Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why was I so full?

So last night I felt full and uncomfortable. I'd had an regular almost regular day: low point breakfast, snacks, and lunch. My evening, however, was due to be a busy one with school picnic, personal training, and then dancing with my friends.

When I picked up the kids from daycare I took them to our local hot dog place to get them a couple of kids meals for the picnic and myself a mini chicken pita with no mayo. This is usually an ok meal that allows me to stay within my daily point budget. The only difference this time around is that I was thirsty and instead of getting myself a water, I got myself a diet coke.

Now, I used to describe myself as a "Diet Coke Addict". I used to have 1 or 2 a day, and if there was a particular day when I didn't have a diet coke, i'd get irritable until I had one.

In this weight loss program I decided to no longer buy diet coke, in the interest of being healthy. I figured if I'd gotten to 222lbs drinking diet coke along with my unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, obviously the "diet" part wasn't working.

Yesterday I had the diet coke with my mini pita and I felt uncomfortable, with a bloated belly for at least 2 hours after. I finally felt better after I did my 1 hour of personal training (my trainer Vicky is deceptively sweet... but really makes me work harder each time).

It's amazing that with only one month into this new, healthy lifestyle, my body has grown adverse to soda like that. In a way, I'm glad, because we drink soda a lot  of times in substitution of water, and that's not good for hydration. I also realize now how much I dislike feeling too full or bloated. These feelings were commonplace before I started on this weight loss journey. Eating my points and exercising has put my body in a constant state of  "not too ful, not too hungry... just right" which gives me more energy and puts me in a good mood.

Onto a different but related subject, this week I lost 1.6lbs at my weigh-in. Deep inside I'd wished it had been more, like the previous week, but that's just fine. At least I'm losing weight and feeling better every day. That's what matters! Onto another 1.6lbs!

Original weight: 222lbs
Current weight: 204.6lbs
Pounds lost: 17.4lbs 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Burn, Baby Burn!!! (My calories are on FIRE!)

When I go for a walk at lunch time, my pedometer says I only burned 85 calories. Then when I use the elliptical for 30 min at night it says I burned 250 or so. If you consider a tub of yogurt can be about 110 calories, these little numbers can be discouraging.

However, it's not about how much you burn right then and there, but how much extra calories you burn in a week to the amount you'd have burned by not exercising:

They call it your "resting metabolic rate": in this site you can estimate yours:
Mine is 1590 (that's how many calories I burn in a day without exercising).

They say it takes 3500 calories burned to lose 1lb of fat. Look at it on a weekly basis, and it's down to math:

Resting Met. Rate: 1590 x 7 = 11130
Walking 20 min @ lunch: 85 x 5 = 425
30 Min on Elliptical: 250 x 4 = 1000
30 Min Strength training: 100 x 4 = 400
60 Min Zumba class: 3 x 589 = 1767
Total burned in a week: 14722
(about 3500 extra to my resting metabolic rate)

If I eat about 1600 calories a day, I'm guaranteed to lose 1 lb of fat a week by this equation.

Don't you wish life were that simple?
How can my weight loss efforts come down to a math equation? I'm a numbers person, so when I see things this way, it takes the mystery out of burning fat. My goal is not just to lose weight: it is also to burn more calories than I ingest and in turn, burn fat while building muscle (did I mention muscle burns more fat?)

I feel like I've been spreading  a lot of calorie burning wisdom (most of this I learned from the people at my gym), so here is another one:
Just like cars, we burn more fuel in "stop and go traffic" than at a constant speed. That's why the interval function on machines is so popular (and more effective!)

Next time you're at the treadmill or elliptical, try the interval mode. It's way more challenging and burns more calories for the time you spend there.

Happy Burning!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good Weigh In Days: One of many to come.

Woohoo! I lot 4.4lbs since the last weigh in! I feel great. Those zumba classes are really helping. (I'm going to remember this feeling for an inevitable weigh in in the future when i might not lose as much).

It's very encouraging to feel validated for my efforts since I started my weight loss program. Before I joined WW, I had started exercising and eating healthy for about 2 weeks. So all in all, since the day I started, I've lost 15.8lbs (5.8 on WW). I also measured myself 10 days ago. I've lost 2 inches off my waist, 1 off my hips, and 3 off my bust ! (I've been noticing my bras feeling looser). Funny how my hip area is minimizing at a slower pace.

That's ok, Hips! You'll have to give up all that extra padding eventually!

On to another week  of healthy choices!

Original weight: 222lbs
Current weight: 206.2lbs
Pounds lost: 15.8lbs

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gluttony Day

When I was 18, I put myself through a weight loss program that lasted about 6 months and was actually successful. It consisted of eating a low fat/low cal diet, combined with lots of walking and mental discipline.

The way I kept up the discipline was to tell myself that if I wanted a fattening food, I could have all I wanted one day a month. So I would be on my best behaviour all days of that month but one: the 16th. Why the 16th? Because that's my birthday (in April).

Why did it work? Because I hate feeling deprived, and thinking I can't ever have something yummy like cheesy pizza or chocolate is a surefire way to undermine my resolve to lose weight. So it worked really well. I was able to avoid all sorts of temptations because I knew I had that one day in the month when I could eat whatever I felt like eating.

I would plan for the day, going grocery shopping the day before to buy those special items. It was great. Those days I was a student and had a lot more free time, so I would relish in the glory of being free to be glutonous for one day. I ended up losing 22lbs, which at the time was what I needed to lose to get back to a healthy weight. (I wish I could post before and after pics, but the ones I have are not digital. Maybe I'll scan them and put them here when I can).

So I decided to do this 1-day a month system now as well. I officially started my weight loss program 7/28/2010, so the 16th came faster than I expected. I didn't really plan for it, but I knew there were certain things I'd been craving which had too much fat for my points, like pizza, sushi, chocolate and my all time favorite: Chicken Korma from an Indian place in my town.

Out of habit (woohoo! eating healhy is becoming a habit!), I spent the work hours of my day eating low fat low cal meals and snacks (low points), but when I picked up my kids I bought them pizza and bought myself my often craved Chicken Korma.

In the spirit of freedom, I helped myself to 1 slice of my kids' pizza, and then proceeded to divide up the chicken korma into 2 servings. I also kept most of the sauce in the original container. I figured the sauce is the worst offender due to high oil, cream and sugar content.

In the past, I would eat the entire entre, down to the last drop of sauce. This time, I had half with much less sauce, but after I ate it I felt stuffed! This was a good surprise. It means I'm getting my stomach used to eating light. Heavy cream sauce, though yummy, doesn't sit well anymore. I also had a bit of my favorite kind of chocolate, which I used to have all the time. It contiributed  to my stomach feeling stuffed. After that I felt heavy, tired, and I just wanted to lay down and veg out.

But,  I had a date with my work-out routine at the gym, so I made myself go despite that tired stuffed up feeling.

Working out after that meal was the best thing I could have done. I felt 100% better after my hour at the gym. That heavy feeling was gone, and my stomach felt fine.

I'm glad I had my day to "pig out", but I did it responsibly and actually tracked every point! It put me 7 points above my daily allowance, so I was able to borrow from the weekly points (which I usually don't touch).

Now I'll happily do another month of low fat healty eating, until the next 16th!!!  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How I spend my time: now and before

In  the journey to a healthier body and a healthy life, it has become very apparent to me that I need to change the way I spend my waking hours. Prior to my big decision, it's safe to say I spent the vast majority of my time in a sedentary position.

It's easy to do that when you value intellectual stimulation above all other kinds: movies, TV, books. I love fiction. I love the way it transports me to another time, another world, someone else's body. Typically, my favorite people to be transported into are strong, smart, athletic women. These women hold the power of intelligence and beauty simultaneously, and can overcome any challenge.

Now that I'm trying to examine myself and my motivations more closely, I'm realizing these fictional women are who I'd like to be: a strong, beautiful, smart woman who can do anything. Well, guess what: I'm strong, beautiful, and smart! I CAN do anything, and I'm going to prove that by losing the extra weight and becoming healthier.

Going back to the subject of how I spend my time, being a fiction junkie means I would spend a ton of my free time relaxing, reading or watching. Obviously, that is not conducive to weight loss. Since I'm a geek and a numbers person, I'm going to now quantify how my hours were spent in a week, and how I'm now trying to allocate them:

- Sleep: 52.5 hrs/week or 31.2% of the week.
- Work (including commute): 50 hrs/week or 29.8% of the week.
- TV/Computer/Couch (est. from 7pm to 10:30 on weekdays, and 12 hrs on weekends): 41.5 hrs/week or 24.7% of the week.
- Rest (as in remainder): 24 hrs/week or 14.3% of the week
Total hours in a week: 168

Of course I was doing all sorts of things during remaining 24, like grocery shopping, cleaning, going to the movies, dinner with friends, sometimes even dancing, but there was no activity that I did regularly that I can quantify.

- Sleep: 52.5 hrs/week or 31.2% of the week.
- Work (including commute & 20 min walk at lunch): 50 hrs/week or 29.8% of the week.
- Gym Exercise (1 hr/day): 7 hrs/week or 4.2% of the week
- TV/Computer/Couch (est. from 8:30pm to 10:30 on weekdays, and 6 hrs on weekends): 22 hrs/week or 13.1% of the week.
- Rest (as in remainder): 36.5 hrs/week or 21.7% of the week
Total hours in a week: 168

I'm so glad I'm doing this. I knew I spent way too much time on my couch, but 25% of my time? That's too much! Now, introducing exercise and reducing couch time, I seem to have more time in the "rest" bucket.

I think I should set a goal to exercise more in the weekends in order to avoid letting the hours from "rest" go into "couch".

So, aside from being a geek, a numbers person, and a fiction junkie, I'm also fond of brainstorming.
Ideas to convert mental stimulation time into active time:
- Get the channel lineup from the gym, and plan my cardio machine workouts during TV shows or movies I want to see.
- Download Audio books into my ipod and go walking while I listen.
- Do step exercises on my Wii balance board while watching TV.
- Ab crunches on the floor while watching TV.
- Watch movies/tv while cleaning the house.

As for social time, I also need to find ways of getting exercise in with socializing. I'm thinking of asking my friend to go swing dancing with me.

Any effort is better than no effort, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Week 1 of WW - Done!

So I got weighed officially this week at my WW meeting. Obsessing about my ups and downs on the scale everyday did not help me at all.

Appropriately enough, the meeting was about being flexible with our goals and not obsessing about every little thing in the program! I took it to heart, although I have to admit I'm not ready to let go of my discipline yet. It's always been my biggest problem: being too laid back and not having mental discipline to develop and maintain good habits. It's taken a lot of mental energy to get to where I'm at today: a functioning adult who's able to keep her house (mostly) clean, and keep all the kids' affairs in order.
I need the mental discipline to plan my meals, track my points, and find time to exercise.

Don't they say it takes 2 weeks to implement a new habit? Or was it 4 weeks? It might take me longer than that until the point thing becomes second nature and I'm not so rigid with my food choices.

My weight loss this week wasn't as high as I had hoped: 1.4 lbs. At least I didn't gain after all my trips to the gym and staying just under my daily point allowance every day without using the extra 35.

Regardless of what the number says, though, I feel great! Better than I had in a long time. I feel slimmer, and my clothes are fitting a bit looser. Even my bra this morning could close at a closer hook position than usual!

Here's to hoping I'll drop more by next weeks' weigh in.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To weigh or not to weigh?

So I've been weighing myself daily, sometimes multiple times a day in different scales. Am I obsessively geeky about scale accuracy, or just obsessed? To be honest, it's great when all the numbers are pointing down, but when they go up from one day to another (by 1 pound!) it can be kind of discouraging.

So I'm trying to decide whether it would be best to just get weighed once a week at Weight Watchers, or whether I should continue to track my weight daily at home and at the gym.

The positive aspect of tracking daily are that I won't let myself stray too far from the path since I'll know where I'm at all the time. The negative is that if my weight goes up in a particular day when I know I've tried hard, it causes unnecessary anxiety.

If I continue to practice good healthy habits and stay within my points, eventually I'll make progress, so there's no reason why I should be freaking out about going up 1lb from one day to another, but my obsessive nature makes me go there... Chill out Fernanda!

I think for now I will continue to track daily, and hopefully soon I'll feel more secure in my weight loss program that I won't need to anymore.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This time I'm serious

Status Quo:
My story will likely sound like a cliche, so I'll spare you the details and melodrama... in a nutshell, I've been over-weight most of my adult life and it's been mostly fueled by an unhealthy relationship with food that started in adolescence. The problem grew with me as I had kids and struggled with the challenges of being a responsible adult.

The catalyst:
I recently took a vacation to Brazil, where I spent time with my family and ate. This trip brought back a lot of feelings of inadequacy caused by my skinny sisters and diet-obsessed mother. Everywhere I went in Rio, I was the fattest person there. Even people from my past who used to be over-weight looked great and smaller than me. One particular friend of mine has become a runner! She looks great! She can be found in pictures with me in which he had similar body types and I am so inspired by her.

I'm also inspired by my daycare lady, who has become half of what she used to be before my very eyes (She's on weight watchers) .

During my vacation, several family members asked me to take better care of myself. They all brought up my health risks in being obese, and said they wanted me to be well, and healthy, and here for my children. Being a critical thinker above all, I thought it was odd that they all gave me similar speeches. They all brought up the same points, and in some cases used almost the same words! I imagined them meeting behind my back for an intervention, memorizing speeches and singing cumbaya... More likely though, they just looked at me and decided to say something. This came from my deaf grandma, my aunt, my mom's best friend, and finally my mom and older sister.

It was uncomfortable for me to sit there and listen to this. I thought, and in some cases said: "Do you think I don't know this? Don't you know I'm the one who has to live with this weight?" I also played the victim: "If you lived my life you wouldn't have time to cook or exercise either". Mostly I knew they were right, and gave them a uncommitted "I'll try my best".

But something happened in this trip. While I defended myself from family members' concerns, I was eating like I was on vacation. Soon my body started protesting. Having had Gestational Diabetes, I'm considered high risk for diabetes. The last time I was formally checked was may 2007 and I'm due for another checkup. Maybe it was the humidity, maybe I wasn't drinking enough water, but most likely I was having too much sugar and my feet started swelling. Toward the end of the day, they hurt and I just wanted to lay down all the time.

The decision:
Once my trip was over, I had to endure 9 hrs in a tight airplane seat. The seat's arms didn't go up, and I was so bloated, the seat belt almost didn't reach to buckle! This experience felt very real. I decided, then and there, that I would get serious about my health.

I'm 32 and I live a busy life with 2 elementary-school-age kids, working full time, an irresponsible and financially slimy ex-husband, and enough stress to take most people down. My time is precious, and I haven't been using it the most productive way possible. I used to say I didn't have time to diet or exercise, but that's not necessarily true: I used to spend way too much time on the internet and watching movies/tv.

Somethings needed to change.

Steps to change:
It seemed over-whelming at first, but taking one step at a time helps. With me, I was so excited to get going on my path to change that I started doing these one right after the other, or at times simultaneously:

  1. Grocery shopping for healthier items (with the goal of bringing my lunch and snacks to work everyday and to have healthy snacks at home) --Check!
  2. Start walking with my coworker every day at lunch --Check!
  3. Try to do 20 mins of cardio every morning before having breakfast -- Hmmm.... hard to wake up sometimes. Working on it.
  4. Join a Gym --Check! (my gym has a daycare = very important)
  5. Join Weight Watchers --Check! Had my first meeting last Thursday.
  6. Track my food and exercise -- Checking... I downloaded apps onto my ipod touch that help me with that.
Instant results:
I know it sounds like an exaggeration, but I started feeling better as soon as I started implementing these changes. I started all this the day I got back: Monday July 26th. I was officially weighed at my gym on Tuesday the 27th at 222 lbs. By the time I joined Weight Watchers on Thursday August 5th, my weight was down to 212lbs. My feet and legs are no longer swollen, and my foot pain has reduced. I feel better, more energetic and comfortable. I'm also sleeping better and not having back pain.

I know those initial pounds are usually easy to lose (mostly water), so I'm also monitoring my body fat % at the gym. I've lost 2% body fat and my goal is to lose another 2% within a month, which brings me to...

Being 5'2", my BMI was around 40% at my gym weigh-in. According to the BMI chart, a 25% BMI (the highest point before being considered "overweight" for me would be 137lbs.
That would mean a total weight-loss of 85lbs. "85?" I ask myself, "Consider it done!"

The thing about these goals is that it seems really arbitrary: focusing on a number of total pounds to lose. If i focust too much on the greatness of the number, I might get discouraged, so I'm going to go 20 by 20:
- From 220, I'm going to 200.
- From 200, I'm going to 180.
- From 180, I'm going to 160.
- and finally, I'm going to 140.

And I'm not going back up.

I'm also going to measure my success by tracking clothing size (I'm curently an 18), Body Fat %, and BMI.

I've always thought, as well as heard from others, that a weightloss program would not work unless I was ready to change. Well, guess what? Something clicked (no pun intended, airplane seatbelt) and I'm ready. In fact, I'm already changing.

I'm hopeful, optimistic for the future, and loving myself more and more as I go. I can and will get healthier. I can and will lose this extra weight and get to a point where I've eliminated my risk of diabetes, lowered my bad cholesterol and am living a healthy active lifestyle.

Encouragement, tips and feedback:
If you're reading this, I can use your help. Feel free to say whatever you want, and I will read it with respect and an open mind.

Original weight: 222lbs
Current weight: 209lbs
Pounds lost: 13lbs