Welcome

Welcome to my blog. The purpose here is simple: to chronicle my thoughts, actions, plans, and goals in getting healthy in the year 2017. Feel free to look around and offer encouragement or suggestions.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Obsession, Self Sabatoge, and Moving the Goalpost

I have a confession. I'm incredibly impatient. I thrive off of instant gratification. I'm also a completionist and a perfectionist. Once I commit to doing something I want results and I want them perfect and I want them now. These character quirks make me an amazingly efficient asset in the workplace and a really shitty dieter. I'm sure you can understand how. Dieting is slow and circuitous and continuous. There is no instant, no perfect, no complete. To combat this I set small goals and become obsessive about reaching them.

I hate the word obsessive. I especially hate it when it is applied to myself, but it's the only acccurate adjective to describe weighing yourself five times in a row to get the best reading, or feeling genuinely upset that you can't find accurate calorie information on a food you just ate. Or deciding not to eat at all because you had a donut the day before. Which leads me to my next confession: I have some serious concerns about how this diet is shaping my relationship with food.

Nutrisystem is basically systematic starvation. They recommend a daily intake of 1200 to 1300 calories, regardless of activity level. To put that in perspective, the general recommendation for a moderately active adult woman is 2200 calories. Each meal is between 130 to 270 calories and you are expected to eat six times a day. My nutrition has been reduced to a math problem and I am constantly obsessing over the bottom line. For example, my fiance and I went to lunch at a salad restaurant and I remember thinking I couldn't even eat there because the salads started at 330 calories. I'm not even talking about those salads that are more meat and cheese and dressing than veggies. This was the good stuff with 2 oz, if that, of grilled chicken and a drizzle of homemade low cal dressing. It's the kind of meal decision that I would have been proud of myself for making 6 years ago. But now I couldn't even eat lunch without calculating where else I could cut back to compensate for the meal I was eating, or if I should write the whole day off as a loss and start over tomorrow. It might just be me, but I don't think a salad should be the thing that sends you into a full blown diet crisis. Even my fiance told me that he missed when we made our choices based on what was in our food and not just the calorie content. I agree with him. Making a balanced, satisfying, nutritious meal from whole foods that is less than 300 calories is nearly impossible to do.

I can't honestly say that being so strict on my calorie intake has been effective. In fact, I've been struggling with a plateau for most of last month. It wasn't until that terrible Thanksgiving that I finally dropped some weight. I'm fairly certain that when you factor in my increase in activity, I haven't been eating enough. When I was at my strictest my weight never waivered, but once I started allowing myself a few more calories in the day, it fell off. So now I'm fighting against my tendency towards  restriction to find some balance, and I'm being rewarded for it. I met my latest weight loss goal! I'm below 130 kg (285lbs).

Now that I've met my goal, I'm trying very hard not to self sabatoge. I have a tendency to decide I "deserve" a "reward". My rewards usually come in the form of a million little cheats. Like two pieces of boxed chocolate one day...or a graham cracker fluffer nutter...or a doughnut...or some wine, which individually would be fine. It would be that indulgence I wrote about a few blogs ago. But indulging day after day is no longer a treat, but a trend. So far I'm doing well to avoid a trend of indulgence, but I just reached my goal like three days ago, so give it time!

Lastly,  now that I've reached a goal, it's time to move the goalpost. I've decided on my former lowest weight ever. It's ambitious, but I'm confident I can get there. It may be a while before I meet a goal again. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Lite

I've always loved Thanksgiving. I love the eating, but more than that I love the sense of accomplishment of putting together a feast. Seriously, I lose my freaking mind. I go for a huge turkey and a million sides, even when it was just me. I've gotten my system of massive food production down to a science.

Unfortunately my system was worth exactly nothing this year. My traditional feast...like every bit of it...was loaded with fat and carbohydrates that the nutrisystem meal plan frowns upon. I got three emails from my study coordinator reminding me to enjoy the holidays in moderation. My fiance even commented on how Thanksgiving was going to suck this year because I can't eat any of the good stuff. Needless to say, I felt pressure to prove that a healthier Thanksgiving was not only possible, but also incredibly delicious. I looked up recipe after recipe. I had a plan. I was going to make turkey, of course, as well as whipped carrots, mashed cauliflower, sweet potato gnocci, corn soufflé, sautéed green beans with mushrooms, caprese asparagus, and butternut squash macaroni and cheese (because something has to be fatty and cheesy).

Here's the thing: this was beyond a doubt the most frustrating, disappointing Thanksgiving meal I have ever made. First off, due to a complete lack of reading comprehension, we only had half a turkey because we picked up a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. That's fine, I told myself, breast meat is healthier anyway. The cook times on the package, however, were clearly the stock intructions for the whole turkey because it was finished two hours early. Which might have been fine if I weren't sidetracked for an hour trying to make the sweet potato gnocci work. After following the instructions I ended up with a sticky mess that had twice the flour in it than was called for and a headache. So that recipe was out the window. My fiance did the mac and cheese because I had dogs to go walk. They were the best part of our entire meal. I went to make the whipped carrots, which were supposed to have orange and mint, and confused it with the recipe for the cauliflower, which had thyme and garlic. Those, however, were salvageable because garlic and thyme in carrots is delicious. At this point the turkey and mac & cheese had been done about an hour and I decided to scrap the green beans, which I hadn't yet cleaned, the asparagus, which I hadn't yet trimmed and which need the oven (which was occupied keeping the mac and turkey warm)  to roast, and the corn sufflé which I hadn't yet stripped the corn off the cob. That left me with mashed cauliflower. I didn't have a steamer big enough so I tried steaming in my colander, only to have the steam lead to misshapen legs on it. So that took longer than planned. Then my little 4 quart food processor took very small batches to mash. I walked away in frustration while my fiance finished that. And that was dinner.

Y'all. I'm going to rant here.

Anyone who insists that cauliflower is an adequate substitute for potatoes is lying to themselves and others. Don't get me wrong. I like cauliflower. I eat it raw, steamed, or roasted. I will never again, and I do mean NEVER, mash that shit and try to pretend it's at all potato like. They came out watery and gross. After squeezing and draining. In spite of having delicious additions like ricotta and toasted garlic and thyme, it was overwhelmingly cauliflowery. It leads me to question what kind of potatoes people who claim they can't tell the difference have been fed. Mashed cauliflower bears only a superficial resemblance to mashed potatoes and all other aspects were so incredibly not worth the amount of effort it takes to force cauliflower into an unnatural state of being. I'll stick to roasting, thanks.

So sum total: One very dry overcooked half a turkey. Check. One side, as planned, unhealthy. Check. One healthy side, delicious, but not at all as planned. Check. One gross mush that neither of us ate. Check. It was a pretty disappointing meal and I literally cried over it. I haven't had a Thanksgiving meal go this badly since I moved into my first apartment and tried to do the whole thing with two pots a pan and an aluminum serving tray.

BUT I have an incredibly supportive partner who encouraged me the whole day, and took over when I was just about ready to literally throw the entire meal out the door. I'm not kidding. I got two tasty sides and some turkey that tasted good, but definitelt needed some water to go down right. I got the absolute conviction that cauliflower is never replacing potatoes (or, by extension rice) in this house again. And I have some things to cook tomorrow.

And there's always next year.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Breaking 300

I'm not a believer in shame. It does more harm than good and rarely generates a positive outcome. The things I'm ashamed of can be counted on less than a hand. My weight has come to be one of them.

Here's a confession that is difficult for me to make. At my heaviest, at the beginning of this study, I was 330 pounds. There. I said it. 330. Which is even higher than my last great shame and the point at which I stopped looking at the scale. Because my response to shame has always been avoidance.

Besides, 330 felt a lot like 315, which felt a lot like 300. Same fat, different number.

I weighed in today. The scale read 136kg even. For my non-metric folks that's 299.89 lbs. I've once again broken the 300 threshold. In doing so I realize it's not the same fat as 330. I mean, I'd be lying if I said I could notice a difference in the mirror. I can't. But I DO notice the difference in my legs, my knees, and my back. The little aches that had built up over time and became normal, everyday sensations without my notice are a little father and a little fewer between.

And that is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Bad Week, The Expectation of Failure, and Unexpected Success

So my week goes from Wednesday to Wednesday with this study and last W to W was....shall we say, less than structured. I tried to stick to the diet. I really did. But I may have had an apple fritter...and a sliver of cake...and a couple cans of coke...and some snack size candy bars...some wine.... You get the point.

Needless to say I was not expecting my Wednesday morning weigh in to go very well. I was feeling like a bit of a failure, but determined to shake it off next week. This is not the first time I've slipped when trying to stick to a diet. I've never had a diet quite so restrictive, but the basics are the same. I know the value of shaking off the slip ups and moving forward.

So I weighed in. And to my surprise, I've lost. Still. Considerably. It felt wonderful to know that a little nip of something I desperately wanted didn't sink my goals.

Which I guess brings me to the importance of indulgence. Hear me out here. Remember last post when I was willing to throat punch someone for a doughnut? That craving was pervasive. No matter how many carrots I ate, or how much water I drank, the craving remained. For days. It became all I could think about. Literally, on my route between walking dogs I was thinking about where the nearest doughnut was located. For days. And so I broke and drove out of my way to stop in at Whole Foods for a little taste of baked good. It. Was. Glorious. Do you know what I haven't thought about since that afternoon? A doughnut. So I'm not saying go crazy and order a dozen whatever. I'm saying that a craving that sticks is one you should indulge reasonably. Give yourself ONE and savor it. Trust me the satisfaction you get from your indulgence is it's own reward. Then afterward, once you've finished indulging, shake it off and get back to the grind.

Just be sure you aren't giving yourself too many treats, though. And indulgence at every meal is not indulgence. It's exorbitance. Keep them few and far between, but don't be afraid to have them.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Enduring Food Purgatory

I am not a violent woman. That said, at the moment, I would happily throat punch anyone you set in front of me if the reward were a doughnut.

Now that I'm more than two weeks into this Nutrisystem thing I have far fewer moments of vicious hunger. But just because I'm not hungry does not mean I am not wanting. The diet, by it's nature, means I'm eating an abundance of savory selections. This is problematic to my sugar addiction, which I fully acknowledge. Proteins very rarely tickle the sweet buds and veggies, which I am allowed to gnosh on at will have the same issue. The exception is possibly tomatoes and carrots and they are far from sweet. My one relief of my relentless sugar cravings come in the form of the Nutrisystem snacks. They are the ONLY part of the day I actually look forward to eating and actually enjoy. And it is over in five minutes.

I have a five minute culinary bright spot guys.

I can't even take refuge in fruit. I'm only allowed one fruit serving a day and more often than not the fruit serving is mixed into a yogurt for convenience. And some of my favorite veggies, peas, corn, and sweet potatoes are considered smart carbs and I can really only have them once a week in my flex meal. 

So I find myself in food purgatory, a place where I can eat what I have, but enjoy none of it, and I cannot have what I enjoy. Pretty much the joy has been sucked out of every meal. I love a good meal. And I won't get one for several months. I can't help but find that incredibly disappointing.

I know that there is a whole subset of "eat to live, don't live to eat" people who would say that this is a good thing. That I'm being liberated from my dependency on food. But nothing about this feels like liberation. In fact, I feel more shackled than ever. When I was doing my own thing I managed to lose weight AND enjoy the foods I made. Admittedly, I had to work harder, but I wasn't miserable at the thought of every meal, so I know diet and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps that is why I'm struggling. I know that there is a better way.

On the bright side, there are only 7 1/2 months left. Maybe by then I won't feel the need to maim someone for baked goods.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Call Me Yo-Yo

Hello Blog, it's been a while. So long I may have lost the knack of it. Kind of like I lost the knack of caring. A lot has happened since I last set my fingers to tapping keys. I met someone. We got serious. We fell in love. We got engaged.

We got fat...ter.

For reasons that could probably (and by probably I mean definitely) be its own post, I have also spent the last year and a half or so battling with depression. I only mention this because depression and weight gain almost always go hand in hand. While I have been slowly healing, I have not been watchful of my weight.

Long story short, I am heavier than I have ever been. I am getting older, which means I feel my weight in my body in ways I never have before. I'm constantly fatigued and cannot tell if it's my body craving nutrients or my depression lulling me back to bed. My once sunny disposition finds itself overshadowed by stress and frustration and anger far more frequently than I am comfortable admitting.

So I need a change.

I was driving along and heard an add on the radio. They were looking for overweight women to participate in a study. I fit the qualifications, so I joined. The study is basically comparing weight loss from increased activity vs. caloric restriction and increased activity. When I was told I would be randomized into one or the other I knew that there was a group I wanted to be in and a group I needed to be in. I WANTED to be in the group that got a Fitbit and a fancy scale and a step goal. I wanted to keep my freedom to do what I wanted, indulge as I wanted, all the while claiming I tried. I NEEDED to be placed in the group that still got the Fitbit, fancy scale, and step goal, but also a dietary supplement, a Nutrisystem subscription and a very strict diet to follow.

I was disappointed to be randomized into the latter group...until I realized that this is exactly what I need. I wouldn't have done well on the other plan. I know myself well enough to know that I'd do the bare minimum required of me and call myself participating. This way I have rules and I'm forced to eat less.

Not that I'm not kicking and screaming. I've been on the Nutrisystem diet for almost a week now and I'm about ready to punch someone in the throat. It's not my ideal. I'm constantly hungry. Almost every meal tastes like some variation of Chef Boyardee. If you've read the blog before you know how I feel about processed foods and now that's ALL I'm eating. You also know I prefer to work my way down to a restricted diet gradually and this was literally an overnight change. I've slipped up more than a handful of times this week. Have I mentioned I'm constantly hungry?

BUT it's effective. I've already shed about five pounds. Much of it is water weight, I know, but it's better than no progress. AND I can't think of a better way to reboot once the study is done. Following this diet will break all my worst habits. When the study is over I'll have no trouble taking the best parts of Nutrisystem, the focus on balanced macronutrients and a vegetable heavy diet, and incorporating it into a clean  diet for myself and my fiance.

So I'm working on remaining positive. I'm working on recognizing my hunger based anger...and boy do I get hangry...to reel back my crankiness when it gets the better of me.

And hey, if my future husband can love me through a very stringent diet, when I KNOW how unpleasant I can get, the rest of our lives will be a cake walk.

See....positive!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reconnecting

At first all I felt was trepidation and a bone deep surety that I'd be judged and found wanting. They mingled together, culminating in the dull throb of my heartbeat at the base of my throat. After all it had been years. What if I had forgotten how? I wrestled with the idea of turning around and heading home, but I was already at the front desk and Virginia, the woman behind it,  was smiling at me expectantly. After a brief internal conversation where I reminded myself there was absolutely no reason to feel nervous I tentatively told her why I'd come. I wanted to use the pool.

I thought the pool would be a good alternative to dry cardio,  which lately has left my legs aching. My logic was that alternating between aquatic and cardio workouts would spare my legs some pain.

I hadn't done more than splash about in the pool for years. I slipped into the water and took a deep, slow breath, unsure of what would come next. When I struck out with my first few strokes it felt just slightly less awkward than I expected.  I'm by no means a pro but I wasn't floundering. I made my way from one end of the pool to the other.  It was slow and left me gasping, but after about three goes I realized something.

I remembered how much I loved to swim.  I had forgotten how peaceful I found the world of pulse and breath that I've only found with my head submerged. After each pass I felt a bit more accomplished. I ended up staying until the center closed.  Even then I was totally willing to do more swimming. In the end I've reconnected with a live I'd forgotten and got a good workout all at once. 

We'll have to do this again sometime.