Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Charting A New Course

Back from the big vacation finally; rested and now chugging right along at work. Amazing how it is all "still there" for you when you return! But before Monday morning rolled around, I headed to the grocery store to restock my fridge and pantry with the things I will need in order to eat gluten free. I am on day three now, and as far as I know, I am eating no gluten! I say that because I am still reading up on the subject online and the few books that I found on Amazon. I still have questions on some items, if they have gluten in them or not- my coffee creamer at work, that irresistible hunk of Parmesan, mayo for making egg salad? So I may have consumed some gluten unknowingly. But to the best of my ability, I have given up gluten for this experiment. I do not know if this will lead to any weight loss, but so far I have been eating only whole foods like fruits and vegetables, brown rice, lean meat.

I am finding plenty of "okay" snacks and cereal that are made from rice or corn, but I still am reading labels because a lot of flavorings (malt) are actually gluten- even if the word "wheat" does not appear anywhere. So microwave popcorn has been replaced with plain air-popped, and my old high fiber cereals have been set aside for Rice Chex. I am trying to cut out caffeine right now as well, and this week I've only allowed myself one cup of coffee a day, in the mornings. My afternoon cup has been replaced with either hot tea, or decaf coffee (perhaps because by the end of the day in the office, there is plenty of decaf leftover). I wanted to quit wheat, caffeine, and sugar cold turkey, all at one time. But I got so sick on Monday with upset stomach, and a blinding headache so bad that James had to drive me home from work. That was after only TWO days of no caffeine. Better to slowly wean myself from it. I don't keep caffeinated sodas in the house, so once I get away from the office there is no temptation.

Vacation was about having a good time together and relaxing and enjoying the precious week away from the daily grind. I indulged in every food group imaginable- pasta, pizza, burgers, steak, Japanese, Mexican, ice cream, cake, junk food, Coke, Starbucks. All the old favorites. I realized it was going to be next to impossible for me to start a "new" program while on vacation. So I carried my notes and books on a gluten free diet and studied them while we were gone so I would be ready to start right away once we got home.

Although I plan to stick to a whole foods lifestyle no matter what (I am just too doggone old to continue to have Pop-Tarts or a bag of animal crackers for lunch at my desk), it will be trial and error for the gluten. The magazines call it an "elimination diet"- getting rid of one potentially troublesome component of your diet, and seeing if your symptoms improve. Or hopefully, disappear. My main reasons for eliminating gluten are skin-related, but I certainly have many of the other symptoms of gluten sensitivity like body aches and fatigue (well, I mean, who doesn't?) and I am curious to see if giving up wheat will clear up the problems I've had for long years and the new conditions that have cropped up recently. Articles I've read said that many people who gave up wheat saw improvements with their skin within days.

My father-in-law, who is very knowledgeable about good health through diet, provided me with several handouts and a few books to help guide me. He sticks to a very very clean diet and knows more about clean eating than anyone else I've ever met. I just wish he would share his willpower with me! Today I got a whiff of someone's pizza at work and thought I would fall out. It's going to be a very long month or so. I will update soon.


(No, I didn't lose weight, this is just a super big chair at the Ripley's in Gatlinburg.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

That Darn Tootin' Gluten

Okay, so this isn't wheat- just the weeds growing in the empty lot across the street from us, but I didn't have any other photos to go with this story.

After a lot of research and many evenings of feeling like crap and wondering what I can do about it, I have decided to go gluten free for awhile. It seems like many of the issues I'm dealing with right now, are also symptoms of an intolerance to gluten. And since I am a carb queen, it won't hurt for me to see if indeed gluten is the culprit behind my recent physical ailments. I have decided that once we get back from vacation, I will give up gluten. All the way, not just some foods, and not just some days. 100%. That is the only way I will find out if I have a gluten intolerance or not. Yes, I know there is a blood test I can take, but if I stop eating gluten and my symptoms improve then that's all I really need to know to keep me going.

By the time we return from our trip, it will be a few days before April. I am going to spend the entire month of April learning to eat gluten free. We don't have any trips planned or family coming to visit, so it seems like a good time to start this new venture. The reading that I've done says that as many as 3 million Americans are gluten sensitive and don't know it, they just feel crummy all the time and get misdiagnosed with things like IBS or chronic fatigue. And if April goes well, then I will aim for one more month gluten free, and then etc etc etc.

I was very uneducated about what gluten is. I thought I knew enough about it because I read a lot of health magazines. I just assumed that since gluten was in bread and pasta, that it meant gluten was in all carbs. Not so. Things like rice or potatoes or corn do not have gluten in them. Neither does sugar, thank you! But unfortunately almost all processed foods do, and I rely heavily on frozen dinners or pre-marinated meats and fish or bottled sauces to doctor up dishes. No more. It will be strictly whole foods like lean meats and veggies and fruits. No crackers or sodas or spaghetti or salad dressing. Nothing that comes out of a box or a bag or a jar. I know they make gluten free breads and cake mixes and pastas made from funky stuff, but for right now I don't plan to experiment too much with that.

As always, my focus is to lose weight, but it's also to be healthy overall and feel better and have energy and live a life that I can love. Although I won't be blogging while we are on vacation next week, I look forward to coming home and starting on this new phase of taking better care of myself. And recording it here. It may work out, or it may be a big flop where I just can't give up bread, or it may turn out that even if I stick with this it may not cure my ills. I know right about now, my husband is reading this and will say that he supports me in any decisions I make. He is more than willing to eat a whole food diet, sans carbs, and hopefully we will both benefit from this.

But until then, I have nine days on the road of eating to (dread) look forward to and enjoy. Everyone take care until I get back!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Budget For My Belly

Will eating cheap equal eating less food and less calories? I don't know, but we are planning to test that theory very shortly. James and I are counting the days and hours until our vacation commences next weekend, and my husband has been working very hard to plan out our many days on the road. We have all our hotel reservations made (one of them, above), James signed us up for a show one evening, we are going to a zoo, several museums, a birthday party, even a hall of fame. All sorts of fun stuff that you will see over on my other blog eventually.

And as I've blogged about before, one of my biggest challenges in trying to lose weight is eating out. I usually eat as though I will never ever get a chance to enjoy that menu ever again- even if it's a local pizza place. I have trouble treating the experience as quality time spent with the man I love, and instead act like I am auditioning for a spot on the competitive eating circuit. And on vacation, James and I have a tendency to be even more relaxed with our dining out practices. But we are going to try to set rules for this trip.

James and I know we have to eat out all our meals the entire time, but we are going to try to keep a tight food budget this trip. That's something we've never really done before, but we realized the other day that sometimes- okay, a lot of times- we overspend and overeat. Not sure if the two go hand in hand or not. For instance, this past Saturday at the Hard Rock, we both ordered burgers with fries- before the tip it was almost $40. A recent Sunday lunch at Red Lobster ran us almost $50. And while that's okay for an occasional splurge, we don't want to spend $100 a day on food, especially because we will be gone for nine days.

All but one of the hotels we're staying at have complimentary continental breakfasts, so we are going to save money by starting off our days with a free meal. I just have to remind myself that it's unlikely there will be a sudden bagel and cream cheese shortage any time soon- in other words, there is no need for me to indulge in one of my favorite breakfast "treats" every single morning, which is what I always get on vacation. Most hotels offer much healthier alternatives like yogurt, fresh fruits, whole grain toast, skim milk and cereal. There are many other choices for me to make besides doughnuts or danishes.

We are going to try to eat light lunches- no $25 shrimp lover's feast platters or $15 blue cheese burgers with endless onion rings. Yet we don't want to waste our taste buds- and feed our fat cells- by only sticking to the 99 cent menus at the fast food places either. Since this trip will be a little more leisurely than some of our others, I think we will have more time to make wiser choices instead of being starved and saying "Oh thank the stars, I see a Cracker Barrel up ahead!" We do have one very indulgent dinner out planned here, a place I've been wanting to visit for a long time now, but other than that, I see no reason for us to treat the evening meal as a pig out fest.

I plan to bring plenty of bottled water and healthy snacks for the truck, too, because I have a tendency to run amuck in the convenience stores whenever we stop for gas or a bathroom break. I can't remember the last time I walked out of one without anything. Usually a Coke and bag of chips.

This is the first of three big vacations this year, and since right now I am so down about my weight, I want to do everything I can to keep moving in the right direction. I love James, but he knows that he needs to lose weight as much as I do, and I feel as though if we don't work as a team, we will never succeed individually. And there is no better time to depend on a teammate than a long vacation together!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today Is Another Day...

...And tomorrow will be too. And here is the beautiful sunrise this morning to prove it. Taking it one day at a time this week and not doing too badly. I guess my last post upset my dad and my husband. My dad sent me a very heartfelt and encouraging email, and my husband has started me on a month-long assignment to help my self-esteem issues. Sorry, I was whining and feeling sorry for myself. But I was just frustrated with myself and my lack of commitment or willpower or however you want to put it. It seems as though the only thing that is stopping me from losing weight is actually making the effort! I have all the right books and support system and exercise equipment. It is time for me to get my act together.

I am disappointed that I won't reach the goal weight I set for our vacation in two weeks, but on the other hand I'm happy that I found enough blouses and jeans that fit me at my current weight, and I am ready to pack and even more ready to GO. But, I have two more vacations coming up this year, and I am going to have- and keep- a good attitude and believe that I will move closer to goal before our trip to Florida in the summer, and then our cruise in October. James and I have taken five cruises now, and with every one I look back at the photos and instead of enjoying the stunning scenery or reliving the fantastic moments I just say "I'm so fat! I hate these pictures!" I am not going to let that happen this year, and I must must MUST take control of my life and move it in a positive direction.

No more whining, and no more excuses on this blog, I promise.

If anyone reading this has any firsthand information they can share with me about eating a gluten-free diet, I would be interested in hearing about it. I've been doing some research online about a long-time (and very very painful/annoying) skin condition I have, and a lot of stuff cropped up repeatedly about gluten allergies and intolerance. And seeing that I eat such a carb-laden diet, I can see where a gluten issue might concern me. Please, if you have any ideas or stories or info you want to share, I am listening!


Thursday, March 4, 2010


I want to blog every evening, but it seems that at the end of the day I have nothing positive to say, and I get tired of whining, so I just don't want to post anything.

I am having deep self-esteem issues with my weight this go round, even though I'm in my 40's and you would think those days would be a thing of the past. But, with just the little bit of weight I have regained since going back to work- a small number but enough to send me back into a bigger size of clothing- my confidence level has just spiraled downward lately. And of course all of that frustration and self-doubt gives me anxiety over the smallest things anymore, and I get overwhelmed or stressed out, I feel blue or defeated, or the worst of them all- I act pissy. It seems like every negative emotion I have been experiencing lately, I can connect the dots and draw a line straight back to my weight. Whether it's my lack of energy to do housework that leaves me feeling worthless and lazy, or the way I fit in my clothes that makes me feel frumpy and unattractive, or the days when I say I give up I can't do it and I just excuse myself to have a few cookies to take the edge off. And however I am feeling at the moment, I have trouble hiding it from the rest of the world, and lately it's been manifesting itself into negative behavior that is out of character for me. I hate the way I feel anymore, and I don't just mean physically. I hate the way I feel about myself.

James always says, "Why do you get so down on yourself all the time?" and he is right, I do. No one else beats me up about my weight, no one but me. No one else makes me feel bad because of the number on the scale, no one but me. No one else is calling me lazy because I don't feel like emptying the dishwasher, no one but me! I have no other issues in my life to cause me such unhappiness. I have an absolutely phenomenal husband, I have a great job, we both make good money and enjoy it, all of our family is still alive and healthy, we have a beautiful home and many many nice possessions and we travel more than we stay home. There is nothing that I could ever want for that I don't already have, from the love of a wonderful man all the way to my collection of Dooney purses and everything in between! My life is as perfect as I could ever ever want it to be.

But my body- my weight- is an ENORMOUS black cloud hanging over that life, constantly drenching me with cold depressing rain and forever threatening to zap me with a white hot bolt of lightening! And my hate for that extra 60+ pounds I am carrying, just overshadows all the other positive parts of my daily existence. I think about my weight and my size constantly, almost every minute I am awake. From the time I get out of bed in the morning and have to put on clothes for work, all day long at the office whenever I have to walk down the hallways in front of other people, and then in the evenings when it comes time to decide what to have (and how much) for dinner. My weight probably takes up about 90% of my thoughts during the day. That can't be healthy!!!

I have no excuses, and yet I make them all the time. It seems as though since I started this blog, I have only talked about losing weight, and what I "plan" to do or what I "hope" to accomplish. There is very little in the way of results here, or success I can share proudly. Talking about losing weight, wishing I can lose weight, making plans to start losing weight- that phase of my life is pointless anymore. I have talked it to death, I have started umpteen food journals and exercise logs, I have rejoined Weight Watchers at the start of every year since 1994 now. What I want to do and what I've been doing are a galaxy apart. Some days I feel like I need to build a space ship just to get to where I want to be, and I'm no rocket scientist.

I guess what I'm saying is that I know it's hard, and I don't know what the secret is. But I am having a hard time right now just being happy with my life- because of my weight, and I can't seem to live in the moment and I rarely find enjoyment in just being alive and being me. Going back to work was exactly what I wanted and needed, and on certain levels it gave me a boost of confidence, but it didn't last long. It's been less than five months now, and the shininess of a new job has worn off, and I am back to being dull and tired and fat and full of self-pity. At least that's how I feel. I don't think anyone out there looks at me and sees those things, because I still get all dressed up for work and try to look my best and always smile and run around the office energetically trying to get all my work done. People always think of me as friendly, hard-working, smart, funny, pretty, whatever.

I just don't see myself that way these days. All the fat looking back at me in the mirror is blocking my view.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Bouncy Road

Last week ended on a good note, because I was down to 208. And considering at the start of the month I was back up to 219, I accept this graciously as a small sign of progress. That was Friday morning, and then of course as we usually do, we headed off for the weekend. And I ate too much. Travel, a wedding, lots of hours and miles on the road. Those are pitfalls that I have yet learned to avoid. I don't know what it is about being on the road, but it opens up the floodgates for my bad habits like no other situation can. It would be okay if we only went out of town once in awhile. But for James and I, a weekend at home is a rarity.

We have a big vacation coming up very shortly, with many many days on the road and in hotels and eating an estimated 27 meals out! I will blow up like the Snoopy Two if I do not rein in my willpower and engage my brain cells when ordering from a menu. Just look at me in the photo above, standing beside the bride over the weekend. Of course, she is probably a size 0 or 2- that is unless they make negative sizes. I look four times bigger than she does! This photo may hurt my ego, but it is the truth. I will never be a size 2, yet I would be over the moon with delight to be a size 12!!! But I will be back into a 20 real soon if I don't start making wiser decisions.