Summer of Success Feed

Becoming single-minded

Hey! I sorta took a blogging vacation while I obsessed over political conventions. During that time I also found myself in a dentist chair three times because my temporary crown kept falling off. I've got the permanent crown glued on so all is good in the mouth arena.

Sitting in that chair with my mouth wide open while my while my dentist squeezed me in between scheduled patients allowed me time to stare at my feet and contemplate things. Like how people can say "Hey, I'm fat and I don't wanna be fat anymore. I think I'll commit to a healthy workout and eating plan and get this weight off."

And then they do it, and they're done, and they work on maintaining their healthy new life.

Matter of fact, my husband did that recently, but he wasn't fat. He wanted to lose some weight, so he just did. Forty-something pounds to be sorta exact. 

I, on the other hand, prattle on about my "weight loss journey." (Don't ya love the word prattle? I've totally been doing it.)

No lie -- I have been on or off some sort of plan since I was 10 years old. 

Let me repeat: 




That equals 46 Gail years. 

So, while sitting in that dentist chair last week, feeling gross and bloated from leftover birthday party food and not drinking enough water and not getting enough sleep (up too late watching cable news), I decided to be one of those rare people who say to themselves, "Hey, I'm fat and I don't wanna be fat anymore. I think I'll commit to a healthy workout and eating plan and get this weight off."

But here's the rub: To accomplish this I need to become single minded about my goal, and I have the brain of a that dog in the movie "Up."


I've been meaning to write this all weekend but something has distracted me -- like loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning out my closets, loading the dishwasher (Oh, did I mention that already? I didn't finish loading the dishwasher. The dog wanted to go out and ...)

I digress.

That's my problem. I digress a lot.


I tend to flit between eating and fitness programs like a hummingbird on Mountain Dew. Even when something is WORKING I'll think "But what if I tried this? What if I did this more? What if I cut this out?"

I started looking at weight loss success stories on various websites:

  • One woman downloaded My Fitness Pal and laced up her running shoes to lose 53 pounds.
  • Another woman took her dog on nightly walks and started eating smaller portions to lose 35 pounds.
  • And this woman didn't want to go on blood pressure meds so she gave up soda and processed carbs, and filled half her plate with veggies at every meal and started taking her son for walks.

I admit, it's HARD for me to laser focus on anything, but after 46 years of being on a "weight loss journey" I'd like to get off this ride.

I've already established the fact that I can maintain my weight like a champ, so I've got that hard part mastered. But I need to get to a healthy weight so I can maintain that. 

My self-titled Summer of Success is still going strong -- I dropped half of the 5 pounds that I gained over the past year -- and now I'm going to kick it up a notch and do a really difficult thing: Learn how to become single-minded.

I Googled the phrase "how to become single-minded" because, gurl, I need help, and I found this paragraph on a Chabad website, of all places:

Single-minded people are not much fun. But there is something about them that elicits our amazement, even admiration. They have devoted themselves to something unequivocally. Imagine what we could achieve if we could make such a commitment to the things we truly care about!

Fit happensHow am I going to add a little single-mindedness to my life?

What I think I'm going to do is devote an hour, just 60 minutes, to mapping out my task of losing weight. (It's not a "journey" anymore.) I'm going to sit down at a table with a pen, and open up my Fit Happens planner, which I haven't touched since before we went on vacation. In it I will document the good, bad and ugly of the day and map out my plan to conquer the next day, taking it one day at a time, as the saying goes. 

This is going to be difficult but well worth it.


I thought about a 'scale-free summer' for about a hot minute ...

I hadn't weighed myself since we got back from vacation. I lost nearly 3 pounds while in Southern California (probably baked it off in the heat) and hadn't stepped back on the scale since June 27. I briefly considered doing a "scale-free summer" but I know myself too well and I would have been completely neurotic all summer while I wondered whether this was the best idea ever or a huge mistake.

(This would have been me all summer.)

So I got on the scale this morning and discovered that another 2 pounds has left my body, never to return.

Women hugging scales
(This was me this morning.)

So I came up with a happy medium between ignoring the scale completely and obsessively weighing in every morning -- every couple weeks I'll check in and see how my plan is going.

What is my plan? My plan is exactly that -- MY plan. There's a little Superfood Swap (making healthier versions of indulgent foods), a little Always Hungry (more fat and less starchy carbs) and more plants (fresh produce, vegan smoothies and big salads).

There's also less stressing about exercise -- I go to the gym 3ish times a week and maybe throw in a DVD or some sort of home workout -- and I'm trying to get to bed earlier. 

So to sum up:

  • Weighing a couple times a month
  • Eating more healthy fats, more plants, fewer starches
  • Getting a decent amount of exercise and more sleep

That's MY plan -- nobody's plan but mine.


A funny thing happened on the way to the bariatric surgery forum

So y'know that post I wrote Monday where I had an epiphany in the dressing room at Avenue? The one where I went home and made some phone calls? I called my insurance provider about bariatric surgery coverage.

While looking up specific numbers, the customer service rep mentioned that our coverage includes a weight-loss coaching program, which is free. 

But that's not what I was calling for. 

I got the insurance information and then called the bariatric surgery department of Cleveland Clinic Florida. I found out that the hospital has informational sessions every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8 a.m. I was so there.

Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. I headed into the conference room with about 10 other people. I don't know what I was expecting to see, but most of the people there were women about my age and about my size -- not at all the 400-pounders I expected.

Here's where it got interesting. A few minutes into the session, the insurance authorization specialist had us look over the requirements for our individual insurance plans. As I looked over who qualifies and what you have to do to qualify, it hit me:

By the time I got done with the tests and the medically supervised diet, I'd be well under the minimum BMI to qualify. 

For the most part, you need a BMI of 40 or above, or 35 with two "co-morbidities," ie: diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, etc. Thankfully, I don't have any of those and I wasn't about to get one just to qualify. I also wasn't willing to not lose weight or even gain weight to stay qualified.

I started scribbling down the things that bariatric surgery patients would have to do to be successful:

  • 8 glasses of water
  • Exercise 6 days a week
  • 80 to 100g of protein a day
  • Good multivitamins
  • Adequate sleep
  • Behavior modification

"OK, I'd have to do these things anyway. Why not do them without the surgery?" I thought.

I was interested in finding out more about ghrelin. It's the "hungry" hormone, and in some people -- yours truly included -- it can go haywire, leaving you hungry all the time. In sleeve gastrectomy, the part of the stomach that produces ghrelin is removed. So I asked if there was anything else that could affect ghrelin production. The dietitian, who I worked with before in the Non-Surgical Weight Loss Program at Cleveland Clinic, said that a meal containing lots of protein and fiber helps quiet the ghrelin monster (my word) by hanging around your stomach longer than other foods. As long as your stretch receptors are activated, you're more likely to be satiated.

Driving home, I felt a renewed dedication to do the right things, especially the behavior modification. So I called back the insurance company and signed up for the weight-loss coaching. 

Fit happens
This was my day: journaling and blowing my nose.

I had my first session with the woman, a former Weight Watchers leader, yesterday, and I think it'll be a good complement to the Weight Watchers online program I'm doing. I'll check in with her every week and go over the short-term and long-term goals that we've set.

One of those goals is cutting out after-dinner eating and I kicked it off spectacularly last night -- mostly because I came down with a rotten head cold and all I wanted to do was lie in bed with a ton of tissues and watch baseball. 

This morning I got on the scale and -- poof! -- I dropped a pound and a half. I credit the extra sleep, cough drops and Sudafed.

I also bought myself a "Fit Happens" journal at Target. It's by Fitlosophy, the maker of my favorite Fitbook, but this one is a little less food-y and a lot more journal-y, something I need right now. 

So there ya have it. Too small for surgery. Now to work on getting that Nobel Prize for eradicating ghrelin.




Choose your Points well, Grasshopper

Summer of success 2016_edited-1Totally muffed the first week back on Weight Watchers. I gained a pound and was hungry all the time.

For those unfamiliar with the new SmartPoints program, the key determinants to how many Points a food has are calories, saturated fat, sugar and protein. Carbs don't figure and neither does fiber or total fat. 

And I am apparently making the wrong food choices. A Chobani Flip is a frequent afternoon or evening snack, and those little suckers are racking up at least 8 Points. I just had an ounce of cashews after the gym and was dismayed to see that the tiny handful was 5 Points.

Man, I need to rethink my snacks because they're eating up all my Points. That's why I was hungry all week. I blew through those 42 bonus Points before the week was up. 

If you'd like to read about someone who is just killing it on the new Weight Watchers plan, check out my pal Monica, who explains how she lost 25 pounds in 100 days.

Exercise-wise, I ditched the DVDs and went back to the gym this morning and did 20 minutes on the arc trainer and some upper-body machines. Now my upper back is reminding me that we haven't done that in awhile, have we? 

In other news ...

I had an epiphany in the dressing room of Avenue today while trying on shorts. I'd call it a hissy fit but really it was more of an "angels singing" kinda thing as I tried to yank the shorts over my saddlebags. A smile spread over my face as I tossed the too-small shorts on the bench.

"Yep, that's it. Buy a bigger size and go home and make a phone call."

And that I did.

Who did I call ... ?


Time to stop being a petulant food baby

Goldfish bag

See that up there? That was scarfed down last week while catching up on the DVR backlog at about, oh, 1 in the morning.

At least it was a 1-ounce single-serve bag.

I sat there with the crumpled bag in my hand and said to myself. "OK, show's over, petulant food baby. Goldfish eaten at 1 a.m. are not conducive to weight loss."

 (Me, late at night, with crunchy carbs.)

Why do I call myself a petulant food baby? Because I get all petulant when I realize that things like Goldfish crackers and Chocolate Cheerios have to GO FAR AWAY for me to succeed.


So I woke up the next morning and made a logo.

Summer of success 2016_edited-1

My sister and I did a "Summer Spectacular" a few years ago and it was less than spectacular. But we're older now, and perhaps wiser. My sister has been having some success by cutting down on carbs and loading up on lean protein and vegetables. I have been doing nothing specific, cherry picking the best tips from some of my favorite dietitians and docs (Dawn Jackson Blatner, Robert Ferguson, Dr. Ian K. Smith, among others) and keeping things balanced and non-crazymaking. 

I also took the bait and signed up for another 3-month hitch on Weight Watchers because I am determined to master its SmartPoints plan. I was also inspired by my friend Monica, who signed up just as I had quit the last time, and now she is down an impressive 25 pounds. (I'm totally picking your brain, girl!)

I kicked off the month of June by taking a free Orangetheory class. I've been wanting to try Orangetheory for ages. The workout was started at a local Pilates studio where I was briefly a member (Pilates and I don't mesh). 


First-ever @otheoryfitness class done! #orangetheoryfitness

A photo posted by Gail Gedan Spencer (@ggspencer) on

I loved the class -- and was able to keep up! The cool thing is everyone goes at their own pace, so if you're not a runner you power walk on the treadmill. They also have those cool rowers with the water in them (super smooth) and TRX for the strength training part (my triceps were so fried that they kept me awake all night). 

But as we all know, when losing weight it's mostly about the food, so no more "otter snacking" at night. I'm also studying the WW list of low Point foods so I'll be leaning on my carton of egg whites. I'm also not going to worry about fruit, which is to say I'm not going to plow through a Publix bowl of watermelon in one sitting, but if I have a few pieces of fruit a day IT'S OK.

Carol (my sister -- Shrinking Sisters, remember?) has been cooking her way through the Chicken Playbook and made this one a couple nights ago:

 I'm not putting any pressure on myself to lose weight by a certain date. My goal is to first shave off this 10 pounds that crept back on over the last year and go from there. 

Now that my eyes are good, I'm planning on dragging out a needlepoint kit and keeping it near the TV. Otters can't snack if they're making art!