A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Weight Loss Wednesday: Dealing with Sabotaging Thoughts

“The scale isn’t moving anyway so what does it matter what I eat for dinner.”

“Darrell misses cheesy food. Why am I trying to force him to eat like I do?”

“I can start over tomorrow.”

Know what these are? These are sabotaging thoughts. Specifically, these are sabotaging thoughts I’ve had over the last 48 hours. I’m not the only one with this kind of internal monologue, I know. Hands raised?

One of my favorite features of the Beck diet book is the way it makes you pro-actively consider those thoughts and how you’ll handle them. Each chapter, each habit change, includes discussion of the kinds of thoughts you might have to throw you off track and ways to counter them.Those countering strategies have some common themes:

– Re-read your why list. Those things are important.

You’re worth it. Don’t let yourself worry too much about how your changes will negatively impact those around you. After all, if those changes are leading to a happier, healthier you, it’s more than worth the temporary inconvenience.

Good choices have value, even when the scale is slow to catch up. Remember that you can control the inputs, not the output and every one of those good inputs is a better choice you’ve made for your body. Each one counts.

– We’re not unique in our sabotaging thoughts, which means we aren’t alone. The number of times I would be reading and realize that the sample “sabotaging thought” was EXACTLY what I’d been thinking is amazing. That doesn’t mean that I’m not a special flower (because of course I’m special, darn it!) but what it does mean that we are never alone in these struggles.

Pro-actively considering how you’re going to handle those thoughts when they arise, whether it’s dealing with a bad weigh in or a slip in your food plan or the donuts that show up at 3 pm, makes it easier to stay on the path you’ve chosen. Thinking through those strategies before you actually encounter them “in the wild” counts as practice, mental practice at least, and we all know that practice makes perfect.

What are your most common sabotaging thoughts? Have you ever actually written them out and thought pro-actively about how you’d counter them?



Re-evaluating my “Why”

Working through the Beck Diet book again, I decided to make a new list of “Reasons to Lose” rather than keep working with my original list. My perspective may be a little different now than it was years ago, before I’d ever successfully lost weight.

2017 List:

1) To protect my health (My heart, my blood pressure, my joints)

2) To take better care of my family (When I eat better, they eat better)

3) To remind myself I’m worth it (It’s okay to invest this effort in myself among all of the other things I do)

4) To fit in my favorite clothes again (I’d finally settled into my lower weight enough to build a wardrobe I was loving!)

5) To stop feeling that nagging sense of failure (about this at least)

While I call this my “Reasons to Lose” here, this list is more about my health and my health habits more than my size (well, except for #4). Getting back to a smaller size would be nice, but the most important thing is to rein in all of those times I’m letting the fact that I’m stressed lead to food choices I’ll regret. Exhibit A) The pancakes I ordered last night because I was stressed about work. It’s wasn’t a rationally chosen indulgence – it was a stress-induced carb fest.
Essential book of life

I’ve written my list in my “book” – I’m in this book every day to keep track of notes and to do lists. This morning, I read my list before I started my day. I’ll read it again in a little while to remind me why I don’t need the pastries I’m going to pass at the coffee shop on the way to my 1 o’clock meeting.

The first time around, I kept my list on my phone so I could always see it and it really helped. I haven’t looked at my original “reasons why” list in a while. First on that list? Diabetes. Yikes. Can’t believe I forgot that when I was listing things for my health! I’m always going to be at high risk for diabetes thanks to my family history and personal history of gestational diabetes. Add my risk of high blood pressure and the lupus (and lupus meds!) on top of that and my poor kidneys would probably appreciate it if I could avoid diabetes.

More energy was on that list – and something I definitely need more of now! There were a couple of clothes related things (it’s self care, right?) and my favorite:

“Be light enough for my husband to carry me like Rhett Butler.”

With Darrell’s back, that’s never going to happen no matter how small I get. Ah well. 🙂

Looking at the two lists, I can’t help but notice that my old list was a lot more optimistic in tone. I’m a little sad that #3 and #5 are on my current list, but I’m being honest with myself. Hopefully when I re-evaluate this list with a few months of healthy habits behind me, that nagging sense of failure will be gone and I’ll have NO DOUBT I’m worth. Because I am.

Do you have a “why” list when you try to change your lifestyle?


Trying out a 3-day “cleanse” from Cooking Light

You guys know I’m not into the kind of cleanses or detoxes where I drink shakes or completely avoid certain foods or only eat cabbage soup or anything like that, but I did try a “detox” recently: the 3 day detox from the December 2016 edition of Cooking Light (recipes here). It isn’t so much of a detox (thanks liver & kidneys for doing that every day!) as it is a diet reset to get healthy foods back in focus. After the holidays, the marathon and 4 days on a cruise ship, this was just what we needed!

– I loved that the planning was taken out of our hands. I didn’t have to think about what groceries to buy when we were still in that post-vacation, get back to work fugue state or planning a meal calendar. It was already done for us, which made it much easier to get back on track during the chaos of laundry, unpacking and peeling off our 5 year old who’d missed us more than he let on.

– Because the planning was done, we weren’t really making any choices which meant we weren’t making bad choices. Definite win!

– The focus was really just on nutritionally “good” foods, nothing exotic or woo-woo. Nothing was eliminated or avoided. We just ate lots of veggies and lean proteins, with some healthy whole grains and fruits thrown in.

Great use of leftovers! One of my favorite things about this was how thoughtfully it was designed so that you used the leftovers in the subsequent days. Any time my prep work does double duty for future meals, it’s a win! I’m not great at this level of planning in my usual cooking, but this exercise has got me thinking more proactively about that in my meal planning now. In this menu, leftover pork was used in salad on a later day and leftover sweet potatoes in a hash. Simple but smart!

Great salad with leftovers
Three days was the ideal length of time: Long enough to get us on the right track, not so long that we chafed at the restrictions or had trouble fitting in our schedule.

 – The recipes were delicious! I’ve kept the lunch quinoa toss in my rotation (and am planning it for next week!) and gained a new appreciation for how much a little lemon can jazz up dinner. Darrell still talks about how great the roasted sweet potatoes were, which is a simple thing but one we’d stopped doing for some reason.  He also really liked the spaghetti squash-shrimp recipe, even though he’s generally very anti-spaghetti squash. One note is that I usually doubled the amount of the protein, so that Darrell didn’t complain about the amount of food.

Tuna quinoa toss

I think I’m going to adopt this approach as a routine part of our post-vacation planning from now on, to have a path to get us back to normal healthy eating and keep the vacation indulgences from creeping into every day. There are a few other menus like this on Cooking Light, so I’ll have several options to choose from.

Have you tried any similar “cleanse menus”? Love it or hate it? How long could you follow something like this?


Check out a couple of similar menus from Cooking Light here:



Self image and weight loss

Last week, I got my annual survey from the National Weight Control Registry. As a brief recap, the National Weight Control Registry is a national database of thousands of people who have lost a significant amount of weight and maintained that weight loss for at least a year (more about it here).
Survey title
It was an enlightening process to answer these questions and be reminded of exactly why I’ve regained weight after maintaining successfully for the first couple of years. My answers to questions about how often I track, how often I weigh in and how often I eat “sometimes” food show that I’ve slipped from prior consistency with good, healthy habits. When I forced myself to honestly answer these questions, I had to confront the reality that I’m responsible for these extra 30 pounds, not some mysterious outside force. It was a wake up call for sure.

Other than checking in with my weight and my habits, this survey included several questions about self image. It was interesting to answer these now and realize how much stronger my sense of self is now than it was before I lost weight. Importantly, even though I’m not pleased with my weight regain, it hasn’t shaken my self-image as much as being obese did before I lost weight.

My weight doesn’t affect how I feel in terms of competence, attractiveness, anxiety or value now as much as it did before. If I’m honest, even when I’d first reached my goal weight, I still felt a lot like my sense of self was tied to my weight. It turns out a HUGE success of maintenance is that I’ve managed to disconnect my sense of value from the number on the scale. I feel really good about that. It’s been a gradual, but steady change, and I’m so grateful for it. I need to do some thinking about exactly how that happened, so that I can be sure to reinforce those thought processes.

My favorite question? This one:
Im hot
You know why I loved this? My immediate mental response: I rock. Anyone would be LUCKY to have me. My husband agrees.

Do you let your weight affect your sense of self-worth? How do you shift that?



Why should I care about waist circumference?

Recently I wrote about how I was going to focus on things other than my weight during my training plan because I didn’t want to restrict my food and underfuel. I’d like to avoid going too far in the overfueling direction, so I’m going watch things like how my clothes fit, body fat and measurements.  A commenter pointed out that waist circumference is really the only thing you need to measure and I thought it would be good to talk about why that might be true.

imageWe’ve talked in the past about the limits of BMI (more here and a great recent online article here). Why would we expect waist circumference to be any better?

Waist circumference has been shown to provide information about risks of obesity-related disease above and beyond that provided by BMI alone. Specifically, it is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and triglyceride abnormalities, high blood pressure, heart disease and overall mortality. This is particularly true in patients in the overweight to obese range, with BMI less than 35. It helps us answer the question of “overweight but healthy” people like me, with BMI in the 26-27 range but no apparent health problems and a healthy lifestyle.

Why might waist circumference be a better measure of risk? It has to do with where you have your body fat. While overall obesity is associated with an increased risk things of like heart disease, fat that we carry around our abdomen is particularly high risk. Other advantages of waist circumference are practical. In some patients, we can’t measure height, which is a key part of the BMI formula. Even when we can measure height, we often don’t. Most clinics I’ve been to just ask how tall I am and my self report could skew my BMI numbers.

So where do you measure?

Graphic of Measuring Tape Position for Waist Circumference

This graphic is from the NIH (here), showing where you should actually put the measuring tape. Stand up straight and ideally, measure first thing in the morning before you eat or drink so you’re not measuring breakfast. Don’t suck in, no matter how tempted you may be.

I have yet to have my waist circumference measured at a doctor’s office, but that day may be coming. In the meantime, it’s an easy and an important thing to measure at home with my handy dandy measuring tape. If you want to read more about the science behind waist circumference, check out this extensive review from the WHO.

Do you measure your waist circumference? Have you ever had it checked at a doctor’s office?


1 Comment »

Tracking your “weight” without a scale

We’ve talked about how I’m trying to weigh in less often so that I can focus on “fuel” rather than weight loss during training for my first marathon. So far (all of 2.5 days in!) that’s going well, but if I’m not weighing in as often, how do I tell if I’m fueling a little too much and ending up in the far-too-common scenario of marathoners who gain weight during training?

Some weight gain, of course, could come from glycogen stores holding onto water (a good thing for long distance) and muscle mass (a good thing) but far too often it comes from over-rewarding ourselves or even eating too much of healthy foods.

Here are the strategies I’m going to try:

Functional measures: I’m going to use my training guide to keep track of things like my average mile time and how easy things feel. If those things are improving, that’s definitely a sign that my fueling and my training are going well!

Selfies: Oy, taking full length photos can be painful. However, sometimes you see things in pictures when you look over time that you don’t notice in your day to glimpses of yourself. You can see muscle definition and shape changes that reflect the hard work you’re putting in, even when the scale doesn’t show it. As a demonstration of the supreme trust you can build with “imaginary” online friends, my online support group has a thread of daily selfies that we’re using to track progress over the next few months. I’m curious to see how those photos change over the next few months!

A picture can say a thousand words, for sure

A picture can say a thousand words, for sure

Measurements: Hopefully, this weekend I’ll have Darrell help me do some measurements to see how inches change. Another measure of this would be how your clothes fit – and now that many of my clothes are tight or don’t really fit at all, I’ll be able to tell progress in that direction (good or bad!) for sure.

Body fat percentage: I have a body fat analyzer that I can use as well, to see how things move up or down as I hopefully increase some muscle and lose some fluff.

Hopefully these things will help me track my progress without stepping on the scale so often during training. I just have such a strong association between the scale and “dieting” that I don’t want to let that mess with my head when my nutritional goals should be focused on the marathon. I have a feeling that going cold turkey may be more successful in that regard than just trying to check in periodically. The scale tends to suck me in.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

It can be surprisingly hard to make peace with the scale.

How do you keep track of your “weight” without really stepping on the scale?


Recovering from those less-than-perfect food days

We’ve all had them, right? Days where we made some food choices that weren’t “on plan” or ideal. It happens to everyone and being able to recover from these days is key if you’re going to be successful maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the long term.

I will confess that I haven’t been great about this in the last 6 months or so, which is where most of this extra weight has come from. I’d have a “bad” day where I found myself eating a ton of french fries or cookies or some other less-than-nutritious food and feel like a failure, which then led to days of crappy eating. Does it make sense? No, of course not. Am I the only one who has fallen into that trap? Nope. I’m pretty sure some of you have as well.

I found myself in this position again at the beginning of this trip to Montana. Like I mentioned Monday, we had a really delayed travel day, leading to lots of fatigue and airport food. I actually did reasonably well with my eating all day Sunday until Sunday night, when I found myself back in my hotel room, exhausted and hungry because I hadn’t eaten much dinner. It wasn’t the best – the food here is hit or miss other than breakfast. I got back to my room, ordered room service and proceeded to eat a grilled cheese sandwich with tater tots. Lots of tater tots. They were just salty enough and delicious. Could I have gotten salad if I were hungry? Yes, but that wasn’t what looked good, so I made the less than healthy choice. With my prior work trips this spring, I would have gone to sleep feeling disgusted with myself, woken up Monday morning feeling like a failure and proceeded to eat ALL THE FRENCH FRIES all week. For work travel, apparently french fries are my weakness.

This time around, I didn’t do that. I woke up Monday, did some body weight strength training and then went to breakfast where I made healthy choices.
Recovery breakfast

There were several trays of yummy looking pastries and that part of me that has fallen down the path of “you’ve already eaten crap, might as well keep eating crap” in the past was honestly tempted again. I’m proud of myself for resisting that urge and going with fruit, oatmeal and a hard boiled egg. I’ve had that for breakfast every day this week and every time, I’ve mentally applauded myself. Cheer yourself on when you make even the smallest good choices to get back on track. Positive self talk is crucial for countering that “I’ve already failed” voice.

I’ve made activity a priority because I know that I make healthier choices all day when I’ve exercised throughout the day. Reminding myself what my body can do reminds me that I’ve made huge changes in my lifestyle. I can be healthy. Bonus: when I’m out hiking, I’m not sitting in my hotel room, hiding from the forced socialization of these “networking” conferences while I watch the Food Network and eat. And eat. And eat. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person who feeds their social anxiety – now I just try to walk those nerves off instead of smothering them with calories. Still allows me to hide from small talk!

I prepare for the highest risk times. For me, that’s at night when I’m tired from a long day and the vending machine or room service menu beckon. I bought a bag of grapes from the little grocery store here at the resort so I have something sweet waiting for me back in the room at night. Just a handful is enough to take the edge off.
A better choice when craving something sweet

Any time you don’t have complete control of your food, of course you’re going to be a little more at risk for bad choices or weight gain. What we can control, however, is how we feel about our choices. Do the best you can and be kind to yourself. Beating yourself isn’t going to make anything any better. (Can you tell I’ve been doing lots of positive self talk?)

I have to say, I feel really good about this week so far. Sure, Sunday wasn’t great and I’m not eating my normal diet. However, I’m making reasonably good choices and getting in tons of activity, so I’m happy with how I’ve done. I feel like I’m out of the “I’ve slipped, time to binge” danger zone. Knock on wood!

How do you get back on track after you’ve had a slip?


Leave a comment »

Shifting nutritional goals for marathon training

For the last couple of months, I’ve been tracking and choosing foods based on getting my weight down a bit before marathon training. Now that I’m less than two weeks out from marathon training, it’s time to shift my focus a bit. For such a big new running goal, my focus needs to be on fueling performance rather than weight loss.

I’ll be honest – this is a tough mental shift for me. I’m not happy with where my weight is. I feel like the last two months of diligent tracking, good choices and frankly the “best” vacation eating I’ve ever done, have done zip for my weight which is incredibly frustrating. I’m not sure if it is age, something about the lupus, just a phase or my thyroid has gone out of whack (getting it checked as thyroid dysfunction commonly comes along with lupus) but the whole calorie in-calorie out balance is not working for me this summer. For a control freak who felt like I had a handle on losing weight thanks to my prior success, this is unsettling to say the least. To know I have honestly been eating good foods in good amounts and continue to gain is incredibly frustrating.

Looking on the bright side: This phase of getting my eating in shape again has health benefits beyond the scale, undoubtedly. (Thanks to my fabulous husband for reminding me of that!) It’s also got me aware of the little bites and treats that were sneaking into my day during my winter/spring training earlier this year. While weight loss isn’t my goal in marathon training, avoiding that “reward” mentality of indulging in too many treats when long runs ramp up will go a long way toward minimizing unnecessary weight gain during training.

Marathon training will be an important time to focus on really fueling my athletic endeavors (ha! I’m an athlete!) with my food and honestly, I’ve never really approached food that way consistently. When I was training for the back to back races I did for the Star Wars races, I thought about refueling on the weekend but didn’t really think about my weekday eating as fueling my workouts. Marathons are a whole different beast and the back to back half marathon training in the first half of my training cycle is also a serious undertaking. I need to think about food as fuel every day. I’m actually sort of hopeful that this shift in thinking (if I can get there!) will help with my food perspectives overall, not just during training.

With less than two weeks to go until training, I’ve already started this shift.

  • I switched to a whole grain toast for my usual breakfast instead of my usual light bread (which I’ll be honest – who knows what that really is: low calorie but not a lot of health virtues).
  • I also switched from egg whites to actual eggs.

Minor tweaks

  • My lunches have become more protein and veggie based (mixed bowls of goodies mostly) than the usual deli meat on light bread that I bring.
  • My family dinners (whether they realize it or not) have also shifted a bit to focus on a balance of veggies, whole grains and lean proteins with more of a nutrient than calorie focus. Last night, we had a steak salad with mixed greens, lean grilled steak, grilled bell peppers and feta cheese topped with an A1 vinaigrette modified from this recipe (I used 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, 1/4 cup A1 and a bit of red wine vinegar that I didn’t measure, leaving out the honey because Darrell doesn’t like it and swapping sour cream for greek yogurt to up the protein a bit)

Steak saladThis is seriously the first salad I’ve ever given Darrell for dinner that he raved about and asked to include in the regular rotation!

I’ve also carried on that water habit I established on vacation, where I set a goal of drinking no soda, into my daily life now. Since we’ve gotten home, with the exception of one beer and Diet Coke on Wednesday nights at Village Inn, I’ve been a water and coffee girl. Bonus: more water than coffee! Definitely an improvement for this working mama.

I’m not sure what to do about weighing in. My clothes are honestly all uncomfortable enough now that I’ll definitely be able to tell any changes good or bad with those, so I think I may stay off the scale for a while. That’s a scary thought, but if my focus is truly on good nutrition and good training, I think that might be the best so I don’t a) get depressed and chuck healthy eating all together if I continue this weird period of gaining and/or b) start underfueling my training in an effort to lose weight. A marathon is a big, once in a lifetime goal. It deserves my best effort in all respects.

I am still tracking, because I think that is going to help keep me honest. If I find myself struggling with obsessing over the calories in My Fitness Pal, I’ll switch to tracking on paper instead. I’m also going to start checking my food with the “Diet Quality Score” from Racing Weight just to give myself a little reinforcement that I’m doing the right things.

How do you handle the shift from eating for weight loss to eating for performance? In an ideal world, I suppose that wouldn’t really be much a shift in eating – and for me it really isn’t going to be in terms of actual food – but it is a HUGE shift in mindset for me, it turns out.


Celebrating 3 years of Maintenance

This week, I’m celebrating three years of (relative) maintenance since losing over 100 pounds. I’ve learned a lot in this time.

I’ve learned that I’m a success, even if I’ve regained 20 pounds. I’m still beating the odds, which is terrifying and empowering all at once.

I’ve learned that this is a never ending process for me, literally, and I’ve got to be honest with myself about that or I’ll never succeed. I can’t pretend that there’s a “finish line” or an “after,” just a constantly improving “in progress.” Loving that “in progress” is the real success and I’ve definitely had a backslide in that self-love this year.

I need to remind myself more often of how far I've come.

I need to remind myself more often of how far I’ve come.

I’ve learned that reading articles in which people say that significant and lasting weight loss is impossible or impossible without surgery REALLY makes me angry and binge-y. Don’t tell me I’m fighting an impossible fight.

I’ve learned that I can’t keep homemade cookies in the house. Kryptonite I tell you. 🙂


I’ve learned that health is a bigger motivator than pants size, but pants size helps too. Yes, I’m shallow.

I’ve learned that this is hard, so hard, but worth it. My health is worth my time and energy and changing the way I move and the way I eat is so important for my health, no matter what is going on with my weight.

I’ve learned that I’m more sensitive to the way body feels now. I felt the last five pounds I gained before I buckled down earlier this month far more acutely than I ever felt such a “small” gain when I was heavier. That’s a good thing, but also a bad thing for my mental state. Self-love doesn’t come automatically with weight loss.

I’ve learned that the world is full of fantastic people to help you and cheer you along the way. Finding that tribe can help so much in drowning all of the negativity that’s out there (and inside here) when it comes to weight and body image and lifestyle choices. Thanks to all of you for being my tribe and keeping me in the fight for the last three years. I started blogging as I entered maintenance because I wanted the accountability writing provides and because I know that I myself was desperately looking for stories like mine when I needed to lose 100 plus pounds. I didn’t know how wonderful and motivating the support I’d find here would be. Thanks to all of you for getting me to this point! Here’s to another year of maintenance!

Losing weight a second time

It’s been an interesting week in my weight loss world. To say I’ve been frustrated at the stall in the scale despite the fact that I know I’m eating far fewer calories and much healthier calories than I was a month ago is a huge UNDERSTATEMENT. However, I’m impressed with how much better I’m handling it overall than I would have in the past. In the past, I would have given up by now. Eating well for a month without a change in the scale to show for it? Screw this. Might as well go back to eating fries. (I’m not the only one, right?) In fairness, I’d lost 5 pounds over 3 weeks before that fall where I broke my finger. For some reason I still don’t understand, I jumped up 4 pounds after that fall and those pounds haven’t gone away like I would have expected if they were just swelling from my injuries. This is some odd mix of injury and hormones, I suspect. 
TemptationKnock on wood – still resisting these guys!

This time I have more confidence that I will eventually lose the weight despite what the scale says today. The first time, I was unsure if it would really work. Anybody else have that little voice that says “Weight loss works for other people, but you know it’ll never work for you. You’re stuck here.” That voice is lying. The same thing doesn’t work for everyone, but something will work. This time, I know I’m capable of losing weight and I know that ups and downs and plateaus are part of it. I even know that I’m capable of maintaining it – I maintained within 5-10 pounds for over 2 years before this period of regain. Knowing that this is an attainable feat, that this is possible, makes me a little more patient. It also makes me a little quicker to re-evaluate what I’m really doing, where the gain really comes from, when things aren’t going well.

Since recommitting, I’ve noticed how often I reach for snacks and extra bites. Turns out, if I make myself write those bites down, I’m not nearly as hungry as I thought I was. I definitely snack out of habit. I feel like I’m doing a better job of waking up to that and watching that this time than I did the first time I lost weight. Last time, I’d tell myself that the fact that I ate Oliver’s leftover PB&J was okay because it was only part of the sandwich and I’d skipped fries at lunch. This time, I know that those calories count too.

This time, I’m really working to learn more about myself and my patterns. This is an on-going process and I’m continually going to be tweaking it. Right now, with little progress on the scale despite the improvement in my calorie intake and the quality of food, I’ve found myself frustrated and teetering on the edge of binge-territory more often than I have in ages. I’m confident enough in my ability to eventually lose this weight and cognizant enough of the dangerous territory I’m in binge-wise at the moment to accept the scale for what it is and not try to drop my calorie intake (currently 1600-1700 calories a day) or restrict any particular foods because restriction is going to tip me over into a binge. I’ll hang at this calorie level until my weight starts to drop (which I suspect it will) or until I feel on more even keel from a binge perspective and better able to re-evaluate my calorie level. I didn’t pay as much attention to how I was doing mentally the first time around and would have definitely let this kind of stalling lead me to do something drastic.

I am pleasantly surprised by how little time I’m spend dwelling on a sense of failure from re-gaining. As a textbook type-A, overachiever smart kid, failure is a HUGE trigger for me. It isn’t failure. It’s just life. We pick up, we learn, we adjust. The fact that I realize that has put a whole different spin on losing weight a second time.

Have you had to lose weight more than once? Did you find the process any different the second (or third or fourth) time around?