Health

The Skinny Diaries

Last year, the holidays fell conveniently during a major lapse in my weight loss efforts, where I regained half of the weight I had lost over the course of 10 months.

This year, I was .4 pounds over my goal at my Weight Watcher’s meeting, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  By then, I had been a member of WW for 21 months, and I had worked with a therapist and a dietician for two years prior to that.  I was determined to reach this milestone, holidays or not.

I rolled over 4 weekly points everyday, and brought fruit trays to both of the Thanksgiving gatherings I attended on Thursday.  I happily enjoyed reasonable portions of all of my favorite foods, and ended the day having eaten a respectable 45 points, while enjoying fun, stress-free times with my friends and family.

If this were my final exam, I passed with flying colors!  On December 3, 2019, after 3 decades of restricting, then binge eating, I reached my weight goal.

I knew this was a huge personal victory, but what surprised me was to learn how rare of a victory it was.  My heaviest weight had put me in the category of “obesity,” and I now have a BMI of 20, which puts me close to the lower end of my healthy weight range.  I lost 60 pounds and went from a size 14 to a size 0.

My research showed me that .8% of women with obesity, ever reach a healthy weight.  Of those who do, the statistics for maintaining that weight are significantly better, with only 78% regaining the weight they lost.

So I did, in fact, do the nearly-impossible.

My journey and eventual success have provided me with some unique observations on the obesity epidemic and our cultural attitudes toward weight loss and diet.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1.  We need to separate “weight” from “worth.”

Weight is a weighty topic.  We all assume that somewhere out there, everyone else is thin and staying that way effortlessly, while we are the lone fat kid in the corner of the room.  This is not the case.  Most Americans are overweight, and this is the case in most other western nations as well.  It is a societal issue, not a deficit in one person’s willpower or character.

For me, one of the biggest turning points was when I could weigh myself without judging that number.  Weight is a data point.  Being overweight causes healthy problems and shortens life expectancy.  It is a health issue.

However, that does not mean that a person can not be beautiful at any size.  It does not mean that a person is not worthy at every size.  We need to stop judging ourselves and everyone else and band together to get to the root of this problem that is affecting our society as a whole.

I was pretty in this picture too!

2.  We need to ditch the thinking that a quick fix even exists.

Everyone wants to lose weight.  But here’s the catch: They want to lose is FAST.  Like now.  In time for Christmas.  In time for the class reunion or wedding.  We don’t want to diet forever.

But it isn’t about temporarily depriving ourselves, using willpower, then going back to our old patterns.  The way we eat now, has made us gain weight.  Going back to the way we eat now, will make us gain more weight.  Trying a quick fix might lead to some water weight loss initially, but sustaining such a way of eating is really not possible over the long term.

Losing weight meant changing my habits permanently.  It meant making changes I could live with, which meant that the weight came off slowly.  It meant getting back on track the multitude of times I slid back into my old habits.  It meant dealing with my tendency to emotionally eat.  It meant changing the situations that led me to have those emotions in the first place.

I quit my job and found another.  I left my closest friends and chose to spend my time with different people.  I quit drinking.  I changed my patterns of communication and interaction.  This wasn’t done overnight.

3.  We need to remember what a healthy weight looks like.

At my WW meeting tonight, I learned that most people quit either in their second week, or 10 pounds from their goal.  The latter might surprise some people, but I did not find it surprising at all.

As soon as I approached my healthy weight range, I began getting “concerned” comments, that I had “lost enough weight.”  The comments only increased in their frequency and intensity as I approached my goal.  Strangers and barely-known acquaintances began to voice their concern that I was losing too much weight.

But here is the thing.  I am not underweight at all.  In fact, I could lose 7 more pounds and still be at a healthy weight.  Because everyone around us is overweight or obese, we have forgotten what a healthy weight looks like.

Not actually fat. Not underweight either.

4.  We need to change our negative attitude toward weight loss.

Yes, you know I am not a fan of memes.  But the ones about weight loss are the worst.

While it is true that we all have a collective frustration at the difficulty of losing weight, simply reinforcing that negativity does nothing to change anything.  The truth is that we can do hard things.  We can do seemingly impossible things.  But we don’t get there by constantly repeating that we can not do it, even if our repetition is under the guise of humor.

No. Just no.

Another theme in our memes and in our conversations, centers around the notion that eating healthy means deprivation.  Yet through most of my weight loss journey, I ate ice cream everyday at lunch time.  Whenever there is cake in the lounge at work, I help myself to a small portion.  I eat tacos.  I eat pizza.  But I do not overeat these things.  There is nothing luxurious or self-care related about overeating.  It is an addiction and a coping mechanism.  True self-care will make overeating seem ridiculous.

So those are some observations I have made on my journey so far.  I am sure that as I continue into maintenance and work on other aspects of my personal growth and development, I will have more lessons to share with all of you.

 

 

Health, Minimalism, Philosophy

Create

Good morning, friends, and happy black Friday.

I know that I have taken a break from blogging, but I have most certainly not been idle.  It has been a time of change and re-invention.

As of yesterday, I am now 8 months sober.  It’s not even a big deal anymore, in my daily life.  I have learned that diet Coke is often free at bars, but Pellegrino is not.  And that the best bars put lots of cherries in their diet Cokes.

shirley temple

This fall, I started a new job doing behavior intervention at a small charter school.  Working full time again has taken some adjustment, and I have had some triggers from the past that I have had to confront.  But I love what I do, and I love my co-workers and students.

A surprising change in this arena, has been that Iliana is also attending the school where I work!  The program she had been in, in the traditional public school she had been attending, was only available at a junior high that was 30 minutes away by car.  The bus ride got to be too much, and I did not like the difficulty I had being involved and communicating with her teachers, due to the distance.  So after two weeks, we transferred her to the school where I work!

 

Charter schools are simply independently run public schools, that are not part of an ISD or school district.  They are 100% school of choice, so they tend to be smaller.  Iliana has thrived with the individual attention she is getting!  She is in pre-AP math and has tested out of speech (which is HUGE, because the language delay/disorder was the most significant part of her disability).  She works with a special ed teacher and counselor on her social-emotonal issues and is doing very well.  (And what could be better for a minimalist wardrobe, than adorable school uniforms!)

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The biggest change for me is not I am not as big as I used to be!  On Tuesday, I will most likely reach my weight goal at Weight Watchers.  But that is just a formality.  The hard work is finished!

I have read from multiple sources that only .8% of obese women ever reach a healthy weight.  Most people would consider a probability like that to be impossible.  And yet here I am.  I have lost 60 pounds and plan to never need to lose 60 pounds again!

So I have done the impossible.  Now what?  While I will be focusing on maintenance and still attending Weight Watcher meetings and using their tools, I know it is time to move forward and work on new goals.  (Here are before and after pictures!)

 

And thinking of those goals, brings me to my one-word theme for 2020.  Do people still do one word themes?  I am not sure, but I definitely will be!  And my one-word theme for 2020 is, “Create.”

create

I have already survived.  I have already faced my inner demons and completely changed my life.  All that remains now is to work on the, “so what?”  It is time to create the reality that I want to experience.

I know a one-word theme is open-ended, but I do have some specific goals I would like to start with.  Maybe these will be my goals for the year, or maybe they will grow and change.  My immediate goals are:

  1.  Reconnect with the blogging community and write a blog post at least once a week.  I will set aside a specific time to write, when no one is allowed to interrupt me.  Not being firm on this has led to my lapses in blogging in the past.
  2. Work on my stretching and flexibility on a regular basis.  Do stretching exercises at least 5 days a week.
  3. Run a half marathon.  Run at least 3 days a week for now, because the stretching will help more than anything.
  4. Declutter and fix up the boat to the point where it is everything I want it to be.  Do the budgeting to make this happen and make it a priority.
  5. Connect with positive people, rather than letting negativity suck me in.  Be kind, but stop personalizing people’s bad moods.

So this is what I will be working on in the next year!  I look forward to sharing it with all of you!

 

 

About Us, Health

Weight Watchers on the Go!

We spent the past week visiting family and tying up loose ends in Michigan.

It was a week of changes and travel.  We flew to a hotel in Detroit, rented a car and drove to our hometown of Midland, spent 3 days staying in a travel trailer at my father-in-law’s house, visited with my grandmas for one day, drove 3 hours to Grand Haven where we cleaned out our old sailboat, spent a rainy night tent camping on the beach, drove 3 more hours to Buchanan to visit my brother-in-law and meet my new nephew, spent one night at their house, then drove for 3 days with our friends who moved to Texas, camping along the way.

Whew!

At my Weight Watchers meetings, we have talked a lot about vacations.  The consensus is that these are times to maintain, or even just try to minimize the weight gain.  It is perfectly okay not to track while on vacation.

This is all well and good, except that I had fallen off the wagon big time in the two weeks before we left.  I gained weight at two meetings in a row.  I was feeling anxious and lethargic, and I really needed to get back on track.  When I eat better, I feel better.

So I tracked everything I ate on this trip, enjoyed some yummy treats, and planned ahead for each scenario we encountered.  While this might not sound like fun, it actually helped me to feel better physically and mentally.  I kept a level head throughout the trip and had a much higher energy level than I have in the past.

I do not weigh in until Wednesday, so we don’t know the official end result.  But looking at my own scale, I lost somewhere between 2-4 pounds.

How did I have an amazing time, eat yummy food, and still lose weight?  Let me tell you about each scenario and how I handled it!

Friday: Flying Out

Rob and I discussed our meal plans for the airport, ahead of time.  We knew we would be eating there, since we like to give ourselves plenty of time to get through security.  I looked on the airport’s website and saw that there is a Chick-Fil-A there.  I had planned on ordering grilled nuggets, which are 1 point, but they did not offer them.  After quickly consulting my app, I ordered a grilled chicken market salad with no dressing.  This was 5 points, and it tasted amazing, even without the dressing.

For the flight, I packed my favorite 0 point snack–boiled eggs!

A quick tidbit of wisdom: If you are flying with a bag of boiled eggs, take them out of your bag when you go through security.  While they are not considered liquids, the scanner identifies them as such, which can lead to having your bag searched.  Of course the TSA agents found this highly amusing, as they had never encountered someone flying with a bag of eggs before!

Saturday: At the Hotel and On the Road!

We spent our first night at a hotel in Detroit, where we were treated to a continental breakfast.  I enjoyed 1/4 of the gigantic waffles made by the machine, for 2 points.  I also grabbed some 0 point fruit.

We then drove our rental car 3 hours to Midland, and we stopped at a grocery store on the way.  I bought provisions for my favorite on-the-road lunch: sandwiches.  We bought low-calorie bread (1 point per slice), light mayo (1 point per tablespoon), 98% fat free turkey lunch meat (0 points for 3 slices, 1 point for a full serving), and water.  I also grabbed some fruit, fat-free cheese, Greek yogurt, and ranch mix to use once we reached our destination.

Saturday Night and Sunday: Visiting and Cooking Collaboratively

We arrived at my father-in-law’s house in time for dinner, which was sloppy joes.  My stepmother-in-law and I always prepare meals together when I visit, so using the substitutions I brought was not a problem.  (I do have a rule that I will eat anything that is homemade when visiting, because cooking is an act of love). I used my low-calorie bread and kept my sandwich open-faced.  Ground beef is 4 points, sloppy joe sauce is 1 point, and the bread was one point.  I had been conservative in my point values, so I also had enough points to enjoy some 4 point potato salad!

My stepmother-in-law keeps a fruit bowl in her kitchen, and she said we were welcome to munch on it during our stay.  Whenever I was hungry, I nibbled on grapes.  We planned breakfast together and ended up having French toast (made with my low-calorie bread, so it was 1 point per slice) with homemade strawberry syrup (I made mine without sugar, so it was 0 points), and sausage (3 points).  The next morning, we had scrambled eggs (I used fat free cheese in mine, so they were 0 points) and sausage.

Lunch was, of course, sandwiches, and we went out for pizza on Sunday.  This may seem like an impossible situation, but I had one slice of pizza, which I ate mindfully and thoroughly enjoyed.  Then I finished my meal with a salad with no dressing.

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Yes, my high school mascot was the Chemic!

Monday: Conquering the Chinese Buffet!

I treated myself to an early-morning yoga class on Monday.  This got me some exercise, which I had been lacking, and helped me to stay positive and energized!

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After having eggs for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, we headed off to visit my grandmas.  We spent a lovely time with my grandma Eileen at her house, then went to do some work at my grandma Misty’s house. (Her real name is Elaine, but I called her grandma Misty as a child, because I got my two grandma’s names mixed up.  Fun fact: “Elaine” and “Eileen” are both variants of “Iliana”!)

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When we moved to Texas, we left some items behind, and they eventually ended up my grandma’s garage.  Our mission on this trip was to remove these items and drive them back to Texas in my father-in-law’s truck, which we were borrowing.

But before we set to work, we needed to eat.  And we have a long-standing tradition of eating at Chinese buffets with my grandma and my Aunt Anne.

Yikes, right?  Nope.  Yum!

I began with hot and sour soup, for 3 points.  Then I loaded up on 0 point shrimp and vegetables.  I decided to have small servings and sesame chicken and General Tso’s chicken for 3-ish points, then used the rest of my points on Szechuan chicken (7-ish points) and half of an egg roll (3 points).  I left feeling full and satisfied, without going over on my daily points!

Tuesday: Rainy, Yucky, and Stressful!

Then Tuesday happened.  After a healthy breakfast of eggs and sausage, we drove to Grand Haven to work on Moonraker, our old boat.  In the summer of 2012, we had sailed Moonraker from Bay City, on Lake Huron, to Grand Haven, on Lake Michigan.  We had dry docked the boat with the mast down, planning on beginning the Great Loop the next summer.  However, we moved to Texas instead, and the boat has been dry docked ever since.

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We were determined to make this our last “working” trip to Michigan, so that meant that we had one day to empty and clean the boat, so that we could make arrangements for the marina to broker it.

The good news:  The boat was in remarkably good shape.

The bad news:  It was yucky and rainy all day.

I had hoped to make it to a yin yoga class in Grand Haven that evening, but the traffic we encountered on our trip to the store made that impossible.  We finished at 6:30 on the dot.  I had thought that the office closed at 6:30, but they actually closed at 6.  So we weren’t able to sign over the title.  We will do that by mail.

That evening we headed to our wet campsite on the beach.  I had made reservations when the forecast looked good, or otherwise, we would have stayed at a hotel.  We had found a tent in my grandma’s garage, which she said we could have.  The stakes did not take hold in the sand, so it drooped.

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That evening I was hangry!  Grand Haven was supposed to be the high point of our trip, and it was nothing but yuck.  We were not really able to enjoy one of our favorite port towns, from our sailing trip.

I didn’t make sandwiches for dinner.  I went to Subway.

Did I order a salad?  A low-fat sub?

Nope.

I got myself a pizza.  With extra cheese.  And not fat free cheese either.  Rob and I split a large bottle of wine.

And I tracked none of it.

Iliana, however, had a great time.  She played with the other kids in the campground and loved the sand.  We saw a lovely sunset over the water and watched the musical fountain, which had been a mainstay of our week on the seawall in Moonraker.

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Wednesday:  Visiting my Foodie Brother-in-Law

Wednesday is supposed to be my weigh-in day, and I had found a meeting near my brother-in-law’s house in Buchanan.  If we broke camp at 6 am, I could make it.

We broke camp at 8:30.

So I had no idea how much damage I had done, but my weekly points had reset.  I carefully chose a breakfast sandwich from Subway, tracked the points, and enjoyed the drive to Buchanan.

After finally meeting my 7 month old nephew, Will, we discussed our plans for the day.  We decided to make our own wraps before heading to a winery.  We were treated to a tasting, before settling on the most wonderful, caramelly tasting Pinot Grigio I have ever experienced.

Then we returned home for dinner and my brother-in-law made us very large, very delicious steaks, with mashed potatoes.  I finished a portion much larger than a deck of cards and enjoyed every bite.

Breakfast was the most wonderful biscuits and gravy that I have ever eaten, along with hash brown potatoes.  And orange juice.

By the time we left that morning, I had 0 weekly points remaining.  Yes, I ate them all in one day!  (And if the truth be told, I actually went into the negative by 18!)  I have no regrets.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: Road Trip!

After eating that breakfast, we hit the road, so we could meet up with our friends who were moving to Texas.  I bought fruit and boiled eggs for snacks (both are 0 points), and we ate sandwiches for lunch.

We camped in the evening and grilled turkey hot dogs (2 points) over the fire.  Breakfast was fruit over Greek yogurt, and I added a salad with my lunch that day.

Lots of water, lots of salad and sandwiches, and lots of fruit and boiled eggs.  Every morning, we stopped at the grocery store before we left.

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The trip was not without adventure! Luckily, the tire was quickly patched!

Friday night, we stayed at a campground with a fitness center.  I stepped on the scale in the evening, when I was full of water weight, and saw that I had lost 2 pounds!  I am excited to see how I do at my weigh-in on Wednesday!