CleanEating

Heading Back Down

 Well, after once again maxing out near my all-time high weight, I am headed back down again. I don't know why I let myself go until I hit that crisis point before turning around, but it feels much better to be losing weight than it does to be gaining it. My body physically feels much better. 

I am trying to focus on wise eating choices and clean eating. Kathy has been feeling extra fatigued, so I'm trying to prepare food for her and the whole family that will be dense in micronutrients and antioxidants, such as berries, raw nuts, and lots of leafy green veggies.

I don't have much else to say other than it is embarrassing to be here once again, into the month of May, and to be starting over again for the most part. But I'm swallowing my pride and continuing to write about the journey.





Famous Last Words

The things that make me sick, tired and over weight are the same things that make me feel stuck, depressed and stranded. When I eat better and when I move more, I feel much better in every regard. My skin is clearer, my sleep is better, and my energy is higher. I feel "cleaner." When I eat poorly and am sedentary, I feel tired, unmotivated, and just plain "blah." 

But there are not easy fixes or magic quick answers. Just as I'm learning about many things in my work life and in relationships, it is the longer-term, day to day consistency that is what pays off. And so it is for my health. I can't afford to let myself continue to be trapped in the lies that try to pull me down. I have got to take the time each day to eat nutritious food, whether that means buying it or making it. I've got to take the time to walk and stretch my muscles and work my heart. I've got to take time to continue learning about nutrition so that I stay motivated, and I need to record my struggles and my progress each day.





Starting Again

I've fallen prey to the same traps that have consumed me in the past. After getting started again, I've failed to do the things that keep me focused in the right direction. Snacking on something extra turns into eventually eating whatever I want, ignore the clean eating principles that have helped me so much. And failing to track the good foods I eat, failing to study each day about nutrition or fitness to keep it on the top of my mind, and failing to write each day about the progress keep me from being mindful about what I'm doing and result in slowly slipping away and ceasing to remember.  

I'm finally feeling nearly 100% after recovering from pneumonia. I lost my appetite entirely when I was so sick. But as I've begun to feel better, it has returned to fully capacity. Another lesson learned: while I felt sick, I delighted in losing weight and not eating much. I'd sometimes miss two of three meals. And I wasn't eating all of the good stuff I should. But I felt like saying "who cares? I'm losing weight, aren't I?" Well, the problem is my body, which had been used to a flood of nutritious food and antioxidants, then experienced a shut-down of the flow of nutrition. I may have lost weight, but I started to starve my body of the nutrients it needed. That not only compromised the health and healing of my body, but it pulled me further and further from sound nutritional principles, leaving me to languish in the world of moderately-healthy food, or even unhealthy food. 

So, in some ways I hate to say it, because I wish it were not the experience, but here I am starting again. But in other ways I'm glad to say it, because it means I am starting again and that hope is in sight of feeling better in terms of energy and clean eating. 





3/22/16

Well, the good intentions... As I've been hovering around the 20 lbs lost mark, my appetite has suddenly dramatically increased this week. Part of it has to do, I'm sure, with finally getting over pneumonia and feeling like eating again. But part of it is a cycle. Eat something salty or sugary, and my body craves more salt and more sugar. For months, passing ice cream in the grocery store has not been a temptation at all. I picture allergies to the milk in it, and clogged arteries from the cream. But today, for some reason, I bought a small container and thought I'll just taste it. And that taste turned into eating 3 servings worth. Kathy made Easter sugar cookies, and just a nibble turned into eating a bunch. And those are really bad: cream cheese in the batter and shortening in the icing. Anyway, as the pounds start to inch upward again, I am re-committing to staying full of clean foods so that I can get rid of the cravings that start to intrude.





3/20/16

Preparing for my annual physical later this week. If I lose another 2 lbs this week, I will go in weighing 20 lbs less than when I went for my previous physical a year and a half ago. The good news about that is, rather than being a short-term sprint, this will represent a slow, steady progress. Imagine if I were to lose 20 pounds year over year. Soon I wouldn't need to, but if I did so until at a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle, this would be a more consistent approach and I imagine it would be much longer lasting. 

To get there this week, I need to re-introduce the fresh vegetables and beans that I've been without the past several weeks as I've been through quite a bit of sickness and haven't been wanting to eat much. I've noticed a difference in not feeling strength and energy needed for many of life's demands, and I think that restoring fresh produce and beans will help tremendously, especially since I've been feeling a bit better recently in terms of recovering from the sickness I've had for the past several weeks. 





3/19/16

One concept I've been using lately is something shared with me by my son that is a principle from addiction treatment. It is called "Fast-forward the fantasy." The concept is that when we are tempted to indulge in something that we know is not good for us, the draw to it can be extremely powerful. During those moments of temptation, we seem to only think about the physical pleasure we will receive if we indulge. Our minds quickly supply all the rationalization we may need: "you can start over tomorrow," "just once won't hurt," or "you deserve it because life has been so ... (Fill in the blank...stressful, empty, etc." But, rather than giving in to the temptation, one can instead fast-forward in time past the point of indulging in whatever it is that we are trying to overcome. Often, after a moment of pleasure comes reality -- guilt, regret, emptiness, helplessness, frustration, and a literal feeling of "coming down" off of whatever artificial high the addiction has produced. The trick behind fast forwarding the fantasy is to think about and even try to experience in advance those feelings that will come if you do decide to indulge. They are much less alluring than the feelings that lead one to indulge in the first place. For me, this has been really helpful in the areas of salty foods and sugary foods. Sugary foods make me week and give me acid reflux. Instead of imagining the sugar-high produced after eating them, if I instead think of the feeling of physical weakness and the acidic feeling in my stomach, I find that the temptation loses much of its allure. Likewise, if I think of salty foods as drying up my body of the moisture it needs and raising my blood pressure, the trade off hardly seems worth it. I hope to continue assembling tools like this to fight the addictions I face relating to food, and I'm grateful to my son for sharing these ideas with me.





3/1/16

Noticed a bit of progress today. I went to the grocery store late in the evening, after skipping lunch, and was very hungry. Not a good decision usually, as it probably wasn't today. But here are a few things I noticed:

  • I was mentally kind of looking for an excuse to eat junk ... "I deserve it after a long day and it wouldn't be so bad because I've hardly had much to eat today"
  • I was in a setting where "no one would know." In the past, this has involved me purchasing junk and eating it before going home
  • I am in a habit of buying things at the store to consume on the drive home, whether healthy or less healthy

But, as I wandered the store, deciding what to buy, my cravings were not for the high-sugar, highly-processed or high-sodium items. I wasn't tempted for ice cream, chips, candy or crackers, but more for granola, health-food peanut butter with dark chocolate, juice, etc. In some ways I thought this was a good sign that my tasks and desires are changing when it comes to food. There have been times in the past where the cycle of buying and eating junk food at grocery and convenience food stores led me to consuming 1,000 - 3,000 calories all just off that one shopping experience, consumed entirely by the time I got home. Not this time...my indulgence led me to some all-fruit Popsicles, a bunch of frozen no-sugar-added fruits I can blend into smoothies, and a huge bottle of water.





2/29/16

Well, here is to starting over again. This past week was somewhat disasterous. I felt like I was still trying to catch up on sleep throughout it, and didn't give my best effort to consume healthy, Daily Dozen type foods, nor to record what I was doing each day, nor to stay involved with reading new things about nutrition. As a result, the first day or two were ok and then it became progressively worse throughout the week. Too much sugar, not enough nutrition. Too much sodium. But, despite this setback, I am ready to recomit and reconnected to the clean eating lifestyle.

The good news is my weight, after a week of feeling out of it and depressed, is the same as when I started after returning from vacation, so I am thinking of it as the lost week that I can now move on from. It is frustrating, or I guess I should say, I am frustrating. But I am moving forward.





1/27/16

Today was a day of meetings. I started the morning with an Acai smoothie and headed into the meetings. Had lunch with Bishop Remer at Taco Bell, which is a challenging place to go and eat anything nutritious. I had a pintos and cheese (yellow), a bean burrito (yellow) and water. More than the nutritional content, I am concerned about the amount of sodium -- had to be a huge amount.   





1/26/16

Kathy was really sick today with a cold virus, so it was a different kind of day. Everything went quickly by, and not much happened out of the ordinary. I ate clean food choices for at least 80% of the day. But a lot of it was in the evening, which, of course, means my weight stays the same in the morning





1/25/16

Frustrated with myself this morning. Weighed in at 252 lbs, and I understand there will be ups and downs in my weight based on a number of factors, but I have not done things to help myself this past week very much. I, once again, ate food right before bed last night, and once again was too liberal about what constitutes "yellow" food and how much to eat. 

I had steak, more than I planned on eating, for dinner. It was high in sodium and is clearly a yellow food, but I kept on eating it rather than only eating the amount on my plate. I also ate lemon blueberry pancakes that Bekah got out for lunch. And I even put maple syrup on them, which is either a yellow or a red food, and yet I kept eating them. And then Kathy made Strawberry bread and I nibbled at that, with the nibbles turning into eating pieces of it. So, overall, I had a day of eating much more yellow food and probably some red, rather than making it to the 80% green target.  

The lack of fresh vegetables, especially greens, in my diet this past week is really telling. I feel less hydrated and more like eating starchy foods. I also have done poorly at planning out what to eat in advance, compared with other weeks. I will get both of these back on track this week and pair them with exercise. My goal is to walk at least 5,000 steps per day each day this week and to do at least one exercise routine through an app each evening this week. 





1/22/16

Slept in late again this morning. The alarms went off at 5:30 - 5:45 and no one woke up. We've been getting much less sleep since the kids have been back to their school schedule (with Ryan having Seminary at 6:30 every morning), so we've been getting up to ready family scriptures together at 5:45 each morning. The late start led to me getting right to work as quickly as I could, which led to me just eating a banana for breakfast. Now, it is 12:10pm and all I've eaten for the day so far is a banana. I need to get up and go find sometimes more to eat so I don't get too weak. 

My blood pressure has been pretty good recently, with a whole string of readings below 120/80. So, I cut my Atenolol blood pressure medicine down to 25mg for one of the two doses per day, leaving the other at 50mg. That seems to have raised it back up just a bit as I've now been getting readings between 120-130 for the top number and between 80-90 for the bottom number. I notice the cleaner I eat and the more hydrated I am, the better these readings tend to be. I need to keep up the good eating and drinking lots of water and see how it responds on this new level of medicine. 

I am starting to get worried about eating on our upcoming 3 week vacation. Two of the weeks are a cruise -- to Italy and Spain -- and the remaining week is a tour of some other European countries, including France and England. Kathy indicated on our registration forms that I need a diet low in sodium, cholesterol and sugar, but Norweigian Cruise Lines operate using a freestyle dining system, meaning you aren't just going to the same dining room every day to eat, so I am not sure how they will keep track of dietary needs when they never know where or when I will be eating. But I suppose my greater concerns have to do with trying to justify myself in not maintaining my 80% green light, 20% yellow light and 0% red light food commitment. One or two steps down the slope of just indulging in whatever I want, since it is a vacation, and I will so easily tumble back into old patterns, put on 10-15 pounds and be right back where I started. So, I've got to come up with some good plans that balance a way to enjoy the freedoms of vacation while also eating healthy foods. And I want to consciously plan to be active physically as well so that I feel much better with the time adjustments that will be required.





1/19/16

Today, I weighed in in the 250s, a target I've been looking forward to for a while. When I'm in the 260s and 270s, my clothes don't fit well, my blood pressure is strained, I have low energy, I don't like the way I look, and some movements are difficult, such as bending to get things on the ground. In the 250s, I feel like I start to take an edge off of the super-high weight. Even still, it won't be until 243 that I hit the 10% weight lost target and feel more able to do things like work out. But moving into a different set of 10s on the scale feels encouraging. 

I don't know how many times I've lost weight and told myself "I will never allow myself to weigh in the 270s again, or the 260s, etc." only to end up there once again once I quite trying and quit caring. Putting the pounds on happens so quickly. I remember being down to 220 lbs right when we were about to move to Colorado. I made a trip here (we owned the house already) to get some work done in a concentrated period of time, and I remember stepping on the scale and hitting the 220 mark. I had been doing personal training in Arizona for some time, and I reached the point of losing more than 50 lbs. But I felt like I was starving...I eating a low carb diet, mostly meats and vegetables. Before I left Colorado to head back home, I went to the store and bought a box of chocolates and ate the whole thing. Then I went to The Black Eyed Pea restaurant and ate a huge meal of stuff that was fried. It was like I had held my breath as long as I could tolerate and was finally letting go and returning to my old eating habits. And I did...the cravings and the old habits returned with a vengeance and I put the pounds back on 5 at a time for the next few months, finding myself right back where I had started. 

It's not like I was unaware of what was happening--I knew the talk about changing your lifestyle forever rather than going on a deprivation diet. But the truth was I didn't want to have a life where I was deprived of what I wanted, so I was holding on until I lost enough weight, so I could then return to my old ways. The problem was, returning was like surrendering to nearly-uncontrollable cravings. I remember being in church and having an immense craving to leave right then and go buy two or three bags of candy and down them all at once. It didn't make much sense at all, but I remember the feeling being so powerful it nearly consumed me.