Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Movin' on up

I’ve been a bit of a slacker this week. Not in my weight loss, but definitely in my blogging. My apologies. I’m working on a big project for work and I’m also moving this Saturday. Have I mentioned how much I hate moving? A lot.

I’ve only been living in my apartment about a year. My landlord has decided to move back in, so I had to find a new home. It’s funny, though. I think about how I felt moving into my current place. I had been living in another apartment for five years and was ready to get out. But I felt stuck. So when the opportunity to lease the condo of a friend of a friend was presented, I jumped at it.

I told everyone who would listen that this was going to change my life. New location, new start, new me. This would be the place I’d finally get myself together. The place I’d finally start focusing on getting healthy. But it didn’t happen. And because it didn’t happen magically with a new address, I punished myself even more.

I’ve come to realize that when you start looking outside yourself for the answers, you’ll never find them. I put my hopes into a new apartment. But what I needed was to find that hope within my own heart.

I know there are so many of you who can relate to this. When I weigh this much, I’ll do such and such. When I am in this relationship, I’ll be this kind of person. When I get this promotion at work, I’ll finally find what I’m seeking. Better, thinner, richer, smarter, more successful. All good things. But sometimes those things can mask the heartache we are trying to ignore. I know it was like that for me.

This weekend when I move, I know it will indeed be a fresh start for me, and not just because my zip code is changing. It’s because I have changed. And because that change comes from within, it goes wherever I go.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The only thing we have to fear is…everything?

As I have mentioned a few times, I have been a victim of my own fear.

I’ve allowed myself to be afraid of so many things—rejection, change, challenges, even success.

But I’m finding that the more honest I am with all of you and with myself, the less I let my fear hold me back. Am I still afraid sometimes? Of course. But I’m not going to let that stop me anymore.

So in my attempt at facing my fear head-on, I’m trying new things. A few weeks ago, I went to my first Zumba class. For those of you who don’t know about Zumba, it’s a Latin dance-inspired fitness class. I waited for the class to start, a little panicked about what I was getting myself into—would I make it through the class without passing out? Could I do the moves? Would other people laugh at me?

But I decided I didn’t care. I got up there with the other ladies, shook what my mama gave me and unleashed my inner Shakira. Er, sort of. Sure, I had to modify some of the moves to suit me, and sometimes I went right when everyone went left. But I laughed it off and kept going. And then I went back the next week. Look out, J.Lo.

Tonight I’m starting something else that scares me—personal training. I have finally faced another major fear of mine—the gym—thanks to finding a place where I feel truly comfortable (shout out to Ladies Workout Express in Toco Hills). But now it’s time for me to take that to the next level. So tonight, I have my first appointment with my personal trainer and will be meeting with her about three times a week for the next few months. I’m excited and hopeful about how this will change my body and my mind.

And yes, I’m nervous. A bit terrified, actually. But what I’ve found is that overcoming that fear—trying things I never would have dreamed I could do, makes the end result much more satisfying.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eating to lose

A few of you have asked me about what I’m eating. The great thing about Weight Watchers is I can essentially eat anything—in moderation, of course. I can’t say I’ll never again eat a piece of cake. But I can change the amount and frequency I do eat it. If I want to change my life, I have to be practical. I didn’t get this big overnight, and I’m not going to lose it overnight. I’ve drastically changed what I eat, but I know there will be times when I want to splurge (Read: NOT binge. There’s a difference). I just have to plan for that.

With that said, and in the effort to channel my beloved Julie Andrews, these are a few of my favorite things:

Gnu Bars

I’m obsessed with these bars. They have between 130 and 150 calories and 3 grams of fat. The best part is that they have a whopping 12 (!) grams of fiber, which is nearly 50 percent of the recommended daily value. Plus, they’re really natural—no icky aftertaste like so many bars have. My favorite is the Cinnamon Raisin. I have ordered the bars online, but recently found them at Whole Foods and was ridiculously excited. They’re a great pre-gym snack. For my Weight Watchers friends, they only have 2 points. Yay!

Butternut squash fries

I won’t lie. I love French fries. Like, seriously love them and would change my last name to French fry if I could. But I also know that I can’t eat fries right now. Not even one—or I would never stop. So I found a great alternative. Butternut squash. Who knew? They can be a little hard to cut (I found a couple of YouTube videos that helped me), but once I get them chopped into fry cuts, I put them in the oven with some kosher salt and some cooking spray and cook them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Then I flip them over and cook them for 15 more minutes. Dunked in a little ketchup, they’re almost as good as the real thing. Almost.

Laughing Cow cheese

Dieting or not, I’ve always been in love with the light Laughing Cow cheese. Such creamy little goodies that go really far. I love to spread one on a whole wheat English muffin or mix one in with my egg whites. I’m sure most of you already know the loveliness of Laughing Cow, but if not, run to your store. Now!

Roasted vegetables

Roasting veggies has opened a whole new world for me. A little olive oil, some coarse salt and 15 minutes or so in a 400-degree oven and you have the most amazing vegetables. Roasting unlocks all kinds of new flavors in the most notoriously bland vegetables. My favorites are asparagus and cauliflower. Yum.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite healthy recipes or tips. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail and I’ll share them in a future blog.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Scanner of shame

I used to panic that I’d run into someone I knew at the grocery store.

So I’d prepare.

The Cheez-Its, chips and dip and Little Debbies would go at the bottom of the basket, and the wheat bread, low-fat yogurt, fruit and Lean Cuisines would go on the top. Then, if I didn’t have too much in my basket, I’d be sure to go through the self-scanner, so as not to tip off any of the cashiers of my dirty secrets.

I was so sure that people were watching me. Ooh, what’s that big girl buying? Ah, no wonder she’s fat.

If I were hungry and mentioned it to someone, I felt like I always had to justify it. “I’m so hungry. I have barely eaten anything all day.” Because I am overweight, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to actually need food. I mean, certainly I could live off all I’d already stored up, right?

This journey is teaching me a lot about myself. Mostly about how much shame I have lived with about so many things for so very long. I’ve learned what a great burden that has been. I have had several of you tell me I’m brave for sharing my story. The truth is that this idea of sharing all these parts of my life that I tried so hard to hide for so long has been unbelievably liberating. And I know that some of you who are commending me have faced your own struggle with these issues. Know that you’re never alone.

So far, things are going well. I’m down a total of 19.4 pounds and some of my clothes are too big. A few people have even commented that they could see my weight loss (a lovely bonus as I can’t see it in myself).

But for me, the most profound realization happened the other week. I went to the grocery store. I loaded my groceries on the belt and watched them as they slid by me—fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains. With each beep of the scanner, I felt a little prouder.

Because, for the first time I can remember, there was not a single thing in my cart I had tried to hide.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blame and credit where it's due

Guess what I got this week?

It’s my 5 percent star from Weight Watchers. That means I’ve lost at least 5 percent of my weight. You know what else that means? Because Children’s wants us to succeed, if we lose 5 percent of our weight, they pay 75 percent of our Weight Watchers fee. If we lose 10 percent, they pay 100 percent. So--I’m happy to say--pay up Children’s.

Here’s the strange thing, though. I’m having trouble accepting this loss.

As I blogged earlier, I was sick a couple of weeks ago and lost weight because I wasn’t eating at all. I fully expected to gain at least a pound or two this past week. So when I stepped on the scale and had lost 4 pounds, I was pretty shocked. I also felt a little guilty.

I’m completely off my rhythm right now. I have just started going back to the gym after a two-week absence. I haven’t been super diligent about tracking my food through the Weight Watchers Web site. I haven’t completed the required Actiped steps in more than two weeks. Overall, I’m way behind.

True, I have been careful about what I’ve been eating. I have conquered some pretty major temptations and have tried to make better choices. But I’m still struggling with taking credit for my weight loss.

Why is that? I know if I had gained weight, I sure as heck would have blamed myself for it. It doesn’t make sense I would blame myself for the bad but not credit myself for the good. It can’t be one or the other.

I think that’s a struggle a lot of us face--taking credit, accepting compliments, owning up not just to our failures, but to our successes. Sure, the victory would have seemed a little sweeter if I had really worked hard last week. But just the fact that I am eating completely differently than I was a month and a half ago should be a triumph in itself.

So I’m going to give myself a little pat on the back. But just a tiny one.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The obvious answer

I was talking about doing Weight Watchers the other day and someone asked me the funniest question.

"Have you ever been on a diet before?"

I almost spit out my drink. I mean, I actually cackled out loud.

Have I ever been on a diet? Ha!

Oh diets, how I love thee, let me count the ways, er, programs.

Let's see, there was Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Quick Weight Loss Centers, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers again. Slim Fast. The time when I ate nothing but a sandwich all day. The Six Week Makeover. Weight Watchers again. Atkins again.

And the famous Cabbage Soup Diet. For those of you who have been on a never-ending quest to lose weight, I know you know what I'm talking about. The Cabbage Soup Diet promises a 10-lb. weight loss in just seven (count em!) days. One day you eat only bananas. Another day just veggies. The best day is when you get to eat 20 oz. of beef, chicken or fish. And, of course, endless amounts of the nastiest smelling soup you ever ate.

My mom got the diet from a co-worker. We decided to do it and put the photocopied sheet on the fridge. She'd make a giant pot of the soup and the two of us would commiserate through the week about how awful dieting was. Even today, the smell of cooked cabbage makes my stomach turn.

But, it "worked!" At the end of the seven days, I may have been reeking of cabbage, but gosh darn it, I was a few pounds lighter, so I called it a victory. Of course, you're reading this, so obviously that weight loss didn't hold.

It's so easy to lose weight, some people in my life have told me. You just have to burn more calories than you eat. It's a lifestyle change.

Oh my gosh! That’s it! Thank you well-meaning person for giving me the keys to the universe! I mean, the word "duh" seems like an obvious, if not immature, answer.

The thing is, I know how to eat. I know what's healthy. I have more nutritional knowledge than some registered dieticians. The idea of food, its nutritional stats and what it will do to my body has consumed my entire being for a large percentage of my life.

Now, I'm not discounting some of the programs I tried (Cabbage Soup and other crash diets aside). But the problem with those diets were not the diets at all. The problem was me. I wanted a quick fix. A make-me-skinny-before-prom (or my first week of college, or a friend's wedding, or summer, or Tuesday) solution. And that was never going to work. Plus, in the dark, I was still struggling with the secret shame of binge eating.

So, what's different now that will help me succeed? My brain. My heart. My soul. This time, I'm sharing my secrets. All of them. And I'm allowing myself to get healthy, however long it takes. No matter how many speed bumps I have to overcome, I'm going to persevere and not beat myself up because of a misstep.

So, have I ever been on a diet? Oh yeah. But never again.
And, trust me, like Scarlett O’Hara said (in my version of “Gone with the Wind,” anyway):

“As God is my witness I will never eat a bowl of cabbage soup again.”