Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Week Five Hundred Seventy Thousand and One


I had a slight hard time last night, not slapping one of the ladies in my weight watcher's group silly.

She made her goal weight last night, and I'm thrilled for her. Seriously. It's a hell of an accomplishment, whether you need to lose 90 pounds or you need to lose 25. Beth, our leader, who has one of the most destructive relationships with food I've ever seen (the woman sprays Windex on leftover cake because she cannot be trusted with leftovers! And SHE KNOWS that Windex tastes nasty. Which means at least once, she must have tried to eat something, even after treating it with window cleaner!) lost 35 pounds to get to goal weight.

So, you don't necessarily have to have "been there" (there being the vast realm of obesity) to be helped by Weight Watchers. I know my friend Leigh - who in my opinion is sort of a skinny minnie, and I'm never really sure where she plans to lose weight from - has often felt sort of awkward and unwelcome at Weight Watchers where she "only" has to lose seventeen pounds. I try really hard not to be judgmental about people.

I don't always succeed.

I confess, there are some things I don't understand about other people. I have not yet had a binge-eating, falling-off-the-wagon craptastic "I don't give a damn" week. Or even a meal. I don't always understand people who say "I just couldn't help myself."

I get this mental image of some homicidal cupcake brigade marching across the counter and forcing itself down someone's throat, ala Young Sherlock Holmes. The practical part of me says, "Who, exactly, forced you to eat three slices of pizza? YOU did. You made the choice. Now, maybe it was a bad choice, and you wish you hadn't done it, but you did." Not that I haven't said this sort of thing before. I'm just as eager as the next person to pass off blame to someone else. But maybe that's exactly what we need to learn not to do. Take responsibility for the consequences of our own actions. "I got fat because I was on steroids for such a long time." That may well be true, but after I was off the steroids, the only person keeping me fat was me.

The only person who can lose this weight is me.

It's all on me; I cannot afford to binge out. So, I don't. Mentally, I recognize that this isn't as easy for some people. But I don't understand it.

All of this has nothing to do with Monica. But you know how I get off topic. Anyway. Monica. Who made her goal weight last night after losing twenty-five pounds. In tiny little .2 pound increments. (I have sympathy for that, really, I do... I lost .2 yesterday. My fifty-five pound lost bling looks a month away at this moment...)

Beth says to her, "So, what made you walk in the door?"

Monica, "I just didn't feel good about myself." She crosses her arms in front of her chest defensively. I doubt if she feels good about herself, even now. "I mean, I wasn't grossly obese or anything..." She says the word like it's a vile, filthy epithet.

Beth cut her off...

There are quite a number of people in our group who are - or who have been - obese. I don't think any one of us was particularly thrilled to be discussed in the same tone of voice that someone might indicate vomit on an Oriental carpet.

You know, it's a real bitch that so many of us feel the need to bolster ourselves at someone else's expense. She felt bad about herself carrying an extra 25 pounds around, so she has to say "at least I wasn't..." I've done it too, although I try very hard not to say things like that out loud. (Anyone who's ever thought being telepathic would be fun and romantic ought to sit down for a good long while, listen to their own hostile, nasty thoughts, and then, take a moment to imagine what it would be like to hear that from everyone, all the time, and reconsider how much fun that would be...) (And, of course, here I am looking down on Monica for being so bitter and nasty, and... man, it's a vicious little circle, isn't it?)

I'd love to be a better person. I really would.

But I don't quite know how.

I guess the best I can hope for is that I recognize it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time on Target...

Target dates are flexible, you move when the target moves. Deadlines... are missed.
-- Thomas C. , Technical Project Management

It is time to look at my goals again...

When I first started this lifestyle change, I really didn't have any idea what was a reasonable amount of weight to lose. Not only that, but I didn't know what was a reasonable amount of weight to lose for me.

"They"1 say that it's not healthy to lose more than one to two pounds per week. All those various ads and commercials that say "Lose 9 pounds in 11 days..." Not gonna happen. Unless you try something a bit extreme. 1 - 2 pounds per week. That's it.

However, I was pretty sure that I was not going to lose 2 pounds a week. That's 104 pounds in a year, and honestly, I didn't think that was anywhere close to a realistic expectation. Even if I had 104 pounds to lose. Which I didn't. Not much less than that, admittedly, but I was willing to take my comfort2 where I could.

Ok... so, one pound per week... I thought I could live with that. That'd be 52 pounds gone by the end of the year. That would put me in the mid 160's by January, a weight I hadn't personally seen since Chris and I broke up in 1996, and I spent two whole weeks either not eating, or throwing up what I did eat. (Extreme stress is good for your weight. Unfortunately, the loss doesn't stick around, even if the stress does.)

And yet, further analysis of my own habits convinced me that 1 pound a week was probably not realistic either. After all, when I was pregnant and had lost a lot of weight (I went from 227 to 188 in 40 weeks) I hadn't lost quite a pound a week. And when I did that, I had some serious motivation. After trying so hard to have a baby, I didn't want to take any chances with the one successful pregnancy that I'd managed. I had iron willpower, but only - I thought - because something I wanted more than chocolate cake existed. I wanted that baby so badly that I ached, every single day3.

So... one pound a week was out. Therefore... what was reasonable?

I decided - eventually, after a lot of thought - that 35 pounds was a reasonable amount to expect to lose in a year's time. That would put me in the low 180s4 and I'd have lost a little over 15% of my body weight.

And, given how things were going, at first, that seemed like a goal I could make. It took me 16 weeks to get my first 10% gone. In those 3 short months, I'd already had gains, almost a full month of platuea... 35 pounds in a year. Totally doable.

I don't like setting myself up to fail. (It's so stupid. You don't learn anything by succeeding right away.... and yet, I hate failure... I hate how stupid I feel, how unworthy. I mean, it's not like my self-esteem is all that and a side of fries to start with, I don't need to make it worse by humiliating myself, do I? So... I sat around for years, just letting myself get fatter because I was afraid to fail. Which, in and of itself, made me feel stupid. I guess I eventually came to the conclusion that it was better to do something and be stupid, rather than do nothing and still be stupid.)

On the other hand, when my weight loss started picking up (right about the same time we switched to Core), I didn't want to make things too easy for myself. A goal isn't really a goal if it's easy. I was at -35 pounds by week 26. So, I revamped my goals again.

My husband works as a project manager. Which means, essentially, that he's in charge of making other people do stuff without having the authority to make anyone do anything.

He does this by setting Target Dates. Almost nothing he does is ever time-urgent (no matter how he might get personally frustrated when things take months longer than honestly, they should...). "Here's what I need you to do. I've got a Target Date of Oct 13th for it." And if whoever it is can't get it done by then, he readjusts his delivery time accordingly. There are no deadlines. People don't like deadlines. Deadlines get missed.

If you can't make the Target Date, he moves the Target.

I've reset my Target a few times. A few months back, I said I wanted to be at my second 10% and in size 14s by the end of September. Well, it's the end of September now, and I've made that goal. My next goal was to make my 3rd 10% and in 12s by the end of the year. (I said Thanksgiving, originally, but I still don't really expect to lose any weight during the holidays...)

I'm wearing 12s now. And my 3rd 10% goal is 160, which is less than 5 pounds away.

So, perhaps I should adjust my Target again.

There are 14 weeks left until the end of the year. Five of which are in the Dead Zone between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That leaves me 9 workable weeks until year's end.

Think I can hit another 12 pounds by year's end? That'll put me in the low 150's and will put me at -65 pounds lost for the year.

1. Oh, lookie! A footnote!

Justin: "Who decides that the work day is from 9 to 5, instead of 11 to 4? Who decides that the hemlines will be below the knee this year and short again next year? Who draws up the borders, controls the currency, handles all of the decisions that happen transparently around us?"

Sheridan: “I don’t know.”

Justin: "Ah! I’m with Them. Same group, different department."

Babylon Five, Episode 322 "Z'ha'dum"

2. Having been taught how to make footnotes, I'm probably going to overuse them for a while. But, speaking of comfort, I wanted to give you all my recipe for Rice Bowl, which is one of my favorite comfort foods. Why it's comforting, I'm not quite certain, since it comes from the day where I was poorer than dirt, but nonetheless... (Of course, if I was still as poor as dirt, I couldn't afford to make this anymore. Tomatoes are no longer cheap vegetables. Nor is 94/6 fat free ground beef cheap. For that matter, even rice is getting more expensive.)

It's sort of a mixture recipe. When my mom was serious about her diet, she used to eat rice with diced tomato, spiced with McCormick's Lemon Herb. The other recipe was from my ex-boyfriend Chris, who called it Man-food, which was basically ground beef spiced with mustard, steak sauce, and bbq sauce, served over a hamburger bun. I mixed the two recipes together - rice, tomato, ground beef, sauces - and added cheese and onions. It made for a very filling, quick meal that covered my basic food groups.

Rice Bowl

1 cup cooked brown rice (I often use leftover rice for this, or make up some of the 10-minute minute rice)
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
1/4 pound low fat ground beef
1/2 cup fat free cheese (cheddar and feta are what I use, mixed together)
gulden's mustard
A1 steak sauce
Worchestershire sauce

pan fry ground beef with onion and sauces until sauce is thick, beef is cooked through, and onions are translucent and slightly soft.

Chop tomato, mix with cheese. Pour hot beef mixture over cheese and tomato. Add rice, stir thoroughly. Serve immediately.

3. What did I tell ya? Too many footnotes. Are these better or worse than my long parenthetical asides? Opinions?

Anyway, what I was going to say is that most of my friends wouldn't have believed how badly I wanted to be pregnant. While I'm generally a fairly open person - I don't just wear my heart on my sleeve, I freaking advertise it in neon - this was something I just was not willing to share until the point was moot. But trust me, getting pregnant was my all-consuming passion for the better part of three years.

4. I have a thing about 180 pounds... comes from a weird source, and I'll quote it here for you. If you've read this book, you might have a better idea of what my self-esteem is like, that I compare myself with Mrs. Kaspbrak.

Once, shortly before actually proposing marriage, he had taken a picture of Myra which she had given him and had put it next to one of his mother, who had died of congestive heart-failure at the age of sixty-four. At the time of her death, Eddie's mother had topped the scales at over four hundred pound - four hundred and six, to be exact. She had become something nearly monstrous by then - her body had seemed nothing more than boobs and butt and belly, all overtopped by her pasty, perpetually dismayed face. But the picture of her which he put next to Myra's picture had been taken in 1944, two years before he had been born (You were a very sickly baby, the ghost-mom now whispered in his ear. Many times we despaired of your life...). In 1944 his mother had been a relatively svelte one hundred and eighty pounds.

He had made that comparison, he supposed, in a last-ditch effort to stop himself from committing psychological incest. He looked from Mother to Myra and back again to Mother.

They could have been sisters. The resemblance was that close.

Stephen King, IT, 1986, Viking Penguin, Inc

I could stand being "relatively svelte."

Friday, September 19, 2008


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

~ Marianne Williamson

I was talking with one of the guys who regularly goes to my Weight Watcher's meetings. Bobby's lost about 55 pounds, and he's been a member for about 3 months longer than Thomas and I. He and his wife - who is stunningly beautiful with silver-white hair and the greenest eyes imaginable - were just ahead of us in the Weigh In line. She smiled, big as the world, when she saw us.

"Hi! Oh, my goodness," she exclaims. "You look so thin!"

"Well," I jerk a thumb at Thomas, "He does, at any rate." (Thomas is about 13 pounds away from goal, and if you think I don't resent it sometimes, you have obviously not been paying attention!)

"No, really," she insisted (I wish I could remember her name! bad me!). "You look fantastic."

"Thanks." I went up to get weighed in. I've lost another 2.2 pounds this week, putting my grand total of weight loss at 53.8 pounds. Despite the good loss, I still felt awkward and weird. I don't like or feel comfortable with praise on my weight loss. Almost as much as I feel uncomfortable without getting praise for my weight loss. Kind of a lose-lose situation. I mean, on the one hand, I get pissed as all hell if someone doesn't notice, or doesn't comment, on my weight loss, particularly if I haven't seen them in a long while. On the other hand, I still have trouble seeing myself in the mirror.

Last week, Beth said to me, "Oh, you look so good! I can really see a difference in your face."

To me, my face looks the same as always.

"No," I said. "I don't look good. I look better. But not good."

Beth opened her mouth to protest this, but Thomas held up a hand to dissuade her. "I'm happy with better. For her, it's a start. Let's not push it."

Who am I, to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

I am a wife, and a mother. A daughter and a friend. A writer and a dreamer. I am a gamer. I am a scrapbooker. I am a geek of epic proportions. I am qualified for the Pia Klick Award for Outstanding Achievements in Airheaded Speculations. I am a cook and a housewife. I am still learning what I want out of life. I am still growing and changing.

Who am I, to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

I am Lynn.

(And I indorsed this message.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Weather

Love... love is something else. It's the weather being good everyday, because wind and rain are just another kind of good weather. --Andrea Bruni, Casanova

This is a good analogy for fitness and health lifestyle changes, you know.

I know a lot of us get wrapped up in scale obsession. A loss can perk up a bad mood, and have us dancing in the streets for a whole week. A sunny day. A gain, and suddenly it doesn't matter how "good" we were, or how much exercise we got, or that we resisted the donuts in the break-room. We did "bad" that week, and our mood reflects it.

I know I'm a serious Scale Junkie. Ok, well, not that Scale Junkie. But you know what I mean... I let the scale dictate my mood... (I actually wrote a post about it, but it's a guest post at my dear friend, Mizfit's site, so I won't ruin it by telling you what I said, you'll just have to wait. Have I mentioned how excited I am to have been asked to write a guest post by someone as cool as Mizfit?? Look for it around the beginning of October. But you should read her site anyway, she's brilliant!)

[Complete sideline, I can't believe I forgot to mention this two weeks ago, god only knows where my brain has gone off to... I WON Thinking Thin's Biggest Loser contest! In three months, I lost a little under 12% of my body weight! I feel slightly weird bragging about this, and yet, I'm so damned hard on myself all the time, I really think I need to sit my ass down - my much SMALLER ASS, thank you very much - and take credit for what I've done. I've done WELL. Sunny day!]

And yet, even my gains aren't that bad, and they're not a steady trend. The scale's shown me at a fairly consistent loss. I've lost 51.6 pounds in the last 37 weeks. That's about 1.4 pounds per week.

I've had a remarkable year of good weather. And yes, it rains sometimes. (I have gains, or 3 week long plateaus.) And the wind blows. (I hear a piece of cheesecake calling my name. Or I nibble. Or I find myself standing in front of the fridge for the third time in 10 minutes, just positive that there will be something - anything - in there that I actually want to eat.)

But rain and wind are just another kind of good weather.

Yes, I have gains. It's unrealistic of me to think that I won't. Biology doesn't work in such short periods of time... a week isn't enough time to track a trend. And there are always the myriad reasons why there might be a gain; too much salt, time of the month, ate something that the body just wants to hold onto for a while... It's the long term, months, quarters, years, that show a real change in body.

If I look at my weekly weigh in line, it's a bit jagged. Up, down, down, down, up, same, same, down, down... If I look at my monthly weigh ins? It's a fairly steady downhill slope. The least amount of weight I've lost in a single month is 4.4 pounds... If I lost only that, every month, for the whole year, I will have lost 58 pounds by the end of the year.

Now, someone tell me why I have trouble seeing that as being anything less than an incredible accomplishment?

Yes, I stray off the strict path of the diet. So what? It's not the end of the world. So I had an over-sized slice of cheesecake this month... 23 points worth of cheesecake. So? It was wonderful, and I enjoyed every bite of it. I had a gain this week. So? I'm pretty sure I'll be back to losing this week upcoming. No harm, no foul.

That's the nice thing about this whole healthy lifestyle. It's a lifestyle. That means I only have the most final of deadlines. (Pun intended.) My lifestyle change isn't finished until I'm dead. That gives me an awful lot of time to ditch one slice of cheesecake. Or even a whole cheesecake.

There's no rush. The only deadlines around here are the ones I dictate to myself.

Well, self, it's time to cut us some slack.

Wind and rain are just another kind of good weather.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dashboard Confessional

Actually, this isn't about the band, but I really do like the name, and I'm feeling vaguely confessional today, so... there ya go...

The Cheats start to sneak up on you, have you ever noticed that? (Putting aside the fact that the word Cheating is weird and doesn't really apply well to a Food Plan... I mean, Cheating is to help you win through unfair means, and there's nothing winning about gaining weight, right? So why call it Cheating? Be that as it may, everyone knows what I mean when I say the word Cheat, so I'll just use it. It's like Organic food. Stupid. All food is Organic. If it were Inorganic, it'd be plastic, or rocks, or dirt or something. But then, I could write a whole article on my particular grammatical twidges, so I will just stop here before this becomes a rant.)

Where was I before I got distracted by the grammar police? Right. Cheating. Sneaking up on you.

They do. Creepy little things.

Back when you (and yes, by you I mean me.) start your diet, you're soooo good. You watch every bite you each, you write it down, you measure, you weigh. You make sure you get all your fruits and vegetables, and you avoid temptation.

After a few months of it, you may sit back and think (smugly, of course) "This isn't so hard. This isn't so bad. Why did it take me so long to get around to doing this?"

I think the first thing to go is measuring. Measuring takes time. And we're not just talking about the time to dig out the measuring cup, fill it up, scrape it out, dump it in your bowl. We're also talking about having to wash countless numbers of measuring cups. And I don't know about you, but I only have 2 of each cup size. So, if I have a cup of this and a cup of that and a cup of the third thing, I have to stop mid-meal prep to wash out a measuring cup.

So... we eyeball it. And our eyeball gets bigger, every time we have a bowl of ice cream.

The next thing... journaling. Writing down every nibble and bite we eat is BORING. It's also time consuming. Even with the computerized options. I mean, Weight Watchers has a mostly lovely site to enter your food journal, and yet, you either have to look up each food item as you enter it, or you can save things to favorites. And yet, your favorite list is alphabetized. And Brown Rice isn't under Brown, but under Cooked. For Cooked Brown Rice. Skim milk? Under Fat-free Skim Milk. So, it takes time to sort through the list... And certainly, once you skip a day of journaling, you feel like you have to "catch up" and it's hard to remember what you ate yesterday, but looking at those blank pages makes you feel guilty... vaguely uneasy...

It's just easier to shut the book and not write anything down. "Oh, I'll remember it."

Water water everywhere... and it's rather unpleasant to drink, at that. It either comes out of the tap and tastes vile (as well as having everyone's leftover prescription drugs in it!) or it comes out of a bottle and poisons the environment for 4,000 years. Or you drink it from a plastic cup and you're poisoning yourself. If you believe some reports. Or sometimes, not. It's complicated and confusing and yet, you're told to drink 6-8 cups a day, and honestly, do you really need that much? Some studies say you do, some say you don't. Caffeine is the enemy. No, no, it's fine. And you try to alternate between soda and water, just to make things easier, but jeez, you're already putting the Crystal Light in the water, so it's got the artificial sweetners in it. Does it matter if you're drinking all soda instead of water? Not to mention two of my water-bottles developed leaks and I had to throw them away.

So... soda it is.

Or those little bites of things. And this is the one that's really getting to me. Darcy still eats sugary cereals. Perhaps I'm a bad mom that I let her eat "normal" food while I eat "diet" food. She gets full fat hot dogs (on lowfat bread rolls, but still, have you looked at the calorie and fat content of an Oscar Meyer Weiner?) and ice cream and fruit snacks and full sugared cereals. On the other hand, she eats whatever we eat for dinner, and as she's just as apt to chose a banana or some grapes for a snack as a cupcake, I'm happy to let her learn to have a better relationship with food than I do. Is it so bad that she doesn't currently think of a cupcake as the root of all evil?

And yet, these things she eats... some of them are very tempting. (Not the hot dog, through. I don't really like hot dogs.) But... gummy lifesavers. Cereal. Full fat ice cream.

I don't take much.

Just a bite.

But it's a bite here. And a bite there. And it's getting more and more frequent.

I counted, yesterday.

I had four extra "bites". That's probably more than two points there. And because it's "only a bite", I'm certainly not writing it down. Or counting it as a point.

Back in college, I took Geology 101, colloquailly known as "Rocks for Jocks."

In that class, we defined Creep as "the slow, inexonerable movement of soil downhill."

I think I'm suffering from Dieter's Creep. "The slow, inexonerable movement of my eating plan downhill."

And the result?

I'm up .6 pounds this week. Creep. Creep. Creep.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Judge Not (Or Do the Math)

I am trying so hard not to be "that dieting girl." You know the one. The one who orders a salad when you go out to eat together and then spends the whole time casting nasty looks at your cheeseburger and milk shake. Like it's going to get off the plate, dance across the table, and shove itself down my throat. Or, worse yet, give it looks of covetousness. I try not to be the girl who says "My god, are you really going to eat that?" . o O (Wish I could...)

Which is not to say that I don't notice.

That's the weirdest thing. I never used to care what other people ate - not even when it looked particularly good, or there was something wrong with it. These days... oh, yes. I can tell you what my friend Leslie has eaten, every. single. time. we've gone out. I know. I know how fast Toby ate his chicken two weeks ago. I know how much of the pasta got stowed into the take-home box when Carol and I went to the beach. Hell, I know what the people ordered at Thomas's business lunch in Richmond a month ago and I didn't even GO to that lunch, I just remember because Thomas told me about it later.

This lifestyle change is like having an unrequited crush on that really cute guy that hangs out with the group, but has a girlfriend back home. I'm hyper aware. I know who he talked to and did he actually put a hand on her shoulder and what color shirt he was wearing the day he smiled at me between classes. I'd recognize him from two inches of his elbow visible from outside the door.

Being in love is wonderful, and yet, at the same time, it's agonizing. Especially when the object of your affection is completely unaware. And worse, if he was aware... well, then you have to deal with the social weirdness of being ignored by - but pretending you're not being ignored by, or that you don't care that you're being ignored by - someone in your social circle.

I'm aware of food smells. Everywhere I go. I can smell the Buffalo Hot Wings when we shop at the Target. The bookstore is filled with the sweet, warm aroma of coffee and various sticky rolls. Driving to the mall the other day took us right past the Red Robin.

I am fervently grateful that we TiVo everything that I actually want to watch, because food commercials are like watching porn... that slow, delicate swirl of fatty ground beef and slick, melting cheese and... or money shots of ice cream, chocolate syrup dripping over delectable mounds of whipped cream with a bright red cherry peeking out...

I am more aware of people who are eating while driving their cars than I am conscious of people who are yapping on the cell phone. It's a quick flicker of the eye, but I saw that boy in the mall, licking melted ice cream off his arm. The woman in front of me at the grocery store? I tallied up how many packages of junk food she had and wondered vaguely if she ever ate a vegetable in her life.

I don't really like that I'm this hyper-aware of things. It's crazy-making.

Last night, in our Weight Watcher's meeting, we talked about 0 + 0 = 2.

Admittedly, it's a topic better left to Flex people, because it doesn't quite apply to Core.

Zero Point Foods.

If you've ever done Weight Watchers, or even known someone who's done it, you're at least passing familiar with the Zero Point foods. Baby Carrots. Sugar free jello. High fiber cereals. Fat free whipped cream. That butter spray stuff. Salad Spritzer Dressing. Salsa.

Zero point foods is where the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom becomes apparent.

The Intelligent thing to do is to take advantage of the Zero Point foods. Mix sugar free jello mix together with fat free whipped cream and eat the whole tub as a snack. Have a piece of broccoli, but saturate it with 20 butter sprays. This maximizes the food you eat, without costing you any points. And then, you can go ahead and eat the rest of your 27 points.

And be completely floored when you gain five pounds.

Two tablespoons of fat free whipped cream is Zero Points. The whole tub? About 8 points. (0 + 0)25 = 8.

Beth was twice disappointed with Thomas and I last night. Because we are Wise (In addition to being intelligent, which is, honestly, quite a lot of fun when you can fuddle someone.)

"So who uses that spray on butter?" I raise my hand.

Triumph! "And how often do you replace it?"

"About once every 3 or 4 months."

"Oh." She moves on to the girl behind me. "And you?"

"Every two weeks."

"Aha! There's 48 points in that container!"

Later in the meeting. "Let's see... a serving size of sugar free jello is 1/2 a cup. Who actually eats just half a cup of jello?"

Thomas raises his hand. "Um, we do."

Beth whirls on him. "You do?"

Thomas points to me, then to Darcy, then to himself. "One. Two. Three."

"And who gets the other serving?"

"Thomas does -" I say, watching her eyes light up again. "- for lunch. The next day."

"Wow, you guys are no fun."

Thomas smirks. "Sixty pounds lost." He points to me. "Fifty pounds lost."

Of course, I later confessed that I do have to limit myself. Even on Core, where all Core foods are free.

I can only eat 1/4 of an avocado per day. I love avocados. They're filling and creamy and tasty. I could sit down with a spoon and the salt shaker and eat an entire one in a sitting. On flex points, that's 8 points right there, in one tiny green fruit. On Core? Free! But if I eat a whole avocado in one day, I'll just eat another one tomorrow. And one the day after that. And one on Friday.

And I won't lose weight. This week, I was down another 1.4 pounds.

Of course, if I was eating 4 avocados in a week, I probably wouldn't be eying your cheeseburger, either.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It's Just You

Me: "Is it hot in here?"

Other person looks around, as if the temperature is written in mid air in glowing golden letters. Or to see if Lucifer might have opened up a pawn shop in the corner of the room. Or something. I never can figure out what they're looking for.

"Nope. It's just you."

There's nothing quite designed like that phrase to make one feel just a tiny bit on the freakish, outcast side.

It's just you.

It's not really been a great couple of days for me, and my mood is bouncing all over the place like a flamingo with a yo-yo. (Is it just me, or do those guys remind you of the instant aliens, just add water from Bugs Bunny? I know! I know! It's just me.)

Thursday night, cat has a seizure. Friday night, cat has a seizure. Saturday day, air conditioner springs leak. Maintenance looks at it, says "We'll fix it on Monday. Empty out this closet." Saturday night, husband has screaming nightmare. Sunday day. Water still dripping. Clean out the closet. Now I have all my picnic supplies, cookbooks, extra bookshelf, folding chairs and table scattered hither and yon in every available smidge of space left in this apartment. (No, they haven't come over to fix it yet. No, I'm not shocked.) Sunday afternoon, husband finally admits problem with his hair.

Why do they never tell you these things? Thomas has lost 60+ pounds in the last eight months. He's also lost about 10% of his hair. He's not bald, yet, but is decidedly - noticeably, one might say - thinning. The lovely pony-tail he had in the back, which he used to wrap a band around three times, now needs five twists to keep it in place. His hairline is receding.

Him: "Is it just me, or is my hairline thinning."

Me: "No, it's not just you. It definitely is." Of course it's not just him. I haven't wanted to mention it, but I'd noticed it a while ago. Men can be very... weird about things like that and I figured it wasn't a safe conversation topic. Mine's thinning, too, but it's not quite so noticeable. Probably because I had overly thick hair to start with, and now I have "normal". His stylist recommended some product, which I don't know if I hope works or not. I mean, I don't want him to lose his hair, but sheeeeyit, this stuff is not cheap.

Also Sunday afternoon, we went through clothing again. Thomas is down to wearing size 34-32 pants. So, the 40-32s had to go. They just were not doing attractive things to his rear end. When we finished going through his business shirts and pants, he has... 6 shirts and 3 pairs of pants that fit. This is... not enough. Again. So we have to go out and buy some new pants and new shirts, and my god, why didn't anyone warn us that losing weight was going to be so expensive?

I have... two dresses left. One sweater. That's it. Even the medium broomstick skirt I had in college doesn't fit anymore. (Yes, before you ask, this would be the one that I had a Junebug fly up and scare the living hell out of me.) After listening to me bitch for a while about how much better Thomas looks than I do, he made me try on my wedding gown. It doesn't fit. And my god, is it heavy! Did I really walk around all day wearing that thing? There's at least 5 extra inches in the thing.

"Still think you look fat?"


"Well, you're the only one who does."

It's just you.

Several years ago, when I was going to a psychiatrist on a regular basis, I was diagnosed as mild manic-depressive with situational anxiety.

Situational anxiety always sounds incredibly lame to me. Yes, if there's a situation, I'll be anxious about it. Aren't most people?

No, it's just you.

Essentially what it means is that I overreact. A normal situation can get me into serious depression. What a normal person would consider stressful, I can go into non-functional behavior patterns. (Being deep in debt, for instance, has been known to drive me to hiding bills in the trunk of my car. Because, obviously, if I don't pay the bills, I'll have money. Don't ask me, I don't understand it myself, and I live with it.)

The straw that broke the camel's back.

Breaking strain.

It's just you.

Despite that, I'm fairly flexible. Which is how my mood can go from so happy to seriously scraping the barrel is such a short amount of time. I used to be on medication to regulate my mood swings, but I took myself off it. I'd rather feel bad than feel nothing at all. Taking medication was like... walking around with grey sunglasses on, wrapped in a layer of cotton. Nothing really mattered.

Today... I'm mostly okay. A bit tired. Truly batty from water dripping in my apartment. But okay.

So, the only question is; is it hot in here, or is it just me?

It's just you.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall

[Just so you know, I started writing this entry at 5am, after being awake for over an hour. My cat had another seizure, only a day after the last one. Before that, he hadn't had one for a few months, and before that, a couple years. I don't know if he's getting worse, or what. It's scary, and I feel very helpless. And I still can't afford to give him anti-seizure medication. So, I'm awake, and I don't want to be thinking about things I can't do anything about, so I'll write a blog entry about something else entirely. I may not finish it this morning, though. I'm already getting sort of bleary-eyed and desperately wanting to go back to bed. However, if I go back to bed right now, I'll just stare at the wall in that sort of squinty where-are-my-glasses way and worry and worry, and if I'm just going to worry and toss and turn and worry some more, I may as well get up so I don't bother Thomas. Right? Yeah.]

The mirror, these days.

Kinda not my friend.

I suppose I'm just as happy that it can't actually talk to me, although I imagine it does. In that game-show-host false cheerful voice as it tells me how terrible I look. It gleefully points out, in loving detail, every lump and bump, every roll and wrinkle.

I guess it's still holding a grudge.

Because I ignored it.

For years.

I still don't own a full length mirror. I haven't had regular access to a full length mirror since I left Hometown (My own private corner of hell. When I die and go to hell, I'll be back in Hometown with a bunch of rednecks who think hanging out in the Safeway parking lot drinking beer out of Dr. Pepper bottles is the height of cool.)

I have never, ever, liked the mirror. In high school I stood in front of it and counted zits. Seriously, I know everyone makes jokes about being a spotty faced teenager. My teenage acne was the sort they photograph and put in magazines as a "before" picture for Acutane. In fact, I've been on Acutane. My face actually wasn't as bad as my back, which was just beyond nasty. I'm rather desperately hoping that my daughter inherits my husband's complexion which is gorgeous and creamy-smooth and feels just lovely under my fingertips, rather than my own. Which is still somewhat vile, and I have scars the likes of which you'd have to see to believe, and I'm not going to show them to you.

And, like many things that I don't like, I developed a good case of Wally-vision.

No, not that one.

I think I've mentioned that my mom does Historical Reinacting. If not, she does. Basically, she dresses up in hand-made clothing from the 18th century and putters around with tents and campfires on weekends. It's an expensive and uncomfortable form of escapism, but you know, we all need to make an escape from time to time, right?

Anyway, back when I was still in middle-school, early high-school, she used to drag me around to these events with her. I did not - repeat did NOT - like them. It was hot. It was cold. It was raining. There were bugs. I didn't like sleeping on the ground. I didn't like washing cast iron pots in cold water. It was dirty. I did not like sleeping on piles of straw that poked through the canvas groundsheets. I didn't like eating anything that had been cooked in a washed-in-cold-water cast iron pot. Girl of creature comforts I was then, and I am still. Roughing it is not my idea of fun.

However... in our unit (the First Virginia Regiment, in case you care) we had this guy, Wally. Wally was... well, he was very enthusiastic about reinacting and he was a bit of nazi. (If you do reinacting, or SCA or anything like that, you'll find people divided into two camps. The "If they'd have had it, they'd have used it" people and the fashion police who yell at everyone for being inaccurate.) He was, however, also about five foot five and skinny as a rail. And once, after fussing at someone who had a wrong-century something-or-other, he got clocked with a perfectly era-accurate fist.

After which he developed the idea of Wally-vision.

"I do not like what I see over there. However, I cannot do anything about not liking it. If I look over there, I will be angry. I do not want to be angry. Therefore, I will not look over there."

Wally Vision. Do not look at things you do not like, unless you are willing to do something about them.

I had Wally Vision for the mirror.

I also had it for photographs.

I was looking through my wedding album the other day (My daughter likes to look at the pictures. I find it very amusing that - because I honestly couldn't remember the man's name - when she asked who the priest was, I said "Oh, that's the guy who married us," and Darcy now names him as "Guy Merrysus.") and realizing with a start that I have several pictures from our honeymoon. And we are actually in... none of them. It could have been anyone's vacation. It was mine, and while it wasn't the best time I've ever had in my life (my mother, god bless her, gave us a vacation in Jamaica, conveniently forgetting that I am allergic to pineapples, my husband is allergic to shellfish, and neither of us likes to swim. So, mostly we drank a lot.) it was mine. And it's like I never even existed.

(Have I mentioned that my dream is to someday have a renewal of vows celebration so I can wear a wedding dress again and look pretty, as opposed to looking somewhat like a silk wrapped marshmallow?)

Other people have pictures of me, but I don't really have many of my own. I tend to hide behind the camera. And I don't take pictures of my husband unless he's not paying attention because while I am camera shy, he is camera hostile. Mostly I have pictures of our daughter, and pictures of animals at the zoo, and pictures of my stuff.

Looking through my photo albums can be a surreal experience. This is my life. But where am I? Jesus, how could you miss me, I was freaking enormous. And yet... there I'm not.

To be, or not to be (fat)... if a fat girl falls over in the woods and no one hears her, does she exist? Cogito, ergo sum fat.

There are three mirrors in my house. One in the bathroom, over the sink. One in Darcy's room (you've all seen this one, it's the one I take my progress pictures in.) Technically, that's my dresser. I know, I'm a bad mother, having my clothes in my daughter's room. But really, there's no space in our room for two dressers. Our old apartment was much larger and we had enough room in the master bedroom for our enormous king-sized bed, Thomas's dresser and my dresser. This apartment? Not so much. One in the bedroom. We have a pier-cabinet instead of a headboard, and I love it for all it's nooks and drawers. But when we got it, I was very uncomfortable with the huge mirror that made up the entire wall across the king-sized mattress.

However, I'd been doing the mirror-slide for years by that point, so after we got the new bed, it only took me about two weeks before I was doing the mirror-slide in the bedroom as well.

Do you know the mirror-slide? It's that quick glance in the mirror; don't meet your own gaze, don't really look too hard. Hair's combed. Teeth are brushed. Clothes are not wrinkled or spotted. Great, move along, nothing to see here.

I've become an expert in the mirror-slide. Wally Vision. I can't do anything about my weight. Looking at myself in the mirror only makes me unhappy. I don't wish to be unhappy. Since I can't do anything about my weight, I may as well do something about being unhappy. I won't look.

And I didn't.

For years.

I mean, it's not like I didn't know that I was fat. I couldn't possibly not know it. When you're sneaking up on 250 pounds, you know it. When you worry about walking around in shops full of breakable things because you just know you're going to bump a shelf, you know it. Do they even make clothes anymore that "shrink in the wash" or is that just an excuse?

Wally Vision. What I see is going to make me unhappy.

I don't want to be unhappy.

Ergo, I won't look.

The mirror, as I've said, is mad at me.

And after years of neglect, I find myself desperately trying to salvage a relationship that died. Died, was buried, decomposed, and here I am, digging it up again and crying into the maggoty remains to please, please forgive me, I'm sorry, I didn't know...

Baby come back
You can blame it all on me
I was wrong
And I just can't live without you
Why can I not see in the mirror the person I know is there? Why why why?

I look in the mirror, I take a picture and all I see...

Han, mi boogie...

I know I've lost 50 pounds. (Fifty? Really? My god, when did that happen. Oh, right, the last eight months of my life which have been a blur of weigh ins and anticipating weigh ins and dreading weigh ins and... yeah. If I had to sum up my life for the last eight months, it would be "talked about my weight entirely too much.")

I know I've lost 11+ inches from my waist.

I know I'm wearing a medium shirt and size 14 shorts.

I know I'm now shopping the upper end of the "women's" clothing department, instead of the "plus".

I know.

And yet...

Me dwana no bata. Chone manya weesh asha beecho. E chu ta! Bantha poodoo!

The mirror hates me. That's really all there is to it.

It hasn't forgiven me for so many years of neglect.

And frankly, why should it?

But, we're going to councelling now, and I have hopes for a reconcilliation. At least he hasn't moved out yet. So there's still hope.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dem Bones

Hello again.

I hope I didn't leave everyone panting in anticipation of a wondrous and insightful blog posting.

[Ok, if I'm going to be honest, and I'm always honest (well, unless you ask me if you look good in yellow because no one does, ok?), I was. Hoping, that is. I always like to think of my readers as at least a little bit impressed with my writing... ]

That being said, I'm not sure I have any earth shattering insight this week. Well, not for anyone else.

I've been happy this week.

Pretty much unreservedly happy.

It's not a state I'm well accustomed to walking about in. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I have a bad tendency to both attract and borrow trouble. As if one thing weren't enough. If something's not going wrong, I start wondering when something will. In the hour of the wolf, I find myself mentally rehearsing worst-case scenarios. I plan what I'll say to Thomas's mother, should Thomas get into a car accident and die on the way home from work. I hold long, imaginary conversations in which I explain to my father that his only grandchild has died. Or gotten cancer. I have protracted and totally fabricated arguments with Thomas when I discover he has been cheating on me.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday. -- Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen), Baz Luhrman

Good advice. If I can ever figure out how to do it, I'll let you know.

But this week has been a strange sort of quiet in my mental landscape.

I haven't been entertaining myself in my normal macabre fashion and envisioning disasters. I haven't been stressed out about my weight loss. I haven't been looking around when Thomas and I go for walks, wondering who's thinking "My god, she really let herself go."

(This being my most recent paranoia. Thomas is very close to his goal weight, like less than 18 pounds away, and he looks fantastic. And I... have between 33 and 44 more pounds to lose, depending on where I decide I'm happy with my goal weight. So I still look fat. And with the pre-schooler and walking around, I'm just positive that complete strangers probably think that Thomas is a good husband and concerned for his fat wife's health and dragging me out to get some exercise. And it's not that way at all, and I get so angry about what I imagine people are thinking... stupid stupid stupid. But there it is.)

Maybe it was the doctor. Splan looked at my charts and my bloodwork. He asked about my weight loss and my goals. And he said, "Well, you look great. Very healthy. I don't see any reason why you shouldn't be able to easily make it to 125." He gave me an emergency inhaler, over a week ago, in case I needed it. I've used it three times, for vague tightenings in my chest. But not since Sunday. I really feel healthy. And that's a strange thing for me.

I mean, I've known my asthma was getting better, but I still thought of myself as being ill. It's been part of my self-identity for so long. "I'm a severe asthmatic." If you asked me to define myself, it would have been on the list. I don't think I can even find the words to tell you how strange and wonderful it feels to be able to draw a strike through.

I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a writer.
I am a severe asthmatic.
I am a dreamer.
I am a snarky babe.

Maybe it was Tuesday. I do the laundry every other week by packing it all up and taking it to the laundrymat. The same girl, Bonnie, is working there every week. She's a tiny little thing, with bleach blonde hair and a ready smile. I usually wave to her when I come in, and then I load the washers and go walk around the parkinglot, come back, load the dryers, and then walk some more. It gives me something to do and I like the alone time. This week, while I was taking my clothes out of the dryer and sorting them into baskets, she came over to me.

"Have you lost a lot of weight?" she asks.

"Hmm? Yeah," I said, tossing a t-shirt into the blue basket.

"I can tell. Your clothes are smaller." I find this deliciously funny, since she is the laundry girl, that what she noticed were my clothes.

"Thank you. About fifty pounds now."

"You look great. Your skin is just beautiful, too... very radiant."

Who would have thought the girl I see twice a month would even remember me, much less notice that I'd lost weight?

Or maybe it was yesterday. The UPS guy knocked on the door and asked me to hold a package for my across the hall neighbor. It's the same UPS guy I've answered the door to for almost four and a half years now.

"Have you been working out?" he asks me as I sign for the package.

Maybe it's just that I've hit a huge goal. Fifty. Pounds.

There's really not that much difference between forty-nine pounds and fifty pounds. One tiny little pound. Sixteen ounces. And yet...

But fifty pounds seems... huge. Mind-boggling. Impressive. And wonderful. And scary. All at the same time.

Maybe it's being merely overweight now, instead of obese.

Maybe it's the somewhat annoying thing that both Thomas and I have discovered recently. We have bones.

I mean, not that we didn't know that, honestly. I've broken enough bones to recognize that they are in there. Somewhere.

But now, they stick out in weird places. Thomas has discovered that he can't slouch over in his chair anymore because it hurts his tailbone. I have trouble sleeping in my normal curled up position because my ribs aren't padded enough. I have collarbones. And a sternum. I knew that thing was there, somewhere, but I haven't felt it in years.

Maybe it's that eight months has passed and I'm still doing this.

If you could have gotten me to answer honestly, in January, what I thought our chances were... I wouldn't have been kind. I would have guessed us at lucky if we managed to lose 35 pounds each by year's end. And that Thomas probably would have given it up as a bad job by April, and me shortly after he did. I don't even know that I wanted to lose the weight, but more that I wanted to be able to say that I tried. I really did, and it didn't work out, and now I'll work on self-acceptance.

But it has worked. And we are doing it. And I feel more comfortable and confident about our ability to keep doing it.

In 8 months:

I have lost 50.8 pounds. I have lost 3 inches from my upper arm. I have lost 11.5 inches from my waist. I have lost eleven inches from my hips. I have lost six inches from my thigh. I have gone from wearing 24s and 3XL shirts to wearing 14s and medium shirts. I have gone from taking $90 worth of medication a month to none. I have gone from sitting in front of the computer absent-mindedly eating 8 or 10 (or 15, or the whole damn bag!) mini twix bars to gaining a horrendous chewing gum habit, and drinking water. I no longer avoid going outdoors. I'm tanned. (And while I know that I probably shouldn't be happy about that, I am. I like the way I look with a tan.) I have actual muscles in my arms and legs. I no longer have a double chin. I don't have severe leg cramps any more, the kind that wake you up at 3am gasping in agony. I still sweat profusely if I'm hot, but I no longer sweat through a t-shirt in an air-conditioned room. I don't mind being outside in 95+ degree heat, playing with my child.

My goals, set earlier this year, were to be comfortably in size 14s by the end of summer (Sept 21st is end of summer, tyvm) and to lose my 3rd 10% by the end of year, being in size 12s by end of year. I've made it early to the 14s, with more than a month to go since I bought them. And my 3rd 10% is 161, which is 6 - 7 pounds away. I don't see any reason why I can't do this.

I'd be lying if I said that the idea of maintenance doesn't scare me, some. But it's less scary than it used to be. Do I think I can do this for the rest of my life? Yeah. I do.

I do.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Placeholder Post

Back when my mom got married, in New Orleans, Thomas and I had a great vacation down in the Big Easy. For whatever reason, despite his complaints about my stuffed animals, Thomas fell in love with a giant alligator stuffed animal. The thing was huge. Like four feet long.

There was no way we were going to be able to get it on an airplane, so we didn't buy it. But for weeks afterwards, Thomas complained about not having it.

So I bought it for him, for his birthday.

However, first in locating one that I could buy on the internet, arranging shipping with this tiny little shop on New Orleans, it wasn't going to be on time for his birthday. So, since I didn't want to give him nothing for his birthday, and I couldn't really afford two birthday presents, I got him a placeholder alligator. About 8 inches long and rather squashy, it was cheap and cute, and I managed to get it in the day before his birthday so I could wrap it.

Today's post is a placeholder post. Something tiny and small and a cute substitute for a longer, more thought provoking post later. I have a lot of things I want to talk about; I just haven't had the time to sit down and work on them.

So, I will leave you with the following bits of news, and the promise of a bigger, better post later.

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