Oct 8, 2015

Plan to Succeed

Benjamin Franklin once said: If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!" In order for me to be successful on my weight loss journey, planing is essential. Without a plan, I find myself hungry and with no food in the house. This is never a good thing. Exercise is no different. If I don't schedule time into my week to exercise, it just doesn't happen. So, what's a girl to do? Make a plan she will stick to: sign up for a 5K run and encourage a key-friend to sign up too.
Plan to succeed
I'm pushing hard to finish my weight loss journey by the end of January and begin maintenance. It is with this intention that I put exercise as a top priority in my life once again. I had stopped running last December after the Hot Chocolate 5K run in Northampton. A couple of months ago I started training for the 5K this weekend and I ran a few times with my key-friend. It's been inspiring knowing that she too is training and that we'll enter this race together.

One afternoon while I was running alone beside a lake, I reconnected with the runner within me. It felt empowering to have this connection ignited. Meanwhile, my pace is slow and I won't finish all my training before the race. . .

Hush little mean girl!

This is not about perfection. It's about seeing my commitment through. It's about doing the best I can do and not beating myself up when I didn't do as much or as well as I hoped. It's about staying the course. It's about continuing to move forward. When race day arrives, I'll do the best I can and I will feel proud when the race is over.

After the race this weekend, I have 2 months before the 5k in December. I'll continue training and work on increasing my pace.  It's about not finishing first or preparing for a marathon. It's about seeing my goal to the end. It's about pushing my body in a healthy way to reach it's potential.

Staying the course on my weight loss program is no different than staying the course with my exercise goals. My weight loss has taken much longer than I ever imagined it would. My journey has had imperfect moments. Those moments pass and I continue on. This weight loss journey is not a race, but I do want to finish and reach my goal.

What about you? Are you staying the course on your weight loss journey? Are you challenging yourself physically? What can you do today to help your weight loss journey move closer toward your goal size?

Sep 24, 2015

Planting Success

How many things did you avoid when you were at your largest size? Did you avoid certain activities because you physically could not do them or because you felt too self-conscious to do them in public? Gardening is something I avoided for years because it was too painful physically. Bending over in public? OMG, that was not going to happen while I was wearing a 30/32 shorts. Thankfully, those excuses no longer hold up.
December 2012: presenting at a conference
September 2015: gardeninga non-scale victory
Last weekend I planted an Arborvitae in my garden and I enjoyed digging in the soil and getting my hands dirty. I did not have any pain and I wasn't self-conscious about bending over. Well, I was later that evening when my neighbor emailed a few photos she took of me gardening.

When I received her photos, I sighed. I thought I was smaller.

The next day I printed the two photos shown above and glued them onto a card. All week I moved these photos from room to room around the house. Throughout my day, my larger self seemed to be pointing at me standing in the garden saying "Yes, there is more distance to travel, but look at how far you've come!"

Keeping these photos close to hand is a great way to measure my success. I have also uncovered a big non-scale victory: I am free to move about the garden! (Pain-free)

On the topic of measuring success, here's a question that came in from one of you this week:
Are measurements OK? I think of them as a set point like knowing that number on the scale so I have stayed away from taking them. Any input would be helpful. I have reached the size I wanted to be, but am afraid to start maintenance, because there are areas that still do not meet the image I had of myself regardless of my pants size. I am curious about my measurements, so if anyone has feedback please chime in. Thank you. —Anonymous
Yes, taking your measurements is an excellent tool to measure your success. I'm sorry I didn't do this more often. A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon my measurements, which I only took once a year. I took my measurements that day and have marked my calendar to do this again in two months.

Another way to measure success is by how your clothes fit. Many of my key friends who are on maintenance have an outfit that they use to measure where they are. Recently I thought this is a good thing for me to do, even though I'm not at goal yet. If I can see where I am in my clothes, it will help me to stay focused on reaching my goal.

Related Posts

Sep 14, 2015

Shake It Off

Dictionary.com provides this historical reference to salacity: salacity, once aroused, even in a minister, allows no room for reason or for conscience. That's precisely how I felt for an entire day few weeks ago, I had extreme sugar cravings and my appetite was salacious.
Do whatever it takes to shake it off!
While in this state of mind, I could not reason with myself and I didn't know how to shake it off. I became so consumed with thoughts of having sugar that I could not think straight. The cravings were stronger than I've had in many years, but I kept pushing them back.

I knew that feeding the "beast" large amounts of beef was the best way to calm down my cravings, but wow—I haven't felt such an obsession in years. I felt like a crazy person. I was a crazy person!

By early evening, I was on my way to the movies and the cravings were still coming on strong. I decided to stop and buy some beef jerky to eat before going into the theater. While in the ticket line, many different foods were calling out sweet things to me, like a street corner hooker calls out to a man in a Lamborghini: "Psst...over here."

Inside the movie theater, my belly full of beef jerky, I focused on the movie and hoped the cravings were over. Once outside the theater, I discovered they were not gone. The food smells from restaurants around town were triggering my cravings as I waked around Amherst. Then Negative Nellie started talking to me.

"Just have one cookie. Just have one small one...."

No! Tap, tap, tap!

I told Nellie to go away and I went into Starbucks for a Flat White (coffee with whipped milk).

I wanted to reach my goal of 15,000 walking steps that night, so after my coffee, I continued to walk around town. After reaching my goal steps, I headed to the lot where my car was parked. As I climbed into my car, it felt like a switch flipped off and suddenly the loud voices  that were in my head all day long were quiet. Silence! Ah!

That's when I had an epiphany. In that moment I realize something I hadn't quite understood about the "once and done" concept:
When you have food cravings and you keep pushing them back, and you don't cave into them no matter what—they stop! You just have to keep pushing back.
It really is this simple!  If I keep tapping away those cravings, my goal size is straight ahead of me—I only have to do this journey once and then I'm done (at my goal).

Suddenly I realized if I don't listen to those voices, if I keep tapping them away (pushing back), they go away and I can resume a quiet life once again. No more Negative Nellie tempting me to have "just one bite." No more feeling like a crazy person.

What a relief!

It's been a few weeks since that walk around Amherst. I've been living this lesson ever since and I can see and feel changes in my body once again.

This is so exciting! Yes—I'm doing this!

What about you? Have you been wrestling with yourself about food choices? Shake it off! Say no to those cravings again, and again, and again. You can do this too!

Aug 9, 2015

Success Comes in More than One Way

At the end of the day on August first I was disappointed in myself. I only walked 5,000 steps—half of my daily goal. I was worried I was starting another month of failing to reach my walking goals. Oh no you don't...one less than perfect day isn't going to get me down. I tossed Negative Nellie (my inner critic and Little Mean Girl's sister) to the curb and on August second I stepped up reach my goal.
August 1 to August 9 Fitbit data: 93,155 steps | 133 floors | 40.17 miles
Not only have I reached 10,000 steps every day since—I've exceed my daily goal—and yesterday I walked 18,997 steps. Yeah! It feels fabulous to be walking consistently once again.

The definition of goal* is: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed. Did you notice failure is not part of the equation in defining goal? It is referenced in "goal in technology:" A goal may fail or it may succeed in one or more ways. Now this I can wrap my head around, as there will be times when our efforts don't add up to the achievement we aimed for that day, that week, or that month. We let go of what we could have or should have done and keep pushing ourselves.

I track my daily steps with a Fitbit. This gadget is not about tracking my failures. It's meant to keep me motivated. It also connects me with my friends, whom inspire me when I see their successes. Negative Nellie sometimes has a field day with my friend's data. She loves to point out how much more someone else is doing than I am.

Listen up Nellie—no matter how you choose to look at this—a glass is always half full—I choose to see the glass half full.

Our weight loss goals may fail or succeed in more than one way too. Those times where we convinced ourselves it was okay to eat giant chunks of cheese at a party, because at least it wasn't sugar. Yes, it's great that we didn't eat sugar, but all that cheese is keeping us from losing more weight.

Do you see how overeating cheese, or whatever you may be eating inappropriately, is keeping you from you longer term effort to reach your goal size? This was my major light bulb moment at the refresher I went to recently.

Each food choice we make and each decision we choose about exercise—moves us closer or further from our goal size. How will you direct your efforts today?

*Modern Language Association (MLA): "goal." Dictionary.com

Aug 6, 2015

Sweet Surrender

Have you been wondering how long is it going to take to reach your goal size? Are you at a loss with what to do? Perhaps it's time to surrender. I'm not talking about surrendering to your sweet cravings or giving up your weight loss journey. I'm talking about surrendering to yourself. I recently experienced my own sweet surrender...
I'm half the size I was before I began this journey.
For reasons that I don't understand, I forget how big I used to be. I'm half the size I was 4 years ago—how can I forget that? When my Little Mean Girl and her sister Negative Nellie filled my head with self-doubt and temptations and telling these inner critics to hush didn't do the trick, it was time to look back at my journey, to remember where I started, how far I've come, and to find motivation to keep going.

Seeing my old photographs helps me put things in perspective. Seeing the photos above, especially my 2010 photo, instantly hushed those inner critics.

By March 2011, two months after my sessions with Julie, my weight loss became noticeable. I still remember how incredible I felt when that photo was taken. I was visiting friends in California and they all wanted to know what diet I was following.

By 2012 I dropped enough weight to once again have a waistline. Woo-woo! Jogging and walking had become as essential as brushing my teeth. My waist became more defined, but all I could see was how big my belly and hips were.

I cringed every time I looked in the mirror and I constantly said "My hips, oh my hips—when are they ever going to get smaller?" I don't remember when I stopped focusing on my hips, probably around December 2014, but I'm happy that phase is over.

Today I gathered photos that made me cringe and compiled the image below. I still cringe, but I don't look like these photos today, which is my point—take photos along the way so you can see your progress.
 As I lost weight, all I saw was how big my belly and hips were.
A few weeks ago I had a photo taken of me in the same dress I wore in the summer of 2012. As you can see in photo below, my dress faded—and I  gradually disappeared too; I wasn't able to see my changes until today. There's a whole lot less of me now than three summers ago.
August 2012 vs July 2015
Yes, my belly and hips are still bigger than I want, but I hear this comment from women in size four and up. I let go of what I want my body to look like and focus my energy instead in answering the question: what do I need to do today to help me reach my goal size? Immediately I ponder if I'm on a plateau.

Yes, plateaus are part of the process, as our bodies need time to heal, but try telling that to my Little Mean Girl. Sometimes Little Mean Girl gets the better of me and questions: just how long is it going to take to get to goal size? Why do others lose weight so much faster?

Her sister Negative Nellie then chimes in: it's been over four yearsyou can have this—just this one time.

Looking at photos helped quiet down Little Mean Girl and Negative Nellie, but I still felt stuck, so I took a look at my life in another way: reading my old journals.
December 2, 2001 Journal
Over and over I wrote of promises to stick to (yet another) diet, of feeling like a failure because (once again) I failed to stay on my diet, and of overeating to a point of pain:
September 21, 2009: My stomach aches from what I ate for dinner last night: 8 slices of pizza and an entire pint of ice cream. I don't want to feel this way anymore. Today I begin my new diet. 
September 27, 2009: Tomorrow I will start my new diet.
Reading these words, reminded me what my life used to be like as an obese woman. I'm grateful those kinds of thoughts no longer consume me.

A few weeks ago when I was walking I almost ran into a tree. I was reading my Facebook news feed as I walked, something I do not recommend. In that moment I realized I have been asleep in many ways.
On my morning walk I almost ran into this tree.
I don't want to go through life asleep. That's how I was living before I started this weight loss journey. Eating ice cream as my main meal, I often fell into a coma-like state on my couch. I don't miss feeling that way one bit.

Back to the question: what can I do today to reach my goal size? Forget the question about being on a plateau, it just derails me and puts my focus on feeling sorry for myself.

What else can I do? That's when it hit me: If I'm to reach my goal size, I must surrender. I haven't been able to give up the excess cheese and I haven't been able to cut back on my portions or the fat. This is why I'm on a plateau! I surrendered to the fact that I'm stuck and I need help. I picked up the phone and called to book a refresher.

Little Mean Girl instantly stepped in and filled my head with thoughts of being a failure because I needed a refresher. Once the session began, all those thoughts dissolved. A refresher was what I needed to keep moving forward toward my goal. I'm fully awake and focused once again.

What about you? Have you been asleep or lost your way?

You get to choose if you are able to continue on your own to reach your goal or if you need a refresher.

Either way, it's time to wake up, time to surrender to yourself,  it's time to reach your goal size. Once and done.
Photo-bomb by Linda!

Jul 20, 2015

Key-Friendly Potluck

This weekend some of our blog contributors and key-friends gathered for a pool party and potluck. I promised them no photos, so none of us would feel uncomfortable when we put on our swimsuits, but of course I had to take food photos!
Key-friendly pot luck
Our key-gathering was wonderful and mother nature worked with us. Yes, we had thunderstorms. Yes, we got rained on while grilling spareribs, chicken, and hot dogs. Yes, we moved our table three times and then ended up eating indoors. After we ate, the weather warmed up, we put on our suits, and went into the pool.

What was incredible was that every one of the dishes was key-friendly (photos below) and delicious. There was one dish that came with a warning: all these ingredients are key-friendly, however the amount of fat and cheese in this dish may slow down your weight loss.

Of course that was the favorite dish and we all wanted the recipe - me included. I posted the recipe to the blog earlier today, but it will be a long time before I make this dish. I want to achieve my goal size and eating clean is the only way this will happen. All foods rich in fat and cheese will have to wait. If I'm bored with my foods, then I need to switch them up. This is not the time for me to dive into cheesy or fatty foods. My goal size awaits me!

Speaking of eating clean, in a recent conversation with key friends, unrelated to the pool party gathering, an interesting food question came up that I want to explore:
Why is it that we can have fake rice (cauliflower), French fries (butternut squash sticks), mashed potatoes (mashed cauliflower), spaghetti (spaghetti squash), but something like cloud bread is a no-no? 
Here are a few responses:
  • I'm not sure if cloud bread is a no-no, but it isn't a meat or a vegetable
  • call the office to clarify (always good advice)
  • Because it makes your body think you are eating "bread"
My interpretation: Those foods (fake rice, French fries, mashed potatoes, spaghetti) are are prepared in their original form and there are no added ingredients aside from spices or condiments and sometimes butter.

The more I think about this, the more the line begins to blur. There are a lot of things I "allow" myself that may fall into question on this basis, such as cauliflower buns. Meatballs have added egg and cheese. I could list more. I get how we find this confusing.

It's important that we don't blur the line. To keep things clear, follow the advice of one wise key friend:
Ask yourself this question: is it a meat or a vegetable? 
If it's neither a meat or a vegetable then you may want to abstain until you reach you goal size.

Are you bored of the foods you're eating? I get bored too, but if we stay focused on eating clean, meats and veggies with a little bit of condiments, then we will reach our goal quicker. This is not about losing weight quickly, it's about making choices along your journey that will help you reach your goal.

It really is this simple: eat clean to reach your goal.

Be careful of looking for loopholes, as this is a slippery slope.

MENU: (Yes, had a lot of leftovers to take home)

10 Meat Dishes
  • pulled pork
  • 2 kinds of deviled eggs
  • hot dogs
  • grilled chicken
  • grilled spareribs
  • beef jerky
  • chili
  • ham roll-ups
  • shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • chicken salad with fresh veggies
6 Veggie Dishes
  • Coleslaw
  • Veggie and feta salad
  • Mock potato salad
  • Pickles
  • Arugula salad
  • No Mac and Cheese
This is what eating key-friendly looks like...
BC Jerky - view stores locations or buy direct at their store or online
Beef Chili
Deviled eggs and veggie and feta salad
Shrimp with cocktail sauce
Ham rolls - celery stuffed with whipped cream cheese inside
Mock potato salad - made with cauliflower
Pulled pork
Platter: tuna salad with veggie salad
Grilled hot dogs
Lemons and limes
Arugula salad
No Mac and Cheese
Background: grilled spareribs and chicken
View recipe - and warning
BTW, you may be asking why I included the No Mac and Cheese recipe after all that I said in this post. I include this recipe because this program is all about choices. You get to chose what you eat and when you eat, including this recipe.

No Mac and Cheese

This yummy recipe comes with a several warnings: While all these ingredients are key-friendly, the amount of fat and cheese in this dish may slow down your weight loss. This is one of those once-in-a-while dishes that you bring to a pot luck or to serve to company - do not make this if you are eating alone. As with any vegetable - eat lots of meat with this.
No Mac and Cheese
  • 3 cups cooked and shredded spaghetti squash*
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 8 ounces freshly grated cheddar cheese (reserve a small amount to top the casserole)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium chopped shallot (or 2 white parts of a scallion)
  • 1 clove minced or grated garlic
*Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds first and bake it cut side down for 45 minutes at 350. Don't shred it until it cools down.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the shallot or scallions and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes until it softens.
  3. Combine the milk and mustard in a separate bowl and slowly add the milk mixture.
  4. Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheeses and stir until incorporated into the sauce. Remove from the heat.
  5. Combine the eggs and sour cream in a large bowl and very slowly add small amounts of the cheese sauce to the egg mixture.
  6. Pour over the spaghetti squash and stir in to combine completely.
  7. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and top with reserved cheese.
  8. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the casserole is browned and bubbling.