What Recovery Means

Yesterday was a rough day for me. I’m lucky, as I haven’t had too many of these kinds of days lately, but last night I really struggled with some personal issues and keeping my deep desire to emotionally eat in check. The day started well enough, but slowly I just sort of lost the plot on the day and some sadness crept up and settled in for a long stay. I’d like to chat here about how my food issues were involved, as it’s a case-study in emotional eating.

Pretty early on in the day (before lunch) I started thinking about frozen yogurt. I usually try to treat myself to a trip to the local Menchie’s franchise at least once a week to feed my need for treats. It keeps me in check, and keeps my historical cravings for things like banana splits and whole pints of Ben & Jerry’s at bay. Because the day was rather overcast and cool, and the future forecast for the week showed warmer, sunnier weather, I decided to ditch the froyo idea for the day and hold off for a more appropriate day.

I snacked on some kale chips (not really my thing, to be honest) and a half banana to tide me over until dinner. Sometime between the snack and dinnertime things went south QUICKLY with my mood. That old, familiar depressed feeling crept in. I was sad, lonely, craving something I couldn’t put into words. It probably didn’t help that I was watching enormously depressing documentaries on female infanticide and true crime shows on tv. By the time I needed to leave the house to run an errand, I started to think about a Five Guys cheeseburger, and how I could get one in my mouth while attending to that errand.

I managed to stave off the burger, but by the time I returned home I had fully hit that pre-binge food paralysis. Do you know it? It’s that feeling where your mind is ruminating over all the things you might be able to cram down your throat, the things you SHOULD eat (and how none of that sounds good enough right now), and that keeps you in your chair, paralyzed in a dark place. It makes the hunger worse, the feeling worse. In that food paralysis, I even took to what I call “angry chores”. This is a more recent development for me. Historically I’d just let the house wallow in uncleanliness, but now, if I didn’t know what to do about food or my sadness, dammit, those dishes were at least going to get washed!

Finishing up the cleaning, I still was in a rut. I was still talking myself through it – trying to force-feed myself all of the helpful advice I’ve learned in therapy: “You’re uncomfortable emotionally – THAT’S OKAY! Be okay with the feeling!” But the need, the desire to fill the hole in my heart with comfortable food was compelling.

Here I’ll get to the single-most effective strategy I can employ to defeat these urges when they arise: PREPAREDNESS.

Had I not already had pre-cooked chicken breast in the fridge, I might have driven down to the Five Guys. Or I might’ve even ordered myself a pizza. But no, I had food ALREADY MADE in the fridge, and all that stood between me and a satisfactory meal was a minute in the microwave. It wasn’t what I WANTED, but the reality is that food is merely fuel. It’s not my friend, it isn’t someone to talk to when there’s no one else around. I knew that the best thing for me wasn’t to go to bed on an empty stomach, but to fuel myself with a respectable dinner.

I won’t lie – when I finished up the bowl of chicken and beans I LICKED IT DRY AND STILL WANTED MORE. When merely fifteen or twenty minutes had past after finishing and I was already visualizing myself taking the tub of TruWhip Light out of the fridge and going to town on it with a spoon, I decided the best strategy at this point was to just go to bed.

As much as I feel this experience on 20/20 Lifestyles over the last nine months has changed me, it hasn’t changed the fact that I’m still a binge eater. I still am motivated to eat bad things when I feel bad. It’s upsetting, because there are times when you think, “I’ve SO GOT THIS! I’ve beaten this! I have overcome! I’m a winner!” So when the old familiar urges and behaviors arise, you’re faced with a reality that might make you feel not as powerful…

But screw that! I knew, when I was heating up my chicken and weighing out the amount of guacamole and salsa on my digital food scale, that this was A WIN. I knew that when I went to bed instead of curl up with a tub of TruWhip Light, I was the victor in the battle. I knew that because I didn’t cave to a delivery pizza or a cheeseburger in a time of emotional craving, that THAT was a display of power. And this morning I feel a sense of PRIDE. I haven’t won this war – it’s clearly still being waged and may ALWAYS be an issue for me, but I have the tools, the strategies, and the internal power to have a win now and then. And more wins than losses means I come out ahead. And I’m happy with that!

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Weigh-In Update: Program Goal Reached! Over 75 Pounds Down!

Hey everyone!!! Lot’s of exciting things are afoot here at Julie Loses! HQ. I’ve been out and about on a couple hiking adventures, including my first summit of Rattlesnake Ridge near North Bend, WA. Take a look at my “Day in the Life” video below for full coverage (including some shots of my adorable puppy towards the end!)!

While the workout and activity front this past month has been AMAZING, the scale hasn’t been playing along. In my last post I updated you on my first weight gain on the 20/20 Lifestyles program, and I’ve been watching the scale closely to see when this first real plateau would abate.

I’m happy to announce that as of this morning, the plateau is officially over. I weighed in at 196.6 lbs on the home scale, down 3 lbs from last week’s weigh-in of 199.6. Stoked! Extra exciting was having a dietician appointment today and seeing 196.0 lbs on their scale. My program goal for the end of Phase 2 was 199.0 lbs, and I was way happy to blast through the goal. Unfortunately, no bells went off, nor party whistles sounded, nor confetti rained down – but you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face all afternoon.

This brings my total loss since August to over 75 lbs. 75 FRICKIN’ POUNDS! I never thought that I had it in me to lose that much weight. Of course for years and years I’ve WANTED to be someone who was capable of such a feat, but only now have I really proven it to myself. I can lose this weight, and now I feel pretty confident that I can maintain this weight loss.

One thing that’s worried me from time to time has been how I will maintain this new healthy lifestyle while working full-time. If you’re new here, you may not know that I stopped working last year due to some health issues, and after wrangling them I decided to dedicate a block of my time to working on ME. The opportunity was there, and it was just TIME.

While I certainly love my leisure time and have been taking full advantage of my extraordinarily fortunate situation, I do need to go back to work eventually. As the weight comes off and my fitness improves, I’ve found a lot more confidence, and wanting to get back into the working world has been another surprising result. I’m ready for my career to take off again, and started putting out feelers for employment a couple weeks back.

Lucky me, I found a job listing that seemed a perfect fit for me, close to home, and they liked my resumé enough to invite me in for an interview later this week. Squee! The only downer is I don’t have ANY professional attire since losing all this weight. All of my old work clothes fall off me now, so I had to go find some interview-appropriate attire. THAT was quite the experience, and if you’re interested in hearing more about my epic win at the local Lane Bryant clothing store, I encourage you to watch the Update Video below!

My interview is on Thursday, so keep your fingers crossed that they like me, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Weigh-In Update: Basketball & Backslides – with video

Hope all you fine people are having an amazing Friday! Yesterday I recorded, edited, and posted my weekly weigh-in update, and I’ll link it below!

If you’re not able to watch right now but your curiosity just won’t go away until then, here’s the gist: I gained 0.2 lbs between last week’s Tuesday weigh-in and this Tuesday’s weigh in. Boo! First official gain on the program – had to happen sometime, right? But my measurements were taken on Wednesday and they were NOT a let down. Fancy table below:

Initial 24-wk P2 Wk 5 5 week loss Total loss
Neck 16″ 13.75″ 13.25″ -0.25″ -2.75″
Chest 54.75″ 46.5″ 45″ -1.5″ -9.75″
Waist 51″ 39.5″ 37.5″ -2″ -13.5″
Hips 57.25″ 49″ 47.5″ -1.5″ -9.75″
Right Arm (Bicep) 19″ 15″ 14.5″ -0.5″ -4.5″
Right Leg (Thigh) 36″ 28″ 26.5″ -1.5″ -9.5″

Holy cow, amiright? If you add that entire last column together it totals 49.75″ – that’s over FOUR FEET from just those areas alone! That’s a lot of space I’m no longer taking up, and I’m pretty happy about that. Next week I hope to report that I’m back in Onederland – maybe I should set up another reward – HAHAHA JUST KIDDING!

Oh, and if you get a chance to check out the video, there’s some footage of me playing basketball that is NOT to be missed!

Hiking Misadventures #1

I sincerely hope this doesn’t become a feature but in all likelihood – what with my penchant for hiking and discovering new local trails – I’m bound to get into some trouble from time to time. Let’s just hope all future misadventures end as awesome as this first one did.

On Sunday I was looking to take advantage of the wonderfully non-rainy Seattle weather and get outdoors. Hiking is always at the top of my activity list, but I didn’t necessarily want to just hit up my tried and true local park, Saint Edward State Park. I had previously noticed that one of my followers on Twitter (have you followed me? If not, DO EEET!) was a serious outdoorsman and seemed to know local trail systems pretty well. He had a bunch of recent posts highlighting Tiger Mountain, which is located near Issaquah, WA (about a half hour drive from me) and I thought he would be a great contact for advice on getting to know the mountain. So I sent him a quick message to request his expertise:

I looked up trail maps to cross-reference his recommendation and made the snap decision to try it out THAT DAY. After preparing a sandwich lunch, filling my trusty water bottle, lacing up my hiking boots, and slathering on sunblock, I swiftly drove to the Tradition Plateau trailhead off Interstate 90. Once there, I doused myself with some more high-SPF sunblock, fired up RunKeeper, and started on the trail.

The heavily-traveled, well-manicured Bus Trail gets one into the forest, and I made a left at the Nook Trail junction. The Nook – with quiet brooks running along nearby, ferns swiping my shins, and lush Northwest foresty-vibe – was far less traveled. I only spotted two families as I hiked the length of the trail ’til it meets the Talus Rocks Trail. A member of one of the families was SMOKING A CIGARETTE and I could smell it about ten minutes before I even met him. WHY would you come out to a place like this and then light up a cigarette? SMH.  ANYWAYS.  The second half of Nook was pretty challenging for me as it just kept going up and up and up. Definitely got my heart rate up and I could feel the sweat soaking my shirt where it met my backpack!

When I got to the site of the Talus Waterfall I came across a small group having a picnic lunch on the very rock pile that *I* was hoping to eat lunch on. Harrumph! The trail got kinda wiggy at this point, shooting off in a variety of directions, so I inquired with the group which direction would take me to the West Tiger #3 Trail. They pointed in a direction across the creek where the waterfall was, well, falling, but there didn’t seem to be any way to get down there… oh wait, you mean I need to climb down those exposed tree roots, cross the creek, and then jump over a natural rock “V” blocking what might be a trail across the way??? Ooooooh-kayyyy….

Yeah, at this point the trail got a little more “technical” than I was prepared for. I asked for “easy to moderate”, and to me that doesn’t include scrambling! But I couldn’t very well turn back at this point, so I did my best to traverse the sketchy terrain without falling to an early (and embarrassing) death. If you had put a trail like this in front of me six months ago I would have backed away, laughing. Adding to that, I have a fear of heights that’s sort of ridiculous. I get a little vertiginous being only a few feet off any precipice, and having to get from one level to another that’s at least my height is very intimidating. Especially alone!

In any case, I managed the terrain with no damage and meandered through the remaining stretch of Talus Rocks until I arrived at the next major junction – which is where I *thought* I would turn left and head down the trail, but the signage was… open to interpretation. A family was descending nearby from the eastern upper slope so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask for direction. I explained what I was looking for, and the father indicated that there was signage above us that pointed out the trail I was looking for heading up to the top of the mountain, with a junction to the left that was likely the route I was looking for. Fair enough.

I ascended to the signage, there just as he had promised, and cut to the left onto a surprisingly smaller trail. Hmmmm. Not what I was expecting, but I’ll go with it. This section of the trail was far more “wild” than most of what I had encountered previously. And then any semblance of a maintained trail went completely out the window and I was climbing down a steep, rutted GASH in the mountain. I always avoid steep downhill descents because I a) am clumsy, b) don’t have what I would call great knee strength, and c) am sure I’m going to lose my footing and tumble down, suffering mortal injury. SURE OF IT.

As I slowly descended, finding footholds and occasional handholds wherever I could, I lost hope that the steepness would ever let up. Those hopes were dashed when I encountered a couple of serious-looking hikers trekking up the trail with HIKING POLES. I asked them to help me figure out my location and lo and behold, I was on the COMPLETELY WRONG TRAIL. Not only was I on the wrong trail, but this trail is known to be one of the most treacherous in the system, the Cable Line Trail. This trail is almost exclusively used by serious hikers training for serious ascents like Mount Rainier as a local conditioning trail. The Washington Trails Association describes it as:

What a workout! The Cable Line Trail on Tiger Mountain is not for the weak of heart, nor the weak of knees. A steep, slippery incline awaits you here, climbing over 2,000 feet in just 1.5 miles to the summit of West Tiger 3.”

And Trail WIKI describes it thusly:

The Cableline Trail is steep, loose, rocky, wet, and muddy. This is a very difficult trail to reach the West Tiger 3 summit. The Cableline Trail was originally not even a trail it was a straight shot to the top of the peak for running cable back when the mountain was being actively logged. The trail is used today by hikings (sic) and climbers to work on strengthening your muscles used on steep terrain.”

Yeahhh. This was so not the hike I was looking for! After the two serious dudes dashed my hopes for any flattening out below, I decided to start ascending to get back to the original junction and go with the trail I originally thought to travel. The two were outta sight within two minutes and I was left heaving myself up the unforgiving climb. My knees were stinging, my calves were sad, my ego was bruised.

I think I may have been hallucinating at one point, because I’m pretty sure I saw a bizarre trio of ten-year-old blonde girls giggling, squealing, and RUNNING down the steep trail just ahead of me. As I looked up one of them fell and skidded about ten feet down the trail – sounding delighted the entire time. She dusted herself off, shouted “No blood!” and continued to laugh hysterically as they galloped down the tricky terrain. Forest sprites? Apart from another serious-looking solo hiker with poles who came into view behind them and didn’t seem to pay them any attention as he passed, they appeared to have no chaperone… where they even REAL?!?

After what felt to my legs like forever I reached the top of that unmaintained “trail” and made my way down the mountain via a better-maintained trail. My legs were shot, though. The trail just went down, down, down. Unrelentingly. Even though it wasn’t nearly as steep, it was still steep ENOUGH to cause my knees to feel like they were gonna cave in at any moment. I think I walked roughly double the actual length of the descent because I made tight switchbacks to alleviate some of the stress on my knees. By the time I got back to the bottom, I was ready to be DONE hiking.

Once I settled into bed that night, I looked up the Cable Line and found out the true nature of the trail. And while I felt a little dumb for getting myself onto that forsaken trail in the first place, what I felt even more of was PRIDE. I made it down at least a half mile of that desperately difficult trail and I survived it. I didn’t fall to my death, I didn’t freeze in fear and call for help. I was smart enough to know my limitations and made the wise decision to head back up instead of risk injury. And I did it WITHOUT POLES!

Sure, my knees and calves hate me now, and likely will for the next week or so, but I feel kinda badass. My legs didn’t crumple beneath me, I didn’t slide to injury or death, and that was because I’ve worked my butt off these past 8 months getting myself into better physical shape. My strength shone through on Sunday and I’m embracing that as the lesson. Well, that plus the importance of a functioning GPS with maps, and to not always trust the advice of a stranger on a trail. Can’t wait for the next adventure – next time I’m getting to the top of that mountain!

I’ll leave you with video from my day – this is a slightly new format, taking on the theme of “Day in the Life” – it’s a cut of my day from start to end. Hope you enjoy, as I hope to make it a new feature.

Welcome to “Onederland”!

I DID IT!!! The last few weeks I’ve been going on and on and ON about a silly number on a scale, but I don’t care if it’s lame because getting under 200 pounds is something I never thought I’d be able to achieve at this stage in my life. AND I FRICKIN’ DID IT!!!

On Friday I hopped on the scale and it read 199.8 lbs, but I saw the digital display weight teeter-tottering around so I wasn’t ready to celebrate just yet. I climbed off, took a big breath in and out, reset the scale, and climbed back on. 199.6 lbs was its stable readout the second time around, and with that, I declared victory. I let out a raucous “Woo hooooo!” and then had to quiet the nerves of my dog, who was startled in the other room (lol!).

You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

I was of course eager to purchase my reward – I settled on the Canon Powershot S110. It’s a slightly older model with 24 frames-per-second HD video (it was cheaper, too – bonus!). It took me forever to navigate over to the shopping center, find the Best Buy (it was hidden underground!), pick up the camera and a couple memory cards, travel to another mall across town for another errand, and finally drive home where I could unbox the camera and get the battery charging. If you check out my video above (which I really hope you do because I am quite proud of this particular edit), you’ll see the new camera footage beginning at around the 3-minute mark!

Even after traipsing around (and maybe getting lost at) two malls, I was still at only 6,000 steps. Why am I paying attention to steps? Well, I always try to stay above 5,000 steps per day, but this past Wednesday I began Roni Noone’s #100kSteps Challenge – it’s basically to get 100,000 steps logged in my Fitbit within 7 days. At an average of 14,000+ steps per day, that’s a pretty tall order for me! It would certainly be the most I’ve ever had in a week. I had been kinda slacking off in the steps arena for a bit, so this challenge was a ripe opportunity to kick things back into gear.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve been KILLING IT with the steps so far! Each day, I’ve exceeded my required daily average.

I’ve been working HARD to maintain these step numbers. Dragging myself into the gym for long workouts when I wasn’t feeling it, going on a hike at Saint Edward State Park, parking a quarter mile from any entrance, walking around my living room – even emptying the dishwasher piece by piece instead of stacking types of dishes together (okay, the silverware is done in bulk – let’s not go crazy!). I can’t imagine doing this long term, but I can definitely manage it for a week.

So yeah, things are going well for me right now! The scale and I are taking a little break from our daily morning meet ups and I instead will only be weighing in every Tuesday. The push to Onederland definitely sent me a little loopy with the numbers, and I could use a mental respite from it for a little while. Next goal? Well, I have this challenge I’d like to successfully complete. If I can persist with the good numbers and come in at or over 100,000 steps for the week, I think I’ll pick myself up a teapot with an infuser for brewing loose leaf tea, as I’m quite fond of the new Teavana release of the Oprah Chai Tea.

But as for numbers on the scale, I have no real set goal. You’ll notice in my sidebar that I have an ultimate goal weight of 150 lbs – followed by a few question marks. That’s ‘cuz I don’t know where I wanna ride this train to just yet. I’m going to focus on little goals. Getting into the 180’s, then the 170’s, etc. But trying not to go too crazy about any of it. The important thing is that I’m feeling SO MUCH STRONGER and I have SO MUCH MORE ENERGY now that I’ve lost 70+ pounds from my highest weight. And I have a long way to go, so I know it’s only gonna get better the more I lose.

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase an item that I’ve linked to here, I may receive a small compensation from the seller.

The Dark Side of Weight Loss: A Weigh-In Update and Confession

The video above is a read-through of the text below, so either one you pick to read or watch will give you the same info!

Welcome to a very special installment on Julie Loses, lol!

This experiment with a goal reward is not going exactly as I planned. Or maybe just not how I had hoped. If you aren’t caught up on my earlier posts, I decided to attach a compact digital camera as a reward for hitting Onederland – 199.8 lbs or less on the scale. Overall I think the idea of setting goals and assigning rewards is a good thing. I’ve definitely been more motivated over the last week or so, because I REALLY want that camera in my hands!

One of my objectives for this blog is to be completely open about the experience, thus I have to be honest about this goal experience in particular: I do not think assigning weight-based goal rewards is the best idea for me (note the “for me” part, your mileage may vary). While I have been more motivated to push myself in my workouts, and to keep my eyes on the proverbial prize, I am not proud of this morning’s activities surrounding my weekly weigh-in. It’s harkening back to the earlier months on the program when my weekly numbers were a tad too important for me, and I would participate in “intermittent fasting” each Tuesday morning before my dietician appointment. On with the confession…

Yesterday I made the irresponsible decision to taper off my water intake. I drank a bunch of tea hoping it would flush my system and didn’t get in my normal eight or more cups of water. This morning, instead of getting up at a reasonable time and adhering to my normal weigh-in routine, I instead waited to get up until I was ready to (WARNING: TMI ALERT!) have a bowel movement. I find I typically have one first thing in the morning, and then another in the mid-morning a bit after breakfast, so today I waited until noon to weigh myself, to get the “full benefit”. And I refrained from taking in any liquids or food until after my weigh-in. When the number on the scale didn’t quite meet my goal of 199.8 or less, I forced myself to try to eliminate more waste material to reduce by mere ounces – by leaving the faucet running to arouse the need to urinate, rubbing my belly to promote #2’s, running around the house… you get the idea.

I didn’t eat until a half hour ago, after I finally gave up and resigned myself to the number I saw on the scale. That number on the scale, mind you, was nothing to scoff at. I’m down 1.8 lbs this week to an amazing 200 lbs. This may help explain my ridiculous desire to “go” just a little bit more to try to break into the 100’s, but it certainly doesn’t excuse my actions. This is the dark side of weight loss for me. The unhealthy side. Instead of celebrating a respectable 1.8 lbs loss I find myself feeling deflated. And if I *did* achieve that 199.8 lbs on the scale after doing what I did this morning, I don’t think the achievement would have felt as sweet. There’d be some bitterness, some regret. I feel it even now. It’s not a nice feeling.

This isn’t how reward systems are supposed to work, right? I mean, I definitely feel like I should celebrate hitting Onederland in some way – it’s an achievement and it marks, at least in the US where we use Imperial units, a distinctive transition. But I think setting goal-based rewards that aren’t tied to a number (be it weight or inches lost) might be a better system for me. For example celebrating a week of exceeding my Fitbit step count minimum, or getting 72 ounces of water or greater, or exploring new hiking trails, might produce a healthier approach to implementing rewards. It’s clear to me that I have a competitive spirit, but it’s also clear to me that I’m not above exploiting my bodily mechanisms to achieve results. I’m not proud of this, but I have to admit it to move forward.

So what will happen with this current reward? I’m keeping at it. I’ll not be chucking it out and going out and buying the camera for the hell of it – nor will I set a new goal to base it on. I will follow through with this, but I will not again endure the ridiculousness I put my body through these past 24 hours. I’ll get up and look forward to whatever result I see on the scale tomorrow, and the next day – same as usual. But I won’t waste half my day waiting for my biological systems to catch up to my desires. And I think once I hit Onederland, I’m going to taper off my weigh-ins to once per week again, for at least a little while.

But for today, I did reward myself for hitting 200 lbs by purchasing the domain JulieLoses.com for this blog. I had been thinking about it for awhile and decided that hitting 200 lbs was deserving of some treat for myself. I’d be lying if I told you my first reward idea wasn’t a Five Guys cheeseburger, but the domain is a much wiser decision.

This weight loss process, beyond the advantages of being smaller, more fit, and physically feeling healthier, has really given me tremendous insight into what makes me tick – both good and bad. I’m learning lessons and hopefully learning to move beyond some of my hang-ups. The benefits have gone well beyond what I originally imagined, and if that ME that decided to lose weight in the first place was an entity I could actually communicate with, I would give her a hug and thank her so much for taking those first steps. I’m losing weight, but I’m gaining so much more. It sounds silly to say it, but it’s really the truth. Thanks so much for coming along with me on this ride, and until next time – take care!

Oh My Gah I Forgot To Blog This Video!

Peeps! So sorry for neglecting to post this blog update. I recorded and posted this video update on Friday but somehow forgot to post it here as well. If you can’t watch it for whatever reason, here’s the quick details:

  • I lost so much weight this week! My Tuesday weigh-in showed me 3.8 lbs down from the previous week for a weight of 201.8 lbs. SO CLOSE to Onederland! Imma get that camera so soon!
  • My workout ethic continues to surprise me. I made an effort to get a workout in every day this past week. Yesterday was the first day since a week ago that I hadn’t done any structured activity, though I spent the day walking round Seattle, so that was a good day as well.
  • Goal rewards and DietBet are helping with my motivation!
  • So. Much. Hiking.
  • Quickie Pep Talk: JUST KEEP GOING. This weight loss thing is tough. Super tough. But it gets easier. You get into a groove and eating the right kind of food and working out starts to become second nature. It feels so unnatural at the start, and progress can seem slow, but hang in there. If you’re doing it the healthy way, your body and mind will catch up to your efforts and it will become a real lifestyle change you can live with. I’m there right now, and I’m totally digging it.

I’d love to hang around and chat some more, but I have to get up outta this chair, walk around, and snack on some strawberries (kinda low on carbs so far today). I promise to check back in with all my lovely readers soon! Until then – take care!