I Am That Girl Now

Thursday, September 06, 2007

And now, some actual weight-type news.

I continue to eat only when I'm hungry (next step: figuring out how to stop when I'm full, which I'll get to as soon as I can figure out how to tell when I'm full), to calm myself down via other means, and to dutifully log my weight every morning. I'd been kind of worried that this would turn out to be an exercise in futility, but on the other hand, if it's gonna work, it's going to be slow and long-term, right?

So, as of this morning, I've been doing that for two weeks. Not counting the short time that went totally whackjob via my period (having never recorded my weight daily before, I'd never realized that my weight goes up a good five pounds the day before my period starts), the results are in: it appears that I'm losing about a pound every week.


Well. I hope it keeps up. I suspect that I may have to battle my two other behavioral issues with food, "eating more mindfully" and "stopping when I'm full", in order to keep things going, but right now my body is responding peaceably enough to my switch from food-as-stress-relief to relaxation-as-stress-relief. All I'm doing besides that has been a moderate amount of exercise, three or four times a week. Haven't gone back to sugary soda (never intend to), but I'm pretty much eating whatever I want to. Bacon has occurred four times in one week. (PMS, what can I say?) I'm trying in a vague way to get healthy meals on the table, but I'm not stressing about it, I'm not measuring portions.

My theory is that for some folks, like myself, weight gain occurs on a moderate scale because of the usual factors (portions too large, eating too much junkfood, beer & soda consumption, etc.), but the majority of the pounds are associated with stress. (Note, once again: SOME folks, not all.) Food = stress relief. Entering a traditional diet means not only depriving oneself of that stress relief, without finding any replacement, but it also means more stress on top of that because diets are stressful, for pete's sake. Lots of extra work, lots of new rules, lots of new activities shoved into an already-busy schedule, an overwhelming sense that if the scale doesn't move YOU HAVE FAILED; all of it, very stressful. It becomes a huge relief to cheat on or to outright dump the diet, just because of the extra stress it causes and the way that it blocks you from your one source of stress relief, the bastard thing.

Therefore, in this case, I'm taking care of the first issue first. Make sure that I have a functioning non-food source of stress relief, solidly establish the new source of stress relief so it's not new and weird and untested, then switch over the stress relief to the new, non-food source. All of this before any futzing around with the food itself actually occurs, which, as we all know, is a stressful thing to introduce to one's life. And... so far, so good.

Hilariously, I've also developed a weird new hoarding habit. It hurts my soul to give up free candy, and then watch it disappear without having partaken, so I will grab a mini-Snickers from the bucket in the mailroom... and then put it in my desk drawer. Haven't eaten any of it. I've got a little stash now, and in a strange way it brings me a sense of comfort and stability. I can have it if I want. I can have it if I get hungry. I'm just not hungry now. And, since I bring real snacks with me to work, I still haven't come to the point where I'm actually hungry and out of food and so must resort to the candy stash.

I suspect this will come in handy as Halloween approaches.

On the financial front: I know I've talked a lot about Mvelopes, but there are other programs out there. PearBudget is an Excel sheet thing-- they're working on a Web 2.0 verion-- and free. Expensr works in a similar manner to Quicken or MS Money (you know, the traditional options), but is online, and free. (Not my thing, 'cause the budgeting options it has right now don't, for example, require that all the money that you budget actually add up to the amount you take in, which I'd think would be required for a budget, but hey, whatever.)

Most interesting of the non-Mvelopes options I've come across is Wesabe, which is to personal finance what Flickr is to pictures and what del.icio.us is to bookmarks. Very Web 2.0. Your personal info is personal, no question, but your participation builds the application-- de-coding your bank's cryptic "description" of a transaction to something that humans can use ("084 TRADJOE CHICAG IL 773549", for example, could be "Trader Joe's, Lakeview Chicago"), or tagging it with your rating for the company, or tagging it with your own notes-- into something that could eventually become seriously amazing. Think of it: you enter your own experience with a mechanic, and somebody else in your neighborhood who's looking for info on local mechanics can find it later. You put up your own helpful hints for lowering your grocery bill, and it goes up with a bunch of others so that you end up with a big page of helpful grocery hints, some of which may be dumb but others of which could be fantabulous. And the more people participate, the smarter it gets. It lets you-- nay, encourages you to-- put up your goals, with pictures, right there on a sidebar where you see them all the time. That, right there, is awesome. The creators of Wesabe have said in their blog that what they really want this to be is a way of letting people get the most from their money that they can-- the best quality, of course, but also a group support for paying off debts and starting to live inside the constraints of what you earn.

And it's free. So... awesome.

I'm kind of an early adopter on these things... not really early, but earlier than the other folks I know. Flickr, Gmail, Amazon, eBay, Netflix, Napster (the real version, back in the day), blogging; I tend to discover these things a bit after the real crop of early adopters has started to wax lyrical about them, and adopt them about a year or so before they become totally normal. The problem there is that some of them don't end up normal; my poor beloved Webvan went broke in 2001, and another dot-com startup, Kozmo.com, that would bring me food and a movie within an hour of ordering it on the web went belly-up around that same time (and since I was single and living alone at the time, Kozmo was very much missed every time I got sick and didn't have anyone to bring me hot food and fresh movies). So I could be wrong on this one, but so far I haven't seen it go wrong.

In OTHER other financial news, our car has gone wrong. I lost the battle of do-we-accept-your-mom's-old-car-or-not, and my Hub is sentimentally attached to the thing since it was his mom's, and so there's no getting rid of it. That said, I long for the simple days when we had no car. True, this meant a lot of walking in horrible weather, and true, this meant that we had to rent a car to get out to see the in-laws for Thanksgiving, and true, this meant that we didn't have the questionable luxury of driving to work and paying $14 for parking under Millennium Park. That said, not-owning is a simple state, one in which I understood what was expected of me, and one which brought few surprises to the table which could run us untold hundreds of dollars in repair fees. Owning a car, on the other hand, means taxes and insurance and gasoline and parking and new tires and repair work and a bloody city sticker which we must purchase annually to prove our right to park on Chicago streets, and we still use the El nine times out of ten, so in my mind we're paying for something that we don't need and making ourselves psychologically dependent on owning.

ARRRRGH, cars.

In other other OTHER financial news, we have a meeting next week with our financial planner. This should be fun. I'm in a much better mood now that I've publicly fumed and now that I feel in control of the situation; we're going to turn the variable universal life policies into term life, and drain the mutual funds in order to kill off half the student loans. That'll leave us with disability insurance, term life insurance, and Roth IRAs, all of which are good things, but which I'm going to start checking into to see if we could switch over to other kinds that a) aren't under the Ameriprise banner and b) might be more in tune with what we need. I've got another financial planner lined up, a fee-based one (and yes, referred to from Dave Ramsey's site) who would be unconstrained in choice of product and whose loyalty would not be under question; as time proceeds we'll move things that direction.

Happily, we're not out that much money; we're not going to have to pay anything on my Hub's insurance policy even if we just drop it (yay) and for all things I seem to have caught it early enough that, at the most, we're $2K behind where we ought to be. That's a lot better than it could be, and a relatively cheap price for the resounding wake-up call that this has been. It could be much, much, much worse. I'm going to focus on that, instead of on the parts that make me very very angry.

Also, a wee story that comforted me when I was in the midst of kicking my own ass over having not checked these things out before (yes, that was stupid; anyone who is not clear on the fact that I had already realized that, and who thinks that I need it explained to me again, or who wishes to rub more salt in my wounds, you may want to check that impulse rather than testing my dearly-won zen). Once upon a time, scientists hooked a bunch of people up to machines to scan their brain activity and then had them do a test. It was structured thusly: first, the question, then a space for them to answer, then an indication of whether they were right or wrong, and then the correct answer would be given. There was a space of time between each. They ended up having two distinct types of people: first, the people whose attention remained rapt up until the point where they got to find out if they were right or wrong, and then slagged off for the real answer; second, the people whose attention remained keen all the way through the process, because if they got an answer wrong they became really curious about the right answer. On a re-test, the people who were curious about the right answer were the ones who scored higher the second time around; the other folks just stayed static.

Moral of the story: being wrong doesn't mean bugger-all except a chance to learn a new answer, and if you only care about if you're right or wrong, you're not learning. It's kind of a cold moral and ignores the fact that it sucks wretchedly to be wrong about something when you've stupidly put your trust in someone whose loyalty lies elsewhere (as is the case this time, and on lord knows however many other occasions, since I never lack for naive trust), but at least it's something.

The other moral of the story, although not that story, is that although I always think I want more to eat after I get done with lunch, and always think I want a treat, within half an hour of lunchtime I'll end up with heartburn or other proof that my stomach has different ideas than my head, so it's a very good thing that I just hopped right on the internet and ignored the yen for a treat.

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  • One trick I read about that made complete sense to me and may help put "fullness" into persepective..is that instead of checking to see if your body is full yet... check to see if it is (still) hungry. "Still" is in parenthesis because really it's checking if the body is asking for fuel...much like you did before you started the meal in the first place.

    By Anonymous anndelise, at 1:39 PM  

  • Hmm, this post really rings true with me. I eat out of stress. I eat to reward myself as well as to punish myself.

    How have you been able to change your mindset?

    By Blogger Cookie Monster, at 9:29 PM  

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