Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wild Roses


It's June, and my wild roses are in full bloom! I wish they would bloom all summer, but unfortunately they only last a week or so.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part VII

Give yourself grace. Another thing I've learned is you have to give yourself grace. As women, we need to realize that our weight is heavily affected by our hormones. So if it's that time of the month or we are headed into menopause, it can affect our progress. If you are a person who has recently had surgery and have to take it easy, you'll be surprised how fast the weight can pile on, just because you may not be able to get up and walk around or move like you used to. All those things can make a huge difference in how many calories you burn or how well your metabolism processes. If you're under stress or have some sort of pain, it's easy to overeat to try to deal with that. Being in pain from my injured shoulder, the consequent surgery and recovery, and not being aware of how these things would affect me are to blame for my initial 40-pound weight gain two years ago.

Another area to give yourself grace in are the holidays. For instance, this year I knew it would be very difficult to lose weight and not feel deprived of the holiday goodies that would be around at work and at home. So my goal was to simply maintain by eating prudently for most meals during the holidays, exercising three times a week, but still enjoying the glass of wine, or small plate of cookies, or a couple of pieces of fudge as they made their way into my day. I gave myself five pounds to play with. When I weighed myself each morning and found that I was anywhere between three to five pounds up from my baseline, I would be extra careful in what I ate that day and throw in another exercise session. Because of all this, I have been successful in maintaining my weight loss during December and on New Year's Day weighed exactly the same as I did on December 1st, even though I sampled lots of goodies and saw my weight zigzag around a lot in that five-pound range!

I still have a long way to go. My next goal is to try to lose another 20 pounds by the end of my birthday month, March. I have some specific steps I'm planning to take, because 20 pounds in three months is a much higher goal than three pounds a month. My plan includes doing a month of maintenance in April, like I did in December before I do another big push. If you don't give yourself some leeway, you'll give up.

I hope these tips have been helpful and I wish you success and health in 2011. Please be sure to leave any comments or questions you may have!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part VI

Don't give up. I've already shared how having a damaged knee and injured shoulder prevents or limits some of the exercise I would like to do. I was very discouraged when I was diagnosed in the Spring of 2010 with degenerative meniscus of the knee because I knew that I could really love running (which kind of surprised me!). I knew that in my dad's family, nearly everyone has problems with their knees, but many of them are also obese and were diagnosed with their knee problems in their 50s and 60s. So to be an active person who was diagnosed with this at age 43 was very frustrating. My doctor sat me down and explained that it was exactly because I was active that I had been diagnosed at a younger age. I have almost always had some sort of exercise program in place, even when my body shape and size has not reflected my activity. All that high-impact exercise of brisk walking and doing aerobic dance and step box exercises when I was younger damaged what genetically were always going to be weak knees. Fortunately, I had already discovered spinning and cycling to keep up a healthy, hard workout I needed. And now I can do my Walk Fit in-home DVDs and just minimize the part of the routine that can be high-impact by using alternative low-impact steps instead. I also am going to do snowshoeing because I believe that I can adapt that as a low-impact exercise as well.

I also went through an entire year (2009) of plateauing, weight-wise, where even though I was attending spin class two and three times a week, I only lost about 10 pounds that year. Looking back, I realize now that I should have been exercising three to four times a week instead and also eating better. I nearly gave up on ever losing weight again. But I chalk it all up to the most important weight-loss tip, knowing your body. I learned from it.

(To be concluded tomorrow)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part V

Keep track. I weigh myself every single morning. I have to, because it's really easy for me to put on a few pounds because I don't count calories or points, being a more intuitive dieter. If I'm up a pound or two and it's not that time of the month, that means I better schedule exercise for that day and/or eat a healthy dinner. I also record my weight. I used to do it on a private blog, but it got too complicated. I found that Google Health works really well for me; I just stop in and record my weight and how many minutes I exercised that day. It graphs the info, and it's great to see the line go down!

I also recently bought a pedometer for $5.00 at Wal-mart. It tracks steps and distance (in either miles or kilometers) and you can set a goal for either or both. I can also record the info at Google Health. Currently, I am still playing around with it to find out my average daily steps and then I will set goals later.

(To be continued tomorrow)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part IV

Exercise Often and Rest. Here again you have to find something you like that works for you and stick to it. I have always loved walking, and in the past, I was able to lose weight well by walking half an hour every morning with a girlfriend. But both our schedules got too crazy and when I tried running, I discovered I had a degenerative meniscus in my right knee. I really damaged it further trying to run, to the point that I couldn't even walk for exercise anymore. Fortunately, I had already been spinning (stationary biking) during the week and cycling on the weekends and in the summer and that was a good low impact exercise that didn't bother my knee. I spin three times a week with a group from work at one of the local high school's fitness centers through a fitness program the district has set up. By paying money and by connecting with my fellow spinners, exercise becomes a financial and social priority as well as a physical one and so it helps me be consistent.

Having lost weight, I can now do my Walk Fit fitness DVDs (a walk at home program) again during holidays and weekends (because I can't ride my bike in the winter) and they don't bother my knee too much, so apparently it has either healed or the weight loss has lessened the impact. Part of my routine also includes strength training: core/ab work, squats, and arm exercises. I have to watch my arm exercises, because I have weak shoulders. I had rotator cuff surgery two years ago and if I'm not careful, I can re-injure myself. I did that a year ago and had to go back to physical therapy. So I started all over again, doing the exercises with no weights, then two-pound weights, and now I can do a long routine with three-pound weights. I hope to try four-pounds next session, but I always listen to my body.

My point to all of this is again, just like finding the right eating plan, you have to find the right exercise plan for you. Some people like working out alone (I don't) while others like exercising with a partner or in groups. Some types of exercise work well for some people (my boss was an Olympic swimmer and still works out that way) but not for others (I like swimming, but I never lose weight doing it). Having an exercise or a variety of exercises that are just fun for you is good, too. I'm planning to take up snowshoeing this winter because I know it will work out my butt, plus it just is a lot of fun (I've tried it several times in the past with borrowed snowshoes). I don't normally like being outside in the winter, except for skiing, which I can no longer afford to do, so this is a great way for me to get fresh air in winter, as well as exercise.

Lastly, get your rest. I can function fine on six to seven hours of sleep at night. I rarely can sleep more seven hours at a time anymore. But I can't function on less than six hours. And if I'm especially tired, I take a nap, even though I tend to be groggy and useless for the rest of the day. Not getting enough sleep puts your body into survival mode and it will hang on to calories and fat.

(To be continued tomorrow)

Monday, January 3, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part III

Eat right. All the best diets and lifestyle changes are going to tell you to "eat right and exercise" but again, you have to know which kinds of food your body processes well and which ones it doesn't. Again I recommend the Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type book, but don't obsess over it. Basically, there are people who do well with high-protein/low-carb (like me) and those who do well as vegetarians, or as high-dairy eaters. Some people like having a lot of structure by counting Weight Watchers points, calories, etc., while others are more intuitive (again, like myself) and can have a basic plan in their head that they build around. If you know your body well and you work best with structure, find a diet plan that works for you. If I were to have a lot of structure, I'd go with Adkins or the Palm Beach Diet, because they work real well for O blood types (high protein/low carb). There are a lot of diet plans out there and if that is your "thing" then find one that works for you. Don't be discouraged if it takes some experimenting around until you find the right one.

For me, the intuitive person who doesn't like the rigid confines of a diet plan, I found that it worked best to eat a high-protein breakfast (a sausage patty, a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, or a simple two-egg omelet with a tiny bit of cheese and some veggies like onion and bell pepper). This was followed by a lunch of two rice cakes with either turkey breast slices or cheese (if I didn't have cottage cheese for breakfast) with a little mayo and mustard, a cup of raw veggies (like carrot sticks, pea pods, and grape tomatoes) with some ranch dressing to dip in. Some days I would have an apple or some berries. Sometimes I would have a diet soda (Diet Rite with Splenda, because I don't do well with caffeinated soda or NutraSweet, although once in a great while I will have a Diet Pepsi). I'd have a mozzarella cheese stick or a couple tablespoons of smoked almonds and maybe an 8-oz. can of V-8 juice for a snack, if I really needed one. At first, I had to have a snack to make it between meals. Now I rarely have one. Then dinner is a regular meal half the time, but in child-size portions. Think of an eight-year-old kid and serve up portions for him and that should be just right. About three times a week, I would try to have a really healthy dinner, like a salmon patty from Costco with a cup of steamed broccoli...or a veggie soup from a low-carb cookbook. But it's not unusual for me to have a couple slices of pizza if we order out, or a serving of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs with a small bowl of canned peaches on the side. Like I said, I don't cut anything out completely, or I would feel deprived. I do try to keep my gluten and my dairy down to one serving a day. And yes, I take supplements to make sure I get calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and the other nutrients I'm missing because I'm lactose- and gluten-intolerant.

One last thing: drink water. I try to go for half my weight in ounces each day. So if I weigh 150 pounds, then I try to drink 75 ounces of water a day. Dehydration is a cause of a lot of overeating. You think you're hungry, but your body actually needs water to be efficient.

(To be continued tomorrow)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

How I Lost Weight in 2010 and What I Recommend - Part II

Set realistic goals. I used to be able to set a goal of five pounds of weight loss a month and easily meet it. But I got discouraged when that goal wasn't working for me anymore. Around the same time that I decided to go for three pounds a month, I had a physical, and that was exactly the same goal my doctor recommended for me. The funny thing is, once I set that goal, started losing an average of seven pounds a month instead! I made a graph of weight loss over time, with a baseline of three pounds a month, then recorded twice a month what I actually lost. Even if I gained a little, it was good to see, because it was always much lower than my baseline goal of three pounds a month! Plus I knew that if I plateaued for a while (a problem for me at times), I would still be "ahead of the game" in my goals.

One of the things I learned in helping my students at the middle school where I work is that the best goals are called SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For instance, instead of saying, "I'm going to lose 50 pounds this year," you say, "I'm going to lose three pounds a month this year by exercising for an hour three times a week and eating no more than 35 carbs a day" (or whatever your plan is).

(To be continued tomorrow)