Monday, February 09, 2009
I was recently thinking about this song, and in particular the line I've chosen for the title of this entry, because I was contacted by someone I had not heard from in perhaps two decades. This was someone I had been very close to at that time.
And I had thought: Should I tell them of my weight struggles? Okay, that was a yes. But then -- should I tell them just how bad it had gotten, just how much I had let myself go? After all, the feelings that I had had were flooding back, unbidden, and it would have been easy to have simply "forgotten" about that episode in my existence. Forget it and it goes away, right?
But I made the decision to reveal all. And so I posted photos of myself on Facebook, all of the photos from my weight loss journey. Starting with this one: (if the photo doesn't show up for some reason, it's in my gallery; it's the group shot)
Now, I have to tell you, I love that photo. I really do! Unless I had been naked, I don't think there's any way I could have possibly looked worse. And so that photo says, "Get off your duff. You're digging your grave with your fork. Get into shape before I have to come over there and kick your keister."
This person said the photos were great but then got busy and disappeared. If the contact has ended due to other reasons, then sobeit. If the contact is on hold (if this person really is busy) then again, whatever. But if the contact ended because of that photo? Well, all I've gotta say is, that's fine, too.
It is. Because without the acid test, if the acid test isn't passed, you don't know what else will happen. This is what I am, or at least what I was. I share DNA with the person in that photo. And not just a little DNA, ALL of the DNA. I am her. She is me. Like me now, like me then, like me last week, like me a quarter of a century ago. We're all the same person.
The line right before the one in the title is:
"Like a river that don't know where it's flowing"
Well, I am no river. I am no mindless collection of detritus and water. I am a human being. I am a member of the most intelligent species this planet has ever known. And things don't just happen to me.
Consider it like a road trip. After all, we talk about weight loss as being a journey and this is no exception.
So what happens when you really do take a wrong turn and just keep going?
You don't take a map
Or you take a map and don't consult it
You don't read the road signs
You don't pull over and ask for directions
You ignore all warnings, clues and hints
You may even deliberately go left rather than right, East rather than West
And all of these are, ultimately, your own responsibility. You're the one who turned the key in the ignition. You adjusted the mirrors. You put it in gear. You turned the wheel. And you went the wrong way.
You can take that wrong turn, and that happens, but it is up to you to turn the wheel back to the correct direction and get back on course. You are the one who did it. And you can get out of it.
Because the opposite is true as well.
You can consult the map.
You can read the road signs.
You can ask for directions.
You can figure out how to correct your errors and get back on course.
You have that positive power, too, just as much as you have the responsibility for going the wrong way in the first place.
And so I decided to show the photograph. Because I am the one who watches my portions. And I am the one who takes alli. And I am the one who goes to a gym. And I am the one who makes good choices. And I am the one who looks for fitness opportunities. And I am the one who diaries my food and measures it.
And I am also the one who ate too much. I am the one who didn't exercise much. I am the one who didn't care about portions. I am the one who ate junk. I am the one who lost the thread of health. That's me, too.
If you only like the current part, the one who does the measuring, etc., then you've missed out on the other piece. That other part, the one going the wrong way? That one deserved to be liked and loved and cared for and listened to and celebrated. That part was a person, not a river, too.
You are responsible for your failures and your successes, your ups and your downs. You are responsible when the scale goes up or down or doesn't change. You are the one. Not me, not Elvis. YOU.
And you are not a river.
Monday, February 02, 2009
I started this whole weight loss journey (heh, exercise) as a New Year's Resolution. And, so far, so good.
Now, keep in mind, it was actually last year's resolution. I've been doing this for a while.
But this was an odd January. Last year, I was in rapid weight loss mode, the kind of thing that happens when you first start a diet/lifestyle change. You're drinking water. You're moving your body. You're making better choices. Lots of people get a good, happy kick start that way and I was no exception. I dropped something like 16 lbs. that first month. Of course that never lasts but it was a good, happy start and it encouraged me to do more.
This year, naturally, is different. I did not and do not expect such a huge honkin' weight loss this time around. However, eek, I've gained. For two weeks in a row.
For some folks, this would be a cause for panic. For others, it would be a way to get out of the whole thing entirely. Oh, it's hopeless. It's all over. This'll never work. Yadda yadda yadda you all know what I'm talking about. Heck, I was in that bucket for a really long time. It is not a very nice bucket to be in.
This year, this month, I decided to greet a two week in a row gain with a mixture of a shrug and renewed determination. Those make odd bedfellows, but hear (read) me out.
The shrug is, well, it's minimal. It's something like a pound and a half in all. And the previous week I had lost three and a half pounds. Hence I'm still running at a deficit anyway. Plus, let's face it, people on maintenance go up and down all the time, and they are not ready to go out and commit hara kiri over it. Gains happen. Losses happen. Somethings, many times, they relate to choices we make. Sometimes they don't. This is not a linear progression. That is a fact that, I know, can be maddening. So I've decided to shrug. It came on. It'll come off. It's probably gone already.
The renewed determination is to (a) watch the intake better and (b) step up the exercise. Both of these things were planned already, which is kinda where the intersection with the shrug happens. I was going to do this anyway, whether I gained a pound and a half or lost that same amount of weight, or some other amount. These ideas, these goals, these aspirations, they were not tied to a scale. The scale is not an albatross hanging around my ship. It is not a millstone around my neck. It is a tool. It said one thing today. It'll say something else tomorrow.
Oh -- that stepping up? It is, as in, I've burned over 1,000 more calories today than I was planning to. Does this mean that portion control says sayonara? Does this mean that I can be careless? Of course not. I want to take advantage of the extra effort, not undermine it. So the portions remain the same, and the menu is what it was this morning before I started working out. Because it is not tied to the scale, either.
How's it going? Eh. Pretty good, pretty less than good, pretty in between, but none of that matters because I am going to do this anyway, no matter what that scale says. Because it is not the boss of me. I will whip myself into shape and I don't need a number on a scale in order to do that.
These shrugs are mighty powerful things.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Everybody has a monster. You do. I do. The Queen of England does.
It's greed. It's hunger. It's pushing. It's nagging. It's want. It's laziness. It's smoking. It's drinking. It's gambling. It's overeating.
It is -- the monster within. The id, I suppose.
You know what I mean. It's the part that tells you that the one thing you want in life is a cookie. And another. And another. And another. It's the part that tells you to light up, to blow your money on things you don't need, to get hammered.
It has a loud voice. It's insistent. Heck, it's pushy. It wants. It needs. It craves.
Now now now
Gimme gimme gimme
More more more
Now now now
I listened to mine for a really long time. It told me to grab that bag of chips, and not stop until the bag was empty. It told me to roll over and go back to bed and not bother exercising. It told me to stay within myself and not go for what I wanted.
Because, you see, the monster isn't just the id. It's reticence and sorrow and depression and guilt and low self-esteem and unrealistic expectations. It's everything that keeps what you really, really want for yourself just beyond the blue horizon. It's what holds it all at arm's length. At bay, perhaps. But it keeps it away from you. And we all have let it, haven't we? We've let the monster win. We've given it what it wanted. And you know something? The monster wasn't satisfied. It didn't go away. It didn't get any smaller. It got worse. It got more demanding. It got larger. It took over more and more and more because it really wants everything. It wants all of you. It is a terrorist, holding your soul hostage.
Well I say, no more negotiating with this terrorist. It's time to put the monster in its place.
The monster, well, you can't kill it. It does not end, this does not end, ever. If it did, I suppose we wouldn't be here and there wouldn't be a Spark, because we'd all slay the dragon in some fashion or another and the monster would be gone and maybe we would need a little help to lift up the sword but then, in one fell swoop, it would all be done.
But that's not how it works.
The monster never dies. It never truly goes away. You know how people who have quit smoking can sometimes say that they still think of cigarettes, even years later, even when they know that it's bad for them? And how if they have one, it's as if they never stopped? You know how you can be maintaining, and fine, and you backslide, and suddenly you're falling down a slippery slope into an abyss and you just can't get out of it? Yeah, it's that monster again. It never really died. It was just hiding, and waiting.
I say, go out and meet it. Face it head on. Open up the closet door and look your fears and dashed hopes and desires and foibles and mistakes and imperfections in the face. They aren't going away, so embrace them. They may turn out not to be so bad after all.
About 20,000 or so years ago, humans knew of a monster. It was near their campsites and ate a lot of their garbage. It was a scary thing. But its babies weren't so scary, and some of the adults weren't too bad, either, and humans saw that this monster might be okay to have around, and might be useful. So they interbred the monster and it got a lot less scary. And it turned from a wolf -- the monster -- into a dog.
So take your id, your fears, your esteem issues, your hunger, your hesitation, take all of those things that push you away from what you want and where you want to be, and put a collar on them. Domesticate them. Eat first, then give the monster a few scraps. If the monster wants a cigarette, give it a stick of gum instead. Does the monster want you to gamble, but you don't want to, or your budget won't allow it? Tell it no, or later, or not now or you can only have a little.
Embrace your inner monster. Mine is the hungry beast. My friend's wants to smoke. What does yours want to do? And, more importantly, how can you serve yourself first, before it, and then throw it a small bone?
We have met the monster and the monster is us.
Monday, January 19, 2009
A year ago today, I started taking alli.
I had been exercising for about three weeks. I had been watching portions for 10 days. But it was the 19th that I took the plunge with alli. I have never gone back. It has changed my life.
Weights and Measures
When I first started, I weighed 346 lbs. This morning, I weighed 221.6. I have lost 124.4 lbs.
My bicep was 19" around. It's now 14". My bust was 54.75". This morning it hit a personal best of 42.5". The band (where the bra band goes) was 47.5". This morning it was a personal best of 36". My waist started off at 49". This morning, another personal best: 37". My belly began at 59.5". This morning it was 41.25". My hips started off at 51". This morning they hit a personal best of 44". My big ole butt was 64" and I needed a specific tape measure to go beyond 5 feet. This morning, it was 49.25". My thigh started off at 32.25". This morning it was 23". I did not start off measuring my neck but I think it was about 19". This morning it was 15.5"
Overall loss was 90" (yes, really!), averaging 11.25" for all 8 measurements. When the outlyers (bicep and thigh) are removed from consideration, overall loss is 77.75", averaging 12.96" for those 6 measurements.
I'm doin' it. I lift every morning and do resistance bands. I walk to work every day (from public transportation). I go to a gym twice a week. For today, when I'm neither working nor going to the gym, I'll shovel snow. I've also done indoor cardio by painting, doing housework and watching Leslie Sansone. We have an exercise bike but it's on its last legs (wheels?). Perhaps we'll get a new one. We also painted the exercise room and are in the middle of refurnishing/redecorating it. Already it's cheerier in there.
I eat what I make, and I make different things. The slow cooker is my best friend. This week I'm going to try my hand at jambalaya (frankly, with a different spice ratio, it could be bouilliabaise). Last week we had chicken soup with matzoh balls. The week before we had bean soup. The week prior to that was whole wheat pasta with homemade sauce. These dinners work great over the Winter. In the Summer, I make the bean soup with less water and it becomes simply cooked beans. Grab a tortilla and you're good to go. Pasta also works for the Summer. I don't think I'll make the chicken soup but may adapt the jambalaya and make it less soupy. Experimentation is key, plus it's fun.
Attitude and Mood
It wavers. I'm no angel. It's not perfect. But it's pretty good for much of the time. Exercise is a mood lifter. I don't get runner's highs but I do feel better accomplishing a workout, and when I can get out in the sun, even in dim sunlight, that helps as well. Eating what I make is also fun and I like being productive. My husband and I still go out to eat but it's only once per week. And now it's a special treat, so it has more meaning. We eat better food at better places.
On Spark I'm considered a Motivator. Huh? Um, okay, if reading my rants is motivating, heh, go for it. :)
But at work! This has proven interesting. I changed jobs in about May of last year and had by that time lost maybe 50 lbs. Hence I was already showing differences, already down a size and my face was less round. I was physically prepared to be able to walk as much as I do for commuting and, in fact, choosing this particular office was in a small part influenced by my being able to walk. Now I have lost another 74, almost 75, and the people in my office are really noticing it.
The other day, a DBA (Database Administrator) came up to me and told me it was very inspiring. Two other folk in the IT department have asked me what I eat. Another asked me what my workouts are like. Yet another is in the NY office and hasn't seen me in months. He asks about my progress and wonders if he'll recognize me when he next sees me.
Friends from camp tell me they're inspired to go on Weight Watchers because of me. My boss started taking alli. My mother watches more. Heck, anyone eating a meal with me tends to watch more. I don't ask them to. I just sit there and eat my portion and drink my water and they put back that second piece of meat or that third helping of potatoes.
Sizes and Fitting In
When I started, I wore a 26 or 3x up top and it was getting tight. Down below, I wore a 4x and it had to be stretchy. Now I wear a 16 or 18 up top and 18 below. XL works for me. I fit into my husband's size M tee shirts sometimes. My boots now can be zipped all the way up because my calves are smaller. My wedding ring no longer fits on my ring finger and has to be worn on my middle finger. When I started, it was cutting off the circulation on my ring finger. Necklaces fit around my neck again. I recently replaced my long underwear bottoms because they were size 3x and falling off me. Now I'm wearing XLs.
I also was having trouble fitting into the seatbelt of my car. Now I click it without thinking. I could not fit into the seats at the auditorium of my old office. I had trouble fitting into the seats at Fenway Park. I was afraid I would crack a toilet. I had trouble reaching around and behind (you know what I'm saying). Those problems have now all gone away. Little things like that, they're easy to take for granted. But when you lose weight, remember them. Because they are the worst things, nonhealthwise, about being grossly obese. Remember them and vow to never be that way again.
I still have a ways to go. My ultimate goal is to lose 200 lbs. This puts me 8 lbs. under the max for healthy BMI so I'll have some room to play with. So it's 75.6 lbs. from now. Late Summer, early Autumn, I'm guessing.
In the meantime, I'm here and I'm exercising and eating right and taking alli. And I'm talking to all of you, if you'll listen. We can all do this. It's not easy but it is oh so worth it.
Oh -- the song -- it's because I saw my friend on Saturday. He told me it was his fourth day smoke-free. I hope today is his sixth, and tomorrow is his seventh, etc. That's as hard as this. We don't even think about it sometimes, but people who seem to be wholly together sometimes aren't. I suspect they're never wholly together, and we're all duct taped and juryrigged in some way or another.
So do this, but also remember:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
Monday, January 12, 2009
I wish that Youtube had George Harrison singing this song. This is a tribute band, and they're pretty good. But, you know, it's not the same.
Good stuff started a few days ago when I saw my buddy. He got me some mahi-mahi, center cut! It was awesome. I tell ya, it pays to be friends with someone in the business.
So. I went to see my doctor today. It was last year, on the 9th of January, when she told me that I was on my way to being prediabetic, and recommended bariatric surgery. I didn't want the surgery, realized I'd have to eat better for the first 5% loss anyway so why not just lose 5% of my initial body weight (at the time, that was 17.3 lbs.) and see what happened? That was the day I had told my husband we were going to start the PET project.
PET stands for --
Toss the Junk
And toss it we did. A poptart can soar like a frisbee, dontcha know. I don't want to do a full year recap right now but suffice it to say that the last time I saw my doctor, my butt was sufficiently kicked and I knew it was time to do something.
Fast forward to today. I messed up the time. I thought it was about 8 AM (in my defense, they never called me for a reminder). It was, instead, a 930 AM appointment. So I was sitting there in the lobby and saw my doctor. I said hi and she blew right past me. Now, I realize now that she didn't think she had an appointment for another hour plus (she makes rounds at the hospital across the street). And we don't hang out or anything. Shrug. I go in and the nurse takes me quickly as the receptionist isn't in yet. It's time error compounding on top of time error.
Then my doctor comes into the examining room, takes one look at me and says, "Hey, wait a second. I didn't recognize you." And she hadn't. They took blood and other, erm, fluids, and I went to the hospital to have some breakfast. I had the laptop with me so I checked email as well.
I got back, this time at the right time. We have a lovely chat. I get weighed, and learn that the scale at home is, believe it or not, overstating my weight by 4.6 lbs. She takes my pressure. 112/78. She says that's a 20-year-old's pressure. I am 46 years old.
We talk about overall goals and she agrees that 146 is very reasonable as it hits my healthy BMI range but still gives me 8 lbs. to play with. We also talk excess skin. She thinks my arms and legs will tone up and be fine. We didn't discuss my bust but did speak of my belly. She said the excess skin probably weighs about 10 lbs. and probably is going to have to be removed surgically. That's fine. I'm not wholly against surgery. What if that's the last 10 lbs. I have to lose?
She asks me a boatload of questions about what I eat, whether I work out, how I stay motivated, etc. She says the fish is great, the portion control is fabulous, using the slow cooker is smart, etc. She even asks me if she can refer patients to me if they want to talk to someone who's been there, done that. Sure, I say.
My weight on her scale is 225.0. Last year, 1/9/08, it was 346.0. Yes, gentle reader, I have lost on average 10 lbs./month.
Like George says ~~
Feel tall as the Eiffel Tower
Get An Email Alert Each Time JESPAH Posts