Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I did this week: March 24-March 30

I got my replacement Jawbone UP -- they have wonderful customer service.  I am glad to be counting steps again. It showed up on Tuesday.

The early part of the week was rough. My husband had a job interview for a job he had been thinking and talking about all year. He didn't get it, and the way he didn't get it was pretty insulting. He decided that he was probably better off after all but it was still a rough ride for me for the first few days.

We decided that we need to start investing more of our mental energy outside of work, as work has been particularly frustrating and unfulfilling for both of us lately. We have both felt a little underappreciated. We both work very hard, and will continue to, but we are not going to continue to take on as many extra projects because they have not seemed to get us anywhere.  We're both going to look for ways to have more fun together.

Workouts for the week:

Monday: No workout in the morning, walked with my husband in the afternoon.
Tuesday: Spin class was terrific -- the instructor had a special CD she made of all covers, and we had to guess the original artist and the artist on her CD. I was in a rough mood and having something like this to distract me while working out was great. Went for a walk with my husband in the afternoon.
Wednesday: Walked in the park.
Thursday: Ran 4 10-minute intervals, with 1-minute walks in between and 5 minutes walking warmup and cool down.
Friday: Ran 20 minutes with 5 minutes warmup and cool down.
Saturday: Pilates Circuit class
Sunday: Master's swim class.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Podcast alert: Lifestyle Accountability Show

I know I blogged about this before but I can't find the post. I did my interview for the Lifestyle Accountability Show a couple of weeks ago, and the show will be aired April 1 or April 2 if you're interested.

I'm afraid I might not have managed to make a coherent narrative out of my story -- the problem is that this whole weight-loss thing has stretched out so long that it doesn't fit neatly into a before-during-after story.  Especially since I have had several losses and regains.  I am still waiting for the moment where this all feels like a success. I am hoping that it came out okay.

I think I can count myself as a successful loser/maintainer even though I am not at my ultimate goal. I can tell you that I feel much better as an active person bouncing around the 180-pound mark than I did as a sedentary 215-or-whatever with a mostly-starch diet.  I never did weigh myself at my highest weight and I have destroyed most of the photographic evidence, but I know I felt terrible.  They say that maintenance is successfully keeping off at least 30 pounds for more than a year, and I have definitely done that.

After my interview with Adam, I did have to ask him how he manages to release a podcast EVERY DAY. That's crazy.  He said that he sometimes agrees with me. I'm looking forward to meeting him at Fitbloggin' and attending his podcasting session. I have daydreamed about doing a podcast of my own here and there, but I need to know more to see if it would be realistic.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Disorganized eating: What am I thinking?

I was feeling so much better when I was following the plan and eating on a schedule with the right kinds of foods.  So why do I ever let my eating get disorganized?  In The Beck Diet, one of the more useful tools was the question about "What was the thought that preceded the action?"  I thought I'd share some of the thoughts that allow my eating to get disorganized, and some of my answers for them, in case any of you are having the same kinds of unhelpful thoughts.

The funny thing is that my body really punishes me for missing meals -- especially with headaches -- so it would seem that I really would be motivated to stick to a schedule.  Here are some of the thoughts that get in the way:

Thought: "You aren't wasting away. You should be able to miss a meal or especially a snack without it being such a big deal."
Answer: Being thoughtful and organized will help me reach my weight goals. 

Thought: "I want to wait for _____. Waiting a little longer shouldn't matter."
Answer: Having a healthy snack now is probably going to make _____ more enjoyable anyway, and allow you to make better choices.  

Thought: "No one should have to think about food this much."
Answer: It really doesn't take that much time to be organized.  It's definitely worth it to feel better.

Thought: "I missed recording a couple of meals and now I'm afraid I won't be able to track accurately. I might as well wait until tomorrow and start recording again then."
Answer: Imperfectly recording them is a lot better than not recording at all.  Especially if you use not recording as an opportunity to get sloppy with portions or food choices.

Thought: "All this recording and planning is a drag."
Answer: So is not reaching my weight goals. So is having a headache because you made bad choices.

So this is a little look inside my head. Kind of a creepy place, isn't it?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What I did this week: March 17-23

Cherry Velvet dress from Gwynnie Bee
This was a busy week.  I finished up my in-person classes and grades for the term, and had a lot of meetings with students. Wednesday I went out of town for a speaking engagement almost 3 hours away -- drove there Wednesday and back Thursday morning. Friday was the bad day I already described.

Saturday was a date night out -- movie first, then dinner.  We saw "Monuments Men," which was okay but not terrific. It didn't live up to its story -- it was basically a buddy movie with a bunch of aging actors, and the seriousness of the subject matter really only came through in flashes.  The restaurant was much better -- a gastropub that does fancied-up comfort food. I followed the advice from The Diet Fix to enjoy as little as possible to feel satisfied, and had enough of my entree left over to split with my husband for dinner tonight. I wore the vintage-style dress pictured at left and felt appropriately dressed for the kind of hipster hangout that it seemed to be.

Today I got to spend some time with my very cute nephew, who just turned two and is getting big very fast. His favorite words are "Mine!" and "No!"


Monday: 20 minutes running, 10 minutes walking in the morning
Tuesday: 50 minutes of Spinning in the morning
Wednesday: 30 minutes running, 10 minutes walking in the morning
Thursday: 20 minutes walking in the evening
Friday: 20 minutes walking  in the evening
Saturday: 1 hour Pilates in the morning, 15 minutes walking  in the evening
Sunday: 20 minutes running, 10 minutes walking in the morning, 1 hour swimming in the evening

I've decided to make 20 minutes walking my minimum daily exercise, for the "nothing-goes-right" days. On good days, I want to shoot for two workouts a day, even if the second workout is just a walk around the neighborhood.

I'm starting to get "You look like you are losing weight," comments from people. I was down a couple of pounds on Wednesday.  In Pilates class on Saturday, it did seem like I could see a difference in the mirrors, especially in my thighs and waistline.  I'm just surprised that a couple of pounds could make a visible difference.  I'm not going to spend a lot of time worrying about that, as I'd rather just keep working on my food and exercise and let the results take care of themselves.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Organized vs. disorganized eating

One of the big concepts from The Diet Fix is the importance of organized eating.  That is why there are minimum calories and protein for snacks and meals, but not maximums.

Yesterday was a disorganized eating day. I had a plan to go to work, have lunch with colleagues, leave a little early, stop at the grocery store, go for a run, and take my care to the mechanic, then go home to dinner with my husband, who was going to cook for me.

Instead, I took a coworker to the emergency room, grabbed a quick chicken salad on the way out for lunch, was still hungry so I got some crackers out of the vending machine, waited for three hours until my friend was released, still had to take the car to the mechanic, and came home to see my husband just starting dinner.

I was cranky, headachy, felt frustrated that I missed my workout, and frustrated that dinner wasn't ready.  If I had been able to eat meals and snacks on time, I wouldn't have been nearly so upset to find no dinner at home.

I was glad, of course, that I had taken the coworker to the emergency room, because it was the right thing to do, but I was unhappy that I felt so lousy, missed a beautiful day for a run, and had a dumb, unnecessary fight with my husband about the fact that he always seems to add a half an hour to my arrival time even when I am being totally accurate about when I'd be home.

I couldn't seem to feel satisfied with dinner and even my usual standby I-need-volume snack of air-popped popcorn didn't help.  I felt pretty bad all night.

I just ordered a bunch of Quest bars to keep in my desk and in my car for emergency snacking. They have 20 grams of protein, lots of fiber, and are low in sugar, and better yet, they don't have that usual gritty, chalky protein-bar flavor.  Real food is better, but these are good in a pinch.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tips for making a Gwynnie Bee subscription work for you

Note: This is an unsolicited post. I do include affiliate links to Gwynnie Bee (like that one) in the post. I have written several other posts on Gwynnie Bee if you want to learn more about the service.

I usually read the reviews of garments on Gwynnie Bee before putting them into my virtual closet to see how the clothing will fit. Most of the time I find them very helpful. Some garments fit oddly or just work better with certain body types or shapes than others.  Some items are much more flattering than they look in their pictures and others are less.  But a few of the unhappy comments make me think that the commenters weren't prepared with a few things that help make the service work better:

  • Measurements: This is by far the most important thing.  I have been measuring myself as a gauge of my weight-loss progress, but they have remained stable enough that I have them memorized. I always, always look at the size chart when there is one available (unfortunately, there isn't always one available) and choose the size based on my measurements and not on the size I usually wear.   
  • Slips and camis: I LOVE Kiyonna dresses (see pictures below) but they are often very low-cut. Other wrap dresses often are low-cut or tend to gap at the hem. Wearing a pretty, plain-colored slip helps avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.  I have one in black, one in white, and one in nude.
  • Shapewear: That teal dress above was going to show every lump and bump, so I wore it with a girdle. It may feel old-fashioned, but a lot of clothes just look better with a smooth foundation.  
  • Tights and boots: I wore a lot more dresses this winter than I used to. Black tights and boots worked for all but the worst of it this year.
  • Cardigans and jackets: A lot of the dresses have bold prints that just needed to be toned down a bit.  Having some basic jackets and neutral-colored cardigans helps.

  • Belts: The belt in the picture on the left above is mine, it didn't come with the dress. I have worn it with several of the items I have gotten from GB to add waist definition.
  • Some kind of self-photographing setup: It's fun to share pictures of the clothes.  But I don't really have a great way to take pictures of myself.  I would like to have some kind of iPhone tripod, if there is such a thing.  My husband isn't always thrilled to take a bunch of pictures, let me sort through them, and then take a bunch more. 

I think the final thing that you need to make this work is a spirit of adventure. Try things you wouldn't normally like and be willing to send something back right away if it doesn't work.  I know where all the mailboxes in my local area are.  I just sent back a dress today that I hadn't worn because it wasn't terrific on me.  Sure, it means I have to wait a little longer, but I try to time my mailing so I have at least one garment in my closet and one on the way.

Want to try for yourself? Learn more here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday weigh-in, and some reflections on The Diet Fix


I'm not surprised to see a loss today -- I was pretty sure that Monday's weigh-in was higher than it should be.  What does surprise me, as I listen to the audio version of The Diet Fix, is the stubborn hold the negative attitudes that this book seeks to fix have on me. 

In some ways, I was treating this as just a new diet, not a fix. I expected to see some kind of miracle that was going to fix my weight. What really needs to be fixed is the attitude that had me judging the success of this 10-day change by a number on the scale. But it's so easy to do, because this is one book, but most of the other cues around me are saying, "hurry up and get thin by swimsuit season."  I did the tasks, but I didn't really feel the shift in attitude develop that I had hoped for.  I think something like that is going to take time. 

I also realize how much better I absorb certain content by listening than by reading. I got a lot out of the book the first time around, but when I'm listening to an audiobook, even if I am doing a task like folding laundry, the content really seems to sink in emotionally.  I realized that I was trying hard to hit the minimums for meals and snacks and had completely ignored or not really believed that I was supposed to eat more if I was still hungry.  I didn't want to, because I wanted a weight loss even more than I wanted a healthier attitude.  There was definitely a big sense of relief when I read the book the first time and thought that I didn't have to carry this negativity around forever, but part of me feels afraid to let it go.  

I think it's going to be a process that takes time.  

I'm going to keep practicing what I learned with meals and snacks, and try more of the recipes in the book.  I plan to go through the ten days again, with an attempt to really absorb the lessons. Don't worry, I won't go through a whole new set of Diet Fix posts, but I will keep you posted on any interesting insights I have along the way. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Ten: Troubleshoot

 If you were hoping to see movement on the scale (I was, until yesterday) during the Diet Fix, I have good news and bad news. There was a little movement -- I'm up a little less than a pound and my husband is up a little more than a pound. Not quite what either of us were hoping for.  I think if we had weighed in on Friday morning, before "Indulge," "Eat Out," and my own variation of yesterday, "Stress Out," things might have been a little different.  I was definitely feeling lighter toward midweek. And it might be different if I weigh in later this week, since my measurements are up a little, the body fat percentage on my scale is down a lot, and my weight is only up a little -- in my experience, weight being up and body fat measuring way down suggest water weight gain, and the fact that the measurements are up too would confirm that I'm a little puffy -- my rings are tighter this morning too.  Monday weigh-ins have never been great for me -- Wednesday is a better day. 

Today is about troubleshooting, so I will reflect on what I have learned: You can't put me in a tiny house with a lot of family members, even more food, and a cake and expect a great outcome. That's how yesterday went.  I love my family, but sometimes they stress me out. I don't want to go into details, but I worry about the people in my life and it doesn't help them or me.  I want to be able to enjoy family gatherings without guilt, but there is a difference between enjoying the food and using it as a distraction from uncomfortable feelings.  This party took me by surprise -- I forgot to put it in my calendar -- or I would have had my real lunch before I went.

As I look back on the week, some of the things in the Diet Fix were already part of my life.  I already prepare most of my meals at home. I have always been a cook and I honestly like the food I make at home better than most restaurant food most of the time.  I had already been using a food diary and recording everything, no judgment.  I had already been exercising most days of the week.  I had already eliminated milk, juice, and sugary sodas.  I already ate breakfast every day, first thing. 

Some of the recommendations really made a difference. Eating by the clock does work for me, since I know that when I get too hungry, I make bad decisions.  Upping the protein in my meals and snacks has made me feel more satisfied.  

There are definitely recommendations that I can use to move things in a better direction.  I had two glasses of wine during the Diet Fix, and would have been satisfied with dropping one of them and maybe not finishing the second one.  I can continue to cut "healthy" processed foods -- they have a way of sneaking in, because they are easy. I have room to do more exercise.  I can take the recommendation to have the "smallest amount that will make me happy" of indulgences a lot further. 

And since the whole point of this exercise is to learn not to berate myself, I won't.  I bought the audio version of this book so that I can listen and continue to learn, tweak, and incorporate the strategies in it.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Nine: Visualize

Today's task was another one that was a little harder to get my hands around, like the Think day.  It's not that I am not used to visualizing, it was just that visualizing the kinds of tasks that I was asked to visualize: Immediately logging my food right after I eat it, etc., were kind of boring.  I know they are good habits and crucial to success, but visualizing myself tapping on my phone... not so exciting. I think these chapters would have worked better if the prompts were a little more open-ended. 

One thing that is easier to visualize is being proactive and having things planned out and ready, so that I don't get caught hungry and make terrible decisions. We planned our meals for the week yesterday, and I went out to restock the kitchen this morning.  I put the beans for tomorrow night's soup in to soak.  

I bought a few Quest bars because they have 20 grams of protein and a clean list of ingredients. They were a sponsor at Fitbloggin '13, and unfortunately then I was anti-protein-bar, so I didn't try them. I'm hoping they will come back for Fibloggin '14, because I won't make that mistake again.  The one I had today was amazingly fudgy and only had one gram of sugar in the whole bar. I split the bar with my husband for a snack, and had it with a small apple to meet the minimum calories. If the other three are as good as this one, I'm going to make sure to have them with me when I'm teaching in the evenings. 

I'm glad I had that snack, because this afternoon was a very chaotic family party with tempting food. I did better than I usually do but it was still a little rough. I know it would have been worse if I had gone on an empty stomach. I missed my workout today too, because my sister got a flat tire on the way home thanks to Toledo's wonderful potholes, and I went with my mom to try to help her find a place to get it repaired on a Sunday (no luck). 

I think I'm going to start doing something Sunday morning as insurance, because getting to that evening swim can get tricky sometimes. That's something to visualize. 

I'm getting close to the end of The Diet Fix.  Tomorrow is the big weigh-in.  Stay tuned.

What I did this week: March 10-16

Tried to take a picture of the refineries on Toledo's East Side while stopped at a traffic light.  They don't show up in the photo like they do in real life -- the lights and the steam always make me think of The Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz. There's a great view from the new high bridge, but of course I can't take a picture while driving over that.
I'm having some problems with my Jawbone UP this week, trying to work it out with support. Therefore, no step counts for the end of the week.

Monday: Ran 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes each warmup/cooldown walk
Tuesday: Walked, got more than 11,000 steps (Jawbone UP was still working)
Wednesday: Snowed in AGAIN.  Shoveled for 25 minutes.
Thursday: Ran 20 minutes, plus 5 minutes each warmup/cooldown walk. 
Friday: Spin class. Did a walk in the evening.
Saturday: Pilates class. Went out to dinner early and went for a walk afterward.
Sunday: No workout. Helped a family member with a flat tire. Toledo's potholes are ridiculous.

I miss my Jawbone UP and I'm hoping to get it repaired or replaced. This is the second time I have had battery problems. If you are going to get one, I'd recommend getting the new version, in the hopes that it might last a little longer. But keep the receipt, just in case.

The Diet Fix Day Eight: Eat Out

Be sure to check out my other posts on The Diet Fix.

Last night our task was to go out for dinner.  Dr. Freedhoff has some great thoughts on dining out. Though "every day that you're eating a meal out is a day that you're not likely to lose weight," he still thinks that it is okay to go to a restaurant for a social occasion or for work.  The thing he says to avoid is going out to eat (and probably by extension, ordering carryout) because you are feeling too lazy to cook.

I have come to that conclusion a lot of times myself, especially when we decide to go out because we are in a bad mood and don't want to fuss with cooking, and then the restaurant is too busy, has bad service, or is otherwise more trouble than it was worth. Those days are the days where it would have been better to make a sandwich or some scrambled eggs at home. I find that planning meals ahead and having the ingredients in the house gets rid of 90% of the temptation not to cook. The other thing that is great is that when we are cooking regularly and have leftovers, those can become "emergency meals." Dr. Freedhoff advises buying some healthy frozen dinners to cover this need, but I don't like frozen dinners, other than frozen pizza which doesn't seem to fit the bill.

Dr. Freedhoff warns that the calories posted on restaurant websites, though useful, are often wrong, and usually in the direction of having fewer calories than actually posted.  Personally, I would rather go to the kind of restaurant that doesn't have calories on its website, because I'd rather go to small, local places than national chains.

Some other tips are the kind that you would hear anywhere -- have a snack before going so you aren't too hungry to make good choices, be careful with alcohol, etc. His directive was to "order the lowest-calorie item on the menu that you think you'll actually enjoy."

We went to Dégagé Jazz Café, a great restaurant with a menu that changes seasonally.  I had tried to look at the menu but the version I found on the web was not the right season.  We skipped the appetizer and I had a salad with salmon. I stole a couple of my husband's fries. There was no breadbasket.  I had one glass of wine and we split a dessert and had some coffee.  I felt very happy with my choices and the amount of food I had.

The one thing that was annoying was that there was a huge TV right in my peripheral vision. Worse, it was showing Fox News. I kept getting distracted by the constant motion on the screen. I thought about asking if it could be turned off, since no one seemed to be watching it, but I didn't -- it really seemed out of place since we were sitting in the dining room and not a sports bar. I personally would love to support restaurants that advertised themselves as "Screen-Free Zones." Next time, I'll ask for a table where I can't see it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Seven: Indulge

Very few diet books have a prescription to indulge, but that is exactly what this one has. Dr. Freedhoff says he routinely writes prescriptions in his practice for chocolate, chips, ice cream, and other indulgent foods.

Why? "Ultimately, dieting can't be about denying yourself the foods you enjoy." He says that dieters who forbid their favorite foods will eventually succumb to temptation, and then feel guilty and hopeless.

Instead, he recommends smart indulgences. That means that you do your best to be on point for the rest of the day -- you have your regular meals and snacks, you do your "toothbrush level" of exercise, and otherwise set yourself up to feel successful.

Then you ask yourself two important questions:
Is it worth the calories? How much of it do I need to be happy?
Jesse and I discussed what indulgence we would choose for our Day Seven treat. We agreed on ice cream cones at Handel's, our favorite local ice cream place. We had a delicious, healthy dinner with plenty of protein.  We each had done our planned workout, but we added in an extra walk in the park since the weather was nice. And we went out for our ice cream, so we would have a controlled portion and be done with it. I don't like to keep ice cream or other desserts in the house.

We had a great walk -- and got it done just in time, while the sun was still out. By the time we went for our dessert, it was a little cold to eat ice cream outside (note the snow in the background).

Do you allow yourself indulgences or avoid them? What would your planned indulgence be, if you were to choose one thing?

Check out my other posts on The Diet Fix here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Six: Exercise

Today's prompt was "Exercise." What and how much? "Some is good. More is better. Everything counts." Since it was not snowing and the temps were a balmy 25 degrees, we decided to go to Wildwood for a run. I did 20 minutes of running, with 5 minutes each of warmup and cool down walking. It felt a little chilly and there were some icy patches, but mostly it was fine.  I'm going to be glad to see these big piles of snow melt away this weekend.

Dr. Freedhoff says exercise is not important so much for its calorie burn ("You can't outrun your fork.) but for its health and attitude benefits.  I always say that I need exercise to unwind that tight little spring inside my brain.

Jesse had made pizza dough earlier in the day and left it to finish rising while we were at the park. When I got out of the shower, I didn't have long to wait for this:

He used a recipe in The Diet Fix that used protein powder in the crust.  He topped it with weighed and measured pizza sauce, mozzarella, and leftover grilled chicken.  One problem: He thought this was two servings. I looked at it and really didn't think it could possibly be -- the thing was huge. There was no way I wanted to eat half of it, even if I was supposed to.  As I was entering the recipe into the Lose It! recipe builder, I noticed that it actually was a "cook once, eat a bunch of times" recipe, and even though he had divided the recipe into thirds, it was still enough dough for two pizzas, six servings each.  It was a good thing I entered the recipe before I ate it so I could adjust my serving size accordingly. I had a big salad with my slice. Next time we'll make it into smaller, thinner-crust pizzas.

I have to say that I am loving the change of attitude that comes with this plan. It really lives up to my blog name, "Perfect in our Imperfections." If we make a mistake, okay, fine, let's do better next time.   

Check out my other posts on The Diet Fix here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Five: Think

I haven't really cut calories significantly and my carb count has been lower but not low -- so I wouldn't have cut enough to lose water from freed glycogen stores. So I am surprised at how much lighter I felt when I woke up this morning. My husband said he feels lighter too.  It will be interesting to see what the scale says on Day 10.

Today's dinner, however, was not so great. Because of the snow, the Mediterranean restaurant where I was supposed to be meeting my friends (with lots of great, healthy options) was not open. We went to Max & Erma's instead. If you ever want to show yourself the truth of the statement that "any day that you're eating a meal out is a day that you're not likely to lose weight," go to Max & Erma's for dinner, pick the healthiest entree you can find from the menu (in my case, the lunch-sized Apple Pecan Chicken Salad, and then look it up in their Nutrition Calculator.  Yikes. Obviously, if I had known I was going there ahead of time, I would have checked out the menu, but nothing there is really a great choice. How can they put so many calories into their food and have it just taste okay?  For 700 calories, I want something truly amazing.  

Today's task was really hard to wrap my head around. The prompt was "Think," and it was all about creating a new, healthier identity.  People who are overweight tend to be stuck with a lot of negative labels, and they are easy to internalize. The problem is that people see the extra weight and make all sorts of assumptions.  Quite a few times, I have been at a race or a triathlon and was asked, "is this your first?" Nope. And I didn't do anything to make you think it was, except show up in this body.

I can't tell you how many of my Facebook friends have posted the "To the fatty running on the track this afternoon" post and said it was "Inspirational!"  After all the negative things the author says about the overweight runner, suddenly it's all okay because there is a switch to "You f**ing rock." Personally, I'd rather be ignored than patronized. But maybe the "fatty" in question likes that sort of thing.

There isn't really anything in this chapter that is going to make a difference with other people's opinions.  There is, however, Dr. Freedhoff's affirmation that making the switch to a healthy lifestyle is a great thing in and of itself no matter what the scale (or the mirror) says.

And, of course, there are two great questions:
"What can I do right now that I can be proud of? What can I do right now that will help a little bit?"
Other than that surprisingly indulgent dinner, today went really well. Because Jesse was home, he made us a version of Mongolian Beef for lunch, which was delicious and very filling (with 24 grams of protein). I enjoyed all my meals and snacks and didn't struggle with hunger. It wasn't a difficult day, maybe a 2 or 3.

Even that dinner out -- even if the food wasn't 100% worth the calories, the company was. My happy life includes being able to go out and celebrate a friend's birthday.

Midafternoon check-in

This was taken yesterday, when the weather here was so nice that we walked to the grocery store to pick up a few ingredients for the protein bars I made yesterday. The whole downtown area of my little town has been yarn-bombed, and I was particularly impressed with the flowered cover for the bell.  

Today we have already shoveled several inches of wet snow and the driveway and sidewalk are probably going to need another round.  I tried to make sure my abs were engaged while I shoveled -- the snow was heavy, so I figured I might as well get a core workout and try to save my back.

It hasn't been all bad being snowed in. I was scheduled to be on a BlogHer conference call about the Affordable Care Act with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and it was interesting to hear the stories and participate in . One of the bloggers featured was Laurie Wright (), who shared her story of getting covered through the ACA after being priced out of the private market because of high blood pressure and mental health issues. I met Laurie at BlogHer in Chicago back in 2007, and she is very generous to share her story to help convince other people to get covered before the March 31 deadline.

I am hoping that all this snow will be gone by tomorrow morning. It has been nice to have a day to hang out with Jesse and the kitties, but I have a lot of work to catch up on and having the house to myself or a quiet office to work in would be in my best interest. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Four: Cook

Today, the emphasis was supposed to be on cooking. That's easy for me, since I like to cook anyway.  Technically, everything for the rest of this period (except for one day practicing restaurant strategies) is supposed to be cooked by me or bought at the grocery store, but I already had a lunch out with work colleagues scheduled for tomorrow. Luckily, it's a Mediterranean place, so there should be plenty of healthy options that will fit in with this plan.  I will see if the menu is online so I can pre-plan.

Today I was feeling very tired of the same protein sources -- I was eating a lot of cheese, and that doesn't seem like a terrific option.  I decided to make a recipe out of the book for a snack -- the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Protein bars. I wasn't so sure when I saw them in the pan -- they looked a little flat and weird. But they taste like a No-Bake cookie and they are low in sugar and high in protein. The KIND bars are still better, but these are something different.  I would definitely make them again. Sorry that they aren't very photogenic.

For dinner I made grilled chicken breasts and these green bean "fries." They didn't turn out crispy as promised, but they were very good. I just had half of my chicken breast and a lot of the green beans and got plenty of protein for the meal.

I realized (and posted on yesterday's post) that I was getting too bunched up about the calorie counts -- this is all supposed to be a learning experience and not a quick-weight-loss program.  Today's calorie counts came down quite a bit, as I am learning what works with this plan. I'm thinking I might make some hard-boiled eggs for snacks -- I have always liked those.

Today was easier, I'd say the DDD was maybe a 3, and only that high because I felt like I couldn't look at another piece of cheese -- and that has always been one of my favorite foods!  Any great protein sources besides eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese, meat, protein powder, protein bars?  Leave them in the comments.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Diet Fix Day Three: Diarize

Be sure to check out my other posts on The Diet Fix.

Today I went back and did the task for Day 2, which was to keep a detailed food diary. In addition to the usual food data, I was supposed to record information on meal timing, hunger and satisfaction, plus a stat called "The Daily Degree of Difficulty."

Today was not difficult, in the sense that I wasn't hungry, but I was concerned that my calories were higher than I'd like them to be. I still do Meatless Mondays, and it's not easy to get the amounts of protein suggested for each meal and snack from vegetarian sources. I made my bean and rice bowl for dinner -- the beans cook all day in the crockpot, and it doesn't take long to cook some rice and chop some vegetables.  That was very filling. I think I need to plan my meals ahead of time so I'm not trying to do math as I serve myself dinner. My DDD score was probably about a 5 because I was frustrated by my too-high calorie count.

I've been doing some research on vegan protein sources since it disgusts me to think of eating high volumes of meat and cheese. One thing I did notice, though, was that meat is a very efficient protein source: Just three ounces of salmon was enough protein for a whole meal. One chicken drumstick almost has enough.  And vegetables have some protein too.

I don't want to start loading up on supplements or making weird bodybuilder recipes to get enough protein.  I want to eat real food that tastes like food.  I do have plain whey powder, but that still seems somewhat natural, especially since I avoided all the artificial flavors.

I'm finding that I just feel tired of eating. I never used to understand why people said that in Weight Watchers meetings, but I think I get it now.  Especially since most of my favorite foods are in the "as little as you need to be happy" category and the ones I don't like as much seem to be the ones I need to eat. I love nuts and cheese, but all that heavy food in my stomach feels kind of icky to me.

I'm sure that I will get a better sense of what works after I have been doing this for a while.  I also bought some higher-protein bread so I can still have toast in the morning.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

What I did this week: March 3-March 9

Wow, three posts today!

This one will be a quickie:

Monday: Yoga class, walked on treadmill with varying inclines. 8,755 steps
Tuesday: Travel day -- and I think my step counter totally cheated me on steps, as I walked more than 10 blocks and only got 390 for it.  6,505 steps
Wednesday: Sat in conference rooms most of the day. 7,785 steps
Thursday: Hill Day was a LOT of walking. 27,479 steps
Friday: Another travel day, and this time my step counter seemed more generous: 14,469 steps
Saturday: Pilates Circuit class. 5,521 steps
Sunday: Swam 45-ish minutes (mini-competition, so more waiting around time). On land, only 3,945 steps

The Diet Fix Day Two: Whoops -- Did Banish Hunger instead of Diarize

Be sure to check out my other posts on The Diet Fix.

Somehow I got things flipped in my mind and ended up focusing on Day 3's task instead of Day 2.  I have been keeping a food diary in Lose It! for a long time, but I didn't take all the notes that were suggested for Day 2.

Rather than lose a day, I decided to stick with the focus on Fight Hunger.  I made sure that my meals and snacks contained the right amount of protein.

I had the idea to try making protein pancakes with my new protein powder. I was afraid the powder would give them a weird taste, but since I bought plain unflavored whey, I didn't notice anything. I guess it would be just like adding extra milk. I added some walnuts and blueberries to them as well.  It was a successful experiment -- a little indulgent for every day, but great for a special Sunday breakfast. There are some recipes for things like this in the back of the book, but I just used a whole wheat baking mix (no HFCS or trans fats) and added the protein powder as an extra ingredient.

I had Greek yogurt with almond butter and a banana as a snack -- again, hitting the protein minimum without overloading on calories is a challenge.

I had a big lunch and so I did not have a snack after lunch -- I had my Masters' Swim at 5 p.m. and I hate swimming with food in my stomach.   I guess this violates the "every 2.5-3.5 hours" guideline, but we had a mini-competition today, and I didn't want to feel nauseated by food sloshing around in my gut.  I participated in several races: 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke, 50m free, and 100m free.  I had fun -- my best time was probably 36-something seconds for a 50m free, compared to back in December, when I did just under 45 seconds for the same distance.

Jesse made dinner for me when I got back. We had leftover salmon for last night so I had 3 ounces of that with a salad and some roasted corn left over from this summer.  It actually just hit the minimum for calories with a few extra grams of protein to spare.

I probably will have a snack later tonight -- I didn't really want one last night, and was just barely starting to get hungry when I went to bed, but I woke up several times in the middle of the night feeling hungry. I went right back to sleep, but if I'm hungry enough to disturb my sleep, it might be counterproductive to skip the snack, especially after swimming so hard.

Tomorrow I will go back and do the Diarize goal. I need to make a note of the things I'm supposed to record. One thing I think is great is the "Daily Degree of Difficulty." Today I think I did pretty well, except that big lunch at my parents' house. I indulged a little more than I probably should have, but did much better than I usually do when I eat there. I'd give today a 3 (on a scale of 0-10 with 0 being totally "rock solid").

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Diet Fix Day One: Gear Up

Confession: Day One is not really my Day One.  I read the entire book on my plane trip to Washington, DC, and used some of the strategies to manage hunger while I was at a conference.  I stopped at a Rite Aid and bought a box of individual packets of nuts, which I used as snacks to ward off hunger.  I was glad I did, because the conference was serving moderately-portioned all-vegetarian meals. I appreciated this as an environmentalist, but it did mean that I was hungry sooner after eating than I would have been if the food had been heartier.  I also made sure to grab an egg sandwich for breakfast before our day on Capitol Hill.

The theme for yesterday was Gear Up. I was actually planning to make Friday my Day One, and I went to the grocery store and stocked up on all kinds of protein sources: Fish, meat, cheese, eggs, hummus, and whey powder.  I also got fruits and vegetables.  I already had all the other gear called for in this section, as this is not my first rodeo.  But I didn't weigh myself as suggested, and since I wanted to have a real 10-day before-and-after number, I decided to make Saturday Day One. I cleaned out our pantry and realized that we had duplicates of a lot of dried beans and whole grains, so I moved similar items together and tried to arrange things so it was easier to see what we have.  I threw out a container of amaranth that I bought years ago and never figured out what to do with. I made a list of the things on each shelf, especially the top shelf, which is hard to see.

I have been using Lose It! for a long time now, so the diary is not hard for me, but what does seem to be hard is eating as often as suggested with as much protein as suggested. I am a carb lover. If I could eat a bowl of popcorn or pasta every three hours, it would be easy.  I didn't want my mid-afternoon snack at all, probably because I made my lunch too big. I think that I will start to learn how to pace things better as I go along, and I'll also have a better idea of what snacks fulfill the protein requirements.  I can definitely see the benefits of eating this way.

By the way, I had a couple of today, and he asked me to let him know if I had any questions. I asked him about the close-the-kitchen thing I had been planning to try for Lent:
Hey Jen,

I don’t think there’s any true evidence behind the recommendation to close the kitchen early.

That said, the every 2.5-3.5 hours is meant to take you to dinner. Beyond dinner, I’d do what felt comfortable but pay attention the next day if you go to bed without a snack - you may find you’re hungrier.

So that is what I am planning to do -- see how I feel and do what works best. I was not able to follow the 6:30 food curfew during my conference, though I had no trouble Friday night, when all I wanted to do at 9 p.m. was go to bed. I think the more important thing is to make the snack quality "capital-F-food" if I'm going to have it. The Diet Fix will replace the kitchen curfew -- especially because I read the book on Fat Tuesday.

Last night I wasn't really hungry before bed, but I did wake up hungry a few times in the middle of the night. I went back to sleep, and this morning I didn't feel that much hungrier than usual.  But I will see how today plays out.

My pantry. It still looks a little chaotic, but at least I can find everything. I recycle jars to store seeds and nuts.

The Diet Fix by Dr. Yoni Freedhoff: Review

Note: This is an uncompensated, unsolicited review.  I bought the book myself. All opinions expressed are my own The links are not affiliate links, they go to Dr. Freedhoff's book page. 

I have been following Dr. Freedhoff on and on his blog, Weighty Matters, for  years. When I heard he had a book coming out, I knew I had to read it. That was back in October of 2012 -- I know because I have an email exchange with him where I asked about a review copy (and was turned down, very politely -- Dr. Freedhoff tweeted me to say that if I had asked when the book was closer to print, I would have had better luck). I had hoped that by the time that I could read it, I would be able to enjoy it but would have solved my own weight issues.

Ha ha.  I am a smart person. I even have a PhD, which may or may not prove that I'm intelligent, but definitely proves that I have the ability to sift through lots of information and persist through long, difficult projects. To be honest, this weight project has been one of the longest and difficult ones of my life.  And though I have used various techniques to successfully lose weight, it doesn't stay off. I'm not a junk-food junkie -- I don't even like fast food, and I gave up soda long ago.  I'm not a sloth -- I have participated in dozens of races and triathlons.  My body, however, when left to its own devices, seems quite content hanging around on the border between overweight and obese on the BMI scale.

When I ordered this book, I was toying with the idea of trying Intermittent Fasting (though I knew I couldn't stick to it), rejoining Weight Watchers (though I have rejoined and quit at least ten times), or biting the bullet and being the last person in the weight loss blogging community to try Paleo (though the entire idea of it makes me clench my teeth in frustration). I knew that none of these would really work for me because I could barely tolerate the idea of starting any of them, let alone making them my new permanent lifestyle. Since I rebranded it, this whole blog has been devoted to my search for something that make me thinner without making me completely nuts in the process. I wanted something that I could really do and enjoy for the rest of my life.

I am, in short, a sufferer of what Dr. Freedhoff calls "Post-Traumatic Dieting Disorder" (PTDD). My weight, or my insecurity about it, has strained my relationships and made me uncomfortable at races or even just walking around in the world.  And I comfortably fit into one airplane seat and can shop in "normal" stores, even if they often choose to stock only one or two items in my size. I know there are a lot of people out there who have it much worse.

At first glance, this book has nothing revolutionary to offer. The basic strategies are what you already know to do: Eat differently, exercise, keep a food diary.  Dr. Freedhoff is an obesity doctor and assistant professor at Ottawa's Bariatric Medical Institute. Maybe because he already has a day job, he doesn't need to set himself up as THE diet guru with THE answer the medical establishment doesn't want you to know and a custom line of protein shakes and bars (though that didn't stop Drs. Sears and Agatson).

What is revolutionary is that instead of blaming people for not being able to stick to diets, Dr. Freedhoff blames the mythology of diets themselves, especially the myth of the "ideal" weight.
In every other area of life, people are comfortable with their personal bests as wonderful goals. Why is it that with weight people strive to be "ideal," often at the expense of a livable life?
He compares this to an average runner deciding that success meant he had to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  This comparison hit a little too close to home, because my self-flagellation for not being a "good enough" runner or triathlete is the only thing that comes close to the way I talk to myself about my weight. But the idea is that by setting unreachable goals, dieters miss out on all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle because they can't feel successful. And rather than blaming the goals or the crazy diets that got them into this mess, dieters blame themselves.

So what is the answer?  "To succeed in the long term, to actually keep the weight you lose off, I think you need to genuinely like your life with fewer calories. . . That said, I'm guessing too, that there's probably room for your life to be healthier and still enjoyable." To this end, he offers his ten day "Diet Fix" to help survivors of PTDD "reset" themselves and change their relationship with food, "to teach you to use food to help you control it, rather than let food control you." This is accomplished through a lot of strategies, including a food diary, regularly-spaced meals and snacks, and "minimums rather than maximums" for protein and calories.

More importantly, Dr. Freedhoff wants dieters to change the questions they ask themselves. Instead of "What's wrong with me? Why can't I just do this? What's my problem?" he wants them to change the dialogue. When they notice themselves start to blame and shame themselves, he wants them to ask, "What can I do right now that I can be proud of? What can I do right now that will help a little bit?"

I felt differently when reading this book than when reading all of the other diet books. I didn't feel that manic excitement of, "This is it! This is what I've been looking for!" Instead I felt a little sad, thinking of all the time and energy I have put into an activity that has only hurt me, the mental gymnastics of trying to fix myself. But I also felt relieved that there might be a way out of this mess.

My husband and I are going to be doing "The Diet Fix" together. Over the next 10 days, I'll report back with my thoughts and experiences.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Back from DC

Too tired to do it tonight, but I am looking forward to reviewing my plane reading for you.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

What I did this week: February 24-March 2

This was a bad week for exercise. It was a really stressful week. My dad was in the hospital on Monday, and there was a lot of uncertainty about how that would go. On Tuesday, I had a 13-hour workday -- I got on campus at 8:30 a.m. and didn't get home until 10:00 p.m. No working out went on that day.  Wednesday I got to Spin class half an hour early and decided to do some weights, as I said, and aggravated my old shoulder injury doing lat pulls. I didn't feel it until later in the day, so I went ahead and did the class, which might have made things worse.  I took Thursday off working out to let my arm rest. On Friday, I meant to do Spinning again, but I wasn't moving fast enough and didn't get to class in time to get a bike. I did treadmill walking on a steep incline, and had my only good step day of the week. Saturday I skipped my Pilates Circuit class, just to be safe. Today I graded papers most of the day and did my swim class at 5:00 p.m. It was a pretty intense swim class.

Monday: No workout, 4,782 steps
Tuesday: No workout, 9,221 steps
Wednesday: Weight lifting, 45-minute Spin class, 5,742 steps
Thursday: No workout, 5,433 steps
Friday: 30-minute treadmill workout on an incline, 13,827 steps
Saturday: No workout, 4,688 steps
Sunday: 60-minute swim, 2,453 steps so far

I need to put things in perspective, though. This was my worst workout week in a long time, and I got more than two hours of intense workouts in. That's not really that bad. 

Something weird happened with Lose It! for me. On Friday, my phone was dead, so I tracked my food using my iPad app. Somehow that data didn't register in my account. I had to reconstruct that day from memory.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Hooray! It's March 1!

Image from , used under a Creative Commons license

I got through a tough week in a hard month. I hurt my shoulder on Wednesday trying to do some weight lifting before Spin class, and it was such intense pain that I couldn't even hold a glass in my left hand (and I'm a lefty) Wednesday night.  I was so relieved when it was back to normal.  I didn't go to my Pilates Circuit class today for fear of reinjuring it.  On Thursday, I taught my last class for a while. My dad is out of the hospital and home. That definitely helps me feel less stressed, too. 

 Now I just need to grade a few papers and get ready for a trip to Washington, DC.  I'll be leaving Tuesday and will be back Friday.  This is a trip I do every year for CARE, and I look forward to it. 

I am going to use Lent to try a new habit, something that I like to do even though I am not really Catholic anymore. This year, I am going to try closing the kitchen after 6:30 p.m. I read a book on Intermittent Fasting, but I could feel myself feeling nutty at the thought of restricting so severely two days a week.  I had heard that a lot of people believe there is a real benefit to going without food for a solid 12 hours a day (or more), and I thought that would be a good place to start. My husband is doing it with me, so I won't be tempted by watching him snack. I'm going to do a weigh-in and measure on Monday or Tuesday, and then follow up again after Lent to see how much difference it makes. 

One caveat is on this trip, which is for a conference, I might sometimes not be served dinner until late. In that case, I will just make sure breakfast is later too.  Because it's a plane trip and I'm trying to carry on, bringing a lot of food isn't an option.  I might bring a few KIND bars, but that's all I really would be able to fit in my suitcase.

Last night, I was really tempted to snack and remembered my plans to stop evening snacking, and went to bed instead (it was after 10).  I really was tired and bored, not hungry. I'm catching myself more and more in these urges to eat out of habit and heading them off. 
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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