This is an illustration of cookies and candy with text that reads: "The Weight Loss Minefield: Christmas, Mardi Gras, Valentine's and Girl Scout Cookies! Straight Talk."
Category: Health and Wellness

The Weight Loss Minefield: Christmas, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and Girl Scout Cookies!

It’s been a while since I caught you up on my efforts to improve my health! In case you’re new to this party, you can see where I started, my 10 steps for staying on track and how I tackled the holidays.

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is
As a reminder, I’m a 56 year old man and a shade over six feet tall. On August 13, 2017, I weighed 300.5 lbs. Something about that number really broke the camel’s back for me, and I made a firm commitment to fix it.

Between August and late November, with the help of a diabetes prevention program offered through my employer’s wellness plan, I shed more than 30 lbs. That’s more than 10% of my body weight!

Knowing how hard it is to keep weight off during the holidays and how hard my body would fight to gain that weight back, I figured maintaining my loss between Thanksgiving and Christmas would be a worthy goal. So, how’d it go?

Well, Thanksgiving week was a HUGE success. I actually lost two more pounds, hitting my all-time low (so far!) of 266.5 lbs.

During December, I traveled a bit and injured my back. It was minor, but it really messed up my exercise regimen in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Even with a few setbacks, I managed to get to New Year’s under 270 lbs., still holding on to that 10% body weight loss.

New Year, New Me?
Then 2018 rolled around. I had big plans to start losing again: via exercise, vegetables and a renewed vigor for my golf game. Of course, there were a ton of obstacles like freezing weather, missed work, Valentine’s Day dinners and Mardi Gras, but I was optimistic. Even without a ton of exercise, and a loss of some culinary discipline, my weight was holding steady.

Right after Valentine’s Day, I drew a new line in the sand! Feeling no soreness or back pain, I’m back on the treadmill every morning right when I jump out of bed. My youngest brother called me out of the blue to start playing golf with him. I was able to regain my determination to start packing my lunch and renew other points of my Weight Loss Top 10 and get going again. I had picked up a few bad habits along the way, but I’m shedding them again and moving forward.

But I gotta tell you, the biggest challenges today revolve around a couple of big temptations.

This is a picture of a Girl Scouts Smores cookie.Temptation, Thy Name Is Girl Scout Cookie
First, I discovered a seasonal coffee blend for Mardi Gras that is amazing! I want it every morning when I wake up. And it DOESN’T come in decaf! After just a week of drinking this delightful beverage, my blood pressure was up 10 points! Caffeine can have a dramatic effect on your blood pressure. I take my blood pressure reading every night at the same time, so this jump quickly stood out. I cut back on that (really good!) coffee and moved back to decaf, and my blood pressure returned to normal.

Second, GIRL SCOUT COOKIES! I’ve been a huge supporter of scouting my entire life. Both of my daughters (now in their 20s) sold cookies each year. We always end up with 10 boxes or so in the house during the season. But this year, THIS YEAR, those insidious cookie designers actually must have been plotting to undo my efforts, because they designed the PERFECT Mike Bertaut cookie.

It seems so simple on its face: a plain and lowly graham cracker, not really causing any dietary chaos on its own. But then, they slather it with a vanilla cream that tastes exactly like a melted marshmallow and bury the entire thing in chocolate, creating a room temperature version of a s’more. Help me!

Yeah, I bought some boxes. Yeah, I ate some boxes. Yeah, I ENJOYED them! Yeah, I dunked them in milk, too (skim milk, at least!) and relished every bite. So good! Doesn’t it even sound good to say? MMMmmm…

OK, so as of three days ago, the cookies are all gone (don’t you DARE offer me more!). I’ve been pounding the treadmill and pushing the veggies and healthy meat ever since. This morning my scale is starting to move south again, finally!

This is a picture of a weight loss plot graph that shows weight totals that have dropped from August to November with brief spikes in November and December, and a slight rise in January. The total reads "270.2 pounds" on Monday, February 26.Back in the Saddle
I am determined not to give up. I’m on a LOOOONNNGGG plateau. My weight has basically held steady for more than three months. That’s the bad news. The good news is, this new plateau is more than 30 pounds lower than where I started, and when I reimposed the discipline of my original program, my weight has started trending down again! That’s GREAT news!

So, off we go into 2018! I’m putting the Top 10 back into action:

  • watching the scale every day,
  • wearing my fitness tracker 24/7,
  • hitting my step goals,
  • paying SPECIAL attention to the quality of my sleep, and
  • giving up soda and caffeine again.

I’ve also started logging all my meals through my Omada app and holding myself accountable. No fun, but absolutely necessary.

Remember, half of the food in your favorite grocery store is empty calories. Half. That was a tough lesson for me to learn, let’s not unlearn it now, right? Right!

Straight Talk is I’m back on track. Join me!

5 comments on “The Weight Loss Minefield: Christmas, Mardi Gras, Valentine’s Day and Girl Scout Cookies!

  1. Donna Duhon

    Keep up the optimism of not giving up. I am on the same roller coaster and I am determined to try harder. Those Girl Scout cookies do me in every year! LOL

  2. Melissa Hymel

    I am anxiously awaiting the day Louisiana Blue starts treating its obese population with dignity and respect. A morbidly obese individual should have the right and coverage afforded to all members in all size Blue programs. Small Blue groups deny gastric surgery to its members while those in larger (over 20 members) groups have full medical coverage. When will Louisiana Blue Cross fight for the rights of ALL its members? Shouldn’t we all have the option of doctor recommended weight loss surgeries to better improve our health?

    • Michael Bertaut

      Thanks so much for your comments on this topic. Obesity and the way we treat it are a very near thing to my heart, as I have struggled with my weight my entire life.

      The topic of weight-loss surgeries has been intensely studied here for at least the last 10 years, and that study is an ongoing project for us. Our decision making about covering such surgery is not so much about “rights” or “dignity” but more about the science and outcomes associated with the surgery. We have participated in three significant pilot programs over the last few years and the results there have led us to a few important decisions about weight-loss surgery in all its forms.

      I want to point out up front that all BCBSLA plans cover a wide range of non-surgical options that have been VERY successful at helping motivated folks to lose weight and improve their lifestyle (including me!), so we certainly consider these proven treatments dignified and respectful. And your comment about us covering the surgery in large groups but not small groups is incorrect.

      First, large companies who pay their own healthcare claims (self-funded plans) always have the option of offering weight-loss surgery to their members and we certainly will support that service if they decide to do so. At this time, only a handful of these companies are covering weight-loss surgery. They are, of course, paying for it with their own funds, not BCBSLA funds.

      A few years ago, we created an option for Large companies that we insure to add weight-loss surgery to their employee coverage for an additional fee per employee. We are responsible for paying the healthcare claims of these companies. No companies in Louisiana have taken us up on that offer as of this writing. That of course, is a company-by-company decision.

      Finally, due to the high complication rates we observed in our own pilot programs coupled with the high cost of the procedures themselves we currently do not cover such surgeries for individual and group members that we insure. We found the 1 year complication rates especially to be unacceptably high.

      Rest assured we are continuing to monitor surgical outcomes and costs and will continue our evaluations going forward. We will also continue to offer many different non-surgical ways to help our members lose weight and improve their lives. And the rights, dignity, and respect of my family and friends is foremost in my mind at all times.

      Thanks so much for your question!….


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