Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Surfin' USA

This weekend some friends who live near San Francisco are getting married on the beach (Stinson Beach, to be exact). I am really excited to see them and to be at their wedding but I also really excited about spending the weekend on the beach in California. This is monumental for so many reasons.

First of all, a bit about the area. I understand that there are hiking trails there, that the weather is supposed to be gorgeous, and that there are many surfing towns in the area. I am excited about all three of these and that really represents how much progress at this whole activity and lifestyle change thing. Before when I lived a more sedentary lifestyle, I would have dreaded getting in an airplane (and wondering whether I would have to use a dreaded belt extender) in the first place. Also, I would have anticipated that everyone else would want to go hiking while I would either get super-winded while they hiked slowly (accommodating me) or I would have found an excuse to bail altogether. Basically, my poor decisions about lifestyle choices would have led me to a less active, less rewarding life and would have helped to isolate me from my friends (many of whom I haven't seen in 3ish years). No longer.

Instead of sitting on the sidelines, I am signing up for surf lessons. I also can't wait to go hiking on the beach. I will get in the Pacific Ocean for the first time (I have seen it but never been in). I am so stoked for all of it.

I am sure I will probably not be great at surfing. For one thing, I am not that athletic. I am strong and powerful, but not really agile or graceful. I have been working on my balance a lot, but still can't master that freaking Bosu ball -- I am sure that a surfboard in the ocean will be tougher than a Bosu ball on dry land. However, I DON'T CARE and am going for broke with these surf lessons. Even had I been in shape before, I would not really have been willing to get in a spandex wetsuit (OMG). It's not that I'm excited about the spandex now or anything, but I will not let that stop me from trying this new thing. Surfing, here I come. Who knows, maybe I will love this as much as I love kayaking (a whole lot). Let's hope I like it more than yoga (which I DESPISE).

Either way, my weight and inactivity is not stopping me from trying new things anymore, and I am so stoked about that.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lowest yet!

Despite my bingeing this weekend, I am at my lowest yet: 256.4! I am really pushing toward 249.4 because that means I will have reached the 50 lb mark. I need consistency in following the plan; I have really sucked at that lately but am happy to have some extrinsic motivation to push me forward.

Monday, September 28, 2009


This morning I did not go to spin class. I slept in until 7 instead.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Emotion and Food

I have had a really dysfunctional relationship with food for a long time. I don't want to go into the issues I had when I was a kid with food, but the main point was that I derived power from food. When I ate extra food, I felt "I am in control" and "I deserve this". I really wish now that I had been able to derive this power from somewhere else, or from a strong self esteem. I suffered with really really bad issues with self esteem when I was as young as 4-6 years old (they were not weight related). In fact, I remember this one time at church when the pastor was talking about someone who he thought dealt with feelings of very strong feelings of self-loathing and so on and I knew for a fact he was talking about me. I refused to acknowledge this in public though. I have always been too stubborn and proud for that. In times of privacy, though, I would just eat and I didn't have to think too much about it. I just knew that eating made me feel better. Some of the stuff was delicious (e.g., homemade baked goods) and some really was just to eat (e.g., eating cans of spaghetti sauce). Eating helped me to feel good in the moment.

Earlier in my adulthood I made one major attempt at losing weight. I was pretty successful and lost 60 lbs. I did it the healthy way, eating foods that were good for me in moderation. I thought I had successfully redefined my relationship with food. Then my grandma -- who I called Mema -- began to die.

Mercifully, the end came pretty quickly. I spent about 1.5 weeks with my mom and her in the inpatient hospice. I really remember this one day when I just snapped. I went to the gas station near the hospital and bought a bag of Ruffles, a tub of french onion dip, and a 2L of Diet Coke. I ate the whole thing all by myself in one sitting. It did help to numb the pain a bit. Then I went to Walmart and got a huge bag of Hershey's hugs and ate the whole thing. This type of total death spiral continued the entire time I was at the hospice. It was awful (mostly watching Mema slip further, but the food part was awful too). By the end of our time at hospice, I was worried that my pants would not zip. Mercifully they did, but barely.

Mema died at the end of January and I never did lose the weight I gained in hospice back. In the following year, I finished my PhD, flew all over the place trying to land a job, stopped exercising, and gained back most of the weight. I then moved to Arkansas, felt lonely, eventually sunk into a really deep depression, and then finally gained back all of the weight I had lost and then an extra 10 lbs. Great.

When I lost weight the first time, I did all the right things -- I had eaten healthily, not gone on a grapefruit diet or some other unsustainable crash diet. I got rid of all my fat clothes; Dr. Phil said this would make it tough to gain the weight back (no -- it was easy, but was expensive to re-buy clothes). It just made me feel like a total loser to realize that food still controlled me, and that I was not in control of the food like I thought.

I wonder what is to prevent this all from happening again? I really do feel better when I am living a healthy lifestyle. I feel like my body is a tool that is working on my behalf rather than something holding me back from really living. I feel strong and alive and like I can do whatever I want -- hike, swim, run, and just drink in life. Why would I want to trade this freedom for Hershey's hugs or chips and dip?

I don't know. But I didn't want to last time either, and I did. Does anyone have any insights here? I really am feeling down today, and binged just like old times. I will dust myself off tonight in time for spin class at 6:30 AM tomorrow, but figuring this issue out is something that will be critical to my long-term success. This is a nut I need to crack -- and soon. I really hate it when I feel like a loser.

Routine and Habits

This weekend has been abysmal as far as food and eating are concerned. I have overeaten for sure but, other than the lunch out I ate yesterday, I have only eaten things around the house. If there is any sort of a silver lining, it is that I really don't keep that much unhealthy food here. It's just not something that will lead to success for me. Goodness knows I am having a tough enough time without that extra layer of temptation! I will confess to eating almost a block and a half of cheese so far today. Sure it is low fat and high in calcium, but there is no way that is a healthy portion size!

I guess I am realizing that part of the key to success for me is routine and habit. For example I wouldn't really think of skipping water aerobics or missing a session with my trainer or of the spin class I attend unless I were really sick, out of town for work, or there was a very special occasion (e.g., guest in town or show at WAC). It just feels weird to go without these things now. They are habits and a part of my routine.

Food, however, is an area in which I still struggle with -- a lot. I feel like sometimes my desire for food just overwhelms me and I struggle to remember at times that I can control the food I eat, not vice versa. It gets me to wondering if I need to find some healthy habits and routines around food, but I am not sure what that would look like. For example, would I only eat out one day a week? Would I always eat at the same time? Would I consistently allot a certain number of points for each meal?

My initial gut reaction is "that is so ridiculous -- habits around food are not reasonable!", for a number of reasons. For example, eating is often a social/political thing. I feel there is lots of social capital that gets exchanged when I go to lunch with my colleagues. I learn a lot of the department scuttlebut at lunches -- some of it is gossipy and could legitimately be avoided, but much of it is just "situational awareness" stuff that I would not hear about other places. For that reason alone, structuring my lunch too much seems to be a losing idea. Also, I am really busy. I usually don't get home until 7 PM at the earliest because of water aerobics. Some days it is later because of errands I need to run after I go to the gym. This means that constraining the what, when, and how of dinner would need to be done carefully and would be very difficult. I can easily see adding food-related habits or routines to breakfast but for the most part I am already doing that and rarely have a problem with my eating at breakfast.

So, while habits seem like a great idea to me (takes the emotion, guesswork, and uncertainty out of eating), I also see several potential big downsides. In particular, the habits would need to be carefully constructed and flexible enough to allow for me to not feel smothered by the restrictions, to not make me feel like I am setting myself for failure, to not limit food-related social interactions, and so on. Ideally, it would still allow me to enjoy food as well.

Though I struggle with putting this into words (and I still don't think I am adequately expressing what it is that I mean), part of me wonders if enjoyment of food a right or a privilege? That is to say -- I know that the main purpose of food is to fuel my body, but shouldn't I be allowed to enjoy what I eat? That doesn't mean eating 5 c of fetucinni alfredo with white pasta and no vegetables -- but it does mean eating foods that are both flavorful and healthy, and that are a part of a balanced diet. I don't feel I need to eat cardboard tasting fiber crackers and so on to lose weight. I also am at this point unwilling to give up occasional indulgences of foods that I enjoy. For me, the habits I would set up would need to allow such treats but not allow me to overdo it.

Part of me wonders if my resistance to setting up healthy eating habits is just an excuse. I know I would have made excuses at first about the exercise, but now I enjoy it. I wonder if the same isn't true about food. I enjoy WW when I do it, but I really enjoy overdoing it on the food in the moment. The difference is that I am proud of doing WW all the time, and the nice feeling that comes when you overeat is temporary. Even worse, a cloud of guilt hangs over you afterward. It is not a winning long-term solution.

Do any of you have healthy eating habits? I have healthy eating tendencies and healthy eating instincts now, but calling them habits is really too generous at this point. I am really curious what you all think (if there are any of you out there...)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Restaurant Minefield

Skipped breakfast. Went out to lunch. WW balance for the day, -3 points. Ooops. I guess I overdid it a little and will have to work out today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to the Grind and to WW - update

Now that I am back into my WW groove, I thought I would give you an update. First, let me start with the end: the results. I am already down this week. I know it’s not encouraged (in fact it is discouraged) by WW to weigh yourself on days other than weigh-in days. I do it anyway though. I have to say that my starting the plan again is getting me good results and I am grateful.

Sticking to the plan has been non-trivial. In particular, I am now allotted 31 points daily to eat but have actually eaten 48 and 46 the last two days respectively. I make up a lot of these points by exercising and earning activity points. I am still seeing results and staying within my overall points limits (considering weekly points as well as activity points), so I am not beating myself up over it. In the future though, I hope to stick more closely to my daily points limit.

This underscores to me that I do need some sort of a structure or plan. Left to my own devices, I probably would not be great at estimating how much food I need or where I should place limits on how much to eat. I will master this somehow, whether it is lifelong adherence to WW or whether it is figuring out some healthy balance for myself in time. The last couple weeks I have gained four pounds, which underscores the difficulty I would have doing this completely on my own. I have embraced the idea that this weight loss thing is a marathon/lifestyle choice, though, not a sprint/quick fix diet solution. I will rebound from the "bad" last few weeks.

I should point out that at one point, my goal was to lose 50 lbs by the first day of fall (September 21). That totally didn’t happen, and actually I am ok with it. I will get there when I get there. When I get there, I want to be there to stay.

I do have a victory to share. I am no longer morbidly obese! I am now just obese…not the greatest victory and a somewhat arbitrary one, but I will take it. This girl loves encouragement to keep going!

This weekend here is Bikes, Blues, and BBQ. You can imagine that the food here is amazingly delicious, but much (most?) of it is incredibly unhealthy (e.g., funnel cake). I am staying away from the food aspect of BB&BBQ. I can consider that a victory as well. That totally would not have been the case in the past.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Out of points

It is 4:33 and I am out of Weight Watchers points already. Not only that, but I have dug into my weekly points and used 7 already (first day of the week). I guess I suck at WW now. I will get my game back on. Maybe I need to start packing lunches with fixed portion sizes. I think that could help.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Back to the Grind and to WW

Now that I will be in town again, I am going to have to get back on to WW. Being able to cook for myself and get into my routine will be great. For example, I did not exercise today or yesterday. I might work out tonight, but I kind of doubt it given that I won’t get home until 9:30, couldn’t get to the gym until 10, and then have an appointment at the gym at 7 AM. I would not really think of not exercising at home! I also ate moderately healthy at best, but more realistically not that great over the last couple days. I did seek out some fruits and veggies, and have had some Fiber One bars. However, this morning I had a big chunk of Gouda cheese, a bagel and cream cheese, a chicken salad sandwich and tomato soup for lunch, and cashews. I bet I’ve had a total of 5 grams of fiber today (RDA is about 35 g) and am out of Fiber One bars.

I’m realizing what a huge role fiber plays in how full or hungry I feel. Also it keeps things moving through your system, contains undigested calories, and can absorb fat and cholesterol and get them out of your system. I really plan to start making a more concerted effort to get fiber, though I probably get more than the average person because of all the fruits and veggies I eat. Read the F-Factor Diet for more info about fiber. You don’t have to look at as a diet (though you can and I really bet it would be effective) l there are concepts you can use immediately in your own eating even if you don’t commit fully to their “diet”. I plan to do this in conjunction with WW (though, to be fair, WW naturally incentivizes high fiber diets).

Anyway I am going to get back to work on losing weight this week. I am afraid to step on the scale tomorrow (it won’t be pretty), but I will do it. It is important to track things. Back on WW. Time to take control of my decisions again and not give myself a cheap out anymore (“Oh, but I’m on vacation – this will be fine to eat…”).

Portion sizes and a Nation of Fatties

First of all let me preface this by saying I take responsibility for my weight. You don’t get to be nearly 300 lbs without consistently overeating primarily unhealthy foods. There is no covering up that fact, and the reality is that I put each and every one of those fat and sugar-laden calories in my body myself. These were poor decisions that were my fault. I get that.

However this post is a huge vent about environmental factors that contribute to a culture of overeating and obesity. Here is a small anecdote to illustrate. I am currently at the airport and was starting to get hungry. I decided to get a snack. Obviously this is a minefield if you’re not careful in an airport or gas station. Fortunately they did not have any Combos which are historically one of my favorite junk foods when traveling. As I was checking over the different options, of course I was looking over the nutritional information for each of the choices I considered. This is where the vent comes in.

One of the things I noticed was a huge bag of Mini Oreos. There were similarly sized bags of other Nabisco products (Chips Ahoy, Cheez Its, etc.). This bag was labeled a “Snak Pak”. The Snak Pack in question had 8 130 calorie servings. Now seriously, let’s dissect this. I think spending 130 calories on a snack is reasonable. However, there is absolutely no way that you can have eight servings and consider it a snack. I think that to expect consumers to eat 1/8th of the bag is completely unreasonable – especially if the entire bag is labeled as a snack (and, at least to me, the implication is that it was a single snack, not eight different snacks). On the other hand suppose you ate the whole thing. That would be 1040 calories!!! Now a 1000+ calorie snack is just completely unreasonable – at that point it becomes a meal, and eating a meal consisting only of Mini Oreos is just a bad idea. Let’s get real: calling this bag of Oreos a Snak Pak is bad naming at best and very deceptive at worst (tricking people to think that 1000+ calories is actually a snack vs. enough calories to be a large to extra large meal). Also, what's with having the Oreos be mini? I feel like it is another deceptive step by food manufacturers, but maybe I am being a conspiracy theorist. I am not sure.

Though I agree consumers should ultimately be responsible for making healthy choices for themselves, I am super-annoyed that we package so much food together and try to pass it off as a single serving. More accurately, for items that are marketed as single-serving type packages, I think food manufacturers should be honest and put the calories that are contained in the entire package. Own up to the fact that your bag of Oreos has 1040 calories and probably exceeds the daily recommendation for fat and saturated fat.

The size of food passed off as a single package just keeps increasing. The candy bars for sale are twice the size of those I remember as a kid. The only Twix bars for sale, for example, contained 4 Twix-es vs. only 2 like I remember. This is not healthy for us and probably not really sustainable either.

I don’t know the answer to this one. Would it be a policy solution? (e.g., require nutritional labeling to contain the calories for the whole package if it is labeled as a snack.) I’m not sure if that’s a great idea, but it could drive changes toward more realistic sizes just like including TransFat on labels incentivized food manufacturers to get rid of partially hydrogenated oils in their food. I don’t think consumers want to advocate for smaller, more realistic package sizes for the most part, especially if the cost would remain the same – but I don’t think continuing to increase serving/package sizes is wise or sustainable. Obesity is about to overtake smoking as the #1 preventable cause of death. That is ridiculous. (Again, I am one of the obese folks and I take responsibility for my actions. I am just pointing out the huge societal impacts that obesity has in America and increasingly in the rest of world).

In case you are curious, what I ultimately decided to do was to get a bag of cashews. There were 3 servings with 170 calories each. That is decidedly a very large “snack”, but believe it or not was one of the better choices. The best choice was probably almonds, but I eat those all the time…but usually 12 nuts at a time, not in a huge bag.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Please allow me a brief digression before I get on to the "meat" of this post. First let me say I read a lot of blogs; many of them are anonymous. When I started a blog, I debated about whether my own blog should be anonymous or not. If you're anonymous you're able to speak a little more freely on your blog because you don't need to completely censor what you're going to say ("OMG, can you believe my crazy colleague Joe asked me to do bizarre thing ZZZ today?"). This is because for the most part people don't know who you are it is unlikely it will ever make it back to Joe what it was that you said. If you make the decision to blog as yourself -- complete with a name and a picture -- you really need to think about what it is you're going to say. It's possible that if you're googled, your blog will come up. I thought about this a bit when starting my blog but eventually decided I was ok with being out in the open about my struggle with weight and with food. I mean, if you look at me it's not exactly a secret that I'm obese (although, I am now only obese -- no longer morbidly obese. Though not a victory in the absolute sense, I'll take it...).

All this disclaimer to say...I'm not sure if it's ok to write about this as my non-anonymous self on the blog. I may take this post down if I decide later it was a mistake to write about. The reason I consider this in bounds for the blog -- even though it has a decidedly professional slant -- it intersects majority with my personal life and my decision and determination to promote my own health via a concerted effort to lose weight and exercise.

Today one of the sessions that I participated in at the conference I am attending was about disease prevention and health promotion. Obviously this is something that I have a very personal stake in (though, I suppose we all do). More specifically, the topic we were discussing was how can industrial engineering (IE -- my profession) tools be leveraged to help envision and shape the healthcare system of the future (2016). For the non-IEs among my blog readers, here is a definition of IE.
Industrial engineering is a branch of engineering that concerns the development, improvement, implementation and evaluation of integrated systems of people, money, knowledge, information, equipment, energy, material and process.
Healthcare is most definitely in the scope of the type of integrated systems that IEs can and should work in.

So how can IEs help with disease prevention and health promotion? The answer to me is not obvious. I should also underscore that this is such a personal topic for me, having high blood pressure and being obese. One of the main things that strikes me is that much of this is a cultural and environmental issue, as well as a behavioral science one. This is not something IE can do alone. IE tools alone can't help me learn how to treat food as fuel for my body rather than a security blanket. Mathematical models aren't there to make me momentarily feel better when I am sad. Systems engineering doesn't calm me down when I have a fight with a friend or my mom. Coping strategies and behavioral modification might, and these are rooted in behavioral science -- but IE and its associated tools alone seem insufficient to help with this suite of problems.

One of the tough things was the veiled contempt people seemed to have for those who are not promoting their own health -- mostly smokers and the overweight and obese. I agree these are huge problems that are straining our burgeoning healthcare system. I agree that people should take control our health -- but as a fat person may I add that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar? That is, please don't pile judgement and scorn on those of us who are fat. For the most part, we know it and are really sad and distraught about it already. We don't need a layer of judgement on top of our own guilt. That is not to say you need to enable us and give us donuts when we're sad, but a little empathy can go a long way. It is hard to be fat in America, even without you further trampling on our fragile self image. (Please note: I accept responsibility for my actions that have led to my being fat and am trying to deal with it -- but in general, the attitude toward the obese in this nation is pretty terrible.) Also it does not take into account all of the relevant factors. See this post about judgement.

Let me end on a slightly braggy note, but one that was really neat and easily one of the three high points of my day. Aneesh Chopra, the Chief Technology Officer in the US, spoke to the 25 or so of us at this conference today. This was after he rode on Air Force One earlier in the day to brief Obama about electronic medical records. You can meet some really cool people in this job.

Feeling like a loser

Don't you just hate the days when you feel like a loser? When you feel you don't fit in, when you feel you aren't smart, when you feel you're ugly and you don't have much to offer? I hate those days. I am trying to figure out why they happen. If you have thoughts, please let me know -- I welcome your input.

Here are some of the things I have identified:
  • I feel more like a loser when I make bad choices. For example, if I eat a bunch of gross foods when there are healthy choices around and do not exercise, I feel like a loser.
  • If I am exhausted, I am more likely to feel like a loser (whether or not I actually am).
  • If I feel "out of my league", I feel like a loser. This is especially true if I am labeled as a peer but don't feel like one.
I've been having one of those days today. I feel severely out of my league at the conference I am attending, though I am supposed to be a colleague. The other attendees are really "who's whos" of the HC Engineering world and I' I have not made stellar food choices this weekend (some by design). Yesterday I was tired so I just took a tour so I could sit down a lot of the day. I felt like I took the easy way out and so I feel like a loser. I am also just really tired. I am sure these are the reasons why I feel like a loser. I am sure these feelings will pass, but man I dislike days like today. Feeling like a loser really sucks.

The trick is to manage your way out of these days and not let them become death spirals. For example, if you have a bad food day, you need to pick yourself up and dust yourself off. You can't succumb to the "I'm a loser" self-talk and use it as an excuse to make bad decisions the next day...and week...and month...and so on. You need to make it a priority to get more sleep so you're not burning the rope from both ends. There are things you can do to make sure you're not going to get deeper into your funk.

On a semi-related note, I kind of feel like I'm in the doldrums of the weight loss thing right now. I haven't been losing weight for a couple weeks (and I fully expect to gain some this week), but just maintaining. The honeymoon period is over; the new is gone. This month I am traveling three out of the four weekends. It's for fun stuff, but man is it exhausting and man does it make it tougher to follow the healthy patterns you've established in your everyday life (eating healthy, working out, etc). This does not bode well on the weight-loss front.

I really do want to be in this healthy lifestyle thing for the longhaul. That is why I try to give myself allowances and not get freaked out when I have bad days or weeks -- but at some point you need to just buckle down and get on with it. That is the part that I am struggling with now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Who knew, but mangos are an emerging world food allergy. They are in the sumac family (same family containing "poison sumac" and a relative of poison ivy). Apparently I am allergic to these, which is sad because they are delicious and healthy. They have broken out my lips and it looks like I have zits all over them. It is gross.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Today was the first time I had been on a plane in about a month and a half. I have (almost) always enjoyed traveling. Well, more specifically, I have always enjoyed visiting new places, seeing new things, and having new experiences.

However, the experience of traveling itself has not always been fun. In particular, it is a lot less fun when you are overweight. You wonder “Will I need a belt extender?” when riding on an airplane (asking for one has to be one of the most humiliating travel-related experience). You pray that, at a minimum you are on an aisle so you don’t intrude on your neighbors’ space – but really you hope for an empty seat next to you. You hope that there are no travel-related delays so you don’t have to [try to] run to make your connection. You get winded walking from terminal to terminal. You can’t really use the lap tray because your stomach fat blocks it so, as a result, you can’t work on your computer during the flight. I could go on and on but, in summary, you’re probably feeling me that it is both unpleasant and potentially humiliating to travel when you are morbidly obese. The one bright side is that airports are packed with junk food that comes in huge portions. One of my favorite airport “snacks” that you can buy would have to be a huge bag of Combos. The ability to get unlimited quantities of junk food really just is not much of a bright side, though, especially if you’re wise enough to consider the eventual ramification of said junk food. I rarely considered these longer-term effects when I was overweight though.

Though I obviously have a long way (weigh?) to go in this journey, I can already tell a huge difference from where I started. In fact, I can tell a substantial difference just in the month and a half since I’ve flown. This was surprising to me as I’ve only lost about 5-10 lbs in that time. Here is a summary of my travel day.

First, in the spirit of honesty, let me confess that today hasn’t been stellar food wise. I had a healthy breakfast (grade: A), Olive Garden for lunch (grade: C+ – healthy portions, relatively healthy choice from the menu, only one breadstick – but be realistic: it’s still the Olive Garden and there is a lot of sodium in the food). Snacks were a peach and an apple (grade: A). For dinner, airport food. In particular since I connected in Memphis I had Neely’s BBQ for dinner (grade: probably a D+ -- had a half rack of ribs, sides were beans and slaw. I skipped the potato salad even though I wanted to eat it, had a bite of the white bread to see if it was anything special, decided it wasn’t so threw the rest away. Probably too big a portion, but I did not want to waste it. I feel ok with that decision. I also am ok with having eaten it as this summer I became obsessed with the Food Network and always wanted to try the Neely’s restaurant since I enjoy their FN show. I told myself I would try it the next time I went to Memphis. I have now done that. I wish I had time to enjoy eating it though. Dinner was incredibly rushed because I had a super tight connection. Stay tuned for more on that…) My tactical decisions weren’t too awful given the strategic ones I made to eat at the restaurants I did (i.e., given that you are going to have BBQ for dinner, nice job not eating a whole rack of ribs and 2 sides of potato salad – I totally would have done that back in the day). Nonetheless my strategic decisions to eat out twice and not at particularly healthy restaurants were somewhere between not great and poor. I give myself an overall food grade today of C- to D+.

Anyway, back to the travel portion of the story. Our flight out of XNA was delayed, making my connection in Memphis quite tight. First of all, let me tell you how much I wanted Doritos, Combos, and/or TGIFriday’s chips while waiting at the airport! These are all my favorite travel foods. I used to get Combos almost every trip I would fly. I guess it was kind of a habit, but I did not give in! Yay for turning over a leaf. I read my book instead and eventually the craving passed.

There was a colleague from work that was going to be on our flight. I recognized her but have never talked to her (she is not in my department, but is in the College of Engineering). Coincidentally, we ended up being seated next to each other on the flight. My first thought was “This will be nice to get a chance to talk to her” but almost immediately I thought “OMG let me please not squish her in her seat!”. I was so self conscious (and glad she was skinny, lessening the probability that I would smash her). Turns out, I fit almost normally into the seat. I didn’t hang over at all, and had a good 6” to spare on my seatbelt. Unless you have been in a situation where you have needed a belt extender or wondered if your belt would buckle, you probably have no idea how excited I felt. It was really great. A bonus is that I had a nice conversation with an interesting colleague on the flight. Usually I just read a book or sleep or listen to my iPod; I rarely talk to strangers on flights so it was a nice change. But back to the story….

I planeside checked my carry-on bags, and so it took a couple minutes for them to unload them off the plane so we could get them. This made my tight connection even tighter. I knew I needed to make my plane (obviously) and, if at all possible, get something to eat. As a tangent, now that I have fewer reserves (i.e., easily accessible glycogen and stored up body fat) to draw on, I find that my body is more sensitive to not being fed both properly and in a timely manner. I try to avoid my body getting angry at me for being unfed for too long, as such bodily anger generally manifests itself in the form of headaches, irritability, and/or feeling like I might pass out. It’s best for everyone if I avoid this. I saw that my time was tight to make my connection, but did allow me to at least stop so I could get something to take on the plane. I got my food to go and pressed on. Since losing weight I am able to move much more quickly than before. While hustling to get to my gate, though, I had a realization: I realized I could easily run to my gate if I would have needed to. I was like “WOW!!!” The time on the elliptical machine has paid off. It made me so excited and proud.

Finally I should point out that I wrote this entry on the tray table in front of my seat. It was so great. I had a good 6” between me and the table. This was in contrast to having it not be able to fold all the way down due to being blocked by stomach fat. I was so excited.

I am by no means a in perfect shape, but I am taking control of my life and my health and am so glad that I am seeing results. It is strong motivation to keep going. I am looking forward to being able to take on the day tomorrow with vigor and enthusiasm!

Incidentally, a book that I was reading pointed out to me that I am on the cusp of just being “obese” as opposed to “morbidly obese” on the BMI scale. Not something to be hugely proud of in and of itself (“YAY!!! I’M OBESE!!!”), for me it is progress and I am very proud of where my life/health vector is pointed and determined to make the progress continue.

This week

This week has been insanely busy. In fact, I have had this blogger window open, ready to type this post now for two days. C-R-A-Z-Y busy. This weekend and the first part of next week, I will be out of town so I am finally packed and ready to go. It will be nice to get away from this madness for a bit but -- honestly -- I don't know if it's worse to come back to more work that has managed to pile up while you are away. The point of this blog is not work, though, it is about food.

However, for me at least, it's tough to not recognize and deal with the impact that work has on food and vice versa. More generally, the general busy-ness of life has a large impact on what I eat and when/how/how much I work out.

This week I report that my success is mixed. I am not doing WW this week. Generally, I am eating good/healthy things. I can't imgaine my life without fruits and vegetables, though I do eat out a fair amount. This week, even though I was crazy busy, I would say I ate out less than usual. I need to focus on giving my body healthy, nutrient-rich foods even when I am superbusy. That is not to say that I did very well with food, though. I ate a lot. I did have some unhealthy things (don't remember what they are and I didn't track with WW this week), but overall my biggest problem is probably that I eat too much when left to my own devices. Red pepper hummus is good; 1/4 a Sam's sized container of red pepper hummus is too much. Mozzerella cheese is not bad; having 4 oz at once probably isn't the best. You get the picture.

The good news is that I exercised a lot this week. Probably not anymore than usual, but I feel like I am starting to achieve a healthy equilibrium with exercise. I really can't imagine not doing it now. It is just totally part of my routine.

My weekly exercise routine does vary a little from week to week, but roughly here are the highlights. I have spin class Monday mornings at 6:30 AM. Wednesday and Friday mornings I work out for an hour with my trainer at 7 AM. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings I usually attend both an aqua abs and aqua aerobics class. Monday and Wednesdays I usually do an hour on the elliptical, and sometimes I do aqua abs on those days as well. It really just depends. Saturdays are usually more variable, but usually I either take a longer walk on the trail system in town or go work out on the elliptical machine and watch some mindless TV. I don't usually do much if anything on Sunday. I am sure my body needs and appreciates the break.

I am actually pretty proud of the fact that I am keeping on top of the exercise despite the crazy pace that life is moving at lately. I think I can attribute my success there to two things. First, I am in the habit of it. It feels weird not to work out during the day. Second and probably more importantly, I really do enjoy working out. I guess there is something to the concept of endorphins. I must say it is working for me!

My weight has been doing really crazy things this week. I am up quite a bit. The rough rule of thumb is that to gain (or lose) a pound, you need to eat (or have a calorie deficit) or 3500 calories. This week I have gained 6 lbs. There is no way I ate that much! I think this is because I am having an allergic reaction to something. Wednesday morning my lips totally looked like Angelina Jolie's. It was crazy (but mine looked weird, whereas I'd say hers look pretty good). At first I thought it was an allergic reaction to makeup but yesterday I discovered a rash on the roof of my mouth too. Must be something I ate. The only thing I can think of that I ate that was really new to me was mangos. However, I really hope I am not allergic to these -- they are too delicious and healthy for me to want to stop eating them! I think I am holding onto extra water as a part of this reaction, which is causing the scale to be so rude to me this week.

Well, I am off to DC for 4 days. It is hard to eat healthily while out of town. I will give myself some leeway on what I eat, but will be careful to have enough fruits, veggies, and fiber while I am gone. I also want to work out at least twice while I am at the hotel. The other days, I will be playing tourist and will just work to get lots of walking in.

That's my update for the week. I'm not writing as much in this blog as I had anticipated or hope, but I will not give up on it. I really need this space to document and work out what I'm thinking and feeling about food -- thus the title of the blog. This is cheap therapy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DJ AM and Addiction

The week so far has been absolutely insane. Let me try to catch you up.

As I mentioned, last week I did not do WW. This was intentional, but a mistake. I gained about 2 lbs this week. I think I still need the structure to learn what is right for me. I am all about occasional treats, etc. but I -- to date -- lack the discipline/healthy habits to know how much is too much vs. how much is ok. Perhaps in time it will come, but it's certainly not here yet. Crap. I need to get back on the WW wagon.

The reason things are crazy is because of work. I'm trying to get caught up on things, and yet work is just completely relentless. Oh well, good thing I enjoy (usually) what I do. Makes it less painful. This is a relatively recent rediscovery after an incredibly rough last academic year. It's helpful to feel like I'm getting my professional life back on track. I think that, for me, this is kind of like the yang to the yin of my life. Once I started to get healthy and feel better, I started to get more done at work. This was great because, honestly, I was just treading water or drowning much of last year -- now I feel I am actually making forward progress. Yay! May it continue through getting tenure and far beyond....

OK - on to the main topic of this post. This is not news today, but recently DJ Adam Goldstein -- affectionally known as DJ AM -- died of a drug overdose. Honestly, I really didn't know who this guy was, other than knowing that he dated Nicole Richie. After he died I was reading an article in People about him. Turns out that he had in the past wrestled with drugs, but had been sober about 10 years. In those 10 years, he had helped numerous other people get help with their drug and alcohol problems and was a shining example of a success story. Well, until he died that is. After the intense emotion and sadness of his plane crash last year, he started reusing drugs which ultimately resulted in his death. He even had plans to re-enter drug rehab. Sadly he never had the opportunity.

Reading his story made me really sad and, honestly, it made me scared. I am not sure whether I am a food addict or not, but I definitely have and in the past have had an unhealthy relationship with food -- it is not my friend, it is not what I should go to when I am sad, or happy, or feeling any kind of intense emotion. It is to fuel my body to give me the energy I need. Period. Relying on it for more is not healthy or really even sane. In the past I have done crazy and even unethical things to get food. That is just ridiculous. It has at times been like a drug -- I can recall eating fattening things I don't even like just because I was sad (e.g., dark chocolate -- gross!). In some ways I can really identify with what I imagine a drug addict would feel like when he/she needs a quick hit. It is a complete lack of control yet laser-like focus to get what you want that consumes you. It is bad.

Though you hear it often, seeing the tragic death of DJ AM made me realize that an addict is never cured. Even the poster children sometimes fall from grace. It is all the more tragic when this happens to them for (at least) two reasons. First of all, the failure of a poster child can make others feel more susceptible to failure (i.e., "Oh if DJ AM can't do it, I am so f_____!"). Second of all, I sometimes think poster children have an unrealistic burden placed on them. In addition to having to deal with a problem, they are saddled with additional baggage that comes with "carrying the torch" of success. That is rough, and in many cases unfair. This is intensified further when they fail, especially in the media spotlight ("OMG Courney Love is such a mess!!! I knew she wouldn't stay sober!")

I guess this is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. Vigilance will be essential for me to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is not something that I think I will ever be "cured" of. It is something that I can manage, and something that I will work hard on. I don't ever anticipate a time when I will have this thing completely under control -- it will always be lurking under the surface. Now DJ AM is, unfortunately, the poster child for this. May he rest in peace, and get the credit he deserves for helping so many with something he struggled with so personally.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I'm trying to think of what's new here. Friday I was sick and tried to stay home, do a bit of work and recuperate for the most part. I did work out in the morning, but that was really the extent of my activities there.

Yesterday I worked out in the morning and was able to do more than 60 minutes on the eliptical machine. I would have stopped after 65 (the hour workout, plus the 5 minute cooldown), but there was a Soup special about reality TV love and there were 10 minutes left and I just had to finish it. It's probably not great that TV was my inspiration, but hey, I'll take it.

I'm feeling so much better today. Nice to be finally almost over this cold. This weekend two friends from out of town came. They are Muslim and it is Ramadan, so they are fasting during the daytime hours. To make sure they have enough energy, they eat early in the morning before sunrise, and then are allowed to eat after sunset again. Yesterday evening, I took them to Geraldi's and we walked around campus. They loved it, and we all had a great time. This morning I got up and made pancakes. I made the batter last night, and also made a really tasty strawberry topping (strawberries, sugar, and enough corn starch to make it thicken) so that it would be easy to make at 4 AM before sunrise. It actually was really nice to be able to share that experience with them, though I don't plan on making such early morning breakfasts a habit! We went right back to sleep after eating and then got to spend this morning working on research (oh, the weekends of nerds, God love us). It was so nice to see them. We all agreed we should see each other more often. Such great friends.

My posts right now are boring. I kind of feel like I'm just muddling through these days (food/exercise wise), with the cold sapping a lot of my energy. I also made the intentional decision to take a week off of WW, but I think I need to get back on. The truth is, I just don't do moderation well on my own. We will see what the scale says this week, but next week I should get back on the plan. I will need to figure out a longer-term strategy for how I will deal with not wanting to count everything for the rest of my life, allowing myself occasional indulgences, and how to keep everything in check. Like I have said, I want health to be a lifestyle -- working out, eating healthy (healthily), and not stressing out about every food/exercise related decision. I am so not there yet.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

AWFUL food day!

Man I really thought about punting on a post today. Truth is, I am kind of ashamed to write about the stuff I ate -- but that is exactly why I need to write. As the title of the blog implies, it is therapeutic for me to get this stuff out of me and onto [virtual] paper and so I need to do that with both the good and the bad. Also, if one of the goals of this blog is to keep me accountable but I don't write the bad stuff, well...Sarah FAIL. So, here it goes...

Today for breakfast I had the leftover fried shrimp I blogged about earlier in the week for breakfast. Real healthfood and a great way to get that body going in the morning, right? Wow, not so much. Then I went with a coworker to lunch. We went to a place that is primarily a burger place, so I decided to get a burger. Now, they had salads on the menu. I actually really considered getting a cobb salad without the bacon and with the dressing on the side. That would have been a fine option; however, I decided to get a side of onion rings with my burger. OMG! Wow, complete derailment. They were good, but not good enough to justify going off the wagon for in retrospect. They were deepfried (obviously) and sprinkled with salt. Who sprinkles those things with salt, and what person with high blood pressure should be eating salt-sprinkled fried food? I mean, really...

I have been sick this week, and today I was feeling not stellar at all. I really just wanted to sleep basically all day. However, after all of this crappy eating, I had to go to the gym; I really just didn't think I could justify skipping it at all. I only did 30 minutes on the elliptical, because after that I just thought I would not be able to make it. I just felt too bad. It burned 400 calories, so it was probably worth it. It was also worth it to quit after just 30 minutes. In general I work out plenty so I don't need to be there 2 hrs everyday (though that is not uncommon for me when I am feeling healthy).

By the night time, my stomach ached! (I have been dealing with a cold; nothing stomach related) It is amazing to me that the kind of food I used to love (and still kind of do love) and eat almost exclusively now makes me sick if I overdo it. Also I just felt disgusting by evening and as though my body were screaming: "VEGGIES!!! FIBER!!! FRUIT AND WATER PLEASE!!!" I listened for dinner, ate healthily, and then fell asleep immediately. I slept from 7-1 and now had to write this post before I forgot everything. It is a good reminder of how I am sure I used to feel -- just gross and lethargic. I just can't eat that kind of food and expect it to effectively fuel my body.

I haven't been doing WW this week. Part of it is because I don't think that I am eating enough on the plan right now. I typically track everything when on WW, I definitely eat all my points each day, and usually I shoot to have a balance of 35 points left each week. The way I think of it is that I eat all my exercise points but leave the extra 35 on the table. However, at least last week, this helped me to lose weight at an unhealthy rate so I decided to go it alone for a week. The idea is that I should listen to my body when it is hungry and when it is full. The idea was not to eat fried and unhealthy foods, as I did today. I either need to get on WW so I can understand how many fried foods are ok (recognizing, of course, that you have to eat good foods too), or I need to eat healthier foods only. One more thing to work on.

This week I found a blog by a guy who lost 200 lbs completely healthily (although some might say too fast), and I have been reading through the archives. Completely inspirational, though I am not sure what I think about the "no cheating, ever" aspect of his approach to food. I am delighted it is working for him, but I am not sure I could do it or that I think it is the right thing for me, for now. I can see where he is coming from though -- approaching food like an addict. Just as alcoholics don't drink at all when they become sober, he is not eating unhealthy food at all. I'm not there, and I don't know if I will ever be. I will write more about food addiction another time, but for now I am going to try not to mess up my body clock anymore and get back to sleep.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


One of the things I am liking about losing weight is seeing how much better everything fits.

A couple of stories.
#1 - When my friend Amy got married this year, I was looking for clothes I could wear there. As you can imagine, nothing really fit or looked good. Let's face it, it's tough to look good in most plus sized clothes. I hated to try on the clothes, because I hated to look at myself. In preparation for Amy's wedding, I bought a skirt that I thought would look nice. It was a size 24 and when I got home and finally tried to wear it, I was MORTIFIED to learn that it was actually way too small. There was no way this would fit. I was devastated. I am now pleased to report that, not only does this skirt fit it is now too big on me. I admit, I wear it anyway but in another 20 or 25 lbs. I won't be able to anymore or it will fall off. Victory!

#2 - At the beginning of the summer, I bought a pair of jeans in Branson that I thought were totally cute. They were only $6 so I figured "I'll get these a couple sizes down and see if I can wear them in the fall." I bought a size 22, and was at the time wearing a 26. I wore these jeans today and they are kind of huge on me! What?! In fact, I thought someone was going to pants me today at work -- could you imagine the humiliation that would have caused?! I thought about buying a pair of size 20 in the same style and now complete regret not doing it. Seriously -- check out mwah jeans if you're a fashion conscious plus sized female. Apparently they are sold in higher-end stores and the MSRP is quite high (much higher than $6).

#3 - Along the lines of story 2, I bought a Columbia jacket men's size XL for around $20 at an outlet mall in Texas last year. It was a good deal, no doubt, but the problem is that the jacket was ill fitting -- much more ill-fitting than I would admit. Also, since it was a rain jacket, you really can't wear those open; you kind of need them to zip up to fulfill their intended design. Now this thing fits like a charm. So nice and the $20 was really a deal now, not just a deal on paper that never materializes because you can't get the thing to fit.

One of my goals is to be able to go to any store and be able to shop. I am sick of being in the plus size sections of places. I WILL reach this goal and -- with discipline -- will be able to maintain it this time.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yesterday I went out to eat and didn't stick to the plan 100%; today too. Part of the reason is because I was anticipating a big loss this week. TOO big a loss, in fact. I am to the point where my weight loss should be 1-2 lbs/week and, as of yesterday, it was going to be 5 lbs. Today it ended up being only 4 lbs from last Tuesday, but that is still faster than the recommended rate. I have been eating all of my WW points, so I am really not sure what to attribute this to other than a faster metabolism, lots of exercise and, perhaps, a fluke. Not to worry -- I am in no danger whatsoever of becoming an anorexic!!

I had a victory today at the restaurant. I ordered a portion that was way too big for me (this is not the part that is the victory...). In part, it was about value (along the lines of "you get double the amount for just $1 more!!"), in part a reaction to losing too much weight and feeling I needed to compensate and, honestly, I was just really hungry. I ordered it and could not eat it all (which in and of itself was surprising). I took a couple bites more, willing myself to finish it but then realized "WTH?!? This is stupid. Take it home and eat it tomorrow!" For me this represents a victory for several reasons. First, it means my stomach and/or appetite is getting smaller which is great. Second, it means I'm learning to listen to my body when it is telling me it is full. Before the start of Journey 2.0 I had essentially forgotten what it was like to listen to my body's hunger and "all done" signals to me. Also, saving the food for tomorrow is a step toward getting over fatalistic thinking. The food I was eating was not the healthiest, and so usually I'd be inclined to get it over with so as not to "taint" another day. However, the calories are still calories and spreading them around (i.e., eating 1000 today and 500 tomorrow vs 1500 today) doesn't matter probably -- in fact it probably helps! I consider it another small step in having a healthy relationship with food....and, as you know, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I have gone more than one step, but as you can surmise I am nowhere near the home stretch -- I've got a ways to go on this 1000+ mile journey.

I am coming down with a cold and I have been for a couple days. I am taking Airborne and trying to get extra rest. I REALLY don't want to get sick, especially this early in the semester. I took it relatively easy today at the gym, doing only the aqua abs and water aerobics classes. I am even contemplating bailing on the trainer in the morning. We will see what happens. And that is the news in Arkansas from Sarah today.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I am kind of obsessed with exercise these days. I usually work out 5-6 times/week, usually 1-3 hrs/day. I have come a long way health-wise, but I have a way to go. I just try to channel Fergie and be "up at the gym, just workin' on my fitness". Here is a brief list of my current gym-related favorites:
  • Favorite classes: Body Sculpt, Aqua Abs, or Aqua Aerobics
  • Favorite instructors: Colton, Brooke, or Monique
  • Favorite exercises: group exercise classes or elliptical; used to be swimming. I also like weight lifting
  • Favorite workout song-artists (I couldn't limit it just to songs): Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake, PCD. Anything with a fast and catchy beat, really.
I am really kind of crazed about the workout thing lately. For example, today I went to the gym at noon and didn't leave until 3. I went to a deep stretch/pilates class (actually a yoga class in disguise, and I was annoyed because I despise certain types of yoga and this is one), went swimming, and then went on the elliptical. I want to go back tonight, but am not sure whether or not I will.

Part of me wonders if this is healthy. Actually, most of me does. Am I just trading in one obsession (food) for another (exercise)? Is this all one big excuse so I can eat what I want (sometimes it feels like it), and if so, is that ok (provided I still get enough healthy stuff too)? Lots to work through on this. If anyone has thoughts or insights, please throw in your $0.02. Maybe eventually we'll scrape together a couple bucks and can go for ice cream. Oh, um, wait...

More missteps

So yesterday? It was not stellar food wise. Or anything wise, actually. I was doing fine in the morning and then at some point, I just snapped and finished the rest of the Sam's Club sized tub-o-hummus. I can take a small bit of solace in saying that at least it wasn't something unhealthy, but still it was too much. Then I felt it gave me license to do whatever at my picnic in the evening. To be honest, I didn't do anything too regrettable there until I took home about 2 cups of potato salad and promptly devoured them at home. Not what I should have done.

The good news is that I don't think I gained much weight as a result of my mis-steps. The scale was up only 0.4 pounds and I think I'd be hardpressed to call that statistically significant -- could be salt, etc. However, I am sure it did sabotage losing weight. I'd be lucky if I stayed even yesterday, but definitely I didn't lose any weight.

All this pointed out a problem I need to fix: fatalistic thinking. When I make mistakes, I should not say "Oh I have ruined my plan for today -- time for a free for all!" Honestly I could have recovered from yesterday had I wanted to. I had plenty of activity points left, even though I don't like to eat through ALL of them. I should obviously strive not to make mistakes, but when I do I should not completely derail everything else.

Oh, and I did not go to the gym yesterday. I feel ok with that, but today I am going to get back on the gym bandwagon. Tomorrow is my weigh in day, so we will see what happens. I am anticipating a good number for the week.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend so far.

Yesterday was a reasonably good day. I did fine with breakfast and lunch and I wanted to eat dinner at 1 PM. Instead I grabbed a peach and went for a walk. By 5 PM I was totally struggling and I went out to Olive Garden (I had planned on giving myself some sort of treat). I looked at the nutrition facts for the options ahead of time and ordered the lunch portion of my favorite meal (something I only recently learned you can do). I was dong fine. I went to Barnes and Noble and spent some time reading there, and on the way home I wanted some chocolate. Like, I *really* wanted it. I still had points left and figured that my wanting it was not fleeting (I had been thinking about wanting chocolate for a couple hours, not just a hot second), so I stopped and got a Ritter Sport. Those are my favorite European chocolate bars (anyone, anyone?). For the most part, I am done just shoving crappy food in my body so if I am going to go off the plan, it is not going to be for some nasty Hershey's, it is going to be for good chocolate!

Guess how many points that thing had? 15!!! Almost as much as my dinner. Ooops. Oh well, I did have the points left, so I tracked it and moved on. Lesson learned though -- I won't be doing that again anytime soon. Oh well, that is part of what this journey is about: figuring out what are good, marginal, bad, and really bad choices. I will have either find a way to only eat half or a third of the bar next time, or make a different choice. In the past, I never trusted myself to only eat a third, because I would quickly make a beeline for the rest of the chocolate. Maybe I will have to try that though? I have grown in other areas of my relationship with food and maybe that is the next improvement I can make.

Today I 70% want to go to the gym, 30% don't. I feel like I need to to make up for yesterday. However, I have not taken a full day off from working out this week and I probably should. I may be able on a technicality to not count yesterday as exercising since I just went for a walk on the trail system. Let's be honest, though, in the past I would have totally counted that for exercise -- especially in the days I was leading such a sedentary lifestyle! We will see what wins out: my desire to go to the gym, or my desire to stay home.

The reasons I want to go to the gym are three:
  1. I feel incredibly guilty for eating that chocolate bar yesterday. This would help me to make amends.
  2. Tonight there is a picnic with my coworkers and the graduate students. I want to be able to indulge a little and have more wiggle room than my 31 daily points and leftover activity points allow. Obviously, this is more of a choice if I have earned some more activity points ahead of time. There will be BBQ from Penguin Ed's and so I want to be able to eat one of the sausage sandwiches guilt-free! Also, everyone's supposed to bring something, so I am sure there will be much deliciousness there (I am bringing watermelons so I at least have one healthy choice).
  3. My favorite class, BodySculpt, is today. They only offer it three times a week now and Sunday is by far the best time for my schedule.
I will let you know what happens, but if I had to guess I will end up going to the gym.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The grind

So far, both of my posts have been high-level, big thoughts type of posts rather than the operational, down in the weeds details. I want to post both types of things because, really, this blog is as much for me so that I can document and work through my own thoughts and feelings as it is for anyone who reads it -- which, as far as I know, is no one because I haven't advertised it to many people.

This morning I worked out before work. I love doing that because already by 9 AM I have accomplished something and I feel like it sets me up to have a good day. Plus I feel strong after a workout and I enjoy that. Tonight I am hoping to do some water aerobics, but I might go for a walk instead. It really depends how the weather holds out. I am not sure about that one.

Today, I am not sure what I will do about food. I am really not one of these planners who has a "food plan" for the day. Maybe I will become one in time, but I doubt it. Usually, I go to lunch with folks I work with, and I feel the social benefit from that far outweighs the benefit of having a carefully crafted lunch menu prepared that would then be shot if I went to a restaurant with them. (BTW this is not to say they are not accommodating and supportive -- they totally are, but I just want to be "one of the guys", not the killjoy who needs to needs to go only to certain restaurants and constantly needs to be accommodated if that makes sense). We will see what happens. Whatever it is, I will track it for WW though.


This isn't about the physical kind of balance, though I must say that I have improved in that area (have a long way to go still though!). I am finding it tough to find balance in this journey to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, it's probably what I'd identify as my #1 issue right now related to this food/weight/lifestyle thing.

I can succeed in the food department when I have structure -- I like that about Weight Watchers, as it helps me to figure out where I can give and take and still see some success with respect to losing weight. However, I sometimes let go and feel this is appropriate. For example, on my birthday I am going to go out to eat and get exactly what I want and not feel badly about it. Actually, there are ways that you can do this on Weight Watchers, but it requires you to restrict what you do for the rest of the week (e.g., you save up your "extra points" and then use them on your birthday). I'm not willing to do that yet. Maybe in time I will be.

Part of the reason I struggle is that, although I want good results and quickly if possible, I want to be doing something that I will do for the rest of my life. At this point, I am not willing to cut too many corners on letting myself have occasional indulgences that relate to food. Maybe in time I will be, and probably as I become smaller it will become more necessary to maintain that weight. However, I weigh 257 now and it is not necessary to be too strict while still being able to see results (although I still need structure). Thus, I'm willing to kind of take the slower, more meandering road as it relates to weight loss. If I do the right things, eventually I will lose the weight. It probably won't be all within the next year, but I will eventually lose it if I continue to do the right things. That is why I want to give myself some allowances so the definition of "right things" isn't so stringent I am unable to meet it. This is a relatively recent shift in my perspective and, for now, I am comfortable with it.

Blogging all this helps me to sort it out. I am still not sure where the healthy balance between needing to eat right most of the time and allowing myself indulgences is. I am sure it is different for everyone, and probably even for a single person varies over time (yes, I am looking at you my over-30 metabolism). I need to be aware of these things so I can find the answer for myself, right now. As of yet, I am still looking for it though.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I am going to try a new blog

I am an unashamed blog stalker. I read about 60 blogs and really enjoy hearing about how other people are living life. I figure, why not throw my hat into the ring of blogs? I'm as interesting as anyone else is. Also, I am hoping this blog will get me into the habit of writing regularly. I could really benefit from that in my professional life. This will also help me to stay on track with my healthy lifestyle (or at least be accountable to the world of cyberspace).

The purpose of this blog is pretty much to talk about my experiences with food, Weight Watchers, eating and exercising. I will probably throw in a little bit about myself, but that is not the focus of this blog. The purpose of this blog is to keep me on track. I have struggled with my weight most of my life, and certainly all of my adult life. I am, for the second time, dealing with it. I hope this time it sticks.

I started off this journey (this time) at 299.4 lbs. I was often tired, didn't feel good about myself, and was just generally trapped in the doldrums of life. It was awful and almost makes me cry to think about it.

I am now about 40 lbs lighter, in much better shape, and pushing toward ever more ambitious goals health wise. How have I been able to do this? Well, hard work. I started this journey (let's call it Journey 2.0) on April 21. The first 30 lbs. just came off easily. My motivation was high, my self-discipline was great and I had more WW points, too, which made the program easier to stick to. My initial goal was to lose 30 lbs by my 30th birthday, and I did this a month early. I hit a bit of a faux-plateau in July and early August, not so much because my body was fighting the weight loss, but more because of vacations, birthdays, etc. that caused me to gain and lose the same 5-10 lbs over and over.

My next goal was called "50 by Fall", where I wanted to lose an additional 20 lbs by the September 21, the first day of fall. This goal now appears ambitious, but it could still happen. I am not going to push it too hard but would obviously love it to happen.

I am now focusing more on the long term. Yes, I'd love to lose this all by tomorrow, but I am trying to approach this more as a lifestyle choice. I am going to do this for the rest of my life, so as long as the "vector" of this all is in an improving direction the timing is not so important. This is more of a recent realization/attitude for me. One more step in this life overhaul. I am sure I will have tons more. You've gotta love being a work in progress.
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