Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Facebook page for my blog- adding another layer to the social media for weight maintenance

Okay, I did it. I made a Facebook page for my blog. It was long over due time. Probably a better, faster way to discuss, post links to favorite podcasts.


Weight Maintenance is complex, but I have a theory, because I am a scientist...
Karen's Weight Maintenance Theory:
If we customize our own weight maintenance template, then weight maintenance and good overall health will  become easier*

*Note:  I did not say easy, but once you find the foods, habits, behavior change management, problem solving activities, support that you need for your self AND you're able to make changes as your life change, then yes- it does become easier, in my opinion.

Weight maintenance after a large 70+ pound weight loss has a lot of roads to travel. We are stronger together. 

See you over on FB. Catch me on other social media.

Twitter is a good place to catch interesting articles and occasionally exchanges with other tweeters.

Instagram:Want to know what I've been eating or where I've been walking: Instagram!

Pinterest:  I use pinterest to get inspired by photography, Paleo Recipes, and cool places to visit. No junk food is pinned in my pinterest feed.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Setting up my food template for weight maintenance- Paleo & Primal, the transition

I'm blogging about my transition from a packaged food weight loss plan (Take Shape for Life/Medifast) to eating a Paleo & Primal food template.
Transitioning from surf to turf

Step 1- Was losing the weight and picking a weight transition strategy. I blogged about it here

 I'm a scientist so I formed a theory:
 If I use a plan that's been proven by other weight maintainers AND I customize the plan to support my life and health, then I will be successful for a longer time in weight maintenance.

Part of my theory involved learning about the Refuse to Regain author Dr. Berkeley referred to as a "Primarian" diet and the 90 day opt out- eating -page 129 "Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, and low-fat dairy... with one allowable treat"

Experimental Design: Customizing the food template

1. I knew I was a bit lactose intolerant so regular dairy is out.
1.5 I could still tolerate the dairy in the Medifast packets for now, one allowable treat.
2.  A Primal diet without diary is..... Paleo.
3. Research it! I had no idea what Primal or Paleo is, at ALL.

What I had: The internet and the library, and books.
What made total sense: Weight maintenance using whole, real foods, minus food triggers- wheat and processed sugar.
What I had no idea: How to eat Primal/Paleo
What happened in past attempts: a return to the Standard American Diet, weight gain, not effective, not sustainable.

Next Steps: Reading and testing

1. While I had about 10 pounds left to loose I read "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf.
  • I could relate to being previously sick and wanting to be well. ( I had Hashimotos in 1997)
  • I could see how I could eat this way and that my overall health may be improved due to better gut health. 
  • I was still scared about eating fat (years of conventional wisdom, Snackwell cookies, and Weight Watchers meetings)
  • I was totally willing to give this a try. 
  • I felt that my emotional/binge eating would still be in remission with this diet template.
  • I was excited about low inflammatory and leaning out visceral fat . 
  • I spilled coffee on the book and I now own The Paleo Solution
  • That was totally a sign from the universe- I will own paleo from here on out! ;)
2. I need recipes, food I can feed myself first, then eventually feed my late elementary/middle school daughter.  I attended and Everyday Paleo Workshop with Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib.

Sarah Fragoso and me Feb 2012
  • Best $50 I could ever spend 
  • I learned the science from Jason, as a scientist myself, I appreciated this
  • I learned the food and how Sarah fed her family and her transition to Paleo
  • I learned from the small group discussions how people in my community lived Paleo and how they fed their families
  • I learned about the low inflammatory properties and how it effected overall health.

 3. Keep reading:  I needed to keep reading and start to incorporate the Paleo/Primal template foods into my diet.  I took the Everyday Paleo book on my trip to Georgia. And, I kept my food template steady during transition and the 90 day opt out.  More than recipes- I liked the exercises and overall guidelines, too.

  • I learned how to eat out while traveling
  • I incorporated the avocado, olive oil, salmon, nuts, and other higher fat food super slowly
  • I made a note that I felt great, my weight was staying stable
  • I started phasing out the Medifast Products, slowly but surely
What worked:
1. Reading about low-inflammatory foods
1.5 Eliminating high inflammatory foods. My hs-CRP is now <1
2. Taking a class to learn more
3. Actually practicing what was taught
4. Sticking to a 90 day opt out period
5. Going slowly on the natural fat

What did not work in the past:
1. Not considering, even for a moment, that processed foods MIGHT be a problem (hello WW 2 point bars, 100 calorie packs, Skinny Cow icecream sandwiches, and portions of 2 for 1 candy bars). What was I thinking?  I was not thinking. The SAD diet, sugar and carbs had a huge hold on my sugar/carb fueled brain. I totally forgive myself for this- by the way...
1.5 Not eliminating high infllamatory foods. My hs-CRP was 6.8!
2. Not investing some $$ in continuing education that complemented my highest priories
3. Not actually doing what I planned.
4.  Sticking to a structure plan that was tailored to me and addressed emotional/binge eating
5. Being to scared to eat Avocados because they were high in fat!

Next up.. how the Primal part works with a mainly Paleo (non-dairy) style of diet, and traveling and eating Paleo...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weight Transition to Weight Maintenance- setting up my personal design and frame work for the first year

NOTE: I'm blogging about going from weight loss to transition over the next few weeks.  I made very specific plans and did a lot of trial and experimenting during this time.

 I went from a packaged food plan and loosing weight to a real, whole food diet with no grains, with limited dairy. My food plan for weight loss was much different than for weight maintenance. Both phases are very different and this worked well for me.

Problem to solve: Weight maintenance was uncharted territory and a place where I had not sustained my weight loss in the past.

 I'm a scientist so I formed a theory:
 If I use a plan that's been proven by other weight maintainers AND I customize the plan to support my life and health, then I will be successful for a longer time in weight maintenance.

I knew ALOT from past attempts, but I knew a lot less about a Primarian, Paleo, or Low Inflammatory diet. In the past, I've had Hashimoto's disease (15 years) and been overweight on and off (40 years).

Experimental design
1. I'd use the rules in Refuse to Regain  (Barbara Berkeley, MD) spend my first year of maintenance. I'd apply the rules and customize them to transition. One "rule" was to start a 90 day "opt out" - meaning opting out  of processed food and eating a Primarian style of diet, with one food off plan food that did not trigger, but was do-able. I'd also use the other guidelines in the book, since weight management involves more than food for success.

What I had:  In the beginning- A lot of my favorite protein & vegetable meals and a small amount of healthy fat from the Take Shape for Life (Medifast Plan). And, I had the packaged, gluten free shakes, brownies, etc for my one "off" primarian food per day. And a 4 week transition plan going off Medifast.

What made total sense: Not going back to a Standard American Diet.

What I had no idea: Would it work? Would eating healthy fat cause me to gain weight or throw in gallstones? I had a lot of years of traditional diets dancing in my head.

What happened in past attempts: Weight gain.

Next steps: Testing-Learning the new food template- I'll discuss what I learned in the books The Paleo Solution (Robb Wolf), Everyday Paleo (Sarah Fragoso) and more! Next blog posts...

I did follow my weight loss plan's  transition plan except I did not add back in dairy or grains.
Below are photos of me eating the best orange I've ever eaten in my whole life. San Clemente Farmer's Market, Feb 2012.  So sweet, so good, and an instant headache after going 10 months without fruit.

Small price to pay since the weight loss & maintenance lead to something permanent after 40 Years.

What worked:
1. Planing and Problem solving effectively
2. Reading

What did not work
1. Not setting a solid plan, blaming myself rather than problem solving
2. Not reading more than what WW gave me.
3. Not doing what weight maintenance required

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Transition from weight loss to weight maintenance- tools- 90 day opt out- be a student

Transition from weight loss to weight maintenance.

Probably the one of the most important times for someone who has yo-yo dieted. The beginning of the end of weight loss. The beginning of the next phase of the rest of life as a thinner person.  Food, emotions, new habits, living life in a new body, maintaining the loss. Transition was exiting and a little stressful.

Weight maintenance was something that escaped me- for 40 years! I was exhausted from trying. People often say: "I don't want to white knuckle this". Me neither, so back to planning the first year.

Being on a packaged weight loss plan and with my prior experiences at regaining while counting points at Weight Watchers, I knew I'd have to do something different. There are as many ways to maintain weight as there are people. Lots of paths, the only one I needed to pick was the one that was best for me. Like PC or Mac- one is going to be better for me than the other.

I choose Mac, Feb 2012
  I developed plans and tools to tackle the first 90 days, 180 days, and the rest of the first year. Leave blame and failure modes behind. Look at what is effective, become a student in YOU.

Overall Goal #1 : Maintain the first year. Regaining more than 5-10 lbs was not an option.

Training tool  #1 : Book from an expert, be a student!
Planning: After reading the Refuse to Regain book (Barbara Berkeley, MD) AND knowing that gluten was likely contributing to my emotional/binge eating, it was time to plan the first 90 days.

Mini-goal #1: 90 day opt out from the Refuse to Regain book. No grains, very little processed sugar, no starchy food. BE TOUGH, not moderate. The food that got me overweight was not going to help me in the first 90 days!

Tool: Structure :I could recognize  that moderation of junk was going to get me into weight gain pretty fast. Ignoring past history would send me right back up the scales-AGAIN. Repeating the past was a form of white knuckling it. It's emotionally draining to repeat the past.  I thrive on structure. Having structure worked well for me. I started the 90 day opt out the day I hit goal weight.  No fiddle farting around, no cheese cake celebration, no snickers bars because they fit into points range. All of that got me overweight in the first place!

A few weeks after I hit maintenance, I jogged across the bridge from Augusta, Georgia into South Carolina. There is literally a line in the bridge.  I crossed that line, mentally and physically. Feeling happy, scared, but confident I would find what works.  Next up- being a student in weight transition, learning to eat real food again. That was training tool #2.
What worked:
1. Reading about weight maintenance about 2-3 months before reaching it.
2. Planning to succeed at weight maintenance. I was the 5%
3. Discarding past behaviors, habits, foods
4. Setting up a structured plan from day 0.

What did not work in the past
1. Not studying about what worked for weight maintenance (sorry a 20 page pamphlet from WW is NOT going to get me the details I need for planning to be successful  with a 95% failure rate). What. Was. I. Thinking!? I was not thinking! Not planning! I was the 95%
2. No plans for maintenance, other than going to my WW meeting. Then ditching when I gained wait. No root cause analysis.
3. Going back to the behaviors, habits, foods that caused me to gain weight!!! Huge issue here.
4. Celebrating weight maintenance with... food!

When I jogged across that bridge in Georgia, I did not know what was on the other side. I found something funny and something beautiful. I found a building that looked like the town hall from the movie Back to the Future. Then I saw a great sunset on the Savannah River.  Weight transition was so worth it.
I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity..

Savannah River- sunset

Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Eats Aug 2013

Here's a quick look at what I'm eating this summer, along with a few summer photos.

Back to regular blog topics soon.

What works:

1. Eating real, whole foods- low inflammatory , no processed sugar , no grains, lots of good for you fats - avocado, olive oil , coconut oil, avocado oil ( available at Costco).

Proteins , eggs, chicken, turkey , ground bison, and occasionally some shrimp and grass fed beef.

And what seems like a metric ton of vegetables. Broccoli slaw, shredded cabbage , tomatoes, onions, bell pepper.

Fresh fruit, blueberries and raspberries. Few slices of fresh peaches.

Coffee and 85% chocolate. Lots of water.

What did not work:

Cereal, whole wheat anything. , biscotti , bagels, 100 calorie packs, buy 1 get 1 free candy bars, and processed high carb bars.

Here's my summer salute to eating real food that keeps me in weight maintenance and in good physical and emotional health

Ground bison, broccoli slaw noodles, avocados, blueberries, chocolate

Shrimp, home made pesto over spaghetti squash

I eat, I walk, I take photos. This scenario repeats every day.  This works for me in maintenance.

African daisy variety, curb side

Behr's Metalmark butterfly- lunch time find

Egg wrap burrito with kale, tomatoes and guacamole and salsa

I eat, walk, take photos over the weekend, too. These habits work for me.

Scarlet Passion Flower

Guacamole Eggs, peppers, onions, chicken 


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Planning, risk assessment, and decision for weight loss vs being stuck in a loop

Planning- avoiding past Titanic history
* Note: if you are arriving from a Paleo perspective- hang on... I didn't arrive in the Paleo scene until weight transition and I'll blog about that soon..*

 Changing my tools: planning, assessing, deciding, and acting  helped immensely to move from being at a BMI of 36 to moving to a normal weight.

Rather than blaming myself for a large regain 60+ pounds  in 2000, it all added up to choosing effective weight loss tools that I could implement when and as I needed.  I followed a formula in each stage.

What worked:  Looking at weight loss as a "project", just as I would for an employer, gardening, or any project.  I placed a huge emphasis on planning, assessing, and actually doing. There was also a lot of root cause analysis and problem solving in each phase (more on that in another post)

1. Picking an effective program/plan: I considered my past attempts (structured programs- with a leader or coach vs at home calorie counting and going it alone). I'm a structured plan person, I know this about myself.

2. Assessing the risk :I considered what my current health state was at the time. (I did not feel well, I did not look well and loosing weight was a serious, life threatening matter. High CRP, joint pain, and a HbA1c starting to trend high. No serious diagnoses, but I had the intuitive feeling there would be soon.) At the time, my risk was probably high. I prioritized loosing weight as my top priority- as important as childcare, paying bills, and my job.
My hs-CRP was 6.8, yikes

3. Deciding and committing:  Once I picked a plan that met my criteria, researched it, arranged for the physical items (food) and the finances (it cost to buy products and I prioritized my finances) then I dove into it 100%. I read all I could, studied, I asked my health coach all the questions I needed. I stayed within my plan so I could evaluate 8-10 weeks down the road.

Lean and Green meal- weight loss
4. Planning (again!):  Weight loss was my first of several phases. As I approached the transition phase to first year maintenance and beyond. I went through another round of planning, assessment, deciding and committing.

Regular readers know what comes next... what did not work for me:

What did not work in the past: * Special note- it was a lot of work to get to a place to think clearly with all the brain fog and numbing that sugar and wheat. I don't blame myself for that part. It wasn't a personal flaw! This stuff is COMPLEX...

1.  Staying with plans that were no longer effective:  I was successful in 1998-1999 with weight loss (but not weight maintenance) at Weight Watchers, but counting points was no longer an effective plan in my 40's. I stuck with this for several years! and did not choose another plan. I also tried calorie counting with limited success.  Hindsight is awesome. Deciding to move on opened me up to what did work.

2. Assessing the risk: I work in health care, previously at a large trauma hospital. I know my risks were high, yet I failed to prioritize it and assign the risk the right place in my life. I thank my higher power every day that I found the clarity to start to help myself. I  didn't let me get me. Whew. Putting my weight loss first gave it the correct assignment in my life "to-do's".  That was a beautiful gift I gave myself

3. Deciding and committing: Holy smokes the wrong food template kept me stuck. I had 30-40 re-starts- WW, calorie counting. Exhausting, not effective, sad, stuck, and looping around. One or two 2 point WW snack bars, Skinny Cow Ice cream, or healthy whole wheat waffles topped with berries (healthy!) and cool whip (it's within my point range-whoot-whoot!).  Getting off processed and sugar and wheat for long enough cleared the fog up in this area. My food choices contributed to my looping around and not engaging. Food quality, food choices matter so much.
Sugar bomb disguised as "Healthy"

4. Planning: I absolutely did not plan for effective transition. I went back to the foods that got me overweight in the first place in a moderation. Eating trigger foods caused foggy brain, weight gain, and another spiral up on the scale. No planning or studying what others did in successful maintenance. Just hoping I could keep weighing in and stay in my weight range.

Notice:  Blame, shame, victim mode and other ineffective strategies were kicked to the curb. I might have a 5 minute pity party for myself, then I get back to more effective ways pretty quick.

Discuss: Did anyone else use project planning/problem solving or stepping outside the blame, shame cycle to break free?

A good walk outside ends any pity party in my head

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Weight Maintenance- a year and a half later- feeling pretty awesome

 A year and a half weight maintenance check. August 3, 2013

Highest Weight : 187.4
Current Weight: 115.2
Goal range: 113-117
Age 47
Height 5'1"
Time in goal weight range: 1.5 years
Time it took to get to maintenance 40 years.

Feeling: Like I found the fountain of youth, better than my 20's
Food: Mostly Paleoish template of my own making
Exercise: 10, 000 steps a day
Strength: 2 times a week

What is working:

1. Eating whole, real foods that are the best for my body, eliminating those that are not.
2. Eating 3 meals a day, not eating for emotional or soothing reasons
3. Bring my own food as much as possible, saves money, tastes good and gluten free
4. Reading, learning, thinking & support- this part is never ending
5. Relaxing- photos, good sleep, hiking 

Sept 2008
What did not work in the past

1. Eating packaged foods with sugar/wheat, cereal and bagels.
2. Eating at anytime of the day, lots of snacking on processed foods, eating to numb out.
3. Eating out and over eating
4. Not being able to keep what worked, discard what did not.
5. Not being able to do as many active hobbies due to the weight

Yep! A year and a half. If I could do cartwheels without injuring myself, I would.  I had no idea that this style of eating and exercise and life would lead beyond weight maintenance to overall health.

The last two months have been the hardest, changes, work, menopause! Whoa. and Wow. I did okay.

It's easier with the clean eating. Much easier. NOT easy, but easier than triggering myself in the overeating loop. Whew. A big thanks to Dr. Barbara Berkeley, MD and her book Refuse to Regain.  Once I was able to customize the suggestions in the book, I was able to change my habits and processes.  It was much more difficult to try to follow the moderation strategies.  Key learning.

If you or anyone is 20 pounds or less before goal weight and/or in the first year of weight maintenance- get that book. Customize to fit your circumstances. So worth it.

What a year of weight maintenance looked like for me. I reversed a trend/gain. See it?  Off to do those cartwheels even if in my mind's eye....  Onward.

8-3-2012 to 8-3-2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

What "clean eating" means to me in weight maintenance

 My Clean dinner, July 2013
 I often leave comments to other bloggers who are working within a weight loss goal or in their first year of maintenance. I say "Keep your food choices clean".

Why do I do that? It worked soooo well for me. It was the difference that changed a 40 year situation.  My 40 year emotional eating never took a day off. Brain fog from sugar and wheat stayed for days and weeks. Before clean eating, I was not the person I felt I was meant to be.

I realize that clean eating can have many definitions for each stage of weight loss and maintenance. I would encourage you to define what it means, where you are,  and consider changes to optimize for your current life situation.

Clean Eating for me: Eating within my current food template to fuel my body, maintain my health ( including weight), while keeping a clear mind and my emotional eating in remission. Every. Single. Meal. Each. Day. For.Life.

Weight loss Clean Eating : Meant staying within my pre-packaged meal plan and within the lean and green guidelines.  Did I go off plan? Yes. Rarely, and I noticed I did not feel good when I went off plan. I was paying a lot of money for this weight loss program, so not eating clean meant a stall in weight loss and $$ out the window. It also meant that I had to deal with emotional or mini-binge eating. Eating clean forced me to deal with that. Huge leaps forward for me in setting up a stable transition.

Weight loss transition to weight maintenance clean eating: I used the recommendation from Barbara Berkeley, MD to do a 90 day "opt out" (see the book Refuse to Regain) Three months of eating Primarian (no starchy foods, no grains, no processed foods) and one allow able off plan food (mine could not be trigger me to over eat).

Opting out helped me ease  into maintenance and kept me from resuming old habits. It worked well for me. I could have repeated my past history of going back to old habits and slippery slope thinking. Did I go off plan? Yes, a few diet cokes here and there, my off plan allow able  foods were medifast bars or pancakes. Those were the days! I was a little nervous about regain, but I could see the diet transition going well. I could start the mental changes of a major transition while my food stayed stable.

Weight Maintenance the first year, clean eating: After May 3, 2012, I  started a gradual transition into a more Paleo template. I noticed that I needed to be on the lower carb side (110 to 80 grams a day) for the first half of the first year, and now a little lower (50-75 grams a day) for the start of the second year. Did I go off plan? Yep, I bought a huge bag of the best raisins I've ever eaten from California's central coast and drove down California Highway 1 eating way too many raisins (just like skittles!). I realized it and got back on track. During this time, I phased out slowly the Medifast, Lara Bars, and artificial sweeteners. I did not go back to my old habits or caught it early.  I stayed +/- 3 pounds of my goal weight. Eating bars for snacks was a tough habit to break.

Weight Maintenance the first half of the second year, clean eating:  During Jan-July 2013 I did a Whole30 Challenge. Clean eating was set up by the structure of the Whole30 plan. Did I break them, yep, nothing big. I had some sesame oil inadvertently one night with dinner. Big deal- not. I did not stop the challenge or start over. I learned so much- kicked the bar habit, decreased the Medifast to 1-2 products a month. Fewer urges to emotional eat. I slept great!!!  I also did a low carb challenge that helped me transition off nuts and Medifast. It prepared me for the next six weeks of complete stress, grief, and joy.

Clean cruise food, yummy!
Weight Maintenance at a year and half clean eating: Paleo type food template with some 85% chocolate and coffee. Very few if any thoughts of emotional eating. I did not eat emotionally after the death of a close relative (stress), I took a cruise and stayed clean eating (the scenery was joy) Did I go off plan? Yeah! I did. I ate some mint jelly with some lamb at one of the dinners on the cruise. The sugar in the mint jelly really fired up the old pathways. I felt like crap.

Imagine this: I laid on my bed like the people on the lower decks of the Titanic. My thoughts went something like: "I'm sinking and going down with the ship... oh, uh,... crap!  really it's just a lapse, it won't be a relapse." I thought to myself.  No worries. Back on plan the next day, back to clean eating" And, I did. Ship didn't sink, life got back to normal, I gave myself huge props for addressing it head on and moving on to the rest of the trip. It started with the right mind set and next clean meal.

Lunch in the Space Needle, Clean eats, hot day, crisp salad made in the hotel room

What didn't work in the past:
1) Weight loss- I ate trigger foods within my WW pt range (tootsie pops!?, skinny cows- mooo, and multiple 100 calorie packs)
2) Weight Transition- I kept eating trigger foods and did not address small gains.
3) Weight Maintenance: I did not stay here long and did not put an effective plan into place. Large gains.
4) Weight Maintenance long term: never made it to 1 year out. I gained my weight back.

I encourage you to define clean eating now, use it as a tool to reach weight, health, life goals and be prepared to fine tune as you go. It's never too late. It's not set in stone. What is your definition of clean eating. Can you feel it when you don't eat clean? Do you change up when life changes so your goals are still met? Do you change up your food when it's no longer working? Discuss.

This newly transitioned frog (size of my thumb) found a bug, natural fuel for froggy