Me and My Dog NOT on a Diet (Or How I Stopped Dieting and Learned to Love My Body)

Riva in MotionIf you know me at all, you know I’m a dog lover. We currently have four in our pack, including my sweet Pit Bull rescue, Riva. She’s an amazing pup – loving, smart and just a bit submissive, which is awesome, as it makes it easy for us to regulate her behavior around the other dogs.

Six or seven months ago, my husband took her to the vet for her annual exam and vaccinations. As he put her on the scale, he was shocked to see she had gained close to 40 pounds. We distinctly remember her starting weight, as she came in at 66.6 at her first appointment, just a few days after we picked her up from the shelter. At her last visit, she was 103 pounds, up 37 pounds. Yikes.

According to my husband, the vet looked a bit shocked, too. Then he left the room for a moment, returning with a tiny little cup. “Use this and feed her one cup a day,” he said.

This thimble-sized device is actually a true “cup,” though we just can’t imagine it’s enough food for our 100+ pound dog. Though we’ve continued to feed her less than she used to eat, in spite of our fears that she was “starving.”

At first, I watched Riva’s waistline and didn’t see any difference. “Poor pup,” I thought, “She’s just like me. We’re feeding her less and she’s still not losing any weight.”

That feeling lasted for several months, until just recently. In the last week or so, I’ve noticed that our big girl is getting her waist back. There’s a small, but obvious, indentation.

Hmmm … I guess it does work. It just takes a really long time and you have to stay the course. That’s something I’ve never been great at doing, though watching my Riva lose a few is inspiring me to get back to my effort, after a short hiatus, during which I “tried” to exercise and eat right “most of the time.” (I also had an injured shoulder, though that shouldn’t have affected my exercise schedule as much as it did.)

That effort (or lack thereof) didn’t do me any good. No pounds lost. Not any fitter or healthier. To get back on track, I made a promise to my MasterMinds girlfriends that I will take on one behavioral change a month for the next year.

First step? Make the list. What 12 changes could I make that would have me losing 40 pounds over the course of the next year. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

December: Take LoseH8NotW8 program. Exercise for – at least – 20 minutes every day.

January:  Meditate for 20 minutes every day.

February:  Drink more water every day. I’ll shoot for 8 cups a day and see what happens. If I land at 4 or 6, it will still be a greater volume than I’m consuming now.

March:  Cut down on my carbs. I will keep a very close eye on my intake of white potatoes, bread and sweets with the goal of minimizing, though not depriving myself.

April:  Do yoga for 20 minutes 3x a week.

May:  Journal for 20 minutes 3x a week.

June:  Eat an extra serving of green veggies every day.

July: Draw 3x a week.

August: Walk 10,000 steps every day, without fail.

September: Do push-ups every day.

October:  Add weight training 3x a week.

November: Annual review – look at what happened in last 12 months.

Of course, I will mix it up here and there. For example, today, I’m feeling puffy and icky because I’ve been eating so much sugar. I’ve told my husband – for accountability – that I’m going to take on three days of minimal sugar to see if it helps me get rid of that feeling.

I’ll keep you posted on how things go.

Sometimes the Best Advice is to Simply “Stay the Course”

FailureThere was a commercial campaign focused on encouraging people to quit smoking a few years back, which used the slogan, “Don’t quit quitting.” Lately, I’ve been reminding myself to do something similar – Don’t quit. Stay the course!

Don’t quit developing healthy habits because I had dessert.

Don’t quit taking my daily walks just because I skipped a day.

Don’t quit drinking more water every day because I got distracted and missed one day.

Don’t quit trying get healthier and slimmer just because I haven’t lost more than a few pounds.

Don’t give up on developing a healthier lifestyle. Don’t start a “diet.” Diets don’t work for me and I end up simply gaining the weight back, with a few extras for good measure.

I’ve lost a few pounds, and that’s something to appreciate. I will lose more, if I STAY THE COURSE.

UPDATE: As of 5/18, I’ve lost the five pounds I committed to a month or so ago. It’s working! 

This BeliefNet article validates my approach, so I’ll keep looking at resources like this one, to keep keeping on:

BeliefNet “Stay the Course” Article

What about you? Do you get defeated when the weight won’t come off quickly enough and give up? What helps keep you focused on healthy living over quick weight loss? 

 

 

 

What Do You Do When You’re the Only One in Your House that Needs to Lose Weight?

One of my biggest challenges, when it comes to healthy eating, is that I have two men in my household (my husband and my son) who both get to eat whatever they’d like with impunity. My 15 year old son, in fact, is bordering on underweight. If I cook low-cal meals for the two of them, they’ll mutiny and the household will be overtaken by pizza, frozen lasagna and ice cream.

Plus, since I believe in the value of family meals, I come home after my day at the office and cook dinner. While I always look for healthy recipes and typically use fresh ingredients, I can’t necessarily feed them the same low-cal menu items that I need to eat to lose weight (or these days, to even avoid weight gain!) So, when I’m “on” and taking exquisite care of myself, reducing calories and carbs (which isn’t as frequently as I’d like), I cook one meal for them and something completely different for me.

It’s so much easier to simply grab a grocery store heat-and-eat meal for me, or simply fry a quick lean burger and slice up an apple. Unfortunately, when I take either approach, I usually have to sacrifice quality and taste. Basically, it’s a pain in the butt, bores me to tears, and I don’t do it often these days. Fortunately, that’s where Diet-to-Go can help.

If you’ve read this blog over the past year, you know about my affinity for Diet-to-Go. It’s a diet delivery meal plan that offers convenient, easy healthy (low cal or low carb) meals, delivered to your door.  I’ve ordered quite a few weeks of their meals and whenever I follow it, I easily lose a few pounds. Plus, they’ve somehow managed to create delicious entrees in microwavable portions. Easy-peasy and great for those of us who are busy and “don’t have time” to eat well. (Or have other family members that aren’t into a low-fat, low-cal or low-carb eating plan.)

I’m so happy to share that they’re running a sweepstakes to help you with your weight loss resolutions in the new year. You can learn the details (and all the official stuff) here: 1,000 Meal Giveaway Sweepstakes
Or you can simply enter here:


Diet-to-Go is also hosting a twitter chat on “The Anti-New Year’s Resolution: Using Common-Sense to Make Lifelong, Lasting Changes Towards Health.” (We all know by now that it’s not about a diet or quick-fix. It’s about a lifestyle change!) The event will take place on Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm EST. The giveaways are awesome, including a Fitbit Flex Wristband or Fitbit scale, and three guests will win a week of free meals. If you log on to Twitter and follow @diettogo, you can join in.

What about you? How do you manage losing weight when you have other family members who don’t have to worry about how they eat? 

Taking Baby Steps Toward Self Love

This past week, I’ve made a decision that I’ve been considering for a few years. I’m so very very tired of being the “big girl,” yet no matter what “diet program” I’ve tried, the pounds always come back.

Last week, I agreed to take on Laura Fenamore’s 12-week Body Image Mastery course. Laura calls her work, “One Pinky,” saying that when you learn ”to love what you see in the mirror…(you can) unlock the secret to healthy weight.” I almost didn’t sign up, as I’d spent money on weight loss programs so very many times in the past, which ended up wasted when the effort ended.

The thought behind self love as the key for weight loss is that if you love yourself, you’ll be compelled to take better care of your body. Since I enjoy <sarcastic> frequent bouts of extremely negative self talk, I figured the worst that could happen is I stop hating on myself, even if I don’t lose a pound. Seems like it’s well worth the investment.

Then, this morning, I came across this lovely little video, initiated by the brand folks at Special K. I love how it puts our body shaming self talk out there for the world to see. I’m ready to give it up. How about you?

What about you? Do you “fat talk” yourself? Do you think it would be easier to lose weight if you loved yourself instead? 

Getting My Butt in Gear, or Those Times When Motivation Just Shows Up

Clock GearsThis weekend, I decided to start working out again. After a few decades of steady workouts like kickboxing, step aerobics and yoga four to five times a week, I have been forced, for almost the last year, to “take it easy.” In the process, I gained an additional fifteen pounds. Ugh.

Fortunately, a few months ago, I finally found a physical therapy practice that was able to turn around my chronic piriformis muscle problem and I’ve been almost pain-free for over a month. The physical therapists at the Michigan Institute of Human Performance seemed to know exactly what I needed and within three weeks, I have no pain in my backside. (No real pain anyway, there will always be “butt pains” in life, though, right?) I feel ready to ease back into working out, beyond the (almost) daily walk that I’ve been able to do for the past three months.

Then, over this past weekend, the universe decided I needed to see three people who have “done it,” aka lost weight and kept it off for a significant amount of time and be reminded of the importance of exercise to the process.

First, we stopped by the pet store to replenish our cricket supply. (Frogs need them.) The woman behind the counter has worked there for several years, though we almost didn’t recognize her after she lost 30 pounds a few years back. This time, when we went in, I was struck by how great she looked and how it appears that she “got it” and been able to stay fit longterm. As we talked about a friend of hers who had appeared on local television news that morning with a giant African Bull Frog, she mentioned that she’d watched it at the gym that morning.

Then, we watched our favorite weekend television show and they did a segment on comedian and game show host Drew Carey. He talked about his weight loss, which he’s sustained for the last three years, and what had motivated him to get fit. When he’d been heavy, he’d felt tired all the time and had aches and pains that were a detriment to being active with his child. He changed his diet and took up running and now those aches and pains are gone.

And, finally, this morning, Tory Johnson showed up on our local morning news program. She’s lost 72 pounds and kept it off for a year. She’s incredibly motivating and happy, touting her new book, The Shift. She looks fantastic and gave a bunch of great eating tips, including reducing carbs and changing the way you think about food.

Those three stories have stuck in my mind as I start this week with a goal of amping up my workout routine. I’ve always felt better when I exercised, something I did for years before I was injured in December. Today, I’m committing to starting out with three full body workouts a week, in addition to my walking schedule. To make sure I don’t overdo it, I’m going to focus on yoga and a few other moderate level programs that I have on DVD at home. Sorry, P90, but you’re just too much for me right now.

Here’s to getting my butt back in shape – literally and figuratively!

What about you? What workouts do you enjoy?
photo credit: .sandhu via photopin cc

Setting a Small Goal to Get Back on Track

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This is how I’m going to feel after I’ve lost 40 pounds!

Last week, I was clearing my computer desktop and came across a photo I had to send in for an online weight loss challenge in late May. The photo needed to show the number on the scale at the start of the challenge and include an item that you could then show yourself holding in a second photo. When I opened the photo last week, I was surprised that the number on the scale then and the number on the scale now are the same. Nope, I didn’t win the challenge, though at least I haven’t gained anything in the last four and a half months. (Sometimes you have to celebrate the teeny tiny wins, right?)

Rather than great big goals that can seem overwhelming, for the next four weeks, I’m going to try to lose a total of five pounds. Just five. Only one and one quarter pounds a week. Seems doable, right?

Since the beginning of this blog, back in December of 2012, I’ve been looking at a goal of 40 pounds, which in hindsight, seemed way too difficult. It was easy to think “I can’t do this! It’s tooooo hard!”

While I’m disheartened that I’ve not lost even one pound, I will acknowledge myself for getting a handle on several bad health habits. I’ve made some great positive changes, including:

  • Increasing my daily activity – counting my steps using my FitBit tracker
  • Drinking more water every day
  • Walking for at least 30 minutes a day, sometimes 60
  • Feeling better about my body as it is
  • Working on shame issues
  • Reading articles and blogs focused on healthy living

Now it’s time to put some small measurable goals in place. In our customer service work, we tell our clients, “You get what you measure.” It’s time for me to set some small, attainable goals that I can measure.

Between now and November 15, I will lose five pounds. Five pounds and that’s it. I’ll report back then.

What about you? What kind of goals have you set for yourself? 

photo credit: thephotographymuse via photopin cc

When Your Body Armor Weighs Too Much

The only thing a number on a scale can tell you is that a body – created by circumstance and chemistry and nature itself – carries a certain amount of physical weight.

~ Ursula Adams

I love that quote, from my friend Ursula Adam’s “Pretty Pretty Bullshit” blog post a few months ago. (You can read the post here: “I call bullshit on… equating weight to value.”)

Body ArmorI’ve spent a lot of mental energy over the years trying to give up my shame around my body. No matter how much I’ve weighed, from 105 pounds to over 180, I’ve always thought I was “too fat” and felt shame about how I look. I’ve spent way too much time in front of the mirror, usually right before going off to work or to a special night out – telling myself that I was a “fat pig” who “looks awful” and shouldn’t leave the house looking like that.

I strongly believe that my weight issue stems from my traumatic childhood and sexual abuse in my teens. There’s a proven connection between childhood abuse and wearing excess weight as “body armor” to shield you from future mistreatment.

As I continue to bring my unhealthy beliefs about my weight and myself to light, exploring  and bringing an adult perspective to them, I know I will continue to get healthier physically and emotionally.

What about you? Do you think there are underlying issues that might be causing you to be overweight? 

photo credit: listentoreason via photopin cc

Plodding Along, Changing Habits On the Way

My Weight Doesnt Get to DecideThey say “Slow and steady wins the race,” and that seems to be my motto for now. A few weeks ago, I posted about walking every day, since I was struggling with my PITA injury. (PITA = Pain in the Ass, aka “piriformis syndrome,” an issue with a muscle in the rear end that when it acts up, causes severe muscle cramping and pain.)

So far, so good. By using my FitBit, I’ve managed to increase my average daily steps from 3,000 to 4,500 to 8,000 to 10,000. I feel stronger and have managed to honor this commitment about 90% of the time. (Awesome, right?)

Coupled with drinking more water, paying more attention to what I eat, ingesting less sugar/more protein, and going to three regular physical therapy appointments every week, in hopes of resolving my PITA, I’m on a strong and steady path. Not only am I changing some bad habits that impact me physically, I’m also – slowly and surely – evolving my mindset. I’ve not stood in front of the mirror and criticized myself harshly for being “fat” in at least a few weeks. My self-flagellation has been reduced to a minimum, quite an accomplishment, considering that it was previously a daily habit.

In the morning before work, I get dressed, I take a quick peek in the mirror and I move on. I look “good enough.” Not perfect, though who is? I look good enough for who I am: a 50 year old, somewhat overweight woman who struggles with an extra 40 pounds, who is working on getting physically healthier. My weight doesn’t determine my value and it doesn’t get to decide how happy I get to be. I am on a path and if I stay on it, I KNOW good things will come.

And to reinforce this approach, I saw a story on Good Morning America that really resonated with me. Tory Johnson, the contributor who does the “Deals and Steals” segment, has written a book, entitled “The Shift.” On GMA, she shared how she lost 60 pounds in the last year and a half with a consistent approach that had her losing less than a pound a week. Tory mentioned that, in the past, she’d give up when it didn’t happen fast enough, and that it wasn’t until she kept at it, persistently, that the weight came off. You can see the GMA story here: Tory Johnson Makes “The Shift” 

Thank you, Tory, I think I may just be on the right track.

What about you? What small changes are you making that will contribute to your health over time? 

Walking is the New P90

LJVSince December, I’ve been suffering from piriformis syndrome, a condition that can be roughly described as an ongoing pain in the ass. Basically, the piriformis is a muscle that runs across your rear end, from the outer hip. It’s hard to believe that this little muscle can send you to the ER in an ambulance, though that’s exactly how it started for me in December. After x-rays and an MRI to rule out other causes, I was diagnosed with an unruly butt muscle.

Since then, my piriformis has decided that it likes to cramp continually, one side or the other, causing me continual early morning pain. It’s not fun, though with muscle relaxants and pain killers, I’m able to get it under control most days. Then, fortunately, as the day goes on, it warms up and feels better.

It’s put a huge damper on my exercise program, as every time I feel like I’m back to something resembling normal and can get back to P90 or even yoga, it flares up again. This past week, I’ve decided to go back to basics and just walk for 30 minutes every day. It’s something I can do consistently, it doesn’t seem to cause a flare up and it’s a great way to clear my mind every morning.

It helps that I have my FitBit, too, as I can gauge my activity by steps and stairs. It also helps me realize how few calories a woman my age and weight burns when we’re not active. Yikes!

Sometimes, going back to basics is the best way to get back on track.

What about you? What exercise helps you maintain a consistent level of activity? 

 

Taming My Squirrely Brain

large__4053123799My brain can be so squirrely sometimes. (Is squirrely really a word? I’m not sure.)

I keep telling myself that I can lose weight with a few minor adjustments. In reality, it’s going to take lots and lots of minor adjustments. So far, I’m consistently exercising more, drinking more water or iced herbal tea, and eating more mindfully. Letting go of snacks between meals, unless it’s an apple or something else healthy. Avoiding the donuts and bagels in the kitchen at work. No more snacks on the couch while watching TV. No cream in my coffee. No more donuts on Sunday morning. Reducing gluten-based foods and white carbs.

And the weight’s not coming off. I lose a few pounds, then a few pounds come back. Then I lose a few more. Then they boomerang back and apply themselves to my belly.

My squirrely brain wants to give up. It keeps telling me, “See? You’re stuck. You can’t lose any weight, unless you torture yourself and starve yourself and make yourself miserable. Might as well give up.”

In the past, I’ve lost between 20 and 30 pounds at a time, though it’s always been through that eat-very-little, feel hungry all the time and punish myself kind of way. Then I go back to my normal self and the pounds come back.

Since I’m focused on losing these stubborn pounds in a healthy and sustainable way, I will continue to make changes and keep adding healthy habits. Go take a rest, squirrely brain. I’ve got this one.

What about you? Do you struggle to stay on track when the pounds don’t come off quickly? 

photo credit: Tomi Tapio via photopin cc