Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 181 - The Fast Food Choice

An interesting thought came to me last week. (We just finished two weeks of swim lessons that were at noon) The girl's did wonderful with learning to swim, but the timing was horrible!! (I wasn't thinking when I made the appointment a few months prior) Besides being incredibly hard on Ethan's routine, the timing killed lunch. We couldn't have lunch prior to lessons because you just don't go to swim lessons with full tummies, and we all know why! So many times this past week we grabbed something fast because we could eat it as soon as we got home at 1:30. The days we made lunch we were eating around 2, and that time just messes with dinner.

So, here I am consuming in a week as much fast food as I typically get in 2 months, seriously. The observation I made was that in small amounts, fast food will not put on weight. But there still is a consequence in eating such a poor choice in food groups, nutrition. Eating fast food will get rid of the hunger pains, and that is all. Fast food provides the macro nutrients; fats, carbohydrates and protein, and this will keep you from physically starving, but it's the micronutrients, the vitamins and minerals, that bring health and vitality. You only get these with healthy, living choices of food, unless you count the fortified bun as a good source of vitamins.

There are unavoidable times were the drive through is a must, it's just is when you have kids and busy schedules. But more often then not, it's a choice. What I am trying to remember is that when I have the choice, I would rather spend a little extra time preparing a meal that brings nutrition and vitality-a PB&J (one with just ground nuts and "just fruit" jelly on whole wheat bread) would even count - is better than to have a meal that does nothing more than fill the tummy. When respecting fast food as such, it's easier to make that choice.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Week 1 for Ben- 5 lbs!

I'm down 5 lbs. for the week! I had a good start with a whole body cleanse from GNC and a generally good diet this week.

Day 173 - Motivations For Change - Reason 1: Eat real food in single portions.

The reasons I will post are not in order of importance but rather how they came to my awareness. I have spent a lot of time pondering and analyzing the "why" in this weight loss journey. As reasons come to mind, I will post them.

Today I was thinking about the foods we eat when trying to loose weight. All previous success in weight loss was because I following a certain plan, a certain way of eating. Eating certain foods, measuring, weighing. The thought of putting forth this much effort this time was tiring. I have 4 kids. I home school these kids. I have church responsibilities that take time. I AM BUSY! Most people are!! I do not have time to put a lot of time and thought into what I am going to eat, which is why I have a weight problem! This time, I knew measuring, following a specific plan and eating specific foods wouldn't work for me this time. I had two choices, either find a way to make it simple OR accept the fact that I was a plus sized individual and be happy with it. Option two was way to exhausting to accept! The idea I had was to keep eating regular food. Unfortunately, foods with the least amount of processing tend to have the most fat and calories, but on the plus side, they also have real ingredients. Pick up a jar of regular mayonnaise. Read the ingredients and you will recognize what is used to make the stuff; oil, eggs, vinegar, salt...things you could pull from the cupboard and make yourself-if you had the time! Now pick up some fat free mayo and look at the difference in ingredients-looks like it was made in a lab! We live during a time where we are taught that if we are going to loose weight, we have to eat fat-free, sugar-free, carb-free, to be successful. This time, I decided to prove them wrong--at least I had hoped!

When I decided to start paying attention to what I was eating, I decided to by all means reduce or eliminate some of foods that have no nutrients for our bodies. Ice cream, cake, brownies... (Chocolate is good for the soul so that isn't one I was going to cut out, but I certainly needed to reduce the amount I consumed!) Changing the way I cook so that I can loose weight in a manner that my kids will still eat is quite a time challenge as well as a budget challenge as well. Who has time to cook multiple dinners or money to buy fancy specialty foods so you can make a meal taste better than it really is? I remember cooking items when I did WW that had ooodles of ingredients so that the food would have the same taste and texture as the full fat version. This is fine if you have tons of time, but who has that when the full fat version only had a few, common, household ingredients and was guaranteed to be yummy? The only solution I could find was asked in a question, what if I just eat the foods I cook already, that the family likes and just eat smaller amounts? So that is what I have been doing. We make strogganoff with full fat cream of mushroom and sour cream, bean burritos with real cheese, casseroles full of potatoes, cheese and sauce. I just eat a portion and then fill up on salad that has olive oil and vinegar on it or some other vegetable. The fat is what fills us up and good fat helps our body have healthy skin, shiny hair and strong brains, not to mention helps us utilize the fat soluble vitamins A,D, E & K.

So in summary, make sure you are cooking foods that are full of real foods, get rid of that chemical "diet" food. Find recipes that are easy to make and that your family enjoys because that will make your life simple. When you go out, don't be stressed about what you are going to eat, just eat a portion of whatever is being served. If you are going out, where portions are typically bigger, eat half of what you are served and save the rest for the next day or share with another. At home, eat a portion of whatever you make and add a vegetable. Sometimes, you might not be full, but you won't be hungry. Physically, it doesn't take a lot to kill the hunger pains and if you are hungry again in a few hours, have an ounce of your favorite nut and some water. In the evenings, which is my trigger time, I love a mug of herbal tea with a splash of milk. Most of the time though, after eating regular portions of food, we aren't physically hungry, our appetites are. It's the control of our appetites that we have to mentally deal with. Some people with distract themselves with other activities, others will try to analyze why they want to eat, for me, I just had to not focus on it. The more I focus on my appetite, the more I think of food and we know where that will lead us, back into the kitchen and I don't have time for that. I found that I LOVE books. Getting wrapped up in a good book at the end of the night kept my focus on the storyline instead of my appetite.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Inspiration for Ben

I love seeing good before and after pictures. Although, it seems hard to find really good ones on the Internet.

Anyway, I did find a good blog post from a guy who is the same height and starting weight as me. Look what he was able to do in 7 months!

Another guy doing a one-hand-stand... truly amazing!

I just hope to be healthy and light.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 166 - It happened!

To my surprise this morning, I made it! The scale was 159!! Now to chug through the next 10 pounds. Keep the routine and try to get more veggies into the mix. Great time of year to spend more time moving too. One thing I haven't been getting is enough sleep. Just too easy to stay up and do things while everyone is snoozing. 5-6 hours a night gives me a lot of wake time, but it catches up with you. Balanced meals, smaller portions, daily exercise, enough water and adequate sleep, that's the plan!

Day 166 - Chocolate

I just weighed myself and I am only 1.5 pounds away from the 150's!! That is so exciting because I haven't seen that number on the scale for over 7 years when I was on Weight Watchers. It is so exciting to be able to be doing this on my own, without relying on any sort of program! I have never lost more than a couple of pounds on my own before, never. So this is all a first for me.

With the excitement over the weighing tonight, it's also bittersweet. And when I mean bittersweet, I mean bittersweet chocolate!! I just can't have chocolate in the house. I can only be strong for so long and then I eat it. Not nearly as much or as often as before, but more than I would like. A few days ago I got the chips to make cookies with Abby as a special activity. Who am I kidding? We never made the cookies and I busted the bag open when I was craving something sweet. I have learned that if it's not in the house, I am not going to eat it. Simple as that! It will probably be something I struggle with forever...chocolate runs in my veins!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Day 161

A few things I have learned on my journey

1. If I go to bed just a bit hungry, not starving, just the feeling that I could eat a little bit, I will loose weight. Over a couple of days, the effort shows up on the scale.

2. I am a mom. I prefer, and do cook most meals at home, but there are times, where fast food just happens. There are only a few places I can stand to go to and not leave full of guilt. One of which is In N Out. It's a basic menu, they use basic ingredients, some of them even fresh not frozen. How can you not love that!?! If Panera Bread had a drive through, I would be all over that. I have learned that you can not only eat somewhat healthy if you choose right, you can even keep from gaining from the experience. I find that if I can just eat 1 serving of one thing I can enjoy the experience without stressing out. I use to figure and count and figure again to see what I could order, what would be the lightest, what wouldn't do any "damage". I find that by going infrequently when we do somewhere like In N Out, if I choose a burger, without cheese and with a few fries, I can enjoy the meal, not feel guilty and still stay within my goals. I think the key is to eat just enough to kill the hunger but not stuffed. Even allow yourself to be a little bit hungry at the end.

3. Remember that fat is important. We hear about good fats and bad fats. We know that too much fat is just as bad as not enough fat. Fat is what makes you feel full!! Ever notice you can just pack in the low fat carbs and never really feel full even though you have consumed a ton of calories? It's all about balance! One of my most favorite snacks in nuts. If you are feeling a little bit hungry, grab a handful of nuts and a glass of water. I have found that this kills the hunger and holds me until meal time.

4. I have heard that if you can purge yourself of sugar you no longer crave it. I always thought that hard to believe, probably because I was still getting sugar somewhere since it's a hard habit to break! While I was pregnant with my last baby, I didn't eat sugar for a space of time (I tend to loose my appetite with pregnancy because the baby pushes on the tummy and messes with that whole system) I realized that I wasn't craving sugar and therefore didn't miss it. I thought I would test this theory after the delivery. As soon as I would eat something with sugar, I found myself having cravings, strong ones! But as soon as I stopped eating the sugar for a few days, my control against it got stronger. My favorite thing to do in the evening (when my cravings can be all consuming) is to drink an herbal tea. Some herbal teas can have a sweeter flavor simply from the herbs themselves. I enjoy an added shot of milk which makes the drink get creamy. It's a wonderful evening treat. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I found that if I chill the tea first, it's just as good. Some nights, especially after eating sugar the day before or that day (life happens) I find myself drinking a few mugs of tea. For me, it's a great substitute for eating in the evening.

5. It is all about the water. We see it everywhere, we know we need to, but some days, I just forget to drink it!! Especially if it's not warm outside. But it's a must, must, MUST! A lot of times when we are craving food, it actually means we are thirsty!! Sometimes, if the tea just isn't working for me, if I chug a big glass of water, I can curb a difficult craving. Think of it as drowning your enemy!!

I do not have this perfected yet, I am still learning, but I am finding that this is working for me right now.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ben's Story

Wow! I am actually going to make this public along with some *amazing* before pictures...

Here is my story. I applaud my lovely wife for her honesty in what she shared.

Growing up from my childhood through my later teenage years I had never considered that fact that I could gain weight. As most teenaged boys, I could and did eat anything I wanted in whatever quantities were available. It took a lot of food for me to get stuffed.

As a young adult serving a mission in South Florida and the Bahamas I started to gain weight. It came on slowly,but my shirts and pants still fit (benefit of being a guy ;-). Good Jamacan food in the Bahamas and lots of driving contributed to this.

It was at this time in my life that I started to use food as comfort and reassurance of my worth. I was on my own for the first time and found that I actually had the freedom to choose all of my meals.

Upon arriving home I became more physically active and the pounds melted off steadily. The unfortunate thing was that I was so physically active that I could eat anything at any time (only 21 years old here) and I kept dropped weight.

At a reasonable weight and physical condition I met Karen and not long after getting married, life settled in on me. I subconciously used food as a way to express my independance and adulthood and would eat out as a way to show my independance and control. The weight came back and then some.

Since then (nearly 13 years of marital bliss), I have fluctuated up and down in my weight, having lost many pounds successfully and then finding them again when I got confident.

Only recently have I discovered some things about myself that have played heavily into my condition:
1) As an escape from dealing with my feelings, I turned to food as medication
2) I learned that the heart of my weight problem is emotional and spiritual, not physical
3) Attempts at losing weight in the past failed because I was only treating my problems physically and not their spiritual roots

I am committed to addressing the real issues that cause an unhealthy life and hope to see vitality return as I find balance to all aspects of my life.


Day 160 - Karen's Story

I physically became overweight while I was in my 20's, long before I had children. Although while I was in High School, I thought I was overweight even though I wore a size 6. (How foolish our self image is when we are in High School) So my struggles with my weight has continued for decades, something that has always been there, all consuming, in my adult life.

When the children started to come, one would think I would have gained weight from that experience, but I didn't. Eating for me during pregnancy is very controlled and "normal", normal being that I don't overeat or binge. I have always gained the healthy 20-30 pounds during my pregnancies. I would then return to my pre-baby weight within weeks of delivery, right back to my "before" body which I loathed. The pregnancy weight gain would start to increase around the time my baby was about 4 months. I breastfed them all and I took advantage of that at the table.

After having my second baby, I went to Weight Watchers and lost 50 pounds! It was great to get back to a size 8. Although it felt great to be lighter and at a weight that was classified as healthy, I didn't feel stable. I felt like I was on the edge ALL the time. There was no peace being at a healthy weight, I felt like I had to fight harder to stay there than I had to just to get there. I felt like I would fall off the wagon at any time. I enjoyed the weight but I didn't enjoy the lifestyle it took to stay there. At the pique of my struggles, we found out we were expecting our 3rd child. I was so happy not to struggle any more.

I have often returned to that time in my mind to try to figure out why I was so unsettled. Why was it so hard to stay thin and healthy?? The conclusion I came to was that my mind set didn't change with my body. My body may have been a size 8 but my mind was still plus sized. I "started" the program knowing that there would be a "finish" and that is how I lived it. When I got to the finish line, I didn't know what to do. Since I was nursing, I got extra points with the program. I manipulated the program so that I would eat the food I needed and then use the extra points to eat the junk I craved. I used low-fat, fat-free, carb free, anything so I could fit the junk food within the point range so I could pretty much, "Eat, drink and be merry" with the "drink" being calorie void, heavy chemical laden beverages-not the alcohol type. When I finished the program, I didn't have any tools to do it on my own and I was no longer nursing. The way I used the program to loose weight, wouldn't work now to maintain. Don't get me wrong, Weight Watchers is an AWESOME program and I would recommend it to anyone!! But for me, I learned what I needed from the program and when I went back to it after the 3rd baby, it no longer helped me because my life changed. Weight Watchers was so helpful for me before because Ben worked nights and I was able to go to meetings and work out before he left for work so he could watch the kids. It was easy for me to follow the program and lifestyle in that particular phase in my life.

So after my 4th baby in September, I didn't have much for options. I knew I couldn't go back to Weight Watchers, the only way I have ever succeeded in loosing weight, because my mind set would be the same and I would just manipulate the program again. Also, having 4 children and homeschooling? Going to a weekly meeting wasn't going to be easy especially since Ben leaves around 6am and gets home between 5-6. So I found myself at the end of 2008, desperate. I didn't like where I was weight wise, I knew I would be gaining more weight if I didn't do anything, because I always had around that point post-pregnancy. The New Year was coming and like millions of other people I toyed with the idea of making a weight loss resolution. But we all know how that ends, after a week, we're right back to our old habits even more frustrated that the resolution only lasted a week! How often I have started the year more than ticked off with myself because of my weakness to stick with a resolution!! The cycle would begin...again.

This year, being just tired of the same old thing, the idea of something different popped into my head. I am a compulsive person, I admit it, I understand it, I live with this understanding. I have learned that this personality trait can get you in a lot of trouble, but it can also be a strength, if you apply it in the right area. So this year, 2009, I decided to put the two together, to take advantage of my weakness/strength: Karen Hansen was going to work out on the elliptical trainer every day of the year, 365 days in a row. I knew when I got started I couldn't even skip a day, because then it would be over and I would end up in that miserable place with my body.

I decided I wouldn't start gung-ho either on the workouts. I knew, from prior experience, that if you start off too big, you just can't keep up. Knowing that if I missed for one day that I would just not do it at all, I knew I had to start with a workout that would be easy. Consistency was the key so I made it as easy as possible. It was a habit I wanted to create, so even with a measly 15 minute workout, one that I would typically laugh at for being a "waste of time", I had to focus on creating the habit and nothing more. And so I did. January is a very stress-filled month for me. It's recovery from the holiday whirlwind the month prior, it's flu season, I have 2 birthdays to celebrate and make special for the kids, and it's just the time of year were it's easy to fall in a funk. I eat to deal with stress. So several times in January, I would literally walk off the ET and serve myself a hot fudge sundae. I knew it was crazy, but I was creating a routine!! Needless to say, I did gain a couple of pounds in January because no matter how hard you figure it, a 15 minute workout, on level 1, doesn't wash out a fudge Sunday or an entire day of overeating.

But I had a goal and a plan. Every month I was going to up my workout by 5 minutes. Initially I was going to increase by 5 minutes each month until I ended the year with a workout of 70 minutes. Over the course of this experience, I realized that a 70 minute workout each day wasn't feasible and that it would be hard to keep up the pace. So after a few months I decided to stop the time increase when I reached 30 minutes and then each month I would increase the intensity instead. This is the current plan that I am sticking to and I am liking the results.

Somewhere in February, I was starting to grow in confidence that the habit of the daily workout was going to stick. I had been maintaining my weight, which in and of itself is a good thing, but my desire to drop the weight was as strong as ever. I began to feel a tinge bit of hopefulness. I knew that if I would just eat a little better the workouts and the nursing would work to my advantage. I just don't have time to put into all the planning and recipes that I did the last time I lost weight. I am feeding a family of 6, with 6 different palates!! I decided that I would continue to cook and eat the same foods. I don't like foods that have fake anything so we tend to buy the full fat products for the simple fact that they don't have processed or fake stuff. If you want to see what I mean, next time you go to the grocery store, compare the ingredients of "fat-free sour cream" with that of "regular sour cream". I cook with regular sour cream, real butter, real mayo, whole milk yogurt, make salad dressing with real olive oil and vinegar-REAL FOOD. I decided I would simply make smaller portions for myself.

Once I had made this decision to eat healthier, I noticed something was different. It was the strangest thing and never before in my life had anything happen like this. I would want to drink a hot chocolate after I worked out. Not a bad thing, but it was extra, empty calories. One night, I was literally in the kitchen reaching for the milk when for a split second, I imagined myself drinking the hot chocolate. I thought to myself that it wouldn't taste as good as I was imagining it would taste. It's really hard to explain, but I was able to see that the reality of the treat wouldn't be as good as the perceived thought would be. I decided I didn't want it after all. This kept happening every night for the week and then I didn't even crave a hot chocolate at all. Getting used to this practice, I applied it to dessert. Before digging into a serving, I would imagine that first bite and the pull to consume it would be gone. I would have a bite, enjoy the flavor and the desire to eat the whole thing would be gone and I was satisfied, I felt strong. I was discovering that I was no longer a slave to food!! This is a HUGE thing to me! I have been a slave to food for decades!!!

So, here we are, in June. As of today, I have had 160 workouts in a row (come tonight) and have lost 26.6 pounds. I feel great and for the first time, I feel in control!! I am no longer on a fence, I have a lifestyle that is mine like I enjoy. I don't know what made the change in me. Is it the regular workouts? Is it taking the "beginning" and "ending" of weight loss out of the equation and just knowing that it's a lifestyle I am trying to create giving me the motivation? I don't have these answers now, but I feel someday I will know. I am only half way to the weight I would like to be, but this is a journey and I feel great about it. I can post my before pictures because I am not embarrassed to show them since I no longer look the same at this point in my journey. Our lives are a journey and everything that happens in our lives no matter how big or small, good or bad, these experiences are there to shape our spirits, to strengthen them. I am grateful for my struggles, because I learn so much about myself from them and this I am grateful for.