Archive for March, 2013|Monthly archive page

Another motivating metric

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 21, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I have lost more than 55lbs this past year but still have a ways to go. I have finally broken the pattern which I had since the thanksgiving holidays of losing and then regaining the same 10lbs over and over again. I am solidly losing again and I can see my body changing shape again. Yay!

Perhaps I have a masochistic bent or something because this morning I thought, hmmm, let’s find out if I am still considered obese. Well….. I am!

I was curious how doctors calculate that fact. They do so via BMI. I learned about it on this website.

If I had wanted a short term weight loss solution I could have done the rigid 12step food program that I used to lose a ton of weight before, but it was actually one of the most unhealthiest times of my life (and I have had some unhealthy times, let me tell you.)

Losing the pregnancy weight (and then some) has been a journey to discover a healthy lifestyle so that I can model one for my daughter. I have been trying many different approached this past year and overall, have found success. Forty pounds to go!

Back to BMI, even though I was in the obese category, it didn’t make me feel like a loser (surprisingly). It just made me happy I have a plan to keep losing extra fat. It is another tool in my healthy living toolbox.


Really bad advice

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Okay so this is some really bad (unhealthy) advice BUT if you are really hungry and don’t want to eat actual food, drink coffee, it’ll curb your appetite. Such unhealthy advice, I know. Let me contextualize it.

Say you have eaten more than enough at a meal but you still want more. You know you are either just “eye-hungry” or “mouth-hungry” or emotionally eating or all of the above but you’ve had your fill and gotten all the calories and nutrients that you need for that meal. Have a cup of coffee with even a little milk and sugar, if that is how you drink it. The hungry really does subside for several hours. I am always amazed how well this trick works.

Now there is a whole lot wrong with this advice, not to mention that it borders on anorexia-type tricks if you use coffee to replace actual meals and needed calories/nutrients. For instance, caffeine is not that great for you even if there have been some studies on performance: to me, being a slave to any substance, even just caffeine, isn’t great. (I have never tried this trick with decaf.). Plus, I would like to think that you shouldn’t have to or need to use anything to suppress hunger, coffee included. You should be able to eat when your body says it is hungry and stop when it is full. But, in my case, 40lbs or so left to go after losing 55lbs, I still haven’t regained a good hungry-full balance yet.

Someone long ago told me about how models and actresses use this coffee/appetite-suppressing trick. I certainly don’t want to take too many pointers from those in industries where women do all sorts of unhealthy things to lose weight. But a cup of joe once in awhile after a meal when I know I want more for other reasons than nutrition, well, maybe that is okay. At least today after lunch it is.

Drink your water early on in the day

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 18, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I know you know that drinking water helps you lose weight. It fills you up so you eat less. It hydrates you. It gives you more energy. It helps you think more clearly. It helps with stream-lined elimination processing (pooping). It helps wash out toxins. It helps the body distribute nutrients. I am sure you can find a host of other reasons and studies on the importance of drinking enough water and why.

On the app I am using to track my calories it has this handy water intake tracker as well. Before i started tracking my water I looked on a variety of websites to determine how much water I should be drinking. There is differing recommendations but it seems for my body weight, height and activity level (active) I should be drinking about 72oz. No problem, I thought! I am one of those bring-a-water-bottle-along types.

But after tracking my intake for more than a week I have learned that I only reach my goal if I start early on, in the beginning of the day. If I wait until mid-morning, my intake for the rest of the day is low. Who knows why, maybe I am sluggish from not having enough water so I don’t make the effort to drink more! But, since I feel remarkably better and my intake is much improved if I began the day with a glass of water, I thought I would pass this tidbit onto you.

Exercise for mental health, not weight loss

In Random Thoughts, Schmexercise, Uncategorized on March 17, 2013 at 5:30 pm

A friend visited a few months ago and she explained to me that she needs to exercise everyday for her mental health, not her physical health. Over the winter holidays she was traveling and visiting family and her exercise regime really suffered. She was surprised by how much inactivity bolstered depression and anxiety. This is anecdotal of course but there are tons of studies linking exercise with improved mental health (check out the mayo clinic, science daily, etc.). My friend frames her exercise routine as a must, as her daily medicine.

This outlook is pretty radical to me. I usually start exercising solely to lose weight. I do crazy things like run marathons and go on long back packing trips to be “able” to eat lots of food! If I exercise there must be a goal involved and be an all-encompassing time-intensive pursuit.

After my friend headed home I thought well, why not try to approach exercise for mental and physical health? I wanted to try a routine that was practical and something I could do with the baby. I tried dance classes at the gym but I didn’t like the baby care and with the driving and packing for the outing, it proved to be too much to do every day or even every few days. I loved the classes though and think when the baby gets older I will try to incorporate a couple a week into my routine.

On Facebook a friend posted rave reviews of the Couch to 5K app. It guides you through a run/walk, three day a week, regime culminating in you being able to run a 5K in about 8 weeks of training. I haven’t really run since running the NYC marathon…. in 2001!!!! I am also carrying around at least forty extra pounds. And I can do this! I highly recommend the app, and it is free.

Like the best of technology, it really makes exercising into a no-brainier. I put the baby in her stroller (and it isn’t a fancy jogger stroller FYI so don’t let not being able to afford one of those stop you) and head somewhere flat. Then I walk when the voice says walk and run when the voice says run. It is challenging for me because I haven’t been a runner in so long but it is doable and it always is over just when I think oh man I can’t do this any longer!

One of the best parts of using a program like this is I am not over-doing the exercise and burning out. Three times a week I can handle. I am on week five right now.

I also hike with a moms group once a week so I am exercising four out if seven days. This is pretty radical for someone who hasn’t exercised in years….

So have I experienced a boost in mental health? The truth is, I think so but can’t quite tell. What I have felt is increased energy. Why is it that something that takes up energy gives you more of it? I would love to know. I have also felt an increase in my libido which is definitely good for my mental health, not to mention my marriage!

There are definitely days when I don’t feel like doing the running, for sure. But something about saying to myself, this is non-negotiable, this is your mental medicine, really cuts through my excuse-making mental b.s.

The Relief Found in Calorie Counting

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm

I was really hesitant to use the calorie tracking app My Plate by Livestrong because I was worried that using it would make me obsessive about food – constantly thinking about what I ate, what I would eat, etc. In fact, it has been liberating!

I think when I am “dieting” I really overly-deprive myself. When I lost 100lbs before I certainly was in starvation mode and had very, very little energy. This app calculates your daily calorie goal for you based upon how rapidly you want to lose (I choose a 2lb per week rate, the highest they let you lose). Turns out I have way more calories to eat daily than I would have ever thought, especially if I exercise.

Tracking my calories frees me from guilt. As long as I stay within my allotment, I can eat what I want (I tend to prefer to eat healthily with treats every now and then. ) Before I would have felt so guilty having Cheerios at the end of the day or a a slice of cake to celebrate a friend finishing her masters degree, but now that guilt is absolved. I think when I would diet and have planned treats I would tell myself they were fine but still carry guilt around them. Couple this with the fact I probably was eating too few calories: no wonder dieting felt miserable!

This is my sixth day using the app. I will let you know tomorrow if I have lost the promised 2lbs.

Another eating lesson from my 13month old

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 12, 2013 at 4:28 pm

My thirteen month old has this marvelous mechanism: she eats when she is hungry and she stops eating when she is full. Radical, I know! Her momma lost that fine-tuned ability (for the most part) years ago.

As I ponder how to regain understanding of what my body needs when and how much, one theme emerged: my daughter knows there will always be more food. Now of course I know (and am grateful) that we don’t worry about where the next meal is coming from. But when I eat food, especially food I really like, I eat as if I will never get a bite of it again! Even the most special treat, say a piece of birthday cake, is not a once-and-never-again event. There will be more birthdays, not to mention the leftover cake for the next day haha!

As I work through calorie counting and food experimentation to find the balance that works and feels best in my body, thinking about these mental/emotional behaviors around food is helpful too on this journey to finally lose the pregnancy weight. Baby steps brought to me by my healthy baby with healthy eating habits!!

iPhone app for weight loss?

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 11, 2013 at 4:08 am

A friend texted me today that she found a great new app that she loves for losing weight. It is called live strong and costs $2.99. Years and years ago I did weight watchers which had me track everything I ate. It felt obsessive, like all I did was think about food, so I hesitated to check out the app my friend recommended but I went to the App Store anyways.

The livestong my plate app is super easy to use. First you enter your personal info and personal goals (like one pound weight loss a week, two pound, gain weight, etc). Next you enter everything you eat (they have a very large database). You also track your water intake. When you exercise you are awarded more calories. It is easy to use and there appears to be more features like forums that I haven’t checked out yet.

I figure that if I am not following a particular diet program anymore it can’t hurt to know how many calories I am ingesting. I just have to be very careful that I don’t become obsessive and overwhelmed!!

Some psychology around self control

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 10, 2013 at 4:34 am

I am taking a couple of psych classes at our local community college for fun. Tonight I read some interesting research on self-control. According to Baumeister’s ego depletion model of self-regulation, humans have a limited amount of self-control resources and if you tax these resources you have a harder time exerting self-control in subsequent situations. For example, if I resist a brownie successfully but am then offered some ice cream it is way harder for me to resist the ice cream than it was to resist the brownie. Obviously if I am then offered a cookie my self-control reserves are further depleted and it is more likely that I will “finally” break down and have the cookie. So how can I use this nugget of cognitive knowledge to lose some more pregnancy weight?

Research indicates that humans rely on habits (and what is known as automatic processing) to conserve energy for tasks that require greater cognitive work. So this means that if I make a habit of refusing brownies, cookies and ice cream then this behavior will become nearly unconscious and will not tax my limited cognitive resources for self-control. Super interesting, right?

I think this is why I was so successful when I was on that no sugar, flour, wheat food plan. I didn’t have to self moderate, think about portion sizes, think about what else I had eaten that day or planned to eat (in other words, be practicing mindful, self-regulated eating); I just always said no!

Plus, research shows that having too many choices or decisions to make reduces self-control! The food plan I had been on limited my decision making to what kind of veggie and protein was I having, that’s it. The carbs were oatmeal and brown rice and everything had to be weighed and measured out (4oz of this, 1T of that, etc. )

I am not sure exactly how I plan to incorporate these “nuggets” into my weight loss plan right now; I am still holding out hope that I can self-regulate enough to lose the last thirty-eight pounds and not have to go back on that drastic food plan. In fact, I have big dreams of rediscovering that intuitive part of me that knows when I am hungry, knows when I am full, wants to eat things that make me feel good, etc. I have this love-love vision of the relationship between me and food for my future rather than the love-hate one we currently endure. We shall see…

Protein and sugar at night

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Night binging has never been my problem. I never understood when people said they could stick to a plan all day long but at night they would over eat. I never understood it. Now I do, but I have found a tweak that has really helped.

The last month or so I would eat super healthily all day long but when the hubby was home, the baby was in bed, the dishes done, I would go back to the kitchen and eat, over and over again!! This culminated with an unfortunate evening last week that involved a box of discounted valentines day candy amongst other late evening munchies. Yup, I’m classy like that.

I was talking about this to a friend and she suggested I eat a protein to make me feel full and a fruit to keep my blood sugar up when I get those post-dinner cravings. I remember a 12-step food group diet that I was successful on that had a late night protein/fruit suggestion which they called a metabolic adjustment.

You might say, why not just not eat after dinner? Have some will power woman! Well, frankly, I am coming to realize that because the studies show that only 5% keep weight loss off longterm, I need to find behavioral changes that will last for the long haul. If I cut nighttime eating out completely, sure, I will be successful for a little while. But I will be miserable doing it and I will eventually conveniently forget my plan or rationalize why apple pie needs to be eaten at ten pm. Instead, If I look forward to Greek yogurt and blueberries each night around 8pm, I am not feeling uncomfortable and deprived and I am making a conscious, nurturing choice. Win, win.

This strategy has worked well for nearly a week! I will keep you posted…

If only I could be like Baby

In Random Thoughts, Uncategorized on March 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm

A friend who has a toddler said to me that if she just ate like him she would lose tons of weight quickly and easily. What she meant is that her toddler ate basic, unprocessed finger foods – veggies, fruit, cheese, tofu, etc. As my daughter hit the one year mark and began refusing purées and moved into finger foods, I had similar thoughts. What I envy about my daughter is that she only eats when she is hungry and she stops eating when she is full. She is completely in tune with her body’s needs. It is so awesome! I think one of my important roles as her mom is to help her retain that self-knowledge, never pushing her to eat something and trying not to use food for comfort or as a reward (celebratory food, yes, just not constantly using food as a hobby/motivator rather than a necessity). I so worry about those teen years of body discomfort and the pressure to be thin. Hopefully if she has been offered and modeled healthy eating habits she won’t grow up to have food issues like her momma! It is very clear to me that a big part of my way of feeling better when I am down and/or tired and/or physically sick has been centered around figuring our what I can eat that will make me feel better. It is hard to be conscious of these moments sometimes as they really are part of my daily habits and coping skills and are nearly unconscious. This last week I have had some success in not emotionally eating by meal planning. Hopefully by the time my daughter is old enough to start digesting (lol) her Momma’s eating habits I will have made a lot of progress!