Happy “Eat Until You Burst” Day

cornI never used to like Thanksgiving. It was the first day of the food-triggering season. The day when diets go out the window until your New Year’s resolution gets you back on track. The whole purpose of Thanksgiving (in my mind) was to eat everything you can until you can’t eat anymore. Plus, when I was growing up somebody (often it was me) would have a meltdown over something at every holiday.

Over the past 10 years or so, a few things have changed, and now I love Thanksgiving:

turkey-trotFor one thing, now I am in charge of cooking the turkey, which really free’s my mother up. It is a win-win. I have only one job, and I’m good at it. My mother can focus on the more elaborate dishes and many of them can be finished ahead of time. She always gets to run a race Thanksgiving morning (she is out there right now: Go Mom!!!)

Also, I started a tradition of decorating my Christmas tree with my daughter on Thanksgiving. We play Christmas music and run the yule log video on the tv. We start planning out our gift-giving for the season. We make plans for things to do over Christmas break (my last job always closed the week between Christmas and New Year’s). It was a time to look forward to all the great parts of the season.

Finally, last year I realized that you could enjoy Thanksgiving without overdoing it:

The first part is to stick to my food plan for breakfast and lunch. I forgo the bagel breakfast with family and stick to my yogurt, apple, and almond. Eating anything off program early in the day will derail me, as I learned last Christmas. I’ve stuck to this all this year and it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and the whole day.

I also make sure to not skip lunch. Some families have T-day dinner at mid-day, but we don’t eat until about 5. In the past I wouldn’t eat because I knew I would be eating sooo much for dinner. I’d get to the dinner table starving, which is counter-productive to eating healthy and making choices. You just want to eat anything and everything.

We do lots of appetizers at our house, so I focus on the ones that are whole foods that nourish: Butternut squash soup, shrimp, and veggies dipped in salsa or hummus. I sit as far away from chips and cheese and crackers as is possible.

turkeyTurkey is one of the best parts of the day, (I make a great turkey) and it is a healthy entrée. Surround that with green beans and sliced almonds, carrots with onion, and a delicious salad. I avoid any vegetable with cream sauce, cheese topping, or marshmallow. I love (love) stuffing, so I choose that over potatoes (both sweet and mashed).  I know bread is a trigger for me, so I keep my stuffing serving very small. I I don’t really like cranberry sauce, so I skip that. The important thing for me is to have a plan. I know before I sit down what I will and won’t eat.

And I enjoy dessert. I’m looking forward to it right now! My mother makes the best pies. But here too, it is all about the plan. I’ve decided I will eat and enjoy a piece of pie. One piece. Not a sliver, that will make me feel deprived, but not a giant piece. And I will eat it slowly and enjoy every bite without guilt.

So I’m excited about today. I will share with loved ones, enjoy some great food, and feel good about myself. I have a plan and that is empowering to me. I also know that tomorrow will be back to my food plan. Today’s enjoyment isn’t a derailment, but rather part of my process. How do you handle the holidays?


Post holiday update: A great day overall. Tree is up. Turkey came out great. I ate a lot, walked a little, and enjoyed myself overall. So tired, so happy. Hope your Thanksgiving was great!

Happy 1st Anniversary

happyanniversaryI know it is three days early, but I’m too excited to wait. Happy Anniversary to me. It has been one full year (shy three days) since I completely changed my life and began my pursuit of health and happiness. It is one year that I went cold turkey on foods that bring me down (especially diet foods, that are super insidious). One year since I committed to fitness for fun rather than for losing weight. One year of deciding to accept and even love who I am in the moment (still kind of working on that one). One year of not saying “diet.”

It totally started as a lark, an experiment, a moment of desperation. However, after a year I’m happier and healthier than I think I have ever been. So here are some of the things that have changed in my life over the past year:

  • I rarely have food cravings. The other day I did a presentation in front of a plate of cookies and platter of bagels and muffins. These foods were in front of me all freakin’ day and I never even thought about picking one up until the end of the day when someone said, “Are you going to throw those out?” I did have some food cravings over Halloween, but I blame the candy corn and pizza, which triggered the cravings. Once I got “clean” again, I was fine.
  • I’ve lost a lot of weight. I know I keep saying it isn’t just about weight loss, but I have been tracking my losses. To date, I’ve lost 88 pounds and dropped 12 sizes. I no longer have to shop in plus size departments (except for bathing suits  and some fancy dresses apparently). At first weight loss was part of it. I wanted to be under a 100 pounds. Once I got there, I stopped weighing in so regularly. I might step on a scale once a month at this point, just to make sure I’m on track. I’m assuming when I get to a certain weight the losses will stop. If I ever feel I’m getting too thin (not an issue yet) I will think about adjusting my foods.
  • These are the badges I've earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    These are the badges I’ve earned since getting my Fitbit® in Jan, 2013.

    I have walked/run an amazing 3,348,000 steps or approximately 1,540 miles. (Not to be confused with the 3,000,000 steps for this calendar year.) Getting in my 8,000 steps/day is a habit, and I rarely let anything, including weather or bad moods, keep me from doing it. I park at the farthest parking spot when I shop. I take the stairs over the elevator. I walk to local businesses rather than drive. I don’t even think about it now. I just do it.

  • I run faster than I ever have in my life. A year ago my normal run was between 1 and 2 miles and I was running 15 min miles. I had one fast run that month (13:37/mile) and one long run (3.5 miles). Now my runs are usually between 3 and 5 miles, with longer runs every other week. My pace is usually in the 11’s with some fast runs in the mid-10’s (twice this month I ran 3.1 at 10:20-something pace).

2e57b67b41c1c5ce75ee3ae8e19621ffSo here I am, 48 years old. A year ago I felt old. I felt tired. I had lost my spark.

One year later I feel more confident in myself. I have some sparkle again. I feel younger than I have in years, and more capable. I feel like I’m falling back in love with myself and it is giving me more energy than I’ve had throughout my forties.

My choices might not work for everyone. In fact, they might not work for anyone but myself. But that is okay, because it is totally working out for me. I have a year of proof!

3 plus 6 zeros!

So I logged onto Fitbit® today and two wonderful things happened:

First, I found out that Fitbit® fixed its dashboard. For a while it wasn’t showing the totals properly, but as you can see on the screenshot ->

I missed the actual day I hit 3,000,000 steps. It was Friday, November 14

I missed the actual day I hit 3,000,000 steps. It was Friday, November 14

Me doing the happy dance!

Me doing the happy dance!

Second, I realized that I actually hit my 3,000,000 step goal.

This is such a huge accomplishment for me. And to have faithfully stuck with it all year-long is amazing.

I’m not giving up on my daily step goal and I plan to see how many extra steps I will do in the last six weeks left to this year. (Can you believe this year is almost over?) If I push myself, I could potentially do another 500,000 steps, so I think I’m going to shoot for that. (Although the cold weather might make that a little challenging).

Now it is time to think about what my goals and challenges for next year will be.

Marked at Birth

Why do "selfies" get such a bad rap? I love selfies. It is usually the only way I end up in the pic.

Why do “selfies” get such a bad rap? I love selfies. It is usually the only way I end up in the pic.

I’m doing so great with my “love my body” and self acceptance lately! I frequently look a myself in the mirror without criticism. I take and post pics of myself with my family and post them on Facebook. I don’t make negative comments about myself or apologize for the space I take in the universe. I’ve even come to like (not yet love) my scars for proving I’ve survived! I’ve made so much progress in this area that I think I’m doing great. Until I’m not. And I’m reminded that I have a lot farther to go and a lot more work to do.

The latest reminder came a few weeks ago when a clerk asked me “What happened to your face?” Let me start by saying that that is not a good question. Ever. If someone has a large green dot on their nose and you are a stranger and don’t know if that is the natural part of their appearance, don’t ask that question.

greennoseI don’t have a large green dot on my nose, but I do have a large red blob above my right eye. It is a birthmark, meaning I was born with it and it is sometimes called a port-wine stain because it looks as if someone spilled red wine on linen. In my life I’ve seen a few other people with similar stains on their face. Some are smaller and less noticeable and others are much larger and much more noticeable. I know mine could be much worse. It is off to the side, not across my whole face, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve aways hated it.

angelWhen I was younger my grandmother told me that the birthmark was so the angels could always find me. I think I believed it for a while, and then I didn’t. I remember my mother was upset that the photographer airbrushed it out of my High School graduation picture, but I was thrilled. Friends and family always tell me they “forget” I have it or don’t notice it but I see it every time I look in the mirror. Unless I wanted to wear heavy concealer makeup (it pretty much bleeds through regular foundation) I am stuck with it.

When I was in my early thirties I had laser surgery to remove it once and for all. It cost over a thousand dollars, was extremely painful, and took several months of going back for multiple treatments. When all was said and done it was almost (but not completely) gone. The last treatment was the worst. The doctor knew I was out of money and he tried to remove as much as he could. My forehead was scabbed painfully for weeks and I had a bad reaction to the prednisone he prescribed.

But it was worth it because, for the first time in my life, I was birthmark free. For a while, anyway. It was cosmetic and superficial, but I loved having a “normal” face. I loved looking at my face and didn’t mind getting my picture taken. But my relief was relatively short-lived.

wine-glass-spilledAfter 5 or 6 years I thought the faint shadow was getting darker. Friends told me it was my imagination, but I was sure that little by little the birthmark was coming back. I knew it wasn’t my imagination the first time little kid asked me, “Hey, did you get hurt?” and pointed a his own forehead. I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. Since then, the birthmark has come back.  It looks different than it did before the laser treatments. Some areas are lighter, some areas are much darker. Even the shape has changed.

And while the people closest to me assure me it doesn’t matter, I can’t help but think that is a lie every time a stranger asks about it. I work in schools so children ask about it all the time. I can sometimes get three or four comments in a day. That bothers me a lot less than when adults say something. I don’t think these adults are being mean. They probably think I’ve been in a car accident or beat up by my boyfriend or something. But really, should they ask?

I probably shouldn’t let it bother me. I should come up with funny responses and laugh about it. But I don’t. I just say it’s a birthmark and then both me and the person who made the comment share an uncomfortable moment. They don’t know what to say or do and frankly, neither do I.

This is my actual birthmark above my right eye.

This is my actual birthmark above my right eye.

I think my birthmark must be getting darker lately (it can change with the weather) because I’ve gotten more than the usual number of comments. So I have my body-love work cut out for me. How can I learn to accept this part of myself that I have never liked?

Do me a favor, okay. Before you write any comments that tell me it’s not so bad or it isn’t noticeable, don’t. It may not be noticeable or important to you, but it is very noticeable and important to me. Instead, tell me about the parts of yourself you struggle with or how you overcame those feelings. Thanks.

Home Stretch

I’m pretty upset – not at my October statistics (those are pretty good) but at how fitbit changed their website. I used to be able to type in my start date and end date and get a nice graphic that gave me my total steps, miles, and calories for the time frame. Now, I just get a graph. I had to manually add up my daily totals to get my monthly total. (ok, I used a spreadsheet, but I had to manually enter each number – sheesh!)

The good news is I walked a total of 353,963 steps in October, a new monthly record. I also set a few other records this month, including the highest daily total (33,273) and highest two-day total (58,537) over Columbus Day weekend. I also ran 50.12 miles this month, making it my best running month also, but still short of my 55 mile goal.

I’m less than 160,000 steps from my 3,000,000 goal. I had 26 days with over 8,000 steps. Of those, 18 days were over 10,000 steps and a whopping 9 days were over 14,000 steps.

The Opposite of Vacation

facepalmcatTo all those who have been reading my blog this past year, I apologize for being absent this past month. I’d like to say that my absence was due to some wonderful, personal experience like an extended vacation on a tropical island with no Internet, but the truth is, I’ve just been very (VERY) busy and something had to give. Unfortunately for the past month “what gives” was my blogging. (And TV, I’ve watched almost no television for the past month, which is very unusual for me.) I tried giving up housework, but after a few days I couldn’t function and had to give up sleep just to get my house back in order.

The good news is that I’ve been busy with mostly good things. I am lucky enough to have a job I love, a large wonderful family, and a daughter who, at 20, still thinks she needs me. Despite all these crazy obligations, I have tried very hard to stick to some of my own personal commitments to myself. I have mostly been successful with sticking to my food program and my step goal. I will work on my October update later, when I have time to look at my actual numbers, but I’ve been pretty good at getting in my 8,000 daily steps, and running 3 times per week.

But without the blog grounding me, I find it getting harder and harder to motivate myself. The accountability is gone. I still get in some tweets in on a regular basis, but it isn’t the same thing. With the weather getting colder, pushing myself out the door to workout takes a lot more willpower, and some days it is easier to jus say, “eh? whatever!”

I left a full bowl of candy outside my door. This is what was left when I came home. Srsly??

I left a full bowl of candy outside my door. This is what was left when I came home. Srsly??

And the food issues are starting to get harder too. I’m mostly on program, but as I’ve explained before, mostly is my actual undoing. I felt this most acutely over Halloween weekend. It started with a slice of NY pizza and a handful of candy corn, which would have been fine, but ended up with a bag full of mini candies the trick-or-treaters left me.

I’ll be honest, some of my recent 5 mile runs were motivated more by the thought of some extra food I ate (or planned on eating) rather than the joy of exercises. This is dangerous for me (for reasons I’ve explained) so now I feel like I need to nip this in the bud. Which means somehow getting back to my roots.

I started with the food first. I went back to strict “cold turkey” status, and after a few days the cravings and anxiety subsided. Next, I started focusing my last few runs on enjoying the run, rather than focusing on how fast I was running. That helped considerably. Yesterday’s five-mile run was a much slower pace, but I enjoyed it more and didn’t feel like I’d been run over after I was done.

So food, √
exercise √

All that was left was accountability. I started by stepping on the scale for the first time in a month. I don’t know what I expected (probably a 5 lb gain) or how I would feel about it, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn I had lost 2 lbs. That caused me to re-evaluate myself a little. Remember, this isn’t about weight loss, but feeling in control. If I never lose another pound, I need to keep doing this to stay healthy and in control of my life. I know that sticking to my plan absolutely helps me feel this control, but now I know that I can meander off the path and not completely lose it.

goalsSo back to accountability: If the scale isn’t what I need to be accountable, what is? And that is why I’m sitting here writing this blog post. Telling my truth to anyone who is interested enough to read it. And so I’m going to have to jettison something else in my life for a while (not sure what) because I think I need this blog as much as I need my yogurt and almonds every morning and my 8,000 steps.