Fat Fridays Week 29: Determination with a Capital D

Hello everyone. How’s it going? Life is tripping along over here at a rapid pace. I can’t believe our summer break is almost over. Only a couple more weeks and my kids will be back in school. Looking back over this summer I can’t say that I made any major progress in the realm of weight loss and healthy living. But, on the other hand, I feel better about myself as a person. I also have not lost hope or sunk down into despair. I now have a better handle on what health issues I need to address right away. I am still feeling hopeful and positive. These are pretty good accomplishments for me as my default behavior has usually been self-hatred and despair which then lead to even worse eating habits. So, yay me!

 

This past week I looked for some inspiration on the good ol’ internet. I found a web page connected to People Magazine that had all kinds of weight loss success stories. People who had lost large amounts of weight and were keeping it off. I would say I read at least twenty of these stories, skimming through them quickly. I loved seeing the BEFORE and AFTER pictures, I don’t know why those are so inspiring, but they are. You see them and think, That could be me! I could do this! I’ve nailed the BEFORE picture, now I’ve just got to get that AFTER picture! I can do it too! 

 

As I skimmed through the articles, I was looking for common denominators. Which diet plan was making this happen? You might be interested to hear that there was no single diet plan that they were all following. I read about Keto, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, counting calories, low-carb, weightloss apps, accountability groups, exercise programs, weight loss competitions. Pretty much, any diet plan you’ve heard about was represented. Which made me realize that Diet Plan was not the common denominator. In fact, what they all had in common was that they all hit a place in their lives where they said, Enough. I’m going to do something. And then they practiced Determination. 

 

It’s all about Determination. Here’s a definition:

Determination: noun. Firmness of purpose, resoluteness. (Google Dictionary)

Here’s some of the synonyms for Determination:

Resolution, resolve, resoluteness, will power, strength of character, single-mindedness, sense of purpose, fixity of purpose, intentness, decision, steadfastness, perseverance, persistence, indefatigability, tenacity, staying power, strong mindedness, backbone, stubbornness, obstinacy, bravery, boldness, courage, pluck. 

 

Wow. What do you need to lose weight? Read through the list of synonyms. 

 

So, I know myself pretty well. I like to think that I have all that, but history has shown that actually, I don’t. I stand in awe of the men and women who have mustered their determination and conquered. They have somehow persisted and managed to lose the weight. I want to be that person. And I am determined that no matter how many times it takes for me to try and fail, I’m going to just pick myself back up and try again. And one day, I’m going to post my AFTER picture. 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 25 Failure

Hey Everyone. Here we are, a new week. I have pondered whether I should even be writing a weight loss “weekly” when there doesn’t seem to be any weight loss happening. I set goals and then the goals get thrown out the window. I feel a bit like a fake at this point. Of course, in one sense, I’m holding true to the purpose of this post, which is to blog about my journey to weight loss. A big part of my journey is failure.

I think when I started this post, I imagined myself sailing along, posting pictures of myself as I lost inches. Writing glowing reports about how disciplined I was, and look how I great I am to finally conquer this weight problem. Everyone can read along and enjoy the show. And it is inspiring to read how people overcome all obstacles and manage to get healthy again. I want to be that person. And I’m not. I seem to be stuck in my same old pattern. I diet. I exercise. Life gets stressful. I stop.

While it might not be enjoyable to read all the ways that I’m messing up, I will say that writing this weekly post is still keeping me accountable. I have not sunk to the very bottom, mostly because I don’t want to have to write about it. And I keep focused on my diet/health/weightlossattempts at least once a week as I write this post.

This past week I did not go grain-free as promised. But I did eat a lot less grain. I did make some better choices. This week I was also dealing with some heavy stress as our situation with the homeless family we are helping escalated. Some hard choices had to be made. But God was merciful and my husband had enough grace and wisdom to come up with a Plan that should get them into housing and a relatively stable life if they stick to the plan. Dealing with this level of crisis is tough on me. This week has been about trying to be purposeful about not letting other people’s drama harmfully affect my own mental health. I have been carving out a private space for myself. Making a routine that involves quiet, devotions, music, doing hobbies I enjoy, and of course, caring for my family. I have been trying to make smart choices for food, but haven’t yet achieved the “super disciplined” level I was at several weeks ago.

I did have something happen this week that was at first annoying and then I realized it was a blessing in disguise. I’m signed up with this health-food-shake-supplements-etc company. I buy shakes from them every once in a while. They have this annoying system where you are automatically signed up for “autoship”. They automatically charge your bank and ship you products unless you sign in and change it. I’m presuming there is a way to change this, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I had been simply logging in once a month and changing the dates so at to postpone the order. Well, I forgot this month. This week I received not only a box of shakes, but a bottle of Cleanse which had been on my wishlist. Yikes. My bank account could not really afford that. I was complaining to my husband about it and he surprised me by saying, “It’s good! Drink your shakes!” Oh. Ok. Well… that makes sense. So, this morning I drank my Cleanse stuff and had a shake for breakfast. A much healthier breakfast than I’ve had in a while. Hurray for mistakes.

So, I feel like I’m a bit of a disappointment because I am not being Superwoman with this weight loss thing. But, I’m going to keep on persevering.

I’ll see you all next week.

 

Fat Fridays: Week 19 Why Am I Doing This?

Hello Everyone…How’s your week been? I hope it’s been a bit better than mine. We’ve been struggling with a horrible virus this week that’s really wiped out our little kids. But, there is hope. Our littlest guy seems to be feeling better this morning, and the older kids who got the virus seem to be getting over it quickly. I’m sitting in bed feeling kind of yucky myself, but hoping that this will be done and over with by tomorrow.

So, the past couple days I’ve been thinking about goals and dreams. I heard once, years ago, that if you really want something, have a big goal, you’ve got to think about it often, daydream about it, focus on it. The more thought life you give towards your dream, the more likely you will continue to pursue it and see it become reality. So, here’s my dream: to lose 110 pounds and go from a size 20 to a size 10. I think about it a lot. It’s helpful when I’m really stressed out and want to reach for something sugary and then I remember, size 10. You’re not going to get to a size 10 if you eat that stuff. Anyway, you get the idea.

This week as I’ve been reading the news, seeing reports of the terrorist attack on Christians in Sri Lanka, seeing how villages have been wiped out by a cyclone on the coast of Africa, see how activists are trying to fight against crazy man-made natural disasters, see how many problems there are with our foster care system…When I see all these things, and then I think about my goal, I feel rather shallow, and selfish. Here I am focusing all my energy on losing weight while out in the world people are facing Real Problems. Yeah, this is definitely a first-world problem I’m dealing with here.

So, I’ve been thinking about this, and I came to some conclusions. Why is it so important for me to lose weight? Right now my extra weight is keeping me from living a lot of life. My husband loves to bike and go hiking. I don’t go with him. I can’t keep up. And that makes both of us a bit sad. I want to lose weight so I can share experiences with my husband again. Skinnier me used to go out in the yard and play Capture the Flag with my children, and jump rope, and tag, and running games. I haven’t done that in a long time. I want to lose weight so I can play with my children again. My older children have gone on an inner-city missions trip to Buffalo, New York for three years in a row now. This summer one of my sons launched a campaign to get me to go on the mission trip too. I thought about how busy they are on their trip, how physically toiling it is. I know that right now, in my current shape, I would be exhausted and uncomfortable most of the time. I told him I couldn’t go this year. I want to lose weight so I can take part in mission trips, actually engage in some physically hard work in order to help people. My overweight me is looking at Type 2 Diabetes and too-high cholesterol. I want to lose weight so I don’t spend the rest of my life sick. I’ve been learning about how inflammation in the body can aggravate mental health issues, like depression. I want to stick to this diet so that I can hopefully lessen my episodes of depression. I want to lose this weight so I can be me again.

I guess my goal isn’t so bad after all. Kind of like the instructions: put the oxygen mask on first, then help those around you. First things first. Lose the weight. Then I can engage in life and all it’s challenges and problems with a lot more stamina and ability to help.

Onward with my goal.

This week, things that have gone well and not so well…I tried a couple new dishes. I found at Kroger a Coconut Curry Mix that had a big bag of fresh vegetables to stir fry and then a curry sauce to pour over it. It was only $5 for the bag which seemed like a good deal to me. Tasted pretty good too. I also bought a jar of Tikka Masala sauce at Aldi’s then poured it over a big pot of cooked potatoes/sweet potatoes and fresh green beans and a can of beans. That was really yummy too. My only problem is that everything I cook tends to look like a pile of mush. It doesn’t help anything when I offer my fare to the family, Here, it’s vegan, want to try some? They stare at the glop. No thanks mom. I also tried cooking a rice blend for the family that had brown rice, red rice, and wild rice. It was really good, but unfamiliar to my white-rice-loving family. They didn’t eat very much of it. Sigh.

Exercise didn’t happen. Dealing with a household of sick children severely limits your time. I’m not going to feel guilty about that.

Goals: recover from this virus. Yep. That’s about it. Since I started writing this blog today, my fever has spiked, I”m aching all over and feel like a truck ran over me. Good news, I don’t want to eat anything. At least I won’t be tempted to cheat.

See you all next week, hopefully in much better health.

 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 16 Finding the New Normal

Here we are again, another week has zoomed past and I’m stopping to take some time to reflect on what theme stands out from this week. This week has been one of those weeks where I really questioned whether my diet is actually doing me any good. My weight loss seems to have slowed down. I have had a couple days where I’ve been really tired, two mornings where I’ve woken up with a really bad headache. My blood sugar has been dropping really low at unexpected times, where I find myself shaking and needing to eat immediately. And of course I blame it on my diet. I’m not getting enough protein, I’m missing out on some key nutrition, I’m doing this wrong somehow…

I was starting to feel really discouraged  two days ago and then I thought about it and got some perspective. First of all, not only do I have a giant diet-change going on, I also stopped nursing my toddler. Cold-turkey. He’s over 2 years old. I never meant to nurse him this long, it just kind of dragged out. He’s our last baby and I wasn’t in a hurry for him to grow up. But then the nursing was starting to get really annoying. He was getting up every night and then wanting to nurse and being whiny all day about it. I was complaining about it to my husband last Thurs and he said, You need to wean him! And I agreed. And we just stopped. One week later, he is sleeping through the night, has stopped pestering me all day and seems a lot happier. It was definitely the right time. But, as I have blamed my diet for making me feel weird this week, I conveniently forgot about the fact that my body is going through the shock of not nursing anymore. And it’s an even bigger shock because, aside from about 3 months back in 2010, I have been nursing or pregnant for 19 years straight. I think I need to have a little grace for this poor body as it tries to figure out what is going on and get adjusted.

The other thing to take into consideration is all the toxins in our environment. Toxins that get inside of us and then get stored in our fat cells. And then, when you lose weight, those toxins get released into your body. That might account for some of my headache days I’ve been having. I woke up with a headache this morning so I took some chlorella which helps flush your system of toxins, and drank a bunch of water and the headache eased off after about an hour.

I wish that I knew exactly what was going on inside my body since I’ve changed my diet. If some of you readers have articles to share that teach you exactly what is happening hormonally and on the cell-level when you change over to a vegan diet, I’d love to read them. Share a link in the comments. I have always been one of those people that need to know Why? Why do I have a headache? Why am I sick? What is going on exactly in my body? What is this medicine actually going to do inside of me to make me feel better? My mother is Physician Assistant, and I remember as a child, when I was sick, I always wanted in-depth explanations of what was going on in my body, and she was always willing to take the time to explain it to me. I still want that in-depth explanation.

In the end, I think this week has been about my body trying to find the new normal. My hormones trying to adjust to no longer supporting another life, me trying to figure out exactly what I need to eat, and how much in order to keep my blood sugar steady, my body trying to drop weight and having to deal with some negative side-effects from that. I think it’s going to take a while to find this new normal. But, knowing that I’m going through an adjustment period, instead of the diet failing me, helps me to not be discouraged. I’m not giving up! Onwards, towards the new normal!

Goals for this week: EXERCISE!! Since I’m using this blog as a sort of accountability, I will make myself confess that I, once again, did not exercise much this week. Aside from a walk to the park with a bunch of kids that involved me pushing a very heavy stroller up a very long, steep, hill…I have not exercised.  THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE!!! Cause it’s getting embarrassing to keep having to tell you guys that I didn’t exercise. That’s it. This is my only goal besides sticking to the diet. See you all next week!

Fat Fridays: Week 13 Eating to Live

Dr. Fuhrman wrote a book called “Eat to Live”. It’s a good book. I’ve always had a hard part with that “eating to live” thing though. What about birthday cake? And dessert? And donuts? And popcorn at the movies? And ice cream cones? What about eating for enjoyment? It’s a national pastime!

This past week has shown me how much “entertainment” eating that I do. When you are reduced to eating fruits and vegetables and nuts, some hidden habits start becoming very clear. At the beginning of this diet I bought a big bag of frozen berries to be my “treat” snack. I poured them into my pretty bowls and would pretend like I was indulging in the most decadent dessert, carefully eating one plump berry at a time. After a couple days I started getting tired of frozen berries. So I bought a different combination that had peaches and mangoes and grapes. That kept me happy for a couple more days and then my body just said, Enough with the frozen fruit already! I had been eating a bowl of frozen fruit in the evening when I typically would be eating a piece of chocolate or having a bowl of ice cream. Then, one evening came, and I was just tired of frozen fruit and I wracked my brain to think about what I should eat instead. As I was trying to think of something in the fruit and vegetable family that sounded appetizing, I realized that really, I wasn’t hungry. I had eaten a good filling supper and I didn’t need anything else.

This week has been about reaching for a habitual snack, remembering I can only eat fruits and vegetables, and then realizing that I’m really not hungry. I think I’ve actually started to “Eat to Live” instead of eating for entertainment, or to improve a bad mood, or calm down a temper tantrum, or all the other unhealthy reasons I was eating. A big part of this triumph has to do with the fact that fruits and vegetables do not give me the rush and feel-goodness that junk food and bread and processed meats like sausage and bacon do. I have read a bit about it and I know that there is science to back that up. Bread and processed meats actually have things in them that trigger your brain to be happy. It’s a drug. Really. I am realizing that without that drug, food has become a lot more about not-being-hungry than about seeking pleasure.

That’s not to say that eating a well-cooked vegetarian meal is not pleasurable, it just seems to be the kind of pleasure you can manage. You eat till you’re full and then you stop. That urge to eat just a little bit more isn’t near as strong with a vegetable bean soup as it is with a cheeseburger.

Well, I’ve finished two weeks on this vegan, grain-free diet. I have decided I’m going to give it three months before I start adding grain back into my diet. I feel like my body has only, in the last two days, started feeling adjusted to this new way of eating. I have not adapted quickly and easily. But, I can tell that I’m starting to lose some weight, so that’s encouraging. 🙂 I have the next size down in pants and I tried them on yesterday. If I really absolutely had wanted to button them, I could have. 🙂 I didn’t have any pressing reason to do that to myself, but I’m hopeful that these pants will fit me very soon!

Here’s the plan: stick to the diet and start trying to find some better recipes since I’ve had quite a few flops. An old back problem has limited my exercise this week, but I have stretches that are supposed to help that, so I will focus on getting my back in shape again so I can keep doing my elliptical. I’m also trying out a vegan shake for breakfasts. I’m not a big shake fan, but it seems really simple and full of lots of good nutrition. We’ll see how that goes. See you all next week!

Fat Fridays: Week 12 I’ve Survived the First Week!

Well, this has been an interesting week. Today completes day 7 of only eating fruits, vegetables and nuts. First, I have to say that in some ways, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I pictured myself watching my family eat meat and bread and me standing off to the side munching on a leaf of lettuce, disgruntled and fighting overwhelming cravings. It didn’t work out that way.

So, I’m going to break this down into Failures, Successes, and Challenges.

Failures

My first attempt at cooking vegan and grain free was a bit of a flop. I was trying to make some vegetable soup and I was kind of just tossing in whatever leftover vegetables I had in my fridge. I found a big bag of broccoli that was on it’s last leg and needed to be eaten immediately, so I chopped it up and threw it in the soup. Bad idea. The soup ended up tasting like slightly-off broccoli. My desire to not be wasteful had me eating it anyway. Not so fun. My other recipe fail was when I tried to cook a spaghetti sauce with chunks of butternut squash in it, but the butternut squash remained grainy and wouldn’t completely soften up no matter how long I cooked it (another situation where I had bought pre-cut butternut squash and I left it a bit too long in the fridge).

Also, not necessarily a failure, but I had a couple days where I was just in a really bad, spaced-out mood. Not a bad mood about the food, but just about life in general. It made me a not-nice person to be around. Sigh.

Successes

I  took a trip to Walmart and explored their frozen vegetable section. I found some pretty nice things. Like pasta made out of lentils and zuchinni and “riced” cauliflower with sweet potatoes which cooks up a lot like rice, and also frozen carrot spirals and frozen zuchinni spirals. Great finds.

My one recipe super-success that I plan to repeat was this. I fried (just a little coconut oil) some onions, garlic and fresh ginger. Then I added a bag of the riced cauliflower/sweet potatoes. When that looked like it was mostly cooked I added in a bag of pre-made coleslaw mix and some soy sauce. I mixed it up and then covered it and let it steam till the cabbage was soft. Then the final touch was to open up a can of black beans and pour it over the top. It was good, hearty, filling, and easy. I’ll probably make it more often.

I’m also trying to eat a handful of nuts every day. After multiple trips to the store where I kept forgetting to buy nuts, I finally bought four little bags of raw pecans and dumped them into a large bowl and covered them with salt water. The next day I drained the nuts, rinsed them a little bit and then laid them out on a cookie sheet. I put them in the oven on the lowest setting (my oven only goes down to 170 degrees) and left them overnight, about 12 hours. Voila, amazing nuts that don’t have any bitterness in them. (The person who taught me this also told me about all kinds of health benefits to this process, but I’ve forgotten those.) They’re very addicting. It’s a challenge to only eat a handful a day. When the pecans run out I’ll do walnuts.

pecans

My other success was that I didn’t cheat. And the biggest success was that I didn’t really feel like cheating (except when I was really hungry, then it was a bit tempting).

Challenges

I’ve started taking a bunch of supplements again: Vit B complex, Chlorella, probiotic, magnesium. I am always easily swayed by people’s varying reports on which supplements are necessary and which ones aren’t. Who to trust? Which ones to try?

I stopped exercising this week. I feel kind of like a juggler trying to keep a bunch of balls in the air. When I started this diet it was like my brain overloaded. WHOA! Way too many balls keep up in the air. I need to set one down. So, now I’ve got to get exercise going again.

Also, eating this way is all about being prepared. It’s not like you can stop at McDonalds and find a sugar-free, dairy-free, meat-free, grain-free meal. And there’s not too many restaurants where that will be easy either. Since the only time I contemplate cheating even a little is when I’m really hungry, being prepared is going to be important.

I haven’t noticed any weight loss so I hope that starts happening soon. If it doesn’t, I’m probably going to get discouraged. Also waiting for my moods to even out, that needs to happen soon too!

So, the plan is to continue with the diet this week and try to get exercising every day again.

See you all later!

Fat Fridays: Week 10 If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Here we are in week 10. I’ve had my first real setback this week. I haven’t exercised in two days, I came off of 9 days without sugar and blew it with pancakes and syrup yesterday and then donuts this morning. I’m finding that my setbacks are really tied to my bouts of depression. I hit a real low this week and I find that trying to keep myself moving and keep doing the right thing is really difficult when I’m feeling so low I don’t want to move.

Frankly, I’m getting pretty tired of this depression. A while back I went through about two years of deep depression. Now it’s every month I just have a couple days when it’s hard to cope. The problem is that while I’m in the midst of it, I feel like it’s all my fault. I am a horrible person. I’m a failure. I’m lazy. And then slowly the fog lifts and I get back to normal and I realize that I had been fighting off depression like it was a giant cloud that had settled around my body. This seems to be a cyclic thing. Some new, bizarre form of PMS? I don’t know. I think I’m going to start keeping a simple diary and see if I can track a pattern of which days I feel depressed, see if if there is any rhyme or reason to it.

I am at the point where I’m ready to start researching diets that lift depression. Right now if someone told me that eating a Keto diet (my personal version of hell) would take away my depression, I would be like, OK, sign me up.

So, here I am. I’ve been doing really well these past 10 weeks. Exercising, being more thoughtful about what I eat, trying to significantly reduce sugar. And then I fall off the wagon. This is where the real challenge lies. What am I going to do about it? Am I going to shrug my shoulders and think, Well, I’ve never been able to do anything long-term, might as well just give up and have a nice binge. Or am I going to accept the fact that this is how life works. It’s impossible to be “good” all the time. You mess up. Acknowledge it and then get back to work. Start exercising again. Cut back on the sugar again. Try to be mindful of what and why you are eating again.

I need to give myself this pep talk. You are not perfect Esther. No one expects you to be perfect all the time. One mistake does not make you a failure. You can do this. Have grace for yourself.  Don’t give up. Try again.

So, this is the plan for this week. Research diet and depression. Stop beating myself up for falling off the wagon. Climb back up onto the wagon. Keep going. And remember to be kind to myself.

Here’s to Trying Again.