Friday, May 4

Back on Tracking

As part of the First Place 4 Health (FP4H) program, I’m back on tracking my food.  It’s been a while since I regularly have tracked what I’m eating.
Sometimes I wasn’t tracking at all.  Those weeks I found that I was certainly able to still eat healthy (I have practically memorized calorie info for some foods because of all the tracking I’ve done in the past).  However, I noticed I was more likely to eat more than I needed and to justify that not-very-healthy foods were a better choice than they were.  For example, when you’re not tracking, it’s easy to think, “That piece of banana bread wasn’t so bad.  It had banana in it—it’s practically a serving of fruit!”  Then in reality, that piece of banana bread was a 400 calorie snack followed up by an 800 calorie lunch.

But even the weeks that I only tracked for a couple days, I found that tracking my food was a great way to maintain a realistic view of the decisions I made around food.

The gal who leads my FP4H group kept recommending  I was hesitant to even try it out.  I have tried other food tracking sites, and I find most of them very frustrating.  Either their food database is small making it hard to find any foods that I eat, or it’s plastered with so many “Lose belly fat!” ads that you can barely see the site, or it doesn’t let you set any custom settings making it useless to tailor to myself.

But I am loving!  Not only can I custom set all the nutritional and fitness settings, but their food database is amazing.  I was able to specifically set my daily max calories, and my percentages of Protein/Carbs/Fat.  You can even set the nutritional limits (like a sodium intake limit), and then tell it to track that on your food diary page.  The display is really easy to read and browse, and there’s even a print option if you have to take your diary with you (like to a meeting).

There’s also a great community!  You can invite your friends and they can see your food and fitness diaries.  Oh!  AND there’s a phone app for it (on both iPhone and Windows Phone).

Honestly, this site is hands down the best calorie tracker I’ve ever used (it even beats the 20/20 Lifestyles tracker which was previously my favorite).  If you decide to join, message me and we’ll encourage one another!

Wednesday, May 2

First Place 4 Health

On Monday I had my first First Place 4 Health (FP4H) meeting.  The program is hosted through my church, and it really appealed to me for a couple of reasons.

FP4H has a whole-life kind of approach.  The goal is to get all the aspects of me healthy: my mind, my soul, my strength and my heart.  Think of it as mental, spiritual, physical and emotional wellness.

I had mentioned giving Overeaters Anonymous (OA) a try (which I want to go into detail later), but I was having a hard time with their program.  I kept feeling like a lot of my eating issues were just symptoms of spiritual and emotional sicknesses.  I was trying to address the root issues, but I kept feeling like the OA laser focus on eating issues was getting in the way.

So I’m trying out FP4H, and I’m excited that I get to do it with ladies that I know from my church!  There’s about 15 of us (from my church and other churches as well as online).  We were measured and weighed on Monday.  I weighed in at 216, and I was once again hit with disappointment in myself.  But at least I’m pursuing help and health!

I’ve already found myself in need of a careful attitude check.  I love to learn, but sometimes I can get stubborn and convinced myself that I already know everything.  I’ve learned a lot in the past couple years about eating healthy and exercising, but I need to empty myself and come to my meetings with a humble spirit.

Monday, April 30

Trying Again

Back on the Road

It’s been a long while since I’ve given any sort of update on my wellness.  I have to say that I finished my weight loss journey over 2 years ago now, and I had genuinely thought that it was a race I had completed.  Won that one!  Mark it down as a victory and move on.

However, I’m discovering that for many people, this is simply a road we travel all our lives.  I’ve gained back almost 50 of the 100 pounds that I lost.  I can’t help but thinking, “How did I get here again?”

As I look back, I think I can finally admit that I don’t know how to implement all the healthy living that I learned in the 20/20 Lifestyles program into my everyday life.  I was unemployed while I did the program.  I literally Biggest-Loser-ed myself!  I focused solely on learning and exercise and eating well and my emotional health for almost 9 full months.  Then I got a job right as I ended my program.

Every time I try to get my life back onto the track where my physical health is a priority, I feel like I need to take a week off from work to really make it happen.  But the reality is that I will always have a job!  I need to figure out how to make life work, while still prioritizing my wellness.


I am absolutely convinced that I am addicted to sugar.  I have read and researched about food and addiction; tried and tested different methods of moderation.  Some people (not all, but some of us) are truly and physically addicted to sugar.

After many failed attempts at moderation, I decided that abstinence was worth a try.  I started going to Overeaters Anonymous meetings.  I think the program is amazing, and it is working for many people.  I attended the meetings and read The Big Book (which is worth a read for anyone who thinks they’re addicted to anything).  It was hard for me to choose a sponsor, though, because I was having a hard time connecting to anyone at my meetings on a spiritual level.  Your Higher Power is an integral part of the program, no arguing with it.  However, I was finding it very hard to share my faith.  Some people could barely stifle an eye roll when I talked about my relationship with God.  Some people could not even force themselves to say the word “God,” but could only use the generic “Higher Power.”  Some people had such a wide view of God that everything was God (but if everything is God, then how come food isn’t God?).  Anyway, I called it quits because it was making me feel isolated, which is never helpful for any kind of recovery.

Trying Again

I’m starting a new program at my church tonight, and I’m hoping that it addresses some of these needs.  I can tell you all about it tomorrow.  But the main point is that I’m not hiding from the truth anymore, and I’m finally aware that what I’m doing isn’t working.

My name is Becky, and I’m a Compulsive Overeater.

Sunday, March 13

Meal-Tracking Online

You ever have one of those work weeks that by Friday make you feel like you’re panting and out of breath?  I’ve had a couple of those back to back.  But my games have launched finally and the worst is behind me—back to the grind!
One of the most important tools you can possibly keep in your repertoire for weight loss and maintenance is meal tracking.  For weight loss, meal tracking can give you a sense of control over how quickly or slowly you lose weight.  Your meal tracker won’t make food decisions for you, but it gives you control over your accountability.  For weight maintenance, meal tracking is the perfect way to get yourself back on track—like when your company sends you to NYC and you decide to go a little nuts on NY pizza and street meat.  Hypothetically, of course.
I use a great meal tracker that was created by the 20/20 Lifestyles program that I did my weight loss with (they’re hoping to make the program available to the public in the future).  But there are a lot of great meal trackers online.
One of my good friends started using the My Plate program created by the Lance Armstrong Foundation (  She’s found the program to have almost all features she needs to help her track her weight loss (as well as some health issues).  Here are her favorite features for My Plate:
  • Provides numbers on calories, carbs, protein, fat, and sodium for each food.  You can create saved meals (foods consumed at the same time) and recipes which provide the same numbers.
  • Huge database of foods (even my weird gluten free foods) including foods that don’t have calories on the package (like Whole Foods’ sausages).
  • Tracks weight, exercise and water intake as well.
  • Has reasonable calorie goals (although the goals for fat, carbs, protein are a little skewed towards carbs).  Can chart weight against calories and see if a change is necessary.
  • Great recipe feature!  Since my husband and I cook together, and we usually cook multiple portions to reheat later.  What I do is I put all the ingredients into the system, and the servings, and it will tell me the calories/protein/carbs per serving (this helps me decide if it is worth making).  Then when we make it, I weight the pot empty and full and put into the system the total weight so that it will remind me what the right serving size is each time I have it.
Have you discovered any online (or offline) meal trackers that have been helpful?

Sunday, February 27

Cutting off the Reward Center

Did you know that the activity in the reward center of the brains of obese people is exactly the same as cocaine addicts?  I’ll say it again just in case that question didn’t sink in: when I am eating, my brain activity is the same as someone who is taking cocaine.
You’ll want to share this link I was reading with anyone who says people can’t be addicted to certain foods.
So what does this mean for us who struggle with our weight and our compulsion to eat?  Science is beginning to prove that high sugar, high fat and high salt foods have addictive qualities for certain people.  This means that some of us will have to be more vigilant than others in trying to control our eating habits.
A few of the most important things to remember:
Build in repetition of your new habits.  You have to create and repeat a new routine for yourself.  This won’t always help you overcome temptation in the moment, but it will give you a firmly planted daily routine to fall back on when you do give into temptation.
Get your blood moving.  Exercise by itself raises the dopamine that your body releases.  Exercise won’t give you the same rush that a piece of cake would, but it could give you enough of that feel-good feeling that you’re able to resist in the moment.
Find non-food rewards.  I caught myself for a while rewarding my good eating habits with the promise of bad eating moments.  To my brain, I was only reinforcing the hold that those highly palatable foods had over me.  Find big and small ways to reward yourself non-calorically, and reward yourself often.  This also means finding new ways to deal with stress.  You need to find ways to relax that won’t lead you straight back to the foods you used to turn to.
Have you found any good ways to stop the pull that food has over you?  Do you feel like there is nothing that could stop it?  How do you see this happening to you each day?

Wednesday, February 23

Cycle of Overeating

Last week, we began to talk about the reward centers in our brains.  The reward center is the area in our brain that is responsible for the feelings we have that motivate us toward certain behaviors—obviously, the behaviors that give us the most pleasure.  Our brains release hormones that drive us toward actions, like eating or social interaction, that give us that sense of reward.
However, because of reaction in our brains when we eat highly palatable foods (foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt), we develop a habitual cycle that compels us to overeat.
I’m sure you’ve found that, after dieting for a while and abstaining from the highly palatable foods that you love, you begin to build up your expectations and memories around those foods.  You’ve been on your diet perfectly for weeks, but now you’re remembering those amazing doughnuts they sell down the street.  You remember how perfect they tasted, and you find it’s all you can think about.  However, when you finally give in to your craving, your first bite isn’t as good as you remember it.
Even though you’re a little disappointed at the memory of that food, you’re brain is still darn happy that you gave in.  Our brains are driving us to give in constantly—after all, our brains are programmed to seek the things that trigger our reward centers!
I’m sure you’ve also found that, after consistently giving in to those cravings for a while, you find that you no longer crave the one food you wanted and now crave a different food.  This is because the rewards center in our brains can become immune to the response that a food previously triggered.  This is exactly what is happening when you cave and eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints (those horrible Girl Scouts will be out soon, prepare yourself).  You finish off the cookies, but find that now you’re craving potato chips.  Your brain says, “Ok, I’m done with the cookies.  The magic is gone.  But you know what would do the trick?  Something salty!”
I’m sure you see how overeating can become cyclical in these instances.  It’s so tempting to run from one highly palatable food to the other, keeping that “high” in our brains constant.  Do you see this cycle in your own life?
We’ll be talking once more this week about stopping this cycle in its tracks.   There is hope!

Wednesday, February 16

Making You Fat Is Good for Business

You may not realize this, but the American restaurant industry has perfected the science of making you fat.
Through research and scientific examination, we now know that certain foods trigger the pleasure center or the rewards center in our brains.  Foods high in sugar cause a reaction in our brains that drives us to seek out more of that food and eat more than we need to eat of that food.  Take that high-sugar food and add fat—you get a stronger reaction; take that high-sugar, high-fat food and add salt—you get the strongest reaction.
The restaurant industry employs scientists and researchers to help their chefs create food that is highly palatable (longtime readers will recognize this phrase right away).  These highly palatable foods are engineered to make you strongly desire them and overeat them.  Restaurants layer salt on fat on sugar and then sit back as you dish out your money to them. 
For example, fast food French fries.  At the processing plant, they slice up potatoes (a carbohydrate that your body immediately processes into sugar) and fry them in salted vegetable oil (fat with added salt).  They are also sprayed with a sugar solution to help them brown (more sugar).  The French fries are then flash frozen and sent to the restaurant.  At the restaurant, the frozen fries are tossed again into frying oil and then salted before they’re served (more fat and salt).  What’s a French fry?  It’s sugar layered with fat and salt, more sugar, and more fat and salt.
No wonder our brains seek out these foods exactly like an addiction.
I’ll be talking more in the next week or so about our reward centers.  Our long term success depends upon understanding how our brains work and creating a plan on how to deal with our addictions.

Monday, February 14

Love Those Pounds Away!

In honor of Valentine’s Day today—especially considering most of us will both be eating out and skipping the gym—here’s a few ways you can get to your daily calorie burn and get your lovin’ in at the same time:
Grab your hubby’s hand and go for a walk.  A one-mile leisurely stroll will burn 100 calories for you.
If you add some smooching in during your walk, you can burn 2 calories for each minute you spend lip-locked.
Or the two of you could jump on one of those very romantic two-seater bikes.  With the breeze in your hair, a 30-minute pedal with your love could burn you 150 calories.
Let’s say you happen to ride that two-seater to a secluded romantic spot, a little… ahem… “interlude” would add 30 calories to your daily burn.
I’m splurging for the day and doing pizza and a movie with the husband.  How are you spending your Love Day?

Friday, February 11

Spreading Love… and Healthy Living!

I just heard about an exciting movement this week!  It’s called The 100 Women Project.  Not a super catchy name, but wait until you hear their goal.  It’s a movement being run by a mom and daughter duo.  With daughter’s help, mom lost 90 pounds and has learned how to keep it off.  The duo is determined to help other women accomplish similar goals, and their hope is to create a ripple effect of health and wellness that travels far beyond their initial scope.
Here’s how the program is going to work.  They’re looking for 100 women to join the project.  These women will receive all the tools and support they need on their journey: coaching, nutrition guidance, food recommendations, self-care products, recipes, etc.  Participants will learn how to build sustainably healthy lives.
The project will culminate with a book that will not only celebrate the transformations of this initial 100 women, but will serve as inspiration for other women now embarking on their own transformations of health and wellness.
You can check out their story and other program details at
I’m really excited about this project, I’ll be following it as they get started in the next couple of months.  It’s motivating to see others succeed in passing on their experiences and knowledge.  I know that my own transformation made me want to share it with others.
I hope you’ll hop by their website and check it out.  Please pass it on to anyone who you think might be interested in becoming a participant!  There aren’t many people in this world just handing out help with good hearts—you need to accept the help in whatever form it comes.

Wednesday, February 9

Packaging Doesn’t Always Equal Junk

With my job having been so crazy lately, grocery shopping has taken a bit of a dive in my priorities.  Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not sticking to my calorie range and eating as well as I should!  That just means I don’t have a lot of fresh food around the house (or time to prepare it, even if I did).  I realized today when I was packing my lunch that I have a kind of emergency supply of pre-packaged healthy foods for just these seasons!
So here are a few of my favorite quick-to-grab, easy-to-make foods:
StarKist Tuna Salad Pouch – I about fell over from shock when I first looked at the nutritional info on these little 3oz pouches.  There are only 100 calories in one pouch, 13g of protein and only 3g of fat!  Seriously, quickest lunch ever: grab two of these pouches and couple whole wheat crackers.
Brothers-All-Natural Fruit Crisps – Since I don’t have any fresh fruit around the house, these little pouches of freeze dried apples, pears, bananas and strawberries are the perfect answer.  Each little pouch of fruit is 40-60 calories of nothing but fruit!  They also help with those crunchy, munchy cravings.  I like getting the big box at Costco, but you can find them most anywhere.
Birds Eye Steamfresh Veggies – I’m sure you’ve already seen these at your grocery store—they’re everywhere!  If you don’t already keep some bags of the steam-in-bag microwave veggies around your house, you need to.  There’s no quicker dinner!  I’ll throw some chicken on to broil (add a very small amount of BBQ or teriyaki sauce on the side) and a bag of these veggies.  Dinner is done in 15 minutes and I got my veggies for the day!
SnackMasters Turkey Jerky – This one is my new favorite snack to go!  I’ve had turkey jerky before, but this SnackMasters brand just tastes amazing.  Their Teriyaki flavor is my favorite, but they also have Hot & Spicy.  Heck, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could try their salmon jerky or ahi tuna jerky!  The turkey jerky is only 70 calories in an ounce, and it’s a quick grab when you’re on the go.
Do you have any favorites in the pre-packaged category?  Does packaging make you nervous?  What are your secret weapons when you’re schedule gets crazy?

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