Sunday, January 16, 2011

Reflections on Week 1

Weigh In:  Start - 293  Today - 281
Weight Loss to date: 12 pounds

Wow 12 pounds!  I've lost 12 pounds this week, I'm pretty proud of that.  Now before everyone thinks I'm advocating quick weight loss, let me just explain that for me, 12 pounds isn't that big of a deal for the first week.  First, I'm tall at 5'10", and you can't even tell I've lost the 12 pounds.  Secondly, most of it is water weight.  I'm finally fitting in the right amount of water each day, so I'm properly hydrated so my body isn't retaining a lot of fluid.  Thirdly, I made a pretty drastic change to my diet by cutting out fast food.  Finally, I have a pretty high starting weight as you can see above, which means the amount of calories I require to maintain 293 pounds is pretty high...well over 2000, and I cut my calories to around 1500-1800 a day.

Now, how did I do with my Week 1 challenges?

No Fast Food
I did really well with this, though I had to really fight the urge to get a cheeseburger this past Tuesday.  I fought the urge and won, so I'm pretty proud of that.  I have also found I really enjoy bringing my lunch from home.  I don't feel miserable after I eat a meal from home like I did with fast food.  One thing I need to make sure I can do is create an environment where I can't find an excuse to run out for a burger for lunch.  To do this, I am keeping Lean Cuisine meals in the freezer, and a couple of non-refridgerated options in my desk drawer at work. 

I have really struggled with this one.  At first I was just writing everything down at the end of the day...bad idea.  I would invariably forget things, or I would have to estimate the amounts.  As a result, my journal was grossly inaccurate.  I am now weighing food and writing it down either while I am cooking, or before I sit down to eat.

Wow.  Who would have ever thought, drinking water would be this hard?  Not me.  I am having a hard time getting the water in, but I'm doing it.  I have found that drinking a juice glass of water at least every hour.  This is especially helpful at work.  If I drink a juice glass of water per hour every hour I am at work, by the end of the day I've gotten all my water in. 

While I won't be running a marathon anytime soon, I am getting some exercise in everyday.  Lately, I have managed 10 minutes on the treadmill and 3 minutes on the ab circle.  Today my husband and I took our son to the park, and while he played and his father supervised, I walked a mile.  I did have to stop half way through, but I got the full mile in.  I think I could have made the full mile without stopping, but exercise apparently affects my bladder and it was an emergency pit stop.

The week to come....
This week I'm going to concentrate on the following challenges:
  • Continue with the past week's challenges
  • Increase my treadmill time to a minimum of 15 minutes per day

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Small Changes Add Up

One of the most fascinating things I find about my weight loss research, is the cumulative affect of small changes.  I like equating said changes to calories, and then estimating how many pounds it equates to in a year.  Oddly enough, this makes me feel as if this long road I am on can be put on auto-pilot in a way.  I have put together a few of these small changes below for your reading enjoyment, but first you have to understand the math that goes behind it.  It's simple really, so don't fall asleep! 

3500 calories = 1 pound
For items that involve work, I am estimating the year as being 50 weeks, accounting for 2 weeks vacation/sick time, and 5 days per week. 
For items involving home, I am using the standard 7 days a week and 52 weeks a year.

Switching from regular to diet soda 
(1)16 ozs of soda a day = 21.5 pounds per year

Trading an average value meal for a frozen Lean Cuisine meal and bottle of water at work
Value Meal (average-not supersized) = 1170 calories
Lean Cuisine meal (Ginger garlic stirfry with chicken) = 280 calories
Calorie savings = 890
For the year = 63 pounds per year

*Walking 15 minutes, 3 times a week for a 200 pound woman
2 mph = 56 cal =  2.5 pounds per year
3 mph = 79 cal = 3.5 pounds per year
*While this might not be as impressive as the numbers above, it doesn't account for the other health benefits you will reap such as: muscle toning, stress relief and extra energy.

Switching from Ranch dressing to a low calorie/low fat variety 3 times per week.
2 Tbls. Ranch dressing = 148 cal.
2 Tbls. Low fat Raspberry vinaigrette = 30 cal.
Calorie savings per meal = 118 cal.
Per year = 5.2 pounds per year

Switching out a baked potato with butter and sour cream for a salad with low fat Raspberry Vinaigrette 3 times per week.
Baked potato with sour cream and butter = 742 calories
2 cups of salad greens w/2tbls vinaigrette = 65 calories
Calorie savings per meal = 677
Per year = 30 pounds per year.

Switching from regular to baked potato chips 3 times per week.
Regular potato chips per ounce = 155 calories (but you know no one can eat just one ounce!)
Baked potato chips per ounce = 75 calories (Lays Light)
Calorie savings per snack = 80 calories
Per year = 3.5 pounds per year (per ounce you are substituting)

So there you have it, just a few changes that can go a long way to improving your odds of losing weight.  If you think about it, it's really not that hard.  If I made only those changes above, at the end of the year I would have lost 121.5 pounds per year...with only a few changes.  Losing weight doesn't have to be hard.

Weighing food

OK, I admit it: I think weighing my food is the most boring and tedious thing since watching paint dry, but this morning I had an epiphany that changed the way I look at weighing my food from now on.  Like many people, I thought if I ate sensible portions of healthy food, the calories would take care of themselves.  Boy was I wrong.

As part of my journaling challenge for the week, I found I was forgetting to write things down until the late afternoon.  As a result, I would have to estimate the amounts.  I felt a bit guilty about that, thinking I was underestimating, so this morning I decided to dust off my kitchen scale and see how far off I was.  Boy was I off.  Way off!  Today for example, I measured out a 381 calorie breakfast, which was about half of what I would have eaten had I not measured, and I would have estimated it was less than normal...which means I was consuming around 3 times the amount of calories I thought I was without measuring.  Hmmmmm....interesting.  I see my kitchen scales getting a lot of use over the next few months, at least until I learn portion sizes.

And because I love equating the changes I make to pounds, here is your math for the day:
Before:  est. 1143
Now:  381
Difference: 762
1 year calorie saving: 278,130/3500* = 79.5 pounds WOW!

*3500 calories = 1 pound

Friday, January 14, 2011

Liquid Breakfast

Yesterday, my son had a minor outpatient surgery, which meant last night, he threw up...a LOT once the anesthesia wore off.  When he woke me up this morning and announced he wanted pancakes and bacon, I happily obliged.  What can I say?  I was a push-over!  Not wanting to partake of the nothing-remotely-healthy-breakfast-of-champions he proposed, and not wanting to make a separate meal for myself, I decided to have a meal replacement shake instead.  I had two to chose from, but as the Atkins shake was already refridgerated, I opted to have the Atkins shake.  I turned the container over half way through my breakfast to read the nutrition label (guess I should have done this before I opened it) and found it had 160 calories and 10 grams of fat! 

I don't know how I feel about a liquid shake having so much fat in it.  Yes the calories are relatively low, it's chock full of vitamins, and the taste was phenomenal, but drinking 10 grams of fat just didn't seem right to me.  While I think I will continue to keep such items on hand for quick breakfasts when I am running late for work, I don't know that I should depend on the meal replacements for an average meal. 

How many calories am I drinking????!!!!!

First, I must tell you, I am a coffee junkie.  If caffeine was outlawed today, I would be in a back alley looking to score first thing in the morning.  The Employer I work for has an unwritten motto that we run on coffee, and it's true.  The awesome coffee selection is just one of the many perks of working for a major website.  I love coffee, and the company I work for provides me more than I can drink for free!  Because of this, I rarely, if ever stop at one of the big overpriced coffee joints around town, unless it's the weekend, so I never pay attention to the warnings I see on dieting sites about the calorie content of a large specialty coffee at one of these said establishments.  As chance would have it yesterday, some of the coffee supplies in our communal break room were low, so being the grateful employee I am, I decided to do my part and restock.    As I was refilling the individual tubs of cream, I glanced at the nutritional content on the side of the box and noticed each small tub of creamer was 15 calories.  I instantly did a little math and realized each time I made myself a cup of coffee, I was adding 60 calories, per mug, of creamer alone.  On average I drink 4-6 mugs of coffee throughout my workday...yes I know that's alot!  This comes up to an extra 240 to 360 calories a day!  I averaged that to be 300 calories per work day, for a total of 1500 calories a week, and 75000 calories a work year (not counting 2 weeks of vacation).  Do you know what 75,000 calories equates to in pounds???  A little over 21 pounds!  From my coffee!

This was unacceptable to me so I decided to reduce my creamer usage by half as an experiment, and honestly, I could not tell a difference.  Now, I know you may be thinking "Why don't you just drink it black if you are really serious about losing weight?"  You may be right.  For a person to lose a serious amount of weight, sacrifices need to be made.  However, I also believe for a change to be long lasting, the changes need to account for certain aspects of your life you know you will never give up.  I will never give up coffee.  I would rather give up desserts for a lifetime, than to give up coffee forever.  The key is to find MODERATION.  Uhhhhhhhhhhh the dreaded M word!  But yes, moderation is where it's at.  There really is no need for me to be drinking 4-6 mugs of coffee, which really equates to around 8-12 regular cups because my mug holds 16 ounces.  This is especially true if I am seriously going to get in those 8 cups of water in throughout the day.  I do have to do actual work if I'm expected to continue riding the Juan Valdez train at my current Employer's expense. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fat Girl Starting Over

So, I start this blog on day 2.  Not the most auspicious beginning, but it will do.  After looking through dozens of old pictures (they would have to be old because I no longer allow myself to be photographed), I could deny the inevitable no longer - I was FAT.  And not just regular fat like a lot of Americans, but rather, I was morbidly obese.  I argued for so long the typical things such as: I was tall and carried it well, or I just had a baby.  No, if I were being truly honest with myself I would have to admit my height was about a quarter of what I needed at my current weight to be carrying it well, and that baby I just had was about to start kindergarten. 

To be even more honest with myself, I no longer took any interest in my appearance, and I feel tired all the time.  This is no longer the person I saw myself as, and certainly not who I want to be any longer.  I was once fearless and bold, and now I struggle with the fear that my weight will cause my son to be made fun of when he starts school.  I hate feeling invisible in a crowd and despise shopping for clothes. 

I'm not following the latest fad diet with a catchy title and best selling book.  I am, instead, taking a common sense approach by setting smaller goals for myself and building on it each week.  This week my goals are:

  • Packing a lunch each day instead of relying on fast food.  Healthier, and hopefully will allow me to save some cash
  • Drinking the ubiquitous 8 glasses of water a day
  • Exercising.  I don't have to walk for any specified amount of time, I just have to climb on the treadmill and do what I can