Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Guys? I think my hypothesis was right. Coconut or gluten - one of them is definitely the problem, because removing them reversed the scale trend immediately. After only a single day not eating either of them, the scale started dropping.
To recap: From February 2013 through April 2014, I maintained my 100-105 lb weight loss with no problem. In that time, my weight fluctuated only about eight pounds, and mostly stayed within a two-pound range. At my one-year maintenance anniversary, I weighed six pounds less than the year before. In March, I gained a pound, mostly due to travel at the end of the month. In April, I also gained a pound, because I spent the second half of the month not exercising at all, with my butt parked in my office chair 15 hours a day as I wrote and wrote and wrote (finishing the novel-in-progress I'd been working on since January). So at the end of April, I was still four pounds below my maintenance line.
Then in May, I started eating tons of coconut oil and coconut butter and just plain coconut, as well as reintroducing gluten partway through the month. I gained six pounds. In June, I started tracking calories again, started exercising again, started eating at a deficit again to try to lose some of those pounds, but continued to eat gluten and coconut on a regular basis. I gained six-and-a-half pounds. On July 1st, I stopped eating both, and the scale went down for the first time since April. In my first week without either, I lost 1.8 lbs and an inch off my hips, despite several days of eating at-or-above maintenance AND going on TOM a full week early (boo). You might say 1.8 lbs is nothing, but for the girl who never loses more than a half-pound per week, that's a pretty big drop. I'll take it!
Honestly, I suspect it's the coconut more than the gluten, though they might both be related. I suspect it because I started the rapid-gain trend about two weeks before I started eating gluten again (three of May's six pounds), and I was eating a LOT of coconut in that time. Also, gluten never made me GAIN weight before I first started suspecting that I was gluten-intolerant. Also, I've always reacted badly to palm oils and coconut is related to them. But either way - coconut OR gluten - I'm keeping both of these foods well away from my diet, and I'll keep working on losing the 12.5 lbs that I gained in May and June (grr).
That is my goal for this third quarter of 2014. Track my food, eat at a deficit most days, get in regular moderate exercise. Try to get back to around where I started in May if possible (the low 150s). Eventually, I'd like to pick up my weight loss journey and get to my final goal of the 130s (probably in 2015), but right now, I'd just like to get back to my body's happy weight - the weight it's easier to maintain, where I feel and look good, where my clothes will fit again.
Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Guys, my body is really starting to worry me.
Here's the deal. I maintained my 100-105 lb loss no problem for 15 months. I rarely tracked, I didn't always eat the right foods, and sometimes I went long stretches without exercising very often. And yet, I maintained my loss easily. I naturally ate right in my maintenance range, and I didn't have to THINK to maintain.
Something changed at the beginning of May. In the past two months, I've gained nearly 15 lbs. Sure, there were days/weeks when I was eating more than normal. However, there have also been weeks when I've tracked every bite of food that goes in my mouth and made sure to eat at a calorie deficit. I've also been mostly sugar free and have had 5+ servings of freggies daily for 75% of the last two months. I've also been exercising regularly for the last few weeks. Other than maybe two weeks of that two month period, back at the beginning of May, I've been eating exactly like I did during the 15 months of maintenance before then. And yet, I've gained nearly 15 lbs, plus several inches in each location I measure, and the scale continues to go up EVERY SINGLE FRICKIN' DAY. My clothes have gone up 1-2 sizes in the last month alone (which is a problem, because I gave away all the bigger clothes I own, having not needed them for longer than a year). I look and feel terrible.
These are the two pictures I took at my writer's conference this past weekend. Now, they're slightly exaggerated, because that shirt is too short for me and really doesn't fit well. Still. You can see just how much I've gained. I look obese again. This is NOT COOL. Something is WRONG. It's very unusual to gain 15 lbs in two months while eating the same way you did during your 15 months of easy maintenance. The last time I gained weight rapidly like this was before my tooth infections were fixed in 2009. I am really worried, and so of course, have been looking for possible culprits, and I can only see two possibilities:
1. Coconut. I began replacing vegetable oil with coconut oil back at the beginning of May, and I started using coconut butter as a sugarfree replacement for my sweet-tooth. Coconut butter, for anyone who doesn't know, is just pureed coconut pulp, and I would mix it with unsweetened cocoa powder and put it over fruit for a little chocolaty treat. Because coconut butter is very high calorie, I was very careful with how much I ate - never more than a tablespoon in a day, which is roughly like having a spoonful of peanut butter, around 100 calories. When I started tracking again, I had no problem working that spoonful into my daily diet. However, back in early May, when I was using tons of coconut oil in cooking, I got lethargic, my blood pressure increased exponentially, and my skin turned opaque (which it tends to do when my cholesterol skyrockets). These symptoms could have been from other dietary things changes that first week of May, but in researching online, these symptoms are often associated with coconut fats. Before May, I almost never had coconut in any form, and I've had a ton of it since then. It might be affecting my body.
2. Gluten. Last year, after testing food allergies all year, I determined I had a gluten intolerance. It caused a ton of symptoms, the worst of which was severe bone/joint pain (feeling like I was burning from the inside out). I discovered in early May that these symptoms were related to a medication I'd been taking since before I pinpointed the gluten allergy, and now that I was no longer taking it, I no longer had any reaction. I've started eating gluten again (and after a week of eating all the things I hadn't been able to eat for a year, I started eating it just at normal times - no binging or anything). After six weeks of eating gluten, however, SOME of the symptoms are starting to come back. I've developed sores all over my scalp, and my other skin problems have flared up. I'm starting to get that gnawing hunger within an hour of eating gluten. I have brain fog even when I'm eating healthy foods. The last cold I got turned into bronchitis - something that happened with every single cold BEFORE I gave up gluten, and with NONE of my colds after I went gluten-free. Thankfully, I'm not getting that internal fire anymore, but it's possible that the medicine was only exacerbating symptoms that were already there. It's possible I *am* still gluten-intolerant. (Sigh.) And if so, it also might be affecting my body.
These are the only two things that have changed in my diet in the last two months. This unexplained rapid weight gain has GOT to be related to one of them. (At least, I hope. PLEASE I hope I don't have another silent infection somewhere...) I know some people will point out that the last two months have been very stressful, with this relocation stuff, but I know that can't be the cause of the gain. I've been under SEVERE stress for an unrelated matter for the last year as of tomorrow - much worse than this relocation stress - and I maintained my weight with no problem during ten of those months. Plus, both stresses have actually been going down in the last few weeks, and yet, the scale is still going up and up and up. I'm sure stress isn't HELPING, but it's not causing me to gain 2 lbs a week, either.
So. Coconut. Gluten. As of today, you are GONE. Back out of my life again. Good to know you, it's been fun, but I don't think we are compatible. We should probably go our separate ways, even though that makes me very, very sad.
Hopefully, this will start putting me on the path of reversal. I would like to get back to my maintenance weight, and feel good about myself again.
PS - I know I haven't been here very often. I've been focusing a lot on my writing, and on my blog (link below), and on prepping to move. I update my blog 5-6 times a week, and for now, I'll probably be there more often than I'm here. I'll still check in periodically, though. Hopefully by the next time I check in, I'll have good news.
Friday, June 13, 2014
"I need a new head. I need new teeth. I need new eyes. I need a new me. New head, new teeth, new eyes, new me, new face, no trace. Where did I go?"
--from "I, New" by my favorite band, Stiffs Incorporated
I am tired of the old me. The old me has spent far too long wallowing in depression, angst, and paralyzed fear. She has stopped moving forward - or even holding still - and has started falling backward backward backward. She hates her body and has no motivation, drive, or willpower. The only thing she has in plenty is excuses.
I do not want to be that girl anymore. I am not okay with the fact that I've gained back 10 lbs and am overweight again. I am not okay with my clothes feeling too tight and my body feeling uncomfortably sluggish. I am not okay with self-loathing and body-shame.
It's difficult. The personal Bad Stuff I've been going through for the last year (and worse in the last few months) has left me drained. Spent. My energy is completely sapped. Just getting through each day is tough. But the only way to get out of this hole is to claw my way out. I need to eat better, exercise more, interact with my friends more often. Force myself up inch by inch each day.
So I am taking steps. I've changed up my Sparkpage. I've created new goals, focuses, and motivators. I've joined new teams. I've made new plans. I know that there's a strong possibility that I will stumble and fall repeatedly along this new path, especially in these early days, but I will do my best to keep getting up. I also know that the first 10 of the 25 lbs I need to lose will hold no victory for me, because they are pounds I've already lost once, but I will keep working toward 100% brand new numbers on the scale.
- Exercise 5x/wk, 30-60 mins, including heavy ST 3x/wk.
- Active recovery - I need to not be sedentary outside of exercise!
- Take lots of slow, easy walks in addition to exercise.
- Stretch and foam-roll 3x/wk.
- Cut out all flour/sugar 85% of the time (6 days/wk).
- Eat 5-10 freggies per day.
- Check in daily on Spark and with my accountability buddy, Stephanie (INEEDACAT9).
As of this morning, I weigh 159.2 lbs. Ugh. My arm is 11.5 inches, bust is 37.5, waist (not sucked in) is 32, hips are 40, and upper thigh is 23. ALL of these measurements are up 0.5-2.5 inches from where they were two months ago. Sadface. And, the final nail in the coffin, new "before" photos for the new journey, which really show the regain:
(Note: First side pic is sucked in, the second is not sucked in.)
I've changed my ticker to reflect my new starting weight and my goal of 135 lbs. Also, I took an extensive fitness test this morning - the same one I took on January 1st and also last May - to see where my current, post-surgery fitness levels are. My abdominal surgery was exactly five months ago today, and my core strength disappeared completely on that day (as you'd expect, given they moved my ab muscles in five inches!). Not much has returned, especially as I wasn't cleared to do any core work beyond basic balance stuff until very recently. Between the extremely weak core and my total lack of fitness over the last two months, the results of today's test aren't good:
1. Resting heart rate: 64 bpm
- Jan 2014: not tested
- May 2013: 64 bpm
2. Pull-ups: 0.75
- Jan 2014: 4
- May 2013: 1.25
3. Vertical leap: 11 inches
- Jan 2014: 13.5
- May 2013: 13.25
4. Push-ups: 17
- Jan 2014: 31
- May 2013: 15
5. Toe touch: 3 inches past my toes
- Jan 2014: 3.5 inches past my toes
- May 2013: 4 inches past my toes
6. In & outs (V-crunches, hands on floor): 21
- Jan 2014: 21
- May 2013: 21
7. Seated wall squat: 1:23
- Jan 2014: 1:05
- May 2013: 0:42
8. Arm curls to failure: 46 w/10 lb weights in each hand
- Jan 2014: 20 w/10 lb weights in each hand
- May 2013: 14 w/10 lb weights in each hand
9. Heart rate maximizer:
--179 bpm after 2 mins jumping jacks (Jan: 178, May: 177)
--155 bpm after 1-min rest (Jan: 146, May: 150)
--138 bpm after 2-min rest (Jan: 125, May: 139)
--128 bpm after 3-min rest (Jan: 119, May: 129)
--127 bpm after 4-min rest (Jan: 121, May: 120)
The pull-up one makes me particularly mad. Grr. Ah well. It's a place to start, at least. That's where I am. Starting over, at the beginning of a new journey. Not as BIG a journey as the last time I began losing weight - only 25 lbs instead of 120 lbs to lose - but still a journey. I need a new me. Time to go find one.
June 13, 2014 -
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
You guys already know that things have been difficult for me over the last 1-2 months. I'm struggling with a lot of stress and some personal things, and that has resulted in gaining back about 10 lbs. I'm now about 5 lbs over that magic healthy-BMI line, and nearly tipping back into the 160s again - AND that's on my home scale, which is always about 6 lbs lower than a doctor's scale. This is not okay, but every time I try to rein in the damage, something happens: a night where I only sleep 3 hrs, a family crisis, another party someone throws before we move away from all our family and friends, a sudden house-showing which means we have to eat out again. Life is very chaotic right now, and there's very little I can do besides minimize the damage during the parts when I DO have control.
I am doing my best to cut out flour and sugar whenever possible and eat 7+ freggies a day, but honestly, this isn't enough. Most people say that losing weight is 80% diet 20% fitness. This has never been the truth for my body. For me, losing weight is 80% fitness 20% diet. And the fitness portion...isn't happening. We are into triple-digit heat here. The boys are home from school and I need to watch them. I have to keep my house in show-ready condition 100% of the time, which not only takes a lot of work/time, but also means I can't have super-sweaty exercise clothes (and believe me, they would be in this heat) stinking up my house. Sure, I can spend some time walking around my 80-degree living room to get in SOME movement. It's not enough, though. It's not real exercise for me, and frankly, if I can't sweat-up my clothes except the twice-a-week laundry days, I'm just not going to get in enough fitness. That's the sacrifice I make trying to sell a south Texas home in June.
Two years ago, when I wasn't allowed to exercise at all for 10 weeks due to a stress fracture, I managed to maintain my weight. I wasn't under the stress I'm under now, though, not to mention there weren't parties, outings, or restaurant dinners (because of house showings) every couple nights. It's easier to maintain when you have control of your diet 95% of the time, rather than only about 50% of the time, especially when the 50% of the time you DO have control is somewhat difficult due to stress, family crisis, and extremely little sleep. I'm doing the best I can, and it's NOT enough.
There is some good news in all this, though. We've had quite a few showings on the house, including some second-showings, so I'm hopeful that soon we will have an offer and can get it sold. That'll be one less thing to worry about. We've also secured housing in Boston as of August 1st, so we know exactly when we'll be moving, and where to, and how to budget for it. Last night, there were a few semi-positive steps made in the personal area (see previous post), and while I don't expect things to be better for many months now, I'm hopeful that they CAN be better one day, which is something I haven't had any hope for since April. This last bit is the most important, because the personal area is the one that is feeding my self-destructive behavior (as in forcing myself to eat as much junk as I can for multiple reasons - again, see previous post). If I can get that stressor out of my life, or at least alleviate it, I can start working back to a better mental and physical level again.
I really want to start working my way back to Spark again. Today is Wednesday, and I have the idea that I should start doing regular Wednesday Weigh-in kinds of posts, with a bit of chat about the past week and how things are going. Maybe a weekly post like that would help me. It seems a positive step forward, and I need as many little positive steps as possible right now. I can't guarantee that I'll follow through with this plan, but I'm going to try. That's about all I can do right now: keep trying. In the meantime, I'll try to start following along in my friend feed again, which I've barely glanced at over the last six weeks, and I'll keep writing on a more regular basis on my personal blog. If you're interested, the link is here:
I wish I had better news, overall. Things are very difficult right now, and will likely remain so for the next two months at very least. All I can do is keep stepping forward, and hope at some point I can heal from the injuries I've acquired over the last year.
"No one knows the battles we survive." --Umbrella Brigade
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
May has been a very bad month here. I think it was pretty obvious in my last blog that I was in a really bad place, mentally. I won't say much about it, but I'll say that Bad Stuff has been happening in my life for almost a year now (since July 2nd), and that Bad Stuff has stressed me out and worn me down for so long that I have almost no energy left. Recent extra stresses have made the situation worse. We're moving cross country in the next two months, prepping to sell our house, saying goodbye to friends and family, and suffering from major heat waves in San Antonio. I finished working on a major writing project at the end of April, and have yet to find direction on a new one, so I don't even have a focus to keep my head together while I juggle all the mental stresses. On top of that, I had a major internal realization about my personal struggle with these last 15-20 lbs, and that realization makes me very, very helplessly angry. All this adds up. Then, add it to the very frustrating time I've had in terms of weight loss (whether or not my own mental block is causing it), and it doesn't look good.
I counted every calorie I ate from January 1st to April 30th this year. I had enough of a deficit in that time to lose about 10 lbs, and yet I didn't lose an ounce (or an inch, except those surgically removed). I actually gained two pounds in March/April, so that I began May up at 151 lbs again. Sigh. So I changed things up. I tried Whole30 and lasted 9.5 days until I was so sick that I had to quit. I also gained 3 lbs in those 9.5 days on Whole30 (taking me to 154 lbs). In the 9.5 days since then, I said f--- everything, and exploded. It helped (or not) that I discovered that my gluten-intolerance was actually a medication issue. I've spent the last 9.5 days binging on everything I couldn't eat for the last 9 months.
Chocolate chip cookies. Onion bagels. My favorite frozen burritos. Pop-tarts. Sundried tomato wheat thins. Oatmeal Squares cereal. Crackin' Oat Bran. Fish and chips with malt vinegar. Lucky Charms. Sausage kolaches. Doughnuts. Whole wheat pasta. Bulgar. Hamburgers on normal hamburger buns. Dominos pizza. Twix bars. Graham crackers. Milano cookies. Cheese danishes. And so on.
I do not have a binge disorder, and I do not binge the way those with a disorder do so. When I "binge," it involves simple (rather than catastrophic) overeating, so that I eat more often and bigger portions at each meal and become uncomfortably full, but I sincerely doubt I ever eat more than about 3000 calories in a day. When I'm eating junk like I named above, other stuff (like real food - protein and fruits and veggies) simply disappears, plus I start skipping meals as well, so it moderates out the calories a bit. I still consider it a binge, though, because of the mentality behind the act. I binge when I am helplessly angry. In that rare moment when I am very, very angry, but have no direction to place that anger, I turn inwards, and I punish myself by forcing myself to eat. In other words, the last 9.5 days boiled down to three things:
1. I can eat gluten again, so I'm going to eat ALL THE THINGS.
2. Because of a personal, private reason that I won't talk about on Spark, I feel absolutely repulsive, so I'm going to eat and eat and eat and make myself LOOK as repulsive as I FEEL.
3. I am helplessly angry, and that anger has to go somewhere, so food becomes a weapon against myself, because it's easier to bear the pain of gluttony than the pain of anger.
I won't apologize for any of these feelings.** I very rarely come to a place where I fall so low and feel some combination of negativity that leads to a full-on food-attack. In the nearly five years I've been on this weight loss journey, it's literally happened three times. Each time, I scrape myself off from rock bottom after 7-14 days, and start again with grim renewed determination. I am nothing if not stubbornly persistent. As my friend TRUE-NESS has told me more than once, I am no rock star on this weight loss journey - I am a WARRIOR. And so, like a true warrior, I nursed an injury that might have been fatal to someone else, and now it's time to dust myself off and walk again, even while I still hurt pretty badly.
Yesterday, I woke up and decided it would be my last binge day. I decided to eat ALL THE REST OF THE THINGS, and then to start over fresh this morning. In my 9.5 days of binging, I gained an additional 5.4 lbs, bringing me to 159.4 lbs. I am currently higher than I have been since December 2012. I know probably 4-5 lbs of this will drop off quickly, because I'm carrying a lot of water weight and girl weight at present, but even after they drop off, I will be way too high for my own comfort.
I'm tired. This processed junk makes me feel terrible. This level of anger and self-loathing exhausts me. My clothes are tight and I've gained anywhere from half an inch to two inches in every place I measure. My body, which has straddled the line between healthy and overweight for over a year now, definitely looks overweight again. Actually, it looks like I've gained 20-25 lbs, not just 10. Beyond that, I'm craving freggies and real food. My sugar addiction has returned full force and I am ready to escape it again. I haven't exercised in weeks and my body is aching to MOVE.
So I start over. Start fresh. Start moving forward again, step by grim, determined step.
**This is going to come off sounding really defensive, but I've experienced this too many times now here on Spark to not address it. Please, if you don't know me well or are seeing me for the first time on this blog, don't tell me about therapy and prayer (I'm not Christian) and things I should/shouldn't do or think or feel. Trust me, I know myself VERY well and I already know all those things. Those sorts of comments are the opposite of helpful/supportive when I'm trying to push myself toward a more positive mentality, and will therefore be deleted outright.
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