Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Health: Weight Loss Introduction

Alright my Friends,

One of the topics I am going to cover on my blog is Optimal Health. This is inclusive of many things, but today I'm going to fill you in on my weight loss journey. This has been part of my adult and teenage years for the majority of my life.

I have done many, many different diets, cleanses, and fasts. Just about all of them have been successful to some extent, obviously some more than others. However, the common denominator of them as has been that I have regained the weight I originally lost. Some of these times, probably most of these times, I have regained more than I originally lost. As anyone who has ever lost weight knows, this can be extremely discouraging. However elated, confident, and joyous loosing weight makes me feel, gaining it has the exact opposite negative emotions.

Back in May I decided to change up how I was doing things, and really take a look at my behaviors behind eating as opposed to just what I was eating. I am a very disciplined person and can do strict regimes (I once drank only fresh homemade vegetable and fruit juice for 45 days), but something always seemed to happen, usually around the 14 day mark, that would crash everything and suddenly my perfect plan would crumble.

So, armed with my journal I set out to establish a plan of eating and new lifestyle that would transcend the dreaded 2 week trial period, and set me up for optimal health for the rest of my life.

Well, I did it. I incorporated exercise (yoga, zumba, C25K, and pilates) six days a week, stopped eating sugar and did that for 98 days, and worked on eliminating white flour and dairy. I also joined Weight Watchers and really began to confront my compulsive eating demons.

I did great. I did have a few derailings, such as eating 3 pieces of cake at my Italian grandfather's birthday- not to mention all the Hersey bars I consumed from the candy jar that weekend. But, I was about to pick myself up and move on, 3 lb heavier. I made it through a road trip, trip to see sister, and week long excursion to New Mexico. I was about 98 days in, 10 pounds lighter and felt great. The only problem was, I had started to plateau- no, I hadn't started, I was plateaued and I could feel the motivation bleeding away and frustration setting in- bad combo. This was the "priming" for a relapse- that dang frustration eating away at me, making me crazy that my routine wasn't working like I wanted.

Then, while in NM I hurt my knee running down a hill and on the trip back got food poisoning from a small Mexican restaraunt. A day later, I was rear-ended and hurt my neck and back- nothing too serious, but enough to make me wince at the idea of exercise.

It was official I was in a relapse. Sugar, dairy, white flour, no exercise, pants becoming tighter, eating all the time, nibbling constantly, and worst of all- the compulsive monster in my head was back; constantly talking about food, my next meal, what to have, which store to go to, what dessert a restaraunt had, etc. All signs showed I was beginning to drown.

Then something kind of amazing happened. Instead of how it would go in the past- where the above event would occur and then I'd slip into a day, or days, week or weeks, or even months of despair and self loathe; by the end, I'd have to add another "Yo-Yo Dieter" notch to my belt and be off right where I started, or even worse. Emotionally I'd completely berate myself until I felt so terrible and weak I didn't even want to face myself in the mirror. Dramatic? Yes, but then I am, and this is truly how I would feel.

So anyway, after this last time I didn't have that cycle. I realized that I was relapsed and going down the wrong path and have been able to slowly make changes again and re-implement my plan. More than that, I've been able to use all the different nutritional advice I've gotten (I'm an avid reader) and compile a plan that is all my own. So, the last 90 or so days were not in vain, all that exercise and working on my eating changed how I treat myself- I'm a much better friend to me these days.

One of the books I recently read, "Potatoes Not Prozac" has proven to be extremely helpful and taught me a lot of about my body. I'm using the tools the author provides to help handle my sugar- sensitivity. I'm 10 days into a "no sugar" period and the fog is starting to lift.

So, my plan is: I'm still using Weight Watchers, and following their Simply Filling Technique. I am able to eat whatever I want off a particular list of foods, and then a limited amount of "not allowed" foods every week. I'm also doing the "Paleo Diet" which essentially the same as WW SFT, except it completely eliminates grains, dairy, legumes, tubers, and processed foods (except for 2 meals a week). Turns out I'm allergic to gluten and dairy, and haven't eaten processed foods in a a long time- so this is a nice fit for me. It concentrates on vegetables and proteins, oh and fruit of course- which is how I feel best eating. Grains and legumes just don't do well with me. I try to eat raw vegetables too, the more the better. In addition, I'm keeping a food journal as per "Potatoes no Prozac" and really paying attention to what different sugars do to me. I have cut out all refined sugar and am currently using only stevia. I may have a little agave now and then, and just track to see my body's response. Being that I've essentially just replaced refined sugar with fruit and am eating ridiculous amounts of it, I'm also working on getting my fruit servings down to 1-2 a day. I don't want to just jump from one type of sugar to another, I want to handle the underlying cause of the cravings.

Right now I'm content to live sugar-free but I'm not saying that I can never have sugar or even saying it's forbidden now. I'm simply experimenting and learning what's right for me- and currently no sugar is.

That's one of the biggest lessons I've learned on my long weight loss journey: You have to do what's right for you DESPITE what others say. Believe me, you will get more advice and instructions than you thought possible- you have to take from it what's usual, but spit out the rest and hold fast to what you know. I've really sabotaged myself in the past by completely changing my plan because of some advice I got, or new book I read.

So, weight loss, or more precisely, the quest for my optimal health is VERY important to me. Thus, I'll take you on that journey as well. Next time we'll talk stats and get rolling on the program together.

Until manana,

P.S. I'll also share some of the more helpful books I've read with you, if I forget- just remind me :-)


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