Weight loss menu. Simplicity is the key.

Before I started this weight loss journey last summer—back when I could eat whatever I wanted—choices were sometimes overwhelming. I’d make selections based on what I felt like eating rather than what was good for me. I rarely planned ahead, which meant I was spending a lot of money eating out.

My current limited weekday menu is actually quite liberating. I don’t have to give it much thought. My biggest challenge is alternating it enough so that I don’t get bored. I also tend to stay at my desk to eat lunch when I really should get away from my office and take a break. I get a bit more creative with my food on weekends when I have more time.

A few people have asked me what I’m eating, so I thought I’d display my very simple weekday menu here; pardon my very limited photography skills. I get a lot of my protein from dairy and nuts. I just prefer the taste of milk/yogurt/cheese/eggs over chicken/beef/seafood.

Breakfast always includes:

Coffee with 2 tablespoons sugar-free Coffee-Mate vanilla creamer

1 teaspoon sugar-free Metamucil fiber, 2 adult chewable vitamins, 1 chewable calcium vitamin

…and one of the following options:

1 cup skim milk and 3/4 c Cheerios

1 slice of toast with 1 Tbsp Laura Scudder peanut butter

1 slice of toast with 1 scrambled egg (fried with a few squirts of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter)

Mid-morning snack options:

Raw Almonds, 1 oz (that's about 19 almonds) - surprisingly satisfying!

Ham and Cheese or Turkey and Cheese Roll

Ham & Cheese Roll: Measure out 1.25 oz Ham (1 slice) and 0.5 oz Cheese (cut this cheese in half)

Turkey & Cheese Rolls: Measure out 1.25 oz Turkey (2 slices) and 0.5 oz Cheese (cut this cheese in half)

Lunch options:

A salad. Always a salad. 2 cups of Romaine, 1 tsp fat free Italian (sometimes), and usually cucumbers, Chinese pea pods, celery, carrots

Dannon Lite & Fit Yogurt (1/2 cup) with Raspberries (3/4 cup)

Dannon Lite & Fit Yogurt (1/2 cup) with Raspberries (3/4 cup)

Dannon Lite & Fit Yogurt (1/2 cup) with Strawberries (3/4 cup)

One of my favorite lunches: 1 apple, 1 oz cheese and 9 raw almonds.

My latest discovery: Progresso Light Chicken Noodle Soup. Extremely hearty and satisfying!

Afternoon snack options – always a nutrition bar. Must have something sweet in the afternoon!

ZonePerfect Cashew Pretzel protein bar

ZonePerfect Cashew Pretzel protein bar

Lindora Peppermint Cocoa Crunch Bar

Dinner options. What I eat for dinner varies quite a bit. It always includes a salad similar to the one I had at lunch, as well as…

Dinner always includes a piece of fruit—usually an orange.

And perhaps:

Lemon Garlic Shrimp – 1 tsp olive oil, minced garlic, 2.5 oz cooked shrimp, lemon wedge

An omelette. Heat up 1 tsp olive oil, add minced garlic, onions and tomato, add egg. Yum.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Evening snack options:

Always a Lindora Wildberry Passion drink (15 grams of protein, 3 carbs) after our workout at the gym

What are your favorite standard weight loss menu items?

What if…? It’s about so much more than losing weight.

I found some notes in my food journal—written on August 6, 2011—at the very early stages of my weight loss.  It’s a prayer I want to remember as I continue on this journey.

What if I have underestimated myself? What if I can do much, much more than I ever thought I could?

What if I can truly envision, for once, the good that can happen?

How powerful I can feel.

How much control I can have.

How far I can go.

Lord, please help me reach this goal. To accomplish what I set out to do.

To be healthy.

To honor the life you have given me.

To not waste my good health.

To be an inspiration to others.

To feel a sense of rightness and balance.

To feel light and small but powerful and strong.

To establish the pathway for a healthy old age. To be active, able to help others rather than needing help.

Amen.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
—Philippians 4:13

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
—Isaiah 40:28-31

The way station was nice, but I’m moving on…

Way Station No. 2. Artist: David Carmack Lewis

“…Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension, the tension between what one has already achieved and what one still ought to accomplish, or the gap between what one is and what one should become… What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.”
—Victor Frankl, as quoted in Lean for Life Phase Two: Lifetime Solutions

This past summer, my husband and I took a driving trip across the United States to support my nephew as he graduated from Army boot camp. We traveled from southern California to South Carolina and back again. It was an adventure, but sometimes it was grueling; the stops along the way were very brief—only to gas up, eat, and sleep. On the other side of the country, we had about five days of rest. We stayed put, saw some sites, and just hung out with each other. The respite was much needed, but eventually we had to say farewell and get back on the road.

The journey to lose 95 pounds will be long and sometimes grueling.

I’ve been at the same weight for almost two months. I have enjoyed the side trip that was this weight, because the contrast between 225 and 188 pounds is enormous. It has felt fantastic. I have felt light and free.

However, at my current weight, I’m starting to feel as yucky as I did at 225.  I feel big. I feel encumbered. My reality check mirror is telling me the truth. You’ve got a ways to go, chica. Get back on the trail.

So the little side trip I took, hanging out at this weight, this way station? I’m done with this place. It was tempting to stay, but I’ve stayed too long. It’s not home. There are much better destinations ahead.

Undeserved weight maintenance. Again.

My husband and I had a kicka** session at the gym today—after having seven days off. It felt so good to MOVE, to get the blood flowing, to use my muscles, especially after feeling so awful last week.  We were completely exhausted afterwards—but it was that kind of tired that feels so good and relaxing.

Before working out, I weighed myself on the scale in the locker room: 189 lbs. The gym scale has always registered my weight at one pound higher than the scale at the Lindora clinic; thus, I have not gained any weight. I have not gained any weight!!! (From now on I’ll be using the gym scale as my primary, official gauge, even though it’s a pound higher.)

It is, once again, undeserved weight maintenance as I’ve been off program for about three weeks.  Except for last week, we’ve continued going to the gym, which I’m certain has helped offset the extra food I’ve been eating.

Mind you, my jeans are tighter, so I know I must have gained fat and lost muscle, but I’m still totally tripping out that I didn’t pack on 5-10 lbs. That’s what I expected.

This hasn’t been my usual gorgefest that is Christmastime. I haven’t gone all out crazy, but I have imbibed. Oh yes, I have. Tamales. Tacos. Spanish rice. Refried beans. Chocolate chip cookies. Popcorn with butter and parmesan. Barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and buttery bread. But not every day. I’ve also eaten lots of soup, salad/veggies, fruit, yogurt.  The only thing I can figure is I’ve been much more aware of what I’m doing. I haven’t just mindlessly porked out.

I have enjoyed eating off-program food guilt-free, knowing I’m taking a break from the diet, knowing I’ll get back on track soon.

Because if you’re not going to enjoy it, then what’s the point?

So… I’m on a total high, knowing I don’t have too much damage to repair as I refocus my eating and exercise efforts toward my goal.

By the way, I love the new Weight Watchers commercial where Jennifer Hudson’s old and new self are singing “Believe.” Fun to imagine the former old me and the future new me standing right next to each other. I’m standing here beside myself…

Weight Watchers – Jennifer Hudson: I believe in you and me

Check it out: An inspiring blog about losing 135 lbs and keeping it off

During my sick-on-the-sofa week last week, I came across an amazing blog written by Andie, age 26, who lost 135 pounds five years ago. How she lost it, why she lost it, how she’s keeping it off… it’s so much more than a list of to-do’s and shoulds; it’s an emotional journey she has traveled successfully.

Andie’s writing is insightful, inspiring, and even lyrical. Here’s some good stuff from her Peace with Food post:

Throughout my lifetime I developed what Geneen Roth calls “the inclination to bolt.”Since I didn’t confront my emotional eating until I had lost all the weight, I met it at a time when I was sober from food. I was a thin person reconciling with two decades of compulsive eating. It’s like drinking yourself into an oblivion at night, getting sober by morning and having to clean up the house party you didn’t realize you threw. I came to understand that ending my emotional eating meant resisting Roth’s “inclination to bolt.” I had to stay here, to sit with myself. Just as I wouldn’t turn away from a friend who needed me, I had to love myself as much. I promised the little girl, the teenager, and the adult versions of me that I was going to stick around for the hard parts and that I was willing to feel. I made an agreement to fully live in the present moment. Because if I leave the moment when I feel uncomfortable, I am missing the opportunity to grow, to learn, to be strong, and to be loved.      —Andie, CanYouStayForDinner.com

For the most part, it seems Andie has come to terms with her issues with weight and exercise. She found her happy weight and discovered how to maintain it. She’s honest about what she misses about being fat; otherwise, I would have thought she was too perfect to be listened to. 🙂

Give yourself an hour to check out these inspirational posts:

CanYouStayForDinner? – My Exercise History

CanYouStayForDinner? – What I Miss from 135 lbs Ago

CanYouStayForDinner? – The Journey to Lose 135 lbs

CanYouStayForDinner? – Maintenance

CanYouStayForDinner? – Peace with Food

Enjoy. I sure did! 🙂

A Christmas cold, thoughts on John Forsythe, and taking action in 2012!

Bachelor Father TV Show 1957-1962

I spent the final week of 2011 sick, laying in bed or sprawled on the couch, loaded up on Nyquil or Dayquil. Started feeling crummy on Christmas Day. There’s nothing like being having a super nasty cold/flu combo to make me appreciate my health. Thank you, Lord. Exercise and eating right staved off my annual fall cold, but the bug finally caught me.

So… I just don’t feel like analyzing the year that has just passed. I don’t feel like making any hollow New Year’s resolutions.  Just want to keep on, keeping on…

I discovered Antenna TV during my sick sojourn on the sofa. I especially liked Bachelor Father, a sitcom that aired from 1957 to 1962, about a man named Bentley Gregg who adopts his teenage niece after her parents are killed in a car accident. It’s like a super clean, totally unpolitically correct version of Two and a Half Men. John Forsythe plays the uncle. What a voice! And he’s such a smokin’ hot studmuffin! It’s fun just looking at and listening to him. He had a long TV career, including major roles in Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty. He died in 2010 at age 92.

During one episode, Bentley’s 13-year-old niece wants to go out on her first date. Bentley discusses this with another father and he laments about “kids these days. They’re growing up so much faster than we did.”  The show aired during the early years of my parents’ long marriage. They’d had four of their seven kids by the time the show ended.  Simpler times back then. More marriages stayed intact, for better or for worse.  Comedy was clean. Sure, women didn’t have the choices they have today; the civil rights movement was just beginning, and yet…  I feel a bit nostalgic for a time in which I never lived.

2012 is upon us now. My 19-year-old nephew can barely sit at a table with us for two minutes before he’s pulling out his smartphone to text or listen to music or play games. He cannot tolerate boredom or silence for any amount of time. Fortunately, his girlfriend takes his phone away from him when they’re together. Smart girl.

As for resolutions… None of those here. Just actions. Actions that will be documented on this blog as I press toward my goal—a journey that I began last July.  Looking forward to reading about your actions too this year! 🙂

Happy New Year!

Origins of my lifelong struggle with weight

I’ve been struggling to answer a question my sister asked me over a month ago:

How does the journey seem to you?  How are you making yourself ready to be that size?  It seems like you almost have to go back to the age you were at that weight last and emotionally work through what has happened in your life since then, sort it out and put it in its place as the adult you are now—kinda like your body’s time clock of life.

The question has prompted me to explore the origins of my lifelong struggle with weight. My perception of myself has always been that of an overweight girl. How can I get myself to believe otherwise, to let my head catch up with my body?

As I delve into the past, I don’t want to have a victim mentality where I blame others for my choices. These are only possible reasons and influences for my struggles. Any blame for my excessive weight lies squarely on my shoulders: I have been the one who has put the food in my mouth. And sat on the sofa. Me alone.

Generational issues with weight: It started before I was even born…

Circa 1946: Mom and her little sister

My dear sweet Mom, God rest her soul, was probably the biggest influence on my attitude toward food and body image.

My Mom was eight years older than her little sister. Mom had to take care of her a lot, especially while their parents, who were heavy drinkers, went out and partied. Her mother and sister were thin, stylish and beautiful, while my Mom was stocky, sturdy and plain (only in her family’s eyes; I see photos of her growing up and think she was adorable).  She always felt like the oaf in the room who could never measure up.

Several years ago, my sister found a bunch of letters written to my Mom from my Grandma. My Mom was 19 years old and living with several girlfriends, just before she met and married my Dad at age 20. In those letters my Mom was nagged constantly about her weight:

  • 9/9/1954You must peel off a few more pounds and don’t forget to take your vitamins.”
  • 10/20/1954 “Now kiddo, you’re going to get bawled out, but good. If you don’t take of twenty pounds by Thanksgiving, we’re not taking you and Carol home with us. Now I mean it. Daddy was very disappointed when he saw you hefty again. Quit worrying about your job and you’ll not eat sweets.”
  • 11/15/1954 “Hi skinny! I hope. Are the pills working? They should, but be careful.”
  • 12/13/1954 “It was nice to see you even if it was for only a few minutes. You’re looking marvelous and we are so happy you’re not fat anymore. How are the pills holding out? I just hope you don’t always have to take them.”

You get the gist. It’s painful just transcribing it. Those are spirit wounding words. I could feel my Mom’s pain, knowing how she felt about herself back then. Our Mom never, ever, ever talked to us like that.

Check out this photo of my Mom at age 21, just after she had her first baby. And she felt fat.

My parents met at a dance, got engaged after one week, and married three months later.  They had seven kids. They were married for 52 years until my Mom died of Alzheimer’s in 2007.

My Dad dearly loved my Mom. However, about the same time my parents got married, my Dad’s brother married a cute, confident, petite woman with whom my Dad always compared my Mom. It was tough for Mom, going to family events and knowing my Dad wanted her to be more like his brother’s wife. It was a lifelong comparison in which my Mom always came up short.

Mom at her smallest size in many, many years, wearing her snazzy outfit and expressing her joie de vivre

Mom was always at war against her weight. In her 60’s, she finally found a diet that worked. At her new petite size, she was having a blast buying fun clothes and accessories. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004 at age 68, she was at her lightest weight in probably 40 years.

My family of origin.

I’m the youngest of seven. Mom and Dad had three girls, three boys, then me. By the time I was eight, my sisters had moved out of the house and it was just me and the boys.

Mom and me (age 9) on a family trip

For the majority of my childhood, my Mom stayed at home to take care of us. We were so, so blessed to have her. Mom was my confidant when I got home from school, listening to me talk about my day over milk and cookies or cheese and crackers.  When I was a teenager, Mom and I watched soap operas together in the summertime — a guilty pleasure. When my Dad drove up our long driveway, we’d scramble to turn off the TV and start cleaning or cooking, as if that’s what we’d been doing all day. We’d smile at each other. We were complicit in our deception.

Me at age 7 scarfing on lemon meringue pie. It was Thanksgiving, after all. 🙂

We were a dessert-after-dinner family, so there was always cake or cookies in the house. I remember one time, Mom made a batch of chocolate chip cookies and they were gone before I got to have one. From that point forward, I always made sure I ate plenty as soon as they were out of the oven — just in case I didn’t get any later.

For a couple of years Mom worked at a cookie factory called Grandma’s Cookies. She’d bring home cases of the stuff. My favorite: chocolate mint — those wafer cookies with mint on top, covered in fudge.  My brothers and I would constantly badger her to let us have some. My exasperated Mom finally gave up. She put 10 cookies in a baggy and told us that’s all we could have for the entire day. I remember waking up the next morning, excited about getting another bag of cookies. I’d often finish them by noon. But I’d find a way to sneak into the freezer or cupboard to get more.

I remember my Mom saying to me, “You’re always thinking about your gut.” It was true.

I recently found a diary I wrote at age 10, in 1980. There were clues there… Even at an early age, food redeemed a bad day.

Today I had a terrible day. Even though it’s Sunday, I had to go to the Andersons (they are old people from church) with mom and dad. I was wasting a lot of time there too. I was just sitting around. We did get to have caramel corn today. We stopped at Dairy Queen. I got a dilly bar.

Oh, those brothers.

I always thought I was fat. Always. Despite looking back on family pictures and seeing evidence to the contrary. My brothers never let me forget.

This kid (me, age 7) was not fat.

One brother called me Hemisphere because, “You’re not as big as the whole world, but you’re as big as half of it.” It was sort of an affectionate nickname, but painful nonetheless. When I would walk across the floor, my brothers would yell, “Boom, boom, boom” in sync with my steps.  In adulthood, they have all apologized to me for any damage they may have done to me as a kid. (No worries, brothers! I’m over it. Love you guys!). Just thinking back on things…

As far as I can recall, when I was little, my Dad wouldn’t comment directly to me about my weight. He would say things like, “Put your shoulders back,” or “Stand up straight.” He’d make indirect comments about fat people in general — a not-so-subtle way to get his message across. It wasn’t until we were adults that Dad really started making comments directly to my sisters and me about our weight.

Kids can be so mean…

Me posing at age 13

In school, I wasn’t a nerd but I wasn’t super popular either. I didn’t get picked on and I had plenty of friends.  I played soccer from the third grade all the way through high school, but that was only about four months a year. I also played basketball from fifth through ninth grade. Those sports are probably what kept me from being an obese child.

At age 16, my legs were definitely getting thicker...

There were a handful of times when someone would comment on my weight — and about my butt, in particular. I remember those comments well because they were so painful.

1980, age 10. From my diary: “It’s getting harder and harder to like Stacey. She’s always being so mean. Today at basketball she goes, ‘You’ve got a big butt.’”

1982, age 12. On a trip to Victoria, Canada with my Mom and a sister, I was walking down the street by myself. An older boy I didn’t know hollered at me from a block away — a block away! He yelled, “You have a huge butt!”

1985, age 15. During a one-week summer soccer camp, I was only one of only two girls on an all-boy team. The team captain couldn’t see me standing behind a tall boy and asked my female teammate: “Where’s your fat friend?”

1987, age 17. Here’s a positive comment. : ) Going off to college, meeting new people, one girl asked me, “Are you an athlete?” I told her I played soccer. She said, “I thought so.”

Age 17, leaving home for college

1989, age 19. Going inner tubing down a river with a bunch of college friends. Behind me, a guy named Steve yells, “Jen!” I turn around. “What?” He says, “You have a big butt!” I tried keeping my butt under water after that.

So that brings us through the first two decades of the origins of my struggles with weight.

I’ll save the rest for another post…

Is this TMI? Too much info? Am I boring ya’all to tears?