A flock of turkeys flew up to our neighbor’s roof this morning. Sometimes one can look out at a distant horizon, and feel that they are all alone. But very nearby (gobble, gobble, look to your right) there just might be a whole flock of friends.
Much of this work is solitary. Counting calories, exercising, just staying on track. I look at my stats everyday.
My resting heart rate up, which is good as it was depressed below normal by the medication I no longer have to take. Figuring out how to adjust the various goals based upon my changing weight is, for me at least, necessary mental work. Doing the math, I realized that I needed to change my calorie burn goal. The old one was becoming impossible to meet as my resting metabolic rate was decreasing. Larger bodies use more calories just by being alive. The step goal is hard, with my knee crumbling, but I still increased my daily goal by 900 steps. The cortisone shot I will get tomorrow will help. Surgery will most likely be in October. I am getting ready to dance!
This week I moved from Obese Class II down to Obese Class I. I hate those charts, but will take every chance to celebrate that I can get. 30 more pounds and the charts will show me as merely overweight. I will see where to go from there once I get there. If it stays this easy, I made continue to lose. I might even become “normal”. Nah, not a chance on that, no matter how thin I might become.
We had 10 people in group last night, which felt like a crowd after all the skimpy turnouts. The facilitator asked us to rate on a scale of 1-10 what we felt was our most successful time in the program and also where we are now. The answers varied, with most feeling like they were more successful when on the full meal replacements. The meal replacements were easier, it is true; no thought was required. During that phase I was, as it says on the tee shirts my cohort gave me,”100% compliant. ” Last night, however, I said I feel more successful now, because I don’t have to be as regimented. I can have an occasional dessert – or a martini. It feels more real, and I enjoy eating actual food rather than only chemical constructions.
I did go on a rant last night about Nestle being an “evil corporation.” I mentioned the boycott that started in the 70’s because of their aggressive marketing of baby formula in poor countries, to the detriment of babies and their families. Information about that boycott is here.
Another article about Nestle is more varied, has some positives about them, and also includes the concerns about their bottled water business practices. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestlé
All that said, no judgment on those who still need the Nestle’s products to stay successful. We all do what we need to do. (I feel like my body needs meat, although my ethics tell me than being a vegetarian or vegan would be better for the world.) I am just glad I don’t need to use the Nestle’s stuff anymore. Most evenings I have either a Kind Bar (5 grams of protein) or a Pure Protein Bar (20 grams of protein), which are a sweet treat for me at 200 calories. I also carry them in my purse if I get caught hungry somewhere with limited food options available.
We each have to look toward our individual horizons, and figure out how we can get to where we want to go, but it is also wonderful to be part of a whole flock of friends! Let’s fly above the rooftops!
(My stats for the last week – down 2.4 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 745 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 112.7 pounds.)
I am not sure why, but this morning I had Tennyson’s poem, “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, running through my brain. (His poem is at the end of this post.) I must have memorized it sometime in school. When I weighed my self this morning, I was down a half of a pound from yesterday. Then this happened:
Half a pound, half a pound
Half a pound downward,
All in the valley of Life
Moved the six hundred
“Downward, the Weight Brigade
Head for the scale”, she said
Into the valley of Life
Went the six hundred
Cookies to the right of them,
French Fries to the left of them,
Ice Cream in front of them
That’s as far as I got, but it is more than enough isn’t it? Maybe I am missing those who have fallen by the wayside while some of us continue. I miss my buds who started this program with me more than a year ago. Maybe it is also because of the news, because there is a war on – a war against women, against people of color, against GLBT people, and against our very planet. We need courage, lots of courage. We need heart. Ours is but to do and live. We cannot let Glory fade.
Enough, it is am unseasonal rainy day here.
The Charge of the Light Brigade
I realize that I have never shared my weight loss graph. I love it and look at it often. It keeps me focused. There are a couple of upticks, but the trend line is really cool.
There were only 5 people in class tonight, the lowest I remember. No one was really new, but I had forgotten two of their names. I asked one of them afterward to remind me of their name. I work really hard at remembering names, and still forget sometimes. I do believe it is better to ask multiple times.
Our facilitator was being observed by her supervisor last night, so there we seven of us in the room, but only 6 talking. We did a lot of going around the circle so to answer various questions, so all the participants were able to speak a fair amount. We first talked about vegetables and we all said what our favorite was and a few of us said how we cooked it. (Roasted Brussels sprouts for me!) One man did not like anything but corn, and he thought corn was too high calorie. I think fresh corn is fine, although there is the GMO issue to worry about if it isn’t organic.
We then talked about sleep issues (which made me a little sleepy) and its various affects on weight loss. The biggest one to me was if you are tired, you might crave foods that will give you quick energy – like carbs and sugar. I have been tired sometimes from not enough sleep since starting this program, but coffee and a high protein breakfast seem to do the trick for me. We were also given an excellent handout that included descriptions of the various hormones that are affected by sleep. Here is an article I found that explains it in more detail, but briefly, Ghrelin tells your brain that you need to eat and if you are sleep deprived your body makes more. Leptin is a hormone that tells you that you are full, and lack of sleep reduces its level. Cortisol, the stress hormone, spikes with lack of sleep and tells your body to conserve energy by reducing your metabolism level. Insulin sensitivity also drops by over 30% if you are getting insufficient sleep. Get your zzz’s! Don’t you love science?
I had heard that as one gets older, less sleep is needed so I did some research on that too this morning. While it is true that the amount of sleep one needs does vary by age, 7+ hours is considered appropriate for all adults (See chart). Children and teenagers need more! Babies (like cats) sleep most of the day, but sadly for many parents, only a few hours at a time. I remember that when our babies finally slept for 5 hours in a row, it felt like a miracle. Talk about sleep deprivation!
We should all love science, but math is my real favorite!
The Lose It app was driving me nuts this week because there were a few days when I couldn’t get my usual exercise in. Without the “calorie bonus” for exercise I couldn’t stay on the budget it was showing, which was 1183. I went into the app goals section and changed my goal from two pounds loss per week to 1 1/2 and my calorie budget went up to 1417. It also showed an alert that less that 1200 calories per day was too little for women per the NIH. My body knew that! (so smart really) I just felt like I had to eat at least 1250 and so went over some days. And I hate those red marks and I want everything in the green zone on all my apps! Changing the goal should give me a steady green, at least most of the time. I can still go under when I am exercising and getting the bonus. Today I ate 1361, but had a 492 calorie bonus for exercise. That gave me a net of 869, which looks like a weirdly low number, but it feels OK, that my body got what it needed. A lot of this is math. Have I mentioned I won a slide rule in a math contest when I was in high school? I still have it somewhere.
My heart rate is going up some now that I am no longer on a beta blocker. It was slower than normal when my doctor took me off that med. All is well it seems.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and our kids took us out to dinner.
This other picture is from two years ago.
I look pretty different, but the important thing is that I feel so much better!
(My stats for the last week – down 2.4 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 605 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 110.3 pounds.)
There were twin fawns at the retreat center. They had a delightful energy., as they pranced along with their watchful mom. I can’t say I rested well for the 3 days and two night we were there; the programing was full and the beds not as comfortable as at home. Still, it did my spirit good to have some time for prayer and reflection and to connect with my minister colleagues. Some of whom inspire me, some who challenge me, and some who help me laugh. Tender and holy is the work we do together. I don’t do ministry for money anymore (it was never for the money), but I am still a minister. It is a life, not just a job.
It was also fun talking about this journey with people I had not seen since in awhile. They definitely noticed the changes in me and were happy for the improvements in my health. I was hardly a “prancing fawn,” but it was clear I felt a lot better than the last time they had seen me.
The center did not have an exercise room, so no stationary bike time on those days, although I did get in more steps than usual. I ate pretty well, with only one small 1/4 slice of carrot cake despite the fact that there were tempting desserts at every meal. The food is all locally sourced and organic, so there were lots of veggies with chicken and eggs for protein. One lunch was more challenging as only vegetable proteins and cheese was available, both of which have much higher fat or carbs and therefore calories per gram of protein. It would be very hard to be a vegetarian and sucessful in this program.
Because of the retreat, I did not attend the weekly “lifestyles” meeting, so no official “weigh-in” this week. My home scale shows I am still on track, but I will still stick with only the official numbers in my stats below.
And because I wasn’t there, I asked my friend, Lindsay Lacker McKenzie, if I could share what she posted about the meeting. She said yes! I have used initials for the other names. I hope others in my group will want to do “guest blogs” from time to time. There is so much wisdom in this group of people and we all have different experiences, challenges, and perspectives. Here is her post:
“Slim group tonight…we started with 4, and then 2 more showed up. It’s not a bad thing to have variations on group density, I think it really changes the dynamic and allows for different interactions and conversations. Tonight we discussed Seasonal Foods and favorite recipes. The big winner for me was S sharing a ZERO calorie salad dressing: Walden Farms(and yes I went to Safeway right after and found some!)and C mentioned a greek yogurt called Two Good…only 2 g’s of sugar and 80 calories(I picked up some of that as well!). Definitely a lighter conversation that left me a bit hungry at the end but more importantly my head is still in the game. My brain can get lazy so quickly and I find it making every excuse why NOT to go to these meetings…I didn’t track, I didn’t measure, I didn’t stay on plan, SMART goals? What SMART goals? These are exactly the reasons which, at very least, I need to keep going to the meetings. It’s like every Wednesday is Groundhog Day and I get to do it all over! We went to an annual camping event this past weekend which at this event last year I was in the first week of the program so was mixing soups and shakes in our VW Bus all weekend…and yes it’s a party event so last year I just went to bed early feeling sorry for myself. Not this year! Party girl was back in full force but on a plan! I was very mindful of my food choices…I didn’t track but interesting how my brain calculates calories now. NSV moment when we got the annual event t-shirt and last year I was in a men’s XXL and this year rocked a women’s L(which still had room). I hope all of you are having a great week and not giving up! Hope to see everyone next week.”
(My stats for the last week – down ? pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 655 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is more than 107.9 pounds.)
I will be on retreat next week with my UU minister colleagues. Above is a picture from last fall’s retreat. I am looking forward to it. I am not worried about the food, which is served buffet style, but this retreat center has healthy options available. As long as I avoid their yummy desserts, any heavy carbs, and watch my portions, I will be fine. Exercise will be more of an issue, but the retreat is only two nights, so I can make it up the rest of the week.
There were a lot more people at group tonight. I did not count, but I would guess close to 15. It made for a much better discussion. I asked if we could go around the room to check in which meant everyone talked at least some. Maybe we would have done that anyway if I hadn’t said anything, but I am reminded of the joke I saw (and shared) this week on Facebook. What’s the difference between “aggressive” and “assertive”? The answer = “Gender.” I could say that I am working on being assertive, but that would be a lie. It is how I am and have been for a long time. I am simply shameless when I think something needs to happen and I am worried it might not.
We spoke of successes and challenges. It was clear that most of those who are able to maintain their weight (or continue to lose) are careful to log everything they eat, and count all the calories. It is easy to get “food amnesia” if you aren’t recording what you eat. I have a tendency to underestimate calories and portions, so to compensate, I try to overestimate at least half the time. It is working for me, and this week I had a largish weight loss of almost 5 pounds. That is becoming a pattern for me, a couple of weeks of staying roughly the same, followed by a relatively large loss. My average loss is holding steady at 2 pounds per week.
This week I reached the weight goal the knee surgeon had set for me, so I emailed him to schedule my knee replacement. He had the nerve to be on vacation! No worries, I am looking at the fall anyway.
In group, we also talked about the need to get enough sleep. I stay up fairly late, but being retired I rarely need to set an alarm. The problem is that when I need to use the bathroom in the night or early morning, it can be hard to get back to sleep. After class, a friend suggested using a nightlight so I don’t turn on the bright bathroom lights which wake me up more. A good idea that I am trying. Last night I slept 7 1/2 hours and did not get up at all.
(My stats for the last week – down 4.8 pounds, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 680 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 107.9 pounds.
It has been a full year since I started this journey, so it was time for another before/after pic.
In this year, I have turned into an exercise nut, lost over 100 pounds, ditched my C-Pap machine, and ALL my prescription meds. My body is in good shape except for my knees, but surgery should fix them before too long. I’d like to lose another 40 pounds, which feels totally doable at this point, and I certainly don’t want to gain any weight back. The health benefits I have achieved have been simply too miraculous. I saw my regular doctor this week, for an unrelated minor issue, and she was amazed with the changes she could literally see. She said that my motivation and dedication has been impressive. So nice to have a doctor express such a positive message rather than what was before primarily concern.
There were 9 of us tonight at the meeting, and at the end, when one person had not spoken at all, I asked him if he had anything to say, He did! As a program participant and not a facilitator, I don’t have to be at all tentative. The group dynamic is so important and me being the class clown sometimes seems to help when the discussion is lagging. Plus, I just can’t help myself. I loved it that after the meeting someone I don’t know that well reached out for a spontaneous hug.
A couple of us had reached out to some our original cohort members who had not attended for awhile. One of them came! It was so great to see her! She promised to come next week too.
We talked some more about “drifting” and someone came up with a nautical image of being at sea without a rudder. This equates to being “off plan” and not having a quick and easy way to reset your direction to where you want to go. The danger of not having a rudder is that you might drift into the open sea and never reach land.
What being off or on plan varies by individual. Some can have a meal or a day when they chose to eat less sensibly, and the next meal or day, they are back on course. Kind of like stopping and dropping anchor to do some snorkeling and look at all the pretty fish. For others they need to stay always on board, with their hands on the wheel.
This is so much harder for people with young children or with adult family members who aren’t particularly supportive. It doesn’t bother me when Anne eats her sweets or chips, but some people may need to ask their family members to not eat ice cream right in front of them. It can also be harder with extended family members, particularly if they are older. Neither Anne of I have any surviving parents or siblings, which is not exactly an advantage in the larger scheme of things, but it does make things easier to be the “respected elders.” I can tell my adult children and nieces and nephews what I need them to do to help me with this program and they (mostly) listen and do what I say. We are going out to dinner tonight with one of our sons. I will ask both him and my wife not to order any appetizers (which are really hard for me in restaurants) and I am completely confident that they will comply.
Family members NEED to be supportive if they want us to be healthy and live longer. IT is one important way they tell us that they love us. I DID suggest last night that some people might want to play the guilt card fairly heavily in order to bring their family members in-line. “What, you want me to die? You are literally killing me! Get that damn ice cream OUT of the house!”
We also talked about “de-cluttering” and how messy apartments or houses or kitchens with no counter space, refrigerators and freezers stuffed with things that aren’t so great for us to eat, can all increase our stress levels and make staying on course much harder. Luckily, I have Anne who is a compulsive neat-nik. Everyone needs a wife like her I think.
I was up a tad this week, (.6 of a pound) which was due not so much to what I did this last week, but what I did not do in the last couple of days. It may be TMI, but more prunes will be in my food plan this coming week.
Go boldly where others have gone before. Mind your rudder, steer that ship. Land Ahoy!
(My stats for the last week – up .6 pound, drank at least 7 gallons of water and exercised for over 620 minutes. My cumulative weight loss so far is 103.1 pounds.)
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 too 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.
(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.)
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!
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
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?
(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.)
One of the motivational tools Kaiser uses in the program is the “Passport.”
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………………………………………………………….
and the winner is….
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!
(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.)
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.
(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.)