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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My Kitchen Called...

...to say it missed me.

SO yesterday was my birthday. That means this previous weekend was my birthday weekend (my logic is astounding, I know) which pretty much meant I let my hedonism run rampant from Friday to Monday. While I have no regrets about it (I believe I mentioned my disdain for regret), I definitely feel the difference in my body that comes of eating out for nearly every meal and indulging in foods I normally wouldn't. Today I was back in the kitchen for the first time in days. In all honesty, it felt similar to coming home after a long vacation. You had fun while you were gone but nothing feels like home. My designated days were on suspension, but I've jumped right back into them today. It seems fitting that today should be a vegetarian day. There is nothing quite like eating nothing but vegetables all day to bounce back from horrid eating. My lunch of sauteed squash and baked sweet potato almost made me sigh with joy. I realized I miss cooking for myself. I'm good at it; as tasty and delightful as restaurant food may be, I can make just as good at home with the bonus that it is all natural and great for me.

I want to take a moment to let the hippie in me free to tout the benefits of eating as naturally as possible. I may have said this before, but nature gives you everything you need to live a healthy lifestyle. Why add a bunch of chemical additives, most of which are laboratory accidents, to something that already has tons of goodness in it? That's not food, that's a science project. I personally have become almost obsessive about reading ingredients and frankly it has done me a lot of good. There is no reason the food in my food should be the third or fourth ingredient in the can/box/bag/whatever. True story: a friend tried to give me a bag of frozen chicken breasts. I read the ingredients and CHICKEN was the third ingredient. In chicken breasts. And then there were about five ingredients after that, including artificial coloring to make the char lines. Needless to say, I did not take the filler-chemical-and-then-chicken breasts. But all of that can be avoided if you just buy actual chicken. Then there's no confusion. I buy all my meat raw, then vacuum seal it and freeze it myself. It thaws and tastes just as good as if I had cooked it straight from the tray. I buy all of my produce from the farmer's market, with a trip to the produce section if I absolutely have to have something that is out of season. Here comes an ultra hippie statement: everything I eat is of the earth and has passed through as few hands as I can possibly manage. I'm not saying you should eat all organic, grass fed, cage free, whatever other ungodly expensive earth friendly alternative is out there everything. I am saying that quitting the pre-made stuff and making your own foods from the most basic ingredients is the only way to truly control what you eat. Don't be fooled by claims that things are low fat, low cholesterol, low calorie, whatever. They get that way by sucking the food out of food and adding taste good chemicals with absolutely no nutritional value. Don't believe me? Go pick up a low fat whatever and its full fat counterpart. I will bet money as to which has more ingredients and more chemicals...you know, all that stuff you can't pronounce. You want low fat, low calorie? Eat all the vegetables you can stand.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Conscious Attentiveness

Weight loss is simple. By the numbers it is strictly a matter of consuming fewer calories than you expend. However simple is never simple. Weight loss is staggeringly difficult. There are a million things that can potentially trip you up and impede your progress before you leave your home for the day. It requires a willingness to turn your back on years of habit. It requires an ability to deny yourself the one thing you want most in a given moment. It requires nothing short of conscious attentiveness. What is conscious attentiveness?  Conscious attentiveness is a state in which every decision and action is carefully considered, measured, and executed with full cognizance. It's a term I've seen used in relation to yoga and psychology, but it applies to the weight loss process as well. It means looking past I want this to I want this but I'll forego this because I don't want the consequences of this. So right now you may be thinking, don't you always make decisions with cognizance? I mean, isn't the fact that it was a decision indicative of some kind of attentiveness? Well, yes and no. We, as living beings, eat. But how often do you consider why you're eating? A step farther, how often do you consider why you chose to eat what you ate? And farther still, how often have you considered the potential ramifications of eating what you ate before you ate it? Conscious attentiveness means considering, not only whether or not to eat, but what to eat, why to eat it, and what might be the outcome of eating it.....all before you put anything anywhere near your mouth. It is much more difficult than you might think. As Americans we have almost been trained to eat what is there. After a lifetime of eating what is convenient, it gets tricky not slipping back into that habit. After all, it is all too easy to gorge on junk or fast food and justify it by claiming to have been too hungry to wait. But that becomes a slippery slope that gets harder and harder to climb with each justification. I have come to understand that every meal needs to be carefully considered before I eat it. Just eating something, anything, isn't going to cut it if I want to continue progressing. It is more than just a good idea to consider what I'm eating and how it was prepared. It's necessary. More than that, it's necessary for every meal, every snack, every drink.

That being said, I'm trying to be as good as possible this week, as my birthday weekend is coming up and I fully plan to eat and drink badly. So the plan is to get a little ahead, if I can, so I backslide to where I might have been anyway without such concentrated effort. It makes sense in my head, even if that plan may have already been blown. Father's day brought with it a trip to The Cheesecake Factory, and the single piece of cheesecake I had, as undeniably tasty as it was, set me back three pounds all by its delicious little self. I intend to bounce back as hard as possible, but I've pretty much already developed a c'est la vie attitude. I refuse to be so consumed with a number on the scale that I start engaging in unhealthy behavior just to get to the number I want. I intend to apply some serious conscious attentiveness and eat like the healthiest week of food ever. Well, until Friday anyway.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

In Transition

I notice my weight loss much like I noticed my weight gain, not at all. While I get more and more friends and associates  commenting on my weight loss, I can honestly say that 35+ pounds lighter looks the same to me in the mirror as it always has. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday I visited the pool for the first time this year. While I was toweling off I noticed my lower legs look extra skinny. This goes along with my forearms, which I have been noticing look startlingly skinny while I'm driving. I commented on this to the friend I had with me and she said, "That's because you have tiny ankles...at least you don't have cankles." I'll admit, as a fat chick I have worried about developing cankles. I had cankles once in Vegas after walking the strip from Mandalay Bay all the way down to the Stratosphere Tower, a 4.5 mile walk, and back. That was, understandably, because my feet and legs were ridiculously swollen. Other than that I've been relatively cankle free, thank goodness. But enough about cankles. I guess the point is that I always kind of assumed I had hefty bone structure under all the fat, but it might not be the case. I'm kind of excited to find the small boned me that's hidden inside the fat chick.

That's another thing. Why do people insist on participating in assisted denial? I speak frequently about being fat. I never call myself fat in a derogatory or bitter way, but simply as a matter of fact. I AM fat. I made peace with that a long time ago. Sure I'm working towards not being fat anymore, but at the moment I'm fat and don't mind admitting it. So why is it that most people feel the need to vehemently deny that fact? Example: at the pool my friend suggested making a sarong out of my towel. While my towel was big, I was bigger and I knew that and said so. I said, "That won't work, I'm still fat." She scoffed at me and gave me this look that implied I was delusional. So I demonstrated. Sure enough, I was too fat for saronging. It made me wonder why admitting my fatness and being comfortable with it so clearly makes others so uncomfortable. That wasn't the first time, and certainly won't be the last, but I don't need anyone to deny my size on my behalf. Perhaps people feel that agreeing with me when I mention being fat might be rude, but I'd rather it garner no comment than enthusiastic denial.

But one thing is still true. At least I don't have cankles!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Overachieving...

So, moved by the need to show more than a measly five pounds of improvement this month, I really wanted to push myself as it came to my workout. I did that. This morning I set my cardio machine to a higher resistance and really pushed myself to keep up with the girl next to me, who happened to be half my size and probably a good five years younger by the looks of her. This evening, I am paying for my exuberance. I've been vaguely uncomfortable since I rolled out of bed this afternoon. My knees have decided to remind me I'm too old and fat to be running around like a twenty year old. My legs ache from the extra effort exerted this morning and I've had a nagging feeling I've put myself right on the cusp of an actual injury. On top of that, my lower back decided to add its voice to the chorus, bothering me more than it has in a long while. I was in the middle of stretching to try to ease some of my discomfort when I got a charlie horse the size of my fist in my hamstring just above the back of my knee. Talk about pain. I actually felt the knot, hard as a rock, through all the fat of my thigh. I immediately started yelping and hopping around like a crazy person, thankful nobody was around to witness (there are some distinct advantages to working third shift). After executing an emergency hamstring stretch, I hobbled over to, and tumbled into, the first seat I could find. Thoroughly chastened, I can admit to having learned my lesson. There is a difference between challenging yourself in a way that will elevate your fitness level and trying to accomplish too much too fast by biting off more than you can chew.  So I'm now left feeling a little discouraged, a little old, and a lot less fit than I obviously thought I was. Boo.

On a positive note, my chiropractor has told me that all my current exercises are ok, save two. I can't do any shoulder lifts or get on the machine that makes me push weight backward. I never liked doing shoulder lifts, so I'm happy to have a valid excuse to avoid them. I did kind of enjoy the back flexor (as I will refer to it), but I can see why that isn't the best option for me. I've fallen away from doing my weight training, but I recognize the need to get back to it. I am not really looking forward to it. It's the sore muscles. I don't like them. I understand them. I even understand why being sore is, ultimately, a positive thing. But I don't like them, and I really, really hate having to hear people be cheerful about MY soreness. They'll say "what's wrong?" or, "you're a little stiff today, huh?" prompting me to go into detail about my exercise plan at which point I invariably hear "you should be happy!" or "that means it's working!" or both. Nothing makes me want to haul off and hit someone more than hearing all about how I should be joyful at the prospect of daily pain. Bite me. So it is very difficult to refrain from using that as an excuse to avoid weight training all together. I won't. I've made a promise to myself and I'm intent on keeping it. Sometimes I might just need a little more of a nudge than others. I just need to suck it up and get myself lifting. Just not today, because I clearly need a little recovery before I get my fool self hurt for real this time.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

May in Summary

As the most glorious month in existence dawns (I was born in June, can you tell?), it is again time to review the previous month. I began May at 284.2 and ended May at 279 even. 5.2 pounds in the right direction is nothing to sneeze at, but, as with April, it falls far short of my goals. May was the Month of the Yo-Yo. I actually hit 280 three times this month only to pop back up to around 286. I'll be honest. This month I really, really struggled. It was as if I had my momentum going and then just, poof, lost it. Totally. Complete and utter lack of motivation took over. As you may remember I attempted to alleviate this problem by taking a week long break. This did work, sort of. I had all the right urges to eat right and exercise...but that week off was the first time I hit 280 so I think I convinced myself that backing off a little was acceptable. I quickly realized that I had lied to myself again. I redoubled my efforts to eat better and hit the gym again. I did great for about a week, then hit a really rough week full of meetings, appointments, and exhaustion. I let myself slide with the idea that I was "too tired" to go work out and "too tired" to cook for myself. And as I let myself slide, the number on the scale again slid upward. As I acknowledged that I was too tired for exercise, but still, obviously, needed to do it if I wanted results, I compensated by barely eating. This was actually pretty easy as I had absolutely no appetite. I still don't, but I'm attempting to work around it. But May is behind me and I feel much better about the whole thing and my ability to succeed moving forward. These are the things we need to shake off and leave behind us. Now I need to be vigilant against the dreaded IWant monster. I gave in to the IWant today. I got myself some chicken tenders and a milkshake after debating with myself for about twenty minutes. The IWant is strong. I am determined (from here on out anyway) to be stronger. But the truth is, I'm a little weak and I could use some encouragement. Please feel free to give me a pep talk when you see me.