Posts Tagged With: weight gain

Diet Detox

Lately, nearly every woman I know has filled me in on some form of “diet detox” they’re currently trying. 

I’ve seen friends and co-workers consume nothing but brown rice for a week and drink vinegar straight from the bottle.  They’ll inform me about wacky drinks they concoct from not-so-appetizing ingredients, or how they’re restricting themselves to nothing but raw vegetables for ten days. 

If they complete this temporary “detox,” they’ll lose a ton of weight and – as a bonus – cleanse their system of poisons and toxins.

In my opinion, the latest trend of diet detoxes and colon cleanses teeter on the edge of absurd.  To cut out alcohol, sugar, or processed foods because you don’t like the way they make you feel is one thing, but the fact that so many women believe that they need to tolerate a gag-inducing juice or starve themselves for a week because they want to drop six pounds is quite another.  Not to mention, there’s no need to worry about flushing toxins from your system – your kidneys and liver already do that!

Here’s why this particular weight loss trend bothers me so much.  Up until now, my entire life has been about deprivation.  Each and every time I decided to start my new “diet,” I attempted to eliminate anything that I truly enjoyed, because suddenly all of my favorite meals and snacks were “too fattening.”  With all of my favorite foods off the table (literally), I had to keep reminding myself over and over again that I was too fat to eat ice cream.

Within a week, I’d start seriously craving all of the foods I declared off-limits.  That’s when I had no choice but to throw my hands in the air, tell myself I’m meant to be big, and dive right into a pint of mint chocolate chip. 

How was I ever going to be able to stick to salads and carrot sticks long enough to lose a significant amount of weight?  It seemed like an unachievable goal, so I figured it was better to live a life where I could enjoy Oreos and french fries from time to time – even if it meant giving up my dreams of being thin and healthy.

I truly believe that these endless cycles of deprivation are what led me to develop such an unhealthy relationship with food.  Diet detoxes, unfortunately, work the same way – they perpetuate the idea that there are foods that are “good” and foods that are “bad,” which leaves us utterly clueless when it comes to striking a balance between nutritional fare and once-in-awhile treats.  Our bodies aren’t “dirty,” and we don’t need to avoid certain foods in order to lose weight; we just need to learn how to eat well most of the time while occasionally incorporating our favorite goodies.

I certainly have science on my side.  When a person successfully loses weight via a diet detox, they are shedding water weight or – worse – lean muscle mass.  The pounds that seem to melt right off when a human decreases their daily caloric intake to nothing more than a couple of glasses of fruit juice can and will pile right back on when they return to their normal eating regimen.  In fact, the weight you’ve lost can return twice as quickly, because your system has shifted into starvation mode and is clinging to any nutrient it can – so your body will now register even the most sensible diet of lean protein, veggies, and whole grains as an awful lot of food! 

I’ve witnessed so many people start these crazy cleanses, genunely believing they were doing something great for their body, only to hit the ‘fridge harder than ever three days later because they felt so deprived. While I certainly don’t advocate scarfing down cheeseburgers and drinking two-liter bottles of soda every night, I also don’t see the need to feel guilty about a visit to Mickey D’s every once in awhile if you make an effort to eat a balanced diet most of the time.  

I made a promise to myself that, this time, I was going to lose the weight without any get-thin-quick gimmicks or crash dieting or starvation. If I had forced myself to stop eating pizza or chinese food, I probably would have finished losing “the final forty” a year ago.  But how successful would I have been in keeping that weight off if I tried to sustain those habits forever?  Just like I’m not willing to blend powdered drinks or pop pills, I’m not willing to cut out something I love just to lose weight faster. 

This time, I’m in it for the long run.  I want to figure out how to enjoy life – which, to me, includes eating cookies and chips! – in a way that allows me to maintain a healthy weight.   And if that takes me a whole lot longer than ten days to accomplish, then that’s fine by me!

(WEIGH-IN UPDATE: Down .6 this Sunday!)

 
Loss to Date: 88.4 lbs
 
 
  
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Gains Happen

At this Sunday’s weigh-in, I was slapped with a 1 lb gain. 

Actually, allow me to rephrase that.  It was a 1 lb undeserved gain. 

In the grand scheme of things, a single pound is nothing.  It’s a measly 16 ounces.  I’ve been at this for more than two years now, so I know better than to get upset by the daily, hourly, and even minute-to-minute fluctuations of my body weight on a scale.  What I weigh at 9am is not the same as what I weigh at 11am, or 3pm, or 10 pm. (And, yes, I have actually weighed myself at all of those times…and have seen my weight fluctuate 5 lbs or more during the course of any given day).

I know from experience that eating canned soup or chinese food affects my weigh-in, the clothes I’m wearing affect my weigh-in, and drinking too much water affects my weigh-in. 

Heck, wearing green or painting my fingernails can make me gain weight.

(Okay, so I’m exaggerating.  But sometimes it does feel as though I could so much as look at a scale the wrong way and have it show a gain. )

When you step on a scale, the number you see staring back at you reflects just one moment in time.  There are dozens of factors that can affect the number in that moment.  You can stick to your weight loss efforts to a “t” and still gain.  You can limit high-sodium foods for two days before weighing yourself, or step on the scale in your skivvies, but there’s still absolutely no way to predict how and when your body will give up its weight.  You can have a great week and gain, or a not-so-great week and lose.

It’s just the way the human body works, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.  All we can do is control what goes into our mouth and how much time we spend engaged in physical activity.

That’s why I try not to get discouraged when I work hard for a week  without any big pay off on weigh-in day.  Granted, it’s frustrating, because it seems to take weeks of eking out .4 or .2 losses to add up to a pound – so to gain one back in a single week is just plain unfair! 

The way I deal with these gains that occur even after a perfectly good “on program” week, as my fellow Weight Watchers might say, is by keeping things in perspective. 

Okay, so I kicked my butt at the gym this week, and stuck to my allotted daily, weekly, and activity POINTS.  In theory, I should have lost.  Maybe I ate something too heavy the night before.  Maybe I’m retaining water.  Or maybe I really didn’t eat as well as I thought I did.  Who knows? 

All I do know I’ll just have to keep trying the best that I can, and hope that my efforts pay off next week.  I could try to do things differently (switch up my workout regimen, for example), or I could take comfort in knowing that it probably was nothing I did or didn’t do…the scale just didn’t work in my favor at precisely 8:30am on Sunday morning.

After losing 90 lbs, fluctuating a pound or two in either direction doesn’t seem like such a big deal.  But for those of you who haven’t lost a significant amount of weight yet, just keep in mind that this is one week of the rest of your life.  That’s seven days.  Your journey to better health is an ongoing process, and you will have weeks where you slip up. 

Losing weight – and keeping it off – is about making better food choices and being more active.  It’s not a week-to-week scale contest.  What’s the rush?  Time is going to pass either way; why not spend it trying your best to be healthier? 

One reason I don’t get disappointed by these hiccups in my weight loss record is that I don’t allow myself to set timed goals (“I’m going to lose 50 pounds by bikini season!”).  I also don’t play games with the scale by starving myself the night before I weigh-in, or stripping down in front of everyone at my Weight Watchers meeting.  It’s just not worth it.

Sometimes I party a little too hard on the weekend and “deserve” a gain, and sometimes they happen unexpectedly, but either way, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that gains will happen, no matter how well I eat or how much I exercise.  All I can do is accept the gain, move on, and keep plugging away at my weight loss goals. 

There’s no turning back now.  If I threw in the towel every time the scale showed that I was up a pound or two, I’d probably still be getting stuck in roller coaster seats and splitting my pants – an utterly humiliating experience that happened more than once, I’m ashamed to say.

That’s why, for me, there is no giving up.  It’s this…or obesity.

(Oh, and for the record, the scale may have shown a gain this week, but my jeans are definitely feeling looser these days.  There are other measures of success!)

Loss to date: 87.6 lbs

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Cookie Monster

Cookies are my one true weakness. 

Chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, Oreo cookies…homemade cookies, store-bought cookies, Girl Scout cookies…drop cookies, rolled cookies, sliced cookies…no matter what form they take, those little pieces of heaven are absolutely irresistible to me. 

When I first joined Weight Watchers, there was a phrase my leader used to describe foods like these: “Red Light Foods.” 

While apples and carrots were classified as “Green Light Foods,” treats like pancakes or cheeseburgers – things you can enjoy occasionally and within moderation – were dubbed “Yellow Light Foods.”  

But the list of “Red Light Foods” is a bit more individualized.  Once you begin indulging in one of these “Red Light Foods,” you know from personal experience that it becomes nearly impossible for you to stop – and those foods are different for everyone.  Some people can’t stop eating until the entire bag of Tostitos is gone.  Meanwhile, I’ve been known to polish off an entire box of Entenmann’s soft-baked chocolate chip cookies in one sitting.

In my world, there’s no such thing as taking just one Christmas cookie and passing the plate.  I just can’t do it.  The moment the last bite of cookie slides down my throat, I find it very, very difficult to stop myself from reaching for another.  And another, and another, and another.

Even if I can practice some restraint and limit myself to just one or two, I continue to think about that pile of cookies and wish I could have just one more, while staring longingly at everyone else as they enjoy theirs.

…sick, isn’t it?

It should then come as no surprise that while I have a hard time boiling spaghetti, and I somehow manage to burn everything from popcorn to toast, my one epicurean specialty is the sugar cookie.  My homemade cookies are always crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and baked until the perfect shade of brown because I’ve already taken the liberty of devouring those I deem too imperfect to present to my friend, boyfriend, or family member. 

Last Valentine’s Day, I forgot all about Weight Watchers and proceeded to shovel dozens (no exaggeration) of broken, misshapen, or slightly burned heart-shaped cookies down my throat, so my boyfriend would only ever see my perfectly sprinkled masterpieces…and I would have a legitimate excuse to gorge myself on cookies.

(Needless to say, this Valentine’s Day, he was handed a box of Godiva chocolates).

Last night, as I was leaving someone’s house, they presented me with a little Valentine’s Day ziplock bag stuffed with mouth-watering chocolate chip cookies.  Straight from the oven, the bag was still warm in my hand, and the aroma was utterly intoxicating. 

I politely thanked her for the offering, and she then went on and on about how she was baking cookies for her students at the local elementary school.  But I could hardly hear her, because I was in the midst of a heated debate with myself.  I was too busy listening to the little voices in my head argue over whether or not I should go ahead and dive into that bag of cookies the second I get outside.

“I went for a run today, but I’ve already consumed all of my daily POINTS.  I have my weekly POINTS remaining, but shouldn’t I save them for my dinners out this weekend?”

“I can have just one.   I’ll save the rest for another time.”

“No, I can’t.  It will be too hard to stop until they’re all gone.”

“Nobody will ever have to know if I eat them in the car.”

“I could give them to my parents, but let’s face it…they don’t need the extra calories, either.”

“She was nice enough to give these to me.  What if she asks me how they were next time I see her?”

“It’s such a shame to waste them.  They’re fresh from the oven.”

“Maybe I should throw them out.”

“Maybe I should give them to the dog.”

“How about just one bite, just to see if they’re even worth the trouble?”

“Should I…or shouldn’t I?”

And ’round and ’round we go.  Over a stinkin’ little flattened ball of baked dough. 

I only wish I were exaggerating.

It’s my firm belief that those who are trying to lose weight should never deliberately deprive themselves of anything.  Long-term weight loss and maintenance depends on the ability to sustain your new healthy habits for life.  I’m not willing to spend four hours in the gym to keep my weight off, so why would I do so now while I’m trying to lose it? 

In the same regard, I know that I’ll never succeed at living a cookie-less existence for the rest of my time on this planet, so it’s futile to attempt cutting them out of my diet now.  Everyone knows that the moment you declare a particular food forbidden, you simply crave it even more…and, for me, that means late-night binges on an entire sleeve of Thin Mints and a tall glass of milk. 

So while I would never declare cookies entirely off-limits, I do know that I have to exercise extreme caution when they’re around.  For me, they are the true definition of the “Red Light Food” – an item that you don’t have to deprive yourself of entirely, but that you should pass on most of the time to avoid the urge to overindulge.

In the end, I took the ziplock bag and shoved it in the back of crisping drawer in the refrigerator, underneath a bag of oranges.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Maybe I’ll plan to have one after dinner one night this week, or as a snack over the weekend.  Or maybe I’ll end up giving them away or throwing them in the garbage.

Either way, I just have to remember that I am in control, and as delicious as I’m sure they are, the cookies are just not worth it.

Oh, and here’s some more good news.  Sunday’s weigh-in clocked me in at 1.2 pounds down!

 

Loss to Date: 88.6 lbs

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Where I Went Wrong

I’m finally ready to admit why I stopped losing weight.

My first year on my healthy lifestyle, and the pounds were dropping like crazy.  I was trading in my size 18s for 16s, then 14s for 12s, and finally 10s for my very first pair of “single-digit” jeans in a matter of months.  I was hitting the gym every single day, like clock-work, and meticulously keeping track of every morsel of food that passed my lips.  I was working the Weight Watchers program to a
“t,” and my rapid weight loss proved it.  I was on top of the world.

And then, 2009 happened…and as you fine readers probably know by now, I got stuck.  Plateaued.  Leveled out.  Whatever you want to call it, I just stopped losing weight.   My progress last year consisted of a half-pound loss followed by a one pound gain, followed by another half-pound loss, and then a .2 pound gain.  For weeks and weeks and weeks on end, that’s the game I played with the scale.  Up, down.  Plus, minus.  Gain, loss.  I kept telling myself that as long as I didn’t give up, that it was going to be okay…I’d start losing again eventually.

But then an entire year flew by.  To be honest, I even allowed a few pesky pounds to creep back on.  And that’s when I really had to start thinking about what I was doing wrong.  Yes, it definitely gets more difficult to shed pounds as your body shrinks smaller and smaller, but surely someone with another 40 pounds to lose shouldn’t be struggling this much.  Right?

It only took me this past week or two to come to terms with reality. 

In 2009, I got cocky.  I was prancing around with a 90+ pound loss under my belt, and I thought I could do no wrong.  Meanwhile, my workouts were slipping (in both frequency and intensity), I was skipping two, three, and even four or more weigh-ins at a time, and I was adding up POINTS values in my head instead of taking the time to write everything out.  The honeymoon phase of weight loss was over, and I was smacked with the reality that this was the way I’d have to live out the rest of my days on this earth if I wanted any chance of experiencing life at a healthy weight. 

That scared me.  So, I thought I’d prove myself wrong by dialing things back a notch.  I allowed myself to regularly indulge in what had become once-in-awhile treats.  I relaxed a bit at the gym.  I tried to stop being so obsessive when it came to my POINTS values. 

In hindsight, I think I wanted to prove to myself that I wouldn’t have to work that hard to keep myself safe from obesity.  I wanted my days as a plus-size  person to be over for good, and I needed the comfort of knowing that I could never, ever go back there again.

Wrong.

Last week, I lost 1.4 pounds.  This week, I shed another 1.4 pounds.  That’s roughly three pounds in two weeks.  It may not seem like a lot (especially to The Biggest Loser addicts), but last year it took me MONTHS to net that kind of loss.  And that’s because I am working HARD again.  I’m tracking my food, working out religiously, and being mindful of just how quickly those glasses of wine or nibbles from the bread basket add up.  I’m pretending like I’m a newbie to the world of weight loss again.  And I’m finding success.

Long story short?  There is no quick fix, easy way out, or shortcut when it comes to losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle.  You don’t do the work, you don’t get the results.  Period.

 

Loss to Date: 86.8

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Meet the Former “Fattie”

I’ve been fat my entire life.

Really. I was a 10 pound baby, and it was all uphill from there.

Most women struggle with losing five, 10, or possibly 20 pounds at any given point in their lives. Lucky them! Since I was barely out of diapers, I have wrestled with full-fledged obesity. As in 40, 50, 60, and even 100+ pounds overweight.

Sure, I had gone on diets and dropped a size here or there, but for much of my childhood and adolescence, I was obese. I was constantly “starting my diet on Monday” to fit into a fancy prom dress or to “look good” for one special occasion or another, but as soon as it was over, it was back to devouring anything covered in an alfredo sauce and stuffing myself until I was sick.

Take one look into my past, and it’s pretty clear why. I am the utter definition of an “emotional eater.” In my house, food has always equaled love and comfort.  My greatest childhood triumphs were rewarded with heavy meals, and I quickly learned that there was no pain a plate of grandma’s cookies couldn’t fix.  My parents and grandparents used delectable treats as a way to show their love, and any time was snack time. I grew up learning that I should simply raid the refrigerator any time I was feeling sad…or lonely…or stressed…or bored.

The problem was that I had a lot of pain to eat my way through. From age 8 to age 18, I was tormented day in and day out by classmates in my small New Jersey hometown, while my mother reminded me constantly of how terrible I looked in shorts and that no boy would ever like me. Meanwhile, I was shuttled to an endless string of nutritionists, doctors, school counselors, and psychologists, who all tried to figure out why the pounds just kept piling on.

Perhaps it was because my idea of a 3pm snack was a Wendy’s junior bacon cheeseburger, small fry, and chocolate frosty (I’d then go home and clean my dinner plate two hours later). I’d lose my breath climbing a single flight of stairs, so I spent most of my time curled up on the couch with my eyes glued to the television.

I was absolutely miserable. I relegated myself to the corner in any and every social situation. I assumed everyone was judging me, all the time.  So I simply began to accept that, for the rest of my life, I would be “the fat girl.”

I gave up hope.

My doctor first sent me to Weight Watchers at age 11. I lost 20 pounds, quit, and  re-joined as a 220-pound 15-year-old. This time, I decided to use my “knowledge” of the program to lose weight on my own. I essentially starved myself for a year. I did not exercise, and I did not make an effort to eat healthier foods. Instead of eating an entire bag of Doritos, I simply counted out the POINTS for one or two servings.

I lost 60 pounds, met my boyfriend, decided I was happy in a size 10, and deemed myself “cured.” Now I could go back to eating the good stuff.

Shortly thereafter I watched my grandfather, who meant everything in the world to me, succumb to pancreatic cancer. My beloved grandmother followed just one year later. I was devastated, and instead of dealing with my grief, I did the only thing I knew how: drown my pain in heaping plates of pasta and boxes of baked goods.

No surprises here: less than five years later at the age of 22, I found myself bursting out of plus-size jeans, suffering from severe acid reflux, and having trouble fitting into movie theater seats. Meanwhile, I just kept telling myself that my body was returning to the size it was “supposed” to be. I was perfectly happy being overweight. That’s just who I was. I constantly had to keep purchasing larger pants, and continued to squeeze myself into tops made for someone 50 pounds lighter.

That brings me to the reason for this blog. That year, in November of 2007, I launched my most recent battle of the bulge when a scale suddenly appeared in my bathroom (thanks, Mom). After several days of pretending it wasn’t there, I decided to “man up” and step on.

I slipped off my sneakers, stepped ever so gently onto that scale, and expected to see that I was once again hovering around 220 pounds. I was fully prepared to beat myself up for gaining those 60 pounds back, but in the back of my mind, I was convinced that my body was merely returning to the size it was “meant” to be.

The scale read 267 pounds.

267 POUNDS.

I was well on my way to becoming a 300-pound 25-year-old.

I was devastated. Embarrassed. Ashamed. You name it, I felt it.  How could I let this happen?  My 5 foot, 4 inch body was now MORBIDLY obese.

I wanted to curl into a ball on the bathroom floor and never face the world again.

But I didn’t. I marched out of that bathroom and announced to anyone who would listen that I was going back to Weight Watchers once and for all. Enough was enough. I could not continue on this way. I would lose the more than 100 extra pounds of fat on my body, and this time, I was going to lose weight the RIGHT way. I would choke down vegetables, I would sweat on the treadmill, I would do whatever it took to end my life as an obese, miserable person.

I made a promise to myself that day that I was finally going to gain control over my health — and my life. (In fact, I laugh now that one of the most defining moments of my life happened beside a toilet bowl.)

By the end of 2008, I was down 80 pounds. I managed to lose about 10 more pounds early in 2009.

The weight melted right off after I first began trading in Cheez-Its for carrots and six-hour television marathons for daily sweat sessions at the gym. I was within 10 pounds of earning a coveted 100-pound star at my Weight Watchers meetings.  At the end of 2008, I was on top of the world.

But then I got stuck. In 2009, I gained and lost the same five pounds week after week after week. Ever since I donned my first pair of single-digit jeans, I’ve been struggling with getting that number on the scale to budge. I got comfortable, I got cocky, and I began to falter.

My weight loss record began to read like a yo-yo, and I didn’t want to admit that my lackluster food journaling, skipped workouts, and “I’ll get back on track tomorrow” promises to myself were the reason behind my ever-frustrating weight loss plateau.

Granted, I’m proud of myself for not throwing in the towel completely, but when a few pesky pounds began to creep back on, I had to face the reality that I still had a long way to go. And I could not give up now.

I still have to lose 40 pounds to reach an appropriate weight for my height. I am, according to my BMI, technically still “obese.”

I am determined to reach my “goal weight.”

But first, I must lose the final forty.

 

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