Weight issues are a pain. There are no easy answers. What works for one person doesn’t always work for another. If you have been reading this blog for a while you will know that I have been struggling with my weight forever. I keep starting and stopping new exercise plans based on what my back and body can tolerate and I have been going up and down with my weight forever.
I have made two recent changes. The first change is I underwent nerve ablation in my lower back. The best way I can describe it is that a surgeon inserted needles into the area near the base of my spine and destroyed the pain sensing nerves. This has allowed me to move in ways I haven’t since my late teens. I feel twenty years younger and can finally sleep at night. To say it has been life changing may be overstating it, but barely.
The second change is that I am working with a dietitian and following a new nutrition plan. I have always known that I didn’t have the best eating habits, but I also thought they weren’t that bad. I also tended to modify them when I was really active, cutting calories to go along with my increased activities. That caused my yoyoing weight. As soon as I would stop either the reduced calories or the increased activity, my weight would shoot up. Then I would add calories or get injured and stop the activity. Then my weight would shoot up. No matter how motivated I would get, I would end up heavy again.
The dietitian, Valerie, started by giving me a health assessment to see what my habits were and what my physical challenges would be. This shed light on the first problem I had with my habits. I would drink a Slim Fast shake for breakfast, eat (I thought) a reasonable but large lunch, then eat a decent size dinner. I really didn’t snack during the day. I would try to walk or ride the bike depending on my back. The issue was that I was eating infrequently which was causing my body to go into conservation mode. To add to that, what I was eating was actually very calorie dense but easily converted to fat which my body was afraid to burn. I would eat two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit and yogurt parfait, grapes, an apple, and some pretzels for a typical lunch. I had no clue that I was well over 3000 calories just for lunch! Ooops.
One of the hesitations I had with any program was I didn’t want to end up on a fad diet. I know that some fad diets work, but it seems to me that most people end up putting the weight back on, especially if the diet is too restrictive. I completely understand that my definition of a fad might be someone else’s lifestyle, but I was nervous about that. I didn’t want something super restrictive or too hard to follow.
Valerie put me on a six meal a day plan using meal replacement for five of the meals to help me stay on target. The meal replacements are really good. They can be shakes or bars, but they can also be pasta, soup, cookies, or a lot of other options. These meals are fortified with vitamins, minerals, and some have probiotics to keep you healthy on the reduced calorie intake. The sixth meal is called a lean and green meal. It is 5-7 ounces of protein and three servings of veggies. Surprisingly, this is a lot of food! This schedule helps me to avoid being too hungry while helping my body to see that it is okay to burn the fat stores as more food will be here in two to three hours.
I really like this program. It fits with my lifestyle and it works. Most importantly, Valerie is functioning as a coach in this plan. We talk all the time and she offers support while providing some much needed accountability. We are both bowlers, so it gave us some common ground to start, but she is so open and personable that it is easy to talk to her about whatever I am working through on the program. The other important part of this program is it’s not a fad. The goal of the program is to get you healthy and then transition you back to whole foods. Once you hit your goal weight you begin the transition. The program teaches you how to eat through the lean and green meals. I really began to understand how poorly I was eating when I saw what the lean and green meals were offering.
This, coupled with finally being able to move pain free, has helped me feel better and have the best month of fitness I have had in a long time. I am down almost 35 pounds in the first four weeks of the program. The best part of this is the fact that I am learning how to keep it off for the first time. I will go into much more detail in upcoming blog posts about what I am doing and how the program is working, but I wanted to update everyone so they would know that I am still here and still trying to get this all figured out!