Friday, January 19, 2018

All the Small Things

At one time a few years ago I was very rigid about what I would consider a victory in terms of weight loss and fitness. If I lost 1 pound over a week, that was a FAILURE. I needed to lose at least 3 pounds over the course of a week for me to consider that I was successful. When I was running, it was unacceptable to just run 30 seconds more than the day before. I had to much run further and/or faster. And one diversion from my rigid eating schedule meant that the entire week was shot.

That worked. I mean, I lost the weight, right? But like many of my strategies it became unsustainable. Maybe because of my own lack of willpower but I certainly couldn’t keep it up and now I find myself where I am.

So I’ve been trying to find a place where I can accept small accomplishments and still consider them victories and be okay with that.

It was about 2 months ago, right before Thanksgiving when I sat in Urgent Care, the inside of my ankle having turned into a swollen and painful mess. Every step hurt. As the doctor gently placed the air cast on me and I was fighting off tears, she told me to cut myself a break - take some time off from running, let yourself heal - after all, she told me, it was the holiday season.

I told her that this is what made it worse - not being able to run during the toughest time of year as far as eating goes - at least for me. She basically told me there was absolutely no alternative - I had to rest it or it simply wouldn’t heal.

Fast forward to today - 2 months later. My goal for this week - not even a full week, mind you, because of the Martin Luther King Day holiday - was to stay out of the peanut butter. Peanut butter was the one thing for this work week that was 100% off limits. It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? To have an actual goal to avoid 1 food.  Not stuffing myself with peanut butter every night should be a no-brainer. But for me, this is an absolute challenge. If I can make it through the rest of tonight I will have achieved that little tiny - and yet monumentous - goal.

I also have been able to run pain free. Slowly and on the treadmill, but I’m putting in the miles. 86 so far this month. My longest run has been 10 miles - a far cry from what I used to do for a “long run”. And so much slower than a few year ago. But still, if I’m keeping up a high heart rate for an hour, it might not make me a stellar runner, but it’s burning the calories, right?

Since I was feeling flush with these “victories” this morning I decided to get on the scale. The last time I stepped on a scale was that Urgent Care visit 2 months ago. The screen read about 2.5 pounds lower. Did I actually lose 2 pounds from then? Who knows given the variation from scale to scale, the time of day, etc. But just stepping on that scale was a big deal since I’ve been so scared to do it for so long. And knowing that I didn’t gain a massive amount since the last time I weighed in was a huge relief. Although the number made me cringe, it hasn’t set me on a downward spiral and depression - at least not yet.

Don’t get me wrong - I have a LOT of work still to do. But having small goals - and letting myself feel good about achieving them - no matter how insignificant they may seem - seems to be a strategy that can work for me - both physically and mentally...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

This Is Us…

Do you guys watch this show?  If not, you should start, right. now.  I was late to the game.  I didn’t watch the first season even though people were raving about it.  But then I saw that the NBC app had the whole first season and one day while on the treadmill I decided to try it.  I wasn’t hooked immediately, but I soon became a This is Us fan-girl.

By the way – I plan to talk about some things from the last couple of episodes, so if you watch but haven’t caught up on the DVR you might want to skip this post.

When I heard about the show, I knew there was a heavy woman on there played by Chrissy Metz.  I had only half paid attention, so I thought that she was heavy the way Melissa McCarthy was heavy when she started on Mike & Molly.  I was surprised when I started watching to see that she was very morbidly obese and was interested to see how the show handled that.  Shockingly accurately and sensitively it turns out.

The show jumps in time, and I was “happy” that a show finally showed someone who evolved from a fat child to a fat adult.  Usually it’s the fat girl who gets thin as an adult and shoves it in the face of those she knew in the past OR the exact opposite – the always thin and hot girl who “let herself go” and is struggling.

No, this shows the humiliation of being fat as a child and the cruelty of other children – an experience that I know well.  Showing a young girl who has a thin and beautiful mother who loves her but deep down can’t identify with her chunky kid.

As an adult, the character Kate, explores the realms of the horrific struggle to lose weight and the emotional baggage that goes along with it.

We’ve seen Kate give her all to weight loss – reluctantly refusing desserts and killing herself on the elliptical only to drop less than a pound while her boyfriend Toby eats a salad for 1 meal and drops 6 pounds.

We’ve seen her insulted by someone - telling her she has no singing talent – and her being almost thrilled that she was rejected not for being fat, but for sucking.

We’ve seen Kate in an emotional crisis – sitting in her car – stuffing donuts in her face.  Disgusted and ashamed with herself but continuing to do it.

In the last episode, what should be a thrilling experience – buying a wedding dress – was shown to be a worrisome and stressful event – because when you’re fat, finding a beautiful dress that fits would be amazing.  Finding one that fits and is beautiful would be nothing short of a miracle.

SOUND FAMILIAR? 

It sure does to me. 

Recently Kate suffered a miscarriage.  While there is no way to know what caused it, especially since is was early on, the show had her bravely acknowledge that her weight could have – probably did play a role. 

Her brother, Kevin, who was in rehab, did not want to hurt her, but had to confront her that her morbid obesity was as related to to her father being an alcoholic as his  own pill addiction.  Of course she knew this, but having it put out there cut her to the bone.

After the miscarriage, Kate’s boyfriend, Toby,  accidentally dropped the trash bag while taking it out of the house.  From the bottom spilled an empty snack cake box and an empty KFC fried chicken box.  He looked at it shocked.  Shocked that Kate was eating this food sure, but clearly more shocked that she was hiding it.

I was running on the treadmill while watching this, and as the camera paused on his stunned face, as he tried to process, I felt this intense tightening of my chest and a deep sense of guilt and shame.  I seriously lost a few steps and almost found myself slammed into the concrete wall behind me.  Because I knew this.  I had done this.  Not exactly the same thing but close enough.  Wayyyy close enough.

And I thought about something that had happened just a few months ago.  My co-worker came in to talk to me and sat in a chair happily munching down a small bag of M & M’s.  When she finished, she did what anyone would do – she tossed the empty bag in the trash.

After she left, I did what a NON NORMAL human would do.  Almost without thinking I took out some papers moving the empty candy wrapper to the bottom of the basket so that no one would see that wrapper and think that I ate them.

Batshit crazy, right?  Like the custodial guys would notice or if they noticed they would give a crap that I had eaten some M&M’s.  But that sense of shame runs scarily deep.  Eating in secret, hiding the evidence - it's part of a sickness.

I love that we have a show on now that is addressing obesity with sensitivity and a lack of judgement.  We don’t see that very much – by and large we don’t mock and make fun of gays or minorities or the disabled on mainstream television any more – but fatties remain fair game.  Or they are sidekicks, not real people.

And I have to hand it to Chrissy Metz.  There is no doubt that some of this stuff hits pretty close to home for her personally and to play it out on TV for America has to be incredibly challenging at times.  I don’t know that I would have the balls to do it.

It almost feels groundbreaking to me.  Kudos to the writers and everyone involved with the show. 

If that plot isn’t enough to entice you, the brilliant  acting by Sterling K. Brown should.  There are no words to describe how breathtakingly good he is on this show.  And, as an added bonus, he is a runner – on the show and in real life.

So I command you – begin binge watching immediately if you haven’t started and for those of you who are already doing so, hold on tight and keep the tissues handy.         

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Goal setting..

Trying to get back in the groove of writing in this blog has forced me to start looking more closely at what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong.  I feel like for the last year I've meandered around, disgusted with myself but feeling powerless to do anything - waiting for the magic fairy to come alonng, wave her wand and make me thin.

So in focusing more on my apathy towards myself, I thought about my goals.  I know two women.  One is my age the other a few years older.  The latter is extremely driven and disciplined.  She adheres to a vegan diet.  She runs what some people might describe as obsessively.  She is constantly looking for new ways to push herself - new challenges - running faster, more miles, always with a new goal.  She is very thin.

The other woman doesn't seem to have these goals.  She runs when she feels like it.  She runs races and is perfectly happy to finish a half marathon in 2 1/2 hours.  She drinks margaritas and unapolgetically posts pics of her and her boyfriend devouring large desserts when they eat out.  She looks happy and healthy and might be described as "thick". 

So who has the better life? Who is doing it right? They both are, right? If the first woman feels complete and satisfied with the constant pushing of herself, more power to her! And woman #2 is enjoying her life by being a little less restrictive, I am happy that she is happy!

Me? I think I fall in between these 2 women but the problem is that I am not satisfied.  If I drive myself the way woman #1 does, I end up feeling exhausted and resentful and I can't sustain the momentum.  But if I give myself slack, I feel like a complete fat failure.  It's like I'm in a no-win situation - not a real - no win situation, but one that exists only in my mind.

So, in recognizing this I also realize I can't have it both ways.  I can't be hard core driven and disciplined in my eating and exercise and be casual about what I eat and my exercise at the same time.  

What choice can I make that will bring me the most happiness?  Can I live with being thicker and running slower or do I want to return to the days of running 40 miles a week and refusing dessert every single time it's offered? 

What is my goal?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Running my fat off…

If you’re not on the Facebook page associated with this blog you might not have seen the book that came out last year that my story was in.

Some time ago I was contacted by Jason Karp, PhD.   To be honest, I had never heard of him.  But I learned that he is pretty well known in the running world and is dedicated to improving the world of running for everyone.  He’s written a number of books about the science of running, including one of the “for dummies” book about running a marathon.  

Dr. Karp indicated that he was writing a book about losing weight through running and part of the book would feature stories about people who had done just that.  He asked if he could use my story in his book.  I told him he could, answered a number of questions, sent him some pictures and told some of my friends and family and then forgot about it.

Early last year, Dr. Karp told me the book was finished and was on its way to publication and let me know that he was sending me a copy.  “Run Your Fat Off” arrived a while later. 

On a personal note, by that time I was so frustrated by my running – the weight gain and injuries had taken their toll on my ability to run at all, not to mention my distance and speed – and I was so disgusted and angry with myself for gaining so much weight back that I felt like…. a fraud I guess is the right word.

Not that anything in the book was fake, but it was almost like I was doing everyone reading the book and Dr. Karp himself a disservice by being in the book.  And when I compared myself to other people in the book??  Holy crap – some of their stories are amazing!  My accomplishments pale in comparison.

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The  book itself is not just stories about people who have ran and lost weight.  It is filled with science based research on running and how running is so good for someone who is trying to lose weight.  I emphasize the science based, because you guys know how much I hate these bullshit pseudo-science exercise and diet fads.  Dr. Karp does too and his book is filled with facts about food and exercise – especially running.

Whether you are brand new to running or an experienced runner, I think there are many tips and tricks you can get from the book.

And maybe you can be inspired by people who have done it. 

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   Incidentally, Dr. Karp lets you know that you DO NOT need to run every day – just on the days you want to eat!!  Winking smile

Friday, January 12, 2018

What is this moderation thing?

Before I lost weight, I ate fast food almost every day.  It makes me sick now to think how many thousands of calories I was consuming.  Hell, I bet I counsumed 1,000 calories per day in Mountain Dew alone!

Since losing weight I don't eat at these places at all, except stopping at McDonald`s occasionally for their $1 coffee.

Unlike the vast majority of Americans, Marc and I don't eat out at regular restaurants very much either.  I bet in 2017 we ate out 4 times.  But when we do eat out, I choose places - typically buffets - where I can eat myself silly.  

I hesitate to use the word "binge" because that implies a loss of control, and these occasions are planned and deliberate.  But the massive amount eaten and the fervor which the food is consumed is pretty similar to a binge.

Yesterday the news reported that the Cici's Pizza near us closed and I was crushed.  Now mind you, since 2012, I think we have eaten at Cici's Pizza twice (it might have been 3 times).  But it was there.  Almost like some sort of sick twisted safety net.  So if I wanted to frantically stuff ny face with piece after piece of cheap ass pizza and fat filled cinnamon rolls, I could.

I told a friend of mine that I was upset and she replied when she heard it had closed she had immediately thought of me.  "Not that you ever eat there," she said casually, "but you like knowing you could."

Holy fuck - I'm that transparent, huh?

I can eat pizza whenever I want.  Pizza in and of itself is not all that horrible - I could make it at home using thinner dough and choose toppings to make it more healthy.  Or I could order pizza and just have 1 or 2 pieces.  But no, moderation is not in my vocabulary.  If I'm going to eat something that I've labeled as "bad" I'm going to EAT.  

It seems so simple in theory to just shift food way down on my priority list.  If I could, than 1 or 2 pieces would be satisfying.  But that is a skill that has, at least so far, eluded me...


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Teachable moments

Late yesterday, someone who I only recently met, but who apparently had been filled in by someone about my weight loss, asked for my opinion on the new Weight Watchers zero points program.

I don't really know that much about it other than what every person who watches TV knows - there is a new "point system", some items have zero points, and Oprah is involved.  And I had run across a very funny tweet when this system first came out  from some who said something like "I don't think #WeightWatchers is aware of how many bananas I can eat!"

I told the person that I hadn't used any program per se and that I wasn't all that educated on the Weight Watchers plan, but I would look at it and give my opinion if they wanted it - which they did.

So the first thing I did was pull up a list of the foods you can eat that have zero points.  And looking at that huge list in front of me I actually said "WHHAAATTT?" out loud.  I scanned through my head and started laughing as I thought of my meals the day before:

Breakfast: 2 eggs
Lunch: Pre-bagged salad (lettuce, shredded carrots, cabbage), crabmeat and a banana
Dinner:  Boneless, skinless chicken breast, lentils and steamed broccoli
Snack: Non-fat Greek yogurt

So, according to Weight Watchers, I ate ZERO POINTS the entire day.  Well DAYUM, I should be totally skinny, right??!!

So, me being me, I first got all judgey and disgusted.  I mean, really - you think you can just chow down on a few bananas, a can of refried beans, some grapes, and as much chicken as you want ON TOP OF your meals and lose weight??!!

Then I started thinking more about it.  So many people struggle to lose weight.  They try fads and unsustainable diets - like cutting out carbs completely.  Women are cooking separate meals for themselves when they eat with their families.  And what happens?  IF they lose weight they gain a lot of it back.  Because the way they are eating doesn't translate to long term sustainability.

So what I *think* was the idea behind this zero points program was not to encourage people to eat vast amounts of food thinking they can lose weight, but to teach better choices.  So if you've used most of your points that day and you're still hungry - you can grab some baby carrots, or some yogurt, or an apple INSTEAD of saying "Fuck it", eating a bunch of Doritos or a pint of ice cream and then hating yourself afterwards.

This program is also translatable to "real life".  So you had a zero point day yesterday (like my example) - tonight you can eat some mashed potatoes or add some cheese on your turkey burger without guilt.  And no more separate meals - teaching kids, letting them watch you make healthy choices, like eating chicken breast with a HUGE salad and at night having a snack with them of fruit - that's a good thing.

I think most people would get that you can't just eat tons of zero point foods.  Many people have a hard time tracking calories accurately.  But when you have a certain amount of points to spend which makes it more likely that you'll chose something off that list of healthy foods - that can't be a bad thing, right?  That list teaches - you're out to dinner and are asked what side you want, and you choose the zucchini mix instead of the rice pilaf to go with your point-laden steak and you feel good about that choice,  not deprived.

So I think for some who want/need a program to go by, it could work - as with all plans you have to stick to it.  

Besides, who coukd really eat 6 ears of corn at a sitting? 

Me.  I totally could.  LOL

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

We all have problems...

Last week I ran across an article about a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.  The title alone suggested this would be an appropriate book for me!  In anticipation of getting the book, I first downloaded a Podcast where Manson was interviewed and had a chace to listen to part of it yesterday and a couple of points discussed hit home to me.

First off, it's not about not giving a fuck what anyone thinks, says Manson.  There is a name for people like that - psychopath.  Not something we should probably aspire to be.  What it's about is caring about the opinions of people who matter in our lives, and not caring about what people who have no importance in our lives think about us.

I remember a while ago, Runkeeper re-posted a story they had done on my weightloss to their Facebook page.   It popped up in my feed.  I clicked on it and saw a few dozen comments on my story, mostly comments like "Wow! Amazing!" or something about it being inspirational.  Among the comments was this little gem: "Still ugly! Weight loss don't fix ugly!"  I don't know who this guy is who made the comments, but it hurt my feelings badly.

Now intellectually I get that some idiot who has no meaning in my life making this comment shouldn't matter. I should not give a fuck.  But I did.  And what Manson didn't say in the interview (maybe he will in the book) is HOW?  Knowing you shouldn't give a fuck is one thing, but actually NOT giving a fuck?  How do you get there?

The bigger piece that I got from the interview was him talking about that elusive search for happiness.  He explained that no matter who you are, what you achieve, you will have shitty days.  You should strive to just have better problems.

The example he used was saying that both Warren Buffet and a homeless man worry about money.  But Warren's worries are much nicer to have than the homeless guy's.  Sadness comes from thinking you can achieve complete happiness - a life without problems.  Manson and the hosts went on to talk about celebrities who have committed suicide after seeming to achieve everything they ever wanted.

Last night I went down to our workout room and lifted weights while the dogs ran on the treadmill (they are going stir crazy with this weather!)  I thought about the problems I had when I was morbidly obese.  And about the problems I have now - like trying to maintain.  Certainly my problem of needing to lose 40 ish pounds is a better problem than needing to lose 220 ish! And my problem of only running at a 9:15 pace for 6 miles is a better problem than not being able to run 100 feet at all!

I think that my entire life I was absolutely convinced that all of my problems were caused by being fat.  And if I could achieve the miracle of getting down to 150 (for some random reason that was always the number), I would be gloriously happy and all my problems would disappear.  And for some stupid reason I thought that once I got the weight off, there would be no issue with staying that weight with little to no effort.

Uhh..yeah. Not so much.  

I am going to read the book and see if learning to not give a fuck will help get my mind - and body - to something that resembles a normal person.  And if I lose 2 pounds that doesn't mean my problems will be solved, but they will be better...