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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I did it!!!!! 10%!!!!

I thought long and hard how I wanted to celebrate reaching this goal. I didn't feel like celebrating with food - I've managed to work in treats that I really want in my new lifestyle so there's nothing I'm particularly craving. A special outing or self-gift didn't seem right either.  It feels false to celebrate something I hope is a culmination of sustainable lifestyle changes with an event or thing that is material and trivial. 

What I realized most is that I wanted to share this moment with my friends - with you, My Dear Reader. I've mentioned briefly here on the blog about losing weight, and being excited about my progress, but I've always tried to keep it in the context of endurance, or riding, or me learning some big life lesson and NOT make this blog about something as trivial as my weight or body image issues or human fitness.  But just for once, I wanted to talk about me losing weight and accomplishing my weight loss goal in a shallow, braggy, no-lessons-to-be-learned way.  I wanted to name specific numbers and not pretend they don't matter to me.  I want to talk animatedly and wave my hands about and laugh and absolutely glow, so that YOU, my friends, can be happy for me and share in my excitement.  We will return to our regularly scheduled programming where this part of me is NOT the center topic of the blog, but today, I am going to spend an entire blog post bragging and showing off my accopmlishment :) Thanks for being here, thanks for sharing in this moment.

 18 months ago I started trying to lose weight.

My weight has always gone up and down cyclically in a 5-7 pound range over the course of a year, but the last couple of years, the "downs" haven't quite made up for the "ups".

Instead of having 5 pounds that would be nice if they magically went was 10 pounds.

10 pounds on a 5'1" frame is a pant size. We aren't talking a success story that is going to be plastered across the websites as "selfie" pictures show pounds magically melting away. It's doesn't even justify a new wardrobe. It's doubtful that anyone but me can even see the weight. But, it was a enough weight that I didn't feel strong and fit.

138 pounds is the most I've ever weighed - several times throughout my life. It seems to be the "top" of what is normal for me. If I eat all I want, don't exercise, and succomb to the "object at rest stays at rest", 138 is where I find myself.

132 is the bottom of my "normal" range, and if I'm working towards a running goal, or trying to stay fit for my horse and putting forth that extra effort, 128 isn't unusual.

At 128 I feel strong and fit and beautiful and capable.

With the above in mind, when I set out to lose weight, I usually choose 125 as my goal.  It gives me a nice buffer zone to stay under 130, it's doable, even though it's usually brief before I go back up to 128 and stay there, and (most importantly) it's this nice beautiful number who has a personality that doesn't have any loose ends.  Maybe it's the fact it's divisible by 5? And contains the square of 5? And 125/5 = 25?  It's enough to make me squeal in delight.

So, in June 2012 I set out to lose 13 pounds.  A couple months into it, I realized that the magic number of 10% was only a few pounds under my initial goal ==> 14 pounds.

10% seems to be a really big deal. Followers of weight watchers talk about a mental shift that occurs when they reach that number and there's some anecdotal stories that people that achieve this 10% are more likely to take steps to keep the weight off. 124 isn't a number I've seen on the scale very often and never consistently.  If I was able to reach this number and keep it, I would know that I had actually made a change - not just a variation in my statisically predictable cyclic weight pattern.

So, in June 2012 I started counting and recording calories.  That was the first small change. I didn't realize that I would be making a lot of small changes over more than a year in order to achieve my goal. I decided that the important thing was not staying within a particular calorie goal - long term deprivation and feeling hungry or that I can't eat something I really want because of stupid numbers doesn't work for me. The important thing was LOGGING and RECORDING.  For good or bad.  With the recording would come awareness and with awareness would come the ability to make informed choices.  And those choices would become habits and THAT was the way to sustainably lose weight and keep it off - not obsessively staying within a narrow calorie range.

In the fall of 2012 I got within a couple pounds of my 10% goal. In fact I met my initial goal of 125 pounds briefly....but I started immediately gaining almost every pound back.  Spring of 2013 I was faced with the numbers 1-3-8 on the scale, once again.

And I continued to make more little changes that turned into habits, convinced that the only way to see success was to make sustainable changes that would add up to results over the long haul. 

It's a lifestyle change. 

In the end, it was less about the numbers on the scale, and more about using the numbers on the scale to honestly evaluate whether *my* lifestyle was meeting my expectations.

When I started all of this, I didn't know that making one small change at a time (and not making another until the first is a habit) was a bonafide philosophy of how to change your life.

In the past, most of my "I need a change!" moments came with a self-designed program that implemented lots of big changes at once. I always felt like the "bootcamp" approach was the best, most effective way! No pain no gain!

I think over time as life came with more and more commitments, I ran out of energy and time. When June of 2012 rolled around, I still wanted change but with work and school and a dog and a boyfriend....just couldn't devote anything anything beyond one little change.  And voila, that was the moment real change occurred in my life.

I'm going to share the little things that made this post today possible. Maybe some of these will work for you, maybe they won't.  The list may seem daunting, but realize that these were implemented over almost TWO years. One at a time.

(thank goodness I started writing down these small choices/changes at some point, because some of these are so ingrained as habits, it was hard to remember I hadn't always had a particular habit!)

1. I started counting and recording calories. More important than the actual number was the fact that they were being recorded. (I used myfittnesspal)

2. I addressed causes of stress in my life: I threw out my to do lists, stopped Christmas shopping (people now get random "birthday presents" throughout the year, and sometimes I forget to do things, but guess what? The world doesn't end).

3. I made a resolution to sit less.  Note this isn't a resolution to DO anything, it's a resolution to do LESS of something.  For some reason this was mentally important to me.

4. I started interval training.  About the same time, I stopped running through pain, soreness, or if I was particularly tired or stressed and didn't feel like it. I haven't gotten an over training injury since (and yes, I've gotten faster at the same time :)

5. I made a goal to walk 10K steps a day.  After getting into the habit of parking where it's free (total extra walking per day: 30 min) and walking during lunch (extra 40-45 min of walking a day) I ditched the pedometer.  It was a tool that served it's purpose and once I had the habit, I didn't need a pedometer on my hip to tell me it was time to walk.

6. I cut out wheat for good. And when oats started causing me even more GI discomfort, I ditched them too. I'm "Primal", but I'm "Melinda's Primal", meaning I make that diet/food lifestyle work for ME.  I stopped putting cheese on everything, make an effort to include a veggie at every meal.  I try to eat real food. I don't get hung up in the philosophy of whether I should give up my popcorn and corn tortillas just because they are grains - in my mind they are real food and don't bother my I eat them at least for now. Call it part of my 80/20 philosophy.

7. I started seriously intermittent fasting in a sustainable manner - 2 days a week I eat 500 calories.  The rest of the week I eat according to hunger. And surprise! - my calorie counts on a weekly basis stabilized and I stopped having hypoglycemic issues.

8. I started incorporating sets of squats or pushups though out daily activities - like during my walks or my post-run shower.

And today I lost that 10%.

The changes are here to stay - they are habits, a part of me.

I've decided that part of my reward for reaching that 10% is to to stop recording calories on my non fasting days.  That was a tool, just like the pedometer, that had a purpose, and once it's purpose of establishing a habit is fulfilled, can be put aside.  I do have a "threshold" weight that if I see on the scale I will add this tool back in until I'm back on track. I also might reduce my fasting days to 1x week instead of 2x - but this has been so valuable for stabilizing my blood sugar I'll have to see how it goes.

I'm excited :). I have a bunch of new habits that I love. I don't necessarily have a list of things I'm waiting to implement - usually something comes along at the right time when I'm looking for another little change.  I wrote this post on 11/21/13, when I was within a pound of my goal - so close I could FEEL the success. And this post has been waiting in my drafts for the day I reached my goal, so that I could hit publish. Thank you everyone. 


  1. You rock! That is a great accomplishment and I appreciate you sharing your tips and tricks, I think you are absolutely right about needing to learn habits instead of trying to make sudden drastic changes.

    I'm curious about the fasting days..what do you eat to get the 500 calories and how/why did you start/discover it "regulated your blood sugar" so well? Explain?

  2. So.....I've had mystery issues over the last couple of years (7+) where all of a sudden, usually late morning to late evening, I would start to get shaking and nauseous and would have to eat RIGHT NOW or I would be puking and literally passing out. There were situations where Matt was in a drive through trying to order food for me and I was in the alley way puking and dizzy and stumbling around just trying to stay concious until I could eat something. It's BAD.

    With the help of my doctor and keeping a food diary it turns out that these episodes are a hypoglycemic issue that is linked to me eating carbs/sugar that aren't accompanied by fat or protein. Basically, once I start eating carbs/sugar I've got to keep eating every 2 hours or risk a blood glucose drop - unless I pair those carbs with a good amount of fat or protein. The problem was that it was getting to the point that anytime I got hungry I would immeditely have to EAT SOMETHING because it was like my body was conditioned that even a little hunger was not acceptable.

    I noticed an interesting pattern that if I had a hardboiled egg or limited carbs during breakfast than I wouldn't get shaky or naseous if I had a late lunch. And if I continued to limit carbs at lunch, I wouldn't turn into a monster between lunch and dinner. THEN I noticed that worked EVEN BETTER was not eating at all. It's like once I start eating a clock starts ticking that has to be maintained during the day with food at specified intervals.

    I've played around with intermittent fasting over the last couple years and was always impressed how it seemed to hit a "reset" button for my mind and body when it comes to food cravings, clarifying hunger etc. but hadn't found a "system" that was sustainable over the long term. I don't like feeling hungry, I like having flexibilty but also need guidelines/"rules"........My mother sent me this article over the summer ( and so I tried it.

    And it worked for me. I no longer have food cravings or get the "munchies" - which are usually carb driven and start the hypoglycemic cycle thingy. I haven't had a "hypoglycemic" episode since starting this.

    I don't know how to explain the feeling except I no longer find myself reflexisively eating carb stuff because I "have" to, starting the cycle of more "have to's".

    My body has learned the difference between a little hungry being OK until I can find something "appropriate to eat" that won't start a hypoglycemic cycle, without immediately diving into a "EAT NOW OR PUKE" thing.

    Hope this makes sense. I've generally settled on Mondays/Thursdays as my "fasting" days. I generally shoot for 500-700 calories, but if something happens, as long as I'm under 1000 it's OK. Up until dinner time, if I get hungry I eat a hard boiled egg - and then I eat a normal sized dinner. Sometimes I eat 0 eggs, sometimes 2.

  3. Ah, so this is why you were so quick to tell me that it was alright to stop counting calories when I posted my notice. You had it all planned out.

    The funny part is that it is really odd NOT to count after doing it for so long. You automatically quantify and log the food in your brain....not a bad habit I guess.


    1. I know!!!!! I found myself trying to count in my head this morning to see what kind of impact my breakfast choice would have on my days count. LOL. It's been a week or so for's it coming? is it still weird? I'll be back on Thursday since that's a fasting day and I'm still going to count on those days. But's it's so WEIRD not to be keeping track of everything.

  4. You deserve to celebrate your accomplishments!

    Thanks for detailing how you made these positive changes. You can be sure that sharing your successful strategy will benefit some of your readers... definitely me.


  5. I too - have changed my lifestyle in regard to eating & food. I lost over 40 lbs. since mid-11. At 5'1" & over the big 60 - if I eat - I gain... Have also noticed that 3/4 through a long ride I have had a couple "crashes". After reading Mel's comment & your post - I'm thinking that I need to read up on the hypoglycemic cycle. I now Love apples & cheese. That's my usual lunch. Dinner I have learned to eat lean & healthy portions. Still don't like being hungry - but do like being lean & fit!

    1. I've found I have to be careful even with fruit. I tend to save my fruit and carbs towards the end of the day and that seems to help:). Funder is the other person I know that has linked carbs in rides to crashing later in and we both ride with a nut butter home mix in tubes. I've been running with it too, seems to have enough fat and protein to offset some carbs and keep me going throughout a ride,

  6. Well done, and you absolutely deserve to bask in the glow of your achievement for a while!
    I like the 10% thing and have set that as my new target - which means I have about 15 pounds to go. Interestingly, where I end up when I stop doing ANYTHING (at about 187 pounds - eek), minus 10% puts me at 168 pounds, which is my comfortable "set point" when I am eating well and exercising, but not starving myself. Any lower than that and my body starts to fight back. It's all very fascinating...

  7. Well Mel - you need to share that recipe with me - when I ride - I don't have the apple. Use V-8 & a trail mix - but that doesn't seem to do the trick. Have tried pumpkin seeds lately... ?

  8. Almond butter and Nutella to taste, which is 3:1 for me and what I usually tell people. Comes out of the squeeze tubes I use nicely....I actually prefer an almond butter, cashew butter, honey but it's a lot thicker and I haven't found a good way to carry and eat it in the saddle. Btw, I usually use the "self" grind almond butter and the 3:1 works out well, but the last time I used almond butter out of a jar and next time I would reduce the Nutella to at least 4:1.

  9. Mel, do you find that you have a harder time paying attention in class or studying on your fast days? I am a vet student at WSU and I don't do so well without eating much until dinner, but I find the idea interesting.

    1. Actually the opposite. On a regular day I'm always hungry or thinking about when I can eat (I love food and spend a lot of time being ADHD in class which doesn't help). I find that my runs are stronger on a fasting day and I focus better in class. I think one thing that's important is that on my fasting days I'm still eating - if I'm hungry, I'll eat a hard boiled egg, which counts towards that 500-700 calories for the day. But it's enough that it satisfies and I feel full. But has very little impact on my blood sugar, or making me hungry later. I'm not even tempted to eat anything other than that hard boiled egg early in the day because I KNOW a high carb food will cause me to be even hungrier a couple hours later.

    2. Also, if it's suppose to be a fasting day but I find myself really hungry and wanting food, especially early in the day and the hard boiled egg just doesn't cut it, than I don't fast that day. It's like if I had an intense workout scheduled but I end up feeling a bit under the weather or nqr that day - than I take a r&r day and reschedule. Sometimes if I have a really long stressful day and lots of studying than it works well to fast that day, and other times it doesn't, I just try to listen to my body and figure out what is right for that day.

  10. Mel, do you find that you have a harder time paying attention in class or studying on your fast days? I am a vet student at WSU and I don't do so well without eating much until dinner, but I find the idea interesting.

  11. Mel, your mysterious hypoglecemic issues sound exactly like! I've even been hospitalized for having a bad incident right before an eye surgery and them thinking I was having a seizure when it was really a combination of nausea, hunger, and 'holy shit don't poke me in the eye with that needle.'
    Reading about all of your and Funder's food issues they keep sounding familiar. I too am on a journey to 10% down though my overall goal is 20%. While that may sound like a lot I was within site of it a year and a half ago and a few injuries back. I am hoping to reach my first 5% soon but it's slow work.

    Apparently I haven't said this yet, congratulations on your 10%!! It's a fantastic goal to make and comes with many awesome health benefits. I'm ecstatic for you.

    1. Thanks! :). You gotta figure out what food system works for you! The hypoglycemic thing can be tricky - eating the right thing or not eating at all is the hard lesson I've learned. It's especially hard during endurance rides to find something that doesnt trigger that cycle....but I can still get down because I'm usually not in an eating mood.....I'm working hard so can get away with more carbs than my every day life so that nut butter plus sweetener combos seem to work ok for me in the saddle so far. I've been suffering from this hypoglycemic thing since I was a teenager and I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out (but to be fair, I didn't talk to my doctor about it until this year either!)

    2. If you can't tell I'm not really someone that confides or uses doctors much.....but I finally had to ask whether what I had been saying was a "blood sugar problem" was actually a real thing. Lol. What's interesting is especially now that I know more how the insulin/glucagon/glucose cycle works and how it's linked to the sympathetic nervous system etc, I feel like I cans FEEL glucose being released as a result of gluconeogenesis under the influence of glucagon when I'm fasting. It's so weird!

  12. I'm so impressed by your ten percent, Mel! I've never come close to that kind of achievement. Great work figuring out what works for you and sticking with it.

    Literally the only time I really, truly CRAVE bread products is when I screw up and eat something that's carbs only and get the blood sugar crash. It's also the only time I get the obsessive, light-headed starving feeling. I must eat protein and/or fat with carbs. Eating pure carbs puts me on a treadmill of awfulness.

  13. Its interesting that the 2 day fasting is such a clutch thing that helps (or at least for you). I'm really fortunate that my body does this normally. I've always had a really hard time eating things I'm not craving. Some days I eat a TON. But if I can't find what I'm craving I won't eat much. And some days I'm simply not hungry. It cycles itself. I don't judge it much other than noting the days I don't eat much aren't really so bad because I had a heavy day or two prior. I'm just a freak I guess.

    I love love love that you've developed all the small habits over time though. Its very cool and such a sign of determination. Such a great accomplishment and super congrats to you for getting to your goal in such a fantastic way. Lifestyle changes are truly the best.

  14. wow, seriously that is impressive, 10%! But through all your words and descriptions, the thing that stood out to me was "At 128 I feel strong and fit and beautiful and capable." Insert whatever number works for people, THIS is what they should strive for.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing, Mel. I'm so glad that you've found something sustainable. I'm in the process of trying to make some of the changes you mentioned and it's great to hear how someone else has made them work:) A big congratulations to you!


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