Saturday, January 10, 2009

New Year's Resolution

Anyone who has seen some of my comments on some of the threads at some of the sites I frequent has probably picked up on the fact that I am overweight. Technically, based on my height and weight and the resulting BMI, I am obese. That's really kind of a hard thing to say... But, there it is. I wasn't always this way - I wasn't as a child, but I was a little pudgy in junior high, but not so much during my high school and college years (I was walking EVERYWHERE..., and I never gained that "freshman fifteen" they talk about). Then, I graduated and got that office job. The pounds slowly added up. I've tried exercising, and doing diets, that hasn't stuck in the past. For a while, I was doing really well, with the Atkins diet and my membership at Curves. Atkins was hard to stick to, especially with the job I had that required lots of travel sometimes. Then, I moved back to Texas, and I had to let my Curves membership expire when I made the decision to go back to school and earn my M.Ed. While I hadn't put on a lot more weight since coming back to Texas, I still put some on. And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of having a hard time finding clothes that fit - the combination of being short (5'2") and overweight makes fielding a decent wardrobe a difficult thing. I'm tired of seeing all these cute clothes that I can't wear. I'm tired of feeling ├╝ber-unattractive to the opposite sex. I'm tired of seeing how I look in the mirror. I'm tired of the fact that it's not so easy as it once was to bend over and tie my shoes (though I still can).

Back around the end of April, I got a job at the same place my sisters work. They didn't take a "lunch". They would eat at their respective desks, then take a break around 3pm to go work out in the fitness center that is provided to employees for free. It's not fancy - 2 treadmills, 1 elliptical, 2 stationary bikes, free weights, exercise balls, and some sort of weight machine, as well as a TV with cable and a sound system of sorts. So, when I started working there, I started going with my sisters for my "lunch hour". I walk on the treadmill. I don't like running, really - never have; I feel COMPLETELY uncoordinated on the elliptical. But, the oldest of my little sisters likes the elliptical, and the youngest one runs on a treadmill. We're all too short for the stationary bikes - even with the seat as far down as it will go, we can't really reach with our feet to pedal. So, most days, we all go together, all lined up on the 2 treadmills and the elliptical. But, I just wasn't making any progress, even though I was getting exercise that I wasn't getting before, and I don't think I was really eating any differently. And, it didn't help when I had a longer-term sub position, and would put in a couple of hours in the office after school for several weeks October/November and wasn't exercising at all. In all honesty, left to my own devices, I likely would have spent my lunch hours reading a book.

Losing weight is something I've wanted - and knew I needed - to do for a while. I'd make what would turn out to be half-hearted or unsustainable efforts and end up where I started, or worse. Then, I found out my sister's boyfriend would be proposing while they had a mini-vacation to Las Vegas mid-December. While he's basically been a part of the family for years, and I am very happy for my sister, that didn't make me feel very good about myself. I don't want to be the fat spinster at my sister's wedding, and I also don't want to look like I do right now in the wedding pictures that will be around forever - I will be one of my sister's bridesmaids. So, with this motivation, I'm sticking to this New Year's Resolution...

I ate the last slice of New Year's day chocolate Dream Pie on Saturday, January 3rd. Sunday, January 4th, marked the real change I've decided to make. On Saturday morning, I stepped on the scale: 228.8 lbs. I also took one of those embarrassing wearing-nothing-but-your-bra-and-panties pictures. No one is going to get to see that: that is strictly for my own use, a visual record of where I started and to gauge how much process progress I make. I also got my mom to help me take measurements, practically from head to toe.

I've been keeping a food diary - hit & miss - since late September. I've managed to keep it daily since December 29th. It's not (necessarily) that I eat tons of crap, although I do admit that I might have been a little too free and easy about picking something up at the drive-thru for convenience sake. But, keeping track of what I'm eating doesn't do a whole lot of good if you've not really got a concept of how many calories that all is, and then again how many calories you're burning daily. Having a dinner of a piece of grilled or baked chicken with beans and rice doesn't sound unhealthy, but if you're in reality eating twice as much as what a serving should be, how are you going to make any progress? I decided I needed one of those little kitchen scales. Off to Target I went, and I found what I was looking for, and on clearance, to boot. Now, I am able to weigh portions, and for items in the scale's database, get instant calorie counts. I went to the grocery store this evening: pieces of chuck steak and pork loin are now individually packages in zip-lock baggie with the calorie count written on the outside with a Sharpie. A can of honey roasted peanuts is broken out into 11 28-gram (170 calories) and 1 31-gram (188 calories) servings .

On Friday, January 2nd, one of my sisters sent me, my other sister and my mom the link to this article at MSN.com. In the article is a link to another article about how many calories a person should eat to lose fat. That second article has a link to a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator: you enter your age, weight, height and sex, and it returns with how many calories (roughly - I realize everyone has a little bit different metabolism) a person burns in a day if completely at rest all day long. Last week, for me, that was about 1766. Then, the article also includes another calculation you can do (using the first number) to determine how many calories you are burning, based on your activity level. With light to moderate activity, I have been burning between 2428-2738 calories daily.

Now, to lose weight, you should be consuming fewer calories than you are burning (DUH!). Since I am so much overweight, I am able to go into a larger calorie deficit to lose weight more quickly in the beginning (normally, you would want to lose about 1 pound/week, or be in a deficit of 500 calories/day, but I can aim for 2 pounds/week, or a deficit of 1000 calories/day, and may initially lose more than this as I'm starting - it would be "water weight and bloat"). I'm reading labels and, using that nutritional scale, I can calculate calories in things like raw chicken and sliced apples, which enables me to make better decisions on how much I should be eating for my desired calorie intake each day. I will need to re-evaluate my calorie usage as I lose weight and/or change my activity level (will I ever be like my sisters and go beyond a moderate level of activity?) - if you cut your calories too much, your body will think it needs to slow its metabolism to conserve energy, and that is counterproductive. As of this morning, I am down 4.4 pounds. I did re-evaluate my BMR this evening - it has dropped to 1746.

I'm not making drastic changes to my routine or diet. I need this to be something I can stick with for the rest of my life - "diet" is a four-letter word; people don't stick to "diets" after they lose the weight - they go back to what they were doing before. I'm not on a diet; I'm making a lifestyle change. I have cut out the sodas - I haven't had one for a week now. I'm drinking home-brewed tea with a little bit of sugar (I'm not a coffee drinker, and lately I've been fixing a 16 ounce hot tea at the office in the morning with 4 sugar cubes (60 calories), and I'll pack a quart-sized Thermos with either Kool-Aid (240 calories per quart) or sweet tea (about 180 calories per quart). A 12 ounce can of soda is about 150 calories... I'm not eating weird stuff - this week, I've had spaghetti and meatballs (a higher calorie choice), chicken on the griddle (seasoned, no oil or butter), and corn tortillas with refried beans. I'm just not going back for seconds. I'm having a glass of water with dinner. You don't know how much I'd love to down a soft drink with a meal, but I think to myself "do you want that, or do you want to lose the weight?" Also, I discovered - when I was looking for something for lunch today - I can have a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle soup and 10 saltine crackers for only 270 calories. That means I was able to "afford" eating a piece of cake at my second cousin's 3rd birthday party this afternoon. So far, the wanting to lose weight is winning out...

As for my exercise routine, while I can't afford some fancy gym membership with access to a personal trainer, I thankfully don't really need one. One of my sisters really should have a job like that. She has given me a list of exercises - some using free weights - to do to work different parts of my body, and a schedule as to when I should do them, in addition to the cardio workouts. I should listen to my sisters - they both look great... Where I need to make improvement is on the weekends. Today, I didn't get up until about 10am, and I was putzing around the house before going to the party, then I ran some errands. Needless to say, I didn't get any real exercise in (walking around Target or HEB doesn't really count...). But, I've kept track of what I ate today, and I've still managed to hit that 1000 calorie deficit target...

I'll be doing weigh-ins weekly (and I bought a new scale that I've been able to program with my information, so it can give me body fat, body muscle and bone mass information, along with body water, so I'll have to kind of compare the weight from the old scale to the new scale tomorrow morning). I'll only be getting help measuring me about once a month - that will take more time to see a difference, I think. I'm not going to turn this into a weight-loss blog site, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to put this out there, and give updates from time to time. I just thought that by sharing, I might also be able to help encourage others who might be dealing with the same issues. I know I felt good about the progress I've made in just one week. One of my sisters asked me what I weighed in at today, and when I told her, she insisted on an exploding fist-bump ;-)

6 comments:

Storm'n Norm'n said...

Quite a read...Good for you!
The writing part is a form of catharsis in itself and sort of sets your goals in something more permanent...unlike an empty promise to yourself. By letting the world know you have made a pact with somebody other than youself...but always remember, "To thy ownself be true!" and you will never fail!
God bless and I wish you all the best...
Will you give us updates...keep a chart...
Oh, and one more thing; get rid of
the scale! The best scale in the world is a mirror! I use it every day...it's amazing how well it works!

ABW said...

Good for you! It's not an easy journey, but one that will be so beneficial in the long run. Just take one day at a time and stay focused on the goal which is a healthier you!

I am off to have my healthy breakfast....

Sarah said...

Good for you for setting a goal and working towards it! Keep us posted.

Cassandra said...

Fantastic! Believe it or not, although I am not presently overweight, I have always had to be careful with what I eat. Both my husband and I have the kind of body that, if we don't watch every bite, we tend to pack on about 20 extra pounds almost right away.

After a lifetime of having trouble with keeping the pounds off, both he and I found something fairly simple that helped us a LOT. I don't know if it will help you, but I'll pass it on just in case. We both have drastically limited bread, potatoes, sugar, rice... basically we eat meat and vegetables and fruit but try to stay away from fruit juices or anything with a lot of empty calories in it. Diet sodas are another thing you wouldn't think would cause you to gain weight. I don't understand why they do, but I don't think your body understands the difference between artificial sweeteners and real sugar. I have the world's biggest sweet tooth. I crave chocolate and any kind of sweets, but I've found if I can gradually reduce or eliminate sweets from my diet, I no longer enjoy them and I have no trouble keeping the pounds off, even if I eat things like steak and gravy that have lots of calories.

I'm also not sure this stuff works exactly the same for everyone, so don't be afraid to experiment and keep records of what works best for *you*.

Keep us posted - I will be checking in to see how you are doing. I am so happy to see you doing this. In fact, you've inspired me to get my lazy self back in shape :)

Some Soldier's Mom said...

good for you!! it might help if you remind yourself that for every ounce and pound you lose, you add minutes, days, weeks & years to your life!

remember: today I will do what I can do today. yesterday is just that and tomorrow is a new day (and you didn't gain it in a day, so you won't lose it in a day either!)

will say prayers to give you resolve and strength!

Miss Ladybug said...

Thank you all for the comments and encouragement...

Norman, I won't be getting rid of the scale. I'm not going to obsess about it, but right now, it's hard to tell by looking in the mirror, and this one provides other helpful information besides just how much I weigh.

The health aspects are another reason for this. Years ago, when I was in college, my aunt talked to me about her being overweight. She said something about basically carrying around two of her. We lost her to brain cancer on New Year's Day 2007. She was the first one of my aunts and uncles to pass away - she was far to young. My mom is the oldest of her siblings, and she is only 61. I can't help but wonder if things might have been different for my mom's only sister had she been able to get a handle on her weight long before the cancer...

I do have a sweet tooth. I know if I try cutting out sweets completely (at least at this point), it would be counterproductive, as I could get to the point of bingeing on sweets. I really think my biggest issues have been eating larger portions than I should, and those times (which have come and gone) when I have been eating too much fast food. Just paying attention to portion, I think will make a big difference.

When I got up this morning, before going out for a walk (about 2.5 miles, according to the pedometer that came in the box of my new scale), I had an apple, then when I got home, I fixed some lunch - one of those steaks I picked up yesterday and a couple of sides. Now, I just have to decide what to have for dinner. And since I already got some exercise in, I know what I have to deal with - I won't be scrambling to find something to eat that won't interfere with the target I am for each day... One week down, many more to go...