Sunday, May 29, 2016

On Being a Failure... Part Two (A weight loss story)

So I wrote Part One of "On Being a Failure" about three months ago, even though I just published it yesterday. 

Because that's another thing I frequently fail at... keeping up with blogging, LOL.

As I left off in Part One, I mentioned a "brain-based diet" or way of eating that has been proved successful by science." The free videos got me all excited. I love brain based stuff. The brain fascinates me. Unfortunately, I found they wanted $1000 to join the club (okay, really $997.00) but still... can you say Red Flag?

[Side Note: I am really tired of these super nice people pretending to be concerned about a very vulnerable population, feeding them hope, promising them love, support, caring, compassion... then hitting them with a $997.00 (or only three easy payments of $333.00!) solution. The interest in this program was insane. Thousands of people signed up, but for ease, let's just say two thousand people signed up. At $1000 a piece, that's two million dollars to the program owner. Run the program a couple times a year... and well, you get the idea. Why does this make me so angry? I am not against making money. Shit, I wish I could think of something as brilliant. I just think that this has a little bit of "preying on the vulnerable" vibe to it. Feeding hope to the obese, the unhappy, the unhealthy, the ones who hate themselves, the ones who desperately need help and would do just about anything. People like me.]

So, we scrapped that idea.  But I took the info from the free videos and applied them loosely to my way of eating. Basically the gist of it is to Plan Everything. If you sit down in the morning and plan exactly what you are going to eat throughout the day, you are taking the stress off your brain to make hundreds of decisions throughout the day about what you're gonna eat. That makes total sense. You're eliminating stuff like:

Brain: Hey Body, what are we gonna eat for breakfast? Eggs and bacon? Cereal? English Muffins with PB&J? Waffles? Protein shake?  Maybe stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Should we make a lunch to bring to work? Maybe someone will ask us to lunch? Or should we make a run to the Taco Bell? Maybe we should grab a Lean Cuisine to microwave. Those candy bars in the vending machine sure look good. What should we have for dinner? Do I need to take anything out of the freezer? Tacos? But what if we go to Taco Bell for lunch? Maybe I'll make hamburgers. But then I have to stop on the way home for buns. Should I make Chicken Teriyaki? Fish? It's gonna be hot today. We should get some FroYo for dessert. Or maybe... 

Dear Brain...
Yeah, shut the hell up, Brain. Plan all your meals and snacks for the day, make (or at least plan) all your lunches for the week, and you won't have this constant dialogue in your head.

You're welcome. Feel free to send me $997.00 for this secret. Leave a comment asking for my paypal address.

I digress. How do I apply this to my life now? I plan a weekly menu, what we are going to have for dinner each day of the week. Believe it or not, it has saved me quite a bit of money at the grocery store because I know exactly what I need for the week, along with the school lunch staples and the rotating breakfast menu.  (And some of you know how much I hate grocery shopping!)

I work from home, so lunches usually consist of the previous night's leftovers. Or I will mentally tell myself at the start of the day, what I will have for lunch. Now I know what to take out of the freezer in the morning, for the nightly meal. (I used to be Queen of "Shit! I forgot to defrost something for dinner, let's go to Noodles and pick something up.")

So how has this helped me to lose weight? The beginning of February is when I started logging all my meals into an app called "MyFitnessPal" which is also linked to other apps like my FitBit and MapMyWalk, to log exercise.  (As of today, I have logged in for 119 days in a row - can I hear a woot!?) Planning my meals has been a huge help in logging my meals. It only takes me a few minutes a day to input the data, especially since the app keeps track of 'frequent' and 'recent' meals. I told the app my goals and it sets an amount of calories per day to stick to, to reach my goals. Great, right? My calorie "bank" is 1470 cal a day. Easy Peasy. Most days I am 200 calories under that without really trying. I don't feel like I am "restricted" or deprived in any way. It's a lifestyle change, I still go out to lunch with friends and a few times a month, out to dinner with my daughter. I make good choices, check the restaurant/calorie menu beforehand and relax and enjoy myself.

It took a couple weeks at the beginning of February for my body to get used to the program. Then I pretty consistently lost a pound a week. For the first time ever, without radical stress dieting, I lost weight with a healthy plan. (Can I get another woot!?)

I lost 12 lbs so far. Don't get me wrong. I am really proud of that. But no one, including me, can tell that I lost anything. Probably because I have at least another 50-60 lbs to go. As far as I can tell, it came off of my boobs and my calves, because my super expensive DDD bras are a little baggy, and I could recently zip up my boots without sweating and swearing.

But this is my Brain in May:

OH MY GOD. We are starving! We have to do everything we can to prevent Body from losing more weight! Prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse! There might be a food shortage! Fat! Don't you dare move off of Ass! Rolls! You stay right there, front and center! Thighs! Stay thick!

Hey Brain...
(Brain is a jerk sometimes.)

Yeah, despite 1200 calories, and walking 1-2 miles a day, I have come to a standstill. I have tweaked my diet, eliminating more stuff, eating out less. My chiro/wellness doc felt sorry for me and divulged his "$1000 secret" to me for free. (What is it with $1000 secrets? Women pay him that much to attend a seminar where he explains the research behind this secret. It is guaranteed to accelerate weight loss to the tune of 4-8 lbs a week. It has worked for countless women, including "the Hollywood stars" he counsels... me? Nada.) I'd tell you the secret, but you'd have to send me $1000 first.

I tried this "secret" for 2 weeks. (It is NOT a pill or supplement, just a tweak in nutrition.) Dr. said I should have lost at least 4-6 lbs. My metabolism should have been on fire. Two weeks is all I could stand. This tweak had me feeling BLAH the first six hours of my day. It did not increase my energy as promised, instead made me drag myself through the day. Plus, it had me eating more of something I was trying to eat less of, although my calorie intake remained the same, it was a big FAIL.

Am I gonna give up? Not on your my life! Because it's MY life we're talking about. This meat-suit has to last a bit longer, I got things to do. My goal is still health, and I know I have a long way to go. I just don't know what the next step is, how to kick Fat off Ass. Sometimes I just feel broken. I don't know if I will ever reach my goals, but quitting isn't an option.

That's one thing I've been successful at, not quitting.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

On Being a Failure... Part One (A Weight Loss Story)

My Greatest Success is Failing. 

Oh, I've failed in a lot of things... but it's never stopped me from trying again. I've failed to live up to the expectations of people. It's not always a bad thing to fail in this way, sometimes it leads you down new, happier paths. I've also failed in that I expect others to live up to my expectations, with the result of always being disappointed.

Japanese Proverb
But let's not get all deep and moody and philosophy-ish. There's plenty of stories about that stuff. I want to talk about every-day-life failure. For me, that would be my failure to lose weight. 

I'm not talking about "I want to look good in a pair of size 8 jeans" type of weight loss. (Although...) 

I'm talking about "If you don't lose weight, there's a bigger chance of cancer recurrence, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, GERD, arthritis, and a host of other diseases caused by obesity" type of weight loss. The serious shit. 

Some failures (like being a wife) make you give up and choose a new path. But this failure, the attempt to lose weight, makes me feel like Thomas Edison when he said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

In the past 30 years I've found about 1000 ways that didn't work. But yet... I can't give up, it's just not in me. I've had so many setbacks and issues, and I've wanted to say "F*ck It" so many times (and sometimes I do... for a week or a month) but I always try, try again. And fail again. 

I can't blame it all on the cancer... I've always been on the "heavy" side during my adult life. After I moved back to Illinois after living in Arizona for 9 years, I had a job that was so stressful, the only way I could breathe was to run. After work every day I would go to the park across the street and run a mile around the track, just to force myself to breathe deeply. Then I could go home. A bonus was my pants started to hang off me and I lost about 30 lbs. I felt good. (My coworkers noticed. My then-husband asked why I needed new clothes.) 

My chronic plantar fasciitis and heel spurs in both feet barely allow me to walk the dog without pain, so I can't run anymore.

I gained it all back when I got pregnant. After the baby 15 years ago, is when I made it into the unhealthy category. (Although is was cool when I dropped 10lbs in about an hour!) Then life for 10 years, then came the cancer. 

Actually, after I was diagnosed and before I started treatment was the first and only time I managed to lose about 10 lbs in about two months, without running. I called it the "Shit I Have Cancer and I'm Really Stressed" diet. When my Endocrinologist saw I had lost weight, she congratulated me and told me to keep doing what I was doing. 


Chemotherapy, stress, steroids, stress, hormone suppressing drugs, stress, menopause = barely holding on for dear life. I recently had a physical exam and blood test, and it came back borderline high for cholesterol and triglycerides. The doctor wanted to put me on Statins right away (I am a drug-resistor. That's another story.) I told her no. I wanted to try to lose weight (again) and see if that made a difference. 

Clearly, I need help. I was a freakin' genius in the "fail-to-do-it-myself" department. Maybe if I could get help from a Nutritionist or Dietitian? My health insurance refuses to pay because I don't have diabetes. Cancer, Hypothyroidism, GERD, High Cholesterol, Food Allergies, and General Obesity are not enough for me to get help. They pay for cancer treatment, Synthroid, acid blockers, and Statins, and even obesity surgery, but not counseling with a Nutritionist. Go figure. 

So I'm on my own. Again. 

I don't believe in cutting out food groups, although I have tried "gluten free" and "wheat-free" diets in the past. The result was "not a bit of difference and not an ounce of weight loss." That failure led to the success in cutting out white flour, rice, and sugar, and as a result, a lot of empty carbs in general. My Radiation Oncologist suggested I cut out ALL carbs for a month, then stick with under 30g of carbs a day. That would probably work, but I would also want to kill myself (and you) in the process. Food allergies don't help... NO raw fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, or soy protein. 

In the past two years I've made a lot of changes, I don't eat processed "boxed" foods anymore, frozen or otherwise. One of the advantages of living on my own, I can make meals that actually have taste. My daughter and I make everything from scratch, from pancakes and waffles, to birthday cakes, to tortillas for our tacos. I buy organic foods whenever possible. I've cut way down on sugar and I don't drink pop/soda anymore. I don't have cookies or sweets laying around. I've cut out chemicals, preservatives, food dyes, etc. 

Three weeks ago, I started counting calories again. (Note: This was actually written the third week of February, so I started counting/logging Feb 1st.) I measure all my food and log everything into an app called "MyFitnessPal" and stay under 1400 calories a day. No results worth mentioning.

In my recent research into healthy eating, I came across an eating "program" based on science and how the brain works. It's not a diet, it's a way to train your brain. I'm a huge nerd when it comes to learning how the brain works, so this really got me excited. 

But I'm going to tell you about it tomorrow, so come back.

"We learn from failure, not from success." Bram Stoker