My progress...

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Does the camera really add ten pounds?

So I have been going along, losing weight, feeling pretty good about myself, but this week, two different things happened to remind me that I still have quite a ways to go.  The first is that I found myself in some pictures that my sister-in-law took at a family event, and when I looked at them, I thought, "Wow, that is NOT what I see when I look in the mirror!"  Isn't it amazing how your perception of yourself changes when you see a photo of yourself?  Yes, I have lost weight (26 pounds as of this morning!), but I still have plenty more weight to lose.

The second thing that happened is I started my on-line weight loss challenge.  This involves posting my stats on a private blog (so no link to it...sorry) each week.  My first post had my weight and height, as well as measurements of my bust (big), waist (big), hips (SO BIG), and thighs (interestingly, they are an inch different in size).  After seeing other people post "before" pictures, I decided to do the same thing.  I took a frontal and a profile view picture of myself in my bathroom mirror Sunday morning, and all I could think was that I was pretty darn lumpy.

Here's the interesting thing.  In the past, when I was in a less Zen place, this would have been enough to send me right to McDonald's or the Ben & Jerry's case at Wegman's, but I have been successfully following this new way of eating since January 4, which is almost FOUR MONTHS!  This is unprecedented for me.  I don't think I have ever gone this long without falling right off the bandwagon.

Anyhoo, let's get back to the good stuff.  As of today, I have lost more than 25 pounds!  YAY!  And in 1.6 pounds, I will have lost 10% of my initial body weight.  Also YAY!  At work yesterday, one of my co-workers made a Big Deal over the fact that I have lost weight.  It feels so good to have people notice!  And when I was holding an 8-pound baby at work yesterday and thinking that I had lost a bit more than three times that amount of weight, I couldn't help but think about how much pressure I have taken off my knees and ankles and how this is such a good start toward better health and fitness!

Today, I start my second round of W1 or C25K.  I sort of want to go out and try out W2, but I decided up front that I wanted to do W1 two weeks in a row, and I am going to stick with that.  I haven't jogged since Friday because I worked the last three days (and the twelve-hour shifts only leave room for sleep in my life), but for the last two days, I have been absolutely itching to get back on the treadmill.  I can't believe how obsessed I am with the idea of getting going on with this thing.  I am heading to the gym now, and I am really looking forward to my workout!

This week will be challenging because it is my birthday week.  On Thursday, I will be flipping over to a new year and turning 34.  YIKES!  I am planning a trip to the Farmers' Market on Thursday to buy all sorts of healthy foods (there is a stand that sells lots of local stuff that I want to check out, and I would also like to see if I can find some humanely-raised chicken and beef to try out), but I am also going to buy myself, at the Amish bakery, a whoopie pie.  They are among my favorite treats ever, and it will be my actual birthday, and I am planning this splurge.  I will only buy one (instead of the three I usually buy), and I will not buy anything else from the bakery (like the cream-filled donuts that they sell that are AWESOME but somehow involve lard, I think), but I am treating myself on my birthday to a whoopie pie.  My husband and I are also going to grab some dinner that night at our favorite local-ish sports bar, where they sell my favorite wings.  I usually get a dozen wings when I am there, and I love them.  I am not sure yet what I am going to go about that.  They do offer a half dozen option, so I could get that and a salad, which is probably what I will do.  I could skip the wings altogether, but I don't really want to.  And I definitely will not get the fries that usually complete my meal.

The second challenge is that my coworkers on Saturday are planning a little birthday celebration for me!  I am so happy to have such awesome coworkers who care enough to do this.  I work the weekend program in a NICU, and as result, two of my three shifts each week are spen with the same five women, all of whom I love.  It is so nice to truly be friends with the people that you spend the bulk of your work time with.  The other nice thing about them is that I can 100% trust in them as nurses, and that is important when you work in a NICU.  And we make an awesome team, which is also nice because you never have to worry about being left hanging when an admission comes through the door.  We all get together and get the job done, and we are good at what we do.  The fact that we have a lot of fun together is an added bonus to our great teamwork ability.  Anyway, there will be cake involved, but one of my coworkers is bringing in a fruit and yogurt parfait in a trifle bowl, because, as she put it, she doesn't want to sabotage my success.  How nice is it that she cares enough to do that?  Anyway, because my weigh-in day is Saturday for my challenge, I am not too concerned about Saturday because even if I do indulge a little bit, I have the rest of the week to "make up for it."

Anyway, gotta run (literally)!  Make it a great day!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

First of all, I would like to report on a milestone on my scale this morning.  I weighed in today at 249.8 pounds, which is officially 0.2 pounds less than my initial goal of 250 pounds!  I am so happy with this number, and I am now ready to set my next keeping with the "multiples of 25" rule, my next goal will be 225 pounds.  It feels SO AMAZING to have achieved something I have set out to do like this, and I find myself with renewed resolve as I head farther into this journey.

My Biggest Loser-inspired on-line weight loss challenge starts on Saturday, and I feel like I am in a great place for it.  When last we met, I had "finished" W1D1 of C25K, and I was discouraged by my experience.  I am happy to report that heading into the gym and onto a treadmill for W1D2 was the right thing to do!  By sticking to a slow pace of 4.3 MPH for the jogging segments and 3.3 MPH for the walking segments, I was able to jog all nine of the jogging segments.  I am much relieved by this because I really was feeling discouraged after that first attempt.  I am still planning to do W1 for two weeks in a row, as well as W2 for two weeks in a row, but I am looking forward to it now that I know I can do it.  W1D3 will be done at the gym tomorrow morning.  I am almost excited about it!

I have also been reading an inspiring book that will link this post to its title.  While rooting around on the "Health & Fitness" board on The Nest, I started hearing some rumblings about "clean eating."  I did buy a copy of Clean Eating magazine and do a little reading, and it's an interesting thought.  I don't know that I want to go completely "clean," but some of the information in the magazine was very easily translate-able to my life.  After looking through the magazine and then finding it available for my nook via the Free Library of Philadelphia, I decided to check out the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  I have never read any of her books, but the premise of this one (a non-fiction account of a year that her family of four chose to move to a farm in Appalachia and become "locavores") seemed very interesting in light of the changes I am trying to make.

I have been devouring this book!  Some people have mentioned finding her a little "preachy," but I am not finding this to be so.  I have heard preachy before (I am talking to you, Jeanette Walls!), and this is not it.  It is, on the other hand, fascinating information that I have always probably been slightly aware of but have never taken the time to consider.

For instance, let's talk about corn on the cob.  Love it.  Could eat it every day.  When Florida corn becomes available, I start buying it right up.  Eventually, I shift my corn-buying to local farmstands, but I don't let my enjoyment of corn be dictated by where I live.  When it comes to the supermarket, I buy it, with little thought to the place it was grown, what kind of farming practices they use, and how much energy it took for that corn to get off the stalk in Florida and on to my plate here in Pennsylvania.  In the back of my mind, I had the information to make me realize this, but I had not put it all together.

Now that I have, I am making a pledge this summer to buy all my produce (and also as much of my meat and eggs as possible) from more local sources (within the Poconos and Lehigh Valley area, let's say).  I know of a couple of good sources for this stuff and have just found another that I am pretty excited about.  My husband is also on board with the  idea, and I am looking forward to exploring these places and really looking at what's in season here in Pennsylvania and planning my produce consumption around that information.  So I thank Barbara Kingsolver for explaining this in a way that has brought it to the forefront of my mind.  I can't wait to see how good local tastes!

I also have, saved on my DVR, another recommendation from a variety of sources, Food, Inc.  I am not sure I am ready to tackle this one yet, as I am concerned that I will never want to eat McDonald's again.  And I really like McDonald's...oh, well - baby steps, right?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My W1D1 story...and some thoughts on what I eat.

So yesterday, as I had promised myself I would, I headed to the fitness and walking trail that is part of our county's recreation league to start out on this C25K journey.  I had never been to the trail before (it surrounds some soccer fields), but I had seen it from the highway, and I knew that it was relatively close to the county prison.  Because I know where the prison is, I figured it would be easy to find.

Well, it was easy to find.  However, reaching the parking lot was a little odd.  You have to turn in by this barn and follow this narrow road that goes right by the prison yard (complete with signs admonishing you not to talk to the inmates...luckily, none were in sight as I drove by) to reach the parking lot.  On the up side, the trail is not visible from the prison yard, so you don't have to worry about an audience.

I parked my car, got out and got my iPod all set up, and headed over the trail.  There were perhaps seven more people on the trail, but it's pretty long (about a half mile, I think), so I didn't worry about stares as people wondered what I was doing!  I was not able to jog all the "run" sections, but I still completed the workout.  I was able to jog four of the nine runs, and I know I can improve this.  I was very proud that I took this first step.

W2D2 is scheduled for tomorrow, and although I initially wanted to do these first weeks outside, I am rethinking that, and I think I am going to go to the gym tomorrow for my workout.  First of all, we pay $82 per month for my husband and I to belong to the gym that is closest to our home.  I have not been going often, and now that I have an exercise plan that I am setting out on, it just makes sense to go to the gym for it.  Secondly, when I used to run, I was mostly a treadmill runner, and I liked that.  I would run outside on occasion, but for the most part, I liked the treadmill.  And third, I want to be able to pay attention to how fast I am going in the run sections because I think keeping them slow will make me able to do more of them.  I am worried that I was jogging faster than I should have, and being outside, I had no way to gauge my speed.  On a treadmill, I can keep the runs at more of a "wog," and that should help with my stamina.  I am interested in working first on the amount of time that I can jog and then worrying about speed later.  So I think the treadmill might be the way to go for now.


I have done every diet out there, it seems.  I have a lot of information on low carb diets, low fat diets, low GI diets, high fiber diets, and a variety of other diets floating around up in my head.  I had some success with Weight Watchers in the past, but I find that to be very low calorie, and I have trouble sticking to that in the long term.  I have been doing nothing but calorie counting since January, and that has really worked for me.  However, I am noticing that I am getting a little looser with my eating, and I am thinking it is time to rein it in some.

The first sign that I was slipping was when I found myself in the drive thru at Sonic after work for the second time in a week.  I had enough calories left over for the day both days to enjoy some tots with cheese for dinner (I love these things!), so I indulged.  However, those are something that should be an occasional treat, not my dinner choice two nights in a week.

I also notice at home that I am relying on a lot of froze and convenience foods to build my meals.  I do buy some decent foods to bring to work for lunch, but when I am at home, I often find myself reaching for frozen foods or Easy-Mac or my stand-by of either a tostada shell or flour tortilla with cheese melted on it.  While I am staying, for the most part, within my calorie goals of 1600-1800 calories, I am not giving my body the best fuel available for it.  I would like to change this.

Next time I am out and about, I plan to grab an issue of Clean Eating magazine and do some perusal of what it means to eat clean.  I also want to work on getting some superfoods back in my diet, as I know that they taste great and pack a nutritious punch.  I don't expect to give up all of my convenience foods, but if I can replace some of them with something better for me, I will be better off in the long run.  And I hope that doing this will break the weight loss plateau I find myself on, especially since my challenge is starting on Saturday!  I am at my lowest weight since January, but it is only 0.2 pounds less than I was when I weighed myself on Friday morning.  However, any loss is good, and I will take it!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eat less, move more...

The fact that I haven't written a post on this blog in over 15 months should clue you in that I am, once again, not magically skinny!  In fact, on January 4, 2010, when I stepped on my scale in preparation for yet another New Year's resolution ("Eat less, move more."), I was at an even higher weight than last year's highest-weight-ever.  I weighed 274.6 pounds.  I am really hoping that no one who knows me in real life will read that number and realize just how fat I had gotten.  I mean, looking at me on that day, it was obvious that I was very overweight.  But in my head, because of my height, I carry it pretty well.  Of course, even carrying it well, 275ish pounds is a lot of weight to be carrying around.

When I think back to the time I signed up for eDiets when I was not too far out of college, disgusted with myself for hitting the weight of 221 pounds, I am amazed that I have gained over 50 pounds in the time since then.  Of course, 35 pounds of that was packed on during those years of nursing school, when dinner often involved Burger King or Wendy's, and I used sugary candies and regular soda to get through class.  If I weighed 221 pounds right now, I would think I was one hot chicky!  Unfortunately, I am not.

It's now the middle of April.  I have been consistently "dieting" (I put that in quotes because I know it is a lifestyle change and NOT a diet, but I lack another word for it.) for over three months.  I have lost, as of this morning 23.2 pounds.  I have not lost that much weight with any amount of success since belonging to Weight Watchers, which I believe was about three years ago.  

So how am I doing this?  Being the fan of technology that I am, I finally got a BlackBerry this year.  And one of the first apps I loaded on to this BB is the app that goes along with the website  It's a nice website, I think, but it's the app that I really like.  It has a considerable number of foods in its calorie counter, along with the ability to input custom foods.  It prompts you to weigh in each week.  It tracks whatever you want it to track (including WW Points, if that is your plan).  And best of all, when I put in that awful, high weight, it told me that I could eat 2500 calories per day and lose a pound each week.


If eating 2500 calories would lead to weight loss like that, what HAD I been eating?  On January 3, the day before I started my "diet," I decided to find out.  I will preface this by saying this was my third day of 12-hour shifts in a row.  I ate two breakfasts (a small one at home and then one in the cafeteria at work), a lunch from the cafeteria, and a fast food dinner.  This was not an unusual occurrence in my pre-"diet" days.  Three days in a row of working as a nurse for 12-hour shifts is EXHAUSTING.  My food intake often looked like this on such occasions.

On that day, I ate 3500 CALORIES.  I was shocked and appalled.  What a wake-up moment.  So THIS is why I was fat!  I understood!  That was a LOT of food!

I still didn't believe that 2500 calories each day would lead to weight loss.  But I also didn't think I needed to cut it back to 1200 calories each day.  I didn't want to set myself up to fail.  I decided to aim for 1600-1800 calories per day.  But the nice thing about having that 2500 calorie number in the back of my mind has been that, when I do overindulge, I don't hate myself.  I don't use it as an excuse to begin the descent into gluttony. I have successfully been able to get back on the horse and try again.

Here are some things I am doing:
  • I am taking Fridays, for the most part, off.  My mom and I bowl in a league on Fridays, and we eat fast food on those days.  If I eat "too much" that day and journal it on my BB, I know I will feel bad about myself.  Therefore, I don't do it.
  • Sometimes, I get derailed on the weekends, probably because of that day off on Friday.  However, even when I am not eating the "right" foods, I am still paying attention to portion sizes.
  • I have bought some new clothes in smaller sizes.  I was heading into a size 22 in jeans.  Actually, I was wearing a size 22 in jeans.  I am back in 20s.  And I have bought some shirts that are not plus-sized, although they are still XL and XXL.  My Old Navy bill is creeping up, but it's nice to wear clothes that fit my new size.
  • I eat a small bit of chocolate almost every day.  Right now, it is Hershey's chocolate eggs I got half off at CVS after easter.  I eat 2 or 3 or 4 of these over the course of the day.  I am satisfied by this.  I don't journal them.
  • I drink very little plain water.  I love the Wild Strawberry Crystal Lite individual serving packets, and I add them to bottled water.  I but bottled water because I like drinking out of the little bottles.  I know it's not environmentally friendly, and the BPA in the bottles might screw with my hormones.  The alternative is that I drink no water at all, and I don't want to have kids anyway.  Bottled water works for me.  I also drink a liter bottle of the Spleda-sweetened flavored sparkling water sold by most grocery chains.  It's like soda, but it's not soda.  I still have one diet soda most days, but it's not every day.  And it's not the 40 to 60 ounces of regular soda that I used to drink on a daily basis.
  • I really pay the most attention to calories.  Sometimes the calories come from salad and fruit and veggies and whole grains and lean meats.  Sometimes the calories come from a large Tots with Cheese from the Sonic drive thru.  If I have the calories for it, and it fits in with my calorie goals for the day, I let myself have it.  I would rather eat that "unhealthy" food and put it behind me than skip the unhealthy food and then binge on something else because I didn't eat what I really wanted.
In the coming weeks, some exciting stuff is planned out in my head.  First of all, I am joining a Biggest Loser-inspired on-line weight loss challenge.  It costs $15, and it is a ten-week challenge.  I heard about it on Facebook from a friend-of-a-friend (although we have known each other for over ten years now, so I guess she really is my friend too).  It has five weeks of team challenges, followed by five weeks of individual challenges.  I have a long history of (A) being competitive and (B) being motivated by money.  I expect this will be a nice way to build on the momentum I have gained.  I am also going to ONCE AGAIN take on the Couch-to-5K (C25K) challenge.  This is a nine-week program designed to get you off the couch and able to run a 5K.  I am planning to lengthen the duration of the program as needed to deal with the fact that I last ran for exercise sometime around 1999.  But I am going to lace up some running shoes and hit both the treadmill at my gym and the fitness trail that is run by my county's rec. department.  I plan to do the first couple of weeks outside on the fitness trail (it appears to be a cinder or stone trail, and it is nice and flat), and once I am able to run for more than 90 seconds at a time, I will be bringing it indoors.  This should coincide with the coming of summer here in the Poconos, and I will probably be ready for the air conditioning.

My goal through all this is to use this blog to keep me going.  Even if no one ever reads this, I will have this place to talk about what's working and what isn't working, how I feel, what I am doing, and how I am doing it.  I really feel that this could be the time that it works.

Please let this be the time that it works...