A Little More Each Day

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

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:

http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/3-day-cleanse/get-healthy
http://www.cookinglight.com/healthy-living/weight-loss/meal-plan-for-weight-loss#

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Tuesdays on the Run: Looking back to the beginning of blogging

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is looking back at the beginning our blogging. Coincidentally enough, my first blog post was titled “A beginning.” Not the most creative title but definitely a beginning to something that has been bigger and better than I expected! Thanks as always to Marcia, Patty and Erika for hosting our link up.

ToTR logo

I started this blog in August 2013 after I’d reached my goal weight and as I set out to tackle the big new goal of running my first half marathon. I thought the blog would serve as a kind of diary, both for purposes of capturing my own thoughts and memories of my training and my attempt at weight maintenance and as a sort of accountability for both of those things.

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.

Looking back now, it’s fun to see how excited I was about some of those early wins in running, when I’d surprise myself by how far and how fast I could go. It’s nice to reread those now, when I feel so slow and when double digit runs have become old hat. I’ve definitely lost some of that beginner’s joie de vivre.

10K Finish Line 9.22.13Wow was I pink at that first 10K!

I also did a lot more talking about weight maintenance back then. I’ve backed off from that a lot lately and not coincidentally, have not been so successful in weight maintenance for the last six months. Am I writing about it less because I’m backsliding or am I backsliding because I’m not writing and reflecting as consciously on it? Interesting question.

I remember at the beginning of blogging, I occasionally got a little caught up in the idea that I should be doing “more” – writing more, getting sponsored posts and getting more readers, more social media presence, etc. The problem was that I had no real interest in doing the things that get you those things. More power to the people who do! At some point, I settled into happily doing my thing in my little space, regardless of followers or commenters or what have you. It was freeing to let that nagging sense that “I should be doing more” go and just let the blog be for me. 🙂

I’ve debated a lot about blogging lately, as I get busier and busier. I write less, but still write because it’s an important part of my space to reflect and to feel accountable for my training. I also love the community we’ve built, with other blogger friends, both virtual and in real life. Any time I read a comment from someone about how something I’ve said has helped them, it makes me beam. I love how we all support each other and my invisible army (aka all of you!) are with me every time I tackle something tough.

I thinking my blog has changed along with my relationship with my weight maintenance and with running, just like any other relationship changes. Like any love story, the spark of newness that jolts so much of early conversation settles into a comfort and steadiness, no matter the highs and lows. I like that. I like knowing that you guys, this space and my commitment to myself are all always here for me. Thanks so much for that!

I know we’ve got a lot going on tonight in this little country of ours. I hope whatever happens, things stay peaceful and that it happens soon enough that I can go to sleep early enough to run in the morning! Stay safe tonight and be at peace!

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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.
Selfconfidence

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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

 

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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. 🙂

image

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!
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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?

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Why no nighttime snacks?

Darrell asked me this week why I’d set “no nighttime snacks” as one of my goals. We always had our evening snack together and I think he misses it. Avoiding nighttime snacking is a common bit of weight loss advice, but recent research suggests that maybe there isn’t anything inherently bad about getting calories at night and that the problem comes with what kind of calories and how many calories we eat after dark. (Check out these for more info:Is late eating more likely to pack on pounds (WebMD);The Health Impact of Nighttime Eating: Old and New Perspectives ) This is likely an area where the research will continue to evolve and we’ll have to keep an eye on that. For me, avoiding nighttime snacking is more about the mental side of this.

A) “Closing shop” after dinner is an important measure of control for me, to show myself that I am in charge and not food. I am more likely to be successful in “closing shop” if I do it earlier, when I’m satisfied from dinner and less tired (and weak).
Closed for the nightB) It helps me avoid a time that I know has been a frequent binge period for me. There’s something about the night that makes all of the doubts and fears and angst that sends me into the pantry seem so much more overwhelming. It’s easier for one thing to become a deep dive of disgust after dark, for me. Knowing my own patterns is huge for me in managing my binge eating.

 

C) It helps me practice distinguishing eating from habit versus true hunger. It’s amazing how often I’m perfectly content at 8:45 and then starving at 9 pm, because 9 pm is always when I have my snack. Now that I’m ten days or so into avoiding that nighttime snack urge, it’s getting easier and easier to ignore that 9 pm twinge and you know what I’ve noticed? By 9:15, I’m not hungry anymore. If I was truly physically hungry, that wouldn’t work.

I frequently have calories available at night, but I know that eating those calories isn’t worth the slippery slope it puts me on in terms of binge eating. All in all, I feel like I’m eating much healthier foods and much healthier portions since I reset my focus a few weeks ago. I’m getting better at making choices that fuel my body and keep me on an even keel mentally (tricky because restricting can also be a binge trigger!). Is it paying off in the scale? Not very quickly. Before my fall last week, I was down to 185 but since the fall I’ve been stuck at 188. Frustrating to say the least, but it’s still a pound down from where I started a few weeks ago and it isn’t a gain. I keep reminding myself that this is about getting back to a healthier place with eating as much as it losing weight and on that front at least, I’ve made definite strides. Keep on keepin’ on.

Are you okay with snacking at night or do you have to be watchful of that as well?

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Weigh in & Yet another depressing US obesity headline

First up, my weigh in: As of this morning I’m up 0.4 lbs from last week. Before my crash Sunday, I was down three pounds, so I think I may have a little swelling. However, I also had a little M&M problem last week so it may be real. Regardless, I’m keeping on with my plans. Tracking food, moving every day, drinking water and avoiding night time snacks. I’m M&M free for two days, so that’s a win. 🙂 Most importantly, every day I feel like it is getting easier to make the good choice and that’s the most important part.

Yesterday, yet another study came out about the state of obesity in the US, showing that despite increased awareness obesity is a problem, our rates of obesity haven’t changed and in fact have increased in women over the last ten years or so (see the paper here). Over a third of men and 40% of women have BMIs over 30. I’m not sure why we continue to behave like obesity is a problem of individuals making bad choices. If it is affecting this many people (and these numbers are just obese individuals – not overweight; even with the imperfection of BMI, this is a lot of people!), it’s a problem beyond one person’s lack of will power or whatever else people like to blame. It’s more than a little depressing, and yet I’m not surprised. Importantly, all this study tells us is that this is still a problem we haven’t “fixed” with our increased awareness of obesity- it doesn’t really look at why or place blame, likely because there isn’t a single reason we’re getting heavier as a society. Regardless of why, it’s clear we as a society have a problem with this, not just individuals and we need to find a way to make it easier for all of us to be healthier, not just those of us with the resources to take the extra steps to seek out healthier choices.

Because this is just a little update type of post (and that last paragraph was downer), I don’t have a picture to share but I have to show you guys this:

Not sure what to really say about this
I’m not sure what to think of this. I am intrigued I must confess (and suspect this is triggered by the fact that I have a “geek gifts” pinterest board for gift ideas for Darrell). I’m sort of curious to see what a Star Trek dating board would entail, but am afraid to go down that rabbit hole.

What’s the most unusual board you’ve run across on Pinterest? Anybody else surprisingly not surprised by that study showing unchanged and even increasing obesity rates?

 

 

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