Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Last day of Week 3...

I'm just home from my end of week 3 weigh in and this week I'm down another 2.5 pounds,   making my total weight loss approximately 11 pounds.  Although I'm not losing as fast as I (or Dr. S) would like, at least I'm losing.  Today we are cutting back the number of servings I have per day from 7 to 6.  This is good news too!

I learned a great deal at today's group.  Did you know that exercise, while good for your heart and overall well-being, isn't a key factor in weight loss?  That explains a LOT, as I used to exercise like mad doing cardio and weight training with a personal trainer and NEVER lost anything.  Instead, the key to weight loss is all in your diet.  Change your diet and you'll lose weight.  Add exercise to that, and you'll lose more.  However, the key is your diet.  Interesting.

In addition, something I knew, but it was good to hear again, weight training is more important in weight loss than cardio.  When you weight train, you increase your metabolism for not only the time you're working out, but for a total of three (yes 3!!!) days.  Therefore, it's best to have a few days between strength training sessions.

So, if you have your diet right, do weight training at least twice a week, and slip some cardio in there for fun, things should start happening.  :)

Also, I was feeling down about having lost "only" 11 pounds so far.  Then Dr. S pulled out the mock 5 lb of fat model he has.  Holy smokes, I've lost over 2 of those!  It made a huge impression.  I'm not so "blah" about 11 pounds any longer!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Week 2 Weigh In....

....did not go as well as Week 1. 
Only down around 1 pound.  However, let's look at it this way, in two weeks, I lost 9 pounds - YAY! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Liver enzymes...

So, Dr. S. got back with me about my out-of-normal-range liver enzymes and what he  had to say was quite interesting.  It seems that they were within normal range when tested before I started Optifast and have gotten out of kilter only since being on the fast.  He stated that it is nothing to worry about because when you are fasting and losing weight, it mobilizes the (unhealthy) fat that has been stored in the liver, pushing it out to be expelled.  This is a good thing.  However, a side effect of this happening is the activation of all these enzymes and their getting overstimulated for a while.  When the process of clearing the fat in the liver slows down, the enzyme levels should improve on my labs.

Whew!  So, this is good news!

The hypochondriac in me is happy!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hi all, it's been a while, hasn't it?  I even missed posting about my first week weigh-in.  Well, even falling off the bandwagon, so to speak, I lost a total of 7.7 pounds in week 1.  My blood pressure was also down from the first time I was in the clinic.  The sad thing is that, although I know this is a great loss, I was hoping for more.  But, I'm okay with the loss...I mean, when was the last time I lost 7+ pounds in ONE WEEK?!  Pretty groovy!

Today I received some tests back regarding my bloodwork and I am a bit concerned that my liver enzymes seem to be out of range.  Although the clinicians I work with tell me not to worry about it too much, I still called Dr. S. to see what he has to say.  The last thing I need is for my liver to go kaput!'s to keeping it real until Wednesday evening, which will be the when I weigh-in for Week 2...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Personal Responsibility

This week's group "homework" was to read and reflect upon the Lifestyle Education Series chapter on Personal Responsibility.  [Aside: The Lifestyle Education Series is a binder given to you that has a chapter each week you are on the weight loss phase of Optifast.  Each chapter includes something to read/work on for that particular week, which will be discussed in the group following group meeting.]  After reading it this morning, I have done a lot of thinking about how I can be more responsible for my actions and reactions to things in life.  One thing I decided is that, if I'm on this journey, I must be honest about the process and take responsibility for the "potholes" into which I may fall. 

Yesterday I mentioned that it was a stressful day, I let things get "under my skin" and started ruminating about how everything could just be better "if....."  As a result, I learned that stress is one of my triggers for eating. 

And, guess what?  I ate. 

In the past I would never admit when I slipped up and took a step backward, but I am not going to be that way here.  I know that people are reading this blog (thank you!) and I feel that I need to post the good with the bad.  I need to take personal responsibility, but don't think I didn't consider just picking up where I left off and never "telling."

Anyway, I was the one who put the extra food into my mouth last night.  I'm the one who actually got up, popped popcorn and ate it.  Who cooked spaghetti and ate it.  No one else.  Me.  I did it.  And, believe me, I am not proud.  I know I've let people down, most of all myself, but also the wonderful guy I am dating who has been by my side and very vocal with his support.  As ashamed as I am of myself, it is the disappointment that I think he will have when reading this that hurts me the most.

I knew that I had gotten off schedule yesterday, having my lunch shake/bar a bit later than I should have and then didn't have the mid-afternoon shake at all.  It was so close to dinnertime that I decided I'd just skip that shake and have the soup/shake for dinner and then the after dinner bar.  However, after dinner, I will admit, I was hungry, or what I thought was hungry....I really don't know anymore.  Was it in my head, or was I truly hungry?  I guess I'll have to work that out on my own...the physical hunger v/s psychological hunger that was mentioned in last group. 

It doesn't matter though, whether I was bored, hungry, or stressed.  Those are all excuses for why I ate off plan.  Personal responsibility would say that I ate, I'm the one who made the conscious decision to do so.  I own that.  Now, today is a new day and I'm going to treat it as such.  Back to being on schedule...come Hell or high water, I'm sticking to the schedule today.

If you are on the Optifast program and have read the Personal Responsibility section, you'll understand this, my final comment for today....

 ....I am starting to see the pothole and I'm learning to walk around it. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

The first weekend...

I made it through my first weekend on Optifast, although I won't say there was anything fun about it.  Even though I am still having some cravings, I am noticing that they are for healthier things, like salad and veggie subs.  I guess that's progress.  I am also very happy to report that I have only given in once and that was for a cup of jello, which some people report being allowed to have while they're on this program.  So, I don't feel too guilty.  It was jello, pizza, or popcorn; I think I made the right choice. 

Today was quite humorous.  We had a meeting at work where we were all given a champagne glass with sparkling cider to toast our clinic staff for making it through three inspections in the past month.  Did I mention I love sparking cider?  Well, I told my co-manager, the only person at the clinic who knows I'm on the Optifast program, that I wasn't going to drink any of the cider, but just toast everyone and "fake it" - put it up to my lips like I was sipping it.  After sitting it down, she covertly drank it for me and I don't think my boss noticed.  :)

The rest of the day has been quite frustrating, for various reasons and I find myself wanting to eat "real" food.  I didn't used to think that I was a stress eater, but I guess I am.  That is my first Optifast lesson. 

Friday, June 1, 2012


Here in Richmond there are two great pizza shops, "Bottom's Up" and "Mary Angela's," and right now I would love to have a greasy, cheese pizza from MA's.  Most Friday evenings I would give in and have pizza, but not tonight.  Tonight it is chicken soup from Optifast..

So, instead, I'm reading blogs.  I have found several blogs by folks who are also going through the Optifast program (some links are posted on the right side of this page) and they are a great source of inspiration.  Seeing that other people have gone through this during the first few weeks and managed to get through it gives me hope.  However, their saying that it gets easier and the cravings diminish really gives me hope.  That's because, right now, I'd gnaw off my arm for that pizza!

Thank goodness for the online support, the Optifast facebook page, and a wonderful BF who is understanding and willing to put up with my madness!

Day 2...

I can proudly say that I rounded out Day 1 without cheating or killing anyone.  Win!

Actually, in the evening I have a lot to consume - the soup, shake, and a bar.  The soup is actually pretty good, very creamy and comforting.  By the end of the bowl, I was ready to be finished with it, but at least it is palatable.  So, the only thing I have found that I just have to force down is the strawberry shake.  I guess I will look at it as "medicine," not food.  It's just something I have to do for now.

I woke up this morning to an email from Dr. S. regarding the labwork that he'd done prior to my starting the program.  Surprisingly, everything checked out okay with normal kidney, liver, glucose, electrolytes, thyroid, testosterone, and uric acid levels.  The only thing that was a bit off was my LDL cholesterol, with mine being 155 and the goal being <130.  So, there is room to improve in that department, which I am positive will happen as a result of this program.  Likewise, although my BP isn't diagnosable as "high," it will also be good to see that drop throughout the next few weeks.

I must admit though, I broke my promise to not get on the scale.  It was just too tempting this morning to not jump on, just to have a peek.  I was happy to see that it was down a little bit, but I'm sure that can't be attributed to one day of being on the program.  It's more likely due to weighing naked, versus in jeans and a top! 

Today, I just finished up lunch and so far, so good!

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Well, I was supposed to have lunch between 12n and 1pm, but I went ahead and had it a little early, due to the fact that my stomach was feeling like it was digesting itself and I was getting a bit queasy.  This time, I had the chocolate shake and the berry bar.  The bar was pretty good and the shake, although not something I would ever crave, was much more tolerable than the strawberry.  I think I'll be switching to all chocolate shakes in the future! 

My fluid intake has been pretty good, as they want someone on the program to have a minimum of two liters of water (or non-carbonated drinks) per day.  I think I've had about 32oz of water with flavoring, one diet Pepsi, and am working on an unsweetened ice tea from McDonalds right now.  Anything bad in my body is definitely being flushed out! 

In another hour I'll have the third shake of the day (another strawberry).  Tonight at home will be interesting, as that is the time I generally snack and do the majority of my eating.  However, I just have to keep myself focused on doing things non-food related....taking a walk, reading the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy, starting back to my hypnosis tapes....

....but, I do plan on emptying the fridge the rest of the way tonight!

The first drink...

Last night I went to my first group meeting where there were five people who had been on the program for various amounts of time (two of whom were getting ready to transition to Phase II) and three of us who were starting the actual program today.  Although I have always been a bit hesitant about group therapy sessions, tending to be the quiet one who sits in the corner not speaking, I really enjoyed this one, feeling comfortable and very welcome.

Talking to everyone, it seems there are a wide range of experiences.  Some report no problems with feeling hungry, saying the Optifast meals completely satisfy them; others say they have been hungry throughout the program, but continue to stick with it.  Likewise, you are not expected or coerced into telling your weight loss, but everyone was quite open with their success stories, with some people having lost almost 20 pounds in two weeks and another who was getting ready to transition and had lost almost 50 pounds.  Others have different stories, some not having lost quite as much, but everyone is seeing downward movement on the scale. 

I, for one, have a scale at home, but have resolved to not use it.  Unlike in other diets, where I weighed myself daily, I am going to take this experience week by week and weigh in only on Wednesday evenings before meeting.  No more daily weight obsession!  I am hoping that changes in my clothing will begin to show me that I am succeeding without the need for the scale.

This morning, as I write this, I have had my first Optifast meal replacement - a strawberry "shake."  It was one of the pre-mixed, boxed variety, as I am all about convenience.  I will admit, it was gross and had me gagging after the first sip, but I did manage to get it down (albeit by holding my nose and chugging at one point).  Prior to tasting it, I wondered if the small 8oz box would be enough to sustain me until my next meal; after tasting it, I have to admit I was happy to not have a larger serving!  In a few hours I will have lunch, which will be another shake (this time chocolate) and a bar.  I am really hoping the chocolate is better!  Right now, the way my plan is set up, I will have two strawberry shakes and two chocolate shakes per day, along with two bars and one soup....don't worry, I'll let you know how everything tastes!

I am hoping that, like in the past, my taste changes as my taste buds "forget" the true sweetness of sugar and processed foods and become more accepting of these new, Optifast replacements.  Otherwise, this is going to be a long 12-16 weeks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

And so it begins...

Seventh grade was a horrible year for me, spent mostly being tormented by other children for my weight.  In fact, more often than not, one would have thought my name was "Buffy," not Wendy, as that shortened version of the word "buffalo" was what my classmates determined to call me in the hallways and under their breaths during class.  I was humiliated and don't remember having many real friends.  The summer after that miserable year I started my first "real" diet through "The Diet Center."  On that plan, I would eat very structured meals while taking a handful of vitamins throughout the day.  The worst part was the hot lemon drinks I had to force down several times a day - they consisted of warmed water with powdery lemon-flavored vitamins mixed in.  Ugh, just the memory makes me wretch!  I lost over 30 pounds on that diet and started 8th grade a thinner, yet still insecure, me. 

Over the years, I have gained and gained, yet I didn't do any formal weight loss plans again until I tried the South Beach diet about 10 years ago.  I stuck to it and lost about 30 pounds (30 pounds seems to be my "cut off" point).  It was exciting to get down to below 200 pounds for the first time since sometime before high school and I vowed to never allow myself to reach that point again. 

Of course, I broke that vow.

Over the course of several years, I not only gained that weight back, but I gained it back plus some.  From that point on, I have cycled through the weight loss programs, including Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and some metabolic specific program offered through my gym.  I have worked out diligently with a personal trainer, as well as on my own.  I even went through initial counseling and preop appointments with a bariatric surgeon.  However, I backed out before the surgery, scared of the potential side effects. 

So, here I am, starting the Optifast program.  I learned about it by researching a local physician who happens to specialize in internal medicine, bariatrics, and endocrinology and focuses on working with patients who need a medically supervised weight loss plan.  As someone who works in health care, I found the idea of having a physician to whom I would be accountable and would be monitoring my health (via regular blood testing) to be an upside to working with him, as opposed to going back to Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig.  Plus, my weight has spiked to an all time high and it is time for drastic measures...hence, the Optifast.

Optifast, as I discovered yesterday during my initial health screening with Dr. S, is a drastic step.  It will consist of eliminating all foods from my diet and using meal replacements for 12 weeks.  These meal replacements consist of shakes, bars, and soup, which I am very apprehensive about because I have never enjoyed the taste of such items.  Basically, this is a liquid diet that severely restricts the amount of calories you take in over a 24-hour period, with most people having 800-1200 calories a day.  (The actual number you have depends upon your BMI; my BMI will call for me starting at 1200 calories/day, which will eventually decrease to 800/day). 

After the initial 12-week period, I will be transitioned to a 10 week phase where food is slowly added back into my diet.  Over the entire 22-weeks of the program, I will take part in weekly psychologist-led counseling sessions to redefine my relationship with food, as well as meet with a registered dietitian.  The goal is to pretty much take a break from food, during which time I will relearn how to eat and how to work around my triggers. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit apprehensive.  This program is quite expensive and I don't want to spend money for another program that doesn't work in the long run.  However, I have to make it work this time.  I am starting to see that I am having back pain and other issues related to being overweight, not mention the psychological damage I do to myself each time I look into a mirror and take part in negative self-talk. 

It is time to make a change.