Monday, May 28, 2012

What Worked Before

Lately, I've been thinking about the very beginnings of my weight loss on this blog. I remember it well. I often think back about the two huge turning points I had that started this journey. One was when I was on vacation with my family and we drove over to a gorgeous beach on a lovely sunny day. The kids were so excited to play and run and look for shells. My daughter was a baby, just turned 2. My husband had to drive me to the handicapped access point, drop me off, and then go park at the regular parking lot and walk to reach me. Why? Because at 278 (or 283, depending on your scale) pounds, I could not walk from the regular lot to the beach. So after my family walked all the way down to the handicapped lot where I was waiting, we walked the short path to the beach and *I was exhausted.* As my boys ran off towards the waves, I was huffing and puffing, panting and limping, desperately looking for a driftwood log to sit on. But there were none. And as my kids ran off laughing and playing, I stood aching in the sand, wanting to turn back. I stood there and watched them for a bit, and then I had to gather everyone to leave. I just couldn't stand there any longer, and I knew if I sat in the soft sand I would not be able to get back up. So we left. We drove 10 hours to get to the beach, and I couldn't even enjoy it for 10 minutes. The rest of vacation I sat in the beach house while my boys went to the beach with their cousins. That is where I took my 'before' pictures: in the mirror of the beach house. I knew it was rock bottom and something had to change, but I didn't know how I would do it. Yet.

The other big moment, one of the defining ones in my life, came quite by accident at the Farmer's Market. I had been given a gift certificate for $30 in produce, so I took the kids and went to get some fruit (I was not a vegetable fan). We had just gotten home from the beach. I remember it like it was yesterday. I could not believe how much STUFF $30 could buy! We had to make several trips to the car: a watermelon, a cantaloupe, a honeydew melon, fresh corn, a flat of peaches, pints of berries, apples, carrots, squash, onions, plums, apricots... all kinds of ripe, fresh local produce. It covered the counters when we got home, and much of it was super ripe and needed to be eaten soon. We all dove in and enjoyed the awesome flavors. And that was the beginning of my journey.

I did not count calories. I did not measure anything. Nothing but JUNK was off limits. I kept eating the same meals we always ate, but I added vegetables to everything. I made a point of listening to my body and stopping eating when I was nearly full. And between meals, I ate TONS of fruit. I'd get hungry, walk in the kitchen and see melons and berries and plums. I'd eat 2 or 3 fresh peaches a day... several plums, handfuls of berries. I did not limit my fruit consumption at all. And the weight started falling off. In the first nine days I lost nine pounds. In two months I lost 20 pounds. I did not count calories, and did not exercise. I started out walking across the street and back, then halfway down the block and back, once per day until I could build up my endurance a bit. After two months and 20 pounds gone, I bought my recumbent exercise bike and started indoor biking.

By the time I got down to 218 pounds, I was biking 30 minutes, 6 days a week. I had begun the calorie counting as well and was eating about 1500 calories a day. I was also doing strength training for 20 minutes, 3 times a week.

And THAT is where I stalled out. I am going over this because I am trying to figure out what exactly worked and what didn't. For whatever reason, when I got to 218, which is very close to what I weigh today, my plan stopped getting results... or was unsustainable.

1500 calories of whole foods
biking 30 minutes 6x/week
lifting 20 minutes, 3x week

I lost weight on this. I did well on this and felt good on this regimen until I was in the 210's, and then it fell apart.

I think I have been aiming to go back to that, lately. About 1500 calories of whole food (albeit lower carb now), adding back the biking and the lifting. But maybe that is not such a good idea. If it didn't "work" before, maybe it is a bad idea to aim for that again. It's been the ideal in my own mind, so I'm not sure.

I often think about 'starting over' at my current weight and just doing exactly what got me results before: going to the Farmer's Market and buying a ton of produce and just eating it, making it the bulk of my intake and letting the rest be 'regular' foods I fix for my family, in moderation. And then, if the scale doesn't move, start counting again. Start biking. Start lifting. Exactly the way I lost the first 60+ pounds. It appeals to me far more than any other 'plan.' I am mulling it over, and thinking about doing this. It feels like going back to my 'true self.' The only thing stopping me is fear of failure, of gaining, of it not working, not being enough.


Anonymous said...

It's hard to gain weight eating huge amounts of veggies snd fruit in their natural state (without dips, sauces etc). Go for it.


Nmmumaw said...

Hey Lyn,

First and foremost, I salute you for continuing to even give mental energy to the whole weight loss thing when you're up to your armpits in adversity. Kudos to you! I hope the summer treats you and your family well, too.

My two cents here would be that eating more fresh, nutrient-dense produce can NEVER hurt. If you've been having problems with junk and you just focus on letting the summer's bounty supplant some of that in your everyday eating, you can only come out ahead of the game, calorie counting or not. So I say go for it.

Keep on keepin' on.

Anonymous said...

The major difference is you can eat more/take in more calories the heavier you are and still lose weight. It is harder to lose weight the lighter you are. You need to adjust the amounts you eat as you get smaller. Instead of TONS OF FRUIT, you most likely will have to adjust to 1-2 servings a day. I think the basic idea is all good, you just need to watch your amounts for basically everything besides vegetables. Unfortunately, once you reach a certain weight, it sounds like you'll have to really pump up the exercise and adjust daily calories. Maybe under 1500 is what it takes to consistently lose for you, I don't know, everyone is different. All I know is you can't expect to eat EXACTLY Like you were while close to 300 pounds-it helped you lose then but now you're much different and need to adjust. Good basic plan/structure, just needs tweaking for a new, smaller you.

Princess Dieter said...

Health and feeling good matter. You may have to be at a plateau in the 210s for a long, long time while your body heals from inflammation and who knows what else is going on. I think go with whole foods, 1500 calories average per day (meaning you might have a higher day and a lower day, for variation) and exercise. Wait and see with patience what your body does. Whole food and exercise is never an error.

Going super-low-cal lead to some radical weight gain. What you want is to lose and NOT regain. Maybe just let your body heal with fresh food, real food, good exercis and TIME. Patience and TIME. You may have being in this weight, but eating a rich potassium diet should lower your BP and proper exercise helps with the internal stuff...all sorts of stuff. What you can do without injury.

Sometimes, being in a hurry, desperation, is counter-productive.

Maybe, after some time doing the RIGHT things, the body will suddenly just...give you something, a reward of healing, and weight loss will resume.

Worth an experiment. Because if you can't lose weight at 1500 calories, yous seriously effed up your metabolism along the way. Even if it's 1/2 pound a week, that adds up. Don't aim for fast this time. Aim "for keeps". :D

beverly said...

OK Lynn. Read this book
Addiction to Perfection: The Still Unravished Bride: A Psychological Study (Studies in Jungian Psychology)
Like you, I am spinning in circles with weight loss. The hopeless cycles of it all. I am in therapy, weight always comes up, therapist has been telling me to read this book for almost a year. Finally I was telling her about a new diet/exercise book. She said "no more books" until you read Addiction to Perfection. It is hard, it is painful, I am not sure how it'll help but it hits at the core of the cause.

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you as I read your posts - staying with it and not giving up! Looking and re-examining and trying to figure out what works for you. I think whole foods, low carb, is the ticket. Fresh fruit in moderation, 1-2 servings per day. I've been up and down the scale all my life. Like you, I'm not a big fan of "a plan" and adjust mine as I go along. Right now, I'm holding onto 100 loss. It's probably taken me a year to lose 20 pounds. It seems my body will play with 5 pounds for a month, and then I'll finally drop below that 5 pound increment and play with the next 5 pounds for a few months. I'm exercising (run/walk 3+ miles at least 3x week). I'm close to where I want to be, so I'm not working so hard at the weight loss - but trying to not start gaining again. Maybe if you can focus on being healthy - whole eating and exercising how you are able, you will slowly start seeing the downward trend you desire. Best of luck to you. I consider your blog one of the life-lines of my weight loss. Thank you!!

Kathleen said...

Dear Lyn, I totally understand your desire to go back to that idyllic time when losing weight was easier. I love the image you present here: you, not having to monitor yourself, just eating fresh foods and enjoying the abundance of whole foods offered up by nature! Unfortunately, as I think was mentioned by a previous comment, the less you weigh, the harder it is to lose. When I was at my heaviest, all I had to do was one or two things, like cut soda out of my diet, or stop eating chips, and the weight would start falling off. But the more weight I lost, the more effort and work I had to put into losing (and believe me, I had a LOT of weight to lose). I completely support you having a more natural diet, and taking advantage of the great variety of fruits and vegetables now available...but things won't be as easy as they were in the past. You don't HAVE to do Medifast, or count calories, or cut carbs, or whatever. But you are going to have to buckle down and monitor yourself in some way (you choose which). Losing weight is not fun or easy (at least not in the long haul) and it is going to require work and discomfort. I am sorry to tell you this, I know that your life is hectic and you have a lot of children and that you feel like you are your wit's end much of the time. But it is the truth. Losing weight is hard work. Very possible, and achievable, but not without sacrifices. You are going to have to decide if your health is worth the time and effort you will have to devote to diet and exercise. Good luck!

Lyn said...


thanks for the suggestion. I see it is not available for Kindle yet so I will go see if my local library has that one.

Lyn said...


oh I know. It became hard work after the first 20 pounds. Those 103 pounds I burned off were hard earned. Believe me, if I were not monitoring myself *now* I would be a lot heavier! I am making an effort, but not *enough* effort, obviously.

I just do not want to HATE what I am doing to lose weight. I don't want to hurt myself, and it has to fit in reasonably well with the rest of the structure of my life.

Cindy Marsch said...

Lyn, my story is similar to yours in terms of getting down to a nice low weight (still obese) and then being unable to sustain that. I have learned over the years (six years I've maintained a 10% - 18% loss, mostly closer to the 10%) that I need to work on multiple fronts, including some OA, some Christian approach, some nutritarian, some WW. I think with your enjoyment of the produce, you might like a journey into the nutritarian approach. I highly recommend this blog, which has a great post today about managing the plan's components for particular calorie needs: . I have my own currently-dusty blog at . Perhaps a fresh approach is just what you need? :-)

timothy said...

DARLIN, that's why ww lowers your points as you lose. you reached your critical calorie/carb level, the point at which you stop losing but dont gain. atkins covers this too, when thatn happens you have to lower the calories/carbs (sometimes significantly) to jumpstart the body then keep it below that level. so 1200/1300 calories and less than 30 carbs may be neccesary for weight loss. also as you get smaller the natural sugar in the fruit may be slowing you down. you'll figure it out, just ignore that little doubt voice and at this point even your heart and focus the mind. also i use a fat fast when i get stuck described in atkins , it's 100 calories with 90% coming from fat. not much food at all but the fat supresses the appetite, if you're interested i'll send it to you!

Karen said...

Good luck. Each time you attempt weight loss you learn what works.

Safe travels and I agree with Kathleen , some amount of monitoring is required. It's good practice for weight maintenance.

Are you ready for the mental challenge of the weight loss? I've been reading Dean Dwyer's blog and podcast "Make Shift happen". I've not read his book but I find his blogs very helpful, even in maintenance.

Best wishes and I hope you can get to some of your goals this summer. KarenP

w0rld4vamps said...

I'm on the same page and actually at the same weight as your initial plateau. I've been thinking about the same things "what worked before". I think as long as we keep going and do the things we KNOW are good for us, even if the results aren't obvious for a while are still good things to do. It's something I have to remind myself as well. It takes TIME. I'll have to just keep moving even if the scale doesn't show it. Good luck. I love fruit.


Anonymous said...

The things you did to loose weight sounds reasonable to me. Maybe trying to do those again would work. You never know until you try. Good luck to you no matter what you choose to try !

Zoe Dunn said...

Hi Lyn,

Don't let the fear of failing hold you back, easier said than done, I know. This is such a barrier for a lot of people though isn't it?

Heaps of love xx

CatherineMarie said...

I agree with Princess Dieter. This summer, try to hit the farmer's market (or join a CSA?) as much as possible. The problem we end up with is that we get blasted with images from shows like "The Biggest Loser", and so we think we have to lose weight fast... and it doesn't come off quickly. You do know that they exercise 4 hours a day and have a severely restricted diet? That's got to eff up anyone's metabolism.

Do what worked for you in the past, what will fit into your life at present, because adding more stress will not help you lose the weight.... and fruit is better for you than chocolate (although we all need some chocolate!)

Your body may need to heal, to sort itself out first, with nutritious foods... maybe low-carb isn't for you.. I've noticed that any time a product is advertised as "low" anything, its high in something else.... gluten-free prepared foods are high in fats and sugars, for example... maybe you need to work on just making things that are as "whole" and fresh as you need and eating four times a day.... (I don't get hungry in the morning, and then I snack too much later on) There are a couple good cookbooks that inspired me when I was heavier...Kathleen Daelemans was a chef who lost a ton of weight. She has written two books... Jane Brody is also good, and Deborah Madison has (while not a diet cookbook) one on eating from the Farmer's Market, and her Greens cookbook is amazing.

Diandra said...

I think if you add the exercise back in, you should be seeing results soon. And even if the numbers don't change, your body and health will improve because of it.

(I have been at the same weight since last August, losing and gaining the same ten pounds, and the exercise really makes me feel better about myself when the numbers make me look like a failure.)

Anonymous said...

Hey Lyn
Glad your daughter is getting better, I know what you mean about having to put other things first - your kids ALWAYS come first, period. I know that's the case with you and no matter what anyone says it always will be - you sound like such a good mum.
I lost 14lb so easily this year, same as you, smaller meals, more exercise, careful, thoughtful eating. Then I got stuck. I think sometimes you just keep at it, chipping away and then it will come off, just a lot slower the closer you get.
Keep your pecker up, be thankful and take good care of yourself. You are an inspiration and you really shouldn't keep beating yourslf up. (PS I warm to you even more because I was brought up in the same wierd religion and I know what it does to your head - we've both come out the other side and looking after our own kids in a much better way.....)

LauraA said...

Lyn, I have been reading through your archives lately, and I was hoping you might make a post like this soon - your early posts that highlight your focus on produce are so inspiring! It's thanks to you that I started serving things like pasta sauce and stroganoff over big piles of veggies instead of noodles - yum! Reading back over your blog it seems to me that it wasn't that your plan stopped working, but that you had some tough emotional stuff going on in your life that threw you off, so I think it would be worth a try again. Whatever you decide I wish you the best of luck. Love your blog, then and now :)

Amy said...

I read a quote recently that I think you can relate to:
"Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas Edison. That's what I like about you, you never give up. You will find your own formula for success. Being in a holding pattern is better than landing in stormy weather.

Anonymous said...

I would examine what changed inside your head at that time instead of questioning the regimen you had. If the daily food/exercise did not change then something in your thinking/psche changed...THAT is the key to unlock the "Why?"
That book is by Marian Woodman btw. I read it in 1992. She is a powerful advocate for women.

Anonymous said...

I always keep a 'bottomless' fruit bowl going in my refrig. Usually cut up peaches and strawberries and green a big tupperware. Have a portion as snack or cold and delicious!!

Lyn said...


I agree, but right now pain is preventing me from doing *enough* exercise. I walk a mile a day (when we aren't sick) but more than that, my plantar fasciitis flares up badly and then I can't even do a mile. I was biking regularly just a couple months ago, but once again had pain from my torn meniscus in my knee and had to back off to let it heal. It is very frustrating to end up in pain when I want to exercise.

I think a pool would be nice but I do not have regular access to one.

Anonymous said...

One way to stop the endless mind spinning ie obsessive thoughts about Food..(which foods? etc) is to eat the same thing everyday. Dr Oz taught me this. He calls it "mechanizing your meals". It is food as fuel rather than comfort or enetertainment. Get a copy of his book from the library YOU- on a diet etc..I did this to get off the crazy train of overthinking- it worked beautifully for me.

Megan Reuther said...

I'm currently counting calories, and am also nursing twins. I set up myfitnesspal to lose one pound per week and count everything unless it's a fruit or veggie. I eat quite a lot of fruit (at least a banana, an apple and one other fruit per day) and enjoy salads and crunchy veg as snacks. If I'm truly hungry, I'll reach for a fruit or veg, but if I'm emotionally hungry, I reach for junk, and that's what the tracker is for.

I hope you all regain your health soon ~ it's hard enough to focus on weight loss on its own, but add in 'survival mode' and it's almost impossible.

Anonymous said...

Ive been losing on VLC and I eat the same meal once or twice a day. Its really helping me drop lbs and has quieted that beast of craving Ive battled all my lfe! If I think about my steak/hamber/brisket or ribs and I dont want them, then Im certain my body doesnt require refueling. Insulin control is my angel of salvation! Not for everyone I know but has been the key for some.

CatherineMarie said...

Lyn, I started out just bouncing on a yoga ball when I started losing weight and getting fit again... Little things can add up for exercise too... So if you watch a tv show, get a yoga ball and do some situps during the commercials... Or bounce on it when you are on the computer....

even doing 15 minute increments adds up...there was a show on fittv that I caught a few times, where they showed you how to use stuff in your home to get a workout going.... even if you go out and hula hoop with your daughter for ten minutes.... it doesn't have to be a huge block of exercise time...

Taryl said...

If it is something you can stick to, even if it isn't ideal, do it. And best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm a big VLC, high-fat lifestyle fan. I've done the whole "lose 10kg on lower calories, gain it back and then try to figure out how to get back there" thing - it just leads to frustration and berating oneself.

I would really recommend reading Gary Taubes's Good Calories Bad Calories. It is just enlightening with regards to how our metabolisms work and the causal relationship between eating and being obese. Even if you don't subscribe to what he says, it is a good read nonetheless (if a bit heavy).

I have never been obese but I have been overweight and I have been tormented by my attempts to control the inevitable weight gain. Since going high-fat, whole foods, etc, my metabolism has normalised and 8 months later I am finally seeing changes. I now eat 1 - 2 meals a day ( I know I'll be lynched by some for this) but they are big meals, high caloric meals (sometimes 1200 calories in a single meal, sometimes more) and I feel FULL afterwards. I would eat more often if I was hungry but I just am not hungry. It is liberating. you should check out Mark's Daily Apple.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

First I would like to say congratulations on your amazing transformation! It is hard work losing weight, and harder still when what you've tried before is no longer working. As for myself, I have had about 30 lb to lose for 3 years. Some things I am trying now that seem to be helping, (1) counting calories (you already do this - so o.k.), (2) crossfit or bodyweight exercises (see, and (3) to be able to deal with the lower calories, I skip breakfast. It's a mild form of intermittent fasting, with by "feeding window" compressed to between noon and 10 pm. I like it because I get to have larger meals, and as long as I don't eat anything before noon, I'm able to stave off hunger. It is tough the first 2 days.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to say that I had a hard time with this until I cut fruit back to zero or one servings a day.