Losing Weight After Forty–An Update

Lose WeightWhat is the best way to lose weight after forty?  While maintaining optimal health?  And then keeping it off?  It has now been 4 months since I committed to the Take Shape for Life (TSFL) plan.  Let’s bring you up to date!

Take Shape for Life

In 2003, Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson teamed up with Medifast to create Take Shape for Life, a coaching division of Medifast.  Medifast (now branded Optavia) makes meal replacements—supplied through a health coach.

If Medifast sounds familiar, you might remember the Medifast meal replacement program that was available through a doctor’s prescription.  It’s been around since the 1980’s.  I remember hearing about it as a product used only by people with a lot of weight to lose, under a doctor’s supervision.

The weight loss phase of TSFL is called the “5 & 1” plan.  You eat 6 daily meals—1 that is “fresh” and prepared by you, 5 that are prepackaged foods in envelopes.  These prepackaged, interchangeable foods are called “fuelings.”

The low glycemic, low carb, and low-fat eating plan is nutritionally balanced.  The program produces a quick loss of 3 to 5 pounds in the first week.  Then, after the first week, a healthy 1- to a 2-pound loss per week.  (Note:  this varies depending on your starting weight.)

Month 1

My starting weight was 147.5 (I am 5’3”).  By the end of the first month, I had lost 8 pounds.  The weight loss was AWESOME!  It felt great to be in control of at least one part of my life!

But that wasn’t my only victory.  I went an entire month without alcohol.  No small feat!

Except for one premenstrual day at the beginning of the diet, I didn’t feel overly hungry.  And the prepackaged food was easy and quick to pack.  Eventually, I adjusted to the food and looked forward to eating it.

Warning:  the food packs a 100% daily recommended amount of vitamin K.  For most people this is great!  And your daily vegetables will add more.

Because I take Coumadin, this was a big negative!  I had to greatly increase my dosage.

Also, I noticed some “brain fog” and fatigue in the first week.  But those diminished over time.

And then there is a cost.  This program is not cheap.  The food for the weight loss part of the program is around $400/month.

(Note:  I had stated in previous posts that this was a sugar-free diet.  IT IS NOT.  I have been reading the ingredient lists and, while there are artificial sweeteners, there is also fructose—sugar.)

Month 2

I weigh myself daily.  And because of this, the second month was rewarding as well.  I lost an additional 5 pounds, and this through Thanksgiving.  The program was more and more just a habit with less struggle than the first month.

Month 3

This third month covered the holidays and my last day of employment at my employer of 24 years.  I lost only 2 additional pounds.  However, I had made the conscious choice that I was going to add some alcohol back in for the holidays—even if it meant less weight loss.  After all, this is a lifetime habit I am forming.

My total loss at the end of the 3rd month:  15 pounds.

Month 4

So far I have lost an additional 4 pounds this month—with a week remaining.  After sleeping much of the Christmas week due to illness, I got refocused and am now only 3 pounds from my goal weight.

In total, I have lost 19 pounds in less than 4 months.  I feel great!

It is almost time for me to enter the “transition” phase of the program—3 Optavia meals a day and 3 meals that I prepare.

Fears and Concerns

I still have fear about this diet.  Will I be able to maintain this loss?  On this diet, I hardly ever felt full.  Will I be able to stick with the habit of not eating until satiety?

Will I fall back into old patterns?  Will the taste of real food be so good that I just can’t stop eating it?

And my biggest fear:  did I slow down my metabolism in this weight loss cycle?

Conclusion

For weight loss, the Take Shape for Life program definitely works.  I am thrilled with my weight loss in this first 4 months with the 5-and-1 phase!

And I LOVE the ease of the prepackaged meals.  After I got used to them—I look forward to eating them every day!  (For anyone considering trying this diet, I recommend you read about my first week in detail here. )

With the support of a health coach and the subsequent phases of TSFL, can I make this a way of life?  I am optimistic!

Stay tuned!

Finding Your Next (Awesome!) Job

finding your next jobYour job has been eliminated.  Or you were fired.  Or your company has run into some difficulties and has laid off workers.  What do you do when you haven’t looked for employment in over 20 years?  Where do you start?  With the advent of networking platforms like LinkedIn and job boards like Indeed and  Monster, there seems to be plenty of help to connect the right applicant to their best job.  So let’s get started on your plan for finding your next awesome job!

Step #1

First, get your story straight!  What is the story that you are telling yourself?  Is it a positive story like:  “Yeah!  I get to start a whole new adventure!”  Or, “I can’t wait to work for someone who appreciates my value and contributions!”

Perhaps you are telling yourself fear-stories.  “I am too old to start again!”  Or, “what am I going to do if I can’t pay my bills?”

Are you angry at your previous employer?  What will you do with that strong emotion?  It is VITAL that you vent that anger safely so as to NOT burn any bridges.  But also, at some point, you need to choose to tell yourself a positive story about your old job—for your sake.

Like, “I learned so much over the years at Company A.  They supported me through so much.  I am grateful for the opportunity of working for Company A.”

The situation is what it is.  Forgive, accept, look ahead.

Step #2

Losing a job is never easy.  Getting eliminated after years at the same company is even more challenging.  It can be a loss akin to death or divorce.  And, depending on your finances, it can be incredibly stressful!

Priority one:  take care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  If you don’t have your shit together, you won’t have anything to offer a new employer.

So start each day with prayer.  Or read the bible.   If you are Catholic, go to daily mass.  Just connect yourself to God.

Next, find your support network.  Your tribe.  Make lunch dates or coffee dates.  Catch up with old friends and relatives.  Some people withdraw while grieving the loss of a job.  Don’t.

Move.  Get exercise.  Clean, do yard work or walk the mall.  But move!  Exercise reduces stress and increases feel-good hormones.

And, eat healthily.  Avoid alcohol, it’s a natural depressant.

Step #3

Establish a routine.  When you had a job, you likely kept a schedule.  And you had people (your customers or boss) that guided your activities and focus.  Now you have to give yourself a structure to work within.

Plan at least a day ahead—preferably a week.  Will you get up at the same time?  Are you most productive in the morning or the evening?  Do your most demanding work when you are at your most effective, if possible.

And set daily goals.  Will you make 5 phone calls a day?  Or dedicate 2 hours a day to enhancing your skills/learning?  At the beginning of each day, ask yourself “what would make today a successful day for me?”  Write it down.  Then focus.

Step #4

Meet with consulting and/or placement companies to connect with those people that specialize in filling positions.  They have the pulse of your local market and how to market yourself.  But be prepared to answer the question:  what do you WANT to do?

I have jokingly said to others, “If I knew what I wanted to do—I would have done it already!”  No small feat!

But seriously.  Peter Drucker in his booklet “Managing Oneself” states that you should stop spending time on things that you are not good at.  In other words, play to your strengths—you will be more successful.  Great advice!

The good news is that you just need to know what you want to do for now.  You can always pivot or adjust as needed.

Step #5

Next, lay your job search foundation.  Is your resume up-to-date?  Does it reflect well on you?  Do you have an online portfolio/presence on LinkedIn that will help you to sell yourself?

To prepare for your time with a consultant or outplacement company, gather your “accomplishments” and skills to bring your resume up to date.  Do you have awards that you’ve won?  Presentations you’ve given?

To enhance your LinkedIn profile, reach out to your network for recommendations, update and add to your skills list and consider joining relevant groups.  Post articles with your commentary added to give potential employers a taste of your values.

Step #6

Assess your experience and skills.  Do you have any knowledge “holes” that need filling?  Or certifications that you need to obtain?

This is where Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy, and Udacity come in handy.  There are many inexpensive places like these online to get training.

Set some goals and then do the work.

Step #7

Network, network, network!  Most opportunities come from relationships.  Period.  This hasn’t changed in the last 24 years.  The last time I looked for a job, I didn’t have a network.  I had to create one from scratch with informational interviews.  But for the last few years, I’ve been doing regular care and feeding of my LinkedIn network.

Do you have a LinkedIn profile?  With a professional photo of yourself?  Have you been tending to your network?  If not, you will just have to build your contacts.  Opinions vary on when you should “link” to a business contact on LinkedIn.  But LinkedIn recommends that you should know someone before linking.

After several years, my profile has over 700 connections.

Honestly, I don’t remember all my contacts anymore.  But now is the time to reconnect, prioritizing the closest ones first.

Step #8

Find a friend who will act as the interviewer and practice interviewing.  There are endless lists of questions (just Google “interview questions”) published to interview candidates.  Are you ready to answer them?

It is important to remain genuine (this leads to trust) so you don’t want to memorize responses.  But, you do want to think through possible answers.

Perhaps more importantly, before each interview, you need to do your homework.  The internet is a beautiful thing.  Make sure you have a good handle on what the company does and what you might be able to contribute.

Better still, prepare some questions to ask.  Leo Tolstoy said it best:

“If you want to be a clever person, you have to learn how to ask cleverly, how to listen attentively, how to respond quietly, and how to stop talking when there is nothing more to say.” 

Results

Finally, if you work your plan, you will get results.

My job was eliminated a few weeks ago.  My last day with my employer is next week.  I am working my plan and will have regular updates as I begin this latest adventure!

 

Over Fifty and Unemployed

Over the years, I doled out my fair share of “pink slips” when budget shortfalls required.  (Usually around Christmas.)  This happy little event involved stomach clenching conversations.  With each employee, a human resources (HR) representative in attendance, I told each employee the bad news.  Sometimes there were tears.  Always there was shock.

So, when my manager and I met for our one-on-one last week, and he said that Matt from HR was outside my office, I knew what was coming.

My boss had eliminated my job.

It didn’t feel that different on the receiving end.  My stomach still clenched.

But…another feeling bubbled underneath the shock.

Relief?

Downsizing Preparation

I had been planning for this day for almost 2 years.

When we got a new CTO (Chief Technology Officer), my “Vice President” title put a target on my back.

So, I had downsized.  I cut the square footage of my home in half—reducing most house expenses in half.  I switched into “savings” mode.

The new CTO lit a fire under the entire IT department.  His breath-catching digital vision required significant training.  As a long-time veteran of an outdated IT department, I had a lot of catching up to do!

I had taken a Coursera course in Data Science before the new CTO, thinking that might be a career option for me.  When the new CTO came in, I switched to learning the courses he recommended.  I learned about ITIL (and am working on certification) and agile, software-as-a-service and exponential organization concepts.

Recently, I had begun work with a health coach to lose weight.  As a result, I’ve lost 10 pounds with only 10 more until goal weight.  Now I can search for a job in terrific health and feel confident projecting the best version of me.

Facing My Fear

As the primary supporter of my family—I am terrified.

But as a woman who hasn’t felt energized about my job for a while, I am excited about this next adventure.  I have faith in God.  I know that He will provide.

My prayer:

God, please open the doors that need to be opened and

close those that need to be closed.

Best Way to Lose Weight after Forty?

weight lossWhat’s the best way to lose weight after forty?  While maintaining optimal health?  And then keep it off?  I committed to one month of the Take Shape for Life (TSFL) plan to see how it works.

 

The Take Shape for Life Program

In 2003, Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson teamed up with Medifast to create Take Shape for Life, a coaching division of Medifast.  Medifast (now branded Optavia) meal replacements are supplied through your TSFL health coach.

If Medifast sounds familiar, you might remember the Medifast meal replacement program that was available through a doctor’s prescription.  It’s been around since the 1980’s.  I remember hearing about it as a product used only by people with a lot of weight to lose, under a doctor’s supervision.

The weight loss phase of TSFL is called the “5 & 1” plan.  You eat 6 daily meals—1 that is “fresh” and prepared by you, 5 that are prepackaged foods in envelopes.  These prepackaged, interchangeable foods are called “fuelings.”

The low glycemic, low carb, and low-fat eating plan is nutritionally balanced.  The program generally produces a quick 3 to 5 pound loss in the first week.  Then, after the first week, a healthy 1- to a 2-pound loss per week.  (Note:  this varies depending on your starting weight.)

Week 1

For anyone considering trying this diet, I recommend you read about my first week in detail here.

As with any diet, there are pros and cons.  First, the positive.

My starting weight was 147.5 (I am 5’3”).  By the end of the first week, I had lost 3.1 pounds.  The weight loss was AWESOME!  It felt great to be in control of at least one part of my life!

But that wasn’t my only victory.  I went an entire week without sugar or alcohol.  No small feat!

Except for one premenstrual day, I didn’t feel overly hungry.  And the prepackaged food was easy and quick to pack.  Eventually, I adjusted to the food and looked forward to eating it.

And, the “Creating Health” Facebook group has been helpful for motivation and food ideas.  (It is a closed group that becomes accessible once enrolled.)

Patti, my health coach, has been a great resource to talk to about my challenges.

Warning:  the food packs a 100% daily recommended amount of vitamin K.  For most people this is great!  And your daily vegetables will add more.

For me, this was a big negative.  I have had to go to weekly blood draws to monitor my medication levels.  My coumadin doses have had to increase accordingly.  Please notify your doctor(s) if you are undertaking this program!

I have noticed some “brain fog” and fatigue.  But both of those things could be attributed to sugar withdrawal, perimenopause, or allergies.

And then there is the cost.  This program is not cheap.  The food for the weight loss part of the program is around $400/month.

Week 2

After a terrific start to the program, I was excited for the second week!  Weight had not come off so easy (except right after my divorce—but that’s another story)!

This week was much more challenging than the first week.  I was under a lot of work stress, and I really missed my relaxing glass of wine.

But, I stuck to the program.

However, my weight loss for the second week was only 2.1 pounds.  Still a victory, but noticeably less than the first week.

My coach (and the literature) boasted that I would have more energy and feel good.  Neither was true yet for me.  In fact, I was more tired than ever.  (The program stresses that you should make other healthy choices, like getting enough sleep and water, in addition to the dietary changes.  I was doing both those things.)

Again, as a perimenopausal woman with seasonal allergies, fatigue could be related to anything!

Since I was committed to this for 30 days—there was no question that I was continuing forward.

Week 3

I weigh myself daily.  And because of this, week one had a lot of positive reinforcement each day.  Most days I would get on the scale to great news and new motivation!

Week three felt like slogging through molasses!

I stuck to the diet for days with no results on the scale.  None!

There were a few days I felt a little hungry.  Again, I was missing my wine on the weekend.

And my blood thinner medication continued to be a challenge.

But I knew that if I quit, I would be very unhappy with myself.  I would feel like a quitter.  Like I had failed.

So, I stuck to it.

And I made some adjustments.  I increased my physical activity, and I researched the lowest vitamin K vegetables I could find.

In total, I lost 1.5 pounds in week three.

Total loss since the beginning:  6.7 pounds.

Week 4

What a roller coaster!

One day I victoriously weighed in at 139.1 and was sure it was all worth it!  The next morning my weight was back over 140 and I finished the week at 140.5.  A total additional third of a pound for the week.  Heavy sigh.

My health coach reassured me that fat loss doesn’t jump up and down.  The scale would move as long as I stayed on the program.

Also, I was on vacation this week.  The fuelings were easy to take along.  However, “vacation” has always meant wine and food and not worrying about what I am eating!  My desire to throw caution to the wind and pounce on both a glass of Apothic Red and a slice of pizza was strong!

Instead, I fought the urges.

I stuck to the program.

Since I committed to 1 month on the program, I had two days left.

Day 30

Final weigh in:  139.2

In total, I lost just over 8 pounds in one month.  Only 17 more pounds to my goal weight!

Through most of the 30 days, I rarely felt full.

Many times I had the urge to eat whatever I wanted!  Usually, I was bored or stressed.  Rarely was I uncomfortably hungry (day 2!).

But I did it!

My Fears and Concerns

All my favorite foods on the program were sweet and chocolate and carbohydrate-like.  I loved the “mashed potatoes,”  chocolate bars, and cinnamon sugar pretzel sticks.  By eating these foods, am I really changing my sweet tooth?  (Granted, there is NO sugar in any of these foods—so ultimately I am ending that addiction.)

When I go back to regular food, as I did many years ago after Nutrisystem meal replacement, will the taste of real food be so awesome that I just can’t stop eating it?

The weight loss phase of the TSFL doesn’t have sufficient nutrition/calories to do weight lifting or other more intense muscle building activities.  Is slacking off instead of increasing muscle activity a good idea?

Will I be able to maintain this loss?  On this diet, I hardly ever felt full.  The habit of not eating until satiety has roots in a Confucian practice called “hara hachi bu” which instructs to eat until you are about 80% full.  The Japanese make this a lifestyle with many health benefits.  But will I be able to stick with it?

And my biggest fear:  did I slow down my metabolism in this weight loss cycle?

Conclusion

For weight loss, the TSFL program definitely works.  I am thrilled with my weight loss in this first 30 days!  By my calculation, I can expect to stay in this phase of the program (1 to 2 pounds a week) for at least 3 more months to reach goal weight.

And I LOVE the ease of the prepackaged meals.  After I got used to them, I ate them eagerly every day!

So, I have decided to keep going.  Can I can stick to it long enough to make my goal weight?

With the support of a health coach and the subsequent phases of TSFL, can I make this a way of life?

Stay tuned!

My Son: A Mother’s Secret Revealed

My SonSon,

You’ve made some bad choices.

You fear for your future and dread “screwing up.”

Sometimes, anxiety and worry keep you from sleep.

You don’t know what to do.

You are an adult now so I can share my secret:  me too.

The Truth:  Everyone Fears

As a child, you think your parents are confident.  That they never make poor choices or screw up!  They are dependable and quick to know “right” and “wrong.”

But it isn’t true.

When I started this blog, I was afraid.  Of illness and pain.  And dying without having lived well.

In this blog, I work through my fears while helping others.

Now I know your fears are just as challenging.

Conquering Fear

Fear is just a feeling.  Act in spite of it!  This is how we overcome that fear and grow.

Try new (legal!) things!  It’s okay to fail.  In fact, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying enough challenging things!  Raise the bar!

Youth is a gift.  You have energy, good health, and little to lose!

I can look back over my 50+ years with perspective.  Now I know the fears of my youth were overblown.  And those fears kept me from living a fuller, more satisfying life.

Your imagination will make things seem much more significant and scarier than they truly are.

When you were 11 months old, you didn’t let fear stop you.  You pulled yourself up and started moving.  You fell a lot!  But you got right back up and tried it again.

Since then, you’ve mastered walking and running.

Life is like learning to walk.  Only, as an adult, you have to choose to ignore fear each time you take your first step.  It’s easy to get “stuck in your head.”  Take that leap of faith anyway!  (TK)

Being an adult is an incredible adventure!  Your choices can take you anywhere you want to go!  And, before you have other lives to worry about (i.e., spouse, children, etc.), you have tremendous freedom to try new things.

The good news:  you aren’t alone.

Most Valuable Resource:  God

I know, I know.  I’ve been “selling” the whole God thing since you were born!  And like many young people, you haven’t been open to the idea.

But here’s the thing:  He has gotten me through every trial.  With prayer, he’s been there through eye surgery, open-heart surgery, five childbirths, marriage, and divorce.

And He is ALWAYS there for you, too!  No matter what you’ve done.  He is the perfect father.  Turn to Him at church or turn to him in the privacy of your room.  But talk to Him!  There is no greater source of strength!

Friends and Community

I know you don’t like help from anyone.  Most of us don’t.  But here’s another secret.  You know that feeling of satisfaction when you help someone?  You gift that feeling when you allow someone to help you!

Check out some faith communities.  Find one that gives you hope and friendship.  It doesn’t have to be a Catholic church, although you might find the familiarity of a Catholic church peaceful and comforting.  I always did.

And try to surround yourself with encouraging people.  Avoid toxic or reckless “friends.”  Those “friends” that will get you into trouble?  Jettison them!  You used to be good at standing up to peer pressure.  Use that superpower now.

The Internet

Next, many gifted people share their inspiration and motivation for free.  I wrote about some of them in Top 5 Resources for Motivation.

Connect with those sources of hope and positivity as often as you can. Watch Youtube videos or listen to downloads.  It will enhance school, sports, and relationships.

Thoughts will flow through your mind.  You get to choose which ones to keep.  Many of these online resources can help you learn how to do that with your own mind.

Family

And lastly, your siblings, dad and I love you!

A mother’s love is neverending!  However, it may not always appear like love to you.  I can’t clean up your messes.  I need to let you make mistakes.  And I need to let you fix them.  That is how you will gain confidence.

But it isn’t easy letting you be an adult.

When you were a child, I cleaned your cuts and scrapes.  I kissed and hugged away your tears and fears.  And I still want to fix things for you, spare you pain and suffering.

It is not what is best for you.

You can only grow and find happiness through the struggle.

There is no shortcut.

Love,

Mom

One Way to Lose Weight After Forty

lose weightWhat is the best way to lose weight after forty?  While maintaining optimal health?  And then keeping it off?

There are many diets.

And, they all work.

For a while.

Making lifetime changes requires a decision.  A commitment.

And a plan.

I chose the Take Shape for Life plan.  Here’s what my first week was like.

The Way Back to Health

A health coach friend of mine has been posting Facebook “health event” invitations for years.  All of which I had ignored.

But now that I was ready to make changes, I contacted Patti.

After a painless survey over the phone, she confirmed that I was already doing many of the healthy habits—drinking enough water, exercising daily, sleeping well, making lots of good food choices.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to food to fuel a 5’3” desk jockey.  My problem was more of a “quantity” issue.

The Plan

So, I signed up with Take Shape for Life!  (Also known as Optavia, and years ago, Medifast.)

This program has 6 daily meals—1 that is “fresh” and prepared by me, 5 that are prepackaged foods in envelopes.  These prepackaged, interchangeable foods are called “fuelings.”

The diet is low carb, low fat, and nutritionally balanced.  The program produces a quick loss of 3 to 5 pounds in the first week.  Then, after the first week or two results in a healthy 1- to a 2-pound loss per week.

Preparing for the first day, I ate or removed all food temptations.

Day 1 – Monday

Starting weight:  147.5

I sorted through my box of meals and selected five.  They were lightweight and easy to prepare.  My lunch was quickly and easily packed.  No need to use ice packs.

First fueling—Red Berry Crunchy O’s Cereal.  I ate it with no milk.  Mistake.  Ugh.

Three hours later, my second fueling—Zesty Cheddar & Italian Herb Crunchers.  Ugh again.

Two hours later, my third fueling—Creamy Double Peanut Butter Crisp.  Really?

Two and a half hours later, my fourth fueling—Rustic Tomato Herb Penne.  Come on!!

Two and a half hours later, last fueling—Wild Strawberry Shake.  Finally, food that isn’t gross.

I looked forward to my “lean and green” fresh meal:  pulled pork tenderloin with a cup and a half of boiled broccoli with some butter/canola on top!  Real food!

My phone call with my health coach didn’t go well.  Not because I wasn’t successful at following the plan—but because I complained about the food.  She reassured me that most people can find meals that they like.  And she asked that I call her at the end of day 2.

The good news?  I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I would be.  By my calculation, this is slightly less than 1000 calories a day diet.

Day 2 – Tuesday

Weight:  146.9 (Woohoo!)

First fueling—Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  (I have GOT to get me some condiments!)

Second fueling—Chocolate Fudge Crisp Bar.  Pretty good!

Third fueling—Chicken Noodle Soup.  The soup overflowed in the microwave.  Didn’t get to eat the whole thing.  I added a little salt to get it down.

Fourth fueling—Chia Bliss Smoothie.  Bland, but frothy.  My health coach says I need to get a Magic Bullet or something like it to do my shakes.  Apparently, it makes a “huge” difference.

Fifth fueling—Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Like eating raw cookie dough.  Not bad!

(At this point, I was still an hour and a half away from dinner.  I left work early, hightailed it home, and devoured my lean and mean meal!)

Sixth fueling—Okay.  So, I was still starving!  Wanted to eat the homemade pumpkin pie in my refrigerator.  Proudly ate dry, Zesty Cheddar and Herb cruncher things.

Work was EXTREMELY stressful!  Pretty sure that the hunger was related to that!

Day 3 – Wednesday

Weight:  145.8  (Yeah!)

I can do this!  My health coach says that the hunger will go away and that the energy will come either today or tomorrow.

First fueling—Double Chocolate Brownie.  Pretty good!

Second fueling—Caramel Crisp Bar.  Also, pretty good!

Third fueling—Honey Mustard and Onion snacks.  Wow, three in a row!  Or, does hunger just make everything taste better?

Fourth fueling—Buttermilk Biscuit.  Meh.

Fifth fueling—Chocolate Shake.  Nothing special, but not awful.

My coach said to try eating my lean and green meal for lunch instead of dinner.  She also said that once I get to the “fat burning” state that I will feel less hungry.  However, at bedtime, my stomach hurt a little because of the hunger.  I was too tired to get out of bed to do something about it.

And tired I was.  I left work a little bit early because I just wasn’t worth anything!

Day 4 – Thursday

Weight:  144.8  (Yippee!)

While I am pretty psyched to see my morning weigh-in, mentally I am not entirely firing on all cylinders.  I am making more mistakes than usual typing.  And focusing seemed more difficult.

Day 5 – Friday

Weight:  144.4  (Wow!)

I woke to my period today.  Ugh!  I am so done with my uterus!  This explains my almost uncontrollable hunger on Day 2.  It is one of my body’s signals that I am going to start soon.  Only 24 days since my last period.  Perimenopause is full of surprises!

Heavy sigh.

So, I am getting used to the food.  It doesn’t always taste great—but it satisfies.  And, I’ve lost 3 pounds in five days.

Day 6 and 7 – The Weekend

The weekend is always much more challenging.  I love my glasses of wine on Friday and Saturday nights.  It was much more difficult to not drink with my boyfriend than to stop eating with him.

On Saturday, I had my lean and green meal with my son at a hot sandwich restaurant.  I talked them into selling me an Italian meat sandwich with no bread.

On Sunday, I devoured a grilled hamburger.  But without the bun.

And, I have now tried everything in the “starter kit.”

Conclusion Week 1

First week’s total weight loss:  3.1 pounds.  Success!

I stuck to the diet every day (except for the extra fueling on day 2)!  And, I hadn’t had any wine for 7 days.  I missed the wine the most!

Observations from the first week on the Fit for Life program:

  • The weight loss was AWESOME!  It felt great to be in control of at least one part of my life!
  • Meal preparation is super easy!
  • Some food choices were better than others.  Using the approved condiments helped quite a bit.  My shopping list:  low carb maple flavored syrup, non-sweetened vanilla almond milk, and low sugar (no high fructose corn syrup) ketchup.  Over time, I found that I looked forward to them all.
  • The Creating Health Facebook group has been quite helpful for motivation and food ideas.  (It is a closed group that becomes accessible once enrolled.)
  • My health coach is a great resource to talk about my challenges.

But…

  • There is a lot of vitamin K in the food.  I have had to go back to weekly blood draws to monitor my medication levels.
  • I have noticed some “brain fog” and fatigue.  But both of those things could be attributed to sugar withdrawal or perimenopause or allergies.
  • And then there is a cost.  This program is not cheap.  The food for the weight loss part of the program is around $400/month.

My goal is to lose the 25 pounds that slowly came on during the 5 years since open heart surgery.  By my calculations, I will be on the Fit for Life weight loss plan for 3 to 4 months.  If I can stay on the program.

 

Managing Osteoarthritis Pain Without Drugs

managing osteoarthritis painI had never considered myself “old,” until the chronic pain started.  Many conditions cause chronic, excruciating pain.  To be clear–my pain is relatively minor.  My 40s were plagued by sciatica pain after I stupidly decided to finish a 5K while experiencing pain in my knee.  My 50s have been marked by nagging, osteoarthritis pain.  Without the luxury of NSAIDs relief, I had to find other ways of managing osteoarthritis pain without drugs.

At first, the pain would come and go.

Sometimes, my big toe would hurt when I walked.

Other times my finger joints would hurt.

And then the pain would mostly stay, whether I was moving or still.

It wore me down!

I felt old.

For most people, the first stop would be ibuprofen or acetaminophen.  In fact, that would be my “go to” choice!

But since, I am on a blood thinner, regular ibuprofen usage would put me at an unacceptable risk for internal bleeding.

Here’s what has worked for me!

(PLEASE NOTE:  All information herein is my opinion, unless otherwise noted.  I am not a doctor.  No information on this site should be relied upon to determine diet, make a medical diagnosis, or determine treatment for a medical condition. The information in this blog is not intended to replace a relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not medical advice.  By reading this website, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. Do not try anything without proper research and medical supervision.)

First Stop:  My Doctor

When I talked to my doctor, he recommended I try glucosamine, 1500 mg/day.  He did not discount the potential benefits of turmeric, and he felt it might be worth trying.  But he was generally dismissive of dietary changes to obtain pain relief.

While glucosamine sulfate is approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA) in Europe to promote cartilage and joint health, research results are not all positive.

The Mayo Clinic gives glucosamine a “B”—but stresses that the knee has the best results and the studies (and here) all used a supplement from Rotta Research Laboratory in Europe.

While generally considered a safe supplement, you should always tell your doctor when you start using supplements.  Glucosamine is extracted from shellfish and could lead to allergic reactions.

Also, if limiting daily salt intake is essential to your health, you may be taking in an additional 30% of your daily allowance with this supplement alone.

As a coumadin blood thinner user, adding this supplement impacted my blood levels and adjustments had to be made to my dosage.

However, in general, glucosamine has infrequent and mild adverse effects.

Glucosamine takes several months for the effects to be noticed.  After taking these supplements for several months, I experienced only a small improvement in my pain levels.

So why am I still taking them?  I am changing only one thing at a time in my diet.  Right now I am working on losing weight to see if I can get some pain reduction in my foot.  I will be publishing my results of the weight loss in the coming months.

Next Stop:  Internet Research

There are lots of sites with recommendations to reduce OA pain (here or here).

Some research (and here, here, here) showed that collagen had low risk and some promise.  So I started taking collagen powder.

What is collagen?  Collagen is a supplement made from animal or fish materials. It’s rich in amino acids that play a role in the building of joint cartilage, and it may have anti-inflammatory effects.  Since it is extracted from the bones of animals, it is generally considered safe.

I experienced a greater improvement in my pain levels than the glucosamine alone.  The collagen product I use has no taste and dissolves well in liquids.  I put mine in my morning coffee, and at night in hot water with a little lemon.

Next Stop:  Exercise

Last, I worked out with Miranda Esmonde-White in her Classical Stretch/Essentrics DVDs.  Most people won’t want to hear it, but simple, full body movement was the critical key to pain-free!

I won’t lie—daily exercise is hard.  And the Essentrics workout, even though it is only 23 minutes in length, is not always easy to work into the day.

But, when I work out—my pain levels are much lower, and I feel great.  Her exercises work every joint and every muscle.  Un-glueing your joints feel AMAZING!

I’ve written about this workout before in my Finding Your Fountain of Youth article.  I am seriously considering becoming an instructor!

And, when I don’t work out—ouch.

Pain is a strong motivator!

Summary

Glucosamine, collagen, and Essentrics have been a great start.  I feel younger and optimistic for the future!

And I know that if these things don’t all keep working, there are other things to try.  It is possible to manage osteoarthritis pain without drugs!

 

Is it Time to Rethink the Meaning of Work?

meaning of workWhile reading my Facebook newsfeed, I stumbled upon a post entitled:  “A growing number of people think their job is useless.  Time to rethink the meaning of work.”  Finally!  Someone was talking about the meaning of work!  I quickly clicked on the link anticipating wisdom that could address my recent angst regarding the meaning of work.

It was not what I was hoping for.

How It Is

I hate corporate cubicles.  Being controlled by a schedule full of meetings.

And bullies for bosses.

I’ve been struggling with “working for the man.”

Many days, nothing seems worthwhile.

Heavy sigh.

Of course, there have been times that I like my job.

Payday.  And when tackling mentally challenging and fulfilling projects.

And, if I’m honest with myself, without the structure of a job, I’d probably be bored and 400 pounds.

However, I’ve noticed that as I’ve gotten older, I don’t care about the same things I used to.

I don’t care if I get promoted—especially if it steals yet more time from the limited free time I have today.

Recognition, while nice, is not required.

And I don’t care about status measurements—like how many people “report” to me, the size of my house or the type of my car.

How it Was

Since I was in my teens, never have I NOT worked.

When I was a teenager, I was a babysitter (ugh!), newspaper delivery girl (on my bike!) and retail clerk.  Those jobs were strong motivators to get a good education!

Later, between semesters in college, I was a truck driver (before GPS!), technical writer and secretary.

After college, I was an engineer and an information technology analyst.

All those things satisfied their purpose:  I could pay for food, shelter and more.

Working allowed me to support myself.

But, the concept of being passionate about my job, of loving what I did—never entered the equation.  If the work was unpleasant at times or unfulfilling, well, that was why it paid better than other jobs.

Search Google about finding work to be passionate about, and you’ll discover the internet full of inspiring articles and videos on following your dreams!

So, what if you don’t have a passion?  What if you are tired of working for an employer so that that the company can make more money?  What if the stuff that you purchase (outside of food, shelter and health insurance) doesn’t mean much anymore?

Worse, what if you feel the effects of age and health challenges?  And work is getting more difficult?

With the years I have remaining, I’ve decided to challenge myself and you.  Ready?

How it is Going to Be

Dare to be honest about what a successful day looks like for you.  For me, I feel like a failure unless I accomplish something each day.  That means that I take a few minutes each day or each week to set and achieve small, doable goals.  And those goals need to feel like they are moving the ball down the field—that they are getting me closer to adding value.  Planning keeps me focused as I am constantly being tempted to waste time on emails and chats.

What makes you feel “successful” each day?

Dare to set boundaries.  Just because you can do something does not mean you should!  Too often, we say “yes” when we need to say “no.”  And we respond immediately to emails that can be saved up for once or twice daily viewing.

Too much work to do in an 8-hour day?  Draw some boundaries there too.  Here’s a secret:  if you do the job of 1-1/2 people, your company will let you.  You may keep your job, but the company will not ever feel moved to add the staff that it needs.  Why would they?

I am salaried.  That used to mean that you worked whatever hours you needed to complete what needed to be done.   But sometimes you could work 24/7/365 and still not be “caught up.”

So, I’ve drawn some boundaries based upon work hours.

Where do you need to draw boundaries at your job?

Dare to create some time for yourself.  I enjoy photography and reading.  What makes you happy?  Gives you peace or joy?  Then make time for it—no matter what.  As women, we sometimes feel like everyone else’s needs should come first.  So, if it feels uncomfortable at first, that’s okay.

Putting yourself first is sometimes difficult.  But it is always worth it!

Finding My Meaning

In 1930, the famous economist John Maynard Keynes was predicting that we’d all be working just 15-hour weeks by the year 2030.

We are no closer to 15-hour work weeks than we are to solving world peace!

Back in the day, work had nothing to do with passion or with loving what you are doing.  It was about earning a living.  I am still looking for something that “lights me up.”  But in the meantime, I will continue to do my work as best as I can.  And save for that day I can choose to quit working for sustenance and can work for fun!

 

 

Top 3 Tony Robbins UPW Takeaways

Tony Robbins UPWIt’s been three weeks since I rocked out at the Prudential Center with Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within (UPW).  How much of that 50 hours carried over into everyday life?  Here are my top 3 UPW takeaways.

Shake that Ass!

Tony expended a lot of time and energy changing our physical “state.”  Our physical bodies influence our emotions, and our emotions impact our physical state.  This is not a new concept, nor unique to Tony Robbins.  In fact, Amy Cuddy is widely known for her research in this area (Ted Talk video and book).  Her video is wildly popular!  Check her out!

Have you ever noticed that when you put on a smile—even when you don’t feel like it—that your mood lifts?

Or have you lifted your shoulders, took a deep breath, and braced yourself before a challenging situation?  Did it make you feel stronger?  Or weaker?

In both cases, the physical changes to your body impacted your feelings.

During the event, at least once an hour we changed our physical state.  We were instructed to put down our notes and to get up and “shake that ass!”  It is impossible to recreate the sights and sounds of thousands of screaming fans dancing to the music and the adrenaline that produced.  However, I jump and dance to energetic music when I feel a need to increase my energy.  Thank heavens I have an office door!

Doing this every hour is not sustainable. But before important meetings or phone calls—it is magic.  How do you respond differently when someone you’re talking to is animated and energetic?

Huge difference, right?

Sternum Up!

Another practice to change physical state is the “sternum up” posture.  Your sternum is the bone right between your breasts.  Imagine if you were to attach a string to it and pull it straight up—how does that change your posture?  How does it make you feel?  In practice, it only takes a small adjustment to move up, but it makes a big difference in how you feel.

Which is more useful:  a sternum-up posture or a slouching posture?

Unlike dancing and jumping, you can do this anywhere, anytime!

Take a Cold Shower!

Every day, willed or not, thoughts go through your mind.  Some of those ideas are helpful, others not so much.  But they are thoughts that YOU get to control.  You decide whether to follow them or to ignore them.

By intentionally insisting “I am the voice”—you choose which thoughts you want to claim as your own.  The other ideas floating though can be observed and ignored.

With Tony, we repeatedly yelled the following:

Now I am the Voice!

I will lead not follow!

I will believe, not doubt!

I will create, not destroy!

I am a force for good!

I am a force for God!

I am a leader!

Defy the odds!

Set a new standard!

Step up!  Step up!  Step up!

By forcefully telling myself that I am the voice, I am reminded that I choose which thoughts I act and believe.

Which comes in handy when I do my least favorite “recommendation” from Tony:  a cold shower.  Tony believes in and practices cold water submergion.  Why?  Tony admits he does not enjoy the practice, but says that by exerting control over his own mind this way, he is establishing that he is, in fact, “the voice.”

Our will is like a muscle—it needs exercise to get stronger.  But there is also some research that suggests that there are health benefits to cold therapy.

For me, I take a regular hot shower (I LOVE them!) but at the end, I rinse for 30 seconds with cold water.  I need that internal cheering section saying “I am the voice!” right before I turn the shower knob to cold!  It literally takes my breath away!

But, the result is an alertness and energy that sets the tone for the whole day!

Your Daily Practice

Not everyone can take 4 days out of their busy lives to travel to a Tony Robbins event, but everyone can learn from him.  In future articles, I will not only share the things I’ve adopted as my own practices, but the insightful knowledge that Tony shared with us.  In the mean time, try these UPW takeaways!

Tony Robbins UPW: What You Need to Know Before You Go

tony robbins upwWant to experience pure excitement?  Elation?  Energy?  Supportive friends who “get” you?  Get all these things, and more, at Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within (UPW)!  Read these event tips before you go!

I just got back from UPW in Newark, New Jersey.  Over 50 hours of “content” in only 4 days–there are a LOT of things to share.  Watch for Tony Robbins content in future posts, or sign up for my newsletter to get monthly summaries of posts!  But, while the experience is fresh in my mind, here are the tips I wish someone would have told me!

Before You Go

First, get on the email list.  You’ll want to get the specials and notifications immediately.  Tickets can go fast, and if you delay (like I did for the Los Angeles UPW), you might miss out.  Also, there are a limited number of event-priced hotel rooms near the venue.  Book ASAP after you purchase your tickets.  Those lower priced hotel rooms go fast.  And, there are date limits for rooms at the lower price.  A friend of mine had to book twice with the same hotel—once to get the Tony rate and once to get the regular rate for days outside the date range.

Once you purchase your tickets, make sure you join the official “closed” Facebook page for the event.  I was able to identify a young woman who was staying at the same hotel and was also traveling by herself.  I connected on Facebook, and we shared transportation costs to and from the hotel to the venue.  And, as a bonus, she and I have remained friends!

Sign up for event texts as well! Sometimes that was the only way that we knew what time events were starting or when the limited breaks were ending.  After being awake until 2am after the firewalk, texts were sent with a delayed start time the next morning.  Great information to know, right?

The Newark, New Jersey, event was in a stadium where there weren’t any bad seats from a VISUAL perspective.  With the stadium style seating, however, dancing was a challenge.  There was very little free space around the chairs.  There was no room for my backpack and water bottle.  As with any venue, there were security checkpoints before entering.  Plan on attending early—hours early—before each day to get in on time and to get the best seating!  We used both Lyft and Uber to travel as it was decidedly less expensive than taxis!

During the Event

Tony doesn’t pee.  Or eat.  Or take much in the way of breaks.  Ever.  He is, like, superhuman in this regard!  (He left the stage only once that I was aware of during 12+ hours on stage.  The best I can figure, he uses his recorded voice while leaving the stage during meditations/visualizations.  I had my eyes closed, so I didn’t see whether he was there or not.)  Essentially, you need to leave to urinate, or get water, or get food—whenever you absolutely need it.  Otherwise, be prepared for some physical discomfort.

Speaking of physical pain!  There is a lot of jumping, dancing, clapping, high-fiving, massaging and other physical exercises to maintain a high energy state.  I gave it my all—but I paid for it in the days following the event.  DO NOT USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE NOT TO GO!!  I recommend, if possible that you take a day or 2 for yourself afterwards to physically (and emotionally) recover.  The material is a lot to take in, and pieces are still falling into place in my head even days after the event.  And pack some OTC pain medication—for me day 2 would have been a great deal harder without it!  My new friend, Lisa, had a pounding headache and I was able to help her too!

The Prudential Center was an awful location for a bunch of health conscious people!  They did not allow us to bring in our own nutritious food.  Although many of us wrapped it up and shoved it into the bottom of our backpacks.  Some of us got away with this—others did not.  (I snuck in a couple bananas and my favorite protein bar).  The choices for purchase were expensive, but, more importantly, it was “stadium food.”  Deep fried.  Loaded with fat and sugar!  In my Tony Robbins induced “beautiful state,” I let it roll right off me.  Not everyone was so accepting.

The Firewalk

Tony warns that 1-2% of firewalkers get burned.  I would propose that Tony only knows about 1-2% of the people burned.  Anecdotally, the percentage is much higher.  I would hazard it is in the 40 to 50% range.  I had several blisters.  They weren’t that big of a deal, but, I strongly recommend that you bring a small first aid kit with bandages and burn supplies just in case you need them.  I was able to get band aids at my hotel.

The other challenge with the firewalking was that it occurred across the street from the venue.  Before we left the stadium, we were told to take off our shoes.  Most people did.  And most people left their shoes by their seats. But after the firewalk, with blisters on our feet, we had to walk, barefoot, on the Newark asphalt streets.  Had any blisters ruptured, it was a recipe for infection!  Bring a pair of slip on shoes with you to the firewalk!!!

 Back to Reality

e a place with raving Tony fans to return to work.  At the UPW, the people you meet are enthusiastic, energetic, positive, excited.  You get the picture.  Many of us continue to support each other through the Facebook site and by listening to the great music from the event.

Returning to a cubicled work space with negative co-workers was a shock.  Know that it is not possible to maintain the high level of energy in the same way after you leave.  I’ve found some of Tony’s techniques helpful, i.e. priming, visualization, physiology changes—and I use them throughout the day.

But nothing compares to completely letting go and being yourself in a stadium of joyful, screaming fans dancing to high energy music with nightclub lighting effects!  This was a 5-star experience!