Change your wardrobe

Get Those Fat Pants Out of Your House

I honestly wasn’t paying attention. At some point during the 20 years of my obesity, baggy sweatshirts and stretchy pants with elastic waistbands made their escape. They were initially designed to be worn during exercise. In the dark of night, these items of clothing snuck out of the gym and into our daily wardrobe. When did these sad sacks become the uniform for busy moms? Was it during the Clinton administration?

Don’t get me wrong. When I weighed 300 pounds, I was the Phelps County Queen of Sweatpants. I think I still have my crown. But as you begin to lose weight, this “fashion choice” won’t be your friend. It will actually hide all of your hard work. It’s time to set-aside part of your budget for clothing that fits. We’re talking about something very powerful here that goes beyond vanity.

It is hard to put into words how amazing it feels to step into a dressing room and walk out wearing a smaller size. Don’t think this is just a “woman” thing. It’s not. You can lose 20 pounds and no one will notice until you put that smaller body in clothing that actually fits. It is a powerful motivation for women and men, and it can give you the strength to keep going.

If you love to stretch a dollar until it begs for mercy, you’ll think about the expense of new clothes. You might even want to wait until you’ve hit your weight goal to buy new clothes. I agree that you don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a size 16 if your goal is a size 8. However, sacrificing now to “look good” later is a mistake. It robs you of the encouragement  (and yes, the compliments) you will get from family and friends. It also takes away the satisfaction of fitting into a size you haven’t worn in years.

It’s not necessary to spend a fortune on new clothes, but make a small investment in yourself. It will pay off and it will encourage you to keep the weight off. There are several economical options available. Shop the sales, checkout the “gently used” clothing shops or look for some good garage sales.

To help offset this expense, look for places to sell the clothes in your closet that are now too large for you to wear. You can put the money you make selling your old clothes toward buying newer items that fit and flatter your body. Don’t keep those bigger sizes as a “just in case I get big again” plan and believe that it won’t matter. Think of your weight loss like a poker game. It doesn’t get interesting until you are “all in.” By getting rid of those bigger sizes, you are officially “all in.” During my weight loss,  I knew that I could either #1 keep the weight off or #2 go naked. My neighbors are very glad that I chose option #1.

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Buying smart

Buying in Bulk Without Eating in Bulk

I’m going to be presumptuous and positively pushy this week and make your New Year’s resolution for you. How is that for bossy? Your goal in 2012 is to waste less money on food and find a healthy waist along the way. It can be done. If you’ve spent thousands of dollars on diets in the past, this concept will be a relief to your wallet. Welcome to the year of “buying in bulk without eating in bulk.”
During the first few months of the Goff weight loss plan, my husband and I tossed some big food mistakes into the shopping cart. Our motives were pure. We knew that we needed to lower our portion sizes and the food industry was all too willing to help. One-hundred calorie packs and individually wrapped servings did the heavy lifting for us. The portion control was built right in.
When I was tempted to go back for seconds, I had to get up, walk into the kitchen and physically open another package. It required effort and a conscious decision to continue eating. That “think time” saved me from more than a few bad choices. I was eating less food and losing weight. And even with all the good news coming from my scale, the monthly message from my checking account wasn’t as happy. Shouldn’t less food = less money? Not necessarily.
I was paying a high price for built-in portion control. This is a shameful thing to admit (as a shopper with two decades of experience and 20/20 vision), but I had no idea what a unit price was. I thought it was information used for inventory control or maybe what the item costs in Canada? The only number I tracked was the big number on the price tag – the one my cashier would charge me to buy the food.
Don’t feel ignorant if you’ve never noticed the unit pricing at your local supermarket. Some smaller, rural stores may not post this information or perhaps it’s tough to see the fine print. After the whole Canada thing, I’m in no position to mock you. Stick with me and you will be an expert. We’re going to take a crash course in unit pricing because it is a must for smart grocery shopping.
Instead of the old-school method of putting the price for food directly on the package, the vast majority of supermarkets now use a horizontal tag placed on the shelf under the item. The extra real estate gives grocery stores the room to provide the actual price as well as the unit price. This second number off to the side is often a smaller font size or printed with a lighter ink color. Bring a magnifying glass if necessary, but read the unit price.
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Whatever store you choose, the goal is to save as much money as possible when shopping the interior aisles. Not only are you being a good steward of your finances (noble in and of itself), but you are going to need that extra money. Roll your shopping cart along the walls of the supermarket and take a look around. This outer circle is where the good stuff is found and it isn’t cheap.
Foods along the wall tend to be less “messed with” by human hands than the bags and boxes found in the center of the store. Supermarkets often place fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products in the outer circle. When we eat the right portion sizes, these items are generally healthier for us than the processed items in the aisles. Unfortunately, these body-powering foods are rarely on sale and going organic could cost you even more. I believe it is worth the investment.
If you want carrots from a local greenhouse that specializes in raising vegetables to the melodies of Debussy, no problem. You’ve shopped unit pricing in the center of the grocery store and have money in the budget for “classical carrots.” Interested in baking a free range/no hormone chicken that received weekly pedicures on the farm? Weird, but okay. You’ve found the best unit price on bread, peanut butter and bran flakes.
Next week, we’re going to look at how to treat these bargains once you get them in your kitchen. There is some danger, here. Oversized packages can quickly lead to oversized portions without the right tools for putting away the groceries. I’ll have some tips to keep you safe! Do some smart supermarket shopping this week and God Bless.

Weight Loss

Fat Chance or Fighting Chance at Weight Loss?

I can’t even imagine how much courage you have at this very moment. Who wants to read a weight loss column or think about dieting in December? It’s the holiday season for goodness sake! I wouldn’t have gone anywhere near this information when I weighed more than 300 pounds.
Celebrating Christmas with delicious food was a part of my “south of the Mason-Dixon line” heritage. Anyone bringing low-calorie, low-fat dishes to the holiday table was considered a Yankee sympathizer and forced to eat at the little kid’s table. Dieting was forbidden.
For nearly 20 years, the holidays were a wonderful excuse for me to take my normal 4000-calorie day and add another thousand or two to the grand total. This was never a solo journey. I brought those I loved along for the ride. There are few things more satisfying for cooks like me at Christmas time than watching our family and friends eat with gusto and come back for more.
A Culinary Side Note: In the Ozarks, it is common knowledge that nothing says happy birthday to the baby Jesus like a sweet potato pie. I believe I’ve seen recipes that call for a variety of spices including myrrh – a clear salute to the Three Wise Men.
When I was obese, I forgot for just one day about the scale telling me that I needed to lose more than half of my body weight. I could just eat, relax and enjoy the holiday with the rest of the country. Even now, Christmas Day continues to be a 24-hour period on the calendar when I give the calorie calculator in my head a well-deserved rest.
I would never recommend starting a weight loss plan during the holiday season. Good news, right? The first few weeks of any new diet can be stressful and you don’t need the added pain of watching everyone else frolic with fruitcakes. Your plan for the next few weeks is simple. Nurse one plate of food as long as possible at parties, park your car as far away from the stores as you can handle, and hang-on until New Year’s Day.
I’d like for you to wake-up on January 1st with a determination that 2012 is going to be “the year” when:
1. You and your plate finally learn to peacefully co-exist. No more crash diets, no more January weight loss contests and no more binging on food followed by binging on guilt.
2. You give the people who love you the gift of a longer future together. If you have more than 20 or 30 pounds to lose, I’m guessing that someone is quietly (or maybe not so quietly) worrying about your health. Make 2012 the year that you lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
3. You recognize and confront the food lies in your head – the untruths that have become a twisted definition of who you think you are.
Number three on this list is the shortest, but I believe it is one of the most important. I’m not asking you to start counting calories during the holiday season. But as you count down the days remaining in 2011, I’d like you to also count the lies in your head. I’m talking about all of those excuses that fly through your brain when you are deciding when to put food in your mouth, what foods to put in your mouth and how much.
And before we go on, please don’t tell me that you’ve come to terms with your size or that you are “okay” with being overweight. This probably won’t be the most mature sentence I’ve ever written, but I’ve got to call a “liar, liar, pants on fire.” None of us can really be okay with obesity because we shouldn’t be okay with obesity. God didn’t wire us that way. We can try to bury this question, but we can never chase it completely out of our heads: What would my life be like if I was smaller?
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If you’ve struggled to maintain a healthy weight, if you’ve been on more diets than you can count, if you are spending the precious hours of your life feeling guilty about the food you eat – there are lies in your head. They need to be exposed.
During the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and speak with groups about healthy weight loss. I admit that my primary focus was generally on those in the audience who would be categorized as obese. They reminded me of me. I knew these were “my” people; very overweight individuals who understand what it is really like to struggle with food. Whew, was I wrong!
The 150-pound person could be at a healthy weight in just a few weeks where the 300-pound person is facing months of work. The 150-pound person can shop anywhere she wants where the 300-pound person is thanking God that the one store in town with plus size clothing now has a size 28. The 150-pound person doesn’t have diabetes or high blood pressure. The 300-pound person has both. What could these individuals have in common?
The lies. They have the lies in common.
I have some big “untruths” from my own weight loss struggles that I’ve shared here before. I’ve also added a few more from those I’ve had the opportunity to meet and mentor. It doesn’t seem to matter how many diets you’ve been on. It doesn’t matter how much weight you need to lose. At our very core, we are all flawed. We are willing to believe the worst about our character when we are weak. We question why God would bother to love us at all. These lies can bring us to our knees in hopelessness if left to run wild in our minds. They must be stopped.