40 in 40 – After Week 2

So, just like last week, a few thoughts before I get to my stats. I’ve already posted a little about plateaus earlier this week, so we’ll leave that alone for now. Today I wanted to talk about some pros and cons of different ways of measuring progress.

1) Checking measurements/weight every day

Now, I actually don’t check my measurements. There is no reason for this other than that I do not find it helpful; I know that for many people, knowing how many inches they’ve lost (or gained, if they’re trying to build muscle) is a far better motivator than measuring weight loss. Personally, that’s not the case for me right now – maybe in 20 lbs or so, when the losses are coming in at consistently less than a pound a week (because it’s going to happen), but not right now. So we’ll leave the measurement question alone, just because I don’t have any experience with it.

But I do check my weight every day, and there are pros and cons to doing so. The pros are mostly about keeping accountable and understanding correlations; not drinking enough water, for example, can actually cause you to retain the little you DID drink (especially if you ate something salty that day), which can reflect pretty quickly on the scale. The con here is that day-to-day losses are usually tiny if they’re even there at all, so if that’s the kind of thing that gets you down (and I admit it does me sometimes), then daily measurements might not be the way to go.

2) REALLY committing to healthy eating

You’d think this one would be all pros, but not quite. Don’t get me wrong, there are a LOT of pros – meal planning saves huge amounts of money, for one. Your body will take very little time to respond to eating well – and well doesn’t just mean substituting low-fat or sugar-free products wherever you can. My version of healthy eating is eating REAL food, with as little processing as possible. Breakfast every day is 8 egg whites, either mixed with 2/3 c. oatmeal and some cinnamon and cooked like a pancake, or mixed with a cup or so of chopped veggies and cooked like a no-cheese omelette. Lunch is steamed veggies and protein, usually chicken breast (we cook Costco packs of chicken and then freeze it for easy lunches). Dinner is where I can get a little more creative – lean ground turkey cooked with taco seasoning, mixed into a salad; poached cod with fresh dill served on 1/4 c. rice with a side of steamed veggies… you get the idea. We go through a LOT of veggies in this house because of this, but since when is that a bad thing?

The part where it gets challenging is going out. I went out to a friend’s for lunch, and had to bring my own food to make sure it wasn’t cooked in butter or fat or served on pasta or covered in cheese or something. Going to a restaurant has to be a rarity for the same reason. It can also be challenging to come up with creative ways to serve food when pasta is out of the equation, and rice is only a once-in-a-while treat. But facing up to that challenge is such an important part of changing how we perceive food.

3) Doing it all publicly

This is something I’ve chosen to do this time for a lot of reasons. If you’re reading this, then you’re probably one of them. When I very first starting trying to get my health issues under control (weight is only part of the equation – there was also blood pressure, insomnia, nerve problems that caused debilitating back pain, skin problems, etc. etc. etc.), I had a person who I looked up to and admired very much because she had done EXACTLY what I’m trying to do. Her starting point was almost identical to mine. She’s taken it much further than I ever will – she’s now a competitive body builder – but the fact remains that when she started, she was in almost my exact same situation, right down to her stats. So the pros here are that it keeps me accountable and I (hopefully) will inspire someone else – but the con is, it keeps me accountable – so if I mess up I’m also letting down whoever may be following behind.

Ok. Now for the stats:

Starting weight: 215.0 lbs
Current weight: 212.2 lbs

Weight loss this week: 2.8 lbs
Weight loss total: 9.4 lbs

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Mid-week Blues

So last week I posted a little bit about how I was expecting a plateau. Well, expecting something doesn’t always make it suck less… I’m down less than 0.5 lbs this week, and despite the fact that I keep trying to remind myself of all the reasons this shouldn’t get me down (I’m on my period, my body is readjusting to a healthier way of eating, stairs are getting a LOT easier so obviously I’m doing something right, etc. etc. etc.)… it’s still kind of a bummer.

I know you’re not supposed to obsess over the scale. I know these things take time and blah blah blah. But the hard fact is – in no world is 215 lbs a good weight for a woman of my height (5’8″) to be. My goal weight is actually still significantly above the healthy weight range according to the BMI (because we all know that the BMI is totally bogus). And like everyone else, I am a creature of instant gratification – which is what got me into this mess in the first place.

Our entire culture is geared towards the concept that easier and faster is better, and that nothing that requires hard work or commitment is worth doing. Think about this with me for a minute. There are commercials out there for products that claim, verbatim, to help you lose weight (specifically body fat!) without working out or changing how you eat. There’s a pill out there claiming to do exactly what I’m trying to accomplish, but without all of the sweat and frustration of how I’m doing it. And there’s an instant solution for everything. Low self esteem? You must be depressed, take a pill. Kid not doing well in school? Must have ADHD, take a pill. Or maybe the kid is rebellious and argumentative. We call that oppositional defiance disorder and let’s give them some antipsychotics.

And then this instant-solution mindset starts to take over everything else in our lives.

Fighting with your spouse? Get a divorce. Fighting with your boss or coworkers? Quit your job. Want a bigger house? Here, have a bigger mortgage. Car, clothes, coffee – want, want, want, – now, now, now. We don’t work for anything anymore, and because of that, we don’t value anything either. You can see it everywhere – a byproduct of the incredibly entitled, lazy, narcissistic generation we find ourselves in the midst of.

Ok, that got a little deep there. My point is – I’m bummed out, but that doesn’t mean that quitting is a good idea. Instead, I’ve decided to use this week to try and remember the following things:

1) Do things on purpose. Going for a walk? Concentrate on using the muscles in your calves as much as possible. Making supper? Take a moment to really think about the food you’re making and the people who will eat it. Is it good fuel? Will it help their bodies and yours? When you do things on purpose, those things become more meaningful – and life doesn’t “just happen” to you anymore.

2) Appreciate more, demand less. So the result I’m getting isn’t exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, how I wanted. I KNEW that the pace couldn’t keep up with week 1. What I need to do is appreciate the fact that I can get to the top of the stairs of the waterslide without wheezing; I can go for over 30 minutes on the elliptical; I can lift up my son with ease. I’m trying to find the grace in every day.

There was a third thing, but at the moment, I don’t remember it. If I ever do I’ll come back and edit this.

As always, thanks for reading!

40 in 40 – After Week 1

Ok, it’s the end of week 1! And before I post my stats, I want to post a couple of quick notes:

First, the first week or two of any lifestyle change tend to have the most significant results. I do NOT expect these results to continue on every week. In fact, I’m 100% certain, based on past experience, that I will run into a massive plateau around week 3 or so. More on that when it comes. The point here is that my stats this week are not typical, and are caused mostly by water loss – when you start actually drinking enough water, your body doesn’t hang onto it so desperately.

Second, I’m taking a two-pronged approach here: I’m both eating a very structured meal plan, and working out at every possible opportunity. I’m doing yoga every evening, strength training 5 mornings in 7, and hopping onto my elliptical every time I can cobble together 20 or more minutes. And when I say structured meal plan, I mean – 1950 cals/day of lean protein and vegetables. By no means am I starving myself!

Now then, for the big reveal:

Starting weight: 221.6
Current weight: 215.0

Weight loss this week: 6.6 lbs
Weight loss total to date: 6.6 lbs

Check back next Sunday for another week of stats!

Four Days In

So I’m a few days into week one and I figured I’d write a little about what I’ve (re) learned. See, this actually isn’t the first kick at the weight-loss, fitness can for me. I put on a huge amount of weight during and after pregnancy, and when my son was 10 months old I weighed in at 275 lbs. There are a lot of adjectives I could use to describe that number – embarrassing, disgusting, revolting, humiliating – but to me, the most relevant one is dangerous.

Being severely overweight when you have kids isn’t just irresponsible. It isn’t just selfish. It’s perpetuating a cycle; it’s imposing your own hedonistic tendencies on your offspring; and it increases the likelihood of them losing a parent at too young an age.

Kids see and hear everything we do and say. This became obvious when my son was talking about “healthy choices” for snack time by my third day of healthy eating. No matter what you preach, if you don’t practice it won’t sink in. But if you lead by example, then even a four year old will get on board.

Ok. Off the soapbox. This last few days has been tough, as I’ve essentially gone cold turkey (again) from processed sugar. I’ve also cut about 90% of all processed food period. I am still having the odd diet pop (yes yes evils of artificial sweetener etc etc), and also sugar free syrup in my coffee. But I’m drinking water all day long, instead of coffee or pop all day long – the coffee and pop is now a treat, not a default setting.

Sugar is my biggest enemy. I’m addicted to food the way that some people are addicted to nicotine or heroin. Eating, especially high-sugar, high-fat processed foods, is a dopamine-seeking behaviour for me. Because of this I have a really difficult time with the concept of moderation. Please let me stress: that’s ME. Most people can eat a cookie once in a while and it’s not a big deal. I struggle with both the “one cookie” part and the “once in a while” part. I’m more of a half-a-pie-every-night-after-the-kids-are-in-bed kind of a snacker. And a two-candy-bars-and-a-bag-of-chips-in-the-office-every-day kind of snacker. I have a serious eating problem because I engage in these behaviours even though I know that they are terribly damaging. I had them under control for a long time, and then fell off the wagon in February last year. I put on 37 lbs in less than 11 months. This is not a typical yo-yo diet that we are talking about either; I actually have trouble eating all the food I’m supposed to most days. The problem though is that at the same time I’m thinking I can’t eat one more bite of steamed vegetables or baked chicken breast or oatmeal or poached fish or whatever, I’m also thinking about making those awesome brownies I saw on Facebook today or maybe just whipping up some nachos or a milkshake would sure be awesome right now…

See? Problem.

But the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. And there’s something soothing about letting it all hang out. Combined with the fact that social media and blogging are shown to have similar effects on dopamine levels as many other addictive behaviours, and you might understand why I’ve decided to blog about this journey!

Thanks for reading. Official stats will be posted on Sunday!

Disclaimer: I wrote this post on my phone so it’s a little bit stream-of-consciousness; hard to write a coherent post when you can only see five lines at a time!

Welcome to my 40 in 40 blog!

This blog is modeled after the 40 in 40 column by Terry Farrell, which was published in 2011/2012 by the Daily Herald Tribune in Grande Prairie. One of his columns can be found here.

My goal is to lose 40 lbs (or more!) by my wedding on December 13, 2014. I plan to do this through a combination of healthy eating, increased general activity level (walking to work, etc), and at least 4 actual workouts that combine cardio and strength training per week.

I’m blogging this experience to keep myself accountable, and I hope you’ll all help me! If I’m late posting updates (which will come on Sundays at the very least), please tell me! If you KNOW I ate a Reese’s that week, call me out on it! I need all the help and support I can get.

Looking forward to spending the next 40 weeks with you!