Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cinch It

My pants are falling down.

All day long - whether it is my jeans, my cargo pants or my black dress pants - I am hoisting them back up around my hips and bum.

This is a new phenomenon for me. Normally I'm one of those girls who have to do deep knee bends, squats and half splits when I put on a pair of just-washed pants.

You know how tight something can be when you throw it on straight out of the dryer, right?

Well, something happened, and now all my pants are probably a few pounds away from being around my ankles.

Two weeks ago, I had a significant health scare. I was preparing dinner for my dear friend Bluegrass Brit - Taco Night. I hadn't eaten anything for lunch (and the lettuce and veggie salad I did have wasn't that hearty).

There I was, buzzing around a skillet of browning beef, diced tomatoes and sliced avocado, when I started sweating. My dear friend was chatting away, but I just couldn't be bothered to engage in the conversation. I stared around at all the fixings and was overwhelmed to even assemble my own tacos.

That last one was a significant sign, considering I'm a girl who has never turned down a scrap of food.

A trip to the doctor revealed that I may be on my way to developing diabetes.

the doctor put me on a prescription for Metformin and ordered me to test my glucose twice a day for a month.

Apparently, pre-diabetes is completely reversible - once you get the Big D, it's not.

On my own, I started pursuing a healthier diet. No hard and fast rules, other than I insist on eating breakfast every morning. Normally a bowl of Special K with skim milk (the only kind of milk I've ever preferred), I know this little step helps me fire up the metabolism while I'm watching Good Morning America before heading to work.

I'm paying more attention to portion control and the number of fruits and vegetables I'm eating. Like I said, I'm not following any official "diet," and I'm allowing myself to fulfill the occasional craving when they strike. Just yesterday, my busy schedule got in the way of my eating at "regularly scheduled" meal times, and I drove by a Burger King.

The thought of a charbroiled Whopper with cheese made my head spin.

A trip through the drive-thru satisfied a craving that had the potential to snowball into an unpredictable moment down the road. Ever had one of those moments where you've scarfed down an entire frozen pizza on your own? Me, too.

I'm trying to avoid those moments, and that's why it's okay in my book to thwart diet tragedy with a Whopper now and then.

The rest of the time, it's skim milk, cereal, plentiful fruits and veggies, low-fat yogurt and other healthy choices.

And as much as I love a good cocktail/glass of wine/pint of beer, I'm trying to curtail my imbibing, knowing only too well how much those drinks add up to massive calories.

I've got an appointment in the weeks ahead with a dietitian who will provide me with a more concrete plan to drop weight (I need to lose AT LEAST 40 pounds to be back in a place where I can wear all my cute clothes).

A hesitant exerciser - I plan on hammering out a regular walking routine once Cincinnati's wacky weather settles down to something decidedly spring-like.

My pants are falling down.

And I don't mind a bit.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Post: The Tipping Point

After hearing a little about Chris Cole's amazing weight loss story during the Fox19 segment we were in together I invited him to share more about his journey here on Cincinnati Losers.  I think you'll agree it's pretty inspirational. 
- Shannan

Hello fellow losers. My name is Chris Cole and I am finally doing it. I began my journey to good health on Nov. 9 and have lost 63 pounds. Shannan has asked that I share my experience here on Cincinnati Losers and I’m more than happy to do so.

People have asked me why this latest effort has been different. Why is this working when so many earlier attempts failed?

Well, first of all I had moment. I think for all of us, that moment when you really turn the corner and begin to make sustainable changes cannot be predicted or easily explained. Sure, it may come after some traumatic medical event or it may be a person’s last choice and last chance. But for most, there just comes a time where you are no longer willing to accept living with the weight. And it doesn’t feel all that different from prior times when you committed to finally getting in shape (only to give up after a few months or a few days or a few minutes). It’s really only in hindsight that you see – that was the moment; that was when everything changed.

For me, that moment came on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, at 10:14 a.m. I hopped onto Facebook that morning and saw that a co-worker had challenged a mutual friend to a 20-pound weight-loss challenge. Sounded fun, so we made our own 40-pound bet. We weighed in Nov. 9 and I began my journey at 370 pounds, easily the heaviest I’d ever been.

I started slow, going to the gym two or three days a week and doing what little I could. Looking back, it wasn’t much. But I began to make healthier food choices and I kept with the workouts. And I posted everything on Facebook – every workout, every weigh-in, every small victory and every minor setback. I put it all out there for my whole world to see. I also discovered a great little iPhone app called “Lose-It!” which helps you count calories. I started seeing a nutritionist through Northern Kentucky University (where I work) and, with her guidance, began to focus on calories, fiber and sodium. For me, if I try to worry about anything more than that, it just gets overwhelming.

The pounds started to come off. On Dec. 1, I’d lost 12. By Jan. 1, I was up to 27. Along the way, as I approached the finish line in the 40-pound challenge, others stepped forward and made challenges of their own. At one point, I was in two 40-pound challenges, a 20-pound challenge, and a 6-pound challenge. Well I won that original competition in mid-January (my reward was getting to control the loser’s Facebook page for a day). Soon after, I won the 6-pound challenge and a few weeks later I won the 20-pound challenge.

Today, after 14 weeks, I’m down 63 pounds. That’s 4.5 pounds per week for three months. I’m about 12 pounds away from winning my second 40-pound challenge (the challenges overlap). When I win this one, the loser has to shave his head. J

I can’t say exactly what it is that makes this time different; all I can do is spout out that same tired cliche you’ve all heard a thousand times before – it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t know what that meant until about month into this journey. But now I no longer agonize over unhealthy snacks or midnight cravings. My kitchen is full of fruits and vegetables and Healthy Choice meals. I’ve not taken a drink of anything but water and 1% milk since November, and I drink about 140 ounces of water every day. As importantly, I no longer think of the gym as punishment for a lifetime of bad decisions, but rather as an opportunity – a gateway – to a lifetime of good health and limitless possibilities.

I’ve got a long way to go. I’m at 307 pounds now and my goal weight is 185. I’ll get there. I’m 100% sure of that. There are three things that give me such confidence.

The first is Facebook. It is the perfect weight-loss companion, no matter what type of diet you’re on. It allows for instant feedback/encouragement/motivation, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there as I have, it holds you accountable for every decision you make. When you’ve had a long day and don’t want to go to the gym, your Facebook friends will know that you’re blowing it off. And they’ll know when you have a bad weigh-in. No more hiding.

The second is the challenges. I’m a very competitive person and if it’s within my power I will not allow others to defeat me. When I’m at the gym and I’m tired after a good workout, thinking about how nice it will feel to settle into the massaging recliner at home, I think about my opponent(s). I convince myself that they are somewhere at that very moment doing P90X or rocking an elliptical. And I push on. Burn 50 more calories…OK, now just 50 more. The challenges won’t stop until I reach 185.

Finally, I’m confident because for the first time in my life I’m starting to understand the science of weight loss. For me, losing weight was always sort of a magical mystery. You ate less, you exercised and your body eventually began to shrink. There was no rhyme or reason. Now I know that weight loss is a science. Want to lose one pound? Easy – burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. Want to lose 185 pounds (my goal), burn 647,500 more calories than you consume over however long it takes. It’s pretty much that simple.

At the end of the day, when people ask me specifically how I’m doing it, I tell them this – I consume between 900 and 1,200 calories per day and I burn on average about 500 calories every single day at the gym. My nutritionist would like to see me consume a little more, but we both agree that as long as the weight is coming off and my body isn’t telling me otherwise, what I’m doing is working quite well. And I feel fantastic. I have more energy – even after two hours at the gym – than I ever had before. My knees no longer ache and I no longer need a nap every evening.

Yep, life is good.

Starting Weight – 370
Current Weight - 307

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Media and "Losers"

If you watch Fox19, you may have seen me on their 10 o'clock news earlier this week talking about my weight loss efforts and how much social media, and the Cincinnati Losers blog, has inspired and helped me.

In addition to me, the segment features Chris Cole who uses Facebook to help him stay on track. He's lost 50+ lbs and his story is pretty inspiring.

Social media has played a huge role in both motivating and educating me on my weight loss and dieting efforts (THANK YOU!!!). How about you?  If social media is helping you with your weight loss efforts, we'd love to hear about it! Here's the segment if you'd like to see it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Traveling & Dieting, Say what?

I write here today because I need your thoughts and positive vibes. This weekend I head to Nashville for a blogging conference. I'll be there Thursday - Sunday and am worried that my progress (7lbs so far!!) will be greatly hindered with the temptation of road food, fun/fancy dinners with old friends and the dreaded excuse "it's just more convenient to eat this."

See you would think, because I am writing about this and congizant of the pitfalls that I would be OK.  But I am not so sure.  I know me. I know that I will fall off the wagon and if I do, I'd rather it be a short fall and not a long one!

I've not traveled while dieting before, so if any of you have any tips, I'd love to hear them. I am planning on packing some healthy snacks in my bag, but when it comes to meals I am going to have to get creative.

Current Weight: 153
Starting Weight: 160

UPDATE: After reading this post, my friend Phyllis who is a health coach, sent me the following tips:

1.     Chia seeds  (find them at whole foods, your favorite health food store or
2.     Nuts, seeds and dried fruit/veg
3.     Vegetables: sugar snap peas, cut jicama, celery, carrots, cauliflower and bell peppers (hummus to dip)
4.     Fruit – cherries, plums, apples, pears, grapes, clementines
5.     Hard boiled eggs
6.     Ezekial sprouted wrap, organic turkey slices, sprouts & spicy mustard (this might be hard to find on the road but you get the idea)
7.     Flax or nut crackers –check ingredients
8.     Greens Plus Bar with Protein
9.     Homemade trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried cranberries, dark choc chips, coconut)
10.   Emergen-C, Sencha green tea powder, probiotics