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 …
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    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)

A few Friday quickies!

When I started this blog, I imagined writing long posts, maybe (in my incredible optimism) even one per day.

Well, rather than wait for inspiration to strike, today I’m going to emulate Amy Welborn’s weekly “7 Quick Takes” over at Charlotte was Both, and just do a post with a few short, pithy* observations, comments, and whatnot.

  1. Happy first day of Fall! Yes, the leaves have started turning gorgeous colors (even out here in Southern California); the temperatures have been dropping (57 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, brr!!); and most importantly, the Christmas decorations are showing up at the drugstores. So we know it’s coming, right? The dreaded Holiday Season (aaughh!!) which causes so much angst to so many (and not just us dieters!).

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    But be of good cheer – one of the advantages of getting older is that time seems to pass a lot more quickly. Before you know it, it’ll be Spring again (aaughh!!).

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  2. In Praise of Fake Foods: Again, I was gonna do a whole blog post on this, and in fact, maybe I will, in the future. But yesterday I had a couple of completely fake slices of “vegan cheese,” and I just have to say, they were actually not too bad. A little oily-tasting (engine, not vegetable), but there was enough of a hint of a taste of actual cheese in it to satisfy my Cheese Lust, for a few minutes, anyway. So yay fake cheese, I guess (but not for too much longer!).
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  3. My husband is freaking out, on an almost daily basis, about the fact that our venerable old Weight Watchers digital scale (which, I’d like to point out, HE selected and purchased) is slightly inaccurate. Actually, it’s INCREDIBLY inaccurate. And not in a good way, like the even older analog scale which it replaced, which you could easily readjust (downwards) by sliding the little metal lever at the back just a li-t-t-l-e bit to the right. No, this one goes UP by two or three pounds, within a matter of seconds. I keep telling him to just do the weigh-yourself-every-day-and-only-count-the-average method, and he says he does, but he still freaks out. I sense some new scales in our future.

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  4. I’m doing pretty well with my exercise promises. This week, I did nice long walks (at least 30 minutes) on Tuesday and Thursday, and plan to do another one tomorrow (Saturday), for my bare minimum of three days a week. Now, I know a lot of fitness gurus out there say we should be doing this kind of thing every day. Well, I don’t know about you, but most of my “keeping commitments” energy is spent on remembering to brush and floss every day. So exercising three days a week isn’t too shabby, if you ask me!

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  5. Right now, I’m cooking a really yummy-smelling lunch: no-egg-yolk pasta, topped with just a sprinkling of cheese (the real, non-crankcase kind!), tuna, frozen veggies, and lots and lots and LOTS of garlic and onion powder. Mmm! (And yeah, I’ll definitely be brushing and flossing afterwards!)

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OK, that’s it – my Friday Five! Hope your first day of Fall is a scintillating one. (Dare I say it might be a good time to turn over a new leaf? Hee hee!)

(*watch your pronunciation there!)

How about Monday?

I’ve been thinking about which day of the week to do my “official” weigh-in, for purposes of this blog.

In the past, when I was attending Weight Watchers meetings (yeah, I did that too!), it was Saturday morning. I liked that, because then I basically had a whole weekend to pig out before starting fresh Monday morning.

Now, though, I’m tending to pig out a lot less, but when I do, it’s usually Sunday. Can’t resist those church donuts – mmm …

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Since I began this latest version of “My Weight Loss Journey” (and if I ever say it like that again, please feel free to smack me!), I’ve been weighing myself five days a week – Monday through Friday – then averaging those together to enter on My Fitness Pal.

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But now I’m thinking, why not make Monday my official Weigh-in Day? Here’s some more or less good reasons:

1. Since I’m no longer working in a crappy little cubicle, in a crappy little office, doing crappy, depressing work, Mondays are no longer the crappiest day of the week for me. I need something to bring back that crappy “I Hate Mondays!” feeling, so my burgeoning legions of readers will sense that I still understand them, as I rocket off into blog stardom. (less good)

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2. Since Sunday tends to be the day I’m most likely to pig out (reminder: church donuts!), Monday is the day my weight is at its highest, so perhaps it’ll give a more accurate picture of my true progress. (slightly more good)

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3. I’m awake anyway, I might as well do something useful. (okay, I’m reaching now)

Hmm. Okay, Monday it is! So here it is, my OFFICIAL weigh-in for the week of August 28, 2017:

237.1 lbs

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That’ll be my official STARTING weight, too, so starting NEXT Monday, I’ll start noting how many pounds I’ve lost, as well.

That’s it for today – thanks for reading! Hope your week goes well. Oh, and if YOU have to go to work in a crappy little cubicle, in a crappy little office, doing crappy, depressing work, do yourself a favor: rent “Office Space” IMMEDIATELY, and show your flair!

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So – now what? My more or less vague plans and intentions

So, now that you know all about me and my dieting/weight loss history, it’s time to focus on the present – and the future.

Now that I’ve I’ve managed to cobble together some weight-loss wisdom, it’s time to put it into practice. Hence, the title of this blog, “50 by 60,” meaning I’ve decided to lose 50 pounds by my 60th birthday – a little more than a year from now.

As of my last weigh-in, the scales stand at 242 pounds. A 50-pound weight loss would put me below 200 pounds – for the first time in at least two decades!

Now I know – and you know – that we’re not supposed to focus on the numbers on the scale. They only represent one metric of health and fitness. There are lots of other numbers which are just as important, if not more so. Like your blood pressure,  for example. Or your bank balance. I’d love to see THAT number change!

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Still … I’m a flawed, fallible human being. And even though it may seem superficial and shallow to some, I’ve decided that seeing the numbers on my 10-year-old Weight Watchers decrease to a number starting with a “1” rather than a “2” would make me very, very, VERY happy. (At least for a few minutes.)

So, let’s go! Next post, I’ll dive into the specifics of what I’m doing and why, diet and exercise-wise.

(Meanwhile, if you’re one of the lovely people who’ve “liked” my blog so far, please feel free to post something in the comments – even if only to say hi! But if you’re too shy, that’s fine. I’m glad to know you’re out there, anyway!)

50 by 60 – what it all means

Hi, everyone –

My name is Christine, and this is my new blog about why I’m determined to try to lose 50 pounds by the time I turn 60 next year. “50 by 60” – get it?

Anyway, here’s Part I of my long-winded explanation!

I’m about to turn 59 years old, an age I couldn’t even begin to imagine back in 1975, when I made my first real, serious attempt to lose weight by attending TOPS meetings in Belton, Missouri.

Being an eldest child, the awards appealed to me, and I did lose quite a bit of weight. But when I went away to college the next year, it came roaring back, “with all of its little friends,” as Flora, a Weight Watchers leader I met later in life, would describe this all-too-familiar process.

Fast-forward through the ensuing decades, during which I more or less half-heartedly continued my weight loss efforts, through a myriad of diets (all of which insist on calling themselves “lifestyle changes”) and exercise attempts, resting from time to time in the arms of the newly emerging Body Acceptance movement.

Now, here I am, almost 59 years old, living the dream in sunny Southern California, and tipping the scales at about 240 pounds – about 120 pounds heavier than when I started, all those years ago, in that dusty brick building in Belton.

I can never go back to Belton (er, well, OK, I have been back a few times, but it’s a metaphor, OK? Think “Manderly”!) – and I don’t know if I can ever get back to 120 pounds.

manderly

But you know what? I don’t think it’s impossible. And I’ve got some encouraging recent history to back that up.

First of all, just a little over a year ago, my doctor (well, actually the nurse-practitioner – you know how HMOs are these days!) recommended that I consider getting weight loss surgery. I bristled, still brimming with ideology from the Fat Acceptance movement.

“What? ME? What’s wrong with my weight? Sure, I’m fat. I admit it. I embrace it! But I’m healthy! My blood pressure is perfect (true); my cholesterol is–well, okay, it’s a little high, but it’s GOOD cholesterol (more or less true); and I can walk anywhere I want.”

Okay — NOT true!

But I THOUGHT I could, because you see, during these past few decades, I have done quite a lot of walking, especially since moving to California. I used to work in Downtown Los Angeles, and at least two or three times a week, I’d actually walk from my apartment building to my office, four miles one way.

When the Red Line was built, I moved to the Valley and took the subway to work, but always got off a stop or two before my office building, so I could continue my morning walks.

And I loved it! I got intimately familiar with all the sidewalks, traffic lights, and public restrooms between Union Station and Bunker Hill. (I even got to see the chaos surrounding the O.J. Simpson trial, up close and personal, walking past the Hall of Justice every morning.)

Not only that, but early in my So Cal residency, I even climbed the entirety of a pretty steep switchback trail to the top of a (relatively short) mountain called Echo Mountain, north of Altadena, California. I was fascinated by the fact that there’d once been a railroad (the Mount Lowe Railway) stretching from Downtown all the way up to the top of this mountain, and made myself climb to the top to see the ruins of the old hotel

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So, walking and I – we had a history.

But by the time I saw my nurse-practitioner last year, I’d been “downsized” from my Downtown job, and was living a very sedentary life with my husband in the Valley. With no incentive to go anywhere other than the grocery store, my daily walking dwindled to once a week, if that.

Still, there was no way I was going to have weight loss surgery. I’d known people who’d had it, and had terrible health problems afterwards. Plus, there was just something inside me — maybe the spirits of my pioneer ancestors — that rebelled at the idea of taking the “easy way out.” (Before you start throwing rocks at your screen, I KNOW surgery isn’t “easy”! This was just me being overly paranoid, okay? Hang in there!)

So, no surgery for me. And yet — when I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole idea of trying, yet again, to lose weight. And I realized that, in spite of all the Fat Acceptance messages I’d absorbed, I really did want to try again, one more time.

A couple of years ago, I had read a book called “The No-S Diet” by an engineer named Reinhard Engels. The basic concept is so simple that (as the author himself pointed out) you really just needed to read the subtitle on the front cover:

“No snacks, seconds, or sweets, except on days that start with S.”

In other words, three meals a day, and that’s it.

I liked the concept because it was simple and easy to remember, and had dabbled with it for a while, but lost interest one hot August weekday when I was craving a giant ice cream sandwich. (spoiler alert: foreshadowing!!)

Now I remembered it, and decided this might be the perfect plan to start a more serious weight-loss effort with. And my husband, bless his heart, agreed to go along with it and try it with me.

Here’s what really made the difference this time: being a good Catholic ( more or less ), I decided to enlisted the Lord in my efforts, making a solemn promise to Him that I would stick with this plan for AT LEAST three months before giving up and/or trying something else. I actually stood in front of the altar (when no one else was there, naturally) and raised my hand, Scarlett O’Hara-like, as I made my pledge:

“As God is my witness, I’ll never snack again, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and ‘special’ days!”

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And it worked! The weight loss was slow – maybe a pound a month, if that — but the important thing was that after years of “mindless eating,” I felt in control of what I was eating. I could see exactly what I was consuming, at every meal, and decide whether or not a particular food was worthy of a place on my plate.

Satisfied with how easy it was, I renewed my pledge to God three months later. Everything was fine — until the hot weather struck, early in the spring — and I realized I was at a fork in the road.

(To be continued!)