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?

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.

This morning I knew I wanted to write a blog post, but I wasn’t sure on a topic. Rain canceled my plans with my dad today, so I decided to do a yoga DVD from Rodney Yee and Gaiam. Just after completing the workout, it hit me. Yoga is my topic.

The Beginning

Yoga for me began in 2009 when I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Boulder. At the time, my sis was still working on obtaining her teacher certificate. I had said that I would like to do a yoga session with her during my visit, and thus began my journey. What I loved, other than having a bonding moment with my brother’s wife, was how I felt energize and yet relaxed at the same time. I was sore for days. Proof of a great workout!

Upon returning to Indiana, I signed up for a Hatha Yoga class at my local YMCA and loved it. I loved it so much, I went on a quest for a DVD so I could practice at home. My decision was a Gaiam DVD featuring Rodney Yee. It provided me with the detailed instruction that I needed as well as two short workouts on one DVD to keep me interested.

And then I began having trouble with pain in my arms, and sort of set yoga aside. That was a mistake.

The Injury

In October of 2011 (almost a year ago), I’d begun to have a little pain in my back and didn’t think much of it until I sneezed one day. This was garage cleaning day for me. I wasn’t lifting anything. I wasn’t carrying anything. I was just standing, and I sneezed. It felt like a nuclear bomb went off in my mid-lower back. If you’ve been there, you know where this is heading. The next day I was sitting in the chiropractor’s office hearing him tell me about a disc problem. A herniated disc problem. My world came slightly crashing down around me. Okay, that’s a little dramatic. All my workouts stopped. Walking practically stopped. Sitting hut. Laying hurt. Standing hurt. I was miserable and feeling sorry for myself. Guess what? I’m an emotional eater. I gained back 20 pounds.

The Recovery

My chiropractor made a lot of money off of me over the months following my nuclear explosion, I mean herniated disc. He had me doing therapy at home on top of my regular visits. It began to hit me that many of the exercises he had me doing were yoga. Why don’t I get back into yoga? I’d heard of something called Restorative Yoga before. I didn’t know much about it, but it sounded like something that might be right for me. I was sort of right. After a bit of searching around, I located my yoga teacher from the YMCA and we began to have some one-on-one sessions following the regular class. She gave a lot of attention to my back during class to make sure I didn’t hurt myself further. So the injury was in October, and now in May I really started to feel great again. My daily pain was manageable before that, but adding in the personalized yoga instruction made the pain disappear. For the first time in months I was finally pain free.

Now I find myself wanting to dive a little further into yoga. Not just my practice, but my education, the philosophy. What exactly are the Chakras? What is the meaning behind this word Namaste. And how the heck to you pronounce all that stuff? A good friend of mine gave me a great gift for my birthday! A little book called “Yoga Chick – A Hip Guide to Everything Om”, which I am starting to read today. I think this will be a good read for me as it sounds like it is from a beginner’s perspective. She also gave me a three-pack of DVDs from Gaiam. It’s a great set with three separate 30 minute workouts: Abs, Upper Body, and Lower Body. I did the abs this morning, because that is also good for my back. I am looking forward to trying the other two DVDs over the next couple of days!

How has yoga helped you with your fitness, health, or injury rehabilitation? What are your favorite DVDs or books that you recommend?

A couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t feeling well. Nothing major, it was just some digestive issues (I’ll spare you the details) that persisted for more than 48 hours. My logic was, “if my son was having these problems for over 48 hours, I would take him to the doctor. I should offer myself the same care and concern.” So I went to the doctor. She wanted to do a blood test. And another test. I thought the other was …. not something I wanted to do. I did let her do the blood test and she gave me a prescription which cleared up the problem.

After two and a half weeks you start thinking . o O (No news is good news. Everything must be fine. I sure would have heard from the doctor by now if there was a problem a with my blood test. Groovy.) Written off. Everything is fine. Then the doctor’s office called yesterday, “we received your blood test results. Your thyroid levels are low. We’d like to do a more extensive blood test to examine your levels.” Oh. Well. That’s. Sure. Unexpected news. It could be worse.

Thyroid problems, in general, are easily diagnosed and remedied.  I don’t mind needles. It’s really not a big deal, but damn, I just had got it in my mind they weren’t going to call! And then they call! I’m frustrated! It’s also frustrating because I have been through thyroid testing before. Now my memory is foggy but it was either 2004 or 2005 (I think). We’d gotten a gym membership and I was working out and eating great and didn’t lose a single pound. So I asked the doctor about it, and he did the blood test. It came back abnormal. We did another test. It was also abnormal. It showed that I had both an overactive and underactive thyroid, which is pretty confusing. So then we moved on to the radioactive pill and uptake scan. Very expensive. And it showed a normal functioning thyroid. The specialist said, “I can tell you with confidence that when your blood test was done, something was wrong with your thyroid. I can also tell you with confidence that it is not wrong right now. I’m sorry I don’t have any answers for you. Sometimes the thyroid gets out of line and self-corrects. If it’s been off before, it will probably happen again, so call me if you notice any symptoms.”

I’m not interested in going through all that BS again. However, if the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it can really screw up your body. So here we go again. But hey.. it could be worse.

No, I didn’t go back to middle school. My son started 6th grade a couple of weeks ago, and I tell ya what it’s a heck of an adjustment for both of us.  There are so many classes to keep track of compared to last year, so many papers, so many activities, and then his Tae Kwon Do on top of it all.

I applaud you mothers who work full-time, go to school yourself, and still pull this off.  I’m only employed part-time and I feel like it’s a struggle to keep up.

So my son has mild ADHD, which of course had me worrying about how he would adjust. Perhaps he’s made the adjustment better than I have. Perhaps changing classes every 45 minutes is what he is more suited for doing. There’s no need to focus for too long on anything. His brain gets to switch gears frequently throughout the day. It helps that his school is pretty awesome. They have a homework list available right on their website which the kid and I go over every day before we leave the school parking lot. The decision was made for him to be driven to school and picked up after so that he is less likely to forget something important. So far, it’s been worth it.

Now comes the first school dance of the year. The first school dance of his life. My first school dance as a mother. I’m not prepared for this. He’s talking about girls and wanting to wear body spray! My little boy is a small man now. Surely this happened overnight, right?

He sure does look good in yellow.

Did I mention how I’m not ready for this?

I promised this year that I would do better. With his heavier work load, I feel like I’m even more obligated (I don’t mean that in a bad way) to be there for him every day. So when he’s sitting at the table doing homework, I’m sitting right there with him. I go over his planner with him every single day. We set goals every week. We practice his spelling tests together every week. I can even check his grades online now, so we are doing that regularly, too. We also invested in a nice zipper binder for him to carry all day; he says it really does help him stay organized.

How did you and your child adjust to middle school? Do you have any tips or advice to help me or other parents who are making this transition?

I have not blogged in a rather long time. Call it writer’s block, I’m too embarrassed to talk about my [lack of] weight loss, I don’t know what to say, I have too much to say and don’t know where to start. Call it whatever you want, procrastination. Time to get over it.

In a nutshell: I haven’t lost weight, we got a third dog, and my son started 6th grade. Work is good. Home is good. Marriage is good. The dogs are good. The boy is better than he’s been in a long, long time. I don’t think I can recall a time in my life where I’ve been happier.

My life has been challenging. It’s never really just been easy. It’s not been terrible either, but there’s always one thing or another. Here’s the highly condensed version.  Grew up with alcoholism all around me, got picked on and teased all the way through school, married a closet alcoholic and dealt with him for far too long, and then struggled through the financial and emotional burden of being a single mom for several years. Yeah. Things were never easy. Then I had a great guy who didn’t want to be a dad. That was pretty heartbreaking. He changed his mind but then struggled with a long term commitment. Then the ex took off and broke the kid. Finally got married to that great guy. Still had a lot of financial struggles. Then the ex came back and threw everything out of alignment. Then the Great Guy adopted the kid [very expensive]. A year after that the ex took off again and threw everything even further out of alignment for the kid. Then I royally hurt my back [no surgery required, but lots of chiropractic and physical therapy]. Then the kid made some tough choices. The end of his 5th grade was very tough for him, both emotionally and academically. Mom worried.

Then the good. A lot of the financial problems began to resolve. The boy started smiling more. Yoga helped my back. The boy worried less. He played more. I felt good. Hubs & I actually went on a short vacation. The summer went on and things kept improving. Then I worried about the boy starting 6th grade. Now over a week into it, the boy is doing exceptionally well. And he’s still happy. Happier than we’ve seen him in a long time. His sadness, anxiety, and worry are gone. He’s.. a pretty normal 6th grade boy.

And life is Just Good. Is everything perfect? Nah. Still a few loose ends to tie up with the financials. But there’s no more worry about making ends meet. House is a little small for three people and three dogs. Wouldn’t mind an upgrade. But the house we have is nice. Comfortable. In good repair. Carpet is a little.. meh.. Did I mention three dogs? Oh well. My heart is happy and content. And I did get a shiny new car for my birthday. My old car was becoming its very own financial burden! So that is resolved. Now I don’t need to worry about my car starting anymore. That’s really nice. And then I was asked to be in a wedding in England. That was very flattering and exciting, but presented its own stack of worries. Paying for three passports and three plane tickets.. that’s pretty expensive! But it’s all taken care of now. Plane tickets are purchased, and passports should be here soon.

I really can’t say that I’ve ever been happier on an overall sustained level than I am right now. I am so blessed. Now, at the age of 32, I finally feel like my struggles are over. I’ve always been grateful, knowing things always could have been worse for me. I’m sure many of my readers have had more difficult times, so don’t misunderstand me. There is also no fooling, I know things won’t always be great.  There will be more struggles ahead, I’m sure. But right now, there are virtually none, which is the least amount I can remember in my life. And it is Wonderful. And I am Happy.