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!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fluffy Fears and Rusty Revelations...

Ignore the visual you all might be given in about two seconds….I was taking a shower the other day (I warned you...) and had a mini revelation -I am who I am. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? But for anyone who has battled the bulge this is the most complicated, devilish statement that one attempts to absorb…EVER!

Allow me to explain further. I am who I am. Five little words that speak more volumes than the Library of Congress could even hold. We have strived to lose the weight, and are succeeding in maintaining that loss…but where do we draw the line? When is enough-enough? When is “only 5 lbs more” actually TOO much to lose? Where is the red light, the stop sign, the huge freaken brick wall that signifies the end of the weight loss road with a flashing orange sign saying ‘Maintenance This Way -->’?

As we all know, weight loss maintenance is 95% a mental game (maybe 94.6% but who needs exact stats anyways) and learning to cope with these issues is the main piece to the maintenance puzzle. However, beyond the games, it’s about accepting that enough is enough; I am who I am. I am healthy, and that is enough.

Yes, I am getting married in 141 days (but who’s counting) and I would like to be “5 lbs down” but, I am who I am. If I stay the weight I am right now forever, I will be happy. This weight is not a struggle, it’s not a fight, it is simply who I am. Maintaining weight is about being at a weight that is manageable. It’s about being at a place where you can balance a slice of cake with more veggies the next day. It’s about balancing your favorite physical activities one day with ‘vegging’ out on the couch another.

What maintaining weight is NOT about is counting every calorie going in your mouth and depriving yourself of the foods that you love. It’s NOT about crying because you can’t work out one day and consequently feel like you’re a healthy failure. And, it’s NOT about stepping on the scale every day to assess your weight loss successes and failures. We are healthy, we are who we are.

While taking that shower a few days ago (again, ignore the visual), I realized that if I can live life the way I do right now and can be the weight I am right now forever-I will be happy with that! As I washed my hair, I envisioned myself 20 years from now, the same size I am today-and I am more than happy with that. Yes, I waiver in this feeling and certainly fear that the fluff will come back; but a half-assed rusty revelation of future success and accepting myself just the way I am now is better than no revelation at all. I am who I am!

We are happy, we are healthy, and we all have flaws; but we are who we are-be happy, accepting, and content with just that! 

When was your ‘I am who I am’ revelation? Hopefully not everyone’s was in the shower like mine was-this isn't that kind of blog ;) haha

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Post Fluff-Flab...

There are many actions in life that have side effects which we have been warned like the plague about. Whether true or not, we have been told: don't swim until 30 minutes after eating to avoid a stomachache, don’t be naughty or Santa won’t bring you gifts, even, don’t drink too many margaritas or you’ll be praying to the porcelain gods rather than dancing the night away with your friends -not that I have experience with that one or anything…. ;)

Anyway, we either do or don’t do certain activities many times due to that activity’s side effects. With weight loss, people tend to believe that health, happiness, and strength are the only side effects to weight loss; but this is an epic LIE! Yes, these are fabulous side effects and are most certainly worth venturing down the journey of weight loss for, but there are also silent side effects to weight loss. These silent side effects come in the lovely form of loose skin (or just loose flub/fat remaining), stretch marks, and mental games that last forever! I have many times discussed the mental games that go along with weight issues, since frankly; they make up most of the problem that we find ourselves coping with. However, there are the physical reminders of loose skin/flub and residual stretch marks that stay with us forever as well…pleasant thought, no?

Now, I believe in 100% transparency in this blog! BUT, showing you my vaguely loose ‘flub’ and stretch marks from a stomach blown up with 110 more L-Bs then where I am today, is neither a sight I care to show, nor is it one you likely want to be blinded by haha. However, I’m one of the lucky ones. I lost my weight slowly, and consistently, so my body has adjusted quite well (...perfectly-hell no), but other people aren’t as lucky. Some suffer with drastic amounts of loose skin or parts of their body where the 'flub' just won't disappear.

With that being said, what inspired me to write about this topic was the picture below. I saw this picture a couple of weeks ago, and ever since then I have wanted to create this post. The picture below has been shared on Facebook by many women who have had children and are showing pride for their stretch marks from having been pregnant. It got me thinking about my own stretch marks—that don't exist from anything prideful like having a baby, but rather exist from the demise of being extraordinarily overweight…

I suppose if you look at the situation candidly, I earned my stripes too-with each pizza I consumed (yes, whole pizza-not just slices here people), each ice cream cone I licked, each hamburger I ate, and every mile I didn’t walk, every hike I didn’t take, and every river I didn’t kayak down. In reflecting on this, it can bring a thought of sadness that I allowed my body to get to that state. A state where my skin had to stretch beyond what it was humanly designed for just to be able to accommodate my extra weight.

I look at the above picture as a way for mothers to take ownership of the physical side effects that remain from a beautiful experience...

...and we weight loss conquerors should do the same!

As much as  I want tight arms, fit legs, and a stomach flat enough to bounce a quarter off of as if it were a soldier’s bunk, this may not realistically be in the cards for me (please excuse the toddler-like internal tantrum I’m having at this thought). Behind that loose skin and those tiger stripes used to be fat-and a lot of it. Today, I choose to take pride in my little bit of loose skin because that skin is no longer maxed out like a balloon about to burst from too much helium. Today, I choose to take pride in my tiger stripes! Though they’re certainly not pretty, they are battle wounds from a war that I have been winning for years now (can’t say I have won the war because the battle of the bulge never truly ends).

I am a Tiger (insert seductive, pouncing like-rawwwwwwr here) and though I am ultimately responsible for my stripes, I take ownership of them and am PROUD to take ownership of the healthy tigress I am today! I earned who I am today, and after all, you can't be a fierce tigress without stripes, right?!?

Love yourself, and surround yourself with people that love you exactly the way you are-tiger stripes and all!

What are other unknown side affects you have found to be difficult since losing weight? How do you choose to handle them?

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

‘If it Ain’t Broke…Fix it Anyways!'

As everyone knows, summer is right around the corner (unless you’re from New England where summer was a few weeks ago and now we’re thrown back into the thrusts of a cold spring). This is one of my favorite times of year when the trees begin to turn green again, when the flowers pop their little heads through the (currently dusty and dry) dirt, and when skinny people start to wear less clothing to make it that much more obvious that they are perfectly fit (I promise, I’m only mildly bitter...)

However this spring is going to be a different one for me. Just like mother natures recreates itself this time each year-I decided I am going to follow suit! I think throughout any process in life, especially the process of weight-loss and maintenance, we have to recreate ourselves occasionally to make sure we are the best we can be.

When we discover the foods that work at ‘keeping the bulge at bay’, many times we tend to stick to these foods and don’t seek out new alternatives… Maybe this is a hidden, and extremely late New Year’s Resolution, but I have to mix up my eating.

Recently I have done a mini evaluation of what I eat, and the results aren't good (sounds extremely scientific doesn't it?). Now don’t get me wrong, I eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, and try to always stay within my ‘points allowance’ each day-standard maintenance qualities per being an old Weight Watchers member that continues forging down the road of maintenance no longer going to WW meetings. However, in evaluating what I eat I realized that I eat wayyyy too many carbohydrates and wayyyy too little protein.

Part of maintenance is preserving and upholding the healthy body you have worked so hard for. The way I’ve been eating doesn’t exemplify this. For example, I would literally go days without having any protein at all (insert my box of whole wheat elbows lasting me for two and a half days’ worth of lunch and dinners [with cereal as my breakfast] while my hubby-to-be was away...I was literally living in carb paradise!)

Any way you look at it however, that is NOT HEALTHY! So in classic ‘Rachel’ fashion, I went 180* the opposite way and decided that I was going to do a low-carb, high-fat eating regimen called the ‘Wheat Belly.’ Now in an effort to be entirely transparent, I have never been a huge proponent of a low-carb diet. From a maintenance perspective-maintaining a lifestyle like that forever (which is the ultimate goal in maintenance) is nearly impossible (I digress, yes-some people are successful but I believe it's rare). Additionally, keeping with the total transparency thing here, I found ‘Wheat Belly’ because I have had some stomach issues that not one freaken doctor on this side of the Mississippi seem to be able to diagnose, even after quite the myriad of tests. Therefore, I decided I would cut out WHEAT all together hopefully resolving my stomach issues...Oh, did I forget to mention this all began just this past Monday evening!

Fast forward to today, where in the last three days I have been on, I think, roughly 3 different eating plans. On Tuesday, I went low-carb and high-fat everythinnnggg. Let’s just say my body couldn’t handle it-I felt like $#!T and ultimately ‘quit’ 23 hours into it and gorged on reduced fat crackers-an ugly site, likely comparable to a drug addict getting their much needed fix!

Wednesday is when the realization hit me like a ton of bricks (in the form of tiny pep talks from my fiancé and two of my best friends). They helped me remind myself that, “this is maintenance, moderation is key!” Moderation is key…if I had a nickel for every time I heard that I would have more money than those damn mega millions winners-but they're right! Not just hearing this concept but absorbing it is pertinent!

In an effort to find true moderation, I am going to drastically cut back on my wheat to see if it helps my stomach, but other than that I’m going to restructure my eating so that it is truly balanced.

For this reason, I have decided to rejoin Weight Watchers for two months (honestly, they’re running a deal right now that is pretty amazing and the couponer in me just can’t resist!) I want to learn their new plan. WW’s new plan takes into account: total carbs, total fat, fiber, and protein. The plan my current eating is structured around is only taking into account: calories, fat, and fiber. I believe that my body deserves, and needs, a more comprehensive and balanced diet.

In the weight loss world I consider myself an old dog, and this old dog is hell bent on learning some new tricks! My first meeting is tonight and I’m excited…I’m eager to learn as much as I can, hear other people’s stories, and just see what meetings and the plan are like now...years later. We all need a good swift kick in the butt every now and again, and tonight is going to be mine! Trust me, maintainers all know how to eat healthy, but a refresher course can never hurt...

I have long lived under the mantra of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it;’ but just because it ‘ain’t broke’ doesn’t mean that if you don’t try to tune it up, it won’t run better!

Here is a challenge I pose for each of you: evaluate what you’re eating! Yes, you may be successfully maintaining or losing weight, but is it from a balanced, healthy, diet? This is the one time to be a bit critical on yourself! Envision a nutritionist evaluating what your normal day-to-day eating is like, what would they say? [Only envision a nice, caring, thin/healthy nutritionist though ;) ….I hate nutritionists that give their ‘healthy advice’ but are extremely overweight themselves-so frustrating!] What did you find, and what would you consider changing? What tips would you lend to others struggling to find balance and moderation?

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

Friday, April 6, 2012

Prep-A-Plenty Potluck

Who doesn’t love a good ole potluck dinner? Well, I for one love them! My college friends and I try to have a potluck dinner at least once a month, and let me just say, they have made quite the upgrade from the college days of mismatched plates, no silverware, and practically using a tennis racket as a strainer (ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but let me tell you-desperate times called for desperate measures).

My fiancé and I hosted the most current potluck last Saturday and the food was beyond delectable…salad with candied pecans, homemade tomato bisque, hotdog and bean casserole, tomato and mozzarella pasta  salad, tons of bread (three different loaves-a carbaholic's dream), veggies and dip, and lasagna cups-not to mention the Budweiser, Sam Adams, Guinness, and wine that was flowing like a river!

Knowing that the potluck was occurring that evening, I made sure to get a work out in during the day. Of course timing wise it occurred right when a few guys were arriving early to play cards… allow me to set the scene for you… envision me flat on my back in the living room, legs in a dreadful 90 degree angle with a stability ball in between going back and forth as fast as possible- all while three guys walk right in to begin playing setback with my fiancé …attractive thought right?...ooyvey!

My $9.99 version of P90X...I'm cheap, what can I say? (GREAT workouts though!)

Beyond working out, many of you have mentioned that if you don’t splurge once in a while, then it isn’t true maintenance and maintaining is going to be that much harder…and I absolutely agree! However, I have had a lot of ‘splurges’ lately (insert the three previous posts on coping with food coma from my sister’s wedding related festivities), therefore, this potluck was not the time to splurge. I will say however, I gave everything a try-and it was all devilishly good!

The key for me to eat healthy at what could be called a potluck ‘pound increaser,' is to ensure that there are things present that I can eat as much as I want of. To accomplish this feat I made sure there was a snack that I could munch on while preparing my main dish. This also is a little safety trick I have that keeps me from test-tasting everyone dishes before they hit the table (I mean, it’s someone’s job to make sure all the dishes are edible for human consumption, no?)

Here you can see the veggies and fat-free dip that I munched on while everyone was arriving (honestly, I started my veggie munch-o-mania long before people arrived but who needs to know that little detail...).

Now for my entrée, I found this recipe long ago and tried it for the first time at this gathering. Let me tell you, this recipe is going to be a staple in my weekly meals from now on-who doesn’t want lasagna that you can eat with your hands?!? And to make it even better,  I cut down the calories and fat even more than the recipe (fat free instead of reduced fat cheeses, extra lean ground turkey, and heart healthy low calorie pasta sauce).

Are you salivating yet?

I added a lot of veggies to the sauce to make it more ‘gusty’ and even that much more filling and healthy (two words that many dieters claim don’t coincide-FALSE!). This sauce, with all its gutsy splendor, is guaranteed to satisfy your stomach and your waist measurement!  (Add veggies to it that you like-the more you customize it to your taste, the more likely you are to stay on track.)

Two layers of  wontons, ricotta, sauce, and finally mozzarella cheese

I have learned recently that muffin and/or cupcake tins (I used cupcake tins) are really great ways to create innate PORTION CONTROL! You know exactly how much is in each cup (in my version of these lasagna cups there is about 120 calories per lasagna cup!!).

Final Product!!

They look good, taste good, and are good for you! -I know,  this sounds like an infomercial…and you, YES YOU-can make these amazing lasagna cups for a simple onetime payment of 9.95 ;)

Any who, after the potluck I took one to work with a side of yogurt to have as my lunch on Monday-it was fabulous and completely satisfying as a lunch too. However, my fiancé keeps referring to these as ‘amazing snacks’ (2 bites and one is gone)…trust me-he’s wrong (like all men are haha), but these are healthy enough that if you want more than one-you’re good to go…

Here is the link to the recipe I based my version off of: http://www.canyoustayfordinner.com/2010/11/04/petite-lasagnas/

Overall, just like in life, we must pick our battles. We all have battled our weight and are winning the war. However, there are daily battles we must choose to fight or to pass. Due to the mouth-watering indulgences I have allowed myself to have lately I decided the potluck was a time for me to fold the cards dealt to me rather then going all in. I filled my plate half with salad,  had very small portions of all the other delights that were present, and had two of my lasagna cups. Fill-up on what you know, and take small risks on what you are not sure about...this will undoubtedly lead to success.

Please share, what are some of your sure fire recipes that you lean on when you want to ‘be good’ at a meal or gathering? I have more recipes I will try to share with you all soon!

Until next time, keeping the bulge at bay…