Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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Two Years and Three Weeks Later

On April 4, 2009, I rejoined Weight Watchers. Again. For the eleventy-third time.  I was mildly thinking about bariatric surgery and knew that I would have to have 6 months of a proven track record in an accountable weight loss program, and that WW would count.  But the only thing I was committing to was following a sensible program to reverse the weight-gain process and see what happened.

Who knew where that would lead?  I certainly didn’t – because I was taking one next step at a time, as they came up, and didn’t obsess about getting to an unrealistic place.  Those steps led to lapband surgery, working with a personal trainer, and most recently plastic surgery to get rid of excess skin.  (Which I’ve told you about in excruciating detail.)

Two years and three weeks after walking into WW, I stepped on the scale and realized I was at my goal weight of 175 lbs (well, okay, 175.2 but I’m still counting it).   I’ve lost 46% of my starting weight for a total of 137 lbs.  The last time I was at this weight was when I was in grad school 34 years ago.

Why didn’t I jump online and tell you all about it, you ask?  Well, I confess to putting it up on Facebook and getting some very supportive responses.  But mostly I wanted to just sit with it a while and let it settle in.

Many people start a weight loss journey at this point and don’t understand why I would stop at 175 lbs when in BMI terms it’s still obese.  But I’m where I had secretly wanted to be when I started all those months and years ago.  I don’t pretend to be skinny.  I will never be down to 125 lbs, nor do I want to.  My primary care doctor set my goal weight at 165-175, and I do intend to lose another 5-6 lbs.  There is no hurry, though, and it will get easier when I’m allowed to get back to the gym.

I’m now 9 weeks out from my plastic surgery, something I had no intention of doing when I had my lapband surgery much less when I started back at WW.   The arms are healed and back to full functionality; the belly still has a little bit to go but then, it was major abdominal surgery.  Sometimes I forget that.  Just another step, though a dramatic one.  But it was the right choice for me, at the right time.

One WW tool I learned (and remembered) was anchoring; having something very specific to see or touch to remind me of what I’ve accomplished and what my goals are.  For me, that’s a silver Pandora bracelet for my weight loss journey.  I already have a clock (it was time), an owl (a wise decision), Chinese symbol for happiness, a present (a gift to myself), a Christmas tree (for the pictures that opened my eyes for the need), a queen bee (“Never underestimate the power of a woman”), an embossed Inner Strength bead, a dangling tennis shoe (exercise and the gym), and pretty glass beads.

Next step:  buy two final charms, one a pair of dangling scissors (for surgical “cutting”) and a butterfly.  For the new me.

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I Think I’m Not Eating Enough

Vegetable PeopleI’ve been having trouble lately getting all my points in, and I gained a pound this week.  I’m not at all worried about that but I do need to analyze what I’m eating to see if there are patterns that need changing.  One factor – being unbalanced in getting in all my food groups.  Another is just not eating enough – I had almost 20 flex points left over this week and for me, that’s a sign that things are out of whack and a gain is likely.

One of the WW leaders talked with me and suggested that one way to change that up is to switch from no-fat to low-fat, or from low-fat to normal foods even while WHAT I eat remains the same.  I know that the Fage 2% tastes way better to me than the 0% and the full-fat version is out of this world.  Food with a little fat is simply more satisfying to me than the watery plain stuff.  It’s also real food with less processing and fewer chemicals, and that shows up in the taste.

I’m watching Alice Waters on 60 Minutes tonight, and she was just talking about the choices we make in life and how her choice is to eat food that’s just been picked, even though it’s more expensive.  Looking at my food bills, including today’s Peapod delivery, I know I spend a fortune on food.  People who think that it’s cheaper eating healthy food instead of cookies, etc., are crazy.

But I’m making it a priority to eat fresh, healthy food and a minimum of processed foods.  It helps that I don’t really even want them.  The only snack treat I buy now are those Hostess mini chocolate cupcakes, and Tootsie roll snack size. Each package = 1 point and provides enough of a chocolate treat to satisfy the sweet tooth.  No ice cream, no cookies, no 100-calorie packs (except the cupcakes).  I don’t want to be eating miniature versions of what I used to eat; I want to be eating different things that satisfy me.

It’s like an alien Anne has invaded Fat Anne’s body and is making herself at home.  Kinda weird but good.


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I’ve Been More Interested in Living My Life Lately than Writing About It

I wrote this last Sunday but somehow it stayed as a draft rather than publish to the blog. Oops 🙂

Buddha and a child

As of last weekend I’ve lost almost 10 lbs and am feeling in the zone of following my plan.  More than that, I actually WANT to follow it which makes things so much easier than when I was fighting with myself every step of the way.

I’ve been working with Weight Watcher points for so long that reading recipes and food labels doesn’t require major brain twisting to understand whether something is a good choice or not at any given time.  The best part is that I don’t have to give up anything, just get comfortable with eating less while balancing what I actually do eat.

It’s a quiet time of year if you work in academia and especially in a law school, where there is no summer school.  The building is deserted of the usual hustle and bustle of students and staff members are taking vacations so the office is emptier, too.  Economic uncertainties with budget cuts and potential layoffs have made this a stressful spring and it’s a relief to see this fiscal year coming to a close.

The Maids are coming to deep-clean my apartment the day before my parents arrive later this month.  In a way it feels like cheating; I know how to clean and really should be doing it better than I do.  I just hate it (that summer as a hotel maid kind of backfired).  On the other hand, they send a team of 4 people who clean everywhere at the same time, including the floors on their hands and knees.  My knees can no more contemplate that than fly to the moon.  So the apartment will be sparkling clean – and as I told my mom, I’m not doing it for HER, I’m doing it for ME.  I think it’s probably a bargain and a service I may want to outsource a few times a year.

Tessie is waking up earlier and earlier, along with the sun which starts streaming light way earlier than I want to get up.  Yesterday she sat on my back, played with my hair, and meowed at 5am so I’d get up and keep her company – and feed her, of course.  It was not my idea of the best way to wake up on a weekend day and today was not much better.  Good thing I’m not on vacation or I’d be really cranky.  She desperately needs to have her claws clipped but I’m trying to hold out until closer to my parents’ visit so she doesn’t accidentally puncture the Aerobed if she happens to jump on it. Although we plan to keep the door closed, she is tricky so we need to expect anything.

Today is a quiet day with chores and errands to run and probably a walk outside in the warm sunshine.   Maybe a nap, if the kitty will allow it.


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There’s Been an Attitude Adjustment

Light SwitchIt’s like a switch was thrown inside of me.  Instead of treading water in an endless spiral of griping about being fat and eating food I didn’t really want or need, I’m going somewhere – and for the first time in a long time, it’s not backwards.

I rejoined Weight Watchers, yes.  But I already knew all the WW drill, as well as every other diet and foodplan option on the planet.  Okay, maybe I missed one or two.  Knowing the information, the reasons,  the medical complications, and consequences of failure aren’t enough until you actually want to do something to change.

I don’t have a timeframe or even a real weight goal.  Right now it’s about getting comfortable with making changes and then following through on them long enough for them to become new habits.  Little things and big things that you know as well as I do — journal, eat less, healthy food groups, moving more.

But it’s also about being balanced and not feeling deprived.  I don’t deal well with that and don’t have to go there; there are plenty of options that let me feel satisfied and happy as long as I take the time to explore them.  One thing that’s critical for me is the balance between what I eat for lunch and what’s for dinner.  Lunch is my most social time, when I go out with friends and colleagues, and I want to be able to have choices at a variety of places we’re likely to visit.  Voila!  I do.  In exchange for eating a larger lunch, I eat a lighter evening meal.  Planning the night before lets me do both.

Obsessing over food never was healthy for me and it feels paradoxically as though I’m being more aware and careful while also not thinking about it every waking minute.  The weight will come off in due time – but first the attitude had to change.  It has.  And it feels good.


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Doing My Homework

Buddha in SunglassesI’ve been back at WW for two weeks and am feeling good.  I didn’t even care what the scale said yesterday; I’d had a good week of eating food I enjoyed, both out with friends and at home. I’m not going to tell you weekly weight loss because I don’t want to promote losing pounds as the only thing that matters – but know that I did lose and I’m happy with where I am and how I’m doing.

How can I feel deprived when I can have Pad Thai, taco salad, spaghetti pie, pizza and souvlaki?  Not in the same day, of course.  But still.  And there’s my beloved Fage yogurt with fresh strawberries, and vegetables that don’t taste like plastic.  I’ve eaten more salad in the last two weeks than I probably ate in the last year and it feels good.   I’ve done this before and it’s not really hard to actually follow a food plan when you know the details.  When I was resisting mightily, I at least knew exactly what I was doing that was self-sabotage.

One of the best things I do is to use a little time in the evening to plan out my food choices for the next day.  I put it in my tracker and play with the options so I know the structure, what I can have, and where I have wiggle room.  I love doing the etools with the easy online resources for points and better options, especially when going out to eat with friends.  Which is one reason this email from Arlene really opened my eyes:

Wait ’til you read this.. a study from Yale university found that out of 4,311 people who visited Starbucks, Burger King, Au Bon Pain, or McDonald’s, only a ridiculously pathetic number of them (six… yes, SIX!) took the time to find out the calorie counts in foods before ordering.  Granted, the info wasn’t right in front of their faces on the menus — it was posted on walls, printed in pamphlets, or available at computer stations inside the restaurants. But still — SIX people out of 4,311 is 0.1%. POINT ONE PERCENT! That is sad, especially considering that a meal out can contain enough fat for three days if you’re not careful.

So what is it? Are people lazy? In denial? Unaware? Whatever it is, we need to do what we can to change that. Restaurants need to make it WELL KNOWN that their nutritionals are available. And everyone needs to remember to seek this info out when visiting fast-food joints. Don’t be all “out of sight, out of mind” about it — if you don’t see the nutritional stats, ASK for ’em! And/or go on to their website before you go to eat.

Do you know the food values, however you care about them, of the foods you eat out?  Go visit some websites, look at pictures of the food, and arm yourself with information.  You never know when it will come in handy.


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Have You Noticed Ads for Weight Loss Programs Lately?

Woman on a treadmillIt’s only January 2nd and I’m already sick of the constant ads and TV programs on weight loss, exercise and diets.  They do this every year so I don’t know why I’m always surprised and turned off.  Oh, I know why they run:  it’s the start of the new year, people make resolutions to eat healthy, lose weight and exercise – so the media blanket the airwaves with ads for Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, bariatric surgery, an assortment of weight-loss pills, exercise equipment, gyms, etc.  Bravo ran a marathon of The Biggest Loser on New Years Day as an alternative to watching football.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand that people are motivated and it’s the perfect time to grab their attention.  But with so many different products and plans all pushing the same points, it’s hard to keep track of the options in a reasoned way.  Which is entirely the point, I suspect.  Get the watcher to jump off the chair and sign up on the spot.

But all plans are not equal and neither are gyms and exercise programs.   If you’re just getting started on your resolutions, don’t jump for the flashiest ad or cheapest price.  Research the contents and figure out what will work best for you in your lifestyle.  Are you looking for a quick loss or long term change?  Do you want to count calories, carbs, fat grams, points?   Do you like and have time to cook or do you want easy pre-packaged foods?    If you’re looking at exercise programs, do you want to take classes, use weight and strength training equipment, or dip into a pool?  Do you want a personal trainer?  How does pricing work?  What about fitness tapes you can do in your own home?

The bottom line solution is to eat less food, eat healthier options (more protein and less processed foods), and move more.   There are many ways to do that but you don’t need to pick something flashy.  Write down what you eat every day so you know what you’re doing.  Identify things you can cut or swap out.  Start taking short walks and build up.  What matters is starting.


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Individual Baked Pumpkin Custards

Just got this recipe from my former WW Leader Arlene, who is a wonderful cook.  Looks like something easy and delicious, and a nice alternative to pumpkin pie.  Hmmm, I think I’ll have to try this – I have everything in the house except the evaporated skim milk.  Let me know what you think if you make it.


Individual Baked Pumpkin Custards

Points value:  2
Servings: 8

The sweetness of these pumpkin custards is offset by a spiced yogurt topping. Each one comes in its own ramekin for easy portion control.

Ingredients

2 cans pumpkin, not pie mix.  Whisk the following with the pumpkin:

  • 4 large egg(s)
  • 4  egg whites
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon artificial sweetener , Splenda or real sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Topping

  • 16 oz fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon artificial sweetener, Splenda, or real sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole or ground cloves (optional)

Instructions

  • 325ºF oven
  • To make custard, spoon pumpkin into a large bowl; whisk in custard seasonings.
  • Place eight ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet; fill each ramekin about 3/4 full with custard. Bake for 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a knife in center of a custard cup – if it comes out clean, custards are finished. If not, bake for 5 minutes more and check again; repeat until cooked through. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well and set aside. When custards are cool, top each with yogurt mixture and serve.
  • You can make the custards one day in advance and store them in the refrigerator. Top with yogurt mixture just before serving.