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' 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."

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.

Jul 7, 2015


In 1996, while on a five day walking tour of DC, I had my first experience with chronic pain. Each day in Washington ended with me in tears from knee and foot pain. That's when my relationship with Advil began and it would be many years before Advil and I parted ways. Breaking up with Advil was a major non-scale victory that had gone completely unnoticed until recently.
1996 with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein
2015 Before going to a wedding with my brother Carl and his wife Arlene
A few weeks ago I was walking into a local diner for breakfast when my Fitbit buzzed me to indicate an incoming call on my cell. (I know, how cool is that? I love my Fitbit!) I decided to leave the diner and walked and talked with a friend.

An hour later, I went back to the diner and ordered breakfast: a meat lovers omelet, hold the toast, and no, please, no coffee.

With my belly full, I decided to continue walking, but a few feet from the parking lot my ankle hurt so much that I could barely walk. I hobbled back to my car.

My ankle throbbed as I drove home. I needed Advil, but I had no idea if I had any in the house. Before losing weight, this never would have happened. I used to take four Advil four times a day. I carried it with me 24/7 and I always had Advil at home, at work, and in my purse.

I didn't think I could walk from my car to the pharmacy, so despite the pain I felt each time I used my clutch, I took my chances that I would have Advil in my medicine cabinet.

At home I took two Advil and a nap. When I woke up I had far less pain and the next day I was pain-free. I'm sure that I healed quickly because of my weight loss and my walking.

I couldn't remember the last time I took anti-inflammatory medicine! What an incredible non-scale victory! And the funny thing is that until this ankle pain, I had completely forgotten that my life as an obese woman was full of chronic pain.

I don't miss those days, years really, one bit. My days of taking anti-inflammatory pills are over, except for the occasional twisted ankle.

What about you? How is you life different today than it was before losing weight? 
1996 with U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell
2015 at a family party with my brother Richard

Jun 19, 2015

The Clothes, The Clothes, The Clothes!

Now that you've lost so much weight, what do you do with all those clothes that are too big for you? Should you keep them, just in case you gain the weight back? No! Forget about all those other times you lost weight and gained it backget rid of clothes that are too big for you. Keeping them is like telling yourself you are going to gain the weight back. Nowe not!
Thinning out my closets
You have several options as to what to do with clothes that are too big for you: give them away, sell them on eBay, take them to a consignment store, donate them, or have them tailored.

After my first year on program, I invited a friend over and told her "take what you want" and she left with three large over-stuffed bags of clothes. Two days later I did the same with another friend and she left with four large over-stuffed bags. Having been the recipient of many bags of clothing given to me by key-friends, who were perfect strangers at the time, it felt good to do this.

There were  times when I passed along an item I cherished to someone I thought would appreciate it. I gave my favorite blue leather jacket to a friend last year and this year she when it was too big for her, she gave back to me so I could take it to a consignment store.

I  used to sell my larger clothes on eBay, but these days I prefer taking things to a consignment store. Specifically one that doesn't require hangers or ironing. There are Facebook groups where you can sell things, but I really like the idea that if my item doesn't sell it is donated and I never have to see them again. I like the simplicity of this.

To make things easier and to keep me organized, I have a plastic bin and a large trash bag in my clothes closet. When I try something on and find it's too big or I don't like it anymore, I immediately choose: consignment store or donate?

If I'm going to donate the item, it goes right into the plastic bag and the consignment items go into the bin. This helps me know at a quick glance what's for consignment and what's for donation. There have been a few times when I mixed things up and later realized items I wanted to take to consignment were donated. Oh well, they're out of my closet at least!
Bins to take to a consignment store
Winter on left and summer on right
I usually get rid of clothes before the start of each season. This spring, I pulled all my summer clothes out of the bins and I tried on every one of them. I hung up the items I wanted to keep and the rest went into a bin or a bag. Pieces that are too small that I want to keep went back into the bin.

By the way, I use the bins to carry my stuff to my car and into the store. Then they go back home with me. Some day I expect I'll take the bins to the consignment store and ask them if they want to sell my bins.

This year when thinning out my closet, I asked myself a few questions about the clothes that are too small for me, to help me really thin out my summer wardrobe:
  • Do I still love it? 
  • Will I ever wear it again? 
  • Is it really ever going to fit me? 
I decided that by the time some of these items fit nicely at my hips, especially dresses, the top is going to be too big. This year, those items went into a consignment bin.

Each year I have less bins than the year before. At the moment, I only have one bin of smaller sized summer clothes in my closet. Winter, well I still have a ton of winter clothes, but I'll thin them out in September. Meanwhile, there are several bins full of winter clothes and others that hang in one of my closets.

There are random times of the year when I ask myself: Why do I have so much in my closet and at the same time I feel as if I have nothing to wear? In those moments, I know it's time to thin out my closet again.

A couple weeks ago I took my favorite dress to a tailor. I bought it three years ago and when I wore it on a cruise last year I was sorry that I hadn't taken it to be altered. I wore it to a wedding a few weeks ago and before wearing it to a second wedding this past weekend, I had the tailor take in about 4 inches under the arms.
May 2013 vs May 2014 vs June 2015
This was one of those times when I followed my instincts and it paid off.  Everyone told me the dress looked great and there was no need to take it in, but it felt too big. I can see this dress doesn't look much different in these photos, each taken a year apart, but it feels like a better fit. It was well worth the $28 to have it altered.

I wish I had taken my Capri's to a tailor instead of a consignment store. I can't find any Capri's at the store that fit and for a few dollars I could have just had the waist taken it.

I can't wait until I no longer need bins for all my clothes, to use my three closets for my clothes, (yes, I do know how lucky I am to have 3 closets in one room), to no longer have clothes that are to big or to smallonly clothes that fit, to be able to quickly see what I have in my closet, to not have struggle with clothes packed in so tightly that I can't find anything, and to not own so many pieces of clothing!

Hey, a girl can dream can't she?

What about you? What's inside your closet? Is it time for you to remove clothes that are too big for you? It feels fabulous to let go of them, regardless whether you sell, donate, or offer them a friend. It's very freeing! Set yourself free my friends.

Rememberyou are not going to gain that weight back, so you don't need clothes that are too big.

Jun 6, 2015

Hostage to Food

Are you searching for motivation to re-start your weight loss journey? Have you fallen off program and you can't get back on? Do you sometimes think about how all "this time" you could have been so much further on you journey if only you... STOP right here. Don't beat yourself up for what you could have or should have done—instead—choose to start again right now.
Dec. 2000: I was a hostage to food
June 2015: I choose not to be a hostage to food
If you've been off-program, jump back in the river this moment. Don't wait another day. 

If you feel like you can't get back on-program because you lack discipline or motivation, take a look around and you'll see this isn't true elsewhere in your life and it isn't true in this area either.  Let go of that inner critic who is judging your for not staying the course; that critic who is holding you hostage.

Trust yourself that you have the tools to see your weight loss journey through and right now make your weight journey your top priority.

When you wake up tomorrow morning, pat yourself on the back for having started today. Don't count the days you've been back in the river. Knowing the number of days you are in the river only reminds you that you were off-program and makes you feel that you had failed. To be successful, we must focus on our successes—not our failures.

Sometimes we make mistakes in life. Instead of seeing this as a failure, see this as part of your journey. While your side-trip may or may not have been planned, you probably learned a few things along the way. You may even have more clarity as to why you need to choose to stay in the river. Don't let that clarity hold you hostage and prevent you from reaching your goal. Let go. Accept the lesson you learned, get back on program, and don't look back.

Get back to the basics: eating clean and exercise.

This may mean dropping what you're doing right now (or once you finish reading this post) to go to the grocery store. Planning ahead is critical to your success. Focus on proteins like steak, fish, chicken, and eggs. Make big meals and freeze some so you don't have to cook every night.

The weather is no longer an excuse to stay indoors, so get outside and exercise. If you have physical limitations, find something that you can manage and start moving at whatever level you're at. If you can get a friend to join you - even better. If not, grab your cell phone and call someone who is willing to talk as you walk. If you are just starting to exercise again, do as much as you can and be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up for what you no longer can do. Give yourself encouragement for what you are doing now.  Once again: success is contingent on planning ahead. Make a consistent plan to fit exercise into your life and stay the course.

Remember this isn't a race. You didn't gain your weight in a few months and for most it will take many months or even a few years to reach your goal size.

Don't compare your weight loss to that of others, as there are many variables as to why one person takes a year to lose weight and another takes a few years to lose the same amount. Do your best every day and you will reach your goal.

Celebrate your non-scale victories along the way. They come in many forms. A recent victory for me was choosing not to eat something "because I could get away with it." A few weeks ago I was at the register at Barnes and Noble at 7:30 pm and I hadn't had dinner yet. As the cashier rang up my books, it seemed as if all the little gold-foil wrapped candies were calling out to me. I pushed away the urge.

It used to be so easy to just grab a bar of some kind to "hold me over," but I never bought just one. I'd buy ate least two bars, eat them on my way home, and then convince myself to stop at a store for a pint of ice cream for dinner.

Those little bars never held me over, they held me hostage on an endless journey of never having enough sugar and always wanting more.

Eating those foods is what I used to do, but it's not what I choose to do today. Today I choose healthy over easy.

You have a choice too. You can choose to keep doing what you're doing or you can choose to change. You can make that change right here and now or you can wait another five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years.

This what choice is all about—you get to choose when to stop being a hostage to food.

How about choosing to stop right now?