Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lots of Little Voices

The voices inside my head really need to stop getting to me.

There's the inner fat girl, that keeps thinking that food is the answer to problems. "I'm stressed, let's eat something. I'm going out with friends, lets drink 3 beers and having an unhealthy dinner. It doesn't matter, you'll eventually get back on track." Or that sees the number on the scale creeping upward and freaks out because I don't ever want to get back (or even start moving towards) where I started with all of this.

And then there's the inner healthy girl, that keeps trying to tell the inner fat girl to shut up. "I've been doing this for a year and a half, it's not impossible, it's not even that painful anymore. Just get off your lazy butt and workout! Put down the extra beer, or the cupcake! Back away slowly..." She's always trying to get me back on track.

Inner OCD girl is freaking out lately. "Oh my god, I can't handle this schedule, or lack there of. I need normalcy! I need to workout every single day and eat the exact same thing or I'll gain weight! Or even worse, I won't lose it." I crave schedules and normalcy and knowing exactly what situation I'm going to be in and how to handle it.

And lately, my inner Social Butterfly has been screwing with all three of those other girls. "I love to go out with my boyfriend and my kickball team and my friends visiting me. A few meals out and a few nights at the bar won't hurt. You can't be a hermit forever" And that's partly true, but I also don't need to take that as an invitation to go crazy. And in the entire month of July, that's how it's been. I started out at 147 right before I went on my business trip. I came back and got it almost all the way back down. But with each passing weekend, the scale would be higher and higher on Monday and it wouldn't get as low by Thursday. So now I'm at the point where it's Thursday, and I'm 151.4.

So it appears I have a small Greek Chorus inside my head that just won't shutup, you can see how I get stressed out. But I've got to learn to balance it all! Yes, I can still go out and be social. No, I can't eat crap just because it's there. And no, inner skinny girl, you don't have to feel guilty about one beer or one meal in a restaurant. And OCD girl, put a lid on it, you'll be back to your normal schedule on Monday!!!

Right now, I think my inner skinny girl needs to take the lead, keep me on track, and stop me from freaking out over every little situation. The scale will start coming down again and I have every intention of keeping it down. August is shaping up to be much calmer, minimal trips and I think only one visitor (my sister who can't go to bars anyway). But I still want to go out, enjoy my weekends, and not completely deprive myself. I just need to get smart about it. I've felt like complete crap the last week, and the scale has a lot to do with it. I HATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! seeing 150+. It's just such a mental block for me that I get really frustrated thinking about it. The 140s is at least one digit closer to my goal of 140. I still feel like 150 sounds "fat" and I don't know why. And I think I still look a little chunky and I hate that. I'm in the best shape ever, but I still focus on the less than flat stomach. Maybe it won't ever go away, but I won't give up trying. It really was getting better when I got down to 147, so if I keep going it can only improve.

So the bottom line is that I focus way too much on weight. And I don't really know how to stop it. And no, I can't put away my scale. I've found that I go COMPLETELY off track when I don't have a scale to keep me in check on a regular basis. It's a daily reminder to get back into my healthy habits if it goes up or to keep doing what I'm doing if it goes down. Maybe one day I'll be able to move away from it, but not now. I really hope I can get to the point where I'm happy with where I'm at and I can stop obsessing so much. It's really draining to focus on it all the time, and then beat myself up about it when I slip up. It's a major factor in the stress I've been feeling all week and I don't handle stress in the best ways.

Anyway, I'm rambling now, it's just writing down all the crap I've had in my head that no one else really understands. I just need to start fresh, on the proverbial Monday. I'm hoping these extra 4 pounds are sodium from all the crap food I had in the last week and TOM. They need to go away as fast as they came on...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons, Don't Eat Them!!!

And by lemons I mean feelings. It seems to be a problem that I, among many people I encounter on MFP, have when the going gets tough. Food is comfort, and an escape from our issues (albeit briefly), and can even be celebration or reward. But it's a dangerous habit to tie food and your feelings together.

I'm not much of an emotional eater 90% of the time, but even when it gets rough for me (like last night), I find myself wandering into the kitchen and picking up a snack. It's only a saving grace (and smart move on my part) that I don't keep junk food in my apartment with very few exceptions. So last night after I found myself upset, I went to the kitchen and grabbed a Fiber One brownie. 90 calories of damage but it's no pint of Ben and Jerry's.

This still shows a greater issue... food shouldn't be a way to solve my problems. I had the same issue in California on my business trip and the damage was WAY more than a 90 calorie brownie. Sometimes it's a few beers. But lately I've noticed that sometimes my first reaction isn't to find food. It's to go for a run, or do a workout DVD. Something to get the stress out that ISN'T FOOD! This is a much better habit to have and I would have done something if it wasn't 11pm last night and I just went to bed. It's something I'm going to have to keep working on because it can only lead me back down a path that I've worked really had to get away from in the last year and a half.

So, when life hands you lemons, don't drink the lemonade. Don't eat the lemons. Juggle with them or something. I don't know, something that gets the stress out that isn't digging you back into the hole that emotional eating may have gotten you into in the first place. I started texting my boyfriend and we talked about what was bothering me. And it really helped. So maybe talking to the lemons is the way to go... or about them... you don't want to come off crazy for talking to lemons. But lemons represent our feelings, our problems, and our demons. I'm making an effort today to eat as well as I would any other day. Just because I'm in a crappy mood doesn't mean I need to blow my calories out the window.

So instead I'm plugging in my headphones, putting on some Led Zeppelin, and not eating the lemons! But I am going to lunch at Wegmans with my boyfriend for a salad or sushi. I can still eat, but my feelings are not on the menu!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Are What You Eat!

It's an adage we've heard over and over again, you are what you eat. Notice that it doesn't say you are HOW MUCH you eat, and I just read an article that addresses that very point.

Still Counting Calories? Your Weight-Loss Plan May Be Outdated

The article details a long term study done that tracked the eating habits of its participants over 20 years and correlated their weight gain, loss or maintenance with the foods they were regularly consuming. Note that no where does it say HOW MUCH of these foods they were consuming.

This is a fact that I've slowly learned (and sometimes the hard way) over the last year. I can eat 1500 calories a day in a variety of ways. Lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, yogurt, etc.... or a fast food salad, frozen dinners, 100 calorie packs, and a candy bar. Still 1500 calories, but looking at where the calories come from makes a BIG difference. Once I cleaned up my act, ate 1400-1500 calories a day consistently of healthier foods, a magically thing happened. THE SCALE MOVED! Just cutting out fast food lunches alone was enough to get it going in the right direction. And I find that the weeks where I'm away from my usual food, especially eating out, it doesn't move.

So, why is this? It's all about macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fat), in addition processed vs. fresh, whole grain vs. white, natural vs. artificial sugars. So in reality, you are what you eat! For example (from the article):

“This study shows that conventional wisdom — to eat everything in moderation, eat fewer calories and avoid fatty foods — isn’t the best approach,” Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in an interview. “What you eat makes quite a difference. Just counting calories won’t matter much unless you look at the kinds of calories you’re eating.”

And now, for the facts!
- The average participant gained 16.8 lbs in 20 years
- Eating certain foods on a regular basis lead to more weight gain over a 4 year period, such as:
        * French fries = 3.4 lbs
        * Potato chips = 1.7 lbs
        * Sugar-sweetened drinks = 1 lb
        * Red meats = 0.95 lbs
        * Processed meats = 0.93 lbs
        * Potatoes = 0.57 lbs
        * Sweets and desserts = 0.41 lbs (phew, that's not a lot, I love cupcakes, lol)
        * Refined grains = 0.39 lbs
        * Fried foods = 0.32 lbs
        * 100% fruit juice = 0.31 lbs
        * Butter = 0.3 lbs
- But on the contrary, those who ate more fruits, veggies and whole grains LOST WEIGHT! Whole grains don't slow the metabolism, while processed refined grains (like white bread) DO!
- And, on top of that, those who lost weight ate 3.1 more servings of veggies a day on average.
- Good news for my fellow lovers of yogurt and peanut butter, those who ate more of those foods lost more weight! Those who ate yogurt lost an average of 0.82 lbs over 4 years.

So what is all this telling us? Yep, YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! Especially over a long-term period. I tend to agree with all of this information, to a point. I'm not going to never eat french fries again, but this is where the moderation comes into play. The article states:

“The notion that it’s O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.”

And on a daily basis, I believe that is true! If I ate 1500 calories of french fries, butter, potato chips, etc. every day, I'd guess that I'd be pretty unhealthy. Where moderation is key is when you are allowing yourself to have these kinds of foods. I eat french fries once every few months. Ditto for pizza, and big cups of ice cream, and whatever other treats I enjoy. But when you break down my daily food intake, it's the good for you stuff, the stuff that I want to be made of, not potato chips.

So the bottom line: your diet isn't going to last very long if you aren't changing your healthy eating habits. And the long term research in this article shows that. I highly suggest that everyone check it out, and even read the study that's linked in it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer Lovin' and Loving Summer

I'm starting to realize staying "on track" this summer in the sense that I imagined it isn't very realisitic. My weekends for the next 3 weeks are booked with trips or visitors. August will probably be similar, so being a diet hermit on the weekends just isn't gonna work for me. So... new approach.

My goal is to stay under 150 at all times. Right now I'm right at 148, and when I left for my business trip 2 weeks ago I was right at 147.2. I'd say with all that travel, that's pretty awesome! And my moving average for my weight chart never went above 150 even with all this upheaval. I'm a reasonable person, and I don't believe in missing out on summer fun just to keep losing weight. Doesn't mean that I'm done tho! I'm still going to make every effort that I can to keep losing, when it's appropriate.

For example: I'm going to Williamsburg, VA this weekend for a trip with my boyfriend. Lots of walking and being outdoors so that's great exercise! But I'm not gonna eat a salad and skip the local beer! I'm going to a Colonial Tavern on Sat. night and I'm trying the local brew :) It's a balance between moving and eating, like it is every day. I think it's the reason I did relatively well in California/Jersey (once I flushed the sodium out of my system). I was active, and I didn't go nuts eating but I enjoyed myself.

When my friend comes to visit, I plan on taking her to see the local sites, more walking! Perhaps find a bar for some dancing. Or hit the pool for a swim. When I go to the lakehouse for kickball at the end of the month, I'm not gonna sit on my butt, I'm gonna try water skiing or something crazy!

So, here's my tips to surviving the summer, and perhaps even losing some weight!

1. Be active! The weather is awesome, the pool is open, I'm getting out of the house and off my butt as much as possible, that should definitely burn lots of extra calories.

2. Enjoy summer foods but not too much. Included in that is delicious summer beer. I'm still gonna be picky about what I eat, but I'm not going into a full on guilt trip for having one delicious BBQ meal.

3. On the days/weekends that aren't out of the ordinary, behave myself! If I'm at work and I have time to workout afterwards, there's no excuse not to. It will help balance out the weekends that I'm busy.

So, there you go. That's my gameplan for this summer. As it got started, I realized I don't want to be a hermit. But it would be awesome to keep losing. If I can managed to keep the high peaks on my chart lower and perhaps reach new lows during the week by behaving myself, maybe I'll sneakily lose some weight by the end of it. I figured it's worth a shot, the worst that can happen is I maintain in the upper 140s and keep moving downward to the 130s once the summer fun/craziness winds down.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When It's No Longer "A Diet"

I was wondering when this day would come, when I don't have to think about every bite that goes into my mouth and write it down. When I don't feel a crushing sense of guilt when I miss one day of working out. Or when I choose something off a menu that isn't a salad with dressing on the side.

And this doesn't mean that I don't still focus on my healthy habits. It's just that they aren't something I force myself to do 99% of the time. I just do it. I realized my overreaction to the In N Out Burger incident. It's not even an incident, I had one cheat meal and it was my first fast food burger meal in a year and a half. It doesn't mean I'll spiral out of control and start eating like crap again. Things like that are so much more worth it when you earn it and let it be a treat and not a habit.

But habits like going for the healthy options on a menu, or suggestion activities that don't involve sitting on your butt are good ones to have! I said I didn't really exercise in the last week, but when I thought about it, it wasn't entirely true. My window of what "exercise" is can be a bit narrow at times, since I'm not really wearing my HRM for most of these things. But on Wednesday I played kickball, Friday I spent 4+ hours walking around a mall, Saturday I was swimming in the pool (leisurely but I was moving), and Sunday we were water tubing. There was hardly a day where I didn't get some form of activity, and that's the important part! It's easier now to just have an active lifestyle instead of sitting around all the time. I'm burning more calories without even realizing it or accounting for it, and I managed to make mostly decent food choices with some allotment for treats (and beer... haha).

So I think I'm moving away from being in diet mode all the time. Yes, I still get on my scale, and yes, I still hope to lose more weight. But I'm OK with it coming off on its own. I don't want to stop at the weight I'm at, but it's not quite the chore it used to be to do that. It's almost become second nature, I don't question it but at the same time its not all I think about. The last few weeks of just dealing with "normal life" type things really helped me to see that. I've always been worried I might "fall off the wagon", gain it all back, but I've managed to convince myself that isn't gonna happen. I've made the commitment, it's stuck in my brain, and I know how to balance things.

So, moving forward I'm going to stress less about considering what I'm doing a diet, and think of it more of "this is how things are now". One day or one meal can never put me back to where I started 2 years ago.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Life's Tough, Get a Helmet

My business trip was a bit of an eye-opening experience. I had my good moments, I had my OK moment... and then I had my In N Out Burger moments.

The good aspect of things: I didn't let the freedom and new environment block out everything I've gotten used to in the last year or so. I scoured menus for the healthiest options possible, and picked restaurants where I knew I could find something to eat that didn't kill my calorie count for the day (and yes, I did keep trying to count every day of my trip). Usually soup and a salad were my choices, dressing on the side. I did my best by myself, where I could eat wherever I wanted and could take the time to search the menu.

I also worked out every single day or got out for some exercise by walking around! I went to the gym Mon-Thurs and ran/walked intervals on the treadmill while watching the personal TV on it. And Friday I went to the Aquarium of the Pacific and then walked around the harbor before dinner (a few hours total of walking). So I was really proud of myself for sticking to that. It was an extra 2500+ calories burned that I otherwise wouldn't have, that offsets a lot of my indulgences!

Oh yes, about those indulgences. I had a few treats. My Jamba Juice frozen yogurt, my sweet potato fries with dinner one night, my nightly beer with dinner. I admit, I lived a little! But I didn't let it go to my head and at least I worked out first! I was basically sitting for the entire time I was working out there too. I had bought healthy snacks to eat during the work day tho, mini Fig Newtons and protein bars.

And then there's the In N Out Burger. At first I felt gross and guilty and pissed off that I let myself get to the point where I ate it. But then I reflected on the decision while running on the treadmill that night (I wouldn't step off the thing until every calorie in that milkshake was burned off!). And I realized something...

2 years ago, would I have thought twice about ordering that burger, fries and shake? NOPE! Would I have hopped on a treadmill afterwards to make up for it? NOPE! Would I have enjoyed it way more while eating it because it was my first fast food burger and fries in a year and a half? NOPE!

That's a big difference! I knew what I was doing, yes it was 1265 calories and 65g of fat, and yes it is pretty darn unhealthy. But that's not my daily lunch, or even my every so often lunch! It's my "I've been doing this a long time and you really expect me to go the rest of my life without eating In N Out Burger, sent from the heavens?" Hahaha, I'm from the East Coast, we don't have In N Out and I only get to California on a rare occasion.

So, I learned a few things in the past 2 weeks. Yes, life happens. Yes, life is tough sometimes when it comes to making good choices in an environment you're not used to. But it's possible to do. And it's possible to have a meal that you wouldn't normally order (or an extra delicious beer at The Yard House...). You have to have a thick skin when it comes to these things. At first I was freaking out, but I can't live in a weight loss bubble my entire life. I did come back and weigh in at 151 lbs, but that was yesterday morning and my weight was 149.4 this morning. At this rate, the water weight (not fat because I didn't go nuts!) will be off as fast as it came on.

I have kickball again tonight (playoffs!!!), a BFF visiting from AZ tomorrow, a 4th of July celebration on Sat night with my boyfriend (Alexandria is weird and does it the weekend after so we can go together, since we spent the holiday apart), and then water tubing on Sunday. I'm gonna enjoy it! Not think about every calorie that goes in my mouth. And at the same time, listen to the voice in the back of my head that steers me towards better choices when I can, and lets me have a treat.

So my lesson to you all: Trust yourself! You're changing your life, not ruining it. Do you really want to go the rest of your life without a Neapolitan milkshake from In N Out Burger (or insert favorite junk food here)? I know I don't! But it's way more special when you have it once a year, instead of once a week. I'll be back to losing weight again next week when my schedule settles down. But that's because I don't let losing weight get in the way of enjoying myself and living a little. One milkshake isn't going to magically add 68 lbs. I just have to keep telling myself that...

And if you recognized the title of my blog as a quote from "Boy Meets World", you get a gold star in my book :)