Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Another Reason to Fight the Fat"

As part of my job I read the local newspapers and magazines every day/week. This morning I grabbed the Las Vegas Review Journal and on the front page a headline read "another reason to FIGHT THE FAT." Well, this certainly caught my attention since I am, indeed, overweight, and also because I've become so much more aware of my weight and losing weight within the last month and a half.

Although it wasn't an article I had to read for any work-related purposes, I took the time to read through this side-bar of sorts that gave details about a new study released in the medical journal, BMJ, by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Boston Obesity Nutrition Research Center.

The gist of the study showed that being fat during middle age may hinder women's chances of making it to their golden years in good health by almost 80 percent. This means that women who are overweight in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s have an almost 80 percent decreased chance of surviving to 70-years-old in good health (defined as being free of chronic disease and having enough mental and physical ability to perform daily tasks such as grocery shopping, vacuuming or walking up a flight of stairs).

American researchers observed more than 17,000 female nurses with an average age of 50 in the United States. At the time the study began, 1976, all women were in good health. Researchers monitored the women's weight and health and tracked changes every two years until 2000.

In this study, for every one-point increase in their Body Mass Index (BMI), women had a 12 percent lower chance of surviving to age 70 in good health. For every 2.2 pounds of weight gained since the age of 18, women's odds of surviving past 70 years old dropped by 5 percent. Likewise, women overweight at the age of 18 who gained more than 22 pounds later in life only had a 20 percent chance of surviving to age 70 in good health.

The article also described previous studies conducted regarding similar topics. A British study published earlier in 2009 found that obese people die about three years earlier than normal while those who are morbidly obese die, on average, a decade earlier. Another study also found that men are probably equally at risk for these results since fat acts largely the same way in both genders.

I took some time after reading this to compare it to my own life. At the age of 18 I wasn't overweight, but I was starting to gain weight more regularly. It wasn't until 20-years-old or so that I would have been consistently considered overweight, and I didn't reach the label of obese until I was almost 24 and worked behind a desk for a living. According to this study, I am definitely one of the women whose chances of being in good health at the age of 70 is decreasing. The article didn't say anything else and no other details were given about what people can do to try and curb this trend or whether or not losing the weight then re-increases the chances of survival. I have to assume that, for someone like me who is still quite young, if I take the time to correct my eating habits, slim down and exercise regularly that I still have a fighting chance of shimmery golden years. Regardless of that study and my own "percentages" I'm still trekking on. Only time will tell how my health shapes up.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Clothing Issue

Last week my mom asked about clothes. She asked, "When can I expect to drop a size?" My answer for her was simple and extremely honest, "I have no idea."

Everyone trying to lose weight, and/or successfully losing weight is different. No matter what's being eaten, how much exercise is involved, etc., where the body loses the fat from first changes from person to person. My mom commented that she thinks she's losing the weight in her face and chest first, but not where she wants it gone the most -- her stomach. So, I thought about it for a few minutes, and I think I'm actually lucky because I'm losing it from my stomach and sides right off the bat.

Today is a good day to talk about this topic for me because last night I got inspired enough to try on a LBD (little black dress) that I bought when I first moved here two years ago. I have never worn it out in public, and I quickly outgrew it since I put on weight like I was stocking up for an Alaskan winter. So, last night I went into the closet, pulled out the dress and shimmied into it. I was floored to find out that it actually fit. Not only did it fit, but it looks pretty darn cute and it feels like an even better fit than I remember from when I first bought it. Whether that last part is true or not, who knows. I even brought Mike into the closet with me in case I needed someone to help wrestle me out of a too-tight piece of clothing.

Since the dress fit so great last night, I decided to take what I thought was a risk and where it to work with dressy sandals and a sweater. Turns out it looks pretty good because I've already received three compliments and it's only 8:30 a.m.!

So, my entire point with this story about the dress is that even just a little change (16 pounds so far for me) can have a huge impact on how clothes hang on your body. I still have a gut, and love handles, and what I consider to be a huge butt, but my pants aren't too snug around the waist, shirts are falling straight without clinging and I fit into that LBD! But then again, maybe it isn't that 16 pounds changed how clothes look on me, but maybe I'm gaining just a little bit of confidence and I'm changing how I view myself. Could that be it? Could confidence be the main factor? I guess only time will tell!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Inspirational Reading

One thing Vegas is known for is good food and plentiful buffets. After living in this town for any amount of time that can definitely catch up with you. Gary Mahoney, former Las Vegas casino owner recently released his first book, “The Last Cookie Club.”

Based on his own experiences with fighting his battle with food addiction, the book uses fictionalized characters that easily hit close to home for anyone trying to lose weight or who has lost weight in the past.

Nearly all his life, Gary has battled an addiction to food. His passion throughout that time has been investigating a variety of programs and treatments, learning all he could about his addiction to help himself and others suffering from this and similar destructive behaviors.

Thus, “The Last Cookie Club” goes beyond tactics and fad diets to uncover the real reasons why people overeat. By turns poignant, humorous and enlightening, “The Last Cookie Club’s” all-too-human characters travel on an unforgettable journey of joy and sorrow, triumph and despair that anyone who has faced that last cookie at 3 a.m. and asked, “What do I do now?” can surely understand.

The club, which Gary began in 2005 while still owner of Mahoney’s Silver Nugget in North Las Vegas, included Gary's employees as well as patrons of the Silver Nugget. The club still lives on today, reminding its members that they’re not alone in their battles.

Gary also has an on-going blog and updates his continuing adventure with his addiction to food. You can read more about it at In hopes of inspiring more people to face their weight problems and fight them head-on, Gary is launching The Last Cookie Club radio show on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The weekly show will air from 4-5 p.m. every Tuesday on on KLAV Radio 1230 (Las Vegas). Who knows, maybe I'll even be lucky enough to be one of his guests in the future too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Turned the Car Around

I don't have anything profound to say today, but I did want to share with everyone that I'm proud of my actions. Yesterday was a difficult day for me food-wise because I was craving pasta and pizza and carbs like you wouldn't believe. I wanted nothing more than to go to Olive Garden and devour the Garlic Herb Chicken Con Broccoli or have dinner at BJs and have the Parmesan chicken pasta. I felt like I needed it. I even spent a fair amount of time rationalizing the decision to be "naughty" at dinner by saying I've been great for more than a month, I can work it off tomorrow etc. etc.

When Mike called on his way home from work last night we talked about what to have for dinner. The conclusion we came to? Let's go to BJs for an early dinner since it's just down the road. The plan was that I would meet him there, so I got ready, hopped in my little BMW and started driving out of the neighborhood. I didn't even make it to the main road before I had second thoughts and guilt about heading to BJs with the intention of scarfing down Parmesan pasta. Not only was it pasta, I thought, but it's lathered in creamy Parmesan sauce and served with garlic crustinis. Yum!

I must have sat at the stop sign for more than a minute with my head in the clouds and the angel and devils on my shoulders battling out the pros and cons of meeting Mike at the restaurant or turning around and going home. Thankfully no car ever came up behind me otherwise I would have looked like a lunatic. I eventually came to the decision I needed to make and I called Mike. I told him to head home instead of heading to the restaurant. When I hung up with him I whipped a u-turn and headed back on the exact path I had just driven not 2 minutes before. When I pulled into the garage and went inside, the dogs were ecstatic to see me so soon, like they thought I had left forever. It was at that point that I realized just how pinnacle a moment I just had. I had made the decision to give in to temptation, then managed to work my way out of it in order to make better decisions.

I rarely say I'm proud of myself, and if anyone has a low self-esteem, it's me, but last night as I ate something much healthier than that delicious parmesan pasta, I gave myself a little pat on the back and remembered that once I've eaten and I'm full, that pasta doesnt even sound that great anyway.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The New BMI (Body Mass Index)?

Leave it to a professor from the University of Nevada, Reno to come up with a new system for figuring out what a person's healthy and optimal weight should be. For decades, literally, people have calculated their optimal weight using the Body Mass Index (BMI) which uses height and weight to calculate an estimate of their body fat. However, it isn't an exact science, but more a tool to find out where you should be as far as weight and BMI are concerned according to your height.

For instance, I weigh 213 pounds and I'm 5'6". My current BMI is 34.4, well above the healthy range for a person my height. The healthy BMI range is 18.5 to 24.9. My goal of weighing 150 pounds puts me right into that healthy BMI range with a 24.2. I thought these numbers were a bit strange, however, because when I calculated my range the BMI said I could be as low as 114 lbs or as high as 156 lbs and still be considered healthy. No offense to the BMI, but if I was 114 lbs then I would be in danger of looking like I had an eating disorder.

So, those discrepancies are exactly what sparked George Fernandez, a professor of applied statistics and director of the Center for Research Design and Analysis at the University of Nevada, Reno to reevaluate the BMI system and find a new, better way to determine one's Max Weight Limit (MWL). For the entire press release, visit, otherwise, here is a primer.

Fernandez says every person, male or female, has an optimal max weight limit. Furthermore, that number can be determined using basic algebra. He says that there is a baseline height for males and females that can be used to determine the optimal weight; for males it is 5'9" and for females it is 5'0". Also, for men the base weight is 175 lbs and for women it is 125 lbs. For each inch off the baseline height, add or subtract five pounds. When you calculate your height with the additional or subtracted weight, then that is your Max Weight Limit.

I am 5'6", so I am 6 inches above the 5' standard. For each of the extra 6 inches, I add 5 pounds for each inch, so an additional 30 pounds can be added to the base weight of 125 lbs. According to Fernandez's method, I can weigh up to 155 lbs (125+30) and still be considered healthy.

For me, it seems this method turns out alright since it appears to line up really well with the BMI calculations. However, I heard about this when I was listening to Mark & Mercedes in the Morning on Mix 94.1, and there were men calling in to talk about what their optimal weight was and it seemed to be very low for a healthy, strong man. If I remember correctly, one man weighed around 230 lbs at about 6'4" and was considered to be in great shape, but he's more than 20 lbs heavier than Fernandez's study recommends.

I guess this just means that it's not an exact science either! Maybe the best way to determine whether someone is at a healthy weight or not is to actually be healthy. Eating healthy, exercising and getting the recommended physicals at the doctor is definitely one of the most effective ways to keep in shape.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Doing It For the Right Reasons

Last week I asked the question, "What's your motivation for losing weight?" and I was secretly terrified of the responses I was going to receive. When the poll closed, however, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. I offered four possible answers and each person could only choose one. The people taking the poll could choose from these answers: myself, my spouse, family or social acceptance.

When I originally posted the question, I was scared that the majority of the responses would be for the spouse or social acceptance, but in reality, most people said they were losing weight for themselves.

Here's how the poll turned out:
Myself - 66%
My Spouse/Significant Other - 6%
My Family - 0%
Social Acceptance - 26%

What a fricken relief, seriously!

The reason I asked this question to anyone willing to answer was because I have spent a lot of time thinking about why I'm losing weight, and likewise, I've also spent a fair amount of time defending why I'm losing weight to other people. With my wedding right around the corner (less than 9 months away), when I tell people I started losing weight recently, they automatically seem to believe that I'm losing weight for that purpose. WRONGO! If I wanted to drop pounds for one day of my life then I'd probably choose a crash diet or something that allows me little hassle over a long period of time. However, I chose to change my entire lifestyle and every single eating habit I have because I want to be healthy again, I want to learn how to lose weight and keep weight off, and I want to look my best over a long period of time.

When thinking about the why, I've examined all of the options I listed, my family, my spouse-to-be and social acceptance, but none of them are my driving factor. I'm almost 26 years old, I gave up giving a crap about what society thinks of me a long time ago. If I got discouraged every time I saw some hot twenty-something in a short dress and long legs then I would have moved from Las Vegas and entered hibernation two years ago. I just want to be happy. That's it. And, I know I won't be happy with myself or happy in general until I make the changes necessary to get that way.

When it comes to my family and my spouse-to-be, I've never felt pressure from either category to look a certain way or be a specific weight. I've honestly never been around more supportive people. Like my personal goal, I've been told time and time again that me being happy with myself is the most important thing.

I'd be lying if I said looking amazing on my wedding day didn't cross my mind, but if I haven't reached my ultimate goal by that day it really doesn't matter! My wedding day isn't the end -- of my diet or my life -- it's exactly the opposite. My wedding day is the start of something new, and I hope by that point I've instilled in myself the necessary skills and habits to move forward with the best intentions and a happy state of mind.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Inspiration Photo

I've talked about it a couple of times, that one photo that I have and you should all have that really inspires you to keep pushing yourself on your weight loss journey. I have photos that I look at in disgust due to my weight, but I have one particular photo that inspires me to reach my goal because I feel like I look great in it. So, here's my photo, my inspiration. It's hanging on a wall of a bunch of photos in our house, and I look at it every day to help push me forward.

This photo was taken in 2003 on a cruise with my family. We are actually on a waterfall in Jamaica, but my dad and sister were cropped out of the photo since I didn't take the time to see if they wanted to be online in their bathing suits!

Lesson Learned: Story of a Saturday Night

Sunday was rough. I'm not going to lie about how difficult Sunday morning was after I stepped on the scale and realized just how much Saturday night's decisions affected my weight, attitude and overall state of mind on Sunday morning. So, having gone over this little hurdle, I thought I would tell you about it.

On Saturday night, Mike and I got together with some friends of ours for games and drinks. Knowing I'd be drinking that evening, I tried to save my calories during the day so I didn't blow my calorie count completely out of the water. Also, while drinking, I try to stick with Diet Coke and vodka since vodka has a fairly low calorie count (at least compared to other hard alcohols, wine and beer). Well, my plan didn't exactly work and I paid the price for it on Sunday.

As the evening got going, I poured myself a couple of vodka-diet cokes and even had a 100 calorie pack of popcorn. However, somehow during the night I switched from vodka to whiskey and became quite drunk. To make matters worse, on the way home (don't worry, Mike was driving and he didn't have a single drop of alcohol) I begged Mike to stop at McDonalds or IHOP. Well, we stopped at McDonalds and I devoured (literally, consumed it super fast) a chicken sandwich and french fries -- the first french fries I've had in almost two months. The saddest part is, I don't even remember eating those darn things, and I wish I did because it would have tasted like heaven!

I crashed as soon as we got home and woke up the next morning feeling awful. I wasn't really hungover or still drunk, and I didn't have a migraine or anything, but I put the pieces of the evening before together and knew that what I had consumed was a killer shark for my previously almost-perfect dieting plan. Bummer!

Sure enough, I forced myself to step on the scale and saw it flash a 214.8, more than a pound higher than the day before. This felt like a stab to the chest, but at least it wasn't 215 -- that's what I told myself for some consolation.

So, how'd I recover? I woke up, drank water, had a Slim Fast shake and went to the gym. I spent an hour and 40 minutes doing cardio, both treadmill and elliptical to burn off those McDonalds and alcohol calories. I also ate very carefully the rest of the day and drank excessive amounts of water to help put my body back on track. It seems that I took the right steps because this morning the scale was down to 214 ... definitely a step in the right direction.

I definitely learned my lesson: careful with the over consumption of alcohol, it does horrible things for your diet!

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Post Secret

Here's my Post Secret ( I didn't blog today because I was disappointed in myself when my challenger surpassed me in weight loss.

Tomorrow's a new day and it will be better. It has to be better or I will never achieve my goals. It's all about the mind set.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Congrats Mom!

My mom has lost more than 8 lbs in less than four weeks. I'm so proud of her! Keep it up! I love you.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fear Factor: Stepping on the Scale

I used to weigh myself all the time. Even though I was gaining weight, I didn't feel any particular fear about stepping on the scale and seeing the numbers climb. A few months ago, however, I stopped stepping on the scale and the thought of watching those numbers land on a high denomination sent my nerves into a tailspin.

When I decided to start doing this I had to really force myself to step on the scale and take note of what I weighed at my largest. When I stared down and saw 228.6 I was devastated, but that was enough motivation to kick start me going in the new direction.

Now I step on the scale every day and the fear is gone. I know that on some days I will see an increase in numbers, whether it be by a couple of ounces or even a couple of pounds, but I've put my mind enough at ease to truly understand that it's part of the process. When I see something I don't like, yes i hate the scale, but I use that as motivation and energy to change what I didn't like. Yesterday I was up almost a pound from the day before, but I ate great and today I saw more than a pound fall off! It's an up and down process.

The scale isn't the enemy on this journey, believe it or not. Neither is the food that tempts me, but instead it's myself. I am my own worst enemy and best friend because I am the only one who can truly control the decisions I make.

So, next time you're afraid to step on the scale, just take a deep breath and do it. If you see something great then congratulate yourself and use that to keep going, and if you see something negative then don't get angry, but instead use that to push you further.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Debbie Downer

Still going strong! I reached a new milestone this morning when my scale said something less than 215 lbs for the first time in a long time! Today I am officially at 214.4 and it feels fantastic. Unfortunately, however, I bought a couple of new shirts within the last 8 weeks or so and now they look big. What a waste. I'd rather have the weight loss than the new shirts anyway.

My mom and I email back and forth fairly often about the random stuff, but also about our personal weight loss journeys. She's taking part in a program offered through her work where they weigh in each Thursday. We talk about what we're eating and how we're exercising along with some of the more difficult aspects of dieting. In a recent email she brought up a good point, how to not be Debbie Downer when eating out regularly with friends who either don't need to or aren't dieting.

I think it's definitely something that every dieter has thought about, and if not, then it's something that should be given some thought. There's a fine line between sticking to your wise diet choices and being overbearing on the people you're with. I've been with people who are trying to lose weight or are on the latest trendy diet fad and all they do is criticize what I'm eating and how that's going to affect me. I think that's just obnoxious to tell you the truth. It's one thing to analyze your own decisions and maybe even share them with others when asked, but it's a completely outrageous thing to thrust your decisions on others or to expect the people you're with to adopt the same principles.

I've found with people I hang around with that when my new eating habits come up that it's more of a conversation starter than anything else. Since I used to eat whatever I want, and now I order the lean turkey wrap or a salad, some of my friends were confused. I've been able to take that opportunity to explain what I'm doing and why, but then to drop it at that. I've had people ask me questions and want to go into more detail, but others don't say a word so it's the perfect indication to just move on. I think one of the hardest parts is to not be the downer when selecting the place to eat. I know it's important for anyone trying to lose weight to have healthy choices available to them at a restaurant, but that doesn't mean for every meal you have to drag the group to Panera, Sweet Tomatoes or Whole Foods. Whether you believe it or not, there ARE healthier options everywhere. Worst comes to worse, if I end up somewhere without a healthy meal, then I order a side salad and supplement the meal when I get home. That's easier than blowing my diet, or complaining to my companions about where we're headed.

So here are a couple tips for people when heading out with friends on a regular basis:

1. Let them choose the restaurant, then use the internet or available nutrition guides to cater your diet to their decision.

2. When in doubt, ask for a side salad with low fat, or low cal dressing or something of that nature and supplement it with something healthier at home.

3. If nothing else works, go with the flow and enjoy a meal even if it's less than healthy. Just know you'll have to do a checks and balance with that meal later either with what you eat for the next couple of meals or with your exercise.

It all balances out, and quite frankly, a little indulgence here and there never hurt anyone!

Monday, September 14, 2009

13 Pounds and Counting

This was taken Sunday, Sept. 13

A New Kind of Marriage

About two weeks ago Mike and I met with the priest at our church for our first one-on-one pre-marriage meeting. As we're gearing up for our second meeting this weekend I got to thinking about what marriage entails including compromise, commitment, constant recommitment, nurturing and humor. The more I thought about it, I realized that changing the way I eat for life is like a marriage in and of itself.

I've made the decision not to be on a diet but to diet as a way of life. I'm not eating a specific way or avoiding all kinds of foods for a couple of months in hopes of dropping 20 pounds, but rather i'm changing the way I eat in general, and the way I approach food. This new thing I'm doing is not a diet, but instead is a way of life. The iPhone apps may not last for 15 years, and I may not blog forever, but I hope that what I am doing now is getting so ingrained into my system that I will carry it with me forever. Once I lose the pounds, I want to maintain the weight. I want to be healthy again, something I haven't been for years!

Making a change like that, one that alters a lifestyle is an enormous commitment, just like getting married. I'm getting ready to walk down the aisle in a few months, and I know that being in that marriage will take a lot of work. There will be days that aren't cheery, and some conversations will take more work than others, but the overall happiness is what makes the entire thing worth it. He makes me so incredibly happy that the rough patches that are destined to come, are simple stepping stones. And so it is with this diet. Every Monday I feel like I have to recommit myself to my goals and my program. Weekends tend to let my mind wander about brownies, Cold Stone ice cream and Papa Johns pizza. I always say to myself, "having it just once won't hurt," but I never let that happen because I know it's a slippery slope for me!

So this is a lot of change for once person in one year, but every moment is worth it. The commitment to Mike and our future is the easiest decision I've ever made, and continuing on this weight loss path will be one of the best journeys I've ever embarked on.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Survived!

I don't usually rejoice in a weekend ending, but I have to admit that I'm ecstatic to be able to be on my feet again! I know I said I was going to hit the gym to get a swim in for cardio, but I had my hair professionally colored late Friday and she said "no chlorenated water for a few days!"

So, tomorrow I'm not only returning to the gym, but I get to workout on my feet! My ankle obviously isn't 100% yet, but I can still take a spin on a stationary bike, walk a bit on the treadmill or spend time on an eliptical machine. Oh, the possibilities!

So, I have to say that I'm thrilled that I've suvived the weekend, and I even lost about a pound. I was really careful each day to not only stay within my calorie budget, but to eat foods that weren't too awful for me!

I've been telling people that I can't wait to hit the gym tomorrow and all I've been getting in response is words of worry and begging to stay off the ankle awhile longer. Doc says I'm good to go though, as long as I take it easy of course, so I think I'll stick with what he says.

When it comes to this entire "injury" experience though, I have to admit that I was terrified because I've been doing So well for the past three weeks. I was concerned that I'd just blow it and throw all that hard work out the window. Luckily my will power held up and a few friends offered words of encouragement and I still survived.

It just goes to show, or at least proves to me that even with set backs, by moving forward goals can still be reached. Only 15 more pounds until I reach my first mini goal!!!! I can do it!

-- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bummed Leg Syndrome

So yesterday I fell down the stairs. No, I'm not kidding. I literally fell down the stairs while leaving work, limped to the car and drove myself to the doctor. Doc said I was lucky that I didn't break it Again and I've been ordered to stay off it through the weekend. He also said "tread lightly for awhile, you don't want to permanently screw it up." so, I figured that since I'm newly injured yet even more solidified as a klutz that i'd share my game plan for continuing in the right direction.

It's going to be a main goal to eat as good as possible for the next few days otherwise
I'm in severe danger of being behind in my weightloss challenge with a coworker. So this weekend of being off my feet is more imperative than ever.

As far as exercising goes, I can ways lift weights, work on toning and abs, but I really really don't want to stop doing cardio. I obviously can't jump on the treadmill or elliptical, and doc said even the pressure caused by biking is bad so that leaves only one option: swimming! Tomorrow morning I'm hitting the gym, but instead of pants and a workout top I'll be wearing goggles and a swimsuit! It's okay mom, I promise not to drown!

So I guess that's my plan. I need to be more anal than ever with my food choices and portion sizes and do whatever cardio I can without further injuring my ankle.

Does anyone else have any suggesions on how to get a good workout in without putting a lot of pressure on my leg? Let me know if you do! I could use all the help I can get!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Effects of Stress

Yesterday I had a bad day. It's as simple as that. Between learning new information, miscommunication and discussions with others, I just felt like crap and from start to finish, it didn't seem like there was anything that could make it better.

This morning I woke up in the same mood. I think that that is far more irritating than having a bad day, but thankfully my mood shifted almost immediately in the morning and I've felt good ever since. I have realized that these mood changes are directly related to my stress levels, and in turn on my motivation and ability to move forward with my weight-loss challenge.

I've noticed that it is much harder to force myself to go to the gym when I'm in a bad mood or worrying about something pertaining to wedding planning, work, friends, family, etc. Likewise, when I'm in a great mood and feeling pretty good about myself, hopping on the treadmill for an hour feels like I'm running at lightening speeds for only 15 minutes. I need to try and harness my moods and stress and act appropriately. Maybe if I know I'm stress or down, I can do something within myself to pick me back up again. That way not only do I feel better, but going to the gym or eating healthy won't be such a pain in the butt! In that same sense, when I'm on cloud 9, I need to take advantage of those good feelings!

It may be just me, that my moods and stress levels directly correlate with my eating and exercising. It sounds crazy, but I know it's true! Now .... what to do with all this positive energy? Time to hit the gym!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Programs that Didn't Work

Last week's poll question had to do with the many diet programs that are out there. I asked, "What diet program(s) have you tried?" I received a lot of responses. Twenty-three people voted on the poll and they were allowed to select more than one answer. I ended up with more than 40 answers. Here's how it turned out:

Jenny Craig - 8%
Weight Watchers - 69%
Nutrisystem - 13%
Other (such as Atkins, etc.) - 34%
My Own Program - 52%

The reason I chose each of the answers is because I have had some sort of an experience with each. I thought I'd blog about why I chose to use or to stop using each of the programs and how they worked for me.

Most recently I tried Nutrisystem. For anyone that doesn't know, it's exactly like Jenny Craig in that they send you food monthly for a fee and you have access to coaches and online resources in order to stay motivated. However, you also need to supplement the food sent to you so it ends up being quite a bit more costly than it originally looked. I was on the program for a few months and dropped it fairly quickly. It became just too darn expensive, and it offered basically little to no leeway for eating out. I had to make sure a stove, oven or microwave was accessible to me at all times and that became impossible. More so, my doctor told me to stop using it because it was having seriously negative effects on my body (internally).

Before trying Nutrisystem I tried Weight Watchers. I think the process Weight Watchers encourages is fantastic and works. The points system, keeping track, etc. is exactly what works for me, but I absolutely hated the meetings. I really felt uncomfortable with them, and I felt like I wasn't gaining anything at all for what I was paying for. Once I had the "equipment" to keep track, I had no idea what the weekly fees were going toward. That sense of confusion eventually got to me and I stopped going to meetings. However, even though I then had the tools, I lost all motivation since I wasn't going to the motivating meetings, and I fell off the program. So -- maybe it does work after all, I just wasn't willing to give it the right kind of try.

I haven't actually used Jenny Craig, but I have signed up with them and started the process, only to stop when I realized it was exactly like Nutrisystem and wouldn't be my cup of tea. I've also tried various things over the years including eating as little as possible, cleansing diets, talking with an herbal nutritionist and my own versions of Atkins and South Beach. None of those worked for me because they weren't catered to me. After all, in this equation, the absolute most important factor is myself.

So, when the idea of catering a diet to me was brought to my attention, I knew it was definitely a step in the right direction. I'm not doing anything outrageous, ingenious or new, but I'm doing what works best for me and my lifestyle. When my coworkers go out to eat, I go with them and then make my decisions on food. When Mike and I want to have a dinner out instead of cooking at home, that's in the cards too! I feel like I'm still able to be me and live my life while taking part in this journey, and I think that's key. If I could offer advice to anyone, I'd simply say that you need to find something that works best for you. If you don't like public meetings then find something similar online. If you never eat out, but hate cooking, try something like Nutrisystem or Jenny Craig. There's something for everyone, you just have to find it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Three Week Itch

First of all I'd like to apologize for being absent for the past couple of days. I had the opportunity to take a little road trip and get away from Las Vegas for part of the long weekend, and I took it. So, I didn't have a scale with me and had to wait until I got home to take my weight, but I know I didn't eat that great and now I'm going to pay the price.

I wasn't able to blog or tweet the last couple of days and it was a nice change in the fact that I wasn't relying on technology, but I think that it definitely made my accountability with myself drop dramatically. Last night I told a friend that I'm just lacking motivation, and that lack of motivation has definitely carried over to this morning. So, is it because I wasn't weighing and blogging and hearing encouragement, or could it be the three-week itch?

I've been on this program for about three weeks and I've already seen a great change in myself. Not only physically (down about 12 lbs), but also with my attitude, and my self confidence. However, I think I may have reached a point, the three-week itch, where I needed to be reassured again and get motivated by others.

I'm really lucky to have a support system in this process that I can rely on. Last night I texted Amanda and simply told her that I need a few encouraging texts and tweets this week to get me and keep me going. We made a little pact to keep in more contact this week and to push each other to work out a little more every day. Right there, that was a little boost of confidence. I also told my friend that I'm having the weight loss challenge against and he said that we can talk it out and try and get re-motivated. Lastly, my mom, who's going through her own weight loss journey as we speak sent me an email to share her progress, her journey and also just to tell me that she's proud of what I'm doing. I may not feel like running to the gym at this moment in time, but I'm already feeling a lot better and my confidence toward my goals is already returning.

I know that this is not only going to be a long, long journey, but hopefully a lifestyle change that will carry-over into the maintaining stage once I reach my goals. And since it's going to last so long, I've already accepted the fact that there will be weight loss ups and downs, good days and bad days, and every other type of variation in moods and motivation that could possibly happen. The point is, I need to keep focused and remind myself that it's a process and the outcome is the goal. Every day won't be the best day in my life, but each day certainly is one step in the best direction.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Day in the Life ...

Today has been a really weird day for me because I didn't have a schedule at all, and that's led to a weird eating schedule and lots of exercising. And because today has been so odd, I've managed to weigh myself several times and I thought it would be great to share because it really shows how your body fluctuates with water weight, food, exercise and stress. So, here is a day in the life of my weight loss journey ...

I woke up really early because the dogs were barking and I wanted Mike to be able to sleep in since he works both tomorrow and Labor Day. I figured since I was up early, I mine as well get a great workout in. Before I left for the gym, I weighed myself to add to my blog and I had gained 1.6 lbs to be 218 lbs overall. I was bummed, but I know the up and down effect happens all the time!

I did something really stupid, and that was, I didn't eat anything at all before I headed to the gym. I wasn't hungry when I woke up so I simply didn't think about it, but it ended up catching up with me quickly. I exercised for about two hours, then met up with a friend and walked the trails around a local park for about an hour. In the three hours, I burned almost 700 calories, and I hadn't even eaten yet! I was drinking plenty of water so I wasn't dehydrated, but I was honestly really struggling because of my empty stomach.

When I got home, before I even ate, I wanted to take a shower and cool off so I weighed myself again. I dropped to 215.8 in just that 3.5 hour period. That's nuts!

Mike and I grabbed lunch at CoCo's Cafe. It was pretty good actually because they offer meals for people watching their calorie and fat counts. I was able to order whole grain and nut pancakes with fruit, egg whites and lean ham for less than 500 calories. It felt great to eat. Seriously.

Anyway, I weighed myself after lunch and running errands and I returned to just under 218. It just goes to show that every single day there are ups and downs, and what you do and what you eat definitely affects the scale! I''ll see what happens the rest of the day. I still have a lot of calories in the bank to consume if I want them, but I want to make sure my workout today pays off in the end.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why Can't You Lose Weight?

Every week I post a new question on the poll to the right of my blog. There's nothing scientific about it at all, I simply think of something to ask and allow people to answer just to see the responses and relate them to my own answers. So, I figured that the only fair thing to do is to also write something about the question, the responses and how it relates to me.

Last week, for the first poll question, I asked, "What's your biggest problem with trying to lose weight?" I offered four specific options for answers, and here were the results:
I don't know how - 8%
Nothing I've tried works - 25%
I've gone too far already - 25%
I'm not motivated - 41%

The reason I chose these answers is because at some point or another I have felt all of them. I've tried various diets including Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, I kept gaining and gaining weight and felt like I had gone over the other side of the cliff and had no way to return, and overall, I simply didn't know how. I said before in a blog that I needed to reach a breaking point, and for me that meant that I needed to find something that motivated me. It wasn't until about two weeks ago that I became motivated.

I know everyone was only allowed to choose one answer, but I'd be willing to bet that most people could select more than one of these options. The good thing about each of these options is that they aren't definitive ends to the weight loss problem, they are just the beginning. If you haven't found something that works, figure out what your lifestyle is like and create something that works for you. Who cares if 1,001 people have been successful using this diet pill, and another program just got their one millionth customer? Weight loss is a sensitive and personal journey, so why not make the process sensitive and personal too?

Amanda showed me that loving my iPhone isn't a horrible thing because it can be the center of my program! Nothing worked for me because I wasn't interested in all the other programs, so I created this with the help of Amanda and it's working. I use my iPhone, which I'm on a lot anyway, to watch calories and fat, and track my goals. I've worked my program into my life instead of working my life into a program. And that, right there, that last sentence is what it's all about.

Thank You Everyone

Good morning everyone!

I will write a real blog post later that has something to do with my actual journey, but I wanted to take a minute to say thank you to everyone. I have had more amazing comments on my posts, Facebook and Twitter than I ever could have wanted or expected. The only reason I can keep with this program is because I have so much support.

Also, for all of you who said that I'm inspiring you, that is the greatest compliment. I hope we can continue inspiring each other!

Down 2 more pounds today by the way! And, I'm beating my coworker at our bet!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mike's Compliment!

Today when Mike got home he said to me, "Baby, you look like you've lost weight." Well, that's all I need to hear to feel great!

Hardest Day Yet

I know throughout this little adventure that I'm going to have good days and bad days, and that there are some mornings when it's going to be a little harder to just have a Slim Fast shake and not indulge in a bagel or McDonalds Egg McMuffin, but today is the first day that I'm really feeling the struggle. I woke up feeling hunger and even after drinking my Slim Fast shake (like I do every morning), I'm still feeling hungry. What should i do?!?!

I keep 100 calorie snack packs in my work cabinet, along with Nutrigrain bars, and I bring clementine oranges to the office to snack on, but this is the first day that I'm really craving something off the beaten track. I want chocolate, or a muffin, or a cupcake, or something sinful!

Don't worry, I've resisted the craving thus far this morning, but I did break into my can of Diet Coke earlier than normal. Hopefully I will make it to lunch with just a snack of a clementine or maybe trail mix, but it's hard! Does anyone have any suggestions on how to take your mind off this sort of thing when you're just sitting at your desk at work and feel hungry? I'm looking for suggestions now because it's hard!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Old Jeans!

This past weekend I pulled a pair of capri jeans out of the closet and tried them on. To my surprise, they fit! It's been since early last fall since I was able to comfortably wear them last, and now they fit great! Not only that, but today I pondered wearing a belt. It's true what a friend said, once about 10 lbs comes off, you'll really start feeling or seeing some of the physical differences. It's not a drastic change overall, and perhaps looks nothing different to anyone else. But I see it!

What Time of the Month?

In the interest of baring all, I realized that it's necessary to also make a note of my progress or lack of progress during that ever-so-loved "time of the month."

I have a weight-loss challenge going with a coworker where the loser pays the winner $20. The challenge is this: we were both around 220 lbs when the bet was made (I was actually closer to 222), and whoever makes it to 200 lbs first (with a photo standing on the scale with the numbers visible) wins the cash. So, because we have this bet going we check in pretty much every morning about what we weigh. I told him that I gained .8 lbs from yesterday and then said "damn you water weight!" since I knew losing 2 lbs overnight probably had a lot to do with retaining water. His response was this, "Just wait till it's that time of the month, probably be up 5 lbs."

That was when it hit me, whether or not he's right is yet to be seen, but for me I think it's more of a mentality when "that time of the month" rolls around for women to believe they're going to get bloated or gain several pounds. I know that it actually does happen, but is it really as severe as most women let on?

Take it from someone who has horrendous cramps and sits with a heating pad during that monthly occasion just to bare the pain: from the time my monthly visitor started (last Friday) to this morning, I am down just over 2 lbs, not up. I haven't yet used my "time of the month" as an excuse to eat everything in sight, avoid exercising completely or wear fat jeans with the top button undone. There are a lot of physical side effects to being a woman with this monthly pain in the ass (more than men will ever truly understand), but there's also a mental component that can be overcome.

I fully expect some women to read this and get upset because they "have the worst cramps in the world," "they always pack on 5 lbs of water weight" or "they can't help it," and that's okay. The only point I'm trying to make is that I'm a woman too, I'm experiencing the exact same thing, and I'm keeping it in check. I'm not going to let this mini curse throw me off track, not this month, not next month and not anytime after that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stay Accountable

I don't remember who I was talking to yesterday, but I was explaining to them why I've decided to not only blog about my weight loss process, but to update my weight for the whole world to see every single day. I told them, "It's all about being accountable."

It wasn't until I was explaining it out loud, again, to someone who was curious about what I was doing, and complimentary about the process that I realized that I am doing something that I learned in my second year of college. While taking a class called Persuasion in the Media, all of us were taught the importance of accountability.

Robert Smith, a long-time photographer and photography teacher at Bemidji State University told us as a class that "If you make a promise, make it out loud to five other people. It you set a goal, right it down and give it to someone else. Saying it out loud and writing it down for others to hold onto gives you a better chance of sticking to it."

This is my way of keeping myself accountable. Okay, okay, so I may have announced my goals and wrote them down for more than five people, but at least I have the entire blogging world keeping me on track! Bob taught this lesson not only once, but everyday in his class. If someone needed an extension or wanted to take a test on a different date, or needed a favor from Bob then all that person had to do was write it down or say it in front of witnesses. That was it. He would always end those discussions with "It's on you now," implying that now it wasn't only the student who had the favor's cross to bear, but the witnesses as well. And that is the point.

Being accountable isn't necessarily about feeling guilt toward not doing something, or sharing with other people, but it's bringing other individuals into the process. If I stop blogging, I guarantee several people will e-mail or call me to find out why and get me back on track. If I stop updating my weight, there are going to be questions. You are all a part of my process now, and I hope that by sharing through e-mail and blogger and twitter, that I'm part of your process too.