Thursday, November 30, 2006

Enough is Enough

Enough is enough, now. I've been Miss Half-Assed all week with my eating, and the time has come to straighten up and fly right!

Okay, now that I've gotten that outburst out of the way, can I tell you how much better I've done today? Mainly in my attitude; I'm starting to wean myself off of the "what forbidden goodies am I going to eat today" thoughts and getting back to my healthier mind set. I don't think I'll ever stop thinking about food, but if I can obsess on getting the right balance of protein vs. carbs, getting the recommended amounts of fruits and/or vegetables and keeping myself properly hydrated, it reduces the time I can think about what fatty, sugary drug-like foods I can seek out and consume.

I just came back from my haircut, and my stylist was really gushing about how much weight I've lost and how much smaller my butt looks! I find this funny, because I really don't think I've lost that much the last two months, and today I'm still carrying around a considerable amount of bloat. But apparently I'm looking thinner, so maybe I'm getting more toned.

The last couple weeks I've implemented the balance ball into my morning exercise routine. I bought the thing months ago, but almost simultaneously my Summer o' Neck Pain began and I left the thing go until I was recovered from my surgery. I still have a little problem with the abdominal crunches (I'm half tempted to put on my neck brace for this part to try to force my abs to take the brunt of this exercise instead of my neck and shoulders), but otherwise it's going well. I definitely felt sore the first few days I used it, because it had been months since I targeted my abs and butt, and I think the claims that the ball helps you tone your "core" are true. I can see why some people use the balls for their office/computer chair, because all that balancing would have to have some kind of effect.

I've also started adding on to my arms/shoulder work. I've got a whole routine of stretches and resistance-band exercises I learned in physical therapy that I do five days a week, and now I'm adding on some dumbell reps to it about three days a week.

I've always focused on the lower body exercising because I lean towards the pear-shaped body type, but at the same time I've always felt that my upper body strength isn't what I'd like it to be. This is very subjective, however. Both my husband and my physical therapist are actually quite impressed with my upper body strength, but I've got a 63 year-old mother who still throws bales of hay and carries around 50-pound bags of animal feed daily.

WAY back in the very beginning of my self-improvement journey I joined a guy's gym (not a Curves or girls-only gym) and the manager gave me a great routine of exercises to do with the weight machines and free weights. I was astounded at the biceps, triceps and forearm muscles that began popping out of my flab. While I've tried to keep up some kind of upper-body workout, I haven't been able to recreate that "woah" feeling again.

However...the other day I took a sideways glance at myself in the mirror and was shocked at what I saw. While the lower part of my upper arm is forever saddled with loose skin and some lingering flab, the shoulder and upper section of the arm looked surprisingly lean and toned. And a few days ago I was on the exercise ball getting ready to do my obliques, which involves crossing my arms across my chest. As I came up in my crunch, my hand had hold of some seriously developed pecs!

Is it just me, or is my mood improving? I'm a little torn about the specific reason why: detoxing from the eating fest, the end of PMS? Or maybe it's the fact that I got a new full spectrum light for my office (for a fantastic price at Big Lots!) and have been leaving it on for 4-5 hours in the beginning of the work day. Whatever the cause, I'm glad it's happening, because I'm feeling more optimistic that I can finish this year weighing less than I did last year.

Still not sure if I'll be able to fully "liquidate" in time for Saturday's weigh-in. It is just a number, after all; what really matters is keeping up the healthy behaviors.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Struggle Continues

Despite the fact that I didn't think I did well yesterday, I had another nice plunge on the scale this morning, so the post-holiday de-bloating continues. A major factor in this situation is that during the eating days I was in PMS mode, when I absorb fluids better than the world's best sponge. This morning began the TOTM, when I typically lose this water retention. This is a monthly thing no matter what I eat.

Why don't I think I did well?
1. My daughter wanted to go to Wendy's for lunch, and instead of ordering a salad or chili, I got the jalapeno cheddar melt sandwich I saw on TV and have been coveting
2. I snacked on danger foods in the afternoon-- mainly, nuts. And I had much more than I should have.
3. At supper I didn't measure anything, ate full fat salad dressing and 1.5 pieces of garlic bread

In my defense, here's the things I did right:
1. I exercised
2. Ate a healthy breakfast and morning snack
3. At Wendy's I opted for the 1/4 pound burger instead of the 1/2 pound, I passed on the french fries and drank water
4. I realized the nuts were driving me into a binge situation, and I forced myself to stop before it went too far. I put the nuts in a high, hard-to-reach, out of sight location and told myself "no more". I drank a big glass of water to try to flush out the salt from the nuts and went on with my day.
5. Although I didn't measure my supper, without even thinking about it I cut the steak in half and left the rest on the serving plate. Although I did eat the garlic bread, the meal mainly consisted of veggies: salad, asparagus, and roasted winter veggies (onion, carrot and rutabaga!).

Last night I took my daughter up for her bath. After brushing my teeth (which always announces to me that eating is done for the day) I found my old journal from last year and looked and those holiday entries. It's funny how similar my life is: I try to prevent overeating, do it anyway, then climb back on the horse and keep on riding. I do tend to have some doubts that I can get back on track, but as long as I rough it out I have managed to keep going. While it was a little discouraging to see that I seem to repeat the same mistakes, it was encouraging that I do have a record of eventual success.

While I would have liked to have been the epitome of model behavior since Monday, at least I'm slowly moving back towards my healthy habits as the week progresses. Yes, I'm struggling, but at least there is a struggle going on instead of complete surrender to the cravings and the urges. And as long as I don't give up, I'll still have a chance of reaching my goals.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Transition

Back to work today, and so far I'm back to the "old" routine: exercised for an hour this morning, ate my usual breakfast (Egg Beaters, soy cheese and low-cal wheat bread), and drinking lots of water. I'm already starting to feel better!

Yesterday was supposed to be my first day back on track, but it was more of a transition day. I didn't sit and eat all day until I foundered myself because I was too busy, but I didn't make the healthiest food choices, either. I was definitely active, though: I packed and lifted boxes all day long, in addition to putting up our Christmas tree. I know, it seems crazy to be putting up decorations when I'm trying to pack to move, but I just can't go without a tree and our stockings hanging on the mantle with an 8 year-old in the house. Besides,looking at the tree last night cheered the 8 year-old in me, too. Now to make sure I don't start craving Christmas cookies to go along with the tree!

Even though I wasn't stellar in my eating yesterday, I already saw some improvement on the scale this morning. The Post-Holiday De-Bloating has begun, thank goodness!
My wedding ring has become my water retention barometer, and today it's getting looser as I travel back and forth to the bathroom to expel the fluids I've absorbed.

A few minutes ago a lady stopped by and gave me a gift as a thank you for all the help I gave her and her family for her grandson's baptism yesterday (I'm a church secretary, if I haven't mentioned it before). I told her it wasn't necessary, but she insisted, so I accepted it with gratitude. It was a copy of the book "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential" by Joel Osteen. After glancing through the sleeve summary, I figure it couldn't hurt to check it out. Goodness knows I'd like to reach my full potential! Who wouldn't?

Here's the 7 Steps:
One: Enlarge your vision
Two: Develop a healthy self-image
Three: Discover the power of your thoughts and words
Four: Let go of the past
Five: Find strength through adversity
Six: Live to give
Seven: Choose to be happy

Doesn't sound too bad. I'll let you know what I think of it.

There's a part of me that dreads this week's weigh-in because I don't know if I can get back to my pre-holiday weight by Saturday. I feel like I've let my blog readers down by my holiday indulgences. While the accountability aspect was what drew me to starting a blog, I have to realize that the people reading it are not in some position of authority over me. The rational part of me says that I'm not here to please some people on the Internet; I'm not being graded on my performance; I won't get fired if I've gained a pound or two over Thanksgiving. I won't be fined late fees if I don't reach 200 pounds by December 31. But it's hard to break that "need to please" mentality. As an adult I've figured out that trying to be perfect will not get me love and acceptance from others, but it's still hard to break those habits we form in childhood.

So bear with me as I pick up the pieces from this past weekend. I've never really had an audience before, so it's a whole new experience for me. I do appreciate everyone's caring words and advice.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Homeward Through the Haze

First rain of winter
First fall from grace
It's my first hollow echo
In the halls of praise
How could Samson
I thought he was blind as a bat
How cold he have torn down
The temples like that
And how could little Caesar
How could he know where of he spoke
When all of his wheels are turning him into a joke

Cause the blind are leading the blind
And I am amazed at how they stumble
Homeward through the haze

Got the soul of a ragpicker
Got the mind of a slug
I keep sweeping problems
Under my rug
And all of my fine
My fine fair weather friends,
Yeah, Will have no more time
To make their amends

Cause the blind are leading the blind
And I am amazed at how they stumble
Homeward through the haze
[words and music by David Crosby├é© 1975 Staysail Music (BMI)]

That's me. Crawling back through the fog of the past five days. Feeling a little bloated, a little foolish, a little remorseful.

"Am I ever going to learn to not do this to myself?" I asked my husband and my mother. They didn't really have an answer for me.

I know a lot of it has to do with the Feast or Famine, Diet and Binge mentality. "If I'm eating, eat it ALL. NOW."

There are a lot of books out there that preach the "no diet" mentality, saying it stops this vicious cycle of restriction and the rebounding overconsumption. One of these days I really have to pursue that method, because I worry about the future and gaining all my weight back. I can't be on a diet forever. I know the biggest challenge won't be getting to a goal weight; it'll be maintaining it.

So here I am, Monday morning. A new week, a chance to put the past behind me and get on with the tasks I've set for myself. I'm still off work (around here deer hunting season is a crucially important holiday, and the schools are closed Monday and Tuesday due to an unused snow day), but I've told myself the bingeing stops. My plan for the day is to hit the packing hard; I've got less than a month now until moving week, so it's time to get serious.

Fortunately the Christmas shopping is pretty much done, so I'm free to get cracking on this. Yesterday as I walked through the kitchen, I thought, "Wow, I won't have any time this year to make Christmas cookies... GOOD." Although I have the feeling Hubby will make the time, I'm going to devote myself to the move and steer clear of the gingerbread men and the Sand Tarts (a cinnamon-sugar covered shortbread type cookie that is a Christmas must in my German-American family). It won't be the end of the world if I forgo this one year.

I can't guarantee I won't repeat this Thanksgiving weekend's mistakes over Christmas. But I know I can keep myself from making it one big, month-long binge. I couldn't have said this a few years ago. So I know there's been some progress.

I can tell you one thing: I'm actually looking forward to not overeating; that's definitely another change I've experienced since this weight loss journey started. I've learned that I feel better when I'm eating right and exercising. I just wish I could learn not to let myself get so far off track. Maybe one of these days that Food Haze will be a thing of the past.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Chasing the Turkey

My friend sends me wacky antique cards via email for all the major holidays. Today he asked for a possible caption for this lovely specimen, and my demented reply was:
"Here, turkey turkey turkey! Come to my shiny knife! I'll eat your meat and wear your feathers, for I have no clothes!"

But after seeing this picture I've been imagining myself in the place of the knife-wielding, loincloth-wearing cherub, chasing down the Thanksgiving bounty. That's definitely how I'm feeling this week, as I'm circling in on all the holiday foods coming my way.

I don't want to say I'm giving up this week: I'm still exercising, still eating healthy breakfasts, etc. But I know there's no way I'm losing weight this week. I've got the dinner I'm hosting on Thursday, and then my in-laws are having another one Saturday. Two days of huge meals, and let's not forget the leftovers.

Is it acceptable to say I'm giving myself a "by week" like a football team? It's when a team has a week off, or they're "passing by" that week. It's a little time off to rest and it gives any injured players some time to recuperate. But the team knows that the following week they're heading back to the field to battle another opponent, so they can't get complacent and they have to keep the next game in the back of their minds the whole time.

For me, it means I'll loosen the tight reins I've had on my eating, but not let go entirely. Because come Monday it's back to the Routine (sounds much better than the Diet, I think), so my days of R&R will have a definite expiration. Because I've got another weigh in day right around the corner.

I did this last year and it worked well. I think my eating days may have even extended to an entire week, but as I've mentioned before (and if I mention it too often please tell me I'm getting annoying), I managed to lose 50 pounds last fall, so apparently my plan worked.

I may slow down my weight loss a little, but better to take an extra week than to go mad like the cherub above and chase my food high until St. Patrick's Day. Of course, by then I'd be panting and wheezing from the extra 40 pounds I packed back on!

I'm not sure how much I'll be online the next four to five days, so I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. My wish for myself and anyone reading is to enjoy the time with your loved ones, relish a good meal, and avoid as much guilt, dysfunction and bloating as possible!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Darn

I didn't post last night because I was darning socks. The sock I was wearing sprung a hole at the big toe (guess my toenail rubbed against it from all the walking I did shopping yesterday), plus I had two "holy" socks waiting to be repaired on top of my dresser. SO I sat down with my needle, thread in matching colors and sat down with Hubby to watch the end of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." I'm a big HP fan, and I'm hoping he doesn't meet his demise in Rowling's last novel in the series.

The other reason I didn't post was because I was not only darning socks, but "darning" myself, too. My Weekend Game Plan didn't go so well.

Darn.

In my defense, both days started okay. I didn't exercise on my treadmill or gym, but I did wind up spending a good bit of my time both afternoons walking around stores shopping for a new bedroom suit for my daughter. We finally found one Sunday afternoon that has a great space-saving design, and best of all to her, bunk beds. My breakfasts and lunches were within my usual calorie range and I was fine with that.

Another victory on both days was that even though I was having a serious case of the "I wanna' eats," when we were in stores with tempting binge foods I decided it wasn't worth it and didn't buy anything. On Saturday I went to the grocery store, needing Thanksgiving dinner ingredients, and I told myself that if I saw one thing that really whetted my appetite, I'd "treat" myself. But amazingly, when given permission, I didn't see anything that seemed good enough and left with only the items I needed. I was sort of shocked but a little proud of myself.

On Sunday I even went to the bakery section of Wal-Mart, looking for my favorite cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing. There were none left in the "pick your own" cases, and the only ones they had were in packages of four. I knew I didn't want four, because I knew my compulsive brain would think I needed to eat all four. And since that was the only thing I was craving, I didn't settle for something else in the case and walked away. While I felt bad for having "lustful thoughts," I was glad that I kept myself from committing the actual sin.

However, it seems the urges to eat this past week caught up with me when it came to the evenings. Saturday was our trip to the big city; that night was dinner at the Japanese steak house, and I couldn't resist getting sushi. I adore sushi, but living in the boonies I only get near a place that offers the real thing maybe once or twice a year (those plastic-looking, technicolor pieces of rice and seaweed on the local Chinese buffets just don't cut it). So I definitely indulged on a big old plate of my favorite selections. While I've eaten much more in the past, I definitely am not used to having that much rice in my belly, and I could really feel it. However, that stop me from attacking a bunch of cookies later that evening. Again, these were cookies that were bought in the city that we only get to maybe once a year, so it was another one of those rare indulgences.

Unfortunately, Sunday night doesn't have the "I don't get this often" excuse. I admit it came down to weakness and being tired of fighting off my urges all week. When Hubby asked if we could do his favorite pizzeria for dinner, I didn't argue, and when we got there I didn't even bother to scour the menu for something healthy. I just went with what I was hungry for, and I got it -- pizza. Regular crust, regular cheese, but I did go for veggies because they've always been my preferred topping.

The final straw? I got home and made a beeline for the ice cream. This is ice cream that's been sitting in my freezer for a long time, and while I had some random thoughts about it, last night was the first time I knew some of it was going into my gullet. Was it a binge? In some ways yes, and some ways, no. I was a little sneaky about it, finding a private place in the house to eat it so I wouldn't be disturbed. And the serving I gave myself was fairly large. But I did limit myself to one bowl, stuck the rest of the carton into the deepest recesses of our upright freezer in the garage and had no desire to touch it again.

Darn. I sure wish I had done a better job sticking to my plan this weekend. In some areas I did, but in the end I definitely ate more than I originally intended. The good news is I'm back to the same old routine today; just completed my hour of exercise and planning my healthy food for the day.

Last night as we lay in bed I turned to my husband and said, "Can I ask you what's probably going to sound like a crazy question to you?...When I eat like that, do you think less of me?"

I didn't get the reaction I expected. "This may sound strange, but I actually enjoying watching you eat."

"Why?"

"Because you seem happy. When you're eating less and letting yourself go hungry, you get kind of... pissy. Tonight after we ate you've been laughing and in a good mood, and I like to see that."

I was shocked. A moment passed and he asked, "What do you think about what I said?"

"It makes me kind of sad," I admitted. "I wish I could find something else that makes me happy."

He then said that of course I had other non-food moments of happiness, but I'm still kind of haunted by his observation. I feel bad that when I'm trying to do what I think is for my happiness (losing weight, changing my eating habits), I'm actually making myself and those around me less happy.

Darn.

The truth is this is hard work, exhausting work, and a lot of the time it isn't very fun. But something tells me in the end it will be worth it. And that when I reach a weight I'm content with -- maybe not estactically happy, but one I can live with -- I hope I can find some level of comfort and balance with food. I don't think that place is too far away, hopefully within the coming year.
And when it comes I sure hope I can be a happier person, not only for Hubby, but especially for myself.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Week Seven Weigh In

Thanks, Vickie, for the comment and included text on depression. You hit the nail right on the head.

I have been battling low to moderate levels of depression since I was a teenager. I've got a family history of mental "challenges": I have close relatives with bipolar disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, not to mention some alcoholism. So the genetics are there. Add that to being a chubby kid in the age of "thin is in," and watch the problems ensue.

I got to watch the last half of HBO's documentary Thin yesterday afternoon. Towards the end one girl was being forced to leave the eating disorder facility and just lost it, crying to her doctors and friends that she was sick of being the fat girl in school, that all she wanted in life was to be thin, and she wished she was dead. If you had taken a mental snapshot of me as a teenager, it wouldn't have been much different than this girl's, other than the fact that she's anorexic and I was fat. The two opposite ends of the same dilemma.

The most depressing part had to be the very end, when they gave a short synopsis of each of the patients they highlighted. All of them continued to struggle with their anorexia and bulimia once they left the facility; there was definitely no miraculous cure. It made me think about the standard statistical quote that 95% of all dieters fail and gain the weight back (although I read recently that the number has now increased to around 20%, which is still a big fat F in any teacher's grade book). The fact is, it's very, very hard for people to change their ingrained behaviors. Once they've found something that gives them comfort or some level of control, it's hard for our brains to give that up. We are creatures of habit, after all.

Anyway, back to the depression note I started on. For years it's been my habit to get depressed and gain weight during the winter. Call is Seasonal Affective Disorder Depression, call it the post-holiday blues, but between December and March I can easily pack on a lot of pounds and lose all lust for life -- except for eating, of course.

Last year my mother got me an early Christmas present -- a light therapy box that provides full spectrum light which mimics natural sunlight. Last fall I used it for an hour each morning while I exercised, and I definitely contribute its use as a factor in my ability to not only lose 50 pounds from September to December, but more importantly, my accomplishment of maintaining that loss the rest of the winter.

I've got a slight dilemma on my hands right now: when we move next month (eek! next month? no way!!!) I will be losing my cozy comfy gym room that's attached to our garage. We have plans to recreate this room in our new basement, but it's going to take some time and work. I can always find alternative methods for the workout -- there's the gym I used to go to that's right down the street. But I can't drag my "happy light" there with me without people thinking I'm a little odd. And I just don't have an hour to spare in my early morning routine to sit in front of the light -- I'm getting myself and daughter ready for our day, and it involves running all over the house.

One possible solution is taking the lamp to work. I work alone in a little office which officially opens to the public at 9, but I always go there at 8 to get settled in before the world comes rushing in. If I ran the light from 8 to 9, it wouldn't bother another living soul.

And, come to think of it, I remember last spring wondering if I shouldn't increase my light levels the following year, because towards the end of winter I was still feeling some of the SADD affects. So maybe "turning on" at work and doing it for 1.5 or even two hours might even be better. Stay tuned and I'll let you know what happens.

ANYWAY, you're all probably thinking, "Would she get on with the stinkin' weigh-in already!" So here goes: this morning I'm happy to announce I'm at 216.5, another 1.5 pound loss, for a total of 16.5 pounds gone since the beginning of October. I have to admit in the larger perspective, 16.5 is pretty nice to look at and admire. And it means I only have another 16.5 to go to reach 200! And then, look out Onederfuls!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Teaching an Old Dog Some New Tricks

Today is my 40th post -- does that mean I'm approaching middle age? If so, this past week has definitely found me in a mid-life crisis.

I'm just so overwhelmed. It's a busy time at home and work anyway this time of year, and now with all of this house stuff, it makes me feel like I'm getting ready to be swept downstream. I just don't feel like I'm keeping up with anything; probably because I don't know where to begin.

And all of this is really giving me the urges to eat. This afternoon I'm pacing the house, trying to clean up a little here, pack a little there, but I keep drifting off course and getting distracted by this gnawing in my stomach and this revving in my brain. I'm definitely feeling like a caged animal; if I break loose, however, I'm more likely to attack a carton of ice cream than a human.

There's this voice inside of me that's practically begging me to feed it; to soothe the anxieties, to calm my mind and fill my belly. It's an old voice, probably been there most of my life, and it's always been hard to resist her demands.

But there's this other voice now, the new kid on the block, but she'd holding her own with the old timer. She's equally insistent that I don't escape into food; she's pleading with me not to give up and toss away all the hard work I've done. The old voice, like a big St. Bernard, has no intentions of moving and keeps trying to swat away the little Jack Russel terrier that won't leave it alone. But my little terrier, she's a tenacious, stubborn little dog, and she won't back down.

It's hard to get the housework done when you're having a dog fight in your head! I want to eat but I don't want to eat, either. I wish I could turn a hose on these quarreling voices and break them up, but I'm also afraid that if I try to quell this argument, the new voice will give up and go away.

Okay, enough analytical metaphorical gobbledygook. Let's get down to basics, and the Weekend Game Plan.

Saturday night we have to take Hubby's parents out for dinner for their anniversary. Like I've said before, we have to celebrate everything with food in this family, and I don't see any escaping it. Anyway, I have no idea where we're going, so I'm feeling pretty unsure about this impending meal. I don't know if it'll be a buffet or a sit down meal, or if it will be seafood or Italian or something totally different. Unfortunately all I can do is make the best choices I can and try to get in one of those stubborn frames of mind: i.e., "I'll succeed despite all your attempts at sabotaging me!" It can be a bit of an elitist, "I'm better than you" kind of mindset, but sometimes a little attitude of superiority is what it takes to survive when everyone around you is shoveling in their cheesy, creamy, crispy, buttery delights while you're chewing on your salad or steamed veggies.

Despite this one big hazard, the rest of the weekend looks pretty safe. I don't think there are any other meals or events we need to attend. So the rest of the weekend I'm going to try to keep up my weekday food routines as much as possible. Because before you know it, it'll be Thanksgiving, and I'm trying to go into it with as much momentum as possible.

It would be wonderful to wake up Thanksgiving morning at 215 or even lower. But once again, I'm very leery of what tomorrow's weigh in will be. I've done my very best with food and exercise this week, but I haven't seen much movement at all on the scale. Like I said last week, I may just been in a "slow down" period right now (I dread writing down the dreaded P word, which rhymes with chateau). If that's the case, I'm going to just have to put on a pair of blinders and push on through it. There really isn't any other alternative to me.

But, if memory serves me right (sorry, it's a line from the Japanese version of "Iron Chef" that always makes me laugh), last fall when I knocked off 50 pounds(!) between Labor Day and New Year's Eve, my months had a similar trend-- two weeks a month I would lose very slowly, and the other two weeks I'd lose more. Putting it in that perspective, I don't feel so bad, because that means there's good news on the horizon. I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What I Really, Really Want

I'm so glad last evening is a thing of the past. I hate it when I get in one of those moods. It was basically a big pity party and it's annoying and tiresome, along with emotionally draining.

It was tough, though. After I signed off here it was dinner time. I got fish out for Hubby to cook, and he did it two ways: baked in salsa for me, and breaded and deep fried for him and Mabel. He made green beans for the vegetable, then took our left over pasta from the night before and covered it in some kind of Alfredo sauce (I will note for the record he made the sauce with fat free half and half, but I still didn't want all the calories from the pasta).

Coming from the mood I was already in, it was so hard watching them chow down on their deep fried, creamy food while I looked at my low fat, carb free meal. I remember being on the edge of tears, thinking, "It's so unfair. Why can't I eat whatever they want like they are?"

But just as fast, another voice in my head said, "You know that's not true." My daughter doesn't eat whatever she wants; if she had her way she'd be sitting in front of a bag of Doritos and a can of soda. Her parents put the food on her plate, and that night she had a nice balance of protein, vegetable, dairy and carbohydrates. And there's no point comparing myself with my daughter: she's Asian, has a slim body type, eats small portions and is in constant motion. I joke that she has the metabolism of a small rodent, but the truth is her body is a very efficient machine. She doesn't eat to excess and burns calories well.

Then there's my husband. He pretty much eats what he wants, but there are consequences: he's on blood pressure medication, his cholesterol and triglycerides are above normal, and this fall he had to go out and buy new pants for work because the old ones got too tight. So he doesn't really eat whatever he wants, not without paying a price.

And let's face it: if I really didn't want to eat my meal, I had every right to push it away and pick out something else. It was in my power to grab a piece or two of the fried fish, scoop up a pile of the noodles and fill my belly. But I made a choice; clearly I did want that food, because I knew in the long run it was best for me. I chose to eat it, and it tasted very good.

Those realizations seemed to turn the tide for me, and as the evening went on I slowly felt better. I managed to end the night in my usual calorie range and didn't go to bed hungry. And most importantly, I wasn't feeling resentful about what I "couldn't" eat, or anxious about what I wanted to eat.

Tonight we're going out for supper because we're on a hunt for nice colors of paint for our new house. I asked Hubby if he would mind going to Pizza Hut -- I really like their new Fit 'n Delicious pizza and can feel guilt-free about eating one of my favorite foods. So knowing I'll get to eat what I "want" will hopefully give me a brighter outlook for the day.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

There But For the Grace of God

Just got done looking at the grocery store fliers. Around here the new sale week begins on Thursday at most of the big supermarkets, so all the weekly special fliers come in the paper today.

Of course, everything is geared to Thanksgiving. All the fixin's you need to make your big meal are on sale: turkeys, potatoes, ingredients for stuffing, pies, you name it.

Can you get an anxiety attack from supermarket fliers? I had to put them down and walk away because I felt overwhelmed by the urge to go out, get a tube of crescent rolls and eat them all, slathered with lots of butter. Oh, and don't forget a deep dish apple cranberry pie for dessert.

Ugh. I hate these moments. Those times when I long for certain foods, when the desire to eat with no limits takes over my mind. I know now from experience if I can find ways to distract myself, to let myself calm down, these thoughts will crawl back into the dark crevices of my mind. But they never entirely go away; I still see their beady red eyes staring at me from those murky places.

Last night I caught about half of the HBO documentary "Thin." It's about the patients of an eating disorder clinic and their battles with anorexia and bulimia. While I've never been hospitalized for my eating issues and have never dealt with health issues as serious as theirs, I could really relate to a lot of their feelings. Their need to purge or starve themselves is not that far removed from my need to eat; all three give the person a feeling of release and comfort while they're being performed. It's taking control of one's body (albeit in an unhealthy manner) when everything around them seems so out of control or out of their control. And even when they know they're causing damage to themselves, they can't seem to stop the behavior and will turn to it in an almost rebellious nature when someone is trying to help them -- I've sure been in that mindset in my life.

I guess the most disturbing part for me was seeing the similarities between these women and myself when I'm in my weight loss mode. When they had to sit down for meals they didn't see the food as sustenance to fuel their bodies; they looked at the food in horror, fretting over the fat grams, the carbs and the calories. In their eyes food is the enemy. How many days do I do the same thing? Not all the time, but often enough, especially at parties or restaurants.

I could try to make myself feel superior and say I'm smartier or healthier than them: I work hard to get a good balance of protein, calcium and other nutrients my body needs. I know that going below a certain calorie limit is dangerous and don't go lower than that on my daily totals.

But in reality, "there but for the grace of God go I." I know in my teen years I flirted with becoming one of these girls; I had my anorexic moments when my goal was to eat less than 800 calories a day, and a very short period where I almost became bulimic but got halted by dehydration and a hospital stay. I suppose there were two things that saved me from permanent problems: one, I weighed so much it would have taken me a long time to become underweight, and two, there was still a part of me that knew I needed help, and at that time I started my long association with the psychiatric community.

And let's not forget the basic fact that I love food so damn much. It can never be my enemy for long. I can only play hard to get for a short time, until the tastes, the aroma, the allure of food pulls me back into its sweet embrace.

What a strange, disturbing post today. I apologize to anyone reading who thinks I've gone off the deep end. I'm doing my best to process these thoughts and in doing so get them out of my head. I'm in stubborn mode right now; I refuse to let these anxieties and old feelings wreck the good work I've done. I'm going to go eat my fish and green beans and forget about the Pillsbury Dough Boy for today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Things I Do For My Daughter

This week is American Education Week. As part of this event, parents were invited to eat breakfast with our children. I looked at the cafeteria menu last week and cringed: waffles, sausage, syrup and milk or juice. Not exactly on my food plan. But Mabel really wanted me to go, so I sent in the $1.25 for my ticket.

Would you believe I forgot all about it? Over the weekend I never looked in my daughter's school folder, where the ticket I bought was waiting for me. The kids didn't have school yesterday, so there was no reminder from the teacher about it.

I dropped Mabel off at the bus stop and went to work as I usually do at 8 a.m. I usually never leave the office until later in the day, but this morning I decided to go to the post office. When I returned there was a message on the machine from the school secretary asking if I might have forgotten about breakfast, and that Mabel was waiting for me.

I rushed out the door, leapt into my car and whizzed out to the school. I invented my own parking space since it was full, and then I ran to the school building. No, you read that correctly, I RAN.

Running has never been in my vocabulary. At the age of 8 I was diagnosed with allergies and asthma, and two years later I dislocated my knee for the first time, and since then running has been a no-go area. In school, gym class was fine as long as it was a relatively stationary sport, like volleyball, bowling or archery. Basketball? Yeah, right. In 6th grade I was attempting to dribble and run with the basketball and proceeded to viciously dislocate the old knee and was taken by ambulance to the hospital because it didn't want to go back in place. I'll never forget it; my knee looked like a square shape and couldn't bend.

But today I ran. And when I walked in the door I wasn't wheezing and out of breath; my knees felt fine. By God, I felt like a normal person; or even better, a person in shape!

I proceeded to power walk down to Mabel's classroom, where she was coloring a picture of a turkey. I could see she had been crying, and boy did the guilt meter go off the charts! I told her we better get down to the cafeteria, and on the way I could see her mood lift, the pep in her step increase. And fortunately, we weren't horribly late; in fact, some parents showed up after me, so that made me feel a little better.

Once we got up to the food I tried to get the cafeteria lady to only give me one waffle instead of two. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "You paid for two, you might as well take them!" So I did, in addition to my little sausage patty and tiny plastic cup of syrup. I threw a small 1% white milk on my tray, too, and followed Mabel to the table where her best friend was sitting. By this time her unhappiness over me being late was gone and she was thrilled to be with her friend.

I took one bite of the waffle, and it was awful (hee hee, awful waffle!). I discreetly spit the bite out and tucked it under the rest of the waffles where no one could see it. I did wind up eating the sausage with about a third of the syrup (maybe somewhere between 1/2 -1 Tbsp.), and I decided to take the milk with me. The other mother and grandmother at the table also skipped their waffles, as did my daughter, so I didn't look out of place at all as we carried our trays up to the garbage.

As I left Mabel at her desk she gave me a hug, and it was so good to see she had forgiven me for my motherly faux pas. While I walked out to my car I figured I probably added an extra 200 calories to my daily total. Not sure what my power sprint to the school tallied up to, but that didn't really matter. I managed to be there for my daughter and didn't totally derail my food plan for the day. Good stuff.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Manic Monday

I'm so glad I survived the weekend and awoke this morning not feeling bloated and hungover from too much food. I can start off the week not trying to make up for the damage I did Saturday and/or Sunday.

However, I have noticed some bad food habits the past two days. My hubby, bless his heart, got busy in the kitchen while I was at church, and when I came home he had a raspberry and bluberry crisp baking in the oven. I started to grumble at him until he told me the ingredients: sugar-free (with Splenda), nearly fat free (he used my trans-fat free spread), reduced calorie (he used plain gelatin instead of a higher calorie and starchier binder) and the topping was mostly my Fiber One cereal with a little bit graham crackers mixed in. And he did this from scratch, his own invention!

The problem is, I've been driven to eat it. Granted, it's been in carefully measured portions (1/2 cup crisp with 2 Tbsp. Cool Whip Free on top), but over the past two days it's been a lot of portions. Last night it was basically my supper, so it wasn't like I ate it on top of a lot of other food, but still, I could tell it was bordering on compulsive.

Thank goodness my mother and I finished the thing off this afternoon, and when my hubby came home from work I told him that while I liked the crisp a lot, he has to quit making huge desserts like that for just me. Because I cannot stop eating them!

The crisp wouldn't have been so bad if he'd made a smaller version, maybe a two-portion deal, or in individual pans, where the extras could have been frozen right away. But this is a man who has a very difficult time cooking in small portions. Everything is super family-sized, and there have been many evenings when he's prepared a meal that could easily feed six to eight people when there's just the three of us here. The worst part -- he detests leftovers! So a lot of the time the extras he makes sit in the refrigerator untouched, especially when I'm watching what I'm eating. A lot of food often goes to waste or becomes dinner for my mother's critters.

I don't think I did a lot of caloric damage with the fruit crisp, but it was more the manner in which I ate it. Oh, I definitely savored it and waited hours inbetween portions. But still, I ate way too many portions of it. Yes, I can rationalize that it was full of antioxidants and fiber, but still, it was dessert. And I wasn't satisified until it was gone.

And a lot of it has to do with stress, my age old enemy. Thanksgiving's next week, I've got to juggle packing up stuff with getting my house presentable for the holiday meal with my family. Hard to have a dinner for 25 when your dining room's full of boxes. Plus this is a hectic week, with lots of appointments and errands to run. I don't think I'll have a single free afternoon that doesn't involve driving to our county seat 10 miles away to accomplish these things. On top of that, today the kids were home from school for a county in-service day, and my mother watched my daughter and my two nieces here in my house. If the house wasn't a disaster when I left for work this morning, it sure is now!

So when I came home this afternoon, I felt the urge, strong and sure: I WANT TO EAT. I wanted to sit down and chow until I stuffed myself. I managed to limit myself and measure my portions, but I still ate more than I usually do. I'll have to nip this trend in the bud and quickly.

Hopefully things will take a turn for the better this evening. Now that the bloody buggery crisp is a thing of the past, maybe I can get my mind on something other than food and get some real work done around here. Because there's no time to waste right now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Validation

It's so nice to be rewarded for a good job.

I did everything I could to avoid overeating last night:
1. I took two bottles of seltzer water (and thank goodness I did, because the only cold beverages available were full calorie soda and beer, and I'm not a coffee drinker) and drank them both, with a little help from two friends who were looking for an alternative, too.

2. Before dinner I took a small plate and filled it with fresh veggies, skipping the dip. And guess what? I didn't even miss it.

3. When mealtime was announced everyone jumped in line. Instead of rushing to get our food, my friends and I stood around and talked till the line got smaller, and we wound up being the last ones to be fed.

4. I took my little plate I used for my veggies and used that for my meal. I split a dinner roll with my daughter, skipped the butter, and took the skin off my baked chicken. And no seconds!

5. I did have a fairly big piece of cake, but not supersized. However, I didn't gobble it down and I took the time to really experience all the flavor and texture. In fact, Hubby asked me halfway through if I wasn't going to finish it, because I had set down my fork for a few minutes to take part in a conversation. The best part was, I hadn't even purposely done it -- I just did it naturally!

6. After the cake, that was it -- no chips, no beers, no sneaking into the kitchen to pick at leftovers. Just seltzer water and laughing and joking with my friends.

And guess what? This morning when I woke up I was one pound less! When I saw that it made me SO happy that I didn't say "screw it" last night and pig out on my sister-in-law's macaroni and cheese (which is incredibly good, by the way). The best part was, I ate a little bit of it, savored it, and didn't feel deprived because I didn't allow myself any.

I also chided myself for letting myself get so down about my weigh-in yesterday. I've said it before, I'm very impatient, and I tend to let myself get easily frustrated and discouraged when I don't get my instant gratification.

Again, the fact of the matter is, I have to quit giving myself deadlines to be such-and-such a weight by a certain date. My body is going to lose how and when it wants to, not by some artificially created timetable.

The real validation here, the real goal, is learning how to recreate nights like last night, where I can face down my food demons and not let them drag me into binge eating. The game plan is crucial, and "post-game analysis" after the event is important to reinforce and congratulate myself on what I did right.

It's a lot of busy work. But it's worth it when I can announce I've earned my Anniversary Party patch for my AFG sash. Now comes Thanksgiving weekend...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Week Six Weigh In

Bummer.

I really hoped some miracle would happen last night and I'd be down 2, 3 pounds this morning. But it just wasn't meant to be. I got on the scale and it was exactly where it was yesterday:

218

I only lost half a pound.

Sigh...

I saw it coming, so it isn't a shock. I guess I could come up with a list of why I didn't lose more: maybe the stress of the week produced higher cortisol levels that made my body stubbornly hold onto the fat; maybe the two meals out were much higher calorie than I could estimate or had so much sodium in them that I'm bloated from it; maybe I need to rev up my exercise, switch some things around, and add on another half hour or so to revitalize my metabolism.

You notice I didn't mention daily caloric intake. The truth of the matter is, the last few weeks I've been averaging around the 1,200 calorie mark, and I've read enough to know that all the experts warn you to not go below that level. In the distant past my mother and I went to the diet doctor at the mall (how scary is that!) and besides giving us a cornicopia of funny pills to take, he also put us on an 800-calore a day diet. Yes, I know now that 800 calories a day for a teenager is a BAD MOVE; it propelled me into the wonderful world of eating disorders that I flirted with for several years.

Those were scary and sad days. If I wasn't striving to eat less than 800 calories a day and making myself weak and ill, then I was sneaking off to the grocery store and buying those plastic tubs of cake icing and eating it with a spoon in my bedroom. And of the course there was the time immediately following the startvation plan that every bite of food made me nauseous and vomit, to the point of dehydration and a hospital visit. My body chemisty was so screwed up, it's no wonder I had my first bad bout of depression by 15 and gallstones by 16.

Anyway, back to today. It's times like these that I wish I had my own panel of experts like they do on Celebrity Fit Club: a doctor/nutritionist, a psychologist and a personal trainer to coordinate and give me the best plan possible. But until I become a B or C list television star, I doubt that's going to happen.

I'm going to have to fine tune this program myself. And truth be told, if I'm going to be increasing my exercise, I'd almost have to increase my caloric intake to 1,500 or so to make sure I have the energy to do it. Of course, I'm sitting here wondering how I'm going to fit another 30 minutes of exercise into my day with the impending move and the holidays on the horizon. I'm already getting up at 5 a.m. to get my hour in the morning. It might be tricky.

Of course, I'm going on and on about this, all over the fact that I only lost half a pound this week. Hey! It's still a loss! I knocked off about three pounds last week, so maybe this is just my body balancing out.

I know I'm walking a very fine line here. I'm so worried about failing, especially with this holiday/moving double whammy. But I can't let my anxiety ignite my perfectionist, all or nothing thinking. If I push myself too hard, I run the risk of saying "f#$! it" and sitting myself down to a platter full of gnocchi smothered in Alfredo sauce every day.

So what if I only lose half a pound a week until the end of the year? The way I see it, by Dec. 31 I'd be at 214.5. That's a heck of a lot better than shooting back up to 220, 230, or 240, right?

I wish this was easier. But it isn't. It's frustrating, aggrivating and exhausting. There are days I get sick to death of counting calories, protein, carb and fat grams, and worrying about how many I have left for the end of the day. There are times I'm embarrassed when my family watches me measure my food or listens to me order special things at restaurants. It can make holidays and parties a dreaded experience instead of something I can look forward to.

But what else can I do? I can't in good conscience go back to the way I was. For as unhappy as I can get when I turn down dessert, it doesn't compare to the state I was in when I weighed around 330 pounds. Yeah, I may let myself get down when I don't see the number on the scale go down more, but it's a lot better than going to the plus size clothing store and realizing their biggest size will soon be too small for you.

I know this was a bit of a whiny post, but hopefully I didn't irritate anyone too badly. I'm still not sure if I feel much better, but I've at least expressed it, and hopefully that will keep me from diving into the roaster of macaroni and cheese tonight.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bogged Down

Feeling so incredibly tired this morning! I took a Benadryl last night because my eyes were itchy (I'm allergic to everything) and I figured since I hadn't been sleeping that well this past week, I'd take one. Because normally one doesn't totally knock me out, it just helps me sleep a little more soundly.

But this morning I feel like I'm dragging a fifty-pound bag over my shoulder. I still walked on the treadmill, ate my usual breakfast and did my usual routine. But I'm still sitting here wanting to lay my head on my desk and close my eyes. This isn't usual for me, so I'm worried that the stress of this past week has worn me down, which can often lead to me getting sick. It's definitely happened to me before. My body and health are definitely affected by the levels of stress in my life, and my immunity is definitely lowered by increased strife in my mind.

I've been doing a few unofficial weighs this week and not thrilled with what I'm seeing. It's very possible that my weigh-in tomorrow may be a little disappointing. But let's face facts: for the past six weeks I have consistently lost on average two pounds a week. It may very well be time for a little plateau, or at least slowing down a little. I may also be pleasantly surprised tomorrow. I guess I just have to wait and see.

I know I'm getting pessimistic, and I need to do something about it. It's this attitude of "I'll never be able to lose weight" that starts to bog me down. Yes, I'm setting myself up for a double challenge now, trying to lose weight during the holidays AND trying to move. But does that mean I have to wave the white flag and just give up? Maybe there are different goals I can look to right now. I've heard the phrase "fake it until you make it" or something like that. If I can just keep doing what I'm doing -- keep trying -- then eventually it should produce some results. I may stumble often, and it'll take me longer than I'd like, but the important thing is it'll still happen.

So maybe I don't hit the Onederfuls by Dec. 31. If I can get close, if I can keep from gaining weight, it would be better than the alternative. I need to be stubborn and repetitive; I need to stick to as many of my healthy routines as I can, and keep starting back up if I falter.

I packed two boxes of books, then starting working on a project I've been procrasting about: sorting out my photos and making albums. Yesterday I worked on two boxes crammed full of treasures; one was old photographs of my grandmother's, the other momentoes from my past. I sorted Grandma's pictures, which meant putting some in an album for my cousins, and making envelopes for the local historical society, women's club and my church. As for my box, I wound up finding a lot of irrelevant stuff that could be thrown away, and I was able to compile a really nice scrapbook of funny and sweet memories that is easily accessible.

While this project is time-consuming, it also eliminates clutter. Instead of moving big boxes full of "stuff", I'll be able to have some photo albums that will take up a lot less space and will be much more organized.

I'll tell you one thing I realized last night looking back in my past-- the last time I was at the size I am now, I was in junior high! Scary. But good, really good.

OH! I'm so bogged down with all this stuff that I forgot I was supposed to have a Weekend Game Plan today! OK, here goes, the plan for this weekend:

FRIDAY: Usual breakfast and lunch, and as far as I know dinner is a home-cooked meal, so I shouldn't have any problems sticking to plan today.

SATURDAY: Instead of altering my morning routine, I am going to stick to it as closely as possible. I may do a different workout (stationary bike or workout ball instead of treadmill), but I'm going to stick to my usual breakfast and mid-morning snack. My goal is to get to get on the treadmill during Mabel's acrobatics class, then find a healthy lunch.

Here's the problem for the weekend: We're invited to an anniversary surprise party. Main dishes for the meal are fried chicken, ham, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw. And don't forget the cake! I don't expect any healthy options there, because I've partied with these people before and they just don't think that way. So here's the options:
1. Eat whatever I want and start over Sunday (likely but getting old)
2. Eat what's there but strictly watch portion control (rewarding the day after but very hard to do)
3. Take some things with me: a big salad or cut up veggies, low calorie drinks, maybe an apple. (a little awkward and risk looking like a "problem guest")

If I can avoid option 1, I will probably wind up doing a combination of 2 & 3. I'll definitely take a bottle or two of my selzter water -- I do this all the time and everyone's used to it. Maybe I can sneak an apple along, or eat it right before I go to help fill me up a little.

What I must do is MOVE AWAY FROM THE FOOD! It wouldn't be so bad if I ate a "normal" meal of what's there if I didn't wind up parking myself by the food the rest of the night and sneaking more and more until I'm bursting. After the meal I need to find a seat as far away from the food as possible, hold that bottle of seltzer in my hand and use my mouth to talk instead of eat.

SUNDAY: Once again, I need to stick to a similar version of my regular routine: workout, healthy breakfast and morning snack. Lunch is always a toss-up this day, so the goal is to help select the restaurant so I can find healthy choices. And supper needs to be heavy on the veggies.

Well, let's see how it goes. I'll let you know what the final verdict is on this week's weigh-in and how well I can stick to the Game Plan!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Overwhelmed

That’s me in a nutshell. Not sure where to start, I find myself sitting here doing nothing… and surprise! I’m hungry.

I’m not really hungry. I’ve just eaten a whole can of Progresso soup. I’m anxious, and procrastinating, and nothing stimulates my urges to eat more. If I can just get myself up and moving, I can probably get a lot done and not wind up surrounded by a pile of candy wrappers.

When I feel completely overwhelmed, there’s one place I know I can turn to: Flylady. Over the past five years or so she has been a godsend to me. She helped me learn to declutter and let go of things; to limit the clutter that I buy; and most importantly, teach me the importance of routines. While I’m certainly not the perfect housekeeper, things don’t get as bad as they used to because of many of the tips and advice she gives. And we all know how the concept of routines has been the foundation of my weight loss.

So I went to her website and quickly found the page dedicated to moving. There are lots of tips there, but the basic thing is one of her main tenets: BABY STEPS. Give yourself small goals – pack five boxes a day, for instance – and before you know it the job’s done. Again, another concept I’ve adopted for weight loss.

I always find a sense of relief when I am reminded that it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing” – I don’t have to pack the entire house or lose 90 pounds in one day. It’s each little step we take that adds up to the finished task. My perfectionist streak runs wild at times, and it’s nice to be told that I just need to do the best I can do that day. There’s no point in worrying about what I got done yesterday or what I need to get done tomorrow.

Living in the moment is such an important thing, and one I have trouble with. I do tend to dwell on the past, or else I’m fretting or daydreaming about the future. But focusing on today? Not an easy thing for me.

So I guess it’s time for me to wrap this up and get to work. Five boxes? I think I can handle that. And hopefully that will distract me from the gnawing going on in my stomach.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Good, The Bad and the Food

Shortly after I posted yesterday I got the phone calls I needed to get, so we made the call we were anxious to make. The money situation is taken care of, so we made an offer on the house and the owner was receptive.

So it looks like we're moving! I can't quite believe it. I hate moving, but somehow I've managed to move nine times in the last 13 years! It's such an upheaval of your life. Everything's thrown into chaos while huge chunks of your life get packed into boxes, and your head is full of debate over paint, wallpaper, furniture placement and kitchen organization. Not to mention doing all the address changes and calling utilities. I fume every time I have to get the phone turned on in a new place; why in the world do I have to pay so much money for them to flip a switch?!? It's a racket and no one can convince me otherwise.

But here's my biggest concern: with the upcoming chaos coming at the holidays, how in the world will I be able to keep up with this Onederful Project? Will I be able to handle the stress of moving without turning to food? Will I be able to keep up my planned meals and regular exercise as the craziness takes over? I have to admit I'm a little scared. The last time I had this much chaos in my life (moving into my current home and getting married), I gained back 50 pounds!

But I have one thing on my side -- experience. Each time I go through these episodes I may make mistakes, but I learn from them, too. With each moving adventure I've become a little more organized, a little more efficient. And with each bout of this losing weight journey, I learn which tricks work, which foods keep me feeling fuller longer, what habits I need to encourage.

Honestly, maybe a little fear is a good thing. It'll keep me honest, at least. I know I'll be heavily challenged, and awareness is half the battle. It's sticking my head in the sand and saying "I'll eat now and deal with the consequences when the insanity's over" that is the death knell for my progress.

So one promise I have to make to myself is to continue this blog. Throughout this saga I have written in my journals and this habit kept me mindful. Every single time I'd shrug off the journal and let it sit unopened for a week, or two, or three months, I'd gain weight. But this blog is different. Having this public display makes me feel more responsible to maintain it, because I do have several people who read it regularly and seem to get a lot out of it. For once my need to take care of others before myself could come in handy; while giving others my posts, I'll be helping myself to stay in the moment and not escape into food.

And it's so great to get the feedback I receive from my readers. I don't always reply to everyone, but I do read them all and really appreciate all the comments. It makes me feel like I've got a whole community of like-minded people cheering for me.

Let's end with a cheer! Two-four-six-eight, keep those 'taters off my plate. Yea, ME!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

Anyone who knows me will tell you I can find a song title for almost any situation. Take the title above, a Tom Petty song that fits me pretty well.

I HATE to wait. I am one of those born into the "instant gratification" generation. I fume at lines in grocery stores, backed up traffic and slow internet connections.

My biggest challenges in life have been the times I've been forced to wait for extended periods of time. When I adopted my daughter, I started the process in August 1998. The next nine months I paced and stressed and did everything I could to withstand the wait.

Those faced with a massive weight loss also deal with the fact that it's going to take a long time to achieve our goals. The perfect blog to witness this is dietgirl; talk about patience and perseverance! When you've got 50, 100, 200 pounds to lose, it just ain't gonna' happen in a few months. It takes a year, maybe more, to add up all those 1 and 2-pound losses into a substantial amount.

It's hard. When you see year one, year two, year three go by, and you still haven't reached your "goal" weight, it can be frustrating. I was sure 2006 was going to be the year that I knocked it all off and would usher in 2007 a lean machine. Instead, in 2006 I got stuck in a quagmire; I've languished in a 20-pound range that goes up and down depending on how well I'm sticking to my healthy eating and exercise.

As I approach that low end again, I'm full of hope that I can free myself of this spot I'm stuck in and push forward. I'm still optimistic I can once again recreate that prayed for "roll" that propels me into a long-term weight loss mode. I've felt stuck at a few different weights along this journey; I can still vividly remember just wishing I could get below 300 pounds. Now that magic number is 100 pounds less. I have a lot of experience under this belt (along with the loose skin), but it doesn't seem to make it any easier when the tray of cookies gets passed to me.

I've had moments when I let myself feel utterly overwhelmed about the amount of weight I needed to lose and the amount of work and time it would take. I would feel so anxious and helpless in those moments. It's always worked best to make the goals small; the weekly weigh-in, the monthly total, celebrating each 10-pound loss instead of waiting for the big finale.

But the truth of the matter is, even if I reach a goal weight, my journey isn't over. I'll just exit off the Weight Loss Express and merge onto the Maintenance Highway. The road won't look very different; I'll still have to watch what I eat and keep up a good level of physical activity. So there's really no end to this path I've chosen. There may be some different speed limits in certain areas, but some general rules of the road will apply everywhere I go.

I relate this waiting theme to weight loss, even though the big issue I'm fretting over right now is waiting for the bank to call me back. I realize bankers and lawyers are busy people and have lots of clients, but why do they take so long to get back to you? It's excruciating!

Monday, November 06, 2006

My Own Worst Enemy

I really wanted this weekend to be different; to be one of those weekends I'd sail through, rising above the temptations and controlling what I ate.

So much for that.

I tried, both Saturday and Sunday. Both days started out well. But my oldest enemy was at it again -- my inability to deal with emotions.

In my defense, it was a pretty stressful weekend. There was a lot going on, a lot happened, and my emotions were all over the place. Unfortunately, I went to my old standby reaction -- eating -- to deal with them.

A lot of the problem stems from what I wrote about in the past -- my lack of routine on the weekends. Monday through Friday is no problem -- my routine is nearly cut in stone and it feels almost easy. Then on the weekends my schedule and my control over food falls to pieces.

So needless to say, it's Monday and I'm back on track. I walked my 2.6 miles, ate my healthy breakfast and lunch and really have no desire to go attack the "dangerous" food that I couldn't resist less than 24 hours ago. Why is it that Monday through Friday I can resist, but Saturday and Sunday I am so weak?

Again, it goes back to routine. I am definitely a person who needs structure and planning to do well, whether it's at work, housekeeping, a project or losing weight. Without a routine my focus fades, my attention drifts, and whatever I'm working on falls apart.

So I guess the only answer is to come up with a weekend routine. Part of the problem is our often chaotic weekends, so it's hard to apply the same routine for each turn of events. I guess the big thing is to come up with a game plan each Friday that outlines my schedule, pinpoints my area of weaknesses and lists some reasonable methods to avoid overeating. I can have a list of objectives and strive to meet them. That's settled, then; I promise to you on Friday I'll report in with my Weekend Game Plan.

The funny (or not so funny thing is), the stress that set me into the bowl of ziti last night is still around today, if not more so. Here's the deal: for some time Hubby and I have talked about relocating, either buying another house or building from scratch. While we like the house we're in, it's cramped, and as my sister-in-law so perfectly said this morning, "it's like there's no room to escape." If I want to go read a novel by myself, there's really nowhere to go to get some real peace and quiet. Our only "extra" room is my husband's den, and it's full of computer stuff and paraphernalia from his hunting and fishing hobbies.

While the thought of building a new house is alluring, the cost is prohibitive, and in my opinion, there's nothing like the charm of an old house. To me there's something kind of soulless about new houses; they feel like they've been pressed out of a cookie cutter and lack the craftsmanship of yesteryear.

One such house is located not far from us, and two doors down from some very good friends of ours. Hubby's ex-aunt rented the house from a woman I babysat for (life in a small town!), and we heard through the grapevine that the house was going up for sale. On October 15 ex-aunt told Hubby the house was still available, and out of curiosity, we called about it. The owner called me and said she had a couple make an offer on it, and they were working on the financing. She said if the deal fell through she would call us back, but I figured our chance was gone.

But... this past Thursday the owner called me again and said the offer fell through (the financing was a go, but the wife couldn't talk the husband into moving into town -- this is a town of 1,700 people and two blinking traffic lights -- but apparently too urban for this guy). So Hubby and I took our daughter to look at the house on Sunday afternoon.

Oh my... the woodwork is gorgeous, the rooms are big and spacious, there are four bedrooms, plus a huge attic that could easily be converted into another bedroom or a den. Plus the basement is huge and has lots of potential, too. The house is located on a nice quiet street (we currently live on the main drag in town, subject to large volumes of coal trucks, tractor trailers and weekend motorcycle groups) and has a fantastic view of the valley. There's a much bigger yard for Mabel to play in and more kids her age nearby for playmates. In addition, the amount the owner is asking for is just great.

So Hubby and I have been grappling with this major decision all weekend. We've been weighing all the pros and cons, wrestling over our budget, and debating the sanity of trying to move in the winter. After all of this we're pretty darn sure we want it. Today, however, I'm dealing with the financial end -- seeing if we can get an OK on the money. There's a lot of complicated details I'd rather not get into here, but I'm waiting on some phone calls from the bank and my father (who is a financial whiz and helps me with all my money issues). While Dad says not to worry, it's going to go through, there are still some issues that need to be ironed out. Hubby and I told the owner we'd let her know by tomorrow, and it'd be nice to have a definite YES before we tell her we want it.

So I'm sitting here on the computer, reading blogs, typing my own, waiting for the phone to ring. I am so horribly bad at this! It would be so easy to escape into a pan of chocolate chip cookies (or a bowl of the dough!) to numb this stress and uncertainty. But it's not Sunday anymore; it's "In Control Monday" and my routine doesn't allow for that kind of behavior. So guess what? My internal mother is giving me one of those smirks and saying, "You're stuck with this now, so deal with it!"

And guess what? It's really not that bad. I actually feel a little better about myself as I find non-eating methods to distract myself (goodness knows I have a lot of laundry to put away). And I keep telling myself Father Knows Best: if he says it's going to work out, then the odds are pretty good it will. And if it doesn't? Then perhaps it just wasn't meant to be and something else will fall into place. Either way we live to see another day.

And wouldn't it be silly to eat 5,000 calories over it? Honestly, in the clear light of (Mon)day, it all makes perfect sense.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Week Five Weigh-In

You know how I said I dreaded the weekends? Well, there's one part I've been enjoying the past month: the weigh-in mornings.

This morning I was thrilled to see I was a "teen" again! I'm now at 218.5, a three-pound loss from last Friday's weigh-in. This victory seems exceptionally sweet this morning: I managed to recover from the damage of the DC weekend, leap through a series of PMS hurdles, and even survived my dinner at Red Lobster to fly past the 220 milestone.

Each 10-pound marker means a lot to me, and back in June when I managed to get below 220 I was really tickled with myself, too. It was equally heartbreaking to go back over that weight this summer when I was in my pre-surgery eating mode, and I was very afraid I'd never be able to achieve that again.

But here I am, a teenager again. Since starting this journey I've read a lot about people who've lost weight and the changes they go through. When people make the comment (and I've received them) "You've lost a whole person," it makes me think about the person I was when I weighed over 300 pounds and how I've changed. Some people say you become emotionally arrested at the age you begin gaining weight; for me that would be about age 9. But when I think about the changes a teenager goes through, I do feel like I'm going through a new kind of adolescence. My body is changing in ways that astound me; my moods are all over the place and these emotions bubble out of recesses I didn't realize I had. I'm grappling with what I'm going to be when I grow up (or down, in my case) and uncertain of my place and identity in the world.

Now I know my world isn't going to drastically change when I reach 200 pounds. There won't be any parades in my honor, no plaques or giant checks or speeches or newspaper articles. I'll still be in my life; there will just be a little less of my fat in it. But at the same time, parts of my identity have changed; people look at me differently already. Some people have just recently noticed that I actually exist! And when I meet new people, they have no clue that I used to be over 100 pounds heavier. That's a whole lot of mental baggage that I carry around when I'm in public -- no wonder I get so stressed out in party-type situations!

Anyway, my arrival into the teens made me feel so good this morning I turned away from the burnt sugar gobs and had some oatmeal instead. I just knew if I ate that refined sugar bomb this early in the morning it would not agree with me. But part of me was so happy to be under 220 that the thought of eating it felt like a letdown (hooray for progress!) So I'm waiting until later in the day to enjoy my big treat.

And having 218.5 dancing in my head will make facing tonight's meal out a little easier, I predict. It's not so hard to turn down butter and deep-fried food when you have such a great victory so fresh in your mind.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Freakin' Friday

It's to the point I almost dread Friday and the weekends. Friday night to Sunday night is without doubt the hardest part of my week when it comes to staying on track with food and exercise.

Monday through Friday (morning that is), I have no problem sticking to my usual routine, bouncing out of bed and hopping onto the treadmill. Then Saturday and Sunday mornings come; I want to sleep in, I want to lounge around, I don't want to sweat.

Then comes breakfast. Saturday morning comes and hubby's frying himself eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, whatever the craving might be, filling my house with the aroma of temptation. It's hard to look at my Eggbeaters, oatmeal or fiber cereal with the same gusto when daughter is slurping down the strips of bacon she steals off her daddy's plate.

Saturday is Mabel's acrobatics class. If I'm really good, I get on the treadmill at the gym where the dance studio is located and burn off a few extra calories while I wait. But like I said, it's hard to fight that weekend mode, especially if I have errands I can do. Class ends at noon, and invariably my daughter then begs for her drive-thru kid's meal. I know, if I was Super Mom I'd steer her away from the evil axis of the Fast Food Empires and take her home for carrot sticks and sandwiches with whole grain bread. She actually WILL eat those foods for me regularly (the child loves odd foods like lima beans, edamame, cauliflower), and the child is so extremely active that I don't like to be a tyrant about healthy foods. This is a kid who requests Frosted Mini Wheats for breakfast (yes, there's sugar on them, but at least it's not Sugar Frosted Chocolate Bombs or something like that) and apples for snacks, so I think I've managed to teach her a decent balance when it comes to food.

Actually, I really envy some of her eating habits. She eats when she's hungry, turns down food when she isn't, and actually stops when she's full -- even with dessert! As I was dropping her off at her school bus stop this morning she handed me the tiny remainder of her "after breakfast snack" (one of Hungry Girl's delicious Krispymallow Treats) and I thought to myself, "It's such a little bit; why can't she just eat it and not make me drag it around in the car until I can find a garbage can?" Then I immediately had two thoughts in response: 1. Yea for me for not just absent-mindedly popping it into my gullet, and 2. Thank goodness I didn't argue with her and try to convert her into membership with the Clean Plate Club. We have enough members, thank you very much!

So anyway, back to the subject of weekends. If I can manage to wait until I get home from the drive-thru to eat a healthy lunch at home, I'm still not out of the woods for the weekend lunches. Because lurking around the corner is Sunday lunch, which is nine times out of ten with the in-laws. I've mentioned before how much this family I married into loves to eat, and Sunday is one of their favorite times to do it. The only thing they love almost as much as food and eating is driving, so they have no problem with driving 45 minutes, sometimes nearly 2 hours to one of their favorite restaurants. And it's usually either an all-you-can-eat buffet, a diner full of deep fried and gravy-covered foods, or sometimes the surf and turf or Italian places. There have been many, many Sundays that I've caved to the temptations and lack of healthy alternatives and eaten what I shouldn't. But I also have a nice catalog of days that I've succeeded in putting together a healthy meal and smiled to myself when everyone around me is opening their pants buttons and groaning while I feel satisfied and comfortable.

But wait, don't forget supper time! Weekends are when my husband gets the itch to go out for dinner, and we usually go at least once, perhaps twice if we already have plans with friends or family. And if we don't eat out, weekend dinners are usually thrown together or else high on the comfort-food list. Again, I have my triumphs and failures; the worst is when I struggle through Friday and Saturday without a binge and then completely fall off the wagon Sunday is some kind of rebellious-rebound effect.

This all leads me to this weekend. Saturday night, as I explained in yesterday's post, is the double birthday dinner at the surf and turf place. Well, I forgot that last weekend I promised Hubby I'd take him to Red Lobster for a late birthday present, and he wants to go tonight. So now I've got two dangerous dinners to deal with, and with my luck a big Sunday lunch to boot.

It's bargaining time. If I can really excel at one meal sometimes I allow myself a little leeway with another one. For example, Red Lobster has a great LightHouse Menu that I've eaten several times before and been very pleased. They even have a "Create Your Meal" feature online that allows you to pinpoint exactly what you're going to eat and know precisely how many calories, fat grams, etc., you're getting. If I can manage a 600 to 700-calorie meal there Friday night, maybe I'll allow myself to not worry about every single calorie Saturday night, since the restaurant is not a national chain and doesn't have "healthy" entrees and doesn't provide all the nutritional information in their menu or online. I can still steer myself towards healthier foods, but I don't have to spend the whole night estimating and calculating calories in my head. And perhaps that will keep me from going haywire on Sunday and blowing all my hard work out the window.

Besides, I have to be "good" tonight -- tomorrow is Weigh-In Day! It's gonna' be tough, though. In another crazy promise I made my husband last week (I must have been delusional from all the last-minute craziness before our trip), I ordered him a dozen of his favorite dessert, burnt sugar gobs. Have I mentioned these on here before? Our hometown bakery is well known for its burnt sugar cake, the primary ingredient being a carmelized or "burnt" sugar. This cake was always my Grandma's choice for birthday cakes, and to this day I must have one for my own birthday. In the last few years they've used the leftover batter to make gobs -- or whoopie pies, depending on your location and terminology. The two pieces of cake sandwich a layer of the burnt sugar icing, and the whole thing melts in your mouth like a slice of heaven (sorry, I definitely fell into some food porn there!).

Anyway, I've got a dozen of these evil little things in my house right now, taunting me! Yes, how quickly something can turn from heavenly to demonic! I thanked the girl at the bakery for sealing the box with cling film and tape, because, as I told her, "It'll keep me from sneaking into them before my husband gets home." Actually, I'm hoping to avoid them entirely today (that weigh-in is a powerful thing, my friends), and maybe allow myself one tomorrow. ONE. Not two, three, six... a dozen. You know how it goes.

This has been a long post! Let's hope it gave me extra fortification to fight the good fight this weekend. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Tide Has Turned

This morning I woke up feeling a lot better about food and the world in general. There are lots of possible reasons: PMS is over, I got lots of sleep last night, I've detoxed from my foodie weekend by eating right and exercising all week. And it didn't hurt that when I pulled the scale out from under the bed and stepped on it that I was a pound less than I was last Friday. The numbers may not be that important, but it does help to give some validation for all the effort I make.

Of course, now I've got another weekend coming up. Saturday night we're having a joint birthday dinner for my hubby and his brother, whose birthdays are a few weeks apart. Normally we have TWO separate dinners for each one, which means double the overeating opportunities. But we went away on Hubby's birthday, and Brother-in-Law is going away the weekend of his, so everything's messed up this year.

It was my idea to combine them, which you would have thought meant ripping the very fabric of the family traditions. Both Hubby and MIL were uneasy about the idea at first, but BIL was all for it, so then it was okay. So now, even though I have to maneuver through another hazardous meal, at least I eliminated a second one. Hubby loves this restaurant, and every year for his birthday he orders the extra-large portion of their prime rib. I'm talking a monster portion that would easily feed a family of four with leftovers. But they also have a lot of almost healthy seafood options, plus a decent salad bar, so I know I can get through it without blowing my calorie count for the day.

You may wonder how I sit and watch my husband eat this mammoth amount of food. I admit, it can be hard sometimes, for different reasons. It's difficult sometimes because it makes me want to eat, too. But there are other times when I worry about my husband's health. He's gained 40 to 50 pounds since we met, and while he moans and groans about it, he has trouble making the leap to do something about it (been there!). In the past he's done a hospital diet program that is extremely low-carb, which he swears works. And I keep telling him that's only a half-truth; it works as long as he's strictly following the restrictive rules, but once he goes "off" the program he goes right back to his old habits.

I dearly love my Hubby, and that love transcends any number on the scale. But I do worry about the future: his parents both have heart problems, his mother battles her cholesterol and his father has diabetes. So the genetics are there. And I do try to be a good influence when I can; my healthy eating has taken over our dinners, and in the past year Hubby's cholesterol numbers have improved significantly. So I'm hoping the small steps we're making -- healthy dinners, less junk food around -- will continue to make a difference.

So if I were asked what I'd want for my husband, it wouldn't be about losing a ton of weight and looking like a stud; it would be more about good cardiovascular health, preventing diabetes, strokes and heart attacks. Mainly, keeping him around!

Time to go. Have another busy day ahead of me. Daughter has allergy testing this afternoon, and I'm hoping it isn't too traumatic for her. When I had it done back in the dark ages (1978?), it was a painful experience with rows of needle pricks down my back. Now they use numbing cream and limit it to the upper arm. Even with these additions it will still be a long procedure, so I'm taking along the laptop and a new movie to watch -- you gotta' love these modern conveniences.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Little Is Enough

Thanks for the posts of support. Everyone always has such insightful comments and are such a positive force. It helps a lot.

I survived last night. For a while I thought I was doomed; my MIL called and invited us over for a typical German-American meal: pork and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and corn. Part of me wanted to take this as my surrender signal-- just go ahead and eat. But my stubborn streak broke through and saved me. I munched on some fresh veggies before we went to dinner, then I skipped the starchy vegetables and loaded my plate with sauerkraut -- only 27 calories a cup! -- and shredded a small portion of pork into it. The final touch? Brown mustard.

My sister-in-law looked over at me and asked me for the mustard. "It looks so interesting, I have to try it." She did and liked it.

SIL and I tend to dread these meals because MIL is definitely a food pusher, which I think is pretty typical of a lot of our mothers. We survived, however, although we caught ourselves picking at the leftover sauerkraut on the platter. She was feeling guilty about it until I told her how many calories it was, and we both went on to pass on the pieces of candy apple MIL cut up and passed around the table for dessert.

I went home then, calculated my calories for the day and allotted myself two blocks of dark chocolate. Hershey's has this new dark chocolate bar that has almonds, cranberries and blueberries in it -- a delicious antioxidant treat. And the great thing about the dark chocolate is that it's so intense that a little bit goes a long way.

Oh, how I try to convince myself that a little can be enough. I've always loved the Pete Townshend song "A Little Is Enough," which is about this subject (here's a portion):

"I'm like a connoisseur of champagne cognac
The perfume nearly beats the taste
I eat an oyster and I feel the contact
But more than one would be a waste
Some people want an endless line that's true
But all I have to have's a little time with you
A smile sets me reeling
A kiss feels like stealing
Your love is like heroin
The addict is mellowing
I can't pretend that I'm tough
Just a little is enough"

I don't think Townshend meant this song to be a lesson to those of us with eating issues, but it does apply to that, along with addictions to alcohol, shopping, sex, etc. There's this need within so many of us that we seek to fill with all the wrong things, and way too much of them. Do we spend our energy limiting ourselves, or do we search for other things to fill that void? Or, do we try to figure out why we have this emptiness in the first place? Whichever path we take, it's not the easiest one to travel.

While I struggled and succeeded yesterday, I don't feel a whole lot saner today. I'm still craving what I shouldn't and begrudgingly doing what I need to do. But I'm doing it anyway. Do I always feel enthusiastic about brushing my teeth? There are days I have no desire to shower but drag my carcass in there anyway. Eating right is something I need to do to maintain my health and appearance, just like dental care and personal hygiene. It's not always fun and exciting, but in the end it's worth it.