Fat as Hell…

and not going to take it anymore!

I’m Done Whining (for the moment , anyway).

I’m what I’ve heard some people refer to as an “apple” shaped person: in other words, most of my fat is stored in the stomach/abdominal area of my body — which I’ve also heard/read is the most unhealthy spot for fat to be stored on a person’s body. (Ooh! Lucky me!) It’s always been that way. Even when I was smaller than I am now, I had a big tummy. So, I know that *this* weight, the bulk around my waist, will be the most difficult for me to lose.

Perhaps that’s why this article is so interesting to me. In a nutshell:

In a study of obese adults at risk of heart disease, researchers found that those who trimmed calories and increased their whole-grain intake shed more belly fat and lowered their blood levels of C-reactive protein or CRP.

CRP is a marker of chronic, low-level inflammation in the blood vessels, and both abdominal fat and CRP, in excess, are linked to heart attack and stroke.

The article goes on to say…

All of the study participants cut calories for 12 weeks, but half were instructed to strive for whole grains, while the rest were told to choose refined grains. The whole-grain group was told to look for products with “whole grain” listed as the first ingredient on the label.

In the end, the average weight loss was about 8 to 11 pounds in both groups. However, the average CRP level dropped by 38 percent in the whole-grain group, while remaining unchanged in the refined-grain group. In addition, while both groups showed a similar change in waistline size, the whole-grain dieters showed a greater reduction in the percentage of fat around the middle.

I know that I am already including more whole grain in my diet than I ever have before, but as Kathy pointed out in an earlier post, it’s not always easy to figure out what is really whole grain and what’s just a refined grain in sheep’s clothing, as it were. I’m no nutritional guru. What the hell do I know about whole vs. non whole grains? The truth is, until I did a little research, I didn’t even know what a whole grain technically was. I knew that, supposedly, I was supposed to eat more of them, but I couldn’t tell you why.

Until now that is! :)

I love the Mayo Clinic and their litany of online resources for people, obese and otherwise, who just want to live a healthier life. For being one of the most respected medical centers in the world, their site manages to be full of information in real language for real people. When I read the information there, I don’t feel like I’m reading a medical journal and yet, I don’t feel as though I’m being “talked down to” either. Anyway, here’s what they say about whole grains:

Whole grains haven’t had their bran and germ removed by milling, making them better sources of fiber — the part of plant-based foods that your body doesn’t digest. Among many health benefits, a high-fiber diet also tends to make a meal feel more filling and linger longer, so you stay full for a greater amount of time.

Refined grains, such as white rice or white flour, have both the bran and germ removed from the grain. Although vitamins and minerals are added back into refined grains after the milling process, they still don’t have as many nutrients as whole grains do, and they don’t provide as much fiber.

And then they provide some *real* examples which is exactly what someone like me needs:

whole-grains.jpg

Here’s the thing: this whole losing weight and getting healthy thing is new to me. I’ve literally spent my entire life either a) not caring anything about that or b) not knowing enough about the how and the why of it to do anything about it. Even now, I feel as though while so many of you, the bloggers that I read every day, are in the nutritional equivalent of the gifted class, that I’m still riding the proverbial short bus to nutrition school. Most days I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.

But then there are other days, like today, when I learn something new about my body and how to treat it. And learning is so powerful. Just by adding a little something new to my arsenal of knowledge, I feel better prepared to negotiate the fight ahead.

What’s more, I think that’s part of what makes this whole blogging thing so powerful. Yes… the support is truly crucial. I mean, these last couple of weeks have been really hard for me, and I’m here to tell you that, as many mistakes as I have made over the last several days, the limited willpower I was able to exert was, in large part, due to the support and camaraderie that I get here.

That said, though, another crucial component in all of this is the sheer amount of knowledge that I get from reading what all of you post each day. I can’t tell you how often I find, while perusing my ever growing list of weight-loss related blogs, a web of links and tags and shout outs in which people credit and thank one another for sharing something that inspired, moved or taught them something.

We do more than just depend on each other… more often than not, we learn from one another, and now, even though I’m relatively new to the blogging world, I can’t imagine doing this without that amazing resource. It’s a powerful thing we’ve got going on here girls (and guys!) and I’m proud to be a part of it.

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February 21, 2008 Posted by | health | , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Nutritional Habits Checklist

I ran across this article on another blog and it got me thinking about the ways in which we measure success. I don’t know about you, but recently, I’ve been living (and dying) by the scale — weighing every day and judging my success entirely on whatever number appeared that morning. Don’t get me wrong… I haven’t stopped wanting and needing to lose weight. I’m just also coming to terms with the fact that there are other ways to measure my success. To that end, I think I need to set some non-weight related goals for myself and I think I need to start being equally proud of meeting them as I am when I take off a pound or two. After all, if I’m really being honest when I say that this is about more than losing weight, that it’s about making the whole me healthy, than I need to start placing a higher value on things other than the number on the scale.Anyway, the article provides a checklist of sorts: a list of nutritional habits that help contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Here they are and my own assessment of how well I think I am doing at achieving each:

  • Don’t skip meals; plan for three meals each day: Hmmmm. I give myself a C+/B- on this. I often find it difficult not to skip breakfast and, sometimes, if I feel really guilty about the day before, I find it very tempting to fast.
  • Start reading food labels so you’ll become more aware of what you’re putting into your body: I give myself an A- in this category. I’ve become really good about reading the labels and checking the nutritional facts of restaurants before I go out so that I enter armed with info to help me make good choices. Of course, that doesn’t always mean that I make them. :)
  • Plan for healthier snack choices at work: A+ here. I don’t snack much at work, but I make sure my lunch contains healthy finger type foods so if I *want* a snack, I can take it out of my own lunch and avoid the pitfalls of the vending machine. In fact, since I started this job in August, I haven’t had a single item out of the dreaded vending machine. Go me!
  • Between lunch and dinner each day, aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables: This is a category where I definitely need more work. I adore veggies, but I have to force myself to eat fruit. I have been getting at least an apple in each day, but I’m not doing well beyond that. I give myself a C in this category.
  • Stop adding salt to foods: A+ here. I never reach for the salt shaker anymore.
  • Eat nothing after 8 p.m. A- in this category. I usually do a pretty good job of eating early. I realized a long time ago that eating late had contributed to my downfall.
  • Try a new food each week, to help you introduce more variety into your diet: I’m tempted to give myself an F in this category. I really need to branch out.
  • Eat less meat to reduce your fat and cholesterol intake: I’m working on this, but I still have a ways to go. The meat isn’t that much of a problem. I’m eating a lot more fish and poultry and very little red meat, but I still take in more fat than I’d like. However, I’m learning the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and trying to, at least, tip the scales so that I am taking in more of the former than the latter. There’s room for improvement here, however. B-
  • Make sure that your breads, cereals, pastas, and crackers are made with whole grains: I’m working on this too, but still have a ways to go. For me, this is one of the hardest ones. Frankly, I’m not eating a lot of starches right now, but I do when I do, I am not always good about making sure that they are made of whole grains. I definitely need to work on this. Grade C here.

The further along I travel on this journey the more I am reminded that this is not just about losing weight. This is about changing my whole life. When I set out to do this, I told myself, and meant it, that I would never, ever refer to this as a diet. I am not on a diet. I am turning my life around and living in a new way. By concentrating so solely on what the scale says recently I’ve done myself a disservice. I am more than just that number and the way I measure success must be based on more too. By looking at things like this nutritional checklist, I get a more complete look at the bigger picture. This coupled with keeping track of my progress not just as an eater, but as an exerciser, a thinker, a breather, a lover, a worker, a reader, a writer, a blogger, and all the other things that I am, can only help me as I attempt to make all aspects of my life better.

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments