Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year…”

To my readers, I apologize for the lengthy absence. Like the Chinese say “It’s been an interesting year!” On the weight front, it’s been follow the bouncing scale readout for months now and frankly, I’ve been struggling to go from day to day.

Yes, there have been some health issues, but they are getting under control. But I’ve lost my motivation, direction, and sight of why I started this journey in the first place. While it was understandably for potential serious health reasons (borderline diabetic, developing sleep apnea, having trouble with simple walking, and generally feeling like crap), after losing a large portion of the weight and those issues now resolved, the last roughly 40 pounds to lose (I’ve gained back almost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year) now seems an unobtainable goal. The difficulty stems partially from struggling with constant bouts of depression since April that only now are getting under control and being just plain tired.

Tired of struggling to lose even a pound, working out 5 days a week, eating like a bodybuilder (i.e. a fly!), only to gain 2-3 back after 1 pancake breakfast. The depressions come with major sugar/carb cravings and it takes weeks to lose the weight from falling off wagon after wagon. We’ve talked about “flipping the switch” – looking at problems from the opposite direction or a different point of view. So here I am with you, dear readers, admitting I now need help to get back on track and figure out why this journey continues to be important, and what it’s true value is to me, not just now, but in the future as well.

Because what I’ve learned is this: this is not a journey – it’s a way of life, a commitment to set aside fleeting instant gratification and “sweet treat pleasures” for a healthy body and nutrition and loving movement that keeps my mind on track. I am getting help with this, going back to a therapist after 4 years without one and making a major med change that I am praying will help with the sabotaging food cravings.

So today’s lesson: yes, I’ve fallen down this year, over and over again. But I keep getting back up and part of that is coming back to this blog. It’s very hard admitting here that I’ve lost my focus and dedication. But committing to writing here, finding inspirational messages, quotes, stories, and pictures for you (and myself), and using this as part of holding myself accountable, all these actions will help. Yes, they will take work. Yes, it will be a pain in the ass. Yes, I would rather be eating cheesecake and watching “Farscape” than sweating in the gym and staying true every day to making healthy food choices.

But I commit to myself, and to you, tomorrow is a new day. We’re going out to eat for our anniversary, but even then, and the rest of the day, I will make healthy food choices. I will go to the gym for a 1 hour cardio and strength training session. And I will report back to you on whether I was able to honor these 2 commitments for 1 day. Sadly, like a 12 stepper, it’s going to be 1 day at a time for awhile. But I hope you’ll support me and, as I get back on track, I’ll do the same for you.

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Extra Weight Gain? Is it Food or Meds? Or What?

I’M UP 5 POUNDS, I FEEL LIKE CRAP, WHAT NOW???

We all know it starts with food – what we eat, how much, frequency, when, etc. Then it goes to activity, water consumption, getting enough sleep, but then it gets murky. In a depression, there’s tons of science about eating more, craving sugary/fatty foods, eating less or not eating. There are tons of factors but many of us end up with extra weight gain and feeling worse about ourselves as we move out of the depression or other episode. Not all, but the “I could care less” during the episode changes pretty quick for me when I look at the scale. The question is: did the depression cause the weight gain or did I gain weight by self medicating with food???? What other factors are in play?

For me, the main culprit has usually been meds. They helped me gain most of the weight, than I helped myself. Took 2 years to titrate (lower dosage) down 1 main culprit and another I was worried about dependency with. Then wham, bad episode, doc ups the “evil weight gain med” and a week later I’m 5 pounds up and feeling like a double failure. The pain of the episode, both mental and physical, pushed me over the edge to self medicate with food. Chicken, egg? The point: the med change helped me so much emotionally I’ve been coming out of the bad funk over the last few days. Have been able to slowly knock the increase back. And the 5 pounds, well with the lower dosage, lots of exercise, cutting back carbs, and increasing protein, not only are they gone, I’m actually back to July/Aug weight.

Lesson: There are so many factors that impact weight gain and loss, but for us on mood meds, they can have a very real impact on our hard work. Some are notorious “weight gainers” and while they help us feel more stable, we look in the mirror and are pretty unhappy with the side effects. What’s critical to remember is that mood stabilization, mental health, and mental safety come first. You can only do so much when you’re in an episode. Once you’re more stable, then you can talk to your doc about the weight issues and what you can safely do to address them. Be good to yourself – hopefully you have a plan in place and support system to call on when needed. If not – DO ONE!!!!! I wouldn’t be here typing away if those two things haven’t been my lifeline for 12 years. Although I’m preaching to many in the choir, hopefully this will shed some light for some others of you.

Huge Shout Out to Sandy Sue for her friendship and amazingly great advice/insight! Hugs!

There is NO “I Can’t”

There truly is no “I Can’t” and the only limits we have are those we impose upon ourselves. No one exemplifies this more than South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius, a quadriplegic who is competing head to head with the rest of the those running in this summer’s 2012 Olympic Games in London.

“Oscar Pistorius, running on prosthetic legs, finishes last in race, first in hearts”

(South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius pops out of the starting block in the men’s 400m semifinals during the Summer Olympic Games on Sunday, August 5, 2012 in London, England.)

At the tiny gym I go to now (not sure it’s really a gym, more like a place where serious athletes and body builders train), one of the owners – my trainer Liz – is going to put a huge poster of Oscar on the wall so anytime anyone says “I can’t” or wants to quit when they still have something in them, she’ll point him out as an example. Not only did he make it to the Olympics, and even with all the padding, those prosthetics HURT! He’s in pain and he’s still running! And maybe he came in last in his first race but he still has the 400 to go. Talk about “never say die”!

I’ve posted the “Versus” motivational video numerous times because it is so powerful. Any goal we want to achieve – mental health, weight loss, getting in shape, relationship or career goals, school, whatever – can be daunting, especially if we don’t have a solid ground of support and/or achievement. There comes a time when it’s necessary to become our own cheerleaders. To discover the strength we have RIGHT NOW inside us to start down a new path. If it helps, print out Oscar’s picture and put it where you’ll see it the most. Use his example to remind yourself that anything is possible, anything that can be dreamed can be achieved.

I believe in you. Now it’s your turn. If you’re already there, I’m working my a** off to catch up!

Food & Activity Log: 7-22-12

Well, you’ve had a whole week of my new “Daily Photo Log”. What do you think? Have had a comment or two and they’ve been super positive but would like more feedback to continue this project as part of my blog. Please either “Like” or “Comment” – you’re a huge part of why I’m on here!

Glad you liked yesterday’s “Skinny People” post. Some nice tips, one of which I took today – eat early. We had dinner before 5 pm and that’s all the food for the day. And now, without further ado, here’s today’s Photo Food Log!

FOOD LOG:

Breakfast: Total Calories – 220 calories

Coffee w/ fat free half & half –25 calories

Hot water w/fresh lemon juice – 3 calories

Protein shake w/ unsweetened almond milk – 150 calories

Oatmeal (less than ¼ cup) – 42 calories

Lunch (?): Total Calories – 820 calories

Cherry Danish – 410 calories

Puff Pastry – 410 calories

Dinner: Total Calories –741 calories

Cuban Ropa Vieja – 264 calories

Cuban Yellow Rice – 64 calories

Cuban Black beans (1/4 cup) – 153 calories

Fried (Plantains) Tostones (4) – 260 calories

Green Tea (large) – 0 calories

TOTAL CALORIES FOR DAY: 1,781 of 1,700

Net Calories For the Week: -481 Calories

ACTIVITY LOG:

Had a bad “emo” day. Went to a meditation / reike class and it sent me right into a bp episode. Stopped for pastry at Publix on the way home and then napped all afternoon. Needed to take xanax early and will go to bed early as well. But only 81 calories over daily target.

Food & Activity Log: 7-21-12

Here you go with today’s indiscretions! Just kidding, not really!

FOOD LOG:

Breakfast: Total Calories – 214 calories

Coffee w/ fat free half & half –25 calories

Egg white scramble w/spinach and mushrooms – 186

Hot water w/fresh lemon juice – 3 calories

Lunch: Total Calories – 375 calories

Protein Shake – 195 calories

Chicken Breast (4 slices) – 180 calories

Afternoon Snack: Total Calories – 304 calories

Celery sticks w/ peanut butter – 304 calories

Dinner: Total Calories –580 calories

Chipolte Burrito Bowl – 450 calories

Ciao Bella Greek Frozen Yogurt – 130 calories

Green Tea – 0 calories

Night Snack: Total Calories – 358 calories

Quaker Natural Granola w/ 1 cup almond milk – 358 calories

TOTAL CALORIES FOR DAY: 1,831 of 1,700

ACTIVITY LOG:

Lots of walking (i.e. shopping). But lots of sitting too. Back to gym tomorrow!

Day 1: No Scale

It was a hard but hot day on Day 1 without the scale. I was out of sorts and passed on going to the movies but was better by the afternoon.

Friends came over and that always perks me up. We even had an impromptu “Sunday Night Supper”, a simple one of spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. But those kind of dinners seem to always be the best kind. Lots of joking, great cameraderie, and good food.

By the evening I was perked up and ready to do more with a project, plan the week ahead, and get ready to do lots of exercise. Since it’s the July 4th week, have a mid week food fest but will be careful with diet the rest of the time. With no scale I won’t be able to report on weight loss, but will do measurements and guage how clothes are fitting.

Got a terrific email from another blogger with some wonderful guest posts. Will check them out and post if they turn out to be worthwhile! Stay tuned during the week to see the best of them!

Do You Sneak???

Are You A “Sneaker”?

If so, you’re not alone! Here’s a short but familiar story.

Today, I started reading “Weight Loss Boss” by David Kirchhoff, the President and CEO of Weight Watchers. Most of what I’ve read so far is familiar since I was in Weight Watchers for over a year, lost about 30 pounds, and then promptly gained it back after leaving the program. But that’s just me – many people have successfully lost and kept off weight on WW. What I’ve found the most resounding though is the chapter on “sneaking”.

The hardest “willpower” times for me are when I’m at home, alone, sitting on the couch, and dealing with one of the big three: boredom, loneliness, and depression. Any of these or a combo sends me either out the door to B’s Cupcakes, to the junk drawer for a take-out menu, or to the cupboard to make easy one-bowl/pan brownies. Do I tell my honey (or anyone) about these “sneaked” treats/meals? Oh, No! Do they make me feel any better (like today’s meatball parm sub and cannoli!!!) – No, just a bit fuller and a lot guiltier. Will going to the gym to work out or take a class make up for the transgression? The latest research is also saying NO! Using exercise as either an excuse to splurge/sneak or a way to burn off excess calories doesn’t work in the short or long run. The only true way to lose weight is to eat less calories (and healthy ones) than you burn off through exercise/activity.

Saying that, and after losing almost 80 pounds in a little over a year, why I am jeopardizing all the hard work by listening to “the call of the take out menus”? My story is a lot like the book’s author. My parents didn’t keep a lot of unhealthy food in the house, except for my stepfather who had a stash of candy he bought for himself and hid. Which of course my brother and I found immediately. They would buy horrible ice milk and nasty sandwich cookies that were ok for us to eat but tasted terrible. So I clearly remember waiting until the ‘rents were gone to sneak a few snack size candy bars or Starburst fruit chews. Frankly, I didn’t really even like either of these but they sure beat the only other “sweet treats” in the house. What’s truly weird is that even after I was working, I rarely spent my money of junk food. We didn’t have dessert at home very often so even out I didn’t indulge very often. And when I was working, I was more apt to have a yogurt or other healthy snack during my breaks. So until I hit my late 20’s (and after learning what great food tasted like and enjoying the convenience of being close to a ton of terrific restaurants), I was skinny for the first 27 years of my life. But man, when it hit, it hit! Shortly after my 28th birthday, I realized I was almost 30 pounds over my “normal” weight.

I immediately went to a shady doc to get some “phen/fen”, shed all the weight, and promptly hit the mental health wall. With all the med changes, eating to self medicate, and becoming a couch potato (I was always pretty active for the first part of my life), the weight piled on. Those of you who’ve been with me know I lost most of my weight through careful diet and exercise but have had consistent bumps in the road over the last few months. Another fun fact: the more weight you lose, the slower your metabolism gets – which is why losing those last 10, 20, 40 pounds seems like climbing Mt. Everest. And that’s without “sneaking”. (Let’s not call it cheating – let’s just bite the bullet and call it what it is. If that’s you at midnight with the spoon in the carton in the dark kitchen, well you know what I mean!)

David has some terrific suggestions to help Stop Sneaking, but I’d like to share my first one now: THROW AWAY THE DANG TAKE-OUT MENUS!! I just did a few minutes ago because I know they are a huge trigger for me. Do I feel any less nauseous from my crappy delivered lunch? No, but at least I know it will be harder to indulge like that next time I’m tempted.

Other “Steps To Stop Sneaking”:

1. Focus on what works for you, not what others think. Having healthy behaviors for yourself is more important than getting approval from others. Especially others who want to order dessert!

2. Understand that going undercover with minor indulgences encourages them to blossom into monstrous food disasters. Shame is it’s own weird kind of motivation.

3. Become more aware of the situations in which you’re tempted to sneak food and find detours – or major highways – around them.

4. Plan indulgences into your routine so they don’t knock you off your path of progress. Then it’s a pothole, not a crevasse.

5. Air your dirty laundry! Whether with a friend, on a blog, or notifying Facebook friends, find a safe place to share your “sneaking” and you’ll probably be very surprised how not alone you are and the support that’s out there to help you keep on track.

I hope this has helped a bit today and I’m grateful to have this blog to safely share my “sneaking” and steps I’ll also be taking to put an end to it! Comments and sharing are welcomed!!!

Light Bulb!

Into every life challenges must come, but hopefully, along with them come bursts of inspiration and enlightment!

Follow that with action and you have a winning combination!

After a few down posts and a bit of whining, I did some brainstorming and formed a plan to address the challenges I’ve been having the last few months with food and decreasing activity (excusitis).

I made an appt with my brilliant EMDR therapist, Bill, for today, calls into the Gyn to follow up on a terrific reader recommendation, and scheduled an hour planning/training session with my new personal trainer on Friday. (Hey, when I do get started, watch out!)

What I/we figured out today in therapy went to the core of the problem: I’m afraid of losing all the weight because I was skinny when I first got sick after starting to gain some weight (about 20 pounds) and going on the fen-phen diet. I lost the weight and within a few weeks started planning my own funeral. That was a slight clue that the BP I’d been terrified of having for YEARS finally kicked in as late onset. Just a small one. I’m afraid that if I lose the weight, I’ll get really sick again.

The scare did get me to a psychiatrist but he was a complete quack and went through horrible med change after med change. Dropped way too much weight and then slowly started the journey up the scale. Even with a new doc, as a rapid cycler, it was one med after another and even though I was miserable being so overweight, I was such a mess that I didn’t have the energy to exercise and the meds make you crave fat/sweets/all the bad stuff. It’s called “feeding the pain”.

What my therapist helped me realize and own today is that when I lose the weight, even if I get sick, I know what to do now. I’m not helpless, I won’t go off the deep end, I’ll be ok. In fact, I’ll probably be on the phone right away telling my pdoc what med changes need to be made, filling out the prescription, and sticking it under his nose to sign it! Helpless, I don’t think so!

In addition, when La has a tasty treat, it’s been a trigger for me to have one as well, especially when stuff is in the house. The reality is I have great coping mechanisms that don’t involve food and I can say no without guilt or feeling deprived. And she can still have her treat!

Best $60 I’ve spent all year!!!

So getting an alternative birth control/episode control device will take care of the re-occurrence of my period/PMS/food cravings every month, being OK in my own head about healthy food and “I am slender and I AM OK”, along with back with a good personal trainer will have me back on track and prepping for future challenges in no time.

Lesson Learned: When you get stuck, play the “call a friend” card, and take action! All the sudden a BIG problem seems manageable!

I can see those new sneakers any day now!!

It’s All a Matter of Perspective…

No, duh right?!

Seriously, isn’t it easy to lose that priceless thought process when life throws it’s slings and arrows our way/weigh? When the scale pulls it “evil overlord” prank, we have an argument with someone we care about, the dog gets sick and we’re hit with a big medical bill and we scour the furniture for change to help pay for it, etc.

The Buddha isn’t the first to say that life is suffering. It’s painful to be born, all the most important lessons in life are usually learned the hard way, and I can’t count the times I’ve swallowed lemon juice instead of lemonade. You, too right? But there is a way out of suffering and it’s not some amazing spiritual awakening or giant light bulb over our heads.

I’ve found that no matter how bad the depression is, how hopeless I feel about ____, how worried I am about money, the future, the cost of tea in China, as long as I remember my wife’s advice about perspective, I know I can get through anything. It’s a simple question: Did anyone die or lose a limb? If not, go ahead and cry and get upset, then sit down and breathe. Then either get out pen and paper or call a friend and you’ll be surprised how quickly you’re able to get at least the basics of a game plan. This is absolutely not to minimize how tough things can get, just to help put it in perspective.

That includes a slower than planned weight loss, awhol motivation, and getting sick and tired of working out so hard and not seeing hoped for results.

And, as someone who’s been through the “yes” to the perspective question – it’s the hardest to get through, it takes for many a lot of time, and a lot of help and support, but each of us is stronger than we could possibly believe. The kernel of the superhuman capacity to overcome literally anything life throws our way is within all of us.

At this point you may be wondering the point of all this: easy, if you, like me, took the holiday weekend off from our particular weight loss / activity journeys, no one lost a limb. No beating up ourselves for that 2nd hotdog or excessive use of puff pastry! Once again, get back up and on the elliptical! I’m behind you 100%!

Celebration Time, C’mon!

You’re Invited to the “Virtual 1 Year Celebration” of my Weight Loss Journey!

Please join me for a bit to enjoy virtual cake, virtual ice cream, virtual balloons and party favors, and, my favorite, virtual martinis and cosmos, to celebrate my 1 Year Weight Loss/Life Transformation Anniversary!

First, thank all of you for your support during this amazing, challenging, and oh so rewarding time. You have helped me so much with your following, comments, and encouragement “on the weigh”. And if I can do this, and keep working toward the main goal of losing the rest and then maintaining/thriving for a lifetime, then so can you!

A Quick Recap:

Here’s a very quick recap of the positive changes from the start point to today.

1 Year Ago – April 14, 2011

  • Weight: 278.8 pounds
  • Classification: Morbidly Obese
  • Clothing Size: 28 Women’s, 3X Women’s
  • Activity Level: Sedentary (butt glued to couch!)
  • Social Life: Almost non-existent, rarely left the house, isolated
  • Diet: Awful – high in sugar, fat, salt, fast food, bad carbs, very little fruits/veggies
  • Cholesterol: High in all the Bad Ones
  • Blood Sugar: Pre-Diabetic (in the danger zone)
  • Mood: 3-4 full episodes a month, depressed most of the time – A MESS
  • Sleep: 12-16 hours / night

A picture is worth a thousand words:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY – April 14, 2012

  • Weight: 205.2 pounds (74 almost 75 Pound Loss!!!)
  • Classification: Moderately Overweight
  • Clothing Size: 16-18 Women’s, XL/1X Women’s
  • Activity Level: ACTIVE (4 sessions at Gym, 1 Hatha Yoga Class, 1 Exercise Meet-Up – every week!)
  • Social Life: out at the gym, friends at yoga, weekly motivational/exercise/social meet-up, out and about almost daily, blog/email/even talk on phone – Huge!
  • Diet: 160 degree change – mostly lean meats, chicken, fish, veggies, fruit, good carbs/grains, still struggle with fast food and sugar/fat bombs but major change
  • Cholesterol: All in Normal Range
  • Blood Sugar: Normal Range
  • Mood: 1-2 episodes a month, managing depression, snap out much more quickly
  • Sleep: 8-10 hours / night

A picture is worth a thousand words:

(And that’s from 2 months ago! But the changes are about 10 pounds down so it’s close enough.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I can do it, coming from being barely able to walk a block or climb a flight of stairs, sick and tired all the time, and chronically depressed – So Can You!

So let’s Celebrate wherever we are in our own “Weight Loss Journey’s” and be proud of our accomplishments, every big and every little, one of them. I would love to hear your stories in “Comments” and to see pics of your “before” and “now”s. Celebrating is more fun when we do it together!

Here’s to staying on track, meeting our goals, and thriving, a little bit every day “along the weigh”!