The Sleep Correlation

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It’s a miracle! Seriously, a fricken miracle occurred this morning when I woke up and realized that my two-year-old slept through the night without waking up. She’s never really been a bad sleeper, but last Wednesday night she learned how to escape her crib. We considered ourself lucky that she’s made it this long staying in her crib, but now we need to transition into a toddler bed. We haven’t changed the bed yet, but for the past few nights she’s woken up at 1 a.m. like clockwork.

My husband and I have always maintained a strict no-kid-in-the-bed policy so instead of letter her escape her crib and crawl in with us like she wants, we take her back to her room and end up sitting on the floor waiting for her to fall asleep. It’s exhausting! And with this newly-found exhaustion comes all sorts of pains and ailments and bad habits in the daylight hours. Being more tired than normal in the morning makes me want to reach for a Coca-cola for a caffeine fix (I’ve never been a coffee drinker), and that leads to wanting an Egg McMuffin or a bagel sandwich. It took every ounce of restraint in my body to stick with having fruit and cereal each of those mornings and not giving in to the indulgences I was craving. Random fact: IF I would have gone to McDonalds and grabbed an Egg McMuffin meal, it would have cost me 16 points, just under half of my daily allowance.

These last few days have really made me take a closer look at the true correlation between eating habits (and by extension exercise and other healthy lifestyle habits) and sleep. On days that I wake up after getting a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep, I feel motivated and easily stick to the goals and plan that I’ve created for myself. Whether it’s breakfast or dinner, the whole day just seems to be easier when it comes to eating and passing on indulgences. In comparison, these last few days have been nothing but difficult for me on many fronts. I’ve wanted to eat junk and avoid cooking. I’ve wanted to nap for hours instead of staying active. And, most noticeably, my overall mood has just been sluggish and short. 

So this realization (not revelation because none of this information is truly new or outstanding) then begs the question, on days when my overnight sleep is less than stellar, what can I do in the morning or throughout the day to help me stay active and on track? Can I eat superfoods during breakfast to increase my chances of staying energized? Should I take a power nap after lunch to re-energize myself? Is it best to just call in sick for the day? Are vitamins the answer? These are all questions racing through my mind because I know the struggles of having a toddler will be around for quite awhile. Every day for my daughter is new and is part of her overall transition from baby to young girl, and that means sleeping issues, varying eating habits, tantrums and mood swings. I’m definitely ready to help her during this period, but I’m not as ready to help myself stay on track while I put so much focus on her. 

I won’t lie, I’m worried about weighing myself tomorrow for my weekly weigh-in. Although I didn’t go crazy a single day in the last week, I’ve just been feeling really sluggish. I certainly don’t think I’ve gained a pound, but I have a feeling I didn’t lose any weight either. Now is that the end of the road for my journey – a week without weight loss? Absolutely not, but it is a bit discouraging during a long weight-loss journey. I guess speculating won’t make it any easier either so it’s best to just wait and see what the scale says in the morning. As for the issue at hand … I was lucky to sleep through the night last night so I’m keep up hope that we have another good sleeper tonight. Fingers crossed!

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Tuesday Test Day

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I thought it was hard going to work and being on a diet. When you sit at a desk and stare at a computer all day long, one way to pass the time is to snack. That’s part of how I let myself get into this mess. On top of the boredom-eating there’s the perpetual treat table and celebrating of everything from birthdays and new hires to major sporting events and springtime. Now don’t get me wrong, my company shows how much they care and appreciate their employees to no end. I’ve never worked for a company before that gave so much back on all levels, and I am truly appreciative, but oftentimes that giving back is in the form of food!

For example, yesterday while I was sorting through my emails (as we all do on Monday mornings), I read through an email that congratulated our department for collecting the most items in a fundraiser. For doing the best (in a quad-state, thousands of employees company) we get “gourmet sub sandwiches,” sodas and brownies this Friday. Now, what exactly will make these sandwiches gourmet? I’m not sure, but I know it’s not on my Weight Watchers plan. Last Friday as I was leaving work an email blast was sent out stating that pizza was available on the other side of the floor because they “grotesquely over-ordered.” The extra food is everywhere! I skipped the pizza on Friday and went home to have dinner with my family. This coming Friday I’m planning on bringing my lunch and snacks, like I have been the past couple of weeks, and praying my self-control stays strong!

But I digress, as this isn’t about last week or three days from now, but instead is about how awfully tempting and difficult today has been for me! Today is my first day home from work when it isn’t a normal weekend with family bustling about. Every few weeks each of us in my department works a weekend day and in exchange we get a day off in the middle of the normal workweek. Today is my “comp day” and that means I’m home doing various chores around the house and relaxing. Normally it’s also a day where I splurge on lunch grabbing something that I don’t get too often or I’m craving. Usually it’s a full-length sub worth two days of Weight Watchers Points (of course I wasn’t actually tracking points when I ate them) or a large McDonalds meal or something with another friend if they were off work. On top of that I always snacked while at home whether I’m sitting on the couch watching TV or folding laundry. So today has been my first big test. 

I woke up and got my daughter ready for school and out the door with my husband. From there I had some fruit and felt satisfied. I even thought to myself that today would be a piece of cake. The real temptation came a couple of hours later when I headed out of the house with my dogs for their annual check-ups at the vet. Driving by various fast food restaurants and cafes where I could have easily grabbed a delicious, fattening breakfast sandwich or smoothie (not the healthiest of kinds) was difficult. Although I didn’t have to physically keep myself from turning the steering wheel into one of those restaurant’s parking lots, I did have to consistently remind myself Why I was watching my food intake and How stopping would affect my overall goals. Have no fear, I didn’t stop.

Lunchtime was then approaching after the visit to the vet and my mind swirled with ideas of what I could eat for the midday meal. I thought to myself, “how many points is …” and compared restaurant to restaurant with all of the answers being way higher than reasonable for just one meal for the day. From there my mind went into overdrive putting serious consideration into having a “skip day” each week in my diet plan. I was very intently comparing the pros and cons to having a skip day and thinking about making that skip day Tuesday since it would have served me very well at the moment. Thankfully, I’m a practical and analytical person because once I thought about that I turned that train of consideration into thinking about how irrational it is to choose to have a skip day based solely on wanting a Big Mac, figuratively speaking. Again, I didn’t stop for lunch while out and about running errands. 

Today so far I have kept my snacking to a minimum and have stuck to my Weight Watchers plan. I had the fruit and a bowl of Special Kay Red Berries with soy milk in the morning. For lunch I ate a SmartOnes Weight Watchers meal (quite tasty I might add) and along the way I also ate a serving of Special K Popcorn Chips (seriously addictive). That means I still get to enjoy dinner, no matter what I prepare, because I’ve left plenty of points and stuck to my plan. For that, I have zero regrets about the day. I’m hoping by the time my next day off or day home alone comes around that I’m more used to being on this diet plan and it isn’t quite so hard to stick to the foods I’ve stocked in the house. I have plenty of tasty snacks including fruits and veggies, 100 calorie snack packs, and granola to help keep me going through any day of the week. I just need to remember that I actually really do enjoy all of those things and when actually eating them they are just as satisfying as eating something else I would have splurged on before …. AND I feel way better at the end of the day now than before.  So, I just need to keep trucking on and keep focused on my overall goals. It’s only been a week, but I haven’t broken stride during that week. I know I can do this, no matter how difficult some of these moments seem to get.

By the way, at the prompting of my Weight Watchers iPhone app, I will be weighing in weekly. I really hate seeing alerts on my phone and my WW app had an alert pop up this morning. So, to let me OCD tendancies rest a bit and to get into a good routine, I will be weighing in on Wednesday mornings. I have to qualms about sharing my progress, even if it is a lack of progress on the scale, so I will definitely share with anyone reading how my first weigh-in goes. Last Tuesday (the day I signed up for Weight Watchers), I weight 248 pounds. What do I weigh today? I’m not sure, but if that scale shows even 247 I’ll be an ecstatic camper. Wish me luck!

Moo Moos Not Allowed

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I never made a promise to blog daily, but I was hoping to sit down and write a line or two at least once a day. With how crazy the last couple of days have been (sick kid, work, etc) I wasn’t able to even open my computer. And for that I feel a little guilty, but I assure you things are still right on track.

This is Day 4 of Weight Watchers and day four of curbing my eating patterns. More than once I’ve been tempted to reach for a candy bar, extra soda or bag of chips (among other options which are kept in my household), but each time I have resisted. The times I haven’t resisted have been carefully calculated and added to my daily totals. Although I have guiltlessly tapped into my weekly extra allowed points, after all they are there for a reason, I haven’t gone overboard even once. And as this is my first week, I don’t think using the extra points makes me the worst participant in the world!

But anyway, back to the real topic at hand here and a topic that has irked me for a very very long time. My irritation with this topic goes back to high school when I was athletic and fit and my sister was overweight. Not only was she overweight, but she put little effort into wanting to dress well or take care of her outward appearance. So when opportunities arose to put on our “Sunday Best” or go to a school dance, I was the one that helped her find something that not only fit her well, but made her feel good. 

I remember once such instance in high school when we needed to have an outfit to wear for a family gathering. The discussion between me and her took a dramatic turn when she said to me “well lets just go to Target or Walmart or something, I know they have clothes that’ll fit me. I doubt we’ll find anything trendy somewhere else.” To that I told her “moo moos are not allowed.”

Now before I get hate mail about the clothing sold at Walmart or Target, this is absolutely not bashing the clothing lines they carry or a debate about expensive vs inexpensive options. No, this is a debate about people (small or wide) that dress themselves in bags just because of the perception that those items are the ONLY articles of clothing that will fit their body. On the same side, squeezing into a sausage casing with rolls hanging over the top and out the side is equally unattractive and unnecessary. In this day and age there is no reason why anyone of either gender or any body type should dress in clothing “just because it’s the only option.” If you want to squeeze into something and don’t mind the feel, then all the more power to you. If a sack is the most comfortable thing and that’s what you want then go for it, but don’t tell me that you have to buy a moo moo just because it’s all your size allows. It’s not true.

As I gained weight I had to do a lot of adjusting in what I wore. No longer were some patterns or colors the most flattering on me (perhaps that’s just my own perception as well). Not only that, but the type of pants I wore and the shirts I selected all had to be re-thought so that I chose the option that would be the most flattering. It wasn’t that I couldn’t wear what I wore before, but those items no longer fit my body properly. I may have gained weight, and yes my self-esteem lowered, but I could still dress myself and look good in the clothes that fit my body. 

Now with that being said, although I choose clothes that fit my rotund body to the best of clothing’s ability, I still don’t like the overall effect. I don’t like that I’m now that large girl in the photographs or that when I look in the mirror I don’t really recognize myself. So that’s why, despite having an eye for oversized fashion (apparently), it’s time to lose the fat and get back into those skinny jeans. Hell, I’d be happy to get back into those normal-sized jeans again. 

As the days pass I’m able to work on what I really want to do while on this weight-loss journey. There’s decisions about wearing trackers like a pedometer or having a “skip day” or posting photos about my progress. I even need to decide whether to weigh in daily, every other day, once a week or once a month. And to be honest, I’m still not sure about any of those choices. When I lost weight last time I weighed in daily, but I became obsessed with the number and would analyze what the scale said to the tenth of a pound. I don’t think I want to do that this time. I think I want to make this truly about changing my lifestyle with the weight loss being the ultimate bonus. As for the tracker, I’ve been considering a Fit bit, any thoughts? I guess I’ll have to make some of the decisions as I go, but consistency is key so eventually I’ll get a good pattern created. I haven’t weighed myself since the day I started, and I’m not ready to do it yet because I truly think it’s too soon to worry about the numbers. Right now I’m busy worrying about restraint and self-control. Hmmm, but what about that skip day thing?

Today is the NCAA March Madness game with my Wisconsin Badgers playing Oregon. And the Wisconsin Badgers are in the Big 10 championship game in hockey and those are both reasons to pull out the wings and chips! I think i’ll stick to the snacks I laid out for today instead. Just pass me some fruit and my Special K popcorn chips …. I’ll splurge on that Coke though!

Shit … This Is Hard

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Today was my first full day on Weight Watchers. Not only that, but it was my first day back at work after 11 days out of the office for a Caribbean vacation. What a torturous combo!

Today I drank Coca-Cola (gasp!) and ate pizza (oh the horror!) for dinner. And guess what? I kept entirely within my allowed points. On top of that, I feel satisfied without feeling stuffed and I haven’t felt all the shitty stomach stuff that has seemed to plague me day-in and day-out in recent history.

However, that being said, work was hard and eye-opening. I knew I snacked a fair amount each day at work, but not being able to snack the same way today made me realize just how awful I was eating. I was thinking of comparing a normal snack day to today, but stopped myself thinking “wow, how pathetic will that make my habits look.” And then another immediate thought, “isn’t sharing that exact information what writing this is all about?” YES!

So, after my inner-self finished debating, I decided that the best way to illustrate just how awful and wacky my eating habits were (let’s be honest, still are since only time will tell), I would describe a day in eating on a normal work day and compare that to today. To top it off, I’ll put add the Weight Watchers points for both days as well. Here goes nothing …

Standard Work Day
Breakfast: plain bagel (toasted & buttered) with an egg, cheese & ham, glass of apple juice, banana. Points: 17
Snacks at Work: goldfish crackers, cup-o-noodles, chocolate, coke. Points: 21
Lunch: healthy choice cafe steamers meal, coke, cheese stick, Reece’s peanut butter cup. Points: 19
Dinner: McDonalds Big Mac, medium fries and a coke. Points: 26
TOTAL: 83 (mind you my allowance is 38 points w/a weekly extra bank of 49 points)

Total
Breakfast: Special K Red Berries w/soy milk and fresh raspberries. Points: 6
Snacks: Fiber One granola bar, pretzels. Points: 7
Lunch: healthy choice meal, cheese stick, coke. Points: 12
Dinner: pepperoni pizza, coke, banana. Points: 23
TOTAL: 38

That comparison is horrifying. I would cry over that evidence of my ignorance if I wasn’t so damned determined to fix myself. How much do you think you’re eating each day? Write it down just once; the results may be alarming.

The Ailments

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It dawned on me about 6 months ago that the weight gain has become an issue far beyond cosmetics and slowing me down with daily activities. I’ve been keeping track of all the health-related issues that have been plaguing me (aside from the flu/common cold) recently and I’m pretty sure All of them are related to my unhealthy weight.

My ailments (so to speak):
1. Back problems – far too many to name.
2. Poor skin quality
3. Brittle/breaking nails
4. Acid reflux/heartburn
5. Sore/aching feet/ankles/calves/knees
6. Chest pains
7. Headaches/migraines
8. Trouble sleeping
9. Exhaustion
10. Dizziness/fainting
11. Gastrointestinal problems
12. Muscle cramps
13. Irregular menstrual cycles

… And others that have slipped my mind. To clarify, none of those symptoms have been common in my life when not directly related with a sports injury, accident or pregnancy.

That’s a lot of issues popping up here and there. That’s a lot of feeling like shit day in and day out. I simply refuse to have to continue living this way. I don’t have to feel awful all of the time or be concerned about whether the seat belt will buckle the next time I fly. But if I don’t take the necessary steps to change then those ailments and my physical appearance will only get worse. So as I get ready to fall asleep on my last night before the change in habits commences, I hope I dream about a healthy lifestyle free of frivolous aches and pains.

Cheers to change … And if you’re struggling to sleep, instead of counting sheep, count my pounds, there’s enough to help you through a night of insomnia.

Taking Over … a.k.a. cutting ties with the pounds

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I just got back from vacation with my family. While in the Caribbean my family had formal portraits on the beach taken. I was the beached whale.

When I was younger, and really until just before having my child, I was the smallest in the family. My waistline always was or appeared to be small in comparison to my family members. That isn’t the case anymore. My sister recently lost more than 100 lbs with the help of a Minneapolis-based program called Slimgenics. My mother and best friend lost weight the same way. All the while I’ve put on more than 40 lbs since getting married in 2010 and having a child in 2012.

Things that used to be easy for me have now become difficult daily tasks. Climbing the stairs takes the breath out of my lungs, tying my shoes is a challenge because folding my body in half to reach the laces feels impossible, and don’t even get me started with normal bathroom/shower/hair/makeup tasks — all of them make me want to cry.

On top of the fact that my eating habits mimic those of my two-year-old, I’ve added desk-job to my resume and find myself staring at a computer screen and sitting static for 8+ hours each day. Every wonderful change in my life has helped to add pounds to my body, and I wouldn’t change anything in my recent history, but now I’m ready to shed the weight and keep moving forward.

I’ve tried a lot of different programs in the past including Nutrisystem, the online version of SlimGenics, Weight Watchers and my own program focusing on using the mobile app LoseIt. Between WeightWatchers and LoseIt I was able to lose 40+ pounds before my 2010 wedding. I felt beautiful in my wedding dress, and I want more than anything at this moment to look in the mirror and feel beautiful again.

When my dad showed me the pictures that we took on the beach I was horrified at what I saw because I was in denial about just how much weight I had put on and what it had done to my appearance. It wasn’t me that I was looking at anymore, but instead it was someone without self-control and lacking self-respect. More than how I view myself, I’ve realized with absolute certainty that if I can’t respect myself because of how I am right now, then how will my daughter respect me as she grows up. How will she learn to grab grapes before she grabs a Snickers or asks for a home-cooked meal before a Happy Meal at McDonalds if I don’t do those things myself?

So, it was while I was on the vacation that I made the decision to change. I know I can’t change overnight, but I am taking steps to change for the better. I’ve re-signed up for WeightWatchers online and ordered myself a FitBit so I can getter a better picture of just how active (or inactive) I am each day. I also started this blog. When I lost weight before I blogged about it and it really helped me to stay accountable because people were reading about my progress, asking questions and encouraging me. So here I go and wish me luck!

MY STATS:

30 yrs old, female, married with one child

248 lbs on 3/18/14 with a BMI of 40

First goal: 20 reach 225 lbs (lose 23 lbs) by June 1.