Calories Still Matter

Monday, September 25, 2017

I know, I know, weight fluctuates and it isn't a good indicator of progress.  However I am one of those people who weighs daily.  I don't get very emotional towards the number, it is just a good indicator of movement in the right direction.  If I am emotional about anything, it is with myself and being mad about overeating.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on my mood, it is rarely a mystery when I weigh more than the day before.

Ketogenic dieting along with intermittent fasting is pretty great because counting calories isn't necessary.  You just forgo your carbs and only eat in your 8 hour window, and things take care of themselves.  Weight will literally melt off of you faster than you can imagine!

I weighed myself this morning, and I was 275.4 pounds coming out of the weekend.  Weekends are usually not great because we eat out a bunch, I don't skip breakfast on Saturdays and I don't drink nearly enough water, but I'm never up by 2+ pounds.  I can't even blame any feminine situations, as I am two weeks from dealing with any of that.  I know what is the cause of this.  It is sugar free Russell Stover and halo top ice cream.  I was singing their praises days ago, but I think I am going too far with the indulgences.  

Russell Stover sugar free and Halo Top are great tools to have in your arsenal against weight gain.  However I think it is important to acknowledge that your unhealthy patterns are still just that.  I think when you start out, it is good to replace your habits with better choices.  Eating a bag of sugar free candy is better than eating a bag of snickers, that is just math.  However eventually you need to come to terms with the fact that eating a whole bag of candy in one sitting isn't normal or healthy.  

I don't know if I have a binge eating problem exactly, but I do find comfort in eating until I am full.  I feel warm and satisfied, and I feel like things within my brain chemistry are rewarding me as well.  Knowing this about myself, I need to be careful about what I put in my system.  Eating halo top until I am full isn't a carb-free endeavor.  I haven't researched the science behind what you can subtract out of the total carb count to stay in the keto zone, but halo top has 7g of literal sugar in a serving of my favorite cookie dough flavor.  That needs to be saved for a 'sometimes' treat, not every night and twice on weekends.  Plus all of these things add up.  Two sugar free candies are 150 calories, and I know I have polished off a small handful on the course of a Saturday.  That is basically an extra meal I am not accounting for, and the scale is showing it.  I need to get this train back on the rails.  

I was hoping by #weighinwednesday that I would be 272.something so I can officially be at my first milestone and take my reward day off from work, but I don't know if 2.5 pounds in two days is reasonable.  I want to try and cut back on the fake sweets this week, ramp up the water intake, and better stick to the noon-8pm eating window.  I've gotten too loose with that as well.  It would be so very awesome to end the month of September in the 260's.  Time to crush it!

Knowing and Beating My Patterns

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

This is only the 84th time I have tried losing weight once and for all.  It is an understatement that I've been around the diet block a few times.  I was getting to a point of frustration with myself where I just wanted to cry any time I thought about losing weight.  I knew I needed to get the pounds off.  I knew my life's hopes and dreams were at least partially hinged on me getting this weight problem under control.  Things like a shot at having children, a better job and career, friendships, and fitting in regular sized clothes.  I cried out of frustration because I just knew the same approach I had tried time after time was never going to work.  Motivation never lasts, and after a week of eating salads or hitting the gym, I want to give up.  I can never stay in control long enough to make a real difference in my size.  Short of wiring my jaw shut, there was no hope for me.  So I cried.

When you go on diets off and on for most of your life, you start thinking that you know a lot about how to diet.  It isn't rocket science to know that grilled chicken and vegetables will yield weight loss results on a long enough timeline and the opposite with a diet of mostly cheeseburgers and fries.  My frustration never stemmed from a lack of nutrition knowledge, or inability to think of fun ways to exercise.  It was a frustration stemmed in just not wanting to do it.  I don't want to eat healthy because that food sucks.  I don't want to exercise because it hurts, and it is just embarrassing to be a fat person exercising.  It takes time and energy I don't want to give.  I knew if I managed to eat healthy and exercise for a long enough time to reach a normal weight, there would be no relief.  I'd have to eat healthy and exercise forever.  When I eventually stop I will just get fat again.  So what's the point?

Maybe it was some sort of immaturity on my part paired with a straight-up lack of discipline.  Eating what I wanted, as much as I wanted and being lazy/sedentary make me happy.  I enjoy these things.  They might even be my favorite things in a day.  Retiring to the couch for some reality TV and a bag of candy, does life get much better?  (Thoughts of a sick and sad person, I know!)

I gave lots of thought to my situation and how I could change.  I knew that the way to success for me was going to be to not rock the boat too much.  Anything too far from my normal routine and comfort levels was going to knock me back to square one, leaving me frustrated and defeated for the umpteenth time.  I needed to understand my starting point.  I outlined my comfort zone of a diet in a previous post and my patterns include:

1. I am a fast food junkie
2. I am a fast food junkie
3. I am a fast food junkie
4. I feel deserving or needing of a 'treat' extremely frequently
5. I like easy, efficient and fairly inexpensive solutions to feeding myself
6. The way I evaluate and justify food choices is nuts.  I never look at the big picture, but at what makes me the most happy right now.
7. I use work and having the 9-5 job as an excuse to take the easy route with food
8. I don't think anything I did was healthy in the slightest, yet I was under the impression that this 'wasn't that bad' of a way to be eating.

What can I learn?  What will make following the low carb/ kept plan easier?  

1. Saying yes (for now) to fast food
2. Saying yes to treats
3. Saying yes to cheap, efficient, and easy meals
4. Not worrying about the big picture (for now)
5. Give myself grace - I am a busy person and don't have the energy for an elaborate dinner every night, and I forgive myself.
6. Keep the impression that what I'm eating isn't that bad.  Is it ideal? Never.  But if I am losing weight, then I need to just take the win.

Usually when I start a new diet and am so excited for my new life, fast food is the first to go.  Fast food and health do not coexist.  Again, from my previous post we see that it isn't unusual for me to eat 15 of the 21 of my total meals away from home.  (I'm ignoring the fact that eating out so frequently is insane.)  I am who I am, and I will say yes to eating take out.  My options are limited, but I don't feel like my world is turned upside down and I never get to leave the kitchen.  Since I am only doing lazy keto, I am not very strict on eating breaded protein or negligible amounts os sugar in sauces and dressings.  So lunch every day is either chicken nuggets or a bunless burger from McDonalds, or a cobb salad from Chick-fil-a.  I don't need to concoct smoothies or bake kept bread for a sandwich...just show up to work with lunch money and I can make it work.

I did cut down my food bill and calorie count substantially with intermittent fasting.  I'm so used to overeating that I don't even know what hungry really feels like.  So I started cutting out breakfast and just having coffee in the morning.  I don't really miss it at all, and I get a healthy appetite in the hour or two before lunch time.  I probably compensate the calories by eating a bigger lunch and being quite snackish after dinner, but I am seeing results!  

Cheap efficient and easy includes take away food as #1.  Also for now I stopped caring so much if we eat the same stuff on repeat while I'm getting into the groove.  We usually have chicken + vegetable side, some sort of sausage and cabbage creation, steak + vegetable side, breakfast for dinner, keto pizza.  Sometimes I will find a recipe to get excited about and switch things up.  I don't mind this routine so far, and weight does my other half.  

I round the evening off with some sugar free russell stover candy or some halo top.  The night must end with a sweet treat!  I've made some keto brownies and keto peanut butter cookies that were pretty great as well.  I am glad I can still have a baking outlet as someone who has given up on carbs.  I am slowing coming around to the humbling realization that a lot of my prejudices against healthy eating and living were wrong.  Carb free meals can be damned delicious.  Sugar free desserts can feel satisfying.  Starving never needs to enter my vocabulary, and I can certainly darken the door of a McDonald's and not feel bad about it.  

The rest is just taking things one step at a time, one meal at a time.  So far I am down 20 pounds for the year and I'm starting to see a waist forming.  I joined a bunch of Facebook groups and started a low carving instagram account and surround myself with encouraging people fighting similar battles against their bodies.  These little things keep adding to my confidence levels.  I feel like I am really conquering my issues and can have the fortitude to follow this through.  I have come to terms with the fact that I just can't go back to eating how I was eating.  My health will suffer and I just don't feel well when I overeat and overindulge on sugar.  I still mourn for those days from time to time, but the future just seems so bright that I hardly get the urge to look backwards.

I hope in time I won't need to rely so much on eating fast food and sweets, but transformation is a process that takes time.  Day by day I am learning how to eat like a normal person, and getting closer to weighing the same as one too.  Believing that change is possible has been the biggest gift I could have ever received, and it is snowballing in a really remarkable way.  I hope my sharing this experience can help you hack your own bad habits and find ways to work around them and achieve your goals.  

A Proper Goodbye

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

At the end of last week, I attended the funeral of my grandfather.  He was a strong and faithful leader of our family, and sharp as a tack until the very end.  He was 88 years old.  I am going to miss him a lot, but I can only feel gratitude for the amount of time he was given on this earth - and time that we got to share with him.

I won't go into a long eulogy for a man you never got to know - plus we are here to talk about weight loss, right?

The services and trip to San Antonio were last Thursday through Saturday.  The situation was stacked against me.  I'm out of my routine AND out of town, so we will be eating out pretty much the whole time (not that all the eating out is super different from my regular life).  I am sad and feeling all the feelings which make me not want to worry about what I am eating nor the quantity.  Lastly - San Antonio has really good food.  Food that would make for a worthwhile cheat weekend for sure.

But Wednesday night as I gathered my things and tried on all my dresses to see which one seemed best, I thought - wow, these all fit nicely.  My shape is changing even though the pounds haven't exactly come off as quickly and I have a waist, sort of.  What a shame that I will be gone for a few days, eat all the tamales and puffy tacos I can get my hands on, and have a new 5 pounds to lose come Monday.  That fact got me down.  I just finally got my weight back on track from when we went to see grandpa over Labor Day weekend.  Then I thought, wait a second.  If I eat poorly on Thursday then I will be puffed out and bloated on Friday and maybe my dress wont fit so great after all.  Troubled by all these considerations, I loaded my purse with several packs of cocoa roasted almonds and sugar free chocolate and thought to myself, 'I can at least stay off carbs for Thursday'.

So we traveled Thursday and I ate the egg and sausage out of a breakfast croissant, I ate nuggets and a bunless burger as usual for lunch.  We went to Oscar's taco house, which has the best puffy tacos on God's green earth.  I had a bowl of tortilla soup sans tortilla strips, and 1 singular puffy taco - which would be my only splurge of the weekend.  It was glorious.  I got to taste a taco and really enjoy it - but I stayed in control.  I indulged intelligently.

After the success of Thursday, the rest of the weekend was easy to navigate.  I was so proud of the smart choices I made just the day before that I wanted to repeat the feeling.  It is nice to have those thoughts about something positive instead of 'I liked the feeling of stuffing myself with all those puffy tacos, let's repeat that feeling with barbacoa today'.

There is something to be said for self efficacy.  Sometimes we believe so deeply that we are unable to do things that we will sabotage ourselves in order to prove ourselves right.  In my case, no sabotage was ever necessary, I just wouldn't have even tried.  My inner monologue tells me, I can't possibly travel and eat reasonably, that is so much to even ask.  I'm out of town, let the free eating begin!

I don't know if it is low-carb and keto that is just working so well for me, or perhaps I have a more matured perspective about food and its direct correlation to my health outcomes.  I just feel like something is truly changing within me, and I am so grateful to say goodbye to that girl who was a slave to food and her never satisfied appetite.

I am feeling really proud of myself going into this week.  If I can pass up the three tacos plate at Oscar's, who knows what my limitations are??  I may just beat this weight problem at long last!


Okay, I was wrong, Now what?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I discussed how my ways of eating and not exercising were wrong in my last post. Now what?  I accept my wrongness, I have forgiven myself for all the years of 'abuse' I have put my system through.  Now it is time to move forward.

I took an honest inventory of my eating habits and asked 'why?' like an endlessly curious 5 year old.  I am speaking in past tense here, but I am speaking of the time period of adulthood through 2016, and parts of the current year when I have gotten off track from calorie counting.

I go to McDonalds every morning.  If I am being good, I get an egg mcmuffin and a large diet coke.  If I am treating myself, I get a bacon egg and cheese biscuit and a large diet coke.  During the worst of times, I would get a bacon egg and cheese biscuit AND a sausage egg and cheese mcgriddle with a large hazelnut iced coffee.  I distinctly remember the 'hell yeah, this is going to be awesome!' feeling as the bag was being handed to me through the window.  Now I think back and am like wow, are you serious?

So why? Why was this the morning routine?  It is easy, the drive thru is a 5 minute stop on my way to work, I don't even need to make a left turn to roll through there.  I don't have to get up much earlier, and it isn't any real strain on my budget.  I get a nice hot breakfast instead of some grab and go packaged processed food I'd have at home.  Plus this is protein - if I ate oatmeal or cereal at home, that is all carbs.  (See how convincing I can be?  lol)

Lunch at work is almost always fast food.  The few times I brought my lunch were never consistent and half the time my 'lunch from home' was restaurant leftovers from the night before - so not exactly health food.  At best, I'd bring snacks from home - something sugary, maaaaaybe a piece of fruit, and had a freezer stocked with lean cuisines that I'd eat through the week.  At worst, Little Caesars $5 lunch combo which is over 1500 calories of deep dish pepperoni pizza.  If not that, then a value meal always with an ice-cream or dessert.  I mean heck, sometimes I would pick a lunch spot I don't normally care for just because they have good dessert.

Why was this my lunch, I asked myself?  A good lunch will keep me full until dinner.  Prepacking lunches is so much planning and I never want to get up earlier in the morning to pack a lunch.  Plus I want to eat a hot lunch, pb&j isn't going to be satisfying.  Deli meats and prepackaged snacks aren't any more healthy than grabbing a burger.  Plus having a nice treat helps me get through the work day.

Dinner is my saving grace.  Dinner is the healthful meal because not only am I feeding myself, but also Aaron.  Let me tell you, Aaron loves to eat just as much as I do, and it is a rare day when I don't get the 'what's for dinner?' text before even lunchtime.  I love cooking and trying new recipes.  I love recreating dishes we love from restaurants or trips we've taken.  I love making Aaron his favorite things and seeing a near licked clean plate when I've really nailed it and made a great dish.  I don't like putting boundaries on dinner.  It feels like it is 'our time' together as a couple, unwinding from the day.  Dinner and bad TV were the catalysts to us falling in love, lol.  It is the canvas I try to turn into a masterpiece, and it is a daily love letter to my spouse.  So we pretty much eat anything, but I make sure we have a side of vegetables - that counts as healthy, right?

Let's think about dinner?  Truth be told, I don't think a lot of thoughts about dinner in a personal health sort of way.  I think about what sounds good, what haven't we had in a while, and what I have on hand.  I let my stomach be my guide - maybe this week I want enchiladas and roasted chicken, and the next I want paella and hot dogs.  There is no rhyme or reason other than I fancy myself a pretty good cook, so I want to be able to showcase and grow my talents.  Also, we get takeout 1-2 times a week usually.

The day ends with dessert.  This really feels like a non-negotiable part of who I am.  I will leave it at that.  End of day binges on treats will be a post for another day...

Oh, and the weekends - let us not forget about those.  I tend to think of the weekends as time to be footloose and fancy free, if you will.  I worked hard all week, after all.  We typically eat out all weekend and I will cook a good Sunday supper type meal on Sunday nights.  Someone will go pick up fast food breakfast or we will take a trip to IHOP or a super yum crepes place down the road.  We either have a big lunch or a big dinner, and eat fast food for the other meal.  If I am in the kitchen on the weekends, it is because I am baking something.  Usually cookies or a cake.

That was my diet.

What patterns can I see, having this all out in front of me?

1. I am a fast food junkie
2. I am a fast food junkie
3. I am a fast food junkie
4. I feel deserving or needing of a 'treat' extremely frequently
5. I like easy, efficient and fairly inexpensive solutions to feeding myself
6. The way I evaluate and justify food choices is nuts.  I never look at the big picture, but at what makes me the most happy right now.
7. I use work and having the 9-5 job as an excuse to take the easy route with food
8. I don't think anything I did was healthy in the slightest, yet I was under the impression that this 'wasn't that bad' of a way to be eating.

Am I missing anything?

Next steps will be hacking the patterns, stay tuned!


Admitting you were wrong

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I am only about twenty pounds into my weight loss journey, but I have to say, things feel different this time.  It is not a new concept that I think about losing weight all the time. The different things that led me to where I am now, trying to connect the dots to better understand myself and thinking in general about human bodies and how they work occupy a lot of my mental energy.

Allow me to digress for a moment and say that human behavior and our mindsets/habits are an endless ocean of fascination for me.  I am analytical at heart, so I just want to figure everyone out, learn why they do what they do, and harness this information to solve problems.  Deep down, my wish, not only for myself but for everyone, is to live authentically fulfilling and joyful lives.  The problem seems to be that a lot of the time we (our patterns, our ways of thinking, etc.) get in the way.  I want to bridge the gap between where I am at and what I want in all areas of my life.

So as I stated - things feel different this time, so I wanted to dig a little deeper and see if I could figure a theory as to why.  A thought came to me several weeks ago and it has really stayed with me.  I meditated on it quite a bit and it began to make more and more sense.

I was wrong.

Three simple words that really sting.

I'd like to spend a few moments on the notion of cognitive dissonance.  For us non-psychology majors, cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel mentally when our thoughts/actions are out of alignment with one another.  The harshest term for such a thing might be hypocrisy.  Actually, hypocrisy is when you can bypass the feelings of cognitive dissonance and freely choose to not practice what you preach.  Cognitive dissonance is the vegetarian eating a hamburger, and hypocrisy is more the 'vegetarian' who always has hamburger breath telling everyone they ought to be vegetarians.  Cognitive dissonance causes us to lie to ourselves, or make excuses for things we shouldn't.

We want to be logically consistent in our thoughts, as it is human nature and how we function within the world.  Our choices and behaviors will align with who we think we are.  We have thoughts about who we are as people, and we do what it takes for those to hold true.  For example - I am a generous person.  I believe this to be true about myself.  We just experiences a city and life altering event for so many people - hurricane Harvey.  I don't need to go into detail for you to know many people lose everything, and a lot of people could use help.  The cognitive dissonance is what I feel when I know I am a generous person, yet I haven't given to one go fund me or relief effort yet.  And here are the ugly and embarrassing lies and excuses I've told myself: 1. my budget is a little tight this week, I will totally donate after payday 2. there has been such an outpouring of generosity from all ends of the earth, maybe they don't need my help 3. how do I know people really need my help -  what if they have great insurance and just being opportunistic, I only want to give to the most truly needy 4. I don't want to just give to a big organization, I'd rather help actual neighbors and places I trust.

I tell myself those things because I don't want to face the fact that I am not as generous a person as I give myself credit for being.  Since telling myself these excuses, I have since known of an old friend's sister, a cousin's mother in law, an employee of our sister company, 30 families that belong to our church, and my high school alma-mater - all have lost their homes or asked for help in some way.  I have done nothing, and I should be am ashamed.  

So cognitive dissonance - we all do it/experience it to different degrees.  I know I, and probably most overweight and frustrated people do it a lot.  I tell myself that I will do better tomorrow, because I am a person who is optimistic and can meet goals - but only when I am ready.  Tomorrow I will be ready.  I tell myself that eating fast food for lunch every day is fine because I usually have a healthful dinner.  This mental talk becomes a whole arsenal of lies and excuses that eventually leave you dumbfounded as to why you are even overweight - because you are doing everything right.  (ha!)

Well what I did was a separated my feelings about myself and how I do things from the facts of the matter.  That is when I could draw no further conclusions.  The way I eat and live my life is wrong.

Being wrong sucks.  I would go so far to say that for me, it is one of those internal things I think about myself - I am not wrong.  The times I am wrong are merely misunderstandings or my reply was based on bad information - but I am logical, thoroughly thoughtful/considerate/fair and smart, and basically never wrong.  

But I am wrong about my eating habits and health.  That's all there is to it.  It was like a light bulb went off.  I can't eat the way I used to eat and have a healthy sized body.  

Past times, when faced with my wrongness, I feel angry, and I feel hurt, maybe some denial thrown in there as well.  I don't feel that this time.  I've gotten cozy with the idea that I've been wrong all this time, to where it doesn't affect me in an emotional or getting defensive way.  

I was wrong.  I take ownership and responsibility for making the choices that got my body this big.  It is freeing to not spend the energy on mental gymnastics you need to do in order to justify dessert every night and also ponder why your pants don't fit.  The input equals the output.  

I was wrong.  I like to take a page out of books of people already succeeding at what I'm trying to accomplish.  My mother totally changed how she eats to manage her diabetes with no drugs (get it, girl!) and eats a low carb/paleo type diet.  Even when it is her birthday dinner, she is being mindful of what goes in her body.  Every restaurant meal isn't an excuse to 'be bad' like it is for me.  We took a cruise a couple years ago and hit the buffet on the main deck before grabbing a deck chair and setting sail- they do a big send off celebratory thing with food and music as we leave the shore.  There was a young woman on the chair next to me who was very pretty and a figure to die for.  I recall laughing to myself about her plate vs mine.  Mine was covered with chili dogs, potato salad, pasta salad, chips, giant brownie - because vacation! - and hers was a only a hunk of bbq chicken and beans.  I thought, heh, it is no wonder we each have the figures that we have.  My pre-2017/cheat day eating is a lot of fast food, a lot of sugar and desserts, a lot of eating until I can't eat another bite.  That is not the way a person taking care of their body eats, and I have the extra weight and diabetes to show for it.

I was wrong.  I have reflected, I have taken ownership, I am on a redemptive path.  Now I have a black coffee at breakfast time, eat about 500 calories of a low carb lunch, and about 700-1000 of a low carb dinner and nightly treat.  I am happy with this pattern, and I feel at peace with my body and food and my mental state surrounding it all.  Things definitely feel different this time, and I feel encouraged that I won't go back to my old ways - at least without being totally honest with myself.  

It's been a while

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hey guys.

It has been about 5 months since I last updated, and I feel bad about it despite having a minimal amount of readers.  This blog was meant to keep me accountable, and I haven't been doing great at that, clearly.

What happened was, Easter.  I let go of the reigns to feast and eat candy to my heart's contentment.  Then after eating poorly for a week, we had our trip to Charleston, SC for my younger step-brother's wedding.  I ate my way through Charleston like a champ.  I don't believe in dieting whilst on vacation.  Well soon after was my husband's birthday, then June got away from me, then there was the family beach trip in July.

It's always something, isn't it?

This is not to say that the whole 5 months was a bust, and now I am heavier than ever.  I weighed in this morning at 276.4.

That isn't the lowest weight I've had in 2017 (but getting close(<273 lbs), and when I hit that goal, there will be a reward!) but however much I went off the rails, I managed to get myself back on course.

I am still a giant fan of lazy keto, and I've been doing alright with sticking to it.  The weekends are a struggle, as they always have and always will be.  I will get off track after 3-4 weeks and undo my progress - I know I have gained and lost the same 10 pounds for a while now.  But I will say, when I eat on plan, it totally works, and works well.

From my last weekend + off, I have been about 7 days without a 'cheat day'.  I still haven't been logging my food because I honestly hate it, but maybe I will try to get it together soon.  As long as I keep the downward trajectory, I can't be mad about it.

Since I have been feeling like lazy keto is really the Godsend I've been looking for this whole time, and low carb life is just the way it needs to be for my personal body's needs - I've decided to rename my writing space to 'Cancel the Carbs'.  I hope it better reflects my commitment to following this way of eating for the long haul.  Thank you for following along with me on this journey ❤.