I’ve been in “maintenance” for about 4 months now. Time flies. My weight is holding steady at just a few pounds below goal. This week, in addition to starting long (3+ mile) outside runs, I made it a goal to get 3 weight training sessions done at Koko. Building that lean muscle mass benefits in so many ways – my arms are starting to really get some definition but, more importantly, the lean muscle burns more calories! I often get asked if I am still losing weight and I have to explain that no, I’m done with that…just trying to keep it off now. Maybe the weight training and running continues to shape my body so it looks like I’m losing more pounds. I purchased all of my new clothes in the smallest size possible so almost nothing is large or baggy any more. I’m sure that makes me appear thinner as well.
The next question I get is “are you eating real food now”? As the doctors at Scottsdale Weight Loss like to say, Optifast is actually “real” food. Somebody used the term “people food” too the other day, as if we have been eating dog food or something. Optifast is actually food, it is just medical grade food that gave me the exact amount of fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, etc. I needed and nothing extra, thereby allowing me to drop weight quickly. Sometimes I laugh to myself when people say they could never do this program because they have to “eat”. I don’t know, there are worse things to eat than chocolate peanut butter bars. Brussel sprouts, for one 🙂
I will be the first to admit that my diet is still not great. But, it is WAY better than it used to be. Probably the biggest change is that I have cut down on my carb intake immensely. I still eat them, but they are way down on my list of go-to foods. The other change is that I eat more fruit and some veggies now. Still not enough veggies, but they do make it into my mouth, in small quantities, every day. Fruit provides similar vitamins and benefits as vegetables; however, they are not as efficient as far as calories go. Since I do have a decently large calorie “bank” to work with every day (1700-2000 calories), I don’t worry about it too much. I don’t over-eat them but I do try to incorporate them into my snacks and meals more than I ever have. There are so many great low-glycemic fruits in season right now (berries, in particular) and they happen to be my favorite too. I keep containers of washed and prepared berries and red seedless grapes either on my counter or in my fridge – easy to grab. Whereas I used to reach for chips, cookies, or carbs when I was hungry or just grazing, I will sometimes pop a grape or raspberry in my mouth instead. As far as my meals go, we always have some sort of protein. I try to make it a lean protein but since I have to feed a family of 5, sometimes it is a pot roast or something less than “lean”. In that case I still have it but I just don’t have as much. I have a kitchen scale from Weight Watchers that I use to weigh foods if I’m not sure about serving sizes. I just don’t have time now to make separate meals and if I just eat family meals in controlled portions, I think I’ll be OK (again, time will tell with careful monitoring). I usually have some sort of grain or pasta served with the meals for my growing and active kids and as long as I have been staying more or less on plan for the day, I will have 1/4 – 1/2 cup of pasta or rice or whatever (yes, WHITE pasta or WHITE rice). If I serve bread with the meal I will have a small piece – but just one.
I try to keep on a pretty regular eating pattern. I know that if I go longer than 3 hours without food, I will end up very hungry and not make good choices. For this reason, I do eat at pretty regular intervals whether I am hungry or not. Sometimes that just means grabbing a couple of slices of shaved deli meat from the fridge or a 1/4 cup of 2% cottage cheese with a sliced tomato or fruit. Greek yogurt is another staple in my house. Just something that stabilizes my hunger, or imminent hunger. I will admit that keeping the fridge stocked with healthy choices has been challenging. I find that I visit the Sprouts store much more often since I prefer their produce, meats, etc. “Whole” foods don’t have the same shelf-life as the processed crap I used to eat so it takes a bit more planning. One of the things we learned in the Optifast classes is to spend most of your time shopping in the outer perimeter of the grocery store – usually that is where you will find the non-packaged items – meat, produce, dairy, etc. The next best aisle is the frozen foods aisle – particularly for frozen vegetables. I have to say that this has been another healthy habit I have adopted as well. I’ll venture down the “packaged food” aisle as well, but it is usually to pick up something for my kids for lunches. Prepared food is not very appealing to me at all any more. I’d rather just make it myself so I can control what is going into it.
Like I mentioned in my last post, I did some baking on Tuesday. I have been eating some of that but in reasonable quantities. I sent cookies to the office with my husband and pushed them on my kids. I allowed myself a few but it was thought out beforehand. And, since I made them myself, I knew exactly what they were made of and felt OK with it.
Another healthy habit that I have been perfecting is “mindful” eating. You can get as corny as you want with this – chewing your food 20+ times, pausing before each bite, really looking and appreciating your food before eating, etc. For me, though, it really just means to be “present” when I am eating and actually taste the food. I still like to watch TV or read the paper when I eat but, in general, you should try not to multi-task too much so that you are “mindful” of what and how much you are eating. We should be monitoring ourselves for satiation. In other words, at some point while I am eating something, if I am getting full or have been satisfied in having had enough of whatever it is I am eating, I should / could consider stopping eating it. I have actually thrown away half eaten desserts or even meals because, although they were tasty, I was – at that moment because I was paying attention – satisfied and continuing to eat was really not going to make me any more comfortable, happy, fulfilled, etc. I think this is one of the most important keys to weight management. I can eat what I want but just STOP. Practicing this habit builds that “muscle” to make it easier and easier. This is why eating while driving or doing some other activity that requires more attention is a bad idea because we just mindlessly eat and eat. If I am going to consume a bunch of calories, I want to at least enjoy it! Also, if I start eating something and it just isn’t all that great or as good as I had built it up in my mind, I stop eating it. There is no point in wasting calories from my “bank” to eat things I don’t really enjoy. Sadly this exercise does not apply to vegetables for me, which is the complete opposite situation – I have to force myself to eat them. They never satisfy me and I don’t enjoy them. But, like many things in life, we have to do things we don’t always enjoy….again, building up that healthy habit “muscle”.
So, that is how I’m operating. So far, it seems to be working. I might need to tweak things a little to provide my body the nourishment it needs to help with the running. I’m going to have to pay attention to things like carbs and protein to replenish myself after the long runs and/or give me the energy to run. I am not perfect and I still like to sneak a few treats in before bedtime. Perhaps I am over-justifying it but as long as I am running 3+ miles that day, I feel like it is probably OK.
Are you ready for some football? It is my favorite time of year! My son started tackle football practices this week (yes, in this crazy heat!) This weekend we are having our annual Fantasy Football draft party at our house with 10 other friends. It is usually a huge junk-food and alcohol fest that lasts for about 8 hours with nothing but constant grazing. I haven’t really come up with a game plan yet (for the food or my fantasy team) but I had better do that soon because I could easily consume 4000 calories if I don’t pay attention. I am hoping to wake up early for a long run. If I don’t do it tomorrow, I will on Sunday for sure. I need to make sure I don’t get too run down because I have a lot to accomplish on Saturday and I will need some energy. I ran 3 miles yesterday at 8:30 AM and the temperature was 96 degrees. I was absolutely brutal. When I got back up near my neighborhood and I had to stop to wait for the traffic light I really thought I might be in trouble. So, I decided that I either need to wait a while for this outside running or I need to bite the bullet and get up earlier. How much earlier? I’m not sure. It just doesn’t cool down much at all here. I will try 6AM this weekend. Yuck.