Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Some things never change

Some things in life don't change, even if the scale or pant size does. Here are just a few:

Laws of clothes shopping

If you find a great pair of pants, the store will not have them in your size. It doesn't matter if you are a size 6, 16, or 26. When you are a 16, the clothing racks give the message that either they don't carry your size or everyone else shopping that day already bought the 16's. You will invariably find the sizes directly above and below you. Guess what? Same thing happens at size 10. Now it seems like the 16's are all on the rack and the 10's are all gone? How does this happen? Does the store see you coming and take away your size just to frustrate a process that can already be frustrating (i.e. finding a good pair of jeans)? Note: same thing happens with shoes. If you do find a pair of great pants in the store that fit, chances are by the time you get home you will no longer like them.

My hair remained the same

I was shocked to learn that my hair remained thin, even at a lower weight. I remember my great-grandma and great-aunt commenting how even if a woman is overweight, if she had great hair people wouldn't notice (note: they were not people to be giving advice on hair and weight). I always wanted great hair: long, flowing, thick. It's almost always been short, straight, and thin. And most of the time I was okay with that, but at times like my senior prom, I hated my hair. I remember yelling at my mom getting ready for prom that I looked like a mushroom head (sorry mom). She asked what I wanted different, I wailed "I want it long!" Thanks to my sister (& mom), some good hair dye, and pinterest, my hair style improving. My loss of weight and eating healthier did not lead to improved hair volume. It did not guarantee good hair days.

Pretty much everything else in life stays the same

If life was crazy and out of control before losing, probably not going to change with the scale (unless you are working on other habits at the same time). If you had a great character before, healthier living doesn't change that. If you were a grump that nobody wanted to be around before losing weight, chances are you'll just be a grump in smaller pants. That's part of the reason I almost didn't try to lose. I knew my worth as a person was more than the scale. And now that my weight is healthier and I'm getting compliments, I still know my value is more than my pant size. The people who love me and that matter to me are going to love me at any size. If anyone's feelings towards me changes with my weight, they aren't people I want in my life. Now that I'm stepping into the maintenance phase of my healthy eating, I'm a little freaked out about weight gain. 95% of people who successfully lose weight eventually regain. But knowing my value isn't based on my weight will help keep my mind right as there are setbacks...and help me kick my own butt back to the vegetables and away from the Girl Scout cookies.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm not lost!!

I promise I'll be blogging more soon on all things weight loss, finances, and randomness. I spent a few days sick and then was getting ready for my mom to come...and if you read back to one of my first posts called "mom cleaning," you know I go all out to get ready for mom's visit. So soon I'll be back to posting regularly. In the meantime, here's a "before" photo from Nov 1, 2011 and the "after" photo from today. I still have about 5 more to lose...just so I can wear that same black shirt but not have to "suck it in" :)

November 2011

February 27, 2012

The reasons I'm getting healthier (plus the guy behind the camera)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lyin' to myself

Isn't there a commandment about lying? As in we shouldn't? Yet why is it I was continually in a cycle of self-deception about what I was eating.

The last and probably biggest key that got me on track with (finally) truly eating healthy: I got honest with myself. Before each new optimistic bout with trying to lose weight I would make myself wonderful eating plans that should have worked...but they didn't. Why? Because I was never honest with myself and what I was eating. Even if I was tracking my food, I was "cheating" way too often. I was allowing way too many special occasions into my life and allowing them as an excuse to overeat the wrong foods. Mental conversations like "hey, it's national if-you're-happy-and-you-know-it,-clap-your-hands Day, better get a Shamrock Shake"  were happening way too much. And then I wouldn't be as honest in my tracking and at the end of the week when I hadn't lost I would get frustrated and wonder why, not being able to look back and see the shake (or two or three). I was caught in a cycle of not being honest with myself about what I was eating, which in turn would lead to frustration when each new "plan" wouldn't work and I couldn't figure out why, which would lead me to make or read a book on a new plan that I would start to follow only to not be fully honesty with get the picture (maybe you're living this picture). This past week or so I've been guilty of it again. Taking some bites of things here and there or eating something that is "slightly" off plan, but justifying it...then wondering why my loss has stalled. It took a little self-honesty to realize if I want to finish this journey AND continue with healthy habits, I need to be 100% honest. My husband has probably noticed, but he values his life and hasn't said anything:)

Going hand in hand with honesty...consistency. Once I'm honest I also need to stay on my plan consistently. For success this time it has meant eating on plan 100% of the time. That meant no pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and minus a few cookies on Christmas Eve, no Christmas goodies. No Valentines candy, no pizza even when it looked and smelled sooooooo yummy. I'll be able to add those items back in, but not until I've completed my journey and learn how to enjoy them in a healthy way rather than a gluttonous way. You often hear "eat right 80% of the time". And for some people that may truly work. But I find that way too often my 80% was really more like a 50/50 split between health and naughtiness, which wasn't working. And that was when I was "trying" to eat healthy. So for now I'm all in, 100% on plan, 100% of the time. And when I don't, I have to fess up to myself and my weight loss consultant so that I can make the mental and physical changes I need to.

And looking ahead toward the big M word (maintenance), I don't really know exactly what that will look like. But I know that I will have to keep a food journal for a long time to keep myself both honest and consistent. And most likely my forever plan will have to look something like 90% healthy, 10% in a given week I can choose to have pizza or ice cream or pizza or some cheesy pasta casserole or pizza (anyone guess what food I miss?) but not all of them. One meal. Not one meal that turns into a full weekend of gluttony that leaves me with an emotional sugar induced hangover.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Payin' up

If you've known me for any length of time you've known I've always had a struggle with my weight. Fourth grade is when my weight made a huge jump relative to my height (that's a whole separate post in itself) and has always been part of my identity. I've ridden a roller coaster of being okay with whatever weight I'm at to wanting so badly to look different. After college I was able to lose about 25 pounds with lots and lots of exercise and eating well and I maintained that loss until I was pregnant with my first baby. My motivation was to improve my dating life. I did end up meeting my husband during that time, but it really had nothing to do with my weight loss.

And after I met and married that guy we decided it would be a good idea to have babies, which was worth about 50 pounds of comfort eating. Ever since my babies I'd TRIED and TRIED to get the baby weight off. I tried lots of exercise (didn't work this time), counting calories, meeting with a friend weekly to set goals. But nothing was clicking. So why did the plan I start on Nov. 1 work? Were there magical foods? Magical pills? Some secret exercise that blasts away pounds? Some grapefruit and cayenne pepper drink that will not only cause you to lose weight but clear your skin, make your hair shiny, and clean your bathroom for you?  (Do you feel like you're reading the covers of magazines yet?)

The difference was in my mirror.


I was causing the problem, and only I could fix it. And there were two big keys to this go round that actually not only got the baby weight off, but also some of the extra I have carried forever. Today, reason, #1:

I paid someone. Oh, how I didn't want to have to do that. My formal education is in the field of health
and fitness, why should I have to pay someone to tell me what I could tell someone else? But I needed to. Not for the knowledge, but for the accountability. Since I am such a frugal person, if I paid someone good money to help me I wasn't going to turn around and eat a cheeseburger. I distinctly remember the day after I started driving in the car and being a little hungry and wanting to eat one of the kids' little candy bars from Halloween. I scolded myself with "you just paid someone $130 to help you, you are not going to eat that." That's the motivation I needed to start. The next day when the car had a flat tire, and I had to wait at a coffee shop while it was fixed, I stuck to my tea rather than ordering some huge frappe and a cookie. At first, that was the motivation I needed. Now the motivation to limit certain unhealthy foods is much more internal. I do it because I know it is healthy and I feel better. But at first, that cookie and frappe to help me feel better about my flat tire was much more appealing. Now it would still be more appealing, but I've been able to experience the success of making one good choice at a time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The difference

We have a serious disease in our culture, and maybe it's been part of our entire human history. It's the disease of "too." I'm sure it's in medical research somewhere. We're always being told we're too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too smart, too dumb, too driven, too lazy, too...yeah, you get the idea. It seems that no matter what we are, we should always be something else. And we buy into it. Magazines, books, talk shows are all telling us how we can change our self from too _________ to just right.

I've come to identify those voices in my life that tell me I'm "too _______". The list is long. But one of the obvious ones most of us deal with is being too fluffy (it sounds so much nicer than some of the other words that come to mind). Too big, too heavy, too husky has been part of my mental self-talk for a long time, and began with taunts of other kids at school and on the bus. But being motivated by those voices wasn't going to cause long-term healthy changes. If I wanted to change my weight out of self-loathing, it isn't going to carry me through to a healthy lifestyle OR it would have ended in some self-destructive eating habits. Before I began I had to be okay with me, then I could make changes out of wanting to be healthier and not out of self-hatred. My goal wasn't to look like a fitness model. Every time I workout with Jillian Michaels she says with a bit of a sneer "keep working out with me and you'll look like this in no time." She knows and I know that it isn't realistic for me to look like that. And that's not my goal. Here's what I wanted: to be at a healthy weight that I could maintain with eating healthy most of the time and keeping a sensible exercise program. The decrease in weight was necessary to deal with two of the medical issues I had: arthritis in my knees and low HDL levels.

If you go back and read my post "I Quit" from October 2011, you would think I wasn't going to try to lose weight and at the time I wasn't. I even spent a lot of time discussing with my sister why I didn't need to lose. I was happy with where I was, my husband found me attractive (the only one whose opinion actually counts), I knew my worth wasn't found in my pant size, and the frugal part of me didn't want to buy new clothes or spend money on the plan I chose. But in the end wanting to improve parts of my health won out. And through the whole journey, accepting where I am at has been important and empowering. When I reach a new milestone I tell myself "if this is where you can eat healthy and maintain this weight, then this is a good place for you." Then I'll just continue to eat according to my eating plan, and if weight is continuing to come off without any adverse side effects, I keep going. I'm getting close to what I think is a healthy weight that I can maintain, but I still have to fight some of those "too" voices. Like "your thighs are too big. But I also accept that's the genetics I've been handed are what they are. And my tree trunks will win in almost any leg wrestling match.

So the first step is to accept that you were beautifully created just the way you are. And if there are unhealthy places in your life you can make changes to improve your health and wellness, but don't do it out of a fear that you are too __________. Do it out of the knowledge that you created for more than to be ruled by twinkies and cheeseburgers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Festivus

Happy Festivus everyone!

Okay, before any of you legalistic type folks start bombarding me with the fact that Festivus is celebrated on Dec 23, allow me to explain. "Festivus" (made part of pop culture by a Seinfeld episode) is celebrated as an alternative to Christmas. But I rather like Christmas. But having been a single gal most of my life I haven't really ever been a fan of Valentine's Day.

Let's be honest, for the majority of people, Valentine's Day just sucks. If you are single, it is a constant reminder that you are single. For people in a relationship, most likely the day will not live up to your expectations or your significant other will feel like you didn't meet expectations. Or if you are having a grand old Valentine's Day, at the end of the day one of you will see that the other put a plate beside the sink instead of in the dishwasher and it will ruin the whole day. (Man, for being an optimist most of the time, I'm pretty pessimistic about this day, huh?)

I've never been "good" at Valentine's Day. My Valentine's Day boxes in grade school were always subpar. In high school I remember always feeling like I wanted to sink into a hole on Valentine's Day when it seemed EVERY other girl in school was called to the office at the end of the day to retrieve balloons or flowers or teddy bears from the office. Sigh. College didn't have quite the reminder, but it did seem to be a popular day for all those couples hanging out in the lobby of the dorms to get engaged. It was at that point in my life that my awesome college roomie Mel and I started celebrating Festivus. And it's stuck for us.

A little over 10 years ago I met this great, awesome, amazing guy. Before falling head over heels for him I should have asked one vital question: When is your birthday? By the time I found out he was born at 11:45 p.m. on February 14, I was too far "in love" to back out due to the knowledge that I would never have a Valentine's Day. I kinda had some expectations the first few years but have decided he shouldn't have to do the whole Valentine's thing on his birthday, so he's pretty much off the hook. So back to celebrating Festivus. And Andrew's birthday.

So to all you happy love birds whose Valentine's Day will meet all your expectations, good for you. (You may not want to flaunt it to the rest of us if you still want to have any friends on February 15).

Happy Festivus to the rest of us. (Feats of strength, airing of grievances, and festivus pole optional.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Top questions

There are two questions I've been asked a lot lately, three if you include "what's for supper?"

Are you (were you) hungry? (or similar questions like "do you feel deprived?" or even in the form of a questioning statement: "I could never give up _______________.")

The honest answer is yes, there have been times I was so hungry I could have eaten my hand. But then again, even when I'm eating a non-restrictive diet I had those days. If you go too long without eating or the foods you are eating aren't providing the nutrients you need, you'll be hungry. But overall if I ate on schedule, hunger wasn't a big issue. At first I struggled mentally with a smaller list of food to chose from. For my program I was basically incorporating protein, veggies, fruit, small doses of starches, and dairy in set quantities and with just a few options in each, especially the starches. That has meant 4 months with no pizza, candy, pasta, processed foods, ice cream, subway, or regular chocolate (there are some protein bar/drink options with chocolate, so I've survived). If you would have told me at the start I would have been giving up those foods for at least four months I probably wouldn't have started. But seeing success and realizing, wow, I really can survive without pizza has been pretty empowering. The best word to describe my hunger/deprivation state the past four months is "satisfied." I eat enough to be satisfied, but not overstuffed. The hunger I usually feel is actually craving or emotionally related, or if I go too long without eating (last week I was starving all morning and couldn't figure out why...then I found my egg sandwich in the microwave that night: I'd forgotten to take it out and eat it). My cravings are much less. Now, if you set a pizza or bag of Dove dark chocolate in front of me, I will want to devour the whole thing. But I won't. I've made up my mind that I'm not eating those things right now. But soon I'll be reincorporating some of those foods, which brings me to question number 2:

Are you going to be able to keep it off?

I've asked myself this several times, daily. At times with much anxiety, especially now that I am nearing a weight that I feel is both healthy and (hopefully) sustainable. The thought of being able to enjoy a little pizza is both comforting and unnerving at the same time. I knew I didn't want to lose only to gain it back. So from the beginning I've been working on that idea. Even before I started my goal was to reach a healthy weight that I could sustain with eating healthy most of the time while still enjoying some goodies along with a sustainable exercise program. With that end in mind, I knew the program I chose had to have some plan for maintenance. I've also been reading blogs and research on people who successfully lose weight and keep it off, and maybe more importantly, those who have not been able to keep it off. If 95% of people who lose weight gain it back, how can I be in the 5% that stays stable? I'll share later in the months the specific things I think will help me maintain my loss. I'm not so vain as to think that regain can't happen to me, but I'm hoping with educating myself and really using what I've learned about nutrition and behavior modification that I won't yo-yo. And letting everyone who wants to read into my personal struggle with food may be extra motivation not to go overboard at a church potluck.

And the third question that often comes up (excluding the supper question): What was different this time? What made it click? And for that answer, check back on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My so-called private life

I have no problem posting a bit of worthless rambling of everyday, mundane happenings on my facebook status. I'll tell you all about the recent issues with potty training regression or the awesome deal I found on winter coats at JCP for $20 (both of which are true), but when it comes to things that people may actually want to know about, I find myself a lot more closed.

Take paying off debt. We were never very vocal about paying off our debt. We just went about the business of doing it. People probably just thought we were cheap when we would talk about how we didn't buy different things or be really reluctant to spend any money. When shopping with friends I would look the clearance rack, but unless we REALLY needed something, I wouldn't buy it. And instead of explaining that the reason I spent five minutes figuring out how much 40% off an already inexpensive shirt would cost only to decide not to buy the item was due to a big family goal and not just because I was cheap. Now I may have been doing others a disservice by keeping the goal to myself. As I've found out by making our journey out of debt public, other people want to know these things. To know that they can do it too. To find some hope.

But I still find myself reluctant to talk about things like getting out of debt or my recent journey to a healthier weight.

If you know me and haven't seen me in a while and run into me, you'd notice the change. There's definitely a change in how I look. (If you've never met me and would run into me, you'd think "there's an average sized gal." And you're right, I've reached the land of average.) But if you are in the former group, you're bound to ask "what have you been doing?" I've heard this question a lot lately. A lot. Some people will pop in with an answer and say "oh, you like to exercise", which is true, but that's not how I have gotten to a healthier weight.

If you give me a second to answer I say, "I've been eating healthier." If you press me further I'll respond with "I've been eating more veggies and protein and cutting out the sweets." If you press me FURTHER I may even tell you the specific plan I've been using, but the information comes out slowly, like coaxing that last bit of a milkshake out of the bottom of a cup (oh milkshakes, I miss you.)

Why the reluctance? Lots of reasons, and I won't bore you with them all. But a big one is how personal and at many times painful my weight has been for me. Even thinking about expanding on that thought brings a little anxiety. But I've also been convicted that the dialog is important. I think a lot of people share similar experiences and may benefit from hearing not just my professional knowledge but from my personal experience. Part of the reason I've been convinced of this is looking at other "healthy living" blogs. Many that I came across are by people who are naturally thin and their version of "fat" is way lower than the experience of most of us. One I just looked at talked about how she was disgusted when she couldn't fit into her size 5 jeans...and I'm supposed to relate to that? Now to my friends who are naturally a size 5, bless you. I love you just as much as my friends who are a 15 or a 25, but please understand, most of us never have and never will relate to that experience.

I'm going to start sharing my thoughts and experience. Not as in "you need to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes" thoughts, but the deeper ones like how I still feel out of place in most clothing stores. For some reason the prospect of sharing my healthier living experiences with others is causing me a little anxiety. But I want to inspire others to live a healthier life and know that you don't have to be a size 5 or look like a ripped fitness model to be healthy. And the experiences of those women probably don't carry over to those of us who are, well, average and above. And please interact with questions or your own thoughts.

I hope you enjoy the journey with me. My goal is to post regularly, so check back frequently or sign up to follow the blog if you want to hear the top (funny) things I've learned from my weight loss or even when I get brave enough to share my numbers.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Making the most...

Raise your hand if you can tell me the #1 thing parents of young children hear over and over and over and over again...

They grow up so fast.

Or some variation thereof: Don't blink. Let them be little. I wish I would have played more with my kids. Next thing you know they are leaving the nest...

And I know, I KNOW, it is absolutely true. But how do you capture every moment and not get bogged down in the to do list? (If someone knows, please tell me).

I often struggle with not making the most of every moment. I often focus to much on getting done with tasks and moving on to the next thing rather than enjoy the moment now. Occasionally, I get it right and savor the moment. Sunday during church was one of those lucky days. Aaron was sitting on my lap, wiggling. A few minutes after the service started I noticed a college freshman walk in with a very tired look in his eyes. I thought "too soon, that will be my son." So that day, I let him wiggle and dance and play with my face during worship instead of trying to get him to sit still. I enjoyed his little giggle while he gave mommy fishy lips. And I even let him stay out of "big kid class" and join my in the nursery because he just wanted some mommy time.

I wish everyday I took in the moment the way I did that day. The small moments. The ones I'll miss the most. I don't know when the day will come that the kids decide they are too big to sit on mom's lap or at what point I will become "embarrassing" instead of "awesome". But I want to make the most of the moments, because my daughter just got her first loose tooth and surely that means if I'm not careful, the next time I wake up, she'll be going to prom.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The call. (Part II)

Meeting Dave before being on the radio. Aaron's face is priceless. Looking for suggestions for a caption.

While I was on the phone with Dave, the kids were loving the attention from Dave's staff.
Martha's Place was wonderful!

Signing the wall. I wrote "Thank you for changing our family tree."

Of course in the middle of the night Friday night I woke up thinking about how I should have said something different and regretted not taking more time to talk with some of the other "debt free screamers" that were there that day. But I had prayed before going on air that anything I said wouldn't be for my own glory, but that it might inspire others to trust God in handling their money. And just so I don't make myself sound too noble, I was hoping that my debt free scream would have impressed Dave so much that I would have received a job offer as a professional call-in guest or something. Yes, sometimes I think of myself much more highly than I should.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Championship moments

I have a confession. Something I don't like to admit. Sports make me cry. Weep like a baby sometimes.

There should be a few questions going through your head right now like: Why? Doesn't that make your job a little awkward?

I'll answer the second question first: sometimes. Now, I don't get teary eyed at EVERY game, just special ones like senior nights, upsets, and championship games. I'll often sneak out to the hallway at senior nights or quickly busy myself doing something else at the end of a championship game.

Why? There is a finality to senior nights and championship games. Win or lose, the season is over. For some athletes, their career is over. Although most will go on to bigger and better things, there is something bittersweet about the end of a season, even if it ends with a championship.

I was blessed to get to sit on the sidelines with the 2008 NAIA Women's Basketball Champions...and yes, I cried, then I busied myself with icebags (for future reference, no one wants ice after they just won a championship). And although that night was amazingly special for that team, the thing that still gets me more than those moments on the court and of celebration after is the journey that brought that team there. That team grew as individuals and together through 5 AM practice, defensive series drills that would have killed lesser women, bus rides, and pregame meals. The trophy at the end was a culmination of so much more than just talent and hard work.

And that's why I get teary eyed during the Super Bowl. Or the little league world series. Or most likely at the regional basketball championship this week. Even when I don't know the team, my imaginative mind sees the early morning workouts, the untold stories of sacrifice, the encouraging words when an athlete was ready to quit, and the memories made on long road trips.

Most of us will never be in the Super Bowl or even part of a championship bid on a big dramatic stage. But all of us have all kinds of battles and contests in this game of life. Our recent one was paying off debt...and our debt free scream on the Dave Ramsey show this past Saturday was that Championship moment. It was fun. My endorphins were high and I'll always remember the smiles on our' faces as we screamed into the phone. And I fully expected to cry (you know how I do that during those Championship moments). But I didn't. I hung up the phone and took in the moment. The extra hours, no cable, and old cars had paid off. It was our championship moment. And we've enjoyed it. And as we get pictures and the audio from Dave's team, I'll share it here.

But as I'm sure there's an NFL commercial airing tonight will remind you...the new season starts tomorrow.