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Deborah: I'm a published author of the Kate Carpenter Mysteries. I write, and I teach workshops and classes. I have lost 140 pounds! Arlene: I'm a PhD psychologist, working with chronic pain patients. I have lost 40 pounds. Kelly: I'm a registered dietitian who works hard to maintain my weight and fitness level with healthy diet and lots of exercise.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why I Do It.

Deborah says: It’s hard. Building habits that is. So hard. Every time you go to do something, you have to stop and think. Is that my intention? Do I really want to eat that? Do I really want to skip the gym? Do I really want to work this hard? Do I really want to go insane hearing the sound of my voice ask me all these questions all the time? It’s really, really exhausting. Would be so much easier to just do it the old way – follow the old habits – no real thought process involved – brain on autopilot. So why do I keep doing it? Everything the hard way? Because here’s what I learned about habits. Habits are really pathways built in our brains. We we do something, a series of neurons fires and when we do it successfully, we get a little hit of dopamine at the end (brain heroin – what we all live for!). The longer we’ve done a specific habit or behavior, the more ingrained that pathway is, the more neurons fire when we perform the taks and the bigger the hit of dopamine at the end. That’s one of the reasons overeating feels so good in the moment, but then we are surrounded by guilt and we do it again to get that great hit for a job well done. Compared to the old habits, our new habits are a tiny, weak little series of neurons that gives us just a tiny little hit of dopamine if we manage to stay on the path. But guess what? Everything we perform this new habit successfully, the new pathway gets bigger and stronger. Conversely, if we slip back to our old habit, we are actually reinforcing and rebuilding the old pathway. So why do I have these endless discussions in my head? Why do I put myself through these challenging decision making processes? Because I want to build that new pathway as strong as I can as quickly as I can. Every time I think about slipping back, I think realize that tomorrow it’s going to be twice as hard to get back to that new neural pathway I’m building. And my hope is that the more frequently I make the right decisions, the sooner it will get easier. So all science-y and brain-y and how do we know this really works? Because when I quit smoking ten years ago, I thought about smoking every minute of every day for the first three months. Now, I think about smoking maybe twice a year. When I broke up with my boyfriend I thought about him every minute of every day for the first week. Now, it’s only a couple of times a week. I know this will work for my healthy lifestyle too. So in a way, I’m taking the easy way out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

PB2 Cookies!

Deborah says: Eat These!!! 1 cup butter 3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup white sugar (you can replace this with 3 ripe bananas but will change the flavour a bit) 2/3 cup PB2 (dehydrated peanut butter) 1/3 cup water 2 eggs or egg substitute or whites 1 tsp pure vanilla 1 tsp baking soda dash of salt 1 3/4 cup multigrain or whole wheat flour Mix butter and sugars until just like a grainy sand. Add PB2, water, eggs and vanilla and mix. Stir in flour, soda and salt. If your batter is wet, add up to 1/2 cup more flour. I use a small cookie scoop and put on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 310 for about 22 - 24 minutes. Cool and eat. My batch made about 75 cookies.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Please Stop Lying

Deborah says: I just read a blog. Someone has gained a bunch of weight back. They’re not eating the way they know they should, they’re not working out, they’re searching for motivation - nothing new there, we’ve all been there. But then they said something interesting. They said they were angry, having all these horrible feelings and they didn’t like them. I get that - feelings are hard. I’ve only recognized and embraced my feelings for a short time (3 years or so). Before that I just kind of buried them under spaghetti and potato chips. Some of them are great - happiness, joy, pride, elation. Yeah, I’ll take those feelings anytime. But then come some others, sadness, anger, fear, bitterness, sorrow, guilt - the other end of the spectrum. The trick is, those ones are as much a part of life as the happy ones are - we have to learn how to embrace them as well. I mean, I don’t like breaking up with boyfriends, but it happened this year and I spent a solid week on the couch crying (while staring longingly at the fridge to be honest). But I just cried and didn’t eat. And didn’t feel better by the way. And then the next week I only cried every other day. And in between I managed to get to the gym and produce some of those feel good hormones. And now, several months later, I still cry a little, but it’s not frequent. And I feel by going through this, embracing those hard feelings, I finished it or got closure on my feelings for him. I mourned the relationship, let it pass, and am starting to be ready for something new. Honestly, I didn’t like those feelings either but they come with love. And the other thing I did, is I learned a new habit. It’s okay to cry or work out when you feel bad, but I reinforced that eating is not a way to treat bad feelings. And that makes me proud, which is one of those feelings I quite enjoy. And I think I’m going to focus on that for the rest of the day. Remember, feelings just are. You can’t get through life without scraping a few knees. It’s the same with feelings. But if the bad ones stick around for too long, if you feel stuck, the other thing to remember is there is lots of help out there. Arlene says All feelings are created by patterns in our body/mind. All feelings can be triggered by something we see, hear, taste, touch, smell, think, experience, or remember. Memories of feelings can be pleasant … “remember that time we were all camping and …. it was so hilarious …” and we smile and feel that lightness in our chest.
But we can also remember him saying goodbye and let’s be friends and how awful that is when we remember, how our chest is heavy and our throat is tight with tears. As Deborah says, you have to work through that. Each time we bring up the memory the intensity of the emotion lessens, because we are constantly updating it, putting it in the context of today, which is more days of surviving without him perhaps. So now we realize we can (survive), and we also realize that something funny was still funny, even though he wasn’t around, and then we realize we can survive; that life still holds many wonderful things. Welcome to the marvelous world of our adaptive, recovering brain. And if you are truly stuck with tough feelings that don’t seem to be changing then I believe you aren’t changing the thinking, you aren’t updating the memory with today’s context …. and you might need some help from a professional to get that started.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Your 15 minutes ...

Deborah says: Was it Andy Warhol who said that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame? Let me tell you something - lose a whole bunch of weight and you will DEFINITELY get your 15 minutes! Holy man - everyone who ever knew you fat will be all over you - you look gorgeous, your outfits are so cute, I’m so impressed with what you’ve done. Anyone who didn’t know you will be all over you - because for the first time in your life you’re walking down the street like you own it. Nothing like a little self confidence to attract a crowd. You’ll take endless photos, buy endless clothes, your skirts will probably get shorter, your blouses may be a bit more fitted, your colours will probably be brighter. People at the gym may comment on how good you look, how hard you work out, how you motivate them. Anytime you tell someone what you’ve accomplished they’ll tell you that you’re an inspiration. And then, like everything, one day it’s old news. Everyone already knows you’ve lost weight. Even your barista. And they’ve congratulated you. So what now? Hello? What now? Are you out of your fucking mind???? I’ve lost 140 pounds. I don’t care if no one still notices or comments on the streets or says anything at my gym. I’ve lost 140 fucking pounds. I’ve lost another person. Who cares if I have more to go? What now? What now is really about not relying on external sources for your confidence or esteem. Don’t get me wrong, the day a total stranger came up to me on the street, gave me a piece of paper with his phone number on it and said “call me” was one of the best days of my life. But only by a little. This morning was pretty good too. What happened this morning? I got dressed (new jeans) and looked in the mirror, front and side views, and thought, “wow, I’m so impressed with you. You’ve gained, you’ve lost, you’ve regained bits and pieces and dealt with that. And look at you. You’re amazing.” And then I smiled and went to work. Walking like I owned the streets. Love yourself. Love what you accomplish. Love your mistakes and learn from them. And if a strange man comes up to you on the street … well give him my number!
Arlene says: Smile at the person in the mirror. Say to her/him what you say to encourage your friends. Confident people change, confident people look after themselves, and confident people recognize and honour their own needs. Far too often people confuse self-care for selfish. You must look after yourself first or there will be nothing left to share. Confident people do not blame or shame.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Give credit where credit is due!

Deborah says: Changing and maintaining your lifestyle is a challenge. But just for today, let’s focus on the good. Let’s focus on the people out there that help us out, make it easier to figure out what to eat, not leave us feeling ostracized when we go out with our friends. Here is my list of kudos with explanations. Earl’s. I enjoy this restaurant, the good service and the varied menu. I am grateful that every one of their menu items has full nutritional information online, including desserts. I applaud them for making several meals healthy choices for me. I’m really sad that they’ve removed Edamame from their menu, as that with the dynamite prawn roll, was one of my favourite dinners. Maybe if we all start a write in campaign, they’ll bring them back. Joey Tomato’s. Same as Earl’s – every menu item has complete nutritional information online. Easy to pick what you’re going to eat. I appreciate that their sizes aren’t crazy large, that their gyoza are not only tasty but a healthy choice and that there are lots of other choices, too. Milestones. Ask to see the low sodium menu. Not only is it low sodium, it’s low fat and low calorie and every bit as tasty. And how did I figure that out? Because they’re online too! Starbucks. Hot or cold, high fat or low fat, there are millions of combinations to make your drink just right for you. All info is online and their snack counter is filled up with lots of healthy options if you have the munchies. I’ve adapted my Starbucks all the way through my weight loss journey – proof you don’t have to give anything up, just adapt! Those are my top favourites – what about you? Who makes it easier for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
Arlene says: My recent experience was a very pleasant surprise at the Stampeder's ladies event, It's A Snap! It was my first experience at the event and a lot of fun. They advertised appetizers and wine and there was lots to choose from. Now I could comment on the wine being a bit of a critic, but it was likely fine considering the venue. The food choices were excellent! There were roasted vegetables, fresh veggies and dip, smaller rolls or wraps and fruit. while you could have made some not so healthy choices there was ample opportunity to Stop Lying and choose wisely. Reality is, there are an increasing number of good choices in restaurants and coffee shops now, healthier choices. But in the moment it can still be difficult to make wise decisions. what may work? Plan ahead, as Deborah said, go online and make your choices ahead or use those Implementation Intentions (see Stop Lying) and set yourself up to succeed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

What motivates you?

Deborah says: Just read an interesting blog about someone who has gained weight. This person said it was because she didn’t have any motivating factors in her life right now. Hmmm. Let’s discuss. I think this goes back to why are you losing weight. I think the truth is, to be successful you have to rethink/reframe things. It’s not really just about losing weight, it’s about changing your lifestyle. Losing weight and dieting are finite things. They have an end point. Lifestyle doesn’t really have that end. Well technically it does but I’m not ready to think about that yet! So if you are “losing weight” by training for a marathon - well that’s great and that’s good motivation for sure. But then what are you going to do the day after the marathon? Other than take Advil and ice baths? I’m changing my lifestyle. I’m working toward being that fit and active person that I admire. The one that doesn’t sit around watching TV unless it’s date night. I want to be that person that is out and doing things with everyone … or anyone … and I never want to say no because I am too big to fit somewhere or I’m too heavy for something or I can’t climb/run/walk that far. I want to be included in things. I want to hike mountains, swim oceans, see the world, carry a backpack (but stay in a Hilton please). I want to camp and be able to out-run those damned bears (or at least not be the slowest runner … otherwise know as “dinner”). And that, my friends, is a goal without end. Fitness and health are something we do every day. I need to breathe deep, make my heart race, stretch and strengthen my muscles and feed myself good fuel until the day I die. So what are my motivating factors? Like Tevye says, in Fiddler on the Roof: To Life! Arlene says: It’s the internal rewards that keep us motivated. Feeling stronger or feeling the sense of accomplishment when we can do something makes us want to do it again. External rewards can help us initiate goals, but we need to feel a difference to keep going in the long run. What we don’t do enough is savour the good feelings. We don’t pay enough attention to what leads to the good feelings and what it feels like in our body/minds. I get asked a lot, “Why is it so easy to focus on the negative?” I think one reason is practice, it becomes a habit. Considering our society’s attitude to over-weight and obese, there’s a lot of reinforcement of negative self-statements and judgments too. So remember to savour the good feelings and what you did in the moment to create them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What do you do when it's all falling apart?

Deborah says: I lost weight by doing a lot of things, becoming more active, eating differently, changing how I think, changing my behaviours – basically changing my entire lifestyle. And I have maintained and continued that weight loss through setting up some very carefully planned routines, keeping my freezer full of healthy meals and having a well developed back up plan for unexpected get-togethers and after work restaurant gatherings. Works like a charm. And then something happens, something so out of your control, and so devastating, that it throws your entire life off track. And something that – did I say it already, well it bears repeating – is out of your control. Control is my word of the day. When I’m in control, well things just work. I know what I need to do. I know what I need to eat. I know how to be active and keep busy and maintain this new lifestyle. But basically, right now, I’m living in about a ten square foot area with barely a kitchen and the only thing serviceable in my bedroom is the bed. Can’t use the elliptical, have no place to put the yoga mat and nothing to do in the evenings when I’m home but sit on the couch. This is terrifying. This is the old me, not the new me. And what happens? You gain weight. Of course, It’s no surprise, I’m depressed, I’m anxious and I’m mostly forced to live the life I lived before I started all this change. I’m sedentary. If I want to do something, I actually have to leave my house. And you can’t just leave your house all the time. Not enough things to do, friends to go around, or motivation. The only good news is that a lot of my new eating habits are really ingrained, I refuse to buy junk food, and I haven’t gained a ton of weight –but I feel it, I feel out of control and my clothes are tight. And this doesn’t help me feel better about myself or my condition right now either! So what do you do when things are falling apart? Well first you cry. And I did that for a good long time. The whole melodramatic fetal position let it out pity party. I believe you have to feel your feelings. But I also hope you have to be aware enough to know while it’s okay to mourn your losses, you have to try and pick yourself up and pull yourself through it. So what am I doing? I started by reviewing everything I know that makes me feel better. • Taking my vitamins – I know I’m low on D and I need to supplement, and I know that D (and sunshine) make me feel psychologically better. • Eating well. Crap food makes you feel better while you’re eating it – but healthy food makes you feel better for the day. Physiologically, it’s about being as strong as you can be, so that you’re able to handle the psychological healing. So I’ve kept the fruit and veggie drawers full and tried to keep my snacking to popcorn and dessert yogurt flavours. • Exercise. Seriously, all I want to do is lie on the couch. But in my heart, I know that if I can get my heart beating fast for just 20 minutes, I am actually going to feel better for the rest of the night. So when I come home after work, I force myself, literally, to the gym for 20 minutes of sweating and puffing and I grump and grumble but at about the 16 minute mark I miraculously start to feel better, a smile comes to my face, my attitude shifts to optimism and I know the happy chemicals are flooding my brain and will get me through the rest of the night. And usually, because I feel good, I’ll actually end up doing 30 minutes or even an hour, instead of just doing the 20 I promised. Win/win! • See friends. It would be so easy to sit at home and feel bad for myself, but I am working harder than ever to get out and laugh and socialize. So I have an extra ten pounds to lose. I’ve gained before when I’ve hurt my knee or when I was producing my play, but I’ve lost it and more every single time. Life is a series of events, some are great and some less so. But the trick to life is learning how to get through all of these events. Learning what it is you need to do to survive – because sometimes it’s getting through and sometimes its survival. And the other trick is to not hate yourself if you falter while you’re getting through it. You’re only human. I’m only human. I know all this, but I’ve still gained ten pounds. Some days I hate putting on my clothes and finding something that I feel good in. But I only go there for a moment. And then I focus on the fact that I’m surviving, ten pounds isn’t bad, and I’m having fish tacos and oven fries for dinner – when I could be at MacDonald’s instead. I’m doing okay.
Arlene says: Hear hear -- out of your control sucks! My story this week isn’t new, but it is new to me. I hurt myself, such a little thing such a scary result. I gained a pound for each of the first few weeks, less activity, pain and boredom and some self-pity chocolate. I start physio and my physical therapist says don’t walk too much, your gait is off. We are focusing on exercises and stretches, but not the 45 minute power walks that managed my weight. So, it got up to four pounds and then I went, STOP! Yeah, I was lying, I can’t eat those pity sweets and be honest they really help my mood. My husband and I looked at our plans (golf, golf and more golf) and took an honest look. Like Deborah I need a plan, a way to focus my energy and be productive so I don’t let boredom and fear prompt unhelpful choices. I have lost a pound this week and returned to my new recipe focus which helps as well.