The mole peers out of her hole…

Howdy all! Things have changed since last I surfaced, although much has stayed the same and will continue to. First and foremost, I am as always keeping up the good fight and have maintained my weight. I still enjoy a hearty meal and these consist of hot dogs and baked beans, fried egg sandwiches and pancakes- although at present I am undergoing a week of vegetarian eating, mainly apples, pineapples and broccoli… call it an experiment.

Let me preface this by stating that I have NEVER been a vegetable person or eaten one willingly until I was well into losing weight and I became enamored of salads- and even then I must admit the extent of the vegetables included amounted to lettuce or spinach and avocado and a bunch of other higher carb and higher fat foods such as… candied walnuts, egg and olives. I know, I cannot even pretend to myself that I eat healthily. As a child my family dubbed me the champion vegetable pusher arounder because I became expert at eating a few bites of anything crisp or green put on my plate and sliding the rest of it around to make it look like I’d been spearing forkfuls of it. And raw vegetables- forget it. I have a violent dislike for raw carrots and celery has to be buried in a mass of tuna and mayonnaise in infinitesimal bits to enter my mouth. While I didn’t quite *mind green beans or corn, since I have become an adult I certainly have not gone out of my way to buy them or include them in recipes. While I was rooming with my best friend Leah, back when I was at my heaviest at over 300 pounds, she introduced me to artichokes which were kind of fun to eat but to which I added copious amounts of butter and ranch dressing on every bite. She did this in a valiant effort to get me to eat healthier and further to save my life. Thank you Leah, it did actually sink in.

Fruit I was never too much more enamored of although a good deal more than the loathsome veggies- I really like bananas although they have some rather pesky side effects, could eat pineapple all day long and there’s something in the decadence of peaches that really appeals to me. That being said, let me proceed with my observations about what I’m eating this week:

Firstly, I am beginning to adore apples. The sweetness, the juice, are like dessert and fruit juice for breakfast and I can honestly say that I would consider incorporating them into my diet full time, along with the pancakes and hot dogs. I can make concessions. They’re SO juicy though that they cannot be eaten without a healthy portion of paper towels on hand or a bib, so no dashes to work with an apple in one hand and the steering wheel in the other.

Secondly, my fondness for pineapple is waning a bit due to tooth sensitivity. I do still love their taste but cold and cubed, they cause some agony!

Thirdly, I have actually been able to turn broccoli into a satisfying meal with the judicious use of garlic and bouillon cubes. That means an entire 10 oz box (only 90 calories!) steamed and seasoned to taste like a bowl of stew or spaghetti sauce. Wishful thinking. The upshot of this was my boyfriend had a little bit last night without the seasoning and proclaimed that I make a mean bowl of broccoli and did I put butter in it? Big smile on that one 🙂 When I first moved in with him my cooking prowess was, shall we say, not legendary.

I am on my way to the grocery store now and am going to get more Pink Lady apples and some peaches. I have two more boxes of broccoli in the freezer and when they’re gone, I’m going to let them fade into obscurity.

Happy weekend and bon appetit all!

Yes, “Industry”

     When it comes to weight loss, many factors come to mind- the desire to look attractive, feel the benefits that come from being physically fit, and stay free or lessen the chances of the health risks resulting from carrying around excess pounds, to name a few. Along with these come the myriad of methods by which to lose weight- exercise and what type, what to eat and how much, and how to assimilate these changes into our lifestyle without too much hardship. For some, losing weight becomes a necessity due to health problems and the need becomes more immediate, especially among those who have a body mass index (BMI) over 30 or are considered obese. All of these considerations combined can be overwhelming, causing some to either quit before they start or to seek an easier solution that will take some of the legwork off, or to turn to a quicker route when a lot of weight needs to be lost quickly. This has given rise to an industry of weight loss aids, from pharmaceuticals and supplements to surgery and medical devices, all designed to either boost the process or be the main gist of it. While these solutions may in some circumstances be necessary and are very enticing in the face of the discipline needed to carry out a weight loss program, lifestyle changes attendant to all of these options are the common denominator that has been proven to work and keep the weight off in the long term. The harder we fight for it, the more likely we are to hold on to it.

     Although this is not what most people want to hear as they’re setting out to lose weight, are there other ways to make weight loss easier, take the drudgery out of it and actually bring some excitement to your 50th squat or declining that second slice of pizza? There are, but first let’s examine why some of the options mentioned above may or may not be ideal or even recommended.

     Particularly popular are the many weight loss supplements available over the counter that claim to make losing weight a snap. The Federal Trade Commission, which is buckling down on diet supplement makers who promise quick results with no data backing these claims, warns consumers to beware of products that make statements like these:

“Lose weight no matter how much you eat of your favorite foods!”
“Lose weight permanently! Never diet again!”
“Just take a pill!”
“Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
“Everybody will lose weight!”
“Lose weight with our miracle diet patch or cream!”#

     The FTC and other consumer watch groups keep a close eye on supplements like these, because as Congress decreed in a law passed in 1994 (the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act), they are regulated as foods, not drugs, and therefore the companies that make them do not have to get FDA approval before selling them to the public and are further under no obligation to prove their safety or efficacy. This is disturbing when many consumers who have used them have developed symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and insomnia, and there have been documented cases of hepatitis, liver failure and heart attacks being caused by some of the products. Not only this, studies have shown that most women who use them only lose a few pounds, if any. # This is a disappointment to many who trust the pills at face value as an adjunct to their weight-loss regimens, and they also risk actually damaging their health by taking them.

     Pharmaceuticals of course are regulated by the FDA and are tested rigorously for their safety. Many who have used medications such as phentermine, orlistat, Belviq and Qsymia to kick-start their weight-loss programs have had success, provided they also couple them with dietary changes and exercise and continue with these regimens once stopping the drugs. As with any lifestyle change that requires a complete overhaul of habits, stopping one major facet of it can cause the whole structure to teeter when patients face continuing them without this aid. I personally did not utilize medication or surgery while losing my weight, but upon reaching my goal weight and faced with adjusting my routine to one of maintenance rather than weight loss, I was terrified of scaling back my daily 40-minute runs and adding more calories to my diet. I felt that if I gave up any of the control I had fought so hard to master I would fall right back into my old habits and gain the weight back again. Fortunately, the pride and accomplishments that these new habits had generated guaranteed that I would never stray back. I know what I am capable of, what I have done and I will never go back. Not having access to one major part of my current lifestyle however, having just arrived at my goal and trying to make it stick, might have derailed me. I can’t speak for all who have used medication to lose weight, and there are those for whom it has worked and they’ve been able to keep the weight off, but I do know that it is possible to do the same without it and my personal experience has shown me that a new process generated entirely from within is more likely to stay ingrained. I would encourage readers who have had similar experiences with their weight loss to share their stories here in the comments, as well as readers who have had success via medication or surgery. And to ALL who have or are in the midst of changing their lives, may I extend my heartiest encouragement and congratulations!

     Bariatric surgery is another treatment that is becoming widely prevalent in weight control in recent years as well, and is usually considered as an option when a patient is severely overweight or is encountering obesity-related health problems such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Surgery of course is a more drastic solution and is typically performed on patients for whom rapid weight loss is indicated due to potential or existing health concerns. These procedures too require an even greater and more sudden overhaul of a person’s lifestyle and are fraught with greater risks, some long-term. These risks and the post-operative maintenance are usually negligible when compared with the risks of not having surgery done, but some patients feel that they cannot lose a great amount of weight on their own and so turn to it as their only option. Some are also encouraged in this by their doctors, and I personally feel that this may undermine the person’s long-term efforts, having begun the process by not feeling that they can accomplish losing weight themselves via the same methods they’ll have to employ post-surgery regardless. Having said this, I do know several people who have had one of the many forms of bariatric surgery, all with differing results: one has had good success keeping their weight off, having embraced the lifestyle changes and lifelong post-surgery precautions necessary, another has some trouble with the strict dietary curtailments that the procedure imposes and has gained some of their weight back, and a third who gained all their weight back a couple years post-surgery and then some. Prospective candidates for the surgery are routinely required to have preparative counseling ahead of time and during their recovery, to ensure that they are ready to take on the changes necessary for the operation to be successful.

     In addition, there are some less invasive procedures currently being tested and pitched to the FDA, such as balloons that are inserted through the mouth into the stomach and inflated to produce the feeling of being full, therefore prompting the patient to eat less, and a neurological device that is surgically implanted and employs electric pulses to a nerve governing hunger and digestion. I will be curious to see how and if these and similar devices catch on and with what success. One thing is for sure however: there will be no shortage of methods marketed to assist the millions of people seeking to accomplish a hard-won, yet so-rewarding task.

     I will conclude this post by saying that I realize mine is not the only story or method of losing weight, that every person and circumstance is different and that we can all offer insight and help to those who are just beginning their journeys or wondering if they can turn theirs into a success as well. I share my story from the perspective of turning a moment’s clarity, after a lifetime of doubt and feeling trapped by what I thought was my inability to accomplish anything of value, into the greatest eye-opener and triumph of my life, and seek to help others in my shoes do the same. I wish all of you the best of luck and the assurance that yes, you, can. 🙂




Article on iCNN?

So, in browsing for a current news story regarding weight loss today, I stumbled upon an article for iCNN, about a gentleman who had lost 99 lbs after coming to an “A-ha” moment regarding the need to lose weight. At the top of the article CNN encouraged readers who had had similar experiences to write in about their own stories. It is fairly surprising that I had not done anything like this so far, but perhaps I was still not fully ready to face the world so openly about my weight loss, having come from so little an ability to share myself in any context previously. Today, I finally bit the bullet and did so, as my story springs from just such a transitional “click” in my head that finally set me on the right path. I wrote an essay that just poured out of me and was on the screen before I realized I was done writing it. Submitted it with a couple of pictures of myself, all Facebook profile pics (head shots) dating from October 2009 (I started losing weight in April 2009) through June of this year, wishing I had some full body shots of myself before I had started to lose any weight (most of these are with my parents and one close friend), then got in the shower. By the time I had gotten out and sat back down to check my email, I had received one from a producer at iCNN asking me for more details about my story. And for pictures- why did I wait so long to get these, not only for just such an occasion but to post on this blog and Breaking Slim’s FB page too?? Needless to say, there are now some on the way and I hope I can still submit them for this article, maybe even have it published and I will certainly post them here as well. Updates will be forthcoming, hopefully with good news!

Breakfast of champions

This has been an upside down eating week, having baked pork and beans (my boyfriend’s secret recipe, yum!) for breakfast at 3 AM this morning and fruit with whipped cream for lunch yesterday. This is one way I keep food interesting, treating myself in different ways and creating novelty. Sometime this evening I’m going to add a Pina Colada to that mix (ok, I’ll do one thing by the books and stick to the 5 o’clock rule)…

“Does Food Addiction Exist? University of Luxembourg Research Finds Food Addicts Lacking Psychological Inhibition”

“Does Food Addiction Exist? University of Luxembourg Research Finds Food Addicts Lacking Psychological Inhibition”

I can answer this as an unequivocal yes.  From earliest memories on, food and how to consume as much of it as possible was an integral part of my life.  I had no internal stops that cautioned me to slow down after my second bowl of cereal (nor any sense of being full) and there are countless other areas in which I’ve never had one iota of restraint or ability to withstand delayed gratification.  It wasn’t until I’d had my fill of my own lack of willpower, wasn’t able to exist for one more second floating around with such an empty sense of self that the need to take some control became a do-or-die situation.  It still takes work, believe me but these days, I want to fight it and that’s half the battle.

Add a little victory to your day

Have I mentioned how challenging it is to hold your resolve in the face of food (and good food) being available in the next room?  When you’ve just woken up and your gut is dwelling on the fact that you haven’t eaten in 7 hours and wouldn’t a Coke and a little peanut butter cup and a sandwich be really satisfying right now? (Oh, and the peanut butter cup is about 10 feet away.)  Which would satisfy more- the sweet peanut butter, the carbonation and that onion teriyaki mixed with avocado or…. walking out of your house in an hour having not given in to any of the three, head held a little higher, knowing that you’ll be savoring them all doubly much in not-too-long?  That’s a win/win if I ever had one 🙂

I’m back!!

Sooooooo… after my impassioned post previous, I go AWOL for about 5 days.  Why?  Not that my dedication is any less in place, but life has intruded as it has a way of doing.  I’ve been busily searching for some sources of additional income… but as a freelance writer 🙂 Writing will never not be a part of my life henceforth- I now recognize it as part of my being.  Funny how life forms itself, and evolves, around what we need.  As we allow ourselves to need it, that’s the wonder and best part of all.