Category Archives: Health

Lasting Impressions

Standard

I was probably in my early 20’s when I finally realized the connection between calories and weight. It happened one lunch hour. I was standing at the Take-Out counter of a diner waiting for my order behind a woman, perhaps a few years older than I, who was dressed to perfection. Her dress was form fitting, but not vulgar. She was stunning and more importantly, she didn’t seem to notice she was! I don’t think I have ever been as happy to be waiting for my food as I was that day. I had no place to run and discreetly taking notice of her style didn’t cause anyone any harm. If iPhones had been around, I might have taken a picture! I could not see what she ordered, but I know it was not a plain salad! That’s when I began to really, really think about calories, exercise and weight. I wondered if she was one of those lucky people who was “naturally” thin but I know that those people are usually very aware of how much fuel they need to keep their bodies in perfect condition.

It was 1975. I had lost a lot of weight quickly which I promised myself I would not gain back. I always had been chubby prior to that and although a lot of people teased about thyroid problems being the cause of my bulk, I knew it was a combination of eating too much and not moving enough. Still, I managed to lose weight (slowly usually) so I never blamed my thyroid. After the weight loss, I restricted my meals and although I love the taste of food, I loved being able to buy ready-to-wear clothing more, that was my incentive to keep my figure.

My weight fluctuated 5 lbs. either way for decades. When I was pregnant with each of my two children, I was very careful about what went into my body (more for safe births than vanity) and after their birth, I quickly rejoined WW and went back to my normal weight. I don’t really know when I began the slow but steady loss of discipline that has resulted in this chubby senior citizen! Perhaps living in a country that doesn’t have the same prejudice has encouraged this laxity, perhaps just getting older and knowing no one would dare criticize me now. It would be elderly abuse! I cannot say.

Yesterday, I was waiting in line at the Post Office behind a man in his 30’s. He was average weight, build and height. Nothing special about him except his clothes. His shirt was crisp, the pleats of his trousers were neatly pressed, his leather belt was fashionable and his shoes were comfortable and shiny. It reminded me of the young woman I saw more than 40 years ago. For some reason, looking at him and remembering her has prompted me to get back to work on cooking and eating healthfully. I know it’s calories in and calories out. It is not easy, it never has been easy, but it is doable and ready-to-wear clothing has never been more beautiful.

bing.com public domain image

A Lovely Surprise!

Standard

A friend I had not seen for more than two years came to visit me yesterday. The first thing he said to me was that I looked great, had I had lost a lot of weight? This made me smile because in the two or three years that we had not seen each other, I had lost 25 lbs. and gained back 10…so the net loss of 15 lbs. (he said) was very noticeable to him. I was grateful for his lovely words and we had a great afternoon of conversation and food. I did my very best to stay on program, eating just enough to be full and drinking (wine) just enough to be happy but not loopy!

Today I head into the “city” (of San José, CR) to visit my Dad and spend a little quality time with him and my son who returns to chilly New York in a couple of days. I hope to be home early enough to enjoy the rest of my Sunday in quiet solitude, though that is not always possible given the many obligations I have taken on (pet, plants, household). At least I will have the company of my husband to enjoy.

 

bing.com public domain image

 

What Are We Bringing To The Table?

Standard

Here we are past the midway point of the first month of 2020! I am sure I am not the only one who has become very aware that time just gets away from us whether we are using it wisely or wasting it. My resolve and determination to follow my WW plan (Go Purple!) has been taking some effort because there is always a friend dropping by with goodies, children visiting who request that I make them favorite (non-dietetic) foods or community meetings that come with coffee and dessert. What to do? I try to simply do my best every day and remember when I get on the scale that the number is guide, just something to remind me that I have come this far and that with steadfastness and attention I can become as inspiring and the many WW people who have lost and kept off their hundreds of pounds.

When I was a young girl, other people’s obsession with my weight always entertained me. I didn’t really understand why they were so focused on me when their own lives, whether they were thin or fat, did not have anything to do with my weight. It wasn’t like they were purchasing my food or my clothes, or feeling the discomfort that I had when the tight(er) pants began making marks on my body or when my feet were just so tired from walking with the extra weight.

I eventually became an adult, got my weight under control and kept it that way for a very long time. The fact that now, as a full-fledged senior citizen, the excess weight seems like a permanent thing in my life, the only thing I want is to be healthy and live a long long time. I think my best solution is to relax, accept that the number (for now) will remain a little higher than I like but that I can and will finally reach a point where three sizes in my closet is a thing of the past. For today, I will track and plan the meals I will eat and go about the rest of my day with a positive attitude and an optimistic viewpoint.

Imagine a world where our size is no longer an interesting part of our personality? I do and try my very best to bring other things to the tables I frequent.

bing.com public domain image

Bye 2019, Welcome 2020!

Standard

I’ve been involved with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) since about 1970 when my mother took me to a meeting because she wanted to lose weight and didn’t want to go alone. Don’t get me wrong, I needed to lose weight too but I didn’t really feel like going on a “diet” again. I was 15 years old, about 20 lbs. overweight (though I was made to feel like I was 200 lbs. overweight!). I didn’t have the wherewithal to refuse her.

My father, always slim and never one to comment on anyone’s physical appearance, used to drive us to the church that had the basement where the meetings were held. I suppose this readied me for the many (future) years of sitting in 12-step meetings and town-hall community gatherings. I learned a lot about nutrition at those meetings and I was very inspired by our leader, a tall, funny many who had lost over 100 lbs. My favorite of all his “pep rallies” where the ones where he told us the Jean Nidetch (co-founder of WW) story. I think I might have at some point been present at some event where Ms. Nidetch spoke but I cannot say if this is true or just some fantasy of mine.

I, like millions of other people, have gained and lost hundreds of pounds in my life. Today, I am getting ready to close out 2019, not as heavy as I was at the end of 2017 but heavier than I thought I would be at this time. I am disappointed but I do not feel like throwing in the towel. I just watched an old clip of Ms. Nidetch accepting the Horatio Alger award in 1989. I am newly inspired by her words and will pretend that I am going to be a Horatio Alger award recipient in the future and need to lose weight for the occasion. Everything and nothing works, this too, I know.

So as we start the new year 2020, let us begin with optimism, accompanied by all the tools that are available for us to have success. Ms Nidetch’s story is certainly worth reading about.

Best wishes, may all your projects come to fruition in the new year.

Picture of book my own

Enter December!

Standard

I’ve been on the WW plan for almost two years now. I have lost almost 20 lbs. which is better than gaining but certainly nowhere I thought I would be two years later. It is not the plan, it is definitely me! But today is a new day and WW is nothing if not supportive. It does not matter that it is a business and wouldn’t survive if we were all successful but I cannot worry about other people’s weight journey, I can only “control” to a certain degree what goes into my body and what movements I do to use the calories. As I have always thought, the reason why I am not extreme in dieting is because my weight (matronly but still somewhat shapely) does not stop me from doing things. I am outgoing, simply move into a larger size when things start to get tight, etc. but when I see pictures of me, they do not look like what I see in the mirror or the image I have of myself in my head.

I live in the tropics but my children live on the East Coast of the US where it is cold and snowy. I have been looking up recipes to try with my diet and all of them are calling for “cozy foods” that will warm us up…hey, we have overweight people in the tropics too, no recipes for us?

The month of November was given over to NaNoWriMo. I do write quite a bit anyway but November is specifically designed to just write, write, write. I did not make the 50K mark but I did make it to 40K and that was a very great milestone. Not only that, I did begin the memoir that I want to leave my children. Writing it now and letting them read it allows them to ask any questions while I am still able to remember stuff.

Heck of a ride I am in for as I continue all the end-of-year projects. I hope the days go slower than the year has gone.

 

picture of snowy NY my own

Self-Esteem is an Issue

Standard

I just spent a good 30 minutes reading all about Karen Carpenter. What did I come away with? That her issues were caused by a strong desire to get the attention of her dismissive mother. How sad, the mother had ample physical evidence and yet chose to be blind as her daughter lost pound after pound. It is heartbreaking and even more disturbing is the fact that even today, despite all we know, there are many many mothers (and fathers) making mistakes that could easily be corrected. Sometimes I wonder what gets into people’s minds when they decide to have children. Then I stop myself and remember that everyone has their own path to follow and it is not my place to be a judge.

Karen Carpenter was beautiful, talented and had no idea of her value. Self-esteem is nurtured in childhood. By her brother’s own account, no one was paying too much attention as Karen dwindled into a waif and then disappeared. I wonder at her perseverance. Having always had a weight problem (but not a body image one, since I accept what I look like!), I know how difficult it is to lose weight. Although I learned early on (from WW) all about sound nutrition for safe and slow weight loss, I can admit to crash dieting, starving and a very minute foray into bulimia. I was too scared to make a habit out of laxatives or vomiting because my desire to live (fat or thin) trumped everything. I thank my lucky stars that this is my way because fat and thin – well, normal weight – I have lived a very good life. It seems like it would be an easy thing to do, boost one’s child self-esteem by just telling the child he/she is loved for just breathing, but it would appear that many people who have children just repeat the same patterns they were brought up in even though in their deepest recesses they can accept these were not healthy. I sincerely hope that all the literature that abounds will one day reach the ears, eyes, and minds of all the people who find it imperative to continue to bring infants into the world.

I am not by nature a fan of dystopia but I can see the downward spiral we are succumbing to. I hope we can stop before it is too late.

bing.com public domain image

Another Approach to Weight Management

Standard

I absolutely hate anything that promises to be “boot camp”.  I got invited to watch a webinar that was going to tell me all about the mysteries of weight loss or resistance to weight loss…what did I come away with? Not anything I didn’t know already although I did get a good explanation about dopamine and leptin! In any event, I am glad I reserved my space…and actually listened to the entire hour…and waited for the (sales) pitch…

While I was listening to the wonderfully sincere webinar “guru’s” pitch and story …I was mentally wondering how much I would be willing to pay (I am already doing WW at about $23/month). I watch my pennies, $23/month works to $276 with no added expense (unless I want to) for special food, equipment etc. What I want to do is live the rest of my days within a good weight for me…which I once was and was able to maintain for 25 years. I get annoyed that I allowed the weight back on…when the final price came at a price of more than $5000 for a private coach and the group price a bargain at $497 I felt like someone slapped me!

Wow, I am thankful, so thankful today. I know what to do, I need to do it and pay for the rest of this year until I reach my goal and then apply discipline, planning, prepping and NEVER EVER skipping breakfast but also not being silly enough to spend money like this. I am looking forward to getting a gorgeous headboard for my bedroom, many many high quality wooden bookcases and beautiful, colorful clothes to go with my lively personality. My hundreds of dollars can be spent in so many other ways. I hardly will have time to feel deprived, have cravings, etc.

I came away with the same answers I have always had, calories in and calories out, movement, a positive attitude and a lot of common sense. Although I can understand the wisdom of this particular program, I can also see how most people will still not be able to conquer it. Meanwhile, someone else is going on vacation, having a beautiful life on our hard-earned dollars.

What a shame…

bing.com public domain image

How boring it can be!

Standard

When I was looking for an image to add to this post, I searched “boredom” on bing.com. The first image that caught my eye was this tired, lifeless woman who seems quietly desperate to be elsewhere. The caption reads “souvenir seller”…my goodness, who would buy anything from her? It is the perfect image to add to this post, as I am bored of the same tired subject of weight loss.

I just finished reading a simple, free PDF book by Brooke Castillo called “If I Am So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight?”.  Ms. Castillo is frank about not being a doctor or nutritionist, just a successful entrepreneur who managed to lose 70 lbs. and maintain it. In my book, that lends a lot of credibility to her pitch. I read the book quickly once through as she suggests, and will probably go back and print out the exercises, etc. There are a couple of things in the book that are different from others of its kind. For example, Ms. Castillo does not suggest we get rid of the temptations (junk food) in our cabinets or the scale in our bathroom. She insists they have a place in our life if we are to successfully and once and for all get rid of the excess weight that is keeping us from living our best days.

My “boredom” with everything related to my weight issue is hopefully the beginning of a once and for all permanent weight loss. No matter how long it takes (hopefully not beyond 2019), it is my intention to be rid of the 30 excess pounds on my small frame and never have them coming back to me. Intellectually, I know what to do. It is all about calories in and out. There are thousands of programs out there, for nutrition, for exercise, for inspiration…but everything really has its roots internally. At my age (63), I have read and tried everything. My problem is that I have secondary gains from this weight or I wouldn’t hold on to it.

That is where I am this morning: cogitating the secondary gains. I know they are there and serve some purpose. Today my goal is to be kind to me as I navigate my day from meal to meal. I have just enjoyed a delicious, lovingly prepared squash and cheese omelet, two strips of bacon and one half of an English muffin. I had eaten a banana earlier and I am finishing my second cup of black coffee. This substantial breakfast will hold me for several hours. I can honestly say that I rarely feel real hunger. I snack healthily every couple of hours. My problem comes at night when, after dinner, my husband and I enjoy watching television together and we like to have a cocktail or two and a couple of chocolates. If I reduce what I eat during the day, these “empty but delicious” calories would be no problem. If I increase how much I exercise during the day, the same would be true. But I don’t do either…so my weight either remains the same for weeks on end or (if the indulgence is greater), I gain a pound or two. Like many permanent dieters, I fight with the same few pounds for months at a time.

After childhood obesity, I successfully lost 35 lbs. when I was 19. I maintained that normal weight for decades. A medical emergency in 2000 caused me to gain 6 lbs. in the hospital due to a high calorie diet ordered by my doctor to protect my organs from the strong medication to treat my condition. But 6 lbs. is not 30 lbs. I no longer have any medical conditions (except some knee pain due no doubt to the excess weight) but there has to be some mental reason for this inability to get rid of the weight. I owe it to myself to stop making excuses and delve deep into my psyche. I think this is the big takeaway I got from Brooke Castillo’s book: I owe it to me, no one else is going to do it for me. I can and will succeed.

bing.com free to share and use image

Such a conundrum…

Standard

Recently, The New York Times posted an article about that controversial topic: eggs! (https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/15/well/eat/eggs-cholesterol-heart-health.html)

I have been following the Weight Watchers (WW) program for a little over a year and of course, Zero point foods are an incredibly popular part of success. In the last year, I have consumed more eggs that ever before in my life because they are easy, tasty and zero points.

I “slipped” for a few months from the WW program and gained back 6 lbs. of a modest weight loss. I decided to give the Whole-30 another try since it requires the elimination of high point items like rice and bread, both my pitfalls.  I know that the Whole-30 is really geared towards pinpointing foods that make us break out or give us allergies, etc. but I tried it a couple of years ago, not only did I feel great, I lost 10 lbs. I discovered that I do have a slight allergy to almonds if I eat them in large quantities or in combination with chocolate but I otherwise can tolerate most foods, which is wonderful.

After being on the Whole-30 and only being able to eat eggs as zero point foods (well, veggies and fruits too but no more plain yogurt), I have only lost a couple of pounds which is very frustrating because I was hoping it would move quickly. Then I remembered that Whole-30 is not for weight loss (although that can happen). I am in a spot that I put myself in. At my age, no one is telling me (or frankly caring about) what goes in my mouth. My personal goal is to lose (once and for all this year) the 30 pounds that continue to haunt me.

Although I have never thought of myself as a veteran dieter, the truth is that I had a normal weight for a very long time because I followed a very strict routine. I ate breakfast consisting of a slice of toast, one slice of cheese, a small fruit juice and a cup of black coffee. Lunch was either soup with saltines, or yogurt, an apple and a diet soda. Dinner was a salad. I drank lots of water, did not snack between meals and cannot really ever say I was hungry. I suppose my stomach shrunk. On Fridays, I did indulge in a dinner which consisted of two slices of sicilian pizza (New York style), a large serving of steamed broccoli and a huge shortbread cookie triangle that had pecans and chocolate in one corner. It was a wonderful treat and something I looked forward to for years. I didn’t lose or gain weight with this method and I always had energy, good moods, etc.

My pregnancies were great, I followed the guidelines so that I gained a nice amount of weight to ensure healthy babies (one was 7 lbs. one was 7 1/2 lbs.) and then I joined WW for a few months to safely return to my “normal” weight. A medical emergency almost 20 years ago landed me in a hospital with antibiotics. The doctor ordered a high-calorie diet to ensure no damage to my organs. I left the hospital weighing 6 lbs. more than when I went in. I was unable or maybe just not motivated to lose the 6 lbs. and every year added just one or two more. In the course of 20 years, it adds up. I am now the carrier of an excess of 30 lbs. (at least it’s not the 50 lbs. it was last year!). I don’t like the way I look in pictures and frankly, I want to live for a long time.

So, the article has made it difficult for me to continue to eat my zero point eggs with abandon because now I have to worry that my health will suffer! I am laughing at myself because I might need to go back and just count calories, the only thing that really works. I will be spending my time this afternoon researching the diets (or to be more “correct” – the nutrition plans) of long ago that used simple caloric counts and common sense. I just want to lose the weight, safely and permanently. Wish me luck!

bing.com free to share and use image

 

Time is personal

Standard

Time is Personal

I’m currently reading a mainstream NYTimes best seller. It is very enjoyable and the author is or has recently been on a tour to promote her two books and working on her third. I can’t really remember how I happened to catch the title, really, and when I went on Amazon, it was a bit costly so I didn’t buy it. Then I remembered that through my library I am able to “borrow” books electronically. I searched for the title and reserved it for at least two months. When the library informed me last week that the title was available, I promptly downloaded it into my app and began reading. I am finding it entertaining but I do notice that I am reading with an editor’s eye, rather than just enjoying the book for what it offers. It is a terrible thing.

My ambition is to write a mainstream novel this year. Whether or not it gets published is not really important to me. Getting it down on paper (well, in my case in Scrivener!) is what I really want to do. I spent the month of November 2018 participating in NaNoWriMo and got about 90 pages done, or more or less 30%. I did not “win” because I did not complete 50,000 words in that month, but I did write almost every single day. I have not written very much on the novel since December 1st. I find it hard to believe how the days and weeks just fly by.

Someone told me recently that “time” was personal…whatever that meant. Today I kind of got his message: I spend at least one hour every day on personal grooming. I try to make it go faster but by the time I shower, apply body lotion everywhere, comb and style my long, curly hair, find appropriate clothing that is clean, pressed and fits for the day, and then put on my makeup, an hour has gone by. Then I try to spend at least 40 minutes practicing my guitar, another 20 minutes watering or tending to my plants…right there are two hours that my friends who have short hair and wear t-shirts and jeans and no makeup, have no musical hobby or plants save…so I guess he is right.

My weight loss journey continues. I am pleased to say that I have been following the Whole-30 pretty closely although I have given myself a couple of “cheat” days and then begin anew. I am in a different space, at +60 it is no longer appropriate to be wondering if anyone is going to scold me for being overweight! I feel really good though and have lots of energy despite not eating any bread or added sugar. My problem has and will always be portion control! Each meal is an opportunity to practice, that part is fun, watching myself as if I were a stranger!

 

bing.com public domain image