Welcome to 'Keeping the Bulge at Bay'
This blog is designed to discuss the hardest part of losing weight...keeping it off! To understand my story and what my reasons are for creating this blog, please follow this link to my first post: "The REAL Beginning..." It's raw, real, and honest.
Hope you enjoy reading my posts, and please feel free to leave any feedback you may have!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall...Who’s the Fattest of Them All?!?

Why the Queen in ‘Snow White’ never asked this question instead, I may never know, but it is a sentiment that anyone struggling with their weight has coped with. The mirror can either be your best friend or your starkest enemy (personally, my mirror was my BFF last Thursday, and has been a bit of a b%@!h to me this week). Now I know that many of you who have never struggled with your weight do not understand this concept, but the mirror mine-as-well be as dreaded as the (dun, dun, dun) SCALE!

Allow me to explain…while maintaining or losing weight, one is very in tune with their body. Almost every time I step on the scale I know exactly what it is going to say. If I’m feeling and looking a bit heavier-the number is up, and when I’m thinking I’m the skinniest girl next to Barbie [excuse the obvious exaggeration ;) ] -the number tends to be lower. The knowledge of my body accompanied with my fair weathered friend, the mirror, seems to always dictate what I am going to see on the scale. When you think about it, it really isn’t rocket science after all…

However, there is a much more complicated mirror that exists out there-other people! No, I am not referring to what other people think about your weight loss. Rather, if you have lost a good amount of weight it is hard to place your body in relation to friends, family, or hell, even public in general! You tend to always think that you are one of the ‘bigger and fluffier’ people in the room, but in actuality, you probably aren't  anymore…

I find this ‘mirror’ of trying to figure out how big you are in comparison to others very difficult. Now, once again, those of you who have never had to lose weight probably are thinking-why does it matter what your body is like in comparison to others, you should love who you are and how far you’ve come? In actuality this ‘hippie’, ‘granola’, and ‘zen’ like sappiness is true, but if you had a point in your life where you were always conscious of being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) person in the room…then you would understand the need to try to figure out what size your body is in comparison to others now that your extra LBS have been served their eviction notice!

Trying to find where you belong is a form of self-assurance and is a way to seek a bit of inner affirmation that your hard work really is paying off! People who were once heavy always have a feeling that we could lose ‘a few more lbs,’ but in reality (reality in weight loss…never heard of it haha) that may not be the case. Why is it that most people who have always been a size 8 are more content and comfortable with being a size 8 than someone who has fought to be a size 8? Shouldn't I as a fairly newcomer to a size 8 be able to comfortably enjoy it as much as the person with size 8 seniority? Finding this comfort is much easier said than done…I am still trying to find comfort in my size 8 jeans...and my size 8 life.

We always want to be able to say, “I’m finally as skinny as [insert name of your skinny, beautiful, popular friend here] is…”, but somehow, we are never actually able to admit that we ARE as skinny as she is when we get there! I may borrow a pair of jeans from my friend and have them fit perfectly but I will still think she is skinnier than me. It is the dreaded mirror of weight loss that does this to me! I try to battle this by reflecting on my accomplishments often, staying on track (makes you feel better about your body) and trying to think about my new size rationally among my friends (rationality-another thing that doesn't exist in weight loss haha). Some days this works, and some days it doesn't, but overall the goal is to find genuine comfort in my new size and my new 'place' among my loved ones... 

It is very clear that the real mirror we fight is our heads… With this said however, I vow that one day I will concur both the mirror on the wall and the one in my head; either that, or I’ll break that god damned mirror and have 7 years of back luck…who wants that?

How do you all cope with finding your place within the ‘mirror’ of friends/family who have always been smaller than you, but are now around the same size?

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay!

PS-Here is a website where you enter your height, weight, pant/shirt size, and body type to see other people who meet the same profile…it is a great tool to mentally place your body in relation to others! http://www.mybodygallery.com/photos-8959-body-shape.htm

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maintenance: The One Celebration That Doesn’t Include A Meal Selection…

Today is a classic day where I’m hopping back onto the ‘Healthy Wagon’ after enjoying the ‘fruits’ of my sister’s wedding (I swear, I did eat some fruit), while not regretting one crumb or calorie I happily consumed. However, enjoying a wedding to the fullest is an example of where the mental game that exists with maintenance will likely rears its ugly head (and, for me, its head is in the shape of a large platter of cheese, crackers, and any kind of hors d'oeuvre followed by a good ole helping of guilt!).

Maintenance has a tendency to be a bit of a roller coaster for many people. For example, I went from weighing the least I have ever weighed, 149.8 lbs, (and buying the smallest sized dress I’ve ever bought) to eating to my heart’s content in just one week! The highs and lows from this can be tough to deal with, however, the key to maintenance is to always get back on track, no matter what!

If this means that you have to freeze all the left overs that your generous family sends home with you so that you will only have them accessible for when guests come over-then do it! (Insert my stuffed freezer full of leftover pastries from what seemed like a bakery shop's full week worth of sales just for my sister’s post wedding brunch). 

My Sister's Post-Wedding Brunch: Pastry Heaven!...(now deep in my freezer)

Do what you need to do to get back on track-freeze the food, throw it out, have your loved ones hide it from you, or even give it to your skinniest friends so that they can ‘fluffen’ up a bit haha-you must do what is right for you in order to get yourself back on track.

Depriving yourself during moments like a wedding where it (hopefully-haha) only happens once in your loved one’s life isn’t true maintenance (and I was so happy to see that a few of you commented on previous posts with this sentiment as well!).

You can’t get mad at yourself for allowing yourself to enjoy these moments! Yes, it may be frustrating that food is the centerpiece to every celebration that practically exists-but don’t allow it to surround the biggest celebration of all-your weight loss! Take moments to remember how far you’ve come and that a few meals, or even few days of just enjoying life and the treats that come along with it, (like the three day affair I just had with pastries, cheese, and buffets) won’t cause you to gain the weight back...

Here are two pictures that I took to show myself how far I’ve come-these serve as a reminder that a few unhealthy, or even ‘normal’ meals, will not send me back to that-I'm a new person now, and that old 260 LB-er is gone forever! This is the one constant celebration that doesn't come with a meal selection or congratulatory dessert!

The dress shown was my prom dress from senior year in high school in 2005. It was a size 22…the dress I bought for my sister's rehearsal dinner is a size 6! 

(Note, this dress is actually a wedding dress-they didn't have any prom dresses in my size so I actually had to buy a wedding dress...you never forget unsettling moments like these...)

As long as you don’t allow your few days of indulgence to turn into a few weeks-you will continue to maintain. Celebrate the accomplishments you have had in your weight loss-celebrating these will help you get back on track and will remind you that you are far from the person you used to be!

During maintenance you have to loosen up a bit, and enjoy a freaken slice of cake once in a while! One slice of cake won’t make you fluffy again, however, the entire cake in a whole other story...

What do you do to remind yourselves of how far you have come, and that you are allowed to enjoy treats sometimes?

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foodie Festivities & Pastry Parties…

As a person who has continuously struggled with their weight, I’ve always wondered, why do celebrations have to surround around food?!? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m Italian! I’ve been born and bred to genuinely believe the more food put on your plate by your family members is a physical manifestation of the amount they love you-and let me tell you, they love me A LOT!

But have you ever asked yourself, why do celebrations have to surround themselves around something that some of us struggle with daily? Trust me, I love traditions and festivities just the way they are-because honestly, who wants to celebrate Christmas by running a marathon instead of eating a nice ham-kudos to those of you who do (and no-not the chocolate kind of Kudos)! However, these celebrations can mentally be a very difficult struggle for people who toil with their weight.

With this being said, it can be hard to make people understand that ‘just having one cupcake’ or ‘just trying a couple appetizers’ is not the same for us fluffy (my favorite word instead of fat) fighters as it is for you ‘normal’ folk. Needing to tap into your will power to avoid consuming copious amounts of these celebratory delights is an understatement-it can nearly be impossible...

For example, this past weekend was my sister’s bachelorette party. As one of her maid of honors, it was our job to set it up and arrange everything. She wanted to go to a dueling piano restaurant/bar and have everyone stay over close by. This sounds like a really fun time, however anyone who struggles with their weight sees and hears a different description of the night’s festivities; here is the description that I hear: “OH $#!T, ok, so this means-pizza, cupcakes, champagne, cookies, chips, candy, booze at the bar, AKA a diet disaster!"

Me, my sister Becky, and other Maid of Honor (also named) Rachel!

Armed and ready for battle, I brought a 100 Calorie Mini Muffin pack to try to avoid eating the cupcakes, not to mention everything else! Well guess what was the only thing left the next morning, my 100 Calories Mini Muffins...why I thought little coffee cake mini muffins would have an armor of steel, I may never know…

(Other) Rachel's Amazing Cupcakes!
Thank god, no pictures were taken of all the other food haha!

Celebrations of all sorts including holidays, birthdays, weddings, nights out, anniversaries, etc. all tend to surround around food which can be more frustrating than a skinny girl calling herself fat! There is no one magical solution for everyone that has to tackle the food frenzy at celebrations. However, I tend to feel that planning ahead and being conscious of your choices is the best preparation one can have. For example, yes I splurged and ate a good amount at my sister’s bachelorette, but I was good every other day that week and only drank water at the bar (I don’t drink alcohol anymore because I am a true foodie at heart and would rather chew my calories then drink them hehe). I also made sure there were healthy options for me to indulge on at the party as well…veggies with fat-free dip-when in doubt, dip away!

Now with her wedding a week from today, I am already mentally gearing up for the rehearsal dinner, day of festivities, AND, the morning after brunch. This all equals-food, food, and MORE FOOD! All I can expect from myself is to try my hardest to not over indulge,  while allowing myself to enjoy the true celebrations occurring: the marriage of my sister to her soon to be husband, and that the type of cake they chose I don’t like!

You see how I TRY to handle this...how do you all realistically tackle food centered celebrations?!? :)

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Maneuvering through Motivations…

Everything in life is made easier with motivations…why else would a pot of gold be at the end of that gosh darn rainbow, right? Everyone knows that weight loss should be its own reward, but wouldn’t it be nicer if there was a pot of gold (and, no, I’m not referring to gold chocolate coins) when you reached and maintained goal weight?

Staying motivated constantly is a very hard thing to do in any aspect of life, especially when it comes to your weight. One can constantly remind themselves that being healthy is a gift that is immeasurable in any other form, however, add years upon years of losing weight or maintaining weight loss to the picture, and those original motivation factors may begin to wane.

What keeps people motivated is different for everyone. For example, I am getting married in September and I want to ensure that I am the skinniest I have ever been on that day (shocker right! Like I’m the only bride-to-be that has salivated over this pipe-dream!  haha). This is a great motivating factor to stay healthy between now and then, but what about after I’m married? I am the type of person that always needs a goal to work towards. Yes, health is the ultimate goal, but fitting into a size 4 wouldn’t hurt either!

There was one key moment I remember during my weight loss. When I was in the 211-217 lb range (a tough range for me to conquer), I remember thinking, ‘if I get to 180 I will look like a bombshell and I’ll start maintaining!’ However, of course, when I finally got to 180 I didn’t look at all like what I thought I was going to. Now I’m around 150 and am just beginning to look the way I thought I was going to at 180 (and no, I am not calling myself a bombshell by any means haha). I still want to lose a couple more L-B’s, but the visual thought of what I wanted to look like motivated me through the difficult times, the hard times, and frankly, the times that were more frustrating than squeezing into a pair of spanx that are two sizes too small!

However, now that I’ve been solidified in the maintaining stage for over two years, I find myself still having to find motivation in the craziest places to keep this voyage trucking along. For example, every time I notice that a part of my body looks ‘skinny’ it is a great motivating factor to, even if for only one day, keep me on track and eating healthy (adversely, noticing this has occasionally dragged me to the dark side where I have Satan saying-see, you’re healthy-have a cupcake…or four…). Either way, noticing these accomplishments have generally been the small daily motivators that keep me driving on the veggie and fruit highway without taking the exit to ‘Sugar Land’ (sometimes the car takes the exit itself, I swear it’s not my fault!).

As stated above, a wedding in September (and oh ya, being in three weddings before that!) is an easy and obvious motivator; but I wonder what motivator will keep me propelling forward 25 years from now…maybe that pot of gold that I’m sure will appear on my doorstep when I turn 50 and am still in a healthy weight range?!?

What motivates you to maintain or lose today, tomorrow, and ten years from now?

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay…

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Too Tired, Too Busy, Too Stressed, Too Sick…

I don’t know about you, but sometimes working out can be quite a drag. Therefore, some of us tend to find any excuse in the book to avoid working out-I’m… too busy…too tired…too stressed…too sick... (sometimes too sick is true though-I worked out last Thursday and have been sounding and feeling like a leathery old smoker with all the hacking and coughing ever since-pleasant thought, no?)

I am the type of person that loves physical activities that have working out hiding in them. For example, kayaking, hiking, snow-shoeing, swimming, volleyball, etc. These activities have the dreaded word 'workout' camouflaged within them. There is nothing more that I HATE than having to act like a gerbil by running on a machine that never allows you to actually GET ANYWHERE! But the activities listed previously have always been part of my routine and will be forever-I love them! However, they aren't activities that can easily be done daily. As you will see, my daily workout regimens have evolved more than even Darwin could imagine…allow me to explain….
  • I used to run at least a 5k four times a week (outside only of course-no treadmills for me!). However, due to my height (about 5'10'') my knees are not strong enough for me to continue being a ‘runner.’ I did love running (especially formal road races), but one knee surgery later and a pending second on the horizon, has forced me to find alternate ways to exercise.
  • The gym…oh god, the gym. I have had memberships to over four different gyms and have gone on and off to each of them at different times over about a 4 to 5 year period. However, I can now freely admit (and let me tell you it took a lot of self-reflection to be able to admit this to myself...) I HATE the gym! It is the whole additional ‘work’ part of working out that I don’t like. Having to make it a job to grab my water bottle, iPod, towel, head phones, keys, and wallet; then actually DRIVE all the way to the gym. Hell, I hate the commute to work and they PAY me to be there-I definitely am not going to like a ‘commute’ to the place where I PAY them to allow me to use their gerbil wheels. This is not fun for me and is too much ‘extra work’ to add to the physical work that I want and need to get.
  • Yoga by video. I have never tried yoga in a studio before because I’m too nervous to go to a class and look like an idiot, or have the room silent and I am the one that will suddenly fart or something (probably a ridiculous fear but, hey-it is what it is haha) Yoga by video was not my thing...but I am open to other forms of yoga-I feel like I would like them-eventually I will try them...someday ;)
  • Nothing. For the first few months of my first ‘adult’ job, I would do hikes or walks on the weekends; but certainly nothing on a regular, daily, basis. To add insult to injury, I sit at a desk all day-five days a week and it caused me to be too tired (insert excuse here) to want to drag my ass to the gym to swim or pretend I am a proverbial rodent running on a wheel. I am very strict on my eating so I wasn’t really gaining weight, but I was getting (and continue to get) headaches from sitting alllllll dayyyyy lonnnnnnnnnng. My doctor told me frankly that I have to get up and move around more during the day. This led me to find the workout that I LOVE….
  • I LOVE WORK OUT VIDEOS!! I am currently doing the ‘Supreme 90 Day’ Workout (only $10 from Bed Bath & Beyond-who would of thought?!?). But I do it at a healthy pace for me. This means I try to do it 4 or 5 days a week, however I have NOT been that successful lately because I'm sick...I know, it's an excuse...but I'm feeling a bit better today and am planning on starting back up tomorrow!
          These videos work for me because I am ‘home’ up until the second I start, and can go do the dishes or eat dinner the second I am done. Essentially, there is no ‘extra commute’ to work out via video, thank god!
    I have only been doing work out videos for a couple of months now, but I do have to say that I thoroughly enjoy them. I feel like I am getting a personal trainer for free! I should note however, this works for me because I am very regimented and a self-motivator [most of the time… ;) ] When the guy in the video says “only you cheat yourself...work harder, who wants this healthy body more?!?” I sometimes literally say out loud-I WANT IT MORE!!!

Working out is about finding the right thing that will work for you. There are millions of ways to get some good physical activity incorporated into your day. However, there is not one perfect solution for everyone. What one person hates, another person loves. And if you are like me, someone who did not grow up as an athletic individual, it may take you awhile to find what works best for you and your lifestyle (note: this workout may change as your life changes as well). I don’t always have a great workout, and if I miss a work out (or five), I just try to get back on board.

It's the same as eating poorly for a few days then having to start to eat healthy again. As hard as it may be to start back up, for maintenance it is necessary. It's hard, even excruciatingly hard sometimes for me to get back to working out regularly; but at the end of the day-I am accountable to no one but myself.
Only I know whether I am doing my best or not, and trust me, I WANT IT MORE!

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay…