*Results Not Typical

I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was eight years old. I was a kid who took water pills, owned my own copy of Sweatin’ to the Oldies and Deal-a-Meal, and wished I could be anorexic (liked food too much) or bulemic (I hated barfing.) I went to a kids, hospital-sponsored weightloss program. I went to a dietician. (Memorable point: there was when she said I could eat “low fat,” and found a 0g fat Entemann’s coffee cake. I ate the whole thing.) I rode my bike back and forth from my house to Remke’s (supermarket) ten times, equalling ten miles. I walked around the neighborhood. I seemed unable to stop the increasing gain. I hated scales. I hated my doctor’s office. I hated the clothing available, and settled on oversized t-shirts, jeans, and a flannel jacket that fit my Dragonlance books neatly in the inner pocket. I loved the brief time in middle school that I got to play floor hockey. I loved tennis. I loved lifting weights in a brief PE unit in high school.

When talking about activities I loved, it would be incomplete to not mention my junior and senior year, where I auditioned and made it into the high school marching band color guard. My instructor kicked my ass, and for my latter high school years, was the mentor I needed. She was tough, but fair. Despite the fact that my weight only budged about 15 lbs total during those years, my head was held higher when I started my junior year, and people noticed.

I hadn’t intended on telling that story, but I guess it needed to be put there as a preface. I’ve lost five pounds! In Weight Watchers, that would equal a star and a round of applause. It’s been a long time since I’ve lost five pounds in a concerted effort to eat better, and I’m pretty happy with myself. This is an achievement I’ve been waiting for for a year.

Here are the secrets to my five pound success (which has taken me three weeks of effort):

  1. Tracking my food intake with a free online/mobile app – I’ve been using MyFitnessPal which has an enormous database that makes it easy to track my calories. It also includes a barcode scanner for easy tracking of packaged foods. I leave the setting for my base metabolic rate (BMR) at sedentary, and set my goal loss at 1.5 lbs per week.
  2. Tracking my daily activity with a fancy pedometer – Fitbit syncs with MyFitnessPal and alters my daily caloric limit based on my activity level. It’s not fool-proof, but it’s nice to know for sure when I can eat more because I’ve earned it.
  3. Eating the right foods – This is the really hard part, because it’s not as simple (for me) as calories in and calories burned. I need to eat THE RIGHT foods for me, and it turns out that a low protein diet (10-15% protein) is a DISASTER for me.

    Years ago, I bought Jillian Michael’s Winning by Losing when it was in hard cover. Inside she had a Metabolic Type quiz (found here as well) which says I’m a “Balanced Oxidizer” that needs 30% of my calories from protein (30% from fat, 40% from carbs.)

    What’s amazing to me is that focusing on getting enough protein (and lower amounts of fat and refined carbohydrates) had led me to crave refined carbohydrates MUCH less, and when I do indulge, it’s not the disaster it’s been before.

    The other key thing for me is to cut out the non-nutritive carb fillers. I did not eat the scoop of brown rice on my plate last night, which saved me about 100-200 calories. I did, however, indulge in the petite chocolate cake for dessert, and I enjoyed it MUCH more than that scoop of rice. I’ve been passing on the bread, for the most part.

    Making sure that I eat 30% of calories in protein is brutal (along with keeping my fats under 30%), especially because I just don’t like to eat that much meat and non-cheese dairy products. My supplementing with a mid-morning Vega Energizing Smoothie in almond milk has made a huge impact on whether or not I’m satiated when I eat lunch. Further, shifting my breakfast from cold cereal to quick steel-cut oats (1/4 cup dry) had helped stay my hunger for a little longer.

These results are not typical, and I don’t claim to know about whatever you need to reach your health goals. I go to the gym for strength training three times a week, and am trying to jog/run at least five miles total a week. I’m also a mother of a very active toddler and live in a city where I walk almost everywhere.

I’m hoping I can keep this up, mostly because I like that I’m seeing results on the scale, and in general, I feel more energetic. Really, that’s what this is all about, feeling good. I need that.

Spring Cleaning

What is it about Spring that has us longing to push out the cruft and start anew? Is it something we learn culturally, or a part of the rhythm of the world?

I hardly know the answer, but what I do know is that I’ve not been baking as much as I had been (which is probably a good thing), and I’ve got that longing to DO something.

Home:

I finally, after years of dithering, put up items for sale on Ebay. I’ve had an Ebay pile collecting for at least six months, if not longer. So far, I’ve sold two things, and perhaps grossly underpriced another item which is now being bid on for a low price (about $90 less than the starting price of the same item in another auction.) Truly, another man’s trash or clutter is another man’s treasure. It astounds me how people are piling on to this one item, which is made of rip-stop nylon, and not likely to increase in character or beauty over the years, yet another item of quality manufacture, made of leather and a classic design, goes unnoticed.

Body:

As I’ve written before, I’ve been working my ass off at the gym, and have not been losing weight. My trainer finally mentioned that she would be doing my weight/measurements next week, and I told her that it wouldn’t do any good because there was no measurable change likely. She said that it was likely the type of food I’m eating, especially since I’ve been struggling with constant hunger. This week I’ve been challenging myself to truly keep tabs on every thing I eat, while also trying to get in 30% of my daily calories in protein. This is hard. This is VERY hard. You see, I have tended to get about 15% of my daily calories in protein, due to the fact that I don’t eat beans often, I don’t eat nuts (barely ever), and I do eat some meat, but I honestly want to scale back on animal products.

Instead of the Weight Watchers (which I no longer follow) approved “free” snack of fruit, I’ve been drinking a rather tasteless protein shake made with vegan protein powder and almond milk. The amazing thing this switch has done for me is that it makes me less ravenous, and I typically now feel sated for longer (and even guiltily so!) and look at my number for the day, and see that I’ve actually eaten (or over eaten) less than my previous trend.

Mind:

I’m hoping to boost my creative output, but I’m not sure where to go with it. After NorWesCon, I was inspired to work on fan art, but found after gripping a trusty pencil for the first time in ages that I actually have some pretty mean carpal tunnel. It’s not terrible, but it’s noticeable after awhile as my fingers and thumb go numb and cold. This is on top of TOS (thoracic outlet syndrome) which causes the other fingers in my right hand to similarly go numb when my shoulders hunch a particular way.

I need to develop a practice, as well as some organization. I’m feeling very scattered, which makes me wonder if I am ADD after all (I was diagnosed as kid, but never felt it was so severe that I needed medication.) I think I just need to find some adaptive practices. Any artists have recommendations on how to start?

…Anyhow, that’s what I’m up to these days. I look forward to the summer coming soon, as that I’ve had quite enough of this rainy cool weather. It’s not even Junuary yet.

End of the Week

Today ended my challenge to myself to do 10 minutes of a beginner workout for five days. Tomorrow is my Weight Watcher weigh-in, and I don’t expect any weightloss. This is because I’ve had a rough week with eating. Today was the worst. Let me tell you about it.

I’m new at being a mom. My kid is just over 2 months old, and days can vary from him being low-maintenance to needing extra love and attention (and constant guessing as to why he’s screaming.) Today was the latter. I was already tired from poor sleep last night, and by midday, when THINGS started needing to get done (washing bottles, making formula), he wouldn’t even settle in the Moby on my chest. Finally, as I was prepping for a feeding, the Girl Scout cookies I purchased the other day says, EAT ME. Samoas. My weakness.

So I ate 5.

This wasn’t terrible. What capped it off was when, after my husband got home, he asked me to check if a new gadget was working in the basement entertainment center. I go down, and a YEAR OLD BOX of Lemonheads was sitting there. Open. And I ate about half of what was left in the giant box. The giant, YEAR OLD box.

Then I ate a Sumo citrus upstairs, and realized I really should have skipped the Lemonheads and eaten the Sumo, which would have been 1) Free on the Weight Watchers plan and 2) provided the tart sweetness that the Lemonheads provided.

I guess, with a week that feels like a food failure, it’s not a total loss if I came away learning something. Next week, I’m going to try to eat lean protein and fruit instead of refined carbs, which I’ve grown addicted to (obvs. with the Lemonheads.) Also, I know the key to my success is exercise, and this week I proved I can make a plan and stick to it, I just have to start small and work my way up.

The other key is working on the emotional stuff, which is making sure I have the care I need, and making sure I have childcare covered so I can take care of the things I need to take care of (or go back to work.) But that’s another post…

2012: Fitness

I’m coming to the end of the first month of motherhood, and realizing that I have a long way to go to return to my pre-pregnancy shape. At first, I was sure I would just pick up some inexpensive clothes at a thrift store to tide me over for the (hopefully) brief period of being too large for even my largest clothing. I hatched this idea about a week ago, and haven’t managed to get into the store to execute this plan. I also started tracking my food using Weight Watcher’s eTools – though I can’t say I’ve done well following the plan until this week, which so far I’ve made a noble attempt.

What this has gotten me, though, is about one pound up and a bit down. I’m still wearing maternity clothes (when I happen to get out of my jammies), and I’m feeling a bit dumpy and down. I know this is par for the course for a new mama, and I’m not sure how to break out. I’ve done my body measurements to see what size I am, and it’s hard to get a grip that I can shop at plus-sized shops (in the smaller sizes). This, oddly enough, makes me relieved more than sad. When I was at my largest (which was 60+ lbs from where I am now) I would occasionally have that blissful experience of trying something on at a plus sized store, looking in the mirror, and saying, hey, this looks good on me! This wouldn’t even be at a time where I was experiencing weight loss. Size doesn’t tell you if you look or feel beautiful. It’s hard to remember that.

Fitness is something else – that’s about how I feel and less about how I look. At my most fit, I was bothered by being able to see all the sinews in my neck, or how narrow my face would appear. Also, my wrinkles were more prominent! While I think I looked good (and was, frankly, stillthe fashion industry’s “plus size” 8), I wasn’t so keen on my face. What I really liked was being able to run and feeling strong and fit. That felt pretty awesome.

I’m not sure how or when I’m going to be able to get back into shape. Today may be the first step. It’s not that I can’t afford new clothes, as to thankfully my job pays me enough that I *can* – I just didn’t want to spend money on what was going to be a short-term solution. Realistically, though – it took 9 months to put on this weight (45 lbs!), so it will take time to take it off.

I have a few personal obstacles right now. The first ones are lack of sleep and being caffeine-free, which drive my hunger for carbs. Then there’s the intense feeding schedule for the newborn, which makes me feel like I have no time for “me” – either for a workout video or going for a walk. Then there’s the weather, which is typical Seattle unpredictable, with miserable chilling rain making me rather stay inside.

There are a lot of things I need to figure out to adjust to this new life. Here’s to the beginning.

Eggs vs. Eggs

As my frittata breakfast settles in my stomach, I thought I’d write about my most recent experience at an IHOP in Texas. I don’t go to IHOPs, or any national chain restaurant, if I can help it, or am going through a particular bit of insanity. This is mostly because that in Seattle, you have unending choices of delicious food that is from local businesses (including local ingredients!) I’m still on a path of weight-loss, so Texas is a challenge no matter what. I thought that I could navigate breakfast rather simply, even when the family chose IHOP, but it turns out I was wrong.

The order was simple – 2 eggs over medium, 2 strips of bacon, whole-wheat toast.

What I received was all that, PLUS hash browns and an extra slice of toast, both drenched in butter.

I left one slice of toast and hash browns to the side. I planned only to eat one of the eggs, but ended up eating both. During the entire meal, I was stunned with the fact that the texture of eggs and bacon was there, but the flavor wasn’t. It wasn’t for lack of salt, as I sprinkled more than my usual on it. It wasn’t for lack of hot sauce, either, as I slathered my eggs in Tabasco and Cholula. My brain even raised the question, “Are these eggs sweet?” It seemed like I couldn’t escape a syrupiness, even on my eggs.

I’m a fan of bacon and eggs. It’s something I eat on a semi-regular basis, usually being a piece of bacon and a single egg. This combo breakfast usually sustains me for 4-5 hours before I remember that it’s time to eat. This is much longer than my usual high-fiber breakfast cereal gets me. I have found that the key to being satisfied and not overeating is limiting my simple carbohydrate intake, or ensuring that I pair all simple carbs with protein or fat. I hoped that my order at IHOP would net me the same fortitude as my experience with bacon and eggs at home. I was horribly, horribly wrong.

One reason this happened could be that I ate toast (and a bite of pancake) along with my protein and fat rich breakfast. It was whole-wheat, and naked except for butter, so I don’t imagine it had much of a glycemic impact as naked toast alone. The other reason, and I don’t have a scientific basis to believe this, is that perhaps the IHOP eggs and bacon and our eggs and bacon at home (which come from the farmer’s market) are actually different, nutritionally. IHOPs sources are likely from CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), where our sources come from a short ways out into Washington, where allegedly, the animals lead happy lives up until their deaths. The feed itself, perhaps, makes a difference.

All I know is that in a short 2-3 hours, I was really, really hungry. Unreasonably hungry.

Maybe, instead of obscenely stacked burgers and plumped up milkshakes, THIS IS WHY WE’RE FAT. Food, in the greater parts of America, is so bland and tasteless it requires monumental amounts of salt and sugar to make it taste like anything, and when you’re done eating, you’re hungry in short order. Your tastebuds are constantly deprived, deprivation leads to overeating, almost as if you keep on eating, somehow taste will appear. Maybe this bite will be tasty?!

Corn syrup has taken a hit as the culprit of the obesity epidemic. Maybe corn syrup is just another symptom. Maybe the CAFO meats and dairy and fake-food (ie. artificial sweetners, flavors, and artificially low-fat foods) being devoid of flavor, REQUIRING more of ANYTHING to give it flavor are to blame for obesity.

After my excursion into the Heart of Darkness America, I can note that it will be very, very hard for me to ever leave the Pacific Northwest.