Monday, January 31, 2011

Why stress made me fat and what I can do about it

I just found an article on Prevention Magazine's website about stress, hunger and weight gain. I was researching this just now because I'm having a really tough time right now in my personal life and for the last two weeks, I've been so ravenous. Sometimes I've caved to the hunger, other times, I've white-knuckled it through the day. It's been really tough to keep my calories under 2000 on a consistent basis. So here's what the article says about hunger and stress:

Why Stress Makes You Hungry

For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, recent research reveals that it's also a fact of fat.

"Even if you usually eat healthfully and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or even add pounds," says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, a Prevention adviser and the author of Body for Life for Women. 

Here's what happens: Your body responds to all stress—physical or psychological—in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain acts as though you're in physical danger and instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven't used very many calories in your stressed-out state. This can make you hungry... very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.

Sadly, few of us reach for carrot sticks in these situations. "Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that actually do reduce tension," explains Elissa Epel, PhD, a researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco. This soothing effect becomes addicting, so every time you're anxious, you reach for fattening foods.

Why Stress Increases Body Fat

With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down.

"Over time, this drop causes a decrease in your muscle mass, so you burn fewer calories," explains Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection. "This occurs naturally as you age, but high cortisol levels accelerate the process." Cortisol also encourages your body to store fat—especially visceral fat, which is particularly dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and releases fatty acids into your blood, raising cholesterol and insulin levels and paving the way for heart disease and diabetes. Obviously, getting rid of all anxiety isn't an option. But by taking these seven steps to beat stress, you can get your cortisol levels and your weight under control, and improve your overall health at the same time.

1. Drop and Do 10

That's right, power out some push-ups.

"Moving your muscles is an effective, instant stress reliever. It actually fools your body into thinking you're escaping the source of your stress," says Talbott. "Exercise makes your blood circulate more quickly, transporting the cortisol to your kidneys and flushing it out of your system." But if push-ups aren't practical, just flexing your hands or calf muscles will help move cortisol along, he says. Even taking a stroll on your lunch break is beneficial. In one study, Talbott found that 18 minutes of walking 3 times per week can quickly lower the hormone's levels by 15%. 

2. Go Slowly at Meals

Under stress, we tend to scarf down even healthy food

In fact, research has linked this behavior to bigger portions and more belly fat. But Epel hypothesizes that slowing down, savoring each bite, and paying attention to feelings of fullness may lower cortisol levels along with decreasing the amount of food you eat, thereby shifting the distribution of fat away from the belly. 

3. Stop Strict Dieting

It's ironic, but research shows that constant dieting can make cortisol levels rise as much as 18%.

In addition, when your cortisol levels spike, your blood sugar goes haywire, first rising, then plummeting. This makes you cranky and (you guessed it) ravenous. When your brain is deprived of sugar—its main fuel—self-control takes a nosedive, and your willpower doesn't stand a chance.

"The only way around this is to stop rigid dieting," advises Peeke. She suggests eating three healthful meals and two snacks spaced evenly throughout the day so that your blood sugar stays level: "You won't be hungry, you won't be stressed about being hungry, and you'll still drop the extra pounds." 

4. Give In to Cravings—a Little

When stress drives you toward something sweet or salty, it's okay to yield a little.

"It's much better to indulge in a small way and cut off your cortisol response before it gets out of control," says Epel. "Have a piece of chocolate. You will feel better. Just stop at one." If you have trouble restraining yourself, take precautions so you won't binge. Buy a single cookie when you're out instead of keeping a box at home; or keep them in the freezer so you have to wait for one to defrost. 

5. Curtail Caffeine

Next time you're under duress, choose decaf.

When you combine stress with caffeine, it raises cortisol levels more than stress alone. In one study by the University of Oklahoma, consuming the equivalent of 2 1/2 to 3 cups of coffee while under mild stress boosted cortisol by about 25%—and kept it up for 3 hours. When subjects took 600 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of 6 cups of java) throughout the day, the hormone went up by 30% and stayed high all day long. You'll experience these effects even if your body is accustomed to a lot of lattes. And because high cortisol levels can contribute to stress eating, you might want to consider quitting caffeine altogether. 

6. Power Up Breakfast

Deficiencies in B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body.

And these deficiencies lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings, says Talbott. But you can fight back by eating a breakfast that's high in these nutrients. He suggests some OJ, a grapefruit, or a large handful of strawberries to supply vitamin C; 6 to 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt, which contains calcium and magnesium; and a whole grain bagel or toast with a bit of peanut butter. Whole grains are bursting with B vitamins, while peanut butter contains fatty acids that can decrease the production of stress hormones. 

7. Sleep It Off

The most effective stress-reduction strategy of all: Get enough shut-eye.

"Your body perceives sleep deprivation as a major stressor," says Talbott. A University of Chicago study found that getting an average of 6 1/2 hours each night can increase cortisol, appetite, and weight gain. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. As if that weren't enough, other research shows that lack of sleep also raises levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone. In one study, appetite—particularly for sweet and salty foods—increased by 23% in people who lacked sleep. The good news: A few nights of solid sleep can bring all this back into balance, and getting enough regularly helps keep it there. Says Talbott, "You'll eat less, and you'll feel better, too."

What I've been doing right: Kept going to Pilates (even increasing to five times a week), I'm not dieting (just making wise choices that support my health and not stressing about the occasional splurges on chocolate or turkey bacon).

What I need to change: Be more consistent with adequate sleep (tough when my parents have me up late at night), coffee consumption (been drinking up to four cups a day to help me stay awake and alert), boost foods high in vitamins B and C, calcium and magnesium.

There's an additional article on beating the stress hormone. I'm going to practice one of the tips right now...take a nap!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First she slapped me around some. Then she set me straight.

Just back from Pilates. I feel all blissful right now, but I'm telling you! After that second plank/downward dog/Pilates push-up series, I wanted to cry! And then she beat me up some more with the bridges! And then, right when I was so enjoying the simple little overhead arm stretches, she said something like, "Is anybody feeling more work in this movement than anything else we've done so far?" And I thought, "Damn, these were feeling pretty easy...I must be doing them wrong!"

I have been watching Heavy on A&E this last week. I'm in the same size range as these people. I've been watching them work out really hard, for hours, in order to lose an average of 100 lbs in six months. I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't jealous of their progress. Me, in the going-on-three-year plateau. I watched them do some hill climbing and some modified push-ups and they're crying and I'm judging...until today. I almost cried in Pilates today.

But then later, I had Lori the Wonder Trainer poke me in the abs and squeeze my bicep. She said they're definitely there, the rock hard muscles. So it's not just my imagination. I have earned those muscles (thank you Ms. Lori!) and in time, they will be revealed. She said going back to Pilates five times a week, along with the good food choices, and I'll be sporting these abs publicly. Okay, may I have more, please?

I'm still going to do time on the treadmill. An hour a day. My knees are okay on it, and I can walk and walk and walk...without crying.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Woke up ravenous!

I thought I'd start my day with a slice of Chianti salami, half an avocado and a single Wasa sesame thin cracker. That was less than an hour ago. I was hungry when I woke up, and then my hunger expanded after the avocado. The opposite effect I was looking for. A few swigs of the Lactaid low fat chocolate milk, a Trader Joe's uncured beef hot dog and 1.5 servings of organic garden tomato bisque later, I was into the day by 768 Calories! And I'm still hungry!

Yesterday I ended my day with 2437 calories. Either my period's about to start, or I suddenly have a tape worm. I'm going to ignore the hunger for the next hour and see what happens.

I have a busy day ahead of me, some time on the road, a visit to my parents after running more errands on their behalf, Pilates tonight. I should probably pack some food and water for the ride.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Doin' the numbers

Forsaking the scale is tougher than I had anticipated. I feel the need to crunch numbers. Makes me think I'm in control of something, somehow. So if I'm measuring what I do, rather than what the scale says, I'm more actively connected to the process of achieving optimum health.

Today's breakfast: I really felt like having something warm and soothing, plus needing more fiber at breakfast.

Bob's Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats - 1/2 cup (dry)...190 Cal
Bob's Red Mill Flax Seed - 1/2 T...................................25.5 Cal
Poached eggs - 2............................................................148 Cal
Olive oil - 1 T.................................................................120 Cal
Coffee with fat-free half-and-half - 2 servings....................40 Cal

Total Cal........................................................................524 Cal

(I'll continue to post my food intake throughout the day.)

I'm about to go burn all that off on the treadmill, and then an hour of emotional housekeeping at the therapist should put me into a calorie deficit!

(I told you, this blog was about achieving optimum health and that includes mental health maintenance.)

Later today, I plan to do some weight training with my reluctant son, who is refusing to get out of bed at the moment.

So, it's now after 6 pm. Best laid plans...bungled by life issues. I had meetings all morning, then had to run errands for my parents, so by 3 pm, I was famished! And that's when I make really stupid, STUPID food choices. Fried chicken at the market. Cold fried chicken. Not even good friend chicken. Ugh! I don't even want to know what that does to my numbers today. At least it wasn't KFC or Church's. And I picked up some kale for dinner. Not Catholic, but I believe in food penance!

Didn't exercise, and I'm already tired. Quite sleepy, in fact. I think the chicken was fried in soybean oil, because I feel really lethargic and my knees and shins are aching. So are my neck and shoulders. My son is still working on school work and can't go to taekwondo tonight, so we're not going to hit the gym in the garage either.

Sad news...Jack LaLane passed away. He was 96 and died of pneumonia. Gosh, I thought he was going to live forever! I recall watching him when I was really young. He made an impression. Jack would say, "Anything in life is possible, as long as you make it happen." Au revoir, mon cheri! Thanks for loving America so much.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Push ups, sit ups and squats, oh my!

Today my 13-year-old decided he wanted to start doing some weight training. Presidential fitness stuff coming up, and he wants to be in better shape in general. So, as soon as I started talking about how we needed to do this together, how he needed to be supervised, to add some cardio, use proper form for his push ups, sit ups and squats, his little ears stopped working and he checked out of the whole thing! And now, he's on the Wii, shooting something.

Grrrrr! All middle-schoolers should be sent to Siberian work camps until their attitudes get straightened out!

I'm about to make a batch of healthy burritos to store in the freezer. I'm putting ground turkey, black beans and shredded zucchini, carrots and low fat cheese in them, plus using low-carb, high fiber wraps. I should insist the boys help me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Going through my dresser drawers

Can I throw out all the clothes that are just a little too big for me yet? Some are just t-shirts, stretched out, with stains on them that won't come out...those are definitely going out. And the panties, the big granny ones that I bought once, when I weighed the most, but only wore a few times. I kept them because I was afraid I'd have to use them again. But I'm not! So it's time to toss them!

My room is so clean now, dust free and almost entirely organized. Feels good. Maybe I'll concentrate on the things I need to file next, after the closet's clean. Or maybe not. That feels like my favorite thing on which to procrastinate!

When I was getting divorced, I had so much paperwork sent to me from my lawyer! It's sorted, sort of, but not properly filed. Not much left to take action on. In fact, the lawyer called me to tell me everything is done and I'm getting money back from the escrow account. Like around $1000! I wonder what I should apply it to. Savings I guess. I'm not in debt any more (yipee!), except to the IRS. Yes, they'll know what to do with it!

Hmmm, I just found a few pieces of sexy underwear in the back of a bottom drawer. The kind that makes me feel awkward and itchy, I'm tossing that too! I never, ever want to wear "sexy underwear" that makes me feel like that for anyone, ever again. There are so many other things to wear that make me feel sexy, when I want to feel sexy. For myself.

The 10-week challenge

In my Pilates class, Lori The Wonder Trainer announced the start of the 10-week challenge. We'll be getting extra fitness and nutritional tips from her for a 50-day block, plus we're being challenged to workout five times a week for 10 weeks (but they don't have to all be in Pilates class). The challenge starts right after Valentines Day, since there will be celebratory indulgences in the form of candy, champagne, romantic dinners with lots of extra butter and cream. We're all going to be measured at the start. Others groaned when they heard that part. Not me. I'm so up for this challenge! Never did one before, and I'm ready for a switch up of my routing. I'm looking forward to seeing my results at the end of the challenge.

I've just dropped my caloric intake to 1662 calories...on paper, that is. Wow, it's so tough for me to drop down that far! I get pretty close to the 135 gm of carbs (almost always under 150 gm), tried to limit the protein to under 100 gm, but then I'd always fail on fat intake. And it doesn't seem to take much to go over on fat intake for me, even with very healthy fat choices from olive oil, raw almonds, avocados and fish. Oh, and the cheese...somehow, I gotta have cheese every day! Mostly feta from sheep and goat milk, but cheese nonetheless. And the occasional well-marbled steak or lamb chop. Grass fed, mind you. Nothing but the healthiest indulgences for my body!

I think I need to change my nutrition, increasing my protein to 115 gm. Because I still get so hungry, and that's when I make poor choices, just before going to bed. Like last night, I had a double portion of whole wheat penne rigate with organic vodka sauce and Parmesan cheese. That was over 100 gm of carbs right there! I was 600 calories over my limit.

I'm going to need the extra protein with the added workouts. I'm keeping my Pilates to three times a week. Wish I could do more, but I can't afford the classes right now. I was feeling really great with five classes a week. But cardio is what I need to add, to burn some fat, lighten up and make those Pilates classes even more effective.

I'm not waiting for the challenge to start. I can measure myself now and turn this into a 14-week personal challenge. Not going to weigh in until the end, but I did sneak a peek at the scale and then put it away. 317 lbs. It would be so cool to be under 300 by the end of this challenge! I could throw out so many clothes!

This weekend I'm moving furniture and starting some spring cleaning. I know it's early, but I do have a free weekend for this. The gym is moving from the garage to a studio behind my house. I'll be working hard all weekend. I wonder how many calories that'll burn.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unrealistic expectations

I was thinking over my emotional cycle from the other day and, with the help of a fellow blogger, I realized that I really had unrealistic expectations about losing weight. Or rather, an unrealistic view of how my body accesses fat from storage and the process it goes through in order use it, thereby, using it up and causing me to lose weight. Education is a great way to overcome these unrealistic expectations, so I set out to think things through and do some further research. What I found is that I really knew all the information, but I also wanted to ignore it in hopes that is wasn't entirely true. I still wanted to find an easier way to lose weight. Hey, I'm human!

The daily fluctuations in weight that I experience are entirely based on how much water is in my system at any given moment. Since we humans are "ugly giant bags of mostly water" (Star Trek TNG, season 1, episode 17, "Home Soil"), on days when I drink more, weight goes up, and days when I eat ingest foods/beverages that induce a diuretic effect, I'll weigh less. That fluctuation shows up immediately. It's why we lose weight so quickly when we switch to a very low carb diet (and visa versa when we start eating carbs again). It's very heartening when the rapid weight loss happens in the early stages of a new diet. It was difficult for me not to expect that to happen every time I recommitted to cutting calories/carbs.

What I wasn't paying attention to is the time it takes for my body to convert stored fat into burned energy, and the process that makes that happen. And I didn't want to acknowledge that because it meant that I needed to step up my exercise game. And at my weight/age, that takes time out of my busy life, extra effort, it's going to make me sweat, swear, and feel pain. And I don't like that!

To be honest, I've let my cardio lapse into nothingness. Yes, I do Pilates, three to five days a week, depending upon the needs of the many impinging on the needs of the one. But Pilates, whilst doing great things for the shape of my ass and my core strength (I used to have nearly none), it wasn't firing up my furnace enough to show a great burn of calories. I was doing Cardio Pilates a couple days a week, but then experienced knee pain, so I cut back to once a week, and now, I've dropped it altogether. That really was rough on my knees, even when I avoided the step altogether. I wish I could continue with it. Maybe later, if I can drop another 50 lbs in some other way.

I need to resume a high intensity activity that doesn't kill my knees. I'm going to give my rowing machine and treadmill another shot. 60 minutes of moderate rowing will burn over 1000 calories. 60 minutes of treadmill walking @ 3 mph will burn 469 calories. I can do both everyday, but I'll work up to that level. I've done it before and it didn't impact my knees too much. Since moving to my new house, a lot of my equipment has been collecting dust in the garage. I didn't mean to neglect it, or myself. I'll get back to it tomorrow morning, maybe even tonight. I'm about to move all my equipment from my garage to a room behind my house that will be dedicated to fitness. I need the garage for the car!

Additionally, in order to support myself and relieve a lot of the frustrations that have been fueled by the unrealistic expectations, I'm putting away the scale. I shouldn't be concentrating on what that thing says. I should pay attention to what I'm actually doing to support reaching my goals, and I should pay attention to how much better I'm feeling for the changes I've made in my life, and I should pay attention to how loose my pants and shirts are. And when someone tells me I look like I've lost weight, I should be grateful that the fruit of my efforts is visible to others too.

I'm not the sort of person who compulsively dedicates themselves to a plan of action just because it must be done. I amaze myself that I've stuck to Pilates the way I have. I think I've come to embrace and truly love the progress I've made. Cardio never rewarded me like that, but I wasn't seeing the big picture when it came to that. It's about the burn of calories. So, realigning my understanding of cardio, making the benefits of cardio real, is going to be the challenge. If I'm not weighing everyday, then there has to be some other instant reward system that shows me the pay off. I've yet to experience the dopamine effect from cardio that I experience with Pilates. Maybe it's time to get back to Cardio Coach and attack this from the idea of personal challenges. Again, not something to which I normally respond, but that Sean O'Malley is so motivating! Between resuming cardio work with added inspiration, the positive effects of Pilates, and maybe putting on the old GoWearFit device again, I'll experience measurable success again.

Scarlett Johanson wore a gorgeous gown on the Golden Globes last night. I really want one of those! And someplace to wear it to. And someone to go with. I can make the dress for myself, but in another color. I don't do pink well. As for where to wear it...and the escort...we'll see! One goal at a time.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slight short-term calorie increase = six pound gain???!!!

Really, I increased my caloric intake for two stinking days, by just under 400 calories, and I gained six pounds? And that was only on the second day!

So, I know it's water. And I know I should totally give up weighing in every day. Or even every week. Probably should put the scale away for the next 12 weeks. Which is what I planned to do. But really, this was going to be the last weigh in for 12 weeks, and I'm so frustrated right now! I want to express my anger by eating something so wrong. But I'm the only one who will suffer from that. I have no one to take this out on.

This feels like an EBT cycle...ok, here goes:

First, what am I angry about?
  1. I am angry that even when I make all the best food choices, I don't lose weight.
  2. I am angry that when I make a self-indulgent choice, even when it's within the parameters I set for myself (low-carb, healthy fat, lean protein, vegetables), I gain weight that I struggled so hard to lose.
  3. I am angry that an hour of exercise, five to seven days a week, is only enough for maintenance.
  4. I am angry that my body won't cooperate with me.
  5. I am angry that no matter how talented, smart, accomplished I can be, and no matter how good a friend I can be, or how funny and entertaining I can be, or how much self-confidence I can have, none of those things contribute to how I feel about myself as a fat person.
  6. I'm angry that I even care, because if I didn't, I be a lot less stressed! And it's not like I don't have other things over which I can be stressed!
  7. I feel angry with myself for not being able to eat less.
What am I sad about?
  1. That I'm about to turn 50 and I've missed out on being young and thin and beautiful
  2. I'm sad because I'm about to give this up, this longing to be young and thin and beautiful, and it feels like giving up on that as a goal means I wasted my whole youth on this idea and it was a worthless pursuit. I struggled over wanting this for myself. I wanted someone to appreciate my beauty, but I wanted it to be an effortless beauty because I wanted to be seen as so much more. And in the end, as I became so much more, I was dumped, or overlooked because I didn't look a certain way.
What I am afraid for...
  1. That I will be marginalized as a middle aged woman.
  2. That in this stage in my life, starting over, going in a new direction is going to be a lot harder than I want it to be
  3. That everything I worked at and earned up to now isn't something I can use for my future
  4. I'm afraid I'll be caught up with the struggle to lose weight for the rest of my life, and I really don't want that to be what my life was about.
Right now I'm wondering why gaining a stinking six pounds sets me off like this. That sounds like guilt.
  1. I feel guilty that I'm still caught up with this issue. I wish I were further along in my growth.
  2. I feel guilty when I feel hungry. Why am I equating hunger with guilt?
  3. I feel guilty when I spend so much of my time worried about how much I weigh and what I'm doing about it when I have a new business to run, and children who need my attention.
  4. I feel guilty that I am so concerned with how others see me.
  5. I feel guilty that my life hasn't been as productive as I wanted it to be.
  6. I feel guilty that I didn't stand up for myself sooner
  7. I feel guilty that I didn't know better
I am grateful for a lot of things...
  1. I feel so grateful that I know better now
  2. I feel grateful that I can do things to change my life for the better now
  3. I feel grateful that I am living so differently now
  4. I feel grateful that I am not plagued by an eating disorder, I am not compulsively overeating, that I am making really good health decisions and taking action to improve my health
  5. I am grateful for the improvements in my health that I'm already realizing.
  6. I feel grateful that I can accept that the numbers on the scale are not a grade on my efforts or the changes I've made over the last few years, and they don't tell me how I feel physically - much more vibrant and healthy!
I feel happy that:
  1. I'm still in charge of my life
  2. I'm still creative, strong, brave, smart, unforgettable, accomplished, sophisticated, interesting, a fun person, a good friend, a good mom, a good daughter, and I find value in personal growth.
I feel secure that:
  1. I will continue to care for myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually
  2. I will continue to find joy in life, everyday
  3. Life will continue to be challenging and I will continue to have occasionally sucky days!
  4. I will be able to honor those sucky moments for what they are and know that I will move past that
  5. The bathroom scale doesn't define me, especially to myself!
I feel proud that...
  1. I can walk away from this computer, having left all my angst here, and go on to have a good day
Okay, I feel so much better now! I have things to do! See ya!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Under-reporting calories

Oh, I think I'm a little guilty of this. Or maybe more than that, even. I don't know. I'm trying to figure out why the scale won't budge. I thought I was keeping track of the calories, but some quantities of food weren't actually measured. More like eyeballed.

Yesterday, I weighed in at 320 in the morning. So, so frustrated, so I rebelled and carbed up more than usual, up to just under 200 gm. My caloric intake was up to 2000. I hesitantly stepped on the scale this morning. 317 lbs. I'm so confused!

Today, I continued to crave carbs. I made poor choices for breakfast and lunch. I still logged in what I ate, but I added what I was planning to eat. Now I need to adjust, logging what I actually ate. More whole wheat pasta than I planned, with butter and Romano cheese. Twice as many turkey meatballs as I had planned. No vegetables...not in the mood for them today. I'm craving something more, but I don't know what. I'm thirsty, so more water.

There's soy in the meatballs. I know this because suddenly I'm sleepy. Time for a quick nap.

Pilates was so wonderful this morning! I need more work on my arms, shoulder girdle and traps.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Appetite in flux

Yesterday was a very busy and emotionally full day. In the morning, when I went to Pilates, it seemed I didn't have much strength to accomplish anything. Only managed to get in a couple roll-ups, and my side planks were pathetic. But in a few hours, the adrenalin rush of trying to troubleshoot my parents' life, again, kicked in, and by the time I got home, I somehow got eight loads of laundry done and cleaned most of the house. Didn't feel much like eating yesterday, just under 1500 calories.

I only got five hours of sleep last night, and I've been very lethargic all day. And today I'm ravenous! It's not quite time for dinner and I've already cleared 1500 calories, mostly from carbs. I was craving carbs all day, and my son's bass teacher had just baked cornbread and gave us a piece for the road. It was so good! Sweet and buttery!

So, I'm not so fussy about the change in appetite. Its completely understandable. But I'm annoyed that the recent cut in calories isn't resulting in a loss. I've cut calories back to just around 1600 and I've bounced between 321 and 317. Like I have been when I was eating 1800 calories a day, and 2000 calories a day.

But maybe it's one of those things, where your body shrinks before the scale drops. Because I swear my jeans are really bagging at the waist today, and the seat is droopier, and the thighs are looser, and I'm sort of swimming in my shirt a little too. Boobs are definitely swimming in my old bra!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The one-night-stand

First of all, the title of this post is to see how many are responding to the connotation rather than my web content. I have to say, the bra shopping post is still bringing in viewers! So much for writing with the purest intentions!

Yesterday, I knew I'd be killing some time in the evening at the Starbucks in Weberstown Mall in Stockton, so I saved me some calories so I could get a coffee with cream and perhaps a biscotti. As of the end of an early dinner, I hit just over the 1400 calorie mark. I was thinking another 200 to 400 calories splurged on something chocolaty would be lovely.

Around 9 pm, I was on approach, zeroing in on their refrigerated case that was already wrapped up for the night. Should have taken that as a clue! I looked everything over, and on a whim, asked about the Red Velvet Cupcake. It was a lovely deep magenta shade, with a generous dollop of cream cheese frosting on top. The sales girl assured me that it was a delight, so I caved and ordered one to go with my cup of coffee. I was told that this was going to be the start of a beautiful relationship.

Why can't I ever remember that I'm not a fan of sweets? They look so good, and they smell so nice, and then I pop it in my mouth and I'm so disappointed! It was not the start of a beautiful relationship! It was nothing more than a cheap one-night-stand! I even ventured a second bite, thinking my taste buds must be momentarily malfunctioning. Nope, I was still tasting starchy glue with extra sugar. The frosting didn't do it for me either. I kinda gagged on it.

In the end, I ended up with a knot in my stomach and some intestinal problems that didn't resolve themselves until this morning. I'm so glad that's over!

On a positive note, my really healthy breakfast weighed in at a mere 296 calories. A single poached egg on some wilted spinach, with a squeeze of lemon on top. I cooked it all with olive oil spray, didn't top it with more olive oil, didn't have an English muffin or sourdough toast with it, and no cheese! I still had half and half with my coffee. Don't really feel like giving that up just yet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blogger stats are fun!

So, I've been checking my stats on my blogs. For this blog, I've been averaging 12 hits a day. Until the day I wrote about bra shopping. On that day, I had 202 hits!

Ya'll are so funny!

People are noticing...

Okay, I really haven't lost any weight. This morning I weighed in at 318, but I've been there before and no one said anything. But people I haven't seen in a few weeks told me this week that I look thinner, shapelier. It's got to be the Pilates.

Yesterday I white-knuckled it to 1750 calories. As of 6:50 tonight, I'm at 1420 calories. I'm saving some for later, when I spend an hour at Barnes and Noble and plan to get a coffee with cream. I am hesitant to get something to eat there. Starbucks has very few treats under 500 calories. Wait, I can have a biscotti with my coffee!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bra shopping

Lane Bryant is having a huge sale on their bras right now, buy 2, get 2 free. I dropped by the store because I needed new panties. (My lovely little pup finds them irresistible!) I ended up dropping a chunk o' change on five panties, four bras and three tops.

I have been trying to resist the urge to buy new clothes. I'm still not past a size 26, on the bottom and through my waist, back and upper arms. However, the girls, sadly, seem to be the only thing shrinking on me! I went from a size 44 B (four years ago), that required a single back extender to a 40 B with two or three back extenders. Finally, my breasts have found the right sized home, with almost no gaping at the top of the cups.

Well, I can't really say my lower body hasn't shrunk. The size 26/28 pants were just a little too loose, but not loose enough to drop to the next size. All my lower body shrinkage is due to Pilates. The seats of all my pants are sagging, and there's extra roominess through the backs of the thighs. Things feel looser through my upper torso and my long sleeved shirts are also less clingy from the elbows down. Upper arms, while not shrinking, are actually hanging lower because they're less filled in with fat. And my boys can really feel my biceps and triceps when I flex.

I have one pair of navy slacks I'm very keen to get into. They're cut beautifully and look so awesome with a patterned trench coat and crisp white cotton shirt I bought last winter. I really wanted to wear it this winter. I'm hoping by my 50th birthday next month, I can get into them and stylishly do a little gallery hopping and celebratory drinking with my friend in Sacramento. I have the perfect plunging white bra to wear with that shirt!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I really wish I didn't get hungry

Some days, I'm ravenous. Usually from the day before my period starts until the day before it ends. Fortunately, I'm on approach with the menopause thing. My periods have stretched themselves out to six or seven week intervals over the last year.

Some days, I wake up ravenous, but with a good bit of protein at breakfast, I can manage the hunger levels throughout the day. And as long as I don't eat carbs just before going to bed, I won't wake up ravenous the next day.

On days when I've exercised, my body really wants the extra calories it used up. I'm not really hungry after Pilates, but by three o'clock, get out of my way!

And then today, I didn't feel like eating anything. Not until well after noon, when I went to my mother's for lunch. She manipulated me into eating at her house. She made all my carb-filled favorites. And she pouted till someone ate something. And all I ate was about 4 oz of leftover, dry turkey meatloaf. And now, 1038 calories later (I've been making healthy choices all afternoon, from my own kitchen), I'm still hungry! I just had a huge helping of braised kale and a 4 oz. lean piece of beef, and I'm dreaming of cheesy potatoes, a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with milk, even another hunk of meat and more kale. Anything!

I'm really scared to go into the kitchen. If I go back for some vegetables, I'll really, really want something else. And I'll keep visiting the kitchen until I've found the right thing.

Now I'm craving salted roasted peanuts. I shouldn't be hungry! I just ate 410 calories.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Still struggling with fat intake

So, my total daily caloric intake averages at 1900. That's with getting in my 30 gm of fiber from my 135 gm limit of carbohydrates, 90 gm of protein (and its actually more like 100 gm), and the rest is from healthy fat sources. That puts at least 50% of my caloric intake coming from fats. Doesn't that seem rather high? I've ready that my dietary intake of fats should be somewhere between 10% and 25% of my total calories.

I've got to get a bit more strict with my protein sources. I do like whole eggs for breakfast, but I need to pull that back to a single whole egg plus whites. And I need to give up the beef and lamb for a little while, just to see what that will do for me. I don't like overdoing the poultry because it's really difficult to find true free-range, grass-fed chicken and turkey that isn't fed soy grain. I gave up the Quorn products because I didn't want to eat prepackaged food, and it's so bland! I love the fish; wild caught salmon and sardines are what I eat at least three times a week. I was getting some very low fat proteins from beans, but I wasn't losing weight when I was eating that. Too many carbs.

This morning, Saturday, I just wanted eggs on toast. So that's what I had, a cup of braised baby kale and two poached eggs on a slice of La Brea rosemary and olive oil sourdough bread. And a little olive oil on top of that. And a little half and half in my coffee. 608 calories. 45% calories from fat! It didn't seem like a lot of food to me. I'm satiated, not stuffed. I supposed I could have cut the cream in my coffee, and the olive oil over the eggs and kale. And maybe just eaten one egg. But then I'll want to eat again in a couple hours, and I can't deal with that. The minute I head into the kitchen, I'm in danger of overeating.

I did get a third of my fiber in at breakfast. That braised kale was awesome!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

30 grams of fiber

I've been trying to cut back on calories somewhat. The scale is still not budging. 320 this morning. And yesterday. Last week too. Briefly dropped to 316, but I guess I celebrated too much over that. I was really shooting to break 300 by my birthday next month. I'm reevaluating that goal.

I noticed that my body doesn't like to let go of waste product if I haven't had enough fiber. Since my source of carbs has changed drastically, my body will not release anything until I've ingested the magic number of 30 gm of fiber. It took me a few weeks to figure this out, but today, while tracking my numbers, I finally saw the trend.

Last night, after another day with greens and sardines, I had a fiber craving. In front of me, leftover tortilla chips from New Year's Day festivities. They're the Archer Farms blue corn with flax tortillas. Yummy! Later I had a whole avocado! Along with everything else I ate earlier, I reached the magic 30 gms. I weighed myself after "processing", 318 lbs.

The RDA for fiber is 14 gm for every 1000 calories eaten. That's just over half an ounce per 1000 calories. Wow!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The holidays are officially over...back to veggies!

Today was my first day back to Pilates after the holidays. Oh my gosh! I feel so much better now! I feel awake and healthy, centered and strong. I feel like lifting weights and walking outside. I feel like getting things done!

I need to clean out the fridge. Too many inedible leftovers crowding out space for the veggies. I'm about to make myself some dandelion greens for lunch. And some grilled salmon. I'm hungry!

I'm still on my greens obsession. I found some watercress at the market the other day and I'm not sure what to do with it. Found a recipe for cream of watercress soup. Sounds like what I might be having for dinner. Wish I could have some buttery biscuits to go with it, but instead I'll have some roasted butternut squash.

I've noticed an odd thing lately, if I make sure to include fish at least twice a week in my diet, the weight comes off more easily. So I loaded up on sardines in olive oil, tongol and wild salmon. I also lose more when I eat some avocado. And I don't lose when I cut way back on the fats.

Getting my dairy from full-fat Greek yogurt these days. Just a cup as an afternoon snack, with toasted chopped almonds and a little agave nectar.

Have you heard of this new HCG diet thingy? Take the pills, eat 500 calories and never feel hungry. Sounds like someone's going to make some money! I'm staying away from that one!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The blogging seems self-indulgent, but it should!

Oh dear, today I woke up writing. To a friend and fellow writer, to myself, and now here. The heavy cloud cover and endless string of days without sun have fueled my desire to curl up in front of the fire and get crackin' with the scribbling. Too bad my new desktop doesn't reach that far!

I bought it for my new web design business. Have published one site, have just signed on another contract and have four new clients in the pipeline...still taking classes to learn new skills. It's not fair, going into a new career that seems to constantly add new skill requirements. I mean, it's cool to learn new things because it'll only add to my value and skill set, but I can't afford to rest on my laurels for a minute!

And that also applies to the weight loss game. I'm finding that my body won't let me coast into optimum health. I have to work at it every day. I have to mix it up every day. I can't rely on salad and chicken breasts, 10 glasses of water and an hour's walk to be effective in the long term. I have to go to Pilates three times a week or I'll lose ground with my mobility and I'll be cranky. I can't skip exercise for two days in a row. I can't have extra helpings of pasta or pizza because my body will just hang on to the extra weight even if my total calories are under 2000. I have to get in my eight hours of sleep or I won't lose an ounce, no matter how hard I worked the day before.

*sigh* Accept and move on...stop pouting...that never worked anyway...I must make wise and effective choices in my self-indulgence as well...writing - good, cocooning with cheese - not good.

I'm seriously considering moving my treadmill into my home office. I have a tendency to focus entirely on the writing and web design work for hours and forget to get up and move my body. At the moment, the treadmill is in the garage. It would take some real muscle, but if I can move that thing into my office, I could conveniently break up the hours of sitting. Also, switch out the chair with the Fitball. And start wearing the GoWearFit armband again. I've gotten out of some good habits!

I'm off to walk my rascal dog...after I indulge in a snuggle with her. She's so darn cute this morning!

Monday, January 3, 2011

I haven't given up...I just got waylaid by my life

I'm still here, and still on the road to optimum health. When last we spoke, I'd been checking in and out of Pilates class, struggling to find the right eating plan, as well as struggling with managing stress. I got a few comments (which I didn't post) about my musings...thanks for sharing, but I'm not here to promote a product. If it doesn't work for me, I'll write about it. If is does work for me, I'll do the same. And I don't post "snark".

Where have I been? I moved to a new house in July. It was a very spontaneous thing, but my doctor told me I needed a single story house so my knees would be happier, and it was a great decision. I can now fully participate in Pilates and not have to take time off because I wrenched my knees hauling laundry up and down the stairs.

Things have taken a turn for the worse for my father. His cancer is definitely in stage 4. Hospice is now involved since he's decided to stop all cancer treatment. Choosing to quit cancer treatment didn't mean he was going to pass on immediately, much to his chagrin. He's still hanging in there, and there's a lot more work my mother and I have to do in order to care for both their needs. It has been quite the learning curve for all of us. I'm exceptionally grateful to the local Hospic organization for everything they do for my parents, and in turn, for me as well. They're awesome! I encourage everyone to donate to Hospice.

So, once we settled in to our new home (I love this house so much!), and got the routine sort of under control with my parents, I was able to get back to Pilates again. I've been keeping up with it fairly consistently, and all my pants are now loose in the seat and through the thighs. Yippee! I'm feeling even stronger in my upper body. I can feel my muscles!

I've lost a total of five pounds and have kept it off over the holiday season. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I'm really happy about it. I switched up my eating plan, trying a wide variety of options, and I think I finally found the one that works. It's a modified low-carb diet for endomorphs, which means very lean proteins are important (but not over 90 gms), plenty of healthy fats (from wild-caught fish, avocados, flax), and no more than 135 gms of carbohydrates, sourced from vegetables. I keep my grain and legume consumption at a minimum, and only at dinner. And I'm not too obsessed with calories, as long as I don't go over 2000. Once I got into this groove, I started losing a steady .5 lbs/week. I know, it doesn't sound like a satisfying rate of loss, but I'm really happy with it. Because it's for life!

I've been playing with my food, trying new things. Since breakfast is the most carb-free meal of the day, I'm trying new things so I don't get stuck in an Atkins bacon and egg rut. This morning, I had braised collard greens and roast turkey chuncks in a turkey broth with lemon juice. I had braised the greens with garlic, shallots and bacon for New Year's, so I had some leftover. I know, there are those of you who are thinking "ick!" but I really loved them! I've been going a little nuts with the greens since Christmas. Swiss chard, young kale, dandelion greens, collards, mustard and turnip greens. And those collards are loaded with fiber! I have had braised greens with poached eggs for breakfast too. Yum!

Tonight I'm going for roasted asparagus, brocolli rabe and wild-caught Alaskan salmon for dinner. Maybe I'll have some oven-crisped sweet potato fries with garlic on the side.

Enough about food! Recently my Pilates instructor started a cardio Pilates class. At first, I tried going twice a week. That was too much for my knees. I cut back to once a week, but I still hurt my knees and wasn't inclined to get back to the regular Pilates class the next day, for the same reasons. I'm going to stick to Pilates three days a week and walking (60+ minutes) seven days a week. I can add some free weights at home, three times a week. I'm hoping I can get back to lunges after I lose another 30 lbs. Right now, it's just a little too much for me.

Until next time...