Friday, December 16, 2011

Knowing Better

For about a week and a half now I've been on a basically vegetarian diet. What's really surprising to me is how much easier it's been than I expected. I tend to get it in my head that I need to do all this planning and preparation to make dietary changes. It really just takes awareness and determination, both of which are improved by the diet itself.

For years I've been learning about nutrition and how your body processes food, not just in a weight loss program capacity, but in a science and health research capacity. The more I learn the more I'm convinced that being completely or nearly vegetarian and even vegan is what's best for humans to maintain their health.

Because I know better, I thought that I'd continue to improve on my knowing better. I spent a bit of time researching foods that improve high cholesterol and found that what I've been eating is basically in line with multiple recommendations. Speaking of recommendations, a friend recommended "Forks Over Knives" on Netflix stream, and so do I. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe the research and results of doctors and patients who have reversed their diseases by diet alone.

The exact diseases they talk about in the documentary are the ones that have crippled my family. Hypertension, diabetes, cancer... these are things that could have been avoided with diet changes. It's sad to me how our culture and money motivated interests have planted (ha planted) the idea in our head that we need meat and dairy to be healthy and strong. I don't know about you, but I see an awful lot of people that eat meat that are far from healthy, myself being a prime example.

I feel like I'm doing pretty well, but I have a bit of room for improvement still. My primary cause for complaint is cookies. We are in full holiday mode and it's kind of impossible to avoid them. I've managed to do pretty well avoiding meat and fried food, but I've had some hiccups here and there.

You can see the difference with the two journals I've posted. I made a key to highlight what the different foods are so I'd have more of a visual on my eating habits. I think it's effective. More green and brown is better! They'll go to a readable size if you click on them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pseudo Vegetarianism Day 3

I say pseudo because I really don't have the ethical conviction to be a true vegetarian. I'm not a fan of mass meat production so I've been trying to buy local when I can afford it, but seriously, I'm not going to join PETA anytime soon. I will say that I do like eating more toward the veggie side because I feel like it gives me really healthy manageable boundaries for my diet though.

For anyone who missed my facebook updates, I've been put on a diet by my doctor. I suppose I could choose to ignore her advice if I really wanted to, but I feel like I'd rather not be diabetic by 40.

I had a physical last month and my blood test showed that I have high cholesterol. When I've been on diets in the past, it has been both because I don't want to be fat because I feel like a whale (whale's are pretty, but definitely not sexy and not the most agile) and because I wanted to avoid health concerns later. These health concerns were always hypothetical before. Now that they're a current and present reality I feel a bit more motivated.

Here's a brief health lesson: LDL cholesterol (the kind I have too much of) is a sort of fatty putty that sticks to the inside of your arteries. When enough of it builds up, it can cause high blood pressure which leads to lots of things that aren't good such as heart attack, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure... the list goes on. High cholesterol is the first of several steps that lead to high medical bills. HDL cholesterol is the good kind of cholesterol (it's found in things like avocados, nuts and fish) that actually helps break up bad LDL cholesterol in your arteries. I don't have very much of it.

What kind of mother would I be not only to be chubby and too low energy to play with my kid but to also be sick so she can't do anything with me and then to drain our finances with my medical costs which would deprive her of what I could give her otherwise? The answer is not good.

So now I've been instructed to cut out all meat (I didn't ask but I assume fish on occasion is okay), I'm supposed to switch anything white with the brown equivalent (bread, rice, sugar, etc...) and I'm supposed to cut out anything fried or processed. I've been advised to eat steel cut oats for breakfast every morning and to make quinoa a staple of my diet. She even told me the mandarine oranges (I was proud to have fruit in my food log) were too full of sugar and I should eat apples or bananas instead.

What really has me irritated about all of this is that I frickin know better. I've read a plethora of material on how your body processes food and what you need to eat to be healthy. I've been on several diets and am currently following (or not following) weight watchers. I could be a nutritionist with the amount of knowledge I have about food! So how the hell could I let myself get to this point?! It was shameful to have the phrase "yeah, I know better" uttered at every piece of advice my doctor gave me.

So far I've done really well on my eating program. I really like steel cut oats actually. I haven't had meat in three days. I think I'll make fish and/or chicken an allowable element of my meals on the weekends because that kind of structure really helps me. Today I tried the spicy anasazi bean burger at Burgerville. It was quite tasty I must say. I did cave and have waffle fries though. *slaps self on the hand*

I've begun to realize how incredibly addicted I've gotten to certain foods. I crave sweets in the evening really bad usually right after dinner. I catch myself rummaging around trying to avoid the smorgasbord of candy in jars around the family room. Tonight I ate a bag of those flavored almonds with dried fruit - sahale snacks. They are really yummy and healthier than candy but expensive! I allowed myself the fries today because I knew I'd end up doing something more destructive later if I denied myself everything cold turkey. I smelled fast food at the high school last night and it took a good amount of will power not to beeline to a McDonalds. How did I let it get this way? I had come so far in establishing healthier eating habits and here I am again craving donuts at 10pm. . . what I wouldn't do for a maple bar!

It's not going to be easy, but I feel like if I can do this now, I can do it for the long haul. I will reach my ultimate weight goal. I will be healthy and I will do anything to give my daughter the life I want her to have. Even if it means giving up red meat, sweets and french fries.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lessons from a Sassy Black Lady

I had my lady visit to my new doctors clinic today and it was kind of a startling experience. All through my pregnancy I decided to take the attitude of "don't panic, you're completely fine" in regards to my health. I didn't want to gain so much weight, but gain I did. My midwives were thrilled with my health and I couldn't have had a more "normal" birth.

But that was pregnancy. This is me by myself now. And me by myself is very overweight and has high cholesterol.

The RN at my doctor's office is a sassy black lady. She basically gave me a verbal ass-kicking. Something like, "girl, you need to eat right and exercise, don't give me no excuses!" I told her I'd been steadily losing weight on weight watchers albeit not much because I'm breastfeeding and all. She gave me some ideas for exercises to do every day and told me to eat steel cut oats to get my cholesterol levels down. She also told me I needed a vitamin D supplement.

This spurred the thought progression I've been revisiting lately.

I remember a sting in college when I went to the gym 3 mornings a week, every week without fail. I did the elliptical for 20 minutes because that's all I had enough time for. I lost 15 pounds in a month. 3 days a week for 20 minutes. That's it.

One summer I worked at a deli where I had to scoop ice cream. It was only one small element of my job, so I only scooped maybe five to ten times each shift. But my scooping arm was ripped by the end of the summer.

The conclusion: it doesn't take much to be in good shape. What it does take is consistency. If all I did was the simple exercises the RN showed me today three or four days a week without fail, I would have a better body and I'd be in better health.

I have to journal everything that passes my lips for a week (including vitamins and lozenges etc..) and go back to have her tell me what I'm doing wrong.Honestly I should be doing this anyway because it's part of being on weight watchers. I got this app on my phone that lets me just take pictures of my food rather than writing it down. I'm going to try it for a week and see how it goes. I'll probably still do a written journal for my next visit.

I've been around this eating healthy block a few times already. I know when I'm eating something that's not helping me any. The question then is, would I rather indulge in what I enjoy eating or would I rather enjoy being a healthy weight? The answer should seem obvious, but as much as I want to be a good student I find myself wrestling with the idea that you can't have both. I'm also a bit nervous to be told the honest truth about my stubborn ignorance on the subject. Am I really ready to have someone call me out? I guess I'll find out.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creating a Lifestyle

I was sitting on the floor of my full weight watchers meeting today thumbing through the weekly newsletter when I ran across an article about staying motivated. The author of the article talked about going to her class reunion and how she wanted to go and show everyone how great she looks now.

This things got me thinking. I remember trying to reach my goal weight even back in high school. Next year is my 10-year class reunion, and while I really could care less about what my old classmates think about my physique, I do care that I have yet to reach my goal. 

The good news is that even though I've been trying to lose weight unsuccessfully for 10 years, I have at least made some good dents in my lifestyle. 

I went to the gym with my sister tonight and started to think about how much my attitude has changed towards food and exercise. I remember hating the gym when I first went back on swim team in high school. It felt like such a waste of energy, and the machines were so confusing and foreign to me. I remember not knowing what an elliptical was (I called it the swingy leg thing). Now, not only do I know what to do with an elliptical, I have no problem pushing myself through circuit training, stretches, and I'm even learning to be happy about feeling the burn. 

This afternoon I got myself a chicken nugget meal at Mcdonalds thinking it would be a good reward for my weight loss, and I ended up not even eating it. I ate a couple chicken nuggets and found myself wishing they tasted less like a deep fryer. I could taste the lethargy that I would be feeling later if I finished my meal and I didn't like it! I ended up taking my $6 hit and buying myself another lunch at new seasons - a tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread with tomato and avocado (doesn't that even "sound" better?!) 
Over the years I feel like my food preferences have drastically evolved and my body craves good food. I lost 2 pounds this week and I think I only tracked 3 out of the 7 days. This is a testament to the fact that I have really made lasting changes to my eating habits. 

I just have 65 more pounds to lose. I want to focus on the big number instead of the milestones. This time the milestones are nice, but they're not good enough. This time I'm going to get to a healthy weight and stay there!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting acquainted with Points Plus

As of today I have completed 1 week of the points plus system on weight watchers. If you have done weight watchers before, you'd be surprised the differences they've made to their program. They added carbohydrates to their points calculator, they've made all fruits a 0 points value, and they've changed how many points you get on a daily basis and on a weekly basis. I get 31 points per day and 49 per week normally and then an extra 15 a day for breastfeeding.

Needless to say, I had no problem staying on program this week. I found myself eating far more fruit because I knew it didn't count for anything. I also ate more vegetables, not because they were low points, but because I wanted to be able to check off all the marks for fruits and vegetables. I know I'm eating healthier and it's not difficult to do so. 

What's a challenge for me this time around is that I'm not allowed to lose too much weight at a time because of the breastfeeding. If I lose too much, my milk supply could diminish. The last few times I've done weight watchers I've had a big loss the first week. This time I only lost .6 pounds. I was a bit discouraged by this, but the receptionist at the meeting told me it was likely because I was already eating pretty consciously before, so I wouldn't have a big change. She suggested taking measurements and using those as well, especially after having had a baby, my hips and belly should shrink more than my weight does. 

I know all weight basically loses the same, but for some reason I feel like this 30 pounds of baby weight should come off easier. It's probably because I've had so many people say that breastfeeding helps you lose the weight quick. My challenge now is to treat this weight loss like all of the weight I've lost before. I have to work at it just the same.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Project: Skinny Butt Fail

Well, project skinny butt is over. It pretty much failed. I did really good the first few days and then I just got busy! My mom told me she read something about how not getting enough sleep leads to belly fat. I believe it. I don't sleep much with a newborn and I pretty much have a deflated balloon full of sand on my front.

I've decided that exercise is only part of the equation and I need to relearn how to eat again. So I signed back up for weight watchers and went to a meeting yesterday. It was nice to see my old meeting leader again. She was really excited to see the baby. I haven't seen her since our wedding.

I was quickly reminded about why I hate going to meetings. Everyone kept talking about how hard it is to go grocery shopping or out to eat and to stay on program. For me rather than dwelling on the the foods I like that I can't eat, I dwell on the foods I like that I can. Weight watchers has completely revamped the program too. Now you can eat basically as much fruit as you want and most vegetables are 0 points as well. You also get more points each day and more points for the week. Combined with extra points for breastfeeding, and the fact that I can track my points on my iphone, this is pretty much easy so far. I can eat what I want, just not too much of it is all. I'm looking forward to the new program. I really feel like it's something I can stick to. Then again I'm only on my second day. I guess we'll see if I'm still this on track in a week.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Project: Skinny Butt

It seems that it's been a few months since I've posted to this, 7 months. Now that baby's out and I can exercise it's time to get my behind into gear! I had intended on really hunkering down when Charlotte got to 6 weeks old (which was a week ago). Rather, I really started thinking about it and entertaining ideas for what I wanted to do to get back in shape for the last week and yesterday was my redemption day.

So now in the spirit of what's worked for me in the past I'm on a new path. I have two goals right now.

Short term is that I have a bridesmaids dress I have to squeeze into on the 28th this month. I had to buy it when I was 8 1/2 months pregnant without any idea how big I'd be now. Thankfully it fits but it's snug. So I would like to get it to be a bit more comfortable.

Long term is that I'd like to get back to paddling. I had multiple dreams about dragon boating when I was pregnant and I miss it somethin' fierce! My team is apparently kicking ass and taking names without me and every time they post pictures and status updates about races I long to be with them again. I have a long way to go before I'm back to racing shape again, but I'm ready to work on it!

My second long term is to get back to pre-baby weight, which was 170lbs. I ballooned to 215 at the end of my pregnancy and am down to 200 now. I have 30 to go. Ultimately, I would like to lose more than this, but I figure it's a good place to start.

I call these goals Project: Skinny Butt - mostly because last night at water aerobics I told my instructor that I needed my butt skinnier to fit in my bridesmaids dress. It would fit if my butt wasn't so huge.

For Project: Skinny Butt I have come up with an outline of what I'll do and what I'd like to look into.

First I need some form of exercise every day. I have two and a half weeks until this wedding so here's my plan:

9th Tues (yesterday): water aerobics with added kick board

10th Wed (today): 20 minutes on the elliptical 

11th Thurs: water aerobics + kick board

12th Fri: 20-30 minutes exercise bike

13th Sat: Same as Friday

14th Sun: 30 minutes on the elliptical or walk

15th Mon: I'll be at the beach so 30-60 minute walk(s)

16th Tues: Same as Monday

17th Wed: Same as Monday

18th Thurs: water aerobics + kick board

19th Fri: 30 minutes on the elliptical + packing

20th Sat: 30 minutes on the elliptical or walk

21st Sun: 30 minutes on the elliptical or walk

22nd Mon: figure out something new

23rd Tues: water aerobics + kick board

24th Wed: 40 minutes elliptical
+ moving
25th Thurs: water aerobics + kick board + moving

26th Fri: 40 minutes elliptical
+ moving
27th & 28th: two days of weddings = take a break lady!

For the long term stuff, I'm debating between joining 24 hour fitness or doing a month of weight watchers after we move in with my parents. I'm going to try to resume my calorie counting method but I think weight watchers would be a good jump start. I'm also going to save my pennies to try out this tummy team thing my sis-in-law recommended to me. She got fabulous results and I'm sold, I just need money to do it. I think it would really help core strength to get me ready to paddle again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Well, I'm 18 weeks at this point and about 180 pounds. I haven't weighed myself in about a week though so I'm not 100% sure if that's accurate, and honestly I don't want to know.
My diet has been pretty much not great. The thrill of unlimited calories and slow digestion has started to wear down and I finally sat down and read the list of what my midwives recommend I eat on a daily basis. Let's just say, I'm not even close.

The good news is that I'm starting to be more conscientious of what I'm eating. I'm supposed to have 4 servings of dairy, 2 eggs, and 80 grams of protein per day. I've been getting closer to these goals with things like chocolate milk, subway breakfast sandwiches, luna protein bars and decaf lattes. I'm also going to start doing prenatal yoga with a video. I can tell that I need it because I get pretty sore pretty quickly unless I stretch. The last step is to try to start walking each day. I do fairly well walking in general, but I should probably do more deliberate walking.

The bad news is that my bad eating has started to affect my husband. Usually he maintains his weight because I cook him food that tends to be good for him and when we eat out it's been to places where I could make good decisions. Lately that hasn't been the case and I've noticed that he's starting to put weight back on again. I can't drink diet soda, and I can't have caffeine so I usually just do one cup of sprite or root beer if we go out. He'll do the same, but he won't stop at 16 ounces like I do. He also doesn't down 60-80oz of water each day like I do either.  It's like my eating changes give him the freedom to eat what he wants and his portions keep getting larger. I feel somewhat responsible. So I need to do better not just for myself but for my husband as well.