Friday Five: The Groaning!

Yeah, it’s me with yet another blog full of random complaints about why I can’t seem to get past Plateau Point, and five ideas about why that might be happening.

plateau point

Here we go: five reasons I can’t lose weight!

  1. Sugar — OK, I don’t buy into the idea that sugar is the devil, responsible for all the evils of the modern diet.
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    Mainly because people who promote that idea seem to be kinda…what’s the word I’m looking for…?
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    Yeah, well, not in a verifiable, scientifically provable way, but just kinda off balance, somewhere. Still, there’s no denying that foods with lots of sugar tend to be (a) more calorific than others, and (b) really, really yummy!
    elf four
    So that’s one.
  2. Cream in my Coffee — Sure, I buy the sugar-free, low-calorie French vanilla version of Coffee Mate, at only 15 calories per serving. Then I dump about 5 or 6 servings in my morning cofveve, because why not? It’s only 15 calories per serving!
    math2
    …carry the one…oh…OK. Hmm, maybe I’d be better off just getting the half & half!
    cofveve
  3. Fried Chicken — and not just ANY fried chicken, baby — you KNOW what I like!

    Before Lent started, I was getting over my KFC/Popeye’s/[fill in your favorite fast food cooked bird restaurant] by keeping some relatively non-evil Trader Joe’s boneless chicken breasts in the freezer, and cooking one of them with BBQ sauce, Parmesan cheese, etc. Way less calories than the fast food stuff and still relatively yummy.
    However, we’re in Lent now, and in a fit of misguided devoutness, I asked Mr. 50by60 not to buy any more meat or dairy products from Trader Joe’s till after Lent. Which sounds fine and dandy, except twice last week, while out on a long, healthy walk, I “rewarded” myself with some KFC.
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  4. Peanut Butter — When I was a kid, I *hated* peanut butter. I still hate it when it’s combined with something else, like chocolate.
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    But a really good, thick peanut butter & jelly sandwich? MMM!!
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    And it’s totally Lenten, too! So it should be good for you, right? Well, yeah, unless you have, er, more than one, and then start diggin’ into the PB jar as well. Yum, more calories!
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  5. Non-Peanut Butter — Just regular butter, y’know, melted and on popcorn. ‘Cause popcorn’s good for you! It’s got fiber &etc. It’s just that, y’know, that fake butter spray isn’t quite as good as the real, calorific thing.
    popcorn.jpg

So there ya go, five reasons why I may be stuck at the 179/180 plateau for a little longer! Of course, as they say, being able to describe your problem is the first step towards solving it, so maybe now I’ll just fix myself a nice, low-calorie Thomas 100-Calorie English Muffin for breakfast.

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(With, y’know, maybe a dab or two of melted butter.)

See you Monday, to find out how that affects my weight!

Happy Birthday to Moi!

Since yesterday was my birthday…and since I did indeed lose 50 pounds by my 60th birthday (hence the name of this blog)…

I’ve decided the best present I could possibly give myself is…

NO WEIGH-IN TODAY YAYYYY!!!

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So, pass me another cuppa cofveve,
and hand me a slice of birthday cake,
’cause this is it — my special birthday!
It’s time for another diet break!**

Plenty of time in the next week to go back to the calorie counting and the exercise, right? At least, that’s the theory! We’ll see how that plays out next week, as I begin the next phase of my diet journey*: 30 More Pounds By (Orthodox) Christmas!

Who’s with me?

bueller
OK, that’s it! Enjoy your Labor Day weekend! (Oh, and by the way, when I was a kid, my mom told me it was called “Labor Day” because it’s when I was born, and I believed her, so be sure & thank her for your nice long weekend!!)

(*I know, I hate that word too, but what are you gonna do, eh?) 

(**Inspired by “Truck Drivin’ Man,” written by Terry Fell & performed by many, many, many folks — here’s Buck Owens for ya! here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVgo6bgLw9Y)

Pre-Vacay Weigh!

Good morning, everyone, and happy Monday! Here’s my weigh-in —

188.2
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Up just a tad from last week. Oh well, really, that’s OK! I’ve decided that for the next few weeks, I’m gonna temporarily shift my focus from losing to maintaining.

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See, Mr. 50by60 and I going on yet another Vacay Train Trip starting this week, so I’m going to allow Amtrak to tempt me with all their delicious onboard menus, as well as enjoy the luxuries of the Hotel Continental Breakfast Bar. I’ll try to keep things in check but I’m not gonna try too hard — I mean, come on, it’s VAKAY!

downton eating

Anyway, my main goal right now is to maintain that 50-pound loss till my official 60th birthday, which happens to be right around Labor Day (my mother told me that’s why they named it that). After that, I’ll continue with Phase Three of the Big Giant 100-Pound Weight Loss. And I just KNOW I can do it!

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(In case you’re new to the blog, Phase One was 2016-2017, when I lost 20 pounds; Phase Two was when I started this blog & then lost 50 pounds; Phase Three is from now till Christmas (with the option of a 12-day Orthodox Christmas extension) when I plan to lose the final 30 pounds. 20 plus 50 plus 30 equals 100. There ya go, a little math for ya, and no Barbie meme to spoil things.

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Harumph! Anyway, this is the LAST WEIGH-IN for two weeks, since they don’t provide bathroom scales on Amtrak or our hotel, and we’re not packin’ ’em, either. I’ll try to post from the road (er, the rails) at some point, but meanwhile, hope YOU have a nice vacay planned! If not, at least try to take a long lunch, sit outside with some iced tea or something, and enjoy the last dregs of summer!

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Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-in: Slow ‘n steady!

Whee! Here we go with yet another weekly weigh-in, and I don’t know about you but the tension ’round here is palpable!

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So I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Ready? Here goes:

187.6

Not too shabby! Almost a pound down from last week, and that’s just fine — more than fine, in fact.

Don’t know if I’ve expounded on this before (get it? I’m a dieter — ex-pounding — anybody?)…

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Um, anyway, IMHO, slow weight loss is really the way to go if you want to keep it off for the long haul!

First, the longer it takes you to lose the weight, the more likely you are to develop better eating and exercise habits which will help you maintain your loss.

Second, the less weight you’re aiming to lose per week, the more calories you can allow yourself per day. And in this long, hot summer of 2018, that means:

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Heck, they’re only 40 calories each and they sure are good! (And in case you’re wondering, I don’t get free Fudgsicles for mentioning them in my blog, but I’m 100% open to the possibility of delicious, icy cold bribery!)

Anyway — ahem! Back to the slow weight loss thingy! Another thing that’s nice about taking your sweet time to drop the fat is that it gives your body more time to adjust. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, you’re gonna have a little bit of the “loose skin” problem no matter what, but the slower you go the less drastic it’s gonna look.

And eventually, if you stick to it, either the skin will tighten up, or science will finally find a way to convert those arm flaps to wings, and you can save on transportation costs. Either way, win-win!

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That’s all I got, folks! Have a great week, and I’ll see you Friday (or thereabouts)!

Summer Vacation? Diet Break!

Well, it’s summertime, and for those of you who’ve been watching my blog (all 2 of you – hi!), I seem to have entered the dreaded —

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Weight Loss Plateau!

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So while I’m not ready to do anything drastic, like change the diet completely which would be kinda silly, ’cause it’s WORKING, and you know what they say —

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Oh! Well, I guess that’s true, Dwight! But still, what I’m thinking of isn’t so much changing the diet, as just taking a TEMPORARY break from it.

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Now, the idea of taking a “diet break” is nothing new. It’s recommended in an AWFUL lot of diet plans (both sensible and whacko). The idea is, as Lyle MacDonald at Body Recomposition puts it:

…Say that you are someone who is extremely overweight, perhaps you have 50-100 pound of weight to lose (or more).  Going by the standard recommendations of 1-2 pounds per week, that means that you are realistically looking at 25-50 weeks of dieting.

…What if, instead of facing that huge mountain, you knew that you only had to go say, 10-12 weeks of dieting before getting a break for 2 weeks where you could eat relatively ‘normally’ (note: this does NOT mean returning to your old horrible eating habits) before starting the next phase of active weight loss?

Suddenly, that might seem a whole hell of a lot more doable.

Jay at AWorkoutRoutine also recommends the diet breaks in his self-published book, “Superior Fat Loss” (which may seem a bit pricey, to us cheapskates, BUT it’s really a great resource, chock-full of strategies, techniques, and tips — and WAY better than 99.99% of all the other diet books you’ve already wasted way more $$ on, IMHO, so there!) as well as on his blog:

Instead of going months and months in a consistent caloric deficit, use refeeds and/or diet breaks to periodically pause your deficit and go back up to your maintenance level (or a small surplus) to help minimize the amount of water retention that occurs and get rid of whatever water weight you’re already holding

And of course, the entire concept of the “No S Diet” involves taking regular “diet breaks,” if only on certain days:

There are just three rules and one exception:

  • No Snacks
  • No Sweets
  • No Seconds

Except (sometimes) on days that start with “S”

So I’m giving it some thought. Please note, though: as I understand it, taking a diet break does NOT mean just dumping all my nice, new healthy eating habits and eating all the junk food that got me to the point where I had to go on this diet in the first place!

 

No, no, there’d be at least a minimum schoche of planning involved! Basically, what I’d do is add about 500 calories per day to the level I’ve been losing at, to bring me up to maintenance level.

I don’t know if I have the guts to do this for TWO weeks, but I’m gonna try it for at least ONE week (from today through next Friday) and see how I feel by then. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Awww, come on, Snowdrop, not in just one week!! I don’t THINK that could happen … but we’ll find out!! So I’ll see you Monday for the post-first-three-days-of-diet-break weigh-in! Have a great weekend!

Weekly Weigh-in: On Fluctuations and Freakouts!

(sigh) OK, let’s get right to it, shall we, ’cause this is one o’them “teachable moments” y’all’ve heard tell about. Ready? Let’s go!

Today’s Weight:  198.0
d'oh

And what was last week’s weight? Let’s see … oh yeah … 194.8. Which means since last week — a mere seven days — I’ve GAINED 3.2 pounds!

Oh no!! Could it be my diet is at fault??

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Er, no. While I have to admit I was tempted to have a minor freakout at the number on the scale this morning, I realized that it wasn’t really as bad as it might seem. Here’s my rationale:

  1. I’ve been sticking close to my basic daily calorie allowance every day. Sometimes a little higher, sometimes a little lower, but on average, I’m okay.
  2. I’ve been going out on long walks, not every day but every other day. And since the weather’s warmer, I’m drinking more water than usual.
  3. Ipso facto ergo sum: the extra weight’s probably water, hun! (I know that doesn’t quite rhyme, but gimme a break, I haven’t had my coffee yet!)

This may well be just one of those dreaded “weight loss plateaus,” where you’re doing EVERYTHING right, but the scale doesn’t seem to agree. If you haven’t already, really, you NEED to bookmark this great blog, aworkoutroutine.com/blog, which talks you through all this stuff:

Problem is, most dieters (and I include myself, the last few times I’ve tried this!) get panicky when the scales don’t change, and after a while, they decide, “Aw, I give up! This diet isn’t working! Exercise is for suckers!”

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And they head straight for the nearest KFC, order the Big Giant Fried Chicken O’Death (with Mac & Cheese AND Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, puhleese!), and go back to the way of life which led them TO the diet in the first place!

And guess what happens next? Yeah — you veteran dieters are nodding. We know this all too well, right? As Flora, a Weight Watchers leader, once put it (at one of the few meetings I actually sat all the way through), “All those pounds will come back, and this time they’ll bring their little friends!”

 

Hey, if it happened to Doctor Who, it can happen to anybody!

So, I REFUSE to freak out and make any radical changes to either my diet or my exercise plan. I *will*, however, make the following (re)commitments for the week ahead, and see if that makes any difference next Monday:

  1. Be more diligent about writing down my food calories. I’ve allowed myself to get a little lax in the past few weeks, sometimes just keeping a running total in my head. Writing everything down, even those 15-calorie Ricola cough drops, may seem overly nitpicky, but that way I can be closer to 100% sure I’m in compliance with my daily calorie allotment.
  2. Go to the gym at least twice this week. Yeah, yeah, yeah, walking outdoors is more fun, exercising outdoors is more fun … I’m the one who always says that stuff, right? Still, going to the gym is good because you’re less likely to be distracted by interesting stuff along the trail (SQUIRREL!) and lose your exercise mojo. Plus, it’s gonna be super hot this week (yay!) so I’ll get to enjoy that sweet, sweet air conditioning.
  3. Weigh every day, check the averages. Again, from aworkoutroutine.com:

…if you weigh yourself every day and then take the AVERAGE at the end of the week (and base your decisions on THAT weekly number)… then you’ll have the most accurate figure you could possibly get. Doing it this way actually serves to eliminate the potential of daily weight fluctuations throwing things off. (from How Often Should You Weigh Yourself & When Is the Best Time?)

So — MAJOR BLOG FORMAT CHANGE! ALERT THE MEDIA!! — starting today, I’m going to post my morning weigh-in EVERY DAY!!

Wow — bet you didn’t see that coming! Guess what — neither did I! But ya know, it seems plausible, so I’m gonna try it for at least this coming week. (If it gets to be too much of a hassle, I’ll pretend I never said it, like people used to do in pre-Twitter times.)

Man, sounds like the week ahead is gonna be hard … I better get that coffee going! OK (deep breath) … see you TOMORROW then!

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Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-In, plus Slow & Steady Wins the Weight-Loss Race!

Good morning, everyone, and happy Monday to you and yours!

First of all, let’s celebrate – I THINK I’m back at my pre-vakay weight, yay! Let’s find out for sure, though. Ready? (deep breath) OK, here we go!

195.6
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Yeah, almost there – just a silly little millimeter away from where I was oh, those long, long weeks ago (three, to be precise). It’s headed in the right direction, so I’m happy!

And besides, that gives me a chance to say something I’ve been thinking about. Isn’t it discouraging when you’re measuring your weight loss in fractions of pounds, rather than big chunks? I mean, you watch those Fatty Fat McFat shows on cable, and see people losing hundreds of pounds from weight-loss surgery; you live for each new season of “The Biggest Loser;” you see happy people in ads claiming they lost 60 pounds in a month by switching to this diet or that supplement …
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and then YOU, who’ve been diligently tracking your calories and doing your daily walk, hop on the scale and … hmm … a half-pound since last week. Not quite so dramatic, right? Still, as I’ve frequently said, math is your friend.

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No, it’s really easy, Barbie! Trust me! Pull out your abacus, your handy-dandy solar-powered calculator, or even one of them new-fangled calculator apps, and punch in some numbers with me, ‘kay? Ready?

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Half a pound of weight lost in one week equals 0.5. There’s 52 weeks in a year. Therefore, 0.5 times 52 is … got it? Pencils down! The answer is:

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So even if you’re “only” losing half a pound a week, that’s 26 pounds DOWN in a year. That still may not sound like as much as you’d like to lose, but think about it – at 11:59 PM on December 31, 2018, wouldn’t you rather look back on a 26-pound LOSS than a 26-pound GAIN? I know I would!

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Also, this is just my personal theory, and I don’t know if it’s backed up by Science(tm). But I think the slower you lose the weight, the less likely you are to gain it all back when you reach your goal. You’ll have developed better eating and exercise habits, plus your body will have had more time to get used to the changes.

So even though you, as a dieter, may feel a bit awkward compared to all those “professionals” out there losing weight by the ton, you’re actually doing great! Hang in there, take your time, maintain that caloric deficit, and you WILL get there!

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Friday Five: 5 ways to make calorie counting slightly easier

Howdy there, friends and neighborinos! If you’re counting your calories every day, perhaps you occasionally (like EVERY DAY) look for ideas to make the whole process a little easier. Here are a few ideas I came up with, all of which I’ve done (or at least imagined doing):

  1. Easiest: Just count ’em manually, using an app like MyFitnessPal or just jotting everything down on a piece of paper. I used to use MFP but then I decided to become an elderly hipster and got a flip phone. Yeah … it’s cool, man …
    independent_telephone_company_ad_seattle_1905
    BUT it ain’t got no apps! So, pen and paper it is. Which is actually super-easy. Just write the number of calories you’re allowing yourself for the day at the top of the page, and subtract as you use them.
  2. For Those Who Love To Plan: Divide your total daily calorie allowance by the number of meals and snacks you plan to have. This works best for people who are stuck in a food rut and know exactly what they’re going to eat all day, every day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! However, if you tend towards the more spontaneous life, you may prefer to stick with #1.
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    (Seriously, this isn’t a bad strategy at all. In fact, when my husband and I first started dieting two years ago, we used a version of this called the “No S Diet,” which is basically three meals a day, no snacks, which pretty much ensures you’ll stick to your calorie allowance for the day. Give it a look – it might be just what you’re looking for!)
  3. For Those With Money: Pay someone to count everything for you. Hey, a lot of people do it. In fact, it’s big business — Jenny Craig, Medifast, etc. Heck, you can even get all your food delivered to your house in controlled portions so you don’t even have to read the labels for yourself. Wowza! Just make sure they know you’re trying to LOSE, not GAIN, the weight!
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    By Baker Art Gallery – Library of Congress Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8273366
  4. Call Them Something Else, like POINTS! Similar to #3, but involves a highly complicated formula that only a publicly traded company like Weight Watchers can decipher. The nice thing is they give you lots of “free” foods, which ensures you won’t lose weight too quickly (or at all), because there ARE no foods completely free of calories. (Sshhh – don’t tell! It’s proprietary!)
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  5. Hike The Appalachian Trail: This is the only one of the above I haven’t tried … yet! But I read a lot of books about it, and from what I understand, long-distance thru-hiking burns a TON of calories – so much so that hikers are notorious for their ravenous appetites. Of course, once you’re done with the hike, and you go back to your normal way of eating, you’ll have to start all over. But hey, there are lots of trails all over the world, so go for it!

OK – that’s it! Sorry this was late, but I’ll be back Monday, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel, with what I HOPE will be “Milestone Monday At Last!” We’ll see … I still have to get through those church donuts …

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(unused WordPress Prompt of the Day: glimmer)

Calories DO count – so there!

Calorie-Counting-Meme

I may not be an officially certified and licensed Diet Guru, but I’m reasonably conversant in the science relating to how weight loss actually occurs, what works, what doesn’t work, and what’s, excuse my French, total BS.

Like you, I saw those ecstatic headlines in the news earlier this week about how a new study supposedly “proved” that calorie counting is a big ol’ waste of time! Just check out these headlines:

and a multitude of others, triumphantly crowing the sensational message that YOU – yes, YOU! – no longer have to worry about the tiresome task of keeping track of your daily calorie input! Rumors flew that MyFitnessPal, Lose It!, Sparkpeople, and other heretofore popular calorie-counting apps had conceded defeat, and were converting to Game of Thrones fan sites.

Well, not so fast, folks. I’ve been around for a while – almost 60 years (hence the name!), and I can pretty much guarantee you that right now, somewhere in the world, there’s ANOTHER scientist out there doing a mega-study that will prove exactly the OPPOSITE of what this gentleman’s study supposedly proved. I GUARANTEE you that within a few months there’ll be another round of sensational headlines to the effect that “Calories DO Count After All!” and you and I will be left befuddled, once again, as we usually are when we rely on the 24/7 news cycle for our diet information.

Maybe it would help if we separated “calorie counting” which is, after all, a mechanism we use to determine how many calories we’re consuming, from “calorie deficit,” which is the undeniable, bottom-line TRUTH about how we human beings lose weight:

A. You take in a certain amount of calories every day (by eating).
B. You expend a certain amount of calories (by moving, breathing, etc.).

Subtract B from A, and you get your calorie deficit. It’s that simple.

“Calorie counting” is just the way you keep track of what calories you take in (A) or expend (B). And there are LOTS of ways to do this.

  1. You can just count them yourself, either by using one of the aforesaid apps, or just jotting them down on a piece of paper.
  2. You can pay some big corporation to convert them, by some elaborate proprietary mathematical formulation, into “points” or “magic beans” or whatever.
  3. You can pay some big corporation to supervise your entire daily food allotment so you don’t have to worry about counting anything yourself, ever (other than your checking account balance).
  4. You can do some mega amounts of exercise (B) such as hiking the Appalachian Trail, which burns @ 500 calories per hour.
  5. You can quit your job so you won’t be tempted by all the vending machines and daily birthday cakes, move into your mom’s basement, and shun the outside world completely. (There are probably some other problems with that, though – what if your mom’s house doesn’t have a basement?)

Anyway, my point (and I do have one!) is that there are all sorts of ways to create a calorie deficit without necessarily “counting calories.” I personally choose to do that because it’s the easiest and most flexible method I’ve found so far. It lets me eat pretty much anything I want, so long as it doesn’t make me go over my daily calorie allotment. Some of those other methods work for other people.

But bottom line: no matter what this or similar studies say, if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the people who lost weight did so because they were eating foods that were lower in calories than what they’d previously been eating – thus creating a calorie deficit!!

So calories DO count – always have, always will! It’s just a question of how you choose to count them!

Mother Jones has an even better response to this study than mine: What’s the Real Takeaway From Yesterday’s Big Low-Carb vs. Low-Fat Showdown? in which they point out that if you read the fine print from that big study, it really just reiterates what calorie counters say as well: “If you cut back on something with lots of calories, you’re cutting back on calories.”

There you go. Read the fine print on these studies, go beyond the headlines, and you’ll always find the truth buried deep inside the hype.

 

Time for the Rhymin’ Weekly Weigh-in!, and Don’t Let The Numbers Get You Down!

“Aha!” I bet you’re thinking. “Based on that provocative title, I bet she’s got a weight GAIN to report this week!”

Well, let’s find out, shall we? Here we go:

218.6
Get the brownie mix!
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Down 0.4 pounds, baby! Although — let me tell you a li’l story.

This morning, I got up at about 5:45 a.m. to let the cats out. (Yes, we let our cats go out. They come back. They sleep for the rest of the day. Don’t hate me.) I held the door open for them for about five minutes, as I shivered in the subzero Arctic temperatures (46° F, brr!!), till they finally sauntered out.

On the way back to my warm warm bed, I stepped on the digital scales and weighed myself, for the first time.

212.5
Man alive!

Needless to say, I was stoked! Almost 7 pounds lost since last week? What a killer blog I was gonna have today! The late, great Huell Howser would arise from the sludge of his eternal resting place (Palm Springs, I believe), to proclaim my awesomeness!

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But guess what? After lying in bed for about an hour, dreaming of my frabjillious weight loss, I finally got up (the cats again — this time, they wanted FOOD, ferkryinoutlowd), and weighed myself again.

And guess what? I’d gained back 6 of those magical 7 pounds!! All in the space of a little more than an hour!

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So — if you’re one of those people who lives and dies by the numbers on the scale, maybe you need to rethink your philosophy of life, the universe, and weight loss. Those numbers can drive you nuts, if you think too much about them. Numbers suck, really.

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And I for one am thrilled that I’ve lost as much weight as I have already. If anyone who tells you “calories don’t count,” you have my permission to punish them, severely!

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Have a super-awesome week, everyone, and a happy Thanksgiving to all!

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