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Daily Bread #53

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Every week another miracle seems to come my way!  This week, my doctor took me off of ALL of my prescription medications!  I almost feel a little guilty because I am getting so many rewards from my weight loss.  It doesn’t happen for everyone.  Weight is only one factor correlated to health, and it isn’t necessarily even a direct correlation. (math terms again!)  Fat people can be healthy and skinny people can be unwell.  For me, though, the weight loss is having a huge positive impact on my health.

I am counting my blessings that this has been true for me.   These results will also help me have the discipline to keep the weight off once I am done losing.

Last night we just had seven people again at the group.  One thing, though, about a smaller group is that you get to know people better – at least the ones who talk.  Two people did not say a word, however.  I still hate that.

We talked about strategies for “what if” situations.  My favorite was “what do you do if someone wants to buy you a long island iced tea?”  My response, which made everyone laugh, was to “ask for a martini instead.”  We then discussed the calories in olives.  (10 each for garlic stuffed queens).  2 or even 3 olives are just fine.

We also talked about what to do when “drift” happens, when one meal, one day, turns into 3 or 4 or a week.  So far, I have only exceeded my daily calorie goal once in awhile and on purpose.  I make up for the overage either before or the next day.  Several of us agreed that this program has been enough work that we DON’t want to have to do it again.  It is hard, though, and like quitting smoking, some people have to try more than once before they are successful.  The rewards along the way have helped me, and as I said, not everyone receives those same rewards.  No guilt!  No blame!  I just don’t want my friends to drop out completely.  I will miss them to much.

Our road trip to General Assembly this summer will be more of a challenge for me.  I have a weakness for the fried oysters one can find on the Oregon coast, and we will be eating most of our dinners out.  I won’t have them every night, but I will have them some.  I can easily skip the sides of fries that usually come with them, though. We are taking a cooler and will have healthy breakfast, lunches, and snacks with us, so hopefully I will at least maintain during the trip.  Planning is (almost) everything.  As I said, my motivation could not be stronger.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Down 1.0 pound, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 660 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 103.7 pounds.)

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Daily Bread #52

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On any journey, there are milestones.  They aren’t end-points, but a chance to catch your breath and realize how far you have come.  (Are we there yet, Mom?) This week, I made it into the Century Club. (I made that name up and am looking for more members.)

Since beginning this program a little less than a year ago, I have lost a total of 102 pounds.  Always an overachiever, I pushed myself this week to make sure I made it after one week of being so very close at 99.7 and another where I had a slight (.7) gain.  So with a bit more exercise and a little less food, I  got there this week.

This isn’t an end-point.  My journey is not done.  I still need to lose 5 more pounds before I can schedule knee surgery and 40 more pounds will get me out of the “obese” category.  But really, 100 pounds is a lot!

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It is kind of hard to realize I was lifting that much weight, each and every day, all day long.

I am lighter, but learned this week that I am also less buoyant.  We opened the pool last week IMG_2195

and when I got in, it felt like I sunk like a stone.  I kept getting water up my nose.  Apparently all the fat kept me afloat and I could just flail my arms and legs to move through the water.  Now I need to really swim.  For now, I am using my snorkel set because I hate water up my nose.  I understand it is used as a form of torture.

It was another small group last night, with only seven of us there.  Since I’d reached my milestone, the facilitator asked me to share some of what has allowed me to succeed.  I see it that way, as something “allowed” not just accomplished.  It is mainly a gift of circumstance, with some luck and a lot of grace thrown in.  And yes. it has also been mixed with some fairly gritty determination and strong motivation.

Weird thing is, it is getting easier.  I now know what my body needs to be healthy.  I understand the science – and the math.  Those last 5 and 40 pounds may just melt away.  Not that I am going to relax my focus and concentration, because my old habits could come back.  But one hundred pounds in one year is something to celebrate.  Can I get a hallelujah?

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Down 3.8 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 655 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 102.7 pounds.)

 

 

Daily Bread #51

One of the motivational tools Kaiser uses in the program is the “Passport.”

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You earn “stamps” for attending the weekly meetings, exercise (420 minutes or 70,000 steps each week), and recording your daily food/calorie intake.  Once you get 18 “stamps,” you can turn the completed passport in and once a quarter there is a drawing for $20 Whole Foods gift cards.  I love prizes; they can help motivate me.  I increased my exercise minutes in order to earn that “stamp” each week.  The other two (meetings and recording) I was already doing.  I have actually been recording what I eat each day since August 18th of last year.  Yes, some guesswork is involved, especially when eating away from home, but I record every single bite.

So…..this last quarter was the first time I had completed passports included in the drawing………………………………………………………….

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and the winner is….

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Yay!  Of course, $20 at Whole Foods would be worth $30 at any other grocery store, but who am I to argue with free?

We opened the pool this week and I went swimming twice.  I think I will also continue at least some time on the exercise bike as it will help get my legs ready for knee surgery.

This week class was again tiny, with only 6 people showing up.  We had a good discussion though, mainly about making contingency plans when challenges surface.  Do we avoid movies because the popcorn smells are hard to handle?  We also had a long discourse on donuts, that ever popular office goodie.  Planning is critical.  We can’t change others or the world.  (Well, maybe we CAN change the world.  Activism has an impact.  Voting matters.)

But sometimes we plan, and the gods just laugh.  I was SO sure I would have achieved the milestone of a hundred pound weight loss this week.  I mean, I had only 1/3 of a pound to go.  But it wasn’t to be as my weight was actually up slightly this week.  Next week though, I hope to join the CENTURY CLUB!

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Up .7 of a pound, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 650 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 99 pounds.)

Daily Bread #50

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Swim season is starting and while I haven’t found a new suit yet, I was able to take in some swim shorts which I can use with a swim top that has ties.  I am pretty sure it won’t fall off!

I have set a goal of 5000 steps a day – most of which I do by walking around the house.  It isn’t a whole lot, but is more than I was doing before, and it is what I can do with my knees.   Walking inside also avoids the risk of falling on uneven ground.  When you add in the stationary bike time, and, next week, the swimming, I will be burning a fair number of calories and hopefully getting in even better physical shape.

The group was tiny tonight, only 6 or so folks, but at least everyone got a chance to talk.  We talked about meal planning.  Everybody is different, and I am just going to continue doing what is working for me.  I have the same breakfast every morning of yogurt and fruit. I vary my lunch; a sandwich, eggs, or a spinach/shrimp salad.  I have a late afternoon snack, usually fresh fruit and some protein like low fat mozzarella cheese sticks.  I eat a Costco protein bar around 8:30 in the evening.  After I enter the calories for the day, my app adds all them up, and adds in an exercise “bonus.”  I  then I know how much I can eat for dinner.  I usually have 500-600 calories left, so dinner is my biggest meal.  I am rarely hungry except right before a meal.

Tonight was also an “almost milestone.”  I have lost almost 100 pounds since I began this journey 11 months ago.  Only 43 to go before I will no longer in the “medically obese” category.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Down 3 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 635 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 99.7 pounds.)

Daily Bread #49

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I got a new, more accurate, scale this week, based on encouragement from the group last week.  Since I love high tech stuff, I got one that will sync with my FitBit app.  It averages my weight for each time and day that I step onto it, and generates a trend line so I know what direction I am going.  Ah data!  There can never be enough.

It probably wasn’t due to my new home scale, but at weigh-in tonight I was down 5.1 pounds from last week.  See?  Last week’s weigh-in with no loss wasn’t an issue at all.

My meeting with the knee doctor was somewhat disappointing.  He wants me to lose another 15 pounds before he will schedule me for surgery.  This is not a big problem as I can do that in another 2-3 months and I don’t want to do the surgery until the fall anyway.  In fact, after this last week, I am one third of the way there already.

The appointment still feels like a bummer, and I am not really sure why.  At least I can just email him when I reach the weight he wants and I won’t need to make another appointment before being scheduled for surgery.  And it also isn’t like I thought I was done with this weight loss journey.  I guess I expected him to just say,”wonderful, let’s get you on the list.” Managing hopeful exceptions is not always easy.

Neither is managing this weight loss.  Every time I lose a few pounds, my calorie budget goes down in all my apps (and in reality too!).  I am always either adjusting my intake with food or my expenditure of calories with exercise.  Flexible,  that’s me.  Hah!

Last night, based on a participant’s request, we talked about strategies for dealing with things like conferences and buffet lines.  One man said he doesn’t participate at all and tells his friends, “I am leaving during the meals because I would want to eat it all.”  I loved this.  No guilt, no shame – just honesty.  Another man talked about deciding to go the Sizzler, and to just enjoy that buffet.  AND he counted the calories and made sure to get back on track the very next day.  Others drank extra water during conferences, or decided before hand that they would only take protein, fruit, and veggies from the buffet line.  If you know your trigger foods, it can help to avoid them completely.  Buffet food is also rarely all that delicious, so becoming more discerning and only eating the highest quality items can help too. Mass produced desserts are rarely very good and are loaded with fairly empty calories.  Some people also took protein bars to substitute for some of the meals.  Good tips, all of them, and I think everyone learned something they can use in the future.

We also talked about accountability, and what it means to us. This blog is one way I stay accountable both to myself and to my circle of family and friends.  Writing about this journey each week helps me, and I hope it might help others.  We all need companions and supporters, cheerleaders even, along the way if we are going to get to where we want to be.

One small part of the conversation last night disturbed me.  One of our group was feeling bad, like a complete failure, because she had been gaining a lot of weight back.  I know it was not meant the way it sounded, but the facilitator made a comment later that “studies show that if you feel like a failure, you will fail.”  For someone feeling hopeless, this was not the best thing to say.

I also realized how protective I feel toward everyone in our group, even those I hardly know, but especially those I have grown to love.  Like I have said before, the bond is strong and my mama bear personna can get riled up in an instant.

Hope IS a powerful motivator, and I know that if we cannot visualize success or even progress, then everything becomes harder.  If you are feeling a lot of guilt or shame, odds are you aren’t liking yourself very much, and who wants to put in the energy to take care of someone they don’t like?  I hate all that.  I hate that it happens and that people are made to feel that way by our culture and by the thoughtless remarks by even people who mean well.

I also know this journey has been easier for me than for many people.  I don’t have the long history of dieting, of losing and then regaining, that so many others have experienced.  Failure is not something I expected to happen.  I wasn’t SURE it would work, but I had a strong faith that it could.  I also never felt particularly shameful or guilty about being fat.  (Although I was sometimes shamed by others).  I was also an over-eater but not a binge eater.  These things have made it much easier for me.  I am grateful for that relative ease, knowing also that “easy” is not what this has been like, even for me.

Damn, I just wish we could all love ourselves fiercely just as we are, fat, thin, whatever.  The God I believe in loves us in just that way.  Then, if we want to make changes, for our health or for whatever, we can do it in the spirit of love, do it for our bodies and for ourselves.

“How could anyone ever tell us, we are anything less than beautiful.”  If they do, we need to tell them to shut the F-up.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – Down 5.1 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 555 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 96.7 pounds.)

Daily Bread #48

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I got a new jacket this week as my old one was so large it was ridiculous.  I got the new one a bit on the small side as I am planning to shrink-to-fit it better.  I am slowly learning how to shop for transition clothes.  Jeans only seem to fit for a few weeks before they threaten to fall off while I can still wear stretchy draw strings from when I was 90 pounds heavier. I really want a new swim suit soon, because I won’t be able to swim in any of my old ones.  They work OK in the hot tub where it doesn’t matter much if they are almost falling off.  If need be, if I don’t find a suit before we open the pool in the spring, it will have to just be a tee shirt and shorts for me.

Class was fun, although a LOT of people were missing this week.  Our regular facilitator was also out and Sarah, the program manager, led our group.  We did a very meaningful, go-around-the-room check-in and heard from a few people that rarely talk at all.  It was a pleasure watching Sarah draw them out.  We also did some stretching exercises, which reminded me that I need to get back into doing some of my physical therapy exercises for my arthritic shoulder.  It hurts, and not just because of the shingle’s shot I got this week.  A class member who recently had knee surgery kindly showed me some exercises I can start doing to prep for when I have it.  I see the knee doctor this Friday and hopefully will get on his schedule.  I am excited and a little apprehensive.

My weight this week was exactly the same as last week.  No worries though.  My exercise intensity was significantly less this last week, so it makes sense.  That I can blame on the shingles shot.  Excuses are sometimes valid.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – same as last week, drank at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 515 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 91.6 pounds.)

Daily Bread #47

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I am getting back to my routine:  knowing how many calories I consume, exercising and noting the calories I am burning, and drinking lots of water.  This is all so much easier at home.  I admire the folks that do this program when they are still working or have small children.

My weight loss this week was almost too much at 2.6 pounds, but it was funny that at the weigh-in the scale first showed me 8 pounds down.  I was definitely a mistake, so I asked to do it again.  (I’d stepped on the scale before it finished cycling back to zero which confused it.  Ah technology – I love it.)

At group last night one man shared his 4 “W’s” which keep him on track so he doesn’t regain the weight he has lost.

  • Water – drink lots of it.
  • Weigh yourself – at least weekly.
  • Watch what you eat – recording it is even better
  • Walk – exercise

Easy to remember, but it can be harder to do.  I am doing really well on all of these, however, which must be why it is working.   According to my food app, I have logged everything I have eaten in the last 203 days.  My exercise stats are shown above.  Today I was tired, however, so only got on the bike for 30 minutes.  Every body needs a sabbath once in awhile.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down 2.6  pounds, drink at least 7 gallons of water and I exercised for over 590 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 91.6 pounds.)

Daily Bread #46

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I am back from my trip, and pleased to report that while my progress slowed (only a 1.6 pound loss in two weeks) it did not stall or reverse.  I enjoyed myself and indulged in 3 very large-for-me meals, two desserts, one martini, a half glass of wine, and a large sake.  (Not all on the same day!). I sat most of the day during the conference, but the food choices on the buffet line allowed me to choose just protein and veggies.   In Austin, it was restaurants and home-cooked meals, most of which were high calorie, but I walked a ton (23 miles!) and I used the stationary bike at the hotel.  This trip let me see what maintenance might be like: being careful with food most of the time, exercising often, and able to have an occasional drink or dessert.

I bought some new jeans a month or so ago, and they are already too baggy to wear.  I know that can be a fashion statement for some teen-aged boys, but for a 69 year old woman, not so much.   I think I will stick to pants with drawstrings until I get to my stopping weight.  At least someone will get some barely worn clothes when I donate them.

A real win was not having to ask for a seatbelt extender on the plane.  I see the knee surgeon in two weeks and hopefully will be scheduled for surgery.  I understand there is a wait of a few months so I want to get into the queue at least.

The conference was amazing, my presentation went well, and I made some new friends.  The theme was GLBTQ history within Unitarian Universalism and included many stories from the early days after Stonewall.  Some of the stories brought me to tears.  I joined my home church in the mid-90’s, so I mainly experienced acceptance and a warm welcome.  Unitarian Universalism struggled with the issue of gay clergy back in the 70’s and although both homophobia and heterosexism are still deeply embedded in the wider culture, gay and lesbian clergy now have little trouble being called to serve our congregations all around the country.  Transgender ministers still face some challenges, but we are working on that too, through education.

My heart just breaks for what happened in the Methodist Church this week.  The God I believe in is one of an all-embracing love.  Love, in all of its dimensions and in all of its forms, is a sacred gift, a “reflection of grace,” and of God’s love for all of creation.

L’Chaim!

(My stats for the last week – down 1.6  pounds, drank maybe 5 gallons of water and I exercised for over 420 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 89 pounds.)

Family, Faith, and Breaking Bread #45

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I just returned from Texas where we attended the UURMaPA (Unitarian Universalist Retired Ministers and Partners) conference and spent a few extra days in Austin visiting the family of one of Anne’s Sicilian cousins.

What a trip it was!  It was only a week, but it was also a lifetime.  At the conference I told my life story, my odyssey, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Like everyone, I have seen some hard times. It was emotional and difficult to speak of some of them.  The response from my colleagues in ministry and their partners was truly heartwarming.  The conference theme was on Unitarian Universalism’s history on GLBTQ issues.  And although we have been much more progressive on those issues than any other faith tradition that I know of, there was still a lot of pain expressed by ministers who came out in the early days. I loved the conference, and there were times I cried.  Tears are good though.

After the conference, we went to Austin to visit family that we had never met in person.  Frankly, we were a little nervous about meeting them.  They are religious Christians who attend a large Protestant church.  Would they embrace us for who we are, or simply tolerate us in “love the sinner, hate the sin” mode?  We were very moved by the warm welcome we received from them.  We also learned that one of the teenagers is president of the GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at her school.  How awesome is that?  It reminded me of our visit to Sicily where we were also nervous, and then we discovered that one of the young adult cousins was “Mr. Gay Europe” and that the family embraced him whole-heartedly.  Damn, I love our Italian family, and I am thrilled to now know the ones who live in Texas.   This warm and embracing family is yet another gift I have received from my marriage to Anne.

I tried to stay on-track with my weight loss program while I was gone, but it was hard.  I definitely drank less water.  The conference food had lots of good choices, but exercising was pretty much out as the programming started early and went into the evening.  Austin was a home-made Italian pasta dinner and a similar lunch, complete with impossible-to-resist pastry desserts.  They also took us out for an awesome steak fajitas lunch.  I skipped the rice and beans, but likely overate on the rest.  The meat was so tender and flavorful! The hotel had an exercise room, though, and we walked a lot touring around.  We will see what the scale shows this week, but my funky home scale doesn’t have a particularly frightening number on it.  It is all OK.  Everything is just grand in fact.  It is also good to be home.

 

L’Chaim!

 

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Daily Bread #44

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I can get so dependent on technology.  My FitBit wasn’t syncing to my phone or to my computer one day this week and it really stressed me.  What’s the point of exercising if I don’t get “credit,” if the goal doesn’t turn green on my screens?  Luckily, I figured out how to fix it by searching help forums -basically I needed to turn my phone off and back on.  This technology stuff can be  frustrating, but I do love it when it works.  I also adjusted my calorie goals this as I had set them a little too low.  Even though I ate a bit more this last week, I still lost almost 3 pounds, which is maybe a little too much. I may have to get even more calories in so I can keep my loss rate healthy.  Eating enough is as important as not eating too much.  It is all about balance and health.

Last night we talked about body image which was very moving.  Our culture is so horrible that it can make us hate our bodies, particularly if we are young and female and don’t fit the “ideal” body type. I sang the group this song. “How Could Anyone” (Song here)

They did not seem to mind my less than stellar singing voice, but they got the message.  We are all beautiful.  I also told them that I loved them when I met them, and that I don’t love them more now because they are thinner.

Maybe it is because I gained most of my weight after my 40’s, or maybe because I am a lesbian in a very long term relationship, but I never really hated my “fat” body or was particularly ashamed of it.  It was just who I was, someone with an “Earth Mother Goddess” body.  If it wasn’t for the health issues, I would not have considered altering my body in any way.  I am also having some trouble adjusting to the thinner me. It is a little weird, and I feel somewhat less substantial, that it is just a little harder to “claim my space” in a crowd.  I will get used to it, and I am definitely appreciating the health benefits I have achieved through the weight loss.

Next week I am going to a conference for retired UU ministers and their partners.  It should be good, although I have a presentation to do so I am a bit nervous about that.  Ministers can be an intimidating audience.  And most retired ministers tend to have a lot more experience than I do, as I entered the ministry fairly late in life.  Once I get going, I know it will be fine; it always is.  The Spirit hasn’t let me down yet, so no worries.

The conference food is likely to be buffet style, so as long as there is protein and veggies I should be fine.  Finding time to exercise might be harder, as schedules tend to be packed.  I am also a bit nervous about the 4 extra days we are staying, as restaurant meals will be involved, and those can be harder to figure out.  But since I have been doing so well, it will actually be fine if I gain a bit that week.  So no stress!  Or at least not too much.

My life is getting better and I realize that is always how it has been for me.  The presentation I will give at the conference next week is on my life’s journey, my odyssey.  I wrote a poem about it this morning and will likely start my talk with it.  (the poem is here)

And, special for Valentines Day, the words I spoke to Anne at our legal wedding in July of 2013, (here)

(My stats for the last week – down 2.9  pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 540 minutes.  My cumulative weight loss so far is 87.4  pounds.)