Just tired of being fat

IMG_0312People with whom I share my weight loss journey normally ask me, “Why?”  It’s meant to be a why now, or what happened to make you decide to work on this.  I always give the same answer: “I just got tired of being fat.”

As the pounds disappear (fat literally breathes out of you; look it up), I am enjoying my ability to move easier– to pick things up easier, to fit easier into chairs, to crouch down in a squat to fix a rug corner– all simple things that are suddenly available to me in a smaller size.  Nearly every day there is an affirmation if you pay attention.

That my clothes are fitting better is fabulous. I now have an entire closet that is not out of reach. Even the larger clothes are just loose and baggy, but I can still wear them if I want to.  In other words, I’ve not seriously “undergrown” anything yet. I guess I’ve dropped from a 28 in pants to a 24 maybe?  Not sure.  I’m trying not to buy more large size clothes.

According to my scale, I’ve lost 38 pounds.  That might not be the same as the trainer’s scale or the doctor’s scale, but the weight loss is noticeable now.  People still aren’t saying much, but that’s okay.  My kids can see the difference.  Another 40 pounds, and it will be unmistakeable.  My goal is to get to 240, so I can mount and ride a regular-sized horse.  I don’t know how long that will take.  Maybe 6 months.  Who knows?

Segueing into something a little more uncomfortable, I was hospitalized last week to recover from some traumatic stress related to the work I do.  I’m feeling better now.  Normally, when you’re a patient in a behavioral health facility, the food is abundant and oftentimes great.  That was the case where I was at a prestigious center in Princeton, NJ.  I’m so thankful (today is Thanksgiving) I was able to resist eating a lot of foods high in sugar and/or carbs.  I actually lost a couple pounds in the hospital, and that is nearly unheard of.  So yay, self-discipline.

Here is a milestone photo to show my dear readers (all 3 of you) my progress.  The photo on the left was taken this summer with a friend who visited with me from Montreal while he was here on business.  The one on the right is one taken a few weeks ago.  I can see the difference, can’t you?  The good news is I look happy in both of them.

 

 

I’m really looking forward to making more progress.  As I’ve written before, the fat cells serve as a functional shield, yet they imprison me in a cage I’ve created to protect myself.  So, with vulnerability and a bit of courage, I’m continuing on my path.

Happy Thanksgiving. A holiday that would be better remembered for love, hugs, and family, rather than food. 

I’m especially thankful this holiday for this blog’s readers.  I think I have at least one on this blog.  Let me know if you’re here with a like or comment?

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À Votre Santé!

doctorLike most overweight women, I dread going to a doctor– especially, most especially, a new doctor.

You never know if a doctor is going go treat you like a second-class citizen if you’re obese.  Worse?  They’ll diagnose you fat before they listen to what brought you into the office in the first place. There are some great pieces about this on the Dances with Fat blog.

I scheduled an appointment for a regular check-up with my new doctor here in Florida because I hadn’t had one in a while. To my surprise, I had a wonderful experience.  Not one person– the staff, nurses, or the doctor herself mentioned anything about my weight. Even after I weighed in on the scale. As part of the check-up, the doctor said she wanted to run a series of blood tests, and I complied willingly.

I took the blood tests and made a second appointment. The tests came back terrific.  No problems with cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid. All within the normal range.  The cholesterol could have slightly been better, but nothing to worry about at all. She did note that I had some B-12 issues, and I told her that was hereditary.  I remember my father having issues as he aged.  She was very concerned about this, and we set about to put a program in place to raise my levels.

Never once did she mention my size.

It’s as if I were a “normal” person, which in fact, I am. How refreshing. I will drink to that.

A New Year’s Resolution


In 2014, I’m going to stop caring about being overweight.

I’d like to be thin for the same reasons I outlined in my 2011 post when I kicked off my successful 50-lb weight loss program.  The weight loss was gratifying, but it reminded me of something I’ve learned about in my professional life called the 9x problem.  At 50 pounds down, I was feeling better, but my life was definitely not 9x better.  For all the effort and obsession I put into losing weight, I started questioning why I was doing it.

Recall, I am not unhealthy.  Blood pressure always normal, no signs of diabetes or history in the family, no heart problems, etc.  I just checked my year-end records, and I did not go to the doctor once this year for any health-related issue.  I’m in that 30% class of people obese, but metabolically healthy.  I know that just irritates everyone, but that’s the way it is.  Obviously, if something cropped up where my health was affected, I’d address the issue.

At 54 years old, I’m pretty sure my body has decided it wants to stay this way.  So, this blog will lie dormant until sometime (maybe, maybe not) I get motivated to “get back on the horse.”

Happy 2014.

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Back at it!

green2vegasSo, these are two photos I took last year and sent to my daughter to show her how I was progressing.  I remember at the time, especially the photo on the left, I was disappointed because I still thought I looked larger than I felt.  Eventually, around the time of the last post on this blog (well over a year ago), I gave up trying to lose weight out of frustration.

And now, I’ve gained 30 pounds back.

There you have it.  Yo meet Yo.

Yesterday, I signed up for Weight Watchers.  I had a lot of success doing this on my own, but I thought this time around it might be better to be surrounded by people who are struggling (succeeding and failing) like I am.  So, not sure what to expect, but it is a first step in the right direction.  I’m generally not a “joiner,” but figured the weekly commitment and lectures add some forced discipline too. Everything is still the same – would like to lose weight for reasons important to me, unrelated to health issues and well, morbidity.   I found out last week that I was selected among 5 women who will be featured in a national women’s magazine next fall.  That is as good an excuse as any to get back on track and work (again) toward becoming the woman I want to be.

So, here we go.  As usual, I’ll be chronicling what I’m learning and doing.  It will be nice to hear your comments and encouragement.  Hope you’ll hang in there with me.

Introspection on My Own Obesity

I’m squeezed into 1A here on a JetBlue flight Orlando-bound to visit with my daughter’s family for a few days.  I hit another milestone today.  I was able to get into this seat and fasten the seatbelt.  Something so simple that millions of travelers do every day was not available to me.  I used to bring a seat belt extender on all my flights.  Once in my seat, I would discreetly snap it together before the seats filled up around me.  I always tried to make sure I was one of the first in my section to board for this reason.  Everyone dislikes overweight seat partners.  I know this.

As I have been sitting here, I was thumbing through Texas Monthly and noticed something else.  I’ve been paying particular attention to fashion, jewelry, and hairstyles.  Now, I secretly think Pinterest is to blame for my sudden interest in all things girlish, but it did catch me by surprise.  Now that I’m on a path toward losing my weight, I’m feeling the powerful magnet pull of my inner femininity.   This is something very different and very welcome.

Thinking of how life is changing for me, reverting me back to my youthful image-conscious self, I started contemplating why I allowed myself to stay obese.  As I’ve explained before, a pharmaceutical drug put a hundred pounds on me very quickly in the 90s.  It was around the time I met my ex-husband (1995) that I was really beginning to put on the pounds.  He didn’t care about my weight and was always very complimentary about my looks, so I didn’t really care about the weight gain as we wound into our ten-year marriage.

But there was more to it than the malaise that sometimes comes with marriage.  For me, the weight was protection.  The layers insulated me from physical abuse in my subconscious mind – abuse from my past that I’ve begun to discuss on my personal blog.  I know it sounds weird, but I’ve been aware of this for a long while.  It’s as if I couldn’t be bruised or broken if I were, well, larger.  Further, after my marriage ended, the extra weight served as “male repellent.”  I tried dating and had lost some weight right around the time of my divorce, but I was still in love with my ex-husband and was unable to seriously consider a new relationship.  A decision I regret, but it was an unavoidable consequence resulting from the disintegration of our family.  After that initial stint, I was not interested in dating at all.  Obesity is the best way I know to not attract a new partner.  I regained those pounds and more, leading up to tipping the scales at 300 at the end of last year.  This was the wake-up call I needed.  I realized I was limiting my own happiness and decided to shed the toxicity that surrounded me – body and soul.

This post is more serious than my usual posts on this blog, but I have wanted to convey that there are complex psychological reasons why individuals stay obese.  Each individual has to deal with his or her own personal demons and should exist in a judgment-free zone.  I will always support an individual’s free choice to reject the societal pressure to conform to a commercial ideal of beauty.   For me, losing my weight is going to afford me the chance to live again.  Rather than dying slowly from the outside in, suffocating under the weight of my own insecurity and mental battle scars.

Lawdy, Lawdy, I’m Doing This!

Getting your mind and body disciplined to lose weight is a lot like learning to ride a bike, I think.  At first you’re wobbly, insecure, easily thinking, “I can’t do this!”  But, with a lot of encouragement and the will to keep going, you start riding on your own!  That feeling of, “I’m doing it!  I’m riding a bike by myself!”  is pure elation.  Even if you need training wheels to get started, that liberating feeling when you’re cruising down the street on your own is pure joy.

So, I am starting to ride free of training wheels.  My mind is locked onto getting to my goal weight, and my body is responding to the physical training I’ve put myself through.  I signed up for a TEAM weight loss program at my gym and am really enjoying it.  OH, it’s not easy, but that’s part of the fun. I actually jogged yesterday on the treadmill and was not out of breath or had any chest pains.  Like a miracle, really.

Another good analogy:  exercise is like marital sex (for women, I guess).  You kinda don’t want to do it (nag, nag, nag), but when you’re done, you say to yourself, “Jeez, why don’t I every want to do this???”  No more explanation needed. 🙂

In the spirit of massively greater transparency this year in 2012, I’m going to start posting my weight so anyone who’s interested can track with me.  I started at 300 (count ’em!!) pounds.  I have had some rocky loop-de-loops, but am progressively moving toward my goal weight which is around 160.  So, even though I’ve lost a lot by most people’s standards, I still have a long way to go.  Stay with me!

I invested in a Withings scale.  Highly recommended.  Already finding some interesting data points. For instance, I weighed more after I came back from the gym, but my total fat percentage was lower.  Cool!

Here’s where we are today:

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.