rush.  I’ve read enough to realize that 80-90% of long term weight loss is mostly about food.  I’ve become really disciplined about what I will and won’t eat.

To that end, I’ve finished the Gary Taube book.   I realized that most of the advice in the book was synonymous with the Atkins diet.  So, I bought the latest Atkins Diet cook book this weekend.  I’ve already planned a week’s worth of Atkins meals.  Again, no carbs, no sugar.  Pretty easy.

The best news is I had to travel last week to Las Vegas for a company outing.  I was able to find food within the parameters of no carbs, no sugar, but I probably drank more than I should have.  I stayed with white wine, but  I’m not sure that’s the best alcohol choice.  When I weighed myself when I came home, I was at the same weight.  No gain, no loss.  But, that is a win for me.  It would have been very easy to get off track in that circumstance, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Finally, I bought a new scale.  The new scale is weighing me in slightly higher than my other scale, so I’m just going to have to absorb that adjustment and move forward.

And so it goes.

Gluttony and Sloth: A Character Assault not Supported by Evidence.

The charges leveled at the overweight and obese are what has risen to epidemic levels.  The media has not helped with de-humanizing reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and the West’s love affair with Jamie Oliver.  It’s as if demonizing the obese is the one society-sanctioned form of discrimination and outright prejudice.  Especially if you consider that many overweight people are not unhealthy and will never have heart disease, diabetes, strokes, or other “weight-related” illnesses.  People immediately attach a roster of negative personality traits to the obese, and it’s really unfair.

I’m nearly finished with “Why we get Fat” by Gary Taubes.   It basically boils down to some truths that I’ve recognized in my own situation. Chiefly, I really didn’t overeat before I started this weight loss program. The total amount of calories I consumed per day was well within a normal range.  How it is I am obese and someone who eats much more is thin has always baffled me.  Additionally, exercise sometimes makes no difference at all on my weight. For example, the ATX100 had a particularly difficult exercise session yesterday.  My fitbit logged nearly 15K steps and 7 miles. When I got on the scale today, I did not lose any weight at all.  That just adds insult to injury (literally, as I’m sore today.)

I’m nearly down 25lbs, but even though I am exercising every day and have cut out essentially all carbs and sugars, the weight is coming off much more slowly now.  It’s always at this point I start to get discouraged.  The more I read about weight loss and these theories, I just get frustrated.  It seems there are very few universal beliefs on weight loss.  I’m inclined to agree with Taubes, however, as his findings do coincide with my personal experience.

Here is a summary from an Amazon reader of Taubes’ myth-busters from one of his earlier books, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” that serves as the foundation of his latest book.

1. The ‘calories in, calories out’ mantra is a myth

2. ‘A calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ is a myth

3. The ‘just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight’ message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful

4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts

5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet

6. It is a myth that the brain and CNS needs 120 – 130 grams of carbohydrate as fuel in order to function properly, as the body can use fat and protein equally as well, and these fuels are likely the mixture our brains have evolved to prefer.

7. Restricting calories with a low fat/high carb diet just makes you hungrier and more lethargic and slows your metabolic rate. Weight loss is only maintained if the patients stays on a semi-starvation diet forever, which is impossible for most people and also undesirable. Being far more active just makes you far more hungry.

8. It is a myth that reducing calories slightly or increasing activity slightly will lead to weight loss.

9. It is a myth that we evolved through periods of feast and famine to be very good at holding onto fat. Fat gain is due to excessive insulin levels caused by high dietary refined carbohydrate intake. It is a sign of something in the body going wrong, not a healthy adaptation.

10. Fructose is not much better than glucose and the two together may cause more harm than either individually.

11. The idea of a weight ‘set point’ is a myth

12. Insulin is the overall fuel control for mammals. High insulin levels cause the body to store fat and stop the body from using fat as fuel. This means that high carbohydrate foods make you put on more fat, and also leave you still feeling very hungry and unsatisfied.

13. Our bodies have evolved to do best on a diet of plentiful fat and protein (including saturated fat), lots of greens and minimal fruits and starchy vegetables. This diet is the best for health and also for losing weight and stopping weight gain.

14. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.

15. To say that people are overweight due to gluttony and slothfulness is just not correct and it is very unfair. Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are often CAUSED by eating a high carbohydrate diet! This association has wrongly been interpreted as a cause of weight gain, rather than an effect.

16. Hunger caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet (or excessive exercising while on a low calorie diet) is a very strong physiological drive and should not be thought of something mild and psychological that can be overcome with willpower. This is something serious occurring in the body, not the brain!

Thus psychological ‘treatments’ for obesity are inappropriate and cruel. Most people are overweight due to bad medical advice, NOT a lack of willpower, greed, laziness or because they lack ‘moral fibre’

17. People have different insulin secretory responses. Even if insulin secretion is slightly off, weight gain can occur.

18. Eating large amounts of a high sugar and high fat food like popcorn is easy because the body will not use most of the carbohydrate and fat for immediate fuel but will store much of it as fat – leaving you able to eat a lot of it and still be hungry a short time later as well.

19. Eating foods with a large bulk or high in fibre wont fill you up, you need the correct proportion of macronutrients and will stay hungry until you get them.

20. Those advocating the low calorie and high carb diets for health and weight loss are not involved in legitimate science. These approaches are not supported by the evidence.

That’s all for today.  Just a bit grumpy.