{My Six Week Summer Weight Loss} Information, Tips, and How I'm Doing Now

10.09.2013

Part of me is sorta over myself with the weight loss talk, only because I feel like it's a bit self-serving. But... I've been flooded with emails and inbox messages filled with questions so I know it's a topic several people struggle with and care about. I'm also embarrassed to admit I think about what I weigh and how I look a little too much, meaning it seems to take up space in my mind that should be filled with other things.  I don't think of myself as insecure, and I certainly know it could be worse {hello Wal-Mart and any given county fair, or the Atlanta airport, or a mall}, but as I get older it seems harder to maintain a sense of control over my physical appearance.  I know I'm not a size on the rack or a number on the scale, but darn it--- it matters to me.  And this isn't just about losing weight.  It's about living a healthy lifestyle that will carry me into the second half of my life in good shape.

One of the things that helped me the most was educating myself about food choices and their effect on weight loss and just health overall.  This has been the single most important things that has seen me through staying fit and healthy and trim.  If you know why something makes you fat or helps you burn fat, you're more likely to fit the puzzles pieces together in your mind to get yourself to a point of eating the right things for the best results.  I started reading books about this long before I ever needed (or felt I needed) to lose weight.  Your body is wonderfully made and it will actually help you get and stay healthy if you feed it well and feed it correctly.

Think of a fire.  If you have a small fire and you feed it correctly, it will become a large, hot, burning, thriving fire.  If you feed it wet and rotted wood, it will smolder and die.  The same holds true for our bodies.  If you feed them good, healthy, whole food they will thrive.  If you feed them processed, sugary food with little nutritional value, they will become sluggish, fat and not efficient.

Books
The first book I read that set off light bulbs about eating right was Eat Great, Lose Weight - by Suzanne Somers.  {Yes, the Thigh Master Suzanne Somers}.  This lady knows her stuff.  The thing that I learned the most from her is the secret of food combining:
  • eat fruit by itself and only first thing in the morning and then no more during the day
  • eat protein with veggies or grains/starch with veggies...
  • but not proteins and grains/starch together
  • wait 3 hours between a protein meal and a grains/starch meal
  • eat more protein meals than grains/starch meals
  • if you are eating fat with protein, eat full fat 
  • if you are eating fat with grains/starch, eat non-fat
The reasons for combining are outlined and explained in her book. It's the golden ticket and so many of the more current and popular "diet plans" do not even mention it.  Eat Great, Lose Weight can be found online for $2 or $3 used and I recommend it 100%.

Another book I really believe in is The Virgin Diet - by JJ Virgin.  I first saw JJ Virgin on Public Television one night while flipping channels and I was intrigued by the title of her show: 7 Foods Not to Eat.   I'm a firm believer that many of us carry at least one or two food sensitivities or even allergies and we just don't make the connection.  Her list of 7 foods to avoid is: 
  • soy- mostly genetically modified and naturally contains high levels of estrogen which can interfere with natural hormone balance
  • corn - genetically modified, converts easily to sugar, little to no nutritional value
  • gluten - (especially wheat) contains omega 6 which can cause inflammation and is hard to digest
  • dairy- if the antibiotics and bovine growth hormones found in cow's milk aren't enough to turn you away, consider this:  do you know any animal that drinks milk as an adult? do you know any animal that drinks milk from another type of animal?  
  • sugar and artificial sweeteners - drive up insulin which can lead to insulin resistance and even Type II diabetes.  
  • eggs - much like dairy, many eggs today are supplied by hens who have been pumped up on artificial hormones and fed with corn.  Organic eggs are okay.
  • peanuts - high on the allergen list, hard to digest, and little nutritional value
The final dagger in the weight loss journey is caffeine. Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske is an eye-opening look at the wide-spread caffeine addiction and its relationship to many other afflictions such as migraines, PMS, osteoporosis, and diabetes.  And, caffeine adversely affects insulin levels which can cause our bodies to hold on to fat as a defense mechanism.  The biochemistry of the food + body relationship is fascinating and one I strongly encourage you to study.  

Exercise
I mentioned in my earlier post that losing weight/fat is not dependent on exercise as much as most people think.  I follow One Fit Widow on Facebook.  Not only is her personal story of loss and reinvention remarkable, she has a great handle on how food and fitness work together.  Just this week she posted this:

I still get asked 100's of times a week, what's the best way to exercise for fat loss. My answer will not come as a surprise for my clients or those who have followed me for a long period of time. My answer is YOU DON'T. 

Fat loss (I say fat loss because ultimately what you weigh does not matter, it's about how much fat is on your body) comes nearly all in the kitchen with what you eat. Some of our most successful clients have been limited with exercise but have lost a tremendous amount of fat by changing their food lifestyle. That does not mean eating a very restrictive, low calorie diet either. It means eating good whole foods, in a moderate caloric deficit to your burn, and eating in balance. Being hungry does not have to be associated with fat loss.

Your gym time is where you SHAPE your body. Your gym time is where you SHAPE your health. Your gym time is where you SHAPE your well-being with stress relief and positive endorphins. Gym time is not where you burn off last nights fast food dinner or the vat of ice cream you couldn't put down because of sugar's terribly addictive properties.



Change your mindset around the principles above and you will find lasting success. Detox your body from sugary processed food, decide its not restriction but rather that your body deserves better, and find a love of exercise that comes from seeing results from your hard work.



You just can't outwork a bad diet.

That being said, exercise is important for cholesterol control, cardiovascular fitness, and many, many other things.  But I do want to debunk the myth that part of losing weight means you are on the dread-mill for an hour++ every day.  

How I'm Doing Now, What I Eat, and Some Final Thoughts
Thankfully, I'm holding my own and not gaining. I am almost 5'10" and weigh 140#. As an aside, I lost weight strictly for myself and my own happiness and not for attention from others.  That being said, I've only had one or two people notice that I've lost any weight at all.  One of the advantages of being tall is there is a lot of room for the fat to spread out, which means,on the flip side, I have to lose more for it to be noticeable. I saw a long-time friend a couple weeks ago for the first time in a year and told her about my loss and she said, "You always look the same to me."  So, just to keep it real, I'm not basking in the skinny spotlight at all. 

One of the great things about detoxing and removing sugar, caffeine, processed foods, and other bad stuff is the cravings usually disappear.  I've found that to be true for the most part and I do much better than I used to in the salty snack department, where I would generally set up shop after work with a glass of wine.  Hello Chex Mix a big glass of Chardonnay! 

I have added exercise back into my routine two or three days a week and it mostly consists of one week of intense cardio intervals on the treadmill in my basement followed by a week of longer, slower runs. I also stay very active with my 7yo son riding bikes, trail walking, and other physical activities that sometimes make me fear life and limb.  Boys are rough! I feel so much better when I exercise but my lack of free time offsets my desire sometimes. When I am finally alone at 9pm for the first time on any given day, I'm often not excited about going to the basement for a workout. But, I also don't eat a bowl of ice cream.  So, there's that.  


I've had a lot of questions about what I eat.  When I wake up I have hot green tea with Stevia along with a sliced up apple while I'm getting ready for work. An hour or so later when I'm heading out the door I mix up a protein shake (my favorite is this) to drink on my long drive to work.  I sometimes have another cup of tea at the office. I keep a 32oz glass with a lid and straw at my desk and make it my goal to drink at least two in the morning and three in the afternoon, one of them with my beloved Mio flavored drops!  

Lunch is my biggest meal of the day during the week.  My go-to lunch is: one or two hard boiled sliced organic eggs, hummus, celery, orange or red pepper slices, and tuna salad. Other veggies I love are radishes, cucumbers and beets (from a can).  I make food for the week on Sundays (which really deserves its own post because it's a life saver) and I pack five days' worth to take to the office so I don't have to bring lunch every day.  

I do get the afternoon droops about 3pm so I usually have iced tea and a snack: almonds, celery with almond butter, deli turkey rolled up in romaine lettuce with mustard, melba toast with hummus and feta cheese, or a protein bar.  Weeknights for dinner I have a glass of wine and something from my 3pm snack list above.  

On weekends I still drink tea and water for breakfast along with an apple.  I usually make my son a large breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast or pancakes (clearly he's not "on the plan") and if I'm going to veer off the good eating highway it's with a plate of pancakes.  No guilt, either.  I drink a protein drink for lunch (while at ball games) and then make a huge early dinner of grilled chicken, steak, or salmon, quinoa or brown rice, steamed broccoli or other veggie, and then I do have some dessert - usually ice cream or pie.  The weekends are when I exercise the most, so mentally that gives me a little wiggle room for the indulgences.  

Oh - and Friday nights - Mexican cantina with friends/neighbors and all rules are abolished. Margaritas, chips, salsa, and tacos please.   

I know this post is long and filled with lots of information.  In no particular order, here are the most important tips that worked for me personally:

  • Work hard on drinking more water to flush out the bad stuff.
  • Food combine properly
  • Give up the bad stuff all at once.  It's harder at the beginning but easier at the end.
  • Go into this knowing it's a plan for the long haul, not just to lose weight but also to maintain.
  • Give yourself grace and a free day every week to splurge after the weight loss
  • Pay attention to things that are "on the plan" but don't quite work for you.  I realized about half way through that salads don't work for me-- all the leafy greens---too filling and fiberish.  Many people don't lose as well eating red meat, but I lost the best when I ate it.  I didn't do as well with seafood. which was much more highly recommended than beef.
  • If you're doing the plan and find you're still not losing or feeling good consider getting a blood test to check hormone levels, thyroid, etc. {especially if you're in your 40s+ like me}.  I actually had one as part of my annual physical after I lost weight. My good cholesterol went up from a year ago, my bad cholesterol went down from 139 to 100 (!!) and it showed my thyroid higher than a year ago by almost 1 point which happens with age and is something I need to watch because that can be a big factor in inability to lose weight or increased weight gain for no apparent reason.  
That's the end of my weight loss novel.  Please feel free to leave a comment, especially if you have a question, and I will answer it here for everyone to see.  


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