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Archive for the ‘eating habits’ Category

If you’re not one of the lucky, naturally-thin folks out there who is blessed with a metabolism that leaves you actually wishing you could gain weight, then most likely some form of weight management needs to become a part of your life forever. Unless of course you want to “accept” fatness as a facet of your identity ala the Fat Acceptance Movement. That’s fine and dandy to me. I certainly have my personal issues with the movement, but if people choose and want to stay fat, that’s their choice. For those of us who don’t wish to accept a fat body and would like to maintain a healthy weight, we have to accept that there is no magic fix to weight management and that it’s going to be a lifelong process.

This is why I’ve personally chosen to embrace a life of health and fitness. It’s hard to get fat if the only reasons I miss a workout are being sick or injured, and if I watch what I eat 99% of the time. I make allowance for special occasions and times for treats, but I know that maintaining a healthy weight is within my reach. My attitude before I began this journey was one of defeat. I had sort of decided that while I knew I needed to lose weight, I loved my food too much. I also thought I was eating “healthy” most of the time and that my job was enough exercise. Then, like most of us, I had my wakeup call. The back injury and the crippling and excruciating pain that came after. I can’t remember exactly the day that I started, but there was one day that I decided I was going to eat the way I normally ate for a day, but write it all down. I was astonished to find that I was eating enough calories for 2 days – doubling up.

Some of you may not know this, but I actually managed to lose a good chunk of weight back in 2001-2002. I started out healthy, then got unhealthy as I turned essentially to drugs to help “rev my metabolism” – it’s so embarrassing to think that at one point in my youth I thought that would actually work. It did kind of work, yes, but I felt like crap and looked like crap, too. I also didn’t build any muscle – in fact I’m pretty sure a lot of the weight I lost was muscle. Either way, for some reason my old habits came back and as I got comfortable in my life situation at the time (a new relationship), I stopped watching what I ate, stopped regularly exercising, yet for some crazy reason I didn’t expect to gain back the weight I lost. But I did, with a vengeance.

I’ve vowed “never again” especially after the pain I went through. My petite frame was not meant to carry that much extra weight, especially since I tend to be “top heavy” when I put on weight – no wonder my back went out! I was carrying around the equivalent of several bulk bags of rice on my body. No way do I ever want to go back! But the key mentality to have if you ever lose weight is that unless you stick to what works for GOOD, the weight can, and most likely will, come back.

I mostly bring up this point because a lot of people see weight loss methods as only a means to an end that they’ll get to stop one day, and then just go back to normal, yet not put the weight back on. Or some people slim down quick for an event, say a wedding, then after that they decide that they no longer need to work on it. Also, a lot of these diets focus on omitting an entire food group from your diet instead of working on ways you can permanently change your habits for good health, changes you can live with for life. I’ll pick on the low-carb diets for a second…I don’t think I could live on a low-carb diet for life. I don’t think anyone really could. Also, a lot of people don’t stick with exercise for life. They see it as yet another means to an end, just like they view their diet.

The fact is, watching what you eat and daily exercise are not only good for weight loss or maintaining healthy weight for a lifetime, they are also just generally good for your health. I’m just wondering who wouldn’t want to do all they can to enhance their quality of life into old age? I’ll cite the example of my grandmother who did live a long life, but she was very unhealthy. Sure, she lived to be 86. But she was miserable and sick for the last 15 years of that life. She smoked, was an alcoholic, did not exercise and did not watch her diet – she basically lived on TV dinners from the mid-80’s until she was placed in a retirement home in the late 90’s. She wasn’t fat, but she was very unhealthy. She had emphysema, stroke, and heart disease. I’m wondering if she may have possibly also had liver problems due to her drinking, which she didn’t quit until she was checked into a retirement home. My family found her stash as they were moving her! And my family kept a close watch on her and took turns caring for her each day, she just hid the booze that well! We never found out who was buying it for her because at that point she was no longer driving. Anyway, my point is that people have this mentality for some reason that they will “die anyway, so why bother?” Well, of course we’ll all expire eventually. Healthy people die every day, too. But to me it just seems downright foolhardy not to at least try and maintain good health anyway. When I’m in old age, I want to still have my faculties about me, I want to still be able to move around and go do things. I do NOT want to be sitting on the couch watching television all day when I’m old. I want to be interacting with others. As long as I’m physically able, I’d like to do volunteer work when I’m old. I’d like to still be exercising every day. I’d still like to do a lot of fun things as well. I don’t expect to be hanging ten on a surfboard when I’m 80, but being able to walk and even possibly run at 80 sounds amazing and very doable if I were to continue taking good care of myself. Plus if I have kids, I feel like I would owe it to them to take good care of myself, to lessen the burden on them with my care when I do get really old. Other case in point, my own parents. They’re already experiencing some frailties in their 50’s. I grit my teeth at what it’s going to be like to care for them when they’re older. It’s always hard to care for elder parents even if they are very healthy, but my parents are not as healthy as they could be. The main thing is their smoking, although they’re both putting on weight as older adults.

Part of the problem I think is that for generations people were told that total decay and frailty is just a part of getting old. Losing your memory, losing your faculties, losing your ability to care for yourself, were all seen as inevitable. I think the baby boomers were also told that, which is why I think my parents never really considered their health when they were younger. Right now I’ve made a conscious decision to not repeat the same mistake. I refuse to accept health problems as inevitable things that can’t be prevented. Yes, I acknowledge that there are cases where a person was very healthy and still got sick. But I’m still not willing to gamble and just lie down and accept it. I’ll be proactive.

Which brings me back to weight loss. I’ve made a promise to myself that once I do reach my goal weight, I will remain on a maintainence plan. Part of that plan includes weighing myself once a month. If I start to creep over a certain weight, I will look into why and change my habits. I am not one of those people who has a fast metabolism – I accept that if I want to be a certain weight I’ll always have to watch it. I’d much rather do that than end up unhealthy and unhappy like I was. Plus, I’m young now and it’s easier to deal with this now than it is when a person gets older. I’d so rather get a handle on it and master the good habits now than wait until my 40’s to be proactive.

Some links that help strengthen my point: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-exercise13-2009jul13,0,6577878.story
http://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/03/us/exercise-and-longevity-a-little-goes-a-long-way.html
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/hq01676
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=10074

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I don’t really like to watch too much TV, but sometimes on weekdays I have off I’ll cruise the channels a little bit with my morning coffee or tea until I’m fully woken up. Today I caught a show on Lifetime TV (which I usually HATE mind-you) called “Cook Yourself Thin.” As most shows on the Lifetime network that aren’t reruns of “Frasier” the show was a bit condescending, pandering and corny. But I thought the recipes were good. The basic concept is that the women who host the show go to the house of a woman who wants to lose some weight and they’ll examine some of her typical recipes, then show her ways to health it up while still making it taste good. That’s a pretty common-sense concept to those of us who’ve been doing this thing for awhile, but I can see how it’s kind of a novel thing for some people to change up what they’ve been used to doing for so many years. The particular episode I caught did a healthier quiche (and I LOVE quiche!), a grilled eggplant dish that was meant to take the place of a very fattening, deep-fried eggplant parmigiana, and a lighter version of cupcakes as well as a light version of those frou-frou coffee drinks you get at Starbucks and the like that usually have a zillion calories per serving. I could take or leave the frou-frou coffee thing as I enjoy my coffee unadulterated (I drink mine black and unsweetened), but the cupcakes looked pretty good. Something to think about for when I make my contribution to take to our family holiday gatherings this year. It had about a third of the calories of a traditional cupcake recipe and looked pretty tasty…doesn’t mean you can eat 10 cupcakes, but still not a total calorie disaster by comparison to the “fully loaded” version.

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Amy Tracks Her Progress is my new blog. It’s more or less an online archive/back-up of my spankin’ new food/exercise journaling/progress tracking program I designed for myself by tweaking a food/exercise journal template I found on The Balanced Weight Management site . Go to my new blog and you’ll learn of how I tailored my new journaling system to work just for me (although it may help others as well). I’ll be keeping a Weekly Assessment page (which is also in spreadsheet form on my PC), as well as my journal entries (which are also saved as Word documents on my PC). It will differ from this blog in the sense that it’ll focus mainly on my personal weight tracking and thoughts regarding weight, whereas this blog’s topics have strayed all over the place (not that there’s anything wrong w/ that).

Also, I have a page on there with pics of myself at various stages of weight gain and loss since 2001. I’ve blocked out my face, as a personal safety and privacy measure (I only show un-masked photos on more “private” venues online where only people I know can see them), but it gives a bit of a visual representation of my battle of the bulge. It also helps me, because sometimes the number on the scale isn’t always the whole story.

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I recently had a discussion with someone who has tried a few times to get into an exercise routine/healthy eating pattern, and always got impatient as far as seeing results. This person also maintained that they never enjoyed it, always felt sore no matter what, and it always felt like a boring chore to them. This person also has a large appetite and gets hungry often, and tends to overeat. This person is not terribly overweight, but very out of shape.

Results don’t come overnight, and sometimes it can be several months before a person starts to see the changes in their body. I think others often notice before the individual does. When you see yourself in the mirror every single day, it can be hard to realize that your body is indeed changing. I for one never thought I’d be dysmorphic about my own body, but for months after I first started I saw the same ole’ fatty in the mirror when other people were noticing visible changes in my physiology. Even recently people are noticing things before I do (namely the fact that I’m starting to have defined hips, etc. and becoming more height-weight proportional).

I asked this person what they did, if they stretched, etc. I came to the conclusion based on their answers that they had thrown themselves into a very rigorous and intense routine too fast, that they weren’t stretching or doing anything else to help sore muscles (hot baths, ice, etc.), and choosing activities that they found inherently boring. This person also hates standing up for long periods of time and maintains that they always get sore no matter what. I had a counter-argument for every excuse this person threw at me, and the conversation got frustrating for both of us so we decided to change the subject. But I ended my points with this person by saying that there has got to be a way for them to eventually find being active enjoyable. It will help this person’s longevity, give them more energy every day, and be beneficial in a huge number of ways. To this person’s credit, they get frustrated with themselves because they know the health benefits of being active, but they feel so helpless about actually applying it to themselves.

So I guess the point of this was to say that people who are new to exercise and out of shape need to ease into a routine. Walking is a great way to start…it’s the first physical exercise most of us learned how to do as toddlers. It can start out slow and go fast. I still do it a lot, I don’t do too much running because of some leg pain I tend to get, but you can burn as many calories power-walking if you do it fast enough, without near the impact of running. Furthermore, stretching is essential. There are a ton of websites out there that can show through pictures and tell you how to properly stretch all your major muscle groups. It’s best to have a bit of a warm-up, stretch, then work out, take a stretch break in the middle (I notice a huge difference when I don’t do this), then cool down and stretch again after the workout. Once the body adapts to regular, mild physical activity, kick it up a notch gradually until you’re used to more strenuous activity.

Exercise is important, but if your diet is craptastic, it’s not going to give you enough health benefits. Some people’s taste buds are so corrupted by junk food that it’s easy to find the taste of healthy stuff “bland” at first because your taste buds are so used to being bombarded by way too much sugar, salt, and trans fats. I highly suggest for people who are having dietary challenges that are blocking them from weight-loss, health improvement, or both to read a great book called If It’s Not Food, Don’t Eat It: The No-Nonsense Guide to an Eating-for-health Lifestyle by Kelly Hayford, a clinical nutritionist. Hayford puts it all forth in a very non-threatening and straightforward way. One thing I respect about it is that she doesn’t preach any dogmatic diet-style (veganism or raw foodism for example) but more discusses the benefits of switching to mostly real, whole foods as opposed to processed stuff. She also discusses how to handle your lifestyle change around family and friends, and the psychological aspects of such a diet change. She has stories of real people and the dramatic, personal changes that happened for them from changing their diet.

To maintain a healthy body weight and good health in general, it is absolutely essential that a person is both physically active AND eats right. The end.

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Well, it’s been a long time since I posted. I realize that there are going to be infinitely stupid things said and thought about weight loss and healthy lifestyles in general, so it might not be the end of my desire to post on here. I’ve had many unfortunate things happen in my personal life in recent months. My friend passed away, both me and my housemate lost our jobs (he was laid off, I was fired). I’ve luckily landed a job, but it doesn’t start until next week so things are tight financially. But either way, it’s been a rough go.

I am not perfect. My weight loss has come to a standstill, and it’s because I haven’t been 100% with my diet and exercise. I tend to cycle through stages where I’m gung-ho and into it, and stages when I’m not. Luckily with diet, I never tend to overeat enough to gain any weight back…but I’m steadily maintaining. I haven’t been into working out lately, either. I’ve definitely had times where I’ve fallen off the wagon with this whole thing, but I’m still walking every day and keeping tabs on my weight. It’s not always easy, especially when I get depressed about things I tend to want to be isolated from people. Ugh, it’s like a battle of wills with myself. But as long as I don’t backslide, I’m not terribly worried. The difference between now and my past is my awareness of this tendency within myself to stagnate. Also, I actually own a bathroom scale and check my weight frequently enough to be aware of it. It’s a manual scale as opposed to digital so I can’t use the “battery died” excuse.

There is definitely more to life than weight, but at the same time I have to remember that my weight is somewhat of a manifestation of my emotional issues. It’s a symbol of falling down and staying down (to me), of stagnating, of not moving forward. I also admit that maybe a small part of me is still afraid to experience the life of a thinner person. I’ve never been a slim adult. Social attitudes and expectations are slightly different for thin people, by my observations.

Old habits die hard. I still feel proud, however, of the fact that I have never given up on this goal, even if I have “taken breaks” from actually really working towards it. I’m still around 30-ish pounds overweight. I used to be around 80 lbs. overweight. That’s definitely nothing to sneeze at, but at the same time if I had been stronger in my will over the last 2 years, I’d have reached my goal long ago.

I think posting in this blog might help me get motivated again. I hope so!

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So I thought about this. Once I reach my goal weight (31 more pounds to go!), I’ll have to change the name of this blog to, “Amy Lost and Won,” or something like that. Or I could just change it to a name that reflects the topics I like to focus on, which are not limited to simply weight loss or the fatness of our society. I’m not sure. I suppose I have 31 more pounds of time to think about it, though. 🙂

More people keep noticing how small I’m getting. I’m still asked the dreaded, “what have you been doing?” question, as if my answer is going to be a magic, easy solution. I’m tempted to start saying, “I’ve been doing the ‘Don’t Be A Dumbass’ diet,” just to see how people would react. I’ll have to replace the word “dumbass” with something more PC if I’m to use this response while I’m at work. It’s really liberating, though, to admit that I ate too much. People always want to tiptoe around that fact with fat people, the fact that they eat too much and usually the wrong things for a human body to be able to process.

So the economy is shit-tastic, and people are getting angrier and angrier that the things that happened to create this crisis (like huge bonuses to executives who are already sickeningly rich) are still happening. People are also going to start cutting back and being more frugal. Some people may even be eating healthier by default, and having less purchasing power they’ll be eating less. Will the one positive side effect of this horrible financial crisis be less obesity? It sucks that it has to come to this for people to stop being so fat. Actually, no, the other positive effects I hope will happen is that people will start to re-evaluate their personal ethics and values, and maybe become less greedy. The fat-cats on Wall Street will most likely remain greedy scumfucks, but the rest of us I think will hopefully learn that values like love and respect for other people trumps the desire for the newest car or the biggest house. Hopefully people will slow down and relax more with their families and have more quality time with people they love, and learn to be rich in other ways besides financially.

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Oh, my. Public transportation in a small city can lend so many opportunities to look at your own life and go, “wow, I ain’t got it so bad!” These are seriously the people I look at and think, “Gawd, no matter what happens, I’m not going to let that happen to me!”

I’ve been fighting a particularly nasty case of bronchitis that antibiotics alone aren’t going to fix. Needless to say, I was sent home from work. I’m not used to using the public transportation during that part of the day. All the saddest, most pathetic people ride at that time of day because they don’t have jobs (hey, I’m not hating, just stating the obvious). So I was on the bus home, not feeling well, just wanting to come home and transition into pajamaland and turn on the humidifier and maybe start a movie. An obviously drunk man boards the bus holding a box. He comes to the back where I’m sitting (oh, boy), and announces to everyone that he found this chocolate covered pumpkin pie in the dumpster and wants to share it with everyone! How special! Now, I’ve eaten food that was past-date before, and I’m not a snob about dumpster diving, but that’s only the case if I’m the one who found said food. That way I can gauge whether or not it’s safe to consume, and whether or not it’s something I’d even want. For instance, a local bagel shop throws away a metric ton of bagels every day. The bagels are contained in paper bags inside of a trash bag, meaning there is insulation between the bagels and the outside world. But for all I knew, this pie could have been just chucked into the dumpster on top of decaying, rotting trash with no protection of a trash bag.

I usually don’t make eye contact with too many people on the bus, since the lot of them are crazy and a little on the creepy side. But this guy was really persistent in that everyone on the bus eat some of this damned pie (until the driver noticed, of course, and asked him to put it away since eating on the bus is against the rules). When I politely said, “no thank you,” that wasn’t good enough. He had to keep persisting. Ugh, leave me alone creepy. I just let loose with the hacking up of my lungs and he finally backed off. The guy next to him who was equally crazy was really into it and ate like 5 pieces of the stuff, and kept going on about how he exercises regularly so he can eat as much as he wants. No, he wasn’t fat. Just crazy.

Is there a point to this post? Not really. I’ve been home for a couple of hours now and am enjoying a relaxed, pajamaed evening – it was nice to be sent home after only working one hour. I got someone to cover the first half of my shift tomorrow at work, as well (meaning yes, I still have to go in but for not as long as I would have, which makes a huge difference). I guess what I wanted to get into was the fact that people will eat stuff just because it’s there, and feel a need to push it on everyone around them. Now the guy on the bus today was one of those “middle of the day” drunks, and also particularly unintelligent and obviously, “the lights are on but nobody’s home” in regards to his psyche. But the basic idea remains valid. Why do people feel the need to eat a food just because it’s there? And why is it when others don’t want to share the food they have to keep pushing? Sometimes people just aren’t that hungry. I’ll tell you, when you’re hacking up things that look like they might grow legs and crawl away and your nasal passages are completely blocked, and you have a distinct sense of fatigue, and feel a bit delirious, your appetite is not usually the healthiest. That being said, I made myself some soup and a sandwich for dinner, but that was after having zero appetite most of the day.

My tomato soup is easy and yummy, and to me is way better than that crap in a can. Also, it’s dairy free and has none of the crazy additives that canned soups have. That being said, the ingredients do come from cans, ironically enough. But much purer.

1 large can of diced tomatoes
2 large cans of tomato sauce or puree
1/4 cup olive oil
spices and salt to taste

That’s it. Seriously. Some people like to put milk in it, but that stuff doesn’t usually agree with me, and since I’m sick I’m avoiding dairy (mucus producing). Some people don’t like the chunky tomatoes, but I do. If you don’t, just use more tomato sauce/puree. It’s damn tasty!

Heat it up in a sauce pan for an amount of time you deem appropriate (I let it go til it’s piping hot). I make fake-cheese sandwiches (the old comfort staple of grilled cheese and tomato soup). I recommend Lisanatti’s Almond cheese, the best fake cheese ever. No, I’m not a vegan, but dairy gives me a lot of problems, especially if I’m sick. My “grilled” cheese sandwiches I actually do in the toaster oven. I spread a tiny bit of softened butter (I use real butter cause margarine has soy and I’m allergic to soy) on the outside of the bread to give it that crisp, maybe a teaspoon or so on each side. Way healthier than the traditional, fried version. Melt the cheese on the bread in the over, and viola, healthy “grilled” cheese.

Another thing I thought of just now. If you’re sick, you shouldn’t eat junk food. You need to feed your body with the most nutritionally dense food you can so it can be extra strong to fight whatever microbe it’s trying to get rid of. Making it labor on empty calorie garbage only hinders the healing process.

So when my brain isn’t so foggy from sick, perhaps I can elaborate more on the subject of why people can’t take, “no thank you, I’m not hungry,” as an acceptable answer when they’re being offered food they don’t want.

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