Saturday, October 22, 2016

Inching towards the end of October

My "test weekend" is coming up (first weekend in November is always a conference that trips me up). But, it has gotten easier to steer away from the carbs. When I'm hungry I eat and when I get hungry enough to eat, I keep it lowish carbs by grabbing a cheese stick or some nuts.

And, it's working. I am NOT counting calories. I am NOT trying to limit how much I eat to a degree. When I say that I "AM" controlling what I eat, I am. I am not just eating whatever, but I'm making sure to only eat when I'm hungry, not getting too hungry, but I don't stuff myself. I enjoy my food and stop when I know I've had enough. If I am still hungry 30 minutes later, I eat more. I tell myself that it's better to eat that extra slice of cheese or protein bar than it is to give into the donuts or the chips. THAT is what is helping me - I'm realizing I need something and if I don't eat something, I know that means I will eventually grab something that starts a downward spiral. It's much better to eat an extra 200-300 calories in a low carb, satisfying snack than it is for me to deny my hunger and then eat 1000 calories or more in Oreos later.

My need for carbs, for now, is diminished too. I have been dealing with those temptations much more easily. Could change tomorrow, but for now, it's true.

And to see "how much damage" eating low carb and for hunger has caused - meaning... I'm not restricting and eating more than I would if I were restricting to X calories, I realize my hunch is right (so far)... I am losing weight - which isn't even a goal. My goal is to just get through this tough time of year and not gain MUCH over the fall/winter.... But, the scale is down 6 pounds for the last 3 weeks. And, no that is not "it's a new diet loss" either. I started eating lower carb the beginning of July... who knows how much I lost between then and the end of September - My clothes are fitting better and I can wear some things I couldn't "again", but it's not feeling like WORK because I'm not restricting... I had just gotten so carbed up that my caloric intake had gotten out of balance with my hunger.

Who knows where I'll stabilize, but if this keeps up, I'll believe that perhaps I found my secret to success (I barely dare to believe it)... don't worry so much about calories - just where those calories come from and if I do that, the damage done will be FAR, FAR less than just giving in to the carb monster. Still 20 pounds over where I was last end of October though, but I it's a snail's race... a lifelong race.

Just how to deal with times I can't control my food for longer periods of time. The next few days my younger son and I will go on a trip to Philadelphia. Then... in the beginning of November I go to a conference where I have even less control over my food... Thanksgiving is fairly easy as I make a LOT of delicious low-ish carb dishes I adore. Christmas is fairly easy too if I don't do much baking (and I haven't done much the last few years)... New Year's we've adjusted by making it a cheese fondue with veggies... It's these "trips" that derail me more than ANYTHING... while fall is hard and that compounds problems, each time I've fallen off the wagon with limiting carbs has been while on a trip or at a conference in the fall. Heck... even our vacation to Croatia 5 years ago did me in... but it was still summer, so I was able to get it back together at least temporarily before I got derailed in the fall (after going to a conference).

The good news - more and more places are picking up on the "low carb" lifestyle, so getting a satisfying meal that is low carb is easier, but quick/cheap meals that are low carb is still difficult.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

And still chugging - test will come in November

I am definitely feeling the desire for more food and more sleep as the summer closed out and fall began. My heart last Sunday sank when it realized that waking at 6:15 am now meant waking in blackness too. The seasons fly by me even faster as my life is fuller and busier. I feel like summer foods and eating just started and yet, we are having to go back to our fall standbys of brussels sprouts and store tomatoes already as the apples and pumpkin spice everything roll in.



The last two years where I had lots of good losses on the scale in summer, I tried to keep up with the same pattern of eating and loss... which lead to 30 pound weight gains both winters as I couldn't keep it up. I would get too hungrier and sleepy and that makes me want sugars and eventually and gradually I would go from allowing one sweet a day, to 1500-2000 calories a day of sugar (or more).

As I stated last time, my goal is not to try to keep up with the same level of restriction, because I've learned I can't manage that. My goal is to keep my carb level low. So, if I want to eat more, I choose low carb foods for that "extra". The hope, is that perhaps I'll see no weight loss, but maybe also no weight gain or minimal weight gain. When you eat low carb foods you don't get the insulin spike which then makes you want to eat even more. Carbs start that vicious cycle for me of ramping up more and more sugar highs that are really hard for me to  "come off" carbs in spring/summer. This year it took until July. The year before that it was late May.

How am I doing so far? So far so good. I did step on the scale the other day out of curiosity and my guess of my weight was correct. I've gone up and down so many times and no what clothes fit when so well, that it's easy to know.  I've lost some weight as some clothes are significantly looser and some that were too tight are fitting now... which is great as I feel better, but I'm not going to get stuck on looking at numbers. Goal is STRICTLY to keep low carb and not worry about weight and see where it leads me - while adding in more movement to my days too.

The movement part was going great with daily walks, until I sprained my foot and "slightly" sprained my ankle almost 2 weeks ago. I had to stay completely off my feet for 5 days and ice it, but after that I started moving around a bit and after 10 days took a walk... I'm about back to normal. I even did some jump rope with the kids in Sunday School this past Sunday.



I created a "junk drawer" of low carb snacks too - roasted almonds, roasted peanuts, 3 different kinds of low carb protein bars and a low carb shake mix and in the fridge apples, cheese sticks and in the pantry, peanut butter. At dinners I skip the starch or don't even serve it. I'll eat a protein and veggies. My treat for the night is one square of dark chocolate.

I really have no idea of what my caloric intake is... It varies from day to day. Yesterday was around 1500 I think, day before was about 1300, probably the day before that was around 1900.

The real test for keeping it low carb will be the beginning of November - THREE TIMES now I've gotten derailed the first weekend of November and it started the downward spiral. So, that I'm seeing success now is great, but that isn't new for me... I was able to keep it low carb (though more difficulty)... November is the trick.

I've also considered have one day every 2-3 week "carb day" as staring at all the yummies and never having them is REALLY hard, but I don't know if I can handle it or not. So, for now. I'm not going that route. For when I do want a treat/snack, I'll try a few things I've discovered that have a hint of sweet, but are low carb enough to not spike me. Like rolled oats with almonds or pecans and a bit of brown sugar and butter baked over sliced apples (with skins on) and topped with a bit of slightly sweetened whipped cream. Kind of like this:






Monday, September 5, 2016

Way too long - but I still try to plug along

I am here. You are probably are not! So... what's the deal with me?

Well, last year when I got back into this (some time in May) I started great. I was doing great. Fall hit... I started to slip. Winter hit, really slipped. Slipped all through spring getting worse and worse... and then when it was FINALLY full swing summer, I finally got my act together.

This season fluctuation for me is either worse, or my life is such that I handle it worse - I think it's the latter.

So... I decided I needed to try something different as I couldn't have half a year of doing great and half a year of doing horribly.  (and last year it was more than half a year of doing horribly!) I had to really find what are the big issues I have and find better ways of dealing with them as what I was doing - being near perfect and being healthy to falling completely off the wagon and falling back on all terrible habits was horrible for my health. And to figure out WHY I was failing so much....

What I know about myself - without a doubt:

  1. I am a carb addict.
  2. Carbs are terrible for my blood pressure, mood, and make we gain weight AND make me congested so I snore and therefore get worse sleep, which then leads me to wanting to eat more carbs.
  3. My ability to cope with good habits are extremely seasonally influenced. I can and do eat well and move well in late spring, summer, and early fall. I feel horrible, eat horrible, and give up in late fall, all winter, and early/mid spring.
  4. I am more tired in Fall and winter (I must have been an animal who hibernated in a former life).
  5. I am more hunger in fall and winter (you know... have to bulk up to survive the winter hibernation!)


And this is what I have tried to do in the past:
  1. Get really good habits going by limiting carbs.
  2. Move more to dull the depressive state of fall/winter with SADD.
  3. Daily weighing in to keep motivated and stay on target (as that has been a good motivator - for when I'm doing well).
  4. Try to stay in the "losing" column as I am overweight and I don't like being overweight and it's not healthy for my body.
  5. Exercising in some way to keep the nibble "bug" out of my head.
Well, obviously, something I was doing (repeatedly) wasn't working if I couldn't keep it up. I needed to figure out a new plan. Plans needed to be more forgiving and more accepting of my tendencies... fall/winter is hard... I want to eat more. I am more tired. I am wanting to give up more easily and quite literally say, "fuck it" to myself.

Now, fortunately, I haven't COMPLETELY given up since I started out with trying to live healthier 6 years ago. While I keep yo-yoing tremendously, I still feel I can do this (need to do this) and I haven't come to getting back to my top weight. I "think" I didn't get close to my last year's top weight either because clothes I wore last year fit with more "ease" this year than when I bought them last year. So, as much as I struggle.... I am, overall, in a better place than I was 6 years ago. It's just finding a better way.

So, my plan has shifted. I have no idea if it will work, but I hope it does as I learn more about myself. Here's what I'm doing.
  1. I am trying to steer mostly clear from sugars/carbs. And if I eat them, I try to make them potatoes as for some reason, my blood sugar doesn't spike with potatoes.
  2. I am not weighing myself. I haven't stepped on a scale in 3/4s of a year.
  3. I try to eat for hunger and try to make choices that will fill me long term- fat and protein, not carbs.
  4. When I want a snack... even though I "probably" have had enough calories for the day to break even, I allow myself a protein/fat snack, not a carb snack. 
  5. I am admitting to myself right now that I should concentrate on staying away from carbs more than anything else. I should not be concentrating on losing weight to "get back into those cute clothes". Restricting in spring and summer has worked for me, fall and winter leads to carb craving and caving... which then leads to weight gain - lethargy, snoring, etc.


My hope is that if I can stay away from the carbs, even if it means in eating a bit too much in fall winter in fats/proteins, that they weight gain would be modest in winter (if at all) and that it would be easy to get and stay in better eating modes in spring and summer if I don't have to detox my body of carbs over and over again. That, the overall trend would be to lose weight, but at a slower pace. Like, Lose 10-15 in spring summer, gain 5-7 in winter, lose 10-15 in spring/summer, etc... That is much better than what I had been doing - losing 30 in summer, gaining 30 in winter, etc.

If it were just about the weight, I would be annoyed with these HUGE swings year to year, but it's not just the weight. The weight is the least of it. It's that I get so sad... and lethargic... and my blood pressure goes up and my blood sugars go out of balance and I start to snore which not only disturbs my husband, but disturbs my sleep too and it is 100% related to eating too many carbs. I MUST keep that carb count low for my health - mental and physical.

It's only September, but I have been doing this plan for the last 2 months. I know I've lost weight as I can see it in my face and see it in my clothes, but I have no idea with the weight loss is. I don't want to know, actually as I don't want to see that I'm "failing" at more weight loss as winter approaches. I am concentrating on moving more and eating few carbs PERIOD.



Like yesterday, I have had a very stressful week. I had little sleep (due to a stressful week) and I wanted to EAT. I really wanted to have carbs... instead, I stopped and got a chicken sandwich and fries for lunch (taking off the bread). It was good... satisfied my "fuel" need and it was so filling that I didn't need dinner last night - except for some salted tomatoes (yum!)... in the end, I probably broke even with calories yesterday, but more, I didn't eat the insulin boosting carbs my body REALLY wanted and therefore, ate FAR few calories than I would have for the day and didn't start that carb roller coaster I cannot manage.

I hope this approach will work. I need it to work as I'm tired of feeling tired... and worn out... and beaten up half the year and I blame the carb monster telling my brain that all I need to fix that lethargy is CARBS... it is such a temporary fix... but in fall/winter/early spring, my brain believes it! And once I start, the addiction is renewed and fiercer than ever.


Friday, December 4, 2015

Sizing and fit

We are all built very, very differently and I think those differences in build get exaggerated when you add extra weight in fat. Some people gain weight all over, well distributed. Some gain weight more in their butt, or gut, or bust, etc. I gain all over, but as I age, my middle section sees more and more of the weight gain and the weight loss, but I am lucky in that I have a fairly well-proportioned build, but I have a round rib cage and large breasts.

Currently, I have lost 50+ pounds, but I still am 40 pounds overweight. I'm in no rush. I'm taking one day at a time and just try to make good decisions for my health and my body. With good decisions, the weight should keep working itself down. But I am an overweight woman, so I expect that my clothing size should reflect that, but... amazingly, I don't wear plus size clothing in American clothing stores. Depending on the manufacturer, I wear between a 12-16. Most things that look good on me for my age and for my style, I wear a size 14 - that's in Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Ralph Lauren, etc. When I was at my thinnest I was just getting into size 8s in those same manufacturers, but realistically, a size 10 (12 in dresses) is my current ideal size at my ideal weight.  MIND YOU... that is in 2015. That same weight at 18 had me wearing 16s and needing to go to the plus size section when I was NOT overweight, but I am built large.

So, I deal with the inflated sizes. I don't get hung up on numbers and what they should or could be, but I do try to give reality checks to people who say plus size models who wear a 14 are not really plus sized - this may or may not be true depending on their body build, but for MOST people who aren't 6 feet tall with a large frame, a size 14 in today's sizes is differently plus sized.. UNLESS they are talking about European sizes. And now that makes me wonder, when I watch Project Runway, are they talking about pattern sizes or common sizes we see in the stores.

UK sizing (at least that I can see from my very anecdotal evidence) hasn't changed with vanity sizing.  At least I "think" US and UK sizing used to be the same - at least the same for me in my comparison to sizes I wore at 18 and at 43 at the same weight. In US sizing I wear a L/XL or 14 as the most typical size. 1X and 2X I swim in them. At my top weight (60 pounds heavier than I am now) I wore 2X (getting snug). In UK sizing? I currently wear a 3X. And really? that seems accurate to me. If I (a person who naturally is bigger by bone structure) have 40 extra pounds on me and look fluffy, I should not be wearing non-plus size clothing. I should be wearing 3X - not to make me feel bad, but for it to be an accurate reflection of range of sizes of people... There should not be a size of 000 to make up for the size of 0 of yore. Triple zero as a size???? Yes, there are people naturally that small and it's ridiculous to have sizes 000, 00, and 0.  Don't believe me? Check it out from JCrew's website.


That leads me to a dress I just bought. I am running desperately short on good clothes in this size for work, so I've picked up a couple new skirts and dresses at TJMaxx and Marshalls - all size 14s.  I wanted to get something special for our winter festival, so I did a search and found this on Modcloth. With a 30% off coupon, it was reasonably priced (found a matching sweater elsewhere as I would FREEZE in such a dress in winter): 




Now, I think I'm built very similarly (and similarly sized) to the model with white-ish hair (just not as hip, for sure). But I was skeptical if this 3X dress would fit. I thought it might be too small based on some review that the bust and arms are small for size. Fortunately, for fit on me, the waist is too big (I have the belt on the tightest hook and there is a good inch or more "extra' at the waist and the bust darts are SLIGHTLY too small and press me in a bit, but nothing terrible.  I'm still waiting for the sweater to arrive, but the dress came yesterday. Yep. 3X.


Remember, I don't get all dolled up for photos - This is Melissa au natural. I combed my hair for ya, and that's it.



If I didn't follow their size recommendations, I could have gotten the XL and cried, but instead I can realize that I am the size that I am and it's plus size and I need to forget the number and just buy what fits and in this case, that's a 3X.

Now about fit. There is this "thing" now of Rockabilly dresses in plus sizes. I think it's cute, but it's not overly flattering for fuller figures, imo. I think I look much bigger in this dress than I do in my every day clothes, but I will decide if I keep it or not once the sweater arrives and I can try it with that... Also wondering if I should go ALL out and wear a crinoline skirt under it (I have one in the basement). It's a non-stretch, crisp cotton fabric (wrinkled straight from the packaging it was shipped in).




Friday, November 20, 2015

So, I decided to weigh myself

Just when I said I wasn't going to, I did. I got curious. And... it's all good! I'm actually down a pound from where I was the last time I weighed myself which was about 6 weeks ago. AND that was with a couple of date nights out and two conferences - one of which I totally didn't watch what I was eating.

And there has been other bigger eating days, but, it seems, I've balanced it out to neither really gain or really lose as a 1 pound loss is basically holding steady. THAT is a huge, huge success for me. That means I'm finding a balance! Yay Melissa!

But... when I stepped on that scale and realized that I was actually doing what I thought I was doing (finding a balance) that gave me extra motivation (at least for now) to do more. I could  make it to under 200 pounds by new year's if I stick to it. And my goal, ultimately is to just stay under 200 forever - ideally getting to 175, but for health and mobility reasons, at least keeping it to under 200.  That would also get me fitting into more of my clothes that are all packed up and unwearable!

I think I decided to step on the scale when I pulled out a skirt from the wardrobe that I thought would be too tight, but found, actually it fit perfectly or almost too loose. Then I knew for sure I wasn't gaining even a little bit as I had tried that skirt a couple months ago. I knew it meant I was holding steady or slightly losing.

It might give me the extra motivation to stick to better food choices during thanksgiving and Christmas season. Who knows. I want to enjoy my Thanksgiving weekend meals, but perhaps I'll skip the desserts to eat the meal.

I'm dealing with a "possibly" new food issue too. That I'll detail more tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

How I've decided to handle fall/winter - my blue months

I have decided that for the fall and winter - when I struggle DAILY with making good decisions and with fighting off the blues that I will not weigh myself daily or weekly or even regularly. I will just do the best I can do each and every day. That might mean that once winter is over that I have 10-15 pounds to lose, but that is better than gaining the 50 pounds I did last year. This is a lifelong journey - not a race.

So, I have no idea where I am with the weight. I don't want to know because I don't want any weight gain to depress me. And don't get me wrong - I could be losing weight too or holding steady. I have no idea. I do know I am making good decisions most days and most meals. I have not gone up in any clothing size. I'm solidly in a 14 in most brands and most clothes. (I was topping out - meaning they were getting tight a size 18 in May).

I am hungrier in Fall/Winter, so my caloric intake has gone up from where it was this summer, but I try to keep it so that I'm satisified, not super hungry. If I start to feel super hungry, I eat something and I try to make it a good choice food for me - meaning something that doesn't spike my blood sugar. Today I was out at an outlet mall. All there was for food was a vending machine. I was so proud of myself for choosing the roasted peanuts from all the offerings there. It held me until dinner where no candy bar or chips ever would for about the same amount of calories.

Some days are better and easier than others and I pat myself on the back for having a good day, but I don't beat myself up for having a difficult day. I just try to do better the next day. As I said... it's not a race and it's about lifestyle change. SLOWLY getting there!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Something different - my passions and how they drive me

I am a person who is driven by passions. My passions shift and change, but I usually have something (or somethings) I'm passionate about.  When I was in college, I was passionate about student life and student leadership. I was involved in a lot of things (though paled in comparison to some wunderkinds (wunderadults?) like Peter Adamson - still in aw of you!!!). So, I got married, went into the field of higher education and dove into my career (with a one year baby break in there). I was rising within the field. I was passionate about helping young adults transition to adulthood. I loved that career I really did, but then it ended. The passion started to die because I had a bad supervisor (after having a great one in the same position). I learned so much about how important WHO you work with is. A job could go from great to horrible just like that.

Also the passion waned because we moved, (more than once), my contacts and references got old and any interest I still had, I lost after that. I didn't have it in me to start at the low wrung of this field AGAIN to start over and I don't think I would have been rehired into the field either. So, then I was stuck.

During that time, I had another child, one with special needs, that did suck a lot of the extra whatever, out of me. I didn't have a passion any more. As my younger child was getting older, I needed to get back to work - for me - and for our family's economic stability, but what to do? My husband asked, "Well, what are you passionate about?" And I said, "Nothing. I just want to work." I got into baking for awhile and making cakes for people, but I couldn't make an earning with it and I definitely didn't have the mega talent to make it big on my own like one of these big time cake decorators. Plus, as much as I loved it, it also added a lot of stress (as cake as a medium is finicky!)

I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I was really enjoying teaching Sunday School at our ethical society and being on the Sunday School committee. I liked working with people and with kids and adults. I enjoyed helping build community and planning events. I was enjoying Ethical Culture period. I enjoyed the community so much. Then, a part-time Sunday School director position came available which was perfect timing for me. I could build my resume and get fresh references. Win. What I found though was that I absolutely loved it. It fed me. I became quite passionate about lessons and spending time with our children and passionate about growing the community and passionate about spreading the word about what we did, etc. That got me to looking at completing an elementary education degree, but that didn't appeal as much. I didn't like the confines of teaching (and it's what kept me out of it 20 years earlier too). But what?



Then I got lucky again as a full time job opened up to do the Sunday School thing. It was a dream come true practically and it's been a wonderful jump back into full-time work. The last year I've been learning this job and about this culture and I'm just as passionate about it now as then. This summer I went to a conference for Ethical Culture and I was so inspired. I felt (and still feel) such hope for the movement (still so small, but currently in a spike of energy and growth) and I want to do more. I have found a passion and it feels good. The Ethical Culture people, by and large, are my people and I want to continue my career within this group, if possible.

I don't know where or what that will lead to, but in a bit over a week I'm going to an ethical education conference and I'm excited about it. I just volunteered to be a curator for an organization wide video project too. It feels good and I hope this passion to help the movement grow and become more significant continues because for me, being passionate about something, makes me better at doing something. I'm not perfect about it, for SURE, but I think my enthusiasm not only drives me, but it pushes other people to do more too. And it's such a great movement.

Here's from an article by Randy Best, Leader of the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle,
For Felix Adler, human Worth and human rights are paramount. Everyone deserves to have their inherent worth respected and to be treated with dignity and compassion.
Adler’s Ethical concerns focused on right action – how to treat others and act to improve the human condition. He felt that the best way to explore these issues was in community.
Adler believed that exploring ethical ideals and acting for social justice led to improved social conditions and positive personal transformation.
Felix Adler’s maxim, Act so as to Elicit the Best in Others and thereby Elicit the Best in Yourself, contains the idea that personal development is fully realized through relationships with others.
Our sense of meaning and purpose is enhanced by our ethical connection to others.
Community examination of Ethical Ideals and Aspirations allows us to strive for a fuller expression of our human experience.
I guess I'm writing about it because it's making me a happier person to have something drive me. I feel better over all and when I feel good, I make better decisions. So, for now, it's helping keep the winter blues away too... so all of this is to say in a way, being passionate about something in life leads to a better life and that for me, also means taking better care of myself.