Thursday, November 12, 2009
I became more active after moving to Seattle, and while I had lost about 15-20 pounds, I could not seem to get below 140.
We all have our reasons for wanting to lose weight. Some do it for their health. Some for their vanity. I wish I could be an angel and say that I did it for my health, but in truth, it was probably driven mostly by vanity. And desire to find love again.
I remember when I was fitter, and the look of a boy's adoring crush on me. At 160, I was invisible. At 140, I was a 'nice' girl and fun to hang out with, but not interested in 'that way'.
There was a guy that I met at the bar I liked. We were flirting, and sort of started dating. Then he started going cold on me. Finally he said, "Cathy, you're awesome. You're a great girl. You're smart, fun, and I have a great time with you. But I just don't find you physically attractive."
What a jerk. But, he finally said what I thought everyone was thinking. It hurt. Humiliated, I kicked him out of my apartment. I cried. I wanted to crawl into a shell and disappear. I wanted to fall back into my old comfortable place - I was trying so hard, I lost a lot of weight, I thought I looked great - why bother?
But then, something in me clicked.
I got angry. I *am* awesome.
I'll be darned if that guy, or anybody, said something that defeated me. I was reminded of something Eleanor Roosevelt once said:
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
I made some success with dieting. I decided that I needed more exercise than walking to the bookstores. I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to get a gym membership. Seattle is full of skinny-fit singles. I didn't want to be the fat girl on the treadmill in a room full of pseudo-athletes. I figured I would have to do something at home.
I didn't want to do exercise videos - my apartment was too small. What I ended up doing was playing the game Dance, Dance Revolution on my Playstation 2. I read an article on MSNBC about some kids who had lost weight playing the game. I liked playing games, why not? Kind of weird, kind of funky. I didn't think of it at all as being 'exercise' and having to do 'a workout'. I was playing a game and having fun. I would come home from work, prepare a meal using e-Diet's meal plan, then play DDR for an hour.
At first, playing DDR for an hour was impossible. I was dripping with sweat and embarrassed that I was so out of shape. I wanted to quit. Sometimes I would get home, and think it was never going to get any better, so why bother?
I thought, oh well, I'll just try and beat my high score. I listened to the music, 'danced' on the pad, and played the game. I didn't think about how many calories I was burning.
In time, (how long? weeks? forever? would have liked sooner!) my balance and coordination improved greatly. I was playing the game on advanced. My heart wasn't pounding out of my chest anymore. In fact, it was too EASY!
I still wasn't ready for the gym. I bought a bicycle. (You can read my bicycle "Mount Everest" story in my profile.)
My weight not changing much depressed me. Was I doing something wrong? However, while my scale weight didn't change a whole lot, my body shape sure was. My body reacted very positively to exercise, but I didn't see it on the scale right away. I found my size 14 shorts didn't fit at all, and my size 12 jeans were almost ready to drop off my hips too.
I went shopping. All new size 10s! I went home, gathered up all my size 14 and 12 clothes, and dropped them off at Goodwill. I went through my apartment and threw out every junk food item I could find. (Sorry Sally Struthers and starving kids in Africa. It's junk; you wouldn't want it anyway.) Cookies, chips, candy, ice cream, soda and crackers. I never wanted to see them again.
To Be Continued, My Story, Part 5 How I My Changed Habits
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
After moving to Seattle in debt and the heaviest I've ever been in my life, it was time to start over clean. I found Seattle to be a very friendly city for walking to the store for groceries instead of driving, and it was chock full of used bookstores! I thought I was in heaven.
Seattle also has a ton of locally owned restaurants that are inexpensive and actually pretty healthy. I wasn't eating at fast food places anymore. I was eating delicious bowls of vietnamese pho and bento boxes.
I didn't intend to, but I started losing weight. I first started noticing it when my size 14 pants were too loose. I moved down to size 12.
While I was picking up some good new habits, I was also picking up some bad ones. Being new to the city, I started spending a lot of time at a local bar. Not having many friends, I went there to socialize. While I was making new friends, I didn't seem to be meeting any new dating interests. The guys I was interested in weren't too interested in me.
This was something kind of new to me. Guys in high school and college found me pretty cute, and I was dating often. In Seattle, I had no dates. While I have always believed that a person should love you for who you are, there is still an attraction element. Seattle was full of fit, active men who wanted fit, active women. This was a bitter pill to swallow. I was not attractive to the men I wanted to date.
While doing all this walking and eating less fatty cheap eats, I had lost some weight. My scale was reading right around 145-140. While this was great news, I began to see myself as overweight and ugly. The first thoughts of really needing to lose weight started floating through my head. Everywhere I saw these young, pretty, thin girls in their 20s. I was 29 years old, facing the 'dreaded' three-o. I began to get desperate.
I tried going on 'diets' again. No results. I was trying to eat healthy and exercise, but I was doing it wrong (didn't know it). I still didn't know how to properly prepare a meal. I didn't know how to calculate calories in/calories out. In more dark and despairing nights alone, some thoughts starting going through my head about purging after a meal. Fortunately, I never went down that path. I had a friend in school who was bulimic, and I helped her through it. I could not be a hypocrite. Also my fear of vomiting kept me from ever actually trying it.
I tried calorie restrictions which were probably more on the side of starvation diets because, again, I still didn't know how to properly prepare a meal. It did not work. I would starve myself for a couple of days, then I would gobble up anything I could find.
I thought about joining Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig. Instead I found E-diets (which I was a member of until I found Spark.) I started learning about proper nutrition and exercise. I followed their meal plans to teach me how to make an appropriate dinner plate. I bought a food scale. The first time I weighed a 4oz piece of steak, I was appalled! That was not a STEAK. That was a BITE! But I tried it. After finishing it, I sat miserable thinking it wasn't enough food.
I started reading about enjoying things in moderation. While I tried and tried, I simply could not get myself to eat a handful of chips. If I ate one cookie, a few hours later, I would go back to the kitchen and have another, and another. One day I looked around my pantry and realized that if I wanted a change, I would have to get rid of the junk. I was loathe to throw anything away because "starving children in Africa" was ingrained in me. You don't waste food. I thought I would just finish what I had.
When I finished what I had, I just got more. Old habits die hard. I rationalized 'moderation'. I thought I was eating healthy and exercising, but the scale wasn't budging. Again, I blamed slow metabolism. Maybe I just can't lose weight. I could not break 140.
To Be Continued in My Story, Part 4 Busting the Plateau
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In part 1 I described how I came to be 160 pounds at 5'0". My BMI was approximately 31, which is obese. However, I went into denial about it. I thought that I just had a few extra pounds, and wasn't willing to do anything about it.
Sure my boyfriend and I tried a few crash diets. Slim fast, Lean Cuisines, the Zone diet (not a crash diet, but we did not follow it) and a few more. Atkins was a dream. All the steak you want? Oh yeah, I can eat me some steak. However, we weren't really committed to it. We lost weight, but we gained it all back. Who can drink Slim Fasts forever? Yuck.
I stepped on the scale at one point, and was still not ready to face the number. 160 pounds. My scale must have been calibrated wrong. I figured it was off by 10 pounds (like 150 was any better). Thinking about it now, I'm horrified with myself. How could I ignore and rationalize the blatant evidence?
By this time I figure I was addicted to food like an alcoholic is to liquor. I couldn't stop eating that much. It felt wrong if I didn't eat that much. If I tried to restrict my calories, I was 'starving' and couldn't help myself. It was a habit. My perception of what a 'meal' should be was overinflated and distorted.
I lived like this for about 3 years. I figure it could have been worse. I got off easy at 160 pounds with the lifestyle I was living.
Things came crashing down in about January 2002. My boyfriend and I both got laid off from our jobs during the tech crash. I took a job at Circuit City just to get some money in. He took a job in another city which lead to a three hour commute every day. Our relationship strained and deteriorated, then finally broke. We split in May of 2003.
In the process of ending our lives together, I made a couple of startling revelations.
1) I was broke.
2) I was fat.
All of those days eating out at restaurants contributed to an enormous debt and an enormous waist. I was left overweight with all the bills and no job.
I had a friend who lived in Seattle. Starting from the bottom, I had nothing left to lose. It was time to make a change. I moved to Seattle July 2nd, 2003.
To Be Continued in My Story, Part 3 Reborn in the Rain
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Who am I? How did I get here? Where am I going?
Ahh these existential questions are not about life and the universe, but about me and my journey with weight issues.
I haven't always been overweight. In high school, I was the typical teenager who saw herself as 'fat' and wasn't. I look back at pictures from high school and am baffled by why I thought that.
Pretty typical of most women's distortions of our own body image.
In college I was about 115-120 pounds. I didn't gain the typical 10 pounds they say college students gain. Probably because I was carrying 25 pounds of books in a backpack, up hills across campus, joined martial arts classes, and the school cafeteria was the worst in the nation. Seriously. There was a survey of college students across the country and my school ranked #1 for worst college cafeteria.
It was after college where I gained 40 pounds. That doesn't sound like a lot, especially when I watch shows like the Biggest Loser and the average weigh in is well over 100+ overweight. However, I am only 5'0". At 160 pounds, I was obese.
This didn't happen all at once, of course. It was slow creep due to a sedentary desk job and bad eating habits. I now had a job and money, and I could afford restaurants. My boyfriend and I ate out at almost every meal, fast food or restaurants. I was taught as a child to clean my plate. I didn't realize that the average restaurant plate has 2-3 portions worth of calories. I was also taught that when you eat at restaurants, your steak portion should be big. I would have balked at a 3oz steak. I would eat a whole 12oz steak, mashed potatoes and corn plate by myself.
When I started putting on weight and my clothes didn't fit, I chalked it up to 'slowing metabolism' at my ripe old age of 26. Sure didn't have the metabolism when I was 16 and could eat anything, I thought! I didn't think about what I was eating and how much. Cookies, cakes, donuts, chips, 64oz big gulp coke, double quarter pounder with cheese, half a box of pizza, 12" subway sandwich etc. My metabolism was slow, right?
Not exactly. I wasn't cleaning off 12oz steak from my plate when I was 16. I played soccer, trained with the team every day 2 hours after school, rode my bike, and worked as a retail clerk. My mom was a very good cook, and we always had fresh fruits and veggies in the house.
I wasn't cooking at home, and I wasn't eating fruits and veggies with my daily restaurant diet. I didn't 'have time' to go shopping or cook or do dishes. It was much easier to roll into a restaurant and sit down.
I had no idea I had become so big, even when I bought size 14 pants. Denial stage 1. I didn't see the fat me when I looked in the mirror. When I looked in the mirror, I saw the skinny me that was just a little overweight. It wasn't until my boyfriend took a picture of me looking through a telescope that I got slapped with a dose of reality. The picture was from behind. Jokes about 'wide angle lenses' come to mind. I looked really fat. Obese, even. And I still went into denial about it. No, no, I just take bad pictures. The camera always makes me look heavier.
Yet, it was not enough for me to do anything about it.
To be continued in My Story, Part 2 Reality Bites...
Friday, August 24, 2007
I'm a little hungrier than normal today. I'm not sure why. I ate my usual high protein breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit. But by 10, I was almost completely starved. I ate a tuna salad kit and felt better until lunch. At lunch I ate a rice noodle bowl. I tried the $.99 Trader Joe's Garlic Rice Noodle bowl - delicious! Good value for the calories and taste. Also ate a salad. But about an hour later, I was hungry again. I'm blaming lack of protein at lunch, so I had two spoonfuls of peanut butter. I'm out of snacks though (forgot my usual lunch bag this morning with lots of fruit snacks) so I don't have anything left to eat until dinner. This could be bad...
Here's hoping 2 tablespoons of peanut butter saved the day...
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