The View from Here

My eyes deceive me placed unfortunately at the top of my head. When I look down, I don’t seem too bad. I’ve definitely lost my “belly” fat that used to wrap around me like a spare tire.

Yet, I saw photos of myself from my photography exhibit last week that made me wince. I’m still ginormous.

The most noticeable weight loss is in my face where I actually have contour and cheek bones again. But the rest of my body parts still reflect that fact that I have 70ish more lbs to lose.

Disappointing.

A little soul-crushing.

I visited with a weight loss company last week. It used to be affiliated directly with my hospital, but is now independent. The counselor had lost 100 lbs by following the program. The more I asked questions about the program, however, I wasn’t sure I would have similar results.

A lot of what the program recommends is what I’m doing already with the exception of 150 minutes of exercise a week. There is a draconian phase in the beginning where you consume their “shakes” almost exclusively. I feel like that would be punishing. And, as I’ve told you all along on this blog, if something on my weight loss journey is unpleasant, chances are I won’t do it.

I grilled the counselor for quite a while and came away with an understanding that I would need to spend about $550 a month with them for a program that would start out with shame & pain (the draconian shake diet), and then revert to what I’m doing now essentially. I didn’t think the program would work for me. It made me realize that what I’ve been doing is exceptionally cost-effective. When I consider the weight loss industry is a $58B (billion!) market in the U.S. alone, I feel I could probably help a lot of people who are not interested in spending money trying to lose weight.

I’ve even been experimenting with TikTok. While I have concerns over the CCP, I acknowledge how effective it is. I’ve been wondering if I could take this blog to TikTok, or at least write a summary of what I’ve been doing in a book. Listening to me would be a lot cheaper than the numerous ways people spend their money on weight loss programs. Realistically, all I spend directly on my weight loss is my membership to the YMCA. That’s $49/mo. And, if I go 12 times in a month, my insurance company reimburses me $20. So, $29/mo.

And, as much as I complain about my progress, I have made considerable gains, errr, losses. It might be even more interesting to write a book or start a TikTok mid-way on my path vs. waiting until I reach my target goal. This way, I would also be participating on the weight loss journey with readers/viewers.

I’m thinking about it.

Living my Best Life

Time for a little introspection (again). I spent the past week in Florida. My grandson was graduating high school, and I wanted to be there to celebrate with him and the family.

If you’ve tracked with me the past year or so, you know I relocated from the East Coast to the High Plains. I’m specifically in Northeast South Dakota.

A few insights came into focus as I left South Dakota and spent time in Florida.

First of all, the best news was I had to ask the salesgirl TWICE for a size lower than my usual size (2X). So, I am making progress on my 2022 intentions. I’m now in the last X (1X). After that, it’s normal sizes.

More importantly, I realized how much I love it here. The wide, open spaces call to me. I was eager to get back home. One of the reasons is I am becoming the best version of myself here. I’m working mind, body, and soul with a passion. I’ve left behind all the trappings that kept me fat, dumb, and unhappy.

I spend my time working on ART. I photograph. I paint. I write. I work on film projects. I am healing and growing in so many ways (that don’t include cellulite).

I am a “featured artist”in an upcoming University Playhouse Performance this summer. I get so much joy out of these artistic pursuits, it’s almost indescribable. I spent so much of my life harried, stressed, and consumed with work.

Not anymore.

My only project is me and becoming the best version of myself. If I have one regret, it’s this: I wish I didn’t wait until retirement age to focus on the activities that bring me so much joy.

Landing on a “Goal Weight”

Math, science, and a little psychology informed my path this week. With a little help from my math genius grandson, I was able to figure out where I’m headed on my trek.

My health app, Health Mate, sometimes prompts me for a little chat. This week it was about fat and a healthy body fat percentage.

My body fat percentage today is still high. It’s 48%. That’s definitely down from where I was when I started at 51.5% (Yeesh. I remember saying I was carrying a whole ‘nuther person around with me.)

What I wanted to know this week was what would my weight be at a healthy fat body percentage? I had calculated my target goal another way based on all my measurements, but I wanted to see if I calculated what my weight “should” be with a 25 – 35% body fat.

I knew it was a relational fraction “solve for x” type of formula, but couldn’t remember how to do it.

I tried googling it, but came up empty. So, I asked my grandson, the math wizard.

He was able to help me right away.

I had to multiply my weight by the desired fat percentage and then divide that number by my current fat percentage.

Bottom line, the range for my target weight is between 129 (too low at my age) and 181 (the highest healthy fat percentage at 35%).

So, realistically, anything below 181 is good for my height and age, but the target I settled on is around 175.

I also thought it was interesting that “storage fat” protects your organs from shocks and trauma. I interpreted that to be psychological trauma, as well.

It was a good week. I’m at my lowest weight ever in the past 4 years. But, alas, 73 lbs left to go.

Your Frenemy: the Scale

As you know, I don’t like to weigh myself every day. It can be frustrating at best, and misleading at worst. This morning’s data is a perfect example. I got on the scale today because the last time I weighed myself, I had broken through an important barrier. I had a milestone I wanted to reach, and I finally reached it.

I wanted to see if I had continued on that good path…

Well, the scale fought back. It reported that I GAINED 3lbs!

WTAF?

Not only was the 3lb gain a horror (it’s the most I’ve gained all year between weigh-ins), it meant I no longer was in my milestone zone. It was like a Chutes & Ladders mindf*ck.

After stewing over it a little this morning, I decided to do a deeper dive into the data. As I told you, I have an intelligent scale that measures everything when I get on the scale. I wanted to know what changed. Did I increase my body fat percentage?

The two reports tell the story. The answer is my fat mass actually went DOWN. All the other readings went UP (including my bones, which is always weird). So, I didn’t add more fat to my body with some bad slip– I actually continued on my path. Of course a 50ish percent fat mass is still terrible, but I am working on getting this down to a respectable 24% to 35%.

Net, net: don’t be discouraged by so-called weight gain. And know your scale is just one tool in your arsenal. The worst cudgel in the weight loss challenge is in your own head. Don’t be taken in by fake news. Advocate for your mental AND physical health, and investigate something that does not seem right.

“She’s Dieting”

We had a nice Easter dinner with my family. There were plenty of food selections I could manage without carbs. It was an excellent meal, actually.

I had a curious reaction though, when it came to dessert. When I declined the scrumptious-looking cake our host had baked, my sister-in-law made the comment, “She’s dieting.”

I thought about that. I’m not really “dieting.”

I changed the way I eat. I simply don’t eat that @#$% anymore.

I’ve written a lot over the years on this blog about how food became a substitute for instant gratification. I remember telling my brother that food was the last remaining hope I had for enjoying carnal pleasure. Of course, that was a joke, but now that I have completely reformed the way I eat, and what I eat, I realize the connection between longing and over-eating or eating badly is obvious.

It’s an interesting mindfulness victory. It’s like I removed myself from the moment to observe how I feel and what action is appropriate to take.

“No thank you. Looks delicious though.”

It’s been… a YEAR

Today marks one full year I’ve been on my trek to lose weight. I started blogging here again a couple weeks later. This blog has been a motivating factor to persevere. Thanks to everyone following and occasionally leaving me comments. I appreciate you!

First of all, losing a massive amount of weight is hard. No doubt. Especially if your goal is not to lose it suddenly and then regain it. My goal has been all along to CHANGE the way I live. I am not sure if I had an addiction to (bad) food, but I do know it was a comfort I could easily indulge in privately. I don’t do that anymore and that is real progress, a victory.

On the weight loss itself, I’m disappointed. Over the course of 52 weeks, I’ve only lost a total of 47.3 lbs. That averages out to about .9 (nearly a pound) a week. You can see from the chart, starting at the end of the hockey stick slope upward in the beginning of 2021, I consistently kept losing throughout 2021 and now into 2022. I have not faltered or regained any weight. It’s been a steep slope downwards.

That good news aside, I realized today I need to work harder at this. I still have 75.4 lbs to lose to reach my goal weight. I will need to make the mental, maybe financial, commitment to get there.

One of the questions my wellness coach asked me when I first started with her was this: “How would your life be different if you met your goal weight?” That question stunned me. I knew my answer instantly. I told her that EVERYTHING in my life would be better. Demonstrably better. So much better, it would be as if I had a second life; it would literally be as if I was reborn into a new person’s life with many advantages. Recognizing this was transcendent.

There is no easy way to get there. I must do the work. I figured out that if I continue at this pace, I will arrive at my goal in August of 2024.

Onwards.

Pickleball!

I have been hearing/reading about Pickleball for a few months now. It seems like a fun, easy way to spend some time in the gym without too much stress. I knew my Y had a pickleball schedule in the mornings, so I dropped in and observed two teams. What I liked about it was it felt like everyone on the court was enjoying themselves, and that it was more supportive than competitive.

My Y has Pickleball every weekday in the mornings. I spoke to two women afterwards who told me they both love it. One of them said she has been coming for six years. They both told me it’s easy to start. The Y has all the equipment; you literally just have to show up.

I’ve been thinking of asking someone I know to go with me, so there will be at least two of us who don’t know how to play on the court. Once I get the hang of it, I can try to commit to a regular schedule.

This court game fulfills one of my key criteria about exercise: it has to be enjoyable or I won’t stick with it. I’m a little wary of the time commitment, but I think I’m going to try it.

Here’s a short video about the basic game:

An Accidental Vegan

A friend of mine from high school wrote a vegan book. It was early in the social media era, and I helped her with her social accounts. The whole vegan thing seemed extreme to me, even though friends of mine were vegan and one of my daughters experimented with it as a teenager. But more and more, I started to be influenced by the cruelty to animals argument. Listen to this podcast by one of my favorite pundits, Ezra Klein. It may forever change the way you think about eating meat.

Having been on my trek for 10 months now, I have to admit I get most excited about shopping in the produce department of my local grocery store. I have become more curious about how I can make more vegetarian meals that are not high in carbs or sugar.

Somewhere in the fog of social media, Instagram specifically, I started following Jessica Seinfeld. I came to like her and her joyful, low-key cooking videos. She had a breezy vibe about her, and her recipes seemed easy. She also seemed so “human” and accessible. When she published her recent book, “Vegan, at Times,” I thought about buying it. It was expensive when it first came out, so I didn’t.

But it’s selling now at half price. I decided to buy it and see if I could make some progress on eating vegan… at times.

Seinfeld’s recommendation is to simply, try it. Her introduction sums up her philosophy about veganism. She makes it clear she’s not strictly vegan, but has found that eating vegan has its advantages.

“This is also a fact: if you eat vegan food a few days a week, you will feel better, have more energy, do good for animals and the planet.”

Vegan at Times, Jessica Seinfeld with Sara Quessenberry

I ended up shipping one of the books to my son’s girlfriend whom I know is vegan (at times). I’m looking forward to trying these recipes and seeing if I can transition to this form of healthy eating, at least on occasion.

I need some kitchen equipment to make many of the recipes. My birthday’s coming up. I may gift myself a Cuisinart and a blender.

Check out the book if you’re in a bookstore. It feels like she’s converting a new community who wouldn’t otherwise consider veganism. She definitely made an impression on me.

Simple Surprises

I have been enjoying simple surprises in my withering-away body. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I need to trade a bigger size for a smaller size when I’m in a dressing room. That always feels like a shopping bonus.

I noticed today, however, something so simple, so taken for granted by normal-sized people, I felt I had to write about it.

Here it is:

For the first time since I cannot remember when, I bent down and tied my shoes.

For many years, I would have to sit kind of sideways on my bed and tie my shoes from the side. I would have to lift my foot up to tie them. I always tried to center the knot so it would not look like I was tying them from the side. This has been my life for years– this embarrassing trick to tie my shoes. In fact, I would make it a point not to buy shoes with laces, but rather slip-ons so I could avoid this routine.

But today, with no effort at all, I just bent down and tied my ankle boots. It was such a significant moment, that I realized it right away.

I have now lost 42 lbs.

A lot of the weight came off my thick middle.

The best news is I have only a few pounds left to lose before I can ride a horse. We are in the throes of the brutal South Dakota winter, so I doubt I will be trying that in the next few weeks. But providing I keep continuing on my path, I should be able to safely get on a horse this spring.

Yippee!