Meanwhile, Back on the Farm, It’s Still a Long Long Row to Hoe…

Well, I bought the scale, but I haven’t had the nerve to weigh myself yet. Had the scale less than a week, so I’m working up the courage, I guess you can say.

I’ve been pretty good. There was one day a couple weeks ago when I went off the program to try a new restaurant. I logged the calories like always. My daily calorie average, even with my little “excursion,” is still under 1500.  Lately I keep thinking that I’m gaining weight. I don’t know if it’s just some panicked reaction to eating off my program (OMG, I had BREAD!) Maybe it’s just fear of “going rogue” because I have “naughty food” in the house: I actually have croissants AND muffins! Bad, bad foods!  I think I’ve had 2 croissants and one muffin since I bought them more than 2 weeks ago. When I ate them, I added in the calories, so even though they aren’t the best choices, I included them in my calorie count, so I didn’t go over my limit on any of those days.

I just keep looking at my legs and thinking I’ve gained weight. I don’t see how I could have, since I’m under 1500 calories a day. I know I don’t exercise much, but even then I should be losing weight. I don’t think I can take the calorie count any lower without risking my metabolism shutting down. I did a little walking the other day and it really hurt my knees, but I’m going to keep walking. I need the exercise and I need to walk, be more mobile.

Sooner or later I’m going to have to weigh myself and get the hard cold numbers. I don’t know what I’m going to do if the scale shows I’ve stopped losing weight, or gained. I guess I’ll have to cross that bridge if it happens. I guess I’m tired of waiting to lose weight. I’m tired of being patient, eating the right foods, of having to cook my foods instead of just getting something prepared. I miss eating the way I used to: getting fast food, eating what I have in the house that’s ready to eat like muffins and croissants.  I miss eating the foods I used to eat, like the muffins and croissants and the Hershey bars I’ve still got in the house. I am tired of being good.

I keep telling myself that I’m doing this to be healthy and feel better. I do feel better.  I’m wearing smaller clothes and getting lots of compliments. I know this takes time. I know that for other people losing 51 lbs in a little less than three months is a big deal. I’m down 74 lbs from my highest weight and I’m not dismissing that. Either of those losses is a big deal. My doctor was thrilled with the 51 lbs. I’m proud of it. It’s just tha for “normal” people they’d have reached their goal weight already. They’d be looking at maintaining their weight instead of losing. There would be a little more leeway in their diet, meaning more grain products in their diet, maybe pasta once a week, or a sandwich or a muffin. For me, it still means watching my calories like a hawk: the more exercise the better, the fewer calories the better. I knew it was going to be a long haul when I started this trip. You don’t get fat overnight and you don’t lose the weight overnight. It’s a lot easier gaining the weight than it is losing it.  (It’s a lot more fun, too, eating whatever you wanted to, as much as you wanted to.)

So I’m here in the middle of this process, slogging along, counting calories, trying to get as much exercise as I can and reminding myself how beneficial this is for me. I guess one of the things that bothers e is listening to other dieters complain about how tired they are of counting calories when they have only 20 or 30 pounds to lose. I know that’s a lot for some people and I don’t mean to make light of their problem, but somehow comparing 30 lbs to 244 lbs seems a little ridiculous! It’s the difference between pudgy and super obese. It’s the difference between a few months and a long long way to go. Carry on, everyone!

The Paleo Program

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I’ve tried a lot of different diets.  I’ve tried South Beach, Nutrisystem, counting calories, high protein, Weight Watchers, etc. I lost weight with almost all of them, some more weight than others, and it all came back.

One of the reasons I gained it back was because I was still thinking of diets as a “temporary” thing. This was a practice I was doing “just until I got down some pounds,” then I could go back to my “normal” eating habits.

Another reason I think these diets didn’t work for me was that they were “artificial” eating routines. I was doing things counting points, counting calories, reading labels or eating pre-made food out of a box. After I reached my goal weight, I was supposed to “transition” to normal healthy eating habits. The only things that were really teaching me anything were reading labels and counting calories. I’m not knocking those diets. I lost weight on them, but truthfully, I got really tired of color coded diet food and am I supposed to count points forever?

I know there’s not a lot of difference between counting points and counting calories, but reading labels and counting calories I learned to be more aware of what I was eating. Paying attention to calories and what was in the food I was buying taught me that there are some things I really didn’t want to eat (trans fat) or just too many calories for the couple of bites it took to eat them. It taught me some healthier habits, but bottom line: in order to lose weight, I needed to change the way I eat. Permanently.

After watching a few episodes of TLC’s My 600 lb Life, I decided on the Paleo diet. Really, it is the Paleo Lifestyle. The philosophy, in a nutshell, is that humans have not evolved since Paleolithic Man, and so we should eat what they eat. They were hunters & gatherers, not growers, so that means I had to change what I eat. The biggest and hardest change: NO GRAINS! I was practically in shock. The other foods on the not Paleo list: no refined sugar, no legumes, no chocolate, no potatoes, and most say no dairy (it’s a gray area). Since a lot of people have problems processing theses foods, or straight out allergies to them, proponents of the Paleo Lifestyle conclude that we were not meant to eat these foods.

So, after reading up on the Paleo diet, I began changing my diet. (I can recommend Living Paleo for Dummies.). The first to go was refined sugar. I know a lot of people have trouble giving up sugar, but I was already eating a lot of sugar-free foods. The bigger problem is Paleo excludes all artificial sweeteners, even stevia, which I really don’t like. I was able to knock out sugar and the artificial sweeteners for everything but drinks. I cut back on a lot of those  over time. So, when I go out, it’s a lot of unsweetened ice tea.

The next to go were potatoes. They were pretty much in the “sugar” category. I didn’t eat a lot of potatoes to start with. Potato chips were one of those luxury high fat, high calorie foods I rarely ate. Cutting out potatoes was easier than sugar, since I didn’t have “potato” substitutes like I did with sugar.

The biggest change was grains and grain products. I love bread, pasta, cereal, granola, rice, corn, popcorn, hummus, oatmeal. I am a dyed in the wool carb-a-holic thanks to grains. I can’t think of a grain product I don’t like.  It’s easier for me to ignore a candy bar or ice cream than it is for me to ignore a plain dinner roll. That meant giving up most of the staples on my regular diet and replacing them with things that are Paleo approved, like vegetables.

Honestly, I tried being vegetarian once. It was a miserable failure, because I really don’t like vegetables much. Now, I’m eating more vegetables than I did as a vegetarian, and I am okay with it. I eat the vegetables I like, which is a lot of broccoli, beets, butter lettuce, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Still, it’s not been easy.

As for dairy, I decided to do minimal dairy: Greek yogurt and milk/ cream for my coffee. I avoid cheese and other dairy products as much as possible. I’m not lactose intolerant, but yogurt is high protein and I can get it nonfat, unsweetened. As for my coffee, I can do unsweetened, but I can’t do it black. So between limiting my coffee and yogurt, I can keep the dairy to a minimum.

Ideally on the Paleo program, I should be choosing proteins like ocean caught fish, grass-fed meats and free range eggs. I choose those when I can find them and afford them, but realistically they are expensive, so I make the best choices I can with meats, fish and eggs.

Fruits and nuts (NOT peanuts) are on the Paleo approved list so there are lots of alternatives for munchy healthy snacks! I made my own “trail mix.”

The Paleo Lifestyle isn’t just about a “diet.”  It’s about cutting out processed prepackaged foods and getting enough fresh air, sunlight and exercise. It’s about keeping stress to a minimum and making healthy choices. One of the things I like best about it is that it’s not a “weight loss diet;” it’s a lifestyle diet. This is a way of eating and living that I am doing now and I am enjoying it. I feel better, healthier and this is a practice I intend to keep in my life.

The Paleo Lifestyle is thought of as a weight loss diet because when people first start on it, they lose weight. People lose weight on it because a lot of the high calorie foods they were eating before are cut out of their new diet: they stop eating pasta and start eating cauliflower. They end up losing weight. Like with any diet, in order to lose weight, we have to eat at a calories deficit: burning more calories than we take in. So that means eating less and exercising more. For me, my weight loss has come from a combination of healthier eating and exercising choices through the Paleo Lifestyle and counting calories on an app (I recommend My Fitness Pal).

The Paleo Lifestyle is about living healthy and taking care of yourself the best way you can. It is not for everyone but it works for me and it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time. Even better, it’s not about never having bread again; it’s about maybe having bread on occasion. (They advocate the 80-20 rule). I, as a bread-a-holic, have to be careful since I’m losing weight.

Although my primary goal in choosing this diet is to lose weight, I feel so much better eating the Paleo approved foods that this is finally a lifestyle change I can feel good about making permanent.

The Scale Debate

I am thinking of getting a scale. Just the fact that I am actually considering it is a huge step. I don’t remember the last time I was on a scale at my house. I must have been a child, literally, because I don’t recall one as a teen, and I know I never had one in my house as an adult (and that’s been a few decades!).  I haven’t decided if I’m going to get one; I’m just thinking about it. But, since I went to the doctor a few days ago, I am a little more encouraged.

I went to the doctor for another issue and of course I had to get weighed. For the first time in ages, I actually looked at the numbers on the scale and I lost 30 lbs.  My doctor was very happy and encouraging. Since last March, I have lost 51 lbs.  That makes 74 lbs down from my highest weight of 438 .  My family thinks I may have weighed more; my mom at least thinks I gained more weight after that doctor visit. My doctor asked about my diet, since she didn’t know how I was losing the weight. Once I told her I was following the Paleo diet, she was very pleased and very encouraging.

I have to say that even though I was glad to see that I had lost a significant amount of weight (about 10 lbs a month), there is a part of me that was disappointed my weight loss wasn’t greater. That’s the problem with losing weight: it takes a long time. There is no “quick fix” to lose weight. There are things like liposuction, but for people like me, who need to lose significant amounts of weight, lipo isn’t an option. People like me got to do it the long slow hard way (hence the title of my blog). This is one of the major pitfalls for people who have to lose so much weight: we get discouraged by our slow tedious progress.

This is where scales come in. Obviously, people weigh themselves regularly to track their weight loss, but anxious to see how much they’re losing, people weigh too often. They see they are not losing “enough” weight and get discouraged. They start working out and weigh themselves and are shocked to see they’ve gained weight. Obviously, to professional dieters like me, we know that muscle weighs more than fat, but still, even though we’re healthier, it’s still a weight gain. Then there is the slow tedious “mini-losses”: a quarter pound; a half pound; a third of a pound.  Weighing every week and seeing no significant loss can be very disheartening, even if it is a slow steady loss. When you have 274 lbs to Lise, like I do, losing a half a pound a week makes it seem like you are never going to get there. You start doing the calculations: 52 weeks a year, that’s 26 pounds a year, divide 274 by 26 and it’s 10.5 years before I reach my target weight.  Can it get any more depressing than that?  This is why people give up. This is what makes the scale a double edged sword.  I’d like to confirm that my program is working and that I’m still losing weight; I don’t want to face the fact that I’m losing at a minuscule rate, or worse not losing at all. Gaining weight would be disastrous!

And I’m still not really comfortable with scales. They still scare me. What if it shows I’m not losing weight?  What if I start gaining weight?  I don’t want to keep looking at those numbers showing how far I still have to. I don’t want to look at the numbers showing that I still weigh 364 lbs.  Granted, it’s 74 lbs down from what I used to weigh, but hell! it’s still 364 lbs! My dream, my goal, is to weigh a “normal” weight, something average for my height and frame. But I don’t know if i have the stamina to look at the numbers every week, or every two weeks, only to see incremental losses. I know how I am; I know this is going to be a tough battle even under the best of circumstances. I am a master at self-sabotage, and scales have never been my ally.  It would be like inviting the enemy into the fort!

As much as I dread the thought, I think at some point, I am going to have to get a scale. I can’t keep going to the doctor to get weighed. I suppose I can find a scale at my gym, or somewhere else, but then I’m going to be weighing myself in public! Yay? (I don’t think so!). At least at home, I can be humiliated and depressed at home. But then, I’m looking at the downside again: I’m assuming it won’t be good news!

I’m following my program. I’m tracking my calories. I should be losing weight. I’m getting exercise (not as much as I’d like, thank you so much, arthritis!) but, I’m working on it. Bottom line, I’m not giving up. I have made enough changes in my lifestyle that they’re part of my normal routine. I still have to tell myself, remind myself, that I don’t weigh 438 lbs anymore and I will never weigh that much again. I will eventually have to  get a scale, but I’m going to make sure that the scale works for me.

Moments of Truth

Most people who are overweight have a stormy relationship with scales. I am no different. I don’t remember the last time we had a scale in the house that could handle my weight. Of course, that eventually became an excuse for being ignorant of how much I weigh. It really helped too that I didn’t want to know how much I weigh.

Even when I go to the doctor, I usually close my eyes when I get on the scale so I remain ignorant of my weight. If I don’t know how much I weigh, then I don’t have to deal with it. Losing weight for me has always been like playing the lotto, and I’ve got the same kind of luck, too!  I “win” a little, then ultimately end up losing my money with nothing to show for it.

Now that I am actually losing weight, for the first time in a very long time, I am curious about how much I weigh.  I know I have lost weight because, even though people comment on my weight loss (a subjective opinion), my clothes are getting big and roomy (an objective fact).  Despite my curiosity, I am still reluctant to look at the numbers on the scale. I’m afraid they won’t be as good as I think they are. Dealing with disappointment is always hard, but I have a history of finding the silver lining in every cloud and ripping it out.  I don’t want another disappointment to lead to a relapse, or worse, giving up on my lifestyle change.

Tomorrow, however, income face to face with the scale again. I am going to the doctor again for a follow up on my arthritis and other issues. As much as I’d like to look at the numbers on the scale, I’m scared to do so. I have already faced one moment of truth this week.

Part of my physical therapy involves pool exercises, which means I had to buy a swimsuit for the first time literally in decades. Obviously finding a suit in my size is not easy and I truly hate buying clothes. It has always been a traumatic experience, so of course, I was not looking forward to any of this.  Since they didn’t have a swimsuit in my size at the local Target (there’s a big shock!), I had to go with the biggest size they did have, which happens to be one size down from what I normally wear. As usual, I bought the clothes (it’s a two piece) and brought them home to try them on.  I am pleased to say they fit!! It was truly a “what da hell!”moment for me, then I promptly ripped the silver lining out of that cloud by noting that they didn’t fit as loosely as I would have liked.

However, the bottom line is that I am now wearing clothes a size smaller than I wore before, so whatever the scale says, big loss, small loss, the loss is at least worth one clothes size.  I faced that Moment of Truth and came away a winner; now I just have to face another one and get the hard cold numbers. Regardless of what the numbers are, I cannot let it derail my progress. Getting into the smaller size will help with that!