Monday, December 08, 2008
February is colder, and January is snowier, but December takes it for Seasonal Affective Disorder. And that may seem to be nuts when you think about it, because January has its share of dark days, too. But December has more of them. The last 20 days of December are the 20 darkest days of the year, plus for the first 20 days of December the amount of light is declining and declining and declining. So they are hard.
A lot of people look forward to holidays now, but Chanukah (even though it's one of the only holidays we actually do celebrate) is not a big deal by the time you become an adult (plus the traditional foods are all fried, so they ain't happening this year). Xmas, well, it's not my thing, and it won't become my thing. As a Jew, I suppose by definition I am a nonconformist of sorts and this time of year brings that out in spades. It all (I don't mean Xmas, I mean this time of year) ... and this is not meant to offend anyone; it just is what it is ... annoys me. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the airwaves having been taken over since Halloween. Ai yi yi.
In news that's more germane to SP, I had a small loss this week but have been kicking around the same 5 pounds since November 10th. And I know that this is a part of how I'm feeling, even though my measurements have improved. I've got new personal bests in my bicep, band, waist and hips. And those are all great accomplishments as I hurtle closer and closer to a size 16.
But it's not fair, as the scale is king when it comes to this. And so, while I appreciate being smaller, I'd like for the scale to agree with that assessment. I know, too, that the scale not moving, for me, has a lot to do with stepping up the exercise. Once my body gets the muscle built from this extra exercise, I'll start to drop again. It is discouraging, though. I was averaging 11 pounds lost per month (not unheard of on alli) and now to be going at less than half that pace (and I am well aware that others go slower, and this is not a race), well, it's less than optimal. I know that the way I am feeling is fueling this attitude, which is fueling my emotions and around and around we go.
Medicating yourself with exercise only goes so far. Adding in St. John's Wort, eating more mushrooms and in general eating right and getting enough sleep, those all only go so far. I am going to see about purchasing a full-spectrum light. It's time.
I have accepted some invitations to do things, and know that I need to get out and be somewhat active, but right now it feels rather overwhelming. I have a natural tendency to just want to stay in and sleep and I just can't -- and shouldn't -- do that. It was 13 degrees this morning when I stepped outside to go to work. Fortunately, in order to get to work, I've got to venture out and I've got to walk. And then the same in reverse. I am committed to getting in extra walking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and I did not make today into an exception. I'm tired, though. Perhaps I'm coming down with something.
One thing that also heartened me was the oil bill. The last one was over $800 and I was scared that this one would be similar, but it was about 1/3 of that. Hence we can turn up the heat a bit. It's been miserably freezing in the house, making it extremely uninviting, so that will help a lot.
Plus, I have things to look forward to. I am refusing any number of invitations, but this weekend I'm going to see a friend whose friend (you got that?) has clothes for me. And then the following Friday I've got a lunch date with a guy who I write with. Or, rather, we both write, then we critique each other's work. I haven't seen him in months. That day will also be a full day off. Then the following week is only two and a half days off and then I'm out of the office until the first week in January. I need the break desperately. Plus I have plans.
My plans for the end of year break are not some fabulous trip. Rather, my husband and I are going to paint my exercise area. I'll post before and after shots. I am looking for an oceanic type of theme. Something serene. Right now it's the very antithesis of serenity.
There are cures for this feeling, but the biggest cure is light mixed with time. In the meantime, though, there are a few things I can do in order to make things bearable and make the recovery go all the more smoothly. Stick with the plan. See a few friends, but not too many. Take control over a space or area or something, and beat back the chaos. Take time off. And get through it, any way possible.
I guess the Winter makes you laugh a little slower,
Makes you talk a little lower
about the things you could not show her
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold onto these moments as they pass
Monday, December 01, 2008
I am back, from Thanksgiving, of course. And, eh, it was nothing exciting. That's not necessarily a function of how the holiday was. Rather, it is how I personally feel.
I am sliding into a downward spiral.
It's not anything really, really awful. I am still doing what I am supposed to be doing. I am still eating right, exercising, making good choices and performing portion control. I am just tired and bored. I am riding a lower wave. It happens.
It is a lot of things and there are a million reasons. One very large one is seasonal affective disorder. It is something I contend with every year and this year is no exception. The absolute darkest part of the year is about 3 weeks away and I really, really feel it. I had skipped taking St. John's Wort for a few days for Thanksgiving and I am paying for it. I'm back on it but it's disturbing to know that my mood is so profoundly affected by just skipping the herb for maybe five days instead of the usual two for the weekend.
Another reason is Thanksgiving itself. It is, unlike any other holiday, completely centerpieced around food. And I could neither make nor bring anything, which by itself bothered me. And then of course it is, well, it's not deprivation, but it is separateness. I don't enjoy separateness, oh no, she can't have THAT. And that's not true and it's not fair. It's that I am making choices, not that I am hurting or depriving myself. And then there's other weirdnesses. Being offered leftovers even though I'd made it clear that I wouldn't be eating them. And then being offered them again. And a third time. Oy.
I expected to be shooed out of the kitchen, but I did not expect how it would make me feel. I really disliked that. I am getting used to having control over my foods or at least some say in the matter, and have gotten to like that. Even though I knew what was being cooked, I could not witness or be a part of anything going on, except when I was finally called in, in order to peel potatoes. Then later I pulled out what I was going to eat and that was that. That was the extent of my participation in the entire preparation and presentation of the meal.
I realize that I should be thankful for family and hospitality, etc., but like I said I am simply tired and in a foul mood. Of course I expressed gratitude while there and did my best to not cop an attitude. It was also a raging TOM (which is over now) and that was not helping things one whit.
Another reason is, and this is ludicrous, but there you have it, something that happened online this morning. I run a forums website when I am not sparking, and there is a topic about food diarying. I do it as do about ten or so other people. One is a serious weight loser (she's already lost 100+ lbs. and maintained it for a good year and is now trying to take off the last 50 or so) and another is a marathoner. Plus others are in various states of vegetarianism or whatever. It is generally a supportive group and no one goes off on anyone's choices. No one screams, "What the hell are you thinking, eating 17 chocolate chip cookies?"
Except for this one person.
This person has decided that I am killing myself by dieting.
This person has been told, more than once, that I am under a doctor's care and am doing this with not only my doctor's permission and blessing, but at her urgent insistence.
This person has been told that I am on alli and so my weight loss is more rapid than most people's.
This person has been told to butt out repeatedly.
It does not seem to matter.
Today or last night, this person again railed about how my friend and I are doing just so many horrible things to ourselves, and said that we were subsisting on gruel.
I guess pizza, chicken, pasta, bread, salads, soup and guacamole are all gruel. Amazing. I had no idea the definition had changed so dramatically.
I suppose I should not have gone off the way I did, but I am tired of this. This person seems to go hypercritical about once per quarter. Hence I could've let it go and let it happen again in 3 months or so. After all, going off or not going off does not seem to make one whit of difference.
But I did, and I hate doing that, but I felt I had to.
So I am weary from that as well, from justifying my choices and defending what I (and my friend) do.
And, to add to the fun, I walked like crazy last week, watched the portions and was austere as hell during Thanksgiving and I still gained 1.8 lbs. What kills me is that I actually lost inches, in almost all of the places where I measure. Right now that's kinda sustaining me. That and a friend on Facebook sending me all sorts of silly stuff. Nothing earth-shaking, just paying some attention.
A downward spiral.
I don't think it's a particularly steep spiral.
And I know I'll start to feel better once the solstice is done and the light begins to return. And this person will not bother me for months. And Thanksgiving isn't for another year. And, really, it's a test of this whole experience. I can do this when I'm happy. Can I sustain it even when I'm not? There's the question.
But right now I'm just tired, and all I want to do is withdraw.
When you see me on the subway, I'll be down at the end of the car.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Like many, many other Sparkers, I am about to embark upon Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, my husband and I depart for Manhattan, to have the meal at his parents' apartment. We'll return on Friday. I have no idea if/how much I'll spark between now and Saturday.
In the meantime, it's time to confront some demons. Well, maybe not demons. But to confront some different situations. Now, I have been on diets during holidays before, and the reaction of other family members -- despite how much I tell them that I am fine, I'm doing this for my health, etc., is often either a conscious or unconscious effort to get me to eat more or eat something I don't want, or to look at me with pitying eyes as if I were a starving child in Biafra.
Sheesh, people, get a grip.
I am eating as healthfully as possible. And after a lot of trimming and digging and requesting, I've gotten the meal down to under 1,000 calories and under 19 grams of fat. The fat grams are important because I am going to roll the dice and take alli. I hope there's no hidden fat lurking around. I don't enjoy treatment effects.
It's not an effort to sabotage me or anything. It's nothing malicious. It's more like a lot of details have to be attended to and I'm just another detail. I fully expect something to be forgotten or somehow altered. Again, this is not done to hurt me, it's more because there's so much going on and it's so overwhelming.
Oh, I will help as I can. But you need to recognize that this is a prewar Manhattan apartment. It doesn't have much of a proper kitchen with modern appliances. It's more like a toy kitchen, and the stove may very well be almost as old as my husband. Plus the stove is unreliable in terms of temperatures so cooking times are going to vary according to, I dunno, the phases of the moon.
The stove is so small that a good third of the meal is being prepared across the hall in a neighbor's apartment. As for where the neighbors are preparing their own meal, I have no idea. Perhaps there's some sort of Manhattan cultural exchange program, where everyone makes some of their dinner elsewhere in one cosmic, eight million-plus linked culinary daisy chain. Somewhere in Bensonhurst, someone is making their stuffing in the Bronx and their cranberry sauce is being constructed as far North as Poughkeepsie.
But I digress. It will work. It always does, although there's stress involved. I am bringing oatmeal, and flavor sticks for water, and my water bottle and some dried fruit snacks if I really get stumped. I've planned out my eats anyway, though it's possible that some of it will alter as we go along. I'm bringing the resistance bands and the small wristlet weights, and will hunt around for heavier weights while there. There is Riverside Park down the street. Columbia is close, too, so there are lots of places to walk (with hills!). The weather is supposed to be clear and somewhere in the 40s. My husband is psyched to walk around with me.
And, I have some major things to be thankful for. I don't know how many remember, but months ago I reported that a very close relative was ill. That relative has finished treatment and seems better. Doctors hesitate to use words like "cured" (and they kind of can't, as this was a second recurrence already), but everything is very optimistic, and no followup is scheduled until after the first of the year.
I am, of course, grateful to be so far along on this journey, and feeling so good doing it. I fret and I overanalyze and I rationalize but the truth is that I kind of like all of the mechanics of it and also am pleased with how seamlessly I think it will eventually work with Maintenance, although Maintenance is still many months from now. But it seems plausible and eminently doable.
I am grateful for the support my family has given me. My husband has been very good about not only walking with me but also about not pushing me to overdo it. This is a level of patience that perhaps was absent earlier. I don't know if it's that I've become more assertive in making sure that the pace fits what I need or that he's better at reading what's needed and responding to it but, either way, it works. My folks and inlaws have consistently cheered every milestone. Smaller clothes magically appear ("Oops, I bought this but didn't like it. Maybe you'd like it?") with all sorts of odd little pretexts but I accept them all gratefully.
I am grateful for my friends and their support. For M__, who listens and makes me laugh and keeps my spirits up. For A__, who asks her friends for clothes for me. For the other A__, who told me (at 246 lbs.) that I didn't even look like I was 200. For the other M__, who can't stop raving about how I look. For V__, who gets a little inspired to watch a bit for himself. For S__, who watches even more. For R__, who I swear was checking me out. For D__, who wants to walk with me. For the folks on my site who share their food journals and their exercise diaries and who encourage not only me, but each other.
And for all of you, you wily ole Sparkers. For the Scandinavian and Floridian connections. For the Pi Phis. For the Quirk Universe. For the Done Girls and Guys. For the 80s Music Lovers. For the Yammies. For the Sudoku folks. For the Bostonians. For Red Sox Nation. For the Kind Buddies. For the many sweet people who've commented on my page and blogs, and who have inspired and pushed and cared for me (and for each other) on their own pages and blogs.
Who knows what the weigh-in after will bring? Maybe it'll all pay off. Maybe it won't. Maybe I won't be able to stick to it. Maybe I will, but there will be something unaccounted for. Maybe I'll stick to it and it'll be exactly as advertized. Maybe the exercise won't happen. Maybe there will be too much. Maybe a lack of rest or too much rest or sunspots or whoever wins the big football game will decide on how that goes. Take it as it comes. It's all you can do.
Because, on balance --
It's either sadness or euphoria ...
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It's time for the month in review. Since this one is probably as close as any one of these that I'm going to do for the middle of my journey, well, that's the reason for today's song.
It's been exactly 10 months since I started taking alli. 10 days before that I started portion control and 10 before that I started working out. So much has changed, it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll start with the numbers.
Current #s, taken on 11/17/08:
* Bicep 13.75 down .25" Personal Best
* Bust 44.50 down 1.5" Personal Best
* Band 38 down 1" Personal Best
* Waist 39 down 1.25" Personal Best
* Belly 44.25 down 1" Personal Best
* Hip 45.75 up .25"
* Butt 50.50 up 1.25"
* Thigh 24.25 up .25"
Original #s, on 1/9/08:
* Bicep 19" highest
* Bust 54.75" actual highest was 55" on 2/25/08
* Band 47.5" highest
* Waist 49" highest
* Belly 59.5" highest
* Hip 51" actual highest was 54.5" on 2/18/08
* Butt 64" highest
* Thigh 32.25" actual highest was 32.5" on 3/3/08
Differences from highest to current
* Bicep down 5.25"
* Bust down 10.5"
* Band down 9.5"
* Waist down 10"
* Belly down 15.25" WOW!
* Hip down 8.75"
* Butt down 13.5" WOW!
* Thigh down 8.25"
Overall Average Inch Difference: 10.125"
Overall Average Inch Difference (bicep and thigh not considered): 11.25"
It's no secret that I didn't do much exercising before starting. That much is true about most of the people here. My current regimen is lifting 25 lbs. every day and walking 6 out of 7 days (Sundays are a rest day). Most of the time I walk 30 minutes but on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I try to sneak in an extra 15 minutes or more.
Walking is easy, jogging is hard. I can't say my jogging is getting faster or easier or that I'm going farther because none of those things are true. I suspect that a lot of this has to do with the worsening weather. I only jog in the mornings (as I'm inevitably late so I'm trying to get to the bus stop faster) and when it's under freezing it is not a pleasant experience. I'll get better, I know I will, but I'm not there just yet.
Diet, Food and Portion Control
The biggest change is that I've added chicken soup to my diet. Homemade of course. I am doing it with nearly no salt. One challenge is to make matzoh balls that are tasty, low salt and low fat, and not the consistency of rubber. Not quite there yet. Having a third weekly go-to meal is a big help in terms of generating more overall food variety. Plus it helps to keep me interested in what I'm doing.
Thanksgiving is going to be a challenge. There is no getting around that. After all, it is centered on food, particularly if you're not a college football fan. I'll persevere. The main issues will be salt and carbs. Fat won't be too much of an issue but I'll be vigilant about it just the same, mainly because it may be lurking in some areas where I don't expect it to be. I will take alli, even for the Thanksgiving meal -- I am dancing with who brung me, so to speak.
The following holidays are actually less of issue except for any traveling we may do. Since Xmas is not celebrated by my husband or me, there are few food temptations. Latkes are nice but I can do without if I have to. I know that next year or the year after, when I am on maintenance, things will be a bit different, but right now I'll mainly just avoid and that'll work.
I continue to battle the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder and my own boredom. After all, I've been doing this for quite a while, so it can get a bit tiring. Some of that is wrapped up in boredom with my work situation so I need to be certain to separate those out in my mind. Boredom at my job will not be cured by my eating more.
I started this journey at a size 28 or 4X (pants) and size 26 or 3X (shirts). I am currently an 18 or XL for both, with the tops getting a bit loose. I fit into some L tops but that's touch and go as sizes can vary among manufacturers and I am on the cusp of getting out of women's sizes when it comes to tops, so the cut is different. I am confident that I will fit into all Larges in two months, possibly a lot sooner than that. The pants are a little loose, and the stretchier ones can sometimes (with a little effort) be put on without unfastening. Not to jump the gun or anything but in two months or less, 18 pants are probably going to feel like 26s do now.
Since I lose, on average, about 11 lbs. per month, I suspect that rate will slow down a bit. But even if it goes to 9 lbs. per month I can still finish getting to healthy BMI before the end of calendar year 2009. Again, not to jump the gun or anything. If it takes longer, well, it takes longer.
My 2009 goals are beginning to take shape, and include about 15 minutes more of walking every day (even on long walk days) and eventually moving from 25 lb. weights up to 40, in a gradual process, of course. Diet goals are mainly to make it to healthy BMI, but it may be a good idea to incorporate more into my cooking repertoire, particularly if these are things I can make in the slow cooker.
The really big middle of the road milestone occurred late last month, when I recorded a 100-lb, weight loss! Right now it is a struggle to push through the next 10. I'm down about 3 in the past three weeks, which is not a typical rate for me. Another couple of milestones were being named Done Girl of the Day and on the same day being named a Motivator. Those two things still make me smile.
On balance, I'm happy with my progress. I can see a major difference in my appearance and feel it in my energy levels. I find myself easily saying no to unhealthy foods and yes to exercise.
Stick around for next month's report. You ain't seen nothin' yet.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I thought of this song because I've got a little over 96 lbs. to go to hit my big goal. And then I heard that line, the one I put in the title, and thought that would be a good idea for an entry.
I saw my friend on Saturday. For anyone who has not been reading along in the continuing saga of my life, my friend (in this context) is the fishmonger.
Of course I have other friends (and I'm sure he does, too), but he's unfailingly kind, pleasant and patient with me, and also knows his stuff. I have trouble making friends and so it's a delight to me to just know somebody new and different and have them (apparently) like me, too. He does seem to go out of his way for me a lot, whether it's to get me something special or just listen to me gab or make sure that no one else waits on me. He also gabs back and I hear about his dreams, how he really doesn't want to be a fishmonger forever, and how the corporate world of food sales is little different from where I work in terms of the kind of BS you go through every day.
I was thinking about all of that because over the weekend my sorority had their initiation. Now, I was initiated years ago but I am a mentor to a girl who was getting initiated. Well, I missed it. By an entire day! I totally blew it!
I felt terrible about it, and sent her an apology note immediately. That much is not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about is, well, I was supposed to be there, there were records of same, I did not show, and apparently no one either noticed or cared. Certainly not enough to follow up in any way.
We are talking about less than 50 people here.
I recognize that, despite the size of my ego, I am not the center of the universe. So them not trying to at least find out if I'd met my maker on Massachusetts Avenue is, I suppose, par for the course. But it does make me wonder, because sororities and the like are touted as being lifetime friendships.
I made decent sorority friends in college but we have all drifted apart. I know some here on Spark and they are lovely ladies. But ever since I became an alum, I haven't had any real closeness in that area.
That's not the only area without closeness.
Two jobs ago, we all bonded beautifully, and many of us stay in touch. It still feels good and right. I remember saying to my boss, on our last day together as coworkers (the department was split up when the company was bought), "I figured when I started here I'd have a few laughs. I didn't expect to fall in love with everybody." And she understood exactly what I meant, and said she felt the same.
Friends from one job ago? Maybe two or three but not at that level. And at this job, none. Pleasant enough people, but no one to confide in. No one to really spend time with and discuss much of anything other than work. No one I want to see outside of the office. No one who I'd cry to if there was a tragedy in my life. No one I'd really miss if I were laid off tomorrow.
No one here knows that I write. They barely know that I watch my weight. They know I used to be a lawyer, but they don't know that I can cook. They don't know me.
And they won't know me. I can't see making that step and forging that bond.
I guess I don't bond that deeply with a lot of people. I bond in degrees. Deepest to my husband, of course, and my family, but also to some friends (this includes some online folk) and then there are good acquaintances and more removed ones and then after that I suppose we're in the realm of the UPS delivery guy and the people we all see on TV. Remote and isolated. Never, ever allowed into the castle. Even if they ask nicely.
Maybe I'm picky. Maybe I'm snobby. Maybe I'm too reserved. Maybe I'm trying to make up for sometimes seeming to be too needy. Maybe I just don't want them to see my messy house. And, by extension, my messy life.
I don't know.
But I do know that there are not a lot of people outside of my family who I'd want supporting me at a funeral, or visiting me in the hospital if I was very sick.
It's funny. A woman I went to Summer camp with over 30 years ago found me online, and we have talked on the phone and we email a lot and I feel that closeness there, even though, frankly, she and I weren't all that close way back when. But it feels like we are, now.
I know with friendship it is quality and not quantity, and I fully subscribe to that. I also know that, at age 46, bonding is different from what it was when I was 16 or even 36.
There was a book out a few years ago called, "He's Just Not That Into You". It was about dating relationships but it could really be about any kind of relationship, I suppose. It could have also been called "He Doesn't Really Care About You" or "He's Really Interested in Someone or Something Else". Not to pick on men. Women do this, too.
I'm tired of that treatment.
I know that we are all busy people and, like I said, I am not the center of the cosmos. But I don't want to put out my heart for people to simply forget I'm there, or not care one way or the other.
How can you tell when someone's into you?
They communicate without prompting, or without much prompting. They smile at you. They listen to you. They care about what you like and dislike; those things interest them. They give of their time. They don't check their watches or look around for the next great stimulus. You may not be the center of their world but at least for a while you can be the center of their attention.
Perhaps this is all obvious to everyone but me. But one piece of this journey is positivism. To be around people who don't try to drag me down. To listen to uplifting conversations and take part in them. To feel good after spending time with someone, instead of wondering why something else didn't get done.
Not a lot of people fit that bill on the deeper levels, but some are, I suppose, getting there.
Take friendship where you find it, in whatever form and whatever manner it is offered, because it is rare and special and meaningful. Because it is so valuable. Because it one of the greatest things any of us can ever have, and it helps make life worth living.
Get An Email Alert Each Time JESPAH Posts