Saturday, August 30, 2008

Going to the Beach

I honestly believe that there is nothing as unproductive as regret, especially considering the number of mistakes, big and small, that I've made in my life. That doesn't mean that I don't sometimes let regret drag me down, but I do make serious efforts to avoid it.

That said, I try to learn from my mistakes. I make an effort to figure out what the universe and my subconscious are trying to tell me. That's how I've been trying to process my recent cookie related difficulties. After all, for someone with prediabetes, those little slip ups have implications for my health, not just my self-image (though that alone is bad enough).

After really considering my situation, I've decided that I need a change. I've been doing Weight Watchers with some success over the course of the last year and a half. During that time, I've lost 46 pounds, so I do believe that the program, when I stick to it can work. But I haven't seen the changes in my blood glucose I would expect and I've found the program really tedious lately.

I've heard a lot about the virtues of diets that focus on lowering overall carbs and encouraging "good" carbs from friends and medical professionals. With that in mind, I decided to give the South Beach Diet a shot.

I officially made the switch on Friday, so we'll see how it goes. I know that I will lose at least some weight just because, without being able to consume high carb foods, I'm just not eating as much as I was. The South Beach Diet claims that I'll lose 8-13 pounds during the first two weeks. I guess that's possible, but I'm not going to count on it.

On a positive note, I've already noticed a significant impact on my blood sugar, especially, my fasting blood sugar. (Which I find curious). This probably won't mean much to most people out there, but while my fasting bg is usually between 120-135, it was only 85 this morning! My post meal tests are lower than they have ever been since I began testing last year.

I've also noticed that I'm not hungry, which is probably due in part to the protein that I'm consuming. So far, my desperate desire to climb into the freezer case at the grocery store and eat all the Ben & Jerry's is absent, as well. Dr. Agatstun, the creator of the South Beach Diet, argues that carb cravings are actually caused and intensified by consumption of high glycemic index foods. He claims that people get addicted to sugar. That seems to gel with my own experiences. I've often discussed the emotional component of my overeating, but I've never really considered that there could be a physiological cause as well.

I wondered if I should mention the change here. I don't want to seem like I'm endorsing any particular diet. I decided to mention it because I blog about my weight loss efforts and this is a pretty significant change to them and I've certainly mentioned Weight Watchers before. It seemed reasonable that I should share. I also know that, in the end, people are smart enough to make up their own minds.

So I'm continuing the drive to -50 with a fresh perspective and new bag of tricks. I hope to post some progress pics when I get there. Enjoy your holiday weekend!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yours Truly and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

(Alexander's got nothing on me)

Yesterday was really the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and it seems like I was determined to make it that way! I really let things snowball.

I had gone to bed in very low spirits on Wednesday, probably because I was tired. I tried to deny and push away the funk, but I woke up feeling low on Thursday morning. I was overwhelmed by negativity. For some reason, when I began to conceptualize my day, I could only think of it as a series of tiresome, insurmountable obstacles.

The first of those was an adjustment at my orthodontist. In reality, the appointment could only have been more convenient if the office made house calls. I had scheduled the appointment for 8 am which is 30 minutes before I start work. The building the orthodontist is located in is about 3 blocks from my own office, they have convenient parking and they validate. They are also a very efficient staff. They got me right back, put in a new arch wire and I was on my way within 20 minutes. Looking at it now, I realize that it was only a minor inconvenience, especially considering the benefit I expect to derive from my 2.5 years with a metal mouth, but that's not the way I saw it yesterday.

Swooping into my office, I declared dramatically, "I'm back from the torture chamber!" (Don't despise me; I know what an ass I was, but it does get worse!) During work, while I expected to be swamped, I actually wasn't that busy. However, instead of being grateful for the chance to breath, I was bored.

It was in these spirits that I discovered the snickerdoodles. Ohhhh, THE HUMANITY! She Devil had brought in several dozen fresh baked cookies made with love and cinnamony-sugar goodness. I immediately thought, "with a day like I'm having today, I deserve some cookies." For some reason, all logical thought processes shut down. It wasn't even until I had consumed about a half a dozen of them that I realized what I'd done. Calories and points and the sacrifices I'd need to make to balance out my day never entered into my mind. Going forward with my day, I could have made the decision to let it go, but I was consumed with self-loathing.

By the evening, my teeth were killing me. The wire they used this time was much heavier than the last and I couldn't chew if I wanted to. So I fell asleep on the couch. When my sister (who is also my housemate) arrived home last night, she snuck quietly to the kitchen and made me some tomato soup for dinner.

I was totally appreciative, but that didn't stop me from becoming a complete jackass. After finishing my soup, I announced that what I really needed was a milk shake. My sister, who I will refer to as "The Peach" in the rest of this post, reminded me that a milk shake wasn't consistent with my goals, especially after Snickerdoodle Fest '08. I then became sullen and cranky--a state which basically lasted until I went to sleep and probably caused The Peach no end of misery.

So looking back on yesterday (if you haven't clicked away in disgust) I realize that the only truly bad thing that happened to me was me. I had a shitty attitude from the start and spoiled what could have been an otherwise lovely day. If I hadn't had such a bad attitude, I probably wouldn't have gone apeshit on the cookie tray and I certainly wouldn't have been bitchy to The Peach.

All I can do is learn from yesterday (and think of creative ways to make up for being a Gremlin). I'm making a concerted effort to focus on the positive. I've got a lot of reasons to be happy and excited about life.

Of course, one of these is a fresh start. As you can see if you look to the sidebar, I've joined Chubby Chick's Christmas Challenge! Christmas has always been my very favorite holiday, so that's certainly something to look forward to. That said, I'm being weary lest my old demons rear their ugly heads. While my goal of getting below 200 pounds by Christmas is lofty, I believe it's achievable. But if I don't get to onderland by Christmas, that's okay too. I know that if I focus my efforts, I'll lose at least some weight by then.

So what are you happy and excited about today? Have you ever had an irrational bitch day?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Desk/Chair Combo, Torture me No More

I weighed in today at 232 pounds--down one pound. I had so wanted to get below 230. I know it's just a number, but dropping into a new 10 pound increment is a real psychological shot in the arm. I like lovely round numbers. It's for that sick reason that I sort of wish I'd started my weight loss at 280 instead of 278. Weird, I know!

But on a different knot, I much prefer when I can measure my success entirely independently of numbers. Usually, these opportunities present themselves when I'm not even seeking them out.

One example was the day I realized my "lady junk" khakis were too big. I call them that because at my highest weight they were so snug that wearing them put every aspect of my anatomy on display. They have both a button and a drawstring, and when I first bought them, I had to use the drawstring to close them because I couldn't get them buttoned without popping an eye out. (You may ask why I didn't just buy the next size up--I was in denial; I thought if I didn't buy the next size, I wasn't that big). However, one day a few months ago, I realized I had to use the same drawstring to keep them from dropping around my ankles. It was the first time the number on the scale had any concrete meaning to me and the first time I really believed that I had lost the weight.

Yesterday, I had another one of those weird "non scale victories" as my Weight Watchers leader calls them. I have been a student for most of my life and probably will be for the remainder. However, when I first began college I met with a frightful and humiliating fiend--the desk/chair combo. In case anyone is not aware, the desk/chair combo is constructed with your average human in mind. While some allowances are made for those social deviants who insist on writing with their left hands, I discovered on that first day of class, freshmen year that no such allowances are made for plus sized folks.

I'd try to make it to class before everyone else so that no one would see me working to wedge myself into the chair. My butt would hang over the side and the desk would cut into my stomach which would spill over the top of the writing surface. Once I was in my seat, I prayed I wouldn't have to get out until the end of class when I would shuffle my papers so I could get up in privacy. The difficulty is that I would sometimes need to get up to get a paper or to do something in front of the class. A few times, when I stood, the chair came with me. Other times I had to shimmy my way out with what felt like the whole world's eyes upon me. Some people snickered and whispered--jackasses.

These vile contraptions were the only seating available in virtually all my classes. They were a constant, humiliating reminder of my size. They made it impossible to deny. Probably the worst thing about it is that it made me compare myself to other college girls. I noticed that other girls could fit piled two high in the desks, which is a lot like what I imagine it would feel like to see one (or two) of them try on my "lady junk" pants.

Last night, as I was sitting in my class, I became conscious of the space between my abdomen and the writing surface. I realized, with glee, that I could slip in and out of the desk with ease. I almost started crying right there in the middle of the lecture. It was so beyond belief that a difficulty that had dominated my college experience was behind me. That's a victory! Who cares if the scale say 232 or 500. Those real, quality of life differences are what I'm striving for.

So what about you? What non scale victories can you claim or what are you striving for?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Philosophy 101 Revisited

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

For Dr. O, a psych professor at my Alma Mater, this was practically a mantra. I had the pleasure of having what amounted to a wellness class with him only last semester, and he spoke those words at virtually every meeting. I've also seen it on a lot of blogs, so it certainly isn't fresh insight for me.

That's why I was surprised when it popped into my head at 4:45 this morning. I was awoken by the strops, purrs and drips of drool that I can expect when by 3 year old calico, Betty Lou, manages to get my bedroom door open. Typically, I give her the requisite attention, send her off and return to sleep, but this morning that quote was burned into my brain.

Maybe it resonated with me so well today because I had gone to bed feeling guilty. It wasn't so much that I had overeaten yesterday, but rather that I had eaten and overeaten when I didn't feel hungry. I was stressed out about work and personal relationships and there just happened to be cookies and light ice cream in the kitchen. I didn't binge, but I wasn't eating to relieve any physical hunger and that made me feel out of control and angry. As my head hit the pillow, I felt like a failure and I was sorely disappointed in myself.

But listening to the predawn rain with the warmth of a cat on my chest, I found new perspective. I buy into the idea that we are what we repeatedly do. On the most basic level, I had to repeatedly eat more calories than I burned to tip the scales at nearly 280 pounds. I wasn't "an over eater" the first time I stuffed myself at Thanksgiving. That became part of my identity as I continued to do it on a daily basis. By the same token, jogging around the block won't make me an athlete and showing compassion on one, isolated occasion won't make me a good person.

What matters is the sum of who we are and what we do. On this journey, I need to focus on pushing forward and I need to treat every day and every moment as a chance to shape who I am and who I will become. If, in the grand tally, I make healthy choices more often than less healthy ones, I will eventually achieve my goals. That's it. Cultivating excellence is as simple and as difficult as that.

Finding comfort in food and laying in front of the T.V. have been part of who I am for as long as I can remember. Changing the fabric of my being is bound to take some time, and I bet there will be some rips along the way.

O.K. The metaphors are getting thick and deep in here, so why don't you share your own perspective!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Please Don't Feed the Animals!

One of the worst things about working in my office is that well-meaning people often bring in food for everyone to enjoy. Hardly a day goes by that I'm not tempted by a pan of fudgey brownies, a basket of muffins, a coffee cake or, worst of all, a plate of fresh chocolate chip cookies or snickerdoodles.

All of these are typically laid out on the table where I used to get my coffee, and I always found it difficult to hold back while pouring my java. Interested in removing myself from tempting circumstances, I took matters into my own hands and got a coffee pot which I keep in a different, snack free location. Now I can enjoy my morning brew without placing myself in a difficult situation.

That being said, I certainly do not begrudge anyone else their morning sugar rush. Temptations like these will face me the rest of my life and I have to learn how to prioritize and make good decisions. That's right--I have to learn to make good decisions in the face of temptations--I don't need someone else to make them for me.

And there's very little that gets my panties in a bunch quite like having someone "help" me decide what to eat. Before anyone knew I had lost weight, no one bothered me about what I ate. Now that my efforts are common knowledge around my office, my stick thin boss is constantly advising me not to eat the baked goods people bring in. Usually, when someone has a birthday she says something like, "you don't want any cake, right?" I realize that she is thin because she doesn't eat, but I would never want that to be my reality.

My goal is to lose 120 pounds, and it's become apparent that it might take me years to accomplish. Thinking that I can or even should go without the occassional piece of cake or ice cream cone for the next 3 years seems crazy. Firstly, it suggests that what I'm doing is merely a temporary diet that I can go off of when I reach my goal. But the trouble with that is that I imagine I would pack the pounds back on fairly quickly if I bought into that philosophy. Secondly, I don't think complete self denial would work out so well for me. It wouldn't take me very long to start feeling deprived and we all no where that would go.

As a side note, it could just be my deep-seated difficulty with authority, but when someone advises me not to eat something, it usually increases my desire to eat it. I know that's self sabotaging, but I don't want people to think that I'm going to stop eating because I'm trying to lose weight. (When I was at my heaviest, I was always reluctant to eat junk food in front of people because I didn't want anyone to think, "no wonder she's fat!"). I know that smacks of disordered eating, but what can I say? I'm a work in progress.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I owe my success to BBC!

The most dangerous time of day for my weight loss efforts is from 5-6:30PM. I usually come through the front door by quarter to five at which point my Pomeranian is dying to doodle. I take her to do her business, then I schlep upstairs where I change into something comfortable.

The trouble is, that for the next 1.5 hours, I'm alone with the food. I know that the 100 calorie snack packs are sitting defenseless in the pantry. This is also typically the time when I am still stressed out from work. I'm tired and cranky and probably hungry, but most importantly, I'm usually jonesing for some sugar.

Before I started my efforts to lose weight, my binges were extraordinary. I'd gather up anything that looked good and consume a whole days worth of calories in the passage of a half an hour. Over the last year, I have reformed. While the need to feed still takes over, at least the items I'm consuming are more innocuous. I know I could do some serious damage with Weight Watchers ice cream and Quakes, but I'd have to try pretty damn hard.

Nevertheless, I would very much like to beat my post work mini binges. And it seems like I may do just that with the help of the BBC! Lately, from 5-6pm, I've been tuning in for a full hour of the show How Clean is Your House? which often depicts sights so ghastly that it challenges my ability to hang on to my lunch, let alone shovel in an afternoon snack!

If you are unfamiliar, let me enlighten you but I warn you, this is not for the feint of heart or anyone who is currently eating: The hosts of the show, Aggie and Kim, travel throughout England helping people clean their hopelessly dirty homes. The filth they encounter in each show goes way beyond mere clutter and simply defies belief. Usually, the show features carpets that have never seen a vacuum, toilets caked with various types of bio hazard, rotting food scattered about and some sort of insect infestation. The two worst I have seen so far featured no less than 5 dead mice clustered together in various stages of decomposition and an infestation of slugs! If you aren't sick yet and would like to see more, you can find enough to "put you off your tea," as Aggie and Kim say, on youtube.

My disgust lingers for awhile after the program is over, so it carries me through until I am out of the danger zone. As an added bonus, the show provides me with wonderful inspiration to clean up my own apartment. I probably shouldn't get too comfortable depending on disgust to keep my snacking at bay. But I know that just as snacking has become a major habit for me, not snacking can too. I'm hoping that overtime, I will be free of the pre dinner need to feed and eventually will not have to rely on revulsion to help me get into my new pants, but right now, I'm tuning in daily.

So thanks, BBC, for your vile programming. I couldn't do it without you!

Closer to Pretty

The thing with having a lot of weight to lose is that it isn't an instant gratification situation. Actually, for the first year/35 pounds only people who knew I was trying to lose weight ever commented on my success. In fact, only a few months ago a concerned co worker pulled me aside to talk about how much weight she had lost and to say, "I just wanted to let you know that I'm happy to talk to ANYONE who is thinking about gastric bypass."

I was pissed! I had worked so hard and was losing weight even if it was coming off slowly. I felt like she should recognize it or at least not bully me about surgical options, so I told her I'd pass it along if anyone asked.

It wasn't until recently when, as I began to approach my 50th pound, and bought new clothes in a size 18 to compliment my shrinking bod, that people really started to notice. It was exactly what I had thought I wanted. Every day, at least one person told me how much thinner or "better" I looked and my boss constantly told me how "proud" she was of me. (Her "pride" is another post by itself).

Now, I work with a lot of women, and if there's one thing I've learned over the last year of struggling with my weight, listening and reading other blogs, it's that most women, no matter what their size at least say they want to lose weight. We live in a figure obsessed culture, so I tried to accept compliments gracefully as they came.

But for some reason, I have difficulty making the same allowances for my family. I visited my mother this weekend, and found my grandparents chillin' their as usual. I was wearing an outfit that fits and so was barraged with compliments as soon as I came in. I was actually enjoying having my head expanded until my mother said, "between the braces and the weight loss, you'll be very pretty when you're all done." *Shit*

It reminded me of the time, about a year ago, when I'd been on my diet for a few months, and was talking to my dad about kids. I said that I'd like to have kids some day, but, as I have never even been on a date before, it seems like my chances of falling in love and starting a family are limited. He said, "I don't know. You're losing weight; maybe someone will ask you out when you get thin enough."

Both times I felt my stomach lurch. I felt angry and ashamed and very sad, I think because I was glimpsing what my parents really thought of me. Not pretty yet. Too fat to date, but getting there. I wanted to cry but felt confused. They were complimenting me, right? Then why do I feel like shit? Thinking about it makes my eyes sting with tears, even now.

The truth is, I'm losing weight in an attempt to avoid the diabetes that has claimed my parents. If I do meet someone when I'm thinner, will I ever really know whether he would have loved me now or last year? Should it matter? Is physical attraction all that matters for men?

I guess I'll have to wait until I'm a little closer to pretty to find out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Everyone who knows me well, knows that I've been battling my weight my whole life. I've never known what it's like to be thin and I've had a serious yearning to find out for as long as I remember.

The trouble is that, through out my life, I would start a diet with an event in mind. I would want to lose weight by the end of summer vacation so I could wow all my classmates with my super hot new bod. Or I'd want to lose weight by Christmas to impress my extended family. As I became older and more goal oriented, I thought that it would be nice to lose all the weight I needed to lose by New Year's Eve. Or by the start of high school or college or grad school.

I think goals are great, but the problem is that they were seldom achievable. Thinking I could be capable of losing 50 pounds in the course of three months was short of realistic. Always the planner, I would lay out the number of pounds I needed to lose per day and week to achieve my goal. However, when week one came to a close and I wasn't 4.16 pounds lighter, I felt like a failure. I would decide that I would never lose 50 pounds, so why even try, and I would fall hopelessly off the wagon.

The kicker is, that when the next event began to loom, I would always say, "If only I had stuck to my diet, I would be where I wanted to be right now."

Now as the New Year is already looming ahead of me, I'm well aware that I need to lose about 1.75 pounds per week to get below 200 pounds by the time the ball drops. Given that information, standing on the scale in my Weight Watchers meeting and finding out that I had only lost .8 pounds should have sent me into a cookie eating spiral.

However, on the walk back to my office I had a sort of epiphany. Maybe I won't be down below 200 pounds on New Year's Eve, but if I continue doing what I'm doing now, I'll certainly be closer to it than I am today and closer still by New Year's Eve 2009! I'm the one who set the goal! Who cares if I fall a little short of it as long as I don't give up!!! I've got a lot of years left to live and every healthy choice I make brings me closer to living them the way I want to--even if it takes a lot longer than I want it to.