Throwback Thursday: Back to Basics


So after being thrown for a loop last week it’s back to basics. Weight loss and maintenance is easy and hard at the same time. The easy part is that while there are any number of diets or routines you can follow the basic principle is if you burn more calories than you ingest you should loose weight. The hard part is that it’s easier than it sounds. Busy schedules, stress, sometimes medical issues, and a host of other things can make it more challenging.

So in going back to basics I decided to be proactive, which I’m a big fan of in general. When given the choice I will chose pro-action over reaction every time. I know that a low carb and low sugar lifestyle works well for me because when I eat protein, veggies, and healthy carbs I stay fuller longer and have more energy. So I decided to do the 21 Day Sugar Detox. This isn’t really a diet or a cleanse it’s more of a lifestyle reboot. It’s three weeks of eating very low carb and low sugar to help you get rid of those sweet cravings that lead to unhealthy food choices and sugar crashes throughout the day. When it’s done you can still enjoy pretty much any food you want but hopefully you’ll have less of a craving for white flour and sugar filled products.

I’ll admit it’s challenging but I feel great and I’ve dropped 8 pounds. I have a goal to loose 13 more pounds to get back to my pre-slipped band weight and then enter maintenance mode. I am working with a nutritionist and have a support system behind me. I’m not a medical expert so I can’t say if doing this detox would be good for you, but for me this has been the kickstart I’ve needed after last week.

Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople

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Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?

 

Rewarding Yourself

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Yesterday’s post was really hard for me to write and I want to thank the outpour of support I’ve received from friends, relatives, and kind people I don’t know but who read this blog. No matter what the outcome this is going to be a lifelong journey, but honestly I knew that was the case when I made the decision to get a lap band. The lap band was a tool, an amazing tool, but remember even the most expensive wrench will do you no good if the plumber isn’t using it correctly. It was me not my lap band that took up running, yoga, and dragged myself to the gym. It’s true that the band helps you feel fuller faster but it was me not the band who choose to choose a small portion of salmon over a small portion of chocolate ice cream as I was losing weight.

During that weight loss process, I made sure to reward myself for milestones. I’m planning on doing the same with this journey to lose the few extra pounds I put on during the slip and to maintain that weight. I think rewarding yourself is important when you’re striving towards any goal. If you’re not looking to loose weight you may be embarking on an academic or career challenge, perhaps you’re trying to increase your distance as a runner, or maybe you’re just trying to watch less TV. Whatever your goal is you can break it down into smaller goals because you will hit those faster. You should have small rewards in place for when you hit those marks. I like to break things out into quarters as well and give myself a midsize reward when I hit those and I give myself a big reward when I hit my final achievement.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on these rewards if your budget is tight. You just need to make sure the treat is something you really want and something that will keep you motivated towards your end goal. When I was going through this weight loss challenge I never used food as a reward because that seemed counter intuitive. I set myself up with small milestones like losing 4 pounds a month since that averaged to about a pound a week if I hit that goal I’d treat myself to a pass for a new fitness class I was dying to try, a ticket for a movie I’d passed on earlier because I didn’t want to miss a scheduled workout, or a new tube of lipstick.

My quarterly goals were when I hit certain weight loss milestones. By that point I would have dropped a size or two and rather than taking my pants in again, I would treat myself to a new mini wardrobe. When I hit my final weight loss goal I bought myself a fabulous dress that may not be what most people consider expensive but for me, at that time it was an investment.

So to kickstart this new challenge I took myself out for a haircut. I know that seems silly and maybe not like a reward, but I have to say whenever I get my hair done I feel amazing. Amazing is a great way to feel when you embark on a new challenge. What rewards do you give yourself for a job well done?

 

Challenged Not Defeated

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In 2010 pre lap band

I’ve been very open about my struggles with weight and my decision to get a lap band over six years ago. With any type of weight loss surgery, there are risks and you cross your fingers that those complications won’t happen to you. Well, I learned a few months ago that I’m one of the 2-9% of patients who suffer from a band slip. This is when the band slips out of place. It can cause all sorts of complications. This slip probably occurred sometime last year and it is most likely that is what triggered my acid reflux (GERD). My symptoms had gotten worse over the past few months and sometimes eating could be really uncomfortable. I put on a few pounds because I couldn’t digest healthy foods like lettuce, lean protein, and etc. There were days where processed foods and high sugar items were all I could tolerate.

When a lap band slips the common course of action is to have another surgery to reposition it. I was hoping to do that as soon as I found out about the slip, but unfortunately,my current insurance has lots of restrictions around bariatric surgery and wouldn’t approve my surgeon because his hospital isn’t what they consider an “Institute of Quality” for this type of surgery.

So the past few months have been spent working with insurance to see who they would approve for this surgery, going through all the pre-op testing, and having to meet with specialists because of other complications. I’ve always been borderline anemic but my iron levels have been so low that I’ve had to have several transfusions.

Monday I finally went for this long postponed surgery. Unfortunately,when I woke up they had more bad news to break to me. It seems my lap band was totally obstructing my stomach and the only safe course of action was to remove it completely.  This has meant a slightly more painful post op experience than the original surgery, due to the incisions.

The real fear for me though is will I be able to maintain my weight loss without a band. My new surgeon said if I gain weight we can look into getting a gastric sleeve, but after this, I really don’t want to go under the knife again.

While curling into the fetal position and feeling sorry for myself seemed like a good idea at first, I knew I couldn’t do that. I would need to be proactive about this from day one. So in addition to following up with my surgeon post op, I’m also meeting with a nutritionist on a regular basis to come up with an eating and fitness plan that is healthy and doable. I’m also in the process of finding a therapist because I found therapy really helpful when I had my first surgery six years ago.

I pride myself on being a self-sufficient single woman but over the years I’ve learned that there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Yes, I’m disappointed but in all honesty, I don’t regret my decision to get a lap band. I’m determined to take this challenge head on.

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Post weight loss

Throwback Thursday: Fun with Vintage Cookbooks

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I love vintage cookbooks and guides on party entertaining. I’ll admit part of my obsession stems from some of the expectations that were heaped on women as homemakers. Many cookbooks from the 1950s include additional tips like making sure you refresh your makeup before your husband walks in the door and don’t complain about your day because his was worse. I must say I’m grateful not to live with those types of daily expectations. Sexist social norms aside, I do enjoy revisiting some recipes that were once popular, but regarded as kitschy today.  

Last year on a trip to my hometown of Cleveland I spent some time going through my parents’ belongings with my sisters. Among the belongs I ended up taking back to New York were my grandma’s recipe cards. I also took back an assortment of cookbooks and it has been fun trying recipes and planning future dinner parties around them.

The cookbooks cover a wide range. I brought back a Hungarian recipe book and made a cream cheese pound cake that I haven’t had since childhood. I also brought back a cookbook for kids that I bought at a book fair in primary school and my mother’s go to Jello book. I found old cookbooks that were my grandma’s including one on Pennsylvania Dutch dishes and can’t wait to try my hands at shoo-fly pie.  

To add to the collection my sister Esther bought me a copy of the cookbook from a now defunct Cleveland restaurant,The Silver Grille.  It has been fun recreating dressings and dinners I haven’t had since I was a child.

If you don’t have relatives who have saved old cookbooks I recommend hitting up used bookstores and checking out their cooking and entertaining section. You can find some wonderful hidden gems from yesteryear.