Tag Archives: Maintaining Weight Loss

Have You Given Up?

Jen February 2018

“You wouldn’t have done that before.” My husband said this to me this weekend as we explored a new place in our new home state. He was right. Before gastric sleeve surgery, I would never have tried to walk along a narrow ledge for fear of falling. I would have given up. The post-surgery me tries new things and doesn’t give up!

“Have you given up?”

One of the cheerleaders in my life, N., asked me that the other day. She called in response to my “woe is me” texts of late.

“Well, no, I haven’t.”

“OK then.”

Sometimes it’s the simplest questions that lead to the most profound answers. While I haven’t accomplished the goals I made for January, I’m not giving up.

I set two goals in January: to lose weight and finish the first draft of my mystery novel. I’ve lost about a pound, but nothing earth shattering and not the eight pounds I planned to lose. My first draft of my novel is nowhere near done although I finally wrote the first murder (these are things that make mystery writers very happy).

February appeared and the feelings of failure came with it. Failure provokes such strong emotions in me. I tend to let it drag me down. I berate myself for my lack of accomplishments. I wonder if I can really do what I set out to do. Doubt becomes the prevalent emotion in my life.

I generally pull myself out of these funks, but it was N.’s words that really resonated with me this time. Well, no, I haven’t given up! Why would I? Sure I’m behind on my goals, but there are reasonable goals. The time frame wasn’t right this time. Needing more time is not a bad thing; it’s definitely not the reason to give up.

I’ve decided to let up on setting time related goals. Somethings do need time frames, like my training for my July half-marathon. You can’t cram training into a month before a race. Well, I guess you could, but I’m not that crazy. So I am running three days a week and I start my formal training in a week.

I am determined to lose more weight this year, but I’m not going to put a deadline on it. I know what to do. I’ve been on this weight loss journey for almost five years now. One of the many lessons I’ve learned it that there will always be ups and downs. Both literally and figuratively. The scale is one of those literal ups and downs, but truth be said, I don’t need a scale to tell me about weight loss. I can feel it in my clothes, in my body, and in my head. Eating poorly and exercising less are a bad combination for me and I know it.

My other goal of finishing my first draft continues. Some days writing comes easy and other days it’s like pulling teeth without Novocaine. I was so focused on finishing the draft that I lost a bit of my motivation and my love of writing. So I’ve stepped back and started writing out-of-order when I’m stuck. Sometimes getting to the finish line means taking a meandering path. For someone like me who adores structure and order, this is a bit awkward. I’m learning it’s OK to do things differently than I have before. Shaking things up is working and I feel like my novel is back on track.

February plans are to keep exercising, eat healthy meals, and write whether it’s hard or easy. No time frames this time for me. I plan to focus on the process, not the end. There is joy in doing well and being happy, not just in finishing.

So back to my original answer, no I’m not giving up. Not now, not ever. I plan to keep trying as I continue my journey in going Down the Scale….

Cookie Regrets…

This is the aftermath of my cookie hangover. Even with my smaller stomach from gastric sleeve surgery, I can still eat cookies. And I regret it every time. Time to get back to mindful eating on my weight loss journey!

I have a cookie hangover. I just finished a big chocolate chip cookie with just a touch of sea salt on top and before I swallowed the last bite I felt ill. Like when you have that last drink that you know you should have said no to, but drank it anyway. That’s me with sweets. I still crave them. I still love them. I still hate them after I finish them. It’s the never-ending battle of good versus evil; healthy versus unhealthily; knowing better versus ignoring the facts. It’s like a bad relationship where you know you shouldn’t even start it, but you do and for a while you’re happy. And then the part (that you know is coming) is when things turn. You feel like shit and you knew it was coming but you did it anyway. And you say you won’t do it again, but you do….

When will I learn? I should know better by now wouldn’t you say? I feel like a failure most times when I eat poorly. OK, not always. There are times like a holiday celebration that I know I won’t make the heartiest of eating choices and I’m OK with that. Those are days I’ve made a conscious decision to make some unhealthily choices. Yes to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Yes to peppermint anything on Christmas Day and a hell yes to peanut butter eggs on Easter.

It’s the spur of the moment eating that is bothering me these days. Here I am at a coffee shop with my coffee which should have been enough. It’s always enough but I saw the cookie and thought what the hell. Then I inhaled the cookie and now I’m sitting here in a sugar coma thinking “You idiot. You feel like crap from all that fat and sugar and you can’t even drink your coffee.” I’m saying more to myself but you get the point.

Why is it that I can be so strong some days and eat well and other days I slip? Other days I really don’t seem to care. Yes, stress is a lot of it, but honestly I can’t keep using that as an excuse can I? No, I can’t.

What can I do?

BRING BACK MINDFUL EATING

Yes, it’s time to be aware of what I’m doing with food. I’m using it for stress relief. I’m using it to fight boredom. I’m using it as a reward system. What I’m not using it for is to be healthy.

I always, always feel better when I eat healthy. There is no doubt about it. Time to make better choices and this mean stopping the sweets when I can get coffee. It’s time not to eat granola bars mindlessly because really, they’re not a healthy food. It’s time to remember food is fuel.

Oh, I’m not going to pretend I’m giving up completely on unhealthy food, but I need to be more conscious and selective when choosing it, especially with the holidays coming up.

Time to end the sugar hangovers and feel better about my choices and myself. Time for me to be mindful in order to be healthy. Time to stop, think and make better choices so I can keep going in my journey to be healthy and happy and continue to go Down the Scale…

Really, No One is Watching

Getting ready for another work out session! I never thought I would wear a tank top to exercise in, but here I am almost four years after gastric sleeve surgery wearing one! Living a healthy lifestyle is the best change I made!

What is it about exercising in groups that makes me so self-conscious?  It’s not so much a problem in classes like spin where everyone is on their own bike so it doesn’t matter if you’re slow or uncoordinated.  Unless you fall off the bike or perhaps sing too loud to the music, no one cares or notices what you’re doing.  You’re not keeping anyone from advancing or slowing down the group when you’re in spin class.

Other exercise classes are a different story.  Or at least that was my preconceived notion before I did a boot camp class today.  Most of my fears and concerns were gone by the end of class.  First, I managed to do all the stations without passing out. I did however text a friend before class to remind her that she was in charge of picking out a good photo for my obituary should I die from either exertion or embarrassment.  Fortunately I did neither and I was once again reminded that exercising is about me, not anyone else.

Today’s class was my first group weight training class in about ten years. When my children were little, the YMCA was a godsend with its childcare so I tried out classes even though I was obese.  I was proud of myself for participating, albeit slowly and clumsily, until one fateful day.  A perky girl, who I could only think thought she was being helpful by cheerfully rushing up to me after class said, “Wow, good for you!  You’re doing this class.”  My dumbfounded and angry face must have given her the impression she should just back away slowly.  As if I didn’t say to myself every class, “It’s OK you’re the only fat mom in here, just keep trying.  No one cares.”  From that day on, every time I took that class I thought that people must feel sad for the fat chick in the class.  It was devastating, but I did keep going.

Here I am almost four years out from my gastric sleeve surgery and I must admit I’m still self-conscious about my body. Oh, I’m in the best shape of my adult life and I exercise regularly including running, but the “fat chick” in my head likes to make herself known from time to time.  My personal training sessions have boosted my confidence tremendously, but they will be ending soon.  I realized it was time to try out a group class to keep working on strength training.

I’m very lucky that my personal trainer also teaches the boot camp I did today.  I was reassured that she would make sure my form was good when she could.  When I walked into class I realized that it was made of women of all shapes, sizes, and athletic ability.  No, I wasn’t the skinniest woman in the room, but I fit in just fine.  But you know what?  It didn’t matter what I looked like or what I could do because no one cares!  Now, I don’t mean that in a malicious way as in people are uncaring, what I mean is that everyone is there to do their best.  It’s not a fashion show or a competition.  This boot camp was all about people doing their personal best.

Was I awkward, uncoordinated, and insecure?  You betcha!  I was also determined, strong, and proud.  Sure, my lunges were slow, but I rocked it on the TRX bands.  As I moved from station to station, I became more comfortable and relaxed.  In no time, the session was over and I did everything.  I assume everyone else did, but I didn’t notice.  This time was about me and what I could do.  And thankfully no one came up to me commenting about my abilities, weight or the fact I was even in the class.

But if someone had said something to me, I would have been irritated, but I would have brushed it off.  I am proud of what I can do and I am not focusing on my weaknesses when I exercise.  I’m working hard to be this way in all aspects of my life.  I’m taking one giant step, or rather lunge, forward to being positive mentally and physically!

Next time, you’re thinking of trying something new or even an activity you stopped doing due to insecurity, I hope you’ll do it.  One of the positive things that has come out of my weight loss journey is my confidence to try new and old things.  I want to live a life that is full of hope and happiness and how I get there is all up to me.  While no one might notice what I’m doing to get there, the results of living a healthy life are clear I think, especially as I continue to go Down the Scale…

Engaging My Core

How could I not be engaged with these people? The ups and downs of my weight loss journey reminds me to remember what is really important: making your life a priority. For me, spending more time with my family is my top priority!

“Remember to engage your core.”

I hear these words for an hour twice a week now that I workout with my trainer, H.  Dedicating two hours a week to exercising with the guidance of a trainer is helping me improve my physical health, but focusing on my physical core made me think about my core in a mental sense.  What I mean is that for my body to work better, I need to engage my core to support the rest of my body no matter what exercise I’m doing.  It’s also my mental core that needs engaging as well these days.

The past few weeks I felt unfocused, like I was going through the motions of life, but not really feeling it.  I have all these goals in my head, but I wasn’t working toward any of them.  Sure, I’ve been eating better and exercising more, but I still didn’t feel fulfilled.  It wasn’t until my training session last Thursday when H. reminded me to engage my core muscles that it hit me.  I’m not engaged in anything.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve just ignored my family, friends, and my life in general during here last few weeks, but I haven’t felt involved.  Besides the goals of being healthy I have other goals, but I haven’t made them important.  If I don’t make my goals a priority, how will I accomplish them?  Unless there’s a magic wand somewhere that I don’t know about, I need to work toward my goals instead of talking about them.

The first step in the new engagement of my core, i.e. my life,  is to stop talking about them and start doing them.  Here’s how I’m beginning to be more active in my life goals:

*Being confident in my physical self is a must, no matter what happens.  As I mentioned in my last blog, I do feel stronger and more confidant in my athletic abilities, but I took a step, well, a run back, two weeks ago.  I was doing fast laps around the YMCA and my first one went great.  The second set was two laps, but halfway through the second lap I just stopped.  It felt like my body couldn’t go on.  I was winded and my legs cramped.  I was angry with myself.  I finished the training session, but it bothered me the rest of the day.  Normally, I would have let it go and just waited until my next training session to try again.  Instead I went to the gym early the next morning and ran without stopping for a mile and a half like I’ve been doing.    Instead of acting like I was going backwards in my training, I tackled the problem head on.  I was engaged.  I will continue to be engaged in my athletic endeavors no matter if they’re good or bad.

*Making my goals a priority, even if it means saying no.  I’ve put off building a new career for the past year.  Sure, at times, I had to put my goals aside to work on immediate issues like moving to a new state and setting up our new life in the Pacific Northwest, but we’ve been here almost six months and we’re pretty settled. Each day I come up with excuses not to make the time to work on my writing with the exception of a blog entry here and there.  No more excuses!  I am now scheduling in time to work on my writing which includes my blog and my fiction writing.  I’m doing this even if I have to say no to meeting a friend or pushing housework aside for another time.  As I type, I’m at a café while my daughter is at a theater class.  This is my dedicated writing time; no running errands or playing Words with Friends.  I am engaged in my writing, which in turns means I’m engaged in my personal and professional goals.

*Spending time with friends and family is essential.  I realize that I’m with my children a lot, but I’m not always “there.”  While I’m not quite sure which games my kids are talking about, I am trying to listen intently.  If it’s important to them, I need to make it important to me.  I’ve realized if I’m not engaged when they’re talking about everyday things, I might miss the important life stories they’ll share.  And with my ever-supportive hubby, I need to be with him in addition to our time as a family.  We’ve made the effort to go out to dinner and breakfast on our own and having this time alone with him is necessary.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in our lives as parents, so to spend time as a couple keeps us engaged in our marriage.  I can’t forget my friends, either!  So many of my friends are far away and while an email, text or Facebook post helps enormously, FaceTime is my new favorite app.  During a “woe is me” moment, I texted my constant cheerleader, N., to see if we could schedule a FaceTime appointment. We video chatted yesterday and it really lifted my spirits.  Seeing her face while talking was just what I needed and I realized much of it was because I was focused just on our conversation.  I wasn’t texting in between loads of laundry or running out the door to an appointment; we were focused on talking only.  When I am focused on the person I’m talking with and not trying to multitask, I am engaged in my life as well as this person’s life.

Now that I’m focused on engaging my core physically, I am going to engage my emotional core.  Sometimes, multi-tasking isn’t helpful.  As a lifelong multitasker, this is going to be a challenge.  Just from the small changes I’ve made over the past few weeks though, I can already feel some of the physical and mental weight being lifted.  There really is something to be said about slowing down and focusing on your goals.  Now that I’m making my core muscles stronger, I am going to make my figurative core, meaning my heart and soul, stronger.  I am engaged as I continue my journey Down the Scale…

Making the time to write is one of my goals and by setting up outside in the occasionally clear day in the PNW, I can write. No excuses, it’s time be engaged.

Trying Not to Drown…

“Our only goal is not to drown!”

Goggles are making it easier to get over my fear of putting my face in the water.  My weight loss journey continues with new physical and mental challenges!

Goggles are making it easier to get over my fear of putting my face in the water. My weight loss journey continues with new physical and mental challenges!

This was the first promise my friend, S., and I made when we decided to join the pre-masters swim class at our local YMCA. It’s a class for adults who want to improve their swimming techniques along with getting a good workout. She and I were both looking for a challenge to our regular workout routine for the new year.

So, how’s it going a month into the new year? The class is full of friendly adults, many older than me, and has a great coach. We start with core exercises on the pool deck and then get into the lap pool for a variety of drills. I’d really love it if I didn’t have to swim. Wait, what? Yes, the swimming part is the hardest part for me! Here’s a few reasons why:

*I have no recognizable swimming style. I never took swimming lessons and I’ve pretty much learned to swim by watching others. I can swim enough to be comfortable in the water, but I always feel like I’m splashing about. I don’t know how to breathe properly when swimming so I stay above the water as much as possible.

*I’m scared of putting my face in the water. I’ve used the excuse that I wear contacts so I don’t want to go under water, but really I am scared. As I child I got caught in some rough waves at the beach and it took a number of turns around the ocean to finally get out. And while my brain knows I won’t drown in the pool and that I’m perfectly safe, the rest of me isn’t buying it.

*Swimming involves more prep work and wearing a bathing suit…I hate it! Actually, I’m OK with wearing a suit even though I’m feeling lumpy and bumpy these days. Swim class isn’t a fashion show and really, no one cares who wears what or how your body looks. I just hate having to switch into a suit and either shower at the Y or rush home to shower. Running is all about putting on your running shoes and going! Not much preparation there!

So, with all those complaints, why am I still going to swim class? Because…

*I need to make myself uncomfortable. I blogged about pushing myself out of my comfort zone last September and I find that I still need to do it. To keep myself motivated and interested, and yes, to help with weight loss, I need to challenge myself whether it’s my exercise or eating routines. This swim class makes me try something I haven’t done so far in my weight loss journey.

*I feel great afterward! Yes, I hate the prep and clean up after class, but my body feels good. Oh, I’m sore since this is a full body work out, but it’s a good kind of sore. I also feel empowered. While I’m not a great swimmer, I complete the class! And no, I haven’t drowned yet! I’m even putting my face in the water more and more each time. Who knows how far I’ll go to improve my swimming technique, but I do know that I’m doing something great for my body and mind.

*Exercising with other people is fun and encouraging! Being accountable to another person is a great way to keep up with an exercise program. I’m thankful to have my friend, S., meet me at class. But even when one of us can’t make it, the other person goes to class and let’s the other know what the drills were that day. For me, I like the instructor and the other swimmers. Our instructor is well aware of my underwater phobia so she encourages me to keep trying, but never guilts me into doing more than I’m comfortable with. And the other swimmers are great! When you swim with women 20 years older than you, you are inspired! It reminds me of one of the many reasons why I started my weight loss journey: to be healthy as I grow older. Yes, it’s humbling to have older people swim better and faster than you, but I use it as inspiration, not negativity.

So, yes, like Dory, I will just keep swimming. I hope to improve my technique and get over my fear of going underwater, but I am not pushing myself too hard. I always tell my kids, it’s important to try something, even if you fail or it doesn’t work out. I am now telling myself that, too. I hope I’ll get more comfortable with swimming so it will lead me to a triathlon, but now I’m just taking one stroke at a time. As long as I don’t drown, I’ll keep swimming Down the Scale…

 

Proof that I am actually going in the pool!  And yes, I'm in a bathing suit!  Be comfortable with your body..it's the best gift you'll give yourself!

Proof that I am actually going in the pool! And yes, I’m in a bathing suit! Be comfortable with your body..it’s the best gift you’ll give yourself!

Starting off on the Right Foot

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Finished my first run in 2017 at the indoor track at my local YMCA!  Neither weather delays or long to-do lists could keep me from getting back to exercising! I am thrilled to continue my weight loss journey in 2017!

It only took me to January 10th, but I finally got my first run in for the year.  As I wrote last year, I don’t make resolutions any longer, but I do like to start the new year on the right foot.  The holidays alway make it harder to stick to a healthy eating and exercise routine.  And let’s not forget that trying to stay sane and calm doesn’t always come easy during the holidays.

This was true for me.  Between construction in our rental home, stomach bugs and homesick kids, our first Christmas and New Year holidays in our new home state made the whole family feel a bit out of sorts.  Adjusting to some many new places, people, schedules, and even snow, was exhausting for all of us and it took its toll on my body and mind.

So, yes, it’s taken me this long to get back on track.  And I thought it wasn’t going to happen as school was delayed two hours due to icy roads.  I planned to go run at the YMCA, but when I woke up to the school news, I almost gave up on my plans.  Oh, it would have been easy to skip it. My to-do list is a mile long, but I stopped myself and said, “You are important, too.”  My health must be a priority.  I know how I feel when I don’t take care of myself and I don’t like it.  I never want to go back to the version of me who didn’t think it was important to make my physical and mental health a top priority.

Although it was only 30 minutes, I did get to the YMCA and run around the indoor track.  For that quick half hour, I recharged my batteries.  Isn’t it strange how exercising actually makes you feel better?  That good feeling was just the reminder I needed to keep to a schedule when it comes to exercising and planning healthy meals.  I’ve already put my exercise schedule in my calendar so I remember to keep it a priority!

So whether it’s January 10th or May 10th, whenever you start a new routine or go back to your previous one, it’s not too late.  I am excited to start running again, trying out new recipes, finally unpacking the last boxes, and exploring my new hometown.  I will continue to keep trying to be the healthiest version of me as I go Down the Scale in 2017….

 

New Workout and Friends in a New Hometown

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Since I started my gastric sleeve surgery journey over three years ago, I’ve been fortunate to have friends who encourage me to keep active.  My friend, N., started me on running journey even before I had surgery, and she continues to encourage me to try different workouts like spinning.  My other friends like A. and R. ran races with me and I even ran my first half-marathon with my college and adult friend, B.

Now that we’ve been in our new hometown for a little over a month, I’ve struggled with keeping active.  Instead of walking my daughter a half-mile to school each way, I walk down the street to the bus stop.  I am still unpacking  and getting settled into our new place, so I’m not running as often as I like.  With winter approaching, I was concerned about keeping active.  Running in 30 degree weather doesn’t sound as appealing as sitting in front of the fireplace with a cup of coffee, does it?

As I’ve shared many times, my weight loss journey is just that…a journey.  It’s not just about weight loss, but about continuing to strive for the best me I can be.  I realized that if I want to continue to keep the weight off and improve both my physical and mental health, I need to be proactive.  Last week the family joined the YMCA and today was my first visit.

I knew from previous experience, the Y is a great place to workout and meet people.  When we moved to Florida when my oldest child was an infant, the Y became my go-to place.  And even though I was obese then, I kept active, albeit slowly, and I met other stay-at-home moms.  Finding a community, especially with little kids, was my saving grace.

I finally committed to using our new membership this week and I was fortunate enough to have a new friend show me the ropes.  While volunteering at my daughter’s school a few weeks back, I meet another mom, S., who mentioned she belonged to the Y.  We made plans to meet today and I am so grateful we did!

To make a new friend in a new hometown is always a relief and comforting, but to make a friend who also likes to work out and has a positive energy and spirit is even better!  S. was kind enough to show me all around the Y after we walked about three miles on the indoor track. We’ve even made plans to try out the pre-masters swimming program in January.  I am so thankful to have found someone who is active like my San Francisco friends.

I still have new plans, including coming up with better, more interesting eating habits and ways to incorporate being active besides workouts,  to develop as we settle into our new hometown.  But I feel more grounded now that I have a new workout place and friend.  Sometimes, it’s just the little things that help you feel grounded, and in my case it’s the little things that help me continue to go Down the Scale…

 

 

Finding the Familiar in the New

Jen First Lake Run

Here I am on my first run in my new hometown! I am very lucky to have a running trail around a beautiful lake by my home! No excuses not to run now!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Down the Scale. Honestly, I have a good reason! We moved from California to Washington! We’ve gone from noisy city living to the quiet wooded suburbs. It’s a big change for the entire family. New schools for the kids. New job for the hubby. New everything for me. Well, today I found one familiar thing in my new life…running.

Yes, I finally went out for a run this morning. Well, more like a walk/jog/run. It was slow and I’d like to blame my pace on the incredible new scenery, but in fact, it’s the first run I’ve done in a month. Yes, a month. Forgive me fellow runners, for I have sinned. Yes, I let my running slide in the midst of our move.

Actually, it was easy to let everything slide during this move. Bad eating habits and little sleep become the norm during the past month. While it’s fun to have treats and drink sugared coffee drinks at times, after a while it becomes old. I never thought I would believe that, but when I think about how my body felt over the past month, I know it’s not the comfortable me. It reminds me of the old me who didn’t know how important and rewarding that eating well could be.

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

It felt great to put my running shoes on once again! Keeping healthy, no matter what the circumstances, is so important!

So today’s run was slow and involved more huffing and puffing than I’d care to admit, but it still felt good. Being outdoors, especially in a new and beautiful setting, was just what my body and soul needed. It took me away from the boxes, the struggles of new schools and routines and reminded me to take care of myself. Just 30 minutes of exercise helped me to clear my lungs, but more importantly my head.

Oh, the boxes and stress and worry of the move will be here for a bit, but I’ll get through it. I’ve moved many times before, but this time I have more “tools” to deal with it. Since having my gastric sleeve surgery, I’ve learned to take on new challenges with the strength, courage, and determination that I now know that I have as I go back Down the Scale…

Let’s Get Uncomfortable

“You’ve become comfortable.”

Those important and truthful words were simply stated last week by my friend, N. She is one of my strongest supporters since I began my weight loss journey. She is also my most honest friend. She is brave enough to speak the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. That is the sign of a true friend.

“You’re right.”

Most people would consider this a "before and after" photo, but I like to think of it as a "before and my current state" photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

Most people would consider this a “before and after” photo, but I like to think of it as a “before and my current state” photo. My weight loss journey continues to evolve as I strive to be the healthiest person I can be!

That was my immediate response to N. When you speak without thinking, without filtering your spoken words, you know you’re sharing your truth.

Why did I agree I’ve become comfortable? Because I feel stagnant in my journey to become a healthy person. No, it’s not just about losing weight; it’s about physical and mental progress. For me, becoming comfortable can lead to falling, even jumping, backward. This is not what I want.

I’ve become complacent in terms of my physical health. The weight I gained over this past year is still here. I am used to it. And if I felt like this was where I wanted to be, that would be OK, but I don’t. I don’t like my tight jeans. I don’t like the new extra jiggle in my arms. When I’m honest with myself, I am not happy with my body now.

I’ve also eased off on my physical fitness. Having run my first half-marathon in May, I should set a new goal. I like having goals. I unabashedly admit I like to check off boxes on my own to-do list. I like something to focus on down the road. I’ve become too comfortable with running two to three miles twice a week and one spin class. While it’s great that I do have an exercise routine, I’ve been comfortable just keeping the same pace and exertion.

The biggest area I’ve become comfortable with is eating. Yes, my gastric sleeve stomach keeps me from overeating, but I admit I have been snacking more. The protein bars I claim to buy for meals have turned into candy bar snacks. It’s easy to slip back into poor eating habits. “I’ll starting eating less and drinking more water” is my new Sunday night mantra.

Now that I’m being honest with myself, what do I do next? Staying comfortable is not an option. I need to push myself to get over this plateau and stop the backward sliding into poor habits. I want to get to the next level of mental and physical fitness. This means being uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean forgetting where I’ve come from, though.  This just means reminding myself of the success I’ve achieved. I’ve come along way, baby! I’m maintaining a huge weight loss, exercising regularly, and, for the most part, eating healthier. Yes, I am proud of where I am, but I know I can do better. I can be better.

And this is what I’m going to do to get to the next level of health: I’m going to get uncomfortable:

*It’s time to weigh myself weekly. While I’m a firm believer that the scale isn’t the end all, be all of fitness, it does give me a tangible indicator of where my health is going. My blog isn’t called “Down the Scale” for nothing!

*Crank up the physical intensity. I already started last week at spin class by turning up the resistance on my bike. I ran faster and longer on this morning’s run. Sure, I was tired after each outing, but my head and body felt better. Pushing through the initial pain made me improve. I still need to come up with a tangible goal like last year’s half-marathon, but starting to challenge myself in my every day life is a good start!

*Back to eating mindfully. Snacking, for me, is a mindless activity. Snacking, even if it’s healthy food, is mostly done without thought. I do it for the instant gratification or to help ignore stress, pain or depression. I promise to take the time to think about why I’m eating. I know this will be the most uncomfortable step in my continuing journey. It’s easier to ignore my feelings by eating. That is my lifelong struggle.

When I began sharing my experiences, I thought I would have a definite before and after photo and story. Yes, I have before photos, but the after photos and stories are just landmarks on my personal map. Sometimes these landmarks are strong and majestic, but some times they are more weak and ugly. And by ugly I mean negative, unhappy and dull. They are not the places you want to stop at when looking at a map, but I’ve learned I can get through those places.

When I am complacent in taking care of my body, mind, and soul, I slide back into bad habits and negative thinking. It’s easy to be comfortable in the dark. Pushing out of the dark and into the light is hard, sometimes frightening and it is definitely not a straight line type of journey. For me, stepping forward after going backward is always worth it. Being truthful is hard! Here I go being honest as I seek out new, positive landmarks on my journey Down the Scale….

Cooking and Weight Loss Go Hand in Hand

I love cooking with my kids!  And maybe one day, I'll get them to chop the onions!

I love cooking with my kids! And maybe one day, I’ll get them to chop the onions!

You learn many things when you start a weight loss journey. Of course you learn about exercising and eating right. You learn about taking care of your head and heart as well as your body. One of the more practical things I learned over the past three years is to cook. Yes, I could cook before my gastric sleeve surgery, but I’ve realized that I’m actually a better cook now than I was before I lost weight.

I can definitely attribute some of my adult weight gain to my cooking skills…well, my lack there of cooking skills. I claimed it was easier and cheaper just to get take-out or buy frozen meals since I lived on my own. I lived so close to quick and cheap take-out restaurants so it was convenient as well.

When I moved in with my husband, we weren’t the best at cooking at home either. Occasionally we would be inspired to cook new foods, but most of the time we just made pasta dishes since they were quick and simple. And when we added two children to the family, cooking became another chore, another necessity to keep the kids happy and heathy. Take out food, frozen meals, and once the kids could sit at a restaurant without too much damage, eating out were just the easiest ways to eat.

Now I can’t say that post gastric sleeve surgery meant I was suddenly the next Julia Child. For the first few months, food was a chore and I wasn’t really interested in expanding my cooking skills. And while I did start to cook at home more often, it’s really been the past year that I’ve made more of an effort. When I started to analyze labels and food costs I decided to make a change. I knew by cooking at home I would eat better, my family would eat better, and more importantly, I would set a better example for my children. How can I send them out into the world and expect them to cook on their own if I haven’t shown them?

So what am I cooking these days? Here are a few examples:

  • Crock pot meals are awesome! Really, there’s nothing better than to come home in the afternoon to the smell of a home cooked meal! Now, there is some prep work to making a crock pot meal like browning meat or chopping vegetables. Of course, there are recipes that are just a protein thrown in with a canned soup, but I avoid those since they’re full of sodium and not always the tastiest. Here are a few of my favorite meals:
  • The oven is also your friend! As much as I love my crock pot, I’ve found a number of easy meals to make in the oven. Some of my regulars are:
    • Crispy Chicken Thighs. These are boneless and skinless, but with just a bit of seasoning and olive oil, this recipe reminds me a bit of fried chicken. Not only is it healthier than fried chicken, it’s easier to make. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930672295/
    • Baked Fish. I admit I wasn’t a big fan of fish in the past. Once I realized that fish really is good for you and doesn’t have many calories, I became a convert. I still only like the meaty white fish, but it’s a start. I buy wild caught Mahi Mahi from Trader Joe’s and with just a little olive oil spray, seasonings, and lemon, it makes a great meal in less than 15 minutes.
    • Zucchini lasagna. First, let me say, this takes a bit of prep work. Sure, using pasta noodles instead of zucchini would make it easier, but I think the zucchini actually tastes better than pasta and, of course, it’s fewer calories! I’ve recruited the whole family to help me make this dish and that in itself makes it a fantastic meal! https://www.pinterest.com/pin/269512358930794427/
  • Prepared meals are a necessity, too! Listen, we all have days when dinner needs to be quick and easy. Here are a few meals that make my life a little easier some days:
    • Prepared salads are fast, easy and tasty. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of salads, but you really need to read the labels. I always check the calories on each salad. Remember, salad doesn’t always equal healthy. Salad dressings and toppings can be full of fats, sugars, and calories. My current favorite is the Lemon Chicken & Arugula Salad. It’s a nice mix of flavors and only 300 calories for the whole package!
    • Pre-seasoned meats. While I mentioned earlier I’m not a big fan of crock pot meals made with canned soups, there are days I don’t have a lot of time to prep a meal. My go-to pre-seasoned meat is Trader Joe’s Cabernet Beef Pot Roast. It’s flavorful and we always have leftovers. Some days, you just need to let someone else do some of the work for you.

Again, I’m not a fancy cook by any means, but I’ve learned a few tricks to make my meals better:

  • Flavored salts go a long way to make food better. Almost every day I use Eatwell Farms flavored salts that I buy at our local farmers’ market. Rosemary salt goes on thinly cut pork chops while heirloom tomato salt is perfect on roasted vegetables. To add more flavor to baked fish, I use the lemon salt.
  • Switch things up! I admit that I get in a rut when it comes to cooking. I tend to do the same meals over and over. While it does make life easier, it also makes dinner boring. I’ve learned to mix things up; not every Tuesday needs to be Taco Tuesday. I also plan to change how we eat our favorite meals like fish. Baked fish is great, but why not make it into fish tacos?
  • Getting the whole family involved in cooking is fun. Of course my kids love to bake cookies every Christmas, but I finally noticed that they enjoy cooking all year round. My kids love to help in the kitchen and I’ve learned that they can do more than I realized. Somehow I always end up being the one to chop onions, but they like to chop other vegetables and brown the meats on the stove. The zucchini lasagna has become a family meal from prep to cooking to eating!

Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy the occasional take-out meal and restaurants. Who doesn’t? And sometimes you have to eat the best and quickest way you can that night. But now that I put effort into meal planning and recruited the best sous chefs, we have better meals. Learning to cook and appreciating healthy and tasty food is one of the best results of my healthier lifestyle. The fact that I am sharing this with my children is even better. I am thankful I can share this positive effect of my weight loss journey as I continue to go Down the Scale…

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner.  Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!

I love that the whole family takes part in cooking dinner. Zucchini Lasagna is our current favorite!