Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Talk it out

My talk Saturday went pretty well. I wish I had been a little more linear. But I tend to be a bit all over the place whenever I speak in general, so I guess it represented me pretty accurately.

There were more than 60 people there, which surprised me. Including me, six people shared their Weight Watchers journeys. Some had lost more than 100 pounds, others less than 50. But each one of them had changed his or her life in a significant way. It was very humbling and I was grateful for the opportunity to share. Below is a photo of me and the fabulous Dee, our Weight Watchers leader, at the event. She's amazing.

Most of you have seen the Careforce announcement that the open house for the new session of Weight Watchers will be soon. Here at the Park, it's Tuesday, Sept. 14. I would love to see a room full of people. Even those of you who have told me you're "Weight Watchers drop-outs," (yeah, you know who you are) come back! Maybe this time, you'll be ready to change your life.

Feel free to e-mail me or comment with any questions. Can't wait to meet you! Oh, and don't worry. I'll remind you of this many times.

As for a weight update, this week was a slow one for me. I lost .2 pounds. But it was still a loss, right? I'll take it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sort of success

The fantastic Dee, our Weight Watchers leader here at the Children's Office Park, asked me a couple of weeks ago if I would speak at something called Success Live. It's an open house at her WW center, where several WW members will speak about their weight loss journeys.

"Dee, I'm not a success," I said.

"Of course you are," she said.

"But...but, I'm not finished!" I said.

Dee went on to explain that they wanted people from all parts of their weight loss journey—people who just started, others who've reached their goals and people like me—those who have lost weight but aren't to their goals yet.

I was pretty hesitant at first. I don't think when you look at me you automatically think I'm a success. In fact, if you hadn't known me before I started, you'd think I was still just another overweight girl.

But a friend reminded me of my "If I can do it, anyone can" entry. Maybe seeing someone who's had some success, but is still chugging along could make an impact for someone who just started and has a long way to go. I sure hope so. Plus, I couldn't let Dee down. She's done too much for me. So, sometime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at the Northlake Mall Weight Watchers center, I'll be telling my story of (sort of) success. If you're in the area, feel free to stop by. There will be raffles and prizes and other fun stuff.

Many of you have asked me to post an updated photo. A lot of you have asked me if I am going to change that little black and white picture on the right. I've thought about it. When I hit my ultimate goal, I'll probably change it, but for now, I like it as a gauge to show me how far I've come.

But for tomorrow's talk, Dee asked me to have a before and after photo. My friend Kate, who's a graphic designer here at Children's, was kind enough to put the two photos together. I thought I'd share with you.

So, there you have it. The photo on the left was me, probably at my heaviest, and the photo on the right was taken just a couple of days ago.

I hope everyone has a healthy, fun weekend. As always, thanks so much for reading. You guys inspire me every day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Q & A

Today, I’m going to answer a few reader questions.

One very inquisitive commenter asked me this:

Erika, on a day-to-day basis even weekly basis—how has your life changed in terms of being more healthy? How many times a week do you exercise? What exercises do you do? What do you like? What do you feel has benefitted you most—the change in eating or the exercise or both? Is it mentally exhausting to train your brainto think healthier manner? Are you happier on the inside?

All good questions. Let’s start from the beginning.

On a day-to-day basis—or even weekly basis—how has your life changed in terms of being more healthy?

I used to spend most of my day thinking about food. What was I going to eat later? What did I eat earlier? How could I hide my latest binge? What if I ate a salad now…could I eat five tacos from Taco Bell tonight?

I don’t do that anymore. Sure, sometimes around 11 a.m. I get totally excited about lunch. Or maybe I know I’m going out to dinner and I might start anticipating that. But it doesn’t consume me like it used to.

The other thing is that having some of this weight off me makes it a lot easier to get around. I am more willing to walk across the Office Park for a meeting than drive. A friend asked me to go hiking with her and I immediately said yes. Things like that were not a part of my life this time last year.

There are silly things—I have changed my Facebook profile photo three times in the last few months. I had the same one (taken at an excellent angle, of course) for years. I guess I'm a little more comfortable getting my picture taken. I also can tell the difference in my skin. I look healthier. Because I am healthier. But it’s nice to see it reflected in more than just weight loss.

How many times a week do you exercise? What exercises do you do? What do you like?

I try to exercise at least five days a week. I have personal training with Jessica on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I do Zumba on Tuesday nights here at Children’s (and sometimes Mondays at my gym) and Cardio Fusion on Thursdays.

I'll be honest. I still don’t love to exercise. But I like it a lot more. I am still struggling to up my cardio. I’m working on that. But I love the feeling strength training has given me. It’s something I had never done before, and though it’s hard, it’s so rewarding. One day when I met Jess for training, she asked me what I wanted to do. “Upper,” I immediately answered. “Haven’t we done upper like the last 75 times we worked out?” she asked me. And then she proceeded to work my lower body like a mad woman. So, there’s your answer about what I like. I am much better with my upper body than my lower. But I’ve gotten better with the lower body exercises. And Jessica has stopped listening to me when she asks me what I want to do.

What do you feel has benefitted you most—the change in eating or the exercise or both?

Both. When I was doing martial arts, I worked out constantly. And that kept my weight at bay. But I was still binging and overeating. If I hadn’t been, I would have lost a lot more weight during that time. That’s why when I stopped doing it, I ballooned pretty quickly. So for me, this combination is working. It’s the first time  I’ve had both going at the same time. I also think the strength training is a major part of it. I can definitely tell the difference it’s making.

Is it mentally exhausting to train your brain think healthier?

It used to be. But I’ve been at this since January. It’s actually becoming second nature to me. Of course, as I’ve shared with you many times, I still struggle. Sometimes I just want to go crazy and eat as much as I can cram into my mouth. Sometimes I want to skip the gym. I’m human. But I’m a healthier human.

Are you happier on the inside?

Definitely. Now all I need is to get to my goal weight and find a husband.

I’m kidding. Sort of.

Thanks for all your questions! I’m always glad to get questions from y’all. Don’t hesitate to ask me anything—comment here or send me an e-mail. Thanks also to all of you who posted recipes last week in the comments section. Make sure to check them out if you haven't already.

Hope you're all having a healthy week!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Now and then, then and now

Forgive me. You didn’t know after I blogged every day last week that you’d have radio silence from me this week, did you?

I had to go out of town unexpectedly at the beginning of the week and have spent the rest of it catching up. I fully planned to write at least a couple of times, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

But I’m here now.

I thought I’d do a little comparison today. I was just thinking about where I was then and where I am now.

This time last year:

  • Refused to participate in the wellness fair
  • Would never have joined a departmental wellness challenge
  • Had no idea what I weighed
  • Battled with an addiction I thought I’d never overcome
  • Barely moved body from the couch
  • Would not have thought about discussing my weight issues with strangers
  • Felt trapped and hopeless

This time this year:

  • Was the first member of my team to sign up for the wellness fair (I went yesterday. More on that next week.)
  • Am a team captain for my departmental challenge
  • Know my weight (to the ounce) and am watching it go down
  • Can say I’ve worked hard to overcome my addiction, although it will always be a struggle
  • Exercise at least five days a week
  • Share what I used to think were my deepest, darkest secrets with all of you
  • Feel hopeful and free

I found my Strong4Life binder from a few years ago. I, of course, dropped out. I just wasn’t ready, I guess. But I found a piece of paper on which I had listed my hoped-for future successes. I wrote:
  • Weight loss
  • Food under control/recognize food as fuel
  • More active
  • Freedom
So far, so good.

Have a great weekend, friends. I’m looking forward to writing a little more next week.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Days of the Weight

A lot of people ask me what my goal is. The truth is that I have no idea.

See, I’m a person who tends to get overwhelmed really easily. So, to think about my overall goal—the big number—makes me want to run away screaming.

For now, my goal is just my next 5 pounds, then the next, then the next.

I wonder how many times in my life that I counted ahead to an upcoming event—a wedding, going back to school, a big party, the next summer—by pounds. I’d look at a calendar, determine how many weeks would be left until the deadline and try to figure out how much weight I could lose before then.

I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t do that to some extent. I wonder where I’ll be by the holidays? I wonder how much I’ll have lost by this time next year? In fact, often when people ask me my goal, I respond half-jokingly, “I plan to be totally hot by January.”

Whether or not that happens is yet to be seen. But I know that no matter, what, I’ll be taking that goal in little chunks (excuse the pun)—five pounds at a time.

I’m going to leave you guys with a recipe for the weekend. I have heard rave reviews about these kale chips. Those of us with produce baskets received an overabundance of kale this week, so I hope this helps. Credit goes to Suzy Scheiblin in the Foundation for sharing. Happy healthy weekends, everyone.

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. seasoned salt

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.

2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Anything you can do

Pretty much every time you read a weight loss success story, the person says, “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Ugh. That used to make me so angry. I have thrown a magazine or two across the room because of that sentence.

But now I’m starting to get it. And though I haven’t said those exact words yet, I feel them bubbling on the surface.

When people see me and notice I’ve lost weight, the first question they ask is “How did you do it?”

I think they’re a little disappointed when I say Weight Watchers. I know what they’re feeling. When I’d ask that question of other people in my life who had lost weight, I was praying they’d say it was a magic pill or a shake. Perhaps a fairy godmother or an enchanted wand.

But I always knew better. I knew it would be hard work. And for a long time, I just wasn’t ready to do that work. Maybe you’re not, either. And nothing I can say here will change that. It’s all about doing things in your own time.

In those success stories, people will often talk about their “a-ha” moment—the breaking point which compelled them to start living a healthy life. The time they couldn’t fit on a roller coaster. The harsh words from a doctor. Losing their breath while walking upstairs. The lack of a relationship.

I waited for my own a-ha moment. It didn’t happen the time I couldn’t fit on a roller coaster after standing in line for two hours. It didn’t happen when my doctor diagnosed me with sleep apnea. It didn’t happen the time I could barely walk up the stairs to my seat at the Fox while seeing a show with a friend. It didn’t happen despite going to a billion weddings as a guest, minus a plus one. These were all things that embarrassed and hurt me, but not things that made me decide to change.

For me, there was no lightning strike. I guess it was a series of these kind of embarrassments that added up. And though I waited for this big change to happen to me, I’m the one who had to make it happen. I had to get off my booty, put down the French fries and do it. There was no magic.

I don’t have a wand or a fairy godmother. I don’t have a special pill or a shake. But I do have the words that I now know to be true:

If I can do it, anyone can. I promise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Quick and yummy

A friend reminded me today that I promised to share my tzatziki sauce recipe. It's pretty good and not too hard to make. Plus, you can put it on meats, veggies and pitas. Maybe use it as a spread instead of mayo. It's really versatile.

6-8 oz. fat free plain greek yogurt  (Use 8 ounces for a milder flavor, 6 ounces for stronger)
2 cloves of garlic (Pressed)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cucumber
Fresh Dill or mint (Optional--I didn't use it).

Cut cucumber down the middle. Seed with spoon. Using the small side of the cheese grater, grate the flesh of the cucumber onto plate covered with paper towel. Bunch up the paper towel and squeeze the excess juice from cucumber so you are just left with the pulp.

Add container greek yogurt, cloves of garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Mix.

Mix in pulp of cucumber.

For best flavor results, let sit in the fridge for 24 hours. It should last in your fridge four to five days.

I actually doubled the recipe and just mixed everything into a 16-ounce yogurt container. Easy for storing. I've eaten it on chicken and some veggies. It's really fresh-tasting and yummy. Let me know what you think.

I am super excited about this week's produce basket from Eat Right Atlanta. It's chock full of some of my favorites:


Buternut Squash
Romaine Lettuce
Broccoli Crowns
Brussel Sprouts

I'm expecially excited about the mangoes and avocados, so I can make my new favorite salad. I've also heard really good things about kale chips, so I'll try those and post the recipe if it goes well.

Do any of you have any new food discoveries?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday update

This week I got another 5-pound star. I lost 2.2 pounds this week, for a total of 66.8 pounds.

Several months ago, I talked about getting my first 5-pound star. I fretted about how many more I had to get to reach my goal. I still need many of those little stars to reach my ultimate healthy weight. But look at my bookmark now:

Now that goal seems a little more attainable.

A quick note to all my fellow Weight Watchers members here at Children's. Our meetings have been a little sparse lately. And that makes me sad. If you're afraid of the scale, come back. You don't even have to weigh in. You can just come and soak up some inspiration from your fellow members' victories--big and small. We're in this together. And you never know when something someone says will change your life. I know going to the meetings has been an important part of my journey. I hope you will join me. I miss you!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unequal and opposite reaction

In retrospect, I may have been a tad too ambitious by saying I’d blog every day this week. What was I thinking? But I hate to break promises, so I’ll try to come up with things to talk about.

I’ll start with this weekend. It was a bit of good vs. evil with good pretty much prevailing.

Friday, I babysat. Oh the binge eating I did when I was a babysitter back in the day. Just like my exploits at the Ronald, there is something extra appealing about food that doesn’t belong to me. As a constant babysitter, I can remember pounding Cokes (we never had them in my house) and eating as many Girl Scout cookies and as much junk food as I could stomach. And then some. But, I had rules. I wouldn’t open anything new, and I wouldn’t finish anything. I would push the wrappers way down deep in the trash, hoping they wouldn’t discover them. I’m sure they never noticed half their food was gone, right?

I remember one babysitting gig when I was in about seventh grade. These people I sat for had a jar full of fun-size Snickers on their counter. Everyone knows the fun-size ones taste the best. There’s just something perfect about the peanut-to-chocolate-to-caramel ratio. I would eat one. Then go back for another. Then another. Then I’d try to arrange the jar so no one could tell how many were missing. Then I’d stuff the wrappers in my pocket. One day while sitting, I guess a wrapper had fallen out of my pocket without my noticing. When the mom got home, she picked it up and said “Oh, someone’s had a Snickers!”

She said this sweetly, without accusation. But I immediately went into defense mode. “Not me! I didn’t have any!” “Oh, OK,” she said. Obviously she knew. But why did I feel the reason to lie about it?

Interesting. I did not plan to tell that story. In fact, I haven’t thought of it in years. But I guess it was significant enough that it stayed with me for so long.

This past Friday, babysitting was different. I may have had a few too many roasted almonds, but for the most part, I avoided the kitchen and managed not to binge.

Saturday I went to a baby shower. Here’s the good vs. evil part. I declined the (seriously amazing) chocolate cake with peanut butter layers. I had a bite of a friend’s instead. That satisfied me. But I did eat roughly 8 billion mini quiches. I guess you can’t win them all.

Sunday I went to brunch with a friend and her mom. Every time I go to brunch, I debate ordering the eggs Benedict. Before Weight Watchers, I would never even think of getting something else. Though I think having the eggs Benedict is a lovely indulgence every once in a while, I had already done that with the mini quiches. So instead, I had an egg-white omelet with spinach, tomatoes and feta, wheat toast and fresh fruit. Not so bad.

Last night I grilled some extra chicken breasts so I’d be prepared for the week (always a tricky thing for me). I also made a new recipe—fat-free tzatziki sauce to use on meats and veggies. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow.

In the meantime, let me know how good has triumphed evil in your life lately.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hard, but not complicated

Yesterday I felt like I was assaulted by billboards advertising things I used to eat.

It seemed every sign I saw was for a place I used to frequent on a regular basis. It was as if the top of the billboard had my name in blinking lights. Then I had a weird thought pop into my head.

For a minute, I missed the person I used to be. But that’s crazy, right?

The person I used to be was so trapped. My prison was made up of food used to fight the emotions I didn’t want to face. The person I used to be was hopeless and depressed. Angry and bitter.

So why would I miss her? It was a thought that hit me like a freight train because it was so ridiculous. But part of me missed the not caring. I missed the comfort I used to get from my binges. I missed the misery.

And I’m not sure why. Sometimes I think getting healthy is a lot harder than just letting myself go like I did for years. It’s hard to go to the gym. It’s hard to cook something nutritious, rather than swing through McDonald’s.

But is it? Was it easier to avoid my friends and family because I was so ashamed? Was it easier to be so numb to what I was feeling that I sometimes missed even the joy in life? Was it easier to expel so much energy hating myself?

I know the answer is a resounding no. And I also know that these are the mental games I will continue to play, maybe for the rest of my life. Because life was absolutely more difficult last year, when I was huffing and puffing up stairs, avoiding friends and family and stuffing my feelings with fatty foods.

Taking these steps to a healthier life is not hard. It may be difficult at times, but it isn’t complicated. It’s simply about taking them one at a time.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. My goal for next week is to update every day. Hold me to it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cool runnings

I hope you’re sitting down, because I’m about to tell you something that contradicts most of what I write on a weekly basis.

This Thursday, all of you need to eat some ice cream.

You heard (read?) me right. This Thursday, Aug. 5, is Miracle Treat Day. By purchasing a Blizzard from a participating Dairy Queen location, you are helping the sick and injured children of your community. For each Blizzard sold, DQ will give $1 or more to Children’s Miracle Network, which supports local pediatric hospitals. For all of us in north Georgia, that’s our very own Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

Now, I talk a lot about moderation. And I wouldn’t encourage you to eat ice cream every day (not full-fat ice cream, anyway), but in order for us to provide the wonderful programs and services to our patients and families, our not-for-profit organization needs fundraisers like this. Since 1984, DQ has raised more than $81 million for Children's Miracle Network hospitals.

This year, DQ is offering Mini Blizzards—they’re about half the size of a small. That’s moderation for you. Get one and split it with a friend, or save up a few calories just for the occasion. After all, ice cream once a year—for the kids—is worth it, right?

Visit www.miracletreatday.com to find a participating DQ near you.

I’m also going to encourage you to do something healthier. The Kaiser Permanente Corporate 5K Run/Walk is at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 16, at Turner Field. Children’s is trying to get a team of 500 participants. I’m no runner, but I’ve signed up to walk. I participated two years ago, about 60 pounds heavier than I am now. I was so proud to make it across the finish line. I hope this year is a little easier for me. Employees of Children’s can find more info on Careforce. Join me. It will be fun!

P.S. Weigh-in details for this week: I’m down another 2 pounds, for 64.7 total.