Monday, April 27, 2009
Sure the nutrition tracker has helped me. I suspect it helps most people.
Way back, before Spark, before alli, before I buckled down and got into getting healthy, before, before, before, before, back when three quarters of a bag of potato chips would disappear and I wouldn't know where it went, before and back to when someone in college dared me to eat a whole large pizza and I did, and back to cleaning my plate and all of that, back, back, back, somewhere in there portions were lost.
And in their place came greed, and stuffing, and piling. Dinner wasn't dinner, it was excavating layer upon layer of fat-sugar-salt-carbs, over and over again. Sure, sometimes fat-sugar-salt-carbs was Mexican. Sometimes it was Greek. Or Italian. Or kosher style. Or Chinese. But it was always fat-sugar-salt-carbs.
Sanity had to return. The dinner plate had to stop looking like a strip mining operation in Morgantown, West Virginia. It had to turn back into pieces and care and choices and waiting.
Yes, waiting. I don't mean waitstaff, although that's a part of it. It's the feeling of not so instant gratification. Of anticipation. Of small delays, and how they improve the process.
And it was about experimenting with flavor, with things that didn't strictly fit into the old fat-sugar-salt-carbs mold. Things like fresh vegetables, and fruits, like dairy and proteins and spices. Yes, cinnamon!
Tracking all of that has a meaning that goes beyond calories or carbs or points. It is a diary of what you did, how you felt, how you took care of yourself. There is still excavating, yes. It is still an archaeological expedition. But it's not to the base of a seemingly bottomless mass of food. Rather, it is a trip through nutrition, all laid out for all time and all to see, a record of accomplishments and, yes, of slipups and poor choices sometimes. For they are a part of all of this.
It is a journey into the self.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
It's been a whirlwind. Yes, I was on television. In Britain!
On GMTV's home page it shows their TV highlights. I'm #2! Plus I was listed under their Today page as a top story, just under (of course!) the Queen's birthday celebration. Her Majesty was 83 the day of my broadcast.
Also, check out this link:
This woman, Sue Jameson, took me under her wing and was so kind and so lovely. She did a lot to assure that I was comfortable and happy. It was so good to have a friend there. We traded emails -- she'd like to know how I do. And, frankly, I'd like to know how she's doing. A very sweet lady.
So, here's how it all went down.
I went to work Monday morning and by that time had a train as I'd already spoken with the producer and had a go. Started dealing with basic work stuff, my mission was to make sure that it would be almost as if I wasn't going to be gone at all. I managed to do that, and I doubt the intern had much to do later on on Monday. I also went in and told my boss, I think she was not quite understanding what I was doing. Then I headed out at noon, only telling my colleagues I was going to NYC to visit my inlaws. Heh, well, that's not 100% true of course.
Mr. jespah met me at South Station and saw me off. The train was lightly populated and I didn't have a seatmate until Stamford. It was on time, which was helpful. Got to the inlaws' at, I think, around 4, 5 PM, something like that. Quickly settled in to get the clothes and props ready and order dinner. Plus I had plenty of voice mails to answer. Once we were done eating, I asked my father in law to wake me at 10 PM. Hence I got about 3 hours of rest although most of that was not spent sleeping. Sue had suggested that, she said people who did not do that tended to really fade by 2 AM.
I had a snack and was ready to go at midnight; the car service was expected at 12:30. Well, it didn't show! After five minutes of waiting, I called Sue. She determined that the car service's computer was allegedly down and they'd lost all their reservations. Hence she came and got me in a cab, and promised to take care of the return trip while I was on. She also told me, while we were in the cab, that she was expecting some major diva editor from Marie Claire magazine. The diva had already insisted on $1,000 for her own personal makeup lady. The New York office had balked, but the London office ended up having to pony up for that. The diva and her entourage were expected at 5 AM. I told Sue, well, maybe the makeup lady is expensive because she works fast.
We got to the studio and it's located at the Thompson Reuters Building at 3 Times Square. The building where the big ball is dropped on New Year's Eve is right across the street. The place was mainly deserted, which makes sense, given the hour. We were greeted by Larry the engineer. Then the phone rang, and it was David Mason in London, wondering where we were. He had just called Mr. jes at home (woke up the poor man), asking where I was as I'd be on in 10 minutes. Eek! Sue then grabbed the phone and told David, "I'll talk to you, she's got to do makeup!" I was doing my own makeup and hair. I work a lot cheaper than the Marie Claire gal.
The room where I was filmed as tiny and mainly black. There was a director's chair on a platform and a small box in front of it to put your feet so that they wouldn't dangle. Then they got me wired up. I got an earpiece in my left ear and the microphone had to go under my dress and be clipped to the side. Sue put it under my dress (so I guess I ended up knowing her pretty well, har har) and everything got plugged in. Then they left me alone in the room and closed the door, I assume to get technical stuff done in the control room. I learned later that a part of that was putting my before picture up.
I waited and then heard a voice in my ear, "Hello, this is Robbie in London, can you hear me? Can you tell me the pronunciation of your surname?" I told him, he said I sounded fine and told me the names of the people who'd be talking to me. Then there was music and suddenly I was talking to Penny Smith and her guest. They asked me some questions and the slant was definitely about the side effects. Which is fine, I have nothing to hide. That interview is the link above. The other interviews don't seem to be up yet. After I was done, Robbie's voice was back in my ear and he said, "Are you sure you've never done this before?"
The second segment wasn't too long after the first one, less than a half hour later or so it seemed to me. That time I talked to Kate Garroway, and was able to show my old Red Sox jersey so you can see how much I've lost. I think talking to her was a little more difficult than it was to talk to Penny but I think in general I did the best with that segment.
Once that one was done, there was over an hour to go to the third and final bit. I grabbed my snack (a Fiber One Chocolate Bar, very nice) and so did Sue, and then Larry gave me a tour and showed me all of the equipment. They are connected with Reuters so there's a news feed coming in. We looked at footage of the perp walk of the teenaged Somali pirate, and also some silly footage of a goat seen in some restaurant, I think somewhere in South America. To which I said, "Their meat is REALLY fresh." Larry is from Massachusetts so we also talked about the Red Sox. He mentions he's often bored during these things and goes online. I told him to go to my website and showed him the site. We also talked about Spark People!
By this time, Sue was tired (she had a cold), told me she'd normally hug me but didn't want me to get her cold. She went home so it was just Larry and me. He showed me some more feed footage and then it was time to go back on. He told me I'd have to put the microphone under my dress as he said he only does that for supermodels. I said, "Well, maybe next year." He replied, "Maybe!"
This time, I spoke with Lorraine Kelly and their resident health expert, Dr. Hilary Jones (who is a man). I think I did the worst in this segment as it was getting close to 4 AM and I was very tired. But Dr. H. did say that he thought I looked really good already. I think they had a hard time believing I still have 55 pounds to go. On that segment there was also a woman who had tried alli and it hadn't worked out for her. Unfortunately I didn't catch her name.
Then it was time to go. Larry got me to the car service and I was whisked off, by limo, to the inlaws' apartment. By the time I got in, it was after 4 AM. I immediately got into bed. My father in law got me up at 8. I hadn't slept all that much.
My train was at noon so I had breakfast and lounged around until about 10:15, then left for Penn Station. When I got there, the cabbie had to let me off across the street. There was some guy collecting charity, asked me and I said to him, "I don't have any free hands." I was carrying all of my stuff, of course. He said, "That's okay, baby girl, I'll catch you when you do." Ha, so I guess I'm Baby Girl now. Better than being Big Mama.
The train was on time and I ended up sitting near a guy named Edward Ellington. As in the Duke's nephew. See: www.cduniverse.com/search/xx/
ward.htm The guy looks just like the album cover, although now he's probably close to 60.
I got home yesterday, and have been answering emails and of course composing this blog entry. I also sent a thank you note to everyone at GMTV and asked if they'd pass along a message to the woman who had tried alli and it hadn't worked for her. I just wanted her to know that this is not easy to do, and offered my support.
And now here we are. Last night a triumphant dinner at the local Vietnamese place. Surprisingly, I stayed within my calorie range both days. Today I'll go back to the gym, too, so probably tonight I'll finally get a full night's sleep.
After all, a diva needs her beauty rest.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Actually, it hasn't happened yet, but it will tonight. I'm going to be on television!!!
It's GMTV, which is a British Good Morning program (er, programme). And, eep, they have 5 million viewers! They were looking for someone to talk about alli as it is going on the market there on Wednesday. Spark People's PR Dude Extraordinaire, GrantM, asked for volunteers.
I guess they liked me.
I am going to New York, and will be on live. Since it is a five hour time differential, we are talking, oh Gawd, about 1 AM or later. I'll be the woman in the blue floral patterned dress.
I am psyched. I won't be tired. I'll be as nutty as I've been for the past few days, ever since I learned this was coming together.
Nutty enough to do a boatload of extra cardio.
Nutty enough to have a ton of nervous energy burning off as I tapped my fingers and danced around and did little jogs as if I were a hyperactive kid.
And it paid off.
I lost an astounding 7.0 lbs. this week!
No wonder they want me on TV.
I'll blog about the specific experience once it's done, of course.
In the meantime -- and since I have your attention -- I actually have the month in review to do, so here goes.
It's been 1 year, 3 months since I started taking alli.
Weight and Measurements
I have lost over 145 lbs.
My bicep is 13.5"; when I started, it was 19" (5.5" off)
My bust is 40.5"; when I started, it was 54.75" (14.25" off)
My band is 34.25"; when I started, it was 47.5" (13.25" off)
My waist is 35.75"; when I started, it was 49" (13.25" off)
My belly is 39.5"; when I started, it was 59.5" (WOW, 20" OFF!!!)
My rear is 45.25"; when I started, it was 64" (18.75" off)
My hip is 42.75"; when I started, it was 51" (8.25" off)
My thigh is 22.5"; when I started, it was 32.35" (9.75" off)
For the past few days, they've been off the charts so it's a little hard to gauge them right now. But they are very good, even when I'm not on an incredible adrenaline high. One thing I noticed (part of my cardio was cleaning, as my folks are coming over in a couple of weeks) is that certain things either don't make me tired, or they do but I recover readily. One of those was scrubbing. I cleaned the heck out of the oven and my arms feel just fine.
Oops, I'm losing my excuses for not cleaning. Hmm.
The past few days have been a whirlwind but my normal routine is the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with walking every day but Sundays and weights and resistance bands every single day. Everything feels great, and I'm beginning to wonder just a tiny bit about increasing the amount I lift at home. At a certain point, that will hit a limit (that was a big part of the reason why I joined a gym in the first place), but for now I still have a few more weights I could tack onto what I do as of right now, which is 25 lbs. But at 40 lbs. is when I've hit the at-home limit. I just don't want to have a big barbell set at home (plus the exercise room is tiny), so daily lifting won't go above 40 lbs. but I'll make up for that at the gym. I'm not worried about that one bit.
I'm a 14. But I also bought myself a Winter jacket for next year and it's a Medium/10-12. Except for a little hip snugness, it fits. As in I can zip it up and everything, I just have to adjust it around my hips. It'll be perfect in a month, so I'm tucking it away for next Winter, and the old one will go to charity. Right now there's no sense in getting the new one dirty. Currently I'm wearing a pair of size 18 pants that I'm swimming in. Good thing tonight's dress is a 14.
Speaking of tonight, here's a link to the schedule:
The joke at home is that I am now a superstar diva. Hence I am now demanding my own trailer, a personal assistant, a massage therapist and a personal relish tray with radishes carved into interesting shapes.
I'll recount the full experience when I've processed it all.
It's good to be the diva.
Monday, April 13, 2009
I was thinking about this song recently as a number of seemingly disconnected events occurred. The particular lyric that I'm thinking of is this:
Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow.
A few days ago my husband and I went to a local park to play frisbee. It was getting late and there wasn't a lot of light left. We'd been playing for maybe 10 minutes and would not be playing for too much longer. Just then about a half a dozen preteen kids came up, attracted by what we were doing. They all asked, "Can I try?" How can you say no to that?
So we played, a bit. They had most likely had never even seen a frisbee before, let alone thrown one, except for one boy who was pretty good. My husband and I gently threw to them and would praise them lavishly whenever anything good happened, no matter what it was. One boy mainly sat and did almost nothing, and was afraid when the frisbee came to him, but still referred to himself as The Boss Dog (my husband was called Doggie and they called me Mama Doggie). Did I mention that this kid who wasn't running and jumping was also overweight?
Then the game changed, and they started to attach conditions to catching the frisbee. One boy said, "Whoever catches this is the sky, the earth, Saturn and all the planets!" One of the girls said, "Whoever catches this is, is ... Hannah Montana!" Of course all of the girls wanted to be Hannah. Did I mention that the only two people there who were the same race as good ole Hannah were Mr. jespah and me? Eh, that doesn't matter. I suppose Hannah is as universal as Saturn to those kids.
Finally, Mr. j and I called it a day, and thanked the kids. They thanked us, too.
Then two days ago, I saw my friend again, for the first time in a good month. He asked me how Philly was. Funny, to me, it had been a long time since we'd seen each other and I had no idea he would remember -- or even care about -- such a detail. But he did. We discussed Cezanne (he, too, is evidently an art world Philistine) and I mentioned to him that I was surprised he'd remembered that I was going away. Well, he did. It mattered enough to him to remember. I was very touched by this.
Then yesterday on Facebook I got a note from a dear friend from High School, asking me about my weight loss. She asked if I could help her a bit. Well, of course.
These three things may not be obviously related, or at all related to the lyric, but they are. And here's how.
What does it mean to say that the water ripples even when there is no pebble and there is no wind? When the pebble of fate doesn't drop and the winds of chance don't blow?
It means that the catalyst is not something random. It means that the influence, the cause, the generator is none other than YOU.
Not only what you can do for yourself, but the way you can influence others. The way that you can hold out your hand and hold their lives in yours. And that they can hold yours in theirs.
Spreading the Spark isn't just about telling people about a website. It's about sharing your positive experiences, even when they have nothing to do with health and weight loss. It's about giving off the better part of yourself. It's about caring about other people. It's about using your powers for good. It's about rippling that water.
And if you're lucky, you get it back a thousandfold. You get people who remember things about you because they care about what you do. You get people who ask for your input because it counts. You get to be the sky, the earth and Saturn and all the planets.
And if you're REALLY lucky, you get to be Hannah Montana. :)
Monday, April 06, 2009
I was thinking about this song recently because Spark isn't the only place online where I hear/read people talking about weight loss. And there is a lot of despair out there, and a lot of misinformation and a lot of well-meaning kinda, sorta right stuff and all I can say is it's a good thing that there is a Spark where there is good information on nearly everything. Because out there, there are a lot of sad people and a lot of scared people and a lot of people in denial, and they look for answers and they don't always get them.
Case in point #1.
A woman came to my site (I run a general Q & A site) and asked about weight loss. Actually, she didn't ask, she just complained, and claimed that she would eat next to nothing but still gain. She said she'd weigh herself every day and see variations, so - ha! - diets don't work and life is all despair so why try this cockamamie idea of eating less and moving more when it's all going to end in ashes anyway?
A member who means well but has certain ideas told her that eating less WOULD make her lose weight, WITHOUT FAIL. Welllll, that's not 100% true, as then the extreme would be true, too, and fasting would be the quickest and easiest method of losing weight. Which it's not. I said nothing (I have discussed such with this person before and didn't feel the need to rehash it). Now, this member made some great points, that the daily weigh-in idea was insane, and that there are normal fluctuations. This member was not advocating starvation, either. But I do feel that, in order to be truly and fully informative about such things, it's more than just a simple equation of less in your mouth equals less on your butt. That's not 100% the case, and it is not a linear progression. I feel a lot of folks get hung up on that, that the cause and effect relationship is neither perfect nor simple, and then things don't work out in that perfectly simple manner and then suddenly that's an excuse to let it all go to hell in a handbasket.
Case in point #2.
There is a long-term member on my site who also weighs in (pun intended) on the weight loss topics. Not on the one I was discussing above, but on plenty others. This person is near 80 if not already there and is disabled. And this person, I suspect, has been overweight for a long time.
That person lamented that there's no good way to lose weight. And that because that person couldn't exercise, they were doomed to sorrow and despair.
The member who's into the linear progression told this person to not eat so much. And while this is true (albeit not necessarily 100% tactful), it's not, like I said above, a perfectly linear progression. And the elder member balked -- not being able to exercise was tantamount to it just not being good, ever! Nothing could possibly work, so why even try?
I mentioned hand weights. I mentioned the arm-strengthening cardio used in physical therapy (I've forgotten what it's called, but it's like a little bicycle axle; you push the pedals around with your hands). I mentioned eating fewer calorically dense foods. I mentioned eating frequent smaller meals in order to stave off hunger and binging. Oh no. None of that could possibly work. Never, ever, ever, no sense in even trying and was I ever on crack for even suggesting such insanity.
So I let it go. After all, there are plenty of people -- and I was one of them for a very, very long time -- who really just want to complain that it's not easy. Well, I'm here to say that it's easy to do it. The hard parts are getting started and then sustaining, in particular when things don't seem to be going right, despite your best efforts. But the actual weighing in, measuring and recording of food and moving your body, I mean, let's face it. This is not the equivalent of defending your dissertation. It is not brain power that is necessary. It isn't even, completely, will power. It's determination. It's wanting to do it and being receptive to it. It's opening up your mind to this experience, and letting it work, and giving it a chance, even if you're skeptical. Even if everything you ever thought, or believed or were taught said that it was impossible and that you were foolish and gullible to ever believe in it.
And I wonder -- here's where the title and song come in, folks -- who DID put those ideas in our heads? Who told us that we couldn't make it? Who told us that trying was absurd or wrong or bad or a waste of time? Was it our parents? Our teachers? Our coaches? Our clergy? Our classmates? Our friends? Our neighbors?
Who told us that we'd always be fat? Who told us that we'd never succeed? Who gave us the old line about, "she's got such a pretty face ... but .."? But what? Who was it?
But, in the end, does it really matter? Does it count that someone put a notion in your head that you were not worthy of health, and that you don't matter? It's YOUR head. Choose what to fill it with just as you choose what to fill your stomach with or your house with or your life with. My case in point #2 still laments how things did not work out perfectly back in grammar school sports. That was, what, 70 YEARS ago?
It's time to let it go.
And it's time to let all of those other notions go, too, and replace them with, with what, exactly?
With the knowledge that you can do this. With the strength that you have, even if you don't know it yet. And with the understanding that, even if you're not so sure you believe it right now, that you are so worth it.
And when you're done putting those ideas in your own head, I hope you'll do just one more thing.
I hope you'll do whatever you can to put those ideas into someone else's head.
Because they're worth it, too.
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