Friday, October 31, 2008


Some day, I will be able to live my life without looking at everything through the lens of weight, but today is not the day. Halloween has always meant two things to me: 1. The chance to pretend to be someone else for a day and 2. the chance to eat ludicrous amounts of candy.

Dressing up is probably the best part of Halloween. I love the idea of putting on a whole new, completely unique self. My co-workers are really creative. They build their own costumes from stuff they have at home and they usually come up with some pretty clever stuff. I on the other hand , tend to be fairly unimaginative in my costume choice. If I can't purchase it as a package deal, I probably won't bother. What I've noticed is that my options for costumes are much wider than they were 50 pounds ago. It's nice that I can choose something other than nun or ghost now. Hooray for non scale victories!

As far as consuming massive quantities of of candy is concerned, that should not really be an option for me now. (Especially since I broke up with Jack!) I have tried not to eat candy with the reckless abandon I used to. That said, by the time we shut out the porch light, I may have eaten almost as much chocolate as I handed out. Uggg! I could have taken steps to avoid such massive transgressions. I especially like MizFit's suggestion to indulge planfully. I could have tried to find candy that I actually wouldn't eat. But I didn't do any of that; I pigged out.

Thankfully, tomorrow's a new day and the start of a new month. It's a chance for a fresh start and the formation of new goals.

I hope you had a happy Halloween and took advantage of the chance to be someone else and make other people smile today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern

Oh Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern, how I wish we had never met! You were meant to be festive, sitting with your joyful cranium stuffed with Kit Kat's and Reese's peanut butter cups. I could have waited to place you on the dining room table, but your wide grin won me over. I felt certain that I was strong enough to resist your allure. After all, your contents were intended for the tiny dinosaurs, vampires, clowns and princesses that will be coming to call on you this Friday night.

Perhaps the heart of my difficulty was the forbidden nature of our relationship. In the end, it made you positively irresistible. I meant to just grab my piece and break things off, but you've kept me coming back for more.

Jack, we're through. You're just no good for me! Wipe that silly smile of your face and turn away that seductive gaze. By the way, please don't pretend that we've been exclusive; I saw you with my grandmother this weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Joined the Wellsphere Community

I'm always looking for new resources to make my weight loss efforts easier. To that end, I've joined the Wellsphere community. Wellsphere is a website that combines medical information from physicians in a variety of specialties with social support networks. The site connects users with local resources as well as a variety of blogs.

But what really got me enthusiastic about the site was the level of personalization available to users in the My Wellsphere tab. Create a login and you can join a variety of teams and communities. You can also set goals and receive regular reminders via email or text message, which I was really grateful for today.

Originally, I had intended to brew a cup of Earl Grey and spend my lunch hour with my feet up, attacking my new stack of paperbacks. I'd just opened my tea bag when my phone buzzed with a text message that inquired, "How much have you walked today?" as a friendly reminder that one of my goals is to walk 60 minutes a day, 5 days this week. So instead of kicking back, I laced up my sneakers and taking my usual route to the park, I enjoyed a walk that was good for my mind, body and soul.

It really is a wonderful season for a long walk. I'm sure it's been said before that Autumn is an absolute feast for the senses, and today was no exception. The weather was brisk, but not cold. The foliage was nothing short of amazing. My path was lined with glorious trees, determined not to go quietly into winter, positively afire with shocking oranges and yellows in shades rarely seen outside of a box of paints. As I walked, I was met with the rich aroma and the symphonic crunch of a carpet of crimson castoffs.

So why are you sitting here reading this? Get out there and experience it for yourself! Go on! But before you go, check out Wellsphere by clicking on the badge on my page or going to Feel free to post your opinions of the site in my comments. Hope you make time to enjoy the season!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Assertiveness in Action

If there's anything worse than the feeling I get when I know I've made a bad decision, it's the feeling get when I know I've let someone else do it for me. In the former situation, I may feel remorseful, but I also am aware of my own personal power. But when I allow someone else to make choices for me, I abdicate that power, feel a loss of control over the course of my life and am faced with regret and resentment.

In spite of all this emotional disharmony, I regularly am a passive witness to my own life. This is especially true when it comes to my lifestyle, and most especially, my diet. I have blogged about allowing my co-workers' behavior to influence my own, but the truth is, that's only part of the problem.

Most of the issues arise when I'm with my family, which on the whole does not share my weight loss goals. I live with my sister, who in my days near 300 pounds, was my snacking buddy. We planned out our ice cream, pizza, cake and cookie feasts with serious delight and overwhelming anticipation. Then we would devour our food without a shred of guilt.

The trouble is that, much of the time, my sister still wants to do just that. She's not trying to sabotage me, but she's made it clear that she doesn't like to indulge alone. But sabotage she does, just by virtue of how guilty she makes me feel. She'll say that we should have ice cream and if I say that I don't want any, she'll say "but it's no fun to eat it if you don't." Then she'll tell me that I probably could have just a little; that it wouldn't hurt "just this once." Before long, she has me in the kitchen dishing out two bowls of ice cream.

When I view the problem in retrospect I know that part of the trouble is that I really do want the ice cream, and am, therefore, a lot easier to convince. But I think that the greatest difficulty is that I'm not accustomed to being assertive about what I want. Rather, it's more important that other people are satisfied. I know a lot of people, women in particular, who have a similar problem. My situation is complicated enough, but throw in children, a husband or sick parents, and it can be really easy to let your interests get lost to the general good.

I don't want that. I deserve to get what I need just as much as anyone else, but I know that I'm going to have to struggle for what I want. To that end, I tried my assertiveness hat on last night. My sister wanted to order dinner from a local Chinese restaurant, but she wanted to use our limited funds to get fried foods covered in sauces or surrounded by rice and noodles. I told her that those foods wouldn't fit with my goals. She could order them if she liked, but I wasn't going to eat them. She then suggested pizza, sausage hoagies and a whole host of foods that would provide an entire day's worth of calories in one shot.

I held my ground. She sat on the end of the couch looking sad and talking about how there was no food in the house. I said, "Let's go to the grocery store then." But she didn't want to. Finally, around 7:30, a whole 1hr 45min after this whole debate began, we struck a compromise and went to a place where I got a delicious salad and she got what she wanted.

It was exhausting and stressful, but I feel great this morning knowing that I was strong. I know change is hard for everyone, but I was very clear that she was welcome to eat whatever she pleased. I said this without judgment, but her issue was that she wanted me to follow her down the garden path. Part of me wanted to follow. It would have been incredibly easier, but I knew I had to stand firm for my goals. In the end my assertiveness won the day.

I hope everyone else is having courage and enjoying success today! Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Merits of Meetings

When I first started this process, I really didn't know how to lose weight. I thought that weight loss was a secret that only movie stars, athletes and Oprah shared. Along the way, I found ways to educate myself. I saw a nutritionist, surfed the web, and talked to other people who had reached their weight loss goals. Finally, I attended some Weight Watchers meetings.

By now, I know what to do. And yet, I don't always do it. In fact, I've blogged a lot recently about how this is the time of year when I seem to lose all of my motivation. As the days grow shorter and colder in my neck of the woods, pumpkin pie becomes a lot more tempting than walking the dog. I've done well up to this point, but if I'm going to stave off the wolf at the door, which is diabetes in my case, I need to do better.

That's why I've turned my attention this morning to weight loss meetings. I had attended weight loss meetings with some significant success, but I decided to stop going. A friend of my said, "You know how to lose weight! Why pay all that money to go to a meeting to hear what you already know by heart?" Her argument made sense, so I pocketed the cash and decided to try it on my own.

The result? Well, have you seen my weight loss ticker move recently? I'm not saying my recent struggles have been completely related to my decision to go it alone, but to be honest, I think there's a real connection. Many people reap serious benefits from attending weight loss meetings.

Firstly, in attempting to make any major life change, it helps to have support. You can get that in the blogging community, but face to face communication is always more powerful. I never actually shared much in my meetings, but I got a lot out of hearing others talk about their barriers and victories.

Secondly, having a meeting always helped me to stay mindful of my goal. It's easy to get diet amnesia when someone's offering me a piece of cake, but if I know that another human being is going to see my weight in bright red numbers on a digital screen, I'm more likely to stay strong. Also, the fact that I knew other people would be asking me how I did at my meeting was some serious motivation.

I also always felt that attending meetings was a concrete way to demonstrate the commitment that I was making to myself. Once a week, I set aside an hour to consider my priorities and evaluate my progress. It's easy to forget to do that now that I'm solo.

I know meetings aren't the answer for everyone, but as the holidays approach, I think I need to return to them. It's a significant financial outlay to be making at this time of year, but there's certainly no surer investment on Wall Street these days!

Friday, October 17, 2008

An Unpleasant Night

I had a low day yesterday. It was one of those days where I felt overwhelmed and invisible. It wasn't necessarily a logical state of mind, but I just couldn't snap out of it. It started because I ran into a guy I really like who couldn't even remember having met me. Ouch! I thought I'd been witty when we met, and even if I hadn't, how many twenty five-year-old obese chicks with braces does he know? You'd think I'd have made an impression, even if it wasn't positive. Things went downhill from there culminating with a meeting at work during which I just couldn't make myself heard.

I probably should have brushed all of this off and went on with my day, but instead these issues plunged me into some existential lines of thought that were anything but uplifting. When I got home last night, I felt like a caged animal. I was overwhelmed by that hollowness that I so often stuff with food.

And why do I do that? God only knows. I've read a lot about this common experience on a number of blogs. Most recently, Lyn from Escape from Obesity, has done an incredible job of putting words to something that so ferociously takes hold of so many of us. For a lot of people who binge, eating has become a way of soothing emotions that they feel are beyond their ability to deal with. Sometimes that hollow manifests in really physical ways. It seems like there really is an emptiness inside, so I eat out of a desperate desire to fill it up. While eating never makes me feel better, the truth is that it makes me feel bad in a different way. If I have my regret and disappointment in myself, I don't need to focus on all the other difficulties.

But yesterday, I knew I couldn't turn to food for comfort and it was agonizing to not be able to escape the way I was feeling. I've always known food wasn't the answer to my problems, but in its absence, I began to entertain the possibility that maybe some of my problems just don't have solutions or at least solutions within my grasp. All I could do was sit and wait for the sadness to subside (since eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's would have made me feel like a hypocrite after yesterday's post).

In the end, I accepted the fact that I was going to feel crappy the rest of the night. I took a hot shower, made some tea and wrote in my journal for a while before turning in early. I feel a little less melancholy today and am looking forward to the weekend.

I'm not sure what to do with all of this. Should I find a new way to self sooth or should I learn to sit with my emotions no matter how unpleasant? What do "normal" people do? Does everyone use a crutch to get by or is there some better adjusted way of being?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oooooh the temptation....

I expected yesterday to be a tough time for me. I was working on an event with a woman in my office who really just doesn't seem to like me very much. She was instrumental in getting me hired, but now, I get the impression that I've let her down somehow. I try. I take a genuine interest in her life but try not to be intrusive, but I still seem to bug her. I know I shouldn't let it get to me. I don't need the whole world to approve of me, but it does bum me out. It definitely added to the stress of the day and made me desperately want a brownie.

I've mentioned before that the most dangerous time of the day for me is right when I get home from work. I'm usually still stressed out or upset about something. The house is quiet; the food is there promising to comfort and fill the void that my day carved out. If left unchecked, I could easily eat half a day's points between 5 and 6, all BEFORE dinner!

I anticipated that this nasty habit could rear its ugly head yesterday afternoon, so while I was walking at lunch, I developed a strategy. I decided that I would walk the dog for 20 minutes as soon as I got home, then I would put some laundry away and do an assortment of chores. Then if I had time left, I would start making dinner. I rehearsed it over and over and you know what? I went home and read for an hour instead. But what's important is that I didn't snack. I got it straight in my mind that I would not be munching, and I didn't. Yay!

But the temptation didn't end there. After dinner, when we were clearing up, my sister started talking about ice cream and about how she was really jonesing. She started listing our favorite varieties. She offered to buy. We live right next to a grocery store. Close enough for me to practically smell Stephen Colbert's Americone Dream. I thought, "I really deserve it; I had a tough day."
But then I had a moment of clarity. A pint of Ben & Jerry's is usually a whole day's points and I KNOW I don't have the restraint to eat just some of it. I need to poke my spoon around the little cardboard container until I get every last morsel of yummy goodness. (Then I usually lick the lid). I could almost feel a riot building within my chest. I could feel the loss of control, and I didn't like it. It's not like I'm never going to eat ice cream again, but I knew that getting it last night would be a defeat. So I said, "Let's make a deal. If we still want the ice cream when we go grocery shopping this weekend, we'll buy it. Neither one of us is hungry right now anyway." My sister agreed and that saboteur inside me was silenced for the night. I felt successful and in control.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mini Victories

Yesterday was definitely a day of much needed mini victories. I started the day out right, getting up early enough to have a decent breakfast so I wouldn't dive into the cookies in the office. I packed a nice lunch of chicken and broccoli, which I had the foresight to make on Monday night. I got a little off track when I got home and saw our little pumpkin filled with Halloween candy sitting seductively on the dining room table. I have to confess that I did indulge a little, but I wrote everything down and stayed within my points (back to WW because I just couldn't maintain South Beach).

I spent my entire lunch hour walking with a much more physically fit friend. We walked up to a park which is a little over a half a mile as the crow flies, then we walked a 1.5 mile circuit in the park and walked back. It's the route I used to do every day when I was loosing weight more quickly, and I find it incredibly challenging. When I got back, I was sweaty, but I felt like I'd really accomplished something.

Also, last night was grocery night and I made the mistake of going shopping hungry. All the cookies and danishes seemed even more tantalizing than usual, but I made a conscious effort to visualize what my success would look like and how I would feel when I got there. I reminded myself that buying baked goods would delay my success. That was enough to keep me motivated.

Finally, after dinner, although I felt full and lazy, I took a twenty minute walk. I felt focused and energized and am glad to have some good news to report.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Goals and Rewards

The interesting thing about being a little messy and disorganized is that when I finally do set myself to cleaning I find letters and pictures, journals and pamphlets that sit patiently waiting like time capsules to remind me of how life and people change when I'm not looking.

I've been on a bit of a cleaning spree lately. I think I've been hoping that if I can purge the clutter and restore some order to my environment that my mind might follow suit. I decided to tackle my desk drawer last week. Mostly it was stuffed with old deposit slips, memos and post it notes with phrases like "pickles Thursday" which have long since lost their meaning.

I also came across a glitzy document labeled "Goals and Rewards" in large rainbow colored font. The sheet laid out six weight-related goals with corresponding rewards of increasing value. Gifts ranged from a new movie which I could purchase once I fell below 270 pounds to a European vacation which I'm to take when I get down to 180 pounds.

There were a few things about the list that struck me. Firstly, it was colorful and full of pictures. Each goal was printed in the largest font possible. Clearly, I spent a lot of time on it and designed it to be eye catching, but then I folded it eight times and stuffed it unceremoniously in the back of my desk.

Secondly, for all its embellishment that would seem to shout, "You can do it and get cool stuff along the way!" the list whispers a different message, hissing, "You can't do this." For each goal, it's not enough to reach a certain weight. I clearly laid out that I must also, "stay there for one week" before I earn a reward. From the beginning, I believed that I would regain any weight I managed to lose. The rewards themselves also demonstrate my lack of faith. For 50 pounds, I stated I would buy myself a brand new VW Beetle convertible! I knew when I created this list that it would be a very long time before I would be able to afford such a thing, but that was irrelevant, because I never imagined I would lose the weight.

So why did I neglect the list and tuck it away in a dark place? One reason is that undoubtedly, as I began to lose weight I realized that the change I felt and saw was a reward in itself, something that couldn't be purchased. The other reason is that I have a bad habit of not believing in my dreams. I didn't believe I could lose even 5 pounds when I wrote the list. I was hoping the promise of tangible reward would push me ahead, but I never expected success. For the first thirty pounds, I was able to rely on fear for my health, a shear terror that enabled me to pass up all baked goods and candy.

Now, as my rational mind has banished some of the fear, I need my dreams to push me along the next leg of my journey. I need to honestly believe that I can do this. I need to know how I can do it and I need to visualize my success. I need to make my dream concrete. I have to break them down into smaller units and to brainstorm ways to overcome obstacles. I need to mentally rehearse my reactions to the holidays and parties and bad days. I need to plan over and over again to make exercise a part of my life. I both need and deserve to focus on and believe in my dreams.

I think that's what we all need, not just in weight loss, but in life in general. So take a second to check in with yourself. Do you believe in your dreams? Are you doing everything you can to chase them?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting Centered

I feel like I've had a news IV for the last month. I wake up and I switch on the news. Then it's NPR on the way to work. Once I'm at work it's email alerts, news websites and CNN on my blackberry. The global economic crisis and the upcoming election are constantly on my mind. And you know what? It's making me feel like crap. I've developed a permanent eye twitch and a serious craving for comfort foods.

Today, I'm working to center myself and to find the inner peace that seems to have slipped away in past months. I know that part of the solution is probably to just watch less news. Maybe I need to start being informed in moderation. It's not like the economic system is going to come crashing down if I turn off the 24 hour news for a while. Anyone else feeling my pain in this area?

I've also been taking cues from some of my fellow bloggers. Last week Annette talked about the need to slow down a little and to give yourself permission to NOT multitask. I think that's excellent advice. I know I never do just one thing at a time. I can't drive without getting the news at the same time when I could probably really benefit from the quiet time a solitary car ride can offer. Even if my favorite show is on, I never just watch TV. I have to also be online answering emails or doing research at the same time. Even when I eat, I have to read or watch the news. The result? I probably end up doing a lot of things half assed and I probably never fully enjoy a TV program or, more importantly a meal.

This demonstrates the need for me to be way more mindful of what I eat. I so distract myself, that I hardly remember eating my meals or snacks and I'm almost always surprised when they're gone. Then I feel like I should have more food to make up for it! My new strategy is to write everything down before I eat it (which I should have been doing all along) and to make meal and snack time more of event rather than a habit. I WILL start eating at my dining room table instead of over the sink or in the living room and I will turn off the television and computer and shut my book before I begin.

Finally, I need to find time to get outside. For some reason this is very important to me. I get feeling caged if I spend all day inside. I need to make time to go for a walk and try to focus on enjoying the scenery rather than analyzing past conversations or planning my finances.

I've started writing down my foods, and I already feel a little more centered. I hope everyone else is having a successful day!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Malleable Me and the Conference 5

I like to think of myself as an independent thinker. I think that's at the root of American Culture: The desire to believe that you are an individual, that you're special, that you don't just march to a different beat but rather that you don't need a beat to begin with. That's probably why I was so dismayed when I discovered just how malleable I can be.

Fall is conference season in my office. That means that we do a lot of traveling together before the formidable winter weather makes it impractical to leave the area. I don't always have the same companions on my journeys, in fact, it seems that I'm the one constant in all the office travel.

What I noticed was that when I traveled with people who ate dessert, which was most of the time, I ate dessert. If they ate it at every meal, I did too. If they decided they needed a late night snack, I was totally game. It was a time of total indulgence with warm brownie sundaes and rich triple layer cakes. Uggggg!

Conversely, when I traveled with someone who was diet conscious, I made good choices. Of course, we had no choice but to eat out, but I stuck with things I knew would be harmless like broth based soups, grilled lean meats and veggies. I skipped dessert and we walked to a local store for fruit and yogurt. Unfortunately, I usually travel with junk food eaters, so I've gained a total of 5 pounds!

It troubles me that I could be so malleable. The fact of the matter is that if I want this enough, the company I keep shouldn't matter. Marie Antoinette might have said, "Let them eat cake," but that doesn't mean that I have to scarf it down. I have a clear idea of my goals and I know what it will take to reach them, so why don't I win those difficult moments?

I've kicked around a few theories. A good friend suggested that I'm afraid of success or that I don't want to be happy, point to examples of other major examples of self-sabotage in my life. She made a good case, and I suppose it's entirely possible, but I really do think that all people want to be happy. I may choose frustration and unhappiness when I order dessert, but I don't think I consciously decide that I don't want to be happy. Therefore, I reject this possibility on the grounds that it runs contrary to my fundamental nature and that it might be too complicated to solve if it was true.

More likely, I think it stems from two converging difficulties. Firstly, I was away from my computer, my major source of support on this journey, most of the time. Secondly, I'm uncomfortable in most social situations, especially with people I don't spend a lot of down time with. Food was a comfort and a bonding experience that helped me ignore my discomfort. In the future, I'm going to try to be more aware of the choices I'm making and to be mindful of the fact that I do often have the opportunity to choose between happiness or despair.

I think my reaction to this situation is key. My weight loss came to a screeching halt this time last year. The holidays follow quickly on the heels of conference season, and I just gave up. I'm developing a plan to keep that from happening that includes:

1. Writing down every bite I eat.
2. Walking at least 45 minutes a day.
3. Posting 4 times/week.
4. Checking in on other blogs daily.
5. Forgiving myself and moving on.

What will you do to help you succeed?