May 27, 2010

Week 4: Still Stumbling

This week, I had the pleasure of enjoying my mother-in-law and her husband visiting us for a week. We ate out a lot, which proved a bit of a quandary in terms of eating and trying to figure out calories and trying to withstand the urge to eat more than I needed. The results were mixed. I began well, started sinking back into overeating habits for a few days and then made an adjustment on Tuesday and Wednesday that made me re-visit the feelings of day-long hunger to get back on track. I think there was one or two days during their visit where I was about 1000 calories above my target. One of those days, every meal was purchased outside the home. The final meal was at a Cuban restaurant where I learned that I really like Cuban food and I especially love drinking a Mojito cocktail. It is made with mint leaves crushed in lime juice, a bit of powdered sugar, a shot of white rum with club soda topping it off. I was highly tempted to have two glasses, but successfully withstood the temptation by thinking of the cost, the calories, and a vision of Eric having a heart attack trying to carry me to the car because I had passed out in a drunken stupor from overestimating my lightweight abilities to process alcohol. It is also always tempting when visitors are around to make sure we have lots of sweets and Grandpa Dick was not helping when he bought the kids push-up treats on our way to Tubac. At least I made sure he didn’t get me any because I was saving my calories that day for Wisdom’s fruit burros served with a scoop of ice cream. Mmmmmm….Can you tell why I have a hard time losing weight?

I do have some non-weight accomplishments this week:
* I memorized Ephesians 1:18-20 and 2 Corinthians 3:18. My favorite version of the 2 Corinthians verse is New Living Translation, though I worked so hard to memorize the NIV version that I am not going to try and memorize the NLT version. They both are helping me to rely more on God, because it is His power that can change a person in the long run.
* I have gone from an “old lady” shuffling jog for slightly less than ½ mile with my bad knee aching by the end of the run to a “slightly younger old lady” shuffling jog for a little more than ½ mile without my bad knee whining at all. My fitbit pedometer says that I am keeping a 10 minute mile pace when I run that is pretty consistent.
* Maia, the Wii’s “Personal Trainer” will stop about three times in a workout to see how I am doing for that particular section of the workout. On two different occasions, I was able to chose “No sweat” instead of “I was working hard.” or “I couldn’t keep up.”
* I have worked out five times a week for the last three weeks, not counting shambling/walking the dog and playing in the pool when temperatures reach 90.
* I spent an hour climbing up, jumping across, and scrambling down big boulders on a creek bed trail in Tanto Natural Bridge State Park, as well as helping my youngest do the same. I felt like a female version of Greg Bear in “Man vs. Wild.” At least until my legs started shaking as I climbed up the last embankment that brought me back to the top of the trail. The next day, I was only a little sore. If I had tried to do the same four weeks ago, I probably would have hurt/pulled something and too sore to move the following day.
* I put on some shorts last week that used to scream in agony at the excessive stretching needed for me to wear them. This week, they only whimpered briefly.

My goals for this week are to memorize Ephesians 3:16-21 and keep any “binge eating” to one day a week and not let it get extended to more than two days. Ideally, I would like to eliminate binge eating all together. However, I am human, not God, so I can live with imperfection :-).

“If I stand, let me stand on the promise that You will pull me through. And if I’m weak, let me fall on the grace that first brought me to You.” (Rich Mullins, “If I Stand”)

The result for this week: Up 1 pound, 37 to go

May 20, 2010

Week 3: It’s not just about the weight?

When I started this journey, I promised myself that I would only weigh myself once a week. And yet, last Thursday, I weighed myself at least three times during the day to see if anything had changed. No such luck. I spent the whole day feeling sorry—sorry that I had let myelf and my encouragers down, sorry that I had let God down because I know that I had indulged more than I should have during the week, rather than turning to God. I repented the pride that led to my “downfall” and in not really relying on the power of God. I re-affirmed the sacrifices that would have to be made in order to reach my goal and realized that, ultimately, they would be worth it if I did it to glorify God. The next day, I couldn’t resist. I got on the scale again. I was back to within 0.2 pounds of the week 1weight. Part of me screamed “ARRRGGGGHHHHHH! Why couldn’t this have been the weight yesterday?” Then I heard God ask me a question: “Are you going to trade in one idol for another?” Busted. Again. Drat.

Throughout the week, whether I had a good day eating or a bad day, God reminded me that other good things were happening. For one thing, working out five times a week is resulting in me having more energy and improving a lot quicker than I thought I would. When I started exercising, I barely got through 15 minutes of aerobics combined with 15 minutes of flexibility, which is not the same as stretching, according to Wii "My Fitness Instructor" (the cheaper version of Wii Fit). In the last week, I have increased it to 30 minutes of whatever I am doing and I am not having as much difficulty in peforming the exercise. When I walk Jacques, I am able to run/shamble for longer distances before my weak knee starts aching. I think the exercise has also contributed to me being calmer with the kids, probably because I don’t have the energy to get really mad at them :-). There are more days that I am satisfied with eating less and those times when I do overeat, I stop sooner than in previous times. In the past week I have thrown away a fudgecicle because I realized that I was not eating for the right reasons and, at a restaurant, cut everything in half and left one half to take home. I also successfully followed up one day of little excesses with a day of a little lesses. Finally, the clothes that were beginning to be a bit tight are feeling a little less tight. These are all positive changes that should be highlighted before the weight.

My goal this week is to memorize and meditate on two Bible verses: Ephesians 1:18-20, which I included in my last post, and 2 Corinthians 3:18.

The result for this week: down 4 pounds from last week (though it was REALLY only two), 36 pounds to go.

Thank you God, for giving me strength to make it through the week!

May 13, 2010

Week 2: Sophmore Slump

Sometimes, musical artists put all of their creative energy into one album that is incredibly awesome. Almost every song is a chart topper, destined to be on their future "Greatest Hits" album. As they are busy promoting their first album, they start putting together a second album to ride the fame wave. They hope the second album will ride on the coattails of the first, but they either don't take the time they did for the first album or they don't have the same creative juices flowing and the second album is a dud at best and sometimes is truly awfull. It happens enough that the music industry has created the term "sophmore slump" to describe a bad follow-up to a very successful album. This week, I had a slump that brought me back to the starting point.

The result for this week: up 2 pounds, 40 to go.

It was very painful and incredibly humbling to type that last line. The only good thing about last week was that I continued to exercise five days a week. Mother's Day started a bad four days, even though I stayed under 2000 calories on that day. I haven't even logged in my food for the last two days because I know the lines of calories consumed and burned would cross. However, at the risk of sounding like Bob the Tomato, I have to step back and ask myself the question, "What have I learned this week?" I learned that I can't do this on my own and that this is truly a heart issue, not a weight issue. I was carried the first week on the novelty, which wears off pretty fast in my heart. This week, I was grumbling, thinking how hard it was to have the gentle gnawing in my belly at the end of every meal, whereas, the first week, I was enjoying it. However, to really get serious, I need to turn away from food and find joy and comfort in the One who truly satisfies--the God, the Lord of the Universe, who loves me whether I am putting out the hits or in a sophmore slump. He sacrificed his son, Jesus so that my sins could be washed away even if the pounds sometimes remain. He knit me in my mother's womb and knows when I will get up and when I will lie down (Psalm 139). He gives me power to be able to persevere based on the following verses:

2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 10:4
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Ephesians 1:18-20
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...

Ephesians 3:16-21
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

So, even though I am tempted to give up already and say "I can't do it! I don't have what it takes to go the distance!" I will choose to believe that I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (Phillipians 4:13).

May 6, 2010

The first week weigh-in

Before I begin, I just want to thank AquaJane and KT for their encouraging comments to my quest for weight loss. I did check out AquaJanes's blog in January 2009 and read her suggestions for weight loss and really like the idea of adding sweet dressing to salads to satisfy my sweet tooth.

The result for this week is: down 2 pounds, 38 more to go.

I was rather hoping for this result the first week, but am not expecting it to continue over the course of the remaining weeks. My last experience with weight loss had periods of plataues when I didn't lose anything for a week or two. Last week, I worked at weighing and measuring a lot of my food. To combat my sweet tooth, every morning, I make myself a smoothie for breakfast using 1 cup orange juice, 1 banana for sweetening and thickening and one egg for protein and foamy goodness. I also add ice and, if I am feeling extra fancy, a few drops of vanilla. It makes about 20 ounces or so and is pretty filling. I usually have a morning snack of either some sort of bread or a handful of nuts. I said that my daily goal is 1500 calories, but I am allowing one, maybe two days at most of eating up to 1800 calories. If I consume these calories before dinner, my plan is to go without dinner, or eat low calorie food, like veggies only or cut way down on my serving portions. I have had a few cookies here and there, mostly homemade cookies that are chock full of butter and granulated sugar. However, I am eating about 90% less sweets than what I have been eating. I was pretty shocked at what one homemade chocolate chip had in terms of calories. Sweets are my downfall. I am drinking less coffee these days because, to be honest, I prefer what my husband calls "candy in a drink" coffees, like what you would find at place where the workers are called "baristas." If I need caffeine, I am drinking green tea, which is not quite as satisfying but also has a gentler effect on the body than the caffeine in coffee.

For exercise, I am working out to "My fitness trainer" via the Wii five times a week. I only do 15 minutes of low impact exercise, followed by 15 minutes of their stretching program, which also includes some aerobic activity. I really don't like the Wii's cool down and might abandon it totally for my own. I am starting out with shorter times because I haven't exercised in a very long time and I don't want to burn myself out. I also walk the dog once a day, sometimes at a brisk pace, sometimes at a not-so-brisk pace. I have gotten some extra activity this week by being able to hop in the pool for about 30 minutes a few days with my kids. I don't really swim laps and it would probably take about 1000 laps to swim a mile, but I do play with the kids. By the way, an Arizona native told me that anyone who goes in the pool before June has not lived in Arizona long enough. We have been putting a solar cover on the pool to warm up the water to extend the season.

Weekends have been easier for me than weekdays because my husband is a better accountability person than my kids. For the next week, I am thinking about moving the smoothie to be a mid afternoon snack and having solid food for breakfast. I think breakfast is the really important meal and I would rather load my calories at that time rather than in the afternoon or evening. Plus, my sweet tooth is strongest in the afternoon, when my kids are enjoying their little sweets. The other time of night when I crave sweets is right before going to bed. However, at that time, I have my husband to hold me accountable, just by his presence. He is such a blessing!

May 3, 2010

A not-so-new frontier

Last Thursday, I decided to procrastinate no longer. I am going to lose weight. John is five years old, which means that what I am carrying can no longer be called "baby fat". It is all my very own fat, the result of too much overindulgence and too little exercise. I have been wanting to lose weight for years, but not really motivated to really make the sacrifices needed to accomplish my goal. Instead, I was really hoping/praying for God to do a miraculous liposuction/stomach stapling/heart transplant type procedure one night as I slept so that I woke up the next day forty pounds lighter with tight muscles and with no desire to overeat or eat anything sweet. For some reason, He didn't grant that prayer request. Go figure! What, do you ask, could have instigated such a decision NOW?

I would like to say that, one day, as I was praying, God gave me the fourth greatest commission--to unload myself of the unnecessary burden of obesity (yes, I qualify.) Alas, no such commission came. However, there have been many pin-pricks of conscience. My mother has lost a considerable amount of weight over the last several months using Weight Watchers. So there is some competitive motivation. I lost 50 pounds in the year and a half that I dated and married Eric so I know it CAN be done. When we bought the Wii system a few months back, one of the programs that I insisted we purchase was "My Personal Fitness Trainer" to help with the exercise part of weight loss when I decided to actually try to lose weight. However, it just sat in the package for a bit. What REALLY motivated me was that my husband won a pedometer with a cool program and gave it to me as an encouragement to lose weight because I had been grousing about it over the last several months. The program allows you to log the foods you eat to calculate calories consumed and any activites I am doing. It even tracks my sleeping pattern to see how efficiently I sleep. The food and activity logs are fairly easy to use and I can more effectively see how many calories that I have consumed and burned rather than just "guessing", which has been my previous, unsuccessful method. There are really cool graphs that appeal to my inner geek.

So I have set a goal of 40 pounds in 40 weeks, which is not only achievable, but also uses one of God's favorite numbers, which means my work is extra blessed :-). My secret desire is to be 20 pounds lighter by the middle of June, in which I attend my first wedding. However, slow and steady tends to result in more permanent weight loss. I will achieve it the old fashioned way, by reducing my caloric intake to somewhere around 1500 calories and increasing my activity to burn more calories. This will also help me to become healthier, maybe be able to catch my oldest child in tag, and reduce stress on my knees and hips, which are starting to feel the extra weight. Once I lose the weight, then I might be motivated to pursue other fitness goals, like running a half marathon and surviving a cute, little triathalon. My biggest hurdle is being able to sustain the program more than two weeks, which is when I have typically given up in the past. In the spirit of "Julie & Julia", I will post my accomplishments on Thursdays, which is the day last week in which I made up my mind to start the program, after receiving the pedometer.

For those of you who pray, please pray that God will fill me with all that I need to go through the suffering of sweets withdrawal, since that is pretty much the only way I can stay at 1500 calories and that I would not insist that my family join me in my suffering :-) by being a grump. I would really like to go through this being thankful to God for the food I CAN eat and the quantities that He allows.