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.