Thursday, February 19, 2015

Being Okay with a Small!

This past weekend we traveled out of town for the baby dedication/blessing of my niece’s first child. Even though it was a couple days out of my own environment and what I call “norm,” I was very dialed in to making good choices and continuing my exercise regimen (yep, 5 miles on the rickety hotel treadmill was interesting, yet successful). 
Usually when I travel, even though I’m not preparing and making my own food, I try to always pick good choices for ME. I try to avoid any dangerous areas. In other words, areas that tend to cause a problem yet still budget in things I’m going to want. Usually, when you travel or are away from your normal environment it’s for a reason. Sometimes that reason can be a party, a vacation, a weekend away, or even just lunch or dinner out. To know those things are coming and to mentally plan for them, has helped me to be successful in maintaining my weight loss. 
One of my favorite things to eat is frozen yogurt. I have no idea why I have this faddish but I do. In fact, to be able to go to a self-serve outfit where I can load on all the toppings I want is like the jackpot! SOO good!  And no, I don’t think I adopted this craving because it’s called “frozen yogurt” and I felt like it had to be healthier than ice cream. I got hooked because it’s just too good and creamy and full of naughtiness! 
Anyway, this weekend while we were away we spotted a Nielsen’s Frozen Custard Shop. They have one of these in another town about 5 hours from us and we’ve been before. H-E-A-V-A-N! Have you ever tried frozen custard? It’s SOOO creamy and rich and has everything I love about a frozen yogurt, only better because it’s frozen custard. By the time we drove by it that first day, they were closed, but I knew right then that it would have to be a stop before we headed out of town the next day. 
The two main flavors of custard they normally have are chocolate and vanilla. They then have a slew of mix-ins to choose from. When we arrived the next day, they had the normal chocolate and vanilla, as well as a specialty flavor of the day - Carmel Cashew. (Two things I love!) I decided I was going to go with the caramel cashew.  In the past, I’ve gotten a large or even a medium serving, but this time I decided that the small looked like just the perfect size. (They had clear cups on the counter to show the sizing options) We went and sat down to wait for them to bring out our order. A few minutes later, they walked over with what I thought was a mistake. A little tiny pink cup no bigger than the parameter of a silver dollar. It was like a mini. I then realized that was what the single serving came in, not the single serving with toppings cup I thought I was agreeing to that was displayed on the counter. Was I disappointed? Ah, YES! In fact, my kids thought it was too funny - my cute little cup of custard. I didn’t say anything and was just so thankful for the moment and my little treat that sat in front of me. I ate it very slowly as I wanted it to last forever. When I was done I realized something. It was perfect. Everything about it.  The taste, the texture, and most of all the size! I didn’t need anything bigger in order to get my “fix” in that moment. I walked out of Nielsen’s feeling happy, satisfied, and like I was on top of the world because I had been in control of the situation and turned something into a positive, when for so long in my life, it was a negative. I told myself several times on the 4 hour drive home…I’m okay with a small! 

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Focusing on Your Food....

Lately I have been making a conscious effort to track my food so diligently and avoid things that don’t fuel my body. Sometimes this can be hard, especially when the idea of something REALLY yummy that I haven’t eaten in a while wanders into my brain. One of the things I’ve been working on is when and where I choose to eat my meals/snacks. 
I know some of you are probably saying, "Does it really matter?" I believe it does, and for me, I’ve been tracking how this has been working in my day to day life.
 Most of the time in the mornings, for instance, I tend to make a protein shake to drink on the way to work, or if I choose to make some sort of a breakfast burrito with egg whites and veggies, I eat it in the car on the drive to work. It’s not long after I’ve gotten to work and I’m telling myself I’m hungry. The same scenario usually occurs when I eat my morning snack at my desk and sometimes even my lunch, depending on my day and what I need to get done. My afternoon snack is then usually a protein bar on the way to the gym and I find that the only real guaranteed sit-down meal I am having is at the dinner table every night. And even then, there are those times from time to time, where that is even eaten on the go. From looking at my day and really evaluating the quality time I spent eating, it really wasn’t happening. It was just when I could fit it in or I did it because it was time to eat. 
Just making a conscious effort to stop doing whatever it is I’m doing and really enjoy what I’m putting in my mouth has helped me to not think of food so much as an addiction but instead as fuel for my body. I think for so many years I would just eat to eat. It was what I knew how to do.  I had no recollection of really the good from the bad or calories/proteins/carbs/fats. I just ate.  Even when I had been educated about these things but still wasn’t focusing on the times and places when I was eating food, it all ended up feeling like a job, or like I said,  I just did it because I had too. 
For the past few weeks while trying to make a change and focus on quality eating time, I’m feeling fuller longer and not constantly thinking about the next time I get to eat – things that naturally come when you’re a person who has struggled with either weight loss or food issues.  By taking the time to break away from what I’m doing and sit at the table, try not to work and eat at the same time, and minimize the times I have to eat on the go, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. It allows me to focus on each bite. It allows me to drink lots of water with whatever I’m eating. It allows me to feel like I’m in control, I’m a normal eater, and I can enjoy just about anything, as long as I do it in moderation. 
I know I’m not perfect at this by any means but just making an effort has been huge!  It plays a key role in making good choices and maintaining what I’ve worked so hard to become. 

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Training the Brain!

I have been reminded lately as I’m getting back into the swing of things that the brain is a muscle just like all the others in the body. And just like training muscles takes time and effort to get them to where we want them to be, so does training the brain. The good news is, once the brain is trained, it seems so much easier to maintain or at least for the most part. I know I’m not perfect when it comes to this, and it is a struggle from time to time, but I have myself headed in the right direction and that’s all that counts. 

I like to think about it this way. If you were headed off to school to either become a doctor or a teacher, you’d have to learn different skills to be successful at what you were trying to accomplish. If you’d never been exposed to that type of education, it would be a new territory of learning. Once you got the education though and started on your way, you’d never forget what you learned and in the end, would become very successful at being that doctor/teacher. 
Our brains are the same way when it comes to educating them on what’s best for our bodies. The best thing about it is we were all made individually with special care, so training our brains is a very individual thing. Sure we can get ideas, help, and support from those around us, but in the end, we’ve got to be the one who's running the ship. We are the advocate for our bodies. What works for one person may not work for the next, so learning to train the brain is crucial, especially when you’re trying to lose weight and take on healthy. 
Lately for me, I feel like my brain needs a refresher. I know what to do. I know what works for me. I know how to get it done. It’s a matter of practicing my skills. Just like anything else in life, if we stop doing something we’ve trained our brains to do, even if we know it well, we tend to get a little rusty. That’s why doctors/teachers are required to do different re-certifications along the way during their career, to make sure they still have their brain trained in the right materials. I feel health is no different. If you're going to be successful in creating the best YOU, you need to have a good trained brain. 
Here are a few things that have helped me along the way: 
Establish a routine – Make it a habit. Write it down if you need to for a while. 
Find foods you enjoy – What works for you is what you should eat. Not what your friends tell you you should and shouldn’t eat. Try new things. Branch out. There are so many yummy options.
Make exercise something you look forward too – This is a big one for me. I know I’ll have to exercise the rest of my life to maintain healthy, so I want it to be something I not only like, but love. 
Share and Tell – It makes it so much easier when the people who you are closest to, and in some cases, not closest to, know you are trying to change. It’s then not a secret but a lifestyle. They also provide a source of strength and accountability that is extremely helpful. 
Make it fun - Because being healthy is a lifelong adventure, making it fun and something you enjoy is crucial. If that means getting involved, meeting new people who are on the same journey etc, DO IT! It will mean something and you will be a strength to others just as they are to you. 

Like I mentioned earlier - Lately for me I feel like I am re-training my brain on some things. I tend to be hard on myself and need to remember that it was one day at a time that got me to where I am today. Not every day is going to be easy. Not every day was easy. In fact, maybe not every week. But when I look at the list of things above and the picture below, I am reminded that by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass.

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Monday, January 12, 2015

5 Years...Maintenance...And So it Continues....

Now that we're two solid weeks into the new year, I feel like the hustle and bustle of the holidays have passed and I'm starting to settle in to somewhat of a routine again, and believe me, it feels SO good! Is it always a cakewalk? No way! I definitely have by bad days, but going forward the best I know how and finding ways to enjoy the journey along the way, is top priority. 

This past week was my five-year anniversary, if you want to call it, of when I hit my goal weight and committed to remain healthy. Along with maintenance comes its challenges. In fact, to be frankly honest, I think the maintenance part is much, much harder than I thought it was going to be. In some ways, it's even harder than the 14 months it took me to lose the weight. Might sound crazy, but true story. My weight has fluctuated from time to time over the past 5 years since hitting my goal. Sometimes more than I'd like, but the good news is, I always know when it's time to stop the unnecessary and get back to business before things have gotten out of control. Usually, for me, it's because I've become lazy about tracking my food or not getting to the gym when I need too or just plain not doing what I know I need to do to maintain. Yep, life happens. 
Food is an addiction. I believe this is true for people who not only have weight problems, but for people who are healthy too. I know when I was 278 pounds, not only did I think of food often, I chose to consume food in the wrong way. And even now, 5 years later, in a body half my size, I still think of food often, but in a different way. I'm addicted to thinking about fueling my body for the good. I'm addicted to making this body that was a gift, the healthiest I know how. In some ways, I think when we are struggling with food addictions that have caused us to spiral out of control and get to places that cause us unhappiness, can be far more challenging than other addictive behaviors, like drugs, alcohol, video gaming, etc. Again, this is just my own personal opinion and it's not meant to offend anyone. The way I see it, with action, support groups, maybe counseling, and a desire to not consume or participate in those things anymore, people are successful. The problem with food addictions is, we can't just say we're never going to eat again. That thought alone makes this whole idea of our journey all that more challenging and in my eyes. 

For me personally in regards to maintenance, it's a matter of finding my happy place and staying as close to that as possible. Is that going to be beach body skinny minnie? Most likely not. It's not going to be any specific number on the scale but just a range in which I call "happy and healthy" for me. The problem and reality is, I like food. I always will. Hello...I was nearly 300 pounds! I want to still be able to enjoy food and treats as I continue on my journey. If that means sacrificing the idea that I'll never be a stick figure, I'm okay with that. All I want most of all is healthy and happy. I think that will tend to be my gauge more than the number on the scale in the months and years to come. 

Whether you are at the beginning of your journey, in maintenance, or somewhere in between, I commend you. I know it's not easy. I've been there. I am there! But the good news is we're not alone. Here's to wonderful things in 2015!

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Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year = New Perspective

I've been asking myself over the past couple weeks what it is about New Years Resolutions that I don't like. Seems like I've always professed I don't like them. I wanted to know why. They sound great. They sound motivating and inspiring.  Then it occurred to me that the reason I don't think I've ever been one for New Years Resolutions, is the idea of failure. I had failed so many times in my life in years past at the beginning of the new year when I committed to lose weight, be healthier, etc.  Then by March or April, I'd fallen off the bandwagon and back into my old ways and the weight was either still there or more had crept on. I guess that part of things has been overlooked the past several years when New Years has come and gone and I just still had the mindset of disliking goals for the reason of years prior of failure. When I began this weight loss journey it was not in January. It was in March. It wasn't New Years. It wasn't a time of year where everyone was setting goals and trying to make a change. This was different. And if you've read my blog from the beginning, you'll read that I didn't even know what my goals were in the beginning of this journey. I had no clue what to think or expect, as I was treading on new ground and was unsure in many ways of what I was capable of. The good news is that I made it to my goal. It took time, hard work, discipline, and motivation, but I got there. One day at at time. It was the first time in my life, I'd set a health-related goal and was successful. And not in a little way, but a big way. 

So, with that on my mind these past couple weeks, I've warmed up to the idea of goals. Resolutions. Dreams. Why not? I know now that I have what it takes mentally and physically to get me anywhere on the map. I can't say I've always been that way, no way. But I am now, so why not goal it up! As I've contemplated the idea of a few goals, it's gotten me excited again about health -- something to work towards, something to dream about. I feel like with the bit of a slump I've been in since summer break, the move etc. this is just what I'm needing to push forward and gain back the feeling I had felt before when I was in what felt like my best shape. 

So here are a few things I will be working on in 2015...GOALS....RESOLUTIONS!

* I plan to get back to resistance training several days a week. Since summer, it has been very hit and miss and I have had no real plan of attack when I get there. Just whatever sounded good and got the job done. I plan to be very disciplined in getting a thought out, planned, and on paper type workout in when I am there and push myself to get stronger and leaner in the process. 

*  I have continued to run, which as you've known has not always been a favorite of mine, but for some reason I keep going back. I don't know why. I like how it makes me feel when it's over. It's something I'd never been able to say I could do before.  Now I can. It's one of the few cardio exercises that can make me drip with sweat, and believe it or not, I like that feeling. Since I recently got a FitBit, I've ditched the Garmin. Now the FitBit will tell me distance and calories burned and that seems to be all I need to like running that much more. I have found that ditching my watch and not caring about my pace and time has made me a whole new runner. I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to it. I just head out and go, and I sync my phone when I'm done to see how far I went. It's perfect for me right now. Will I always be that way? Probably not. I'll need to graduate back to my Garmin at some point, but for now, I needed something very simple and non stressing, to help me fall in love with the exercise that seems to give me the most success as far as cardio. 

* In May, I'm planning to head to Indiana for a weekend to run the Indy Mini 500 Half Marathon with my Ragnar team, Strangers to Solemates. It's going to be a reunion of sorts for us and I'm super excited. I would love to be leaner and more fit than I was when they all met me for the first time last April. It's not a must, but it's motivating, and I will work my hardest to get there. From there, I will continue on my journey and move forward setting new short-term goals to keep me motivated and uplifted. 

*I'd love to sign up for more races. Basically, I run my traditional Seattle Half-Marathon every year, and then I've done a couple other local races and a Ragnar. I wouldn't mind stepping out of my comfort zone and trying a few more. Not to mention, they're always so fun!

With a New Year, it always brings the idea of change. A fresh start. A new beginning. Whatever it is you're striving to better or change or make a priority in the coming year, I pray is a success. It started with a thought. Now, act on it, have the faith, and press on. It won't be easy. I'm sure I'm going to have my share of days that are a struggle, but just keep telling yourself, you can do anything you put your mind to. You have the power to change you! Happy 2015! 

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