Friday, March 30, 2007

The Week 26 Weigh In

Alternate post titles for today could have been
Truth and Consequences
Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

The truth is, I am up 1.5 pounds, back up to 206. I have to admit this bums me out a bit. I do know that last week I was taking a lot of decongestants to dry up a cold, and they tend to dehydrate me, which may have contributed to the 2-pound loss last week. So 206 is probably a more accurate -- true-- reading this week.

But let's face some other truths, and their consequences -- I slipped up last Friday with the seafood buffet, and although I did my best to limit my eating on Saturday, Sunday was pretty wild with the festival food. Add to that a lot of stress and lack of sleep this past week with Les Poopies, and despite the healthy eating and exercising Monday - Thursday, it didn't make up for it. In addition, I'm weighing in a day early because we're going to the last Lenten dinner of the year tonight. So I am also paying the consequences for that.

Vickie also brought up another very good point. While I'm doing lots of cardio, I haven't been able to keep up a steady routine of toning. I'll do good for a week then not do it all for two weeks. I know this would probably make a big difference, not only with increasing muscle tone and burning calories more efficiently, but also with my appearance.

The question is how I fit this into my daily schedule. I don't really want to decrease my cardio -- in fact, I need that hour so I can work on my 5 or 10K coming up in June. That means finding another 30-60 minutes a day to tone. I either need to commit to the Pilates, which I could really feel the effects of when I did do it, or join a gym and use the weights. Or, I can do a combination of the two for maximum variety and results.

The problem is carving the time out of my day. Afternoons make sense, because generally I have time then, but there are some weeks that every single day has some kind of afternoon errand -- doctor appointments for me or Mabel, mainly. Evenings are nearly impossible because of the time taken up with homework, piano, Brownies, dinner, bath and bed time routines. And now, of course, I've got the puppies who need lots of human interaction, not to mention taking them outside to go potty about every two hours.

It really comes down to making the effort and not making excuses. There's another good alternate title -- Making the Effort, Not Excuses. This Fitness Challenge is the perfect opportunity to establish this new routine. I've got an outside motivator (the amount of time I do it gives our team more points), and the tally sheets give me a means of documenting and staying accountable.

Even if it's only 20- 30 minutes three times a week, doing it regularly will make a difference. The hardest part is training myself to adopt the new habit. I managed to establish the other healthy habits -- mindful eating, nearly daily cardio -- so I know I can do it.

Another cold hard truth: back in the early days of the weight loss a big part of my success was the fact that I was at the gym 90 minutes a day five days a week. And a good portion of that time was spent doing toning and weights. Now granted, I was losing a lot of weight at that time because I had a lot to lose. But I think I would have better results now if I devoted more time to it.

Of course, at that time period I was only working very sporadically at the B&B, mainly weekends; Mabel was little and not in school and she wasn't involved in Brownies, piano and running to allergy shots and orthodontist appointments; and I wasn't married to a husband whose family was born to run -- and eat! I had a LOT more free time in my day to spend at the gym! So I've got my work cut out for me.

The big pressing issue right now is today. The combination of the disappointing weigh in this morning and knowing I'm eating out tonight is really making the Fat Girl voice in my head sing a chorus of "What the hell, eat crazy all day!" But I'm putting up the good fight. I've stuck to my healthy breakfast and mid-morning snack, and my healthy lunch is in my fridge at home ready to reheat. After that, well, I can't give you or myself any promises that this evening won't fall into gluttony. But if I can limit it to half a day instead of a whole day, that's success in my book.

I have one more festival day on Sunday, and I know it will be near impossible to resist the treats there. But I have nothing planned for Saturday; Hubby's taking his parents to the airport for their week-long trip to Las Vegas, and I'm staying home with the puppies. So I am bound and determined to make Saturday a healthy day, because I really shouldn't have any outside temptations, and anything else is an excuse and a cop-out.

So, now that I've put it here for all to see, I better stick to it, huh? Thank you and this blog for keeping me honest and accountable. I'll check in tomorrow and let you know how it's going!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Seeking Satisfaction

I'm going to address the puppies quickly, because this blog is quickly turning into a Puppy Blog instead of hashing out my weight/exercise/food issues.

Last night Le Poopies (reference: anyone ever see the live-action 102 Dalmatians movie with Gerard Depardieu as Monsieur Le Pelt ?) didn't waken us with their crying/whining. If they did, none of us heard it. There was a little bit of "accidents" on the newspapers, but not much for an entire night. They headed straight for the back door when I came into the kitchen, and when they got outside they quickly did their business. As for the "business," they are quickly focusing on one back corner of our fenced in area to leave their deposits, which is good news.

I also bought them leashes yesterday and put it on them for a few minutes. I'm going to start putting them on every day and get them used to it.

Vickie had lots of good advice in the comments of my previous post. I will definitely take all of it under consideration, talk to the Hubby about it, and most importantly, I will be calling the trainer within the week to get started. Seeing that they're only 6 1/2 weeks old, I'm sure if we get underway by 8 weeks we should prevent any bad habits. They're quickly showing signs of being very intelligent dogs and I don't think we should have any problems training them.

Okay, enough puppy talk. When I walked into Dr. K's office yesterday she commented on how much thinner I was looking. This gave me the perfect intro to tell her how lately when I look at myself I feel fatter than ever. I know this makes no sense at all; I haven't been this small since I was in my late teens. But when I looked at my pictures from the weekend, or when I look in the mirror, I kept thinking I look too "thick" in the middle, that my thighs are huge, and let's not forget about the legendary Tavern Ham Upper Arms.

Part of this, I said to Dr. K, may be due to the fact that I'm shedding my bulky (and pretty loose) winter clothes and starting to wear shorter sleeves and some of my newer and smaller spring clothes. Because these clothes are more revealing, form fitting and snug, it's making me more aware of my body.

The other thing is, I think I'm suffering from fat amnesia. It's been three years since my body was in the 300 range, and in that time I think I've sort of forgotten how it felt and what it was like to be that obese. I've been within a 20 pound weight range for the past year, so I think I've gotten accustomed to this size. The problem is, I'm not satisfied with it. That's either good -- motivation to keep losing-- or bad, in the fact that I'm not accepting of my body as is. I see it as a red flag, because what if I get to 180 and still feel this dissatisfaction? Fine, I keep going (if I can) and aim for155, which is the upper range of the BMI's recommended weight for me. But what if I even get there and I'm still not happy with myself?

This may be just a phase I'm going through; next week I may feel lithe and slim and wonderful. I just don't want to be one of those people who is never content with their body and appearance. I want to be accepting of myself, flaws and all, and not beat myself up or set up goals that are impossible to attain.

The exercise has been going great this week -- each morning I get up and do my 30 minutes each of bike and treadmill. This Fitness Challenge I signed up for is one incentive, and on the form for the eight-week period I wrote down a goal of losing eight pounds. That would mean by May 19 I'd be 196.5 "Ooh, it makes me all goose pimply like a goose with great big pimples!" (Another odd reference: Alice Tinker from "The Vicar of Dibley")

I don't usually make these kind of deadlines for myself anymore. Setting a date and aiming to be a certain weight often backfires on me and I wind up gaining instead! But I think eight pounds is a safe goal -- it's one pound a week, which is about the average of what I lose. Some weeks I stay the same, some I lose half a pound, sometimes if I'm lucky, I lose two or three. This winter was awfully slow, but my exercise really went to pot with all the illnesses and bad weather, not to mention the weekend food-fests. Now that the workouts are getting back to normal and my overeating is calming down, I think the weight loss will pick up, too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Seeking Stress Relief

Yesterday I was so tired -- I mean seriously sleep deprived. To the point that my brain wasn't working right and I felt almost physically ill. It peaked in the late afternoon when Mabel got home and I was torn in three different directions on top of my blood sugar dipping. I managed to bring myself out of it, with the help of an apple to bring my blood sugar back up, but I knew I really needed a good night's sleep.

I sort of got one. I went to bed early while Hubby stayed up trying to wear out the puppies. He told me not to worry about them and he'd take care of them for the night. At 2:40 a.m. I awoke to them whimpering and nudged Hubby. "The puppies are crying."

After a pause, in a half asleep voice he asked, "Are you awake?" Which in Male-ese means "I'm too tired to get up; will you do it?"

So I got up and got them outside. I managed to get back to sleep after that and got up for good at 4:45 to take them out again and then get to the gym. Afterwards I got home, showered and dressed, and went into the bedroom to find Hubby still sleeping. I knew he was going to California University of Pa. today to be a judge in some science fair thing, but I didn't know he didn't have to leave the house until 8 a.m. (he usually leaves at 6:30).

"Well, that's poopy," I blurted out.

"What is?" he queried from his bundle of sheets and comforter.

"That I had to get up in the middle of the night, and you're the one who gets to sleep in," I replied, then left the room to get on with my morning chores.

On top of this, at the end of last week he agreed to become the statistician for his high school's baseball team. While he doesn't have to go to practices, he does have to attend the games. Last night's game was postponed due to the rain, but now he's got games scheduled for tonight, Wednesday and Friday. Which means he won't be home until 7 p.m. those nights. And this will go on until May.

I knew this was going to happen. I pretty much figured this would be how it would work if we had a baby, too, which is why I've pretty much stated I will not be having any more children. While he'd be full of promises about how much he was going to help, there'd always be some excuse -- too sleepy, too busy -- to hold up his end of the deal.

So, as I feared, I'm doing the bulk of the "dirty" work -- cleaning up poop piles in the yard, cleaning up the accidents on the kitchen floor, cleaning poopy shoes after Mabel walks into a fresh pile. I was already prepared for afternoon duty, but now I'll have a lot of evening duty, too.
Of course, don't forget that I also generally do 90 percent of the general housework and childcare duties.

Now don't get me wrong; the puppies are adorable and I enjoy playing with them. I don't think I could bring myself to get rid of them now, because I've grown attached to them and they definitely are bonding with me.

But I'm just feeling overtaxed right now, and I feel I'm taking the brunt of the responsibility when it comes to the dogs. Things will calm down eventually; the dogs will grow, as will their bladders, and they won't need as much babying. And come summer time Hubby will be home to take the reigns as the primary puppy parent while I'm off at work.

The biggest problem I guess is readjusting our lives to this big change. I had to give Mabel hell this morning because she didn't do her homework last night; she told me she had done it, but when I peeked at her homework journal this morning I realized she couldn't have done her dictation practice by herself. So I sent her to her father, who was lounging around watching TV and eating his P0P Tartz, to help her with her homework while I was rushing around trying to get myself and Mabel ready for our day, clean up the kitchen and get the puppies set for their morning cooped up in the kitchen.

On top of this, the new puppies have stirred up the whole in-law thing and they've been finding excuses to drop over every single night. Months ago I made the "call first" rule, which seems to have been partially abandoned. Monday night's excuse was that they were exchanging vehicles with Hubby because they were taking his SUV to be serviced. This couldn't be a simple key exchange; they stopped by 15 minutes before Mabel's bedtime (which is one of their worst habits) and proceeded to sit down and "chat" for the next half an hour. On Tuesday they did try to call, but we were outside and didn't get to the phone. Five minutes later here they come; they decided to take a "walk" and conveniently had to walk past our house. Of course they stopped, came into the house and "chatted" some more.

To be fair, my mother's been stopping over a good bit more, too. But her visits don't come at Mabel's bedtime, they're generally brief and don't require a lot of entertaining.

I know MIL doesn't think I'm a good hostess; she made sure that I found out about her raving about my sister-in-law and what a wonderful hostess she is. When they visit their youngest son and his wife, SIL brews a pot of coffee and bakes them muffins. I don't make them coffee and muffins; Hubby and I don't drink coffee, and I'm certainly not preparing baked goods when I'm trying to watch what I eat! It comes down to this: they know darn well that Mabel's bedtime is 8 p.m., yet they consistently show up at 7:30, 7:45. Sorry, my daughter's routines come first.

Gee, I sound kind of stressed out, don't I? Coincidentally I've got therapy with Dr. K. today, which will come in very handy to get this off my chest some more. The good news is I'm not letting the stress drive me to overeat; my Monday-Friday rule is so ingrained that it isn't even feeling like an option for me. It may all culminate in a binge this weekend, but with this routine in place the damage is limited and controlled. For now I'm trying to use other methods to blow off steam: exercise, reading, taking a nap, blogging. Maybe if I can do enough of this kind of stuff throughout the week, by the time the weekend comes it won't be such a blow-out.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Joys of Parenthood

I'm having deja vu; I feel like the mother of a newborn. Sleep deprived, distracted, trying to adjust to the new routines.

The puppies wake up and cry for us about every two hours. We've been taking turns getting up and letting them out to relieve themselves, but we're torn about it. It's nice having a clean floor in the morning, but we're not getting a decent night's sleep. They're small and don't have a lot of bladder control yet but do their best. I'd like to get them taught that night time is down time, but they are really just babies and sleep off and on throughout the day.

But if we don't go downstairs to let them out, wow are they loud! Even with the doors all shut it still takes earplugs to shut them out. So even if we don't get up and let them out, we're still going to be awoken by the noise. As I told Hubby this morning, "Welcome to the joys of parenthood."

On top of the interrupted sleep, I'm also getting up 10-15 minutes earlier now to give myself extra time to let them out and go potty before I go to the gym. I'm continuing with 30 minutes each of treadmill and stationary bike. The toning has slumped, and I need to find the time for that. However, lifting and lugging around those puppies (Pearl is 11.8 pounds and Bruno is 10.6 pounds) is giving me some upper body work.

I will give Mabel and Hubby credit and say they are pitching in with the puppy chores. But let's face it; I'm the one who is doing the majority of the clean-up work (mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, picking up poop), and most of their help is taking them outside and entertaining them. And in the afternoons I'm there alone with them. We're bonding, which is nice, but it is an additional responsibility I didn't have before.

I was afraid the stress and chaos of new "babies" would send me to overeating. Yesterday was not the case; during the afternoon I was either too distracted or tired to eat. By supper time I was pretty hungry, but I stayed mindful and in the evening I was again too tired to even think about eating a snack. And I'm definitely outside walking around more getting the puppies to run around and burn off some energy. Once they're a little older we'll start working on using the leash, and one day I hope they'll be my walking companions.

Over the weekend I told my friend SS about this blog. He then told our other friend JH, who emailed me to give me hell because I hadn't told her about it! I guess I have been a little secretive about this blog with my friends. But I don't want to be one of those "one track mind" friends who obsesses about one certain thing (their kids, their job, a cause they support, or in my case, my weight loss). Just because it's on my mind every day doesn't mean everyone wants to hear about it ad nauseum.

I think it also comes down to that "fraud" feeling that so many of us weight loss bloggers talk about it. Yes, I've had some major accomplishments, but because I'm nowhere near an "ideal" goal weight (BMI, height-weight charts, etc.), I don't feel like I'm a real success.

For example, while I'm really enjoying the book "Thin For Life", I find myself focusing on what the masters weigh instead of concentrating on how they do it. Almost all of the women mentioned in the book are maintaining weights between 110-140, and even most of the men are maintaining between 135-200 pounds. A lot of them had all-time highest weights that were less than my goal weight! Then I tell myself there's no point in comparing myself to the "masters." I have to set my own goals and not worry about how much bigger I'll be than other people.

I better get on with my day. My goal is to fit a nap in somewhere. Wish me luck!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Wild, Wooly Weekend

What a wild weekend! Last night about 8:45 I just had to sit down and turn on the TV to get a few moments to decompress. It had been so hectic, so full of activity and people, not to mention other mammals, that I hardly had a moment to myself.

We picked up my friend SS Friday night, and he spent the night at my house. We talked a good bit, but I did give him plenty of time alone with Mabel, who is his goddaughter. They watched her Doctor Who DVD, played the piano and did a lot of laughing.

Saturday morning got fairly frenetic. The puppy hunt took on a whole new path as we found out someone we knew fairly well had a litter of Lab pups ready to go. There was lots of phone calling going on, in between entertaining SS, dropping him off at his mother's house and getting Mabel to gymnastics.

Saturday afternoon we went out to our friends house to see the Lab puppies. Holy cow. So freakin' adorable, we love in love instantly. And to make the deal even sweeter, our friend was only charging $50 for a pup. The only yellow female was already claimed (boo hoo!), so we got a yellow boy. Then my mother, who came along, decided she wanted the other female in the litter, which is black. So we wound up leaving with two puppies!

This is Bruno. He is a yellow Lab but was the darkest of the litter. In fact, he had some reddish-ginger tones to his coat, and we can't wait to see how his color develops as he ages.

This little guy was almost called Reno (Hubby's idea) but then my Mom and I came up with Bruno, which seems to fit him better. He adores Mabel. He follows her around wherever she goes. He is definitely her buddy.

The poor thing was polluted with fleas when we got him. We got some herbal flea shampoo a groomer friend of ours suggested, and that in combination with a flea comb has pretty much eliminated most of them. At least I haven't seen any more. But we've got an appointment scheduled with the vet for this afternoon to get their shots and see if we should do anything else.

This is the little girl, which I've named Pearl. Yes, I have taken a major liking to this little chick, and she definitely likes me, too. When my mom picked her out she was the most adventurous, courageous and friskiest of the litter. She's very intelligent and is already responding to her name.

Her fleas weren't nearly as bad as Bruno's, but we treated her with the same shampoo and we seem to have gotten rid of them.

While we weren't planning on getting two puppies, once we brought them home we couldn't bear to separate them. It's helped to cut down on the homesickness, and they love to wrestle and sleep together.

So far Mabel's allergies haven't been sent into orbit, which is encouraging. Of course, we're taking lots of precautions: we're setting a house rule now that the dogs do NOT go upstairs and in our bedrooms. We're teaching Mabel to keep the puppies from licking her face, and when we're done playing with them we're making sure she washes her hands and face just in case. We're also keeping her "doggy" clothes out of her bedroom. Hubby's been put in charge of grooming, and I'll be vacuuming regularly with our Hepa filter vacuum.

I must say I've been incredibly impressed with the dogs so far. For being as little as they are they're nearly house trained already, and their accidents only happens when we adults make them hold it longer than their little bodies can take. They want to go outside and do their business, and the great majority of the time they do.

I just hope I can take these two little horses once they start growing ... and growing and growing! But it'll be summer time and they can spend a lot of time outdoors during their ornery adolescence.

The rest of the weekend went well. Lots of Maple Festival events, which was interesting, because a lot of the people involved haven't seen me a lot in the last year or so, and I got several comments about my weight loss.

SS, who also doesn't see me often, asked me lots of questions about how I've done it, what I've learned from the experience, how I feel, etc. I felt a lot like I did when Frances interviewed me for her second book.

It's no wonder after all of that I was mentally and physically exhausted. But amazingly enough, the food and eating didn't go as bad as I thought it would. Granted, I succumbed to the seafood buffet Friday night and I didn't resist the yummy treats at the festival, but Saturday I really stayed vigilant and mindful. While I didn't eat all low-calorie foods all day, I really stayed aware of portions, didn't mindlessly snack, and at our banquet Saturday night I didn't/couldn't finish my meal and left a good third of the food on my plate.

So, even though it wasn't a perfect weekend, I could definitely tell this morning that I hadn't done as much damage to myself as I had done throughout the winter. Progress. Good stuff.

And here's the latest photo of me, taken Saturday night before the banquet. I wasn't that thrilled with the full body shot, but the head shot's pretty decent. I'm trying to grow my hair out and I've been dealing with awkward lengths and my stubborn hair that curls in whatever direction it bloody well feels like. It actually looks all right here, even though an hour before I thought it looked awful.
The funniest thing I noticed about the original picture was that as I stood beside SS, we actually looked close to the same size. Granted, I probably still weigh more than him, but I don't dwarf him anymore. Pretty cool.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Week 25 Weigh In

This dog hunting business is for the birds! What a roller coaster ride.

I was all ready to go see this yellow Lab when Hubby calls me on the cell phone on his way home from work. He had a message from the woman selling the dog... and the dog's gone. Apparently a buddy of her husband showed up with cash in hand and he gave the dog to him.

Talk about major disappointment. When Hubby came home I said to him, "You know, maybe all these signs are pointing to the fact that we just aren't meant to have a dog yet." I don't consider myself extremely superstitious, but I don't tend to ignore the signs when they're popping up all over the place, either.

Then Mabel came home and we had to disappoint her yet again. But... I opened the classified section of the paper and the first ad under the pet section was for Labradoodles, chocolate and black, ready for Easter. Hubby called the number, and it sounded like a good deal. The lady selling the dogs has the parents in her home; she's an older lady who has decided this is her last litter because she's getting too old to deal with breeding dogs. But she decided to have one last litter because her granddaughter wants one. The price is fair, and Hubby asked her all kinds of breeding questions and whatnot and she was very responsive with everything.

So maybe, as I told my family, maybe these other ones weren't supposed to work out for a reason. We told the lady we'd be up next week to see/get one, and hopefully this one will finally work out.

Vickie asked me what our allergist said about getting a dog. Mabel's allergy nurse who gives her the shot every week said Labradoodles were a good choice; one of the doctors in their office has allergies, got one and was very happy with it. So that was good news, too.

And here's MORE good news: this morning the scale read 204.5 -- a two pound loss! It's a day early for my usual weigh-in, but with my friend SS spending the night tonight and since I'll be entertaining him for most of the weekend, I don't know if I'll have much time to post. In addition the Maple Festival starts this weekend and Hubby is cooking there Sunday, so we will be there all day, too.

I can't tell you how freakin' happy I was to see my plateau end. But there was no mystery to it -- for three weeks I was sick and didn't exercise, so my weight stayed the same. This week I got my butt back into gear -- literally and figuratively -- and voila, weight loss.

Now I just have to try to behave myself this weekend. Gonna' be a hard one. We're going out for supper tonight, my friend SS and other friend JH are attending a Maple Festival banquet Saturday night, and Sunday I'll be surrounded by festival food. The trick is to adopt my Christmas-time approach: eat what I want, but small portions. As for the festival, I don't have to eat it all in one day; we'll be back next Sunday, too, so I can space the fun food out over the two weekends.

I also want to get off to a good start on my Fitness Challenge and have some exercise on the books for the first day, Sunday. So hopefully the exercise will help stave off some of the urge to binge, too.

So if I don't get back here until Monday, here's wishing everyone a good weekend. Dodge the raindrops and have a good time!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Feelin Groovy

Things have been going really well this week, with food, with exercise, and with my mood, too. And that's with all the hectic stuff at work, preparing for a weekend guest, scrambling to get to appointments every day, and all this dog stuff. By the way, whatever bug I had at the beginning of the week seems to have vanished, thank goodness, so health wise I'm feeling fine, too.
Hubby's definitely been noticing my improved mood, as well, and commented on it this morning.

But being the cynical person I am, when I do have a good week like this, instead of just enjoying and basking in it, I sit here and question why. I try to figure out what's going on that's causing it. I just think and analyze things through way too much.

I'm convinced part of it is the coming of spring and the warmer weather. The days are getting longer again and there's so much more sunshine. Sometimes I question whether I really have Seasonal Affective Disorder, but each year the same thing happens -- I get sullen, lethargic and crave carbs in the winter, and in the spring I seem to come back to life. Granted, this year has been the best in ages, due to heavily increased doses of full spectrum lighting, but even with that I still have light symptoms.

Got myself back to the gym today and did my half an hour each of bike and treadmill. I'm thinking this is also contributing to my good mood -- endorphins and whatnot. I didn't get the toning/weight resistance in yet today, and I'm going to try, but it might be difficult with my packed schedule.

This afternoon is the Great Dog Hunt, Day Two. Yesterday didn't go so well. Before our trip Mabel had an orthodontist appointment (good news= no more turning the palate expander; bad news= head gear 12-14 hours a day), and she brought up to the dental assistants that we were going to look at a dog. They asked me where we were going, and when I told them, holy crap. All the DAs dropped what they were doing and came to tell me the horror stories and suspicious things that had happened either to them or people they knew who went there. We still went, but we definitely had the warning in the back of our heads.

While the dogs were cute, and the Labradoodle seemed ok, the whole place just didn't sit right with me. The woman working there was completely inept, had her little girl mauling one of the dogs, and spent more time on the phone instead of cleaning up the pens. I thought the place reeked, but Hubby told me the place stank twice as badly the night before.

I had some red flags with the Labradoodle, too. While she was cute and nice, it was blatantly obvious this dog had been allowed to run wild on a farm for five months. While she wasn't violent or aggressive, she didn't seem socialized to humans and completely ignored us when we tried to get her attention with kissy noises, clicks, whistles or claps. At 8-10 weeks that's expected; at five months it makes me worry she'd be hard to handle and train.

When Hubby saw her the night before she had just arrived from the farm where she lived and was filthy. By the time we got there she had been shampooed and smelled good, but we noticed spots on her that had been shaved, probably because her hair had gotten matted from lack of grooming. That concerned me, too. No one had trimmed her nails, either, and Mabel wound up getting scratched on her neck. So we left without her, much to my daughter's distress, but neither Hubby nor I got a good feeling about the entire situation.

But yet another opportunity has arisen. Hubby saw an ad in the paper about a 6 month old yellow lab for sale. The lady called back and gave us the story: she is a lab breeder, and when she bred her last litter, both her adult children wanted one. Her daughter, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, was already pregnant when she got the dog, and once the baby arrived trying to take care of the dog became too much. The dog has been house trained, sits on command, is used to being in the house and around little children.

We're going this afternoon when Mabel gets home from school to see not only the dog, but her mother as well. While we still have to wait and see the dog in person to determine her temperament, etc., Hubby and I already have a much better feeling about this.

As for the allergy concern, I called my sister yesterday about Easter plans and we brought up the dog subject. She informed me that when Mabel stays at her house she is constantly playing and even sleeps with her dog Lucy, and she has had not an allergy attack yet. And this dog is primarily lab and does shed some. So this was good news, too.

I have to say after having a lot of reservations about getting a dog, I'm definitely starting to get into it. Hubby is really committing to being active in the care of the dog, and I'm looking forward to getting a walking companion. I will definitely let you know what happens.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Badge of Honor

Okay, I didn't exercise this morning. I woke up with a bad headache (TTOM I'm guessing), sore muscles from my upper body work yesterday and a blister on my foot. My shoe rubbed funny on my foot yesterday morning, and then in the evening while Hubby was off shopping Mabel and I were outside prowling the neighborhood. She was on her bike and I walked briskly to keep up with her, and we were out for a good 40-45 minutes. On top of that I did a lot of housework in the afternoon, so it was a physically active day.

So I made today a break day. Most exercise experts say to fit a break day in during your week, so now I'll just work out on one of my weekend days instead. Maybe this will help with the weekend eating, too.

In between my cleaning I finally tried on the clothes I bought over the weekend, including -- gasp!-- a two piece swimsuit! I was tickled to death that the Larges I bought fit -- snugly and figure forming, but not too tight. And as for the suit? I'm not sure how comfortable I'll be wearing this to a crowded beach, because there's a lot of scary stuff going on with my midsection. Besides my old gallbladder scar (I had the surgery done pre-laproscopy so it's a big 6-inch gash), my skin is so saggy and baggy and shows the deflated stretch marks. If I walk around with my abs tensed the whole time it isn't too bad, but I do actually need to breathe.

When I told Hubby about this, God bless him, he replied, "You've lost so much weight! You should be proud and flaunt it." He's definitely of the opinion that my loose flesh is a badge of honor, not something to be ashamed of, and I need to adopt more of that attitude.

We're going to dog shopping tonight. Weirdly enough, last night Hubby decided to go to the town where the puppies were supposed to arrive to do some grocery shopping. While he was gone the breeder's wife called and told me her husband was arriving at the pet shop with the dog shortly (I'll explain in a moment). I gave her Hubby's cell number and she got a hold of him, so he went and got a sneak preview without Mabel and me.

Somehow the lines of communication got crossed about this Labradoodle. There's only one left, and she is about six months old. Hubby said he was actually torn about her: she's a nice looking dog but a little high-strung and hasn't really been worked with as far as obedience, etc. He knows the little tests to do to see if the dog is dominant or submissive (a dominant dog can be aggressive and bite; a submissive dog is easier to train), and he thought she was submissive and shouldn't be hard to train.

The place he went to sells all kinds of dogs, and Hubby went on and on about some of the other dogs there, including an English Bulldog, a Great Pyrenees and a Goldendoodle. While I think bulldogs are adorable, I know they can have health problems and can't handle extremes of heat and cold. Not good in our wintry locale, and our old house doesn't have air conditioning. As for the GP, they are huge and shed a lot, and we definitely don't want that.

The Goldendoodle, however, is a definite option. Like the Labradoodle, they are bred to shed less (not allergy free but tend to cause less reactions) and are family-friendly dogs with few health problems. So tonight we need to take a good hard look at the dogs, see how Mabel does with them, and make some big decisions. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Changes in Attitude

Feeling much better today. Not 100 percent, but the throat's much better. Nose is a little stuffed up, though. Hubby and Mabel are also experiencing similar symptoms, so maybe we all caught a little bug in Pittsburgh or something. I'm thinking it's not strep, thank goodness.

For the second day in a row I got to the gym and did treadmill and bike again. It feels so good to be getting back into my routine, and the early morning exercise makes me feel more energized in the mornings. I think it will also help me get off this plateau I've been on the past few weeks.

Not that I'm all that overwrought by the plateau. You'd think I'd be all upset and yanking my hair out over the fact that I'm 7 pounds away from the Onederfuls and yet I keep malingering here at 206.5. Well, hey, after three years and 130 pounds, I guess I'm a little jaded. As much as I aspire to leave the 200s, I know that when I do there isn't going to be a whole lot of change: balloons and confetti will not instantly shower upon me from my bathroom ceiling; a sports car will not be idling outside my house waiting for me to climb in to the back seat so I can take my place of honor in the parade held just for my weight loss accomplishments; Ed McMahon (or whoever is doing it these days) will not be at my door with a million dollar check.

Which doesn't mean I don't want to get there. Despite the lack of fanfare, I still want to see that 1 pop up on my digital scale. I want the satisfaction of knowing that I hung in there, slugged my way through another winter and came through on the other side blazing through the biggest milestone yet. I want that sense of accomplishment. And hey, maybe my jeans will fit better, too.

I don't know if it's the cold medicine, the exercise, or the sunny sky, but I'm feeling really empowered and confident about all of this today. Maybe it's starting "Thin For Life" and reading about all these other people who've done it.

I'm also realizing I'm growing weary of this weekend binge nonsense. Oh, it definitely has served its purpose, keeping me mindful and forcing me to have some limits by not overeating five days a week. But this past weekend I really found myself finding less pleasure in it, and this feeling was strong enough that I ate a good deal less than I have on previous weekends. I left food on my plate several times throughout the weekend, and some of the goodies I saved up for the weekend didn't even get touched.

Again, I don't know what exactly is causing this shift in attitude, but I'm not going to question it too much, because I don't want it to go away!

Another possible cause is my new project. Last year I walked in our local newspaper's 5k/10k walk/run. I tagged along with my mom, who got us on a team set up by a friend of hers. This year I decided to set up my own team with my church, and coincidentally this year the paper has set up a "Pastor's Challenge" for area churches. I am now Team Captain (for which I got a cool long-sleeved T-shirt!), and I'm quickly trying to round up people for the team.

In addition to the race, the paper also hold a Fitness Challenge that has participants record their exercise for two months. The time you exercise gets converted into points that go toward your team's efforts. I am going to do this challenge as well, and I have to admit this has my motivation levels rising, too. As it turns out, last year's female winner of the Fitness Challenge was my cousin JE, who is an exercise fiend and does hours a day (it helps that she's not married, doesn't have kids, and is a college professor who has a pretty open schedule to fit in tons of walking and biking). I don't dare think I'll get close to her totals, but I definitely want to improve on my current exercise levels, and this is a way to keep track and kick it up a notch.

Yesterday I mentioned this dog issue rearing its head again. My husband got in contact with a breeder who raises Labradoodles. Yes, it is half Labrador Retriever, half Poodle. Apparently these dogs are good for those with allergies because they don't shed, or at least very little. This designer breed is also supposed to be a docile, family dog who still has some of the hunting/retrieving instincts, which Hubby wants so badly.

The breeder has two black female puppies that are 10 weeks old, so pretty much ready to go to homes. He is supposed to call us soon and set up a day for us to see them. Hubby and Mabel are so excited, but I still have my concerns. Namely, things MUST change in our household! Shoes and toys and other chewables can't be left lying around anymore, or will be turned into chew toys. More importantly, Hubby's nomadic ways will have to be curtailed; we can't be running hither and yon all the time, because this dog will need lots of attention and supervision. We can't be leaving the dog in the house for hours on end while he and his parents drag us to meals and shopping sprees. If we do, the dog will get bored, lonely, and that always winds up meaning destructive tendencies.

So Mama here is going to have a serious talk with her little family. People better be ready to take on more responsibilities around here, and some of our current activities will have to be cut down. Or no dog. It should be an interesting conversation.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I Am The Master

I blew past another Sunday without posting. But our trip to Pittsburgh really wore me out and I was pretty zombified all day. Now today I'm worrying that I may have a return of the strep throat -- my throat's definitely not feeling right and I don't feel well overall.

This is so NOT what I need this week. It's an exceptionally busy week with lots of afternoon appointments, I need to get the house clean for my friend SS who is coming in to town from DC and spending the night on Friday. At work I've got to get my newsletter printed and mailed, on top of Lent/Easter preparations. On top of that, today started my TTOM, and for the cherry on top? Hubby's tracked down some Labradoodle puppies that are available NOW, and the breeder is going to call us back about going to see them either Tuesday or Thursday.

Maybe it's not the strep returning. Maybe it's just a cold. I'm drinking lots of tea and gargling with warm salt water and hoping it will all go away. But tomorrow morning will tell the tale: if my throat's still bad or worse, back to the doctor I go.

The worst part about it it, this morning I finally got back to the treadmill and bike, and did some toning. I'll be really bummed out if I get super sick again and can't exercise!

I'm theorizing I might have reinfected myself because I forgot to throw away and replace my toothbrush. Stupid, I know. Lesson learned. I already have a new one bought.

Here's some of the good things that happened over the weekend: on our Pittsburgh trip we got to a book store (no decent bookstores in Bumf*#k Egypt where I live) and I finally purchased a copy of "Thin For Life." Our local library lost their copy, and since so many AFGers give this book such good recommendations, I've decided to add it to my personal collection. I figure this will be re-read and referred to regularly, so it's worth shelling out the dough.

I am actually glad that I have to travel 90 miles to get to a Panera, because if there was one close by I'd be there pretty much every weekend blowing my salary on their baked goods. My mom wanted to eat there for her birthday, so we sat and had sandwiches and their Crispani pizza-like thing, and everything was so good! I had a panini and it was wonderful. What really wowed me was the baked yummies I saved for the next day, however. I cannot find good scones in our rural backwoods area, so this was a real treat. Again, thank goodness there isn't one in our immediate area.

When I got home I had pleasant things in the mail, too. I got a letter from the organ donation organization that coordinated the tissue I received for my neck surgery. Several months ago I sent a letter through this group to the family of the donor thanking them and letting them know how my life has improved due to their gift. Saturday's letter stated that the family has written a letter, and the organization wants to know if I'd like to see it. I sure would, so I emailed them back this morning giving them the thumbs-up.

Also in the mail was a big envelope from the National Weight Control Registry. Sunday morning I ate my scones and filled out the bulk of the questionnaires -- is that hypocritical or sacrilegious or something? I'm not sure. Anyway, what a lot of info! The food breakdown is the most in depth and labor-intensive part. It really made me think about how often I eat certain foods and how much. I had to remind myself that this was an overall average for the past year and not just my eating habits on my "bad" weekends, so I made sure to make a fair representation on how I eat most of the time. And it's pretty obvious I've become a veggie fanatic -- it's the one section I ate the most often and in the biggest quantities. Which was good to see.

I still have to fill out the weight loss "diary" that pinpoints milestone weights and lists the whens and whys. I have to go back to my journal and archives to make sure I get these right. It's been such a dramatic three years.

Just before I came up here to post this I read the intro to "Thin For Life" and noticed that the author calls those people she interviewed (who have lost at least 20 pounds and kept it off for the long-term) "masters." I realized that I qualify to be called a Master. What a validating notion. I may have to get business cards with "Master" under my name.

Want to write more but I have to go get Mabel from Brownies. I'll tell you the other stuff tomorrow.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Week 24 Weigh In

I was again pleasantly surprised to see 206.5 on the scale again. You'd think I'd be frustrated, disappointed, afraid I've reached a plateau I'll never escape from. But I'm really not.

I was sure I be up 1.5, even 2.5 pounds from PMS bloat. So to see the same weight again was great. I know this past month has been... not bad, per se, but challenging with the illnesses (cold and strep throat). My immunity had hit a low, and I needed time to recover and regroup. It's not shocking at all that my body, after dropping a few pounds, is now resting comfortably for a while until I get back into my usual exercise routine.

While this week wasn't fantastic when it comes to physical activity, I was satisfied with what I did and felt it was a nice slow return to exercise, and next week I will gradually increase it. My big goal is to get myself back into gear about waking up at 5 and getting my behind over to my satellite gym and kick out the cobwebs for at least 30 minutes every morning. I really need to do this because next week almost every afternoon is booked with one kind of appointment or another -- hair cut, insurance estimates, Mabel's orthodontist, parent-teacher meeting. Then my friend (and Mabel's godfather) is coming in for a visit and he's staying here in our guest room at least one night, so I need to make sure everything's ship-shape and clean.

Still not positive about the Pittsburgh trip today. Hubby, Mom and I will have to have a tete-a-tete and decide what we want to do. But we'll probably wind up going.

Tomorrow I'm filling in at church and doing the children's sermon. Yesterday the lady who was supposed to do it bailed out -- I mean, had a last minute thing come up -- and since it was such late notice I figured I'd suck it up and do it. Besides, I've been very slack in attending church this winter, and I know I won't be able to go the next two weeks because Hubby will be doing his colonial cooking demonstrations at the maple festival and I'll be his go-fer. Fortunately, there's a web site that provides free children's sermons ideas that are in sync with our church's lessons/gospel reading, so it's an easy job.

A lot of people I know are terrified of these kind of things: getting up at church to read the lessons, give a speech, etc. I guess that fear was beaten out of me by my time in the newspaper field. You quickly had to muster the courage to go up to strangers, a lot of them politicians, even some celebrities, and start asking them questions. The job required you to get up in front of a room full of people and bring attention to yourself as you took photographs. And it was trial by fire when I was the editor of the small town weekly and often took the brunt of people's complaints and frustrations out on you. It makes doing a children's sermon seem like a walk in the park.

So, just like the newspaper business made public speaking easier for me, my three years as a professional weight loser makes this three-week plateau a lot easier to handle. I've been at this long enough to know that it's a temporary thing. Once I get back to my higher level of exercise, and now that spring is just around the corner, things will improve. I'm just thrilled that I managed to lose weight and now maintain it, rather than gaining 10 pounds and getting stuck there. So you've got no complaints here!

Other than the fact that I miss my blog buddies! It seems a lot of them took trips this week and have been MIA online. Oh well, at least they should have lots of good stories to tell when they return. Happy Weekend -- and St. Patrick's Day -- to you all!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Encourage or Discourage?

I'm so disgusted -- after all the nice weather we had at the beginning of the week, now we're getting pummeled with a Northeaster that will dump 8-12 inches of snow on us in the next 24 hours. Aargh!

It shouldn't be a surprise, because this is typical March weather in my neck of the woods. It's still discouraging after basking in balmy temperatures just a few days ago. But it is encouraging to think that next week is the first official day of Spring. It won't be long now!

I didn't exercise this morning; Mabel woke up at 5:30 and had me distracted and off my routine. But I have a feeling I'll be getting plenty of cardio doing some snow shoveling later today.

Also discouraging was my weight this morning. Things are not looking good for tomorrow's post, but like I said yesterday, I still need to stick to the plan and do the best I can. Yesterday went well, and Hubby made an excellent supper. He grilled strips of eggplant, then made them into a roll filled with a cheese mixture of ricotta, Parmesan and mozzarella, sauteed onion, mushroom and chopped asparagus, all covered in homemade tomato sauce. He even made two batches -- mine with fat free ricotta and mozzarella. Despite my occasional gripes, I know he's a keeper!

After a long weather-induced break, I finally got back in to see my therapist Dr. K. She immediately told me she thought I looked thinner, and I relayed a good bit of what I tell you here. One interesting thing happened: a mother she knows has a daughter (early 20s) who has gained a lot of weight over the past five years, and she is looking for something to motivate her to address it. Dr. K. asked me about the book I had mentioned that inspired me (Frances Kuffel's "Passing For Thin"), and I also told her about the AFG web site.

However, while I offered this information I felt weird about it. While I am eager to help others, the thing is, I don't know if this young lady wants help. Her mother definitely wants her to lose weight, but does the daughter? This is such a touchy subject, and I know because I've been there. While I didn't have a lot of people offering to help me and refer me to books, resources, etc., when I was 300+ pounds, would I have even accepted it? Or would I have been hurt, defensive and rejected all of it?

Like I told Dr. K. yesterday, while I could sit here and regret that I spent my entire 20s in the 300 pound range, I really don't think I was ready at that point to let go of the weight. It took a lot of time, a lot of growing up and therapy to get me to the point where I could address it. I could mourn the "lost" years that I wasn't dating, but what if I had lost a ton of weight and wound up in a horrible abusive relationship? Or I could have shed the weight and taken up another addiction like alcohol or other drugs to take the place of food.

This girl, whoever she is, has her own personal journey going on, and for the time being the food and the fat is serving a purpose. Until she's ready to let go of that or at least start looking for an alternative, I don't know if any book titles or blogs are going to help. While it would be great if my suggestions helped her, I sure hope my "interfering" doesn't backfire and cause more harm than good.

Not sure about my weekend plans since the weather is bad. We were going to take my mother on a trip to Pittsburgh tomorrow as an early birthday present. But now we'll have to wait and see if the worst of the snowfall is over and how the roads are. Hubby loves to drive in the snow and isn't afraid of it, but I hesitate to get on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in bad weather because you never know what an out-of-state driver will do on unfamiliar roads. Our route of the turnpike is especially curvy and treacherous, and it's the site of many nasty accidents. So we'll see. As for Sunday, it would be nice if our Wednesday night dinner with the in-laws would excuse us from going out again with them this week, but it's doubtful. This family loves to eat out, multiple times a day if possible.

Well, I'm going to wrap things up here and get to work, because I have a feeling Mabel will have an early dismissal from school today. I'll see you tomorrow with the official weigh-in.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Don't Give Up, Don't Hold Back

We officially own our house. Hooray! The closing went smoothly without any problems.

Then, in true food addict fashion, we had to go out for dinner to "celebrate." And because the in-laws picked Mabel up from school, they came with us. I know this sounds completely ungrateful and nasty. But I guess I'm seeing through the "let's use food for every emotion and event" mentality that's so prevalent not only in our family, but in our society. I'm not saying I don't do it, because believe me I do, but I'm really becoming cognizant of it. Like Adam and Eve when they ate the apple, once you have that awareness, that loss of innocence/ignorance makes it impossible to stay blind to it. I can't go back to mindlessly eating anymore, because I'm instantly analyzing why I'm doing it. And the good thing about this is that I often catch myself and prevent it from happening.

For example. This morning the scale was not good because the meal I had last night, while low fat with lots of veggies, must have had a lot of sodium in it, because I was pretty bloated. And I knew my calorie total for the day was about 1365, so I knew it was water retention. My internal voice said "Crap, it's Thursday and I'm all bloated up. I'll never have a good weigh in on Saturday. I should just throw in the towel this week and not worry about it." Not worry about it in this case meant eating whatever I want, i.e. overeating.

Instantly I scolded myself. So what if this Saturday's weigh-in is high? I knew going in to this week that I would probably encounter this (PMS, time of the month), so it's no surprise. That's no excuse to break my Monday-Friday rule. Because if I do, the Saturday weigh in will be even worse! At least this way, if I stick to my guns, the damage will be minimal.

I reminded myself once again that this lifestyle change isn't all about the number on the scale. It's about ending the compulsive overeating, becoming more active and living a healthier life. Right now this Monday-Friday rule is very important to me; it means the majority of my life is under my control. It means I can enact limits and goals and follow through on them. While ideally it should be seven days a week, at this point in my life I've negotiated the five days with myself, and it's working. So I don't want to blow that. Not now, not after 130 pounds!

So I'm not giving up this week, saying what the hell and starting over on Monday. I'm sticking to it, and on Saturday when I post my weigh in, even if the number isn't good, I can least write that I ate healthy all week and exercised every day. I'll know I did the best I could, and if I keep doing my best, eventually the results will come. Maybe not this week, but maybe in a week or two.

Big breakthrough on the Mabel front. She confided in me yesterday she got in trouble at school for hitting two boys in two different incidents at school earlier this week. She lost two recesses because of this. I'm pretty convinced her stomach ailments were due to nerves because she was afraid to tell Daddy and me about this. She even told us afterwards, "I feel so much better now!"

Coincidentally, earlier this week report cards were sent home, and on the signature page there's a box to mark if you want to have a conference with the teacher, and I had marked yes. This was before the hitting revelation. Pretty timely, huh? We'll have a lot to talk about.

As for our reaction to this, I was really pleased how Hubby and I handled it. We told her she has to be open and honest with us, because we don't want to hear about these things first from a teacher, etc. While she is being punished at home -- four days without computer games (believe me, this hurts) -- we told her she needs to not be afraid to talk to us, and even if she does mess up, we still love her. We also talked to her about controlling her anger -- each incident involved a boy who "annoys" her, she said -- and tried to drive home that hitting and violence isn't allowed.

This morning Hubby agreed with me that her stomach problems do seem to be coming from emotional causes, and it concerns him. I replied that we're already addressing it by teaching her how much better it feels when she talks about her problems instead of holding them in. "I wish I had had that when I was her age," I added. "Because when I was growing up, I never felt like anyone wanted to hear about my problems."

After I said it I realized I deal with this to this very day. And it has a lot to do not only with my weight, but with the depression I've battled since my teen years.

So there are the two big lessons for the day: don't give up, and don't hold back. Good things to remember.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Bargain

Tuesday was another gorgeous day, and I took another afternoon walk down the same country road. I went a little bit farther than Monday, trying to build myself back up slowly. I don't know if it's because I'm out of practice or because it's in the afternoon instead of the morning, but I think I get a better workout from walking on real terrain than on the treadmill. I feel like I make a bigger effort and feel more fatigued afterward.

This morning I went back to the lower body stretching/toning/weight resistance with the balance ball. I am definitely feeling the work I did on my upper body yesterday. Wow, I got out of shape fast! But again, I repeat: at least I'm getting back into the regular exercise.

I made an appointment for Mabel for next Monday. The nurse set it up as her annual well child checkup, so the insurance will cover it. And yesterday when she got home from school she seemed fine: she rode her bicycle for an hour after school, ate dinner, did homework and piano and played on the computer and never complained about her stomach. So who knows...

It looks like the dog babysitting thing isn't panning out. The woman who owns the dog is making tons of reasons/excuses why she doesn't want us to watch the dog (it's big and will knock Mabel down; it'll rip up our carpets; we'll be sick of him after one day), so maybe it's for the best. Hubby and I really liked the idea of having a "test run," though. Because we don't want to get a puppy and get all attached and then realize a month into it that Mabel's allergies are out of control, or that I can't stand the aggravation of it. My mom offered to loan us one of her dogs, one of which is a black lab, which is a possibility we may consider. We'll see.

It's been a long time, but we're finally closing on our house today! The owner's ex-wife must have finally been satisfied, because we got the call on Friday that he's ready to close ASAP. So this afternoon we will officially own the house we've been living in since Dec. 27!

Yesterday afternoon I had one of those black moods I detest. I felt stretched too thin by too many demands and I got irritable. I also got all childishly pissy about having to "think too much" about food. When I get this way I just want to be able to grab what I want to eat and not worry about the calories, the fat, the fiber, or if I'm getting the right balance of protein to carbs, fruits and vegetables, etc. Some days it's almost kind of fun, like a game I'm trying to win. But yesterday I got down about the drudgery of it all. I remember thinking, "I just want to be 'normal' and just eat and not think about it."

That sounds great, right? Just be a normal eater. But I don't know what "normal" is; otherwise I wouldn't have climbed up to 338 pounds, right? I'm still trying to learn what normal is, and the cold hard truth is, I may never be able to make it a natural thing. Like a person with food allergies or a diabetic, I may never be able to not think about it. It sounds kind of depressing, but that's only if I think about it in the negative. But realistically, is it such a bad deal? I get to be 130 (or more eventually) pounds less, but the price I have to pay is to be mindful and careful of what I eat. No surgical repercussions, no giving away of my first born child, no selling my soul to the eternal flames of hell. What's the problem here? To quote the Who, "I'd call that a bargain."

I just have to keep a positive attitude about it. I suppose a lot of people get this diet fatigue from time to time. But something tells me a lot of people, when they reach this point of getting tired of watching what they eat, just stop. I know I've dealt with it before. I guess that's what gotten me through three years and 130 pounds lost: I have these feelings, and I may even take a break, but I keep doing it regardless.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Gut Feelings

Good day yesterday. The weather was so nice. My afternoon walk was great: I took a different route since I'm in a new neighborhood, and talk about spectacular views! I'll have to take my camera and snap some pictures next time. I only walked about a mile, but it was a fairly steep hill and I got lots of leg work.

Mabel also got out her bicycle and rode around with the kids in our neighborhood. Yet another validation that our move was a good one -- I have a feeling this summer she'll be running around with this crew every day.

I am kind of disappointed that I'm sore this morning -- not a lot, but I can tell I exerted myself yesterday. It's amazing how quickly you start to lose it if you don't use it. But at least I am starting to use it again, so that's a good thing. This morning I worked on the upper body/arms since my lower back and thighs were a little achey. And I'm going to go for another walk this afternoon.

I'm also dealing with some bloat. This of course is partially due to my weekend excesses, but I can tell it's PMS week, too. This is month 2 of my new birth control, so it'll be interesting to see how my weight goes the next two weeks, since last month I definitely hung on to some bloat for a while.

This morning my concerns are moving away from my stomach and onto my daughter's. Mabel has this stomach thing that comes and goes, but lately it seems to be bothering her more. Because she's little and can't describe it well, I'm never quite sure what's really going on: if it's just gas, hunger pangs, or maybe even a nervous stomach. She doesn't vomit or have diarrhea, and a lot of times she gets distracted and it just goes away.

But it has increased in frequency lately, so this morning I turned the TV off and made her talk to me about it. I tried asking her pointed questions about how the pain feels, where it's located, etc. I also asked her if she thought it was brought on by feelings: being upset by something at home or school. I know she and this certain boy have been at each other throats since first grade, and a week doesn't go by that I don't hear another story of their confrontations. I'm not laying all the blame on the boy, because I know my daughter isn't an angel, but I wonder if the boy is as upset by these incidents as she often is. She did admit he bothers her.

As we headed out the door she also brought up a clique of girls at school who, she claims, get up and move when she sits down at the cafeteria table with them. I did my best not to invalidate or minimize her feelings. I told her I and probably everyone else I know had to deal with kids like this growing up, and it's hard to deal with, but unfortunately it's a common thing.

I asked her if she wanted me to call the doctor to see if there is a physical cause to these stomach complaints. I warned her that this might involve tests, including a tube down her throat to look into her stomach. I also said there might be food intolerances going on, possibly dairy or wheat, and we might have to experiment with her diet for a few weeks to see if we can pinpoint what it is. This wouldn't surprise me, because she's Vietnamese, and Asians tend to have a high rate of lactose intolerance. Although she didn't look too thrilled with the tube idea, she still wants me to call the doctor. So as soon as I'm done here I'm going to call the office and make an appointment.

I don't want to be an overly anxious mother, but this stomach thing worries me, whether it's physical or emotional. I'd like to rule out the physical causes, and if there are emotional issues going on, I want to get them addressed. If she needs a therapist, I have no qualms about taking her if it will help her get to the bottom of what's bothering her and find new ways of dealing with it.

I know where this is coming from. Because when I was her age, this is when things started falling apart for me. My family was undergoing serious problems, and to cope I turned to food. I also started getting lots of stomach problems. I even remember my mother taking me to a doctor for it. The sad thing is, even then I knew (as much as a 8-9-10 year old could) the bulk of my stomach problems were emotional, I didn't have the maturity and vocabulary to express it. Unfortunately, my mother and doctor didn't ask me the right questions to uncover it, either. It then moved on to depression, anxiety, compulsive eating, dieting and bingeing. If I can save my daughter from those things, I'll do it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Going to the Dogs

As expected, I didn't get to post yesterday. We ran from 10:45 to 5 p.m., then dinner, getting Mabel to bed, catching up on episodes of "Rome" on HBO, and it was bedtime.

I have gotten SO MANY COMPLIMENTS this past week! Even people who aren't typical observers and commenters, like my brother in law, have taken notice and think I look thinner. I suppose I'm just in one of those spots on the scale that really changes my appearance. My mother said it's my face, especially; there's a lot more definition there right now and my neck looks a lot thinner, too.

I finally broke my exercise embargo and did some toning exercises this morning. Sadly, I can feel it in my thighs, which means I was starting to lose some muscle strength there. Bummer! But hey, it just gives me more reason to hop back into it and get myself built back up again. The weather is nearly spring-like here and most of the snow is melted away, so I think I'm going to take a walk in my new neighborhood this afternoon and get a dose of cardio in, too.

Here's the "big thing" (it's one of my daughter's favorite phrases) that happened over the weekend. For ages Hubby and Mabel have been hounding me about getting a dog ("hound" me? get it? gosh I'm lame). I've balked and crossed my arms huffily and said time and time again I don't want the hassle and work of a dog. "I've already got two kids to clean up after (namely, Hubby and Mabel), I don't want a third!" has been my standard reply.

Well, they're either wearing me down with their constant whining, or I'm getting addle-brained, but I'm starting to waver on my steadfast objections. And this weekend when our friends, who are also thinking about getting a dog, told us about their trip to the Humane Society and how cute the dogs were, I felt myself weakening some more. Enough that I actually got on the HS website to see which dogs they were talking about.

The thing is, when I was a kid I adored dogs. I loved playing with them, walking in the woods with them, snuggling up on the couch with them. When tragedy struck and I discovered one of our beagle puppies got trapped under a swimming pool cover, I immediately dived in with all my clothes on and desperately tried to revive it (to no avail, unfortunately).

When I went to college in the city I went the cat route because my landlord would allow them. Cats were also easier to take care of (litter box instead of walking outside, etc.) and more independent.

I think I fell out of love with dogs as an adult because of the work involved. As a kid my parents did a good bit of the work: buying the food, paying the vet bills, cleaning the poop out of the yard. We lived on 14 acres in the country and didn't have to take the dogs out for walks because they had free reign over our property.
But when I lived in our small town and tried to own a dog, I felt more hassled than relaxed by having a canine pet: cleaning up the accidents in the house, controlling the shed hair, keeping my household items from getting chewed up, the list went on and on.

In addition to this I was a single mother with a little girl who also needed to be cleaned up after and constantly attended. So the problem came down to feeling too overextended by all the responsibility. I've tried different breeds, puppies and full grown dogs, but each time it just didn't work out. (By the way, the dogs I've had as an adult that didn't work out didn't get dumped at the pound: I got Ayla from the people who lived in my first house before I moved in, and when they returned to the area a year later they asked if there was any way they could have her back. So she happily went back to her original Mommy and Daddy. As for my two other doggy attempts, they have found very happy homes with my mom, who has a whole menagerie on our 14-acre homestead.)

So now I find myself on the precipice of another dog. Things have changed now: Mabel is older and Hubby is now in the picture. I still live in town, but in a different house that is off the main drag on a quiet street, which is bordered by fields. Our house is bigger, too, and already has a fenced in area. Plus, I'm a walker now, which I wasn't during the other dog attempts. I'm much more prone to enjoy walking a dog now than when I was heavier and hated to exert extra energy.

I've informed my family that the only way I would even think about getting a dog is if they promise and follow through on taking a big share of the responsibilities. Mabel then spent the entire weekend writing up "doggy contracts" listing what she and her Daddy would have to do to take care of a dog. Hubby even sat down with me and said he realized he would have to make a serious effort to assume dog/household duties.

These guys really want a dog. And today my mom told me that a friend of ours is leaving for Florida on a nine-day trip and is looking for someone to babysit her chocolate lab. Mom has told me before this friend has bemoaned her decision to get this dog because she already had a black lab and some cats and it's all a little too much for one household. My mom thinks that if her friend knew the dog was going to a good home, that maybe she might decide to give it to us.

So I've got a deal to give my family this afternoon: what if we babysit this dog for the nine days and see how life is like with a lab in the house? (This is the only breed of dog my husband wants and is pretty adamant about it.) And maybe after those nine days, if we like having a dog around and if the owner is willing, we could "adopt" it. If she doesn't want to give the dog up, then we start looking for our own. And if we don't like the experience, then our lesson has been learned.

Does this sound like a good idea or a disaster? I'm so unsure. I know there are some dog lovers out there. If you have any suggestions, I'd sure appreciate them.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Week 23 Weigh In

Well, I've had a "standstill" week and have remained at 206.5.

I'm actually quite pleased about this because last week I was convinced it was a "false positive" reading because it was such a big loss and probably due to dehydration. Seeing it a second week in a row makes it more real, if that makes any sense.

My mom and husband have both made comments this week that I'm looking "skinnier," which was also a positive validation. These people see me regularly, so for them to notice a change is kind of impressive.

I was watching BBC America last night and I realized something: in Britain women on TV are allowed to look like real women! There are fat ones and thin ones, with wrinkles and sagginess, crooked teeth, thin lips and non elfin-like noses. Even gray hair! And I'm not talking about the fringe characters that are either there to be made fun of or treated like dirt. These are the stars of the shows! For years I've adored Dawn French and her show The Vicar of Dibley. Other than being short in stature, there is nothing small about this woman, including her tremendous talent (in my heavier days I was even told I resembled her). While some fun was made of her love of chocolate, the Vicar was considered the sanest and most reasonable one in her community, and believe it or not, she was even considered desirable by men! I heard rumors that an American version might be in production starring Kirstie Alley as the vicar/preacher. Which just goes to show the difference between the two countries' media: the BBC had no problems with Dawn's size and her show has been one of the highest rated in British history, while Kirstie has to lose 75 pounds and make herself a public whipping girl ("I'm so sorry I got fat, I'll never do it again!") to be able to get a role.

That rant makes me sound like I'm anti-diet, which is a little hypocritical since this post is about me losing weight! The fact of the matter is, I may lose more weight and get closer to a more acceptable size, but I am never going to be one of the perfect girls you see on TV or the movies. My goal right now is to reach 180 -- considered downright huge by our media's standards. I'll have loose skin, floppy arms and thighs, along with the beginnings of graying hair and a few wrinkles that are starting to emerge. And I have a right to be who I am without expensive medical treatments to correct my "flaws," right? Some days I'm not so sure.

I hope everyone has a good weekend. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day, so I'm not sure if I'll find time to post. If not, see you all on Monday!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Get Over It Day

Yesterday's lunch was fun. I love getting together with this bunch: my mother, her two sisters, their cousin, and my first cousin, who is nine months older than me and was one of my closest friends growing up. So you've got four women in their 60s and two in their mid 30s, which is an interesting dynamic. It's great to get their perspective on life, kids, marriage, and we discuss almost every subject under the sun. These lunches often run three hours long because we're so busy chatting, sharing photos, planning holiday get-togethers. Plus we only do it about once every month or two, so we always have lots to catch up on.

Unfortunately, I'm not pleased with the changes at the restaurant we usually go to. I think their ordering options have actually decreased, especially if you're looking for "healthy" choices. Finding something to eat also got tougher for my cousin, who has been a vegetarian since the 1980s. In addition, they remodeled and gave up seating space for a lunch buffet (fried chicken, pasta, etc.), so we lost our big table in the back of the restaurant where we could hide out and talk the afternoon away. Now we're stuck right in the middle of the restaurant with everyone trying to squeeze past us. I have a feeling we may be looking for a new place to gather.

I wound up getting a side salad (my low-cal dressing came in handy because their dressing choices were poor), and a side of baked beans for my lunch. For dessert my aunts always order ice cream (it's been a soft serve ice cream place for as long as I can remember), so I ordered a baby size vanilla cone. Not the most exciting meal, but it was satisfying enough.

Supper was very light (baked fish and roasted asparagus) and within half an hour I was hungry. I forced myself to wait another half hour before I had my evening snack, then ate one of my high fiber snack bars, and that did the trick. I just don't know how people can do the low carb diets. Granted, they're eating all the bacon, cheese and nuts they want. But I just don't think I could go without my carbohydrates. I've definitely reduced the number I consume during the week and have make them high quality ones (whole grains, high fiber, etc.), but I don't think I could go cold turkey. Nor do I think it's very healthy to do so. But that's my opinion.

Yet another weekend is approaching. Talking about carbs, I've got "Pasta Night" coming up Saturday and know that will be a blowout. Sunday will be yet another meal out with the in-laws, which I actually made a game plan for with Hubby this morning as we got ready for work. Why, you may ask? Because I'm getting to dodge a bullet tonight and don't have to go to the high school musical at Hubby's school. I went last year, and while it was okay, it was such a long night (we didn't get home until 11 p.m.), I don't like being crammed into a packed auditorium for hours, and I don't know any of the kids in the production (they're Hubby's students who I've never met). Plus last year we took the in-laws and had to go out for dinner with them, too, which added even more hours to the evening.

I know I sound like a party pooper and an ungrateful wife and daughter-in-law. But I have to draw some lines somewhere. We see each other and eat out together so often (meals once or twice a week, plus visits), it's not like I'm missing out on some rare opportunity to be with them. Plus, I admit I'm a bit claustrophobic, and I get uncomfortable in that sardine situation those high school auditoriums produce. It's not only the sitting on top of each other in those rows of seats, it's getting crushed in the throngs of people getting to and leaving the seats.

I'm glad Hubby's giving me this one, because it's only fair. I don't give him grief about not coming to church with me. This past week I gave him a bye and took Mabel to an evening school event without him. My thinking is, if he doesn't want to go, and as long as it's not an important event (mainly something Mabel's performing in), I'm all right with it. I don't give him guilt trips about it.

Mabel may give me grief, however. She likes to pull the "I want to have Mom and Daughter time" guilt trip on me. But I know the truth: it's just Mom & Mabel every morning (Hubby leaves early for work), and Daddy isn't involved in the bath and bedtime routine. I'm the one who takes her to lessons, doctor appointments and the like. And sometimes after dance class on Saturdays we have a Mom & Daughter lunch (which is usually Chinese because Mabel loves it and it makes Daddy sick). And in the evenings when Mabel wants to cuddle it's rare that she's not curled up on my lap. We're even planning some more Mom & Mabel trips for this summer. So I won't let her try to sway me.

What will I do? Oh, something crazy like read a book (such a huge indulgence for me now!) or rent a girly and/or artsy movie my husband and daughter would turn their noses up to. And no, I'm not looking for an opportunity to sneak in a binge; I'm determined to stick to my Monday-Friday rule, even if it's just for the principle of the thing. Although I may have to switch this to a Sunday-Thursday week here soon so I can go to one of our local Lenten fish frys. But that's another post.

Feeling confident about tomorrow's weigh-in. Not sure if it will be a loss, but I expect it to be within a few pounds. At this point, with the illness and everything, I'm happy to be maintaining. Now that I'm near the end of the antibiotics and I'm beginning to feel rested and energetic again I'm getting geared up to get back to the regular exercise. I have a 5 or 10K (haven't decided which yet) walk to train for in June, so I want to be in top form.

Oh! I almost forgot! Today, March 9, is Get Over It Day. According to the site, "Everyone, at one time or another, has needed a little help or encouragement to let go of something, to forget about something, and to just get over it! Well, we've created a new holiday. The exact midpoint between Valentine's Day and April Fool's Day, March 9th, shall forever be known as Get Over It Day, an inspirational annual holiday to encourage people to get over whatever is holding them back." They even have a fire pit page where you can type in what you want to get over and throw it in the fire! Very cute.

I plan to get over my guilt about not going to the musical tonight. What would you like to get over?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Let the Sun Shine In

Vickie asked me to elaborate on what I men when I say I "call" my husband on something he says or does. My husband has a bad habit of pushing people's buttons. He loves to figure out what will irritate or set off a person and use it to get them riled up.

I don't scream or yell at him. I try to matter of factly say, "I know you're trying to get me fired up by saying x, and I don't appreciate it." Or I'll ask "Why are you doing this?" If he asks why, I'll tell him how it makes me feel. "When you correct me in front of our friends it makes me feel hurt and sad because it makes me look stupid," for example.

Sometimes I don't think this tactful way works. Sometimes he'll immediately understand, apologize and tell me he'll try not to do that again. But sometimes he laughs it off and can't figure out why it would bother me.

Getting angry doesn't work. When he wants to push my buttons this is exactly what he's aiming for and he finds it hilarious. When I've probed him about this he thinks my angry is a "going along with the joke" anger. It's all a game to him. When I tell him how upset I am, he's almost always surprised.

If he continues doing something that I've already "called him on," I go past the angry point and go into Shut Down Mode. This gets his attention, because I'm not playing the Push My Buttons Game and he feels shut out. This works, but only as long as I later address with him what shut me down.

So I hope that clarifies it a little.

This morning, for the first time in weeks, I woke up antsy and ready to leap into the day instead of forcing myself out of bed and dragging my tired body to the bathroom. It got even better when the sun rose and shone brightly through our house as we got ready for work/school. My mood was so good, even when we realized right outside the school that Mabel forget her glasses (again) I didn't go into a five minute rant on her forgetfulness. I got about 10 seconds in and said to her, "I'm not bothering with this. It's not the end of the world."

This is a good thing, because I do have a habit of going overboard about things like this, and then she picks this habit up and does it, too. Do you other mothers find certain habits of your children so incredibly annoying, and then realize it's because it's a habit of yours that they've adopted? This also works in the other direction -- there will be something my mother does that bugs me, then realize it's because I do the same thing. It's definitely been an eye-opener for me and makes me more aware of correcting my bad habits -- mainly over-reacting, perfectionism, indecision and playing the martyr. Gee, I've got a lot of bad habits, don't I?

Food went well, despite some temptations. We ate out last night after another round of allergy shot/orthodontist appointments for Mabel. I got the grilled chicken breast and steamed veggies, and salad with low-cal dressing. The rice I packed up and saved for Mabel for supper tonight. My temptations? Besides the bread (which is wonderful), my daughter ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and only ate about a quarter of it (because she ate so much of the bread!). I easily resisted the bread, but oh boy, that grilled cheese sandwich looked and smelled so good! It's one of my favorite comfort foods, and seeing it sitting there on her plate virtually untouched was quite tough. But I resisted.

And when we got home I "rewarded" myself by digging into the strawberries I bought at the grocery store. They smelled so good in the store, and when I bit into the first one it was like biting into summer. I wound up eating two cups of berries with some fat free Cool Whip, and I was able to treat myself guilt-free with delicious food for 150 calories.

Then sister and brother-in-law stopped by to pick up their Girl Scout cookies, and Mabel and Hubby both felt compelled to open our boxes of Thin Mints and Somoas and started chowing down on them. My only saving grace was that they didn't touch my Tagalongs. I don't think I would have been able to resist that.

Today I've got a lunch date with my mom and her sisters. We're going to our usual restaurant, which has been closed the last two months as the new owners remodeled it. So I'm not sure what changes they've made to the menu. I know there's a new "lunch buffet" which I'm sure is pretty dodgy. I'm hoping to find at least one or two healthy choices, and I packed my lo-cal dressing in my bag just in case they don't carry any. You'd be surprised (or maybe not) how many restaurants don't carry any lower calorie or fat free dressings. A lot of restaurants' "healthy" options are salads full of cheese, fried chicken strips and even French fries(!!), or mayo-laden tuna or chicken salad. So I'm hoping I can find something I can eat without guilt or giving the waitress a list of special instructions.

Mentioning waitresses, my daughter calls male wait staff "mantresses." I've told her they're called "waiters," but she likes her word better. I don't know why that just popped up in my head, but it did.

While we're at it, a quick addendum to my muffin recipe I listed a few days ago. I miscalculated the calories on the flaxseed meal, so I figured out that one muffin (if you make 15), is actually closer to 250 calories. That's pretty high for a muffin, but they are super concentrated full of healthy things. And honestly, I've been eating one in the morning, and they are very filling and make a substantial breakfast.

In addition, we have affectionately started calling them the "Poop Muffins," because they will make you regular! So be forewarned!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Navel Gazing

I was typing in some more old journal entries (April and May 2004) and it was nice to revisit some of that early optimism and all the validation I was getting as I lost my first 40 pounds. It's funny; I got more comments then than I do now, having lost 130. But like I mentioned before, the past year it's been so much more gradual, whereas back then the weight loss was pretty fast and furious. Besides, I had been so obese for so long, that it was definitely a startling change. Now that I'm not so big, and the changes aren't that obvious, it falls under most people's radar.

I also think a lot of people, including myself, have pretty short-term memories. My mom is one of the few who seems to get periodically startled by my appearance, but that's because she has a lot of old pictures of me around the house that remind her of what I used to look like.

Even I have trouble remembering exactly how I felt and looked when I weighed over 300 pounds. I've said to other people that part of the problem was being so detached from my feelings and my body back then. The other part is that it has been gradual; I didn't wake up one morning and weigh 130 pounds less. My body is still my body, but it's just slowing deflated over the past three years.

However, the other night I was thinking about my regain period and how disappointed I was when I got on the scale when I returned from my honeymoon. In the pictures of our trip I look bloated, and I definitely felt that way, too. I also felt a lot of failure because of regaining so much weight, even though I never got back to the 300s, which was one small consolation. But I knew that if I didn't get some control back over my eating, it wouldn't be long.

I guess what saved me was all the hard work I had done in 2004, establishing exercise and eating routines to which I could easily return. I beat the odds and was able to turn it around, which I know isn't the usual story.

I remember when my big goal was to get under 230; at the gym I went to the weight limit on some of the machines was 230, and I was so hopeful I could break that threshold someday. Part of me is glad that I didn't just settle at 230 and I continued to find new "brass ring" weights at 200 and 180. But I do have a little concern that I may reach a point I'll make goals for myself that are unrealistic and unattainable and will beat myself up for "failing." I don't want to set myself up for that, so I'm definitely trying to stay in tune with my body and when I get to these mile markers, taking a thorough analysis of how I look and feel.

The thing is, I 'll never reach a point that I'm totally thrilled with my body. I will always have my knock-knees, my scars, and now lots of loose skin that make me less than perfect. I don't want to say I want to find a point that I can "settle" with, but that's basically what I have to do. I have to find joy in my strengths and find forgiveness and acceptance for the things that aren't going to change. Granted, I could have plastic surgery, but my uneasiness with doctors/ hospitals/operations is larger than my vanity.

Besides, I don't want to fall into that fear/denial of aging that involves the face lifts, the tucks and expensive treatments to turn back the clock. Even my hair: as it goes gray I really balk at dying it, because that's all it takes to start the "I can't let anyone know I 'm getting old" snowball.

Maybe this ties in with being fat; when I was over 300 pounds I knew I wasn't tricking anyone into thinking I was thin by wearing certain clothes (black is slimming, never wear horizontal stripes or white pants!). Likewise, when I see an older woman with a face lift I'm not tricked into believing I'm looking at a 25 year old chick.

Let's face it: we all get old, we're all going to get wrinkly and saggy and all the other "fun" things that come with age. So I'm just getting used to the saggy thing early. My Hubby doesn't turn away from me in horror; in fact it's quite the opposite. Since his opinion is the only one that really matters to me (other than my own, of course!), and he thinks I'm sexy just the way I am, why worry myself about not being perfect?

Can you tell by all this navel gazing that not much is going on right now? We're in the midst of a big snow, all the schools are cancelled again, and we're just shoveling ourselves out of our homes. Everything's all right on the food front, the only exercise I'm getting is housework and the aforementioned shoveling. I'm still not feeling 100 percent but I am slowly improving. So I'm just doing what needs to be done and taking it a day at a time.