Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Along With The Good

Well this is one of those posts I hate to write, but I have to in order to be honest with myself.  This week I have to report a gain, boo.  Not a bad one, and certainly one I will overcome, but still gains have a tendency to get me down.  Last week at our WW meeting, we discussed how the number on the scale can influence us.  I brought up the fact that, as people greet each other at the meetings, I notice everyone responds with their weigh-in results.

"Hey, how are you doing this morning?"
"Terrible, I gained half a pound."

"Hi, are you having a great day so far?"
"Yes, I lost two pounds this week!"

No one ever just says, yeah it's beautiful weather outside and it's the weekend so I'm feeling fantastic!  The lady beside me said that in the past, if she came in and had a gain, she was so disheartened she wouldn't stay for the meetings, she would slink back home.  But she said she realized, those are the most important days to stay for the meetings, and she was not going to let the scale chase her away again. I admit, I've done that before.  Because I also track my weight at home, I know before I even get to the meeting if I've gained or not.  In the past, I would find an excuse not to go to the meeting, because I didn't want to see that weigh-in with the plus sign on it.  Silly, right? Just because I skipped the meeting, doesn't mean I did not have that gain!!

So this will probably be one of those weeks.  Monday morning while I was cleaning up some things in the closet, I leaned over too far to pick up something, and pulled my back.  I have been in agonizing pain ever since, and so stiff and tight I can hardly move.  I've done everything in my power to get through this- Motrin and muscle relaxers, pain patches, heating pad, stretching.  I forced myself to get on the treadmill both Monday and Tuesday, but I could only go at a snail's pace.  Monday I barely got through one mile, and yesterday a little more.  But I was walking so slow, I'm not sure it even registered on my ActiveLink. Needless to say, today I'm showing a three pound gain this week.  I truly haven't eaten very much- intense pain sort of dulls my appetite- so I know it's because I haven't been able to get in my four miles each day.

I've got to get better soon.  In a few minutes I'm going to head to the treadmill, and at this point just leaning over to get my socks and sneakers on is the biggest hurdle.  More than that, I'm trying to get us ready to leave on Friday for our New Orleans trip.  I have lots of chores around the house that I'm behind on because I can't even bend over to pick up one of the cats, much less push a vacuum cleaner.  And tomorrow I have errands in town that I can't put off any longer.  If I wake up on Thursday feeling like this again, I'm not sure what I will do.  My WW meetings are at 8am on Fridays, so as slow as I'm moving, this might be one of those weeks where I have to find my backbone and face the scale anyhow, knowing that it may be a gain.  Or I may just have to cut myself some slack and say, my body just needs to rest this week in order to heal, so don't have a guilt trip if I stay at home on Friday and miss a meeting.

This week I finished my 12-week challenge on my ActiveLink, and the very next day I started a new one.  I had several options to choose from, and I picked the same challenge again, where the ActiveLink will spend the next three months slowly increasing my activity level.  The first challenge, I started off earning 5 points a day and by the time the 12 weeks was up, I was at 7 points a day.  This new challenge will gradually take me from 7 to 9 points by the time it's over.  That will be right around the start of the holiday festivities, so I should be able to sail right through November and December.  That's the plan anyhow!

Here are some of my stats for the first 12-week challenge:

Activity PointPlus® values

Total so far: 499-
This is about the same as walking 3 and a half times the distance from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

Days in the zones
  • 6+    41 Days
  • 4-6   30 Days
  • 2-4   18 Days
  • 0-2   4 Days
  • 3 Days   Base Line
Average goal achievement per day 95%
Highest goal achievement 153% July 22, 2013

Activity increase 30%

Pretty cool!  Can't wait to see the stats for my new challenge!


(It's calling my name, I'd better go and answer...)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Made It!

Above is my Pandora bracelet, one I started several years ago.  But I haven't worn it in a very long time, and that's been a self-imposed decision.

The story of my bracelet was to recognize and celebrate my weight loss.  I started the bracelet back when I was 245.  For every five pounds I lost, I got a new charm.  Yes, it's a pricey reward, but dammit I'm worth it!  And I'd always wanted a Pandora bracelet, so it just seemed like a winner-winner all around.  Whenever I was getting close to another five pounds gone, I would go ahead and order my charm- I have a small bulletin board in my closet and I would tack the charm, still in its little wrapper, on the board where I would see it every day.  Just a reminder to work a little harder to reach the next goal.  I wouldn't allow myself to put the new charm on the bracelet until I actually lost the weight.  And the opposite was true- if I gained a few pounds back, I took off the most recent charm from the bracelet until I could "earn" it back.

When I was down to 215 a few years ago, I went ahead and ordered the next two charms- for 210 and 200.  But both hung there sadly on my board, for a very long time.  And one by one, the charms were getting removed from my bracelet until I only had three left on it.  At that time I put the bracelet away- back up in the 230's, what was the point?  I wanted to wear my bracelet, but I wouldn't allow myself the luxury.  I had lost those privileges- the bracelet was to proudly show off the lost pounds, and the weight loss it symbolized was no more.  I put all the beads back on there, and added the two newest ones.  To wear this bracelet again, would signify me attaining my biggest goal- getting down to 200 pounds.  I hid it away in my jewelry cabinet, and I would not put it back on under any circumstances other than hitting 200.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know my greatest goal for right now has been to get down below 200.  I managed to get right to 200 in 2009 when we first moved here, but I kept that off for a few seconds at the most.  (That would be when the photo that's at the top of my blog was taken.)  It's been since 2005, before I got married, that my weight started with a ONE.  So to get below 200 has been the goal I've been pushing at for so long now.  I actually hit the goal last week at 199, but I didn't want to get too excited and post about it.  I wanted to make certain it wasn't just a fluke for one day.  I am delighted to say that it seems like that goal is going to stick!  This morning I was 197.6 and I finally feel as though I might actually make it all the way to the finish line this time.

I still credit Weight Watchers, and even though I haven't been tracking points this time, I've been sticking to the Core plan instead- lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains.  And of course always the ActiveLink and its challenge, pushing me along to up my exercise and activity level every day.  At this point I am still having to do at least 4 miles a day to make my goal.  Lots of water too, I can't remember the last time I bought even a diet soda at the grocery store.  Lunch for me has lately been a fruit, veggie, and cheese plate.  Snacks are always fresh pineapple or watermelon.  I have completely lost the taste for fatty processed foods, so I actually enjoy the fruit and look forward to it.  This past weekend, I was craving a milkshake so I got one, and it made me sick and made me think, well I don't want another one of those again.

And above all else, I credit my super supportive hubby, because he continues to work hard outside the home so I can be here to work hard on my health.  Without that support, I know I couldn't take on this journey.  I am pretty sure he doesn't read my blog anymore- he doesn't need to because he's living it!!- so I can say all of this about him without worries of making him blush.  But if it weren't for having him in my life, I wouldn't care enough about anything to want to do this.  245, 200?  Just numbers, what would it matter?  But it does matter to me, because I matter to him.

The new bead below, is the one I just ordered today, and it will go on my bracelet as soon as I get down to 195.  It takes about two weeks for the bead to come in the mail, and I just might reach my goal well before I even receive it.  But I have a long wish list saved online, so I've already got the bead for 190 picked out and can order it with one click.

Carrying on.......!


Thursday, August 8, 2013

ActiveLink Update

No weight loss this week, but no gain either.  Maintenance is a beautiful thing folks, don't knock it.  Even if I maintain for the next few weeks, I won't complain.  To reverse the old saying- No Gain Is NO Pain!

Even though Weight Watchers frowns on members weighing at home, I still weigh every day, and keep up the calendar I started back here.  It's really been very instrumental for me.  I don't obsess over the number, so I'm not worried that weighing every day will make me go crazy or do something silly.  I know that if I skipped exercising and had pizza for dinner or I walked a few miles and had roasted veggies, I will probably see it the next day on the scale.  It goes up and down a little every day, and I am not freaking out about the ups because eventually the "ups" are lower and lower numbers.  That equals success to me.  And yes, I'm still staying focused on that big goal of 199 and hoping to reach it by the end of this month.

I still credit my ActiveLink as well.  I am on Week Ten of the twelve week challenge, where the device raises my activity level little by little.  Right now, I pretty much have to do at least 3.5 miles on the treadmill every day to even get to 50%, and the other 50% will come from my everyday duties in life- vacuuming, yard work, laundry, grocery shopping, going up and down two flights of stairs repeatedly.  By the end of the challenge I suspect I will have to commit to 4 miles a day on the treadmill to get to my 100% every day.  Some days I don't quite make it- yesterday I was down in my back and only had 83% and only 1.5 miles on the treadmill.  But I did what I could, and no one is keeping track of the ActiveLink but me so there will be no finger-wagging.

I do have plenty of other food-related challenges coming up.  We are making plans to spend three full days in New Orleans for the long Labor Day weekend.  Last time we were there, we walked everywhere we went, so I don't think exercise will be a problem.  But boy, there are some really great eats in the Crescent City, and I don't think anyone loves fried seafood as much as I do.  However, I can't eat that way for three meals a day the entire trip, and I won't.  I will have to make sensible choices concerning portions and cooking methods (grilled fish anyone?), just like I did on our Canada vacation. We're going to pack in lots of walking with planned visits to the aquarium, the zoo, the flea market, and of course, up and down the beautiful streets of the Vieux Carre.

We also just booked our annual cruise, this year pushing it back to mid-November.  We've been on enough cruises now that we feel pretty savvy as far as onboard eating is concerned.  We long ago learned that the buffet is nothing but quantity, and very little quality.  We turned our backs on the midnight buffets a few cruises ago, and not much would convince us to return. Instead we go to the dining room for dinners- yes you have to get dressed up, but (A) it's fun to get all spruced up with your significant other and be served by charming gentlemen in uniform and (B) the portions are on the smallish side plus the options are SO much healthier.  For breakfast, on our last cruise we adopted our normal hotel rule- James goes to the buffet, returning to the room and bringing me one small plate (normally a bagel with cream cheese, or a muffin) and that's all I eat.  There is no reason whatsoever to stuff myself at breakfast and start off the day in a carb-coma.

So even with these two vacations planned, (and let's not forget the holidays that will be here before you know it), I am setting my end of the year goal for 2013 at 180.  I'm not sure I can do it, that's a little over 20 pounds in five months.  But I've lost over 20 since April, so I have to believe in myself, and believe that I can stay on the course and get there.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Staying On Program Is A Full Time Job!

(In Windsor Ontario, on the Detroit River.)

This morning in our Weight Watchers meeting we talked about slip-ups, and how we respond to them.  Do we "act" or "react"?  Everyone in the room raised their hands when our leader Marci asked if we had ever slipped up while on Weight Watchers.  I would find it hard to believe if anyone has not.  I know I have, many times.  And in the past, I would allow my slip-ups to multiple into landslides, until I was in such a bad place mentally that I would simply abandon WW and the whole weight loss process.  I would give up.  I would let one or two instances completely derail me and I would throw in the towel.  But not anymore.  That was reacting, and in a horrible way.  This time, I am all about action and moving forward, no matter what.

One of the ladies in the meeting admitted that on weekends, she just continues with her bad habits and choices, and then works extra hard during the week to lose before Friday morning.  Then her cycle started all over again as soon as weigh-in was "over".  Another lady said that on her weigh-in day, she thought of that as a "freebie" day and ate whatever she wanted the rest of that day.  Lots of folks nodded, including me.  But that was how I used to behave.  It was always about meeting and beating the number at the scale every week, and like those ladies I manipulated my diet and exercise on certain days, depending on how closely the day was to weigh-in (or how close it was to being the day after).  I basically stayed on the program part time.

Sure, this morning after my meeting I would have loved to stop at McDonald's for a breakfast combo and large Coke.  In the old days, I would have, I would tell myself okay I lost a pound at weigh-in so I can eat this and I have all week before I weigh again.  But I didn't even consider making that choice, and I came home and had my whole wheat toast, and I don't feel unhappy or cheated one bit for doing that.  

It used to be that one fast food breakfast on a Friday morning would turn into a weekend of nonstop noshing, with me telling myself I had "time" to get back on track by Monday.  But as the lady at the meeting said, by doing that, she just had to work harder during the week to lose what she gained over the weekend.  I would do that, I would lose a pound at my weigh-in on Friday, then gain 2-3 pounds over the weekend, which meant come Monday I would act crazy trying to lose 5 pounds just so I could continue to see small losses at the meetings.  Sounds stupid when you put it that way, doesn't it?

So now, come Fridays after my meetings, come the weekend, my diet and exercise plans do not change.  The day of the week should have nothing to do with me getting on the treadmill or eating a big salad for dinner.  And so far it's worked.  This week, coming back from vacation, I had a two pound loss.  After vacation.  In the past it would have taken an extra month to lose what I would have gained on a week long trip.  In the past I would have said, it's vacation, I can "take a break" from my weight loss efforts.  But I did not do that on this trip, and I'm proud and excited that it paid off.  I am proud that I can say, I LOST weight while on vacation!  Yes, James and I ate out three meals a day in restaurants (no fast food), and we had snacks too.  But first and foremost, I continued to exercise on this trip, and if we didn't get in enough walking during our sightseeing excursions, then in the evenings I put my sneakers back on and headed out for another walk along the river.

I made very deliberate choices about my meals on this vacation, especially at breakfast.  Not once did I order any kind of combo or platter.  I always ordered from the "sides" menu.  Normally I just had toast in the morning.  At lunch, if the sandwiches were monster portions, I just ate half, and again I didn't order combos- no fries or chips.  At one lunch, James and I even shared an entree and I still didn't finish my half.  At dinner, I also watched my portions.  I would only eat half, or eat a large salad, and one night I even ordered an appetizer as my entree.  I did not feel deprived for one single moment at any restaurant.  In fact, one of the best dinners I had on the entire trip was a big salad at a Max & Erma's, and we ate many great meals.

I let James snap a photo of me (above) on the trip, and normally I don't like to have my picture taken because of my weight.  But this photo really made me notice how baggy my clothes are on me now.  Even with the 25 pound weight loss, I'm still wearing the same size, and I am starting to realize that by wearing overly large clothes, it's actually making me look heavier than I am right now.  It's a good feeling to have, instead of tugging at shirts that are too snug and clinging to every lump and bump.  I'm not quite ready to get out of the plus size section at the stores, but I know if I keep this up, I will be strolling out of there very soon.  

I did not give up my substantial income to stay at home and half-ass this.  If I don't lose the weight this time, I know I never ever will.  I will be 50 in a little over three years.  I spent most of my 20's, all of my 30's and my 40's very overweight and tired and frumpy.

It has to be NOW!!!  Yeah!!


Monday, July 15, 2013

My Milestone

I wanted to blog with a short post today because I reached a milestone, and for me it's a very important one.  Now that my health has become the most serious reason for me to lose weight, my recent three day stint in the hospital is always at the forefront of my mind these days.  That and all the many follow up doctors appointments since then- still one more this Friday in fact for yet another round of blood work.

So I have to share my weight from today.  I am down to 205.6- in fact I've been at 205.6 since Friday which is a miracle in itself.  I say that because I almost always gain 1-2 pounds over the weekends.  But this weekend, even though we went out to eat at one of my favorite restaurants, I restrained myself and ordered a small side salad and a cup of soup.  Funny thing is, they got my order wrong and brought a large bowl of soup instead, but I made myself stop eating it well before I hit the bottom.  Come to think of it, I didn't even finish my side salad either.  So I am proud that I was able to forgo my normal menu choices, and guess what?  I had a nice lunch anyhow, because I was with my husband and we were talking and enjoying ourselves. What I had on the plate in front of me, didn't influence my good mood at all.

So 205.6 is a milestone for two reasons.  First of all, I haven't had a weight that low since fall of 2009- which is the last time I wasn't working and I was faithfully going to my Weight Watchers meetings every week- just like I am now.  Secondly, it's a 20 pound loss since I came home from the hospital in April.  I know this because I weighed that first day, and took a photo, to remind myself I was not ever going to weigh that much again (below).  If this isn't reason enough to carry on with the Weight Watchers program, and to keep exercising and eating right, I don't know what else it would take to keep me motivated! Here's to the next 20 pounds gone......


(APRIL 2013)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Keep On Moving!

Wow, down to 207 now.  A loss of 1.8 pounds since the last check-in.  Tomorrow I have my weekly Weight Watchers meeting, which I skipped last week due to the laziness of the July 4th holiday.  We ate healthy for the holiday, just the two of us at home.  Everything came off our new smoker- nothing was fried, nothing had mayo, no desserts, no soda.  Just lean meat and veggies.  Our "side" was a nice loaf of ciabatta from the bakery, but instead of butter we roasted garlic and spread on it.  It was absolutely delicious, and we were both very happy.  Neither of us felt deprived one bit.

But the continued weight loss has been assisted greatly by my ActiveLink.  It was totally money well spent.  I am so happy I decided to get it, and it has been such a useful tool.  Not so much for calculating my Activity Points for Weight Watchers, because I don't even look at that or use it for that.  But just as a motivational tool, to keep me moving more.  The graphs and weekly reports are helpful by giving me a daily goal to meet and insightful by breaking down my activity by the hour (above), by the day (below), and by the week.

I am currently in week five of the 12-week challenge (below).  You can see the line on the graph, showing a subtle increase for my weekly goals throughout the whole challenge.  Every week it will be a little harder- it will take more and more exercise and activity to reach the 100% mark.  My week starts on Tuesday, because originally that was my Weight Watchers meeting day (I've since switched to Fridays).  Last week it looks like I was a bit slack, but other than that, I see every week where my activity has increased.  I think this has really been key for my losing weight this time.

Because the Link is right there, hanging around my neck from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed, it's very hard to ignore.  And that helps keep me motivated too, because I can check on my progress at any time, I don't have to be near the computer (there are green light indicators on the Link that measure my activity progress in 25% increments).  So in the afternoon I can see, wow, I'm not even at 75%, I better get back on the treadmill.  Even my husband gets involved, and he'll ask me what level I'm at for the day.  If it's after dinner and I'm not at 100% yet, he'll suggest we go outside for yard work, or sometimes a quick walk in the neighborhood.  And yes, he is losing weight too, and looks great!

The ActiveLink is just one tool I've been using, to keep me focused and keep me motivated.  We're also changing our eating habits at home too, a little more every day.  This time of year, we've brought in a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.  It makes me happy to see James reach for an apple as a snack, and I feel good about myself when I take a midday break for slices of fresh pineapple or watermelon.  Back in the old days at the office, a midday snack would have been chips or crackers.

I feel as though we are both making the right choices these days, and I know my behavior and decisions- what foods to buy and cook, not sitting in front of the TV at night- are also influencing my husband's health as well.  So that's a double bonus!  He doesn't even have to join Weight Watchers and he's getting the benefits.  He has punched new holes in his belts to get them tighter, but his pants are still about to fall off him lately.

We do leave for vacation in 10 days, and we've already discussed eating less and lighter, not only for our diet but to save money too.  We all know that most restaurant portions for "one" are actually closer to 3-4 servings.  And the hotel we're staying at is a block away from a five-mile walking trail along a river, so I am definitely packing my good sneakers and I will have my ActiveLink securely around my neck the entire trip.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Only Special Burgers

I know I just posted yesterday, but I wanted to get on here again today.  Last night was not a great night as far as eating goes, and while it's on my mind, I wanted to blog about it.  James got off work early because we had a before-they-close-at-5pm errand to take care of together.  We were 20 minutes from home, and instead of heading back we said, where can we go for dinner out? The place we chose has fantastic hamburgers, and we don't go there often even though it's technically in "town", it's just on the other side of where we live. So I allowed myself to eat way way way too much.  James put me to shame, ordering a healthy turkey burger and for a side, a salad, and Diet Coke.  I had a giant greasy burger with all the sloppy fixings and a big side of mac & cheese.

By the time we got home, I was almost in a food coma.  You know, that state of being where you can't do much more than fall on the couch and groan because you ate so damn much.  I said, it wasn't worth it.  It was a normal dinner out on a weeknight simply because we were hungry and didn't want to wait on whatever I could whip up in our own kitchen later on.  I could have easily had a soup and salad and water at this restaurant.  James and I have this saying about "ordering off the left side of the menu", and I should have done that last night.  I should save the calories and gut-stuffing for those extra super special occasions that only come up once a month or so.

I am not going to have a rigid all or nothing mindset this time, I am not going to expect every single bite that goes into my mouth to be low calorie, low fat, low carb.  That is a trap I've gotten tangled up in before and it is a motivation killer.  Not even Weight Watchers tells me I can't have a hamburger every now and then- that's what all those weekly extra points are for.  But, to blow those points on a regular restaurant meal, is not what I want to do anymore.  There is something about going out to eat, that just sends me into a frenzied spiral of the "gotta haves" that I can't control.  We go out to eat often enough that I shouldn't feel that way.  Whatever demon that grabs me up as soon as I sit down in a booth, well, I've got to learn to shake him loose out in the front lobby.

I know there are special "places" that warrant a break from the normal healthy routine.  If we head downtown to the square on a Friday night and go to Fabiano's, I am going to have a few slices of the sausage and mushroom pizza and not worry about points or calories.  And if we drive all the way up to Atlanta to go to The Vortex (below), I am definitely getting one of their huge burgers with plenty of blue cheese spread.  These are places that we go to so infrequently, and are planned destinations, and I know before we even get in the car I am going to bust my diet.  And I'm okay with it, and I tell myself it's worth it for this one meal because we probably won't be back there again for another six months or so.

But the next time we are out and about in town and want to go out to eat just because it's lunchtime on a Saturday, I am not going to treat it like it's the very last time and my very last meal at a restaurant.  Why can't I be happy with a bowl of soup and the pleasure of my husband's company across the table from me?  By instead ordering the most calorie-laden item on the menu every single time, I'm only hurting myself.  And it's really not worth it.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Calm Waters

No loss this week, but no gain either, and I am okay with that.  I told myself before I started back on this journey, that I wasn't going to beat myself up for imperfections.  Or at least what the old me would have perceived as imperfections.  Maintenance is okay, it means I am still on the right path and doing the right things.  In the past I would have been upset to not "lose" at least something every single week.

I posted the picture above that I found online, of our vacation destination in July.  Pretty isn't it?  I know I set a goal of being at 200 for vacation, but that's 8 pounds and now 3 1/2 weeks away.  I am not the type to do fad diets or fasting or starvation, whatever you want to call it.  I try to eat right most of the time, and I try to move more.  It's a simple formula, and there are no blaring headlines about dropping two sizes in two days, or losing 20 pounds in two weeks.  And once the weight loss is over- once I reach my ultimate goal of 140 one day- then the rest of my life will be about maintenance anyhow.  So, not losing or gaining anything this week, is acceptable.

This is the first week where I've realized that my cravings for junk food are diminishing to the point where I've actually noticed it.  Now that fruits are considered zero point foods on Weight Watchers, I've been trying to eat a lot more of them.  Like most people who struggle with their weight, I would certainly rather have an Oreo Blizzard or a bag of Cheetos, instead of a piece of watermelon or bunch of grapes.  But I would also like to wear a size 12 instead of an 18.  For me, the two don't go together.

As for my triglyceride number, I have been racking my brain to try and figure out how I can go from years of normal numbers, to something so high my doctor told me I crashed their computer program.  Yet, all my other numbers were fine, even my blood sugar.  Something in my diet had to have changed drastically, so it has to be something new and something I do a lot of.  A day after my test results, I came across an article about agave nectar, then started doing research online about it.  It seems that agave, although it's touted as an alternative to white sugar, is almost all fructose (sugar is glucose).  I found multiple articles stating that fructose was harder for the liver to process and therefore was known to raise cholesterol and triglycerides (but does not raise blood sugar). And of course, it was my liver that just put me in the hospital in April too.

One article said only a small amount occasionally was okay.  About two years ago, I switched over to agave nectar for my coffee.  So I am using a couple of spoonfuls every single day!  I printed out all the findings, and when I go back to see my doctor after my next round of labs in mid-July, I'm going to show it to her.  This is really the only thing I can think of, that I have added to my diet recently in a large quantity, and every day.  Other than that, everything else I eat or drink is pretty much the same.  So hopefully by retiring the brand new bottle I just bought, to the shelf in the pantry, I will see my numbers go down.  And of course, this is all a guess anyhow.  My doctor told me to stop using creamer in my coffee and stop eating yogurt, but I've been doing both of those for decades now and they never caused high numbers, so I doubt that suddenly creamer and yogurt caused my triglycerides to shoot up from the 90's to the 600's.  Hhhmmm.

So the agave is gone from my diet and I continue to take the fish oil.  I will keep on moving, whether on the treadmill or walks in the neighborhood or simply just my normal chores around the house and yard.  So far it all seems to be working, and I'm down 17 pounds since getting out of the hospital in April.  Nothing drastic enough to be on the cover of a magazine, but 100% the right direction for me.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Startling News

Down to 208 this week, and overjoyed with it!  Especially in light of the news I just received at the doctor yesterday.

Last week I had lab work done for the first time since 2010.  I expected to perhaps see some numbers that were high, but I was shocked yesterday with what my doctor showed me on my results.  My blood pressure, which has been my main concern for the last few weeks, was completely normal so she was pleased with that and wants me to continue with the medication she put me on.  She was also very very happy with the weight I've lost over the last few months as well, and encouraged me to continue on with Weight Watchers.

My blood sugar was normal, and my white blood cell count- which has been abnormally high for many years now- was in the normal range for the first time in a decade.  Her guess is that the issue that landed me in the hospital in April, was the reason for the high counts all these years, and now that I've passed that really old infectious gallstone lodged in my liver, my counts are now normal again.  All of my other numbers were fine as well.  So all of that was great news.

Then she got to my cholesterol.  I thought perhaps it might be borderline.  My last few checkups, my triglycerides have been in the 90's.  In 2010 it was up to 119.  150 is considered the high range of normal.  Anything over 500 is super high.  My triglycerides were 646! She was shocked, I was speechless.  I'm not sure she'd ever seen anything that high before.  They couldn't even calculate my HDL/LDL because the program they use, wouldn't accept the 646 and caused an error on the computer.  I promised her yes, I fasted before my blood was taken, for well over 12 hours.  She said none of my medications would cause this number.  She checked for other issues, especially in my pancreas, but didn't see anything that would cause such a gigantic leap.

She sent me home with a prescription strength fish oil- she said it's much more pure than anything I could buy at the health food store. She wants me to eat fresh fish for dinner at least 2-3 times a week, and we've actually started eating it once a week already and have both been enjoying it.  She wants me to overhaul all my dairy- it all needs to be fat free, even my snacks like yogurt.  She even wants me to totally makeover my morning cup of coffee, with less sugar and fat free creamer.  And of course, she said I need to up my exercise frequency, which I already knew I needed to do just for my weight loss efforts.

She is giving me a chance to lower the number on my own, although at that extreme level I'm not sure anything I can do will make enough of a difference.  I go back to have more labs in a few weeks, coincidentally enough the day before we leave for our July vacation.  So hopefully my current efforts to get down to 199 before vacation, will also show up in my next round of blood work.  If not, I know she will put me on prescriptions for my cholesterol, and frankly I've heard nothing but bad things from people taking them as far as side effects go.  I'm going to do some research online about ways I can lower it with diet or perhaps natural remedies.  I think if I can show any decrease by next month, she may allow me to continue to try and lower it on my own.

My doctor did tell me that for now, I need to postpone the surgery on my wrist.  I was going to call my orthopedic surgeon today to schedule it, but she said even for a minor surgery, my cholesterol is too high and presents too great of a risk.  So that's a bummer.

So now I have yet another health goal in mind, to keep me focused on my continuing weight loss journey.  My blood pressure seems to be well under control, my blood sugar has never been high.  So now I'm moving on to my cholesterol numbers.  If I can drop ten more pounds in a month, I am crossing my fingers that it's enough to make a difference, to avoid yet another costly prescription medication.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Baby Steps...Still

One more pound gone this week, and I will take it.  One pound a week doesn't sound like much, but it's progress in the right direction so I am happy with it.  I'm down to 210, so that inches me closer to my first short term goal of 199, which I would like to get to before our vacation in late July.  My goal for this summer is not to have to buy new (bigger) clothes, which is what I go through every year.  Especially for vacation.  And I won't buy any new clothes for our July trip this year.  Even at 210, I'm finding that the clothes I've been wearing lately fit a lot better, and I'm not tugging at them because they are too tight.  Plus, I have plenty of smaller sizes already hanging in my closet, some even with tags still on them.  I have sizes from 3X all the way down to regular XL, so as long as I keep losing weight, I will already have a new wardrobe waiting on me!

I am still wearing my ActiveLink (below, backwards in the mirror).  I am surprised every day at how many activity points I get, even when I'm not "exercising"- which I consider getting on the treadmill or doing a workout DVD.  I am earning 5-6 points a day on my non-treadmill days, just with my normal activity level around the house.  I don't sit for long periods of time and I am not watching TV during the day at all.  I may sit for a little bit at the computer or when I'm making pottery, but even then I'm up and down constantly.  I haven't even been reading lately, not for several weeks now.  I found that once I cracked open a book, I would be there for 2-3 hours before I realized it, and that's not what I want to do all day long.

One trick I've been doing is to leave my coffee or water in the kitchen, no matter where I am at in the house.  It makes me get up every few minutes to get something to drink.  I find that I can't even get through checking my emails, and I've gotten up to walk back and forth to the kitchen a half dozen times.

I haven't been getting on the treadmill every day, and that's something I am still struggling with.  But I like that the monitor lets me know that I am still moving.  Most days I get almost to the 100% mark- usually in the high 80's or low 90's- so there is definitely a lot of room for improvement.  But, looking back on the tracking program that goes along with the ActiveLink, 20-30 minutes on the treadmill doesn't seem to make a huge difference on getting to the 100% spot.  Still, I know that since I've been at home, I am moving a lot more than I did at work.  At work, I never got up from my desk except to go to the bathroom or to lunch.  That was it.  I would sit sometimes for 5-6 hours without taking my hands away from my mouse and keyboard.

So my goals right now are to continue to eat less junk and more whole foods, and to move more.  And to be happy with any progress or loss, no matter how small or how slowly it comes.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Long Winding Roads

Whenever I find a new blog to follow, I like to go back to the beginning and read all the posts. I like to get to know that person, see their struggles and successes.  Yesterday I sat and read all of my posts, since I started this blog in 2009.  Surprisingly, it didn't take very long to get through them all.  I would post for a few months, then drop out of sight for awhile.  I've written about all my excuses, all my set backs, but hardly any successes.  Reading my posts from 2009, I felt as though I could have written them now four years later.

When I started my blog, I was not working after our move here to Georgia.  I was going back to my Weight Watchers meetings and following the plan.  I slowly lost weight, from the 245 pounds I was at the end of 2008, down to 211 by the time I finally went back to work in late 2009.  In the time that I worked, I managed to gain the weight back and get into the 240's again, but for the last two years my scale has stayed around 220-225.  I will give myself a very tiny pat on the back for that maintenance, if you can call it that.

I am back down to 211 now, going back to Weight Watchers again, and in my fifth week of non-employment.  I feel as though it has taken me four years, but I am back to my starting point of the blog again.  So I can only move forward this time.  I voluntarily gave up a very secure job and a very large paycheck, in order to stay at home to focus solely on my health and my weight.  I'm grateful for the opportunity my husband has given me, to tackle these issues without the burden of the stress and long hours of my job.  I have zero excuses, really.

Yes, we still go out of town a lot and we still gallivant on the weekends.  I will always eat at restaurants, I will always have temptations.  Hopefully I will not always keep making the same bad choices.  I even have the WW app on my iPhone now so I can look up the points for any restaurant or fast food- I can't use "not" having my Eating Out book with me as a reason for choosing an unhealthy meal.  If I keep making the wrong decisions, keep making the same old excuses, then this blog is pointless.  No wonder no one is following me.  Who wants to read the same thing day in and day out.  And I don't want to keep writing the same things as I was writing in 2009 either.

I see so many of the old blogs I followed are no longer around, or the last posts were from one or two years ago.  I would say at least half of the blogs I used to read, need to just be deleted off my list.  I want to find new ones to read for inspiration, and they really do give me a glimmer of hope.  Everyone else is struggling with my same issue, and everyone else keeps plugging away at it day by day, hour by hour, just like me.

I can't control every situation in my life.  We have to eat out sometimes, we have to be out of town.  I have to leave my comfort zone.  That's part of life.  The only constant is ME.  Even if the only choice is a fast food place, almost all of them have salads with low-fat dressing- no one is forcing me to order a burger and fries and large Coke.  So why do I keep making that choice over and over again, knowing what the results will be?

When I told James yesterday that I skipped my WW meeting because I had a gain, I could tell he was disappointed.  I said, I don't have to weigh in on Tuesday, I have all week to make it to a meeting.  I'll go another morning.  He said, sometimes you just have to go and face the music.  And that's true.  Pushing my meeting back 1 or 2 days, just to avoid seeing a gain on my WW log, is sort of petty and defeats the purpose of sticking to the program.  It's playing games, and frankly that's not very becoming or genuine.  I know next week my schedule will be off, because I have appointments on both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so I'll have to get to WW when I can.

But I will get there, they have meetings there every day of the week but Sunday, so there is no real reason to miss one as long as I'm in town.  And I will get there this week too.  I weighed at home, I already know I had a small gain, so if I already know it- what good am I doing by dodging the scale at my meeting?  None whatsoever!  I have lots and lots of meetings in my future, and ups and downs at each one of them.  And hopefully, lots more blogging to do here too.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Back On Track

It seems as though a lot of my weight loss focus is always on getting back on the right path.  I know some people can stay dedicated to a program 24/7 and never have to look back.  I have my ups and downs though, and I think realistically most of us do.  But I let my "downs" get to me.  Today I skipped my Weight Watchers meeting because the scale showed a big gain.  Big as in, pretty much everything I have lost since joining, I regained in one week.  It wasn't much of a total loss to begin with, but it was enough that it made me feel a sense of accomplishment and success.  I won't skip my meeting completely, I will go one morning this week.  Just not today.  And I am trying not to beat myself up about it.

Last week when my dad was here and in the hospital for his broken hip, I barely ate all day for the whole week.  So when I weighed in last week, it showed a big loss.  But over the weekend I fell into my self-destructive trap of eating out several times, and not even trying to make healthy choices.  Fried chicken tenders, pasta, Cokes.  Last night, even though I cooked, I did not even bother to measure the amount of food I put on my plate.  And I haven't exercised in about two weeks, since we were in  Alabama.

All of that added up to an ugly number on the scale this morning.  I know it sounds childish, but I really love that Weight Watchers hands out charms and awards for milestones, and I've always used that as one of my motivations to keep on going.  Plus, I have my Pandora bracelet that I bought last year- with a charm for every five pounds lost- and I still have to lose about 15 pounds before I can allow myself to wear it again.  I know, rewards are shallow and not a "reason" to lose weight, but everyone needs that carrot dangling on a stick out in front of them.  Right now I'm too far away from my ultimate weight loss goal to even think about it, but I sure would like to wear my bracelet again.  I can see that right in front of me, and it's a closer goal to attain.

Vacation is looming, only seven weeks away, and once again I have that challenge of being able to fit into my summer clothes and being happy with how I look in our vacation photos.  Will I be healthy enough to do the things we will plan, will I get too tired too quickly?  Can I keep up with my husband, or will I be a party-pooper and want to fall into bed too early?  I want to be able to enjoy our trip without any nagging pains or exhaustion to ruin it for me.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yummy Recipe Share!

Here is the absolutely fabulous side dish we made last night, and ate up every bite.  So easy!  This is a vegan recipe, so I substituted skim milk for the soy milk, and our normal low-fat butter for the Earth Balance.  The texture is smoother than regular mashed potatoes, but the taste was spot on.  I am going to make it next week when my parents are here, so I can have "mashed potatoes" when my mom makes her famous spuds for everyone else.  Recipe can be found at the website below.

You Won't Believe It's Not Mashed Potatoes

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1/8 cup unsweetened soymilk
3 tablespoons vegetarian butter spread (like Earth Balance)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Small bunch fresh chives, finely minced

Place cauliflower in a steamer basket above a pot of boiling water. Cook covered until fork tender, about 12 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly oil a 9-inch baking dish. Transfer cauliflower to a food processor or blender. Add soymilk, vegetarian butter spread, salt and pepper to taste, and puree until smooth. Spoon into baking dish and bake uncovered, for about 8 minutes, until bubbly. Fold in chives and serve hot. 

Makes 3-4 servings.

Back From Bama

Back from our visit with the hubby's family.  We had a few great days with James' parents, and his aunt & uncle, at a campground in Alabama.  And the visit did not undo my weight loss efforts.  It could have, easily.  During the days, the guys were off all day long, doing guy stuff.  I had my days to myself, in our comfortable little cabin near the lake.  But, one thing that helped was my access- or lack of- to food.  I had only what we brought in our cooler, and I brought only what I needed for my meals and a few limited snacks.  No soda, no chips, no munchies.  Snacks were fresh fruit and low fat cheese.  Lots of water.

It was hot while we were there, but every day I got out and walked twice.  Plus, to get to my in-laws' RV, we had to walk back and forth.  Before I even got there, my father-in-law drove the entire loop of the campground, to let me know it was 1.9 miles around, so I could keep track of how much I'd walked.  I used to keep track of my walking by the mileage, but now I do it by the length of time and intensity level, since that is how Weight Watchers figures my activity points.  My morning walks were about 30 minutes, and my afternoon walks, almost 20 minutes.  Other than that, I had a relaxing few days cutting coupons, reading cooking magazines, and watching some interesting shows on a channel called Create (like PBS).  The TV only got about 5 channels, so Create was a great find.  I even downloaded a fantastic recipe for mashed cauliflower from one of the shows- we made it last night and it was unbelievably good!  We ate the entire head of cauliflower!

Dinners were great, and my mother-in-law who is a WW's lifetime member, had alternatives where I could eat with everyone and not fret over my points.  She had vegetarian chili, turkey dogs, and even veggie burgers.  I was able to stay within my points every day easily.  The trip home was another story, and as I always do at restaurants, I made horrible choices.  You would think that a grilled chicken sandwich would be okay, but when it's gigantic on a ciabatta roll with cheese and bacon and mayo- well, you get the picture.  My losses at my last two weigh-ins came after trips out of town and eating in restaurants.  And I can report that I did have losses those two weeks, even if they were scant.  I would rather have a tiny fraction of a loss, than a gain.  So my total loss since going back to WW, is now 3 pounds.

I know I can do better than that, and I know I have to start exercising more.  I still struggle with that part of it.  So I bought the new ActiveLink monitor at the meeting yesterday, and started wearing it today.  It will track all my movements for the next week, and come up with my "average" activity level.  After that, it will continue to track my activity and let me know if I am below average, so that I can get motivated to move more.  It will gradually increase my average for a 12-week challenge, so I will have to move more every day to keep up with the minimum. Almost everyone in class has the monitor, and they swear by it. The lady who joined the same day I did, has lost 8 pounds already, and she praises the monitor as her main reason for it.  I guess it can't hurt, and I might as well use all the tools available if I am going to give WW 100% of my dedication this time around.

I have some more challenges coming up this week and the next, but I know that as long as I offset my diet by increasing my exercise, I should be fine.