Sunday, April 24, 2011

Still on the Journey

It's been a little while since I've posted. However, not having heard any outcry for an update, I'm pretty sure no one has missed my little musings. But I press on with the blog because, if for no other reason, it gives me something to do.

It's been about two and a half months since I started and I've lost 34 lbs so far. I've got 30 to go to reach my goal so I'm a little over half way there. So, here's a re-cap of everything that has happened so far. I've been able to completely quit taking my diabetes medicine for about a month now. My blood sugar levels have been rock solid. I also have been able to drastically cut back on my blood pressure meds, though not completely. Also, as you might expect, my physical energy level has dramatically increased.

As I was contemplating the weight I've lost and the changes that have come into my life, I was struck with the thought of other "weight" that I needed to lose. What would it be like to be completely free of the heavy burden of judgement, comparing, appearance management, criticism, self-righteousness, anger, contempt, pride and so on and so on...? Being angry or treating someone with contempt, no matter how small, is a heavy weight to carry. Always trying to please someone else or compare myself to someone else is like carrying an extra 50 lbs of emotional and spiritual baggage. What other heavy weights can you think of that you might be carrying? How do we go on a diet for this kind of excess "fat"?

I believe the answer lies in making a conscious decision to say "No" to indulging in such things. We do have a choice of how to respond when we are mistreated or misunderstood. We do have the power to decide how to relate to others in every situation. Our master Teacher, Jesus, will show us how to respond and how to act in relation to people that we encounter in every situation if we will just ask Him. I know it sounds simple but my experience lately has been that He is more than willing to be my teacher in every area of my life if I will invite Him to be so. He is helping me lose some of that other "weight" that is just as harmful, if not more so, than physical obesity. At least, that's the way I see it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Six-Week Update

It has been just about six weeks since I began this weight loss journey. If you've been following this blog you know that it hasn't been a completely smooth journey to this point but it has been richly rewarding. After starting at 249 lbs and taking 7 pills a day for both diabetes and high blood pressure, I'm happy to report that I have lost 23 lbs and down to 2 pills a day. My cravings for junk food have pretty much disappeared and my energy level has increased tremendously.

I still slightly over one-third of the way to my goal but I know that reaching it is a foregone conclusion. The rewards of losing weight far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of fattening foods. The most rewarding side effect of losing weight is the way that my eating habits are changing. I am beginning to genuinely crave healthy foods instead of the old fat and carb laden-ed foods I used to eat. Salads and vegetables are more appealing to me than pizza and burgers. That is not to say that I won't ever eat pizza or burgers again but I will approach them much differently than in the past.

I went "shopping" in my closet and found some shirts that I haven't been able to wear for the last couple of years and they fit perfectly! It was like getting something new. It was also a reminder that I was much thinner before and that most of the weight I'm losing was put on in the last two to three years.

Finally, the most exciting development on this journey has been the stabilization of my blood sugar. I am no longer taking any medication for my diabetes and my blood sugar has been rock solid for the past two to three weeks. This is truly an answer to prayer! Of course I have emailed my physician with this news just to let him know what's going on and I had a conversation about it with a personal friend who is a physician.

One last thing. People are taking notice that I am losing weight. It's nice to personally know that I'm dropping pounds but it is so much more encouraging when others start to take notice. So it's 23 down and 41 to go to reach my goal. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There's Always Enough

My experiences of "turbulence" in my dieting journey has caused me to reflect deeper on the role that food has played in my life. I have come to realize that food has played a major role in my source of comfort and well-being. Certainly I know I'm not alone in this as I know there are millions of people in the same boat. Food has become one of the main stress relievers in our culture and the obesity rates stand as proof of this fact. Before anyone gets edgy, I know that other factors are involved in obesity such as metabolic rate differences, genetics, socio-economic background and the like. But for me food has been the main source of entertainment my entire adult life. It's almost a hobby.

There certainly is nothing wrong with enjoying food. It is one of the joys of life! The over-enjoyment or rather, over-indulgence, of food is something different all together. I have been guilty of routinely throwing moderation out the window when it comes to chowing down on my favorite foods. What I didn't realize in those times was that my over-indulgence was rooted in a basic lack of trust in God to consistently provide for my needs. I sometimes ate as if I would never get another chance.

This has helped me to realize that I had adopted a "scarcity" mentality at a very early age. I was raised in a large family with three brothers and four sisters. Ours was a single-income home and my dad was a pastor. Needless to say we weren't wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. My mother was a Southern-bred cook who was very talented and resourceful when it came to preparing meals. The woman could flat-out cook! I honestly don't ever remember going hungry but I do vividly remember fearing that there would sometimes not be enough left for me as the serving bowls made their way around the crowded table.

Its funny now when I look back and realize that God demonstrated over and over again to our family that he was a God of abundance not scarcity. There were times when food would magically appear at our house -- brought in by someone who just happened to think we might need some. One time a farmer in our church had a steer butchered and stocked a big freezer for us with enough meat to last a full year. Even when I was afraid that there would not be enough, God was always showing us that we could trust Him to provide.

There are certainly other factors involved that have helped to produce my abuse of food over the years. But for me, acknowledging that there has been a basic lack of trust in God's power to provide for my needs is helping me to put the consumption of food in its proper place. I am coming to discover that God has always been about abundance. He has no shortages of anything!I can trust him completely on this journey to provide for my needs today.

Friday, February 18, 2011


I don't fly a lot but I have flown many times. It is rare that I have taken a flight with absolutely no turbulence. It has happened once or twice that I've had a smooth flight from beginning to end. However, on most flights there has been the occasional bumpy ride through portions of the flight. It usually comes without warning. Everything is going smoothly then bang, we hit the pothole in the air. It's unsettling and annoying but usually only temporary.

This past week I've run into turbulence with my diet. Everything was going so smoothly then, bump...bump...hunger pangs, cravings, fatigue, temptation to cheat... all suddenly appeared to rattle my smooth ride. I began to think about food all the time. I could smell the food that I saw advertised on TV. (Why are there so many fast food commercials on late in the evening?) I started to think of ways I could cheat. I even briefly entertained the thought of giving up completely. Briefly.

But I persisted. I didn't cheat and I didn't stop. I've stayed the course. The reward has come in seeing the number on the scale decrease ever so slightly each time I weigh in. I kept constantly reminding myself of my goal and the fact that I have made myself accountable to others to reach it. So, turbulence will just have to be endured on this trip even though it is unsettling and annoying.

Then today I broke into clear "air". The bumpy ride smoothed out as suddenly as it began. It started when I stepped on the scale and saw that I had dropped another pound. (I've lost 12 lbs in my first 10 days) Throughout the day I have experienced more energy and feelings of vitality than ever before. My mental state has turned to positive and I have regained the focus I began to lose. It short, today has been fantastic!

Will there be more turbulence? Probably. The ride has just begun and I'm still a good ways from reaching my destination. But today has taught me that it's only temporary and it's part of the journey. There are also some important lessons to be learned by going through the turbulence and that's the focus of my next post. Till then, thanks for reading and feel free to share your own thoughts about the kinds of turbulence you face on your journey and how you manage them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The First Weekend

For me, the weekend means temptation. It is the treasured break from the working routine of the week and has always been the time to let go a little bit and have fun. My weekends aren't always full of fun but at least it's the myth I keep telling myself. It's usually time to go out and enjoy a meal at a favorite restaurant or watch a movie and load up on popcorn and the like.

How was my new Medifast routine going to hold up on the weekend? Would I have the strength to stay on track? Well, I have to report that the specter of diet failure never materialized for me and I had no difficulty at all staying the course. And yes, I was able to go out to eat with friends and still find food choices that were within my program. I didn't miss a thing! In fact I was able to eat some of my Medifast meals that are not possible to eat during my regular weekday routine, such as soup and stews.

After nearly a week on the program I have come to the conclusion that eating 6 small meals every two to three hours is the way to go regardless of what diet you may be on. It is a way of eating that is in tune with your body's needs and not being a slave to a paradigm of just eating three times a day, hungry or not. My body is good at telling me when it's time to eat, not the other way around. The small meals keep me satisfied and constantly fueled.

So where am I after my first five full days? I have lost 9 lbs...nearly two pounds per day! I know that this type of loss will be impossible to sustain because in the beginning there is a lot of fluid weight loss along with the fat. The loss will eventually slow down to 2 - 5 pounds per week or roughly 10 - 20 pounds per month. I'll take that! The journey continues...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 3 - Going Great

I am now in day 3 of my weight loss journey using the Medifast weight loss program. It is also my 57th birthday. (Does that sound old to anyone else?) Since I began on Tuesday I have lost just under 5 lbs. which has me really stoked. I haven't had any hunger issues and really don't expect anything seriously overwhelming at this point. I'm pretty much through the 72-hour adjustment period and I find that my energy level is increasing. Although the loss of 5 pounds isn't readily noticeable in my appearance, I can feel it. The trousers are ever so slightly more baggy than before.

I'm starting to discover which foods I like and which ones I probably won't order again. I have really liked most everything so the "dislike" list is very short. Of course, I haven't had a chance to sample everything that I've ordered so that list could very well grow. My favorites so far are the scrambled eggs and the Parmesan cheese puffs. My least favorite are the cinnamon pretzel sticks, probably because they are made of soy protein instead of bread. No worries though. My evening meals have consisted of lean meat and vegetables. Applebee's has a very good steak and vegetable meal with only 380 calories.

The Medifast meals are very small but filling. Eating six times a day keeps the hunger at bay. (Hey, that rhymes!) There's still some lingering feelings of deprivation, knowing that there are certain foods that I just can't have right now. But I'm confident that when I've reached my goal weight it will have been a very small price to pay for the benefits of better health. This, like other things we go through, is just a season.

Seasons of change, especially ones that bring positive change, are good for us even though they may be difficult to go through. There's always something to learn about yourself and about God in such upheaval. For me, the upheaval is welcomed. To remain on the path that I was on was only going to lead to more trouble and difficulty for me in the long run.

I must remember that it has only been three days and that I have a long way to go on this journey. There are things yet unseen that will challenge my focus and determination. The support of my friends and the power of Christ will enable me to prevail. On to day 4...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Journey: Day 1

All in all, today was a very good day. For breakfast I had the scrambled eggs. They were surprisingly tasty considering it was a packet of "eggs" mixed with water and microwaved for about 90 seconds. They reminded me of the kind of eggs in a cheap breakfast buffet or the kind you used to get on an airplane. The taste and texture were appealing so I'm happy.

My meals for the rest of the day consisted of a chocolate "shake" drink, a chocolate crispy bar, cinnamon pretzels, a snack of ranch-flavored soy crisps, broiled chicken with asparagus and green beans, and a cup of hot chocolate.

I haven't experience a lot of hunger during the day and my energy level was about what it usually is. Just when the hunger started to come it was time for another small meal which was surprisingly filling. The meals are high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates which helps you feel full after eating. My biggest challenge during the day was cleaning the windows of one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. It smelled so good! I was glad when I was finished.

The approach to the Medifast program is to get your body into a fat-burning state. It takes about 72 hours on the program to achieve this. So, the first three days are probably going to be the toughest in terms of adjustment. I've been cautioned to expect some tiredness, headaches, hunger pangs and lightheaded feelings. I can report that I have experienced some faint hunger and a little bit of a headache this evening.

I think the mental aspect of this program will undoubtedly be the biggest challenge. There are many foods that I now can't have (at least temporarily) which makes me want them all the more. That's what happens in any effort at discipline which requires denial. It requires commitment and the focus on a goal to overcome the mental obstacles that crop up. Not only does my body need to be re-shaped, so does my mind. This is why support is so critical to any endeavor that requires great change. So in addition to changing what I eat, I'm trying to learn as much as I can about nutrition and support mechanisms that are available to me. Also, I certainly will count on those of you who are my friends to cheer me on. On to day 2....