Saturday, March 17, 2018

I'm Not Sure I Can Do This

Over the last few days, I've had this thought pop into my mind: "I'm not sure I can do this..." It's kind of a hesitant, "I just don't know" kind of feeling... not distress or worry or even discouragement. Just a sense of how big this thing is. How I have lost weight before, but wasn't able to *keep* losing when I wanted to and sure as heck wasn't able to maintain. I mean, the closest thing I've done to "maintaining" was keeping my monthly weigh-ins between 175 and 186 for eight months in 2010-11. But before I get to a maintenance attempt, I have to get to a weight low enough to call maintenance.

For now, I sit at 202 pounds. I first hit 202 on February 26th and have not gotten lower since. In a way I feel like I need to be at this weight for now... just sort of slow it down and get used to being smaller for a couple weeks before moving on to the 100's. Maybe this is actually the part of losing weight (and eventually maintenance) that I need to not get frustrated with or try to skip through. If I am not gaining, then 202 is an okay place to be, right now, today.

I had to be patient when I decided to stop tracking, measuring, and restricting in order to reset my emotional state about food (and, possibly, my metabolism). I gained for awhile, and I had to learn to be okay with that as a side effect of the work I was doing to heal from disordered eating. I think that was the right thing to do, because it *did* heal something in me and greatly reduced my food obsession and compulsion to eat. Maybe this is the same. I have to be patient because I am deciding not to freak out or try and force my body to hurry up and lose weight faster. I am not doing the same thing I did before. I won't be frantic about it or feel like a failure. I am fostering the same thing with the scale and my weight number as I did with my eating and diet: calmness. The essential part of being able to do this, for me, is having that calmness about food, weight, numbers, speed of loss, clothing size, fat blobs on my legs, loose skin on my arms, and everything else that comes with this process. That's what I didn't quite get before: the calmness. It's anxiety and distress and fear that drove me to binge long ago; those emotions were at the root of my eating disorders. Of course I still have some times when weight-related emotional drama pops up this time around, like when I tried on a brand new sweater that I was saving in the back of my closet for when I could fit into it and discovered that I somehow missed the window and it is huge on me now. I started to go into a spin of "I wanted to wear this pretty sweater! I bought it as a 'goal' sweater that I could work towards as I lost weight. I wasted money on this! Now it's too big! Why is it so huge on me?" but then I made the choice to foster calmness and say, "how wonderful that I am smaller now, and won't this be a great gift to someone who can use it?"

Panic about food and weight was one of the reasons I got fat in the first place. Calmness about it will be the reason I am able to lose this weight and keep it off this time.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dr. Appointment and Input on Maintenance

Yesterday I went for my regular appointment with the endocrinologist where I was weighed and assessed for how my weight loss is going and how my thyroid and blood sugar are doing. But I also wanted to talk to the doctor about "after phentermine" and "what about maintenance?" So we had a good chat about those things.

She was really pleased with my weight loss, and said my bloodwork all looked great including my thyroid numbers. My A1C is 5.1 and I have no major side effects from the phentermine (heart sounds good, blood pressure is great! I think it was 116/70). She wrote me two more refills for the phentermine, but I told her the weight loss is slowing down and it's not suppressing my appetite as well as it used to. She told me that is normal, but as long as I am still losing weight it is probably helping more than I think.

She told me that I should set incremental goals: the first one should be getting under 200 pounds. I asked what she thought my goal weight should be, and she said I should think back to what I weighed after high school and add 15 pounds to that, which would be in the 155-160 range. She also suggested that even at 170 she would be very happy if I could maintain that weight. She also said that at 185 pounds I would no longer be "obese" by the BMI charts, which could be a good goal for me as well. I think that is going to be my next goal after 199: to get to 185 and stay out of the "obese" category for life.

She also advised me that her patients who weigh daily have much better success at keeping the weight off than those who don't. I already weigh every day, so this is a great confirmation that I should continue. She said when I reach my goal weight, I should set a certain weight that is my emergency action weight... whether it's 5 or 7 or 8 pounds over my new maintenance weight. She said if I hit that weight I have to force myself to lose it, RIGHT THEN. Cut out all the extras, get back to basics, make sure I am exercising, and if needed come in for a phentermine prescription to get it back off. I think it is great that she is open to doing that. She said it is better to go back on it for a couple of weeks if I am struggling to get the small gain off than it would be to keep gaining and end up 20, 30, 50 pounds heavier and having to re-lose all that weight again. Makes sense to me.

Even though I am still sitting at 202 pounds, my clothing is getting looser again... especially most of my jeans. They are to the point that I have to wash them in hot water and dry them on high heat to be able to wear them and not have them too baggy! My measurements must be going down with the increased activity and that's encouraging even if the scale didn't show an overall loss for last week (although I did lose the 4 pounds I gained on our trip).

Feeling good... never giving up.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Issue of the Melting Arms

It's no secret that I don't like exercise. It's also no secret that I don't like the way my arms look with all the hanging fat and skin. Exhibit A:


On the left we have my original "Flabby Arms: Exposed for Renovation" post picture from April 2010, when I weighed 219 pounds. My upper arms were just under 17 inches around, and I was determined to exercise the heck out of them and get them looking good. On the right, we have my arms right now, weighing 202 pounds and 16 inches around. Aside from being paler and having a slightly more deflated but still hang-y look, there's not much difference.

I remember when I weighed 175 pounds and my arms got all the way down to 14.5 inches around. You'd think I would be elated... and I was, at the number. But not at the actual reality of how those 14.5 inch arms looked. In fact it was so disconcerting to me seeing all the deflated, hanging skin that I wrote this post called "I Don't Like My Melting Body" detailing how upsetting it was to me. I also noted that at 193 pounds, the hanging skin was there but not too bothersome. But at 185 pounds, I wrote that "the 'drippage' and 'melt effect' is astounding".

I'm only 17 pounds away from that weight where the skin hangs and causes me anxiety. I have always believed that *that* issue was one of the main reasons I regained weight: I just could not deal with the way my body was changing. That might seem lame to you, but it was not lame to me. I have 17 pounds of time to get to a place where I can handle this issue somehow, or I am doomed to stall, fail, or regain again. Part one of addressing this is talking to a counselor about it. Part two is doing what I can to have better arms (and other body parts) this time around. I've written so many blah blah blah posts about planning to exercise that I won't bore you with yet another, but I do have my arm routine in place, dumbbells out and ready, and "arm exercises" has been added to my weekly checklist. "Skin care" has been added too. I *have* taken more care over the whole of this phentermine weight loss period to use better moisturizer all over on a regular basis, but I am ramping it up and going back to the dry skin brushing routine I had in the past as well as using good lotion and taking a balanced mutivitamin, biotin, and fish oil. I know this probably won't prevent the loose skin. In fact, I know it won't. But I will feel better knowing I am doing all I can and when I hit that 185 pound mark, maybe, just maybe my arms will look and feel better than they did before. And if not, I want to be able to accept it and not let it affect me in a negative way.

Scale today says 202, same as last week.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

How I Feel About Food

This week I went to a friend's house for lunch. There were several of us there to enjoy her delicious homemade chili and watch a movie, and since I am "lower carb" but not NO carb I knew I could fit a bowl of meaty chili (even with beans) into my day without a problem. What I wasn't expecting is that she also made a pan of her big, soft cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting.

In the past, I have had three different reactions to this type of situation:
1) I eat the chili, eat a cinnamon roll, feel physically triggered, go home and eat LOTS more carbs (because really, chili with beans AND a big frosted cinnamon roll is enough carbs to throw me into super-carbed insanity. It just does something awful to my blood sugar). Sometimes it would take days or weeks to get my eating back under control.
2) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll to be "good," feel emotionally triggered (the whole deprivation/obsessive food thoughts thing), and go to the store and buy cinnamon rolls, cookies, chips, frozen pizza, and soda because omg I must.
3) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll without any emotion about it, and go on with life, not thinking about the cinnamon roll anymore and feeling fine. (This is what usually happened if I was eating low carb already and feeling solid on my eating plan).

Now there is another option,
4) I eat the chili, skip the cinnamon roll, and go home to look up keto cinnamon roll recipes, bake them, and have one a day for a few days before freezing the rest. Something they "bother" me from the freezer, and sometimes I just forget they are there.

What's the "right" way to handle this whole situation? Or rather, what is my goal and how can I achieve it? (By the way, I am figuring this out *as I write*. Writing this sort of blog post is like an exploratory self therapy for me and has helped me work through a lot of issues in the past).

So I have a goal of keeping my food sanity, having a calm peace about food, and not letting any food get "into my head" emotionally either by restriction or by becoming obsessed. That rules out options #2 and #4. Another goal is keeping my blood sugar stable so I have mental clarity about food and can continue to lose weight. That rules out option #1. So I guess the ideal response is #3... which happens to be what I did on this occasion.

But the way I feel about food... the emotional stuff that underlies all of the smart choices... still sometimes percolates up into my conscious. It's 90% gone (which is saying a lot since I used to LIVE those emotions and let them rule me in a most destructive way - see early blog posts for details!!) but every so often, I start to feel like I am restricting. I'm really not; I let myself eat the foods I want to eat, just in small portions and in the overall lifestyle of lower carb eating. So I *could* have part of a cinnamon roll... probably about 1/4 of one... if I really wanted it. But I knew that having it with bean laden chili would be physically too much. Having it with a steak and broccoli would work much better! This is part of my "no restriction" approach to keeping obsessive food thoughts away.

I am making a change, though. Lately I find myself wanting to whip up a quick keto dessert for myself in the evenings. I tell myself it's one of the keys to success for me, because restriction at the level of "never again" really does conjure up those obsessive food thoughts and feelings. But I have to admit that eating a bowl of heavy whipping cream beaten into "keto mousse" with fake sugars, cream cheese, and cocoa is really not a healthy behavior and is becoming a nightly habit. (And this is frankly one of the reasons why I am not doing the actual keto diet. I don't feel it is healthy for me to eat loads of fat and very little produce each day. So a moderate, lower carb way of eating works better for me). The change I am making is to stop with the nightly, single-serving desserts and making any dessert, keto or otherwise, a rare treat. I might have 1/4 of a cinnamon roll that someone else made once in awhile. Or I might make a keto cheesecake to share with the whole family or a group of friends on a special occasion. Baking a real keto cake or dessert takes a lot more effort and time that just whipping up a bowl of keto mousse or a keto mug cake (which takes 5 minutes and gives instant gratification, while actually baking a keto cake, letting it cool, frosting it etc takes some shopping and several hours of time). And the other essential part, for me, is that whatever I make is *for sharing.* Not "all for me" to be divvied up, saved, frozen, eaten for days. It must be shared, eaten, gone.

I feel like this is my next step towards a maintenance plan that will work. Not restricting, but making rules for myself that guide me into more rational food choices. Not letting myself *become* obsessed or triggered, but also treating myself with respect. I am starting counseling again soon and will run all of this past the counselor and see if they think I am on the right track, or just walking myself down a road to regain yet again.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Low Carb Zuppa Toscana Soup

I've been meaning to make a pot of low carb soup for awhile. I always enjoyed the Zuppa Toscana at Olive Garden, but being low carb I rarely go there anymore. That soup contains potatoes and I've been thinking about trying to make it with cauliflower instead, but that just didn't seem quite right to me. So I started looking around online for copycat recipes that are keto or low carb, and I came across the brilliant idea of using radishes in this soup! I've used radishes as potato substitutes before, so why not? This soup turned out great, so here's my recipe, adapted from here.

Zuppa Toscana

1/2 pound of ground breakfast sausage
1/2 small onion, diced
1 quart of chicken broth
1 pound of radishes, thinly sliced
a few handfuls of baby spinach
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 c half & half
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
dash of cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

Brown the sausage and onion. Drain off the grease. Add the broth and radishes and simmer until they are tender (mine took about 10 minutes). Add the cream cheese and spinach and warm through until the cream cheese is melted. Add the half & half and seasonings and heat until hot but not boiling. Turn off the heat and stir in the bacon.

low carb keto zuppa toscana soup recipe

It's delicious and you cannot tell there are radishes in there! Enjoy!