Friday, September 25, 2009

Getting Back to Business

Have you ever wondered HOW people get it together enough to *really* lose weight? I mean lose weight consistently, long term... not just going on a diet for a couple of weeks and then exclaiming "oooooh, lookie me, I lost ten pounds!!" just before gaining it all back at the local ice cream shop. I mean those "success stories" you see where people wake up one day, say "I am sick of being fat" and then drop all their excess weight and become, literally, a new person. How's that happen?? Why is it so elusive for others?

I'm sure a lot of people thought I was gonna be one of those people back in 2008 when I dropped 64 pounds in less than a year. I was getting all kinds of emails asking me for my secret, how I got the "willpower," what was the magic bullet? In fact, there isn't a magic bullet and in my case it has been a day to day... sometimes hour to hour... web of decisions that lead to weight loss or gain.

My entire first year blogging was spent figuring out what works to get the pounds off, physically. I learned what to eat or not eat, how many calories I needed to ingest to see a loss each week, and what kinds of exercise worked for me. I was busy trying new fruits and veggies, making new recipes, changing my tastes and habits. And that's all great. That may be all it takes for a lot of people to lose all the weight. Throw in a binge eating disorder, however, and you've got another story.

My second year of blogging was spent delving into the mental and emotional issues that have made it nearly impossible to *really* drop all the weight and keep it off. I fought through binges. I felt feelings that were difficult to allow into my life. I faced a lot of fears. And I really got a grip on the binge eating in a major way. In fact, I feel *almost* in complete control over the binge eating now. That's huge for me. It took a lot of tears, hysteria, anger, sadness, joy, reminiscing, and living to get to this point. I am pretty proud of myself.

While I was busy working on the mental stuff, I gave the eating and exercise a halfhearted effort. I'd eat right for a few days, then go back to the easiness and comfort of eating junk (not bingeing, mind you. Just eating junk instead of healthy foods for my regular meals and snacks). I'd exercise for a week and then be lazy for a week. I'd count calories for a couple days and then just wing it. I let myself really slack with the food/exercise discipline, because it seemed more important to deal with the binge issues... and frankly, while I was trying to overcome the binge eating I just did not have the focus to *also* be 100% dedicated to eating and moving for weight loss.

So, I'm in a place that a lot of people are in where they want to lose weight but their efforts are not concentrated enough to really do it. You know, the kind of effort where you eat healthy part time?

Yesterday I had a good eating day. It was a day that *would* lead to weight loss, almost:
Breakfast: coffee, 1 egg over easy, sauteed baby zucchini, 1 toasted whole grain English muffin with 1 tsp butter, and iced green tea.
Lunch: leftover potato soup mixed with a huge serving of steamed broccoli, with a half serving of whole grain crackers and iced green tea
Snack 1: apple, 1T almond butter, string cheese
Snack 2: chocolate protein shake
Dinner: cup of leftover lean chili and a plate of steamed kabocha squash

This was all well and good, and in fact is an example of an "ideal" day for me. Stop there? Lose weight. But at 9pm I got hungry, and instead of a few almonds or some tea, I ate a bowl of raisin bran with skim milk and about 3 ounces of cheddar cheese. That, my friends, is enough to STOP weight loss and maybe even lead to a gain (speaking hypothetically, as if I were eating this exact menu every day for 6 months). And I also didn't exercise yesterday. I have all the excuses... tired, busy, kids, sore knees. Bottom line? This was not a weight loss day.

How does one get back into the mode of doing what needs to be done, day in, day out, for the pounds to slide off? Well, there's no magic. It's that split second where you say, "Nah, I am not going to eat anything else today. Maybe some tea, that's all." It's the moment you just PRY yourself off the couch and force yourself to walk or bike or lift weights even though you really do not feel like it. Easier said than done, but certainly not impossible.

I think this is where "How badly do you want it?" comes into play. Really. Are you only doing this weight loss thing because your boyfriend thinks you're too fat? Are you doing it because society says your current size is unacceptable? Do you even really WANT to lose weight? It's okay if the answer is no. It's okay to say, "You know, I don't really want to lose any weight. I like being the way I am." It's okay... as long as it's REALLY true, not an excuse to overeat, and you are truly willing to take the consequences of your obesity, including health risks, discrimination, and not fitting into normal sized lawn chairs. Maybe the reason you struggle is because you haven't clearly defined WHY you want to do it. You have to internalize the change. You have to decide what you really want from life.

Is it worth it to you to stay obese if that means you can eat more foods you enjoy?
Is it worth it to you to be limited in your mobility so you can ingest more calories?
Are you okay with trading your health or your dream of being a certain size for a pan of brownies? Maybe. Only you can answer that.

Me, I don't want the junk anymore. My taste buds want it, but *I* don't. I want freedom of movement and I want energy. I want to feel good about myself when I look in the mirror.

My goals are as follows:

NO more fast food. This includes any establishment with a drive through window. I am making one exception to this, and it is Starbucks. I like a latte maybe twice a month. Eventually this is probably going to get cut out too. Especially if I find a roach in my coffee.

Eating more whole foods and less processed junk. I am looking at every food I bring into the house and deciding whether I want it to become part of my body. I am also changing my little girl's diet accordingly, and she is not exactly thrilled. Yesterday she was begging for a Happy Meal but I came home instead and gave her a plate of whole wheat crackers, hummus, carrot sticks, strawberries, blueberries, banana slices, grapes, and baked chicken nuggets instead. She glared at all the produce and said she didn't LIKE any of it, but I did get her to taste each thing (it all ended up spit into her napkin, though, as she has some texture/gagging issues as a result of being on a ventilator as an infant). She did eat the hummus, chicken, and crackers...

So that's it. Time to put into play everything I've learned from the past two years, physical, mental, and emotional. I have the tools I need now to counter the binge eating. Now it is just a matter of getting the junk out of my system and keeping it out. Day by day. You with me?


Andra said...

I'm with you! The less I have junk, the less I want junk. I'm just off of a celebration vacation in Las Vegas, it was great and I enjoyed every bite of tasty goodness and every sip of wine and cocktails but my body craved coming home and having freshly pressed vegetable juice. I'm sipping my green juice now, turnip greens, lemon and ginger, carrots and celery. It tastes great and my body is feeling good for it.

spunkysuzi said...

I'm definitely going to give it a try! One day at a time :)

Twix said...

I'm with you! It's important to understand the tools we have in our box. It's even better to understand how they work. And even better how we use them to make them work for us!! :)

Sue said...

I'm in! I get so much from you. More than you will ever know.

Kristin said...

I have read your blog off and on and I recently put it into my reader... I want to tell you that you CAN do it. For me it is just coming up on 5 years since I changed my life and shed the weight that was holding me back. Most people would never know I was once heavy (except for the saggy arms, boobs, and stomach, which I keep covered :), but I know there's a fine line between me and a headfirst dive into a Costco cake! I know the perils of emotional eating as well as just loving food TOO MUCH. But I also know the rewards of being thinner and physically fit (e.g. roomy airplane seats, long distance running), and that helps me not eat every single cookie on the face of the earth. And other than the cookies and cake, I really do prefer the vegetables and whole foods that I eat almost exclusively now. I am rooting for you, I know you can do this, one day at a time.

Melissa Venable said...

I'm with you! Thank you! :)
i gave up soft drinks 1/2009, i gave up fast food in 3 weeks ago. which is HUGE for me. i'm eating more fresh stuff & less processed stuff. & most importantly, i've had a HUGE attitude adjustment! It's got to stay that way! :)

Sonya said...

Wow, this really resonated with me. I've dropped 10lbs (with a LONG way to go), and have gained a few lbs back already. The yo-yo effect shouldn't be happening already. But really, you're SO right about questioning how badly we want something. I've made every excuse in the book this week as to why I can't exercise. And yet I get irritated when the scale doesn't do what I want.

Thanks for writing this. And I know you can do this, without a doubt.;-)

Jodie said...

Are you sure you are eating enough? It doesn't seem like your meal plan has that many calories in it!

ctina said...

You answered your own question!

I think of it like "por" and "para" (two words that mean "for") in Spanish class.

"Por" - as was explained to me- is more about the past - moving through past things or places, how you paid for something. Por looks back.

"Para" looks forward. You could say- it looks forth. It's a gift you are going to give someone. It enables you to do something, it's what you use in order to do something.

I like these Spanish words because they like are 2 schools of thought.

You can do things "for" looking backward or you can do things "for" the future.

To me, the people who seem at a standstill are the one who keep looking back, amazed at what they have done and what they have been through and how it has defined them.

But, the people who are moving, still changing, look back for just a moment - and then plunge forth.

PamL said...

I have been trying for a while to get a lot of the processed stuff out of our diet and I think like you, we do pretty good. I bake from scratch and don't buy premade "meal" stuff. I have 6 kids and I do think kids can eat crackers/chips/ice cream and turn out ok. But the more good stuff around, the more they eat of that and less junk and I do too.

One thing that I have done in the past and it seems to work, is brush my teeth after I am done eating and just consider myself done eating for the day- whether it is 6pm or 9pm. Sometimes you just have to make up your mind that it is ok to be a little hungry. A friend told me once, "Hunger is your friend!" At least when you are trying to lose weight it is and I believe that. That thought has helped me look at hunger a little more positively- I hate feeling hungry, like most people! Of course I do not mean starving yourself, which would be a physical problem.

Good luck on your journey- and it is a journey and will be for the rest of our lives! There will always be the decision to eat the right stuff or eat junk. Let's be smart and take care of ourselves and choose the good stuff!

I enjoy your blog!

jumping off the binge wagon said...

Thank you.
What a amazing post.
I am taking it day by day. Anything more is too much for me right now.
You are so right about everything. I am with ya!

Lyn said...


I generally aim for *about* 1700 calories a day on average, in order to lose slowly. I've found that if I consistently eat more than 1800 calories a day, I do not lose any weight at all. If I go under 1500, I get too hungry. The meals described in the post (before the raisin bran and cheese) totalled 1600 calories, so it would've been close to ideal, even if I'd had my few almonds in the evening.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you for sure. I'm at a similar place in my life - I've grown up, figured out who I am and what I want, and have dealt with the emotional eating to the point where I reach for junk out of HABIT rather than out of NEED. So, I say let's do it! Great post, Lynn!

Friend of the Bear said...

Hi Lyn. I wish I was with you. But I'm just not there at the moment.

Hopefully you'll carry on inspiring me and I'll get there eventually.

Best wishes,
Bearfriend xx

Hope @ Hope's Journey said...

Hi Lyn,

You are absolutely right about wanting it. That's what happened to me. I went to my doctor one day, I knew I was overweight, I just didn't know how much, I asked, she said 100-110 lbs. That shocked me.

I said, enough is enough, Hope, you deserve to live better. I dropped the excuses, let go of the fears that I had about losing, and JUST DID IT. I still struggle daily with food choices. But I'm not giving up.

Really, on top of wanting it,I was sick and tired of the extra weight. I was sick and tired of going shopping with my friends and watching them try things on, I was sick of letting food control my life, I was sick of not being able to wear normal clothes. I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired.

You gave the example of the dieter who blows it all at the ice cream shop. If I blow it at the ice cream shop, (Which I do, ALL THE TIME) I usually feel like crap afterward, and then I decide I don't want to start feeling like crap again just because I want a little bit of of ice cream. So, I climb back on the wagon and keep going.

Take it one day at a time. It is possible to have the body that you've dreamed of. :)

Kim's (Girl Who Clicked) Fat Loss Blog said...

I'm with you! Good on you, it is time to get rid of that junk including the string cheese. The will kids get used it and will thank you for it when they dont develop early onset diabetes as surely some of these kids living on a diet of McDs junk, will.

You mention, how bad do you want it. I had to come to a place where it was life or death, to get me to make my decision to choose living. I was so overweight (128 kg) I thought I would drop dead of a heart attack any minute. You are right it is a web of choices each day, junk is death, whole foods are life. I have to be that black and white to be able to focus on it. There can be no half way, that would be when I slip up. After a year now without the junk, I could not bear it, it stinks like pure fat. I'd have to be starving in the desert to eat that stuff. Once you have dejunked, you will feel the same way. De-junk your pantry and never allow it back. Even the nuggets are a processed food. Grilled chicken would be better. I know I may sound purist or over zealous, but this approach has worked for me, today I weighed and found I have lost 30kgs. As Wham said, Choose Life.

If you have not watched it yet, watch "Super Size Me", a DVD doco about all the crap and sugar and calories etc in junk food. This will help steel your resolve too.

Diane, Fit to the Finish said...

I found that to be true as well during both the 14 months I lost all my weight, and to this day, 12 years later. The longer I'm in maintenance, the more I realize how valuable learning to love healthy foods really is to success.

Congrats on all you have accomplished!

Lyn said...

Kim (Girl Who Clicked)~

Just to clarify... you said string cheese is junk food. I'd like to hear why you say that. I've always used string cheese as a simple, 80-calorie snack because it is a good source of protein (8g) and calcium (20% RDA). String cheese is just mozzerella in a 1-ounce package, so unless you think all cheese is junk food I am curious about your reasoning.

I did see Super Size me! What an eye opener! And yet even that didn't stop me from McDonald's. It took a dead fly. UGH!

I am very much looking forward to being de-junked :)

Sandra said...

I'm with you - if I can't pronounce it , it isn't going to go in my mouth. If I don't know what it is, how is my body going to know how to process it...
Great post!

Rachel said...

Lyn, I just wanted to congratulate you for extending your changes to your daughter's diet, too. I fully believe that the way my mom fed me when I was a kid has helped me lose weight and understand how and why to do it, not to mention probably prevented me from ever becoming morbidly obese. We never had junk food, rarely had sweets in the home, etc., and that was just how it was. She'll get used to it eventually! And then when she's older, hopefully she'll have that instinct towards good, real foods that she may not have had otherwise. Awesome job!

Camevil said...

While useful as a "motivational compass," WANTING (or not wanting) isn't enough. The degree of the want changes almost everyday or even every hour. It takes something more, something that will be a little more constant and reliable and isn't affected by our fluctuating emotions and desires.

But you knew that already.

Greta said...

Great post. amazing at how much of it I relate to. I am right there with you...going through a very similar thought process and pattern. Hang in there. Exercise DOES help. Let's keep cheering each other on. :) I sort of "restarted" things today. I have not put any weight on in the past month, but nor have I lost any. It is time for me to get re-motivated to get the rest of this layer of fat out of my way. I really want to see the muscles in my arms and legs that I have been working on...they are still somewhat "covered" in chub.

screwdestiny said...

It's good to hear that you're going to be cutting out all fast food. That stuff is SO terrible for you. I try to eat it as little as possible myself.

Oh, and I'm confused on the string cheese being junk food too. I mean, I guess it's slightly processed, but I wouldn't consider it junk.

cindyay said...

Hi Lyn,

I REALLY appreciate that you are honest about how you got through the first years, that it was NOT easy; that's SO motivating for me. Concerning the eating, where you mentioned eating some raisin bran, cheese, etc. around 9pm, it sounded like you were being hard on yourself b/c those were all healthy things and I think they are ok. You probably won't agree with me, but I hope you consider my perspective too.

I hope that doesn't come off as critical, just a suggestion. :)

Lyn said...


true, much healthier choices than it could have been! Nutritious, even. But the calories were too much. Still you're right, it is a step in the right direction. Now for another step!

Dana ( said...

Day by day. I'm with you. Great goals. Take it small steps at a time. And great that you are incorporating healthy foods into your daughter's diet as well!

Sarah said...

I have been reading this and have never commented. My mother could not lose weight either and she did everything. Come to find out she had celiac disease. She went gluten free and the weight feel off. I do not have the disease but decided to try it out anyway. how hard could if be if that stuff isnt good for you and the weight started coming off. the first couple days were hard but i found that bread and flour really didnt matter and if anything there was still plenty to eat. I live in Germany now so that lifestyle is gone b/c finding gluten free stuff is not working but as soon as i move back to the states I am gluten free again!!! ps u r doing a great job!!!

Karyn said...

You've mapped out the road you've taken to this point very well. Working through and freeing yourself of the binge eating was HUGE! Much more important, IMHO, than the first year of losing quickly because now, as you begin this next stage, you will not be struggling so much with those urges. You have become healthier emotionally, even though the 'regular' eating habits haven't solidified yet. I know that as you embark again on making good choices each time, because you've won such victories in your inner woman - you WILL begin to lose consistently and you WILL be 'one of those people'!

I am amazed at your success in beating the binge 'habit'....even in the midst of a difficult year.

100togo said...

So true! We have to want it bad enough to be consistent ... I'm not always there yet, but I think I'm getting there. Great post!

MB said...

I can't tell you how much your posts about binge eating help me. I have been struggling for so long and although I've made progress I haven't been able to avoid bingeing here and there. They have been less frequent and I have been able to do less damage but I'm still working on it. Thanks for being so honest about your journey. You inspire me to keep trying.

Anonymous said...

"Are you okay with trading your health or your dream of being a certain size for a pan of brownies?"

Of course everyone is willing to trade a pan of brownies to be a smaller size -- I don't think that's the issue, really. I think the issue is that most people are willing to give up the NEXT pan of brownies, which somehow makes eating THIS pan of brownies "not count" (if you know what I mean.)

Having been there with the binge eating and emotional eating in the past, I learned that one of the most important things to do is to eat in the present, not the future, not the past and not in some netherworld of emotional pain and confusion.

I think your instincts to focus on your emotional and binge eating issues are spot on -- the mechanics of dieting are easy: eat less and move more. But that doesn't really address the reason we were overweight, does it?

Instead of focusing on the amount of food we're eating, I think we should be focusing on discovering and changing our relationship with food. I think you are making great progress in this area.

Keep up the good work!

Certifiably Fit said...

Wow I have to say this was an excellent post!

Christina said...

The true success stories I've encountered are in people who became passionate - yeah - passionate about exercising and have adopted a fairly healthy eating plan - both things - check. It can be a hard pill to swallow but at 30+ - diet alone just isn't going to do it.
If you're exercising - it gives you a little cushion. No, not a huge mini-van sized cushion filled with fluffy down, more like a small couch pillow stuffed with poly-fill. But - the more you exercise - the more you burn - the more you can eat. Granted mostly these people eat healthy foods - and promote them (I have lots of beach body success story friends on facebook) - but they also consistently exercise. I truly believe this is the key. Finding an exercise you LOVE to do. Yeah - LOVE - because that's the only way you're going to consistently stay with it.