Welcome

Welcome to my blog. The purpose here is simple: to chronicle my thoughts, actions, plans, and goals in getting healthy in the year 2012. Feel free to look around and offer encouragement or suggestions.

Friday, December 31, 2010

"Hunger is insolent"

People assume that since I'm fat I must be stuffing my face all the time. The truth is just the opposite. Most people I've spoken to feel hungry at least every 5 hours or so, if not more frequently. I've recently been keeping a food journal in which I record when I eat, when I'm hungry, when I feel queesy, and when I visit the gym. I only feel the sensation of hunger three or four times a week. Don't get me wrong, I eat when I'm not hungry, but only because I feel like I should. And before you say "well of course you aren't hungry, you're always eating," you should also know I have gone as many as 14 hours between meals without so much as a tummy rumble. I'm coming to realize that this is not normal. It also may be contributing to my heftiness. Metabolism hasn`t quite figured out the 21st century yet, so when you don`t eat it assumes you are starving and goes into preservation mode, especially if you are less than active. Boosting my metabolism and eating regularly need to be priorities. Darned if I know how.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Plan

With Christmas over and the new year fast approaching it's time to really get my head on straight regarding this weight loss thing. In the spirit of forethought I have devised a goal and a plan. Hopefully this will keep me from wandering aimlessly through the year to come.

My goal is to lose about 10 pounds a month, every month, throughout 2011. I've gotten mixed responses when I share this with people. Some seem to think I don't understand that weight loss is difficult. I guess they assume I lack the drive to see it through. Some are nothing but supportive and encouraging. One friend seems worried that 10 pounds in a month isn't healthy. I did some research on it and it seems most nutritionists are fine with losing about 2 pounds a week. In order to meet my 10 pound a month goal I'd only need to trim 2.5 pounds a week, which doesn't seem unreasonable or unattainable to me. The hardest part will be sticking to my guns and following my plan. This is why I decided to split my year into four parts. Every three months I'm making graduated changes so I don't plateau or lose my mind and start binging. With no further adieu, here is my plan:

January-March:
*Sunday will be strictly vegetarian. This will be difficult for me because I love meat, but I managed to go a whole month without last year so I know I can do it.
*I will work out at the gym daily for a minimum of 30 minutes.
*Monday and Fridays will be "seafood days" where the only meat I'll eat will be fish. I like fish, so this should be pretty easy.
*I'm cutting way down on pre-prepare and processed foods. My new general rule will be "If I don't make it, I don't eat it." There will, of course, be exceptions, such as cheese, which I refuse to give up.
*I'm limiting the amount of meals I eat at restaurants to 3 a week. This may be the most challenging thing for me, as eating out has gone from a treat to a standard activity.
*I'm limiting my soda intake to 2 a week. I like soda, but I drink it irregularly, going through phases when I drink it with every meal and then alternatively not having any for weeks on end. Hopefully this will help curb the soda binges, and also work towards getting rid of the soda altogether.
*I will drink a minimum of 1 liter of water daily. My idea is to buy seven one liter bottles, each labeled for a day and refill them. This way, when the bottle is empty, be it during a meal or throughout the day, I know I've fulfilled my daily goal.

April-June:
*I'll be cutting my portion sizes by 1/4.
*Sunday and Tuesday will be strictly vegetarian.
*I will work out at the gym daily for a minimum of 30 minutes. Added to this will be a minimum of 30 minutes of weight training at least three days a week.
*Monday and Fridays will be "seafood days" where the only meat I'll eat will be fish. 
*I'll continue to minimize pre-prepare and processed foods.
*I'll be switching to whole grains if I haven't. I eat a lot of whole grains already so this shouldn't require a lot of effort.
*I'm limiting the amount of meals I eat at restaurants to two a week.
*I'm limiting my soda intake to 1 a week. 
*I will drink a minimum of 2 liters of water daily. 

July-September:
*I'll be cutting my portion sizes by another 1/4.
*Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday will be strictly vegetarian.
*I will work out at the gym daily for a minimum of 1 hour. Added to this will be a minimum of 30 minutes of weight training daily.
*Monday and Fridays will be "seafood days" where the only meat I'll eat will be fish. 
*I'll continue to minimize pre-prepare and processed foods.
*I'll continue eating whole grains.
*I'm limiting the amount of meals I eat at restaurants to once a week.
*I'm limiting my soda intake to 1 every other week. 
*I will drink a minimum of 3 liters of water daily. 

October-December:
*Depending upon my progress, I may be cutting my portion sizes by another 1/4.
*Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday will be strictly vegetarian.
*I will work out at the gym daily for a minimum of 1 hour. Added to this will be a minimum of 1 hour of weight training daily. (I'm not sure yet if I want to commit to one full hour of weights, as I'm not trying to get overly muscular.)
*Monday and Fridays will be "seafood days" where the only meat I'll eat will be fish. 
*I'll continue to minimize pre-prepare and processed foods.
*I'll continue eating whole grains.
*I'm limiting the amount of meals I eat at restaurants to once a week. I considered limiting myself further, but I don't believe I'd stick to it in the long run, but once a week I think I can do consistently.
*I'm limiting my soda intake to 1 every month. 
*I will drink a minimum of 4 liters of water daily. 

And there you have it. My plan is in place. I bought a pricey scale...not so much because it is pricey as because it was pretty. It gives me not only my weight, but also my body fat percentage, my hydration level, and my BMI(which I pretty much disregard, but that is a different issue). I'm going to weigh weekly and also take photographs of myself to keep track of my progress. It's almost time. I'm kind of excited!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Habit Forming

Habit 
noun-
a : a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance
b : an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary <got up early from force of habit>

Merriam-Webster, surprisingly, has several other definitions for a habit, but I only found this one relevant to my purposes. There are people who live their lives with the majority of their day already established for them by the habits they keep. They wake at the same time, eat at the same places, take the same route to and from work every day. I am not one of these people. I am distressingly non-habitual. So as with anything else that I'm not sure how to do, I did a little research. I wanted to know the best way to begin to form a habit and how long they take before they become involuntary. So I Googled. And Google was good. 

Most information that I found was related to how long habits take to form. The general consensus is that it takes 21 days. This comes from a publication written by a surgeon in the 60's named Dr. Maltz who noticed it took amputees 21 days to stop complaining of phantom pains in their nonexistent limbs. He eventually expanded his theory to include most major life changes. Surprisingly, there didn't appear to be a whole lot done in the area of habit formation since then. A study in London performed in 2009, however, found that the length of time it takes to form a habit corresponds to the difficulty and/or complexity of that habit. The study found that, on average, it took 66 days to effectively perform a task without thinking about it. They found some habits, like drinking water with every meal, took as little as 18 days whereas more trying activities, like doing 50 sit-ups daily, could take as many as 200 days before becoming second nature. They also found that a small group of participants were habit resistant, meaning they never really got to a point, even with daily repetition, at which the behavior didn't require thought and effort. 

The information on how to go about forming habits was much more varied. It ranged anywhere from "just do it" to an itemized list of step by step goals. I've chosen to share(and abide by) my favorites. Before attempting to develop your changing habit, have a plan and make a commitment. Tell yourself you're going to do it, and have a plan to back that up. It just so happens, I do have a plan, which I will share later, so I feel solid on my ability to complete this step. It is also recommended to change your habit as publicly as possible. This way, when you fall off the wagon,  you don't only have to answer to yourself, but to your network of supporters as well. Public blog: check. Go slowly. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking change has to be an all or nothing deal. I happen to believe in baby steps. One website I visited called them half-habits, baby steps in the direction of your goal. My plan incorporates change every 3 months to keep building my momentum. Reward yourself for success. Positive reinforcement is a powerful thing. I haven't figured out my reward system yet, but I will. And finally, be positive. When it comes right down to it the outcome is usually already set before we begin a project because or mindset about it is set. 

I can do it and I refuse to doubt myself.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Crash, No Burn

So unless stress, fear and general anxiety burn calories, I've had a pretty crappy morning on the weight loss front. I had plans, big plans, to fight all my urges to go to bed and work out for a full hour anyway. I was on my way to the gym when all my plans came crashing down. This was in large part due to the fact that I went crashing into another driver.

This is the first crash I've ever been in where I'm at fault. It felt horrible and I hope never to repeat it. Ever. The road I was traveling on ran due east, straight into the rising sun. I was coming up on a stoplight and was pretty much so focused on trying to figure out if the light was red or not. I only realized it was red because I realized the car in front of me was no longer moving forward. I hit my brakes and tried to turn, but discovered turning doesn't work so well when you're skidding more than stopping. I ended up rear ending him with all the force of a vindictive bumper car. In the end I was okay, he was okay, and the cars were barely damaged, at least as far as I could tell. The worst damage I suffered was shaking for 15 minutes and possibly running another red light on my way home(I'm really not sure). After I stopped shaking I cried. After I stopped crying I called my insurance agent. After I got off the phone with him I was just plain tired of dealing, so I decided to write about it, hoping it will relieve some of whatever this is that I'm feeling. I keep alternating between totally wired and completely drained so I'm not sure what I'm doing next. I can tell you one thing, though.

Whatever I choose to do next will not be in my car.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Farewell Hedonism

I have a secret...which is not so secret to anyone who really knows me. I'm a hedonist. I have spent the majority of my life adhering to the idea "if it feels good, it is good." Conversely I also like "if you don't like it, don't do it." Flip sides to the same coin, really, but that has been my modus operandi and, as a general rule, it has served me fairly well. But as with all general rules there are a few glaring exceptions. The most pertinent being that I grew rather wide eating the things I liked and avoiding exercise, which I believe I have explained that I don't. Currently even that hasn't presented a problem any more severe than an annoying inability to find clothing that doesn't look as if it were sewn entirely of remnants (seriously plus sized clothing can be absolutely hideous-we're fat not blind). I should amend that statement to say it hasn't presented any problems yet.

I'm not unintelligent. In fact, I have a Bachelors in biology. I know that maintaining my weight, such as it is, as I grow older will  lead to many problems, some that have the potential to kill me. It seems being overweight increases your risk for everything, and let's just say that the cards, genetically speaking, are not stacked in my favor to begin with. So it seems that in order to reverse this potentially lethal expansion of girth the hedonism has to go.

I started this morning. I denied myself what I wanted most twice in the space of fifteen minutes. First I wanted to do nothing more than to climb into bed after work today. I had a very strong impulse to forget there were such things as gyms and go home to much more pleasant companions: my pillows, my bed, and my big fluffy comforter. BUT after a heated internal debate, sticking to my guns and hitting the gym won out. I'm trying to establish a habit, after all, and what good does it do to establish the habit of avoiding your habit? If you followed that sentence, you know the answer is none. And when I get to the gym what do I spy across the street but the blazing red glory of the Krispy Kreme hot sign. Now I can generally pass up Krispy Kreme with relative ease, but there is something about a hot glazed that holds a special place in my heart. I very nearly reverted to my original plan, only with a new friend along for the party...but no. I turned my back on that scarlet temptress and got myself on an arc trainer. For those of you not familiar it's kind of a combination of stair-master and elliptical. I've found it kicks my butt harder than the other machines do. I set my newfound program and worked out for 45 minutes before calling it quits. I figure that way I average 30 minutes a day when you consider the measly 15 minutes I put in yesterday. I left the gym red in the face, dripping sweat, and satisfied that I did something good for me, even if I hated the whole process.

Then I went home and indulged my decadence with some Brie and grapes for breakfast. I guess the hedonist doesn't have to disappear completely after all.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A fat chick walks into a bar...

...and the power goes out! Don't get the joke? That's because it isn't one. About thirty seconds after I sign in at the gym the power totally shuts down. I was tempted to turn around and leave right then, but I'm trying to be better, so I decided to try to stick it out. I tried to fill my water bottle, but the water fountain is connected to the power so it didn't work. The locker room was pitch black, but I felt my way to an empty locker and stowed my sweatshirt anyway. I got on a self charging machine, set it for my regular hour, and got going with no water and no music. Now I need to explain at this point that I really hate working out. I detest it to the bottom of my soul so with nothing to distract me from the fact that I'm working out I'm pretty much in hell. To try to keep myself engaged I tried out a new program. I lasted 15 minutes. I do have to say that the new program worked me harder in that 15 minutes than what I usually do does in an hour, so I may keep it. I can't tell you which was worst, though, the persistent cramp in my right buttocks, the lack of any kind of stimulation, or the sound of my own ragged breathing breaking through the near silence. I decided I'd rather just return later when I have plenty of distractions to keep me occupied.

Getting Started...

...is the hardest part.

Welcome to my blog. I almost didn't make it. The purpose here is simple: to chronicle my efforts to get healthy in the year 2011. My hope is that my friends and perhaps a few total strangers will cheer me on when I flounder, help me up when I fall, and keep me going when I want to quit. And I will. Want to quit, that is. Lifestyle changes are far from easy, and never comfortable. As the Fiona Apple song says I'm "no good at being uncomfortable so [I] can't stop staying exactly the same." Well that has to change because I have to change. I am tired of being tired. I'm too young to feel this old, and from here on out it will only get worse if I don't do something now.

Basically the situation is this: I'm morbidly obese. Ouch. That hurt. Everything sounds more dire in clinical terms. I'm basically carrying around an entire other adult human being on my frame. Not good. So I've decided to get rid of her. In 2011 it is my resolution to lose around 10 pounds a month. Go big or go home, right? It can totally be done, it just requires a little motivation and a whole lot of discipline. I'm about a quart low on both, unfortunately. Which is the reason for this blog. Everything is more real when you write it down. My hope is that by writing down my successes and failures, my hopes and despairs, my thoughts and my actions it will keep me accountable for my successes and failures, my hopes and despairs, my thoughts and my actions.

And I want you to help. If I start making excuses, call me on it. Keep me honest. Keep me on track. Help me help myself. So here I am, taking the first step of what looks to be a very long journey. How's about you keep me company?