Monday, April 21, 2014

Fears about losing weight

As much as I loved The Diet Fix, I'm finding it hard to operationalize the ideas in it into a weight-loss diet. I think the concepts in it are great, and I am still using some of them, but I don't find it easy to translate the ideas into a weight-loss plan.

I picked up The Beck Diet again -- I haven't touched it for a long time after the tone started to annoy me. Though I had my quibbles with it, though, at least it had a plan and some tools that I found helpful.  I'm going to try to take the book a little less personally and see what I can use from it.

Today I wrote my "Advantages to Losing Weight" card (Day 1) and realized that I needed to write down some other thoughts that were creeping in -- "Fears about Losing Weight." Many of the fears seemed silly when written down, but they were there nonetheless. Things like, "What if my relationships don't work if I'm not overweight?" "What if this just puts more pressure on me?" and "What if I still don't like my body?"

The assumption is that losing weight is an unmixed positive, but I am guessing that a lot of people who struggle with weight loss may have fears, articulated or not, about how losing the weight (or at least making weight loss a priority) might negatively impact their lives. That might be one reason that it's so hard to do.

I figured that if I wrote them out and compared them to my "Advantages" card, they would look less daunting, and they did.

I also did Day 2's activity, picking a diet and a backup diet. I am going to continue to work with calorie counting, but if I'm still feeling lost after a few weeks, I can always return to Weight Watchers. They taught me a lot already, and I am sure there is more to learn there.  I had some not-so-great experiences with the Core Plan but I think the Simply Filling Technique sounds a little saner and easier to stick to.

I still have some tricks up my sleeve to try to make calorie counting work better, so I'm going to try those first before giving up on doing this my way.

Summer's coming, though, and I don't want to spend another one feeling regret.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My chat with a Gwynnie Bee stylist

This post contains some affiliate links but is otherwise uncompensated and unsolicited, and reflects my actual experiences.

My school has a black-tie optional fundraising event coming up next weekend. I had thought to wear my Lace Shutter Sheath Dress (pictured at left), but I wanted some other options. Gwynnie Bee allows members to talk with (or email) a stylist and have items placed on high priority for a special event.  I actually have two dressy events in the same weekend -- the fundraiser and a trip to the opera with friends.

I felt like I got a lot of personal attention from the stylist. We emailed back and forth a few times and yesterday we talked on the phone about my event, my body type, my coloring, and my personal style.  It was fun to have such a detailed conversation about what I liked and didn't like.  In the end she made ten recommendations. I chose three of them to try and put on high-priority:

Coldwater Creek Lace Scroll dress (my favorite, I will miss Coldwater Creek)
Kiyonna Tiers of Joy Dress
Kiyonna Lace Cocktail Dress

A few of the other recommendations weren't right for me for various reasons, but it was great to have so many options.  I also looked around for other options and found these to add to the list:

ABS Python Jacquard Dress
Jessica Howard Polka-Dot Dress with Buckle

I had also considered trying Rent the Runway, but I haven't used them before. Unless I chose one of the plus-sized options, I also couldn't picture the dresses on me. And actual plus sizes don't fit me well -- the proportions aren't right.  The straight-sized models are so whip-thin that there's no sense of how the dresses would look on a more average body.  I might use this service if I had a serious event to attend, though, because there are such gorgeous gowns available, and I wouldn't have to spend a lot of money and closet space on a gown I'd wear once.

You can check out my other Gwynnie Bee posts here, and get a free month of the service to try it for yourself here (full disclosure: I will get a free extra garment for a month if you sign up through my link)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book review: The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren

Unsolicited, uncompensated review. Opinions are purely my own.

I heard an interview with the author of this book on Koren Motekaitis's podcast, and had to get a copy. As I often do with books that I want to read right away, rather than put on the shelf and get to "when I have time," I bought it as an audiobook through (link takes you to a site where you can try a membership for free and support one of my other favorite podcasts, This American Life).

At times, The Language of Emotions can get sort of woo-woo -- in the audiobook, there is singing that sounds like "woo-woo" to separate chapters.  In the figurative sense, too, when there are tales of how the writer saved neighborhood cats with her empathetic abilities.  Don't let this discourage you -- there is some great information here.

A lot of counterproductive behaviors -- addictions and compulsions of all kinds,  distancing and "checking out," controlling behaviors -- result from efforts to hide from so-called negative emotions.  The author outlines how emotions we perceive as negative, like anger and sadness, actually serve important purposes for us, and if we could succeed in an attempt to live only in positive emotions like joy, we would be manic and ungrounded. We wouldn't be whole human beings.  She takes readers through exercises to explore the gifts of each emotion and help show what each brings to a well-rounded life.  Emotions are not something we should learn to detach ourselves from -- even the name implies that they are there to motivate and move us. Anger, for example, is described by McLaren as a warning that a boundary has been crossed.  If we don't let us feel angry, we will let people push us around.  She says we shouldn't lash out, but should instead feel the emotion, understand its message, and then act mindfully.

I had a fellow member of the Half Size Me community contact me not long after I listened to this interview, wanting to chat. She said, "I should be happy, but I can't stop feeling sad." I asked her, "What if you decided to set aside some time and be sad?" She said that she instantly felt better when she thought about doing this.  Instead of hiding from sadness, she could just feel it.  Ironically, that made her happier.

A couple of warnings. McLaren discusses childhood sexual abuse in this book, which could be triggering for a lot of people.  She doesn't do it as a way of "pouring her pain all over you" (her words), but as an explanation of how she developed her own empathetic abilities.  I also think that some of the emotions discussed in this book, like depression and suicidal urges, should be worked through with the help of a counselor. McLaren mentions this, and thankfully, unlike other New Age authors, acknowledges the value of antidepressants and other medications to help manage emotions.  I think, though, that this book would make a great supplement to professional help as a guide to navigating these emotions more mindfully.

Though sometimes an author reading his or her own book can be clumsy or monotone, McLaren has an engaging and expressive voice. My only minor quibble is that sometimes she inserts laughter that feels false and forced -- but even this isn't too intrusive or annoying.

I need to listen to the book a second time and go through the exercises more carefully, but even by listening through the first time, I learned a lot and have felt more in touch with my feelings.  I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stupid scale

Okay, so the scale itself is fine, but the number on it has been discouraging. It's funny, I felt so good coming back from San Diego until I weighed myself.

It's just a few pounds up, but it's enough to make me feel discouraged and ugly... so I'm posting another picture of myself on the beach as an antidote -- something to remind me that even while I get this weight loss thing figured out, I'm still sort of cute the way I am (people who have different opinions should feel free to keep them to themselves...)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What I did this week: April 7 - 13

I left for a conference in San Diego early Tuesday morning. There were four of us from work, three who were going mostly to attend a workshop on how to prepare for an accreditation review, and our new dean.

My roommate and I must have been in our administrative assistant's good graces, because the room she booked for us had this view:  

We were less than a mile from the beach, and I walked there every morning. Without setting an alarm, I woke every day at 5:30 a.m., so I got dressed quietly and left the room so my roommate could sleep and shower, and ran or walked and then showered when I got back.

It's easy to daydream that I would be in much better shape if I never had to deal with Polar Vortexes.  But there was some pretty amazing food in Mission Beach, so I might have other struggles, especially with all the freshly-made tortillas.

I got to meet up with the lovely Margo, and it was easy to forget we hadn't seen each other in person since mid-June, especially since I listen to all her podcasts. I'm really looking forward to visiting with her again at Fitbloggin'. I had to order something with tortillas in it...

I ate a lot of restaurant meals, but I was still feeling really good, probably from all of the walking and the fresh air. I couldn't resist taking a few selfies on the beach.  I love this peachy top, which brightens up my face whenever I wear it.

Mostly, though, I took pictures of the beach:

I didn't get a lot of other workouts in, but I have definitely boosted my step count.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Guest blogging today

I am traveling for work today, but I am also the guest blogger at the Half Size Me blog today.  You can check out my post on body image there.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Review: Lose It! Healthometer Bluetooth Scale

Note: Lose It! provided me with a free Lose It! Healthometer Bluetooth Scale for review at my request, but the text and opinions are all my own (except where noted). Special thanks to my husband for helping me photograph the setup process.

I have been a longtime user of Lose It! Premium and I'm a big fan of the app. My New Year's resolution this year has been to track everything: The good, the bad, and the ugly.  When I saw that Lose It! had a branded scale just for use with the app, I had to try it.  This scale works with the free version of Lose It! as well as Lose It! Premium.

To be honest, a big reason I wanted a branded scale that would work with an app is that I wouldn't have to figure out how to reprogram my Tanita scale, which still thinks I'm 39 years old.  I already know how to use my smartphone. I have an iPhone 4S, but Lose It! is also available for Android, iOS, Nook, Kindle, and the Web. The scale, however, is compatible with the iPhone and iPad.

I checked with a product representative, who gave me these details on compatible devices:
The Lose It! Health o meter wireless body analysis scale features Bluetooth 4 (also called Bluetooth Smart Ready). It’s designed to work with wireless devices that feature Bluetooth 4.
The following devices are compatible with the scale:
  • iPod Touch (5th generation or newer)
  • iPhone 5 and newer
  • iPhone 4S
  • iPad 3 and newer
  • iPad Mini
Keep that in mind when thinking about the scale.

I was impressed with the simple setup instructions. There was a one-page sheet with color pictures to illustrate every step in the setup process.  There is also a more detailed set of instructions, but I didn't need to refer to them when setting up the scale. All the instructions I needed were on this sheet. The scale ships with an orange plastic tab that keeps the battery from running out during shipping. It was a simple process to remove that tab and start using the scale. I have been using the scale for about a week, so I threw the tab away -- you'll have to take my word for it.

The scale is designed to work with the Lose It! App. So obviously, it will only work for you and your family if everyone who wants to weigh themselves is willing and able to use Lose It! on a compatible device. The scale is setup to store data for up to four different users. Each user will need to use his or her own iOS device with the app.

Here, I'll show how easy it is to set up the scale for a new user: 

The first step in setting up is to open up Settings on the on the device of the user who is going to be weighing in.  Make sure Bluetooth is enabled. If you forget this step, the app will remind you during the setup process.  Then open up Lose It!
Select "More" from the bottom right of the screen, and choose "Apps & Devices."  The list of available devices will be different depending on whether you have the free version of Lose It! or Lose It! premium, but the the Lose It! Healthometer device is available for both versions of the app.  These photos are of my husband's phone, and he has the free version of the app.

Select "Connect Lose It Scale." When it says "Searching for scale," flip the scale over and press the button on the back of the scale.

The app uses initials to distinguish between the different scale users. Of course, you can use any three-letter sequence for the users. Since my husband and I both have the exact same three initials, we have opted to use "JEN" and "JES" to designate who is weighing in. Once you enter your initials and designate whether you have an athletic body type, you hit "Continue" and the app will direct you to stand on the scale.
Once the weight appears on the scale, you then step off and tap the scale to confirm your identity (make sure it displays your initials and not another scale user.

The scale will display "DATA" when sending your data and then "BYE" when it is finished. The scale is set up. The next time you weigh in, you just need to open the Lose It! app, step on the scale, step off, and choose the appropriate user.

All of the data is sent through Bluetooth to your phone, so you have to make sure that you have Lose It! open and your phone near the scale every time you weigh.  All of the data is stored in the "Goals" section of Lose It! The free version of Lose It! includes all the data you will need to use the scale: Weight, Body Mass Index, Body Fat, and Body Hydration. The Premium version includes other goals like measurements. 


The only downside to this scale (which is not a downside to me) is that you will continue to be committed to using Lose It! for as long as you want to use the scale. The scale does display the data on the screen before sending it to the iOS device, but it goes by quickly enough that it would be hard to catch if you were going to write the numbers down.  It would be easier to just keep the Lose It! app, which is free, on your phone to manage the scale.

I checked the numbers I got on the Lose It! scale against my Tanita BF 679 and they were similar, and the price of the two scales are also similar. However, the Tanita scale is harder to program and is not Bluetooth-enabled.  I like the Lose It! scale better because of the convenience of the having my data sent right to the app I'm already using to track my weight. I also don't need to update it every time I have a birthday.

I think this scale is a great option for committed Lose It! users with a compatible iOS device, since it does not require another app to manage it. Because the data is sent right to the phone, users like me who wear glasses won't have to wear them or squint at the display to weigh in.  It currently retails for $69.99 with free shipping, less expensive than other Bluetooth-enabled scales with similar features. It also has a maximum weight of 400 pounds, higher than most similarly-priced scales.

Brave users can also set up the app to tweet their weight or post it to Facebook. I personally will not be taking advantage of that option.

Edited: Was contacted by the product rep with this additional information:
Also, please note: if the weight is more than 5lbs different we ask the user if they want to send the data to Lose It! or not. The scale can be used as a normal weight scale for anyone who isn't using Lose It!.
So connected users who have one bad food night can check their weight without worrying that the whole world will be clued in to their indulgence. And, as I noted above, the weight is displayed on the scale, so a user without Lose It! can weigh in without going through the whole setup -- perfect in case you have an overnight guest who might get on the scale. 
"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07