Monthly Archives: January 2015

10 Things You Probably Never Realize About the Formerly Fat Female in Your Life

I don’t mean to stroke my own ego, or maybe I do, but women who have made the choice to lose weight and be healthy are pretty special. We’re different than a lot of other women because we’ve fought a battle with ourselves that makes us stronger, healthier, and more confident; however, it’s important to remember that just because we met our goals we aren’t invincible or even half as confident as we put on. The truth about women who’ve lost a lot of weight is that we are fragile, sensitive, and hard on ourselves. It’s still a mental struggle for us every day to keep weight off or continue to lose it. Here’s what you might not realize is going on in your victoriously fit friend or other half’s brain:

1.) We wear colossal fat goggles. No matter how skinny or fit we feel, we still see a part of our old selves in the mirror. We can’t shake the idea that we should wear black all the time because it’s slimming or that we should wear baggy clothing to camouflage our now smaller or non-existent belly rolls. We’re always a memory away from reliving how we felt as bigger women.

2.) We have an inherent fear of “bad” foods or large amounts of foods. Holiday potlucks give us horrific lucid nightmares. Superbowl parties make us hyperventilate. Sometimes we’re convinced that one big party will make us fat forever.  We fear that eating one cupcake at a birthday party will set us off into a binge that will last for weeks, causing an insatiable lust for all things covered in chocolate or caramel sauce.

3.) We are perfectionists, and we’re our own worst critics. We check in the mirror to make sure that thinner, more svelte figure is still there. We can’t believe it. And even if we do, we’re checking for other imperfections. We look at our behinds to check for dimples, our outer thighs to check for saddle bags, and our waistbands to check for the slightest hint of a muffin top. I’ve even gone home to change in the middle of the workday before because I felt like my pants made me look a little too big.

4.) We need a lot of encouragement even if we put on a facade. We need meaningful validation that our hard work was worth it and that we truly are better than we were before. We don’t just want to hear, “Honey, you’re beautiful.” We want to hear, “I really love what _____ has done for you in  ______ area.” That is a lot easier to believe than a generic blanket statement about our overall appearance. Even then, we have a hard time accepting compliments and may brush it off as a joke.

5.) We can be overbearing and overzealous about our lifestyle. Sometimes we’re so passionate about the changes we’ve made and how much better we feel that we can’t help but blab about it. Sometimes that can be condescending or overwhelming for our friends and family because sometimes they just want to complain about how they’re feeling sluggish rather than have you fix it. We don’t mean to do it either. We’re sorry!

6.) We get really mad when people are lazy. We also hate when they complain about it. This happens to me all the time when someone asks me, “How did you do it?! What’s your secret?” Everyone knows that a secret doesn’t exist, but they’re hoping you’ll tell them that all you did was remove one ingredient from your diet or that you took a pill in order to see results. We know that it’s not that easy, so we get upset with people want to try and make it seem that easy. We know that there is no reward for laziness.

7.) We are not your personal nutrition and exercise encyclopedias. Yes, the occasional question about the healthiest way to cook or the recommended amount of exercise is okay. That makes us feel useful, and we love that you thought of us when you needed someone to ask! However, we don’t love when you think we’re going to customize a nutrition and exercise plan for you and you alone as a favor. That takes a lot of work, and we spent a long time enduring trial and error to find a sweet spot!

8.) We don’t want to watch reality TV shows about losing weight. We don’t want to listen to TV shows that use extreme measures to achieve unsustainable results. We also don’t want to hear about Dr. Oz and his miraculous Acai berries and green tea antioxidants. Anyone who lost weight the old fashioned way doesn’t have time for that kind of asinine crap. Likewise, if you ask us to give you our opinions on The Biggest Loser, get ready for a monologue that never ends.

9.) We still unintentionally bash naturally skinny people in our heads. We’re always going to be a little peeved that we couldn’t be part of that group of people who won the genetic lottery and inherited a super metabolism. Sorry, but we’re not sorry. It’s awesome for you, and you look great, but we secretly want to throttle you. Just know that it’s not personal.

10.) We struggle to love ourselves at any weight, any age, and in any setting. We are constantly striving for the perfection that doesn’t exist. We know that our battle with weight and unhealthy habits is a lifelong struggle, so we must be vigilant. We are always going to have something to work on, but women who have lost a lot of weight still have a hard time doing the most important thing to be healthy: to love themselves.

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Food and Exercise Diary Flubbs: Deceptive Logging

You remember in school how the teacher would tell you that cheating gets you nowhere because it doesn’t help you learn? You cheat on your homework and when it is time for the test, you fail miserably because you failed to actually gain any knowledge while copying answers? I was the kid in school who always got copied.

Using a food and diary log is pretty much the same way. If you omit items from your diary in order to look better to your peers on My Fitness Pal or elsewhere, you’re only hurting yourself. You’re not accurately logging, and that will hurt you because you’re not going to see the results you want. You have to be honest. Likewise, overestimating calorie burns just because the automated form in My Fitness Pal estimates that you burned 1,200 calories cleaning your house for an hour and a half is going to hinder you in your goals.

I know that food is enticing, but we can’t enter false information and expect for these things to physically become a reality. If you enter that you burned 1,200 calories shoveling snow for an hour and you actually only burned about 400, you really only burned 400. That snow wasn’t tiny, extremely dense lead shavings. Sorry, folks, but putting it in your log doesn’t make it magically true.

The logging is your homework, the weigh in is the test, and you’re going to fail if you falsify that information. If what other people think about your diary bothers you, make it private. It’s not mandatory to have a public diary on My Fitness Pal. This is something that BLOWS my mind.

I don’t know where My Fitness Pal gets some of their information for estimating calorie burn, but you can pretty much be sure that you didn’t burn more than 10 calories a minute while exercising. Trust me, if you were burning more than 10 calories a minute, you’d be drenched in perspiration and your heart would be coming out of your chest.

I know it’s hard to put in real effort because you’ve been used to being lazy or maybe you’re uninspired, but you’re only going to be disappointed when the scale doesn’t reflect the “awesome dedication” that you allegedly put in over the week. There is no way around the fact that this is a numbers game. If you want to see results, you have to do the work and be honest with yourself about it.

There are no shortcuts in losing weight. None.

5 Ways to Dine Out (Without Ruining Your Diet!)

One of the things I’ve always struggled with while trying to become a healthier individual and lose weight is eating at restaurants. We’ve never been particularly wealthy, so we don’t go out very often; dining out is special for us, and we like to make it count. We like to splurge when we go out because it’s something fun and different. I used to make date nights my “cheat meal” for the week, and that “cheat meal” turned in a disastrous cheat week.  I have cheat meals every once in a while now, but usually it’s a cheat item like a frozen yogurt with Reese’s and I just call it food, not a cheat. That’s a discussion for another post. My love and I are having a lunch date today, and it got me thinking about how to decide where to go and what to order.

There are many ways that I combat overeating and falling off the wagon at restaurants, but these five are pretty standard every time I go out.

1.) Decline the bread basket at the table. One of my favorite places to grab some grilled protein with veggies is Logan’s Roadhouse. Oh my gods. I love Logan’s. I also love their rolls a little too much. I’m from the South, and there’s probably nothing more delicious with dinner than a big ol’ buttered yeast roll. Logan’s knows what’s up. Anyway, I try to let the server know before I even eat that I don’t want any rolls on the table. Of course, they look at me like I’m possessed by a demon or something, but it’s effective. If you really want bread and it’s just going to make you feel like you missed out for the next week, take some bread, but don’t eat the whole loaf of sourdough with olive oil and herbs at Zio’s. A little, not a lot. You’re about to fill your tummy with the real deal! Leave some room.

2.) Look up the nutritional information and choose your entree before you arrive. Put the blinders on. You won’t even have to look at the menu and be enticed by all the pictures of non-edible items dressed up to look like delicious food. (Seriously, that’s why a Big Mac doesn’t look like a Big Mac when you get it at the window.) Before I go out to eat anywhere, I find a menu and as much nutritional information as possible to make a good decision. I look for meals high in protein and lower in carbs and saturated fats. Most chain restaurants are catering to those who want to change their lifestyles now by offering a low calorie menu or a portion of the menu affiliated with Weight Watchers.

3.) Don’t drink your calories. We add so many unnecessary calories, chemicals, and sugars to our meals by choosing soft drinks over water or tea at restaurants. I usually order unsweet tea and sweeten it myself so that I know how much sugar is actually in it. The same is true for alcoholic beverages; they contain an ungodly amount of sugar! Look up the nutritional value of your favorite drinks before you go and see what you can fit into your lifestyle. Just like the new, healthier entree options, most chains now offer “skinny” margaritas and cocktails. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

4.) If all of that falls through and you’re at the only joint in town that literally has no dish under 1,000 calories and doesn’t accommodate healthy eaters, don’t be afraid to order something that doesn’t exist on the menu. Order a la carte. Don’t be afraid to ask for something because you think you’ll be an inconvenience. You’re paying them to serve you great food! I’ve been known to go to Mexican or Tex-Mex restaurants and order soup and a chicken taco with a corn tortilla, plus a side of black beans. The only person who can decide what you eat is you!

5.) Relax! Even if you find yourself with few options or if you have a misunderstanding and accidentally order and eat the wrong thing, you’ll be fine. Yeah, if you overeat at dinner you will probably weigh in a little heavier, but it’s likely that the weight is nothing but water retained by high sodium meals found at most restaurants. Just don’t let that mistake turn into a “screw it” mentality. Stressing leads to weight gain anyway. Live a little.

I’m considering sharing some of this information with my coworkers and colleagues in our next newsletter, but we’ll see. There are a few other ideas on the table.

By the way, if you’re one of the few people reading this and you’ve got a question I’ve never addressed, ask away! I’d love to start an FAQ from my personal experiences.

Happy Friday!

Installing a Pacemaker to get rid of your Pacemaker?

It came to my attention that recently the FDA approved a device that is essentially a pacemaker for your stomach and esophagus which sends electrical pulses to interrupt hunger pangs. The device has been tested in real live humans, and the FDA approved it. There are multiple reasons that this device and its approval are completely flabbergasting me and enraging me. The approval of this device was conceived in greed and will exacerbate the laziness and instant gratification mindset of our entire nation. In a place where 3/4 of the population is overweight or obese, this device is a far cry from the solutions needed to make our nation healthy.

The first problem with this device is that it most likely made multiple people affiliated with the FDA a little richer. It’s no secret that the FDA has repeatedly made decisions that do not benefit the public’s health while it does benefit their members’ wallets. Check out Food Inc. and tell me that you don’t think the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries had anything to do with this or the thousand other ways the FDA presumes to treat obesity without attacking the source of the problem: what we eat. Someone was paid well to pass this design and approve its use.

How do I make the assumption that the approval of the device was the product of corporate greed? In an experiment testing the effectiveness of the device, called Maestro, the placebo device performed almost as well as Maestro as far as total body weight lost in 100 patients. NBC news stated, “The FDA wanted the device to be 10 percent better, on average, than a placebo but has approved it anyway.” The experiment was safe enough, but did have many adverse side effects that are usually included in any Pepto Bismol advertisement. Well, yeah, an electrical device that pulses through your stomach and esophagus when you decide you feel hungry… wonder why? Seriously.

Let’s talk about how effective this device would be at sustainably reducing weight in its hosts. NBC wrote that the device would only be available to those who had tried weight loss programs and failed with a BMI of at least 35 to 45 points, but they would also only qualify if they also had an obesity-related health issue like heart disease or diabetes. Okay, cool, we’re narrowing it down, but this device will do jack-diddly-squat for heart disease and diabetes. The device only controls hunger pangs, not the actual kind of food you put in your mouth. If you only eat 500 calories a day but that 500 calories is always a nice greasy burger, you’re still going to have heart disease. Hate to break it to you, but skinny people get heart disease and die of heart attacks too! The device also wouldn’t stop you from eating only 500 calories worth of doughnuts a day and remaining diabetic. One more blow to your lower abdomen: skinny people are diabetic too! This device, this Maestro, only addresses calorie intake and not actual health. It will literally do NOTHING for someone who isn’t consciously making the decision to eat healthier foods.

This device also only intercepts hunger signals, not depression or boredom, so emotional eating and boredom binging are totally still on the table. Not only that, but Maestro is controllable by its host, so you can choose when you’d like to be hungry. Presumably, anyone could develop an eating disorder and use Maestro to reject their basic instincts saying, “hey, feed me before I eat all the necessary visceral fat around your vital organs and send you to the ER!” The device will not address any issues with food addiction or overeating. It will simply allow its hosts to ignore hunger. That is useless.

Needless to say, someone just invested a whole lot of money into something that will be completely obsolete and will cure nothing. Sure, it may help some people lose weight for a while, but it won’t teach them how to make better food choices or how to plan meals for weight loss.

This time, money, and energy would have been better spent by the FDA in trying to figure out how to get their heads out of their asses and their hands out of agriculture and pharmacy’s pockets long enough to figure out that they’re killing us all one dollar at a time.

Gee, thanks.

Weight Loss Tips: It’s not Black and White!

After a few years of living a healthier lifestyle and attempting to lose weight, I began to see each day as either inherently good or bad. The choices I made, whether or not I worked out, and how much I ate became the be-all-end-all distinction between whether I hated myself that day or not. If I decided to have a doughnut, the whole day became an, “aw, what the hell?” kind of day. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that I often lose sight of my goals halfway through the day. I eat healthy foods until my afternoon snack and shit really hits the fan when I get sleepy around 3 p.m.

To combat this pattern, I started a logging method that is incredibly simple and easy. It’s completely effortless, and it helps me put things into perspective.

I log my food and exercise online in a journal that is pretty detailed. I look at macros and micro-nutrients like sugar and sodium daily and weekly. Looking at all of those numbers can get pretty overwhelming when I’m trying to decide if my day was good or bad or somewhere in between. Information overload makes it difficult for me to see what I need to work on to get better and be healthier. To streamline that process and develop a thought process that allows me to identify gray areas on which I need to work, I use a color-coded monthly planner. It sounds complicated, but it’s totally not.

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At the end of each day, I cross off the entire day in a color that relates to my intake and activities. If I was over my calories AND did not do my planned activity, I cross the square out in red. If I was either under and inactive or over and active, I cross the square in pink. If I was both under on calories and did my planned activity, I cross the square in green. You can see here that I’ve been pretty well motivated during January; trust me you DO NOT want to see December. It’s practically all red. I’m human. Sue me.

I also log my losses so I can see that my efforts bring progress when I get green and pink. I’m a super visual learner, and visuals have always helped me to grasp difficult concepts.

The point is to associate a “gray” day with a color that is somewhat pleasant to you so that you can look at it as a toss-up or an okay day that could have been better rather than an OHMYGOSHI’MSUCHAFATCOW day. So far, this method has been extremely effective for me, and I wanted to share it.

A Regular Lois Lane

I know I mentioned that I’ve been writing a column for my organization’s e-newsletter, and it has given me a great sense of accomplishment since I started. After the first column, I received a couple of e-mails and personal responses that really boosted my confidence! My department resides in a building apart from the rest of the organization, so sometimes seclusion and involvement are problems for us. We’re the mysterious and faraway crew that obviously get paid to do something but no one is sure what that is.

One such response was this:

“Hi Melody,

Thanks for the encouraging tips and the benefit of your experience. I love it that you shared your talent!

 Susan”

My own supervisor came to me to congratulate me and tell me that she loved my tips. This month, I think I’ve mentioned before, I wanted to address the frightening popularity of low carb, no carb, and no fat diets as a method of losing weight. My column is below:

“On a day-to-day basis, we’re overwhelmed by magazine covers and news stories that tell us we should eat in a specific way. Some claim a low- or no-carb diet is key, while others claim a low-fat diet is paramount to losing weight. All of these headlines overcomplicate the concept of nourishing our bodies. While a low-carb diet, one of the biggest fad diets of all time, will yield short-term results, the realities of eating low-or no-carb are harsh. It’s recommended by nutrition specialists and professionals that 45-60% of our food intake comes from carbs. Why? We fuel our bodies with carbs! We need carbs to think clearly, to regenerate cells (glucose!), and to exercise. Carbohydrates are stored in our muscles as glycogen and used as energy when we get moving. Like carbs, fat is also important for our bodies. Some fats improve joint health and fight triglycerides (bad fat). What I’m getting at is a diet with a variety of nutrients and a balanced diet is most effective, so we have the energy to function as happy, healthy humans. There are always some exceptions; some doctors will suggest patients with insulin resistance or diabetes eat low-carb or cycle carbs to regulate blood sugar. Before excluding any of the three macronutrients (protein, carbs, or fat) from your diet, do your research and talk with a doctor. After all, the most important changes that happen while losing weight are happening on the inside.”

My assertion is that losing weight and becoming healthier are not always the same thing. There are several ways to abuse our bodies, even when we think we’re doing the right thing. It’s important to improve our minds by becoming educated about food while also improving our bodies by nourishing them with food. Think! Meditate! Consider!

To happiness and healthiness!

Burgers, Regret, and Weight Loss

This post isn’t the kind of post you think you’re going to read. It’s not about over-eating or binging and feeling guilty. This post is about a relationship between a father and daughter and how it has impacted my weight loss journey.

There is some back-story to this post in a previous blog I wrote. Long story short, my dad killed a mother of twin girls and himself while drinking and driving. A lot of complicated events led up to this relapse of his and most of it isn’t my business to tell, but the main idea I want to convey is that he was so very troubled. He struggled.

Today, I read an interesting post from Humans of New York. (If you haven’t liked them on Facebook, then you are missing out on the most beautiful and sincere pieces of humanity in the world. It’s a lovely project. Check them out here: HONY) A man who was photographed for this project said to the photographer, “No matter how much we tried to help my brother, he wouldn’t quit. We tried being there for him. Then we tried to throw money at the problem. We tried to set him up with rehab, doctors, psychologists, even a job. Then eventually we just sort of threw up our hands and stopped associating with him, thinking that the alienation might shock him into changing. I hadn’t spoken to him for two years when he killed himself.” Many of the comments on this post were supportive. Anyone who hasn’t known an addict or been in a personal relationship with an addict can’t understand the helplessness one feels when they are no longer of use. They have expended all of their time and energy into helping and have only been met by rejection and disappointment. I thought to myself, “If I were photographed in New York and he asked me what my biggest regret was, what is it that I would say?”

When I got the news that my dad had died in a tragic and violent collision, the one thing I wished I had done was ask him out for a burger. Just one meal. Maybe if my dad had known that one person in this world cherished him above all else and truly valued him as the person he is rather than judging him for the person he was becoming… maybe he wouldn’t have wanted to drink that night.

If I could have stopped my busy life for one moment to give him the affection and connection he deserved, then maybe he would have thought twice. I had always been his reason to stop drinking before, so why not now?

I felt guilt after he died for that one thing. I had the opportunity to make him feel important, and I missed it. It was the one thing I kept telling myself over and over, and it was a big reason that I gained so much weight after he died.

I’m not an outwardly emotional person. I don’t like to be seen crying, and I don’t like to bicker in public. I hate confrontation. I’m an extreme introvert. Everyone thought I was being so strong, but really I was just saving it for later. It took quite a long time before I went a day without crying. I’d cry in my cubicle. I’d cry in my bed. I’d cry in the shower. And I ate. I ate to fill a hole that nothing could fill, and I still haven’t filled it. It just scarred over.

This brings my to my next point: Weight loss is just as much mental as it is physical. I can, at any given time, make the decision to eat junk. I can logically choose to eat well or destroy my progress; however, it’s never as easy as all that. The way we treat our bodies is a direct reflection of how we feel about ourselves. Some express that violently or sexually, but I eat. Overeating is just another form of self-harm for emotional eaters. We loathe ourselves, we see ourselves as hideous, so we literally feed that.

I hated myself for giving up on my dad. I felt badly about whining when he asked for money or when he vented to me, but I was missing out on a beautiful relationship that only required my time and nurturing. I was his person. My dad confided in me and trusted me to help him, to listen when no one else would. What a treasure I ignored and rejected.

For a long time I thought I was ashamed that he had killed someone else, a young woman with children who needed her. Yes, I am ashamed of that, but it wasn’t my doing and it’s not my fault. I know that. I was ashamed because I wasn’t being half of the woman he taught me to be. I wasn’t doing the next right thing, and I wasn’t being kind or generous.

For that, I ate.

I’m not here to whine and broadcast the message that I need sympathy. I just feel like admitting my regrets is an action that will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of losing 100 lbs, which has been 4 years of hard work.

I lost 5 lbs this weigh-in, and I’ve been working out in frigid temperatures in my garage. Damn, I feel good about that.

There’s not much else to say except that facing my demons is helping me to become a more compassionate and empathetic person. It also helps me to be more objective about events that have happened since then. Little things like a bad day or a ruined party are so much easier to handle now that I’ve been through something that legitimately broke me from the inside. There have been blessings in this curse.

I guess if I could hope for one thing, it’s that someone would read this and find some little nugget of wisdom in it that would help them make it through the day, make it to their goals, or simply to help them live more fully and passionately.

My dad’s death awakened something in me that feels, truly feels everything. It has inspired me to tackle life and my dreams with a renewed fierceness that I haven’t known before.

I can do this.

Moderation, not Deprivation!

This month, in our organizational newsletter, I’m going to talk about moderation instead of deprivation. People who want to lose weight quickly, which is true for like… everyone, get stuck on the idea that if we can deprive ourselves of ONE thing we will be skinny. Easy! Right?

Wrong. Yeah, cutting out carbs will help you lose weight pretty quickly, but it will also help you to starve your body! Your body needs carbs, fat, AND protein to function, especially when you’re kicking up the activity a notch. Instead of viewing food as something you need to take away, view it as something you need to replace. I quit diet Cokes and artificial sweeteners for my resolution. It was the ONE thing I was holding onto from my past unhealthy lifestyle that I really didn’t want to let go of, but it was bringing me down. I’m replacing my Cokes with unsweetened tea when I feel the urge to grab one. My body sure feels a lot better; my blood sugar is much more regulated and I’m feeling less bloated. It’s the same thing with food. A drink is not just a drink. A carb is not just a carb. A fat is not just a fat.

Here’s what MyFitnessPal/Hello Healthy says about calories and macro nutrients:

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Looking at this chart, we can see that our bodies need equal to and sometimes MORE carbs than protein or fat in our diets. We can do some serious damage to the way our bodies process carbohydrates, complex and simple, if we refuse to eat carbohydrates while also engaging in cardiovascular activity. We will even be more likely to gain the weight we lost and THEN some right back! Trust me, you need your macronutrients to stay healthy.

By doing so, you’ll have more energy to feed those workouts and become super beastly.

Do me a favor and go eat some whole grains and fiber.

Go on.

Git.