Running Again, and my First Business Trip on Optifast

Friday I went for my first run in, oh, probably 6 months. Something like that. It wasn’t too bad, either, I did two miles and I only had to stop maybe 3 times, and then only walked for less than a minute each time.

My legs were pretty sore on Saturday, then Sunday morning I did it again, despite continued soreness. I’m happy to be running again, now that I’m down almost 10 pounds my scars are hurting a lot less and that makes it easier to run. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my scars before? I have some surgical scars which get pulled on when I run and especially when I’m at a higher weight, and I thought I’d need to lose 20 pounds before I could run again without hurting them or causing them to tear, but with the supportive compression pants I’m wearing and taking it easy, it seems to be alright so far.

And I’ve also completed my first business trip since I started Optifast. It went very well, the only thing that was any concern at all was that my co-workers all wanted to go out to lunch together today and I was NOT interested in explaining to certain of them about the program because I don’t feel close enough to them to want to endure their on-going questions/comments. Fortunately I was able to duck out of it was a simple, “I’m gonna stay here and catch up on some stuff, please come back and pick me up before you head to the airport!” and that was effective. I even got in two laps of the parking lot walking circuit (1/4 mile each lap) while they were at lunch.

And now I’m home and noticing that my left hip joint is really hurting and I’m wondering if I wrenched it on the trip or if it’s acting up because of the running, which is fine, I will give it some time to heal as I’m committed to taking this slowly.

Sudden Absence of Hunger

Yesterday I experienced something completely new to me – I wasn’t hungry all day. I managed to get all my meals in, because I made myself have them, but I wasn’t hungry. It was liberating! Is this how men feel all the time? (I say this because every man I’ve ever met has claimed that he can easily forget to eat because he doesn’t get hungry – prior to today I had NO IDEA what that would even be like, I absolutely couldn’t conceive of such a situation.)

Today appears to be a continuation of this trend, so far. I love this, I can’t even explain how annoying and dispiriting it is to be hungry all the time, as I have been for the last 39 years. I have no idea what caused this, and I doubt that it will last, but it’s a surprising development for sure.

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First week results

Well, sort of second week, but first week on meal replacements.

Tuesday night my husband and I walked over to the dance studio mere blocks from our house and took a class in West Coast Swing. It was our first class, they let you just walk in for the beginner class. We both had fun and plan to go back again next week, and the week after, and hopefully on like that. I had a slight advantage in that I’ve had years of other types of dancing so I picked it up easily. My husband is a trooper and he’s being a very good sport about trying and picking up something that is totally new to him. Plus it was an hour of exercise while having fun.

I’m totally off of coffee now, and almost completely off of caffeine entirely. Because if I can’t have cream in my coffee, I don’t want it at all! I won’t say, as I’ve heard others who go off caffeine say, that “I have so much more energy!” because that’s not my experience. I will say that now that the first few days are over with, I feel pretty much the same as I did before when I was drinking coffee in the mornings and afternoons. I guess I didn’t really need it. Now I occasionally drink some green tea at my desk at work, but that’s about it for known caffeine ingestion. Not saying I’ll never have another diet soda, but right now it’s not in my game plan.

I also signed up for a Dirty Girl 5K on October 26th, which is a 5K run with muddy obstacles, so I need to strap my running shoes back on and get out there again on some runs.

And finally: Last night’s weigh in. I’m down 7 pounds for my first week on meal replacements. One pound a day – you can’t beat that!* I’m pleased, that’s a total of 9.5 for me for the two weeks now.

*Actually you can. My husband was down 12 pounds for the week. Stupid men and their stupid fast metabolisms and higher muscle content! Kidding – I’m actually really impressed and pleased. His face already looks thinner.

Day 5: Things are Looking Up

When I woke up this morning the gnawing, aching hunger I’ve been feeling since I started the Meal Replacements on Thursday had abated. Not completely gone but faded to a dull, ignorable background buzz. I think this happened the last time I started a full MR program but I’m not sure, it’s been more than 10 years. I’m a realist so I’m not ready to declare victory over the hunger yet, but if this continues I will have no trouble completing the program without cheating. Those first few days are definitely the hardest, I’m feeling much more optimistic today.

I put a pair of walking shoes in my laptop bag as I headed out the door for work this morning. I couldn’t figure out when I would have time for a walk after work before it got dark (I had a HOA meeting to attend tonight), so I improvised with a walk at lunchtime. It was a bit warmer than I would have liked it to be but I persevered. Gold star to me for problem-solving! Forgot my iPod though, so that’s something for tomorrow.

My husband and I are going to investigate the dance studio mere blocks from our house. We’ve walked by it many times and said, “We should take dance lessons!” Now that we’re working on losing weight it seems like a good time to find a fun, new form of exercise we can do together. I think they teach couples dancing on Tuesdays, so we’ll go check it out tomorrow evening and see about the costs and schedule.

I thought I had something else to report but I can’t think of it now.

Learning my Hunger

I’ve reached the end of Day 3 now on my new Optifast program. I think I’ve figured out one of the things I’m supposed to be paying attention to and learning on this program.

First let me tell you about the other Medical Weight Management (MWM) program I am familiar with due to 10 years of (more-or-less) success with it. On the HMR program they’re all about “more is better.” They give you the shakes, entrees and bars, which are very small portions with very low calories, and tell you to go to town. You can have as much as you want of these items, because you can’t possible eat enough of it to stop losing weight. This approach aids retention and compliance by never allowing you to feel hungry for long, hence you don’t feel tempted to go off-program.

But, over the years I’ve been noticing that as I’ve worked on maintaining with their system, I have perhaps over-practiced this system. More Is Better is fabulous until you are eating fruit anytime you feel even the slightest pang of hunger (hmm…or is that boredom? Sometimes it’s not so clear). Out in the Real World of eating when you can have anything you want, and you’ve trained your body that you never have to go hungry, well, you can get into some trouble. Maybe 50 pounds worth…

On Optifast you get a set number of Meal Replacements (MR) every day. I get six. Six meals each day, totaling 960 calories. No more, no less. You know what I’m starting to become very familiar with? Hunger. I’ve been hungry for three days now. This is uncomfortable, it’s hard, it’s distracting. But it is also causing me to get extraordinarily familiar with and able to evaluate the shades of hunger I feel. Because I can’t just eat something whenever I feel the slightest pang. I need to be calculating, and determine whether or not this particular hunger I’m feeling is strong enough to burn one of my meals for the day. I have to take several factors into account. Has it been long enough since my last meal? How many hours are left in the day? If I eat now, will I have enough meals left to get to the end without a meltdown? Can I ride this out for a while longer?

I suspect that this skill, which I’ll be honing over the next 4-6 months, is something that may serve me well later.

They say you learn what you need when you need it. HMR was all about learning proper portion sizes, counting calories, finding exercise I liked, and picking the right food with a lower caloric density. I suspect that Optifast will be all about becoming familiar with hunger, learning to  to wield it, control it, and eat strategically.

Or I could be completely wrong and the hunger will go away after a week or so. We’ll see!

It’s a Brand New Day

I start on the meal replacement portion of my program today. Last week we were waiting for them to come in, and journaling our food. Last night we had our final med check and weigh-in, first class with our instructor, and picked up our meal replacements.

I’ve lost 2.5 pounds already but that’s just an accident of timing – last Wednesday was the day in my monthly cycle when I am the highest weight for the month, so I was bound to lose weight no matter what I did in the intervening week.

Today I put together a super-cute outfit, I painted my nails last night (AND I didn’t mess them up before they dried, which is extremely rare!), I’m even wearing lipstick. I’m working on having other things to celebrate and enjoy in my day than food. So I’m going to plan little treats for myself over the next four months like a facial or a massage, new running shoes, a hike on a favorite trail, bubble baths, things like that which don’t involve food.

Oh and I took a “before” picture last night, which is too depressing right now to post, but which I will surely post once I’ve made some progress. My husband and I plan to take a photo monthly as we progress through the program.

All right. I’ve got my shaker bottle, my MRs, and I’ve cleared out my office of all food (not that there was much to begin with). LET’S DO THIS.

Head Case & First Class

I’ve struggled with a lot of shame and embarrassment around needing to do this again. I got so used to being a “success” that realizing I wasn’t anymore and needed outside help to get myself on track felt like a failure. I mean, I kept it off for almost 10 years! And now…to suddenly just fall off the wagon seems so bizarre. I hear from people (people on the internet, mostly) that to make something a habit you have to do it for (insert number of days/months). Well, I far exceeded all of those time spans and still maintaining my weight didn’t become a habit.

This is the point at which I utterly and completely embrace the phrase, “life-long struggle.” I don’t know why I thought that a few years of success meant that wouldn’t apply to me, or that I’d seamlessly integrated the struggle into my life without resenting it or risking slipping off the edge, but I fully and completely recognize now that there is no forever. There is no habit. It is going to be a fighting, kicking, ranting, screaming, hanging-on-by-the-fingernails fight until the day I die.

And then I forgave myself. For my hubris. I hope that others will do the same for me. It’s easy, when it’s working, to wonder why other people can’t do it themselves, when you’re doing it. But when it’s not working, it’s easy to hate the people who ARE doing it, just a little bit.

I forgave myself because I am doing it, now. I picked up my head trip and packed it away, found my way back to a path, swallowed my pride and I’m ready to try, try again. I lost 200 pounds, then I gained 50 back and now I need help. I’ve been beating myself up over this pretty badly. And then I remembered that the fact that I’m doing something about it means I’m not a total failure – I’m still in the ring. I’m still in this fight and I can still get back on top.

If I had a friend who’d lost 40 pounds then gained 10 back I wouldn’t call her a failure, I’d salute the work it took for her to lose the weight, and mention that sometimes you can’t keep it all off, but even keeping some of it off is a success, and that she should be praised for her hard work. Proportionally speaking, I’m in the same boat, but I’ve been acting like that makes me a miserable failure. Bah.

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Last night was my first Optifast class. We don’t actually start on the meal replacements today though. It’s an odd way to set things up, we ordered the food last night, then this week we’re supposed to clear out our kitchens and prepare to start on the MRs next week when they arrive. We are also supposed to journal what we eat this week and “try to reduce your calories so going to 960/day next week will be easier.” This makes sense, however they didn’t give us any tools for how to do this, which I think is a bit of an oversight. Either they want us to do it and give us tools, or they don’t particularly care if we do it but added that sentence in to make us feel like they were providing some sort of value in this first week while we wait for the real program to start.

And finally, they use a fancy body composition monitoring scale. It said that my Base Metabolic Rate is 1827 right now.  That’s somewhat demoralizing. When I get down to where I want to be my BMR will be around 1500. *grumpy face*