Saturday, May 29, 2010

I told you so

When I started my little weight project, the first thing I did was to go around and find stacks of weight loss blogs, because misery loves company and because I decided I wasn't going to tell anyone in real life what I was up to.  I needed moral support, and if anonymous bloggers are where it's at, fine by me.

I read a lot of blogs, and I started noticing a few very interesting similarities among them.  Specifically, what worked and what didn't.  The bloggers who were the most successful at losing and maintaining all did two things:
  1. Exercise regularly
  2. Cut out most or all carbs and sugars
The most interesting thing to me was that they all came to these decisions independently of each other.  Every blogger talks about how great exercise is, how good it makes her feel, how much better it makes her body look.  And everyone who has reevaluated the role of carbohydrates in her diet has come to the realization that cutting carbs makes the cravings and the binges go away.

We will get to why this is important in a minute, but now I'm going to do a literary swerve and talk about the week I've had.  You may remember that last Sunday, I put up some goals.  Specifically, I had goals regarding my caloric intake and exercise.  Well, I nailed the exercise, but I was a wreck on calories.  Yes, there were some hormones involved.  But I've cut calories before without too much trouble.  For some reason, this week I just couldn't summon up the willpower.  I didn't binge, and I stayed within about 2200 calories every day, which is maintenance level for me.  But I wasn't anywhere near the 1700 cal goal I set.

I was thinking about all this last night and wondering if maybe it was time to take a break from the loss game.  I was thinking maybe I was burnt out.  I know what I've done is nothing compared to every blog I read, both in terms of pounds lost and time spent doing it, but I have worked hard and I have accomplished a lot of what I set out to do.  And let me just say I'm thrilled with the results.  I look better than ever, I feel fantastic, I get compliments, and I'm very very proud.  If I never lost another pound I would still be really happy.

This morning I woke up and started making my breakfast and for the first time in months I thought about the success of my fellow bloggers and how they did it, and I remembered all my conclusions about exercising and cutting carbs.  As I was putting apple butter on my whole wheat english muffin.  Damn.

I'd started eating toast with my eggs at breakfast a few weeks ago.  I was trying to increase my calories enough at breakfast that I wouldn't spend the morning feeling hungry.  Adding some toast seemed to do the trick.  But now I'm wondering if maybe those added carbs are some of the reason that I've been having so much trouble staying within my calorie limits lately.  And I'm kicking myself because I knew this all along.  I knew that almost everyone who was really successful cut her carbs.  I knew that when I was doing well with weight loss I was eating almost no carbs whatsoever.  And yet I completely failed to see the connection between my morning toast and my inability to stick to my goals.

All that said (and if you only read one paragraph from this entry, make it this one), I am glad I set goals and I'm glad I didn't hit them.  If I hadn't made a point to say that I was going to track 5 days this week and I was going to stay within my calorie limits 5 days, I probably wouldn't have been frustrated enough to try to figure out what went wrong.  It was only because I made it a point publicize my goals that I knew full well I should be able to hit that I was spurred into action when those goals went unmet.

So where does this leave me with regard to being burnt out, going on maintenance for a bit, and being generally fed up?  Undecided.  I am frustrated at not hitting my goals and I am furious with myself that I didn't see this connection sooner and I am a bit burnt out, and the fact that I have a new plan of attack isn't really motivating me right now. 

Another lesson I'm learning is patience (another entry for another time) and patience means I don't have to decide all of this right now.  I can take a few days and let this all sink in before I decide on a course of action.  So that's what I'm going to do.  I'm headed off to see a friend for a few days anyway, so I'm going to go to LA, enjoy seeing my friend, and return on Monday and reevaluate.

Have an excellent Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So how do y'all do this then?*

Remember Sunday?  Remember when I was all pumped and recommitted to my goals and ready to go balls-to-the-wall all week to get back on track?

I'm so cute when I'm naive, don't you think? 

It was a good idea.  Solid plan.  Go back to doing all the things I was doing before that worked.  Count calories again.  And really, I've been pretty good.  I haven't skipped any exercise.  I have tracked, every day.  And while I haven't always been within 1700 calories, I've usually been within 1800, which is close enough.  Except for last night, when there was comfort wine and extra pasta and a grand total of about 2300 calories.  Oops. 

Here's the problem.  It's that TOM, which means that for the last week, my hormones have been whacked the hell out.  I shouldn't complain, because I don't get PMS.  But I do get moody.  I do get demotivated and a bit depressed.  Oh, and hungry.  Really, agonizingly hungry.  I looked all over the tubez and there are a lot of forums where women ask variations on the question "Why do I turn into a ravaging insatiable hosebeast for a week?" and they always get replies of "You burn more calories, duh."

Last I checked, my college degree was not issued by the University of It Stands To Reason**, so I did some fact checking.  I found a lot of random people saying that the week before a period, metabolic rates go up.  But I couldn't find any studies on the subject that were more recent than 1923 (yeah really), and no one agreed on how much the variance was.  Some said 4%, some said as much as 10%.  Which means there are a lot of people out there playing armchair biologist on forums, but no real actual science.

So what's a girl to do?

This house has moved on from pre-TOM to TOM-proper so rationality is returning in fits and starts, and hopefully a decreased appetite along with it.  But I think in future months, I'll just allow myself an extra 200-300 calories per day in the week before.  If my BMR actually does increase during that time then this is something I should be doing anyway.  A 500 calorie daily deficit is reasonable; 800 calories is not.  If it's all in my head, then even adding an extra 300 calories will still mean I'm running a deficit every day and although my loss rate will be slower, it will continue. 

What do you ladies do to cope?

*I'm not actually Southern.  But "y'all" is a great word, so I'm stealing it.
**With apologies to Terry Pratchett.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekly Weigh In and Reflection

Starting weight: 159 (3/17/2010)
This morning's scale reading: 150.6
Official weight, as dictated by the trend line: 150.7
Pounds lost this week: 0.1
Total pounds lost: 8.3

Can you say "plateau"?  :)

I've been pretty lax about my commitment to the cause.  There's been personal drama, a few vacations, and a feeling that actually, I look pretty great.  My motivation to keep losing that last 5 pounds is waning. 

I need to kick my own ass into high gear this week.  So I'm going back to my roots.  This blog was originally about lessons I learned, and it's time to enumerate them.  I've figured out a lot in two months and I need to remind myself of this.  I'm also setting some goals for the week.  Without further ado, here's a partial list of stuff I know now that I didn't know before:

Order a glass of water with every drink.  It's a way to keep myself hydrated and pace my drinking.  And it cuts my bar tab in half. 

My perfect breakfast: 2 fried eggs, a slice of toast with butter, and coffee with sugar and cream.  After much experimentation, I've discovered that this is the meal that keeps me full all morning.  It's not just the amount of calories.  It's the combination of protein, carbs, caffeine, and fat.  Speaking of which...

I do not fear fat in my food.  Even though I count calories, it's not fat I'm worried about.  It turns out that fat by itself will fill me up appropriately.  It's carbs I fear.  Carbs make me hungry soon after eating.  So now I eat bacon grease and butter, but I go easy on the toast.

A meal doesn't have to involve seconds.  This one is huge.  I didn't even learn it as a lesson, I just changed my behavior without realizing it.  I never have second helpings with any meal at this point.  It doesn't even occur to me to do so.  This, more than anything, is the reason I think I'll be able to maintain a weight, even if I don't lose anymore.

Failure is not scary because failure is just one day out of the rest of my life.  Anyone can recover from one day.  In the grand scheme of life, one day is nothing.  So if I want to experiment with my diet or my exercise plan, or if I get so discouraged that I want to quit, it's ok.  If my diet doesn't work, or if I hate my new exercise, that's ok.  Because it's just one day.  Or one week, even.  I can recover from one week.  After all, in only two months, I recovered from ten years. 

Now.  This week's goals:

  • Track five out of seven days
  • Stay within 1700 calories five out of seven days
That's all for now.  Good luck with your week!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A hidden cost of weight loss

Well I'm back.  I snuck away to Yosemite and Santa Cruz last week for a vacation and a friend's wedding.  I expected to have least a bit of internet time to post updates, but I didn't.  Sorry about that.

I didn't do a weekly weigh in this week, but it has been almost exactly 2 months since I started this project and I've lost a grand total of 8 pounds, down to 151.  It's not a huge amount, but it is about 5% of my starting body weight which means it's definitely enough to have visible results.  And peeps, those results are scary.

When I started this, I didn't have a solid idea in my head of how I wanted to look.  I knew I wanted to be thinner.  I knew I wanted a flatter stomach, slimmer hips, and a total eradication of back fat (back fat!  I hate back fat.).  But I really didn't know what to expect.  The last time I was at this weight, I was 16 and a competitive gymnast.  My body was completely different.  Now, 10 years of hormones and college and growing up later, my body has changed.  It didn't occur to me at the beginning at all, but I'm in completely uncharted territory, body-wise.

I like about 90% of the results.  My stomach is flatter, my hips are slimmer, back fat is gone (HAH!), and I can look at photos of myself and not be annoyed.  But... my chest is smaller too.  I didn't anticipate that and I'm very sad about it.  I had this magnificent 38D rack that I loved (and so did everyone else) and it's slowly but surely shrinking.  Not by much.  I haven't been refitted for a bra yet, but now I'm maybe 38C or 36D.  I don't know.  Also, my waist to hip ratio is shrinking.  I'm not as curvy as I used to be.  Once again, a very scary thing, and something I didn't expect.

The bottom line is that when I began this weight loss process, I thought I knew what to expect.  I was changing my body precisely because I was pretty sure I knew what was coming.  Now, however, I understand that I don't know what's in store for me.  I may or may not have an hourglass figure at the end.  I may end up with thighs 3 sizes larger than my waist (which is the way I am now.  My tailor and I are tight). 

I'm nothing if not an aggressive problem solver, and fortunately the solution to this problem is fairly simple, although not necessarily cheap: buy clothes that fit.  Or tailor what I have.  It doesn't matter that I still have more weight to lose.  It doesn't matter that my shape will continue to change.  The most frustrating part of my morning right now is digging through my closet and coming up with nothing.  Day after day.  Every pair of jeans is far too loose in the waist to be flattering.  None of my blazers sit right on my shoulders.  I look disheveled and I look like I should gain 10 pounds, which I won't do. 

So instead, I'm slowly but surely making many trips to the tailor.  One by one, my jeans are starting to fit again.  I'm cruising thrift shops for tops to wear in my transition period.  And I'm here to tell you that the clothes make all the difference in the world.  There's nothing like pulling on a freshly tailored pair of skinny jeans and seeing my ass in the mirror (and doing a fist pump, because that's how I roll).  It sounds petty, but it's worth it to me to conquer my fear of my body and its future.  I'm showing myself that the new me is unassailably better than the old me.  Because the more I learn that lesson, the less likely I am to go back.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

Starting Weight: 159 (March 17th, 2010)
Today's Scale Reading: 152.2
Weight, as dictated by the trend line: 151.8
Total Lost: 7.2 lb

For the last 2 days, my weight has actually been above the trend line.  It's not a surprise that this has happened.  For the past few weeks I've been coasting on the eating.  I haven't really pigged out much, but I haven't been in calorie deficit mode either.  And then Thursday was a day full of wine tasting in Napa and Friday was a day volunteering at Habitat For Humanity, which was great but did nothing to change the fact that I ate what was probably 1500 calories of burrito deliciousness for lunch.  And then went drinking after.  Yesterday was crossfit.  And drinking.

Bottom line?  Time to get back on track.  I've been partying for basically 4 days straight. 

I discovered, incidentally, that there's something very cleansing about a workout the morning after a party day.  Once I did that, I felt like I had truly put some distance between myself and my party habits and I was ready to get back on track.  And honestly, I was doing really well for most of the day.  I tracked, I ate well, and I made sure I had enough calories left over to have a drink.  The problem was that once I had the drink, I was ravenous.  Does this happen to anyone else?  You drink and get hungry?  I hate that.  I stopped by my local pizza place, which unfortunately only does whole pizzas.  No slices.  They have a personal sized one, which is still way too big.  But whatever.

So.  Sunday.  New week.  New lease on life.  New opportunity to start fresh.  To kick things off, I've got a junk removal team coming over in a few hours to take away some furniture and books I don't need.  I'm half tempted to make weekly stuff purging a habit.  It feels good. 

How do you start off your week?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



We are officially into the domain of "numbers I have not seen since high school."  And not senior year, either.  The last time I was in the 140s I was a competative gymnast training 8 hours per week.  Well over 10 years ago.


My theme song for today is Puscifer's "Queen B".

This lady got the thickness
Can I get a witness
This lovely lady got the thickness
Can I get a Hell yeah

Have an awesome day.  If you don't do it for you, do it for me, because I'm in the mood to make people happy.  :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why I'm doing this - Round 2

I originally said that my weight loss goals were motivated by vanity.  I didn't like wearing a bathing suit and I couldn't shop designer clothes because I was right on the edge of being too big to wear them, and most designer duds aren't meant for a pile of curves like mine anyway.

All of that is still true.  And vanity a great motivator.  I tried on an old pair of size 8 leather jeans today.  The last time I tried them on, they didn't fit.  Too small.  Well today, they still don't fit because they're too big!  I won't lie -- I fist pumped for that.

Physically, I'm in really good shape.  I'm not going to say I can do absolutely everything I want to do, but the presence or absence of fifteen pounds isn't going to change that.  I've got ambitious physical goals, and they require dedication and loads of gym time to meet, but they don't really need weight loss.

Today I came up with another reason for my weight loss.  Control.  I want to be in control of my body and in control of how I feel about it.  Before I started this project I was holding my weight steady around 162ish, and honestly I'm shocked.  I can't believe that given what I was eating (and drinking!) I didn't weigh 200.  I want to be able to step on the scale and know why it says what it does.  I want to be able to be confident that I'll see the number I want every day.  I want to know that the choices I'm making around my food and my lifestyle are the right ones instead of guessing.  And I want to get these healthy habits ingrained now, while I'm still relatively young and single and living alone. 

I read other weight loss blogs and there are some people out there doing amazing things.  Raising kids and fighting bankruptcy and fixing marriages and handling a two year migraine and losing weight!  I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for all of them, but that's not who I want to be.  I don't want to be a hero.  I don't want to overcome monolithic adversity to achieve my goals.  I'm lazy, and I want to take the easy way out.*

Also, I'm 26 and I've never been the proverbial hot chick.  A combination of depression, fear of attention, an antipathy towards most of humanity (left over from my teenage years) and a complete ignorance of the rules of fashion and makeup meant that when I had a body to rock, I didn't rock it.  But now I'm old(er), wise(r), and much less poor, which means I can get into much more and much more exciting trouble.  Time to celebrate my life.

*I am pretty sure that no one I know in real life reads this blog.  But if I implied in real life that working out 5 days per week and counting every calorie was easy, I'd be laughed out of the room.  So I'm not saying that.  I'm just saying it's easier to do all those things now than later.

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me...

After reading posts like this, I was so excited when I found shirataki noodles in my grocery store.  On the package, and from various descriptions I've heard, they are the "too good to be true" noodle.  20 calories per serving.  20!  That's it!  For the same amount of pasta, I'd be eating five or six times that.  I grabbed a pack a week or so ago and they've been sitting in my fridge ever since.

Yesterday, while I was wallowing in my cold, I decided it was time to try them out.  I cooked up some peas and broccoli with garlic and soy sauce and red pepper flakes, added the noodles, and ended up with what looked like an absolutely fabulous noodle bowl.  The fact that I had no ginger, chili sauce, or sesame oil didn't look like it was going to matter.  I was staring at a plate of food that was maybe 100 calories and would easily fill me up for dinner.

Triumphantly, I carried my bowl full of stir-fried goodness back to my nest of pillows and blankets on the couch.  I swirled a fork full of noodled tofu, held it up for inspection, and took a whiff.  And honestly, they didn't smell fantastic.  Not terrible, but not odorless, and definitely not on my list of perfume selections.  But whatever.  New food, new experience.  Not one to let a small setback get in the way of accomplishment, I took my first bite...

WORMS!  I'm eating worms!  Why am I eating worms?!  This is digusting.  They're slimy and they crunch slightly and EWWWWWW.

And thus the honeymoon fascination with the shirataki noodles came to a screeching halt.  The flavor was similar to the smell -- not fantastic, but very mild.  But the texture?  Horrifying.  I felt like I was eating a mouthful of night crawlers.  Chewing was even more alarming because the tofu has just enough structure that each bite has a bit of a crunch.

I finished my dinner.  It was tough.  If I'd known what I was getting into I would have saved it for when I wasn't feeling so gross already.  I might give them another shot just because they've got so much bang for my buck calorie-wise, but I'll explore new and undiscovered uses of spaghetti squash in parallel.  I love spaghetti squash, but I've only ever had it with red sauce.  So, next on the agenda is spaghetti squash noodle bowl.  I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weekly Weigh In

Starting weight: 159 
This morning's scale reading: 150.4
Official weight, as dictated by the trend line: 152.4
Pounds lost this week: 1.2
Total pounds lost: 6.6

If you saw my last post, you know this week didn't start all that well.  I was suffering from some sort of general malaise.  Well, the week continued to suck.  There was some stress in my life, and then I got a cold, and counting calories was definitely not at the top of my priority list.

Actually it was worse than that.  Tuesday was a Rough Day (TM) and when I got home that night, I ate a whole pizza.  Yeah really.  It was a small pizza, but it had cream sauce.  The thing was, I definitely wasn't hungry for the whole pizza.  I could have stopped at 2 slices and been fine.  I thought about it.  That sort of control was totally in the cards.  I was eating those first 2 slices and my head was filled with thoughts of "if I stop now, my calories today will be fine" and "this really isn't so great for me.  I'm not even hungry.  What will the scale say tomorrow?" and other similarly themed things.

And then I got very angry.  Events on Tuesday fall under the category of Things I Do Not Blog About so I won't share them here.  But suffice it to say they were much more important than what I was eating.  And they left me feeling pretty awful.  And yet all I could think about was calories?!  Are my priorities that skewed?  Am I so obsessed with this new healthy lifestyle that I can't shift my focus to things that really matter? 

All I wanted to do was have a little pity party for myself, get some things straight in my head, and come to terms with some changes in my life.  And I couldn't do that because I was so fixated on the calories of the pizza I was eating.  So, out of desperation, I ate the whole thing.  Not because I wanted to (although it was very good pizza), and not because I was hungry, but because I knew that I would be so far over my limit for the day that it wouldn't be worth worrying about anymore.

The next few days I really didn't eat much, probably because of all that pizza.  And now I have a cold.  So the damage could have been much worse.  But I really don't care.  I'm not prone to binges, and I know I can get back on track this week.  I'm just concerned that this project I'm doing has completely taken over my life to the exclusion of everything else.  I'll be keeping an eye on things over the next few weeks and adjusting accordingly.

Now, onto the good stuff.

I stopped into my favorite consignment shop on Friday to see the owner.  She's a good friend of mine, and I hadn't talked to her in a while.  The first thing she noticed was that I was skinnier.  Woohoo!  And I tried on some clothes while I was there and got an amazing pair of skinny jeans in a size smaller than I normally wear.  Hah!

Thanks to everyone who sent out support on my last post.  I am doing much better, and I expect to continue to rally. 

Let's all kick ass and take names this week.  Who's with me?