Category Archives: Nutrition and Diet

Just for today

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It has been quite a month so far. My brother and his wife visited our sleepy town
in search of art and they found it. Afterwards they purchased some rather pricey
but original items which they took back home with them. I am always amazed with
the enthusiasm visitors show when they roam our town, I guess I have lived here and
enjoyed it for so long that I am a bit indifferent! It is a shame and getting back that
enthusiasm is something I am longing to do.

Last weekend I had a severe stomach flu. Although I think it might actually have been
food poisoning, I think I will stick with stomach flu because it has been going around
our parts for a while. It was just terrible. I found myself unable to keep anything down
and spent a good part of my weekend just trying to keep myself hydrated. I was very
hungry. The upside, however, was that I lost almost 2 lbs. I know that it was mostly water
but the numbers on the scale made me smile. After getting over the flu, I decided to
continue to watch what I ate and have not gained back the 2 lbs. Hopefully this weekend’s
“normal” eating will at least allow me to maintain my current weight.

I am still somewhat away from my goal weight. Although a 20 lbs. loss for the year was my
goal, at this point I confess I am happy that I will end the year most likely 5 lbs. lighter than
when it began. During the year, I have gained and lost about 10 lbs. It is just so hard, especially
since it (weight loss) is a subject that is hard to talk about without boring everyone. Some
people are just naturally thin, I know, but when I see what “naturally thin” people eat, there
is really nothing “natural” about it. They eat very little and only “the right stuff”…you don’t
see them going in for endless snacks, and if they do, it is usually fruit or veggies. Those of us
who put on weight just thinking about cookies, love to eat those cookies not just think about
them. In addition, we are drawn to starches, sweets and fats. It is a never-ending battle. Just
for the weekend, I would like to eat modestly, go to bed somewhat hungry and burn my energy
partaking of activities that I enjoy and will allow me to burn some calories. So far today, I am
on track!

 

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A never ending challenge

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I put on a pair of pants this morning that felt a bit snugger than they did three weeks ago
when I put them on in New York. I don’t need to hop on a scale to confirm what the last
few days of not going hungry have done for my figure! But today is another day, and I know
that taking of a couple of pounds is not an impossible feat regardless of how hectic the
agenda.

It is a constant “struggle” this weight thing. I cannot say I feel depressed or angry, just
disappointed that my metabolism requires so little food for functioning. I resent the fact
that my mom was so concerned with my body that she forced me into a dieting for weight
loss at the tender age of 10, messing with my metabolism for a lifetime. She knew better,
she was a highly educated person. She could not bear the guilt that my physical, tangible
bulk represented for her: my need for (her) attention, attention she either could not or
would not give. Decades later, I find myself with the issue of weight or food on my mind
all the time. Sometimes it bothers me, other times I just accept it as a matter of fact.

Yesterday, I went to a fundraising event at a nearby rural community. Most of the women
(and a good amount of the men too!) present were overweight. The women did not take
any pains to hide their muffin tops, unabashedly and unapologetically wearing camisoles
that left nothing to the imagination. The men wore t-shirts with letters that stretched across
their midriff and made me smile. In my mind, I remembered my late mother-in-law’s comments
when she saw such personal fashion expressions: “Don’t they have a mirror?”

I also wear camisoles…but they serve as my cheaper spanx version and remind me all day that
I still need to lose weight. I cannot even conceive of wearing a camisole without something over
it to cover up those unsightly bulges. I try to be non-judgmental to myself and remind myself
often that even when I was thin (for 25 years of my life!), I was never comfortable with exposing
any cleavage or wearing form-fitting camisoles on their own.

Today I go to lunch with a couple of elderly (thin) friends. They (actually no one) have never,
ever made any comments about my weight fluctuations (which I try to keep within 25 lbs.). I am
certain they couldn’t care less, if they notice at all. Naturally thin people rarely spend time in this
way! I will approach lunch with a calorie-focus. I will probably skip the cocktail (but I won’t promise),
and opt for some kind of salad. Or maybe I will take my cue from whatever they decide to eat. They
are also enviably tall, something that is also not in my favor as I don’t even reach 5 foot.

It is a fascinating struggle. One that should not ever have been my struggle if my mom had just let
chubby me be. Eventually, I did learn good eating habits, and did my best to move my body gently
and learned to enjoy myself. It is now, in middle age, when I want to write (sedentarily) that I feel a
few less pounds would allow me to sit or stand comfortably for longer…for today, I will remember
that one meal at a time is the only way I need to focus on getting to the point where the pants I am
wearing today will fit comfortably again. I can do that for today.

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Self-Esteem is an Issue

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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.

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Another Approach to Weight Management

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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…

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Fit for Life?

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Except for the ugly platter that this fruit is on, this is a mouth-watering variety of fruit, ready-made for a good start to the day.

In my clearing up of bookcases to prepare for painting my bedroom, I came across a copy of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond’s Fit for Life “program” that I had participated in almost 20 years ago. It is amazing how good advice never goes out of style. I also came across a Weight Watchers program guide that dates to 1976 when my mom and my sister were participating in the program. I was at a good weight at the time, they were getting ready for my upcoming wedding! It seems like a lifetime ago, and actually I have experienced many changes and have updated my body for many years. Right now, I am back on WW (they too have had many iterations!) and hoping that this final time will see me going into the final chapters of my life with a manageable weight and good health. So far, it has been slow going but that has its own rewards as my skin is not as wrinkled as it would be if the weight loss were too quick.

But going back to the Diamond’s plan. It makes sense. It’s kind of the advice one would give a friend one cares about: start the day with fruit, move, have good thoughts, keep yourself hydrated, etc. The problem is that we are all distracted by work, family obligations, the need for relaxation which usually involves fattening and delicious food…

I did the plan when I was just 10 lbs. over my goal. It was not something I wanted to do, trying my best to lose the weight naturally by eating healthily when hungry and avoiding binging and eating high calorie junk food. However, I had a friend who was about 25 lbs. overweight at the time and wanted to do something drastic about it. She had heard of a homeopath who was implementing meditation, inserting a tiny device in one’s ear (like acupuncture) and following the Diamond’s plan. The homeopath gave a group discount for three participants so my friend enlisted one other person and off we went. I don’t think I lost a single ounce but I did get to keep the meditation tape, and the book. The acupuncture thing came out of the ear after the three or four sessions, I can’t remember. Doing the program turned into one of my big mistakes, it seems to me that is when my modest but steady weight gain trend began. 20 years later, I had added almost 40 lbs. to my small frame! The instigator of the idea eventually went on to another commercial diet plan where her food intake was monitored (I think she wore a patch for a few months) daily but she did successfully take off the weight and has kept it off for more than 5 years. Our other friend remains the same weight more or less but has been trying to lose also as I have.

The moral of the story for me is this: everyone who is or has been overweight has an individual story to tell. Some people are fat because they love to eat. Some people are fat because they eat in response to emotional triggers. Some people focus so much attention on dieting, their body rebels and hangs on to the weight just in case it ever finds itself stranded on some desert island with nothing to eat…it is protection. In my case, I was a fat kid because bad habits begun when I was a baby (my mom adding sugar to the milk to make up for her absence) continued to my teenage years and I never learned to eat properly and healthily until I was an adult and decided to lose weight for me. I am a veteran dieter. I know any plan will work if you stick with it long enough and although I am a very big fan of WW, I can accept that everyone has the ability to make choices. My choice for today is to stay away from the scale this week until Friday which is my weekly weigh in. I will mindfully plan, prepare and eat my way into health and a good weight for me. I am grateful that my internal panic button did not allow me to add hundreds of pounds to my body. People who have that much weight to lose inspire me and have my heartfelt solidarity and compassion during their journey.

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My philosophy on Weight Loss Programs

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Whenever I see a large cat like this, I am invariably reminded of the gangster movies I enjoyed as a teenager. You know the kind I mean, with the rich guys (fat cats) spoiling their loved ones  and crying over their loss even as background stories show how cold and horrible they can be to their enemies. Not sure what brought that up really, except that I watched a “horror/horror comedy” last night that really made me think about how awful people can be to each other.

As usual, the month is flying by. I can honestly say I have been very good about keeping track of my nutrition and have happily lost a bit over 3 lbs. since I returned home from my trip early last month. It doesn’t sound like much but since I lose very, very slowly and I am trying to eat all my daily points and weekly extras, I feel I am making some very welcome progress after plateauing for various reasons for a good number of weeks.  This month, I am committed to a challenge that will hopefully find me losing 5 lbs. before the end. We shall see, I have been doing my best to stay on track.

I recently read an article by an author who takes issue with weight loss plans. I understand her basic premise which is that any weight loss plan is created as a business first and does not really care about the individuals that follow or shall I say more accurately, pay to join and pay additional monthly installments, don’t follow the plan but also don’t quit the plan so essentially they are not losing anything but money. The author believes that the customers are victims of some cynical marketing plot.

It is my contention that most intelligent people have choices. Although it might not be easy to quit a program once you’ve joined it, it is not impossible. In other words, sometimes the paperwork to get out is complicated or the savvy marketing department has taught the people manning the phones to pitch ways in which the customer can improve their results and at the same time keep paying their monthly quotas. I understand all that but I still believe that one can indeed quit programs. My daughter did it recently and although she does confirm that the person on the other side of the line tried very hard to persuade her to continue, she was firm and was able to get out.

I have been pretty successful with my WW plan. This past couple of weeks have seen me focused on doing everything I can to lose at least 4 lbs. this month. My scale is in kilos so it is difficult to gauge with any exactitude but I will not purchase another scale just for that. I can see that the trend is downward and I am happy with that. And let’s face it, if one is overeating one doesn’t usually need a program or a tracker to tell us that.

At this moment, I am feeling very satiated. I had a good breakfast and for lunch I ate a whole half avocado which was juicy, tasty and filling. I hope I can have a good rest of the day, the weekends present a challenge because I am not as busy on weekends as I am on other days and have a tendency to look in the refrigerator more often than on week days. In any event, I am satisfied with my numbers today and figure that if I can lose one pound a week for the rest of the year, that will be 28 lbs. less than when I started! Down is good. I might stop there too since it will be exactly where I would like to stay for the rest of my life. It is doable and I know I can do it.

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A good week of healthy eating.

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I am not a vegetarian but the picture of this happy one made me smile and I thought I would add it to today’s blog post.

I have made my way through almost a week of successful healthy eating. I find myself away from home with many fruits, vegetables and single-serve options at my fingertips. This availability of variety makes it so much easier to stay focused and on plan. It has long been my contention that if one has a chef and people to do the every day tasks so one can devote oneself to creating, painting, writing, thinking, there would be no need for dieting. Alas how many of us can really do that? How many of us would really want to? I suppose the novelty would wear off just as it does for everything. That’s life.

My current geographical location is somewhere in the U.S. I know where I am but since I am not sharing that information with every person in my life, I would rather be low key. Suffice it to say that I am enjoying being a bit off the grid for a while while I devote myself to the long-neglected novel I began last November. I am currently procrastinating getting back to it by writing blog entries and reading lots of colorful, entertaining fashion magazines. Who would really wear these outrageous clothes? Let’s be real, who in my circle could really afford them?

I have been examining that whole “secondary gains” idea. I think that one of the secondary gains is that I can now find stylish clothing that fits me whereas in my younger days, anything that fit me was designed for frumpy older women who were not coquettish the way I have always been. In my youth, I had to re-design and sew my own stuff. Now, there are plenty of designers who are smart enough not to turn their noses up at the buying power of that demographic. Not having to spend my time sewing is a secondary gain. Yesterday I went shopping and found a nice pair of (extra-stretchy) jeans that I only had to hem. They were a “perfect” size 16! I chuckle as I write that, what’s “perfect” about a size 16, old me would ask sarcastically? These days, it feels perfect to me. I hemmed them this morning, ironed a complimentary blouse and voila, ready for the day and night. It feels good and if I don’t look great, at least I look presentable and that is no small thing.

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How boring it can be!

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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.

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A visit to the doctor

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I accompanied my 90 year old dad to the doctor today. Nothing to worry about, just a routine follow-up visit that had been scheduled months ago. My dad is not your typical 90 year old, although these days there seem to be more and more atypical ones around. Just look at Betty White still going strong at 98!

As I sat in the doctor’s office, I noticed that he kept looking at me, asking me questions about whether or not I had yearly check ups and all that. He happens to be an exceptional human being, and is renowed for his laporoscopy surgeries, many of them dealing with extremely obese clients who opt for gastric surgeries.

Every time I go to his office with my Dad (who has never been overweight in his life), I feel that the doctor would like a few minutes alone with me to suggest me going under the knife for such a surgery. I am not extremely obese and it is probably all in my mind but it does give me pause. Fortunately since the last time he saw me, I have managed to lose a bit more thaan 20 lbs. I wonder if he can tell. He, of course, looks terrific.

I fell in my shower yesterday. A blow to the ego but also some damage to my never-great knee cap because I had to figure out a way to get up and had to kneel before being able to grap the shower handles to raise myself. It is a terrible feeling, in that moment, I felt like such a dumbell and I could anticipate the swelling, the tightness and the overall discomfort in my immediate future. I knew I was going to have to let my husband know because limping was going to be the order of the day. The reason for the fall was that I washed my hair and the conditioner is super slippery but the reality was that if I had put down the shower mat, I could have avoided what I am powering through today.

My knees have never been great. I am not sure why that is but I can recall that even when I was thin, if I walked too much or danced the night away, there was always inflammation and discomfort the day after. I took a pain pill (no real remedy that I can feel), and right now I have made myself an improvised bandage. Luckily, the strain has not interfered with my ability to drive so that’s good.

In keeping with my calorie counting, yesterday I also noted the food I ate in my WW log and was happy that at the end of the day, I had not exceeded the points allowed for the day. I feel a bit hungry right now and realize that all I have had to eat today was a hard-boiled egg…the first one this week…and some fruit. Lunch is coming up, not sure what it will be but at this point, everything will be welcome.

 

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Such a conundrum…

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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!

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