French Women Don’t Get Fat (or Ugly)

Ah, Paris.  I love you so much more than you love me.   All the women in Paris look like this young woman.   They exude fashion sense and good taste.  Walking around in Paris is a veritable moveable feast in style and sophistication.  Except, of course, in the heavily trafficked tourist areas where the out-of-towners blight the landscape.

I say this with no apologies.  I felt extremely uncomfortable in Paris as an overweight, under-dressed American.  But, in that reality, I was able to appreciate Paris all the more.  Sort of the old yarn, “I wouldn’t want to be a member of a club who’d have me as a member.”

Don’t misunderstand, this frank acknowledgement doesn’t mean I have low self-esteem or feel badly about myself.  It’s more of a recognition that looks are a form of Art.  I had forgotten this until I visited Paris.  It gave me a new perspective on beauty.   I tell my daughters (who are incredibly beautiful) not to define themselves by their looks.  I believe this wholeheartedly, but there is a virtue in complementing your beautiful surroundings with your own beauty.  Not sure I’m conveying this correctly, but it was a great learning experience and one I will remember for a very long time.

Now, onto weight loss issues.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to avoid sugar and carbs in France.  I did really well for the first few days, but eventually broke down.  I even had pommes frites and pasta at one point.  I was really worried that when I returned to the US, that I would have gained ten pounds or so.  Much to my delight, however, I actually lost a HALF POUND!  I know why, too.  We WALKED the entire city, every day.   I wish I had my Fitbit in Paris, because – guaranteed – I was walking over 10K every day.  The best surprise for me was that I was able to walk these long distances without the usual resting, etc.  My feet hurt, but I was not out of breath or exhausted, etc.  I had no problem taking the long flights of stairs or going up hills.  It’s a testament to the work I’ve been doing.

After a wonderful trip, and a good few days catch-up and back to my new normal eating, I am very proud to report I have lost 40 pounds.  I feel great, and am looking forward to continuing with my 50% off campaign. Someday, when I can wear the clothes I’m collecting on Pinterest, I will return to Paris.  And slip in quietly unnoticed, which will indeed be a beautiful thing.

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

I’m actually down thirty pounds, but Lose-it! doesn’t have a badge for that.  Not sure what the next one is, but I’m looking forward to it!  It amazes me how much these milestones and personal support from friends matters as I truck along.

I’m still dealing with my pulled groin, or whatever it is.  And the heel thing is not going away.  Today, I tried to swim as I thought that would be less stressful on my muscles.  It still hurt, but I was really out of breath, so I guess I elevated my heart rate.  Of course, I got in the pool and swam down the lane and realized I had my FitBit on when I stood up.  It seems to be working now though, but I thought it was a goner.  We’ll see if it’s reliable.  They may permit a return on it according to their customer support community.

On the weight loss itself, it feels kind of strange.  I no longer have the gignormous stomach that obstructed the view of my feet.  (Where did it go?)  My clothes are all fitting loosely now, with very few exceptions. Like most women who’ve gained and lost, I have clothes in my closet in nearly every size.  I refuse to buy new clothes right now.  What I have done in the past is buy smaller size plus clothes in thrift shops.  I may do that again if my clothes really start not fitting at all.  The other noticeable weight loss is actually in my face.  I think it’s thinning out.  For a woman my age, I have very few wrinkles, so this is a welcome development.  When I reach my 50% off goal, I am definitely going to lie about my age. 🙂

I have been using a number of devices to keep me motivated (apart from the online friends and tools).  One device I’ve used in the past is to make a simple poster of my future state from magazine clippings.  It’s entirely old skool, made with scissors and glue.  It’s kinda fun though.  Lots of photos of horses.  I’ll post it when I have it finished.  It’s not a work of art, just a mental reminder of what I’m working toward.

My health has really improved, as I’ve said before.  I still can’t believe I don’t have acid reflux anymore.  I drink water exclusively, unless I’m drinking tea.  (Oh, there is plenty of drinking Chardonnay on occasion.)  I can’t give up alcohol altogether when I go out.  I still have not had a piece of bread since December 1st.

Tomorrow, I’m signing up for something at the gym called a 90-day challenge.  I hope it’s not just an opportunity or them to upsell me, but I’m going to do it.  There are a variety of programs associated with it that I’ve been curious about.  Yoga, grocery shopping, Zumba, even a 5K at the end, which I should be able to do by May 1.

Well, that’s it for now.  I’m feeling great and moving forward (albeit gingerly until my injuries heal).

Oh, best news?  I’m no longer “morbidly obese.”  Now, a pleasant “severely overweight.”  I’ll take it.

Gluttony and Sloth: A Character Assault not Supported by Evidence.

The charges leveled at the overweight and obese are what has risen to epidemic levels.  The media has not helped with de-humanizing reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and the West’s love affair with Jamie Oliver.  It’s as if demonizing the obese is the one society-sanctioned form of discrimination and outright prejudice.  Especially if you consider that many overweight people are not unhealthy and will never have heart disease, diabetes, strokes, or other “weight-related” illnesses.  People immediately attach a roster of negative personality traits to the obese, and it’s really unfair.

I’m nearly finished with “Why we get Fat” by Gary Taubes.   It basically boils down to some truths that I’ve recognized in my own situation. Chiefly, I really didn’t overeat before I started this weight loss program. The total amount of calories I consumed per day was well within a normal range.  How it is I am obese and someone who eats much more is thin has always baffled me.  Additionally, exercise sometimes makes no difference at all on my weight. For example, the ATX100 had a particularly difficult exercise session yesterday.  My fitbit logged nearly 15K steps and 7 miles. When I got on the scale today, I did not lose any weight at all.  That just adds insult to injury (literally, as I’m sore today.)

I’m nearly down 25lbs, but even though I am exercising every day and have cut out essentially all carbs and sugars, the weight is coming off much more slowly now.  It’s always at this point I start to get discouraged.  The more I read about weight loss and these theories, I just get frustrated.  It seems there are very few universal beliefs on weight loss.  I’m inclined to agree with Taubes, however, as his findings do coincide with my personal experience.

Here is a summary from an Amazon reader of Taubes’ myth-busters from one of his earlier books, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” that serves as the foundation of his latest book.

1. The ‘calories in, calories out’ mantra is a myth

2. ‘A calorie is a calorie is a calorie’ is a myth

3. The ‘just eat less and do more exercise to lose weight’ message seems to be logical but is actually wrong and unhelpful

4. Overweight and obese people often eat no more calories, or even less, than their thinner counterparts

5. Low calorie diets also reduce the amount of nutrients in the diet

6. It is a myth that the brain and CNS needs 120 – 130 grams of carbohydrate as fuel in order to function properly, as the body can use fat and protein equally as well, and these fuels are likely the mixture our brains have evolved to prefer.

7. Restricting calories with a low fat/high carb diet just makes you hungrier and more lethargic and slows your metabolic rate. Weight loss is only maintained if the patients stays on a semi-starvation diet forever, which is impossible for most people and also undesirable. Being far more active just makes you far more hungry.

8. It is a myth that reducing calories slightly or increasing activity slightly will lead to weight loss.

9. It is a myth that we evolved through periods of feast and famine to be very good at holding onto fat. Fat gain is due to excessive insulin levels caused by high dietary refined carbohydrate intake. It is a sign of something in the body going wrong, not a healthy adaptation.

10. Fructose is not much better than glucose and the two together may cause more harm than either individually.

11. The idea of a weight ‘set point’ is a myth

12. Insulin is the overall fuel control for mammals. High insulin levels cause the body to store fat and stop the body from using fat as fuel. This means that high carbohydrate foods make you put on more fat, and also leave you still feeling very hungry and unsatisfied.

13. Our bodies have evolved to do best on a diet of plentiful fat and protein (including saturated fat), lots of greens and minimal fruits and starchy vegetables. This diet is the best for health and also for losing weight and stopping weight gain.

14. Dietary fat, including saturated fat, is not a cause of obesity. Refined and easily digestible carbs causing high insulin levels cause obesity.

15. To say that people are overweight due to gluttony and slothfulness is just not correct and it is very unfair. Overeating and a sedentary lifestyle are often CAUSED by eating a high carbohydrate diet! This association has wrongly been interpreted as a cause of weight gain, rather than an effect.

16. Hunger caused by eating a high carbohydrate diet (or excessive exercising while on a low calorie diet) is a very strong physiological drive and should not be thought of something mild and psychological that can be overcome with willpower. This is something serious occurring in the body, not the brain!

Thus psychological ‘treatments’ for obesity are inappropriate and cruel. Most people are overweight due to bad medical advice, NOT a lack of willpower, greed, laziness or because they lack ‘moral fibre’

17. People have different insulin secretory responses. Even if insulin secretion is slightly off, weight gain can occur.

18. Eating large amounts of a high sugar and high fat food like popcorn is easy because the body will not use most of the carbohydrate and fat for immediate fuel but will store much of it as fat – leaving you able to eat a lot of it and still be hungry a short time later as well.

19. Eating foods with a large bulk or high in fibre wont fill you up, you need the correct proportion of macronutrients and will stay hungry until you get them.

20. Those advocating the low calorie and high carb diets for health and weight loss are not involved in legitimate science. These approaches are not supported by the evidence.

That’s all for today.  Just a bit grumpy.

Getting back on the horse

So.  I’m back at it.

I’ve been at peace with my decision over the past two years to live comfortably in my own skin.  I’ve been pretty content and happy.  And contrary to popular opinion as far as obesity goes, I’m healthy too.  Blood pressure is fine, and there is no evidence of diabetes in my blood work.  Everything normal; everything fine.

Yet, there are some things I’d like to do in this world that my weight prevents me from doing.  I will list them in an order that matters most to me.

  • Riding horses
  • Wearing great clothes
  • Presenting to large audiences
  • Traveling
  • Being taken seriously professionally
  • Dating

For various reasons, obesity interferes with all of the above.  I recognize that I am limiting my ability to live more fully and depriving myself of my own enjoyment.  I have no one to blame for this except myself.  And I’m the only one who can get this done.

That said, a friend of mine told me about a program here in Austin launched by hometown hero/runner and entrepreneurial rock star Paul Carrozza.  There are actually two programs, ATX100 and ATX50.  I went to the ATX50 meeting on Saturday, but the lecture was combined with the ATX100 group, and it seems like that one is the more logical choice for me.  The program is a series of lectures, pep talks, exercise, and discounts on a variety of merchandise and health-related programs.   One of their key sponsor partners is MyFitFoods which has retail outlets in several Austin locations.  I signed up for the “21-day Challenge” yesterday too.  It started today and will end on Christmas eve.  Fairly certain if I can make it the 21 days, I’ll be committed enough to continue the program.

Also, just last week I heard about a new startup HealthRally that two of my friends are behind. I’m hoping I can get an early invite, and see if I can crowdsource some support with getting to my “Fifty percent off” by next year this time.

I’ll be posting here about the journey, so I hope you’ll join in the fun.  I’m pretty sure there will be a lot of complaining, but maybe some entertainment too.

The New (Old) Normal

Picture 1

Not exactly sure what the motivation was that struck me to finally reach out for help. I posted an ad on Craigslist with a headline that said, “Fitness/Life Coach: Can you Normal Size Me?” I filed it under the fitness category but explained clearly in the ad that I need much more than a personal trainer. I need someone who can keep me motivated, on track, someone who has more than muscle, but a real heart who can sympathize with the hard work that needs to get done to lose such a massive tonnage of weight.

I received over a dozen responses the first two days. I eventually had to take down the ad. All of the candidates said they could Normal Size me and explained their particular expertise and qualifications for doing so.  But one respondent, only had one word in the first paragraph of her reply. That word was “No.”

She brilliantly crafted an intelligent response to my ad that stated I am the only one who can Normal Size me. Here is the beginning of her reply:

No.

Any individual replying to you saying they can is wrong. There’s not a trainer on the planet who can normal size you. That power is yours and yours alone. You are the one in ultimate control of that end result. You have to have the drive and determination to hang in there on nights where the food is talking to you and you just want to dive in. You have to have the drive to get up and do that workout when everything in you screams to go back to bed. That’s going to come from you. You alone. That’s what’s going to get the weight off AND KEEP IT OFF.

What can a trainer/coach do for you? Give you the tools and support to regain control of your life. You’ve demonstrated that you’re ready by putting up that ad. That’s a huge first step. Most people with a lot of weight to lose never make it that far. So no matter what, congratulations! That is a huge, huge step. Believe it or not, one of the hardest parts is over. Making the decision to make a change is more then half the battle.

Well, she had me at “No.”

I’ve hired Clara to begin a marathon, long-term slow weight loss that will hopefully get me back to my normal self. This normal self, unfortunately, has never left my brain. I’ve been walking around for decades in a state of confusion because my self-image and my RL image are not in sync. As you can see on the pages of this blog, I seem to be unable to take on this Herculean task alone, so the addition of Clara to my life should make the difference.

Clara is not only an intelligent, sensitive, yet tough trainer, she’s a fantastic writer. It’s one of the reasons I hired her. I look forward to chronicling my personal transformation on the pages of this blog, as well as keeping up with how Clara is helping her other clients push toward their goals. You can catch Clara blogging at “The Power to Change,” as well as on the Houston Examiner.

I implore anyone reading this blog to please lend your support in the comments. It’s going to take a village to move this mountain. (It was worth the mixed metaphor.)

Beginning at the beginning

For the past few months, it’s been bothering me that I am grotesquely overweight. Although I don’t have high blood pressure or diabetes or any other indicator that I’m unhealthy (even my cholesterol levels are not terribly unhealthy), the truth remains I am morbidly obese. My BMI is 46 where it should be somewhere around 20 or so. I weigh 285.

As a professional, I spend a lot of time online. I work on the social web, so to speak. It occurred to me that I should try blogging about my journey to reinvent my body shape. When I started researching “fat” blogs, I came across Jennette Fulda’s amazing PastaQueen blog and story. As they say, if she can do it, so can I.

Maybe.

When I went through my divorce, I kept a journal online. It was invaluable to be able to express my emotions, my fears, and ultimately my joy when it was over. The journal was private, however. For this life-changing trek, I see the value in sharing my experience with others who are also struggling and with those who can offer encouragement and advice. It’s a little scary putting it all out there in the public domain, but that’s part of the problem with obesity. We’re afraid to deal with it head on.

So, with that short introduction, I’m beginning my trek. I don’t know where it will take me, how long it will take me, and whether I’ll ever succeed at tackling my obesity, but this is my attempt to begin. For now, I’m going to mask my real identity. I feel badly about that, but the real truth is, I’m ashamed of my weight problem. I’ll be talking a lot more about that in posts to come.