Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Tenth Step

We have all heard of the Twelve Steps, which are the foundation of many self-help programs for those dealing with addictions. They have been instrumental in helping millions of people deal with the temptations they encounter as they overcome their addiction.

The tenth step is especially important to me this week: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. Ouch. Doing the right thing and being responsible. Admitting our imperfections is something we know we have to do and yet are loathe to vocalize. Almost as though, if we keep silent, it didn't happen. It wasn't real.

There's a number that appeared unto me this morning that proved that yes, indeed, it did happen. It was what it was. I didn't like it but it was very real. So dear reader, here is my admission for this week: I did not track as I should. I overate. I ate the wrong things, and most often at night. I had 2 holiday parties this week at which I indulged. Even with exercise (two days at the gym, two days of walking the dog), I have gained weight -- the wages of my sins.

What did me in? What didn't nab me is more like it. Tuesday night was caroling and a party afterwards. Was it the N Family's bark (this OMG candy thing) or the H Family's pumpkin dip (that does remind me, I really do want the recipe for that) that was my bete noir? No, offhand, I'd say it was my 2nd or 3rd serving of them. On Wednesday was choir practice and the follow-up snack time. Again, it wasn't the re-serving of those things (same people... HA!), but my re-taking AGAIN of them. And again. Now, I probably overestimated points (had I tracked them) on some items and underestimated others.... But that makes no difference.

I didn't do what I encourage others to do. It was a failing on my part. And all that is left to do is start afresh. Which I have today. I've been using the online tracker (eTools) lately because it's been easier during work hours to log on during a quick lunch break and type it in rather than write it down. I've been going back and writing down later (on weekends), because I like seeing the pen & ink. It makes it more "real" (so to speak).

Even knowing that I have slipped up this week, at the same time I am not going to beat myself up or go on a guilt trip. It is in the past, and I cannot change it no matter what. All I can do is move forward. And so I am. Today is the start of the rest of the journey. I have 10 days (roughly) until weigh-in. So that's 10 days to get myself in gear and drop down to a reasonable level. I'm not all that far above where I can be (the upper limit) but I'd like to be below that. So I will follow the good health guidelines, get in my exercise, and do all that I know is possible to get myself back to my acceptable level.

Who's on board with me?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Update on the gift exchange

In my last post, I mentioned that I was doing some baking for my department's gift exchange. The only requirement was that the gift had to be handmade/homemade.

If there's a craft to be done, chances are I've done it, tried it, and probably still have materials for it. Except for woodburning and pottery.... but I'm interested in pottery. I have a buttload of scrapping/cardmaking materials. I still have acrylics from my woodpainting days. And I still have quite a few things from my cross-stitching days. I still enjoy cross-stitching, just no time to do it. About the only thing that I can contribute these days? Food.

So I decided that if I were going to do some baking, it would be as tasty and as healthy as possible. I chose Hungry Girl's Caramel Pumpkin Pudding Cupcakes -- easy to make, very tasty, and 2 points apiece. My coworkers have all figured that if I make food, it's going to be on the healthier side, and so bless their souls, they don't complain. But they were sweet enough to wonder, "Ooh. What if A gets one of our gifts?" Almost every last one of us -- my boss included -- baked, made candy, or did some other food gift. All but one...........

And God, fate, the universe, The Force, whatever is out there was smiling upon me on Thursday morning. I drew the number of the lone non-food gift!!!!!!!!! I got a glass block with lights. These are so cool, and I've seen them at craft fairs everywhere.... I have a colleague in a sister company who makes them and sells them as well. She also does them with wine bottles as well. At any rate, I was totally thrilled with this -- not that I was worried about the food thing either. I figured if I got some food, I'd just take it home and let the family scarf it down. I was thrilled with my gift, and we all seemed to be pretty happy with what we got.

I also made a great recipe I found on delish.com for crustless quiches made in muffin tins. I had to improvise -- my fresh mushrooms turned out to be less-than-fresh. Less-than enough to toss them post-haste. So I used broccoli instead and they were good. I plan to do a little more baking this week -- nothing too extravagant, and all as healthy as possible.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

With apologies to Karen Carpenter

It isn't rainy days and Mondays that get me off track; try holiday parties, baking for gifts, etc. I love to bake and do things in the kitchen -- and in the last year or so I have enjoyed the culinary experience so much. But right now, it is my bugaboo.

Okay, first, the holiday parties................ Last Saturday evening was our company's Christmas dinner. Let me just say that I am so glad to (a) be working and (b) work for a company that does nice things like this. We had a blast. There was a cheese and cracker station..... a good Brie is just irresistible. Add some cranberries, walnuts, pecans, and other cheeses and fig preserves and pear jam........ Oh my. I sampled -- since after all, I do have 35 points to use. Then I couldn't decide between the pasta station or the carving station. I love good pasta. But I love good roast beef too. I chose to forgo the pasta and enjoy a good salad, a slab of roast beef and even some potatoes au gratin. Yeah, I know: that's one of the restaurant "watchwords." Well, I watched a small spoonful go onto my plate, then onto my fork, and into my mouth. They were indeed tasty, and I didn't regret choosing that over the pasta.

Then Satan appeared -- in the form of a dessert table. And for the first time in quite a long time, I indulged. I had a slice of this OMGTDF chocolate cheesecake. And about 90 minutes later I went back for a slab of yule log dessert. In the meantime, I also drank water like a camel and had 4 cups of coffee. One of the lessons learned is that I can't eat the rich stuff that I used to eat. HOO BOY. It was like my stomach said, "Well, I hope you enjoyed your little adventure into Rich Food Land. I want to make sure you remember what this kind of stuff does to me......"

One of my leaders defined hunger-satisfaction-stuffing as this: "Hunger is a dried up balloon that's forty days old and all run over, it's puny. Satisfaction is the Wal-Mart smiley face balloon. Stuffing is when you feel you can now be part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade." She was dead on with that. I was somewhere in between Wal-Mart and Macy's (ha... just like my wallet). Only my stomach was closer to Macy's, whereas my wallet is almost always closer to Wal-Mart.

Sunday -- no time for anything. Church, home, lunch.... oh yeah. Lunch. We went to Beef O'Brady's for a quick meal before our choral concert. Instead of my usual salad, I ordered the grilled chicken dinner, with broccoli and mashed potatoes. I knew I'd take part of the chicken home with me, and I figured part of the mashed potatoes. Uh.... I took home a piece of chicken. The broccoli was no trouble, but I had no intention of eating all the potatoes. You know what they say about intentions and the road to hell, don'tcha? I also had a cup of their vegetable beef -- good and tasty but WAY too salty. After lunch, it was my choir concert and a little gathering afterwards. A couple of cookies were the damage there. Dinner that night at home was vegetable soup and grilled cheese. I even used reduced fat cheddar. So I'm betting the damage wasn't as bad as it might have been.

Why the guesswork on that? Because I didn't properly track either day. For me, that is highly unusual. Lately, I've been using Weight Watcher's e-Tools to track and later going back to put my foods in pen and ink, I just didn't track at all for Saturday night or all day Sunday. That ended Monday morning; I have to track or it doesn't work. None of us really enjoy seeing the wages of our sins, but sometimes we have to know the cost.

What did it cost me? About an extra 3 pounds that I'm working off. I know some of that is water retention, but some was the "just don't care" attitude. I have 15 days until the next weigh-in phase begins (on January 2). I really have about another 5 beyond that, but I don't like playing with the calendar that way.

So what did I learn from all this?
1. Enjoy the occasional indulgence but be prepared to pay.
2. Track anyway. It's honesty.
3. Keep practicing healthy habits. I was proud of myself for getting up early and making time for some good workouts. I could have rolled over and hit that snooze bar (and this week it would have been ALL too easy!). I still got in my healthy foods along with the not-so-good choices.

And sorry for the delays in the posting: a little shopping Monday night, more shopping and baking Tuesday, choir practice last night...... I swanney, I need either 4 more hours in the day just for ME ..... or a Guy Friday to do my bidding. Ooh. Why not both? :D

The rest of the week has gone fairly well. I even made healthier foods for our gift exchange. Of course, everyone has brought in cookies and stuff. I am trying really hard to stay "good."

Monday, December 14, 2009

Running a bit behind.....

Hello faithful readers -- I haven't forgotten to do a post for this week. The weekend was pretty busy .... but as usual, there's lots to say. Look for something either tonight or tomorrow morning -- and we thank you for your support! :-D (Hey, how many of you are old enough to remember which commercial campaign that phrase came from?)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

If you heard the sound of a rushing wind....

this morning around 7:55 AM, that would have been me. I was exhaling for all I was worth, standing on a scale at the WW center where I fill in as receptionist on occasion, waiting on the verdict.

Maintained. Exact same weight from last month's weigh-in. Thank you, thank you, thank you, sweet little 8-pound 6-ounce Jesus baby in the manger.

It also hit me at the meeting that even with being well-hydrated, I had also been relying this week on prepackaged frozen meals. I didn't have much time to cook last weekend, so I decided to use what was already in my cabinet and freezer. Guess what I will be doing tomorrow -- yeah, that's right: cooking my own stuff and being in more control of the seasonings.

That's one bad thing about processed foods, or some ethnic foods -- just slap full of sodium. When I was 15 years old or so, I stopped using salt on my food. It's a long story, but basically I realized I didn't really need it, I was just doing so because we always had. What amazes me is how sodium is so prevalent in canned foods, processed meats, frozen meals and so many other things. I know it occurs naturally, and I realize that I have no control over that, and that I still need some in my diet. But I was shocked to discover one day that my full cup of green beans had over 750 mg of sodium in them. I mean, really ...... do green beans need that much sodium in the canned liquid? Unless you're a survivalist stocking your underground bunker for Armageddon, you really don't need that level of preservatives in your food. I don't want a can of green beans or corn to last for that long. I fully intend to eat it much sooner.

So I am rinsing all my canned vegetables, buying the "no salt added" varieties whenever I can, and trying not to eat so many processed items. It's hard to do, especially on a budget (both time and money). But is my health worth it? Yes.

***

It's the holiday (eating) season. Don't forget that as much as we don't want them to..... BLT's (bites, licks & tastes) do count. Le sigh. Nibbles count too. So does the glass of wine at a holiday party. Choose your battles and your points wisely. Listen, I don't plan to abstain from a glass of wine or two during the season, but I also know to draw the line at one drink per event, mainly because of the empty calories.

So how are you planning to handle this season of festivities, fetes, food and fun?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My December Weigh-In.....

will take place Saturday morning. I stepped on tonight and it was up, and enough to not be within my allotted range for Lifetime. Whaaaaa!!! What's that all about? It was within range this morning! I got up early to work out. I had a PT session today which usually (um) helps move fluids out. I made sure I drank my water.

I had thought about weighing tomorrow morning, but that would be getting up even earlier than usual for a workout (so that I could leave earlier to run by for a weigh-in). Nor do I really want to postpone breakfast for 2 hours later than usual. Instead, I will workout tomorrow night, giving my legs a few extra hours of recuperation, and also give me more strength training time. Maybe get 2 sets in, instead of just one. That's the one bad thing about early morning workouts -- I have so little time in the mornings as it is.

So tomorrow, I will be sure to keep drinking my water, watch my sodium as much as possible, and hope for the best on Saturday!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Great little thoughts for the day.....

For years, I have collected those little mini-books of quotes and inspirations that you sometimes see at or near the checkouts in bookstores. I have a slew of them. Well, for years, I used them at the church whenever I'd need filler for the bulletin or newsletter, and I still use them today .... in addition to the quotes found on the 'Net.

One such book is called Moments of Greatness by Denis Waitley. This is a gem that I've used many times over. I was re-reading it this morning before church, and these quotes especially stuck out for me:
  • "It's not what you are that holds you back -- it's what you think you are not."
  • "Self-discipline means doing within while you do without."
  • "Millions of people actually believe that they fail to reach their goals because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
I know that I tend to be a drill sergeant rather than a hand-holder. But I also am so passionate about taking care of yourself, so that you can be strengthened and nourished to really care for others. You cannot give what you do not have. If you don't have self-esteem, self-care, self-discipline, you cannot possibly give esteem, care, and discipline to others. You can't show or teach them to do it for themselves when you fail to do so for yourself. It is not selfish to take the time to plan, to set goals, to say no --- if anything, it's far more selfish to give and give and give with the assumption that "oh well, one day someone will do it for me." If that's the case, you really are blessed, but what if it's not the case? What then will you do?

You have the power within yourself to change your mind, your mindset, your plans, your goals, your meals, your time, your schedule, your life. In fact, you are the only human who has the capacity to do so. No one can make you change.

How bad do you want it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Just one day....

In the everyday, non-weight-centered portion of my world, I embarked on something I called a Gratitude Adjustment. I realized I had a crappy attitude about some things, and I needed to readjust. Either the day of my epiphany or the day thereafter, I saw a church sign that said, "Thanksgiving is one day; thanks-living is every day."

True. Very, very true, and a portion of that applies to the weight-focused realm as well. It isn't any specific special occasion that immediately puts 15 or 20 extra pounds on us. It isn't even the 6 weeks between Turkey Day and New Year's (or even that extra Bowl Week) that pads an extra 50 on our frame, although it has been said that the average American gains 17 pounds in that time. (YOW.) It's the day-in, day-out nibble here and nibble there, and the BLT's and the extra can of soda....... It's not Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day or even the Easter ham that piles it on.

So how do you get it off? Same way -- a little change here and there. Two or three little long-term, gradual changes: forgoing sweet tea for unsweetened or (even better) water; skipping the extra can of Coke; having a smaller portion but eating more slowly to enjoy it; parking a little further out at work or the mall; taking the stairs instead of the elevator; substituting healthier ingredients or lower-fat, or lower-sodium versions of a favorite.

Here's a great example of how small changes can make a huge difference. Let's say you're drinking two 20-oz bottles of Coca-Cola per day. That's 240 calories per bottle (yes, you read that correctly). 480 of your daily calories are through drinking them. Now ..... cut out just one of those bottles per day, without changing anything else -- no additional calories consumed nor expended -- and you may lose up to a half-pound per week. Now imagine how much food you could eat with those 240 calories! Let's say you cut out that extra drink, *and* decide to walk 15 minutes a day. Depending on your current weight, and the pace of your walk, you can burn maybe 65 calories. There's another 475 calories a week that you're burning with JUST the activity. That's 2155 calories per week that you're not consuming: just slightly under 5/8 of a pound this week. Now...... make it a 30-minute walk, or walking the 15 minutes at a faster pace, then maybe cutting out one snack a day or choosing a healthier option (the apple instead of the apple danish). See where that's going?

The whole point is that it doesn't take much to make a real difference. The biggest change you'll make is your outlook and attitude. Decision and determination are where the challenges lie -- in realizing that you need to make a change, and that you need to do these things for your own best interests.

So yes, Thanksgiving happened. It was a day. Christmas is coming. It's one day. The holiday parties are just one event (okay, a chain of events). But the whole point is NOT to give up. Control what you can, and stop sweating the rest. And every next meal, hop right back on the wagon. There is no need to let 6 or 7 weeks of your life sabotage you. Who's in control, you or a calendar? Is baking a tradition? Make it healthier, make fewer, don't make them at all. Are you baking because you have an event, or well, it's Christmas and I always make snickerdoodles at Christmas, and it just ..... stop. Who is in control, you or a calendar?

Fall off the wagon, but don't let it roll over you. Hop back on. Never allow a lapse to become a collapse!

It's one day. Not your life. Think smart, act smart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Making the right choice

Pride goeth before a fall..... but while I'm still standing......

Today was a good day. I hit the gym at 5:20 AM, did 20 on the elliptical and would have gone longer but I felt a little cramping (not a pull or sore muscle but it just didn't feel right, so I took it easier). Did some legwork on the weight machines too.

Then for lunch, I had a work/lunch meeting. We met at a nearby deli with a really good grilled chicken salad. I had them take off the almonds and cheese -- just chicken & veggies. I also had a cup of their veggie beef soup; really tasty AND had blackeyed peas in it. While I don't like BEP's by themselves, they weren't bad in the soup, and gave me some extra fiber. I guesstimated the soup and salad as best I could, and had a nice, very filling 5-point lunch (at least by my best guess). By the time for my afternoon popcorn break, I was still not starving but knew I'd need something for the ride home .... and surprisingly, it didn't hold me. Normally, popcorn is just enough for me to hold me even if I decide to work out after work. But not tonight.... huh.

On the trip home, I had to stop for gas for all three tanks: my actual gas tank, my stomach, and my "caffeine" tank. I had a few extra points from today, so I went looking for .... okay, as healthy a snack as you can get at a convenience store. Around here, best of luck. So I found a Fiber One bar. I love them, but I really didn't want to invest two points in it ... especially since I was on the way home for dinner. It wasn't that I couldn't spare the points, but I didn't want to. Reluctantly though, I approached the checkout with that and my Diet Dew Code Red in hand.

And there it was. FRESH FRUIT. At the checkout. Apples -- although, YUCK, Red Delicious or Granny Smith. Yeah, those are the two easiest to find throughout the year, but really, not my favorites. There were bananas there, but I had already had one this morning. Besides, if I wasn't willing to give up two points for a Fiber One bar, then I really didn't want to for a banana. And then.... tangerines. OOOOH!!!! So I put the F1 bar back, grabbed the tangerine and paid for the goods.

YUM. It was fresh, juicy, very delicious, and surprisingly filling. But what I appreciated most about the tangerine was that I chose it. Too often, if I have to stop at a convenience store, I settle for the Fiber One bars or a protein bar where I have to break it into fourths just for 1 or 2 points (which is just a nibble)...... but it always seems that C-stores with fresh fruit (or some with ANY kind of fruit) are so far between. In my main blog, back in February, I gave serious props to Sheetz convenience stores for having fresh fruit, cut fruit, cut veggies, yogurt, etc. right there near the checkout. If we were to get a Sheetz here, I would weep with joy; the nearest one is 3-1/2 hours away. I digress....... I could have easily said, "I've got the bar, I'll just take it instead." But I realized that the tangerine would be a better choice at that time.

And truly amazing? I got the tangerine at 7:00. I just now finished dinner. I wasn't hungry enough to go heat something until 8:30. Amazing that one little tangerine accomplished that.

****

The fall? Tomorrow is our company Thanksgiving dinner. We are keeping it fairly simple this year. I'm bringing just plain corn. We're having regular vegetables, a few casseroles, and whatever desserts are being brought. I may even take my nukable sweet potato instead of having SP casserole (which I love anyway but.......). Deciding whether or not to do a quickie workout tomorrow morning, just in case. Oh my. I'm addicted, aren't I?

It's a week to go until weigh-ins start for December -- can't be too slack!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's (almost) the holiday season.....

If you're on a weight-loss program, the holiday season can be the equivalent of The Robot screaming, "Danger, Will Robinson!" So what are you going to do to handle it?

One easy thing that you can do is make your recipes healthier. There are plenty of ways to substitute ingredients to cut fats, sugars and other empty calories, or add fiber. If you are a Weight Watchers member with access to eTools, please, please tell me you're using the Recipe Builder, because (seriously) that alone is worth the price of your Monthly Pass or eTools access. If you are not a WW member, fret not -- there are online ways to tweak your favorite recipe and make it healthier.

First, try substituting lower-fat, lower-calorie, lower-sugar ingredients within a recipe. The Mayo Clinic has this great list of ingredient substitution ideas -- both for baked goods and other items as well. The Heart Center of the Rockies offers these heart-healthy substitutions. In fact, the one item where I wouldn't make any major change is butter ..... if the recipe calls for butter and doesn't say "or margarine" then I'd use a light butter in place of regular butter instead. No offense intended to margarine; it's fine on toast but not always a good substitute for butter in a recipe, due to water content.

Okay, so you have your recipe, you've found some substitutions .... but just how much of a difference do these really make? Try an online recipe analyzer. A good one to try is available at SparkRecipes.com (a division of SparkPeople) -- it's free, and also allows you to save recipes in a recipe box. You can share recipes, but with some copyright restrictions. Anyway, you put in your information by ingredients and measurements, then the number of servings, and a little nutrition label pops up. Try doing it with your original recipe, followed by the one with substitutions. You may see big changes -- you may cut calories, fat, sugars, increase fiber, etc. Or the changes may be smaller than you expect -- at which point you may consider changing portion size rather than ingredient list.

Too much trouble to analyze your favorite recipes? Try these sites that offer healthier options:
Still not sure you're up to all that? How about these tips:
  1. Exercise each day. Instead of watching the NFL, play a game of flag football. On Black Friday, do the shopping shuffle. Park far out at the mall and after every 3rd store you buy in, go take your stuff to the car.
  2. Control your portions. Do you really need a platter -- or that whole turkey leg, Henry VIII? Enjoy your food; don't inhale.
  3. WW members -- hit a meeting. Or two or three. However many you need. Friday, Saturday, maybe even Sunday if they have it. Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. Go online and find a meeting near you if you're traveling. Get your support in.
  4. So you had a bad Turkey Day? Get back on track Friday. No excuses. None of this, "I'll wait till Monday." Each new day is a new opportunity; make the most of them.
But above all, remember the reason for the day -- no, not the Pilgrims, the Natives, the Lions, Packers or Cowboys. Give thanks. Think of every good thing you have going in your life -- yes, it's been a difficult year, but you are above ground and breathing; you have people for whom you care and who care about you; you have choices and freedoms, and that's more than a LOT of people in this world can say. So search your heart and be truly grateful for every gift in your life. A grateful heart is a satisfied one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I can never prove it....

but I believe with all my heart that negative emotions really do weigh us down, physically speaking. My first night with Weight Watchers, I was shocked by how much I'd gained in just 8 weeks (from the Doc's office to then). I felt tremendous guilt, shame, despair, anger, sadness, desperation, you name it. I couldn't believe I'd let myself go so long and not cared for myself. I lost 12.2 pounds that first week, and I truly believe that a third of it was getting rid of some of those feelings.

In the same vein, positive emotions don't make us lose physical weight but they surely make us feel lighter ... and maybe we do lighten up (really!). For instance, this week, I've been working on a project that I'm calling a "Gratitude Adjustment" .... when I stepped on the scale tonight for a courtesy weigh-in, it was about a half-pound less than my actual weigh-in last week. And while I might not have physically lost weight simply because of a change in my outlook, my heart and soul surely feel better and maybe I'm a little lighter because of it.

Think about it: feelings of guilt, shame, inadequacy, etc. draw us inward, emotionally and physically. My former leader often talks of meeting me that first night and how I was all shelled up (so to speak), and how I've come out of that shell. Well, I don't know if it's so much me coming out of a shell than it was just getting rid of those feelings. Success bred success..... and with it, more confidence, more good feelings, etc. I know when I feel bad about myself or about "what I have done and what I have failed to do," I feel heavier and withdrawn. When I'm feeling good about myself, and proud of my accomplishments and attempts, then I stand up straighter, I breathe easier, and I could skip & hop wherever I go.....

In the book of Proverbs, it is said that a cheerful heart is like medicine ..... I think there really is something to that. A good outlook, a winning attitude breeds success, which feeds more positive emotion, which fosters more success........ a wonderful winning cycle!!!! This week, find the positive. Live in it. Enjoy your success, and strive to be happy.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Apple Butter Recipe -- ENJOY!

Apple Butter Recipe (Crock Pot)

This is the recipe that I mentioned briefly here, and on my "regular" blog (Snort! Regular.....), Meanderings and Musings.

I am not joking: this is the easiest recipe ever -- the only change I would make is that you don't need that much sugar unless you're using an extremely tart apple. For slightly tart ones (like I used), I used 1 to 1-1/2 cups of Brown Sugar Splenda. For really sweet ones, like Honeycrisps, you could omit the sugar/Splenda altogether.

Great, easy, etc. If you have really juicy apples, you may also want to extend the cooking time. In my last batch, I used Arkansas Blacks (again), and ended up letting liquid cook out for around 20 hours. I like apple butter with substance, you know! And this group of AB's were very juicy!! Some of the variables (time, sugar, etc.) can change depending on your specific tastes.

Bon appetit!

Friday, November 06, 2009

The November verdict.......

Another month free! I am up a bit (1.4 pounds over goal), and that's partly due to the incredibly good potluck last week at work, and all the leftover Halloween candy. What's important is that I'm still within range for the month. And so, now my task is to work hard to get back down to a more reasonable margin. I'm also retaining water a bit, so I'm going to have to watch my sodium a little more closely, and keep up with water intake. I've done good but I did have a couple of days where it took some doing to get in 2 liters.

***

At last night's meeting, we talked about how to control what you can during the holidays. One member mentioned accurate measuring and portion control. Generally, I have no problem with this: except at potlucks. It's still hard for me to really visualize portions of casseroles and such. Pieces of meat? I have the palm guide and the deck of cards (or checkbook for fish). Veggies & fruits? Yeah, I can visualize a computer mouse (half-cup) or a tennis ball (full cup). Casseroles? (That pop you hear was my brain exploding).

At these types of events, my chief problem in portion guessing is that I overestimate what's on the plate. Yes, I realize that this is highly unusual; most people tend to underestimate, and I have myself on occasion. But overestimating can be just as bad. For example, I might write that I had a quarter-cup of something -- but later realize that it was really 2 tablespoons and not the whole quarter-cup. Now that doesn't sound like a problem, right? I actually consumed fewer calories/points than expected. Well, yeah, it's a problem. On those days, I tend to exercise more or eat much lighter at other meals to compensate. It's simple math: I'm expending even more, consuming even less than I thought -- and yes, Virginia, you can eat too little calories and slow down your metabolism. Rut-roh, Raggy, we all know what that means: a messed-up scale reading, because the body is hanging on thinking, "Oh no, it's famine time!"

During one of my very first meetings after joining, my regular leader was absent, and the substitute leader spoke of how she took a quarter-cup measuring cup with her to all family reunions, etc. She told people, "Sorry, this may take a moment...." and she'd measure out her quarter-cup portion of food for her plate. I got the underlying message -- take a small piece of what you want and savor it -- but I may have to start actually using her trick.

Oddly enough, I can see me at potlucks with a quarter-cup in one hand and a 1 Tbsp measuring spoon in the other. I have a feeling my coworkers would be patient enough to allow me my quirk (because they know my quirks seem to work for me). My extended family is pretty happy that I've gotten the weight off ... they might snicker, but hey, let 'em.

Whatever it takes..... whatever it takes. Try every trick, every suggestion, every mind game that you need to meet your holiday goal -- whether it's "I'm going to lose weight by January 2" or "I just want to maintain" or even "As long as I don't gain 10 pounds over the holidays, I will be thrilled." (We found out last night that one study shows that the average American will gain 17 pounds between Halloween and mid-January. GASP!!!!)

My own goal is to maintain (yeah, I know, that's my goal every month) .... but really, my goal is to be at or below goal on January 2. OOH RAH!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Great Falafel Experiment

This week, I missed my meeting. I *hate* missing meetings more than you know. Even after all this time, I still love the weekly meeting. I have missed maybe 7 or 8 in nearly 3-1/2 years, two this month alone (one to illness, and this one).

Yesterday at work, we had not only Dress-Up Costume Day but Ethnic Luncheon Day. We were to bring a food that's either from our heritage, our specialty, or otherwise connected to us. For instance, two folks brought things from their spouse's heritage. Really, my heritage is "Southern" -- we've been over here for so long, there's no special dish that's been passed down over and over except for those delectable (read: fattening! tasty! bad for me! fantastic!) Southern casseroles and desserts. But I do love good Mediterranean food, so I thought I would bring that.

As luck would have it, I discovered a homemade falafel recipe in a magazine. VOILA! Inspiration struck me, and so I signed up to bring falafel, tabouleh, and hummus. I knew I'd bring the last two from a mix. I'm not dumb, but I figured I could at least do the homemade falafel. This was a recipe for baked falafel -- way healthier than fried!

What I learned:
1. Use a falafel mix.

Really. The recipe is fine if you make it as faux-burger patties. Or if you ball it up and deep-fry it. But otherwise, no. Not really good. And honestly, I just didn't have enough time to make umpteen falafel patties. And the recipe also had WAY too much turmeric; a half-teaspoon? No. A quarter-teaspoon, or even an 1/8-teaspoon would be plenty. This made the whole dish a nasty baby-poop-yellow. And worse, it wasn't even tasty. This one is getting tossed. Or revamped at least. Sorry to the author, but yeah, it was yuck. In good news, the tabouleh and hummus were GREAT. I still have a ton of it. I love hummus, but WOW do I still have a lot.

The other bad news is that I went on a slight eating binge yesterday. One of the coworkers brought lumpia (her MIL's specialty) and something I fell in love with over the summer when my friend Kathi made some for us on a trip. OMG, it's so good. Another coworker brought his wife's Croatian turkey roll-up dish, which appeared to be fairly healthy. And I can certainly vouch that it was very tasty! Another coworker brought noodle kugel .... tasty but OY VEY for the waistline. But so tasty......

Thankfully, this is stuff that only happens on rare occasions. I have tried to be better today.

******

Other news: I have been to Fitness 365 three times this week -- Tuesday at 7 (fairly quiet), Thursday at 5:30 AM (definitely quiet) and Friday night at 7:30 (DEAD). And by D-E-A-D, I mean I was the ONLY member there for the entire hour I spent there. I had every machine to myself.

I did the recumbent bike and 20 minutes was enough to send my legs into "no mas" mode. I did a circuit on the machines and then attempted to do 10 on the Precor elliptical. 2 minutes and I was definitely screaming "no mas!!" Holy cannoli........

I'm definitely going to enjoy my membership there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One of the newest members of.....

Yep! I joined Fitness 365 here in town this week while they are still having their "no joining fee" special. And last night, I worked out there for the first time. I am very pleased. It's a fairly quiet facility -- for 7:00 PM, there weren't a whole lot of people. Of course it was also raining, so that may be why it was so quiet.

It's a nice facility and I'm really looking forward to working out there. In fact, I'll be heading there early tomorrow morning for a pre-work workout! I wonder how busy it will be at 5:00 tomorrow morning........

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm walkin', yes indeed

Today, I was honored to take part in a 5K -- my fifth this year! Now, I am all about a good cause, and a good walk, and charity 5K's are the best of all worlds. This one was for an awesome cause, finding a cure for juvenile diabetes.

I remember when my friend Tee's brother was born ..... and now he's grown with kids of his own, the youngest of whom has this disease. Another friend from Girl Scouts through high school has a teen daughter who was diagnosed within the last year. These are children who, through no fault of their own, have a body part that decided it wasn't going to do what it was created to do. So I was very pleased and happy to help this cause out and be part of Team Gabriel!

There are a few other 5K's coming up before the year ends, and I really want to take part in another one. There's one I know on Thanksgiving Day -- I just may do that one. But there is another coming up sooner for lung cancer, and I would love to help with that. If I can do one a month, I'll be feeling really good.

I also had a "sign" of sorts today -- a new 24/7 fitness center opened up in town, and I got the membership information. I just didn't want to have to shell out an initiation fee along with the monthly fee. Guess what? Saw a sign today -- "Fall Special: Join Now And NO Initiation Fee!" Just what I was looking for...... Okay, God, I get the hint. You've been dropping a few of them my way anyway........

If you've been thinking about doing something with your walking routine or just starting one, I encourage you to do a charity walk/run. It is well worth it!!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hanging in....

There isn't much to report. I've been monitoring my weight this month, and so far, so good -- I'm still within my 2-pound range, so I'm happy about that! This is birthday weekend -- dinner tomorrow night with the family, a benefit 5K on Saturday morning (for JDRF: Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), shopping with Mom Saturday afternoon, church Sunday, and then my godson's birthday party on Sunday. I know it's going to be a wacky weekend, so I have to step up the exercise next week to help compensate. I miss the biking.... seriously! So I'm going to work on even more of that.

I'm working with several of my medical team .... ha, I have to laugh at the idea of a medical team.... to figure out just how the heck to get insurance to see that carrying around 30 extra pounds of flab is not healthy and I gotta get rid of it and I'd love them to kick in. Don't get me started. I am on a tear about the SORRY state of things when insurance doesn't want to pony up a discount or an incentive to get healthy, but they'll (expletive deleted) pay for your heart attack after you've bellied up to the buffet a few million times too often. Oh God, I could go on forever, so I had best shut up now.

And if you're looking for pretty decent workout gear at a good price, check out Danskin Now available at (are you ready?) Wal-Mart. And that includes the moisture-wicking stuff. I had a Wal-Mart gift card that I finally got around to using, and bought myself a new long-sleeve tee and pants for the fall/winter. WAHOO!!!! The whole thing was about $18 -- and the shirt was only $6.00!!!! Worth checking out! No, you don't need fancy workout gear for exercise...... but trust me. Work out a few times in a 100% cotton shirt and then work out in a moisture-wicking shirt a few times. Guess which will feel better. At least for me, it does........ A good price, folks! You can't pass it up!

Oh, and later I will share my adventures in cooking apple butter...... :D (It's SOOOO good!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Take care!

This week's topic was "DIY: Project ME!" about taking care of yourself as a priority in weight loss. What? you might say..... What difference can it make in weight loss?

Plenty. So here's the deal: take care of yourself because no one else will.

It doesn't matter if you're married or single, in good health or struggling, childless or Michelle Duggar ........... if you learn nothing else in life it's that no one else can care for you. You have to care for yourself first and foremost. Oh sure, there may be people around (spouse, child, etc.) to help you in your self-care, but you have to do it for yourself.

I don't know why exactly, but sometimes we have a lot of trouble with this concept. Maybe because we're women -- generally, the nurturers, caretakers, etc. It might be because we're Southern and it's drilled in us that the key to JOY in life is to put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. There's guilt for not handling everything life throws at us. There's difficulty in saying no to people we care about (and then feeling resentful for not saying no to those who need to be told that, but we just can't bring ourselves to be meeeeean to them).

I know. Believe me, you've no idea how difficult it is for me to set a boundary because I want everyone to like me. However, the older I get, the more I realize I need to say "no" in order to really care for myself as I should. I mean, seriously, where in the Bible does it say, "Love your neighbor better than yourself?" It doesn't, by the way. It's "as" yourself. So really -- are you helping people by always giving in, and feeling resentful? Really -- do those whom you love truly benefit from you being sick and tired of being sick and tired? And really -- are you helping yourself when your inability to say "no" to others means you can't say "no" to the Twinkies calling your name?

If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will.

This is my mantra. I am 10 days from turning 40. I am single -- partly by circumstance, but mostly by choice (I am so incredibly choosy, I make Jif look like a floozy. Word.) I have no kids, and Maddox ain't gonna be around when I'm 80. I have a brother, and lots of friends, and right now, my parents are still here. But when it comes right down to it, there is only one soul on this entire earth who has the responsibility for my care: me. I have to do this and do it right because I'm all I have. That's it, that's the list.

Do I still have trouble with boundaries? Sure do. We all want everyone to like us, but I'm learning to appreciate being respected rather than liked. And I'm learning that it's okay to be a little selfish for the greater good.

And isn't your care -- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and every other way -- really in your best interest?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

So .... are you "All In"?

Okay, let me preface this by saying that as a very loyal Gamecock fan, it breaks my heart and spirit that I am resorting to using a phrase loved by Clemson's head coach. But it is apropos for this post.

When Dabo Swinney was named Clemson's interim head coach last year, one of his catchphrases was "All In." It's not a bad philosophy, truly. If you know anything about gaming (mostly in poker), you know that "all in" means that you are betting everything you have at hand that you will win. If you don't win, the other player(s) at the table get everything you have, and you must walk away. So what does that have to do with weight loss? Quite a bit, actually. And it applies to so much more than just weight loss, but I'll just stick to that.

Being "all in" means that you are determined to reach the goal. There isn't an obstacle that can stand in your path and cause you to lose. Winning is non-negotiable; it's a done deal, the only thing you don't know yet is the exact end date. You may temporarily lose focus, or need to stop to figure out a way around your problems, but you are dead-set on getting to the other side, no matter what.

You also know when you aren't "all in" -- you take your eyes off the finish line. The prize suddenly doesn't mean as much to you. Things that were easy to do in the past suddenly become burdens. You decide reaching whatever goal just isn't worth it.

But really -- is it the goal that isn't worth it, or are you telling yourself that you're not worth it? Are you trying to say to your heart of hearts that these obstacles, this self-discipline, a little time used and energy expended are all bigger, more important, than you?

I can't give you the answer. Each person has a different need, a different reason, a different motivation for starting the journey, for staying on track, for seeing it through to the end. Motivations change: it started with fear and shame and guilt, moved to being thrilled at the progress, and during my worst times, pure stubbornness -- by golly, I was tougher and the setbacks were NOT going to get the best of me. And a primary motivation for me was knowing that in the end, I'm the only person I can count on to care for me in my old age. I need to be in the best possible health I can be in to enjoy all life has. Your answer may vary -- it all depends on your life and situation.

All I can ask you is this: are you all in?

Friday, October 02, 2009

Huge, huge sigh of relief....

After yesterday's disastrous day, I weighed in this morning at my usual center. I wasn't sure what to expect. I hopped on the scale at home before eating breakfast -- below goal, so I realized I could eat and still be within my Lifetime threshold. I stepped on the scale at the center, and there it was: only 0.2 pounds above real goal. WOW!!!!! The first time in ages I've had that much room to spare. YES!!!!! I am thrilled, over the moon.

To celebrate (ha!), I had a cookie from the luncheon we had today. I have to applaud Publix bakery: they at least put a calorie count on their packaging! A lot of places don't .... just an ingredient list and a hope that you just throw your hands up and say, "The hell with it" as you indulge. The cookie was a little higher in points than I would ever like to go for such a small snack: for the same 120 calories I could have had a buttload of grapes or an apple and a half. But you know, I haven't had a bakery cookie since my Virginia girls' weekend. So I took it and enjoyed. And it was tasty. Strangely enough, I'm not really dying for my usual 5:00-5:30 snack. Huh. Maybe that one or two extra fat grams that drove it into 3-point range might just be helping to hold hunger at bay.

That's the one area I fall short in again and again: eating enough fats. Even with the good health guideline to get in my oils, I don't always. It is brutally hard for me to give up a point just for some oil. Let's see, for one point, I can have a teaspoon of oil or a whole cup of egg drop soup. Well, DUH -- the soup! (ooh. Egg drop soup or even hot & sour sounds REALLY good right now. Nasal passages are still blocky and my throat is still scratchy....). But I do find that when I put good fats in, I don't go quite as insane with the snackie-poos or the gimmes. Gee, think there's something to this theory after all?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Something about pride and a fall?

Okay, obviously, I am not at my WW meeting; nor am I at the Peace Center for the PostSecret event as I had planned. I am at home, trying to get my bearings, having been hit by a freight train. I don't know if the name of the train was "Seasonal Allergies," "Common Cold," or "Reaction to Flu Shot." But let me tell you -- whichever it is, it's a lulu.

Around Tuesday afternoon, I started feeling the familiar stuffiness (but that's a given), alternating with a runny nose, and a scratchy throat. That's usually an allergy thing for me, and I didn't feel exceptionally rundown like I would with a cold. That was in my favor. I was scheduled for a flu shot on Wednesday at work, and I read the CDC Q&A that the clinic provided -- mild illnesses were okay. I felt the sting of the needle and the slight burning that I was told to expect. But nothing else.

Until noon today. I ate my usual morning snack, a little later than usual. By noon, my stomach was churning, I felt absolutely queasy, and within a short time frame, my body was sending definite signals that I was not long for the work world this day. By 1:00, I knew the only place I would be going was home. After finishing up some necessary things at work, I got home by about 2:10 -- straight to bed, where I do not recall anything else until I looked at the clock and it said "5:13." Okay, one thing, I remember my dog coming in to sniff in my ear on his way out to potty.

I got up and I was hungry. It wasn't just Hungry, the orange monster from the WW ads on TV. It was HUNGRY, his older brother. Well, why not? I'd had no lunch. I'd only eaten 7 points all day. And in this one large meal, I planned to eradicate about 10 of them............. right? Wrong. The sweet potato I had cooked last week (maybe the week before? I lose track of when....) was still well cooked but obviously lost a lot of flavor along the way. I mean, completely, totally tasteless. No sweet, no sour, no NOTHING. So into le garbage it went, along with the leftover Greek food for which I now had no stomach at all.

I hate, absolutely hate, to waste food -- I have learned to waste food (so to speak) and allow myself the luxury of ordering something, and being able to say, "I can't eat it all; yes, I'm done, take it away" or "I'll need a to-go box." But when I've cooked it myself and I know all the work that's gone into it........ that's different. Such is life, though. I substituted some green beans, red cabbage, and roasted white potatoes that I had. They were good -- but that gave me back 3 points I didn't expect. I don't like gorging late at night just to eat up points, you know!!!

I'm really hoping I will feel good enough to go in tomorrow, weigh in on the way to work, and be all set for October. This morning, when I stepped on the scale to check, I was under that 2-pound limit. Oh Lord, please let it be so tomorrow morning. I don't feel like exercising tomorrow like a madwoman just to hit a goal................. I also have a feeling I will be doing some extra sleeping over the weekend.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Could the wheel be turning at last?

I did a courtesy weigh-in tonight -- doesn't count as my monthly weigh-in, just a way to keep me on track. And much to my delight, I'm far closer this time to where I need to be than I was last month at this time, or the month before. This gives me hope that next week, when I weigh in (Friday morning; I'll be at the PostSecret lecture Thursday night at the Peace Center --- WAHOO!) I won't be crossing my fingers and praying and exercising like a dog and getting up early Saturday to weigh in and not having that work either and then waiting until Tuesday night and stopping by ............. ah. I just want a good weigh-in next week. And I'm working hard to ensure that maintenance doesn't seem such a struggle.

In good news, the weather is nice enough to go walking again on my lunch hour or after I get home from work. I just hope the rain that is being predicted for Saturday will hold off long enough for the Race for the Cure to be good!! The temperature is supposed to be pretty good! I just have to remember to pack my knee braces..... oy!!!!

In more good news, I had some labwork done last week, and I got my results back: Everything is in at-least-normal ranges, with a couple bordering on fantastic! :-)
* Cholesterol: 132.
* HDL is 56 (according to the lab results, anything above 59 is a negative risk for CHD.... I was just 3 points away!).
* LDL is 64 ("optimal" is below 100).
* LDL/HDL Ratio: 1.1
* Triglycerides: 58.
* Glucose: 86.

My family doctor said that he knew I'd gone a long way to working on keeping my heart in good shape. I am so glad the numbers bear that out!

And in the last bit of fantastic news: A VERY HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Russell, who hit the 75-pounds-gone mark this week. WAHOO!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gone domestic, be back later......

I worked a WW meeting this morning, and planned a trip to a local orchard with my parents after the meeting. The orchard is not too far over the state line into North Carolina.

After stopping for lunch, it was onto the orchard. It's called Sky Top Orchard and believe you me, it is. We got 3 half-peck bags of different varieties -- Mom loves Red Delicious (which is my very least favorite; too soft for me!). Dad & I picked out Jonagold (for eating) and Winesap (for cooking). They had plenty of others: Cortland, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Mutsu (a green apple), and I think even a couple of others. The only kind of apple the orchard didn't have was Honeycrisp -- which is my 2nd favorite kind, and had already been fully harvested for the season. Luckily, my VERY favorite variety (Pink Lady) won't be ready until mid-October. You better believe that in 3 weeks, I'm going back for some! They will also have Arkansas Black, which also are good for cooking/baking. Now we just have to figure out how to freeze the apples we don't eat right away. Mom has found her old Betty Crocker cookbook (red & black & white gingham-like cover) from the '60s and it offers suggestions. We also got a half-gallon of cider; yummo, because there's nothing I love more than hot cider!

The other thing that made me sad was that their "picking table" online had Asian pears listed for September..... but no AP's to be found. I purely LOVE Asian pears, and they're getting harder to find. I may have to just pay the piper at the supermarket for a whole bunch and hang on for dear life!

From the orchard, we went on to the Asheville Farmer's Market. Dad wanted to find some figs for preserves before they're totally out of season. He found 3 pints; that was IT. There are apples galore there too -- quite a few from the nearby orchards, but it was more fun to go to the actual orchard itself to get them. And they had my Honeycrisps. I got a few -- and then got them home and weighed them. Holy God, these EACH weigh 12 oz. A three-quarter pound single apple? SHEESH! And I picked some of the smaller ones in the box. Yow.

I also went looking for a butternut squash to cube and use for soup, etc. Found one that was fairly large, and on sale: 89c a pound. The guy rings me up and says, "That's $5.80-something." Yeah, I bought a flipping SIX-POUND squash. Good Lord!!! So needless to say, I'm looking up butternut squash recipes online -- other than soup; got one for that. I just found a good one for .... ready? Butternut Squash and Apple Bake. I'm so there!!! I already have everything I need..............

Tomorrow, I'm making a crock-pot minestrone for dinner and hopefully will have some left over for work this week. I have some pumpkin soup that I made last week that's in the freezer, so that will be put to good use, too.

Signed,
Suzy Homemaker Strikes Again

****

Now, one of the things I have discovered about myself of late is that I really do enjoy cooking, and even larger-batch cooking for freezing and keeping for meals all week. I enjoy meals out -- after all, any meal you don't have to cook is a good one, right? Still, after a while, it gets old.

For years, a friend and I have joked about my "control issues." But you know, cooking my own food, making my own meals, and setting my own portions gives me the control I desire over what fuels my body and my life. And I am finding that I truly enjoy the kitchen.

Cooking connects you to the very essence of life on earth -- how we get sustenance from the land, how we need to properly nurture things, and how we enhance what goes into us, and what comes forth from us. It makes you realize how fragile the web is, and yet how very strong too. It shows how tightly our life and the world and the environment and our bodies are interwoven, and need to be connected to each other. There's an element of sacrifice and giving for something greater -- the soil sacrifices its nutrients to help grow the food. The food sacrifices itself to fuel us..... what are we sacrificing to give back to this process?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

38 days.....

Note: this isn't exactly about weight loss, but it's still important.

In 38 days, I will hit the Big 4-0. I am actually very, very excited about this birthday. The x-5 and x-zero birthdays from 20 on were tough -- until I hit 35, which was fabulous by comparison! It was as if a light bulb came on in my head on a number of things, and that I was comfortable enough in my own skin to do some things I needed to do. I wasn't quite perfect at first, but I was making progress and getting there. The last five years (almost) since then have been amazing. There are the obvious changes, but there's so much more that people don't see. I'm not a new me, I'm not a different person -- I'm a BETTER version of the old me.

So, with all that in mind, I visited my doctor this week. I think in my main blog, I've touched on family medical history before, so I won't rehash the details. Suffice to say that it isn't good on either side for cardiovascular stuff. I have worked so hard to get healthy by 40 that I want a barometer of what I've done, if there are still trouble areas to watch for, etc. So after talking with me, and doing a brief exam, my doctor said he thinks I've done quite a bit to help my own cause with heart disease. He ordered some labwork (Comprehensive Metabolic, Lipid with HDL/LDL ratio, Hepatic Function, and CBC with Differential Panels) and a mammogram -- because I begged for that. I had that done today as well ..... that's a different post for later. Anyway, I can't wait to get the results back and see where I am at this stage, look for any potential problems, and get cracking on a way to head things off or keep on the right tracks.

This is fuel for the rest of my life. Lately, I can't stop reading enough about nutrition, exercise, childhood obesity (a special pet project of mine), school lunch programs, our food supply, etc. Our nation has got to do something to make preventive medicines and examinations a priority. I forget where I read it but it was profound: our healthcare system is far more interested and invested in treating the diseases instead of preventing them. I don't get it. At all.

38 days until 40. I'm excited and happy and hopeful and ready to fuel the next stage of my life. I'm so glad I am in a better place at 40 than I was at 35, 30, 25, 20........... I just hate that it took so long for my body and brain and heart to all work together to get me here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Holding my own....

I made a very interesting discovery this week at my meeting. One of the other members and I were discussing our weight stalls and holding patterns. She's been stuck in one for nearly 6 months. Hey, it's been happening to a lot of folks I know, including myself. Even my leader remarked to some ladies from the earlier meeting (at some introductions) that I have actually been in maintenance for about 6 months.

It gave me an idea -- I went back through my weight record in the Guide Book and realized that she was absolutely right. On March 26, I hit a certain weight point, and with a couple of exceptions (like the week I made goal, the week I hit lifetime, one really odd week where I had a massive unexplained gain), I have held right around that number since..... oddly enough, guess where it is?

Yeah: My upper limit for "freedom" each month. It may be time to consider changing my final goal weight -- which I can do by sending a note to Corporate. At least changing it until I finally get rid of some of this excess skin.

It's strange, isn't it? My body apparently has decided its happy point is exactly 2 pounds above what my idea of "happy point" is, and what my official goal weight is. Big heaving le sigh.

But you know, I am doing fine. I am continuing to make good food choices. I am pretty creative in the kitchen. I'm reading labels even more closely, especially watching the sodium (the water retention thing). And I am way more proactive with my health than I ever was before. I avoided doctors' offices because they always focused on "the weight" ..... and now I realize, they had a valid point. The weight made a difference in my health. And now, I'm doing one massive cleanup effort. EPA's Superfund has NOTHING on cleaning up my radioactive mess!

***

Speaking of health things, I will go to my family doctor next week for a consultation -- I want to talk with him about family history, the lymphedema, trying to get him to send information to the plastic surgeon's, talking to him about what kind of tests I should have done now that I'm about to see the big 4-0, etc. And I want to discuss my headaches with him.

Since I was a child, I've always had headaches. Back in the day, we all thought they were just sinus headaches. I mean, holy mackerel, I am the poster child for chronic sinusitis. My entire life, it seems, I have awakened with stuffy nose and gone to bed the same way. Faceaches, and pressure around the eyes, and everything that points to perpetually inflamed sinus cavities. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Only..... a few years ago, I read an article on WebMD about this. And the old conventional wisdom was wrong. It's one thing to have an active sinus infection and a headache, but these are actually a type of migraine. I mentioned it to the PCP (I was seeing another doctor in that practice) and he said, "Oh yeah.... how about...?" He put me on a calcium channel blocker not for hypertension but for an "off-label" use of helping prevent migraines. And it worked -- worked so well I weaned myself off and didn't have too many problems for a long time.

And with the summer heat, I know I tend to have more headaches. But I had a couple of weird ones lately that really concerned me. Last Friday evening, I came home from work, hit my exercise bike for 25 minutes, and 2 hours later, had a hellacious headache unlike any other I've ever experienced. All the face pain of a "sinus headache" with the nausea of a migraine. My migraines tend to come up the right side of my neck and settle right behind my eyes. I can feel it coming on. I don't get auras (thank you God for that!) but I get the "march of the headache soldiers" .... it really is almost like I can feel it making its way up from my back to my neck and into my head. This was like getting gobsmacked in the face and punched in the gut. And it happened in a heartbeat. I went from feeling fine to WHAMMO. Okay, I chalked it up to heat, a crazy week, etc.

Monday, I went to the Y with my family (they are all current members, I went as "guest"). Did 25 minutes on the elliptical (and dang, it felt GOOOOD!) and another 10 as a cool-down on the bike. I would have gotten in the pool but I didn't bring a swimsuit. Got home and started feeling sleepy and headache-y. Not the migraine place, and not a full-on faceache either. Kind of a 1-2 on a 10-scale of pain. Just enough to make me go, you know I'm not going to be 100%. Took a couple of Excedrin Migraine and a short nap. And I kept that level 2 feeling the rest of the night. I didn't get nausea, but just the sense that things were not quite right.

I mentioned this to some friends who are medical professionals and fitness trainers. They all said, "Stop the heavy exercise until your doctor clears you." I finally went for a short walk last night because I didn't do anything Tuesday through Thursday -- and would go bonkers otherwise. I also waited until it was nearly dark and much cooler. It turned out fine.

I enjoy the cycling and I don't want to stop it. I like the idea of making my body work harder to strengthen it. God help me, there are days I even think of taking up running -- once I get this extra flab excised and I heal up fully from that, I just may. The idea of stopping all that progress makes me nutsoid.

I have thought of every possibility -- did I drink too much water and throw my electrolytes off (I bought some low-cal Gatorade to have on hand for that)? is it possible I'm hypoglycemic and that threw me off? maybe exercising on a nearly empty stomach? (I don't like to eat before a workout but now I may have to). There are so many possibilities and I want to make sure I'm in the best shape and condition I can be in for this next stage of my life.

Lots and lots of things to consider in the next few weeks.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Deep sighs of relief.....

I worked a meeting this morning -- which I really enjoyed doing! It's been a while, and I forgot how much fun it is! Hopefully, I'll get to do a few more in the upcoming weeks and months. I hate that for the time being, I can pretty much only work on weekend meetings. But such is life.

Today, the moment of truth arrived: my monthly weigh-in --- not just my monthly weigh-in for Lifetime status, but Corporate weigh-in as well. If you aren't aware, WW employees are not only Lifetime members, we also have to turn in our weights to our territory management team each month. These last couple of months have been a real struggle for me. I've been within the acceptable range, but I hate being on that plus side of goal and having to cross my fingers and hope. It's almost as if my body has said, "You know, I really don't like that number, so I'm going to put you right here. I like you here. I know you don't like it but I don't care. Your wants are so cute, aren't they? Nope, I'm good. right. here."

So "here" I am on a Saturday morning........ I didn't eat breakfast before the meeting but took a suitable portable breakfast with me for after weigh-in. Right before time to open up for weigh-in, I changed into my magical weigh-in outfit, took a very deep breath, pushed it right on out and stepped up to meet my doom.

You see, when I stepped on the scale just before getting into the shower, it read "XXX.4" ..... yes, a lousy 0.4 above that threshold number. But I figure it was better than a week earlier when it had been a whole 8.2 up..... don't ask, I don't know either. But in the words of Coach John Fox, "It is what it is." So I figured I would turn in the weight as it was, and maybe get a little note back saying, "Okay, you're over threshold for this month, you have X time to get back within guidelines." The leader took the weight slip, and wrote down the number: XXX.0 ...... Right. At. Threshold. Holy maroley, thank you sweet baby Jesus in the manger, all 8 pounds 6 ounces of pure heavenly light.

I changed back into my regular clothes, began weighing people in, and have had a really awesome day since...... but let me tell you, this part is nerve-wracking. Praise be, I have another 4 weeks or so to keep myself in check, and so I'm not really freaking out anymore. What drives me crazy is the timing: I hate for things to be so near the edge, especially so close to deadline (we have X days to weigh and get it turned in). The really insane part is knowing that I'm following plan and yet am still struggling with water retention and hormonal balances and having to watch this-that-and-the-other ----- JUST to hit my range each month. It's almost like the old Don Williams song, "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good."

Yet....... in spite of all that, I feel so amazed and happy to have this new lease on life. I don't want to consider where I might be had I not started this process three years or so ago. I mean, really: I shudder to think about it. I might not be here at all. I might be here, in a cardiac rehab program because of a major heart scare, and with a big ol' scar or several from neck to navel. There are days it's been easy, but I'm more grateful for the times it hasn't been so easy; that's where I have learned about the depths of strength that I didn't know I possessed. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but even more awed by what I've learned along the way -- not just about food and my relationship to it, but myself and what my soul has contained.

Those are the lessons I want to pass on.... how to look deep within yourself for reserves of strength and determination and power you never knew you possessed.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Quick update.....

Well, it's almost time for my monthly weigh-in. I spoke with my leader and we think what may work for me is to still come to the Thursday meeting but weigh in on Friday mornings on the way to work -- changing it so that I bring breakfast with me instead. Big change for me but I can deal with that...... ANYTHING to keep me at goal!

The protein experiment seemed to work exceedingly well!!! So I am going to keep that up. I'm also going to keep up the 24 points per day...... at least for now. I also signed onto the LiveSTRONG website for The Daily Plate to do some extra tracking -- primarily for sodium and protein (more on the sodium in a moment). According to that, I'm still not eating enough calories for my maintenance needs. Sorry, but really, I feel that I'm eating the right amount for where I need to be, so I'm not freaking just yet. If I ate their recommended calories per day, I would be 20 pounds heavier in no time.

Another experiment that my leader suggested was increasing my water intake -- water in proportion to the other liquids. I have no problem at all with getting my liquids in, but I got the basic water and then added about as much soda, etc. So I started doing about a 2:1 ratio. I am doing 3 liters of water per day. Is it making a difference? OH yeah. Got rid of a LOT of water last week -- because I honestly think a good bit of this extra weight that's refusing to let go is water retention.

Speaking of extra pounds that won't easily go away............... I consulted with a plastic surgeon last week about skin removal surgery. It is a huge step and a big undertaking. I'll keep you posted on how that is going to proceed as we take each possible step we can. The other health issue seems to be resolving...... slowly, but resolving. Keep your fingers crossed that the current meds continue to work to do what they're supposed to, without messing with my weight too much. I can kind of tell that they might, dang the luck.

Still stationary biking..... and spent an inordinate amount of time on Friday evening trying to really figure out if I'm working at "moderate" or "vigorous" ..... what nebulous concepts!! I try to work out at 72-77% of my MHR ..... now, at that level, I am sweating within 5-6 minutes, pretty well drenched by 12 minutes, and pretty well exhausted by 25-30 minutes. To me, that's vigorous. Some experts, however, consider 70-79% to still be "moderate"..... What. A. Crock. What about "moderate-plus"? To probably get a more accurate "calories burned" idea, what I've done is track it as "vigorous" but at 2/3 the time. Hey, if I've burned more, great -- I'm not trading them in for food anyway. If I've really just burned at a "moderate" level instead.... So? I'm doing SOMETHING and I want to track that to make sure! I figure 2/3 is a good measure.

I had planned to try altering my workout routines -- biking most days but gentler stuff on the other days, plus one day of "rest." Well, with choir practice beginning, my "day of rest" is going to be different..... and I'm going to have to change the time of my planned exercise for that day to move it to Thursday morning (my usual "day of rest"). I guess 5:20 is going to have to be my once-a-week wakeup call (as opposed to the usual 5:45). Mornings and I have never gotten along.

That's all for the time being. I'll keep everyone posted!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The experiment so far.....

The increased protein at night so far seems to help control some of the urge-eating. Last night, I stopped off at Walgreen's for some Orajel (dang these 'stacked teeth'!), and picked up a Pure Protein Hot-n-Healthy Oatmeal Squares in Cinnamon Roll ..... yeah, it was a 4-point protein bar. But it was a good four points and got me through a 30-minute bike ride with no trouble.

I also had an idea about my exercise yesterday morning. I'm going to alternate bike days with a lower-intensity activity --- I'm thinking of walking, or an aerobics DVD, or a stretching DVD that I have. I love biking, but I also know that if I do it too often, my body will become too accustomed and quit giving me the same output that I'm currently getting. And I also think it will be good to keep my body "on edge" (so to speak).

I'm also very glad that my body (at least for the time being) seems to appreciate this switch-up and has decided to cooperate with me. A little, anyway........

I have about 9 days until the first weigh-in of September. I am going to give this all I have!

Friday, August 21, 2009

A morning epiphany...

I was driving in when I had this thought & didn't want to lose it.......

The last couple of weeks, I have had a couple of nights where I've had ..... I don't know that I'd call them binges or urges. They're not cravings, because it's not for a specific food or even type of food. I was mulling it over last night and thought, "Oh, it was a texture thing!" I was going for things that I could crunch or chew that were ..... I don't know how to describe it. Things that weren't pureed to extreme smoothness.

Last night, it hit again. I went to Jason's Deli, as I usually do after meetings, and grabbed a couple of packs of their flatbreads. It's a point each, they're crunchy, they have texture, and they're tasty to boot. I had the points to spare, and even a few from activity & the weekly 35. NO biggie. Then I grabbed a pack of graham crackers. Worth the points. Stopped off for bananas, and had a sample of a cookie from the deli (it was about 1/4 of a cookie). Fine, let's count as 2 to be safe. No problem.

Got home, wrote the blogpost, it got to be 10:15 and Oh, I still need one more half-serving of dairy. So I treated myself to a string cheese (enough to combine with a cheese slice from earlier in the day to get a full dairy serving in), and even had a little fat-free ice cream -- the normal 1/2 cup serving. And I thought, "Okay, something to keep me through the night" and I ate an Alternative Bagel (only a point). The next thing I know, I'm going back for another 1/2 c of ice cream. Luckily, I stopped there, but HOLY MACKEREL. What the hell happened?

So as I said, I'm not beating myself up, but mulling over what turned me into a madwoman at 10:15 last night to where I suddenly could. not. get. enough.

Carbs.

Aside from the cheese, every single thing I "binged/urged" on was carb or somehow an emptier caloric content.

I'd had a hearty cup of vegetable soup. A really tasty, savory soup that's also only one point. I'd had a hearty veggie-laden salad -- I even had to use a low-fat dressing because they were out of fat-free. Again, it should have held me a little better. I could have (maybe should have) skipped the little flatbread packets, but they shouldn't have been enough to knock me for a loop.

Carbs.

So today, I am experimenting and will continue through to Sunday with this to see how it goes down. For breakfast this morning, I had my usual high-fiber/high-protein cereal, banana, skim milk & 1/2 c of blueberries -- yeah, there's protein but there's also enough carbs in there to get me through the morning. For lunch, I had planned to get a sub, but I may switch that up to a good chicken breast salad (getting some protein in but not overdoing it). THEN tonight, after exercising, a more protein-laden meal, to not only help with the muscle repair after exercise, but to hold me a little better. One of my favorite post-biking meals is an omelet -- it's quick, easy, and usually by that point, the only thing I have the time or energy to cook.

And one thing that has always, always been truly difficult for me is getting enough healthy fats in. I admit that getting in my oil guideline has been the area I fluff on most. I just cannot bring myself to spend a couple of points on oil. I mean really -- which would you rather do, have a teaspoon of olive oil for a point, or a one-point treat that you really like? Yeah, me too -- the treat wins. So the other part of my experiment is that if I have a point left over at night's end, I'm foregoing the treat to get at least one teaspoon of oil. Massive "le sigh."

So these are my morning thoughts. I'll let you know how the experiment works.

And as silly as it sounds, seriously.....pray for me. This is driving me crazy .... to have my body do so well and then rebel against me. That's at least what it feels like. That I've worked my rear off to get to this point and suddenly...... If I had an answer or a direction, that would be great, but it's a combination of so many things that I don't have answers for. I have a body that looks healthy, can do a million things it couldn't enjoy before, and yet isn't in the right rhythm on so many things. It really makes me want to scream, cry, kick, cry some more, offer it up for research.......

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Frustration, thy name is.....

Even though my weigh-in isn't official, I stepped on the scale ..... and I'm up. Naturally. OMG, I am screaming on the inside.

I know it's normal to have fluctuations during Lifetime/maintenance. And I know given all the weird crap that has been happening with my body, it's no surprise. But it is no less frustrating. I think maybe it's worse because I'm not sure why things are crazy....... I'm still on program; I use a few weekly points but not over the 35. I'm exercising -- and very well, I might add!

The only odd thing is that there have been times over the last few days when I simply could not get enough to eat. Not a craving for anything specific -- just the need to eat something. Anything. Usually after 10. And only a couple of times but it was like "GIMME" (said in extremely deep, gravelly, demonic-type voice).

I can't do anything about the hormonal stuff. But there are some things I can do..........
  1. On my leader's advice, I'm adding a point back in to my daily total. It's an experiment. Since I'm earning in the neighborhood of 12-16 activity points a week (if not more), it may be that I'm not eating enough points/calories to support it. It's possible.
  2. I'm going to drink more water-water. I'm already drinking plenty of liquids -- 2 cups of coffee, 1-2 cups of herbal tea a day, at least 48 oz of water (if not more), and usually 24 oz or so of diet soda. That's just an average day. She's also suggested upping the water intake on top of the others. Okay, that's only one extra bottle a day -- easy enough to do!
  3. Do some things to my exercise -- right now, the biking is great, really great! But I'm thinking that doing some intervals might help ..... or 15 minutes in the morning, 15 in the evening. Just something to make it all better.
We'll see how it all works. I'm really, really wanting the breakthrough to come, and for my weight to fluctuate less and get more toward goal -- where it should be and where I busted tail to get.

I'm not discouraged at all ..... just baffled. Really baffled.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A strange weird week....

This past week was crazy -- visitors, eat-outs, etc. And Tuesday was just the craziest day of all. I could not stop eating!!! A bagel (a whole one, from Atlanta Bread), and 2 pieces of chocolate, and and and...... I think I figured up that I used 13 flex points just that day. SO out of character for me. But you know, it has turned out okay.

I took a couple of days off from working out, also. As good as it feels for me to work out, I really did appreciate the time off. I don't intend to make it a habit, but the break has been restful and helpful.

One of the things that my leader says is that it's okay to fall off the wagon but NOT to have the wagon roll over you. And so we begin the next week tomorrow -- not letting the wagon roll over me, but getting up, dusting myself off, and living one day at a time.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

YAHOO!

Leave it to the wonderful folks at Prevention to have a 30-minute interval routine in the September issue --- one I can live with for the bike, so that I don't have to figure it all up by myself. WHEW! Because I can tell you, I was about to drive myself completely bonkers with my Excel spreadsheet -- trying to figure up a workable interval routine and figuring out calories burned. And to top it off, all my calories-burned figures are massively wrong; as in, "the workout only burned 10 calories in 20 minutes" wrong. Yeah. SO........ I think I'll try this routine and fuhgeddaboutit.

I did stop by Academy Sports on Friday evening to look for padded bike shorts. No go -- I know that REI sells them but the nearest one is in Asheville. Yeah, that's not far at all to drive but a little much for JUST a pair of shorts...... and God knows, these shorts are NOT exactly inexpensive to start. Instead, I picked up a more cost-friendly alternative -- a padded bike seat cover! WAHOO, right? Errrrrr. Well....... I got it home and it doesn't fit the bike seat at all. Okay, it fits the front of the bike seat -- which is where I need the padding most anyway. So I'm keeping it and using it. And I am debating whether or not to actually keep it on the bike, or use the cover as shorts padding (stuffing it in the shorts). Hey, it might work better that way!

As far as the weight thing, I weighed in again on Friday morning and it was slightly better. I did eat breakfast beforehand, but overall, it was within range and I am pleased. I used a few flex points last night at dinner for my Mom's birthday -- ate a couple of small yeast rolls at dinner and it was worth it. I don't eat them that often, nor did I add butter or spread or anything. Just the bread, and it was good. The one disappointment is that the "baked potato bar" -- which had nearly every potato topping you'd want -- didn't have salsa. Oh, I was looking forward to that!!! Instead, I went with a few pieces of broccoli and some ground pepper.

Back to breakfast: Ten years ago, you couldn't pay me to get up and eat breakfast, or at least not within 2 hours of rising. If I did eat breakfast, it was usually something cruddy -- a sausage or ham biscuit, or some pastry that was sugar- and calorie-laden, and probably had trans-fat levels that were catastrophic. These days, I can't imagine kickstarting my day without a healthy breakfast. I might go walk first, but you better believe as soon as I am done, I am in the kitchen! Studies show that breakfast eaters tend to have more successful weight loss and I believe it.

I choose to have a lot of points/calories at breakfast. One, I need the fuel, even with having eaten a snack shortly before bedtime. Two, IF there's a crisis and I can't have a morning snack until later (or depending on the day, not at all), I won't be completely ravenous when it gets to lunchtime, and I end up eating my lunch bag too ("you mean the foam insulation has 4 points?"). For me, it tends to be a high-fiber, high-protein cereal, skim milk and a banana...... OR a small omelet with egg substitute, a little reduced- or no-fat cheese, toast, a banana, and yogurt. Worth every point.

SO: What are you doing to fuel your body early enough in the day, and what are you doing to use the fuel you give it throughout the day?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Updates: weight & interval training

I weighed in Saturday morning for Lifetime. Right at the upper threshold for staying within the free range. I am planning to weigh in once more on Friday morning to see how it's going, but I may just take it this month and RUN, RUN, RUN.......

So I have been doing the interval training on the bike...... Oh. Em. Gee. Kicked my butt and left me for dead on the highway like roadkill. By the end of the 12 minutes, I was right at the threshold of "plumb worn out."

The good news is that the 20-second, totally-flat-out interval took my heart rate into the mid-80s and back to the mid-70s during the 40-second "moderate" interval. WHEW!!!! I'm also trying to determine how I can adjust the intervals to stretch the workout into 15 minutes or even 20 minutes -- not increasing the number repetitions, but the time of the intervals. I am thinking of going from 20-40 to 30-90 intervals instead. Why is that? Well, I feel bad when I "only" work out for 12 minutes ...... but that's another topic altogether, one I do intend to explore at a later time.

The downside? I have *got* to buy some padded bike shorts. My rear end really can't handle much more. Either that, get some sort of pillow for the bike (or a small one to stuff in my shorts). Or a third option of a gel-padded bike seat. The other problem is exercising in full-waist support hose. I don't want all that extra thigh skin flopping around, but I don't enjoy the perspiring in them nor the occasional rash from where it rubs against me. YUCK!! (I know: TMI).

But I'm enjoying the biking, that's for sure! Now, let's see where it gets me in the next few days......

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The news from Lake Weightbegone......

I'm still trying to pull off all the "weight" it says I have put on since reaching Lifetime 2 weeks ago. My leader and I are truly quite stumped. Is it fluid retention? Possibly yet another hormonal issue? Could it be a little of both?

One of the keys this week for me is being committed to consistency. It's something I've been doing all along --- part of that dogged determination that got me where I am. But I'm going to redouble my efforts. All I know is that I plan to watch my sodium closely this week, yet keep doing what I'm doing. I'm also going to be just as consistent with my exercise -- and shake it up a bit. There was a great suggestion at Prevention.com for interval training, and I am going to try the Workout #2 each day when I use the exercise bike. Hey, it can't hurt, right? So come next week, I will face my monthly Lifetime weigh-in with courage and confidence!! OOH RAH!!!!

I also know this fluke carousel-horse situation has got to end and I'll settle out at last. I am going to hound my doctor(s) until I get an explanation for what my body is doing to me. I am TIRED of all this. I know it's not FSH; it's not thyroid.... SO WHAT IS IT?

And that's the news from Lake Weightbegone: where everyone is strong, good-looking, and way above-average!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

First week of Lifetime.....

Forgive me, friends, for I did sin. Okay, actually, I "celebrated" with a girls weekend in Virginia.

One of the girls brought lumpia (I guess the best way to describe it is "Filipino spring roll")..... oh my, was it good. I made some good choices and some bad ones. On two of the three mornings I was there, I walked on base. It was kind of funny -- on Monday, I got to see some of the units doing their PT and they looked at me as if to say, "Hey, how come SHE gets cool exercise clothes and an MP3 play.... oh. She's a civilian!"

I put back on some poundage -- and so far, I've gotten about half of it back off. I don't weigh in again until the first week of August.... WHEW! So I'm going to bust my butt off to get back down. I know what to do and how to do it, and I'm well on my way!

So what does this mean? It means I'm human. I still am tempted, and I do give in on occasion. Being a Lifetime member doesn't mean that I am suddenly beyond it all. This is the tougher part of the journey........ not that getting TO goal was "easy" by any stretch. But this is the real test.

Two weeks. I will kick those remaining pounds into the dust. I know I can!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Very Sweet Word

LIFETIME!!!!!!!!!!!

I did it. I lost 3.2 pounds this week, to not only get back to goal but under it -- WAHOO!!!!!!!!! I worked my butt off on the exercise bike and being extra-vigilant. So that's a total of 229.8 GONE.

I have so many people who have helped me along the way: Debbie & Tisha, my leaders; Gail, Eldora, Bev and all the other receptionists who have been with me along the way; all the many fellow members -- especially those who have been part of the Thursday 7:00 PM meeting. I won't name you all because I'll leave someone out and I don't want to do that!!! I have enjoyed the help of so many people. They have inspired me to be better, stronger, wiser, smarter, and to always persevere. I could never, ever, ever, have made it to this point without them.

Then there are my coworkers, who were just as vigilant with me to keep me going, and keep me on plan. I love you all and thank you!!!

There are all my dear friends across the nation -- WAY too many to name, but I have a special six that I need to especially thank: Russell, Amy, Susan, Mike, Stoney, and Melissa. God bless and love you all. And I cannot forget to thank "My Girls" (you know exactly who you are) -- for loving and supporting me every minute of the day, and not just in the WW stuff.

And above all, my mom, my dad, and my brother: you've seen my worst, and you've seen my best. You've loved me through it, walked this journey with me 24/7, and have always encouraged me. You knew I had it in me to do this .... you threatened at times, cajoled at others, and then finally loved me enough to trust I'd do it someday. And I did. I didn't know my own strength but you did. My heart is grateful. And special thanks to my walking buddy, my boon companion, and my heart's delight: Maddox, the Wonder Dog!

Of course, none of this would have been possible at all without God. When my own strength failed, and even the encouragement of my friends wasn't enough, it was God's gentle reminders that he loved me and would sustain me that picked me up and set me back on track. Many years ago, when I was in the middle of a difficult situation, Jill Connor Browne sent me an encouraging e-mail that I have never forgotten: "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot sustain you." I lived on those words then to get me through, and I know that it was equally true here. God has led me down this path at this stage of my life for a reason. Now it is up to me to take these lessons, live them, and help others as well. It is not just the weight that I've lost but everything that I've gained that is so precious to me. It took God's will working in ways I did not understand to get me where I am so that I could undertake the journey and really appreciate and savor it.

I'm going to wrap this up because (a) it's late and I'm tired, and (b) I don't want to run the risk of leaving anyone else and (c) I still have points to eat before going to bed! And I'm also not sure I'm making much sense right now. But I'm so excited -- I'm really just beginning the journey of a Lifetime!!!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just the facts, folks.

Remember about a year or so ago, when New York City began requiring certain types of restaurants to post calorie/nutrition information on the menus so that people could make better choices? Why isn't this a national law yet, requiring all chains (e.g., those with a certain number of locations operating under that brand) to do the same?

Right now, there is supposedly a law where restaurants are supposed to provide their nutrition facts to you, the consumer, upon demand. But best of luck, in most cases. In some cases.... well, they have it for the "lite style" menu items, but not for the rest of the menu listing. I'm not talking Mom & Pop restaurants; most of them do not have the financial resources to have their menus analyzed. And I can forgive that. But national or regional chains DO have a little more flexibility in their resources to be able to afford it. Even local chains or little Mom & Pops should be able at least to tell you the ingredients and rough estimates of portion sizes -- something that you can take home and figure out for the next time.

There is nothing quite as frustrating as to plan to go to a restaurant. So you look up their menu online, and see something that looks mostly healthy. You'd just like a little more details. But when you pull up their nutrition information at their website -- you don't get "Grilled Chicken Salad: 410 calories, 15 g fat, etc." but some lame crap about "We support making healthy choices, and here are a few that are lower in calories/lower in fat (however they claim to word it) ...." and list about 5 items. BUT NO CONCRETE FACTS.

I'll give the fast food places credit: they have this information handy! Mickey D's, Subway, Burger King, Wendy's, Taco Bell, Chick-Fil-A, and plenty more all not only have it but eagerly share it. Quite a few of the casual dining places do so as well. I know the Brinker brands offer it on their websites, and it seems that the Darden-owned chains do as well. Even Ruby Tuesday does -- and some of the choices that would seem healthy are purely GHASTLY instead (see: turkey burger, bison burger, etc.). How do you make a turkey burger into that monstrosity, and yet your 6 oz sirloin is lower in fat, calories, etc. Oh yeah: portion size......

Here's the question I'm asking myself: why do I patronize these places? Why I am not writing letters to their CEO asking them to provide more detailed information? Is their greed so rapacious that they are willing to lie or weasel around it just to get my dollar? Apparently so. And since they have no qualms about hitting me in the heart with their fare, I no longer have qualms about hitting them in their wallet.

I know that sometimes, you simply have to guess and do the best you can with the choices available. I have no problem with that. But the more informed we are as consumers, the better it will be. Perhaps restaurant chains will realize, "Hey, this item isn't selling, and it's because people don't want something so unhealthy. Let's earn their business again by offering something they want."

But then again, obviously, we as a nation have spoken: did you see the recent obesity statistics for 2008? Every single state got fatter. Even Colorado (still the healthiest at less than 20% obese) had an increase in their percentage. And of course, we in the South -- where the food is TDF good and the coronary disease is rampant -- still has the top 5 (including good ol' SC). We're just a shade under 30% obese adults.

To me, this is the next "Big Tobacco" lawsuit waiting to happen. Food addiction: the only addiction where you have to have the drug to survive, literally. You cannot run, you cannot hide, you cannot avoid. For years, the lawsuits against Mickey D's (for example) of the "I didn't know that eating all that crud would do this to me" -- yeah, I got peeved about those, even as an obese person. I'm purely in favor of some personal responsibility instead of the chant of "it's not my fault." But Big Food is lying to us as surely as Big Tobacco did for years, and they've done EVERYTHING they can to hook the next generation.

So what do we do to get them to see that it's not worth it if they help create a generation that won't live long enough to take their kids (let alone their grandkids) to Mickey D's for a birthday party? Or won't be a patron long enough to make it worthwhile? Why don't they get it?

Nutrition facts. Allow me to choose what I want to eat. I don't mind the "healthy suggestions" but give me the skinny, and let me decide. If it means I choose not to eat at your establishment, then so be it. Give me better options. But give me the facts first.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not again..... good Lord.

As is usually the case when I have an unexpected large loss, I had a gain this week. I detest when that happens. I am at the very upper limit for what WW considers maintaining goal weight (there's a little leeway available), but I want to be under that limit -- preferably at or under goal weight. So my happy butt is going to work extra hard this week to make sure that happens.

At least my thyroid test was normal. My heart rate monitor came in and works great. And my new MP3 player arrived today.

And my godchild turned 12 today. Good Lord, when did I ever get so old??