Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Month of Treading Water

Still fighting this illness. My throat's the main culprit, and I'm starting to worry that it might be strep. My doctor's office is closed today; if it's still hurting and burning tomorrow, I'll do what I dread most and make an appointment.

I wish I could get over this dread about doctors. It's almost entirely based on my long life as a fat girl, facing the gallows that is the scale, and the countless comments and speeches I've received from so many doctors and nurses about my weight. Even though last year I was called the "poster girl" by one of the physician's assistants because of my weight loss, I still hate being weighed. I understand being weighed at your annual physical, because you're there to get an overall evaluation of your health, and your weight is one of many indicators. What irritates me is that they weigh you every stinkin' time you go in. Have an earache? "Get on the scale." Ingrown toenail? "Hop on the scale." And I've never had the balls to be assertive and refuse to be weighed; the people pleaser in me never wants to make waves.

That was the one good thing about visiting my neurosurgeon -- in all the times I went to see him, he never weighed me. What joy! We could get right to the point of my visit and not go through the torture. By the way, my six month checkup on Monday went great. He said my hardware is healed and fused to the bone, and unless I have any more neurological problems (numbness, tingling, etc.), there's no need for me to go back. That's what I like to hear!

(had to stop and come back later)
It's been a tough day to get any rest. Had to get up early and get Mabel off to school, then off to my job. When I got home, I had Hubby to deal with -- he fell on the ice yesterday and hurt his tailbone. The x-ray didn't show any breakage, but he's in a lot of pain, so he's taken the last two days off from work.

When I got home my throat and head were hurting a lot and I felt so tired, but good luck getting any sleep. After being cooped up in the house Hubby wanted me to chat and watch cooking shows with him. Then his parents showed up and stayed for an hour. Hubby left the house for a few minutes and I finally was able to take a tiny nap, but 15 minutes into it Mabel came home from school and then it was time for my second job as Super Mommy -- dinner, dishes, piano, homework, laundry, bath, bed time routine.

While I'm exhausted, my throat actually feels a little better now, so maybe the worst is over. I'm going to bed early and get another 8-9 hours of sleep and see what that does for me.

The food has been really good the last three days, probably because I'm taking all these decongestants and they always seem to decrease my appetite. My weekend bloat (and this time it was a hell of a lot) is coming off quickly, thank goodness -- although part of that is probably from the decongestants, too. Since I'm getting no deliberate exercise I doubt I'll lose weight this week, but if I can be close to last week's weigh in, I won't be despondent.

I'm just chalking up February as a month of treading water weight wise. It could be a lot worse -- in past years it's been a month of regaining. Seeking progress, not perfection, right? That's what Frances' post on today's AFG site was about, and I could really relate to what she discussed there. That may become one of my new catch phrases. As long as I keep making progress, then I keep improving and getting closer to my goals.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Getting My Feet Wet

Back to work today. My throat/tonsils are still kind of bothering me, but everything else is better. Vickie mentioned having "colds" that wound up being allergies and asthma; I've had both since I was 9 and pretty much know it's not them, because I keep them pretty well treated.

Anne also mentioned treating Seasonal Affective Disorder with light therapy. This is my second year of trying full spectrum lighting, and I am seeing more improvement each year. I'm no longer on the verge of being incapacitated by depression, but unfortunately I'm still experiencing some symptoms, and one of those is definitely the eating. Again, each year it gets better, but I'm far from "cured."

Yesterday was an odd food day; I had oatmeal at lunchtime, then ate dinner with the family. Hubby picked up thinly sliced beef he fried in the skillet and made green beans and fried potatoes with it -- a typical manly, meat and potatoes meal. Mabel loved it, and I have to admit I dug right in, too. But that was it for the rest of the day. So I'm not feeling too guilty about it.

Today I'm pretty much back to routine food wise. The exercise didn't happen this morning because I had just enough energy to get myself and Mabel ready, and that was it. This afternoon I'm meeting with my accountant to get my taxes ready, so although I'm feeling better I'm short on time to get any exercise in. But again, I'm not feeling horrible about it. I'm still recovering and I don't want to push it.

Granted, I do feel discouraged by the weekend eating (not to mention the recent weekday eating) and how it's been derailing me lately. I'm taking into account the SAD, the stress I've been under, the new medication, but I still feel if I was stronger or more dedicated these things wouldn't be holding me back. I know this thinking borders on being a perfectionist and bashing myself, so I try to temper these thoughts with more positive, supportive and reasonable statements.

I've been through these slumps before. I worried that I was losing control and that I would gain everything back. I worried that whatever plateau point I was hovering around would be permanent and I'd never be able to lose more than that. But since 2004 each slump has decreased in length, each regain has gotten smaller, and each plateau point has been passed. As long as I keep trying and don't give up, I can get through this, too. And the fact that I now have this blog and keep myself accountable is a good sign that I'll recover even quicker this time. Because I'm not letting myself withdraw from my thoughts, I'm not allowing myself to fully submerge myself into food. I've been getting my feet wet, but I'm not diving in head first.

I feel like I keep rewriting the same post: I'm not doing well, but if I'm patient and persistent, I'll be okay. It may be getting redundant for you poor readers, but I need to keep reinforcing this to make sure I don't forget and give up.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cold Part Deux

I'm sick again. Another cold, I guess -- sore throat, congestion, sneezing, feeling awful. It actually started in the middle of the night Saturday, and yesterday I laid around all day hoping it would go away. But it didn't.

This is a bad sign: sick twice in about a month. It's a warning to me that I'm run down and my immunity isn't the best. It also makes me wonder if being run down isn't what's exacerbating my stumbling around with the food and exercise.

So I took the sign and called off sick today. I read a little and slept a lot of the morning away. Now I have to get ready for my 6-month checkup with my surgeon, which I'm not cancelling because it's extremely difficult to get an appointment with him. But I'm taking it easy the rest of the day, too.

These winters really do get the best of me. Every day I find myself longing for spring, for warmer weather and clear roads that I can walk on. And days that I'm not cooped up in the house looking for something to eat. Each year I think I'm going to beat this Seasonal Affective Disorder, and this year has been better than some, but it's still got its tentacles around my ankles and is doing its best to drag me under.

Due to popular demand, I'm posting the Crab Rangoon recipe. I got it from the Kraft Food & Family emails that are sent to me regularly, just so they get their proper credit.

Baked Crab Rangoon
Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 40 min
Makes: 12 servings, one wonton each

1 can (6 oz.) white crabmeat, drained, flaked
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, softened
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup KRAFT Mayo Light Mayonnaise
12 won ton wrappers

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix crabmeat, Neufchatel cheese, onions and mayo.
SPRAY 12 medium muffin cups with cooking spray. Gently place 1 won ton wrapper in each cup, allowing edges of wrappers to extend above sides of cups. Fill evenly with crabmeat mixture.
BAKE 18 to 20 min. or until edges are golden brown and filling is heated through. Serve warm. Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired.

The people at Kraft say this baked version saves 80 calories and 6.5 g of fat per serving compared to traditional fried Crab Rangoon.
Diet Exchange:
1/2 Starch,1/2 Fat
Nutrition (per serving)
Calories 70 Total fat 3.5g Saturated fat 1.5g Cholesterol 20mg Sodium 150mg Carbohydrate 6g Dietary fiber 0g Sugars 1g Protein 4g Vitamin A 2%DV Vitamin C 0%DV Calcium 2%DV Iron 2%DV

Enjoy. I know my guests loved it and had no idea it was a "healthier" version.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Celebrating Tet

Well, I survived another Asian New Year party. Everyone had a good time, had lots of compliments about our new house and raves about the food. There was lots of talking and laughter, signs of a successful party.

Hopefully this isn't food porn, but here was a breakdown of the menu:
Store bought stuff: pork egg rolls, vegetable spring rolls and pot stickers from Sam's Club; pork and vegetable lo mein from the Chinese takeout.
Homemade stuff: General Tso's chicken (Hubby's contribution), Vietnamese fried rice (I had to do it from memory because the recipe's in a box in the storage shed, which is barricaded shut with snow), and a baked Crab Rangoon that got lots of compliments (the actual recipe is low fat and quite good if anyone wants it; let me know)
Stuff people brought: my good friends J&M made shrimp and pork meatballs with a spicy lime sauce. Very good! People also brought desserts, including brownies, Oreo cake, cupcakes, and those sugar sprinkled doughnuts like you find at the Chinese buffets.

I'm always a little disconcerted by the cacophony and chaos of my parties. All the voices, all the bodies filling the house. It takes my solitary nature a while to adjust to all this activity. I wound up spending the majority of the evening with my friends J&M, who of everyone there I don't get to see very often, so it was understandable, I guess. Besides, everyone else was so busy entertaining themselves that I doubt anyone felt slighted that I didn't mingle more. On top of that, I was trying to manage the kitchen, and J&M graciously offered to help me wash all the pots, pans and dishes, so we found ourselves chatting away as we worked.

Mabel had one of her school friends come over and spend the night, and that added a different flavor to the evening. We had four girls of roughly the same age (technically five, but my niece C. is autistic and pretty much entertains herself), which worked out well because they went off in pairs and we didn't have any "third wheel" syndrome going on. My sister-in-law brought her teen son and his posse (girlfriend and guy pal), then they had to leave a little early because the girlfriend's mother was picking her up. We had Hubby's parents, SIL's parents and my mother there, too, so it was a multi-generational event.

The good news is, this year I don't have a lot of leftovers. It's always a trick to make enough food so that you don't run out right away, but no so much that you have to freeze or throw away half of it. I have just enough to enjoy today for leftovers, which is perfect.

By the way, thanks to everyone for their wonderful words of support regarding yesterday's post. It's so nice to have that encouragement and understanding from people who know what I'm going through. It's definitely one thing that keeps me going.

And after reading Pasta Queen's wonderful post, I'm even more inspired to continue. I want to follow in her footsteps and join her in the party in her pants! (Read the post, you'll know what I mean.)

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Week 21 Weigh In

I went to numerals instead of writing out the whole word in my weigh in titles. I guess it's good that I'm over 20 weeks now of keeping track.

Unfortunately, this is not a good week. This morning I am 211. A gain. But I expected that. And I made it worse by eating poorly yesterday. We had lunch at a local diner and I threw all caution to the wind and had their fried shrimp special. Yeah, deep fried shrimp. And onion rings. And coleslaw. I didn't clean my plate, though, which I guess is one small consolation.

Then I went home and ate way too many cookies in the afternoon. I sure as heck didn't need them, but I wanted them, and I ate them. But I didn't finish the box -- thank God -- and I got myself back in gear and did lots of housework. I didn't go overboard at supper, ate normal portions, and in the evening I ate four cookies and three chocolate kisses. I could have eaten a lot more, but I told myself I had done enough damage for one day.

I suppose this is the time I should sit down and analyze why I overate and made bad choices. This is the hardest part of the "recovery" process for me, because while I have no problem dissecting my thoughts, the actual feelings are harder to pinpoint. Probably because I've spent so much of my life suppressing them.

I guess I was a angry and frustrated. Partly with myself, and some with my family because tomorrow's this party and I don't feel ready for it. I procrastinated with the cleaning, and I didn't make a game plan early in the week. I also didn't sit my family down and tell them what they needed to do. I expect people to read my mind and anticipate what I need from them, and people just don't work that way. And when it comes to Hubby and Mabel, they both need specific instructions. You can't just tell them to "clean their rooms" -- that statement just doesn't compute in their heads. It has to be "Honey, put those socks in your sock drawer." or "Sweetie, can you do me a favor and make sure the clothes on the cedar chest are hung in the closet?" Broad statements like "clean up" leave them scratching their heads wondering where to begin.

I've already discussed in earlier posts my current depressed/unenthused state. It's hard right now to find the motivation to do well when I feel sluggish and apathetic. So add this to some simmering frustration and anger, throw in a dash of self-pity, and I'm turning to food.

I wish I had some light bulb moment here, some "aha" revelation that would rock my world and propel me into a new sense of purpose and accomplishment. The truth of the matter is, I wanted to eat fried foods and cookies, so I ate them. I could have made better choices, I could have used the strategies I've built up over the years to resist the urges. But I didn't, and today I pay the price for that.

Which doesn't mean I need to beat myself up for it. I recognize it and own it, but that doesn't equal bashing and berating. I'm not a failure, or any number of mean names I could hurl at myself. I'm human, I make errors, and it's not the end of the world. It certainly isn't the end of my journey. Just a little bump.

It's still hard to own up to a weight gain, however slight. I still feel like a f*ck-up, no matter how much I try not to do that to myself. It's an old habit, wanting so hard to do everything right. Because if you screw up, it reveals your weaknesses, and us fat girls already wear one of our weaknesses like a uniform every day, so who wants to admit we have more?

I keep telling myself that this winter is soon over. My moods will improve and I'll soon be re-energized and ready to get back on track. I want to start training for a (walking) race in June -- not sure if I want to try the 5K again or leap up to the 10K. And my family and I are going to D!sney W0rld in the middle of June, and I really, really want to be in the Onederfuls when we go.

So I've got the aspirations, the things I want to achieve. I know I have no intentions of giving up. It may just take a little longer than I'd like.

Miss Worst Case Scenario

What a short warm spell we had. We're now back to the nasty weather. Cold, windy, snowy. I'm back in my long johns and two pairs of socks. Schools were cancelled again.

The bad weather coerced me into staying in bed this morning. But I redeemed myself by shoveling snow before I left for work. I'm really hungry this morning, although now that I've eaten my Cocoa Via bar, I feel a little better.

This whole week has been so darn difficult. Nothing was all that terrible; even the little annoyances weren't all that annoying. I just don't feel like I can muster up the enthusiasm for anything. Especially eating healthy. It's typical of my annual winter depression, which I was hoping to avoid, but the best I can hope for is to minimize the effects.

You know, I went for an x-ray on my neck yesterday for my 6-month appointment with my neurology surgeon on Monday, and it reminded me that I never posted on here that my mammography results came back normal. Whatever bumps I have in my lumps (sorry, I channeled the Black Eyed Peas there) don't appear to be of any concern. I'm not sure if anyone reading here even remembered about this, but I didn't want to leave that storyline hanging.

The good thing about having to get these x-rays is that I get to take them with me for the doctor's appointment. I love looking at these pictures, especially now that I've got what looks like a DYI fix-it project in my neck. The first time my hubby ever saw the x-rays he cringed at the big bracket and screws that now keep my head attached to my body. I love telling people, "I went to get my head examined yesterday to see if I have any screws loose!"

I suppose in the grand scheme of things I should be thrilled that I'm walking and shoveling and able to go control my bladder. In the days before the surgery I was terrified of having a fall or car accident and exacerbating the bone spurs in my vertebra, which would have caused spinal cord damage. Not to mention worrying that I wouldn't survive the surgery or have terrible complications from it (just call me Miss Worst Case Scenario). Everything went great, and most days I don't even think about my neck anymore.

What I've been thinking about this week is the bloat I can't seem to get rid of, and the cravings that won't go away. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but I have no confidence at all in tomorrow's weigh in. I would be shocked not to see a gain tomorrow. It's not that I've been binge eating all week; other than Wednesday evening I did well, I think. And it's not that I've been a lazy slug; I exercised four times this week and shoveled snow this morning, on top of the extra housework I'm doing to get ready for our Asian new year party. I know this sounds stupid, but I don't feel like I've lost anything; if anything, I feel fatter than ever.

This makes no sense, and I know that. Because when I look at myself in the mirror I think I look OK. In fact, I think I'm looking pretty good. So why do I feel enormous? Maybe it's all the layers of clothing I'm forced to wear in these bitter temperatures. Maybe it's due to TTOM.

All I know is, it's going to take all my strength to not start slipping up today. With the family home from school and the cold firing up my desire for comfort foods, I can feel my resolve weakening. I really don't want to: I've made this Monday-Friday rule for myself, and I don't like breaking it. Because once I start breaking one rule, then it's a second, third, and before you know it I'm out of control.

Besides, I don't want to screw up tomorrow's weigh in! Because I have to post it here, and I don't want my disappointing results plastered on the Internet. I guess that's a minor reason, but at least it's some kind of accountability I've created for myself.

I have a lot of housecleaning to do today, so I'll do my best to use that to keep me busy. My goal is to stay mindful and really stay in tune with my body. And if I do mess up? I'll just have to face the consequences and learn my lessons from it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Moving Forward

Well, I can't say I was surprised when I slipped up a little last night. On the bright side, I kept the damage to a minimum.

It all started to go downhill when the school nurse called to say Mabel's new palate spacer came loose. This medieval torture device was installed in her mouth on Monday, so this was not expected so soon. I called the orthodontist's office, who asked me to bring Mabel in as soon as she got home from school. So Hubby and I scooped her off the bus and drove to town. The orthodontist reglued the contraption back on to her molars, and then we decided to go out for supper and let Mabel pick the restaurant.

She picked a decent place that has several healthy choices, and I ordered a lemon sole with snap peas and a side salad. Sounds great, right? But the meal comes with two small rolls -- one a "snow cap" dinner roll and a little cinnamon roll. I ate the snow cap with my salad, and after my entree I ate the cinnamon roll... and then I ate my husband's cinnamon roll, too. Mabel's meal came with a large sugar cookie, which we took home... and after I helped her practice piano I ate that. A little while later, when I went out to tidy up the kitchen, I found the Oreo package and ate two cookies... and then I ate two more.

But I then hit the wall; if I ate another bite I knew my little indulgences were going to turn into a binge. So I stopped. I got myself out of the kitchen, spent time canoodling with my daughter, and I didn't eat anything else for the rest of the night.

Do I call this a victory or a screw-up? I've commented on a couple blogs a few days ago with the statement "This isn't an exam we're being graded on. We shouldn't think of our screw-ups as failures, but as learning experiences." So I'm trying my best to convince myself that I didn't "fail" last night.

It isn't helping that my husband's been having a rough week, too. He's been having lots of slip-ups -- chips when he gets home from school, cookies after supper -- and I can tell he's having feelings of failure. I've done my best to be his cheerleader, trying to support him and remind him that a few shaky days doesn't mean he should give up altogether. And bless him, he is still sticking to the low carb meals. It's just those snacks that are the trouble area.

A statement in Lori's post today really summed up what I'm going through right now, and maybe a lot of other people are, too.
"I’m tired of watching what I eat but I also don’t want to binge either. I don’t want to be sloppy — it’s not a matter of that. I can’t quite put my finger on the issue. It’s like I want to go to WW and hear “you’re down a pound” or whatever but in a way, eh. I don’t want to stand still but I seem to lack the energy to go forward at the moment. And my apathy is okay with me as long as I don’t go backwards. Reporting in here keeps me from doing anything too crazy."

I'm fighting a lot of apathy, too. I wish that food and my weight could be a non-issue for me, just for a week or two, on the condition that when I came back to dealing with it I haven't gained 20 pounds!

Vickie is discussing something similar in her post as she asks about people taking "breaks."
"Most people - I think - and I might be very wrong - when they take a "break" they do not continue eating the same. I think they are taking a break from the food plan they are on - ??????? ...While on a break, I understand that most people would try to keep the damage down to a controllable level - is this possible? And I understand that there are two things impacted here - what the break/reward does to you physically and also mentally."

I would assume most people would consider a break going back to old habits. I don't really want to go back to overeating morning, noon and night, and I don't want to return to my sedentary ways. I know I feel better when I portion out my food; I know the physical and mental benefits from the exercise I do.

I guess what I want to take a break from is calculating calories in my head all day; fretting about my morning bloat and how it affects the number on the scale; worrying that my Saturday weigh in won't show a loss. This being so damn "good" all week, which is leading me to be "bad" on the weekends.

That's what it comes down to, doesn't it? How do I break the "good" and "bad" behavior and find a healthy balance in between? That ideal situation is what I need to keep striving for, because that is the maintenance lifestyle that will keep me at a goal weight and not gain all the weight back.

Obviously I still have a lot to learn and figure out. For today, I rode my stationary bike and have eaten healthy this morning. I've written here and expressed what I'm thinking and feeling. That's the foundation of my routine, and as long as I keep those rituals, I feel confident I will keep moving forward.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Where's The Harm?

I'm trying to get the house presentable this week since we're having our first big "gathering" this weekend. If I haven't mentioned it before, my daughter is Vietnamese (I adopted her at 7 months old in 1999), so every year we celebrate Asian New Year (Tet in Vietnam) with a dinner for friends and family.

In Vietnam, Tet is a combination of New Year's, Christmas, Fourth of July, and it's when everyone celebrates turning a year older (which isn't a bad idea -- no forgetting some one's birthday!) Everyone gets new clothes, the house is thoroughly cleaned, the kids get gifts, everyone eats indulgent food, and often there are fireworks and parades.

I'll admit I do not prepare an authentic Tet meal, nor do we celebrate all the traditional Vietnamese customs of preparing food for our departed ancestors, asking the Kitchen God to bless us, etc. I know about them, though, and as Mabel gets older I plan on incorporating more cultural things into our celebrations. But for now it gets treated like most of our holidays-- a time for family and friends to get together.

Technically, Asian New Year began last weekend, but so many of my friends had late Valentine's Day plans, us included, so we pushed it back a week. Tet is actually a two-week event in Vietnam, so I didn't feel too bad about doing this.

In the beginning I was still in full martyr mode and made everything from scratch. While it was nice to expose my friends and family to Vietnamese dishes, it was a heck of a lot of work, as well as stress. Over the years I've incorporated a more laid-back approach, and now I cook a few things, but the rest is either frozen (egg rolls, dumplings) or Chinese takeout. My guests usually bring something, too. It's a compromise I'm comfortable with, and my guests have never complained.

I guess this could be related to my weight loss saga. Once I let go of my all-or-nothing, perfectionist thinking when it came to losing weight, I took a lot of stress off myself to do everything "right." While I've made some compromises (giving myself "free" days, which means taking longer to lose), in the end I'm still satisfied with the results.

Maybe it's the stress of cleaning the house and preparing for this big party/meal that has me full of overeating urges today. Miss Rational is reminding me that overeating is a no-no on a weekday, while Miss Unreasonable is scoffing and saying, "Aw, come on! Where's the harm in a couple Oreos?"

Sure, two Oreos aren't a big deal. Twenty are. And then I hit the rest of the pantry...and the freezer...and run to the convenience store before Hubby and Mabel get home...

I don't think I have the urge to go to that extreme today. But I'm leery when I get that "where's the harm" attitude in the middle of the week. I'm far enough in my journey to know there's something emotional behind it, and I feel like I'm letting myself down if I don't at least try to dig out what's pushing me towards the cookies.

The good news is, I got a second day of treadmill under my belt this morning, which makes me feel positive about myself. While I haven't weighed myself, I can tell I was expelling a lot of water retention yesterday, which always makes me feel better, too! I'm having a lot of TTOM headaches, though, which isn't so good.

More non-scale victories? I ordered shirts from the church and they arrived yesterday. I got a large sweatshirt, and when I looked at it I wondered if I misjudged my size and it would be too tight. Happily, I'm wearing it today and there's plenty of room to swim around in it.

When I worked at the paper in West Virginia there would be events and promotions when the staff would get T-shirts, and I remember the embarrassment and shame when I'd get the biggest shirt they ordered -- 2x -- and it would be tight and uncomfortable. I'm so glad those days are behind me.

The problem is, and maybe this is part of today's cravings to eat, how come I still feel the same? Now, when I look in the mirror I don't cringe in horror at my reflection, but I don't feel 130 pounds lighter. Shouldn't I be feeling different, somehow? The thing is, that was three or four years ago, so maybe I'm starting to forget how being 300+ pounds used to feel. Perhaps I had numbed myself to such an extreme that I didn't feel anything at all.

And right now it's winter and I'm bogged down with heavy, bulky sweaters, coats and boots. Not to mention TTOM! So I suppose it's no wonder I'm not feeling particularly svelte and lithe today.

A lot of the wanting food thing could have to do with simple procrastination. I know there's work I need to do around the house, but wouldn't it be more fun to distract myself with eating? Not a great habit, although it doesn't hit me as much as it used to. Hey, look, another NSV!

I'll explore this some more as I'm doing housework -- enough of using the blog as a distraction, too!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seeing Things Clearly

Feeling a little better about myself and the world in general today. Any coincidence that the TTOM started last night? On the other hand, could it have something to do with the fact that I actually got my carcass on the treadmill this morning and blew out the cobwebs?

Whatever. I think what helped a lot what reading other blogs and realizing I have a whole community of people who know what I'm going through and are here to support me. And even if they don't know me from Jane Doe, there are people out there who often help me see things more clearly.

On the AFG blog, bigassbelle made a comment that really struck home with me: "it's still a struggle and in one way, it's almost worse, because i am so happy and content with myself ~ i rant and rave about a lot of world events and such ~ i don't have that great drive and urge to get the weight off like i used to. i was convinced i would be happier with the weight off and i know it's not wholly true, but life is still better not having to haul around another 100 pounds. "

I may not be so happy and content with myself, but looking around at friends, family, acquaintances, etc., I know I fall somewhere in the upper middle on the happiness/self acceptance meter. I spent a lot of time in therapy working on this. Many people who have gotten to know me and my history have asked me over the years, "How did you turn out so normal?" And my reply has always been, "With (insert number) years of therapy." As of 2007 I've spent 22 years of my life in and out of therapy -- that's about 60 percent of my existence.

[Quick side note: I'll never forget the moment my father asked me, "What do you need to go to therapy for?" I was still a teenager at the time, and I could only stare at him dumbly, because I didn't have the nerve to say out loud, "Do you want an alphabetical or chronological list of your contributions?" I was thinking it, though. That memory always makes me smirk.]

I have worked hard over the years. I've struggled to break free from depression, chiseled away at the layers of defenses I built up around myself (fat included) and tried to figure out not only why I did this, but how to find new ways of coping. It took all those years of analyzing and delving to get myself to the point where I could finally look at the weight I was carrying around and say, "Why exactly am I hanging on to you?"

At that time I had a strong desire to lose the weight, and a lot of it came off. And now I'm reaching a point where that urgency has decreased. I found a satisfying job, I fell in love, got married, and extended my social circle. I entered a 5K race and enjoyed it. I'm beginning to buy clothes in the regular clothing section. So, like bigassbelle, while losing weight didn't give me a fairy tale life, certain aspects of my life certainly improved.

So now it comes down to a tug of war with myself and my desires. Does my wish to see 199 on the scale override my wanting a chocolate cake doughnut? Is my hankering for pizza stronger than my dream of fitting into a size 12 dress? Writing that down makes me realize how banal it all is: there are so many real problems in the world, and I'm torturing myself over junk food and numbers. It's just a pizza! And for heaven's sake, my worth as a person doesn't change if my body weight is 208 or 199. It's all so arbitrary and trivial.

Wow. I wasn't expecting this post to go in this direction. But here we are. Once again I've caught myself getting carried away with too much self-absorption and focusing on little petty things. The fact of the matter is that in general I'm taking care of myself much better than I used to. I want to continue doing that, so I need to continue the good habits I've adopted. There are moments that I eat food for pleasure instead of health, but on average the majority of my eating is balanced and mindful. I'm much more physically active than in my past. I may take a few days off for illness, etc., but on the whole I keep up a regular routine of movement. As time goes on I'm learning to stand up for my needs and I'm doing better at getting those needs met. I stay in touch with my thoughts and feelings and do my best to work them out instead of stuffing them in.

So let's quit worrying about how slowly or quickly it's going and just get on with doing it!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Give Me a Break

Yesterday was a day of snowing and blowing, and fortunately we were able to stay home and not be in it. But today there was no escaping it; for once there were no delays or cancellations, so I got everyone off to school and myself to work.

I'm sad to say I didn't work out this morning at all. Nothing. Na-da. And the shoveling I did was very minimal. I'm going to try to redeem myself by going after work and getting on the bike for 30 minutes. I've got extra motivation, too: I have to watch the last half hour of last week's episode of "Heroes" because the new one is on tonight.

I'm not really all that proud of myself right now. Sunday was just one big day of eating, and today just started off wrong. Not food wise; I didn't even eat breakfast until I got truly hungry for it, which was about 10 a.m. (a banana and a high fiber blueberry muffin). But I'm off kilter, I was disorganized and not ready to go this morning. I didn't realize Mabel had homework until 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave, and between that and my messing around with last minute things we wound up later than usual. I was in a foul mood, grumbling and cursing and being generally nasty. Fortunately Mabel wasn't traumatized by this, but then I was in control enough to not take it out on her; she even giggled at me when in the car I took a breath and said, "Gee, can you tell Mom's in a bad mood today?"

Oh yeah, did I mention this week is TTOM? I wonder if that has something to do with both my foul mood this morning and my need to feed on Sunday. I certainly won't use it as an excuse for any of my behavior, but seeing that this is my first complete cycle on the new pills, it's interesting to note.

I guess it comes down to the fact that although I try to not beat myself up about my weekend eating, deep down I'm torn about it. It's not rational, but I have this wish I was perfect and could go through life never overeating, never indulging in candy or fried food. And when I'm not perfect I have a hard time not feeling disappointed in myself. I need to be realistic. I can certainly give myself goals and work hard at being my best. But I have to remember I'm not perfect, no one is perfect, and there is no shame in that.

I also see myself so close to my big goal -- 9 more pounds until 199 -- and get frustrated how slow it's going. Then I start to criticize myself. "If I'd put more importance on losing weight than on 'treating myself' on weekends, I'd be there by now." Or "This weight would be coming off a lot faster if I'd be more vigilant with this exercise. I should be working out 90 minutes a day, and I'm not doing enough."

Then I get jolted with a different perspective. I had two -- 2!-- comments on my Saturday post calling me an inspiration. ME?!? The wildest part is that the two people who said this are people I look up to immensely for their dedication to exercise and weight loss. How in the world can they see me as an inspiration? They obviously are not focusing on my flaws and are looking at
my overall accomplishments. I need to learn how to do that better.

Because yes, I can criticize myself all day that three years later I'm not at goal and still struggling with food and exercise. But could I have even imagined that I would still be at it three years later? Losing 129 pounds just isn't done by a lot of people, especially a person without surgery, without a paid membership to some weight loss group, without a personal trainer, chef or nutritionist. It's slow, but at least it is. Because the alternative would have me shooting back up and orbiting around 300 pounds, with health problems heading right for me like a meteor shower.

Okay, now that I've talked myself "off the ledge," I feel a little better about the whole thing. These mood swings are normal, especially at TTOM, and I just have to brace myself and work through them.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Date Night

I had the best day yesterday.

We went to Pittsburgh for our post-Valentine dinner, but we left early so we could do a little shopping. We found Pittsburgh's first Trader Joe's (it just opened a few months ago) and it was a little hit or miss. I couldn't find the light cheddar cheese sticks that I had purchased at the Washington, D.C. TJ's in October, which was a bummer, because I'm out and they had a good calorie and fat count. I did find my Fage Greek yogurt, which is completely fat free but incredibly smooth and creamy. It's really quite amazing. I also stocked up on their super fibery muffins and found a new flavor -- cranberry and pomegranate -- and am going to try to freeze them. I also found some yummy-looking tri-layered hummus I'm going to dole out to myself with the new fiber-laden crackers I found earlier in the week. I'll admit I bought some snacking food for this weekend -- some artisan bread with cheese and chiles in it, some soy and flax seed veggie tortilla chips and a wee container of 5-layer Mexican dip -- but I'll split them with my mother.

Since we couldn't find everything we were looking for, we made another stop at Whole Foods. There I found my House Foods Shirataki noodles that are made from tofu and yam flour. Almost completely carb free, and a whole bag is only 40 calories. The things last forever, so I grabbed six bags!

The highlight of the night was dinner. The Thai restaurant was on the small side and we got a nice cozy table in the back. The food was great, and we got shared everything. Those exotic flavors send me over the edge -- coconut, lemongrass, ginger, curry, Thai basil. We had a wonderful time comparing dishes and figuring out how we could recreate it at home. It was a food fest, but definitely a high-quality one.

The best part was having an evening to ourselves -- no child, no parents, no friends. Just the two of us, which was normal when we were first dating but has become a rare occurrence lately. Walnut Street was a little slick with the snow, so it gave an excuse to hold hands. I mentioned to him that we hardly do that anymore, and his response was, "What's wrong with us?" I reminded him that our daughter has it in her head that if we kiss or even touch hands we're going to "make babies," and she does NOT want any babies in our house!

Yes, it was a food-centric day, but the most important parts were the talking, the sharing, the laughing, and the time together. We definitely need more of that.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Week Twenty Weigh In

All right, I did a little bit better than expected -- down half a pound to 208. I'm actually very happy with this, considering the week I had -- very little cardio, my nightly dark chocolate snacks. If I can still knock off half a pound after two weeks of very little physical activity (although I shouldn't dis' the snow shoveling), that's a victory in my eyes.

It also dawned on me that I'm less than 10 pounds away from the Onederfuls. Wow. Nine more pounds and I'm at 199. It's getting so close!

Another milestone is in one more pound -- at 207 I'll be 130 pounds lighter than my all-time heaviest, 337. I was reading in a magazine yesterday that a diet motivator is to lift weights with the amount of weight you've lost so far. Okay, that's great if you've lost, like, 10 pounds, but there's no way I'm lifting 130! My arms would fall off like SpongeBob Squarepants.

Mentioning SpongeBob, I had another reference to him this week. I went out to dinner with my mom, and when I took my coat off, she looked at me funny and said, "You look so tiny on top!" Well, being the Eeyore, the first image that flew across my mind was of SpongeBob's friend Squidward when he got addicted to Crabby Patties and ate hundreds of them. It all went to his thighs, and it's one of the most grotesque-looking things I've ever seen on a cartoon. It was his normal torso with these enormous, gelatinous, cellulite-ridden tentacles. Yes, I wondered if I had Crabby Patty thighs. I'm so sick in the head. [If you're not a regular SpongeBob viewer, I apologize for this diversion]

I got over that image, though. In fact, I was quite pleased with these legs of mine this week as I did the stability ball exercises. I got a good look at them as I did some of the sets, and there is some good muscle tone in those thighs and calves. It's important to see the good things, the improvements I've made, instead of worrying about the flaws and imperfections. I'm never going to be Beyonce on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but I'm the best Andrea I can be right now.

Just so you know, I'm still adding old posts to 2004. I make comments on most of them, and I know I'm finding it very interesting observing myself in the beginning.

By the way, today is my THIRD ANNIVERSARY since starting this weight loss saga. Like most of the long-timers I read (Diet Girl, Pasta Queen, etc.), I thought I'd be all done by now and living my carefree life of maintenance at this point. But we've all learned this process works on its own timetable. But I think when it takes longer, the results are also longer-lasting. If some fairy godmother granted me a wish and I lost 150 pounds in one month, I have a feeling I would have gained it all back within 1-2 years. Why? Because I wouldn't have learned anything. I wouldn't have learned how to eat healthier, to work through the cravings, to bounce back from the binges. Yes, I've regained some and had to re-lose it, but those were some of the hard lessons I had to take.

This Too Shall Pass

Last night actually went pretty well. Supper was turkey chili, I measured out two cups' worth and that was it. I finished off the last of my dark chocolate stash -- two pieces of Ghirardelli that came in a big bag that I gave to my mother as a Valentine's gift. She's really into the high percentage cacao(60 to 80 percent is her thing), and these ranged from 60 to 70. There are three varieties in the bag -- mint, espresso and a "twilight" flavor that was the most intense -- and individually wrapped, which makes it a little easier to stick to smaller portions. Of all the dark chocolate I ate this week, it was the smallest amount but definitely the best quality. Not sure of the calories on these, but I'm guessing 100-150 calories for the two pieces. By the way, the espresso was my favorite.

Bailed out again on the gym this morning, but I did the stability ball and a little shoveling. I feel like such a bum, but I just couldn't take the thought of the -15 degree wind chill. I will be so glad when this deep freeze goes away and I can get myself back into routine. I was afraid this was going to happen when I left my gym behind in the old house -- that it was going to make it easier for me to skip exercising -- but at least the overriding feeling is I can't wait to get back to it, rather than dreading it. And it's some consolation that I'm getting up and doing something -- at least the urge to do some kind of exercise is still in place. But I cannot wait until our basement is fixed up and I can just hop down the stairs for my cardio.

Better yet, I'm looking forward to warmer weather and returning to my outside walks. My sister-in-law and I would do our morning three-mile walks and not only get some decent exercise, but vent all our problems and stress for the day ahead.

Until then, I've got to keep layering up in my long underwear and covering every inch of flesh I possibly can when I venture outside. It's such a drawn out drama every time you want to leave the house, so I do it as little as possible. It's so easy to get depressed at this time of year, so easy to curl up on the couch with a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies and doze off in a sugary, fat-laden haze.

I have to remember as I approach my weigh in tomorrow that my body's still getting accustomed to this new medicine, too, and it's PMS week, so I shouldn't be surprised if there's a little water retention. If I have gained anything this week, I expect it to be within that 2-pound water gain range that I've been told is a normal fluctuation. Because my clothes don't feel tight, I don't feel like I'm ballooning out of control, so I don't expect anything disastrous.

The past two weeks have definitely given me a glimpse into the future world of maintenance, still doing most of the work that I did while I was losing weight, but not getting the reward of a downward movement on the scale. It's also very obvious how important exercise is to my program and how essential it is to get my metabolism going and burn off some of these calories. Because clearly I'm not a natural "burner"; at the very most I can achieve a slow simmer.

I've already mentioned that we're going to Pittsburgh tomorrow for my Valentine dinner. Hubby let it slip and told me we're doing Thai food, which has me very excited, because it's one of my all-time favorites. We're also making a Trader Joe's stop, and I've been compiling my list of must-find foods. We have so little variety and choice where I live, so to be able to go to an area that provides alternative, unusual and exotic foods is a real treat. And I can feel good about it because a lot of the things I'm looking for are healthy foods. I get recommendations all the time from Hungry Girl for things that are available at TJ's, and I only get to one once or twice a year, so I make every visit count.

Sunday's an unknown: I'm going to try to beg off on running around and eating out after being in Pittsburgh all day Saturday, but it may fall on deaf ears. Apparently it's a crime against humanity if we don't spend every single Sunday with the in-laws, but when you do it every single week, it isn't a "treat" anymore; it becomes a chore. Hubby will not be happy if he actually ever sees this blog, but it's how I feel. I never had high maintenance parents -- my mother's so laid back she's almost backwards, and I only see my dad maybe half a dozen times a year, and that's estimating on the high side. So I'm not used to this constant need to be together, and I don't know if I'll ever be totally comfortable with it.

You're probably noticing, and I am, too, that I'm not making a weekend game plan. I guess I don't really have one and don't feel like making one. I'm not sure if this lackadaisical attitude is good or bad; on the one side I could be worrying that I'm moving into the "I don't give a sh*t" mode and will soon start overeating regularly. But I'm also seeing that it's a move towards patience. This cold and snow will soon pass, and this adjustment time with the medicine will pass, too. I know I'll be on my routine Monday morning as sure as I know I'll be going to work (no, I don't get Presidents' Day off). I may not lose weight again this week, but I know I didn't gain a lot, either. I'll get my exercise full throttle again, and eventually this and the healthy eating will pay off. I just need to bide my time and soldier through this bitterly cold month, and soon Spring, warmer weather and happier moods will return.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Queen of Indulgences

Well, I survived Valentine's Day. Hubby was very sweet and had half a dozen roses sent to my office. When I got home there was more in store: two cards (he always gets me one funny one and one mushy one), ear muffs like his that I had been coveting, the box of peanut butter meltaways, and a pair of beautiful earrings with pearls and little teeny diamonds. That wasn't all: he helped Mabel get me a cute card and a necklace with three pink topaz hearts. "They stand for me, you and Daddy," she told me. Very, very sweet.

And let me tell you I never opened the candy and put them away in the spare bedroom closet where they will be out of sight until the weekend.

I have to confess here that I did a bad thing. When it came to my Valentine's gift for Hubby, I behaved; I got him the wooden tool box he had been drooling over (to put his fly tying paraphernalia in), and since he's on his low-carb diet, a couple containers of smokehouse almonds. But when I took Mabel shopping, she wanted to get Daddy something sweet, candy or cookies. She wound up picking out the double stuffed Ore0s, his favorite cookie. When she was picking them out I tried to tell her that Daddy's on his diet and his next free days aren't until next weekend, so it was kind of mean to give him sweet stuff. Her reply? "Aw, come on, it's Valentine's Day, give him permission to eat them!"

I love the fact that she thinks I'm the diet disciplinarian in the house. The Queen of Indulgences: I sit on my throne and decide who can eat junk food and when. In a way it's true; when it comes to Mabel I do make the rules about eating healthy food first, and then having a treat. She must assume I should take on the same responsibility with Daddy.

I did have the power to tell her no, no cookies for Daddy. But I didn't. I let her get them for him, and when she gave them to him yesterday, he couldn't stop himself and ate some. But after a few he pushed them away and said if he didn't stop he'd eat them all. So I packed them up and hid them with my candy.

Was I giving him a little bit of his own medicine by doing this? A little revenge for all the temptations he waves under my nose? In some passive aggressive way I think I did, and I'm not very proud of it. I did do my best to try and redeem myself by helping him hide them, but they really shouldn't have been in the house in the first place.
As for the rest of the day, again I really struggled with the food. At supper I ate more vegetables than I really should have: caramelized shallots that tasted like heaven, and an Au gratin spaghetti squash that Hubby made and wasn't crazy about, but I liked it. He used some of my Egg Beaters, a little parmesan, some Dijon mustard and some low fat buttermilk, and I really liked it. A little too much. I find myself trying to rationalize this behavior because it's vegetables and not meat or bread, but I still ate until I was full, not simply satisfied.
And once again I hit my dark chocolate stash. Like last night it was a controlled portion, 4 pieces of my Special Dark miniatures and about 200 calories total, but it still felt like I was teetering on the edge of oblivion.
As for exercise, it was below zero with the wind chills this morning and I chickened out on going out to my treadmill or bike. I did the stability ball again, and then I busted my hump big time shoveling a path from the house to my car. The snow was heavy and deep, and by the time I came back inside to get Mabel, I was panting and sweated through. So although I feel guilty about not getting myself out to work out, I know I'm still getting some physical activity in other ways.
I don't feel good about my impending weigh in on Saturday, though. Like last week, I feel like I'm not putting in enough exercise, but this week the food has been a lot sloppier. It's my PMS week on my new pills, so maybe that has something to do with it. Along with the time of year, the horrible weather, the chocolate-laden holiday, dealing with my and Mabel's illnesses. If I'm lucky I'll maintain again, but I wouldn't be shocked if it was up a pound or two. I don't know, because once again I've not been weighing myself daily. I'll just have to wait until Saturday and see what happens.
Could it be the lack of weighing that's leading me to sloppy eating? Because I don't have that number floating in my head every morning, maybe I'm not as driven to resist the urges to overeat? It's an interesting thought.
I'm on call all day today waiting for the Sears guy to come and do yearly maintenance on my exercise bike. It's bad enough that you're told they're coming sometime between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., but in my case the bike is still in the garage at the old house, so it makes it even more complicated. The guy is supposed to call me on the cell phone when he's on his way, and he better, or this is going to be one major screw-up. Oh well, just add it to the list of other screwed up things.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Weight and Marriage

As predicted, all the schools were cancelled. It turns out I would have had Mabel home today anyway because she woke up with a fever of 101.5. I think she caught the cold I'm now recovering from, but if this fever doesn't go away by tomorrow I may call the doctor.

I was also not meant to go work out this morning. Between the nasty weather and Mabel waking up at 5:30 in utter misery, motherly and household duties came first. However, in between taking temperatures and giving Tylenol I did manage to most of my stability ball exercises. And my getting to work preparations was a workout in itself. Shoveling was quite the exertion with all the heavy, sleety junk on my front steps; my upper body got quite the workout scraping all the thick ice off my car; and walking in that sloppy, thick, slippery snow/sleet was an exercise in balance and control. It wasn't an extended cardio workout, but I definitely wasn't lounging around in bed like some people in my house!

Anyway, enough martyrdom. I made it to work and doubt I'll see/hear from many people today. The whole region is pretty much shut down and most people will be busy digging and scraping themselves out today. I pity the florists today, attempting to deliver Valentine flowers to people on these dodgy roads. I reminded Hubby this morning that he needs to call his florist, because he had scheduled flowers to be delivered to Mabel at school today, and that has to be rearranged.

As for my Valentine's Day, we'll exchange cards and gifts, but the big meal will be Saturday in Pittsburgh. I had to snicker at Vickie's comment yesterday:
"Your husband would TRULY buy you candy? Has he not been paying attention????"

I'm pretty much 100 percent sure he got me candy because I saw a box of my favorite kind poorly hidden (sitting on a shelf in an open paper bag) in the den when I was cleaning it a few days ago. I don't know if he'll wait until Saturday to give me the candy or if he'll deliberately torture me by giving it to me today.

As to the question of his paying attention, he hears me, but I don't think he can fully understand where I'm coming from. I tell him the metaphor of giving an alcoholic a bottle of bourbon or a recovering smoker a carton of Marlboros for Christmas, but he must think I'm exaggerating or joking.

I think Lori got close to the truth of what's going on in her post yesterday on Angry Fat Girlz:
"Edward Abramson, Ph.D., author of 'To Have and To Hold,' notes unhappily married women gained an average of 42 pounds in 13 years.'A man often wants his wife to stay fat even as he tells her to lose weight,' says the University of California at Chico psychology professor. 'If she stays fat, it's OK for him to be fat,' or keep up bad habits."

Hubby has never told me to lose weight; he has been as attracted to me at 208.5 as he was at 280, my highest weight in my regain after I met him. So I can't say he gives me mixed messages, i.e. "you should really lose some weight/eat this chocolate cake with me."

I think my weight loss makes him anxious. As Lori said so well, "We're going in another direction. It might be frightening to see that and wonder what the status quo is in our relationship." My body is changing, which means my mind might be changing, too. And what does that mean about my feelings for him? Are they changing, too?

I don't know if it's a common phenomenon everywhere, but I remember even as a kid my parents and their friends talking about some woman losing weight, and the immediate reaction was to wonder if 1) she was having an affair or 2) would soon be on the hunt for a new man.

I guess it ties in to what Lori also mentioned in the AFG post, that according to one British study, weight gain during marriage = contentment. Which would correlate to weight loss = marital discontent. As for me, it's a toss-up: I started losing weight when I was utterly single and met Hubby after I'd already lost a considerable amount of weight (about 100 pounds from my all-time heaviest). Then I met, fell in love and got engaged to him, and by the end of our honeymoon I gained 50 pounds back. Was that contentment? I always attribute it more to the stress and adjustment I was going through, but a little bit of it was the knowledge that this guy loved me and was physically attracted to me just the way I was, and even when I gained.

But I don't think I got back to losing weight because of discontent in my marriage. I was just getting back on track to tackling the issues I began to face when I was single. Granted, being married has added some new elements, but the crucial thing is learning new coping skills: facing and working through my emotions instead of comforting and numbing myself with food.

So, if/when I get candy, I have two options. I can thank him and put them away for the weekend, or I can give him the "don't buy me binge foods" speech again. I don't know if either one really helps the situation.

Just so you know, I managed to get through yesterday without any binge eating. At dinner I had a salad with lo-cal dressing, a small cup of baked beans, broiled salmon, steamed broccoli, and for dessert I had a small piece of bread pudding. I then came home and got into my dark chocolate and ate 7 pieces at approximately 260 calories. It wasn't the best eating in the world, but it was contained and not out of control. I still have some anxiety bubbling under the surface here, though, and I really need to get to the bottom of it and weed it out. Because I don't want to commit any Valentine's Day Massacres in my kitchen! I'll let you know what I figure out.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! (By the way, I have the title of today's post going through my head to the melody of the song "Love and Marriage": "Weight and marriage, ... go together like a horse and carriage ..."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Accountability Has Its Benefits

We're in the early stages of a big snowfall -- the weather man is calling for about a foot of snow. Schools in the county are being dismissed early today, and it's questionable if there will be school tomorrow.

Hubby and Mabel are in different schools, but usually they cancel at the same time, so if there's no school he can stay home with her and it keeps me from rearranging things for work. But the downside is that I lose my afternoon quiet time. The TVs are blaring, Hubby's asking me every 15 minutes where something is (is this a universal male thing, or is my husband the only one who can't seem to look for anything without assistance?) and Mabel seems to think it's my job to be her short order cook. And that's when the two of them aren't pushing each others' buttons or roughhousing in the living room.

The good news is, I finally got myself up and out of the house this morning and did my 30-minute treadmill walk. There was a moment when I was tempted to turn off the alarm and roll over, but then I realized two things: 1. I wouldn't actually get any more sleep because the next 30 minutes is interrupted every six minutes by Hubby's alarm and snooze button and 2. If I didn't get myself back into routine ASAP I would be treading into dangerous territory -- weight gain territory! So I knew the only thing to do was to get up and take care of business.

This week's going to be a tough one. Tonight a local restaurant is having a school night, where 20 percent of your bill goes to our parent-teacher organization to fund field trips, etc. It's one of those steak houses with a big salad bar buffet with loads of delicious stuff. Wednesday is Valentine's Day, and I suspect Hubby got me some of my favorite candy, chocolate-covered peanut butter meltaways. And Saturday he's taking me to Pittsburgh for a surprise dinner.

I know I have the skills to maneuver these events, at least the weekday ones. I've been to this steak house before and eaten mindfully, and the candy can always wait until the weekend. But there's this disturbing little voice in the back of my head saying, "Aw, come on, who wants to work so hard all the time? Just eat what you want, it's Valentine's Day week, you can always catch up later."

I know this voice. It's a deceptive little devil, and if I give in to it, before you know it I'll be overeating regularly and sliding down the slippery slope to relapse. Because it won't just be Valentine's Day week (and come on, who ever heard of celebrating it for a whole week?), it'll be the rest of the month, then the rest of spring, and by the time summer arrives I won't be getting rid of last year's summer clothes as I plan on doing, I'll be just squeezing into them.

Knowing this, I start to fill with anxiety. "I'm losing it. I've been doing so well, and now my foundation is starting to crumble. First the exercise suffers, and now I'm tempted to overeat during the week. I'm on the road to falling off the wagon!"

It's a good thing I have this blog right now, and I'm admitting this not only to myself, but to my devoted readers. Of course I don't want to let myself down, but then I start thinking, "What is Vickie going to say if I blow it? Lori will be so disappointed if I say 'the hell with it' all week." I know all the experts say you have to lose weight for yourself, not for anyone else. But external accountability has its benefits. It keeps me honest, and it gives me some outside perspective that I definitely need right now. If Hubby was telling me what I told you above, I know I'd try to give him support and encouragement to keep him from stumbling. So why shouldn't I seek that for myself?

Just hashing this out is relieving some of the anxiety. Knowing I have that support is comforting, and looking back at what's making me anxious, I can see how manageable it is. I am getting back on track with exercising; these upcoming weekday events are not insurmountable; it isn't that much work; and I am not falling off the wagon! Just stay in the moment, listen to your body, feel your feelings and work through them. Overeating is not the answer to any of this.

All right, I have to get going. Hubby and Mabel will be home soon, and I'm sure there's some snow to shovel at my house. If you're in the mid-Atlantic region, enjoy the snow, if you can!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Tale of Three Winters

This morning I woke up at 5 a.m. with a nose completely stuffed and just couldn't bring myself to drag my carcass outside and get on a treadmill. After dozing for another half an hour, I did manage to get up and do my stability ball exercises, which I also did Saturday. I do plan to go to my "satellite gym" after work today and do my first post-cold cardio. I'm going to take it easy; I have my mystery novel and plan on riding the stationary bike instead of a full-throttle power walk on the treadmill.

I have to be honest and admit this weekend was pretty darn poor food-wise. Saturday I ran all day and overate, and Sunday I stayed home all day and still overate, so I really have no excuses other than I wanted to eat. I had a few moments of guilt over this, but I also tried to give myself some perspective by looking back at the last two winters and how I did:

2005: I had just gotten engaged and unofficially moved in with my fiancee. This stress, although good, sent me into my lapse where I proceeded to regain 50 pounds by the time I came home from my honeymoon. That winter I could not stop eating; almost each afternoon was a "comfort me" eating spree.

2006: I was now married and settling in to our first home together. Things were calming down, although I was still dealing with that transitional first year of marriage. I was dealing with some seasonal depression despite beginning some light therapy in the mornings. In the fall of '05 I had managed to knock off the 50 I had regained, but in the winter months of '06 I had a lot of problems with overeating and kept gaining and losing the same 10-15 pounds. Weekends were the worst, but a lot of weeks my bad eating would slop into Monday or Tuesday, or I'd start early on Thursday or Friday.

2007: I knocked off another 20-25 pounds in the fall/early winter of '06 and had the best mindful eating over the holidays that I've ever had. Despite the stress of moving into a new home right after Christmas and my daughter having surgery, the winter seasonal depression symptoms are markedly less (almost nonexistent) due to increased light therapy time. Overeating is occurring on weekends, but Monday through Friday my routines (food and exercise) are right on target, and I continue to slowly lose weight.

While I could really beat myself up about this weekend eating, looking back at my past few winters, I can see that I'm making progress. I am definitely not perfect and see lots of room for improvement, but I have to realize that I'm going through an evolution of sorts. Since 2004 I have been gradually morphing from a morbidly obese, sedentary, compulsive binge eater into a person who weighs considerably less (I'm not going to kid myself that I'll ever reach "thin" -- slightly overweight, maybe, but never skinny), is much more physically active, and is learning to eat mindfully. There are still some remnants of that old person lurking in my head, but as each year progresses, the new habits are exerting more and more influence over me.

Am I disappointed that every weekend winds up being about eating? Sure. Am I proud of myself that every Monday I get myself back on track? You bet! Am I frustrated that it's taking so long to hit the Onederfuls? Sometimes. Am I thrilled that I'm getting closer to it instead of moving farther back up the 200s? YES!

So here I am, another Monday, another week, another chance to take care of myself. And if I can keep it up, maybe I'll make it through this winter and be even closer to my Onederful goal.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Week Nineteen Weigh In

Nineteen has always been my special number. I was born on the 19th, as was my grandmother and a number of friends. I have always lived on or near a road with the number 19 in it. I've even had a telephone number that was xxx-1919! If I get an airline ticket and the flight or row number includes a 19, I feel much better about it. I don't know if I consider it lucky, but it definitely appears again and again in my life.

So you'd think I'd get on here today saying wow, it's the nineteenth week, and guess what, I lost 19 pounds! Um, no. In fact, I've stayed exactly the same as last week -- 208.5. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that I didn't gain with the two day eating fest on Saturday and Sunday and the lack of exercise this week. The cold has not gotten worse, but it's just kind of hanging around, stuffing me up and making me feel worn out.

I guess I'll just chalk it up to a sick week and set my sights for Week 20. I'll rest this weekend, try my darnedest not to binge, and hopefully on Monday I'll be back to exercising and burning off those calories.

Gotta' go; Mabel's finally going back to gymnastics after a three-week absence due to her surgery. Everybody try to keep warm!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Do You Know The Secret?

Did you watch Opr9h yesterday? It was about "The S3cret" and included a panel of people called "The Teachers" who are on the DVD also called "The S3cret."

Here's a list of what it entails (from a website I found when I did a search):

Harness The Law of Attraction to Improve Your Life Right Now!
You're about to discover the amazing power of The Law of Attraction and how it impacts
your personal growth, spirituality, prosperity and success. Throughout these six easy-to-
understand, easy-to-implement lessons, you'll learn how to...

Master The Law of Attraction & apply it to your life right now...

Focus your mind with laser-beam intensity so you can achieve any goal...

Turn any adversity into an even greater success...

Find out who you are & answer the age-old question "what's it all about?"

Understand what self-sabotage is & how to stop it instantly...

Tap the hidden reservoir of positive energy that surrounds us all...

I watched this show yesterday and admit I was interested. Hubby was home, and as expected, he had several derisive comments about it. Admittedly, a few of the Teachers were a little too New Agey for me, but the message they were delivering is something I believe I've already tuned into.

But I didn't figure this out through The S3cret. Just last night I typed in an old journal entry about the first time I saw Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention. I was just beginning to start this weight loss/get control of my eating journey when I saw this on PBS, and I truly believe it helped me with all the success I've had.

It comes down to this: if you produce positive thoughts and energy, positive things will come back to you. You can't be open to change and be able to receive new things in your life if you can't let go of the old negative thoughts and habits that have held you back.

My Hubby's main complaint about this show was, in so many words,"Why do people need these so-called experts to figure this out?"

I tried to explain to him that many of us get so bogged down with the past, the day to day aggravations and worries about the future that a lot of what he might consider common sense gets lost in the shuffle. There are a lot of us (him included!) that sometimes need someone to smack them over the head with what they should have realized all along.

I'm not saying everyone should run out and buy "The Secret" DVD, or anything written by Wayne Dyer. I think there are lots of ways to get back in touch with yourself and learn how to live in the moment and think in a positive way: meditation, religion, therapy, 12 step groups. There are lots of options, and one method won't work for everyone.

All right, let me get down from the pulpit now and tell you the other event that polarized my evening was the surprising death of Anna N!cole Sm!th. It's such a tragic story, and while I wouldn't consider myself a big fan of hers, I always felt bad about the train wreck that was her life and wished she could have pulled it together. My other thought was that the owners of Tr!m Spa must be sweating it right now, hoping the autopsy doesn't show that their "diet pills" didn't contribute to her death. I'm not all that concerned about them pulling it together, though; if the stuff's dangerous it needs to be yanked off the shelves.

I've made it all week without getting on the scale. So I have no friggin' clue what I'm going to see tomorrow morning. It'd be great to see a loss, but with only two days of exercise this week, I'm skeptical. The eating has been good, though, and I've resisted the "I have a cold so I want grilled cheese sandwiches" thoughts. So I'll just have to accept whatever comes and keep moving on.

This weekend is another two-day freebie for Hubby, but he told me yesterday he does not intend on going as crazy as he did last time. We don't have any specific plans, but as we all know, that doesn't mean something won't crop up at the last minute. I'm sure there will be one or two meals out, so I'll just have to roll with it and make the best choices I can. Maybe I'll get lucky and this cold will develop into the "I can't smell or taste a thing" stage, which is perfect for someone trying to avoid tempting foods. I always think it's a massive waste to eat "decadent" food if I can't taste it, so I stick to really simple things. See, there are positives in almost anything!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Few Days Off

There's no denying it -- I have a cold.

But after loading myself up with hot tea and a decongestant this morning, I'm actually not feeling too badly. I can still tell I'm not 100 percent, though.

I didn't exercise yesterday, and I don't plan on it today. I've read that exercising can actually make you sicker when you're ill, so I'm just taking it easy until I feel better. Of course, I start worrying that if I'm not doing cardio every day I'm going to blow up like a balloon, and I'm already preparing for the worst for this week's weigh in. All I can do is be as mindful as possible with the food, and soon this will pass and I'll be back on track again.

I was sorely tempted to get on the scale this morning, but I resisted. Hubby must be checking his weight regularly, however, because I keep putting it out of sight and it keeps reappearing each morning. I think his current weight loss total is 7 pounds, which is great. He says he can already tell the difference and notices he feels better. My hope is that he can stick with it for a while. He still hasn't signed up for the gym yet (he said he was going to Feb. 1), and I'm sure if he started working out he'd lose even more. So every few days I ask him if he's done it yet. Hopefully he'll soon get sick of my reminders and go do it.

But I know how hard it is to get started on a fitness routine. Even though today I feel like an important part of my day is missing if I don't exercise, it wasn't long ago that I dreaded the thought of it and couldn't imagine liking it. Most of us have (or once had) tapes and equipment that seemed so good at first, then wound up collecting dust or turned into a drying rack for our laundry. We all have procrastinated, come up with our excuses and told ourselves we'd start over tomorrow, next week, or next month.

I don't feel superior because I've made exercise a habit and a pleasurable part of my life. Lord knows I have lots of other areas of my life that could use plenty of improvements. I feel lucky that I've found a way to alter my old, very sedentary way of life into a more active one that I enjoy. What I find most surprising is how other people think I've got this super human willpower and motivation to do it. I know darn well I'm not any more motivated than anyone else. The key was what I mentioned above -- making it a habit. It took time, but now it's as normal a part of my day as brushing my teeth or brushing my hair. No one who flosses daily is described as having incredible willpower, are they?

I really don't know where I'm going with this. Maybe I'm trying to reassure myself that if I take a few days off because I'm sick, it doesn't mean I'm going to quit or have a hard time getting back to it. I've managed to start back up after surgery, so I'm sure a little cold isn't going to completely derail me.

I'm going to try to get back online this afternoon and type in a few more old journal entries from 2004. It's been great so far looking back to the very beginning of this adventure and seeing what's changed and what hasn't. You're more than welcome to go to my 2004 archives and check it out.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Let's Do The Time Warp Again!

OK, the grand experiment has begun.

Check my archives for 2004. I've started entering my handwritten journal entries, and in the comment section I've added my two cents' worth as an older, wiser and much smaller self!

I hope you enjoy it. If not, write and complain!

Cold, colds, and cold turkey

Well, it was a little warmer today -- this morning it was actually above zero! -- but the weather man said this morning there's a chance we may never see 32 degrees for the whole month of February. Nooooooo!!!

I woke up this morning with a scratchy throat, so I'm now worried I'm coming down with a cold. I'm tempted to try my sister's pre-cold knockout treatment, which worked for her last week, but I don't know if I have the nerve. First she gargled with peroxide -- ewww -- and then ate/swallowed six raw cloves of garlic. Yikes.

I hate being sick, but then who doesn't? Since 1999 being ill really hasn't been allowed with a child in my house. Little kids could care less about your temperature or body aches or chills. They need cups of juice and constant entertainment and reminders not to stick metallic objects in electrical devices. The funny thing is, this hasn't improved since I got married; instead of my work being cut in half, I now have a second, bigger kid in the house who asks a dozen times a day where something is, overflows the sink with dirty dishes and leaves his socks on the floor. I understand this is a common phenomenon, but it makes being sick even more difficult because if you do lay flat on your back and do nothing around the house, the amount of housework multiplies exponentially.

So maybe I'll have to bite the bullet -- and the garlic cloves.

Being sick doesn't help with losing weight. I've never been one of those people who can lose five pounds when I'm ill -- I'm much more likely to gain five. Number one, I'm not moving at all and my metabolism completely stops; in fact, I wonder if mine actually goes in reverse and adds calories to my body. Second, when I don't feel well the comfort food alert goes off in my head. I want warm, soft, yummy foods. Not all of them are inherently unhealthy -- when I have a sore throat I crave Chinese hot and sour soup, which isn't terrible -- but there are lots of other ones that aren't so great. And Hubby really gets into cooking a sick loved one comfort food -- he takes special requests and everything (hence my daughter's batch of cookies last weekend).

And let's not even go into the whole aversion to doctors and medical tests. A sure sign that I'm really sick is when I'm eager to call for an appointment.

It'd be nice to nip this thing in the bud and get rid of it quickly. I'm trying to drink lots of antioxidant green tea with cranberry and pomegranate, and I keep thinking about that peroxide/garlic treatment.

I must mention here that I haven't weighed myself since Sunday. After the weekend blow-out I was afraid to -- afraid to see the water retention damage and not wanting to bash myself for it. I know it's bad to be in a state of denial about your weight and when you don't keep track of it, it's likely to creep up on you. But the experts also say it isn't all that great to weigh yourself too often, either. I've gotten into the habit of weighing myself every day, and it has its pros and cons. It keeps me mindful, but sometimes I think I tend to fixate on the number too much.

What I've noticed the last three days since I haven't weighed myself is this anxiety that I don't know what I weigh right now. I have this feeling of uneasiness and insecurity, which is kind of sad, I think, to have my identity and emotional balance so dependent on a number. It's also kind of disturbing that I feel like I'm a junkie in withdrawal, going cold turkey from the scale.

Even though this causes some discomfort, I'm going to try not to weigh myself until Saturday, which is my weekly weigh in. I would really like to get myself weaned off the daily weighings, but at the same time I want to make sure I am keeping mindful of my body. So hopefully this will be a good balance. That's the big goal, isn't it? I'm always seeking balance in my life.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Monday was kind of a detox day, at least in the amount of fluid I ingested. I didn't really intend to flush out my system; it's just so bloody buggery cold here that all I could think to eat and drink was soup and hot tea. If you're wondering how cold "bloody buggery" is, the ambient (disregarding wind chill) high temperature yesterday was 5 degrees F. This morning when I came into work it was -5 degrees. Schools are cancelled because it's too dangerous to have the kids standing out at the bus stops, plus some of the buses won't even run because the diesel fuel is gelling up in their tanks!

So by the end of the day I felt waterlogged. I definitely spent a good amount of time in the loo eliminating it, too. The only problem with this is, I've always had a stomach that doesn't agree well with hot liquids. I remember being a kid and drinking hot chocolate in the morning, and without fail my stomach would be upset shortly afterwards. I don't know if this is a documented thing, but it's one of my many foibles. But right now I'm just too darn cold to worry about my stomach; the warm tea cup feels so good on my hands, and it does seem to help warm me up. I just have to deal with a seasick feeling.

The other cleansing thing I wound up doing yesterday was trying flax seeds. My mother-in-law read an article in one of my "health" magazines about the benefits of flax seeds and went out and bought a big bag of them. She brought me a container of them, and they've been sitting in my kitchen for about a week. I know they're an excellent source of Omega 3s and a great fiber source, and it's supposed to be good for the cardivascular system, the skin, the colon, even weight loss, so I finally decided to try some. I ground it up a little with a mortar and pestle, but it didn't work too well, so I wound up having to chew it really well before swallowing. I ate a tablespoon of the seeds with my lunch (beef vegetable soup), and the biggest thing I noticed afterward was how full I felt. Once the seeds are opened and come in contact with fluid, the lignan (I'm not sure if I have that term right, but it's the fiber inside) swells up a lot. That in itself is a selling point for me.

So I'm going to keep trying flax and see how I feel. Today I ground a tablespoon up in our coffee grinder that we set aside for herbs, nuts, etc., and I'm going to mix it up with my lunch again.

I didn't go work out again this morning. I just can't bring myself to go outside when the temperature's so low. Yesterday I made up for it by going after work and riding the bike for 45 minutes while I watched the episode of "Medium" I taped last week. This afternoon the plan is to treadmill while I watch last night's episode of "Heroes." It doesn't feel right going in the afternoons; yesterday I got home and was so exhausted that I laid down and took a nap. But maybe the bone chilling cold had something to do with it, too. Nevertheless, my need for exercise is overtaking any urge to say the heck with it, which is definitely something to celebrate. And once the temperatures go back up and I don't have to worry about my car failing on me again, I'll be back to the early morning routine.

Lately I've been thinking about typing up my old journal entries and putting them on here as archived posts. Even if no one else is interested in it, it might be good for me to go back and look at my progress and remind myself of things that have worked and haven't worked in the past. Last year at this time I was really stumbling (even more than this year!) and I'd like to go back and look at my frame of mind and what was going on. Maybe this afternoon after my walk I'll get online and start typing things in to the computer. But I won't guarantee anything will be online right away -- with Mabel and Hubby home from school, it makes the afternoons chaotic.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Monday Morning Quarterback

I had my own version of the Sooper Bowl this weekend. The teams? My Old Way of Living versus My New Way of Living.

Like last night's game, both teams were having a hard time maintaining possession of the ball. MNWoL kicked butt in the first quarter (Friday) and was so excited by the 2 pound loss in the beginning of the second (Saturday) that they got a little cocky and celebrated excessively. This was just the opening MOWoL was looking for and made a major interception, which lead straight to the end zone (i.e., container of cookies Hubby made). MNWoL got a major pep talk from the coach during half time and walked onto the field in the third quarter (Sunday) with every intention of turning the game around. But once again MOWoL took advantage of the adverse surroundings (lunch out at a buffet) and, when MNWoL fumbled the ball, the other team scooped it up and ran away with it for the rest of the quarter.

But you know what they say: a lot can happen in the fourth quarter. So today MNWoL is pulling itself up by the bootstraps and getting serious about winning this game. And I'm confident we will overcome our past slip-ups and be victorious.

Now that I'm done with my extended allegory, I should get a little serious here. It would be very easy to shrug my shoulders and say I don't know why I had a two-day blowout this weekend, but that would be a cop-out. I won't learn anything and can't improve if I don't take the weekend and myself apart and analyze what happened. Here's my list of reasons/excuses/misguided rationalizations:

1. I was so happy that I lost weight that my reaction was to overeat, because I knew I'd be able to knock it back off.
2. A delayed reaction to the whole ER visit scare led me to "comfort eating."
3. Hubby made the chocolate chip cookies due to a request from Mabel, even though anyone who knows her should know she would only eat one or two. And once they were in the house, they were a massive temptation that drove me over the edge.
4. I did not want to go out Sunday and overate at the buffet in some kind of childish, spiteful, rebellious response that hurt no one else but myself.
5. Once I splurged at the buffet, I adopted the "what the hell" attitude and ate poorly the rest of the day.

There were lots of instances where I could have kept it from happening or turned it around:
1. I could have congratulated myself in lots of non-food ways.
2. I could have used other non-food ways to comfort myself.
3. I could have thrown the cookies in the garbage and covered them in dish soap.
4. I could have either put my foot down and refused to go out, or I could have chosen healthier options at the buffet.
5. I could have limited my splurge to the buffet and eaten mindfully the rest of the day.

I've done all of the above at other times. But this weekend I didn't do any of those things. Why? That's the never-ending question that haunts me. Why can I do so well at certain times and then in another instance do nothing right? How can I learn to permanently maintain the intricate balance of mind, body and spirit that keeps me from making unhealthy decisions?

I could write it off that I was just too tired and lazy this past weekend. But that seems too close to bashing. Instead, I have to move on, try to learn something from my mistakes, and work on doing better next time.

The one constructive thing I did this morning was talk to my husband about the cookie situation and try to explain to him (again) that having the cookies in the house is NOT a good idea. Something tells me, however, that he won't ever really take me seriously until I actually go full-throttle on him and make a major production with the dish soap right in front of him. It's going to take something that dramatic and extreme for him to figure out I'm not kidding.

Can I tell you it's FREEZING here? My car thermometer read -4 degrees F at 8 a.m. this morning, and that didn't add in wind chill. I did not go to my satellite gym this morning because of the dangerous conditions, but I will be going after work, because it's Monday now, and it's back to healthy living.