Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pictures, and Formulating an "After-Phentermine" Plan

I was thinking the other day about progress pictures and how I used to look forward to taking them every ten pounds I lost. I kept that up for a really long time... even taking new pictures at weights I'd already done progress pictures for when I lost weight for a second, even third time (most famously for my 60 pounds gone (2008), 60 pounds gone again (2010), and 60 pounds gone AGAIN (2012) pictures. I was not about to do another set when I finally got back down to 218 again last month). My last post on Thursday included a link to pictures of me weighing 214 pounds. As I head back down the scale I notice I've lost the enthusiasm for posting progress pictures. You've seen it all before. But now, I am starting to get kind of excited about it again! I am pretty sure I only ever took "70 Pounds Gone" pictures once, the first time I hit that weight in 2010. So I think I will do some new pictures when I reach that weight. I'll take some measurements, too, because I haven't done that in ages! I think it will be interesting to compare the pictures and measurements to those at the same weight in the past.

But for now, a comparison: July 2017 (from this post), and today:


The other thing on my mind lately is formulating a weight loss and maintenance plan for after I stop taking phentermine. It helps me by suppressing my appetite; I am not hungry nearly as often and am satisfied with much smaller, less frequent portions. But I am not really sure what is going to happen when my doctor says it's time to stop the phentermine. I have one more refill left after this month, and I don't know if she is going to refill it again after that, or tell me that's enough. But at some point I'll be off it and if my appetite comes raging back, how am I going to handle that? How will I keep losing weight without it? I did it once before, but I was on Medifast. The whole thing makes me pretty nervous. I really LOVE how I feel being lighter and finally dropping weight after FIVE YEARS weighing more than I weigh now. I soooo don't want to go back, or stall, or get frustrated about dieting again. I don't want it to turn into a big emotional thing like it used to be. I want things to be like they are now... happy, content, calm, non-food-focused, and LOSING WEIGHT. And then I want maintenance to be... I dunno, not *easy*, but easiER than losing. And I don't think it will be. I have time to plan now, so I figure I better take the next six weeks and get my plan formulated in a way that makes sense and that I can stick to.

Preparing/gathering data: Sometime soon I will go and have metabolic testing again. After I have lost all the weight I want to lose, I will wait a couple of weeks and then have it re-tested. I will use that knowledge immediately if the scale heads in the wrong direction, by counting calories and tracking.

Important: I won't skip weighing. I have to weigh every day, plot it on a graph, and immediately adjust for any uptick. I know there will be holidays or times I *decide* to indulge, but I will still weigh and expect no more than a 3 pound gain that comes back off it no more than 3 days (like my Thanksgiving and Christmas week gains/relosses). Speaking of which, I almost forgot to add my weigh in today. I now weigh 212 pounds, a loss of 3 pounds this week.

Eating: I generally look at any food and decide if I will have it based on whether I can have an enjoyable serving for about 15 grams of carbs or less. And I eat small portions, not too often. I'll keep doing that. But I know I will probably be more hungry, so I'll fill that "hunger gap" with produce: lots of low calorie vegetables and a couple servings of fruit every day. I really hope that is enough to make a solid eating plan that will keep me losing and then maintaining. If it's not, I will have to start counting calories again.

Exercise: I think this is going to make all the difference in whether I can keep losing and then maintain or not. I am not formally exercising at all now, because I don't have much to burn while eating only 500-700 calories a day. But I am definitely more active than I was a couple months ago and will have to maintain the lifestyle activity. I also HAVE to exercise in a more scheduled, formal way. I will strength train and start biking again but honestly I think I have to find something different that I really love to do, for the long term. I mean I don't usually mind lifting weights or riding the stationary bike but there's really no joy in that activity itself... only in the results. I think I have GOT to find something that I love to do.... something active. I'm not sure what that's going to be. Maybe paddleboarding in the summertime, but I need year-round activity besides stuff like walking dogs, raking leaves, and pulling weeds.

That's it for now. Here's to another good week!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

On Thinning Hair, Weight Loss, and Milestones

This morning when I called my hairdresser to schedule a haircut, he said to come on in. He had some cancellations and had time this morning. I've been going to this same hairdresser for over 20 years, and I always enjoy his frank and helpful comments about the health and quality of my hair when I come in. He was the one who was quite alarmed when my hair started falling out by the handfuls when I was on Medifast, but also noticed when it started coming back in when I began taking Biotin. It did all grow back nicely, but started to thin again during times of stress. My hairdresser told me he can tell when I am stressed out because my hair gets thin again.

So today I was interested to hear from him just how bad my hair is. I posted almost a month ago that my hair had started falling out again; it seems to do that each time after I lose about 40 pounds. I knew it was a possibility so I had already started taking Biotin (and fish oil) when I first began losing weight with phentermine in August. Well, after I shared that post, I felt like the hair shedding either stopped or slowed way down, but I couldn't be sure. I thought my hair looked pretty good but wanted an honest, expert opinion. When I was in the middle of my haircut this morning, I asked, "so is my hair getting thin again?" and my hairdresser exclaimed, "No! In fact it is much thicker and healthier than last time you came in! It's looking really good!" and he turned me around and handed me the mirror so I could see the top and back of my head. He's right! It *does* look better! The last time I was in for a cut was probably early this summer, so I was happy to hear that despite the few days of shedding last month, there is plenty of new growth filling in. I'm so glad I was proactive with the Biotin and fish oil!

In other news, today I hit a milestone with my weight loss: I weigh 214 pounds! I was so excited when I saw that number! When I started this blog, I weighed 278 pounds (my all time high that I know of was 283). It took me almost a year of diet change, calorie counting, and exercise but I got down to 214 pounds with lots of hard work! I remember when I took these pictures and posted about it on my 1-year blog anniversary:  Happy Bloggiverary: Progress Pictures. That was such an exciting time for me! And to think I am *finally* back to that weight again, after all this time! I regained about 30 pounds after those pictures, but then lost it again... and more... on Medifast. Lost more, then regained. And the last time I was this low... 214... was 5 years ago. I am the thinnest I have been in five years! It's remarkable to me. I treasure it. I promise myself I'll keep losing and never, never have to celebrate 214 pounds again. I pray it will be so, but I also know my issues. It's emotional, mental, not physical anymore, at least for the most part, so I am working on tackling those issues harder and more completely as I lose again. It's not easy to come out of an eating disorder and it's sure not easy coming out of one, then another, then another. But I am working at it, and will continue to work at it in maintenance.

Thanks so much for coming along on this amazing journey with me! I feel hopeful and happy, strong and well and I hope that continues and 2018 is a year of more milestones and celebration for us all.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Low Carb Spinach Artichoke Soup

Tonight as the rest of the family was eating leftovers for dinner, I decided to make something nice and low carb for myself. I've been craving artichoke spinach dip but as I was searching I came across several recipes for spinach artichoke soup. That sounded great! So I started with this recipe, halved it, and changed it a bit to make it low carb. I also subbed some of the ingredients to make it lower in fat and calories, and it was fantastic! But feel free to use the higher fat options if you prefer (heavy cream instead of half and half, and regular cream cheese instead of reduced fat).

Low Carb Spinach Artichoke Soup

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 of an onion, diced
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
half of a 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
half a bag of fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 c half and half
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 c shaved Parmesan cheese

Saute the onion in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the seasonings, spinach, artichoke hearts, and chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low so it is no longer simmering, and add the half and half and cream cheese. Stir until the cream cheese is melted and the soup is hot, but don't let it come to a simmer again. Turn the heat off, add the Parmesan and stir until melted.

low carb spinach artichoke soup

It was very creamy, rich and tasty. I highly recommend it!

Enjoy your veggies!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Weekly Weight

Last week I went over to a good friend's house for a visit. This is a family we usually see at least once or twice a week, but with the holidays and their illnesses we had not been over in 3 or 4 weeks. When I walked into the house, my friend's eyes got big and she said "Wow! You have REALLY lost some weight!" I said "yes, I have!" She looked me up and down, and even though I was still bundled in my winter coat she said "You look incredible! And I can really see it in your face!" That was a nice confirmation of the changes I've made, and I think was the first comment about my weight loss. I'm down 43 pounds since I started phentermine at the end of August, and 40-ish pounds has, in the past, been about the time people start to comment.

So I weigh 215 pounds now, which is a 2 pound loss from last week. I've had a few questions from readers about the rate of weight loss on phentermine and whether eating "off plan" (indulging in more carby things) over the holidays has slowed my losses. Well, it has, but in a way that is totally acceptable to me. Over Thanksgiving, I had several days where I did not take phentermine and ate traditional Thanksgiving foods, including breads and sweets. I had a 3 pound gain which took me 2 days to re-lose. Over Christmas I did the same thing (a break from phentermine and from low carb eating) and enjoyed any holidays foods I wanted, in small portions, and I gained 2 pounds which took me 3 days to re-lose. My regular losses resumed after both holidays.

Overall my losses have been consistent, after that first week big "whoosh" that often happens when going from high carb to low carb:

last week of Aug: -9
Sept: -1, -3, -3, -2
Oct: -0, -4, -1, -2
Nov: -3, -5, -0, +3, -4
Dec: -4, -2, +1, -2
Jan: -2

Going by calendar months I have lost 8 the last week of August, 10 in September, 8 each in October and November, and 7 in December.  Not bad for two months of holidays! I am excited to keep going and hope to be out of the 200's by March 1.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Easy Keto Chocolate Mug Cake

What would you say if I told you to crack an egg in a bowl, sweeten it, add some cocoa powder and scramble it for your dessert tonight? Yuck, probably? So like you, I had my doubts when I saw this keto chocolate mug cake on Tasteaholics earlier this week. Actually, they call it a "Keto Lava Cake" but although I have made it twice now, I got no lava center either time.  I've been microwaving it, though, so I bet baking would give an even better result! If you're eating low carb like I am, this is a great way to have a fast, easy scrambled cocoa egg chocolate mug cake on nights you are wanting a little something sweet, low carb, and high in protein.

So there *are* a few more ingredients than just egg, cocoa, and sweetener, but not much. There's no kind of flour at all, making it very low in carbs.

1 egg
2 Tbsp cocoa
1-2 Tbsp erythritol (I use Wholesome Zero brand)
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt

Beat the egg really well with a whisk, the add the rest of the ingredients and keep on whisking. Then pour it into a mug or ramekin. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or microwave for about a minute. I nuked mine in a mug, the first time for 45 seconds (totally solid but nice and moist) and the second time (another day) for 30 seconds (very wet on top, so I nuked it another 10 to cook that part more).

My adjustments: I tried subbing sweetener as 1 Tbsp erythritol + 1/2 Tbsp sugar free vanilla syrup and left out the vanilla and it was great! For me, just 1 Tbsp sweetener is not enough and the result it a bit TOO dark/bitter. I also subbed the heavy cream for half and half the second time and that worked fine too.

This cake is *very* moist and delicious! The texture is so much better than mug cakes that use almond or coconut flour. I think to get the "lava" experience I'd need to try baking it (so that the outsides are cooked and inside a little uncooked, or better yet, stick a square of very dark 90% chocolate in the center to act as the molten part.

But it was great as it was, and I ran a butter knife around the edges and turned it out into a dish. I topped it with a small scoop of Halo Top peanut butter cup ice cream (which is high protein/low carb) and a bit of whipped cream. It was so good! I would prefer this over a regular, sugar-laced mug cake any day! And it is so easy with minimal ingredients.

easy quick low carb keto chocolate mug cake recipe

I am finding many ways to enjoy the foods I like in moderation while losing weight on phentermine. This is a way of eating that I hope to continue for the rest of my life. And the great thing is, eating this way keeps my arthritis pain away! No more suffering in multiple ways due to eating tons of sugar. It's totally possible to eat well, feel well, and not feel deprived one bit!