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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Thoughts On Weight Loss

Losing weight is a very odd thing. I have now lost 80lbs and weigh just 5lbs more than I did in high school, I am in the final stretch, probably 10 - 15lbs more and I will be in maintenance mode for the rest of my life. But it is not just weight I have lost, I have gained many things along the way, some expected, some unexpected.
In March I was able to stop taking my blood pressure meds, this week I went to the doctor for a check up, my bp was 100/60, he removed the diagnosis hypertension from my medical record. I am glad I developed hypertension because it was the motivator for taking charge of my health and it is why I started my weight loss journey. I had some routine blood work, the nurse called me yesterday and said all was normal, and then went on to tell me that this time last year my cholesterol was 208 and it is now 167, she told me to keep on doing whatever I am doing. And, believe me when I say that I plan to for the rest of my life. The cholesterol took me by surprise as I never gave it thought, it was an unexpected bonus due to my weight loss and diet changes.
Exercise, I have always enjoyed walking and bike riding, and for most of my adult life have been active but oftentimes with months and months of inactivity. At my heaviest last year I took no exercise, I sat most of the day, and although I thought about walking that was really all I did, I ached and felt old and unmotivated. Now I find it easy to move around, there is a lot less of me to move around, I have lost a third of me, and my body craves exercise. Although I now weigh just 5lbs more that I did in high school I am in much better shape than I was then due to all of the walking and running, it has toned me and burned away fat and built muscle.
Diet, I eat so differently now, and I enjoy my food. So many foods I used to add butter, salt or sugar to, and now I wonder why, I find that my veggies taste just fine as they are. I used to add butter and brown sugar to sweet potatoes and squash, I slowly reduced the sugar over time and then stopped adding it, then I stopped adding butter, and you know what? These veggies have a wonderful flavor and I was totally covering it up with butter and sugar, I cannot not imagine adding anything to them now.
What does a typical day look like for me? Three days a week I run and the other days I walk, and I recently added some weight training to tone and strengthen. I try to do a minimum of 4 miles a day, but oftentimes do 6 or more miles. I make the time to exercise, it has to be a top priority, it is just too beneficial and cannot be neglected.

1 carton of Chobani non-fat plain greek yogurt (I love this stuff)
1 banana with 1 T of low sodium natural peanut butter smeared all over it. (Yummy)
(this is my favorite breakfast and rolls in at 295 calories and gives a nice proportion of protein/fat to carbohydrate)

3 oz baked boneless skinless chicken breast (I bake up several skinless, boneless breasts at time and then keep them in the fridge to eat through out the week)
broccoli - 1 head
half an acorn squash
(this is a filling lunch and rolls in at around 300 calories)

24 almonds
(160 calories and almonds are SO good for you)

4 - 6ozs of salmon
10 brussel sprouts
baked sweet potato
(300 calories, salmon is great for heart health)

Mug of hot milk
(120 calories, I like 2%)

This brings my day to about 1200 calories, I get protein at each meal, the vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and carbohydrates. Protein and fat make up about half of my calories and carbohydrates make up the other half. I have absolutely no problem in getting enough fiber each day, my goal is 21 grams, I usually get around 30 to 35 grams per day.

I would say that most of the above I eat frequently, other things I enjoy:
Bulgar, lentil, onion combination - high in fiber and protein
Oatmeal with almond milk
Baked beans and kale and a couple of poached eggs
xtreme wellness low carb, high fiber tortilla wrap with refried beans and kale and sometimes an added egg.
Creamy cucumber salad made with non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
No salt rice cakes - at 30 calories a rice cake is great, crunchy snack, good with peanut butter too.
String Cheese - a nice treat with an apple and only 90 calories and it is a pre-measured portion which is a nice bonus.
An occasional treat, but before I eat any kind of treat I check the calorie count so that I am well aware of what I am eating and how much I can have.
And MOST important, measure your portions, so you are eating 1 T, or half a cup, and purchase a small kitchen scale. I am careful to measure and weigh food so that I don't over indulge.

My philosophy is to count every calorie and make every calorie count.

Please note, 1200 calories is good for me to lose 1lb per week. The amount of calories you need will vary depending on your age, gender, weight and height. My thirty one year old son, who is six foot, six inches tall can eat 3000 calories a day for a weight loss goal of 2lbs/week. I am a 51 year old woman, 5 foot, 10 inches tall and weighing 160lbs, my caloric needs are much less than my sons.

Did I start out eating like this on day one of my weight loss journey? UHHH NO!!! At first I was just concerned about calories, not quality of calories. And I lost weight, it came of quickly at first, because I had simply been overeating for a long time and the minute I stopped overeating the weight came off. Once I started using the Myfitnesspal app I found that it provided information on the nutrients my food choices provided and gave a macro of the carbs vs protein and fat, this slowly trained me to make better choices. I find the macro a fun part of the app as I plan my menu for the day, oops over on carbs what do I need to change, or too much fat, or too much protein, over time it becomes easy to determine what you need to tweak to keep the ratios in check. So slowly I went from simple calorie counting, but not too much concern about the quality of calories, to slight modifications to diet that overtime became a complete overhaul of my diet. You will notice I eat very little in the traditional carbs, like bread, cake, cookies, white potatoes, and yet I easily eat enough carbs each day and have plenty of energy to exercise. I have never been a pop/soda drinker, but if you are ditch the habit even if you drink diet, you just don't need that stuff in your system. I drink water, a lot of it, black coffee, and a couple cups of tea each day. I have also started purchasing organic fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits and veggies don't keep as well as non-organic, this really got me to realize just how much the chemicals are a part of the cellular structure of the non-organic stuff and even if it is a banana with a thick skin, the pesticides etc. are still part of every cell of the banana. Bad stuff, I don't want it in my system. And, I really do not eat processed foods, I eat whole foods and keep things simple, this make meal prep a snap.

Did I start exercising right off the bat? NO! For the first several months of weight loss I did not exercise at all, just eating less was all that was needed. By January I was down about 40lbs and feeling better, feeling antsy, I wanted to get out and walk and so I started to walk outside weather permitting and doing the treadmill on poor weather days. By springtime I was walking at least 3 miles a day and easily walking at a 4mph pace for the entire time, that is when I started to add a little bit of running into each mile. The running incorporated easily as my cardio endurance was built up from the long, fast walks. So slowly, over time I went from no exercise, to short walks, to long walks, to long, fast walks, to running.

Other benefits of losing weight. Self confidence, I don't feel like hiding, I don't feel embarrassed by my weight. Clothing, I like the way clothes fit me, I have always shopped at thrift stores and have had fun finding that I have so much more choice when I don't need plus size clothing. Compliments, many kind, encouraging comments from family, friends, and most of all my husband. I don't feel invisible anymore.

Odd things I have found. For the most part family and friends have been super encouraging and I am so very grateful for them as they have played a huge part in my journey. Some people are not so encouraging, they are generally struggling with their own weight issues, comments like you have lost too much, oh just go ahead and eat this one piece it won't hurt you, don't lose too much or you will look old and haggard (yes someone did say that to me), when will you be done with this. I find these comments odd, and the answer to "when will you be done with this?, well never, this is a lifestyle change and it is my lifestyle to be fit and healthy for the rest of my life. The reward of losing weight and exercising for the health benefits is that you end up slim and fit and healthy because you are treating your body the way it was designed to be treated.

I am NOT on a diet! I cannot emphasize that enough, a diet has an end, a journey to health and fitness has no end. I have people who complain to me that they cannot lose weight no matter what they do, I find that hard to believe, you see I used to be fat and overeat and I said the same things while sneaking a cookie that would turn into five or six cookies, and then eat dinner, but think wow that was yummy I will have just a little more, and before you know it you are eating thousands of calories a day and the weight just won't budge or only goes up.  I have learned some things about myself, I would use others to justify buying candy, cookies, chips, baked goods. I would think oh the grandchildren will really enjoy these gummy bears, of course they would enjoy some of the gummy bears but I was really just buying them for myself and I would eat most of them. But I was never buying them for myself, or so I would convince myself. I still think like this, but I catch the thought and tell myself don't use the grandchildren to justify a craving, leave the candy on the store shelf and move on, and you know what I do. Training your self to recognize justification behavior is a challenge and once you recognize the behavior you then train yourself to respond to it appropriately.

Many people say, "Oh I wish I was thin, I wish I could lose weight, I want to lose 60lbs by summer", or things along those lines. Well guess what, wishing you were thin does nothing, planning how you are going to get fit and healthy and beginning to count calories and making modifications to your diet will start you on the journey to a healthier life, and one benefit is that you will become slimmer. Oh, and the chances of losing 60lbs in a couple of months is just a dream, you didn't gain 60lbs in a couple of months. But counting calories and slowly adding in exercise and you will find that the sixty pounds will come off a couple of pounds at a time, and like me you will find all of sudden that you have lost 80lbs and still are losing, which makes me realize just how seriously deluded I was about my heavy weight. I would never have said I was 80lbs overweight, and I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams would have thought I would be one of "those people" who lost over a third of their body weight, it is very surreal.

Other things I do, I like to read success stories, I like to read about how people lost the weight and then maintained the weight loss, everyone has a story and everyone experienced changes in all areas of their life because they started to take care of themselves, put their health and well being first. I like to read books about people who did extraordinary things, like hiking the Appalachian Trail at an old age, hiking across the USA, things like that. I have discovered that the human body is wonderfully and beautifully designed by our creator and if we treat it right we can find that we can do so many things and live life to the fullest with strength and vigor. No matter how poorly we have treated our bodies it is amazing how quickly they respond and bounce back when we begin to treat them properly.

So my friends if you are struggling with your weight remember it is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Start today by counting calories, there are many great, free, weight management apps available, get one and use it, and be honest, you have to log everything, that spoonful of cookie dough, that "bite" of something or other, all the little things add up quickly and can sabotage your efforts. As the weight starts to come off begin walking, or doing an exercise that you enjoy, the important thing is that you just get moving, maybe you can only walk a quarter of a mile, so do it, soon you will be able to walk more. Don't get frustrated if after losing a bunch of weight you suddenly plateau, this is normal, just continue on, at least you aren't gaining :), use it as a time to reevaluate your eating, have some old habits crept back in, make sure you are eating clean, the weight will begin to move again. I had one plateau last almost 4 weeks, and have had a couple shorter ones on my journey. A plateau is not a negative, even if you are stuck at that weight it is still SO much better than the weight you started at!  And remember there are no magic bullets, you can't eat the cabbage soup diet for the rest of your life, or do the hard boiled egg diet for life, or take a supplement, or drink slim fast, or drink some ancient elixir, or whatever the latest fad is. To be fit and healthy you need to eat, but you need to eat what is good for you and remain within your calorie budget each day and you need to get up and move, this is all you need to do, and you will see results.

If you are ready to start this journey I am excited for you, I am glad you will be travelling the same path as me and many others, and I know you will not regret the journey and I hope you fully understand that the journey never ends because you are not on a diet, you will be embracing a healthy lifestyle.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Running - I Am Becoming An Addict

I never thought I would say this, but I LOVE running. I so look forward to getting out each day to run three to four miles, and I feel so pumped up when I get back and oddly feel super energized. I have had a little bit of an issue with plantar faciitis, but seem to be slowly on the mend.

Running is not about speed, it is about endurance, find your pace and you are set. If you are huffing and puffing along you are pushing too hard, a comfortable pace is enjoyable.  The funny thing is that I never set out on a daily exercise regime with the goal of running each day. Initially I walked, at first not very far, a couple of miles, but quickly I was doing the couple of miles at a faster pace and my body wanted to go longer. After a while I was/do walk five, six, seven miles at a time, all the while keeping up a steady pace, I find it invigorating and relaxing at the same time. Once my body adapted to an hour, hour and half, sometimes two hours of fast walking the next logical step was to start running. The walking really built up my endurance and the running was fairly easily incorporated into my days. There are, and will be, days when I set out to run and my body seems to say NO you are walking today, but they are few and far between.

I took three days off from fast walking and running, and oh my goodness did I miss it, I planned to rest my foot, due to plantar faciitis pain,  for five days but just couldn't wait any longer to get back out to exercise. I was going crazy. Funny how my body has so adapted to exercise. A year ago I would feel that a slow walk to the chicken coop was a lot! But of course at that time I was 75 lbs heavier and leading a very sedentary life.

This past weekend I picked up a book by Jeff Galloway, Running Getting Started, it is just chock full of information. And, the format of the book allows for quick digestion of the facts presented and is upbeat and encouraging, it covers everything from shoes, clothing, fat burning, diet, injuries, how to treat injuries, how to prepare for an event, etc. Jeff Galloway was an Olympic runner in 1972, he is now in his mid 60's ,and  still an avid runner. Jeff has started many people off to become runners, no matter what decade of life they are in, it is never too late, if a person in their 80's can take up running and incorporate daily exercise into their life what is your reason for not exercising?

I admire Ernestine Shepherd, the 76 year old from Maryland who runs 10 miles a day and is the worlds oldest female body builder, she is in excellent shape and doesn't look her age. Last week a 92 year old lady became the oldest woman ever to finish a marathon, yes a marathon 26.2 miles, it took her just over 7 hours, AMAZING. I am PROUD of my Mom, she is 75 and recently took up daily walking, she is doing 3.7 miles a day!! The results have paid off, Mom is now off of her blood pressure medication and heart medication, and she is committed to walking daily for her health. My Mom is an inspiration. (Maybe Mom will end up being a runner :))

Wherever you are in life, perhaps you have a disability and exercise is going to be a struggle, try to find something that you enjoy that gets you moving. At first everything is hard, your body resists, you ache, muscles hurt that you didn't even know you had, but you have to push through and do what you can. After a week or two your body adjusts and you can do a little more, and then a little more after that, and before you know it you are looking forward to your walk, you feel elated to see your progress, your body and mind begin to reap the benefits of regular exercise.

Last summer my body was stiff and tired, my knees ached, my back was stiff, my feet hurt, I would get up out of chair and then have to take a moment to unkink, I felt old and I was only 50. I always had aches and pains. The funny thing is the aches, pains and stiffness were really my muscles way of telling me HELLO you need to use us or we will continue to weaken and waste away. So beginning to exercise causes new aches and pains, but they are due to muscles suddenly being used and strengthened, and once they are strengthened the aches, pains, stiffness disappear, you suddenly realize that you bounce up out of the chair, you find yourself running up the stairs, you move faster, you sleep better.  And as you drag your body back into shape you have a desire to eat a healthy diet, you notice that some foods really slow you down so you eliminate them. It is all win win.

So my friends I encourage you to get up off the couch and start moving, just put one foot in front of the other and go. Don't worry about distance, don't worry about speed, just start moving more each day than you do right now and be prepared to amaze yourself.

Hopefully you can read the "evolution of a runner", I read this list and chuckled as it described my journey to a T :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lindenwood Park, A Wonderful Place To Hike With Small Children and Strollers!!!

Summer vacation and time to keep older grandchildren occupied. Today we went on a hike. When I got up this morning I looked online to find stroller friendly hiking trails in Fort Wayne, don't you just love the internet? A suggested park was Lindenwood, a heavily wooded area near downtown Fort Wayne with a number of trails, the longest about a one mile loop, perfect for little legs. I used to take my children to Lindenwood to walk the trails and was disappointed in myself for forgetting about this wonderful park. Oh, and admission is free.

Today was perfect for a little hike, we walked the Reflection Trail, extremely stroller friendly with a wide path and many lengths of broad walk, ending at a pond with a nice deck area to relax and enjoy the pond from. We took a simple picnic of string cheese, bananas, granola bars and the most wonderful, gigantic, organic strawberries, and of course water. We saw a lot of very fuzzy caterpillars, many birds, and some very energetic squirrels, and we saw deer footprints in the mud. I hope that the joys of nature and the enjoyment of walking trails is something that stays with my grandsons for their entire life.

At the campfire ring getting ready to walk the Reflection Trail

And we are off on our hike!

Charles loves strawberries.

Henry enjoying a granola bar.

Pat enjoying a granola bar.

Sweet Pete enjoying life.

Lying down with eyes closed listening to the wind and birds.

Pete enjoying a granola bar.

The hikers are into the spirit of the day.

We wore little Charles out.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

5K - I Did It!

 Wow, the first 5K is in the past, completed successfully and was a lot of fun. I am continuing to run several times a week, and walking on other days. I am up to four miles at a time and am aiming for 6 miles so I can do a 10K. Here are some pictures from The Color Run 5K Fun Run.

Getting ready to leave the house for The Color Run, I was pretty pumped up.

My fellow runners, daughter Amber and her husband Brad, me, and Skylar who is Emily's fiance.

Ta Da, I DID IT!! First 5K completed.

Husband Dave, my "manager" :)

The cheerleaders, daughter Emily, husband Dave, and the grandsons!

Sweet Pete, the littlest cheerleader.

The grandsons after they played with some of the color packs, compliments of The Color Run.