Sunday, August 26, 2012

Setting a Short-Term Goal

Generally I hesitate to set goals of the "I want to lose this much by this date" variety because, let's face it, our bodies get a vote, and sometimes they vote that they want to lose a lot slower. Or sometimes life gets in the way. A year ago I had hoped that I'd be at goal right now, but I'm still 50+ pounds shy. That's ok though. I took a few months off my diet and started down the wrong path before getting myself straightened out. 

I'm not sure if specific weight loss goals motivate or set us up for disappointment. But regardless, I'm going to give it a shot. Not for the total weight loss, but an intermediary goal. 

You see, in 11 weeks I am taking the trip of a lifetime. Here's a hint:

Zomg. I can't wait! I'll be in India for Diwali and then I'll be traveling around with a friend.  Just ONCE though, I'd like to have some pictures of me at the awesome places, instead of me just taking pictures and not appearing in them. I want to say "here's me at the Taj Mahal!" I want to be proud of my vacation pictures.

When I was visiting friends last week one of them managed to snap a shot of me at a very unflattering angle and posted it on facebook, and I was really upset. I WANT to like pictures of myself. I don't want to live in fear that someone will take and post awful pictures of me. So for this trip especially, I want good pictures.

So here is the goal:

I want to be at 168 when I leave for India. That will still be about 18 pounds overweight, but I look decent at that weight. That's about 23-24 pounds by the time I leave, or around 2 pounds a week. I think it's doable.

How will I do it?

- Upping exercise and intensity. I will work in intervals and try to keep pushing myself. I am also going to start doing more strength training, and adding a session of cardio in the morning to keep my metabolism going all day.

- Eating well. I am going to start lowering the carbs/starches I eat to focus primarily on lean proteins and good high fiber foods like beans.

- Lots and lots of water. 

- More sleep. I don't sleep enough. I can't bring myself to get to bed early but I'm going to start getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

- Walking during my lunch break. I almost never even take a lunch break but I'm going to start walking during it, especially since the weather is getting nicer.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Working my Ass Off (literally)

Hello everyone!

I apologize for my absence of late, but you see I've been rather busy losing a bunch of weight! Yes indeed! Today I weighed in at 191.2 pounds! Here's my 12-week progress on Weight Watchers. You can see the ebbs and flows (of note, I started Weight Watchers at 214, not my highest weight of 229):

Impressive, huh? When I was last here, I was still in the 200s. So, what have I been doing? A lot!

First, I've been extremely active. Swimming a lot - I even swam a 5k a couple times! Walking a lot. Ellipticalling a fair amount. None of it is obsessive - I'm just doing what I enjoy. When I enjoy exercise I'm far more likely to do it. So I prop up my iPad on my elliptical and watch a show. Or go to the pool and let my stress melt away as I do lap after lap.

I've also been eating well. One of the things I started to do was actually eat all of my WW weekly points and even some of my exercise points. I had been pretty bad about that, fearing that eating more would slow my weight loss. But it actually helped.

But - and this is key - I don't spread those calories evenly through the week. I've started a modified calorie cycling, where I have a couple bigger meals during the week, and they seem to help keep my metabolism going. For example, this past wednesday I'd been lingering around 193/194 for a while and I decided to have a big meal of Indian food - absolutely stuffed myself. And my weight moved again in the next couple days. There's a lot of science to back this up - will post more about it in the future.

And finally, I've conquered travel. I've always had a tough time traveling and keeping on plan, because I tend to eat out a lot and not get enough exercise, and sometimes I get in a mentality where I think anything goes. But I've tried to remain on plan while allowing myself a few indulgences; I've also found ways to stay active. I'll post more about my tips to stay on plan while traveling in the next week.

All in all, these changes are helping a lot! I love seeing the scale move, and I'm more motivated than ever to keep it up!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Farewell, Fat Pants!

After I rocked my dress at work yesterday, today I wore my typical work outfit - loose fitting black pants, a pretty top, and a cardigan.

A friend who knows how hard I've been working pulled me aside and told me it's time to ditch the pants, because they're looking ridiculously big (she said I looked like a hobo).'s time. Time to really ditch them. I'm going to toss a few tops as well that are just too big.

This is really happening. I double checked all my measurements I've been tracking - 7 inches gone from my hips, 8 from my waist, 3 from my chest, two from my arms, and 4 from my thighs. That's actual loss!  I can't believe it sometimes.

I'd really, really like to hit 180 by my birthday, August 29. That will be a year since I started on this journey, a year since that disastrous hike was such a wake up call for me. 180 would put me in "overweight" and not "obese" range on the BMI scale. I don't know that I'll make it - my body gets a vote and it's an ornery bastard. But dammit, I'm going to give it my best. That's 6 weeks. Let's see what I can do.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tanita Scale: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Over the last few weeks, I got down to about 198 and then bounced right back to around 204 and stayed there. I suspected it was due to that Time of the Month (I can gain as much as 10 pounds) but I found it particularly infuriating because I was working out soooo damn hard and eating soooo damn well. I've gotten up to swimming TWO miles a day several times a week, in addition to the dog walking and occasional elliptical-ing.  That means I can officially swim more in one session than I can run. Ha!

Anyway, the scale was pissing me off royally, and I started to suspect a conspiracy was at play. I also lost my trust in the scale because it varied so much depending on its floor placement and where I stood (and anyone who's ever been on a diet knows you'll move across the floor until you find the spot that gives you the lowest number). 

So I decided to order a Tanita scale, which measures weight as well as body fat, and is supposed to be very reliable.

I used it right after swimming tonight.  The good news: I weighed 199 on it, instead of my old scale which had me at 203 (booo! Hisssss!).  So we're friends because of that.

BUT the body fat came out at 42%. FORTY TWO PERCENT of me is fat. With that much fat, I'm basically a bratwurst, or a fine piece of cheddar, or a giant cashew. Ickkkk.

I think I'll like this scale though. With all the working out I'm doing it'll be good to see the impact on my fat. I've been losing inches, especially around my waist. I rocked a size 14 J. Crew dress today (their sizes run smallish) and got a bazillion compliments at work. I love my coworkers.

So that's where we are. I'm trucking along, swimming my ass off, eating well, and doing the best I can.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I am back with happy news.

I did go to the middle east and happily stuffed my face full of shwarma and hummus and other delicious things for a few days. When I got back I weighed in at 212 and decided this had to stop.  So immediately cut gluten from my diet, went back to weight watchers eating, and have been exercising a lot. I also have been diligent about taking my thyroid medicine, vitamin D, and I've started taking CLA for supplementation.

The result? This morning I weighed in at 197. That's an amazing weight loss for anyone, let alone me. Although 212 was probably artificially high due to water weight, I was about 207 before the trip so I've lost 10 pounds in less than a month. Whee!

I've also rediscovered my love for swimming. My neighborhood pool has lanes and great hours, and I've been doing at least a mile a day. It's amazing how fast you can adjust. I don't push myself to do it too fast or too much - I just enjoy the relaxing feeling of the water and keep trucking along.

I love swimming. It's the only time I feel truly graceful. It's so relaxing and gentle. Granted, my shoulders hurt like a bitch, but I'm doing really well over all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Other Things I Am Bad About

My doctor was also frustrated with me yesterday for not taking my Vitamin D. It was in the toilet, like it has been for the last year since I started seeing her. I just can't seem to remember to take it. My thyroid meds I'm good at but Vitamins, not so much.

I've been better about drinking water, but I need to kick it up.

And I've been HORRIBLE about getting enough sleep. I did a week of 8 hour nights and that was fabulous, but then I reverted to old habits. There's no excuse for this.  I don't have kids. I have a 40-hour a week job, a dog, and two cats. There are no commitments that should reasonably keep me up so late.

So I need to be better about those three things.  I'm going to try to do exactly everything my doctor wants before my next appointment. I pay a lot to see this specialist - I should probably listen to her.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Naan Before We Say Goodbye

So, I got some good and bad news from my thyroid specialist today.

She thinks I'm at optimal levels in my thyroid treatment. I'm inclined to believe her - I looked at my T3, FT3, T4, and TSH and they all looked great. Truthfully, I feel good too.  A lot of my peskiest thyroid symptoms - brain fog, aches and pains, hands falling asleep when I'm sleeping - have all abated in the last several months.

So that's good. Yay.

There's just one problem:

I've been gaining and losing the same 4 pounds for the last several months. I didn't forget about this blog; I just felt like a huge fucking failure because after I saw the other side of that 200 mark, I never saw it again. I've been bouncing in the 203-207 range, and that's with more food, less food, more exercise, less exercise, etc. Pretty much any adjustment I could make to my calorie intakes and exercise I have made, hoping to see some real movement.

Now, I haven't religiously stuck to weight watchers tracking 24/7, and that's not good. But I certainly haven't been binging or doing anything crazy.

I feel broken. I walk 6-8 miles a day. Most days I do some elliptical or swimming too. And my calories are almost always under 1700.  And still I don't lose.

I feel broken and ashamed. I want this to work, but it just doesn't.  I want to be able to eat things in moderation, and weigh a nice healthy weight. But it just doesn't happen for me.

So...where does that leave me?

My doctor wants me to give up gluten. She thinks my body might be reacting to it and holding onto weight. She said she's seen really good results in people who have given it up.  I know in the past I've done really well on low carb, but it's just a lifestyle I particularly enjoy. The steak I can handle, but giving up delicious bagels and naan...sigh.

She's not insisting I go full low carb, but I'm wondering if I might want to do it anyway. Gluten free and low-ish carb. Maybe something like paleo, because I do love fruit.

I'm leaving for the Middle East this weekend, and eating low carb or gluten free is nearly impossible there, so I'm just going to eat normally for the next week. During that time I'll ponder what I should do, and decide on either just gluten free or a modified low carb plan. Tonight I eat Indian food, complete with hot naan.  I'll miss it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

When Willpower Isn't Enough

Last week while I was at work, my dog turned on her old friend, the chaise lounge.  I came home to this scene of upholstered carnage:

I couldn't get too mad at the dog.  She's a dog. Somewhere in the course of the day, she realized that the couch was filled with delightful stuffing, and decided to have some fun.  It wasn't a piece of furniture I was particularly attached to - it was an old IKEA one that I kept in the room where I keep the dog during the day.

But the point is, she did what was in her nature. And my job is to set her up for success.  She will do what's in her nature, and I have to make sure that's she's in an environment where she doesn't get into trouble.  So I started crating her during the day. Not something I ever wanted to do, but she clearly wasn't able to handle being in her own room all day.  She's been doing much better.

How does this relate to my journey?  I made a mistake this week. I overestimated my own willpower. I thought I could train myself to overcome what's in my nature.  And my nature is to binge on certain foods, especially salty, crunchy foods.

It happened at Costco. A company was giving out samples of these insanely good chips called Chip'ins - made of pressed popcorn and a shitload of flavor in such things as buffalo wings and jalapeno ranch.  Because they were for a limited time only, I picked up two ENORMOUS bags (20 servings each). Now, they are healthier than normal chips, but not when you eat half your body weight in them.  In 24 hours I consumed the better part of both bags.

I finally had a reality check and tossed the remainder (and took the trash out as well).  They were good, but I clearly am not in a position to exercise good portion control with these evil little temptations.

I'm not going to beat myself up about it though.  I was down to about 197 last week (after a long walk). I'm doing well, and this is for life.  I will slip and falter. And I'll recover.  I know my own weaknesses and need to make sure to set myself up for success, just like I do with my dog.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Joy of A Home Elliptical

At the moment last year when I realized that my weight was keeping me from being able to do things I loved, like hiking, I impulsively ordered an elliptical machine.  I got a good deal from Nordic Track and arranged for it to be delivered and set up in my spare bedroom, where I promptly ignored it for a few months.  I mainly ignored it because I was doing most of my exercise with my dog, who I adopted around the same time.

Now that I'm in slightly better shape and feeling like exercising more, I've been using the elliptical a lot more, and I have to say I LOVE having it.  Elliptical and recumbent bike are the two machines I've ever used religiously at my gym, and having it at home is wonderful.

Why do I love it so much?

1 - Waking up and walk 10 feet to use it.  In the past, to go to the gym, I would have had to get dressed, bundle up, travel to the gym, etc. That cuts into both my desire to go in the first place and the time I have to spend there.

2 - I can wear whatever the fuck I want. I can use it in my underwear. I often use it in my pajamas. The dog doesn't care.

3 - The iPad fits perfectly in the magazine rack, and I can watch shows on Netflix while using it.

4 - No mirrors in my second bedroom, so I don't have to see my flab bouncing as I work out.

5 - It's a good way to kill a few minutes.  I don't have to take a whole trip to the gym. I can just do a short workout if that's all I have time for. Whereas now I do a minimum of 20 minutes in the morning, which is a perfectly good workout. I've also been trying to do some in the evening but I need to work on my schedule.

6 - I can drink fresh coffee in the mornings while I work out. Yeah, it might not be the best thing for hydration but it works for me! Oooh maybe sometime I'll try a gin and tonic!

7 - Hell is other people, especially other people at the gym. I don't have to see those disgustingly fit people at the gym, or get harassed by trainers trying to sell me their services. Everyone just leaves me the hell alone, which is the way I like it.

8 - The shower's right there too.  Bed --> Elliptical --> shower and I'm still in the same 25-foot radius!

9 - No time limits or dirty looks from people waiting.  I can watch a whole movie when I'm in the mood.

10 - Bare feet, which means my feet never get numb from my shoes and the repetitive motion.

All in all, it's a huge help to my fitness regimen and I wish I'd gotten it years ago!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Trouble with TOM

Yes, I'm talking about that Time of the Month, and the havoc it wreaks on my weight loss goals.

When I last posted, I was staring at the 100s, but I never made it there. Instead I managed to gain a couple pounds since last week. Now, I know it's phantom weight due to TOM (at one point this week I was up 5 pounds) but it doesn't make it any easier to see that higher number on the scale.

I do need to up the exercise a bit next week though and drink more water. I didn't do much exercise beyond dog walking this week and I was woefully short on my water drinking. So those are my two goals for this week, and hopefully I'll see a much lower number on the scale next week.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dancing on the Edge of ONEderland

I'm almost to my first big milestone! ONEderland!

I just weighed in at 200.6 pounds, which is mind-boggling to me because it means the past, uh, 29 pounds haven't been a total fluke, or water weight, or whatever I usually tell myself when I don't want to believe this is actually working. I've struggled with my thyroid and trouble losing weight for so long that it doesn't seem real.

But it is!  I picked up a 30-pound bag of dog food the other night just to remind myself of how significant is is. That's how much weight I'm NOT schlepping around right now, how much weight is not straining my back or hurting my feet or joints. It's a great feeling!

So I'm alllllmost in the 100s. That's big. That's HUGE.  I'm huge, I know, but that's a huge deal for me. It was shocking for me the first time I faced the scale after gaining so much and saw that I was around 215 (I thought I was around 185 at the time), but now it's great to be saying goodbye to the 200s on the way down, never to see them again.

So here's hoping tomorrow morning I wake up and the first number on the scale is a big number ONE.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Day in the Life

I'm very excited - down another few pounds. I'm at 202 now.  27 pounds since I started, 12 of which were in January alone (since I started Weight Watchers).

So I thought I'd share what I've been eating and doing for exercise since it seems to be working.

I either have 1 cup of steel cut oatmeal (with a bit of splenda for sweetness) or two servings of Trader Joes High Fiber Cereal.

For my first snack I bring fat-free greek yogurt, which I sometimes gussy up with pomegranate seeds.  I also bring bananas and clementines.

For lunch and dinner I usually have something like rice with 15 bean soup, chicken and wild rice soup (I figured out a light recipe), or something else like that.

For evening snacks I'll have a miniature bagel with cheese or peanut butter, air-popped popcorn with a drizzle of flax seed oil and salt, or a strawberry milkshake made with skim milk, frozen strawberries, splenda and vanilla extract.

That's it. It keeps me filled up and I haven't really struggled with my Points at all.

For exercise I've been walking the dog a lot - we do about 2 miles in the morning, 3-4 in the afternoon, and another 2 before bed. I figure that's helping to keep my metabolism going all day, plus it keeps the dog happy too.

So that's my secret.  It's boring but I dig it.  I've been loving the bean soup so much I made my own mix:

FYI, 15 1-pound bags of beans makes 15 pounds of mixed beans. Should last me a LONG time.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

10 Pound Rewards

I really like the idea of celebrating my intermediate successes with non-food splurges that I wouldn't otherwise buy.

I'm going to start at 30 pounds, since that's the next 10-pound increment. I still need some ideas for a few milestones.

30 pounds - 3 pounds of 100% Kona Coffee.  I've had it once and it was to die for. I wouldn't normally spend that much but it'll be my reward.

40 pounds - Get my car detailed. I'm sure there will be a groupon or living social deal for this at some point

50 pounds - A new, really nice cutlery set. I've been using the same Target set since college and I want nice knives.

60 pounds - Get my hair highlighted. I have really thick hair so this is no small expense.

70 pounds - ???

80 pounds - A random trip somewhere awesome and beachy.  Hopefully this will be during the summer - this will be the milestone where I'll be in a healthy BMI and I want to wear a swimsuit!

90 pounds - ???

100 pounds - ??? I'm thinking shopping spree for new clothes but I'll probably be buying things as I lose weight.

I'm open to ideas here.

I'm still here!

Oof I just realized I hadn't updated this in, uh, 10 weeks. Whoops!

I feel off the wagon for most of December.  I was in the middle east for a couple weeks, and then visiting family.  I generally don't diet when I'm traveling, especially in the middle east where the food is so amazing.  Enjoying fresh kibbeh, falafel sandwiches, and shwarma is worth it to me.  That being said, I didn't go totally crazy.

Anyway, I got back in early January from all of my travels and was up to around 214 again. So I decided to go back on Weight Watchers, on which I've had some success in the past.  I started three weeks ago, and I just weighed in at 205.2 Woot!!  I'm very happy!  I've been exercising a lot and not eating the extra points I earn from exercise, which I think makes a difference.

I'm VERY pleased with my progress. And once the scale starts moving, it's a lot easier to stay on track.

I've plotted out my weight loss goals, and at 2 pounds a week I'd be in a healthy BMI by my birthday at the end of August.  At 2.5 pounds a week I'd be at goal.  I don't want to get too eager because I know my body gets a vote on this too, but it would be REALLY nice to not be obese for another summer. If I stay on track, I'll be in the "overweight" category by Memorial Day.  Yippee!

And I have to give a shout out to my faithful four-legged trainer.  She's been a big part of this. We're up to walking about 6-7 miles a day now - good for both of us!