August 8, 2016

Countdown to Start

It is a good Monday here in sunny and hot Phoenix. Yes, it is hot! Our monsoon has moved south or north of us, and we have no rain expected until mid-week. Our temperatures are back to the 106-108 range (sigh), but there is hope on the horizon. Yes, there is hope for more rain this week.

The weather forecast is predicting rain from Tropical Storm Javier, which is out in the Baja of California right now. That's good news for us, of course. I love the rain, and I am looking forward to some more stormy weather before our seasonal moisture dissipates (come September). I am praying for safety as the storm makes landfall in Mexico, however. Mexico, even in the developed areas is not as safe as here in the USA. It doesn't take much rain for there to be landslides and flash floods. Oh my no! My prayer is that the storm moves quickly over the Sonoran desert so that we get the benefit of the cooler, moist, and wet weather. Yes, bring it on, Lord! Bring the rain on!

Diet and Fitness Update

Outside of the chance of rain, I am feeling pretty good today. I slept well, like really well. I went to bed earlier than normal, about 9:15 p.m., and I slept right on through to 7:30 this morning. I woke up without a headache or backache, and for that, I am so thankful.

Furthermore, I seem to be back on track with my weight loss. I have been tracking my points since last week, and I have managed to stay at my target of 22 points per day. I still need to drink more water, but so far, I am down 1.6 pounds. I am not sure what happened, but I am definitely in Ketosis right now. I have that lovely "ketosis" smell that tells me my body is burning fat. How is that, you say? Well, in ketosis, your body burns fat for energy, and the chemical that is released as part of that burning process is a ketone. It has a slightly metallic smell, but sometimes can smell like buttered popcorn. In my case, it is both. I noticed the popcorn smell the other day, and the metallic smell was pretty overwhelming yesterday. Needless to go into more detail, suffice it to say, I can sense I am in ketosis simply because I can smell it (ha!) Whatever I am doing, it seems to be working. I am not watching my carb count at all, but I am restricting my portions to about half of what I would normally eat.

Moreover, I am going to bed slightly hungry, which is a pleasant feeling. I remember when this happened last time with Weight Watchers. At first, I worried that I wasn't eating enough food. But then the counselor told me that I needed to drink more water, and that my body couldn't tell whether I was thirsty or hungry. I upped my water intake, and I started to feel "less stuffed" at each meal. I began to tell the difference between "full" and "overstuffed." I am at this place now, and it is wonderful. I cannot tell you how nice it feels to be satisfied, but not cramped. I think for many of us, we get very used to overfeeding ourselves. It takes a while for our systems to recalibrate to normal eating, but when we do, we come to enjoy the pleasant sensation of being satisfied without have to gorge all the time.

My goal now is to begin to replace processed foods with whole foods. I am slowly changing items out of my diet so that I can start to eat better quality items. One of the foods I have already switched out is my bread choice. We normally eat wheat bread, but now I am buying Ezekiel Bread, the kind with Flax and Sesame Seed. Oh my goodness! It is the best bread I have had. It is pricier than normal whole wheat bread, but it is so fiber-rich. On a points scale, each piece of bread is worth 2 points, so I have to be careful with it. But, the good part is that it does the trick for me (as in no constipation). Yes, the heavy, fiber-dense bread simply works like a charm.

Next on my whole foods list is to forgo all soft drinks, diet ones included, and candy. I can easily do this because I am not addicted to the carbonated water and aspartame as I once was. This week, it is water and coffee ONLY. No other drinks. As a side, I am also going off the protein bars, Atkins bars, and other breakfast bars. These are mostly junk food repackaged as healthy options. They are filled with chemicals, and they have very little real nutritional value.

After diet drinks, I am tackling sweets. I have some dark chocolate treats from Trader Joe's (thanks to my nephew, Jay and his girlfriend, Jasmine) that are so good! But like anything sweet, even all-natural versions, have calories, and I have to watch the points. One little peanut butter cup is worth 2 points! I have to choose what to eat now, and a peanut butter cup is a sweet treat. However, I could have a cup of Greek Yogurt for 3 points, and I would be far more satisfied with it. Now it is a matter of picking and choosing what to eat -- what to have -- and instead of forbidding myself foods, I am choosing healthy alternatives. I think this is why I love this program. Nothing is off-limits. The blessing is that with time, you begin to pick and choose better foods. It just happens. You reduce your portions and substitute high-fat junk food for more nutritious and filling options not because you have to do so, but because you want to do so.

Since I have a family to consider, I am slowly changing some of our food options for less sugary ones and all-natural ones. I am choosing items that have fewer than five natural ingredients. Yes, three-five natural ingredients pretty much assures you that the food product is quality. I am also watching out for chemicals in foods. Processed foods rely on chemicals for fillers and additives and to preserve food. These chemicals really mess up your body and your natural system. Eliminating chemicals in foods, whenever possible, is a good thing.

Some of my choices on the list right now include:

  • Peanut Butter. We all love the stuff, but rather than go for JIF, I am choosing an all-natural version.
  • Jelly. Yes, we love our jelly on toast and english muffins, so the next refill will be no-sugar added, all fruit spreads instead of Welches (oh, my!)
  • Breads and Pastas. Everything whole wheat or some fiber-rich option (oats, flax, or rye)
  • Candies. Dark Cocoa versions from Sprouts or Trader Joes
  • Fruit and Vegetables. Organic when possible.
  • Cereals. Mostly whole grain and nut varieties. Oatmeal. Healthy, less sugar, and filling versions
My meal plan is pretty simple. My breakfast consists of some fiber. I switch between toast, muffins or cereal. I do eat eggs, but I am pretty much off them right now (thanks to Atkins). Lunch is a 1/2 sandwich of some sort or left overs from dinner. A salad if possible, but again, Atkins did me in on salads. Dinner is a normal family meal with 3 oz protein, a green vegetable, and small amount of starch (or bread). I am trying to limit my breads to morning and lunch. No breads at dinner to save points, but also keep my carbs low.

In all, my plan is to stick with Weight Watchers through December. This gives me a full 16 weeks to lose 16 pounds (at 1 pound per week). My rate of loss may be slower than 1 pound, but that is okay. I am going for health and wellness and not the quick fix anymore. This means that whether it takes me 16 weeks or 32 weeks, I am going to stick with this plan until all the weight is off of me. Plus, I am going to start adding in moderate exercise. I will get my walking in around campus, about a mile per day, but I need to do some extra fitness to boost my calorie burn. I am thinking now of biking on T-TH and Saturdays. This would balance my walking on campus, and with the cooler weather on the horizon, I should be able to bike in the mornings without getting too hot.

In all, I think my experience the past couple weeks has taught me that I need to change my lifestyle along with my diet. I have to change my mindset, and that means to realize that I need to treat my body with care. All the junk I have consumed over the years has brought me to this place -- to being sick, overweight, and unhealthy. Now, I want to do something about it, but it is not going to be easy. I have to stick to a plan, long-term, and I have to be consistent. 

Some things I have learned right off the bat is that (1) I like control. I need to  be in control, and that means, I want to eat what I want to eat. I can substitute so long as I can choose what to substitute. I don't like to be managed, and I am not going to eat foods I simply find bland or distasteful. I struggled with Atkins because it is so restrictive on food choices. I cannot eat salads every day. I cannot eat eggs all the time. I need variety, and I need some bread!

I also learned (2) that restricting calories does work. Eating smaller portions is the key. Whether you cut carbs or junk, you are basically cutting calories. You are eating less than your body needs for energy, so it begins to burn fat stores. The mechanics of it is simple. Choose the best foods to eat for your health, and eat them in moderation. I know there are people out there who say you can eat what you want, as much as you want, but they typically are burning calories through exercise (a lot of it). I am sedentary, mostly, so that means that I can either kick my butt in gear and workout hard or I can restrict my calories and eat moderately to maintain my weight. I don't like to workout, so I choose the latter. 

More so, (3) I have learned that in all things, moderation is key. I mean, hello! Let's be moderate in our approach, okay. Yes, it works. Eat moderately, exercise moderately, and live moderately. It is not rocket science, but it does make sense. 

Last (4), and the final thing is this -- if it took a year to put 10 pounds on -- then it will take a year to take 10 pounds off. I am not a 20-something anymore and I cannot lose this kind of weight overnight, no matter how hard I try. It simply will not shift from my body.

In Closing

As I start this week, my last before school begins, I am thankful for the grace the Lord has given to me. Not only am I forgiven, but I am also in such a good place health wise. I feel good. I feel rested, refreshed, and ready to tackle my HUGE to-do list. I feel confident that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and I can achieve all the wonderful things the Lord has plan, prepared, and promised to me. He is faithful, he is so faithful. Yes, He who began this work in me will surely bring it through to completion. Selah!

My to-do list is large, but my God is even more so. He is able to handle whatever concerns me this good, good day. My God is BIG, BOLD, and BETTER than all others. He will cover me this good day, and He will help me accomplish whatever He desires for me to do today. I am trusting Him, resting in His goodness and provision, and letting Him lead, guide, and provide for me. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

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