Tag Archives: inspiration

A Strange New World

I sat on my couch in the morning on Friday, January 20, 2017 to watch the peaceful transfer of power that our country is known for. It is one of the things that makes our country great. We can disagree and fight during election season and even after, but on Inauguration day, one man, one party hands over the reigns to another, relinquishing his power and the keys to the kingdom, so to speak.

This is something we usually celebrate. This year was different. I did not see anything to celebrate as Obama transferred his role to a mean-spirited man who campaigned on division, hatred, and fear. I sat there as his supporters booed his opponent, former First Lady and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. And I listened as they cheered him and his American Carnage speech. There were protesters and violence. It was very disheartening.

I so wanted to attend the Women’s March the next day. I needed to feel something positive and a connection to other people who were also as angry, sad, and frustrated as I was. I was unable to attend Obama’s inauguration in 2009. I weighed 300 pounds and could barely walk. In 2013, I had just had surgery. I had lost a lot of weight and was sure I could do the walking, but I was trying not to push myself too hard as I was still recovering. I was looking forward to attending for Hillary, but alas, that was not to be.

Family and friends were concerned for my safety this year after watching the violence that took place on Trump’s Inauguration Day. I was also scheduled to work the mid-day into evening shift. I asked for the day off, but my boss was unable to grant the request. That only made my mood worse.

Then suddenly, something changed. Towards the end of the day, my supervisor came up to me and told me to call in the am and if it was slow, I could “come in late.” She left it sort of open-ended.

I went home and made my plans. My mom called and told me to “be safe.” My sisters cheered, as they were in California and could to make it. I had no idea what to expect. I read a lot of the “How to be safe at a protest rally” articles that had been floating around internet. Take one bag. Take food. Take an extra phone charger. Take something to wrap around your face in case of tear gas.

I was anxious, but excited.

I woke up early Saturday morning. I think I had four hours of sleep. I had everything all laid out. I got ready and made my way to the parking garage in my building. My plan was to drive to the metro and take the train into the city. In the parking garage, was another woman getting into her car with her friends.

“Are you going?” she asked.

“Of course!” And we both raised our fists in the air in celebration.

Already, this day felt different.

I arrived at the metro station at 730am and already the lot was full. That should have been a clue to what I was about to face, but the station has a small lot, so I didn’t think anything of it. I parked at the hotel across the street and ran across the street.

To say the station was packed is an understatement. There was probably a 30 minute line to fill or buy a fare card. Fortunately, I have one that I keep full from my days of commuting into the city. So, I got in the line for the turn-style to get into the  station.

I knew where I wanted to go. A friend had been messaging me telling her to meet her and her friends. And that was certainly my plan. I waited for the second train, as the first was stuffed to the gills. I entered the train holding my Starbucks coffee and my fare card in my hand. I had my purse slung across my body so that I would not have to worry about that swinging around.

My face was maybe two inches from the woman standing in front of me.

“I know you!” She said to me. She did look familiar, but I wasn’t sure if it was because I had actually met her somewhere or of she just had that look of someone I know but cannot place.

“You do? My name’s Colleen. What’s yours?”

“Danni. Are you a Geek?” Now that is an odd question to ask someone. Or it would be if I hadn’t almost immediately known what she meant. “I mean are you in the NOVA Geek Group on Meetup?”

“No, but I went to Sarah’s Jewish Christmas! You were there!”

(A quick note here…I worked all the way up to midnight on Christmas Eve and was unable to make plans to go out-of-town to see family and the family that lives here went to Disney for Christmas, so one of my friends from my writer’s group invited me to Chinese food and a movie with her friends for Christmas.)

“Yes!”

Danni, and her friends allowed me to tag along with them since once we arrived in the city it was clear there was probably no way I was going to be able to find my friends. I called work as soon as we got there. Which is a good thing, since I very quickly lost all cell service.

I could not to get over the number of people. We could barely move once we got close, to where the rally was, which was not very close at all. I spent the whole day near the Air & Space Museum, actually about a block and a half across the street. We could not even get close to Independence Avenue. Occasionally, we could see the jumbotrons or hear the speeches. But mostly, we just walked around and talked to people. It was great to feel a sense of solidarity with women. At the time, we had only an inkling of what we were a part of.

The DC police were so nice. It was almost as if they were in solidarity with us. They were directing people, answer questions, keeping an eye on families with children. So many women brought their daughters, sons, husbands, babies.

At one point, I lost Sarah’s friends. The one girl was pregnant and was racing around looking for a bathroom, of which there were very, very few. We were crossing a street that was packed with people when a sea of people going in the other direction cut me off from them. I knew where they were going and walked in that direction to no avail. So, I used my solitary status to push my way as close to Independence as I could get. I saw a corner of the screens sometimes, but at least here I could hear the speeches.

People were getting anxious and wanted to march. The chant, “MARCH! MARCH! MARCH!” came and went several times. At that point, it was announced that the streets were too chock-full of people to march and the route they received the permit for was blocked. We knew it was crazy-crowded, but still, we had no idea what the rest of the world was seeing on TV. Or what was going on in other cities. At one point, someone did say that women were protesting in Antarctica. I didn’t know there were people in Antartica, let alone protesters!

I did get to do some marching and chanting, but at that point, I made the decision to leave. I still had to get to work and I knew the metro was going to be crazy. If there was to be no marching, people would start to leave and I would never get out.

At one point during the protest, I started receiving random texts that had been delayed getting to me. I received one from my sister-in-law who told me my niece wanted to come to the city, but her parents told her, “no we cannot go today because of the protests.” We regularly take her to DC to the museums and monuments. When she was told about the protests, she expressed her displeasure with Trump and made her own sign!

 

I had heard Mr. Trump many times during his campaign say that he was leading a movement. That people didn’t understand what was going on. I agree that he did tap into an anger and frustration that working people in this country have had for the last 30 years as real wages have stagnated and labor has lost a lot of its political clout. I’m not sure I would call it a movement. All he has to do is not deliver on bringing jobs and higher wages to his supporters, and they will turn on him.

When I got home and was actually able to watch the news, I was astonished. I knew it was a lot of people, but I had no idea. There have been estimates that 2.6 million-2.9 million people protested nationwide and maybe as many as 11 million worldwide.

I suddenly stopped feeling bad I was unable to march through the city with the rest of the crowd. Just showing up, I decided, was enough. Adding myself to the numbers that made it impossible to march was just as important. I stood with my fellow Americans in solidarity supporting our values. And that, after all, was part of the point. It was also to send the message that although we may not be in power, we are not powerless. We are here, we are many, and we are not going away.

Trump’s election denied us celebrating the first woman president. We have denied him our silent acquiesces to his negative agenda.

That, Mr. Trump, is a movement.

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The Challenges Of WLS – Keeping Inspired & Staying Focused Pt. 2

As promised, here is Part 2 of The Challengers of WLS – Keeping Inspired & Staying Focused.

illusion

This is the post where I discuss what helps me stay inspired  and keeps me focused on staying the course.

First, I want to say that this past year has been absolutely amazing.  The changes that have happened to my body, my health, and my life have been many.  People think losing weight through bariatric surgery is the easy way out.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and yet at the same time, it has sometimes been easy.

I have really ridden the emotional roller coaster from the moment I started this journey.  I had a lot ups and downs.  I dealt with a lot of very strong emotions before I had the surgery, and many of them were amplified after the surgery.  It was a difficult decision for me decide to have surgery.  I resisted it for many years even though friends suggested it and family begged me to consider it.  Once I made the decision to have surgery, I had no idea what I was in for.  I knew that through the surgery, I would lose a lot of weight, but I had no idea where the journey would take me, and the emotional ups and downs I would experience. This has been a hell of a journey, and although I’m not done yet, I have no regrets.

That said, how do I stay focused and keep inspired?  Here are some of the things that have inspired me over the last year. The first part of the list will be the people who have supported and inspired me over the past year.  They say when you face adversity, you really learn who your friends are, and I believe that is true.  The second part of this list will be the changes I have made and other things in my life that keeps me inspired.

  • My niece – I have to put this at the top of my list since she is, in part, the reason I wanted to take steps to drastically improve my life.  I have written in the past about how I have wanted to improve my health so that I could keep up with her and be there to watch her grow up and experience life.  That little girl has changed our entire family, not just my life.  She’s the first child that any of us had.  She is our next generation, the future of our family.  She turned this motley collection of adults into a family the day she was born.  She loves the new Auntie Colleen.  In fact, I don’t think she even remembers the old, pre-surgery Auntie Colleen. We go to museums together and hang out all of the time.  I love experiencing the world through her eyes. It’s like living life for the first time.  To think that I would miss watching her grow into a child, teenager, young woman because of my addiction to food broke my heart.
  • My sister Sandy– I have the greatest sisters.  I really do.  My sister Sandy lives about 20 miles from me.  She has been the greatest inspiration.  She changed her own life by changing the decisions that she was making.  She has her own incredible story.  But she also helped me change mine.  She confronted me about my health and my weight and begged me to do something.  Once I made the decision to have the surgery, she stood by me 100%.  She helped me with the many Dr. appointments. I stayed with her for a month after the surgery.  She bought me new clothes after I lost 100 pounds.  She writes my new weight and total weight loss on the wipe-erase board on her refrigerator.  She’s amazing.
  • My sister Jenny – Jenny is an incredible young woman.  I have seen her take terrible situations in her own life and completely turn it around.  She is another woman who has an incredible story of triumph over adversity.  But she has also been there cheering me on through mine.  When I tried out for The Biggest Loser show on TV, she drove to Richmond, VA with me and sat out all night on the sidewalk waiting for me to have an interview for the show.  She could not be here physically the way Sandy was because Jenny lives in Minnesota, but she texted me words of inspiration. We had many tearful phone calls as she talked me through some pretty difficult times.  She reads my blog all of the time, comments, sends me emails.  I know she reads my posts to her husband, (Hi Dean!!).  They are both wonderfully supportive.  She even cut, styled, and colored my hair for me for free.  I couldn’t have done all of this without her.
  • My brother & his wife – They have been so supportive of everything I have done.  While everyone else was cheering my decision to have the surgery early on, my brother was the voice of reason.  He expressed his concerns about the surgery and asked me some very difficult questions, making sure that I had truly considered all of the consequences of the surgery.  He was definitely worried.  He wanted me to improve my health, yes, but he also knew that this surgery can have complications. He was worried.  His wife was wonderful as well.  She helped me get a Baby Bullet so that I could puree my food.  She cheered me on and celebrated all of my changes with me.  And she’s always included me on every celebration with her own family.
  • My mom – My mom was so happy when I decided to have the surgery.  She was one of the people who had been asking me for years to consider wls.  She came here for my surgery and has celebrated all of my successes.  She also helps me keep things real when she thinks I might be falling off the wagon.  She knows how sick I was and does not want me to go backwards.
  • My friends – I really do have the greatest friends.  My best friend Jerry came to stay with me for a week a month after my surgery.  He helped me get my apartment set up after the surgery so that I wouldn’t have to exert too much energy to live my daily life while I healed.  He’s also been one of my biggest emotional supporters through this whole thing.  My friend Sushmita has also been a source of inspiration.  I have never met a more positive, energetic, happy person.  She inspires me.  My friends Lisa, Vicky, Jennifer, Joanna, & Lauren (hello my RHLS friends!) have also been hugely supportive; reading my blog; listening to me tell my weight loss stories; celebrating my successes; telling me how great I look, which I can never hear enough.
  • The Arlington Writer’s Group – Some of the people I mentioned above are members of the AWG, but I still have to make a special mention of this group of people.  The group has a whole has been supportive and celebrated my decision.  The day of my surgery last year, they had a writing session dedicated just to me.  They took words that described me and used them as inspirations for a writing exercise.  Then they mailed me the stories to read while I recuperated.  They have all also cheered on my successes.  Every week, they tell me how great I look; ask how much I have lost; given me exercise suggestions; the list of the support I have received from them is endless. I am so lucky to have them in my life.
  • My former & current co-workers – The day of my surgery, all of my co-workers at the time called all day to check up on me.  They came to see me while I recuperated.  They really cheered me on.  When I saw my former co-workers a few weeks ago, they all cheered on how well I have done.  My current co-workers also congratulate me on all of my success.  When I show them pictures of what I looked like before the surgery, they cannot believe it.  They all also comment on the weight I have lost since I started working there.

Those are many of the people in my life who keep me inspired focused.  Here are the other abstract things that keep me inspired and focused.

  • Pictures of myself – I can really see the difference in the before Colleen and the after Colleen.  I have never been able to see that in previous weight loss journeys.  I think that is pretty remarkable especially since the weight has come off relatively quickly. That is a huge change from my previous attempts to lose weight.
  • My breathing – I can breathe!  I have struggled with asthma since I put on so much weight.  I really had difficulty walking and moving because of that asthma.  That has mostly cleared up.  I know I still struggle a little with asthma, but it’s nothing like it was before.
  • Back pain – My back pain is nearly gone.  I could barely stand or walk because of back pain before the surgery.  Now, this does not bother me very much at all.  It’s still there a little bit, but it does not prevent me from doing what I want.
  • Walking – I can walk!  I can walk for miles and miles if I want.  Before I could barely make it a block before I had to stop and rest my back and catch my breath.  I do not have to stop for that anymore. Whenever I feel frustrated with my weight loss, I just talk a walk and revel in the fact that I can do it so effortlessly.
  • Clothes – I know this is shallow, but still, it is important.  I look good in clothes for the first time in a very long time.  I love that.
  • Cheese – I can each cheese again!  OK, I know this is a crazy thing to include, but it’s important to me.  I was allergic to milk and cheese for a very long time.  Some time shortly after the surgery, I started including milk products into my diet in an attempt to try to get some protein.  My allergies have apparently gone away for the most part.  That alone makes the changes I’ve made worth it.
  • Attention/Being Visible – OK, I admit it, I’m an attention seeker.  I have written posts in the past about the invisibility that comes along with being obese.  This is very isolating and lonely.  Now people see me.  I see men looking at me, which is  crazy to me.  Before men did not really talk to me much.  Now random men strike up a conversation with me.  One gentleman a few weeks ago talked to me in Starbucks for almost an hour continually looking for reasons to interrupt my writing and ask me questions.  Then later when he saw me in Trader Joe’s, he came running up to say, “Hey! I just saw you in Starbucks!”  And the whole online dating thing has been interesting as well.  So many of the men tell me how pretty I am.  I’ve never really had that much in the past, certainly not while I was obese.  Even if I never actually meet a man that way, but having the ones who see my picture tell me how pretty I am is a huge ego boost.
  • How incredible my life has become – I know this sounds vain, but it really has.  I am having so much fun.  My life has become so busy that I can barely keep up.  I am out all of the time.  Yesterday, I did some campaigning for the guy running for governor here in VA. Then I went to a political rally where Hillary Clinton (omfg!) was speaking. Then I went to my friend’s art gallery where I was one of the people speaking.  Every weekend is like that now. OK, maybe every weekend I don’t go see extremely famous politicos, but I am always out and about doing stuff.  I barely have time to clean my apartment and do laundry; or write in this blog.

OK this post is getting very long.  But I think you get the point.  My life has changed in incredible ways.  I have wonderful people in my life.  Nothing is better than seeing the joy in their eyes when they see how well I am doing.  I am doing incredible things with my life.  Even the simplest tasks that took so much effort before are a joy and inspiration.

I never want to be the girl who could not walk and breathe again.  I never want to look in the mirror and see the 300 pound person that I was staring back at me.   I never want to look in the eyes of the people who I love and who have supported me only to see their disappointment reflected back to me because I went backwards and gained the weight back.

I want to make the people around me happy.  I want to see my niece grow into a beautiful woman.  I want to be an inspiration for her to emulate.  I want to live each day to the fullest. I want to be open to whatever good things life has in store for me, for however much time I have left in this world.  I want to make it difficult for death to find take me from this world.  I will not go quietly from this life.  I want to spend the rest of my days raging against the dying of the light.

The fact that I see that as a possibility now, is the biggest inspiration of all.

The Challenges Of WLS – Keeping Inspired & Staying Focused Pt. 1

Someone asked me recently how I stay motivated and focused and asked that I write a post about it.  This has turned into quite a long post, so I am breaking it up into two parts.  This first part, I am going to write about some of the challenges and difficulties I have faced over the past year.

scale

I have to admit that staying motivated and focused is not easy, even with the surgery helping me out.  In some ways, my weight loss journey has been very easy.  Because I cannot eat a lot, thanks the gastric by-pass surgery, the pounds have come off seemingly effortlessly.  I cannot say completely effortlessly, because this whole process has had its own difficulties, but for the most part, losing the pounds, for the first time in my life, has been simple.  Granted, since March, the weight loss has slowed down to a snail’s pace, and I have to be more vigilant than ever, but it’s still coming off.

Nonetheless, I have had some real struggles that are sometimes difficult to deal with.  Some of them were kind of unexpected, some of them the surgeon’s office prepared me for.  All of them have had their toll on my progress in one way or another.

  • Dumping Syndrome – DS comes in many forms.  One of the forms I have struggled with is instant diarrhea.  I eat something my body cannot handle, and I cannot get to the bathroom quickly enough.  I have had a few really embarrassing events.  One, I was on a road trip and bought chicken wings at a gas station (I know you don’t have to tell me!) and I had to pull over a few exits later in hopes that I would make it to the bathroom in time.  I was not quite in the bathroom inside the McDonald’s when it started.  Fortunately, it wasn’t so bad that it was immediately noticeable to those around me and the bathroom was empty, thank goodness.  Took forever to clean myself up though.  And it was, of course, very humiliating.
  • Constipation – It’s not so bad anymore.  There were a few months early on where I felt that I had it 3-4 times a week, but it’s much better now. Whenever I am overly stressed, it does return.  It is very painful and can take a couple of days to clear up no matter how much medication I take.
  • Pain – The first six months after the surgery were difficult as far as pain goes.  Since then, I often have to deal with pain when I’m constipated.  Sometimes, I experience stomach pain after I eat, but not often.
  • Re-learning how to eat – I have drastically changed my diet.  High protein foods and vegetables.  Some of the changes have been very good – I can now have milk products and tomatoes.  Others have been difficult.  No junk foods, fried foods, and little to no bread.  Eating three meals a day and two – three snacks per day is new as well.  I have had to eat even when I’m not really hungry, just to stay on schedule.  With the small stomach, that is much harder than it used to be pre-surgery.
  • Discovering I still have compulsive eating issues – It is true.  I do.  I fight against them every day.  I still crave all the wrong things.  Not all of the time, mind you, but sometimes the urge to over indulge is there.  Of course, when I have over indulged, there have been consequences.  (See dumping syndrome)
  • Nausea – Yeah I get that sometimes.  It happened the other night when I was on the bus home.  I started feeling hot and sweaty and thought I was going to hurl right there on the bus.  I didn’t fortunately, but to be safe, I got off a stop early and sat at the bus station for a minute until I felt better and then I walked up the hill to my place.  I don’t know why this happens, but it does sometimes.
  • Excess skin – Yes, I have some.  I don’t like it, but it’s there.  It is unattractive and I do what I can to cover it up.  That said, however, I would rather deal with excess skin than 127 pounds of excess fat.  So, as unpleasant as it is, I’ll take it.
  • Fluctuating appetite – I don’t always feel hungry and I have sometimes had to force myself to eat or take my protein supplements (either drinking or yogurt) when I was not really hungry.  The doctor put me on a plan – breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner – and they want me to follow it whether I’m hungry or not.  When I do get hungry, and I skip any part of the plan, I feel it.  In addition to tummy hunger, I feel dizzy and out of sorts.  It can really be awful.
  • Return of my appetite and feeling hungry – Yes, I can feel hunger.  Some people I know who have had the surgery have never had their hunger return.  Mine has.  It’s not the same as it was before the surgery, but it is there.  I do not feel absolutely ravenous, but I do start to feel hungry at meal times, the times I’ve trained my body to expect some nutrients.  I worry about this.  I am afraid that feeling hungry will cause me to make bad food choices, and I have a couple of times. I have paid for those choices, which helps keep me on track.  So, I have to stay ever vigilant that I make the right food choices.
  • Slow weight loss – I would say that since about March, my weight loss has slowed down to a snail’s pace compared to what it was the first 6 months post surgery.  It has been daunting to remain positive and hopeful when I’m losing 1-2 pounds every couple of weeks or even months instead of 3-5 pounds a week.  I lost 80 pounds just in the first 4 months after the surgery.  I have been tracking my weight loss on My Fitness Pal, and according to them, I have lost 67 pounds since January and 40 pounds since March.  That’s pretty good progress in anyone’s book.  So, while the weight loss has been slow, it has also been steadily moving down.  You know what they say, slow and steady wins the race!
  • Hair Loss – One of the side effects of bariatric surgery is hair loss due to lack of protein and mal-absorption of nutrients.  My hair loss started in March or April.  It freaked me out.  I immediately started increasing my protein intake, using biotin shampoo and conditioner, putting a biotin cream on my hair at night.  I increased my vitamins.  I was determined not to lose all of my hair.  I did lose a lot.  I did not develop any bald spots, thankfully, but people who know me noticed how thin my hair was getting.  It is growing back.  Every time I go to the hair dresser for a trim, they show me my “new growth” underneath all of my old hair.  So, there is some good news.  But I did fret quite a bit every time I combed my hair and pulled out handfuls of hair.
  • Dealing with people who do not understand – I don’t run into this often, but some of the people who are least understanding, are some of the people closest to me.  This has really surprised me.  I do not eat a lot with each meal or snack, but I sometimes feel that I eat constantly.  This is by design, I think, to make sure I get enough nutrients, train me to eat healthily, and to keep my blood sugar stable so that I don’t get cravings or the urge to overeat.  Some people think constantly eating small meals and snacks is a problem.  I get a lot of “Are you eating again?” like there’s something wrong with it.  I know they think they are helping because they fear that I will revert to my old patterns, but it’s very frustrating and kind of hurts my feelings.  I am trying really, really hard to change my life.  And this kind of judgmental comment makes me feel that they do not see how far I have come.  Part of me tries to understand, but part of me also wants to say, “Yes, I’m eating again.  I’m doing exactly what the doctor told me to do.  Following this plan, I have lost 127 pounds.  So, in the words of the inimitable Kathy Griffin, ‘Suck it!'”

These are the most pressing problems I think I have faced over this last year.  It can sometimes feel daunting.  Sometimes stressful.  Sometimes discouraging.  How do I stay focused and remain positive?  How do I stay inspired?

Stay tuned for part two of this post and I will tell you!

Everybody Has One

bypass

An opinion about your diet or weight loss that is.  I have found that people are always willing to give your their opinion about how you are losing weight, what you eat, if you’re losing weight fast enough, too fast, exercising or no, exercising too much, you should do this, you cannot do that, always do this, never do that, etc. etc. etc.

Often, that advice is contrary to what your doctor has told you told and can be wildly different from what he/she thinks you should be doing.  More often than not, the advice is kindly meant by people who care about you.  Sometimes, the advice is given by people who just like to hear themselves talk or think they know everything about dieting.  Sometimes the advice hurts your feelings or feels overly judgmental.

It can be very overwhelming.

Everybody has an opinion about dieting because, let’s face it, almost everybody diets.  Each person is different and a diet technique that works for one person may not work for the next.

I like to think that most diet advice is well meant by well meaning people.  They may not know a thing about what works for you, or what you have discussed with your doctor or personal trainer, if you have one.  But I think most of the time, people mean well.  There are people who shell out advice or judgments in a hurtful way because it makes them feel superior and therefore better about themselves, but they are not really worth giving any value to, are they?  No, I didn’t think so.

So here’s my advice for dealing with diet advice, critiques, judgments from other people.  This is pretty much for anyone who is trying to lose weight, but it’s especially helpful to any bariatric patients out there.

  • Ignore most diet advice you receive.  Some of the advice may actually be pretty good, but most of it may not really work for you.  If what you are doing works, stick with it.  If not, then it’s OK to seek outside opinions, but I would start by talking to your doctor, then maybe your dietitian and/or personal trainer to make sure you are following a safe, healthy plan.  Your best friend’s older sister’s cousin’s friend may have told you about the perfect “cleanse” where he/she lost 15 pounds in 3 days, but that plan may not really be the best solution to your problem.  In fact, just don’t do that.  Those “cleanses” are pretty crazy.
  • Always consult with your doctor/dietitian/personal trainer.   The most important part about losing weight is to do it in a healthy manner so that you never gain it back.  Doing crazy fad diets, cleanses, pills, powders, unrealistically aggressive exercise plans will all backfire in the end.  You may lose that 15 pounds in three days, but as soon as you start eating the way you were before, stop exercising, etc., you will gain all that weight back and then some.  Nobody wants that.
  • Be honest with yourself.  I cannot stress that enough.  You know when you’re following your plan and when you’re not.  If you hit a plateau and you stop losing, or god forbid, start gaining again, take a look at what you’re doing.  Honestly assess your diet plan.  Write down what you eat, drink, and how much you exercise each day.  You will get nowhere if you’re not honest with yourself about what you are doing.
  • Set achievable goals.  Setting unrealistic goals only sets you up for failure.  If you set smaller goals and you exceed them, you feel better about what you are doing and it makes weight loss and better health seem possible.  You’ll get there in the end, one small step at a time.
  • Mix it up occasionally.  Let’s face it, diet’s are boring.  And boredom is the death knell to any diet.  Feel free to try new healthy foods, new exercises to break up your routine a bit.  Doing so could be a new jump-start in the right direction for your diet.  It also keeps your plan fresh.  If you’ve been riding the exercise bike for cardio, try swimming.  If you’re eating nothing but bananas and yogurt for breakfast, try a melon salad and scrambled eggs with spinach.  If you like spicy food, add a little more flavor to your baked chicken.  Try Thai spices or Indian curry powder.  There are a lot of low fat, low calorie ways to add more flavor to your meals.  That will also help you feel more satisfied and less bored with what you’re eating.
  • Listen to your body.  You know your body better than anyone.  If you’re having problems such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach aches, sore muscles, not losing weight, getting dizzy, or feeling off balance take another look at what you’re doing.  You could be eating too much cheese, pushing yourself too far, not pushing yourself far enough, not getting enough protein, vitamins and nutrients, or enough water…any number of things.  Again, keep a journal of what you’re eating, what you’re drinking, and how much exercise you do.  If you cannot figure out what the problem is, take the list to your doctor or nutritionist and explain the problems you’re having.  They may have ideas and suggestions to help you out.
  • Don’t let the turkeys get you down.  My mom has this saying that goes something like this, “You’ll never learn to soar like an eagle as long as you’re hanging out with turkeys.”  I’m not suggesting that anyone abandon their old friends and find new ones, (although really, sometimes that’s what you need to do), but instead maybe give less credence to people who are not supporting what you’re doing.  If they are not supportive, don’t talk to them about your weight loss progress.  If they invite you over for lunch and serve fried foods or chips and pizza, maybe next time, offer to go to a movie with them instead.  If they constantly criticize your progress, or what they perceive as your lack of progress, just ignore their comments and talk about something else.  But really, if they are insulting you, what kind of a friend are they, really?  Maybe you do need to find new friends…or at least join a group of like minded people who are supporting one another through this process.  A support group, a friend to go the gym or share diet notes with.  Spend less time with people who make you feel bad about yourself.  (Oh, and don’t tell my mom I implied that she’s right.  I can’t have her knowing that.  We’ll just keep this between us, OK?)
  • Never give up.  I think this is the most important item on this list.  Losing weight, dieting, exercising, and getting healthier is a constant battle.  It’s easy to let minor set-backs get you down.  And it’s hard to stay focused and committed when you’re down.  Everyone messes up.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone gets discouraged.  You are not a unique snowflake in this arena.  If you’re feeling alone, reach out to someone else for support.  I like to think that I can do everything myself, but even I sometimes need to phone a friend.  If you give up, you will never know what you’re capable of achieving.  As the saying goes, get up, dust yourself off, and start all over again!

Have a great weekend and remember, never give up!