Sunday, July 22, 2018

Unrestricted


Just a brief update! Since my maintenance chart post on Wednesday, I've been seeing the same number on the scale every day. In fact, all week It's been 185, 185, 185 on the scale every morning. That feels pretty good to see! I am still kind of amazed that I am able to eat the way I do (without restriction, measuring, or counting) and maintain at this weight. In the past, I've restricted a LOT, kept my calories under 1500 or under 1200 or even lower than that for weeks and was not able to lose or maintain at 20, 30, 40 pounds higher than I am right now. And I usually felt pretty stressed and anxious about not being "able" to eat things I wanted to eat. Even when I was losing, I often felt like I was white knuckling it. I had this inner worry about things that might seem stupid to people who've never had an eating disorder, like "will I NEVER be able to eat a sandwich again?? Can I NEVER have a cupcake again?" That kind of thought resulted in a lot of mental pacing around trying to figure out how not to spiral into a desperate need (yes, it felt like a *need*) for chips and dip or pie or pizza. I knew in my mind that was irrational, but there was something deeper going on that felt out of my control. And the only way I got out of that kind of cycle was to stop restricting.

This week I ate:

tacos made with made-from-scratch corn tortillas
roasted chicken thighs with crispy skin, mashed potatoes and gravy, half a dinner roll, corn, and peas
coconut, honey, seed, and nut clusters
a slice of raspberry cheesecake
barbecued ribs, pulled pork, cole slaw
fresh berries, peaches, apples, and cherries
chopped kale and cabbage salad
fresh corn on the cob with butter and salt
a bunless burger with garden tomatoes, pickles, and cheese
chips and dip
yogurt
movie theater popcorn with extra butter
mixed nuts
sugar free brownies with sugar free ice cream
lots and lots of iced decaf coffee with sugar free creamer or half and half
a restaurant bacon cheeseburger (skipped most of the bun) with fries dipped in Ranch
various salads, cheese, watermelon, raw veggies, and half a deviled egg at a potluck
frozen yogurt ("tart" flavor which has less sugar) topped with fruit, walnuts, and honey
and (this is crazy) a deep fried, battered banana with peanut butter dipping sauce

Okay, that's a lot of food, and not exactly "diet" food. A year ago I would have never believed that I could eat these things and not gain weight, even at 250 pounds. Something has truly changed. The biggest change has been my attitude and my sense of inner peace about food and weight. But I also have changed *when* I eat and *how* I eat. Most days I only have coffee in the morning and no actual food until lunch time... and then it is a smallish meal, usually 200 to 400 calories. I might fill in the afternoon with a bit of fruit, nuts, cheese, iced coffee or 1-200 calories of something else, but I try to wait til dinnertime for a big meal. And even then, my "big" meal is a heck of a lot smaller than it was on any given day when I was not restricting years ago (off plan, I called it). I eat much smaller portions; when I say I had "fries" it means I had a few... not a whole plate full. I keep my higher calories in a smaller window... so I am not spreading out extras and sweets during the day. I am eating them within about an hour or two after my dinner. I may eat 800 to 1000 calories some evenings but it is all within a window from about 6pm to 9pm at the latest. That limits just how much volume I can have and keeps me feeling very satisfied. I feel great! I take phentermine, a half dose most days, and that does help me go longer in the mornings before I feel I need to eat. On days I skip it, I get hungry between 10 and 11 and have to eat something. I just keep it to a small portion, like an egg with bacon and fruit, and then skip something else later like dessert or a higher calorie snack.

That's what's working for now. I hope to keep going with this and maintain below 185 (overweight, not obese) forever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What Maintenance Looks Like, Charted Edition


For just over 3 months now, I've been maintaining very well within a ten-pound window after losing a whole lot of weight over the last 11 months. Since late last August, I have gone from 258 pounds to 185 pounds, a total difference of 73 pounds (and a loss of 93 pounds since I started blogging at 278 pounds). So without further delay, here is my charted weight over the last 90 days, as recorded on My Fitness Pal:

maintaining after weight loss graph

Now, when you first look at this graph, it doesn't scream "maintenance" at you, does it? There are a lot jumps and dips and variation... not a straight line like we want to imagine maintenance to be. But look more closely. This is *three months* passing, with my weight staying between those two lines of 185 and 195. That is excellent for someone who used to see gains of 10+ pounds in one WEEK at times, not to mention my history of gaining 40 pounds in 3 months before. If you look even more closely, you will see the stages of maintenance in there. For the first two months I stayed between 188 and 195. In the third month, it's shifted downward and ranged from 185 to 189 pounds. I expect to stay within that range or a few pounds lower for at least another month or so.

So no, maintenance is not a straight line. There will always be fluctuation for me. I am looking at the bigger picture, here, and seeing that when there is a small jump up, there follows a small dip back down. I don't stay up, or keep going up. I am learning to slowly and gently and CALMLY adjust my eating and activity on a daily basis to keep my weight in the range I desire. I think that will serve me well in the long term.

That's it for now... heading out to have some summer fun!

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.