Monday, January 19, 2015

Marion's Update: Bowl Sizes, Blood Oranges & A New Gym

Here is my update about what I am doing new for eating and fitness:

1.This week, I am giving a TOPS talk about plate and bowl sizes that I use at my home. I will be bringing in a box of various plates and bowls to show the vast difference between my tiny ice cream bowl (1/2 cup fills it) to my very large salad bowl (no more lettuce falling over the edge). I have 5 different sized meal/snack plates and 8 different sized bowls that I use for various reasons, which I will explain during my talk.

2. I continue to try new healthy foods--blood oranges were on sale. I tried them. How do they taste? For me to know, and for you to find out!!! That's the fun of food exploration!

3. I have found myself in the situation of needing a new gym. I thought this would feel very sad--because I've been going to the same gym since I actually started to love working out in January 2007.  That is a super long time, filled with great gym friends and wonderful memories.

However, the gym's new administrator recently moved the free weights for weightlifting into a racketball room on a different floor than the main gym. So if I wanted a drink of water from the water fountain, I had to run up the stairs for that. If I wanted to do dips or use the lat pull down machine, I had to run upstairs for that and back downstairs again. I spent too much time running back and forth in between sets.

Further, we used to have 3 standard bench press benches, but that was reduced to only one, due to the much smaller size of the new weightlifting room. There were adjustable cages that could technically be used for bench press, but it took me 10 minutes to get it set up and adjusted in tiny ways several times to finally get it just how I liked it, which I never would have had to do with a standard bench press bench that is all ready to go.

All of the serious weightlifting guys left for a different gym within the first month of this new gym setup. So my old gym friends aren't around anymore anyhow. The bottom line is that--we want to enjoy / love our workout. This situation of wasting time by running up and down stairs between floors and setting up for bench press because no standard bench press was available was incredibly annoying and not any fun at all.

On the bright side, I live in a city filled with gyms. I went to a different gym yesterday, which is still covered by my gym membership. This gym is about 10 minutes further away from my house (20 minutes round-trip) than my old gym but I loved it!!! This "Strength Area" of the gym was ultra spacious and very well-equipped. Dips are right beside 3 standard bench press benches. There was plenty of room to do some yoga poses in between weightlifting sets. 3 places to do chin-ups. The water fountains (2 next to each other for no waiting) were right in the weightlifting area.

My old gym is using a new business model, which I think is more focused on cardio and senior citizens. Instead of taking this personally, I adjusted. --which is what we all have to be willing to do when health or fitness situations take a turn that we don't like at all.

When we get injured, gain weight, or our gym/fitness plan no longer works, what do we personally do about it? Our personal answers have *everything* to do with how successful we remain with our health and fitness over the years. Things change, whether we like it or not, and we must continually adjust ourselves to thrive.

What do *you* think? Do you use different sized plates and bowls for different reasons? What foods have you tried recently? Have you had a fitness or eating upset that you handled well lately? All of these things are about continuing a life-long healthy lifestyle, and I'm always interested in hearing about your ideas. :-)

Have a Delightful Day!

:-) Marion

Monday, January 12, 2015

Making Smart Fitness Goals for 2015

Happy New Year! Did you make resolutions? In this post, I am discussing my fitness goals for 2015 and how to make smart fitness goals.

I've been consistently exercising since January 1, 2007! Though fitness has made me look younger, during these many years (8 years) of exercising, I've seen myself collecting birthdays (aka getting older), injuring easier, and healing slower and less completely.

Last year, I came to a hard-learned conclusion: I'd rather walk without pain more than to attempt reckless exercises. I came to this conclusion from experiencing a painful knee injury for nearly half a year in 2014. This was awful.

I injured/devastated my knee last year while doing new year's fitness goals. In hindsight, these were reckless fitness goals. I was not even going to make fitness goals last year, but somebody wanted to do a goal with me. I told her that I would take my time at it, and not complete it if I felt it was too much strain on my body. <-- Look, I was already thinking that it was probably not a good fitness goal for myself.

The meaning of fitness has gone crazy in our culture of "No Pain, No Gain." If you can do sports more or better, should you do it? This is much like the question of: If you can jump out of an airplane, should you do it? And: If you have jumped out of the airplane at a lower height, does that mean you should jump out of the airplane that is higher? How high?

When does enough become enough? When do fitness goals go over the brink into recklessness?

We love to enjoy competitors' best moments, but do we also factor in their devastating injuries? There are too few articles about sports injuries.  Injuries are more common and serious than portrayed by media.

I am very fortunate to have older gym friends who frequently told me:

"Don't run just because you can," and
"Why go faster (on elliptical), nobody is giving a prize,"

and even more importantly,

"No prize or trophy is worth blowing out a joint." 

For some of us, it shows much more willpower to restrain ourselves to conserve our joints than to go for a medallion or trophy.

When we approach fitness goals, do we only have short-termed goals of feeling victorious? Or are we envisioning how this goal will affect us when we are 20, 30, or even 40 years older? Older gym friends have reminded me that they still feel ramifications of injuries from 10 or 20 years ago.

What fitness goals are reckless? This depends upon your body's age and circumstances.

We should never mindlessly follow someone else's fitness goals or guidelines. If something feels wrong during yoga class, it is your responsibility to your body to stop doing that pose--even if every other person in the group keeps doing the pose. Ignore the peer pressure. If the government states that "everyone" should be walking for 30 minutes a day, but your knee starts hurting while walking, you should listen to Dr. Knee, the knee that knows best for you.

You also need to listen to Dr. Shoulder, Dr. Foot, Dr. Ankle, Dr. Elbow, and Dr. Hip. If your joint starts to send you messages, listen to them before the injury happens. There are usually warning signs before the big injury happens-- listen to those warning signs and stop your exercise. Joints don't send messages for no reason--heed the message.

Stop exercising before you become physically exhausted and can't do proper exercise form anymore. I have injured myself due to exercising while sick. I've also injured myself when exercising while being overly tired. Both were reckless and unnecessary injuries. I have learned to feel the 10 minutes-before-exhaustion feeling so that I can stop while I am still great exercise form.

Not every cool fitness goal is a good one for us personally. We need to consider our ages, our flexibility limitations, our strength limitations, our endurance limitations, our joint limitations. Just because our muscles are up to the goal does not mean our joints are up to it.

Exercising bigger/faster/more is not better for fitness in the long-term. I have a Fitbit, and I hardly ever walk the recommended 10,000 steps a day. The fact that I usually walk approximately 6,500 to 7,000 steps per day or so, seems like the perfect amount for me.

I used to do up to 300 pushups per day, 1 day per week but that caused shoulder soreness. So I listened to Dr. Shoulder, and limit my pushups to: 100 pushups per day, 1 day per week. Dr. Shoulder is happy now.

I am arguing that we should include the long-term goal of "feeling good" into our concept of fitness. "Feeling good" means that we strategically try to avoid painful injuries, don't exercise on injuries, and conserve our joints for future decades of feeling good.

Accordingly, my main fitness goal of 2015 is to try to achieve a year of feeling good without any reckless injuries. I resolve to have smart safety rules/limits which incorporate the ideas above to strategically avoid reckless/unnecessary injuries. And beyond that, I want to enjoy my fitness. Exercise is very fun. :-)

What do you think? I guess I'm being the "old gym friend" here, who wants you to avoid needless fitness injuries. I hope these ideas are as useful to you as they are to me. :-)

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tried-and-Proven Eating Advice For the New Year

Hi Friends! I hope your holidays were super, and you got to see your favorite people, and you weren't too stressed out. (I get stressed out from the holidays, but I'm feeling better already!) I also hope that you succeeded in eating in a salvageable way. However, whatever you ate, do not give up hope. Because...

Today, I'm giving some practical eating advice for the new year.

As always, if you have medical conditions of any sort, follow your doctor's eating advice. :-)

1) Eat certain foods generously so that you do not feel starving and cranky. Each day, you should generously eat food like:
  • raw vegetables with skin intact (with no sauce or dressing)
  • eggs prepared with a little cooking oil
  • apples and oranges
  • a pack of frozen mixed vegetables made with low-calorie broth into a soup
Not everyone will agree to the above list, but I have never known anyone to gain weight from eating raw carrots, chomping on celery, nibbling on green pepper strips, eating a heap of scrambled eggs, or by eating a few whole apples or oranges every day.These are the types of foods to eat generously so that you don't feel like a hollow person who never eats enough. Personally, I've never been able to stomach more than 4 eggs at a time without feeling very done with them. If you feel like eating 4 eggs to get full, do that. Get to that point where you don't want more eggs. Sometimes, I just want to eat as much soup as I want, and I can do that with my mixed-vegetable soup. Use these types of foods so that you can eat enough to feel like you can continue on a long-term basis to watch your weight.

Oh, and if you still feel hungry after eating your eggs, eat another egg. I eat fairly huge omelets (3 eggs and 2 egg whites) so that I avoid mindlessly nibbling on calorie-dense snacks all day long. These huge omelets help keep that excess weight off. I can go for up to 6 to 8 hours without any food after eating a big plate of eggs.

2) Avoid all foods with sugar and flour as ingredients. You should avoid:
  • bread
  • crackers
  • cookies
  • tortillas
  • candy
  • ice cream
  • tortillas
  • pancakes
  • waffles
  • muffins
  • cupcakes
  • cake
  • brownies
  • pita bread
  • English muffins
  • bagels
  • noodles and pasta
  • pizza crust
  • buns, etc...
Many people, including myself, also avoid grains. In all honesty, sometimes, I do have a small portion of one of the above items, but I view that as a "dessert," even if it is small part of pizza crust, and it is an exception to my daily diet. For nearly two years, I've gotten by without all of that sugar-y and bread-y food, immediately dropping weight from avoiding these foods. I look better and feel better from avoiding these foods, and you will too. Plus, those horrible carb cravings that make you want food all of the time--stop torturing you.

3) A moderate amount of fat in your diet will help you.

I cook my eggs in a dab of bacon grease. I eat 60 calorie slices of cheese melted onto mixed vegetables. I add a teaspoon or two of butter to my bowl of cooked carrots. I eat peanut butter. I also have been known to eat an entire avocado as a light meal. All of these little servings of fat help me keep my weight down. It sounds ironic, but fat-free bread makes me fat, but a cheese slice and a pat of butter helps keep me slimmer. Why? There is a satiety feeling that a person gets from having some fat everyday. You can watch your weight better on the long-term with the satiety feeling that comes from fat in your diet. Of course, too much fat is too much fat.

4) Fill up the rest of your daily calories with lean proteins and vegetables. 

However, I think I should say, people can overeat healthy foods. There are lots of people who overeat healthy food, and keep excess poundage on them for overeating. Your weight corresponds to your calories that you eat. So if you feel like you want to go crazy with any type of food, I suggest you go up to the "eat generously" food list above. Sometimes, I eat 3 oranges in a row, if I really want to, and that does not make me gain weight. However, I can easily overeat too many calories of roast beef or chicken.

5) Stop overeating as fast as you can.

If you find yourself overeating, as I did during Christmas break, stop overeating as soon as you can. I used to say, I already ate too much, who cares about how I eat the rest of today?!!! 

The old the-gates-of-food-hell-already-broke-open-so-I-may-as-well-go-in feeling of desperation.

Then, I'd add even more calories to complete a full day of overeating. Well, I'm going to tell you that since I cut those binges short, the weight has stayed off. A small overeat does not equal a day-long binge. A big overeat still is much less than a day-long binge. A day-long binge is less than a multiple-day binge or a week-long binge. Stop your food craziness as quickly as you can. The faster you can stop overeating, the slimmer you will be. 

Lastly, I have kept my weight goal for this entire year. Sometimes, keeping my former excess pounds off was very hard (Halloween/Thanksgiving time) and other times, it was really easy, but I kept within the pound range I set for myself. I am very happy with myself because this is a form of honoring myself.

What do *you* think? Does anyone else have any great eating advice? Place it in the comments below. There are some readers who are very happy to hear about your tried-and-proven eating advice that helps you keep excess weight off. And, of course, any other comments or ideas that you may have are welcome.

Have a Super Day and a Happy New Year! Eat well!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Gains Lots of Holiday Weight: Bad Attitude

Thanksgiving is done and gone. I had a great holiday, and hope you did too. Some of us did awesomely with that eating holiday, while others of us did not. I was somewhere in the middle of that range.

However, some bad eating days does not automatically doom me to a big weight gain for the holiday season. One thing I've learned is that *attitude* plays a large part in determining the amount of pounds gained during a holiday season.

Let me explain. Years ago, when I weighed much more, I would do the same thing of overeating on Thanksgiving day. Then I'd eat too much pie and other leftovers on Black Friday. By that time, I'd feel like I was going down that greasy slide of indulgent holiday eating to the very pits, with no way to change it. Day after day, I overate rich holiday food, feeling like there was nothing I could do about it. By New Years Day, I'd always gained 10 or more pounds -- that were not water weight.

What is different now is that I recognize and deal with that bad attitude that goes along with many days of overeating in a row. In all honesty, this year, I did get that despairing feeling of sliding to my doom, but when I recognized it, I jumped off the slide.

I had an apples and eggs day. Seriously, there are only so many apples I want to eat per day. Even more so for eggs--eggs taste fairly disgusting if you eat too many of them. It was a great jolt out of holiday eating.

Something that I did not really understand when I was 50 pounds heavier: Feeling proud of myself feels far better than incessant holiday food tastes. I remember the very terrible feeling I had about myself when I ate holiday food, day after day, for more than an entire month. It crushes the self esteem. Days upon days of troubling thoughts of irreconcilable joyous holiday/personal unhappiness about overeating internal conflict.

During my apples and eggs day, I honestly didn't enjoy my food that much, but I enjoyed that I felt like a great version of myself. I was back in control of my health, keeping off weight, with goals of keeping my joints in good condition and avoiding unnecessary medications.

There is a saying that "Nothing tastes as good as slim feels." I don't agree with that. In a random moment, I've completely forgotten my weight goals and ate a food that zinged my brain like fireworks.

However, something I really believe: "Nothing tastes as good as confidence and pride in myself." That is my mantra. So once in a while I have bad eating moments, even an entire day or two, but very soon, I get fed up with feeling like a failure about eating and set myself straight.

How do you keep from gaining lots of holiday weight? You force yourself to get a better attitude.

You quit feeling sorry for yourself that you can't eat "whatever you want." Actually, you can do that, many people do, and it's your real choice. But you realize that it's a terrible choice for so many awful reasons.

You remind yourself that eating eggs and apples (or whatever is your low-carb re-boot food) for a day actually does feel much better than giving up on yourself and your dreams. At the end of the day, you feel back in control -- Queen of My World, Captain of My Destiny, or whatever you call yourself when you take charge of your life.

You remind yourself that during sometime in your past, you did turn your eating around--so it is very possible for you to stop days of bad eating--this very day. Today! You have the power to do this!

The sooner you stop bad attitude about eating, the less damage it does to your weight.

What do *you* think? I hope you are each taking charge of your eating for this holiday season.

Have a warm cozy day!

:-) Marion

Monday, November 17, 2014

What's Motivating Me: Food-wise and Exercise-wise

On top of my agenda, what is motivating me food-wise and exercise-wise.

Food-wise: I am linking two very interesting articles.

One is a National Geographic article regarding what "ancestors" of different areas of the world eat. As you would suspect, what certain people eat in one country, as local food, is vastly different than what other people in a different country eat. This article is pointing out that "paleo" eating, as it is described, is inaccurate regarding what primitive people ate. Sometimes, people didn't eat meat for a long time, if meat was scarce. Also, the photos of the food varieties were inspiring--it makes you want to try new food.

Link: The Evolution of Diet

The second article  is called, "You are What Your Bacteria Eat: The Importance of Feeding Your Microbiome." This is regarding The Gut Project and feeding the bacterias that live inside you. Different people have different percentiles of different types of bacteria in their gut and in and on their bodies. Since it is such a huge amount of bacteria, scientists are now talking about feeding our bodies not just as a single organism but as a complex system of organisms. Given that certain bacteria like certain types of food, the reasoning is that you can eat in a way that encourages good gut bacteria and discourages the bad gut bacteria. The problem is that we dont' really know the optimal percentiles of each type of gut bacteria. However, there seems to be a general consensus that eating sugar and flour are a bad thing and encourages the wrong things to happen in our bodies. In any case, I've felt encourage to eat a wider variety of foods after reading this article.

Link: You are What Your Bacteria Eat: The Importance of Feeding Your Microbiome

Regarding variety, here are some of the foods I ate in the last week: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, tangerine, pomegranate, soybean "nuts," peanuts, green pepper, onion, tomato, cottage cheese, beef, bacon, eggs, unflavored Greek yogurt, carrots, green beans, corn, peas, beets, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, Italian seasoning, curry seasoning, dried apricots, avocado, American cheese, milk, feta cheese, ...

Exercise-wise: I am still cautious about my knee, hurt in March, that is newly feeling so much better. My doctor told me: healing from injuries takes much longer than people think; several months longer than we think. I am still doing rehab knee exercises. But I am also slowly re-introducing exercises back into the routine. My latest re-introduction was my Warrior/Triangle vinyasa, which is a series of 5 yoga poses that flow into each other, which stretch the legs in various ways. Stretching is extreme exercise, so I proceed cautiously, not wanting to go backwards in my healing process. But so far, it's been good! I've been walking regularly with no problems either. So yes, just feeling mostly back to normal is incredibly motivational!

Other news: I'm not going to formally do January Jeans Club this year. I'm going to do it for myself mentally, as I always do, but I'm not going to be blogging about it. My reason for not doing it is that it takes too much time and energy out of this already busy holiday season. On top of everything else, It really wore me out last year. So if somebody else wants to host January Jeans Club, I'd be happy to steer people toward your blogging of it. And I'd also give you the links to last year's January Jeans Club postings--because a lot of this can be reused--you don't have to reinvent the wheel. So let me know...

Leaving you with a magical song that you definitely know:

Even my husband was singing along. :-)

Have a Delightful Day!

:-) Marion

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How Am I Keeping the Weight Off?

I've been bobbling around in this 5 pound range for a year and a half now. That is long enough to call it steady--a new weight set point, maintenance of over 65 pounds lost.

So how am I keeping that weight off? Losing the weight is one thing, but keeping it off is quite different. For one thing, keeping it off doesn't have any thrilling dynamic to it. Nobody is still saying, "Wow, you look great!" because everyone said that over a year ago. I am nothing new or exciting. People in my life have something new and shiny to focus on.

But I, personally, keep this weight, even when my attention span and enthusiasm are not at their highest. How? I believe it is a combination of things.

This weight loss was important to me. It was not a superficial change, just about looks. It was more about me mastering my own habits. It was about me overcoming excess food as a weakness. It was about me getting more positive about my life and my self, without needing excess food as an upper to balance out negativity. It is about me not living a victimized life, in which I need excess food to make me feel stronger and more comfortable. It is about people simply seeing me -- not just reviewing my weight issues as a first impression. Things like that matter a great deal to me, apparently much more than excess food that I sacrifice.

I truly enjoy my new healthy lifestyle. I am not a perfect eater, for sure. However, I do get very excited about making and eating acorn squash, toasting acorn squash seeds, eating beet salad, baking apple chips, fresh herbs, making a big pot of cooked carrots, when the split peas finally burst into creamy split pea soup, grinding fresh peppercorns over my eggs before I make an omelet, eating an avocado, my pomegranate, my new cardamom black tea, and other related healthy food fun. It took time to get to this health food happiness, but once it happened, it has saved me from temptation of many foods I should not eat, because I am truly happy eating these healthier foods.

I have learned to get excited about more fun things in life. I love working out at the gym and seeing my gym buddies, a deep happiness which made my need for excess food excitement to decrease. Every exuberant life happiness decreases the need to use excess food as superficial happiness. So sometimes, my blog posts about swing music seem to be a tangent, but I assure you, they are definitely not. Being thrilled about great songs has kept me from many fattening treats. Enjoying my dog has also kept me from overeating on many occasions. Reading great books also raises my spirits. A shopping day with great buys, whether at the grocery store or the department store, is also a mood lifter.

My weekly tools are still tremendous. My weekly TOPS meeting keeps me focused on a 7 day cycle of eating, which is not that long. The weekly weigh-ins, which I do share with anyone in the group, is all about honesty to myself in a way I can share with friends. We have little fines for weekly gains, which I think keep me more focused, when the rest of the world is vying for every bit of my attention.

My daily rules and tools are still awesome, and save me so many times. All fall, I have typically eaten either eggs/omelet and/or apples, and nothing else until late afternoon. So when people ask if I want a donut, that is not apples or eggs, is it? No. So I say no. Little patterns and rules, such as keeping a daily food journal even if I eat badly that day, go a very long way in keeping weight down. I often surprise myself when I say "No," to food that I sort of expected myself to say yes to! But that is what rules, patterns, and tools do, they save you when you lack will power, which is quite often, especially if you're exhausted with other details of life.

When people say that keeping weight off is a balancing act, I agree. It takes practice to learn how to do, and some days, it really does feel like juggling these ideas I raise in the above paragraphs. I can honestly say that I don't feel intuitive about how I eat now, especially considering that I overate for nearly 20 years of my life. I can't change that long vivid history of overeating that is the elephant in the room some days, but I do know how to happily live at a lighter weight with a more detailed sort of thinking about it.

However, I still don't know if it is possible to keep off the weight without internalizing it. At some point, this became a part of life where I am the leader of my health, depending on no other person to motivate me on a daily basis. All of the weight loss meeting leaders, diet gurus, and gym trainers are not as good of a coach as you are to yourself when something is very important to you. When it gets deeply important to you, it truly changes you. You deeply understand the value of eating less to be the person you want to be. And that happened to me. It took several years for me to evolve to my current frame of mind, with each year having me get into sharper focus about what I wanted for myself. 

So that is how I best describe how I am keeping the pounds off. 

What do *you* think? What are your approaches for keeping the pounds off? What do you do to live happily that lessens your urge to eat excess food? And any other comments and ideas that you have.

Have a Super Day!

:-) Marion

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If You Saw Me Eat Today, It Could Easily be Misunderstood....

Today, I was thinking about how I used to see a slimmer woman eating a big meal and be very jealous that she could eat like that. What kind of monster better-than-men metabolism did that lady have?!!

Tonight, I had that sort of big meal, about 1000 calories. I had a big piece of cheesy calzone. It looked like I could eat as much as I wanted! I ate like those slimmer women that I used to be jealous of!

But...what you also need to know is the context. Prior to dinner, I ate 3 apples and a fun-sized candy bar, approximately 450 calories total for the entire day before supper came. By the time we ate at 5:30 p.m., I was very hungry from not eating much all day long. I probably ate a total of 1600 calories today, which, even with the bigger dinner, is within a good calorie range for me.

We like to imagine that certain slimmer women are gorging themselves with big meals all day long. But a lot of slimmer people I know don't eat much for many hours in a row, and then eat a bigger sized meal. Anyone can fit a bigger meal into their daily diet if they eat very lightly for the rest of the day. I used to eat very lightly until a good sized dinner that during all of my college years, much like I ate today, which worked well for me.

You can eat your daily calories whenever you want, and in small meals or big meals, so long as the calories add up to be in your daily calorie range.

What do *you* think? As always, I like to hear your opinion.

Have a fabulous day!

:-) Marion

P.S. I got all 10 leaves possible for the first 2 weeks of the TOPS contest. :-)