The Fat Effect

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When I was younger I used to challenge myself (just mentally, not aloud) to take the stairs two or three steps at a time. How the hell did I even do that?

Now I’m mentally bargaining with the powers at be to let me live if I make it to the top! Instead of taking them two at a time it’s more like, “I’ll climb two steps and you find someone to carry me the rest of the way.”

As part of implementing new aspects of healthier living to my overall program I decided to make sure I take the stairs to the top floor to my office at least once per day. Well, I’ve gone above and beyond that and have taken the stairs every time I head to my office the last 3 days. What’s an elevator for again? Just kidding, but it’s honestly been a conscious effort.

Anyone climbing the stairs behind me or who happens to stumble upon me when I’m at the top would probably be concerned for my well being. Since it’s an enclosed stairwell, I’ve been taking a minute at the top to regain my composure before walking to my desk. If I walked in right away they’d hear slight wheezing or panting. The sweat on my brow would probably make them assume I have a virus and force me into using a sick day.

Man how times have change. This extra hundred pounds i’ve been carrying around really affects the most menial of tasks in the worst way. Again I’m reminded that this journey is totally worth it.

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!

First Week & Three Pounds Down

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I finished my first week of Weight Watchers and weighed myself on Wednesday. To my delight, I lost three pounds! Now I know in the grand scheme of things three pounds is a drop in a lake, but it’s a start!

In the first week I didn’t cheat, use all of my extra weekly allowed points or forget to track a single item. Although not everything I ate was healthy for me, I still kept to the overall guidelines of eating just 39 Weight Watchers points worth of food per day … Or 39 plus a few of the weekly allowance if necessary. So by definition of the rules of the program, I succeeded. Future mini goals will incorporate using the Fit Bit I purchased and incorporating exercise. Slow down me! One step at a time.

My goal for this week is simple: use fewer of my weekly extra allowance. Yes, yes my overall goal is to lose a couple of pounds this week as well, but in an effort to achieve that my mini goal is to adhere even closer to that strict daily allowance.

The usually most difficult part of any person’s week for dieting is right around the corner: the weekend. For me, however, it shouldn’t be to rough because I work all day Saturday and can easily plan my breakfast, lunch and snacks without having access to any extras. I’m hoping to spend some time playing outside at the playground or park with my daughter as well this weekend. Each time we go I try to be more involved than the last time which helps me burn calories while we both have a great time. Thank goodness for the weather in the Southwest and being able to spend time outside when other parts of the country are still struggling with winter weather.

Alright, well there are only a couple of hours remaining until my daughter and husband get home and I still have several chores to tackle. I’m happy to be home early today because I can actually spend some time making dinner for us. On the menu for dinner: garlic and basil orzo with chicken. Not only do both my husband and I enjoy it, but my daughter devours it like chocolate! I seriously can’t wait for dinner.

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.