Wednesday, May 30, 2007

cutting through the confusion

In the conference call last week(audio link), Dr. Hill said that instead of focusing too much on what to eat (low-carb, low-fat, etc.), we should cut back on how much we eat. That really hit home for me. In recent years we have seen the low-fat craze ( and her "Fat makes you fat!" mantra), low-carb fanatacism, "healthy fats," "dark chocolate is so good for you, it's practically a vitamin," and on and on. It can get pretty confusing. In the most recent issue of Health magazine, there is a feature on how sushi can blow your diet. It warns you of the dangers of imitation wasabi, which contains fat and sugar. Yes, it does, but it's also 7 calories a tablespoon and burns your mouth, so how much diet damage can anyone really do with it?

I'm not saying that what we eat doesn't matter, but if we start thinking of some foods as "healthy" and others as "bad" without paying attention to things like calories and portions, we're likely to make things harder on ourselves than we need to be. For a while, I had completely stopped putting butter on my bread because butter was fat and it made you fat. I ate two or three rolls but didn't butter them. Now that I know that one pat of real butter is only 36 calories and one Weight Watchers point, I figure it's better for to have one roll with butter, if that will satisfy me, than to empty the bread basket and congratulate myself on eating a fat-free snack. I've also stopped bothering with artificial sweeteners, except in sodas, because a teaspoon of sugar is 15 calories. I don't put sugar in my coffee or on my cereal, but for strawberries or in recipes, I'd rather stick to the real thing and not have that yucky artificial sweetener aftertaste.

Having a currency for making food decisions helps. Calories are fine, if you can keep track of them. I've never been good with numbers, so it's easier for me to use Weight Watchers points, which are smaller numbers to add up. It's having a set of guidelines for making choices that matters. Within those guidelines, I think that it's important to choose things that keep you satisfied and provide nutritional benefits, of course.

Everyone's big criticism of Weight Watchers is that you could eat nothing but Pop Tarts and still be under your points. Try it sometime, though, and you'll figure out that 25 points of Pop Tarts is a lot less satisfying than 25 points of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, lowfat dairy and all that other good stuff. Maybe it's time to stop combing the headlines for guidance on what we should eat and just listen to our guts. Literally.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

weigh-in update, 5/29/2007

Weight Chart

Well, most of the weight gained last week seems to have disappeared this week, though I don't think my food was that much different. I tried, but I still overdid it at a Memorial Day picnic and had a couple of other days where I was over even my new maintenance range. The big difference was switching my exercise schedule back around so I did a run this morning before weigh-in instead of lifting weights. I am not silly enough to think that one weight workout could add muscle, but the different workouts probably make a difference in how much water my body is holding when I weigh in.

I think for this week I'm going to go back to losing mode and wait to go into maintenance until I am one or two pounds below goal. I don't want to be in the position of worrying about every tiny detail of weigh-in -- I want to have enough of a margin for error that I really don't worry about being over. I know it's silly to focus on the number on the scale this much, but when it means spending $10-12 less in meeting dues each week, it matters to me.

Good news, though, I think I might have a roomie for BlogHer. This means I can actually afford to go! I have to look at bus and train schedules to Chicago once we get our hotel reservation settled.

Monday, May 28, 2007

going to BlogHer

BlogHer '07 I'm Going

Luckily I'm a full-time student and could register for a reduced rate. The big concern is hotel cost, but it sounds like such a fun opportunity and I can get cheap transportation to Chicago. I could always do the hostel, but I'm trying to find a roomie first. I'd love to meet some of my fellow bloggers in person and maybe find out a few things about how to make my blogs better.

Friday, May 25, 2007

fat thinking

Here's the audio from the Revolution Health conference call on Tuesday. I keep thinking back to something that Dr. Hill said, that being obese may permanently change you in ways that makes it harder to lose the weight, so preventing weight gain is easier than helping people lose.

I wonder if the change isn't mental instead of metabolic. I haven't seen the research on this topic, but I know that thinking of yourself as a fat person makes it more likely that you will behave in ways that are counterproductive to weight loss, no matter how much you want to lose. About two weeks ago, I was walking around feeling thin and marvelling about how easy the weight-loss process seemed to have become. Then I had a couple of slips, and since the weigh-in on Tuesday when I found I had gained almost 3 pounds, I have found it very difficult to stay on track. I know that my metabolism didn't change in a few days. I am sure that if someone could rig the scale so that it showed 150 (and I believed it), I'd be back in my little pink cloud again.

I was chatting with Anne the other day about childhood weight gain. Several of the bloggers on Angry Fat Girlz were put on diets or otherwise given the messsage that they were overweight kids. Then, when we look back at photos of ourselves at that time, most of us looked normal, or maybe just slightly chubby. Maybe thinking of ourselves in that way had something to do with our weight gain. How might our lives have been different if we weren't given that message that there was something wrong with us?

I'm not blaming the parents, exactly. Moms and dads of fat kids are often criticized and made to feel that it's their fault if their kids are heavy. There's a lot of pressure on them to "fix" whatever they think is going wrong. Parents do the best they can, and they make mistakes like we all do. Then when we leave their houses, it's our job to finish growing up on our own. We can decide for ourselves who we want to be.

So for the rest of this week, especially with a holiday weekend, I'm going to try to think thin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

my poor little ladybug, and some other news

Weight Chart

Note how the little ladybug above, once so close to her goal, has slid all the way back to the 160s again. Bummer, for her and for me. I could give you a lot of excuses and reasons for this, but I'm personally not worried. The size 10 capris I bought on Tuesday still fit just fine. I think it's a combination of eating a bit too much last week -- went over even my "few extra points" maintenance range by a little -- and changing my workout schedule. Instead of running the morning of my weigh-in, I did weight training. I think that one is likely to cause slight dehydration and the other is likely to cause some fluid retention.

Or I could just attribute last week's weigh-in to my "psychic scale" phenomenon. You know how every now and then you get on a digital scale and get some totally wacky number, way lower than you know is true? In those cases, I believe we are really seeing the future. That's the way I choose to look at it this week.

Anyway, enough about the scale feedback. I was invited by Cynthia Samuels to participate in a conference call sponsored by Revolution Health, a new website that seems to have all kinds of sensible, user-friendly information on weight management and lots of other topics. (No, by the way, this is not a sponsored post!) Mr. and Mrs. Fat were also on the conference call. We were able to ask questions of James O. Hill, Ph.D., who, among other accomplishments, was one of the cofounders of the National Weight Control Registry.

Dr. Hill was charming and seemed to advocate a truly positive, realistic approach to weight management. We covered a lot of subjects in the call, but the thing that stands out as most interesting to me is his current research. It focuses on how small changes impact weight loss and weight maintenance. His top three tips for weight management were:

  • Walk. In his research, Dr. Hill found that walking enough to burn 100 calories a day (about a mile) was enough to prevent weight gain for most people.

  • Control portion sizes. "Eat a little bit less." Rather than focusing so much on what they eat (low-fat, low-carb), Dr. Hill says people should look at ways to cut down the amount they are eating, especially when eating in restaurants. Because fullness signals take a while to kick in, he says, we should serve ourselves less at our meals.

  • Eat breakfast. Research suggests that people who eat breakfast eat less throughout the day. Late-night eating, he says, is a big problem if it prevents you from being hungry for breakfast. Even people who don't like breakfast should try to have something small, like yogurt, in the morning.

Dr. Hill acknowledged that very little is known about individual differences, so he suggested that people should do what works for them, but he based most of his recommendations on the NWCR research and other research he has done, which show what seems to work for most people.

Overall, he stressed the importance of setting small, realistic goals, like a 10% weight loss, and celebrating those successes. Even if people can't get to the healthy range in the BMI chart, he stressed that those small changes will promote health and quality of life, things we should focus on more than the scale.

None of this is sexy, cutting-edge stuff, I will admit. The only brand-new information that I heard on the conference call was the Fats' recommendation of krill oil for arthritis pain. Still, I appreciated the chance to have a conversation with a researcher who seemed genuinely interested in chatting with a couple of regular bloggers like us.

Once the recording of the call has been posted, I'll provide a link to it. In the meantime, here's a link to Dr. Hill's blog.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

all or nothing

I've been thinking about Lori's last AFG post, which focused on a book by Gina Kolata of the New York Times, . Kolata's basic premise seems to be that most people are shooting for a goal weight that is unrealistic for them, given the role that genetics, age, and other factors play in weight.

It seems, from the reaction to this article in the Times article about Kolata's book, as if people think Kolata is suggesting that we all sit around, eat junk food, and sigh about our genetics as our butts expand to fill the couch. I read the same article, and I really didn't see it that way. I saw it more as a call to focus on being as healthy as we can be, and letting our weight settle where it naturally wants. Though the conventional wisdom seems to be that all women should be able to look like Victoria Beckham if we only tried hard enough, most of us don't have that genetic potential. Focusing on unrealistic goals just makes most of us feel hopeless and defeated, it doesn't inspire us to get thinner. Doctors who really want to help their patients could focus on small steps, like striving for a 10% weight loss, which has been shown by a lot of research to help improve health. Kolata just wants to help people be more realistic when thinking about weight loss:

The researchers concluded that 70 percent of the variation in peoples’ weights may be accounted for by inheritance, a figure that means that weight is more strongly inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness, breast cancer or heart disease.

The results did not mean that people are completely helpless to control their weight, Dr. Stunkard said. But, he said, it did mean that those who tend to be fat will have to constantly battle their genetic inheritance if they want to reach and maintain a significantly lower weight.

The findings also provided evidence for a phenomenon that scientists like Dr. Hirsch and Dr. Leibel were certain was true — each person has a comfortable weight range to which the body gravitates. The range might span 10 or 20 pounds: someone might be able to weigh 120 to 140 pounds without too much effort. Going much above or much below the natural weight range is difficult, however; the body resists by increasing or decreasing the appetite and changing the metabolism to push the weight back to the range it seeks.

When I was a junior in college, I started running daily and eating healthier. After about a year of this, I had lost a few pounds and a couple of clothing sizes. Right before graduation, I decided to take a fitness test offered by my school. I was "lucky" enough to be tested by the Ph.D. whose research these tests helped fuel. My blood pressure, cholesterol level, V02 Max, and other disease risk factors were all "excellent." My body fat percentage, however, tested at 29%. I weighed 135 pounds. The doctor scolded me and said I needed to lose "at least" five pounds if I wanted to be healthy. It has been years since I have been anywhere near as thin as I was on that "fat" day. But as a college girl, it was easy to look around at the other women in the fitness center or at the models on magazine covers and conclude that I was hopelessly, disgustingly overweight.

I think this kind of all-or-nothing attitude is what Kolata is trying to combat. Looking at family photos taken long before anyone invented fast food, it's pretty obvious that my ancestors were not supermodel material. They tended to carry some extra weight.

This doesn't mean I think I have no control over my weight. The thinnest I have ever been as an adult was about 135, and the heaviest was somewhere just north of 200 pounds. I had to work incredibly hard to stay at 135, even in college. Most of my adult life, my weight has been between 150 and 175. In that range, I feel pretty good. Above it, I feel tired and uncomfortable. It's worth the extra effort to stay toward the lower part of this range because I am happier with the way I look and feel. I know a lot of people, especially the commenters on the various blog posts that ask if some celebrity is "normal or fat?" might think I should be disgusted with myself for being happy in this range. But if you read enough of these kinds of posts, you'll learn that no one is ever thin enough to be immune to being called "chubby."

As the old expression goes, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I used to always think that just meant that beauty was subjective. But now I think that it means that we can choose to focus on the beauty around us, or like the Snow Queen's mirror, we can focus on the faults and flaws of those around us, and just look for things to ridicule.

I have a sort of mystical friend who says not to worry about what other people are thinking, because "If their thoughts aren't thoughts of love, then they don't mean anything." Sometimes I think he's weird, but more and more, I think he's the wisest person I know.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

shopping in the Twilight Zone

I've lost weight in the last couple of weeks, since starting the Couch to 5K plan, at a really amazing rate. I also added a little extra focus on my diet by using The Beck Diet Solution book (though I've sort of slacked off on that lately). I suppose it could be, too, that maybe all the changes I've made over the last few months have just started to really kick in. I can't explain it easily. Whatever the cause, in the last few weeks, it seems a lot easier to lose. I am less tempted by stuff I know I don't need to eat, and weighing daily on my home scale is showing that I'm consistently in the 150s. I'm still sort of astonished by this.

Yesterday was another revelation that my last couple of weigh-ins weren't just some weird fluke. I went to the Gap Outlet. I needed some summer clothes that I could wear to work. Most of my capris were size 14 and they were getting very big. The outlet store sells basics, nothing especially stylish, but you can get some good deals on things like khakis and capris. In everything I tried on, I was consistently able to put on and zip a size 10, though in some styles the clothes were too tight to actually wear. I spent about $140 on pants, capris, and a couple of t-shirts. The pants and capris were all size 10 or 12, and the t-shirts were mediums.

This morning, I accidentally grabbed a pair of my husband's size 32 jeans. They actually went on and zipped and looked pretty good. I know to most people this wouldn't seem like an accomplishment, but since men's jeans aren't really designed for hips and thighs like mine, it seemed incredible to me. I still see myself as so much larger than my husband.

I hope I don't sound like I'm bragging, it's just nice to see results after such a long time of trying. I really need to work maintenance this time around so that I actually stay here this time instead of visiting for a short while.

Friday, May 18, 2007

tag, I'm It

Eek, I've been tagged by Lori (that's her kitty, Flynn, to the left) for a little game:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So, eight random facts about me:

  • I can do mirror-writing in cursive. I learned to do it in school when I was bored. I had to stop doing it because my teachers thought I was dyslexic.
  • When I get to a hotel room, I like to completely unpack my suitcase, even if I'm just there for one night. I am probably one of the few people who actually uses the drawers in hotel dressers.
  • I like odd numbers better than even ones.
  • The funniest things I read recently were these analyses of the advantages and disadvantages of potential Democratic nominees and the potential Republican nominees for president in 2008. The Five Stages of Grief According to Ann Coulter piece was funny too.
  • The first computer I ever used was a VIC 20. It was 1980, and I was ten years old. I was at my cousin's house and stayed up all night learning how to program in BASIC on it. I credit that experience with my lifelong interest in computers and technology.
  • I have never had a broken bone and until a few years ago, had never had a cavity.
  • The first album I bought with my own money was Pat Benatar's Crimes of Passion.
  • I've never been to California.
I'll tag , , , , , , , and . Thanks for commenting on my blog, and I promise, my feelings won't be hurt if you don't want to play the game.


Thanks for all the kind comments and emails about my last post. It's funny that blogging about your irrational thoughts both helps you get them out where you can evaluate them more critically, and also sort of preserves them for a while. I think that Cindy is right -- most of the time I am happy with the choices I've made, but I doubt myself sometimes and tend to forget that it's normal to do so. I have been extra cranky lately because my laptop was in the shop. It's fixed now, and that should make things easier, both for working (my dissertation software and data is stored on my laptop, but of course I have multiple backups) and for playing (my husband and I won't have to take turns on our other computer).

My first week maintaining has been sort of a mixed bag. I had a couple of restaurant meals, which always makes it harder to stay within my points. Last night my husband was not feeling great and wanted to order Chinese food -- the spicy stuff does help clear out your head when you have a cold. I have been ordering an extra portion of steamed broccoli when we order in, so that I can fill up without using up dozens of points. I should have done without the egg roll that my Inner Brat insisted on, because it really didn't taste as great as I thought it would. I'll have to keep that in mind next time.

So far, I have just 6 Weekly Allowance Points left for the weekend, but I'm planning to get in some workouts this weekend to give me a little wiggle room to avoid blowing my first maintenance weigh-in. I started the Couch to 5K program a couple of weeks ago, and so far, my various injury problems of the past are staying in the past. I think the running is the secret to my recent weigh-in successes, and I really hope that I can keep it up without problems. That will make maintaining a lot easier. As of yet, the bike and the swimsuit are still collecting dust. Phase Two will be to start using them again in between the runs.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

being happy with my choices

I am one of those people who has a standard order, "the usual," at all my favorite restaurants. That's because it takes me such a long time to order at a new restaurant. I'll scan the menu over and over, making sure that I get the absolute best thing out of the options available. And then I'll still look at what someone else ordered and think, "I should have gotten that instead."

I feel like I'm doing that in my personal life as well. I made a decision to go to graduate school. I made the decision last year to quit my job so that I could focus more on my dissertation. I made these decisions knowing that the job search could be disappointing. My husband and I talked about it and decided that we could live with the possible consequences of this decision. I have been making good progress on my dissertation, and feel confident that I will finish it this summer and be ready to defend in early fall. I have heard enough through the grapevine to know that if I had stayed at my old job, I would never have been as far along as I am right now. The decision was the right one. But now I'm really worried.
Why do I feel like such a loser? I started working when I was 16 and have only had one short, 6 month period where I wasn't either working or going to school full-time. That was also the time in my life when I was the most miserable. (It was also, not coincidentally, when I gained a lot of the weight I put on after college.) It makes me so scared and sad to think about the possibility that when my assistantship ends this summer, I could be adrift again.

I know there is also an element of buyer's remorse, too. My husband was telling me this weekend that, "One of the hardest things to do is to let people be happy in their way and not yours." For me, the converse is also true: It is hard for me to let myself be happy in my way instead of thinking I should be happy in someone else's way. I visited some friends recently who have the typical American Dream setup: Two good incomes, big house in the suburbs, two expensive cars, nice furniture. I don't want most of that stuff for myself -- I actually love my 9-year-old car and don't like the suburbs or making big payments on stuff. But part of me feels like I am a loser for not having that stuff, even though I probably had the option to do all that if it was what I wanted. Going for a Ph.D. closed that door for me, at least for a while. I have to realize that I can be happy in my own way and not worry so much about whether I'm getting behind in whatever game I seem to think we're playing.

we get mail

I get emails now and then asking me to promote this product or blog about some specific topic. Normally I just delete them. I'm not interested in helping people sell their weight-loss gimmicks or in publicizing some issue that doesn't really interest me. But I thought I'd share this one with you:
It is clear from reading your blog on weight control, that you are concerned about women’s health. I wanted to let you know about the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s (NHLBI) Healthy Heart Handbook for Women 20th Anniversary Edition. The Handbook is one of the key educational materials for The Heart Truth, NHLBI’s national campaign for women about heart disease. Would you consider commenting on or linking to the Handbook?

The Handbook is packed with the latest information on preventing and controlling the risk factors for heart disease – the #1 killer of women. It’s the most up-to-date information on heart health in one easy-to-use guide. The 122-page full-color booklet offers practical suggestions for reducing the risk of heart-related problems as well as describes the warning signs of heart attack and how to get help quickly. This special anniversary edition also features a welcome letter from First Lady Laura Bush, The Heart Truth’s ambassador. The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women can be downloaded online and print copies are offered at special promotional pricing in honor of Mother’s Day through May 31, 2007. Ordering information for the Handbook is available at: Information about The Heart Truth Campaign can be found at:
One of my many motivations for wanting to lose weight is because heart disease and diabetes run in my family, and I know that healthy weight loss can help me avoid those conditions. So I'm glad to do a little promotion for a good cause. You can view the handbook online at

Here's to your health.

Monday, May 14, 2007

snuck into my maintenance range

Weight Chart

Amazing. I had a couple of parties last week and was sure I'd see a bump up, but instead I had a big two-pound loss, putting me into free territory (my leader said she will bring a refund form for me next week) and my maintenance range.

I haven't done the maintenance program in the Turnaround program before. When I lost my weight the first time around and made Lifetime, it was still Winning Points. I have actually sort of reverted to a Winning-Points-style plan by divvying up the troublesome weekly points so that I get 25 a day, my old WP range. Now, in maintenance, I actually get 25 per day plus the 35 weekly points. I am going to try to stick to the 25 during the week to give myself some breathing space for weekend picnics and cookouts. I feel like if I put some thought into this, maintaining shouldn't be so hard this time around.

One disappointment: I feel a little chubbier at goal (or near it) than I did last time around. I was exercising a lot more before, and probably had a better body-fat-to-muscle ratio. So even though I'm going to try to maintain at this weight, I'm going to focus on getting fitter. Now that the weather is nicer and I'm on a summer schedule, I don't really have an excuse for not getting exercise. Today I spent a couple of hours planting flowers and spreading mulch in addition to my planned workouts. That kind of workout does triple-duty by making me happy, making my home more attractive, and helping me maintain my weight.

I still feel a little stunned. I never expected to be here this week.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

catching up

I got busy and haven't been online much. Also, my laptop is in the shop, which means my husband and I have to share one computer. Luckily, all my dissertation data was backed up multiple times and I've verified that it is okay.

Thanks for all the comments on the swimsuit. I didn't actually end up wearing it yet. The weather has been too chilly for swimming, so I can't tell you how the suit did. I am still happy that I bought it, even though it will have to wait a little longer to make its debut.

I have attended two parties in two days, and I overdid it at both. I'm a little nervous about weigh-in this week. I had such a good loss last week and I'm afraid this time around I've set myself up for a gain. I haven't cracked the Beck book in three or four days. I think I'm going to pick back up where I left off, rather than trying to skip ahead.

I got a lot of compliments on my weight loss today, even though I've only lost 5-10 pounds at most since most of the people had seen me. I don't know if it was just the clothes I was wearing or if I really do look different. It was nice to hear, anyway.

I'm going to weigh in tomorrow instead of Tuesday, because my husband and I are going to both take a day off work next week and do a little daytripping. I'll report back after the meeting and let you all know how I did.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

everyone's favorite shopping experience

I finally did it. I bought a new bathing suit. My last new suit was at least two years ago, not counting athletic suits for real swimming. Those can be as ugly as they want to be, since I am there to get a workout. I'm talking about the kind you wear to the beach (shudder) or a backyard pool party.

I had been putting off the new suit for a long time for a couple of reasons. Bathing suits are expensive, and I have a couple that are OK, even though they're a little bit big. Even though I spend a lot of time at my parents' pool, the people who see me there know what I look like and the suits I have are good enough for chatting with them while reading O, the Oprah Magazine and trying to get that tan that I know is bad for me.

I also really wasn't excited about the idea of a new suit if it wasn't going to be the "itsy bitsy teeny weeny" kind of suit that my irrational self imagined I would both be able to look good in when I got to my goal weight (ha!) and that I would have the confidence to wear (double ha!) . I have been to goal weight before, and I don't have a swimsuit model's body hiding under this flab. I still have cellulite and all the normal-woman body issues. And the two or three times that I was hundreds of miles from everyone I know and did wear a bikini, I felt so weird and self-conscious that I wrapped up in my towel when anyone came near me.

So, what prompted the sudden change of heart? I have a pool party coming up with people I know casually from work, and I left all my "sort of OK" suits at my parents' house, since that's where the pool is. The only suits I had here are the ugly athletic kind and the bikini that I can't wear even when I don't know the people lazing around on the towel next to me.

The first trip, last night, I confined myself to our woeful local shopping options. There were two or three suits I was willing to try, and I couldn't figure out why I looked so bad in the mirror at first. Turns out that the suit I was trying on was too big. I didn't find anything worth the $60-70 that, even on sale, I was going to have to spend, so I gave up.

Today I ventured a little further, though I was not quite up to going to the mall. I tried Kohl's and laughed in the face at their "5 items at a time" dressing room policy and took about 20 pieces (everything is sold as separates now) in with me. It was a bust. Actually, it was my bust -- it seemed determined to defy all of the suits I tried on, except one two-piece athletic-style suit that was too small. They didn't have the size I needed.

I decided to try Dick's Sporting Goods. They had some really cute tankini separates on sale. I like the separates because I usually need a larger size on bottom than on top. Today was no exception. I got a cute suit, size 10 on the top and 12 on the bottom, that fits fine, keeps everything decently covered, and is actually kind of fun. Each piece was only $14.95 on sale, which would have been an exciting savings if I hadn't found a pair of shorts and a t-shirt that I just had to have, bringing the grand total to $63, about what I had expected to spend.

Sorry, no pictures. I'm not that brave!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the 150s at last!

Weight Chart

I was pretty sure I'd make it into the 150s today but I didn't want to take it for granted. I did all the usual pre-weigh-in rituals: Stopped eating by 7 a.m., wore my lightest clothes, etc. I surprised myself by shooting right past the 159 mark into 158 territory.

I was really focused this week and I know that following the Beck Diet Solution strategies helped a lot. I need to keep that focus, because as my leader reminded me today, I'm within spitting distance of not having to pay for meetings anymore.

The tasks for yesterday and today involved scheduling and exercise, and in the last couple of days, I've blocked out a rough workout plan. I decided to use the Couch to 5K program as a gentle way to get back into running. A lot of other weight-loss bloggers, including Alicia, use this program as a way to start a running program, and I've been away from running long enough that I feel like a newbie runner. I also have a plan I got from a trainer a few years ago that I'm going to use for strength training, and I'll keep going to yoga class to stay flexible.

I have been going around with this picture of myself in my head as really huge, even though I'm getting close to my weight goal. I have this sense of my weight goal as a cop-out because it's the highest weight goal allowed for my height. So I tell myself that even when I get to goal, I'll still be pretty large. I caught a glimpse of myself in yoga class yesterday and realized that this image of myself is really out of whack with reality. I look, if I can dare to say it, pretty good.

I've been wasting a lot of time being hard on myself in other areas of my life too. I haven't found a job yet, my dissertation's not done, and I'm spending a lot of time worrying about it. I need to worry less and work more.

I am using the kitchen timer trick on my dissertation, figuring that the only way through this thing is a little at a time. I was doing 40 minutes on, 20 minute breaks, but even that was too intimidating, so now I'm doing 30 on and 30 off. Little by little, I'm going to chip away at this thing. Until then, I'm going to stop spending so much time looking at job postings. I can find something to get through the next few months, even if it isn't my Dream Job. I could do web consulting or part-time teaching, or I could even get a Joe Job for a while if nothing better materializes. If anything fabulous falls in my lap, you all will be the first to know.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

arranging my environment for success

photo by

Day 7 of The Beck Diet Solution calls for arranging your environment to remove temptations and to make it easier to eat the kinds of foods your plan suggests. I didn't just fall up the turnip wagon on this dieting thing, so my kitchen is fairly free of the big saboteurs: anything made by Frito Lay, cookies, candy.

I do have a few indulgences I allow myself: a really good brand of blue corn tortilla chips, hummus, nuts. There is one sleeve of Ritz crackers still in the cupboard, but I think as long as I don't open it, I shouldn't be sabotaged by it. The main thing that I need to do tonight is to go through and straighten up my cupboards and fridge.

I spent a couple of hours today cleaning and decluttering the rest of the house because I may have company today, but the refrigerator and cupboards are hidden from view and were a low-priority to-do-list item until later. For me, a messy house is a big trigger for not only overeating but laziness in general, so I feel like my spring-cleaned house will help me succeed. Plus, with Weight Watchers, I can earn activity points for cleaning. I am counting it as two hours of light activity, which is 5 points.

I am going to need those points because I'm going to visit my sister today and will be faced with some of the foods that I have banished from my house. It's a birthday celebration, and I plan to have a reasonable lunch and a small piece of cake. I have 18 points left for the day and can fit that into my plan. I also made sure to have a healthy snack -- some raw veggies and some hummus -- because I didn't want to arrive starved and it might be a challenge to eat my vegetables today, knowing my family's meat-and-potatoes orientation.

I have had a very good week so far. Yesterday I ended up going over my daily points target by 6, but as I explained in an earlier post, I have a few squirreled away for just such occasions. Out of that 14-point reserve, I have now used 8, and I have 6 left in case things get a little out of hand today. I really don't think it should, though. I have prepared for the situation, and I can always have a lighter dinner tonight if I need to.

I'm glad I haven't gotten to the part of this plan that suggests working out your food ahead of time yet. I know that will be a big challenge for me.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

feeling Springy on days 5 and 6

Spring is a much easier time of year to be working on weight loss. The longer hours of daylight give me so much more time to do things outside, and the warmer weather makes me want to be out playing in the yard. Plus, the sunshine just makes me happier. In the winter, I just want to be huddled on the couch under an afghan after I get home from work.

Warmer weather also makes healthy foods more appealing. I bought some large pitas (two points each) from a Mediterranean market and have done a couple of fun sandwich things with them. Yesterday I chopped up some grilled chicken that we had left over along with some tomatoes, lettuce, roasted red pepper, and some basil. I spread the pita with about a tablespoon of hummus, put on the toppings and rolled it all together. I used about 2 ounces of chicken so it was a really good sandwich for five points. Today I didn't have any lettuce, but I had the brilliant idea to use the same toppings and add 1 ounce of part-skim mozzerella and grill it in the George Foreman for 5 minutes. It tasted sort of like pizza for 6 points.

I slipped a little with the Beck plan yesterday and today. I was well within my points yesterday, but I didn't really focus on eating slowly and mindfully. I don't think that I eat fast, but the point was to pay attention and I didn't really, though I really enjoyed my sandwich. Today's task, finding a diet coach, is already part of the Weight Watchers plan.

It's easy to forget things like reading my index cards and doing the checklist at night. I had planned to read the cards after breakfast and dinner and do the checklist at the end of the night, but as my weekend got busier, I just didn't really think about it.

I did have a real victory yesterday, though. I went to a party and helped cut the cake. It looked and smelled pretty good, but I wasn't really hungry. When I sat down, I was pretty far away from the food and was involved with talking to a friend. Another friend asked if I wanted them to get me a piece of cake. I thought about it, and I really didn't want any, so I just said, "No thanks." That might sound like a tiny thing, but to spend that much time handling the food and not be tempted to have any, even though I had some points left over, was a pretty big deal to me. Definitely worth a gold star.

So far, the week is really going well. I'm hoping to get into the 150s on Tuesday.

Friday, May 04, 2007

day 4, giving myself credit

I'm not sure I'll keep up with the daily Beck Diet updates, but it really has helped me focus a little more so far. Yesterday I was supposed to give myself credit. I found some sticky stars and put a star on each day this week that I stayed within my Weight Watchers points. I have a little pocket in my journal where I'm keeping my index cards and I put the sheet of stickers in there. I figure I can also use them for when I do something else that deserves credit, like resisting a really strong temptation.

I am doing Weight Watchers a little differently, more similar to the old Winning Points system. My "tweak" is still totally within the system as written, it's just divvying up the weekly allowance points differently. I never did well with the Flex system, because with the weekly allowance points, it's possible to mess up your whole week by eating them all on Monday (I've done it many times) and are stuck with a measly 22 points per day (in my case) for the rest of the week. In the old Winning Points system, I got 20-25 points per day, and I almost always topped out at 25. So I am using 3 of those weekly allowance points for every day to boost my daily target to 25, and holding the other 14 weekly allowance points in case of extreme need only. This is in addition to any activity points I earn.

Yesterday I was very hungry about 4 hours after dinner and had no points left, so I used 2 points for popcorn out of my emergency stash. I am going to give myself credit for keeping it to that 2 points, instead of thinking, "Oh, I'm going over my points. I might as well have _____________ since I've blown it anyway" (filling in way too much food in that blank). Gold star for me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

brief day 3 update

So the task for Day 3 on the Beck Diet plan is to always eat sitting down. I thought, "OK, this is an easy one." I don't normally eat standing up. But then my boss offered me my favorite kind of candy, and I ate it standing up. Oops.

Other than that, it was a good day and I stayed within my points.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

feedback, not failure

Weight Chart

I was up a little, which is disappointing but not a big surprise. I had various things come up and let them interfere with following my program. Anyway, it's feedback, not failure. Do I sound like a Weight Watchers drone yet?

Today was the first week of my new Weight Watchers @ Work session, so my leader went over program again. It never hurts to review the basics, especially those Good Health Guidelines that many of us find so easy to forget about. I'm lactose intolerant, so I'm not a big fan of the 2-3 daily dairy servings. I often miss those, but otherwise I follow the program closely.

Today is Day 2 for me in the Beck Diet program. The task for today was easy for me: Find two diet plans, a primary plan and a backup in case the first one doesn't work. Since Weight Watchers has two plans, I'll just use Flex as my primary and Core as my backup plan. I know that Flex works well for me when I actually follow it, and I'm thinking of trying Core when I am maintaining and have a few extra weekly allowance points to play with.

I am absolutely determined to get this last seven pounds off in the twelve weeks of my current @ Work program. I think that's doable, especially in the summer, which usually offers a lot more opportunities for outdoor activity.

So, goals for the summer are:
  1. A complete first draft of my dissertation
  2. Get to weight goal and stay there
  3. Find some way to contribute financially to my household income in the fall, even if it's not a full-time job
Yes, of course the dissertation is my number-one goal. How crazy do you think I am?
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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07