All Journal Entries Journals
Sort By:  

Very Sick

Sep 11, 2014 - 0 comments

I've been very unwell with abdominal pain, swelling, and loss of appetite these past few weeks, so any weight loss charted in this time is probably due to that.

96 Pounds Down. Not Bad.

Jul 05, 2014 - 0 comments
Tags:

pounds

,

years

,

Thyroid

,

Weight

,

sleep

,

Diet

,

Dieting

,

hunger

,

loss

,

Advice

,

Health

,

Wellness

,

tips

,

Diabetes

,

stress

,

fatigue

,

Pregnancy



Since I embarked on this endeavor two years ago this month, the mirror is showing me a person 96 pounds lighter these days. Ideally, I suppose I should say that it was my willpower and regular workouts that had this effect. As I am not sponsored by any major franchises to tell those kinds of fibs, however, I can say that I have not at any time gotten around to "exercising" nor have I chained the refrigerator door shut.

I went on my first diet (that wasn't imposed upon me by my parents) at age 12. I was already used to being told that sugar was off limits--to ME, not to the rest of the family--and was frequently regarded as some ravenous monster inexorably bent on self destruction that had to be policed in the kitchen at all times. I was used to being made to do sit-ups or some other exercise before I could eat even a healthy food, while my skinny sister sat on the sidelines, blissfully exempt from this torture. I doubt my family consciously realized that they were doing everything in their power to make me FATTER, since all I felt was hunger and all I wanted to eat was sugar as a result of all this exclusion. Dieting had the same effect. The strictness isolated me and the tremendously reduced portions left me feeling hollow. And yet, dieting and exercise was always touted as the only real way to lose weight, and I tried and failed off and on for years, ballooning even bigger after every failure until at 5' 5" I topped out at 255 lbs from a starting weight of 140!!!

As the old saying goes, "I wish I was as skinny as I was when I thought I was fat". Never more true. Looking at "before" photos of myself I cursed both me and my family for perpetuating the myth that I was horrendously overweight when I was clearly a normal, albeit sturdy, weight. My belly always jutted out unusually far, even as a toddler, which no doubt contributed to the overall impression that I was heavier than I actually was. In later years it would be endlessly mistaken for a mid-term pregnancy by countless well-wishers. Most of my teen years were a blur of diet scams and exercise crocks. I never dated. Couldn't be interested. Everything was body/food/weight 24/7. That was my main focus.

There comes a point in every weight loss attempt where you KNOW that it's about to fail. Exercise starts to drop off,& that first taste of a forbidden food has left you obsessed and unable to concentrate until you give in and gorge until you were satisfied---a point which may take days, weeks, or months to "burn itself out" of your system, and by then the damage has long since been done and you're worse off than when you started. At nearly 40 years of age, it has dawned on me concretely that dieting is one of the best proven methods to GAIN WEIGHT ever devised. The cycle of deprivation and then gorging to compensate is a patented formula for weight gain that has yet to be equaled. Most people who take on diets are people who are, for all intents and purposes, setting out to prove that 2 plus 2 CAN equal 5 (if you really know what you're doing).

At 255 lbs. I was not particularly motivated to get back on the ol' treadmill of starving, sweating, and failing. I couldn't exercise very well anyway, not least from my size but also from the fact that I had developed bone spurs on what felt like the bottom of both heel bones, and every step was a stab up the leg through the foot that was crippling and agonizing. I began having visions of being in the motorized chairs provided by supermarkets. Trouble was, I could not give up and accept disability, because I am a caregiver for two seniors already in wheelchairs and they depend on my ability to walk to help them, lift them, and do chores for them. I had to do something, all right, but I couldn't do what I had been doing, because that would only be temporary.

1) One foot in front of the other. The eating habits that had gotten me to 255 lbs. were, predictably, excessive. Everything was eaten in multiples (2 bowls of cereal, two sandwiches for lunch, to bowls of ice cream for dessert, etc...) First point of call was to reduce whatever I was eating to just units of ONE, even if the portion size didn't change. ONE bowl of cereal, ONE sandwich for lunch, and so on.

2) Once I got a handle on that concept, I began to reduce the size of the portions I DID eat. During this process I did measure and/or weigh portions to get a good visual cue on what a recommended serving looked like in a bowl, on a plate, in a cup, in my hand, etc.
Knowing I was trying to eat less had my nerves set up to crave the usual fullness I was used to. To soothe my brain/stomach sensors I just increased the vegetable portion of the meal to maintain approximately the same bulk in the belly without adding excess fats or heavy carbohydrates.

3) Substitutions for diet staples was integral to the next stage. Fat Free cheese is better than going completely without regular cheese. Skim milk works just as well in cereal. Fat Free Mayo and Light/ Fat Free dressings used sparingly still give a taste of the good life better than a plain sandwich or salad. Diet soda / fruit juices still provide flavorful drinks without excess sugar. Truvia is a smooth sweetener that works well in fruit salads and homemade hot chocolate. Fat Free Half & Half or Evaporated Milk are still good in coffee. Egg whites with a pinch of salt can hold their own without the yolk (you can fool your brain by adding yellow food dye to scrambled eggs, as well). Low Carb yogurts and sugar free Jello are good for sweet cravings, and Pop chips, Rice cakes, or baked corn chips are excellent for satisfying the salty crunch so many diets forbid.

4) EDUCATION. I didn't get obese on information. I ignored a few classes. I distinctly remember the 12-year old me looking at the low calorie count of a teaspoon of sugar and the zero fat content and thinking that the experts had it all wrong. Sugar has almost nothing in it! It's the other stuff that sugar is mixed in like cookies and candy that makes it high fat and bad for you, right? I ate brown sugar by the cupful, thinking that I was sitting on a goldmine of untapped insight that proved sugar alone didn't affect weight. Ugh. It's a wonder I'm still alive.

As a person with thyroid disease, I had to face up to my egregious misunderstandings about my go-to craving food. Sugar, when ingested, in converted to glucose by the liver which the muscles use for energy. Too MUCH sugar in the bloodstream kickstarts the pancreas to produce INSULIN, which essentially converts all excess sugar into blood fat (triglycerides) which gets stored as fat both in fat cells and, if in large enough amounts, can increase fatty buildup in the veins, arteries, and organs. This is why babies of diabetic mothers who have difficulty controlling their blood sugar are more likely to be bigger and heavier, because the baby is storing the blood fats from all the excess sugar he's sharing with the mother. I might have been less eager to pound down as much sugar as I did if I knew for a fact that I was increasing my blood fat (and consequently body fat) exponentially by doing so.

FAT in the diet is not evil, if you choose the best sources. Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated fats are easygoing in the bloodstream and not as likely to clog it as Saturated or Hydrogenated fats. Simple formula: if it's solid at room temperature, it's going to be solid in YOUR arteries. Liquid at room temperature is liquid in the bloodstream. That's an oversimplification, of course, as even too much liquid fat is still going to be stored as fat if your body doesn't burn it.

5) CHILL THE #&*% OUT. The worst part about traditional dieting is the obsession. Counting calories. Numbers, numbers, numbers. Adding, then re-checking. Standing on the scale at all times of the day. Wearing out the measuring tape to see if that half inch is coming off. Watching the clock religiously while exercising to make sure you hit that 30 - 45 minute mark every time. Feeling pure panic whenever you're not sure how many calories are in something, or that the one extra bite you took has just undone your entire day. It's absolute misery. Calories have their place in the world, but it's far from an exact science, and it's pointless to pretend that any system of counting them outside of a lab is foolproof.

It's worth knowing how many calories would be needed to maintain your desired weight, but portion sizes are a better and more visible marker for keeping tabs on your overall input than numbers on a box or in (God help us) a calorie counting book. I have realized more than once that calorie counting can actually encourage one to eat MORE, even when one doesn't want to, because if I was under my daily calorie intake quota I had set for myself, I used to eat my way up to that number so I wouldn't feel like I had cheated myself out of those precious remaining calories. Absolutely ridiculous behavior.

I cast a casual eye over calorie content to make sure that serving sizes for a snack don't have an astronomical number like 400 calories or something, but I otherwise I couldn't tell you how many calories exactly I eat a day, and that's a glorious feeling.

6) HUNGER NATURALLY FLUCTUATES. Our culture really tries to put a vise grip on this truth and suppress it, but it's just another part of being a living eating being. Some days are hungry days, some days are "meh" days, and we don't always know which one it's going to be. Sometimes we females get the munchies when the monthly cycle is approaching. Lack of sleep can spike the appetite. Sudden stress can (and I don't know how) sap the blood sugar and cause it to drop, prompting instant and demanding cravings. Hard work, and even thirst, can bring about the sensation of hunger.  There are just going to be days when you want to say "the heck with it. I'm eating ALL of this!" And that is totally fine. For THAT day. Chances are you won't be as hungry the next day anyway after all that. Hunger tends to mean "weakness" for dieting alumni, which is only an example of how much a human being can deceive her/himself with abusive mantras and faulty logic. Hunger is a demand for action, whether that be eating, drinking, or sleeping. It's another means the body uses to regulate its functions.

NOW: There is a DEGREE of self-governing that would do well to be kept in place most of the time. My lifetime of binges and gorging have branded me with the automatic tendency to want to eat mindlessly, especially when I'm tired and just feeling too lazy to do things properly (the #1 most seductive excuses for a pig-out. I guarantee you that if you find yourself thinking of a mega-feast or fast food every time you're tired, you'll find that yourself feeling tired A LOT.). Have backup plans in mind for those days. Healthy meals that don't require a lot of preparation. Holidays and birthdays, so long as they are not in excess of more than twice in a month, can be "feast" days within reason, which is to say don't make yourself ill "catching-up" on gooey foods. We only taste the first and last bite of most things, anyway, so make the most of that.

7) I'm no expert. I lost 75 lbs. the first year and 15 lbs. the second. I had more weight to lose the first year than the second, as well. At 159, I'm only 19 lbs off from my original weight of 140. I don't know if I'll get there, but it's getting better.



Beginning a Low Cholesterol Regimen

Nov 26, 2012 - 0 comments
Tags:

low cholesterol

,

Low

,

Cholesterol

,

Life

,

family

,

food

,

beginning

,

ornish



More of a personal note to me, this marks the day when, after a family meeting on the subject, we all agreed to take on the Dean Ornish Spectrum Program to reduce cholesterol.

As there is a stroke patient and a kidney patient in the same house, one over sixty and the other over seventy, as well as myself, a thyroid patient with a 20 year history of angina attacks and chest pressure, somehow the stars aligned to make another change for all our sakes today.

I was under the impression that we weren't eating too badly before: with plenty of lean chicken and fish with the occasional 93% lean beef patty while cooking sparingly with canola or olive oil. There were signs, nonetheless, that even THIS regimen wasn't good enough. One patient developed severe halitosis, the other had the odd bout with chest pressure or vertigo, and BOTH fell prey to constipation on a fairly regular basis. My own chest pressure and pains coupled with gallbladder distress, especially after eating, could make life very difficult and miserable.

So, it's time to reevaluate our daily kibble, meal for meal, and make some exchanges for plant-based foods and see how far we get.

Weight Tracker

Fresh Recipe for Progress

Jul 18, 2011 - 1 comments
Tags:

recipe

,

Recipes For

,

progress

,

Health

,

Heart

,

Heart Disease

,

Cholesterol

,

Diet

,

diets

,

food

,

choices

,

healthy

,

guidelines



While eliminating just about anything containing simple sugars/table sugars from my diet did in fact cause my weight to drop pretty darned quick...as healthy as that might have been, it was not realistic for ME. I also found to my dismay that when I DID eat sugar, the horrible pancreatic pain I used to get after eating a meal was greatly reduced---probably in part to the fact that sugar helps move things through the digestive tract faster, and why gastric bypass patients are advised to be wary of that effect. I am NOT a gastric bypass patient, though if I had the money I might have considered it more: meh, not really. I can't convince myself to be that stupid to imagine that my emotional eating would ever be trumped by a small, but elastic stomach.

I clearly have a number of medical problems, and whether they stem from the longstanding effects of having had hypothyroidism without knowing it for a few years too long, or if there's another issue in the works, I don't know. My right ankle bone has been painful and inflamed for no reason at all for the last few weeks, and my insomnia is still going strong.

History has taught us in America that after the advent of the "Four Food Groups" was pushed out to the public in the 50's, people gladly took on the extra meat and dairy in the assurance that they were doing themselves a world of good. The medical community, however, noticed an immediate and drastic spike in incidences of heart disease and cancer---a trend that has remained until this day. During WWII, because of rationing, the British weren't allowed to eat meat every day of the week, and often grew their own vegetables in their little backyard gardens. Sugars and oils were also among the things severely restricted. Once the restrictions were lifted, the national waistline soon expanded. And here we all are now...gaining weight every year, supposedly eating healthier than before, yet in actuality are nowhere near a healthy diet.

A lot of introductions to foods have made weight loss nigh on impossible for most. Hydrogenated oils (fats with hydrogen passed through them to make them solid at room temperature and to increase their shelf life), tropical oils (highly saturated fat oils like coconut, cocoa butter oils, and palm oils) and corn syrups (just high concentrations of sugar packed in smaller boxes). Of the three, the hydrogenated and tropical oils are definitely the offenders that can cause some of the meanest damage.

I am a PCA (personal care attendant) and currently am looking after two men in their 60's. Both have to watch high blood pressure and cholesterol. High blood pressure can be triggered by high sodium, high saturated fat content, caffeine, medications, kidney problems, and even large amounts of sugar. Cholesterol of course is directly in line with saturated fat consumption (fat you can see at room temperature continues to look that way in the arteries, just FYI). Though I am not officially a nutritionist, I have had to become one by proxy because the health of my patients darned well depends on what I feed them at the table!

Result: the older patient, who has survived a massive stroke a year ago, has perfect blood pressure (without medication!) and good cholesterol levels and has maintained a 15 lb weight loss for a year.
The second patient, who is wheelchair bound from cerebral palsy and who also has a hiatal hernia with severe acid reflux disease, is able to go day after day almost forgetting that he has a stomach problem---a mindboggling contrast to the way he was nine years ago when he was going through a bottle and a half of TUMS every week just to be able to talk for 30 minutes without throwing up!

My patients eat much better than I do, which is why their weights were fine and mine was skyrocketing back to blubberville. When I finally agreed to treat myself as well as I treat them, the weight has once more begun to drop.

Here's the main gist of changes:

Sodium content of anything should not go much more than 400mg if possible. (1/4 TSP of salt is over 600mg of sodium. DAMN!)
Saturated fat keep around 4 grams per serving or less.
Fresh cut steamed vegetables are the BOMB: we try to have vegetables with at least two meals a day.
Fruit is not expensive if you catch the sales: three pieces of fruit gives natural sugar for the first half of the day.
Learn to reduce deli meats: They are salt blocks and can also be high in saturated fats. Choose your brands carefully and fill sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and lowfat cheese to bulk up the meal.
Ground turkey: at least 85% lean or better. Ground beef: 90% lean. Steaks: just about anything described as "round" or "loin", but pick the cuts that have the least visible fat regardless.
Cereals and Grains: whole grain breads now come in white, so it's a good sub for regular white. Cereals need to have a fiber content of at least 3 or better to do you any good. Might get away with 2, but make sure sugar isn't the main feature of the cereal.
Dairy: skim milk is of course ideal, but 1% can also get you by. Light ice creams, sherbets, and cheeses are a good compromise since there's still enough fat to be filling. Ice creams need to be watched carefully, because some manufacturers sneak hydrogenated oils or tropical oils in some of their flavors: notably Rocky Road and anything with fudge chunks or chocolate chunks in it. Add chocolate syrup at home:)
Potato chips can still be enjoyed: "Kettle" brand now makes baked chips with 65% less fat in a variety of flavors and the sodium is less than other brands. Good crunchy snack to go with a sandwich, fruit, and veggies for lunch!
Hot dogs? Look to the smaller ones, and probably the ones made from Turkey, because more often than not these little dudes are bursting with sodium and saturated fat in ONE link.
Eggs can be enjoyed without the yolks by firming them up slightly with a tablespoon or so of 2% evaporated milk mixed in when pan-frying them (preferably in a non-stick pan with PAM cooking spray)
Sugar? This is the judgement call many consumers have trouble making and a loophole for many diet food companies. Some claim that sugar doesn't harm the body any further than rotting the teeth. People like me know by experience that adding extra sugar, like eating a fat-free fudge bar instead of a nectarine, tends to make the body think that I'm trying to GAIN weight, especially if I try to replace fruit sugars with more fun dessert and snack sugars.

Companies like SlimFast & Weight Watchers understand that sugar is more fun than fruit, and they encourage us to think that it's OKAY to have ice cream instead of fruit salad, because sugar is sugar no matter where it comes from, right? Uh, no. Fail. Fruit sugars take longer to process because of all the fiber and other good stuff the body has to get through to get to it. Table sugar, honey, and syrups have no buffer, so it's like a shot glass of instant sugar. Right here, right now. Instant fat, too, for people like me who eat it.

That being said, I've already been through trying to avoid sugar entirely, and have found that while the weight did drop pretty quickly, it made it harder to live socially. Forget the holiday season. That's what got me. I went running back to sugar like a soldier on shore leave once I stared long enough at the Halloween candy basket that everyone was picking out of but me. Soon I was nearly bathing in brownie batter and ice cream by Thanksgiving, and it was all over by Christmas. I was back at square one.

My advice to ME: dessert is still okay, but not as a meal, and certainly not as a constant replacement for proper food. Ice creams are light, and chosen carefully so that they don't include saturated fats or tropical oils. Chocolate, with its fat-packing cocoa butter oil, is eaten very rarely...like once a month or less. Sherbets are fun and come in interesting flavors that often taste good with chocolate syrup or coffee grounds on top. Main change in dessert: keep it to slightly less than the size of a fist if it's ice cream and don't opt for seconds. Wait 15-20 minutes before deciding if one is hungry enough to go for ANY seconds.

Include at least ONE bottled water somewhere in the day. Water accomplishes things that diet sodas, coffees, and teas do not. Don't know what it is, but it does.