Watch the snacks
Community blogger Teri Boggess writes: The big slice of home-baked angel food cake with Mom's seven-minute frosting was worth a regained half-pound.
Yes, the cake was for my birthday, but it might just as well have been a celebration of reaching my goal of losing 15 pounds.
I joined The News & Observer's Turning the Scales staff weight-loss blog in January with the goal of doing something for myself. And when I last checked in with an April post headlined "12 pounds lost - and a goal in sight," the progress had surprised me because the weight loss came with minimal effort and during a stressful time.
As I transition now to the Dieting Dispatches community blog after my job at The N&O was eliminated, I'm happy to report a weight of 148.5. That, of course, came before last week's birthday lunch, ice cream, dinner, cake and more ice cream.
But such a splurge is OK now and then. It's when the splurge becomes a way of life that trouble happens.
Those last 3 pounds proved more stubborn than the rest, and my weight yo-yoed a bit. Along the way, however, I learned:
I stopped losing weight when I altered my snacking habits, and I'd rather snack with small meals throughout the day than sit down to big meals. Since January, almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios by the measured handful had been my snack preferences. When life got busy with work and caregiving for ailing family members, I never got around to making a warehouse store expedition to replenish the nut bins. I snacked on, well, too much else. Lesson learned. The nuts returned.
A sensible bedtime snack keeps me from waking up famished. Limiting the carbohydrates and adding protein helps. A good snack for me is a variation of the Girl Scout recipe "Ants on a Log." That would be celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and with several raisins lined up on the peanut butter. I prefer sunflower butter to peanut butter. If you try but don't like sunflower butter, buy a different brand - the tastes can vary by brand.
Being aware of the food I'm about to consume has been the primary reason those first 15 pounds are gone. Restaurant and fast-food meals must be chosen with care and discipline. Carbohydrates - especially breads and sugars - have to be limited. And summer makes fresh vegetables and fruits easier to include on the menu.
With those pounds gone, I can set a new goal. I talked with my doctor during my annual checkup, and she calculated that my ideal weight should be 141 pounds.
So I have 7.5 pounds to go. To make it an even number, I'm going to aim to lose 10 pounds to reach 138.5.
I was at 134 a decade ago when my weight began creeping up. I'm very happy to be turning back the calendar and taking back control.
Finally out of a rut
Community blogger Alan Foster writes: Beginning weight - 225. Current weight - 208
I think I've finally gotten past the rut. The scales this morning indicated a drop of a whopping 2 pounds. I know that's not much cause for celebration, but after three weeks of seeing no weight loss, it was a very welcome and encouraging sight. Hopefully, it's the beginning of a sustainable trend to lose the other 8 to 10 pounds. At a minimum, it's certainly a boost of encouragement and a shot of motivation.
How to feel full
Carole Tanzer Miller, features editor, writes: With the weather cooling down, I've been making an effort to walk after dinner. It's mostly therapeutic - fresh air, a time to decompress after a rush to deadline at work.
Or so my pedometer would lead me to believe. Because it's sure not a fat-buster.
A mile-and-and-a-quarter's worth of strolling in 90-degree heat burned a whopping 85 calories. I guess I could speed it up to burn fat more efficiently, but my cellphone pedometer provided a stark reminder that it takes substantial effort and commitment to burn off a bunch of surplus calories. Which makes it a lot smarter just not to eat them to begin with.
My colleague, Scott Sharpe, suggested politely that all of these portion-controlling strategies I've been sharing are a lot of bunk. "Just put less food on your plate," he counseled.
I know, and use a smaller plate so it looks as if there's more food there. Yada yada yada. By now, we weight watchers have heard it all. Two or three times.
So I have decided to take the advice of TV's Dr. Oz to heart. I bought a bottle of fiber tablets and now ingest one while I prepare dinner. Dr. O. says a fiber tablet and a drink of water will provide the sensation of fullness that helps prevent overeating in the evening. I'm only a couple of days into this new regimen so I'm not sure how well it works. But most of us need more fiber in our diet, so a fiber tab before dinner seems like a healthy way to experiment.
Weight-conscious staffers share stories and tips at blogs.newsobserver.com/turningthescales.
Follow our community bloggers at blogs.newsobserver.com/dieting.