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Fond Farewell

Well, I mentioned a little bit ago that I had tried out SparkPeople.com.  And, while there are some things I like better here vs there and vice versa, I think that -- at least socially -- I am going to switch to primarily using their site.

I plan on still using MFP to do all my tracking.  I've already gone through the work of putting in foods and recipes that I use regularly, plus it's just what I'm used to.  For the most part I will be using the app, but not the website.

I've just found myself paying less and less attention to the forums, with the exception of a couple challenge threads.  And, quite honestly, I prefer SP for that due to the Teams you can join there (groups based on interests, goals, etc).  That was one thing I always felt was missing from MFP.

So, instead of having two websites to check in with every day, two blogs to maintain, two groups of people keeping track of my progress . . . it just feels easier to consolidate.  I spend enough time at the computer as it is, so anything I can do to lessen that time is a step in the right direction.  And really that's what it comes down to is a time management issue.  It's not that I think SP is way better than MFP, because there are definitely things I don't care for.  Mainly how overwhelming it is, and how commercial it feels compared to MFP.  I prefer MFP's simplicity overall . . . but I wish that the social aspect was a bit more structured.

Anyway, I'll quit stalling.  Thanks to everyone who has helped me get as far as I have.  And if anyone does want to look me up over on SparkPeople, here's my profile: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage.asp?id=cls413

UNDER 200!!!

Well the title pretty much says it all.  I'm so thrilled to have finally hit that first major milestone!  I've been SO close for a couple weeks now (sitting right at 200), so it's nice for it to finally be official.

Back to Baby Steps

When I first started making a serious effort to lose weight, I started very small.  Partly because I didn't have the knowledge and tools to go bigger, but I knew that I wanted to start doing SOMETHING to improve my situation.

I've been using MFP for about two months now, and it's been an incredible tool.  Without it, I definitely wouldn't have had the success I've had so far, and I may even have given up again by now.

But now that I have the tools and knowledge . . . it can be a bit overwhelming at times.  At first it wasn't a big deal to say, "Well I'll stick with what I'm doing for now, but here's something to keep in mind if I hit a plateau."  But the past couple weeks, I've just had so many ideas running through my head, I feel like I can't focus.  My real life circumstances probably haven't helped.

I decided I needed a fresh perspective.  I've heard good things about SparkPeople.com from a few of my RL friends, so I created a new account over there.  I don't intend to leave MFP, but I just thought I'd give it a try.  Despite having the same basic tools as MFP, it is VERY different, and there are some things I like and don't like about it.

But the biggest thing I DO like is how it makes an effort to ease you into your new lifestyle.  As part of the signup process, the site asked me to choose three simple goals that I can live with for two weeks.  Two weeks of not worrying about anything beyond these few new habits.  And honestly, even though I've already gone through my own version of this, I feel like I can really benefit by going back to that mindset.  It just feels like exactly what I need right now.

Of course I'm not going to revert to my old ways and completely start over.  But even though my choices are overall much healthier than they were before, it's still nice to take a step back and ask, "What SPECIFICALLY do I want to accomplish right now?"  And not intentionally make bad choices if they don't relate to these small goals, but just focus on reinforcing those habits, and then building on that success.

I don't know.  Maybe I'm not explaining myself very well.  It just feels like the equivalent of taking a deep breath, and finding myself again, in the midst of all this chaos.

199, 196, 193 . . .

I realized I have quite a few milestones coming up.  I didn't manage to reach 199 by spring (partly because of the events of last week), but I know I will be there next Monday.  Then at 196 I'll have lost 25% of my goal.  And at 193 I'll have lost 10% of my starting weight!

Three reasons to celebrate within the next seven pounds?  Sounds crazy.  But when each pound lost is a victory that doesn't really get the appreciation it should, it's nice to come up with more concrete reasons why these numbers are important.

Spring Measurements

So far on my weight-loss journey, I've only been using the scale to track my progress.  I know it's not the most reliable tool, but it's the simplest.  However, I decided that since we are starting a new season, it would be an excellent time to take some pictures and some measurements.

I know today isn't really the first day of spring; that was yesterday.  But since I do my weigh-ins on Monday, I wanted to do all this new stuff on the same day.  I plan to take more pictures and measurements three months from now, at which point I will be a day early (first day of summer falls on a Tuesday this year).

So anyway, here are some pictures.







And to get an idea of how far I've come (since I didn't really do "before" pictures) here's me in my size-18 jeans.



When I started, these were snug.  Not "refuse-to-go-up-a-size-for-vanity-reasons" snug, but there was a slight muffin top.  Now I am constantly pulling them up.  BUT, the 16's in my closet are still a little too tight for comfort.  Another week or so, hopefully, and I can comfortably transition down.  If not, I'll probably just use my "leave-the-button-undone-under-the-belt" trick.

My arms are getting smaller, too.  No nice pictures to demonstrate this, but a couple of my sweaters were very tight around the top of the sleeve (where the seam doesn't allow for much stretching), and are now fitting much more comfortably.

And here are my measurements for the first (ahem, second) day of spring:

Neck: 14.75"
Chest: 42.5"
Waist: 37.5"
Hips: 44"
R. Arm: 16.25"
R. Thigh: 27.75"
R. Calf: 18"
Body Fat: 43%
Weight: 200 lbs

As I said, I plan to do this again in another three months.  Hopefully I will see some significant results in that amount of time.  It would have been interesting to see my progress over the past three months, but I just didn't think about pictures or measurements back then.  Partly because I was more concerned with getting healthy than getting results, but obviously getting results is going to happen along the way, so why shouldn't I document and celebrate those changes?

You can see what I looked like 15+ pounds ago back in my previous Picture Post; they just aren't the greatest pictures for noting progress, specifically this early.  I'm sure they will be great to compare once I reach my goal.

Back At It Again

Hmm, been a while since my last blog post.  That bad day actually snowballed into a bad week.  I went 3 days without doing any exercise whatsoever, and though I was still logging, I wasn't making the best choices.  I finally shook off that funk and renewed my commitment to being healthier.

Then we got some bad news on Sunday.  My husband's aunt, who had been diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in December, finally passed.  I decided that I wasn't going to worry about logging while we were out of town for the funeral.  I remained conscious of what I was eating, and even got some walking in, but didn't actually log my food or activity.

It feels like kind of a big deal.  Good or bad, I've logged EVERYTHING since I started this almost two months ago.  Even when I go out of town, or am otherwise unsure of exactly what I'm getting, I just estimate the best I can.  But it seemed unneeded this time.  Not disrespectful, exactly (although it does feel strange to be thinking so much about myself).  It just didn't feel like the right thing to do.  Sometimes life is more important than counting every single calorie.

So, now we're home again.  Back to logging everything.  I've got today's meals already planned out, and I'm heading to the Y soon for a workout.  Tomorrow is my weekly weigh-in, and I'll just keep moving forward from there.

Bad Day

I am in a terrible mood.

I am 450 calories over my allowance.

I could probably come up with some sort of cyclical cause-and-effect relationship between the two things, but I am trying with all my strength to keep the two separate.  I didn't eat too much because of being miserable.  And I'm not miserable because I'm over my goal.  I'm still not even up to maintenance calories for my current weight, so even though days like today may set me back, they're not actually making me go backwards, and I think that's an important distinction to make.

No, I'm just in a rotten mood for no good reason.  And there's a Reese's PB Egg sitting on my desk that I'm determined not to eat, and not only because it would set me even farther over today's calories.  I got it at the grocery store yesterday.  You could call it an impulse buy, in that it wasn't a planned purchase.  But I didn't plan to scarf it down the second I paid for it either.  No, I just wanted to have it around for the next time I really felt like having a treat.  And, while the old me would have ripped that package open fifteen minutes ago, I refuse to do that to myself.  When I finally indulge, I want to fully enjoy it, savoring the chocolate and peanut butter flavors.  I will not deprive myself of that joy, just to satisfy an irrational urge to make myself feel better right now.

My Un-Goal

I weighed in this morning for another 2 lb loss!

I was definitely not expecting that, since last week was a really off week for me.  I did lots of traveling, so there were lots of meals that I didn't have full control over.  I also had a moment of weakness and ordered a Pizza Hut P'zone and cheese sticks for lunch one day.  (I did at least have the presence of mind to save half of the P'zone for the next day, but I still ate more than my daily calorie goal in one sitting.)

Maybe all this shook up my metabolism.  Or maybe I'm burning more calories through exercise than I think I am.  Or maybe those meals that I ate out weren't as many calories as I thought they were.  At any rate, I'm now down to 202 lbs, and the "goal that wasn't a goal" from last week of breaking the 200 lb barrier by the first day of spring seems totally within reach!  But, I still don't want to get my hopes up, because if this past week has taught me anything, it's that I really can't anticipate how my body will respond.

After Two Months

I weighed in this morning at 204.  11 lbs lost since the start of the year, and 21 lbs down from my lifetime high (or what I'm calling my lifetime high; I used to weigh myself about twice a year, so there's really no way of knowing).

I realize that 11 lbs isn't really noticable on someone of my size.  My size-18 pants are a little looser than they were, and I can fit into my old 16's that I haven't worn in ages, though not comfortably enough to actually switch over to using them.  I didn't really expect to see progress so soon, but I am a little frustrated simply because I FEEL so much better than I did a couple months ago, and I wish that it showed on the outside.  But, that will come in time.

I've been struggling with the idea of specific goals, and by specific I really mean time-specific.  I have certain numbers that I'll celebrate once I get there.  199, obviously.  At 165, I'll be out of the obese category and into merely overweight.  And at 140, I'll be into the healthy category.  I'm counting this as my end goal, and obviously I'll reevaluate as I get closer, but what I'd really like is to hit 140, keep going another 5 pounds or so, and stay UNDER 140 as I maintain.  But . . . if I look and feel great at 145, then who's to say that's not "my" healthy?

(Though that argument isn't really valid.  Of course I'll look and feel great at 145, when I've been hovering around 220 for five years.  I guess my point is simply: we'll see when we get there.)

But as far as putting an expiration date on my goals, that I'm not really comfortable with.  Because I've never done this before.  This is the lowest weight I've been at in at least five years, and I've never (seriously) tried to lose weight before.  So I don't really know how quickly it will come off.  I don't want to push myself, and I don't want to be disappointed if my body rejects my carefully laid plans.

At this point I think it's safe to say that I want to hit 199 by April (and I've joined a group/thread on MFP to that effect).  I'd love to hit it by the first day of spring, and start this new season off with a bang!  5 lbs in 3 weeks should be an attainable goal.  But I can't count on it, no matter how much effort I put into making it happen.

The problem I have with scale goals tied to a date is that it's a number I don't have direct control over.  I can control what I eat, and I can control my activity, and so -- on paper at least -- I should have control over that scale, but of course I don't.

The other issue is that if I make a time-specific goal (for example, 5 lbs in 3 weeks), then I feel like I have to be PERFECT, and if I'm anything less than perfect with my food choices and how much I work out, then I must not really want to reach that goal.  "Perfect" doesn't work for me.  If there's one thing I've learned over the past two months, it's that I can be less than perfect, and still lose weight.

Of course, all that being said . . . if I did reach 199 in the next three weeks, it would be pretty cool.  But I'm not going to beat myself up if it doesn't happen, and I'm not going to make big changes to try to ensure that it does.  So, does that count as a goal?

Scale Says . . .

So.  Real life.  It happens.  This past weekend (as I already mentioned) I was out of town in Milwaukee.  Between eating, drinking, and lack of a workout, I was over my calories by more than double on Saturday.  Usually if I go over calories, it's not by that much, and it's still under my normal daily burn, so I'm still on track to lose, just not as quickly.  Not this time.  This was a big one.

Sunday was a little better.  Breakfast still was a big one, but after that we drove back to town, and my other meals were able to make up for it so I was only over by a couple hundred calories.  The other thing about Sunday, I drank FIFTEEN cups of water.  The day before I'd only had two.

So, Monday morning rolls around.  And . . .

I'm down another pound!

So, I must have been doing everything right the rest of the week.  Of course, the inevitable question is, what would I have lost had I stayed on track all weekend?  I don't know.  I don't care.  It doesn't matter.  I make choices.  I live with them.  I was prepared to live with a gain this week if that's what happened, so the fact that I'm down another pound is more than I could have hoped for.

Slow and steady, and I'll hit my first goal (under 200 lbs) before I know it.
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