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The Things I’ve Learned & Accomplished during my 365 day Project

November 15, 2011

So here it is the official last full day of my Project.  Did I meet my original goal of losing 100 lbs in a year?  Nope… no I didn’t, but I’m glad.  If I had been that much on track and never slipped, I would have missed some very important lessons along the way and I most likely would have accomplished it in a less sustainable manner (knowing me) and would surely (and not so slowly) have the weight creep back on.

I’m so far from where I came that the fear of gaining all my weight back has all but diminished into nothingness.  I’ve come a long way from Julie & Julia… the unlikely inspiration for my Project.

About six months in (and further behind on my goal), I mentally switched over to a new goal of 50 lbs which I made official a few months later.

Did I reach my new goal?  Nope, close… 40.2 lbs lost.  I was just 9.8 lbs shy… but I’ll achieve and surpass that eventually and then move onto my much longer-term goals.

What % loss did I achieve?  13%  …not too shabby

Number of inches lost?  11 inches (only measuring neck, waist, hips & thighs) – the most coming from my waist: 4.5 inches lost!  Woo-hoo!

Sizes lost?  26-28 to a 20-22

My BMI was 44.27 and is now 38.51… still a long ways to go to get out of the “obese” category, but still better!

More important than weight loss alone, there is so much I learned along my journey… about myself and about certain falsehoods that have been literally shoved down our throats since birth.  Armed with knowledge and truth, I can better my life all on my own and achieve my goals and sustain my health.

Here are some of my changes and things I have learned about myself:

I have truly learned from consistency as much as inconsistency that my body runs better on small, healthy frequent meals every 2-3 hours as opposed to 3 large meals and 2-3 smaller snacks (or 3 large meals alone).  This can be hard to stick to every single day, but the closer I get to it, the more efficient my body and easier it was to lose weight.

I better understand the importance of organic food, sustainable farms, eating raw, humanely raised/correctly fed animals, juicing and also why it is best for my family to avoid foods with certain products (MSG, aspartame, partially hydrogenated oil, and items that are likely to be made from genetically modified crops to name a few).

I have a deeper understanding of why certain foods (raw fruits and vegetables and whole foods) are good for you, and how eating healthy is not just a means to lose weight, but a way to naturally medicate and heal yourself and live longer in better health that happens to have the beneficial side effect of weight loss.  Over the course of this past year I’ve only had 2 very minor colds (light sniffles, some sneezing and barely a cough) that only lasted less than 48 hours taking nothing but Cold-Eeze as medication and eating well (and this is with my hubby & son bringing home more than at least six colds).

I serve an assortment of raw veggies for my family with almost every single dinner and I’m on the quest to have them eventually join in me enjoying the juice from juicing (when I finally afford a juicer).
I did however get my son to appreciate my banana chocolate “smoothie” (just one overripe banana, couple egg whites (powdered work best), ice, and a tbsp. cocoa powder) and this is a step in the right direction.

I have weaned myself off of Splenda (packets) for the most part and have changed to Stevia for my sweetening needs.

Although there is strong evidence both ways as to eating or not eating animal protein when it comes to health, I have chosen to lower the amount of animal protein I consume.  This was a choice personal to my own body.  I really do love meat and would most likely never give it up, but I can certainly lower my intake especially when I can replace it with raw veggies and nuts.  I honestly don’t think I needed *that* much animal protein in my life… it had gotten out of hand.

I have come from hating exercise to putting up with it, to discovering I’d rather clean my house or do yard maintenance than do one 20 minute workout video, to preferring to walk laps in my house than clean it.  Just about the only consistent thing I learned about myself when it came to exercise is that I love walking.  It is by far my number 1 exercise of choice and I love that it’s free and I even prefer to do it alone.  Walking is my maintainable exercise… everything else is a quick fad that I can do every once in a while to shake things up (Turbo Jam, The Biggest Loser workout DVD, Body by Bethenny yoga, Windsor Pilates and my trusty exercise grab bag).

Health coaches don’t help me.  They bring up old immature feelings and responses from dick doctors of my past when they start on their scripted “how to act… what to eat… how to behave” spiel.  As soon as I’m not treated as the individual I am and I get a “one size fits all” command, I completely revert and reject and it completely hinders my progress.  Since I can’t help this response (and it took me 6 months later to realize that’s what had happened), it seems better for me not to return my health coach’s calls (and there were only 2 attempts and she must have given up on me assuming I was gaining weight when really I’ve lost the most weight in the quickest time ever achieved during my project since I stopped talking with her!)
Though this fix is temporary as our insurance requires we start all over again with the health coach calls for next year… I think I’ll just be brutally honest with whoever I get and stop answering as soon as I get through the one follow-up call that is required to earn my incentive to lower my deductible.

Top Foods I have Little to No Portion Control ability (therefore I will not allow them in my house on a regular basis):

Chips (potato, tortilla, ANY type)
Fresh baked bread
Sugary cereals

Foods I Do have Portion Control with (now):
Kashi cereal
Nuts/seeds
cheese
yogurt

Foods for which Portion Control still comes and goes:
Ben & Jerry’s
Milk (read: Ovaltine)
Popcorn

It’s good to figure out your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to food.  If you really can’t handle the allure and have no portion control ability of a specific item, then that is when it’s a safe bet to just not allow it in your house (or at least limit it to less than 5 times a year).  Why torture yourself and then feel badly for giving into temptation?

I have discovered that the feeling of being out of control is my number one trigger to emotionally eat.  It was being masked under financial or other types of stress, but  it was the fact that I was dwelling on the things that were out of my control (whether my hubby got a raise, promotion or a new job, landlord/tenant laws and trying to cover our asses and if we’d get new tenants to cover our mortgage, etc).  Yes, those things were stressful but only when I stood back, took a deep breath and focused on what I could control (our budget for the money we do have, that we’ve done what we could legally, etc) did the emotional trigger fog lift and I could feel normal again.  Those AA people know what they are talking about with the serenity prayer… “to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”.  These are definitely words to live by for me.  I must always remember to focus on those things I do have control over and let go of those I do not.

Besides the weight lost, inches lost and gained health & healthy habits, another thing I’m proud of is that during this whole Project, the most my weight ever went back up during the bad/hard times was about 4 lbs, but usually less.  This is truly amazing as in the past I am totally the person who packs on 5 lbs in the blink of an eye and then waits until a 10 lb gain to do anything about it.
Obviously I rebound and get back on track a lot faster than I’ve ever managed before and it’s this new found talent that I hope will help me maintain my loss and keep the journey going until I get to goal.

I’d be lying if I said I my “diet mentality” was completely gone.  I think it’ll always be in my brain – brought on by years and years of dieting the wrong way and learned bad habits and thinking (like “oh, I ate one thing off plan, so I guess this day is blown… keep eating!”).  Nope, it’s still there but as of today and the last few months, I haven’t felt it and that’s been the longest I’ve ever gone while still in the act of trying to lose weight.  The obsession of “what’s my next meal?”, “when’s my next meal?” or “can I eat YET?” seems miles away and I’m so thankful for that.  I only occurred to me that the feeling was gone by re-reading a former post of mine when I was having a tough time and literally staring at the clock waiting to eat all day.  I read that and was like “omg, I remember that!  Wow… I haven’t felt that way in a long time!”  This is a good, GOOD thing… something is sticking… second nature good habits are sustaining.

Ok… that’s it.  Well, I know there is so much more, but this is all my brain is letting me come up with from my 365 day journey at the moment.  I’m sure I might have an update or two in the future in this blog (or at a minimum I’ll update my Progress Stat & Pics as I continue on with my venture).

I want to thank those of you who bothered to subscribe and read along with my journey.

My final message will be to those struggling to lose weight or even get started… never give up, be realistic with goal setting (no more than 1-2 lbs per week and remember that as harsh and disappointing as it can be, you may not lose anything for certain weeks and that’s not a reason to quit), and put yourself first in your life… kids, significant others and loved ones will get a better you if you take care of yourself first.

It took me a year and blogging almost daily and keeping a detailed spreadsheet to figure out my honest breakdown of how much weight I can expect to lose in a month… it’s about 3 – 3.5 lbs per month (not the 7-8 lbs per month I was hoping for).  This amount is a mix of good days, bad days and everything in between… this is what I can actually achieve.  Now that I have this true, played out, fully tested, realistic number in mind, I can set realistic and achievable goals in my future.  Sure, it sucks and stings a bit that this means I’ll be 4 years older than when I first started this Project before I achieve my long-term goal weight (and that’s without excluding any time that I may be pregnant in the next year or two!), but at least I know I can get there and not to burden myself with flashy, unrealistic (yet alluringly inspiring) goals.  I might as well keep it real and keep on keeping on.

I truly feel that blogging is therapeutic and I will definitely continue to do so, just not on a daily basis.  I have already created my next blog where my journey (but not this Project) will continue on with my Person In Progress blog:

http://gwentopia.wordpress.com

Please join me.

Thanks.

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Project’s End Eve

November 14, 2011

So here I am, the last night before my final weigh-in for my Project.  I have seriously been on point as far as quality food and exercise in hopes of getting just a couple more pounds lost so I can claim an even 40 lb loss.  This morning I finally hit 269 lbs!  All I need is just .4 more to drop off and I can hit the 4-0.

I’m so excited for my Project to end.  I’ve been constructing my last post for at least a month now, adding my lessons learned as I think of them.  Tomorrow I will be busy taking measurements, pictures, creating before/after comparisons and finishing up my long last post.  This will seriously take me most of the day.
It’s so weird to see the gadget on my desktop with the counter on “0 days to go!” for my Project.  When I really think about it, it does actually seem fast.  November 15th 2011 is really tomorrow.  I whole year ago today I thought “ok, this is it… TOMORROW I’m starting over”… and I really did… well sort of… I stalled for the first two months, but finally got going in January.  My hopes were so high and unbelievably (and surprisingly) naïve to the challenges ahead during my 365 day journey.  It’s been a trip.
See you tomorrow!

One Week Left!

November 7, 2011

Here it is exactly one more week (and the next day’s final weigh in) and my Project will be officially over.  It is definitely clear that there is no way I’m going to hit my adjusted goal with just about 12 lbs to go in this amount of time.   That only works when you’re on The Biggest Loser or *just* started a program and drop a ton of water weight… not me, not 51 weeks in.
My body has been at a standstill since I lost 4 lbs in 3 days a little over a week ago (wasn’t even trying – just switched up my foods for another reason) and I think what happened was that I wasn’t eating enough.   My weight actually started to go back up again without me changing my foods and when I logged my calories for the kind of foods I’d been eating (a lot of raw veggies and healthy soups), I was generally 500-700 calories less than normal and far under my minimum maintenance calories for a sedentary lifestyle, yet I was exercising each day.
So I spiked my calories and my weight dropped the next day, but never further than the 270.0 lbs I achieved.  I am still at a standstill.
I’m worried my lower calories days were just too much and that I slowed my metabolism down.  You’d think that wouldn’t have happened seeming A) I was eating every 2.5-3 hours and B) I was never hungry.  Is it still possible for your body to go into starvation mode even if you don’t feel like you’re starving?
Ah well, that special diet has gone away now.  I indulged in Chinese and Marco’s pizza this past weekend (felt like it’s been forever and will be the only and last takeout for the month).  The only change I was going to attempt to keep up with is no wheat pasta, no rice and no potatoes.  I’m all about filling up with raw, fresh veggies these days.
I just don’t know with how my body has been lately if anything (unless I do crazy drastic things… um, no) will make much of a difference for the next week, so this might be it folks.  Not that I’m giving up or anything… NEVER! But I’m tired of my own high expectations and a former me might hope for a 5 lb loss in the last 7 days (hah!).  Nope… I’d be happy with a decimal point drop or maybe even just one pound so I can finally achieve the 260’s.
Even when my Project is over, my journey is far from over.  I’m not going to gain back what I’ve lost.  If anything, I’m really good at maintenance!  Maintenance of the wrong weight that is!  And let’s be honest, 270 lbs (though much improved from my original 309 lbs) is still way too high to keep forever, but it’ll do until I can start losing again.
And even though I’m 30 lbs from it, some days I easily feel like I’m still over 300 lbs… days when my top belly seems to stick out more than it did the previous day and I just can’t suck it in, or my face goes back to having less definition even though my weight is the same.  Days like that spur me on to keep at it and never give in or give up.  I’m am at this for life.

Halloween & Other Stuff

November 1, 2011

Yesterday was the first Halloween that I both participated in and didn’t eat any candy or sweets.  This is one for the history books folks!  I’m now down to 11.4 lbs to go for achieving my newer goal for my Project.  Will I get there?  It will be a close call.  I can’t have any lazy days or bad eating days and a bit of a miracle to reach it, but no way am I giving up.  This is for life… changes forever… a new way of life.  I lose slower than I like, but it really does feel sustainable this time.
On Monday I was at a new Project low weight: 270.0 lbs.  I really am proud that I’ve lost 38.6 lbs now.

My best friend had a fire a few weeks ago and 95% of her personal items were burned or damaged beyond repair, so she’s really starting from square one for everything.  So now that she is no longer living with friends and has her own address to send items to, I got out an empty box and went through my house with a new eye for things I no longer need that could be useful, things I have doubles of and I moved a few boxes in the garage so I could drag out a big duffle bag of clothes.
Besides finding a few items of clothing for my friend, I found items that I can wear again!  They were clothes I packed away and haven’t worn since probably 2006.   I was going to pass up on most of the shirts, but then for shits and giggles decided to try it on and wouldn’t you know it?  It fit!
Then I pulled out a pair of jeans that at first glance I thought were my old size 14 because they looked so small to me (formerly size 26/28) and then looked at the tag to see they were a 20W.  It wasn’t so long ago I was happy to get back into size 24 and last week I could get on my size 22 jeans so I figured these wouldn’t fit, but I went ahead and tried anyway.  They fit!  Holy crap.
So now I have a few more pairs of jeans and an allotment of shirts for the winter!  Woo-hoo!  I love when I can “shop” my own wardrobe.  This is why I’m glad I hang on to everything.

Life in Bullets

October 29, 2011

I have an unexpected reprieve from the Invasion of the In-laws this weekend, so I thought I’d manage a post.
– I’m shrinking… down about 4 lbs in 3 days.  I’ve changed some of my foods and not even for the purpose of weight loss, but apparently that is a nice side effect.
– It was my son’s birthday yesterday… I didn’t eat any of his ice cream cake or the pumpkin cupcakes his grandma & grandpa brought with them
– My in-laws are visiting for the entire weekend, but at least they are sleeping at a hotel… just a little less stress for me
– Busy day today… hubby & grandpa are out picking up 2 couches hubby’s co-worker is giving us (ok, we’re paying for it, but $250 for a 2 year old $4000 set of couches is basically free to me!), then lunch, then Monkey Joe’s for the birthday boy to bounce around, then dinner and then a Balloon (hot air), Blues & BBQ festival with trick or treating
– Some other details going on (related to the food change) that I’m not comfortable sharing here, but maybe if it all works out I’ll share later.
– And of course, it is Halloween weekend and we’ve had candy in the house since Tuesday and I haven’t had any since Wednesday (holy self-control Batman!)  It’s true what they say… that staying away from sugar decreases the craving and then it’s easier to go without it.
– Due to my recent shrinking, I went right past my official achievement of losing 25% (35.9 lb loss, wt: 272.7 lbs) towards my dream goal weight.  I was 271 this morning.
– I’m looking forward to seeing the 260’s again (that hasn’t happened since 2006).

I hope today is as fun as I’m hoping for my little man and I’m looking forward to chilling out tomorrow all day with the in-laws as my son really enjoys their company (so glad his likes/loves and feels love from his grandparents… I never got that from either set of mine).

Progression

October 25, 2011

Here it is… my 365th post on my year-long Project and I still have 21 days to go!  I guess this can make up for the several days I’ve been skipping my “daily” blog lately.
I actually like that I’m pulling back from blogging, mainly because of the reason (not hiding, just preoccupied with family and life).  I’m so looking forward to my follow-up blog to this one that I have no intention of blogging on daily.  It’ll be whenever I have something to share or want to rant or celebrate.  Actually living and experiencing life will be in the forefront, not writing/blogging about it.  And here I thought even just a few months ago that I’d feel lost without checking in daily after my Project ends… nope, far from it!  It doesn’t feel like the crutch it started out as in the beginning and I consider that to be a really, REALLY good thing.

Learning & Bonding… a successful day off from school

October 24, 2011

Today was one of those teacher workshop days and my son got to stay home from kindergarten.  Had this been an actual holiday, my hubby would have had it off as well and it would have just been an extended family weekend.  But having hubby go off to work as normal really made it evident that my child NEEDS and LOVES and MISSES school!  OMG was he annoying right from the start.  The instances of “mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy…” started within an hour waking up.  My child hasn’t been this annoying and needy in a long time.
I attempted my normal morning routine and kept offering ideas to keep him busy, but this was futile.  I got him set up with some PlayDoh, but that didn’t last.  He just kept coming back “mommy look at this, mommy what if this happened?, mommy why is that like that?” and on and on.  So I finally put to use the phonics workbooks I bought from a learning store about a month ago.

We worked on several different worksheets together (finding letters, words with similar sounds, words that started or ended with same letters, etc).  Over the course of the rest of the day we followed this up with counting practice with fake coins, counting to 100 out loud again and again, practicing writing letters, word recognition and then I even wrote out some simple math problems (adding up to 10 or less) and he got them all correct with little effort (yeah!).
We also enjoyed bouncing on the trampoline together and I walked a few laps around the house and he followed me and found it highly amusing (and I usually don’t bother attempting to get exercise while he’s home because usually it doesn’t go well).
Our day sure improved as long as I kept busy with him.  Homeschooling almost felt like a doable alternative, but no… I know that is not the case.  This was a special day… special circumstances.

I know this sounds horrible, but usually a day like this (him being so needy) bugs me to no end.  I normally find it annoying and would rather watch TV or work on my laptop or even clean the house.  Plus, it was a Monday and usually I get my 7+ hours of much loved and appreciated alone time.  I’m selfish, what can I say?  It’s not that I don’t love to spend time with or play with my child, just not every minute all day long.

But I felt better emotionally and mentally today and was very determined to have a healthy day and I have to say that my child just ached for learning so much that for once *he* was more receptive and actually listened to me and didn’t whine or spaz during my lessons (which I’m sure kept me from getting frustrated and happy to continue).
It was just wonderful the quality time we achieved today.  Our learning time was finally enjoyable, bonding and successful and we got some exercise to boot!  Awesome day.