Sunday, July 15, 2018

Weigh In

After I shared my thoughts earlier this week in my last post, I spent some time thinking about whether or not I need to change anything (now or in the future... I don't put time pressure on myself anymore) and what type of plans I might want to make for weight loss and maintenance. I think about that kind of thing, but I keep the drama out of it. That helps me not to rush into anything that might backfire on me (like when I used to set a weight goal with a deadline, or a restriction that felt too stressful to me). But I do still put thought into the whole, long term, don't-regain-it plan.

For one thing, my skin is not bothering me right now. I weigh 185 pounds today, and as I said before, the loose skin bothered me a LOT last time I weighed 185. It was anxiety-provoking to me back then. It isn't right now. But as I think about maintaining slightly lower, I wonder if there is anything I can do to prevent it from becoming an issue. I mean, the skin's probably going to get looser as I go, right? Right now, I've spent 3.5 weeks in the 184-189 zone, and think it would be just fine to tick down just a bit to aim for 182-185 for a few weeks. Taking it super slowly like this is helping. When you drop 8 or 10 pounds in a really short time (like 2 weeks) the body changes can be quick and shocking. I am not having nearly as much body dysmorphia as I did seven years ago with quick losses. To me, that's good, and less emotional drama = less weight drama (gains). Anyway, with the skin thing, I am aging and that's not going to make my skin any better. I do stay hydrated and this time around have been taking Biotin (and thus not losing as much hair as before) and fish oil, and use good lotions all the time, which I didn't do last time. But still, I wonder, is there something else I could be doing to help my skin rebound from how stretched out it was for so long? Is there anything I could take, or apply, or do, to get my skin to tighten up a little more? Something to minimize the crepe paper look I am just starting to see on my arms and legs and neck? If you know any anything that worked for you, please share. But in the absence of something new to try, I just need to keep taking this very slow so that my skin has time to adjust, and my mind has time to accept.

Today, for the first time since my Great Clothing Purge almost 3 months ago, I had to sort clothes. Since then, I've been easily living out of one dresser and wearing pretty much the same 2 pairs of jeans and 2 pairs of capri pants plus maybe 7 shirts in my closet. I just rotate, wash them, keep wearing them. Well, that was ten pounds ago. In my other dresser I had folded all the jeans, pants, and capris that were too small but I thought might fit sometime this summer. (All the smallest, 10's and 12's went into the one clothing tub for winter). So I noticed that my jeans and shorts have gotten a bit loose. Not unwearable, but almost too baggy. So this morning I pulled out the pants from that dresser full of too-small jeans. I had them stacked and sorted from the loosest to the tightest. And as I tried them on, one by one, I was shocked that every, single, pair of pants from that dresser FIT. As in, on and buttoned and not even tight! What on earth. NONE of them fit at all in the spring, just ten pounds ago! And now, 2 pairs were TOO baggy and have to be donated, 2 pairs are questionably too loose and might be able to be shrunk it the hot dryer, and two fit almost perfectly. Wow, crazy. I think I will donate those 4 that are too big and just keep the two that fit best. This is so weird. When I get rid of those, plus a shirt or two that are too baggy on me now, I will have the least amount of clothing I have had in *years.* I am happy. It's nice to know what I have, and think about the day not far in the future when I can go out and buy a new, smaller wardrobe and not shop out of a dresser or a Rubbermaid tub anymore!

I feel good, and when I think about making changes, I do think it would be wise to cut down on the processed food and eat more natural foods, more often. That part has been more challenging than I thought it would be. In the past I have had times of eating more produce and lean meat, but I always seemed to rebound from that and dive into junk. So this time I have avoided the drama by just having the junk when I want it, in small portions, and not pushing myself to eat fish and vegetables if I'm in the mood for a burger and chips. I am working, slowly, on changing the ratios a bit so that there's more healthy stuff and a bit less junk, but I won't do it at risk of upsetting my peace and maintenance. I would rather weigh 185 pounds eating sugar free brownies and Arby's than be morbidly obese eating chicken and salads. So... slow, easy changes. But I do want to start choosing healthier options more frequently so that in a year there will be a noticeable shift in what I'm eating.

Thanks for reading this long post, and I'd love to hear your thoughts or suggestions in the comments!

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Different Journey

You know what's interesting about being back in the 180's again after seven years of regain? A lot. It's a completely different journey this time, both physically and mentally. It has never been so clear to me *how* different it is until I went back and re-read some of my blog posts from the last time I was in this weight range.

This time around, I got into the 180's a little over 2 months ago. In fact, on May 11 I weighed 188, and this Monday I weighed 188. You know how I feel about that? Great! Successful, happy, content, and proud. Two months, 188. No net loss. And I am so pleased! But when I go back and read my posts from the summer of 2011, when I was in this *same* weight range, all I read is frustration, disappointment, and anxiety. I was literally pacing around fighting with myself all the time... trying to ward off obsessive food thoughts, pushing away the urge to eat compulsively the things that were "off plan" for me, and pushing myself to work harder and hurry up and get the weight OFF. The level of frustration I read in those posts over months of trying to stick to a restrictive plan and FORCE myself into a thinner body is astounding to me now. SO MUCH emotion... stress... and anxiety over food, my body, and the number on the scale. I could not accept the amount of time that was passing without big drops in my numbers. I felt like a failure. I sometimes thought I would never make it and was hanging on by my fingertips! Granted, those posts were near the end of an 11-month stretch of staying mostly in the same range I am now: the 180's. Maybe even now I would start to feel annoyed if 11 months went by without any significant loss... or maybe not. Maybe I would be fine with it this time, because I know from experience now that sitting in the 180's for a year is a heck of a lot better than slopping around in the 250's and 260's again. That was hell, it really was. Once you know what you had, what you could have been... yeah, then it hurts even more.

The other thing about this journey, aside from the peace, calm, and contentment I now have about maintaining, is how I feel about my body. There was *so much* chaos last time about my loose skin, hanging mooshy fat, ill-fitting clothes, batwing arms etc that it was actually distressing to me. If you've never read my Melting Body post from 2010, I don't know where you've been! I quote it often, and link to it frequently, because it was such a key part of why I regained and how getting fat again "fixed" something that I was just not able to cope with in any other way at the time. I have known that doing that part differently... addressing the anxiety the 'melting body' caused me... is essential to not having a regain again. I *had* to find peace with this and learn to accept it, TRULY accept it and be okay with it. If looking at my smaller body causes a physical sense of stress, panic, and fear, then obviously my subconscious mind is going to push me to "fix" it... by gaining the weight back. And yes, for some reason, a fatter body with firmer, smooth skin was easier for me to accept and more comfortable for me than a thinner body that made me feel deformed and ugly.

Interestingly, the Melting Body post was written when I weighed exactly what I weigh today: 185 pounds. And I vividly remember how much the state of my body stressed me out back then. Yet now, I look at my body at the same weight and I don't see it that way at all! Yes, there is some loose skin, but not nearly to the extent I describe it in those posts long ago. Has my body shrunk that skin over time? Oh, maybe a little, but let's be real here: about a year ago I was almost 260 pounds. There hasn't been a lot of time to really shrink anything that much. So perhaps it is my attitude that has changes. It is my eyes. My vision. I see my body and it is not distressing to me. I don't feel anxious or panicky about it, and part of that *has* to be because I am not pushing and berating myself to lose more weight NOW, get thinner NOW, hurry up and become "normal"! Another part of it is that I accept fully that I am not comfortable showing my upper arms to the world, so I wear sleeves to the elbows when I go out. That makes it a LOT easier to not obsess over the arms! But I look at them every day. I wear short sleeved shirts around the house sometimes. I put lotion on them, I hold them up and see and touch the hanging, loose parts and examine the wrinkles or bumps until I know those arms really well and am accepting and comfortable with them *myself.* I never got to that point last time. I was too busy being horrified every time I caught a glimpse of them, and trying to avoid looking. Look away, look away. Do not accept. So you can see how this time is very different.

Well, this has gotten long, but I hope it has given you a sense of how and why the journey is different for me this time even though I am at the same weight. I have had a wonderful week with a couple of birthdays, some slices of cake, and some barbecued meals. This week I've had smoked ribs, potato salad, and fried chicken with friends. I've shown on my Instagram a couple of meals I've eaten in the car since I was busy. I had a "no sugar added" scoop of ice cream from Baskin Robbins one afternoon and a couple of Oreos one evening and ate at Arby's on another night. But I've also had plenty of salads, local fresh fruit, lean chicken, plenty of water, and long walks. I am happy and content. My 'plan' is so flexible that it is utterly stress free. My body makes me happy. The other day a friend, who had seen me just 2 weeks prior, stopped in his tracks and said, "are you STILL losing weight? You look great!" That made me feel so good. Even though my actual weight has remained in a ten-pound range for over 3 months, I look better, clothes fit better, and of course a smile makes everyone look healthier and more beautiful, right?

Thank you for being here for this whole journey... especially now as the excitement of quick weight loss and progress pictures has waned and I am into the calm sameness of maintaining. I appreciate your support and I hope what I am sharing helps just one person understand that it's not just about getting the weight off. It's so much more than that.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Weight Range Helps

In 2010, I got down to 175 pounds from my blog start weight of 278... a loss of 103 pounds. I was so proud of that, and so focused on continuing to lose weight. This time, it's very different. There is something about a huge regain that changes your perspective.

I never thought I'd say this, but my goal is *not* to lose weight anymore. I'm not determined, like last time, to see the number on the scale go down every week. I don't even mind if the number isn't lower at the end of a month. I no longer measure my success by my weight going down, down, down... but I *do* measure my success by the number on the scale. The way I do that is by deciding to maintain within a weight range. Gains are not failures. Fluctuations are not worrisome. I just use that information to make small adjustments with a goal of keeping my weight within my chosen range over time.

This is my practice at maintenance. And heaven knows I need weeks, months, years of practice at maintenance! If I can become good at maintaining within a narrow range, that is success. Because if there's one thing I learned last time around, it's that it is not the weight loss that is most important. It is the ability to maintain.

I started this strategy and new mindset right around the 200 pound mark, and maintained between 201 and 206 for 4 weeks this spring. Once I got to 200 pounds, that became my new "highest acceptable weight" and I stayed between 195 and 200 for about 4 weeks. I made my next "line in the sand" weight 195 pounds; that range lasted for 9 weeks. And just over 2 weeks ago, I set a new range of staying around 184 to 189 pounds and have done that since then (weighing 187 pounds today). See, there *is* a gradual progression downward, still... but that is not the daily, weekly, or even monthly goal. The true goal is to stay in a narrow range, not going above it nor much below it until I feel emotionally and physically ready to be a lower weight. Taking time to adapt and accept my body and being okay with the changes is critical, for me, in keeping off this weight for good.

I love what I am doing, how I am eating, and the way I feel. There are no guarantees against regression and regain, but this time, I am doing everything I can to prepare for a lifetime of maintenance.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

A Bit of Gain but Happy Anyway!

Happy Independence Day! I'm so thankful for all the good things in my life, and especially grateful that this year (189 today) is better than last year (253), the year before that (238), the year before that (240), the year before that (242) and two more years prior to that... going all the way back to 2011 when I weighed 183 pounds. And before that, I think 1997 was the last time I may have weighed in the 180's on the 4th of July. Really makes me think about all the time I spent dragging around so much extra weight. How much more I might have accomplished had I not been carrying that extra 50, 60, 100 pounds all that time. I am making up for it now and hope to never feel that loss of control, at least to that extent, again.

I got down to 185 pounds at the end of June (a nine pound loss for the month!) While on vacation I got loads of exercise! More walking and hiking than I have done in ages... and hardly any time during the day was spent sitting (except for some very relaxing chill time by a peaceful creek). The day we came home, I ate way more carbs than usual (ice cream, chips, baked beans, and even some candy) and that, along with more high carb eating the first day or two home, bumped me up to 189. I'm fine with that, feel calm about it but also will be cutting my carbs and portions way back again starting tomorrow... because today is going to involve some small portions of higher carb foods (macaroni salad, and homemade cake) but then back to the usual lower-carb, small portion way of eating.

I hope you have a wonderful, fun-filled, peaceful holiday surrounded by people you love and covered in a sense of joy for the blessed life you have!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Escaped, Again... and I Walked

It's like a flashback, in a way, to a different time. Can a scale be like a time machine? Can seeing a number you have not seen in years take you to another time in your life that was oh so different? For me, it can.

Imagine my surprise when, after a 187 pound weigh in on Sunday, I stepped on the scale Monday morning and saw 185 pounds. There was no real reason for a 2-pound overnight drop, but I knew that number. 185 pounds means I am no longer Obese, but with a BMI of 29.9, I am merely Overweight. I have, once again, escaped from obesity.

The last time I hit that milestone was in September of 2010... nearly 8 years ago. I remember posting about it... what it meant to me. And I remember thinking, I will never be Obese again. I am going to hang on to this forever.

Life was so different then. My daughter was in kindergarten and I walked her to school every day. My boys were teenagers, and I had my little mini-dog. I hadn't even gotten my 100-pounds-lost "reward puppy" yet! Now, my daughter is a teenager, I have only my youngest son left at home with her, and my other boys have finished school, gotten careers, one married, and two have bought their own homes.  The mini dog is long gone to the Rainbow Bridge and my reward puppy and her adopted sister are 7 and 8 years old, respectively. It is crazy how a number on the scale can accentuate the passing of time.

Every day since Monday I have seen 185 pounds on the scale. I know I may fluctuate up and down a couple of pounds in the future, but finally, I am okay with that. Escaping obesity is not *just* that number on the scale. It's about a much bigger change that has happened and continues to happen.

Yesterday I dropped my car off for an oil change in the morning. And then I did something I have NEVER done: I walked home from the mechanic. Yes, there was a ride available, but I just wanted to see if I could do it. It was 2.3 miles. Now, to some people that might not seem like a far walk at all! But it is a distance I had not in several years intentionally set out to walk, all at once, without stopping to rest or sit or take a break. When I walk my dogs we do about a mile. I might do a mile in the morning and a mile in the evening. But with my arthritis, I do have pain from walking. This time I just wanted to challenge myself and see how I'd do. And I did it. I walked the 2.3 miles without a break to rest or sit down. I was about a mile and a half in when I started feeling pretty uncomfortable... legs tired, hips and knees hurting a bit, wishing I hadn't done this. But I kept on and it was a great feeling when I made it home. Knowing I *can* walk home from the mechanic is an awesome feeling! I took some Advil and though I am still a little sore this morning, I am happy and will keep pushing myself to walk farther distances more regularly. But the bike is easier!

We are leaving on a short camping trip/mini vacation tomorrow morning and won't be back til Sunday night. I'm not bringing my scale to the woods, so I'll weigh tomorrow before we go and Monday morning to be sure I am staying on track. We're taking some of our own food and sharing meals with another couple of families who are camping with us, so I'll be able to eat well all weekend. I'm ready for some hiking and exploring! See you when I get back.