Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Life atop my Soapbox...

Lately I have been angry. Not outraged or incensed, just a low-grade anger. It is weird.

My anger pretty much has to do with health/diet related stuff. I'm not really angry with individuals or things in my "real" life, just mostly diet stuff I see/read/am innundated with and some that I even choose -- and to some degree "people", i.e., the masses or people at large. Let me vent a little. Maybe I will feel better after I get it off my chest.

Rant 1: The Biggest Loser
I have written before about the Biggest Loser. My thoughts on this topic have shifted a bit. The Biggest Loser is making me angrier and angrier. I think that so much of the show is just that: show. Now to some degree that is appropriate given that it is, in fact, a show that is meant for entertainment purposes. However, I think that the Biggest Loser has elevated itself to something more than a show.

The Biggest Loser is a brand. The Biggest Loser is a phenomenon. And the Biggest Loser has appointed itself a force to educate the ignorant, huddled masses about how to lose weight. Here's a part of the problem, though: not all of us are as ignorant as they think. In fact, I don't think that many of us are. Maybe I overestimate America, but I don't think so.

Do you think we don't know that those burgers and fries are not wise choices? Last night on the show, they administered a quiz. At least one contestant (often many) could answer every question correctly. Many times, being overweight is not about knowledge or the lack thereof -- there are emotional reasons too. While educating the public is a noble goal, the way to educate them is not to insist they get a Biggest Loser Know Your Number (TM) test or buy some other Biggest Loser product. This annoys me. Believe it or not, you can get healthy without the help of Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper. Most WL bloggers can attest to this.

It also annoys me the lengths to which they go to push the contestants. I mean, if they are lazy, they need pushed. But let's face it: being in the gym is getting most of these contestants out of their comfort zone. It isn't necessary to push them to the point where they puke or pass out or get stress fractures. I have problems with the lack of respect for people's physical abilities or limitations. The morbidly obese cannot and should not be expected to be doing ridiculous crazy things in the gym right away. I hope that I am misinterpreting things, but I don't think I am. I think that, if I am right, the doctors who allow this to happen are morally reprehensible.

Rant 2: Banquet Frozen Pie Ad
The other day I was reading People magazine, one of my guilty pleasures, when I came across this ad. Please forgive the crappy picture from my phone.

This is an ad for individual sized frozen fruit pies. These are new from Banquet. When I saw this picture, I thought "Man, what a messed up ad!" The more I thought about it, the more annoyed/angry I got!

Here are some of my concerns:
  1. Do we really need to bribe kids to do homework?! Really?! This is their responsibility!!! No bribery should be necessary.
  2. Suppose that there is something you need to bribe someone to do. Teaching someone - especially a child - to use food as a reward is just terrible. As someone who has issues with food, teaching children to use food as a reward is something I really hope to and intend to avoid if I ever have kids.
  3. These pies have 370 calories each. Is that really a snack?! Or "bribery" sized?! And are they seriously not going to share this pie with each other? (i.e., do they each need their own?)
The list could go on and on. Suffice it to say I got really angry about this ad, but I will stop here.

So, those are a few of my grievances. I am not sure why I am worry about these things. Is this anger justified? Am I just really upset/frustrated and that is causing my anger? Is this pride/overconfidence (i.e., my thinking I have this figured out and now imposing my superiority on other people)? I am not sure. It is something I need to think about. I think I am just angry with the flood of bad and deceptive advertising for unhealthy food and unhealthy choices. I am equally angry with the diet/fitness industry when they employ deceptive or manipulative advertising to get us to use their products or solutions. It is hard enough to lose weight without having to sift through misinformation and/or deceptive claims from people who are on both sides: those who want us fat and those who want us to use their products to get thin. I am just over them all.

You are all welcome to join me on my soapbox, or explain to me why it is not worth being on. I value your opinions. What do you guys think?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reclaiming and emptying my closet

As I lose weight, I am constantly amazed by some of the stuff I am finding in my closet -- some stuff I forgot existed, some stuff I had written off ever wearing again, and some stuff which were my go to clothes when I was a size 26 that is now even laughable to look at.

This outfit tells an amazing story. The first year I had my job, I went home for Christmas. On that trip, my mom, brother, and I took a trip to visit Pitt, my undergraduate alma mater. I stocked up on a bunch of clothes. The truth is, they did not have too many 2XLs, so I bought some XL stuff figuring it would work. Well, the truth is, it didn't work and the other truth is that it certainly didn't work after I gained another 20-40 lbs. Crap, now I had all of these beautiful, barely worn clothes that I could not wear!

There is one particular shirt that I bought that was really comfortable. It was a workout/breathable shirt that was amazingly soft. The problem is that although it was stretchy and I could wear it very comfortably, I looked like a stuffed sausage in it. There was no way I would ever wear that thing in public. Ever. Or so I thought.

Last spring, I tried this shirt on again after a long hiatus in the back of the closet. It fit! It didn't look totally amazing, but it looked passable as long as I wore a spanx shirt underneath. This picture that is shown above was taken on Sunday. No Spanx, and it is loose! This shirt I had written off as a possibility is now loose and can be worn in public with no problem!!

Tonight I did another trip through the closet, and got rid of another 2 garbage bags of clothes. While it is kind of sad to see them go, it is the right decision. I hope someone else can get good use out of them.

There is one thing I keep though: a single pair of size 26 pants that I used to wear. I don't want to forget or minimize where it is that I've come from.

Weigh in

This week I weighed in at 233.4. Again, I am not doing much to work actively toward my goals. I am not making amazing choices in the food department all the time, but apparently I am making enough good choices and controlling the portions on the rest of the choices to make some downward progress on the scale. That is the lowest I have ever weighed in while on WW (although, I am not really "on" WW as I mentioned - I wonder when I will get my mojo back?).

This week's weigh in puts me at a total of exactly 66 lbs. lost. I am really proud of that. This means I have lost 22% of my body weight. In addition, I have significantly changed the composition of my body so that it is much leaner than had I just lost 66 lbs. through diet alone. The working out and the strength training have helped me to build muscle mass and have helped to fuel my overall health, which is something I am really proud of. My mental health is worlds better, although I still do have a hard time sometimes. My spiritual health is probably better too, although this is probably the area with the most room for improvement now. Overall I am in a much better place than I was when I started all of this. That is something to be proud of.


My tooth is infected. I am scheduled for a root canal on Thursday. I am hopeful that the antibiotic that the dentist gave me will mean that I will make a dent in the infection and that I will be out of pain permanently soon. Last night was a huge improvement; after not being able to sleep for several days without waking up every 15 minutes - 1 hr, getting an entire night of uninterrupted sleep was amazing. By next week I should be really back in the game. HURRAY!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mixed News

Thank you very much for the support you offered me on the last post. I really appreciate it. There are so many things I appreciate about the kind words offered on this blog and in e-mails and texts and FB messages from you guys.

There are two groups of people who read this blog. First, there are the people who I have met online many of whom also are trying to overhaul their health and to lose weight. I very much appreciate these friendships because I know that you get "it". I don't know what "it" is, but "it" includes things like a super-unhealthy relationship to food, a propensity to binge, eating in secret, struggling in a size-ist world, etc. The things that normal sized people with regular "I eat because I'm hungry" relationships with food don't know about and don't deal with. It is helpful not to feel alone and not to feel judged by you all, and more than that to feel very supported by your friendship and our shared struggle to redefine and reframe our relationship with food.

The second group of people who read this blog are those I actually know or have known in real life. The vast majority of you are healthy-sized and have healthy relationships with food. It is really putting myself out there sometimes to talk as candidly as I do about my struggles to get healthy -- with eating, with bingeing, with depression, and so on. I appreciate knowing that you all support me even though your relationship with food is in a very different place. I find that the openness and transparency helps me to remain on track, and also in some small way I hope it helps you to understand how complicated the world of disordered eating can be. It's not as simple as "eat more and move less". There are so many mental/emotional etc things going on too.

Here is an update, and it contains mixed news.
  • My toothache continued. It was usually just a lowgrade "ouch" and it didn't affect my ability to eat until yesterday. Yes, there were periods of sharp "OMG I want to pass out" pain, but they usually lasted about 15 minutes and I could get them to go away by brushing my teeth and/or Anbesol and/or a salt water rinse. Until last night. Last night the pain was relentless, I could not eat, and I could not get the pain to stop for anything -- not even a Lortab. I was googling around and learned that my problem might be a tooth abscess and so I started some of the homeopathic remedies I learned about to treat them. I had a really hard time sleeping, waking up at first every 15 minutes, then every 30 minutes, and finally every hour or so until about 4 AM. At that point, I was able to sleep until around 8 AM. Sure enough, when I woke up this morning, my abscess had popped (they will form a head like a zit and then the gross infection stuff will come out) and my tooth has not hurt much since then. I am so glad I have a dentist appointment on Monday.
  • My food choices the last few days have been poor, but I have not binged. For example, I ate cheese fries yesterday for lunch. However, I did not do my old tricks of "today is blown because I ate cheese fries, so I might as well eat _____ and _____ and ____ too".
  • The scale is holding relatively steady, and I am retaining water. I have been at 235 +/- 4 lbs for 90+ days now. I am glad not to be gaining weight, but I do wish I had it more together and I was doing what it takes to lose weight.
  • I have exercised as usual. I think this is key in my not gaining weight; I am sure I would have blown up if I did not do a lot of exercise.
So, there it is. Thanks for checking on me. While I don't have any great "Man I am kicking tail!!" news, I don't have any "I'm in the depths of despair news" either. And today the high is only 80 and the weather is perfect for biking. I might bike down to campus to see the crazy excitement that is going on with the game if we win. Man, there would be out and out pandemonium. It would be super exciting. GO HOGS!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Today as I mentioned I felt crappy. Last night I just could not sleep for more than an hour, waking up very often because of a toothache and a bad headache. Today I still had a headache, I felt slightly achy, and I just felt very emotionally off. I went to work, did my best, had my meetings, and finally ended up leaving at around 12:45 to come home and sleep and try to get better and get some more work done.

I knew I was on edge. I wasn't sure why. I ended up going on a premeditated binge. It was gross and terrible. And the funny thing is as I was standing in line at Target with my pulsing headache and basket full of peanut butter M+Ms, chip dip, and pretzels on my way to get a burger, I knew I would feel like trash after I ate all of this stuff. However for some reason I wanted to eat all the stuff so badly that I did it. And, sure enough, I felt like trash emotionally after I ate all the stuff. And having to clean up the trash after I took a nap was just like a slap in the face, reminding me of my failure.

I am trying to understand not only what causes these binges, but also to figure out what I can do instead of actually following through with them. I know they are bad news, so why do I do them? They remind me of Romans 7:15.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.


Today I want to eat and eat and eat. I don't feel good. I was up several times last night with a headache and toothache so I am tired too. Not my best day. I hope I make it through, and get a lot of good sleep tonight and don't sabotage myself on the eating front. We will see.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Transparency and Relating to Each Other

One of the main reasons I love blogs is that I really identify with so many of you in so many different ways. When I started this journey to get healthy (for the second and I truly hope final time), I felt like a failure. However, in reading many people’s healthiness blogs I realized that I was not alone, that change was possible, and that gastric bypass and some expensive/gimmicky program like Nutrisystem or MRC is not required to lose weight. I felt hope. Realizing I was not alone was such a valuable lesson for me and proved to be a turning point in my life. I rarely encountered people who were 100+ lbs. overweight and candid about their weight related struggles – until I “met” many of you through your blogs.

The other day, I talked to a friend that I rarely see and but I like a lot. It was funny, when I was at a conference in May I think I ran into him/her twice – both times for just a second. One of the times he/she saw me I was just bawling my eyes out in public; in retrospect I believe I had already begun to sink into the quicksand that is depression although I did not realize it and was not up to my neck at this point – probably just my waist. I was embarrassed to be seen like this, and disappointed we did not get to catch up (we see each other only a few times a year).

Turns out that during this time this person also decided to take a hiatus from social networking. Now this is something I have always kind of wanted to do, but never been willing to give up especially with my loneliness issues and lack of friends here. Sadly, social networks were one of the precious few ways I got social interaction and that was too important for me to give up; it’s not like I had any sort of “real” life that was getting shortchanged because of my online one.

Anyway…all this to say that last weekend this person made a rare appearance on Facebook chat. I just briefly messaged him/her just to say hi and see how he/she was doing. It was the most bizarre conversation as almost anything he/she said I could have said. At one point I was seriously like, “Get out of my head!”

In the last 6 months, depression has ravaged both of our lives and neither of us have gotten almost anything done in our professional lives (which are also quite similar). We have both felt like we are trying to stay put and not lose ground against a swiftly moving current – forget about making it to the point upstream where our careers need to go. It was the most bizarre thing. I could almost complete this person’s sentences, and I felt as though he/she could have completed mine.

One of the similarities in our stories is that my friend and I were both so skeptical about going on anti-depressants, but they ended up working for both of us. If you struggle with depression and a medical professional suggests this option, please consider it and don’t dismiss it. It can really work – in my case, it has been instrumental in changing my life. In just 30 days I noticed a remarkable difference, and others have too and have even commented about it here on my blog.

I write this to say the following: you are not alone. Whatever crappy shitstorm of life you find yourself in, there are others who are struggling through something similar just like you are. Hang on and don’t give up.

For problems that are hard and secrets that are shameful, sometimes just knowing that you’re not the only one struggling with something like you're going through is a first step. I wish you luck in finding others like you, and success in overcoming your problems.

While I have not overcome disordered eating habits – particularly an unnatural, unhealthy emotional attachment to food and a tendency to binge when sad, lonely, or frustrated – I am making progress on this front and overall things are easier. I still struggle and some days I give in and make bad decisions, but I am worlds better than I was when I started this in April 2009. There are people who struggle with chronic pain – from my experience with my back/SI issues, I have a small taste of what that is like (and it absolutely sucks). There are others who are depressed, and have emerged on the other side. And I know that it is possible to either get over many of these issues or at least manage them better.

We are not alone. We will make it. Realizing this and acknowledging this is helpful for me in making positive, sustainable changes in my life.

Thank you unnamed friend for helping me realize that I am not alone. There are other normal people out there who struggle with depression too. I wish there were not such a ginormous stigma attached to depression and that people actually talked to each other about it. But hey, as people who were/are morbidly obese and struggle with disordered eating, we know nothing about having shameful secrets and secret lives, right?! Ha.

Here’s to being transparent…acknowledging problems is the most fundamental step in addressing and fixing them. This is just one of the many many things that I am learning on this journey to make a healthier and better me.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Priorities and Having a Life

I have written before how the intense and crushing loneliness I have felt here has helped to fuel my depression, and how my depression has helped to fuel my unhealthiness and poor eating habits. I have great news to report on all of these fronts.

After a serious re-evaluation of my life this summer, I decided that changes were not optional. I had to find a way to either find friends here where I live or move on to new pastures, with the hope and belief that they would be greener. The good news is that I am starting to find friends here! There are figurative green pastures to accompany the real life beautiful scenery in Arkansas!! I am so grateful and relieved!! Another great thing is that one of my students lately is really en fuego. He is doing really well and we are making rapid progress on his research. This has meant that I've stayed late to work with him twice this week.

While both of these things are GREAT -- seriously, I am unspeakably delighted at the positive implications that these developments have on my mental health and my career -- they come at a cost. I have missed yoga twice this week. On Tuesdays, I struggle to find a way to eat between work, when I go to the gym for water aerobics, and a Bible study I am attending. I can either wait until I get home at 9:30-10 (HA!! you're kidding, right?!), eat the unhealthy (and usually not filling but usually delicious) snacks that are provided at the study, stop and get something but be late to the study, or leave work around 4:15 to get something to eat before going directly to the gym. None of these options are great, and I have yet to figure something else out.

In my life I have gotten into this routine that I like and feel comfortable with, exercising 6 days a week usually for an hour or two a day. With hints of a social life -- seriously, I did things with other people after work three times this week which literally is a record since I moved here 3 years ago -- it is not feasible to fit my new budding social life into my current schedule. Something has to go. This week, it was TV, two days of working out, to a large degree the healthiness of the food that I ate, and sleep. While I am willing to give up TV, the rest are harder to give up.

Please understand I am so so grateful that things in my personal and professional life are going well, especially after this summer where I considered chucking both in the depths of depression. However, my new social life leaves me with choices I haven't confronted in awhile and that aren't easy. I am confident I will figure out how to handle this, but for now I am feeling slightly overwhelmed and a bit unclear how to balance everything...but this is a good problem to have.

Struggling, Maintaining or What?

The last week or two have been tough for me in some ways. Tough on the eating front, yes, but just tough altogether with respect to my healthiness mindset. Please let me explain.

I wrote that last week, I had a bad week of eating. On the Saturday that I wrote the post, I wrote about how glad I was for a chance at a fresh start the next day. And I really was. And I really meant it.

What I didn't write though was that I think on some level I treated that day like it was my last day of freedom, even though I didn't realize it at the time. That Saturday afternoon/evening, I ordered pizza. There were several reasons - I didn't have anything at home I wanted to eat, it was a football Saturday and I didn't want to leave to get groceries or something from a restaurant - but when I reflect on it, I think the main reason was just that I wanted a last day of freedom. The special I usually order when I get pizza was no longer available (boo), so I ordered a new special...that had cheese bread included. Excellent healthy choice, right? Not so much. The next day - the day of my official weigh in - I was up. By a LOT! I was up to 239.8!! I have lost this weight in a few days, but why do I keep doing this to myself?! This is classic self sabotage.

This week I really wanted to pack my lunches more. It is easier to track that way, and it is also a wiser financial choice. I only did this one day. There is no logical reason for this, especially given that I made enough food to pack for the week on Sunday. I also ate out several times for dinner (although many of these times, I believe it was the only option).

I started out tracking for the week, but I stopped around Tuesday. To be honest, the headache thing really frustrated and annoyed me. When I pack my lunches they are huge -- HUGE -- in terms of the volume they occupy! They take up a ton of space in my lunchbox and nothing else will fit in there. However, I was left hungry and I refuse to deal with headaches. The answer is obviously to get a bigger lunchbox and/or find better/more filling foods to pack - but almost every single one of the foods I ate Monday was designated a WW "filling food"!

I have written before about how my drive/motivation to lose weight waxes and wanes periodically. Here is a picture of my weight since I started this quest to get healthy.

My first WW hiatus was at the end of October. I ended up gaining weight (10ish lbs.) over the holidays and first set of problems with my back/SI joint (which I mention because it really inhibited my ability to exercise). In May I also took a hiatus from WW and had more problems with my back/SI joint, and I ended up getting depressed. I gained 4 lbs. and have yet to lose those back even though I have been flirting with being on WW again since early August!!

Sometimes I feel burned out and just peace out on losing weight for awhile. Now to be clear, this doesn't mean I want to live unhealthily. I still want to exercise, I mostly want to eat healthy (although this week I have totally sucked at this), and I don't want to gain weight -- but I just don't have it all together enough to focus on losing weight. I am starting to feel like this again, which is quite different than the "I want to lose 10 lbs in the next 2 months even though I hate those time/weight goals!" I felt just last week.

What is this? Is it resignation? Frustration in disguise? The first sign of slipping? I feel comfortable at this weight? I am not sure, but I feel like I need to figure this out.

I don't believe 235 is a healthy weight for me. I am still ~47% body fat which is way too high. However, I just don't know if I have what it takes right now, mentally, to lose weight. I cannot gain it back though. That just is not a good option at all.

Does anyone have any insights or related personal experience to share? I would appreciate it. It will help me as I process through this. Maintenance might be enough for now, but I am determined to reach a healthy weight -- even if it takes 5 years -- eventually. I don't think staying 235 forever will work for me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Living Beyond my Means

You know how you see people who are living life on their credit cards or living a lifestyle they clearly can't afford? I feel like that. With food.

Here is a screenshot of my Weight Watchers tracker from a few weeks ago. It is tough to see the details, but if you click on the picture it will enlarge. The main point is this: I am allotted 29 points daily (I know it is a lot, especially for you lighter people living on 20 points per day; I have no idea how you do it!). If you look at my points consumption, it is 35+ points everyday, with three days 46+!! (Note, I didn't track my dinner on Saturday, but I think it was literally about 25 points although this was 10 days ago and I don't remember the details -- but I do remember that I ended up close to negative if not negative for the week). And for those keeping score, that week I lost 3.8 lbs.

The goal of that week was simply to track. I was not that worried about whether I went over on points, although I did find the responsibility/accountability of tracking did often cause me to make better choices than I would have had I not been tracking.

This week I decided that I wanted to track and I wanted to do a better job staying within my allocated 29 points. I find that I really can't. As I mentioned yesterday I watned to do a better job packing lunches. Today I packed my lunch and it was good. After lunch, I had just eaten 15.5 points.

It is also worth mentioning that I had carrots in the morning (0 points) and had a large peach in the afternoon (1 point). For some reason, I had a headache all afternoon. It was excruciating and finally by 4:30 I had to leave work because it was so bad. In fact, my headache was so bad that I didn't even exercise tonight (which I rarely skip), instead choosing to come home and take a nap. When I woke up 1.25 hours later I still had a headache and it was even a little worse.

I had 1.5 bananas when I woke up and was surprised to find that almost instantly my headache got better. Wow.

I think that the points are miscalibrated for my body. I know many of the ways that my body manifests its hunger. This one was a surprise to me -- yes, I get headaches if I get too hungry, but I ate a lot of food and I also had a peach after my headache started so I thought hunger could not be the reason for the headache. But I guess it was, even though I didn't feel hungry (no growling stomach, etc).

I am still learning about my food and my reaction to hunger. I need to find the place that adequately balance getting the fuel my body needs, but not eating so much that I don't lose weight and get to a more healthy weight for my size.

For the non-WW people, one of the features of WW is that they have 35 points that you can use throughout the week. The idea is that you can use them to splurge -- a big meal out or something. However I basically treat those WW weekly 35 points not as a reserve for treats, but as a part of my regular food "budget", and it is not uncommon for me to be out of those points 2 or 3 days into the week. Another feature of WW is that you earn points as you engage in exercise. I also go through most if not all of my activity points -- I typically earn between 40 and 65 per week. I am not sure how reasonable it is to go through all these points. However, I find that these extra points are what make WW doable for me in the long term. It is amazing to me how I can actually eat foods that I enjoy and not feel too inhibited or like WW is cramping my style if I exercise and just make wiser choices.

I am still trying to figure out how many points I should eat. I honestly do not believe 29 daily points is enough for me. I am 31, very active, and 5'8". Does anyone have any insight as to how many points I should eat? I don't want to feel like I'm overdrawing my points account everyday by going severely over my points, but at the same time time I don't want to eat not enough food and get headaches.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Help Please

I want to do better about packing my lunch this week. I would appreciate your help in suggesting meals and recipes that are healthy and either freeze well or would keep for an entire week in the fridge and be easy to pack. Thank you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I want a do over

Do you ever do something that you think will be amazing and/or that you build up really high expectations for only to be completely....underwhelmed? It's not a great feeling.

That would describe my eating this week. The week got off to a rough start with the holiday weekend. We had a welcome back to school picnic on Sunday, and those are always rough. I have to say everyone really rose to the occasion on this potluck bringing delicious (but not always healthy) treats instead of lame-o bags of chips. I definitely indulged. I didn't feel like it rose to the level of an out and out binge, but it was indulgent. I also took home some potato salad (probably three servings worth) and I ate it all that evening. It reminded me of the days of bingeing in secret and I do not like that feeling. It was bad.

I thought I would get back to tracking everything on Monday. I forget exactly what happened, but I ended up just not feeling like it. I also didn't feel like it Tuesday. Then I figured "Why bother this week?" AKA, the downward spiral. The worst part is that in retrospect it really wasn't even worth it. There was nothing that I had that I was like "You know, it was totally worth the ____ calories to have this _____." I had a lot of good stuff but nothing that was absolutely amazing or noteworthy or worth losing a week over.

Wednesday I had the closest thing I have had to a binge in awhile. It is probably the weirdest one I have ever had, or at least the weirdest one I can remember. Usually when I binge, I know why. I am sad or tired or feeling deprived. I feel like I am giving in but then it's like I lose control, or more accurately I feel like I surrender to food. I take a back seat and some weird primal desire to eat takes over. Wednesday I ate a ton -- I ate an entire calzone. I made red velvet cookies and some cream cheese frosting, and I ate half the cookies and made a serious dent in the frosting. The food was very much like a binge. However, my head was totally in control. It was like I was deciding to eat the food -- it was a willful (albeit poor) choice. I don't know how to describe it but to say that I was feeling some sense of agency over the food situation instead of being a hostage to food like I typically feel during a binge. In a weird dysfunctional way it was a nice feeling to feel like I had some control over the food, although I still do wonder why I did make such poor food choices.

The next morning I was up 4 lbs. It was not "real" weight, but I was like "OK, this has to stop." I threw away the rest of the cookies I made, and washed the frosting down the drain and threw away the sugar I bought to make it. I don't feel good about wasting food, but I feel less stable having it around the house and was not even confident I could take the food to school to share without breaking into it on the way to I tossed it.

Over the rest of the week, I made more poor decisions but basically the weight is all gone and I expect to be even for the week -- nothing lost or gained. We will see for sure tomorrow.

I am trying to process through why this all happens, and what to do about it so that I reach a happy medium on how I can handle this from here on out.
  • I think I need to have a realistic plan on how to deal with holidays and/or high stakes food challenges like potlucks. I need to find a way to allow myself treats there and to not feel deprived, but not something that is so lackadaisical that it will spiral into wasting a whole week not eating healthily. I think this is likely to be something beyond just the extra 35 points I am allowed for WW.
  • I need to figure out something that won't have me baking very often. Making an entire batch of cookies is a bad idea unless there is a very specific plan on what they are for -- a plan that isn't "eat them all until you are disgusted with yourself".
  • Daily weighing for me is really helpful. With my industrial engineering training, I am familiar with the concept of variance and how daily fluctuations happen as a result of hormones, salt intake, hydration levels, and other stuff -- that doesn't bother me. However, seeing the +4 lbs overnight is something that scared me straight. Had I not seen that the morning following my faux-binge, I am virtually certain I would have finished the cookies I made and made a further dent in the frosting.
  • While I love the concept of the weekly "reset" on WW the day of your weigh in, I feel like this week I used that as an excuse to waste time eating crap for an entire week rather than just getting it together and starting over ASAP. I need to figure out why I allowed myself to use this as an excuse.
I feel like lately I am in some really weird place. I feel like I take 10 steps forward and then 9 steps back. While the net result is progress, it has been REALLY slow and there is definitely no one sabotaging me but myself. I am not sure how much credit to give myself for continuing to make progress while working through issues vs. how hard I should be on myself for not battening the hatches and just hunkering down and doing the work (i.e., should I be proud of the net one step forward, or angry at myself for the 9 steps back?).

I would still really love to lose about 10 lbs. before I go to Disney World. This will not happen unless I am more consistent. Here is to a new week - one where I am back in control rather than surrendering my power to the food.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Do you ever have a "scared straight" moment? One where you get a sobering reality check of where you are or where you're headed?

I had several when I was overweight, but for some reason although they scared me -- terrified me even -- they didn't scare me straight. For some reason, I was either unwilling and/or unable to change my habits and sever my emotional relationship with food and chose to go on "living" life as someone who was morbidly obese. It seems terribly childish and selfish now, but for some reason it seemed logical in my head at the time.

Anyway, yesterday when I got to work, I saw someone who I don't see that often walking across the street to get from the place where we park to the building where we work. If I had to guess this person's age, he/she is probably about 45-55. This person walked as though he/she were about 80. Reason? The overweight waddle. The place where I was headed. It was a re-scared straight moment.

This person parks with a handicapped sticker. Although I don't know all the details, I am 90% sure the reason he/she has the handicapped sticker is because of weight-related problems like bad knees and the fact that it's hard for him/her to walk. It makes me sad because I know this person has struggled so much with his/her weight, going so far as to have two liposuctions. However, his/her struggle with weight continues. It provides further evidence to support my theory that there are no quick fixes.

Seeing this person struggle makes me sad because I know that this is the path I was headed down. In fact, obesity compromised my quality of life severely. I could not walk up even one flight of stairs without getting winded. Everything I did took enormous energy. I gave up on mustering it for many things. Walking around to enjoy things like a county fair or amusement park was a chore. Not to mention that I would likely not fit in a ride even if I walked around an amusement park. I think there is no amount of money you can put on being able to live a life with your full mobility; one where it is comfortable to walk around pain free and as much as you want; one where you don't need a handicapped sticker and where your knees and back don't kill you with every step.

Now being on my way to the "other side" -- the one where I fit in all restaurant booths, where I don't impulsively sneak food, the one where I love to ride my bike and enjoy all of the outdoor activities available where I live, the one where I am rarely self-concious about how I look -- I want to say "There is so much more for you and your life. And it is possible to change. And I know it is hard. Wow, it is hard. But it is worth it."

But that is one of the most important parts of this journey -- people have to realize this themselves. Only then will the change happen.

Quick Fixes

As an American, I am as guilty or guiltier than 95% of my fellow Americans (and probably western societies) of wanting a quick fix. With respect to the diet and exercise thing, though, I am convinced there are no safe, sustainable quick fixes.

I was watching Oprah at one point when she was having a show about weight issues. Truth be told, in some ways I identify a lot with Oprah. She is so successful in so many areas of her life, but she struggles mightily with weight. She has become the poster child of the yo yo diet movement. On one particular show I watched of hers, she basically said the following (I wish I could provide you with the exact quote, so please forgive my paraphrase):
I am one of the richest people in the world. I have spent a ton of money on trying to lose weight. There are no magic pills or diet products which will magically make you lose weight and allow you to continue eating whatever you want. Trust me, I have the money and if I could buy this mythical product I would. And please save your money, if I find this magic pill I will tell you about it. But it doesn't exist.
Today I was in the hallway at work. One of the people I don't see much paid me a random compliment, which I appreciated. "It's like you're a completely different person. You don't even look the same anymore." She proceeded to tell me that she was going to start the HCG diet. I don't know much about it, but I think that anything that promises such huge results and requires such an immediate and drastic overhaul is not such a great recipe for success and is unlikely to be sustainable. However, that is not the point of this post.

The person told me "You know, I have done WW before, but I just don't have the patience. I don't want to have the choice to eat whatever I want." For me, that is the hardest but most worth it point of WW, counting calories, or just living healthy. It is all about balance, but I do enjoy and appreciate the fact that I can eat whatever I want, albeit not as often and often not in the quantities I would like.

As I have written before, I don't think this is a journey with a finish line. I don't think this is something you can try hard at for 2 weeks or 2 months or even 2 years and then just do a victory lap. I think this -- healthy living and staying at a reasonable weight -- is something you do for the rest of your life. This is why the phase after losing is called "maintenance." Maintaining your weight takes effort, just like maintaining your car or your house. It isn't autopilot.

It makes me simultaneously sad and angry when people think they will do something magical and all this weight will fall off and life will be glorious. It really just doesn't work like that. Losing weight takes an emotional commitment and changes to the way you eat and/or move. There are no quick fixes. Period. And even if there were, I am not sure how that would work emotionally. It seems like that would cause secondary issues and unintended consequences.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Today I am reveling in being proud of myself.
  • I am so much healthier than I was when I started this journey for the second (and I truly hope final) time.
  • I have lost about 65 lbs.
  • I have learned a lot about myself, how strong I can be, where I have areas of vulnerability, and places where there is room for improvement.
  • I am proud that -- even though it was a very hard and very humbling step -- I recognized that it was ok to go on antidepressants and have followed through on taking them. It has completely changed my outlook on life, and for me was absolutely the right step to take, in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • I have shown I can change.
  • I have learned so much about my body. I can now recognize when muscles are tight and stretch them before they turn into debilitating back aches.
  • I am capable of so much physically now than I ever thought possible. An hour of Zumba is now one of my favorite things; I used to leave 15 minutes into class because it killed my feet and I thought I was going to die. I now can easily lift weights, and am still working on progress toward the gun show. I now enjoy yoga and am starting to believe that I might eventually flexible enough to twist myself into some of the more pretzel-y positions they do at yoga (and, BTW I can touch my toes easily and have been able to for quite some time).
  • I have such a broader picture of health now. Where I started off thinking health was about weighing less, I have evolved my thinking about this and learned it is about fueling my body with foods that are good for it, exercising and pushing myself, paying good attention to my mental health and my most recent revelation that I must consider and improve my spiritual health. I am beginning to recognize the interconnection between these aspects of health -- physical, mental, and spiritual.
  • Today my blood pressure was 114/72. One of the things in the path to scaring me straight was a visit to the doctor in about February 2009 where my blood pressure was about 150/110.
  • Yesterday I biked 31 miles at once. It was my longest bike ride, and it was on a cruiser. I made it further up one of the main hills on my ride than I had ever done before (usually I walk it up my bike).
  • Today I went to Sam's to get produce. It is Sunday, so the sample pushers were out in full force. I had one sample: ham and cheese rolled up together. I wasn't really interested in anything else (even though I thought several things would taste good, I thought to myself "Nah, it's not worth it" and subsequently thought "OMG, could by attitude toward food really be changing that much?!?!" and almost cried tears of happiness and pride right there in Sam's Club - and I am not exaggerating).
  • I am proud that I am capable of recognizing my accomplishments. One of the main themes that has emerged from my counseling is that I am so incredibly hard on myself, quick to dismiss successes, and this can lead to me getting angry at myself and eventually depressed. I am starting to recognize and celebrate these successes more easily. I am optimistic that I will in time be able to do this in other areas of my life as well.
This morning I was up 1.4 lbs (or something like that) over last week. I have to admit, it was surprising and kind of disappointing because I once again tracked everything and this week I was even within my points (albeit barely). Instead of letting it get me down, I identified things that I know will help me next week (packing lunches and eating out less, for example). I know that I am doing the right things and things that are healthy for me. Those are the things I can control, and eventually the number will follow. And that, too, is something I am proud of myself for recognizing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

My facebook status

I thought I would document it here, since yesterday was a hard day and to show you how I am really starting to feel like myself again.
What a great day - brother's birthday, great progress at Prabuddha's research meeting, Hector passed his qualifying exam, Zumba, 15 miles of biking, Blue Man group, amazing weather, and now a three day weekend!! Every Friday should be like this!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Things are clicking again

This morning I was down to 233. The scale is really moving, mostly because I am working out hard and because I am tracking my food again. It feels nice to have this under control again for now.

This summer I felt like I was treading water with this healthy living thing. Sometimes even that is hard. Now I feel like I am swimming again though and making headway. It really doesn't even feel like an enormous effort. It is amazing to me what a difference the chemicals in our brains can make.

♥ ♥ Seratonin ♥ ♥
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