Towards relaxed eating – part 1

I promised to explain why I do not or count calories or weigh myself, even though that should be an “obvious thing” to do.

Seven years ago I lost 28 pounds with Weight Watchers and reached my goal of size 6 (36). I succeeded in maintaining most of my weight loss for a few years, but when I got a demanding new job in 2006, I started putting on pounds again.

A year and a half ago I was tired of being overweight and unhappy with my shape, so I had another go at weight loss. I read a book written by a Finnish nutritional researcher (“Relaxed weight loss”) Patrik Borg. According to Borg, it should be possible to lose weight without counting calories, “simply” by following a healthy diet and paying attention to your body’s signals of hunger. Borg’s ideas appealed to me, so I decided to give them a try.

I started tracking my eating with a web-based program Borg helped design. The program helps users track quality of diet with a kind of traffic light system. There are four balls who each measure some aspect of your diet. One ball represents the amount of fruits and veggies, the second ball the amount and quality of fats and proteins in your diet, the third one the amount of “junk” and the fourth the amount of fibers. (The service also displays your daily calorie consumption, and the distribution of fats, carbs and proteins.)  The goal is of course to get all the balls green most of the time.

quality of nutrition traffic lights

I was definitely in for a surprise when I started to track my diet. I thought my diet was pretty clean (according to weight watchers standards I probably was), but I actually got too little calories, way too little fat (min 25%), and too little proteins (min 15%). I probably got too little fibers too, if I remember correctly.

Even more interesting is what happened when I made changes to my diet. After few weeks with the new diet, I suddenly noticed that I had had no urges to buy my daily dose of sweets, and I never felt any hunger pangs or cravings (quite different from the Weight Watchers diet). I could literally feel fat melt away and my clothes were getting looser, but numbers on the scale did not budge.


There was a snake in the paradise though. I had to make big changes to my eating habits to achieve the four green balls. I was practically thinking about my diet all the time. The second downside was that I was getting a bit obsessed with the balls, I felt guilty if my balls weren’t green all the time (and I was not the only one). Not good.

I was thrilled that my fat was melting away, but I did not and do not want eating to dominate my life. I want permanent weight loss AND a normal relationship to food and eating!

little girl eats water melon with gusto

This little girl has it right!

To make a long story short: I did not reach my goal weight then and today I’m still overweight.  I actually put on more weight, because I sprained my ankle and couldn’t exercise for a long time.  Later on, I got pretty badly depressed and started having problems with my left knee. No exercise, lots of sweets and pouting at home!


At the moment I’m a bit uncertain about what to do. I know that if I started tracking my diet again, I would lose fat much faster and might even reach my goal for the 101 Days of Summer Fitness Challenge. Also, the learning curve would not be that steep this time, because I have kept many of the changes I made to my eating habits 18 months ago. But I’m still afraid I start obsessing about the green balls.

If I start tracking again, this time my challenge will be to learn to keep my perfectionism in check!


My collection of home fitness equipment

Over the years, I have collected all sorts of home fitness equipment. Just a moment ago I gathered almost all of my equipment into one heap and took a picture of them. Oops, I forgot to add  my fitness dvds and books!

  • Here is my list:
  • a yoga mat
  • a stability ball
  • pilates ball (the small red ball),
  • 2 sets of hand weights
  • 2 elastic bands of differing strengths
  • 2 yoga blocks
  • 1 yoga belt (handy for stretching)
  • 2 kettlebells
  • one weighted ball (1 kg = 2 pounds)
  • 1 dyna disc
  • 1 balance board (not in the picture)
  • a pair of push up handles
  • pair of ankle weights and
  • 2 tennis balls


    I also have a pilates ring – the kind of ring you can  squeeze between legs – but it is somewhere collecting dust. I also had a gymstick, but I borrowed it to my friend and haven’t seen it since.


    My favorite piece of fitness equipment has been a broomstick I use for exercising and stretching my upper body. After the broomstick come the elastic bands and hand weights.

    I had to buy a basket for small pieces of equipment because  I used to trip over my stuff.  I doubt whether my insurance covers accidents that are caused by exercise equipment lying around my apartment.  Based on my personal experience, exercise pants with too long legs are the most dangerous thing of all.  Because I’m 5ft 1in, all pants tend to be too long for me (and I tend to be lazy to shorten them!).


    As a rule I can say that the cheaper the piece of equipment, the handier it seems to be! At the moment I do not own any big pieces of home exercise equipment like stationary bikes or elliptical devices. but if I had to pick one, I would probably get a Concept2 rowing machine I have used in gym- the kind that works with air pressure.

    Wait, I forgot to mention my nordic walking poles… Nordic walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise, too bad that my left knee does not allow me to take as many walks I would like to.


    What do you want to be able to do at age 50?

    At age 50, I want to be able to swim like a seal, dance salsa 2 hours a night (if I feel like it!) and sleep like a baby. man diving into water

    At the moment I cannot salsa, swim like a seal (I do swim, but more like a cat in a panic attack) and rarely sleep like a baby.

    Now that I have rediscovered my body thanks to Feldenkrais Method,  I’m curious to find out what my body can do if I put in the effort.


    I want to elaborate on my long term goals and explain why I chose these goals instead of something else.

    • I want to be able to swim really well, immerse myself completely into water, and also be able to dive into water head first. I chose this goal because I remember how enjoyable it was as a child to swim and play in water. I really miss that. For some reason I never learned to dive into water head first like many people do. Well, there is no reason why I could not learn better swimming technique.
    • I want to be able to do push ups (well, 20 push ups!) with a straight body. I used to do some ashtanga yoga, and I remember how frustrating it was to watch other people do proper push ups (chaturangas) when I could not.  NOTE: At the moment I’m barely able to bend my elbows and lower my body a couple of inhces, when I’m doing push ups on my knees. I guess I have some way to go . 🙂
    • I would like to be able to dance salsa, because it looks fun and I believe I would enjoy it. I used to dance (ballet, modern dance) pretty seriously in my late teens and early twenties’, so learning to salsa should not be too hard.
    • I tried kettlebells last summer and I really liked them, but the problems in my left knee and hip (patello femoral pain syndrome) prevented me from continuing with them. Training with kettlebells is fun and intensive, quite different from boring gym routines.  Since then I discovered an even cooler form of exercise – clubbells.  I just add them to my list of things to take on when I’m ready. 🙂


    With these long term goals ahead me, I have a a lot work to do. First I have to figure out how to fix my knee and strengthen my body generally.

    I expect my sleeping problems to take care of themselves when I’m at the stage where I’m hurling clubbells overhead as a matter of fact.


    101 Days of Summer: second week wrap-up

    My second week has been ok. I have exercised and done 4 Feldenkrais lessons. I have even eaten sensibly and moderately, and I certainly feel a little bit lighter.

    • knee strengthening program x2
    • 30 min walk
    • 45 min joint mobility drill
    • 4 x Feldenkrais lesson

    The only problem is that I only did my knee rehabilitation program 2 times instead of three.  For some reason the pain in my left knee was aggravated, and I did not want to make it worse. Now I wonder what caused the pain and what movements I should do differently or perhaps leave out. Bloody knee! If I did not have this knee problem, I could do whatever I wanted for exercise!

    I also prepared my first new dish. I had chosen Biz’ Best Buffalo Chicken Chili to experiment with, and it was a good choice, because it was very easy to prepare. The chili is delicious and very filling,  it must be all the beans. I have enough chili to last for the next 3 days. 🙂A bowl of Best Buffalo Chicken Chili

    I think I’m going to prepare the chili for my parents when I go home on vacation. My father is going to love it, because he loves hot and spicy foods.


    I wonder if the weight loss strategy I have chosen will be successful. I haven’t  bothered counting calories or even kept a food diary, and that might become a problem in future, when I have other things to think about. Hmm.

    Next week I will be attending  a conference for a couple of days. I have no idea what kind of food the conference venue is going to serve, maybe I should think of some kind of contingency plan before that.


    Takeoff video for the 101 Days of Summer Fitness Challenge

    Below is my starting video for the 101 Days of Summer Challenge. Take a note of my double chin and flabby underarms.

    I don’t actually know how much I weigh at the moment (even though I can guess) and I’m not going to start weighing myself now. That is mainly because I do not want to get obsessed with scales. (I’ll write about that later).

    Size 6 is my final goal and I think I need to lose 20-25 pounds of fat to reach that size.

    My goal pants  are an old pair of size 8 (38) jeans. If they fit me comfortably when the challenge is over, I have reached my goal!