Keep the light turned on: Energy efficient weight loss

An airplane gets most of its wear and tear during takeoff and landing.  Stop-and-go traffic is brutal on your gas mileage. Frequently turning a light on and off takes more energy than just leaving it on. As my husband tells me, that’s why those energy efficient light bulbs turn on low, and gradually get brighter and brighter.

Red Light Green Light. Photo by Nick Krug.

Remember that game we played as kids – Red Light Green Light? Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Don’t get caught moving.

The actions of stopping and starting are brutal to a lifelong weight management/exercise regimen. It breaks you down. It saps your energy. It’s discouraging. It costs your body a fortune.

I’ve noticed that a lot of fellow bloggers who have lost—or are in the process of losing—large amounts of weight are doing it in chunks. Pun intended. 🙂  They will lose 30 or 40 pounds, maintain that weight for a while, then continue on their downward, forward motion. Even with a maintenance “break,” they are making a continuous progress in the right direction. They never fully stop. And once in maintenance mode, they don’t stop watching their intake (food) and output (exercise).

In my 20s, I remember being constantly unhappy about my size. I was always trying to lose weight. In the meantime, I worked out fairly regularly on my NordicTrack. I played indoor soccer.

Because I was always looking at the negative, I failed to recognize the positive, wonderful truth:  I could basically eat what I wanted (within reason) and not gain weight, as long as I kept exercising.

The last several months of weight maintenance have been a great test. Everyone is different, but it seems my metabolism rewards me for regular workouts. I can enjoy occasional, delectable, decadent meals without doing serious damage to myself.

It’s such an encouraging, hopeful feeling. Because there is a little voice inside my head saying, “Why bother losing all this weight? You’ll never change, not really. You’ll just gain it back. You have before.”  Because I’m a girl who loves food. Apparently, I can have my cake and eat it, too, within reason—as long as I keep my body moving. As long as I don’t stop.

I can lose this weight. And I’ll be able to keep it off.

There is only one condition: Don’t ever stop. Keep the light on. Keep my butt moving.

Now we’ve just got to get back to the gym after a 2-week hiatus.

Self pep talk from the past…

This is the button that popped off of my size 16 pants. Buttons don't lie!

It’s been over a month since my last post on February 8th. Blog silence is not a good thing. It means I don’t have good news. I haven’t been keeping my commitment to lose weight. I don’t want to bore you all with my pathetic excuses. Most of all, I don’t want to discourage anyone. Losing weight and keeping it off is possible. People do it all the time. So I’m working on getting my head back in the game. I’m wishing I could have bottled up the motivation I felt last fall for how I’m feeling right now. Sigh.

I’m going to start with a note I wrote to myself almost ten years ago.

July 27, 2002

Life is great! The future is bright! There is so much to accomplish, and instead of feeling overwhelming, it’s motivating and exciting! Remember that Jennifer!

When it gets hard, and you’re down, and you’re wondering what’s the point – think of how incredible it’ll feel to accomplish this seemingly impossible goal.

Write when you want that pizza, that buttery popcorn, that hot fresh bread, that chocolate, that ice cream. Think of how uncomfortable it makes you feel to eat that – how too-full, bloated, gross gross gross you feel. You don’t even enjoy it all that much anyway. It just makes you feel huge, sick… and think of the lovely indigestion it causes.

And then there are the feelings of failure, of self-disgust, of self-recrimination. And how that can lead to more mistakes, more failures. Failure breeds failure, and success breeds success.

Oprah calls it that “Holy Moment” when you’re tempted and you want to give in. You have a choice. Do you give in, or do you take power over that temptation and say – Dammit, No! There is so much freedom in knowing what to eat – and it is liberating to do the right thing! That’s Biblical even – the freedom in obeying God.

The wrong food is a prison, it is a kind of slavery, and it keeps you stuck in a spot and limits your world. It is death. It leads to terminal illness. What kind of hope is that? None. Hope is life. Hope is what keeps us alive.

Remember how good it feels when you’re addicted to exercise?! The rush, the adrenalin, the power, the knowledge that you are being productive and good to yourself. Best of all, the feeling afterwards. That warm shower, washing away all the sweat and soothing your muscles, the nice clean clothes, the pleasant, buzzing, relaxed feeling afterwards. It feels great!

Steam Room Diary: Unwelcome Companions

Photo by Sean Hanlon

During the day, I have found myself looking forward to the feeling I have at the end of my evening workout at the gym. The workouts themselves feel great. I’m kind of addicted! But it’s the feeling I get during my twenty minutes in the steam room, followed by my long, hot shower, that I like best. While my husband drives us home, my whole body feels sated and relaxed.

The steam room experience isn’t always consistent.  The best sessions are when I have the place to myself. I tune everything out. The hissing of the steam vents. The chatter in the locker room on the other side of the glass door. The splashing in the nearby pool. The thumping of the weights hitting the floor a couple of rooms away (took me a while to figure out what that sound was). It’s a great time to breathe easy, to think about nothing, to thing about everything, or to pray. Time slows down. I can completely relax.

But I’m not always alone. The best steam room companions are quiet, stay put, and are modest. Apparently, those are rare.

Instead, there are plenty of women who disturb the steam room peace. There is the pre-teen who can’t stand the heat and keeps stepping outside to cool off (where is her mother?), letting all the steam escape. Then there is the woman who walks in naked and sits on the platform. Who knows when that platform was last cleaned, and she’s adding her own ick to it.  Or the women who come in and talk too much.

Then there is the worst peace killer. It’s the chubby, top heavy white woman who comes wrapped in a towel with a bottle of lotion. She sits on her towel, wearing nothing, and pours lotion into her hands, then starts rubbing it all over her body. The extra wet lubrication of lotion on sweaty skin is positively obscene and absolutely revolting. Even more disturbing are the groans she makes. What the ****? Can it get any worse? Yes. She starts slapping herself, hard, all over her body. And the groans continue. Then suddenly she stops and runs out of the room to the shower. She’s back in a minute to continue her ministrations to herself…

I stayed in the steam room the first time because I was so curious to see what she would do and just how far she would go in this semi-public place. It was just that bizarre. It was like a train wreck. But a couple of nights later, five minutes into my steam room session, in she comes with her bottle of lotion. I had to leave. I couldn’t allow my eyes and ears to be subjected to that again. And I wasn’t brave enough to ask her what she was doing. Whatever it was, it made her feel good. But it ruined my good feelings. Yuck.

I went home and Googled “slapping skin in steam room,” trying to determine if I was witnessing a cultural thing. In Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia, there is a tradition of hitting fellow sauna-goers with leafy, wet birch bunches (according to Wikipedia). Also, everything I read about steam rooms is that they are completely nonsexual in all cultures. There are even coed, mandatory nudity rooms in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

So flappy, slappy, nasty lady is apparently a phenomenon—a very unwelcome one, at that.

As long as I don’t run into her, my steam room sessions are awesome.

Here is my food for the past week.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Pedometer: 16,205
Exercise: 30 min treadmill, 20 min ab workout
Time Serving Size Food Carbs
7:45am 1 slice Whole wheat bread – toast 11
1 Egg 1
6 squirts I can’t believe it’s not butter spray 0
1 mug Coffee 0
2 Tbsp Sugar free Coffee-mate vanilla creamer 2
1 tsp Sugar free Metamucil 0
2 Adult chewable vitamins 0
11am 1 Lindora Oatmeal Raisin protein bar 13
1 Coffee with creamer 3
1:45pm 1 Morningstar Veggie Burger 3
1 tsp Mustard 0
2 c Romaine lettuce 3
1/2 c Cucumber 1.5
1/2 c Chinese pea pods 5.5
4:30pm 1 oz String cheese 1
7pm 1 c Edamame soy beans (measured in pods) 10.5
1 Orange 14
11:15pm 1 Lindora orange protein drink 3
Total Carbs 71.5
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Pedometer: 13,498
Exercise: 30 min treadmill, 30 min lower body strength training
Time Serving Size Food Carbs
8am 3/4 c Cheerios 12
1 c Skim milk 12
1 mug Coffee 0
2 Tbsp Sugar free Coffee-mate vanilla creamer 2
1 tsp Sugar free Metamucil 0
2 Adult chewable vitamins 0
10:30am 1 Lindora Oatmeal Raisin protein bar 13
1 Coffee with creamer 3
1pm 1/2 c Dannon Lite & Fit yogurt 10
1 c Strawberries 11
2 c Romaine lettuce 3
1/2 c Cucumber 1.5
1/2 c Chinese pea pods 5.5
12 oz Diet Squirt 0
5pm 0.5 oz String cheese 0.5
1.25 oz Deli turkey breast 0.5
7pm 2.5 oz El Pollo Loco chicken 0
2 c El Pollo Loco salad 3
1/2 c El Pollo Loco Pico di Gallo 5
Lots Diet Coke 0
11:30pm 1 Lindora Wildberry Passion protein drink 3
Total Carbs 85
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Pedometer: 14,591
Exercise: 30 min treadmill, 15 min crossramp, 20 min water aerobics
Notes: A bad day. I was tired and bummed out. Felt like a spoiled brat, like it wasn’t fair that I had to eat right. I stayed on track anyway. Huge success, though – I felt terrible physically but still went to the gym. It was AWESOME. It felt great. It completely changed how I felt in every way.
Time Serving Size Food Carbs
8am 3/4 c Cheerios 12
1 c Skim milk 12
1 mug Coffee 0
2 Tbsp Sugar free Coffee-mate vanilla creamer 2
1 tsp Sugar free Metamucil 0
2 Adult chewable vitamins 0
10:15am 0.5 oz String cheese 0.5
1.25 oz Deli turkey breast 0.5
12pm 1 ZonePerfect Trail Mix bar 13
Coffee with 2 creamers 6
2:30pm 1 bag Lindora Onion Soy Puffs (Excellent!) 8
4:30pm 1 ZonePerfect Chocolate Mint bar 13
6:30pm 1 Egg 1
1/2 small Tomato 5
1/4 c Onion 3
1/2 small Grapefruit 10
Lots Water 0
8:30pm 8 oz Lindora Chocolate protein shake 1
11pm 1 Lindora Orange protein drink 3
Total Carbs 90
Friday, September 9, 2011 – Protein Day and Free Meal
Pedometer: 9,537
Exercise: Nothing formal
Time Serving Size Food Carbs
8am 1 c Skim milk 12
1 mug Coffee 0
2 Tbsp Sugar free Coffee-mate vanilla creamer 2
1 tsp Sugar free Metamucil 0
2 Adult chewable vitamins 0
10:45am 0.5 oz String cheese 0.5
1.25 oz Deli turkey breast 0.5
12:30pm 1 bag Lindora Onion Soy Puffs 8
2:45pm 1 ZonePerfect Trail Mix bar 13
4:30pm 8 oz Lindora Chocolate protein shake 1
7pm 1 slice Coscto pizza slice 65
Half Costco hot dog with bun (no toppings) 24
Total Carbs 126

Day 8: “You should really do something about your weight.”

My husband and I haven’t seen family much this year.  Not sure why – everyone is just going in a million different directions.  So when his brother needed to borrow a tool, my husband asked if I’d like to go along with him to deliver it.  I said, sure! I haven’t seen him in a long time! Let’s just call my husband’s brother Joe.

We arrived at his new home (he has just moved to a nice big home this summer with his wife and kids) while Joe and another of my husband’s brothers was there.  Both brothers has lost a ton of weight since I’d seen them last.  They looked great.  They were in the middle of painting the bathroom.

So Joe took a break and sat with us outside. He offered us some fruit salad, which I turned down.  When he persisted, saying “It’s good for you!” I had to say, “I’m on my protein day of the Lindora program I’m on, so I can’t have that right now.” (Again, it’s impossible to do this secretly.) After sitting for a bit and chitchatting, Joe looked at me and asked, “So just how much weight have you gained since your wedding?” (We just got married last December.)  I looked at him in surprise.  “How much do you think I’ve gained?” I asked.  He said, “Looks like 20 lbs.”  I was shocked – I’ve gained about 10. So we talked about exercise and how he’s lost about 25 lbs this summer and he talked lots of “you shoulds” to both my husband and me.

As we were leaving, he and I were alone for a moment and he says to me, “Jen, you should really do something about your weight. Just stand in front of the mirror, get naked and really look at yourself. Get motivated. We’re all getting older and we need to take better care of ourselves. And get my brother to work on it, too.”

Words spoken in love. Truly I believe that.  But I was so bummed afterward just the same.  It made me think, “What’s the point? I must really look disgusting and I didn’t realize how bad I’d gotten. How can my husband stand me?”  It made me want to eat! It was so weird.  Basically, his words didn’t help. Not one bit. I know I need to lose weight.  Having someone tell me who hasn’t seen me for a while is discouraging and depressing.

It made me want to quit.  And I thought of this blog.  And the one friend I’ve told about it. And how silly it would be to quit after just one week and the comments of one brother-in-law.  I told my husband how his brothers words bothered me. My husband said, “You know he loves you and he’s just trying to help.” Something like that.

So, I had a successful protein day anyway.  And we had El Pollo Loco again for dinner and I had a chicken breast with the skin removed.  It was like ambrosia, it was so good. We bought an extra chicken because they have the $4 for the 2nd chicken deal so I can eat on it for a couple of days.

While we were eating our chicken, I was telling  my husband about when I had met with Georgene at the Lindora clinic, she had asked me if I eat out a lot.  I had told her we eat out almost every day.  She asked what I chose to eat?  I told her, anything I want to. In other words, I didn’t make healthy choices.   So my husband wisely says,”So now you’re still eating whatever you want. You’re just wanting different things with a different result at the end.”  Yeah! He’s so smart.  Just love it when he makes sense, which is most of the time. : )

Exercise for today:  55 minutes on the treadmill, 5 minutes on the elliptical.

Food for today:

  • 9:30am 1 c skim milk (12), 2 chewable vitamins (3)
  • 12:00pm Zone Perfect bar, blueberry (13)
  • 2:30pm 2.5 oz roasted chicken (o) with mustard (0)
  • 4:30pm Lindora Chocolate Chocolate bar (13)
  • 8:00pm El Pollo Loco chicken breast with skin removed (0)
  • TOTAL:  41

Day 7: It’s No Secret

Today, Day 6 of my Lindora Lean for Life program, it occurred to me during our  Halloween party at work (a week early due to busy schedules) as everyone chowed down on the best pizza in the world as I chomped on my Romain, celery, cucumber and turkey – it’s impossible to quietly conduct a scientific experiment on my body (I’m trying really hard not to call it a diet).  It’s no secret.  It’s extremely public.  They already know I’ve been eating differently this week as we usually all order in. One asked me, “Aren’t you going to join us for pizza?” Another asked, “Can’t you have a cheat day?”  “Nope – not yet,” I reply. “Falling off the program this early on would mess up my head.”  But it felt weird, and anti-social, and martyr-like.  BUT, it was casual day at work so I had worn my one pair of jeans that fit me the best.  They were already loose!  What a fantastic feeling!!!  Worth skipping the pizza.

Exercise for the day… I purposely skipped the gym this morning as that deep down tired feeling that precedes sickness hit me late last night.

Food for today:

  • 7:30am 3/4 c. cheerios (12), 1 c skim milk (12), coffee, 2 chewable vitamins (3)
  • No snack!
  • 1:00pm 2.5 oz. roast turkey (0), 2 c lettuce (3), 1/2 c celery (3), 1/2 c cucumber (1.5), 1 T. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing (3), Orange (14), Diet Pepsi
  • 2:45pm Zone Perfect bar – blueberry flavored – GOOD! (13)
  • 6:30pm Lindora BBQ Soy Puffs (8)
  • 8:00pm WENT OFF PROGRAM:  Went to family’s restaurant “The Ranch” with my husband.  I didn’t have what I usually do (which is a bowl or two of chips with salsa with 2 hard shell beef tacos, rice, beans, Diet Pepsi followed by Orange Bang). Instead, I had the Carne Asada plate. I ate about a quarter of the Carne Asada (aka beef round), half the beans, all the rice, onions, cilantro, guacamole and 3 tortillas.  It was sooooo good but I didn’t feel like a pig whatsoever.  Rationalization or not, I told my husband I’d like to go out with him each Friday night at the end of my week, before my protein day, and have a normal restaurant meal where I make smarter choices – not just have whatever I want. I’ve got to think of the LONG term – not only the year or so it’s going to take me to lose 80 lbs., but how I’m going to keep it off afterwards. He’s so supportive.
  • TOTAL:  unknown

Days 5-6: Getting Harder

A 14-hour day yesterday full of urgent deadlines and can’t-put-off-until-tomorrow projects made it hard to remember to eat my snacks/meals until I was famished. Then I’d eat my salad and cold chicken and apple, wishing I had a nice big meal including large amounts of warm bread – my comfort food.  If I remember to eat before I get crazy hungry, then I’m much more satisfied with my food. The folks at Lindora know what they are doing.  There is a method to the madness. Got home at 9pm cranky and snappish because I hadn’t expected to be at work that long and I hadn’t taken my dinner food. I’d eaten a Zone bar instead.

Add to that I tweaked the heck out of my back on the treadmill yesterday morning – right smack dab in the middle. Being busy with underlying pain that you’re not sure is going to worse on top of a seemingly insurmountable work load – if someone talked carelessly to me I would’ve cried. And it was depressing to realize how easily it is to get hurt, being as heavy as I am.

But, as my wonderful husband said this morning, as I lay on the sofa at 5:15am, not wanting to go to the gym because my eyes burned from being tired and my back hurt, “You’ve just got to push through it.”  I was about to cry with self-pity; a few tears fell. Then he said, “Just go back to bed.  You don’t have to go all out at the beginning.” I headed to our bedroom and decided to put on my tennies and just go.  Something weird about being told I can quit.  It somehow inspires me not to.

The 30-minute treadmill workout this morning felt GREAT.  I thanked God and my husband that I just went to the gym despite the way I felt. It lifted my spirits and made me feel powerful.

Food from yesterday, October 21:

  • 7:30am 3/4 c. cheerios (12), 1 c skim milk (12), coffee
  • 10:30am Lindora Chocolate Chocolate Bar (13)
  • 12:15pm 2.5 oz. Sirloin (0), 2 c lettuce (3), 1/2 c celery (3), 1/2 c cucumber (1.5), 1 T. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing (3), Apple (17), Diet Pepsi, 2 chewable vitamins (3)
  • 3:30pm Lindora BBQ Soy Puffs (8)
  • 6:30pm Zone bar (13)
  • 9:30pm Lindora Wildberry Passion protein drink (3)
  • TOTAL:  91

Today’s food:

  • 7:30am 3/4 c. cheerios (12), 1 c skim milk (12), coffee, 2 chewable vitamins (3)
  • 10:30am Lindora Chocolate Chocolate Bar (13)
  • 2:00pm  2.5 oz roasted chicken (o) with mustard (0), 2 c lettuce (3), 1/2 c celery (3), 1/4 c carrots (4), 1 T. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing (3), apple (17), Diet Pepsi
  • 6:00pm Lindora Chocolate Chocolate Pudding (7)
  • 8:00pm  El Pollo Loco meal approved by Lindora:  Chicken (0), salad (3) with fat free dressing
  • TOTAL: 80