Monday, April 26, 2010

Warning: Pity Party Ahead

The honeymoon is officially over.  That wonderful period right in the beginning of a lifestyle change, when you're full of motivation and nothing can stop you... it's done, for me.

It lasted for more than a month, and in that time I lost a full third of the weight I wanted to lose.  For that, I'm grateful.  But I've still got more than half of my work to do, and I'm not even sure that when I get to my original goal weight of 145, I'll be satisfied.  I might want to go lower.

I still want to exercise a lot.  Since I started lifting, I've seen fantastic results with it, and the results are enough to keep driving me to the gym.  I can do things now that I never even thought possible, and I haven't been at this that long.  But the calorie counting is getting old.  I'm sick of trying to guess the caloric cost of every meal I eat.  I prepare a lot of my own meals, and it's a pain to figure out how much of each ingredient is in each serving, and how much a serving even is.  I've been quite diligent about making guesses and tracking everything I eat, and according to my (pretty much made up) numbers, I'm still running a deficit most days, but I don't feel thin anymore.

I'm also in a weird state where I'm sick of being hungry, but I hate feeling full.  I feel awful if I'm full.  Not bloated, but disgusting.  Like I've done something wrong.  My body isn't used to it.  I suppose I should be thankful for that, but right now I can't hit a sweet spot where I enjoy both the meal and the feeling after the meal.  I don't take pleasure in my food the same way I used to, and that makes me angry.  Not all of my eating habits were stellar, but I did legitimately love and enjoy many of my meals, and I used to get a wonderful feeling of satisfaction after some of the best dinners I treated myself to.  I'm not sure that will happen anymore. 

There are some other things going on in my life right now and I won't go into them but they're not helping.  They're making things hard and causing me stress and when I'm stressed my diet and exercise are usually the first casualties.  I haven't given up yet, but the drive to stick with these changes is ebbing. 

I believe in focusing on the positives.  I have completely retrained my body in terms of its relationship to food.  I am adamant about small portions now.  I'll get a third of the way through a restaurant meal and be entirely uninterested in finishing it, even if that first third was mind-blowingly good.  I am still exercising.  I am still losing weight.  Even though I'm hitting a challenge in terms of motivation, I'm still powering through.  For all this, I'm proud of myself.  It gives me hope that some day I won't have to run numbers in my head every time I sit down to a meal.  I won't have to spend my day feeling hungry.  I know what a correct portion size is now, and nine times out of ten, that single portion is enough.

It's hard though, and it's really hard to do this alone.  In real life, there's no one around who is doing something similar.  There's no one to actually discuss all of these issues with.  I have to struggle through them and figure them out by myself, and headstrong though I may be, that's not my favorite option.  I'd give a lot to be able to lean on someone for support right now. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

Starting Weight: 159 (March 17th, 2010)
Today's Scale Reading: 151.2
Weight, as dictated by the trend line: 153.6
Total Lost: 5.4 lb

My loss rate is increasing slightly.  It used to be .2lb/day, and in the past week or so, it has gone up to .3lb/day.  Although I'd love to be done with the loss process as soon as possible, I think this rate is really about as fast as I want to go.  That works out to a bit less than 2lb/week and because I do so much physical activity, I don't want to run a higher calorie deficit than that. 

Among this week's many triumphs was a small event with big payoff: I got three pairs of jeans tailored.  Specifically, I got the waists taken in on all of them.  I've never gotten anything tailored before, but now I'm a complete convert.  It's so nice to have pants that finally fit! least for a little while anyway...

Additionally, well-fitting clothes will instantly make you look slimmer.  Case in point: on Friday, a coworker asked me if I'd lost weight.  Honestly, 5lb on my frame isn't that much.  However, I'd started wearing my freshly tailored jeans, and it makes all the difference.  If you're looking for a way to reward yourself for all your hard work, consider taking your clothes to a good tailor.  It's a great way to show off!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Front-loading calories

Yesterday started out destined for failure.  I got up late, spent far too much time mirror gazing, realized I didn't have any coffee in the house, and then ran to the bus without breakfast.  I stopped at a bagel shop outside my office for a quick bite, and when I got to my desk I realized my bagel had not just butter, which I'd ordered, but also cream cheese.  A bagel with butter is already about twice the normal number of calories I consume for breakfast, and adding cream cheese was going to throw off my whole day.  That meant no snacks in the morning, a very small lunch, probably no snacks in the afternoon either, and then a moderate dinner. 

I was really worried about this because I always have an apple around mid morning to fuel my lunch time workout, and I'm still usually ravenous by 1:30 when I actually eat.  The thought of no snacks was terrifying.  There's only so much hunger I can ignore. 

However, I need not have worried.  Those extra calories in the morning meant I was barely hungry by lunch, even after a metabolic conditioning session at the gym.  I had a small lunch, a small snack, and a small dinner with no problem whatsoever.

This blew my mind.

I know that in theory, my body needs a certain number of calories per day.  It doesn't care when it gets them or what they're made of.  It will assess the calories it needs versus the calories it has taken in and send signals to the brain to compensate for a difference in either direction.  That's the way it's supposed to work, and that's how one maintains a steady weight. 

But let's be honest.  If that system worked for you and me, you wouldn't be reading this and I wouldn't be writing it.  I stopped listening to my body's signals years ago, and I think it just gave up.  To discover yesterday that the system actually functions and that I really will stay full longer if I consume more calories was delightfully shocking.  I feel like I've got a prayer of maintaining my loss (which I'm very excited to tell you about!  The numbers on Sunday will be fantastic!).  I normally have 2 eggs for breakfast and I feared adding to that number because I was worried that with all my fruit snacking during the day, I wouldn't have room.  It never occurred to me that if I ate more at breakfast, I wouldn't need to snack.  It's logical, but I don't trust logic when it comes to my eating patterns.

The bottom line is that this means I'm in control of what I eat, now more than ever.  It also means that every day has a very good chance of being successful on the eating front, regardless of how it starts.  I don't have to spend the morning in a panic, anxiously waiting to get hungry and worrying about when that might be.  Instead, I'm learning to trust my body.  It's a new thing, and I'm very apprehensive, but it seems like it might pay off.

In other news, today a coworker noticed my loss!  According to last week's trend line, it's not even 5 pounds.  I know how snarky that sounds, but let me remind you it took a solid month of working out 5 days per week and counting every calorie to lose just those 5.  I know a lot of people who start with more to lose can shed weight in the beginning like a duck sheds water, but that wasn't me.  As it happens, I've also noticed my loss.  There is significantly less chub around my tummy and butt.  This makes me happy. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

This evening's scale reading: 155
Official weight, as dictated by the trend line: 155.5
Pounds lost this week: .5
Total pounds lost: 3.5

I spent the second half of this week visiting old college friends and intentionally staying off the scale and not worrying about food.  I drank more than normal, but I'm proud to say my portion sizes stayed very reasonable.  I didn't lose much weight this week, which was to be expected.  But I did lose some.  This was definitely a test and as far as I'm concerned, I passed with flying colors. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

On Body Image...

Note: I contacted Sheryl before posting this to get her feedback and permission.  This blog post is Bitch Cakes Approved.

In order to keep myself motivated, I have been reading a lot of other weight loss blogs.  I need to see that other people have done what I'm trying to do (and much, much more).  I like to see their insights about both triumphs and failures.  I like to know that I'm not the only one.

I also like to do things properly, so when I find a new blog that I like, I go back and read all the archives in order, over a period of about a week or so.  It helps me understand the history of the blogger. 

I've been binging on Bitch Cakes for the last few days and loving almost every moment.  First of all, I adore her personal glamour style, and I think she looks absolutely fabulous at about 150ish.  She's got amazing curves that I'd kill for. 

But there was one post that really hit a nerve for me.  She wrote about how, after she'd hit about 160 (I think.  I can't find the entry now) some people were telling her not to lose any more weight and how she was perfect.  And she didn't like being told that.  She was happy that other people were impressed, but her primary goal was not for other people to like her just how she was.  She saw imperfections in the mirror and she was bound and determined to fix them, and whose business is it anyway if that's the choice she wants to make?

I'm not arguing with the sentiment.  It's hard to lose weight and it's hard to hit the gym reliably and I'll be damned if I'm going to sacrifice blood, sweat, and tears only to make someone else happy while not being personally satisfied with the results.  I understand completely. 

But she posted photos of her current progress.  And it turns out that she and I have very similar bodies.  I'm taller, but we both pack on muscle and we've both got curves to make men weep, and barring a horrible illness or famine, neither of us will ever be "slim".  So I was looking at these photos thinking "yep, those are my legs.  I've got those hips.  Thighs that could crush walnuts.... check.  I'll trade you my rack for your stomach, but most of this is pretty familiar territory."  Trouble is, I look at Bitch Cakes and think she looks amazing, and then I see the same thing in the mirror and want nothing more than to change it. 

So then I went back and looked at her photos again and this time I was thinking, "Yeah, I'll bet she wants to slim down here, here, here, and over there."  And that's disheartening.  This weight loss project I'm doing is all for vanity.  I'm already extremely physically healthy, and I just want to be able to wear cute clothes and not worry about muffin tops.  But if someone who looks as amazing as Bitch Cakes does can't be happy with her own appearance, is there any hope for me?

There are are a few things worth mentioning here.  I'm about 4 inches taller than Bitch Cakes, and because of the workouts I do, I have much more pronounced and bulky arm and shoulder muscle.  What looks cute and curvy on a 5'2" frame with makeup, pencil skirts, and a great smile looks intimidating and a bit grotesque on a 5'6" frame with a glare that could wither garlic and enough attitude for 5 people.

Also, I don't dress as well as she does.  I wear jeans and loose tshirts a lot of the time, and never any makeup.  I don't look bad, and for a software developer, I'm certainly ahead of the sartorial curve, but I don't look fabulous.  And on the days when I'm grumpy, boy does it show.

I've had a few days to reflect on my self image and I'm doing things about it.  Operation Self Adoration is about to go into full swing.  First of all, I took 4 pairs of pants in to be tailored this week.  I get them back next week and then maybe I'll have clothes that actually fit.  I'm also thinking it's time for new hair, and maybe I should make a go of makeup. 

But you can have my stacked shoulders when you pry them off my cold, dead body. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Small Victory Celebration!

Time for another one!

Yesterday was not the best calorie day.  I'd done well enough through breakfast and lunch, but I'd been ravenously hungry all day.  I think it might be almost my TOM or something.  Then after lunch, I ate a huge scone with butter, which left me with something like 300 calories to spend on dinner.

Dinner was already being cooked in the slow cooker, and it was pork barbecue, Carolina style.  On the face of it, this may not sound like the healthiest of options, and it isn't.  But a small amount of pulled pork on a whole wheat bun with heaps of broccoli really isn't a bad choice, and it's pretty safe from a calorie perspective.  I guessed about 450 or 500.  That's not 300 calories though, and there was no way I was going to smell pork cooking all day and then not eat it.

I decided to say screw it, I'm eating my barbecue and going over my daily limit by 200 calories or so and it will be fine.

Let me just say I make a mean barbecue.  Dinner was magical.  The victory, however, came after dinner when I realized that even though I didn't stick to my daily limit, it didn't even occur to me to have more barbecue.  I had a single sandwich, it was awesome, and then I stopped eating.  That was it.  No dramatics, no wrestling with conscience. 

One of the things that calorie counting has taught me is portion control, but I never dreamed it would be so ingrained already.  If I looked at two sandwiches on a plate now I'd probably feel sick.

This revelation comes as I'm just about to jet off to Pittsburgh for four days of some good old fashioned college nostalgia and a lot of fried food and very little exercise.  I'd been worried about what this trip was going to do to my weight plan and I knew I wouldn't be able to hit a gym.  But now that I know what "enough" is and I consume "enough" without thinking about it, I am a lot less worried. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Weekly Weigh In and Number Crunching 101

This morning's scale reading: 153.8
Official weight, as dictated by the trend line: 156.2
Pounds lost this week: 1.3
Total pounds lost: 2.8

I've been charting my calorie intake since March 11th but I couldn't chart my weight until March 19th when I finally bought a scale.  My total loss represents a bit over 3 weeks worth of work even though I've actually been at this for a month.

In addition to trending my weight in order to get a more accurate understanding of my loss, I've started keeping track of my 5 day calorie intake average in addition to my daily calorie numbers.  Just as one day's scale reading doesn't mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, 1 day's worth of calories isn't going to tell me much about whether I should be gaining or losing or adjusting what I'm eating.  My handy-dandy google doc now has another chart that looks like this:

I remain unimpressed with Google's spreadsheet functionality.  The blue line represents my day to day intake, and the red line is my average over the last 5 days.  This is useful to me because I need to be maintaining a certain average over time.  When I started this diet, I picked an arbitrary goal of 1500 - 1600 calories per day.  Obviously, I've got work to do.  By looking at these averages, I can get a better picture of what my weight loss is and why.  For example, last week I was losing weight at the rate of .2 lb per day, whereas the week before, I was only losing at half that rate.  Looking at the averages, we can see why.  My averages for the first week hovered around 1800 calories, whereas my averages for the second week were closer to 1600. 

This tells me that if I want to lose a pound a week, I need to average between 1600 and 1700 calories per day.  Why is this useful?  My 1500 cal/day goal was a number I plucked out of the air.  I was fairly sure that if I ate 1500 calories a day I'd lose weight, but I didn't know how much.  I didn't know what kind of a deficit that would be.  Now, based on all this data I've gathered, I know that a 1500 calorie diet would probably lead to a loss rate of a bit over .2 lbs per day.  .2 lbs = 1/5lb = 700 calorie deficit.  Since I know that 1600 calories per day leads to the .2lb/day loss, I know that on average, I burn about 1600 + 700 = 2300 calories per day. 

Let it be known that this 2300 number includes probably 200 - 300 calories of exercise daily.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

So I dub thee unforgiven

Through middle school, high school, and some of college, I was depressed.  Clinically.  I was never diagnosed because I never went to a doctor about it, but looking back it's very clear that that's what was going on.  I was sad all the time.  I had little pity parties for myself.  I played The Unforgiven over and over until I wore out my tape.  I got a lot better in college, and then much better after I left college, got a full time job, got eight hours of sleep every night, ate right, and started exercising.  It was amazing.  I'd never felt that good before. 

I hadn't thought about all of this in a while, but last night a friend was telling me about how he'd seen a girl on the bus with cutting scars all down her arms.  He'd never seen anything like it before.  And as we got to talking about it, I realized he'd never been depressed before.  Not the way I had.  He talked about "feeling low" sometimes, particularly after a bad girl experience, but then he went on to say he was always able to drag himself out of it just by exercising a bit and telling himself over and over again that things weren't that bad, etc.  And I sat there and listened politely and restrained all my impulses to punch him in the teeth.

If you've ever been depressed, you know why.  This kind of holier-than-thou "I can do it, so why can't you" attitude assumed by someone who has no idea what real depression is like is ignorant, uninformed, unintentionally rude, and very frustrating to someone who has been there and done that.  Implicit in this refrain of "I could always get over it" is a judgment.  He may or may not have realized that he was passing judgment on everyone who can't drag themselves out of ongoing despair over which they have no control.  As much as I tried to explain that this is a chemical problem, and trying to outthink your own mind is a losing battle, he just didn't get it.  He couldn't.  And more than that, he didn't understand that he didn't understand. 

I've never been obese and I've never had an eating disorder, but it occurred to me last night that what I went through with depression could be quite similar to what an obese person goes through with food and trying to change their condition.  If that's true, then I start to understand how trying it must be to hear things like "Just eat less." from people who have never had an eating problem.  I'm not going to say that suddenly I understand obesity, but maybe now I'm a bit closer. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This song is about me

I haven't said why I'm embarking on this little project of mine, and the reason is vanity.  Nothing more.  I am was slightly overweight by medical standards.  (I just checked.  For a woman of my height, overweight is 160 and as of this morning I'm 157.  Hah!).  But my weight wasn't preventing me from doing anything.  I do my Crazy Awesome Sport, as well as some CrossFit style workouts 3 or 4 times per week to support my Crazy Awesome Sport hobby.  I just went to the doctor last week and my cholesteral is low, my blood pressure is low, and in general I'm in excellent health.

However, there are two things that I want and don't have right now. 
  1. A flat stomach
  2. The ability to shop in high fashion stores.  Right now I hover between sizes 10 and 12 which tends to be right around the upper size that most boutiques will stock.  And even if they have those sizes, the clothes generally don't look so good.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh yeah...

I turned this blog into a weight loss blog because I had the blog already lying around and I wasn't doing much with it, but the original goal was to record all the strange and wonderful tidbits of information I picked up during my day.  I was moved to create it, oddly enough, because of all the cab rides I used to take.

I do a sport.  It's awesome.  I won't tell you what it is just yet, but I'm very proud of the fact that I do it, and I practice every Monday night.  The trouble with practice is that it's hard for me to get from my gym to my house.  So I used to take cabs home (until I bought a motorcycle.  Long story.  Tell you later).  The cab drivers were always very nice and they'd usually want to talk, and we'd cover all sorts of ground, such as the fact that now that everyone has flatscreen TVs on their walls, it's easy to see what people are watching as you drive by their houses.  And what are they watching?  Porn.

Anyway, tonight I was cabbin' it home (chance of rain.  rain == no motorcycle) and the cab driver was none other than Shang Tsung*.

I know, right?  I thought he died at the end of the movie too, but instead he's in San Francisco driving a cab and using "fuck" like a comma.  And the MK Final Boss lookalike was telling me all about cabbie licensing, and how new cab drivers have to pass a test.  Except his English was a little weird so he was talking about "baby cabbies" and "uncle cabbies" to refer to new and experienced drivers respectively (yes really.  I can't make this stuff up).

The point is, it turns out that cab drivers in San Francisco have to pass two tests: one administered by the driver school or the cab company or someone equally privatized, and the other by the SFPD.  Reason being, the PD want to make sure that licensed drivers actually know where they're going.  So the test apparently consists of drivers getting quizzed on the fastest routes around the city.  Cool, huh?

*Shang Tsung was the final boss in the video game "Mortal Kombat".  The cutie in this photo is Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat movie (oh yes they did make a movie) and he generally looks like this: the pouty lips, the heavy eyes... why... he might fall asleep at any moment!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Small Victory Celebration!

Victories are for celebrating.  Even tiny ones.  I intend to do mine justice here, which means if you see a post with a title similar to this one, I've done something I'm proud of and I'm going to brag about it a bit.  Selfish?  Yes.  Necessary?  Probably not.  If they annoy you, just skip on to the next post.

My ski pants are looser!!  The last time I went skiing was probably a month ago, and then they were a little tight at the waist, but now they fit perfectly! 

...And all this with a loss of just 2 or 3 pounds.  See?  It's a small victory, but a victory nevertheless.