Dear Longview Hill…

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

The Letter, c. 1906, oil on canvas by Pierre Bonnard

This post is not written for you, dear reader, instead it is a note to my future self. I’m at that point in my weight loss where people are noticing and starting to give me quite a few compliments. It’s wonderfully nice, of course, but it also makes it really real. I did this. After all the years of thinking about it and trying different things – this is it. This is the start of a new me.

But I’ll be really honest, the more real it is, the more scared I am of gaining the weight back on again.

It isn’t a health thing; in December my physician told me that though I was over the weight she’d like me to be at, I was in excellent health. It has a little more to do with the physical looks, but just a little bit. After all, I haven’t gotten rid of all my old clothes yet! Mostly, it has to do with the fact that it is just so darn easy to fall back into old habits. That I know that while I have been at this for a few months now, I am not in a place of permanence yet. So, I thought I would write this post to myself if I ever found myself struggling again. I wanted to write down what has been working for me, so if I ever fell lost, I would know where to turn.

I should say, dear reader, that is not necessarily what you should do. This just my own personal weight loss code.


Dear Long View Hill,

Sounds like you are going through a rough patch. You and I knew this might happen. We’ve known each other all our lives, we know these things can happen. So this is a letter to you – my future me – from your past. If you are ever stuck, or feeling stressed and having a hard time staying on track. Here’s what we know what works for us:

#1. Walk the Dog.

Walking the dog won’t solve all your weight problems, Long View Hill. You had Hermes for over a year and were walking him for up to a couple hours a day there for awhile, and while you lost some weight, it didn’t start really paying off until the rest of the pieces of the puzzle were in place. However, getting outside is good for you. Spending time with your dog is good for you. They are good for your emotions, your sense of calm and your happiness. As a benefit, walking the pooch also burns calories, so if the reason you are gaining weight back has anything to do with stress, this is a good place to start. Hermes will love you for it.

We really should be on a walk right now.

We really should be on a walk right now.

#2. If you bite it, write it.

The moment things started to change for you is when you downloaded the My Fitness Pal app onto your phone. Trying to track calories on a computer doesn’t work for you LVH – we know, we’ve tried that. It is putting the food in your phone as close to having eaten it as possible, (without being super rude while out to dinner with friends,) that makes it work for you. You know you need that immediate feedback. There might come a time where it won’t be as important, but if you are reading this again, it is probably because you fell off the tracking wagon. Time to saddle up and get back on board.

#3. Do Not Go Over the Line

You lost your weight by sticking to the rules. Like tracking, there may be a time where you can be more relaxed with this, but again, if you are reading this, it is time to go back to square one. You know where the base is, My Fitness Pal will tell you where the max is, just stick between those two numbers. You can do it, you’ve done it before! If you get to the end of the evening and see you only have enough calories for green beans for dinner, well, it is time to do Rule #1. A 30 minute walk will buy you enough calories for a bowl of soup and a light salad! Best yet, leave some room – don’t walk the line. Leave some extra calories for the end of the day. Then, if you want a glass of wine or port before bed, you can have them. Remember Long View Hill, if you leave a cushion of unused calories, you won’t go over.

#4. Get Moving – Whatever it Takes

Well, if you are gaining weight, you might not be exercising. Figure out what it is going to take you to get back to it. Bored of running? Join a gym! Take some classes! Do something! Exercising makes you feel better, stronger and more healthier. Don’t forget to slide in a little extra exercise when you can. Keep running up the stairs at home when you do laundry, keep a smile on your face when it is time to shovel snow – and of course, keep walking that pooch!

#5. An Ounce Weighed, is a Pound Saved.

Don’t forget to measure. You don’t need that fancy scale, girl. You can use that $.50 thrift store find you used for the first 3 months of losing weight. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you have to have a fairly good idea of what is really going on. This is why you have three sets of measuring spoons and had to wash them every day. Don’t forget about that.

#6. Every Day – Weigh

Oh my!I heard the groans across the internet as I write this. We’ve all heard the countless reasons why you should never weigh yourself every day. “You’ll get depressed! You’ll quit! It doesn’t help!” The fact is, there are very few scientific studies to back “what everybody knows.” There was, however, a study with college students that showed those that weighed themselves daily were better able to lose weight and keep it off. But regardless, this is not about other people, this is about you. I’m not saying you have to do this for the rest of your life Long View, but I am saying that prevention is the best way to nip problems in the bud. Like Rule #2 and #3, this is one of those things that might change with time, but you know what works for you. If you think the scale is going up – check. Then start following these rules again.

#7. There Are No “Bad” Foods

One of the reasons we’ve been successful is that we decided not to exclude any food. You have to follow rules #2, #3 and #5, but with that in mind, nothing is off limit. I put this here, because I know us. One thing that could happen is we could get all overly into it and start restricting yourself to a particular way of eating. I can see us trying to make all the daily summary numbers on My Fitness Pal come out absolutely perfect. If we’re doing that, knock it off!  It is only a matter of time before we get all frustrated, mad and rebellious and quit everything. Don’t do that, me! Keep in mind you can eat what you want, and you will never feel like you have to eat to prove some kind of point.

#8. This is the most important one of all – Don’t Listen to Everyone Else.

I saved this one for last because I suspect it is the one that is most likely to go wrong. Already we’ve weathered this. Remember the day that Weight Loss Guru Coworker spent 10 minutes telling you different ways to cheat? Remember how the next week she was upset because at her weigh-in she was far short of her goal?  Remember the person who sent you the article about how calorie counters don’t work because they are not perfect. Remember how much weight you lost using one?* This is the most important rule: Do What Works For You! 

There is no magic pill. Different things work for different people. Some people hate My Fitness Pal, other want specific diets. But don’t listen to them – do your own research. Look gal, I know it is fun to talk about weight loss with people, but how many of them have already given you bad advice? I bet the reason you are back here in your blog archives looking at this letter is because you listened to someone else, just because they said something with a lot of confidence. Ignore weight loss advice that conflicts with your own code. Triply ignore advice that goes against your own code that comes from anyone who is still struggling with their own weight loss.

There are three exceptions to this rule: your sister Em, your friend Cee, and your boyfriend (who shall now be known as) Julian. They love you, they know you. They know what you have been through, your history, your temperament and your struggles. They understand you and want the best for you. If you want advice, go to them. Everyone else – tell them to blow it out their ears.

This also is true for articles, blogs and even things on NPR. No matter what someone is doing, there will always be someone in the background being *helpful* saying, “you aren’t doing it right!” Don’t listen to those people. Turn off the news, only read positive blogs, and trust your gut instinct, Long View Hill.

Eat well, exercise, and be happy, Long View. I am depending on you for it!

Love,

Your Past Self.

 

 

* The article basically said that calorie counters aren’t accurate, sometimes because of the information put into them, sometimes because the manufactures make servings bigger than they claim. I say, that’s why you leave a cushion of calories.

Photo credit: cliff1066

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Anticlimactic?

Scales by KJGarbuttWeight Update:

Things have been going quite well! I am now down 23 lbs. (I started losing weight on January 15th.) I am still using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and I’m adding in a lot more exercise. As I wrote yesterday, I have started running a little and I’ve also started weightlifting at home.

Two of the questions I keep getting asked are “So, what is your goal?” and “Are you going to keep losing?” The answer to both is the same: I don’t know. For the first time in a couple of decades I am actually in the Healthy section of the BMI chart. I have dropped from a size 16 pant to a 10. Life is good. But I guess I don’t feel like I am “there” yet. I don’t even know where “there” is. I’m kind of playing it by ear. This might sound weird, but I never thought I could achieve what I have now this quickly. I hit my “pie in the sky” maybe-reach-it-in-a-year goal last week. I don’t have a next plan!

My good friend Cee and I have been talking about all this, and I have mentioned that I have a hard time seeing the changes in myself. I know that seems wacky, but it is true.  Okay, I can see it from the shoulders up. Not so much on my arms, maybe, but that’s because I can’t say I have ever paid much attention to them. But I can see the changes across my chest, definitely on my neck, jawline and cheekbones. I can’t really tell in my legs. I know I have lost there, I’m fitting into skinny jeans for the first time ever, but I can’t really see it. Does that make sense? They are the same shape as always, and they’ve always been pretty thin, (compared to the rest of me, anyway.) I will say that I can feel the difference in my legs. They are firmer and I can see the muscles from all the walking I do. My midsection, though, looks the same as always to me. I know it is different, but again, the shape hasn’t really changed all that much, so it just doesn’t look that different to me.

There might be several things going on here: 1) I think I am starting to look like what I always looked like in my head. I think when I pictured myself I have always had a thinner version in my mind’s eye. Now I am starting to match that, which is wonderful, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel all new and sparkly. It’s not a “Wow!” moment as much as “Yep, knew it all along” moment – and honestly, it’s not as crazy fun as I wish it was. 2) This is has really happened quite quickly. Like I said, I never thought I would lose this much in just 3.5 months. I think it will take some time to get used to. At the same time, 23 lbs isn’t all that much. I see folks that have lost far, far more than that. Now they look different! 3) I don’t have a lot to compare to. I wish I could stand the old me and the new me side by side in the mirror. I also kind of wish I had more photos. I haven’t liked photos of myself for a long time, so I don’t have that many, but I am really wishing I took a few of those terrible Before shots you see people post.

This is what I do know: I’m going to keep doing what is working for me. I’m going to keep running and dog walking. I’m going to keep lifting those weights and doing the plank. I’m going to keep tracking calories. In the end, I will just see where all that lands me.

 

Photo credit: KJGarbutt

Sometimes, You Have to Laugh

From the Amusing Compliments File*Day 279: Smiles by crimsong19

Last night I had a Board Meeting. The conversation went something like this:

Board Member 1 (who knew I was working on my weight): There she is! Miss Skinny Minnie! [followed by additional very kind compliments.]

Board Member 2 (who obviously heard the complimentary tone, but not the content,): Oh yeah! I wanted to say, Long View Hill, that I noticed it right away in the parking lot. You have a new haircut! I thought to myself, Long View Hill looks really cute today! **

Note: I have had roughly the same haircut for about a year now.

Lesson Learned: When you lose 20 pounds, you also get great hair!  Who knew?!

* I share these compliments with you because they make me laugh, but please know that these are not the only things people have said to me. People have been awesome! I have had wonderful support from my boyfriend, my sister, my mother, and all my dear friends. One of my coworkers, who I’ll call Always Annoyed Coworker (as she always seems a little pissed off), raved about my weight loss the other day. This is the first compliment she has given me in the 14 years I’ve known her!

** Though I giggle about this with you, I learned a long time ago that a compliment is a gift. You should never turn down a well intentioned gift. The best thing to say when getting a gift is simply, thank you. My response to Board Member 2 was: Thank you. I appreciate that!

Photo credit: crimsong19

What Makes You Happy?

I ran across this question in a blog today:
question mark by Bilal Kamoon
“What if you were to write down the top ten activities that make you happy and are good for your long-term happiness and health, then start spending most of your time doing those things?”

The blog is about managing finances through a frugal lifestyle, and it interested me enough I’m going back to the beginning and reading my way through. (You’ll see if you click the link that it is from an early entry.) When I read this question it got me thinking.

I thought I would pop over to my own blog and answer it.

  • Spending time playing with my nieces.
  • Long rambling conversations with my boyfriend.
  • Talking with and spending time with my sister.
  • Hanging out with my girlfriends.
  • Preparing food – especially trying new and interesting recipes.
  • Spending a quiet weekend up at my cabin.
  • Long walks with my dog where we explore new places.
  • Spending an hour or more with a great book.
  • Writing – in this blog, in journals, wherever.
  • Being creative, working on projects, building things and making art.

Hmmm… why does it seem like these are the things I spend the least amount of time doing?

Photo credit: Bilal Kammon