Daisey on a Diet

I keep trying to tell her that it’s a lifestyle change, not a diet.

She just thinks we’re starving her.

Not too long ago, we took our older dog (she’s not really old, just older than the other at 6-1/2 years) to the vet because we were feeling lumps on one side both in her skin and underneath it. After a biopsy, followed by a surgery, she was diagnosed with mast cell tumors. While the growth was fully excised, due to the nature of mast cell tumors, we’re going to be checking her for lumps the rest of her life to stay ahead of it. When she went back in to have her stiches out, she also had her Annual Wellness Exam (referred to as AWE, now isn’t that sweet?) in which the vet pointed out the plaque on her teeth and her thickening middle. She said Daisey needed to lose a few pounds.

Now, the reason I’m talking about both her cancer and her weight in practically the same breath, is that it really made me think about another experience from about eleven years ago. I spoke about this in one of the first posts we made on our blog: The PINK Edition. My mom’s life was saved by the weight she had lost just prior to having her mammogram. If she hadn’t lost the weight, they wouldn’t have been able to get close enough to capture the lump in the image and they wouldn’t have caught her breast cancer in the very early stage that it was in. We were lucky with Daisey. Her tumor formed in her skin, so we could feel it pretty easily and so caught it at a stage I. Mast cell tumors can form under the skin, near vital organs, though. The next one could very easily not be in her skin.

Here’s a picture of Daisey taken last night:

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As you can see, she’s not the chubbiest dog you’ve ever seen. However, to be a healthy dog, her tummy should tuck up more and while you certainly shouldn’t be able to see her ribs, you should be able to feel them when pressing in at her sides. You can’t. If I can’t feel her ribs, how am I going to be able to feel a dangerous lump in or near her belly?

We have been calling her “Chunky Monkey” for a few years now as an endearment, so obviously we had noticed, but in our eyes, it hadn’t gotten to the point of restricting her access to food until the vet said so. I was very loathe to do this. You see, for over six years, we had never had to have feeding times for our dogs (even our lab mix). They had always been so good at self-regulating. The food was always there, so they never felt they had to eat it all in case it was gone. They ate when hungry and always left plenty of food in the bowl. For the most part, this was a really healthy way for them to live. It became a habit though, and as Daisey got older, less active, lazy and letting the younger dog do all the “work” during playtime, she kept eating the same way she had when she was only two years old. Each spring less of her winter weight would melt away and it all accumulated around her middle and on her rump.

Sound familiar?

Daisey’s weight snuck up on her (and us) just like ours had done years ago. She used to bounce around between 28-32 lbs depending on if she had her winter weight on or not. This summer she clocked in at 39 lbs. On a 100lb human, that’s like gaining 30+ lbs. Over the course of a few years, it happens, and if it’s not addressed, it becomes 40, then 50, until you suddenly have to lose half your body weight to be healthy again. In a way, we’ve learned from our own mistakes. We don’t want this to get out of control for Daisey, so we’re helping her do something she really can’t do on her own.

We switched her to a healthier blend from the same brand we’ve been feeding her since she was a puppy and we’re giving her appropriate servings for her size with the aim of losing weight. Once she loses the weight, we’ll keep her on the same food, but switch to the “maintenance” serving sizes they recommend. So, even though she thinks we’re starving her, it really is lifestyle change.

It’s very simplified and there isn’t much variety (but when you’re a dog, do you really get much variety?) but it’s a lot like what we’re doing in our own weight loss journey. We’re switching to healthier foods with familiar flavors. We’re eating less with an eye towards weight loss. Then we’re going to keep eating those same foods for the rest of our lives in slightly different proportions to maintain.

We were on vacation for part of last week and ended up slightly off-plan for about a week. We tried to make healthier choices, but didn’t bother tracking. I was really focused on being as active as I could for part of our vacation to offset the lack of tracking, and managed this one our first full day of the vacation:

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That’s a lot of green!

Coming back from being out of town it can be very difficult to know what to expect on the scale. The only thing you really hope for is to avoid a gain (or at least have it be a small one). Happily neither one of us gained at all:

  • Jason 0.0 stayed the same
  • Jenny -1.2

A little bit at a time, Daisey’s weight will come off. And a little bit at a time, so will ours. She isn’t magically going to be the lean little dog she was before and neither will we shed the pounds we’ve accumulated over the years overnight. It is a process, a journey, a lifelong shift in perspective and habit. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we don’t, but overall we are (all three) going in the right direction.

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10 Years and a Few Pounds Later

I won the weightloss lottery last night and was the biggest loser in our house, so that means I get to blog today. Which is fun, because today happens to be our 10th Anniversary.

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Which of course means I get to post a few pictures and fling sentimental, personal stuff all over the blog. You don’t mind, do you?

The story of how we met is a little long so I won’t retell it here. Suffice it to say that it involved the internet, a fantasy book fan site, a new religion on one side and a leap of faith on the other. My friends and family were so sick with worry that I was flying on my own to meet someone in person that I had met on the internet. Jason’s friends and family were concerned because it moved so fast and his life was changing so much while he was away at school, they worried that he was being sucked into a cult by a girl they’d never met.

Turns out nobody needed to worry at all.

Ten years later, we’re still happily married and have had so little conflict that we still act like we’ve been married for two years instead. Neither of us is perfect, but I think we’re perfect for eachother and that’s what matters.

So, enough of the schmoopy stuff and back to the weight related business.

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I was a plus-size bride. I was happy, excited, a little self-conscious, but Jason adored me, so I didn’t think about it. Until I had to think about it. At the time we belonged to a fan website community, where we had met in the chat room, but shared a lot on the message boards. Since we were a “wotmania couple” there were a lot of people who were thrilled and excited that we were getting married. Some even flew in from out of state to attend and we had a wotmania table where they all had a great time. Not everyone in that community was supportive though.

I suppose trolls existed ten years ago too.

I didn’t think of my self as a fat bride. I knew that I would like to be smaller, but I still felt special and beautiful. We posted the above picture to the community message board and while the majority of the replies were congratulatory and full of support, there is only one I can remember and it wasn’t addressed to me. “So Lord Psynister likes big girls…”

I was crushed. Suddenly all of my confidence was thrown out and I couldn’t stop looking at pictures from the happiest day of my life without seeing a “big girl”. I don’t know why or how, but up until then, I had pretty much avoided major body issues. I would look in the mirror and see me. I would see my best features. I would feel smaller than I was. This was supported by having a man in my life who looked at me the same way. All he saw were my best features and his “little lady” (I did marry a Texan afterall).

The cruelty of that one comment completely undid my healthier body image. I think this was the start of my downward (and upward on the scale) spiral. Two years later, in the same breath that my doctor diagnosed me with PCOS he told me I could have only gained the weight I did if I was gorging myself, which I wasn’t. I felt defeated, defective and like a whale.

The reason that I’m going into this dark place in my history is so that you know where I’m coming from when I tell you about where I am now and how I feel. I’ve discovered in the last ten years that it really is more difficult for me to lose weight than not only men, but most other women too. I’ve had to teach myself to recognize accomplishment and celebrate it. I’ve had to relearn the ability to look in the mirror and see my best features instead of the flaws.

So when I tell you that I lost 3 pounds this week and that Jason lost 2 pounds, you know I mean it when I tell you that I am proud of both of us. I’ve lost 21 pounds in nearly three months (next week will be officially 3 months back on plan) and Jason has lost 27 pounds. Together that’s 48 pounds and I couldn’t be more thrilled with our progress.

I may not be back to the size I was at our wedding, but I’m so  much closer than I was three years ago. He’ll deny it, but I think Jason is smaller than he was at the wedding now, having lost almost 70 pounds from his highest weight. His wedding ring has been slipping off his finger! I know where I’ve been, I know where I am and I know where I’m going. The best part is, I got my confidence back.

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All I see when I look back at our wedding pictures is a happy bride and her husband.

Summertime… and the Losing is Easy

Summertime can be tough. What with holidays, cookouts, vacations, birthdays, anniversaries and a plethora of other social activities there are a lot of potential excuses to not stick to your plan even if you’ve already made one. And if you haven’t made a plan? Oh, let’s not even go there.

I can definitely tell that our pre-planning and pre-tracking is helping us stay focused on our goals.  There have been plenty of temptations during the last week to go off plan for a day or two. We normally have our weigh-in on Thursdays, so with the recent holiday, our meeting was of course cancelled. That weekly check-in really helps us stay on track and motivated. I always do better when I know that I’m going the right direction and especially if I know it shows on the scale.

Several days ahead of the holiday, I started making our plan. We had a flag raising ceremony and breakfast at the church on the morning of the 4th that we needed to decide if we were going to. We checked with Jason’s family, to see if they had anything planned. They didn’t at the time (but do have a history of last-minute plans) and my family was away on vacation, so we let them know we were going to do our own thing. We figured we could afford one social meal that day, but not two, and opted for the breakfast since we knew for sure it was happening and could have a general idea what would be served so that we could plan.

The rest of the day, we had our own version of a cookout. When we grill, we eat pretty light on points because we love grilled veggies and fruit. This was a very good thing since I spent about 1/3 of my points on breakfast, which is a higher than normal percentage. For lunch, we had BBQ pork chops, grilled pineapple and grilled broccoli. For dinner, we had grilled chicken (marinated in Italian dressing), grilled corn on the cob and I squeezed in enough points for a serving of potato salad. I think we did pretty well staying with the feel of the holiday without all the overindulgence it usually leads to.

There was one thing that was missing from my holiday and when I was back at work the next day and saw a recipe online, my summer s’more craving hit HARD. I don’t know what it is about the summer, but even though we don’t go camping, I crave s’mores. A lot. For one thing, I adore chocolate and I feel like you can never go wrong with marshmallows. So, I went digging for a s’more recipe I could fit into my plan. A lot of them were higher points than I wanted to spend or didn’t sound especially appealing. A normal s’more, with one marshmallow, one graham cracker broken in two and three small sections of the chocolate bar is 6pp. Yummy, yes. Worth it? Maybe not.

Finally we found one we wanted to try: S’more Cups (originally a Pampered Chef recipe, but shared on the Weight Watchers community recipe board) for 3pp each.

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Ingredients

7 oz graham cracker(s), finely crushed
1/4 cup(s) powdered sugar
6 Tbsp regular butter, melted
12 item(s) marshmallow(s)
4 bar Hersheys Milk Chocolate, divided into bits

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Finely crush into crumbs with rolling pin or other utensil.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in Small Bowl.
  4. Using a Small Scoop, place scant scoop of crumb mixture in each cup of Mini-Muffin Pan. Press crumbs to form shallow cups.
  5. Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling.
  6. Meanwhile, break two of the candy bars into rectangles. Remove mini-muffin pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.
  7. Cut marshmallows in half crosswise. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each graham cracker cup. Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are just slightly softened.
  8. Remove from oven to Cooling Rack; cool 15 minutes.
  9. Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.
  10. Break remaining candy bars and place in microwave safe bowl.
  11. Microwave on HIGH 1-1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. Dip the top of each marshmallow in melted chocolate.
  12. Turn top-side up and let stand 40 minutes-1 hour or until set. Yield: 24 servings

The only thing we might do differently next time is to use the pre-broken crumbs you can get in the bakery aisle. Since the recipe calls for ounces instead of a number of crackers it should be easy to swap.

Oh, and next time, we’re also making a half batch. These are too good to keep 24 sitting around the house, so we had to bring them into work to share with co-workers today.

So far, my summer looks slim-tastic. How is yours?

The Best Laid Plans…

… don’t always have to fail.

Jason and I have been really good about making and sticking to our meal plans, even when it came to figuring out what we would eat over this last busy weekend. I had my annual mother-daughter shopping day for my mom’s birthday and Jason had a funeral he needed to attend (and subsequent luncheon). And we totally rocked Saturday.

Then Jason called me while I was enjoying my chocolate covered strawberries that I had already tracked.

He and his brothers decided to plan a barbeque at their parent’s house for Father’s Day during lunchtime. Ribs. Brisket. Potato salad. None of this was in the plan. None of this even could be in the plan for me. There was just no way I could eat ribs and brisket and be able to eat anything else the rest of the day without going over my daily points and blowing past my weeklies. At first I was pretty upset. How could Jason agree to this kind of menu when he knew we had to stay on plan? Then I remembered that he has quite a few more daily points than I do (being younger & a man) so ribs and brisket weren’t out of the question for him.

I realized that it was up to me to find a way to make it work for me.

That’s when I tackled making my plan work with the new wrench that had been thrown in it. I moved my lower point meal to be for dinner (super low because it’s only lean protein, fruit & veggies), told Jason that we needed to bring the chicken we had planned for pasta to throw on the grill instead. We also took stock of the fruit we had in the house and decided to throw together a fruit salad (plain fruit, no sauce or cream) so that I could have a 0 point side.

I had a plan again and the panic was gone.

It ended up being perfect. I was able to enjoy the meal with family and keep control of my meal and food. I had one large boneless skinless chicken breast, just enough BBQ sauce to marinade & baste while cooking, 1/2 cup of potato salad, 2 cups of mixed fruit (watermelon, hami melon, strawberries as well as both green & black grapes) and half a slice of lemon meringue pie.

Would it have been easier to just blow the day and eat what everyone else was having? Yeah.

But you know what? A little extra planning and prep made it work and I didn’t have to allow an unexpected event the chance to break my progress.

Bonus: Other people got to enjoy the chicken and fruit that we added to the menu. In fact, out of that big bowl full of fruit, there was nothing left to bring back home.

No, the best laid plans sometimes need to change, but they certainly don’t have to fail.

So I Gained… Again

I am so failing at this.

I’m really frustrated that even when I think I’ve had a pretty good week, I step on the scale and it doesn’t show. In fact, it’s not even that I don’t have a loss, it’s that I gain. I’m struggling to lose the weight I’ve gained after the holidays, let alone lose what I had gained during them.

I know that part of it is that I’m not 100% on plan. I don’t always track everything. I have small indulgences. I certainly know that there are ways that I can increase my effort to get better results, but it still feels like I’m having to work extra hard to accomplish anything.

My issue is that while I’m struggling, Jason seems to at least be doing ok. It didn’t used to be this way. I know that men in general lose weight faster than women, but I used to have a 20 pound lead on him because I was totally kicking butt on this weight loss thing. Do you know what that lead has narrowed to? 0.2 pounds. That’s right, over the course of just a few months, I’ve gained enough (when he’s stayed close to the same) that he’s about to surpass my weightloss.

  • Jason: -1 (-47.8 total)
  • Jenny: +1 (-48 total)

I know this isn’t a competition, but the numbers still deflate me. I’m so mad that I have to work so much harder to see results  in the last few months than I did for over a year before. Something has changed. Something is not right. It’s pissing me off.

And it’s making me horribly depressed.

We all know what depression does for weightloss, right? The reasonable part of me knows that I don’t really want to quit. The rebellious part of me says if I’m going to gain weight anyway, I may as well enjoy the food. It’s getting harder and harder to fight that rebellious side.

There’s nothing I can do, but fight it. So, I’m tracking. I might be the worst person in the world to live with while I force myself to stay on plan to avoid more gains, even if the losses are tiny, but it’s all I can do.

I have some suspicions of what might have changed that has suddenly made it so much harder for me to lose weight. As I mentioned in my introductory post a year and half ago (it’s also mentioned in my About Jenny page), I have PCOS. Something that’s pretty typical for women with PCOS is that it’s ridiculously easy to gain weight and even harder to lose it. It has a lot to do with hormonal imbalances that are usually treated by being on birth control. Most normal women will put on a little weight when they go on birth control. Women with PCOS have a tendency to do the opposite because the estrogen helps balance out the hormones to create a closer to normal level.

I stopped taking birth control pills around Thanksgiving. There are a lot of reasons why I was resistant to going on birth control to begin with, namely that Jason and I would at least like to have a possibility of getting pregnant. Even without that, I have strong concerns about birth control being linked to certain types of breast cancer. Since I have family on both sides that have had breast cancer, I want to limit my risk as much as possible. I know that most doctors say there is no link, but I don’t believe it, and I can’t get it out of my head every time I take one of those little pills, that I might be increasing my risk. Science or psychology, I don’t feel comfortable doing it.

My doctor was fine, and in fact in favor, of my going off of birth control. She wanted to see if it’s what I would need to normalize. Reset to zero, I guess.  I don’t know if it’s working, especially with my stalled out weight loss, but I know I don’t want to go back on birth control (see aforementioned paranoia). I have an appointment with my doctor next week, and I’m hoping I can talk to her about pursuing other options to get me back on track losing weight without going the hormone route. We’ll see if she has any ideas.

In the meantime, all I can do is either give up, or keep plugging away. And you all know my answer to that:

Back to tracking and hoping for the best (or at least the ok).

Holiday Hiatus – Take 2

I’ll admit at the outset that I’m being very over-confident in this.

Jason and I were fairly strict with ourselves during the holidays last year and we managed to do very well. We even lost some weight, instead of maintaining or gaining.

This year, I feel like we have a little room to enjoy the holidays a bit more. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to eat ALL THE BAD THINGS. But it does mean that I’m not going to stress about measuring and counting and all the other things that have treated us so well in this journey. They’re good tools and I know they’ll help us lose back whatever we (might) gain between now and New Year’s.

But there it is. After both showing gains on the scale this week and it not bothering either of us, we’ve decided on a break for the holidays to live life and enjoy all the little goodies that make them special.

Like cookie exchanges with friends. 🙂