Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Dream Starring Catherine

I posted about my dreams involving you all yesterday. Then I had another one last night, again with Catherine in the leading role. Catherine had posted on her blog a huge tribute to a Valentine's Day 5K that she was running. The post was so huge that it came off of the computer screen and onto my desk, unfolding in a 3-D fashion. There were all sorts of videos and virtual runners bopping around everywhere. It was amazing! Props to my dream Catherine for being so creative and, mostly, for figuring out how to do that! :) :) :) LOL!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

How To Figure Caloric Intake and Expenditure: The Cara Example

Hey, Cara. I could not post this as a comment because it was far too long. But I wanted to let you know this info tonight before I went to bed (or today for you :) ). If you don't mind me posting it (tell me if you do), it may also be helpful for others to see how it's done. And don't be intimidated by the information below. It's really not complicated, but I just wanted to make sure I covered everything I could think might pose an issue for you or anyone else.

Okay, calculating caloric intake and expenditure is a two-step process really (but a simple one if you go to the sites and use the easy calculator). I don't know if I explained the process well initially. That may have been what mucked poor Cara up. So I'll try to do a better, more thorough job here.

First you go to the BMR calculator page at I don't have a link to this one (though my link has a link :) ). This is different than your BMI, so don't even think about your BMI while you're doing this.

I cannot recall how tall Cara is, but I entered (guessed) 5'5 since I figure she is somewhere thereabouts (and that is about average--at least for Americans). (If your height is wrong (sorry :( ), you can go to that site and enter your height and other info). So what you do when you get there is enter your height, weight, and age (and you can even use the metric system--you can click a simple link to do this right above where you enter the info). I used the Imperial (US-used scale to make it easier for me--after I converted her kilos to pounds). After you enter this info and hit 'Calculate BMR', your BMR should be in red right above the calculator. (By the way, this is the area where you can change your weight to your goal weight and such to see what you will need to do to maintain when you get to that point).

Next, you go to the Harris-Benedict Formula page, which is where the real action happens (that is my Caloric Intake Formula Link on the right--it's a whole different page than the BMR page). Remember to use the BMR number you just calculated and not your BMI or any other number. So what I did with you was take Cara's BMR number and multiply it by the sedentary activity number of 1.2. I used the sedentary activity level in calculating this (I do this with mine almost every time to see what I could technically eat with the least possible activity--but you can change this to more accurately reflect your lifestyle if you do it again).

So, again, multiply your BMR--the number in red from the BMR calculator website above--by one of the activity numbers on the Harris-Benedict page. It is really as simple as this last sentence. For Cara (at 5'5" tall, which may or may not be her height), I got 1874.838 when I multiplied her figures by the sedentary 1.2 number (on my trusty pink calculator). Of course, you can do that part by hand too--and there is a formula for the whole deal that I can give you if this still doesn't work or make sense. Good luck everyone!

Weighty Websites

I lifted these from a blog I love to follow, and I think these sites are neat (But I'm still am a big fan of the Harris-Benedict Equation. Please click on my link on the right side of my blog that says Caloric Intake Formula, and you can determine how many calories you should be taking in each day. I posted a blog about how to do this the other day).

Compare the calories at your favorite fast food joints.

How Many Calories is in a Thanksgiving Dinner?

Eat, Drink, and Be Wary
What will it take to burn off some of those favorites?

The Top 100 Foods to Improve Productivity

Buy Better Groceries

Two Foods
Compare the nutritional value of any two foods.

Bandster Dreams

In Cara's last post, she mentioned that she is 'seeing' other bandsters when she is out and about. I have been dreaming about you all lately instead. I've recently had dreams about Brooke (whose house I was visiting), Catherine (who I was pretty much stalking in NYC--disturbing even to me), Angie, Liz (who was driving around with me and her kids) and Amy W. (before I met her--she didn't really like me in my dream). I can't get enough of you guys--even when I'm asleep (and when I'm having bad encounters with you all in dreamland at that :) )!

By the way, I am planning to go back and respond to comments on my blog and add new followers. I am also going to put up some pictures (but maybe black out the face). I hope to take care of those things soon.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Science of Weight Loss

I have been wanting to post something like this for months and am finally getting around to it. As you all know, I watch a lot of documentaries and other programs concerning weight loss. I also read a lot about WLS and weight loss in general. This post is about some of the more scientific areas of understanding weight loss that enable me to wrap my brain around the subject.

First, there is the Harris-Benedict Equation. There is a site devoted to calculating this that is one of my links on the right side of my blog (called Caloric Intake Formula--although it is for expenditures too). It has been very helpful to me. I found out about this equation through my emails from Jillian Michaels--not personally, mind you, it was a listing-type deal :). If you aren't already familiar with it, the site states that the Harris Benedict Equation is a formula that uses your BMR [which you can also calculate on the site as well by simply inputting your height and age] and then applies an activity factor to determine your total daily energy expenditure (calories). So essentially, you plug in some numbers (you can plug in your goal weight, your current weight, or any number in between) to see how many calories EXACTLY you should be taking in and expending to maintain (or in some of our cases, to achieve) a certain weight. For the more math-minded folks, there is an actual formula too (you can find it on the site if you'd like), but it is a lot easier for me just to plug in the numbers. I like this formula because it tells me directly how many calories I should be eating and burning each day based on my height and age...and how many I will need to be taking in at goal when I get there. Once you use it a couple of times, it is really not that complicated to understand and is most useful and convenient.

Another interesting bit from science that I want to share is with regard to Leptin. Leptin has been referred to as the 'appetite gene' by scientists dealing with obesity studies today. It is attributed with controlling the impulse to overeat. Without this gene, people will desire to eat too much. In studies with mice (poor little guys--evidently they like to use them in weight-loss studies; I know I've blogged about their use before), mice without Leptin were always hungry and ate continuously. Fat mice and thin mice were distinguished from one another because thin mice had the gene and fat mice did not. The mice had the same environment, exercise, water, and food. They could be cousins or brothers and sisters with thin mice, but Leptin was the only difference. Leptin tells mice and humans that we've had enough. Without it, there's no signal from the brain to stop eating. Many other genes help determine appetite in humans too. And from all of the studies of these, science is showing that it is not greed or lack of willpower but genetic makeup that makes us want to overeat. Years ago, Leptin and other genes developed to help fight famine, but with today's fat diet and couch-potato lifestyle, these helpful genes have become things that could kill us. Obese people are obviously aware of what they are doing to themselves when they gain weight, but science has shown that even though they know that they will feel wretched if they eat more) they do it anyway because the drive is so strong. Where one person eats and is perfectly content not to eat again for five or more hours, people without the Leptin gene are looking for another meal to eat in two hours. It is more than willpower to eat less. Therefore, as one doctor stated, "People can either accept Leptin as the appetite gene or think that obese people are weak willed, fat, lazy, and disgusting" and that the obese "are not as good as they [the thin people] are because they're thin." This area of study makes a lot of sense to me and is part of the theory that many weight loss surgeons and staff use.

And to briefly review one other area of scientific tackling of weight loss, I have also heard about advances in the Battle Against Head Hunger. In fact, cutting-edge technologies (and even surgeries) have been developed and are addressing it (although they are not perfected at this point).

Saying all that, nothing I mentioned above discussed metabolism. We hear a lot about this. So how does that factor in to the HB Equation (I REALLY want to know this since the formula that is constantly touted is 'calories in, calories out'--not that this isn't right, just that I am curious about this)? And what about how it fits in with the Leptin gene? If metabolism truly has nothing to do with it, then are we obese people truly eating more calories each day than our skinny counterparts? Sometimes that's hard to accept, but I, for one, haven't done a quantitative study on that particular subject--so it's not for me to know or say.

What about things that have been scientifically shown to miss the mark? Some things that haven't been found as effective at permanent weight loss are body wraps, colon cleansing, and steam rooms (to shed water weight, which will inevitably come back on since we have to drink to live). Also, as my surgeon told me, the things that many weight-loss drugs will do to a person (side effects and such) are more harmful by far than surgery. Of course, we definitely want to avoid anorexia and bulimia nervosa. My understanding is that some bandits see WLS as an opportunity to engage in those types of behaviors more easily. Not to sound preachy or anything, but we all should try to keep in mind that we did this for our health (in addition to other things, yes), and starving and vomiting will hurt, not help, in bringing about more healthy lifestyles.

So I guess we have to stick to what we do know at this point--simplify our understanding that it is, at least to some extent, all about intake and expenditure of calories (guided by BMI, BMR, and the Harris-Benedict Formula). Also, drinking water, getting fiber, taking vitamins, trying to get as close to a normal BMI as possible (and if inside normal, my Wii told me the other day that a BMI of 22 is supposed to be the BMI number for optimal health--although on whose BMI scale? :) ), and exercising with cardio and weights (excercise has been labeled by several to be the best medicine for the body) are the tried and true approaches. And thank goodness for the band, of course, to help with backsliding and to remind us that we need to stop chowing down sometimes (it's our surgically devised Leptin substitute, I guess :) )!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Judgmental People: Exhibit A (or Z even) of Why I Don't Put my Bandit Status on Blast

So many of you know that I keep my band quite hush hush. While I've only told two people total about my surgery, I recently had a nail in the coffin to not to tell people in my professional circle. The scenario was this: The other day, my co-workers and I (including my boss) were talking about another local professional. One of the people in the group said something to the effect that, "Well, he should have lost weight: he had gastric bypass." The rest of the group agreed and acted as if that is the 'lazy person' approach to weight loss. There was a little more that I gathered from that coversation, but it's too filled with unspoken opinions and biases, I guess you'd say, to really articulate well in this forum.

With the unfortunate stereotypes surrounding WLS, it is too risky for me as a new employee (and fairly new attorney) to carry the torch of the banded among my peers at work (and even heightens my fears in telling others outside of work), particularly in this current job market. Will people think that I don't have a good work ethic because I took the so-called 'easy road' or that I'll cut corners? This inability to speak about the band is annoying. I certainly don't want any of my bandster friends to feel like I have isolated myself from my proud band-wearing community. I AM proud of all of our achievements, but I guess I just have to keep those thoughts closely held outside of you all and select others. In my blog a few days ago, many of you mentioned that we have a great support network and that people 'get it' here. That is so true and makes me not feel alone when I hear comments like I did at work.

So now that I've prefaced this, here's my opportunity to address my co-workers' comments (without the risk of being 'discovered'); please excuse my aggressive-assertive bitterness, by the way. Okay, so WLS has better long-term success rates than non-surgical weight-loss approaches. If you have been skinny all your life, you likely wouldn't pay any attention to this fact. You are probably also lumping us into that societally imposed lazy group of big people that just don't care--maybe even believing that we willingly choose to be big. But that just isn't true. Most of us know a lot about fitness and nutrition (hello, we've been working at getting there forever). Also, it seems like a lot of us here are working a lot harder than many skinny folks I see. We are watching with CAREFUL scrutiny what and how much we eat. We are also jogging; gyming it; doing Pilates; participating in Boot Camp classes; training for races with the C25K and other programs; spinning; doing yoga; getting fit with the Wii; swimming; doing aerobics with and without exercise videos; dancing; using the ellipticals, treadmills and gazelles; lifting; hiking; snowshoeing and skiing; seeing Grim Reapers and such while doing Zumba classes (see Amy W's blog); and moving in general. Heck, I hear far more about exercise and food choices here than I have ever heard in my life--and that's coming from someone who was registered for daily fitness/nutrition emails from Jillian Michaels for three years!!! That said, these stereotypers need to take a hike, but they'd best watch out for us beating them up the hills! Hrrmpphhh!!! So there!!!! Take that!!!

Okay, now I have to go back to my life as an undercover spy. :) I hope you are all having a good week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Zumba With Cheese and Sunkist

Tonight I went to a local Zumba class with Amy. As I told her when I was sweating and begging for an extra air hole, there is no way in Hades that I could have finished that class (or the first song) without having been jogging for months (well, that plus prayer plus Amy). I just have to say again how great Amy is. When I was about to pass out, she VOLUNTEERED to go in front of the class and dance! She was the ONLY one to do this!! I was so proud that I was there with her. What a star!!! Well, we already know that.

Also, as I mentioned to Amy, I think that this class is great for children: get their energy completely burned and gone so that they'll act like little angels. Zumba is going to be a weapon in my arsenal when I become a parent. :) :) :)

As for me, I must have burned at least a million calories, right?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oral Fixation, Perhaps?

I used to suck my thumb when I was a kid--until well into middle school. Yes, crazy I know. My parents tried everything to make me quit. They offered incentives like a TV and a go-cart. They punished me with spankings and sentences. They used Tabasco Sauce on my thumb along with the nasty habit-breaking clear fingernail polish (my sister and I called it 'Skunk Medicine' for some reason; we called Pepto Bismol 'Bunny Rabbit Medicine', so I guess we were just really into giving animal names to what we considered 'medicine', a loose family of things, it now seems). The parents also taped mittens and socks on my left hand (the culprit thumb was on that hand, and I didn't care much for the right thumb--can't say why that was though). Most embarrassingly now, I had habit appliances (fang-like permanent devices from the orthodontist--I broke SEVEN of them because I was so determined to do what I wanted).

Well, finally I quit; this was a decision I made on my own without any outside incentives offered or devices imposed at that time. But after the thumb sucking stopped, I constantly chewed gum for about two years. About the time I quit doing that was when I started gaining weight. I wonder if there is any correlation? I just put all this together to come to the conclusion that I have always liked to have something in my mouth (let's stay clean here, folks :) ). In fact, I still bite my fingernails (I know that this is disgusting to some of you). I'm not sure really if there is any tie in all this to gaining weight for certain, but I have started chewing gum again lately (we've all heard the five-calorie chant from The Biggest Loser, I suspect); however, I'm evidently inept at that these days as I bit my cheek and lip to the point that I had terrible ulcers in my mouth (again, that's probably TMI). Any ideas to keep my mouth occupied without the calorie gain or ulcers?

Atkins Endulge Chocolate Coconut Bars

I have not done a product review or anything like that before...but I have recently had something that I LOVE. Okay, to preface, Mounds and Almond Joys are some of my go-to candy bars. I know that some people have an aversion to coconut, so just skip this post if that is you. If you are like me though, you might want to try these. They taste VERY similar to Mounds and are more filling (and have less calories, more fiber, and more protein). They are a little on the pricey side, but if you just want a chocolate snack every now and then, it is good to have them lying around instead of the stuff that has no redeeming value.

Now, how do I get this as a freebie like some of you guys???? :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

'One of Us'

Last night, I was out with my guy. I was talking about a fellow bandster blogger, and he was asking me (again), "Who is that?" I said, "She is one of us." We both started laughing. He said it sounded like we were not human or not from this planet or something like that.

In talking to others, some of us get a hard time from their significant others about their blog friends....not mean...just a little playful snickers sometimes since we've never met in 'real life'. But they just don't understand; they are not 'one of us'! :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

How to Take a Compliment 101

Two posts in one day!

Gen mentioned a compliment episode on her blog, and it made me think that I need to sign up for the class on taking compliments too! I haven't had many people notice my weight change because a) I haven't lost as much as most bandsters (40 pounds); b) I've changed jobs recently (so no one there knows the 'before' me); and c) most of the people who are close to me see me fairly frequently (or haven't seen me in a while--some even before I gained since I was away for school and in hiding when I was home)--if you see someone daily or weekly, it is is more difficult to notice changes, it seems.

Anyhow, the other night, my significant other and I were watching the Rose Bowl (he's a HUGE Bama fan) with another couple who we've gone to games with (over a year ago when money wasn't so tight). Well, it has been about that long since we've seen them, and the wife mentioned that I looked like I had lost a lot of weight and looked great. I can't remember what I said, but I bumbled through the whole thing and sounded quite ridiculous, I'm sure. I even felt the need to apologize to her because I felt like I didn't take the compliment well (not that I said anything snotty or annoying, but I surely could've handed it better). Interestingly enough, my understanding is that she had a bypass several years ago. I'm not certain of this--and though I don't want my band news broadcast to his friend group, I would probably be tempted to tell her under different circumstances if I knew for sure she'd had surgery (no judgment there--one of my biggest obstacles in telling people!).

Anyhow, sign me up for the class, Gen, and tell me when it starts!!!

Meeting Mary, My Fill, and An NSV

This post is definitely long overdue! I had intended to put something up right after my meeting with Amy and Mary! First I want to say that Mary is very sweet and so pretty (love those eyes!). Amy (as mentioned before) is still just as witty and amazing in person as she is online. They both have had such great results with the band and are so beautiful (Mary, you are right about Amy's tan!). I am so lucky that we live close to one another. I can't wait to meet Lacey and Melly too so we can round out our little circle of Panhandle Bandsters. Let us know when you can get together, ladies!

Anyhow, we had some great convos including wedding talk and, of course, general band discussion. Mary and Amy both thought I needed more of a fill since while they were eating their respective soups, I was still chowing down on fried chicken tacos (sans the tortilla wraps) and could've kept going on the nachos had I been in a nacho mood. I also told them that I had a Whataburger chicken biscuit for breakfast and something else really big that day (that I can't recall now--that's why I need to blog as things occur) while they were having and being satisfied with small meals that day. The server even told me that I scraped as much as I could out of the tortillas--a little embarrassing especially considering that I was with bandster friends. But, sadly enough, it has gotten worse since! For instance, yesterday I had three hand-tossed pieces of pizza (with crust) in a row after a soup and then another piece about an hour later. That was definitely not all I ate yesterday. I came in at well over 2,000 calories. Argh!!! I know that these meal types I'm sharing aren't model bandster behavior, but I eat pretty well most of the time. I often have the ricotta/spaghetti sauce combo, soups, grits and eggs, grilled chicken breasts/fish/pork chops and Lean Cuisine Meals, but sometimes I just feel like I'm starving and get really ravenous.

Anyhow, that segue ways nicely into the next point. I got a fill today! I guess it is still Christmas in Nyeland (Nye is my doctor :) ). While he was either not giving me fills at all or giving me very small fills throughout the Fall, he has been super generous the last two visits. He gave me .5 today (and told me I looked good), which brings me up to 3.5. I've got to be getting close (I hope) since my band is somewhere between 4 and 5 cc's total. I guess I'll have a better idea of what's going to happen with this fill in a few weeks as that's when my fills usually settle in more. I am okay with more of a fill for (at least) three reasons: 1) I haven't seen my lowest weight since around Christmas (I'm a couple of pounds above so nothing terrible, but still); 2) I read on a blog that the band is supposed to make you a little uncomfortable--if it's not a little, then it's not doing it's job (this doesn't mean one can't drink water, of course, but just make us eat slower and remember the rules and such as a result); and 3) I think maybe my band has gotten looser since I've lost more and more weight--lost the 'fat pad' or whatever it's called that came with my excess weight--so now if I want to lose weight, I have to up the restriction. Maybe I'm getting to philosophical here, but this makes sense to me. :) As others have discussed, I would really like to get full and stay fuller longer. But with my year plus with my band, it doesn't seem like it always works this way. I have what I call 'Hungry Days' or will eat, feel full, but be hungry a little while later. This was something I did not anticipate when I was first banded, but I'd certainly rather be where I am today than where I was before.

As far as the NSV (per the title), I have a brown leather belt that I hadn't worn in forever that I tried on a couple of weeks ago. It did not fit at all immediately preceding banding, but evidently when I was wearing it back in the day, I was wearing it using one of the holes near the end (don't know if that makes sense, but essentially I was wearing it pretty loose). Now, it is too big at the tightest hole (though it is the best fit I have for a brown belt right now)! In other words, I am wearing it at its tightest, but it is too loose! Yea!!

Oh, and just so you all know I'm still reading everyone's blogs regularly even if I take some time between posts. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year + My Word

I hope everyone was able to ring in the New Year with lots of excitement (or perhaps sleep instead since that's what some some people need to start the year off right :) ). Last night, my guy and I watched several back-to-back episodes of Ghost Lab. I guess we too were feeling the scary New Year's celebrating that Jenny was mentioning with 'Paranormal Activity'. Right now I'm watching the 2010 Rose Parade. There are some very pretty floats. But if you miss it and didn't catch any fireworks last night, I would recommend you head over to Cara's page to see the fireworks display from Australia, which she kindly videoed and put up for us to enoy. It will make you feel celebratory for sure.

And while on the New Year's note, I have been thinking about my word lately and reading those from others'. 'Adventure', 'Love', 'Believe', 'Actualize'...those and others are great words and ones with which I can certainly relate. But this year I am probably most in need of some extra motivation. I've hardly planned the wedding, and I HAVE to get moving. I also HAVE to (start and) finish a big school project before a committee member retires. Next, I have some career-related reading that I would like to do. There are lots of organizational tasks I have started but not finished. As far as health, I may not get to my weight-loss goal, but with the wedding fast approaching, Iwant to be as far down that path as possible. This isn't all, but these are some of the big endeavors that are before me and that I really should (and in some cases, must) achieve. And they are all in addition to work and the move (the guy and I are in a contract for a house right now, so if all goes well, that will be happening soon). So I thought about it, and 'ACCOMPLISH' seems like an inspiring and motivational word that will keep me moving towards completion of some of these things. (And that said, I would love for you all to keep me accountable and question me about my status on any of the above tasks so that it will keep me focused).

Finally, I loved what Sarah mentioned on her blog about running a 1K in race miles for every year of her life. I would like to copy her idea and try it too. If I don't achieve that this year though, I won't beat myself up too much since it's going to be such a busy year. But it is something great to aim for in this fitness journey.

Okay, I'll let you all get on with your New Year's fun. Don't forget to see Cara's fireworks.

Happy New Year, bandsters!!!!