Seeing the spread

Hi and happy hump day!

I’ve been a serious sap lately, trying to appreciate all the good in my life as much as I can. I have an inner critic that tends to get cautious when things are going too well, so I’m trying to shut that voice up and keep on living the good life.

This got me thinking last night about how my efforts to get healthy have translated into my life in so many different ways that I could have never imagined but it all started with a simple: “I’m worth it.” It’s been nothing short of amazing to see how discipline in terms of achieving better health for myself have made so many other parts of my life immeasurably brighter. I don’t take my health for granted, I’m truly appreciate of my body on a consistent basis. I spend time savoring my food because I know all of the effort that went into cooking it. There’s meaning to things I do that wasn’t there a few years ago.

My discipline goes beyond food choices too. Since I started caring about what I put in my body I’ve also been better about things like flossing or wearing sun screen.

My college roommates probably don’t believe me, but I’m also no longer a slob. I  was really, really messy prior to a few years ago and now I love cleaning.

Realizing how small changes have made big differences to my health showed me that taking five minutes at the beginning and end of my day to put things back in their place, make my bed, wash the dishes or vacuum makes cleaning more manageable and not a dreaded task.

Not a day goes by that I’m not aware in someway of how my life has changed.

This is not about some kind of willpower or great motivation that I’ve been able to tap into, but it’s about seeing how small positive habits have the power to transform your life.

When you’re losing weight there’s a big desire to to have it be fast! and easy! but there’s no reward in fast or easy. I’ve found immense beauty in the power of dedication and discipline and in appreciating and honoring all of the things I do every day that push me forward.

My “spark” so to speak, was that at some point I made the switch in my head to abandon fast and easy to take on everything in my life one small moment at a time.

The last few months have been hard. I’ve been stuck in a lot of ways, my weight being one of them. I feel lately though that by doubling down on discipline with what I’m eating, the rest of my life feels more in control. To be honest, although I was frustrated, I was not surprised that my weight hadn’t moved for months. The last half year of my life was a bit of a backslide into binge eating and I’m just now clawing my way back out.

I’m back on my game now. I’m being strict in every aspect of my life. With my food and with my inner voice, where my energy goes and what I let influence me. I’m aware and I’m in control.

Thoughts become things, choose good ones.

“Through discipline comes freedom” – Aristotle

Now…the numbers

Starting weight: 243

Last week:157.5

This week: 155.5

Total lost: 87.5

Click here for every weigh in, ever.

Fantastic four and weigh-in

You guys…!

I finally broke through the 5K distance rut and ran FOUR MILES on Sunday!

I went into the run feeling good, motivated by a new music playlist, cool weather, fresh legs and my Zensah compression sleeves. I hadn’t planned on achieving a new PDR that day, but I was so happy that there was no pain in my shins that I decided to push it!

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It was tough! I relied on intervals of 10 minutes running/1 minute walking to get me through. Overall the 4 miles took about 53 minutes (13 min/mi), which I know is slow for most people – but I’m proud!

But while my shins are okay….my calves are not! I’ve had a few really painful charley horses this week

I’m great at hydrating Monday-Friday…but then the weekend comes and I forget to drink water and subsist largely on coffee…and sometimes wine…

I was woken Sunday morning by muscle spasms in both my calves..and then  the spasms struck again when I took off my compression sleeves after the four mile run. Does anyone know why this is happening?

I was under the impression that muscle cramps come from being dehydrated…which I definitely was…but if you have another reason/idea that might help, tell me! I know that lack of potassium can also be a possible cause, but I used to get them all the time when I was eating a banana a day, so I’ve ruled that out.

I’ve been doing some extra stretches to relieve the pain, but my right calf is still tight.

In other news…I made mini frittatas this week and can’t get over how cute (and yummy!) they are. I (kind of) followed this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo. I left out the meat and just went with onions, broccoli and mushrooms for filling. I also paired down her recipe to make just 12.

Now….The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 172.5

This week: 172.5

Change: 0

Total loss: 70.5

Wednesday Weigh-in and Week 3 Paleo Update

Hello!

I really feel like I hit my paleo stride this week. The first week was a huge adjustment, I was definitely going through some carb/sugar detox and my head felt cloudy all the time. Last week involved a lot of thinking, planning and learning and this week following the paleo diet has been almost, well, natural!

Brussels sprouts, asparagus and onions seasoned, ready for roasting!

I want to reiterate that I am far from following a paleo diet strictly. When I began, I said my goal was to be consistent, and I’m very happy to report that I absolutely have been consistent. Striving for perfection, I feel, is just undue cause for stress and burnout and eventually failure. I’m loosely going by the 80/20 concept, where I’m following paleo 80 percent of the time and not 20 percent of the time. This week that 20 percent consisted of Tasti D-Lite, Indian food at Brick Lane Curry House and a slice of homemade apple pie from a local farm. It was amazing.

I’m still shocked by how long I stay full with paleo-inspired breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Last week I did a breakdown of breakfast, paleo vs. pre-paleo, this week, lunch!

Pre-paleo my lunch was typically a salad of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, a half cup of chickpeas or a veggie burger and a homemade dressing of oil and vinegar. With the salad I would have 4-6 oz of fat free plain Greek yogurt and 1-2 pieces of fruit, something like an apple and orange or strawberries. For about 500 calories, this meal had 58 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fat and 24 grams of protein. Since beginning paleo, I’ve had the same basic meal for lunch every day. A salad of lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, 4 oz of chicken, avocado and/or almonds and dressing of oil and vinegar with no snacks on the side. This meal, a little lower in calories, around 450, has 23 grams of carbs, 28 grams of fat and 34 grams of protein.

Yes, it’s lower calorie, and less “things” to eat – but I’m so much fuller! Because avocado and almonds are high in fat and calories, I keep my portions on the small side, usually about 50 grams of avocado (maybe 1/4-1/2 an avocado, depending on its size) and about .5 oz of almonds.

Pre-paleo if I was hungry, I would also be very unfocused and find it hard to follow conversations or work or do anything that required effort. I needed to eat ASAP. It felt terrible and I felt like I was always complaining about being hungry. Pre-paleo, I could barely make it to lunch without wanting to chew off a finger or two and absolutely needed to snack between lunch and dinner. Most days I could barely even wait until 5 p.m. to eat dinner. It’s a totally different story now. From my 8 a.m. breakfast, I stay full right up until about noon for lunch, and if I’m hungry after work/before dinner, I will snack on some veggies and don’t feel like I’m in a rush against my hunger to make dinner.

Breakfast: Pumpkin coconut flour muffin, Fage Greek 2% plain yogurt and a dollop of sunflower seed butter

And like I’ve said many times now, I’m totally enjoying cooking more and trying out different recipes and flavor combinations. I’m really glad I’ve been tracking my food on MyFitnessPal this whole time, because I find it absolutely fascinating to see the break down of why and how my meals are different.

Sauteed zucchini and baby portobello mushrooms with chicken sausage

I’m not really missing any pre-paleo food, and if I want it, I eat it. Same rules as before. Restriction absolutely DOES NOT WORK for me.

This was another so-so week as far as exercise goes. I didn’t see my trainer at all – blaming the work schedule on that one – but I have gotten outside everyday to enjoy this unusually warm weather! My goal for joining the gym in the first place was not only to have somewhere to work out during the winter, but to develop a strength training routine. Ideally, I would like to go a few mornings a week to work on strength and walk outside during the afternoons. That would be a perfect workout plan for me – now I just have to make it happen!

The view at the start of one of my favorite running/walking paths

Anyway, enough babble, here are the numbers:

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 176

This week: 174.5

Change: -1.5

Total loss: 68.5

One change at a time

When I look back at the beginning of my weight loss journey, I can truly see how *this* time was different.

You know how I know that? Because I didn’t start out saying “this time is going to be different.”

A big reason people fail when they try to lose weight is because they focus too much on a dream of a different life and believe that simply being skinny will give them that different life.

Then they lose a bunch of weight through unsustainable methods and when they realize their life is no different, they go back to food as comfort.

Or at least that was how it had worked for me.

Hundreds and hundreds of times I would wake up full of enthusiasm always to end up, an hour later, a day later, a week later or a month later, hiding in my room eating everything in the kitchen. And when that food was gone, I would buy more.

It sounds crazy to think that a whole lifetime of habits can change in one single instant, but how many of us hold on to that hope?

Think of any skill, such as playing the piano. No one would expect to sit down at a piano and know how to play, but that’s the mindset of so many people when they say they want to lose weight.

When you take on too much too quickly, you’re bound to end up overwhelmed and eventually discouraged.

When I first began losing weight, other people thought I was crazy because I didn’t exercise and I didn’t plan on exercising. Seriously, I began my weight loss journey with a conscious decision  not to exercise.

Instead I focused on one change: food.

I lived and breathed and obsessed over nutrition every second of every day. I wrote down what I ate when I was awake and – true story – often dreamed about what I had eaten when I slept.

At first I tackled small challenges like weaning myself off of Lean Cuisines and learning how to go food shopping and then moved on to bigger things like exploring the reasons why I was an emotional, secret and binge eater.

Once in a while someone would tell me, “You know, you would lose weight faster if you exercised a couple of times a week.”

Good advice, maybe, but time was and is still not of the essence to me.

I continued on that path until one day I realized that healthy eating habits were suddenly mindless and just something I did. Grocery shopping no longer requires two hours in the store reading food labels, I can recognize real hunger from wanting to eat in response to my emotions, and the idea of ever consuming another Lean Cuisine again makes me gag.

I had a similar journey to exercise. Each day I would wake up with one thought on my mind: When can I walk today?

I walked before work, after work, in the dark, in the cold and rain and when temperatures rose above 100 degrees. I walked to get coffee, to meet my friends at the bar, to run errands and for frozen yogurt. If it was within a few miles, I would walk there. I canceled plans to fit in a walk and often made my friends walk with me.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to do everything at once, or everything perfectly from the beginning to lose weight. A lifestyle change doesn’t happen with a snap of a finger. There is no time limit for you to get it right. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by losing weight, especially when that number is over 100. But if you focus on actions and doing instead of results, and break down what needs to be done into manageable steps, everything really will fall into place.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Wednesday Weigh-in

As you may have read, I began following a paleo diet earlier this week.

There were many reasons that went into the this decision, first and foremost was that I needed a change to get out of a major food rut.

I’ve only been following paleo guidelines since Saturday, but here are some of my first impressions:

I’ve been eating according to the rules from Paleo author Robb Wolf, which means creating my meals with combinations of lean proteins, fruits and veggies and healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.

I’m also following his advice for weight loss, and keeping my fruit servings to 1-2 a day. Dairy, so I’ve read, is a questionable paleo item and I’ve been keeping my serving to one 1/2 cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt a day.

Overall, it hasn’t been too difficult. I still have some non-paleo approved food to consume like hummus and white potatoes that I’m working into my diet in small doses to make sure I don’t waste food.

The hardest part has undeniably been cutting back on my fruit intake. I probably was eating anywhere from 3-6 servings of fruit a day. I actually really miss my bananas, which brings me to my next point.

The biggest challenge for me has been coming up with breakfast ideas. For the last year I’ve either made a green smoothie (banana, almond milk, strawberries, protein powder, spinach) or oatmeal with a banana for breakfast. It wasn’t only habit, but something I loved and craved.

Eggs, the staple of a paleo diet, just don’t do it for me. I definitely discovered this week that I crave a sweet meal for breakfast. Also, my favorite way to eat eggs is sunny side up with very runny yolk, and it’s just not as much fun or satisfying without bread to dip in the yolk. For the past couple days I’ve made omelettes with veggies and deli meat chopped up inside, but I’m really not enjoying it. I miss the feeling of fueling up with fruit in the morning. There’s nothing that quite compares to the energy one gets after downing a green smoothie.

I’m not sure what a solution to this dilemma is going to look like. For some reason I really just feel weighed down by eggs every morning. Eggs for me are more of a once in a while food or something I would eat for dinner, which is when I crave them. I’m also not really enjoying meat with breakfast. I find a savory meal doesn’t pair as well with coffee either.

Next week I’m going to look into making pancakes with almond or other wheat-free flour or protein-powder/nut butter smoothies.

I’m definitely not going to force myself to keep eating eggs. I love eggs at other meals, but at breakfast they just turn me off.

I also made the mistake of not getting a big enough variety of meats. I did really well with vegetable variety, but I’ve pretty much been stuck eating chicken for every meal. It’s the cheapest, but next week I’m going to go meat shopping first and dedicate a larger portion of my budget to getting quality items.

I found a few good recipes for paleo pancakes, muffins, breads and smoothies that I’m excited to try that I hope will keep me from going crazy. I miss the feeling of waking up craving breakfast and want that back!

I realized going into the diet change I wouldn’t be able to eat some of the foods I love, but enjoying breakfast is non-negotiable.

I really want to follow paleo rules as closely as possible, at least for a week or two to see the benefits. I’m sure overtime I’ll increase my fruit and dairy intake.

I’m being patient with my body and giving it time to adjust to all the protein and fat I’ve been eating. It’s been a little bit uncomfortable, and I also think i’m getting some withdrawal symptoms from decreasing carbs and sugar. According to MyFitnessPal stats, I’ve pretty much doubled my protein and fat intake over the last few days and I have to be patient during this adjustment period.

It hasn’t been all negative, however. I feel re-invigorated with cooking! I’ve tried new foods and cooking methods this week and plan to continue searching and playing with recipes. I have a feeling if I land on a crave-able breakfast I’ll be much happier following a paleo plan

Diets, after all, are not an exact science. Different food choices work for different people. I’m lucky that I don’t have any food allergies and can, for the most part, eat whatever I want. Learning what works best for my body so I feel good and get the weight-loss results I’m after is trial and error and a process I really enjoy.

I may eventually go back to my old moderately carb-loving eating habits (does swooning over oatmeal classify me as a carb lover??) but for now I’m giving paleo 100 percent.

Here’s how it all worked out:

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 177

This week: 174.5

Change: -2.5

Total loss: 68.5

Wednesday Weigh-in

Another Wednesday, another weigh-in!

I know I shouldn’t be amazed, but I can’t help it sometimes when something so simple – counting calories and exercise – works out.

I continued to be consistent in my calorie intake and made it to the gym at least 5 days I think. My workouts were nothing special. There is something bothering me in my left foot/ankle area so I’m taking it easy on the high-impact workouts and stretching a lot! It’s been a problem for weeks, but I think now it’s finally healing. Until it’s completely better, I decided to wear my Converse sneakers to work instead of flats, since that’s what I’m in the majority of the time and the change seems to be helping. Thank god my job has a relaxed dress code. Now I just need to fine some supportive cute shoes….oh boy.

This week I have a fitness goal instead of a nutrition goal: Abs! It’s likely my weakest area, and something I would really like to be stronger. Any recommendations for some good moves?

Onto the weigh-in!

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 178.5

This week: 176.5

Change: -2

Total loss: 66.5

I wish I had your motivation

This is such a cheesy way to begin a post, but I’m going to do it anyway.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “I wish I had your motivation” I’d be rich.

Filthy, stinkin’ rich!

But that’s not how life works. And that’s definitely not how motivation works.

When someone says that to me, especially someone I know well, I just want to scream, “Don’t you know me?!”

I would not describe myself as someone who is highly motivated at all. But I would say I am someone who is dedicated and willing to work hard to achieve the things I want.

Here are the two greatest things I ever did for myself:

  1.  I gave up on the idea that my weight loss would one day be miraculously be “sparked” by something
  2.  I gave up on the notion of will power/motivation.

Let me clarify.

Motivation is real. I might read something, see something, do something that motivates me or others. But the idea that some people have motivation and others don’t? Complete crap.

And falling back on excuses like “I’m not motivated” really means, “I don’t believe I can do it.”

Motivation becomes an excuse for people to cite as the reason why they fail at achieving their goals. They’ll say things like, “Oh I just don’t have the motivation.”

A few days ago I posted a quote on the blog from Pinterest.

“It’s actually pretty simple. You either do it or you don’t.”

That philosophy is what real change is built on. Not motivation or will power. Just simply doing it and not stopping.

Motivation has its place, but like weight loss, it’s the result of action and not the other way around.

For example: I am motivated because I go to the gym every day, but I don’t go to the gym every day because I am motivated.

You see the difference?

It’s about doing. Not wishing, or hoping, or dreaming. And doing doesn’t have to mean go out and run a mile! Doing can be anything from writing about your goals in a journal to grocery shopping for healthy foods.

I didn’t wake up one day after a visit from the motivation fairy and suddenly say “I am going to lose 100 pounds.”

I built my current lifestyle from the ground up. I worked hard to make changes that have resulted in weight loss and I’ve stayed dedicated to my goals by writing and speaking about them often.

Don’t sell yourself short by blaming lack of action on lack of motivation. The power to change is within all of us.

Happy Friday 🙂

Learning hunger cues

As a (mostly) former binge and secret eater, I had to re-learn hunger cues big time. It took me a while to catch on to when my body was actually hungry versus bored, upset, stressed, tired, angry, sad or any of the other emotions I turned to food to solve.

At first the feeling of hunger was really uncomfortable. It was honestly a completely new sensation for me, but over time I learned to tell the difference between the beginning stages of hunger versus needing food STAT.

When I think back to my level of self awareness before I started paying attention to what and how much I was eating, I don’t think I ever really stopped to see if I was hungry before chowing down.

Now I try and wait until I am hungry to eat and I find my meals to be much more satisfying because I am giving my body something it actually needs as opposed to stuffing it with filler.

I don’t believe that all eating has to be purely for nourishment, however. I’m all for eating for fun, eating in celebration or just eating something because food tastes good. But as someone who is actively losing weight, learning and honoring my body’s hunger cues has been a huge success in my journey.

Also, when I think about eventually being in a place where I no longer want to lose weight, I imagine that knowing and relying on my hunger signs will be a huge part of maintenance.

So what do I do when I feel the urge to eat but am not really hungry? So glad you asked!

1. Chew gum. I would estimate that I probably go through about a pack of gum a week. My favorite right now is Trident, but I’m not super picky. I keep some in a drawer in my desk at all times to tide me over when I’m feeling the urge to chew something. I’m not sure if it’s just the act of chewing gum itself that is so satisfying, or something else, but having gum around has really helped me avoid snacking. It’s also a good excuse to turn down food that’s being offered to you.

2. Drink tea or water. On my desk at work I also keep a reusable water bottle and a big jar with lots of different tea bags. Having the items right in front of me and on hand at all times prompts me to drink water continuously throughout the day, which definitely helps keep me feeling full. And nursing a cup of hot tea is really comforting if I’m feeling stressed about a deadline at work, or just pausing to think. I remember when I used to write papers in college, I would keep a giant bag of Goldfish next to me and for some reason the constant hand to mouth motion kept me focus on my work. Now I play with paperclips or simply just hold on to the mug of tea to keep my hands occupied when I’m not typing. My brand of choice for tea currently is Celestial Seasonings herbal fruit tea sampler. All the different flavors are sweet and smell delicious.

3. Read, write, or do something creative. I find that when I’m engrossed in a creative project or enthralling story, I don’t think about hunger. When I’m really in the groove writing the last thing I want to do is break my stride for food. When i’m writing or reading, real hunger will make it impossible for me to concentrate, so I’ll know its time for a snack break. But if I’m not actually hungry, being engrossed in a project takes my mind off thinking about food. Next time you think you’re hungry, pick up a good book or turn to a news site you like, if the feeling of hunger is still nagging at you after 10 minutes, it’s probably time to eat.

Wednesday Weigh-in

Happy hump day!

It’s truly been a great week! I really focused on consistency and I think it paid off. Toward the end of 2011, I was getting into a bad pattern where I would have higher calorie days then try to “make up” for them with lower calorie days.

Totally blaming the holidays on that one.

But  it put me in a really bad routine where I was always either overeating or undereating and resulted in weeks of no weight loss. Not good. When 2012 rolled around I resolved to change that, and am happy to report I’ve been much more consistent, hovering just around my daily calorie goal. Woohoo! It feels so much healthier.

This week just felt good all around. I cooked a lot, which probably contributes to how I’m feeling right now. Cooking really makes me feel alive, especially when I’m using lots of veggies and fun spices. I also made it to the gym every day but Sunday and Monday. Sunday I needed a rest day, Monday I was lazy. Meh.

I’m really trying to embrace the truth that losing weight is 90 percent about what I’m eating and 10 percent everything else, including exercising. It’s really important that I don’t over compensate for my trips to the gym with food.

Next week I want to work on the same thing – consistency – but also keeping an eye on my salt intake…I’ve been a bit heavy handed with the shaker!

I thought a fun thing to do would be to look back at MyFitnessPal and see some of the foods I ate the most of this week. I honestly pretty much eat the same foods every week, but sometimes I vary it up a bit. I at least try to do different things with my groceries, even if  it is the same ingredients.

So this week (Wednesday to Wednesday) every day started with either oatmeal with a banana mixed in or banana oat pancakes.

Lunch was really varied. I’ve been taking the vegan broccoli quinoa I made over the weekend to work for lunch, but things like Greek yogurt, homemade hummus on a sandwich thin and salads have also made an appearance.

Dinners were all over the place as well. I had an egg white omelet with collared greens (my new obsession) one night, a Mexican inspired meal with veggies and black beans and a beet and goat cheese salad.

How did it all work out for me?

The numbers:

Starting weight: 243

Last week: 180.5

This week: 178.5

Change: -2

Total loss: 64.5

In other news, you may have noticed I changed my blog theme AND decided on a name.

Jodi, fat or not

I think it speaks to a lot of what this blog is about. Yes, it’s a weight loss blog, but this is who I am. These are my lifestyle changes that I’ve made, fat or not. When I started the blog, a little over a month ago, I didn’t really think a lot about the name, but I’m happy to be settled with one I love. I hope you like it too!

Couldn’t have said it better myself!