Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Now Entering VFT

The end of last week was not great. The day of the big snowstorm I went crazy with my eating (to the tune of four grilled cheese sandwiches; oops) in the morning and then got it all together for the afternoon. However, I didn't track for WW the rest of the week. I ended up losing the 1.8 lbs from the week before, but not really making any huge progress.

This week I am back firmly on plan, and I am happy to report that I am not only back to my lowest weight as an adult for the first time since before Christmas, as of this morning I am entering VFT. I forgot where I read this (it was some blog), but that stands for virgin fat territory -- uncharted ground that I haven't been at since I passed it (once) on the way up. This morning I was at 228.4. I can barely believe it. Time to keep the momentum going!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


School is cancelled because the weather sucks. I am stuck in the house. I want to eat eat eat -- something warm and cozy. I will fight this thought and try to do something else to take my mind off of food!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Enjoying Food and Spaghetti Squash recipe

Today I realized that I enjoy food so much more now than when I weighed 300 lbs and ate a ton more of it. It is very counterintuitive.

I now enjoy cooking and trying new things. I did not do this as often when I was bigger -- I had the old standbys, and I valued quantity and the escapist value of food far more than savoring the food I was eating and the creativity and health benefits of enjoying the food I was eating.

Today I made a new dish and got to try spaghetti squash for the first time. It was amazing. I don't have photos and they wouldn't look that great even if I did -- but trust me, this recipe is really good.

Spaghetti squash
A couple cloves of garlic
Onion, tomato, red peppers -- whatever veggies you have on hand, really
Bit of olive oil to sauté veggies
1-2 oz fresh parmesan cheese
Handful of basil
2 T capers
2 lemons

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and clean out the seeds. Place the spaghetti squash rind side up on a greased cookie sheet and bake it at 375 F. You should cook it until a sharp knife can easily pierce the skin. The time will vary, but for me it took about 40-45 min. While the squash is baking, cut up the veggies and mince the garlic. Sauté the garlic and sauté-able veggies (onions, peppers, etc). If you use tomatoes, toss them in toward the end so they can just get warm and barely cooked and not turn saucy. Set the vegetables aside. In a separate bowl, combine the capers, finely chopped basil, and the two lemons you have juiced. You can also shred the parmesan into the mixture, but you may choose to wait on this.

Once the spaghetti squash is finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let it cool until you can easily pick it up. Once you can pick it up, scoop the "guts" out with a spoon. The meat of the squash is fine little cylinders like angel hair pasta (hence the name). Add the cooked veggies and lemon/caper/basil mixture and stir well. You can either scoop into a bowl and then grate the parmesan on top or mix the parmesan in (but it will blend in and kind of melt if all of the veggies and the squash is too hot, which you may want to avoid for aesthetic reasons). Then enjoy it!

It tastes so good, but is so low in calories that you will likely need a big serving to stay full. I ate about 1/3 of the recipe that I made with 2c milk, a grapefruit, and a banana and was starving by 2 PM. I had a string cheese but couldn't shake the hunger and had to finally eat dinner at 3:30. I enjoyed this lunch immensely but in the future will probably find a way to eat more protein to stay fuller so I am not famished so quickly after eating it.

Disappointing Weigh In

This was the first week I can remember thinking "Man, this weigh in is crap!" about a weigh in in light of my performance. There have been plenty of weeks where I haven't lost or have gained, but I usually think they're justified in light of what I've eaten or how much I have exercised. This week, I don't feel like that. I tracked everything. I exercised 4 times this week (fewer than usual, but still not bad). And, I gained 1.8 lbs this week.

Although I am miffed (and confused), I press on. Not sure what is going on with my body, but this is exactly why I don't do time-based weight goals. I can only control my behavior, not the scale so I will continue to focus on what's in my control and hope that my body follows.

Perhaps this is related to the "free" fruit, which I eat liberally. Anyone know whether there are really functional limits to how many of those one should eat?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I have written before about how I consider myself a food addict. My behavior over Christmas break -- how easily I returned to binge eating and how oddly cathartic (yet disgusting) it felt -- seems to add credence to the mountain of evidence that I am a food addict.

While I usually feel in control over my behavior, sometimes I really don't. Sometimes it is as though I have no control over my decisions and I am just executing some primal, instinctual desire to eat that I have no control over. And for those of you who haven't experienced it? It is a mix of comforting, terrifying, and is without a doubt shameful to feel like you're a robot executing lines of code demanding that you eat everything within sight.

For this reason, I have looked into joining Overeaters Anonymous. Their #1 tenet is "We admitted that we were powerless over food and that our lives had become unmanageable."

Back in the day, I would have believed this. I absolutely felt powerless and hopeless about food. My life WAS unmanageable. Now that I've been in "recovery" for awhile, I no longer feel this way. I still make mistakes. I still have missteps. I'm by no means perfect.

But I am also not a victim. I do not feel powerless, or believe that I am. I am stronger than food.

However, I am aware that with the history that I have and the deeply-engrained (unhealthy) relationship with food that I have worked to change, that I cannot get too cocky and that I'm not above regaining all of the weight back. I want to form some sort of support structure to help support me when I slip and fall. I am not sure what this would look like. I had considered OA because this is what I thought they could help me to do. Since I disagree with their fundamental premise, however, I am not sure that I could join their group.

For you losers/maintainers out there, what are your thoughts and how do you find support? Has anyone tried OA?

Please Allow me to Vent for a Hot Second...

In light of the new year and resolutions and all, much of the world seems to be in a tizzy about losing weight. On the one hand, it is nice to feel some momentum as a result of the increased WW commercials, supermarket endcaps featuring more healthy items, etc. On the other hand, it makes me sad to see how much of WL is grounded in lies and gimmicks -- things I don't think are healthy and/or sustainable. For example, the thought of the Special K diet makes me cringe and I don't think you can convince me it's healthy (or for most of us realistic) to lose 41 lbs in a week, even if you're surrounded by a team of doctors on the Biggest Loser.

More fundamentally, it bothers me when the focus is on WL not health. Admittedly, it is not healthy to be morbidly obese or 230 lbs at 5'8"; however, I think there are unhealthy people who fall into the "normal" weight category too. I am working very hard to focus on my health, and to view weight as a small piece of what it means to be healthy.

Do I have a number I'd like to see on the scale at "goal"? Kind of. I know I would like to be less than 200, probably around 160-180. I don't have a magic number, and I'm not under the illusion that once I get to some number that life will be butterflies and rainbows.

More important than any number to me is that I am healthy. Being healthy means that I want to be able to manage/prevent my back pain (which almost certainly will continue to improve as I lose weight and do yoga regularly). Being healthy means I don't want to have to takeblood pressure medicine anymore (have been off it for a few months, and doing fine). Being healthy means being able to do most any physical activity without dying (exception: running, deadlifts and other things that hurt my back -- but I want to be able to walk up a mountain or several flights of stairs without getting too winded).

Another critical piece to me is mental health -- keeping aware of how I'm feeling. This is especially a challenge with respect to how I view food, as I feel that many who are successful at WL replace an obsession for compulsive eating with an obsession over counting calories, eating healthily, etc. I do not want to obsess over food OR eating healthily: I want to relegate food to the background while placing relationships and experiences at the forefront of life. This is what motivates the title of my blog; food has been front and center for almost 20 years of my 31 years on the earth -- that MUST stop (and, to a large degree, is).

Losing weight is one step in my getting healthy. Admittedly, it is one that people focus on because it is measurable and comes with many aesthetic benefits. However, I am focusing on getting healthy and viewing weight as a small piece of that. While it is not trivial, it is one of the easier pieces of health for me to control. The mind games, at least for me, are so much harder and more important -- after all, they are what help to dictate to what degree I am successful at controlling what I eat.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Obsession, Revisited

I wrote last year about how I felt that WW and food tracking had taken over my life for awhile, and led to an unnatural and unhealthy obsession with food, weight, tracking, measuring, the program, etc. When that happened, I went off WW -- not quitting the healthy living thing, just the tracking, etc. -- for awhile to regain a sense of balance. For about 6 months I maintained in a 10 lb. window (235 +/- 5 lbs).

This weekend I realized why I was obsessed with food and tracking during that time: I was hungry. Honestly. My body was whispering that to me, but I could not figure it out at the time. I finally figured that out this morning.

For the majority of my time on WW (maybe even all of it), I have embraced eating about 70-80% of my food and what I cook from natural, unprocessed sources (though I probably eat out too much). Since I've been on WW, I've almost always chosen the apple or orange over a 100 calorie pack, and I ate eggs for breakfast and drank milk and was vigilant about making sure I had protein at every meal even when they were proportionally more "expensive" points-wise. In retrospect, the old WW system did not really reward this kind of eating and that led to my being hungry. And that hunger led to an unhealthy obsession with food. And THAT is what I could not deal with, even though I did not realize until this very morning that the reason why was that I was hungry.

I love that fruits are "free" now on the new WW PointsPlus plan. I eat probably 4-6 servings of fruit and 2-4 servings of vegetables a day. I love that eggs and milk stayed the same number of points, while my daily points allowance increased. I love that the way that I approach food and the way that WW approaches food are now aligned. I feel so validated.

But most of all? I love that I don't feel restricted by my eating, that the program is working (lost 5.8 lbs this week while tracking everything, and eating pizza and burgers and having dinner at the Olive Garden and Panera), that I am not hungry, and that I am not obsessed with the WW program or with food choices, but that they are just a part of what I do and have assumed a supporting role, not front and center in my life. This is so huge for me. A huge step in having food not define me. A huge step toward being in control.

I am making progress. I am proud.

Retro WW Experiment

I have written before about how much I loved my grandma (who I called Mema). She too struggled with her weight, and spent much of her life on WW.

Recently I have discovered a very cool gross cool blog where a girl is living the original circa 1972 WW plan. Some Most of the stuff that she cooks and was part of the original sounds absolutely disgusting, but it is amazing to see where the plan started. I could have never stuck to that plan!!!

However, I have accepted the challenge to make one of the original WW recipes. I will do so in honor of Mema, who I loved very much and miss. I just hope that this recipe does not contain liver (a staple on the original WW). While I've read about the nutritional benefits of liver, I just can't understand how an organ made to filter waste from the body can be good for you. I'll get my protein from other sources like shrimp and cottage cheese, thanks...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Something has kept me off this blog. I don't know exactly what it is, but I haven't felt like I have had much to write. It's not that things are going badly, per se. It's not that they're going amazingly either, though. They're just kind of humming along at a reasonable clip. I feel like much of what I'm dealing with has become a part of the routine, and that I know better how to manage the ebbs and flows of life, temptations, and motivation as they relate to living a healthy lifestyle. Not a bad place to be, overall.

It is worth mentioning that I have a requisite "What I learned in 2010" retrospective post that I've been thinking about for awhile, and even have a draft of. I can't seem to finish it or coalesce my thoughts into something nice, neat, and concise. Hence, it hasn't hit the blogosphere.

It's also worth mentioning that I don't really believe in "resolutions", per se. I believe in goals and in setting them and working toward them. Perhaps the difference between a resolution and a goal is really just in the semantics, but it seems to me that a resolution is kind of a pipe dream whereas a goal is measurable and has a plan behind it. I, obviously, believe the latter is more likely to be successful. It's also worth mentioning that I believe that if something is worth doing, you should do it the moment that you are ready and that it makes sense to do it. There's no sense waiting for an arbitrary date like a Monday or like January 1. This is why I don't believe in resolutions.

That having been said, I have recently undertaken two new initiatives on my never-ending quest to improve myself. First, I have decided that, in order to help to improve my spiritual health, I will read through the Bible in a year. I am doing it with my mom, which has been interesting, and I am following this plan to do it. Second, I have a new yoga DVD that is amazing at helping me to manage my back and SI pain. With the increasing frequency (and if I'm not careful, severity) of my back pain, it is critical that I manage this condition. I am only 31 and I honestly believe that if I am not very proactive in how I take care of myself that I could end up in chronic pain and perhaps even immobile. For this reason, it is critical that I do this yoga DVD several times a week; I am aiming for about 5x/week. It is really helping me so far.

Both of these initiatives take time and have caused me to have a new routine in the morning. Together, the yoga and Bible reading take about an hour in the morning. I have to say, though, they really set my day off right. I feel physically better (having a stable hip joint and minimal to no back pain is amazing!) and mentally clearer.

Today at lunch I was eating and reflecting on life in general (and the new morning routine in particular) and I had (what to me seems like) a huge revelation. All that I am trying to do in my life -- getting physically healthy (working out, managing the back/SI pain, making a concerted effort to eat more healthily and with more self control), staying mentally healthy (therapy, antidepressants, and reflection), becoming more socially engaged (making new friends, enhancing and strengthening existing friendships), and working on my spiritual health (Bible reading, participating actively in community group, praying) -- is all integrated. Sure, I recognized that there were synergies and that these things were interdependent and didn't exist in a vacuum. However, I did not ever realize until today at lunch how they tied together.

They tie together like this: All are different ways to help me to maximize my quality of life.

This informs so much of how I think about and relate to choices that I make. For example, although I have given into this thinking occasionally, I am not really one to bemoan bad choices if I am convinced they serve a purpose. For example, the fact is that food and certain holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are inextricably linked in American culture. For better or worse, that is just true. While I do not think that these holidays provide carte blanche to go wild with respect to eating, I am not going to beat myself up for not sticking to WW to the letter during these times.

Could I have done better than I did this year? Without a doubt. Is it over? Yep. Did I learn from it? For sure. Therefore, it is water under the bridge. It's not worth beating myself up over: the physical/weight damage is done and so adding a dose of mental baggage would not serve to advance my quality of life. I have learned from it and moved on.

Much of my thinking has already (subconsciously) conformed to this framework of thinking of choices and their net impact on my quality of life. However now that I have really realized how all of my life initiatives tie together, I will be much more intentional about reflecting on whether or not something (a choice, an opportunity, a decision) advances my quality of life. If so, it's worth doing; if not, it's not.

For example, yesterday I had a day of sloppy eating. The day didn't start off right, and I was very tempted not to track my food for WW. As I thought about it though, I realized
a) The damage had been done. It was better to track and learn from it than to ignore that it happened by not recording it.
b) I was only lying to myself if I chose not to track it.
Not tracking was not only the dishonest thing to do, it would only hurt my progress. A huge step in increasing one's quality of life is cutting the BS and being real. I am going to work harder at doing both.
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