Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Putting it all out there...well, at least 100 pounds of it

Yesterday I implemented a plan I have been contemplating for many weeks now.  I'm calling it the The Healthy RN. The name represents the two journeys I am currently embarking on.  Becoming a healthy individual and a Registered Nurse.    

Left:  That's me on the far left at my friends wedding.
Upper left:  Playing paramedic at the county fair with Clo the cow
Bottom right:  Out with the girls
I'm not going to get into numbers and specifics but lets suffice it to say that I am a big girl.  A big girl who can stand to lose 100 pounds.  My motivation to lose the weight is because I want to be healthy.  I will never be "skinny" and I accept that.  I'm always going to be a curvy girl, it's just who I am, but I am not healthy and haven't been for a long time.  So I decided it was time for change.  It was a matter of timing, circumstance, and need that made me decide to get off my butt and get my weight under control.  A few weeks ago I realized I was going to graduate from nursing school in 95 weeks.  I realized that if I lost 1.1 pounds per week I would lose about 100 pounds by graduation.  That's when I decided to become The Healthy RN for the reason's I have listed plus a few more:

  • The F word - yep, the F word finally caught up with me.  FORTY.  I feel dirty even saying it.  About a month ago I had an amazing fortieth birthday party with family and friends.  With all that fun however, comes the realization that I'm not as young as I used to be.  All those problems that don't seem to afflict people in their 20's and 30's suddenly become crap you don't want to even consider "risk factors" when you turn forty.  That brings us to the next 3 items listed below.
  • Stroke - as a paramedic working on a 911 ambulance I see a lot of medical conditions that significantly impact the lives of my patients.  Of all the conditions I witness I am most scared of suffering a stroke.  A stroke, depending on severity, could limit my ability to be independent, to Zentangle and most importantly, to be a good auntie to my nieces and nephews.  The thought of not being able to play with them almost brings me to tears.
  • Cardiac disease - what is there to say except that I'm at risk.  I'm overweight, have a poor diet, a high stress job and have a strong family history.
  • Diabetes - diabetes scares me because it is such an insipid disease.  It creeps up on you and before you know it your doctor is talking to you about renal dialysis.  My father died from complications related to dialysis and I saw all that he went through and I know he wouldn't want that for me so for may dad, I'm making a commitment to not let that happen.  
My father and I on my wedding day.  I sure do miss him.

  • The husband - when you take the vow of "for better or worse" I think you have an obligation to the other person not to do things that would put you at greater risk for "worse".  Of course, things happen, but if I am at greater risk because of decisions to not live a healthy lifestyle, that's not fair to my husband.  Even though I know he would care for me no matter what, I would rather us live a long, happy, active life together. He has always been willing to live a healthy lifestyle so I think it's time to take advantage of his support rather than work against it.

The hubby and I at the Providence Botanical Gardens.

Hamming it up at Flo's Clam Shack in Massachusetts

  • The nieces and nephews - these kids are my biggest joy.  I don't have kids of my own so that means there is a lot of pressure on me to be the "cool" auntie that everyone wants to hang with.  I love rolling on the grass with them, flying kites, playing tag, doing craft projects, teaching them to cook,  going to the park, and attending their spelling bees.  But more important than all these things is that I have a responsibility to be a good role model.  I realized the other day that when I watch them I am always conscious of  making them healthy meals, limiting their sugar, and including plenty of physical activity in their day yet I don't bother to do that for myself.  A pretty pathetic double standard if you ask me.  I have a responsibility to these kids to be around for a long time so it's time to get healthy.

Hanging with the kiddos.  And this isn't even all of them!

  • The family - If you saw how my dysfunctional family acts when we are together you wouldn't believe it, but I think that for the most part we actually get along, and dare I say love each other!  I think it's unfair to create undo worry and concern if you can control it.  I know my mother worries about my health and she shouldn't have to do that and my brothers and sister in laws shouldn't have to worry if their children will have an auntie.  You get the picture.
  • Friends - I am so blessed to have an amazing group of friends. To be lucky enough to have a group of people who would do just about anything for you is a rare find and something that shouldn't be taken for granted.  I'm ready to accept my responsibility to be here for them as much as they have been there for me.
  • Chins - I have too many.  Enough said.
  • Being the big one - a few years back I started to notice that it was becoming more and more common for me to be the biggest woman at any given gathering.  This is by far, the thing that most easily causes me to become depressed.  Whenever I go somewhere and realize that I am the biggest girl it is almost guaranteed that I will start a downward spiral and usually turn to food for comfort.  It's a vicious cycle I don't care to repeat anymore. 
So by now you are probably wondering how I plan on achieving this goal of losing 100 pounds and becoming a healthy, happy, active person.  It's not really rocket science, I just looked at what I have been doing wrong and figured out ways to change my behaviors using common sense and a few tools.  So here's how I plan to do it:

  • Common sense eating - I have been on just about every diet imaginable plus my mother was a Weight Watchers leader so I actually know a lot about nutrition.  My problem is that I just don't try to implement it as diligently as I should.  One of my more successful diet attempts was using the Primal Blueprint.  The diet entails eating no grains and only limited carbs while eating an increased amount of fat.  It's similar to Atkins but has a more "real world" approach that I liked.  The problem was that one of the main sources of protein was eggs and I haven't had an egg (if it looks or smells like an egg I don't eat it.) in 20 years so it presented a real challenge for breakfast when you don't eat eggs and can't eat grains.  I felt great but after a few weeks the monotony was too much and my willpower failed.  So to become the Healthy RN I have decided to adopt what can most simply be called a healthy diet with no large servings of simple carbs.  I plan on focusing on healthy proteins, large servings of multiple types of vegetables and salads, moderate servings of fruit, healthy fats, and small portions of whole grains.  I think it's a healthy approach that is easily adaptable for the long run because my goal is to create a healthy eating style, not to go on a "diet".
  • Have a realistic exercise regimen - I plan on exercising 5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.  In the past I have always gone exercise crazy when I have started a new diet.  I have bought equipment, joined more gyms than I care to mention, and created plans that were so detailed and time intensive that I never carried through for more than 2 weeks. My new approach it to enjoy exercise.  I know that sounds totally cliche but it's true.  The older I get the more I appreciate what nature has to offer and I'm going to take advantage of it.  Each month I plan on exploring 2 new exercise options.  It might be a new walking path, a hike, or a bike ride.  I am also going to find some "back up" exercise options so I have no excuse when my day gets to busy.  I have a very nice treadmill, and the hubby already set up a TV so I have something to watch while I'm walking.  I'm also going to dig out some pilates and exercise videos that I know I have lurking around.  
  • Utilize my friends - Like I said before, I have an amazing group of friends.  My girl's Chris, Andrea, Jenn, Sudahlia, Steph, Chandra, and Debbi would do just about anything to help me out and have offered to on numerous occasions but I'm the one who always make some excuse to not take them up on their offer.  Besides my girls I also have my two main guys, Greg and Margarito who have always stood by me no matter what.  So I have this great support system yet I manage to minimize any offer they make.  Well that stopped yesterday.  Bring it on girls and boys, I'm ready to work!
  • Taking advantage of circumstance - Like I said earlier, one of the reasons I decided to get healthy now is because of the nursing school timeline and how it coincides with my goal of 100 pounds. I just happened to get into nursing school with my co-worker and friend Sara, and let me tell you there is a new task master in town!  Sara seems to have taken on a mission of getting me to be healthy and active.   Nursing school is a daunting task in its own right but it's also expensive and has major time constraints.  These circumstances, combined with Sara constantly being on my butt about eating healthy, made bringing my lunch to school a natural decision.  I have also made a couple new friends, Kevin and Katie, who are being super supportive in helping me get on track with my healthy lifestyle.  Together we plan on walking the track and running the stairs at school and also taking a few "field trips" for some more nature based exercised.  I'm lucky to have ended up with such great friends for this journey of school and weight loss.  
  • Getting rid of the numbers...well sort of - When I have lost weight in the past, I have always put an enormous amount attention on the numbers, primarily how many pounds I've lost. My weekly goals were usually unrealistic and in many cases I was working with an unrealistic timeline.  You know what I mean, the "I have to go to my high school reunion in 2 months and need to lose 60 pounds!" diet.  It's unattainable and when you have so much pressure and then have a week where you gain a pound or two it sometimes creates a downward spiral that you don't recover from.  It's a self defeating plan to focus on pounds lost in a traditional way.  So I devised a plan for myself that tracks pounds lost in what I think is an unconventional manner.  I used 95 post it notes that I labeled week 1-95.  I then labeled each one with the week it starts and wrote what my goal weight should have been for that week as calculated by a 1.1 pound weight loss for each week.  Each week I will peel of that weeks post it note paying attention to whether or not I am on track for the week.  Sure this still involves the numbers but for me the number is more symbolic that I am on track with my healthy lifestyle than keeping track of how many pounds I have lost total.  My hope (fingers crossed) is that since my weekly goal is low, I might lose a few extra pounds here and there so if there is a minor gain (which there is bound to be) I will still be meeting my weekly goals in the long run.  It's a symbolic way for me to stay on track and physically see the weeks and pounds melting away!
My post it note weight tracker

So if you have stuck it out to get this far in my post you are probably wondering "Why is she telling us all this personal stuff?" and it come's down to one word: accountability.  I have tried just about everything to get healthy but I have never tried peer pressure/support/constructive criticism/commraderie  of this level before.  Every week I pour my heart into my Zentangle's and the Zendala Dare and each and every week my readers reciprocate by telling me how much they enjoy and appreciate them.  So logically, if I put this struggle out there I hope I will receive a similar response.  So loyal readers, I challenge you to join me, help me, support me, and offer your tips, tricks while sharing your challenges with me.  We can take this trip together and two years from now I will hopefully achieve 3 goals:

  • I will be able to run most of a half marathon.
  • I will be healthy, fit, happy and 100 pounds lighter.
  • I will be wearing a cute dress to my pinning ceremony and will be a Registered Nurse.

What challenge are you going to set for yourself?

This is what I look like 100 pounds lighter.
I haven't seen it in 20 years but I plan on
revisiting it again in a little under 2!
Who know's, I may even revisit the
Marilyn Monroe costume.


  1. Good Luck to you Erin, I admire you for sharing your story. I also admire how much you cram into each and every week with work, nursing school, family and friends and the effort you put into your Zendala dare. You are an inspiration!

    I am on a similar mission and I think you may give me the push that I need as well. I am using an app called "My Fitness Pal" which calculates your calories for you as well as showing how many carbs, protein and fat. It has only been a few weeks but I have lost 6 lbs with a big holiday in the middle. Weight loss, for me, has to continue due to being twenty plus years older than you, it is no good for my joints, heart etc etc.

  2. Good luck Erin! I'm just getting back on the weight loss train myself this week--we can do this!! Cheering you on all the way!

  3. I'm not going to wish you luck, I wish for you success! You can do it, it sounds as if you have the conviction so go for it, enjoy the process and the little achievements along the way and the incredible energy you will find as the pounds melt away! You go girl!

  4. Erin, I am so impressed with your thoughts about losing weight. It seems that, for you, it is about health and the effects of your health on those you care about. Much better reasons than just looking good or fitting into a certain size. I am glad you have a "support committee". I think that will be a great advantage. I have been on a similar track and, let me tell you...when I realized I could get down on the floor to play with my nieces and nephews and up again with ease, that was a big reward! You gogirl!

  5. Yay! I'm so proud of you for putting this out there! You are going to do great!! We should schedule our first group hike asap :-)

  6. you got it, erin! bring it on! we are in this thing together!

    i believe you and i would be very good friends if we had the opportunity - we think a lot alike, i'm always smiling when i read your 'personal' posts :).

    i am diabetic, when i was diagnosed a little over a year ago, i made changes in my eating - cut out all sweets, except for a very occasional bite-size reece's peanut butter cup for weight loss reward, and changed my portions sizes. bought a small dinner plate - one of those about 6" ones in diameter - i can eat what i can fit on it, but usually don't eat it all. i lost 50 pounds, then for some reason started back into the bad habits. weight loss stopped.

    i still need to lose another 45 or pounds, SO, you and i are in this together. starting right now, back to logging every bite i eat (cause that's the only way i can do it), better food choices, and restricted sugar intake. bless you, dear erin! i see success a-coming! for both of us :)

  7. I am sending you positive wishes for your goals.Take care in the processes and know we are your friends and love you for being you.
    susan s

  8. Way. To. Go. ERIN!!!!! Here's to your success!

  9. This is a GREAT decision you made, Erin!!!! I am convinced that especially the DECISION you make is so important.
    I have smoked from 14 - 55 years old and ... I smoked a lot (sometimes 65 cigarettes a day). When I decided to stop almost 10 years ago I told all my family, friends and colleagues that and when I would stop. And I really decided to never, ever smoke again.
    And so I did, one Friday afternoon at 15.00 hour I walked into the room of an acupunturist and never smoked since. Even when a son of my best friend, who I loved almost as much as one of my own children, was killed in an accident at 17 years old I did not start smoking. For me that was the prove that my decision was strong enough.
    A long story to tell you that I believe in you and your decision!!!!
    Good luck gril, we're all proud of you.

  10. Your are indeed courageous to put it out there to all your loving and caring Zendala-'ers. I wish you every success!!! I just quit smoking (as of Jan. 12th) and - this time - will be the last!! I'm committed to staying smoke free so I can stay healthy and live a long life. I do hope you'll keep us posted on your progress -- even if you slip or "fall off the wagon" as they say. Good luck, Erin.

  11. Oh Erin, you are so brave and wonderful to share yourself, your thoughts, your goals. You've got us all on board with you; big hugs, cheers with your successes (100 of them!). Slowly but surely is the way to do it - and making it a lifestyle is the positive way. I'm there with you - my first 35 lb. loss was with Weight Watchers, but then I got lazy and put 1/2 of it back on in a couple of years - then WW changed their system and I don't like it (or maybe it was the new leader?). My husband and I also have recently started using the app My Fitness Pal, which is working really well, and I would highly recommend. Good luck, and best wishes! You'll do really well!

  12. wow what a challenge!
    I admire, motivates me to start again.
    Am also very curious about your experiences.
    Are you going on your weblog tracking what you've eaten?
    And I love me aanbevollen for delicious recipes.

    Good luck Greetings Natascha

  13. Cheering you on and thanks for putting it all out there!

  14. I was glad to hear that you have decided to take care of you, so that you can take care of others. I began my weight loss in 2000, it took me about a year and a half to reach my goal, so far I have maintained my weight. Good luck with your new adventure.

  15. Congratulations Erin, it sounds like you have given this a lot of thought. I too have made a decision to get healthy starting last month, I joined Weight Watchers online and it's going well. I think the trick is to develop a lifestyle you're willing to live with forever, not just for a few months. <3

  16. I'm doing a no wheat diet and have lost 11 pounds in 8 months. Actually, it's no modern wheat - the wheat that was genetically modified in the late sixties to improve world wide nutrition. Modern wheat is now 95% of all wheat grown. Anyway, it's working for me and I think more people should try it - check out the book "Wheat Belly".

  17. Congratulations, Erin! You're well on your way to success--you have a clear and reasonable plan, great motivation, and accountability.

    If you'd like company, I'd love to join you on your journey. I've lost 60 pounds over the last few years (on my own at first, then with Weight Watchers), but I still have over 100 to go.

  18. Wow, so many in the same boat! I definitely need to lose too, and have gone on most diets includiong weight watchers three times. I find the weight always comes back on again plus more, and the older you get the harder it is to move. Recently my daughter has been doing Jenny Craig, especially as she is soooo busy with her job high exec, she doesn't have to worry about bying food or deciding what to eat. Im not sure I could afford it but I do need someone to be strict with me, but also encourage somehow. She has said I should write it all down, which I used to do, and she will check it for me. The fact that she is even interested, is an encouragement, so I'll join you all and see how we go. Fingers crossed!



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