I Am That Girl Now

Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm better now, I swear!

My sister, having just got back from hiking the Grand Canyon with our dad (not everyone in our family is traditionally sedentary, y'see), discovered that I had melted down yesterday and called last night. By that point I was on the rebound and feeling optimistic again, so mostly I grilled her about her love life. The sisterly love was felt all around.

You guys. I adore you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Just knowing I'm not crazy, knowing that it is the weather and not my wussitude, knowing that this is normal-- seriously, that helped SO much. I did a HIIT session last night after I got home from work, with my normal mph levels dropped a notch, and whaddaya know, the moment my legs hit 4.5 mph they got the happy. That "oh! running! my favorite!" feeling, where suddenly I want to frolic around like a puppy. I haven't had that since the heat started, and it was like seeing an old friend. That alone cured all ills, I swear.

Here's the scoop on my situation: I do have a big ass fan, and we do have one window cranked open enough to fit a fan that blows the hot air (and coincidentally the cat litterbox stench) outside, so it's not as bad on the porch as it could be. The reason the treadmill is out there is because we live on the second floor of our building, and the floors/ceilings transmit sound like nobody's business. When I first ran with the treadmill set up in the living room-- even with one of those mats underneath-- our downstairs neighbor threatened to call the cops if I ever did it again. We moved it onto the sun porch, which is made of concrete and transmits vibration a bit less than the drum-like floors. It's freezing cold in the winter and hot as hell in the summer, but thus far we haven't had an early-morning visit from law enforcement.

I get up at 5:20 AM, because we have to leave for work at 6:45 AM, and I exercise immediately. I'm thus far barred from running outdoors because my Hub is a paranoid creature; he doesn't want me to get hurt or raped or killed out there in the mostly-sleeping city. I try not to get him too riled up, so I don't do outdoor running unless I'm in a group or a heavily populated area. Ah, the price I pay to keep my spouse from getting an ulcer.

I'd love to run outside early in the morning. The times I've done it, I loved it like fire; wind on my face, birds in the trees, early-morning delivery people going about their early-morning things. I gotta tell you, there's pretty much nothing that I envy my sister about her boyfriend, but having a built-in running partner? Yeah, that's the one thing. Sigh. Maybe someday she'll move to Chicago and we can run together in the mornings.

Currently a gym membership is out of the question. That's actually part of what put me in such a state of despair; we are so tapped for money right now, it's not funny. I just had to spend money I didn't want to on a new Palm, because my old one's on/off switch ceased to work and it would've cost as much to fix as to get a new one (what the hell is up with THAT?). I've been trying to make do by using the soft reset to turn it on, but that's enough of a pain that I've found myself using the Palm only for my workouts. Which means that I haven't been tracking my meals. And even though I'm eating clean-- sticking purely with meals that I know are on-plan, and using the palm-of-the-hand/size-of-a-fist gauges for improvised meals-- I don't feel comfortable with it. I like tracking my meals, dammit! I like knowing that I didn't go over my calories and that my carbs and protein are neatly balanced and being able to notate my drinking water and...

Er, I was going to say, this means that I definitely had to buy a new one. My whole darn life is kept on my Palm, so limited access has been painful. I'm just so pissed. I want to be able to afford new clothes and a gym membership, dammit! I can feel myself verging on the point where I'm mentally strong enough to accept instruction from a professional ('cause dude, while I'm building this castle in the sky of gym membership, might as well imagine getting a personal trainer, too) and to bust my ass in public, and so I keep hitting this point where I get frustrated by lacking the social aspect of training. Admittedly, I want better machines and a better weight set available to me, too. I want to be one of those folks who goes to the gym first and then heads to work.

Problem #2, besides the money, is the lack of a car and the fact that I live in Chicago, where we have rather inclement weather for half the year. That limits my pick of gyms quite a lot. Problem #3 is the Hub, again. I'm going to have to start getting him used to the idea that I will someday have a gym membership and he will either have to let me go alone or come with me. I have to admit that I'm hoping he'd choose to come with; even for a sedentary computer geek like my darling, there has to be something he'd enjoy doing at a well-equipped gym.

Anyway. Not limitations: challenges. I do bounce back pretty quickly after breakdowns. I'm gonna figure this all out, and it will be fine.

Tomorrow, we leave for the in-law's. Today, I have to develop a plan for how to deal with my BFL eating while there. Thus far it's all about the vegetables: making sure that I have cucumber and celery (and possibly zucchini and squash) available to chop into munchy finger-food portions. I'm pretty sure I can manage carb/protein amounts on whatever mom-in-law will cook, and I can bring a good stash of meal bars along for midmeals. I may bring along my turkey chili recipe (which was received to rave reviews when a friend came over last night) and the turkey sloppy joes recipe. I'm going to have to be my own best friend on this, because while usually my Hub runs interference for my diet while we're at his folks', this time he's still (STILL! GODDAMMIT!) paralyzed with fear where feeding me is concerned.

So tired of this. So tired. He completely freaked out last night when called upon to cook something that would be both visitor-friendly and me-friendly, and if I hadn't gone into the kitchen at an hour past meal time and said, "Heat up three portions of the turkey chili and make a salad and BE DONE WITH IT, for God's sake," I doubt we would have ever been fed. It's going on two months, for pity's sake. I bought the damn Eating For Life cookbook so that he could look through it and get ideas. (Which is great, 'cause I love it, but he has touched it ONCE, and that was when I practically shoved it into his hands.) I am swiftly reaching a point where his fear of upsetting me IS UPSETTING ME, dammit, and he doesn't seem to grasp that I would much rather have him act decisively and be wrong than futz around in a frightened manner all the time, effectively leaving me with all the work.

Anyway. Planning. Lean on the vegetables this time. Grab some EggBeaters and low-fat cheese at the store and make very veggified omlettes in the mornings with some fruit on the side. It's three days. I can live through three days.

I'm going to bring along my weights, because (thank God) Sunday is lower-body, and I can get away with having only the weights (no exercise ball or anything) for lower-body. Saturday is my day off where exercise is concerned, so that's all good. Monday I'll run outside, and try out doing intervals the way I've read about. It will all be good.

Tonight, we have to stop by the cheap-ass clothes store and get me more shorts and tops. The problem about having been this size for only one other summer of my adult life is that I lack adequate clothing. I'm still trying to get to the point where I just lack adequate good clothing.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Runners, I need help

Besides the mental help which we all know I need, this time I mean I need advice.

This heat is killing me. I can't function. We only have air conditioning in one room of the apartment (well, two, counting the bedroom, but due to shitty wiring at our shithole building we can't have them both on at once), and suffice it to say that it's not the sunporch which houses the treadmill. It's already 85 degrees in there when I get up in the morning, and there's no breeze because-- very special!-- 90% of our windows are so old and busted that they can't be opened. I have a fan, so there's that, at least.

Thing is, I feel like I just can't run worth a damn in this heat. I've been pushing through it for weeks now and Sunday seems to have been some kind of breaking point for me. I went in there this morning and my iPod wouldn't work (apparently the charger hadn't been connected right; it's fine now), and I was starving, and I stood on the treadmill with my temporarily-dead iPod in my hand and burst into tears. I just couldn't face it.

I don't know anything about running, see. I don't know if the heat actually makes me work harder, so I should be running slower, or if the heat is just making me into a whiney little wuss. I can't tell! All I know is that I'm having horrible run after horrible run and it's making it so that I dread my cardio mornings. I can't manage to do HIIT anymore because I end up having to stop and lean over gulping for air. I feel like I've completely lost my game and it's scaring me to death.

What do I do? I want to get a heart rate monitor, because I'm hoping that it'll prove that I'm working harder than I think I am, but what if I'm wrong? What if I'm just being lazy and it proves that I need to work harder, even in this nasty heat? What the hell do I do?

I think right now I need to put my head down and have a good cry, is what I need. I feel trapped and scared. I have this horrible fear, that crops up at times like this, that I was fooling myself all along, that I can't hack it, that something's going to go wrong and I'm going to backslide helplessly into a zero-fitness place again, lose all my muscle, lose my flexibility, lose my speed-- and of course end up fat again. Having the running go all hinky on me is triggering that fear in a huge way and I feel like I'm losing my mind.

So scared, guys. So freakin' scared.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I think the thing that drives me crazy the most is a lack of communication. Not being understood. Having my intentions and my words completely mistranslated. What I immediately do, of course, is assume that if I phrase it another way, the person on the other end will understand, and so I launch into further explanations until the subject is so beaten to death that it looks like roadkill. I just can't seem to shut up. My Hub has alerted me to this tendency, adding, "Personally, I think it's cute. I just can't tell when I'm supposed to start talking again."


I'm looking at this today, because I keep feeling like I want to further explain myself to my friend, but I know it won't help. It's another case of my assuming responsibility for the problems of the universe: I assume that the communications glitch is because I didn't explain it well, or say it right, or explore everything thoroughly. I forget that there's only so much I can do, and past that point it's the other person's job to do the listening, and hearing, and comprehending. I forget that there's another mind on the other side with her own peculiar blind spots.

It's egotism of the up-fucked variety, I know; if I was assuming responsibility for things going right in this way, it would be obvious. For some reason I only think of egotism in terms of "I'm so great! I rule!" and whatnot. I must get this redefinition through my brain: anything where I'm not sharing the responsibility load, for good or for bad, with the other person means that I am being egotistical.

I really have to learn to let go, because I think my assumption of that much power in a relationship fuels my blinding frustration. After all, if you don't think you should be able to control something, it doesn't frustrate you when you can't control it. When you think you should be able to control something-- and that's what I'm doing when I think "I just have to explain more"-- then when you can't control it, it becomes deeply frustrating.

You know what chaps my hide the worst? In these situations, I always end up fuming because no matter what, the other person thinks they're right. It's difficult for me to internalize my own knowledge that "right" is something different for everyone when it comes to things that I feel deeply about. That may be the insecurity talking again, fear driving the anger (oh, I can tell when it's that brand; there's nothing else that slams into the pit of my stomach that way)-- it's not so much that I want to be right, or that I want to deny the other person's ability to also be right, as that I am somehow horrified with the idea that they think I'm wrong.

I can't figure out the panic. Logically, it has to occur that I'm wrong about things on occasion (well, more than that). Also logically, it's not a bad thing to be wrong. I hold the firm belief that there are many truths, and that what is true for one person may not be true for another. I think what scares me is the other person's opinion of me-- the idea that they think I'm wrong gives me a gut-wrench of panic, that, depending on the circumstances, I have to either explain myself or correct myself or correct their misperception as soon as possible. Because if I don't fix that, then they'll think that I'm stupid, bad, ignorant, lazy, arrogant, and possibly fat and ugly on top of that-- in short, worthless. (Hrm. Self-esteem problems much?)

I know, I know. Logically, I know that this is incorrect. I can't figure out for the life of me why I freak out so much at the thought of somebody thinking I'm wrong. It's a childhood thing, I know; isn't everything? I was put into the position early on of being unsure of my own worth to my parents, and so I continue questioning my own worth to everyone else. Gah. I hate being a textbook case.

You know, my Hub recognized an eating pattern of his very own for the first time yesterday-- he realized that when he's horribly stressed, he gets an immediate craving for something hot, bready, cheesy, and involving tomato sauce. He told me this, and then said, "So what do I do about it?" Honestly, I didn't know, because it really depended on where he wanted to go with it. (He decided to experiment with low-cost versions of the hot/bread/cheese/tomato route, rather than low-cal. Whatever floats his boat, dude.) On the one hand, with this sort of thing awareness truly is the first step, but where do you go from there?

I don't want to be scared anymore. I want to still find myself worthwhile even when I'm wrong, or when people think I'm wrong. I want to be able to trust my friends, my family, my collegues to find me worthwhile even if they think I'm wrong. I want to be able to graciously accept correction when it is merited. I want to be calm enough in this to be able to let go.

I guess it's like anything else. I just have to breathe, and remember what's going on, and find ways around the fear. I just wish I could find this little scared baby girl in my head and get her to stop being so nervous already-- there's just too much that's wrenched around because of it. Sigh.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Monday, June 27, 2005

All or nothing, esteem or loathing

I was working out a theory the other night on why it was so hard for me to accept that nobody was watching me, judging me, giving a rat's ass about what I wore or what I ate at a restaurant. The theory ended up being something like this: without self-esteem, we're completely dependent on other people to give us importance. We need to believe that we have an impact of some kind upon others-- but in the absence of self-esteem, it becomes impossible to believe that we could have a positive impact upon others, so we're left with the idea that we have negative impact or none at all. It thus becomes desperately necessary to believe that people think horrible things about us, because under those rules the only other option is to believe that they don't think about us at all-- that we are invisible. And since without the opinions of others we have nothing at all, we cling to those negative assumptions like fire.

Something like that. I need to work on the wording some more.

I was thinking of this again today because I have been informed that the way I live my life has convinced a friend of mine that she will never be able to lose weight. If she can't do everything I do, right this very minute, she can't do it at all. Nothing I can say can convince her otherwise. My existance has caused her to lose all hope. I rather feel like having a good cry right now. I had it in my head somehow that by actually telling people what I do, I helped, and now it turns out that this is not entirely the case. That's a rather shattering concept right there, and I'm trying not to overreact.

I know. I know. This part is not something I can control. And this friend has her own problems, none of which have anything to do with me. I still feel bad.

What IS it about the lot of us that we get this all-or-nothing mentality going? I have it, God knows, and I've heard the same story so many times from so many bloggers that it seems to be a remarkably common trait, long before weight becomes an issue. Where does it come from? How do we fix it? How do we learn to find the gray areas?

Someone wiser than I might know how to get through to my friend. I don't. I'm completely helpless, and I hate that. Proof again that I'm not over the black & white view of myself-- in this case, I feel like either I'm helping EVERYBODY or I'm USELESS. Oy. ::smacks self upside the head:: I gotta stop this. I gotta let go.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Lotta good, lotta bad

After much discussion on what we ought to do regarding my "splurge" meals this weekend, my Hub came up with the brilliant observation that at this point, I ought to avoid splurging in situations without set portions-- hence, for the most part this should be in restaurants. He also deduced that if I drink, I should do so at a restaurant, where such things will be limited by three of my own inner quirks: an aversion to bothering the waitress overmuch, an aversion to overconsuming things in public, and an aversion to spending too much money. (Two of those apply to the food thing, too.)

The more I consider it, the more I believe that this is pure, unadulaterated genius. It gives me the option of learning to indulge under very controlled circumstances, and in doing so it also takes my old concept of indulgance and turns it on its head. Where it used to be that my big splurges were binges-- solitary, secret, and usually with me on my own turf-- now the big splurges will be in public, in the presence of other people, and seen. Brilliant. It's the best shot I've got at re-wiring my brain on this particular section of food indulgance, and I love that it's fighting fire with fire-- using innate limits I have on some things to start training me to have a limit on food.

I have married such a smart man.

We checked over the weekend and decided that Taste of Chicago was in, because we were limited to four strips of tickets to share between the two of us, which creates a built-in limit money-wise. The party at my friend's apartment could not be dealt with as a splurge meal, however, because there would be food and alcohol involved in a sort of ghetto buffet, and because it's more important for me to learn how to socialize at parties without either the crutch of alcohol or the distraction and protection of constant grazing.

Therefore, we went out to dinner on Saturday night. The original plan had been to finally try the Korean BBQ place one neighborhood over, but when we got there the place was packed. The upshot of this was that we've managed to confirm (even without eating there) that it's a fantastic restaurant, because it met our two criteria for ethnic cuisine: 1) it smelled FANTASTIC and 2) it was utterly mobbed by people of the restaurant's ethnic stripe, thus indicating that those who know the food approve of this restuarant. We stood in line for ten minutes and then gave up and went to a bar/steakhouse a block down.

I had two goals going in: first, that I would eat slowly and track the sensations, in order to learn to gauge my own fullness, and second, that I would limit quantity if I could. I ordered one beer. We ordered some appetizers: two oysters on the half shell (my Hub had never tried one before, and at 50 cents apiece, it seemed like a good time to end his raw-oyster virginity), four oysters Rockefeller, and ten buffalo wings. I had my share of the oysters, two of the buffalo wings and then ceremonially wiped up with my handi-wipe, declaring myself done.

(One of the themes of the weekend, incidentally, is my Hub's tendency to offer me things. It's sweet, in a way: anything he's enjoying, he wants to share. In the past, I haven't noticed the pattern, and just accepted the offers and, often as not, let it spiral into a little eating spree of my own. Not good. These days I'm practicing saying, "No thanks, sweetie," and not regretting it. He doesn't appear to mind, as long as it doesn't make me upset. He doesn't care so much about the yes or no, he cares about my reaction-- if I'm upset or stewing or angry he feels horrible and guilty, but if I'm calm about it he never minds me saying No. Good to know. Another brick in a good foundation, I think.)

For the meal, I got a reuben with fries. This is the first reuben I've had in a restaurant in two years, folks, and I tell you right now I'm not getting one again. There's nothing I wasn't horrified by. Not enough sauerkraut, for one thing, and the bread was wimpy and tasteless. The cheese startled me by being greasy (my, I have gotten used to 2% cheese) and... good grief, the corned beef had inch-wide swaths of fat imbedded in the meat. I don't remember corned beef being like that. Dear God. That was horrid. The fries were droopy and fairly tasteless; I wasn't in the mood for malt vinegar so I dumped catsup on them and was surprised by how sweet catsup is.

Ate the whole thing nonetheless. I honestly should have rejected it and got the waitress to bring me something else, but that's not something I really have in my restaurant vocabulary yet. I didn't want to cause a fuss over having stupidly ordered something I didn't like, and I didn't want to waste my splurge (in retrospect, duh, this was wasting it on crap I didn't like), so I ate it. It occurs to me that I might benefit from etiquette books-- most of my issues here are due to the fact that I grew up entirely unaccustomed to waiters and waitresses (fast-food restaurants and buffets were my parents' customary venues for eating out) and so I've had to pick these things up from watching my friends. If I knew what the "right" way was to deal with situations like this, I could proceed with more confidence.

We shared bread pudding for dessert. I find more and more that I require dessert to be something substantial rather than frothy or creamy; I wish to chew.

All in all, not bad. We finished, went home, and I made mental notes on the nasty sensation of being over-full and on how much I was served versus how much I should have eaten. Bleah.

Skipping ahead for more food fun:

Sunday at Taste, we had four strips of tickets to share-- 44 tickets in all. This is a huge step down for us from previous years, in which we've been known to buy four strips of tickets apiece, and come back more than once for a similar blow-out. Last year I was on WeightWatchers and so I planned out very, very carefully what I was going to eat, within my Points budget and within my ticket budget. This year, I had two strips of tickets that I controlled. My Hub and I picked carefully, on a "I want to try this" basis versus a calorie basis, and shared everything. This was not virtue as I have traditionally defined it; this was an honest-to-God compromise between the crazed binge and my everyday eating. Amazing. My Hub was happy, since for the last few years Taste has been followed by horrible food-induced illness for him, and there was no sign of such this year. Yay.

The food tricks I pulled for the Pride Parade party were many. First of all, my Hub marinated some chicken breasts, which we brought and which were grilled alongside the brats and hamburgers and veggie patties, and they were GREAT. (You can't understand my irritation with restaurant chicken until you've tasted one of my Hub's creations; they're always simply prepared, juicy, tender, and so full of flavor that I make uninhibited yummy noises.) For my carb, I carefully separated the two sides of a whole wheat mini-pita round, coated each side with Laughing Cow Light cheese and a dusting of garlic powder and black pepper, put a bunch of chopped scallions in the middle, and smushed it back together. This was also grilled, so it got all crisp on the edges and the cheese got all melty and the scallions got all cooked, and it was droolworthy. Also, I trimmed up a bunch of sugar snap peas and tucked them into an aluminum foil pouch, which was also grilled. Yum. I brought along a container of cucumber chips and a 2-liter of diet soda (I try not to buy it anymore, so that makes it seem special when I trot it out for parties), and ate my food and my food only, and drank my soda, and had a good time. I did not touch the chips, the cookies, the meat, the drinks, or the candy. My Hub was right: in an unlimited food type of situation, it's best for me to just stay the course for now.

The bad part I mentioned... well, mostly that was about the 5K.

A mental note: never ever ever eat a nasty "splurge" meal the night before a race. It was hot out, and oppressively humid, and I had a very nasty time of it in spite of my pretty good finish time (I'll find out the exact number when they post the chip results). I had to walk. I had to stop to walk. I've never had to do that in a race before. I never let myself. That I did, this time, was humiliating, and I wouldn't have done so except that my spirit was already broken from my other problem on the race course.

That is to say, out of nowhere I developed some bladder issues. (God, this is embarrassing.) I leaked, and couldn't for the life of me track down the muscles involved to clamp down on things; I seriously couldn't feel 'em. It was completely fucked up. I ended up throwing water on myself at every water station to camoflage the resulting wet spots. I felt completely humiliated, and angry, and spent the last ten minutes of the race thinking more about how I was going to hide this from my Hub and my friends (thankfully, a far-too-large race t-shirt saved the day).

I'm mad at myself for sprinting out of the gate and not getting a steady pace at all on this race. First mile was less than 9 minutes; second mile was 10 minutes; third mile was a grim, gritted-out eleven. I thought I'd do better with my iPod to set the pace. No such luck.

I came in right around 30 minutes, which is still good time for me, but the race was completely ruined for me (obviously). Grrr.

This, in combination with the upcoming visit to the inlaws', indicates that I really need to get some kind of running device. Problem: I am on a budget, and since to be honest I only run outside once a month or so, I don't know what to get. I need something that could be a heart rate monitor and an interval/lap timer, but I can't spend more than $70 or so at most. Any advice?

For more of the bad, one of my friends has hit a point of despair with dieting. The scale won't budge, she won't get a referral to a nutritionist from her doctor, and she sees exercise as a horrible thing that, considering she's not getting any results right now, is unacceptable punishment that she would have to do for hours every day. I'm trying hard to figure out how to respond. I'm personally convinced that she's driven her metabolism into the ground with her yo-yo dieting over the years, and that the answer is to adjust her diet in such a way that would bring it back up, but she doesn't listen to me. ARGH.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Today's discovery:

Turkey bacon is a problem product for me. On the one hand, I love the smokey bacon smell and taste it gives. On the other hand, the texture is just wrong-- not only is it not bacon, but it gets all chewy. No no no.

I needed more protein in a chili recipe I was making up this morning, so on a whim I chopped up the turkey bacon and threw it into the food processor. Voila! Turkey bacon crumbles! For a little flavor (and because I kind of accidentally overdid the protein and had to balance backward), I chopped up a Granny Smith apple and threw that in the food processor with it. DUDE. I'll take it.

I can't get over the fact that I made the whole darn recipe up-- based in equal parts on a Calorie Commando recipe, Maggie's turkey chili recipe, and the chili recipe on the back of the chili beans can. And it's good! I portioned it out into sealed containers (fast-food microwave-safe ones we bought in bulk, hooray!) and tucked it into the freezer, ready for next week's lunches... but my Hub, who had gotten a taste before I portioned everything up, came in and raided the freezer immediately to use some of the chili in his mock chilequiles. I'd be mad at him for messing up my plan, but I'm just tickled at the moment that he liked the stuff so much that he wanted some RIGHT NOW.

Recipe under the cut.

Turkey Chili

20 oz ground turkey (lean)
9 slices turkey bacon (Jenny-O extra lean)
2 small apples
1 red onion
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans (or regular kidney beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
10 oz tomato sauce
1 chipotle pepper
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp Frank's Red Hot sauce

(Note: all seasonings approximate measures. Use your own judgement and season to taste-- I like things hot, so watch out. And yes, that's cocoa powder; I use it in place of Mexican chocolate. Sometimes I put a little cinnamon in, too. And a dash of red wine would not be amiss here, either.)

1 Roughly chop turkey bacon and apples; put into food processor and process into fine grind.
2 Chop onion, dice chipotle pepper.
3 Brown the ground turkey; drain off the fat.
4 Put onion and ground turkey bacon & apple mix into the pan with the ground turkey. Brown a bit more.
5 Get out a big pot. Put the mixture from the pan into the pot; add all remaining ingredients. Stir. Let simmer until thickened. Makes 8 servings (aprox. 270 grams apiece). Freezes well. Enjoy!

Aprox. 250 calories, 6.3 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, 6.5 grams of fiber, 24 grams of protein.

And as a bonus, the recipe I made last night:

"Confetti" in a pita

1 tsp olive oil
1 package spinach
6 slices turkey bacon
1 can mushrooms
½ onion (sweet)
1 clove garlic
2 cups low-fat or non-fat cottage cheese
4 rounds mini pita bread (or 2 regular-sized pita rounds, cut in half)

1 Thaw spinach; squeeze out water. Open can of mushrooms and drain.
2 Dice onion, garlic, turkey bacon, and mushrooms. Chop up the spinach as best you can.
3 Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions, and cook until translucent. Add turkey bacon and mushrooms; cook another minute or two. Add spinach. Stir and cook for another minute to let the flavors mingle together.
4 Take the mixture off the heat and put in a bowl; let sit briefly to cool. Stir in 2 cups non-fat or low-fat cottage cheese. Taste; season any way you want.
5 To serve: stuff into mini-pitas (aprox. 1/2 regular size) or 1/2 of a regular sized pita round. Serves 4.

Aprox. 213 calories, 3 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbs, 5 grams fiber, 23 grams of protein.

I've already made a batch of turkey sloppy joes this morning, too. Currenly working out a dip recipe and a fried "rice" recipe for the leftover bulgur wheat. We will, by God, have food in the freezer for next week, and I am bound and determined to make it using what we have on hand. I am NOT going to the grocery store this weekend.

We have a barbeque to go to tomorrow. I'm trying to figure out what to bring. I have the "splurge" meal alotted for it, but I don't want to make myself sick, you know?

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Friday, June 24, 2005


Today has been an eye-opener on many levels.

This morning, I was stirring natural peanut butter into our morning bowls o' oatmeal and I licked the teaspoon that I'd measured out the peanut butter with. I contemplated the taste and suddenly something struck me. "Hey," I told my Hub, "I really like natural peanut butter. I mean, I think I like it better than the other stuff."

"Yeah," he said, "me too."

This is a startling idea. I never have the feeling that I want to binge on natural peanut butter the way that I have on regular peanut butter. I like that it tastes more like peanuts. I like that it's up-front and honest about the oil-- it's right there to see when you open the jar-- instead of hiding it inside. I like that it can swing both ways in terms of sweet and savory.

It's... wow. This has made peanut butter into an ingredient for me. Like olive oil, or scallions-- something that I like, but that isn't something you eat on its own, or eat a lot of. WOW.

All I can think is that it must be that there's no added sugar. And that led me to consider the fact that in the past six weeks on BFL, I've been very low on refined carbs and refined sugar. By actual choice. And by this point I don't really want it. I mean, holy shit, my favorite candies used to be the kind that was almost entirely sugar and flavoring-- Nerds, Sprees, Pixie Sticks, Smarties, circus peanuts (I know, I know), anything like that. Chocolate came in second. Now? Now I think of that stuff and I swear to God, I instantly get the sensation of an oncoming headache. Wow. When did that happen? I mean, seriously, when the hell did that happen? If there was something I did to make that happen, I wish to God I'd been aware of what it was-- because if I lose this again, I need to know how to get it back!

Here's another weird thing: I'm noticing that I want the "splurge" meals less and less. That is, until I have one, and then I don't want to stop-- I start veering out of control in a big way and it's dead hard to pull out of the tailspin. It's become a definite pattern, and-- God help me-- I'm starting to kind of dread the splurge meals because of what follows. I don't like the pattern. I don't feel like the food I'm eating is worth the way it makes me feel.

(Fuck-a-doodle-doo. I sound like some kind of fervently earnest weight-loss book. I swear to God I thought this shit was something that happened to other people but not to me. Apparently I was smacked upside the head with the dumbass stick at some point in my childhood, because I was dead wrong.)

That said, I don't think it's a good idea to take away the splurge meals, because life is not perfect, I am not perfect, and it's better that I practice my regrouping strategies under optimal circumstances than avoid the practice and then not have those habits in place when I need them. I'm not sure if that makes sense anywhere outside my head. I'm downright afraid of not practicing-- I'm more afraid of losing control on the larger scale, of completely losing my lifestyle, than I am of having two meals a week when the Inner Cartman comes out to play (feeling like something of a Godzilla-sized Cartman) and makes me lose control. It's like there's a muscle in my brain that I need to exercise weekly so that it doesn't atrophy, so that when I really need it I'm able to call on that strong "regroup" muscle and regroup every. damn. time. Forever.

Back to the sugar thing. It really struck me today, right down to the bone, that the way I think about what I eat is changing. (Note: "what", not "why" or "when" or "how"-- for all of those, I'm still dealing with the daily struggle and hoping to reach the point where they are natural preferences, too.) Given the choice, I eat food that will fuel me properly and keep my energy up. I like that. I'm becoming much more dismissive of "fake" food that isn't going to fill me up and isn't going to keep me going and isn't all that tasty. I think the main reason I've been able to avoid those crap chocolates in my office all week is because I have this very clear idea in my mind of what they'll taste like-- that dry, grainy thing you get with lousy chocolate. (My Hub reports that the chocolate bars-- another type of candy that was distributed at the meetings-- were waxy. Ew.)

Holy crap. I think I've hit that point. My preferences are starting to align with what I've been taught and the things I've been trying and trying to learn. I can't express how cool this is.

In purely food news:

Today we ate out at lunch, after the driver's license renewal (I look great in my pic but also look like I might bite somebody). I ordered a turkey burger (actual Jenny-O lean, hooray!) that came with a side salad and potatoes and a tiny bowl of fruit. And God help me, I got picky. Too much bun, for one thing; unseasoned turkey, for another thing. (Thankfully, no mayonnaise.) I took burger off bun and doused burger with hot sauce. Ate the burger. Ate the fruit. Ate a little of the bun, but got really bored with it really fast. Didn't touch the potatoes; they didn't interest me. Tried the side salad and discovered that it was literally dripping with some kind of vinagrette; it was weirdly sweet and neither I nor my Hub cared for it at all. So I really didn't end up eating much off my plate at all, and yet I was full.

Here's the other thing: I didn't feel bad about wasting food. I mean, this is seriously a first. I ate what I needed and left the rest and didn't give a shit about what the waitress would think or feel any guilt about picking at and playing with my food. It's so totally a self-confidence thing, I think. I feel special enough to act in a way that makes me stand out without worrying about what people will think-- particularly since 90% of the time nobody gives a shit anyway.

I'm making up more recipes. I threw together chicken, sweet onion and apple tacos last night, based on a recipe I glimpsed once. My Hub loved them. Today, I was searching for something to do with the groceries we have, and threw together a turkey bacon, onion, spinach, garlic, mushroom, and cottage cheese dip... well, it was going to be a dip, only I liked the confetti-like look it had to it, so I didn't run it through the food processor. I'm going to stuff it into those half-sized pita rounds as a wacky kind of sandwich.

And for something very special, I introduced my Hub to kumquats. He'd never had them before, and they were on sale for half off (sadly, while such things are cheap in California, where I was introduced to them, they're painfully expensive in Chicago). He LOVED them. Granted, this is the man who taught me to enjoy eating citrus peel, so kumquats are really right up his alley, but it still delighted the hell out of me that we were having this very special treat-- that was fresh fruit. We're getting the hang of this. Oh yes.

No Golden Pancakes for us tomorrow, 'cause we're out of cottage cheese. (Ack!) Now that I've got the kitchen stocked with BFL-appropriate foods, and I've got a good enough grasp of BFL to improvise, I can just grab some other things. I haven't had a good egg-white omlette for a while; that sounds like a good idea.

Since Sunday is going to be pretty heavy on the activities, I think I need to get my weekly cooking taken care of Saturday.

1) Turkey sloppy joe mix, to freeze.

2) Figure out a balanced carb/protein dip (without cottage cheese, this is going to be interesting... experiments with whey protein powder are in my future) to eat with cucumber chips.

3) Psudo-stroganoff. Whole-wheat egg noodles, ground extra-lean turkey. Figure it out, make it.

4) Start hashing out plans for next weekend, 'cause we're going to visit the in-laws. Oh my. I can handle this-- I just gotta figure out how.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

I forgot what a damn girly-girl I can be (and I mean that in the best of ways) when I put makeup on and pay attention to my hair. Particularly now that I'm small enough to look like I think I look (if that makes sense) and wear cute clothes. I get all crazed for reflective surfaces and I strut past them and preen. It's embarrassing. I also feel the deep need to dash off clutching my credit cards and buy every outfit ever, and shoes, and get a haircut and a manicure and and and--

I'm not sure if I need to play dress-up more often, in order to de-sensitize myself to it, or whether that would be too dangerous. Eee. Then again, you think this is bad, you should have seen me at my wedding. Complete girlathon. I'd forgotten I had it in me, back when I was heavy. It still takes me by surprise.

Today I'm getting my driver's license renewed, and since this makes the first time I've done so since losing weight, I feel the need to look damn good in my license picture. I know it's silly, but... dude. I want to mark the fact that I Am That Girl Now, and to hell with the past.

Race to Taste is this weekend. That was my first 5K, just one year ago, and I came in just under 40 minutes; this time, I'm planning on blowing that out of the water. I am going to program a kickass playlist into my iPod Shuffle tonight. With that sort of rockin' and rollin' going on, I think I could match my time from April's 5K.

Taste is also this weekend. For those of you who haven't experienced it, Taste of Chicago is Chicago in a nutshell-- a hell of a lot of food, blocks of booths, food food food. My first years here, before I stopped doing that kind of thing, I spent so much money at Taste it's not funny, because I ate EVERYTHING. Repeatedly. It may be a sign of my encroaching maturity that I'm looking at the food list this year and saying "eh." Most of the stuff there are things I don't eat much anymore, and I've had it all before. Hell, now that we know almost every restaurant in the area, I no longer feel like much of it is a novelty.

Still, there is cheesy bread to be had. And if I can no longer stomach the chocolate-covered frozen cheesecake on a stick (alas, last year it made me violently ill... farewell, old friend!) there are still crab legs and watermelon and cheesy bread and gourmet pavillion fun to be had. And the Race to Taste! Strange how that's turned into the most fun for me...

In other news, I have now had crap chocolate from last week's meeting in my possession for more than a week. In fact, it has been sitting in my office all week. I have not eaten it. I'm rather proud of that. I'm starting to get all "BRING IT ON" about challenges like this, and at the moment I'm not even going to do the pessimistic thing where I admit that it won't last forever. Maybe it will last forever if I don't admit that I can't. What the hell, I can be optimistic. I have makeup on!

Speaking of which, I must go freshen up. Love y'all.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Transitional damage

The more I study my own weird psyche, the more the similarities between my issues start to stand out. I have problems changing tracks. My Hub refers to this as "if you were a car, you wouldn't corner very well." I love forward momentum; it's turning or changing the plan that throws me for a loop.

This is a problem.

When I'm eating, I like to continue eating. I get all happy about the process, about the lovely taste of things and the way it feels in my mouth and I just want to keep that thing going. In spite of having been doing this for a year and eight months now, in spite of having the knowledge tattooed on my brain of what a proper serving size is, in spite of being perfectly satisfied, stomach-wise, with a proper plate of food, there's always this sad little voice in my head that pops up at the last bite: "What, it's over? Nooooo! I was enjoying it so much! Can't we just keep going?"

Until a few days ago, I hadn't made the connection between that reluctance to let dinner end, my problem with changing plans, and my reluctance to change other actions. Once at rest, I feel inclined to stay at rest. I have inertia. I never particularly mind doing things, once I'm in the process of actually doing them-- it's the transition, the part where I'm going from a passive state of being to an active state of being, that I dislike.

I find that the actual transition period has two distinct phases, broken up by three points. Phase A begins when I realize that I probably ought to be doing something (or when I am told I'm going to have to do something), and ends when I finally go do it. Phase B begins when I start doing the thing, and ends when I finally stop my mental complaining about the fact that I'm having to do X instead of nice, comfy Y.

The points are immutable-- they all happen, every time. The phases, though, can either go by very quickly or take weeks. During cranky phases A and B, I am just plain off. I'm irritable. I'm just short of pissed off.

It occurs to me that all too often I allow myself to wallow in these phases for much longer than the actual task takes to perform. I am a natural procrastinator, a queen of the art form, and I can manage to bitch about having to do something for a solid month before I actually get around to investing any time in it. (That said, unless it's something I genuinely resent having to do, I usually forget that I was mad in the first place mid-way through the task.) This make very little sense when I think about it, because the faster I get over myself and get the stuff done, the sooner it's out of my hair.

It's not just tasks. It's new things, or unfamiliar things, or things I don't remember being particularly good at. Parties, bowling, meetings, family gatherings, writing thank-you cards, going to a parade, discovering the bottom of the ice-cream bowl. If I'm the least bit anxious about it, I will whine and put myself in a mood for far longer than such things deserve. And the thing is, it is me putting myself in a mood.

I always think about this process, if I think about it at all, as a way of avoiding fears and anxieties and the annoyance/pain of going through these things. It is that, I think, but like binging (particularly as discussed in this prior post), my foot-dragging and procrastination doesn't accomplish what I want it to accomplish, it just makes things worse.

I really do need to get the hell over this. It's an old, old habit, older than the binging or even mere overeating, and it's comforting in a screwy way, but it doesn't help me at all. It doesn't do anything but damage. The scary things don't go away, and my fear of them doesn't go away, until I do them. I can control this, I know I can; it will make my life better if I do.

Breathe in, breathe out. Gotta give it a shot.

Cut for length-- click to read more.


I'm trying to get the grumpy out of the way so that I can deal with the rest of my day. I'm feeling ignored by people who are happily reorganizing the system that I am supposedly in charge of; they put together a task force to deal with it and left me off of it. Um, hello, but last time I checked this was my job. I'm doing my deep breathing and going through the appropriate channels to get this corrected-- more the "icily polite professional" type of anger (based on the model of a dear friend, who's very good at IPP anger) and less of the HULK SMASH! sort of rage. I realize that I'm feeling insecure, that being ignored like that automatically made me question my own importance, and the fear created this anger. So, rather than react out of that anger (even though I really, really, REALLY want to say "WHAT IN THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING, YOU FECKLESS TWAT?"), I'm going to act as though there is no question of my importance. I'm going to be on this task force, period. I will not be left behind. The company needs me on there, my department needs me on there, and by God I'm going to get on. I will be polite, but relentless. I will not give in to my intense wish to yell swear words. No no no.

On the up side, today is Day 40 on BFL-- nearly halfway through! I had to modify my lower-body workout slightly because the step-ups caused me great ass pain last time-- I'm pretty sure that the chair was too high for my little legs, so I was using more hamstrings & glutes than quads, which will not do 'cause those come next (on lunges, for God's sake, and those are killer). I'm thinking again of building a box for step-ups. My lunges are off and on; my mind wanders because I hate them so much, and so I end up not using the correct form. Me dumbass. Me need to do lunges correctly. That said, I wouldn't let myself give up. I'm getting better and better at that.

In the first four weeks, my weight joggled around fairly constantly but stayed for the most part right above 130. I weigh in officially tomorrow, but I snuck a peek today anyway, and it appears that after the first four weeks, I've been creeping down half a pound per week. It's not the 2 lbs/week that I was accustomed to on WeightWatchers, but hell, I feel 200% better, and I feel fairly confident that the weight coming off is fat, not muscle. My upper belly continues to deflate, which pleases me greatly. My Hub tells me that my legs are looking leaner. These are good things.

No lunch with my Hub. He is stuck in meetings all day. The theory is that they'll be feeding him; if not, I'm going to have to run downstairs and get him some food. Poor boy.

Okay, I think I'm better. Calm, cool, collected. Breathing in and out. Time to face the day.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Poor folks clearly want to be fat, say wealthier idiots

I am utterly fuming over some of the responses to yesterday's post at the Skinny Daily. Apparently, many people find it obvious that poor people just don't think that eating healthy and exercising should be a priority, and that rich folk do.

Excuse me while my class rage spirals out of control. Christ on a pogo stick, what exactly are people thinking here? In case they missed it, obesity in the United States is in part an economic issue. Anyone who has spent time in the lower half of the economic spectrum knows this. What's cheaper per serving: a gallon of ice cream or a pint of berries? A bag of chips or a bag of apples? What keeps longer, fresh vegetables or a can of soup? Oh, and when you're working two jobs to put that crappy food on the table, you better believe that prep time is a major concern. Crap food doesn't take prep time. Fresh food does. Crap food doesn't spoil. Fresh food does. And crap food is cheaper than fresh food, particularly in the winter.

Yes, there are ways to do this. Of course there are. But we know better than anybody else that it takes a lot of concentration, work, and committed time to learn how to cook healthy, period; healthy, fast, and on a budget is triple the challenge. When you're eating crap food and not getting exercise, you have less energy-- add in long, discouraging work hours and you're lucky to have enough oomph to feed your family at all.

Yes, we all know that it can be done. But pointing fingers and saying "Clearly, these people don't want to be healthy" is just plain mean and hypocritical. Don't any of us remember the steep learning curve at the beginning of our weight loss journeys? The frustration of having to learn how to cook all over again, of fighting with grocery lists and struggling to learn how to properly stock the cabinet, of having to come home night after night and having this extra burden of health on top of the cooking? I don't know about y'all, but I found this to be a giant pain in the ass. Worth it, yes, but if I hadn't had my Hub doing the lion's share of the cooking I would have spent so, so many nights just curled in a ball saying "It's too much, it's just too damn much."

I have relatives who work two jobs and live the life that these folks replying to the SDP are describing. They do like beer. They do like nice TVs. They drive pick-up trucks or SUVs. I know them well and love them to death. They get home in the evening looking for a quick fix, some kind of release from the drudgery and from the underlying constant panic of the fact that there's a limit to how much a person can work in a day and there's just not enough money. Some of their purchases are not smart. When your income is limited, you tend to go for quick fixes there, too; things that you know will make you feel better. Hell, I do this, and I'm living extremely well by their standards. When you're in a cage of any kind, there's a caveman rage and panic that builds up until you batter yourself unconscious against the bars-- not so much in an attempt to get out as a desperate need to move.

Yes, they could probably feed themselves better, and find the time for exercise. The sad fact of starting any diet and exercise program, though, is that money makes it easier. The more leisure time you have available, the more time you have to read up on nutrition and lifestyle tips, to experiment with cooking, to exercise, to prepare for the next day. The more money you have available, the more of a safety net you have-- money to pay for the fresh fruits and vegetables, money to restock after those fruits and vegetables go bad before you thought they would, money to stock up on Lean Cuisines for as long as it takes to get the lunch-packing thing figured out, money to pay for a gym membership that's convenient for you, money to pay for proper running shoes, money to buy a sports bra and a pair of dumbbells. Like it or not, money and leisure time make this journey a lot easier. That's not to say that it's easy for anyone, rich or poor or middle class-- but damn, the rich folks got a bad-ass safety net. In my opinion, it's a lot harder to get started on this hard journey if you just can't get the time to take a running start at it or buy the crutches to hold you up for those first few desperately hard months.

Oh, and let's not forget the wonder of peer pressure. Aside from all the studies done on this sort of thing by people who know what they're doing, my own experiments in these matters indicate that even when people in your life mean no harm by unconsciously supporting unhealthy habits with the group dynamic, it's still deeply weird to try to go against the social norms within your group. There's a certain sense that trying to eat healthy and exercise is a rich person's game, it's "fancy" and a waste of time and effort. My family is much more likely to roll out the barbeque and chips and chocolate cake and cola and beer than to ever dream of serving a fresh fruit platter. There's a sense that it's just not our style, particularly from the older generations.

Again, that's not to say that it can't be overcome, and I'm not saying that there aren't families out there who either have a natural high level of activity and tendency toward healthy eating or are badass enough to make the transition. I'm just saying, this is another problem. I don't know about anybody else, but a strong sense of tradition is sometimes all that holds my extended family together and food is one of the highest-held traditions. Leave home and what do you do when you're homesick? You make family recipes and eat them. (I do, anyway, which is hysterical because my immediate family utterly sucks at cooking.) Changing those sorts of deeply held traditions can throw a whole family for a loop and get you looked at funny when you bring different food to the church potluck.

There's a certain pride in being on the just-scraping-by end of the economic spectrum-- pride in doing the best you can with what you've got, pride in not living above your means, pride in community and teamwork and family. There's scorn of the upper classes that goes along with that (oh, there always is), and part of the things that are the most scorn-worthy are the personal trainers, the gym memberships, and above all the picky little healthy eating habits. There's a strong feeling that these are silly things that rich people can afford to worry about and that po' folks don't need to bother with.

This is just another one of those cases of people not respecting the difficulty of this endeavor-- and it stings more because it's coming from people who should know better, people who've been through or are currently going through the transition into healthy living. This shit is hard. It's harder still if you're trying to do it without a safety net. Possible, yes. Easy, no. Pointing at po' folks and saying "They just don't want it enough, they don't put a priority on their own health" is no good for anybody. Don't forget, the vast majority of people that attempt to lose weight-- regardless of class-- fail at it. I respect that it's going to be hard for anyone, but I can't help but assume that there are certain parts of it that get a lot easier when you have more money. Working fifteen hours a day out of dire, desperate necessity is a lot different than choosing to do so out of ambition-- in both cases, you'd make less money, but in one case making less money would cause you to lose your home and starve. Different circumstances.

Now, personally, I make a respectable wage. It's not great, but it's livable. Same goes for my Hub. Thing is, we're also saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student loans to pay off, and because we don't like having to depend on our credit cards during emergencies, we also tuck as much money as possible into our savings accounts. (Which is, I admit, a downright pitiful amount when compared to the amount sent to the debtmongers every month.) Between debt and savings and normal living expenses, we each get a small allowance on every paycheck to spend as we like.

Once upon a time, when we first moved in together and were living as unhealthily as you please, we spent $100 every two weeks on groceries, and the only food expense out of our allowance money was money spent on take-out and restaurants. These days, I'm spending half of my allowance every damn time on grocery shopping, because the amount that the pre-planned $100 buys has just plummeted. I've beaten my brains out trying to bring this amount under control. I try. I try very hard. And I'm still spending an absurd amount of money. And spending money on food means that I'm trapped in a situation where I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, or activities, or entertainment-- a situation which makes me fairly stressed out and which, if I didn't have the constant balanced fuelling going on, would have me binging on chocolate again. I can't even imagine having this tight a budget WITHOUT the money going to debt payment and savings, and to have to choose between debt, savings, food, and entertainment. I would lose my mind.

Okay. Rant over. I need to go get some water and do some work. Sigh.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

I would overeat, but it takes so much energy

We have to start getting to bed at a sane time on the weekends. That's all there is to it. The transition back into weekday time is KILLING me.

I keep falling asleep in my Hub's office when we do lunch. Finish eating, kick back, and whoops, out like a light. I did the same thing last night after dinner-- I just curled up on the couch and passed out. Out of nowhere we had a friend stop over at 9:30 last night-- my usual bedtime!-- and for an hour I was caught between wanting the friend to go and feeling like a jerk for valuing my sleep over time with a friend. Apparently my priorities are, indeed, all about my lifestyle. I still feel like a jerk. Sigh.

On the up side, it's nice to know that a) my body demands rest when it's operating in a sleep deficit and b) I'm actually attuned enough to those demands to recognize and act upon them, as opposed to feeling like crap and overeating (which of course didn't help matters one bit). Good body. Good job. ::pats self::

They're painting in our office and the fumes are just murder. It's giving me a headache. How stupid am I that I forget to bring Advil to work? Ow, my friggin' head.

I keep idly thinking of the chocolate in my desk and then sort of shrugging it off. I've gone over to it and poked it with a finger a few times, but once I get that far I become disillusioned and remember that it's utter crap chocolate, and I wander off again. Pretty good as such things go.

I have packed whey powder to bring home. I have the 5 lbs. of unflavored whey at home, but I've been throwing a little chocolate whey powder into the fudgesicle mix (and a little Torani's sugar-free syrup) to boost the flavor and the protein, so I need some of the chocolate... which I keep at work, to mix into my morning oatmeal.

I ran some statistics that back up my gut instincts on a certain part of work; it's going to give me backup when I start pushing for the big development that I want. My problem has always been that I know what's going on in my little corner of things, but I don't have the numbers to prove it, and so when I try to get something done I get no support from the higher-ups. This time I'm getting the data, then I'm going to go to the higher-ups and pitch my ideas, THEN I'm going to get shit done-- with full backing from the higher-ups. I want that big stick available to hit people with. My ideas are good ideas, dammit; the company will be better off instituting them. I just have to convince them of that.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Oh so tired

We had a very special splurge meal last night, carefully planned and shopped for. Brats, chips, and beer, baby! We even selected a pair of brownies-- just two, mind you, so we wouldn't have leftovers or be tempted to eat after that.

First of all, I now have an official reminder that when I get drunk (my Hub got to be the sober one for a change), I am possessed of the incorrect assumption that I am Superman. Or rather, I end up in hyperspastic mode, bothering my Hub, tormenting the cats, playing videogames like a crazed thing, and ending up feeling, via the energy high, that I deserve and ought to consume more sugar and more beer. The damage wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been-- I had brats, chips, more beer, a brownie, some of those evil buffalo-wing-flavored pretzel chunks, more beer, pickles, ice cream (hallelujah, a very good reason to keep the Breyer's CalSmart stuff in the freezer instead of Ben & Jerry's), and more beer. I was flying. I had supreme confidence in myself and the validity of my own decisions. In the light of day, it's easy to see that fighting like mad when my Hub picked me up ("Damn, but you can be some SERIOUS dead weight when you want to") was not a good idea, and might in fact lead to me getting dropped on the floor, but at the time, it never occurred to me. Thankfully, my Hub is getting really good at tossing me around, and managed to keep me from hitting the floor. Good man.

Mental note: the next splurge meal should not involve alcohol.

My poor Hub ate less than I did, drank less than I did, and still ended up being sick. I am darn near impervious to hangovers, I tell you. I've only had one, total, in my entire life. I feel fine today, but I'm tired as hell. Not enough sleep. Back on the wagon, right on schedule. I'm making it my goal this week to avoid breaking into a) the stash of crappy chocolate given to us at the big staff meeting, and b) the remaining buffalo-wing-flavored pretzel chunks, which my Hub adores and deserves to keep for himself without me stealing them for no good reason.

I'm spending the day at work clarifying my goals. Having sat through an entire two-hour presentation and workshop on how to construct S.M.A.R.T. goals (oh, how I loathe clever little acronyms like that) last week, I suddenly hit a point where it occurred to me that my goals should, first and foremost, be about me-- and that the "goals" that I have to write out at my annual performance review should be objectives designed to get me to my goals. I mean, if it's not doing anything for me, personally, it's difficult for me to give a rat's ass. On the other hand, if it's all part of a master plan to get me out of menial tasks and into managing processes, to make a lot more money, to have a kick-ass resume with lots of meaningful experience and creativity on it, to have educational chops and know-how that I could move from company to company, and to end up in control of my own department...? Dude. THAT, I can get behind.

So, today is all about working that out into big goals, objectives, and tasks on how to get there. The reality is that in working for this company, I have the opportunity to write my own script and make myself into the businesswoman I want to be-- I just have to have the guts and the confidence and the drive to go out there and fucking well get it. I definitely have a lot more of that than I used to. I think I'm on the cusp of developing the rest of it. And dammit, I like this feeling. I'm going to kick a lot of ass in the next five years, and it starts today.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Take your medicine and fuel up

It's getting rarer all the time, but you'll still get the occasional folk cure nudged in your direction by a friend or relative. A swift check of the internet reveals that fennel and fenugreek should be consumed to increase lactation (a staple, I'm told, of wetnurses over the centuries), garlic and horseradish for allergies, soybeans and ginger for dandruff, apples and dried blueberries for diarrhea, and rhubarb for constipation. The most obvious example I can think of is one that every woman has at least a passing acquaintance with: if you get a bladder infection, drink cranberry juice.

Doctors prescribe changes in diet to fight, prevent, or manage high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and high blood pressure (to name a few). Diet is part of the treatment plan for cancer and HIV as well as something to specially manage during pregnancy. Special diets are part of recovery from almost any surgery. And of course we all know about how to prevent osteoporosis-- more calcium!

This stuff is so obvious, so much a part of our culture, that it's too obvious to really notice: food is medicine, or, as the Neijing Suwen puts it, "Medicine and food are of the same sauce." Not just in those cases. Not just when it's a special thing you have to adhere to for a purpose-- each food has benefits and side effects, like medicine. Addictions can form with some, just like medicine. Food can have an immediate effect on heart rate, perspiration, congestion, wakefulness (hello, turkey), and how often we have to go to the bathroom for one reason or another. Too much of certain kinds of foods can make us horribly sick. And we commonly-- and often unconsciously-- use food as treatment for stress and emotional turmoil.

In short, for those of us who don't want to have to deal with food in a medicinal context-- and I was one of those for a long time-- I'm sorry to tell you that you're already doing so. If we're not managing our diets with an eye toward pro-active treatment, we ultimately end up using food as a reactionary treatment for how we're feeling-- and then often throw on another food treatment in reaction to how the original treatment made us feel. It's the culinary equivalent of using a daily prescription versus the sort of wildly swerving pill-popping that one associates with Marilyn Monroe and Elvis-- one pill to put you to sleep, another to wake you up, another to give you energy, another to relax you, et cetera.

We're already using food as medicine. Daily. Constantly. There's no getting around it. And for those of us with a long history of culinary pill-popping, it's not only scary and bewildering to stop using food in a reactionary manner and start using it as a pro-active tool.

Currently, I'm on the Body For Life plan. I eat six times a day, roughly every three hours, with my calories divided more or less evenly between the meals. Each meal is one part carbohydrate (fruit or whole grains, mostly), one part protein, and at least two meals get vegetables thrown in as well.

I'd heard of the six-meals-a-day thing before and thought "feh, whatever." Give up my giant meal in the evening? Once my calories were first restricted when I joined Weight Watchers, I was very stingy with my daytime calories; I had to be convinced to use some of those precious Points on breakfast, and then convinced all over again to use some on snacks. Keeping to the big meal in the evening (and, I have to admit, my habit of grazing in the kitchen after dinner) gave me the illusion that I was almost like everyone else, so I really fought anything that would make me deplete my daily calorie bank before dinner. Hell, the only reason I eventually gave in and started eating a morning and afternoon snack was because I was getting pretty dizzy and out of it between meals.

In retrospect, it was a question of constant fueling. I was using most of my energy in the twelve hours of the day between waking up in the morning and getting home from work, but I was only using half my fuel supply-- and then I dumped in the other half during the four hours that I was mostly going to spend sitting on the couch.

It was also a question of quality fueling. Most of my food was low in protein, if it had any at all. Meat, again, was something that appeared in my evening diet; my breakfast, snacks, and lunch were all nearly bereft of protein.

I was always exhausted by the end of the day and couldn't figure out why. I never had any energy. I was crabby most of the time. In spite of my weight loss and increased fitness, I kept getting sick. I was virtually unable to deal with stress. My cravings were pretty noisy, constantly, and I would rarely go more than a few days without having to do battle with the niggling thought of sneaking off and binging.

Again, in retrospect the problem was pretty obvious-- my body was displeased with how I was feeding it and was demanding an immediate fix. I find that when things are bad enough to make the body start sounding alarms and demanding fixes, the body is not clamoring for long-term solutions, but for dramatic, immediate, down & dirty fixes. In short, when I wasn't giving it enough quality fuel to run on throughout the day, my body started screaming for foods high in carbs, high in sugar, and high in fat-- instant fuel, quick to burn. Newspaper. Newspaper doesn't burn for long, though, and since I still wasn't supplying the constant supply of nutrition that would have provided normal fueling, the body would panic again and demand another binge.

And oh, the physical reactions that go with that sort of eating. The headaches, the low nausea, the lack of energy, the vague sense of fever, the aches and pains, the nasty digestive issues on the way out. It's really not unlike having the flu, for me. I'd feel horrible after a binge; horrible physically, horrible emotionally, horrible mentally.

These days, that pattern has vanished. I had one binge on Memorial Day after a full weekend of non-stop parent time-- my "ack, trapped, TRAPPED!" reaction-- and that's been it ever since. With the fueling problem taken care of, all I'm left with are the emotional prompts for binges-- and I'm a lot better at dealing with those than I used to be.

Here's the other thing: my general state of being, physically and emotionally, is a LOT better these days. I've got energy, it's easier for me to deal with stress, my PMS symptoms went from being off the charts to being negligable in just one month. I never go into a meal starving anymore, because I'll have just eaten a filling meal three hours before, and as a result I don't get that MUST EAT ALL FOOD NOW-- FOOD GONE, SERVING NOT BIG ENOUGH, EAT MORE! reaction because I'm not having to wait the proverbial twenty minutes for my stomach to realize it's full. Since all my meals are small but substantial, I'm not going from one extreme to the other (an apple for a snack, then meat & pasta & veggies for dinner-- WHAMMO) and so I'm really being able to finally focus on the fact that this is, in fact, a serving size: this is what will fill me up, this is how food works.

In short, I'm healing. All these things I had such trouble keeping to in the old days are a lot easier now. I'm using food as medicine, and this time I'm using it pro-actively, to feel good every day and have the energy to get much, much more done.

It's not just about eating the fewest calories. It's about what will fuel you and really make you feel good-- constantly, not just in frantic guilty spurts of chips and chocolate and ice cream. And God help me, it works.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Holy cow, it's over

I feel utterly drained and terribly triumphant.

Yesterday, I ate a tortilla with some rather questionable "chicken fajita" filling (it appeared that the chicken and peppers had been boiled-- BOILED!-- and the interior of the chicken was still dry as all get-out) for the Free Lunch On The Company Nickle (#1). Ate as slow as humanly possible, drank a great deal of water, enthusiastically flagged down the coffee guy. No questions asked from anyone.

I did not partake of the mints on the tables. I checked out the snack tables at 3 PM to-- as Naomi puts it (and which I love)-- "visit the food", but did not partake of those, either; I grabbed some more coffee and blithely ate a chocolate MyoPlex Lite meal-replacement bar whilst my colleagues were eating dessert items. No comments from the peanut gallery on that one, thank God.

I had brought my dinner and left it at work, so after we hiked back to the office for the reception, I swiftly heated up my lasagna, chatting all the while with a few co-workers about the need for "real food" for the evening, since otherwise all I'd be eating would be appetizer-style tidbits and swilling alcohol. Co-workers thought this was brilliant and wished they'd thought of it. I then grabbed my heated lasagna and hid in my office to eat it along with the carrots & celery I'd packed as a veggie side dish. Emerged in time for the reception, grabbed a Diet Coke (the first of, oh, six-- it's a miracle I didn't get insomnia), and followed my Hub around while he tried everything at the six different catering stations-- six different mixed drinks, six different types of food.

I didn't touch a thing. I considered it, but I know how I work: when there is grazing to be had, I want to sample everything, and I don't like being unfair, so trying the shrimp would've meant trying the crab cakes would've meant trying the gorgeous pile of different cheeses and crackers and the cheesecake bites and the chocolate fondue... so I figured better to draw a line in the sand. My Hub reported on how everything was (fairly mundane, except for one drink that he liked a lot), and kept offering me tastes of things until I told him gently to cut it out because he was unnecessarily draining my willpower. My poor sweetie was stricken with guilt over that; he gets drunk and wants to share everything with me and forgets that I told him not to. Aww.

Went home. Had my 9 PM fudgesicle. Went to bed. Rock on.

Got up this morning, did my upper body workout, ate oatmeal with chocolate protein powder in it (which, incidentally, I'm becoming quite fond of). Packed up some 4-Apple Tuna Salad, a mini-pita full of sloppy joe mix, and a container of carrots & celery.

Went to the continental breakfast and had coffee, whilst my Hub grazed amidst the pastries. (He also had yogurt with granola on top, exclaiming "I'm full of health! Hooray!" I can't help it, he's just such an adorable dork.) I was kind of wondering how I was going to get in my morning midmeal, since we didn't have a break scheduled, but since we ended up being in the middle of a lecture at that point and everyone else was still occasionally drifting to the back of the room to pick up more coffee and pastries, I figured "hey, what the hell" and ate my sloppy pita. No commentary on that one, either. (Ha!)

Lunch: chicken breast, all right, but it was covered in GOO. And dry. I find that most sauces are added to chicken try to make up for the terrible sins committed upon it in the cooking process. I picked up salad with mandarin orange segments and a side of baby carrots and asparagus (tough, but not bad), and had a decent enough meal. Did not eat the pie. Went back to the meeting room and hung around noshing on my carrots & celery until things started up again-- another gal who started WeightWatchers right around the same time I did, and is also still maintaining a good-sized drop, saw this and told me, "God, I wish I'd thought of that." Indeed.

There were cookies and cupcakes in back for the snack at 3 PM, but since we didn't get a break, per se, I ended up once again eating at one of the meeting tables while everyone else had giant chocolate things. And boom, a comment cropped up-- "Bring your own snack? What's it, pasta salad?" I didn't want to explain the tuna part, so I shrugged it off as "everything chop-uppable in my fridge". "God," the woman barked, "that's so HEALTHY. No chocolate for you, eh?"

I waved this off. "At an all-day meeting? Hell no, I get all jittery if I have too much sugar, especially on top of all the coffee. This works better, keeps me awake."

She left me alone after that. Victory!

I managed to avoid snagging a cookie on the way out, although I was still tempted... and then we were out the door, three days of non-stop temptation over with. Hot damn!

The best part wasn't even about food-- I just felt so much more adult and at-home then I did a few years back at a similar all-staff meeting. I've got some plans in place to start carving out a niche of my own in my department, build up some clout and importance and all that. I might become ambitious, by God. I've decided that I like this company, I like working for my boss, and I'm going to make it my goal this year to eliminate (or deeply reduce) the things about my job that annoy me. I can get behind that kind of goal, hell yes.

So it's been a good couple of days. I started to get anxious and defensively angry this morning when they distributed the materials for the day, my Hub called me on it, so I took a little walk, got a little privacy, stretched, shook it out, reminded myself that the only thing that was going to make this day horrible would be my own overreaction so cut it the hell out, and I was okay after that. Much, much better than the last time we did this kind of meeting.


Now, to go catch up on everyone else's blogs. Whee!

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Frustrated and sore

On the one hand, I'm really proud of myself for switching around the exercises I do for my lower-body workout (it now being Week 5 and all) and discovering that I can really challenge myself. And I'm horribly proud of being able to step up onto a chair for my quad exercises, rather than the wussy step I had been using before (okay, okay, so it was three big dictionaries stacked on top of each other, it was still a lot lower than the chair). And I'm bustin' my buttons over my continuing quest to conquer the dreaded Lunge; I'm no longer avoiding it, I'm tackling it head-on, and even though I am horrible at it and my form suffers after two sets (and only gets worse), I am trying to get better at it. You know, I feel like informing everyone in the world how much ass I kicked yesterday at my workout, even though I was wobbly and fairly inept on several of the new exercises, because I did it, and I did it without fear, and I didn't wuss out of a single rep. I want to point at my twanging leg muscles and say "Check this shit out! I am WORKING IT."

On the other hand (for once there was a hand, at the beginning of that first paragraph, and now this is the other)... oh, on the other hand, OW. I have first-hand proof that as dumb as I looked and as piss-poor as my form was, I did manage to work the hell out of my glutes, hamstrings, and quads, because right now they hurt like blue blazes. I'm sad that my calves and abs aren't yelling at me like this because clearly that means I didn't work them half as hard as the other muscles. Hell, I knew I didn't-- the calf exercises I picked proved unwieldy and I positively half-assed the ab exercises, and I knew this at the time, so this is just the proof. Granted, this is probably the only thing that's permitting me to walk in a halfway normal manner at the moment, but that's hardly the point. I gotta get my game on for the calves and abs.

Actually, I was thinking of swapping out the calf exercises for some that would focus on my tibialis anterior muscles. Here's the scoop: my calf muscles are ahead of the rest of me by about a mile, thanks to about twenty-eight years of walking wrong. When I learned to walk, I walked on my toes. Eventually, in college, an acting coach informed me that my "distinctive" walk was a problem and had me work with a dance instructor to learn how to fake "normal" walking. Thus I worked things out so that my heels were no longer sticking in the air and I didn't bounce so much. I did, however, still have some of the bounce, and my whole balance was off. I propelled myself on each step completely via my calves, as if I was springing into the air on each step.

When I started running, it became really obvious really fast that this was just not going to cut it. For one thing, I kept hurting myself. For another thing, I was wasting a lot of effort pogoing up and down, effort that could be better spent propelling me forward. Lastly, it was screwing up the way that my shoes fit. It was all bad.

So for about the past year I've been working like mad on normalizing my walk. I concentrate more on which muscles do what and how to move properly than anyone who's not in physical therapy. I think I'm having some pretty good success-- I even have legitimate calluses built up on my heels now!-- but my stupid walking saga has thrown a bit of a monkey wrench into my lower body workouts. For one thing, my quads and hamstrings, hip flexors, and the aforementioned tibialus anterior muscles are sadly weak, since they rarely had to do work before about a year ago. For another thing, my calf muscles are already enormous in comparison to the rest of me, and I feel like they're pulling my legs out of balance-- not just in how they look, but mostly in how they work.

Which is why I'm considering the switch. I'd have to find something at home that could operate as a proper block to stand on which would also have something nearby to hang onto so that I don't, you know, fall over. I'm considering grabbing my barbells and heading to the sun porch, which has a concrete step. The other option is to step up on top of the nearby toy chest (now used to stow all my weights and other gear) and hang onto the wall for balance. I'll have to test things out before Sunday.

Foodwise, my main foe this week is not so much other people as it is my own anger. I've discovered that when I'm required to attend a gathering which is intended to be about a) chatting with other folks and b) eating decadent food, and a) I don't like the other folks particularly well and dread making hours of small talk and b) I don't particularly care to eat the food, well, this presents a problem. I feel left out, I guess. I used to be able to finagle my social ineptitude by focusing on the food and alcohol; a few drinks made me MUCH more of a party person, and the food meant there was always something else I could go do that wasn't involving talking to people. These days, I eschew the alcohol and cut way, way back on the food, and this leaves me with being far too aware of how little I really know about how to operate in this kind of social gathering. I feel like nobody wants to talk to me, and I feel uncomfortable butting into other conversations or hanging onto the sides of large groups like some kind of leech. My Hub, who is none too good at the social game himself, depends on me to be his "in" in these situations. All of these things together make me overburdened, resentful, tense and unhappy. (I can't imagine why more people don't cross the room to talk to such a clearly pissed-off individual. A mystery!)

Last night we got to go to a White Sox game on the company nickle, which was good, and were treated to dinner on the patio at the game, which had sounded like an excellent idea when we first heard about it. The problems started early and kept coming. For one thing, we were taken to the ballpark an hour and a half before the game started, with nothing to do besides eat, drink, and chat with our co-workers. (See above for my problems on that score.) The "patio" turned out to be a huge bunker-like room underneath the stands, with a view of the field out the front-- well, a view of the field if you were lucky enough to be on the lower portion of the patio, which we were not. The place was packed with other companies and parties and whatnot, and the resulting din was just astonishing. (And it echoed, too. Very special.) We got to grab foam plates and eat from the buffet, then go sit at metal picnic tables lined up in rows. Terribly classy.

Oh, and the buffet. I'd like to state for the record that my Hub and I do a better buffet for our guests than the White Sox do for their patio guests. There was a choice between burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, and "Cajun Chicken" which was fried chicken with (my Hub tells me) a vile spice mix in the breading. For sides, there was a choice between three indistinguishable forms of goopy starch along the lines of potato salad.

I got the hamburger. This proved a mistake. It was one of those patties that has lost all trace of its origins, greasy and dead and tasteless. I loaded it up with tons of mustard and onions and tomato, and took a few extra slices of tomato for good measure. This did not help much.

My Hub was having a lovely time, eating everything in sight. He started with one of everything and went back for a second helping of everything. There's nothing he enjoys more than (and I swear he capitalizes it as he speaks, there's awe in his voice) Free Lunch On The Company Nickle. As we're getting two lunches, two snacks, one breakfast, a reception and this buffet On The Company Nickle this week, he's been happier than a pig in slop. (Not an attractive comparison, but strangely apt, particularly considering my mother's farmgirl recollections of a farm cat's reaction of horribly offended dignity when tossed into the slop: carefully lifting one paw at a time, shaking it off, and placing it gingerly into the muck before repeating the process with the next paw. If my husband is the pig in this scenario, I was that cat.) I sat there with my empty plate, post-burger, sipping my Diet Pepsi and watching everyone eat and go back for more and eat more.

Which reminds me, I need to mention the most bizarre comment I've had since the dieting thing began. While I was sitting and sipping and reminding myself that boredom was not a valid reason to eat and that even if it was, I didn't want to eat this utter shit, our receptionist sat down next to me. "So what'd you get?" she asked, pointing at my empty plate. "NOTHING?"

Now, this woman is perfectly nice in many ways, but she continually steps over the line when it comes to commenting on my weight ("You're getting too skinny!") and my lunches ("Is that all you're having? My, that's so HEALTHY"), and I'm kind of on my last nerve with her. In short, my days of accepting comments like this with bland replies are so totally over. "No," I said, "I had a hamburger. Its apparent invisibility at this point is due to the fact that I've already consumed it and it is now residing in my tummy." (I actually said this. Rattled it right off. I'm surprised as hell I managed to say anything at all.) She got quiet after that, and eventually went to a different table.

I hate that shit. I really do. I had my fill of dealing with comments on my food intake back when I was heavy, and it was part of what led me down the primrose path into binge eating, hiding wrappers and going to different stores every night so that nobody would recognize the fat chick buying two bags of chips, a 2-liter of Coke, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's. So you know, I'm primed to go off in situations like this when I have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG, dammit. I have standards. This is becoming less about diet and more about the fact that I really hate eating lousy food. I am really sick of excusing that fact.

Anyway... onward. We eventually fled upstairs and found our seats, hanging out with the cool kids (in our company, that would be Accounting, God help us all). That part was actually kind of fun. Eventually, however, the problem set in that a) baseball is a slow, slow game, and b) even stuffed to the gills with crap food, my Hub cannot long resist the siren song of ballpark grub. When the other folks finally appeared from downstairs, they were similarly inclined, and soon people were coming back with the ballpark treats denied them by the nasty little buffet-- nachos, ice cream, peanuts, pizza. And more beer. My Hub went off for a bathroom break (he had, while in the realm of free food and beer, gone through several pints of beer) and, after a long absence, showed up with pizza, beer, and peanuts.

I gave in to the peanuts. I do love eating peanuts at the ballpark, partly because I eat the whole thing, shell and all. (Oh my, what fiber I got.) I ate some of them. I had some sips of my Hub's beer to wash them down. I spent some time jointly making fun of another game-goer with a co-worker: suffice it to say that white pants should not be worn with thong underwear. I got really bored, because it occurred to me that most of my previous fun with ballparks was due to drinking overpriced crap beer and eating overpriced crap food in the gorgeous summer weather. Gorgeous summer weather we had, but the food, not so much anymore. Good grief.

Thank God, we took off after the fifth inning. The Sox were badly behind (I haven't even checked to see the final score), it was already 9 PM, and it took us over an hour and two trains to get home. Grrr.

I got home, I went directly to the freezer, dished out a small bowl of the new Breyer's CalSmart ice cream, and ate it. I was on the way back to the freezer with the intent purpose of getting more ice cream when a loud voice in my head said YOU. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. EAT. MORE. THAN. ONE. SERVING. I therefore got out my daily dose (neglected for days on end-- whoa) of Dove's chocolate, sat on the couch, ate it with less savoring than normal, and then drank a giant glass of cold water.

I'm not counting that as a binge at the moment, because although it desperately wanted to be one, it didn't get to be. I'm discovering that having my Inner Cartman being pissed at me for calling a halt to the festivities is almost as distracting in the emotional sleight-of-hand switcheroo sense as spending time after the binge hating myself for binging. Awareness is a gift: if I know the rules my stupid subconscious plays by, I can play right back. So this is good.

I'm also pleased that there was a single serving of ice cream (70 calorie, low-fat ice cream, at that, and not too shabby tasting) and a single serving of chocolate, both things that I would have gone apeshit on before. I'm pleased that I instinctually used a small bowl. I'm very pleased indeed that the loud voice in my head showed up when it did, rather than hours after the fact; perhaps it has invested in an alarm clock so it can stop being so damn tardy. These are good things. I'm not happy with myself for giving in to emotional eating, but I seem to be managing the kill-switch earlier and earlier these days, and that is very damn good news indeed.

I was up late, and pissed off, and pissed off that I was going to be stuck in more of the same situation today, and I still pulled that off and then got up this morning and hopped on the treadmill (okay, more like "dragged ass over to the treadmill", but I did it) and waited to eat breakfast until we were at work. Right back on track. This can be done: I'm doing it, by God.

My problem-- my continuing problem, since that was just Meal One of many this week-- isn't the food. I don't need food when I'm not hungry, and I'm becoming snobbish about quality so I really don't need crap food. (And like Dietgirl, I'm also becoming very aware of what food makes me feel like crap afterward, and have been adjusting appropriately.) My problem is social. I feel left out, and I get pissed off about feeling left out and ignored. In retrospect, I didn't bother making noise before the food was planned, and I could've (apparently the vegetarians in the company kicked ass on this one), so next time I need to make a polite stink ahead of time.

I feel left out because all the food choices are so awful-- it presents an attitude of "we don't do healthy here, bitch, take your snooty fruit-liking preferences and shove 'em while the REAL people eat cake and roast beef and cheese and fondue and barbeque and fried things and drink a lot of liquor." Comments like the one from the receptionist last night don't help. It's the same feeling I get at parties that my friends throw-- this horrible sinking feeling, this I'm not one of them anymore feeling. Feeling unimportant. Feeling stupid. Feeling wrong.

This generally comes back up as righteous anger, and unfortunately when I get the "I'm wrong"/"they're JACKASSES!" combo going in my head, and food is involved, I generally end up eating the food. I'm tired of having that happen. It's a shitty reason to eat food, and it doesn't cure the nasty glut of emotions.

So. Soon here we're heading off to the first part of the company meetings-- with lunch and a snack and a reception after. My main challenge here is going to be to stay calm. Stay centered. Stay myself. Stay conscious of my own worth and stay confident in my choices. Tonight the role of Meg Veres will be played by Angelina Jolie, in my head, radiating confidence and grace. And fuck 'em if they don't like it.

Cut for length-- click to read more.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

One thing at a time

You know, I've said it a lot, I've devoted entire posts to the subject: weight loss is hard. It's complicated. It's scary to contemplate, and people put it off because a) they know it's going to be hard, b) it's scary, and c) it's going to take up a lot of time that they don't feel they have right now.

I've said this stuff before. What I haven't said, and should have, is that yes, it's hard, and that there's a million little accomplishments that add up to the "finished product" of a changed body and a new lifestyle, but that the fact that it's made up of all those little accomplishments means that you really don't have to do this all at once.

I've compared it to mountainclimbing (with the exception being that when people say they want to climb Mt. Everest, the response isn't "THANK GOD, I was wondering if you were ever going to get around to it!"). Which is correct, in a way, but I have a few other ways to describe it.

Starting a weight loss program, particularly one in which you're handed a Plan all worked out for you, feels similar to being a juggler who has been working with a comfortable number of items and suddenly has twenty new items thrown in at the same time. Some are brilliant enough to manage to catch them all and work them all into the already ongoing juggling routine immediately; most will try desperately, catch some, drop others, and occasionally lose everything, including the items they had under control in the first place.

Jugglers are wise: even when they're adding a lot of items in a short period of time, they still add only as much as they can handle at that moment, wait until things have adjusted, and then move on to adding more. It strikes me as a very valid way of doing things. Add a few new things, and adjust. It's not just your body that needs time to adjust-- so does your mind, and your schedule, and your family. Drastic action is much more likely to be rejected than slowly adding new routines and new actions in small quantities. Start small, start few; add more things, and work the small things up to larger things.

I've got another analogy which I've used on several folks lately. The process of getting all these habits built is not unlike hauling a giant trunkload of groceries from car to kitchen. Yes, there are occasionally people who are gifted with long arms, vast strength, superior balance, a miraculous lack of obstacles in their path, and an ungodly amount of luck, and who manage to pick up every single damn one of the bags and haul them all to the kitchen at once and without incident. I don't personally know any of those people. Bags rip, garden hoses have been left bunched up on an innocent stretch of walkway, gravity causes avalanches within the bags that cause them to shift, causing me to grab at them, causing me to lose my grip on something else, causing a frantic and highly comic juggling routine that almost always results in a total loss of grocery/bag cohesion, groceries scattered on the ground, and me sitting on my ass cursing up a storm.

What you do instead, if you're setting yourself up for success, is to make a lot of trips, taking what you can handle on each trip. It doesn't help that some of these are insanely overpacked bags (there is ALWAYS some kind of smartass who will put all my canned goods in a single bag) and have to be hauled one at a time-- hell, sometimes a particularly bastardly bag is too heavy to haul all by itself and must be taken in pieces, a few items at a time.

It's the whole "baby steps" idea. I think of it more as a way to practice success. When you're used to trying to do it all at once, and failing, it's hard to trust yourself on any one of those things. If you just get one new habit in place at a time, though, then you're more likely to succeed since it has your full attention, and you can then build on that feeling of accomplishment and pride to pick up another new habit, and add that to the plan. One at a time.

It might be the different mindset between "diet" and "lifestyle" that's the trip-up here-- because yes, you can line up a huge number of things that you will grit your teeth, power through and endure for as long as you can take it, just in the name of losing weight. You can do that. But the thing about that approach is that when you're enduring something, you're setting yourself up to fall down simply in search of relief. When you're taking these baby steps and making them a part of your life, one by one, there's this period of examination, of adjustment, of wiggling around to get comfortable in this new thing-- then settling in and having it as part of your life. In that case, when there's stress and horrible things happening in your life, you're not so likely to drop the new thing, because it's not an extra stressor, it's just part of your life.

You do not have to do this all at once. You don't. Yes, a lot of the aspects of healthy living compliment each other and there's a sort of epic grace and beauty to it that sometimes I find myself staring at and saying, "Whoa!"... but you know, they're lovely on their own, and you'll get to the other parts eventually. You slowly build up these talents, like you're building muscles in your brain.

Ease in. Get used to it. Incorporate things one at a time. You don't have to fear this stuff, because you don't have to do it all now-- you just have to start on one thing. One small thing. Everything else will come from there, I promise.

Cut for length-- click to read more.