Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Inner Fat Girl Lives

You know the saying "No news is good news"? It tends not to be true when weight loss/healthy living bloggers bow out of the blogosphere for awhile.

My absence over the last week was accompanied by a 10 lb. gain from last Wednesday to Sunday. I don't know what to say except that I started by allowing myself little treats. Then I stopped tracking. Then the wheels fell off and I went over the side of the proverbial cliff.

What do I mean? Well, for example, making a 9x13" carrot cake for Christmas and eating 75% of it in 24 hours before finally throwing the rest away. Copious, copious amounts of eating and throwing caution to the wind. Stuff that is in no way normal and most people would just not understand (and, I am almost certain, would be universally ashamed of).

Now, please don't misunderstand what I'm about to say because I'm not exactly sure how to articulate it. Here it goes: I am learning to embrace failure. It's not that I like it per se and I certainly don't seek it out. However, for me it is probably the best learning tool I have and when I learn the most about myself with respect to the healthy living/decision making thing. Therefore, I embrace it and try to squeeze every lesson possible out of a failure. Hence, I am chalking the gain up to a learning experience and not beating myself up about it.

After this holiday's collosal failure learning experience, I'm easing back on to the healthy eating road. I've been making mostly wise decisions, while still allowing myself some leeway as it is still the holidays. I've come down from my week-high of 239.2 (conveniently on my weigh-in day, sigh) and this morning weighed in at 233.4. I've gone to the gym the last few days. I've finished and/or tossed most of the leftover junk. Starting next week with my new WW week, I believe I will go back to tracking in earnest. For me it is just too hard with holiday parties and the lack of structure with my time right now.

While I did have a few moments of panic and "this is not worth it" upon seeing the huge gains last week, I am proud of myself for getting back on the proverbial wagon. More importantly, I probably actually believe now more than ever that this IS worth it and that my health should remain a priority -- not just because we're entering the new year, but because I am worth it and healthiness is something you don't usually appreciate until it's gone. I, on the other hand, am trying not to take my health for granted, and to enjoy every moment of health that I have.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gap Pants

When I grew up, our family had very little money. We had what we needed (e.g., food and shelter), but we did not have money for many things -- even some things like haircuts sometimes. And we certainly never had designer clothes! I always wanted an Esprit bag or clothes from the Gap but we could never afford them so I don't think I ever really even asked for these things.

As someone on my own, even as I began to be able to afford nicer things, I usually could not fit into them so once again I could not have the clothes I wanted growing up. It's not like I was super torn up about it, but it was disappointing and somewhere in the back of my mind I still wanted them.

I was in grad school the first time I lost weight. I got down to 229.5 as I've written a lot in the last few weeks. I remember one time I made a trip during grad school to the outlet malls. I was shocked to find that Gap made XXL clothes! I got a pair of yoga pants and a workout shirt. I loved them, even though I did not do yoga at the time. I used them mostly for lounging around in, and they became some of my favorite clothes. I was very sad when I grew so fat that I could not wear them anymore.

In fact, along with two pairs of jeans that were my favorites during the later part of grad school, these Gap pants were some of the clothes I was most excited about reclaiming as I lost weight. Awhile back (probably about 8 months ago), the pants fit. I love them, wear them pretty frequently, and still get compliments on them.

Saturday I wore these pants to go to Zumba class. Guess what? These pants are getting loose and I had to hike them up a few times for fear of losing them. I think these pants are now moved into the yoga/lounging only category, and out of the category of pants that can be worn to anything that requires hip shaking and/or jumping. In another 5-10 lbs, these pants will have to be retired for good.

While I will be sad to see them go, I am delighted that I will soon be able to buy whatever I want from the Gap because size will no longer be an issue. I love these pants that I think that I might keep them because of all that they mean to me, joining the pair of size 26 pants I keep as a reminder of where I started out on this fitness journey. Or, maybe I will think that is silly and they will join the mountains of bags of clothes I have donated this year because they are now too big. We will see. While I am sad to see them go, I am glad I am about to make it into new size territory that I haven't seen since high school and very early college (pre-freshman 15...and sophomore 20...and you get the idea).

Physical Therapy...blah

I am back in physical therapy. My SI issues have re-emerged and it makes standing and sitting (mostly sitting) uncomfortable. The good news is that I don't have shooting pain that causes problems sleeping like I did last time I struggled with this. The bad news is that it is still uncomfortable and does impede my ability to exercise somewhat.

I have insurance that covers most (80%) of the therapy. I like the physical therapists I go to, and am confident they will be able to "fix" me. I am grateful to be able to live in a place with advanced medical care, and to have a job that is not physical so that I can rehab this better and lie on the floor to work when I need to.

The other day I was walking through Walmart and there was a girl who was between the size I am now and the size I was when I started -- probably about the size I was the first time I had these back/SI issues a bit more than a year ago. She was bent over and stocking shelves. I know nothing about this girl, but if I had to guess her healthcare is either crappy or nonexistent, and she's probably not getting paid that much. I thought to myself, "What if that were me and I could not only not afford to go to PT, but I probably also could not afford to take time off work to get better? What if I worked a job that made my condition worse?" It was a reminder to be grateful for what I have, even when my back hurts and it feels like life is a challenge. Things can always be worse, and there is a lot to be grateful for.

Amazing Bike Ride

Today I went for a bike ride. It was 49 out, which is amazing given that it's just a week before Christmas. Biking at this time of the year would likely never happen in Ohio (where I grew up), but it was really nice to be able to bust out a quick 6 mile ride while listening to Christmas tunes. It felt really great, as it had been over a month since I'd been out on my bike (sadly).

Something about my bike ride was just amazing today. I felt incredibly strong. Perhaps it's that I *am* stronger. Perhaps those 5-7 lbs I've lost make a significant difference in being able to propel myself more efficiently. Perhaps I just had an amazing day. I'm not sure, but whatever it is, I'll take it! (and a healthy dose of it too, please...)

The trail where I ride is largely flat, but there are a couple of hills. I sailed up two of them with grace and ease (even in 3rd gear!). There is also a huge hill by my house that I have to ride down to get to the trail. Usually, I get about halfway up the hill on my way home and then walk the rest of the way. Today I decided "You WILL do this. You CAN do this and you SHOULD do this so you WILL do this!"

Not only did I make it up the hill on my bike, I downshifted only to 2nd gear, not even the easiest one! I felt like such a hoss. I am really becoming a cyclist. I was/am so proud.

Disappointing Weigh In

This week I weighed in at 229.6. The good news is that I'm down 0.4 lbs from last week. The frustrating news is that I'm not officially to the lowest weight I've been as an adult yet, even though I've seen it this week on the scale! While that in and of itself is disappointing, the reason I'm frustrated is that I tracked everything this week like a good little Weight Watcher.

To me this suggests two main things:
1. Perhaps I need to start weighing/measuring things again. Maybe the eyeballing method is not working out for me right now (my eyeballs are typically more generous than a measuring cup or scale).

2. The body will do things in its own time. I often say it, but that's because I'm largely reminding myself because as a competitive and largely high-achieving person. It is hard for me not to perform well or make goals, especially when I give it my all. That having been said: You cannot script weight loss. The body will lose weight when and how it wants to.

I can control my behaviors and choices (e.g., tracking food and exercising), but I can't control when and how my body releases the weight. And, honestly, doing the healthy behaviors is more important anyway given that this is not a sprint or race to lose the weight. This is about living a life that is healthy, enjoyable, and sustainable. As long as I'm making the lifestyle changes to support living a healthy life, who cares when I make if I make it to my goal weight in 18 months or 24? Even if the math says I could bust it out in 4 months with a very strict 1200 calorie diet, personally I don't think I could enjoy life by being the level of a food Nazi that it would take to do make it to my goal so quickly. And OMG I don't think I could ever live on just 1200 calories/day for the rest of my life. (Also, although the changes I've made and continue to make are driven primarily by health reasons and very little by aesthetics, I hear that losing weight more slowly will minimize the chances of loose skin which I think is gross and scary, so that's extra justification for my slow but steady method.)

This week already I am struggling. I have gone way over my points today and probably have blown my weekly points stash too. I don't really even know why. This week will be a challenge to balance the indulgences that traditionally come with holidays (which I have no intention of cutting out completely) with the wise choices that I know will help propel me achieve my health and fitness goals. No one said this journey was easy, and today I am feeling that for sure. This week is likely to be tough -- I can feel it already. Ugh, good thing I usually like challenges.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Losing Myself

DISCLAIMER - if reading about unhealthy food is a trigger for you, consider skipping this post
I wrote yesterday about how I no longer view food as good or bad. One of the things I have been adamant about this time around on the WL journey is that I would enjoy it. It is hard, yes, but I find that I enjoy the food I eat now much more than I ever enjoyed it when I was fat. It is weird. It is like my tastebuds are more sensitive now. It is also true that I no longer eat whatever I want whenever I want, so I have to make each treat count more if that makes sense.

A few weeks ago, I had the weirdest thing happen to me. It really freaked me out and I still haven't totally figured it out.

I had been eating clean for about a week. It started to feel really easy and natural. It was great. Just like a honeymoon period. Then, I started to get very odd cravings. I wanted lentils. I wanted milk. I craved apples. AWESOME!

Then I realized something -- I DIDN'T want a lot of stuff that I liked. I mean lentils sounded even better to me than cheese dip. Better than a burger. Better than red velvet cake. And more than that, none of those things even sounded good to me. Nowhere near as good as a nice glass of skim milk with a handful of almonds.

hold up a minute here.... WHAT?!?!

I am not going to lie. I freaked out. Seriously, I really honestly did. I ended up eating several of the things like cheese dip that I enjoy just to make sure I still liked them. They were not at all satisfying. I ate them anyways and ended up regretting it. It was as though my brain was trying to convince my tastebuds that cheese dip still was the end all/be all of food. They were not getting convinced.

I have to admit that this revelation was very sad.

One of the things I have been both concerned about and vigilant against is trading one form of disordered eating and food abuse (bingeing, emotional overeating, etc) for another (e.g., anorexia). Though I am not a psychologist or anyone with any sort of training in this area, I think I see a lot of this in the WL blogosphere. It makes me sad. I also don't think it is healthy or sustainable. In fact, in reading through my own archives some stunningly unhealthy patterns have emerged in my own behavior -- I used to work out 2 hours at a time almost 6 days a week. WTH?!? Not sustainable in real life. I am aiming for moderation in all areas, including exercise and food.

Feeling like I didn't enjoy my historical favorite foods made me feel like I was losing a little bit of myself. It was sudden and unexpected. I didn't like it, and OMG did I revolt. I didn't jump off the deep end but I will admit that it was one of the most unsettling feelings I had felt on this weight loss journey, and it was a hard obstacle to overcome.

I've come to recognize that sometimes I'm in the mood for a treat. Sometimes I'm not. And that is ok. Just because I don't want cheese dip all the time with incredible urgency doesn't mean I won't crave it sometimes or won't ever like it again. And when I do crave it, it isn't bad to have it.

Man, learning these lessons is hard. I feel like the work I did over the last six months has been so tedious and hard. During this time, I fluctuated within the same 5-7 lb window -- gaining and losing and gaining and losing. During this time, I've also encountered mental roadblocks and scaled them one by one. I now feel like it's been like clearing out a forest. Now a lot of the trees are down and the stumps are uprooted and moved out of the way. And now I can sail on down the scales for awhile until I hit the next thicket of issues that need worked through. Although I am physically losing myself and shedding the weight, I refuse to lose who I am and what makes me me. Because I like me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"Bad" vs. "Good" Foods

I've shared this before, but this is not the first time I have lost a significant amount of weight. I have never been a yo yo dieter, but I have lost a significant amount of weight one other time. I gained all of that weight back.

While that was a terrible experience, it is one I have learned a great deal from. I have learned (and am to some degree still learning) not to be judgmental of those who are fat. I have learned that I am an addict, and that I don't think I will ever be completely "cured" of my messed up relationship with food (even though I can manage it and largely control it). Mostly, I just don't want to be arrogant or prideful about weight loss because I have done that before -- only to fail and set myself up for a larger fall.

One of things I learned from the first time I lost weight was that food is not bad or good. The first time I lost weight, I had all foods neatly classified into foods I considered "good" and foods I considered "bad". For example, I considered bananas good and Twinkies bad. My thoughts on this have evolved significantly.

I no longer consider foods bad or good. Food has no intrinsic moral character. However, foods do have properties (nutritional and otherwise) that can make them better or worse choices, but foods themselves are not bad or good. Do you see the difference? I am not sure if I am articulating this well.

If I view food as bad or good, it means that if I ever have a brownie or Twinkie or some other "bad" food that I have failed. I think this is faulty thinking. In redefining my relationship with food, I want to be able to enjoy all kinds of foods -- even the "bad" ones occasionally.

I also think that dichotomous thinking -- having foods be either "bad" or "good" -- is faulty. For example, if you have read my blog for any amount of time you know that cheese is my favorite food. Is cheese "bad"? Well, it's not great. It has a ton of cholesterol and, depending on the type of cheese, saturated fat. That's admittedly bad. However, cheese has calcium and protein too. Thus I think a "bad" label for cheese is unfair. While it's not the best choice, it's not the worst choice either. There are shades of grey in the "good-ness" and "bad-ness" of food just like a lot of other things in life. Plus a life without cheese is not worth living would be significantly less enjoyable for me.

Finally, I am taking control of food instead of letting food control me. It is MY choice whether I eat a food or not. Now sometimes I make good choices. Sometimes I make bad choices. The good choices are getting more frequent and the bad ones more infrequent, but I still do make both good and bad choices. However by viewing each time I eat as an opportunity to make a series of choices, I get control. I am not powerless to food.

I wrote about how last week I had several Christmas parties. At most of them, I had foods that I would have considered "bad" the first time I lost weight. I looked all of my choices and picked one or two of my favorites from among them. I limited my portions on them. I felt completely satisfied.

In the past with my dichotomous thinking, I might have considered that a failure since I ate "bad" foods. Now, I consider that a win. My thinking on this has evolved: I believe you can still make great choices to eat "bad" foods.

Now I'm not saying that this is the approach that will work for everyone. I believe (and respect the fact) that everyone is different and respect each person's choices as long as they are healthy and honor the body. However, I've realized that I want the freedom to enjoy whatever I like. This freedom comes with responsibility. I can't eat as much as I want of the unhealthy foods that I enjoy without consequences, but I love that I still have the choice to eat whatever I want. For me, it has taken away the allure of the "bad" foods I used to consume so much of so often. I know that I can enjoy them, but I just choose to enjoy other things -- like being able to walk around without getting tired, like being able to shop in normal-sized clothing stores, and like not hating how I look in the mirror or in pictures -- more.

I did it

This morning the scale read 229.4. Lowest weight since sophomore year in college. I was delighted, but just supermotivated to press on. (Of course, I don't consider this "official" until an official weigh in on a Sunday.)

Next goal? 212. That is what I weighed my junior year in HS.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Unmet Expectations

I have told you that I am so very close to being at my lowest weight as an adult, ever - 229.4. I was hoping that I would reach that weight by this week.

Today is my weigh in day. I did not meet that goal. I did weigh in at 230.0, 0.6 lbs above my goal.

Initially I felt sad. I was a little angry at myself even. Then I re-evaluated.
  • I haven't been losing weight consistently since May. The last two weeks are the first two consecutive, significant weight losses I've had in nearly six months. I've finally broken outside the 235 plus or minus a couple pound window.
  • I lost 3.6 lbs this week. That is 1/2 lb/day. Not insignificant. And for a second week in a row!
  • My back still hurts so I can't exercise as much or as intensely as I would like. Less intense exercise = fewer activity points = slower weight loss. And a potential minefield for emotional eating.
  • I had FOUR Christmas parties this week. I still lost almost a pound for every one. I mean, really?! That is freaking incredible.
I realized that there is nothing to be upset about with my loss this week and, even more importantly, that this week was a huge success and is worth celebrating. This underscores for me that I do not like and cannot for my own psyche handle the "I want to lose ____ pounds by ____ time frame!" I can control what I eat and how much I exercise, but when I lose the weight is up to my body. However, if I do the right things (eat healthily and enjoy treats in moderation, and exercise), the results I want WILL follow -- even if it's not necessarily in the time frame that I want it to happen.

I need to focus on the positive and stay the course. I mean, I am only 31 and I have a lifetime of healthy living to do. If I miss my goal by a week, it is ok. I will get it next week. As long as I am making wise choices, the weight will take care of itself in time.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wordle of my Blog

Have you ever used Wordle? It is really neat. Here is how it characterizes what I talk about on my blog. Apparently I love milk and cheese. And yoga. And I whine about my back a lot (sorry).

(Re: the dairy: guilty as charged - last week I drank about a gallon of milk. One more reason I love Points Plus!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Non-Scale Victory!!!

Notice anything special about what I'm wearing in this picture? No?

Well, there is something very special about these clothes. They aren't plus size. They're 18, not 18Ws! Earlier this month I ordered for the first time in ages -- probably since 2000, literally 10 years -- a bunch of clothes that weren't plus sized. There have been a few times I have bought something on sale that I thought would fit later that wasn't plus sized, or times I've made mistakes and gotten the wrong size (unintentionally) that were not plus sized. However, this order was completely intentional. And, I was a little surprised but 100% delighted when my new goodies all fit!

A new chapter in this WL journey. Now when I get to size 14, it will be like a whole new world because I will be able to shop in almost any store. Goodbye Lane Bryant!! It's been real.


Last night was holiday party 4/4 for the week. It was the one where I went the craziest, but my decisions were calculated and not terrible. It was an Italian potluck, and cheese is my favorite food ever. That made things a bit of a minefield, and a good chance to splurge a bit. I also had several desserts, but only slivers of each (except the peppermint bark and I had 3 or 4 good sized pieces). I had plenty of weekly points, made sure to go to the yoga in the morning since the time of the party conflicted with my usual exercise schedule, and overall felt comfortable with my choices. That having been said, I FULLY expected a small gain this morning or in the best case, to stay even. And I was fine with that, figuring the aftermath would go away in a day or two.

Nope. Down this morning to 230.8. Unbelievable. I'm now 1.6 lbs from my lowest weight in 10+ years (and remember I'm 31 so we're talking like 1/3 of my life). During the Christmas season. During a week where I had 4 parties.

I feel like a rock star.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Opinions on WW Points Plus

The new Weight Watchers Points Plus system launched the Monday after Thanksgiving. I decided it was a great time to give Weight Watchers another honest try. After so many false starts, I was not sure whether my latest attempt would stick.

But it has. The reason why is because the new program (in my opinion) is great.

The new program emphasizes whole foods -- particularly fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins -- in a way it hasn't before. Here are the differences I've noticed:
  • The meaning of a point is re-calibrated - everyone receives a higher daily allotment of points, and a weekly cache of points too. For example, I used to get 29 points a day on the old program, but when I started Points Plus I got 38 points a day. Everyone used to get 35 extra points a week; we now get 49.
  • Many of the formerly 1 pt. foods are higher in points (e.g., Bagel Thins are now 3 points whereas they used to be 1). This applies largely to foods high in carbs and/or processed foods. I hear booze is higher too, but I rarely consume it so I don't know for sure.
  • Most fruits and vegetables are "free" and do not count against the daily points allowances. The only exceptions I know of are corn, potatoes, peas, and avocados.
  • Foods containing protein did not go up much in points values and therefore count less against the daily amount of points you can eat. For example, eggs and a cup of milk are still 2 points apiece as they were on the old WW plan.
I believe that the modified Points Plus program addresses many of the concerns/problems I had with WW previously, but retains the parts I like the most.

Modified parts of the program that I like
  • The program emphasizes (subtly) the importance of protein. The importance of protein is something I caught onto via trial and error this summer. When I have a meal that contains both carbs and protein, it keeps me fuller for longer and also curbs cravings for crap. I like that it is now easier to eat more protein because it is proportionally less expensive than it used to be.
  • I love the free fruit!!! I still eat a bunch of it, probably more than I have before.
  • I have openly criticized the WW foods that they used to sell. Although I do not eat 100% unprocessed foods, I would say that about 80% of what I eat is unprocessed. I like that they have gotten rid of the 1 point faux foods (e.g., 1 point ice cream with fiber added) that contain a ton of chemicals.
  • Although I was never at a weight where I had a restrictively low number of points (the lowest I ever had was 29/day), it was not uncommon for me to be hungry despite eating the "right" things (the filling foods, etc). I feel that the modified plan rewards the way I had been eating, and now allows me to eat more food.
  • I feel like I can live within my daily points. I could not do this before. I regularly ate 5-7 points above my target on the old plan (which was still technically ok since I usually earned 5-10 activity points/day and could use my weekly points too).
Parts of the program that stay the same that I like
  • I like that I can eat anything I want. While the program encourages me to make healthier choices, I can still have cheese dip or a donut if I want to and have the points budget for it. I also like that I don't have to subscribe to a fixed meal plan. That makes me feel like I have control over what I am eating, rather than being forced to eat a meal that is scheduled. It also makes me feel like I can go out to dinner with friends without feeling guilty about it as long as I plan for it.
  • I love the concept of weekly points and activity points. This makes me feel like I can splurge on treats every now and then with this plan.
  • If you follow it, the program works. I have lost 5.8 lbs in the 10 days I have been on the plan. It's hard for me to argue with results if I feel like I am doing it in a way that is honoring my body. (i.e., eating healthy foods vs. some other gimmicky crash diet)
Other than the annoyance/inconvenience of learning new points values, I cannot think of much that I do not like about the new WW Points Plus system. I feel a renewed sense of excitement about tracking and being on WW that I haven't felt in a long time. I have tracked every single thing I have eaten for 10 days, and I can't even think of the last time that happened before Points Plus.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Renewed Vigor and Tis the Season....

I haven't blogged about it and I think it is significant enough for a post of its own to be written later, but let me tell you all:
I started the program the day it debuted (week after Thanksgiving), and I figured "I'll give it a shot. We'll see if it sticks."

It's been no secret that I've been stuck in a weight loss malaise for the last 4-6 months. I've been maintaining and not gaining, but I've been stuck in the same +/-5 lb window for a long time. The lowest I've gotten was 230.6 which occurred just prior to bout 2 of back problems. I tend to stick closer to 235 though. The lowest I have ever weighed in my adult life was 229.5 which I weighed for several months in graduate school.

Well, I am proud to announce that the spell is broken. I am now loving the new WW plan and am able to easily stick to it. I am also proud to announce that the scale is moving in the right direction!!

The week after Thanksgiving, I weighed in at 237.2 and started the new WW program. The first week on the program, I lost 3.6 lbs and weighed in at 233.6. This morning I weighed in at 231.4 (though it is not my official weigh-in day; my official day is on Sunday). And this, by the way, is in the midst of back pain that leaves me unable to work out as much or as aggressively as I usually do.

I am 2 lbs away from a very magical number. When I weigh 229.4, this will be significant both because it will mark exactly 70 lbs lost and will be the lowest I have weighed as an adult, ever. The last time I know I weighed this was as a sophomore in college (1999). Who knows, I may reach 229.4 this week!

My original goal for the holiday season was not to gain weight. However, I have now set my sights higher and want to lose weight over the holiday season. I'm not oblivious to the increased incidence of land mines around this time of the year (four holiday parties this week alone!), but I think I can do this. So far (two parties down for the week), I have done ok. Having a mindset of saying "Yes" to health rather than "No" to food, and having a plan that is healthy and reasonable to stick to is making all the difference so far.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What a difference a year makes....

Christmas 2010 (L) vs. Christmas 2009 (R)

There's about a 30 lb. difference. Sometimes I minimize that (e.g. "less than a lb. a week?! that is nothing!!" or "You're still considered obese!"), but I really shouldn't and I am going to stop that. It is negative self talk and, for those of you who know me in real life, you know I would not allow someone else to talk to me like that!

In the past year, I've overcome depression, dealt with 3 bouts of back issues that leave me unable to even sit up too long and exercise, and dealt with family issues/drama.

I have also made a new group of friends and lost 30 lbs. I have discovered that I love cycling and have ridden about 500 cathartic miles on my bike. I have learned a lot about myself and about life and my ability to persevere.

Probably the most important thing I am learning now is that I WANT to do this. I am not doing this because I should. I am not doing this because of the dire consequences of what will happen if I don't do this. I am doing this -- this healthy living thing -- because I want to enjoy a life where my body and health do not inhibit me from doing the things that I want to do. It makes saying no to food easier about 80% of the time, because it's not saying "No" to something desirable like a brownie, but rather saying "Yes" to the ability to walk around all day without getting tired or being able to shop in a "normal" store and not be banished to Lane Bryant or a plus sized section.

Now that's not to say I don't eat brownies or cheese or other treats, but I just have to be more judicious in my choices and not shovel everything in my trap or use food as a crutch so I don't have to deal with how I'm really feeling. I am nowhere near "there" but moderation is becoming a concept I can understand and am starting to employ after years - YEARS - of disordered eating and abusing food.

I look forward to another year of progress. Game on 2011!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Real Food

During my trip to Missouri we went to Amish country. There, we bought several goodies including milk and eggs. We made both yogurt cheese from the milk. The milk was simultaneously the most delicious and the most rich milk I have consumed in my life. I also bought the BEST cream cheese (freshly made of course) I have EVER eaten.

Me, making cheese with our milk from Amish country. It was so good (and I must acknowledge the help I received from Esra's mom -- THANK YOU!!!)

While I was in Columbia, we ate really well -- but differently than I usually eat. We ate a lot of cheese (no complaints from me!). These guys also ate a lot of stuff containing olive oil and yogurt. I eat this stuff too (some of my favorites actually), but there is a difference: everything I ate at my hosts' house was full fat. Full fat yogurt; no concern for using a bit of extra olive oil.

I'm not going to lie, this freaked me out at first. However, when I returned from the trip I only gained 0.2 lbs (which is nothing considering the rich food I ate). I also returned with a different mindset.

God made foods as whole fat foods. Cheese is generally made to be full fat; lesser-fat versions are just more processed. I don't generally love the modified/processed foods like the (formerly) 1 pt. english muffins -- why is taking all of the fat out of milk any different? It is just processing the milk into an unnatural state.

I am not sure what changes I will make to my diet, but I am going to be less quick to buy the reduced fat versions of things, and the reduced fat versions of things that taste gross are DONE! It is better to have a little of something that I really enjoy than to have more of something that is processed and unnatural and not even all that appealing.

I am going to try to eat more REAL food, and less processed stuff (even though I did this to a large extent already).


This weekend, one of the people at our Thanksgiving was someone that I didn't know too well. She was a part of an arranged marriage with a good friend of mine from graduate school, so it was so nice to get a chance to spend getting to know her.

At some point, the topic of weight came up. I don't even really remember how (although maybe it was due to talking about my mango allergy, which led to my blog?). Anyway, she asked how I got started losing the weight.

As I told her, I cried. I was surprised.

Another friend -- one that I have now known for 9 years (can't believe it's been that long) -- has been friends with me at my fattest and during the first period in my life where I lost weight. He and I were also talking about this journey at one point during my visit.

Once again, I cried.

I have to admit, this kind of surprises me. These guys were not asking anything mean-spirited or judgmental at all. They were both kind and compassionate and genuinely supportive and interested. They were giving out nothing but good vibes.

I've been on this journey for a year and a half now. I have made progress, faced challenges, felt like giving up, pressed on, and have ultimately come out at a much better place. I am feeling like I can do "this" -- this healthy living thing, including but not limited to eating right and exercising often -- forever, and it is shocking to me sometimes the degree to which the choices I'm making feel natural. For example, there was a point last week I was craving lentils, and the thought of Doritos or cake just sounded gross.

So why is this place in my life and my heart -- the one that deals with weight and getting healthy -- still so emotional to talk about? I am not sure, but I feel as though I must figure it out so that I can work through the issues that underlie this sensitivity. Any insights would be appreciated.

Back Problems

The week prior to Thanksgiving, things were insanely hectic at work. There was a bunch I wanted to get accomplished prior to the break. That meant staying later than I usually would a few days, which meant skipping the yoga class I usually go to on Monday.


Thursday, as I was starting out on the 5K, my back started to hurt a bit and my glutes were tight. By the end of the "race" (which I in no way treated as such, owing to the back issues), I was really really in bad shape.

I figured it would be no big deal. I stopped to get some tennis balls (which are amazing for getting knots out after having muscle spasms) and thought I would do my stretching exercises from my PT.

Unfortunately, the problem has not gone away easily. It's been more than a week now. My back still hurts, although I am managing the pain much better than I ever have in the past. I do a lot of stretching and yoga. Although I am not 100% better, I am getting there and am optimistic I will be ok again soon. In the meantime I will be doing a lot of stretching and yoga, and stopping exercise when it doesn't feel right. Also, I have found that using a foam roller and rolling over it with my whole body, stomach facing up will usually help my back pop back into place. Who knew that, in addition to all of the other great things that foam rollers are, that they are a cheap faux chiropractor?

Lesson learned, though: yoga 2-3/week is imperative for me if I want to stay mobile. These activities need to be prioritized in my schedule, and not crowded out when I'm "too busy". In fact, I am too busy NOT to do yoga, as I cannot afford to be sidelined for several days or even weeks with debilitating back pain -- even if that means leaving work a couple days at 4:30 and working some more from home.

My First 5K

The morning of Thanksgiving, I went to do my first 5K. It was called the Turkey Trax, and I had found out about it online. It was in the low 30s the day of the race (not remarkable for my friends and past life up north, but I now consider it unseasonably cold weather for where I live), so I dressed in layers.

I was proud of my decision to register for this 5K. My registration was significant for a few reasons...
  1. I sought this out. It wasn't something that I had a bunch of friends participating in and I decided to tag along. I did the research, found out about something happening in a town 5 hrs away from where I usually live but where I would be on Thanksgiving, and registered.
  2. It was my first 5K. I really didn't know what to expect - would this be a "fun run" where there wasn't much pressure? Would this be super competitive? Would there be walkers or just runners? I wasn't sure, but decided I didn't care: I would try anyway, letting the chips fall where they may.
  3. This represents a shift in my priorities. Thanksgiving is another day; exercise and healthy living is no less important on one day than any other. Now, I'm not saying it's not ok to indulge every once in awhile (holiday or otherwise) and in fact I did indulge food-wise on this day; however, it is important for me day in and day out to make healthy living a priority, and this 5K is one way that I did just that.
So how did I do? I'd say the answer is mixed. I had entertained the idea of trying to run/walk it. I decided I would stretch a lot both before and after, but would just see how in shape I was if I decided to go after this run/walk idea with no training whatsoever. That ended up not happening because early in the walk my back started to hurt. I was walking relatively quickly, but was not jogging. I was happy I listened to my body and did not push the running thing.

I finished the 5K in 49:09, which means my pace was 15:49/mile. I finished 424th of the 448 people who participated. Though my stats are unremarkable (maybe even poor), the decision to participate at all is something I am so so proud of.


I spent this Thanksgiving with some friends in Columbia, Missouri. I was supposed to go visit them last year for Thanksgiving, but my back problems were terrible and I just could not sit up for that long to drive to visit them. This year I was happy to be able to make the trip. I not only got to see several good friends from graduate school, I got to meet for the first time a baby that one couple had! He was adorable and at 6 weeks had the most hair for a 6 week old that I have ever seen as well.

Before I left for Missouri (I was supposed to leave the Wednesday before Thanksgiving), I talked to my friend about menu planning and shopping. He was very unconcerned about it, figuring it would all come together at the last minute which was sort of fine with me. He did not share my concern that the grocery store would be out of the staples for a traditional meal. In fact, he went to far as to say, "The important thing is not the food; the important thing is that we are together for Thanksgiving and able to be together." Ouch. Point taken.

A bit of background - the friends at this occasion were a married Indian vegetarian couple and a married Turkish halal-eating couple (similar to the idea of kosher, but for Muslims), and myself - a dyed in the wool midwestern omnivore and a self-diagnosed recovering food addict. Point being? Finding a meal with something for everyone -- protein for the vegetarians, etc -- was not going to be easy to start with even with unlimited resources/time at the grocery store.

So how did it go? It was without a doubt the most disorganized Thanksgiving I had ever been a part of. We did not send our first delegation to the grocery store until 3 PM on Thanksgiving day (mind you, guests were scheduled to arrive for dinner at 7 PM). The first trip to the grocery store resulted in some forgotten items, so I was sent on a second trip to the store around 4 PM. I was so stressed out and ended up coping with that with food (not proud of the choice, but it was progress in that the transgressions were much more minor than past food-related transgressions). A halal turkey could not be located, so chicken was substituted.

I have to give everyone credit. The meal really did turn out wonderfully and amazingly only 15-30 minutes after the originally scheduled dinner time of 7, everything was ready! Everything except the chicken was vegetarian, and everything tasted good.

Above is a picture of my plate. I did go back for seconds of the carrots and mashed potatoes, I had a piece of pumpkin pie (a sliver) and a cheesecake/sour cream dessert, and a small scoop modified watergate salad. I felt, for having skipped lunch because of a late and large breakfast, I controlled things very well. I was happy with how I did.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress Pics

Here is a picture I took about a week ago (on the left). It's been awhile since I've posted progress pictures. Interestingly, I took a set of pictures in the same place (locker room at the gym) in the same outfit in May (on the right). I have "only" lost 5 lbs since then (I weighed 242 in May and 237 this week), but it is amazing how much working out has changed the composition of my body. The difference is remarkable, even to me.
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