five for friday: paleo reality bites

Hmmm…not reality bites as in reality bites…more as in a few quick thoughts…

  1. I continue to be excited and amazed by how good I feel when I eat paleo. I’m also surprised that for the first time in my life, I don’t wake up starving.
    Seriously.
    I’ve always woken up with my stomach growing and have had to eat first thing. Now, I wake up and can take care of getting the kids off to school before enjoying a more leisurely breakfast.
    Stable blood sugar is a good thing, friends.
  2. I added up a guesstimate of all of the money I’ve spent over the years on Weight Watchers, online programs, diet books, even shots…and it was scary. All along, all  I ever needed more fat, more protein, more vegetables, along with less sugar, no grains, no processed. Real food.
    Good to know.
    And I’ll keep doing all I can to spread the word: you can lose weight and get healthy without counting calories or points, and while eating real food that tastes good.
    Even bacon.
  3. I only lost about 3 pounds in January, putting me back at where I was at the end of my Whole 30 (I dove head-first into some not-great holiday eating – trust me, a few pounds gained was nothing compared to how terrible I felt). Kind of disappointing, but I added up the inches I’ve lost in the past two years yesterday.
    48.5.
    In two years, I’ve lost 48.5 inches when I add up the 8 spots I measure.
    Holy cats.
    Nearly 10 inches from my waist alone. And about a third of that has been since I went paleo in September.
    I felt a lot better about that 3 pounds.
  4. I stopped my second Whole30 on about day 8 while I was watching my son make his lunch for school: cheese, saltines and an orange. I had a bit of a bit of a lightbulb moment that I need to work on what the rest of the family is eating, and it’s easier to do that if my eating is a little bit looser than what a Whole30 allows. I’m sure I’ll do another one (maybe summer?) but until then, there’s more important work for me to focus on.
  5. I’m doing Clean Eats in the Zoo’s 30 Day At-Home Cross Fit Challenge, in addition to a couch to 5 k trainer right now. For the first 3 or 4 months of eating paleo, I didn’t exercise.
    At all.
    I started back to the gym last month, and was just miserable there. I’m finding I really want to be outside and am surprised again by how much I like running. And how much I like strength training, especially my kettlebell workouts.

And a few quick goals for February – and hey, what do you know! They fit in with my 2012 goals too:

  • another 3 or 4 pounds and another 2 inches down would be awesome. 5 pounds would be even more awesome, but I know I’m building muscle with these workouts
  • 25 workouts – split between the challenge, running and the kettlebell
  • keep up with my daily devotional and prayer time

What are your Febrary goals?

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motivation

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what motivates me to keep on this journey of weight loss and towards a healthier life.

There are actually quite a few reasons I keep striving – at the most shallow level, I really just want to look better and be able to buy cute clothes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but in all honesty…it’s just not enough to keep me from diving head first into a Fun Size bag of Butterfingers. It might work for some, but not for me.

A few years ago, I did Weight Watchers for about a year and distinctly remember a meeting where we were asked to share our motivation. A friend shared hers and it’s one that has stuck with me: she didn’t want to be a fat old lady. I still love her honesty, but it also sort of struck to the heart of my own motivation.

I’m doing this for insurance.

Now, I know I can’t add one day to my life on this earth by anything I do. God’s got a plan that includes the number of my days and I’m just trying to live it…

but I can do my best to live it as well as I humanly can.

For me, that means doing all I can to insure against the diseases I know my genes are probably a little predisposed to. My Mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in her early 40’s. Her mom had a form of leukemia usually seen only in children in her late 60’s. Her father died far too young of a stroke. High blood pressure is prevalent in my Dad’s family, along with a few more forms of cancer. Joint problems seem to be hanging from every branch of my family tree.

The knowledge that I have all of that potentially waiting for me and for my kids, who I model for every day as I try to live an active life and at every meal?

That’s my motivation.

And I know that excess weight as I grow older will only make it more likely, so I’m choosing to fight these battles before they even start.

What’s your motivation for living a life striving towards health and wellness?

Meltdown – Week 8

Meltdown 

Eight weeks of the Meltdown are done, with five more weigh-ins to go before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an important day for me, and not just because it's my favorite holiday.  Last year, I started my weight loss journey once again the day after Thanksgiving.  At the urging of my doctor, I cut out all refined sugar and flour, and finally began to lose the weight that had piled on when I'd become ill the previous spring.  It has lead to many more changes – including determining that I can't eat gluten – but it was an important beginning.  Thanksgiving has become a landmark for me, a sort of reminder so that I won't ever go back to how horrible I felt for those months leading up to it.

This past Monday was an important day for me too.  Finally, after over 45 weeks of hard work, I reached the 40 pounds lost mark.  40 pounds has been a huge goal for me – it's the amount of weight I gained in less than two months when I first became ill.  And while it took me about 7 weeks to gain that amount, it's taken me far, far more to get rid of it.   I'm not even averaging a pound a week and there have been many weeks when I haven't seen any loss or even a bit of a gain.   Quite simply, it's been very frustrating at times.

We hear quite often that it's reasonable and healthy to lose two pounds a week, but I don't think our weight loss goals tend to be that realistic.  Last night, I happened to be flipping through the channels and caught a few moments of The Biggest Loser.  One of the male contestants had lost 20 pounds in one week, and 50 pounds in the course of the show.  I'm not sure how many weeks they're into – maybe two or three – but that is an absolutely immense amount of weight in such a short time.  There was also a female contestant sobbing because she'd only lost two and another in a panic because she'd only lost 7. 

I would hope that we'd all realize that the Biggest Loser contestants are in a very controlled, very unusual weight loss situation.  The contestants all tend to be morbidly obese, work out insane amounts of time and are medically supervised.  But it puts in our heads the idea that we could be – maybe even should be – losing weight more quickly.   It can lead us to unhealthy attempts to speed up our own weight loss.  It can also lead us to lies about who we are and what we're capable of. 

Weight loss isn't a race.  Sure, it's fun and helps with accountability to make it a competition and it feels great to hit those goals…but weight doesn't equal happiness or even necessarily health.  Some of the skinniest people I know are also probably some of the most unhealthy.   So many factors go into weight loss – what we're eating, how much we're exercising, what sort of exercise we're doing, stress levels, hormones – and it's difficult finding the right balance that works for us as individuals.  It's a continual learning process, with constant adjustments to be made.  Doctors may tells us two pounds a week is reasonable and possible, but that's in general and might not apply to us personally.

I've come to believe that the ultimate goal of any weight loss and exercise program should be improved and continued health.   For me, that means what I eat is so important.  Exercise is too, of course, but I tend to think we get more hung up on food.  And it's not just the calories in that food, but the taste, the texture, the natural nutrients, and the way it satisfies my body and my brain. 

Low-fat and non-fat don't have any place in my diet because they just don't satisfy…and lead to me eating more and more.   I've always loved those Snackwell's Devils Food cookies – but stopped buying them years ago because I'd eat the entire box before I could stop myself (and then feel horrible about my lack of self-control).  Compare that to a piece of good dark chocolate, which satisfies my sweet cravings with one small piece and even adds in a few heart healthy flavonoids, antioxidants and amino acids.  

Those rich foods we've been taught to avoid for the past 30 years in favor of low-fat ones?  Because they're so rich, our bodies and brains are usually happier with just a little bit.  More and more studies are showing that low-fat, non-fat and fake sugared foods trigger our brains to want more and more.  And let's not forget that what they replace that sugar and fat with is generally far worse for us than what it's replacing!  

Real foods - foods the way God made them – are more filling and contain so much more nutritional value than the processed stuff that makes up the majority of the grocery store.  They keep our blood sugar more level, so that we can avoid the physical crashing that leads to more cravings and out of control eating.  They're also cheaper, even if they take a bit more prep work.   Take a great big salad with some good protein, healthy fats and a variety of toppings…and contrast that with a diet shake.  Which one's going to keep you full and going longer?   Which one's going to taste better and will your body find more satisfying?  Which one is adding true nutritional value to your diet, improving your immune system and your overall health?  

Hint: it's not the diet shake.  If it were, we wouldn't have had the last 25 years of watching Oprah gain and lose weight to learn from and for comedians to make jokes about.

Finding that balance and choosing to make changes, not just for immediate weight-loss but for a healthier life, is a lifelong battle.  I know there are ways I could lose weight more quickly than I am – diet drinks, pills, skipping meals, longer exercise sessions – but I know those aren't health encouraging choices.  They're also not choices that are going to last, and they're choices that will come back to cause me harm and more frustration in the future.  

This week, I want to know:

What is a realistic goal for you?  Do you have any landmarks in your weight-loss journey?   And with five weeks to go, what is one lasting change you're hoping to gain from this Meltdown?