Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Day two at the gym.

I went in for Day Two at the gym. Look! I'm halfway to my goal for the week.

I now (sort of) understand the blue sheet B the T referred to yesterday. It's basically a spreadsheet-style log of my activity statistics (duration, resistance, pace, weight, reps...). When I got there today, she already had it filled out and ready to go, though she didn't show me the thing until after I'd completed the workout. I think that was a good move. I didn't feel defeated before I got started, and I felt totally rewarded after accomplishing everything she set out for me. I realize that this workout may not seem all that challenging to some, especially since many of the levels are rock-bottom, but it was perfect for me. I had to talk myself through some of it (see: arc trainer and sit-ups), but I was able to do it, which was more than I did yesterday. And I sweated my butt off in the process.

I look forward to the day I can look back at this and laugh at the ease of it.

  • Treadmill: incline 1, 3.3 and 3.4 mph, 15 minutes
  • Arc trainer: level 15, 10 minutes
  • EFX (elliptical): level 4, 10 minutes
  • Arm curl: 15 pounds, 2 sets of 10
  • Incline pull: 50 pounds, 2 sets of 10
  • Chest press: 15 pounds, 2 sets of 10
  • Overhead press: 10 pounds, 2 sets of 10
  • Abdominals: 35 pounds, 3 sets of 10
  • BOSU sit-ups: 3 sets of 10

This is my routine for the first few weeks, just so I can get used to working out. I'll do cardio each time and the weights one or two times a week, she says, but I'm going to shoot for twice a week. I'll add minutes or pounds or resistance or reps or something each time to keep myself challenged and moving forward. I'm feeling good about this.

In other news, I'm feeling good about tomorrow's weigh-in. I've done really well with staying within my daily points target, which I finally recalculated to reflect my actual daily activity (summer = sedentary). I'm now operating on a 30-point day. Not only have I eaten the right numbers, but I have eaten the right foods. I've made good choices even when it wasn't easy in favor of healthy, lean, and fresh foods. I've had only a few sweets and diet sodas, relatively speaking

Honestly, I'm afraid to get my hopes up for a big loss or any loss at all, but I have to remember that if I keep making progress like this, I am guaranteed to see the results eventually. And "results" aren't just numbers on a scale.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Introducing: B the T and the gym.

I met with Brittney the Trainer today at the gym, and it went well. She seems friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and thank heavens, not too judgmental. We sat down and talked about getting into the routine of coming to the gym and about not getting into the routine of doing the same workout over and over. We talked about goals. She had to write something down on her little paper that goes in my file, so we said my long term goal is to lose weight, even though I feel that doesn't exactly encompass the entirety of my motivation for being there. Since these goals have to be measurable, she seemed to think that 160 pounds is a good goal for me, which is ten pounds more than I had figured in my head, but that's fine with me. I'm not really working toward a number, but a lifestyle and state of health. For a short term goal, though, I didn't really want to put a number of pounds on it. We decided that, at this point, my goal should be just getting to the gym four times a week. Then she put me on some cardio machines.

This is where I should mention that, due a purse-switch and cruel turn of fate, I forgot my earbuds, even though I put together what I think is an awesome workout playlist. But I don't know because I didn't get to try it out. I did, however, try out the treadmill (15 minutes), the arc trainer (7 minutes), and the bike (10 minutes). The treadmill would be a lot better if I had my music, but I think it's a good place to warm up. The arc trainer was fun, but it kicked my butt. That's a good thing, though, right? The goal was to go five minutes or ten, if I could. Yeah. The bike was okay, though I wasn't feeling too challenged. My heart rate thought otherwise and stayed up while I pedaled away, so I guess it was doing its thing. I'm supposed to be figuring out which machines I like and can stay on for an extended amount of time. I kind of liked switching up.

Even though I could have skipped town tonight to go hang out with family overnight, which I've done for the entire long weekend, I made an appointment to meet with B the T again tomorrow morning. She's supposed to have a "blue sheet" (whatever that means) fixed up for me that outlines the routine that I'll work on for the next few weeks. I will roll up in there with some music this time. And yeah, and some deodorant. Oops.

After the gym, I hit up WalMart to pick up an extra pair of earbuds and some groceries. I cheated and went ahead and bought two pairs of pants to workout in. I won't consider them my cute, reward workout clothes, though. They're from WalMart, for pete's sake. But at the end of this month of going to the gym for four days a week, I'm going to find me a cute gym bag, too. I don't even know where to begin that search.

Speaking of buying clothes and things, let me leave you with huge victory I experienced this weekend. I've been having that defeated feeling when looking in my closet as of late. I have a few cute things that fit, but not much. So on Sunday, Mom and I headed to Kohl's and the mall to see what I could find. I didn't go on a shopping spree or anything, but I picked up a few cute tops and a dress that I am still not sure about. But can I tell you that these articles of clothing came from the misses section? Not the women's (aka, plus size) section. Misses! I have never in my life gotten clothes from the side of the store or an entire store meant for normal-sized people. (Though I realize now that I probably could have when I was a teenager and could have been a little more stylish. Oh, hindsight.) Now I still can't buy pants over there and I am only able to wear the largest size available, but who cares?!

Mom wanted to take a picture of me today, and I was wearing one of the shirts I got. The picture reminded me a lot of another one taken by my best friend when we were on a train in Europe three years ago. Until I looked at them side by side.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Going against the odds.

I joined a gym last Thursday.

I've been considering it for a few weeks now, especially since I've struggled so much with Weight Watchers this summer. I know I need to incorporate activity into the lifestyle I'm developing. I've tried a few things. I did Couch to 5K for two weeks. I have a Wii Fit and can sometimes get into a routine, but I don't feel like that's enough. I know someone who is currently being pretty successful with doing his own workout routine at home, but honestly, I wouldn't even know where to start. I don't really know how to do exercises properly or how much to do. Without direction, I would give up quickly.

So I went on the hunt for a gym. We have a few fitness options in town. There's the YMCA, Curves, another women's boutique-style gym called Elements, and Fitness Formula, which is owned by the local health foundation. It was actually a relatively easy decision. I narrowed it down to Elements and Fitness Formula pretty quickly. Elements has some nifty exercise machines that use card scanners to adjust to your personalized settings with just a swipe. There's a fancy-pants hydromassage bed and a sauna. They also offer some neat group classes. But the really good-sounding classes and use of the massage bed and sauna have added fees on top of the already exhorbitant $400 annual fee, plus a big initial fee. Fitness Formula, on the other hand, has an agreement with our Board of Education and will waive the $50 enrollment fee and chop 15%-20% off the membership, depending on how you pay. While Fitness Formula doesn't have super-swank equipment with swipey cards (though each treadmill does have its own TV), they do have specially trained, um, trainers who will work with me to develop goals and teach me how to reach them.

Obviously, I went with Fitness Formula. I have an appointment there with a trainer in the morning. We're going to sit down and work up a plan for me. I am only a little nervous, but mostly excited.

The only thing I worry about is the stigma of joining a gym. Not that I'll actually be going, but that I won't go. Everyone has a story about joining a gym and giving up and paying ridiculous amounts of money for a membership they never use. I am determined not to be that person. Luckily, Fitness Formula will also let a person join for just a month. That's what I did. I haven't already signed up for a year's membership. I want to, but I also want to prove to myself that I will do this for a month. Hopefully after tomorrow's meeting I will be able to outline some goals for the month, at the end of which I will go for the year membership and some decent workout clothes.

Thursday, of course, was also my Weight Watchers meeting. Again, the numbers were not what I wanted them to be. I had gained 1.2 pounds. I can still say that I've lost sixty pounds, but I have officially gained four weeks out of the past five. After the meeting, I was pretty upset with myself. I think it was the first time I've cried about this thing. (Okay, maybe not, but I did cry.) But after talking it through with myself on a silent drive to my parents' house and talking it through with a friend, I'm okay.

I am no closer to quitting than ever. The Q word doesn't even compute in my brain. I have had some doubts, though. Like, some (highly stupid) part of me will start to think that maybe this is all I can do, that maybe I've lost all the weight I can lose. I know that's a lie. I just have to problem solve. I can see the choices I've made, good and bad, and thankfully, I can see the results. Now my actions should reflect that.

I am sort of glad that I had a gain on Thursday. It was a reminder that I made the right decision by taking steps toward becoming more active and fit.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The guilt wagon.

I'm really good at spending so much time thinking about doing something that I have myself convinced that I am actually doing whatever it is.

I've done this with writing. Every now and then I go on these mental tangents during which I am convinced I have a writer trapped inside me. I think about writing books. I read books about writing. I even come up with writing schedules for myself. But do I write? Um, not really.

It has happened with reading, too. Big plans to read lots of books. Or going to graduate school.

The list goes on.

The truth, though, is that I am not really doing those things. As much as I think I want to, there's very little action taken to achieve these goals.

I'm working on becoming an active person. Yes, yes, the health and fitness thing, too, but that's not exactly what I mean. Though that is definitely related. I mean to say that I want to be the kind of person who chooses action over inaction. I'm pretty sure I'm the kind of person that people routinely want to grab by the shoulders, shake, and say, "Stop talking about it and just do it!"

Now, I have to admit that I have done very well at doing the actions necessary to get this weight-loss journey going. I didn't sit around and hem and haw about this one. I just did it. (Okay, so maybe I had sat around hemming and hawing for a decade or so. Whatever.) Six months ago, I decided that I could do this, and I started making good eating choices.

Sixty pounds later, I'm starting to see an old habit forming. These days, I feel like I'm thinking and talking about this lifestyle change more than I'm actually doing it. Granted, I am making better choices than I would have six months ago. I'm eating healthier and eating less. I think before I eat. I have formed great habits.

But I see them crumbling a little bit. My resolve is slipping. I make bad choices. The only difference between six months ago and now is that I know I'm making a bad choice when I do. I'm conscious of it. I feel guilt about it.

I don't want to be that person who says she's on a diet, but instead of eating well, she shovels in the unhealthy stuff all the while saying, "I really shouldn't be eating this."

That is incredibly obnoxious.

But that's who I've felt like lately. And it occurred to me yesterday that it's the very same as talking about doing something, but not actually doing it, like writing. Those days when I fall off the wagon and talk about getting back on it? I'm really just off the wagon, as much as I like to visualize myself on it.

I don't want to be on a diet, though. I don't want to be on a wagon. That's where the guilt comes from. I don't want to feel guilty for making bad choices. It seems silly.

I have to forgive myself and move on. I have to look back at what I've accomplished so far, which is a lot, and realize that I can do better than this wallowing. I am better than this. I have to grab myself by the shoulders, shake, and say, "Stop talking about it and just do it!"

Side note: Jack over at Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit is an awesome (entertaining, inspirational, hilarious, truthful) blogger, and today's post may or may not have something to do with my own.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Start ramble.

I woke up at 7:30 and went to the morning Weight Watchers meeting. My meeting is at a local church, and the afternoon meeting wasn't held this week because of VBS. I saw one guy I know at weigh-in. I was surprised that I was the only person from our group that came for the meeting. I guess people have real lives and can't just hang out for a morning meeting. Anyway, nothing against these morning people, but I much prefer the afternoon meeting. We're a lot more boisterous, and well, we are a family. Maybe that's too strong of a word. But I feel like my afternoon people care about me, and I care about them. I missed them today.

I missed them asking how I did on the scale. (Up 1.6 pounds.) I missed them telling me it's okay. (So I told myself.)

I'm not exactly sure why I gained this week, but I'm not surprised, really. I definitely stayed within my points, but I don't think I made the best choices. It was one of those hungry weeks. I ate and ate and ate and was never satisfied. I ate lots of chips this week. It's time to make friends with filling (high fiber) foods again.

And I don't know what is up with the getting up in the middle of the night and eating thing. I mean, I tracked whatever I ate, but it's not healthy or characteristic of me.

I went grocery shopping after the meeting. Lots of fruits and vegetables. I bought a whole pineapple! Such a better deal than buying the already-cut stuff. Cheaper and more fruit, albeit a pain in the butt to cut up. Also trying to rekindle my love of bell peppers. The yellow ones are so sweet. And nectarines! There's nothing like a ripe nectarine.

I have to start cooking more and eating fresh produce. That should be easy considering it's summer. I've just been lazy.

I'm also trying to move more. It's been too hot to do anything outside. As if I would have anyway... So I've been trying to get at least 30 minutes in on the Wii Fit each day. Rhythm Boxing is where it's at. Haven't done that yet today, but the day's not over.

I've really been slacking on the water intake. I have been drinking way too much soda. Yeah, it's diet and all, but I need water.

Okay, so this has just been a jumble. Let's recap in the form of a bulleted list of goals:
  • Drink less pop and more water.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Get 30 minutes of activity in each day.
  • Cook some new recipes.
  • Track everything.

I need more specific goals, don't I?

Some victories:

  • I went canoeing last weekend. It's nice being semi-active and doing things that I wouldn't have imagined myself doing before.
  • I bought a pair of size 20 jeans! This is super exciting.
  • I successfully fought off an eat-because-I'm-bored moment the other day by knitting. I'm working on super-simple baby blanket for the new baby in the family.

End ramble.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Compare and contrast.

I have a hard time seeing the change in my body as I lose weight. Other people can see it, but I just can't. I can feel it. It's hard to deny that when I can take off some of my jeans without even unbuttoning them. (Yes, it's time to go jean shopping.) When I did some sun salutations on the Wii today, I noticed how much easier it was to touch my toes than when I first started doing them. But when I look in the mirror, I just see me. The same me I see every day.

Today, though, I had to get a new driver's license. (Something about having moved to a different county and also registering a new vehicle. Yadda yadda.) I was all prepared. I was going to tell them my real weight, even though I know they don't print it on the license anymore and even though my actual current weight is about the same as my false previous weight. I also had enough foresight to snap a picture of the old license before I handed it over to the lady behind the desk.

She didn't ask for my weight, though, because the license wasn't actually expired. My new one is just a duplicate for the new county, she said. When she threw out the word duplicate, I was afraid I wasn't going to get to take a new picture. I was about to ask if I could take a new one when she prompted me to sit down in front of the camera.

So, uh, yeah. I can see what people mean. There is definitely a difference.

I can also see that I am still no good at smiling for pictures.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Uh, did I do that?

I'm not really sure how this happens. I go for a couple of weeks, barely losing weight or (more recently) gaining a bit, and then bam! I lose an ungodly amount in one week. When I weighed in today, I'd lost 8.2 pounds. I have never lost that much in one week, not even that first week when I lost seven-something. Maybe I should be excited, and overall, I am. I have now lost 64.2 pounds. (Holy crap, that's awesome! Like, more than 20% of my starting weight!) I don't want to seem ungrateful to myself or the program, but these drastic drops in weight freak me out a little. It's not supposed to happen like this, is it?

I am not depriving myself. Most days I eat close to, if not all of or more than, my daily points target. This week, I ate almost all of my 35 extra weekly points, thanks to my misbehavior at a friend's True Blood premier party. I ate out almost every day, some days twice. I have done practically no physical activity, unless you count that one little Wii Fit session this afternoon. That sounds like a week that should result in a loss of a pound, maybe two. But eight?!

I don't know. I'm not yo-yoing, so I guess that's healthy. My mom suggested that it might just be a big boost after a plateau. Maybe. This wasn't really a plateau, though, was it? It wasn't like I was doing everything right and my body refused to budge. I just spent a week trying to act better. Maybe this is my body's reward, and next week, maybe the change won't be so drastic.

Something I'm thinking about: When I calculate my daily points target, it asks if I spend most of the day sitting, standing, etc. When school was in session, I always marked that I stand most of the day. Now that summer's here, I am certainly lounging around more than anything else. Guess I should change my answer to that activity question, huh? The thing is, though, that would result in my previously having 33 daily points to now having 30 daily points. I lost one point because of the weight change, and then they would take two points away because I'm not as active. Something tells me that lowering my points that quickly isn't a good idea. Maybe I should just drop to 32 this week and see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My biggest challenge yet.


For me, it officially started on June 2, almost two weeks ago. That's when life lost all semblance of structure or routine, and I promptly lost the ability to discern what day of the week it is. I don't think it is a coincidence that, for the past two weeks, I've gained weight.

Two pounds.

I know two pounds is not much. I know. But it's not the right direction the scale is supposed to be going. And really, it's not about the scale. It's my attitude. For two weeks (or more, if I'm honest), I have cut loose. Maybe I've gotten cocky. There have been too many things to celebrate (really?), too many outings that I've let go unmonitored (why?!). I didn't track the entirety of Memorial Day weekend. FOUR DAYS. What has gotten into me?

And I know that people say I shouldn't be so hard on myself. But here's the thing: I am an excuse maker. This is something I know about myself. I can talk myself into or out of (usually out of) anything. And if I let myself make an excuse for one thing (event, person, meal), I am going to let myself make an excuse for every other thing. And the next thing I'll know, I will have excused myself from 365 days' worth of healthy behavior. Because there are an infinite number of excuses in my arsenal, and no day is immune.

So this week, I have been trying to cut back on the excuses. I haven't exactly succeeded each day, but I am doing better. I am trying to reestablish a little bit of structure and routine. I am learning to say no. I am tracking everything, every day. I am realizing that I need (and have) friends who don't help me make excuses for myself, and I am grateful for them.

I want to be healthy all of the time. Not just when it's easy or convenient or just an ordinary day. See, there's something I'm starting to realize: There's no such thing as just an ordinary day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hit and miss.

Miss. Week before last, I missed a Weight Watchers meeting for the first time ever. As a teacher, I'm obligated to work three athletic events during the school year, and I was scheduled for a softball game that night. I did not like missing the meeting, but...

Hit. When I returned last week, I had lost seven pounds. Seven pounds! Crazy. But it was definitely nice to know that I could hang in there without being dependent on the meeting. I'm not tempted to go rogue or anything, but my independent success was comforting.

Hit. The fifty-pound mark! I'm there! Or at least I was there last week. Very excited and somewhat flabbergasted by this milestone. That night at the meeting during the "awards" segment, I racked up two five-pound stars, a fifty-pound charm, and my 16-week Stay and Succeed charm. Woohoo!

Miss. So I started out so well with the whole Couch to 5K thing. That's probably what accelerated my loss. The first week of C25K, during which you're supposed to run a minute and walk a minute and a half, I didn't ever get to the point where I could run the minute every time. I decided to do Week 1 all over again, and as I progressed through the week, my stamina grew. By the end of the workout on Wednesday, I just knew I'd be able to do it Friday. On Friday, I got halfway through the workout and bombed. I couldn't go on, or so I told myself. I dragged my butt into the house and crashed on the living room floor under the ceiling fan, sweating and huffing and puffing. That was over a week ago. I haven't been back out since. Yeah, I know. I'll put that on my list.

Hit. I hate shopping. I've had very few pleasant shopping experiences in my life. Until last weekend. Turns out, Kohl's in my friend. I found teacher pants that fit! A size or two smaller! So now I don't have to look like a clown. I also found some really cute tops. A size smaller! And y'all, I bought dresses. Like, several of them. One of which I wore just the other night to see Avenue Q. I admit, I thought I looked so cute I had to take a gas-station-restroom self portrait.

Miss. Yeah, I'm doing a fantastic job of keeping this blog updated regularly. Maybe someday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some successes.

I recuperated my loss this week. Or my gain. Um, yeah. I gained .8 pounds last week, but this week I lost 1.8. I call that a success.

Speaking of successes, I have finished two days of the Couch to 5K program. That means I'm running. Okay, jogging. Okay, mostly walking. But I'm definitely moving. I'm a little scared to do the third day's workout because that means I'll have finished Week 1, and then it'll be Week 2. Part of me thinks we (Sarah and I) should do Week 1 again. I guess we'll see how Day 3 goes.

I can't believe I'm doing this. Running, or hopefully someday running. I never thought it'd be an activity I'd care anything about. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it just yet, but as I was telling a friend, I can really get my head around walking / running / jogging because it doesn't require specialized equipment (really) or a membership. It's adaptable to different environments, so there are very few excuses to be made for not running. Although I'm sure I'll come up with a few. Right now, I'd say my most likely excuse is fear of the program, that it'll progress too quickly for me. That's ridiculous, though. As Sarah and I discussed when we decided to walk one of the jogging intervals yesterday, we're not doing this to impress anyone. We're doing this for ourselves. So if I do need to repeat Week 1 before moving on, so be it.

In other news:
  • I'm still drinking mostly water. I still don't think I'm drinking enough. I'm probably only getting two liters in on a good day, maybe more. I can tell that the running has made me thirstier, though.
  • I'm also upping my fruits and vegetables. Petite baby carrots are awesome.
  • I'm going to try Almond Breeze as a milk alternative. Not that I've been having trouble with milk. Just thought I'd branch out.
  • I've been tracking all of my food and activity points.
  • My clothes are about to fall off. Seriously. I need to go shopping, but I don't know how to shop economically for transition clothes.
  • I did take my measurements a few days ago. Maybe I don't know what I'm doing, but the inches really aren't all that different than they were when I started. But that can't be right. See previous bullet.
  • I love love love Eggo Nutrigrain Low-Fat waffles for breakfast. Due to the Eggo shortage, it's been sort of difficult to get my hands on them. I've been without them for, like, two weeks now. Tonight, though, Kroger had them so I bought two boxes. Jackpot!

Okay, I need to go pack my lunch. Lately, I've been taking turkey and cheese (Laughing Cow!) on a sandwich thin and barbecue Baked Lays. I've added the carrots. I've been taking a Weight Watchers mini red velvet bar (one point), but I ran out today and decided to nix it. I also take an orange every day to eat during my planning period. Except today, there was a planning period meeting and it just didn't happen. I'm taking it back tomorrow.

P.S. Is it just me, or would it be nice if I blogged about something besides my weight, physical activity, and eating habits? Yeah, I thought so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A mole hill.

So it happened when I weighed in today.

I'd gained.

I know it's just .8 pounds, but it is a gain. I mean, I knew it was coming. There's no such thing as not having a setback or plateau. I just wasn't expecting it this week. I wouldn't have been surprised by a gain the past few weeks, but this week, I felt like I really had it together. I exercised a few times, which is a few times more than usual. I really stuck to water. And I've tracked the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the truth is that, after the insanity of this past weekend, there really hasn't been any ugly. In other words, I've been doing a pretty good job meeting the challenges I set for myself this week.

That's why I was surprised by the gain.

But I need to reevaluate. I need to realize that the surprise should be that I didn't have a gain sooner. After last week's unexpected five-pound loss, I think I can handle this tiny gain. After all, I've kept off most of those five pounds. Even after some really poor eating choices over the weekend. A realistic weigh-in is what I needed, now that I think about it. A reminder that I have to work for this.

So that's my goal now. Just to stick with it. To keep on keeping on. I don't want to fall into a negative mindset, and I know I'm vulnerable. Part of me thinks that I tried to make positive changes and it availed nothing. But it's just one week. Less than, really. It's not like drinking water and being active caused the gain.

When I got home from the meeting, I ate dinner -- leftover Chicken Enchilada Casserole from the new Hungry Girl 1-2-3 cookbook, which I will have to discuss later. I tracked it. I went for a walk. I filled up my water bottle.

I feel good about this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Three challenges.

Tracking. I am doing my darnedest to track everything I eat, even if I don't like what it does to the numbers. After eating festival food yesterday, things are ugly. But that's okay. I now know that I've blown all of my "flex" points. And then some. So I need to earn some activity points to get out of the red. I keep telling myself that the ugly truth is better lying to myself. It's more productive anyway.

Activity. We really hammered on getting activity in last week. I know I've got to get with it. Luckily, Weight Watchers is doing a Walk-It Challenge, the goal of which is to walk a 5K on or by June 6. That doesn't really seem like a big deal. It's 3.1 miles. Big whoop. But that's no excuse not to do it. So today I started a six-week training plan to work my way up to a 5k walk. It starts with just ten minutes a day and gradually adds minutes. Today was just too beautiful, so I took a walk around the neighborhood, which turns out to be a nice place for walking. Here's to getting out there again tomorrow -- and five days a week for six more weeks. Hopefully longer. But let's just take it one day at a time, shall we?

Water. I have been chugging way too much pop. Soda. Coke. Whatever you call it. Granted, it has all been diet, but even though it's calorie-free, it can't be good for me. When I woke up this morning, I knew what I had to do. I've gone all day and had only water, except for that first sip of Diet Sunkist I took when I knew I had to change my ways. I'm not swearing off everything except water, but I need to make it my go-to thirst-quencher. We'll see how this goes.

I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew in the way of challenging myself, but all three of these changes seem necessary at this point.

Some exciting developments: I have officially lost over 40 pounds, which means I'm in the 250s. That means I'll soon be under 250. This loss total has affected me emotionally more than any other yet. I haven't cried, though. Something tells me the waterworks will spring when I hit that 50-pound mark. Oh, and I bought a pair of size 22 pants for work this weekend. (On sale, of course. 50% off!) I know that size doesn't sound very exciting, but I honestly don't know when I last wore a pair of pants that size. I will definitely be rocking them this week.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

In the thick of it.

The last time I wrote was February 21? Oops. Yeah, I knew from the get-go I wasn't going to be good at this blogging thing.

Good thing I've been doing a much better job with the whole Weight Watchers thing, eh?

This is my twelfth week with the program. As of last Thursday, I'd lost 37.4 pounds. The website has finally stopped telling me I'm losing too quickly because, at the last two weigh-ins, I lost a combined total of one pound. Once it was -.4 and another it was -.6. I was okay with both of those numbers because I was certain I would have a gain each time. And I'm not going to lie, I don't expect much progress this week either.

I don't want to be negative. Really. I'm just trying to be realistic. Over the past few weeks (or the whole month, really), I've struggled to stick with the plan on weekends. I have gone a whole day without tracking my points. In a way, I feel like that's somewhat healthy, that I can function without plugging in numbers. The truth, though, is that I don't plug in the numbers because I know it's going to be ugly. As if not recording it means it never happened. Yeah, right.

If I want to be realistic, I have to take the bad with the good. Ignoring the bad won't make it go away. That should be my goal this week. Track what I eat, no matter what it is. Face the facts.

All this means that I'm in the thick of it now. I think the easy, puppy-love part of this is over. I now know what it's like to feel like I've messed up completely. But I also know what it's like to feel like I'm finally getting somewhere.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


So I haven't checked in as much as I would have liked to. This is the end of the trimester, and things are crazy. It's hard to find time to do anything, much less blog and pull my hair out as I try to get it to upload on a 19 kbps connection.

Grocery shopping and cooking have gone out the window, too. I was doing a really good job of preparing breakfast and lunch the night before to ensure that I was eating a variety of foods that I liked. I was having different kinds of fruit smoothies each morning and interesting salads and sides at lunch. It was good. I was enjoying myself. Now, I'm pouring a boring bowl of Total raisin bran for breakfast and getting burned out on hot dogs for lunch. I know it's time to spice things up, but it takes time. Time that, for one reason or another, I can't find.

I'm in a slump.

Not a weight-loss slump, though. As of last Thursday, I've lost 19 pounds. That's almost twenty whole pounds! I can feel it in my clothes. I'm switching out baggier jeans for better-fitting ones. Students have even asked if I'm losing weight. I am.

Maybe too much. Okay, let me rephrase that. I'm not in any kind of danger of being underweight, that's for sure. But last week, when I entered my loss into the website, it told me I was losing weight too quickly. That I needed to slow my loss. Something about health concerns, irregular heartbeats, yadda yadda.

I'm not going to lie. That was sort of discouraging. I mean, can't I do anything right? That's what I'm asking myself. I know, though, that the faster I lose, the faster it could come back. And heaven knows I don't want it to come back.

That week, Nancy asked us if we ate one meal a week where we didn't worry about points. Again, there were a lot of people nodding, but not me. That's when Sarah threatened to whack me in the head and then said something about deserving to enjoy myself every once in a while. Or something like that. But the truth is that I was enjoying myself. But I also knew that I was losing weight a little too quickly, so I thought I would try out the no-rules weekly meal.

I tried it, but I'm not sure if that helped. Me I still lost 1.4 last week, but I just didn't feel good about my progress. I was proud of the loss, but the week's behavior didn't feel very healthy.

I'm losing enthusiasm, and I'm worried. I know it's irrational, but I'm starting to doubt if I'll ever be at a healthy weight. I know that there will be a plateau soon, and I'm scared that I won't be able to push through it.

Today, the road seems longer than ever, and pulling off completely to go through the window at McDonald's has never been so tempting. Damn that singing fish.

A small victory: I tried on clothes in a dressing room without having a total meltdown. I even tried on a bathing suit top and was able to envision a time when I might be able to wear it. It was cute.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thirty seven points.

I like counting points. This surprised me. I've heard people complain about the point-counting in the past as if it were the worst thing ever. Even at the first meeting, our leader was discussing tracking, which is what the counting is officially called in Weight Watchers Land, and several members expressed frustration with the process, that they didn't like it or that they would always forget to do it. Needless to say, I was a little ambivalent about the points going in.

But at the same time, I figured it would be the points that would help me. It would give me a guide for healthy eating and portion sizes. That's exactly why I thought this would work. I didn't dictate exactly what I was eating. (Which is what I define as a diet. It's true: Weight Watchers isn't a diet. It's a tool for lifestyle change. At least that's what it seems like so far.) I just had to follow the points. If I blew 20 points on a large-portioned, high-calorie, high-fat food, so what? I just wouldn't have that many points to eat on later when I got hungry. I have never actually done this, but my understanding of the concept alone has given me an improved decision-making process.

Knowing that many people seem to struggle with the points, I started the very next day diligently managing and budgeting and tracking points to the finest detail. I wouldn't put a bite in my mouth without figuring out the points value (thank God for the iPhone app) and logging it. It became fun, like a puzzle. I make all of these pieces fit together: What can I eat, how much, how filling will it be, and most importantly, how good is it going to taste? Obviously, this takes some planning.

Four weeks in, I'm finding that I'm not as insane about the points now as I was in the beginning. It's not that I'm not tracking because I am, but I have a pretty good idea about what I should and shouldn't be eating. And of course, I know the point values of the foods I eat regularly. So I feel comfortable tracking after I've eaten the meal, but not too long after or I will forget. I've only accidentally gone over my daily points once, and that was because it was weigh-in day. I was still operating on a 38-point day, and since I can't log my weight on my phone, I didn't do it until the next day at my work computer. That's when my loss put me in the new points category of 37. But that's no big deal. The program allots everyone an extra 35 weekly points to be used whenever. I haven't really used these yet, and no, they don't roll over. But they are there if I need them. Most days, I actually have a hard time getting all of my points in. I guess that's because, due to my weight, there are just so many of them.

So what do these hypothetical points look like in practice? I'll show you. Even though today is a snow day and I am able to cook at home, this is typical for me.

Breakfast. This morning, I made a smoothie. I used to be anti-smoothie. I don't know, they just seem so hip and diety that I they turned me off, but when I got burned out on my Fiber One cereal (Honey Clusters, not the rabbit food-looking one), I had to try something new. By the way, maintaining variety in what I eat has to be one reason that I'm sticking with this so well.

Every smoothie I make has the following ingredients:

1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt (1 point)

1/4 cup fat-free milk (1/2 point)

1/4 no-sugar-added applesauce (1/2 point)

1 medium banana (1 1/2 point)

Today, my other ingredient was a cup of no-sugar-added frozen sliced strawberries (0 points). I have used a cup of frozen blueberries (1 point), half a fresh mango or 3/4 cup frozen mango chunks (1 point), or a tablespoon of natural peanut butter with flax seed as the flavoring (3 points). It's all good, but I think the frozen mango is my favorite. (The WalMart I went to last didn't have the mango, though. Duly noted.) Also, I am not very good at determining the size of these smoothies. I usually put it in a Solo cup with a sandwich baggie over it and refrigerate for the next day, but like today, I had about a half a cup left over. I refrigerated it later for a snack, which sounds good about right now, and it's nice because the points are already figured in.

Fruit smoothies are surprisingly filling, but especially on a work day, I have to drink it with a half-cup of low-fat granola cereal (3 points). Then I'm good to go until lunchtime.

Lunch. Lunch has been the most torturous meal of all. I think I've got things sorted, but in the beginning, I couldn't figure out what to take that wasn't totally depressing (those little tuna kits, for example) or time consuming (like the frozen dinners). Thanks to my librarian friend Tammy, I have been introduced to the wonder of 98% fat-free turkey hot dogs and whole grain buns. Just the other day, though, I accidentally discovered the lunch meat magic of Canadian bacon.

I took this meal to lunch the other day along with what I call a Fake Olive Garden Salad, and I barely touched the salad. According to the online point tracker, Canadian bacon is one point per slice, but they say the most accurate way to figure points is to use the points calculator. You plug in the calories, fat, and fiber per serving and it gives the value. I swear, according to the nutrition facts of LandOFrost Canadian bacon, five slices equals one point. I know!

5 slices Canadian bacon (1 point)

5 Zesta whole wheat crackers (1 point)

1 wedge Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Original Flavor Cheese (1 point)

Spread some cheese on the cracker, fold a slice of the Canadian bacon on top, and voila! I mean, it's really good. I was totally full after the five mini-sandwiches. That was noon, and I'm just now (about 4:00 pm) getting ready for a snack.

NOTE: Clearly I am not being paid by any of these companies to promote their brands. For the most part, I just buy whatever WalMart or Kroger has for the best price. But let me tell you, Laughing Cow cheese is the best stuff ever. Go. Buy some now and see what I mean.

Dinner. First of all, before I committed to this program, I ate out five or six nights a week. I am not exaggerating. My family regularly meets for supper at our local family restaurant, where I would usually eat a chicken strip dinner with fries, toast, and sometimes gravy, and about one night a week, I'd do dinner with Sarah after school, a trip that would usually feature the Dairy Queen drive-through window. Now let me say this: All of this could be done in accordance with the Weight Watchers program. It would involve some better choices in food and portion sizes, but I just don't yet have that sort of self-control. If I'm at a restaurant where they serve something I like, that's what I'm going to order, and if the food's there, I'm going to eat it. I will be able to eat out more in time, I know, but now, I have to manage my environment.

So I'm learning to cook, thanks to the recipes on the Weight Watchers website and the ones shared at our meetings. There have been some disappointments, for sure. Like the Cheesy Chili Mac, which despite the chili powder and Mexican-style stewed tomatoes had no flavor whatsoever. And I’m still not sure about those yellow-cake-mix-and-pumpkin cupcakes. But there have been some successes. Like the Enchilada Soup. I made this a few weeks ago after copying the recipe from that week's meeting. I made it on a snow day, and it hit the spot. Who cares about the point values here? This soup is good, and that's why I'm having it for supper tonight.

2 cans of 99% fat-free chicken broth

1 1/4 cup celery, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

3 cans green enchilada sauce

1 can pumpkin

10 ounces cooked chicken

1 cup frozen corn

Simmer celery and onion in broth until tender. Stir in enchilada sauce and pumpkin. Return to low boil and add chicken and corn. Cook additional five minutes.

I know. Pumpkin? Well, it adds color and thickness. You can't taste it at all. Oh, and the last time I used Tyson frozen "grilled" chicken, but it had a fake grilled flavor that I didn't particularly like. This time I used the oven-roast diced kind. Those bags of frozen chicken have 22 ounces in them, so I just estimate a little under half and freeze the rest. This is way easier that actually cooking the chicken, and something tells me you could use canned or package chicken, too. For the corn, I used two single-serve Birdseye SteamFresh packs of sweet corn.

One cup of this stuff has a value of two points. I'll probably have two cups throughout the evening. I may be tempted to throw some fiesta cheese on it, but I tell you, it's not necessary.

If you've been counting along at home, you will know that I will have only used about fourteen points today. That is way under target and definitely not intentional. I usually eat between 30 and 35. I may have to crack open a can of black beans to go with my soup. And you can always count on my eating chocolate every day. I often have a Betty Crocker Warm Delights Mini Molten Chocolate Cake (3 points) with a cup of milk (2 points). I definitely need to get more fruits and vegetables in.

It's a learning process, for sure. The good news is that there is no food police. Right now, it's easy to stay a little under or reach my point target, but hopefully there will come a day when my point target is much lower. It will probably be more challenging to maintain. But it's one day and one week at a time. It's not like I'll walk into my meeting tomorrow and someone will tell me I will only have 20 points from now on. It's a gradual change, and I'll be ready for the changes as they come.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

My choice.

Another question that Nancy asked on Thursday night went something like this: "Does what happened yesterday have an effect on how well you do today?"

I think the implication was that if we had "blown it" one day, were we less likely to "succeed" the next day because we already felt defeated? (I generally hate it when people put words in quotation marks because it's not usually necessarily, but here, I think it is. What does it really mean to screw up or to succeed?) I looked around, and many people nodded their heads. I wasn't nodding. It wasn't that I'm just that darn positive that I don't let my failures affect my actions (or inactions). It's just, well, I hadn't blown it yet. I suppose my previous days were affecting me, but it was because I was doing well. I expected to do well the next day.

That's when I knew I had to be careful. I was surprised by how many people seemed to think they messed up frequently. This didn't bode well for me. I'm going to have bad days.

Each week when I weigh in (a process I am surprisingly not intimidated by), I am told my loss for the week, given a sort of newsletter that focuses on the week's challenge for everyone on the program, and handed a booklet tailored specifically for my week with the program. The book for week four is Habits of Successful Members. These little books focus on issues that members face as they work through the program and usually include quizzes that help us understand ourselves and the program a little better. It sort of reminds me of takings those quizzes in Seventeen when I was in middle school, except these are much more enlightening. This week, the quiz helped me identify the healthy habits I should work on developing.

The results were no surprise, but I find it comforting that the quiz got it spot-on. It said learn from experience and manage your thoughts. These are both things I've known for a long time are struggles for me.

Take learn from experience for example. I think this one has a lot to do with worry, in my case. I tend to expect the worse, but what in my experience has shown me that the worst will happen? Nothing. Things turn out okay, as a general rule. Also, I have to look at successes from the past, determine why I was successful, and practice those behaviors. When I do this, I find myself looking back at how my lifestyle was drastically different in Honduras, where I seemingly effortlessly lost over thirty pounds. I drank almost exclusively water. I walked everywhere I went. I ate very lightly, and I'm not sure I had anything fried at all. For example.

The managing the thoughts one, on the other hand, seems more relevant right now. I think for most people, though, negative thoughts involve body image. I often read advice saying that you wouldn't look at your friend and tell her that she has a huge butt or a disgusting figure, so why would you say that to yourself? Even I have a hard time believing this, but I don't always have a negative inner monologue when I'm looking in the mirror. Now, put that mirror in a dressing room, and things change a bit. But really, I don't toil over my appearance all that much. My personal inner monologue of negativity is instead about my abilities.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I doubt myself. I have a hard time making even the littlest decisions because I'm afraid I'll make the wrong one. When people make the general statement, "You are your biggest critic," they are actually talking to me. I expect the worse, and even when things turn out okay or even good, I find something about what I did to pick on in hindsight. Like teaching. My students, coworkers, principal, and various observers can tell me all day long that I'm good at my job, that I'm a good teacher, but I don't believe them. I don't know if I will ever believe them. Because as I tell myself, I know better. Either they are just trying to be nice or their standards are lower than mine. I'm that kind of negative.

Even after the first week of Weight Watchers when I weighed in and discovered I'd lost over an astounding seven pounds in one week (more than I weighed when I was born), instead of being proud I tried to downplay it by saying that it just goes to show how much I have to lose. Luckily, Sarah set me straight and basically told me to shut up and be proud. I tried.

So my big challenge here is believing that I can do this and, even more intimidating, that I can keep it off, because it's not like I’m just trying to lose five pounds to fit into a dress here. While I haven't really had a bad WW experience that has adversely affected the subsequent day, I have a discouraging experience that may impede my overall progress. Remember that weight I lost in Honduras? I gained it all back. Plus some. Which sounds exactly like those stories I hear almost daily about people who lost weight. This is the negativity that keeps nagging at my mind: So what if you lose it? You'll just gain it all back.

But I have to be realistic. I did not set out to lose that weight in Honduras. It wasn't a choice; it was circumstance. I was changing with my environment by necessity. I'm not very good at imposing imaginary restraints on myself, so once I got home, I couldn't convince myself that water was the only drink available to me, that I didn't have a car to drive, and that there wasn't anything to eat except beans, rice, and some tuna and crackers every now and then. Yes, that's how I had lived for those two months, and obviously, my body changed. But I didn't really choose to be healthier.

This, though, is my choice. I am choosing to live healthier. I am working on developing new habits that fit into my lifestyle. My lifestyle is changing when it comes to eating and activity, but I want to make these changes here with the people, places, and thing that I love. Not in some temporary reality.

This morning, I slept later than I have slept in a while, probably since I started the program. And again, if you know me, you know I love to sleep late. But when I woke up at 10:30 this morning, I had an immediate feeling of dread, as if I'd blown it yesterday and fully expected the same for today. I was still in that hazy half-sleep, so it didn't even occur to me that I was feeling this way because I'd slept away a chunk of the day and regretted it. Instead, I interpreted it as having failed the program in some way. Yeah, Weight Watchers. What the heck does that have to do with sleeping in a little? I don't know either. At least now I have my wits about me.

The truth is that yesterday was a really good day. It was probably the first day that I wasn't constantly aware that I was following a plan, but I did follow it. I spent most of the day with a group of knitters, spinners, and weavers hanging out working with fibers. I had brought my own lunch (a really good chicken and orange salad and my new favorite, Laughing Cow cheese) rather than eating the good-looking food prepared at the convention center, but that was okay. I did not feel deprived. I think it was mostly because I was intentional about eating well, rather than leaving my choices up to circumstance, and I focused on enjoying the day, doing something I love and meeting new people who love it, too. I chose to have a good day. So I did.

I am choosing to live healthily. So I will.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The longest road.

I have been on the Weight Watchers Momentum program for three weeks, and according to Erin, it's time to blog this thing. So here goes.

Tonight, our meeting leader Nancy asked the group what our "fed up" moment was. When did we know we couldn't take it anymore? One lady said it was when she had to alternate between two pairs of jeans, washing them every other day, because they were the only ones that fit her. Huh. I've been doing that for years. Heck, I'm down to one pair now. Another said it was when she had a hard time getting up from the floor after playing with the children at the day care where she works. I can definitely identify with the awkward struggle to get to my feet, but it's never been embarrassing enough to spur change.

There's no pressure to share during the meetings, which is good, because I couldn't bring myself to say mine, the moment in which I knew I could not gain another pound. The moment when I'd reached my limit. I couldn't say it out loud, but I'm going to write it. Just typing it into this Word document has got my heart racing. Never mind that I'll be copying and pasting it onto blog for all the word, if it so chooses, to see. That will be another hurdle. Anyway.

I don't know why I decided to step on my bathroom scales. They've never been my friend. But for some reason and with much trepidation, I did step onto them about two months ago. And when I did, that little red hand -- I kid you not -- swung completely around the dial. All the way from zero to 300.

Surely my eyes had deceived me. The little adjustment wheel must've been tampered with. I stepped off, made sure it was set exactly on zero, and stepped back on. No change. Three. Hundred. Pounds. There it is.

Okay, maybe I've been in denial. Or maybe all this time I've been under the wrong impression of what 300 pound looks like. But when I envision a 300-pound person, it doesn't match up with what I see in the mirror. I mean, I know I'm fat. I always have been. (Except maybe on the day I was born. That was a very acceptable 7 pounds and one ounce, thank you very much.) It wasn't that I was shocked I had gained the weight. I was never under the impression that I was losing or even holding steady. But me? Weighing 300 pounds? That dark number that is definitely the unspoken barrier between overweight and Fat, with a capital F? Apparently so.

So when my teacher friend Sarah came up to chat with me while I was doing my morning hall duty and mentioned that she was going to join Weight Watchers and asked if I would like to join her, I knew what I had to do. She said that, of course, one has to have the right mindset to make this sort of commitment. This is normally where I would hem and haw and say, "I don't know…" Not this time. No. I had already done all the thinking I had to do. I was ready, and here was my opportunity to make a change. The change.

Mind you, I've been looking for this opportunity all my life. I've never been a dieter. I did try a Christian weight-loss program for a while when I was in high school and there was that freak accident in which I lost 30-something pounds while in Honduras for two months, but other than that, my life has been a steady weight-gain from Day One. I've always been too skeptical of diets and programs that I know aren't going to become lifestyles. I mean, who's going to eat only grapefruit every day for the rest of her life or never eat bread or potatoes again? Not me, that's for sure. Why try if I know beforehand that it won't be for real? You may go ahead and translate my skepticism as an excuse for laziness. Even if those so-called plans don't really work, it's not okay to pack on pounds day in and day out like I have for 26 years. So I admit it. My logic wasn't altogether flawless, but I did have a point.

In Weight Watchers, though, I've found something I think I can handle. This is just three weeks in, so I know the program and I are still in the honeymoon phase. I know things will get more challenging. I am learning, though, and that's everything. I’m learning to see food differently, to make better choices, to cook, for heaven's sake! (Talk about giving a man a fish and feeding him for a day versus teaching him to fish and feeding him for a lifetime.) I also know that I need to learn to see myself differently. That's where I need the most work.

So I know I've made a big deal about the number 300 (300.6 to be exact, according to my Week 1 weigh-in), but as my friend Jenny frequently tags her tweets: I am not my weight. If and when I lose the pounds I need to lose, I will still be me. Being thinner will not make me a better human being. Being heavier than I am now will not make me an unworthy person. But what I've decided is this: I may not be my weight, but my weight reflects the way I see myself. If I care about myself -- because if I don't, who will? -- I cannot treat my body the way I have been. This unhealthy and uncomfortable state I've gotten myself in shows how little good I've expected for myself. And I'm learning that I have to expect good things in my life. Again, if I don't expect them, who will?

Stay tuned to read more about where I've come from, where I'm going, and most importantly, where I am. I will have successes, failures, revelations, breakdowns, and certainly oodles of stories about navigating the POINTS system, learning to cook, and getting active.

It's going to be a long road, but if I've learned anything from experience, life is about the journey. I'm not looking for shortcuts.

Today's victory: I found out that I lost 2.6 pounds this week for a total of 11.4. That means I earned my second 5-pound loss sticker. I now weight 289.2, which puts my new daily POINTS target at 37.