Charting My Weight – Gaining Perspective

A friend, Tish MacWebber, manages the blog Trust Your Gut. This past week, I have been a guest blogger and am glad to share the post HERE. Just click and have a look at “Charting my Weight – Gaining Perspective.” The post looks at my learnings from over 40 years of weight charting. All my best … Alexandra

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Check-in: mid-October

Last month I pledged to stop drinking diet cola products. I have read that diet soda may contribute to poor health by harming metabolism. They also contain acids to damage teeth and may contribute to cell damage. For a good article on this subject, see:

http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/is-diet-soda-bad-for-you

It has been harder to stop drinking these products than I thought. Although I have definitely cut way back on my drinks of diet pop, I still have moments when I am tired and drinking diet soda is an easy thing to do.

I am going to redouble my efforts, buying concentrated cranberry juice and lime juice to add to my water. Having a little flavour in my water would help make it my first choice!

I have added another pledge to my list – to measure the margarine I add to toast and other foods. It tastes good, so a slather is sometimes a good description of the amount I apply! I know I should be adding a little margarine to my food, not adding some food to my margarine!

My list of pledges to my son so far is:

  • July: I pledged to not eat French fries. French fries are not good for me and other choices are always available. In three months I have only had French fries twice.
  • August: I pledged to eat only small servings of ice cream. My son said this was not to allow me to eat ice cream every day!!! For two months, I have had only small servings of ice cream!
  • September: I pledged not to drink diet or regular cola. I have definitely cut back, but I have to re-double my efforts.
  • October: I pledge to add only measured amounts of margarine to toast or vegetables.

 

drinking water

All my best,

Alexandra

 

check-in: almost September

My first check-in on my summer 2016 program has arrived. How have I done? I have not lost any weight, but I have some progress to report:

  • I cycled on my stationary bike every second day (Phase 5 of my virtual journey along the St. John River). Days 5-1 to 5-6 took me from Edmundston to just south of Rivière Verte.
  • I did less eating in the evening after 9:00. It helps that my husband is also trying not to eat after 9 PM.
  • I have planned and started my next six days of cycling – Rivière Verte to Saint Leonard.

I also made three pledges to my son during the summer. Making a promise to my son about my diet is more likely to succeed than a pledge to any other person I know! I have chosen small changes that I feel will benefit my well-being. Also, by keeping these small promises, I give my self-esteem and confidence a boost.

  • July: I pledged to not eat French fries. French fries are not good for me and other choices are always available. In two months I have not had French fries once!
  • August: I pledged to eat only small servings of ice cream. My son said this was not to allow me to eat ice cream every day!!! Actually, I eat ice cream about once a week and a small cone is a much better choice than a large cone! For one month, I have had only small servings of ice cream!
  • September: This could be a hard one. Yesterday I pledged not to drink diet or regular cola. Often it is the easy choice, but I love water and can flavour it with a bit of lime.

I’ll do another check-in at the end of September.

All the best!

Alexandra

 

drinking water

taking away stumbling blocks

I have done regular exercise on my stationary bike since February of 2013. Regular means 30 minutes every second day. Sometimes I falter at this goal (we all do) and I have to find ways to put myself back on track.

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About six months ago I realised I was biking less and less frequently. When I looked at the reasons for this, it came down to one thing. I didn’t like going down to the basement to do my biking. First, even though I made a nice space for my stationary bike, the basement is so isolated from the rest of the house going down there was very unappealing. Second, when I do go to the basement, I felt I should take the opportunity to start a laundry, empty the drier, sweep the floor, clean the cat’s litter box, etc. I was tangling exercise up with work I have to do. The sum total – I was finding all sorts of excuses not to go to the basement and put a half hour on my bike!

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Alexandra dismayed

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My exercise bike is super heavy, so moving it up stairs ourselves was not an option. So I took what seemed a ridiculous step. I phoned a moving company to come and move my bike from the basement to the top floor. Two strong men arrived at the door and carried my bike to the top floor without a pause for a rest!

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Now my bike is in a convenient place where I can use it without excuses. I am most motivated to exercise when I get up in the morning and there it is, right in the path on the way to the rest of my day. Since moving my bike upstairs, I am using it more often and getting lots of reading done (it is brighter upstairs too!).

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Alexandra proud of herself

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If you encounter a stumbling block to your best daily routine, I hope my story will help you to put yourself back on track.

  • analyse the problem and determine a solution
  • put the solution into action, even if it involves some input of energy or money

At the time, my solution seemed radical, even silly. But in the long run, my health is my most important consideration!

~

All the best,

Alexandra

a new goal

A year ago, I decided that losing one pound per week over the next year would be a good goal. After all, one pound per week is not so hard. Right??? Right.
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Although setting a goal was a good thing, I may have been unrealistic in my expectations. When it comes to weight loss, one year is a big chunk to tackle. I have read that aiming for a 5-10% loss of weight may be a more realistic, attainable goal.
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So, my new long term goal is to aim to lose 5% of my weight during the next three months. That would be 13 pounds.
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To do this, I will do the following:
1. reduce the amount of fat in my diet and eat more fruit and vegetables
2. keep track of my daily eating and exercise using MyFitnessPal http://www.myfitnesspal.com/
3. keep up my routine of morning stretches and stationary cycling
4. reward myself for progress
5. weigh myself once per week (Wednesday) and report my progress here (see Weight tab above)
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Best always,
Alexandra

February exercise

So, we are into March at last.  There are still two feet of snow on the ground where I live, but there are small signs that spring is on the way.  The sun is up by 6:30, the roof is dripping in today’s bright sun, and I have some things for April in my calendar.

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Last month I pledged to go on my stationary cycle every second day. Hmmm.  I am proud that I continued to exercise during the month, but I fell short of my goal.  I biked 11 times during the month, a little more often than every third day.

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I think my goal will stand for March – I will plan to bike every second day.  Perhaps as the ice melts and the snow goes, I will do some more walking too.

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Best always, Alexandra

Alexandra reading, not eating

Date Cycle Weights Walk Date Cycle Weights Walk
Feb. 1  #  # Feb. 17
Feb. 2  # Feb. 18
Feb. 3  # Feb. 19  #
Feb. 4  # Feb. 20
Feb. 5  # Feb. 21  #  #
Feb. 6 Feb. 22
Feb. 7 Feb. 23  #
Feb. 8  # Feb. 24
Feb. 9 Feb. 25  #
Feb. 10 Feb. 26
Feb. 11 Feb. 27  #
Feb. 12  # Feb. 28
Feb. 13 March 1  #
Feb. 14
Feb. 15
Feb. 16  #

a healthy eating plan for me

My dietician has always encouraged me not to think in terms of following a ‘diet’.  Diets are somewhat defeatist.  They imply ‘temporary’, ‘drastic’ and (sometimes) ‘failure’.

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A better approach is to think in terms of a healthy eating plan that will last a lifetime.  I certainly like to keep track of what I eat, and a healthy eating plan gives me a guideline for comparison.

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I decided to design my own healthy eating plan.  I started by looking at Canada’s Food Guide to see how many calories I should eat per day.  Calorie intake varies by age, activity level, gender,  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/basics-base/1_1_1-eng.php  For my age, and low active life style, the chart says I should use 1850 calories per day.  I know from tracking my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal‘  app on my Ipad (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/), I am maintaining my weight with about 2200 calories per day.   I have decided to base my healthy eating plan on about 2000 calories per day.

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In designing my plan, I want to include the following things I know about myself:

  • evening eating is a huge problem for me
  • I have trouble keeping my morning blood glucose levels in check and so evening eating has to be minimized
  • my dietician told me a snack in the afternoon will help me combat evening hunger
  • I find I have more energy when I include protein in my breakfast
  • I like to have a snack mid-morning
  • I am in good control of my eating for both breakfast and lunch
  • I often don’t get enough milk products during the day
  • I have trouble limiting portion sizes
  • ‘red light’ foods for me are ice-cream, chocolate, chips, and (!) Greek yogurt

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Breakfast – usually cereal with milk or toast

Breakfast
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ¾ cup cereal
Milk  1 1 c milk
Fat
Fruit  1 banana, apple, pear
Vegetables
Protein  1 2 tbsp peanut butter

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Lunch – I usually have leftovers from dinner, soup and toast, or a sandwich

Lunch
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 1/2 hamburger bun
Milk
Fat  1 mayo
Fruit  1 ¼ c dried fruit; 20 grapes
Vegetables  1 sliced red pepper
Protein  1 ½ c tuna packed in water

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Dinner – we have a healthy meal with potato, meat or fish, lots of vegetables and fruit for dessert.  At least once a week we have chili (good-for-us tomatoes and high fibre) or a salad-as-dinner  (green vegetables and fibre)

Dinner
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ½ cup canned corn, small potato
Milk
Fat  1 1 tsp olive oil margarine
Fruit  1 1/2 cup canned fruit
Vegetables  3 1 c lettuce, ½ c brussels sprouts
Protein  1 chicken breast; ¾ c beans

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Snacks – for me, a good snack is yogurt and crackers, a smoothie made with milk and fruit, crackers and cheese, or vegetable sticks

For my three daily snacks, I can choose from A, B,  or C:

Evening Snack A B C
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  1 7 crackers
Milk  1  1 8 oz milk, 1 ¼ inch cube cheese,   yogurt
Fat  1 salad dressing
Fruit  1  1 1 cup strawberries; 20 cherries
Vegetables  1 1 carrot, ½ c broccoli
Protein

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Please note: my serving sizes may not be exact; for serving sizes, see Canada’s Food Guide (for example: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/fruit/serving-portion-eng.php)

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To summarize, this is my healthy eating plan for one day (approximately 2000 calories):

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Healthy Eating Plan Meals Snacks
Food Group Total Number of servings Breakfast Lunch Supper A B C
Bread  7  2  2  2  1
Milk  3  1  1  1
Fat  3  1  1  1
Fruit  5  1  1  1  1  1
Vegetables  5  1  3  1
Protein  3  1  1  1

~

Best always, Alexandra

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setting some goals – results

On November 23, 2013, I set some goals for myself.  These included three medium-term goals about exercise:

Medium Term Goal (one month)

Goal #2: My medium term, four-week goal is to bike every second day for one month (November 23 to December 23, 2013)

Goal #3: My second medium term, four-week goal is to begin 2.5 pound arm weight sessions on days when I am not cycling (November 23 to December 23, 2013)

Goal #4:   My third medium term, four-week goal is to begin to go for a short 10 minute walk outside every day (November 23 to December 23, 2013)

Well, I have reached my December 23 goal date.  You can see my daily results in the table near the end of this post.  In summary, during the month:

♣  I biked on my stationary cycle 13 times.  This was fewer than the 16 times intended, but I am on my way to my goal of biking every second day!

♣  I did my weights 6 times during the month, falling short of my goal.  However, these are the first weights I have done this year and I am considering this a start in the right direction.  I have discovered that I can do weights while I am watching TV, turning an inactive time into an active one!

♣  I walked outside 11 times during the month.  I started very well, but the weather was very uncooperative and I did not achieve my goal of walking every day.  However, focussing on the positive, I am determined to continue with this goal because walking outside is so good for me, for so many reasons!

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Alexandra in the snow (an exaggeration, but almost this much, as of this morning)

Date Cycle Weights Walk Date Cycle Weights Walk
Nov. 23  #  # Dec. 9  #
Nov. 24  #  # Dec. 10
Nov. 25  #  # Dec. 11
Nov. 26  # Dec. 12  #
Nov. 27  #  # Dec. 13
Nov. 28 #  # Dec. 14
Nov. 29  # Dec. 15  #
Nov. 30  # Dec. 16  #  #
Dec. 1  # Dec. 17  #
Dec. 2  # Dec. 18
Dec. 3 Dec. 19  #
Dec. 4  # Dec. 20  #
Dec. 5  # Dec. 21  #
Dec. 6  # Dec. 22
Dec. 7  #  # Dec. 23  #
Dec. 8

So, I am going to set some new medium-term goals for myself.

Goal #2: My medium term, four-week goal is to bike every second day (January 1, 2014 to February 1, 2014)

Goal #3: My second medium term, four-week goal is to do 2.5 pound arm weight sessions on days when I am not cycling (January 1, 2014 to February 1, 2014)

Goal #4:   My third medium term, four-week goal is to go for a 10 minute walk outside every day (November 23 to December 23, 2013)

I will continue to record my progress on the ‘exercise program’ tab.

Best always, Alexandra

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reminders

When I am on a wellness program with specific goals, it is easy for me to ‘forget’ those goals and ‘forget’ to pay attention to my behavior.  Sometimes it is an excuse for why I am not following my program.  Sometimes I get busy and I do forget.

It helps me to keep reminders in plain view.  Some people need to file things away, some people need to have things out where they can see them.  If I file things away, they do not exist for me.  ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.

So far, I have kept four reminders of my program in plain sight:

1. my spiral notebook – a workbook where I record progress on my current short-term goals

workbook

2. my sticker rewards – old business cards that I gradually fill with stickers as I make progress towards my goals – once a card is full, I can claim a small reward for my efforts

rewards

3. a bulletin board with short reminders of the goals I am working on

bulletin board
the toadstool is one of my evening knitting projects

4. my bowl of ‘finds’ from my walks

'finds' from my walks
since I walk in the woods, my ‘finds’ so far are lichens, leaves and acorns!

What do you use to remind yourself of the progress you are making towards your goals?

Best always, Alexandra 

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rewards of a wellness program

These days, most stores and businesses invite you to join a rewards program.  There are various programs for air miles rewards, points to collect to earn sets of dishes in grocery stores, store dollars to earn gift cards and point systems to earn store merchandise.  I think I will develop my own system of rewards, to recognise the work I do to try and improve my wellness.

Long-term rewards

I expect some of the significant, long-term rewards of exercise, healthy eating and weight-loss will be:

physical rewards – these, of course, are the most worthwhile rewards.  Since I started stationary cycling in January, my blood pressure is down, my blood sugars are under control, my bad cholesterol is lower and my good cholesterol is up.  These may not be directly due to the cycling, but my dietician says my exercise is at least partly responsible.  Also, my stamina is up.  I am more likely to go shopping, do a bout of house cleaning or volunteer to get the mail than I was a year ago.

years of life – the very best reward for my program of wellness will be more time – more time with my husband, time to watch my son grow and build his life, more time to spend doing the things I love.

days of good health – a healthier me will mean fewer days of illness.  The reward may be one less cold to drag me down, stronger bones so I don’t break anything if I fall, and better balance so I won’t fall at all!

Since I have diabetes, exercise, weight-loss and proper eating will help me to avoid so many bad problems associated with this disease.

Quick rewards

The longer-term health-related benefits of a wellness program aren’t always easy to grasp.  Although wellness is so important, more tangible, short-term rewards may be more motivating.

My approach is to reward myself and remind myself at the same time. Ways to ‘count’ those positive actions:

  • gradually fill a small jar with buttons
  • add a nickel to a piggy bank
  • sharpen a pencil from a bundle of dull pencils
  • add a bead or a piece of macaroni to a string
  • put a magnet on the refrigerator

As I’ve said before, I find stickers to be both a reward and a good way to keep track of my good behaviors.  Stickers are inexpensive.  I also save and use the stickers and stamps I receive in the mail as promotions.

My rewards program will be to add stickers to a card, the way I do when I collect rewards at the grocery store.  For cards, I am using the stack of extra business cards I have accumulated over the years.  Each time I do something positive towards my wellness (eat a vegetable, drink milk, go for a walk, and so on), I’ll add a sticker to my card.  When I fill a card so none of the printing on the business card is visible, I will reward myself.  For example, the card I am working on now will earn me a new e-book.  I write the reward I am working towards on the card so I will be motivated to work harder towards my various goals.

stickers on a business card
a rewards system for working towards wellness – stickers on a business card

There are lots of inexpensive items I can work towards with my rewards program:

  • a new e-book
  • a yard of material for a new sewing project
  • a ball of yarn
  • a bar of home-made soap
  • a scented candle
  • a trip to the salon
  • a magazine
  • a new bunch of stickers!

I’d encourage you to design your own rewards program.  It will help you keep track of the positive changes you make and it will teach you to reward yourself with something other than food!

Best always, Alexandra

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