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Favorite Weight Loss tips & tricks

I started going to Weight Watchers meetings again on February 5.  In 4 weeks, I’ve lost 7 pounds so far.  I am a WW “Lifetime Member”, which means I did WW before and actually got to my goal.  From 2002 – 2005, I lost 107 pounds. I kept it off until 2007, when I went back to grad school full time while working full time and slowly gained it all back.

Since I did the program before, I am rediscovering things — foods and tips — that I used to eat or use before that help me make healthier choices, so I thought I’d start documenting them in my blog.

First up is a tool that WW recently introduced.  It’s called the “Activity Monitor”.

Weight Watchers' Activity Monitor

Weight Watchers’ Activity Monitor

It’s comparable to the Fitbit, which I used to have and loved (but it got sent through the washing machine too many times and finally died.) I clip it to my bra and wear it every day. It monitors my activity, and it determines if and how many activity points I’ve earned. (Activity points are part of WW’s program. Basically if you exercise, you earn points that you can add to your food points allowance.)

What I like about it: I can clip it to my bra–Pedometers that I clip to my belt do not work for me because my hips are so much wider than my waist that all of my pants droop at the waist.

Also, it focuses on overall activity, not just bursts of exercise.  Since I have a desk job, I’m pretty sedentary. And, before I got the Activity Monitor, whenever I’d exercise for 40 minutes, I’d assume I earned 4 activity points. But, that wasn’t really the case, because I wouldn’t move much at all the rest of the day.  So, the activity monitor calculates an activity baseline based on your age, height, and current weight, and you only begin to earn activity points after you’ve reached the baseline.  And, I found that exercising for 40 minutes, then sitting the rest of the day didn’t even make me reach my baseline! (I think it would be similar to hitting 10,000 steps a day on a pedometer, and then only counting how many steps you got past that #.) Therefore, the focus is on becoming more active every day, all day long–not just adding in exercise.  It’s working.  I set a reminder on my computer to get up every 2 hours at work, then I walk around the building and climb 4 flights of steps a day.  If I didn’t do any cardio exercise on a particular day, I make myself do 10-minute walk/stairs 3 times a day at work. If I do get in some cardio, I do it only 2 times a day.  If I don’t get up and do this, I don’t reach my baseline and I don’t earn activity points most days. I just really like how the focus is on increasing overall activity (though it automatically adding your activity points to your tracker and showing you cool little charts is fun too.)

The downside is you have to be on the Weight Watchers program, paying for their eTools, plus there’s a monthly $5 fee in addition to the $40 cost of purchase.

Next up is my new favorite lunch:

My new favorite lunch

My new favorite lunch

2 Tbs of baba ghanoush spread on a toasted Orowheat wheat Sandwich Slim, topped with tomatoes and avocado. It’s only 7 points, filling, and the flavors go together so well.  I dice up the veggies the night before and put them in small tupperware containers, measure the baba ghanoush and put it in a container, then put the bread in a baggie. Then, at work, all I have to do is toast the bread and assemble.  I add some 0-point sides like dill pickles and fruit canned in water for a pretty big meal. Found the idea on Pinterest.

I’m also really fond of LaTorilla Factory low-carb tortillas.

LaTortilla Factory low-carb tortillas

LaTortilla Factory low-carb tortillas

They are only 1 point a piece. To make a sandwich, I’d have to spend 4 points on regular bread or 2 – 3 points on lower cal bread. So, these are a great points saver. Plus, they taste good and have a nice texture.  I’ve also cut them up and baked them for baked tortilla chips and that works well, too. I find them in the deli/bakery section of our local grocery (Kroger and Marsh).

Next is a combo:  roasted veggies and an oil sprayer.  I’m using a sprayer I bought from Weight Watchers, but I know others make them.

Weight Watcher's oil sprayer

Weight Watcher’s oil sprayer

So, I used to be one of ‘those’ kids who refused to eat veggies. Combine that with my southern upbringing where veggies pretty much meant green beans (cooked with lard and bacon), corn swimming in butter, and mashed potatoes, and you can see that veggies might be a problem for me.  For the longest time, I used to just say “I don’t like many veggies” and leave it at that. But, as I became more educated and accepted how wonderfully nutritious veggies are (plus most of them are 0 points!), I was determined to try to eat more. I began by trying different recipes, but discovering roasted veggies changed everything.

Roasted veggies are amazing. They do not have the same taste and texture that raw or steamed veggies have. Some veggies that I just cannot stand the taste or texture of raw are some of my faves when roasted. So, I have now developed a habit where on Sundays I’ll roast 6-10 servings of different veggies, put them into individual containers, and then during the week I’ll have one as a side to my breakfast (yes, I said breakfast!) and one as a side to my lunch. When I don’t have time to do that on the weekends, I really miss the roasted veggies during the week!

When I first started doing this, I would peel and cut up the veggies, then put them in a bowl, put olive oil and spices on top, then toss to coat, then put on a pan and bake. But, I was using way too much oil. So, I bought the oil sprayer. Now, I peel and cut, then put them on the baking tray and spray with the sprayer, then sprinkle spices on. I’m going through way less oil, but the veggies taste just as good!

Next: PB2

PB2

PB2

Now, I know that folks who don’t like processed foods are going to turn their noses up at this, and I’m fine with that. I understand. I, too, am trying to stay away from processed foods as much as I can. And, when you realize this is powdered peanut butter that you reconstitute with water, you have to admit this is pretty processed. Also, whatever processing goes on does remove a lot of the nutrients found in regular peanut butter. And, natural peanut butter isn’t all that bad, as long as you keep your servings in check.

But, that’s my problem. I am a peanut butter fiend. I lovelovelovelove peanut butter. When I’ve binged before, I’ve been know to take several large spoonfuls from jar, and then go back for more. I have a problem controlling my portions with peanut butter. So, PB2 allows me to get that peanut butter flavor for only 1 point for 2 Tbs.  Plus, because it has to be re-constituted, I can’t simply stick a spoon in the jar. I have to stop and think about what I’m doing, which is not good for binges. And, it’s really great for recipes…it’s fantastic in smoothies.

I still eat regular peanut butter when I’m wanting to get in some good fats or need a quick protein fix. But, if I’m actually craving peanut butter (and my cravings tend to lead to binges), I’ll go for the PB2.

The downside (besides the processing and loss of nutrients) is it’s expensive and hard to find so I order it online. But, one jar will last me a couple of months.

And, the last one for today: Baby Dill Pickles

Baby Dill Pickles

Baby Dill Pickles

These are 0 points, and they’re great for satisfying that “I *think* I’m hungry” feeling. Because they’ve got such a strong flavor, I don’t tend to want anything else to eat after I have a couple, so if I feel a binge coming on, I’ll grab a few of these. They’re very helpful on that one day before I start my period and want to eat everything in sight.

That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure I’ll have some future posts with more of my faves soon.

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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Health

 

The wicked problem of mental illness

Yesterday, I blogged mostly about gun control as a possible solution to the ending the mass murders we’re seeing more and more in this country. I also noted that ensuring effective treatment of the mentally ill was another solution that needed to be explored.

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I wanted to touch a little more on the mental illness aspect. But, I’m having trouble formulating my thoughts into anything coherent  I’m not as comfortable with this topic. And, that in itself gives me pause.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty opinionated and not afraid to make those opinions known. I’m sure many of my Facebook friends are glad the presidential election is over and I’ve shut up about politics. So, my uncomfortableness in expressing an opinion on mental illness is weird to me.  I wanted to figure out why I was uneasy.

In doing so, I began to evaluate my own personal experiences with mental illness.  And, I realized I haven’t had much (thankfully?) There’s no one in my immediate family (that I’m aware of anyway) who suffers from mental illness. I don’t have children, so I’ve had little interaction with those who have autism.

About 18 years ago, I worked in a group home for mentally disabled adults, and some of them, in addition to their disabilities, also suffered from mental illness, like mania and bipolarism. I had to restrain a couple who became aggressive a few times, and I had to give them their medicines. But, that was quite a long time ago.

Closer to home and to now, I have an acquaintance with bipolar disorder. This acquaintance actually was a very close friend until about 7 years go, but his illness, or rather his lack of seeking/following treatment for the illness, put a wedge in our friendship that I don’t ever see going away.  I still see him a few times a year, as we have mutual friends and interests. But, I do my best to avoid him. And when I can’t, I’m cordial but distant. For a little while, our mutual friends tried to get us to be friends again, but they seem to have given up, and we don’t talk about it anymore. I can’t say I’m sorry about that.

I’m not going to go into details about what happened, but basically, I do not feel safe around him. What happened happened because he was refusing the treatment for his disease. And, I just cannot trust that will not happen again. And, when he’s not on his meds, I become a target for him. I do not know why. I spent many, many hours trying to figure that out and eventually gave up. He was not physically violent, but I honestly feel like it is a very real possibility that he could be.

It appears that he is doing very well right now, and when I do see him, he seems like his old self. So, his current treatment must be working. But, back when we were friends, he was doing very well and the treatment was working, and he just stopped doing it. And then he lashed out at me in a most unexpected and hurtful way. I always have this fear in the back of my mind that he’s going to just stop taking his meds again, and I’ll be his target again.

So, part of me feels guilty. Part of me knows that if he didn’t have his mental illness, what happened never would have happened. Yet, the other part of me is angry that he did not take responsibility for maintaining his treatment and staying on his meds. He knew full well what he was doing, and even said so.

I also have a cousin who is suicidal. But, it’s kept very quiet. He lives thousands of miles away from me, so I only hear updates from my Mom whenever anything bad happens, like he’s in the hospital again. And, I can’t blame them. Who wants to talk about X’s latest suicide attempt at Christmas dinner?

So, in thinking about those two incidents I realized a common thread: No one is talking about it. With my former friend, the talk with our mutual friends always centered on why I should forgive and forget, never on the fact that he refused to take his meds or maybe that there was a problem with his ability to get his meds which would point to a systemic problem (and may have softened my stance against his refusal to take his meds?)  With my cousin, it’s just that no one is talking about it at all. So, there’s like this unwritten code that mental illness is to be kept hushed, and it becomes uncomfortable when you break that code and start talking about it.

Those are just my personal examples. And, I don’t feel like they’re a drop in the bucket to what others are facing. Like my cousin’s parents, wife, and child who have to directly deal with his suicide attempts. Or like my acquaintance’s girlfriend who lives with his drastic mood swings. Or another friend who has to fight the school system to get his autistic son an education. I would safely bet that if someone is not directly dealing with a mental illness him/herself or with an immediate family member who is, he/she, like me, knows people who are or have had experiences in the past. And, there’s a whole other blog post to be written about the number of mentally ill people in our industrial prison complex.

In just the same way that multiple incidents of gun violence points to a problem with guns in this country, the sheer number of people who have a mental illness in this country points to a problem.  So, as I said yesterday, I’m thrilled that American citizens are talking about it.

But, this issue is not as easy to address.  Okay, we have too many people with mental illness in this country. Another part of the problem is a lot of those people can’t / won’t / aren’t getting the treatment to help them with that illness. But, I’m not sure how to begin to address that.

With gun control, I am a gun owner. And, I’ve done a fair amount of research on the issue of gun control. Therefore, I feel like my opinion is valid. With mental illness on the other hand,  I do not have a clinical degree, and I do not have much first-hand experience with the mentally ill. So, I guess my lack of knowledge on the subject makes me feel like I don’t have much of a right to voice an opinion on how to address the problem.

To remedy that, I began to some reading on the ‘net.  But, I’ve come across so much contradictory opinions, I’m feeling even more overwhelmed. For example,  this article was being posted everywhere. When I read that, I was thinking what everyone else who had posted it was: “Wow, how poignant.” and “Oooh, this post helps strengthen the argument that we have to address access to mental health care.”

But, then I saw this article.  And then this one. And, now I’m not so sure about the first one. I guess I’m glad that they all have made me think. But, I’m now questioning the link between violence and mental illness. Now, I’m wondering if this conversation about mental illness that’s begun is going to make things worse by stigmatizing the mentally ill as all being potential mass murderers, as this article suggests.

Stigma pic 1

In my design grad school, we learned a term that I think accurately describes this issue: wicked problem. This issue with mental illness is “… difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.” And, at first glance, it appears “…resistance to resolution.”

Now that I think about it, I think THAT is why this topic makes me most uneasy. I think I see some clear paths to a solution in the gun control debates. But, with mental illness, it’s very, very murky.

I guess the only thing I can do is continue to read, think, and talk about it. And, I hope that the rest of the country does the same thing.

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

No, Gun control is not the answer, but it must be part of it

So, there’s a national conversation going on in the aftermath of the horrendous events in Connecticut.  Like most everyone else, I’m sure, I’ve been trying to figure out in my head how this could have happened and what we need to do to about it. I’ve been participating in online debates here and there, which I’ve found has helped inform my opinion. So, I felt the need to try to get that opinion down in one place, which is why I’m writing this post.

First, I want to say that I’m thrilled this conversation is including gun control. (But I am absolutely horrified and saddened that 1) it’s necessary and 2) the death of so many people, especially children, recently is what’s prompted it).

The conversation about gun control has been needed for a long time. Since Columbine, there have been 61 school shootings in the US. In all other countries combined (most of which have stricter gun control laws), there have been 18. That doesn’t even take into account the other mass murders by shooting that have taken place in our country, like the movie theater shooting, the shooting of Gabby Giffords, or the multitude of workplace shootings.

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You cannot deny that we have a problem with gun violence in this country. Well, okay. You can, and people like the NRA sure do. The great Neil deGrasse Tyson  says, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” The same can be said about facts, and as shown above, the facts show there is a lot of gun violence in the US whether the NRA admits it or not.

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And, after every single one of these events, when anyone says, “Hey, maybe we ought to look at our current gun regulations…” (and they invariably do), people come out of the woodwork screaming “You want to take away my guns!” and “No, it’s too soon to talk about this.” and “2nd Amendment!!!!!!!!!!!1!” And, the talk about reforming gun laws (aka “gun control”) pretty much stops.

So, the fact that the conversation about gun control has continued pleases me. It seems like people aren’t going to let it go this time. At least I hope so, because all those “gun control = gun bans = you’re a Commie Socialist who wants to take away my guns and ignore my 2nd Amendment rights” folks are still singing their tired old song, rather loudly.

But, now, there’s also a new voice being added…some folks are saying that the cause of this shooting has more to do with the shooter’s mental health and his lack of care, so therefore, they argue, we should not worry about gun control.  Instead, lets focus on fixing the mental health care system.  And, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of this one, but not necessarily with the exclusivity of the stance.  But, I’ll get into that in a bit…

So, I guess I want to use this space to address these arguments. Here are my responses to the common ones I’m seeing:

1. Don’t politicize this tragedy:  A friend of mine said something rather poignantly in a Facebook status about this: “…about whether or not this should be made into a ‘political’ issue. To me this seems to reflect a deeper tragedy: the fact that ‘politics’ now means bureaucratic and rhetorical machinations rather than collectively finding solutions to our common problems and building a better ‘polis’. Gun violence is a collective concern: it IS political through and through. Whether the politicians and our current political environment are up to this type of real political problem is a different story.”

Because gun control has been a hot-button issue for so long, guns already are political. So, the fact that guns were the weapon used to commit this heinous act means that the event is also already “political.”

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2. It’s too soon to talk about this: It is not “too soon” to talk about guns and gun control. 20 dead children prove that it’s too late. It’s always “too soon,” and by the time its ok to talk about, there’s another horrific tragedy like this making it “too soon” to talk about again. The time to talk about it is now – right now – when this travesty is burned into our brains, while we still remember the looks on peoples faces, and while we deal with our own fears and pain, because more people are paying attention. Jon Stewart, as usual, says it best. (Sorry WordPress won’t let me embed Comedy Central videos.)

3. If someone wants to be violent and we make guns harder to get, he will just use a different weapon: Yes, if people want to be violent, they will be violent. But short of a bomb (which requires research, preparation, planning and forethought) a gun is the singular most effective way to kill volumes of people. We are not arming our soldiers with kitchen knives and broken beer bottles. We arm them with guns for a reason.

At this point, someone invariably mentions the incident in China that happened on the same day.

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The problem with this is the children in China were not killed. 20 children in the US ARE dead today because a gun was used. We may not be able to stop every single person from doing harm, but we can minimize the harm that person is able to inflict by making it harder for him to obtain such a deadly weapon. The only purpose of a gun is to kill. Period. And, it can kill more people than any other weapon except for maybe a bomb or a hijacked airplane…both of which are not nearly as accessible as guns.

As I said before, since Columbine, there have been 61 school shootings in the US. Now, how many school bombings in the US have there been? TWO. How many mass murders at schools with knives in the US? ZERO. Any knife attacks that occurred resulted in just a few people being afflicted, not mass murder. So, the simple fact of the matter is, the easy availability of guns plus their ability to produce a higher body count with less effort than, say, a knife makes them the weapon of choice for people who want to commit mass murder.

You lock your doors to make it harder for someone to break into your home. So, why is it any different to impede someone from committing mass murder by making it harder for him or her to obtain the weapons that are used the most and are most effective in mass murder?

4. Gun control won’t stop criminals from getting guns: The goal of realistic gun control is not to prevent, but to reduce violence. The issue of gun legislation has nothing to do with convincing criminals to follow laws. That doesn’t make any kind of sense at all.

Rather, the issue has to do with the availability of firearms, the type of firearms we choose to make available (legal) to non-military or non-police personnel (civilians), and the types of measures we use to make sure only responsible and qualified people are in possession of said weapons.

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Just dismissing the issue is not the answer. It’d be like saying “Boys will be boys” when every 2 minutes in the US someone is raped, and 99% of rapists are men. It’s cowardly and lazy to not even try to address the problem simply because one feels like the situation is hopeless.

I don’t understand this attitude of “Well, even though what we’ve got now isn’t working, we shouldn’t bother to find other solutions.” Making it hard for a mentally ill person to obtain a gun, perhaps by making it illegal to sell guns on Craigslist, for example, is a reasonable idea to explore. Further, these crimes seem to be impulse driven as well. So, slowing down the ability to act on that impulse makes sense to me.

I’m calling for a serious examination of the existing regulations and enforcements to see how we can improve this horrendous situation. Why are people so resistant to that logical idea? What will it hurt if we do that?

For example, why does your ordinary everyday average citizen need a semi-automatic? This argument has already been made by many people (here’s one recent example), so I don’t feel the need to go into it here. But, that’s just one example of a regulation we can improve.

Here’s another example: According to the Department of Justice, 40% of legal sales happen without a background check.

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That is an example of a current regulation that needs to be fixed. Fixing that is not going to mean you can’t buy guns at all. It’s not going to mean more regulation…it’s revising regulations that already exist.

Let’s have a national, civil conversation about *how* we can stop this gun violence, not if it exists (because it really, really does) or why it can or cannot be curtailed (because it has been in other countries). We have a problem, and the “We can’t stop it”/”psychos will always find a way to be psycho”/”criminals just use other weapons” arguments are not doing anything to address that problem.

5. Gun control is a slippery slope to a total ban / You want to take away my guns. / You’re infringing on my 2nd Amendment rights / You’re just a libtard who never owned a gun: Creating and reforming regulations is not a ban. I don’t want to take away your guns (unless they’re semi-automatic.) I don’t know how to make that any clearer or how to make you believe me.

For those that continue to insist otherwise, a Facebook Page posted something I think accurately describes my feelings here: “Gun ownership advocates who do not want to deal with the reality of gun violence, even on this tragic day, do not deserve a place at the table as we discuss how to combat this madness…you (and your convoluted views) are now irrelevant.”

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Yes, I am a liberal. But, I am also a registered gun owner with a conceal and carry permit, and I plan to stay that way. I happily submitted to a background check, and I will stick with my .44 and never purchase a semi-automatic, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for every other gun owner to do the same things.

Remember, the first 3 words of the 2nd Amendment are, after all, “A well regulated”. The thing that gives us the right to have guns itself says there should be gun regulation! (Don’t even get me started on “militia”…)

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6. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. It’s not that simplistic. There’s a psychological reason that guns are chosen for these attacks. (Hint: it has to do with perception of power.) Yes, a gun isn’t going to shoot itself; it requires a person to make it function, and it inflicts a deadlier force than almost any other weapon.  As I said before, the single purpose for which a gun was created is to kill. You can’t cut a steak with a gun. (Well, you could, but there wouldn’t be much left of the steak you could eat.)

The truth is, “Guns Kill People, AND People Kill People.” If the problem is really “people kill,” then the solution shouldn’t be “Here, people. Have this instrument that makes it super easy to kill. “People Kill People” will always be true as long as we create and nourish a culture where killing is an option.

7. If the teachers had been armed, this could have been stopped: Ignoring the fact that teachers are typically not trained in the use of hand guns, wear protective armor to school, or could have reacted quickly enough in such a chaotic scene while at the same time trying to hide and evacuation their children, sure someone maybe could have gotten off a shot at Adam Lanza. Okay. Scratch that. I don’t believe that for one second.  The key here is teachers are not trained like our soldiers to keep their cool in combat situations, and that’s exactly what this was.

So, are you really saying that we need to train our teachers to be combat ready? I highly doubt the Republicans in Congress, who a few days ago thought teachers were lazy union thugs who get paid too much, are really going to invest the money it would take to do that.

And, don’t forget, the very first person to be killed in this tragedy was a gun owner. A lot of good that did her, huh?

michael-moore-gun-tweet

8. This happened because we removed prayer from school. / … because the shooter was raised by an unwed mother. / … because God is punisheing us for homosexuality: I am not going to respond to these sick, twisted, disgusting, selfish, ridiculous, delusional claims. The people who seriously believe them are so irrational and closed-minded and ignorant that they won’t hear anything anyone has to say in response. Why bother? You can’t argue with crazy. Though, this meme did make me laugh about it.

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9. This isn’t a gun control issue. It’s a mental health issue. / Changing gun laws wouldn’t have stopped Adam Lanza.:

Okay, here we go. This is the big one. I do believe it’s both a gun control issue because, well, a semi-automatic gun was used (see my rant above) and a mental health issue.

With everything I’ve said about gun control, however, I do not believe it is THE answer. This is a complex problem that’s going to have a complex solution. I agree it is imperative that we reform the way mental illness is handled in this country, but gun control must be part of the overall solution.

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In one of the online debates, I was asked what specific regulations could have been used to stop Adam Lanza. I will be the first person to admit that, other than removing semi-automatic weapons from the general public’s hands, I do not know, and I never said I did. I am not an expert in gun laws. It’s possible there isn’t very many. But, it’s equally possible that there are. In this case, we don’t have many details yet, since it’s so recent. We know he used his mother’s guns to kill her at home, and then went to the school where she taught and did this evil. Did he live at home with her? Did she keep her guns out in the open or in a locked case? Maybe regulations that require all guns be kept in locked cases or background checks of all adults that live in the home where the guns are kept might have helped?

I know, I know.  I can hear the collective groans and sense the blood pressures rising from the pro-“don’t take my guns”-crowd at those suggestions, and I can see their “but he would have just broken into a locked case” counter arguments.  I’m not saying those two ideas will work. I don’t know. That’s why I’m throwing them out there. Until we take the time to entertain all possible solutions with an open mind, we’ll never know if they will or won’t work. There’s no harm in exploring all options, but instantly dismissing them and those who make them isn’t productive in any way.

Now, again, I agree whole-heartedly that we have a serious, serious problem in this country with the way the mentally ill are treated…or not. This blog post is a good start.  I’m also thrilled that people are having a discussion about this very important problem, as it’s been needed as well.

But, why do the conversations about reforming mental health care and gun laws have to be mutually exclusive? Why do we have to focus on only one?  It’s clear to me that both guns and mental illness played a role in this tragedy, so it makes perfect sense to me to address them both at the same time.

I think the best way to honor the memories of the Sandy Hook shooting victims is to engage in meaningful, respectful dialogue about ALL possible ways to ensure this doesn’t ever happen again.

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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Rant

 

Post Boot Camp Reflections

So, yesterday I “graduated” from boot camp.  Over the 8 weeks I was on it, I lost 9 pounds, 6.75 inches off of my waist and 4.8% body fat!

Some folks who did the boot camp lost crazy amounts of weight–the top female loser was over 30#s and the top male was over 47#s!! So, at first I was a little disappointed in my “only” 9 pounds.  But, the disappointment did not last long for several reasons:

1. I’ve been losing (and gaining) weight consistently for 9 years now.  My average is usually a half a pound a week due to hypothyroidism frakking with my metabolism. So 9 pounds in 8 weeks is awesome for me.

2. When I started the program, I wrote down my goals, which were: “Lose 10 pounds.” “Lose 5″ off my waist.” “Lose 5% body fat.” “Establish healthy habits with eating and exercise.”  I am only 1 pound and 0.2% away from those numbers, and I HAVE established healthy habits with eating and exercise. So, I consider my goals met. Which, again, is awesome!

3. I started the boot camp because I hadn’t been seeing much results doing it on my own.  I just looked back at my progress before boot camp and compared it to my progress during boot camp.  And, you know what? I am at my lowest weight and smallest waist measurement since I started working on getting it off again in 2009. I am seeing progress again, which is awesome!

4. With what I’ve lost during boot camp and what I was able to lose on my own from June 2009 until I started boot camp, I am down 45.4 pounds from my all-time highest.  45 POUNDS!!!!!! 

5. Even with my “ONLY” 9 pounds, I tied for 4th place in the # of inches lost by women competition.

It was easy to think that “I ONLY lost 9 pounds”, especially since it seems like I have so much more to go, until I put all of that together. Now, I’m going to be proud of losing 45 pounds, and I’m going to be confident that I can get the rest of this off.

I’m not really sure how much the rest is.  To get to what was my ‘goal’ weight last time, it’s another 62 pounds.  But, I’m beginning to question just what my goal weight should be.

You know, there are all these charts based on BMI that tell you what your weight should be based on your height.  If I go by that, to be healthy, I need to lose another 86#s.  But, I’m not so sure that being at that weight is right for ME.  I really hate the BMI scale because it doesn’t take into account anything but your height and gender, and it’s really meant to be used on a group of people, not individuals.

But, what’s got me confused is my body fat percentage.  The American Council on Exercise says women’s should be 14-31%. The American Dietetic Association recommends that women have 20-25% body fat.  As of right now, mine is 26%, which means that I’m already there!

Wha????  If you go by my weight and my BMI, I am technically considered “OBESE”.  Seriously? How the heck can I be obese but have a healthy body fat percentage?

I know I need to lose more. For one, I’m hovering right at the edge of plus size clothing. One of my goals is to be able to walk into any store and try on clothes, not just the stores that carry plus-size clothing. I also have quite a bit of fat on my belly/hips, what many people call an “apron”, that I want to decrease.  (I know I’ll never lose it all because much of it is excess skin that will have to be removed via surgery, but I was wearing pants that are 4 sizes smaller than I wear now when I lost 107#s before, so I know I can get into a smaller size.)

But, right now, I’m just going to focus on the next 10 pounds, not on what the total final # is. I figure the closer I get to it, the more it will “feel” like the right number.

So, boot camp is over, but the work isn’t.  I’m going to scale back a bit on the intensity, but I am still working on eating right and exercising right. And, I thank the Meltdown Boot Camp for giving me the tools I need to keep it going!

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Health

 

Muscle vs. Fat

I had my 3rd weigh-in on Sunday.  I was down 5.4 pounds and 3 more inches off my waist, which makes it a total of 9.4 pounds and 6.5 inches off my waist in 6 weeks.  I was happy with those results, of course. But, I was in for a surprise.

Since the boot camp is somewhat of a competition, after every 2 weeks we get a list of the folks who have lost the most weight and the most inches. The people in the “most weight lost” lists are amazing…I think the #1 male has lost almost 40 pounds now, and the #1 female has lost almost 25.  So, I figured I’d never end up on any of these lists.  But, there I was…#3 on the “most inches lost” list!  WTH?? Me, with my 9.4 pounds, quite measly when compared to 25?? How can that be?

But, it makes sense. In my last post I talked about how I was noticing muscle definition. That has to be because I’m losing fat that shows off those muscles. And, because the space that used to be taken up by that fat is now being taken up by those muscles.  And, no, it’s not because “muscle weighs more than fat”. That is a myth. A pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat. The difference in muscle and fat is that a pound of muscle takes up less space than fat.  This is a good illustration. Both of the representations of fat and muscle in this picture weigh exactly the same. But, notice the difference in SIZE:

That’s why if you replace fat with muscle, you can fit into smaller clothes sizes. I am now wearing the same size clothes that I wore in college, but I weigh more than I did back then.

And, I’m very okay with that! 🙂

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The good with the bad…

I went on vacation a couple of weeks ago, and haven’t posted since before then, as work and life got a little crazy. So, this post will be a little longer than normal as I have some catching up to do.

Vacation Report…
We spent 4 days in the Smokey Mountains. While we had an awesome time, I was very glad to get back home so that I could start eating healthily again! I ended up not being able to follow the Boot Camp eating plan while there.

I swear, they have no idea what vegetables or fruits are in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. The only veggies I ever saw on the menus were corn and potatoes, which are not allowed on the Meltdown. I did find green beans once, but they were swimming in butter and big chunks of fatty pork. The only fruit the restaurants had were bananas, again not part of he Meltdown. I found a vegetable soup at one restaurant that had carrots in it and was so excited! LOL Of course, it was served with a “double-decker grilled cheese sandwich”.

Most of the restaurants there are all-you-can-eat buffets with fried chicken, BBQ, french fries and tons of sweets. It was so difficult to try to eat right. If I had the capital, I’d open an organic vegetarian restaurant down there! They totally need one.

I did splurge and enjoyed some things I wouldn’t normally, like sweet tea and ice cream once. But, I felt like I needed to detox to get all the fat and salt out of my system when I got back! My ankles actually swelled up one day because I was eating so much salt I wasn’t used to.

I have to say, when we were in Gatlinburg, I was saddened at the large number of SEVERELY obese folks that I saw. Considering the food served there, it’s not surprising, though.

Luckily, we did a heck of a lot of walking and hiking in the mountains on some steep trails, so I did keep to my exercise schedule. I had to weigh-in 2 days after we got back. Not surprisingly, I had a gain of 3 pounds.  BUT…I had lost another inch off my waist over the previous 2 weeks and I lost 4% body fat over the previous 4 weeks.  So, that weight gain was due to all the salt and bad food from vacation.

Since vacation…
Two days after I got back, I had a root canal and a filling done at the same time. So, eating was a bit of a problem. I was not able to eat much for a day. And, it seems that since then, my motivation and determination has been waning.

Last week was the start of phase 3 of the Meltdown Boot Camp. And, I’ve been struggling to follow the food plan as it’s gotten more restrictive and takes a hell of a lot of time to plan. It requires a lot of protein shakes, too, which I REALLY don’t like. I spent the weekend at a music festival and REALLY hated having to follow this food plan. It was SO not easy in that environment.

Also, the amount of exercise we’re supposed to get in has increased. Last week I worked really hard to meet the goals, but this week it’s a struggle. Every day this week I haven’t wanted to get out of bed in the morning. Monday I did an evening workout class to make up for it, but yesterday was a total wash with exercise.  Today, I had an internal struggle as I laid in bed for about an hour. But, I finally made myself get up and use my Treadclimber for 40 minutes. And, I’m glad, I did. I have a lot more energy today.

I’m wondering if the 6th week of this program is as hard for everyone else. I guess I’m getting bored and the ‘newness’ is wearing off? I have only 2 more weeks to go after this, so I’m going to stick it out. But, I’m not expecting a great weigh-in this Sunday because of the struggles these 2 weeks.

But, it hasn’t been all bad…
As I said, even during vacation I lost inches and body fat, so I’m very happy there.

But, I have also been noticing some serious muscle definition in my body that wasn’t there before I started the Boot Camp. Here’s a picture taken of my husband and me during our vacation (we were on our way to go zip lining):

It’s not the most flattering, but you know what the first thing I noticed when I saw it? Look at my right armpit area (ignore that you can see part of my bra…obviously it’s time to get smaller shirts–another good thing LOL). Those are muscles, my friends! MUSCLES! I’ve never seen muscles like that there before!

Here’s another picture from our vacation:

This is probably one of the first pictures of me in shorts that my immediate reaction was NOT “ewwww….look how fat my legs are!” Actually, I saw this and thought, “hmmm…my legs look thinner!?”

And, speaking of legs, I got an awesome compliment on them from a total stranger while I was at the music festival this past weekend. I was wearing shorts (again something I used to NEVER do…I always wore skirts or capris), and a girl came up to me and said “You have amazing legs!” I must have given her a weird look and she said, “No, I’m serious. Your legs are so strong!”

I have never, ever, ever been told I have amazing legs before. 🙂 🙂 🙂

So, even though I’m struggling through it this week, I do see that there are benefits. And, I am going to stick with it!

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Health

 

My insights about the Meltdown Boot Camp (so far)

Some observations/insights after doing the Meltdown boot camp for 2 and a half weeks:

  • The recommended exercise regime requires a lot of intervals, which I like. I started doing High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to train for a 5k about a year ago and saw great results. The tool I used to do HIIT back then has been invaluable for me when I do the required Tabatas and High Impact Cardio (HIC) (which is really just HIIT) on my own.  So, if you are an iPhone geek like me, I HIGHLY recommend the Seconds iPhone app. It’s programmable so you can set your own timing for the intervals, and if you use headphones at the gym like I do, you won’t annoy other gym-goers with the frequent beeping.
  • The new HuHot Mongolian Grill on East 3rd Street (where Cheeseburger in Paradise used to be) is very Meltdown friendly, as long as you are careful with the sauces. It’s also reasonably priced.
  • I am finally eating the way I’ve KNOWN I should for years but never could manage to do so. Heck, I’m eating way better than I did when I lost 107 pounds on Weight Watchers! I’m eating tons of veggies, only good carbs and good fats, and no processed foods (except for the protein bars). When I was on Weight Watchers, I still ate processed foods and bad carbs and fats, just in smaller quantities. Actually, I used to skip veggies so I could ‘save my points’ for that ice cream treat at the end of the day.
  •  I’m enjoying cooking and eating the foods I’m eating now quite a bit. Last night I made a homemade soup that was pretty simple but full of veggies and it was just SO satisfying…both emotionally and physically! Last week, there was a day that was rough at work and I got home late. Usually on those days, I would have grabbed pizza or Chinese take out on the way home because I didn’t feel like cooking, but last week that thought never crossed my mind. I went right home and started cooking.
  • I’m finally getting the proper amounts of sodium and potassium in my diet. I have high blood pressure that I recently had to go on meds for, and as a result, my doc told me to decrease my sodium and increase my potassium. I tried to do that on my own for about a month before starting the Meltdown, and failed miserably. But now, I’m not even really paying attention to those things, but because my diet is so much more healthy, the salt’s been decreased and the potassium has been increased naturally.
  • The protein bars are an awesome substitute for that nightly sweet treat that I used to satisfy with ice cream or candy bars.
  • I am not hungry (most of the time). I have to add that last part because until yesterday, I hadn’t felt hungry at all, or if I had, it was usually right before it was time to eat another one of the many small meals I eat every day. But, yesterday I was VERY hungry all day. Upon reviewing my food and exercise logs, I think the problem is I just didn’t eat enough during my mini meals and because I had exercised twice the day before. Today, I haven’t been hungry at all. I sure can’t say that about my experience with any other diet, especially Weight Watchers.
  • I’m constantly impressed by the members of the ‘Meltdown Nation’ I’ve encountered. Not only by the shear numbers–every class I’ve attended has been full, the # of Facebook fans is over 500 (and considering Btown is a relatively small town, I think that’s impressive), there’s a number of people I’ve discovered at work who have done or are doing the boot camp–but also by the determination and motivation and inspiration of the individual members of the Meltdown Nation. That alone says to me that this program is not just some fad.
  • The only way I can get in the recommended amount of water is for me to chug 16 to 28 ounces at a time. If I fill a glass or bottle with water and intend to slowly sip it, it never happens. I don’t know why. It’s also easier to chug room-temperature water than it is to chug cold water.  And, it’s easier to drink more if you use a straw. Also, I’m a water snob apparently. I cannot stand the taste of tap water or the water that comes out of most fountains (because it’s tap water). Thank goodness for filters! I am SO going to get me one of those Brita filter water bottles!
  • I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to come off of my earned day, meaning that the day after I would want to continue to over eat and eat bad stuff. But, scheduling a double exercise day for the day after seems to keep me from giving in to that worry.
  • I don’t do well with afternoon or evening exercise. I’ve been a morning exerciser for several years now and it always gives me energy to make it through the day. I’ve exercised after work a couple of times while doing this program and I always feel so much more tired afterwards and find actually doing the exercises a lot harder. It’s also much easier to make excuses to not do the exercise at the end of the day, but it’s a great feeling to look at the clock at 4pm and see that it’s time to go home and I DON’T have to exercise because I’ve already done it! I plan to do a few more double exercise days on the day after my earned day, so that will require evening workouts. But, I’ll happily do the majority of my exercise in the mornings.
  • I’ve decided that if when I get through these 8 weeks, I am going to reward myself by getting a full-body massage. 🙂
 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in Health