Fat and 51

(Note: this blog was updated in Feb 2019, a year after starting my lifestyle change. see below.)

In the week after Christmas, 2018, two significant ah-ha moments happened.

First ah-ha: I was sitting in my step-mom’s guest bedroom on my 51st birthday in late December 2018, gawking at the new roll on my muffin top that had appeared over the holidays. Adding ten pounds to an already heavy frame made my eyes roll. The world’s weight charts had me at “obese,” bordering on “extremely obese.”

Second ah-ha: The day before, I had set forward my theme for the upcoming year. Not a resolution girl myself, I pick themes for each year. For 2018, “Ah-mazing and Joyful” shouted out.

Ah-mazing and Joyful

I had to do something. So, pulling that Ah-mazing and Joyful theme into my new love handle, I decided I wouldn’t just lose the 10 pounds. I’d go for something crazy and what I thought would be truly remarkable. 30 pounds! If I were to lose 30 pounds, I’d weigh less than what I had weighed in high school, less than when I got married (both times), and less than anything I had ever weighed in my adult life. It’d truly be Ah-mazing and Joyful if I could really, honestly, lose 30 pounds and keep it off.

I knew I’d need help. I knew that *behavior* is what made me obese, and if I were to be successful and keep it off, I’d need behavior modification. I needed someone to help me identify what was causing me to overeat, why I wanted to overeat, and what attitudes I harbored that kept my overweight. Thus, diet plans like Weight Watchers, Keto, and Whole30 weren’t going to work for me. I’d lose weight and put it right back on again. I had to find a program that would help me truly change.

State of Slim Success

The University of Colorado, brainchild behind ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” had the program I knew would work for me. It’s called State of Slim. I called, enrolled, and started on January 5. I attended the first meeting, started the program, and joined a weekly session with 20 other State of Slimmers, successfully completing the program 16 weeks later. (If you can’t make it to the program, you can buy the book, which several of my friends have now done and are equally as successful.)

Most diets work; the State of Slim diet works as well. It’s simple, too.

Track it all. Eat 5-6 times a day, eat within an hour of getting up, and drink water. There’s really nothing that special about the program; there are lists of yes and no foods, like most diets, and rules to follow. If you’ve done any diet, you’ll find many similarities.

Two Differences from Other Diets

State of Slim is a program, not a diet. As a program, it differs in two ways.

You must move. Start with 10 minutes a day for 6 days of the week in the first week and add ten minutes each week until you’re up to 70 minutes. Exercise will sneak into your life and soon it becomes a lifestyle. You can pick any type of movement you want. Walking, swimming, dancing, cleaning house, biking, cartwheeling–whatever makes you happy.

Since I was already walking over 15000 steps a day (and still in the obese category!), I had to do more. I joined University of Colorado’s Wellness Center and started taking classes. They included the FIT class, Zumba, Pound, and Step. Now every morning I wake up, my first thought is how I’ll get in my steps and which class I’ll take. Each week, I walk over 60,000 steps and take 3-4 exercise classes.

It’s a lifestyle change. The second thing that was different was the behavior class. The book does a great job at providing the basic themes and self-work to do on your own, but there’s nothing like crying and cringing with 19 other folks. Below are the major themes I took away to change my life style.

Pick Your Hard and Be Uncomfortable

Here are my five take-aways from class.

1. Pick your hard.

Being fat is hard. How? It’s hard to climb steps, fit in airplane seats, cross legs, find clothes, feel good, look cute…what would you name?

Being thin is hard. How? You have to work out all the time, watch your food intake, buy new clothes, be conscious….what would you name?

If both are hard, why be fat? You can choose your hard. If you’re reading this, I suspect you want to choose the “hard” of being thin.

Make your own list of what’s hard about being fat versus being thin. Which do you want to choose? Which will you choose?

2. Get uncomfortable.

Nothing interesting ever happens in your comfort zone. When you get out of your comfort zone, that’s when you start living. During the 16-week program, I had to admit a lot of things and do even more that were uncomfortable. But I had fun. I learned how to dance to Brazilian music, how to have tough conversations with my husband, how to examine my excuses, and how to climb the Manitou Incline, among other things.

What makes you uncomfortable? Write them down and take them on.

3. Plan your food.

Grab-n-go was my major downfall to why I was obese. I didn’t want to take the time to learn to cook and eat, nor did I want to make the time to do them either. If I made the time to cook, I figured I wouldn’t have time to do all the other things in my life. I soon understood this ridiculous thinking was making me fat. Thus, I learned to plan meals. Instead of running to the store 2-3 times a week, I started going on Sundays and cooking for the week Sunday night. When you know exactly how much you’re going to eat each week (42 proteins, 21 carbs, 14 fats), it’s easy to buy exactly what you need and prepare it for your meals.

What’s your go-to meal?

4. Change your environment.

I had to honestly look at my surroundings and make some hard decisions. These affected my husband and daughter as well. I stuffed all the “bad foods” into the bottom of the pantry, making them hard to find and harder to reach. Eventually, my family decided to get rid of them altogether. I put the bikes in the front of the garage instead of behind the trash cans, I pulled the hand weights out of the closet and put them next to the couch, and I stopped buying my trigger foods even though they were “good” foods on the list. No more chocolate, cheese, or tortillas.

How can you change up your kitchen?

5. Rearrange your friends.

My friendship circles changed. Rather than “grab a bite,” I started asking them to do things with me. We started taking walks, attending exercise classes and trying new hobbies. My “go out to dinner” budget turned into an “fun and exercise” budget. I built strategies around scenarios with relatives and work colleagues I wouldn’t be able to avoid so that I stuck to the plan and continued my weight loss. At work meetings, I brought my own snacks; after conversations with difficult people, I’d go for a walk instead of reach for chips.

Who can be your walking buddy?

Remember your Intrinsic Goals

Losing 32 pounds was never easy. The entire time I had to go back to my intrinsic goal for why I wanted to lose the weight. I looked at the history of weight loss in my family and all the baggage that went with it, and I vowed I didn’t want to pass that on to my 15-year-old daughter. Thus, I wrote this down:

“My intrinsic value is to be a role model for my daughter to be a healthy, fit mom, who, when’s she’s 75, is not still counting calories and trying to lose weight.”

Tricks that Help

I learned a few tips and tricks along the way and fashioned a few of my own State of Slim friendly recipes.

1. Get to love non-fat Greek Yogurt.

As a vegetarian, following the State of Slim program was hard. I did chose to eat fish along the way because SOS doesn’t “allow” the traditional combining of rice and beans as a protein (that’s two carbs!) I’d buy Trader Joe’s Non Fat Greek Yogurt by the case, and I’d dash to Target for a Chobani if I ran out too soon. I finally learned how to make my own non fat Greek Yogurt with this recipe.

Homemade Non Fat Greek Yogurt (without a slow cooker or Instapot)

Bring a gallon of non fat milk to 180 degrees.
Cool to 130 degrees.
Add 1/4 Trader Joe’s Non Fat Greek Yogurt.
Let sit overnight.
Strain in a double cheese cloth.

Voila–8 cups of Trader Joe’s Non Fat Greek Yogurt for $2.60.

2. Add PB2 to yogurt and cottage cheese.

I loved both the original peanut butter flavor and the chocolate PB2. They were life savers. There are now new flavors, but I haven’t tried them. These are not a substitute for protein powders (which I don’t like), but they add good flavor and make yogurt a treat.

3. Make a sheet of veggies and shrimp as your go-to meal for when you don’t want to cook. Make this shrimp and veggie recipe by the sheet and keep in the fridge.

Shrimp and Veggies Sheet Dinner

Cut up a ton of veggies.
Add to a large zip lock bag.
Toss in soy sauce and your favorite seasonings.
Add frozen, headless, skinless shrimp (get giant frozen bags at your local Asian market, it’s super cheap).
Spread onto a cookie sheet.
Bake at 400 for 18 minutes.

4. Buy two dozen eggs at a time.

You’ll eat egg whites until you’re almost crazy. To tolerate them, add a dash of turmeric. In the morning, toss some riced cauliflower in a pan with a dash of water. Cook until soft. Add egg whites and turmeric, top with fresh tomato and green pepper.

5. Make pumpkin-carrot muffins as a great high-protein, carb snack.

Add to a bowl:
1/2 cup pumpkin (If it’s out of season, get it on Amazon.)
2 tbs PB2
4 egg whites
1/2 cup not fat Greek yogurt
1/2 shredded carrots

Mix. Add in
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Drop into muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

2 muffins equals 1 carb, 1 protein, and are phase 1, 2, and 3 friendly.

Success Forever

6 weeks out of the program, I have maintained my weight loss, I continue to exercise 420 minutes a week, and I constantly look for ways to stay out of my comfort zone. I’m still technically overweight by the charts, and maybe I’ll go for another ten pounds later this year. Or not. Never the less, I have no desire to eat the junk I used to eat, and I find ritual in cooking and eating clean and healthy. I am extremely happy, I feel great, and most of all, my daughter is taking note.

One Year Later: February 2019 Update to State of Slim

After the program ended in summer of 2018, I found it hard to figure out how to “safely” eat off the list. I hesitated to try anything that wasn’t list friendly, scared to death I’d gain weight. I vowed I would never weigh more than 5 pounds of where I ended my weight loss, and I watched the scale like a hawk. Eventually, I got to trust my hunger and my body. My weight fluctuated by a few pounds, and one time I did hit my 5 pounds over goal weight (after a vacation!)

When I jumped over my 5 pound limit, I went right onto Phase 1 for a few days and got the vacation weight off. Since then, I’ve maintained my program-ending weight with relative ease. I still exercise a ton; 3-4 classes a week and 16000 steps on 6 days of the week. I still eat a very clean diet, but I do eat ice cream and treats along the way. I consciously think about my food daily and adjust throughout the day or week to compensate for any treats or snacks.

Currently, I’m living in Santiago, Chile for a month. The foods I love in Colorado are hard to find, and the Santiago treats beckon my weak will power. I give myself the luxury of trying a local food every few days (empanadas anyone?), while at the same time, I have stuck to a daily exercise regiment. I know that without the exercise, I can’t enjoy the Chilean treats. And, I continue to jump out of my comfort zone. This week I’ve played ultimate Frisbee, attended an outdoor Zumba class, and signed up for a boxing class. I’m having the time of my life. And, my weight continues to stay low in my zone.

So after a year, I’m confident in my new life style.

You can do this, too. I know you can. What questions do you have?