Saturday, December 28, 2013

Resolutions and Results

This blog entry started out as just a quick blurb to go along with an article I was forwarding on Facebook, and quickly morphed into a larger analysis of how this year has gone for me, with regards to my 2013 resolution to lose weight and get healthier.

Here's the full text: Forget Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

The whole article is awesome, and an excerpt that really spoke to me is this:
1. Goals reduce your current happiness.
When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, “I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.”
The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. “Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.”

SOLUTION: Commit to a process, not a goal.

Choosing a goal puts a huge burden on your shoulders. Can you imagine if I had made it my goal to write two books this year? Just writing that sentence stresses me out.
But we do this to ourselves all the time. We place unnecessary stress on ourselves to lose weight or to succeed in business or to write a best-selling novel. Instead, you can keep things simple and reduce stress by focusing on the daily process and sticking to your schedule, rather than worrying about the big, life-changing goals.
When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.
2. Goals are strangely at odds with long-term progress.
You might think your goal will keep you motivated over the long-term, but that’s not always true.
Consider someone training for a half-marathon. Many people will work hard for months, but as soon as they finish the race, they stop training. Their goal was to finish the half-marathon and now that they have completed it, that goal is no longer there to motivate them. When all of your hard work is focused on a particular goal, what is left to push you forward after you achieve it?
This can create a type of “yo-yo effect” where people go back and forth from working on a goal to not working on one. This type of cycle makes it difficult to build upon your progress for the long-term.

 Wow. Yeah... been there, learned that the hard way, and I'm doing my best to keep reminding myself that it's not about the destination, it's about the journey, as clich├ęd as that is. I have a pretty hard head, so I have to keep hammering the idea in.

My journey this year has had it's ups and downs. I've had setbacks with back injuries, weight gain from steroids used to treat said injuries, knee injuries, and my weight doing the yo-yo up and down with various vacations and times I lost my focus. I've made a lot of progress this year, but it's been anything but smooth sailing. Initially, I was only keeping track of my progress by weights and tape measurements. I'd get too hung up on those numbers, and when the pounds and inches weren't coming off as fast as I thought they should be, I'd get incredibly frustrated and discouraged, and I'd lose my motivation.
I lost a nice bit of weight pretty quickly in the first five months or so of 2013, but then the pounds started coming off  REALLY slowly, and my scale progress slowed to a snail's pace. I was counting calories, eating healthy more often than not, and working out, but that promised 2 lb loss per week just wasn't happening, and it was really messing with my mojo. I slipped back a bit, but eventually managed to get myself back on track.
A few months ago, I got the okay from my doc to start the "Couch to 5k" running program. It's supposed to be an 8 week program to take a beginning runner from novice to 5k (or 30 minutes.) I started in late September, and I've had some stops and starts, and two weeks long stints away from home, but I've kept coming back to it, and I'm making good progress. I've gone from not being able to run more than 30 seconds (back in April, when I first started working out again) to running 25 minutes (2 miles!) at a stretch. Whew! I never, EVER thought I'd be able to do that, and the prospect of trying, frankly, terrified me.  I'm slow, and still quite a ways off from completing a 5k run, but I'm still doing it, and still making progress.

I've gotta tell you, I absolutely *hate* running while I'm doing it. It's slow torture. By the end of it, my legs burn, my back hurts, and I feel like I must be absolutely daft to be putting myself through the misery of it all,  but I love how much better my body feels the rest of the time I'm not on the damn treadmill, and it's making some nice changes in my muscle definition.

Now, back to why that article spoke to me. In the past few months, mainly since I started running, I feel like I've been able to shift my focus away from only losing weight, to measuring my progress in multiple areas, and actually feeling good about it, instead of feeling like those measures of progress were just a consolation prize. I made the purchase of a really good scale an ARIA WI-FI SMART SCALE  from Fitbit that measures weight, body fat percentage, and provides the weights for both your lean body mass, and your fat. I LOVE that thing! It automatically syncs my weight and body fat stats with my Fitbit Flex activity tracker, both of which are integrated in the food and activity tracking iPhone app I use from My Fitness Pal. Yeah, I'm a techie kid, and I love tracking my metrics every which way.

I took a break from the gym and my diet plan for the past three weeks over the holidays, and naturally, I gained four pounds back. Now, with the return of those four pounds, my weight is more or less the same it was 4 months ago, but I can still see that I've lost fat and gained muscle, and I've earned some nice definition in my legs that I didn't have before. My back is bothering me less, and it's been more than 4 months since the last time I threw my back out. *Knocks on wood.*  I know I'm healthier, more active, and more fit than I was 4 months ago, even though my weight is the same. If I was only keeping track of my progress by the number on the scale, I'd feel like I was at a standstill and a failure, not accomplishing anything, when I've actually made some pretty damn good progress.

I'd by lying if I said I didn't care about the number on the scale, but going into 2014,  I'm choosing to focus on the process, and trusting that the rest of the details will fall into place in time. For the first time, I have confidence that I can actually make that happen. I've had a nice 3 week break from my routine, my batteries are recharged, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track full throttle come January 1st. I'm giving myself the next few days to get my groceries in place, and refocus on my healthy eating plan, which for me, means morning protein shakes, tracking my food, counting calories/carbs/fat/protein, eating smaller portions,  avoiding sugar, fried food, junk food, simple carbs, and alcohol, and focusing on eating complex carbs, whole grains, lean protein, veggies, and healthy fats. It's what's gotten me this far, and I'm sticking to it. I'm a fan of the South Beach Diet in general for this, and the very restrictive first two weeks of the plan really help me kick the sugar and crap food cravings I always pick up over the holiday season. I'm putting my energy into increasing my endurance while running, and going for distance, rather than speed. I will continue to run 3 days a week, and do non weight bearing cardio the other days to give my feet a rest. I plan to continue to consistently work out 4-5 days a week.

I may or may not ever reach that ever elusive GOAL, whether it's being under 170 lbs, under 30% body fat, or running a 5k, 10k, half marathon or whatever else, but I can, I have, and I will continue to make PROGRESS. I'd hoped to be farther along in my weight loss by now than I am, but my current 239 lbs is a helluva lot healthier than when I started this trip at 284 back in February. I know if I stick to it, in another year, when 2015 comes around, I will be in an even healthier place than I am now.

So, here's to the journey of 2014!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


So, this past Saturday I went to my monthly Nutrition Support meeting. As we were going around the room doing the standard intros of when we had our surgery, how much we've lost, etc... something another woman there said really rubbed me the wrong way. I've lost more weight than she has in less time, and she said "You're so lucky!" I told her right then and there that luck had absolutely nothing to do with it. I've busted my butt and fought for every pound I've lost in the past six months, and I'm still a long way from my goal. I track every calorie that goes in my mouth, and I work hard at being active. I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it, but I feel like attributing any of my success to luck sells all of my hard work short.

The success I've had is the result of a lot of discipline and will power. The fact is, if I want to, I can eat just about anything I want, especially if I take my time, whether it's steak, bread, Cheetos, or ice cream. Some days, all I want to do is lay on the couch eating a mountain of chocolate. Most of the time, I can resist those temptations, but sometimes I give in and I deal with the setbacks they cause.  The issues I have with food didn't magically go away just because I got some restriction in my band. The band helps me eat less, but most of the time, I can still overeat if I choose to. I still have to push myself to get off my ass and go to the gym (which is something I'm working hard at doing more consistently.) I'm building up to four days a week, and my stamina and strength are seeing real improvements. I've lost a total of 41 pounds, and I'm down to 243, which is the lowest I've been in four years. The 230s are on the horizon and I want in! So it's more of tracking on My Fitness Pal, pushing myself harder and harder on the recumbent bike, and climbing uphill on the treadmill. The only way to get there is dedication and hard work. I still doubt myself, and I still wonder if I can really pull this off, but I'm committed to proving to myself that I can do it, one day at a time.

Current weight: 243 lbs, BMI 35.9
Starting weight: 284 lbs, BMI 41.9

Monday, May 27, 2013

How Lap Band works

In case you're not familiar with it, here's a short video about how the band works:

Back on the Band Wagon with LapBand

Hey folks, it's been a good while since I've posted here, and some things have changed with my situation. In the year or so since I was last active on my blog, I allowed my weight to creep back up to about 273 by the beginning of the year. This was due in part to slipping back into bad eating habits, but also because I stopped working out after all of the foot problems I had from overtraining. My feet have gotten better than they were, but the problems are still there. I deal with it as best I can, but it's a constant annoyance. Back in February of this year, I had a very painful incident where I pulled a muscle in my back in such an ugly way that I was laid out for a week. I've never experienced pain like that in my life! My doctor put me on a steroid to help me heal, and in a week, I'd gained ten pounds and landed on the scale at 284lbs.


I called Surgical Weight Control Center up that very day and made an appointment to get a lapband adjustment. I'd been without restriction for more than a year and a half at that point. By the time I got my fill, I'd lost most of the weight I gained from the steroids, and started back on the LapBand Wagon at 275. It's been a learning experience, and I've had to spend some time re-acquainting myself with how to eat as a bandster. I've been working hard at learning how to do things right this time around. In the time I'd been gone, SWCC had stepped their support game and are now offerring weekend support seminars in addition to their weekday evening meetings (which I can't attend due to my schedule.)
I went to a bariatric nutrition 101 seminar in March to get the ball rolling, and I feel like I'm doing things better this time around with a solid nutritional base. I've also attended two of the monthly Nutrition Support meetings, which I enjoy, and I feel like it helps me to stay on track. I'm focusing on lots of protein, 90+ grams a day, veggies, complex carbs, and staying away from junk food. I've been using the MyFitnessPal iPhone app to track my food and excercise, and I've been working on getting active again. I've been doing a recumbant bike for my cardio because my feet are still jacked, and my podiatrist told me to stay away from weight bearing excercise. A little over a week ago, I had a trainer at the gym set me up with a weight routine, and I've been trying to get on program with that. My back and knees have been twingy, so I'm taking things slow and not pushing too hard.

I had a number of band adjustments between February and April, until I got to what feels like a good level of restriction. My last adjustment was on April 8th. Hopefully I won't need to get another one for a few months until I lose substantially more weight. I've had some bumps in the road along the way, but I've been doing pretty well for the most part. I've lost about thirty pounds since I started, and currently weigh less than I have in about three years. A stretchy pair of size 22 jeans that I could barely fasten three months ago are starting to get baggy. In another ten pounds or so, they'll probably be too big to wear. I have a huge pile of clothes, including jeans and capris going down to about a size 18. I don't expect I'll have to buy any pants until the fall, though I'm in desperate need of some new bras now.

My weight loss is slower than I've liked, and I've plateaud here and there, but at least I'm losing. I'd really like to be losing a steady 2 lbs a week, but it's been half that. Still, if I can keep this pace up I'd be in the 220's by my birthday in late October. I've been changing up my routine, after a friend pointed out that I'm probably not eating enough calories. I've bumped them up to about 1400 net calories a day including exercise. Previously, I'd been doing anywhere from 750-1300 net, depending on the day, and not eating back what I'd burned through excercise. We'll see how it goes.

Anyhow, I'll try to keep the updates coming. I'm planning on keeping my posts less formal than before. As fun as those multimedia posts are, they take a lot of time to write, and it's just not as much fun for me if I feel like I'm under the gun.



Current weight: 253 lbs, BMI 37.3
Starting weight: 284 lbs, BMI 41.9