March 06, 2018

FAQ


I get asked lots of questions about my weight loss, weight maintenance, running, etc. Here I will answer my most frequently asked questions. If there is something not on the list that you're curious about, you can always type in a keyword search at the top-left of my blog. And if you still don't find the answer, feel free to email me :)



About Me

How tall are you?
Are your pets named after the Friends characters on purpose?
How long have you and Jerry been married?
Where in Michigan do you live?
Do you have a list of blogs that you read?
Why don't you have a "real" job?

General Weight Loss Questions

How much weight did you lose?
How long did it take?
How did you lose the weight?
Did you have any plateaus?
How did you stay motivated?
Do you have loose, saggy skin?
Do you have any tips for getting started? 
What is your history with weight/weight loss?

Diet

How many calories did you eat while losing weight?
How did you determine how many calories to eat to lose weight?
Can I see your food log? Will you add me on MyFitnessPal?
Do you still count calories?
How many calories did you eat while counting Weight Watchers PointsPlus?
On Weight Watchers, do you eat your weekly/activity PointsPlus?
How did you track your calories?
What foods did you eat while losing weight?
How do you handle social situations (parties, vacations, etc) while staying on plan?
Do you have "cheat days" or "cheat meals"?
How much water do you drink? Did you force yourself to drink more water? 

Binge Eating

Is binge eating the same as overeating?
How did you stop binge eating?

Exercise

How did you get started running?
How did you get faster at running?
What exercise did you do in the beginning of your weight loss?
How often do you run? How far?
What is that watch you wear when you run?
What clothes do you wear when you run?
Do  you run in the winter? What do you wear?
Do you do strength training or other exercise?
How did you fit in exercise when you had small children at home?
What does "PR" stand for? (and other running lingo)
What kind of running fuel do you use?
What do you use to carry water on your runs?
Why does my GPS watch show that I ran longer than the race distance? (this is a fantastic explanation by DC Rainmaker)



About Me

Q. How tall are you?

A. I'm technically 5'3.75", but I just say 5'4"  ;)

Q. Are your pets named after the Friends characters on purpose?

A. Yes, it would be quite the coincidence if they weren't! We currently have two cats: Phoebe and Estelle; and a dog (labrador/chow mix) named Joey.

Q. How long have you and Jerry been married?

A. Since August 2003. We started dating in 1999, when I was 17, and he was 18.
 
Q. Where in Michigan do you live?

A. Southeast Michigan, about halfway between Detroit and Toledo.

Q. Why don't you get a "real" job?

A. There are a few reasons I don't get a job outside of the home: 1) Jerry and I decided together that it would be best for our kids if I stay at home with them. I love being a stay-at-home mom! Even now that the boys are in school--I am home when they wake up; I drive them to school; I am available during the day if they should need me; I pick them up from school; I help them with homework; and I cook dinner in the early evening.

And 2) Jerry works an insane schedule. It varies from week to week--days, midnights, weekends on, weekends off, etc. If I was trying to work around his schedule, we would never see each other. Jerry and I actually really enjoy each others company! We can afford for me to stay at home (I earn a modest income from the blog), so I am happy with the decision. I don't judge others for the choices they make about careers, so please don't judge mine.

General Weight Loss Questions

Q. How much weight did you lose?

A. It depends on the day you ask! Hahaha. I initially lost 125 pounds from August 2009 to December 2010. (Here is a post that explains how.) Since then, my weight has gone up and down, everywhere from 121 pounds to 160 pounds. My highest weight in 2009 was 253 pounds; my lowest weight, in March 2016, was 121 pounds (a total loss of 132 pounds). My goal weight is 133, so when I am there, it's a 120-pound loss.

Q. How long did it take?

A. About 16 months to lose 125 pounds. I started losing weight August 19, 2009; and I hit 125-pounds lost in December 2010. You can see a list of all of my weigh-ins here.

Q. How did you lose the weight?

A. For the initial 125-pound weight loss in 2009-2010, I cut back my portion sizes and eventually started running.

Q. Did you have any plateaus?

A. No, not any "real" plateaus. When my weight stayed the same or I had a gain, it was ALWAYS because of something that I did (binge eating, particularly). Whenever I was staying within my Points/calorie limit, however, I was losing weight.

Q. How did you stay motivated?

A. I didn't. I was very determined to reach my goal, though. You can read the difference between motivation and determination on this post. I've learned motivation doesn't mean much when it comes to reaching goal!

Q. Do you have loose, saggy skin?

A. I hate this question with a passion. Unfortunately, people ask me this ALL the time. I spent the majority of my life (about 20 years) feeling incredibly self-conscious about my body. I was teased in school for being fat. I hated having people look at me, and I always assumed people were thinking about how fat I was. I hated myself; I hated my looks.  Fast forward to age 28, when I had lost 125 pounds. I felt amazing and I loved the way I looked--until I started getting e-mail after e-mail asking me if I have loose skin. YES, I have loose skin. YES, it's ugly. Do I need reminding of how ugly it is day after day? No.

I know that when people ask me this question, they aren't calling me ugly, or saying I look gross--they are just asking out of curiosity. I get it. But please keep in mind that it's a very sensitive question for someone like me who spent the majority of my life being self-conscious. That's why it irritates me so much when a complete stranger asks me about saggy skin when we've never even had a conversation before. If I build a friendship with someone, I have no problem talking about my loose skin--because that person cares more about me than about my weight loss and all the flaws on my body.

When the first thing someone asks me is if I have loose skin, it's like saying that all the hard work I did doesn't matter; that losing 130 pounds means nothing if I have loose skin; that I might as well not have lost the weight since my skin is saggy now. I so badly want to put to rest all of the bad thoughts I have about my body and learn to truly love my body--but it's hard to do so when people remind me that I have gross saggy skin.

All of that said, if you MUST know, I have saggy upper arms, saggy inner thighs, boobs, butt, and a stomach that looked like a deflated balloon. My stomach was bad enough that I had a lower body lift in November 2011.

Q. Do you have any tips to get started?

A. There is nothing that I can say that will give someone the determination that he or she needs to get started and keep going. I spent many years asking successful weight losers this same question, hoping it would be the key I needed. But it wasn't until I found a reason for myself that I became completely determined to lose the weight.  Besides, I've learned that while everyone wants to hear my tips, nobody wants to trust my advice ;)

It's not going to be easy, it's not going to happen quickly, and it's going to have to be a change that you're willing to make FOREVER. I only made changes I was willing to live with for the rest of my life--I wasn't willing to give up my favorite foods, exercise six days a week, or live off of salad and yogurt (I hate yogurt!). So I didn't do those things. Instead, I changed the things that worked for ME, and that way, I knew it wasn't just temporary. This post explains how to choose the changes that you're willing to make.

Diet

Q. How many calories did you eat while losing weight?

A. I was counting Weight Watchers Points for most of the initial weight loss, so I'm not sure exactly how many calories I was eating. In 2015, I used calorie counting to get from 160 to 133, and I was eating an average of 1450-1650 calories per day. I dropped about two pounds per week at that level. Here is a FAQ post about how I calorie counted my way back to goal weight.

I think everyone is different, and the best way to find out how many calories you need is to experiment. If you go from 5,000 calories a day (like I was eating when I was fat) down to 1,200 per day, you'll feel like you're starving and you'll quit. Trust me. Try something like 2,000, and see how your body reacts. I wrote a little more about this here. My goal was to eat as much as I could and still lose weight, so I had to experiment to find that number.

Q. Can I see your food log? Will you add me on MyFitnessPal?

A. I used to have a public food log, but unfortunately, I decided to make it private due to comments about what I eat/don't eat. I don't eat "clean", and people love to comment that I eat too many carbs, too much sugar, not enough protein, not enough vegetables, too many grapes, etc. I just eat whatever I want, and I measure it and count it. I lost weight eating what I love, and I am happy with the way I eat. Please don't take it personally, but I don't have a public food log anymore; and for that reason, I don't add any friends on MyFitnessPal. (ETA: In February 2016, I wrote a post detailing some favorite breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and treats. You can find that post here.)

Q. Do you still count calories?

A. It depends on when you ask, hahaha. I spent over a year counting Points or calories and learning a lot about my body, training it to live on less food. I stopped counting after I'd reached 125 pounds lost, and regained a little weight. I spent two years trying to eat "intuitively", but I couldn't keep my weight (or my binge eating) under control. I am always looking for a good balance.

Q. How many calories did you eat while tracking Weight Watchers PointsPlus?

A. I don't track calories AND PointsPlus, but I did do it for a week so that I could answer this question. You can also read about it on this post about how many calories I ate while losing weight. Here is a post that explains a bit about my thoughts on Weight Watchers.

Q. On Weight Watchers, did you use your Weekly PointsPlus and/or your Activity PointsPlus?

A. Yes. I ate all of the Points available to me. My opinion is that those extra PointsPlus each week helped me to stay on program. I could fit foods I love into my plan and not feel deprived.

Q. How did you track your calories?

A. At first, I used a free website called Sparkpeople.com to track with their nutrition log; when I got back to goal in 2015, however, I switched over to My Fitness Pal, which I liked better. I wrote a blog post comparing the SparkPeople and MyFitnessPal apps.

Q. What foods did you eat while losing weight?

A. I eat whatever I want--literally. I am not a "clean eater", and I don't have any restrictions on what I am "allowed" to eat. I eat the foods I want most--I measure them out, and count the calories in them. I eat things from doughnuts to oatmeal, from healthy homemade soup to McDonald's Big Macs, from roasted cauliflower to ice cream. To see some specific recipes, you can check out my recipes page. Here is a post with specific meals I ate while losing weight. I no longer post my food logs, because when I do that, I get a lot of critical comments about how terrible my diet is--too many carbs, too much sugar, too much fat, not enough vegetables, etc. (Update 2/19/16: After a ton of requests, I finally posted an updated version of "What I Eat")

Q. How did you handle social situations (parties, vacations, etc) while staying on plan?

A. I constantly remind myself that this party is only going to be a few hours... and in a few hours, I can go home feeling really happy that I'm still on plan, or I can go home and feel like crap because I let FOOD take control over me. (As for vacation, I wrote a post about losing weight while traveling.)

I also plan everything before I go... if the hostess is a friend of mine, I'll even call and ask about the food situation so that I can plan my calories. If it's a restaurant situation, I look up the menu online and plan EVERYTHING I'm going to eat and then I stick to that plan. If I am going somewhere where I don't know what the food situation will be, then I eat before I leave or after I get home... or I even pack a lunch or snack to have to hold me over until I get home.

I also make sure that I don't let ANYONE tell me how I should eat... and it never fails that people will tell me, "It's a party, you can splurge!" or "No dessert?! But it's Christmas! You can treat yourself!", etc. I make the decision about my food, nobody else.

Q. Do you have "cheat days" or "cheat meals"?

A. No way! I truly enjoy all the foods that I eat. Living off of salads all week and then having a "cheat day" just doesn't sound like fun to me. I'd rather enjoy everything that I eat in moderation. I eat junk food, but I also eat a lot of healthy food. I don't have specific days or times set aside to gorge myself. I just make sure I include treats daily to keep me happy.

Once a week, I let myself eat more calories than usual. I keep my portions the same, so I'm not gorging myself, but I eat foods that are higher in calories than I usually spend. Usually, I'll eat my typical breakfasts and lunches, but then I'll splurge on a dinner out or pizza at home with the family. These days are usually about 2,500-3,500 calories total. I still measure and count everything I eat.

To be successful, I think that we need to find a plan that works for US. We should shape a plan to fit into our lives, rather than shape our lives to fit into a plan. You can read more about that here.

Binge Eating

Q. How do you define a binge? Isn't it the same as overeating?

A. Overeating and binge eating are actually very different. Lots of people overeat, but a binge has a psychological component to it--where you lose all control, and you cannot stop eating. Here is a whole post that I wrote about the difference.

Q. How did you stop binge eating?

A. I still struggle with binge eating, and I think I always will. But I did manage to go an entire year without a single binge while I was losing weight, and as I write this (February 2016), I'm on another long binge-free streak. I wrote a four-part series on binge eating, and the first part can be found here. This series answers everything in regards to my binge eating and how I stopped. It also answers a lot of calorie counting questions I've gotten.


Exercise

Q. How did you get started running?

A. You can read my running story here. There are lots of links to my posts about getting started yourself!

Q. How did you get faster at running?

A. Again, check out my running page.

Q. What exercise did you do in the beginning?

A. I didn't do any exercise at all until I'd lost 60ish pounds. I tried, but got discouraged because it caused my weight loss to stall (that's actually very common, and not necessarily a bad thing!) I lost weight through counting calories alone. Then I started to exercise by walking 3-4 days per week. Eventually, I began to add a little running to the walking, and then switched completely to running.

Q. How often do you run? How far?

A. I usually run 3-6 days per week, depending on if I'm training for a race. I made a vow to run at least three days per week, no matter what, and that's all I did for a long time. But my general rule of thumb is that I don't go more than two days without a run.

Q. What is that watch you wear on your runs?

A. That is a Garmin Forerunner 620. It's a GPS watch that tracks distance, pace, time, splits, etc. for running, walking, or biking.

Q. What clothes do you wear when you run?

A. I have written a whole post about that! My Favorite Running Things

Q. Do you do strength training or other exercise?

A. I know that strength training is really important, but I never really did a regular program. Occasionally, I'll try to start one, but it never sticks ;)

Q. How did you fit in exercise when you had small children at home?

A. I don't think that having children at home is a valid excuse for not exercising. My kids were 3 and 5 when I started losing weight, and my husband works 12-hour swing shifts. When I started exercising, I made the decision that I was going to fit in a run three times per week NO MATTER WHAT.

Sometimes I had to ask my brother or my parents to watch the boys for 30 minutes, sometimes I had to run at 6:30 in the morning when my husband came home from working the night shift, sometimes I had to run at 7:00 at night to fit it in. Sometimes I would even ask a friend to watch the kids while I ran, and then I would watch all her kids while she fit in a run.

I would also plan my runs on the days my husband had off of work. I think that three days per week is completely do-able for just about anyone. Also, a treadmill is a fantastic investment when you have small kids. You don't have to leave the house to get in a walk or run!

Q. What do you use to carry water on your runs?

A. I have written a whole post about that! My Favorite Running Things


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