Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blogging and Logging

For those of you who stop by and read my blog, you've probably noticed it's really hit or miss. Some weeks I have a lot to say and others not so much. I installed a couple gadgets in the margin of this blog. One allows you to subscribe to my blog. The other sends you an email containing my latest blog post. I hope you keep reading and commenting, and I'll work on my consistency.

I do hope you find inspiration in these entries. My intention is not to be a braggart, and I'm definitely not claiming discovery of some sure fire way to lose weight. I'm merely sharing my experiences, solidifying my own commitment to a healthier lifestyle and encouraging others to be good stewards of their bodies. If there is a topic you'd like me to write about please let me know.

Lately, with the winter months just around the corner and temperatures dropping to sub zero, I've been considering joining a health club. My family and I belonged to the Maplewood Community Center for many years, and during the first several months of our membership I would go three to five times a week. I was working from home or freelancing on location. My toddler was with me most of the time, and the center offered low fee childcare. It provided a much needed break from mommy duty.

I enjoyed swimming laps, discovered the elliptical machine and realized the benefits of strength training. I lost quite a bit of weight. Then, I became pregnant with my second child. I continued working out until I was well into my third trimester. When I began feeling uncomfortable and had to break for the bathroom every 15 minutes, I took a hiatus.

Unfortunately, my daughter's delivery did not go smoothly. I had a cesarean followed by a serious infection. After a series of CT procedures involving a rather long needle inserted into my abdominal area to drain an abscess, I sported a medical drain for a few weeks and was prescribed antibiotics to prevent a reoccurrence.

For an entire year after my c-section, I didn't feel well. My own body was working against me. It was poisoning me. I was constantly tired, weak and lethargic. Needless to say, the workout routines stopped, and I once again gained weight. Finally, a year after the birth of my daughter I underwent another major abdominal surgery to remove a fistula and repair a leaking bowel, the source of the problem no doubt.

I never did get back to regular workouts in Maplewood, and we moved to a new city a couple years ago canceling our membership. It has taken me years to get back on the fitness bandwagon. My lovely daughter is now 11 years old, and over the course of those years I've tried to get motivated to lose weight, had periods of time where I was making progress but for the most part I've been apathetic. I love to eat, and my job is sedentary. Those factors work against me daily, and I was willing to accept this inconceivably as irreversible momentum.

The change was brought about by my declining health and self admitted gluttony. I've told you all about the iPhone app I use, MyNetDiary Pro. This app was... is... my lifeline - pure and simple. It forced me to start logging. It made me take responsibility for what I was sticking in my giant pie hole. It provided an easy and convenient way for me to document my exercise, and it tempted me to push harder. The calories I was expending by unplanting my carcass from the couch and running, walking or biking was making a difference. The charts and analysis available to me as a user of MyNetDiary Pro testify to my success thus far.

Here's a screen snapshot from my iPhone application taken last Saturday. I burned 1499 calories over four hours at the Shoreview Community Center. This if the facility I'm thinking about joining, at least for the winter months. This is remarkable considering I couldn't even run for a full minute 11 months back. I definitely don't expect to get in this much exercise everyday. I simply don't have that much free time, but it's fun to do once in a while. Plus, I was excited to try out all the machines!

In sum, logging has been essential to my weight loss. I encourage all of you to take a look at MyNetDiary. If you don't own a smart phone you can log into the website and track using the online tools. My food and exercise logs provide a bevy of information that MyNetDiary boils down into usable information that helps me improve my nutrition and set realistic goals. I know it's very cliche, but if I can do this so can you! Good luck.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Can a picture be worth a 1000 words?

My sister texted me this picture last week with the message, "I am so flipping PROUD of u." It brought me to tears. I can't believe I ever let myself get so overweight. If I hadn't come to the stark realization in January that I had to make significant change in my eating habits and improve my physical fitness, I would have continued to push the limits of my bathroom scale jeopardizing my health and happiness. Thank you to all who have been so supportive by listening, reading and responding.

Fishing off the Florida coast - November 2010

Roller skating with my Girl Scouts - November 2012
This is after a 91.2 lbs. weight loss.
My goal weight is now 47.8 lbs. away.
I can actually see my feet when I look down!

BMI Chart - November 2012
This screen shot is from my
MyNetDiary Pro iPhone application.
Weight Chart - November 2012
This screen shot is from my
MyNetDiary Pro iPhone application. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tale of the Tape

Now that I've managed to reach another mile marker on my journey. I decided to move off the scale this time and check the measuring device so many diet and exercise gurus claim is the most important. So, here it is...

The Tale-Tale-Tale of the Tape-Tape-Tape...
 (Imagine, like I do, trumpets and a booming voice with lots of reverb heralding this announcement.)

My Body Measurements from Start 1/6/12 to Current 11/12/12 - Gulp!

Waist from 50" to 39.5"
What?!? I've lost a total of 10.5 inches off my waist! I bought a new belt when I hit size 18 a few months ago. As of today, I need to either add another hole or buy a smaller belt.

Hips 52" to 44.5"
Total loss of 7.5 inches. Oh, yeah! It's time for some new jeans, too. Size 14!!!

Chest 53" to 42.5"
This one's a bit sad, especially for my hubby, but at least the girls won't bounce as much when I work out. Hey, maybe I can even workout without a bra! Ugh... nope. I tried that last night. Ouch!

Neck 17" to 14.5"
Still not a pencil neck, but at least I have one less chin.

And finally, this... this is what my doctor was amped about the last time I saw her.

Are you ready?

BMI 46.8 to 32
I am leaving obese and approaching the overweight category on the body mass indicator chart. I can't wait to be overweight!!!! Um, wait...

BMI Chart from SPARKDIET Resource Center -

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Indian Indulgences

I love Indian food but loading my plate during the ubiquitous lunch buffet causes a serious calorie count conundrum. Honestly, I can't even begin to calculate every calorie consumed. Mouthwatering mysteries like chana masala, malai kofta or kheer contain unfamiliar ingredients. On top of that, there's the serving size stumbling block of all-you-can-eat. Often I feel out of control and regretful before, during and after my indulgence.

So, how do I figure the final calorie count? Well, I've actually abandoned dissecting the entire meal and decreed each plateful to hold 400 calories. If I go back for seconds, which I invariably do, the calorie count reaches 800 calories. Eeek! For a girl trying to keep her daily intake to 1146 calories, an Indian lunch buffet has the ability to blow my entire day. I don't let it!

You see, if I spend just 30 minutes on my elliptical, take a run or hop on my bike later I can quarterback my overall count by increasing calories expended. After all, a single meal won't ruin my many months of hard work. I'm truly committed to a lifestyle change when it comes to eating and exercise habits. A big part of that is taming the tides by creating a natural ebb and flow.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekend Danger Zone

TGIF! Who doesn't look forward to a of couple days off and some R&R? The problem with the weekend, for me, is the temptation to overeat, munch on junk food, down a few beers and/or totally blow off my workouts. Ugh!

This is especially true when I have company from out-of-town, attend a party or go out to eat with my family. My weekend cravings and failings get full blame for why the needle on my scale hasn't budged since September 26th!

How do I remedy this situation? First, I need to stop taking a break from my calorie consumption goal when I'm off the clock. I do manage to sneak in one workout during the weekend already. It's time to push for a second even if it means getting up before my family so they don't feel like I'm neglecting them.

I saw this really great article from, "9 Eating Habits That Lead to Weight Gain." Check it out! I could identify with a lot of these habits, and while I've successfully curtailed some of the worst, it was an excellent reminder of other areas that need improvement.

Here's to a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Abdominal Help Wanted

My husband ran upstairs last night when he heard me "making a lot noise." By the time he got there I was face down on the floor recovering from two sets of ten sit-ups. 20 is definitely unimpressive, but I am working on it. If you'll recall back in July I was unable to do even one measly sit-up so 20 is progress.

I know I need to keep working on strengthening my abdominal muscles, but I feel pretty unmotivated to do it. I enjoy all the running and biking, but sit-ups and planks are pretty hard for me right now. Like most, I tend to want to do the things that come easy. I need to "suck it up" as my high school gym teacher used to bellow during class.

Anybody have any great suggestions or new improved workouts for abs? I wonder if I should buy an ab belt or one of those fat jiggling machines like my aunt used to have in her basement. Ahhhh... the easy way out?

Are those ladies enjoying vodka greyhounds?

Vodka Greyhounds
1.75 oz. 80 proof vodka (96 calories)
5 oz. grapefruit juice (60 calories)

Pour vodka and grapefruit juice into a highball glass filled with ice, stir well and serve. (156 calories)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Take Time to Enjoy the Scenery

What a beautiful day! I know there are only a few more nice days before winter, and I definitely took advantage of it. I went for a bike ride even though my legs were tired from yesterday's run. I think it actually alleviated some of the muscle tightness along the back of my legs.

As I set out, I determined right away that I wasn't going to push in terms of speed. Since I'm working to increase my cycling mileage, I need to extend my routes. So, today I toured my area in hopes of finding and exploring new trails. I definitely do not want to be stuck circling the lake in Central Park 20 times to makeup 20 miles. Maybe this winter if that's the only area cleared of snow I'll have to settle, but hopefully, I have another couple months before that happens.

I should mention that my husband recently bought me some new cycling wear. I am so thankful! Today, I wore a thermal soft-shell under an outer wind/rain stopper jacket, and it was perfect. The material successfully wicked away the sweat keeping me chill-free for the ride's duration.

My tour took me north along a familiar route around Lake Owasso in Shoreview, down to Roseville's Central Park and around Bennett Lake. Then, I started making it up as I went along. I took Victoria Street to the Reservoir Woods trail and from there to McCarrons Lake. I happened upon Villa Park and cycled through it ending up at Dale Street, Finally I headed back home. In all, it was 16.1 miles. It took me an hour and a half to complete. For a nice leisurely ride, I managed to burn 1053 calories.

Here's a link to my route - Bike Route 10/6/12

I'm not a world class athlete in training. I'm on this journey to lose weight, improve my health and relieve stress. I need to remind myself of that more often and take time to enjoy the scenery.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Can Run for Miles and Miles and Miles

Okay, so I'm a little sore in the back of my thighs. I figure it's punishment for pushing my body to its limit today. I actually managed to run 10.2 miles. As most of you reading my blog know, I am NOT a fast runner by any means. That 10.2 mile was 2:15:00 of pure loco motion.

Every year the nonpublic school my daughter attends holds a "marathon" to raise money for new computers, sporting equipment and other things deemed necessary to educate and enrich the lives of its students. When we left the house this morning I didn't intend on running a full 10 miles. The furthest distance I'd run up until today was a little over 6 miles.

When we arrived my daughter checked in receiving her punch card to track her laps. One lap around the lake is approximately one mile. I bumped into an old family friend I hadn't seen in some time. She was shocked at my appearance. I have to admit that I have been getting this reaction a lot over the past couple weeks, and it feels SOOO good! I've worked really hard since January, and while I see it paying off on the scale and my clothing size is shrinking, it's so rewarding to have my weight loss recognized by other people.

My daughter decided to roller blade this morning, and we agreed to meet in the playground area after the event. Since I'm all about safety she wore a helmet, knee pads and wrist guards. I wasn't worried about her getting hurt with all the protective gear in place, and honestly, she was looking forward to ditching mom and hanging out with her friends. There was a lot of adult supervision since other nonpublic schools were also using the lake and park today for their own marathons. I felt completely comfortable splitting up. After all, I would probably lap her every ten minutes. She's not a speed skater, by any means.

With everything all squared away, I took off noticing right away that I was one of the only people actually running. Most were walking while chatting with friends, drinking hot coffee or eating hot dogs. Oh, well. I just felt the need to get in a good workout so I wouldn't have to take away from my family's weekend time. Although, that coffee looked good especially since it was barely 40 degrees out.

The first mile started a bit slow. I'm having a little pain in my right hip. A couple days ago, I was running at night with my headlamp and tripped over a heave in the sidewalk nearly crashing and burning. Miraculously, I was able to stumble out of the fall, but I tweaked my hip. That was a six mile run, and my graceless trip happened about mile three. I was able to finish that run, but I've definitely been a little sore ever since. Today, I figured if I just stretched the leg out a bit the pain would subside, and I was right. After the second mile, I was feeling really good and stronger than ever.

As I started on the third mile, I decided it was time to push myself a little further. I've been considering training for a triathlon. I've done a few 5K runs combined with a 12-mile bike ride. Today, I just wanted to gain some running distance. In my head, I set the goal at ten miles, but I didn't share that with my daughter until I saw her hanging out at the rest area after my ninth mile. As I ran past, I told her, "Only .9 mile left, baby." She had taken her roller blades and safety gear off. Excitedly, she fell into step behind me and ran/walked that final mile, too.

There were a couple women punching lap tickets for the kids that stopped me afterwards to ask me how I managed to run for so long. I told them that when I began my journey in January of this year I could barely jog one minute. One of the women immediately interrupted with a knowing nod, "Oh, you had a gastric bypass didn't you?" She was quite surprised when I replied, "No, it's been a lot of running, biking, exercising and believe it or not good old fashioned calorie counting." I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the look on people's faces when I say that!

Tonight, as I sit by a warm fire writing this entry I feel so happy. Believe me as I walked to the car and my muscles started tightening along the back of my legs I wondered if I had lost all sense. By the way, my car seat has a butt heater, and that was a lifesaver. I also had a long, hot bath after we arrived home.

I was really hungry all day, but I watched my calorie intake. I didn't want to blow the entire 1300 calorie deficit created by the run. Besides, this morning before we left for the marathon I ate pumpkin donut holes. I really try not to eat high calorie, low nutrition food. However, I'm going to credit them for giving me an extra boost.

Overall, I feel awesome both physically and mentally. This was definitely a confidence boost, and I'm looking forward to testing my new improved self to see what else I can accomplish.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four to 199

Just four more pounds before I meet a major milestone on my weight loss journey. The wait (or weight) is barely tolerable. After nearly ten months of earnest calorie counting and exercising I'm on the brink of breaking from the two hundreds. Oh, yeah! The curvy number 2 will no longer occupy the hundreds place on my bathroom scale.

At 199 my body mass index or BMI still falls inside the obese zone, but it's a heck of a lot lower than where I started. 90 pounds off and 49 left to go with 180 pounds as my next waypoint. At 180, I'll finally be overweight! Yes, believe it or not I'm actually amped to be overweight. At 5'6" my final destination is 150 pounds putting my BMI at the high end of the normal.

People definitely notice my weight loss now. Many ask how I managed to do it. Some come right out and ask if I underwent weight loss surgery. I personally think that's pretty rude. No, I did not have surgery!

It's been almost 10 months since I downloaded the Calorie Counter PRO by MyNetDiary app for my iPhone. By recording the calories consumed as well as any calories burned weight loss has really become a mathematical equation. I understand math. It's exacting with no room for errors or guesses.

I've managed this transformation because I am no longer relying on emotion and impulse to tell me when to eat and how much. Food is a source of energy, like gas for my car. When I stop at the gas station I can fill the tank, but it has a finite limit. Fuel in my vehicle's tank makes my engine go, and I can travel quite a while before having to refuel.

This analogy demonstrates my new view of food as fuel. First of all I use a fixed number of calories calculated to meet my body's daily need and allows me to lose about 2 pounds per week. I don't overfill the tank and exercise to burn off excess fuel if I do. Calories Eaten - Calories Burned via Exercise = 90 Pounds of Success.

I eat regular meals, and I never skip breakfast even if it's as simple as a cereal bar. Before, I often skipped breakfast and/or lunch eating only dinner. I never worried about portion size or considered food scores. Now, I really try to get the most bang for my calories and carefully consider my food choices. I try not to drink my calories! Let me make this clear. I love yummy food, and I prefer not to waste my calories on sugary sodas and fancy cocktails.

My job as a video editor is sedentary. My body was suffering from too little exercise. Once I gave myself permission to workout on a regular basis, it quickly became habit. I feel so much better not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. The rapid progress early on definitely kept me motivated. Today, I actually look forward to a 6 mile run or 12 mile bike ride. Exploring my neighborhood, city, parks and trails reduces stress and connects me to the world beyond my front door.

Although difficult at times, I've tried to stay positive. My journey is not a diet or exercise program. Instead, it's a lifestyle modification. That doesn't mean I never drink beer or eat pizza. It just means that 90% of the time I'm keeping close tabs on my intake.

Some reading this may struggle with his/her own weight or lack the motivation to exercise. My advice is to just start by doing something. It can be a walk around the block, throwing a baseball to your kid, not drinking that cola or choosing a banana over a brownie. Easy for me to say, right? Well, I've been 289 pounds, and I'm telling you I feel so much better! I never want to go back. Please, join me.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Well, Hello, Size 16!

I am back into a size 16 jean, and boy, has it been a while. It's fitting since today marks my 16th wedding anniversary, too. The last time I wore this size was in mid-1993. I had just graduated from college and met my husband. I can't believe it's taken my 19 years to get my rear in gear and lose my luggage! Why did I wait so long?

This morning, I worked out with a good friend of mine at a local playground. I'm going to give her the alias "Scully" since she's a medal winning member of the Minneapolis Rowing Club. I look forward to working out with Scully because she's so upbeat and supportive. By far my biggest backer Scully's been rooting for me since day one of my weight loss journey. We train together about once a week, and she is well aware of all my weak areas. Gulp.

Scully would be an awesome personal trainer if she ever decided to pursue a career in physical fitness. Committed to regular exercise and healthy eating the woman's clocked countless hours refining her form in the gym, on the water and on local bike paths and walking trails.

Deciding to concentrate more heavily on abs, Scully planned today's playground circuit ahead of time. If I am struggling at a station she always has an option prepared targeting the same area and never belittles me. Sit-ups with my feet uphill are still a definite no-go, but with my feet slightly downhill and a medicine ball involved my abs get the attention they deserve.

Scully taught me a fun little exercise called the "Joe Mauer." If you're a Major League Baseball fan, you know that catcher Joe is the "Baby Jesus" of the Minnesota Twins. Begin the exercise by standing erect, feet apart. Hold a medicine ball between both hands at chest level. Squat, then slowly lower ball between legs just past the knees. Finally, stand up while lifting ball over head. Repeat. I swear I can feel my thighs burn just thinking about a Joe Mauer. He-he-he!

We used a 10 pound medicine ball during our workout, and this was a first for me. I really liked it, and I am now in the market for one of my own. As we jogged to the park taking turns carrying the ball I couldn't help thinking that less than eight months ago I was carrying an equivalent of eight 10 pound medicine balls on my body 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now that's heavy.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Wear and Tear on My Family

Well, it's been a pretty good week for exercise and calorie counting. I've managed to get in a couple great workouts. Monday night I worked an hour on the elliptical, followed by 30 minutes on the recumbent bike plus 20 minutes for dumbbell work on my arms. Last night, I took a 12 mile bike ride, and tonight I managed to run 3.1 miles and bike a little over 6 miles. Yay!

I've been pushing pretty hard lately because I'm just a few pounds away from leaving the 200s behind me FOREVER. I'm creating a significant calorie deficit, but it's still not showing on the scale. I know I've hit another plateau, and that's why I'm upping my game with harder workouts, weight training and an increase in water consumption.

When I think back to where I began on this journey, I can't believe how far I've traveled in such a short amount of time. That doesn't mean I'm 100% satisfied with my progress, and I am definitely impatient to reach my destination. "How much further is it? How many more hours?" I feel like a little kid nagging my parents from the backseat during a long road trip.

Physically and emotionally I'm healthier. In fact, I never expected the dramatic impact an 80 pound weight loss would have on my attitude and outlook on life. I am regaining my confidence, recognizing my personal strength and am enjoying a strong sense of well-being.

My weight loss journey is rather tiresome to my immediate family. No one wants to hear about it anymore, and to be fair I've been warned the topic is hopelessly boring. Apparently talking about exercise is equivalent to discussing daily toiletry habits. Needless to say, I have very little support at home. It makes me sad, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel, yet.

My husband teases me about the running. He finds it ridiculous. I've found that while I'm not the fastest runner it does really help shed the pounds, and my leg muscles are now rock solid. Running is cheap, it makes me feel good and I'm actually starting to like it. Did I just say that? My high school physical education teacher would fall to the floor in a fit of hysterical laughter if he ever read that I actually LIKE running.

I have tried unsuccessfully to get my son, daughter and/or husband to go for a walk, ride bike or hike with me. Frankly, no one in this house is interested. I want to keep moving and losing, but I am beginning to feel really guilty about the time I'm spending exercising. Before I started my focus was always on my family, and my wants and needs usually took a backseat to everyone else's. Now, I take the time to exercise, blog and read. I feel healthier, but my family seems to be drifting apart. The wear and tear is showing.

Am I being selfish? They are content with trotting along the same path, and I'm straining at the bit. I want to run, swim, bike and play. Too busy with their iPads, computers, video games and tv shows I leave them behind. There's a definite disconnect, and it's time we all rewire.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Should I Tri?

It's a tiny idea that's beginning to form inside my head. I enjoy swimming, biking and running. What if I started training for a triathlon? It could be another great adventure on my journey to a more healthy weight and lifestyle.

I did a little experiment this week. On Monday night I hopped on my bike and rode hard for 12 miles. Then, I jumped off, rehydrated and ran 2.75 miles. The first half mile of the run felt incredibly odd since the muscles in my legs didn't want to work. Once I convinced them I wasn't letting up everything seemed to fall into place, and I completed my test run. I think I can...

How does one train for a triathlon? Do you change clothes after the swim? I have so many questions. Fortunately, I've found a woman who's been where I am and is actively blogging on the internet After reading some of her blog entries, I've decided to seriously consider entering a triathlon. I would start with a sprint or short course event. Should I tri?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Family Time

I had a ton of fun on Friday evening playing racquetball at the Maplewood Community Center with my daughter. Racquetball with an 11 year-old requires a little patience and a lot of energy spent chasing the ball as it rolls across the floor. There's definitely a lot less volley than serve. Nonetheless, she enjoys the game, and I love spending time with her.

I've been focusing myopically on my own health over the past few months. Even though I haven't reached my goal weight, I've become a more positive role model for my kids. Up until now, I've taken a back seat failing to drive my kids toward improving their physical fitness. While my entire family follows a pescatarian diet it's not always balanced, and the buck stops here. I fill the cupboards and refrigerator with food. I routinely plan the menu and prepare meals.

I know it's my job as a parent to help my kids lead healthy lives, but until recently encouraging my family to watch portion sizes and find time to workout seemed hypocritical. I plead guilty of plopping myself in a chair, watching too much television and snacking right from the bag. After punishing my body for the past 22 years, I'm slowly making amends. Now, I'm worried about my kids. I don't want them to struggle with obesity.

With computers, internet, cable/satellite television and video games making it so easy to sit all day, my family is guilty of a fairly sedentary lifestyle. It's definitely time to make a change. We need to find ways to get moving and make it fun. Committing to one family night a week at the Community Center might be a great option for all of us.

After racquetball my daughter and I headed to the facility's pool. I swam 30 laps missing a mile by only 3 laps when the pool closing whistle blew. I'm concerned about the loose skin under my arms due to weight loss, and I think swimming laps will tone my arms. Besides, I enjoy swimming and so does my daughter. She swam a couple laps alongside me then opted to play on the giant water slide. We both got some exercise and genuinely enjoyed it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rocked a 5K

I did it! I actually ran in my first official 5K Saturday, July 28th, 2012 in my hometown of Rockford, Iowa. I wasn't fast by any means, but I didn't stop to walk, either. I finished in 40:29. Hey, that leaves me plenty of room to improve! I ran with my 16 year old niece. It was her first 5K, too.

I felt pretty good going into the race. I'd managed to squeeze in a couple long workouts on the elliptical and recumbent bike the week leading up to the run/walk. Plus, I did a mock 5K two days prior just so I'd feel confident about the distance. I was actually faster during practice by two minutes.

About an hour before the race I ate a banana and Chobani yogurt. A good friend of mine swears by this pre-workout combo, and it definitely seems to work. I didn't feel overly full, and it gave me enough energy to get through the race.

Nice swag at this event.
Now I just have to figure out how to pickup some speed. I've been keeping my pace fairly consistent, but it's time to start pushing and increasing my fitness level. I am going to start out by doing some block long sprints during my regular jogs.

Since the Rockford 5K, I've completed longer distances. Last night I jogged six miles. Remarkably, once I hit mile four I felt exhilarated.  So, I  increased my pace and fell into a more comfortable breathing rhythm and longer stride.

It was such a beautiful night, and the temperature was perfect with a soft, cool breeze. If I could hold onto one moment during my journey to wellness,  it was last night as I bounded the boardwalk at Harriet Alexander Nature Center with the sun setting. By improving my physical strength I've bolstered my mental confidence to cross the finish line. With 79.2 pounds down and 59.8 more to go, I think I've caught my second wind.

First 5K 7/28/12 - Rockford, Iowa

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Dangerous Slide

For the past week, I've been experiencing a dangerous slide. Consistently over on caloric intake and under on exercise, miserably I forced myself to step on the scale I've been avoiding. Not suprisingly, the numbers displayed a weight gain, and I thoroughly expected it. Heck, I deserved it, and pretending ignorance won't fix the issue.

Lately, I feel hungry all the time, and my willpower must be on vacation. I've begun falling back on old habits like consuming too many empty calories, found in food with low nutritional value and high in calories. I know I should avoid it, but right now I'm perilously out of control.

While a nutritional imbalance easily explains my decreased energy level and exercise apathy, I can't explain the total brake failure. Could this be the end of the road? Am I headed over the cliff at full speed minus the skid marks? Success at total weight loss has eluded me in the past. Maybe I am destined to be a plus sized woman for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Peace, Baby!

I am not an early riser, and certainly never exercise before work. Today was different. For some reason, I could not get back to sleep, and the digits on my alarm clock were stalled at 6:30. I opted to lace up my running shoes and kick off the day with a 3.5 mile walk/jog.

My goal was to find a new neighborhood route about 3.1 miles in length so I can practice running for a 5K. I want to improve my speed and stamina. One step is losing weight, of course, I would like to lose 63 more pounds. Another is learning to feel the distance. Finally, I need confidence in my physical fitness to push for a quicker, longer stride.

What I wasn't expecting was the utter peacefulness that settled over me as I set out. The air was heavy with humidity, and the mercury was already on the rise. I traversed the streets of Roseville listening to birds chirping, eyeing the sun on its journey across the sky and feeling at peace with myself. I suddenly realized that this journey goes well beyond weight loss.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Successless Sit-ups

I am on a mission to do one sit-up. I can't believe my abdominal muscles are so weak they're unable to eek out a single sit-up. Mind you, I was never the sit-up queen, but I could at least do a respectable number when it came time for the Presidential Fitness Challenge in school. Even after six plus months of regular exercise I still can't perform this basic feat. It's definitely tell-tale about my starting fitness level, and to be honest I can't remember when I actually did my last sit-up.

Recently, a friend and I tried working out on the playground equipment at a local park, and it was actually a lot of fun. I have two kids 15 and 11 years, and I am ashamed that as an adult I've never used a playground to improve my own physical fitness. Fellow moms and dads, do your bodies a favor. Check out this playground workout from Shapeand quit passively sitting on a park bench while your kids play.

During our playground workout, my friend and I employed a step for step-ups and uneven squats, climbing bars for reverse push ups and swings for abdominal planks. Oh, and that bench where I usually plant myself and watch my kids play was perfect for modified push ups, mountain climbers and triceps dips. Mixing in a few cardio sprints got our hearts pounding, and by the time we finished we'd managed to burn a respectable number of calories.

Perhaps the most challenging was using a slide for sit-ups. Both of us kept slipping down. Fortunately, we did not land on our heads. As I mentioned earlier, I really can't do a sit-up anyway so I settled for a few "half" crunches. Someday soon, I know my body will award me that one sit-up. Until then, I just gotta keep trying.

Take the kids to the park and workout. Let me know how it goes!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Self Image's Unreliability

First and foremost, I'm back to exercising. I walked 2.75 miles the other night with my 11 year old daughter. It took us about an hour to make the trek, but the company couldn't be beat. Singing show tunes and telling stories we made our way along one of my familiar routes. Then, this afternoon I did a  5.8 mile jog/walk in 1:20.

I'm definitely beginning to feel better and stronger, but I couldn't help feel a little discouraged today when I couldn't just jog the entire distance like I did before my surgery. My heart rate was up around 158 bpm even during a brisk walk so I was reaping the benefit of aerobic exercise. Two weeks ago I was pushing myself a lot harder, but hey, I do still have the stitches in my bum. Anyone who's suffered an injury surely understands the impatience and frustration with the recovery process. It's a step forward one day then two steps back the next. I'm hoping from now on it's, "Forward, ho!"

Lately, I've been thinking about self-image. I, like many, look in the mirror and am unsatisfied with what I see. I critique my hair, face, body shape and clothing choices. Rarely do I truly like what I see, but by the time I walk away from the image in the mirror I've forgotten it.

When I was at my heaviest, I never thought of myself as a 300 pound person unless I was buying clothes which I hated doing, by the way. It is absolutely disheartening to know that you only have a couple choices when it comes to clothing stores, and as a plus size woman most of the clothing displayed I'd never dare wear. A friend and I always refer to that particular clothing genre as "hoochie mama." Who the buys the sleeveless skin tight crop, leggings and minis in a size 28? It's definitely not this girl.

I ultimately dressed in comfortable clothing. Pants with a snap and elastic waistband were heaven set, surely. Tee shirts, I bought one in every color, and big baggy sweatshirts lined my closet shelves. Seldom did I dress up. I always felt like every bulge was visible even with the miraculous advent of Spanx. At least in my over sized leisurewear I fooled myself into believing I was successfully camouflaging my rolls.

In high school I spent enough time obsessing about my physical image. Surely all that aerosol Aqua Net in the 80's damaged my lungs. Back then, I ritually tortured my hair with perms, peroxide, bleach and various hot irons. I'd spend at least an hour getting ready for school. My makeup was carefully applied, and I considered my clothing choices carefully.

My younger sister is still conscientious about her image. Believe me there is some sibling jealousy regarding how young and attractive she appears at 39. My own physical traits are rather unremarkable, and I could definitely use a professional makeover and better wardrobe. I hardly lament my looks so don't think I'm obsessed with the injustice of genetic code. Frankly, I don't considered my appearance beyond my morning preparations. Once I leave the bathroom mirror I idealize my body image as a size 10 and, of course, attractive.

I admit to NOT having a full length mirror anywhere in my house. I can only view myself from waist up unless I'm in a store's changing room. That's probably the reason I loathe shopping for clothing. Not having a full length mirror has helped me cope with being overweight. "See no evil," per say. By not regularly seeing my whole self I've allowed my brain to form a more perfect mental image.

My wake up call was the serious decline in my fitness level. I struggled to get up if I sat on the floor, became winded climbing a flight of stairs and felt sluggish and tired most of the time. It was past time to make a change in my life, and I needed to get moving immediately before my health declined to the point of no return. I was already a type 2 diabetic with high blood pressure and continuing on that trajectory would have been suicidal, plain and simple. I was killing myself with food and sloth-like behavior. My conscious self provided an inaccurate self-image, and until I stopped to cross-examine it I was perfectly happy just rolling along.

With half my weight shed I'm moving toward my ideal-self. As the distance closes I'm beginning to feel more satisfied and successful in my life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Frontman of My Future

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you're living?" - Bob Marley

My family went to the Ziggy Marley concert at the Minnesota Zoo last night. There's nothing like Reggae music to lift a person's spirits. Of course, I couldn't resist a little dancing even post surgery. As I watched Ziggy perform, I started thinking about his band. Who are these musicians? I'm familiar with the headliner's biography and family roots but know nothing about the driving force providing the rhythm to Ziggy's melody.

I performed a quick Google search, and found only bits and pieces. I looked at Ziggy's discography crediting the contributing musicians, but I'm sure some are studio musicians and don't tour regularly. There seems to be plenty of information about the Marley family and legacy, but I've been unsuccessful in pinpointing a cohesive list of Ziggy's touring musicians. Musing about the many talented and creative artists stuck behind a frontman made me consider my life's journey.

Some people are perfectly satisfied going along in life uncredited. While others sometimes deservedly and/or selfishly receive all the credit. Upon examination it's becoming more clear to me that success begins and ends with taking credit for your accomplishments and admitting your failures.

When things seemingly falling apart it's so easy to lose sight of the wins. I listen to criticism from others, and it often affects the way I move forward. I inhibit my progress by over thinking, stalling or being self-effacing. If I want to succeed and be the frontman I need to be more aggressive, fearless and confident. My body-size has definitely contributed to some of the floundering in my personal and business affairs. I want to get up in the morning, look in the mirror and feel confident. It's hard to put your best foot forward when you can't see your feet.

Today's Independence Day, a day for celebration, but I'm feeling melancholy. When I'm sad I like to eat so I've been working extra hard to keep my calories in check. A big bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce and sunflower seeds would have been so soothing and comforting on a day like today. Determination and reason ruled, and I settled for an 80 calorie Edy's fruit bar. It's time be the master of my own destiny and the frontman of my future.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Too Tired to Exercise

I can't believe how exhausted I feel. I thought I would perk up faster after this hemorrhoid surgery. It's been five days, and I just completed my first full day back at work. Since my job as a video editor means sitting for long hours in a chair staring at computer screen, I figured it was fairly safe to return to work. Not much pain today but now that I'm home I feel physically and mentally exhausted. I am actually considering a nap or maybe even just going to bed at 7:30PM.

I know I should try to at least walk around the neighborhood later tonight after it cools off. Perhaps some exercise will give my body the boost it needs to turn the corner. A nice brisk walk, hike, run or bike ride releases adrenaline and endorphines energizing me physically and mentally. It's hard to believe just a few days ago I was logging the miles and moving everyday. Now, I'm too tired to exercise.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

TMI Hemmies and Hernies

I had outpatient surgery on Wednesday for hemorrhoids, and I just haven't felt up to writing over the past few days. The recovery's been going well, and I've been taking Vicodin for pain. It tends to make me sleepy and nauseous. Most of the time I can manage my pain with Ibuprofen alone, but last night I had my first bowel movement after surgery. Today I feel like I'm starting all over in the healing process.

"Hemmies" are an embarrassing talking or even writing point. In fact, I can't believe I just wrote about them in this blog! I am hoping that my experience encourages others to get hemmie help sooner rather than later. Hemorrhoids are mentioned in writings across the ages and have afflicted famous and infamous people alike, but that doesn't make it any sunnier when dealing with discomfort where the sun don't shine.

I've been harboring hemorrhoids since my first fullterm pregnancy in 1996. Hemorrhoids are swollen varicose veins in the anal canal. They can occur internally or externally, and increased pressure can cause them to swell. Everyone's got them, but only some suffer. My hemmies tend to flare during my monthly flow, but at the beginning of May they became a major pain in my ass. I had one explosive stool that setoff a blaze. Every time I had a bowel movement it felt like I was passing razor blades. My anus would burn for a couple hours after, and the only thing that gave me any relief was wrapping an ice cube in a paper towel and shoving it between my butt cheeks. I tried nearly every tip I could find on the internet to help alleviate the discomfort - hot sitz baths, witch hazel wipes, Preparation H, various creams and ointments as well as natural home remedies. Nothing seemed to help, and the longer I suffered physically the more I broke down emotionally. Screaming and crying as I voided, curling up in the fetal position on my bed, weeping and sobbing for relief I finally accepted the need to see a doctor.

My hemmies weren't noticeably engorged with blood or thrombosed so my doctors's initial plan to lance them providing instant relief didn't come to fruition. Instead, I was prescribed steroid suppositories to help calm and sooth the swelling and irritation. After two weeks, my condition did not improve.

During my followup, I talked to my doctor about a softball-sized lump in my abdomen. I'd lost weight, and this bulge was more pronounced. I thought maybe it was putting pressure on my pelvic area aggravating my hemorrhoids. The doctor sent me for an abdominal and pelvic ultrasound. Thankfully, she also wrote me a new prescription for an ointment containing 5% Lidocaine to help numb my hemmie pain.

The radiologist reported an umbilical hernia. A hernia is a bulge of small intestine that manages to work its way outside the abdominal muscle wall near the belly button. I underwent a hernia repair in 2006. The surgeon inserted mesh into my abdominal wall for reinforcement, and I assumed it would prevent any future problems. The ultrasound also showed an abnormally thick lining with a small fibroid in my uterus and a 1.5" mass on one of my ovaries, probably a cyst.

My doctor called me immediately and referred me to a general surgeon. This surgeon had already performed two previous abdominal surgeries on me. He removed a fistula from my abdomen in July of 2002 and repaired my first hernia.

Presenting with a high fever and pressure in my abdomen one week post cesarean section in June of 2001, I underwent a medical procedure performed on a CT table to drain an abscess that had formed in my abdomen. After using a local numbing agent, a doctor and CT tech used the imager to help guide a giant needle through my abdomen directly to the abscess and drain it. Miraculously, my body managed to wall off the infection. I watched the medical team fill two 32-ounce Nalgene-like bottles with this vile smelling brown puss during the first procedure. Lab results proved the fluid contained e. coli and other intestinal bacteria. When finished, the doctor sutured a tube and surgical drain into place, and I sported the device for nearly a month. In addition I was treated with heavy duty IV antibiotics followed by antibiotics in pill form when I was sent home from the hospital a week later. After a year the pain and pressure in my abdomen seemed to return. After more tests, imaging and another CT procedure to drain the infection from my abdomen I met with my general surgeon who recommended open cavity surgery to remove a fistula that had formed and repair my small intestines likely at the root of the problem and leaking into my abdominal cavity.

Now it's 2012, and I'm diagnosed with a second hernia, an intrauterine fibroid, a mass on one of my ovaries and a case of horrible hemmies! On Wednesday my surgeon removed 3 external hemorrhoids plus a skin tag. I am nervous about my recovery and getting back on track with my weight loss quest after a doctor mandated 10-day break from biking, running, lifting and working out. I do plan on trying to take a nice walk tonight, though. I'm worried this speed bump is going to slow my progress. I stepped on the scale the day after surgery and gained 6 pounds surprising since I didn't really eat anything. I know it was because of all the fluids they pumped into me for surgery, but it's still disheartening to see a gain.

So far, the pain from the hemmie surgery pales in comparison to my suffering these past couple months. However, last night I thought I was going to pass out having my first bowel movement post surgery. I've been taking Miralax and stool softener since the surgery, and my surgeon warned me that I'd want to load up on the pain meds and Lidocaine before my first BM. I even did some reading online about it, but I must say that I was wholly unprepared for the shear agony of it. Straining and screaming at the top of my lungs, it felt like that I was pushing a pool ball through my b-hole. Even with soft excrement it was excruciating! I've had a couple more BMs today, and thankfully they were a lot easier and definitely not as painful. I'm using witch hazel wipes to clean and continue to reapply the Lidocaine. I've also had couple warm sitz baths. I am crossing my fingers that this surgery ends my hemmie suffering!

I still need to schedule a hernia repair with my surgeon, and I'm having a followup pelvic ultrasound in August to check the fibroid and mass on my ovary for growth. I talked to my primary care physician and surgeon about a possible abdominoplasty/tummy tuck along with my hernia surgery. Neither dissuaded me from looking in to it. My general surgeon works with a plastic surgeon, and I am going to do a consultation. I'm just not sure if my health insurance will cover an abdominoplasty. I doubt I can afford to do it otherwise.

Since I've had several abdominal surgeries my muscle wall is weak. My fat tends to gather around my mid-section resulting in a belly apron. Since, I've lost a lot of weight already my belly sags and pulls. I've been doing crunches and planks trying to increase my muscle tone. I want to shed another 70 pounds before I schedule a hernia repair and an abdominoplasty. It's just something I'm considering. It would definitely help during my workouts not to have all the excess skin hanging around my midsection. I'm not even sure if it's even possible to fix my belly apron with exercise alone after a 140 pound weight loss.

Today, I am just going to concentrate on recovering from this hemorrhoidectomy without gaining weight. That means adjusting my caloric intake to meet a more sedentary lifestyle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Feeling the Burn

Wow! My legs are sore today. My thighs feel like they're on fire. I'm attributing it to all the yard work on Saturday and biking on Sunday. It was unbelievably disappointing to get on the scale this morning and not see the numbers budge. I'm feeling the pain without the gain! I should really rewrite that last sentence and replace gain with loss. I definitely don't want to see any gain.

My legs are dangling off a loathsome weight loss plateau. The scale refuses to give in, and it's going on a couple weeks. The number moves up slightly and then back down. I usually weigh myself twice in the morning just to make sure the first number I get is valid. Once I stepped on the scale discovering I'd lost 15 pounds overnight. Upon closer inspection I discovered an earring back on the floor under the scale. Boy, that might have been some kind of record for weight lost in a single day if true. I'd make a fortune pedaling a drop it quick diet and exercise plan. Alas, it was a false reading. I wish this plateau was just as bogus!

Frustrated and anxious to get this show on the road I've pushed myself physically over the past week. Believe me I've heard it all before "it's more about losing inches" and "muscle weighs more than fat." I'm sorry, but these simple facts don't salve the irritation especially when I still have 70 pounds to go! Googling weight plateau results in numerous articles about increasing exercise and blaming inaccuracy in food intake recordings. Now's not the time to get lazy! I get it, and I'm not. Although staying positive without the negative feedback from the scale is wearying.

Early on the instant gratification motivated me. During the first month I dropped 20 pounds, and I began working even harder. Since the initial loss it's averaged 8-10 pounds a month. My practical self knows this journey is a long haul. It's a lifestyle change not a mere diet, and once I've finally arrived at the destination the next leg begins. All the while, my foolish self hungers for more immediate results and a giant piece of chocolate cake.

Feeling the burn in my thighs today serves to remind me that I'm building muscle and improving my body composition. Feeling the burn confirms I'm giving this my all. Feeling the burn means I'm making progress even if the scale refuses to show it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Coasting or Climbing

I went for a jog today along a route that I've been frequenting for the past few months. It's 2.6 miles and has some hills. In the beginning I didn't even do the whole route, and I only walked ending up with blisters on my feet and an aching pain in the ball of my foot. Eventually, as the pounds fell away my feet gave me fewer problems.

I downloaded one of those couch to 5K workout plans from the internet and began running in intervals. I began by running a minute, walking five minutes and repeating the interval for 30 minutes. As the weeks progressed so did the length of time running versus walking. Eventually, I was able to run the entire way without stopping. Now, I am by no means fast. Honestly, I should really categorize what I'm doing as a jog. Nonetheless, it is raising my heart rate, and I am burning calories. Running, jogging and walking seem to be helping me reach a better fitness level and lose weight.

Today, I ran in the middle of the day, and it's 95 degrees. I made it about a quarter mile and had to walk a majority of the route. Disappointed, I vowed to finish at least the last mile jogging. Why couldn't I push through the heat and exhaustion and just do it? All I know is that I still managed to burn 350 calories and get some exercise. Some days are harder than others. That's the way it is with my diet, too. What matters is how it all averages out. If there are more good days than bad I know I'll succeed.

I want to mention a couple gadgets I've been using in addition to the iPhone app Calorie Counter PRO by MyNetDiary. I absolutely love the iPhone app Cyclemeter by Abvio. I use it when I run, walk, hike and bike. One of the greatest features is the ability to program intervals. I selected a polite Englishwoman to cut into my music instructing me to "run" and "walk." The app also allows you to program routes, track times and enters it all onto a calendar. It's fun to see the improvement from one month to the next.

The other device I use is a Garmin Forerunner 305. It's a GPS receiver with a wireless heart rate monitor. I usually defer to the Garmin for my actually calories burned since it's actively monitoring my heart rate. I can upload my workout data to my computer and review my stats during the course. I specifically like to see how much I'm pushing my heart rate.

After my walk/jog today I decided to take a bike ride thinking it might make me feel a little better about my poor performance. There is a different route I follow for biking that goes along two different lakes has some long climbs with a couple sections that are great for coasting. As I was slowly climbing a hill, a pack of racers whooshed past me in their skin tight shirts and fancy touring bikes. Here I was listening to music, enjoying the cool breeze coming off the lake, eyeing my speedometer as it hit a whooping six miles per hour, pushing on my pedals with all my might and these guys passed me by so effortlessly. My chest was thundering, knees aching, thighs burning yet by the time I hit the top of the hill those racers had seemingly evaporated. I don't know if I'll ever be able to reach their fitness level. I'm not even sure if my bike will go that fast. I biked 11 miles this afternoon, and I burned 731 calories in an hour.

The exercise today gives me few "extra" calories in my eating plan. So, I plan to reward myself with a small Dairy Queen chocolate dipped cone. In my book, that's a pretty awesome prospect. Even though I'm far from an Olympic athlete I was out there climbing, pushing my body and reaping the rewards. I still prefer the coasting, but I know that in order to make my weight and get fit I need to find the balance.

Crossing My Legs

One of the things I can do now that I've been unable to do for some time is cross my legs. Crossing my legs was virtually impossible and really uncomfortable. At nearly 300 pounds the bulk on my legs and stomach prevented me from enjoying such a seemingly effortless position. Sitting sideways on my hip could get me close. More often than not I tucked my legs to the side or let them fall open if in jeans.

The small wins surrounding my weight loss and fitness goals are beginning to add up. My bike is a lot more comfortable to ride 70 pounds lighter, I don't get winded climbing a flight of stairs and I can't wait for my next plane trip. The last few vacations began by requesting a seat belt extension from a flight attendant. It was embarrassing, and I hated the reminder of my personal failure. I hope to never, ever have to ask for an extender again. I write "hope" because I know that keeping the weight off is going to be an even bigger challenge after losing it.

Right now, I am still in weight loss mode and plan to drop an additional 70 pounds. My ultimate goal is to weigh 150 pounds. For a 5'6" woman this is toward the top of what's considered "normal" weight. I've had two doctors warn me that 150 may be unrealistic for my body makeup, but I think its doable. My immediate objective is to dip under 200 pounds. Then, I want to hit 185 pounds to pull me out of the "obese" category and into "overweight." What a thought! I can't wait to be just "overweight."

I'm looking forward to shopping for clothes in a store that's not Lane Bryant, Catherine's or plus size only and reviewing new health insurance options. Since I am self employed I purchase my health insurance as an individual and do not qualify for a group policy or pricing. In the past, several health insurance companies turned me down due to obesity. Since I live in the state of Minnesota I am able to purchase health insurance through Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association paying significantly more than the average premium for a comparable plan. On top of the physical benefits, my weight loss may help financially.

Sometimes the small things like crossing legs and saving money on health insurance keep a person motivated. Since the summit is still several months away I may as well enjoy a few vistas on the ascent.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Six Months Can Make All the Difference

I've lost about 70 pounds since deciding it was time for a change back on January 6th. That was a little over six months ago. My jean size has dropped from a 28 to 18. Today, I went to my primary care physician for a physical. First off, she was impressed that I'd dropped so much weight in such a relatively short amount of time. Secondly, I am in excellent physical condition for my body size right now. I've been working out 3-5 times per week and monitoring my calorie intake with the iPhone app Calorie Counter PRO by MyNetDiary.

I was diagnosed with high blood pressure a couple of years ago and take Losartan to control it. Today, my doctor took me off the med! My blood pressure was 87/58. I'll be checking it over the next week or so to make sure it doesn't spike, but what an incredible feeling. What a difference six months of healthy eating and exercise can make in one's life!

I am also type 2 diabetic, but my A1C, a test used determine blood glucose control over the past 2-3 months came back 5.5 today. An A1C of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates diabetes. 5.7 to 6.4 is considered prediabetes. Levels below 5.7 percent are normal. I am now back to normal! Unfortunately, once you are diagnosed with diabetes it sticks. My doctor cut my Metformin intake in half with plans to stop it altogether if my next A1C is normal. Unbelievable! I had no idea when I started this journey that I'd be rewarded so soon for my efforts.

The Calorie Counter PRO app is absolutely the secret to my success. It only cost $3.99, and it's the best money I've ever spent on my health. Here's how it works. I'm 5'6" tall and based on my current weight my basal metabolic rate (BMR) caloric intake should be 1682 calories. BMR is the minimum number of calories required for vital functions necessary for life based on my activity level. In order to simply maintain my current weight I can consume up to 2224 calories. This is the estimated energy requirements or EER. The program uses scientific equations to calculate these numbers based on age, gender, weight, height and activity level.

Once I knew my numbers, I could calculate out how much weight I needed to lose and find a reasonable end date. The program only allows weight loss or gain up to two pounds a week or eight pounds a month. With a doctor's approval it is possible to adjust the numbers and lose more or less, but I've found that my daily caloric goal is challenging enough to meet at the "losing two pounds a week" level.

Now, the process of counting calories and using exercise to offset those calories becomes mathematical, and that's exactly what I like about it. There's no guessing. The program has an extensive food catalog containing caloric and nutritional values in addition to food scores. The most convenient part is being able to use my iPhone's camera to scan a package's bar code finding the product and nutritional information instantly. It's so easy! I must admit I've become methodical about measuring portion sizes. If a serving of brown rices is a half cup. I measure it. If an ounce of Havarti cheese is 110 calories I weigh it so I ensure accurate data.

After six months I am astonished by the extraordinary improvements in my physical appearance, mental acuity and emotional well-being. My only regret is not beginning this journey sooner.

I Wish You Were Skinny

My grandma definitely speaks her mind, and I've been scorned and shamed by her on more than one occasion. However, one striking blow cut me to the quick. Just thinking about it pains me to this very day. Grandma probably doesn't even remember it. An adult can crush a kid's confidence so effortlessly.

Grandma was staying with my sister and I while Mom and Dad were away. A preteen,  I rode the bus home from school and made a box of mac and cheese as an afternoon snack. My grandmother returned from an errand and found me eating in front of the television. She was disgusted and immediately began chastising me. "What are you eating? You're going to ruin your dinner."

I really didn't know what to say. I came home from school hungry and made something to eat. I'd done it before, and no one ever seemed to care. Perhaps, a box of mac and cheese wasn't the healthiest choice, but it was tasty.

Then came the words that hurt, "Why can't you just be skinny like the rest of my grandchildren?"

Dumbstruck I put the fork down, went to the kitchen and left my nearly full bowl of mac on the counter. I was absolutely devastated, embarrassed and stunned. It suddenly dawned on me that until I was "skinny" I would never measure up. Being compared to the perfection of others was an inescapable fate. My body shape was my ultimate failure and no amount of personal success or achievement in other areas could compensate. Clearly, until I was physically thinner I'd never be a winner.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Genetics and Healthy Eating

Today, in general, I eat food that is good for me. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, dairy and eggs are all part of my pescatarian diet. Pescatarian is very similar to a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and shellfish. I began eating this way full-time in 1994 after my husband and I began dating. He was a vegetarian, and since we ate a lot of meals together I began avoiding meat, too.

My biggest guilty pleasure is cheese. I love it and eat way too much of it. It's so easy to overindulge if I don't weigh a serving and put the darn block away before I cut "just one more piece." It's usually the culprit when my saturated fat intake is high for the day.

After my doctor diagnosed me with full-blown type 2 diabetes I was sent to a class led by a nutritionist. Being diabetic requires careful monitoring of my carbohydrate intake. During the half day class I was instructed about the importance of counting carbs, sticking to portion sizes, exercising and glucose monitoring. For a woman the goal is to eat no more than 3-4 servings per meal. Simply put that's only 45-60 grams of carbs. I was shocked that half of a banana was considered 1 serving or 15 grams of carbohydrates! Bananas are good for you. Who eats half of a banana?

As the nutritionist discussed diet, keeping glucose in check and the importance of not skipping meals I became angry. Why wasn't I taught about all this before now? I'd been punishing my body since childhood slowly killing myself through a cycle of starvation and indulgence. Wouldn't it have been better to be taught about this earlier in life? Maybe I would have made better choices, and I wouldn't be diabetic.

I am embarrassed to admit that my own kids rarely eat breakfast. My 15 year old son goes to school and skips lunch oftentimes or eats only a cereal bar. When he gets home from school he eats whatever he wants with little regard to nutritional value or caloric intake. Not only have I passed on the "fat" gene I've propagated a deadly cycle of unhealthy eating.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Now Departing


A good friend encouraged me to start blogging about my weight loss journey to keep me motivated and provide encouragement to others paddling the same boat. This is my very first blog, and I have no idea how faithful I'll be in my posts.

I went to my doctor on January 6th, 2012 and was horrified as I watched the nurse slide the counterweight on the scale to the 300 hash. "Ouch!" I thought, "Am I really that heavy? I definitely don't see a 300 pound woman when I look in the mirror." Boy, did I feel like I dodged a bullet when the scale tipped and the nurse moved its counterweight back to 250 adding 39 - 289 pounds. Woah! How did I let myself get this fat? I'm only 5'6". Ideally, I'd weigh 150.

I made the appointment to get my prescriptions refilled and have an A1C, a blood test that averages blood glucose levels over 2-3 months. A couple years ago I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Of course, the warning signs were present a few years prior when my doctor called me borderline or prediabetic and began closely monitoring my blood pressure.

I kept telling myself I needed to lose the excess baggage, but weight loss just never became a priority. I continued with my poor eating habits and failed to exercise on a regular basis. I was busy with two kids and running my own business. I didn't have the time to workout or eat breakfast every morning. In fact, some days I only made time for one meal.

Who am I kidding? I've been skipping meals since childhood rarely eating breakfast and missing lunch to hangout with friends in the band room. I was part of the "no lunch club" in high school. One of the guys cut weight for wrestling while I hoarded my lunch money to buy soft serve ice-cream cones at the Buy Low after school. At home dinner served as the main meal of the day and was commonly meat and potatoes. I always had seconds.

I grew up on an acreage in Iowa attending school in a small town nearby. Several towns merged into one school district resulting in my high school class size of 64. I went out for nearly every sport and filled my mornings and evenings with extracurricular activities that included band, jazz band, choir, swing choir, speech, theater and other clubs. I wasn't obese by any means, but I always felt like my weight was an albatross.

Once I got into college, my physical activity level dropped significantly. No longer playing sports on a regular basis, I spent a large majority of my time sitting in class and studying. Of course, there was also the obligatory college drinking and partying, too. My eating habits continued to decline, more skipped breakfasts and lunches followed by high fat and calorie late night meals. With college culinary staples like deep fried french fries and cheese curds, burgers and pizza how could I not gain the freshman 15 plus some? I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. I didn't have any money so my cost effective solution was to buy men's boxers and wear those to class with an oversize tee or sweatshirt.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year at college I returned home for a summer job at a thermopane window factory. I lost 40 pounds that summer by limiting myself to beef broth and Diet Coke for nearly a month. The sweltering heat at the factory and physical demands helped get me back into my jeans. Alas, the return to campus and continued bad habits meant the rebirth of my muffin top.