Comment & Answer time

by Christine on October 20th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Gastric Banding Surgery

The other day I received this comment from blogger Mish. Here is her comment to me, along with my response. The only reason why I call this particular comment out is because I often receive comments about the low number of calories I eat per day. I wanted not only to address Mish’s concern, but to share the response with all of you, too.

> Mish wrote:
>
> I came to your blog through your Exposed link. I have to say that I am a bit saddened by your calorie counting regime. I don’t know how or if I could function on eating as little calories as your doing. I realise that you’re on a mission to lose weight and you’ve had GBS. I appreciate all that you’ve accomplished, but having a healthy relationship with food, enjoying it, and honoring your bodies caloric intake is vital. I really hope that you’re taking care of yourself, because you’ve got me incredibly worried.

My response was this:

Hi Mish!
Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for commenting on my “exposed” post! I appreciate the support!

I wanted to write and address your concern about my calorie levels. I know you are new to my blog, so you probably haven’t read all the backstory involved with my weight loss journey. As you probably read, I eat about 800 calories a day on average.  I also got the gastric banding surgery a year and a half ago.

I really started gaining weight in 2001 (through 2009). The gain was slow and steady, and I did everything that I could to prevent the weight gain. I saw numerous doctors and nutritionists and followed plan after plan. I went to the gym 2 times a day, 6 days a week; I had personal trainers, gym “buddies,” etc. Most of these medical professionals followed some kind of standardized weight loss chart; they just looked on their wall or wheel-of-numbers to magically determine that I need 1500-1700 calories per day to maintain my weight at my activity level. However, when I followed this diet plan–even meticulously eating healthy, balanced meals…NO cheating at all…but 1500-1700 calories per day–I gained weight even faster than before. Another doctor recommended that I try eating 1200 calories a day–again, another pigeon-holed number not based on ME and MY BODY, but on some standardized number that “most women” might fall within.  Again, I gained weight, albiet a little slower.

What I discovered with gastric banding surgery is that my “calorie setpoint” (my term I’ve coined) is really 1000 calories; that’s the amount of calories that my body seems to need to maintain its current weight. I believe this number is lower than most people because I am hypothyroid, overweight genetics on both sides of the family, as well as after-effects from a recent health concern (lyme disease, malaria, and mono all at once). If 1000 calories is where my body maintains its weight, then 800 calories has allowed me to lose weight very slowly but consistently, approximately 1-2 pounds per week for the last 1.5 years. So far I’ve lost 95 pounds.  800 calories per day still allows me to have energy, be healthy, and maintain an active lifestyle.

I would also like to add that my General Physician as well as my bariatric surgeon are aware of how much I eat and have approved of this number. It is safe to say that this is a medically-approved number for me.

All that being said, I don’t believe that anyone losing weight should follow my lead and eat 800 calories a day. On the contrary; I’m adamant that every person has their own unique “calorie setpoint:” that amount of calories needed to maintain their weight. Following standardized medical charts, USDA recommendations, BMR/RMR calculators….might work for some people, but none of those things take in account your metabolism, genetics, and underlying medical issues. Consequently, I believe this number is different for everyone. In order to lose weight, people need to find what their unique calorie setpoint is; then, to lose weight, drop the calories consumed by 10-15%.  I would never advocate that someone eat 800 calories; I’ve never said that on my blog or encouraged someone to eat an unhealthy amount of calories. Instead, I advocate finding your own calorie setpoint and going from there.

You said, “I don’t know how or if I could function on eating as little calories as your doing.” I agree–many people couldn’t and shouldn’t follow a diet with so few calories. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate for me.

I hope that explains a little bit about why I eat fewer calories than most people. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I appreciate the concern and was touched that you took the time to write.

By the way, I looked at your website and I was very impressed with your own weight loss journey. Congrats on losing all your weight!!

Christine

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Holiday planning!! Start Now!

by Christine on October 19th, 2010

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, General Information

It’s not too early to start planning ahead for the holidays. Halloween is only a week away, and before you know it Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year will be on us. Here are some helpful tips for getting through the holidays:

General Tips

  • Put gym time on your schedule NOW. As your schedule starts filling up, work around the gym time you’ve already set out for yourself. Be realistic; five days a week of gym time might be nice, but it’s probably not very realistic. Try to put at least two days of gym time on your calendar, and make it a priority.
  • It’s more important than ever to track your food during the holidays. It’s so easy to steal a candy here, a cookie there, a glass of wine while cooking…and them promptly forget that you ever consumed those calories. Track your food, writing everything down several times a day if you need to, in order to remember everything you ate. Don’t forget that there are tons of calories in liquids; that eggnog is going to destroy your diet!
  • Look up the calories before you eat that food. That way you can decide just how much of that dish you want to indulge in.  Indulge only in the foods that you really love.
  • Limit your alcohol. If you’re going to drink, decide ahead of time how many calories you have to spend on alcohol and decide how many glasses of wine you will allow yourself to have. Remember that “clear” alcohols (vodka, gin) have fewer calories than “dark” alcohols (brandy, sherry, whiskey).
  • Add 10 minutes of cardio to your daily routine, if possible. This will help counteract some of the damage done during holiday eating.
  • Keep an emergency snack on hand, such as a baggie of carrots or (my personal favorite) a 100-calorie pack of almonds.
  • Drink lots of water!  Chug a big glass of water before you sit down to a big meal.
  • Buy a holiday outfit that you are dying to fit into. Hang it prominently in your bedroom, so every morning you wake up you will be reminded of your weight-loss goal.
  • Cut back on the little things that pad your calories today, such as creamers in your coffee, soda, donuts, etc. If you cut these items out now, they’ll leave a little extra wiggle room in your diet in the next few months. You can add these things back in January, if you still want them then.
  • Chew gum when you get a craving for unhealthy food.

Halloween

  • Figure out how much candy you want to allow yourself to eat.  Assume that each of those halloween-sized chocolate candies are about 70 calories. Put pre-portioned candies into a ziplock bag and in a safe spot in the house. Label the ziplock bag for “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” etc. to remind yourself that you only get one or two per day! When your kids come home with bags of candy in hand, don’t reach for THEIR candy; after all, you have your own candy set aside for yourself.
  • This same gameplan can be used in the workplace. If you bring pre-portioned snacks into work and keep it at your desk, you will be better able to say no to snacks left out in the cafeteria.
  • Buy candy that you DISLIKE as a treat to pass out to the kids. That way, if you have leftovers, you’ll be less likely to eat the rest of the bag of candy.
  • Give the candy away. Give all your leftover candy away. Also, if your kids come home with a giant bag of Halloween candy–it’s not healthy for them to eat that whole bag. Have them pick out a limited number of their favorite candies, then give the rest away to a food bank or shelter, etc.

Thanksgiving

  • At your big family dinner, wear clothing that are much too tight (especially tight “under-garments,” women!). Corseting yourself will help to keep you from eating too much on the big day.
  • Feel free to enjoy the portions of your meal that are healthy, such as a large salad and white turkey meat, green beans, corn, and other vegetables.  Take extra large portions of those, but bypass the stuffing, baked yams, potato salad, rolls, pies, cookies, and other deserts. If you are cooking, replace those typical “unhealthy” foods with healthy alternatives, such as replacing potato salad with a regular tossed green salad!
  • If you are a guest at someone else’s table for Thanksgiving, consider eating a small healthy meal before you arrive for dinner. A small meal filled with veggies will keep you from feeling ravenous at the dinner table.
  • No second servings.
  • Bring a dish to share! Make something healthy, that’s “safe” for you to eat. I’m sure the cook will appreciate you contributing to her party!
  • Practice saying “no” to people who offer you food. These are “food pushers.”  Practice saying “no” with your spouse ahead of time. It sounds silly, but practicing a few sample scenarios out loud with someone will help you when the real-life situations occur.
  • Pre-plan a healthy snack for when you’re watching the annual football game. If you want Thanksgiving Dinner leftovers, decide ahead of time how much of each type of food you want to consume during this football snacking time.
  • If you are cooking dinner, make sure you buy disposable plastic tubs so you can give leftover food away.

Christmas

  • Focus on family. Keep yourself busy with mingling with your family and playing with your kids. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are all about–the people, not the food?
  • Recycle food gifts that you receive from other people.
  • Don’t be afraid of throwing food out, including Christmas cookie gifts from others. (They’ll never know.)
  • Pick out (or decorate) a special box or tin for some of your favorite Christmas cookies. After you calculate how many calories are in your favorite cookies, place a few of your most favorite in your special box. Put the box in a special place (on top of the fridge, perhaps). This is your allotment for the entire Christmas season. When the cookies are gone, you can’t go back for more. These are YOUR cookies; do not share them with anyone else.
  • Create holiday traditions that don’t involve eating. For instance, last year I made a new tradition of making paper snowflakes and decorating them with glitter. It took all evening–time I normally would have spent baking and eating!
  • At your holiday office party, offer to help out organizing. The more time you are on your feet greeting people and setting up the venue, the less time you will be munching on the food and drinking the alcohol.
  • Enjoy family time by getting out and doing something active as a family. The holidays are a great time to enjoy ice skating, snow shoeing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, sledding/tobogganing, building a snowman, having a snowball fight, etc.

New Year

  • Pre-plan alcohol limits before you leave for the party! Figure out how much you want to drink, how many calories you can afford in your diet. Then plan your food and eating around your alcohol limits.  This will help you keep your calories in check.
  • Ask for low-calorie mixers, such as rum + diet coke, or vodka + diet sprite, vodka + crystal lite.
  • Sit far away from the food, far away from the kitchen. If you’re standing in front of the food, you’re going to end up grazing on food, so just walk away from it and get the party going in a room that doesn’t have food in it.
  • Dance your ass off. It burns loads of calories, so shake your thang!
  • Wear a white shirt, that you don’t want to spill food on.  If you’re worried about spillage, you’ll be less likely to eat food that will spill and spoil.
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Beer, Wine, and Culinary Institute

by Christine on October 18th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

This weekend a friend and I decided to go downstate New York to check out the Cullinary Institute of America (CIA) and to check out a few breweries. We set off on the road after a cup of coffee and a mini-luna bar (100 calories) and headed downstate.  I have heard from numerous sources that you need to make reservations at the CIA literally months ahead of time in order to get into the restaurants, but there are two or three cafes on campus as well, and I was hoping to grab lunch there.  I knew that this was a potentially risky undertaking: a compulsive overeater at a culinary institute campus? Yikes! But I thought I could handle the challenge. Two years ago, I definitely couldn’t have handled it. Unfortunately everything was totally closed when we arrived, so we weren’t able to sample any CIA food at all! Too bad, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the quality of food there! The campus was really beautiful, and we enjoyed walking around and taking pictures.

Cullinary Institute of America

Seeing as how the restaurants on campus were closed and we were starving, we made our way up the street to our first brewery, Hyde Park Brewery. We had a flight of beer to sample all the styles on tap. They were all surprisingly light and smooth, and the Oktoberfest beer was the best! I also had a bowl of beer and cheese soup that was phenomenal!  Cheese soup had to be filled with calories and isn’t the healthiest choice, but I had the calories to spend and it was well worth the calorie price tag.

beer tasting beer flight

After that we went to two wineries, Clinton Vineyards and another one that I can’t remember offhand. (Millbrook winery, I think)  The first winery (Clinton) had very sweet desert wines that would have been very tasty as a drizzle over ice cream or cheesecake. The second winery had very classy wines, three that I really enjoyed. Unfortunately I don’t have extra cash to spend, so I did not buy any wines, but there were worthy ones there!

After that we headed to New Paltz to another brewery, the Gilded Otter brewery. That place was a freaking zoo! I think everyone in New Paltz was trying to eat there that night. The beer was tasty and the building was pretty cool, but there were about ten zillion people there and the bartenders were far too busy with other orders to pay attention to their patrons sitting at the bar.  It would be a nice place to visit on a day that wasn’t so crowded!  We ordered a vegetable quesadilla and I had one slice (out of five slices) with a half-pint of beer.

When we got to my friend’s house, we decided to make our own beer! We had already purchased a pre-assembled kit that gave all the wheat & oats, spices, hops, yeast, etc.  I had never made homebrew before, although Pete had. It was a very long process (about four hours) and very smelly too. You have to be really attentive to the temperature of your brew at all times and follow the instructions perfectly.  It was super fun to make, although I don’t completely understand the chemical process that was going on at every step. I think I have some added research to do!

Step 1: You put all the wheat and oats into a cheesecloth sack and steep it for about an hour.

Step1: Steeping the beer

Step 2: You then add some hops and spices and boil the mixture for another hour.

Step 3: Following the instructions you add more hops, more spices. Then you drop the temperature of the mixture, then add the yeast. Then you pour into a glass jug while straining off all the icky stuff off the top.

straining

Step 4: Then you make the glass container air-tight, with a siphon to collect more ickies as the mixture begins to bubble over.

Apparently we now need to wait a week or two for the mixture to work its magic, with the yeast magically creating alcohol and natural carbonation. When it stops bubbling over, we will cap it off and make it air-tight, let it sit for another week or two, and then bottle it all up.  We made a Belgium wheat beer (“whitbier”) like Blue Moon. I can’t wait to try my very first homebrew!

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Exposed!

by Christine on October 16th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates

The other day I stumbled across Mrs. Fatass’ blog where she talks about the Exposed movement.I remember seeing something about it on Miz Fit, too.

Curious, I went to explore more. Apparently it’s part of a larger blogger movement, where numerous bloggers post semi-nude pictures of themselves. That’s right boys, you heard me–mostly nude pics of your lovely blogger lady-friends.

First, on the onset, it reminded me of an art project that the brilliant Sarah Scott made, called Share Your Tears.  She strove to show that there is beauty, even if when we are in pain.

As I started flipping through the different blogs and different people, what struck me first and foremost was how beautiful everyone was. Even people with odd body shapes, different shapes and sizes, even the really overweight people…were all beautiful.  Some people were beautiful in their thinness. Some had beautiful tattoos. Some had beautiful eyes, hair, smiles. Everyone had something that made them beautiful. It is quite amazing, really, to see all those photos one after another like that.

Most photos have listed all the things that they don’t like about their bodies, or memories associated with different parts of their bodies. But the weird thing is that when you look at the pictures, you don’t see the flaws and you don’t see the memories. It’s interesting to see what the body’s owner thinks, because my own impressions were so vastly different than what they saw when they look in the mirror.

I really don’t know what the real point is of this art movement, EXPOSED. But I do know that it’s really interesting.

So I decided to give it a try.  I’ve never posted a real, full-body picture of myself. Bits and pieces, here and there, but never the whole thing. Do I have the guts to post this? I guess we’ll see.

I should have done this when I first started my weight loss journey to compare my impressions before and after, but alas, I can’t change the past. Here is my current Self…exposed.

Here is a picture of me, with clothes on…. And here is a picture of me before I photoshopped me away from the background. Do you see what I see when I look at my picture?  What do you see when you see me, EXPOSED?

Do you have the guts to do this yourself? Link me up to your EXPOSED blog page!

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Stop right there! Put down your forks!

by Christine on October 15th, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, General Information

Good afternoon Revolutionists!

Today’s lunch was: half a can of tuna fish (35) with a little mayo (40); half a slice of cheese (35); scallions (2), lettuce (2), on half a whole wheat thin bread thingamajiggy (50) for a total of  164 calories of yumminess.

Today I was browsing some blogs and I have a little advice for everyone out there:

PUT DOWN YOUR DAMN FORK. Now, please.

Seriously, most of you are eating Way. Too. Much.  Too much quantity, all at one sitting.   You are probably eating something right now while you’re reading this. If you are, I can garauntee that you’re not paying attention to whether you’re hungry or full or not. Put down your fork and step away from the food.

Cut whatever you are eating (I don’t even care WHAT you’re eating) in half. Eat half now, eat the other half in an 60 or 90 minutes. Do it now, then come back to the computer.

When was the last time you evaluated your portion sizes? When was the last time you took out the measuring cup or food scale to measure just how much food you are eating?

Remember, your portion sizes should be TINY. Not “normal” and not “average.”  Not even “Small.”  TINY people. Think TINY.  When you’re serving up some food, think, “I’m going to only give myself a teeny tiny little bit.”  That probably means you’re going to want to eat half of whatever it is that you’re eating right now.

Remember you probably shouldn’t be eating any meat weighing in over 3 oz. (Most of the time I only eat 1-2 oz of meat).  It should fit in the tiny part of your palm, and not even that much, really. If using this method of measuring, the food shouldn’t cover any part of your fingers at all: palm only.

If you’re going to eat some bread or pasta or rice, use the same rule as above: palm only serving sizes. You should be seriously limiting your carbs. I’m not going to say not to eat ANY carbs at all, but it should be the smallest portion on your plate. A tiny little dab will do you.

I think October is one of those forgotten weight-loss months. Most of you are diving back into the routine of getting your kids back into school, working, after-school activities. You’ve probably put your “me-time” routines temporarily on hold, and I’m going to guess that your gym time got cut. You probably don’t take a short walk before or after work. You probably are taking care of everyone else other than yourself. And in a month you’re going to realize that the holidays are upon you, and you’re going to freak out and wonder why you didn’t take those 10 pounds off you had promised you were going to do. That’s because October happened to you.

Put down the fork.

Look, I can understand busy schedules. Of course you know that you SHOULD prioritize yourself in your life, but that can’t always happen. I get it, I really do. You can TRY to make it to the gym, but when your little one had soccer practice or has a little cold or you need to run to the nursing home to look after grandma…life happens. So what can you do? You can put down your damn fork. Cut your serving sizes in half, spread your food out over the course of the day, so you’re eating in regular intervals instead of in two big meals.

Keep your eye on the prize. You have to adapt with life as it changes with the seasons. You have to be smart, be thinking one step ahead of the game. Pre-plan your day, anticipate what your stumbling blocks are going to be. You can keep losing weight and achieving your goals even when life gets hectic.

You can do this! I believe in you!

What are you doing TODAY to adapt to your busy autumn lifestyle?

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