Going (Almost) Vegetarian

I’m not ready to commit 100% but I think I need a break from the whole high protein way of life for awhile. It doesn’t seem to be working for me. I don’t feel as good on a low carb diet as I do when I limit meat. I don’t care what is popular in weight loss any more. I feel best when I concentrate on eating whole foods-mostly fruits, veggies, and dairy. So for the next 3 months I’ll be eating mostly vegetarian and vegan dishes. I’ll see how it goes. I now believe even more that plant based is best.

Slow and Steady

After doing more research about nutritional deficits in those of us with inflammatory conditions I am more convinced than ever that even though I am trying to improve my diet by eating lest processed food and increasing my veggies and fruits I’m not hitting my nutritional mark. According to some internet research I’ve been doing it is quite possible that I may need more than the average “healthy” person for my body to function at its optimum.  I have gone from counting calories, trying the primal diet, clean eating, ect all in an effort to get back to a healthy weight.  Right now I am about 25 lbs down from my heaviest and I still have at least 20 to go.  I’m sure I can go on some quick fix diet and lose the excess weight by summer only to find myself in a constant yo-yo state trying to maintain my target weight.  So I am about to Frankenstein a diet that I think will work for me.  I plan to go back to a vegetable based diet.  I will keep my carb count at 150 or less every day, and I will allow myself 1 fun size piece of candy a day to keep me from feeling too deprived.  I will continue to eat poultry and fish but stay away from red meat.  I have vegetarian leanings and I am hoping to one day completely phase meat out of my diet. Right now I’m afraid to do so because I hardly ever hit my recommended daily allowance of iron without giving up meat.  Until I find and incorporate enough iron rich veggies in my diet to meat at least half my recommended daily allowance I will be keeping some meat in my diet.  In addition to really concentrating on keeping my diet clean and vegetable based I will work out at least 3-4 times a week.

Health is a journey and unfortunately there is no quick fix.  I am going to have to understand there will be no 4 lbs lost in a week.  It will be slow and steady for me but I believe eating healthy and exercising will get me where I need to be.  I believe that the long term commitment needed to lose weight in this manner will become a habit and a way of life.  I want a healthy lifestyle more than to look good in a bathing suit this summer.  And who knows, I may even make it to my bikini body by late summer anyway.

Counting

So I’m back to counting calories.  After all, it is the tried and true method in weight loss.  I read somewhere that all diets, no matter how they are packaged, at their core are different methods to reduce calorie consumption.  Whether it is eliminating calorie dense foods such as carbs or highly processed foods the net effect is calorie reduction. Eating more than your caloric output, no matter how healthy or low carb the foods are, will end with weight gain. So I have decided keep a food diary and record the approximate calorie count of everything I eat and drink.  My handy dandy Lose It! app has been a great tool in doing this.  It has set my calorie count at 1406 daily and if I add exercise I get to “eat back” those calories-which is a great motivator to get off my butt and do something even when I don’t feel like it.

Does this mean that I am done eating clean?  NO!  Clean eating, for me, is about making sure that I get the nourishment my body needs.  I want to reduce the non-food elements in my diet.  I don’t believe eating a diet high in man-made foods is the best for MY body.  I believe that I will be healthier overall if I get my nutrients from whole foods rather than enriched foods.  But while eating clean will be a clean element in my return to health, it will no longer be what I rely on for weight loss.  For the weight loss portion of my journey to health I think tracking my calories is my best option.

Still Here

Runners Take Your Mark

Runners Take Your Mark (Photo credit: Dru Bloomfield – At Home in Scottsdale)

Wow!  It’s been a while.  I’ve thought about blogging often but life (mainly work) has been getting in the way.  But on the plus side, I have not abandoned my journey to health.  Last month I signed up to walk the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. I’m really excited because this will be my first 5K ever!  No, I won’t be running.  I am not in good enough shape to even think about running.  Besides, as many arthritis sufferers know winter is not when we are at our peak.  Even though I am in “training” and I’m practicing walking 3 times a week I know my December 7 5K will be a challenge physically.  But I am still very enthusiastic about raising money to help find a cure for arthritis while improving my physical fitness at the same time.

I have discovered some interesting health related discoveries while I have been away.  I have been researching normal weight obesity, intermittent fasting, and resumed counting calories.  This doesn’t mean I have abandoned my goal of eating mostly clean, but the excess weight needs to go now.  I have set the small goal to lose 15 lbs by Christmas this year as a gift to myself. It’s doable.  I just have to apply myself and use every trick in my arsenal to get there.  I don’t want to do any fancy cleanse or fad diet that will have me regaining the 15 plus 5 more in a matter of months.  I am looking for habits that I can use throughout my weight loss and health journey.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Ready

Are you ready?

Those three words seem to be on my mind a lot lately. I was having my annual discussion with a group of friends about where we vow to be in bikini shape for summer. This is the same conversation we have had every January for the past three years. We start out enthusiastic for the first few weeks of the New Year only to see our commitment to a healthy lifestyle wane in the weeks leading up to summer. We find reasons why ice cream with lunch is ok 2 or 3 times a week. We begin sharing new restaurant choices rather than swapping workout stories. By June we find ourselves in the same place we were the year before. Unhappy with the extra weight and self -conscious about the more revealing clothes during the summer, we always vow that next year will be different.
Yesterday I realized that I had changed. Even if I didn’t have the support of my friends I was ready to stop making excuses about my weight and lack of physical fitness. I understood that I was finally ready to get serious and do what I know that I need to do to get this weight off once and for all. Not because I want to wear a bikini this summer (even though I do) but because I am tired of being unhealthy.

I had this resolution in the back of my mind when I went to my appointment with my rheumatologist. I was honest with him in letting him know that although I wasn’t doing bad I wasn’t doing as well as I had been doing in the past. He asked me was I ready to increase my dose of MTX to 25mg? And I said yes. Part of me being healthy is taking care of my disease. I had been dreading this increase in medication as some sort of failure on my part. But sitting in his office today I had better clarity. I had to make a choice for health-which means getting this disease under control before I end up in a prolonged and painful flare. I will now be injecting .5 ml of MTX two times a week. This is the best choice for my health.

So today I can say with conviction that I am finally ready to make the changes in my diet, work out plan, and drug regimen that are needed to keep me healthy. I am no longer waiting for a support system to get on board with my plans. After all- I have the most to lose if I do not support and nurture my health. Who knows, maybe my decision to move on ahead of them will inspire them to catch up.

I May be Your Crazy Neighbor

For me creating and sticking to an exercise regimen is essential.  If I stray from my appointed work-out days too many times I find myself looking at weeks or even months without taking the time to exercise. However, life happens.  An eight hour at work day suddenly morphs into a 13 hour day.  Getting your oil change takes over an hour rather than the 30 minutes promised.  And the days I have a late shift followed by an early morning shift exercise at the gym seems impossible. All of these events seem to happen to me far too regularly requiring me to be more creative in how I get my workout in.

When I realize that too many days have gone by without me getting a workout I often resort to exercising in my house.  No, this doesn’t mean I pop in a DVD and exercise in the living room like a rational person.  I prefer to do my Couch 2 5K workout I normally do on an elliptical in the comfort of my own home

This means someone may see a crazy woman marching or pacing in her living room for no apparent reason.  She then takes off at random intervals running from the living room to the kitchen and back for no apparent reason.  This burst of activity is then followed by that crazy marching/pacing around the living room.  This usually goes on for 30 minutes.  And yes, that crazy person is me.

What is more important than confusing my neighbors and having them questioning my sanity is the fact that I keep up my activity level.  I can’t keep having false starts with my exercise program-gaining strength and endurance only to lose them and have to start from scratch again.  So until life calms down sometimes I’ll be the crazy woman marching in her living room.

Vanity

Weight loss and lifestyle change can be an explosive issue.  All you have to do is tell a group a people your weight loss and diet modification goals and you will see what I mean.  It seems that individuals can feel extremely threatened by choices you make about how you want to take care of your body.  They will tell you that your goals are driven by vanity.  They will remind you that you are not as young as you used to be and that you cannot regain the tight and fit body you had in your teens and twenties.  Why would you even consider aiming for a weight and BMI at the lower end of your recommended range? After all, a “woman’s” body has extra weight on it.  Being that thin wouldn’t look right.  Because filling out a pair of jeans in all the right places should be our number one concern-not that our bodies are being nourished correctly. Some will go so far to tell you that you will be hurting your health-how dare you commit to a plant based diet.  Man cannot live without routinely consuming fast food you know.

The idea that a journey to health is much t deeper than its visual outcome is hard for some comprehend.  Sure I hope to be on the slim side.  My joints can only profit from having less stress on them.  Both my rheumatologist and I agree that losing weight would be a drug free step I could take that would help me manage my disease.  My diet must have an abundance of fruits and veggies because I poison my body twice a week with a chemotherapy drug.  If you are going to inject poison it only stands to reason you should try the best you can to counter that with nutrients that will maximize the body’s ability to function well.  And that may mean that french fries become a monthly indulgence rather than weekly-and I’m ok with that.

Sure, I hope to see visual rewards of my journey to health.  I expect clearer skin, a smaller waist, and the possibility of fearless jean shopping.  But my true goal is health.  I want to give my body what it needs to work at its optimum level-whatever it may be. And that is not vanity.