I get asked a lot what my motivation is for losing the 100(ish) pounds. I don’t really feel like I have a great answer. I just got tired, mentally and physically, of carting the weight around, of not being able to do basic physical activities, like walking from the parking deck at work to the front door without heavy breathing. Of being able to sleep face down because there was too much of me in the way. Of being able to touch my toes.

There was no flash of lightning, no one special moment, no big (pun intended) turning point. I just decided to finally get my act together and work on me. I signed up for a My Fitness Pal account, set a date a few days away, woke up that morning and took the first step on my weight loss journey (now a health journey). No fanfare, I didn’t tell a soul because I was afraid of not being able to do it on my own and didn’t want to admit defeat. Now, I’ll tell anybody who’ll listen.

As the weight came off, I got hooked on the whole process. Reaching that first big milestone into Onederland was probably the defining moment when I knew this could be for real. I have a picture of the scale saying “199” taped to my monitor. It was a wonderful and sad day – it was the anniversary of the day I lost my Mother. I thought I’d reach Onderland the day before, but the scale read 200.2lbs. The next day, 199 on the dot. It was like my Mom was there and giving me a message.

Whatever your reasons for losing weight are, you can do this. Don’t wait for the big jolt of motivation, it may not come. Do it because you want to and because you have the ability to make a better version of the incredible person you already are. Love yourself either way.

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Drink Your Water

H2O. Water. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water. It’s vital for our survival. Drinking enough water on a daily basis is hard to do. A lot of people don’t like the taste (flavored seltzer or adding flavoring to plain water can help). And a lot of people don’t have the time to spend running to the bathroom on an hourly basis – although it is a good way to get your steps in. In this current hot weather, drinking water is even more important.

There’s no one answer as to how much we need to drink. The old and still used rule is eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day. It’s still a good one since it’s attainable for most people.  Others, and the one I use, is half your body weight in ounces, although I go over it.  I aim for twelve 8 oz cups or 96 ounces. Minimum.

When I get up I drink 1-2 cups. If I’m not going to the gym, two, if I’m on my way to a “butt crack of dawn” class (TM instructor ARH) then one and coffee, because hey, coffee is life. I don’t want to be sloshing around while I’m attempting to jump up and down, or do a burpee. It’s not pretty.

I own a lot of water bottles, I do better with marked ones so I can track how much I drink. I have one in my bedroom, one in my loft, a work one and one in my gym bag. When I’m at the gym, I have to finish the full 32 oz. bottle. If it’s not a particularly sweaty class, then I sometimes find myself sitting in my driveway finishing it down, since I won’t let myself go inside until I do. I work 8AM-5PM. I find I can knock back 32 oz. before lunch and a minimum of 16 oz. before I leave for the day. I was feeling adventurous today and chugged down the 16 oz. I had left in the bottle, then prayed there was no major traffic on I-40. I got lucky.

I take some vitamins before dinner. Sixteen ounces goes with those. In between these that I do every day, I’ll drink a cup here and there. It makes it much easier to do and it adds up. A little creativity goes a long way.

On my way downstairs to make dinner and get cups 17 and 18 in.

Go drink some water.

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Carb Fest

I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It’s a hormonal disorder, it has many symptoms, not every women has all of them. One of the biggies for me is weight gain, it’s extremely easy to gain weight and harder than normal to lose it. One of the dietary recommendations is to limit simple carbs, (aka all the ones I really want, bagels, ice cream etc). There’s a higher risk of becoming insulin resistant and diabetic and I’m not planning on either of those. So, my eating habits these past few years on this weight loss journey have been to eat lowER carbs, not necessarily a low carb diet. The average default diet set by My Fitness Pal has 50% carbs. Mine is currently at 30%.

I eat carbs, but try to make most of them vegetables, fruit, yogurts and avoid those listed above. Ice cream is a real trigger food for me, I cannot have it in the house. A 1.5L carton of Edy’s Slow Churned Chocolate Chip is gone in two days (and that’s with me using some self-control). I recently went to New York City. I’m a NYer living elsewhere. I miss the food. Pizza really is better there. When I do go to NYC, I have those foods I limit here. I discussed my plans with my dietitian, she got full disclosure and I got her blessing. It was barely 48 hours and I go once or twice a year. I weighed myself before leaving, and upon my return, was three pounds higher. I thought it would be more. Each gram of carbs uses 3-4 grams of water to store it. It can take a while to have this extra weight settle and leave the body. So, I promised her I wouldn’t whine about the weight and I didn’t, I went back to my usual eating habits, drank some extra water and in three days, I was the exact same weight as I was on my way to the airport. And the day after, another half-pound was gone. I had a great time in NYC, ate a lot of yummy foods and enjoyed myself. For me it was a great lesson about how my body works and how moderation is the key. Going without bagels, pizza and cookies for the rest of my life is simply not an option. I know I can’t do it every day, but I can do it. And enjoy it.

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Food Logging

I’m a fan. I’ve been logging my food daily on My Fitness Pal since January 2, 2013. In the beginning it helped me see –

  • how the calories added up (and how quickly)
  • how my idea of a serving size compared to the real world (nowhere near close)
  • how the amount of soda I drank was at, or over, half the calories I was allotted by MFP
  • how little water I drank (and by little, I mean none really)
  • how little vegetables I consumed (and I actually love veggies, don’t know why I wasn’t eating them)
  • how high my processed sugar intake was (that number would have killed my dentist)
  • how little fiber I consumed (enough fiber makes the world a brighter, happier place)
  • how poor my food choices were and how by some miracle,  I was only 248 lbs.

Food logging can be annoying. It takes time, especially in the beginning. Trying to eat foods where you can’t find the numbers is stressful. Trying not to look at the numbers as you log 5 half-cup servings of ice cream (who in their right mind thought up one half-cup of ice cream as a serving? Even now, my brain won’t let me accept less than three). Realizing that a lot of the foods you ate on a regular basis are so high in sodium, it’s amazing you’re not a beef jerky.

It takes time to embrace logging. Now, I can’t see stopping any time soon. I pre-log my food for the day, either that morning or the night before. This lets me use it as a guide or a menu to follow. It’s much easier for me, instead of logging as I go along and finding out I have 30 calories left for dinner. It’s easy to tweak if I do make a change, but having that template to follow takes the stress out of it and allows me to enjoy my food. I’m also now at the point where trying to pre-log and hit my macros (protein/fat/carb) numbers is a game.  I get a weird satisfaction out of hitting the numbers or getting really close. My dietitian calls me a “Ninja Food Logger” and I love that.

MFP makes it easy to do online, or on your phone or tablet with it’s app. So do a lot of other programs. Some people stick with pen and paper and write theirs out, which is another great idea. MFP has a barcode scanner on it’s app, so you can log that way without manually adding in the numbers, or you can use it while food shopping if the nutritional info isn’t on the label, and see if what you’re holding in your hand is worth it to you. I think of my calories as money, I have a certain amount to spend every day, if I don’t spend it, I lose it. I want to get the best value for my money. Three hundred calories may be fine for a food I like, but not worth it to me for something I don’t really care as much about.

Food logging, however, is not for everyone. If it’s going to stress you too much, it can cause you to spiral in the other direction. Or if you have a history of an eating disorder, studies have shown it can exacerbate that condition or interfere with the recovery process. For those who can, it’s recommended doing it, even for just a few weeks, to see what you’re eating, how much, and how you can make successful changes to improve your diet and your overall health.

It’s a great tool when used correctly.

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My Fitness Pal

On December 29, 2012, I started a My Fitness Pal account (user name kar328 in case anyone wants to be friends there). I heard about it from an online friend, I’d been reading her wonderful blog and we were emailing since her previous medical doctor was someone at a spa/resort in Arizona I went to a few times. I’d never heard of MFP, and signed up on that day. I waited until January 2nd 2013 to start my “weight loss journey” as it’s commonly called.

MFP is responsible for my being successful this time around. I was nervous, I’d tried losing weight on my own more times than I could remember and never stuck with it. I was a member of a national weight loss chain back in my 20s, lost 51 lbs, but didn’t learn how to keep it off and gained it all back, plus quite a bit more. I didn’t think this would work on my own. Every day I’m grateful I took that chance.

MFP is a fantastic site. You make an account and to set up your profile, you add in your weight, height, how fast you want to lose and it gives you your calorie count and macros (protein/fat/carb).  and start logging your food. There are thousands and thousands of food listings in their database, including restaurants and fast food chains. The more you log, the larger your “add food” section becomes, and then involves just checking a box. You can make a recipe, add in all the ingredients, name it and then just click on the box. There is space to record your measurements, weights and exercise/workouts. You can see all this information on graphs. My dietitian says I love data and she’s not kidding.

Your profile has a wall, where you can make status updates and add friends. Most of my friends are ones I found in the community forums, people who have never met me, but will congratulate me on losing 0.2 lbs, or doing a 5K and not needing medical attention. MFP says that it’s been shown that people who have friends, will lose more weight. I love seeing their progress. Their support is immeasurable. It’s such a difference there compared to posting something on my Facebook page and having people tell me I post too many food pics (yes, really) or motivational quotes. They just don’t get it.

I give most of my weight loss credit to the information readily available on the site. The community forums have sections on losing weight, exercising, recipes and more. There are countless links to read articles and learn. The people on these forums are just like me, wanting to be a healthier version of myself. Along this journey (today 7/8/18 is day 2018 of my logging in) I learned so much about food, about nutrients, about how the body works and what I can do to make it healthy. I learned how to eat, but also enjoy myself. I learned how to make these changes and think of this as a lifestyle, not a diet. These habits are now a part of my life and something I can and will, keep doing in order to make the best version of me possible.

Thank you My Fitness Pal (and Kristi). 

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