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Monday, August 1, 2016

I've Been off Track Again

Health Goals: Consistency is the Challenge


No matter method what you use, consistency is key.


When it comes to developing habits consistent with the goal of weight loss, consistency is the real challenge. Whatever method you choose to approach weight loss or health goals, whether its just generally "eating healthier", or counting calories, or avoiding carbohydrates, or going vegan... whatever approach you take, it doesn't work if you don't do it consistently.

Consistency is hard, but habit is easy.

Its hard to be consistent with something that doesn't just come naturally to you.  I mean, it is natural for me to want to shower every day, I've done it daily for so many years that I don't even feel awake until I've done it. So being consistent with that is easy for me.  Its as natural to me as looking for something to eat when I'm hungry, or putting on a sweater if I'm cold.  There is no question that if it is at all possible I'm going to do it.  I mean, I might skip it if the pump to our well breaks down or something, but I never just skip it because I forgot or because I didn't feel like it.

But when it comes to things that aren't just second nature habits... remembering to do them is hard.
Even when I remember, disciplining myself to do do them when I don't feel like it is hard.
Taking the necessary steps such as measuring food, cooking healthy meals instead of stopping for pizza, recording things on sparkpeople, can be hard at times, but most of the time the actual steps are not the problem, its just remembering and being determined to do them.

Developing consistency, making it a habit

What I need to do is to develop these things as a habit that I just do... like taking a shower. Just like with showering, there may be times when circumstances force me to not act on my regular habit, but whenever it is humanly possible, these things should just be automatic. I need to do them long enough to make them habit.

To that end, I am keeping a habit tracker.  I started one last month, but I think I was trying to develop too many habits at once and got kind of discouraged.  So I've paired down my habit tracker considerably for this month.

Some things like Bible reading and prayer, will always be on my habit tracker.  Other things may be dropped once they are established to the point of being second nature.

For the month of August, my habit tracker looks like this:

As you can see, the main habits I'm focusing on in regards to physical health is to walk every day, track my calories each day, and stay in my calorie range at least most of the days.  I am putting priority on the walking and the tracking calories for now, because I want to hold myself accountable to track even if I am going over.  Even if I am guessing at calories at a restaurant or something, I want to enter something into sparkpeople that shows what and about how much I ate.  Lets say I am eating sweet and sour pork at a Chinese restaurant.  I may not know exactly how many calories, but I can find an entry online for sweet and sour pork, and enter those calories... knowing that I'm going to be closer that way than if I just didn't track at all, which usually results in me eating more, and unhealthier choices for the rest of the day.

I think I'll also add, "weigh in on Mondays" to my habit tracker.

Not all my desired habits relate to physical health

Other things on my habit tracker are daily habits I need to develop for other purposes.  Such as Bible reading and prayer, which relates to my spiritual and mental health.  Cleaning and organizing for one hour a day at least most days is just a personal goal I want to work on to help bring order to my life. Some are business goals like tending my etsy shop, which means updating listings that need better tags, adding new listings when appropriate, renewing listings when appropriate, deactivating listings that sell at the art co-op, or that are seasonal and their season is past for the year. Other business related goals are things like updating my art blog at least twice a week, to keep the site active and give people something to see when they land on my page.  I also have a goal to update this blog weekly, probably most often will be on Mondays. 

Now on the habit tracker, for daily goals I color in a square when I finish a goal, for a goal that happens only once or twice a week, I will mark off 7 day increments (like I did above for the blogs), then on the days I do those things, I will color in that square.  At the end of the seven days I will draw an "x" through the days that were not "required" on my goal.  If I didn't do the required days however, I don't get to "x out" any days on those seven, because the goal wasn't met.  A row of colored in or x'd squares shows a goal met, while blank squares at the end show a habit that needs a lot more attention to develop. 

My current weight

In keeping with my goal of weighing in and blogging on here once a week, I wrote this bog, and I also weighed in this morning at 278.4 lbs, hopefully by next Monday that number will a bit lower.  





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Friday, July 8, 2016

A Great New (or is it old?) Way to Stay on Track

What is the system?

In my last post I hinted about a system that was really helping me to keep on track, not just with diet and exercise, but in all areas of my life.  Since starting this system my productivity has grown exponentially.  So What is this wonderful system?  Is it some fancy new high tech app that orders my days for me?  Is it an alarm going off prompting me to start the next activity?  Well, actually, no.

The Bullet Journal System

What I've been doing isn't really new, and it certainly isn't high tech.  At its heart it consists of a notebook, or journal, and a pen.

It is basically building your own planner / journal, so that it meets your needs exactly.  With it you can track future events so you don't forget them, have a list of tasks to do each day, and an easy system to move tasks that don't get done to the next day so that you can give them another go.

I'm still using Sparkpeople to track my calories, but I track whether or not I actually used sparkpeople in the bullet journal on a page called a habit tracker.

Now, I've only been using this system a few days, but I've accomplished more in the past few days than in the month previous!

Since I'm so new to Bullet Journaling, I certainly can't claim any expertise in the system.  I made a few mistakes and laid things out differently than I should have, but the system is flexible enough to go with those errors, and still work.

If you'd like a basic intro to bullet journaling, I recommend you go to the original source of the system first, and then look at how others have customized it to fit their own needs.  It can be adapted and changed endlessly, with all kinds of artistic flair added, but its probably good to go to the original idea and get the basics first.  To do that, watch the following video from the creator of the system:



Now, from here you can google "Bullet Journal" and get all kinds of awesome ideas.

For me, after I do each daily spread, I do a short, or sometimes a long, evaluation of how the day went, what were my mistakes in using the system?  Did I stick to my plan?  Did I assign myself too many, not enough, or just the right amount of tasks?  Overall how did the day go?

Just to give you an idea of how my productivity has increased, here is today's evaluation, and the start of tomorrows task list, if you read my evaluation you can see that I really got a lot done today, including walking over 4.4 miles!



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I'm Still Here

I haven't posted as regularly as I should have, but I'm still here and haven't given up.  I did have a few off days, but I'm back on track now, and the damage was minimal.

I have come across a system that really seems to be keeping me on track, not just in my eating habits and exercise, but in other areas as well.  I will post more about that soon.
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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Week One of my New Start Behind Me.

Weight Loss After One Week

Well, I'm not surprised that the first week of eating healthy resulted in rather big losses, that is always the case as excess water leaves the body.  I've lost 7.1 pounds, bringing my total weight to 280.4.

I'm pleased with that result, and will keep up with this plan.  I've started to add walking into the plan, but at this time my feet still hurt so much that I can't manage it every day, they need a recovery day in between.  I am also not going nearly as far as I was before regaining, but that's okay, it will improve.

I new ticker to show my progress.



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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Midweek Check in

My New Health Plan So Far

Just a quick update on how my new health plan is going.

Its Been a Few Days

Well, it was Sunday that I weighed myself and saw that I was truly starting from scratch, and it was Monday that I wrote a blog post about it.  Now it is Thursday morning, and time to check in. 

Refining My Calorie Goals

I gave my goals some more thought, and compared it to other sources and calculators, and refined the goals a little.  I ended up setting my goal on Sparkpeople at 1700-2000 calories a day. This is really close to the goals I set on Monday, but has a little flexibility worked into it.  Eventually the top ceiling will be lowered to around 1800, and the starting point will probably be lowered to around 1400.  I'll reassess every  6 months or every 20 pounds lost, whichever comes first, to see if any changes need to be made. 

Doing Pretty Well 

I've been doing pretty well on this new plan so far, it allows enough calories that I can have the occasional bowl of ice cream or cookie without feeling like I've blown it.  I'm not going hungry at all, I feel like I've been eating an awfully lot really.  Its not time for my weekly weigh-in yet, but I can tell you that I can tell I've lost some weight.  I'll know how much when I weigh in on Sunday or Monday.  I'm going to let myself choose which of the two days based on what's convenient.  Sometimes Sunday mornings are so rushed I won't have time to weigh in, other times, (when I plan better), I have plenty of time.  So I'll try to weigh in on Sundays and blog about it on Monday's, but I'll cut myself slack if on occasion I don't weigh in until Monday.

How much was I eating before?

Now, as I said, I know I've lost weight, and even now I feel like I'm eating a lot.  What is strange to me is that in order to stay at my starting weight the calculators all say I would need to eat over 2600 calories a day.  If I feel like I'm eating a lot now, how could I possibly have been eating over 2600 calories a day and NOT feeling like I was going to explode?!  I'm sure the answer probably lies in WHAT I was eating, but it still doesn't seem like I was consuming THAT much.

So now I'm done checking in.  Let me know your thoughts!  :)

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Beginning Again

Forgetting those things which are Behind

I'm starting completely over. Those who have read this blog in the past will see that all except for one post has been removed.  The record of my weight loss and exercise challenges has been removed.  The reason for that is that my weight has reached a new high, and as I thought back over my past efforts its occurred to me that none of it matters. I am where I am right now and right now is where I need to start from.

The only way that the past weight loss efforts are relevant at all is in how it has affected my metabolism.  I am fairly certain my metabolic rate has been slowed, the recent studies done on the former Biggest Loser contestants provide undeniable evidence to what many have said all along, that people who have been severely overweight and have lost weight are not only fighting their habits, their bodies are actually working against them.  If they eat the exact same amount, and do the exact same amount of exercise as another person who is their exact size but has never been overweight before, the formerly obese person will gain while the the never obese person will maintain.  In order to maintain the formerly obese person has to eat LESS than the person who has never been obese.

So its not just habit, its not just a stretched out stomach that makes the person hungry for more, its not just a lack of self control, its not just that the person already has extra fat cells that are simply sitting there like empty containers waiting to be easily filled.  Its all of these things, but its also that their calorie burning "machine" is broken.  When all else is equal, size, muscle mass, gender, activity level and calorie intake are all the same, the formerly obese individual will still gain while the never obese person will not, because they are burning fewer calories not matter what they do.  For the Biggest Loser contestants they are on average burning 500 calories less than they would have if they had never needed to lose weight.  That means that in order to stay exactly the same weight, they have to do what another person would do in order to lose one pound a week.

Now, I don't think that everyone who has dieted is as bad off as the Biggest Loser contestants, I mean, they took a very extreme route to weight loss, and therefore probably damaged their metabolisms far worse than the average dieter.  But still, chances are that a person who has been obese will find themselves burning fewer calories than the average person if they ever manage to achieve a normal weight.

Pressing on Ahead

Being aware of these difficulties is simply taking stock of where I am now, so I can decide how to proceed from here. One thing I do know is that any past effort at losing weight quickly has backfired.  It hasn't worked.  If it has I wouldn't be writing this post the day after weighing it at 287.5 pounds, 3 1/2 pounds heavier than my old "highest weight".  I don't know how much damage has been done to my metabolism, or if it is realistic to hope that I'll ever get down to my "ideal weight".  What I do know is that I can't do nothing.  Doing nothing results in me approaching the 300 pound mark faster and faster.

So I have to press on and move forward.

A NEW approach

I've decided on a new approach. A slower approach, an approach that aims to protect whatever is left of my metabolism as much as possible.  The new approach won't be focused as much by the number on the scale as on getting healthier and being active.

Right now I am starting to once again experience some of the physical problems that prompted me, years ago, to start trying to lose weight.  My feet hurt a lot.  I get out of breath too easily.  Sometimes I have trouble breathing at night if I'm not in the correct position.  Sometimes I have chest pain.  I am retaining water.  All of this is still not as bad as it was when I first started trying to lose weight years ago, but it is bad enough.  So my new approach is aimed at a new goal.

The New Goal

The new goal isn't so much a specific number on the scale.  Yes, I do have a number in mind that will help inform my actions, but whether I actually get to that number isn't the point.  The goal is to reach a place where I can be comfortable, can do the things I want to do without my weight hindering me, and can maintain with the focus of my entire life being diet and exercise.

See, one thing I do know from past efforts is that I reached a point where, in order to continue progressing, I had to pretty much be obsessed, exercising 2+ hours a day, six or seven days a week, and meticulously weighing and measuring every single thing that passed my lips.  That works short term, but who wants to do that for the rest of their life?

What I need now is a plan to lose some weight and improve my health, a plan to get to a weight that gets rid of the foot pain, shortness of breath, and other problems, but that is realistic considering my age, metabolism, and life in general.  Something that is realistic to look at continuing for the rest of my life, not just until I've reached a certain number on the scale.

The road map to a healthier me.

So the plan, the road map if you will, for now is this.

I am going to set a calorie level that takes into account my current BMR and the weight I ultimately would like to maintain at.

According to this online calculator, someone of my current age, gender, height, and weight has a Basal Metabolic Rate of 1951 calories per day.  That means, according to this calculator, I need about that many calories to maintain this weight even if all I do is sleep all day.  Well, as I said before my metabolism may not be functioning as well as it should, so that number may be off, but for now it is what I have to go off of.  The same calculator also tells me that if I'm lightly active and want to lose one pound a week, I would require 2,182 calories a day.

Now, if I could honestly pick a weight I want to maintain at for the rest of my life, I would pick around 150 pounds, I also feel that I can realistically plan to be lightly to moderately active long term.  I mean yes, I could probably make myself be very active if I forced myself, but I don't know if I realistically could continue forcing myself for the rest of my life.  So, since I am looking at what I could feasibly maintain long term, I think a light to moderate activity level is realistic.  According to that same online calculator, someone my age, gender, and height who weights 150 pounds and is lightly active would need to eat 1,825 to maintain that 150 pounds.

So, I am trying to protect my metabolism first and foremost, and to do that I should not eat less than my current BMR of 1951.  My ultimate goal weight would have a maintenance calorie level of  about 1825.  So for now I am going to set my calorie goal 1951, but as my weight lowers, so will my BMR.  I will weigh myself weekly and adjust my calorie goal to match my BMR, until I get to the point where I am eating 1825 calories a day, and at that level I will stay.

In other words, I am working towards getting on my goal weight's maintenance level of calories without ever eating less than my BMR, and once I get to that goal weight's maintenance level of calories, regardless of what the number on the scale is, I will set my calories at that level.

I may slowly get down to that goal weight, or I might plateau and not lose more 20, 30, or even 40 pounds above that goal, but either way I'll be healthier, and will be eating at a calorie level that I can continue from that point on.  Now, if I plateau for a long time but still haven't gotten under 200 pounds, I might adjust the calorie level a little, or the activity level a little, but only if I've plateaued for longer than six months.

I figure if I am eating what the average person my age, gender, and height needs to maintain 150 pounds, that even if my metabolism is slower I should be able to, over time, reach somewhere under 200 and stay there. It may take a long time, because I won't be having a huge calorie deficit, (the difference between maintaining 200 pounds and maintaining 150 pounds is only 312 calories each day) I may lose as little as pound a month when I get closer to the goal, that is okay, as long as progress is being made, only if absolutely NO progress is made for 6 months straight will I lower the calorie level further than the 1825 per day.

That doesn't mean I'll force myself to eat more though, I can have less if I'm not hungry, but I won't lower my maximum limit I'm allowed unless I have very clear evidence that my metabolism needs less.

Okay, enough rambling... that's my plan I am going to move forward on.

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