Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Finally, I have broken through my plateau! whew! I stepped on the scale this morning and I weighed 193. Dealing with the plateau was a frustrating experience, but I'm ecstatic that I broke through it - finally. I hope I never see the number 196 on the scale again.

I don't know if it was because of the steps I took, or if it was just time for me to lose it, but here is what I did:
  1. I did what I said I would do in my last post. I measured myself a cup of cheerios for my "cheerios snack" for the day 
  2. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I started to be more vigilant about ensuring I get my morning exercise. I actually felt well enough to go to my water aerobics class on Monday morning and this morning, and I did a Wii Fit workout yesterday morning. The Wii Fit is not a huge calorie burner, but it does get me moving and burns an extra hundred or so calories first thing in the morning.
  3. I also added two small things that I think helped / will help as I continue.  I have found that small things can really add up. Just like the small handfuls of Cheerios were adding up (or at least contributing) to my plateau - small things like taking the stairs when the opportunity presents itself or going for a small walk at lunch or on break can add up to make a big difference. So I added these two things: First, I work on a college campus that is built on a hill. There is a steep staircase that goes up the side of the hill for the students who live across the street to use. I added a lap down and up that staircase to my lunch walk (which is a little over a mile - the stairs adds about 5 minutes to my 20 - 25 minute walk). Second, my water aerobics class uses several pieces of exercise equipment to create resistance and help with our workout - one of these  pieces of equipment is a velcro strap with fins around it that we can strap around our ankles. There aren't many people in my class who use them, and I didn't even notice them until a couple of weeks ago - but today I added them - I put on the ankle fins and they really created quite a bit of resistance and helped me to get a more intense workout. 
So there it is, hopefully, these things will be effective for a while. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I have hit the worst plateau since I started losing weight. I have been hovering around 195 for two weeks (the lowest I have been is 194 and the highest is 197 - weighing in most mornings at 195 or 196). It has been incredibly frustrating.  The scale nearly paid the ultimate price this morning, I gave it a swift kick when it delivered the news - stuck at 196.3. Gah! But ultimately, I decided not to kill the messenger and to instead review my records to try to determine where the problem lies.

I found two things that I will be changing over the next couple of weeks. First, I have been fighting with a sore throat and sinus issues, so I have been skipping several of my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning water aerobics classes. Now, I am not going to overdo it if I am really sick, that would be counter productive and swimming / doing water aerobics with a sinus problem would probably be a bad idea. That said, I am starting to feel better and I think that until my sinus issue is completely resolved, I will start to wake up in the morning and do something - either my Wii Zumba or I'll go to the gym and do the elliptical for half an hour or so. I quite prefer my Water Aerobics, but I cannot get out of the habit of morning exercise - and I've been letting it slide over the past couple of weeks because I haven't felt 100%. That will stop starting tomorrow morning.

The second problem I noticed is that I have been snacking more than usual. This is a really bad habit waiting to happen, and I need to stop it before it gets way worse and I start to actually gain weight - so far I've been maintaining, but this is a good way to backslide. Now, having snacks throughout the day is a good thing. Unfortunately, my snacking has devolved into grazing over the past month or so - I have been allowing for it in my calorie count - but I am pretty sure I have been underestimating it. I have developed a bad habit of grabbing a handful of Cheerios (which are fairly low in calories - but even so - several handfuls a day will add up to trouble.) I will get hungry and for whatever reason Cheerios feel substantial to and will satisfy a craving. So, I am going to address this problem in two ways: (1) I will allow myself a cup of Cheerios as a snack each day (I can divide this up into 2 small snacks - this is about 100 calories total) but no more than a cup - and I will measure it out - no more grabbing a handful at a time. and (2) I will make sure that I have a mid-afternoon snack of fruit or veggies - this will help so that I am not so incredibly hungry right before dinner (which is when I am most prone to this grazing behavior).  This starts today, my husband and I went shopping today and made sure to buy a lot of snack-friendly fruit and vegetables.

Finally, this experience is another good example of why it has been so essential for me to have a partner in my efforts and a support system. My husband and I are losing weight together, and he pointed out that he had a similar issue (at the same weight, nonetheless) and that he realized that he had added a particular snack to his diet - he took it out and broke through the plateau. He also noticed my grazing and pointed out that I may be eating more than I realized. He also encouraged me (as did my sisters when I went to them to express my frustration) - and pointed out how far I have come - both in how I look and - more importantly - in how I am feeling. This is all really important, and has been incredibly helpful for me.

I'll see if these changes help. If not - I'll have to revisit my records again in a couple of weeks and see if there is something else I may need to adjust.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perspective Part II

The second news story that caught my attention recently is about a new study released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) . The study challenges conventional wisdom that eating 3,500 fewer calories — or burning them off exercising — will always result in a pound of weight loss. The researchers’ computer simulations indicate that this assumption (3,500 calories = a pound) overestimates weight loss because it fails to account for how metabolism changes. 

At first glance, this may seem very discouraging, particularly to someone who has been faithfully counting calories for quite some time in an effort to lose weight. However, this does not really change anything. I have talked before about how I have had to adjust my exercise and my intake several times over the course of my weight loss - this study just affirms that to be the case. I still watch my calories because whether or not the 3500 calorie formula is correct, watching my calories helps me to keep my eating in check and ensure that I get enough exercise. It also helps me to monitor my body's patterns, and know where I may need to make any adjustments. What I have been doing has worked very well to this point, so I'm going to keep plugging along doing what I have been doing. 

The study is quite interesting though, and there is a simulator on the website that helps to predict weight loss taking into consideration metabolism changes. It is fun to play with - but bear in mind that it does not take into consideration what is a healthy number of calories to eat each day - all it does it predict weight loss based on metabolism changes and physical activity. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Perspective Part I

I have been paying a lot of attention to health news since I started losing weight. I think it is important to keep up with the latest news and research related to weight loss and to be as informed as I can be about how to stay healthy and keep my weight down. That said, I always read information I find on the internet and stories about "new research" or "new studies" with a bit of skepticism. The internet is a wonderful thing because it is a great source of information, but it is so incredibly saturated with information, particularly about weight loss, that it becomes difficult to filter the good information from the bad and it would be very easy to become discouraged in the face of some of it. So, skepticism is a healthy thing.  First of all, I pay attention to my gut reaction to information I find - if it sounds wild, it's probably either completely wrong or wildly inaccurate; if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even information and studies that are from reputable sources and are probably accurate need a little perspective at times to keep me sane and on track.

Two studies in particular have caught my attention over the past few months. One came out at the beginning of the year, and the other was released recently.

The first study, featured in a New York Times article called "The Fat Trap," examined a very common problem among people who lose weight, the tendency to gain it all back again. The New York Times article highlighted the study's findings which were basically that people who lose weight are biologically predisposed to regain that weight even a year after they have lost it. Okay, so this freaked me out a little when I read it. At first glance, what I took from this was that despite all of my efforts and hard work, my body will work against me and I will be right back where I started, or worse, within a couple of years - great. There are two things that helped me peel myself down off the wall: first, I looked more closely and with more skepticism at the article, and second, I realized that it really is up to me and if my body wants to gain weight - that's too bad because I do have the ability to control it.

When I looked more closely at the particulars of the study featured in the Times article, I realized that the study was done on a very small sample size which started at 50 people and was ultimately 34. Okay, I was feeling better. Then, the people who took part in this study were on Optifast shakes and a very low calorie diet for eight weeks, ten weeks in - the participants stopped dieting. This is very different from what I am doing. I started on a medically supervised diet that did include shakes, entrees, and a very low calorie diet for the first 12 weeks. However, I also made some substantial lifestyle changes and have stuck with them now for about 8 months and I have gradually phased in "normal" food and figured out how to work that into a reasonable diet (meaning what I will eat forever, not what I am doing temporarily to lose weight). So, okay, that made me feel even better yet. 

The article went on to talk about how most people who lose weight gain it all back and many gain it all back and some, and that there is not a difference between slow weight loss and rapid weight loss (d'oh!). People who keep off the weight, the article quotes an expert as saying, tend to be incredibly vigilant and track every calorie. Okay. I will admit that the prospect of gaining my weight back terrifies me - but I have had to be vigilant to take it off, and I have always expected that I will have to be vigilant to keep it off. This brings me to my second point of perspective about this article - ultimately, neither the article nor the studies change my ability to  keep my weight off - realizing that, I think, was the most useful thing that I could do. Sure this article points to some daunting statistics and studies, but there are plenty of people who do this every day. What I am doing is working very well for me, and the statistics do not change what I am doing, the only one who can do that is me.  Anyone who knows me well will tell you that the best way to get me to succeed at something is to tell me that I can't. So, I would like to thank the expert from Yale who is quoted in the article as saying, in response to the registry of 10,000 people who have kept weight off, that "All it means is that there are rare individuals who do manage to keep it off," and all of the other experts who say similarly that I can't keep the weight off (or that the odds are against it)...because now I'll do it just purely out of spite. Okay, well not out of spite, there are a million reasons why I'll do it - but I'll add spite to the list. 

Since this entry is turning into a dissertation - I'll talk about the second study in my post tomorrow. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The "Secrets" Part II

 Here is the conclusion of the post I started yesterday.

(3) Determining the calories in Food I eat. This is something that has gotten easier the more I've done it.  I eat quite a few of the same things over and over - so I can ballpark calories fairly easily at this point. There are several online resources to help determine calories: My Fitness Pal is the one I use - it has a large database and is really useful for both looking up calories and for tracking them (I'll talk about that in #5). There are several others at well: Calorie CountFat SecretWebMD Food-O-Meter... It is also helpful to know some basic rules of thumb when you are eating out.  For example (and this is probably obvious) Fruits and especially vegetables are very low calorie and it is pretty much safe to eat as much as you want when you are out. Salad dressings (INCLUDING vinaigrette, because it contains oil) are often fairly high in calories - generally around 75 calories per Tbsp - and a Tablespoon is not a lot of dressing, the small condiment cups you often see usually hold at least 3 or 4 tablespoons - this is why you should get your dressing on the side - then you can control how much you use. ONE ounce of cheese is 100 calories (one ounce is the size of the tip of your finger). Here are some more rules of thumb:
    • 5 Calories:  1oz. Lemon, Tomato
    • Most Fruits and Veggies are between 10 and 40 calories. Generally, the more water a fruit or vegetable contains, the lower the calorie content (ex: Melons and Lettuce are 10 calories / oz. - on the other end of the spectrum, Broccoli is 40 calories / oz, Corn and Potatoes are much higher in calories than most vegetables at 135 calories / oz.)
    • 25 Calories: 1 oz. White Fish (tilapia, for example)
    • 45 Calories: 1 oz. Avocado  
    • 50 Calories: 1 oz. Dark fish (ex. Salmon), chicken (dark meat is a little more), 1 Tbsp of Sugar, Jelly, Cream Cheese, Cream Sauce, Gravy
    • 65 Calories:  1 oz. Onions
    • 70 Calories: 1 oz. Whole Wheat Bread 
    • 75 Calories: 1 oz. Lean red meat, 1 Tbsp. Salad Dressing
    • 85 Calories: 1 oz. Dried Fruit
    • 100 Calories: 1 oz. Red meat, cheese, Winter squash, Muffins, 1 Tbsp. Butter, Margarine, Mayonnaise, Peanut butter, Heavy Cream
    • 125 Calories: 1 oz. Fatty meat (sausage, prime rib...), Cakes, Pastries, 1 Tbsp. Oil
    • 150 Calories: 1 oz. Potato Chips, Chocolate, Pie Crust, cookies, crackers
    • 175 Calories: 1 oz. Nuts
    • Alcohol: The higher the alcohol content, the more calories. (Ex: Blue Moon Wheat Ale is about 15 calories/oz, whereas Vodka and Whiskey are about 65 Calories / oz. and Liqueurs are about 100 calories / oz.)
If I'm not certain how many calories are in something, I use what I know to make my best guess, and I will overestimate if there is any doubt.
    (4) Determine and track exercise. To accurately track my calorie intake, I need to track how much exercise I am getting and how many calories I burn with this exercise. This differs depending upon weight. I burn fewer calories per minute as I lose weight. I burned way more calories / minute walking when I started my weight loss 93 pounds ago than I do now, for example. There are several websites that will help you do this (see, for example most of the websites I listed in #3) and here. I assume that if I am doing medium intensity exercise (I can carry on a conversation with no trouble at all) - I am burning about 5-7 calories / minute, If I am out of breath and cannot carry on a conversation  - I am burning between 10 and 12 calories / minute. If I'm not sure, I always underestimate with exercise. 

    (5) Write Down (Track) Everything: I have said it before - but I will reiterate here: It is very important to track what you do. Write everything down or track everything on a computer app. This way you can see your patterns and it will help you to see where you may need to adjust something. Also, it keeps you accountable for what you are eating and how much you are exercising. 

    Again, not everyone is the same. I have found these guidelines to be very useful, but you will need to find the healthy balance that works for you, and you will probably have to adjust as you lose weight. I have had to adjust quite a few times.

    One side note:  The National Institutes of Health recently released some research about weight loss - I'll talk about that in a later blog entry - but if you would like to read about it, you can find it here.  

      Monday, February 20, 2012

      The "Secrets" Part I

      There are several questions I had to answer when I started to lose weight in order to be successful. (1) What is a healthy weight for me? (2) How many calories should I consume every day? (3) How much do I need to exercise?

      The answers to these questions can be difficult to find, because there are so many different diets and so much varying information out there.  I was involved in a program and they gave us information to help us determine things like what a healthy weight is and how many calories we should be netting given our weight goals, I have put some of that information together with what I have learned. Again, these are general formulas and information - everyone is different, and you should talk to your doctor before embarking upon any weight loss program. That said, here is the information I used to determine the weight for which I should aim and the calorie intake / exercise that would be required to get there, it may be a useful start:
      1. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. A healthy / normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, 25.0 to 29.9 is considered to be overweight, and 30.0 and above is considered to be obese. The BMI does have its limitations. For example, it may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.  To be honest, I was mortified to see just how low my weight would have to drop to be in the normal range, but it provided a good guide by which to set my goal. It can be depressing, I have lost 93 pounds and I am still in the "obese" range - but I am rapidly approaching "overweight" (I never thought reaching the "overweight" milestone would be cause for celebration...but it will be). Here is a link to a BMI calculator. It is important to note that BMI is not the only indicator of health, other things - like waist circumference - are indicators as well - but like I said, BMI is a good starting point from which to set a weight goal. 
      2. Determining Net Calorie Intake: Once I determined my goal weight, the next step was to determine how many calories I needed to net each day {Net Calories = Calories in (food) - Calories out (exercise) }.  
        • The formula I was given to make this determination was this: Women take goal weight and multiply it by 10. Thus, my goal weight is 135 - so I should net 1350 calories / day. If I do this, I should lose weight until I arrive at my goal weight. To maintain my goal weight - I need to continue to net 1350 calories / day. If I get to my goal weight and find that 1350 is impossible to maintain, I'll maintain a higher weight, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now, I am netting 1200 calories / day and I am losing pretty consistently. 
        • For men, the formula is goal weight multiplied by 11.  These are the formulas I was given and they seem to be working for both me and for my husband.
        • There are other formulas that you can find online and you will get similar results like this Calorie Calculator.  
      It is important to make sure you eat enough calories, I am eating at least 1200 calories / day right now (and I net between 550 and 1200/day after exercise), and I wouldn't go much further down. Also, I have been told that netting under 200 calories / day is actually very bad for you. (i.e. either eating less than 200 calories / day or burning more exercising than you take in - burning 1300 in exercise after eating 1200 may seem like a great idea, but can actually be harmful).
      I have broken this into 2 posts because there is a lot of information to absorb here - so check back tomorrow for the second half of this post :-) 

      Thursday, February 16, 2012

      P.M.S. - My Body's Other Cruel Cycle

      Yes, that's right - I'm going to talk about that time of the month, because - for women - it can really tend to throw a monkey wrench into weight loss efforts if you don't understand the weight implications. It has been a bit challenging for me to deal with this over the course of my weight loss, though I have heard of women who have had much more difficulty than I have. Quite frankly, it sucks to be trying to lose weight during your time of the month because of the weight gain associated with it. Not only do I gain weight as a matter of course during P.M.S., but I crave salt, which makes me retain more water, and I take Ibuprofen for my cramps, which can also make me retain water.

      After my first frustrating step onto the scale during my period and after reading up on this issue, I decided to take the advice of those who have been doing this far longer than me, it is best not to even step onto the scale during that particular span of the month. I usually don't gain a lot of weight - maybe a pound or two -  but I certainly do not lose it either. I have heard of women gaining up to seven pounds - so it is just way too frustrating and discouraging to step onto the scale at all. Add to that the general crappy feeling and the fussiness I experience (okay, so "fussy" may be understating it a bit)...and stepping onto the scale could be a disaster in the making.

      That said, I still stick to my lifestyle changes. I exercise every day - if I don't feel up to going to the gym or doing Zumba, I'll go for a nice walk. Walking, particularly during this time, helps my mood immensely, and it gets me moving. I avoid caffeine and sodium (though I crave olives like crazy) and I eat fruit, which seems to help a little bit with my cravings for sweets (though it doesn't quite quell them). That said, I will allow myself some Kalamata Olives (I generally eat these with hummus and veggies on a pita) to help with my salt cravings and I allow myself a bit of chocolate to deal with my sweet cravings (weight watchers makes really good ice cream treats - but they are not THAT low in calories, so I have to watch it, just one ice cream bar AND chocolate contains caffeine, so there is that). Also, since I have been eating more healthily, my PMS symptoms are not as severe as they used to be. They have not, by any stretch of the imagination, gone away, but there is some improvement.

      This is what I do, but I think that everyone is a little different. For some more information on this particular issue, here are some websites. I will warn you that when you do research on this, you will come up with differing information - like I said, everyone is different, and ultimately you have to find what works for you:
      The PMS-free Diet
      Eat to Beat PMS
      Food, Mood, and PMS
      Prevent PMS from Destroying Your Diet
      Is PMS Sabotaging Your Diet?

      Wednesday, February 15, 2012

      My Body's Cruel Weight Loss Cycle

      According to the scale this morning, I gained a pound. Blah! Terrible way to start the day. Honestly, it's a bummer and I'm not going to act like it doesn't bother me at all. But I will say that it is just a blip, and I'm not going to freak out about it. I used to though, it was very discouraging to do everything "right" and then not only hit a plateau, but to break that plateau by GAINING weight. I mentioned this in a post a week or so ago; I gain weight from time to time and this is part of a pattern I have noticed. It is part of my body's weight loss cycle. I will lose a bunch of weight really quickly (like 3-5 pounds in a matter of a couple of days), then I will plateau for a few days, gain a pound or two and then lose a bunch of weight again. So, the uptick in weight this morning was due.

      Here is an example of how it generally works: Last week, Monday, I gained a pound after having hit a plateau and not losing any weight for just under a week. On Thursday I was down four pounds, I have been holding steady at that weight for several days, and today I was up a pound. I'll probably be down around 3 pounds or so by Saturday or Sunday. That is how it goes. I know that I have been doing everything right, I haven't changed anything, and there aren't any other factors I can think of that would account for my weight gain. Therefore, I am not going to worry about this unless this pound sticks for a while. If it does, I'll look more closely at my records and try to figure out where I need to make some changes.  Everyone is different, and you may not have the same pattern of weight loss that I do, but you should pay attention to how your body acts, because it will help you to understand how you lose weight - and, at least for me, that helps to avoid feeling discouraged.

      Friday, February 10, 2012


      I have had an incredibly stressful week. Yesterday it all came to a head. I wanted to go home and stuff myself full of comfort food - be it chocolate or cheese or sweets or salty deliciousness. Apparently, I used to eat when I was stressed (which may partly explain my weight gain in law school).  Last night I had to find something else to do to deal with my stress other than to eat, and I did. My husband and I went and watched his brothers play soccer. It was a good game, beautiful weather, and it totally took my mind off my awful week. When I got home, I felt refreshed, I no longer wanted to eat, and I felt like I could handle the stress that had piled up over the course of the last few days. I got a good night's rest and I feel great today. And as an added bonus, I'm happy that I stuck to it and I learned a different approach to dealing with stress - one that does not involve food.

      Monday, February 6, 2012

      Keeping Good Records

      One habit that was very difficult for me to develop is to keep detailed records of what I eat and how much exercise I am doing.  Before I lost weight, this was something I was always hearing - that I needed to write down everything that I ate. I never did. I mean, come on, I can remember what I ate today. I thought I just needed to watch it. I was wrong.

      Now, I write down everything that I eat, when I eat it and I track the calories (and I am honest about it, if I under-count calories to make myself feel better, my body will know and eventually, it will let me know). I also track my exercise - what I do, for how long, and how many calories I am burning (again, I am careful to do this honestly), and how much water I am drinking. There are any number of online calorie counters and calorie counting apps to help with this. I use

      Keeping records helps to lose / maintain weight in several different ways:
      1. It keeps me accountable for what I eat. I may think I am having a low-calorie day, but if I'm not, my records will tell me I'm not and I can adjust accordingly. 
      2. It helps me to figure out what is going wrong if I stop losing weight, or if I gain weight.  In cases where I stop losing weight or where I gain a pound or two - which happens from time to time - I can look at my records to see what happened. For example, I stepped on the scale this morning and was up a pound (which happens, used to freak me out, doesn't anymore) - when I look at my records I can see that I had a lot of salty food this weekend and, though I got some pretty good exercise, I did not get as much as I usually do on the weekend. So, there it is. The pound will come off, and some - it's part of a pattern - but I'll discuss that in a later post. 
      3. It provides me with information about the best way to lose and keep losing. I can also look at my records if I have a good week to see what I did right. 
      4. It helps me to make sure I am eating enough. This may sound odd, but I also need to make sure that I am eating enough every day. If I don't eat enough, my body will think it is starving and I won't lose weight (among other potentially serious complications).  I need to eat at least 1200 calories a day and / or I need to make sure that I am eating at least 200 calories more than I exercise (I need to net at least 200 calories).  Honestly, when I started my diet and I was medically supervised and eating less than 1200 calories a day... just doing shakes I really had to watch the 200 calorie thing - now, I don't have to worry about it too much - but it is something to keep in mind. (note that  for the 12 weeks that I was taking in fewer than 1200 calories a day I was medically supervised, I don't know off the top of my head what the research says, but personally, I don't think it is healthy to eat less than 1200 calories / day).  
      5. It helps me to make sure that I am eating enough fruits and vegetables. I need at least 5 servings of these a day. This can be a challenge on busy days, so record keeping helps to keep me on track here. 
      6. It helps me to remind myself to drink water. Not everyone tracks how much water they drink, but I have to. The most difficult thing I've had to learn is to drink enough water. I am not a water drinker. I hate it. But, water really helps in weight loss and with health in general - so I have to get my water every day. I still have trouble with this more than anything else - but keeping records and tracking my water helps.

      Saturday, February 4, 2012

      Pizza and The Problem with "Deprivation"

      I had pizza last night. I love pizza, used to eat it on a fairly regular basis - at least once every couple of weeks. Before this latest weight loss attempt, I viewed dieting through the lens of depravation and sacrifice. I thought that to diet successfully, I would have to deprive myself of some of my favorite foods and sacrifice some of my leisure time to exercise.  I have found that is not the case at all, and it is a very unhelpful way in which to look at health and weight loss / maintenance.  My experience after eating pizza for the first time in quite a while provides an example.  A short time after I finished my second piece of fabulous, cheesy, yummy pizza last night, I started to feel tired, and lazy, I really just did not feel like doing anything at all...I felt lousy - and this was after just two pieces of pieces of pizza.  So, here is my point - I actually deprived myself of the energy that I usually have, and I sacrificed an active, fun evening so that I could enjoy a couple pieces of pizza (and I really did enjoy them) for a few minutes out of my day.  The cost of those few minutes was an evening of feeling sluggish and crappy.

      Pizza will never again be a regular part of my diet, particularly given how I felt after I ate it last night, but honestly, I will have it on occasion. This is the case with quite a few of my favorite foods.  However my choosing not to eat these foods whenever I feel like it, or even as a regular "treat" is not really an exercise in temporary deprivation to lose weight.  I am actually making a simple choice - I am choosing not to eat them so that I can enjoy other aspects of my life and, quite frankly, so that I can enjoy a longer life. It is really difficult to express just how much better it feels to eat and live a healthy lifestyle - I have tried to highlight some of these benefits in my "Nothing Tastes Better: Benefits of Weight Loss" posts.

      Sure, I could have taken a pill to lower my cholesterol, another to deal with my migraines, eventually, I could have taken medication to deal with the diabetes that was probably inevitable and I could have taken medications to deal with all of the other aches, pains, and complications that were to come with my unhealthy lifestyle and excessive weight. I could have done all of this so that I wouldn't have to "deprive" myself of the fabulous food I so enjoy, and so that I could spend my free time watching movies on the couch.  I would have to deal with the side effects of the medication but hey, I could enjoy my food, right? Of course, I would have been depriving myself of the wonderful energy I have now, I would have been depriving myself of the great, fun, active weekends I have with my husband now, the comfort of traveling, and the renewed confidence I have. Most importantly, I likely would have been depriving myself of not only quality of life but years of life. So, not eating my favorite, unhealthy food is not really depriving myself of that food so much as it is a decision not to deprive myself of the far better things that come with a healthy diet. And making time to exercise is not so much sacrificing my time as it is investing my time in the benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle. Oh, and I have come to the point where I quite enjoy a lot of the activities I do to get exercise, so there is that benefit too.

      I was a couch potato in San Diego! That is crazy. Anyone who has been to the beautiful city in which I live can see the insanity in that decision. So, I'm done depriving myself of all of the fun and beautiful activities that this city has to offer, feels great!

      Thursday, February 2, 2012

      Nothing Tastes As Good: Benefit #4: The Beautiful Numbers

      One of the biggest reasons I decided that I really needed to get serious about losing weight was that my cholesterol was really high, so high that my doctor suggested putting me on cholesterol medication on more than one occasion. I wanted none of that in my mid-thirties (yes, I'm sticking with mid-thirties, I have not yet come to terms with the fact that 38 is probably more like late-thirties...). When I started my weight loss about seven months ago, not only was my cholesterol high, my triglycerides were high and my blood sugar was nearing pre-diabetic levels.

      I just had my labs done today - my total cholesterol is down 93 points (or whatever the proper measurement is...I don't know so I'm calling it "points") and it is now within the normal range, my "bad"  cholesterol (LDL) is way down and also within the normal range, my triglycerides are down and well within the normal range, and my blood sugar is now well within normal levels.  So - happily - the bottom line is no medication any time soon. And that means no medication side effects any time soon. Whew!

      Wednesday, February 1, 2012

      The Little Things Add Up: Walking

      I've found that little things can add up and make a big difference not only for weight loss, but also for overall physical and emotional health - I've blogged about it a bit already. Here is another example: I work at a university, and it is nearly impossible to find parking near my office after about 7:45am during the spring and fall semesters. This means that if I have a meeting in the morning and do not get to work until after 9 or 10am, I have to park in the west parking structure, which is across the campus from my office. I hate parking all the way across campus because it takes me forever to get into work and I usually have three tons of work to get done. That said, now when I have to park across campus, I make the best of it. Instead of taking the campus shuttle, I walk across campus to my office. It takes probably five minutes longer at most because the shuttle takes several minutes to arrive and then makes several stops along the way to mine. Skipping the shuttle provides me with an opportunity to fit an extra 30 minutes of walking into my day (15 minutes each way - the first half of which is mostly uphill) and it gives me a few minutes of peace before I enter into the potential chaos of my work day.  In the end my having to do this walk is a great way to start my day. I'm less stressed and a little more clear-headed when I get into the office and I've gotten a little exercise in.