142.0 (83 pounds lost): Give and Take + Food Journal

by Christine on June 23rd, 2010

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition

balancing actYesterday was like any other day. I got up, got dressed, went to work. I asked to come in a little bit early so that I could leave a half an hour early because I had a prior obligation to attend after work. Whenever I ask for schedule flexibility like that, my boss always sighs and gives me this look, but then says okay. I feel like it’s asking for a HUGE favor. I hate asking, but I have such a busy life outside of work that I need the flexibility in order to make my busy life work.

As I was sitting at my desk yesterday, I was surrounded by projects that have immediate due dates (oh, how I love working with tight deadlines!) and I realized that I need to allow a little give-and-take flexibility back to my workplace. Just as my boss has been reluctantly accommodating towards my requests for flexibility, I need to do the same. Consequently I came in an hour early today and will do so again tomorrow. I will donate a little extra time to say “thank you” for them being accommodating to me.  Unfortunately my boss doesn’t arrive until much later in the day, so this morning I needed to point out to her that I was donating the extra time in the interest of getting these projects done. That conversation felt awkward, but it was better than just hoping she would find out about it.

This whole idea of give-and-take can be applied to dieting and fitness as well. Sometimes it is not possible to eat perfectly every day. (Who would want to?) Sometimes you just can’t get a workout in. Still, you need to eat healthfully as often as possible and exercise when you get. Your schedule needs to be flexible and accommodating. If you don’t give yourself a little give-and-take, you’re going to burn out, get frustrated, and eventually give up and quit on yourself. That’s not fair to you. You deserve more compassion from yourself!

Here is a downloadable PDF of last week’s food journal, for anyone that is interested. It was a less than stellar eating week because I was so busy, but it shows that you don’t have to be perfect to still lose weight. I lost two pounds last week even though I drank alcohol, ate potato chips, and indulged at Carmine’s in New York City. It’s possible, you guys! Just be flexible with yourself and don’t give up!

June 14 Food Journal (CLICK HERE) PDF icon
(two pound loss)

I was looking over some of my past posts, and I found one from a year ago (June 22, 2009) that cracked me up:

OMG yesterday I puked THREE times!! The band is really wigging me out. Yesterday I got home and got the munchies so I pulled out a bag o baby carrots to dive into. Safe food, right? I had FIVE baby carrots and they got stuck in my band so I had to puke them up. Very curious bright orangeness. This whole puking thing is really new to me since I’ve never been been able to puke-on-command before. Do others find that the smell/taste of the vomit in your throat makes you want to puke more? *shivers*

It’s making me want to eat more soup and applesauce and stuff that doesn’t get stuck in the lapband. I know it’s breads that typically get stuck easier, and I should avoid those. That’s hard because mentally I WANT the carbs but I’m starting to avoid them now because of the stuck-ness factor. Oh….and here’s something I learned. I’m not supposed to drink anything during dinner at all….but you know, when a food gets stuck in your throat, you have a natural instinct to want to wash it down and push it through the “stuck” part, right? Well, when you have the band…and you’ve got bread stuck on it…and then you add a little water or something, that bread EXPANDS and gets stuck worse! It’s been quite tricky for me to get the hang of.

On a downside…the scale was UP a pound today! (I’m sure it’s just because it’s humid and gross outside.) Fucking body!

Food yesterday:

Breakfast: 1 banana (105 cals), water water
Snack: water water
Lunch: Moe’s….1 burrito thing with rice, black beans, steak, salsa, guacamole, lettuce. I only had half of it, so (340 cals), lots of water. A few chips with salsa (100 cals tops) but those got “stuck” too so I didn’t eat much.
Dinner: the other half the burrito (340) and a cosmo (120)
Snack: carrots which I puked up (0)
Total cals: 1005

Really Christine? 1000 calories?  Burritos and carrots? What on earth was I thinking? Still, my posts from this time period (June) show that I was not losing weight since my surgery in February.  I was really frustrated and wanted to give up on myself. I’m glad that I stuck it out!

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Losing Weight for Financial Reward

by Christine on May 28th, 2010

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise, General Information

Getting Paid to Lose WeightRecently I have been reading a lot of blogs that spoken about The Biggest Loser, slamming the show for contestants that are motivated to lose weight because of the financial gain.  The general thought is that financial motivation isn’t a “good enough” reason to lose weight; “real,” sustained weight loss can only come when you want to make a positive change for loftier ideals, such as for your health, your family, etc.  Curiously, many of these same blogs offer their own financial incentives for their weight-loss blog readers, such as food giveaways, weight-loss gadget giveaways, gift certificates, etc.  (Okay seriously, how do all these bloggers find so many endorsements to give away?) I could directly cite which blogs these are, but I don’t want them to think that I’m bashing them; on the contrary! I find the topic pretty interesting and stimulating.

How bad can it be to have financial motivation to lose weight? According to the HuffingtonPost (I know, I know), “Financial incentives have been well studied in weight loss, and are proven to improve outcomes over standard interventions alone.  Faced with backbreaking healthcare costs, corporations are promising cold, hard cash as part of comprehensive wellness plans aimed at motivating employees to improve their health.”

The idea of your employer paying you extra to lose weight is gaining popularity as well. At my last job, the employees teamed together to create their own “Biggest Loser” challenge. Everyone put in $20, and at the end of three months the winner (greatest percentage of weight loss) got the money.  My current employer, which is a large research university, offers something like $25 if you complete a walking program sponsored by Human Resources.

Bigger companies around the country are offering even bigger incentives.  Highmark, a Pennsylvania Blue Cross/Blue Shield licensee, offers a fitness program that pays $225 per year to employees that agree to medical assessments and free health and nutrition coaching.  Freedom One Financial Group in Michigan offered a free four-day cruise to Jamaica for employees who met certain weight loss or body fat reduction goals. At the end of that company’s three-month challenge, over one-third of its employees won the free cruise.  OhioHealth, a hospital chain, offers employees up to $500 per year just to wear a pedometer.

Why are these companies offering such big prizes?  Primarily because of the toll that obesity-related health problems takes on productivity and health-care costs.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity cost American companies $56 million in the year 2000 alone. To put the emphasis on the health-care costs, Affinia Group offered a $1,000 reduction in health insurance premiums to employees who participate in the company’s health-management program. Over 99% of their employees participate in the program.

So do these financial motivators really work? Do people lose weight and keep the weight off when confronted with financial gain? There is some discrepancy about this. “It’s probably a waste of time,” said Kelly Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The few studies that have been done on this subject have shown mixed results. A Cornell University study showed that the average weight loss in employer programs was little more than one pound.  For many of the companies listed above, while their incentive programs reaped early rewards, the weight started creeping on the employees about seven months later. “That is about the same success seen with almost any fad diet,” said Dr. David Kats with Yale University. “If we are going to achieve lasting change in health behavior, we need to help people to internalize the sense of responsibility to self and self-care and to value their own well-being,” said Martin Banks with Duke Diet and Fitness Center.  This is exactly the sentiment echoed by many readers of diet/fitness blogs that I have been reading recently.

On the other hand, a 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that dieters who had a financial incentive to lose weight were nearly five times as likely to meet their goal as compared with dieters with no financial reward.

Some researchers say that companies need to make the reward and penalty program more dramatic: make the financial incentive to lose weight even larger, and impose financial penalties on employees that do not participate in wellness program, such as an increase in health insurance premiums. The research shows that individuals are more motivated by the idea of losing their own money than by gaining extra money.  To prove the point, a 2008 University of Pennsylvania study found that after 16 weeks, people who put their own money on the line lost about a pound more on average than people who earned extra cash.

A hilarious rendering of the G.W. Bush Presidential Library. Click for larger image!

A website called stickK.com, founded by Yale economics professor Dean Karlan, allows members to sign a commitment contract and publicly announce a weight-loss goal. Users are not required to wager any money on their weight-loss bet, but about 30% do want to do this, inputting their credit card information and specifying how much money should be automatically charge if they fail to reach their goal. These users can designate a recipient: a person or charity or “anti-charity.”  One of the most popular “anti-charities” to donate to is the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Since the website started, more than $3 million has been put on the line by users. Combined user statistics show a 70% success rate of meeting their weight loss goals.

With the growing price tag of losing weight, having a financial reward to offset the cost of weight loss may be helpful to some frugal dieters. The extra cost associated with organic fruits and vegetables, gym memberships, Weight Watchers meetings, weight loss surgery, books and DVDs, can all add up for individuals.

Here’s something nearly everyone can agree on: Losing weight and keeping it off is priceless.

What is your price tag? How much would your company have to offer you to motivate you to keep moving? Would you participate in a weight-loss challenge that had a reward of some kind? Would that motivate you?

Want to lose weight and make money?

HealthyWage.com:  The Matchup $10,000 team weight-loss challenge. The team (of 5) that loses the greatest percentage of weight over three months wins!  Registration ends June 6, 2010.  (Pete Thomas and Neil Tejwani from TBL are participants.)  There is a $20 entrance fee.

Fitcapital will donate $50 towards the winner’s award for each weight-loss competition that you create on their website.  Sign up for an open weight-loss competition!   The competition must last at least one month and have a minimum of 10 participants.  Join open competitions here too!

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