In my previous post, I talked about the foundation of success: Mental Health.  Now, I want to touch on what I feel is the second most important component to successful weight loss: Nutritional Health.

  1. Tracking calories.  You’ve heard before that it’s as simple as calories in versus calories out, I’m sure.  Well it’s not quite that simple, but it is a great place to start.  Know what you’re eating!  Simply having a general idea of how many calories are in your meal can help you control portion sizes as well as balance your calories throughout the day.  It’s true that it isn’t a good idea to eat a ton of calories in one meal and have two smaller meals.  Some people say it’s all about maintaining your metabolism throughout the day, but the truth is that it is more about maintaining your blood sugar levels throughout the day. Using a calorie tracking website like My Fitness Pal can really help you know what you’re eating per meal, when you should be eating again, and how much you should eating.
  2. Sugar is your enemy.  Yes, I said it.  As I mentioned above, keeping your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day is a key factor in helping to control cravings and that hungry feeling.  I love sugar, so this one was a little extra hard for me.  My health coach helped me set a practical limit on grams of sugar per day.  The first few days were tough, but after my body began to free itself of the addiction, I felt so much better.  The afternoon drowsiness subsided, feeling famished in the late afternoon ceased to happen, and I generally had more energy.  Do some research on sugar addiction, or insulin resistance to help understand how sugar and low-quality carbohydrates are hindering your ability to lose weight.
  3. Fat is not your enemy.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive.  ”But I’m trying to get rid of the fat, why would I want to eat it?” you ask..  Well fat plays an important role in providing our brain with food, preventing Alzheimer’s, and also making us feel full longer.  Also, those low-fat foods are awful!  Read the ingredients!  The fat (read flavor) is replaced with sugar and sugar substitutes. BAD!!  And, of course, it is important to eat the right kinds of fat.  Coconut oil, real butter, 2% cheeses, Neufchatel cream cheese, 2% Greek yogurt, and 2% cottage cheese are all healthy types of fat that you can add to your diet.  You can eat an entire bag of microwavable steamed veggies and not feel very full, but add a pat of real butter and the full feeling is there.  Along those same lines, if you’re feeling quite hungry after eating a salad with no dressing, try adding 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and you will feel much more full.  Balancing the right kind of fat in your diet is something a with which good nutritional counselor can help.
  4. Don’t be perfect.  Aiming for perfection will only set you up for failure.  If you’re reading this, then chances are failure is no longer an option for you.  If you can’t live without chocolate, then don’t.  Rather than eating the whole bar/bag, however, have half a serving or a few bites.  Two or three times per week I sit down in the evening with a sample glass of red wine and one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate.  It’s just enough to satisfy my craving and doesn’t ruin my calorie or sugar limitations for the day.  Allow yourself some wiggle room, but be smart about it!

When it comes to this section, I cannot emphasize enough how important education is for success.  I knew a few things about eating right, but my nutritional counselor really opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave me the tools I needed to manage my shopping trips and meals on my own.  Even if you can only afford one or two sessions, find someone knowledgeable and get some help.  If you really can’t afford one (and if you want to know if yours is a crock), then I recommend reading this article: Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition.

What are some small nutritional changes that have made a large impact on your success?

Look for my next installment where I dig a little deeper into physical health!

 

In my previous post, I provided a basic outline for my recipe.  Today I am going to expand on the first main ingredient and the spices that add to the flavor: Mental Health.

Your mental health is really the foundation for beginning your journey.  You must be in the right state of mind, ready, aware, and prepared.  Know why you want to lose weight.  It’s not enough to do it just because.  Some of the things on my list: I want to keep up with my son, many years down the road I want to be a fun and active grandma, I want to go hiking up a dead volcano in Hawaii, I want to feel good about myself, I want to stay out of the hospital and doctor’s office.  Reasons and goals are very important to keep you motivated on this journey.  Here’s a harsh reality, “I’m fat and feel ugly” just aren’t good enough of reasons.

There are a few other components of mental health that keep you going after you achieve the state of mind necessary to get started.

  1. You have to be selfish.  What?  Yes, be selfish.  It’s true.  Put your health first.  Put yourself first.  I hear in almost every Jillian Michaels podcast that I listen to during my workouts.  The dishes, the cleaning, the laundry – they can wait.  Do your workout first.  Put your health as a priority, and these other things will fall into place.  Personally, after my workout, I’m usually so pumped that I have plenty of left over energy to take care of the house chores, and I feel better about myself.  
  2. Be in the present.  Don’t dwell on yesterday.  Don’t dwell on what you’re going to do.  Be here today and do it now.   I’m going to eat better.  I’m eating better.  I’m going to do it this time.  I’m doing it this time.  I will be successful.  I’m successful right now.  If you always talk about your journey as a thing that is in the future, you may never have success.  It will always be just out of reach.  Instead, give yourself credit for what you did right now.  I made good choices today and I need to recognize that is success.
  3. Set goals.  Realistic goals are important for motivation.  If, for example, you’re aiming to lose 1.5 pounds a week, then mark a day on your calendar 5 weeks out to weigh at least 7 pounds less.  That gives you a little wiggle room for muscular changes and “cheat days”.  Maybe your long-term goal is a 40 or 60 pound loss, but short-term mini goals will give you something to look forward to in the near future, and also boost your confidence when you reach your goal.  My mini-goals have helped me maintain focus and a positive outlook on my journey.
  4. Don’t expect perfection.  You are, after all, only human.  If you eliminate everything from your daily diet that you enjoy eating, you will fail.  You must allow yourself a little room for error while maintaining focus on the end goal.  So, perhaps I’m in the mood for a little wine and chocolate.  It’s something I enjoy.  Red wine has some health benefits as does dark chocolate.  My change in perspective is that I literally use a very small wine sampling glass, and have just one square of Lindt 70% dark chocolate.  The “serving size” for the chocolate is three squares, but I’m satisfied at one.  This is a treat I am allowed every few days, not every day.

What aspects of mental health have you found are keys to success in your journey?  What are some of the reasons you want to be healthy?

Next time, I will dive into healthy eating.

This has been a long, long journey for me and it isn’t over yet.  In reality, my goal is still a long way off.  That being said, after all these years of struggling, the fog is beginning to lift.  What I mean is that what really works is becoming more and more clear to me.  There are so many components to successfully leading a healthy lifestyle that it can seem overwhelming to figure it out on your own.  I suspect that while some of the ingredients may vary from one person to the next, the key ingredients should work for everyone.

My recipe:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Nutritional Health
  3. Physical Health
  4. It Takes a Village

Those, for me, are the main ingredients.  If one of those is out of balance, it throws my entire journey off course.  I must have a clear mind.  I must be conscious of what I put in my mouth.  I must keep my body active.  I must admit that I cannot do this alone.  Not really.

Over the next several weeks, I will elaborate on each of those four ingredients and the special “spices” that make up each ingredient.  In the meantime, I want you to consider what’s holding you back.  Where is your health off-balance?

This just happened to me.

You know how it goes… I’m politely minding my own business with the laptop on the sofa.. clicking “like” on Facebook and seeing what my friends are up to. Then I realize it’s time for lunch and I set the laptop aside when suddenly the paralyzing fear hit me. There’s a spider!!! And no one is home to help!!!! The size of the one on the floor directly in front of me is exceeding the size of my comfort level range. Yes, my feet are on the sofa. Makes me think of that picture of the Great Dane standing on the kitchen counters… “I saw a spider!! Is it gone yet???” It’s not moving….. I’m not moving… erg.. so creepy!

I don’t have anything to kill it with. And it’s blocking my path to get anywhere else in the house. I’m trapped on the sofa. What on earth is it doing? It’s just sitting there… like it’s plotting how to attack me or something. HEEBIEJEEBIES

This one isn’t that big, but my “comfort level size range” is pretty small. It doesn’t take much for a spider to be big enough to scare me. Yes, I realize this is one of my irrational fears, but it’s my fear and just about everyone has one, so I don’t want to hear any teasing from anyone.

I need to kill it! But with what? I did mention that I’m trapped on the sofa, right?? This is serious!!! I have a plastic plate I can toss at it, but if it runs and I can’t see where it goes, then I’m really going to freak out.

Take a deep breath… you can do this… BLEH!!! I MISSED!!! It only ran a little then stopped. Now Kona is after it! OMG she’s my hero!! She disabled it enough that now I can deal with it. I drop the translucent plate on it again. I can see the spider through the plate trying to scramble and find its way out, so I punch the top of the plate. But not too hard. I don’t want spider guts on my freshly shampooed carpet.

It’s dead. It’s furry. Spiders in Indiana should NOT be furry. BLEH bleh bleh bleh bleh!!!!!

And now I’m stuck thinking…. for the one spider I could actually SEE in my house…..how many more are there that I cannot see???????

When Kona went after the spider, I told her what a good girl she was .. it sounded like this: Get it! GET IT!! GETITGETITGETIT!!! Yeah!!! Good girl!!!!!

Oh but let’s be honest for a moment. It wasn’t originally the spider that Kona was after.. no… it was the plate on the floor and the potential that there may still be crumbs of food on it. But once she saw the spider move, then her prey drive kicked in. Thank God. Best. Dog. Ever.

How big was the spider? I told you it’s an irrational fear. It was huge.. like.. the size of a dime or something. Maybe. If he spread his legs out all the way and was flat to the floor. Huge.

This has been adapted from the actual account of the events as chronicled on Facebook. I was terrified. You can laugh at me, just don’t tease me. Everyone has their phobias!

A few words: I went to the gym today and have maintained the weight lost while sick. These 40+ pieces of clothing no longer fit. I shrunk.

One thing I’ve learned about weight loss is that … it’s hard. Help is easier. I realize that it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about my weight loss adventure so let me sum things up for you a bit… roller-coaster.

Since my last posting (months ago) I tried, fell off the wagon, tried again, fell off the wagon, cried out for help, and help arrived.  The greatest thing to happen to my weight loss journey in a long time: I hired a nutritional counselor.  She guides me, helps me with recipes, balanced meals, and proper snacks.  But the thing I needed most from her was accountability.  Obviously, I’m not good being accountable to myself.  And my family, while they aren’t unsupportive, they aren’t overly supportive either.  Bless them… they enable me to eat bad things.

I was determined for real change around mid-June and we had our first meeting about a week after that.  Some of the changes in my eating habits are small and some have been drastic.  All have been tolerable.  Since June 11th I have lost 16 pounds and 9 inches off my body.  Some of this loss happened thanks to a long bout of nasty bronchitis, but most of it I did through hard work and perseverance.

This has not been easy.  No lies here.  Sometimes I miss pasta, I miss brownies, I miss calorie-laden lattes from the coffee shop, I miss mashed potatoes, I miss cookies.  But I pause a moment and remember that I don’t miss 16 pounds, I don’t miss 9 inches, I don’t miss being tired, I don’t miss having less energy… and in the end I don’t actually miss those foods.

There’s more to getting healthy than changing the way you eat.  You also have to change the way you think.  My clothes didn’t get too big, I got too small.  This isn’t a diet, this is a new life.  I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be healthy.  I’m not going to do it… I am succeeding. 

Have you struggled with weight loss?  Have you found success? What was the turning point for you?

Next to raising a child, losing weight is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  One thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s never going to happen if I’m not really ready for it.

Over the last week, it clicked.  Of course, this isn’t the first time.  I actually went through the trouble of rearranging my entire work schedule to make it easier for me to get to the gym.  A friend encouraged me to join MyFitnessPal and I finally did (Angelasue79 if you need a friend on there).  It has been 5 days of tracking.  Not every day has included a workout, but this week was still an improvement.

Starting again isn’t easy.  Admitting that I gained back almost 20 pounds isn’t easy. Calorie counting isn’t very easy, either.  There have been moments of shame… I won’t lie.  How … how did I do all that work before and let it all go down the drain?  Sure, the herniated disc didn’t help, but I quit eating right, too.  Apparently I’m an all or nothing kind of gal but I’m not proud of that either.

My goals right now are consistency, persistence and finding a happy median.  On days I can’t be perfect, it’s still okay to just be okay.

So here I go. I’m off to a great start.  Maybe I’ll get back into blogging on a more regular basis, too. ;)

We are our own worst critic. Always. Especially women. TV and magazines, blah blah blah. Yes we know they don’t help. I wanted to get real with you. Many days I have a TERRIBLE body image, my outter-self image, so to speak. I’m overweight, I’m a grown ass adult and I still get zits (what’s up with that?), and .. well yeah. I have a lazy eye sometimes. That’s kind of annoying when I notice it in pictures. And did I mention that I’m overweight?

SO WHAT!?!?! I hit one of those mirrors recently where there’s a mirror behind you and you can see your back. Damn, my hair is pretty. And it got me to thinking . o O ( Can I spend a little more time focusing on what I do like about myself? ) Yes. Yes, I can. It is so important to find a few positive things about yourself and focus on those for a while. Then work on the things you don’t like, if you can. I mean after a nine pound child, can I ever have a perfect, flat, smooth stomach? Nope. Not without the help of surgery. But is there something I can do about it? Sure.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m going to be the Best Woman in a wedding in December. Right now, I’m not focused on losing weight. I already have my dress and it can’t be altered a whole lot. But I am working on being healthier, and that starts with the way I think about myself.

 My hair. It’s kind of awesome. If it weren’t my hair, I’d be pretty jealous ofme. I’m not saying you should think that my hair is amazing, all that really matters is I find something to love about my appearance. My hair is first. I love the natural waves. I love the color. I love the way the layers work with my face.

So that’s a good start, right? Let’s examine a little further. There’s got to be something more than just my hair. Oh duh. I, personally, think my dimples are cute. I inherited those from my dad, so they are also rather sentimental to me. I got what I wanted an awful lot as a child thanks to those dimples! Things might not be so different now. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

While we’re staring at my face, and please ignore the shiny skin. This is Keeping it Real, no make-up, nothing. Just me….. how about those eyes? They sure are dark! Not too bad looking. I can be pretty happy with my eyes. I like dark eyes (also from my dad). And I’d never want a nose-job. I have a good nose. Not too small, not too round, not too flat.

 

My next favorite asset would be my legs. For a girl my size (14-16), I have damn nice legs (I think, and that’s what we’re discussing here.

      

Okay… Please ignore the background. Please ignore that little dust bunny under my bed. What I see here are pretty muscular and toned legs. Not much for cellulite going on there, no cottage cheese, so to speak. I um.. didn’t take a picture of the unflattering part where my thighs rub together when I walk.. no. I didn’t do that because I’m focusing on what I like. I am not embarrassed to wear shorts in the summer.

Check me out. I have some assets. I’m not fishing for compliments. I already like these things about me. The question is: How about you? I want you to comment on this blog and tell me only something positive that you like about the way you look. I want you to promise me that if you can’t think of anything right now, you’ll spend a little time over the next week finding something to love when you look in the mirror. Promise?

A healthy body starts with a healthy mind. Oohhh I like that.

Life is getting hectic! Oh wait, it’s been hectic. In case you didn’t know, I have a part-time job that pays money but my full-time job is stay-at-home Mom. Of course, now that my son is in 6th grade, staying at home is something I don’t get to do a whole lot.

My schedule at work is Monday and Wednesday with some Fridays (depending on the workload). My employer and I are flexible with each other like that. It’s pretty cool. Works for both of us. Monday and Wednesday, Li’l C has his First Lego League meetings after school. Tuesday and Thursday I usually do the grocery shopping and cleaning, and social visits with my friends. In the evenings Li’l C has his Tae Kwon Do classes. It’s almost getting difficult to remember what day I have to pick him up from school at what time and what’s going on after school. These are reasons I am thrilled to only have a part-time job.

Now how do I keep it all straight? It’s getting easier. Here are some ideas I want to share that have worked for me.

We have a week-over-week calendar on the fridge. It is a magnetic calendar where each week is a separate magnet. Pretty cool. You can get them from Amazon if you like. We have the trash and recycling pick-up schedule on the fridge calendar. Fun things like concerts, holidays, and family gatherings also go on there. This is more for our son to use than anything else.

I also have an Android phone and use my Google Calendar extensively. I even managed to convince my boss to switch over to using a Google Calendar so I can keep track of the work schedule of events, fun things, pack walks, appointments, etc easily. And this is not a joke, I put everything in my calendar. Lunch dates. Visits with family. Every. Single. Appointment. My husband and I share our calendars with each other so we know what is going on from day-to-day. It may seem silly but he has regular outings with his friends and so do I.

Another major problem I that I face is forgetfulness. No kidding? If I didn’t, I wouldn’t need all these tools to help me keep my life straight. But you know you visit mom and she sends food home with you in a container. You gotta get that container back to her. A friend asks if they can borrow something, or you trade kids clothes. You show up.. “crap.. I forgot to bring you that book I borrowed.” I could just add it to the “appointment” on my Google Calendar but I usually just glance at the widget on my home screen and it doesn’t show those kinds of details. So all the back to school supplies have gone on clearance and it hit me. I picked up a dry erase board that I attached to the door from the laundry room to the garage. In big, bold letters I wrote “Don’t Forget” at the top. Now when I’m running around the house and I see something I need to take somewhere, I go put it on the dry erase board. It’s at eye level on my way to the car. There’s no way I can miss it! I feel so clever. I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of this, but I feel good about it. It’s only been about a week and a half, but I haven’t forgotten anything!

Do you have some organizational tips that you would like to share? I’d love to hear them!

Saturday was HORRIBLE. H O R R I B L E. Why? I don’t know. It just was. I mean a few things didn’t quite go according to plan, but they weren’t things that should ruin my whole day. My son had a promotion test for Tae Kwon Do and I had to work. It would be the first time he had to do sparring (person to person fighting) for his test. I asked my husband to take video with his phone so I could see it later and his phone video crashed. Go figure. That didn’t ruin my day. After that I came home and had some lunch, then headed out to the park for a social dog walk, or Pack Walk, as we call it. That was nice. Exercise is good, right? Wrong. I just wanted to come home and crash. Hubs went out with some dudes to drink some beer. The kid was out playing. I was … blah. I didn’t want to clean. I didn’t want to cook. That’s lame, I love cooking. I did NOT want to stand in the kitchen and chop food and make food and cook food. Just BLAH. BLAH. I felt Blah. Have you ever been depressed? You know how it makes you feel physically? I felt that way. My brain was not depressed, Emotions not depressed, but my body felt depressed. I hope that makes sense, because it was weird. I did not enjoy it. The kid and I ended up going out to eat. It wasn’t healthy. But it was delicious. And it made me feel better.

That was Saturday. This is now. I don’t feel like that now. I feel fine and normal. My blood was drawn yesterday for my T4 thyroid test. Now I’m waiting to hear back on that to find out if it is my thyroid causing me to feel blah. I guess in a way I kind of hope that it is off so that the doctor can fix it and make me feel better. I don’t want to be blah and I really have no reason to feel that way. So. Make it go away. Now for the waiting game. I can’t wait to find out what my blood says.