I Bailed

I didn’t go to my Weight Watchers meeting this weekend. I made a lot of excuses (it was Election Day, I was already stressed, etc) and I’d taken actions to sabotage myself (stayed up till 3am the night before), even though there was a part of me that very much wanted to go. I know I’ve put on weight these last few weeks, and that bums me out. But going to the meeting, weighing in, and facing the reality is how I usually focus my weight loss efforts.

It’s Monday morning, now, and I’m making another effort to get back on track. I made a soup last night, and I’ll make another one today. I had a healthy breakfast, and I’ve tracked it. I’ve asked my family to help me. I’m hoping that, if not this week, I start my morning walks again next week.

The family health issue we’ve been dealing with is ongoing. My son is on the mend, but his progress is slow and uneven. We’re preparing for the likelihood that this is going to be a hard week, while also trying to be optimistic, and trying to provide support for each other.

I’m disappointed in myself for allowing this to derail my progress, but I know it won’t help to keep beating myself up about it. I need to let that go and get back to the work. I feel guilty for selfishly thinking of myself when my focus and efforts need to be on my son, but also remember that to help him, I also have to help myself.

I know that I’m not doing very well right now, but I’m not giving up.

I’m Still Here

I haven’t (yet again) abandoned this blog, I promise. I haven’t posted any updates because I haven’t been to a meeting in the last couple of weeks. Due to some pretty intense health issues in the family, my weight loss hasn’t really been a priority. But I haven’t given up. Barring any (more) unforseen events, I’ll be going to my meeting and weighing in on Saturday.

The last few weeks have been hard, both physically and emotionally. There’s been a lot going on, and my commitment to eating more healthily has been a little up and down. I’m trying to get back on track, but it’s hard because my mind is not at all in the right place. But I’m hanging in. I’ll get there.

Weigh-In #27

Not a good week–I didn’t walk, I didn’t track, I didn’t stay focused, and I had a couple of bouts of emotional eating–but I still managed to lose 0.8 kg (1.76 lb) for the week, weighing in at 167.0 kg (368.3 lb). It’s worrying how easily I can slip off track, but at the same time, I feel like even when I do, I can catch myself before I go completely off the rails. Part of that is due to recognizing what is happening WHEN it’s happening, and immediately trying (even if not entirely successfully) to mitigate the damage. I let myself get upset about US politics (I’m an American citizen trying to ensure that my vote is counted), and that led to some emotional eating that took me two days to get under control. But I’m happy that, even if it took a while, I got there, and went to meeting to acknowledge it and move on.

I’m still on track to hit my mini-goal before the end of the month. Not quite halfway through the month, and I’ve got 2.4 kg (5.3 lb) to go. I can do that.

Weigh-In #26

I had a really good week–I walked every day and tracked my meals pretty well-and weighed in at 167.8 kg (369.9 lb), for a weekly loss of 2.7 kg (5.9 lb). I’m very happy with that, and it puts me on track to reach my mini-goal of 164.6 kg (362.8 lb) before the end of the month. That will be my lowest weight since re-joining Weight Watchers in 2017. I weighed 164.7 kg (363.1 lb) on 5 March 2018), and then haven’t really come close since then. I’d dropped to 169.9 kg (374.5 lb) this past March, just before the lockdown stopped in-person meetings and weigh-ins. So when I do this, it’s going to be a real accomplishment, and I’m going to do my best to feel it and celebrate it.

Weigh-In Day #25

A good weigh-in this week, tipping the scales at 170.5 kg (376 lb), down 2.1 kg (4.6 lb) from last week. That’s 17.8 kg (39.2 lbs) since I started going to WW meetings again after the COVID lockdown that had us all Zooming, and 21.8 kg (46.3 lb) since I rejoined WW in 2017. So I’m happy about that, but I’m also feeling a bit anxious, because I’ve been going along pretty good for ten weeks now, and I’m starting to worry that I’m going to let myself get knocked off track in the next month or so. I’m hoping that, by being aware of the possibility, I’ll be more capable of stopping it from happening. I’ve got more tools in my toolbox this time around. I’ve got some contingency plans, because I’ve been here before.

The lowest weight I’ve recorded since June 2017 is 164.7 kg (363 lb) on 5 March 2018. If I can keep up my average weight loss from the last ten weeks, I can get under 164.7 kg before the end of October. That’s my goal. If I can stay on track, I can do this.

The loss this week is mainly due to being reasonably careful about what I ate. I didn’t plan out every meal in advance, but I’ve been keeping busy to reduce the urge to snack, and I’ve mostly been eating healthy meals. And tracking them so that I know how I’m doing on any given day. I’ve tried (and mostly succeeded) in staying in a focused and positive mood, which is probably the most important thing of all. And I’ve been walking every day, including a couple of big walks. Today, for example, I got up early and went for a big 7 km (4.3 mi) walk along the river. Sometimes it wasn’t much more than a leisurely stroll, but some of it was legit one-foot-in-front-of-the-other pavement pounding. And it was a gorgeous morning in Brisbane, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I’ve done three of these walks along the river in the last month, and I’m glad that they’re getting easier, so that I’m enjoying them more. Yet again I didn’t think of taking pictures until near the end of the walk, but I got a few of the river:

Overall, I’m pretty damned happy with the way I handled the week. I know the coming weeks are going to be more challenging, and I’m going to try hard to meet them.

Cooking Experiments

I tried a couple of new recipes over the last couple of days. Like, actually cooked ’em, which is a pretty big step for me. Much like I’ve become more of a book collector than a book reader, I’m also more of a recipe, um, enthusiast, than I am a cooker of new recipes. And the thing is, it’s not that I don’t like trying new foods, or new versions of familiar dishes or whatever. It’s just that trying to cook unfamiliar recipes stresses me out. And more often than not, I’m not that impressed with the result. But as part of my new effort to get back on (and more importantly, stay on) track, I decided to try some new things with the understanding that it would likely take multiple attempts to get them right. Which has turned out to be the case.

I’ve got to get with the program and remember to take photos. I didn’t, so y’all are just going to have to take my word that I actually made these things. Doh!

Anyway, the two new things I’ve tried are a lentil flatbread and a sugar-free sweet chilli sauce. In both cases, the first attempts were complete failures. The lentil flatbread is simple. You soak the lentils in water for a few hours, throw them in a blender, then cook them like pancakes. I screwed it up by rinsing the lentils before I soaked them, which changed the amount of water they absorbed, so I ended up with a too-thin mixture (my son called it “lentil milk”) that I didn’t even bother trying to cook.

The second and third attempts have been better, although I haven’t completely got the cooking part down. Essentially, I’m trying to figure out how to make two different styles–a smaller, thicker one that can work as a substitute for a piece of bread, and a larger, thinner one that works as a wrap. So far the tricky part for me has been figuring out how and when to flip the larger ones so that they don’t tear. My best result so far is a 50% success rate, although some of the “failures” are still perfectly edible. And one of my successes was used to make a dee-licious wrap for my lunch, so that was a big win.

The recipe is quite simple.

  1. Soak 1 cup of red lentils in 2 cups of water for 3 hours.
  2. Pour mixture into blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour mixture into a hot nonstick pan, gently tilting pan to spread it around to the desired size.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip, and cook for another 2 minutes before removing to a plate.

Edit: Okay, I made more and remembered to take a few pictures. First I put the lentils in water to soak for a few hours, then whizzed it up in a blender, cooked them for about 2 1/2 minutes on one side, and 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on the other. I got a half a dozen flatbreads out of that cup of lentils, including the last extra-large one that I used to make a delicious chicken & salad wrap.

And the second new dish was the sweet chilli sauce. This is not something I tend to eat a lot of, but I saw a YouTube video for salmon cakes, and I thought it might be smart to replace the sweet chilli sauce topping with a lower-calorie version, and there was (of course) a YouTube video for that, too.

That recipe isn’t quite as simple as the lentil bread, but it’s not too complicated.

  1. Mix together 1 teaspoon each of chilli paste, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon each of fish sauce and white vinegar.
  3. In a separate small bowl, mix 3 teaspoons of arrowroot (tapioca flour) with 3 teaspoons of water.
  4. In a small saucepan, add a half cup of granulated sweetener to 1 cup of water, bring to a simmer.
  5. Add chilli mixture to the saucepan and stir.
  6. Add arrowroot mixture and stir until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Turn off heat, cover with a tea towel and allow to cool for an hour.
  8. Transfer to a clear storage container and refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

So sure, I think both of these can be handy additions to my diet. If I can get those flatbreads worked out, I can see myself using them a lot. I’m not quite as sure about the sweet chilli sauce, but I might change my mind after I actually, you know, eat some of it. The sweet part is that both are 0 points, and while I don’t think the chilli sauce is offering a lot of nutritional value, the lentil breads are full of protein and just, like, the epitome of healthy food.

Anyway, I’m going to publish this post now, but I’m going to try to remember to come back to it and add in some links to the YouTube videos and also some pictures of what I’m cooking.

Weigh-in Day #24

The Internet tells me that it’s exactly 200 days since my last blog post, so once again it’s clear that my posting regularity is improving all the time. 466, then 243, and now just 200 days between posts. Ten posts in two-and-a-half years, so I’m totally crushing this blogging thing!

My weight, as of this past Saturday, is 172.6 kg (380.5 lb), so I’m up 2.7 kg (5.9 lb) since my last post. My weight has fluctuated between 188.3 kg (415.1 lb) and 171.8 kg (378.7 lb), but I haven’t gotten back below 170 kg (374.8 lb) at any point. I plan to get there in the next week or two. Even though I haven’t been blogging, I have been going to meetings and putting in effort and losing fairly regularly for the last two-and-a-half months. COVID shut the meetings down the week after my last post, and I tried the Zoom meetings, but didn’t really find them very helpful. I slowly fell into bad habits again, eating a lot of really unhealthy snacks and barely moving. That went on, getting steadily worse, for nearly four months when my family staged a sort of intervention.

I promised to make a serious, sustained effort and they promised to support me and help however they could. The boys have taken over the family cooking, so I only have to cook meals for myself now. If their dinner menu is too tempting, I stay away until they’ve finished, then cook my meal afterwards. And for the most part, they’ve gotten all their junk food out of the house. Or at least they hide it and eat it when I’m not around. And occasionally they go out for meals and I stay home. All of which is helping. I’ve lost 16.5 kg (36.4) in 8 weeks, although last week I did a bit of back-sliding and gained 0.8 kg (1.8 lb), so I’ve been making an extra effort this week to get back on track.

Weigh-In Day #23

A good weigh-in this morning after a pretty good week. I’m 169.9 kg (374.5 lb) today, down 1.5 kg (3.3 lb) from last week. So that’s 16 kg (35.3 lb) lost since I got serious again 5 weeks ago. The big change I made this week was adding pasta back into my diet. Wholemeal pasta doesn’t cost me any points, so I tried a couple of new recipes. And also more meat. Still mainly chicken, a little fish, and for a couple of the pasta dishes, I tried a mixture of ground chicken breast (also zero points) and extra lean ground pork. The pork costs a few points, but it adds a little more flavour and texture to the ground chicken that I like. I’m going to experiment with some ground turkey, too. I ate it a lot back in the states, but it’s not as popular here in Australia, and I rarely buy it.

In terms of activity, I did really well this week. 71,000+ steps and the week’s not over yet. I’ve been quite active every day except for Sunday, and I’m averaging just under 12,000 steps a day. Another activity stat I’ve been keeping my eye on this week is “hourly activity”–Fitbit tells me if I’ve been sitting on my ass for the hour, and if I haven’t gotten up and taken at least 250 steps, it gives me a little alert. It tracks this from 7 am through to 7 pm, and so far this week, I’ve been active all 12 hours of the day every day except Monday, when apparently I worked at my desk between 8 and 10 am without budging. Fitbit also records my longest stationary period of the day, and since Monday, my average has been 66 minutes. And my shortest was 52 minutes, between 6 and 7 am before I got the kids up on Tuesday. After that, I went pretty hard all day. And that’s been the general pattern of my week. Getting lots done, falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Looking at the items ticked off my to do list and knowing I should feel productive, and yet feeling that everything takes too long and that I should be getting more done. I’m going to keep working on cutting myself a bit of slack and focusing on the positive.

Which gets to my attitude and mindset this week, which has felt a bit flat. The good part is that I still feel strongly motivated to continue my efforts towards better health. Enthusiastic might be taking it a bit too far, but I’m (mostly) enjoying the food, and feeling better about the activity. It’s nice to go to the weekly meeting and feel supported, but overall I have underlying feelings of frustration. Not with my weight loss, but more in terms with my overall productivity and daily life. I’ve still got a bit of a backlog of things I’ve been meaning to get done, and if I get to them this week, then I’m going to have more time available, and I really want to come up with a realistic, workable plan that will help me balance having some fun and getting some new projects started (or expanded).

But apart from all that, I’m really going to try to focus on what’s working. Three weeks I set myself a goal to get below 170 kg. Today, I accomplished that goal after three weeks of sustained effort. That’s cool. In those three weeks, I’ve been meditating regularly, I’ve been stretching most days, and I’ve increased the days I’ve got for a walk from 3 to 4, and then to 6. I’ve taken a bit of time each day to read, to listen to music, and sometimes even watch a bit of television (The Walking Dead and Star Trek Picard are my shows of the moment). I’ve fixed things that were broken, bought things that had gone unbought, prepared the family for the Coronapocalypse, and generally got shit done. And that’s cool, too.

Weigh-in Day #22

When I weighed in at my Saturday meeting, I hit the scales at 171.5 kg (377.9 lb), for a weekly loss of 4.3 kg (9.5 lb). As happy as I am with that BIG loss, I’m just as happy that it’s a loss for the fourth week in a row. Because I know that’s going to be the key to success. The big losses are great (and I really need them right now, because I can already feel a difference in my energy levels, stamina, daily pain levels, etc. I’ve lost 14.5 kg (32 lb) in the last 4 weeks, and it’s taken some of the pressure off my body (and, if I’m honest, my mind, too). But the big losses can’t last much longer. I’m doing it by severely restricting my calories–down to 500 to 800 a day, eating lean meats and vegetables. Now I’m slowly adding more variety and increasing the calories. Yesterday I ate breakfast for lunch–2 fried eggs, breakfast sausage, and hashbrowns, and it felt extremely indulgent. And it was. Nearly 600 calories. Which I followed with a delicious pasta bake for dinner, with another 700 calories.

So 1300 calories for the day, eating (relatively) large servings of tasty, nutritious foods, and even though it felt like a huge treat, it was reasonably low in calories (and even lower in WW points). And that’s probably what I’m going to be aiming for, at least over the next couple of weeks. Coupled with more movement, I should keep losing weight, even if the numbers aren’t as big as the last few weeks. And while I haven’t received my weekly report from Fitbit yet, I know I’ve been moving more. I did over 10,000 steps every day from Tuesday through Saturday, including a big 16,000+ steps on Saturday when a quick trip into the city turned into a 4 km+ stroll through the City Botanic Gardens and the South Bank Parkland. Which was really great, but also exhausting. Worth it, though. I need to keep at it until 5k walks are no big deal.

This new local meeting that I’ve been going to this year is helping more than I thought. The leader or coach or host or whatever they call them now is really enthusiastic in a way that might otherwise be annoying but that I’m embracing and really finding helpful right now. And some of the other women in the group are really friendly, supporting, and encouraging. It’s really nice, and I’m going to work harder to return the favor. Definitely not one of my strong points, but something I need to work on. At the meeting, I received a key ring and a little charm to celebrate losing 20 kg. I’ve hit that 20 kg milestone three times since joining Weight Watchers in back in 2017, and this is the first time I’ve gotten a prize for it. The recognition and encouragement, if not the trinket, was nice. I’m trying to learn how to be more generous to myself and pat myself on the back a little, and to feel worthy when I get it from others. I really need to work on that.

My goals this week are to reintroduce more variety (and more calories) to my diet, to keep up the increased activity (I did 4 morning walks last week–not at 5 am, but before noon, so they still count), and to keep a positive attitude. That last one is so important, even if I tend to talk about it the least. I’ve been using a mood tracker app (Daylio) for the last six months, and it’s been amazingly helpful. I’ve been much more consistent with it than with my habit tracker app (HabitShare), but I’m going to try to work out how to make the habit tracking more useful, and a regular part of my routine.

Weigh-in Day #21

This morning I weighed in at 175.5 kg (387 lb), down 2.9 kg (6.4 lb) for the week. That’s the result of tracking all my meals, eating a lot of zero-point foods (mostly veggies and chicken, and a bit of fish (canned tuna). And from moving more. I’m still not back to doing a regular morning walk (even though I’m getting up at 5 am most mornings), but I am making more of an effort to go out for short walks. Last week I said that I was going to increase my daily steps by planning some activities. I managed 3 out of 5 of the activities, so there’s some room for improvement there, but on the other hand, I can just transfer them to this week and it’s all good. I also said that I wanted to get my average steps up over 5000, and I did that with plenty to spare–8241 steps per day. Back in June, I was averaging nearly 9500, but that was when I was getting out for my early morning walks 5 days a week.

My Weight Watchers app tells me that this is my lowest weight since December, 2018. That’s a good feeling. Physically, I feel better because my clothes fit better. I have a little more energy. Last month my wife and I went out. We planned to meet in the city after she finished work, catch a show (Hannah Gadsby), then ride home together in her car. After a nice night, we hopped in the car, and discovered that the seat belt in her car wouldn’t fit around me. So I ended up catching the bus back home. It was pretty humiliating. We didn’t make a big deal about it, but that’s not a very nice way to end a date night. This Thursday, we tried again (sneak preview of The Invisible Man), and this time, I got the damned thing clicked, and we came home together. 🙂

These are some of the little wins. Because it’s not all about the numbers. It’s about what the numbers mean. The changes they represent. The ability to focus and maintain a more positive mindset. Feeling a little more comfortable on the bus, in a crowded cafe, or a theater seat. Walking to the top of the hill without having to stop to catch my breath. Riding home with my wife after a nice night out. This is what we talked about at our meeting this week. Non-scale victories. I know that I often have a tendency to get too focused on the numbers. It’s so easy, six months or a year later, to go back and look at them, see the trends. It’s harder to remember how good it felt with that seat belt clicked. I’m hoping that writing about it helps.