It’s been a month now

I’ve been Nooming now for one month, and as of today, I’m down 21 lbs. Yup, you read that right. Twenty One pounds in 5 weeks and 4 days.

Thursday I went to the gym on the corner, the one that I pay for every month but never visited (you know how that works), and had a fitness assessment. At my weight and with my physical limits, I knew better than to launch into a full-blown exercise plan without being checked first. I know how to use the cardio equipment and the weights, but the back, sciatica, and foot with neuropathy made it crucial to not be stupid.

They dug up the last assessment I did there, from June 2017. At the time I got on the scale in my socks; this time I stepped on shoes and all. Taking them off is too much work just for a scale. My true reading comes at home; as long as I’m consistent at the gym, it will work. But in any case, I’m down 23 lbs from 2017. My BMI is down 3 points. Percentage of body fat is down. Resting pulse rate is in the “fit” category.

Best of all was the “6 minute walk” test. In 2017, I almost collapsed half way through it. This time I made it all the way through without having respiratory distress. Six minutes may not seem like much, but to someone who mostly sits all day, it’s big.

I now have a 6- week workout plan that is very modest and doable: go the gym 2-3 times/week for 30 minutes, working up to 3-4 times/week. Walk for 10 minutes, do the NuStep for 10 minutes, and the arm bike for 10 minutes (5 forwards, 5 backwards). After that, I’m to check back for adjustments and what to add in. I can do this.

I bought a little clip-on pedometer which is easier to carry around than having the phone in my pocket all the time to track steps. I update Noom on steps at the end of the day. Instead of trying to consolidate steps, I make more trips from one end of the house to another, from one part of the church to another on work days. In fact, I make laps down to Fellowship Hall and back up to the foyer of the church and back again several times during my mornings. So I’m moving more – I was up to 7,500 steps yesterday which was amazing.

Food doesn’t seem particularly hard, though having a box of donuts outside the office door is awfully tempting. But I have grapes and clementines to snack on and have protein, veggies & carbs at every meal. No ice cream, no cookies, no chips, no wine, very little bread. I can have ALL of that if I want to, I just really don’t want them.

I sort of feel like a commercial for Noom when people ask me about it. I’ve hated people telling me about their diets in the past when I wasn’t ready to work on my own eating, so have been reluctant to bring it up on my own. Plus I’ve failed a lot in the past – lost motivation, lost focus, lost energy. But I’m not on a diet. I’m learning to eat like a normal person – because I *am* a normal person, just one that’s too fluffy. But that’s changing.

Off to the gym. Go me!

Let me tell you about Noom

Almost nothing about a diet/weight loss program surprises me anymore, having been on a zillion of them in my life. Most boil down to being legalistic and rigid, and the second you tell me that I can’t eat something is when it becomes the only thing I want to eat. I don’t really like being in groups or classes and prefer working through this on my own, though I did like the accountability of having someone else weigh me – except when I’d gained.

On the other hand, they didn’t work long-term. None of them, even when I lost over 100 pounds, which I did several times. I’m good at losing when I want to pay attention to what I eat; I’m not very good at keeping it off and maintaining a target weight. Why? Because I was paying attention to the food and not to my inside self and the triggers that were setting me off.

Noom is a different kind of program. It’s app-based so you and your phone become very close. You weigh yourself once a day in the morning and record it in the app, and you also log food in the app. Those aren’t all that different; lots of plans do that, and tracking food is pretty essential to actually being accountable for what you eat. The app also has a pedometer to track your steps; many of you already do that with FitBit or other program, but this was new for me and it was nice to have it integrated.

Food tracking is common to all weight loss programs; each puts its own spin on it. In Weight Watchers, you count points. In others you’re counting carbs or grams of protein or fat. Noom does it with color groups based on caloric density. Foods are Green, Yellow, and Red. But you can eat anything, as long as you account for it, and you do look at the calorie count. Green food has a different caloric density than red food; you get filled up with food that has more water and fiber.

I’m a visual person and thinking of food by color groups makes it easier to picture and then make a choice between a Green Food snack such as fat free yogurt and a Yellow Food choice of 2% yogurt. Chicken is a yellow food; steak is a red food. Grapes are green, raisins are red. Mostly I just pick what I want – but then I use their food analysis tool to give me feedback on the choices. And since I log my food BEFORE I eat it, I can (and do) swap out one thing for another to keep things balanced.

But what’s really different about Noom is the psychology components. Each day has several small little articles on related things, such as mindful eating or breaking habits. Some of the style is a little cutesy but the information itself is sometimes new, or at least presented in a new way. And there are little quizzes to see how much you retain. It’s actually a lot of information in small enough bites that I’m absorbing more than in a lecture or reading a book.

You’re also assigned a goal coach, and after the first 2 weeks, are put into groups with a coach to help work through and respond to the articles. I’m honestly not finding that to be that much help because I found another option that works for me and that’s two Facebook groups for Noom users, a general one and one for those with large amounts to lose. I prefer typing on a keyboard over using thumbs on a phone, and like the more instant gratification of responses to questions from other users.

The thing is, I know my goal and I know how to break it down into smaller bits. I know there will be plateaus and slips as well as progress. I have a realistic idea of where I want to end up and how to celebrate the NSV’s (non-scale victories) along the way, things like behavior changes that become new habits or fitting into clothes another size or in a different store.

For me this is about getting healthier, and as of this morning I’ve lost 18 lbs; my BMI has already dropped 3 points. I got on a scale at the doctor yesterday and saw a number I haven’t seen since I retired. I’m happy with this program, how it’s working for me, and what I’m learning about myself and my habits.

Want to read a more detailed review of Noom? Check out this review in USA Today:

Eating the Week Before Christmas

Elf with Candy CaneIt’s a week before Christmas and food is everywhere. Bowls of brightly wrapped Lindt truffles and almond rocca bars. Metal tins of cookies with nuts, powdered sugar, rich spices and shortbread. Boxes of Belgian and Sees chocolates. One box of clementines which doesn’t begin to balance out the rest. And this is all just in my department in the last week.

We had the library holiday party today with trays of lasagna, empanadas, latkas, and salad, with a table of desserts. Musical entertainment was courtesy of Habeas Chorus, a law school singing group. But the main focus was food. There’s another party tomorrow, this time the campus-wide library party. And another one on Friday with a law school staff lunch.

Oh yeah, and we go out for an Indian buffet lunch on Thursday to hear about our colleagues’ trip to Mumbai for a conference. It’s topical and I’m sure it will be tasty but it’s just more food.

It will be a relief to get to the weekend. For me, the parties will be over. I’m not going away or even out for Christmas dinner and can pretty much control what I have in the house so it includes something beyond the Sugar and Chocolate food groups. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. But too much of a good thing is still too much.

I have my WW weigh in tomorrow and it’s not going to be pretty. I’ve managed to be reasonable about at least one meal a day but other than that have been grazing and eating comfort food. Though actually when I look at it, it could have been more out of control. Carrot cake pancakes at IHOP still had sugar free syrup. Only a small meatball sub and not a whole one. Slow churned peppermint ice cream instead of the full stuff. Lots of water. Light popcorn. Reduced fat cookies.

I have learned some things and I refuse to binge the way I used to. It’s too much physically and emotionally and I’m happy to see and know that I really have moved forward even though sometimes it just feels as though I’m in a spiral.

Losing weight this month is not a goal, an expectation, or practical reality. It’s not gonna happen and I don’t care; that isn’t the “winning outcome” I decided for myself. This particular week is the worst for me in terms of situational temptation and as soon as it’s over, I will get back to my regular routine with a sense of relief. Part of that will be going to WW the day after Christmas to get the week behind me and starting fresh.

I love that about my weekly weigh in. Oh, I don’t always like the number on the scale but I go and get on the scale anyway. Staying away in paralyzing fear of what it will show doesn’t help me change my eating patterns as much as just hopping on and off, and starting fresh the next day. The scale gives me a number, feedback not judgment, and I really can just move on. It’s taken me a long time to get here but it’s a healthy place to be. Even the week before Christmas.

Let’s Get Real

Wakeup ButtonWhen I eat too much and exercise too little, the inevitable results will be weight gain. With a few rare exceptions, that’s what’s been happening to me since I moved in June. As of tonight’s weigh in, I’m higher than I’ve been in a long, long time. Something about recracking a particular ‘decade’ number made me wake up and pay attention.

I haven’t been working hard at weight loss or taking it very seriously and it shows. I’ve let the portions get sloppy, my food choices become unbalanced, and my exercise practically disappeared. What did I think would happen? That I had some invincibility and could eat whatever I want and have it not show up attached to my hips with superglue?

I was actually pretty shocked tonight when I got on the WW scale because the scale at home, which usually at least lets me have a heads up on the official weigh in, didn’t indicate that this was coming. I stayed for my meeting and we talked about winning outcomes. Specifically, how to manage to get through December and reach January having achieved the outcome we want – whatever it is.

I have no illusions that I will lose weight between now and New Years. My real goal is to lose one pound and break back through this unhappy place where I find myself. Frankly, staying basically in one place will be an accomplishment.

Losing weight takes a lot of energy and I haven’t put much into my process since I moved. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important; I do, and I know that I would both feel and look better with even 10% of my current weight gone. But I haven’t cared enough about it to do the work that’s felt more like punishment at a time when I was already scrambling to learn a new place and establish a new life.

I’m not giving myself permission to be lax. Being “kind of on program” shows me that just letting go completely would mean regaining it all, as I’ve done before. I just can’t go there again. I’d rather stay fat but smaller than risk gaining it all back and then some, which is my usual pattern.

For now I’m holding on by the skin of my teeth. I’ve planned my food for tomorrow and will try to get in some extra walking, though my knee gets very unhappy when I do that. I haven’t been to water aerobics in six weeks “because the water was too cold” which is a pretty stupid reason, although the water really was freezing. I don’t promise that I will go to class tomorrow but I will be back at the pool within the next two weeks because the water exercises were the only things that helped without pain.

I’m not afraid of the scale

ScaleOne thing that struck me this week in reading other blogs and comments is how many people working on weight loss are afraid of the scale. They put incredible pressure on themselves to get the lowest weight possible, especially those who only weigh once a week. I’ve heard people say they stop drinking as much and shave their food down the last few days to get themselves as low as possible. What you wear to weigh in is debated (shorts and tee shirt? same clothes every time? naked?) as is what time is best to weigh yourself if you are doing that – naked first thing in the morning? 2pm? before bed?

There is no right answer to any of it. People work around their lives, their plans, their chosen weight loss program and figure out a routine that fits. But many are still afraid of the scale, afraid of stepping on it and finding they’ve gained or not lost when they worked hard. No one is ever afraid of stepping on the scale and losing, though if they only lose a tiny amount (0.2 lbs, for example) they get upset that it wasn’t more.

I seem to be in a different place with the scale now. I’ve been going to WW meetings for 4.5 years and somewhere in there, I think within the last few months, I’m not paralyzed by the scale. I wear the same clothes and weigh at the same time, but that’s because I go to a weekly class on the weekend, so wearing the same clothes isn’t a problem.

I don’t drink before I go to my 9:30 meeting and try not to eat anything too salty the day before, but that’s it. The scale provides me with a number that isn’t a judgment, it’s just feedback – and nothing to be afraid of, even if it didn’t go in the direction I wanted. And let’s face it, we all want and hope and often expect that the number goes down by a healthy amount every week.

But the scale reflects my life and how I ate – and whether I worked out more, ate foods in different combinations, was sick and not eating, socialized and ate out more than usual. The number gives me a point on a line to show me how I’m doing and once recorded, the slate is wiped clean and the next week will show me the progress I’ve made in that week. Just another step along a very long road.

Being depressed about it, or scared, or overly elated isn’t going to make the numbers on the scale go up or down. Putting the energy into just working the food plan, being active and healthy, and keeping myself balanced is what makes the difference for me. Of course I want the numbers to go down but I see this as a lifetime, not a short diet, and I’d rather make sure those other things are what matters because they are the factors that will allow me to keep the weight off.