Onederland!

After last week’s gain, I was not optimistic about this week’s weigh in. I figured I’d get on the scale and have lost what I’d gained last week.

Have you figured out that when I start out a post with an expectation, it’s usually because the opposite happened?

I got on the scale after shedding my maxi skirt and extra tank top as I have for the last few weeks. I stepped on the scale, and I saw something I haven’t seen since 2007.

There was a ONE at the beginning of my weight number. A FREAKING ONE!!!

I saw 199.6!!!

That puts my total weight loss at 85.5 pounds so far, which according to ILostWhat.com  is the same as 4 lemurs.

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It has been a red-letter week over here, with my “New You” contest win, a 5.8 pound loss, and hitting Onederland (get it? Because my weight starts with a 1?)

There’s three days left of the school year, and I have a lot of packing to do… but at least I know that moving my stuff OUT will be easier than moving my stuff IN. There’s 85 pounds less of me, and I’m tons stronger…in more ways than one!

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Super-Exciting News!

Over a month ago, on a whim, I entered the OptiFast “New You” Contest. It’s an annual contest in which people who have had success with the OptiFast plan write an essay and submit before/after photos and throw caution to the wind. I didn’t think I had a chance.

I wrote a super-long essay (1,800 words!) and had to edit it down to 500 for the contest. I submitted pictures, and when I didn’t hear anything by May 31, as it had said on the page, I figured I hadn’t won. No biggie, right?

Then the email came in.

“Congratulations! You’ve been selected as one of three Grand Prize winners in the OPTIFAST New You Contest.  You were selected based on your overall weight loss, the creativity and originality of your essay, and the compelling nature of your story.  The OPTIFAST team is very proud of you and your accomplishment and look forward to meeting you in New York!”

Wait, what?

I freaking WON?!

I’m one of the three winners of the NATIONWIDE OptiFast contest! I get to go to New York with Adam, get a makeover, have a spa day, go on a $500 shopping spree (which I’ve joked will get me one shoe or half a nice purse!) and have a professional photo shoot! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING!!!

Without all of your support, I don’t think I could’ve done this… thank you for everything.

In case you want to read my super-long essay, since I don’t LOVE the edited one as much as the unedited, you can do so here.

My First Gain

36 weeks in and I just now had my first gain.

After this past week, I was up 3.2 pounds and it really hit me hard. I’m trying to not let it get to me.

I checked my food logs and saw that I was over on sodium for the three days before weigh in, and under on my water intake. That would do it, for sure, but it’s still hard to see that number on the scale go up.

When I got home, Adam looked at me and said “Remember, don’t let a box of springs make you forget all the work you’ve done.” It’s what our old Weight Watchers leader used to say, and I needed the reminder. I’ve still lost 79.7 pounds, which is nothing to sneeze at!

And, I’d still rather look like this:

Favorite outfit as of late

Favorite outfit as of late

Than this:

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And be healthier to boot, any day!

Keep on keepin’ on…

Brain Progress

So, remember back when I first started losing weight and every single day was an adventure?

Now? Not so much. I pretty much wake up, do my thing, and go to bed.

The thing that’s different though, is what “doing my thing” entails. Most days, back in the What’s for Dinner? blog hey day, my day was very very different than now. Usually, every day (or almost every day) after school involved a trip to the grocery store for dozens of ingredients for some “fabulous” dinner and sometimes baked goods. Hours would be spent in the evenings prepping, cooking, plating, photographing, and finally eating said meal, and then editing the photos and blogging. Not to mention my afternoons were mostly spent completely and totally exhausted, struggling to stay awake past 7:30 p.m. but forcing myself to stay up until 9. But darn it, the blog looked awesome.

Nowadays, I’ve embraced the “plan ahead” method when it comes to food. Early in the week, I purchase enough food for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and spend a bit of time on Sunday (or Monday if I’m feeling slackish) prepping what I need to. Eggs are hard-boiled. Veggies are chopped. One large amount of protein is cooked. The crock pot, even in this nicer weather, has been a really great friend. One pot of chili or pot roast is enough to last the week since someone I live with doesn’t eat leftovers. These basic proteins are great on salads, in low-carb wraps, or even just on their own with my veggie of choice. I cycle through vegetables too…

I did nothing but eat brussels sprouts for the first few weeks I ate real food, with the occasional cauliflower thrown in. Now, I’m very deeply into grilled asparagus and red peppers. I’m sure that’ll pass in favor of tomatoes soon, but I’m really just excited for Summer produce.

Snacks are simple: Quest bars are my new favorite things. They’re delicious, have LOADS of fiber, only a few accessible carbs, and did I mention DELICIOUS?! I’m talking cookies and cream and cookie dough and strawberry cheesecake, and I really look forward to eating one a day. (Quest hasn’t paid me or anything for this mention, I just really really like them!!) I’m also eating raw almonds (26, no more, no less), string cheese, and 2% cottage cheese. Sometimes these are “meals” and sometimes they’re “snacks”, it all just depends on what time I eat.

Weight loss progress has slowed down a bit, though it’s still headed in the right direction. I’m officially down 82.9 pounds, and am inching my way closer to “Onederland”…that mythical spot where my weight number will start with at “1” instead of a “2”. I honestly cannot believe I’ve come this far. I’m not just talking about the scale, but honestly, the “brain progress” is bigger to me than the weight loss. I’m completely satisfied with a simple meal and good company, and know that eating what I used to consider “normal” will make me feel like utter crap.

Some progress photos:

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With my sister-in-law, Rivian, at her baby shower I threw

Progress

Progress

I treated myself to some new (and probably too expensive) hair color.

I treated myself to some new (and probably too expensive) hair color.

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Crazy difference, huh?

Learning to curl the hairs

Learning to curl the hairs

Now, I have a serious question to ask you: I know many of you are still on the OptiFast full-fast. I was thinking about starting to post some of the recipes I’ve been cooking, but I don’t want to upset anyone. What would you all think about that? Should I just start a new page with recipes or would you like to see them here?

For those of you eating low-carb…what are your favorite foods?

Eighty

My day to day routine has gotten very… Routine. Now that I’m eating food all the time now, I have to spend a bit more time planning out my week, and make sure I get to the grocery store every weekend to ensure that my eating is “mindless” during the week.

The mindless thing has been hard for me. Eating was always an event before. Now it’s just something I do so I don’t get crabby. It’s working too!

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-80.9 pounds since September!

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That’s more than my dog weighs. That’s more than many of my 6th graders weigh. I’m down 10 dress sizes and 8 pants sizes. I’m down 11 inches in my bra band. I wore a freaking strapless dress to my friends’ wedding!

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The biggest difference i can finally see is in my confidence. I put myself “out there” more, and am doing things that scare me (like going to the dentist, riding an alpine slide in a few weeks, and joining a boxing gym).

I finished grad school and will have my M.Ed. In Educational Technology as of 3 pm on Saturday, May 10!

It’s been a heck of a year…

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Transition to Food

Oh hey… guess I kind of forgot to update here, huh?

Living not blogging is far more fun 🙂

How about an update then?

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I’m officially down 77.9 pounds which is more than my adorable golden retriever weighs!

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More importantly, I received my bloodwork numbers back from my work health screening. A work health screening was what got me started on this whole thing to begin with, so I was very interested to see what the new numbers would be.

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I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped and I let out a little cheer when I read those results!! I had a few other numbers that were higher (LDL) and some that were a little “off” thanks to my recent surgery. Otherwise though, EVERYTHING was in the “healthy” range for the first time since middle school!

Food-wise, I’ve entered the phase of things that I’ve been scared of since the beginning: all REAL FOOD, all the time. A meeting with the dietitian and a food-centered class and I felt confident enough to start with all food all day. Something my dietitian said really stuck with me: “make your choices as mindless as your Optifast choices were.” So I took a trip to the grocery store.

Breakfast: protein shake made with almond milk, coffee, and whey protein

Snack: two light string cheeses

Lunch: greek light yogurt and 1 serving of raw almonds (25 of them)

Snack: either cottage cheese with sugar-free jam OR a bar OR hummus and peppers (it depends on my schedule)

Dinner: This week, crock-pot chicken barbacoa on a giant salad with cucumber, avocado, tomato, cheese, and light sour cream

Snack: sugar-free fat-free pudding made with 1% milk

Next week will likely be the same or similar. So far, it’s gone well! I am noticing that I’m a bit hungrier, so I may need to make my lunch or snack a little bigger. It’s all a learning process!

As usual, I put together a few progress pictures to keep myself motivated:

Two visits to the Botanic Gardens, a few months and 70 pounds lighter!

Two visits to the Botanic Gardens, a few months and 70 pounds lighter!

At the Botanic Gardens

At the Botanic Gardens

Progress: -77 pounds

Progress: -77 pounds

Progress: -73 pounds

Progress: -73 pounds

OH! And I entered the official Optifast “New You” contest too! Maybe I’ll post my whole essay one day… but here’s my official before and after pictures that I submitted:

Before - Summer 2013, 285 pounds

Before – Summer 2013, 285 pounds

Now - April 2014 - 207 pounds

Now – April 2014 – 207 pounds

And with that, I’m signing off! I’ll check in again soon!

Recovery & Milestones

Ever since I lost my gallbladder, things have been a little bit different around here.

I spent the first week home from the hospital doing a lot of nothing, eating bits and pieces of high-protein foods, and trying to heal. Week two of recovery was spent at work. I noticed that I hit an energy wall at about 1:00 p.m. every day. Apparently, this can be a side effect of having anesthesia (a first for me) and recovering from surgery (another first). Who knew?! I’ve noticed, though, that I haven’t had ONE headache since the surgery, which makes me think that things have been funky for a while… I’d had near daily headaches for months.

The hardest thing has been not being as active as I had been. I never thought those words would ever be a sentiment I truly felt, but seriously, I feel so lazy. I’m still sore on the inside after I eat, and I’m not supposed to exert myself for another 2 weeks, and I can’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk for another 4 weeks. Apparently post-surgical hernias aren’t too pleasant…

In weight loss news, I lost 5.8 pounds in the week before and after surgery, and gained one back in the week after. It was hard to not let the gain get to me, but I was reminded time and time again that my body had been through a trauma, and the week before I’d had days where I’d eaten next to nothing. So, my grand total of weight lost so far is…

drumroll please…

74.1 pounds!!!!! I did hit 75 pounds there for a week, and hopefully I’ll be back there this week.

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I’m a lower weight now than I’ve been since 2003. I feel better than I have in years, even with the surgical recovery.

When I hit my 70 pound mark, I knew I needed to do something for myself that I’d wanted for a while. Originally, I’d said I’d get a tattoo at 50 pounds, but since that happened a) quickly and b) in the dead of winter, I opted to hold off until 70.

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I’m in love with it, and am so pleased with how it turned out. I went to Metamorph Tattoo Studio in Chicago, in the Wicker Park neighborhood, and would recommend Zac to anyone who needs ink done. He was awesome!

In other news, the sun finally showed its face here after months of clouds… so I put on my prescription sunglasses. I noticed how differently they fit my face than before, and in shameless selfie comparison tradition:

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I’m hoping to heal quickly and get back to activity soon, and I’m continuing with transition to food, and eating anywhere from one to three meals/snacks a day. I’m supplementing with Optifast products, and noticing the change in my feelings about food. Sure, it’s great to have a great meal… but I don’t need to stuff myself to the point of pain. One big sushi roll with no rice, and I’m good to go. And now I want sushi. But in all seriousness, I’m still in shock as to how different I feel about eating. I’m not going to eat things that don’t taste good, but I’m also not eating ALL THE THINGS!

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I eat some of the things. In small quantities. And only when I’m hungry. This is an important part of this whole resetting thing. Food is fuel…delicious fuel, but still fuel.