Living Large (butt smaller)

It was the best of times… It was the worst of times…

Okay.  That’s not entirely accurate.  I didn’t experience any Dickensian drama in 2011.  However, I made a dramatic lifestyle change.

In June, I entered a medical weight loss program and established a goal of  losing 50 pounds by the end of the year.  I focused on changing my horrible eating habits and successfully attacked the biggest (slight pun intended) problem in my life.

By mid-fall, I met my 50-pound goal, so I upped my year-end goal to 75 pounds.  In early December, I met the new goal, but wasn’t sure what would happen with the holidays.  To be safe, I stuck with a 75-pound goal, but added a “stretch goal” of 80 pounds.  If I landed anywhere in the 75-80 pound range, I’d be happy.

December 29th was my last weigh in of the year.  I’m happy to report that I met my stretch goal.  I lost 80 pounds.  Here’s what my goal vs. actual weight trend lines look like for June through December.

Weight Loss Chart 6/15-12/29/11 (via SparkPeople)

I’d dance excitedly around the room to prove how thrilled I am, but that could be construed as exercise, which is a Phase 2 – 2012 goal.  More on that later…

So, here are some observations regarding my progress to date…


Recently, I fit into a restaurant booth for the first time in years (literally).  Sounds stupid, but going to a new restaurant is an anxiety-inducing activity for me.  I immediately wonder – What kind of seating does the place offer?  Most people look at the food pictures on a restaurant’s website.  I look at pictures of the seating arrangements in the dining room.  If there are only booths, I suggest another restaurant.  Same is true for places that only have chairs with narrow arms.

It’s embarrassing, but what’s a little humiliating confession among friends (and strangers on the web who stumble upon my blog)?


Don’t get me wrong.  I still spend way too much time sitting on my big ole arse watching TV.  However, I don’t avoid  activities simply because they involve more walking than what it takes to get out of the house to the car.  And I can walk much further without having to rest.  Again, I’m not saying I’m ready to hike up Mt Washington (or walking much further than around the block), but there’s marked improvement.

Shameful confession #2 – I used to arrive at my doctors’ appointments super early so I could relax for a while before going in to meet the doc.  Otherwise, the exertion of walking from my car through Lahey Clinic‘s large lobby to the elevator and down the hall to my doctor’s office would inflate my blood pressure.  I know…I know…pathetic.   Fortunately, I don’t need to do this anymore.


All Hail, Fruits and Veggies!

Like vampires awaiting permission to cross the threshold, fruit and vegetables were rarely invited in my home before I turned on my healthy eating switch.  Oh, how times have changed.

I ate more fruits and vegetables in the last six months than in all the years of my life before then.  In the past, I’d have an occasional piece of fruit, but it wasn’t really an option at the top of my list.  I’d eat salads, but drowned them in salad dressing and used bread to sop up excess dressing (kinda like an extra utensil…helping me shove every morsel into my gullet).

I still struggle to get in 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies every day (it seems like so much!), but I eat many more than I did in the past.  In fact, I rarely eat a starch side with my meal.  In restaurants, I ask for a double serving of vegetables – usually steamed, no butter, with a lemon wedge.


Greg and I eat out frequently.  Too frequently – a 2012 goal includes reducing our investment in the restaurant industry, but I digress…

This year, I learned how to control my “I’ll order this side of the menu – You order the other side” approach to eating out.  In the past, I sought out volume-related foods that enabled me to have an appetizer, entrée, and dessert I loved without considering the nutritional value of what ended up on my plate. Order anything with a Diet Coke and the calories evaporate, right?

These days, I look for healthy foods that please my palate and my food plan.  I eat a lot of shrimp cocktails, fish or  lean proteins for entrees, and double veggies as sides.  I ignore most desserts.  Notice I said MOST desserts.

Honestly, there aren’t a lot of desserts that entice me enough to sacrifice a high percentage of my daily calorie, carb, and fat allotments.  Often, I just order herbal tea instead of dessert.  I enjoy having something to do while my table-mates eat their sweets.

Steep the tea, add the lemon, hold the hot fragrant tea in my hands, and sip leisurely.  It’s a comforting ritual that ensures I don’t stare with glazed eyes and drooling mouth at the delicacies on other people’s plates (which can make them uncomfortable).


All that being said, I DO occasionally eat desserts when we go out.  I try to choose wisely, but there are some times when I just really want something I see on the dessert menu.

Often, I split the dessert with Greg.  That way, I get to taste what I want without eating more than I should.  I mean, eating a dessert isn’t prompted by hunger – I’ve already eaten a meal.  It’s driven by a desire to satisfy my occasional sweet tooth.

Alternatively, I seek out fruit desserts.  I LOVE a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream and many restaurants offer it.  I’ve even ordered strawberry shortcake, hold the cake and ice cream.  It’s nice to have someone else clean and “dress” my fruit.  It’s refreshing, sweet, ups my fruit intake, and the whipped cream makes it reasonably decadent.

Aside from significantly reducing the number of times I eat desserts, I’m smarter about how I handle them.  If I indulge in a dessert or a higher calorie/carb/fat content appetizer or entrée, I compensate by reducing my intake for the rest of the day and eating more lean proteins, fruits, and veggies for the next day or two.

I remind myself…no ONE day is going to blow my weight goals out of the water.  I can’t have fried foods every day, but an occasional indulgence is fine.


It’s sounds overly simplistic, but my success to date is primarily based on mindful eating.  I still obsess about food, but in a much more constructive way.

Having calorie, carb, fat, and protein goal ranges provides the structure I need to make “eat” or “don’t eat” decisions BEFORE things jump into my mouth.  I consider how to have the volume of food I want without blowing my daily allotments.  One larger meal is offset by smaller, lighter additional meals throughout the rest of the day.

To learn more about how my body responds to my food intake, I weigh or measure virtually everything.  In restaurants, I’m the geek checking out the nutritional values on their website and taking pictures of my meals so I remember EVERYTHING I eat.  I log my food faithfully.  Every single day.  Every single thing I eat – no exceptions.

I ask servers “what’s in the marinade?” and “how big is the fillet?”.  I’m totally comfortable making special requests (no breadcrumbs, olive oil vs. butter, dressing on the side, leave the croutons in the kitchen, please, etc.).

I also have to credit other members of my brain trust – My phenomenal weight loss doctor (aka bariatrician), Theresa Piotrowski, and my ever-helpful registered dietitian, Ismini Soteropoulos.  I weigh in bi-weekly (that’s every 2 weeks, right?) with one of them, alternating so I see both of them at least once a month.  They weigh me in, analyze my new body composition stats, review my food logs, answer my questions (MANY MANY questions), share resources and great food product recommendations, and they cheer me on (or up) depending on my weigh in results.

Yes, I want to meet my weight loss goals because I want to be a much healthier person, but I also appreciate the external accountability to folks who seem sincerely invested in my success.  They’re very nice, but they also hold my feet to the fire.

For example, the progress I’ve made to date is all about eating behavior modification.  I originally said I’d increase my activity level in September, but was still shedding pounds fairly easily, so I re-set the timeline to October.  Then, November…December…and now, January!

A New Year’s resolution!  Yeah, that’s the ticket!!

Dr. P called me on my ever-on-the-horizon-start-date at our 12/29 meeting.  Embarrassed, I committed to starting to add more activity to my daily schedule before our next appointment (1/24).  It’s on my agenda to start this Tuesday (it came so quickly!).

Of course, Greg is also incredibly supportive.  It’s helpful that we’re both in Lahey’s Medical Weight Loss Program and meeting with the same folks.  We get to share feedback and ideas.  He provides more constant accountability – an important eyewitness to my daily eating practices.

Of course, all my friends are very supportive, too.  Keep me honest, folks!  Hold me to it!


Well, that’s a high level overview of my Year One in my Weight Loss Adventure.  I have a lot of work left to do on my weight, but I’m much more confident that my long-term goal (lose 50 lbs per year by the time I turn 50) is increasingly realistic.

I was tired of being tired, slightly depressed, and increasingly negative about everything.  I’m a control freak, but took no responsibility for my out of control eating.  Now, I feel like there’s a switch in my head that is slowly, but surely, changing my relationship with food.

I’m sure I’ll face more challenges as I move forward, but I don’t think there’s anything insurmountable on the horizon.  And if there’s something that seems insurmountable, I’ll tackle it with my weight loss team at my side.


More to follow…

Photo Credits:
~ Produce by pthread1981
~ Key Lime Pie by

About Barbara

Married to Greg, the nicest Greek man in the world. No kids - just two hyperactive Maine Coon cats - Griffin and Harper. Independent consultant. News and political junkie. Diehard social progressive. Movie lover. Book reader. Blog writer. Overweight. Underpaid. Open-minded about everything except closed-minded folks. Occasionally witty. Sometimes wise. Always wise-ass.
This entry was posted in Goals, Health, Progress Report and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Living Large (butt smaller)

  1. Nicole says:

    You’re doing so well! I can’t wait to see you–bet you look fabulous. Your posts have been very inspiring!

    • Barbara says:

      Thanks! I wish I could say I’ve undergone a major physical transformation, but appearance-wise, it’s not as much as you might think. I started drafting a post about that, so won’t bore you with details now. Suffice to say, I’m going to need to invest in some new pants soon, but I’m not ready to throw out my wardrobe and start wearing sleeveless shirts and mini-skirts…LOL

      I remain a work in progress, but I’m very happy with the progress to date. 🙂

  2. Andrea says:

    Barb, I’m so happy for you, and so proud! When you finally decide you are ready, a gym membership is going to make you feel even better…choose one that is CONVENIENT…as Mike says, the BEST gym is the most CONVENIENT one. Once you make it part of your daily routine, you’ll wonder how you got along with out it.

    Keep up the amazing, fantastic, incredibly impressive work!

  3. Helen M. Goldstein says:


    We really enjoy your updates–you are such a wondeful writer! Neither Stan nor I can get
    over how brave you’re being, and how strong, in your efforts to lose weight. It’s good to
    know that you—and Greg–are taking care of yourselves. I can only imagine how hard it
    must be (food freak that I am), and am glad to hear that you’re able to eat some goodies
    once in a while. Keep up the good work!!

    As you may have heard, I just got out of the hospital after having pneumonia. It was
    horrid, and I’m glad to be home and in my own bed–but it’ll be a while before I’m back
    on the ball.

    Onward and upward!!!!!


    Helen & Stan

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