The Dreaded Airplane

Airplane 4.13.13

I recently reserved my flight to go back home for a family reunion in July. I am absolutely ecstatic to spend some good, quality time with the fam…especially with the arrival of my newest nephew coming in June! However, I am having flashbacks to one of the last times I flew on an airplane.

It was such a horrible and embarrassing experience. As I sat in the terminal waiting to hear the announcement that it was time to board my flight, an airline employee tapped me on my shoulder and asked to see me at the counter. When I got to the desk, the woman informed me that I needed to buy a second ticket. Due to my size, I was being asked to purchase a second seat “…for the comfort and safety of yourself and other passengers.” I was assured that since the flight wasn’t full, I would be able to receive a full refund…if I filed the necessary paperwork.

Como say WHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?! I was too embarrassed to say anything than ok and handed the lady my credit card. I was given a second ticket that had “RESERVED” printed in big, bold, black letters. I was told to sit it on the seat next to me so no one would sit next to me.

When it came time to board, I was given “special boarding privileges” and was one of the first people to enter the cabin. I sat next to the window and placed my “RESERVED” ticket on the seat next to me. As the plane filled, more and more passengers who were traveling together looked to sit in my row, but quickly moved on when they saw my “special” ticket. I was so ashamed and set my gaze out the window. I avoided eye contact with passengers and crew.

When I got home and reflected on my experiences I became angry. I thought, “How dare they do that to me?!” Then I started say the most horrible things to myself…calling me names and telling myself really hurtful things. Even though this was such a traumatic experience, it still wasn’t enough to make me want to change. Instead, things got worse. It was like I wanted to “show” them…you think I’m too fat to fly??? Well, just wait! I’ll show you what fat really is!

No, I didn’t really say or think that explicitly, but I remember feeling that way. Needless to say, I have some reservations about flying this summer because I realized after getting my confirmation that this flight is with the same airline. Thankfully I’m quite a bit lighter than when this event happened, but it will definitely be a test!

I don’t want to give fear power over my choices anymore. I will continue to move forward.

Where to Start: Prepping the Kitchen

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So the kitchen is going to be your new best friend when you go all in on whatever WOE you choose. I don’t know about you, but before I went low-carb, I spent a lot of time eating in my car. Fast food drive-thrus were my best friends. Greasy wrappers littered my car’s floors and my refrigerator was almost empty…except for last night’s take home containers.

Preparation is key when starting out. One of the main things I did was cleared all of the junk out of my kitchen. Anything with wheat and sugar was placed in a bag. I gave these evil foods to a few friends for their enjoyment. Pasta, bread, fruit (at first), chips, juices, potatoes, chips, popcorn (oh, my salty favorite!!!)…EVERYTHING that was not on the acceptable food list was OUT!

I have so many websites with GREAT recipes that are low-carb and easy to make. I really try to think of what I want to make for the next week or so before I go shopping. At first I kept my menu fairly simple consisting of chicken, salad, and veggies. As I learned what I liked and disliked, I was able to expand my recipe repertoire.

Then I went shopping. I wrote a few posts ago what I keep in my pantry and fridge. You can read it here. I shop mostly on the outer aisles in the grocery store…produce, meats, and dairy. With the exception of the frozen department, there’s really not much I need from the inner aisles. I always make sure I have easy and quick snacks for on the go.

Again, I have to reiterate the importance of ENJOYING what you eat. If you hate the food, this is not going to work. I encourage people to try some new things every once in a while. Pallets really change after removing processed, sugary, carby foods. Get a little adventurous and try a new veggie or recipe every now and then. That’s how I fell in love with my cauliflower pizza (read about it here)!

Where to Start: Choosing What Works For You

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I’m getting asked a lot lately, “So how are you losing all of this weight?” I usually don’t initiate conversation about my weight loss, but if someone opens the door to a discussion, LOOK OUT! I’m not shy talking about all aspects of my weight loss (except for that pesky starting weight number…I’m still not ready to divulge that information yet!).

I decided it may be helpful to start a step-by-step blog series about starting on a path to health and happiness. I’m not sure how many installments there will be, but this first post focuses on figuring out what works for you.

Each person is unique, which means what works for me, may not be right for someone else. As I’ve mentioned a time or two before, I subscribe to a low-carb way of eating. I did research about what it meant to be low-carb. I realized I didn’t have to give up my coffee with cream (at first I used heavy cream, but now it’s almond milk all the way) and sugar (stevia of course!). I could continue eating bacon (c’mon…who doesn’t love a little bacon in their life?!?!), butter, and cheese. Seemed like a WOE from heaven, right???

Well, hold on now…I then had to look at what I would have to remove from my diet. Sugar…no problem there for me. I rarely was into the sugary, baked goods and candies. Wheat…this would prove to be slightly more difficult. Wheat is in EVERYTHING!!! Breads, pastas, crackers, etc. I used to eat a lot of pasta. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be able to find several pasta substitues that I actually enjoy more than the real deal. Starchy veggies…potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, oh my! I was a french fry freak! Would I be able to break that habit??? Obviously I did, but it was really difficult the first week.

I have read a lot about how it’s so horrible to remove a food group entirely from ones diet, but I’m here to tell you that for me, it’s way more healthy. I tried Weight Watchers and counting points. I stopped after a few months. I was constantly hungry. I didn’t enjoy a lot of what I was preparing for meals, which is what this post boils down to. Figure out what you’re willing to change as far as what you eat. In order to lose the flab, the first step is figuring out a healthy WOE! Do your research before you start. It is important to prepare for changing up how you shop for groceries and cooking in the kitchen.

What Was That?!

There are some cool things that I am beginning to notice about my body as I continue to lose weight. The first thing I really noticed was a ring I wore a lot was becoming looser. Then I noticed my fingers were becoming more stick like instead of their usual plump, rubber band around the knuckles, looking selves. The knuckles are becoming the thickest part of my fingers now, which is really how most peoples’ fingers are, right?

Then I began to notice the wrist knob. I don’t know what else to call it, but it’s that bump that is on the top side of your wrist (pinky side). I used to never be able to see it…I could feel it, but not see it.

About a month ago, I took a good look at my driver’s license photo. What I saw was CRAZY!!! I mean, straight up CRAY-CRAY. I saw a woman staring back at me who didn’t have a neck and quite plump cheeks. When I look in the mirror now, I can see a distinct separation between my head and my shoulders.

Now, a few weeks ago, I really got freaked out! I was smoothing out my shirt over the sides of my stomach when my hands hit something hard, at about belly button level. I was startled. I thought, “What the hell?! What was that?!?!” I had never noticed anything hard there before so I began prodding these hard spots. They were in the same place on each side of my abdomen. There wasn’t any pain as I poked, and the hard places didn’t move as I pushed. It finally dawned on me these were my pelvic bones. I’ve had a nice ring of fat around my mid-section for so long, that I forgot they were there!

I’m excited to see what I notice next. For some these noticings may seem trivial or insignificant, but for me they have been HUGE (no pun intended!!!). It’s amazing how foreign my body was to me for so long. I avoided looking at myself…mirrors were the WORST! I avoided them. I would avert my eyes if I was standing near a mirror in which I could see my reflection. My mindset was, “If I can’t see it, then it’s not true,” which was just wishful thinking.

My eyes are open now. I have begun to really look at myself in both the literal physical sense as well as the metaphorical sense. Now that my eyes are open, I am trying to tackle the emotional stuff that really drove my unhealthy relationship with food. I posted a while back about emotional hunger and I have found that I continue to turn to food when I’m in pain or angry, but I’m much more aware of when this happens and I don’t give in to the hunger like I did in the past. I mentioned I’m seeing a therapist a couple times a week, which has helped me to “open my eyes.” This whole journey is a process and for the first time in my life, I feel like I am present in that journey. I’m the one in control and making choices that are best for me and my health…not just based on what feels best.

Emotional Hunger

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, months, years where everything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong??? I was almost (emphasis on the almost) at that place last week. Over the past several months I have been trying to work on me and my shoes (AKA: issues). A couple of times a month, I see my therapist. I like to call this, “Me Time.” I get to tell someone all of my stuff and she has to listen to me. That’s what she’s paid to do. Not only does she listen, but she responds (in a very non-judgmental, unbiased way). Without going into too much detail, I’m looking at how I got to where I am today and what I need/want to do to change some things that aren’t quite working for me anymore.

It’s working…I’m feeling better about life in general, but there are always going to be those cruddy days. Last week was a cruddy week. I went through my finances and started doing my taxes. Oh LORD…those are two very difficult subjects, right??? Then to top it off, my heel was still (at the time) hurting and I needed to see my doctor again. And, on top of that, the scale wasn’t being very cooperative. All of those things made me hungry.

You see, food and I have this love/hate relationship. I love the taste and how it makes me feel when I eat, but I hate what the junk does to me and the guilt/shame I have after I have the love affair. I turn to food to celebrate, when I’m angry, when I’m sad, when I’m nervous, when I’m…I think you get the picture. My hunger is masked as physical, but I’m learning how to identify when it’s emotional hunger I’m actually experiencing. Check out this graphic that has been floating around the web-o-sphere lately:

EmotionalPhysicalHunger 2.5.13

Finding this graphic couldn’t have come at a better time. It really helped me identify what kind of hunger I was having. I will be referencing this table over and over as I continue in my journey. Number 7 is what I seem to struggle with the most when I feel emotional hunger. Sometimes I feel like I can’t satisfy my hunger. Several months ago this was still very frustrating, but I’m learning ways to deal with the “not full” feeling. I definitely have much more work to do, but day by day, and step by step, I’m getting control over my eating and emotional responses. Knowledge is power and being aware of what my mind does and how I respond is a big step in addressing some of these “shoes” I’m working on!

My Staples

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I make sure I always have low-carb options handy in my kitchen. Many people think that eating low-carb hurts the checkbook (heck, most people think healthy eating is expensive). It all depends on the effort you put into doing the research, looking for the best deals and being prepared before going to the grocery store. I will concede that if you eat steak and lobster every meal, then yes, you will notice a big difference in your wallet.

In this economy, everyone needs to be aware of where their money goes. I’ve begun loading up on cheap ground beef, chicken, and pork. I’ve even started looking through the weekly sales fliers that come out in the newspaper!!! I used to think that took a lot of time and effort for pennies worth of savings. Boy was I wrong!!!

For today’s blog post, I thought I would share some of the staple food items I keep on hand at all times (for the most part :)).

Refrigerator
Veggies: cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, zucchini, cauliflower
Dairy: butter (usually salted), cream cheese, shredded cheese (it depends on my mood, but usually mozzarella), eggs, heavy cream
Condiments: Trader Joe’s Real Mayonnaise, Trader Joe’s Wasabi Mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup

Freezer
Veggies: cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cauliflower/broccoli blend, spinach
Meats: ground beef, chicken thighs and breasts, pork roast, some sort of seafood (whatever is on sale…shrimp, cod, salmon, etc.), bacon, ground sausage

Pantry
Flaxseed Meal
Oils: EVOO, canola, coconut, Pam Cooking Spray (butter flavor)
Vinegar: apple cider, red wine, white
Canned: green beans, tuna, chicken
Artificial Sweetener: Truvia (both granular and liquid)
Nuts/Seeds: pumpkin seeds (pepitas), almonds

Spices/Herbs/Other
Cocoa Powder
Baking Powder
Extracts: lemon (pure…my FAVORITE!), maple, vanilla (pure), almond (pure)
Spices: Northwoods Blend (Penzy’s), Bangkok Blend (Penzy’s), lemon pepper, cajun, Italian seasoning
Herbs (dried): basil, rosemary, parsley, chives
Salt
Pepper

Many of these things I already had in my kitchen when I started, however it can be somewhat expensive if you don’t have a stocked refrigerator or pantry. My suggestion is to start slowly. Get the absolute essentials first and work your way to stocking up. This list is very subjective, however I use most of the items above a couple of times each week, if not daily.

I have most of the above listed items at any given time in my kitchen. Being prepared for meals and snacks is key to staying on track. I usually plan my meals at least a day in advance when I’m working. On my day off, I usually prepare something to take with me to work. This way I have easily accessible items at any given time. Makes my life super simple!

Cleaning Out My Closet

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With losing 80+ pounds, I’ve needed to get rid of a lot of my “super fat” clothes. I have gone through my closets twice now and donated about 5 kitchen garbage bags to Goodwill. It took a really long time to go through each piece of clothing, try it on, and decide which pile it went to. I had the foresight (or wishful thinking) to save some of my smaller pieces of clothes and bring them to Pennsylvania with me. It was like I had a whole new wardrobe by the time I finished! It felt good to get rid of so many things because they were ridiculously large on me. I want to keep the BIG stuff OUT for good this time! The last time I lost weight, I saved my big clothes. I don’t want bigger sizes to even be an option anymore, which is why I got them out of my house. No more buying big sizes!!!  I will continue shrinking!!! I feel it this time!

With that being said, I struggle with an evil, inner critic. While it was fun to be getting rid of my “super fat” clothes, I found I was being really critical of myself. I also found my inner critic rearing her ugly head as I tried on several pairs of pants that were still too small. She screamed at me, “You are SO fat! How could you allow yourself to get this way?!?!” Lately, I’ve been working really hard at becoming more gentle with myself when I find that critic yelling inside my head. I told myself that while I’m not ok with my current weight and size, I am doing the best I can to make a healthy change for myself. I reiterated to myself, I AM DOING THE BEST I CAN. If I’m doing the best I can, then I can’t do any better.

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It has really helped using this gentler, kinder voice, however, I found myself agreeing with the critic and accepting what she had told me. I dismissed all of the work I had already done and really was hard on myself. I had to take a step back and remind myself that I hadn’t put all of the weight on overnight and I wouldn’t be able to lose it all overnight either. I committed to fit into those pants one day!

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I’m winning the battle with my inner critic this time though and I will triumph in this war. I’m not letting her bring me down. I refuse! I refuse to feel bad about losing 87 pounds. I refuse to give in to the critic’s abuse, which often led me to binge on carb laiden foods in the past. I refuse to doubt myself. I refuse to doubt that this plan works…HELL, if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be 87 pounds lighter!!!