Category Archives: goals

The Choices We Make

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I have a co-worker, a young millennial who has a loud vibrant personality. She is brash, unapologetic, and funny. I wouldn’t have her any other way. She recently moved offices and I miss the energy she brought to an otherwise mundane job.

Every day as she breezed out of the office, she would mockingly say over her shoulder, “Make good choices!” And we would all laugh.

Recently, I was part of a pilot group with my therapist. If I had  not written this before, I am seeing someone to help me with my binge eating. She is writing a book about how to lose weight and keep it off forever.

The group I was a part of has been reviewing her book and launching a kind of support group where we read chapters of her book and discuss the ideas in that chapter. We were her beta readers/guinea pigs. This past weekend, we all met in person to discuss what we thought of the book and make suggestions for the support system she wants to create. I am so glad to have been a part of that group.

The book is very interesting. The book is less about what we eat and more about why we eat what we eat. She really encouraged us to explore the reasons behind our eating habits.

Of course she thinks the best diet for weight loss is low carb, high protein focusing on eating fresh meats and fish, high protein vegetarian options, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Very similar to any good bariatric diet, right?

So, why can’t we stick to it? Why do we constantly sabotage our diet plans? Why do we make choices we know will not help us on our path to a healthy weight and relationship to food?

Those are the questions through both my sessions with her and the book she’s working to address.

For me, a lot of my bad choices have to do with my inability to deal with stress and toxic people. I get very stressed out when I think about the toxic people in my life, and there have been several who have entered and left my world. Some stay longer than others. It has taken me a long time to realize their behavior is about them and not me and to create a distance between me and them, even if that barrier is just a mental one.

I also suffer from a low self-image and self-confidence. Many people who know me would certainly be surprised to know this. I hide it well most of the time. It is hard for me to find good things about myself.

After I had lost about 130 pounds, a guy I am friends with complimented me on a shirt I was wearing. He said something like, “That green color looks very good on you.”

I immediately replied with how much more weight I needed to lose, my hair looked awful, pick any one of the myriad of negative thoughts inside my head.

A female friend standing nearby turned to me and said, “No! Stop, Colleen. He complimented you. Your answer is, ‘Thank you!'”

She knew what I was doing. I was not used to being complimented about my appearance. She knew this. And she put the brakes on my negative thought train. At least the verbalization of my negative thoughts.

So, I have been exploring my insecurities. My inability to deal with stress and toxic people. My negative thoughts. And why I look for solace in food.

It is hard to constantly stop myself before I make a bad food decision and analyze the why. In the past, I’ve made a decision about what I wanted to eat and then just ate it. Even if I did not eat it to excess, I still often made very bad food choices.

So, this is what I do when I want to eat the cheesy poofs or whatever food I am craving at the moment. I stop and ask myself some questions.

  • Do I need this to feel full and meet my nutritional goals? (Is this choice a need or a want?)
  • Why do I want to eat the cheesy poofs?
  • What is going on? Am I stressed out? I am feeling bad?
  • What happened today, last night, yesterday to make me feel this way?
  • Will eating this particular food help me achieve my weight loss/health goals?
  • What impact will this choice have on my calories, protein, carb intake for the day?
  • What can I eat that I like that will keep me on track?
  • What other choice can I make?

 

Sometimes I even stop and pull out my phone and enter the cheesy poofs into myfitnesspal.com just to see what that choice will do to my daily goals.

I am successful in making better choices probably 95% of the time. Do I slip? Sure. One example, I had an extra slice of toast one day. Normally, that is enough to send me into a tailspin and think the whole day is lost. But the next day, I entered everything into myfitnesspal.com, and I was only a couple of points high on my carbs. I met my protein goals and calorie goals.

So, great choice? No. Diet-killer? Not even close. I was still on track.

Another thing I do is I try not to think of my entire weight loss goal every time I eat. I do keep that goal in mind every day, yes. But for each meal or snack, I think only of that meal or snack. I might think of how it fits into my daily goals, but in the moment, I do not think too much beyond that.

I chose that approach because sometimes thinking of the entire goal is too overwhelming and seems unattainable. Today, this moment, this meal, that is a doable goal.

I get weighed every two weeks, and in that moment, I only think of my bi-monthly goals. I do sit down with the doctor afterwards and talk about long-term goals, but only a month out. Most importantly, I’m not weighing myself every day and stressing out about the numbers on the scale.

Biking and exercising also helps. I have been biking quite a bit, although the impending snow storm in our area has really put a damper on that recently. But biking takes my mind off the stress of the day, releases endorphins, and generally makes me feel better. Not to mention, it is great exercise for a weight loss plan.

The result is, of the 58 pounds of regain, I’m down 18 pounds. And my overall goal is now lower as well. So, now instead of needing to lose 94 pounds, I only need to lose 76 pounds.

So, good news all around. I am working on improving my mental health and making better choices. I’m also losing weight, exercising, and feeling better!

Will I always make good choices? No, definitely not. No one is perfect, and I know I am not. But I know that if I stay focused, I can make much better choices moving forward.

I’ll just keep my co-workers voice in my head every time I reach for those cheesy poofs reminding me to stop and “Make Good Choices!”

 

 

Biker Girl!

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So, yesterday I tried something new, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Something I used to do when I was younger.

I went biking!

OK, I didn’t go very far, but that’s OK. I have not been on a bike in over 20 years. When I was very young, a kid all the way through high school, I used to bike all of the time. It was my main source of transportation and gave me a sense of freedom.

Once I became morbidly obese weight in the high 200s to low 300s, biking was not an option for me. So to be able to get back on a bike again held a lot of meaning.

My sister moved to Texas a few weeks ago and she gave me her bike. She knew I was looking to buy one, but I did not really have a lot of time to be trolling Craigslist to find an inexpensive used bike. She was purging before the move and decided to just give me her bike.

When I first got on the bike, the tires had no air. I fit on the bike perfectly. We put it in the back of my car, and it stayed there for a few weeks until I could deal with the no air problem.

I went to a bike shop near my apartment to get air in my tires and get a couple of supplies. I wanted to get a helmet and some lights for the bike. I also wanted to get a bike rack because getting the bike in and out of the hatchback is a pain in the ass.

Immediately after getting air in the tires and getting the bike rack installed, I drove out to my brother’s house and hung out with him and my niece for a bit. Well, really him, because my niece is now 8 and friends are much more important and fun than aunties. So basically, I drive 40 minutes to get a hug and then she runs off to play.

Such is life.

Anyway, it was late by the time I got back home. I took the bike off the rack and was walking it out of the garage and up to my apartment. I stopped in the lot for a few minutes a figured I would give it a quick spin.

To my surprise, I could barely touch the ground. I immediately felt very unsteady o the bike and almost toppled over. I tried a couple of times to find my balance, but I just couldn’t.

Feeling a bit embarrassed and nervous, I took he bike up to my apartment and just stared at it a bit. I was absolutely convinced I would never be able to do this. But I really wanted to. I put the bike in front of a bookcase and practiced sitting on and putting my feet on the pedals just to get the feel. In retrospect, holding onto the bookcase was probably not the brightest idea. Had I toppled over, I risked pulling the whole thing down on top of me. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Yesterday I was determined to at least get on the bike and maybe try to do a couple of laps in the parking lot. The parking lot of my building is kind of big, so a couple of laps would be a good starter.

I was very nervous and feeling very self-conscious about what people would think because I couldn’t even find my balance. Nonetheless, I did it. At first, I tried to position myself near a pole so I could balance myself. Then I practiced just scooting along to get the bike moving. I tried a couple of times get both feet on the pedals, but could not find my balance.

After a few minutes of scooting, I just told myself to do it. I took a deep breath and just forced myself to put both feet on the pedals and push. And I was off! A little wobbly, but I did it!

I rode around the lot for about 10 minutes. I did several loops in the front of the building and around the back. When I was done, I was exhausted and a little sore, but I did it!

I took the bike back inside and figured I was done for the day. Then my friend Sush texted me and asked if I wanted to come watch the DNC with her and watch the democrats elect Hillary, the first woman to run on a major party ticket. I excitedly texted back sure! I’ll ride my bike over!

I don’t know what made me say that. Maybe it was the endorphine rush from my short ride around the lot that made me feel invincible, but a huge part of me was screaming, “WTF! Why???”

Now Sush lives about a mile down the W&OD trail from where I live, so it’s not far. That wasn’t the problem though. I live on this HUGE hill that leads down into Shirlington and then down to the bike trail. While I could ride comfortably in my parking lot, and I was pretty sure I could make the mile on the bike trail, I was very worried about going up and down that hill.

So, I walked the bike down the hill. Once in Shirlington, I started riding towards the bike trail. I stayed mostly on the sidewalk except when I had to cross the street. It was a pretty easy ride on the trail. I was slow and other bikers did pass me. Fortunately, I had spent enough time walking on the trail, that I was familiar with biking etiquette. If another biker wants to pass you, they ring a bell or say, “On your left,” and that is your queue to stick to the right so they can safely pass. And it truth, I wasn’t on the trail long enough for this to really be an issue.

I did get off the trail a little too soon and wandered around a neighborhood that was not Sush’s for about a minute, then got back on the trail to get to her actual neighborhood. Sush was so excited to see me riding a bike. She knows what an accomplishment this was for me. She has been one of my biggest cheerleaders since I started my weight loss. She knows how much I struggled before, and she is so happy to see me doing things I never would have attempted.

The ride back was a little more difficult. Coming back to my neighborhood was kind of uphill, so the ride was a little more of a struggle. And it was so hot yesterday. And when it came time to walk the bike back up to my apartment, I was thoroughly exhausted. But I did it!

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Me post bike ride.

I’m going to go for a little ride tomorrow in the other direction on the trail just to see how far I get. I don’t work until the evening, so if I start early enough, I should be OK. I’m so glad to be biking again. I think my next investment though is going to be a pair of padded biker pants.

 

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes, I forget what it was like to be 300 pounds. More correctly, sometimes I forget that I am no longer 300 pounds.

I have been kind of down because my weight loss has stalled. I have been struggling with feeling down, feeling angry, and feeling fat all of the time. I have tried different techniques to try to kick-start the weight loss again to no avail. I have been feeling fat and bloated and I have been pretty hard on myself as a result.

Then I have moments like I did last night.

I was going out to my weekly writer’s group. I got into my car prepared to be squeezed in between the seat and the steering wheel. Admittedly, I do not drive often. I take a bus and/or metro to work every day. I usually only drive on weekends to visit family and friends or go grocery shopping, still you would think I know how well or not that I fit into my car.

Last night when I got in, there seemed to be a million miles between me and the steering wheel. I wish I had taken a picture. I was like, “OMG look at all of this S-P-A-C-E!”

Before the 127 pound weight loss, I had a hard time with space in the car. I have very short legs and have to have the seat moved up pretty close so that I can reach the peddles. My short legs are also why I cannot really drive a stick because my legs cannot reach the clutch. I was always squeezed in pretty tight with the steering wheel pressing up against my stomach.

Now when I sit in the car, I feel like I am sitting far back. The seat is in the same place. I can reach the peddles with no problem. And the steering wheel is nowhere near my stomach! It’s a small thing, but it felt kind of awesome.

Another thing happened last night that kind of made me a little happy too. When I walked into the restaurant where my writer’s group was meeting, I caught a guy checking me out. I walked in and wasn’t too sure where the group was meeting. I stopped and looked around. I caught the eye of a guy at a nearby table. He looked me up and down and smiled. I almost cracked up. I had to turn away to keep from laughing right at him. I know that’s maybe not the reaction he was looking for, but it just struck me as funny in the moment. I always want to stop and say, “Man, if you had seen me two years ago, you would not be looking at me like that right now!”

Still, it was a nice little ego boost on a day when I was not feeling so good about myself.

So I guess my point is that although you might sometimes be feeling down about where you are in your weight loss journey, it’s good to stop and take stock of all of the progress that has been made. I might not be where I want to be yet, but I no longer weigh 300 pounds and my life has changed pretty drastically for the better.

Sept 2012 Before Surgery

Sept 2012 Before Surgery

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Lazy Sunday

IMG_0055I guess it’s not really all that lazy. I was up early this am. I met a friend for coffee and then I went to this new organic market and bought some fruits and vegetables.

My sister has been having me try these new protein shakes made with vegetables, nuts, and fruits. They are really good. So I bought the ingredients to make some myself. I also bought the ingredients to make protein ice cream. I also made blueberry and chocolate protein ice cream this morning already. They are in the freezer now. I plan on sharing the recipes this week.

I need to get my swimming and walking in today and do some housework in prep for the work week. I have a full week this week. No more vacation until July when I go to the beach.

So, last week, I did a lot of walking because my friends were in town visiting. My challenge this week will be to keep the walking and exercise going on my own. I have some plans for that and I will write more about that later this week. I also plan to finish reading Salt Sugar, Fat this week so that I can write-up a review of my thoughts.

So, to recap what you can expect this week, new high protein recipes, my new exercise plans, and a possible book review. Are you excited? I know I am!

It’s supposed to storm after 4pm today, so if I get my outside exercise done before then, I can stay in and watch tv the rest of the day guilt-free. Wish me luck!

NSV Goal Achieved – Kayaking On The Potomac

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When I first starting planning for the gastric by-pass surgery, my sister and I would talk about all of the fun things we would do once I was healthy and thin enough to move around without struggle.

My sister has a kayak and her husband a boat. They went boating frequently in the summer. When I was a little thinner, I used to go canoeing. But since I had put on so much weight, these outdoor activities had become impossible for me.

Admittedly, I’m not really much of an outdoors girl. Walking in an urban center is about as outdoorsy as I get.  I really do not like the bugs and dirt, the lack of air conditioning or anywhere comfortable to sit that comes with the outdoorsy life. I am a spoiled urban chic and I love it!

That said, I have always wanted to go kayaking. I always thought it looked like fun from the time I was a kid. My sister and I kept planning that after the surgery, when I am thinner and healthy, we would go kayaking.

We’ll, yesterday I finally did!!

 I had so much fun! At first, I was apprehensive. I slowly got into the kayak. My brother-in-law held the boat in place and my sister helped me in. It was very wobbly and I was nervous about sitting. My brother-in-law just kept saying, “It’s ok just let your legs go. There’s only one place for you butt to go and that’s in the seat…or the river. Either way, don’t worry, we got you.”

I was not comforted.

I did manage to plant my butt in the seat with no problems. They handed me the oars and made sure everything I had with me, my bottle of water, my keys, my cell phone…because you know,  you gotta have a cell phone in the middle of the river…were safely placed in the sealed compartments and pushed the boat with me in it out into the river.

I felt very unsteady for a few minutes and thought to myself, “This was a mistake!” I wobbled around for a few minutes, absolutely sure that I was going to just end up in the river.

I never used to be afraid of such things. When I was younger and would go canoeing, we had no problems getting wet, splashing each other, laughing at other people falling into the river. I had the distinction of never having tipped a canoe. That was until I proudly bragged about never having tipped a canoe. Then of course, that very same day I did.

It was actually kind of scary. It had rained a lot and the river was kind of rough. There was a downed tree at the edge of the river and we were heading right for it. I held out the oar to stop my head from bashing into the giant root of the tree. The canoe came to a sudden stop and tipped over. My butt hit the riverbed. I had a huge bruise for months. All of our stuff floated down river. A group of canoers sitting on the bank jumped in and managed to get everything, except one sock.

Somewhere out there, is a picture of me all soaked and looking like a drowned rat. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

I digress…

I started using the oars to steady myself. Slowly, I started going up and down the river. In no time at all, I was whizzing by the picnic site yelling, “I’m kayaking! I’m kayaking!”

My sister and her husband just laughed and laughed. I had no idea why.

I was out on the river for about an hour. My arms HURT today. A lot. But I had a blast.  It did not feel like I was out there for an hour. It felt like I was out there for about 15 minutes.

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Later that night, my sister told me why they were laughing so hard. They showed me this clip of Bill Murray from the movie “What About Bob?”

I just cracked up.

I did manage to get one picture of myself and one picture of the front of the kayak to prove that I was in it. My sister sent me this cool picture of turtles to put on the blog. I did see turtles on the river. I had no idea that there were turtles in the Potomac.

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Anyway, I did it! I went kayaking and did one of things my sister and I planned on before the surgery. If nothing else good had happened to me, being able to kayak made it all worth it!

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Blossom Walk Update

This gallery contains 19 photos.

As many of you who follow my blog know, I set some goals for myself this spring. Two of those goals were to walk around the Tidal Basin and to attend the Cherry Blossom Parade. I walked around the Tidal … Continue reading

Something I Have Always Wanted

So, my life has been just super busy recently.  I seem to be doing something every day and nearly every night.  I cannot remember the last time my life was so full.  I just love it.

Friday, a friend of mine from Arizona was in town on business.  I lived in Phoenix from 2000-2004.  I also have a cousin, Dan, who lives there as well.  He’s still there.  I left and moved back to the DC area in 2004 because, let’s face it, I’m an east coast city chick at heart.  Well, Jeff is friends with my cousin and I met him through Dan.

We went to dinner Friday night.  It was so much fun.  Jeff told me he’s not a big dinner out kind of person, and I told him that’s perfect, because I am not a big eater, anymore.  Now, Jeff and I became Facebook friends a while back and we have sort of followed each other’s lives, ups and downs, etc via FB.  He knows all about my surgery and the changes I have made in my life since he last knew me in Phoenix.

We chose to go to Cheesetique since we could just nibble on a cheese platter and not feel pressured to get a big meal that neither of us would eat.  Jeff had never been to a place like this and didn’t know quite how to order a cheese plate.  I totally love Cheesetique because it’s really kind of perfect for me.  I can get little pieces of cheese and small portions of veggies and I love it.  So, he very kindly permitted me to order for both of us.

Truth be told, I’m a take charge kind of girl.  You give me the power to make all of the decision, and I will.  The server came to the table and I very decisively ordered, “Yes, we’ll have te six cheese platter with the brie, the blue cheese, the Swiss, and the pumpkin cheese, and these two meats.  On the side we’ll have olives and the spiced Greek figs.  Thanks!”

Jeff was like, “Well, OK then!”

It was awesome, I have to say.  It was nice to just nibble on our snacks and catch up on old times.

Saturday, a friend of mine from my writer’s group had a picnic at her new house.  She moved to far away Maryland, (really only about 1 1/2 hours from here), and bought a house in the mountains.  Actually, it’s more of a compound as the house has about 4 buildings.  It’s gorgeous!  Here is the view from one of the buildings:

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I know!  Hard life she has, right?

It was a great day.  I am happy that they bought this place and are happy there.  She and her husband have three kids and this place is pretty perfect for them.  They all live in the main house, but the kids can go and have their own private time in one of the other buildings. And my friend has her own little writing house.

Then last night, my former work colleagues had one of their twice yearly meetings/dinners.  The team all works remotely, and they have these meetings to bring everyone together, meet with the client, each other, and just have fun.  Well, they called me and asked me if I would like to meet them after for drinks, which I did.  I haven’t seen them since January.

I still worked with them in January, but in February, I started a new job.  I have changed a lot since then, obviously.  So, I made sure that I got all dolled up and did my hair, make-up, etc. I wanted to look good.

I was meeting them at the Grant Hyatt in Washington.  I walked in, and they were all gathered in the lobby waiting for me and our friend Greg.  Greg gave me a ride as he lives about 2 miles from me.

First, let me start with Mario.  Mario was waiting outside the hotel for a friend of his.  He’s grown a beard since the last time I saw him, and I didn’t recognize him.  He didn’t recognize me either.  The look on his face was priceless.  He was like, “Oh my God, Colleen! You look so different!”  We exchanged hugs, and I went into the hotel.

I saw them in the lobby so I waved to them.  A couple of them looked at me and then looked away.  I kept waving as I walked towards them and then finally someone recognized me.  The oohs and aahs started as each of them in turned hugged me and told me how great I looked. I have to say, it was quite awesome.  They were all so happy for me, which was nice.

We had a great time and hung around in the bar of the hotel until about 1230am.  Just FYI…no alcohol for me.  I did have a cafe Americano and some water.  It was so nice to see everyone again, but I have to say, I am glad that I changed jobs.  I miss the client, I miss my friends, but I am glad that I expanded my horizons and tried something new.

On a side note, I wanted to update my experience with the dating site I signed up for.  A guy who is seemingly, somewhat normal contacted me.  He lives in this area, a bit far out in the boonies for my tastes, but still, in Virginia.  We exchanged emails on the website and he gave me his phone number and asked me to call him.

I called him this am.  He sounds relatively normal.  I gave him my number and are planning to meet one day this week, or maybe next weekend to talk some more.  He asked me what I was looking for in a relationship.  I hate that kind of question, really, but I guess it’s kind of natural when you’re looking for a date.

I really have no preconceived notions of where any of this may take me, and I told him that.  I told him that I am open to whatever possibilities may lie ahead, but I don’t believe in setting false expectations and trying to mold the relationship into something it may not be.  I just said that my goal is to meet someone, talk, get to know them, and just see how things develop.  If it turns into something, great, if not, then, whatever.  These things need to develop organically, in their own time.

He seemed OK with that.

I have to admit, I’m a bit nervous about dating after such a long time not having that kind of relationship.  I’m in no rush.

I did tell him about my weight loss and what I have been doing for the past two years.  I also told him that I have not reached my goal, but I am close.  He was not put off by that at all.

One thing I have noticed recently is that I am not quite as focused on my weight as I used to be.  I mean, I am paying attention to what I eat.  I exercise.  I walk.  I am taking care of myself, definitely.  But I am not quite so focused on the scale so much anymore.  I will definitely continue to try to lose the additional 46 pounds to reach my goal, but it’s not the main focus of my life anymore.

I am living my life.  I am going out and having fun.  I am busy.  I am enjoying my friends and all of the new possibilities this new life has opened up for me.  That is all I have ever really wanted.  If I only measured my weight loss success by that marker, I have already achieved my goal!