Redefining “Diets”

I have been thinking a lot lately about what successful weight loss methods are out there. Long story short, not many. Most weight loss methods are Diets that are intended to be used for a short period of time until the unwanted weight is gone, then the dieter goes back to their previous way of eating. This has certainly been the case for me. I have done Slim-Fast, Weight Watchers, paleo, calorie counting, Atkins, South Beach, Curves, and more. All of these are just things people do until they can go back to normal. But of course, normal is why they need these Diets in the first place!

So what does truly successful weight loss look like? Does it just mean losing a certain number of pounds or a percentage of body fat? Does it mean that you know how to lose weight? Or is it more?

A close family friend recently completed the losing phase of the medically supervised liquid fast diet. She lost a ton of weight and noticed a dramatic increase in her quality of life. She was doing so well that my grandmother wished she had enough money to send me to the same program. While I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do a liquid fast for weight loss purposes, I tried to be as tactful as possible. I told my grandma that we should see how she does in the long term before spending over $3000 on something that may not even create long term success. Sure enough, the friend is in the maintenance phase now and going back to “regular” foods has not been easy. She is struggling with weight gain.

I know how hard that is. After trying so many different methods to lose weight, many more than once, I just cannot get behind the idea that any Diet should be temporary.

That is one main reason that I simply love the McDougall Program. I never intend to go back to “normal” eating again. I feel so great eating starches. I have much more energy than I ever have had before. My health issues that I have struggled with for years are getting better. Why on earth would I want to go back to a way of eating that left me feeling so terrible?

What are your thoughts on this? As we approach the start of resolution season, how do you deal with the commercials for every diet under the sun? Have you tried any weight loss methods before? Why did you stop? Do you see that as a failure of the Diet or a failure of your will power? (Hint: It’s built into Diets to fail, that’s why there are so many that people spend so much on!)

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50 lbs gone, now what?

Last week I shared my weight loss success of 50 lbs. I have lost a little more since then. I actually made it past the 300 lb. mark on the scale!

I have had 300 as my weight goal for so long that I honestly don’t know where to go next. I decided on 250 for now, since that’s another big chunk but not the full amount. I guess I’ll just keep stepping it down like that.

In activity land, we went swimming yesterday! It was my first time going to the lap swim at our local public pool. It was actually quite lovely. I don’t swim with my face in the water (no freestyle for me!) so I’m a little more sore today than I expected to be. But I successfully swam the full length of the pool 4 times which I think counts as 2 laps. It was 33 1/2 meters long so I actually did over 135 yards.

The swim for the Tri next summer is only 400 so I am thrilled to be able to go 1/4 of the way already. I still obviously have a lot of training to do, but I know I can do this!

Now to get myself back to the gym to work on the bike… 🙂

Buyers remorse

I am having serious second thoughts about the activity tracker I bought yesterday. I like how it looks, but this morning when I did dishes I was seriously concerned about it getting wet. It was nice to be able to go for a walk without my phone yet have all of my steps immediately synced to S Health as soon as I got home. But what about swimming?

I am also having some anxiety about going to the pool. Going somewhere new is always particularly stressful for me. Yesterday when I went to a different Weight Watchers meeting I could not find the store! I drove around the same parking lot for probably about 15 minutes before I saw that there were more stores on the back side of one side. I drove around, found the store, then had to go almost all the way out of that parking area just to find a parking spot! I was so flustered from that experience that after the meeting I went to Best Buy, got my tracker, and went home. I didn’t leave the house again until M got home and we took the dog together.

I have missed every single lap swim since I decided to do the triathlon. I know that a huge part is that I am self-conscious about going to a new pool and swimming badly in front of strangers. I am not at all a strong swimmer and the idea of going when others are there is flat out intimidating. Hopefully M will be up for going soon. The nice thing is that the pool has a lot of different times available so we just need to find a time that he is willing to go.

I am also a little nervous about biking. I am not a great bike rider, either. But going to the gym and strengthening my legs on the stationary bikes is a great way to start. The last (only) time I went for this I did a little more than 3 miles. I plan on getting back to the gym once this week for another session.

I also want to get over to a public track in the next city over to start working my way up to running. I have never in my life so far been able to run a whole mile in my life so that is my current running goal. Even if it takes 12 minutes or 14 minutes, I just want to be able to run the whole way without having to stop for a walk break.

I think for now, I am going to exchange my band for the other one I was eyeing. Then I won’t have an excuse to not go to the pool! Or least, I will have taken one excuse off the list. 🙂

Do you have any fitness goals you are working on now? Do you wait until January to start or are you already looking ahead?

50 lbs gone! And what it’s like to still have so far to go…

This morning I earned my 50 lb. award at Weight Watchers. I am currently having a love/hate relationship with my meeting. I love the meeting and members, but hate the new program. They are literally pushing animal protein on people. But the no counting plan is the same and I am following a modified version of that so I talk about that and how eating more whole grains and vegetables has dramatically helped me. I think people don’t really listen all the time, but getting presented with an award for losing 50 lbs. really gets their attention!

Enough about that. I am so happy that I have lost this much weight. I’m sure I have said it before, but I will say it again. I have never lost this much20151214_124353 weight before and it is amazing to me how easy it is to lose. I am a little frustrated with how slowly the weight is coming off right now, but I am still steadily moving down on the scale, so I cannot complain!

I got myself a reward for my accomplishment. I have wanted an activity tracker for quite some time now. I used to use a WW one, but when I rejoined I couldn’t get it to sync with my new account info. So I talked this over with M and let him know that I really wanted one. I had one all picked out: the Garmin Vivosmart HR. It is water resistant to 50 meters and automatically syncs with WW so I can see how many activity points I have earned. But, when I was checking out online last night, I saw another one. The Samsung Gear Fit watch has a nicer display and will autosync with my 20151214_154328Samsung phone that uses S Health. I have been getting notifications the past few days telling me to be more active. When I check my pedometer I can see how active I have been, but S Health has no idea. So I was pretty interested in a tracker that would meet all of my other goals. Plus, the display is way nicer and the band is changeable. And did I mention the sale?! I got it for $70 off!!! The sale is from Best Buy and the tracker was on sale for $79.99. I love it! I already had over 4000 steps from before I put it on so I am doing great.

One thing that is still hard, though, is how I think people think of me. I live in Oakland, CA and people are not particularly kind or patient in my area. This morning I took the dog for a walk as usual. I was wearing capri leggings and a tank top with a hoodie – my normal weigh in outfit. A car arrived at the 4 way stop while I was already in the intersection and then went before I made it onto the curb. I felt very self-conscious and in my head it was about my weight. I even imagined the person in the car saying something snarky about me in spandex. I wonder if this will go away as I lose more weight or if I will always worry that people are thinking the worst of me because of my size. I even was talking to M about eating and how people see someone like me. I feel like people think fat people don’t deserve to eat. It’s horrible to have this running dialogue inside me. I just hope that as I train and get strong and lean I can quiet this self-doubt.

I haven’t taken many photos lately, but here is a picture of a cute hairdo I did the other day. I felt pretty cute. I am starting to really see a difference in my face. It’s crazy to have lost so much weight, but still have so much to lose. I need to lost about 150 more to get to a normal BMI, but I’ll still be at the high end of the range. So I might want to lost about 165 to 170 more all together. It’s a lot, but I am just trying to focus on one day at a time and one meal at a time. In the mean time, I’m having cheese-less pizza for dinner that is ready now! 🙂 Talk to you soon!20151209_082105

A beautiful storm

We went north for the weekend. My grandma lives in Mendocino County which is a few hours north of San Francisco. Yesterday after work we drove up. The rain and fog were intense, but at least we drove slow enough that I didn’t get car sick.
My grandma has no idea what kind of diet I’m following. She did bake some russet and sweet potatoes for us, but was totally at a loss for a “complete” meal. She pulled out salad stuff with blue cheese dressing! When I asked for frozen veggies she got a pack that was so freezer burnt I am not sure they were good to eat.
But the point is that she tried. She made the effort to feed me what I could eat. That was very nice.
Today we walked to the end of the road. I remember when that distance was so far for me. I remember when I couldn’t go that far and how great it felt the first time I did. Today it was like nothing.
We met a beautiful horse. I called to it and he came right up to us with his face over the fence. He was very sweet. He even touched noses with the dog!
When it was time to leave the rain was intense. It hailed while I dashed out to the truck!
Living in California has shaped how I see rain. Even though it was heavy and cold, it was so beautiful to see how green everything was and how full the waterways were. The last time we were at my grandma’s the creek was almost dry. Now it is several feet higher.
I loved everything about our weekend in wine country. And I love how easy this lifestyle is making the rest of my life.

Food for thought

I have been busy watching political documentaries on Netflix lately. A few months ago we watched Forks Over Knives. If you haven’t seen that yet, it is a great breakdown on why choosing plant foods is the best for our health. The more plants we eat, the better our bodies function and are able to fight diseases. The more animal foods we eat, the worse everything works. This does not mean you need to go 100% vegan for the rest of your life, but it means cutting meat and dairy (combined) to a few ounces a month is the safest choice if you choose to eat it at all. This also doesn’t mean that “vegan” is a healthy choice. Potato chips are vegan, but no one will ever argue that anything deep fried is healthy. What I am coming to understand is that plant foods as close to their natural state as possible are the healthiest to eat.

The next one we watched was called Cowspiracy. This one hit me pretty hard. I grew up in California in the midst of the last big drought. I have heard about water conservation efforts my entire life. It even carried over to when we lived in Oregon. I would take dishwater out to the garden instead of pouring it down the drain! This film truly opened my eyes to how ridiculous all of this is in the face of how much animal agriculture we as a society use. The amount of water that goes into a pound of cheese or a steak is simply staggering. Not to mention the environmental devastation caused by toxic runoff. There were a few scenes that were too graphic for me. I had to cover my eyes a few times. But it was an amazing movie with such fantastic information. I strongly encourage everyone to watch it, especially anyone who considers themselves in anyway an environmentalist.

We also watched one called Living on One Dollar. This was all about what people who are living below the poverty line go through on a daily basis. Two economics students took two film students to Guatemala for 8 weeks and the four of them lived on $1 per day each. There was so much beauty and so much sadness in this one. What people go through is simply astounding. But there was so much love and generosity there, too. It shed a light on the struggles that so many of us never have to worry about. The idea of paying $25 for medicine when the daily income is so low and not guaranteed was simply overwhelming.

I also recently read a book called Proteinaholic that discussed the physiological effects of eating too much meat and dairy. It has cemented for me the idea that vegetables are what humans should eat. The amount of disease that comes from eating too much animal protein (and really, there doesn’t seem to actually be a safe threshold on this) is simply too big to truly comprehend.

With all of these things mulling in my brain I have been thinking about self-sufficiency – or at least reduced dependence – and how the government and medical establishment share information about how our diet is affecting us as people and as a species.

There is so much information about how meat and dairy affect us negatively. Why are we still being told to eat so much? It seems like every other commercial on TV is pushing some meat or dairy product or at least protein. Have you ever heard of anyone actually being protein deficient who wasn’t also literally starving?

The answer is no.

Protein is so important to all life forms that there is an abundance of it in everything we eat. As long as you are eating enough calories, you are getting enough protein.

So what is going on here? We are constantly being told to eat more protein. It has gotten to the point that people don’t even identify meat on their plate anymore – it is simply called the protein. But that’s not truly accurate. Chicken and beef contain fat, as well.

Also, did you know that the RDA amount is not a minimum threshold we need to meet everyday but the ideal amount? So if adults are supposed to get about 50 grams of protein a day and we can get all we need from plant foods, why would we risk making ourselves sick with too much protein plus all the other bad stuff like saturated fat, cholesterol, and pathogenic microbes in meat?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you ever worry about the percentage of your macronutrient intake? Do you ever count grams of any of them? Do you think about the true cost of eating meat and dairy – both to your health and to the planet? Share in the comments!

Looking good?

I know this is a recurring theme with me, but M told me that I look smaller today. I understand that I have lost a significant amount of weight. I also understand that I am going to lose more weight. But what does looking smaller mean? I asked if I look good. He said yes. I said than say that! So he told me that smaller looks good. Good grief!

I want to be smaller. I want to lose the excess weight that I have carried for far too long. But I don’t think that that affects my beauty in any way. However beautiful I ever am I always am.

So what should we say to people who lose a large amount of weight? Maybe we can ask if they have lost any and how they are feeling. Maybe we can notice things like their improved energy level or self-confidence. Maybe we can simply realize that someone else’s weight is not really any of our business and leave their health concerns between them and their medical professional.

I just wish people would see me as a person instead of a fat person. I’m sure that will happen soon enough, but will I have to go out and meet all new people?

In other news, we went to the gym today. I had planned on going swimming at a local pool, but with the current storm and chill in the air (leave me alone about being in the 50s, okay? I know I’m a baby!) neither of us really wanted to go swimming. So we took the dog for a walk in a downpour then came home, changed and hit the gym. I did a little more than 3 miles on a stationary bike and almost a mile on a treadmill then thoroughly stretched. It felt great. I was very tired when I finished. And hungry!!!

When we got home I ate a burrito bowl: rice, “refried” beans, cucumber, shredded carrots, and lettuce. I put some sweet chili sauce on it and 20151201_203753.jpgchowed down! Delicious!!! If you have never had sweet chili sauce, I highly recommend it. We are about halfway through a large bottle I bought on Monday! And it tastes great on just about everything. Seriously, try it. AMAZING!!!

Tonight’s dinner is not quite figured out, but I have a head of cabbage, 3 leeks, and some mushrooms in the fridge. I started some rice and split peas soaking. Have you ever added split peas to your brown rice? The texture is fantastic! I did 2 cups rice with 1 cup of mixed green and yellow split peas. I’ll cook it in the rice cooker tonight and probably sauté the vegetables or maybe make a soup. In any case, I’m sure it will be a warm and tasty dinner. 🙂

How is December going for you? Are you ready for 2016? Any challenges in the coming weeks? How do you plan to deal with them?

To weigh or not to weigh.

That is a question I am facing right now. As I move through my changing body and redefine my relationship with food and activity, one thing I still find myself obsessing over is the scale.

I can eat whatever, whenever without worrying about how much or how many of anything. I eat foods that fill me up and give me plenty of energy to make it through my day and beyond.

But there is still the scale.

I started eating a starch-based diet after purchasing a three month pass to Weight Watchers and the way I eat actually easily fits with the no counting plan – Simply Filling. The first few weeks I was okay with just weighing in once a week. But soon I found that amount of time to be overwhelming. How could I know how foods were affecting me if I had to wait a week to weigh myself to see a difference? And how would I know what caused what? Finally over the summer we bought a scale. At the time I was still over 330 lbs so I had to get a high capacity scale. I was a little frustrated by that, but am happy that now I have a great scale.

I immediately started weighing myself everyday. I make sure the scale goes with me if I spend the night somewhere else. This is the part that makes me think I might need to reevaluate how I feel about the scale. M asked the other day if I can just go a day without weighing. I felt panic rise up in my chest at the thought of missing a day and losing control. Needless to say, I brought the scale.

I have been watching some videos from High Carb Hannah on YouTube lately. She has done some amazing transformations with her diet, body, and life in general. It is totally inspiring to watch her videos. One thing she suggests is getting rid of the scale, or at least putting it away.

I just don’t think I can yet.

I am still experiencing fairly large swings in my weight from day to day. For example, Sunday morning I was at 303.6 at my meeting. Yesterday was 303 even. Today? 304.4. Did my eating change that much? Not really. I did eat a little more bread made with flour than I usually do, but not enough to explain a pound and a half gain. I am also on my period which causes major fluctuations in my weight. I am not that worried about it, but it is part of my consciousness so obviously I am a little stressed. I expect to see it go down, and am planning on earning my 50 lbs award this Sunday. We’ll see how it goes.

One thing WW is doing right now is asking members to rate their weeks BEFORE they weigh in. I don’t think I would be so comfortable doing that without knowing in advance what my weight was. I don’t really like that I need to know my weight before I can say how my week went, but I also am realistic about where I am in my journey. At this point, since I still am super morbidly obese I need the feedback that the scale gives me. I also need to see the results for my own satisfaction.

Do you weigh? How regularly? Does the scale define your satisfaction with your progress or are there other measures that are a better way to see how far you have come? Let’s talk about this!