#Stronger Than the Cookie: Turning Point

container of iced sugar cookies

This is my seventh entry in the saga of my cookie laden life. I began the journey to this turning point in mid-June 2020, and my first post about my journey to health (The Cookie Diary) July 21, 2020. I have written this series of posts for a couple of reasons. First, it has given me a way to combine honesty and humor, while at the same time scrutinizing my own history with food. It has also given me a way to hold myself accountable, publicly, in excruciating detail.

Second, my hope is that these posts offer encouragement and a sense of normalcy to others, who like myself have had a love affair with all the wrong foods. It is not, however to promote myself as an expert, or to promote a specific weight loss plan. Rather, I write to share my experience, and hope that it will give others hope, that if I can do this with my history, you can too.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

The Slow Plateau

My weight loss has been fairly gradual, sometimes losing as much as two pounds in one week, but I have definitely had a zig-zag pattern to my loss, up a few ounces, down a few ounces. It has gone like that back and forth for days, and then a good drop. As soon as I have gotten to a two or three pound drop, the zig zag goes back to work.

I haven’t suffered through long plateaus the way some of my compatriots have. I can see how discouraging that would be. It could be tempting to look for some trick to move the needle on the scale, or it could also be tempting to just give up.

I would be lying if I did not admit to entertaining both of those notions on occasion, but I came to some conclusions that helped me to dismiss them. If my goal is health, and a healthier weight, then, there are no applicable tricks. It is not about a number. And, if I could successfully apply a trick to move the needle to the magic number my heart desires, and then I bounce off and go back in the other direction, what will I have accomplished? Discouragement, for sure.

Likewise, giving up after a period of not making progress would mean throwing out all the hard work. I decided on a different rationale, that is to treat a slow plateau as if it were a period of maintenance. Part of my goal is to get to that “magic number” that is my goal, and then maintain it, or live into it, while enjoying the benefits of my hard work.

I got to try this theory out shortly after my last post in January. By January 25th, I had lost 45 pounds and was on my way to a goal of a 50 pound loss, with the possibility of re-setting my goal for an additional 5 pounds. That would put me at 145 pounds and a 55 pound loss. All through February that needle did not move. I began to wonder if my goal was doable or reasonable.

I have heard that the older one is, the more your body tries to maintain its metabolism, and the harder it is to lose weight. I had also heard that sometimes, when you only have a little bit to lose, it is harder. I had to wonder if my body was telling me, “This is it, we are done.” It was a possibility that I had to consider, but I decided to stick to my program and see what happened next. Little by little, the needle started to move again. When my weight got to 151, I was jubilant and reset my (final?) goal to 145. As of this writing, I have two pounds to go to 145. And the needle continues to zig-zag, up three ounces, down four, up four, down two.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

I will get there, and then I am going to stop and focus on simply maintaining my loss and my health. I have been doing 1200 calories a day, since mid-July, with lots of good food and variety, but I am looking forward to adding some calories. When I hit my goal, the plan is to add 200 calories a day and see what that does. If I continue to lose weight at that level, I will add another 200 calories and day and monitor. All this in conversation with my physician. It seems like a good plan.

I have lost this weight before or a version of it, in equally large amounts. Living into a healthy maintenance is crucial. I want to be in a stable clothing size too. I have gone from a size 22 in jeans, to a size 12, from a 2X in tops and sweaters to a size medium. I can not begin to tell you how good that feels. Sometimes I look in the mirror a little too long, because I can hardly believe my eyes.

I have not done “diet” foods. I can eat anything I want, but spending calories is a lot like spending money. I track calories, and balance food types, weigh and measure food and get on the scale every day. I could eat delicious chocolate cake, moist chocolate cake with fudgy icing; I will always love that, but I choose to leave that in my past.

The Moravian Sugar Cake Battle

Through it all, with good support, learning, and careful planning, I have been able to do this fairly well. But something happened in mid-February that was a shock to my system. I had decided to make something very special, a Moravian Sugar Cake, for a Love Feast for church for Valentine’s Day. It was perfect, because we were still doing drive-in Church, so no mess in the sanctuary. But I had never made it before, so I had to do one batch of the recipe to try it out. I did not want to experiment on the congregation.

I made half the batch, so I would know how long it would take, (hours) and what it would look like and taste like. When the cake was done, I cut it and had a piece, not a taste, a piece. All well and good, I counted the calories and logged it. it wasn’t bad, so I reached for another piece. The next day I had a third piece. I wanted to cry. After months of work at healthy eating, just that quickly, my old habits came back. Mindless eating. I knew then that vigilance was going to be important going forward.

A New Palete?

Overall, I have cut way back on processed foods, and foods with high amounts of sugar. Cutting back, not eliminating them. I will share more about this in another post. One of the exciting things though, is by cutting back on my sugar intake, I have been amazed at the taste of foods and how much I enjoy them. Roasted vegetables, even things like string cheese, taste delicious to me. When I shared this with one of my program leaders, she commented that my palette was changing. I was polite, but not sure something like that was possible.

And yet, opening the refrigerator door and reaching in and grabbing a piece of fruit, is almost an out of body experience. It is like watching someone else do these things. I am still a picky eater, but I try to keep apples, oranges, sugar free apple sauce, and seedless green grapes, on hand. I have discovered new foods that I didn’t realize that I might like, and I am trying to acquire a taste for cooked oatmeal as an evening snack. It has to be sweet enough and I haven’t figured out the right proportion yet.

Numbers:

I’d like to share some numbers or statistics with you, the bad and the good. I have spent much of my adult life weighing in between 190 and 200. In 1988, or there about, my doctor offered me an extreme diet, coupled with medication (diet pills) and regular check ups. I lost 50 pounds, but did not learn anything. It did not stay off long.

In 2007 I met my goal and achieved Lifetime Status with Weight Watchers. It is a good program. At goal, I was 162 pounds and 5’6″. As soon as I hit Lifetime, it did not take me long to start going up. By 2010 I was 196 pounds. I had focused only on losing, but not learning.

In 2018 I was at 200, but I was always good at maintaining the higher numbers. In June of 2020, when I had my wake-up call, I weighed 200 pounds.

If you think this disclosure is less than embarrassing, you would be wrong. There is a reason I waited this long to disclose those numbers. So I hope you see in this series gratitude, and not bragging.

Here are the good numbers. I am still not sure how I got this far without being diabetic, but I am not diabetic. My cholesterol numbers though, have been high borderline for the last few years. My cholesterol went down from 204 to 155 and triglycerides from 272 to 96. There are other improvements as well, but that is plenty of information from a stranger. Still, it is a lot to celebrate.

I think maintenance will take at least as much work and diligence as losing the weight, but I believe I can do it. My plan is to continue to share updates, every four or six weeks in the hope that my story can encourage others. If I can succeed in maintaining my loss, I may try for another five to eight pounds in the future. My loss has taken my BMI from obese to the low end of overweight. I would love to get it inside the normal weight range. But that will keep.

I am so grateful, and I am #Strongerthanthecookie, and not taking it for granted.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up With Esme Senior Salon and Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Share

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

32 thoughts on “#Stronger Than the Cookie: Turning Point

  1. Thank you for writing so candidly about your battle with weight loss. It is encouraging to me.

    My most consistent weight loss was through Weigh Down Workshop, when I lost 30 pounds. Thankfully, I kept it off, but it wasn’t enough. Inspired by my daughter’s loss of 132 pounds with the help of a balloon, I began having smaller portions. The loss is VERY slow, but it is better than gaining weight. I’m down two dress sizes.

    You look fantastic. I would never have guessed you had been overweight. Keep on enjoying yourself in the mirror. My daughter is still thrilled with her new size and gives her mirror a good workout every day.

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    1. Thank you Anne. Two dress sizes is significant and keeping it off is also significant. I think it may be harder. I don’t have a current picture for this post. I have a selfie with baggy pants. thought about asking my hubby to take a picture for me but decided against it. congratulations to your daughter too. Wow! that took and takes determination. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment with your own candid story. Easter blessings, He Lives! Michele

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      1. Before too long, share a photo of yourself, if you are willing.

        I am now down to the level where you started, so I presume trying to lose weight will last the rest of my life. I often think about people who really shrink because of some terrible illness before they die. I’d rather be fat than dead.

        Blessings for your weekend. Love, Anne

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Michele. I think every woman on the planet can relate. You are an inspiration, and I don’t say that lightly. I started my no-sugar diet to combat high cholesterol. Even though I am not overweight, my cholesterol topped out in the 280s! It declined 50 points in a year, but it is still in the 230s. Pretty high! I can sympathize with being tempted by sweets after not eating them for so long. I will occasionally indulge in a sweet treat but did not have anything with added sugar between my birthday (mid-January) until my grandson’s (St. Patrick’s Day). Then I made cookies for Easter. Browned butter Chocolate Chip cookies with a little sea salt sprinkled on top. I couldn’t stop eating them! I finally had to put all the remaining cookies in the freezer to stop myself. It’s just like an addiction. I literally thought about the title of your posts as I put the cookies in the freezer – Stronger Than the Cookie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Although it maybe an overused statement and applied to a lot of issues, “The struggle is real.” Most cookies go in the freezer in this house, I have bagels in the freezer and cranberry scones and need to make more cranberry bread, but it all has to go in the freezer and come out gingerly, one at a time. Thank you for the compliment. It is so easy to slip into mindless eating and a sugar fog without realizing it. Ugh. I hope the dr can help with your cholesterol. Thanks for taking the time to read and share. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These posts have been very relatable, MIchele. You are inspirational in how you continue to want to better yourself in general and also stay healthy.

    A huge congratulations on your persistence and your results. I am mulling over your phrase “a new palette.” When I began a consistent Bikram yoga practice approximately 7 years ago, my palette changed. My body craved healthy food.

    I appreciate you sharing these posts. It is never too late to incorporate healthy habits.💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Erica/Erika. I agree, it is never too late and so important. I am glad that you feel the posts are relatable, that is my goal for every sermon too. I always hope that what I say makes sense to the hearers and helps them relate to the stories, and of course more. But sharing t his story in “excruciating and confessional detail” it is certainly my hope that it will help people who may struggle. Although I haven’t determined how exactly I want to do this, I am hoping to apply the determination and energy into reforming other areas of my life (Probably organization). Great to see you here, thank you for taking the time to read and share part of your story and not just comment. Blessings for the day, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I like how you say that previously you focused on losing not learning. Both words start with the same letter but are very different indeed. Congratulations on your loss & congratulations on doing it so mindfully. I’m on a similar journey – and am also doing it by way of a budget, so to speak, and how to get the biggest taste for the smallest calorie bang.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And taste is the key, isn’t it? Still learning to savor my food instead of shoveling it in, eating mindfully and not mindlessly. Glad to connect with you here and on your blog. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my latest “cookie” story. Best and blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Michele, thanks for sharing your weight loss journey so openly. What I get from this, although I’ve never had a struggle with my weight, is that it’s so easy to slip back into old, sugary habits. After almost completely eliminating bread, bad fats, and refined sugar last year, I find myself now eating toast and cake and biscuits regularly. I’m going to try and get back into fresh fruit (which can be as sweet as sugar!) and vegetables and stay away from bread and other products containing wheat (apparently it’s an inflammatory food which isn’t good for things like arthritis etc.).

    Not having a weight problem doesn’t mean that us ‘skinny’ people are healthy. We also make bad choices and eat sweet sticky puddings and sweets when we should be eating fresh fruit and vegetables. Let’s try and be healthy together, regardless of what the scales tell us our ‘number’ is for the day/week. All the best in your continuing journey. x

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  6. Thank you Cheryl! It is good for me to hear about healthy eating issues from different perspectives. I still have a lot to learn. I am excited about tasting the natural sweetness in oranges and finding it enough, in savoring the deliciousness of different foods that I believe we’re masked by the sweetness of cookies and cake. I will have to revert to more veggies this summer, because I don’t care for most of the summer fruit. I am going for a compromise with grains, going for home made bread but limiting the amount. It is a journey to be sure. Blessings, Michele

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  7. Congratulations, Michele, on achieving your weight goal and staying the course despite the ups and downs or plateaus. You’ll knock off the last 2 lbs. I used to volunteer in hospitals and my experience there is my reminder to always take good care of my health. Thank you for sharing your journey. #WeekendCoffeeShare

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Natalie. In my case at least slow and steady has proven really helpful. I think it has given me time to process the learning and cement it in my brain. Writing about it and trying not to sugarcoat the experience, hopefully has given hope and encouragement to others. I certainly have benefited from the encouragement of the blogging community and so many of the original group I began to follow, yourself included are oriented to healthful living and I know that has had a positive impact in my life. Thanks for all the work you do in hosting the weekendcoffeeshare. Best and blessings, Michele

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  8. Well done Michele for both the losing and the learning, and then sharing with us. We all need a reminder of how we fluctuate but you have persevered and the rewards are there for you. Thanks for your honesty as well! #weekendcoffeeshare

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Debbie, I feel good and like how I look. My hope in writing these is that they provide hope and encouragement to others. I don’t know if they have gone any farther than the original readers, though I have been followed by a handful of weight loss folks, keto, etc. But I have continued to be intentional about not naming the program but focusing on personal experience. As always thank you for taking the time to read and comment #Weekendcoffeeshare Best and blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Michelle, congratulations and thank you for sharing your experience. Changing behaviors isn’t easy, and tough choices have to be made every day. Some are easy for me (sweets) and some are harder (wine). If I don’t weigh every day, my mind tricks me into thinking I can splurge, and keep on splurging for several days or even a few weeks. That never works out well for me and I end up feeling guilty and 5 to 8 pounds above my goal weight. That’s where I am right now, so I really needed this today. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. My hope in writing this, because it is pretty confessional, is that it keeps me accountable, but also that it helps and encourages others. I plan to keep learning and adjusting. But I am with you, I weigh in every day possible. Two instate vacations coming up and I am taking my scale, Henrietta, on vacation with me. It is the only way I will know how I am doing. Especially when I have to rely on restaurant food. Be kind to yourself, you can do this! Best and blessings, Michele

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  10. You are doing a hard thing Michelle, but your approach sounds rational and reasonable. But many of us know about the discouragements that come along any such path. I think you have a handle on those too. Blessings and thanks for sharing an encouraging note for the rest of us on similar paths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gary, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I was thinking about this today, this journey began 10 months ago! On another note, I read as much as I can on any given Link Party and try for at least 8. I tried, but could not figure out which post on the Weekend Coffee Share might be yours, so I know that I missed it. If you tell me what it is, I should be able to go back and read it. Going to try to do some reading the next few days but for the next several days I will not have access to wifi, so no posts and no reading.

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      1. Hi Michelle. Your posts to the coffee share are among those I always look for and yes, it’s hard to pick out those you don’t want to miss. Your time is also valuable so any visit back is equally welcomed. In case it helps, I now always mouse-over each box and wait for the URL to pop-up. I’m starting to recognize those I want to read and this makes it easier but still is tough. I used to just read them all, but Natalie has so increased the attendees that I simply don’t have the time to read and respond to so many. I don’t presume that anyone will have time or interest in reading mine but if you still would like to, mine is @ https://garyawilsonstories.wordpress.com/coffee-share-210416-aphid-carnage/
        It was a busy weekend here and I fell way behind in my own coffee share followup.
        Hope all is well.
        Blessings.

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  11. Great job on the hard work. It can sure be frustrating but the reward is worth it. Since 2015 I’ve lost 30 pounds, then put back on 7 but working at getting that back off and continuing to go down. Peri-menopause is getting in the way a bit but I’m determined to not let it…lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kristin, and good for you, determination is one of the keys that helped me. Sometimes in my eagerness I read comments on my phone, but it is much easier to respond here on my computer. Thanks very much for taking the time to read and comment. Blessings, Michele

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  12. Hi Michele,
    I am late to comment via Natalie’s link up because I thought you may have linked to Life this week…lol. No worries. I so identified with lots here. However, I need to say now that I am stripping food of its emotional language. It’s only taken a diagnosis of cancer to get to this…which is saying something. No, it’s because as many of us know dividing foods up, and all that stuff takes away the simple and singular pleasure of perhaps just one bite. Mind you, I also believe in doing whatever works for you!!

    Love the title of this post too.

    Denyse #weekendcoffeeshare

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Denyse, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. “Stronger Than the Cookie” came from my daughter, and it has been a true and useful phrase. The only reason I didn’t like this with “Life this Week” is because it is part of a series, so I wasn’t sure it would be okay. I have written about one a month or six weeks. Weight loss is often slow, I have one more pound to my goal. Then my hope is, as I mentioned in the post, to write updates about how my maintenance is going. I have been very intentional about not naming a specific plan nd just sharing my experience, in the hopes that it would be more helpful. I am trying to make very intentional choices about what I eat, especially toward savoring and not inhaling. I know that I can eat anything I Want and measure a nd calorie count, but I choose to leave that luscious chocolate cake in my past and treat it like an ex-boyfriend who never was very good for me anyway. On the other hand, in maintenance I will use real maple syrup, but as something to dip into as opposed to drench. It is more expensive and it has more calories than most of the store bought syrups here in the US. But I live in an area where there are many maple syrup producers. To me, the flavor is much better and the added benefit of no preservatives. It is not something I normally have every week, so I think it will work. Time will tell. Sorry this is so long. I would love to hear more about two things you mention, Stripping food of its emotional language and dividing foods up. Can you say more about what you mean? Speaking of cookies, I learned last year that my birthday is on Anzac Day. I was going to make some Anzac Biscuits but I won’t be at home. I will try to do it in early May then, in honor of the many ANZ blogging friends who have become such a great part of my life. I want to try to find golden syrup locally rather than order it. The recipe only calls for 1 tblsp, Can you suggest other uses for golden syrup? Thanks again. See you at Life This Week in a week or two. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh Michele, never be reluctant to link up. My only thing is “not a blog link up of someones.” My history with eating is that when we assign a descriptor like, “good” “bad” “indulgent” etc to food we immediately go into a guilt-like trip…. I know this because for many decades I was/can still be an emotional eater. Books that helped me see this is called Mindful Eating by Jan Chozen Bays MD. There was a book I read fore that called Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink PhD. What I now do, post mouth reconstruction is eat from a range of foods I can actually eat…and “I” assign them as ones which are nutritionally good for me (healing me) and ones that I also enjoy for texture, taste and using my senses, and some are in between. Yes, that might be a labelling of sorts but it is not a great DIVIDE of either or. I learned sooooo much as someone who firstly got IBS ( needing the toilet after every and any meal) and then via my cancer diagnosis. I now look at food though with changed lenses. One is that “can I eat that much?” stomach and mouth capacity and ability and the other “do I really want this now, or is it the sensation?” In terms of cravings, and they could really challenge me, the book Craving Mind by Dr Jud Brewer was an eye-opener. I know treat a craving as a feeling…and let it pass. It always does, like the clouds in the sky. Hope that helps. Why don’t we have convo vias email. More than happy to do that. As for maple syrup, what a good Idea. I tend not to have it much but I see why you would. Oh dear golden syrup. I do not think there is a substitute so yes, you would have to buy it. However, it lasts and lasts (maybe refrigerate in between times, and see if you get one with a long date) and make ANZAC biscuits more often for yourself and friends. They have quite a range of foods that are helpful in them as well! Denyse

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    1. Thank you Corinne. I am essentially at my goal weight now, 145.2 Waiting for that silly .2 to leave into .0 or a shade less. I take nothing for granted. Thank you and blessings to you. Grace in the struggle. Michele

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