down fifty means a new post!

down50

It’s official: I’ve lost 50 pounds! This means I’ve achieved my second weight loss goal (my first was 25 pounds, my second was 50 pounds down). I’ve decided to make my next goal 65 pounds down, and then to see where I stand. I might stop before or after that, or choose a lower number, but it’s hard to decide that until I’m closer.

My concern before summer started was that with summer would come laziness and perhaps a lack of motivation. Luckily, my plan to keep myself busy has been working well: I’ve been going the gym almost every morning, and not spending a whole lot of time just vegging out in front of the television. But actually there have been plenty of days when I’ve spent quite a bit of time watching television or in front of the computer, and even then, I found it pretty easy to avoid eating constantly. I went to the doctor at the beginning of the summer, and she told me that at the weight I was then (which was when I had lost about 40 pounds), I’m basically at a healthy place. She said I could lose more if I want, or stay where I am, and that at this point, it’s up to me. That’s very reassuring!

Other indicators of the fact that my weight loss has gone very well:

1) My prom dress is now definitely way too big for me. Which means I’ve now lost all of the weight that I gained in college, as well as plenty more.

2) It is SO much easier going up stairs and hills. I barely even notice them now!

3) A trip to the store a few weeks ago showed me that I now can comfortably wear a smaller dress size than I’ve ever worn (or at least smaller than since middle school)! In fact, I found the same dress that I had bought a few months ago (which I bought partly to celebrate having lost a bunch of weight) in a smaller size, and when I tried that on, it totally fit! I didn’t buy it though, since it makes more sense to just tailor the bigger one to make it smaller.

Another thing I wanted to mention: A lot of you know that I recently went to the conference The Amazing Meeting 9, since I just posted pictures and I’ve posted about my excitement. One of the cool things about it is you get to meet a lot of really amazing scientists, authors, and bloggers. For example, I got to meet Bill Nye and thank him for his show, which got me and so many other kids pumped about science! I also met Steve Novella, and thanked him for being such an amazing model of how you can be incredibly successful professionally and still have hobbies and have a family (he is a neurologist and professor at Yale, and runs multiple blogs and podcasts as well as many other projects). But despite these incredible introductions, I had an even more memorable meeting at the conference: I met Greta Christina, whose blog post was what got me started on losing weight. I found out when I was already there that she would be there, and decided I wanted to meet her and thank her. I did: I introduced myself and told her how back in January, I came across her blog, and it completely changed my perspective on weight loss, and since that time I’ve lost 50 pounds. I thanked her for saving my health, my life, and my happiness. And then I hugged her and we took a picture together. It felt so amazing to be able to thank someone who unintentionally had such a direct and vital effect on my life, and I will always remember that.

A few people have recently asked me what it is that actually changed my perspective on losing weight, and made it possible. You can read the article that did this here: http://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2010/03/fatpositive-feminist-skeptical-diet-1.html

and make sure to read Part 2 and Part 3 as well. But to summarize, the things I read on there that did it for me are the following.

1) First, not thinking about food as good or bad. Attaching morality to food leads to (or is the result of) an unhealthy relationship with it. So, as the blog suggests, I’ve been thinking about food in terms of a budget: I set a budget for the day (the number of calories I can eat) and then think of food as either calorically expensive or inexpensive. So eating chocolate cake isn’t sinful; it just means that I’ll have less calories in my budget for the rest of the day. Which means I can eat a smaller amount of a calorically expensive food, because I get both the delicious flavor as well as the knowledge that taking just a small amount means that I’ll have more calories to eat later.

2) Doing a cost/benefit analysis about whether losing weight is a worthwhile thing. For many people, it may be more worthwhile to not lose weight and to instead change how they feel about their current weight (which is a big part of the fat acceptance movement). So if a person would be happier in the long-term accepting how they look and feel at a heavy weight, as long they are willing to accept the risks (increased chance of many diseases, shorter lifespan), then that should be their choice. But a cost/benefit analysis should be done, instead of just ignoring the risks or pretending they don’t exist.

3) The idea to talk openly about losing weight. So I’ve had the Lose it program post all of my exercise on Facebook, as well as weight changes and when I’ve received their motivational badges. Also, notes such as this one, where I get a lot of ideas from you guys, as well as feedback. SO HELPFUL! I think another big thing about this is that often when someone is losing weight, people aren’t sure whether they are allowed to mention it or not. So posting about all of this stuff has let people know that I’m generally open to comments and questions about losing weight.

4) I learned about Lose It from the blog post, which is an application that has been INCREDIBLY instrumental to this. It just makes keeping track of food and exercise easy and fun, as well as other helpful features like a forum, social network, the ability to look at trends in your calories, exercise, nutritional intake, weight, etc. Which is awesome for nerdy people who like graphs. Oh and another amazing feature is the fact that you get motivational badges, which gives you fun things to aim for.

5) Thinking about this as a lifestyle change instead of a diet, and planning to behave in the same way on the day I hit my goal as I have on every other day, so that I don’t just go back to my old habits.

6) Doing exercise that is fun. Most of my exercise the first few months was just getting up in the morning and playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii. It got me moving and burned calories and never felt difficult! It also helped that sometimes my roommates would join me which made it extra fun!

7) Not letting myself get ravenously hungry, and remembering that for the rest of my life I will never let myself get ravenously hungry.

So reading the things I just mentioned on her blog are pretty much what got me started on this. If you think you might be interested, definitely click the link I posted above.

A final thing I wanted to address is something that has been on my mind a lot lately. During this whole weight loss process, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. Since people can’t see the health benefits of weight loss but can see the appearance benefits, it makes sense that that’s what people have mentioned (“you’re looking so slim lately!” sounds way less weird than “I bet your cholesterol levels are within a healthy range now!”). And it’s been really amazing to have people tell me that I look good. It’s something I barely had growing up, so to have that now is a shock to my brain, and is perhaps making up for lost time. But the problem is, it’s happening at the time in my life when I need the least reassurance. I look in the mirror now and I see that I’m slimmer, and I do think I look better now; I never had any of this positive feedback when I hated what I saw in the mirror, which is when I really needed it. Growing up, the one physical compliment I got was that I had great hair. So essentially my self-esteem regarding my appearance was built around that one trait, a trait that I knew wasn’t really all that important to most people. I guess I just wish I could have had that kind of positive feedback when I really needed it. I notice that this paragraph of the note is a lot more rambling and less straightforward than the rest of it, so that might tell you that it’s something that I feel emotional about, and that I don’t really know how to explain. But I wanted to try anyway.

Well, I believe those are all of the main things I wanted to address. I can always write another note if something else comes up. And as I said, I’m continuing all of this with the new goal of getting to approximately 65 pounds lost. Onward!

And my most recent before/after picture, because those are always fun. 😀

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here’s the whole plan

But first of all, a couple of updates.  I’ve had several independent confirmations that I’m now back to the weight I was in high school (and actually a little smaller).  First, when I went shopping on Saturday, I bought clothes in the size I used to wear in high school, and even one pair of slacks that was a size smaller than I used to wear in high school.  Second, I tried on my prom dress yesterday and it fits again!  And it even is roomier than it was when I wore it to prom!  So this is exciting, because it’s nice that my first goal weight loss brought me back to the weight I was before college, so now I’m back to that and can focus on my next weight loss goal bringing me down closer to a healthy weight.  So, good first step!

Okay but the point of this post.  I’m reading 59 Seconds by Richard Wiseman, which is all about scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness (it’s a really fun and informative book, and I totally recommend it), and all of the suggestions in it are things that take very little time or effort (hence the title).  Anyway, in the Motivation chapter, there’s a suggestion about how to achieve a goal.  One of the proven ways to increase your odds of achieving a goal is to get it down in writing, including splitting it up into subgoals, and specific plans for achieving each of the subgoals.  So, here is what Wiseman suggests writing down for the goal and each subgoal:

1. What is your overall goal?

2. Step-by-step plan:

For each subgoal (maximum of 5 subgoals per major goal):

 a. This subgoal is to….

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because…

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will…

 d. This will be achieved by the following date:

 e. My reward for achieving this will be…

 f. The reason this subgoal is important is…[This isn’t in 59 Seconds, but I added it]

3. What are the benefits of achieving your overall goal? (Focus on benefits, not escaping the negative aspects of not achieving the goal)

4. Whom are you going to tell about your goal in order to have social support and accountability?

When I was on the airplane coming home for Spring Break, I decided to answer the questions on paper, so now I’m going to type them it up into this note.  If you believe it will help you to achieve any of your goals (and hey, research suggests it will), then feel free to answer any of the questions by commenting on this note, or on your own Facebook note, or in your journal, or whatever works for you.  It’s nice to get it all down on paper (well, in any sort of writing).

So here I go (note: the last two sub-goals are based on the idea that losing 50 pounds total will get me down to a healthy weight and that I can then go on maintenance; if when I reach that weight loss I decide along with a doctor that I should lose some more, that will change it.  But anyway, here’s the plan based on my current estimates.  And these 5 subgoals are based on the 25 pounds I have left to lose, since I’ve already done the first 25 so I don’t need to plan for those, but those 25 pounds are included in the total numbers I include):

1. What is your overall goal? My overall goal is to lose 25 pounds (50 pounds total). 

2. Step-by-step plan:

Step One:

 a. This first subgoal is to lose 5 pounds (30 total).

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because I’ve already lost 25 pounds. I now enjoy eating healthy food, and exercising feels great. I have so much support from my family and friends. 

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will continue buying groceries every weekend and preparing as much ahead of time as possible. I will continue recording all of my food and exercise on the LoseIt application on my iPod. I will go to sleep at a reasonable time (by 11 whenever possible) to have enough energy to exercise most mornings.

 d. This will be achieved by the following date: April 11th, 2011. 

 e. My reward for achieving this will be ordering something (a DVD, book, or something else), from Amazon, likely something fun and fitness-related.

 f. The reason this subgoal is important is this will keep me in the habit of losing weight (which I’ve drifted away from a bit since I reached my first goal), so I am as successful as last time.

Step Two:

 a. This second subgoal is to lose 15 pounds (40 pounds total).

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because by this point I will have already lose 30 pounds and will be on a roll. 

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will continue everything I stated in the first goal.  In addition, as at this point I may feel weary and may it a plateau, I will consult with my support network for guidance. I may also decide to maintain my weight for a while if I decide this will work better for me. I will continue to remind myself of how rewarding this is, and will make a list of why losing weight is so important. 

 d. This will be achieved by the following date: May 23, 2011. 

 e. My reward for achieving this will be to purchase some new clothes and a fun item.

 f. The reason this subgoal is important is that this will bring me only 10 pounds from my goal, and this makes the final stretch attainable.

Step Three:

 a. This third subgoal is to lose 25 pounds (50 total). 

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because I will be very close, and can use all that I’ve learned, and use my motivation to complete my weight loss goal. 

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will continue my positive lifestyle choices, and will consult with my support network for any roadblocks that arise. 

 d. This will be achieved by the following date: July 18th, 2011. 

 e. My reward for achieving this will be decided at a later date.  I will likely buy new clothes, and may reward myself with buying something else.  However, my ultimate reward will be the achievement itself.

 f. The reason this subgoal is important is it will be me achieving the goal I set out to achieve.  I will be healthier, and have more energy. I will have more self-confidence because I will have actually followed through on what I wanted to achieve. Buying clothes will be easier, I will sleep better at night, and I will feel better about myself. 

Step Four:

 a. This fourth subgoal is to maintain my weight loss for one year. 

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because by this point, exercise and healthy eating will be part of my routine. Additionally, I’ll have a larger caloric budget so this will make the lifestyle easier. 

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will I will continue very regular exercise, with an emphasis on fun exercise, and weight lifting.  I will continue to record all of my food and exercise to maintain awareness of my calories in/out. I will continue to weigh myself (though less frequently). I will continue updating friends on my progress. 

 d. This will be achieved by the following date: July 2012. 

 e. My reward for achieving this will be determined closer to the date of achievement. 

f. The reason this subgoal is important because this will teach me the mechanics of maintenance, and show me what I need to do to maintain for my whole life. 

Step Five:

 a. This final subgoal is to maintain a healthy weight my whole life. 

 b. I believe that I can achieve this goal because I will have all of the tools, including an enjoyment of healthy delicious food and exercise, several years of weight loss which will teach me what works for me, any exercise equipment I have acquired, recipes, and organizational tools that work for me, and the knowledge that continuing my healthy lifestyle is incredibly rewarding. 

 c. To achieve this sub-goal I will continually evaluate what I need to do to continue to maintain my weight. I will continue to weight myself regularly (at least once a month) and continue to keep a weight chart to see trends.  If I find my weight rising (or falling in an unhealthy way), I will implement a plan to slowly and comfortably attain my healthy weight again. I will incorporate active habits in my life, either by working out regularly or (and) by doing fun activities such as hiking, swimming, etc. I will seek out new healthy recipes and keep a stockpile of lists of foods that are healthy, easy-to-make, and that taste good. I will try to keep unnecessary stress out of my life in order to be able to actively devote the requisite time and energy needed for being healthy. 

 d. This will be achieved by the following date: This is an ongoing goal my whole life. 

 e. My reward for achieving this will be determined based on what keeps me motivated at each point in my life.

f. This subgoal is important because it will sustain my current actions for my whole life. It will improve my health and well-being, and it is the ultimate goal of healthy weight loss.

3. What are the benefits of achieving your overall goal? (Focus on benefits, not escaping the negative aspects of not achieving the goal)

a. Better health and longer life.

b. More self-confidence in knowing I can achieve other goals.

c. More energy for everything else I want to do in my life.

4. Whom are you going to tell about your goal in order to have social support and accountability?

I will continue using Facebook and LoseIt as a way to have social support and accountability, as well as talking to people in person. 

time to better myself

Making a list is always a good way for me to figure out what I need to get done, or what I want to work on, so here I go.  Here are things I plan to dedicate effort to changing.

1. Study to remember course material, not just to do well on tests. Too often I cram right before a test, and then don’t remember most of what I learned later.  Unacceptable, especially in classes that pertain to what I want to do with my life.

2. Eat healthier. Plan meals ahead of time, and prepare all meals in advance to bring to school.  This is especially difficult because most days I’m on campus from 8am to 8pm, so that’s several meals I need to bring with me.  But it’ll be worth it in terms of health and saving money.

3. Continue putting effort into improving my Russian. This means making sure I dedicate time each day to continuing to read my translated Harry Potter book, and write letters to my grandparents to get practice writing.

4. Study ASL to fluency. We only have two ASL classes at HSU so after next semester I’ll have to rely pretty much entirely on Saturday night signing at Mosgo’s.  Ever since I started learning it this semester, I’m pretty much obsessed with trying to learn as much as I can.

5. Refrain from badmouthing people. This takes restrain, and is something I need to work on.

6. Exercise. Totally necessary.  I’ve been clipping exercise ideas out of old issues of Self Magazine that I got from my neighbor, and I think some of them are really good.  Also, next semester I’ll have Power Step and a schedule that hopefully allows me to use the gym often.

Six goals is a reasonable amount.  I’m sure I’ll add more as more ideas come.